Los Angeles (E! Online) –
Just days after announcing a second installment of the hugely successful Farrah's Story, E! News has confirmed that footage of Farrah Fawcett's harrowing battle with cancer will not be airing anytime soon.
The spokesman for both Ryan O'Neal and Alana Stewart tells us, “There are no plans in place for a second documentary at this time.” Even further, the rep says that Farrah's Story part two has never been in the works, despite what Fawcett's longtime beau reported on Monday morning's Today show.
Said O'Neal, “We haven't stopped filming, and we're going to make a second installment on her life eventually.”
No word on whether the remaining footage is being held until a later time, but for now the next chapter in Farrah's Story will remain untold.
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Archive for May 24th, 2009
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
In the latest round of the increasingly heated intra-GOP feud, former Secretary of State Colin Powell Sunday defended his Republican credentials and fired back at radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney, saying the party had to expand beyond its conservative base.
“Rush will not get his wish and Mr. Cheney was misinformed – I am still a Republican,” Powell said in a much-anticipated interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” two weeks after Cheney suggested on the same show that the retired general had left the party by endorsing Barack Obama last fall.
Powell outlined his party bona fides, noting his votes for and services under a string of Republican presidents, and said it was not up to Cheney and Limbaugh – the radio host has kept up a steady drumbeat of criticism since Powell's cross-party endorsement last year – to determine who belonged in the GOP.
“Neither [Cheney] nor Rush Limbaugh are members of the membership committee of the Republican Party,” Powell said.
Powell suggested that there were a number of moderates in the party who shared his concerns but were hesitant to speak out “because if you are vocal you’re going to get your voice mail filled up and get lots of e-mails like I did.”
One such Republican did seem to take Powell's side of the fight today, as Former Homeland Security Secretary and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge also joined in the criticism of Limbaugh Sunday.
“I think Rush articulates his point of view in ways that offend very many,” Ridge said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“It's a matter of language and a matter of how you use words. It does get the base all fired up and he's got a strong following. But personally, if he would listen to me and I doubt if he would, the notion is express yourselves but let's respect others opinions and let's not be divisive.”
Ridge also split with Cheney on the vice president's claim that Obama's policies were making Americans less safe. “I do not” agree with that, Ridge plainly told CNN's John King, adding, “Yeah, I disagree with Dick Cheney.”
Powell also found a less likely ally in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said on “Meet the Press” that “I don't want to pick a fight with Dick Cheney, but the fact is, the Republican party has to be a broad party that appeals across the country,” adding, “To be a national party, you have to have a big enough tent that you inevitably have fights inside the tent.”
Pointing to President Ronald Reagan's at appealing to Democrats and independents as he carried 49 states in 1984, Gingrich – himself a potential 2012 contender for the party's presidential nomination – concluded, “I think Republicans are going to be very foolish if thy run around deciding that they're going to see how much they can purge us down to the smallest possible space.”
It's a point Powell made, even as reiterated his commitment to the GOP, stressing that the party had to broaden itself to stay relevant, framing his critique as the political version of a military after-action report following last year’s election.
“I think the Republican Party has to take a hard look at itself and decide what kind of party are we,” Powell said. “Are we simply moving further to the right and by so doing opening up the right of center and the center to be taken over by independents and be taken over by Democrats.”
Powell – who held up the late Jack Kemp as a model for the party, a conservative who was inclusive – also had some choice words for his two critics.
Reiterating his support for closing down the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Powell said Cheney’s opposition was an affront to Obama’s predecessor as well.
“Mr. Cheney is not only disagreeing with President Obama’s policy, he’s disagreeing with President Bush’s policy,” Powell said.
And, citing Cheney’s suggestion in a speech last week that President Obama only wanted to close Guantanamo to make Europeans happy, Powell said, “No, we’re doing it to reassure Europeans, Muslims, Arabs, all the people around the world, that we’re a nation of law.”
Lending credence to Democrats argument that moving the Gitmo detainees to American soil would not put the country in danger, Powell said he was “not terribly worried about one of these guys going to a super lock-up.”
As for Limbaugh – whose name Powell pronounced as “Lim-bow” – the former secretary of state said he was an “entertainer” but who had such influence over the party that officials had to live in fear of offending him.
He lamented that RNC Chairman Michael Steele had “to lay prostrate on the floor” apologizing to Limbaugh after criticizing him and that other GOP members of Congress had to be similarly repentant after taking on the radio host.
“Well, if he’s out there he should be subject to criticism, just as I’m subject to criticism,” Powell said.
Steele, who's giving on Tuesday what the RNC is touting as a major speech out his vision for the party, said in an interview this week with “Fox News,” that “I want a party that speaks to people. The idea that we only narrowly speak to one segment of the population is boneheaded and it's not reflective of the history of this party,” adding, “How is kicking Colin Powell out or kicking Dick Cheney out or Rush Limbaugh in going to feed a child who's hungry tonight?”
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Karl Rove dismissed the dust-up between Cheney and Powell, since “neither one of those two are candidates,” and deemed the fight “a false debate that Washington loves.”
Asked if he agreed with Cheney's contention that Limbaugh was better for the Republican Party than Powell, Rove said: “Yes, if I had to pick between the two.”
WASHINGTON – Dick Cheney refuses to be a has-been.
The former vice president’s voice appears to carry even more weight than it did in the waning days of the Bush administration.
Some people want him to be quiet and disappear. Others are cheering the public relations tour that Cheney began halfway through President Barack Obama’s first 100 days, defending the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation tactics and other anti-terrorism policies.
Vice presidents typically fade away quietly.
When Obama released memos detailing Bush-era interrogation techniques and wouldn’t completely rule out prosecuting or disciplining former Bush administration officials, Cheney couldn’t stay silent.
“It wasn’t like on Jan. 21, he planned that he was going to speak out in this way,” said Cheney’s daughter, Liz, a former State Department official who has traveled extensively with her father. “It was driven by events and I think he will continue to do it if he feels it’s important to the public debate.”
“You just have to know the way he works,” she said. “He was watching what was going on. He knew it was wrong and he knew he had an obligation to say it was wrong.”
The Cheney camp says it’s not about politics.
In Washington, however, everything is about politics and Cheney’s decision to make his case on talk shows and deliver speeches at think tanks cuts both ways. His message fires up conservatives, but also rallies Democratic opponents who don’t miss an opportunity to portray the unpopular Cheney as the lead spokesman of the Republican Party.
“I would think the Republicans ought to be shy in using him as their front,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He dismisses Cheney’s appearances as if they were old TV reruns.
Even some prominent Republicans aren’t too happy about Cheney’s message.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first homeland security chief, was asked if he agreed with Cheney’s assertion that the Obama administration has made the country less safe. “I do not,” Ridge said.
Cheney supporters say the former vice president has received an outpouring of supportive e-mails, calls and comments from the military community, the families of those who died in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and from people at the CIA, which helped carry out the interrogation program.
His backers claim Cheney is having an impact. They point to Obama’s move to reverse himself and fight the court-ordered release of prisoner abuse photos and his decision to revive military tribunals for some suspected terrorists, although he is revamping how that system would work.
They also cite the Democratic-controlled Senate’s vote to deny Obama 80 million to close the prison camp in eight months, as the president promised.
“It’s nothing personal. It’s nothing political. It’s not legacy,” said former Cheney counselor Mary Matalin, who has known Cheney for three decades. “There’s one and only one thing that’s animating and motivating his advocacy and that’s Obama’s behavior relative to these security policies — the release of the legal memos and the open-endedness of the potential prosecution of the intelligence gatherers or the lawyers.”
Matalin said Cheney wouldn’t stop talking even if leaders of the GOP asked him to.
Cheney, 68, has squeezed public defense of Bush policies into his private life, which he splits between his suburban Washington home in McLean, Va. and his homes in Wyoming and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
He still has Secret Service protection, but drives himself whenever possible. He spends time working on his memoirs and at his transition office in McLean. Every few weeks he hosts lunch for guests around his kitchen table to discuss foreign policy and national security issues. He is with his grandchildren at softball games and Sunday dinners. On Mother’s Day, he brought the youngsters all the makings for s’mores and roasted marshmallows.
Cheney has always been straightforward. But when he walked in Bush’s shadow he had to temper his public remarks, stay on the White House message. He could manipulate the levers of powers behind the scenes, which conjured up the image of “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader.
Out of office, he has turned to the podium, television news shows and interviews to insert himself in the public debate — and not only on national security.
In first television interview after leaving office, just 54 days after Obama was sworn in, Cheney said that it’s not fair to blame the economic woes on the Bush administration. Cheney said it was a global financial problem that he feared the new administration could use to justify a massive expansion in the government and meddling in the private sector.
“I don’t know if this is some sort of psychological liberation,” said Joel Goldstein, a law professor at Saint Louis University who has written extensively on the vice presidency. “Now he can come out of the undisclosed locations. He’s his own man again. He’s free from those restraints that are inherent in being vice president — even if you are the most powerful vice president in history.”
It’s deja vu for Cheney, who once was on the other end of a former vice president unplugged.
