Obama offers states more flexibility in health-care law

President Obama sought to defuse criticism of the new health-care overhaul Monday by saying he is willing to give states an earlier opportunity to opt out of certain key requirements - but only if they can find their own ways to accomplish the law's goals.
The announcement was met with skepticism by many Republican governors who said they need to learn more about the details.
If Congress approves the plan, states could gain exemption by 2014 rather than 2017 from some central and controversial elements of the law: that most Americans carry health insurance, that many employers offer their workers coverage, and that states create insurance marketplaces to help individuals and small businesses buy health plans that meet federal rules.
To win that freedom, though, Obama reminded the governors at a White House meeting that states would have to prove to federal officials that they could still achieve the law's objectives. Specifically, they would need to demonstrate that insurance benefits would be as affordable and as comprehensive, that the same number of residents would gain coverage, and that the alternate approach would not deepen the federal deficit.
With a majority of states trying to overturn the law in the federal courts and Republican governors complaining that it gives federal regulators too heavy a hand, the president sought to move the debate onto new ground by forcing the law's critics to prove that their vision for the nation's health-care system could work.
"Many of these states contend they can do more with less if they get the flexibility to be more creative," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy group. "This puts the onus back on them and calls that into question."
In taking this new tack, the White House is endorsing a proposal introduced late last year by a bipartisan trio of senators. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), would accelerate a provision in the law that would allow states to ask federal health officials for "innovation waivers" starting in 2017 that would free them to devise ways to improve health care. The legislation would move up the date to 2014.
The change in timing is significant, because 2014 is when the provisions in question are to go into effect, so states could - in theory, at least - get permission early enough to avoid the requirements.
"I think that's a reasonable proposal. I support it," Obama told the governors who convened at the White House on Monday as part of the National Governors Association's semi-annual meetings. "It will give you more flexibility more quickly, while still guaranteeing the American people reform. If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does - without increasing the deficit - you can implement that plan. And we'll work with you to do it."
Although the president has endorsed the idea, Congress would still have to approve the change for states to get relief by 2014. If it did, Health and Human Services officials would then need to write rules defining specifically how states could meet criteria for a waiver.
The immediate reaction - among the governors and on Capitol Hill - was mixed.
The governors said Obama's willingness to release them earlier from some of the law's requirements was welcome. But most stopped short of embracing the idea fully, with Republicans sounding especially wary.
"A number of our fellow governors would be very interested in supporting this," said Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), the NGA's chairman. "We need to talk to them to see if we can put our support behind that bill as the National Governors Association."
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who opposed the health-care legislation as a member of the Senate, said Obama's proposal doesn't negate what he and other Republicans consider a fatally flawed law that they will continue to challenge in the courts. "This offers a little bit of flexibility, which I think is a positive thing," he said, "but it doesn't change the overall objection to the bill."
Other Republicans were equally cautious. "The devil's in the details," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) called Obama's new timetable a "gimmick" that would not provide genuine relief.
Governors' more immediate focus was on the potentially crushing burden of rising Medicaid costs. Gregoire said the NGA would accept the president's challenge to develop a bipartisan set of recommendations that would give states more flexibility to curb Medicaid spending. But Republicans, some of whom favor converting the health insurance system for the poor from an entitlement program to a block grant, remained skeptical that Obama will authorize real changes. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that on the question of Medicaid flexibility, the president "said some very nice things and he says them really nicely." But, he added, "I didn't hear any real substance" that would suggest the governors will get what they want.
The proposal to give states greater freedom from the health-care law would not specifically allow governors to deviate from Medicaid's rules for who must be covered and what medical services they must be able to receive. The proposal would, however, let states send HHS officials a combined request to alter Medicaid and their approach to health-care reform.
On Capitol Hill, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said: "The date was set at 2017 because that was the earliest experts thought these measures could be implemented, but we are open to hearing the administration's reasons for concluding that they can be implemented earlier."
Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor, called Obama's announcement "sort of a hollow victory." Leavitt, who was a major proponent of state experimentation with health care when he led the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, said that Obama was essentially telling states, " 'We'll give you permission to ask for permission sooner rather than later.' What Republicans are saying is that we don't want to have to ask for permission at all, because we can't afford to build the system that you've laid out for us."
An aide to Wyden, a liberal who also has long favored giving states more freedom to devise their own health-care approaches, said that officials from the White House and HHS have been conferring with the senator since shortly after he and Brown introduced the legislation in late November.
"It was a process of persuasion," the aide said. "They've been coming around for a while and just kind of came to fruition recently." So far, the aide added, Oregon, Vermont and Massachusetts - which developed its own health exchange before the federal law was enacted - are the only states that have said they will pursue a waiver.

