Teen gunman kills 15 in Germany

WINNENDEN, Germany: A 17-year-old wielding a Beretta 9 mm pistol burst intoclassrooms at his former high school Wednesday and gunned down students some of whom died with their pencils still in hand in a rampage that ended with 15 dead before he took his own life, authorities said.
There was no immediate indication of motive, but the gunman's victims were primarily female: eight of nine students killed were girls, and all three teachers were women. Three men were killed later as the suspect, identified by police as Tim K., fled.
"I heard two shots and then screaming," said a 15-year-old student who gave her name only as Betty. "At first I thought it was a joke, but then someone called 'Run, run!' and I saw students jumping out of the windows and took off running."

The gunman dressed in all black took students in the first classroom completely by surprise, evidenced by the morbid scene that awaited the first officers to arrive, said regional police director Ralf Michelfelder.
The dark-haired teen, shown wearing glasses in pictures on German television, apparently took the weapon from his father's collection of 16 firearms along with a "multitude of ammunition," police said. His father was a member of the local gun club and kept the weapons locked away except for the pistol, which was kept in the bedroom.
Police said the suspect was a German teen who was a below-average student at the school of about 1,000 pupils, but managed to graduate last year.
Police received an emergency call from the school at 9:33 a.m. The first officers responded about two minutes later, said Baden Wuerttemburg state interior minister Heribert Rech. They heard shots on the second floor and ran upstairs, catching a glimpse of the suspect on a staircase, Rech said.
Courtesy: ABC News and Al Jazeera


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Gunners hold their nerve on tricky night in Rome

Roma 1 - 0 Arsenal (Juan 10) (agg 1-1)
Highlights here, Arsene’s reaction here

Thank God for that. After an incredibly tight second leg, close primarily because of the failure of either side to seize the initiative in the tie, Arsenal qualified for the quarter-final of the Champions League after defeating Roma on penalties.
After some terrible defending allowed Juan to draw the tie level early on, penalties felt somehow inevitable. With our flight to Italy having been delayed by three hours, the game itself seemed destined to drag on for what felt like an even longer period of time.

Arsenal players celebrate the winning penalty
Still, end it had to, and end it eventually did when Max Tonetto blazed over Roma’s eigth penalty. Credit must go to our takers - even Eduardo, who missed, showed great courage to step up first after a year out with injury. But Van Persie, Walcott, Nasri, Denilson, Toure, Sagna, and Diaby all held their nerve in the face of a hostile Roman crowd.
I really have no time for anything more this morning. I am actually awake at this un-Godly hour (it’s 5am right now) and I have to head off to a work thing. I’ll be away for a couple of days, but expect to be back to report on the Blackburn match on Sunday. In the meantime, you can stay up-to-date(ish) over on twitter.
To sign off, a hearty thankyou to our incredible away fans, who were audible over the din of the Italians throughout yesterday’s game, and an even heartier ‘Get Well Soon’ to the unlucky Arsenal fan who fell victim to one of Roma’s despicable Ultras. Frankly, the rest of Europe ought to thank us for putting a team with such ‘fans’ out of the competition.
Have a good end to your week, folks.


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Juan Antonio Bayona Confirmed for Eclipse

Rumored to be at the top of the list earlier in the week, Nikki Finke over at Deadline Hollywood has now confirmed that Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona has signed on to direct Eclipse, the third flick in the Twilight Saga. According to earlier internet rumors, Drew Barrymore was also being considered to helm the film.

Melissa Rosenberg, who penned the Twilight and New Moon scripts, is working on Eclipse, in which Bella is forced to choose between Edward and Jacob. Summit Entertainment has already set a release date of June 30, 2010.

Bayona, a protégé of Guillermo Del Toro, previously directed the Spanish-language horror-thriller The Orphanage, which was executive produced by Del Toro, and is attached to helm the Universal thriller Hater, with Del Toro and Mark Johnson producing.

