Clone Wars canceled

Clone Wars canceled
Clone Wars canceled
"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" has been canceled ... at least, on Cartoon Network. Though Lucasfilm announced the series will no longer air on the channel, the company said new "Clone Wars" content will be produced ... and distributed elsewhere.

"After five highly successful and critically acclaimed seasons of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars,' we feel the time has come to wind down the series," Lucasfilm said on its website. The company is also delaying the launch of "Star Wars: Detours," a comedy series that was in the works before Disney purchased Lucasfilm and announced plans to launch a new trilogy.

It's not all bad news for "Star Wars" fans. "We are exploring a whole new 'Star Wars' series set in a time period previously untouched in 'Star Wars' films or television programming," Lucasfilm said. "You can expect more details in the months to come."

Talk of a live-action "Star Wars" series set between the two current trilogies has been around for years. The series, at one point called "Star Wars: Underworld," was set om the 20-year gap between "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and the beginning of "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope."

Ellen DeGeneres Show renewed

Ellen DeGeneres Show
Ellen DeGeneres Show
UPDATED: The daytime talker has been picked up on all ten NBC owned and operated stations and 179 additional stations.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show has been renewed through the 2016-17 season in 96 percent of the country. The renewal includes all ten NBC owned and operated stations and 179 additional stations.

Nationally, Ellen is tied with Dr. Phil for the No. 1 syndicated talk show this season among the key women 25-54 demographic. And Ellen is No. 1 in the time period with that demo in seven of NBC’s key markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The show is up 13 percent year-over-year among women 25-54 and is pulling in 3.2 million viewers on average, its most-watched season since 2005-06.

It’s been a rocky year for daytime. Freshman talkers hosted by Ricki Lake and Jeff Probst have been canceled. Anderson Cooper’s revamped Anderson Live will not make it past its second season. And there is a major overhaul in store for The View next season with Joy Behar departing. There also are rumors that Elisabeth Hasselbeck also will be exiting, but on Monday's show, View co-executive producer Barbara Walters denied that Hasselbeck is departing.

The Ellen announcement came Monday morning from Ken Werner, president, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Valari Staab, president, NBC Owned Television Stations.

“Ellen is quite simply the best,” Werner said in a statement. “Day in and day out she and her team produce a unique and compelling hour of entertainment which is appointment television for legions of women.  We are absolutely thrilled that NBC, Ellen, Warner Bros. and all of our station partners will be continuing our successful relationship for years to come."

Added Staab: “Ellen is the crown jewel of the NBC Owned Television Stations daytime lineup. We are proud and thrilled to extend our relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, all the great people working on her show and our friends at Warner Bros.”

Africa ready for African Pope

Africans were asked what an African pope would mean for the continent and for them personally.
Africans were asked what an African pope would mean for the continent and for them personally
What are your thoughts on who the next Pope could, or should be? Tell us

Thousands of Africans have expressed their hopes that the next pope will be the first from their continent -- with a majority believing it would mean the Catholic Church becoming more conservative.

The survey of 20,000 people, conducted on mobile phones across 11 nations, also exposed big divisions among Africans about the future direction of the church, including faith, homosexuality and race.

"An African pope will bring about more unity on the continent and confidence in Africans," said one woman from Zimbabwe, while a young Nigerian man polled said an African pope "will eradicate immoralities, such as same-sex marriage."

Mobile phone use has skyrocketed in Africa, climbing from 9.2 million subscribers in 2000 to more than 648 million subscribers in 2011 -- more users than the U.S. or the European Union, according to the World Bank.

More than 80% of those surveyed believe their continent is ready for an African pope, but only 61% thought the rest of the world was too.

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana is viewed by Vatican observers as the top African contender, according to John Allen, CNN analyst and correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

Most respondents (86%) thought an African pope would increase support for Catholicism in Africa, while just over 50% believed the church would become more conservative if that happened. On the other hand, 21% thought that it would become less conservative.

CNN also asked respondents what an African pope would mean for them and for Africa. The comments revealed a wide range of views on the church's role.

"It would help strengthen the faith and belief of all African Catholics," said one Ghanaian. "They will feel a part of the church."

"Will he stop the ongoing war in some African countries?" asked a Namibian responder.

"He may be like the rest of them and just stay in the church; anyway they don't make any difference in Africa."

Read full results of the survey carried out for CNN by Jana

A Zimbabwean man surveyed also said he feared that an African pope would not be treated equally to other popes.

"I think at first people might not accept him and it would take a long time for him to blend in, so his impact will not be that great."

Jana conducted the poll between 7-11 March 2013 with mobile phone users from Lesotho, Rwanda, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Longest female legs

Longest female legs
Longest female legs
Northern Virginia is, it increasingly appears, rich in genetically-gifted world record-holders.

Arlingtonian Annie Hawkins-Turner -- her stage name is Norma Stitz -- has the Guinness Book of World Records' record for world's largest natural breasts.

A few miles away lives the woman with the world's longest legs.

As the Washington Post noted on Monday, the Guinness record-holder for women's longest legs is a Falls Church basketball coach.

Svetlana Pankratova's legs are, according to Guinness, almost 4 feet, 4 inches long. (At 6 feet, 5 inches tall, she's not the world's tallest woman, however; the woman certified as Guinness' tallest living woman, 7-feet-7-inch tall Yao Defen, died in November.)

In her Guinness photo, Pankratova's shown sitting on the steps of the National Gallery of Art in London, wearing a blue mini-dress and heels. In other photos from that same shoot, the world's smallest man -- He Pingping, who died in 2010 -- is standing beneath her, sometimes looking up her skirt.

Last week, Pankratova talked with the Falls Church News-Register about life as the longest-legged woman, and how she came to Virginia from Russia, where she was born:

    After she graduated high school, Pankratova played college basketball for a year in Russia before being recruited by Virginia Commonwealth University. During this time, she met her now husband, Jack Gosnell, who was working in St. Petersburg as the U.S. General Counsel. She said the transition to a new country was difficult at first, and she experienced a culture shock for the first couple of months she was in the U.S. But the hardest part was getting used to the rigorous training her new team did in preparation for the basketball season.

    “It was more running in practices, it was more physical,” Pankratova said. “So it took me a little time to adjust to that. But after that I think it was fine.”

The whole of Virginia, not just the parts close to D.C., can lay claim to a host of impressive world records. Notable among them: most cloned pigs born in one litter, largest ship sunk intentionally and largest gathering of people dressed as vampires.

Here's a 2008 video of Panktrova with the world's smallest man, He Pingping.

F-35 forced to land: in texas

The second production model F-35A Lightning II aircraft flies above the compass rose of Rogers Dry Lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, California in this image distributed by the U.S. Air Force dated May 13, 2011.
The second production model F-35A Lightning II aircraft flies above the compass rose of Rogers Dry Lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, California in this image distributed by the U.S. Air Force dated May 13, 2011.
One of two F-35 fighter jets headed to a Nevada air base made an unscheduled landing in Lubbock, Texas on Monday after a caution light came on in the cockpit, according to a Pentagon spokesman and the plane's manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp.

The next-generation stealth fighter was flying from the Lockheed plant in Fort Worth, Texas to Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas on Monday afternoon, when a caution warning light came on, requiring the pilot to land at the nearest airport, said Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein.

He said the pilot landed safely. The second plane landed as planned at the Nevada air base, joining two other aircraft that arrived there last week, where they will be used for operational testing and evaluation of the new warplane.

A team of Lockheed maintenance experts was en route to examine the single-engine plane at the Lubbock airport, which is about 300 miles from Fort Worth, Rein said. It was not yet clear what caused the caution light to come on, he said.

