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Showing posts from January 17, 2014

RWE to sue after German nuclear plant shut-down ruled illegal

Germany's No.2 utility RWE is preparing to sue for millions of euros of damages after a federal court confirmed that a state's decision to shut down the company's Biblis nuclear plant for three months in 2011 was illegal. _0"> A spokeswoman for RWE said it planned the lawsuit over Biblis, Germany's oldest nuclear plant, which the state of Hesse had ordered closed as a precaution following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant. The spokeswoman declined to comment on the potential size of the claims but industry analysts have estimated that RWE suffered about 187 million euros ($255 million) in damages as a consequence of the forced shut-down. Shares in RWE, Germany's second largest utility by market value after E.ON, rose after the news and were up 4.7 percent, topping the German benchmark DAX index. RWE had filed a complaint in April 2011 against the state of Hesse. Last February, the Hesse Administrative Court said the order had been illegal, a

EIB taps green bond to record 1.5 billion euros

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has raised a further 350 million euros ($477.9 million) on its Climate Awareness Bond (CAB), making it the largest ever "green bond" at 1.5 billion euros, the bank said on Tuesday. _0"> The EIB's latest issue, which has a maturity date of November 15, 2019, continues a remarkable spate of such bond sales. Corporate green bonds raised nearly $10 billion last year, with about half of that coming in November. Proceeds from green bonds are used on projects to cut greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change or expand the use of renewable energy. Until recently, they were mainly the preserve of development banks, but interest has been growing among new buyers and corporate bond investors. (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by David Goodman)

Endangered female leopard killed while mating at Pennsylvania zoo

An endangered female leopard put in a cage to breed was killed by her potential mate, who a day later remained on public display at the Erie Zoo, wildlife officials said on Tuesday. _0"> The two Amur leopards, 5-year-old Edgar and 7-year-old Lina, were placed together in an enclosure at the western Pennsylvania zoo on Monday, said Erie Zoo president and CEO Scott Mitchell. Edgar attacked Lina, biting her throat. The leopards were separated and veterinarians were brought it, but Lina died of injuries to her trachea. Violence during mating is not unheard of but, Mitchell said, but in his 30-year career he has never lost another zoo animal in a breeding attack. "Many of these animals live their lives relatively solo, and they come together only to breed or mate, so it can be a kind of aggressive process," Mitchell said. Lina, who was on loan from the Minnesota Zoo, had been placed together with Edgar in the past without incident, Mitchell said. Edgar remains on d

West African lion threatened with extinction: study

West Africa's lions, which once prowled across the region in their tens of thousands, are close to extinction as farmland eats up their ancient habitats and human hunters kill the animals they feed on, a study has shown. Just around 400 of the animals were thought to have survived across 17 countries, according to the paper published in scientific journal PLOS ONE. "These lions are standing on a cliff looking at the chasm of extinction," Luke Hunter, one of the paper's authors and president of wild cat conservation group Panthera, told Reuters on Tuesday. "It would be very easy for small, isolated populations to be wiped out over the next 5-10 years." Fewer than 250 of the survivors were mature cats, capable of breeding, the study said. But even that ability to produce cubs was limited by the fact they were spread across wide areas in groups that often did not have enough lionesses to sustain a population. The study said there had been no comprehensiv

Toyota executive calls out Musk as battle for green car future heats up

In an escalation of the auto industry's war of words over future green technologies, a senior Toyota Motor Corp executive singled out Elon Musk and other rival executives on Tuesday and made a bold prediction for its hydrogen car. _0"> Bob Carter, Toyota's senior vice president for automative operations, said in a speech that he believed a hydrogen fuel cell car it plans to launch next year could eventually be as successful as its pioneering Prius gasoline-electric hybrid. Carter said "naysayers" who have spoken out against the technology would be proven wrong and referred to Elon Musk, founder of electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor Co, and former Volkswagen executive Jonathan Browning by name. "Personally I don't really care what Elon and Carlos and Jonathan have to say about fuel cells. It's very reminiscent of 1998, 1999 when we first introduced the Prius," Carter said at a conference held in conjunc

