NEW YORK – "Avatar" has topped all movies at the box-office to dominate for a seventh straight week.
According to studio estimates Sunday, James Cameron's 3-D epic added $30 million to bring its total to $594.5 million. It has already set a worldwide box-office record, and it is on track to soon overtake the domestic record set by Cameron's "Titanic."
Coming in second in its debut weekend was Mel Gibson's revenge-thriller "Edge of Darkness," which earned $17.1 million. That movie has been widely seen as a test to whether Gibson can return to headline a film, after eight years and damage to his image.
Also in its first weekend of release was "When in Rome," the Walt Disney romantic comedy starring Kristen Bell. It took in $12.1 million.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
LOS ANGELES – Kathryn Bigelow and "The Hurt Locker" became official awards-season front-runners Saturday after Bigelow won the top prize from the Directors Guild of America.
The 58-year-old filmmaker is the first woman to win the guild's top honor, which positions her and the film as shoe-ins for the Academy Awards. The DGA boasts that its winner has gone on to win the Oscar all but six times since 1948.
"This is the most incredible moment of my life," Bigelow said backstage. She downplayed her gender, saying, "I suppose I like to think of myself as a filmmaker."
Still, she was the only nominated director who earned accolades for her physique as well as her filmmaking. Bigelow was up against Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds," Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air," Lee Daniels for "Precious" and her ex-husband James Cameron for "Avatar."
"Hurt Locker" star Jeremy Renner called Bigelow "a warrior, my champion and the most fortunate actor's director."
Tarantino praised her as "queen of directors." He said his fellow nominees have been spending so much time together, they have become "like a superstar rock band and we're going to go on tour together."
Clutching a shiny medallion as a souvenir of his DGA nomination, Tarantino said, "I don't give a (expletive) who wins, I am so happy to have this."
Daniels said the nominated directors, who have seen each other regularly throughout Hollywood's awards season, are "like a support group" for one another.
"We have each other's backs," he said.
He told Bigelow, "You are bold. You are brave. You are gutsy."
Reitman told the winning director that he grew up watching her films.
"You are more than a great director, you are one of the greats," he said. "I'm in awe of you, too."
Cameron praised his competitors as "truly excellent and brilliant filmmakers."
Bigelow said just being nominated for the Directors Guild honor is "kind of the pinnacle for the already wild ride 'The Hurt Locker' has put me on."
The four-hour affair at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel drew a spate of celebrities, including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Jodie Foster, Jon Cryer, Cheryl Hines and Jason Bateman. All but Jolie served as presenters during Saturday's ceremony.
Carl Reiner hosted the event recognizing achievements in directing, as he has for 22 years.
"Modern Family" won the top honor for television comedy for its pilot, directed by Jason Winer.
"I want to thank the DGA for validating the Napoleon complex I've had ever since I was a smaller boy," the diminutive director said.
The drama prize went to "Mad Men" and director Lesli Linka Glatter. Ross Katz was honored for the HBO movie "Taking Chance." Louie Psihoyos' film "The Cove" won the documentary award.
"The film plays like a prequel to 'Avatar,' only it's real and set in the present," Psihoyos said.
Cher presented Norman Jewison with the guild's Lifetime Achievement Award for his career in film.
"The studio heads maybe have all the power, but we've got the glory," he said. "And when you receive the lifetime achievement award like this, it makes you very nervous, like maybe you're going to fall off the perch or something."
The 83-year-old filmmaker accepted the award surrounded by his family, including his four grandchildren.
Cher said she would have gone to the moon to present Jewison with the honor.
"He has changed my life," said Cher, who starred in "Moonstruck," Jewison's 1987 hit. "I love him so much."
Roger Goodman was presented the guild's lifetime achievement award in news direction. Disney chief Robert Iger and Warner Bros. chief Barry Meyer were granted honorary life memberships in the guild.
Among other guild winners:
• Reality programming: Craig Borders, "Hong Kong Bridge."
• Children's programs: Allison Liddi-Brown, "Princess Protection Program."
• Daytime serials: Christopher Goutman, "As the World Turns: Once Upon a Time."
• Commercials: Tom Kuntz.
Among Hollywood's many honors leading up to the Academy Awards, the Directors Guild prizes have one of the best track records for predicting eventual Oscar winners.
Academy Award nominations will be announced Tuesday.
Usually, if you win the DGA, you win an Oscar later on. Will it Happen to Kathryn. She is the former wife of "Avatar"'s director James Cameron. The Oscars will be exciting this year. Then again with 10 movies nominated as best movies, who knows!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
A well regarded writer, creator of one of the most controversial books in 20th century American Literature has passed away.
J.D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.
Mr. Salinger’s literary representative, Harold Ober Associates, announced the death, saying it was of natural causes. “Despite having broken his hip in May,” the agency said, “his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death.”
Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”
“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
Though not everyone, teachers and librarians especially, was sure what to make of it, “Catcher” became an almost immediate best seller, and its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, a teenager newly expelled from prep school, became America’s best-known literary truant since Huckleberry Finn.
With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.
The novel’s allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell tens of thousands of copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman, who assassinated John Lennon in 1980, even said that the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.” In 1974 Philip Roth wrote, “The response of college students to the work of J. D. Salinger indicates that he, more than anyone else, has not turned his back on the times but, instead, has managed to put his finger on whatever struggle of significance is going on today between self and culture."
As Holden Caulfield would say..."Goddamn!"
R.I.P. The Celebrity reaper strikes again!
Obit and Image - New York Times
The medium Tangina Barrons is dead!
LOS ANGELES -- Zelda Rubinstein, the 4-foot-3-inch character actor best known as Tangina, the psychic who tries to calm a family inhabiting a haunted house in the 1982 horror film "Poltergeist," has died. She was 76.
Her agent, Eric Stevens, tells the Los Angeles Times that Rubinstein died Wednesday at a Los Angeles hospital. Stevens says she recently suffered a heart attack.
Rubinstein made her film debut in the 1981 comedy "Under the Rainbow" and went on to roles in "Sixteen Candles," ''Southland Tales" and the TV show "Picket Fences." She returned for both "Poltergeist" sequels.
The Pittsburgh native also appeared as the mother figure in a high-profile mid-1980s AIDS public awareness campaign and was an outspoken activist for the rights of little people.
Go to the light Zelda. Go to the light!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE - French rescuers pulled a teenage girl from the rubble of a home near the destroyed St. Gerard University on Wednesday, a stunning recovery 15 days after an earthquake devastated the city.
Darlene Etienne, near death from dehydration and a broken leg, was rushed to a French military field hospital and then to a hospital ship, groaning through an oxygen mask with her eyes open in a lost stare.
"She's alive!" said paramedic Paul Francois-Valette, who accompanied her into the hospital.
Her family said Etienne, 17, had just started studying when the disaster struck, trapping dozens of students and staff in the rubble of school buildings, hostels and nearby homes.
"We thought she was dead," her cousin, Jocelyn A. St. Jules, said in a telephone call.
Then — half a month after the earthquake — neighbors on Wednesday heard a voice weakly calling from the rubble of a private home down the road from the collapsed university. They called authorities, who brought in the French civil response team.
Rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along the dangerously crumbled roof, heard the voice and then saw a little bit of dust-covered black hair in the rubble. He said he cleared some debris, managed to reach the young woman and could see she was alive.
She couldn't really talk to us or say how long she'd been there but I think she'd been there since the earthquake. I don't think she could have survived even a few more hours," Fuilla said.
Digging out a hole big enough to give her oxygen and water, they found she had a very weak pulse. Within 45 minutes they managed to remove her, covered in dust. Fuilla said she was rescued from what appeared to be the porch area of the house, but a neighbor said he believed it was the shower room, where she might have had access to water.
"It's exceptional. She spoke to us in a very little voice; she was extremely weak," Fuilla said. "Before we stabilized her she was extremely dehydrated and weak. She had a very low blood pressure.
"She couldn't really talk to us or say how long she'd been there, but I think she'd been there since the earthquake. I don't think she could have survived even a few more hours."
Etienne did mumble something about having a little Coca-Cola with her in the rubble, he said. While Fuilla said she was rescued from what appeared to be the porch area of the house, a neighbor said he believed it was the shower room, where she might have had access to water.
Another rescuer, French Lt. Col. Christophe Renou, said that Etienne's blood pressure was extremely low — and that he had no idea how she had managed to cling to life so long. "Definitely she's been here for 15 days," and "was very, very weak," he said.
Capt. Paul Courbin, leader of the French rescue team, said the teenager had a broken left leg.
Renou said his team would probably return Thursday with radar equipment to look for any other possible survivors.
French Ambassador Didier le Bret praised the persistence of the French rescue team, which has kept looking for survivors for days after the Haitian government officially called off the search.
"They are so stubborn because they should not have been working anymore because, officially, the rescue phase is over. But they felt that some lives still are to be saved, so we did not say that they should leave the country," he told Associated Press Television News.
"To be honest we thought that the last miracle we had a couple of days ago ... would be the last miracle because the chances are so very, very slight. But it seems that beyond the miracle, there was another miracle."
At least 135 people have been unearthed by rescue teams since the Jan. 12 quake, and many more by relatives and neighbors. But most of these rescues were in the immediate aftermath and authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water.
The last previous confirmed rescue of someone trapped by the initial quake occurred Saturday, 11 days later, when a man was extricated from the ruins of a hotel grocery store.
At last the rumors can stop and the gripping can begin. Steve Jobs announced today the new member of the Apple family of computers and devices; The Apple iPad!
The unit is 10 inches in diameter, very thin, uses WiFi and 3G unlimited data plan from ATT from 29.99 monthly without a contract. And you can use ATT's Wi Fi hot spots to boot!
Will run apps like the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Some of the apps are; Brushes, a paint program with multi-touch, iWorks 2010, iBooks a mix between iTunes store and Barnes & Noble. This app offers more page control and capabilities than the Kindle. You can also read newspapers and magazines, which is a godsend for publishers, now they can go online or publish in an electronic way. It runs on the first use of the Apple A4 1ghz chip.
The Pad will come in a 16 GB ($499.), 32 GB ($599.) and 64 GB ($699.) versions. With additional Wi-Fi, 16 GB ($629.), 32 GB ( $729.) and 64 GB ($829.).
Accessories include a dock with a keyboard for easy typing, if you don't like the virtual keyboard included, and a kickstand, made from leather, that works as a case and a stand.
It goes on sale in 60 days.
It looks impressive, but it's not. My Asus, running linux, is far better, and cheaper too! The price is not that bad for the basic model, little expensive for the rest.. The name...NO! It sounds like a feminine hygiene product!!! They could have called it the iSlate or the iTablet. iPad sounds like iTampon!!! And no camera for photos or video to upload or to use Skype. Damn! It sucks!!!
It's a great entry. But I wouldn't buy one right now. I'll wait until later in the year, when they announce the new models and new lower prices for this device.
Hey! I waited 2 years to get an iPhone!
Images Apple / Gizmodo
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
"Avatar" officially the top grossing film of all time, yet american conservatives and catholics hate it!
Check the CNN report...
Leave it to the right wingers to always look at the bad side of things!
The last of the Cartwright sons left for the big ranch in the skies!
LOS ANGELES – Pernell Roberts, the ruggedly handsome actor who shocked Hollywood by leaving TV's "Bonanza" at the height of its popularity, then found fame again years later on "Trapper John, M.D.," has died. He was 81.
Roberts, the last surviving member of the classic Western's cast, died of cancer Sunday at his Malibu home, his wife Eleanor Criswell told the Los Angeles Times.
Although he rocketed to fame in 1959 as Adam Cartwright, eldest son of a Nevada ranching family led by Lorne Greene's patriarchal Ben Cartwright, Roberts chafed at the limitations he felt his "Bonanza" character was given.
"They told me the four characters (Greene, himself and Dan Blocker and Michael Landon as his brothers) would be carefully defined and the scripts carefully prepared," he complained to The Associated Press in 1964. "None of it ever happened."
It particularly distressed him that his character, a man in his 30s, had to continually defer to the wishes of his widowed father.
"Doesn't it seem a bit silly for three adult males to get Father's permission for everything they do?" he once asked a reporter.
Roberts agreed to fulfill his six-year contract but refused to extend it, and when he left the series in 1965, his character was eliminated with the explanation that he had simply moved away.
"Bonanza," with its three remaining stars, continued until 1973, making it second to "Gunsmoke" as the longest-running Western on TV. Blocker died in 1972, Greene in 1987, and Landon in 1991.
When Roberts left the show the general feeling in Hollywood was that he had foolishly doomed his career and turned his back on a fortune in "Bonanza" earnings.
Indeed, for the next 14 years he mainly made appearances on TV shows and in miniseries, or toured with such theatrical productions as "The King and I, "Camelot" and "The Music Man."
His TV credits during that time included "The Virginian," "Hawaii Five-O," "Mission Impossible," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Banacek," "Ironside" and "Mannix."
Then, in 1979, he landed another series, "Trapper John, M.D.," in which he played the title role.
The character, but little else, was spun off from the brilliant Korean War comedy-drama "M-A-S-H," in which Wayne Rogers had played the offbeat Dr. "Trapper" John McIntire opposite Alan Alda's Dr. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce.
Rogers had left that series after just three seasons.
In "Trapper John, M.D.," the Korean War was nearly 30 years past and Roberts' character was now a balding, middle-aged chief of surgery at San Francisco Memorial Hospital. He no longer fought the establishment, having learned how to deal with it with patience and wry humor.
The series, praised for its serious treatment of the surgical world, aired until 1986.
Roberts' other venture into series TV was "FBI: The Untold Stories" (1991-1993), in which he acted as host and narrator.
Pernell Roberts Jr. was born in 1928 in Waycross, Ga. As a young man, he once commented, "I distinguished myself by flunking out of college three times." After pursuing occupations that ranged from tombstone maker to railroad riveter, he decided to become an actor.
Roberts worked extensively in regional theaters, then gained notice in New York, where he won a Drama Desk award in 1956 for his performance in an off-Broadway production of "Macbeth."
He eventually moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in several TV shows and landed character roles in such features as "Desire Under the Elms," "The Sheepman" and "Ride Lonesome" until "Bonanza" made him a star.
