Wednesday, 3 August 2011

8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Husband

One of the best parts about marriage is being so comfortable with your hubby that you can say just about anything to him. But if you don’t watch your mouth, sometimes the ugly truth comes out in hurtful—not helpful––ways. Though you may have legitimate concerns to express or issues to bring up, doing so in a harsh manner can be damaging in the long term, to both your husband’s feelings and your relationship. According to Judy Ford, psychotherapist and author of Every Day Love, “Speaking kindly is a skill that couples have to learn. Everyone feels battered by life and the outside world. You shouldn’t feel that way at home.” Here, nine statements that you should never utter to your significant other––and the words that you should try instead.

1. “You’re just like your father.
“This is just a no-no,” says Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker and author of The Pathway to Love. “It’s nasty and belittling, and it gets at his fear that he may be exhibiting the worst traits of his family.” If you’re about to spout a criticism like this, stop and think about what’s behind it: Maybe your father-in-law is the kind of guy who never cleans up after himself, and your husband’s habit of leaving dirty dishes around the house is getting to you. According to Ford, you should skip the insult and get right to a reasonable request, such as: “Hon, when you’re done with your sandwich, can you bring your dish over to the sink?” That way, you can achieve your goals without hurting him in the process
2. “When are you going to find a new job?”
First, figure out why you want him to find a new job so badly. Do you dislike how much time he spends away from home? Do you think he can or should be further ahead career-wise? Is he not bringing home a healthy-enough salary? “Before you say anything that could be hurtful to him, think about what your own issues are,” says Ford. Be particularly careful that you're not attacking his ability to support you and the kids: “Part of how a man evaluates himself is by how well he can take care of his family,” says Ford, so insulting him in this sensitive area can be a serious blow. To avoid this, have regular talks about both of your jobs, career ambitions and budget concerns. If you have an issue with how much money he’s making, “it’s an opportunity to talk about your lifestyle and how you want to live,” she adds. The aim is to avoid putting him on the defensive, and instead work together to create the life you both want. Photo: Shutterstock

3. “My mother warned me you’d do this!”
Something must have seriously infuriated you, because what you’re doing here is letting him know that there are others in your “camp.” “You are trying to validate your ‘side’ of an argument, as though you’re marshalling an army to your side,” says Orlov. But that’s never a good idea because it’s telling him that you’re not on his side, or on the side of your relationship. Though you should never let the opinions of others’ dictate your relationship, if there is some kernel of truth to a concern that your mother raised, think about how to address that. “Maybe your mother said ‘he’s too cheap,’” says Orlov. “Say to him, ‘why do you sometimes seem reluctant to spend money on things we need?’” Without ganging up on him, that could open up a discussion about money worries that stem from his childhood, for example. “Room is now cleared for creative problem-solving,” says Orlov. And if you’re just lashing out? Hold your tongue and focus on the root of what’s making you mad. In the end, coming to a solution together will make you feel better than unleashing hurtful words. Photo: Shutterstock

4. “Just leave it––I’ll do it myself!
This is hurtful in two ways. First, it gets at your husband’s elemental need to be a provider, supporter and capable person in the house. Second, it’s just plain demeaning for any adult to hear that his efforts are sub-par. Do this too often and your husband might think, “I can never do anything right or anything that’ll please her,” says Ford. A better choice is to pick your battles. If he’s in the middle of a task and you think that he’s doing it wrong, evaluate whether it really matters, keeping in mind that, just because he’s doing something differently than you would doesn’t mean that he’s doing it wrong—he is, after all, an adult too. Sure, if he’s about to hurt himself or someone else or break something, kindly step in. But if he’s just loading the dishwasher in a way that drives you nuts? Let it be. Photo: Thinkstock

5. “You always... [fill in the blank]” or “You never... [fill in the blank]”
“These are two phrases I advise couples never to use,” says Ford, “because they set up an instant, negative tone; they halt communication and they put the other person on the defensive.” These blanket statements can make your husband feel unfairly attacked, and chances are he’ll just fire back with all the times he did help. If there are legitimate problems you’d like to address (he really does tend to leave his tools all over the garage floor or often forgets to put gas in the car after driving it), avoid generalizing and try to focus on the issue at hand while also communicating how his actions make you feel: “When you come home with an empty tank of gas, I feel like you don't care about the next person who has to drive the car—which is usually me.” Then add the phrase “would you be willing...,” suggests Ford. Try: “Would you be willing to fill up the car when it gets below a quarter tank?” Most men are willing to do most anything that’ll make you happy––it’s all in how you ask. Photo: Shutterstock

6. “Do you really think those pants are flattering?”
Are you trying to hint that he’s putting on weight? Because saying the above, says Ford, is not getting anything concrete across. You may think that you’re subtly conveying the message, but instead you’re insulting his looks without showing any genuine concern for his health. Instead, start with something you like about how he looks: “When you wear that blue shirt, it really makes me appreciate your gorgeous blue eyes.” Then broach the topic of his weight gain by framing the comment so it’s about his health, not looks: “Honey, what do you think about us both starting after-dinner walks?” When you’ve softened up your approach, you have more room to make other, helpful suggestions. Photo: Thinkstock

7. “Ugh, we’re hanging out with him again?
There’s nothing wrong with your guy having a friend whose company you don’t love—no one says spouses are required to adore each other’s friends, especially that one college pal who likes to pretend he and your hubby never left the frat house. What is wrong is insulting your man’s choice of friends. Your disdain may also suggest that you’d prefer to pick his friends for him—and no one wants to be told who they should be pals with. A better choice: “Oh, honey, you know I don’t always enjoy doing the same things as you and George, so why don’t you plan a guys’ night instead?’” suggests Ford. Remember, there’s no marriage rule that says you two have to do everything together; he might actually be relieved to have a little guy time with his pal that doesn't involve him having to worry if you’re having fun or are offended by his friend’s jokes. (And keep this in mind: If a friend is really awful, your husband is much more likely to see that on his own, over time, whereas if you nag him to drop the dolt it may never happen.) Photo: Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

8. “Please watch the kids. But don’t do this, take them here or forget that...”
This is a classic nervous-new-mom move: When you’re in anxiety mode, it can be hard to let go of childcare tasks (even though you would love to have more help). It’s also an attitude that can become a habit no matter how long you’ve been a mom, leading to some very unhealthy feelings: You may become resentful because he doesn’t pitch in, but you don’t always give him room to, either. At the end of the day, no husband is going to be inspired to be a better, more hands-on and involved dad if his every effort is shot down, says Orlov. “If he always feels like he’s wrong, he’ll only start to disconnect emotionally.” So let Dad be Dad. Trust that he knows as well as you do how to keep a child clean, safe and fed—even if his definitions of those tasks are slightly different than your own. That said, if there are things he needs to know, like how to use the stroller or what the pediatrician’s phone number is, definitely give him the rundown. Photo: Shutterstock

Five Android smartphones you should avoid buying

Not all Android smartphones are created equal. Unlike the iPhone, which is generally updated by Apple once a year, there are literally dozens of smartphone models on the market powered by Google’s mobile operating software.
While there are a handful of fan favorites like the Nexus S 4G and Motorola Atrix, there are also plenty of dogs that suffer from poor performance issues, weak batteries, and stupidly unnecessary features. Based on input from our readers, personal experience and poor reviews, we detail here five Android phones you should avoid buying.

