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Impossible Shapes, Duffy, Celeb DJs, World's Ugliest Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, June 23, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE IMPOSSIBLE SHAPES ease us into the week with the time-lapsing clip for "Infinity's Lips" from their new self-titled album.

DUFFY stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via NPR.

BROTHERS & SISTERS who kick out the jams -- like the Fiery Furnaces, Smosoh and Tegan & Sara -- talk to the Observer about the drawbacks and joys of working together.

HEY, MR. DJ: Jason Schwartzman, Conan O'Brien and John Cusack are among those who have sat in on KCRW's Guest DJ Project.

ROBERT POLLARD of GbV and many other bands talks to Indy Week about his side work as a visual artist.

JOURNEY is getting a second wind from new lead vocalist Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singer who they found leading a Manila cover band on YouTube. A new album featuring original songs and re-recorded classics that shot up to the fifth highest-selling album in the US since its debut three weeks ago.  I guess we all know the moral of the story.

THE CONSTANTINES are profiled in the Toronto Sun.

JONATHAN COULTON does a particularly amusing "Random Rules" iPod shuffle for The A.V. Club.

ROGUE WAVE talks to Drowned In Sound about all of the band's new beginnings in the past year, including leaving Sub Pop records: "Sub Pop are a great label, but they put out a lot of bands. They were a great label for us to be on, because you get that stamp of approval, you get Sub Pop on your record. Some labels, you're gonna listen no matter what band it is..."

SUB POP co-founder/label president Jonathan Poneman talks to Billboard about keeping the label in business for 20 years.

AMY WINEHOUSE has contracted emphysema and could be confined to a wheelchair within a month if she doesn't quit drugs.

GEORGE CARLIN is dead at 71. Insert some profanity here.

HUGH HEFNER: Family swinging, homemeade sex films, and a gay tryst all feature in an upcoming biography of the Playboy founder: "This is the most authoritative book ever written about me . . . It's all essentially true," Hef told Page Six.

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY: Violent surfers delivered a beatdown to about a dozen paparazzi trying to shoot the actor enjoying some tasty waves.

HEATHER MILLS has a hunky new toyboy, according to the News of the World.

DREW BARRYMORE & JUSTIN LONG are like "two peas in a pod," according to friend (and fab actor) Sam Rockwell.  Since it's Justin Long, I must make the obligatory "two peas in an iPod" joke.

JESSICA SIMPSON denies that her creepy dad-manager Joe fit her for a training bra.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Get Smart gets the top slot with 39.1 million -- about 10 percent above projections, in line with reboots of older TV shows and a decent start on making back its relatively conservative 80 million budget (its really more than that, but shh.)  The Love Guru bombed by opening in fourth with a paltry 14 million against a 62 million budget.  Kung Fu Panda showed strength in the second slot making 21.7 million in its third weekend.  The Incredible Hulk and The Happening both tanked in their second weekends -- 61 and 67 percent, respectively, to take the third and fifth spots.  Below the surface the story may be that Indiana Jones may fail to catch Iron Man by the end of their respective runs.

GET SMART:  I found Get Smart to be quite mediocre -- not bad, but not great either; the reboot completely rewrites the characters of Maxwell Smart and Agent 99, making it a far more conventional sort of comedy, even if it was refereshing to have 99 be the assertive half of the duo.  Or maybe it was just having Anne Hathaway in leather catsuits and reaching  up her dress for various gadgets that was nice.

ELLEN DeGENERES gave Portia de Rossi a glittering ring with pink diamonds for their upcoming wedding that will air in part on DeGeneres's talk show.

MINNIE DRIVER enjoyed a casual baby shower over the weekend.

IRAQ: The New York Times does an overview of the big security gains and lingering questions, blogs the security and social situation in each of Iraq's three largest cities, and charts progress on security and political benchmarks established by the Brookings Institution.  The last of the five US Army brigades to deploy with the "troop surge" in Iraq will return in July after a 13-month deployment.

GUS, a one-eyed, three-legged Chinese Crested won the 2008 World's Ugliest Dog Contest on Friday at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif.  Pics and video at the link.

WHAT DO YOU DO with an aged lemur? I must observe that Rollie looks a lot like the Lorax.

