Deputy head of top news, Americas
Claudia's Feed
Oct 2, 2009

Letterman victim of $2 mln extortion over affairs

NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters) – U.S. TV talk-show host David
Letterman said on Thursday he was the victim of a $2 million
extortion plot by a man who threatened to write a screenplay
about Letterman having affairs with employees.

An employee of CBS’s “48 Hours,” a documentary show that
regularly features true crimes, was arrested on Thursday in
connection with the case, CBS <CBS.N> said in a statement.

Oct 1, 2009

NY’s Empire State Building chided for honoring China

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Human rights activists slammed managers of New York’s Empire State Building on Thursday for illuminating the skyscraper in red and yellow for China’s 60th anniversary, saying the move honored a communist entity responsible for human rights violations.

The government in Beijing celebrated the 60th anniversary of the birth of the People’s Republic of China on Thursday with a high-tech parade featuring goose-stepping troops, gaudy floats and nuclear-capable missiles.

Oct 1, 2009

Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig sell out on Broadway

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, best known for playing big screen action heroes Wolverine and James Bond, have drawn record ticket sales for their play “A Steady Rain,” but it drew mixed reviews on Wednesday after opening night.

USA Today raved that the two actors put in “stellar turns,” but The New York Times’ verdict was “Big names, little show.”

Sep 30, 2009

Hugh Craig, Daniel Jackman sell out on Broadway

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, best known for playing big screen action heroes Wolverine and James Bond, have drawn record ticket sales for their play “A Steady Rain,” but it drew mixed reviews on Wednesday after opening night.

USA Today raved that the two actors put in “stellar turns,” but The New York Times’ verdict was “Big names, little show.”

Sep 30, 2009

Craig, Jackman sell out on Broadway, critics mixed

NEW YORK, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Hugh Jackman and Daniel
Craig, best known for playing big screen action heroes
Wolverine and James Bond, have drawn record ticket sales for
their play “A Steady Rain,” but it drew mixed reviews on
Wednesday after opening night.

USA Today raved that the two actors put in “stellar turns,”
but The New York Times’ verdict was “Big names, little show.”

Jul 29, 2009
via Global News Journal

How do you solve a political crisis? Hondurans try prayer

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By Mica RosenbergTEGUCIGALPA – A month after a coup that has plunged Honduras into its worst political crisis in decades, the country’s de facto rulers declared Tuesday an official Day of Prayer for peace.  State television has been playing announcements for days with the slogan “Let us all pray for our Honduras.”Facing international condemnation of a June 28 coup that has led to a freeze on multinational lending and threats of wider sanctions, Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, needs all the help it can get.”We ask God to save Honduras for us. We pray to God for all who are suffering in this crisis, and we pray to God to punish the wicked,” a priest saying Mass at the main Catholic cathedral in Tegucigalpa said.He did not say who he thought should be punished but the leaders of the Catholic Church have criticized exiled President Manuel Zelaya and backed the interim government, headed by Roberto Micheletti.But at least one of his congregation was praying for the return of the ousted president, a cowboy-hat wearing logging magnate known as Mel, who was toppled after allying himself with the socialist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. ”Mel is a good Catholic,” said Ana Josefa Lopez. “Just now I was praying, saying ‘God, open the way for Mel.’ If he doesn’t come back, we will not have peace.”   On June 28, soldiers seized Zelaya from his home and flew him out of the country. The Supreme Court had ordered his arrest and Congress backed his removal, appointing Micheletti as interim president within hours. Read our latest story on the crisis here.Zelaya is in exile in Nicaragua and Micheletti’s government has rejected almost unanimous international calls for him to be reinstated, vowing to arrest him if he returns to Honduras. Around 70 percent of Hondurans are Catholic and 30 percent Evangelical Christian, according to an official at the presidential palace. The official said the day of prayer was the initiative of Evangelical church leaders and it was backed by the presidency.  Catholic priest Carlo Magno also appeared on a state channel urging Hondurans to pray for peace.Religion is a powerful force in this traditionally conservative Central American country, and the Catholic Church has no qualms about getting involved in politics. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, believed to have been on a short list of possible papal candidates after Pope John Paul II died in 2005, has justified Zelaya’s ouster while opposing his expulsion from the country. ”He doesn’t have any authority, moral or legal,” the Cardinal told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo earlier this month.”The legal authority he lost because he broke laws and the moral authority he lost with a discourse full of lies. The most patriotic thing he could do is stay away.”Here’s another Reuters blog on the cardinal and a story by my colleague Daniel Trotta.Zelaya moved to the left after his election in 2005 and allied himself with Venezuela’s Chavez, a fierce critic of the United States and of the Cardinal.Marcia Ines Hernandez, who works in the Church of Guadalupe in Tegucigalpa, said with the crisis looking so intractable, “it’s a good idea to be inviting people to pray.” ”Many people are against the Cardinal, and Evangelical church leaders, because they say they should not get involved in politics,” she said. “There’s a split that’s dividing the church as much as the people,” she said. PICTURES: EDGARD GARRIDO/REUTERS – A Zelaya supporter takes pictures of fellow supporters in front of Metropolitan Cathedral during a cultural event in downtown Tegucigalpa July 12, 2009. AND: A man dresses up as Cardinal Maradiaga during a cultural event in support of Zelaya in downtown Tegucigalpa July 12, 2009, after the Cardinal asked Zelaya to stop attempting to return to Honduras.