Huawei m835 Ideos

Sometimes you get what you pay for, which is the case with this Metro PCS-branded Android smartphone. While we love the fact that Android phones can now be purchased without a contract for less than $100, the tiny screen size, spotty performance and poor battery life of the Huawei Ideos makes it an inferior device than even most feature phones. The appeal of its compact dimensions (4.1 inches tall and 2.2 inches wide) are overshadowed by a 2.8-inch touchscreen that makes typing and navigating through websites and applications awkward at best. This problem is amplified when you consider that most prospective users of this “starter Android phone” haven’t owned a smartphone before. There are certainly smarter ways to try out an Android.


Releasing a phone based on state-of-the-art navigation technology was a good idea at first. But Garmin’s first (and only) entry into the crowded Android device market suffered from poor sales and a generally directionless marketing approach. The idea was to bring Garmin’s expertise at GPS satellite navigation into a smartphone. The trouble is, most regular Android smartphones include Google Maps already installed. For the vast majority of consumers, that app and the hundreds of other navigation-oriented Android apps produced by independent developers is all that will ever be needed. While there is no denying that the Garminfone works well as a standalone GPS device, for those wanting a true Android smartphone experience, it certainly doesn’t cut the mustard. As Google Maps now works offline too, which was one of the Garminfone’s original advantages, the device is becoming even more obsolete.

Dell Streak

Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? The Dell Streak somehow combines the worst qualities of each. What’s the point of having a portable device that places phone calls but doesn’t comfortably fit in your pocket? In terms of computing, the comparatively small Dell Streak is clearly inferior to the iPad and other tablet offerings. But don’t just take our word for it. Wall Street Journal tech guru Walt Mossberg listed the Streak as one of the worst devices he reviewed in 2010. Android software updates to the Streak have made it a more usable device than when Mossberg published his original review. However, not even the most advanced mobile operating system in the world can make up for the Streak’s clumsy form factor.

Motorola Citrus

Verizon subscribers have a serious beef with the Motorola Citrus, which has an average two-and-a-half star rating (out of five) based on 392 reviews. Among its drawbacks are a slow web browser that is difficult to read text on because of the small screen size. Many users complain about constantly having to manipulate the screen size in order to read text. The Citrus is also known to revert to Airplane Mode by itself and freeze without warning. For search and navigation, the Citrus pushes users to pre-installed Bing applications rather than providing easy access to Google and other applications. While it is common for smartphones to include this kind of "bloatware" upon purchase, for tasks as essential as search and navigation users should be free to make their own choices. There may be worse Android smartphones available, but Verizon subscribers who insist on buying a Motorola phone are better off paying for the superior Droid models. The Citrus is free to purchase with a two-year contract and readily available. But you’re still going to pay thousands of dollars for the duration of your deal, so it’s better to pony up earlier for a superior phone and let this lemon spoil.

HTC Thunderbolt

OK, before you start with the angry emails for including this one, hear us out. The Thunderbolt is a great device with plenty of power. It has been well reviewed, sold well, and offers the advantage of blazing-fast connectivity on Verizon’s 4G network. But -- and we’re certainly not the only ones to point this out -- the Thunderbolt has been beset with quirks and problems since its launch. Randy Arrowood, from enthusiast blog Android Headlines, even went so far as to put it at number one in his Top 10 Android Phone Letdowns of 2011. Arrowood cited issues when transferring from a 4G to 3G network, constant restarts, and the most common issue of all: horrendous battery life. For sure, the Thunderbolt (and many others like it) are great devices with loads of style and power. But if you need an extra battery just to see you through the afternoon, or can’t use the phone to its utmost potential because of a lack of juice, then what’s the point of having all those features?


Monday, 1 August 2011

5 Bills NOT to Automate

Service providers are happy to give you the "convenience" of automated payments — primarily because it lets them reach into your wallet each and every month. But although autopay can be a valuable financial tool for some bills and expenses, for other types of payments, you may be setting yourself up for all-too-frequent fee hikes, surprise costs, and payments for services you never even use.
Those unexpected costs can hit you with a double whammy, says Jean Ann Fox, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America. In addition to the extra costs themselves, surprise fee hikes can bleed your account balance dry, she says — and "if you run low in your checking account, you can easily overdraw your account and rack up $35 overdraft fees."
Here are five fees to drop from your automated payment list today.
Mobile Phone Bills
Perhaps the only thing more exasperating than getting your usual sky-high smartphone bill is getting a bill that's even higher than you expect after you've exceeded your plan's texting, phone, or data limits. "If you've got kids, you've got to be paying particular attention to your bills. Oftentimes, they'll download 'free' ringtones that have monthly subscription fees buried in the terms and conditions," says Kathy Kristof, MoneyWatch columnist and author of Investing 101. "If you've automated that expense, you might not notice the charges for months."
"In-app" purchases — such as a game's additional levels, premium features, or virtual goods — also can easily add hundreds of dollars to a monthly bill.
Insurance Payments
Aggressive advertising from insurance companies has conditioned people to look for the very best prices on home and auto insurance. And you can get great deals — for a while. "I call them ungrateful service providers," says Brian Preston, wealth manager at Preston and Cleveland in McDonough, Ga., and host of the Money Guy podcast. "They give great rates to brand-new customers, but then they'll have premium creep over the years, because they hope you're not paying attention." Keep them honest by shopping the rates every year or two.
Sitting down to pay water, electric, and heating bills may seem like an onerous chore, but those bills may be the first tipoff that something's out of whack. "If the electric bill is high, maybe it means the refrigerator in the garage has its door open," Kristof says. Big bills will encourage you to investigate problems early.
Gym Memberships
According to a study done by Stanford and Berkeley researchers, most people dramatically overestimate the number of times they go to the gym each month — in essence paying $17 a visit with a monthly fee. "One technique you can use to save money is to pay a la carte," says Ramit Sethi, author of the blog and book I Will Teach You to Be Rich. "It sounds crazy to buy a day pass each time you go, but that may actually save you money."
Other options include buying packages of passes (often found at climbing gyms and yoga studios) or using smartphone apps to support your (free) workout. The free Adidas miCoach app, for example, tracks the distance and speed of your runs while piping helpful coaching advice into your earbuds.
Cable Bills
Cable used to have a lock on the best programming, but that's changing quickly. Instead of shelling out three figures every month to get your weekly Mad Men fix, consider individual purchases from iTunes or Amazon. "When you're forced to experience the pain of paying each time you purchase a show, you might decide you don't actually want it," says Sethi. "It can also get people out of the house and off the TV."
Still want your TV and movie fix? You can add top-flight movies streamed over your internet connection from Netflix for a more reasonable cost of $8 a month and many past and current TV shows from Hulu Plus for $8 a month.