SIX TIGER CUBS debuted at the Small World petting zoo at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX -- after a group from Spring Hill Wildlife Ranch in Bryan allegedly tried to sell the cubs at a Wal-Mart parking lot in McAllen.

FUGITIVE MONKEYS: Trappers have captured 8 of 15 monkeys who broke out of the Safari Wild park in lakeland FL, by swimming a moat.

A POLICE DOG trying to sniff out an axe attacker overnight was thrown off the scent by an unrelated cannabis operation. No word on whether the munchies were involved.

2249 Reads

Bonnaroo, Islands, Guilty Pleasures, Cutout Bin, Clumsy Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 20, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

... with BONNAROO 2008!  Glide magazine's Pullin' Tubes has collected tons of video from last weekend's big fest.  Sadly, much of the Cat Power set has been yanked, but they missed her interpretive medley of "Blue Moon" and "(Dream) All I Have To Do."  The Broken Social Scene set is still there and "Shoreline 7/4" is pretty nice, even without Leslie Feist. The handheld fan footage of Pearl Jam isn't bad, including originals like "Better Man" and "Daughter" along with The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me."  Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings get the crowd whipped up with "Not Gonna Cry."  And though far from the stage, it's still fun to hear Disco Biscuits cover Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" and Alison Krauss & Robert Plant duet on Zep's "Battle of Evermore."  There's plenty more at that first link-- Ben Folds, My Morning Jacket, Tegan & Sara, the Swell Season, the Raconteurs and more...

LARGEHEARTED BOY has Hallelelujah the Hills singer and guitarist Ryan Walsh interview brother and sister Cassie Berman (of the Silver Jews) and Joe Marrett (of Hallelujah the Hills and Ketman).  Berman reveals: "The first record I remember us both obsessing over was the Chicago Bears 'Superbowl Shuffle.'"

ISLANDS stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via NPR.

RICHARD THOMPSON spends 60 Seconds with the Colorado Springs Independent.

THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL has a sampler of this years' artists available for dowload through festival partner emusic, if you're willing to do the site's free trial.

TEN GUILTY PLEASURES of the 80s, compiled by the B-List.  For legal reasons, they have no video for Prince's "When U Were Mine," but this live version from 1981 is pretty sweet.

14 SONGS YOU SHOULD NEVER PLAY IN A BAR, courtesy of Holy Taco.  Hard to argue with 'em, really.

SUZANNE VEGA blogs her status as a two-hit wonder and 20-year musician for the New York Times.  Steaming audio tracks at the link also.  Vega promises more on the DNA remix of "Tom's Diner."

GUNS 'N' ROSES:  Antiquiet had posted nine tracks from the long-delayed Chinese Democracy LP.  They're removed now, but the commentary is still there.

CUTOUT BIN: Walken's got a fee-vah to launch this Friday's fortuitous finds, including the Mummies, Stealer's Wheel, the Pixies, the Violent Femmes, John Lennon, the Zombies and more -- all of which can be jukeboxed or streamed separately via the Pate page at the ol' HM.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, Britney's knocked-up 17-year-old sis, isn't knocked-up any more, having given birth to a baby girl named Maddie Briann.

AMY WINEHOUSE could be in hospital for weeks after relatives vowed to do whatever it takes to make her quit drugs.

ROB LOWE wins a round in court as his ex-nanny's claims of labor code violations are dismissed.  The sex harassment claims move forward for now.

HULU's DAYS of SUMMER:  The online video service is rolling out a big video daily, including full streams of Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the Three Stooges Collection 1934-1936. N'yuk n'yuk n'yuk!

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY is more comfortable doing nude scenes than singing. She's probably not alone in that opinion.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are the semi-mod adaptation of Get Smart, currently scoring a (surprising to me ) 54 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, and the Mike Myers vehicle The Love Guru, which is scoring a (not at all surprising to me) 10 percent.  Get Smart even does well with the "Cream of the Crop" critics. Of the three that studios really watch,  Variety and the Hollywood Reporter are thumbs-down, but the most valued Roger Ebert is thumbs-up. BONUS: Anne Hathaway (Agent 99) is on an emotional roller-coaster following her split from long time bf Raffaello Follieri.

