BBC.CNN WORLD NEWS

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where to go in December ?

vacation
Best Place For December.
In Europe, the Christmas holidays draw families to the ski slopes to celebrate the festive season: the Pyrenees in France and Spain and the Austrian, Swiss or Italian Alps are popular destinations. It is also the time for festive markets in many European towns such as Strasbourg, Munich or Brussels. Whatever the destination in Europe it will probably be cold and wet with snow in the more northern regions.
In Asia, it is the best time to visit Laos where there is little rain at present and the temperature is not too high as yet. It is also pleasant to travel around Bangladesh in December and visit the long beaches, archaeological sites and get to know the friendly people. It is a great time now for the Maldives during their dry season although the prices are a little high as it is a popular destination at this time. In Thailand the rains have decreased somewhat now and the temperatures are warming up, it is fairly calm there at present if you avoid the typical tourist resorts.
In Africa, the Cameroons have their dry, temperate season right now, the only disturbance being the harmattan, the warm wind blowing over from the Sahara. The same is true for Senegal where the temperatures are as agreeable. The Ivory Coast is a perfect destination at this time. If you like to visit the beach during wintertime then the Seychelles are a dream destination but you will certainly not be alone and the prices are a little elevated at this time so popular with tourists.
In America, Mexico is a favourite destination during December as is the whole of the Caribbean including Jamaica, Cuba, the French West Indies and the Bahamas too which see a sharp rise in visitor numbers during the festive season thanks to the excellent climate which sees a fairly stable temperature of around 28°C at this time. If you don't mind the cold then you could visit New York and participate in the lively New Year festivities in this megalopolis.
To be avoided:
Malaysia, in the middle of its winter monsoon period so experiencing heavy and sustained rainfall. Egypt, with little sun at present and some hotels there are unheated despite the cooler temperatures. All of Eastern Europe, the climate is currently a little harsh and unappealing.

Our choice
For skiers, the French and Spanish Pyrenees have plenty of small family ski resorts with good snow and reasonable prices even during the festive season.
Southern Australia will certainly satisfy those with a taste for adventure down under as it's entering its summer season. The ideal time for surfing, swimming and meeting the koalas, emus and opossums, not forgetting the famous laughing kookaburra.
Between those two destinations we find Senegal; a stopover warmed as much by the weather as the smiles and sunny dispositions of the people.


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Military of China denounces U.S.-Australia defense upgrade

Geng Yansheng
Geng Yansheng,
(Reuters) - China's military denounced the United States and Australia on Wednesday for upgrading military ties, warning that such moves could erode trust and fan Cold War-era antagonism.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng made the warning about a plan unveiled in mid-November by U.S. President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to form a de facto base in north Australia for up to 2,500 U.S. Marines.

Geng's comments came on the same day Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was reported as backing the formation of a security pact with India and the United States, another step that could fuel China's worries of being fenced in by wary neighbors.

"Military alliances are a product of history, but we believe any strengthening and expansion of military alliances is an expression of the Cold War mentality," Geng said in answer to a question about the U.S.-Australian announcement, according to a transcript on the ministry's website (www.mod.gov.cn.).

"This is not in keeping with the tide of the era of peace, development and cooperation and does not help to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between countries in the region, and could ultimately harm the common interests of all concerned," he said.

"We hope that the parties concerned will do more that is beneficial to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and not the contrary."

But the Chinese spokesman indicated that Beijing was not shunning Washington. Chinese and U.S. defense officials, led by Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, will hold talks in Beijing next Wednesday, Geng told the briefing.

Earlier this month, Obama told Asia-Pacific leaders that the United States was "here to stay," announced the plans to set up the de facto military base in north Australia and chided China for trying to prevent discussion of its South China Sea territorial disputes at regional forums.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense is the public mouthpiece of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), but foreign reporters are not allowed to attend its briefings.

COOPERATION OR CONFRONTATION?

Although falling short of full-throated condemnation of the U.S.-Australian move, Geng's words were tougher than earlier reaction from China's Foreign Ministry, which said Washington and Canberra should focus on cooperating with Beijing.

Geng said the idea raised by U.S. and Australian officials of advancing "integrated air and sea combat" amounted to "trumpeting confrontation and sacrificing others' security for the sake of one's own security."

Chinese President Hu Jintao has made clear that he wants to avoid repeating the rifts that soured ties with Washington in the first half of 2011. Hu retires from power late next year, when the U.S. is focused on its presidential race, making China's leaders especially reluctant to risk distracting rows.

Beijing is also still licking its wounds from last year, when loud maritime disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and other neighbors fanned suspicions about China's intentions.

Chinese military officers have, however, sometimes taken a tougher stance on security worries than civilian officials.

Earlier this week, PLA Major General Luo Yuan, well-known for his hawkish views, warned that Obama's regional push showed that the United States wanted to encircle China.

The comments from Australian Foreign Minister Rudd could also magnify such fears among Chinese observers.

A new trilateral pact bringing in India into a U.S.-Australian security tent was worth exploring because "from little things big things grow," Kevin Rudd said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

"The response from the Indian government has really been quite positive," said Rudd.

The idea of an Australian, Indian and U.S. trilateral security dialogue, in part to counter China's rising might, has been pushed by a trio of think-tanks in all three countries, but has yet to be adopted by any government.

At a briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not comment directly on Rudd's statement.

"China hopes that countries in the region will do more to promote regional peace, stability and development," Hong said in answer to a question about the proposal.

India's Foreign Ministry did not comment on Rudd's statement. But Indian analysts said Delhi was likely to be cool on the idea, partly out of reluctance to risk riling China.

"The Indian political establishment has always been wary of the idea of a military alliance," said Uday Bhaskar, the head of the National Maritime Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank.


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Wall St. rallies on central banks' help for Europe

central bank
Central Bank
(Reuters) - Stocks surged on Wednesday after major central banks agreed to make cheaper dollar loans for struggling European banks to prevent the euro-zone debt woes from turning into a full-blown credit crisis.

The Dow posted its best day since March 2009 after the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other major central banks stepped in to head off escalating funding pressures that threaten the key arteries of the world's financial system.

The S&P 500 scored its best daily percentage gain since August.

The central banks' liquidity move touched off a buying frenzy in financial shares. The S&P financial sector index gained 6.6 percent, with Bank of America the most actively traded stock. The stock jumped 7.3 percent to $5.44 on more than 420 million shares traded.

The drama in Europe kept the U.S. stock market on a roller-coaster ride throughout the month. For November, the S&P ended down just 0.5 percent, but the month was marked by sharp daily swings.

"You don't have to fix everything, you have to be on a path towards fixing things," said Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup in New York.

"Markets will reward you for the efforts you are making as long as you are moving in the right direction. It's the carrot and the stick; you get rewarded when you do the right thing, and you get punished when you do the wrong thing."

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 490.05 points, or 4.24 percent, to end at 12,045.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index jumped 51.77 points, or 4.33 percent, to 1,246.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index soared 104.83 points, or 4.17 percent, to close at 2,620.34.

The Dow scored its largest daily gain -- in terms of points and percentage -- since March 23, 2009.