The incident is the latest in a string of negative news about the new single-seat, single-engine warplane that Lockheed is developing for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and eight international partners: Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, has been grounded twice this year already for engine-related issues.

Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon's $396 billion F-35 program, confirmed the plane had landed in Lubbock after a warning light came on, but said he had no further details about the incident.

Rein said it was not immediately known if the warning light was triggered by a problem with the engine, which is built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

He said local police were securing the state-of-the-art warplane at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, which handles operations by three airlines and several cargo carriers.

Rein said the plane would continue its journey to Nellis Air Force Base, or return to the Lockheed plant, depending on what the mechanics discovered when they examined the plane.

Gary Loftus, airport operations manager at the Lubbock airport, told Reuters the F-35 fighter was parked on an airport ramp and was protected within a fence. "Nobody can get to the airplane," he said.

He said he believed it was the first time an F-35 fighter had landed at the commercial airport.

The congressional Government Accountability Office on Monday released its annual report on the weapons program, saying it was showing progress in development, production and technical issues but still faced tremendous challenges.

Yankees Brokeback Mountain

Yankees Brokeback-Mountain, During today's Yankees-Cardinals spring training game, play-by-play announcer Jon Sciambi attempted to start a conversation about how old and bad the Yankees are with his broadcast partner, Doug Glanville. Things got weird in a hurry, because Doug Glanville has either never seen Brokeback Mountain, or he has no idea how analogies work. Reported Yahoo! NEWS...

There are many things you can say about the 2013 New York Yankees. They're injured, beat-up, aging, not the favorites in the AL East anymore, etc. But here's one thing that nobody said about them until now: They're like "Brokeback Mountain."

That's the expert analysis of ESPN's Doug Glanville, who was calling the Yankees/Cardinals game on Monday. His full quote: "They have basically Brokeback Mountain going over here. I mean everybody's on the disabled list or hurt in some form or fashion."

Brokeback Mountain, of course, is the 2005 Oscar-nominated film starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal that, for better or worse, became known as "the gay cowboy movie."

So, the Yankees are gay cowboys? Do they look at each other and say, "I can't quit you?"
Probably not what Glanville — who played nine years in the major leagues — meant. He likely was trying to get punny, took a wrong turn down Analogy Lane and showed the world he's more familiar with the title of the film than its plot.

While the A-Rod haters amongst us will have a field day joking about this, it's just an innocent goof by a ballplayer-turned-announcer who's still relatively new to the broadcast booth.

Willy Switkes dies: Tootsie, Taxi Driver Actor Died

Willy Switkes dies:
This undated publicity photo provided by the Switkes Family shows character actor, Willy Switkes, who had minor roles in “Tootsie,” “Taxi Driver,” and dozens of other films. His niece Ellen Switkes says he died of colon cancer on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at a hospice in Rockville, Md. He was 83.
A character actor who had minor roles in “Tootsie,” ‘’Taxi Driver” and dozens of other films has died. Willy Switkes (SWIT’-kehs) was 83.

His niece Ellen Switkes says he died of colon cancer on Thursday at a hospice in Rockville, Md.

Willy Switkes was a native of Washington, D.C., and a longtime New York City resident. He appeared in Broadway productions of “The Cherry Orchard” and “A Thousand Clowns” and was an understudy to Buster Keaton during a 1960 tour of “Once Upon a Mattress.” His other films include “The French Connection” and “Bananas.”

His characters often were unidentified, such as his “man at cab” credit for “Tootsie,” in which he’s thrown from a taxi after trying to cut in front of title character Dustin Hoffman.

‘I’m not dying until I do’: says Valerie Harper

In this undated photo provided by NBC, Valerie Harper, right, poses with Savannah Guthrie of NBC's "Today" at Harper's home in Los Angele
In this undated photo provided by NBC, Valerie Harper, right, poses with Savannah Guthrie of NBC's "Today" at Harper's home in Los Angele
Valerie Harper had announced recent week that she is having incurable brain cancer, but she wants everyone to know she's feeling great.

"I'm alive. I'm feeling good. I'm trying to live every moment as much as I can."

Since her announcement last week, Harper tells USA TODAY, "the phone has not stopped, or the texts, or the e-mails. It's incredible." But she worries that people "have a picture of me in a bed or a wheelchair or in trouble. Three months may be accurate (for her life expectancy), but it is not the whole truth. I could have a seizure within a week because of the nature of this cancer," or, she says, she could live much longer.

"I can't say it's terminal. I'm saying it's incurable so far, but we're all terminal. No one is getting out of this alive," she says. "The key is, don't go to the funeral until the day of the funeral."

The star of the classic sitcoms Rhoda and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Harper says that even though she is undergoing chemotherapy, "I feel better now than I did when I first started feeling symptoms." She said those were "few and far between" but included some back pain and nausea, and "a weird feeling in my jaw."

Her cancer is not considered curable, but she's having the chemotherapy with the hope the treatment will slow its spread.

"My husband says if we can slow it down, more stuff may come up," possibly new cures or treatments. "They are working fast and furiously for all of us; they're not doing this for Valerie Harper because she played Rhoda. They are doing this for cancer patients."

Her doctors' best guess: "It could a be a week, it could be three months or perhaps six months or a year. I'm already at eight months from first symptoms. I'm trying to get ready to say goodbye, and also ready to say hello if we have spontaneous remission.

"Miracles occur," she says, "or people die the next day."

A round of media appearances, which included The Doctors and NBC's Today show on Monday, as well as the cover story in this week's People, were to allow her to break the news "while I was still able. I figured I'd let everyone know the truth at one time.

"I also want people to have a path forward in terms of facing death with less fear, and a real urgent call to live in the now. Don't waste the time you do have. We're all terminal; none of us are getting out of this alive. I felt sharing my experience may be of value or assistance in some way to others."

Writing her memoir, I Rhoda, which was released in January and which celebrates her victory over lung cancer several years ago, also inspired her to talk about what's happening now. "That may have opened me up to share this new chapter. I say I'm cancer-free at the end of the book, but that insidious guy, those cancer cells, came back."

As to how she's coping, she says: "I've had very deep moments of sadness. What I do is really sob, really cry, do whatever it is and then kind of release it. Then I can go cook dinner or make a phone call to a friend. I'm living pretty normally.

"I've had a great run. I'm going to be 74. Life does not owe me a shred. I don't want to go, but it's the reality, and I'd love people to have less fear about death and encourage them to be here now. There's a lot of work to do, a lot of transformation. We all have a way to contribute, to your community, to your family, whatever it is you can do. It's a joyous part of life."

Pub can't fly Irish flag: Only Ameican Flags

Irish flag and Ameican Flag
Irish flag and Ameican Flag
Well-Known pub from Florida had been forced to remove Irish country flag after officials said it’s against the law to fly nothing other than an American flag.

The owners of Culhane’s Irish Pub in northeast Florida said they were shocked to receive a citation for flying the Irish flag but have removed it to comply with a local ordinance banning commercial display of non-U.S. flags.

The four sisters who own Culhane's Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach said Friday they would apply for a temporary permit allowing them to at least fly the green, white and orange Irish flag on St. Patrick's Day, March 17.

"St. Patrick's Day is huge for us," said Aine Culhane, who owns the pub with sisters Mary Jane, Michelle and Lynda.

They showed Reuters a copy of a citation issued by code enforcement officers for the City of Atlantic Beach on February 20, giving them 24 hours to "cease display of flags other than American flag."

The Culhanes said they had flown an Irish flag and an American flag on the front of their pub for eight years and were unaware of the ordinance.

"I couldn't believe it," Aine Culhane said. "We never break the law. We were just shocked and kind of sad that we couldn't hang the flag ... Everybody is upset about it."