ISLAMISM in KUWAIT: They want to outlaw Xboxes and ban Christmas, do away with the Arab world's version of "American Idol," and keep female drivers off the roads. Kuwait is seeing a surge in conservative Islamist legislative proposals just one month after the country's Salafi Islamists and tribal candidates gained a majority in its National Assembly.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan and NATO forces have cleared Taliban militants from a district near Kandahar, killing or wounding hundreds of rebels, a provincial governor said Thursday. There was no confirmation by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

IRAN on Thursday it was ready to negotiate over a new package of economic incentives put forward by major powers seeking to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear work. Analysts also believe Tehran is using delaying tactics to press ahead with atomic work. An Iranian official said on Thursday time was on Iran's side.

IRAQ: Iraqi security forces launched a crackdown on Shi'ite militias in Amara, the latest drive in Prime Minister al-Maliki's campaign to restore order to Iraq. Among those arrested were Amara's mayor, Rafea Abdul-Jabbar, and a member of the municipal council.  The mayor, who also was acting deputy governor for Maysan province, is a Muqtada al-Sadr loyalist. Al-Sadr's aides complained that the mayor's arrest violated the spirit of agreements made in talks with the government in the run-up to the operation.  Iraq's foreign ministry says that Iraqi and US officials are seeking a compromise regarding a new security pact.

CHESTER may be Britain's clumsiest dog. He's broken bones falling down holes, broken his tailbone, lost teeth and dislocated his shoulder, smashed his face on furniture and falls down stairs every week.  Full list, and an a photographed encounter with a planter at the link.

A BLACK BEAR CUB is Lovin' It in South Brunswick.

CIRCLES the DUCK: Still under an order of protection in Mastic, NY.

CHICKENS ain't noise polution.  Or are they?

SKUNK on a PLANE delayed a flight from Miami to Bogotá for nearly 2 ½ hours Wednesday.

BOOMERANG, a racing pigeon, has flown back to her original owner, 10 years after he gave the bird away. A heart-warming story; compelling and rich.

1842 Reads

Mates of State, Bob Pollard, Conor Oberst, Harvey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

MATES OF STATE have made "My Only Offer"  the second video from their Rearrange Us album.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED: Sigur Ros, Sparks, the Dandy Warhols and Wolf Parade are among those featured on the latest episode of the long-running NPR series.

LIZ PHAIR is profiled by NewCity Chicago, while you can download and stream one of her "Girly Sound" demos, "Ant In Alaska," via the 'Gum and 'Gum Mix.

ROBERT POLLARD's latest band, Boston Spaceships, has a new song "Go For The Exit" to download or stream.

CONOR OBERST has two new tracks, "Souled Out" and "Danny Callahan," streaming via his website.

TILLY & THE WALL have a video for their new track "Pot Kettle Black." Profanity.

SHEARWATER frontman Jonathan Meiburg compares songs to sculpture and much more at the Montreal Gazette.

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO has his new song, "Always A Friend," floating around online.

REDD KROSS is back after a decade-long hiatus, and talking to the Toronto Sun and Rock Sellout. (Thx, Chromewaves.)

SOLOMON BURKE, the King of Rock 'n' Soul, is interviewed by Crawdaddy: "Liberace was soulful. In fact, you couldn't get any more soulful than Liberace."

SIENNA MILLER & KEIRA KNIGHTLEY cut very lean figures as they hit the red carpet for the premiere of their new film, The Edge Of Love, in Edinburgh.  Knightley really better have the metablism of a bird, or she's in desperate need of a sammich.  Miller, who now says her relationship with actor Rhys Ifans was never that serious, has confirmed she will play the role of Maid Marian in a film remake of Robin Hood.

BRITNEY SPEARS tried to kill herself on two separate occasions, according to a new unauthorized biography.

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY's girlfriend is due to give birth next month, but he had to be helped out of a Nicaraguan bar the other night after dancing with an assortment of babes, says a witness.

BRADGELINA are making plans to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia after Jolie gives birth to the twins, according to OK! magazine.

HOTTEST BACHELORS 2008: Equal time for all the gratuitous cheesecake I link can be found at People magazine.

