Monday, July 4, 2011

Christine Lagarde Announced as First Female Head of IMF

French finance minister Christine Lagarde was today announced as the first female leader of the International Monetary Fund. She takes over from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, beginning her five-year term on 5 July.

With a background in law, rather than economics, Lagarde made her mark as the first and only female economy minister of a G8 country to date by surrounding herself with strong advisers and by using her impeccable English and media savvy to get her message out. The Financial Times named her last year the best economy minister in the eurozone and Forbes ranked her the 17th-most important woman in the world.

Her role at the heart of the eurozone debt crisis was probably crucial in securing her new position with the IMF. She has been a champion of eurozone solidarity, urging the likes of Germany and France to pull together to support weaker members. She also played a key role in securing a 750 billion euro (�673bn) EU-rescue fund during the debt market crisis in 2009.

Talking about negotiations such as these, Lagarde has said that her understated, feminine approach can prove an asset when dealing with male peers.

The chancellor, George Osborne, hailed Lagarde as "good news for the global economy and for Britain". He said "She is the best person for the job, which is why Britain was one of the first countries to propose her. She has been a strong advocate for countries tackling high budget deficits and living within their means."

President Nicolas Sarkozy described the appointment as a "victory for France", even though her departure leaves him vulnerable to attacks that the strong female cabinet presence he promised has evaporated.

?I am deeply honoured by the trust placed in me,? said Miss Lagarde of her new role.


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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nicolas Cage Settles Lawsuit With Vampire Movie Producer

That was fast!

Just a couple days ago Nicolas Cage was hit with a lawsuit by producer Paul Brooks who worked with the actor on the movie Shadow of the Vampire, things have already been settled.

The two had a dispute over money Brooks believed Cage owed him. Looks like they've settled the amount owed (around $78,000) because Cage's rep said this:

"Contrary to recent reports that a lawsuit was going forth by Paul Brooks and Early Bird Productions against Mr. Cage, this matter has been resolved privately and amicably between the parties and therefore no legal action is being pursued."

Lucky break, Nic! Especially since we know you've kinda been going through a rough time lately. Chin up, buddy!

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Howard Steven Friedman: When the Facts Change

One of my favorite quotes of all time is John Maynard Keynes' famous retort, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" Unfortunately, too often people hold onto their opinions regardless of the changing landscape of facts.

News flashes across the screen and we immediately fill in as many blanks as possible using our knowledge, experience, imagination, biases, etc. This is human nature. It is how we function in the world given the vast amount of incomplete information that exists in every situation. We form opinions and then need to decide whether or not those opinions shift as new information arrives. Ideally, we are conscious of the biases that helped formed those opinions but, more often, they operate under the radar screen.

The Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK) case seems like a textbook example. When the news first came out, many rushed to convict DSK while some instinctively defended him. Those who took a strong stand with minimal information were filling in those vast informational gaps with their imagination and biases. Those who immediately "convicted" DSK tended to make broad generalizations about the IMF, men in power or French culture. Those immediately "defended" DSK often made broad generalizations about the sex appeal of powerful men or negative stereotypes about the accuser's culture, socio-economic background, etc. From what minimal facts had been shared with the media, there seemed to be little question that there was a physical interaction between DSK and the accuser, yet the cases has boiled down to he-said/she-said concerning whether the interaction was consensual or forced. Not surprisingly, the defense soon adapted the strategy of attacking the witness.

Now that DSK has been freed from house arrest, many are rushing again to judge. Some blame the prosecution, some blame the accuser while others think this was all a set-up. In the end, we will most likely never really know whether a crime was committed or not, but that won't stop us from forming our opinions -- after all, we are human and that is how the mind works.

In general, as we form opinions in situations where the facts are limited, an important step is to ask ourselves not only what we believe, but, more introspectively, what specifically made us form that opinion. What information, personal knowledge, opinions and biases made us fill in the gaps the way we did? Then, as the facts change, are we willing to change our mind?

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Earlier this week, some nude pictures of model Amber Rose leaked onto the world wide web. She addressed the situation via her Twitter and mentioned how she was embarrassed and how it is now messing with her potential business ventures. … Continue


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The Last 'Harry Potter' Film: New Sneak Peek (Video)

Potterheads are abuzz as the days count down to the final film in the 'Harry Potter' franchise, and scrutiny of the last installment will no doubt be intense. To whet your appetite, Moviefone editors have an exclusive new clip from the film, which opens nationwide July 15.

Without further ado, feast your eyes on this exclusive footage just released to Moviefone of Daniel Radcliffe and cast in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,' directed by David Yates.

This sneak-peek clip takes place during the scene inside Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at Gringotts, and it's very Horcrux-y. Only two weeks left!


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Patriotic Gossip


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Management Today's "35 Women Under 35" 2011 List - Spotlight on UK Entrepreneurs

Every year, Management Today�creates a list of 35 women under 35 who have shown outstanding performance in their industry, promoting the top younf high flyers in the country.