City officials did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. Acting Mayor Maria Mark told television station WTLV that the city council was reconsidering the ordinance but she doubted any changes could be approved before St. Patrick's Day.

The Culhane sisters are from Shanagolden in County Limerick and have owned the pub since 2005. Michelle and Mary Jane are naturalized U.S. citizens and Lynda and Aine are in the United States on visas, they said.

"We're definitely living the American dream. We love it here. We're proof that anybody can do it We came here knowing no one," Aine said.

But being forced to remove the flag of their homeland was an insult, Michelle said.

"The large contingent of Irish immigrants who fought for this country in numerous wars cannot be treated like this," she said. "Our flag is woven from the fabric of many proud nations and should never be discounted by the pettiness of a few narrow minded council members."

Teen Boy admits Kutcher prank: Ashton Kutcher hoaxes

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher
A 12-year-young teen boy was admitted to targeting Ashton Kutcher's home in a burglary prank.

Law enforcement rushed to the star's Arrowhead Drive mansion after receiving a distress call from a person who claimed they were the victim of a violent home invasion robbery.

The 'swatting' prank last October cost Los Angeles taxpayers more than $US10,000 ($12,000) in wasted police manpower and other resources.

According to TMZ, the youngster "confessed to two felony counts in connection with swatting pranks [a deliberate attempt to trick an emergency service into dispatching a response team] against Ashton and a bank, including making a false report in an emergency and computer intrusion".

The un-named boy was also charged with targeting pop superstar Justin Bieber, but did not admit to that count. A representative for the district attorney told TMZ the charge will likely be dismissed when he is sentenced.

It was previously claimed that the boy lives with his mother in what has been described as an "incredibly dysfunctional" home and refused to attend school recently because he prefers communicating with other hackers on his computer, but arrangements are now being made to move him into a more stable foster home.

Authorities are said to be eager for the troubled boy to receive therapy rather than a punishment for his crimes.

Ashton - who is currently dating Mila Kunis - was not at home at the time of the incident, but rushed home immediately.

The Hollywood funnyman purchased the $US3.6 million mansion following his split from Demi Moore.

Matt Lauer on Ann Curry: Handled Crisis Badly

Matt Lauer on Ann Curry
Matt Lauer on Ann Curry
Matt Lauer on Ann Curry, Popular TV network NBC's $25-million dollar person and gazer of Anne Hathaway crotch shots, Matt Lauer, is finally speaking up about Ann Curry's Today show ouster, conveniently telling Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast that he really didn't want to see Curry pushed out so unceremoniously by NBC executives. What, did you really think Lauer and NBC were going to take this rare interview opportunity with their most useful mouthpiece to look inside the world of the second-highest rated morning show and tell you that he hated his longtime co-host's guts and that everything was doomed?

Kurtz's story opens up with a scene of faux sword-falling, that amounts to Lauer, who had apparently been feeling bad about being cast as the bad guy (again and again) amidst Curry's ouster, doing his best Charlie Brown impersonation:

    Lauer was feeling down. Week after week, he was getting pummeled by the press for the sinking fortunes of the Today show. The veteran host was being blamed for the messy departure of Ann Curry and the downward ratings spiral of what had been the iconic program in morning television.

    “If you think the show’s better off without me, let me know, and I’ll get out of the way,” [Steve] Burke recalls Lauer saying.

    Burke wouldn’t hear of it. “You’re the best person who’s ever done this,” he said. “We’ll get through this.”

Mind you, lines like "You're the best person who's ever done this" is the stuff of press releases... except press releases actually show restraint sometimes. After a decent bit of naval-gazing, Kurtz actually gets Lauer to sort of criticize NBC — the NBC star's version of criticizing NBC, of course, is skipping the kiss-and-make-up in favor of the we-messed-up-and-we're-sorry line, a half mea culpa if there ever was one:

    “I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that,” says Lauer.

    “It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well.”

Lauer, in saving his bad-guy image, also gets an assist from some convenient unnamed sources, which may or may not be NBC falling on its own sword just to make Lauer look all nice again:

That is an understatement. Sources familiar with the process say that Lauer repeatedly tried to convince his bosses to slow things down and give Curry more time before she was pushed into a reduced role.

And then there was that odd meal NBC set up between Lauer and Curry after the fact, in which he apparently told her that he didn't like her very much:

Lauer and Curry had a candid talk over lunch at the Four Seasons. He acknowledged she hadn’t been his first choice for co-host, but said that was in the past. Curry said that both Lauer and the show would take a hit if she was thrown overboard, and he agreed. Lauer suggested that she try to get a meeting with Burke and resolve the situation. He also advised Curry, who didn’t employ an agent, to hire one quickly.

To be clear, Lauer and these unnamed sources want to establish that it was totally NBC's fault and that he tried everything in his power to mitigate the firing. Matt Lauer is a nice guy, America, and he wants his ratings back. It's another hard push on a narrative, which hasn't exactly been working, in which NBC has been trying to cast Lauer as the nice guy, rather than the one who pushed Curry over the edge: In September, they trotted out (now former) Today executive producer Jim Bell, who said "it was absolutely" his "call" to fire Curry, not Lauer's. And then — poof! — Bell was gone. In November, the network was scrubbing clean Lauer's reputation, warning us of vicious tweeters who hate Lauer — insisting that they are the vocal minority, but important enough for another Howie Kurtz "exclusive." In December came word of the make-up lunch.

Aspirin and skin cancer

 Aspirin can also now reportedly help to protect against skin cancer, as well as cutting the risk of stomach and bowel cancers for regular users
Wonder drug: Aspirin can also now reportedly help to protect against skin cancer, as well as cutting the risk of stomach and bowel cancers for regular users

Medical Attention and the medicine Aspirin could help protect women from skin cancer, a study claims.

Researchers had researched and found that the longer the painkiller is taken, the lower the risk of developing melanoma.

The study of data from almost 60,000 women over 12 years found that regular aspirin users were 21 per cent less likely to develop skin cancer than non-users.

But those who had taken it for five or more years were 30 per cent less likely to develop melanoma. Data for men was not part of the study.

Every year, around 13,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and 2,200 die from the disease, which is thought to be caused primarily by intense sunbathing or frequent use of sunbeds.

Aspirin has been dubbed the wonder drug, with a recent study claiming that it cut the risk of stomach and bowel cancers by around 40 per cent in regular users. However, long-term use has been linked with stomach bleeds and ulcers.

The research of women aged between 50 to 79 was published in the Journal of Cancer and formed part of the Women’s Health Initiative – a major US investigation into links between lifestyle and the disease.

Study leader Dr Jean Tang said: ‘Aspirin works by reducing inflammation and this may be why using aspirin may lower your risk of developing melanoma.’

She said other painkillers, such as paracetamol, did not lower melanoma.

Ministers will this year consider whether some patients should be prescribed the drug as a preventative measure.

Aspirin has already been shown to be particularly effective against bowel cancer – one of the most common forms of the disease – particularly if patients have a family history of the illness.
Skin cancer: Every year, 13,000 British people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, often caused by intense sunbathing or use of sunbeds
Skin cancer: Every year, 13,000 British people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, often caused by intense sunbathing or use of sunbeds
It is an established treatment for heart disease patients because it helps prevent the formation of blood clots in the artery which can lead to a heart attack.

For this reason, it is already taken daily by two million UK angina sufferers.

Jessica Harris, of Cancer Research UK, advised caution, however. She said: ‘Aspirin has a range of serious side effects, and at the moment it’s not clear whether the benefits would outweigh the harms, what the right dose might be, or which group of people are most likely to benefit.’

