Friday, November 20, 2009


Susan Boyle's debut album is called I Dreamed A Dream !

Talent show discovery Susan Boyle has seen her new album become the biggest CD pre-order in the history of global online retailer Amazon.
The West Lothian singer's debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, is to be released by Sony Music Entertainment on Monday.
Boyle became a star after her April appearance on "Britain's Got Talent", in which she eventually came runner-up.
Amazon said Boyle's album was the biggest CD pre-order in the 14-year-history of its website.
Julian Monaghan, head of music buying at, said: "Just eight months ago, no one was aware of the talents of Susan Boyle.
"Now, she has generated more Amazon pre-order CD sales globally than any other artist.
"That is an incredible achievement and is testament to the fact that she has captured the hearts of people all over Britain, America and the rest of the world."
Steve Barnett, chairman of Boyle's record label, Columbia Records, part of Sony Music, said: "One of the things that is so unique about Susan Boyle is her ability to touch people around the world.
"We're excited that I Dreamed A Dream holds the new record for global pre-orders and that Amazon's customers have supported her album in this way."



Tuesday, November 17, 2009


A senior aide to Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism.
Roy Bennett, treasurer for Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was held in February for allegedly possessing illegal weapons.
Attorney General Johannes Tomana told the court Mr Bennett was involved in a bid to topple President Robert Mugabe's government between 2002 and 2006.
The trial has raised tensions in Zimbabwe's unity government.
In court, Mr Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa described the case as political persecution.
Mr Bennett had been due to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister when he was arrested.
President Robert Mugabe has refused to swear him in while the case is ongoing.



By Michael Bristow - BBC News, Beijing.

China has tried to neutralise US President Barack Obama's attempt to speak directly to ordinary Chinese people.
Officials have used their control of the media to make sure citizens receive only a censored version of the US president's comments.
In a question-and-answer session on Monday in Shanghai, Mr Obama praised China and urged it to adopt certain universal rights and freedoms.
But in news reports about the session, Chinese media outlets largely ignored the criticism and played up the positive comments.

Mr Obama did get the opportunity to speak directly to China's 1.3bn people at a press event held with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. The event was broadcast live on national television.
But even here, China tried to avoid any mishaps.
Journalists at the event were expecting to be able to ask questions, but they did not get the chance - the two presidents quickly departed after each making statements.
Mr Obama's success in his own country is largely based on his ability to present his charismatic personality to ordinary people through an unfettered media.
But in China the Communist Party stands in his way. It regularly censors the country's media and a presidential visit is no different.
The US government had wanted the Shanghai question-and-answer session broadcast as widely as possible - but it was shown live only on local TV.
In an article about the event, China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, said Mr Obama was "upbeat" about Sino-US ties.
The report noted that the US president's talk to students on Monday covered a wide range of topics, including cultural exchanges and climate change.
But it did not say that Mr Obama had urged China's leaders to welcome the free flow of information - particularly on the internet.
A similar upbeat note was struck by the state-run China Daily. "There's room for both of us," it quoted Mr Obama as saying in a front-page headline.

Television news bulletin were sometimes even more circumspect with their reporting of Mr Obama's first full day in China.
The main national television news show on Monday evening hardly mentioned the visit by Mr Obama to China.
It was the seventh item on the 1900 programme - coming after a long report on the funeral of a former vice-premier who has long since slipped from memory, and an item on a Chinese writing museum.
The short report on Mr Obama was not broadcast until 20 minutes into the bulletin and lasted just a minute. It did not show the US president meeting with Chinese students in Shanghai.
But some media outlets did go further than others - the Beijing News was one.
It reported Mr Obama's comments on the benefits of allowing people to communicate freely using the internet.
Free access to the internet "allows people from across the world to ensure their own governments are responsible" it told its readers.
Internet chat rooms had even more leeway to comment on Mr Obama's question-and-answer session with the handpicked students.
"His words were like shaking hands with a guest, but what matters is our national interest," said one internet user.
"We have to bear in mind that while we're shaking one nice hand, we should be prepared for the other hand - which might hit us."
Another internet user complained about Mr Obama's comments on individual rights and freedoms being "universal". "American presidents are hypocrites," he said.



Monday, November 16, 2009


The Springboks called the rendition before the match a "joke"
The reggae singer, whose tuneless rendition of South Africa's national anthem was savaged by rugby fans, has said his performance was "sabotaged".
Ras Dumisani said the orchestra played too fast and his microphone was too old at his performance at a South African rugby clash with France on Friday.
The team went on to lose the match, with some blaming the singing for contributing to the 20-13 defeat.
The South African-born French-based singer appeared to forget the lyrics.
He also struggled to hit the high notes and many in the crowd in Toulouse began to laugh.
The vice-captain of the Springboks Victor Matfield called the rendition a "joke".
But Mr Dumisani blamed the match organisers for his poor performance of the anthem, which incorporates five of South Africa's 11 official languages.
"I was not feeling good because I felt they wanted to sabotage my concert," he told South Africa's 702 radio station.
"I want to apologise to all the people at home. I find myself disgusted."
The South African Rugby Union has written to its French counterpart to express its dismay.
"As a union, we were shocked and horrified by the rendition of the anthem," Saru President Oregan Hoskins said.
"The performance of the anthem is a treasured part of any rugby international and we take great pains in this country in the selection and rehearsal of artists to ensure that we appropriately honour all anthems."