Production on the second installment in the series, New Moon, is gearing up with Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) in the director’s chair. Robert Pattinson Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are reprising their Twilight roles. New faces include Dakota Fanning.

New Moon is set to open this November.


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ANOTHER 'IRON MAN 2' DEAL: Scarlett Johannson To Replace Emily Blunt As Black Widow For Lousy Lowball Money

Mickey Rourke will play the Russian villain in Iron Man 2 in a Marvel Studios deal that started out lowball and went up a lot. Now I'm told that Emily Blunt won't be in the sequel and Black Widow will now be played by Scarlett Johannson. (Interesting because Scarlett actually screen-tested for the role and didn't get it.) But I hear that, unlike Mickey's money, the deal for her is "just the opposite, a terrible deal made by CAA," one of my insiders says. "It's as bad as any deal that I've heard.
It's lowball money. And it ties her to countless movies, including that ensemble The Avengers, which is what makes this brutal for a lot of actors." As for Blunt, I'm told she fell out not by choice but only because Fox exercised an option that the studio had from The Devil Wears Prada to make her do the upcoming film starring Jack Black, Gullivers Travels.
EXCLUSIVE: Mickey Rourke Signs For Russian Villain Role In 'Iron Man 2'


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An iPhone app developer's take on Microsoft's Windows Mobile store

As a serial iPhone application developer, Seattle entrepreneur and lawyer Michael Schneider is exactly the type of person Microsoft would want to offer apps in the upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile, its answer to Apple's App Store.
After the Redmond company outlined its program for mobile-application developers this morning, I asked Schneider via email if it would be enough for him to consider making applications for Windows Mobile devices. Here's what he said.
"The single most important factor in whether I start developing for Windows Mobile will be if Microsoft can attract a large enough base of application customers. Apple's approval process is a pain for developers to deal with, but they have done an outstanding job of educating consumers on how to find and buy apps. If Microsoft does as much to drive traffic to their store as Apple has, the developers will come.

"On the financial terms of Microsoft's marketplace, the terms seem to mirror Apple's, with the exception of the per application fee after five apps. Personally, I would prefer it if Apple and Microsoft would charge more for the app review, but provide a faster review with more two way communications. Microsoft seems to be moving in that direction, but I question how much personal attention developers can expect for $20-$100 per app. Microsoft has an opportunity here to attract developers by providing better communication and a faster, less mysterious approval process. From their press release, it looks like they are focusing on the right issues.

"My biggest concern about developing for Windows Mobile is dealing with the hardware differences in the available handsets. The technical support and compatibility issues associated with supporting multiple device configurations is going to make developing for Windows Mobile much more work."
John Burry, CEO of Mobui, the Redmond-based mobile application agency, said Microsoft's promise of 70 percent revenue sharing and greater transparency in the certification process provides incentives for companies such as his to consider.
"Right now, with over 20 million iPhones sold and over 500 million applications downloaded the numbers are showing that iPhone owners are downloading an average of 25 mobile applications which is 5 times greater than the average smartphone owner," he said via email.
He added, "Microsoft's app store, like all the other mobile platform stores coming online, faces a challenging environment. However, we've learned in the past that Microsoft has proven it can come from behind and end up in a position of leadership."

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Forbes World’s richest

A billion here, 10 billion there! Gosh! The world’s richest are suffering!!!

World’s richest not so rich, Gates regains top spot
The number of billionaires in the world fell by nearly a third to 793 in the past year, with large numbers dropping off the list in Russia, India and Turkey.
Gates regained his title as the richest man in the world, with $40 billion after slipping to third last year when he was worth $58 billion. Buffett, last year’s richest man, fell to second place with $37 billion, down from $62 billion. Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim took third place with $35 billion, down from $60 billion.

Collectively, the top three billionaires lost $68 billion in the year to February 13, when Forbes took a snapshot of wealth around the world to compile its annual list of billionaires.

Chief Executive of Forbes Magazines Steve Forbes said that, while few would shed a tear for the plight of a billionaire, it was bad for the economy when entrepreneurs were in trouble.