by washpost

Egypt bans Mubarak from travel, freezes assets

CAIRO - Egypt's top prosecutor on Monday barred former president Hosni Mubarak and his family from leaving the country and seized control of Mubarak's assets as the new government moved ahead with an investigation into charges of corruption.
Opponents accuse Mubarak, who fled Cairo more than two weeks ago, of diverting millions of dollars from official coffers.
The office of prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud did not disclose details of the investigation involving the family. But it said the travel ban applied to Mubarak; his wife, Suzanne; his two sons; and their wives.
The pro-government newspaper Al-Ahram, citing military sources, reported on its Web site Monday that the former president's son Gamal Mubarak had been stopped by the military Sunday when he tried to leave the country.
News of the sanctions, and the possibility that they could lead to a formal prosecution, gave a boost to activists who had grown frustrated with what they see as the slow pace of reforms since Mubarak's fall. Although the delay may have allowed the former ruling family time to conceal some of its wealth, an official sanction of any kind against the man who dominated the government for three decades was welcome news, activists said.
"It's important, even just symbolically," said Hala Mustafa, editor of Democracy Review, an Egyptian quarterly. "It's hard to imagine the government would ask Interpol to go and find him if he left, but at least it shows they understand what happened here was a real revolution. Now they need to go further."
Experts in the field said tracking down Mubarak's millions is not as easy as simply freezing his assets or those of his family. Just finding the assets can be time-consuming because they probably are hidden in shell companies and entities incorporated in countries known as tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions, experts said.
After Mubarak was forced out, Switzerland sent notices to banks with a list of Mubarak family names and asked that their assets be seized. But specialists said it is likely that many, if not most, accounts are not in the family name.
"It isn't sitting all in one account where they can go and freeze it," said Jack D. Smith, a former U.S. banking regulator who is now a law professor at George Washington University. "If you don't get it quickly, stuff that's not frozen disappears. You have to ask the banks to help you, but it can be done. I'll bet you a lot of banks are still looking."
The legal process of returning the assets to Egypt could take years, Smith said. Cases involving other leaders have taken longer than a decade.
Estimates of Mubarak's wealth have ranged from $1 billion to $70 billion, and Smith said most are likely wild guesses.
Mubarak is not the first member of his ruling clique to face investigation by the interim government. Several former ministers, party leaders and businessmen close to Mubarak have been jailed in the past two weeks on charges that include money laundering and profiteering.
But neither those arrests nor the fledgling investigation into Mubarak has been enough to satisfy protesters, who have remained massed in central Cairo by the hundreds. Even as students returned to class and the Egyptian stock exchange was slated to open Tuesday, activists have called for faster changes. The list of demands they have been pressing includes the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a former Mubarak ally, the release of political prisoners and the arrest of those who opened fire on protesters early in the revolt.
On Monday, one of the leading protest groups threatened to cut off negotiations with the military council running the interim government unless it agreed to a timetable for protesters' key demands.
After a five-hour meeting with the council over the weekend, the Coalition for Revolution Youth gave officials two days to set a schedule or face the return of huge crowds in the streets, according to a posting on its Facebook page.

From Washington

Battle for Libya rage as Qaddafi Strikes Back

BENGHAZI, Libya — With escalating hostilities bringing Libya closer to civil war, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back at his opponents on three fronts, with special forces, regular army troops and, rebels said, fighter jets.

But the rebels dismissed the attacks Monday as ineffectual, and Colonel Qaddafi faced a growing international campaign to force him from power, as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions.
As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.”

The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who have maintained that they are close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government may still possess powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.

Rebel leaders said the attacks smacked of desperation, and the ease with which at least one assault, on the western city of Zawiyah, was repelled raised questions about the ability of the government to muster a serious challenge to the rebels’ growing power.

In an interview with ABC News, Colonel Qaddafi said he was fighting against “terrorists,” and he accused the West of seeking to “occupy Libya.” He gave no hint of surrender. “My people love me,” he said. “They would die for me.”