The S&P 500 posted its best daily percentage advance since August 11.

For the month, the Dow gained 0.8 percent, while the Nasdaq slid 2.4 percent.

Other economically sensitive sectors, including energy, materials and industrials, also were strong performers for the day.

Copper and oil futures rose sharply, while the S&P materials sector index jumped 5.9 percent.

The central banks' actions were intended to ensure that European banks, facing a credit crunch, have enough funding amid the euro zone's worsening sovereign debt crisis.

The moves followed an unexpected cut in bank reserve requirements in China, intended to boost an economy running at its weakest pace since 2009.

Among the banks, shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co gained 8.4 percent to $30.97, its biggest daily percentage gain since May 2009.

The gains in financial shares came despite Standard & Poor's move to cut the credit ratings of 15 big banks, mostly in Europe and the United States, late on Tuesday.

Further encouraging investors, the latest U.S. data suggested the U.S. economy was moving more solidly toward recovery. The U.S. private sector added the most jobs in nearly a year in November, while business activity in the U.S. Midwest grew faster than expected in November.

The day's volume was high, with nearly 10 billion shares changing hands during the day on U.S. exchanges compared with the daily average of 7.96 billion shares.

Advancers beat decliners on the NYSE by nearly 7 to 1 and on the Nasdaq, by about 5 to 1.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iranian protesters storm British diplomatic compounds

tehran"
Protesters in Tehran, Iran
(Reuters) - Iranian protesters stormed two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows, torching a car and burning the British flag in protest against new sanctions imposed by London.

Britain said it was outraged and warned of "serious consequences." The U.N. Security Council condemned the attacks "in the strongest terms." U.S. President Barack Obama said he was disturbed by the incident and called on Iran to hold those responsible to account.

The attacks come at a time of rising diplomatic tension between Iran and Western nations who last week imposed fresh sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program, which they believe is aimed at achieving the capability of making an atomic bomb.

Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, says it only wants nuclear plants to generate electricity.

The embassy storming is also a sign of deepening political infighting within Iran's ruling hardline elites, with the conservative-led parliament attempting to force the hand of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and expel the British ambassador.

"Radicals in Iran and in the West are always in favor of crisis ... Such radical hardliners in Iran will use the crisis to unite people and also to blame the crisis for the fading economy," said political analyst Hasan Sedghi.

Several dozen protesters broke away from a crowd of a few hundred outside the main British embassy compound in downtown Tehran, scaled the gates, broke the locks and went inside.

Protesters pulled down the British flag, burned it, and put up the Iranian flag, Iranian news agencies and news pictures showed. Inside, the demonstrators smashed windows of office and residential quarters and set a car ablaze, news pictures showed.

One took a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth, state TV showed. Others carried the royal crest out through the embassy gate as police stood by, pictures carried by the semi-official Fars news agency showed.

All embassy personnel were accounted for, a British diplomat told Reuters in Washington, saying Britain did not believe that any sensitive materials had been seized.

Demonstrators waved flags symbolizing martyrdom and held aloft portraits of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has the final say on matters of state in Iran.

Another group of protesters broke into a second British compound at Qolhak in north Tehran, the IRNA state news agency said. Once the embassy's summer quarters, the sprawling, tree-lined compound is now used to house diplomatic staff.

An Iranian report said six British embassy staff had been briefly held by the protesters. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the situation had been "confusing" and that he would not have called them "hostages."

"Police freed the six people working for the British embassy in Qolhak garden," Iran's Fars news agency said.

A German school next to the Qolhak compound was also damaged, the German government said.

BRITAIN OUTRAGED

Police appeared to have cleared the demonstrators in front of the main downtown embassy compound, but later clashed with protesters and fired tear gas to try to disperse them, Fars said. Protesters nevertheless entered the compound a second time, before once again leaving, it said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the government crisis committee to discuss the attacks which he said were "outrageous and indefensible."

"The failure of the Iranian government to defend British staff and property was a disgrace," he said in a statement.

"The Iranian government must recognize that there will be serious consequences for failing to protect our staff. We will consider what these measures should be in the coming days."

The United States, alongside the European Union and many of its member states also strongly condemned the attacks.

There have been regular protests outside the British embassy over the years since the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah, but never have any been so violent.

The attacks and hostage-taking were a reminder of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran carried out by radical students who held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran after the hostage-taking.

All British embassy personnel were accounted for and safe, a British diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters in Washington.

The diplomat said the attack likely flowed from Britain's November 21 decision to impose new sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program, including a ban on British financial institutions dealing with their Iranian counterparts.

"It's impossible, really, not to reach that conclusion," the diplomat said, suggesting that the protests may have been sparked by the Iranian authorities.

"In the past we have certainly had demonstrations that have ... been sanctioned, if not encouraged, by the government. I don't know about this one. I don't think we'd put it past them," said the diplomat.

"It's hard to imagine, in a place like Iran, that these were some kind of spontaneous (event)," said a State Department official who declined to be identified.

INFIGHTING

The demonstrations appeared to be a bid by conservatives who control parliament to press home their demand, passed in parliament last week and quickly endorsed by the Guardian Council on Tuesday, for the government to expel the British ambassador in retaliation for the sanctions.

A lawmaker had warned on Sunday that angry Iranians could storm the British embassy.

"Parliament officially notified the president over a bill regarding degrading the ties with Britain, obliging the government to implement it within five days," Fars news agency quoted speaker Ali Larijani as saying.

Ahmadinejad's government has shown no willingness to compromise on its refusal to halt its nuclear work, but has sought to keep channels of negotiation open in an effort to limit the worst effects of sanctions.

An Iranian official told Reuters the storming of the British compounds was not planned by the government.

"It was not an organized measure. The establishment had no role in it. It was not planned," said the official, who declined to be identified. Iran's Foreign Ministry said it regretted the attacks and was committed to ensuring the safety of diplomats.

Police arrested 12 people who had entered the north Tehran compound, Fars said, quoting a police chief as saying they would be handed over to the judiciary.

Protesters said they planned to stage a sit-in at the gates of the north Tehran compound and would not move until they were told to do so by Iran's religious leaders.

Britain, along with the United States and Canada, imposed new unilateral sanctions on Iran last week, while the EU, France and Italy have all said financial measures against Tehran should be strengthened.

Jackson doctor called suicidal after verdict

Dr.Conrad Murray
Dr.Conrad Murray
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge's stern voice broke the silence of a Los Angeles courtroom: "Money for madness medicine," he said before sentencing Dr. Conrad Murray to the maximum four years behind bars for Michael Jackson's death.

"Absolutely no sense of fault, and is and remains dangerous" to the community, Judge Michael Pastor said as he delivered a nearly half-hour tongue lashing that denounced Murray as a greedy, remorseless physician whose gross negligence killed the King of Pop.

Pastor said Murray sold out his profession for a promised fee of $150,000 a month and accused Murray of committing a "horrific violation of trust" when he agreed to give Jackson a powerful anesthetic every night as an unorthodox cure for insomnia.

Murray will likely serve less than two years in county jail, not state prison, because of California's overcrowded prisons and jails. Sheriff's officials said he will be housed in a one-man cell and be kept away from other inmates.