Danish pension funds invest in climate fund

Danish pension funds and the government will invest in a state fund to finance projects to fight climate change in developing countries, one of the investors said in a statement. _0"> PensionDanmark said it had committed 200 million Danish crowns ($37 million) to the fund, while a further 1 billion crowns will come from pension funds PKA and PBU, private investment fund Dansk V├Žkstkapital, the Investment Fund for Developing Countries and the Danish government. The fund is expected to receive another 200 million crowns from private investors in a second investment round, giving it a total of 1.4 billion crowns at its disposal. The Danish Climate Investment Fund will run for four years and have an annual return of 12 percent, PensionDanmark said. It will invest in projects which reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and transport schemes in emerging economies from Africa to Asia. It will also finance projects which help communities an

China's Shanghai announces new measures to curb pollution

China's commercial capital, Shanghai, introduced emergency measures to tackle air pollution on Wednesday, allowing it to shut schools and order cars off the road in the case of severe smog, Xinhua state news agency said. _0"> Shanghai was blanketed with record levels of smog last month, while air in the usually more polluted capital, Beijing, was relatively clear. The government warned children and the elderly in Shanghai to stay at home on some days. Xinhua said that Shanghai reviewed and approved the "special emergency pollution plan" on Wednesday. China regularly issues directives to tackle pollution in major cities, but efforts so far to clean the air have failed. Air quality is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has poisoned much of the country's air, water and soil. Authorities have invested i

Endangered female leopard killed while mating at Pennsylvania zoo

An endangered female leopard put in a cage to breed was killed by her potential mate, who a day later remained on public display at the Erie Zoo, wildlife officials said on Tuesday. _0"> The two Amur leopards, 5-year-old Edgar and 7-year-old Lina, were placed together in an enclosure at the western Pennsylvania zoo on Monday, said Erie Zoo president and CEO Scott Mitchell. Edgar attacked Lina, biting her throat. The leopards were separated and veterinarians were brought in, but Lina died of injuries to her trachea. Violence during mating is not unheard of, Mitchell said, but in his 30-year career he has never lost another zoo animal in a breeding attack. "Many of these animals live their lives relatively solo, and they come together only to breed or mate, so it can be a kind of aggressive process," Mitchell said. Lina, who was on loan from the Minnesota Zoo, had been placed together with Edgar in the past without incident, Mitchell said. Edgar remains on displ

West Virginia AG vows probe after chemical spill fouls water

West Virginia's top law enforcement officer on Wednesday vowed a full investigation of a chemical spill that contaminated tap water for hundreds of thousands of people. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said there was a lot of speculation surrounding the spill into the Elk River at Charleston, the state capital, on Thursday that shut off water to more than 300,000 people. "We had an absolute unmitigated disaster here for six days now where people are without water. This is not only utterly unacceptable. It's outrageous on every level," Morrisey told CNN. He said that his investigation would be designed to ensure that another such spill never happened again, and local, state and federal officials all shared responsibility. "We're going to look under the hood, we're going to uncover all the rocks and we're going to let the sunlight in," Morrisey said. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virg

Analysis: BP's U.S. Gulf oil spill settlement challenges may backfire

A year after agreeing to a multi-billion dollar settlement with victims of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, BP is aggressively challenging terms of the deal in a legal strategy that could backfire with the judge who will rule on the company's potentially hefty federal fines. The British oil giant has pushed for multiple reviews by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, complaining the claims system approved by the U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is overpaying for damages from the country's worst offshore disaster. BP's challenges directly question decisions by Barbier, who presided over the settlement and then himself approved claim terms. Barbier is also handling a separate government case against BP and has wide latitude to assess fines for violations of the Clean Water Act. BP expects the settlement with Gulf residents to cost about $9.6 billion, well above the $7.8 billion it initially estimated. Altogether the oil producer has provisioned some $42 billion to pay for cleanup