Three of Roberts' marriages ended in divorce. His first, to Vera Mowry, produced a son, Jonathan, who died in 1989 at age 37.
Rest in Peace!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Behold the miracle!
MOSCOW – More than 100 Russian Orthodox believers have been hospitalized after drinking holy water during Epiphany celebrations in the eastern city of Irkutsk, an official said Monday.
A total of 117 people, including 48 children, were in the hospital complaining of acute intestinal pain after drinking water from wells in and around a local church last week, said Vladimir Salovarov, a spokesman for the Irkutsk Investigative Committee.
Salovarov said 204 people required some medical treatment after consuming the water, the source of which was a stagnant lake. He said, however, that it was too early to say what caused the illness.
Many Russians consider any water obtained on Epiphany — which they celebrate on Jan. 19 — to be holy.
The water is typically bottled for consumption later. Tap water in most of Russia is undrinkable.
As I said, beliveing in an invisible man is harmful to your health!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
LOS ANGELES – James Cameron's "Avatar" is on a course to sink "Titanic" at the box office.
No. 1 for the sixth-straight weekend with $36 million, the 20th Century Fox sci-fi spectacle lifted its domestic total to $552.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. "Avatar" raised its worldwide total to $1.841 billion. That's $2 million shy of first place behind Cameron's last movie, the 1997 shipwreck epic "Titanic," at $1.843 billion.
"It defies all superlatives," said Chris Aronson, head of distribution for Fox.
The studio said "Avatar" has hit $1.29 billion in international ticket sales, passing the $1.24 billion mark set by "Titanic." The saga set on the alien world of Pandora is also en route to overtake "Titanic" in domestic sales. After 37 days in theaters, "Avatar" soared past "The Dark Knight" on Saturday to become the second highest grossing film.
"We're witnessing box office history," said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com. "We're watching all of these big records fall, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. 'Avatar' is dominating at a time where it has no big summer blockbusters to compete with it. It's perfectly poised to keep breaking all these records."
"Avatar" is also positioned to win acclaim during awards season. While the computer-assisted performances didn't earn any honors at Saturday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, it captured the best drama and director trophies at last week's Golden Globes and is considered a likely best-picture front runner when Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 2.
Screen Gems' apocalyptic thriller "Legion," featuring Paul Bettany as an Armageddon-fighting fallen angel, debuted behind "Avatar" at No. 2 with $18.2 million. Fox's family fantasy comedy "Tooth Fairy," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a hockey player who spreads his wings as a magical deity, took flight in the No. 4 spot with $14.5 million.
Warner Bros. grabbed the No. 3 position with "The Book of Eli" at $17 million in its second week, despite three other films debuting in wide release this weekend. The post-apocalyptic action flick stars Denzel Washington as a traveling prophet who battles a villainous gang leader played by Gary Oldman while protecting the last known Bible.
The medical drama "Extraordinary Measures," the first film from new distributor CBS Films, opened with a disappointing $7 million in the No. 7 position. The film features Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser as a doctor and businessman who collaborate to develop a drug that will treat a rare genetic disorder affecting children.
"It did well in middle America," said Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for CBS Films. "This is not a shoot-'em-up or fantasy film. It's the true story of people doing courageous things, and it's building good word of mouth. This is the kind of movie that plays well to a family friendly crowd who doesn't need to see the movie the weekend it opens."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Avatar," $36 million.
2. "Legion," $18.2 million.
2. "The Book of Eli," $17 million.
3. "Tooth Fairy," $14.5 million.
5. "The Lovely Bones," $8.8 million.
6. "Sherlock Holmes," $7.1 million.
7. "Extraordinary Measures," $7 million.
8. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," $6.5 million.
9. "It's Complicated," $6.2 million.
10. "The Spy Next Door," $4.8 million.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Haitian authorities call off Search and Rescue operations. Now it's priority is recovery and cleanup.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti's government has declared the search and rescue phase for survivors of the earthquake over, the United Nations announced Saturday, saying there is little hope of finding more people alive 11 days after much of the capital was reduced to rubble.
The statement from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs came a day after an Israeli team reported pulling a man out of the debris of a two-story home and relatives said an elderly woman had been rescued. Experts say the chance of saving trapped people begins diminishing after 72 hours, but one mother still missing her children said it's too soon to give up.
"Maybe there's a chance they're still alive," said Nicole Abraham, 33, wiping away tears as she spoke of hearing the cries of her children — ages 4, 6 and 15 — for the first two days after the Jan. 12 quake.
Meanwhile Saturday, mourners gathered near the ruins of the shattered cathedral to pay final respects to the capital's archbishop and a vicar in a somber ceremony that doubled as a symbolic funeral for all the dead.
"I came here to pay my respects to all the dead from the earthquake, and to see them have a funeral," said Esther Belizaire, 51, whose cousin is among the dead.
The 7.0-magnitude quake killed an estimated 200,000 people, according to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission. The U.N. said Saturday the government had preliminarily confirmed 111,481 bodies, but that figure does not account for corpses buried by relatives.
Countless dead remain buried in thousands of collapsed and toppled buildings in Port-au-Prince, while as many as 200,000 have fled the city of 2 million, the U.S. Agency for International Development reported.
With the local government essentially incapacitated, the U.N. has coordinated rescue efforts alongside the U.S. and teams from around the world. Spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said the Friday afternoon decision does not mean rescue teams still searching for survivors would be stopped from carrying out whatever work they felt necessary.
"It doesn't mean the government will order them to stop. In case there is the slightest sign of life, they will act," Byrs told The Associated Press. She added, however, that "except for miracles, hope is unfortunately fading."
All told, some 132 people were pulled alive from beneath collapsed buildings by international search and rescue teams since the Jan. 12 disaster, she said. Some 49 teams — down from 67 — were still in Haiti as of Saturday, the U.N. said.
Col. Gili Shenhar, a senior officer on the Israeli Defense Forces team in Haiti, said team members were still investigating potential rescue sites in Port-au-Prince on Saturday. However, he said it is unlikely more people will be found alive under the rubble and described being called to scenes by relatives who believe, usually incorrectly, they hear voices from the debris.
"Maybe there is one person somewhere, but the problem is how to find them," Shenhar said. A day earlier, the team reported saving a 21-year-old man who told The Associated Press he drank his own urine to survive.
With the rainy season on the way, U.N. relief workers are concerned that many Haitians are still homeless and Byrs said the focus now will be squarely on providing shelter and medical treatment. About 609,000 people are homeless in the capital's metropolitan area, and the United Nations estimates that up to 1 million could leave Haiti's destroyed cities for rural areas already struggling with extreme poverty.
On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 people, many weeping and clutching handkerchiefs, gathered in a small park for the funerals of Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, and the vicar Charles Benoit. Classical music wafted over their two closed white caskets covered with flowers.
"This is for everyone," Cleopas Auza said of the ceremony before it began.
Nepthalie Miot, a niece of the archbishop, choked back tears as she described the man who would have worked to comfort the nation after the disaster had he not been killed himself.
"He was a very compassionate person. He tried to help the poor," she told the crowd, which included President Rene Preval, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the Vatican's ambassador to Haiti, Archbishop Bernadito Cleopas Auza.