JOHNNY DEPP kept a promise to give a 12-year-old the hat from his upcoming Dillinger movie -- and then some.

PAKISTAN: The architect of Pakistan's nuclear program on Tuesday rejected a report alleging that his network may have shared blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon with countries such as Iran and North Korea.

IRAN's Iran's parliament will on Sunday discuss a new package of economic, technological and political incentives aimed at stopping its uranium enrichment program.

IRAQ is committed to meeting a deadline for a long-term security pact with the US, as Washington confirmed it dropped a demand concerning the divisive issue of immunity for private contractors. The Iraqi air force is making great strides as it continues to train and begins supporting Iraqi army and police forces. Prime Minister al-Maliki ordered the security forces to refrain from random arrests of supporters of Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr in a new crackdown on militia. Iraqi officials say radical Shiite militias have agreed to let the government retake control of Amarah without a fight.

HARVEY, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who used a trampoline to escape over a garden fence, has been reunited with his owners.

A MOTHER DUCK whose six ducklings were sucked into a drain tracked her offspring for more than a mile -- across a busy roundabout, countless roads, a metro rail line, a housing estate, two school playing fields and hospital grounds -- apparently listening to their cheeps of distress at manhole covers.  Pics at the link.

PET GERBIL framed in automobile accident.  Looks to be a rear-ender to boot.

THE ROYAL COWS of NEPAL are in limbo after a special assembly voted in May to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy and turn the Himalayan nation into a republic.

THE TOP TEN NEW SPECIES LIST, compiled by International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. Pics at the link.

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Last Shadow Puppets, Teddy Thompson, Nicole Atkins, Pigeons   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS crank out a simple, but fab clip for "Standing Next to Me."

TEDDY THOMPSON's new album, A Piece of What You Need, is streaming in full this week via AOL.

DUFFY, THE SEX PISTOLS, LED ZEPPELIN & NEIL DIAMOND were among this year's Mojo Award winners.  Duffy was reportedly left in tears after falling afoul of Johnny Rotten.  Motorhead's Lemmy and Jimmy Page got along so well they wanted to swap phone numbers -- but neither could figure out how to work their cellphones.

AIMEE MANN stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

FAMOUS SONGS and their muses, including Patti Boyd, Sharona Alperin, Prudence Farrow, Caroline Kennedy and many more...

NICOLE ATKINS plays a new song, "Caught In The Way," on a bale of hay at Bonnaroo for SPIN.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills comes out as a heterosexual to New York magazine.

KATHLEEN EDWARDS is interviewed for All Things Considered, along with the stream for her NON-COMMvention gig.

BILLY BRAGG tells the Montreal Gazette that his new album is his stab at making it into the Soul section of the record store.

WHEN ROCK STARS ATTACK: The best on-stage outbursts, according to the Limewire blog.  With embedded video.

ANNE HATHAWAY dumped her shady longtime Italian boyfriend Raffaello Follieri,as his scandals were hurting her reputation. Despite their split, it remains to be seen if the separation is permanent.

AMY WINEHOUSE remained in hospital on Tuesday for more tests after fainting at home on Monday and being rushed to a clinic by her father, a spokesman said.

BRITNEY SPEARS's father intends to sell her Studio City home in the latest liquidation of her assets, it was revealed in Los Angeles probate court Tuesday.

LANCE ARMSTRONG dodged the Kate Hudson question on The View. Video at the link.

JENNIFER ANISTON's rep claims that a report in Life & Style magazine that Aniston wanted to exclude her He's Just Not That Into You co-star Jennifer Connelly from a group cover shot for Marie Claire is "absolutely absurd."

DENISE RICHARDS claims to be "setting the record straight" on her new E! reality show, "It's Complicated," but several sources who know the actress say it's a record that she's making up.

BRADGELINA are actual human beings, according to Jolie's Wanted co-stars.

SOPHIA BUSH of One Tree Hill is back on the market.

CYD CHARISSE, the long-legged Texas beauty who danced with the Ballet Russe, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, died Tuesday. She was 86.

THE DARK KNIGHT's running time has been confirmed at 152 minutes: "In the 1950s and early '60s we had long, self-important movies about Jesus. In the 21st Century we have long, self-important movies about Batman."