UN climate chief urges investors to bolster global warming fight

Institutional investors managing trillions of dollars should shift their portfolios away from fossil fuel investments toward cleaner energy sources to put a stop to the dangerous rise in global temperatures causing climate change, the United Nations' climate chief said on Wednesday. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told an investors conference at the United Nations that their investment decisions should reflect the latest scientific evidence of dangerous climate change to protect the health and financial savings of ordinary citizens well into the future. "The pensions, life insurances and nest eggs of billions of ordinary people depend on the long-term security and stability of institutional investment funds," she said in prepared remarks. "Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to those investments and the wealth of the global economy," Figueres added. She said the p

Alaska mine threatens salmon, native cultures -U.S. agency

Large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses serious risks to salmon and native cultures in this pristine corner of southwest Alaska, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a report released on Wednesday. The EPA said a mine could destroy up to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams and thousands of acres of wetlands, ponds and lakes. The report focused on the impact of mining in an area where a Canadian-based company wants to build a large copper and gold mine. Polluted water from the mine site could enter streams, causing widespread damage in a region that produces nearly 50 percent of the world's wild sockeye salmon, the EPA said. The Bristol Bay region supports all five species of Pacific salmon found in North America, which include sockeye, Chinook, chum, coho and pink salmon. It is also home to bears, moose and caribou. There is also the risk of accidents and pipeline failures that could release toxic copper concentrate or diesel fuel into salmon strea

Wet, wetter; dry, drier: U.S. oceanographer has hit with climate-change haiku

An American oceanographer who helped write an international report on climate change has condensed several of its key findings - such as how choices made today may shape the future world - into a collection of succinct poems in the Haiku style. The poems came to Gregory Johnson, a 20-year veteran of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as he pored over an executive summary of "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis," while holed up in his Seattle home on a recent weekend with the flu, he said. "I thought that if I tried distilling these ideas into haiku, maybe that would help fix them in my mind," said Johnson, a lead author on the chapter of the report dealing with the effects of global warming on oceans. "This was not intended for anything but my own personal consumption." After penning the poems and painting watercolors accompanying each of them, Johnson, heartened by feedback from friends and family, agreed to publish them

Pacific trade talks fall short on environmental protection: groups

An ambitious trade pact being negotiated among Pacific Rim nations so far fails to properly protect endangered species and could undermine existing safeguards for the environment, environmental groups said on Wednesday. Documents released by the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks show countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did not plan to sanction trading partners who break environmental promises - an issue that has caused a rift between the United States and others in the bloc and is an obstacle to finalizing the deal. The TPP would cover almost 40 percent of the global economy and create a free trade zone reaching from North America to Japan and New Zealand, and the United States is keen to wrap up talks in the coming months. But the World Wildlife Fund said a November draft of the environment chapter text, which was among the documents released by WikiLeaks, lacked teeth and showed countries were backsliding on past promises and their responsibility to stamp ou

Hotter longer, Australian heat wave pressuring commodities

Australia can expect even longer and hotter heat waves than the one now scorching wide swathes of the country, a climate research group said on Thursday, raising questions about its long-term position as an agricultural powerhouse. A blistering heat wave has settled over Australia's south and southeast for nearly a week, with soaring temperatures causing worry after players and fans alike collapsed at the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne. Temperatures on Thursday continued to rise, with the mercury in Melbourne set to tick over at 44 Celsius (111 Fahrenheit), two degrees higher than Wednesday when one player, Canadian Frank Dancevic, hallucinated the cartoon dog Snoopy before fainting during a match. Adelaide's expected 46C, though, will earn the distinction of being the world's hottest city on Thursday, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organisation. The privately run Climate Council, which includes former members of a government-funded climat

China's big polluters exceed emission limits - report

Online emissons figures reported by most coal-fired power plants and factories in China surpassed government limits, a group of NGOs and research institutes said, warning that the situation is likely to worsen in July, when targets get tougher. _0"> High pollution levels have sparked widespread public anger in China, and officials concerned about social unrest have responded by implementing tougher policies. Coal plants, iron and steel producers, and petrochemicals were the main culprits behind China's sky-high pollution levels last year, the group, led by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), said in its report. The group monitored real-time online pollution readings from 179 cities across China and said pollution exceeded government-imposed maximum levels most of the time. "Most of the heavy-polluting industries monitored can't meet China's current pollution standards," said Song Goujun, director at the School of Environment and

