Thursday, April 18, 2013

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth Engagement: It's Off!

Stop us if you've heard this before: It's all over for Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth.

The couple has not been spotted together for weeks and The National Enquirer is now the latest publication to confirm why:

Due to Hemsworth's makeout session with January Jones in February, the singer has called off their engagement.

"Miley couldn’t believe" her fiancé would do such a thing, a source tells the tabloid, adding that Hemsworth fled to Australia for a few weeks afterward, hoping Cyrus would cool off.

The the Catching Fire star is reportedly still in contact with the Mad Men actress via text, leaving Miley aghast and outraged.

“As if the embarrassment over Liam’s fling with January wasn’t bad enough, to find out that he’s still in touch with her is pretty much the nail in the coffin as far as their rela­tionship is concerned." says this insider.

Earlier in the week, Billy Ray Cyrus did not confirm a split between his daughter and Hemsworth.

But he did tell Nightline he wasn't sure if Miley and Liam would get married.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombs: 'Possible Suspect'

BOSTON — Investigators were zeroing in Wednesday on video footage from a department store security camera, possibly showing a man wearing a large backpack and then dropping it, in the first sign of a possible breakthrough in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings.

A Boston city official told The Washington Post that the Lord & Taylor camera on Boylston Street, directly across from the site of the blasts, is of “special interest” to investigators. CNN reported that authorities have used the footage and other footage to identify a possible suspect

An FBI source leaked these photos of a black backpack that may have held the bomb used in the Boston Marathon attacks, left, and part of what appears to be a pressure cooker.

Second Bomb: Photos show a bag next to a mailbox along the marathon route and may have been the footage used by the FBI to positively ID a suspect

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon bombing kills 3, injures over 140

BOSTON (AP) — Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 140 in a bloody scene of shattered glass and severed limbs that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.
White House official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still unfolding said the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism.
President Barack Obama vowed that those responsible will "feel the full weight of justice."
As many as two unexploded bombs were also found near the end of the 26.2-mile course as part of what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack, but they were safely disarmed, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.
The fiery twin blasts took place about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending dense plumes of smoke rising over the street and through the fluttering national flags lining the route. Blood stained the pavement, and huge shards were missing from window panes as high as three stories.

"They just started bringing people in with no limbs," said runner Tim Davey of Richmond, Va. He said he and his wife, Lisa, tried to shield their children's eyes from the gruesome scene inside a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners, but "they saw a lot."

"They just kept filling up with more and more casualties," Lisa Davey said. "Most everybody was conscious. They were very dazed."
As the FBI took charge of the investigation, authorities shed no light on a motive or who may have carried out the bombings, and police said they had no suspects in custody. Officials in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
WBZ-TV reported late Monday that law enforcement officers were searching an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served Monday night in Revere but provided no further details.
Some investigators were seen leaving the Revere house early Tuesday carrying brown paper bags, plastic trash bags and a duffel bag.

Police said three people were killed. An 8-year-old boy was among the dead, according to a person who talked to a friend of the family and spoke on condition of anonymity. The person said the boy's mother and sister were also injured as they waited for his father to finish the race.
Hospitals reported at least 144 people injured, at least 17 of them critically. The victims' injuries included broken bones, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums.
At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alasdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: "This is something I've never seen in my 25 years here ... this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war."
Some 23,000 runners took part in the race, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious marathons.
One of Boston's biggest annual events, the race winds up near Copley Square, not far from the landmark Prudential Center and the Boston Public Library. It is held on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis asked people to stay indoors or go back to their hotel rooms and avoid crowds as bomb squads methodically checked parcels and bags left along the race route. He said investigators didn't know whether the bombs were hidden in mailboxes or trash cans.
He said authorities had received "no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen" at the race.
The Federal Aviation Administration barred low-flying aircraft within 3.5 miles of the site.
"We still don't know who did this or why," Obama said at the White House, adding, "Make no mistake: We will get to the bottom of this."

With scant official information to guide them, members of Congress said there was little or no doubt it was an act of terrorism.
"We just don't know whether it's foreign or domestic," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
A few miles away from the finish line and around the same time, a fire broke out at the John F. Kennedy Library. The police commissioner said that it may have been caused by an incendiary device but that it was not clear whether it was related to the bombings.
The first explosion occurred on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the finish line, and some people initially thought it was a celebratory cannon blast.
When the second bomb went off, spectators' cheers turned to screams. As sirens blared, emergency workers and National Guardsmen who had been assigned to the race for crowd control began climbing over and tearing down temporary fences to get to the blast site.
The bombings occurred about four hours into the race and two hours after the men's winner crossed the finish line. By that point, more than 17,000 of the athletes had finished the marathon, but thousands more were still running.