In September 2004, Al Gore, the cautious campaigner, transformed into a Bush basher, faulting Cheney for “sleazy and despicable” criticism of the Democrats. A Bush White House spokesman dismissively responded: “Consider the source.”
The tables have turned. At the White House on Friday, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said it appears that Cheney’s latest speech was an extension of the same argument that occurred “inside these walls” for many years during the administration in which he served for eight years.
INDIANAPOLIS – Pumping his fist as he took the checkered flag and breaking down in tears when he was done, Helio Castroneves capped a perfect month of May with the biggest win of all Sunday at the Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves became the ninth driver to win the historic race three times, and his timing couldn’t have been better. Just 5 1/2 weeks ago, he was aquitted of most charges at a federal tax evasion trial, and the remaining count was thrown out on Friday.
Instead of going to prison for as long as six years, Castroneves pulled his red-and-white machine into Victory Lane at the Brickyard. No wonder he was sobbing when team owner Roger Penske leaned in to give him a hug.
“Thanks for giving my life back,” the 34-year-old Brazilian told his boss, who earned his record 15th win at Indy.
Castroneves completed a clean sweep of every Indy prize, also claiming the pole position and winning the pit-stop competition. Throw in the federal government’s decision to drop the last of the tax charges just minutes before he went out for the final practice, and “this is the best month of May ever,” said Castroneves, now only one win away from joining the most elite group of all: four-time Indy winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
Castroneves pulled away over the final laps to beat Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick, who eclipsed her historic fourth-place finish as a rookie in 2005 by crossing the strip of bricks in third.
Patrick, however, was never really a factor.
This day belonged to Castroneves, who pumped his fist all the way down the final straightaway.
“I want to climb the fence,” said the driver known as “Spiderman,” referring to his signature celebration.
Then he did just that, climbing out of his car after the victory lap and scaling the fence along the main grandstand with his pit crew. Someone tossed him a green-and-yellow Brazilian flag.
The victory was clearly popular with the quarter of a million fans who turned out on a sweltering late spring day and were on their feet, cheering and waving these caps as Castroneves sped around the 2.5-mile oval for the final time.
“You guys kept me strong,” Castroneves told the crowd. “You guys are the best. I’m honored to have fans like you.
“Let’s celebrate now!”
Crashes took out some of the biggest names in the field, including Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. The most frightening wreck occurred on lap 173, when Brazilians Vitor Meira and Raphael Matos got together going into the first turn.
Meira’s car veered head-on into the padded outside wall. He was removed from the car, put on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital complaining of severe lower-back pain.
The lengthy caution period ensured that everyone had enough fuel to get to the finish. When the race restarted with 17 laps to go, Castroneves got a great jump on Wheldon and Patrick and pulled away to win by nearly 2 seconds, more than two football fields.
“I had a really good car,” Patrick said. “Oh well, what are you going to do?”
Added Wheldon, “At the end, I just didn’t have enough for Helio.”
It was clear from the start that Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing had the strongest cars. Castroneves led 66 laps and teammate Ryan Briscoe ran out front for 11. On the Ganassi side, defending 500 champion Scott Dixon set the pace for a race-best 73 laps, while his teammate Dario Franchitti, who won in 2007 and returned to Indy this year after a disappointing foray into stock cars, led the other 50.
Dixon’s powerful car lost its edge near the end of the more than three-hour race and he slipped back to sixth, failing to become the first driver since Castroneves in 2001-02 to win back-to-back 500s. Franchitti had a problem in the pits late in the race and couldn’t make up the lost ground, settling for seventh.
Two drivers who don’t even have full-time rides in the IndyCar series crossed the line behind Patrick. Townsend Bell was fourth, while Will Power — who filled in while Castroneves was on trial — finished fifth in a third Team Penske car.
It may have been a perfect month for Castroneves, but it wasn’t a perfect race. He had problems with his radio all day, and there were gearbox issues when he came into the pits. But he knew what to do on the track.
“Once I got in front, it was never look back,” Castroneves said.
Rounding out the top 10 were Ed Carpenter in eighth, Paul Tracy and Hideki Mutoh. Tracy was racing at Indy for the first time since the disputed 2002 event, when a late caution froze the field just as he was going past Castroneves. The outspoken Canadian is still convinced he won that race — his appeal was turned down — but there was no doubt about this one.
It was Castroneves all the way.
The race had barely started when Mario Moraes drifted to the outside and made contact with Andretti, sending both cars into the wall going into the second turn.
The Andretti curse remains in force at Indy. Marco said there was nothing he could do when the 20-year-old Moraes pinched him into the wall.
“The kid doesn’t get it, and he never will,” said Andretti, only 22 himself. “He’s just clueless out there.”
Neither driver was hurt, and Andretti even got back on the track for 56 laps to finish 30th in the 33-car field.
Rahal, son of 1986 Indy winner Bobby Rahal, crashed on the 56th lap in virtually the same spot where he slammed into the wall a year earlier. He started fourth and was running fifth when his car went high coming out of the fourth turn and slammed the barrier. He was not injured.
“I got mid-corner and the car just went straight. It was the same exact thing as last year,” the 20-year-old Rahal said. “I felt I was being patient. I thought I wasn’t going to have any problem, and all of a sudden it just went.”
Kanaan was running third when something snapped in his No. 11 car, sending it straight into the wall at about 190 mph. The helpless machine slid through the third turn and slammed into the SAFER barrier again before finally coming to a stop.
The popular Kanaan wasn’t seriously hurt, but he sure was aching after the big hit.
“I went on quite a ride,” he said after getting checked at the infield media center. “I knew it was going to be a big one.”
It was another painful Indy moment for the hard-luck Brazilian, who had led the race a record seven straight years — but is still seeking his first 500 win.
“Me and this place,” Kanaan said with a sigh.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
Clay Aiken has retracted his claws regarding that other American Idol runner-up, Adam Lambert.
The Broadway star took to his members-only blog last night to address his earlier statements about the vocal styling's of Lambert. Explained Aiken, “I obviously meant it as a colorful statement to imply that I did not enjoy what I heard. Any performer hopes that their music will appeal to all people, but no singer realistically expects it to.”
And while no one believed that Aiken literally bled from his ears at the sound of Lambert's voice, the singer chose to place the focus on the blogosphere's misinterpretation of his words rather than the harshness of his remarks.
“My opinion is just that, only my opinion, but for as much as some of the blogger's seem to dislike me and care so little about my thoughts, they sure can waste a lot of their space on what I say,” complains the performer.
To be fair, when that opinion happens to be about the most talked about kid in Hollywood and refers to said “It” man's singing as “contrived, awful and slightly frightening,” a certain amount of feedback should be expected.
All criticism aside, Aiken makes it clear that he in no way meant to insult the rocker. “The only person I would really dream of apologizing to is Adam. And the irony is, if he's smart he couldn't give a crap what I think.” Aiken continued, “I do apologize to Adam for my colorful (and negative) choice of words. I hope he can forgive me. I imagine he doesn't give a damn!”
And he's probably right. Lambert has way too much on his plate to worry about a little criticism. Plus, constantly fielding questions regarding his sexuality—coincidentally, a topic not unfamiliar to Aiken—and enjoying the outpour of Twitter support from all sorts of celebs can take up a lot of time.
(Originally published May 23, 2009 at 12:15 p.m. PT)
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VASSALBORO, Maine – Prosecutors will review a complaint that a waitress from a Maine topless doughnut shop was outside the business without a shirt on.
The Central Maine Morning Sentinel says a state trooper was sent to the Grand View Topless Coffee shop on Saturday after someone called in a complaint. Police say no one was charged, but the matter has been turned over to the district attorney for review.
It’s unclear whether nudity outside the cafe is prohibited.
Vassalboro had considered banning nudity altogether after the shop opened in February, but officials now are proposing to specifically regulate where, when and how such businesses may operate. The revised ordinance comes up for a vote June 8.
Information from: Morning Sentinel, http://www.onlinesentinel.com/
CONCORD, N.C. – From winning “Dancing With the Stars” to riding in a stock car at 170 mph, gold medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson had quite a week.
Five days removed from her TV dancing victory, Johnson was bouncing around Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Sunday, changing a tire and hanging out with legendary driver Bobby Allison before the Coca-Cola 600.
The 17-year-old high school junior was having plenty of fun — while acknowledging a big decision looms on whether to commit to the London Olympics.
“Once I go home and this settles down, I’ll get back into training and start getting back into shape and seeing where that takes me,” Johnson said. “As for 2012, I haven’t made a decision yet.”
Johnson won four medals last summer in Beijing: the gold on balance beam and silvers in the team, floor exercise and all-around. The winner of the Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete, then stopped gymnastics training to become the youngest competitor in “Dancing With the Stars.”
She beat fellow finalists Gilles Marini and Melissa Rycroft on Tuesday for the crown. Then on Saturday she was at Charlotte, riding as a passenger with former driver Kyle Petty in her first trip to a NASCAR track.
“He actually got to 170 mph. I was squealing I guess. I couldn’t even hear myself,” Johnson said. “They said they played it back and I hit another note every time he shifted.”
Johnson also did a backflip off a car, mimicking driver Carl Edwards’ celebratory ritual after winning races.
“I stuck the landing,” Johnson said, smiling.
