The NewsFuror

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Limp Bizkit star avoids jail term

Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst has been given a suspended 120-day jail sentence after he allegedly hit two people with his car on purpose.

Durst, 37, pleaded no contest to seven charges, including assault, battery and reckless driving, at a court hearing in Los Angeles last month.

He was also ordered to perform 20 hours of community service and fined $1,500 (£750), according to court documents.

The incident took place in Los Angeles during October last year.

Restraining order

Misdemeanour charges filed in January included two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of battery, one count of making a criminal threat and one count of reckless driving.

Durst, who entered the no contest plea on 16 August, was slapped with a restraining order saying he cannot "annoy, harass, strike, threaten or otherwise disturb the peace" of the two victims, whose names were not disclosed.

The singer was told he must stay at least 100 yards away from the victims and that he cannot possess a firearm.

A telephone message left after office hours on Friday with The Firm, the Beverly Hills representatives for Durst and Limp Bizkit, was not immediately returned, the Associated Press news agency said.

MTV comedy plan for YouTube hit

Spoof rap duo Million Dollar Strong, who became a hit on video-sharing website YouTube, are set to star in an MTV comedy film.

Comedian Mike O'Connell and actor Ken Jeong star as an aspiring hip-hop band in the viral video, What's It Gonna Be?

The MTV production will centre around the rise of a delusional rapper and his Asian foreign exchange student friend as they take on the world.

O'Connell will co-write the screenplay, industry newspaper Variety reports.

No director has been lined up for the big screen version as yet.

O'Connell is a stand-up comedian who recently shot a pilot show for the Fox network, called The Right Now Show.

Jeong is an actor who most who most recently appeared as the doctor in Knocked Up and is currently filming comedy movie All About Steve with Sandra Bullock.

Sopranos wins top prize at Emmys

The Sopranos has crowned the end of its final season with the top prize at the Emmy TV Awards in Los Angeles.

The mob drama, which ended in the US in June, took best drama series plus two other awards at the most prestigious prize-giving ceremony of the TV year.

But Sopranos star James Gandolfini was beaten to the best actor award by James Spader, who appears in Boston Legal.

UK comic Ricky Gervais won best comedy actor, while Dame Helen Mirren took best drama actress in a mini-series.

Drama series : The Sopranos
Comedy series : 30 Rock
Drama actor : James Spader
Drama actress : Sally Field
Comedy actor : Ricky Gervais
Comedy actress : America Ferrara
Mini-series/TV movie actor : Robert Duvall
Mini-series/TV movie actress : Dame Helen Mirren (above)

Dame Helen, who won an Oscar earlier this year for The Queen, said: "You know, you Americans are wonderfully generous people.

"You're a lot of other things as well - some good, some bad - but you know if I was to categorise your natures it's generosity above all."

Her Emmy was for her role as Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect: The Final Act.

Gervais, who was not at the ceremony, was honoured for playing hapless actor Andy Millman in his BBC sitcom Extras.

He provided one of the biggest surprises of the night, beating favourites Steve Carell, who stars in the US version of The Office, and 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin.

America Ferrera, star of comedy Ugly Betty, won the award for best actress in a comedy.

The Sopranos cast celebrated their best drama win by taking to the stage as a star-studded audience gave them a standing ovation.

"This amazing cast is really what it comes down to. It really is all about them," the show's creator and director David Chase said.
Ugly Betty star America Ferrera won best comedy actress

It had missed the top prize five times in the past, last winning in 2004. But the series lost out on all of the acting awards this year.

Double Oscar winner Sally Field took her third Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama for the series Brothers and Sisters.

She beat Edie Falco, who was in the running for playing Tony Soprano's long-suffering wife Carmela.

James Spader, who won best drama actor, said: "I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob and they're all sitting right over there."

Supporting actor gongs went to Terry O'Quinn, who plays the mysterious John Locke in castaway drama Lost, and Katherine Heigl of hospital show Grey's Anatomy.

The best comedy award was won by 30 Rock, set in the offices of a New York television studio.

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night went to former US vice president Al Gore, who won an award for his Current TV - a cable channel based on viewer-created content.

Mr Gore, who got a standing ovation and screams from the audience, won outstanding creative achievement in interactive television.

"We are trying to open up the television medium so that viewers can help to make television and join the conversation of democracy and reclaim American democracy by talking about the choices we have to make," he said.

A show starring veteran crooner Tony Bennett on his 80th birthday also picked up three awards, including best individual performance in a variety or music programme.

Police blogger revealed

The identity of a police constable whose internet diaries lifted the lid on modern-day policing has been revealed for the first time by the BBC.