The tall, imposing Murray, who has been in jail for three weeks, was allowed to change into street clothes — a charcoal gray suit and white shirt — for court. But he wore prison issue white socks and soft slippers.

Jackson's family said in a statement read in court that they were not seeking revenge but a stiff sentence for Murray that served as a warning to opportunistic doctors. Afterward, they said they were pleased with the judge's sentence.

"We're going to be a family. We're going to move forward. We're going to tour, play the music and miss him," brother Jermaine Jackson said.

After sentencing, Murray mouthed the words "I love you" to his mother and girlfriend in the courtroom. Murray's mother, Milta Rush, sat alone on a bench in the courthouse hallway.

"My son is not what they charged him to be," she said quietly. "He was a gentle child from the time he was small."

Of her son's future, she said, "God is in charge."

Murray, 58, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a six-week trial that presented the most detailed account yet of Jackson's final hours, a story of the performer's anguish over being unable to sleep.

Pastor was relentless in his bashing of Murray, saying the physician lied repeatedly and abandoned Jackson when he was at his most vulnerable — under the anesthesia that Murray administered in an unorthodox effort to induce sleep.

"It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment," he said.

Propofol is supposed to be used in hospital settings and has never been approved for sleep treatments, yet Murray acknowledged giving it to Jackson then leaving the room on the day the singer died.

As for defense arguments that Jackson tempted his own fate when he demanded propofol, Pastor said, "Dr. Murray could have walked away and said no as countless others did. But Dr. Murray was intrigued with the prospect of this money-for-madness medicine."

Pastor said Murray was motivated by a desire for "money, fame and prestige" and cared more about himself than Jackson.

The doctor was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson's personal physician for $150,000 a month during his comeback tour. The singer, however, died before Murray received any money.

"There are those who feel Dr. Murray is a saint and those who feel he is the devil," Pastor said. "He is neither. He is a human being who caused the death of another human being."

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff implored Pastor to look at Murray's life and give him credit for a career of good works. "I do wonder whether the court considers the book of a man's life, not just one chapter," Chernoff said.

The judge responded: "I accept Mr. Chernoff's invitation to read the whole book of Dr. Murray's life. But I also read the book of Michael Jackson's life, including the sad final chapter of Dr. Murray's treatment of Michael Jackson."

Chernoff suggested that Murray is being punished enough by the stigma of having caused Jackson's death. "Whether Dr. Murray is a barista or a greeter at Walmart, he is still the man that killed Michael Jackson," he said.

The judge said one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray's case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor's cell phone. His speech was barely intelligible and Murray would say later Jackson was under the influence of propofol.

Pastor suggested Murray might have been planning to use it to blackmail Jackson if there was a falling out between them. "That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," Pastor said.

Defense attorneys never explained in court why he recorded Jackson six weeks before his death. In the recording, Jackson talked about the importance of making his shows on the comeback tour "phenomenal."

Jackson's death in June 2009 stunned the world, as did the ensuing investigation that led to Murray being charged in February 2010.

Murray declined to testify during his trial but did participate in a documentary in which he said he didn't consider himself guilty of any crime and blamed Jackson for entrapping him into administering the propofol doses.

"Yikes," the judge said. "Talk about blaming the victim!"

Murray's attorneys presented 34 letters from relatives, friends and former patients to win a lighter sentence. They described Murray's compassion as a doctor, including accepting lower payments from his mostly poor patients.

In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Murray's statements to advocate for the maximum term. They also want him to pay restitution to the singer's three children — Prince, Paris and Blanket.

The exact amount Murray has to pay will be determined at a hearing in January.

In the meantime, sheriff's officials said Murray will serve a little less than two years behind bars. A recent change in California law requires Murray to serve his sentence in county jail rather than state prison.

District Attorney Steve Cooley said he was considering asking Pastor to modify the sentence to classify the crime as a serious felony warranting incarceration in state prison.

"This is going to be a real test of our criminal justice system to see if it's meaningful at all," Cooley said.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Egypt election: Long queues in first post-Mubarak vote

egypt
Election in Egypt
Large numbers of Egyptians have turned out to vote in the first elections since former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February.

Voting was extended to cope with the high turnout and few security problems were reported.

There had been fears the vote might be delayed after deadly protests against the interim military rulers who replaced Mr Mubarak.

Protesters occupying Cairo's Tahrir Square have boycotted the vote.

The protesters fear the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, which is overseeing the transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule, is trying to retain power.

At least 41 demonstrators have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded in the past 10 days, as tensions have flared in the Arab world's most populous state.
Voters 'energised'

Early on Monday, queues formed outside polling stations in Cairo before the official opening time of 08:00 (06:00 GMT).

A high turnout was reported in many areas, and in places queues were said to have stretched up to 3km (two miles).

"Before we knew in advance who was going to dominate, so apathy was the order of the day," Alexandria taxi driver Etimad Sameh told Reuters news agency. "Today we don't know what the outcome will be. Voters are energised."

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo called the scene at a polling station there a "chaotic celebration of democracy", as people pushed to cast their votes.

Elsewhere, more orderly queues formed.

Officials blamed a delay to the voting in some Cairo constituencies on the late arrival of ballot papers and a shortage of ink and administrative officers.

The head of the Supreme Judicial Committee for Elections, Judge Abdel Moez Ibrahim, said voting would be extended until midnight in all constituencies affected by a late start.

Later, the military council said all polling stations would remain open an extra two hours until 21:00 to accommodate the high turnout.

In a violation of election rules, pamphlets for some candidates were distributed outside some polling stations.

State-run TV reported that 25 people were injured in election-related violence.

In Assiut, in the south, the army said it had regained control after a shooting incident. Officials denied reports that voters there had attacked polling stations.

There have also been reports that in Cairo and Port Said, candidates' numbers on voting cards had been changed.

Leftist candidate Al-Badry Farghali, in Port Said, told the BBC this had happened to him and another candidate, George Ishaq, a well-known activist.

Lengthy process

Voters in nine provinces, including Cairo, Port Said, Alexandria and Assiut vote on Monday and Tuesday in the first stage of a process extending until March.

Other provinces take their turns through December and early January for elections to the 508-member People's Assembly.

Voting for the upper house, or Shura Assembly, of parliament takes place after that and the presidential election is supposed to be held by mid-2012.

About 50 million people are eligible to vote out of a population in excess of 85 million - with candidates from 50 registered political parties.

The new parliament is likely have a strong Islamist bloc led by the Muslim Brotherhood, liberal groupings and some reconditioned relics of Hosni Mubarak's old party, says the BBC's Kevin Connolly in Cairo.

Official results from the first phase of voting should be announced on Wednesday, but the final make-up of the lower and upper house of parliament will not be clear until March.


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Sydney's Island Bar in full swing

sydney
Sydney, Australia
One of the best ways to kick off summer in Sydney might just be an outdoor barbecue in your best friend's backyard. Even better if that backyard has panoramic views of the city skyline and sunsets that most visitors to Sydney would pay a premium to see.

