Tag Archive: France


http://movies.yahoo.com/news/jk-rowling-uk-press-left-feeling-under-siege-160752017.html

LONDON (AP) — Writer J.K. Rowling and actress Sienna Miller gave a London courtroom a vivid picture on Thursday of the anxiety, anger and fear produced by living in the glare of Britain’s tabloid media, describing how press intrusion made them feel like prisoners in their own homes.

The creator of boy wizard Harry Potter told Britain’s media ethics inquiry that having journalists camped on her doorstep was “like being under siege and like being a hostage.” Miller said years of car chases, midnight pursuits and intimate revelations had left her feeling violated, paranoid and anxious.

“The attitude seems to be absolutely cavalier,” Rowling said. “You’re famous, you’re asking for it.”

The pair were among a diverse cast of witnesses — Hollywood star Hugh Grant, a former soccer player, a former aide to supermodel Elle Macpherson and the parents of missing and murdered children — who have described how becoming the focus of Britain’s tabloid press wreaked havoc on their lives.

Rowling said she was completely unprepared for the media attention she began to receive when her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” became a sensation. The seven Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies, spawned a hit movie series and propelled Rowling from struggling single mother to one of Britain’s richest people.

“When you become well-known … no one gives you a guidebook,” she said.

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the inquiry amid a still-unfolding scandal over illegal eavesdropping by the News of the World tabloid. Owner Rupert Murdoch closed down the newspaper in July after evidence emerged that it had illegally accessed the mobile phone voice mails of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims in its search of scoops.

More than a dozen News of the World journalists and editors have been arrested, and the scandal has also claimed the jobs of two top London police officers, Cameron’s media adviser and several senior Murdoch executives.

It has also set off national soul-searching about the balance between press freedom and individual privacy.

Rowling, 46, said media interest in her began shortly after the publication of her first novel in 1997 and soon escalated, with photographers and reporters frequently stationed outside her home. She eventually moved after stories and photographs revealed the location of her house.

“I can’t put an invisibility cloaking device over myself or my house, nor would I want to,” Rowling said. But, she added, “it feels threatening to have people watching you.”

Rowling said she had always tried to keep her three children out of the media glare, and was outraged when her eldest daughter came home from primary school with a letter from a journalist in her backpack.

“I felt such a sense of invasion,” Rowling said. “It’s very difficult to say how angry I felt that my 5-year-old daughter’s school was no longer a place of complete security from journalists.”

By the time her younger children were born in 2003 and 2005, Rowling said, the scrutiny was “like being under siege and like being a hostage.”

She also described how, early on in their relationship, her now-husband Neil Murray gave personal details over the phone to a reporter who was pretending to be a tax official. An article about him duly appeared in a tabloid paper.

“That was a not-very-nice introduction to being involved with someone famous,” Rowling said.

Rowling told the inquiry she had gone to court or to Britain’s press watchdog more than 50 times over pictures of her children or false stories, which included a claim by the Daily Express that unpleasant fictional wizard Gilderoy Lockhart had been based on her first husband.

Before the final Potter book appeared in 2007, a reporter even phoned the head teacher of her daughter’s school, falsely claiming the child had revealed that Harry Potter died at the end, in an apparent bid to learn secrets of the plot.

Miller, who became a tabloid staple when she dated fellow actor Jude Law, said the constant scrutiny left her feeling “very violated and very paranoid and anxious, constantly.”

“I felt like I was living in some sort of video game,” she said.

“For a number of years I was relentlessly pursued by 10 to 15 men, almost daily,” she said. “Spat at, verbally abused.

“I would often find myself, at the age of 21, at midnight, running down a dark street on my own with 10 men chasing me. And the fact they had cameras in their hands made that legal.”

The 29-year-old actress told the inquiry that a stream of personal stories about her in the tabloids led her to accuse friends and family of leaking information to the media. In fact, her cell phone voice mails had been hacked by the News of the World.

