Archive for April, 2008

Teen Sex, Exploitation, Drugs and Alcohol (Again) – Who is Using Who (Or What)?

April 29, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Again we find ourselve discussing American culture and its rancid down side.

Fifteen year old pop star Miley Cyrus posed for celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The photographs, which some have called erotic child porn or nearly so, are to appear in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.  If they are not child porn they are at least “partially clothed.”
 
Vanity Fair.  The cover of the June issue of Vanity Fair and the photograph of Miley Cyrus, inset.

Ms. Cyrus, alread the teen star of the Walt Disney Company’s billion-dollar “Hannah Montana” franchise, financial analysts say, will be worth $20 million by the time she is 18 years old.

Now Ms. Cyrus, daughter of singer Billy Ray Cyrus, claims she was used by Ms. Leibovitz and Vanity Fair.
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She says she’s been wronged.

“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,” Cyrus said Sunday in a statement through her publicist. “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

Well, gosh, even a 15 year old daughter of an American pop star knows how to get publicity, sell records and make more money. Sex in America sells and she knows it and so does her dad, the photographer and Vanity Fair.

Ms. Leibovitz is a renowned celebrity photographer whose edgy, sexy portraits have included subjects such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore.

She’s pretty well known. Sitting for her isn’t an accident waiting to happen. It is an entertainer hoping to become mega-rich.
In this April 14, 2008 file photo singer and actress Miley Cyrus ...
In this April 14, 2008 file photo singer and actress Miley Cyrus arrives at the 2008 CMT Awards in Nashville, Tenn.(AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

Ms. Cyrus told PEOPLE Magazine, “My goal in my music and my acting is always to make people happy. For Vanity Fair, I was so honored and thrilled to work with Annie [Leibovitz].”
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PEOPLE also reported that Ms. Cyrus appears to be topless, but was actually clothed during the shoot.

Keep your 15 year old daughter in view in your teaching and in your prayers. If she reports she is sitting for Vanity Fair photographers, she probably knows what she’s doing. Get her an IRA. And make sure she knows how to use a condom, unlike one other pop star: Jamie Lynn Spears.


Jamie Lynn Spears
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Because we have seen so many people ruin their lives due to the agony of addiction, we sometimes shed light upon the “rich and famous.”  They are not immune from the ravages of drugs and alcohol.  Far from it.  In fact, because many entertainers and celebrities have a lot of “disposible” money (Amy Winehouse, who was arrested for cocaine possession and use, is reportedly worth $20 million) they can even mnore easily slip into addiction than some others.
Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse, pictured on January 18, ... 
Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse, pictured on January 18, 2007 after some serious drug use, was admitted that week to a rehabilitation clinic to help her battle against drug addiction, her record company said.

Last week sexy model and movie actress Angie Everhart was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

Wikipedia speaks about her career this way:

Following a playful photo session with her mother and the submission of the results to a local modeling agency, Everhart was on a plane to Paris later that year. By the end of the following year, she had graced the covers of such fashion mainstays as ELLE and Glamour magazine (for which she was the first-ever red-haired cover girl). Though a riding accident in which she broke her back at the age of 19 nearly put an end to her aspirations, Everhart eventually recovered through physical therapy. Early in her career, Everhart was advised she would never be a top model because she was a redhead. However, she succeeded in her chosen career and posed for numerous publications. She appeared in several issues of the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, starting in 1995. After years of publicly insisting she would never pose nude, Everhart did just that for the February 2000 issue of Playboy. She was ranked #98 on the FHM 100 Sexiest Women of 2003.

Everhart made her film debut in 1993 with the Arnold Schwarzenegger action-comedy Last Action Hero. She has since appeared in such features as Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood (1996), Denial (1998), Trigger Happy (1996) and Gunblast Vodka (2000).

Angie Everhart, 2003

Other movies she has appeared in include Jade (1995), and Executive Target (1997), Since then, her feature film roles have been restricted to low budget erotic thrillers and softcore porn, such as Another 9 1/2 Weeks (1997) and Bare Witness (2001). She also appeared in the 2004 television series Celebrity Mole: Yucatan, in which she was the rogue agent sabotaging the group. She was one of the “Gingers” on the second season of The Real Gilligan’s Island  (the other was Erika Eleniak), but left the show when she accidentally cut her finger severely enough to sever tendons and require surgery. Angie was also a panelist on “To Tell The Truth” from 2000 to 2001.

Here is a woman that recovered from a broken back.  She has a lot to live for.  We pray that she gets her life straightened out — and fast.