Island Bar, a trendy drinking oasis reached by ferry on the small, historic Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour, is back for its second season, and starting 1 December, will be open every day through 31 January.

The patio area, decked out with lawn chairs and an artificial grass lawn, is a stark contrast to the bar area, which is constructed from recycled shipping containers to honour the island’s shipbuilding and naval history. In the ample open-air seating, visitors can sip gourmet cocktails stirred up by mixologist Marco Faraone and dine on authentic Italian spuntini platters and wood-fired pizzas in Sydney's world-renowned summer weather. The new second floor Tropics Lounge overlooks the bar and water.

Island Bar is a perfect place to partake in the very Australian "Sunday Sesh", where locals spend the afternoon lazily hanging around with their best mates and a couple of jugs of Cold War Sgroppino -- a delightful mix of Russian Standard Vodka, lemon sorbet, Aperol and lemon juice. There’s also a tennis court nearby with the best backdrop in all of Sydney.

Visitors to Cockatoo Island before 11 December can stop by the Outpost Project, a street arts festival featuring more than 150 street artists from around the world. Along with perusing some visually stimulating art, drop by some of the pop-up bars and galleries tied to the festival before kicking back for the rest of the evening at Island Bar.


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Ken Russell, Women In Love director, dies at 84

ken russell
Ken Russell
Film director Ken Russell, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1969 film Women In Love, has died at the age of 84.

His son, Alex Verney-Elliott, said he died on Sunday following a series of strokes.

During his career, he became known for his controversial films including Women In Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude.

He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils and The Who's rock opera, Tommy, in 1975.

"My father died peacefully, he died with a smile on his face," Mr Verney-Elliott said.

Russell's widow, Elize, said she was "devastated" by her husband's death, which had been "completely unexpected".

She said the director had recently agreed to direct a musical feature film of Alice In Wonderland and had been working on the script and casting.

"He also had just completed an article for The Times on a review of the re-release of his film The Devils, so he was keeping himself very busy," she added.

Glenda Jackson, who gave an Oscar-winning performance in Women In Love and starred in a number of Russell's other films including Music Lovers, told the BBC it was "just wonderful to work with him and to work with him as often as I did".

"He created the kind of climate in which actors could do their job and I loved him dearly."

Jackson added that she believed the director had been overlooked by the British film industry, saying it was "a great shame".

"It was almost as if he never existed - I find it utterly scandalous for someone who was so innovative and a film director of international stature," she said.
'Creative force'

Joely Richardson, who starred opposite Sean Bean in Russell's 1993 BBC TV series Lady Chatterley, said: "I will forever feel privileged and honoured to have worked with the great Ken Russell.

"More than that, I was extremely fond of the man himself."

Lord Melvyn Bragg, who first worked as Russell's assistant in 1963 on BBC programme Monitor, said he was "an exceptional man".

"He was a glorious director at his best, his best films will be remembered. He was a tremendous ornament to the rather supine British film industry and he was the glory of the television arts industry," he said.

Film-maker Michael Winner hailed Russell's "duplicity of mind", adding he had made an "enormous contribution" to British cinema.

"He pushed the barriers completely and got away with it sometimes and didn't others, but he made some startling movies," said.

"He had an eye for the composition of each image on the screen - a great eye for imagery and then, of course, he had a great idea for the grotesque."

Friend and cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht said: "Among many achievements that spring to mind, he made British cinema less insular and self-referential.

"He was also a leading creative force in the history of British television. He will be widely mourned."

Russell later returned to more small budget, but no less flamboyant fare, including Crimes of Passion, Gothic, Salome's Last Dance and the cult horror-comedy The Lair of the White Worm, starring Hugh Grant.

The director also made an adaptation of DH Lawrence's The Rainbow followed by the gritty film, Whore, and even tried his hand at music videos, making Nikita for Sir Elton John.

Many of Russell's later films were dismissed as too eclectic and by the 1990s he found it almost impossible to get funding for his work.

He returned to the public eye in 2007, when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.

He lasted just four days before quitting the show after a disagreement with fellow contestant, the late Jade Goody.

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United States duo Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland win World Cup Golf 2011

golf
Golf 2011
World Cup 2011: Final-round leaderboard

    * -24: U.S.
    * -22: England, Germany
    * -21: Australia, Scotland, Ireland
    * Selected others: -20: Wales, Netherlands
    * -19: Spain, Korea

United States duo Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland hit six birdies in a closing 67 to win the World Cup by two shots.

The Americans eroded the overnight two-stroke lead held by Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in China, with birdies on the first two holes.

Four more birdies lifted them to 24 under as Ireland faded with four bogeys in a level-par 72 to stay 21 under.

England's Ian Poulter and Justin Rose carded a nine-under-par 63 to finish second alongside Germany on 22 under.

"We were a little subdued [after the third round] and neither of us were much company," admitted Poulter.

"We stayed in our own rooms, and kind of rightly so as four under par in fourball was very disappointing.

"But to go and shoot nine under par in foursomes is crazy."

Poulter and Rose sank four birdies on the front nine and finished with two birdies and an eagle in their last four holes as they recorded the lowest score of the final round at the Mission Hills course on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.

But although they caught and passed McIlroy and McDowell, who had held an eight-shot advantage over the Englishmen going into the final round, they were unable to match the Americans.

Kuchar and Woodland played solid, rather than spectacular, golf in the alternate shot foursomes format as they finished with a five-under-par 67 to record the United States's first victory in the tournament since Tiger Woods and David Duval teamed up in 2000.

"You think of all the sporting events, and you think of all the teams that become world champions, and in golf there are not that many opportunities to be world champions," said Kuchar.

"So to represent the United States of America and become world champions just feels great."

Their only blip was a bogey on the par-three 11th, but that dropped shot was wiped out on the 12th with a sixth birdie of the round following on the 13th.

In contrast, McIlroy and McDowell, who led by three on the back nine two years but were beaten to the title by Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, again struggled on the final day.

They mixed two bogies with two birdies on the front nine to fall two behind the Americans.

A birdie on the 10th brought them within one shot of the lead, but a bogey on 12 checked their progress and another shot went on the par-three 15th after McDowell's tee shot plugged under the lip of a greenside bunker.

McIlroy could only blast the ball a few feet out of the sand but when his playing partner missed the 25-foot par putt, their challenge was effectively ended.

They finished joint fourth with Australia, Netherlands and Scottish pair Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher who closed with eight birdies in a six-under-par 66.

German duo Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka did not drop a shot over the last two rounds and played the final 18 holes in a three-under 69, sinking a lengthy par putt at the last to ensure they finished joint second.

The World Cup used to be held annually but was switched to biennial after 2009 to accommodate golf's inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games.


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The Largest Pacific Octopus At The National Zoo

octupas
Octupas
WASHINGTON -- There's a new giant Pacific octopus at the National Zoo. Sadly, only kids age 5 to 15 can enter The Washington Post's contest to name the new octopus (or else we might have some of our own suggestions).