“Billionaires don’t have to worry about their next meal, but if their wealth is declining and you’re not creating numerous new billionaires, it means the rest of the world is not doing very well,” he told reporters. “The typical billionaire is down at least one third on their net worth.”

The net worth of the world’s billionaires fell from $4.4 trillion to $2.4 trillion, while the number of billionaires was down to 793 from 1,125.

“It’s the first time since 2003 that we have lost billionaires, but we’ve never before lost anywhere near this number,” said Luisa Kroll, senior editor of Forbes.


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Jon Stewart Faces Off With CNBCs Jim Cramer Thursday Night; Media To Blame

Jim Cramer is going to respond in person to attacks on CNBC by Jon Stewart while appearing on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Ever since CNBC’s Rick Santelli backed out of a “Daily Show” appearance last week, Stewart has been ripping CNBC for its cheery reporting before the stock market tanked. Cramer has been responding on various NBC Universal outlets, prompting Stewart to blast back with fake clips from other Viacom shows on Tuesday night’s show.
—Jon Lafayette

Comments Mother Jones:

Jonathan Stein says Cramer deserves some credit for “ending his market boosterism” and “apologizing for some horrifically bad stock picks” but “ultimately that’s all tangential” to the real problem:

What Cramer really needs to do is stop making ordinary people believe they can game the stock market on a day to day basis. A massive majority of the buying and selling done on Wall Street is done by banks and massive institutions with all the resources in the world at their disposal. Joe Sixpack and his 1,000 shares of Coca Cola are just grease for the gears. . . . 
Jim Cramer can defend himself all he wants. But his modus operandi is still problematic: he sends amateurs hurtling into a professional’s game.

Eric Janzsen of the great financial blog iTulip.com, which was once threatened by Cramer’s The Street.com for running a video critiquing him, writes:

Where was The Daily Show back when the DOW was 13,000 and criticizing Cramer might have mattered to his viewers?

Proto-fascism: only comedians are permitted to do real journalism that criticizes the power structure to a national broadcast audience. Today even the comedians can’t do real journalism until the subject of criticism is already on his way down.


The most recent “American Workplace Insights” survey from Adecco Group North America (www.Adecco.com) the world’s largest recruitment and workforce solutions provider, gives great insight into the state of mind of America’s workforce. The stresses and strains of the current economic situation have caused many Americans to consider unethical conduct on the job. In addition, a staggering number of Americans report that the recession has caused a negative impact on their mental health. This Friday’s jobs report numbers will draw our attention to the unemployed, but what are the effects of a steady stream of bad news on those of us with jobs?

• The recession has caused many Americans to develop unseen illnesses. 1 in 5 employed people report that the recession has had a negative impact on their mental health

• Desperate times call for desperate measures. 28% of people would do something dishonest to keep their jobs (examples included blaming co-workers for mistakes, blackmail, and flirting with a superior)

· Leading by far is the generation Y demographic of which 41% would do something dishonest

· Leading all groups, 44% of men between 18-35 would do something dishonest

Slain US Nazi hated Obama, had parts for ‘dirty bomb’

Claim: Depleted uranium purchased over the Internet from an American company

Trust fund millionaire James G. Cummings, an American Nazi sympathizer from Maine who was slain by his wife Amber in December, allegedly had the radioactive components necessary to construct a “dirty bomb,” a newly released threat analysis report states.

The man, allegedly furious over the election of President Obama, purchased depleted uranium over the Internet from an American company.

“According to an FBI field intelligence report from the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center posted online by WikiLeaks, an organization that posts leaked documents, an investigation into the case revealed that radioactive materials were removed from Cummings’ home after his shooting death on Dec. 9,” reported the Bangor Daily News.

“Amber (Cummings) indicated James was very upset with Barack Obama being elected President,” reported the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center (PDF link). “She indicated James had been in contact with ‘white supremacist group(s).’ Amber also indicated James mixed chemicals in the kitchen sink at their residence and had mentioned ‘dirty bombs.’”

