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Russell Armstrong sober
at time of death: coroner

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: Russell Armstrong, the husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong, was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he committed suicide, authorities said yesterday. The toxicology finding by the Los Angeles ....more

Reese Witherspoon
struck by car while jogging

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8:- Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon was home and recovering from being hit by a car while jogging in the beach community of Santa Monica yesterday, her ....more

Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond
honored by Kennedy Center

WASHINGTON, Sept 8: - Actress Meryl Streep will add another honor to her illustrious career as one of the five artists recognized by the Kennedy Center for their contribution to culture. Streep will join cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singer and songwriter Neil Diamond, Broadway singer and actress Barbara Cook and saxophonist Sonny Rollins as 2011 Kennedy Center ...more

Toronto film fest offers
Oscar bids in strong market

NEW YORK, Sept 8:- Coming off a robust first half of 2011 for independent films, the Toronto film festival kicks off today with expectations for a generous amount of business deals, Hollywood star power and Oscar hopefuls. Film fans and industry pros are heading into this week’s festival, ...more

Still painful, Sept 11 has few rewards for Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: It was a disastrous attack that played out live on television 10 years ago, riveting a horrified nation for days. But the thought-provoking films and TV shows that followed, depicting the fiery attacks of September 11, 2001 and their a....more

Film ponders what would we do on last day of Earth?

VENICE, ITALY, Sept 8: Director Abel Ferrara ponders how we would behave knowing death was coming to us all in an environmental disaster in "4:44 Last Day on Earth," his latest film starring Willem Dafoe. The movie, one .. .more

Oprah, Rosie grace cover of O’s breakthrough issue

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is joined by Rosie O’Donnell, the newest addition to the media mogul’s OWN TV network, for the October issue of O, The Oprah Magazine that looks at breakthrough visionaries in different fields. Winfrey interviews the controversial O’Donnell, about her move from her home in New York to Chicago ... .more

Revenge film paints bleak picture of rural China

VENICE, ITALY Sept 8: - New film "People Mountain People Sea" paints a bleak picture of rural China in a story about Lao Tie and his quest for revenge in the absence of state justice. Directed by Beijing-born Cai Shangjun, the movie is the "surprise" at this year’s Venice film festival,....more

   

Russell Armstrong sober at time of death: coroner

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: Russell Armstrong, the husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong, was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he committed suicide, authorities said yesterday. The toxicology finding by the Los Angeles County coroner’s department comes three weeks after Armstrong, a venture capitalist, was found dead on August 16 after hanging himself in the bedroom of his Los Angeles home. (agencies)

Reese Witherspoon struck by car while jogging

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8:- Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon was home and recovering from being hit by a car while jogging in the beach community of Santa Monica yesterday, her representative said. "The actress was not seriously injured and is resting comfortably at home," her spokeswoman said in a statement. (agencies)

Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond honored by Kennedy Center

WASHINGTON, Sept 8: - Actress Meryl Streep will add another honor to her illustrious career as one of the five artists recognized by the Kennedy Center for their contribution to culture. Streep will join cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singer and songwriter Neil Diamond, Broadway singer and actress Barbara Cook and saxophonist Sonny Rollins as 2011 Kennedy Center honorees, the performing arts organization said yesterday. (agencies)

Toronto film fest offers Oscar bids in strong market

NEW YORK, Sept 8:- Coming off a robust first half of 2011 for independent films, the Toronto film festival kicks off today with expectations for a generous amount of business deals, Hollywood star power and Oscar hopefuls. Film fans and industry pros are heading into this week’s festival, which will screen 268 feature throughout 11 days, in a buoyant mood following strong movie lineups and dealmaking at the Cannes and Sundance festivals earlier this year. (agencies)


Still painful, Sept 11 has few rewards for Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: It was a disastrous attack that played out live on television 10 years ago, riveting a horrified nation for days. But the thought-provoking films and TV shows that followed, depicting the fiery attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, have mostly been shunned by American audiences who favored escapist movies and almost-reality TV while wars raged in Iraq and Afghanistan in the decade that followed. (agencies)

 

Film ponders what would we do on last day of Earth?

VENICE, ITALY, Sept 8: Director Abel Ferrara ponders how we would behave knowing death was coming to us all in an environmental disaster in "4:44 Last Day on Earth," his latest film starring Willem Dafoe. The movie, one of 23 in the main competition at the Venice film festival, has its world premiere yesterday as the annual cinema showcase enters the final stretch ahead of Saturday’s awards. (agencies)

Oprah, Rosie grace cover of O’s breakthrough issue

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is joined by Rosie O’Donnell, the newest addition to the media mogul’s OWN TV network, for the October issue of O, The Oprah Magazine that looks at breakthrough visionaries in different fields. Winfrey interviews the controversial O’Donnell, about her move from her home in New York to Chicago for O’Donnell’s latest role as a talk-show host on the OWN channel. (agencies)

