Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beijing Olympics 2008, All Set To Start

Despite a warning issued to the Chinese government by the IOC President Jacques Rogge that some endurance events might have to be postponed to a different time of day if pollution levels are very high, the Beijing (Summer) Olympics 2008 is all and everything set to start this August 8, 2008 in which the opening ceremony is scheduled to be graced by the United States President George W. Bush and the First Lady, Laura Bush. The White House has defended American president’s stance of attending the opening ceremony regardless of criticisms and oppositions from pro-human rights groups due to the China’s reported widespread human rights violation along with Tibetans, Uyghurs and even to its own people – controversial issues of capital punishment, one-child policy and restrictions of press freedom.

As the symbolic Olympic Village Key was received by Chen Zhili, the ‘Mayor of the Village’ in a ceremony held last July 27, the Chinese athletes led by NBA Star Yao Ming, were the first contingent to check into, out of more than 16,000 competitors who are expected to occupy the village complex. On the same occasion the Chinese National Flag was raised.

“We now welcome athletes from around the world to come to the Games … We will try to satisfy the needs of people from different cultural and religious backgrounds,” she emphasized on her speech as she holds the symbolic gold key given by Liu Qi, president of the organizing committee who is also the head of the Beijing Communist Party.

Yet, dealing with the city’s pollution problem is one of the biggest challenges the Beijing Summer Games is facing-up. According to the World Health Organization, the pollution figures for Beijing are still far from its recommended target level. Last July 20, the Chinese government launched a pollution reduction plan. These draconian measures failed to make a dent, and the air quality got worse, shrouding the capital like a heavy fog, choking people and choking off the sunlight – thus the city failed to produce a blue day.

On Wednesday, as thousands of world-class athletes are heading for the country for the start of the Olympic Games, Chinese officials announce a more intensive emergency pollution plan which is to be implemented. It calls for more closing of factories, complete stop to all construction projects and additional reduction of the quantity of vehicles on the streets and driving restrictions – last digit odd/even plate number schemes – odd numbers for one day and even numbers on the next day, alternately.

These extra measures are not solely for the city of Beijing but it also includes Tianjin City and Hebei province. With cooler wind and pouring rains last Tuesday, eased-up to help sweep away pollutants generating a dropped in pollution level, the lowest reading since July 20 plan took effect. It is expected that a cooler temperature and less hazy skies on August 8, the day of the opening ceremony.

The improvement in air quality reflects the effectiveness of the latest strategy, according to Du Shaozhong, the deputy director of Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau. He even told reporters, “We have seen comprehensive measures implemented already and we have seen that they have had comprehensive results … If we still don’t have ideal air quality for the Games, we will take more measures, and they will be measures that are similar to what has already been taken but to a higher degree …”

The symbolic key given to the 'Village Mayor'

A preview of a part of the 'Amazing' opening ceremony

A video report on Beijing pollution

A video update on the Grand Opening Ceremony

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Pics of Baby Susan Juliette & Thomas Beatie, showed on People Magazine

Four weeks after she was born, baby Susan Juliette and her trannie father were featured on a US publication – People Magazine exclusive issue this week. Of course this is not for free but for a rumored amount of US$300,000! Susan Juliette was conceived (via artificial insemination through a third party sperm donor) by Thomas Beatie, the famous “Pregnat Man” and was given birth at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon on June 29 weighing 9lbs, 5oz; three months after news of her pioneering conception made controversial headlines all across the globe.

Thomas also reveals to the magazine, even though all his little daughter can do at this stage is sleep and poop he thinks his baby is smart and strong and will grow up to be extraordinary – is it because Susan Juliette has an extraordinary father? What a poor baby! It is tempting to say ... this child is going to live a confusing life because his father as he claimed to be, "The World's Most Pregnant Man," loves the spotlight. Is this the way to be concerned about the well-being of this child?

Although Beatie gave birth to this blue-eyed baby, Nancy, his wife has taken on the role of breastfeeding through induced lactation – using hormones and a breast pump to stimulate breast milk production. For the baby, breastfeeding is vital while for Nancy, this is a very responsible act.