DS: Anyone Remember Jose Padilla who was pictured as a super-terrorist Dirty Bomber for years until no evidence of any dirty bomb was ever produced?

Mark Crispin Miller: So where’s the coverage? This story comes from the Bangor Daily News.

By and large, terror from the right does not exist, according to the media, whose employees have long turned a blind eye to terrorism aimed at government workers (as in our national parks), environmentalists and abortion clinics (and, also, foreign terrorists working for our government); and now the media consistently tune out, or underplay, assassination threats against the president.

The same press that yakked endlessly about William Ayers, and his alleged close connection to Obama, have so far been completely mute about this character, who planned to kill the president (and, of course, planned it recently, while Ayers set off his bombs decades ago). The Ayers/Obama “friendship” was the subject of a front-page story in the New York Times. So where’s that paper’s front-page piece on James G. Cummings?”

Robert Parry, Editor of Consortiumnews.com: It’s The Media, Stupido

Less than two months into Barack Obama’s presidency, it has become clear that the top threat to his ability to accomplish his goals - from reversing the recession to reforming health care to building a greener economy - is not just an obstructionist Republican Party but a U.S. news media that remains largely tilted to the Right.

Thats the News Dissector blog for today. Your comments welcome, your financial support more so. I am off to Doha in the Persian Gulf Thursday night, invited to the annual AlJazeera forum. Back Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, I will be speaking about my book PLUNDER at BLUE STOCKINGS, a funky, committed and fabulous book store at 172 Allen St New York, NY 10002 in the Lower East Side of New York City. All readers welcome.


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Don’t you find it ironic that Muslims, whose terrorist friends fight behind women and children and in hospitals, yesterday heckled British soldiers during a homecoming parade? Muslim loudmouth Anjem Choudary taunted the grieving families of three Royal Anglian Regiment members killed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident. He said troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were ‘not heroes but closer to cowards who cannot fight, as their uncanny knack for death by friendly fire illustrates’.

Seems like all that Arab immigration is not working out too well for England. England has completely rolled over for all things Islam. They recently prohibited Dutch film maker and parliamentarian Geert Wilders from entering England to screen his film Fitna. Wilders is one of the brave voices in a sea of wussyboys in Europe who tells the truth about Muslims and the violence that follows them. The English had no problem admitting the head of Hezbollah last week, however. Can you believe that the country that gave us the Magna Carta and free speech now prohibits it in favor of Muslim terrorist murderers?
Yesterday’s homecoming resulted in two arrests. You guessed it…two Brits were arrested for racial name calling! Muslims can insult the memory of fallen soldiers in the presence of their families but English better not call them towelheads. The English are as politically correct as the guy who runs Little Green Footballs! The Angry White Dude would shed no tears if the soldiers were released to teach the hairy little terrorists a lesson or two. But that’s only a pipe dream in England. Within 5 years, the queen will be wearing a burqha and covering her face (which may not be a bad idea).
Here is the article:


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Is Google's Interest-Based Advertising Push a Positive Development in the Social Graph Wars?

Google's announcement that they are now openly beta-testing "interest-based advertising" confirms that the near-term future of web advertising will involve tapping into your behavior and interest graph.
From the Official Google Blog:
To date, we have shown ads based mainly on what your interests are at a specific moment. So if you search for [digital camera] on Google, you'll get ads related to digital cameras. ... We think we can make online advertising even more relevant and useful by using additional information about the websites people visit. Today we are launching "interest-based" advertising as a beta test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest — say sports, gardening, cars, pets — with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view. We may then use those interest categories to show you more relevant text and display ads.

