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Showing posts from August, 2010

Orlando's Parliament House faces foreclosure

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A popular Orlando hotel and nightclub known to gay clientele throughout the world could soon be forced to close.

The Parliament House Resort is facing foreclosure. The owners of the landmark on Orange Blossom Trail are in court fighting papers filed by Compass Bank.

Right now, the business is in receivership which could become foreclosure if owners cannot continue paying on the loan.

The hotel has been open in Orlando since the 1960's. (Via WFTV)

Stellar Emmy Awards opening

Mexico City woos same-sex honeymooners

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CNN reports: As more governments approve same-sex marriage laws, officials in Mexico City are hoping to attract a growing part of the tourism market: gay honeymoons.

The first couple to wed under Argentina's recent law allowing same-sex marriages nationwide arrives in Mexico this week on an all-expenses-paid trip -- part of a new push by the government in Mexico City to woo gay travelers.

"We hope that many same-sex couples who get married around the world spend their honeymoons here," says Alejandro Rojas, the city's tourism secretary.

In July, the city opened an office aimed at catering to gay tourists that officials describe as the first of its kind in Latin America.

"We are a very tolerant, liberal, avant-garde city," Rojas says.

Officials inaugurated the new office by cutting a rainbow-colored ribbon. Rojas said the office's goal is to make Mexico City the No. 1 gay-friendly destination in Latin America.

"Mexico has a tradition of being a rather mac…

Pick Me Up of the Day

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Mark Monty as featured on Next Magazine.

Elton John
"Empty Garden"

Why do heavy drinkers outlive nondrinkers?

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Time reports:
One of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don't drink actually tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) …

Dancing With the Stars lineup announced

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The coming season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars will feature another eclectic mix of competitors representing an expansive definition of the word star, including vintage sitcom actors, familiar faces from MTV reality shows and the oldest daughter of the 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President, ABC said last night.

In live segments, hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke announced the competitors for new episodes of the series that will begin showing on Sept. 20.

The female contestants are Audrina Patridge of MTV’s The Hills; Brandy, the R&B singer and actress; Bristol Palin, daughter of the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; Florence Henderson of The Brady Bunch; Jennifer Grey of Dirty Dancing; and the comedian Margaret Cho.

The male challengers are the musical crooner Michael Bolton; Mike Sorrentino, better known as the Situation of MTV’s Jersey Shore; David Hasselhoff; Kurt Warner, the former N.F.L. quarterback and Super Bowl MVP; Kyle Massey of the Disney Channel comedy That’s …

Last Exorcism expelled from top box-office spot

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ArtsBeat reports: Lionsgatedidn’t have the No. 1 movie three weeks in a row after all. After the studio’s The Expendables topped the North American box office for two consecutive weeks, Lionsgate executives were thrilled on Sunday when their Last Exorcism appeared to take over the crown.

But final ticket grosses showed that The Last Exorcism ($20.5 million) lost out by a whisker to Sony’s Takers ($20.4 million), according to Hollywood.com, which compiles box office statistics.

The initial box-office figures that come out on Sunday are based on actual ticket sales for Friday and Saturday and the studios’ best guess of Sunday’s grosses. Sometimes, when actual Sunday ticket sales figures arrive on Monday, the end result can be different, which is what happened here.

Revised Weekend Top Five:

#1 Takers ($20.5M)
#2 The Last Exorcism ($20.4M)
#3 The Expendables ($9.53M)
#4 Eat Pray Love ($6.82M)
#5 The Other Guys ($6.29M)

J.K. Rowling gives $15.5 million to MS research

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Reuters reports: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has donated $15.5 million to set up a new clinic to carry out research into multiple sclerosis, the disease which killed her mother.

The clinic, based at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, will be named after Rowling's mother Anne and the author said she hoped it would become a world center for excellence into neurological conditions.

"I have just turned 45, the age at which my mother, Anne, died of complications related to her MS," Rowling said in a statement today.

"I know that she would rather have had her name on this clinic than on any statue, flower garden or commemorative plaque, so this donation is on her behalf, too; and in gratitude for everything she gave me in her far-too-short life."