 

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U.N. agencies weigh response to food crisis

April 28, 2008

GENEVA (Reuters) – Leading figures from the United Nations met in Switzerland on Monday to chart a solution to dramatic food price increases that have caused hunger, riots and hoarding in poor countries around the world.
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Vietnam acted to quell panic over rice supplies on Monday, banning speculation in the market after a “chaotic” buying binge in the Southeast Asian nation highlighted growing global fears about food security. 
A Vietnamese rice paddy worker….

The move by the world’s second-biggest rice exporter came as protests continued in some states in Africa over soaring costs for food and fuel which aid experts say threaten to push 100 million people worldwide into hunger.

Against this backdrop, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gathered together the heads of 27 international agencies including the World Bank, World Food Programme and World Trade Organisation to coordinate a response.

Officials familiar with the closed-door session said the main priority was to ensure that food aid reached those desperately affected by surging prices of wheat, rice, dairy products and other dietary staples.

Ban, who has described rising food prices as a “global crisis” and urged world leaders to discuss ways to improve food distribution systems and production, will address the press in the Swiss capital Berne on Tuesday.

Ban Ki-moon
반기문/潘基文
Ban Ki-moon

Experts have linked the problems to factors including drought in Australia, higher fuel costs, the use of crops for biofuels and speculation on global commodity markets.

U.S. President George W. Bush is considering “what other aspects need to be taken care of” to help ease the crisis after announcing a $200 million increase in food aid earlier this month, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“He’s really concerned about the humanitarian condition around the world,” she told reporters on Monday.

Meanwhile world aid groups continue to reel from the jump in food prices. World Vision, one of the globe’s largest humanitarian organizations, said it may have cut 1.5 million people, or 23 percent, from its aid program because of a strained budget.

“Despite our best efforts, more than a million of our beneficiaries are no longer receiving food aid,” said Dean Hirsch, president of World Vision International. “At least a third of these are children who urgently need enough healthy food to thrive.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080428/ts_nm/food_dc;_
ylt=AvuHqABELenB0dee53uVu.is0NUE

Beijing’s Massive Pre-Olympic People Relocation, Home Demolition a Human Rights Issue

April 27, 2008

John E, Carey
Peace and Freedom

Before the start of the Olympics, communist leaders in Beijing announced a plan to remove from the city the hordes of vagrants, homeless people and orphaned children who live on Beijing’s streets. Some estimate that as many as 2 million orphaned or homeless children alone live in Beijing.

The program is designed to make sure Westerners like you and me see the best of Beijing – even if that is only a temporary and false façade. TV viewers in the U.S., Canada, Europe and places like Japan can expect to see a completely sanitized Beijing this August.

Human rights groups are asking: “Where are they going and how are they getting there?”

China remains silent.  The removal and relocation of people from Beijing for the Olympics is shrouded in secrecy.
A group of slave laborers rescued from a brick kiln in Linfen, northern China's Shanxi province, in late May stand outside a police station. About 550 slave laborers have been freed from various brick kilns and mines in central China in the past month.
Last year, Western media discovered slaves working in China’s mines.  Many were young boys with no rights and miserable living conditions. Above: Slaves released in China after more than a year of forced labor.

Then there is the government removing homes and creating homeless — with little warning and little compensation.

The Washington Post reported in a long story by Jill Drew on Saturday April 26, 2008, that communist leaders in Beijing are buying up at below market value all the villagers’ houses near the Olympic venues.  As soon as the people vacate; their former homes are bulldozed into oblivion. 

“Su, Wang and another neighbor were the last three holdouts to fight for their families’ homes against developers who own rights to this land, just across the street from the main Olympic park in Beijing. The three have now been forced to join the thousands of people — housing advocates say hundreds of thousands — whose homes have been plowed under in the rush of Olympics-related construction over the past seven years,” wrote Ms. Drew.
A haze of pollution hangs over China's National Stadium, known as the bird's nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8.
A haze of pollution hangs over China’s National Stadium, known as the bird’s nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8. Many of the homes in the area of the stadium have been bulldozed away and no longer exist. (By Greg Baker – Associated Press)

“Less than four months before the Summer Games open, the forced relocations in Beijing are highlighting another cost of the Olympics, as residents make way for such architectural glories as the National Stadium, known as the bird’s nest, and the apartment and office towers springing up nearby,” Ms. Drew reported for the Post. “Whole neighborhoods have been wiped out. Especially controversial has been the destruction of about 800 of the city’s 1,200 hutongs, lanes full of traditional, courtyard-style houses.”