Despite drastic efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment, Britain’s cancer survival rates still lag behind other countries.

Ministers estimated that 11,400 lives could be saved each year if our cancer survival rates matched those elsewhere in Europe.

Military plane crash: All 3 Crew Members Dead

 A handout photo courtesy of Stan Dammel shows an aerial view of the crash site in Lincoln County, Washington where a Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler, a twin engine electronic warfare aircraft went down in a field in eastern Washington March 11, 2013.
A handout photo courtesy of Stan Dammel shows an aerial view of the crash site in Lincoln County, Washington where a Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler, a twin engine electronic warfare aircraft went down in a field in eastern Washington March 11, 2013.
The Military plane from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Crashed badly into the Eastern Washington on Monday morning, and all three crew members on board died in the deadly incident took place, Navy authorities said.

The E/A-6B Prowler was reported to have crashed at about 8:45 a.m. Monday, Whidbey Island officials said.

The Navy informed Congress that the wingman of the crashed plane reported that no parachutes were deployed.

"First responders are on the scene and have reported finding partial remains of the mishap aircrew," the Navy informed Congress. "All three onboard are presumed dead."

The identities of the crew were not immediately available.

The Prowler was "engaged in a low-level navigation training mission," the Navy told Congress. Whidbey Island officials said the cause of the accident was under investigation.

NAS Whidbey Island is home to the U.S. Navy's tactical electronic warfare squadrons. Crews from the base, located on Puget Sound, regularly fly across Eastern Washington for training exercises.

"The thoughts and prayers of northwest Washington are with the families of the aircrew who lost their lives today," said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., who represents the Whidbey Island area. "This tragic crash is a painful reminder of the dangerous work that members of the armed services perform every day in service to our nation."

The state House of Representatives observed a moment of silence Monday in response to the crash.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the crew of the plane was serving the nation.

"I know all Washingtonians join me in sending condolences to the crew's families and to their fellow service members," Inslee said.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also said her prayers were with family members of the crew.

The crash occurred in a rural area between the towns of Harrington and Odessa, about 50 miles west of Spokane. Aerial views of the crash site showed a large crater in a farm field, surrounded by blackened vegetation. Much of the plane appeared to have disintegrated on impact.

"You could see smoke and bits of plane in the middle of the field," local resident HaLee Walter told KREM-TV after visiting the crash site.

The Prowler specializes in electronic warfare such as jamming enemy radar and intercepting radio transmissions. It can also be equipped with missiles.

Whidbey Island officials said the plane that crashed was attached to Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-129.

Punisher targets drivers: Rams Bad Drivers

A bus driver dubbed "The Punisher" is ramming bad drivers to teach them a lesson on the roads of Russia.
A bus driver dubbed "The Punisher" is ramming bad drivers to teach them a lesson on the roads of Russia.
A Russian man called the “The Punisher”. The Punisher targets drivers, So, Punisher has taken the law into his own hands. And, as a result, he has become a folk hero in Russia.

He is known as "the Punisher" after the ruthless comic vigilante who dispenses brutal justice. Volkov has been in more than 100 traffic accidents, though "accidents" may be a

He's caused most of them with his in your face - or in your rear-end - driving style. If someone cuts him off, Volkov just smashes into them.To ram home his point, he then posts the dashcam video of his exploits online.

Wham! Volkov runs his bus right into the car's rear-end. Picture: Alexei Volkov, via YouTube. His YouTube channel has had hundreds of thousands of hits - and we mean hits.

In an inteview, Volkov boasted that the courts have taken his side in any case that's gone that far. Most people seem to sympathise with him.

As he told one Russian news site: "Take my latest accident. What could I do? Swerve to the left in the oncoming traffic or suddenly brake and maybe injure the passengers?

"In both cases my licence would be revoked and I’d have some serious problems. While the happy bastard would just leave the scene.

"I am not interested in such outcome. The cops just grin. As for the colleagues – I haven’t asked what they thought."He started recording the smashes in 2007 to defend himself from insurance scam drivers, who sharply cut in and brake in front of other vehicles to cause a smash and then make fraudulent claims.

The Youtube videos show Trabants, Ladas, a van and even an expensive 4x4 fall foul of The Punisher's wrath after swerving in front of him. The footage also shows incredulous drivers getting out of their cars to confront him after the shunts.

Chipper Jones Yankees: Enough with the rumors

Chipper Jones and girlfriend Taylor Higgins at the state capitol building in Atlanta on Tuesday. He received accolades from legislators.
Chipper Jones and girlfriend Taylor Higgins at the state capitol building in Atlanta on Tuesday. He received accolades from legislators.
Has anybody got the Contact number of the Chipper Jones?? Because The New York Yankees are looking for him.

It's no secret that with Alex Rodriguez sidelined until at least the All-Star break because of hip surgery, the Yankees are in need of some help on offense.

General Manager Brian Cashman on Monday said there is one guy he wouldn't mind bringing aboard to help: Chipper Jones, who retired after last season after a 19-season career with the Atlanta Braves.

But Cashman said he did not have a working telephone number for Jones’ agent, B.B. Abbott, so he told the reporters they could report his interest through Twitter as a way of letting Jones know.

“Get it out there,” Cashman said. “I would sign him in a heartbeat. He can play third base, first base, DH. He would be perfect.”

It didn't take long for Jones to respond via Twitter: "Enough with the rumors! While I am flattered about the speculation of being enticed out of retirement, I'm happy with life as a bad golfer!"

Notice he didn't say no.

If the Yankees did bring Jones aboard, they could shift Kevin Youkilis from third to first. Jones has 468 career home runs. Would the possibility of hitting his 500th home run as a member of the Yankees be enough to lure him out of retirement?

SUV in fatal Ohio crash was stolen says Owner

SUV in fatal Ohio crash was stolen
SUV in fatal Ohio crash was stolen
Investigation team on Monday tried to piece together what eight teenagers crammed into an allegedly stolen SUV were up to before the vehicle flipped over into a pond, killing six of them.

Authorities gave few details on where the group of friends had been and why they were out around daybreak Sunday, speeding down a two-lane road. On Monday, the SUV's owner met with police and filed a stolen-car report; police said none of the teens were related to the owner or had asked to use the vehicle.

While the father of one of the dead said the teenagers were coming home from a sleepover at a friend's house, the mother of another boy killed said that her son and his best friend had lied about staying over at each other's homes that evening. She said she thinks they went to a party.

"If only he had listened," said Lisa Williamson, mother of 14-year-old Brandon Murray. "I told him, 'Don't you go nowhere.' But they're kids."

The SUV hit a guardrail in an industrial section of town and landed upside down in about 5 feet of water, filling up within minutes, State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt. Five boys and a young woman, ages 14 to 19, were killed.

Driver of SUV in fatal crash
Driver of SUV in fatal crash
Two boys smashed a rear window, wriggled out of the wreckage and swam away, then ran a quarter-mile to a home to call 911, authorities said. Brian Henry, 18, and Asher Lewis, 15, suffered only minor injuries.

Investigators said they believe excessive speed was a key factor in the crash, which took place in a 35 mph zone alongside a steel mill near what's known in the neighborhood as "Dead Man's Curve." Authorities did not say how fast the SUV was going. They were also awaiting the results of drug and alcohol tests.

All eight teenagers were from Warren, a mostly blue-collar city of 41,000 near the Pennsylvania line, about 60 miles east of Cleveland.

Friends and family members described the teens as good kids who weren't troublemakers. Williamson said many of them would hang out and stay overnight in her basement to play video games, listen to music and watch movies.

She said her son called late Saturday night and said he was staying at the home of his best friend Ramone White. She said it wasn't until after the accident that she found out that wasn't true.