In regards to the payout for the exclusive photos, there’s no word yet for a charity. Anyway it is only six digit figures which are worth for keeping compared to Jolie-Pitt’s twins nearing now to US$20,000,000 and the seven digit figures of Nicole Ritchie and Jamie-Lynn Spears' off-spring. Beatie still looks a very happy Dad, yet one wonders if Beatie couldn't have gotten a better deal.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sienna Miller Sues Two UK News Agencies for Breach of Privacy

(Warning: Matured Content – Terms and languages might be offensive, including the video, as well as the clickable images.)

After British tabloids published nude photos of Brit actress Sienna Miller publicly smooching a married man and a father of four – Balthazar Getty, she is now suing those news agencies for breach of privacy. The actress claims both publications invaded her privacy by snapping the lewd shots and break the news of her clandestine relationship with Getty.

The lawsuit filed by the topless homewrecker doesn’t specify which photos of those scandalous images that ran across the globe which has caused a quick whirlwind of gossips and blog reactions both on print media and the web. Those topless photos were taken while she and the oil heir-actor (star of 'Brothers & Sisters') were having their lovefest vacation last week in the Amalfi Coast, Italy – one of the most beautiful and exclusive parts of the Mediterranean.

Balthazar Getty, 33 and Sienna Miller (Born in New York and moved to UK), 26 have been spending a lot of time with each other in recent months. They were first spotted together around Los Angeles, having dinner at an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills and meeting at the Chateau Marmont Hotel, the place where they first met in LA. Sienna could be spending even more time with Getty as she is looking to buy a home in West Hollywood. Although there are rumors earlier this month that he is cheating on his wife, he vehemently denied it. Sienna on the other hand has some expertise of demonstrating the least inconspicuous way of having affair to married men even in the past.

Actually, this is already the second time she sued the Sun and the News of the World for publishing a nude photos of her. The first was when it published an “intrusive” photo of the actress filming a nude scene for a movie. Last December, she was awarded about US$80,000. This time around might be a much larger amount of payout as she expected since this stupid skank is seemingly very upset.

The least shocking news went out thereafter; Balthazar Getty and his wife Rosetta Millington (8 years of marriage with whom he has four children where his youngest kid is just nine months) are separating. Thanks to "embarrassing" photos of Getty touching and passionately kissing actress Sienna Miller who seems to have a pathological need to be topless with douchebags who cheat on their wives in public.

It is undeniable; Sienna Miller sets to tramp it around the world for publicity sake and after a while, she made a querulous nagging complaint about privacy? What do you think about how she defines privacy herself? Does steaming up in front of a hotel window define one of these?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

5 Lebanese Prisoners Plus 199 Remains of Palestinian Fighters Swap for 2 Bodies of Israeli Soldiers

Hezbollah handed over the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, two captured Israeli soldiers, in return for five Lebanese prisoners and 199 militants' bodies, early Wednesday, July 16, 2008. The abduction of these two servicemen instigated the Israeli-Hezbollah fighting of 2006 in South Lebanon. This exchange marked the painful and closing chapter of the said Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon.

According to Lebanon's Al-Manar TV, as it quoted Wafik Safa, a senior Hezbollah official at the border as saying the bodies of these two soldiers were in a "mutilated" state sustained from injuries they suffered during the July 12, 2006 Israeli raid that lasted for 34 days which left more than 1,200 dead in Lebanon, majority of them were civilians, and about 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The Jewish state staged hundreds of airstrikes on various Lebanese targets yet, they failed to crush the guerrillas, sparking domestic criticism of Ehud Olmert’s government and the army. On the other hand, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets on Israeli towns, in it drawing criticism at home as well for dragging the country to war.

