Browsing articles from "February, 2014"

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar-Winner, Found Dead At 46

Feb 2, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar-Winner, Found Dead At 46

Philip Seymour Hoffman poses at the premiere of the film A Most Wanted Man during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Sunday, last month in Park City, Utah.i i

hide captionPhilip Seymour Hoffman poses at the premiere of the film A Most Wanted Man during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Sunday, last month in Park City, Utah.

Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

Philip Seymour Hoffman poses at the premiere of the film A Most Wanted Man during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Sunday, last month in Park City, Utah.

Philip Seymour Hoffman poses at the premiere of the film A Most Wanted Man during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Sunday, last month in Park City, Utah.

Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won a best actor Oscar for the title role in the 2005 film Capote, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment at the age of 46.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the New York Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are investigating to determine a cause of death. The newspaper quotes a police official as saying the actor was found dead at his apartment in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

Hoffman’s first role was as a defendant in a 1991 episode of Law Order, he went on to appear in films Twister (1996), Boogie Nights (1997) and The Big Lebowski (1998). He was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War and was in the process of filming a sequel to The Hunger Games.

In a 2012 interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, Hoffman, who was then appearing on Broadway in the lead role of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman,said it is a play that provokes thinking on all aspects of life, including family.

“It really seeps into why we’re here,” Hoffman told host Steve Inskeep. “What are we doing, family, work, friends, hopes, dreams, careers, what’s happiness, what’s success, what does it mean, is it important, how do you get it?”

In 2009, he told Fresh Air that acting is a bit like athletics.

“What it takes to be a great athlete is the same thing that it takes to be a great actor,” says Hoffman. “… that kind of concentration, that kind of privacy in public and that kind of unselfconscious kind of experience are very similar.”

The New York Times says:

“Hoffman continued to solidify his status as one of his generation’s finest actors in 2008 with two very different roles. By choosing to play the lead in Charlie Kaufmann’s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, Hoffman again displayed his fearlessness, as well as his desire to work with the very best writers and directors he can find. That willfully difficult film never connected with mainstream audiences, but that was not true at all for Hoffman’s other picture of 2008, Doubt. John Patrick Shanley’s cinematic adaptation of his own award-winning play earned acting nominations for Hoffman and his three costars (Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis) from both the Screen Actors Guild, and the Academy.”

“Over the following years, Hoffman would continue to appear in a variety of interesting films, like Pirate Radio, The Ides of March, and Moneyball. In 2012 he again collaborated with Paul Thomas Anderson, playing a cult leader in the drama The Master opposite Joaquin Phoenix. For his work in that movie, Hoffman got a Best Supporting Actor nomination from both the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”

‘Ride Along’ No. 1 For Third Week

Feb 2, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on ‘Ride Along’ No. 1 For Third Week

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With Super Bowl XLVII weekend in full swing, “Ride Along” remained strong, steering Universal Pictures into the No. 1 slot in a surprising three-week takeover at the box office.

Topping multiplex sales since setting a January debut record when opening over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend with $48.6 million, the buddy cop comedy, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, made $12.3 million, as it nears a $100 million domestic total, according to studio estimates Sunday.

In the world of animation, Disney’s “Frozen,” now the fourth highest-grossing domestic animated release ever, is in second place with $9.3 million. The studio rereleased a singalong version of the film, as the movie’s soundtrack remains No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The film’s signature track “Let It Go,” sung by Idina Menzel, sits on the Billboard Hot 100 among the top 30. “Frozen” singalong shows, featured in 2,057 theaters out of 2,754, added $2.2 million, as the film crossed the $360 million mark domestically.

Another family film, Open Road Films’ squirrel comedy “The Nut Job,” took the fourth-place slot with $7.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $50 million over a three-week span.

Focus Features’ chick flick from a male point of view, “That Awkward Moment,” starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, has taken third place in its opening weekend with $9 million.

Universal’s “Lone Survivor” stands strong in the fifth slot with $7.2 million, as it notably crosses the $100 million mark, making this Mark Wahlberg’s 7th film to cross that milestone. Others have included “Planet of the Apes,” “Ted,” “The Departed,” “The Other Guys” and “The Italian Job.”