Stuart Davidson, from Staffordshire, risked dismissal from his job to write The Policeman's Blog.
He has told BBC One's Panorama officers were often doing paperwork and chasing targets instead of arresting criminals.

Police and government officials say they accept there is too much bureaucracy involved in the job.

Not even the 36-year-old's closest colleagues knew he was responsible for the blog, which was written under the pen-name of PC David Copperfield and has received over one million hits since he started it.

'Waste of time'

In his blog Mr Davidson outlined the "madness" of his target-driven duties in a place he called Newtown, which he has now disclosed was Burton-on-Trent.

Speaking openly for the first time, he told Panorama he was frustrated with bureaucracy and paperwork.

"The public think that we solve burglaries, the public think that we're actually on patrol accosting thieves and people who are up to no good," he said.

"But what we actually do is attempt to meet government statistics by solving trivial crime."

Staffordshire police said analysis showed officers spent 62% of their time out of the station, but it accepted they have to deal with too much bureaucracy and they're working to change it.

Mr Davidson, who received two commendations during his four years in the force, said about 80% of what he did "was a waste of time".

"I thought nobody else can be doing things that are so insane," he said.

"But it transpires that there are thousands and thousands of other police officers out there doing exactly the same kinds of things

Quitting force

"It depends on the nature of the offence of course, but you arrest somebody and it'll take you the rest of the shift - say eight to 10 hours - to deal with that if it's even remotely complicated."
Mr Davidson said he was sometimes tempted not to make an arrest because processing it would mean so much time off the street.

He is quitting the force in Britain to join the police in Canada.

Panorama filmed with Mr Davidson over six months, including his last days on the force.

It also spoke to other officers up and down the country who feel their job is being undermined.

They said they believed the very foundation of police work - that of preventing crime - is being undermined.

And all of them spoke of their frustration at the sheer volume of paperwork.

"We are never there on the streets to provide reassurance, to provide a deterrent and to prevent people from becoming a victim of crime," a former officer told the programme.

Many of their concerns were supported by the Chief Inspectorate of Policing's interim review into policing in England and Wales, which was published last week.

The views are also echoed in responses to a questionnaire distributed to 2,000 beat officers across the country by the Police Federation, which represents 140,000 officers.

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, said police officers in England and Wales are bogged down in red tape and "excess bureaucracy" must be cut to free up police time.


Mr Davidson's blog was dismissed last year by Tony McNulty, Minister for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing.

But Mr McNulty told Panorama that he had shifted his position and, while he did not concede everything that Copperfield said was true, things could be improved for officers.

He also said that, while targets are crucial for accountability and measuring performance, they should not get in the way of officers doing their job effectively.

"I want there to be accountability, I want there to be a robust performance framework... but I do not want that getting in the way of effective policing and crucially restoring some discretion to the frontline".

Chernobyl to be covered in steel

The authorities in Ukraine have approved a giant steel cover for the radioactive site of the world's worst nuclear disaster - Chernobyl.

Ukraine has hired a French firm to build the structure to replace the crumbling concrete casing put over the reactor after the 1986 accident.

The casing project is expected to cost $1.4bn (£700m).

It will take five years to complete and the authorities say they will then be able to start dismantling the reactor.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko hailed the project:

"Today is probably the first time that we can openly look into the eyes of the national and international community and say that a solution to the problem that has long been called the Chernobyl problem was formally found," he said.

Weather exposure
The French construction company Novarka will build a giant arch-shaped structure out of steel, 190 metres (623 feet) wide and 200m long.

It will cover the existing containment structure which stands over the reactor and radioactive fuel that caused the accident in 1986.

The reactor still contains 95% of its original nuclear material, and exposure to weather and poor construction has left the existing casing weak.

A separate deal has also been signed with the US firm Holtec to build a storage facility within the exclusion zone for nuclear waste which has been produced by Chernobyl.

The money for the schemes has come from international donors.

The fund is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Its president, Jean Lemierre, said the continued commitment of Ukrainian authorities and the international community was vital for the projects to be successfully completed.

More progress urged on ozone hole

Faster progress is needed to safeguard the ozone layer, according to one of the scientists who discovered the "ozone hole" over Antarctica.

Writing on the BBC News website, Joe Farman calls for faster phase-out of some ozone-destroying chemicals, and for the destruction of stockpiles.

The Montreal Protocol regulating these substances is 20 years old this week.

Some of Dr Farman's arguments have been echoed by senior figures in the UN, and by European and US politicians.

He is critical of the agreement that allows developing countries to keep on using some ozone-depleting chemicals until 2040.