For the Hezbollah and its supporters, it is a festive preparation for the return of Samir Kantar and the four other Lebanese prisoners. It is believe that this has promised to boost the radical Islamic militia. While for Israel, this is a sharp contrast to the sorrow that swept across the land with the images of the two simple black coffins taken out by Hezbollah guerillas from a black GMC van as it was seen on TV.

Samir Kantar, a Lebanese Druse was a convicted murderer of a policeman, Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, thereby, also led to the death their second daughter – while Haran’s wife tried to stifle her cry by accidental smothering. He was pardoned by the Iraeli President Shimon Peres with the concurrence of his cabinet in order to facilitate Kantar’s release from prison who remain incarcerated since that deadly mission in 1979, finally consummating the prisoners exchange deal mediated by a German political negotiator appointed by the United Nations.

President Peres said on Tuesday, "It was not a happy day having to free Samir Kantar but we have a responsibility to bring our soldiers home."

Several questions may arise regarding this carefully choreographed swapping. Is it a fair deal between five live captives + 199 bodies against 2 Israeli corpses? What achievement will it reach in terms of Israeli-Lebanese relations? What kind and what level of victory did the Hezbollah movement achieve, as they claim? There might be some more, depending on how someone may perceive it.

Two coffins handed over to the Red Cross

Samir Kantar et al. left Israeli jail

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Satirical Cover of “The New Yorker” Magazine Stirs Controversy

The cover of the July 21st issue (2008) of ‘The New Yorker’ magazine has generated controversy, and on the Internet as well, which brought up harsh criticisms from both Obama and McCain campaign camps. It was called, “tasteless and offensive.”

It illustrates a satirical caricature of Michelle and Barack Obama bumping fists in front of a fireplace with a conspicuous American flag burning. Above the fireplace hangs a portrait of Osama Bin Laden. The Democratic presidential candidate is depicted as a Muslim – wearing a robe (a typical Muslim garb), sandals, with a head turban; and his militant wife Michelle – dressed in camouflage, combat boots and an assault AK47 rifle strapped over her shoulder; both of them standing in the Oval Office, presumably after winning the presidential election. What a portrayal of the would-be First Couple!

The cartoonist and illustrator is Barry Blitt, who captured the essence of the Obama nightmare. Some say that it’s a brilliant piece of satire, apparently, it exposes how laughably transparent many Americans are in their Obamaphobia. Yet, not everyone agrees. Of course, everybody has the privilege of the pros and cons, depending on how they perceived such funny cover art. One might say it will help Obama more than it will hurt him. It may redirect the people’s irrational prejudice and fear mongering or it may be just a joke soliciting humor.

As Obama addressed and downplayed the impact of the magazine's illustration, he said that it is an unsuccessful attempt at satire that will likely fuel misconceptions he has long battled over the course of his presidential campaign,
"It's a cartoon ... and that's why we've got the First Amendment ... And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market, and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it … I've seen and heard worse … I do think that in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But that was their editorial judgment ..."
Kindly checked more cartoons of Barack Obama and more of the story on the video below:

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Miss Venezuela, Crowned Miss Universe 2008

Dayana Mendoza, 22, of Venezuela becomes the newly crowned Miss Universe 2008 held at Crown Convention Center, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam on Sunday, July 13, 2008. Riyo Mori, 2007 Miss Universe conferred the US$120,000 worth tiara to her successor, the elated Miss Venezuela beating out 79 other contestants having a wide range of experiences and aspirations. She is the 5th Venezuelan beauty to capture Miss Universe crown.

The Miss Universe Pageant Show was live telecast on NBC hosted by the famous talk show host Jerry Springer and Melanie Brown of the “Spice Girls.” This prestigious show was broadcasted worldwide to hundreds of million viewers in about 170 countries. Springer wearing a tuxedo has made a grand entrance on a motorbike — the vehicle of choice in Vietnam where the streets are teeming with millions of the speeding two-wheelers.