Miller, the star of “Layer Cake” and “Alfie,” was one of the first celebrities to take the Murdoch tabloid to court over illegal eavesdropping. In May, the newspaper agreed to pay her 100,000 pounds ($160,000) to settle claims her phone had been hacked.

The newspaper’s parent company now faces dozens of lawsuits from alleged hacking victims.

Also testifying Thursday was former Formula One boss Max Mosley, who has campaigned for a privacy law since his interest in sadomasochistic sex was exposed in the News of the World.

Mosley successfully sued the News of the World over a 2008 story headlined “Formula One boss has sick Nazi orgy with five hookers.” Mosley has acknowledged the orgy, but argued that the story — obtained with a hidden camera — was an “outrageous” invasion of privacy. He said the Nazi allegation was damaging and “completely untrue.”

Mosley said he has had stories about the incident removed from 193 websites around the world, and is currently taking legal action “in 22 or 23 different countries,” including proceedings against search engine Google in France and Germany.

“Invasion of privacy is worse than burglary,” Mosley said. “Because if somebody burgles your house … you can replace the things that have been taken.”

High-profile witnesses still to come include CNN celebrity interviewer Piers Morgan, who has denied using phone hacking while he was editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper.

The inquiry, led by Judge Brian Leveson, plans to issue a report next year and could recommend major changes to Britain’s system of media self regulation.

Rowling said that she supported freedom the press, but that a new body was needed to replace the “toothless” Press Complaints Commission.

“I can’t pretend that I have a magical answer,” she said. “No Harry Potter joke intended.”

___

Leveson Inquiry: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/

Jill Lawless can be reached at: http://twitter.com/JillLawless

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Palestine wins UNESCO seat

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/palestine-wins-unesco-seat-143002573.html

 

Palestine won full admission into UNESCO, the United Nations science, education and cultural heritage organization, in a closely watched vote in Paris Monday. Global diplomacy hands view the 107-14 vote as a benchmark carrying larger implications for the Palestinians’ bid for state recognition before the UN Security Council. Both the United States and Israel have strongly opposed both initiatives.

 

The United States, Israel, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia were among the 14 nations voting against the Palestinians’ UNESCO bid, while 107 countries–including France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, India, Russia, China, South Africa and Indonesia–voted in favor. Fourteen nations–including the United Kingdom and Italy–abstained.

Washington, which called the UNESCO vote “premature” Monday, has threatened to cut off funding to UNESCO if Palestine is granted membership. The United States currently accounts for about one-fifth of the organization’s budget.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also rejected the UNESCO vote, and warned it would set back peace process.

“This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement,” the Israeli ministry said in a statement.  “This decision will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations.”

Palestine’s successful UNESCO bid comes as Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair is due to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Monday.

Blair has been trying to advance the Quartet’s efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, asking each side to lay out their specific terms for resolving the issues of borders and security for a two-state solution. Meanwhile, Israeli officials have been depicting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as an unworthy peace partner.

Abbas, in turn, has recently reiterated his periodic threat to dissolve the Palestinian Authority–a move that if carried out would presumably give Israel the burden of administering, funding, and coordinating security for the West Bank’s Palestinian population.

Libya Leader Wants NATO Presence Through 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/world/middleeast/libya-leader-wants-nato-presence-through-2011.html

Libya’s interim leader said on Wednesday that NATO should extend its air patrols over the country through the end of 2011 despite the death and burial of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and the formal declaration that the country’s violent revolution was over.       The assertion by the interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, chairman of the Transitional National Council, appeared to be a tacit admission that armed remnants of Colonel Qaddafi’s defeated disciples could possibly regroup and cause new trouble for Libya in the months ahead.

Mr. Jalil spoke as NATO was preparing within days to formally end its operations in Libya, which have been credited with helping anti-Qaddafi fighters topple Colonel Qaddafi’s regime in an eight-month conflict that was the most violent of the Arab Spring uprisings.