The attack may have been timed for maximum carnage: The four-hour mark is typically a crowded time near the finish line because of the slow-but-steady recreational runners completing the race and because of all the friends and relatives clustered around to cheer them on.
Runners in the medical tent for treatment of dehydration or other race-related ills were pushed out to make room for victims of the bombing.
A woman who was a few feet from the second bomb, Brighid Wall, 35, of Duxbury, said that when it exploded, runners and spectators froze, unsure of what to do. Her husband threw their children to the ground, lay on top of them and another man lay on top of them and said, "Don't get up, don't get up."
After a minute or so without another explosion, Wall said, she and her family headed to a Starbucks and out the back door through an alley. Around them, the windows of the bars and restaurants were blown out.
She said she saw six to eight people bleeding profusely, including one man who was kneeling, dazed, with blood trickling down his head. Another person was on the ground covered in blood and not moving.
"My ears are zinging. Their ears are zinging," Wall said. "It was so forceful. It knocked us to the ground."
Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured, while race stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site.
Roupen Bastajian, a state trooper from Smithfield, R.I., had just finished the race when he heard the blasts.
"I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor," he said. "We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."
The race honored the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting with a special mile marker in Monday's race.
Boston Athletic Association president Joanne Flaminio previously said there was "special significance" to the fact that the race is 26.2 miles long and 26 people died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Afghan Girl, 6, Rescued from Child Bride Fate; Countless Others not so Lucky

A 6-year-old Afghan girl sold by her father into an impending marriage to pay off a family medical debt got a reprieve Monday: She will now get to stay with her parents, thanks to an anonymous donor who is paying off the debt of $2,500 through an American lawyer, according to a still-developing New York Times report.

More on Shine: Child Bride Has Marriage Annulled. Laxmi Sargara is Our Hero of the Day.

The girl, Naghma, wound up being bartered by father Taj Mohammad after he borrowed the $2,500 from a fellow refugee-camp resident over the course of a year. The money was to pay for a hospital treatment for his wife and medical care for some of his nine children, including a three-year-old who later froze to death. If he couldn’t pay it off in another year, Naghma would be forced to wed the lender’s 17-year-old son.

“They said, ‘Pay back our money,’ and I didn’t have any money, so I had to give my girl,” Mohammad told the New York Times. “I was thankful to them at the time, so it was my decision, but the elders also demanded that I do this.” Soon after the deal was struck, the boy to whom Naghma was engaged insisted that she stop attending school, which she loves, her father said.

On Monday afternoon, there was no word on who paid off the debt or how. But now that it has been paid, said a New York Times follow-up story, the girl, Naghma, will remain with her family. She will no doubt continue to live in extreme poverty in the Kabul refugee camp, and will perhaps even forced into marriage when she’s older. Still, she is one of the luckier girls of Afghanistan, where half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15, according to estimates by the United Nations agency UN Women. That’s despite the legal age for marriage in the country being 16 for girls.  

Ending the practice remains a huge challenge in Afghanistan's patriarchal society, where it’s somewhat traditional to give girls away to settle debts or pay for their relatives’ crimes. Tribal customs often condone marriage once puberty is reached, or even earlier, and the government has been unable or unwilling to challenge the law effectively.

Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs various shelters in the country, told the New York Times in a previous article that poverty is the motivation for many child marriages. That’s either because a wealthy husband pays a family well for his bride, or because the father of the bride will then have one less child to support. “Most of the time they are sold,” Ms. Naderi said. “And most of the time it’s a case where the husband is much, much older.”

Stories like Naghma’s come at a slow but steady clip out of Afghanistan and many other countries, including India. In 2010, two girls, ages 13 and 14, dressed as boys and fled their elderly husbands after refusing to consummate the marriages. They made it far from their remote village, but were eventually caught by police and returned home, where they were publicly, viciously flogged. Authorities did nothing, despite the flogging being caught on tape and human-rights groups’ efforts to intervene.

While the case may have been shocking, Fawzia Kofi, a prominent female member of Parliament, told the New York Times that, it was far from the only one. “I’m sure there are worse cases we don’t even know about,” she said. “Early marriage and forced marriage are the two most common forms of violent behavior against women and girls.”

In a more recent and widely reported case, a 15-year-old Afghanistan girl forced into marriage, Sahar Gul, was rescued from six months of torture at the hands of her in-laws. They kept her locked in a basement, ripped out her fingernails and burned her with hot irons—and, a rare instance of justice, were eventually brought to justice and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

According to a short Pulitzer Center film, “Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides,” by National Geographic photographer Stephanie Sinclair, “Child marriage occurs in more than 50 developing countries around the world, and almost always results in the girl’s removal from school. What families don’t realize,” Sinclair explains through her narration, “is by curtailing a girl’s education, they’re only perpetuating the cycle of poverty. 

