Monday, April 16, 2012

Nicki Minaj Shuts Down Twitter Account After Fan Site Leaks Music

nicki-minaj-nokia-lumia-900-launches-03 Nicki Minaj is apparently unafraid of leaving her 11 million plus followers disappointed to express her outrage. The "Super Bass" raptress deleted her Twitter account on Sunday, April 15, shortly after blocking fan site for posting songs from "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded" ahead of its April 3 release in the United States.

Prior to pulling the plug, 29-year-old Minaj wrote on her account, "Like seriously, its but so much a person can take. Good f**king bye." Just minutes before, the "Roman's Revenge" femcee tweeted, "Exactly. Posted leaked music! *deletin twttr* RT @NickiBarbPink: @NickiDaily kno why they got blocked."

Whether Nicki Daily was the main reason behind Minaj's decision to leave Twitter is still unclear, but some of her final tweets read, "And that's exactly why I'm paying the barbz DUST right now! And deleting my twitter. Smdh - don't cry 4 me argentina," and "On 2nd thought I'll just follow a new set of barbz. The ones I follow r very mean and ratchet. *side eyes them* *looks into the sea for more*."

Although her account has now gone dark, Minaj has 30 days to reinstate her username. Her decision, in the meantime, is met with mixed reactions. One user wrote, "Who cares if Nicki Minaj deleted her twitter.. #imjustsaying," while another one tweeted, "when nicki minaj deletes her twitter and you feel like you have nothing to look forward to anymore... #NickiComeBack."


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Summit sex scandal takes shine off Colombia efforts

Summit-sex-scandal-takes-shine-off-Colombia-efforts Gracing the cover of the latest Time magazine and trumpeting his nation's security achievements, President Juan Manuel Santos had hoped the Summit of the Americas would showcase the modern face of Colombia.

Yet global media coverage from this weekend's gathering of more than 30 heads of state has focused instead on a scandal after members of U.S. President Barack Obama's security detail were caught with prostitutes in historic Cartagena.

The hotel incident - which has seen 11 Secret Service agents sent home and five servicemen grounded - outraged Colombians proud of their often-vilified country's push to become a major regional player.

"Colombia is not just prostitutes, drugs and violence, it's much more than that," said Maria Fernanda Martinez, 35, a Colombian tourist on vacation in Cartagena. "There are many better things to show the world."

U.S. soldiers and contractors backing Colombia in its fight against drug traffickers and Marxist insurgents have in the past been involved in sex scandals in rural areas near army bases.

A largely successful decade-old offensive against the rebels and cocaine cartels has allowed Colombia to begin shedding its international notoriety for violence and crime.

"The Colombian Comeback" was how Time put it, below a black-and-white portrait of Santos on its latest edition. "From nearly failed state to emerging global player - in less than a decade."


Headlines over the weekend, however, were less flattering for the host of the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting.

"The only media coverage of the summit is the scandal of the gringos and the prostitutes," said one Colombian diplomat based in Europe, who asked not to be named. "How shameful."

Details of the saga unfolded just as the heads of state began discussing weighty issues such as trade protectionism, Cuba and the war on drugs.

"I never thought the summit agenda had much hope of being achieved," former opposition presidential candidate Carlos Gaviria told Reuters. "But it turned into more of a media sideshow, a ridiculous distraction, than a serious political meeting of presidents."

The incident unfolded when the Americans brought a number of prostitutes back to a beachfront hotel near where Obama was due to stay when he arrived the following day, a local police source said.

At least one member of the security contingent flashed his badge and demanded that hotel staff allow him to remain with a woman, the source said.

Prostitution is legal in "tolerance zones" in Colombia, though also widely practiced outside those areas without sanction.

Cartagena residents, who had hoped to project an image of warmth and hospitality to the world, tutted their disapproval.

"This links Cartagena with prostitution and that's not fair," said Maria Consuelo Ortega, 33, who works in a store in the colonial quarter of the city.

"How can it be forgotten when it's linked to Obama?"

(Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Xavier Briand)

Support for Spain's PM falls as austerity bites

Support-for-Spanish-Prime-Minister-Mariano-Rajoy Support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fell sharply in April after his government announced deep spending cuts and health and education reforms to fight the sovereign debt crisis, an opinion poll showed on Sunday.

The Metroscopia poll published monthly in left-leaning newspaper El Pais reflects for the first time a negative sentiment of the Spaniards towards the centre-right government since it won the election by a landslide in November.

Spain is thought to have entered its second recession in three years and Rajoy faces the Herculean task of reining in the finances, boosting growth by implementing tough reforms and putting back to work the about one in four Spanish workers unemployed, all while facing growing social anger.

Hundreds of thousands turned out for a general strike on March 29 to protest against a labor reform passed earlier this year which hands more power to employers by making it cheaper to fire workers and easier to restrict wage hikes.

The 11-12 April poll showed Rajoy's People's Party would win a 38.1 percent share of the vote in an election, down from 46.3 percent a month earlier and 44.6 percent in the November vote.

It is, however, still above the Socialist opposition, which falls to 23 percent, against 24.4 percent in March and 28.7 percent in the November election.

Rajoy has been under intense pressure from the European Union and investors to prove Spain will be able to repay its debt without asking for outside help since revising unilaterally in February the deficit target for 2012.

The Metroscopia poll, which interviewed 1,000 people, reflects a sharp drop in support for the Spanish prime minister with 58 percent rejecting his policies against 51 percent one month ago.

A majority of Spaniards say the government is not managing well in the crisis (56 percent), is improvising (52 percent) and is not inspiring trust (70 percent), with 64 percent having a negative opinion of Rajoy's first 100 days in office, according to the poll.