Pregnant women warned off West Virginia water in cleared areas

West Virginia officials said Thursday they have lifted a ban on drinking tap water for two-thirds of the customers affected by a chemical spill, but warned pregnant women to avoid it until the chemical is completely flushed from the pipes. One week after the spill into the Elk River prompted authorities to order some 300,000 people not to drink or wash with their tap water, officials have cleared more than 200,000 of them to start drinking the water again after tests showed levels below the 1 part per million level safety standard set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But pregnant women should continue to steer clear of the water in an "abundance of caution" until the chemical is completely undetectable, West Virginia American Water said. The company said the CDC had advised there is still a "limited availability of data" on whether pregnant woman are more susceptible and advised that state water officials "consider an alternative

Beijing's mayor urges "all-out effort" to curb air pollution

Beijing's mayor pledged on Thursday to cut coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and set aside 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) to improve air quality this year as part of the city's "all-out effort" to tackle air pollution, state news agency Xinhua said. _0"> The announcement by Wang Anshun came as the capital was blanketed in its worst smog in months. An index measuring PM2.5 particles, especially bad for health, reached 500 in much of the capital in the early hours. A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20. Coal-burning boilers inside Beijing's fifth ring road - covering the built-up area of the city - will be eliminated and measures taken against coal burning in the capital's periphery, Xinhua quoted Wang as saying. The city also aims to ban all heavily polluting vehicles this year, cut new car registrations and promote new energy vehicles, Wang said. Beijing reported 5

Wildfire rages in forest outside Los Angeles, residents evacuated

A fast-moving California wildfire, started accidentally by three campers, roared out of control in foothills above Los Angeles on Thursday, destroying at least two homes and forcing more than 1,000 residents to flee, fire and law enforcement officials said. The wind-whipped blaze erupted before dawn in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. By mid-morning, the so-called Colby Fire had blackened more than 1,700 acres of drought-parched brush and vegetation, Los Angeles County fire officials said. A thick pall of orange and black smoke hung over eastern Los Angeles County, stretching west to the Pacific Ocean. Drivers were advised to stay away as some 700 firefighters worked to save homes and cut containment lines around the flames, aided by eight fixed-wing air tankers and seven helicopters. Three men who were spotted leaving the area where the blaze began were taken into custody, Gl

Ex-DJ first in court in UK trials over showbiz sex abuse

The first in a list of ageing celebrities accused of sexually abusing young fans over many years went on trial on Tuesday in an investigation that has rocked confidence in the BBC, Britain's publicly funded broadcaster. One of Britain's best-known radio DJs in the 1970s and 1980s, Dave Lee Travis, who counted Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi among his fans, is facing 14 charges involving 11 women aged from 15 upwards that date from between 1976 and 2008. British-based Australian entertainer Rolf Harris also appeared in court on Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault, one allegedly involving a girl aged seven or eight. He is due to stand trial in April. The charges stem from a police investigation launched after the 2011 death of one of the BBC's top TV presenters, Jimmy Savile, who turned out to have been a prolific sex predator over six decades. There are now several investigations into Savile's case with victims mulling compensation a

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr added to Grammy Awards performers

Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will each perform at the Grammy Awards this month where the pair will accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the Fab Four, organizers said on Tuesday. _0"> McCartney, 71, and Starr, 73, will be joined by R&B singer John Legend, hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as well as country singers Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves and Keith Urban as performers during the 56th Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy said. Singer-songwriter Carole King will also perform alongside pianist-singer Sara Bareilles at the Grammys, which will take place on January 26 in Los Angeles. Previously announced performers at the music industry's biggest night include pop singer Katy Perry, French DJ duo Daft Punk, rock group Imagine Dragons, New Zealand singer Lorde, R&B singer Stevie Wonder and country singer Blake Shelton. (Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and James Dalgleish)

