Speaker Boehner Honors The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaker of the House John Boehner

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / SPEAKER.GOV) — Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

“With words that continue to inspire, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged our country to look inward and honor the promises our forebears made to secure the blessings of liberty.  Reverend King stressed faith and grace in his quest to achieve freedom and equality for all, preaching that the ‘time is always right to do what is right.’  Recent events have reminded us that whatever our differences may be, we can disagree without being disagreeable to each other, and we can seek to be right without being self-righteous.  Reverend King led a committed life, and it is right that we continue to honor his memory and reflect on his legacy.”  (*)

Tunisia unrest: Renewed anti-government protests

Tunisia, Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / BBC)  — New protests have broken out on the streets of Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, hours before the expected announcement of a new national unity government.

Police used water cannon to disperse several hundred demonstrators calling for the party of ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to relinquish power.

The country has been in a state of emergency since he fled on Friday.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has said an agreement between the political parties would be unveiled later.

Mr Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years, fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday after a month of mounting protests across the country over unemployment, food price rises and corruption.

Mixed atmosphere

Monday’s protesters shouted slogans against Mr Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), says the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Tunis, as they made it clear they wanted the ruling party to have no place in the new government.

The atmosphere was mixed, adds our correspondent, with the sound of teargas being fired and gunshots ringing out during occasional skirmishes, interspersed with scenes of celebration and a rendition of the national anthem.

Mr Ghannouchi – who was also prime minister during Mr Ben Ali’s rule – has pledged rapid action to fill the power vacuum, after being asked to form a government by interim President Foued Mebazaa, the former speaker of the parliament.

Sources close to the negotiations with opposition parties are quoted as saying some portfolios have already been agreed.

After a night of fighting between troops and gunmen loyal to Mr Ben Ali, tanks were patrolling in the capital and other cities in an attempt to restore order on Monday.

Meanwhile France urged Tunisia to quickly form a new government and denounced “criminal gangs” which it said were opposing the change of government.

Days of violence have cut off supplies to shops and petrol stations, causing shortages. Correspondents say many people just want life to get back to normal and are keen for details of the unity government to be announced.

The demonstrations gained momentum in December after a 26-year-old unemployed man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in protest against a lack of jobs in the country. He died in early January.

Amid concerns the protests may spread across the region, a man set himself on fire outside the Egyptian parliament buildings in Cairo on Monday. His motivation was not immediately clear.

There have also been several such incidents in Algeria which, like Egypt and Tunisia, has high unemployment and has been facing political unrest.

‘Zero tolerance’

Secular leftist Moncef Marzouki has said he will challenge for the presidency in elections which, under the present Tunisian constitution, must be held within 60 days.

In the meantime, Mr Ghannouchi has pledged “zero tolerance” against anyone threatening the security of the country.

But the country remains volatile, and there was heavy gunfire at the Presidential Palace in Carthage, north of Tunis, overnight. In Tunis fighting also continued at the the presidential residence and the interior ministry, where two gunmen firing from a nearby roof were reportedly shot dead by security forces.

The BBC’s Wyre Davies, in Tunis, says that while the Tunisian army does not appear to be interfering in the process of political reform, the motives of some members of the police and security services loyal to the ousted president may be more sinister.

The former head of the presidential security force, Ali Seriati, was arrested on Sunday and accused of threatening state security by fomenting violence.

Meanwhile, long queues have appeared at petrol stations and many people are complaining of food shortages caused by the unrest.

On Sunday evening, some Tunis residents blocked roads with makeshift barriers of branches and bins, in an attempt to protect their homes from looters.

Also in Tunis, people have been tearing down the massive portraits of Mr Ben Ali, some of them several stories high, that hung from lampposts and billboards.

There have also been attacks targeting businesses and buildings connected with the former president and his family.