On Sunday, the pint-sized Johnson didn’t have enough strength to jack a car, but did change a tire and put gas in a car before posing for pictures with the three-time race champion Allison in a promotion with Coca-Cola.
She was to watch the race with her parents before heading to San Francisco for a charity dancing event with former Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi .
But soon, Johnson will return to the gym and make a decision on whether she’ll try to be a 20-year-old Olympian in 2012.
“I don’t really think I’m in a position to make a decision,” Johnson said. “Not until I’m in shape and competing again.”
WASHINGTON – The Senate’s No. 2 Republican on Sunday refused to rule out a filibuster if President Barack Obama seeks a Supreme Court justice who decides cases based on “emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas.”
Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench. The Arizona Republican acknowledged that his party likely does not have enough votes to sustain a filibuster, but he said nonetheless he would try to delay or derail the nomination if Obama ventures outside what Kyl called the mainstream.
“We will distinguish between a liberal judge on one side and one who doesn’t decide cases on the merits but, rather, on the basis of his or her preconceived ideas,” Kyl said.
The White House is preparing to announce Obama’s pick to replace Justice David Souter, who plans to retire back to his beloved New Hampshire when the court’s term ends. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said Sunday that he has been told a choice is likely to be announced this week. Those involved with Obama’s decision hint that it could come as early as Tuesday.
Obama, who has interviewed at least two candidates for the position, has offered hints into what he wants in a justice.
“You have to have not only the intellect to be able to effectively apply the law to cases before you,” Obama said in an interview carried Saturday on C-SPAN television. “But you have to be able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.”
Obama also has said he wants someone who employs empathy, “understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles,” when arriving at decisions that could influence the nation for decades.
That approach drew a rebuke Sunday from Kyl, who in January told the conservative Federalist Society that he reserved the right to filibuster.
“I went on to say a lot of things about what I meant by that, and I was distinguishing between a person who is just liberal — and undoubtedly this nominee will be liberal — and one who decides cases not based upon the law or the merits but, rather, upon his or her emotions, or feelings or preconceived ideas. That would be a circumstance in which I could not support the nominee,” Kyl said.
Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who helped negotiate a compromise to avoid filibusters aimed at President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, said the law alone should be the guide on whether nominees are seated. He also kept open the filibuster option.
“We don’t want to have to read judges’ minds. So I think that’s the test — will they be an activist or not?” Nelson said. “I would hope that there wouldn’t be any circumstances that would be so extreme with any of the president’s nominees that the other side would feel the need to filibuster or that I might feel the need to filibuster in a case of extraordinary circumstances.”
Under Senate rules, a single senator can mount a filibuster by objecting to consideration of a bill or nominee. It takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and move to a final vote. Democrats hold 59 votes in the 100-seat Senate with Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection from the GOP and two Democratic-voting independents. One seat is open.
Obama’s choice is expected to be confirmed, given the Democratic majority. But part of his political calculation is how smoothly the nominee will get through. At a time when his agenda is packed with big domestic items and he needs help from both parties, Obama may not want to spend political capital on a more contentious choice.
Six people are known to be under consideration by Obama: U.S. Appeals Court judges Diane Wood and Sonia Sotomayor, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno.
The president has been pushed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and others to name a woman to the court. Only one of the nine justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg — is a woman.
“Frankly, if it were reversed, I would be saying, appoint a man. You just need that point of view,” Boxer said. “But, of course, it has got to do be the best possible person and we think there are so many great qualified women out there.”
Kyl and Nelson appeared on “Fox News Sunday.” Boxer appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Durbin on “NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
LONDON (Reuters) –
Susan Boyle, the frumpy Scottish spinster whose amazing voice has become a global YouTube sensation, stunned audiences again on Sunday as she was voted through to the final of “Britain's Got Talent.”
Singing “Memory” from the musical “Cats,” the 48-year-old overcame initial nerves to produce another command performance, her soaring rendition winning the telephone vote on the talent show.
“You are one special lady, I have to say, you really are,” Simon Cowell, one of the panel of three judges, said after Boyle's performance brought the audience to their feet.
Wearing a shimmering purple dress, Boyle looked far more primped and preened than she did on first appearance on the show last month, when her dowdy looks and quirky manner provoked titters from the audience, who assumed she couldn't sing.
This time, her hair was coiffed, her eyebrows were plucked and she looked almost every inch a star in the making.
“What pressure?” she said when asked afterwards if she was nervous. “It was really good tonight, I really enjoyed it … I'm very happy to be here and thank you all for your support.”
Boyle left the judges openmouthed last month with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables,” which almost immediately became an Internet sensation, watched more than 60 million times on YouTube.
With appearances since on U.S. chat shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King, Boyle — who has joked that she has never been kissed — has become a global sensation, her age and appearance conflicting with most images of modern celebrity.
After her performance on Sunday, Cowell was moved to apologize to Boyle, saying she had been poorly underestimated.
“You know what, I just want to apologize because of the way we treated you before you sang the first time,” he said. “You made me and everyone else look very stupid and I'm very happy for you, very proud for you.”
Boyle, who sang in choirs as a youngster but always dreamed of a career in London's West End, tried to shut him up, saying she had paid no attention to the global furor.
Since her performance in April, television crews from around the world have camped outside her home in rural Scotland and newspapers have dedicated countless pages to her.
A fan site dedicated to Boyle is titled “Never judge a book by its cover.”
In Sunday's semi-final, Boyle defeated seven other acts including a belly dancer and a Darth Vader impersonator to get through to the final on Saturday.
She will be joined there by Diversity, a troupe of street dancers who came second on Sunday, and two other acts yet to be decided from the second semi-final.
Boyle's meteoric rise to fame has made her the bookmakers' firm favorite to win the contest. The winner will perform at the Royal Variety Show and receive a cheque for 100,000 pounds.
(Additional reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Charles Dick)
(To read more about our entertainment news, visit our blog “Fan Fare” online at http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare)
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The defeated Tamil Tiger rebels confirmed Sunday that their supreme leader was killed in the group’s final battle against Sri Lankan troops.
The almost mythic commander, Velupillai Prabhakaran, led a terror-driven Tamil insurrection in Sri Lanka for more than a quarter century. Last week the government declared it finally killed Prabhakaran and proclaimed victory against his Tamil Tigers, crushing the rebellion that the U.N. estimates cost between 80,000 to 100,000 lives.
But many Tamils didn’t believe it.
For some die-hard followers, especially those living abroad, it hardly matters whether the legendary guerrilla is alive or dead, as long as there is a continuing story line of an independent Tamil state in part of this Sinhalese-dominated island.
Meanwhile, the government said it believes Prabhakaran’s deputy and feared intelligence chief was also among the dead but his body has not been identified.
Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said in an interview with privately owned Derana TV on Sunday that soldiers have still not been able to identify the body of Pottu Amman, who along with Prabhakaran were wanted by India for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“There is no doubt that he’s been killed,” he said
The military earlier claimed to have identified the body of the spy chief. Rajapaksa did not explain the contradiction.
Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 by a female suicide bomber at an election rally.
Prabhakaran, who was 54, was a larger-than-life character who championed the dreams of the Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils. He was seldom seen in public, yet his word was unquestioned. He governed by fiat over a de facto state in one-third of this Indian Ocean island.
Even many Tamils who abhorred the Tigers’ suicide bombings and assassinations embraced him as their hope for dignity and equal rights in Sri Lanka.
Bloggers compared Prabhakaran to the Hidden Imam, who was born in the 9th century but who Shi’ite Muslims believe never died. Believers say the Hidden Imam will return one day to bring peace and justice to the world.
The Sri Lankan army says Prabhakaran was among the last to die in the civil war’s final battle on Tuesday. His body was found in a thicket of mangroves along a shallow lagoon on the desolate northeastern coast.
Photographs of the familiar mustachioed face, a handkerchief covering the fatal head wound, were splashed on the front pages of Sri Lanka’s national papers on Wednesday. Unpublished pictures show a sickle-shaped gash through the bone of his forehead. His dog tags — number 001 — and ID card were put on display for the cameras.
Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the rebels’ international spokesman, confirmed in a statement Sunday that Prabhakaran “attained martyrdom fighting the military oppression of the Sri Lankan government.” He died on May 17 in a bloody battle on the island’s northeast coast.
Pathmanathan said the group had declared a week of mourning starting Monday for Prabhakaran and urged the Tamil people to “restrain from harmful acts to themselves or anyone else in this hour of extreme grief.”
Army commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka said in an interview published Sunday that Prabhakaran’s remains were quickly cremated. “His body was burnt in that area and the ashes were sent to the sea,” he told the Sinhalese-language Rivira newspaper.
Before Sunday’s announcement by the Tigers, many questioned the veracity of the military’s claims about his death.
Kanagalingam Sivajilingam, an ethnic Tamil lawmaker, said the government’s behavior was suspicious, and he doubted the corpse shown in the photographs and in television footage was indeed that of the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
“I can’t prove if he is among the living or dead … But I have my doubts about this body,” he told The Associated Press.
Why, he wondered, were independent journalists not allowed to see the body before it was burned and the ashes scattered. “Only a DNA test will be an effective proof,” he said.