Murder by candlelight at London's new Jacobean theatre

London has a new theatre lit entirely by candles, transporting audiences back 400 years to the kind of performances seen on winter nights in Shakespeare's time. Constructed mainly of oak, the building sits alongside the established open-air Globe theatre on the south bank of the Thames - but it offers a very different experience by replicating an indoor playhouse of the early 17th century. While the Globe's thatched amphitheatre is breezy and holds more than 1,500 people, the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse - named after the American actor and director who came up with the idea for both venues - is intimate, with just 340 seats. Stepping inside is like entering an antique marquetry box, with the flickering candlelight illuminating woodwork and a painted ceiling that make a fine setting for the inward-looking psychological dramas of the Jacobean period. In many ways the small indoor space is an "anti-Globe," according to artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, whose pro

'12 Years a Slave, 'American Hustle' take top Golden Globes

The film "12 Years a Slave" took the coveted Golden Globe for best drama and "American Hustle" won best musical or comedy on Sunday in a kick-off to the Hollywood awards season that foreshadows a wide scattering of honors for a year crowded with high-quality movies. Only two films garnered more than one award at the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, an important but not entirely accurate barometer for the industry's highest honors, the Academy Awards to be held on March 2. "American Hustle," a romp through corruption in the 1970s directed by David O. Russell, was the top winner with three Globes for its seven nominations, while modest AIDS film "Dallas Buyers Club" starring Matthew McConaughey, took home two acting awards for him and co-star Jared Leto. British director Steve McQueen's brutal depiction of pre-Civil war American slavery in "12 Years a Slave," based on a true story of free black man Solomon Northup who was sol

Police raid Justin Bieber's home, arrest man for drugs

A police search of teen pop star Justin Bieber's California home on Tuesday in a vandalism case linked to the singer, resulted in the arrest of a man after drugs were found in the house, the Los Angeles County Sheriff said. Detectives raided Bieber's home at about 8 a.m. after the "Boyfriend" singer was accused of pelting his neighbor's home with eggs in an incident on January 9. Bieber, 19, was detained at his Calabasas home, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles while a dozen deputies searched for evidence. "He has not been arrested nor has been exonerated," Sheriff's Lt. David Thompson said at a news conference in nearby Malibu following the search. "We were looking at things that would put him or anything else at the scene," Thompson said, adding that Bieber's attorneys were not present during the search and the singer was not questioned. It was the latest in a string of incidents that have overshadowed Bieber's music c

Police raid Justin Bieber's home, arrest man for drugs

A police search of teen pop star Justin Bieber's California home on Tuesday in a vandalism case linked to the singer, resulted in the arrest of a man after drugs were found in the house, the Los Angeles County Sheriff said. Detectives raided Bieber's home at about 8 a.m. after the "Boyfriend" singer was accused of pelting his neighbor's home with eggs in an incident on January 9. Bieber, 19, was detained at his Calabasas home, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles while a dozen deputies searched for evidence. "He has not been arrested nor has been exonerated," Sheriff's Lt. David Thompson said at a news conference in nearby Malibu following the search. "We were looking at things that would put him or anything else at the scene," Thompson said, adding that Bieber's attorneys were not present during the search and the singer was not questioned. It was the latest in a string of incidents that have overshadowed Bieber's music c

U.S. senators slam 'glamorization' of e-cigarettes at Golden Globes

A group of U.S. senators is taking the Golden Globes to task for showing celebrities puffing on electronic cigarettes at this year's awards show, complaining such depictions glamorize smoking. _0"> "The Golden Globes celebrates entertainers who are an influence on young fans," the four Democratic senators wrote on Tuesday. "We ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC Universal to take actions to ensure that future broadcasts of the Golden Globes do not intentionally feature images of e-cigarettes." "Such action would help to avoid the glamorization of smoking and protect the health of young fans," said the letter signed by Dick Durbin of Illinois, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Edward Markey of Massachusetts." The Golden Globes ceremony that aired on Comcast Corp-owned NBC on Sunday night showed actor Leonardo DiCaprio smoking an e-cigarette during the broadcast, as well as nominee Julia Louis-