Yahoo Finance

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hustler magazine wants Casey Anthony for $500,000

Casey Anthony might be one of the most hated women in America, but Hustler magazine wants to give her a half-million dollars.
If she'll pose naked.
Larry Flynt's porno magazine has offered the 25-year-old, who was acquitted of murdering her daughter, Caylee, the cash, Flynt told HLN's Nancy Grace.
But even he thinks it's a little weird.
After the verdict, Flynt said, "I just felt that people wouldn't want to see her with her clothes on or off, so I kind of forgot about the idea."
But book lovers made him change his mind.
"I just recently got off of a book tour where dozens of people would come up to me in Philadelphia, Austin, Houston, they'd say, 'Why haven't you made an offer to Casey Anthony?"' he said.
 He said he became convinced that a good hair stylist and makeup artist could have her "looking really fabulous."
Anthony's representatives told CNN there have been no discussions.
But Flynt said in addition to the $500,000, he offered Anthony a percentage of whatever he earns from her pictures.
"You could make millions," he said.
But even he acknowledged he's a little skeezed out.
"You've got men who say, hey, I want to see her in her birthday suit," he said of the Anthony offer. "There may be some sick individuals ... but that's what life is all about."
Copyright 2011 by

Men: 5 little-known ways to flirt

When it comes to attraction, there may indeed be a little weird science involved. Seriously, how many times have you looked at a couple and said to yourself, Hmmm…how did a guy like that get a gal like her? Well, we’re not going to say we’ve found the magic elixir, but we did dig up some surprising secret ways men can effortlessly make themselves more attractive to the ladies.

We’re guessing that even if they don’t actually work for you personally, the extra confidence you’ll exude knowing you’ve got these stealth attraction tactics (i.e., “attractics”) in your arsenal may just help you land a date with that gal you’ve had your eye on.

Attractic #1: Wear red
Red is a power color, and that doesn’t just apply to politics and carpets at Hollywood events. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, simply wearing the color red or being surrounded by the rosy hue makes a man more attractive and desirable to women. The fact that women are largely unaware of this color’s arousing quality makes wearing it that much more effective for men who are in the know (unless they’re women who happen to have read this article… in which case, they may be on to you, but they’ll still probably respond to the color anyway).

Adding a touch of red into your wardrobe apparently makes women perceive you as having a higher social status, more likely to make money and think of you as powerful (whether it’s true or not). On a purely animalistic level, for non-human primates — like mandrills and gelada baboons — the color red is an indicator of male dominance and is expressed most intensely in alpha males. Females of these species mate more often with alpha males who, in return, provide them with protection and resources. “When women see red, it triggers something deep and probably biologically ingrained,” says Andrew Elliot, the lead author of this study and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. In other words, dressing to impress may now mean adding a pop of cherry into your typical black, gray and navy wardrobe staples.

Attractic #2: Eat celery
Real men don’t eat rabbit food, right? WRONG. If you want to reel in the ladies, try increasing your crunches — of celery stalks, that is, not the gym variety. And it’s not just because women tend to congregate around vegetable trays at parties; in fact, eating celery increases the amount of female-attracting pheromones that men emit. Why? It seems that the cytoplasm found in celery contains the same chemicals as those found in human male sweat (specifically, regular sweat that’s responsible for a subtly masculine scent, which may not always be perceptible through clothing); both contain the steroid Androstenone, which makes men more attractive to women.

Why would you want more pheromones oozing out of your pores, you ask? Well, these are the hormones responsible for letting animals know when it’s time to mate, and they’re also how insects attract their mates from up to six miles away. So if you find yourself within flirting distance of an attractive woman and you’re dripping in delicious pheromones thanks to the celery you snacked on for lunch, women may find themselves irresistibly drawn to you. “The effects of celery are almost immediate,” says Judy Gaman, coauthor of the book, Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health. “We recommend that a man work out, have a nice, warm shower, chomp on a few sticks of celery, brush his teeth — and then head out the door smelling good!” Admit it: you’re rethinking the “eat your vegetables” edict now, aren’t you? Just call it “eau de crudité.”

Attractic #3: Play romantic music
Looking to score a gal’s digits or get her to think that you’re Prince Charming? Take a cue from the French and play a little love song first. According to a recent study by researchers Nicolas Guéguen and Céline Jacob from the Université de Bretagne-Sud (along with Lubomir Lamy from Université de Paris-Sud), women who were exposed to romantic music before interacting with eligible males were more likely to hand over their contact information (ostensibly, to set up a date) than those ladies who were exposed to “neutral” music in the same scenario. And while sappy ballads might make more macho guys want to gag, if your goal is to get the lady in question’s email address, it might behoove you to stomach a little Il Divo or Josh Groban in the presence of female subjects (the researchers showed positive correlations between romantic feelings and background music). Or try attending a crooner’s concert performance solo; who knows — you might just find yourself fighting off a whole group of swooning women!

Attractic #4: Order a chocolate dessert
Meeting a lady for coffee? Order some food, too. And if you can, make it something with chocolate in it. Here’s why: when people talk about falling in love, what’s really going on is that you’re participating in activities that promote forming an attachment to each other. Things that facilitate the attachment process raise your oxytocin levels (the love and bonding hormones) in the brain. According to Dr. Alan Hirsch, Neurological Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, eating and the smell of food increases oxytocin levels in humans. So, by ordering an appetizer or dessert as an accompaniment, your date’s oxytocin levels will spike, thus encouraging a mutual bond to develop. (Who would’ve guessed that love was just an order of nachos away this whole time?) “You may want to be alone with her while eating, however, so she doesn’t bond with someone else at the table,” warns Dr. Hirsch.

To enhance the bonding effect even more, order something that contains chocolate. Eating chocolate increases the serotonin levels in the human body, which can induce feelings of euphoria and chemically improve your mood. “By being around a woman while she’s eating chocolate, you get this sort of ‘halo effect’…she likes the chocolate you ordered her, therefore she likes you,” says Dr. Hirsch.

Attractic #5: Learn some dance moves
So you think you can dance? Go ahead and bust a move, then! Actually, make that a good move (if you are a horrible dancer and you know it, please try options #1-4 above first). Why? The movements associated with men perceived as being skilled at dancing appear to send a subliminal signal to women that you’re in good health and have reproductive potential.

A recent study published in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, analyzed the dance moves of 12 non-professional male dancers. Researchers videotaped these men grooving to a basic drum rhythm and then turned their “dances” into computer-generated cartoons (that way, each guy could be judged solely on his moves, not his looks). Women then rated these dancing avatars on a scale of 1 to 7.

The results were clear: if it’s female attention you’re after, don’t flail your arms on the dance floor. Women participating in the study paid more attention to those dancers who were connected with their core body region. In other words, the guys who earned higher ratings had more control over their upper bodies and were twisting, bending, moving and nodding instead of simply pumping their fists in the air. Women scored men whose movements were twitchy and repetitive the lowest — so try to stay on beat and avoid shuffling back and forth aimlessly. And if you know you’re smooth, well...don’t be afraid to show it! You just might have women falling at your feet (but not stepping on your toes).