The donation is the largest made by the author, whose wealth is estimated at more than 500 million pounds thanks to the global success of the seven boy wizard books, and the biggest single donation the university has …

U.S. formally ends combat operations in Iraq

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MSNBC reports: Iraq's prime minister said the country had won sovereignty and stood as an equal to the United States after the U.S. military formally ended combat operations otoday, despite political deadlock and violence.

U.S. troop numbers were cut to 50,000 in advance of the Aug. 31 milestone as President Barack Obama seeks to fulfil a promise to end the war launched by his predecessor George W. Bush.

The six remaining U.S. military brigades will turn their focus to training and advising Iraqi police and troops as Iraq takes responsibility for its own destiny ahead of a full withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of next year.

"Iraq today is sovereign and independent," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Iraqis in a televised address to mark the U.S. forces' shift to assisting rather than leading the fight against a Sunni Islamist insurgency and Shiite militia.

"With the execution of the troop pullout, our relations with the United States have entered a new stage b…

The Gays do Katy Perry's "Peacock"

The Funnies

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Porn star Mason Wyler is HIV+

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Queerty reports: Mason Wyler, the porn star and entrepreneur (real name: James Wallace), reveals he's HIV-positive in a blog post saying, "I have only myself to blame. I have HIV and it kind of sucks." It was followed up the next day with a demand to "STOP" criticizing him and his sex life.
He writes: "I am a sex fiend. I am NOT a monster. So to the people who are spreading rumors that I have done otherwise, STOP. You are not saving anyone's life by talking about me so STOP. You can not equate countless hours spent browsing hook-up sites and blogging about my sexual desires online to a wild and irresponsible sex life offline so STOP. You don't know what I do in my private life so STOP. What you are saying about me could be considered defamatory so STOP. You have already done enough damage so STOP. Seriously. Just STOP." The acknowledgment comes after a brewing porn "war" which included stories of Wyler being fired from his own website…

Former Power Ranger comes out

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File this under week-old news: Actor David Yost, a former star of hit kids' show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, has come out of the closet.

Now 41, Yost played Blue Ranger Billy Cranston on the show from 1993 to 1996 and in a 1995 feature film. In a new interview with fan site No Pink Spandex, Yost says he eventually quit the show because he was discriminated and harassed for being gay.

"I was called 'f*ggot' one too many times [by the show's] creators, producers, writers, directors," Yost explains.

He adds, "I know that my costars were called in a couple of times to different producers' offices and questioned about my sexuality, which is kind of a humiliating experience to find that out."

Following his departure from the show, Yost suffered a nervous breakdown and struggled to accept his sexuality. After several years out of Hollywood, he completed work on a new 2010 film, Degenerate.

(Via US Magazine)

Pick Me Up of the Day

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Stephen Bamber as featured on Major Models.

Hurts
"Confide in Me"

Jennifer Saunders writing Spice Girls musical

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Jennifer Saunders is working on her first project since beating cancer - the story for the Spice Girls musical. The comedian is writing the script based around the girl group's songs.

The show, provisionally titled Viva Forever, is the brainchild of Judy Craymer (producer of Mamma Mia!).

Judy has teamed up with the Spice Girls' original manager Simon Fuller to create a musical that will "harness the distinct personality of the Spice Girls".

Saunders, of Absolutely Fabulous and French And Saunders fame, was only recently given the all-clear from breast cancer. She quietly battled the disease out of public sight after an October diagnosis.

Saunders' connection to the band goes way back. She had a cameo role in their 1997 movie Spiceworld, which is now regarded as essential cult viewing. Then the girls returned the favour by appearing on French And Saunders.

(Via The Sun)

Construction begins at Miami Circle site

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The Miami Herald reports: At the mouth of the Miami River, an instant city of high-rise condos popped up around the 2,000-year-old Miami Circle in far less time than it took the state of Florida to devise a plan for public access to the ancient Native American site.

Now, 11 years after taxpayers ponied up $27 million to save the archaeological relic from getting buried under a condo slab, earthmovers are finally at work transforming the 2.2-acre parcel into the city's newest -- and perhaps most resonant -- waterfront park.

By late November or early December, planners say, residents and visitors should gain unfettered access to the site via a new, palm-shaded riverwalk that connects to a year-old public baywalk behind the Icon Brickell condo complex next door.