The giant Pacific octopus is the largest octopus in the world -- it can grow up to 600 pounds; the zoo's new octopus is about the size of a grapefruit now. Giant Pacific octopuses -- the plural of octopus is octopuses, octopi or octopodes, as you like -- are quite intelligent, change color to blend in with their environments and usually live around four years. (Strangely, according to researchers, it's possible that giant Pacific octopuses could live longer if their optic glands were removed.) As the name suggests, the giant Pacific octopus is found in the Pacific -- in the northern part of the ocean, at depths of up to 2,500 feet.

The zoo had another giant Pacific octopus, acquired in 2010, named Octavius. She was about four years old when she died on Nov. 4.

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World's Most Secret Islands

We turned up 10 dreamy islands unknown to the average U.S. traveler. 
By Jamie Moore
Looking for the perfect place to get away from it all? We searched the world and turned up 10 dreamy islands unknown to the average U.S. traveler. These little patches of unspoiled paradise, from the Great Lakes to the South China Sea, are relatively affordable and easy to get to. And the idea of getting stranded on any one of them would be, well, absolutely OK with us.

Madeline Island
Location: Lake Superior, just off Wisconsin
Size: 14 miles long by three miles wide
Population: 300 year-round; 2,500 in summer

Midwesterners need not go far for a secluded island paradise. Part of Wisconsin's Apostle Islands archipelago, Madeline has many trappings of a tropical oasis—sandy beaches, sailing charters, sea caves, cliff-jumping, and even stand-up paddleboarding. No wonder the population swells in summer. Visit in winter and you can make first tracks on a dogsled or see ice caves.

Island time
Kayak to sea caves, historical lighthouses, and a century-old shipwreck with Adventure Vacations or Living Adventure. Raise a glass to live music at the quirky Tom's Burned Down Cafe. Don't miss locally caught trout on The Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar's beachfront patio.

Getting here
Board the Madeline Island Car Ferry (25 minutes) at Bayfield. You can also walk onto the ferry and rent a bike or moped from the island's Motion to Go. In winter (mid-January through February), arrive by air-propelled wind sled or drive the ice road.

Location: U.S. Atlantic Coast, just off Virginia
Size: Three miles long by one mile wide
Population: 727

This little island 12 miles off of northern Virginia is one of the last isolated fishing villages left on the Chesapeake Bay. Out here it's a completely different world. Locals speak in a thick accent that sounds like a cross between Elizabethan English and the Old South. They drive golf carts on the virtually carless island. And the salty Tangier watermen still carry on the centuries-old tradition of harvesting crabs in the bay.

Island time
During a waterman tour, a Tangier captain teaches you how to pull crab pots. Try the incredible crab bisque and crab cakes made by wives of watermen at Fisherman's Corner Restaurant. Rent a free kayak at the Tangier History Museum and Interpretive Cultural Center and follow the island's water trails.

Getting here
Three seasonal ferries (one to one-and-a-half hours) and two year-round ferries (45 minutes) link the island with mainland Virginia and Maryland. There's also a small Tangier Island Airport.

Staniel Cay
Staniel Cay
Staniel Cay

Location: Eastern Caribbean,Bahamas Out Islands
Size: Less than two square miles
Population: 80

A tiny link in the chain of Exuma Cays, this gem lies 250 miles off the coast of Florida in the Bahamas' famously clear turquoise waters. Many of the Exhumas are private (Johnny Depp owns one) or ultraexclusive, but Staniel Cay is an exception. Here, you can stay in a cottage on stilts over the ocean for only $165 per night. Everything but the price seems top-shelf.

Island time
Go for the all-inclusive package ($176 per person per night) at Staniel Cay Yacht Club—the island's only lodging—and get a waterfront cottage, all meals, and your own 13-foot Boston Whaler during your stay. Cruise to a deserted beach or see the swimming pigs at Major Cay. Snorkel at Thunderball Grotto, a hollowed-out island and the filming location for James Bond's Thunderball.

Getting here
The yacht club arranges shared charter flights (two-and-a-half hours) from Ft.Lauderdale on Watermakers Air starting at $200 per person one-way.

Fernando De Noronha
Location: Western Atlantic, 220 miles off Brazil's coast
Size: Seven square miles
Population: 3,012
Peaks of a submerged mountain range rise up out of the sea to form this beautiful Brazilian 21-island archipelago. The largest island is the only one populated, but throngs of vacationers never clog its perfect coves of white-sand beaches. The government restricts tourism to 420 visitors at a time. Yes, this is the kind of place you want to (and can) be left to your own devices with a little motorbike: There's just one traffic light.

Island time
Two major ocean currents meet here, making it one of the world's best places to see a diverse range of marine life while snorkeling or scuba diving. All visitors stay in small pousadas whose owners take a personal interest in guests—a bit like having your own valet.

Getting here
Fly from Natal (70 minutes) or Recife (100 minutes), two Brazilian cities accessed by direct flights from major U.S. airports. Save with a Brazil air pass.

Mighty seaside cliffs. Rugged mountain ridges. Moorland peninsulas. It's a picture-perfect Scottish scene in the Inner Hebrides islands. Filled with abundant wildlife and dramatic scenery, Mull is one of Scotland's best places for seeing whales (April through September) and for spotting the white-tailed eagle, the U.K.'s largest bird of prey. Hike the coastal and glen trails or the more challenging peaks with views of neighboring islands Iona and Staffa.

Island time
Wilderness Scotland has hike-and-stay packages with the Tiroran House Hotel that include breakfast and dinner for less than $200 per person per night. In the colorful port of Tobermory, dig into fish-and-chips or the fresh scallops (a Prince Charles favorite) at the Fisherman's Pier Fish & Chip Van. Wash it down with a visit to Tobermory's malt whisky distillery.

Getting here
On the mainland, take a CalMac car ferry from Oban to Craignure (40 minutes), from Kilchoan to Tobermory (35 minutes), or from Lochaline to Fishnish (15 minutes).

One of the last rural holdouts in Singapore, Pulau Ubin ("Granite Island") near Changi Point is a freeze-frame of Malay kampong village life in the 1960s. Thatched-roof homes sit among forested rolling hills and abandoned granite quarries. Fishermen live on kelongs, old wooden fishing houses built on stilts over the water. It's a soul-soothing escape from the highly urbanized buzz on the nearby mainland.

Island time
Experience village life, thick forests, and the occasional monkey or wild pig from the seat of a rented bicycle or on a walking tour. The island is known for its great seafood restaurants, and the steamed crab is divine. See interesting low-tide marine life at Chek Jawa or hit the sandy beach at East Coast Park. For a kampong-style stay, ride to Celestial Resort. Rooms start at less than $100 per night.

Getting here
At the Changi Point Ferry Terminal near Changi Village, take the 10-minute bumboat ride that departs once there are 12 passengers.

One of 44 islands between Phuket and Krabi, Koh Yao Yai ("Big Long Island") is the largest but not the most developed. Here, where mass tourism hasn't taken hold, locals earn a modest living by fishing, rice farming, and working the rubber plantation. You can stretch out on footprint-free sand and really feel like you're staking out an undiscovered place. Since your dollar goes further in Thailand than most destinations, the island is quite affordable.