She added, “As one Afghan police officer told me, girls are routinely seen as family burdens, while their male counterparts are seen as kings.”

Monday, April 1, 2013

Best treetop hotels

Friendly customer service and a comfortable bed are must-haves, but nowadays, adventurous travelers are looking for hotels that also provide one-of-a-kind experiences. Among them: treetop hotels.

Instead of resting on solid ground, these hideaways take to the skies, perched in the forest canopies in some of the world's most exotic locales.

Crowning branches from China to Brazil, the nine unique hotels featured on this list range from rustic to luxurious. These unique lodgings offer you the chance to reconnect with nature, not to mention your old childhood fantasies.

Tree House Lodge
Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica

A trip to the Tree House Lodge in Costa Rica's Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge offers a balance of sunlight and shade. A canopy of tree branches blankets the split-level treehouse, which is close to the popular Punta Uva beach. Inside the stilt-supported accommodations (accessible via suspension bridge), you're greeted with ample space (enough room for six people), as well as a full kitchen and a Jacuzzi. 

Peering out from under the thatched roof, you will feel completely isolated, but in reality you're just a five-minute jaunt from grocery stores and restaurants. And to enhance your escape, the Tree House Lodge can organize everything from a zip-line canopy tour to a white-water rafting adventure to hiking excursions through the surrounding jungle. 

Inkaterra Canopy Treehouse(Photo: Courtesy of Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica)
Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

Multiply the excitement you once felt when you first stepped inside a treehouse, and you'll start to ascertain what it might be like to spend the night 90 feet above the Peruvian Amazon. Sidling up to the Tambopata National Reserve, the Inkaterra Canopy Treehouse mixes luxury with adventure. For instance, you can enjoy the services of a canopy butler, who serves chilled sparkling wine as visitors watch dusk fall over the rainforest. 

A stay here is quite exhilarating too, as mesh screens are all that's separating you from outdoor critters like hummingbirds and monkeys. And for those who find the treetop stay to be too much of an adrenaline rush, Inkaterra's 35 ground-level cabanas — which are fitted with amenities like hammocks and plush robes and slippers — await. 

Harads, Sweden

One of the most innovative hotels on our list, Treehotel includes five — soon to be six — quirky treehouses in the small northern Swedish village of Harads. Each of the rooms features a different design, thus offering every guest an individual experience. One room resembles an enormous bird's nest with twigs sticking every which way; another looks like a silver UFO hovering above the ground; yet another is fashioned with large mirrors so all you see from the outside is the reflection of the forest. No matter which accommodation you choose, you'll find a panorama of the picturesque Lule River Valley providing a scenic backdrop to your atypical escape. 

Sanya Nanshan Treehouse(Photo: Courtesy of Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort and Beach Club)
Jiangsu, China

Straddling the tamarind trees of Jiangsu, China, the Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort and Beach Club offers a rustic treehouse experience. This is not a luxurious treehouse, but the surrounding environment is pretty awe-inspiring. Accessible via a rope-and-suspension bridge, this resort gets guests' adrenaline pumping as soon as they ascend the "Big Beach in the Sky" treehouse. But once inside, a view of the South China Sea's rolling waves will await you. When it comes to activities, you can enjoy a handful of tasty vegetarian restaurants as well as the Buddhist Theme Park, both within a close walking distance.

Cedar Creek Treehouse
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State

Nestled between the great evergreens of Mount Rainier National Park and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Cedar Creek Treehouse affords a bird's-eye view from its 50-foot-high perch in a 200-year-old cedar. You'll climb five flights of stairs to reach the accommodations, which include a sunroom and a sleeping loft complete with a skylight. For more vistas, you can take a walk on the rainbow bridge to the 100-foot-high observatory. 

But you should leave your electronics at home: These adults-only, solar-powered accommodations aren't acclimatized to modern technology, so you'll be off the grid in every sense of the phrase. And you should note that there's no shower. 

Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma
Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia

A panoramic view is always coveted, and Sanctuary Retreats offers just that in the ebony trees of Zambia. You can stay in one of 12 air-conditioned treehouses, which each have a balcony that overlooks the flowing Zambezi River in the exotic Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. After unwinding in your plush treehouse, you can head out on a guided walking safari, where hippos, monkeys, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras and more are on display. 

Alternatively, you can enjoy the lavish treatments at the spa, such as an Africology facial or a hot stone massage. In the evenings, you can arrange for a chef to prepare a gourmet meal served on your spacious deck before you fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the African bush.

Tsala Treetop Lodge
Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Tucked off the Western Cape in South Africa sits the Tsala Treetop Lodge, a network of 16 suites and villas nestled into the trees of an indigenous forest. Constructed with a compilation of wood, stone and glass, each of these luxurious accommodations has its own private deck and infinity pool designed for sunbathing in the seclusion of the forest. Should you start to feel overwhelmed by the dense forest, you'll be happy to note that you're just a stone's throw from the swimming beaches of Plettenburg Bay. 