This year, the list belongs to the entrepreneurs. The most striking thing about their 2011 line-up is that half the women on the list have been recognised for their success in start-ups - whether making Lady Gaga's knickers, a children's glasses retailer or a new hedge fund.�

Here is their list of heroes under 35:�


Behari started her property maintenance company, Home Jane, which employs only female tradespeople, in 2006. More recently, she co-founded the Goodlife Centre, teaching the lost art of DIY. Behari has also co-presented Channel 4 show Make, Do and Mend. She won business of the year at the Thames Gateway Awards 2009.


The market for stretchy, body-shaping underwear may be tightly packed, but Awan knew she could do it better. Since launching her Peachy Pink range in 2009. turnover has rocketed, sometimes doubling or tripling month on month. She now sells to 20 countries. In 2010 she received the female Asian entrepreneur of the year award from Theresa May.


Bentley and Marsden collaborated on their first fashion project together - Vintage Hatics, a head-to-toe vintage clothing and stylist service - while holding down full-time day jobs. Multitasker Bentley is a criminal defence lawyer, runs a vintage frock shop with her husband, and is also a consultant for premium skincare and cosmetic range Arbonne. Meanwhile, Marsden is an art textiles teacher, as well as a milliner.

Her headwear is sold in two upmarket boutiques in Liverpool, she has had her hats featured in Vogue and was involved in this year's Comic Relief campaign, alongside Vivienne Westwood. Fans include doyenne designer Zandra Rhodes.


Cambridge graduate Birshan is director of strategy at Mothercare. Formerly an engagement manager at McKinsey and a policy analyst at No. 10 under Tony Blair, she joined the retailer, which turns over �790m a year, early in 2010. She also runs customer relationship teams for its Early Learning Centre and Gurgle brands.


Burston's wizard wheeze, Carbon Retirement, is an attempt to make the knotty challenge of carbon offsetting more effective, by buying up carbon credits to remove them from the EU trading scheme. Fans include Richard Ellis, head of CSR at Boots, and Joseph Romm, environmental adviser to Bill Clinton when he was president.


Le was an eye surgeon before she began her business, Zoobug, producing safe sunglasses for children in 2006. The idea came to her when she couldn't find a pair of shades for her niece which were both safe and (crucially) cool. The company has come a long way since then: Le's glasses are now distributed in more than 21 countries and she is busy working on a line of Olympics-themed eyewear in time for 2012.


Every girl knows the problem of finding the perfect frock. But with her business, Girl Meets Dress, Bance, formerly a PR manager at fashion house Temperley who once dressed Kate Winslet and Natalie Imbruglia, has found the solution. Instead of spending hard-earned cash on designer gear, rent it for a fraction of the price. Since the company was launched in 2009, it has gained legions of fans - not least style bible Vogue, which called it 'the answer to all your prayers'.


New Zealand-born paediatrician Hersov founded Medikidz with Dr Kim Chilman-Blair in 2009. Their aim? To educate children about a wide range of medical conditions, from ADHD to scoliosis. Since its launch, presided over by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Medikidz has published 40 themed comic book titles, distributed one million copies worldwide, grown to a staff of 25 and counts corporate giants including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and GE Healthcare among its partners.


With degrees from Cambridge University and Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, Di Marco is a specialist registrar in general surgery at Imperial College and is on the leading edge of robotic surgery. Di Marco received the best clinical care award at St Mary's & Imperial College in 2009. She is also medical officer for All Stars Boxing Gym.


After training as a commercial lawyer, Campion decided she'd prefer to work in the civil service. She is now head of the newly established Office of the Sentencing Council. She lists a spell at SOCA and a stint in Syria as a human rights lawyer on her CV. In her current role she'll be leading the drive for more consistent sentencing in the UK.


As senior advertising manager for Sainsbury's, Dunn controls a significant chunk of a marketing budget which runs into tens of millions, and is responsible for managing the relationship with Jamie Oliver. The Lancaster University graduate has worked her way up through the ranks at Sainsbury's - she started on the check-outs, aged 16.


A former investment banker at JP Morgan, where she spent seven years in the corporate finance team, FitzGerald began working for media conglomerate DMGT in 2007 and was promoted to group director of strategy development in 2009. A competitor through and through, she also takes part in triathlons, windsurfing and horse-riding.


Aerobics enthusiast Gait-Golding is an evangelist for healthy living. Thus, her company, Bear, makes wholesome snacks with 'no added nonsense'. Bear, launched in 2009, now has a turnover of �3.5m and its products are stocked in Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and the Co-op. She runs Bear with her husband, a former professional cricketer.


As the first female (and youngest) CEO at the Town and Country Planning Association, Henderson plays a leading role in shaping British planning policy around social justice and environmental demands. She has a masters in environmental technology from Imperial and a first class degree in geology from UCL.


German-speaking Gilmartin joined eBay UK in 2003 and has since worked her way up to become vice-president of marketplaces, Europe. Gilmartin is responsible for a team of 250, which supports eBay Europe's 50 million European buyers and 500,000 registered businesses. In her spare time, the mother of two is also a keen marathon runner.