Kimberly Dawn Neumann ( is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Maxim and more. A frequent online contributor for’s Happen magazine, she’s also the author of The Real Reasons Men Commit as well as the founder of

Friday, 29 July 2011

Suleman says she was drugged when she consented to 12 embryos

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Nadya Suleman on Thursday blamed the creation of the "Octomom character" that she has become synonymous with in part on a California fertility specialist who, she said, had her sign a consent form while she was drugged.

The California woman said she did not mean to have eight children in January 2009, in addition to the six she already had. But while she admitted she did want more children, she insisted she was in no condition to understand a form Dr. Michael Kamrava put in front of her before implanting 12 embryos.

"He wrote something, he gave it to me to sign," Suleman told HLN's Dr. Drew Pinsky on Thursday night. She said she was then on "a cocktail of drugs" including Valium at the Beverly Hills doctor's office because her uterus was contracting. "I signed it, and I didn't read it."

Kamrava lost his California medical license July 1 after state officials ruled that he committed "gross negligence" with "repeated negligent acts, for an excessive number of embryo transfers" into Suleman in 2008, the state's medical board wrote. The same report determined that the doctor felt the implantation was driven "by the patient's wishes."

During a hearing for the doctor last October, it was revealed Suleman still has 29 frozen embryos in storage. Contrary to some reports, though, the 36-year-old woman insisted Thursday that she doesn't want any more children.

That said, the single mother -- who said she has been celibate for 12 years, and had all 14 children by in vitro fertilization -- admitted that she chose to have children in part to address her emotional baggage.

"Is it fair to have a bunch of kids help solve your emotional issues? Of course not," she said.

"With children, I feel so safe in my predictable world. They will never leave me. Kids love you, unconditionally."

Suleman admits that she has a host of problems, including anxiety, panic attacks, hyperactivity and obsessive compulsive disorder. "My brain and body are racing constantly," she added, noting she exercises extensively and only gets two hours of sleep a night.

But expressing regret for contributing to "this mess (that) has deleteriously affected my kids," Suleman said that she's now speaking out in part to refute having been made into what she called a "parody without permission."

"I have the spotlight, I know it's my responsibility (for my kids) to brush it away and get rid of the Octomom character," she said.

With no steady income and expenses of over $18,000 a month, Suleman has struggled to get by raising her children. She has previously hosted a yard sale at her La Habra, California, home to deal with the hardship, and had reportedly signed on to be on the HDNet reality TV show "Celebridate."

And now, Suleman said she is grateful for money she gets from media interviews, especially with overseas outlets.

She also claims to have received "hundreds of death threats," some targeting her children, as well as a few female stalkers.

"I am hated in my hometown," she said.

Still, Suleman said that despite the difficulties she feels things are improving. And despite her admitted anxiety, paranoia and continued efforts to shield her children -- barring any television or Internet in the house -- she is most at peace at home.

"I feel safest at home with my kids," she said. "And I want to be only there, that's my favorite time at night, in my pajamas playing Twister."

Four Arrested Over Death of Phoenix Girl Locked Inside Box as Punishment

Phoenix – Phoenix police said Thursday they believe a 10-year-old girl suffocated after being locked inside a box as punishment for stealing a Popsicle, as they announced the arrest of four people in connection with her death.

Ame Deal died on July 12 in the Phoenix home where she lived with her family, including a grandmother and an aunt, reported.

During the initial investigation, family members told police that Ame and other children had been playing hide and seek, and they believed the little girl suffocated after climbing into a plastic box to hide.

However, detectives said Thursday they were treating the death as a homicide. Police said Ame had been placed in the box as a form of punishment for stealing a Popsicle from the freezer.

Other children living in the home were allegedly told to go along with the story that Ame had died while playing hide and seek.

According to police, the girl was forced into the chest, padlocked in, and suffocated when the family went to sleep.

"This child died at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for her ... this case has turned the stomachs of some of our most seasoned detectives," police spokesperson Sgt. Trent Crump said.

John and Samantha Allen, both 23, were arrested. The Allens are Ame's distant cousins who were babysitting her at the time. Also detained were Ame's 62-year-old grandmother Judith Deal and her 44-year-old aunt Cynthia Stoltzmann.

The Allens were booked on first-degree murder while Deal and Stoltzmann were booked on child abuse and kidnapping.

Police said the four family members abused Ame because they did not believe she was related to them by blood.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Most & Least Indebted States

Residents of California and Hawaii are the most indebted individuals in America, but they're also among a group that are making the most progress in paying down the amount they owe, according to a MoneyWatch analysis of state-by-state debt statistics.

Overall, debt — and particularly credit card debt — is dropping appreciably as the country is swept by two complimentary trends: a new commitment to fiscal responsibility and lending restrictions that are generally keeping credit out of the hands of people who aren't committed to using debt responsibly.

"There is clearly a segment of the population that can't borrow," says Kenneth Lin, president of Credit Karma, which provided the data. "But there is also a segment of the population that is just cutting back, paying down their debts and pulling out the credit cards less often."

Credit Karma's debt data, based on the actual debt obligations held by some 200,000 consumers who use the company's site, breaks down the average amounts that residents in each state borrow via credit cards, mortgages, auto and student loans.

Over the past year, the American consumer's propensity to pay down debts has been relatively remarkable, with residents of 44 states cutting the total amount owed on credit cards, auto loans and mortgages. The only type of debt that's increased more or less universally over the past year is student loans, Lin notes. He considers that a troubling sign, potentially signalling a student debt bubble that could be far more difficult to pop than the housing debt bubble of 2008. (Related Debt in America story: Students Buried in Education Loans, coming soon.)

Student loans aside, there are only six states where residents have either increased or made no progress in paying down their debts. Those states — Montana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Louisiana, North Dakota and Minnesota, — didn't suffer as much from declining home prices, Lin says. (Of course, they didn't participate in as much of the upside of real estate's boom years, either.)

On the other hand, in states where housing prices have suffered with double-digit declines are also where consumers are making the biggest dent in what they owe.

"When you're in a market where housing prices have fallen 30 or 40%, you feel poorer and you're going pull out your credit card a lot less," Lin explains. Besides, you're less likely to have enough home equity to secure a big loan with real estate.

Where are America's most and least indebted consumers, according to Credit Karma's data? And how much progress (if any) have they made in paying off debts during the past year?