Feeding the disbelief were the previous erroneous reports of Prabhakaran’s end. He was thought to have been killed in fighting in 1987 by Indian troops summoned to help stop the civil war. He was believed to have drowned in the 2004 tsunami, along with some 35,000 Sri Lankans. Then he was reported to have been hit during bombing last year.
News of Prabhakaran’s death this time brought thousands of cheering people onto the streets of Colombo, and set off a frenzy of self-congratulatory festivities by the government.
But Tamil neighborhoods were silent. Several world capitals with large Tamil expatriate communities witnessed demonstrations of protest.
“Looking at the incidents, the reports appear false to me. It is very much possible that he is alive. I am saying this because he has escaped the jaws of death many times and because of his fighting spirit,” said Baskaran Vinasithami, who lives in Switzerland.
On Friday, the TamilNet Web site, the main LTTE information outlet, said reports of Prabhakaran’s death were “engineered rumors” spread by the government.
“Our beloved leader is alive,” it quoted a man identified only as Arivazhakan, head of the Tigers’ International Secretariat of Intelligence.
In the interview, Fonseka gave more details of the final clash, in which the rebel chief and the last 100 of his men were trapped in an ever-tightening vise after nearly a year in retreat.
Fonseka warned that the spirit of Eelam, or a Tamil national home, may outlive Prabhakaran.
“What we did in this fight was to destroy the front-line killers, but we don’t think that all Eelamists are destroyed,” the army chief said.
“Everyone must remember that the war is still not over. As an army, as a government and as a people we must realize this. Otherwise all what we did will be a waste.”
Associated Press writer Krishan Francis contributed to this report from Colombo.
May 24 (Bloomberg) — Former Secretary of State Colin
Powell said the Republican Party needs to break free from the
grip of conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh and forge a
more inclusive identity.
Powell responded to comments by Limbaugh urging him to
become a Democrat, and by former Vice President Dick Cheney that
he had abandoned the party. Powell declared his loyalty to the
Republican Party and said he is trying to boost its
Rush Limbaugh will not get his wish and Mr. Cheney is
ill-informed, Powell said on CBS Newss Face the
Nation program. Im still a Republican.
Powell said the party must be more inclusive to
expand its electoral base or risk losses similar to those
suffered in the November elections, when Barack Obama
won the White House and Democrats seized control of the
On almost every demographic indicator the Republican
Party is losing, Powell said. The Republican Party has to
take a hard look at itself and ask, What kind of party are
Cheney said on Face the Nation on May 10 that Powell,
72, had already left the party when he endorsed President
Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. I assumed that
that is some indication of his loyalty.
Asked if he would take Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell,
Republican Cheney, 68, said, I would.
Powell Backs Obama
Limbaugh criticized Powells endorsement of Obama,
suggesting during his May 6 program that considerations of race
had trumped politics. Obama and Powell are black.
What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and
become a Democrat, instead of claiming to be a Republican
interested in reforming the Republican Party. Hes not. Hes a
full-fledged Democrat, Limbaugh said, according to a partial
transcript of the program on Limbaughs official Web site.
The only reason to endorse Obama is race, Limbaugh
Powell said Limbaugh ignored the reasons that Powell
enumerated in his decision to support Obama.
Mr. Limbaugh saw fit to dismiss all those reasons and put
it into a racial context, Powell said. That was very
Powell said Limbaugh holds too much sway over Republican
officials, citing recent incidents in which Republican National
Committee Chairman Michael Steele was forced to lay prostrate
on the floor and apologize for criticizing the radio
He shouldnt have a veto over what someone thinks,
To contact the reporter on this story:
Alison Fitzgerald in Washington at
WASHINGTON – Frustrated liberals are asking why a Democratic-controlled Congress and White House can’t manage to close the Guantanamo prison or keep new gun-rights laws from passing.
After all, President Barack Obama pledged to shut down the military detention center on Cuba for suspected terrorists. And Democratic control of the government would suggest that any gun legislation leads to tighter controls on weapons, not expanded use.
Even as they grouse, however, liberal lawmakers acknowledge that no one factor explains last week’s disappointing back-to-back votes in Congress.
The Obama administration is focused on other priorities, they say. Party leaders don’t want to endanger Democratic lawmakers from conservative districts by stressing divisive issues such as gun control.
On Guantanamo, many say, Obama and his allies were caught napping as Republicans stirred public fears about relocating suspected terrorists.
“I think it’s one of the few times that he didn’t think it all the way out,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., an unabashed admirer of the president.
As for trying to keep loaded guns out of national parks, Cummings said, “I don’t think he put a lot of energy into it.” Issues such as national security and the distressed economy deserve greater attention, at least for now, he said, adding that the president “picks his fights very carefully.”
Such explanations provide small comfort to left-leaning Democrats after eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency and nearly a dozen years of Republican control of Congress.
“We’ll probably end up passing more gun bills” that expand owners’ rights “than we did during the Republican administration,” said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., a leading gun control advocate. “That is what surprises me.”
She placed less blame on the White House than on ordinary Americans and advocacy groups that are consistently outflanked by gun owners’ groups, especially the National Rifle Association.
“Until the American people say enough is enough, and get active in it,” Democratic control of Congress and the White House will not be enough to turn the tide, said McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman in 1993.
Two votes in Congress last Wednesday dismayed many liberals and exposed the limits of their influence even with Obama as president and Democrats holding solid majorities in both houses.
The Senate voted 90-6 to join the House in blocking the transfer of any prisoners from Guantanamo. Harsh treatment and indefinite detention of suspects there have sparked worldwide criticisms of the U.S. government and helped al-Qaida recruit volunteers, said Obama, who pledges to close the prison early next year. Lawmakers say they want more details on where detainees will be sent.
Also Wednesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to join the Senate in letting people carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. More than 100 House Democrats and 174 Republicans voted for the gun measure, which was attached to an Obama-backed bill imposing new restrictions on credit card companies.
Earlier this year, gun-rights supporters derailed a bill to give the District of Columbia voting rights in Congress by adding a provision that would repeal the city’s strict gun regulations.
The gun votes were less surprising to many Democrats than were the Guantanamo developments. The NRA remains among the most powerful lobbies, and many lawmakers take care to stay off its political enemies list.
“People do not want to be on the wrong side of this particular cultural divide,” said Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who supports tougher gun controls. “It’s too bad there’s not a more responsible national organization” to counteract the NRA, he said.
In some ways, the gun-control lobby is choking on Democratic success in congressional races. “The seats we’re picking up come disproportionately from those more conservative areas,” Price said, where linking the Democratic Party to gun control can be dangerous at re-election time.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California is another Democrat frustrated by the gun debate. When she asks colleagues why they don’t support tougher restrictions, she said, they reply, “You just don’t get it, Woolsey. You don’t have our districts.”
“It has to do with being afraid they’ll lose their election if they stand up against guns,” she said.
Guantananamo is a more pressing issue for the administration.
For months, congressional Republicans and conservative commentators said Obama’s plan to close the prison would place terrorists on U.S. soil, even though the locations presumably would be prisons. By the time the administration offered more details and reassurances, congressional Democrats were backpedalling, voting to block funds to relocate detainees.
“I’m not sure they realized the opposition they were going to come up against,” Woolsey said.
Many Democratic lawmakers predicted that Obama will resolve the Guantanamo problem and eventually turn to gun issues, where he has advocated ownership rights with “common sense” regulations.
“I do believe that down the road the president will start working on some of the gun violence issues,” said McCarthy, the New York Democrat. “But let’s face it,” she said. “We’ve got an awful lot of issues on our plate right now.”
Newcastle’s 16-year stay in the English Premier League has come to an end as a Damien Duff own goal saw them lose 1-0 at Aston Villa.
Newcastle players react after Damien Duff’s own goal sees them relegated from the Premier League.
Duff deflected a 38th-minute shot from Gareth Barry past his own keeper Steve Harper to seal Newcastle’s fate. Newcastle’s misery was complete when defender David Edgar was sent off for a late challenge on England winger Ashley Young. The result meant Magpies legend Alan Shearer failed to work the miracle he was brought in to try and achieve with eight games remaining. Newcastle will be joined in the Championship by Middlesbrough, who were beaten 2-1 at West Ham and West Bromwich Albion, whose relegation was already confirmed prior to Sunday’s final matches. Both Hull and Sunderland survived the drop, despite both also losing their final matches. Hull were beaten 1-0 at home by a second-string Manchester United side, while Sunderland lost 3-2 at home to Chelsea in Guus Hiddink’s final game in charge of the London side. Despite escaping relegation, Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragiawho had only been in charge for five months after Roy Keane’s relegationannounced his decision to resign at the end of their match. Meanwhile,Newcastle have paid the price for a season of instability ever since Kevin Keegan decided to quit as manager in early September and owner Mike Ashley decided to put the club up for sale. Joe Kinnear was brought in to try and rescue the situation until his heart problems terminated his involvement and led to former England and Newcastle striker Shearer getting the call. But it was always going to be an uphill task to reverse a season of under-achievement and turmoil in such a short space of time. Now Shearer has to decide whether he wants to take on the task of trying to help the Magpies regain their top flight status and is due to have talks with Ashley early next week.