Paramount’s resurgence of the film adaptations of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” this time starring Chris Pine as the resourceful CIA analyst, came in at No. 6 with $5.4 million in its third week.

In its opening weekend, the Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin-starring drama “Labor Day,” also distributed by Paramount, opened in 7th place with $5.3 million.

Riding the Oscar nominations wave were the No. 8 and 9 films: “American Hustle,” leading the Oscar pack with 10 bids, and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which has five nods. David O. Russell’s con-artist comedy earned $4.3 million, while Martin Scorsese’s provocative stockbroker fete gained $3.6 million.

Rounding out the top 10, and dropping from last week’s position six, was Lionsgate’s big-budget “I, Frankenstein,” with $3.5 million in its second weekend. With an estimated $65 million price tag, “I Frankenstein,” in 3-D and starring Aaron Eckhart, has only a $14.5 million domestic total. But the film could gain a spike in sales overseas over the coming weeks, as it earned $13 million internationally when it hit theaters.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1.”Ride Along,” $12.3 million.

2.”Frozen,” $9.3 million.

3.”That Awkward Moment,” $9 million.

4.”The Nut Job,” $7.6 million.

5.”Lone Survivor,” $7.2 million.

6.”Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” $5.4 million.

7.”Labor Day,” $5.3 million.

8.”American Hustle,” $4.3 million.

9.”The Wolf of Wall Street,” $3.6 million.

10.”I, Frankenstein,” $3.5 million.


Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


Follow AP Film Writer Jessica Herndon on Twitter at

Parties fail to forge agreement on consensus govt

Feb 1, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from Nepal  //  Comments Off on Parties fail to forge agreement on consensus govt

A day before President’s deadline to form a consensus-based government expires, parties represented in the Constituent Assembly (CA) have failed to chart out a clear picture on nature and modality of upcoming government. 

Although the largest party in the CA, Nepali Congress, which has been claiming over the leadership of a new government, has received support in writing from just 13 parties until Saturday,  the formation of a consensus government appears slim as the country is now headed for a majority-based government. 

Before going to the President’s Office on Sunday to request him to make a call for a majority government , according to Article 38 (2) of the Interim Constitution, the NC is convening all party meeting again on Sunday to seek more support from parties in a last ditch effort to forge agreement on consensus government .

Seven more parties have committed to extend support in written form to NC on Sunday, said NC spokesperson Dilendra Badu. Though the parties have extended support for consensus-based government, but they will not be the part of the government most likely to be led by NC President Sushil Koirala.

” The exact nature of the modality of the new government will be fixed on Sunday,” said Badu. 

NC is of view that if Koirala can not be the PM of consensus-based government, he can be seen as unanimous prime minister. 

No party opposed on Koirala’s name so that he is unanimous for PM’s candidate, said Badu. An all party meeting called on Saturday did not gave any clear mandate for NC to lead consensus-based government as top leaders from CPN-UML were absent and another third largest party in CA, UCPN (Maoist), did not send any representative.

The fourth largest party in the CA, Rastriya Prajatanra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) said in written that the party will stay in opposition and will support or criticise the government after looking its acts but extend support to Koirala-led government. 

The UCPN (Maoist) skipped the meeting while few fringe parties said they prefer to stay out of the government.  As only 13 of 22 parties attending the meeting consented the NC to lead consensus government in written the parties later agreed to sit for Sunday in their last ditch effort to try to endorse Koirala as new PM through consensus.

Leaders attending the meeting said if the parties fail to collect written agreements from all 30 parties representing the new CA, process of majority government formation will begin from Sunday onwards. 

“If all 30 parties consent their support to NC to lead national unity government we will inform the president accordingly”,” UML leader Subash Nemwang said adding “If not, the process of forming majority government will proceed ahead.”

Posted on: 2014-02-01 09:25

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Panel to draft CA rules elusive

Feb 1, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from Nepal  //  Comments Off on Panel to draft CA rules elusive

A meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) on Saturday failed to decide the formation of a committee to draft the rules of procedure for the Constituent Assembly and the Legislature- Parliament as the fringe parties expressed reservations over the number of members on the committee.