In another development, a group of Swedish nationals – who said they were in the country on a wild boar hunting trip – were attacked and badly beaten in Tunis after it is believed they were mistaken for a group of foreign mercenaries.  (*)

Photostream : Operation Jonathan at Entebbe Airport in Uganda ( 1976 )

Photo : Entebbe Airport in 1976. The Old Entebbe airport is now used by Uganda's military forces and was the scene of a hostage rescue operation by Israeli Sayeret Matkal, dubbed Operation Entebbe, in 1976, after an Arab-German hijacking of Air France Flight 139 out of Tel Aviv. The scene of that particular rescue was "the old airport", which was recently demolished except for its control tower. The successful rescue, named Operation Thunderbolt, is sometimes referred to as OPERATION JONATHAN in memory of the unit's leader, Jonathan Netanyahu. He was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, currently the Prime Minister of Israel.

Photo : The old tower of Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. Now used as part of the military facility at the airport. Photo by Wikipedia

Operation Entebbe : Operation Entebbe, also known as the Entebbe Raid or Operation Thunderbolt, was a counter-terrorism hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on the night of July 3 and early morning of July 4, 1976.

Photo : The black Mercedes of the fighters of 'Sayeret Matkal'. A black Mercedes with accompanying Land Rovers was taken along to give the impression that the Israeli troops driving from the landed aircraft to the terminal building were an escort for a returning Idi Amin or other high-ranking official. The Mercedes car was borrowed from an Israeli civilian and apparently spray-painted black for the raid, on the understanding that it would be returned to the owner in its original colour. The Mercedes and its escort vehicles were quickly driven by the Israeli assault team members to the airport terminal in the same fashion as Amin. However, along the way, two Ugandan sentries, who were aware that Idi Amin had recently purchased a white Mercedes to replace his black one, ordered this procession of vehicles to stop. Both of these sentries were immediately shot dead by the Israeli commandos. Fearing premature alerting of associates to the hijackers, the Israeli assault team was quickly sent into action.

In July 1976, Israeli commandos rescued hostages held for a week aboard a hijacked Air France plane at at Entebbe airport in Uganda. WIKIPEDIA : Hostage rescue The Israelis sprang from their vehicles and burst towards the terminal. The hostages were in the main hall of the airport building, directly adjacent to the runway. Upon entering the terminal, the commandos were shouting through a megaphone, "Stay down! Stay down! We are Israeli soldiers." in both Hebrew and English. (Photo by Independent.Co.UK)

Rescue plane takes off. (Photo: Yaakov Saar GPO / Ynet )

(KNESSET.GOV.IL) Operation Entebbe : was a rescue mission performed by several IDF units in Uganda – 4,000 kilometers from Israel – on July 4th 1976, for the liberation of 98 Jewish and Israeli hostages. On June 27th, an Air France aircraft was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists. The hijackers landed the plane at Benghazi, Libya and flew it from there to Entebbe in Uganda, where all non-Jewish passengers were freed. Israel had tried to develop a dialogue with Ugandan President Idi Amin, who collaborated with the terrorists. Simultaneously, preparations began for a military operation, based on intelligence regarding the situation in the Entebbe Airport. Following the Government’s decision to go forward with the plan, four transport aircrafts took off from Sharm el-Sheikh en route to Entebbe. The raid on the airport resulted in five Israeli casualties: IDF officer Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu (brother of MK and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu); Dora Bloch, an elderly woman hospitalized during the raid and murdered after the raid (her remains were returned to Israel in June 1979); Ida Borochovitch, Jean Jacques Maimoni, and Pasko Cohen were killed during the Operation. On the return flight, the planes landed in Nairobi, Kenya for refueling to attend to the fatally wounded with medical care. IDF Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur announced it at first as an emergency landing, but it seemed to have been coordinated with Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta. Various Arab countries and groups, the Communist Bloc, and many African countries condemned the Entebbe Operation and referred to it as a pirate act, while Western countries praised it. The United Nations’ Security Council did not conclude a resolution in this matter. Israel was in high spirits, and the operation improved the social atmosphere within the IDF. The operation was congruent with Israel’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists, whatever risks are at stake. On July 4th 1976, a festive plenum sitting was held in which the Government announced the liberation of the hostages in Uganda. Knesset Speaker, Yisrael Yeshayahu, before allowing the Prime Minister to speak, read from Psalms: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good…". ( (Photo : KNESSET.GOV.IL)