For an urban park, the roughly $1 million plan is simple and frugal: Aside from the riverwalk, it includes some landscaping, lighting and signage. A drop-off loop will provide auto access from Brickell Avenue.

The ancient circle …

U.S. wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq

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The AP reports:
A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children's hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets

As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted — more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.

There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after…

BP to remove Gulf oil well cap

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CNN reports: More than three weeks after plugging its ruptured oil well with cement and mud from above, BP plans to start a procedure today that will pave the way for a permanent fix for the well.

Crews will start work today on removing the capping stack that began trapping oil in the well last month, retired Adm. Thad Allen told reporters.

That will allow them to detach the blowout preventer and replace it with a new one -- key steps before engineers use a relief well to permanently kill the well 18,000 feet below the Gulf's surface.

"We will attempt to pull it free, and we are prepared to apply up to 80,000 [pounds] of force in addition to the weight of the blowout preventer to lift it," said Allen, the man charged with the government response to the oil disaster. "We call this the gentle tug."

After the relief well intercepts the well, it will take another few days to permanently seal the well with mud and cement from below in what's called a "bottom ki…

2010 Emmy Award winners list

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And the Emmy Award winners are...

Weekend box office

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Weekend Top Five:

#1 The Last Exorcism ($21.3M)
#2 Takers ($21M)
#3 The Expendables ($9.5M)
#4 Eat Pray Love ($7M)
#5 The Other Guys ($6.6M)

Jerry Curl staff out for jury duty

[Editor's note] We're downtown today doing our civic duty at the courthouse. Service will resume tomorrow three days from now.

Funny gay protest signs

Viva Las Vegas by Matthias Vriens-McGrath

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More via Homotography

Justin Guarini joins Women on the Verge musical

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ArtsBeat reports: Justin Guarini, the runner-up on the first-ever season of American Idol, has joined the cast of Women on Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Lincoln Center Theater said on yesterday.

He joins celebrated Broadway stars like Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott and Laura Benanti.

Mr. Guarini, who was edged out by Kelly Clarkson for the Idol crown in 2002, will play the role of Carlos, the son of Ivan (Mr. Mitchell) and Lucia (Ms. LuPone). It will be the Broadway debut of Mr. Guarini, who previously appeared in a workshop version of the Beach Boys musical Good Vibrations and with Ms. Clarkson in the film From Justin to Kelly.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is directed by Bartlett Sher with a book by Jeffrey Lane and music and lyrics by David Yazbek. It is to begin previews at the Belasco Theater on Oct. 2 and open on Nov. 4.

Adam Lambert goes tongue diving

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Towleroad reports: Adam Lambert is giving both female and male audience members an extra thrill these days.

Pick Me Up of the Day

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Lasse Larsen as featured on Look at Lasse.

Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark
"If You Want It"

Dozens of whales die after being stranded on New Zealand beach

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New Zealand conservation officials are planning another attempt to refloat at least 15 pilot whales that were part of a larger group that beached themselves earlier today.

The country's Department of Conservation said it got a distress call this morning from a person who spotted 58 beached whales stranded on Karikari Beach, a remote area in the far northern part of New Zealand.

When conservation officials arrived only 15 of the animals were still alive.

"The focus for everyone right now was to try to refloat the survivors," the conservation department said in a news release.

To do that, officials will position the whales to face out to sea and hope that they swim back out when high tide hits.

The whales "need to be held in the water for at least half an hour to allow them to re-orientate themselves, before being released to hopefully swim back out to sea," the conservation department said.

A first attempt to refloat the whales was not successful Friday night and cons…

Demi Lovato on her relationship with Joe Jonas

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People reports: Silence is golden: That's one lesson Demi Lovato has taken away from her brief high-profile romance with Joe Jonas.

After going through a very public breakup last spring, Lovato now says she wishes she'd kept her relationship with her Camp Rock 2 costar quiet.

"I learned my lesson," Lovato, 17, tells People. "It's not very much fun when you break up in a public relationship. So, maybe next time keep a secret."

Though the Jonas Brothers member has been portrayed as a heartbreaker, following his split from other young stars like Taylor Swift, Lovato defends him.