By Andrew Benson

German car giant Mercedes has bought the Brawn Formula 1 team in a move that is likely to see Jenson Button join McLaren as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate.
Mercedes will buy 75% of Brawn in partnership with an Abu Dhabi investment company but will continue as McLaren's engine partner until 2015.
Brawn, who won both world titles in their debut season in 2009, will be rebranded as Mercedes Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg will be their lead driver, with Nick Heidfeld his likely partner.
Fellow German Timo Glock, who drove for Toyota last season, is also a possibility.
The team has not yet confirmed Rosberg, who drove for Williams in 2009, but he is widely known throughout F1 to have already signed for the Mercedes team.
Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug indicated that talks with Button were ongoing but had already revealed the team is in negotiations with Heidfeld.

Mercedes buy into a team that has the championship once compared to several times by McLaren

"We are talking (with Button) and that's why we cannot announce the driver line-up," said Haug on Monday. "We have to accept that speculation takes place, but that's the name of the game."
But he added: "This will be an international team - Mercedes-Benz is a global player.
"We definitely do not want to have a pure German team. It's an international team and we want to have the best drivers in the car."
Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, whose company owns Mercedes, echoed Haug's thoughts.
"What we would like to see is the best drivers in the two seats," he said. "We certainly would not be opposed if one of them was German but that is not a prerequisite."
Button, who won the drivers' title this year, has been trying to secure a pay-rise from his £3.5m salary but it seems Mercedes is not interested in granting his wish.
The 29-year-old Englishman visited McLaren with manager Richard Goddard on Friday, with Button now expected to join the Woking-based team for a salary around double what Brawn were offering.
Button's decision is understood not to be solely about money - sources say he considers McLaren might have a more competitive car than Brawn in 2010.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who has been forced to leave Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso, remains an outside possibility for the seat alongside 2008 world champion Hamilton.
Despite the takeover, both Haug and Zetsche indicated that there were unlikely to be wholesale changes, with Ross Brawn remaining as team principal.
They also said Brawn would have a key role to play in deciding the driver line-up for 2010 and beyond.
"Ross Brawn is the boss of the team and it would not be smart of us to dictate to him anything like a driver decision," said Zetsche.
Brawn and chief executive Nick Fry will retain a 24.9% shareholding in the team. The remaining 75.1% will be split between Mercedes, which will own 45.1% and Abu Dhabi company Aabar Investments, which will own 30%.
Brawn said: "Brawn GP has been through an incredible journey over the last 12 months.
"From fighting for our survival to forging a strong relationship with Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, winning both the constructors' and drivers' world championships, and now accepting Daimler and Aabar's offer to buy our team, which will secure its future."
As part of a deal that will see the McLaren Group buy back Mercedes's 40% shareholding by 2011, the German company will continue to supply free engines and sponsorship to the team for at least the next six years.

The team's official name will remain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
McLaren chairman Ron Dennis described the deal as "a win-win situation, both for McLaren and Daimler".
McLaren and Mercedes said one of the reasons for them to split was because of McLaren's road-car building ambitions.
McLaren is launching a high-performance sports car called the MP4-12C in 2011.
Dennis said: "I've often stated that it's my belief that, in order to survive and thrive in 21st Century Formula 1, a team must become much more than merely a team.
"That being the case, in order to develop and sustain the revenue streams required to compete and win grands prix and world championships, companies that run Formula 1 teams must broaden the scope of their commercial activities.
"In the MP4-12C, which will be introduced to market in 2011, we have a car that has inherited the genes of the iconic McLaren F1 of 1994 and has already been the subject of much global media acclaim."



Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Levi-Strauss influenced generations of anthropologists
Renowned French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss has died at the age of 100.
One of the most influential French intellectuals of the 20th Century, he founded the structuralist school of anthropology in the 1950s.
Levi-Strauss's books include Tristes Tropiques - a 1955 biographical book regarded as a classic - as well as The Savage Mind and The Raw and the Cooked.
His death was announced in Paris by his publisher, Plon.


ZZ Top star tells of Tube odyssey
By Tim Masters Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Billy Gibbons fans recognised him on the tube
ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons has revealed that he chose a very un-rock star method of transport to the band's Wembley concert last week.
Instead of the usual chauffeur-driven car, the Texas rocker bought a ticket for the Tube - which then broke down.
"To the disbelief of many I decided to take the Tube," said Gibbons, who has played with ZZ Top since 1969.
The musician picked up the Marshall 11 award at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour awards in London on Monday.
"Being the consummate tourist, I wanted to ride the Tube," he said.
"Someone said, 'you know it may not be that bad of an idea because travel in London has not been known for its expedient way to get from A to B'.
"And off I went - it's a only a block from the hotel down to the station, and no sooner had I bought the ticket the agent informed me that the Circle Line had broken down."
Gibbons took a bus to Baker Street where he joined the Metropolitan Line to Wembley Park - along with ZZ Top fans who were making their way to the gig.
'Fun thing'
He continued: "There was a guy on the route that was checking me out and it was getting a little edgy, and then I realised that he was looking at a ZZ Top concert ticket for the Wembley show."
When asked whether he will continue taking public transport to gigs, he said: "Well, I may in the future. I beat my partners by 45 minutes."
The star also revealed that ZZ Top would be writing new material in the new year, working with veteran American rock producer Rick Rubin.
"He being the visionary that everyone has come to respect him as, I think this will be a fun thing for ZZ Top to be going about," he said.
The Classic Rock award given to Gibbons celebrates "rockers who turn it up to the max".
Gibbons is best known for his riffs on hits like Gimme All Your Lovin' and Sharp Dressed Man.


An attack of the grumps can make you communicate better, it is suggested.
In a bad mood? Don't worry - according to research, it's good for you.
An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.
In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.
While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine.
The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain "promotes information processing strategies".
He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood.
Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.
Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.
Professor Forgas said: "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."
The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a "mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style".
His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us - wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.