The jewellery designer is based in London but her inspiration comes from growing up in Suffolk. Hutchings honed her skills at the prestigious Erickson Beamon studio, before creating her own high-end jewellery range, which is now endorsed by Swarovski and stocked in Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Fans include Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga and Cheryl Cole.


After quitting Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis, Gonzalez-Bunster set up the Walkabout Foundation. Inspired by her paralysed brother, the charity donates wheelchairs to the disabled in developing countries. She has supporters in high places: her 35 Under 35 entry included a recommendation from Bill Clinton.


Australian-born Harris was a founder of Nude skincare. Despite offering fewer than 20 products, Nude generates $2m to $4m in revenues annually, retails in 200 locations in the UK, US and Australia and was sold to LVMH early this year. She is now working on a men's skincare line, due to launch in New York next year.


Previously an M&A lawyer at Clifford Chance, Patel recently rose to the heights of assistant general counsel at KPMG. She has advised blue-chip companies including ABN, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Accenture and will continue to work on multimillion pound M&As at KPMG. The UCL graduate has been recognised by Financial News and the Sunday Times as a rising star.


When Moger became MD of the family printing business Richard Edward in 2002, it was at crisis point, with �2.2m of debt and client attrition rates at an all-time high. After a strategy overhaul led by Moger, the company has paid off most of its debts and now turns over �5.3m a year. She has two daughters and also runs her own consultancy business.


After Oxford and Harvard Business School, McGowan is customer strategy director for BSkyB, which reaches more than 10 million homes. She also runs partnership businesses that deliver tens of millions in annual revenues to the broadcaster. A mother of two, her third is on the way this summer.


After taking a double first in history at Oxford in 2005, Niven joined Goldman Sachs, becoming an investment analyst. Four years later she left to help set up Majedie Investments-backed Javelin Capital, a hedge fund with assets of �157m, where she's the portfolio manager in charge of almost half of returns. Last year, she completed an Ironman triathlon.


Popa launched Bordelle in 2007, an underwear range inspired by S&M. Her big break came when a substantial order was placed for Britney Spears' Circus Tour. Selfridges followed and within a day of her couture girdles hitting the shop floor they sold out. Popa and her creative partner now sell to over 30 countries and Lady Gaga and Rihanna are fans.


Roberts is proof that you don't need a degree to be a successful professional.

Starting as a trainee accountant after A-Levels, 12 years later she's a director at Deloitte, giving tax advice to the world's super rich. Roberts has helped her branch of the firm grow by 15% in the past year. When not burying her head in tax returns she enjoys sailing and scuba diving.


With a degree in statistics from UCL, Lemos made short work of the career ladder, becoming director of financial trading at Dresdner Kleinwort aged 27. Now executive director, financials trading desk at Nomura, Lemos provides market commentary and valuation and credit quality advice to institutions and hedge funds around the world.


Lam joined engineering and consultancy firm Arup in 2007 and specialises in climate change, sustainability and low-carbon issues. Fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, she is advising the Vietnamese government on managing its carbon footprint. Lam contributed to a report for the World Economic Forum presented at Davos this year.


A winning combination of third sector vision and private sector savvy, Livingstone made her name running financial sector children's charity the Private Equity Foundation. She is now CEO of City Year London, a full-time volunteering programme for 18-25 year olds communities across London, and joined President Obama's entourage during his recent London visit.


In 2008, McCarthy co-founded Audacity, a communications agency which counts BT, Malibu and Unilever as clients. It now has billings of over �25m. McCarthy has worked in the industry for 12 years, and spent five years running a nightclub in Brixton. She lives in Clapham with her Mulberry handbag collection and husband Enda.


McCaughey has been at the forefront of climate change law and low-carbon energy investment for the past 10 years. As well as being the commercial lead on the project financing for one of the largest windfarms in Europe, she also is the commercial head in a �2.3bn low-carbon power joint-venture with EDF, with eight existing nuclear power plants and plans to build four new reactors. Her first child was born last year.


With a �22m budget and a team of 66, Pumfrey is the programme director of Digital UK, the organisation set up by broadcasters to make the potentially controversial switch from analogue to digital TV as pain-free as possible. Pumfrey is also a keen athlete, competing in half-marathons and triathlons.


A media lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, privacy is Woollcott's speciality - so it's no surprise that she's acting for some of the claimants in the phone hacking saga. The Cambridge graduate also advises on reputation management and complaints to the PCC. She is in charge of the firm's sponsorship of the Pink Law advice service for the LBGT community.


Having graduated with a first class degree in engineering from Cambridge, Taylor is the second Arup star on this year's list. She is an expert adviser on low-energy building alternatives. Notable projects include finding low-carbon solutions for the Maltese parliament building and for museums in Boston and Texas.


After Trinity College Dublin, Irish-born Zarraga became one of the legal world's rising stars: she's just been made a partner at Magic Circle law firm Linklaters. High-profile clients include Lehman Brothers' administrators, for which she acted on a proposal to distribute $35bn of assets to creditors. She also handled Dixons' �310m rights issue in 2009.