Only a small number of funerals have been held since the quake, with most people buried anonymously and without ceremony in mass graves on the outskirts of the city, or burned in the streets.
"The hardest thing for us is the smell of all the dead bodies," said Josette Elisias, 45, wearing a red handkerchief to cover her nose and mouth on Saturday as workers cleared rubble and debris from streets with brooms, rakes and wheelbarrows.
Scores of aid organizations, big and small, have stepped up deliveries of food, water, medical supplies and other aid to the homeless and other needy in seaside city.
In the U.S., celebrities and artists made impassioned pleas for charitable donations during an internationally broadcast telethon Friday night.
"The Haitian people need our help," said actor George Clooney, who helped organize the two-hour telecast. "They need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that we still care."
More than a dozen Latin pop stars including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Paulina Rubio, Daddy Yankee and Juanes were to appear Saturday on a special live edition of a popular Univision variety show to raise money for the American Red Cross to help aid earthquake victims.
Religious riots are happening in Nigeria, and hundreds are dead!
More victims of deadly religious clashes in central Nigeria have been found, with scores of bodies stuffed in wells and sewage pits.
Up to 150 bodies have been found in Kuru Karama village, 30km (18 miles) from the city of Jos, where the violence erupted last Sunday.
Correspondents say elders hid in holes for seven hours to escape the violence.
An exact death toll is not known but overall up to 300 are thought to have died in the Muslim-Christian clashes.
Several thousand people fled their homes.
The BBC's Caroline Duffield in Jos says many of the bodies found in Kuru Karama had massive burns, other victims were hacked to death or shot.
She says there are still more bodies scattered in the bush beyond the village but the areas are not safe for volunteer workers to enter.
Umar Baza, head of Kuru Karama village, told Agence France-Presse news agency: "So far we have picked 150 bodies from the wells. But 60 more people are still missing."
The Human Rights Watch group said armed men had attacked the mostly Muslim Kuru Karama on 19 January.
"After surrounding the town, they hunted down and attacked Muslim residents, some of whom had sought refuge in homes and a local mosque, killing many as they tried to flee and burning many others alive," it said in a statement.
It quoted one villager as saying: "I came back on Wednesday evening escorted by the military. I saw dead bodies everywhere. The corpses were there, but now you can just see the blood on the ground. None of the houses are standing."
The group called on Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to order an immediate criminal investigation into reports of the massacre.
Mr Jonathan deployed the military after four days of clashes.
He has been issuing orders while President Umaru Yar'Adua receives medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
The security forces have now restored order and a curfew has been partially lifted.
But correspondents say the atmosphere is still tense.
Jos, the capital of Plateau state, lies at the point where Nigeria's Muslim north and predominantly Christian south meet.
All because they believe in different versions of the same invisible man! Madness!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Paranoia or stupidity? You be the judge!
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A US Airways passenger plane was diverted to Philadelphia on Thursday after a religious item worn by a Jewish passenger was mistaken as a bomb, Philadelphia police said.
A passenger was alarmed by the phylacteries, religious items which observant Jews strap around their arms and heads as part of morning prayers, on the flight from New York's La Guardia airport heading to Louisville.
"Someone on the plane construed it as some kind of device," said officer Christine O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia police department.
No one was arrested or charged, O'Brien said.
The plane landed without incident and the passengers and crew were taken off the plane, a spokesman for US Airways said.
Phylacteries, called tefillin in Hebrew, are two small black boxes with black straps attached to them. Observant Jewish men are required to place one box on their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning.
Thursday's incident was the latest of several false alarms on U.S. flights since the December 25 incident in which a Nigerian man attempted to detonate a bomb in his underpants from materials he smuggled onto the plane just as his flight was about to land in Detroit, authorities said.
The device did not explode and only burned the man, who was pounced on by fellow passengers.
Since then several flights have been diverted by security scares that have turned out to be harmless.
Ok! Here at the Les'Shyerar laboratories and Fried Chicken Shack have produced a audiovisual demonstration of the differences between a Tefillin and a suicide bomb...
This is a Tefillin. There are two squares, one on the forehead and one on the arm with a wrapping that goes across it. The person who mistook this for a bomb must be very ignorant of Jewish customs (Probably, the majority of Americans!), as this is a very ackward way of blowing oneself up (Then again so was the shoe bomb and the underwear bomb)! These objects are to pray to their invisible man of their choice; a jealous, mad desert god who will strike without any hesitation, unless you pray every day tying two boxes to your body! It's all very silly. But dangerous, no.
This is a suicide bomber. Look at the menacing look, the borrowed US Army surplus fatigues, the worn out AK 47, the dead man's switch and explosive sticks of fake dynamite. If you see one of those in your airport or flight, it's a poor soul that wants to die really, really soon by commiting "Suicide by Cop". Again, they do this to apeace the same desert, mad god, with the sacrifice of innocent lives. Seriously, this madness has to stop! Wait a minute...come to think this dude is actually a lady! And has cute eyes! I wonder if she would date an infidel like me?
But I digress...
Usually terrorists don't look like this...
They look like this.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Workers are carving out mass graves on a hillside north of Haiti's capital, using earth-movers to bury 10,000 earthquake victims in a single day while relief workers warn the death toll could increase.
Medical clinics have 12-day patient backlogs, untreated injuries are festering and makeshift camps housing thousands of survivors could foster disease, experts said.
"The next health risk could include outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and other diseases among hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in overcrowded camps with poor or nonexistent sanitation," said Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.
Hoping to assess the scope of the crisis, World Food Program chief Josette Sheeran planned to visit Haiti on Thursday, as did European Union aid chief Karel De Gucht.
The death toll is estimated at 200,000, according to Haitian government figures relayed by the European Commission, with 80,000 buried in mass graves. The commission now estimates 2 million homeless, up from 1.5 million, and says 250,000 are in need of urgent aid.
In the sparsely populated wasteland of Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, burial workers on Wednesday said the macabre task of handling the never-ending flow of bodies was traumatizing.
"I have seen so many children, so many children. I cannot sleep at night and, if I do, it is a constant nightmare," said Foultone Fequiert, 38, his face covered with a T-shirt against the overwhelming stench.
The dead stick out at all angles from the mass graves — tall mounds of chalky dirt, the limbs of men, women and children frozen together in death. "I received 10,000 bodies yesterday alone," said Fequiert.
Workers say they have no time to give the dead proper religious burials or follow pleas from the international community that bodies be buried in shallow graves from which loved ones might eventually retrieve them.
"We just dump them in, and fill it up," said Luckner Clerzier, 39, who was helping guide trucks to another grave site farther up the road.
An Associated Press reporter counted 15 burial mounds at Clerzier's site, each covering a wide trench cut into the ground some 25 feet deep, and rising 15 feet into the air. At the larger mass grave, where Fequiert toiled, three earth-moving machines cut long trenches into the earth, readying them for more cadavers.
Others struggle to stem the flow of the dead.
More than eight days after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake, rescuers searched late into the night for survivors with dogs and sonar equipment. A Los Angeles County rescue team sent three dogs separately into the rubble on a street corner in Petionville, a suburb overlooking Port-au-Prince. Each dog picked up the scent of life at one spot.
