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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NEWS & POP CULTURE

Conviction in the homophobic murder of UK gay man:
A 30-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of a retired accountant in a public toilet in Surrey, England. On February 19th, Mark Malone (pictured) stole an eight inch knife from a burger van and attacked Jeff Akers, in the public toilet known as a meeting place for sex. Malone told the court that Jeff Akers, who was gay, propositioned him for sex and he lashed out, but could not remember the attack. Mr Akers, 50, staggered out of the toilet in Walton, Surrey, in his underpants and fell to the ground with the kitchen knife in his back. He was taken by air ambulance to St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey where he died. A post-mortem revealed that the cause of death was a single stab wound to the back. A retired accountant, he lived with his partner of 22 years. Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston-Heard, said after the verdict: “This was a vicious, unprovoked homophobic attack by Mark Malone on a harmless, innocent man. Our thoughts are with the family who have been forced to endure a trial." NOTE: It has emerged that Mark Malone also committed a hate crime in 2003 against an autistic man he thought was gay. READ MORE

Actor Tim Robbins runs into voting trouble on election day:
The 50-year-old actor's voting woes began Tuesday morning when he ran into trouble at his polling station: His name was missing from the registration rolls. He said his name was nowhere to be found on the books at a YMCA in downtown Manhattan, where he'd previously voted in presidential elections. "I had been voting there for years," he said in a telephone interview. "I have not moved, I have not changed party affiliations. There's no reason why it shouldn't be in the rolls. So I was given a paper ballot and filled it out, but I wanted my vote to be registered there — and I don't trust paper ballots." Robbins, who lives with partner Susan Sarandon and has been registered to vote in New York since 1988, said he doesn't trust paper or affidavit ballots because "oftentimes those things get lost or thrown away." So he did not submit his and asked to speak to a supervisor. "I stayed in the voting place and asked to see someone from the Board of Elections and told them I wasn't going to leave until someone from the Board of Elections came and explained to me why I wasn't being allowed to vote — why my name had been taken off the voter rolls." The supervisor said a police officer had been called over, Robbins said, "at which point, I said to him, 'Are you trying to intimidate me?' " The police at the location said he had "every right to be there," Robbins said. Police said there was no police involvement. After hours of waiting, Robbins said he was told to visit the board's downtown office, which confirmed what he knew to be true: he's a registered voter. A judge then issued a court order allowing him to vote — and that he did, at the same location where his trouble began. "If anything, it seems like a random thing, but in randomness there are numbers, and there have been in the past," said Robbins, who said that other voters also were not listed. "This is just one example of how difficult it is to vote in the United States," he said.

George W. Bush stays out of sight on Election Day:
(Washington) Even before one vote was counted, this result was clear: The presidential race was a verdict on George W. Bush. Both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain positioned themselves as agents of change — that is, change from Bush. The president's approval ratings have hovered near historically low levels — it was just 26 percent in an AP-GfK poll conducted a couple of weeks before Election Day — and he was a factor in voters' decision-making no matter how much he tried to keep out of the race. "He realizes this election is not about him," White House press secretary Dana Perino said heading into voting day. Tuesday marked the first time in 14 years — a period when Bush twice won the Texas governorship and the presidency — that he was not on the ballot. Many pundits had no doubt about Tuesday's outcome. Among them: Karl Rove, once of Bush's closest aides and the architect of his two successful presidential runs. On election eve, Rove distributed his last analysis of the electoral map. It predicted Obama winning easily, with 338 electoral votes. It takes 270 to win. The title of Rove's e-mail: "The End." He was referring to the election, but there was also a feeling of finality at the White House. The president voted absentee several days ago, so there was no video of him at his precinct, no statements to reporters, no public appearance whatsoever.

No on Prop 8 volunteers harassed, thrown off church grounds:
All around Los Angeles, teams of volunteers dispatched by the Gay and Lesbian Center are responding to claims of friction at the polls. One particular response team was dispatched to Pasadena. Mark Hefflinger, an operative for the No on 8 campaign, was part of a group sent to a polling place in Altadena due to reports that a disgruntled Yes on 8 voter had upset one of the No on 8 volunteers. According to Hefflinger, the Yes on 8 voter went into the polling place and complained to an unnamed female worker. One of the two called the police. Police arrived, but found only a husband-and-wife volunteer team against Proposition 8. Whoever placed the call was no longer at the polling place. In a second incident there, according to Hefflinger, before police arrived at the scene, a polling station worker decided unilaterally where the campaign boundaries should be, telling No on 8 volunteers they had to move farther away from their position and that they could not distribute any materials. By law, no one can campaign within 100 feet of a polling place. READ MORE

Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda returns to Broadway stage after 45-year absence:
Jane Fonda is to return to the Broadway stage after a break of nearly half a century. The Barbarella star will appear in 33 Variations by Mois├ęs Kaufman, according to The New York Times. Fonda, who recently celebrated her 70th birthday by deep sea diving, will play a musicologist studying the work of Beethoven. The actress last trod the Broadway boards in a 1963 production of Strange Interlude.

Extinct mammoths could be cloned:
Japanese scientists cloned mice that had been frozen 16 years and whose cells had burst. Since the mice were not particularly well preserved, the researchers say their nuclear transfer techniques "could be used to 'resurrect' animals" such as mammoths. In northern Siberia, researchers are attempting to create Pleistocene Park by restoring a large area of wetlands and forest to the dry landscape that existed more than 10,000 years ago. They are re-introducing herbivores and predators they think will alter the biology and ecology of the region to its previous state. How far back might resurrection go? Nobody is expecting T. rex to roam the planet again, but tissue from the beast has been recovered.

Actress Kate Winslet 'furious' over body airbrush claims:
Just a day after Kate Winslet revealed in a Vanity Fair interview that she still feels like the "fat kid," critics in her home country are lining up to claim she still is. But the svelte five-time-Oscar-nominee isn't having it: "Kate is furious at suggestions that her body has been airbrushed," her rep tells PEOPLE exclusively. The Sun ponders on its front page whether "that magic airbrush has been at work again" and the Daily Telegraph got a digital retouching expert to analyze the photos. But the closest scrutiny comes from the Daily Mail, which engaged a professional airbrush artist to perform an autopsy on Winslet, who was shot wearing heels, black stockings and nothing else. "She is in terrific shape and what you see is how she looks or she would never have agreed to pose for those shots," adds her rep.

Lewis Hamilton becomes first black man to win Formula 1 racing championship:
Lewis Hamilton wins the Formula One, becoming the youngest race car driver and the first black to ever have win the exclusive championship. The 23-year-old won the Brazilian Grand Prix with his McLaren Mercees by "only by the skin of his teeth," narrowly squeezing past Germany's Timo Glock at the finish line. Experts predict he will see a "hike in his salary of up to 30 million pounds" or $47.5 million a year. But while the international media hype grows larger, many in the British public do not like the flashy young driver. The Times describes Hamilton as "one of the most divisive British sporting figures for a generation." READ MORE

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