As head of market strategy at Citi Global Transaction Services, EMEA, Wandhofer is highly influential in the arcane but important business of regulating the payment systems of European banks. She sits on a number of boards giving advice and recently published a book on payments integration in the EU. She speaks five languages.


Rafalat founded Zuneta, described by Vogue as the 'net-a-porter of beauty', in 2008. The online beauty retailer already has 30,000 customers, 50% of whom are outside the UK, with huge demand in the US, Germany, Australia and China.

Pre-Zuneta, Rafalat was an international brand development director for L'Oreal. She speaks French, Polish and Russian.

For the full article visit their website.


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Hillary Clinton Parody Porn ? Civil Service

Filed under: Sammie Spades, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Vivid Entertainment, Photo Galleries

TMZ has obtained photos from the set of the upcoming Hillary Clinton parody porn -- and let's just say these pics seem more like stuff we imagine goes on in Bill Clinton's office (Read more...)

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Ashley Tisdale's Beach Birthday Bash with Zac Efron!

As she was busy ringing in her 26th birthday, Ashley Tisdale got quite the welcome surprise when former "High School Musical" co-star Zac Efron turned up for the festivities.

The bikini clad Sharpay Evans actress was having a ball as she romped around the beaches of Malibu on Saturday (July 2), with the birthday celebration being topped off when Efron arrived and gave her a piggyback ride down to the water and then back up to the beach abode.

Clearly elated about Zac's presence, Tizzie happily tweeted, "So happy zacary made it to my party!!! He's my brother/best friend!!!"

Miss Tisdale also thanked her many fans for their well-wishes on her special day, as she wrote, "Thanks to all the fans for ur amazing birthday wishes!!! U r the best! I love you! I am so grateful 4 u all."


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The Situation Settles Feud with Mr. The Situation

A simmering feud between Situations has been settled.

Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino filed papers today to dismiss a lawsuit he had set in motion against his dad, Frank. Son had been angry that father had been blasting him the press and attempting to profit off his (hilarious) name.

Close-Up of The Sitch

Frank has promised to avoid the same mistakes in the future, but he also places most of the blame on Robert Fletcher, a publishing agent who Frank claims was behind this video.

Frank has taken down his anti-Situation website and writes in court documents: "I regret getting involved with Robert Fletcher and I am sorry that I participated, to the detriment of my son Michael."

Fletcher actually paid Mike $5,000 as part of this settlement. What a ridiculous... sorry, but it's true... situation.



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First Look: The Hobbit's Bilbo and Gandalf

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Google, Microsoft And Yahoo Fight To Buy Hulu

Google is just the latest company to throw their hat in the Hulu ring.

Along with Microsoft and Yahoo, Google has been added to the list of potential buyers interested in purchasing Hulu, which is currently co-owned by Disney, News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners.

If bidders go high enough, analysts say that Hulu could receive about $2 billion-$3 billion in the deal.

Whoa. That's some major dough. If Google takes over Hulu, we wonder how that will affect their deal with YouTube??

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MTV is set premiere Beyonc�?s half-hour television special entitled ?Beyonc�: Year of 4.? The special is premiering on Thursday, June 30th at 7pm EST and takes viewers on a journey through the artistic process of her latest album, 4. Here … Continue


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MTV is set premiere Beyonc�?s half-hour television special entitled ?Beyonc�: Year of 4.? The special is premiering on Thursday, June 30th at 7pm EST and takes viewers on a journey through the artistic process of her latest album, 4. Here … Continue


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Jen Aniston at 'Horrible Bosses' Premiere: 'I'm Beyond Thrilled'


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Essence Music Festival kicks off

NEW ORLEANS --- From harmonious Boyz at the beginning to heavenly Jennifer Hudson in prime time to hot and heavy Usher in the midnight hour, the 17th Essence Music Festival rocked the Super Dome with six decades worth of prime R&B and urban pop. Friday night's kick-off to the three-day run drew a dressed-to-the-nines crowd that paid as much as $125 to hear 15 acts in four intimate "super lounges'' and on the vast main stage. Gospel- and soul-inflected sounds from the 1960s, via Irma Thomas and Mavis Staples, mingled with the tough contemporary R&B of Fantasia, the older-school approach of Charlie Wilson and the hard-edge funk of the local Soul Rebels Brass Band. USA TODAY's Jerry Shriver surveyed the scene from the steamy Big Easy.

  • Usher performs at the 2011 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

    Gerald Herbert, AP

    Usher performs at the 2011 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

Gerald Herbert, AP

Usher performs at the 2011 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

Sweet start: Opening the festival in the 6:45 p.m. main stage slot is a daunting task - the Super Dome is vast, the crowds are slow to arrive, and when they do they're picky. But Boyz II Men gamely met the challenge and thrilled their loyalists with an upbeat greatest-hits set. The trio, with two decades of their career and some 60 million in album sales behind them, are dressing middle-aged these days -- gray sweater vest over a tie and white shirt - but their vocal harmonizing still sounded relatively youthful on hits such as On Bended Knee, I'll Make Love To You and A Song for Mama. At one point, Wanya Morris commented that "there must be some Boyz II Men babies in the house,'' noting that while they were recording two decades ago, future parents were otherwise occupied. A wistful End of the Road drove home the point.