NATO warplanes also helped flush out Colonel Qaddafi and his subordinates from their final hideaway last Thursday in his hometown, Surt, where he and dozens, if not hundreds, of loyalists were killed, ending his 42-year tenure as one of the Arab world’s most ruthless dictators.

Mr. Abdel-Jalil formally declared the conflict over on Sunday, and Colonel Qaddafi, along with one of his sons and former defense minister, were buried in a secret location on Tuesday.

“We have asked NATO to stay until the end of the year to protect citizens from Qaddafi loyalists,” Mr. Jalil said at a news conference in Doha, Qatar, where he was attending a meeting of other countries that have assisted the anti-Qaddafi forces in the conflict.

Asserting that he was also concerned about efforts by remaining supporters of Colonel Qaddafi to take refuge abroad, Mr. Abdel-Jalil said: “We seek technical support for training for our forces on the ground. We hope NATO can sustain its operations over Libya, but if they do not we are still thankful.”

NATO ministers last week tentatively set Oct. 31 as the end of their military operations in Libya, which were conducted under the auspices of a Security Council resolution to protect Libyan civilians from reprisals by Colonel Qaddafi’s military during the conflict.

The NATO ministers had been scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Brussels to finalize the termination date but abruptly postponed that meeting to Friday, presumably to weigh Mr. Abdel-Jalil’s request for an extension.

Qatar, one of the first Arab countries to recognize the coalition of anti-Qaddafi rebels that toppled Colonel Qaddafi’s regime, disclosed for the first time on Wednesday that it had deployed hundreds of soldiers on the ground in Libya to help them.

The disclosure came in an interview conducted by Agence France-Presse with Qatar’s military chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya, at the Doha meeting. He also was quoted as saying that the Qataris had been “running the training and communication operations” of the anti-Qaddafi forces in Libya.

Previously, Qatar had said only that it was providing some air support, water, weapons and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other aid to the rebels battling Colonel Qaddafi’s military.

There were unconfirmed reports from Libya that Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a son of Colonel Qaddafi who was once considered his heir apparent and is still on the run, was seeking to turn himself in at an undisclosed location. But a person close to the Qaddafi family said that he had no knowledge of Seif al Islam’s whereabouts and that his surrender at this time was extremely unlikely. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to prevent harassment from Qaddafi opponents.

Reporting was contributed by Adam Nossiter and David D. Kirkpatrick in Tripoli, Libya.

Islamists claim win in Tunisia’s Arab Spring vote

http://news.yahoo.com/tunisia-counts-votes-first-arab-spring-election-011055438.html

TUNIS (Reuters) – Moderate Islamists claimed victory on Monday in Tunisia’s first democratic election, sending a message to other states in the region that long-sidelined Islamists are challenging for power after the “Arab Spring.”

Official results have not been announced, but the Ennahda party said its workers had tallied the results posted at polling stations after Sunday’s vote, the first since the uprisings which began in Tunisia and spread through the region.

“The first confirmed results show that Ennahda has obtained first place,” campaign manager Abdelhamid Jlazzi said outside party headquarters in the center of the Tunisian capital.

As he spoke, a crowd of more than 300 in the street shouted “Allahu Akbar!” or “God is great!” Other people started singing the Tunisian national anthem.

Mindful that some people in Tunisia and elsewhere see the resurgence of Islamists as a threat to modern, liberal values, party officials said they were prepared to form an alliance with two secularist parties, Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol.

“We will spare no effort to create a stable political alliance … We reassure the investors and international economic partners,” Jlazzi said.

Sunday’s vote was for an assembly which will sit for one year to draft a new constitution. It will also appoint a new interim president and government to run the country until fresh elections late next year or early in 2013.

The voting system has built-in checks and balances which make it nearly impossible for any one party to have a majority, compelling Ennahda to seek alliances with secularist parties, which will dilute its influence.

“This is an historic moment,” said Zeinab Omri, a young woman in a hijab, or Islamic head scarf, who was outside the Ennahda headquarters when party officials claimed victory.