"Frequent reviews rescued the Montreal Protocol from deficiencies in the original draft, and another comprehensive re-examination is clearly needed," he writes in the BBC's Green Room series.

Joe Farman was one of three British Antarctic Survey scientists who reported signs of severe damage to the ozone layer over Antarctic - the "ozone hole" - in 1985.

Member countries of the Montreal Protocol are meeting this week, again in Montreal, to review progress.

Faster, sooner, cheaper

The 1987 Montreal Protocol was designed to phase out chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons which were found to be depleting the ozone layer in the Earth's stratosphere, the higher portion of the atmosphere.

The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet-B radiation from the Sun, which can cause skin cancers and other medical conditions, as well as harming wildlife.

Industrialised nations phased out almost all CFC production in 1995, with developing countries having a deadline of 2010.

Many of the substances, used in applications such as refrigeration, aerosols and fire-fighting, could be replaced relatively easily with related families of chemicals including hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

These cause much less damage to the ozone layer; but production in the developing world is now increasing so fast that there is renewed concern about their impact.

Current regulations mean that in 2015, developing countries will have to freeze their HCFC use at or below the level it is then, phasing out entirely by 2040.

"The rate of HCFC use is skyrocketing," noted Clare Perry, senior ozone campaigner with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

"So it's actually going to cost less to phase it out sooner when investment in plant and equipment is at a lower level."

French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said the EU would be pushing for a faster phase-out at this week's ozone treaty meeting.

"The schedule for eliminating HCFCs must be pushed up by 10 years - that will be the benchmark for deciding if the negotiations are succesful," she said.

Accelerating the phase-out would require new funds from the industralised world, as well as changes to the current funding regulations.

Joe Farman also wants cash set aside to combat leakage of ozone-depleting chemicals, such as the fire retardant halon 1301, from developing world installations.

"There is some production in developing countries," he writes, "but the main source is now through leaks from existing installations, and during recycling. It is surely time to consider collecting the existing stockpile, and destroying it."

Perverse climate

HCFCs also contribute to climate change. They are much more potent, molecule for molecule, than carbon dioxide; one byproduct of HCFC manufacture, HFC23, is 11,700 times more powerful.

Reducing HCFC use "offers the international community the chance to make rapid gains both concerning the ozone layer and global climate change," said UN Environment Programme (Unep) executive director Achim Steiner in the run-up to this week's summit.

And President Bush's chief environmental advisor James Connaughton said that accelerating HCFC phase-out by 10 years would "produce at least twice the reduction (in greenhouse gas emissions) of the Kyoto Protocol".

However, some environmentalists believe there is an element of political spin here intended to divert attention from carbon dioxide, which is much more important overall as a greenhouse gas.

There is also concern that the Kyoto Protocol may be creating a "perverse incentive" for companies to boost HCFC use.

The protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. It can be used to pay for equipment to trap and burn HFC23.
"In 2005, the destruction of HFC23 accounted for 64% of the value of all CDM projects, and 51% in 2006," Dr Farman writes.

"There is currently much debate on whether carbon trading based so heavily on burning HFC23 constitutes sustainable development."

ICC World Twenty20

WORLD TWENTY20, Johannesburg:Pakistan 189-6 (20 overs) beat Sri Lanka 156-9 (20 overs) by 33 runs

Afridi took three wickets in four superb oversShahid Afridi starred with the ball as Pakistan completed a 33-run victory over Sri Lanka in the Twenty20 Super Eight match in Johannesburg.

Afridi (3-18) picked up the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene (28) and Chamara Silva (38), while Mohammad Asif chipped in with two important wickets.

A partnership of 101 between Shoaib Malik (57) and Younus Khan (51) helped Pakistan to finish on 189-6.

Lasith Malinga (3-43) and Dilhara Fernando (2-17) shone for Sri Lanka.

The victory was entirely deserved as Pakistan's talented line-up produced a performance worthy of a place in the last four of this exciting tournament.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene had won the toss and opted to bowl first on a wicket which has seen its share of runs since the very start of the tournament.

The seamers made the ideal start when Chaminda Vaas had Imran Nazir caught at cover off the third over.

Dilhara Fernando then removed Salman Butt (12), who was comprehensively bowled attempting to make room on the leg-side, and a fine yorker took care of Mohammad Hafeez (10) to leave Pakistan struggling at 33-3.

It was left up to captain Malik and man of the match Younus to consolidate Pakistan's innings and build a competitive total to defend.

The captain was the more dominant of the pair, but Younus began to unleash his array of strokes in the 13th over, smashing Jayasuriya for two sixes along with a reverse sweep four.