There is no doubt that this will make for a more interesting and valuable advertising experience, while also boosting Google's bottom line by cutting out advertising inefficiencies. It is also clear that allowing Google to pair your behavioral data with your ad click data will open up a new frontier of behavioral data mining that will further fuel the Google system and lead to additional advances in search, understanding online behavioral modes, and advertising strategies.
Of course, the inexorable move to personal data integration (Facebook and Twitter are hard at work on similar initiatives and will be the next to jump into the data+search game - credit card, shopping club, and survey companies have been doing this for years) into one big-ass socio-behavioral graph pushes to the forefront a host of privacy, transparency, data control, and general social issues/questions that have been mustering force.
What does Google have to say about this?
The official company stance:
This kind of tailored advertising does raise questions about user choice and privacy — questions the whole online ad industry has a responsibility to answer. Many companies already provide interest-based advertising and they address these issues in different ways. For our part, we're launching interest-based advertising with three important features that demonstrate our commitment to transparency and user choice.
Transparency - We already clearly label most of the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and on YouTube. You can click on the labels to get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads. This year we will expand the range of ad formats and publishers that display labels that provide a way to learn more and make choices about Google's ad serving.
Choice - We have built a tool called Ads Preferences Manager, which lets you view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.
Control - You can always opt out of the advertising cookie for the AdSense partner network here. To make sure that your opt-out decision is respected (and isn't deleted if you clear the cookies from your browser), we have designed a plug-in for your browser that maintains your opt-out choice.
In other words, you can opt out to various degrees and even establish granular control over the advertising being sent in your direction.
To be honest, this is something I've been pining for for quite some time. I'm one of those rare people that actually likes advertising when it's relevant to me because it decreases the amount of time I spend searching for products, events, websites, etc, that interest me (just as Google says).
By making ads more relevant, and improving the connection between advertisers and our users, we can create more value for everyone. Users get more useful ads, and these more relevant ads generate higher returns for advertisers and publishers.
Am I concerned about privacy and the quantification of my brain and behavior by third parties? Yes, but not enough to not want to use such services. After all, I (and you) already use credit cards that collect and sell my data to unscrupulous information aggregators that do not depend on myonline behavior for their life's blood. According to Google's own Marissa Mayer, it has been reported that such companies can two years in advance determine with 98% confidence that you will be going through a divorce - then adjust their advertising and offer targeting accordingly. (Yes she's biased, but this has been happening for decades, is pervasive. Even our government agencies are in the game.)
In the face of such data collection an opt-in/opt-out system sure seems nice. So maybe we should all help take this to the next level and begin demanding the Google Express card, a credit card that helps centralize and protect our data then even pays us back in bonus G-points for contributing to that big-ass social graph! (I'm only half-kidding. I'd rather be aligned with an entity I understand and that gives back value than have my data flow into a gigantic secretive vacuum. Of course, I will also be looking for assurances from Google that my data is in fact being protected - which has very delierately been the case thus far.)


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Obama OKs $410B spending bill -- with earmarks

WASHINGTON (AP) As a candidate, Barack Obama roundly criticized congressional earmarks, though he didn't call for their total elimination. On Wednesday, he was more lamb than lion on the matter, defending Congress' pet spending projects while calling for tighter restrictions.

He sounded rather weary of the entire debate as he signed an "imperfect" $410 billion spending bill that contained nearly 8,000 earmarks. Many of the spending projects are justified and useful, Obama said, as Republicans gleefully accused him of hypocrisy.

On another potentially controversial matter, the president also issued a "signing statement" with the bill, saying several of its provisions raised constitutional concerns and would be taken merely as suggestions. He has criticized President George W. Bush for often using such statements to claim the right to ignore portions of new laws, and on Monday he said his administration wouldn't follow those issued by Bush unless authorized by the new attorney general.
Obama White House officials have accused Bush of using the statements to get around Congress in pursuing anti-terror tactics.

Obama signed the spending bill in private, unlike a number of recent bill signings that took place with fanfare. But he raised the issue of earmarks in public comments that played down their scope and possible harm.

They comprise about 1 percent of the spending package, which will keep the government running through September, he told reporters. "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts. And that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said.