Jul 26, 2009
via Global News Journal

Honduras crisis unleashes media wars

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TEGUCIGALPA – When ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya made a symbolic (and brief) return to his homeland on Friday, what could have been a potentially dangerous situation turned out to be a show for live television — a far cry from the bloody coups of the past in Latin America.Even as he walked toward the border in sight of Honduran security forces waiting to arrest him, Zelaya, in his trademark cowboy hat, took a call from CNN’s Spanish language channel and conducted a long interview with the broadcaster. The de facto leader of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, dismissed the scene as a media circus, “irresponsible, ill conceived and not very serious.” Micheletti’s interim government has been using the media, too. State television has been repeatedly playing rousing music over pictures of pro-Micheletti marches and slogans urging Hondurans to “Hold Firm” for peace and democracy. One of the most frequently played pieces is the stirring theme music from the 1980s movie about U.S. Navy fighter pilots, “Top Gun.” Periodically, authorities cut transmission on all cable channels and broadcast announcements about curfews on local TV stations. Uniformed police officers are hosting news programs.  At the time when Zelaya was staging his symbolic come-back on the border, state TV stations were showing a meeting of an electoral committee and a demonstration by Hondurans waving blue and white flags and holding placards (some in English) praising Micheletti and denouncing Zelaya.Television spots accusing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a socialist and ally of Zelaya, of orchestrating the coup are also frequent.  Venezuelan TV channel Telesur has been blocked in Honduras, leaving many with cable to rely on CNN en Espanol as their main source of television news from outside Honduras. (Spanish speakers should read this article by my colleague Juana Casas)Most Honduran newspapers support the new government and a pro-Zelaya radio station, Radio Globo, is the one of the few Honduran news outlets giving airtime to Zelaya himself. This may be the age of the Internet, but Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and Zelaya’s supporters, as he tells it, are “the people.” Some supporters of Micheletti have been using the Internet to try to persuade the outside world that Zelaya’s ouster was not a coup. To read a lively debate on this matter see this blog I wrote earlier in the month.As the crisis drags on with no immediate sign of a solution, tell us who you think is winning the media war.  Check out some of the web sites of the Honduran newspapers here:La Tribuna, La Prensa, El Heraldo, TiempoPHOTOS BY REUTERS show Zelaya on the border on July 24 and pro-Micheletti supporters a few days after the June 28 coup.

Jun 8, 2009
via Fan Fare

Obama’s Broadway pick wins Tony for actor

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NEW YORK – It’s been a good month for the August Wilson play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” — first President Barack Obama brought his wife Michelle to see it on their “date night” in New York, and now actor Roger Robinson has won a Tony for best featured actor in a play.Tony Award host Patrick Neil Harris told producers in the audience that they should “cash in and go presidential” after ticket sales for “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” were boosted by the Obama’s attendance.He suggested “Rock of Ages” become “Barack of Ages,” “Phanton of the Opera” should be renamed “Phanton of Oprah” — referring to TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who he said was “close enough to being president” — and “Mamma Mia” could be called “Obama Mia.”Robinson said there was a certain irony to the visit by America’s first black president to a theater which still retains a separate entrance to the balcony section — a legacy of the days of segregation when blacks were not allowed in the main orchestra section.”A hundred years ago the president of the United States would not have sat down below,” Robinson told reporters back stage after winning his Tony.”August would have appreciated that irony,” he said.The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson is best known for his cycle of plays chronicling 20th-century African-American life. He died in 2005.”Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” also won a Tony for best lighting design of a play.(PHOTO: Roger Robinson receives his Tony Award from Jane Fonda (Reuters/Gary Hershorn)