The nine-member panel of judges was headed by Donald Trump Jr. whose father is the co-owner of the pageant with NBC better known as a real-estate magnate and TV personality. Among the judges are international fashion experts: Roberto Cavalli- renowned fashion designer, Joseph Cinque- The President of The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, Jennifer Hawkins-Miss Universe 2004, Ishaa Koppikar-Bolywood actress, Louis Licari-Celebrity Hairstylist, Nguyen Cong Khe-Editor-in-Chief of Vietnamese Newspaper “Thanh Nien”, Taryn Rose-Footwear Designer, Nadine Velazquez-actress of NBC’s “My Name Is Earl”, and no lesser than Donald Trump Jr.,the eldest son and the executive Vice-President of the Trump Organization.

The five-foot-ten Dayana Mendoza, born on June 1, 1986 in Caracas, is a model having a vital statistics of 85-58-89. Being the 57th Miss Universe, she will be spending her year-long reign traveling the world to lecture on humanitarian issues and promote education especially on HIV/AIDS concerns. Her prize package included - cash, a year contract promoting Miss Universe, world travel, a rent-free, prestigious New York City flat, luxury apartment and a gift bag stuffed with free designer shoes, dresses and beauty products, a US$100,000 stipend for a 2-year course at the New York Film Academy and free access to famous fashion houses and beauty parlors.

On her interview in the past days, Ms. Mendoza related her personal story that she was once kidnapped in her homeland and says the experience taught her to remain poised under pressure. The beaming, Miss Universe, said in a news conference, “… When I go back to Venezuela I will jump on my family and they will jump on me … I want to raise my voice and tell the world that violence is not the answer …” More of the competition’s photos could be launch here and more highlights of the story could be checked here.

It is worth to recall, Irene Sáez who won the Miss Universe in 1991 which was held in New York, pursued a career in politics, started as a mayor of Chacao and later won as a governor. She shocked Venezuela and the whole Latin American countries when she runs for the presidency against Hugo Chavez in May, 1998. At the first stage, she was the frontrunner but unfortunately she lost due to Chávez anti-poverty campaign rhetoric. She now lives in Caracas and no official announcement of any more plans regarding her career as a politician, yet her action has been viewed in Venezuela by many feminists, Miss Universe fans and members of the general public as a woman who has tried to improve the self esteem of all Venezuelan women in general as well as their image.

What about Ms. Dayana Mendoza? Is politics waiting for her in the future?

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Basshunter releases new album, “Now You’re Gone: The Album”

Popularly known as the Swedish eurodance geeky musician, Jonas Altberg, aka Basshunter, is due to release, his latest album, “Now You’re Gone: The Album” this July 14, 2008. This is an English reworking and composed of a total of 15 tracks, including the three bonus tracks featuring the English remakes of his older hits.

Basshunter was born on December 22, 1984 in Halmstad, Sweden. He lived with his parents and younger brother, just five minutes from Sweden’s best beach "Tylosand".
Being described as a stubborn and yet a creative person, he started to produce music in 1999 with a little help from the computer program "Fruityloops". After a lot of demos spread over the internet wherein his interest in music became bigger and bigger, he started to get phone calls from clubs that wanted to hire him as deejay.

He got his first real contact with the music industry when he signed a record deal with Warner Music in April 2006. Eventually, 'Boten Anna’ his first single was released in Scandinavia which became an instant hit. It all happened so very fast then, much faster than Basshunter himself could ever have imagined and expected. The track spread-out, and it became number 1 in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg – the first ever Swedish language hit in these countries. Germany is not an exception; the song went top 10, and something on which only Cascada & Eric Prydz have managed from the dance world, the track then hung about in the top end of the charts for 6 months.

In the summer of 2007 the English vocal version 'Now you're Gone' has become the most requested record in summer holiday resorts around Europe, due to it being the lead track on a mix compact disc. This was how the Basshunter phenomenon started out in UK.

This latest album, “Now You’re Gone: The Album” is having these tracks: Now You're Gone, All I Ever Wanted, Please Don't Go, I Miss You, Angel In The Night, In Her Eyes, Love You More, Camilla, Dream Girl, I Can Walk On Water, Bass Creator and Russia Privjet; with the Bonus Tracks, Bota Anna, Dota, Now You're Gone and All I Ever Wanted, wherein the last two are Fonzerelli Edit.