Alternatively, you can explore the wonders of the beloved Garden Route, which features roaring waterfalls, a lovely lakes district and a pristine coastline. Meanwhile, if you're looking to delight in a meal on terra firma, head down to the lodge's ZINZI Restaurant, which serves up a delicious, internationally inspired menu.

Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel(Photo: Courtesy of Leonide Principe)
Manaus, Brazil

You can explore northern Brazil's Amazon Rainforest from canopy level at the Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel's treehouses or aptly named Tarzan Suites. Located up to 110 feet above the jungle floor, the accommodations are accessible via an inclined catwalk. Each suite is also equipped with plush queen beds, spacious bathrooms and private balconies. You will also have access to a complimentary breakfast buffet, along with four treetop bars and two canopy-level pools. 

And for those looking to step down on solid ground, a number of adventures await. You can visit the nearby Tarino Indian village, which is just 20 minutes from the hotel by motorized boat. You can also stroll along the walkways of the rainforest, greeting chattering parrots, macaws, sloths and monkeys along the way.

Green Magic Resort
Kerala, India

Communing with nature is one of the allures of staying in a treehouse. Birds and butterflies are constant companions at the Green Magic Resort in Kerala, India, as is the orchestra of gurgling spring water and rustling leaves. You get to cozy up in your choice of three bamboo treehouses suspended high up in a ficus tree forest. Rising anywhere from 60 feet to 115 feet off the ground, the treehouses are accessible by a water lift, a hanging bridge or a rope walkway. When it comes to mealtime, you'll enjoy food prepared at the on-site restaurant with locally harvested, organic ingredients.

Jennifer Lopez miffed over leaked story

A war of words has erupted between Jennifer Lopez's team and camp Shah Rukh Khan, after articles appeared in the US and UK slamming the pop queen for turning down SRK's offer to perform at the IPL opening ceremony on April 2 . JLo's team has reportedly accused Red Chillies of 'planting' stories in the media, to tarnish her image. 

An official from Red Chillies on condition of anonymity said that it is the star's IPL team that is to be blamed. "They were handling the quotes (money and budgets) so the leak had come from them. You will see some of the foreign tabloids point to an IPL officialfor the leak. The event management team at Red Chillies wouldn't dare do that," said the official.

But aren't the IPL and the event management teams closely integrated to that of KKR? "I can assure you that the leak hasn't come from us. The only other people who knew about the deal were the IPL guys. You should ask them," the official added.

The damning articles, the first of which appeared on March 28, in theNew York Post, criticised JLo for her 'diva demands', and quoted an official saying that her manager Benny Medina had demanded a private jet and a personal chef as part of her hospitality in Kolkata, among other things. While the demands would not seem extraordinary for an artiste of her stature, Team JLo had the article removed from the website. But by then the 'news' had gone viral. According to sources, Medina has shot off an angry mail to a member of Red Chillies Entertainment, alleging that vital and confidential information about the deal was selectively leaked out to the US media. Some of JLo's fans have also insinuated that the bad press may be a fall-out of the singer rejecting Shah Rukh's offer at the last moment, sending him scurrying for a replacement.

On his part, Medina has denied that JLo 'out priced' herself from the event, courtesy her demands. Instead, he claims she was busy recording an album, which is why she decided to turn down the offer to perform before billions of viewers.

A source told TOI, "JLo is breathing fire. Her team has shot off a mail saying the details of the deal were known only to a select few officials in both teams. As it is unlikely that JLo's teamwould plant a story against her, the needle of suspicion is pointing towards camp Shah Rukh. JLo's team is very upset that her image has been tarnished." Medina hasn't threatened Red Chillies with a lawsuit but this could have far reaching effects for any other international star performing for SRK, according to the source.

When contacted, a source from Red Chillies admitted JLo and her team are upset with what has happened. "It is true Jennifer cancelled the gig at the last moment because she didn't like the deal. That she asked for a private chartered plane is however not true. Yes, she had asked for exclusive arrangements to be made for her nearly 44 dancers and accompanying staff, which included herentourage of around 20 people. She had asked for a personal chef, stylist, butler, security etc but these are demands that even Bollywood stars make when they perform abroad. Jennifer is extremely upset with the way things have panned out. There is an exchange of mails going on as we speak," the source said.

In reply to a query from TOI, a Red Chillies spokesperson said, "We are very excited about the opening ceremony of IPL Season 6. In the process of collaborating with different artistes to perform, from national and international platforms, we did consider Jennifer Lopez. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts, it didn't work out. We hope to work with her in future. We are excited about working with Pitbull.

Rapper Pitbull has been roped in to replace Jennifer Lopez for the ceremony.