Revenge film paints bleak picture of rural China

VENICE, ITALY Sept 8: - New film "People Mountain People Sea" paints a bleak picture of rural China in a story about Lao Tie and his quest for revenge in the absence of state justice. Directed by Beijing-born Cai Shangjun, the movie is the "surprise" at this year’s Venice film festival, where the main competition lineup is traditionally expanded by one late entry. (agencies)

London Film fest seeks beauty and controversy

LONDON, Sept 8: George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and David Cronenberg will parade the red carpet of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) 55th London Film Festival, which is set to showcase a varied line up of big titles and emerging talent, organizers said yesterday. The European premiere "360" directed by Fernando Meirelles with a glittering cast including Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz, will launch the 16-day festival in October, and "The Deep Blue Sea," also starring Weisz and directed by Terence Davies, will round off Britain’s largest cinematic celebration.(agencies)

 

Global consolidation effort hinges on G-20 nations:US official

WASHINGTON, Sept 8: Ahead of the G-7 summit in France this weekend, a senior US Treasury Official said on Wednesday that the meeting should be viewed as part of global efforts to bolster confidence and economic growth, which will hinge on the steps taken by the G-20 nations.

"Only by working together in the G-20 can we deliver the strengthened growth, job creation and financial market resilience that our citizens deserve," the senior Treasury official said.

However, the Treasury official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said emerging economies have a key role to play in reinforcing the global economy.

"As advanced economies rebuild their balance sheets, the world looks to emerging markets with large surpluses to step up their efforts to boost consumption and for a transition to domestic demand-led growth," the official said.

In this regard, he said said China has the capacity to unlock broader adjustment in emerging markets for convergence with global economic goals by allowing its exchange rate to adjust more rapidly in sync with international currency movements.

"China, in particular, has the capacity to unlock broader adjustment in emerging markets by allowing its exchange rate to adjust more rapidly, which will also address domestic inflationary pressures and bolster domestic consumers, services producers and private enterprise," said the Treasury official.

"The courage of the people of the Middle East and North Africa has catalysed one of the most important transitions of our time.

"The Deauville partnership meeting on Saturday will bring together key regional and global partners committed to supporting this historic transition toward democracy and more inclusive economies in the Middle East and North Africa, recognising that now is the moment for the region and the world to work together to support the legitimate aspirations of the people in this region for greater freedom and opportunity," he said.

"We expect finance ministers from the G-8 to be joined by those from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, the Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia and the heads of nine international regional financial organisations will also attend.

"We also hope to welcome for the first time a representative of Libya as they start the process of rebuilding their country," the official said.

"The (Treasury) Secretary’s participation in the Deauville Partnership ministerial underscores America’s commitment to people in the Middle East and North Africa as they build their democracies and create more inclusive societies," he said.

"Over the last six months, President Obama and his administration supported these transitions in several key ways. We announced a debt swap for Egypt and we have successfully leveraged the resources at the international institutions to provide critical financing for transition countries," he added.

"We’ve also worked with our G-8 partners to reorient the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it can play the same role today in supporting this historic transition in the Middle East and North Africa that it played over the previous two decades in Central and Eastern Europe.

"We’re also committed to developing a comprehensive trade and investment partnership initiative in the Middle East and North Africa," he said.

"Our efforts, of course, need to be aligned with the needs of the countries in the region, such as improving economic stability, strengthening the private sector, curbing corruption, creating jobs and further integrating their markets with the region and the global economy as we help the young people of these important countries to realise their aspirations," the official said.

"Of course, since we are going to become the chair of the Deauville Partnership, we’re very committed to providing a lasting forum to bring this important group of partners together to advance international support for these homegrown efforts," said the Treasury official. (PTI)

US deficit-cutting panel on short but tough road

WASHINGTON, Sept 8: A US congressional "super committee" convenes today to launch its search for at least 1.2 trillion dollar in new deficit reductions as global financial markets look for signs that the world’s largest economy is trying to get its fiscal house in order.

When the panel of 12 congressional Democrats and Republicans holds its opening meeting to set the rules of the road, it will do so under difficult circumstances.

It has until only November 23 to grapple with divisive questions of whether to cut popular social safety net programs and whether wealthy corporations or individuals should be taxed more—and it is doing so with the 2012 national elections coming into focus.

Kicking off the tax debate, aides to Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee offered up a slew of options for raising revenues, including ending some tax breaks for major US oil companies, reducing the value of tax breaks for the wealthy and other revenue raisers. It also looks at ways to lower government costs for the Medicare healthcare plan for the elderly.

The paper, obtained by Reuters, does not endorse any of the options and many Democratic lawmakers had not yet even seen the ideas, according to congressional aides.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was optimistic on Wednesday about the panel’s prospects for success.

"We certainly know they will meet their goals," he told reporters. Then, on an even more upbeat note, he added, "And we’ll see whether they can even go beyond that."

His party’s bitter fight with Democrats over raising the US debt ceiling this summer brought the country to the brink of a default and led to an unprecedented downgrade of the US AAA credit rating.