“No one can doubt this result. This result shows very clearly that the Tunisian people is a people attached to its Islamic identity,” she said.

REVOLUTION INSPIRED UPRISINGS

Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller in a provincial town, set fire to himself in protest at poverty and government repression.

His suicide provoked a wave of protests which, weeks later, forced autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The revolution in Tunisia, a former French colony, in turn inspired uprisings which forced out entrenched leaders in Egypt and Libya, and convulsed Yemen and Syria — re-shaping the political landscape of the Middle East.

Ennahda is led by Rachid Ghannouchi, forced into exile in Britain for 22 years because of harassment by Ben Ali’s police.

A softly spoken scholar, he dresses in suits and open-necked shirts while his wife and daughter wear the hijab.

Ghannouchi is at pains to stress his party will not enforce any code of morality on Tunisian society, or the millions of Western tourists who holiday on its beaches.

He models his approach on the moderate Islamism of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

The party’s rise has been met with ambivalence by some people in Tunisia. The country’s strong secularist traditions go back to the first post-independence president, Habiba Bourguiba, who called the hijab an “odious rag.”

Outside the offices of the commission which organized the election, about 50 people staged a sit-in demanding an investigation into what they said were irregularities committed by Ennahda. Election officials said any problems were minor.

“I really feel a lot of fear and concern after this result,” said Meriam Othmani, a 28-year-old journalist. “Women’s rights will be eroded,” she said. “Also, you’ll see the return of dictatorship once Ennahda achieves a majority in the constituent assembly.”

Ennahda’s preferred coalition partners may reassure some opponents. Ali Larayd, a member of the party’s executive committee, said it was ready to form an alliance with the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol, both secularist groups respected by Tunisia’s intelligentsia.

 

The Congress is led by Moncef Marzouki, a doctor and human rights activist who spent years in exile in France. Ettakatol is a socialist party led by Mustafa Ben Jaafar, another doctor and veteran Ben Ali opponent.

The only official results released were from polling stations abroad, because they voted early.

The election commission said that out of 18 seats in the 217-seat assembly allocated to the Tunisian diaspora, 9 went to Ennahda. Its closest rivals were Marzouki’s Congress on four seats and Ettakatol, which won three.

The highest-profile secularist challenger to Ennahda, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) conceded defeat. It had warned voters that modern, liberal values would be threatened if the Islamists won.

“The PDP respects the democratic game. The people gave their trust to those it considers worthy of that trust. We congratulate the winner and we will be in the ranks of the opposition,” a party statement sent to Reuters said.

Ennahda’s win was a remarkable turnaround for a party which just 10 months ago had to operate underground because of a government ban and which had hundreds of followers in prison.

In a slick and well-funded campaign, the party tapped into a desire among ordinary Tunisians to be able to express their faith freely after years of aggressively enforced secularism.

It also sought to show it could represent all Tunisians, including the large number who take a laissez-faire view of Islam’s strictures, drink alcohol, wear revealing clothes and rarely visit the mosque.

Secularist opponents say they believe this is just a cleverly constructed front that conceals more radical views, especially among Ennahda’s rank and file in the provinces.

The party’s final election rally last week was addressed by one of Ennahda’s candidates, a glamorous woman who does not wear a hijab.

On the fringes of the same rally, stalls sold books by Salafist authors, followers of a strict interpretation of Islam who believe women should be covered up and that the sexes should be segregated in public.

(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by  Tim Pearce)

Michaele Salahi, Twitterhttp://www.eonline.com/news/michaele_salahi_neal_schon_our_affair/264868

Michaele Salahi is esctatic about her Housewife turned  groupie status and claims her love affair with Journey guitarist  Neal Schon is true love.

The scandalous twosome are speaking out about their relationship and how they  came to be a couple 10 days after the rocker invited the Real Housewives of  D.C. star and her husband, Tareq Salahi, to his concert in  Virginia. After his wife disappeared with Neal, Tareq feared she was kidnapped and begged the public to be on the lookout for  his missus.