The BAC, an all-party mechanism within the CA, did not reach a consensus after smaller parties questioned the size of the committee. A majority of the parties objected to the proposal of CA Chairman Surya Bahadur Thapa, who leads the BAC, to form a 15-member committee.

His proposal to incorporate five members from the Nepali Congress, four from the CPN (UML), three from the UCPN (Maoist), one from the Rastriya Prajantra Party Nepal (RPP-Nepal) and three from the remaining parties was rejected by the representatives of 26 fringe parties. Members from smaller parties demanded that the drafting committee represent all the parties.

Representatives from major parties rejected the idea reasoning that it would take longer to formulate the rules if the committee was large. A large committee will create more debates thereby lingering the process, said NC lawmaker Chinkaji Shrestha.

But smaller party representatives argued that since the rules of procedure determine the future course of parliament and the CA, it should be formulated in the involvement of all the parties. They also proposed a subcommittee under the main committee for building consensus on issues for endorsement by the main committee later.

Finalising the rules of procedure is crucial to run the House and start the constitution-drafting process. Ten days after the first meeting, CA and House sessions have been stuck in formalities in the lack of rules.

Posted on: 2014-02-01 09:59

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UN Chief Pushes For Quick Return To Syria Talks

Feb 1, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on UN Chief Pushes For Quick Return To Syria Talks

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The United Nations’ secretary-general pressed the U.S. and Russia to help ensure that peace talks aimed at stemming Syria’s civil war can soon resume, while Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday that it was “very difficult” to push Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to make concessions.

A week of peace talks ended in Geneva on Friday with no concrete progress and no immediate commitment from Assad’s envoys to return on Feb. 10 for more meetings with the Western-backed opposition as suggested by mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a conference of global security officials in Munich that he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting on the sidelines “to use their influence to ensure the talks proceed as scheduled on Feb. 10.”

The U.S. has insisted that Assad cannot be part of a transitional government, while Russia has been a key ally of Assad’s government.

Speaking to reporters on his return to Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said his delegation was “ready” and waiting for an invitation to return to Switzerland, in a statement carried on state media.

Ban urged the warring parties to “come back with more sense of earnestness as well as seriousness and urgency.” Specifically, he called on “both sides and the government in particular to allow the unfettered access required under international humanitarian law.”

An agreement to allow aid convoys into rebel-held parts of the central Syrian city of Homs has remained stalled, with the government and opposition accusing each other of holding up the aid delivery into the city, which has been under siege for nearly two years.

Lavrov insisted that “Russia can do nothing alone” and urged the U.S. and others to exert their influence on the Syrian opposition.

Lavrov said the humanitarian situation in Syria was “outrageous” but insisted “we’ve got to be realistic.”

“I can assure you that we are putting daily pressure on the Syrian government,” Lavrov said during a panel discussion at the conference. “It is a very difficult situation and to try to convince the government, which is waging a war, to make some gestures — this is a very difficult task.”

Kerry raised concern over the humanitarian situation, especially in besieged areas such as Homs, when he met with Lavrov Friday night.

He also insisted anew that the creation by mutual consent of a transitional governing body must be a primary focus in the next round of talks, according to a senior State Department official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the private meeting by name.

The meeting discussed the need for the opposition to expand its delegation, the official said.

The opposition delegation does not control armed groups inside Syria, including al-Qaida-backed militants, who say they are not bound by agreements reached in the talks.

Brahimi struggled to find positive words about the outcome of the first round of talks, but Lavrov welcomed “the modest but important results.” He said he hoped they would be “deepened and expanded” in the next round.

Ban said that “it is hard going but we have made a start.”

“The parties may still be fighting but now they are also talking – this is the only hope for a political solution,” he said.


Gier Moulson contributed to this report from Berlin and David Rising contributed from Munich.

Column: Could Percy Harvin Be The Difference?

Feb 1, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Column: Could Percy Harvin Be The Difference?

NEW YORK (AP) — He caught just one pass during the regular season, and did nothing but watch from the sidelines when the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers to get to the Super Bowl.

Funny, though, how many people can’t stop talking about Percy Harvin.