10 Most Indebted States (averages exclude student loans)

State...........................Average debt............% change

1. California...............$336,169.....................-4%

2. Hawaii....................$321,258....................-7%

3. Maryland................$263,524.....................-0%

4. New Jersey.............$257,462.....................-1%

5. Washington...........$243,758.....................-2%

6. Massachusetts......$242,111.....................-0%

7. Virginia.................$239,186....................-1%

8. Connecticut..........$229,684.....................-3%

9. Colorado...............$219,899....................-1%

10. Nevada................$218,010....................-7%

10 Least Indebted States (averages, excluding student debt)

1. Oklahoma............$126,027...................-3%

2. West Virginia.......$127,535...................-1%

3. Arkansas.............$128,460...................-0%

4. Mississippi..........$129,792..................-2%

5. Indiana................$132,618..................-3%

6. Kansas................$133,606..................-2%

7. North Dakota......$133,823..................+0%

8. Kentucky.............$136,441.................-1%

9. Iowa....................$139,415.................+0%

10. Nebraska..........$139,527..................-1%

(States that show a 0% registered at less than one percent change. The positive and negative signs show the direction the incremental change, however. For instance, overall debt dropped in Arkansas by $79 from July 2010 to July 2011, going from $128,539 to $128,460, according to Credit Karma. On the other hand, North Dakotan's added $406 to their debt burdens, with the amount they owe on credit cards, mortgages and auto loans rising to $133,823 from $133,417.)

States with the biggest debt declines

1. Hawaii...............$321,258..............-7%

2. Nevada..............$218,010.............-7%

3. Florida...............$185,518.............-6%

4. Utah..................$200,878.............-5%

5. California..........$336,169.............-4%

6. Alaska..............$211,970.............-4%

7. New York.........$201,838............-4%

8. Michigan..........$144,143............-4%

9. Missouri...........$142,174............-4%

10. Connecticut....$229,684...........-3%

This article is part of a series related to being Financially Fit


Is default deadline truly Aug 2? Analysts say no

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Will the sky fall on August 2 if the U.S. Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling?

Not likely, according to analysts, who say that even without the ability to borrow more money, the government could avoid a devastating default for another week or so. That raises the question of how urgently action is needed to increase the nation's borrowing limit.

For weeks, President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have stressed that the U.S. Treasury will run out of room to borrow funds next Tuesday and have warned of dire consequences if Congress does not raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in time.

But Treasury officials have never said when the government will run out of cash to pay the nation's bills, and the consensus among Wall Street analysts is that the cash won't run out until about two weeks after the August debt-ceiling drop-dead date.

"The first risk of a legitimate default is August 15," said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist and managing director at Jefferies & Co. "Cash is not going to be an immediate problem. The debt ceiling space is not going to be an immediate problem."

McCarthy and other Wall Street analysts predict that the Treasury will have enough cash to meet its early-to-mid August obligations, including $23 billion in Social Security payments to the elderly and disabled on August 3.

That view lends credence to claims that some Republicans have been making for days now that the U.S. government will be able to keep functioning and paying its bills even if there is no deal by August 2.

But it does not take into account how the market and investors will react if Congress fails to raise the debt cap by the deadline and the U.S. Treasury is unable to tap markets for funds.

Analysts also expect that the U.S. Treasury will be able to roll over the $90 billion in U.S. debt that matures August 4.

"In all forecasts, it appears as if they have ample cash to cover their obligations," said Lou Crandall, chief economist with research firm Wrightson ICAP.

Wrightson and Jefferies expect the United States would start defaulting on its obligations on August 15, the date the government must pay out $41 billion, including around $30 billion in interest on U.S. debt.

Barclays Capital has said Treasury may run out of cash to pay its bills around August 10, when $8.5 billion in Social Security payments are due.

A Treasury spokesperson on Tuesday had no comment.


Analysts do not expect the credit rating agencies to downgrade U.S. debt if Congress does not raise the limit by August 2 and the government is still able to pay its bills.

That could potentially give a divided Congress more time to craft a plan to cut spending and raise the limit on how much Treasury can borrow.

"We think there is enough money in the month of August to take care of things," said Representative Jim Jordan, the chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 150 conservative and Tea Party-aligned lawmakers.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Republican House Speaker John Boehner are locked in a bitter battle over how to control spending and increase the debt cap.

Reid and fellow Democrats have proposed a one-step plan to cut the deficit by $2.7 trillion and raise the cap by the same amount to carry the administration through the November 2012 elections. Meanwhile, Boehner has pushed for a two-stage deficit reduction plan that would provide an initial increase in the debt limit that would only last a few months.

Any sign from the administration that Congress has more time to negotiate a budget deal could undermine Geithner's credibility.

The U.S. Treasury has shifted the forecast of when it would initially bump up against the borrowing cap three times and once pushed back its drop-dead estimate -- now August 2 -- of when it would exhaust all special measures that let it keep borrowing.

"It doesn't help that they have shifted dates. There is definitely a perception from lawmakers that even if they pass the deadline, they may be OK," said Tom Simons, a money market economist with Jefferies & Co. "There will come a point where it is no longer true."

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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The Soap You Should Never Use - But 75% of Households Do

The main compounds in antibiotic wipes, creams and soaps -- triclosan and triclocarban -- have been added to chopping boards, refrigerators, plastic lunchboxes, and mattresses in an attempt to halt the spread of microbes.

But studies show that these antibiotic chemicals are no more likely than regular soap to prevent gastrointestinal or respiratory illness. In fact, for chronically sick patients, antibiotic soaps were actually associated with increases in the frequencies of fevers, runny noses and coughs.

According to Scientific American:

"What we do know is that the influence of these wipes and salves does not end with our hands, but instead spreads from them down our drains and out into society.

What happens when antibiotic soaps and suds go down drains? To find out, a group of scientists recently made artificial drains clogged with bacteria ... and then subjected them to low and high doses of triclosan ... Triclosan kills 'weak' bacteria but favors the tolerant, among them species of bacteria that eat triclosan ... Triclosan may also favor lineages of bacteria that are also resistant to the oral antibiotics used in hospitals".

Additionally, there have been recent concerns about its possible effects on human health -- and triclosan has been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine samples. A study evaluated the effects of triclosan in female rats, and was found to advance the age at which the rats hit puberty. Serum thyroid hormone concentrations were also suppressed by triclosan.

According to the study, published in Toxicological Sciences:

"In conclusion, triclosan affected estrogen-mediated responses in the pubertal and weanling female rat and also suppressed thyroid hormone in both studies."

'Mom, don't panic ... but there's a gunman loose here'

(CNN) -- Shortly after a bomb blast tore apart a government building last Friday in downtown Oslo, killing eight people, Marianne Bremnes quickly tracked down the fate of her friends and relatives who might have been nearby. All were safe.

She, her husband and one of their 16-year-old twins -- their son -- were in their summer cabin in the northern town of Bremnes. She called the other twin -- their daughter Julie -- to let her know the news. Julie was in her third day of a planned five-day visit to a Labour Party camp on the Island of Utoya, located about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south, near Oslo. "We said, 'Everyone we know in Oslo is OK, and you can just relax and have fun in your camp,'" Bremnes said.

Though they had not spoken since Tuesday, when Julie had arrived on the island, Bremnes felt confident that her daughter was having fun. "When I don't hear anything from her, then that means she has a marvelous time," the 46-year-old arts administrator said. "I didn't hear anything from her, so I know that she had a great time in the camp."

But a half-hour later, her daughter called her back.

"'Mom, don't panic,' she said to me, 'but there's a gunman going loose here and shooting around, and you must call the police because I have tried, and I can't reach them.'"