They tested the spot and screamed into the rubble in Creole they've learned: "If you hear me, bang three times."
They heard no response, but vowed to continue.
"It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and each day the needles are disappearing," team member Steven Chin said.
One rescue was reported. The International Medical Corps said it was caring for a child found in ruins Wednesday. The boy's uncle told doctors and a nurse with the Los Angeles-based organization that relatives pulled the 5-year-old from the wreckage of his home after searching for a week, said Margaret Aguirre, an IMC spokeswoman in Haiti.
A Dutch adoption agency said Thursday that a mercy flight carrying 109 adopted children was on its way to the Netherlands from Port-au-Prince. The children on board the plane were all in the process of being adopted and already had been matched to new Dutch parents before the quake.
At the Mission Baptiste hospital south of Port-au-Prince, patients waited on benches or rolling beds while doctors and nurses raced among them, X-rays in hand.
The hospital had just received badly need supplies from soldiers of the U.S Army's 82nd Airborne Division, but hospital director John Angus said there wasn't enough. He pleaded for more doctors, casts and metal plates to fix broken limbs.
Meanwhile, a flotilla of rescue vessels led by the U.S. hospital ship Comfort steamed into Port-au-Prince harbor Wednesday to help fill gaps in the struggling global effort to deliver water, food and medical help.
Elder, of Doctors Without Borders, said that patients were dying of sepsis from untreated wounds and that some of the group's posts had 10- to 12-day backups of patients.
Adding to the terror, a 5.9-magnitude aftershock shook Haiti's capital Wednesday, sending people screaming into the streets. Some buildings collapsed and an undertaker said one woman died of a heart attack. Surgical teams and patients were forced to evacuate temporarily from at least one hospital.
At United Nations headquarters in New York, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said it was believed 3 million people are affected. Vast, makeshift camps and settlements have sprung up for survivors.
Joseph St. Juste and his 5-year-old daughter, Jessica, were among 50,000 people spending their nights at a golf course. He is afraid to stay in his home because of the aftershocks.
The survivors have put of shelters of bedsheets or cardboard boxes on fairways that snake up the hill toward a country club where U.S. paratroopers give out food daily.
St. Juste, a 36-year-old bus driver, wakes up every day and goes out to find food and water for his daughter.
"I wake up for her," he said. "Life is hard anymore. I've got to get out of Haiti. There is no life in Haiti."
The suffering continues...
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
We kid you not!
James Cameron's getting booted from China!
Specifically, his mega-hit Avatar will officially stop running in Chinese movie theaters this week as the country's censors feel it's success is taking away from homegrown flicks.
Actually, the pulling of Avatar makes room for China's biggest flick of the year, Confucius, starring Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-fat, which opens this Thursday.
Tough break, huh James? At least you have over a billion dollars to fall back on!
This movie, not only attracts money but weirdness as well!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
This news is so wacky. Yet so true!
A 42-year-old Taiwanese man with a history of high blood pressure has died of a stroke likely triggered by over-excitement from watching the blockbuster Avatar in 3D, a doctor says.
The man, identified only by his surname Kuo, started to feel unwell during the screening earlier this month in the northern city of Hsinchu and was taken to hospital.
Mr Kuo, who suffered from hypertension, was unconscious when he arrived at the Nan Men General Hospital and a scan showed that his brain was haemorrhaging, emergency room doctor Peng Chin-chih said today.
"It's likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms,'' the doctor said.
Mr Kuo died 11 days later from the brain haemorrhage, and the China Times newspaper said it was the first death linked to watching James Cameron's science-fiction epic Avatar.
Film blogging sites have reported complaints of headaches, dizziness, nausea and blurry eyesight from viewers of Avatar and other movies rich in 3D imagery.
So the tally now stands at 1 killed and one woman wounded in a firefight that erupted in a theater during the showing of "Avatar"
Still the record is held by "The Passion Of Christ". Three persons died of heart attacks while watching the movie.
Monday, January 18, 2010
This will make you chirp with pleasure...I know...it's a bad pun. But hey, it's Monday!
NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – Researchers have found in Afghanistan the first known breeding area of the large-billed reed warbler, which was dubbed in 2007 as "the world's least known bird species."
Researchers for the Wildlife Conservation Society and Sweden's Gothenburg University said they had found the breeding area in the remote and rugged Wakhan Corridor of north-eastern Afghanistan that has escaped the worst effects of war.
They used field observations, museum specimens, DNA sequencing, and the first known audio recording of the species to find the birds and verified the discovery by capturing and releasing almost 20 birds, the largest number ever recorded.
A preliminary paper on the finding appears in BirdingASIA, describing the discovery in Afghanistan as "a watershed moment" in the study of this bird.
The first specimen of the large-billed reed warbler was discovered in India in 1867 but the second find was not until 2006 in Thailand.
"Practically nothing is known about this species, so this discovery of the breeding area represents a flood of new information on the large-billed reed warbler," said Colin Poole of WCS's Asia Program, in a statement.
"This new knowledge of the bird also indicates that the Wakhan Corridor still holds biological secrets and is critically important for future conservation efforts in Afghanistan."
The find came after Robert Timmins from the WCS was conducting a survey of bird communities in the area.
The Wakhan Corridor has escaped the worst effects of the long years of war suffered elsewhere in Afghanistan since the December 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union. The corridor, populated primarily by Wakhi farmers and yurt-dwelling Kyrghyz herders, is also home to snow leopards and wild Marco Polo sheep.
Timmins heard a distinctive song coming from a small, olive-brown bird with a long bill which he taped and later discovered to be a large-billed reed warbler.
The following summer WCS researchers returned to the same area and used a recording of the song to bring out others and catch almost 20 birds for examination.
The WCS said it is currently the only organization conducting scientific conservation studies in Afghanistan, the first such efforts in over 30 years, and it has contributed to a number of conservation initiatives in tandem with the Afghan government.
It helped produce Afghanistan's first list of protected species, an action that has led to a ban on hunting snow leopards, wolves, brown bears, and other species.
On other news, some of the birds were found to be working for the Taliban. Four of them were killed by a US Army drone and two captured and subjected to interrogation via "waterboarding" technique.
No surprises here...
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The Golden Globes gave top honors to James Cameron's "Avatar" and took its cue from the film's celebration of humanity, with winners ranging from the gritty child-abuse drama "Precious" to freewheeling comedy "The Hangover."
Sunday's awards ceremony also opened wide to embrace the long-admired Jeff Bridges, who took best dramatic-acting honors for the country-music film "Crazy Heart," and a sitcom actress, Mo'Nique, who emerged as a fierce screen presence in "Precious."
Fox's spunky new TV musical comedy series "Glee" was honored, while the best TV drama award went to AMC's 1960s Madison Avenue saga "Mad Men" for the third year in a row.
Cameron was the big winner on the movie side, claiming best drama and best director for his science-fiction blockbuster and setting him for a possible awards sequel to 1997's "Titanic." Cameron's epic about the doomed oceanliner won the same prizes and went on to dominate the Academy Awards.
This time, though, instead of being "king of the world," as Cameron declared at the Oscar ceremony, he has become king of a computer-generated distant moon that made critics gush and sent box-office receipts soaring. The film has grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, second only to "Titanic" with $1.8 billion.