“Percy is an atomic bomb,” Seattle receiver Ricardo Lockette said. “He is the ultimate weapon for our offense.”

“When he gets in the game, I think everyone has to yell, ‘He’s in! He’s in! There he goes, number 11, number 11,” said Denver cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “He is a guy that can make it happen from everywhere on the field. You have to watch him.”

So far there hasn’t been much to watch in Harvin’s brief tenure with the Seahawks, unless you happened to be at the bank when he deposited the first chunk from the $67-million contract he signed after being acquired from the Minnesota Vikings for a handful of draft picks. There was a time near the end of the season when the odds of Harvin being put on injured reserve for the year were a lot better than they were of him playing in the Super Bowl.

But in the Super Bowl he is, and the speedy receiver who can’t seem to stay on the field could be a difference maker against the Broncos.

It’s a possibility Harvin is eager to embrace.

“I’ve been hearing X-factor and this talk,” Harvin said. “This is not my first rodeo. I’ve played in a lot of football games and I’ve been effective at doing that. I’m not worried about anything other than what I’ve always done, and that is go out there and play football the way I know how.”

No one has ever doubted Harvin can play football. He caught passes — and lots of them — from Tim Tebow at Florida, and had some electrifying catch-and-runs in the four years he played for the Vikings.

What Harvin has had is trouble staying healthy, from migraines that seemed to always occur at the wrong time to the hip injury the Seahawks didn’t see coming. And just when it seemed he might be healthy enough to give Seattle a playoff boost, he suffered a concussion when his head bounced off the turf of CenturyLink Field after leaping for a pass in the end zone in the second quarter of a 23-15 divisional playoff win over New Orleans.

His season stat line is a disjointed one, with Harvin on the field for a total of just 40 snaps. Including the New Orleans game he’s caught just four passes for 38 yards.

Hardly the kind of numbers that might keep Denver defensive backs up at night worrying. But worry they do, because Harvin can line up anywhere and do things that can change games once he gets the ball.

“You have to know your history on Percy Harvin,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “You have to go back and watch the film at Minnesota, see how they used him there, and see that he can do some things. You have to understand he is a guy that can play every position from the backfield to the outside to being in the slot.”

Just a few weeks ago, the Seahawks were about to give up on Harvin. His roster spot was too valuable to waste, and if it weren’t for an impressive workout session with quarterback Russell Wilson that doubled as a postseason tryout the day after the regular season, Harvin would likely have been done for the year.

He almost gave up himself.

“I’m going to be really blunt and straightforward. If it wasn’t for my teammates being there for me the way they were, I might’ve just shut it down,” Harvin said. “Just being discouraged, there came a point in time where the training staff didn’t know whether it was a smart idea to try to come back in the same season. I probably would’ve been done with the season if it wasn’t for my teammates.”

If the playoff game with New Orleans is any indication, expect Harvin to get a lot of touches Sunday night. He’ll be used in the slot and split out wide, and he will be the primary kickoff and punt returner for the Seahawks.

Break a return or a tackle or two on a route, and it’s entirely conceivable he plays a deciding role for a team that doesn’t have a lot of explosiveness without him.

“I want to hold up my end of the bargain and do the things I was brought here to do,” Harvin said. “I’m looking to go out there, play a great game and try to make some plays for my teammates. Just being out there with them gives me joy.”

Playing in the Super Bowl could salvage a season for Harvin and make up for a lot of frustration for him and the coaching staff.

And playing well in the Super Bowl could give Seahawks’ fans a lot of joy, too.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at or

Analysis: Obama’s Asia Policy Set Back By Democrat

Feb 1, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Analysis: Obama’s Asia Policy Set Back By Democrat

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s Asia policy took a hit this week, and it came from a member of his own party.

The top Democratic senator, Harry Reid, announced that he opposes legislation that’s key for a trans-Pacific trade pact that is arguably the most important part of Obama’s effort to strengthen American engagement in Asia.

Since Obama rolled out the policy, most attention has been on the military aspect, largely because it was described as a rebalance in U.S. priorities after a decade of costly war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But officials have increasingly stressed that Obama’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia is about more than cementing America’s stature as the pre-eminent power in the Asia-Pacific as China grows in strength. It’s about capitalizing on the region’s rapid economic growth.