Hostages return : Israeli hostages on their return to Israel after Operation Entebbe on 3rd July 1976, in which, Israeli special forces rescued 100 hostages held at Entebbe Airport in Uganda by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine following their hijack of Air France Flight 139. The raid also resulted in the deaths of all six hijackers, three hostages, 45 Ugandan soldiers and one Israeli soldier. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hostages rescued after Entebbe operation. Israel News photo.

JOY AT RESCUE OF HOSTAGES : Operation Entebbe (Thunderbolt) was a hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976. An Air France plane with 300 passengers was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and supporters. Shortly after landing, all non-Jewish passengers were released. Israeli transport planes carried 100 elite commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue operation. The operation, lasted 90 minutes. 103 hostages were escued. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed. One IDF commander, Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed. He was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, currently the Prime Minister of Israel. The operation is often referred to as “OPERATION JONATHAN.”


Jonathan Netanyahu's (hero of Entebbe) grave at Mr. Hertzl

Ynet (5/5/2008) : Operation Entebbe tapes publicized

King Juan Carlos of Spain to visit Russia Feb. 25

Photo File : Spain's Crown Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia of Spain, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva, Spain's King Juan Carlos and Spain's Princess Letizia, from left, pose for a picture before a gala dinner at the Royal Palace in Madrid, Monday, March 2, 2009. (AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)

Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / RIA NOVOSTI) — King Juan Carlos of Spain is expected to visit Russia on February 25, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said on Monday.

The king will visit St. Petersburg, accompanied by the country’s foreign minister and industry minister, Jimenez said at a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov.

Juan Carlos is expected to meet with top executives of leading Russian companies, she added.

Zhukov recalled that 2011 is the Year of Spain in Russia and the Year of Russia in Spain.

“It is very nice that the Year of Russia in Spain and the Year of Spain in Russia is starting against the backdrop of very good ties between our countries, both on the political and economic level,” he said.  (*)

Photostream : Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visits Greece

Visiting Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) talks with Greece's Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos during their meeting in Athens, January 14, 2011. Lieberman is on a three-day visit in Athens. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

Greek President Karolos Papoulias, right, welcomes Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. The Greek and Israeli cabinets will hold a joint session this year as part of accelerated efforts to end decades of cool relations and boost trade, Lieberman said Wednesday. Israel's Foreign Minister is in Greece on a four-day official visit. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greek Prime Minister Georges Papandreou (L) speaks with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during their meeting in Athens on January 13, 2011. Lieberman is on a three-day visit to Greece for talks as Athens announced the two countries would set up a joint cooperation ministerial panel to boost ties. As reported by The Athens News, in statements after their meeting, Lieberman highlighted cooperation between the two sides in tourism but noted, in response to questions, that cooperation in natural gas would require "detailed study". He underlined the value of economic cooperation that he said would be the "challenge of the years to come" and that this should begin as soon as possible. Concerning Greece's role in the Middle East, Lieberman said that this would be successful "if Greece can contribute to strengthening Israel's ties with its neighbouring countries".Regarding the planned Greece-Israel ministerial council, the Israeli foreign minister said that this would probably hold its first meeting in three months, while Droutsas said that the first meeting would take place in Israel and deal with issues such as culture, tourism, agriculture, energy and high technology. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visits the Acropolis archaeological site in Athens on January 14, 2011. Lieberman is in Athens on a three-day official visit for talks with Greek top officials. (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Nasrallah: US and Israel caused Lebanese gov't collapse

Photo File : Sheik Hassan Nasrallah

BEIRUT, Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / JERUSALEM POST) — The leader of Hizbullah defended the decision to bring down Lebanon’s Western-backed government, saying the Shi’ite militant group did so without resorting to violence and will not be intimidated by world reaction.