Basshunter – "All I ever wanted"

Basshunter - "Now You're Gone"

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Angelina Jolie Gives Birth to Premature Boy & Girl Twins

Angelina Jolie, with just less than 35 weeks of pregnancy, gives birth to a boy and girl twins, 8:00 pm, Saturday night, in Foundation Lenval Hospital, in Nice, France. It was delivered via a Cesarean section, on which the operation was headed by Dr. Michel Sussman. The first is a boy, Knox Leon, at 5.03 pounds and a girl, Vivienne Marcheline, at 5 pounds. What do these names mean to them?

Dr. Sussman, her obstetrician told the press,
“… the Cesarian was moved forward from its originally planned date ‘for medical reasons’ so that the babies could be born ‘in the best conditions’ … The babies are doing well. The operation went just perfectly. Angelina is in very good spirits. Brad Pitt was at her side. He was there and all was well …"
It could be well recalled last month; Angelina was checked into the hospital for bed-resting and monitoring by her doctors although she was due on August 19. Angelina Jolie, 33 and Brad Pitt, 44, welcomed their twins as an addition to their four children. They are adoptive parents of Maddox, 6, from Cambodia; Pax, 4, from Vietnam, and Zahara, 3, from Ethiopia. Their first birth daughter, Shiloh, was born May 2006 in Namibia.

It is worth noting, that the name of the baby girl, ”Marcheline” is also the name of Jolie's mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, who died in January 2007 after a 7 1/2-year battle with cancer.

The Jolie-Pitts have been in France since before May's Cannes Film Festival; where the actress spent time promoting Kung Fu Panda and Wanted. They had moved into a large estate, Miraval, in the French hamlet of Correns, which is just a short helicopter ride from the hospital. Correns is about 60 miles from Nice, a resort on the Mediterranean.

It was reported in Nice local newspaper, Sunday that the couple have sold rights for the first photo of "the most famous babies in the world" and their newly enlarged family to a U.S. publication, which it did not name, and that the proceeds would go to charity. Last month, it has been announced by the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict that the Jolie-Pitt Foundation has donated US$1 million for the Iraqi kids. Likewise, last year, the same Foundation gave more than US$300,000 to support the International Rescue Committee's relief program for Darfur refugees.

Nice is a popular resort and verybody out there including tourists and residents, welcomed news of the birth. The city's mayor, Christian Estrosi, visited the hospital on Sunday and he personally delivered the twins' birth certificates – which spared Pitt the need to go to the City Hall himself to register the babies, and run the gauntlet of the photographers waiting outside saying, “It's a happy day for Mrs. Angelina Jolie and all the citizens of Nice." It was previously declared by the mayor that the twins will always be considered honorary citizens of the city, regardless of whether they opt to obtain French citizenship.

For more of the story and photo galleries, please click here.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Iran Missile test, what does It Mean?

The Islamic Republic of Iran test-fired nine long-range missiles, Wednesday issuing a warning to the United States and Israel that it was ready to retaliate if they attacked Iran over its controversial and disputed nuclear projects.

According to ISNA news agency, Hossein Salami, Revolutionary Guards air force commander said, “… We warn the enemies who intend to threaten us with military exercises and empty psychological operations that our hand will always be on the trigger and our missiles will always be ready to launch … Our missiles are ready for shooting at any place and any time, quickly and with accuracy… ”

This alarming action made by Iran has caused tensions and concerns in Washington, the European Union, particularly, Russia which is strongly opposing a strategic American shield defense plan over its bases in Eastern Europe. Likewise, it has also resisted U.S. calls for tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran, nevertheless says, it shares concerns about Tehran's nuclear program. It is worth to recall last February, it has responded to an Iranian rocket test by questioning Tehran's motives.