Island time
See local life on a bike ride. Or rent a long-tail boat and go island-hopping to Khai Nok and Khai Nai for great snorkeling. Elixir Resort and Koh Yao Yai Village run various types of tours and have private thatched-roof bungalows furnished in old Thai style.

Getting here
Fly into Phuket International Airport. Nearby ferries (60 minutes) and public speedboats (30 minutes) operate from piers in Phuket. Multiday Journeys Within tours start in Phuket, stopping in Koh Yao Yai and Krabi.

With waters tinted the purest shades of blue and mountains covered in every hue of green, Kosrae is a speck in the vast sea between Hawaii and Guam. This lush spot just north of the equator enchants with cloud forests, mangroves, waterfalls, and soft, sandy beaches. On Kosrae locals still follow traditions of carving and canoe-building. Look out to sea and you'll likely find fishermen and women working from a canoe or locals practicing for annual canoe races.

Island time
Dive or snorkel among some of the world's last remaining pristine fringe reefs, a sunken pirate ship, a wooden whaler, and planes from WWII. Explore haunting 13th-century ruins, or paddle an outrigger canoe through mangroves. At Kosrae Village eco-lodge and dive resort, you can sleep in a private cottage on a sandy beach for $119 to $169 per night.

Getting here
Continental (which is merging with United) flies to Kosrae. The airline is part of the Star Alliance, which sells a Micronesia Airpass with great savings if you want to visit multiple islands.

Off France's west coast, this charming vacation haven is connected to La Rochelle by a two-mile bridge. You'd think a place this accessible to Europe's population would be jammed with commercialism. Instead, the majority of Île de Ré is protected. Vineyards, forests, dunes, and salt marshes, where fleur de sel is still gathered using traditional methods, are all part of nature reserves. Although the population spikes in summer, there's still a quiet simplicity soaked up in the understated style you'd expect from the French on holiday.

Island time
Absolutely flat terrain and more than 60 miles of well-used bike paths have prevented an automobile invasion on this popular island. Rent a bicycle and cruise to natural, unannounced beaches and across pungent salt marshes. Stop and buy a basket of oysters from an oyster farmer, or explore one of 10 villages.

Getting there
Catch a TGV high-speed train from Paris (three hours) to La Rochelle and connect with a bus or taxi to the island.

This easygoing island, tucked between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island, is the quintessential snapshot of West Coast life. Its residents—free-spirited artists and musicians, retired millionaires, and organic farmers—have abandoned the fast track to build lives rich in community and natural beauty. Get a glimpse on an artisan studio tour, which takes you to a lavender farm, a cheese shop, a jewelry maker, and more.

Island time
Wander down to the Ganges dock for fresh crab ($10). Explore coastal tidepools at Ruckle Park or swim at Vesuvius Beach. Pick up local produce at the Saturday Market and take it to Salt Spring Vineyards for a picnic with your wine tasting. Splurge on a stay at the Hastings House or find excellent value at Salt Spring Inn (less than $100 per night), which overlooks the main village and harbor.

Getting here
Harbour Air and Salt Spring Air seaplanes fly to the island (30 minutes) from downtown Vancouver. Salt Spring Air also flies from Vancouver International Airport. B.C. Ferries connects from the Vancouver area (one-and-a-half to three hours)

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hope Solo says DWTS told her she ‘had too much muscle’

hope solo
Hope Solo
Coming off the high of last summer's second-place finish at the Women's World Cup, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy made it to the semi-finals of televised celebrity ballroom dancing spectacle Dancing with the Stars before being eliminated.

Between gossip mongers pushing stories of problems between Solo and Chmerkovskiy and the show's judges upsetting the goalkeeper with their harsh critiques early on in the competition, it was clear that this wasn't always a fun experience for Solo even before it was over. But in her first interview since the end of the competition, Hope said that the show's criticisms of her ran deeper than opinions on dance technique. She told Anderson Cooper:

    "I was told I had too much muscle and I was too intense and wasn't very dainty. Well, hello -- you cast a female professional athlete. Help me get better as a dancer. There's no hard feelings at all. I understand that it's television."

Six of the show's 13 winners have been athletes, but only two of those winners have been female athletes: Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson. And the figure skater and Olympic gymnast are much more in line with the judges' narrow vision for "dainty" female dancers than the 5'9" shot stopper, who recently showed off her impressive form in ESPN The Magazine body (read: naked) issue. However, in season four of the show, former boxer Laila Ali (who is 5'10") was also paired with Chmerkovskiy, finished third in the competition and received the first perfect "10" from judge Len Goodman for their rumba dance.

It does seem Solo has calmed down a bit since her reaction to the judging of her final performances got her branded as a "sore loser," though. From People:

    In a video recap of Monday's performances, Solo, 30, complained about her scores: "Sevens? The same thing I got in week one. Kiss my booty," she said, adding, "The scores at this point, the judges at this point mean nothing." The pair were also heard swearing about the judges as they awaited their second set of scores: "F——— 'em," they said, with Solo also tossing in that she didn't even want to look at the panel.

Solo also told Cooper that she was "a little naive" going into the "reality show." It sounds like the same (as well as a few other choice words Hope already used) can be said for the show's producers.

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8 of the World’s Healthiest Spices & Herbs You Should Be Eating

pepper
Pepper
By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D., Associate Nutrition Editor at EatingWell Magazine

As a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor at EatingWell Magazine, I know that herbs and spices do more than simply add flavor to food. They let you cut down on some less-healthy ingredients, such as salt, added sugars and saturated fat, and some have inherent health benefits, many of which Joyce Hendley reported on for EatingWell Magazine.

Modern science is beginning to uncover the ultimate power of spices and herbs, as weapons against illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer's disease. "We're now starting to see a scientific basis for why people have been using spices medicinally for thousands of years," says Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and author of Healing Spices (Sterling, 2011).

Aggarwal notes that in his native India, where spices tend to be used by the handful, incidence of diet-related diseases like heart disease and cancer have long been low. But when Indians move away and adopt more Westernized eating patterns, their rates of those diseases rise. While researchers usually blame the meatier, fattier nature of Western diets, Aggarwal and other experts believe that herbs and spices-or more precisely, the lack of them-are also an important piece of the dietary puzzle. "When Indians eat more Westernized foods, they're getting much fewer spices than their traditional diet contains," he explains. "They lose the protection those spices are conveying."

While science has yet to show that any spice cures disease, there's compelling evidence that several may help manage some chronic conditions (though it's always smart to talk with your doctor). What's not to love? Here we've gathered eight of the healthiest spices and herbs enjoyed around the world.