“You can never win when you sue the government,” said Su.  Meaning you can never stay and you can never recoup the full value of your home.

Beijing is being remade for you and me and other TV viewers and Olympic tourists.  But there is a price; a toll that can only be measured in human suffering.  Because China is a communist holdout, the people have no rights and no voice.  The government is free to abuse its own population.  That’s always a prescription for abuses: and today in Beijing a blind man can see that the displaced, poor and “without voice” are powerless to resist their communist government….

Rehab Renegade: Amy Winehouse

April 25, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Almost anybody who has a tendency toward addiction can wind up in a court ordered rehabilitation or “rehab” treatment facility.

Case in point: Grammy winning singer Amy Winehouse.

She was admitted to the Capio Nightingale clinic in north London on January 24, days after a video emerged showing her apparently smoking crack cocaine.
AmyWinehouseBerlin2007.jpg
Above: Amy Winehouse in better days. 

In today’s news: she was arrested on suspicion of assault in London after a wild night out.

London’s legendary tabloids quoted a man as saying Ms. Winehouse hit him when he interrupted her game of pool in a bar. Then she apparently head-butted a second man who was trying to get her into a cab and headed out of the neighborhood. All this in the wee hours of Wednesday.
 
The once beautiful and compelling performer is now performing not on stage but in an entirely new venue: the stage of international interest in those afflicted with addiction.
British singer Amy Winehouse arrives at a police station in ... 
Winehouse under arrest in London, April 25, 2008.

Her bizarre behavior over a protracted time can hardly be interpreted any other way – as London judges can attest.

Ms. Winehouse and her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, were arrested in the Norwegian city of Bergen in October and held overnight on charges of drug possession. A video of her allegedly smoking crack with her husband appeared on the Internet shortly before she won five Grammys this year for her critically acclaimed album “Back to Black.”

Her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, was also accused of assault last year for hitting a bartender but the charges were dropped.
Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse, pictured on January 18, ... 
Troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse, pictured on January 18, 2007 was admitted that week to a rehabilitation clinic to help her battle against drug addiction, her record company said.(AFP/Shaun Curry)

US cites China, Russia for failing to protect intellectual property

April 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Friday named China and Russia as among the worst offenders for failing to protect US intellectual property rights and allowing counterfeit goods to flourish.
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In an annual report on intellectual property rights protection, the US Trade Representative’s office voiced continuing concern about China and Russia’s respect of US patents and copyrights.

The Special 301 Report, named after the section of US law on which it is based, spotlights “one of the central challenges facing the global economy,” USTR Susan Schwab said.

The report said US authorities still see “serious” concerns with respect to China and Russia, in spite of some evidence of improvement in both countries.

“Pirates and counterfeiters don’t just steal ideas; they steal jobs, and too often they threaten our health and safety,” Schwab said.

Schwab’s office announced it would once again retain China on its priority watch list and continue monitoring China under Section 306 of the 1974 Trade Act in a bid to maintain pressure on China to improve its intellectual property rights (IPR) situation.

“While the United States continues to seek cooperative channels to work with China to strengthen that country’s IPR regime, high levels of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting remain serious concerns,” the USTR said.

Meanwhile, the federal government is also using the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement process “to address a number of specific deficiencies in China’s IPR regime,” the statement said.

The USTR said the Bush administration continues to work for improvements to Russia’s IPR regime, and some progress has been made, for example in the raiding of unlicensed factories.

It noted, however, that large-scale production and distribution of IP-infringing optical media and Internet piracy in Russia “remain significant problems that require more enforcement action.”

The Special 301 Report covers 46 countries.

Asked Why He Missed Woodstock in ‘69; McCain Says “I Was Tied Up At The Time”

April 25, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Visiting in Inez, Kentucky, Senator John McCain was asked yesterday why he missed the Woodstock “mucical and pharmacalogical” event in 1969.  The Senator, in his sometimes humorous and understated way, said, “I was tied up at the time.”

Actually, Navy Lieutenant and Naval Aviator John McCain was a “guest” of the communist North Vietnam government in 1969.  Sometimes we have to remind youngsters that the Hanoi Hilton’s room service often involved torture.
McCainWithSquadron.jpg
McCain the fighter pilot with his shipmates. 

I recently interviewed some men who served for the government of South Vietnam who reflected upon imprisonment and torture.  One, in a beautiful understatement not unlike Senator McCain’s, just shook his head “No” and said, “Situation not happy.  Not at all happy.”