In his first comments since the government collapse on Wednesday, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also said Sunday that his bloc will not support Sa’ad Hariri returning to his post as prime minister in talks Monday on forming a new government.

“We carried out a constitutional, legal and democratic step to bring down the government. We did not use weapons,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “We are not scared of speeches, statements or anyone’s threats in this world.”

Eleven ministers allied to Hizbullah resigned from the Cabinet on Wednesday, enough to force the government to fall.

The crisis is the climax of long-simmering tensions over the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The court is expected to indict members of Hizbullah, which could re-ignite hostilities between Lebanon’s rival Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims. Rafik Hariri was a Sunni.

Hizbullah is Lebanon’s most powerful military force, with an arsenal that far outweighs that of the national army.

Sa’ad Hariri had refused Hizbullah’s demands to cease cooperation with the court, prompting Wednesday’s walkout.

Nasrallah’s speech was seen as important sign of his movement’s mindset at a time when many fear the country’s political tension could descend into civil strife. His demeanor was calm and he emphasized that Hizbullah will work for change through democratic means.

The US has denounced Hizbullah’s walkout as a transparent effort to subvert justice.

“The tribunal is an independent, international judicial process whose work is not subject to political influence, either from inside Lebanon or from outside,” US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly said Sunday after meeting with Hariri. “The efforts by the Hizbullah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.”

Since his ouster, Hariri has tried to rally international support in the US, France and Turkey.

The leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Syria will meet in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Monday to discuss the political crisis, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported.

Lengthy negotiations lie ahead between Lebanon’s Western-backed blocs and the Hizbullah led-alliance. If those fail, Lebanon could see a resurgence of the street protests and violence that have bedeviled the country in the past.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman will launch formal talks Monday on creating a new government, polling lawmakers on their choice before nominating a prime minister. According to Lebanon’s power-sharing system, the president must be a Christian Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shiite.

Each faith makes up about a third of Lebanon’s population of 4 million. (*)

Plane with Russian tourists from riots-hit Tunisia lands in Moscow

European tour operators have already evacuated thousands of vacationers from the North African country, which is a popular tourist destination

Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / RIA NOVOSTI) — A Boeing 767 of the Transaero airline carrying 240 Russian tourists from riots-hit Tunisia – has landed in Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, the airport said.

The plane left Monastir Airport in Tunisia on Sunday following protests that turned violent on Friday.

Tunisia plunged into chaos in mid-December, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the state’s economic policies. So far, more than 70 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured in the riots.

European tour operators have already evacuated thousands of vacationers from the North African country, which is a popular tourist destination.

Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled his country after anti-government protests, dubbed the Jasmine Revolution, on Friday. Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi then took over as Tunisia’s interim leader.

However, following the protests against the country’s new leader, Tunisia’s Constitutional Council on Saturday declared parliament speaker Foued Mebazaa as the country’s new interim president. The council called for early presidential elections in 60 days. (*)

Hamas leader promises to rebuild all Gaza houses

PHOTO FILE : Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gives a speech to Palestinians and international peace activists inside al-Garbi mosque at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City October 22, 2010. Hundreds of international peace activists arrived in Gaza on Thursday in a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies, to show solidarity with Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip, an official in the convoy said. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

RAMALLAH, Jan. 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Hamas will rebuild all houses that were destroyed or damaged during Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip two years ago, its leader in Gaza announced Sunday.

“We have got the money to complete the first phase of the project and we will lay the cornerstone within 48 hours,” said Ismail Haneya, the deposed premier of Hamas’ government.

Haneya made his announcement during a conference in Gaza City. He did not reveal where his government got the money from.

In March 2009, international donors, meeting in the Red Sea Egyptian resort of Sharm Al-Sheikh, pledged more than 4 billion U. S. dollars to rebuild houses and infrastructure that was destroyed in Israel’s three-week offensive in the winter of 2008-09.

However, the international projects could not begin because the international community doesn’t deal with Hamas.