Winners for the 83rd Academy Awards

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in "Biutiful" (Roadside Attractions)
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit" (Paramount)
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Colin Firth in "The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company)
James Franco in "127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in "The Fighter" (Paramount)
John Hawkes in "Winter’s Bone" (Roadside Attractions)
Jeremy Renner in "The Town" (Warner Bros.)
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right" (Focus Features)
Geoffrey Rush in "The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right" (Focus Features)
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole" (Lionsgate)
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter’s Bone" (Roadside Attractions)
Natalie Portman in "Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight)
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine" (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in "The Fighter" (Paramount)
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company)
Melissa Leo in "The Fighter" (Paramount)
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit" (Paramount)
Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom" (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
"How to Train Your Dragon" (Paramount), Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
"The Illusionist" (Sony Pictures Classics), Sylvain Chomet"
Toy Story 3" (Walt Disney), Lee Unkrich

Achievement in Art Direction
"Alice in Wonderland" (Walt Disney), Production Design: Robert Stromberg, Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" (Warner Bros.), Production Design: Stuart Craig, Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Production Design: Eve Stewart, Set Decoration: Judy Farr
"True Grit" (Paramount), Production Design: Jess Gonchor, Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

Achievement in Cinematography
"Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight), Matthew Libatique
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Danny Cohen
"The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit" (Paramount), Roger Deakins

Achievement in Costume Design
"Alice in Wonderland" (Walt Disney), Colleen Atwood
"
;I Am Love" (Magnolia Pictures), Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Jenny Beavan
"The Tempest" (Miramax), Sandy Powell
"True Grit" (Paramount), Mary Zophres

Achievement in Directing
"Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight), Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter" (Paramount), David O. Russell
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Tom Hooper
"
;The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), David Fincher
"True Grit" (Paramount), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Best Documentary Feature
"Exit through the Gift Shop" (Producers Distribution Agency), A Paranoid Pictures Production, Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
"Gasland", A Gasland Production, Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
"Inside Job" (Sony Pictures Classics), A Representational Pictures Production, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"
;Restrepo" (National Geographic Entertainment), An Outpost Films Production, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
"Waste Land" (Arthouse Films), An Almega Projects Production, Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Best Documentary Short Subject
"Killing in the Name", A Moxie Firecracker Films Production, Nominees to be determined
"Poster Girl", A Portrayal Films Production, Nominees to be determined
"Strangers No More", A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
"
;Sun Come Up", A Sun Come Up Production, Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
"The Warriors of Qiugang", A Thomas Lennon Films Production, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Achievement in film editing
"Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight), Andrew Weisblum
"The Fighter" (Paramount), Pamela Martin
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Tariq Anwar
"127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight), Jon Harris
"The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
"Biutiful" (Roadside Attractions), A Menage Atroz, Mod Producciones and Ikiru Films Production, Mexico
"Dogtooth" (Kino International), A Boo Production, Greece
"In a Better World" (Sony Pictures Classics), A Zentropa Production, Denmark
"Incendies" (Sony Pictures Classics), A Micro-Scope Production, Canada
"Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)" (Cohen Media Group), A Tassili Films Production, Algeria

Achievement in Makeup
"Barney’s Version" (Sony Pictures Classics), Adrien Morot
"The Way Back" (Newmarket Films in association with Wrekin Hill Entertainment and Image Entertainment), Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Wolfman" (Universal), Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original score)
"How to Train Your Dragon" (Paramount), John Powell
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Hans Zimmer
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman"
The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original song)
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong" (Sony Pictures Releasing (Screen Gems)), Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from "Tangled" (Walt Disney), Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3" (Walt Disney), Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Motion Picture of the Year
"Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight), A Protozoa and Phoenix Pictures Production, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
"The Fighter" (Paramount), A Relativity Media Production, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), A Warner Bros. UK Services Production, Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
"The Kids Are All Right" (Focus Features), An Antidote Films, Mandalay Vision and Gilbert Films Production, Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
"The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), A See-Saw Films and Bedlam Production, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
"127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight), An Hours Production, Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
"The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), A Columbia Pictures Production, Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers "Toy Story 3" (Walt Disney), A Pixar Production, Darla K. Anderson, Producer
"True Grit" (Paramount), A Paramount Pictures Production, Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"Winter’s Bone" (Roadside Attractions), A Winter’s Bone Production, Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Best Animated Short Film
"Day & Night" (Walt Disney), A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Teddy Newton
"The Gruffalo", A Magic Light Pictures Production, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
"Let’s Pollute", A Geefwee Boedoe Production, Geefwee Boedoe"
The Lost Thing", (Nick Batzias for Madman Entertainment), A Passion Pictures Australia Production, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
"Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)", A Sacrebleu Production, Bastien Dubois

