Minggu, 12 Februari 2012

Whitney Houston's death overshadows Grammys

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With the death of Whitney Houston just hours earlier, it's hard to focus on the matter of crowning the best in recorded music — but Sunday night's Grammy Awards are going to try.

Music's biggest night was rocked on the eve of the event with news that the 48-year-old pop legend was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was preparing to attend a pre-Grammy party.

Speculation over this year's Grammy favorites seemed secondary in the wake of her death. Still, the show will go on, with a musical tribute to Houston by one of her biggest fans, Jennifer Hudson.

Before the death of one of pop music's most important figures, the Grammy buzz focused on whether Adele — 2011's top-selling artist and set to make her first public performance on the show since having vocal cord surgery — would be the queen of the Grammys. Although Kanye West leads all nominees with seven and Bruno Mars and the Foo Fighters tied Adele with six nominations, she was favored to sweep all of her categories.

But as show time neared, the focus remained on Houston's death.

Arab League backsSyria opposition, calls for peacekeepers

 CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League threw its support on Sunday firmly behind the opposition mounting an uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and called for the U.N. Security Council to send peacekeepers to halt bloodshed.

A resolution approved by Arab League ministers meeting in Cairo called for "opening communication channels with the Syrian opposition and providing all forms of political and material support to it." It also urged the Syrian opposition to unite.

The resolution solidifies Assad's ostracism among his Arab neighbors and will add to diplomatic pressure on Russia and China, which vetoed U.N. action on Syria on February 4, to lift their objections and allow the world body to act.

It said violence against civilians in Syria had violated international law and that perpetrators deserved punishment. It scrapped an Arab League monitoring mission.

The resolution did not make clear whether the proposed joint U.N.-Arab peacekeeping force would involve armed troops, as in previous U.N. missions.

Sabtu, 11 Februari 2012

Mitt Romney wins narrow victory over Ron Paul in Maine’s Republican caucuses

Mitt Romney scored a narrow victory over Ron Paul in Maine's Republican presidential caucuses Saturday, avoiding an embarrassing setback in his bid for the GOP nomination. Romney received 39 percent of the vote to Paul's 36 percent.

Rick Santorum finished third, with 18 percent, and Newt Gingrich finished fourth, with 6 percent.

Maine's 24 delegates are not allocated by the results of the caucuses, but Romney and Paul stepped up their efforts to win the state in recent days, trying to score an important symbolic victory. For Romney, who won the state easily--with 52 percent of the vote--in 2008, a win in Maine could help him rebound from Tuesday's three-state loss to Rick Santorum.

Turnout was low: Only 2,290 people voted for Romney, 1,996 voted for Paul, 989 voted for Santorum, and 349 voted for Gingrich.

George’s letter to be read despite Obama’s ‘compromise’ on birth control

Local Catholics attending Mass on Sunday will still hear Cardinal Francis George take issue with President Barack Obama’s controversial birth-control insurance coverage policy despite the president’s “compromise.”

The letter from George to be read at all Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago is dated Feb. 5.

But it has not been updated even after the president on Friday backed down from his stance asking all employers including organizations tied to religious groups to pay for insurance plans that included free birth control coverage.

The archdiocese on Saturday said George asked late Friday to make sure parishes and pastors read the same letter, with no changes.

Keeping it Legal

Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association: Illegal Villa and Hotels Blamed for Unfair Price Competition in Bali

Price wars among villa and hotel operators in Bali – evident even during the high season – is prompting the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) to try to intervene to stop potentially destructive price competition.

The executive director of PHRI-Bali, Ida Bagus Purwa Sideman, was quoted by Bisnis Bali, on February 7, 2012, as blaming unhealthy price competition on unlicensed hotels and villas, seen as the driving force behind price-cutting practices.

PHRI-Bali is increasing its efforts to persuade unlicensed hotels and villas to make their operations legal as the first step in toning down the current price war.

He described the many problems encountered by hotel and villa operators in their efforts to obtain permits and licenses. Villa and hotel operators who have building permits for their structures often discover later during the permit process that their area is not zoned for commercial accommodation operations. Due to permit problems, many unlicensed villas are unable to join the Bali Villa Association (BVA), which is a part of the PHRI.

He said the unhealthy price competition is most prevalent in the villa sector.

Sideman blamed the increasing number of unlicensed hotels and villas as fueling the price war that has become a chief concern of PHRI members. The PHRI executive said those involved in the operation of illegal accommodation enterprises and price undercutting are failing to take a long-term view of what’s good for Bali.

Taking a cynical view of the illegal sub-sector of Bali’s tourism economy, Sideman postulated that the shortsighted villa operators would probably move to other locations in 10-20 year’s time.

Seeking profit only on a day-to-day basis, Sideman said the large number of unlicensed accommodation providers are undermining local hotel operators.

In seeking to encourage illegal operators to become licensed hotels and villas, PHRI hopes to persuade operators to adopt a more long-term business approach, eliminating the unprincipled motivations that are the foundation of price wars.

Australian reporter, US student held in Egypt: security

CAIRO — Egyptian police arrested on Saturday an Australian journalist, an American student and their Egyptian translator on suspicion of paying Egyptians to stage protests against the authorities, a security official said.

Freelance reporter Austin Mackell, American student Derek Ludovici and translator Aliya Alwi were detained in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla on the same day activists held student strikes to mark the first anniversary of president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.

General Mostafa Baz, police chief of the northern Gharbiya province, told reporters the three were suspected of having coordinated over the Internet to meet in Mahalla, which has a history of labour strikes, to "incite people to protest."

A security official said people in Mahalla had complained to police that all three were paying people to protest. The authorities have in the past blamed foreigners for plotting unrest.

Alwi said on her Twitter account that they were being charged with inciting protests and vandalism.

"Witnesses have been produced to confirm it," she wrote. "Report against us, filed now. Many witnesses saw us 'offering money to youth to vandalise and cause chaos.'"

Effect of Technology

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