The pair brought up the 100 partnership from just 53 balls, although Younus's entertaining innings came to an end when he attempted to loft Malinga back over his head, but instead found the safe hands of Tillekeratne Dilshan at long-off.

The dismissal brought the dangerous Afridi to the crease, but it was his captain who continued the onslaught, mowing Gayan Wijekoon over the deep mid-wicket boundary for another fine six.

Malinga eventually removed Malik but big-hitting at the end of the innings from Afridi (17 from nine balls) and Misbah-ul-Haq (16 from six balls) helped Pakistan to a very competitive total.

Sri Lanka made the worst start possible when opener Upul Tharanga top-edged Mohammed Asif to Umar Gul at third man off the second ball of the day.

His opening partner Jayasuriya soon followed when he was cleaned up by Sohail Tanvir in the next over to leave the World Cup finalists struggling at 6-2.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene attempted to rebuild after Sri Lanka's faltering start, but Sangakkara's innings came to an end when he deflected the ball off his arm onto his stumps.

Jayawardene and Chamara Silva began to build a promising partnership, taking advantage of indiscipline from one Asif over to plunder 22, which included two free hits for two no-balls.

But Sri Lanka's hopes of victory faded when captain Jayawardene was caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Mohammad Hafeez off Afridi for 28.

Silva continued to attack but his risky attacking strategy cost him his wicket as he was bowled attempting to smash Afridi across the line for 38.

Mubarak, who had scored an incredible 46 runs from 12 balls against Kenya, could not repeat his heroics and he tamely top-edged Gul to mid-wicket for a simple catch for Afridi at mid-wicket.

With all aspirations of victory gone, Dilshan threw the bat at everything, hitting 38 runs before he was caught on the boundary by Younus off Hafeez.

'Fair probe' vow on Iraq gunfight

Iraq and the US have pledged a "fair and transparent" investigation into a gunfight involving a private security firm that left eight civilians dead.

Iraq has banned North Carolina-based Blackwater USA from the country after the shoot-out in Baghdad on Sunday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has telephoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki about the incident.

The two have agreed to investigate and hold any wrongdoers accountable, according to Mr Maliki's spokesman.

All Blackwater personnel have been told to leave Iraq immediately, with the exception of the men involved in the incident.

They will have to remain in the country and stand trial, the Iraqi interior ministry said.

The convoy carrying officials from the US State Department came under attack at about 1230 local time on Sunday as it passed through Nisoor Square in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Mansour.

The Blackwater security guards "opened fire randomly at citizens" after mortars landed near their vehicles, killing eight people and wounding 13 others, interior ministry officials said.

Most of the dead and wounded were bystanders, the officials added. One of those killed was a policeman.
A spokesman for the US State Department told the AFP news agency that during her phone call to Mr Maliki, Ms Rice had "reiterated that the United States does everything it can to avoid such loss of life in contrast to the enemies of the Iraqi people who deliberately target civilians".

A Blackwater official was quoted as telling Time magazine's online edition that "the convoy was violently attacked by armed insurgents, not civilians, and our people did their job, they fired back to defend human life".
Thousands of private security guards are employed in Iraq.

They are often heavily armed, but critics say some lack proper training and are accountable only to their employers.
Blackwater is reported to have a contract worth $300m (£150m) with the state department to protect its diplomatic staff and equipment in Iraq.

The firm's personnel have no combat immunity under international law if they engage in hostilities.

Sunday's violence followed the publication of a survey of Iraqis by a UK-based polling agency that suggested up to 1.2m people might have died because of the conflict in Iraq.

Greenspan says Iraq war is ‘about oil’

WASHINGTON, Sept 17: Alan Greenspan — the former chief of the US central bank, for years an inscrutable seer on the economy — has outraged the Bush administration by alleging in his new memoir that “the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

Mr Greenspan, who as head of the Federal Reserve, was famous for his tight-lipped reserve, is uncharacteristically direct, also accusing President George Bush of abandoning Republican principles on the economy.

“I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows — the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he wrote in reported excerpts of “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” which hit bookstores on Monday.

However, in an interview with The Washington Post, Mr Greenspan clarified that while securing global oil supplies was “not the administration’s motive,” it had presented the White House with an opportunity to make the case that removing Saddam Hussein was important for the global economy.

“I was not saying that that’s the administration’s motive,” he said in the interview. “I’m just saying that if somebody asked me, ‘Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?’ I would say it was essential.”

Mr Greenspan’s memoir appears 18 months after he left the Fed, following a career that spanned 1987 to 2006, with the US economy at a crossroads and ahead of a critical central bank meeting under the chairmanship of his successor, Ben Bernanke.