Western leaders have been attempting to convince Tehran to stop enriching uranium, which has continued doing it despite sanctions from the UN and the European Union, insisting its nuclear program is purely for civilian energy and aims only at generating electricity. Iran is the fourth largest oil producer in the world.

The United States has condemned Iran's missile tests, calling them "provocative" and describing Iran as a "great threat". Both Presidential candidates responded: John McCain called for stronger defenses and tighter sanctions, while Barack Obama repeated his controversial call for negotiations with the Iranian president, and which he lately urged "aggressive diplomacy" as well as economic sanctions to get Iran to change its actions after Tehran's missile test.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reacted by saying, Iran's missile tests show that "it is time for the Iranians to stop violating their Security Council obligations and start fulfilling them." She also said in her visit in Bulgaria, “Those who say that there is no Iranian threat against which to be building missile defenses perhaps ought to talk to the Iranians about ... the range of the missiles that they test fired."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in Ramallah, in the West Bank. "These are very dangerous missiles – that’s why the international community and not just Israel has an interest in blocking this escalation in a definitive way."

Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim (Israeli MP) said: "I suggest Israel will not talk, and Israel should prepare itself to do what is needed to do."

Iran President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking on a visit to Malaysia on Tuesday, dismissed the possibility of an attack by the US or Israel as a "joke", and insisted that his country had no intention of attacking Israel.

We may ask some questions, is this action of Iran, justifiable and acceptable? Are Iran and Israel edging towards conflict? What about its effect on petro-oil prices in the world market?

Iran missile test firing as reported by Jon Leyne from Tehran

Israel is wary, yet ready and prepared

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban Get a Baby Girl

Academy-Award winning actress, Nicole Kidman gives birth to a healthy baby girl with husband Keith Urban. The baby’s name is Sunday Rose weighing 6lb, 7.5oz delivered on Monday morning, July 7, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee, the musical capital of the U.S.

Keith announced and posted their exciting good news on his Website,
“… Earlier this morning Nic gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Sunday Rose Kidman Urban … We want to thank everybody that has kept us in their thoughts and prayers. We feel very blessed and grateful that we can share this joy with all of you today.”
This is Nicole’s first (biological) child she has given birth to, with her husband Keith. Last year, she said that she was yearning to have a baby with Keith and has also revealed, she had two miscarriages with her ex-husband Tom Cruise (ten years of marriage), which led them to adopt two children, Isabella (now, 15) and Connor (13). Tom Cruise has now a daughter, Suri, with Katie Holmes.

As they attended the 43rd annual Academy Of Country Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Nicole was ask about her pregnancy, she replied, “I feel good.” As for names, "We got a few in mind … We will see," Keith hinted.

It is worth quoting that last month, as published on US Magazine she said,
“… I started crying when I saw my ultrasound … I didn't think I'd get to experience that in my lifetime … I like the unpredictable nature of it. To feel life growing with you is something very, very special, and I'm going to embrace that completely …”
This famous Aussie couple was married on June 25, 2006 in Sydney. Nicole Kidman, 41, has won the best actress Oscar award for her role on the film, "The Hours (2002)". She has now a new movie directed by Baz Luhrmann, titled, “Australia,”, alongside X-Men star, Hugh Jackman, expected to be release November this year. Nicole is due to start work on "Nine", an updated version of Federico Fellini’s 1963 film 8½, in the autumn.

Keith Urban, 40, is a country music Grammy-award winner for best male vocal. He had some mess with alcohol and drug use who was rehabilitated successfully which could be well attributed to his utmost determination to be treated with the motivation of his ever-supportive wife. When Keith performed in a concert in Nashville last Saturday night he dedicated his hit "Better Half" to Nicole, telling the crowd it was for his “very, very, very, very, VERY pregnant wife”.

So, their little daughter’s name, “Sunday Rose” sounds very original! Is this the way Keith and Nicole want to show their classic taste?