"It's what we did when we were growing up, too," said Williamson, who was wearing a rubbery "Jesus Loves You" bracelet that she took off her dead son's wrist.

Andre Bennett Sr., whose son Andrique was among those killed, said that his son and the others had all stayed over at a friend's house and that a girl offered them a ride home.

Chris Jones, 16, said he used to see most of the victims every day at school and in their neighborhood. He knew all but two in the crash.

"They're not always the best kids. They're not out there looking for straight A's," he said. "But none of these kids should be where they are today. This should have never had happened."

Five of the dead were trapped inside the sunken SUV. A sixth was thrown from the vehicle and was found underneath it when it was taken out of the water.

State police identified them as the 19-year-old driver, Alexis Cayson; Andrique Bennett, 14; Brandon Murray, 14; and Kirklan Behner, Ramone White and Daylan Ray, all 15. Cayson, Murray and Ray drowned, the coroner said. Autopsies on the others were incomplete.

"All I know is my baby is gone," said Derrick Ray, who came to the crash site after viewing his 15-year-old son Daylan's body at the morgue. He said he knew that his son, a football player who was looking forward to playing in high school, was out with friends, but didn't know their plans.

None of the teens in the five-seat 1998 Honda Passport were wearing seat belts, state police said.

13 hurt in D.C. shooting: Another deadly shooting

 Surveillance footage shows people outside of the Tyler House Apartments in Washington, D.C., on the ground and taking cover as shots ring out early Monday.

Surveillance footage shows people outside of the Tyler House Apartments in Washington, D.C., on the ground and taking cover as shots ring out early Monday.

There has been another deadly shooting incident took place outside DC Apartment Building Injuring atleast 13 people including one highly critical

Thirteen people were injured, including one critically, when gunmen in a speeding car opened fire on a crowd standing outside an apartment building in northwest Washington early Monday, police said.

The shooting occurred around 2:10 a.m. in the area of New York Avenue and North Capitol Street, police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Detectives were reviewing surveillance video showing gunshots being fired as two cars sped down the street in rapid succession, while a group of people on the sidewalk scattered and scrambled for cover. The police released the surveillance video to the public in hopes of gathering information on the gunmen. Police said shots came from at least one of the two cars.

The seriously wounded victim was shot in the back and was in critical condition Monday afternoon, police said. None of the other injuries was believed to be life-threatening, and the victims — who were either grazed by bullets or shot mostly in the legs, hands or other extremities — were reported to be conscious and breathing.

Police didn't immediately have a motive, and detectives were still interviewing witnesses and collecting bullet fragments and other evidence.

D.C. police on Monday were investigating an early-morning drive-by shooting in the capital’s northwest neighborhood.

"We've got to interview a ton" of witnesses, said assistant police chief Peter Newsham.

The shooting occurred in the same area where multiple people were shot and wounded on consecutive weekends last October, though it wasn't immediately clear whether there was any connection.

Nor was it clear why the crowd was standing outside at that time of day, though Lanier said a club across the street had let out about 15 minutes earlier.

One of the possible vehicles involved in a drive-by shooting outside of a Washington, D.C., housing complex. Twelve people were hit, although none of the injuries were life-threatening.

D.C. police are reviewing surveillance footage of the area, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told reporters.

"Whether they came from the club, I'm not sure," Lanier said. "There is usually a pretty good crowd out here — Saturday night, Sunday night."

Scott Disick Makes Kourtney Kardashian Cry With Comments on Her Post-Baby Weight

Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian arrive to celebrate Kourtney's birthday at Gallery Nightclub at Planet Hollywood on April 15, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian arrive to celebrate Kourtney's birthday at Gallery Nightclub at Planet Hollywood on April 15, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kourtney Kardashian's post-baby body seems to have bounced back in record time. But as the March 10 episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami revealed, getting into bikini-ready shape after the July birth of her daughter Penelope was anything but easy for the 33-year-old mother of two -- especially with boyfriend Scott Disick (dad to Penelope and 3-year-old Mason) pressuring her to speed up the process.
The drama started when Kourtney stepped onto the bathroom scale while chatting with Disick and sister Kim Kardashian. Upon seeing that his 5-foot-tall girlfriend weighed 115 pounds, Disick asked, "Do you know what you're supposed to weigh for your average weight for your height?"

Kourtney estimated that she should be around 105 pounds, and then revealed that she was probably around 95 pounds when she and Disick first met. "I feel like 93 is the dream," Disick said, sighing. "Your body was banging when I first saw you on the beach with that little a-s."

Kourtney initially shrugged off his comments, but Disick continued to needle her about her weight for the rest of the episode. At one point, when Kourtney asked why he cared how much she weighed, he replied, "Why wouldn't I care? You're my piece of machinery!"

"Right now seems to be probably the heaviest she's ever been not pregnant," he told the cameras. "When we had Mason I remember her trying to whip herself back into shape pretty quick. This time around it seems like it's the least of her concerns, and the only thing she thinks about are the kids...I just think that she would feel better if she got back into the shape that she feels the most comfortable in."

By the end of the episode, Kourtney was in tears over Disick's offhand remarks about her body. "You are so crazy. I'm trying to do this the healthy way," she told him when he admonished her about her diet. To which Disick replied: "Do it the healthy way, just do it faster."

Visibly distraught, the reality star confronted her longtime love about how his jokes made her feel. "It's frustrating," she said. "I wish I had people around me who were supportive. At least you know now it hurts me. I don't want to hear any more weight comments."

Disick admitted he didn't realize she was so affected by what he thought. "I'm sorry, doll. You're a good-looking lady," he said by way of an apology. "You're proportioned properly, you got a beautiful kneecap and a gorgeous little face." Later, in a confessional, he added, "I love her, not her weight."

4.7 California quake rattled Calif but no fatalities

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake struck near Anza, Calif. on Monday.
Magnitude 4.7 earthquake shakes wide area of Southern California late Monday morning but there are no reports of damage or fatalities so far.

The 9:55 a.m. quake had an estimated magnitude of 4.7, said Nick Scheckel, seismic analyst at the California Institute of Technology’s seismological laboratory in Pasadena. He said a number of aftershocks were occurring.   

The epicenter was about a dozen miles from the Riverside County desert community of Anza, about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The temblor, which occurred at a depth of eight miles, was felt sharply in the local area and caused a swaying or rolling motion in Los Angeles and San Diego as well as in Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Susie Bride, a cashier at Cahuilla Mountain Market and Cafe in Anza, said the quake seemed to last awhile but didn’t do any damage to the business.

“It kind of shook and then I thought, ‘God, is that an earthquake?’ It kind of shook and then it rolled a little bit and then it shook again,” she said.

About 25 miles north of Anza, Palms Springs police Sgt. Harvey Reed said his department received no reports of damage or injuries. There were no other immediate reports of damage in the region.

Earthquakes of such magnitude are unlikely to do much harm in regions with modern building standards.

“It’s extremely unlikely that there’s damage from this earthquake,” said Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena.

Jones said there would be strong shaking directly on top of the epicenter but not much farther away.

“At most, there might be some places where things were thrown off shelves, but that might be the extent of the damage,” she said.

The quake was initially estimated at magnitude 5.1 but was quickly downgraded, as often happens. But the computer system that monitors earthquakes in California also produced a number of erroneous reports around the main shock and scientists were having to sort through them, Caltech seismologist Kate Hutton told reporters.

“Part of the confusion of the earthquake was that our computer system took some small foreshocks that occurred within a minute before and stole amplitudes off the main shock and assigned a huge magnitude to the foreshocks, which was a mistake,” Hutton said.

An aftershock was also assigned too large of a magnitude.