"I know that he has the best intentions," she says. "Definitely most guys don't have the same intentions that he does."

--> Joe has gay intentions. And that's not just wishful thinking on our part. The kid is as queer as a $3 bill. Every young star he's dated have been nothing but well-documented publicity stunts. We'll be proven right one day.

Aerosmith bassist confirms Tyler is doing Idol

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Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler has signed a deal to become a judge on American Idol, according to a news report Wednesday quoting one of his bandmates.

Tyler, 62, would fill one of three vacancies left on the four-person panel by the departures of Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres and the reported axing of songwriter Kara DioGuardi. Randy Jackson, the only remaining original judge, is expected to remain with the talent show.

For weeks speculation has centered around Tyler and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez joining Idol, which is undergoing a major restructuring to arrest its ratings decline. National auditions are already under way ahead of the show's season 10 premiere in January.

Fox and the show's producers have kept largely quiet on the speculation, but Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton told the Star-Ledger of New Jersey that Tyler's deal is done.

"Steven is doing American Idol. The ink is dry on that," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

"Steven is someone who abs…

New Facebook privacy concerns

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CNN reports on the new Facebook feature:
Based on comments on news sites and Facebook's official blog, many users appear apprehensive about Facebook Places, the social-networking site's new location feature.

It's not clear whether users' unfavorable reactions stem from privacy concerns or just confusion about the site's Places feature, which allows users to "check in" at restaurants, bars and other gathering spots. But it may be a good thing for Facebook that the site has no "dislike" button.

"People, use common sense. Foursquare and geolocation applications only increase the chance of violent crimes and theft," wrote a commenter on CNN.com. "If I announce online that I am on vacation, I'm pretty sure that leaves my house vulnerable."

A user on Facebook's blog wrote, "I'm upset that this was enabled by default -- especially for people who are victims of stalking and harassment, it could be potentially dangerous i…

$550k gold bar from Florida Keys shipwreck stolen

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The AP reports: Police say two thieves entered a museum after closing time and stole a gold bar worth about $550,000 that had been recovered from the shipwreck of a Spanish galleon off Florida.

Police and the FBI are working to identify the suspects and recover the gold bar taken Wednesday afternoon from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, where it had been displayed for more than 20 years.

Authorities say the bar was locked in a see-through case that let visitors touch it while keeping it secure. Security footage shows the suspects breaking into the case about 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The bar was recovered in 1980 from the Santa Margarita shipwreck off the Florida Keys. The ship — loaded with gold bars, jewelry and silver coins — was one of eight to sink in a 1622 hurricane.

Study: Oil plume is not breaking down fast

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The New York Times reports: New research confirms the existence of a huge plume of dispersed oil deep in the Gulf of Mexico and suggests that it has not broken down rapidly, raising the possibility that it might pose a threat to wildlife for months or even years.

The study, the most ambitious scientific paper to emerge so far from the Deepwater Horizon spill, casts some doubt on recent statements by the federal government that oil in the gulf appears to be dissipating at a brisk clip. However, the lead scientist in the research, Richard Camilli, cautioned that the samples were taken in June and circumstances could have changed in the last two months.

The paper, which is to appear in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, adds to a welter of recent, and to some extent conflicting, scientific claims about the status of the gulf. While scientists generally agree that the risk of additional harm at the surface and near the shore has diminished since the well was capped a month ago, a sharp …

BP fund-seekers might have to waive right to sue

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People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund.

The documents — which include e-mails, draft and final versions of the protocols, claims forms and legal notes about the administration of the fund — provide the first definitive picture of who will be paid by the $20 billion fund, and how and when.

They also shed new light on the components of the payment plan that are likely to stir controversy, including the fund’s emphasis on geographic proximity as a determining factor for eligibility.

The fund is being administered by a prominent Washington lawyer, Kenneth R. Feinberg, who declined to be interviewed about the documents but verified their authenticity.

The eligibility requirements for compensation from the fund are similar to those of the 9/…

Regarding the Donna Summer concert in Hollywood

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[Editor's note] You can add another name to the list of Divas I've experienced live. Last night, my gal pal Michelle and I had the gaygasmic pleasure of seeing the incomparable Donna Summer! Performing at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, the great disco diva showed no signs of slowing down as she took us back to the magic of the 70s. Donna and her supple voice were in top form and delivered a disco party like none other.