An archive video music clip of Nicole Kidman

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ingrid Betancourt, Rescued and Freed by Colombian Military

Local Colombian newspapers and international news agencies have published reports that Ingrid Betancourt, 46, a high-profile FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) hostage was freed and rescued by Colombian security forces after six years of captivity (2,321 days). this Wednesday, July 2, 2008 after a successful and brilliant military operation without firing even a single gunshot. This relieves the pressure on Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe to negotiate with the FARC allowing him to continue with his US-backed military offensive against this insurgent group.

This is welcome news around the globe in the international political community, the European Union and particularly by the French government whose release becomes a foreign policy priority by President Nicolas Sarkozy. She was freed together with other 15 hostages including those three American Defense Department contract workers and 11 Colombian soldiers and policemen. She has been described to be in poor health and was believed then while in captivity that she is suffering from serious liver problem – hepatitis B.

Ms. Betancourt was born in Bogota, Columbia on the 25th of December, 1961 having a dual citizenship – both Colombian and French, whose father served as a Diplomat (died just a month after she’s kidnapped) and whose mother was a former Miss Colombia and congresswoman. She grew up and educated both in Paris and Bogota. She is as well an honorary citizen of Paris as announce by its mayor, Bertrand Delanoë in October 2007.

Motivated by presidential (May, 1989 election) front-runner Luis Carlos Galán’s assassination with whom her mother was supporting and was just behind him when he was shot, she returns to Colombia in 1989, worked for the Ministry of France, and was later elected as a congresswoman in 1994. In 1998 she was elected as Senator garnering the largest total number of votes in that senate election year. While in the term of her office she received a lot of death threats, thereby prompting her to send her two children, Melanie (born 1985) and Lorenzo (born 1989) to New Zealand to live with her first husband, Fabrice Delloye, a French Diplomat whom she married in 1983 and divorced in the 1990s.

She later married Colombian advertising executive, Juan Carlos Lecompte and launched her presidential bid on May 20, 2001. She has then begun her presidential campaign by bus trip around the country to attend local community meetings. It was in February 23, 2002 when she was kidnapped as she entered the demilitarized zone via a road trip in the town of San Vicente Del Caguán to meet with the left wing FARC – a rebel group fighting to overthrow the Colombian government for the past 44 years.

Along with her being kidnapped was her campaign manager, Clara Leticia Rojas González, a senator and later named as her vice-presidential candidate. Rojas was released last January 10, 2008 together with former congresswoman Consuelo González de Perdomo through a so-called intercession by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

It could be well recalled that Rojas while in captivity, has given birth to a son Emmanuel, fathered by a FARC rebel. Her son was parted from her for the past two years due to illness as a baby whom Rojas consented on the condition that he will be returned to her after bringing him to a doctor. Instead, Emmanuel was taken care of a peasant who didn’t know whom the baby belong to. The baby was identified later through a mitochondrial DNA test, which later fitted by a child’s description who was in the custody of the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF) on December 31, 2007 and later confirmed by FARC as well.

This has led international criticism and condemnation to the cruelty and brutality of the once-mighty rebel group. It was estimated to have 18,000 strong combatant members who are present in 20% of Colombia’s territory. It was reported in March 2, 2008, Raul Reyes, FARC's second-in-command was killed in an air-raid and gun-battle with Colombian soldiers. Last March 26 of this year, its legendary leader, Manuel Marulanda has died of heart attack. These deaths as observers noted, are believed to be a devastating blow to its seven-man ruling body.

Ms. Betancourt was met and greeted by her husband and her mother, Yolanda Pulecio as she disembarked from the aircraft at a military airbase in Bogota. Her son, Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt, told reporters in Paris that her mother’s release was "the most beautiful news of my life" and that it had filled him with "an indescribable joy". Since her kidnapping, her two children who are expected to be reunited with her, had been working hard unceasingly to bring their mother’s case in the spotlight.

A video footage of her, filmed by her captors in 2007

Ingrid Betancourt, before and during the kidnapping

Video Updates Below
The rescue and jubilation in mid-air

Betancourt & family greeted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy & First Lady Carla Bruni

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