The man dubbed “The Oracle” tells his own tale of nearly two decades at the helm of one of the world’s most powerful financial institutions and includes surprising swipes at the Bush administration.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates, while explaining his “respect” for Greenspan, rejected the charge that a thirst for crude explained the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.“I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don’t believe it’s true,” he said on ABC television.

Members of the US Congress, who by a broad majority also voted to authorise the use of military force against Iraq, also dismissed Mr Greenspan’s assertion.“I don’t believe that 77 United States senators on a broad, bipartisan basis would have authorised the use of force... if it was only about oil,” Republican senator John Cornyn told CNN.ECONOMY: Greenspan, a lifelong Republican, writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb “out-of-control” spending while the Republicans controlled Congress.According to The Wall Street Journal, he says that Bush’s failure to do so “was a major mistake.”

Republicans in Congress, he writes, “swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose” in the 2006 elections when the Democrats retook control of Congress, he adds.

A speech by the 81-year-old Greenspan is said to command more than 100,000 dollars, and he reportedly earned an 8.5-million-dollar advance from Penguin Press for the book.

In the bombshell memoir, he puts his own spin on the events surrounding the 1987 stock market crash, the bursting of the Internet bubble and the 2001 recession coinciding with the Sept 11 strikes.

Al Qaeda losing popularity in Muslim world: US

WASHINGTON, Sept 17: Pakistan is among the Muslim countries where Al Qaeda has greatly lost its popularity — from above 75 per cent five years ago to 34 per cent now, says Karen Hughes, US Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
In an opinion piece released on Monday, Ms Hughes says that the opinion of the Muslim world about Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden “is turning darker than bin Laden’s newly-dyed beard.”
Talking about a “dramatic decline” in Osama’s standing in majority-Muslim countries, she quotes from recent opinion polls in Iraq and Afghanistan, which show that more than 90 per cent of those populations have unfavourable views of Al Qaeda and of Osama himself.
Similar polls in Turkey two years ago found that 90 per cent of citizens believe the Al Qaeda bombings in London, Istanbul, Madrid and Egypt were unjust and unfair; 86 per cent thought that there was no excuse for condoning the Sept 11 attacks; and 75 per cent said Osama does not represent Muslims.
She says that support for terrorist tactics has fallen in seven of the eight predominantly Muslim countries polled as part of the Pew Global Attitudes Project since 2002; in most cases, those declines have been dramatic.
Five years ago in Lebanon, 74 per cent of the population thought suicide bombing could sometimes be justified.
Today it’s 34 per cent -- still too high, but a stark reversal.Similar declines in support have occurred in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Jordan.
Muslim populations, according to Ms Hughes, are increasingly rejecting Osama’s attempts to influence their faith.She quotes from a survey by the WorldPublicOpinion.org, which found in April that large majorities in Egypt (88 per cent), Indonesia (65 per cent) and Morocco (66 per cent) agree: “Groups that use violence against civilians, such as Al Qaeda, are violating the principles of Islam. Islam opposes the use of such violence. “These shifts in attitude are beginning to show up in actions.
Sunni leaders in Iraq’s Anbar province are working with coalition forces against Al Qaeda because, she says and quotes one Sunni leader as saying that all the terrorists bring is chaos — “killing people, stealing goats, everything, you name it.”
After recent terrorist attacks in Algeria, protesters shouted: “Terrorists are not Muslims” and “no to terrorism; don’t touch my Algeria,” Ms Hughes concludes.The polls Ms Hughes quotes in her piece show a totally different picture from another survey released last week by a non-partisan NGO called Terror Free Tomorrow.
The Washington-based group claimed that President Pervez Musharraf -- a key US ally -- is less popular in his own country than Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to a poll of Pakistanis conducted last month by an anti-terrorism organisation.Additionally, nearly three-fourths of poll respondents said they oppose US military action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban inside Pakistan.According to this poll, Osama bin Laden has a 46 per cent approval rating. Gen Musharraf’s support is 38 per cent. US President George W. Bush’s approval: 9 per cent.

Taliban say any talks should lead to troop withdrawal

KANDAHAR, Sept 17: The Taliban said on Monday it would only hold talks with the government if they resulted in the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of US-led Nato troops.
The movement’s spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, had said a week ago that the Taliban were ready to respond positively to President Hamid Karzai’s renewed offer of negotiations.
But Ahmadi appeared to be stepping back from that stance on Monday by adding the apparently new condition involving the withdrawal of foreign soldiers from the insurgency-hit country.