Pledging that the project will include “every destroyed house,” Haneya added that the reconstruction “is a clear message to everybody who bet on the fall” of the Islamic movement which seized Gaza by force in 2007.

The Israeli assault, codenamed Operation Cast Lead, left some 1, 400 Palestinians dead and destroyed thousands of structures, most of them houses.

Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in 2006, tightened its grip on Gaza after it routed security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and ousted his Fatah party, leaving the Palestinian National Authority confined to the West Bank.  (*)

Lebanese opposition agrees not to nominate Saad Hariri as PM: Hezbollah

Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is seen on broadcat screens at Hezbollah owned al-Manar TV in Beirut during his speech on January 16, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO (Photo credit should read ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIRUT, Jan. 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Leader of the Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that the opposition had agreed not to nominate Saad Hariri for the post of prime minister in mandatory consultations scheduled on Monday, after the government collapsed as 11 ministers resigned last week.

“The opposition decided unanimously not to name Hariri tomorrow, ” the chief of Lebanon’s Shiite armed group said in a televised speech, while refusing to name their candidate for the post.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called for binding consultations with lawmakers on Monday to form a new government.

Hariri’s government collapsed on Wednesday after Hezbollah and their allies in the March 8 coalition resigned in a dispute over indictment expected to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which has been probing his father’s assassination.

The indictment, which the UN-backed court’s tribunal is expected to submit to Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen on Monday, is widely believed to implicate “rogue” members of Hezbollah.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah would reveal in the coming days its plan to defend itself against the indictment.

“We will not allow our reputation and our dignity to be tarnished,” he said.

“We will not permit anyone to conspire against us or to unjustly accuse us of killing (Rafic Hariri),” Nasrallah said in the speech.

The Hezbollah chief reiterated that the Netherlands-based STL was a U.S.-Israeli tool to target Lebanon’s resistance against Israel.

“We will act to defend our dignity, our existence and our reputation,” he said.  (*)

`Social Network' friends Globes with 4 prizes

In this publicity image released by NBC, David Fincher accepts the award for Best Director in a Motion Picture for 'The Social Network' during the Golden Globe Awards, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – The Facebook tale “The Social Network” won top honors Sunday at the Golden Globes with four prizes, including best drama and director, solidifying its prospects as an Academy Awards favorite.

Winning the dramatic lead-acting prizes were Colin Firth for the British monarchy saga “The King’s Speech” and Natalie Portman for the psychosexual thriller “Black Swan.”

Lead-acting honors for the Globes’ musical or comedy categories went to Annette Bening for the lesbian-family story “The Kids Are All Right” and Paul Giamatti for the curmudgeon tale “Barney’s Version.”

The boxing drama “The Fighter” earned both supporting acting Globes, for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.

David Fincher, directing winner for “The Social Network,” said he thought it was strange when “The Social Network” script came to him, since he usually makes dark character studies about misanthropes or films about serial killers. His films include the murder tales “Seven” and “Zodiac.”

“I’m personally loath to acknowledge the kind of wonderful response this film has received for fear of becoming addicted to it, so suffice it to say, it’s been really nice,” said Fincher, whose film also won the Globes for screenplay for Aaron Sorkin and musical score for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Sorkin, creator of TV’s “The West Wing,” had kind words for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network.”

“Mark Zuckerberg, if you’re watching, Rooney Mara makes a prediction at the beginning of the movie. She was wrong. You turned out to be a great entrepreneur, a great visionary and an incredible altruist,” Sorkin said.

While “The Social Network” dominated, it was a night with something for almost everybody, as most key films came away with prizes. The main snub was for the sci-fi blockbuster “Inception,” a best-drama contender that had four nominations but lost them all. Johnny Depp, who had two nominations for best musical or comedy actor, also left empty-handed.

The win by Portman as a ballerina coming unhinged amid a production of “Swan Lake” sets her up for a two-woman showdown for best actress at the Feb. 27 Oscars with Bening, who won for her role as a stern lesbian mom in “The Kids Are All Right,” which also was named best musical or comedy film.