A Minute With: Sharon Jones on soul music, cancer and R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Cancer became the inescapable loss lurking in the background of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' latest album, "Give the People What They Want," the sixth release from the indie soul group credited with reviving the genre a dozen years ago. Jones, the 57-year-old singer who rose to prominence after a career as a backup singer and a stint working as a guard at New York City's Rikers Island jail, lost her mother to cancer while writing material for the album, and the brother of saxophonist Neal Sugarman succumbed to the disease too. Jones herself was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, which pushed the album's release from last August back to this week, and underwent her final chemotherapy treatment on December 31. The singer, who has been praised along with her band by Rolling Stone magazine as "extending and preserving tradition," spoke with Reuters about soul music, cancer, getting her due. Q: What is it like for you to see this album come out? A:

Filipina caregiver wins Israel's X-Factor song contest

A Filipina caregiver, once part of a faceless crowd of foreign workers who tend to Israel's infirm and elderly, has surprised the country by winning one of its most popular TV singing contests. _0"> Competing in Israel's X-Factor, Rose Fostanes, 47, swept the judges off their feet with a tear-jerking rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" on Tuesday night's live final. Her victory came as a surprise in Israel, where about 20,000 Filipinos work mostly as caregivers and cleaners. In the run-up to the final, Fostanes said she hoped her popularity on the show would shine a spotlight on Israel's low-paid foreign workers. "I didn't expect that I will win," Fostanes told reporters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, speaking in English. "Because I'm not Israeli and I don't have residence here and I'm only a worker," she said. For many Israelis, the word "Filipino" has become synonymous with caregiver, and Fostanes&

Dogged on disarmament, actor Michael Douglas earns UNICEF award

Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas says his main philanthropic cause - nuclear disarmament - is not exactly the kind of "touchy-feely" issue that celebrities and their fans covet, and it can be awfully frustrating when it comes to progress. It's one, however, he has stuck with for years as a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 1998, and for that persistence he will be recognized on Tuesday night with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Peace Award from the U.S. fund for UNICEF, the U.N. branch for children. "I was born in 1944, one year before the first bomb went off, and I hope in my lifetime to see the elimination of the weapons," Douglas told Reuters ahead of UNICEF's Beverly Hills ball, with childhood friend Dena Kaye, the only daughter of the late comic actor and UNICEF's first ambassador, by his side. That he is being honored with the Danny Kaye award is especially meaningful, he said, because he knew Kaye as a child, admired his impact on childr

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr added to Grammy Awards performers

Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will each perform at the Grammy Awards this month where the pair will accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the Fab Four, organizers said on Tuesday. _0"> McCartney, 71, and Starr, 73, will be joined by R&B singer John Legend, hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as well as country singers Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves and Keith Urban as performers during the 56th Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy said. Singer-songwriter Carole King will also perform alongside pianist-singer Sara Bareilles at the Grammys, which will take place on January 26 in Los Angeles. Previously announced performers at the music industry's biggest night include pop singer Katy Perry, French DJ duo Daft Punk, rock group Imagine Dragons, New Zealand singer Lorde, R&B singer Stevie Wonder and country singer Blake Shelton. (Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and James Dalgleish)

Spielberg tops Oprah Winfrey as most influential celeb: Forbes

Director Steven Spielberg on Wednesday dethroned media mogul Oprah Winfrey as the most influential celebrity in the United States, according to an annual study by Forbes magazine that was dominated by film directors. _0"> Spielberg's influence was boosted by his most recent film, "Lincoln," which earned 12 Oscar nominations last year including best picture and best direction, and grossed $275 million at the global box office. The magazine said the 67-year-old director's ability to attract foreigners to a U.S. drama about the back-room dealings and minutiae of 19th-century Washington politics spoke to his prowess. "Lincoln" grossed $93 million in foreign markets. Forbes said that 47 percent of people surveyed rated Spielberg as influential. "A celebrity's 'Influential' score represents how that person is perceived as influencing the public, their peers, or both," Gerry Philpott, president of E-Poll Market Research, which co