“We always are refining our software, but we’re definitely going to have to work on that one,” Hutton said.

The temblor was a strike-slip earthquake on the San Jacinto Fault, the most active fault in Southern California, Jones said.

“It has historically the largest number of damaging earthquakes in the 20th century,” Jones said.

In the past two decades there have been five quakes of magnitude 4.7 or greater, she said, and in the 20th century there were eight quakes of magnitude 6 and above.

Rachelle Siefken was at home in the Riverside County town of Aguanga with her 4-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son when the shaking started. It was the first earthquake experience for both children, and her son was scared, she said, although the temblor did no damage to her house.

“I grabbed him up in my arms and I stood in the doorway with him,” said Siefken, who teaches English online for the California Virtual Academy.

Ex-NBA player banned: post Choking Teammate

Ex-NBA Player Banned: Renaldo Balkman Choked Teammate
Ex-NBA Player Banned: Renaldo Balkman Choked Teammate
Renaldo Balkman, a former player for the NBA‘s New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets, has been banned from the Philippine Basketball Association following an on-court incident.

According to a Reuters report, Balkman placed his hands around his teammate Arwind Santos’ neck as Santos tried to restrain Balkman’s anger over a disputed call.

In addition to the lifetime ban, the report states that Balkman was fined the equivalent of $6,100 over the choking.

As seen in the video of the incident below, Balkman also shoved teammates and coaches during his outburst:

Balkman and Santos were both playing for the Petron Blaze Boosters against the Alaska Aces. The Aces went on to win the game, 83 to 73.

Balkman has apologized for his actions via his Twitter account. He apologized specifically to Santos and said that he respects the Philippine Basketball Association’s decision:

Renaldo Balkman tweets the following on his Twitter:

 "I wld like to apologize to the fans, Petron Blaze, my teammates, the PBA and especially @tubidronald71 and @Arwind029"
 "I got caught up in the moment of a very intense game.I respect @Arwind029 as a person & player.I am proud to be part of @PetronBlaze fam." 
 "This was unintentional towards @arwindsotnas, I am a team player who always has the best interest of the team at heart." 

"I accept all responsibilities for my actions while playing an intense game, I have truly enjoyed my time here playing in the Philippines"

"I would like to apologize to @arwindsotnas a person who I truly respect and would never intentionally harm, my actions were irresponsible"

"I respect the Philippine Basketball Association and @PetronBlaze Organization, this situation will never happen again…its a lesson learned"

"I would personally like to thank my fans and teammates who have shown me so much support during this time"

Valerie Harper on Terminal Cancer Diagnosis: Im Not Dying Until I Do

Valerie Harper attends a signing for her book "I, Rhoda" at Barnes & Noble bookstore on February 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Valerie Harper attends a signing for her book "I, Rhoda" at Barnes & Noble bookstore on February 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Valerie Harper is always determined to enjoy her last days no matter what. In her first TV interview about her recent terminal brain cancer diagnosis, the 73-year-old Emmy-winning actress opens up to the TODAY show's Savannah Guthrie that she remains optimistic.

Diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis -- in which cancer cells metastasize into the fluid-filled membrane enveloping the brain -- the Mary Tyler Moore star has reportedly been given three to six months to live. But Harper told Guthrie, "'Incurable' is a tough word . . . I'm not dying until I do. I promise I won't."

Harper, who played Rhoda Morganstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff, Rhoda, explained she's "more than hopeful . . . I have an intention to live each moment fully."

Still, the beloved Valerie star clarified she's not in denial about the reality of her situation. "I don't mean this to be Pollyanna—I allow myself the grief."

"I also feel so much better not hiding," she says of coming clean with the public. "It feels awful damn good to be open about it, face it and see what you can do. If you die, you're not a failure. You're just somebody who had cancer. And that's the outcome."

We Didn't Handle That Well: Matt Lauer on Ann Curry's show

Ann Curry and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' "Today" show
Ann Curry and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' "Today" show
Matt Lauer and the gang at NBC's TODAY have seen better times. Lauer, 55, gets frank with the Daily Beast about his morning show's flagging ratings -- and the much-discussed (many say botched) departure last June of co-anchor Ann Curry.

"It was a hard time for everybody," says Lauer of the negative attention on the show. "We were getting kicked around a lot. Some of it was self-inflicted and perhaps deserved." Curry, 56, was quickly jettisoned from the show and replaced by Savannah Guthrie, and made a memorably tearful goodbye -- in which she noticeably declined a hug from Lauer. In the aftermath of her exit, the show's ratings continued to declne.
"I don't think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that," Lauer admits. "It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn't handle a family matter well."

NBC News' former president Steve Capus denies that Lauer was instrumental in pushing out Curry, who had only recently taken over the co-anchor role after many years as news reader. 'When Matt was informed that we had made this decision [to fire Ann], his good counsel was to go slow, to take care of Ann, and to do the right things," Capus explains. "He was quietly and publicly a supporter of Ann's throughout the entire process. It is unfair that Matt has shouldered an undue amount of blame for a decision he disagreed with."
Curry replaced Meredith Viera, who left the series in 2011; the Daily Beast reveals that Lauer approached former co-host Katie Couric to consider re-joining on the Today Show couch; the deal never went through.

As TODAY attempts a comeback -- and overcome Good Morning America to reclaim its number one spot among morning shows -- Lauer says he's "not going to whine or get depressed. Who's going to feel sorry for me? Nobody."

He adds: "In some ways being No. 2 in the ratings is a real shot in the arm, a kick in the pants . . . It makes you hungrier ... I don't think it’s a bad thing to have a fire lit under your ass."

Judge stop New York City ban on large sugary drinks

Judge halts New York City ban on large sugary drinks
Judge halts New York City ban on large sugary drinks
New York City's planned ban on the sale of large sugary drinks won't go into effect Tuesday after a state judge blocked the restrictions, calling them "arbitrary and capricious."

"The court finds that the regulation ... is laden with exceptions based on economic and political concerns," Justice Milton Tingling wrote.

Scheduled to begin at midnight, the law would have restricted the sale of sugary drinks to no more than 16 ounces.

The law would have exempted a variety of retailers -- including 7-Eleven, seller of the iconic "Big Gulp" drinks, because it is regulated by the state, not the city.

"The effect would be a person is unable to buy a drink larger than 16 ounces at one establishment but may be able to buy it at another establishment that may be located right next door," Tingling wrote.

The lawsuit was brought by a group of business associations -- including the American Beverage Association, the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State and the New York Korean-American Grocers Association.

The opponents argued that the city had overstepped its authority. Among other things, they said, the rules would disproportionately hurt small and minority-owned businesses.

"The court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban," the American Beverage Association said in a statement.

The mayor's office quickly vowed to appeal the decision. City officials believe the health department has the legal authority to use the ban to fight an "obesity epidemic," according to a tweet from Bloomberg's office.

Nearly 60% of New York City adults and 40% of city schoolchildren are overweight or obese, according to the decision.

But critics have decried the rules as a sign of the growing "nanny-state" and an unfair intrusion on personal freedom.

There will be smoke: Papal election

 Pope vote: cardinals approach the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican before the start of the conclave in 2005. This time there will be 115 cardinals casting votes twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, trying to achieve a two thirds majority plus one
Pope vote: cardinals approach the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican before the start of the conclave in 2005. This time there will be 115 cardinals casting votes twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, trying to achieve a two thirds majority plus one 
The first smoke signal from the locked‑in cardinals is due at about 6pm GMT today. I forecast black – no pope. While the cardinals are locked into their conclave, an umbrella is, perhaps surprisingly, in charge of the Catholic Church.