Best Live Action Short Film
"The Confession" (National Film and Television School), A National Film and Television School Production, Tanel Toom
"The Crush" (Network Ireland Television), A Purdy Pictures Production, Michael Creagh
"God of Love", A Luke Matheny Production, Luke Matheny
"Na Wewe" (Premium Films), A CUT! Production, Ivan Goldschmidt
"Wish 143", A Swing and Shift Films/Union Pictures Production, Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Achievement in Sound Editing
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Richard King";
Toy Story 3" (Walt Disney), Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
"Tron: Legacy" (Walt Disney), Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
"True Grit" (Paramount), Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
"Unstoppable" (20th Century Fox), Mark P. Stoeckinger

Achievement in Sound Mixing
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick";
The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
"Salt" (Sony Pictures Releasing), Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
"The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
"True Grit" (Paramount), Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Achievement in Visual Effects
"Alice in Wonderland" (Walt Disney), Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" (Warner Bros.), Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
"Hereafter" (Warner Bros.), Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb";
Iron Man 2" (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment, Distributed by Paramount), Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Adapted Screenplay
"127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy"
The Social Network" (Sony Pictures Releasing), Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
"Toy Story 3" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Michael Arndt, Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
"True Grit" (Paramount), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"Winter’s Bone" (Roadside Attractions), Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Original Screenplay
"Another Year" (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Mike Leigh
"The Fighter" (Paramount), Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
"Inception" (Warner Bros.), Written by Christopher Nolan
"The Kids Are All Right" (Focus Features), Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg"
The King’s Speech" (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Seidler

The 83rd Academy Awards aired on Sunday, February 27 from the Kodak Theatre at 5 p.m.. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC.

The King's Speech crowned Oscars best picture

'The King's Speech' was crowned Best Picture of the Year at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards Sunday night in Hollywood, beating out nine other nominees: 'Black Swan,' 'The Fighter,' 'Inception,' 'The Kids Are All Right,' '127 Hours,' 'The Social Network,' 'Toy Story 3,' 'True Grit' and 'Winter's Bone.' That film's king, Colin Firth, was named Best Actor, while 'Black Swan' princess Natalie Portman was named Best Actress.
Shepherding a disjointed "History of Hollywood 101" theme throughout the lengthy show, genial co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco kept the proceedings pleasant, light and without bite -- the polar opposite of Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais' acerbic stint (although a Charlie Sheen joke did make it into the proceedings) -- and poked fun at their "young and hip" casting appeal "to a younger demographic."
Get the complete list of winners HERE.

The Best Thespians

Slightly stunned, Firth was named Best Actor for his portrayal of stammering King George VI of Britain in 'The King's Speech,' besting fellow nominees Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco. "I have a feeling my career's just peaked," joked Firth, whose thanks extended to his co-stars, "whose virtuosity made it very difficult for me to be as bad as I intended to be," as well as his wife Livia, for enduring his "fleeting delusions of royalty."

A pregnant Portman danced to the stage to cradle her Best Actress statuette for her riveting performance as a dancer on the edge in 'Black Swan,' out-pirouetting Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams. "I truly, sincerely wish the prize was to get to work with my fellow nominees," said Natalie. Brought to tears when she thanked her parents for "showing me every day to be a good human being by example," she also singled out her fiance and "beautiful love, Benjamin Millepied, who has now given me my most important role in life."

The Supporting Players

'The Fighter' came out swinging in the Best Supporting Actor categories, with both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo knocking out the competition. Bale bested fellow nominees John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Geoffrey Rush. Declaring, "Bloody hell -- what a room full of talented and inspirational people, and what the hell am I doing here?" Bale gave a shout-out to Dicky Ecklund, the real-life pugilist he portrayed, telling the audience, "He's had a wonderful story, and I can't wait to see the next chapter," then went on to promote Dicky as a trainer and even gave out his web address. Before departing the stage, Bale got a bit choked up in thanking his wife, "my mast through our storms of life," and their daughter.
Leo bested her 'Fighter' co-star Amy Adams in addition to Helena Bonham Carter, Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver for the Best Supporting Actress statuette. Asking legendary presenter Kirk Douglas, "Will you pinch me?" Leo basked in the moment, declared, "I'm shakin' in my boots here," then accidentally dropped the F-bomb before she thanked the real-life 'Fighter' clan matron Alice Ward.