Portman thanked the film’s choreographer, her fiance Benjamin Millepied, with whom she’s expecting a child. He also appears in the movie, and his character doesn’t want to sleep with hers.

“He’s the best actor! It’s not true, he totally wants to sleep with me,” Portman said, giggling.

“Barney’s Version” follows the many loves in his life: his three wives, played by Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike, whom Giamatti described as “a trifecta of hotties.”

“I got to smoke and drink and get laid in this movie and I got paid for it. An amazing, amazing thing,” Giamatti said.

Bening won the musical or comedy actress prize in a field that included “The Kids Are All Right” co-star Julianne Moore. The film stars Bening and Moore as a couple whose family falls into turmoil after their teen children seek out the sperm donor that fathered them.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this very special film about two women who are deeply in love and try to keep their family together,” Bening said. “My partner, Julianne Moore, I have to thank first. She asked me to do the picture with her. She made it possible for us to shoot it where we shot it, when we did, so Julianne — you are a class act, thank you.”

The buzz around town on Globes weekend was not only about likely winners, but also about a lawsuit filed Thursday by a former longtime publicist for the Globes claiming the organization that runs the show, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, engages in payola schemes for nominations and awards. The allegations have been denied by the HFPA, a group of about 90 reporters covering show business for overseas outlets.

Ricky Gervais returned as Globes host for the second-straight year. Gervais joked that Globe nomineesweren’t picked just so that Globe voters could hang out with stars such as Depp.

“They also accepted bribes,” Gervais said, referring to the publicist lawsuit.

Philip Berk, who heads the HFPA, made no reference to the lawsuit during his appearance early in the show, simply offering a perfunctory plug for the quality of Hollywood movies.

Gervais pulled few punches as the night progressed, mocking Hugh Hefner, Charlie Sheen, Cher, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Scientologists and Robert Downey Jr., among others.

“Aside from the fact that it’s been hugely mean-spirited, with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn’t you?” Downey, a presenter, shot back, perhaps only half-jokingly.

Bale, who won for his role as a former boxer whose career unraveled amid drugs and crime, thanked his collaborators on “The Fighter,” among them director David O. Russell and star and producer Mark Wahlberg, who plays boxer Micky Ward to Bale’s Dicky Eklund, Ward’s older half brother.

“I’ve really got to give a shout out to Mark, because he drove this whole movie, and you can only give a loud performance like the one I gave when you have a quiet anchor and a stoic character,” Bale said. “I’ve played that one many times, and it never gets any notice.”

Bale seems to be on the same awards track as his “Batman” co-star, the late Heath Ledger, was two years ago, when he won supporting actor at the Globes for “The Dark Knight” on the way to earning a posthumous Oscar.

Leo, who plays the domineering mother of Ward and Eklund, had gushing words for all of her co-stars — along with her own mother and other ancestors.

“Here in Southern California, home of my mother, her mother, her mother before her — look Mom, I got a Golden Globe!” Leo said. “Mark Wahlberg, you are a prince, you are amazing. It was so beautiful to play your mother.”

“Toy Story 3,” the top-grossing film released last year and the second sequel to 1995’s digital animation pioneer “Toy Story,” won the Globe for animated films, making Disney’s Pixar Animation unit five-for-five in the category since it was added in 2006. Past Pixar winners are “Up,” “WALL-E,” “Ratatouille” and “Cars.”

“Wow, were you two even born when the first `Toy Story’ came out?” “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich said to his award’s presenters, 16-year-old pop star Justin Bieber and 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, co-star of the hit Western “True Grit.”

Robert De Niro received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement.

The usually taciturn De Niro gave an uncharacteristically interesting acceptance speech, making jokes about members of the HFPA being deported (along with most of the waiters working the event) and suggesting that most people in the room hadn’t seen a lot of the films he was proud of, including “Stone,” “Marvin’s Room” and “Stanley and Iris.”

“Some of you would be seeing them for the first time. You didn’t even watch the screeners, did you?” De Niro said.