GISELLE BUNDCHEN tells GQ that current beau Tom Brady "really, genuinely doesn't have a bad bone in his body," though Brady's baby mama, Bridget Moynahan, might have a different opinion.  Bundchen also discusses her split from Leonardo DiCaprio, whom she dated before Brady.

IRAN said on Tuesday uranium enrichment was its "red line" and would continue, despite an enhanced offer of incentives from big powers to stop activity the West fears could yield nuclear bombs.  Meanwhile, Aacorrespondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian-language Radio Farda, was barred from covering a UN food summit in Rome, because he wanted to ask Pres. Ahmadinejad, "If Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia, and the second-largest gas producer after Russia, and has more than $40 billion in reserves, why does such a rich country have 7 million people living under the poverty line of less than $1 a day?"  Apparently, Ahmadinejad has responded in the past in Iran with answers suggesting that "the economy is managed by the 12th imam," a religious leader whose return devout Shi'a await to usher in a golden age, or by challenging conventional wisdom by asking, "Who says inflation is a bad thing?"

IRAQ: The Iraqi government and military continue to shape the battlefield for the confrontation with the Mahdi Army in Maysan province. Iraqi troops replace border guards. Local police forces are raised. Maliki gives deadline for Mahdi Army to disarm. Sadrists fear being targeted.  European and Asian companies are beating their US rivals into Iraq now that security has improved the investment climate, Iraq and US officials say.  A military judge has dismissed charges against a Marine officer accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha, amid concerns that a four-star general overseeing the prosecution was improperly influenced by an investigator.

PIGEONS are as smart as three-year-old children. And some art students.

FEMALE CHIMPS are total sluts. NTTAWWT.

ALBINO SNAKES fail to attack the police on their owner's command.  Oops. Video at the link.

MONITOR LIZARDS, JACKALS & BIRDS delayed over 100 flights in New Dehli, India, by straying onto the runway a day after a monsoon hit.

A PUFFER FISH sent a Cambodian teenager to the hospital by attacking the boy's scrotum.

4564 Reads

The BPA, New Releases, Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Qahr   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE BRIGHTON PORT AUTHORITY (f/k/a Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook) teams up with Dizee rascal and David Byrne for "Toe Jam," which is probably NSFW above and beyond the F-bomb Byrne drops. You have never seen so many black bars in one video.

NEW RELEASES: Wolf Parade, Tilly & the Wall, Verve remixes and Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue are among the albums streaming in full via Spinner.  The Silver Jews release Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. My Brightest Diamond unleashes A Thousand Shark's Teeth.

THE TING TINGS' Katie White talks to Daytrotter about how she and Jules De Martino celebrated topping the UK charts, the difference between playing London and Helsinki and more...

SPOON does the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, including a cover of Paul Simon's "Peace Like A River."

THE OLD 97s frontman Rhett Miller answers the usual 20 questions from PopMatters.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND  drops an F-bomb on the way to covering Tom Petty's "Dont Come Around Here No More" with Andrew W.K. at NYC's Centerstage.  Pair it up with TP & the Heartbreakers on "Here Comes My Girl" for Twofer Tuesday.

THE HOLD STEADY gets a positive review for Stay Positive in the New York Times.

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN:  Joan Wasser, violinist for artists like Lou Reed, Antony and the Johnsons, and Jeff Buckley, chats and plays a couple of her own songs for WNYC's Soundcheck.

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe talks to Metromix about the millennial angst that drives the new Accelerate LP.

ARTS & CRAFTS: The Canadian label fueled by Feist, Broken Social Scene, The Constantines and more is profiled by the National Post.

JEN & JOHN: Aniston and Mayer headed for a little R&R at Casa Aramara, the sprawling beachfront home of Girls Gone Wild mogul Joe Francis, in Punta Mita, Mexico.  Meanwhile, Aniston is said to have demanded that her He's Just not That Into You co-star Jennifer Connelly not appear with her in a cast photo for the cover of Marie Claire.

AMY WINEHOUSE has been hospitalized after fainting at home, her rep tells US magazine.

GEORGE CLOONEY has clearly got over his recent love split, as he is reported to be enjoying a visit at his Lake Como villa, from two beautiful house guests.