But kidnapped she was not—instead she had run off with Neal in what he’s  calling a “fairy tale”…

“It’s like a fairy tale. It is, it really is,” Neal told the Daily Beast about finally being out in the open  with Michaele. “I’m very happy, very happy after waiting for her for 15 years.  Now I want to get beyond all this media hype thatt Tareq has put out there. It’s  really quite embarrassing.”

The Bravo reality star revealed that back in the late ’90s, she had been  dating both Tareq and Neal but chose Tareq because she’d been diagnosed with  multiple sclerosis and believed she would receive better care from him.

“I chose Tareq over Neal because I thought life would be less stressful  living on a vineyard in Virginia,” she said. “Life on the road with a rock  band…well, I thought I might not have been able to keep up.”

The new pair admit that before that night at the concert, they had been texting each other on a secret  phone a friend had provided Michaele with so she could communicate with the  outside world without Tareq knowing.

Michaele knew she was going to leave her husband after Neal asked her if they  were going to keep up the back and forth forever.

“I began to see he really loved me. I had to begin to feel it completely in  my soul, ” she said.

The night of the concert, Neal says Michaele told him she loved  him.

MORE: Why did Michaele need rehab?

“What happened was…she takes off her wedding ring…right in front of  Tareq. Takes it off,” Neal explains. “And then she proceeds to come into my  dressing room where I’m sitting down. I have tennis shoes on and she’s like,  nine feet tall over me. And she looks down at me like she’s standing on stilts  and says ‘I love you, and that’s never gonna change.’ And when that  happened I said, ‘Get over here! This has taken 15 years!”

That very night, Neal tried to get her on his tour bus with him, but she went  home with Tareq instead in order to avoid humiliating him.

But just over a week later, she was ready to bail.

“I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I realized I was hurting myself,” she said  of her decision to finally leave her husband, whom she called “controlling.”

Neal added that Tareq had ordered Michaele around, telling her when she could  and couldn’t leave the house and taking away her money, phone and car so she  couldn’t do much on her own.

And when she finally did leave, she left all her possessions behind.

“I was going crazy,” she said. “Because when you want to be with someone that  bad, you start to go crazy. He [Neal] sent someone to come get me. I got on a  plane by myself and I just went. I just walked away from everything.”

It remains to be seen whether the new couple will last—Neal also left his  partner, former Playboy Playmate Ava Fabian, who he  reportedly married in Paris two months ago, although it’s unclear if the  ceremony was legally binding.

Tareq has already filed for divorce from Michaele. Part two of our exclusive  interview with the spurned husband airs on E! News tonight at 7:00.

 

 

Emma Watson Takes It Off, Then Covers Up – with a Puppy | Emma Watsonhttp://www.peoplepets.com/people/pets/article/0,,20518728,00.html

After shedding her long-running role as Hermione in the Harry Potter franchise, Emma Watson has chopped off her long locks, embraced her inner fashionista – and now, she’s even gone nude. Sort of.

For the August issue of i-D magazine, the actress bared almost all, posing in a sunny garden wearing nothing but a pearly collar and shimmering gold jacket. While the photo hints at what lies beneath, Watson coyly covered up with the help of a strategically placed Yorkshire terrier.

The dog, dangled over Watson’s lap, looks less than pleased with the job at hand, but appears to have acted professionally in spite of it all.

The “last” first weekend

Ok, I know I should have posted this sooner,  but the “last” first weekend  has come for the seniors of 2012. Yes, sadly it has. For me nothing much has happened this past weekend just went to church and that’s about it. I wish I had done more and made it memorablybut I didn’t. 😦 But the year isn’t over yet so maybe something will happen. I’m sorry for not having much to put in this post, but the year is still early so I’ll try to make my post more interseting for ya’ll. If ya’ll have any ideas for blog posts please comment below and I’ll see what I can do. I want my senior year series to be interseting for you guys. I’m hoping to post some poems on year as the year goes by so be looking for those, and I’ll proably do some posts on more youth teips I go on so be looking for that as well. I’m sorry  if it seems that I’m going on and on. Really I am. So be looking for more posts, and I’ll see ya’ll later bye

 

 

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harry Potter has conjured up a tidy sum from the first overseas debuts of his final film.