On his coat of arms, Pope Benedict XVI sported a mitre above the cross keys. The keys stand for the authority of St Peter, whom Jesus told: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Now that the Church is in the popeless condition of sede vacante, the mitre has been replaced by an umbrella (red and gold striped), the umbraculum.

The umbraculum is not in use these days, but if it were it would open out, not like the curly umbrellas in a Renoir painting, but flat on top. The papal umbraculum is the badge of the Camerlengo, the Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church. He is one of only two curial officials to keep their office during the sede vacante, but his powers are not wide.

If the umbraculum, the flabella (ostrich-feather fans), the pallium (a scarf of wool from lambs presented in a basket to the Pope on St Agnes Day, January 21) and other accoutrements of the papacy were instead connected with the Dalai Lama, we would probably think them mysteriously sacred, instead of rather odd.

Yet we like immemorial custom. Take the white smoke. At the weekend, Italian firemen fixed up a stove chimney to let it out of the Sistine Chapel. At the same time, carpenters fixed up a raised wooden floor over most of the Sistine Chapel, lest the elderly (though under 80) cardinals voting should trip over a step. It sounds like a recipe for an inferno, like the conflagration of the Houses of Parliament in 1834 through the burning of unwanted wooden Exchequer tallies in a stove. After all, in 2005, following the final vote that elected Benedict XVI, the inside of the Sistine Chapel was filled with smoke – and a Japanese television company had recently spent $4 million cleaning its frescoes.

The smoke, white or black, has no liturgical or political significance, and is of no great antiquity. It is a mere indicator of what is going on in the incommunicado conclave (no mobiles, no pigeons, no newspapers). It doesn’t really work, usually coming out grey. They used to add wet straw to the papers burnt after each inconclusive ballot. Now unspecified “chemicals” are added. A successful outcome has also been accompanied since 1978 by bell‑ringing, though in 2005 no one could find the key to the ringing chamber for a quarter of an hour.

If all goes well, we can expect a lapse of 40 minutes between the election of a pope and his appearance on the central balcony outside St Peter’s, accompanied by the announcement: “Habemus Papam! ”.

All this fiddle-faddle has grown out of a simple enough act: the choosing of a bishop for Rome. Before the Emperor Constantine cosied up to Christianity in the early fourth century, the lay people of Rome as well as its clergy had a say in the choice. For the next 700 years or so, the emperors and rival kings tried to gain control of papal elections.

There were counter efforts. The first German pope (if Ostrogoths can be called German), Boniface II (530-32), was named pope by his predecessor. He thought it such a good idea that he named his successor as well, but the practice didn’t catch on, for too many vested interests pushed their own candidates.

It was seven years before the Battle of Hastings that Pope Nicholas II decided that, from then on, only the higher clergy of Rome should have a vote for pope. These are what we call cardinals. Each is assigned a church in Rome. England’s Cardinal Cormac Murphy-Connor (a few months too old to vote) has the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (the one with a Renaissance elephant outside, bearing an obelisk).

A two thirds majority was introduced in 1179, and the locking-in of the cardinals in 1274 (the aim being to speed things along). The Sistine Chapel as a place to vote is a Johnny-come-lately, only having been built by Sixtus IV (hence its name) in 1480.

Often the elections were not even in Rome. Everyone likes to remember the election at Viterbo, a champion among lengthy conclaves, when in 1269 the city refused to send in more than bread and water after the cardinals had been deliberating for a year. When that didn’t shift them, the impatient citizens took the tiles off the roof. After three years they elected Gregory X, a goody who established relations with Mongolia but died after four years.

In that century the number of cardinals had sunk to seven. In the 15th century it rose to 24, then to a set number of 70 in 1587, at which it stuck until the 1960s, being raised to 120 voting cardinals in 1970. I had thought that Benedict XVI might have held a farewell consistory to name a handful more cardinals, perhaps including the current Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. It was not to be. So 115 will vote.

We forget how recently the security of a conclave has been certain. Pius IX (reigned 1846-78) was elected not in the Sistine Chapel but at the Quirinal Palace in Rome; he had to flee the city three years later. In 1878 the new Pope could not be proclaimed from the balcony for fear of violence. Pius XII was said to have made provisions for his resignation if captured by the Germans in the Second World War; election of a replacement would have been no easy feat.

Even when the Sistine Chapel was used for elections, the cardinals did not sleep in it, but in cells drawn by lot in adjoining buildings. It was uncomfortable, though each was allowed two servants. Today the cardinals stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a kind of clerical hotel round the other side of St Peter’s, near the Vatican railway station. They can talk during meals.

Secrecy inside the conclave is reckoned a good thing. Pope Benedict XVI tightened up the rules before he abdicated so that any cardinal who spills the beans is automatically excommunicated.

The voting process is not like a political rally. Speeches there have been, more than 100 since March 4, during the daily closed pow-wows – the “general congregations” of all the cardinals, including those too old to vote. Subjects have included Christian unity and care for the poor. Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, tweeted a bland tweet after one meeting, and the cardinals soon resolved there should be no more, even before the conclave.

An element leading to the election of Benedict XVI in 2005 was his sermon at the Mass of the Holy Spirit before the beginning of the conclave. It impressed. He was speaking as Dean of the College of Cardinals. The present Dean is Cardinal Angelo Sodano, presiding at this morning’s Mass before the conclave, but the difference is that he is over 80, and so ineligible to enter the conclave.

This afternoon at 3.30 GMT the cardinals will walk in procession into the Sistine Chapel, to the accompaniment of a litany invoking the saints: “St Michael pray for us… St Abraham pray for us, St Moses pray for us” – all the way through the ages, via Sts John Fisher and Thomas More, to St Charles Lwanga, a Ugandan martyred in 1886. “From every evil, deliver us, O Lord,” they will chant in Latin, the language of the conclave liturgy. “From anger and pride and all evilness of will, deliver us, O Lord.”

They will listen to a meditation by the Maltese Cardinal Prospero Grech about their responsibilities, take their blood-curdling oaths of secrecy and then they’re off.

Each cardinal writes the name of his candidate on a slip of paper (disguising his handwriting if he wants) and the slips are placed one by one in an urn (it used to be a chalice). The scrutineers count up the votes and (if they are all there) declare to the cardinals who got how many votes. Then they vote again, twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon till someone gets two thirds plus one. The laborious process would put the Lib Dems to shame.

Benedict XVI abolished the possibility of immediate election by acclamation, but even if the cardinals can’t decide within a few days, a two thirds majority is still required. An earlier experiment with a simple majority in cases of deadlock was thought to introduce an element of ganging up. It could take some days. One thing is sure: no one knows who will win.

Steven Tyler car: Buys world fastest street-legal car

Steven Tyler has been famous for his fast living ways.

And it appears Tyler has taken his reputation literally.

The 64-year-old rocker is showing driving off in the powerful, limited edition $1.1 million Hennessey Venom GT Spyder after a charity event on Sunday in Los Angeles
Fast and furious: Steven Tyler was snapped driving off in his $1.1 million dollar Hennessey Venom GT Spyder convertible after performing at a charity event on Sunday in Los Angeles
Fast and furious: Steven Tyler was snapped driving off in his $1.1 million dollar Hennessey Venom GT Spyder convertible after performing at a charity event on Sunday in Los Angeles
Steven Tyler has famous for his fast living ways.

And it appears Steven Tyler has taken his reputation literally.

The 64-year-old rocker was seen proudly driving off in the powerful, limited edition $1.1 million Hennessey Venom GT Spyder after a charity event on Sunday in Los Angeles

The Aerosmith frontman waved to fans as he sped off in the black vehicle, which is said to be the fastest convertible in the world, reaching close to 275 miles per hour at top speed.