"'Avatar' asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other, and us to the Earth. And if you have to go four and a half light years to another, made-up planet to appreciate this miracle of the world that we have right here, well, you know what, that's the wonder of cinema right there, that's the magic," Cameron said.
Other film acting prizes went to Sandra Bullock for the football tale "The Blind Side," Meryl Streep for the Julia Child story "Julie & Julia," Robert Downey Jr. for the crime romp "Sherlock Holmes" and Austrian actor Christoph Waltz as a gleefully bloodthirsty Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds."
Sunday's winners could get a last-minute boost for the Oscars, whose nominations balloting closes Saturday. Last year's big Globe winner, "Slumdog Millionaire," went on to garner Oscar glory.
Michael C. Hall won for best actor in a TV drama for Showtime's "Dexter," in which he plays a serial killer with a code of ethics, targeting only other murderers. Hall's publicists said last week that Hall is being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma and that the cancer is in remission.
"Dexter" also won the supporting-actor TV honor for John Lithgow. Other TV winners included Juliana Margulies as best actress in a drama for CBS' "The Good Wife" and Toni Collette as best comedy actress for Showtime's "The United States of Tara."
Bridges, a beloved veteran generally overlooked for key Hollywood honors, got a standing ovation at the ceremony hosted by Ricky Gervais.
"You're really screwing up my underappreciated status here," Bridges said.
The son of late actor Lloyd Bridges, Bridges thanked his father for encouraging him to go into show business.
"So glad I listened to you, dad," he said.
Bullock cited Michael Oher, the Baltimore Ravens rookie lineman whose life is the subject of "The Blind Side." She plays a wealthy Memphis woman whose family took the teenage Oher and gave him shelter after discovering he was homeless.
"If I may steal from Michael Oher, I may not be the most talented, but I've been given opportunity," Bullock said.
The Vegas bachelor bash "The Hangover" won for best musical or comedy, bringing uncharacteristic awards attention for broad comedy, a genre that often gets overlooked at Hollywood honors.
The Globes marked a dramatic turning point for Mo'Nique, who was mainly known for lowbrow comedy but startled audiences with her brutal performance in "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire," directed by Lee Daniels and starring newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who was a Globe nominee.
Streep's competition for best actress in a musical or comedy included herself. She also was nominated for the romance "It's Complicated."
"I just want to say that in my long career, I've played so many extraordinary woman that I'm getting mistaken for one," Streep said. "I'm very clear that I'm the vessel for other people's stories and other people's lives."
The blockbuster "Up" came away with the award for animated film. Pixar Animation, the Disney outfit that made "Up," has won all four prizes for animated movies since the Globes introduced the category in 2006. Past Pixar winners are "WALL-E," "Ratatouille" and "Cars."
"Up" features the voice of Ed Asner in a tale of a lonely, bitter widower who renews his zest for adventure by flying his house off under helium balloons to South America, where he encounters his childhood hero and a hilarious gang of talking canines.
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won the screenplay honor for "Up in the Air," which Reitman also directed. The foreign-language honor went to "The White Ribbon," a stark drama of guilt and suspicion set in a German town on the eve of World War I.
The rain-drenched red carpet was a rare sight for an awards show in sunny southern California, stars in their finery getting damp under umbrellas as storms swept the region.
Although the Globes are one of Hollywood's biggest parties, the ceremony included somber reminders of tragedy in the real world, many stars wearing ribbons in support of earthquake victims in Haiti.
The Globes, which aired on NBC, are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets.
I guess copied-over 3d CGI blue cats are the hot item. Then how come I still think the movie is mediocre at best?
Sunday, January 17, 2010
LOS ANGELES – James Cameron's "Avatar" had a $41.3 million weekend to shoot past "Star Wars" as the No. 3 movie on the all-time domestic box office charts. Next stop, "The Dark Knight."
No. 1 for the fifth-straight weekend, Cameron's sci-fi saga raised its domestic total to $491.8 million and should top $500 million after revenues are counted on Martin Luther King Day, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Worldwide, 20th Century Fox's "Avatar" lifted its total to $1.6 billion, second only to Cameron's last movie, 1997's "Titanic," at $1.8 billion.
"One guy makes two movies in 10 years, and they're by far the biggest movies of all time. That's remarkable," said Chris Aronson, head of distribution for the studio.
"Avatar" topped the original "Star Wars," which took in $460.9 million domestically in its original run and several reissues over the years. But factoring in today's higher admission prices, "Star Wars" remains well ahead of "Avatar" on actual number of tickets sold.
"Avatar" now is closing in on "The Dark Knight," No. 2 domestically with $533.3 million. After that, only Cameron's "Titanic" at $600 million will remain ahead of "Avatar" domestically.
"We'll be proud of our No. 3 slot," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released "The Dark Knight" and has hopes for more in the Batman franchise from its director, Christopher Nolan. "I can just give Chris Nolan a nudge that he's got to raise the bar."
Warner, which has Nolan's sci-fi tale "Inception" with Leonardo DiCaprio opening this July, had a strong No. 2 debut of $31.6 million for its action thriller "The Book of Eli." The movie stars Denzel Washington as a post-apocalypse prophet carrying the last known Bible to safe haven across a decimated America.
Expanding nationwide after a month in limited release, Paramount's drama "The Lovely Bones" came in at No. 3 with $17.1 million. Directed by "The Lord of the Rings" creator Peter Jackson, "The Lovely Bones" features Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Stanley Tucci in the story of a murdered teen looking back on the world from the afterlife.
Lionsgate's family action tale "The Spy Next Door" debuted at No. 6 with $9.7 million. It stars Jackie Chan as a newly retired agent forced back into the spy game when bad guys come after him and his girlfriend's kids.
Like "Titanic," which dominated the Academy Awards 12 years ago, "Avatar" is expected to remain aloft in the box office charts as Oscar season progresses. "Avatar" was up for best drama at Sunday's Golden Globes and is considered a likely best-picture nominee when Oscar nominations come out Feb. 2.
"It's kind of the cherry on top of the cake for this movie to not only be a massive box office hit, but to get all this awards attention," said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com. "It's hard sometimes to get a 50- or 60-year-old out of their chair to go see a science-fiction movie in 3-D. But if `Avatar' gets enough recognition from the critics, they may just do it."
Fox executive Aronson would not say if the studio expects "Avatar" to pass either the $600 million domestic total for "Titanic" or its $1.8 billion worldwide total. Some box office watchers say "Avatar" could climb as high $2 billion, though.
"`Titanic' was a ship. Batman had a motorcycle. `Avatar's' a rocket ship," Aronson said. "Is there a lot of fuel left in the tank? You bet."
Even if "Avatar" sets a new revenue record, it's doubtful it would sell as many tickets as "Titanic" did because of today's higher admission prices.
"Titanic" sold about 130 million tickets domestically based on average ticket prices of about $4.60 back in 1997 and 1998. Based on today's average domestic price of about $7.50, "Avatar" would be at around half that mark.
Average admission prices for "Avatar" likely run even higher, given that much of its business comes from a 3-D version, which costs a few dollars extra to see.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Tuesday.
1. "Avatar," $41.3 million.
2. "The Book of Eli," $31.6 million.