JESSICA SIMPSON likes to eat meat, much to the chagrin of Tony Romo's ex-girlfriend, country superstar Carrie Underwood -- and PETA.

BRITNEY SPEARS swam with the dolphins at the Mirage in Vegas over the weekend. Plus, the pop wreck will not be charged over an incident last year in which she allegedly ran over the foot of a paparazzo.

DENISE RICHARDS is considering shedding her clothes for Playboy magazine once again: "I think that my niche is as a sex symbol. I'm never going to be the girl next door, so why not play up my niche?"

ROBERT DOWNEY, JR, is in negotiations to star in DreamWorks/Universal's "Cowboys & Aliens," a pulpy mix of the sci-fi and Western genres that could serve as a potential 2010 tentpole.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE & MILO VENTIMIGLIA of Heroes were... wait for it... caught canoodling at the Kira Plastinina US Launch Ace Gallery in Los Angeles.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY's mother has attacked 'playground bullies' for a whispering campaign suggesting the 23-year-old actress is anorexic.

THE DARK KNIGHT; A tantalizing new video has popped up at Why So Serious?

STAN WINSTON the Oscar-winning visual effects artist whose resume stretched from the Terminator and Jurassic Park movies, to Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but with a ton of credits in between, has died at age 62 after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma.

"IOWANS are at their best when their backs are against the wall," said Gov. Chet Culver said Saturday, as the Hawkeye state was hit by floods and tornadoes. A tornado that smashed through a Boy Scout camp in western Iowa with little warning killed four of the campers and injured 48, but the state's governor and scout leaders said they marveled at how the surviving boys rallied to dig out their friends, set up triage sites and administer first aid.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS will raise oil production to record levels within weeks in an attempt to avert an escalation of social and political unrest around the world.

IRAN: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans Monday for new European sanctions against Iranian banking, oil and natural gas interests, signaling a growing willingness by Western allies to join President Bush in punishing Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program.

IRAQ: Although the Shiite bloc serving as the backbone of the current government joined the other political forces in rejecting the terms of the preliminary draft of the US-Iraqi security pact, it has taken steps to prevent the negotiations from breaking down under the pressure of opposition from much of the Iraqi political spectrum. A representative of top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Friday called Iraqi officials to show patience during the US-Iraq negotiations, terming pledges of withdrawing foreign troops from Iraq as transitory and elections-oriented. The signatures of more than two million Iraqi Shi'ites, demanding that Iran cease its interference in Iraq, were presented on Saturday during a convention in Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad, the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported. The government will take over responsibility of Anbar and Qadisiya (Diwaniya) provinces in the coming weeks. Iraq's security forces tightened their grip on the southern city of Amara on Monday and appealed to Shi'ite militias to hand over heavy weapons before a government deadline for launching a crackdown.

IRAQ and the MEDIA: The Associated Press that violence is down, armed extremists are in disarray, government confidence is rising and sectarian communities are gearing up for a battle at the polls rather than slaughter in the streets -- but that these positive signs are attracting little attention in the US.  Indeed.  If only there were an international news service that could get the word out...

QAHR: Hey! Did you happen to see the Most Beautiful Goat in Riyadh?

ORPHANED BIRDS are learning how to sing by listening to recordings of the dawn chorus. Tim Thomas, of the RSPCA, said: "The ability to sing is extremely important to the males of most bird species because it is vital for them to form and then defend their own territory and find a mate."

THE BIRDS: Train services were disrupted in parts of eastern India for three hours after flocks of agitated crows snapped overhead powerlines when railway workers tried to clear their nests, officials said on Monday.

A BEAVER took a nibble out of a fiber optic cable northeast of Hope and knocked out telephones and other services to part of southwest Arkansas. No evidence of squirrel involvement... yet.

SCREW THE POOCH: Leona Helmsley's pet pooch, Trouble, is going from rich ***** to good dog by throwing a 10 million bone to charity. A Manhattan judge quietly reduced the notoriously ill-tempered canine's 12 million trust fund and signed off on a deal to pay the late billionaire's two disinherited grandchildren $6 million amid allegations that Helmsley wasn't mentally competent when she signed her will.

2867 Reads

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