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McCain Speaks In Inez, Ky 

By Juliet Eilperin and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 24, 2008; Page A06
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INEZ, Ky., April 23 — Sen. John McCain stood before a small crowd in this tiny Appalachian town with the same mission he has had all week: convincing what he calls “forgotten” voters who are traditionally hostile to his party that he is a different kind of Republican.

“You just expect us to show a decent concern for your hard work and initiative, and do what we can to help make sure you have opportunities to prosper from your labor,” he told a packed courthouse Wednesday, not far from the coal mines that provide most of the jobs here.

Earlier this week, McCain sought to assure African Americans in Selma, Ala., that he is committed to helping places ignored by “sins of indifference and injustice.” On Tuesday, he sympathized with workers in the fading factory town of Youngstown, Ohio. And on Thursday, he is scheduled to tour the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where residents continue to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

McCain is reaching out to voters in these Democratic strongholds to try to build the broad, center-right coalition that aides believe is necessary for him to become president. Advisers do not think Republicans alone can elect McCain, given how many have become disenchanted with President Bush and his policies.

McCain’s “Time for Action” tour is less about specific proposals; those will come later, advisers said. The important part, they said, is for McCain to lay the groundwork in places such as Inez to credibly claim that he cares about the people who live on the edge of the modern economy. In effect, McCain is launching Version 2.0 of Bush’s “compassionate conservative” campaign.

McCain is not likely to have an easy time of it. Appealing to blacks and rural Democrats may be difficult as job losses and gas prices have made the economy the leading issue on voters’ minds. McCain’s economic plan is heavy on tax breaks for big business and admonishments about not relying on the federal government for help. He proposes a cut in corporate income taxes from 35 to 25 percent, help for companies who depreciate equipment and other incentives.

“The Democrats do more for our area,” said Rhonda York, who works for a day-care provider and is married to a coal miner. “Right now, it’s extremely hard, with four dollars for gas.”

In his speech Wednesday, McCain offered none of the promises of government help that President Lyndon Johnson did when he declared war on poverty in Inez 44 years ago. Instead, McCain vowed to enact tax cuts that he said will spur job growth, incentives for companies to bring high-speed Internet here, and job training for displaced workers.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/story/2008/04/23/
ST2008042303253.html?hpid=topnews

What the Petraeus Promotion Means

April 23, 2008

By Mark Thompson
Time Magazine
April 23, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s announcement Wednesday promoting General David Petraeus from his current post running the war in Iraq to head up U.S. Central Command triggered both political and military unease. That response may be inevitable, coming on the downside of an unpopular war and in the waning months of the tenure of the unpopular President who launched it.
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While Republicans hailed the news that Petraeus – who implemented the “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq, which is seen has having tamped down violence – was moving up the chain of command, Democrats were cooler. Opponents of the war fear that if the Democrat-led Senate approves Petraeus’s promotion, it could be taken as a signal to “stay the course” in a war that has dragged on for more than five years and has killed more than 4,000 U.S. troops. Party activists will be paying close attention to how Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vote on Petraeus’s new assignment, which the White House hopes will happen by the end of May. (Presumptive G.O.P. nominee John McCain hailed Petraeus’ nomination, calling him “one of the great generals in American history.”)

U.S. military commander in Iraq General David Petraeus salutes ...  

Democrats are unlikely to mount a campaign to block Petraeus’ promotion. Yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the next CENTCOM commander must come with new plans for Iraq “if directed to by a new President.” Petraeus hedged last month when asked what he would say if a new President were to order a withdrawal plan within 60 days of taking office. He verbally juggled risks and objectives before conceding, “We take orders and we follow them.”

The impact of promoting Petraeus, however, may be even greater in the national security establishment than on Capitol Hill. It’s a wake-up call to old-school Army officers and their vanishing dreams of massive tank battles and artillery skirmishes, some of whom privately call Petraeus “King David” for his high self-regard and chumminess with reporters. Gates has made clear that wants commanders able to carry out the messy, irregular kind of combat championed by Petraeus that the Defense Secretary envisages the U.S. fighting for years to come. The promotion reinforces the message he delivered to young Air Force and Army officers on Monday, when he criticized their leaders for devoting too much time and effort to future potential wars, and not enough to the real wars now under way.

“The kinds of conflicts that we’re doing, not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan, and some of the challenges that we face elsewhere in the region and in the Central Command area, are very much characterized by asymmetric warfare,” Gates said. “And I don’t know anybody in the United States military better qualified [than Petraeus] to lead that effort.” Gates said he had discussed Petraeus’s promotion with Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the armed services committee, and said he didn’t “anticipate any problems” in winning Senate approval. Petraeus, in a brief statement from Baghdad, said he is “honored to be nominated for this position.”