Among TV winners, “Glee” won three prizes, best comedy and supporting-acting prizes for Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer. “Boardwalk Empire” won two prizes, for best drama and dramatic actor for Steve Buscemi.

The Globe ceremony traditionally had a strong track record as a forecast for what film would win best picture at the Oscars. But the two shows have split in recent times, with only one top Globe recipient — 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire” — also winning the main prize at the Oscars over the past six years.

A year ago, the sci-fi sensation “Avatar” won best drama at the Globes, but the Iraq War saga “The Hurt Locker” took best picture at the Oscars. (*)

Glee and The Social Network dominate Golden Globes

Glee won three awards in all, including that for best musical or comedy TV series

Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / BBC) — The Social Network and Glee were the main winners at the Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

The former, about the creation of the Facebook website, was named best film drama, winning additional prizes for its direction, screenplay and music.

The latter, about a high school musical group, won best TV musical or comedy as well as two supporting actor prizes.

As expected, Colin Firth was named best actor in a drama for his role in The King’s Speech.

Yet while the British movie began the evening with seven nominations – more than any other film – this was to be its only award of the night.

Its star, recognised for his role as stammering monarch King George VI, jokingly thanked the gala’s organisers for helping him stave off a midlife crisis.

“Right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson,” he said of his award, going on to thank his fellow actors in the royal period drama.

Few were surprised when Natalie Portman was named best dramatic actress for her role as a ballet dancer in Black Swan.

The actress, who is expecting a baby, used her acceptance speech to thank her parents for “bringing me into this world and giving me this beautiful life”.

The Kids are All Right – about a lesbian couple reunited with the biological father of their teenage children – was named best musical or comedy, winning an additional prize for star Annette Bening.

Bening, who beat co-star Julianne Moore to the best actress in a comedy prize, called Moore “a class act” for her role in getting the film made.

Batman star Christian Bale picked up the first prize of the evening, winning best supporting actor for his role in The Fighter.

Melissa Leo later received the female equivalent for playing his mother in the fact-based boxing movie.

Johnny Depp had begun the evening with two nominations in the best actor in a musical or comedy category.

Yet he left empty-handed after Paul Giamatti was named the winner for his role as a boozy romantic in Barney’s Version.

“I got paid to smoke and drink and have sex in this movie,” said the US actor, going on to “salute the great nation of Canada” where his film was shot.

Colin Firth

Firth’s award was the only honour for The King’s Speech

HBO show Boardwalk Empire was named best drama series, winning an additional accolade for its lead actor Steve Buscemi.

Toy Story 3 won the best animated film prize, while Al Pacino was recognised for playing right-to-die activist Jack Kervorkian in mini-series You Don’t Know Jack.

British comic Ricky Gervais was the event’s outspoken host, beginning the event with jokes aimed at Charlie Sheen, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and the female stars of Sex and the City.

“It seems like everything was 3D this year – except the characters from The Tourist,” he said in a jibe aimed at Depp’s critically slated romantic comedy.

The Office creator, hosting the ceremony for the second consecutive year, continued with jokes made at the expense of Bruce Willis, Robert Downey Jr and Heather Mills.

Yet he was conspicuously absent later on in the show, failing to make an appearance for more than an hour of the three-hour NBC telecast.

Natalie Portman

Portman’s baby bump was evident as she collected her statuette

Hollywood veteran Robert De Niro was warmly welcomed as he collected a lifetime achievement award from actor Matt Damon.

But it was Michael Douglas who got the most rousing reception of the evening as he came on stage to present the night’s final award.

“There’s got to be a better way to get a standing ovation,” joked the actor, who was recently treated for throat cancer.

Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire subject of The Social Network, was thanked in absentia by the film’s director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin.

The latter, best known as the creator of TV show The West Wing, said the Facebook founder was “a great entrepreneur, a great visionary and an incredible altruist”.

Elsewhere British actress Helena Bonham Carter made a notable fashion statement by wearing differently coloured shoes – one red, one green – on the traditional red carpet.