Hard charger: American Idol season three winner Fantasia will portray New Orleans' famed gospel pioneer Mahalia Jackson in a biopic later this year, but for her dynamic set she seemed to draw her inspiration more from Tina Turner and James Brown. Hers is not the prettiest of voices, and she's not an all-star dancer. But she projects strength, fierce energy and confidence as she drives home her songs. And she knows how to vary the pace to keep an audience's attention: Upbeat opening number It's All Good gave way to the old-school sounding recent single Collard Greens and Cornbread, and they were followed by a sexy take on Prince's Kiss and an intense, if truncated, version of Bob Marley's No Woman, No Cry. Her empowerment-themed I'm Doin' Me won the biggest ovation.

Soft engagement: Curiously, Jennifer Hudson, who appears to possess the most innate talent of any performer on the bill, had the most difficulty holding the audience's attention. Her voice is a thing of beauty, and she used it to fine effect on numbers such as Where You At? and Angel. But she sang against a neutral-colored curtain, her dancers wore mostly black and white outfits as they flitted in and out, a Weight Watchers plug seemed slightly out of place, and the progression of songs lacked cohesion. Given the lack of production values (especially compared to the Charlie Wilson and Usher extravaganzas that immediately followed), it took all Hudson had to hold the stage. A duet with fellow American Idol alum George Huff on the Jackson 5's I'll Be There and a poignant reading of her own I Remember Me helped immeasurably.

Good-time Charlie: For the third year in a row, former Gap Band leader Charlie Wilson showed that he is perhaps the best true song-and-dance man in R&B today. He may be a 58-year-old recovering crack addict and prostate cancer survivor, but when he half squats with his hands on his knees and does the slow grind with a wicked grin under his pastel-colored hat, hearts tend to melt. His shows are true productions: the energy never lags, the music hardly ever stops, the dancers move with precision and purpose and Charlie projects non-stop cool and satisfaction. Jazz-tinged funk and non-stop party jams like There Goes My Baby, You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Party Train and Charlie, Last Name Wilson kept the crowd on its feet throughout.

Space man: Usher played a well-received show in the city about six months ago but that didn't stop him from reprising many of the sci-fi trappings for the Essence crowd, many of whom come from outside the region. So jaws dropped once again as black curtains dropped from around an area in the center of the Super Dome, smoke billowed and Usher ascended on a crane-driven platform that bore him at least 25 feet above the crowd and slowly delivered him to the stage. Once that stunt was accomplished (he repeated it toward the end of the show during Burn) the sexy, silky singer treated the crowd to a feverish, stylish performance that mixed sci-fi imagery, upscale urban dreamscapes, smart choreography, and edgy but not raunchy sexual fantasies. His shirt came off at the end of Confessions Part II, but only briefly; at other times the wardrobe borrowed from Michael Jackson, Stanley Kowalski, Barry White and those guys in GQ every month. Though the backing music was bombastic at times, Usher's agile vocals held their own on burners such Love in This Club, Lil Freak, U Got It Bad and There Goes My Baby. And in a touching and novel gesture, he didn't sing during his tribute to Michael Jackson, who died two years ago on the eve of Essence. Instead, Usher showcased brilliant dance moves as the band played instrumental versions of Wanna Be Startin' Something, Rock with You and Billie Jean.

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New Jersey Anti-Union Bill Paves Way For Employee Benefit Cuts In Other States

TRENTON, N.J. -- The nation's financial downturn left many states in such a precarious position that they were forced this year to make tough decisions on expensive but long-untouchable public employee benefits.

Nowhere was this breakthrough more evident than in union-friendly New Jersey, where a Republican governor aided by Democrats enacted sweeping cost-saving changes that touched pensions and health care simultaneously.

Experts say the overhaul is not only significant in scope, but also marks a pivotal moment as other states look to defuse the ticking time-bomb employee benefit obligations have become as a result of the recession, government benefits becoming more generous than those in the private sector, and poor planning by politicians.

With one bill, New Jersey increased required pension contributions, increased the amount workers will pay for health benefits, raised the retirement age, and eliminated automatic cost-of-living increases for current retirees among other things.

The ideas aren't new, experts said, but New Jersey's success in adopting a comprehensive solution rather than taking a piecemeal approach is noteworthy.

"What New Jersey has done is farther-reaching versions of the reforms done all around the country, but all together at once," said Joshua Rauh, an associate professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

All 50 states have combined unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations that top $1 trillion, according to an Associated Press examination of state balance sheets.

Five states have unfunded public employee pension liabilities of $50 billion or more, and a recent study by the Pew Center for the States found that only 5 percent of states saved toward their obligations for retiree health care benefits.

"The bigger the annual (obligation) bill is for states, the more pressure it puts on them to not spend money on things like education or public safety," said Sue Urahn, the managing director for Pew.

Although New Jersey's powerful public employee unions did not go down without a fight, Republican Gov. Chris Christie and his and Democratic allies in the Legislature managed to circumvent collective bargaining without the turmoil that occurred in several other states ? most notably Wisconsin.