Chile Peppers
May help: Boost metabolism.
Chile peppers add a much-appreciated heat to chilly-weather dishes, and they can also give a boost to your metabolism. Thank capsaicin, the compound that gives fresh chiles, and spices including cayenne and chipotle, their kick. Studies show that capsaicin can increase the body's metabolic rate (causing one to burn more calories) and may stimulate brain chemicals that help us feel less hungry. In fact, one study found that people ate 16 percent fewer calories at a meal if they'd sipped a hot-pepper-spiked tomato juice (vs. plain tomato juice) half an hour earlier. Recent research found that capsinoids, similar but gentler chemicals found in milder chile hybrids, have the same effects-so even tamer sweet paprika packs a healthy punch. Capsaicin may also lower risk of ulcers by boosting the ability of stomach cells to resist infection by ulcer-causing bacteria and help the heart by keeping "bad" LDL cholesterol from turning into a more lethal, artery-clogging form.
Don't Miss: Foods That Blast Belly Fat

Ginger
May help: Soothe an upset stomach, fight arthritis pain.
Ginger has a well-deserved reputation for relieving an unsettled stomach. Studies show ginger extracts can help reduce nausea caused by morning sickness or following surgery or chemotherapy, though it's less effective for motion sickness. But ginger is also packed with inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which some experts believe may hold promise in fighting some cancers and may reduce the aches of osteoarthritis and soothe sore muscles. In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules). Another study found that ginger-extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee.
Must-Read: 5 Foods That Fight Pain Naturally

Cinnamon
May help: Stabilize blood sugar.
A few studies suggest that adding cinnamon to food-up to a teaspoon a day, usually given in capsule form-might help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar, by lowering post-meal blood-sugar spikes. Other studies suggest the effects are limited at best.

Turmeric
May help: Quell inflammation, inhibit tumors.
Turmeric, the goldenrod-colored spice, is used in India to help wounds heal (it's applied as a paste); it's also made into a tea to relieve colds and respiratory problems. Modern medicine confirms some solid-gold health benefits as well; most are associated with curcumin, a compound in turmeric that has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to help relieve pain of arthritis, injuries and dental procedures; it's also being studied for its potential in managing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Researcher Bharat Aggarwal is bullish on curcumin's potential as a cancer treatment, particularly in colon, prostate and breast cancers; preliminary studies have found that curcumin can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens.

Saffron
May help: Lift your mood.
Saffron has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood lifter, usually steeped into a medicinal tea or used to prepare rice. Research from Iran's Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital at Tehran University of Medical Sciences has found that saffron may help to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and depression. In one study, 75% of women with PMS who were given saffron capsules daily reported that their PMS symptoms (such as mood swings and depression) declined by at least half, compared with only 8 percent of women who didn't take saffron.
Must-Read: 4 Foods to Boost Your Mood

Parsley
May help: Inhibit breast cancer-cell growth.
University of Missouri scientists found that this herb can actually inhibit breast cancer-cell growth, reported Holly Pevzner in the September/October 2011 issue of EatingWell Magazine. In the study, animals that were given apigenin, a compound abundant in parsley (and in celery), boosted their resistance to developing cancerous tumors. Experts recommend adding a couple pinches of minced fresh parsley to your dishes daily.

Sage
May help: Preserve memory, soothe sore throats.
Herbalists recommend sipping sage tea for upset stomachs and sore throats, a remedy supported by one study that found spraying sore throats with a sage solution gave effective pain relief. And preliminary research suggests the herb may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer's disease by preventing a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. In another study, college students who took sage extracts in capsule form performed significantly better on memory tests, and their moods improved.

Rosemary
May help: Enhance mental focus, fight foodborne bacteria.
One recent study found that people performed better on memory and alertness tests when mists of aromatic rosemary oil were piped into their study cubicles. Rosemary is often used in marinades for meats and poultry, and there's scientific wisdom behind that tradition: rosmarinic acid and other antioxidant compounds in the herb fight bacteria and prevent meat from spoiling, and may even make cooked meats healthier. In March 2010, Kansas State University researchers reported that adding rosemary extracts to ground beef helped prevent the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs)-cancer-causing compounds produced when meats are grilled, broiled or fried.

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Cowboys cheerleader knocked over by Witten forced off Twitter

melissa kellerman
Melissa Kellerman
Cheerleader Melissa Kellerman was barely into the middle part of her 15 minutes of fame when the Dallas Cowboys pulled the plug.

Kellerman, a 22-year-old student in her fourth year with the team, became a national sensation on Thanksgiving when she was accidentally tackled on the sideline by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

CNBC's Darren Rovell reported that Kellerman was forced to delete her Twitter account after posting two messages on Friday morning about the incident. Her Tweets were good-natured and innocuous.

Those were pretty much the perfect tweets: Clever, self-deprecating and a bit funny. (We'll even ignore the winking emoticons.) Why did she have to delete her Twitter account? Do the Cowboys believe cheerleaders are only to be seen, not heard?

Hardly. The team allows cameras to record cheerleader auditions for a reality show on CMT. It's alright when the team controls the message but not when a cheerleader begins to get a following and has the stage to herself? This should have been a win-win for everyone involved. Witten looked chivalrous when he helped up Kellerman, she became endearing with her laughter and positive attitude. Both the franchise and the cheerleaders looked good after this. Now, only Kellerman does.

The 22-year old South Carolina native is studying to become a teacher.


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Prince William Rescues Two Sailors From Sinking Carrier Ship In Irish Sea

price william
Prince William
Prince William took part in a rescue mission after a cargo ship sank in the Irish Sea early Sunday morning, CNN reports.

Two of the crew were pulled to safety, however five still remain missing after one body was recovered, the British Coastguard confirmed to the BBC.

The two men were airlifted to safety by a four-man crew, which included the Duke of Cambridge -- second in line to the throne -- who is a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, Fox News explains.

The coastguard received a mayday call at 2 a.m. local time from the Swanland cargo carrier ship located 20 miles northwest of the Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, after its hull cracked.

The ship, carrying eight people and 3,000 tons of limestone, capsized before rescue forces arrived, notes MSNBC.

"We know that at least some of them are wearing immersion suits and have strobe lighting with them, however sea conditions are challenging at best," Jim Green, a coastguard spokesman told News.com.au.

The British RAF, the Irish Coastguard and an Irish Naval ship are continuing to search for the missing five people.

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Roger Federer reaches 100th career final

roger federer
Roger Federer
LONDON— Every time Roger Federer steps onto the court, another milestone seems to be within grasp.

He seized another one Saturday, reaching his 100th career final by beating David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals. Federer could add a few more Sunday. He's in position to win his 70th title overall and a record sixth at the season-ending tournament for the world's top eight players.

"It's obviously a special occasion for me," said Federer, who will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

Tsonga beat Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5 in the late match, putting the sixth-seeded Frenchman into the final of this event for the first time, in only his second appearance.

"Roger is the best player for the moment indoors," Tsonga said. "It's going to be really special here, for my first final here. It's going to be an amazing atmosphere on court, and I like that. ... I know it's the last match (of the year) so I will give it everything."

The victory over Ferrer sent Federer past Andy Murray to No. 3 in the year-end rankings, trailing No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic and Nadal were eliminated after losing two of their round-robin matches this week, both saying their minds and bodies weren't up for top-level tennis following another grueling season. Murray pulled out injured following his opening loss to Ferrer on Monday.

Federer — who holds a record 16 Grand Slam titles — is tied with Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras with five victories at the ATP Finals, formerly known as the Masters Cup. A win Sunday would also tie Lendl's record of 39 match victories in the event.

Federer became the fifth player to reach 100 finals in the open era, joining Jimmy Connors (163), Lendl (146), John McEnroe (108) and Guillermo Vilas (104).