All ministers also lose support in the poll. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos and Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro are amongst the lowest rated.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Pope marks milestones amid signs of frailty, succession talk

Pope-Benedict Pope Benedict marks two milestones this week and while his health appears stable, signs of frailty have again prompted speculation over whether he will be the first pontiff in seven centuries to resign.

Benedict, one of the oldest popes in history, turns 85 on Monday, and on Thursday he marks the seventh anniversary of his election as successor to the immensely popular John Paul II.

Speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square on Sunday, he noted Thursday's anniversary and asked for prayers "so that the Lord may give me the strength to carry out the mission he has entrusted to me".

Benedict is already older than John Paul was when he died in 2005 and is now the oldest reigning pope since Leo XIII, who died aged 93 in 1903 after reigning for 25 years.

"His health at 85 is better than John Paul's was at 75," said one high-ranking Vatican official who reports to the pope regularly. "He is a very methodical man. He looks after himself and feels that he still has much to do," the official said.

The Vatican has announced that he will visit Lebanon in September and he may go to Brazil in 2013.

"I'm old but I can still carry out my duties," the pope told Fidel Castro during his trip to Cuba last month.

Still, Benedict is increasingly showing signs of frailty and fatigue, signs that are being watched carefully for their possible effect on the future of the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church.

When he left for Mexico and Cuba, he used a cane at the airport for the first time in public, though sources say he has been using it in private for some time.

Last year, to conserve his strength, he began using a mobile platform instead of walking up the aisle of St Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican says it is to spare him fatigue and there is no concern about his overall health. His brother has said Benedict suffered two mild strokes before his election in 2005 and he reportedly suffers from high blood pressure and arthritis.


Where Benedict differs from his predecessors is that he is the only pope in living memory to discuss publicly the possibility of resignation, though others have done so privately.

In a book in 2010, Benedict said he would not hesitate to become the first pontiff to resign willingly in more than 700 years if he felt no longer able, "physically, psychologically and spiritually" to run the Catholic Church.

"Those of us who are over 75 are not allowed to run even a small diocese and cardinals over 80 are not allowed to elect a pope. I can understand why one day the pope might say 'even I can't do my job any more,'" said retired Archbishop Luigi Bettazzi of the north Italian city of Ivrea.

"I wish him a long life and lasting lucidity but I think that if the moment arrives when he sees that things are changing, I think he has the courage to resign," Bettazzi told Italian television on Saturday.

The last pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months. Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the papacy.

Every papal birthday or anniversary sparks talk of succession but there is no clear front runner to succeed Benedict, who has now appointed more than half the cardinals who will choose a new pope from among their ranks. Most are Europeans.


Since his election on April 19, 2005, succeeding one of history's most popular pontiffs, Benedict has been hailed as a hero by conservative Catholics and viewed with suspicion by liberals.

Elected when he was 78 - 20 years older than John Paul was when he was elected - he has ruled over a slower-paced, more cerebral and less impulsive Vatican.

While conservatives have cheered him for trying to reaffirm traditional Catholic identity, his critics accuse him of turning back the clock on reforms by nearly half a century and hurting dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.

He also has made a series of missteps that angered Jews and Muslims and lowered his popularity among Catholics themselves.

Before he was elected Pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was known by such critical epithets as "God's rottweiler" because of his stern stand on theological issues.

A quiet, professorial type who relaxes by playing the piano, the first German pope for some 1,000 years and the second non-Italian in a row has managed to show the world the gentle side of the man who was the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer for nearly a quarter of a century.

But two weeks ago he showed his resolve again, warning rebellious priests that he would not tolerate disobedience on fundamental teachings such as compulsory celibacy and a ban on female priests.

His papacy has been hounded most by the child sex abuse scandals. He has apologized to victims several times for the criminal behavior of priests years before his election but victims' groups say he has still not done enough to make bishops accountable.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Iran hails progress in talks on nuclear programme

Iranian-nuclear-facility-008 Iran and six world powers claimed on Saturday that they had made significant progress in talks in Istanbul on the Iranian nuclear programme and said they would start talking about concrete steps towards a negotiated solution to the crisis at the next meeting, in Baghdad on 23 May.

Speaking on behalf of the six-nation group, Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, said the new negotiating process would be guided by the "principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity", implying that Iran could be rewarded for accepting limits on its enrichment of uranium with a relaxation or postponement of sanctions.

The chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, also hailed the outcome of 10 hours of talks in Istanbul. "We have already said we support and welcome talks," Jalili said. "We had differences of opinion but the points we agreed on are important and tangible."

Ashton's and Jalili's deputies will now have the job of putting together an agenda of confidence-building measures. A senior diplomat at the talks said they had gone as well as could be expected, without dramatic breakthroughs but no unpleasant surprises either. "This was above the threshold of 'serious engagement' [from Iran]," the diplomat said. "But it's beer not champagne I am drinking at the end of the day. We have serious work to do."

Officials in the six-nation group said it would expect Iran to take concrete steps to reassure the international community it does not plan to build nuclear weapons, for example by limiting its advanced work on enriching uranium. But they conceded that the international community would have to reciprocate with its own concessions. One of those concessions could be to delay the implementation of an European oil embargo, due to take effect on 1 July.

"We will have to credible too," one diplomat said. Asked whether there was a danger of the six-nation group being sucked into an endless process without a clear outcome, he conceded it was a risk but added: "My patience is great but the world is a dangerous place" – a reference to the constant threat from Israel to take military action to set back the Iranian nuclear programme.

The Guardian

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