Admittedly, Donna ranks in the second tier of Divadom in my book-- joined by Liza Minnelli and Stevie Nicks. (The first tier is reserved for Tina Turner, Bette Midler, and Cher). But Donna was no second banana last night! Her mix of classic tunes and new songs left nothing to be desired.The concert itself was a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. It started off rather slow with a song from her last album aptly entitled "The Queen is Back" and followed up with "Dim All the Lights." Both of which she performed in an exquisite floor-leng…

Donna Summer
"Bad Girls"

The concert is tonight!!

Pick Me Up of the Day

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Eduardo Oliver as featured on Queerty.

Adam Levine launches clothing line

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The Marquee Blog reports: If you've been dying to get into Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine's pants, here's your chance: The singer is launching his own clothing collection next spring.

Named 222 after Levine's lucky number, the minimalistic line will include basics like jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets for men and women, reports Women's Wear Daily. Prices range from $30 for a T-shirt, $100 for dresses and wraps, between $150 to $280 for jeans and $1,250 for biker jackets.

"I'm passionate about fashion," Levine, 31, told WWD. "I think it says something about yourself and, whether you care about clothes or not, what you wear reflects some kind of attitude towards style."

While most celebrities with clothing labels have no background in the business, Levine actually grew up in the industry. His dad, Fred - a partner in the 222 venture - operated M. Frederic specialty boutiques in Los Angeles for 30 years.

"This is a family affair," said…

Golden Girls Nesting Dolls

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In appropriate sizes, by artist Ginger Williams.

(Via Towleroad and joe.my.god)

Gay men hold 1st foreign wedding ceremony in Nepal

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Edge reports: A Hindu priest performed the first wedding ceremony in Nepal for a foreign gay couple, a rights group said today, as activists and tourist agencies increasingly promote the Himalayan nation as a gay-friendly destination.

The ceremony was held yesterday night in Katmandu for Sanjay Shah, 42, a Briton from Leicester, and an Indian man who did not want to be identified, said Sunil Pant (pictured), a member of Nepal’s parliament and the nation’s most prominent gay activist.

Pant’s gay rights group, Blue Diamond Society, organized the ceremony and issued the pair a certificate for a $200 fee.

The two men were not legally married because Nepal has no laws legalizing same-sex marriage and does not marry foreigners. However, marriages performed by priests are generally accepted by society and most people who live in rural areas do not register their marriages with authorities.

Gay rights have improved dramatically in a country where just five years ago police were beating gays and t…

Kathy Griffin on Prop 8

Poll: Obama at new low for handling economy

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The AP reports: President Barack Obama earned his lowest marks ever on his handling of the economy in a new Associated Press-GfK poll, which also found that an overwhelming majority of Americans now describe the nation's financial outlook as poor.

A frustrated electorate could take it out on the party in power — Obama's Democrats — in the November elections.

Eleven weeks before the Nov. 2 balloting, just 41 percent of those surveyed approve of the president's performance on the economy, down from 44 percent in April, while 56 percent disapprove. And 61 percent say the economy has gotten worse or stayed the same on Obama's watch.

Still, three-quarters also say it's unrealistic to expect noticeable economic improvements in the first 18 months of the president's term. And Obama's overall approval rating was unaffected; it remained at 49 percent, in part because most Americans still like him personally.

Americans' dim view of the economy grew even more pessimis…

True Blood stars get bloody for Rolling Stone

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The Sept. 2 issue of Rolling Stone will be on newsstands today and online on Friday.

Erykah Badu pays fine for 'Window Seat' video

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MTV New reports: The global publicity bump Erykah Badu got for stripping down to her essentials and walking the streets of Dallas for her "Window Seat" video shoot was probably well worth the $500 fine she finally paid last week.

A Dallas city spokesperson said the singer paid the maximum fine and agreed to serve six months probation for the stunt, in which she was filmed slowly taking off her clothes as she walked through Dealey Plaza, the site of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The incident took place on March 13, and a defiant Badu entered a not guilty plea in April to a charge of disorderly conduct.