"I'm shocked every time that I've reached so many finals or won against so many players or whatever record it is," Federer said. "It strikes me and makes me obviously very happy and very proud that I've been able to do it for so many years at the highest of levels."

And with his 806th victory Saturday, Federer moved into a share of sixth place on the career list with Stefan Edberg.

"Stefan was my idol," Federer said. "So to achieve something that he achieved is obviously very nice. I don't think it matters much, but it's still very nice to get reminded that you equaled your idol's or hero's achievements."

In a tournament where his biggest rivals complained of fatigue after failing to make it out of the group stage,Federer showed no signs of slowing down. The 30-year-old Swiss star extended his unbeaten streak to 16 matches after winning titles in Basel and Paris before coming to London.

Federer has played some of his best tennis of the year in London, and while he did not look as sharp against Ferrer as he did in his three group-stage victories, he never faced a break point. He broke the fifth-seeded Spaniard twice in the second set and converted his second match point with a forehand winner.

Ferrer came within two points of the first set six times in Federer's service game when the Spaniard led 5-4. But he never earned a break point in a game that went to deuce five times, and Federer finally held when Ferrer sent a backhand passing shot wide. That marked a turning point, with Federer winning the next four games as well to take control.

"Obviously it was a key 5-4 game for me," Federer said. "That was a crucial sort of 15, 20 minutes for me. I'm happy I was able to decide the match right there."

Ferrer dropped to 0-12 against Federer. The Spaniard started the week by beating Murray and Djokovic convincingly, but couldn't keep up that level of play less than 16 hours after losing a three-set match against Berdych on Friday.

"Maybe I didn't have really time to relax, but (that) is not the excuse here," Ferrer said. "He played better than me."

Berdych also struggled against the rested Tsonga, landing just 53 percent of his first serves and double-faulting five times — including on break point to go down 4-3 in the second set.

The Czech broke back immediately but then lost serve again to let Tsonga take a decisive 6-5 lead, and the Frenchman served out the match with an ace.

Tsonga will play Federer for the third Sunday in a row, after losing to him in the Paris final two weeks ago and their first round-robin match in London last weekend.

In doubles, Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada reached the final, beating American twins Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (6), 6-4. They will play Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland, who beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes of India 6-4, 4-6, 10-6.

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Black Friday Sales Up Seven Percent Over 2010

black friday
Black Friday Shopping
The holiday shopping season got off to a strong start on Black Friday, with retail sales up 7 percent over last year, according to the most recent survey. Now stores just have to keep buyers coming back without the promise of door-buster savings.

Buyers spent $11.4 billion at retail stores and malls, up nearly $1 billion from last year, according to a Saturday report from ShopperTrak. It was the largest amount ever spent on the day that marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and the biggest year-over-year increase since 2007. Chicago-based ShopperTrak gathers data from 25,000 outlets across the U.S., including individual stores and shopping centers.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. broke its Black Friday record for shoppers, thanks to a decision to open at midnight for the first time. Around 210,000 visitors came to the mall on Friday, up from 200,000 last year, according to mall spokeswoman Bridget Jewell.

Online shopping was strong as well, with a 24.3 percent increase in online spending on Black Friday, according to IBM, which tracks sales at 500 online retailers.

Bill Martin, who founded ShopperTrak, said he was surprised by the strong showing. He had expected the weak economy to dent consumer confidence and keep more shoppers out of the stores, or at least from spending much. Instead, he said, they responded to a blanket of promotions, from 60- and 70-percent off deals to door-buster savings on electronics.

"I'm pleased to see it. You can't have a great season without having a good Black Friday," Martin told The Associated Press in an interview.

Sales were also up 4 percent each in the two weeks leading up to Black Friday, as retailers started their promotions earlier than usual or extended their hours.

Still, he suspects things will quiet down this weekend, as promotions end and the buying frenzy subsides. ShopperTrak is expecting holiday sales to be up 3.3 percent this season. Retailers generally rely on sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make up 20 percent of their annual take.

There weren't many shoppers at Pioneer Place Mall in Portland, Ore., on Saturday.

"This is great, I'm glad I waited," said MaryJane Danan, who drove two hours from Corvallis, Ore., to go shopping with her teenage daughters. She stayed home on Black Friday because she thought the crowds would be huge. But she was surprised by how few people were out Saturday.

At Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, N.C., Mary Aker was forced to use valet parking Friday because she couldn't find a parking spot. But on Saturday, the pace had let up a little, so she and her husband came back to do some more shopping.

Aker, 58, a retired librarian, said she's spending about as much as she usually does for Christmas. But she's asking people what they want ahead of time to make sure everyone is happy.

At the same mall, sisters Patricia Harrington, Betty Thomas and Laverne Kelly had been shopping all weekend, starting with an all-nighter Thursday after Thanksgiving dinner. The sisters said things calmed down considerably by Friday and Saturday. They suspected a lot of people were shopping online, but they were also underwhelmed by the discounts.

"People are losing their jobs. They should have better deals," said Kelly, 50 and a customer service agent at FedEx.

"There are a lot of people out here but fewer bags," added Thomas, 52 and a health coordinator at a Raleigh hospital.

Thanksgiving weekend, particularly Black Friday, is huge for retailers. Over the past six years, Black Friday was the biggest sales day of the year, and it is expected to keep that crown this year, though shoppers seem to be procrastinating more every year and the fate of the holiday season is increasingly coming down to the last few days before Christmas.

Last year, the Thanksgiving shopping weekend accounted for 12.1 percent of overall holiday sales. Black Friday made up about half of that.

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Togo Bus Crash: Soccer Players Killed After Vehicle Plunges Into Ravine

togo bus crash
Soccer Player
LOME, Togo — At least six topflight Togolese soccer players were killed and another 28 people critically injured on Saturday after a bus carrying their team plunged into a ravine and caught fire.

In a statement read on national television, the Togo government said President Faure Gnassingbe had ordered that those injured from the Etoile Filante club be taken to the military wing of the Lome Central Hospital to receive urgent medical attention.

A delegation, led by sports minister Christophe Tchao, traveled to the accident site with an ambulance to evacuate the injured.

The accident happened near the city of Atakpame, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Lome, as Etoile Filante was on its way to Togo's second largest city of Sokode for Sunday's league game against Semassi.

A tire is believed to have burst, causing the bus to topple over and plunge down a ravine. Some of the victims reportedly burnt to death. Eyewitness accounts said the bus flipped over several times as it crashed into the ravine.

"We do not know how we managed to get out of the accident," said one of the survivors, goalkeeper Mama Souleyman.

Images on Togo national television showed the smoldering wreckage of the bus, which was almost completely burnt to ashes.

Lome-based Etoile Filante is a seven-time Togo national league champion and was runner-up in Africa's continental club competition in 1968.

Last year, two Togo national team officials were killed and several players hurt after a gun attack on the team's bus as it traveled to the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola.

In 2007, Togo sports minister Richard Attipoe was among 22 people who died when a helicopter carrying Togolese soccer fans and officials crashed in Sierra Leone after an African Cup qualifying match.

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