How relegation works
West Bromwich relegated
Newcastle out of drop zone
“It’s painful and it hurts. It’s been a great experience for me and in a weird way I have enjoyed it,” Shearer told Sky Sports.”But lets get something straight, we didn’t go down because of today, but because we weren’t good enough after 38 games. “Big changes need to be made at this club, players need to go and others have to arrive because, collectively, we were not good enough to survive.” Newcastle’s result ensured Hull stayed in the Premier League, despite their defeat against champions Manchester United. As expected, United manager Alex Ferguson put out a reserve side with one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League final against Barcelona, but they still proved too strong for the home side and Darren Gibson’s superb first half long-range strike proved enough for the visitors. Second-bottom Middlesbrough will join the Magpies and already-relegated West Brom in the Championship after their defeat at Upton Park. The hosts went ahead after 33 minutes when Carlton Cole sidefooted past goalkeeper Brad Jones and although Gary O’Neill hit an equalizer shortly after the break, the Hammers won the match eight minutes later through Junior Stanislas. Sunderland were the only other side in danger of getting relegated at the start of play and had other results to thank for their survival after they were beaten by Chelsea. Nicolas Anelka claimed the season’s Golden Boot award in style with a wonder-strike, his 19th of the season,two minutes into the second half. Kieran Richardson took advantage of Petr Cech’s fumble to level but Salomon Kalou gave the visitors the lead again in the 74th minute and Ashley Cole wrapped up the win in the final 10 minutes. Kenwyne Jones scored a late consolation goal for Sunderland, who will now be looking for a new manager following Sbragia’s announcement, although the Scotsman will remain on the coaching staff. Everton finish the table in fifth place after a 2-0 victory at Fulham, who have qualified for the Europa League in seventh place despite the defeat. Leon Osman hit both goals for the Toffees, but Roy Hodgson’s team retained seventh as Tottenham were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool. The hosts took the lead in the first-half thanks to Fernando Torres’ header and Alan Hutton’s own goal made it two after the break. Robbie Keane pulled one back against his former club with a quarter of an hour to go, but Yossi Benayoun netted Liverpool’s third nine minutes from time. Elsewhere, Arsenal were in a rampant mood at the Emirates Stadium, demolishing Stoke in the first half on the way to a 4-1 victory. The Gunners opened the scoring on 10 minutes when striker James Beattie slotted the ball into his own net from Cesc Fabregas’ cross. The hosts then made it 2-0 on the quarter hour when Robin van Persie was brought down by Ryan Shawcross and then converted the resulting spot-kick. Frenchman Abou Diaby headed home a a third goal two minutes later before Stoke pulled one back through a Ricardo Fuller penalty. Van Persie completed the scoring with his second of the game, taking advantage of a mistake from Rory Delap.
COLOMBO, Sri LankaShell-shocked and scarred both inside and out, they huddle in tents, water and medicine in short supplyhundreds of thousands of people, civilian victims of Sri Lanka’s recently-ended civil war.
Displaced Sri Lankan people look out from inside a camp in Cheddikulam.more photos »
“We suffered a lot because shelling was coming from everywhere,” said a 38-year-old man identifying himself as Vishwamala. “Firing, shellingmany, many people have died … there was nobody there to carry the dead. A lot of dead were left on the road.” Another survivor, Krisha Duray, recalls “running and running” to escape shelling by both the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tiger rebels, who waged a bloody 25-year war. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday visited refugee camps housing such victims. “I have traveled around the world and visited similar places, but this is by far the most appalling scenes I have seen,” he said. Ban requested that the United Nations be provided full access to the displacement camps in order to provide aid. In a joint statement issued Saturday, Ban and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the United Nations will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced persons, and that the government will continue to provide access to humanitarian agencies. That access, however, is limited. The United Nations and other organizations have never had full access, as government officials fear some remaining Tamil Tiger rebels may be hiding in the camps and are screening those inside. Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that attempts to smuggle youths out of the camps has prompted the government to impose restrictions on visits. Rajiva Wijesinha, the nation’s human rights ministry secretary, was quoted as telling the newspaper that people “with the connivance of Non-Governmental Organization workers” were involved in the plot. Because of the plot, “a thorough screening of IDPs was under way,” the newspaper said.
Blog: Witnessing the calm after the storm
Sri Lankan president declares war ‘victory’
Explainer: Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers
“I have United Nations humanitarian agencies, and there are ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and many other international humanitarian agency workers,” Ban said in a Saturday news conference, according to a transcript. “They should be given unimpeded access and freedom of movement within the camp. That is what I have asked the foreign minister and the president (for), and I was assured that the leaders of the Sri Lankan government will make sure (of this).” Sri Lanka’s government as of Sunday had not responded to Ban’s appeal. But the joint statement Saturday said, “The government will expedite the necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as (the) means of livelihood necessary for the IDPs to resume their normal lives at the earliest. “The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by the government expressing its intention to dismantle the welfare villages at the earliest as outlined in the plan to resettle the bulk of IDPs and call for its early implementation.” Ban toured Manik Farm, a sprawling camp for internally displaced people in the country’s north, days after Sri Lanka declared victory in a 25-year civil war against the Tamil Tigers rebels. About 250,000 to 300,000 people are refugees in the country, according to humanitarian groups and U.N. figures. Some in the camp have experienced fierce fighting in recent months, saying that at moments they did not believe they were going to survive. Asked whether he agrees with the military’s assertions that not many civilians died in the violence, Ban told CNN he believes there were many civilian casualties. While the war’s end elicited celebrations in parts of the country, humanitarian groups and the United Nations worry about those uprooted by the fighting. Ban arrived in the South Asian island nation Friday, saying he came to offer help and partnership. “I hope my visit today can help begin a process of national recovery, renewal and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans,” Ban said in a written statement issued Friday. “That is why I am here.” He said he would urge the government to expedite the screening and processing of refugees and ensure that displaced camps have adequate supplies of food, medicine and water.
With the war’s end, “the government of Sri Lanka faces many immediate and long-term challenges relating to issues of relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconciliation,” the joint statement said. Ban also flew to the site of the civil war’s final battle, near Mullaitivu.
As one of the right-hand men to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef was one of the first Taliban leaders arrested when the United States began military operations in Afghanistan.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who was Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, says U.S. war efforts are “failing.”
As a detainee, he was held both at Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base and at Guantanamo Bay in Cubaspending more than three years in Guantanamo before he was released in 2006. Now free, Zaeefwho claims he is no longer a Taliban memberalleges the military engaged in abusive treatment both at Bagram and Guantanamo.He says he is still bitter about his time there. Closing Guantanamo Bay, he told CNN, is only part of the justice those detained there deserve. “It was a bad stain on American history,” he said. “If they are closing Guantanamo for justice, they have to bring the people who are torturing people, who abuse people, to justice.” The military has classified those like Zaeef as “enemy combatants,” although the Justice Department in March said it would dispose of that classification. The U.S. military in Afghanistan said it was not authorized to comment on Zaeef’s or any other individual case. “I didn’t see a worse situation in my life than Bagram,” recalled Zaeef. “They were beating me, they put me in the snow, in the cold, until I was unconscious.” Watch Zaeef describe “no rules” at Gitmo » More than 600 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a controversial facility where prisoners are held for years without criminal charges and, critics allege, without access to legal representatives. The Red Cross has said conditions there are “harsh.” Currently, 240 detainees remain at the facility.
Freed Gitmo detainees return to fight, source says
Obama defends plan to close Gitmo
Commentary: On Gitmo, 2 show courage, 90 don’t
President Obama has announced plans to close the military detention center, saying it has made the United States less safe and set back the country’s “moral authority.” His plans, however, have met with opposition as determinations are made on where to send the detainees housed there. In Guantanamo, Zaeef recalled, “there was no rule, no regulation for [treatment of] the detainees.” Sayed Sharif Yousofy, who works to get prisoners released from Bagram, said he would like to see both facilities closed. “Some prisoners are released after four years without any conviction of a crime, which is not fair,” he said. “These prisoners are not treated according to the convention of human rights, either in Guantanamo or Bagram.” Preliminary intelligence assessments show more than 14 percent of detainees released from Guantanamo either returned or are suspected of returning to terrorism, the Pentagon said earlier this week. Zaeefwho was Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan under the Taliban regime at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United Statessaid he believes the statistics, as detainees are often angry when released. “Anyone in the world, to be deprived of any kind of human rights, any kind of justicehe becomes angry, so he will try to get revenge,” he said. While detained, he said, detainees sometimes lose everythinghomes, property, moneyand “they have nothing after that.”
While he claims to no longer be a Taliban member, he said he supports the insurgents and believes the United States will never be victorious in Afghanistan. “There is no choice” for the Taliban except to fight, he said. “There is no other way for them.” “Ideologically, they [the U.S.] are failing” in Afghanistan, he said. “I think they are not able to win the war.”