3. "The Lovely Bones," $17.1 million.
4. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," $11.5 million.
5. "Sherlock Holmes," $9.8 million.
6. "The Spy Next Door," $9.7 million.
7. "It's Complicated," $7.7 million.
8. "Leap Year," $5.8 million.
9. "The Blind Side," $5.6 million.
10. "Up in the Air," $5.5 million.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Tensions are mounting in Haiti as help trickles in. Reports of looting and human bodies as roadblocks.
The situation gets worse by the hour!
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Conditions in this earthquake-ravaged nation grew more dire on Friday morning as rescuers raced against time to find anyone still alive beneath mountains of rubble while aid workers struggled to deliver relief supplies to survivors increasingly desperate for food and clean water.
In signs of rising tensions, looters in Haiti’s capital broke into United Nations food warehouses that had been stocked with 15,000 tons of provisions, and a photographer for Time magazine told Reuters that residents had created two makeshift roadblocks by piling up bodies and debris.
Meanwhile, the first wave of American troops arrived overnight to begin handling security and cargo operations at Haiti’s main airport, and more soldiers and Marines were expected to fly into the country later on Friday.
“The main thing is to try to establish some order at the airport so we can start getting planes in and out,” said Col. Patrick Hollrah of the Air Force, whose disaster-response team arrived Thursday night from New Jersey aboard a C-17 cargo plane.
In the cockpit of the plane, air traffic chatter could be heard through headsets, giving some sense of the barely controlled confusion in the skies. Planes were being forced to circle for two to three hours before landing.
Also Thursday night, the United States reached an agreement with Cuba to allow American planes on medical-evacuation missions to pass through restricted Cuban airspace, a White House official said, reducing the flight time to Miami by 90 minutes.
The Haitian president, René Préval, said that 7,000 people had already been buried in a mass grave. Hundreds of bodies piled up outside the city’s morgue, next to a hospital. On street corners, people pulled their shirts up over their faces to filter out the thickening smell of the dead. Meanwhile, doctors and search-and-rescue teams worked mostly with the few materials on hand and waited, frustrated, for more supplies, especially much-needed heavy equipment.
“Where’s the response?” asked Eduardo A. Fierro, a structural engineer from California who had arrived Thursday to inspect quake-damaged buildings. “You can’t do anything about the dead bodies, but inside many of these buildings people may still be alive. And their time is running out.”
A number of nations pledged financial aid, deployed rescue teams and loaded cargo planes with food and supplies. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s former president who was ousted five years ago, wept Friday as he told The Associated Press in Johannesburg that he and his family wanted to return and “help rebuild the country.” Relief agencies broadcast appeals and assembled their own aid teams; and Web sites were set up to connect people overseas with friends and family in Haiti.
But United Nations officials said that Haitians were growing hopeless — and beginning to run out of patience.
Meanwhile, the situation at the airport is no better, as dozens of planes are in the tarmac, without fuel and unloaded.
More as it comes in.
Assholes are like whales. They call each other in the distance. Rush-Pill-Popping-Fat-Fuck-Limbaugh have joined his butt buddy, Pat Robertson in utilizing the tragedy in Haiti to further the über-reich-right agenda.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and televangelist Pat Robertson are being scolded for their comments in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti that has killed tens of thousands, according to early estimates.
Critics from both the left and right are denouncing their remarks as insensitive to the disaster and attempts to score political points off human tragedy.
Speaking on his radio show Wednesday, Limbaugh said the earthquake has played into Obama’s hands, allowing the president to look “compassionate” and “humanitarian” while at the same time bolstering his standing in both the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.”
He added: “We've already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”
Limbaugh’s comments were, in part, a riff on Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) much publicized remark in a new book that Obama was able to win the election because he is “light-skinned” and lacks a “Negro dialect.”
But regardless of the intended context, Limbaugh’s comments have been widely panned.
“They are deeply insensitive,” said conservative commentator Pat Buchanan on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“The president speaks for the country when he says we’re going to go in there,” he said. “You want your whole nation, and it’s very positive. And I think Rush’s comments were cynical.”
Sitting next to Buchanan on set, host Joe Scarborough called Limbaugh’s comments “deplorable.”
“The insensitivity is stunning,” said the former Republican congressman.
Liberal commentators also quickly jumped on Limbaugh.
“Limbaugh did not know when to just shut up,” said liberal commentator Keith Olbermann on his MSNBC show “Countdown.” “Today he blamed communism for the poverty of Haiti, blamed President Obama for holding a news conference the day after this cataclysm when he did not hold one after the failed half-assed terror attempt in Detroit.”
John Amato from the left-leaning website Crooks and Liars added that “with thousands of people dead already and as the suffering continues in Haiti, Limbaugh and his ilk only care about one thing: destroying Obama.”
The conservative media watchdog site Newsbusters stepped up to defend Limbaugh, saying his comments were not put in proper context, but very few others are backing the conservative firebrand’s latest controversial remarks.
While Limbaugh received a modicum of support, nobody of note has stepped up to defend Robertson’s claim that Haiti got hit by an earthquake because it is “cursed.”
Speaking about the disaster during his program “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Robertson said that when Haiti was still a French colony its leaders “swore a pact to the devil” to get out from “under the heel of the French.”
“They said, ‘we will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,’” Robertson claimed, as was recorded and sent around by the liberal group Media Matters.
“But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other,” he continued. “That island of Hispaniola is one island. It is cut down the middle on the one side is Haiti the other is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty.”
Robertson, who has a long history of making controversial remarks on his program, urged his followers to pray for the residents of Haiti and said that “out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come.”
Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said Thursday morning she was left “speechless” by Robertson’s remarks.
“That's not the attitude that expresses the spirit of the president or the American people, so I thought it was a pretty stunning comment to make,” she said.
A statement from Robertson’s spokesman Chris Roslan tried to downplay the “cursed” remark.
“Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath,” the statement read. “If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster.”
As somebody said on Twitter; "Behold these men. They are the tragic consequence of the First Amendment!"
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Lest we forget...
Legendary R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass passed away on Wednesday at the age of 59.
He began his career as a drummer, but became well known in the 70s as the lead singer for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Pendergrass left the band for a solo career and had several hits dubbed musical aphrodisiacs, such as I Don't Love You Anymore, Close the Door, Turn off the Lights and Love TKO.
In 1982, a devastating car accident left the singer paralyzed from the waist down, but he continued his musical career performing from his wheelchair. About 8 months ago, Pendergrass had undergone surgery for colon cancer and it was the difficult recovery that led to his passing.
He will be greatly missed.
Here's a video from his presentation on "Soul Train" in 1980 with his song "Love TKO"
The situation is still very bad in Port-Au-Prince.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Turning pickup trucks into ambulances and doors into stretchers, Haitians are frantically struggling to save those injured in this week's earthquake while hoping foreign governments will quickly send in aid.
Help began arriving early Thursday when an Air China plane carrying a Chinese search-and-rescue team, medics and aid landed at Port-au-Prince airport, and more than 50 people in orange jumpsuits got out accompanied by trained dogs.
The U.S. and other nations said they were sending food, water, medical supplies to assist the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, where the international Red Cross estimated 3 million people — a third of the population — may need emergency relief.