 

Distributor Warner Bros. says “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” took in $43.6 million in 26 countries outside the United States on its first day Wednesday.

 

Studio executives said Thursday the franchise finale had the biggest opening day ever in several countries, including Australia with $7.5 million, Italy with $4.6 million and Sweden with $2.1 million. In France, the studio said “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” had the biggest Wednesday opening ever at $7.1 million.

 

In the countries where it opened Wednesday, total revenues were 82 percent higher than they were on the first day for “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” last November, according to Warner Bros.

 

The finale got a boost from the franchise’s first 3-D installment. Admissions for 3-D screenings, which cost a few dollars more than 2-D showings, accounted for 65 percent of revenues, the studio said.

 

“Deathly Hallows” continues opening worldwide Thursday and Friday.

 

In the United States, the film is expected to put up franchise-record numbers as it debuts just after midnight Friday.

 

If fan frenzy is strong enough, “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” could become the first of the eight “Harry Potter” films to top $1 billion at the box office worldwide.

 

The record-holder remains the franchise’s first film, 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” with $974.8 million globally.

 

http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/the-projector/backstory-trying-harry-potter-finale-153017152.html

“It all ends” is the tagline for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” an ominous, exciting way to signal that this 10-year film franchise, which has grossed more than $6 billion worldwide, will finally be drawing to a close. So you can imagine there was a certain amount of pressure to make sure that the final installment, which opens Friday, ends in just the right way. No wonder, then, that “Part 2’s” final moments have been the source of a lot of anxiety — both for filmmakers and for fans. That it’s all been ridiculously overblown is, in a weird way, a testament to how much this series has meant to people.

 

(We should probably say right here that this post is going to be heavy with Spoilers. So if you don’t want to know what happens at the end of “Part 2,” avert your eyes now. OK, we warned you: Spoiler Alert.)

“Part 2” ends the same way as J.K. Rowling’s book does, with an epilogue 19 years in the future where we see Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) as adults as they send their kids off to Hogwarts from King’s Cross Station. Simple, direct, poignant: Easy enough, right? Apparently not.

The trouble started when unauthorized photographers sneaked onto the set and took photos of the cast during shooting of the epilogue. When the photos hit the web in May 2010, online commenters were less than kind, mocking the actors’ old-age makeup and even snarkily comparing the 30-something Potter to a “middle-aged lesbian.” Then came news later in the year that the filmmakers were going to reshoot the epilogue over Christmas, with Radcliffe insisting it was because of the rushed circumstances of the original shoot:

“I think we made it very hard on ourselves because we shot it at King’s  Cross for real. And this time we’ll be shooting it at Leavesden on set.  To have to rush that sequence and it’s an important sequence, is not  something any of us want to do.”

Still, the impression remained that the reshoots were the result of the bad makeup — so much so that “Part 2” director David Yates (who helmed the final four installments) was forced to go into more detail with Entertainment Weekly three months ago to convince the Potter faithful that the ending of their beloved franchise wasn’t going to be a total disaster:

“I didn’t want older actors,” says Yates. “If you spent seven movies  with these guys, you know these kids, and you want to end with them. We  ended up with a scene that for all sorts of reasons, not just the  make-up, just didn’t work. I asked the studio to have a second pop at  it, with a very simple solution — simple make-up, which may be enhanced  slightly with special effects — that’s really charming.”

Of course, Yates can’t win: The more he tries to assure people that the reshot ending is no big deal, the more people will worry that it must really be a big deal. Otherwise, why would they be spending so much time talking about it? (Being the director of a major studio blockbuster must be akin to having the same painful headache for about nine months straight.)