Eminem comeback crowns UK chart
US rapper Eminem’s first studio album for four years has entered the UK chart at number one.Relapse knocked Green Day off the top spot, while the Manic Street Preachers’ latest album Journal For Plague Lovers settled in third place. UK rap star Dizzee Rascal’s single Bonkers also went straight to number one to become his second UK chart-topper, displacing the Black Eyed Peas. Both artists’ releases have become the fastest-selling to date this year. Dizzee Rascal’s previous number one, Dance Wiv Me, spent four weeks at the top and won a 2009 NME Award. Eurovision successMeanwhile in the singles chart The Black Eyed Peas dropped to number two with Boom Boom. Tinchy Stryder featuring N-Dubz was at number three with Number 1. Eminem’s We Made You held steady at number four. Australian singer Daniel Merriweather made his debut at number five with Red. Alexander Rybak, who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Norway with Fairytale last weekend, entered the chart at number 10 solely on downloads.
The track – which has turned into a huge hit across Europe – becomes the first Eurovision winner to make the UK Top 10 for 12 years. In 1997, Katrina and The Waves’ Love Shine A Light – the UK’s most recent song contest winner – peaked at number three, according to the Official Charts Company. This year’s UK entrant Jade Ewen rose to 27 after the physical release of her song It’s My Time, which finished a creditable fifth in the competition. Elsewhere in the album chart, Madness entered at number five with their latest collection The Liberty of Nolton Polgate. The veteran band scored their first hit album almost 20 years ago. Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker and Tori Amos also registered new hit albums inside the top 20.
Study unlocks history of the seas
By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News
Medieval fishermen first took to the open seas in about AD1,000 as a result of a sharp decline in large freshwater fish, scientists have suggested.They say the decline was probably the result of rising population and pollution levels. The study forms part of a series that examines the impact of humans on life beneath the waves throughout history. The findings will be presented at a Census of Marine Life (CoML) conference in Canada, which begins on Tuesday. “Fish bones are found in archaeological sites… all around the north-western part of Europe,” said co-author James Barrett, from Cambridge University’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. “What we have done is to start to piece together some of the information that has been gathered.” This involved looking at the fish bones to determine what species they came from, and from what time period.
Dr Barrett observed: “At the end of the first millennium AD there is this wholesale shift in emphasis from reliance on freshwater fish towards marine species.” “It is not rocket science, it is just literally looking at the proportion of species that are obligatory freshwater ones, such as pike… and which ones are obligatory sea fish, such as cod and herring.” As for understanding what caused the shift, Dr Barratt said that it would be inappropriate to attempt to identify a single cause. “But when you look very carefully at the freshwater fish bones from the York site, where a big collection was gathered, you can see that the length of the fish are decreasing through time,” he told BBC News. “Certainly, one of the straightforward hypotheses is that freshwater fish were no longer sufficient to satisfy demand. “This was likely to have been for two reasons; one was because there had been a reduction in the availability of freshwater fish as a result of overfishing, or from things such as people building dams for water mills. “The second thing would have been that there would have simply been more people.” Dr Barrett added that around this period there was a rapid expansion of towns and cities in north-western Europe. “So this meant that there was an increased pressure on freshwater fish, and there was an increase in demand that probably could not have been satisfied even if the supply had remained stable.”
Dr Barrett’s team’s study will be one of a number of research projects that formed part of the CoML’s History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP). The project aims to address a number of questions, including how the diversity and distribution of marine animals have changed over the past 2,000 years, and what factors forced or influenced these changes. Professor Poul Holm, the global chairman of the HMAP project, said that the history of marine animals had been one of the great unknowns. But recent scientific advances was allowing researchers to gain a better understanding, he added. “We now know that the distribution and abundance of marine animal populations change dramatically over time,” he explained. “Climate and humanity forces changes and while few marine species have gone extinct, entire marine ecosystems have been depleted beyond recovery. “Understanding historical patterns of resources exploitation and identifying what has actually been lost in the habitat is essential to develop and implement recovery plans for depleted marine ecosystems.” Many of the findings by HMAP researchers will be presented at the Oceans Past II Conference, which is begins on Tuesday at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. COML, which began back in 2000, is an international research programme involving thousands of scientists from around the world. The goal of the decade-long endeavour is to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life in the world’s seas and oceans. The publication of the first complete global Census of Marine Life is scheduled for October 2010.
Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer, at Villa Park
Newcastle United’s 16-year stay in the top flight ended in the tamest fashion possible as they dropped into the Championship with defeat at Aston Villa.Damien Duff’s unfortunate own goal – deflecting in Gareth Barry’s 20-yard shot seven minutes before the interval – ensured Alan Shearer’s mission to save Newcastle from relegation ended in devastating failure. Newcastle’s performance was a prime example of why they have failed to survive this season, lacking any fire and urgency despite the scale of the prize on offer if they escaped. And seconds before referee Chris Foy blew the whistle on Newcastle’s Premier League existence, defender David Edgar summed up a desperate day when he was sent off for his second bookable offence after fouling Ashley Young. Newcastle had opportunites to grasp at a lifeline in the first half, with Obafemi Martins firing off target and Mark Viduka having a shot cleared off the line by Carlos Cuellar.
But when Newcastle needed to find inspiration in the second half, all that was on offer was an almost passive acceptance of their decline as they failed to exert any serious pressure on Villa – at times seeming barely aware of the fate that awaited them if they lost. Michael Owen made an appearance as substitute midway through the second half, but he made no impact and barely touched the ball. It now appears relegation will almost certainly mark the end of his Newcastle career. Shearer led the applause for Newcastle’s heartbroken fans as the despair of relegation sunk in – and it was clear their affection for the Tyneside icon has not diminished despite this bitter end to his spell in charge this season. Owner Mike Ashley must now try to persuade Shearer to stay on and provide some semblance of stability to this most dysfunctional of clubs as they attempt to rebuild and reclaim their place in English football’s elite. Shearer may have been the manager when they dropped into the Championship, but the damage was largely done before he attempted to come to the rescue. And Newcastle’s hierarchy must now indulge in serious soul-searching after a season that saw Kevin Keegan’s reign as manager end in acrimony and Joe Kinnear’s surprise temporary appointment, which ended prematurely after he suffered health problems.
Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood could not stop the rot, and the task of reviving Newcastle proved beyond Shearer. For now, though, Newcastle can only try and digest the disappointment of relegation – and accept that they have been the architects of their own downfall. It will be a summer of upheaval for whoever takes charge, with a collection of highly-paid players, led by Owen, likely to quit the club. Owen was only fit enough to take a place on the bench as Newcastle went in search of the result that would preserve their Premier League status – but Shearer’s side were lively in attack during the opening exchanges. Villa keeper Friedel almost let Duff’s deflected shot slip in and Cuellar smuggled Viduka’s goal-bound shot off the line as Newcastle pressed for an early breakthrough. Martins also volleyed over the top when he found space 12 yards out in the penalty area, with boss Shearer showing obvious frustration on the sidelines as another chance came and went. Newcastle, however, were nowhere near as convincing at the back and Fabricio Coloccini was regularly threatened with embarrassment by Gabriel Agbonlahor’s raw pace.
Craig Gardner brought a fine fingertip save from Steve Harper before Villa took the lead seven minutes before the interval, helped by a liberal sprinkling of good fortune. Barry’s shot was struck with power, but it was a crucial deflection off Duff that took it out of the reach of Harper and into the bottom corner of the net.Newcastle’s fans, who were in ecstasy when news of Manchester United’s goal at Hull filtered through, were stunned into silence as their Villa counterparts celebrated. There was still time for another opportunity for Newcastle before the interval, with Martins sending a glancing header just wide from Nicky Butt’s free-kick. Newcastle could not apply any pressure in the early stages of the second half, leaving Shearer to make his first change after 56 minutes. Jose Enrique replaced Peter Lovenkrands, leaving Duff to move forward into a more familiar attacking role on the left-flank. And Shearer swiftly followed this move with the introduction of Owen, giving the injury-plagued England striker the opportunity to possibly end an unfulfilling spell on Tyneside with a flourish. Barry then missed the chance that would have condemned Newcastle to Championship football. He robbed Butt 20 yards out, but then sent a curling shot inches wide with Harper helpless.
Newcastle were surprisingly lacking any sense of real urgency, and Shearer played his final card with 20 minutes left by sending on Shola Ameobi for the tiring Viduka. Carew then contrived to waste another opportunity to finish off Newcastle when he somehow failed to find the target after being set up by Agbonlahor six yards out. Newcastle, despite the increasing desperation of their situation, were offering nothing and Ashley Young fired just over the top after a powerful run. Enrique’s speculative cross almost spared Newcastle in the dying seconds – but it drifted agonisingly wide and referee Foy’s final whistle was the catalyst for predictable tears among travelling supporters. Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill: “I think we’ve played with great gusto and panache, we’re open, we create opportunities to win and I guess there’s always the possibility we’ll concede a goal. That’s our season. “I’m delighted with my players – thrilled with them – we’ve played 14 games more than a lot of our rivals, I think, and yet we’re used the fewest number of players along with Fulham. “Fatigue possibly cost us a top four spot, but it’s tough to get into that group. “As for the furure – we would be delighted to keep Gareth Barry, of course. He has a year left to run and has been a fantastic servant, but while I’d love to keep him, I accept the fact that there are other things that may materialise. I’ll say no more than that.” Aston Villa: Friedel, Gardner (Heskey 75), Davies, Cuellar, Shorey, Milner, Petrov (Reo-Coker 84), Barry, Ashley Young, Carew (Sidwell 89), Agbonlahor. Subs Not Used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Albrighton. Goals: Duff 38 og. Newcastle: Harper, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Edgar, Duff, Guthrie, Nolan (Owen 66), Butt, Lovenkrands (Jose Enrique 57), Viduka (Ameobi 75), Martins.~ Subs Not Used: Krul, Smith, Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor. Sent Off: Edgar (90). Booked: Steven Taylor, Edgar. Att: 42,585 Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside). BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry 7.09 (on 90 minutes). Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport’s Player Rater after the match has finished.