Still, the president acknowledged the storm of criticism from watchdog groups, talk show hosts and many Republican lawmakers -- including some who have obtained earmarks -- who call them wasteful and politically motivated. He noted that he, too, has taken issue with earmarks, which are provisions that direct money to specific projects.

Proposing new safeguards Wednesday, Obama asked Congress to require that any earmark for a for-profit company be subject to competitive bids. He also said he would work with Congress to eliminate earmarks or other specific items in spending bills that he believes serve no legitimate purpose. But he did not specify how.

Critics were unmoved. Obama "naively asked earmark addicts to police themselves," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. Lawmakers "trumpZZTOet their pork on their Web sites," he said, "and nobody believes we will have public hearings on pet projects."

Presidents can ask Congress to rescind various spending items. But the authority has little bite because lawmakers tend to ignore requests to undo their work.

Sen. John McCain, Obama's GOP opponent in last year's election, wants to require Congress to vote on a president's request that Congress withdraw spending it already has approved, known as rescissions. Obama is open to such a change, spokesman Robert Gibbs said, but has not proposed it.

"It doesn't do anybody any good to send up a rescissions package," Gibbs said, if it "becomes a piece of paper in somebody's file drawer."

Congress has wrestled for years with how to regulate earmarks, the targeted spending items for construction projects, weapons systems, research grants and thousands of other programs sought by Senate and House members. Voters tend to disdain earmarks in the abstract, but they often embrace the money and jobs that earmarks produce close to home. Many lawmakers base their re-election bids on the goodies they steer to constituents, and efforts to eliminate earmarks have repeatedly met strong resistance in both parties.

Nearly all earmarks serve some public purpose, even the so-called bridge to nowhere in Alaska. But abuses have included tying earmarks to kickbacks, including those that sent former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., to prison in 2006.

Congress tightened regulations after that, including requirements that requests for earmark be made public and subject to scrutiny. The number has decreased since then, but they still totaled 7,991, costing $5.5 billion, in the "omnibus" spending bill Obama signed Wednesday.

The president called the bill imperfect and recommended further earmark changes "to ensure that the budget process inspires trust and confidence instead of cynicism."

For a time, President Bill Clinton enjoyed line-item veto power, which allowed him to strike specific projects, including earmarks, from massive spending bills. But the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1998. Since then, presidents have had to accept or veto entire spending bills, often packed with thousands of items, some of them earmarks.

Congress' Democratic leaders issued statements Wednesday praising Obama's remarks and defending earmarks in general. The House Appropriations Committee announced said it would submit every future earmark to the appropriate executive branch agency for a review.

But a statement issued by the committee's chairman, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., hinted at irritation with the public's focus. "With all of the hyperventilating over the 1 percent of the omnibus appropriations bill that is made up of earmarks," he said, "Washington has mostly glossed over the important results it has achieved with the other 99 percent of the bill."

It was unclear how Congress might prevent earmarks from being directed to specific for-profit companies. House Appropriations staffers said the process will be changed to prevent "sole-sourcing" of contracts through earmarks and to require an open bidding process instead.

Obama's signing statement said he wouldn't be bound by provisions of the bill in five areas. They involved negotiations with foreign governments, limits on using U.S. troops in U.N. missions, protections for government whistleblowers, a congressional claim of authority over the spending of money already approved by Congress and congressional demands that the administration submit budget requests in certain forms.


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Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston call it quits

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have broken up.The pair, who welcomed son Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston two months ago, finally confirmed Wednesday that they have been broken up for awhile.They were planning to marry this summer after she finished high school.

But it looks like the wedding won’t be happenning.According to Levi’s sister, Mercede, Bristol refuses to let him see their newborn son.In an interview with Star magazine, Mercede says, “Levi tries to visit Tripp every single day, but Bristol makes it nearly impossible. She tells him he can’t take the baby to our house because she doesn’t want him around ‘white trash’! Bristol won’t even allow him to watch the baby for a few hours — unless he’s babysitting!”
Apparently, Grandma Sarah Palin approves of Bristol’s behaviour!