Reshoots are nothing new, with movies like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy having to do them to fix sequences that don’t quite work. If you’ve got the time and resources, why wouldn’t you? But the moviegoing public tends to hear the word “reshoot” and substitutes it with “troubled production.” Well, everyone should probably calm down: The reviews for “The Deathly Hallows – Part 2” have been ecstatic, with many critics calling it a more than satisfying conclusion to the series. And while such things are subjective, we actually thought that the so-called “controversial” epilogue is perfectly fine. If anything, people will probably complain that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson almost look a little too young in it. There’s no pleasing some folks.

Harry Potter and the Twice Shot Ending: Behind the scenes of ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows — Part 2’ [Inside Movies/Entertainment Weekly]

 

 

Turnout key as Moroccans vote on king’s reforms

Thousands of people gather as they take part in a rally to support the government's project for constitutional reform during a peaceful protest in Casablancahttp://news.yahoo.com/turnout-key-moroccans-vote-kings-reforms-091824853.html

RABAT (Reuters) – Moroccans voted on Friday in a referendum on a revised constitution offered by King Mohammed to placate “Arab Spring” street protesters and the “yes” camp was tipped to win despite boycott calls by opponents.

The new charter explicitly grants the government executive powers, but retains the king at the helm of the army, religious authorities and the judiciary and still allows him to dissolve parliament, though not unilaterally as is the case now.

That falls far short of the demands of the “February 20” protest movement, which wants a parliamentary monarchy where the king’s powers would be kept in check by elected lawmakers.

However the movement so far has not attracted the mass support of popular uprisings that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. It urged Moroccans to boycott the vote and said a low turnout would back their calls for more radical reforms.

Turnout stood at 26 percent by midday local time (1100 GMT), according to the interior ministry. Preliminary results were due to be announced late on Friday, a ministry spokesman said.

“I voted ‘yes’ because we have to obey the Commander of the Faithful,” retired agriculture ministry engineer Samira Denguir said in the middle-class Hassan suburb of the capital Rabat, referring to the king’s religious role.

“A large ‘yes’ vote with a high abstention rate or spoiled ballots is not a great result, and the monarchy, Makhzen and (political) parties know it,” said Lise Storm, senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Exeter in England.

The Makhzen is the royal court seen by many Moroccans as a largely unaccountable and shadowy political and business elite.

The 47-year-old ruler has had some success in repairing the legacy of human right abuses, high illiteracy and poverty he inherited after his late father’s 38-year rule ended in 1999.

WESTERN ALLY

A staunch Western ally, Morocco under King Mohammed has stepped up cooperation against terrorism and illegal migration, notably with the European Union which is keen to avoid the spread of Islamic militancy along its southern shores.

But while his personal popularity is expected to swing many voters in favor of the reforms, the margin of victory could be eroded by resentment at wide disparities between rich and poor, and a sense of alienation from the political elite.

“I’m not voting because I couldn’t get my voter card and to be totally honest I couldn’t care less. If they really mean good they would have done it years ago,” said market trader Younes Driouki, 29, heading to the beach with his surfboard.

Results of an online poll conducted by independent portal Lakome.com showed 52 percent of 51,200 participants saying they would boycott the referendum. The vast bulk of the rest said they would vote in favor, but such a low turnout would raise questions about the credibility of the exercise.

Some 13 million people registered to vote — more than 6 million fewer than the 19.4 million Moroccans over 19 years old in a 2009 census. Moroccans above 18 are eligible to vote.

Hamid Benchrifa, an analyst from the Social Development Agency, said the disparity may be due either to voters not updating their identity cards after changing address, or a simple lack of interest in politics.

The February 20 movement has brought together Islamists bent on setting up an Islamic caliphate and secular left-wingers focusing on what they see as rising levels of corruption.

They say they will continue their common fight for a system of parliamentary monarchy and more curbs on the king’s powers.

(Editing by Mark John and Mark Heinrich)

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