U.S. Central Command is the core of the U.S. military’s current operations – it includes both Afghanistan and Iraq – stretching from the Horn of Africa to Pakistan. Although its headquarters are at an Air Force base in Tampa, Fla., recent commanders have spent much of their time at their forward headquarters in Qatar. Petraeus will assume command late this summer or early fall, replacing Admiral William Fallon, who requested early retirement last month after he was portrayed in a magazine interview as the lone officer preventing a U.S. war with Iran. Petraeus’s former deputy in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, will return to Baghdad in the Petraeus slot, giving up his new assignment as the Army’s No. 2 officer after only two months back in the U.S. “There is no question that there are a handful of generals, like a lot of captains and enlisted soldiers and the NCOs,” Gates said, “who have had repeated tours in Iraq.”

China Frowns on Patriotic Protests

April 21, 2008

By Austin Ramzy
Time Magazine
April 21, 2008

It’s tough being a hot-blooded nationalist in China these days. Your online rants about treacherous French hypermarkets get censored, and by the time you can organize a protest on the street, those protests aren’t so welcome anymore.
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Since late last week the official press has been signaling that the recent outburst by Chinese bloggers outraged over anti-Chinese protests that have dogged the path of the Olympic torch must be wound down. Some Chinese have been calling for a boycott of the French retailer Carrefour, which has more than 100 outlets in China, after pro-Tibet protesters gave the torch a rough reception in Paris and the city council raised a banner on City Hall that read “Paris defends human rights all over the world.”

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1732569,00.html?xid=rss-world

Silent Tsunami: Food Prices Causing Misery, Strife Around the World

April 21, 2008

Apr 17th 2008
From The Economist print edition
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PICTURES of hunger usually show passive eyes and swollen bellies. The harvest fails because of war or strife; the onset of crisis is sudden and localised. Its burden falls on those already at the margin.

Today’s pictures are different. “This is a silent tsunami,” says Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency. A wave of food-price inflation is moving through the world, leaving riots and shaken governments in its wake. For the first time in 30 years, food protests are erupting in many places at once. Bangladesh is in turmoil (see article); even China is worried (see article). Elsewhere, the food crisis of 2008 will test the assertion of Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, that famines do not happen in democracies.

Famine traditionally means mass starvation. The measures of today’s crisis are misery and malnutrition. The middle classes in poor countries are giving up health care and cutting out meat so they can eat three meals a day. The middling poor, those on $2 a day, are pulling children from school and cutting back on vegetables so they can still afford rice. Those on $1 a day are cutting back on meat, vegetables and one or two meals, so they can afford one bowl. The desperate—those on 50 cents a day—face disaster.

Roughly a billion people live on $1 a day. If, on a conservative estimate, the cost of their food rises 20% (and in some places, it has risen a lot more), 100m people could be forced back to this level, the common measure of absolute poverty. In some countries, that would undo all the gains in poverty reduction they have made during the past decade of growth. Because food markets are in turmoil, civil strife is growing; and because trade and openness itself could be undermined, the food crisis of 2008 may become a challenge to globalisation.

Read the rest:
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=11050146

Chinese heckle Olympic torch run protesters in Malaysia

April 21, 2008

By JULIA ZAPPEI, Associated Press Writer 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A crowd of Chinese onlookers heckled and hit a Japanese family with inflated plastic batons Monday after the three unfurled a Tibetan flag before the start of the Malaysian leg of the Olympic torch relay.

The family, comprising two adults and a boy, was detained by police, who also took a Buddhist monk and a British woman wearing a “Free-Tibet” T-shirt into custody. All five were later released.

Criticism of China‘s human rights record has turned August Beijing Olympics into one of the most contentious in recent history.

Protests have dogged the round-the-world torch relay during its stops in Paris, London and San Francisco, with demonstrations over China’s crackdown in Tibet where it forcefully put down anti-government riots.

Though the torch’s most recent legs in South America, Africa and Asia have been relatively trouble-free, host countries have beefed up security in an effort to thwart possible disruptions.

About 1,000 police stood ready to guard the relay in Malaysia against protests. A Buddhist group held special prayers at a Kuala Lumpur temple for a trouble-free torch run and a peaceful Olympics.

The president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Imran Jaafar, set off with the torch, jogging a short distance before handing it to the next runner in the relay covering 10 miles through downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080421/ap_on_re_as/
olympic_torch;_ylt=AmjkWpruOue8rzIyZBqPQlas0NUE