Unlike Wisconsin though, New Jersey suspended ? not eliminated ? collective bargaining on health care for four years. And New Jersey had a much larger pension and health benefits problem to solve.

With underfunded retirement systems short of eventual liabilities by a combined $110 billion, New Jersey's retiree obligations are among the biggest in the country and are growing. Some studies estimated the pension fund in the New Jersey, the nation's most densely populated state, would go broke within the decade.

"There is nothing like the absence of cash to focus one mind's on change," said former New York lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch, who along with other government officials will serve on a new task force to look into states' current money problems and the extent of their debt.

Illinois and California are also in dire straits with each owing more than $100 billion in promises to state and local public workers. Wisconsin, where public protests raged on for days over the GOP-led elimination of collective bargaining rights, falls in the middle of all states in terms of retiree obligations.

While bigger states have bigger debt obligations, smaller Northeastern states ? with more prevalent unions than out West ? fared worse in terms of the percentage they have set aside for retirement funds. As in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Maryland all have pension systems that are underfunded by at least a third, according the Pew Center.

An examination of health care debt reveals an even worse financial picture.

Nineteen states haven't set aside any money toward their health care funds, instead dealing with benefits that far exceed those in the private sector on a pay-as-you-go basis for expenses incurred by current retirees, Pew found.

In 2009, 14 states offered free health benefits to some or all individual state employees, and half as many states also paid for family plans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

What is even more notable than the scope of New Jersey's change to employee benefits, is that normally union-backing Democrats ? albeit only a handful ? helped to pass it. Those who supported it said the state could not wait any longer.

"Unions at the local levels were unwilling to give up any concessions at all," said New Jersey's Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. "I think at some point you have to put politics aside and solve the problem."

Union officials say politicians have been effective at deflecting blame for years of irresponsible behavior, such as skipping pension payments and borrowing against investments in flush years, by using the economic downturn to portray public workers as the problem.

"They flipped the tables to say `Look at these individuals who have these plans that you don't enjoy anymore and you're paying for it,'" said Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents 300,000 career firefighters in North America.

"They use those debt figures to whip up public fear because people aren't paying attention to what politicians are doing," added Bob Master, the political director for the Communications Workers of America's Northeast region.

Master said that increasing health premiums for current state workers will do nothing to shore up the liability for existing retiree obligations.

Michigan tried to address its health care obligation by making teachers and state workers start paying 3 percent of their pay toward retiree health costs last year under Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Public sector unions sued and the payments are tied up in court because judges have so far ruled that employees can't be forced to pay for retirement benefits they may never get.

New Jersey unions also plan to sue over the elimination of cost-of-living increases, called COLAs, for current retirees.

Colorado, Minnesota, and South Dakota have all tried to reduce COLAs only to face ongoing lawsuits. A few other states have managed suspend them for a year, but no state has been successful in eliminating them totally.

Getting rid of the annual increases achieves a large and immediate savings.

In separate district court rulings on Wednesday, judges in Colorado and Minnesota upheld the reduced COLAs ? a good signal for New Jersey, which allows for them to be reinstated once the pension account becomes 80 percent funded.

"COLAs needed to be addressed head-on ... it's a big cost savings," said Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "It attacks the notion that pensions cannot be changed for existing employees."

But Munnell said the New Jersey legislation was also sweeping for what it gave to unions: the power to sue if the state should once again skip an annual pension payment ? a move intended to ensure that the state doesn't get itself back into trouble when the economy improves.


Associated Press writers Rik Stevens in Albany, N.Y., Ann Sanner in Columbus, Ohio, Judy Lin in Sacramento, Calif., Kathy Hoffman in Lansing, Mich., and Roger Schneider in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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GUESS WHO was spotted arriving with a bunch of luggage at Heathrow airport in London early Thursday? It’s Janet Jackson! arrives at Heathrow Airport in London, accompanied by a lot of baggage. She is due to perform at London’s prestigious … Continue


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Tinchy Stryder likes natural girls

02 July 2011

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Tinchy Stryder prefers women who look ''natural'' and is not a fan of surgically-enhanced breasts.

Tinchy Stryder prefers "natural" breasts.

The 'Starship' singer finds women who have done nothing to alter their appearance more attractive, though admits he doesn't know if he can tell the difference between surgically-enhanced busts and natural assets.

He said: "I like natural [breasts], unless I've come across fake and just don't know it. I like everything natural. It's the best way.

I like girls without make-up. When I first met Beyonce, she had no make-up and she looked amazing. She looked even better in person. I couldn't believe it, but she did.

"I like girls without make-up. When I first met Beyonce, she had no make-up and she looked amazing. She looked even better in person. I couldn't believe it, but she did."

While he is currently single, Tinchy says he is "in love" with Cheryl Cole and is also a fan of Rihanna.

He told more! magazine: "I'm in love with Cheryl Cole. I've met her and she was so down-to-earth.

"Jessie J is cool, but I like Rihanna and Beyonce. Nothing about Rihanna scares me. I like her attitude. She does what she feels and I respect that."