Deccan beat Bangalore to win IPL
Indian Premier League final, Johannesburg:Deccan Chargers 143-6 (20 ovs) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 137-9 (20 ovs) by six runs
Deccan Chargers beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by six runs in Johannesburg in the final of the second season of the Indian Premier League.Having lost captain Adam Gilchrist for a third-ball duck, Herschelle Gibbs (53 not out) and Andrew Symonds (33 from 21 balls) helped Deccan post 143-6. And despite Roelof van der Merwe’s 32, Symonds took 2-18 and a late collapse left Bangalore six runs short. The tournament was staged in South Africa because of security concerns. It clashed with the recent Indian general election and with the government unable to provide security assurances, South Africa pipped England to act as replacement hosts.
The 2009 tournament was the first to involve centrally contracted England players, and batsman Kevin Pietersen captained Bangalore for six games in the early stages before returning to England for their Test and one-day series against West Indies. Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were the most expensive players at the second season’s auction in February, each earning 1.5m on a pro-rata basis, but Flintoff managed only three games for Chennai before getting injured. Meanwhile, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting and key players Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson opted out of the competition, preferring instead to concentrate on the build-up to this summer’s Ashes Test series in England.
One innovation for the 2009 competition was a compulsory “tactical time out” halfway through each innings, lasting seven-and-a-half minutes but it was seen by some as hampering the game in order to provide broadcasters with more time to show commercials – and attracted criticism from India stars Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh. The tournament saw last year’s winners, Rajashtan Royals, failed to reach the semi-finals and 19-year-old Manish Pandey become the first Indian to hit an IPL century when he made 117 for Bangalore against Deccan in a round-robin match. But he could not repeat that in the final, scoring only four before being caught behind off Pragyan Ojha, who took 3-28 for the Chargers. Robin Uthappa hit Ryan Harris for a huge six in the penultimate over to give Bangalore hope but the task of scoring 15 off the final six balls, bowled by left-arm pace bowler RP Singh, proved beyond them. Despite the defeat, Bangalore skipper Anil Kumble, now retired from international cricket, was named Man of the Match for taking 4-16, including the wicket of opposite number Gilchrist. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, meanwhile, revealed that this year’s Twenty20 Champions League – of which he is also chairman – will be contested by 12 teams rather than eight, with a total prize fund of A prize fund of US6m (3.77m).
The eight teams already due to take part were both IPL finalists – Deccan and Bangalore – plus the Cape Cobras and Eagles from South Africa, Victoria and New South Wales from Australia, plus the finalists from England’s Twenty20 Cup, which begins on Monday. They will now be joined by domestic Twenty20 champions from New Zealand (Otago), Sri Lanka (Wayamba) and West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago) – plus a third IPL franchise, Delhi Daredevils – for the tournament, which will take place in India from 8 to 23 October, just after the Champions Trophy. There will be 23 games played, with teams divided into four groups of three. Two teams in each group will move onto the second phase, with the four top teams reaching the semi-finals. Fixtures will be announced in London on 23 June. However, Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 champions, Sialkot Stallions, will not feature because the Pakistan government has restricted travel to India.
Anil Kumble celebrates Symonds’ dismissal with Mark Boucher
The first Champions League was scheduled to be held in December 2008, but was postponed following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Middlesex, 2008′s Twenty20 Cup winners, had been due to take part, although losing finalists Kent were barred because some of their players had played in the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League (ICL), which is a rival to Modi’s IPL. Modi added: “The inaugural edition did not take place last year due to unfortunate circumstances but we are fully equipped this time around to conduct an extremely successful tournament.”
Chavez TV show marks anniversary
By Will Grant
BBC News, Venezuela
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s weekly television and radio programme “Alo Presidente” is marking its 10th anniversary.What began as a regular radio broadcast by the newly-elected socialist leader in May 1999 has evolved into a several-hour long televised address. It can involve live phone calls, ad hoc announcements on government policy and special guests. The programme, transmitted on Sundays, has never been far from controversy. For a decade, Mr Chavez has used Alo Presidente (Hello President) to unveil new policies, rebuff criticisms and receive questions from carefully-vetted viewers. To the delight of his gathered supporters, all of whom are clad from head to toe in socialist red, he has poked fun at foreign leaders, at the Venezuelan opposition and at himself. Required viewingHe has sung ballads, told jokes and issued threats – all of it live to the nation. There can be little doubt that Alo Presidente is a television programme like no other. In the midst of the US-led conflict with Iraq, President Chavez reserved the brunt of his particular brand of international diplomacy for President George W Bush, calling him a madman and a drunk. But he has also focused on opponents closer to home.
On one show, during a period of high tension between Colombia and Venezuela with the possibility of conflict in the air, he ordered the head of the military to send ten tank battalions to the border – an order, it should be noted, which was never carried out. The programme has been presented from inside a cattle ranch, from a beach, from farms and military installations, and special guests have included football legend Diego Maradona, Hollywood actor Danny Glover, and a live phone call from Fidel Castro. But Alo Presidente is much more than a travelling circus. Over the years it has become required viewing for supporters and opponents of the president alike. It is the forum from which he connects with his supporters and further alienates his detractors, and it is vital to his image as a man of the people. It has also spawned similar programmes by leaders in other countries, most notably Bolivia and Ecuador. Whether Venezuelans dismiss Alo Presidente as a crude propaganda tool or consider it the best thing on television, the programme looks set to remain on air for as long as Mr Chavez remains in office.
Netanyahu says settlements can expand
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says settlements in the occupied West Bank will be allowed to expand despite US objections.Mr Netanyahu said no new settlements would be built, but natural growth in existing settlements should be allowed. During Mr Netanyahu’s visit to the US last week, President Barack Obama told him all settlement activity must end. The US regards the Jewish settlements -home to some 280,000 Israelis – as obstacles to the peace process. “I have no intention to construct new settlements, but it makes no sense to ask us not to answer to the needs of natural growth and to stop all construction,” a senior official quoted Mr Netanyahu as telling the Israeli cabinet. “There is no way that we are going to tell people not to have children or to force young people to move away from their families,” he added. Outposts ‘will go’However, Mr Netanyahu vowed to remove makeshift outposts in the West Bank that the Israeli government itself considers illegal. “We will take care of them, if possible by dialogue,” he said. “There is no doubt that we have committed ourselves to deal with them.” The new Israeli cabinet largely opposes dismantling the outposts despite the fact that Israel agreed to it under the 2003 peace plan “roadmap”. Before the cabinet meeting, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said they would take down 22 outposts.
“The 22… have to be dealt with now in a responsible, appropriate manner, first of all, exhausting all efforts at dialogue and if that proves impossible, then unilaterally, using force if necessary,” he said. Mr Netanyahu was briefing cabinet members on his Washington visit. President Obama urged the Israeli leader to accept a Palestinian state and said Israel had an obligation under the 2003 agreement to stop Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Mr Netanyahu told his ministers on Sunday that “clearly we need to have some reservations about a Palestinian state in a final status agreement… when we reach an agreement on substance, we will reach agreement on terminology”. It was the first time since his election that Mr Netanyahu has publicly used the words “Palestinian state” – but he stopped short of endorsing the idea. “If we talk about a Palestinian state, we have to first and foremost verify what kind of sovereignty and rights this state will have. We have to make sure that we are not threatened,” the official quoted the prime minister as saying. Stumbling blockJewish settlements in the West Bank are one of the major stumbling blocks to a Middle East peace deal. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said there is no point in meeting Mr Netanyahu unless he stops settlement construction and agrees to open talks on Palestinian independence. Israel has sanctioned 121 settlements over the years and Jewish settlers have put up an estimated 100 outposts since the early 1990s.
KOMODO ISLAND, Indonesia – Komodo dragons have shark-like teeth and poisonous venom that can kill a person within hours of a bite. Yet villagers who have lived for generations alongside the world’s largest lizard were not afraid — until the dragons started to attack.
The stories spread quickly across this smattering of tropical islands in southeastern Indonesia, the only place the endangered reptiles can still be found in the wild: Two people were killed since 2007 — a young boy and a fisherman — and others were badly wounded after being charged unprovoked.
Komodo dragon attacks are still rare, experts note. But fear is swirling through the fishing villages, along with questions on how best to live with the dragons in the future.
Main, a 46-year-old park ranger, was doing paperwork when a dragon slithered up the stairs of his wooden hut in Komodo National Park and went for his ankles dangling beneath the desk. When the ranger tried to pry open the beast’s powerful jaws, it locked its teeth into his hand.