'Grown Ups 2' leads Razzie nominations for worst movies

The Adam Sandler comedy "Grown Ups 2" dominated the Razzie Awards on Wednesday with eight nominations, including worst picture and actor in the annual mock awards handed out for cinematic ignobility. _0"> Will Smith's "After Earth," a futuristic post-apocalyptic tale of a father and his son, was not far behind with six nods for the anti-Oscars that were created as an antidote to Hollywood's annual awards season. The Razzie winners will be announced on March 1, the eve of the Academy Awards, Hollywood's biggest awards fest. Tyler Perry's comedy "A Madea Christmas" also earned six nominations for the Golden Raspberry statuette, along with "Movie 43," a series of interconnected short films about a washed-up producer. The four films will be vying for the worst picture award along with big-budget underperformer "The Lone Ranger," which garnered five nods, including worst actor for Johnny Depp. "The list in

'Frozen' soundtrack ices Beyonce again on Billboard album chart

The soundtrack to the Walt Disney Co. animated film "Frozen" topped the weekly Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday for the second consecutive week, again holding off Beyonce. _0"> "Frozen" sold 86,000 copies last week, down from 165,000 the previous week, edging R&B singer Beyonce's self-titled album, which sold 79,000 copies last week, according to figures compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. Billboard said "Frozen" is the first soundtrack to claim the top spot for consecutive weeks since "Dreamgirls" in 2007. The soundtrack has been helped by the film's box office popularity, Billboard said, citing sources. The film has grossed $319 million at the domestic box office since its November release. Rapper Kid Ink's "My Own Lane" was the lone debut album to enter the top 10 this week, placing at No. 3 with 50,000 in sales. Rapper Eminem dropped a spot to fourth as 36,000 copies of his "Marshall Mathers LP2&

Bollywood's top film awards to be presented in Florida

The 15th International Indian Film Academy Awards, the Oscars of Bollywood's yearly $7.8 billion industry, will be presented in the United States for the first time this year, organizers of the event said on Wednesday. Bollywood's biggest stars are expected to attend the weekend event in Tampa Bay, Florida, from April 24-26 when the top prizes will be handed out. Indian actor Shahrukh Khan will headline the show. Andre Timmins, director of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) and Wizcraft International Entertainment, said producing the show in the United States was a natural fit. "For Indian cinema and Bollywood today, while we produce 1,300 films a year and sell 3.6 billion tickets, the important thing for us is that after India, America is the biggest second market for our Indian films," he said in an interview. "We have always wanted to come here." Previous IIFA awards have been held in Canada, Singapore, Dubai and Britain. "Barfi,&quo

Michael Jackson's estate, Lloyd's of London settle insurance dispute

The insurers of Michael Jackson's ill-fated "This Is It" London comeback concerts on Wednesday have settled out of court with the late King of Pop's estate over a $17.5 million policy, the attorney for Jackson's estate said. _0"> The settlement caps three years of litigation between underwriter Lloyd's of London Ltd and Jackson's estate over the insurance policy. The case was scheduled to go to trial next month. "The estate and Lloyd's of London are glad this matter got resolved," Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman said in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The insurer had previously asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm Mackey to nullify the policy, saying they were never told that Jackson was taking powerful drugs. Jackson died in 2009 in Los Angeles from an overdose of surgical anesthetic propofol while prepping for his series comeback concerts. The insurance policy was taken out to cover the ca

Music takes on different guises at Sundance Film Festival

Since the early days of film, music has gone hand in hand with movies, but a new crop of filmmakers is using music to explore existential themes of humanity that will be showcased at the annual Sundance Film Festival. "Whiplash," a contender in the U.S. dramatic competition, will kick off Sundance on Thursday and is the first of numerous films that use music as a tool to explore human identity at the festival, held in the Utah ski resort of Park City. The film, directed by Damien Chazelle, stars rising star Miles Teller as a drummer who enters music school and comes face to face with a teacher who challenges him to pursue perfection, pushing him to the limit. "It is such a singular film," Trevor Groth, Sundance's director of programming, told Reuters. "It really is one of the potential breakouts of the festival because it's so unique." "Whiplash" will compete against "Low Down," a coming-of-age tale following a young girl