The singer was leaving the John Varvatos 10th Annual Stuart House Benefit, where he performed alongside Aerosmith band member and lead guitarist Joe Perry.

Tyler wore his signature curly long hair loose over his shoulders, shielding his eyes with brown sunglasses as he smiled behind the wheel. 
I know I look good: The 64-year-old proudly waved to fans as he left the the John Varvatos 10th Annual Stuart House Benefit, where he performed alongside Aerosmith bandmate and lead guitarist Joe Perry
I know I look good: The 64-year-old proudly waved to fans as he left the the John Varvatos 10th Annual Stuart House Benefit, where he performed alongside Aerosmith bandmate and lead guitarist Joe Perry

Nice wheels: 'The Venom GT offers a very visceral, raw, driving experience,' said Hennessey CEO Don Goldman
Nice wheels: 'The Venom GT offers a very visceral, raw, driving experience,' said Hennessey CEO Don Goldman

An exclusive club: Steven's vehicle is one of only five in production
An exclusive club: Steven's vehicle is one of only five in production
He looked proud to be seen in the million dollar vehicle, which is one of only five in existence.

'With the hardtop in place, the Venom GT offers a very visceral, raw, driving experience,' Hennessey CEO Don Goldman revealed.

'With the hardtop removed, the wind and the growl of the twin turbo V8 will offer our clients an even greater driving sensation,' he added. 

Once a rocker, always a rocker: Steven was snapped posing on the red carpet in flamboyant dress alongside his Aerosmith bandmate and lead guitarist Joe Perry
Once a rocker, always a rocker: Steven was snapped posing on the red carpet in flamboyant dress alongside his Aerosmith bandmate and lead guitarist Joe Perry
Tyler posed on the red carpet prior to the event in a flamboyant white outfit beside his bandmate Perry.

The former American Idol judge wore white flared jeans, a white shirt, and a white waistcoat, accessorising with a checkered scarf and multiple colourful necklaces.

At one point he looked sassy as he stood with his legs apart and his hands on his hips while pouting for the camera.

Still got it: The Aerosmith frontman looked younger than his years with his signature wild long hair and brown sunglasses
Still got it: The Aerosmith frontman looked younger than his years with his signature wild long hair and brown sunglasses
Cool bike: Jim Carrey gazed appreciatively at a motorbike as he left a party with Steven Tyler at The Little Next Door in West Hollywood on Sunday evening
Cool bike: Jim Carrey gazed appreciatively at a motorbike while at a party with Steven Tyler at The Little Next Door in West Hollywood on Sunday evening

Cool and casual: The actor wore sunglasses and a brown jacket while attending the party
Cool and casual: The actor wore sunglasses and a brown jacket while attending the party 

shark protection Historic Day

Oceanic whitetip (2006)
The Oceanic whitetip is found in tropical and warm temperate seas
Three types of critically endangered but commercially valuable shark have been given added protection at the Cites meeting in Bangkok.

The body, which regulates trade in flora and fauna, voted by a two thirds majority to upgrade the status of these sharks.

Campaigners hailed the move as historic and said that the vote represented a major breakthrough for marine conservation.

The decisions can still be overturned by a vote on the final day of this meeting later this week.

The oceanic whitetip, three varieties of hammerheads and the porbeagle are all said to be seriously threatened by overfishing.

“Start Quote

    Cites is ready to come of age for marine species”

Dr Colman O'Criodain WWF International

Their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, as the trade in shark fins for soup has grown.

Manta rays are killed for their gill plates which are used in Chinese medicine.

Shark supporters have been attempting to get Cites to protect these species since 1994. But there has long been strong opposition to the move from China and Japan.

But a number of factors have changed the arithmetic.

Experts say the critical factor has been a shift in South American nations, who've come to understand that sharks are more valuable alive than dead.

"They've come to realise, particularly for those with hammerhead stocks, the tourist value of these species and the long term future that will be protected by a Cites listing," said Dr Colman O'Criodain from WWF International.

Regulate, not ban

While the vote to upgrade these shark species to Appendix 2 does not ban the trade, it regulates it. Both exporting and importing countries must issue licences. If a nation takes too many of these species, they can be hit with sanctions on the range of animal and plant products that are governed by Cites.

As the votes went on there were smatterings of applause in the hall and some high fives among campaigners.

"It is really significant for Cites to come of age like this," Dr Susan Lieberman told BBC News.

"To say we can deal with these species, we can manage the international trade and lets not be afraid of marine species."

  • The oceanic whitetip was once a widespread large shark species, but its numbers show a drastic decline
  • It appears as bycatch in pelagic (open sea) fisheries, but its large fins are highly prized, used in shark's fin soup and in traditional medicine
  • Hammerhead sharks are known for their distinctive head shape which may have evolved in part to enhance vision
  • The great and scalloped varieties are endangered; the smooth hammerhead is considered vulnerable. All have been given added protection
  • Porbeagles are found in cold and temperate waters of the North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere
  • Targeted commercial fishing and unintentional catches pose the biggest threat to this shark, which has a low reproductive rate
The extension of the authority of Cites into the international trade in fish has long worried China and Japan and the Asian nations were strongly against these proposals.

But many West African countries, who have seen their native shark fisheries destroyed by large offshore operations, voted in favour of the restrictions.

Another factor was money. Especially cash from the European Union.

The head of delegation told the meeting that extra money would be made available to help poorer countries change their fishing practices.

"If there's a need for it the funding will be available," Feargal O'Coigligh told the meeting.

The amendments can still be overturned in the final session of this meeting. And this realisation is tempering the celebrations.

"Cites is ready to come of age for marine species, " said Dr O'Criodain.

"As long as we hold these results in plenary. Maybe warm champagne is

Rihanna cancels concert after contracting laryngitis

With her chiseled features, the singer is able to pull off shorter hairstyles. And when she adds in her signature red lip, the look is a major hit.
With her chiseled features, the singer is able to pull off shorter hairstyles. And when she adds in her signature red lip, the look is a major hit.
Rihanna had been canceled her concert in Boston after contracting laryngitis

The 'Stay' singer - who kicked off her new 'Diamond' world tour - has come down with a severe case of laryngitis but is hoping a two day break from performing will cure her in time for her next concert in Baltimore.

Live Nation shared the 25-year-old star's disappointment with gossip website earlier, saying: "Unfortunately, following her sold out concert on Friday, Rihanna has contracted laryngitis and per doctor's instruction is unable to perform this evening."

But they said she is still scheduled to play a show in Baltimore on Tuesday, and her Boston show will be rescheduled.

A source previously claimed that Rihanna couldn't wait to get out on tour and took it easy in rehearsals so she could save her energy for her fans.

The insider said: "She's good, excited to kick off this [tour] and do it big. She's already hyped up and doing some light rehearsals but other than that, she's taking it easy. Saving all the energy for the show."

The singer was also said to have prepared for her new world tour with the help of her mother and boyfriend Chris Brown.

Chris has been in constant contact with the 'We Found Love' singer while Rihanna also turned to her mother Monica as she prepared to hit the road.

A source said: "Chris wished her a good show a few nights ago.

"She been talking to her mom, you know, getting her head right."

Rihanna Apologizes To Her Fans

Rihanna tweeted on March 10, “Boston, this is the hardest thing for me to deal with! I feel like we’ve been waiting on this day forever, and I’m hurt that I let you down. I hate disappointing people that never ever let me down!! I’m so embarrassed about this! Thank you for your prayers and well wishes!”

Rihanna is scheduled to play in Baltimore on March 12, which Live Nation says it scheduled to go as planned. Her Boston show will be rescheduled.