Going beyond 1.2 trillion dollar in savings would hearten financial markets and US credit rating agencies, which want to see a couple trillion dollars more saved.

As the super committee stares down a national debt that will soon race past the size of the entire $14.9 trillion economy, its members know that failure to tackle deficits could result in another downgrade of the government’s debt rating.

That would be a new blow to a shaky US economy at a time when European countries also are struggling with a massive debt crisis that threatens to ripple across the world.

"The country is facing a fiscal train wreck; progress toward addressing that is one of the most important things policymakers can do right now," said Andy Laperriere, an analyst with the ISI Group in Washington.

HYBRID PLAN

Pressure to reduce government budget deficits is fueled largely by conservative Tea Party activists’ successes in the 2010 congressional elections but also by the knowledge that tackling debt would inject confidence into the US economy.

"You can’t bring down the debt and deficit over the long-term if you don’t grow the economy," warned Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, underscoring his party’s insistence that deficit-reduction must be paired with economic stimulus.

It is also a message that President Barack Obama aims to deliver to a joint session of Congress later on Thursday when he lays out his plan for creating more jobs.

With only about 10 weeks to come up with a plan that Congress would then vote on by December 23, the super committee must come up with a plan that does not fall victim of the partisan bickering that has sharply divided Capitol Hill and the acrimony of the 2012 national elections.

The super committee’s debate has been portrayed as an either/or situation.

Either a majority of the panel agrees to at least $1.2 trillion in new savings over 10 years—on top of the $917 billion agreed to last month and 38 billion dollar in April—or automatic spending cuts will be triggered, beginning in 2013.

But it might not be that clear-cut. One emerging scenario envisaged by budget experts is a plan that combines some budget savings with automatic spending cuts.

That could be a three-legged plan structured this way:

Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of spending cuts and some revenue increases over 10 years;

The remainder of the 10-year, 1.2 billion dollar in savings would be automatically triggered;

Big additional savings would kick in beyond 2021. This bit could make savings to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—the national retirement and healthcare plans for the elderly and poor.

But even such a hodgepodge will be difficult as Democrats would likely insist on tax cuts being coupled with benefit cuts over the long term.

"Republicans are more dug in on not raising taxes and Democrats are more dug in to not do anything meaningful on entitlements without tax increases," Laperriere said. (agencies)

 

Young, nearby supernova dazzles US scientists

LOS ANGELES, Sept 8: California astronomers have found the closest, brightest supernova of its kind in 25 years, catching the glimmer of a tiny self-destructing star a mere 21 million light years from Earth and soon visible to amateur skywatchers.

The discovery, announced yesterday, was made in what was believed to be the first hours of the rare cosmic explosion using a special telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego and powerful supercomputers at a government laboratory in Berkeley.

The detection so early of a supernova so near has created a worldwide stir among astronomers, who are clamoring to observe it with every telescope at their disposal, including the giant Hubble Space Telescope.

Scientists behind the discovery at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley say the extraordinary phenomenon—labeled by the rather obscure designation PTF 11kly—will likely become the most-studied supernova in history.

"It is an instant cosmic classic," said Peter Nugent, the senior scientist at UC Berkeley who first spotted it.

PTF 11kly occurred in the Pinwheel Galaxy, located in the Ursa Major constellation, better known as the Big Dipper. At a distance of roughly 21 million light years, that puts it, on a cosmic scale, practically "in our backyard," Nugent said.

By comparison, most supernova found with the 48-inch Palomar telescope are about 1 billion light years away and far too faint for the general public to see, Nugent said.

Initially detected on August 24, the PTF 11kly has literally grown brighter by the minute and was already 20 times more luminous in just one day.

It is expected to reach its peak sometime between September 9 and 12, when it will become visible to stargazers using a good pair of binoculars or small telescope.

It will appear, blueish-white, just above and to the left of the last two stars in the Big Dipper handle.

"There are billions of stars in a galaxy. This supernova will outshine them all this weekend," Nugent told.

Supernovae of this type, classified as a "Type 1a" event, occur when a super-dense white dwarf star, about the size of Earth but containing somewhat more mass than our own sun, explodes like a gargantuan thermonuclear bomb.

The blast hurls matter in all directions at nearly one-tenth the speed of light—matter that ultimately will form the building blocks of other stars and planets.

Such events, accounting for about one in five of all supernovae, are also used by scientists in measuring the expansion of the universe.

Similar supernovae are known to have occurred in the Pinwheel Galaxy at least three times before—in 1909, 1951 and 1970. But instruments available to observe this one are far more sophisticated, and its early detection is giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse of such phenomena.

For astronomers, the royal straight flush of supernovae are those occurring in our own galaxy, which last happened in 1572 and was visible with the naked eye for months, Nugent said.

Records from antiquity indicate that an even more spectacular supernova in the Milky Way lit up the sky in 1006 A.D., Nugent said. (agencies)_



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