Buy Tinchy Stryder Music
  • In My System


  • Cloud 9: The Ep


  • Microphone Champion


  • You're Not Alone



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Celebrity smokers revealed

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James Franco Collaborates With Electronic Musicians Kalup Linzy And DJ /rupture For 'Rising'

The chorus of James Franco's new musical collaboration (!) must resonate for the 33-year-old actor, whose media domination comes immediately to mind with the repeated line, "I'll keep on rising."

The song, "Rising," created in collaboration with performance artist and R&B crooner Kalup Linzy and veteran DJ/producer DJ /rupture, is the first in a series for the new duo, Kalup & Franco. The extent of Franco's contributions to the track is still unclear, and the actor appears briefly as a ghostly, floating head in the video, which is dominated by Linzy's suggestive green-screen mugging.

And it all feels somehow appropriate. The actor has spent the last couple of years floating around through the news like a disembodied head, becoming a PhD candidate, General Hospital star, performance artist and Oscars host.

Hovering over each new career move is our collective memory of the old James Franco, the actor most of us would never have pegged as such a versatile performer five years ago, and the shock that each new eccentricity seems to bring him a new triumph. Will his burgeoning music career take off? Probably not. But does that mean it's not still a triumph? Of course not.

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LC Hits The Nightclubs After Breakup!

According to our sources, Lauren Conrad decided to go out last night with bestie Lo Bosworth for a long overdue girls night out!

The blonde bombshell reality stars hit up LA hotspot The Beverly! Nice!

Newly single, the designer/writer danced and sipped the night away with Miss Lo while catching the eyes of many male admirers all throughout the night.

Other celebrities seen in VIP included the oozing sexpot Robin Thicke, HBO's How To Make It In America star Bryan Greenberg, Desperate Housewives star Jesse Metcalf, among others.

As pictured above, she exits the nightclub with no love for the cameras (probs tired from all that fun).

We're happy for Lauren, but next time we'd love to see just how jubilant she is.

Smile for us, LC! We want to see you glow, gurl! We're sure the fellas do too!

[Image via Pacific Coast News.]

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Singer Kelly Rowland is pictured heading to the X Factor auditions on Wednesday (June 29) in Cardiff, UK. She looks great in these pictures!! Her upcoming album, Here I Am, is slated to hit stores on July 26th. She needs … Continue


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Friday, July 1, 2011

LAPD contract expected

The City Council is expected today to approve a three-year contract with Los Angeles police officers that officials expect will save the city $300 million over three years and hope will serve as a model for a labor agreement with firefighters.

The pact includes no salary increases for the fiscal year that begins Friday, July 1; a 1 percent bump on July 1, 2012; a 2 percent jump on Jan. 1, 2013, followed by 1 percent increases on July 1 and Nov. 1, 2013; and a 2 percent increase on March 1, 2014.

In addition, overtime will be capped at 800 hours, although officers will have to take compensatory time off once they get to 600 hours.

Rank-and-file officers also will have the choice of contributing more toward their health care plan or having the city's contribution frozen at a fixed amount each month.

"It will be interesting to see what the officers decide," City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said. "We would expect younger officers to opt for the frozen rate, but we'll see."

Santana said earlier this week that concessions by police officers will save the city $116 million in fiscal 2011-12, $102 million in 2012-13 and $98 million in 2013-14.

Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the proposed contract is the result of compromises made by

both the union and the city.

"As in any contract negotiation, neither side got everything that it wanted," Weber said. "However, we believe this contract is fair, but it reflects the current budget issues faced by the city."

The officers' union approved the deal by an overwhelming margin, according to those familiar with the talks.

Meanwhile, negotiations continue with United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. If the city offers a similar contract, UFLAC President Pat McOsker said he believes it will be approved.

"We are always usually pretty close to the LAPD and I think our guys would approve that," McOsker said.

Santana, who is returning from a trip to meet with the city's lenders, said the agreements are important in cutting the city's structural deficit.

"We are in much better shape now than we thought we would be in two years ago," Santana said. "At that time we were looking at a $500 million problem. Now it's about $200 million. That's a major cut."


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1025 Advance Screening of A Better Life

Download your own tickets to the 1025 Screening of A Better Life July 5th! Tower Theatre Sacramento, CA 95818 Jul 5, 2011 7:30 pm USE CODE: KSFMETNT


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Charlize Theron Reasserts Her Support Of Same-Sex Marriage On Piers Morgan

This just makes us love her even more than we already did...if that's even possible!

Charlize Theron recently sat down with Piers Morgan for an interview on CNN, and while discussing her hesitency to get married, she also clarified that it's a personal preference for her, and confirms that if she ever were to, it would only be after homosexuals are allowed the same right in ALL of the American states!

Check out the full interview (above)! It's DEFINITELY worth it!

God, she is just too badass, well spoken, and thoughtful!

She makes such good points, but also is insightful enough to value the opinions of others and not shut them down!

Such an inspiration! We think a lot of people could learn from her!

Keep it coming, gurl!