Bremnes said her daughter told her that she and a group of other young people from her home region of Troms were attending a meeting in the camp to discuss the Oslo bombing when terror struck in the form of a man wearing clothes bearing a police emblem.

"They were about to finish the meeting when they saw this policeman walking down the road," she said her daughter had told her. "They thought he was coming to tell about the bomb explosion in Oslo. Suddenly he turned around and started to shoot. Then they ran for their lives."

Julie and four other campers reached the water in a couple of minutes and got in -- oblivious to the chill -- and waded behind a rock, where they found a hiding place on land under an overhang.

Beginning shortly before 6 p.m. and continuing over the next two hours, a series of texts between mother and daughter provided a crucial link between them and a window into the terror that had gripped the island, where the gunman would fatally shoot at least 68 people. The texts, written in Norwegian, were provided to CNN by Bremnes.

Julie: Mummy, tell the police that they must be quick. People are dying here!

Mother: I'm working on it, Julie. The police are on their way. Dare you call me?

Julie: No.

Julie: Tell the police that there is a mad man running around and shooting people.

Julie: They must hurry!

Mother: The police know and they have had many calls. It is going well, Julie. Police are calling us now. Give us a sign of life every five minutes please?

Julie: OK.

Julie: We are in fear for our lives.

Mother: I understand that very well, my darling. Stay hidden, do not move anywhere! The police are already on their way, if they haven't already arrived! Do you see anyone injured or killed?

Julie: We are hiding in the rocks along the coast.

Mother: Good! Should I ask your grandfather to come down and pick you up when everything is safe again? You have the option.

Julie: Yes.

Mother: We will contact Grandpa immediately.

Julie: I love you even if I still misbehave from time to time.

Julie: And I'm not panicking even if I'm shit scared.

Mother: I know that my darling. We love you too very much. Do you still hear shooting?

Julie: No.

Mother: Have you heard anything from the other people from Troms? Grandpa is on his way down.

Julie: The police are here.

Mother: The person shooting is said to be in police uniform. Be careful! What happens to you now?

Julie: We do not know.

Mother: Can you talk now?

Julie: No. He is still shooting!

Mother: Joergen has swum to the shore. I just spoke to his father. This is everywhere on the national news now, all attention on Utoya now. Be careful! When you get the chance, you come to the mainland and stay with Grandpa of Hamar.

Julie: I'm still alive.

Mother: And thanks and praise for that.

Julie: We are waiting to be picked up by the police. We heard shooting just now, so we dared not get up.

Mother: Good! Good, well done. The evacuation is now ongoing, they are saying on TV.

Julie: We hope we will be picked up by someone soon. Can they not catch him soon?!

Mother: The anti-terrorism unit is there and they are working on catching him.

Julie: OK.

Mother: Should we try to get the flight home tomorrow?

Julie: I have no time to think about that now.

Mother: I understand that.

Julie: Do you know if they have managed to catch him?

Mother: Will keep you posted, my darling. We are following everything on television.

Mother: Hey, are you there?

Julie: Yes. The helicopters are circling above us.

Mother: Then you should be OK?

Julie: They are looking for people in the water, we have not been picked up yet!

Julie: What are they saying in the news?

Mother: The police are also arriving by boat to Utoya, otherwise nothing new. It is not clear what's happened to the shooter so keep still. Wait for someone to pick you up.

Mother: Now they have taken him!

Bremnes said she did not immediately grasp the gravity of the scene. "There was no news about this in the radio or television, so I really didn't know what was going on," she said. "At first, I thought this was a man with a toy gun or something, and then I realized that this was for real. And I got really worried when she texted me, 'Mom and Dad, I love you even though I'm cross with you sometimes.' Then I realized that she had sort of death panic; she was scared for her life."

Such expressions of devotion are unusual for her daughter to voice, Bremnes said. "She sometimes tells us, but not in texts. Not as you in America. You're so clever to tell anybody that you love them, but we in Norway, we normally don't do that."

Friday's events, though, have persuaded her to try to change, the Scandinavian said. "We should do it more."

The family reunited late Saturday in the northern city of Troms, where Julie had flown with other youths from her region. Bremnes said she can't remember exactly what was said when they reunited. "I think it was something like, 'I love you, darling,' or something like that. We both cried way much when we met. We all cried, all four of us cried when we met."

Their tears were not just over Julie's good fortune. Among those who did not return Saturday night were five of Julie's best friends.

Bremnes said she has since learned that Julie helped calm the other young people with whom she shared their rocky redoubt. "She told one of them to get to sleep. 'You have to sleep,' she said to him. She told him that he had a great dialect, and she did some small talking to them to get them calm."

Bremnes said her elation over her daughter's safe return is tempered with sadness. "I let myself feel happy even though we mourn for those who didn't come back from the island alive. So, I am proud of her and she's a tough girl. Strong girl. And she's now mourning for those, the close friends, who died."

The mother's pride in her daughter extends to her countrymen. "We have had a healthy reaction to this tragedy," she said, citing Monday's massive rallies throughout the country. "We went into the streets and we marched and had a nice time showing each other and the whole world that we want democracy, we want love, we want a caring society, and this maniac -- because that's what he is -- this maniac is not allowed to destroy our society. And if he tries to destroy it, then the opposite happened. We are more stronger together than we ever have been. We had to see the good things in this, and love is a good thing coming out of this."

Julie is planning to return this fall to the island, and her mother said she will let her go. "Yes, of course I will. Of course I will. I think that's the only thing to do, the right thing to do."


Sunday, 24 July 2011

So... if you pull the pin on a grenade, can you put the pin back in and let go of it? Kinda urgent..


Could Amy Winehouse Have Been Saved?

Who, if anyone, could have saved Amy Winehouse?

The question always arises after any drug-related celebrity death about whether the star was surrounded by sycophants and enablers who ignored health risks to keep their meal ticket in motion. But we may never have seen a celebrity case as extreme as Winehouse's: The last four to five years of her life represented as extended and public a trainwreck as pop culture has ever witnessed. This was not a Heath Ledger, whose problems were kept largely under wraps, tipped only by suspiciously heavy-lidded interviews, but a superstar who seemed to openly court disaster for a shambolic half-decade, regardless of whether she was being enabled or shamed.

Looking back at relatives' statements over the years, you don't see much denial going on.

"I realize my daughter could be dead within the year," said her mother, Janis. "We're watching her kill herself, slowly. I've already come to terms with her dead. I've steeled myself to ask her what ground she wants to be buried in, which cemetery. Because the drugs will get her if she stays on this road. I look at Heath Ledger... She's on (his) path. It's like watching a car crash -- this person throwing all these gifts away." The year Winehouse's mom went public with this prophecy of imminent doom? 2008.

"Perhaps it is time to stop buying records," said her former father-in-law, Giles Fielder-Civil, suggesting a boycott as a last resort. "It's a possibility, to send that message... It's about time that their friends and their professional colleagues say to them ‘enough is enough'." The year he went on live radio to sound this warning? Not recently, when Winehouse had little public cache to lose, but all the way back in the summer of 2007, when her star was really just beginning to rise in America.