In the streets of the capital, survivors set up camps amid piles of salvaged goods, including food being scavenged from the rubble.
"This is much worse than a hurricane," said Jimitre Coquillon, a doctor's assistant working at a makeshift triage center set up in a hotel parking lot. "There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."
If there were any organized efforts to distribute food or water, they were not visible Wednesday.
The aid group Doctors Without Borders treated wounded at two hospitals that withstood the quake and set up tent clinics elsewhere to replace its damaged facilities. Cuba, which already had hundreds of doctors in Haiti, treated injured in field hospitals.
President Barack Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort including the military and civilian emergency teams from across the U.S. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was expected to arrive off the coast Thursday and the Navy said the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan had been ordered to sail as soon as possible with a 2,000-member Marine unit.
"We have to be there for them in their hour of need," Obama said.
A U.S. military assessment team was the first to arrive, to determine Haiti's needs.
The global relief effort picked up steam Thursday with a British flight carrying a government assessment team and 71 rescue specialists along with heavy equipment arriving in the neighboring Dominican Republic. The crew prepared to head to Haiti. A Los Angeles County Fire Department 72-member search team left for Haiti late Wednesday.
The United Nations released $10 million from its emergency funds, even as U.N. forces in Haiti struggled with their own losses. The U.N. headquarters building collapsed, and at least 16 personnel are confirmed dead, with up to 150 still missing, including mission head Hedi Annabi of Tunisia and his chief deputy, Luis Carlos da Costa.
"We'll be using whatever roads are passable to get aid to Port-au-Prince, and if possible we'll bring helicopters in," said Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the U.N. food agency in Geneva.
There was no estimate on how many people were killed by Tuesday's magnitude-7 quake. Haitian President Rene Preval said the toll could be in the thousands. Leading Sen. Youri Latortue told The Associated Press the number could be 500,000, but conceded that nobody really knew.
"Let's say that it's too early to give a number," Preval said told CNN.
Survivors used sledgehammers and their bare hands to try to find victims in the rubble. In Petionville, next to the capital, people dug through a collapsed shopping center, tossing aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars were entombed, including a U.N. truck.
Nearby, about 200 survivors, including many children, huddled in a theater parking lot using sheets to rig makeshift tents and shield themselves from the sun in 90-degree heat.
Police officers carried the injured in their pickup trucks. Wisnel Occilus, a 24-year-old student, was wedged between two other survivors in a truck bed headed to a police station. He was in an English class when the magnitude-7 quake struck at 4:53 p.m. and the building collapsed.
"The professor is dead. Some of the students are dead, too," said Occilus, who suspected he had several broken bones. "Everything hurts."
Other survivors carried injured to hospitals in wheelbarrows and on stretchers fashioned from doors.
More as it comes in.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
WASHINGTON - Conservative televangelist Rev. Pat Robertson on Wednesday blamed the earthquake in Haiti on a "pact with the devil" purportedly entered into by the Haitian people in a bid to defeat French colonizers in the early 19th century.
"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show. "They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'
"True story. And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal,' " Robertson said. "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."
Hours after his comments ignited a firestorm in the news media and online, Robertson's 700 Club TV show issued a statement elaborating on his remarks.
Robertson's comments were based "on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion …where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed," the statement said.
"Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God's wrath," the statement went on. It added that "Dr. Robertson's compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them."
The Haitian uprising is regarded as one of history's few successful slave revolts.
Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a 1988 Republican presidential candidate, has a history of making provocative comments, often in the wake of calamity.
He once said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's incapacitating stroke was divine retribution for withdrawing from the Gaza Strip.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Robertson seemed to link the storm to abortion. About the same time, he called on the U.S. to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Robertson surmised that lack of prayer in public schools and tolerance of abortion and pornography meant that "God Almighty is lifting his protection from us."
Here's the video.
All I can say is...
FUCK YOU PAT ROBERTSON!!!!
FUCK YOU, YOU MISERABLE, RACIST MOTHERFUCKER!
WHEN YOU DIE, I'M GONNA THROW A PARTY, TO CELEBRATE YOUR DEATH, YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!!
I feel much better!
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Dazed survivors wandered past dead bodies in rubble-strewn streets Wednesday, crying for loved ones, and rescuers searched collapsed buildings as officials feared the death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands.
The first cargo planes with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and sniffer dogs headed to the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation a day after the magnitude-7 quake flattened much of the capital of 2 million people.
Tuesday's earthquake brought down buildings great and small — from shacks in shantytowns to President Rene Preval's gleaming white National Palace, where a dome tilted ominously above the manicured grounds.
Hospitals, schools and the main prison collapsed. The capital's Roman Catholic archbishop was killed when his office and the main cathedral fell. The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing in the ruins of the organization's multistory headquarters.
At a triage center improvised in a hotel parking lot, people with cuts, broken bones and crushed ribs moaned under tent-like covers fashioned from bloody sheets.
"I can't take it any more. My back hurts too much," said Alex Georges, 28, who was still waiting for treatment a day after the school he was in collapsed and killed 11 classmates. A body lay a few feet away.
"This is much worse than a hurricane," said doctors' assistant Jimitre Coquillon. "There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."
Bodies were everywhere in Port-au-Prince: those of tiny children adjacent to schools, women in the rubble-strewn streets with stunned expressions frozen on their faces, men hidden beneath plastic tarps and cotton sheets.
Haiti's leaders struggled to comprehend the extent of the catastrophe — the worst earthquake to hit the country in 200 years — even as aftershocks still reverberated.
"It's incredible," Preval told CNN. "A lot of houses destroyed, hospitals, schools, personal homes. A lot of people in the street dead. ... I'm still looking to understand the magnitude of the event and how to manage."
Preval said thousands of people were probably killed. Leading Sen. Youri Latortue told The Associated Press that 500,000 could be dead, but conceded that nobody really knows.
"Let's say that it's too early to give a number," Preval said.
Haiti seems especially prone to catastrophe — from natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, floods and mudslides to crushing poverty, unstable governments, poor building standards and low literacy rates.
In Petionville, next to the capital, people used sledgehammers and their bare hands to dig through a collapsed commercial center, tossing aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars were entombed, including a U.N. truck.
Nearby, about 200 survivors, including many children, huddled in a theater parking lot using sheets to rig makeshift tents and shield themselves from the sun.
Looting began almost as quickly as the quake struck at 4:53 p.m. and people were seen carrying food from collapsed buildings. Many lugged what they could salvage and stacked it around them as they slept in streets and parks.
People streamed into the Haitian countryside, where wooden and cinderblock shacks showed little sign of damage. Many balanced suitcases and other belongings on their heads. Ambulances and U.N. trucks raced in the opposite direction, toward Port-au-Prince.
About 3,000 police and international peacekeepers cleared debris, directed traffic and maintained security in the capital. But law enforcement was stretched thin even before the quake and would be ill-equipped to deal with major unrest.
Images by Getty Images/AP/Reuters
UPDATE - 9:25 PM
Lawlessness might be seeping into the survivors. In a live video interview, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta had to run for cover after gunshots were heard coming from a crowd below the camera crew. Situation on the ground is chaotic, with medical help almost non existent.
More as it comes in.