That’s the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, an ambitious free trade agreement being negotiated by 12 nations, including Japan, that account for some 40 percent of global gross domestic product.

“The pivot is the TPP right now,” Victor Cha, director of Asian studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, told a conference at a Washington think tank this week on U.S. policy and the outlook for Asia in 2014.

The problem for Obama is that Congress needs to approve so-called fast track negotiating authority to move TPP along. Many of his fellow Democrats are against fast-track authority, which would require Congress to act on the trade deals negotiated by the administration by a yes-or-no vote, without the ability to make any changes.

In a bitterly divided Washington, Obama’s in the rare position of having more support for a key policy among his political rivals, the Republicans, than from his own party.

Reid, the Senate majority leader, said Wednesday that he opposed fast-track authority and that lawmakers should not push for it now — a comment suggesting that legislation introduced three weeks ago will go nowhere soon.

The Obama administration’s Asia policy has been welcomed by countries wary of China’s rise and expansive territorial claims. During the president’s first term, the U.S. made progress in strengthening old alliances with nations like the Philippines, forging deeper ties with Indonesia and Vietnam and befriending former pariah state Myanmar.

There were missteps. Angry politics at home forced Obama to withdraw from the East Asia Summit last fall, raising some questions about his commitment to the region. New military deployments in the Asia-Pacific — a few hundred Marines in Australia, new warships rotated through Singapore — have fueled Chinese accusations of a U.S. policy of containment while making little impact on regional security.

Asia got little mention in Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, adding to perceptions in some quarters that the pivot has dropped in the administration’s policy agenda in the president’s second term.

But he did urge both parties in Congress to approve fast-track legislation needed to make the TPP and a trade deal under negotiation with Europe a reality, saying it would open new markets and create American jobs.

While that legislation is co-sponsored by a senior Democrat — Obama’s nominee to become the next ambassador to China, Sen. Max Baucus — many in the party join with labor unions in opposing lowered trade barriers, which they worry will cost jobs due to increased competition.

But top Republicans who want fast-track authority accuse the administration of failing to do its part to mobilize support for it among Democrats in Congress — a task that will be complicated by the midterm elections in November. Lawmakers will be careful to avoid measures that could hurt their prospects of re-election.

In an emailed comment Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman remained upbeat about the TPP, saying that momentum developed to advance the TPP talks in 2013 is carrying over to 2014. He said the administration is working closely with Congress and is committed to bringing home a deal “worthy of broad support from the American people and their representatives in Congress.”

Ambassadors of Japan and Vietnam both say they want TPP negotiations to be completed before Obama visits Asia in April.

Japan’s Kenichiro Sasae told the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week that fast-track authority is needed because there are worries the U.S. would seek changes to the agreement. He also acknowledged challenges remain on auto and agricultural products between the biggest players in the TPP, the Japan and the U.S.

The good news for Washington was that the Japanese and Vietnamese envoys remained strongly supportive of the U.S. role in Asia, viewing it as a stabilizing influence in region beset by territorial disputes. Those tensions have heightened fears of a conflict, as China stakes its claims to contested islands in the East and South China Seas.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that from the president on down, the United States “could not be more committed to our relationship with Asia.” Despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s deep involvement in high-stakes Mideast diplomacy, this month he will make his fifth trip to the region since taking office a year ago.


EDITOR’S NOTE — Matthew Pennington covers U.S.-Asian affairs for The Associated Press in Washington.

Egyptian Satirist Signs Contract With New Network

Feb 1, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Egyptian Satirist Signs Contract With New Network

CAIRO (AP) — A spokesman for MBC Group says that Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef has signed a contract with a Dubai-based TV network and that a new episode of his show will air Friday, Feb. 7.

Youssef, who is often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart for his scathing take on current events, had his show canceled by the CBC network last fall.

CBC suspended the show, called “The Program” in Arabic, after the season’s first episode, saying it violated their editorial policy. It was critical of the military and the nationalist fervor gripping Egypt that followed the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Youssef also ruthlessly mocked Morsi.

MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said Saturday the network has been in serious talks with Youssef for the past few weeks.


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