Her father-in-law thought a boycott could force Winehouse's label to reign her in. But Winehouse's equally concerned father, Mitch, called in to the same program to say the record company was doing everything it could.

"There's only one person to blame and that's Amy," her father declared four years ago. "That's what Blake's parents have got to understand... There's no question of the record company or her family trying to work her to the bone. These are some of the accusations that have been levelled at us." In contrast to the popular conception of corporate enablers, Mitch Winehouse described "caring, loving people from the record company, people who have been in the business for 20 or 30 years who are used to seeing matters like this, crying their eyes out because of their genuine love and affection for Amy. The record company isn't as callous as some people think it is."

Mitch Winehouse continued to sound like he was in anything but denial as he discussed his daughter's problems over the years. In 2008, he told the press Amy had developed early-stage emphysema. "If drugs mean more to her than breathing properly, then so be it. But the doctors have told her if she goes back to smoking drugs, it won't just ruin her voice, it will kill her."

Given the widespread awareness and acceptance of her problems, surely she could have been saved if she entered rehab, right?

Except that this was the woman who famously said "no, no, no" to rehab. Except when she was saying yes - entering a treatment facility at least four times over the years, according to reports. But those brief stints couldn't instill a sense of real personal determination.

The first time she went into rehab, by her own glib account, was before she recorded the 2007 smash "Rehab" and helped inspire the nay-saying song. "I did [go to rehab], for just 15 minutes,'" she told the Sun. "I went in and said ‘Hello' and explained that I drink because I'm in love and have [messed] up the relationship. Then I walked out."

Winehouse's parents and representatives of her management set up an intervention meeting after things started deteriorating so publicly in 2007, but Winehouse and her husband skipped it to meet his in-laws at the pub. But her troubles soon caught the attention of the law. In Norway, the young marrieds were arrested for drug possession and let off with a fine. In December, she was busted in London for interfering with a case against Blake, who was soon to spend two years in jail on an assault charge. In January 2008, Scotland Yard looked into - but ultimately didn't act on - a widely disseminated video that showed Winehouse appearing to smoke crack.

When the infamous crack video emerged, Mitch Winehouse said he wanted to get her sectioned under England's Mental Health Act to force her to clean up, but couldn't. "You might consider taking drugs is a danger to herself, but unfortunately the authorities don't," he said. As for her attitude, "Part of the problem is she doesn't think she's got a problem. She thinks she can do what she does recreationally and get on with the rest of her life."

But, following the bad spate of PR, she did check herself into rehab on January 24, 2008-a decision that must have involved eating some humble pie for a women whose star had risen on the cocky claim that she would never do just that. In any case, she didn't stay long, and emerged in time to perform via satellite on the Grammy Awards, where she swept the top prizes. It was the kind of massive validation that some observers thought might shore up her ego and render intoxication unnecessary. But that assumption hardly took into account the scope of her addiction.

The years 2009-10 brought a bevy of further incidents: an alleged assault against a theater manager who'd asked her to change seats at a performance of "Cinderella"; punching out an innocent fan at a gig, whom she mistook for someone who'd thrown an object at her; messing up the lyrics to "Valerie" at a rare, brief public performance with producer Mark Ronson; and an official end to her literally combative relationship with her husband, though, not surprisingly, she got back together with him for a time after the divorce.

In early 2011, Mitch Winehouse said that his daughter had been clean for about "two and a half years," while cautioning that "I'm not saying her problems have gone away." This provided great reason for optimism, as the father had not been one to sugar-coat her problems in the past. A European tour was booked during this supposedly healthy time.

But things took another turn for the worse, leading her to make her final entry into rehab on May 27. As she checked into the Priory Clinic again, an official statement cited her desire to "seek an assessment" and "be ready for performances in Europe this summer." According to the English press, on her way to check into rehab, she was seen downing a small bottle of vodka. Some sources said she was devastated at a breakup with her boyfriend of one year, film director Reg Traviss, whom gossip reports suggested had had enough of her propensity for partying. In any case, this stint in treatment lasted less than a week. Winehouse checked out June 2, saying in a statement that she would be receiving "outpatient treatment," two words that sounded the loudest possible alarm bells.

The rest is well-trodden, tragic history: A disastrous and widely YouTube-d tour opening in Belgrade, followed by a quick cancellation of her remaining dates. The Daily Mail reported the claim that shortly before her death Winehouse purchased "a cocktail of narcotics" that included cocaine and ecstasy, though the authorities in London have cautioned against a leap to judgment about any overdose before autopsy reports come in.

Dr. Drew Pinsky used the occasion of her death to belittle the idea that short stays in rehab do any good for a true addict.

"I don't care what the specific cause of death was — she (had) a fatal condition," Pinsky said on CNN. "Opiate addiction takes months to years to treat... Just as with the diabetic, if they don't take their insulin, if the addict doesn't do the (full, daily) program, they inevitably in all cases will relapse, and when it's an opiate addiction, it's a progression to fatality. The prognosis for an opiate addict is worse than the vast majority of cancers."

Surely there were enablers on the lower, non-public rungs of Winehouse's entourage: the dealers and ever-present hangers-on in and around her North London flat. But when it comes to her family and professional reps, there's little reason to imagine there was anything in Winehouse's five-year-long incapacitation for them. Her father likely had it right in 2007 when he said there was one person to blame. And it was the tragic figure who, even in the face of ongoing humiliation — and in the end, possibly, because of it — couldn't stop saying "yes, yes, yes."

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Illinois Man Missing Since 1979 is Found Working in Las Vegas

An Illinois man who was declared legally dead after he went missing in 1979 has been found working as a bookie in Las Vegas, Nevada, authorities said Friday, reports.

Arthur Gerald Jones, 72, was arrested July 19 and charged with four felony charges of identity theft and fraud.

A complaint regarding the fraudulent use of a Social Security number and the fraudulent use of a Nevada driver's license led to Jones' arrest, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said.

According to the site, Jones once worked as a commodities broker at the Chicago Board of Trade, the department said, but in 1979 he went missing, and his disappearance was labeled suspicious. Gambling debts and possible organized crime affiliations led police to believe foul play might have been involved.

According to the release, Jones was declared legally dead in 1986, and Jones' wife and three children collected Social Security benefits.

Jones -- who resided in Highland Park, Ill., at the time of his disappearance -- said he purchased a fake Illinois driver's license, birth certificate and Social Security card for $800 in Chicago in 1979, then moved to Florida, before eventually obtaining a Nevada driver's license in 1988.

He was living under the name Joseph Richard Sandelli, according to the Nevada DMV.

Jones is being held on $20,000 bail.


Stewart suits up for battle in 'Snow White'

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kristen Stewart dons armor and wields a huge sword and shield for her next movie. Rest assured, it will not be your mother and father's Snow White.

Stewart joined other cast and crew Saturday at the Comic-Con fan convention for a preview of next year's "Snow White and the Huntsman," an action-packed twist on the fairy tale.