The latter colour was a popular choice, with Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones and Black Swan star Mila Kunis all sporting gowns of that distinctive hue.

Both movies and TV shows are recognised at the Golden Globes, presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

The recipients of its film honours often go on to receive further accolades at the Academy Awards, to be held this year on 27 February. (*)

U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords upgraded from critical to serious

Mark Kelly, the husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, holds his wife's hand in the congresswoman's hospital room at University Medical Center, January 9, 2011.

Jan 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ medical condition was upgraded from critical to serious on Sunday, eight days after she was shot through the head by a gunman at close range.

Doctors said they upgraded Giffords’ condition because she was no longer attached to a ventilator, having replaced a breathing tube in her throat with a tracheotomy tube inserted into her windpipe on Saturday.

“She is breathing on her own,” said a statement released by the University Medical Center in Tucson. “Yesterday’s procedures were successful and uneventful.”

Doctors also have fitted Giffords with a feeding tube, a practice not uncommon for patients in intensive care with brain injuries.

Giffords, 40, had been the only patient in critical condition from a shooting last Saturday that left 12 other people wounded. Six more gunshot victims died in the rampage. One patient was discharged on Saturday, leaving two others hospitalized in good condition.

A 22-year-old college dropout, Jared Lee Loughner, was arrested for the shootings. He is charged with five federal counts, including the murder of a federal judge and the attempted assassination of Giffords.

Federal authorities are planning to move Loughner’s trial to San Diego because of extensive pretrial publicity in Arizona, The Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing federal law enforcement sources.

They cited publicity and the sensitivity of the case in Arizona, where one of those fatally shot was John Roll, the state’s chief federal judge, the Post said.

The new chief judge, Roslyn Silver, will make the final decision about any venue change, but one law enforcement official told the Post, “it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.”

The rampage sparked a national debate about whether the vitriolic tone of partisan politics in the United States in recent years had contributed to the suspect’s motivations. (*)

Zsa Zsa Gabor jokes about losing a leg

Gabor, 93, was "doing better" Sunday after having her right leg amputated on Friday.


Los Angeles, Jan 16 (KATAKAMI / CNN) — When Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband told the actress Saturday night that her right leg was amputated Friday she joked about it, Prince Frederic Von Anhalt said Sunday.

“She said ‘I’m gonna die anyhow,'” Von Anhalt said.

Gabor, 93, was “doing better” Sunday and the doctor told him “the wound looks very good, better than expected,” he said.

Von Anhalt didn’t tell his wife what was about to happen when she was being rolled into surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He said he feared she might become hysterical or have a heart attack if she knew they were going to amputate her right leg above the knee.

She was suffering from a large, deep lesion that proved resistant to antibiotics, her surgeon said.

Dr. David Rigberg, the vascular surgeon who did the amputation, said Friday doctors were “guarded in our opinion on how she’s going to do overall.”

“She didn’t come in from home in very good health, so it’s difficult for me to predict how long she’s going to be here,” Dr. Rigberg said.

“The next seven days are going to be very crucial,” Von Anhalt said Sunday.

Gabor’s only child, daughter Francesca Hilton, complained that doctors had been ordered by Von Anhalt not to talk to her or let her see her mother.

Hilton has maintained a strained relationship with Von Anhalt, Gabor’s ninth and current husband of 23 years.

In November, Gabor was hospitalized for a swollen leg, her husband said at the time. Paramedics initially suspected Gabor suffered from a blood clot in her left leg, but an emergency room doctor at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center later determined she had an infection, according to Von Anhalt.

Gabor has been frail and “pretty much confined to a wheelchair” since a 2002 car accident, Von Anhalt has said. The crash happened when the car in which she was riding with her hairdresser slammed into a light pole on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

She had hip replacement surgery last year after she suffered a fall in her home.

The Hungarian-born actress, the second of the three celebrated Gabor sisters, is most famous for her many marriages. Among her husbands was Oscar-winning actor George Sanders. (*)



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