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Chris Brown removed himself from the 2009 Kids Choice Award ballot

Chris Brown has removed his name from the 2009 Kids Choice Award ballot, a day after Nickelodeon refused to withdrawn Brown’s name from consideration for their Kid’s Choice Award.
Chris mouthpiece released this statement: “Chris very much appreciates the support of his fans and the honor they have paid him in the way of nominations for Favorite Male Singer and Favorite Song. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the incident last month has shifted the focus from the music to whether he should be allowed to be among those nominated.”
Brown’s announcement to withdraw his name from the Kids Choice Award comes after more than 10,000 people signed an Online petition to remove him from this year’s nominee list.
The petition also calls for Rihanna’s name to be dropped from the list of nominees, because she went back to her alleged abuser.

The petition says: “While we don’t think public figures are expected to always act responsibly in the name of being a role model, this situation is unacceptable on both sides. To say that either of these people setting a suitable example to be held up as ‘winners’ is preposterous,”


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Charles Lewis Jr: TapouT MMA Mask Charles Lewis died (photos/video)

Charles Lewis Jr, aka “Mask”, the owner of TapouT MMA clothing line, has died. Lewis died when his Ferrari crashed into a light pole. Lewis’ car was smashed and cut into half.

Charles Lewis/ Mask drove his Ferrari in Orange County, California. At around 1 am Wednesday morning, Lewis’ car left the road, hit the curb and crashed into a light pole. Police suspect Lewis was racing a driver, Jeffrey David Kirby, 51, in a Porsche. The driver, Kirby, was arrested. Kirby was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter.

Kirby’s female companion in the Porsche was Lynn Marie Nabozny, 32. Nabozny was arrested for public intoxication. Nabozny was released after her arrest.

Lewis had a female passenger in his Ferrari. She was ejected from the car. She is in a serious condition in the hospital.

Charles Lewis Jr, RIP.

Photo of Mask/ Charles Lewis.

Photos & gossip link.

A longer report and biography of Charles Lewis Jr - link. Fox News video at this link


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Apple shrinks its iPod Shuffle

The new device is smaller than an AA battery yet holds up to 1,000 songs, Apple said. The pre-shrunk Shuffle also adds a new VoiceOver feature that can recite song titles, artists and playlist names, as well as provide status information, such as battery life. Apple said the gadget's battery life clocks in at 10 hours.

Priced at AU$129, it comes in silver or black. The aluminium body of the third-generation Shuffle stands 45.2mm tall and is 7.8mm thick. The navigation and volume controls are in a small protrusion on the right earphone cord.

With the new Shuffle, users can organise songs by multiple playlists. The VoiceOver feature can speak in 14 languages: English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

VoiceOver is Apple's term for the text-to-speech engine built into Mac OS X Leopard in order to let blind people use a Mac more easily. The "Alex" voice generated by that software is the one that Leopard users will hear, while Windows users and Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) users will hear a different voice, said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPod and iPhone marketing.

The first time you sync one of the new iPod Shuffles with iTunes, Apple will install software on your Mac or PC that makes the voice feature possible. This isn't speech recognition; you can't speak into your iPod headphone and order up Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, but the voice feature is more useful than just reminding you of the name of that song you downloaded three years ago but had forgotten about until it randomly came up on your Shuffle.

Apple now supports playlist discovery with the new iPod Shuffle. A button in the centre of the headphone controls, when held down for a few seconds, takes you into a playlist mode where the speech engine recites the names of your playlists in alphabetical order, allowing you to select a playlist by pushing the button again, Joswiak said.

The only controls on the device itself are the on/off switch and the shuffle/linear switch, Joswiak said. Apple will ship its own in-ear headphones with the Shuffle, but third-parties will be able to make their own headphones that have the controls, and they'll also make adapters that will let you use the controls with existing headphones, he said.

Apple is discontinuing its 2GB Shuffle introduced at last year's iPod event, but will continue to sell the older AU$65 1GB Shuffle, Joswiak said.


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