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March of Dimes 300

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Ashley Olsen: All Black in NYC

Stepping out for the day ahead, Ashley Olsen was spotted leaving her current New York City digs on Friday morning (July 1).

The ?Full House? star donned an all-black ensemble as she quickly walked from her building to an awaiting chauffeured vehicle while the on-hand photogs snapped a few photos.

It?s an exciting day for Ashley and her twin sister Mary-Kate as their new line of T-shirts launched on StyleMint.

Of the exciting venture, Ms Olsen told press, "There's nothing better than a simple, chic and versatile T. When it's done right, you just know. That's what we do at StyleMint."


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Geri Halliwell: Bikini Babe in Sardinia

Taking some time off from her busy schedule, Geri Halliwell was spotted on holiday in Sardinia, Italy today (July 1).

The former Spice Girl was joined by her boyfriend Henry Beckwith as she soaked up the sun and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

Speaking of scenery, Geri gave beachgoers plenty to look at in her skimpy two-piece swimsuit as she frolicked with her man.

Last month, Halliwell showed off her rock-hard body on the beach in France in a wild leopard print ensemble.


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Chelsy Davy snapped with mystery man - on the same day Prince Harry's new girlfriend is revealed

Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy appear to have moved on

Chelsy Davy | Pictures | Photos | Celebrity News

Chelsy Davy heads to the tennis at Wimbledon

Chelsy Davy took a trip to watch the tennis at Wimbledon yesterday - accompanied by a dapper dark-haired mystery man.

As her ex-boyfriend Prince Harry, 26, was hitting the headlines after hooking up with lingerie model Florence Brudenell-Bruce, Chelsy looked more than happy with her company for the day.

The Zimbabwe-born blonde wore a cute black and white dress and matching wedges as she strolled around the London lawn tennis club with a drink of Pimms in hand.

She then took her suited male friend to watch Andy Murray beat Feliciano Lopez on Centre Court.�

Chelsy, 25, was Harry's plus one to Kate Middleton and Prince William's Royal wedding in April, but things have gone cold between the pair since.

She even went on a party holiday to Ibiza last month and was telling pals she was 'young, free and single'.

Chelsy Davy | Pictures | Photos | Celebrity NewsPrince Harry and Chelsy Davy | Love Story | Pictures | Photos | New | Now Magazine

NEW PICTURES Royal Wedding crowd celebrate Kate Middleton and Prince William's big day>>

ROYAL WEDDING GALLERY See the guests arrive for Prince William and Kate Middleton's special day>>

NEW PICTURES Kate Middleton wears elegant lace Sarah Burton dress for her wedding to Prince William>>

NEW PICTURES Kate Middleton and Prince William are married at last>>

NEW PICTURES Kate Middleton and family arrive at London hotel ahead of Royal Wedding to Prince William>>

NEW PICTURES Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Lancashire before the Royal Wedding>>

MORE PICTURES Amazing facts about Kate Middleton - Prince William's wedding belle>>

NEW PICTURES Prince William revealed! Amazing facts about Kate Middleton's man>>

SEE PICTURES Kate Middleton and Prince William: Their love story in photos>>

PHOTO GALLERY Kate Middleton watches Prince William play polo>>

PICTURE SPECIAL Kate Middleton and Prince William appear together at first public engagement>>

NEW PICTURES Kate Middleton and Prince William attend wedding>>

PHOTO GALLERY Kate Middleton gets into Christmas spirit at charity do>>

See more about Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry and the Royal Wedding in Now magazine dated 9 May and the Now Royal Romance Special - out now!

Now cover 9 May 2011Now Royal Romance May/June 2011

Esme Riley


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Which Peter Frampton songs are his faves?

By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY

Every fan of Peter Frampton's epic 1976 album Frampton Comes Alive! has a favorite song, whether it's talk-box-filled tune Do You Feel Like We Do or sunny singalong Show Me the Way.

  • "I want to thank you": Peter Frampton is on a 35th anniversary 'Comes Alive!' tour through November.

    By H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

    "I want to thank you": Peter Frampton is on a 35th anniversary 'Comes Alive!' tour through November.

By H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

"I want to thank you": Peter Frampton is on a 35th anniversary 'Comes Alive!' tour through November.

So which songs does the man himself prefer?

"It's got to be Lines on My Face, Doobie Wah and I Wanna Go to the Sun," says Frampton, who is on tour performing the album in its entirety in the USA and in Europe through Nov. 23.

"Lines is just the favorite song I ever wrote," says Frampton. "And Doobie Wah I am playing for the first time in 35 years, and it is just so much fun."

But it's Sun that amounts to a musician's dream of stardom.

"I wrote it when I was 22 or 23," he says. "I was saying, 'I want to make it.'"

Once Comes Alive! came out, Frampton went from "two fans waiting backstage to people throwing themselves at the car like flies." But his greatest point of pride isn't the album that captured a nation's heart during the Bicentennial year.

"What means the most to me is the critical acclaim I got as a guitar player on Fingerprints," he says. "It was my first huge success that had nothing to do with Frampton Comes Alive!"

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