"I thought it was a move for women and men and children who feel they weren't good enough," Badu told MTV News on April 8 about the controversial clip, in which she is shot down at the end. " 'This is just me. I'm good enough.' I felt it was important enough to do. More pros than cons."

According to a statement from City…

Donna Summer
"I Love You"

Final DADT survey response rate under 30%

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Stripes reports: Last Sunday was the deadline for troops to complete the Defense Department's "don't ask, don't tell" attitudes survey, and officials at the Pentagon said the final tally on completed responses was 109,883 -- a response rate of only about 27.5 percent.

That's below the 30 to 40 percent response rate researchers from the University of Texas at Austin say an average email or online surveys should pull in, and well below the 52 percent participation rate officials at the Office of Personnel Management got in their similarly-structured 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

The Pentagon's survey was designed to help military leaders "assess the impacts, if any, repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell" might have on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention," according to Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

But from the start gay rights groups objected to the methodology and exec…

Pick Me Up of the Day

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Artem Nikitin as featured on Reds Models.

Michael Douglas has throat cancer

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The NY Post reports: Wall Street star Michael Douglas has been diagnosed with throat cancer and will undergo eight weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, his production company told The Post.

The 65-year-old Oscar winner, who kicked his half-pack-a-day habit in 2006, is expected to make a full recovery, and told People.com he's "very optimistic."

It was not clear yesterday how treatment for Douglas' tumor will effect the promotion of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the sequel to the 1987 blockbuster, which earned him an Oscar for Best actor.

In the new film, he reprises his role as greedy broker Gordon Gekko. It's set for release Sept. 24.
It's been a tough year for Douglas, whose troubled son, Cameron, was sentenced in April to five years in prison for dealing drugs.

Keith Olbermann on the 'Ground Zero Mosque'

Plumes of Gulf oil spreading east on sea floor

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CNN reports: A new report set to be released today renews concerns about the long-term environmental impact of the Gulf Coast oil disaster.

Researchers at the University of South Florida have concluded that oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill may have settled to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico further east than previously suspected -- and at levels toxic to marine life.

Initial findings from a new survey of the Gulf conclude that dispersants may have sent droplets of crude to the ocean floor, where it has turned up at the bottom of an undersea canyon within 40 miles of the Florida Panhandle.
Plankton and other organisms at the base of the food chain showed a "strong toxic response" to the crude, and the oil could well up onto the continental shelf and resurface later, according to researchers.
"The dispersant is moving the oil down out of the surface and into the deeper waters, where it can affect phytoplankton and other marine life," said John Paul, a marine microb…

U.S. said to plan easing rules for travel to Cuba

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The New York Times reports on something that is long overdue in a country that desperately needs attention: The Obama administration is planning to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, the latest step aimed at encouraging more contact between people
in both countries, while leaving intact the decades-old embargo against the island’s Communist government, according to Congressional and administration officials.

The officials, who asked not to be identified because they had not been authorized to discuss the policy before it was announced, said it was meant to loosen restrictions on academic, religious and cultural groups that were adopted under President George W. Bush, and return to the “people to people” policies followed under President Bill Clinton.

Those policies, officials said, fostered robust exchanges between the United States and Cuba, allowing groups — including universities, sports teams, museums and chambers of commerce — to share expertise as well as life e…

California gay marriages put on hold during appeal process

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The AP reports: A federal appeals court said yesterday that no California gay marriages would be performed until it first considered the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals imposed an emergency stay yesterday on a trial court judge's ruling overturning the ban, known as Proposition 8. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker had ordered state officials to stop enforcing the measure starting Wednesday, clearing the way for county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"It's saddening just to know that we still have to keep waiting for this basic human right," Marcia Davalos, of Los Angeles, a health care advocate who had planned to marry her partner, Laurette Healey, said when the stay was issued Monday. "We were getting excited and then all of a sudden it's like, 'Ugh.' It's a roller-coaster."

Lawyers for the two gay couples who challenged …

Donna Summer
"The Woman in Me"

We're seeing Donna Summer in concert on Wednesday! In commemoration, we will be bringing you some of Donna's finest moments the rest of the week.

Liza Minnelli Tweets new pictures

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