“I thought I wouldn’t survive… I’ve spent half my life working with Komodos and have never seen anything like it,” said Main, pointing to his jagged gashes, sewn up with 55 stitches and still swollen three months later. “Luckily, my friends heard my screams and got me to hospital in time.”
Komodos, which are popular at zoos in the United States to Europe, grow to be 10 feet (3 meters) long and 150 pounds (70 kilograms). All of the estimated 2,500 left in the wild can be found within the 700-square-mile (1,810-square-kilometer) Komodo National Park, mostly on its two largest islands, Komodo and Rinca. The lizards on neighboring Padar were wiped out in the 1980s when hunters killed their main prey, deer.
Though poaching is illegal, the sheer size of the park — and a shortage of rangers — makes it almost impossible to patrol, said Heru Rudiharto, a biologist and reptile expert. Villagers say the dragons are hungry and more aggressive toward humans because their food is being poached, though park officials are quick to disagree.
The giant lizards have always been dangerous, said Rudiharto. However tame they may appear, lounging beneath trees and gazing at the sea from white-sand beaches, they are fast, strong and deadly.
The animals are believed to have descended from a larger lizard on Indonesia’s main island Java or Australia around 30,000 years ago. They can reach speeds of up to 18 miles (nearly 30 kilometers) per hour, their legs winding around their low, square shoulders like egg beaters.
When they catch their prey, they carry out a frenzied biting spree that releases venom, according to a new study this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, who used surgically excised glands from a terminally ill dragon at the Singapore Zoo, dismissed the theory that prey die from blood poisoning caused by toxic bacteria in the lizard’s mouth.
“The long, jaded teeth are the primary weapons. They deliver these deep, deep wounds,” said Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne. “But the venom keeps it bleeding and further lowers the blood pressure, thus bringing the animal closer to unconsciousness.”
Four people have been killed in the last 35 years (2009, 2007, 2000 and 1974) and at least eight injured in just over a decade. But park officials say these numbers aren’t overly alarming given the steady stream of tourists and the 4,000 people who live in their midst.
“Any time there’s an attack, it gets a lot of attention,” Rudiharto said. “But that’s just because this lizard is exotic, archaic, and can’t be found anywhere but here.”
Still, the recent attacks couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The government is campaigning hard to get the park onto a new list of the Seven Wonders of Nature — a long shot, but an attempt to at least raise awareness. The park’s rugged hills and savannahs are home to orange-footed scrub fowl, wild boar and small wild horses, and the surrounding coral reefs and bays harbor more than a dozen whale species, dolphins and sea turtles.
Claudio Ciofi, who works at the Department of Animal Biology and Genetics at the University of Florence in Italy, said if komodos are hungry, they may be attracted to villages by the smell of drying fish and cooking, and “encounters can become more frequent.”
Villagers wish they knew the answer.
They say they’ve always lived peacefully with Komodos. A popular traditional legend tells of a man who once married a dragon “princess.” Their twins, a human boy, Gerong, and a lizard girl, Orah, were separated at birth.
When Gerong grew up, the story goes, he met a fierce-looking beast in the forest. But just as he was about to spear it, his mother appeared, revealing to him that the two were brother and sister.
“How could the dragons get so aggressive?” Hajj Amin, 51, taking long slow drags off his clove cigarettes, as other village elders gathering beneath a wooden house on stilts nodded. Several dragons lingered nearby, drawn by the rancid smell of fish drying on bamboo mats beneath the blazing sun. Also strolling by were dozens of goats and chickens.
“They never used to attack us when we walked alone in the forest, or attack our children,” Amin said. “We’re all really worried about this.”
The dragons eat 80 percent of their weight and then go without food for several weeks. Amin and others say the dragons are hungry partly because of a 1994 policy that prohibits villagers from feeding them.
“We used to give them the bones and skin of deer,” said the fisherman.
Villagers recently sought permission to feed wild boar to the Komodos several times a year, but park officials say that won’t happen.
“If we let people feed them, they will just get lazy and lose their ability to hunt,” said Jeri Imansyah, another reptile expert. “One day, that will kill them. ”
The attack that first put villagers on alert occurred two years ago, when 8-year-old Mansyur was mauled to death while defecating in the bushes behind his wooden hut.
People have since asked for a 6-foot-high (2-meter) concrete wall to be built around their villages, but that idea, too, has been rejected. The head of the park, Tamen Sitorus, said: “It’s a strange request. You can’t build a fence like that inside a national park!”
Residents have made a makeshift barrier out of trees and broken branches, but they complain it’s too easy for the animals to break through.
“We’re so afraid now,” said 11-year-old Riswan, recalling how just a few weeks ago students screamed when they spotted one of the giant lizards in a dusty field behind their school. “We thought it was going to get into our classroom. Eventually we were able to chase it up a hill by throwing rocks and yelling ‘Hoohh Hoohh.’”
Then, just two months ago, 31-year-old fisherman Muhamad Anwar was killed when he stepped on a lizard in the grass as he was heading to a field to pick fruit from a sugar tree.
Even park rangers are nervous.
Gone are the days of goofing around with the lizards, poking their tails, hugging their backs and running in front of them, pretending they’re being chased, said Muhamad Saleh, who has worked with the animals since 1987.
“Not any more,” he says, carrying a 6-foot-long (2-meter) stick wherever he goes for protection. Then, repeating a famous line by Indonesia’s most renowned poet, he adds: “I want to live for another thousand of years.”
JERUSALEM (Reuters) –
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rebuffed U.S. calls to impose a freeze on all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, setting the stage for friction with President Barack Obama.
“We do not intend to build any new settlements, but it wouldn't be fair to ban construction to meet the needs of natural growth or for there to be an outright construction ban,” Netanyahu told his cabinet, according to officials.
The note of defiance came less than a week after Netanyahu held talks in Washington with Obama, who wants Israel to halt all settlement activity, including natural growth, as called for under a long-stalled peace “road map.”
Netanyahu's comments reaffirmed a position he took in his bid for the premiership in a February election. By natural growth, Israel refers to construction within the boundaries of existing settlements to accommodate growing families.
Obama was expected to prod Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume long-stalled peace talks during a major speech in Cairo early next month.
Abbas has ruled out restarting those talks until Netanyahu, whose right-leaning government took office on March 31, commits to a two-state solution and halts settlement expansion.
Obama has surprised Israel with his activism on the settlement issue, but it is unclear how much pressure he will put on Netanyahu to freeze construction entirely, Israeli and Western officials said. Former President George W. Bush called for a freeze but building continued largely unchecked, Israeli anti-settlement advocacy groups say.
Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.
The World Court says all are illegal. The United States and European Union regard them as obstacles to peace.
Palestinians see the settlements as a land grab meant to deny them a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said the fate of existing settlements should be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians. “In the interim period, we have to allow normal life in those communities to continue,” he said.
Netanyahu has so far balked at committing to entering negotiations with the Palestinians on territorial issues.
A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu's government hoped to sidestep U.S. pressure by committing to uproot smaller hilltop outposts built without official authorization, a step also set by the road map.
“Moving on outposts is relatively easy” compared to freezing growth of larger settlements, which Israel wants to keep as part of any future peace deal, the Israeli official said.
Last week, Israel flattened a small outpost near the West Bank city of Ramallah, but residents returned to rebuild.
Ahead of Sunday's cabinet session, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would remove more than 20 other outposts, either through negotiations or with force, but gave no timeline.
(Additional reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
(For blogs and links on Israeli politics and other Israeli and Palestinian news, go to http://blogs.reuters.com/axismundi)
LONDON – A royal chauffeur was suspended Sunday over allegations he gave undercover reporters a tour of Queen Elizabeth II’s luxury limousines and other sensitive areas of her Buckingham Palace home in exchange for money.
London police said they were examining the allegations and holding talks on security with staff at the London palace following reports of the breach.
The News of the World tabloid said two of its reporters, posing as wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen, were shown round secure areas of Buckingham Palace and allowed to sit inside Bentleys used by the royal family. The newspaper said it paid the chauffeur 1,000 pounds (1,588) for the tour.
According to the newspaper, the men were also shown Rolls-Royces and the Queen’s own green Daimler car, which she drives herself. The newspaper said the Daimler has a raised floor to accommodate the British monarch’s short legs. The queen is 5-foot-4, (163 centimeters).
“We can confirm an individual has been suspended pending an investigation,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement Sunday.
Royal palaces are guarded by police, who usually demand to see security documents to allow people access. Even members of the royal family, including the Queen’s husband Prince Philip and her son Prince Charles, are required to show photographic ID as they enter a residence.
“We are naturally concerned about the issues raised by this story and are liaising with palace officials about their staff security arrangements,” London’s Scotland Yard police said in a statement.
The security lapse is the latest in a line of breaches.
The queen fended off intruder Michael Fagan in March 1982, after she awoke to find him sitting on her bed in Buckingham Palace and demanding a cigarette.
In 2003, a British tabloid reporter used fake references to win a job as a Buckingham Palace footman. He used his access to take photographs inside the palace and wander around rooms due to be used by then-U.S. President George W. Bush on a state visit weeks later.