The "Twilight" star told a Comic-Con crowd that doing a sweet, traditional Snow White was not something "I was jumping at." What attracted her was that this Snow White was a bold leader with her feet firmly on the ground.

"Also, I get to have a sword and stuff," Stewart said. "Really cool weapons."

The movie is due out next June and is one of two "Snow White" movies Hollywood has coming. The other, due out next March, features Julia Roberts as the evil queen.

The cast of Stewart's "Snow White" includes Charlize Theron as the wicked queen, Chris Hemsworth as a rugged huntsman and Sam Claflin as a prince.

The movie starts shooting in a few weeks. Director Rupert Sanders showed off photos of the stars in costume, among them Stewart in her fighting outfit and Theron in a sleek black gown with savagely high and sharp collars.

How evil is Theron's queen?

"She's a serial killer," Theron said. "I'm pretty much preparing to play a serial killer."

Sanders also showed a photo of the dwarves that accompany Snow White in this version, all standing in a row looking scruffier than a gang in a police lineup. The actors playing them include Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Toby Jones.

There are eight dwarves rather than the usual seven. Sanders said "there are eight because there are a few great lines when one of them gets killed."

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Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Troubled Life of Amy Winehouse

With the news that British R&B star and tabloid target Amy Winehouse has died from as yet undisclosed causes, two things are clear: the music world lost one of its most passionately soulful voices, and this is a tragedy that has surprised no one. Winehouse's struggles with drugs and alcohol were often in the public eye and even addressed in her own music, like her best-known hit "Rehab."

Throughout her colorful, troubled life, Winehouse fought many demons: addiction, an eating disorder, and a particularly tumultuous love life.

Her struggles to stay sober

Although she first broke through to international audiences with a song that found her saying "no, no, no" to her record company's claims that she belonged in rehab, it didn't take long for fans to realize she did have a problem with alcohol abuse, frequently appearing in what appeared to be a drunken state while onstage (one time she exited the stage to vomit) and during TV appearances. Hospitalizations, allegedly related to drug or drinking binges, were frequent. A leaked video of a woman alleged to be Winehouse smoking what appeared to be crack pipe and snorting cocaine caused a tabloid sensation and caused police to investigate the matter, though charges weren't brought against her.

Winehouse was aware of her problems: while she initially resisted her record company's attempt to put her in rehab, she willingly checked in to a center around that time. And in 2009, Winehouse's father Mitch-who had frequently voiced his concerns over her health to the media-said she had entered a program to deal with her drug addiction, but he admitted that there were "slight backward steps -- not drug backward steps, more drink backward steps if you follow my drift."

Her father wasn't so coy about her addiction issues: he once told UK reporters that his daughter had lung damage from smoking crack cocaine and cigarettes and that her body was giving signs of what could lead to early stage emphysema.

Also in the smoking rotation was marijuana: in 2007, Winehouse and her then-husband were arrested in Norway and fined for marijuana possession.

Winehouse herself resisted confessional 60 Minutes-type interviews, but she didn't exactly try to hide her history with drugs and alcohol either. When asked by Rolling Stone in 2006 what her worst vice was, she simply responded, "Mainly that I'm quite reckless and always throw caution to the wind."

Her friend and fellow British bad girl singer Lily Allen once had this to say about her:

"I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent, witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don't see that side."

Suspect in deadly Norway attacks charged

The suspect in the twin attacks Friday that killed dozens of people in Norway was identified early Saturday as a 32-year-old Norwegian farmer, thought to have extreme right-wing, Christian fundamentalist views.

TV2, the country's largest broadcaster, and the newspaper Dagbladet identified him as Anders Behring Breivik, 32, describing him as a member of right-wing extremist groups.

There were reports that police had confirmed his identity, but an Oslo police spokesperson told NBC News that they had not done so.

Police said the suspect had been charged with both the shooting attacks at the island youth camp where he was arrested and the bombing of government buildings earlier Friday.

TV2 said Behring Breivik had an automatic weapon and a Glock pistol registered in his name.

The suspect was cooperating with police early Saturday, authorities told Dagenblat.

At a news conference Saturday, deputy police chief Roger Andresen declined to comment on the possible motive for the killings, but said: "We have no more information than ... what has been found on (his) own websites, which is that is goes toward the right (wing) and that it is, so to speak, Christian fundamentalist."

5 Best Cell Phones Doomed to be Collectible

There are lots of twists and turns in the smartphone market. Occasionally, some really good phones just fall through the cracks. Let's call these The Collectibles -- a handful of phones, years in development, that arrive or are set to launch, but instead they get cut down at their prime or doomed before they reach their full potential.

In most of these cases, it's a sweeping change at the company that effectively orphans the handsets.

For Nokia and Research In Motion, blame a full-scale shift to a new operating system. At Palm, it was the HP takeover.

And, sometimes, it's failure's fault, like in the case of Garmin's exit from the market.

Yes, you may have seen the 13 ugliest phones, but these are much different. Here are five "keepers" that could have been big contenders.

#5 : Garminfone

The awesomeness of this device isn't the fact that it was a GPS phone made by navigation ace Garmin, or the fact that it was powered by Google's Android. No, the best thing about this phone is that it was the first Asus phone in the U.S.

Asus is a rising star in mobile computing. The 21-year-old Taiwanese tech shop is best known for its motherboards and netbooks, but it has recently turned its attention to tablets and phones. Asus was one of the first developers of a Microsoft Windows Phone 7, but that device never materialized.

Unfortunately, Garmin pulled the plug on the joint venture with Asus after it became clear that smartphones were just a little too far outside the GPS specialists' competency. With Garmin and T-Mobile as partners, Asus may not have had the best supporting cast for its debut.

The Garminfone was discontinued last month.

Scores killed in Norway attacks

At least 84 people died when a gunman opened fire at an island youth camp in Norway, hours after a deadly bombing in the capital, Oslo, police say.

Police have charged a 32-year-old Norwegian man over both attacks.

The man dressed as a police officer was arrested on tiny Utoeya island after an hour-long shooting spree. The search for other possible victims continues.

The Oslo bombing killed at least seven. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the attacks were "like a nightmare".

Mr Stoltenberg, whose offices were among those badly hit by the blast, described the attacks as a national tragedy.

"Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime on this scale," he told a news conference in Oslo.

He added that he was due to have been on Utoeya - "a youth paradise turned into a hell" - a few hours after the attack took place. Many others were injured there as well as those who died.

Mr Stoltenberg said civil servants were among the dead in Oslo and he knew some of those killed. "Beyond that I cannot give further details while the police carry out their investigation."

He said it was too early too comment on a possible motive for the attacks. No group has said it carried them out.

The suspect is reported by local media to have had links with right-wing extremists. He has been named as Anders Behring Breivik. Police searched his Oslo apartment overnight.

The BBC's Richard Galpin, near the island, says that Norway has had problems with neo-Nazi groups in the past but the assumption was that such groups had been largely eliminated and did not pose a significant threat.