Other Awards of the Night

Underdog contender 'The Social Network' still had some Academy fans, picking up Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score, while 'The King's Speech' also added Best Director and Best Original Screenplay to its crown. 'Inside Job' was named Best Documentary; Denmark's 'In A Better World' was named Best Foreign Language Film; Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design went to 'Alice in Wonderland'; 'Inception' lived the dream with accolades for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing; 'The Wolfman' snarled up the Best Makeup statuette; and while 'Toy Story 3' did not win Best Picture of the year, it picked up the Best Animated Feature statuette in addition to Randy Newman's Best Original Song, "We Belong Together."
Show Highlights

Fun and memorable moments of the night included the show-opening 'Inception' spoof, with Franco and Hathaway finding themselves inside the dream of former Oscar co-host Alec Baldwin, highlighted by Hathaway doing the "dance of the brown duck" alongside Franco in a revealing white leotard during their 'Black Swan' moment; Justin Timberlake jokingly outed himself as incognito 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' street artist Banksy; Kevin Spacey sang a few lines from 'Top Hat,' then introduced himself as "George Clooney"; Hathaway did a solo song-and-dance, putting down "Hugh Jackass" for turning down her offer to perform together -- and then Franco came out in drag, dressed as Marilyn Monroe, quipping, "The weird part is I got a text message from Charlie Sheen." Gwyneth Paltrow performed her "Coming Home" tune from 'Country Strong'; and more music and laughs came from edited scenes featuring big movies of the year (from 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' to 'Toy Story 3' and 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse') remixed in "Auto-Tune."

In Memoriam

And stars we lost this past year were remembered in tribute -- including Tony Curtis, Gloria Stewart, Leslie Nielsen, Pete Postlethwaite, Robert Culp, Lynn Redgrave, Anne Francis, Jill Clayburgh, Dennis Hopper, Blake Edwards, Kevin McCarthy and Lena Horne -- as Celine Dion sang an emotional rendition of the song "Smile."

50's Bombshell Jane Russell passed away

'40s and '50s screen legend Jane Russell has passed away. The actress died Monday at her home in Santa Maria, Calif. from respiratory heart failure, her family told The Associated Press. She was 89.
Russell starred in Howard Hughes' 'The Outlaw' in 1941. Staying true to her Western roots, her daughter-in-law, Etta Waterfield, told the AP, "She always said I'm going to die in the saddle, I'm not going to sit at home and become an old woman." Until recently, Russell remained active in her church and her foundation, World Adoption International Agency.
She once shared the screen with another famous bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, in 1953's 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.' Russell referred to Marilyn as "a little sister," according to the AP. The actress retired from movies following 1970's 'Darker Than Amber.'
Unable to bear children of her own which may have been due to an abortion in high school, Russell and first husband, NFL quarterback Bob Waterfield, adopted three children together. Their 24-year marriage concluded in divorce in 1968. Just three months after exchanging vows with actor Roger Barrett, he died of a heart attack. She was also widowed by third husband, John Peoples, who died of heart failure in 1999 after a 21-year marriage.
Russell's autobiography "My Paths and Detours," published in 1985, reveals intimate details of her childhood, film career, and love life. Born June 21, 1921, her full name was Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell. She is survived by her three children, six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. A public funeral will take place on March 12.

Katy Perry made a surprise apperance at Oprah's Ultimate after-Oscar Party

Katy Perry made a surprise appearance at "Oprah's Ultimate After-Oscar Party" at the Kodak Theatre – and we have the fun footage!
Fresh from their Oscar performance last night, Staten Island's PS 22 Chorus took the stage again for Oprah's special show, only to part like the Red Sea to let Perry join them for a rousing rendition of her new hit "Firework" -- to the surprise and excitement of the crowd.
Once the performance was complete, the kids surrounded Perry, who gave them high-fives. Perry, who is on tour, said she flew in at the special request of Oprah, and that she was inspired by the chorus after seeing them on YouTube.
Oprah also had an additional surprise for the kids, telling them that they'll all return to school with their own brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet computers, courtesy of Sprint.
Oprah's show was chock full of stars, including 'The King's Speech' Best Actor Oscar winner Colin Firth, Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo, Oscar show co-host Anne Hathaway, former statuette winners Sandra Bullock, Mo'Nique, Jeff Bridges and more

World's tallest Buildings

World's Tallest Stuff: Burj Khalifa, Dubai

The Burj Khalifa at dusk, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (© Gavin Hellier/Photolibrary)
The honor of tallest building in the world goes to the Burj Khalifa, which soars above downtown Dubai at 2,716.5 feet. Its 160 stories are filled with offices, 900 private residences, the Armani Hotel, a four-story fitness complex and an observation deck on the 124th floor. Since it opened, the Burj Khalifa has dwarfed all former "world's tallest buildings," including this one in Toronto.
 World's Tallest Church: Ulm Münster in Ulm, Germany
Ulm Cathedral at twilight, Munster, Germany (© Schmid Reinhard/4Corners Images) 
 Germany

Ulm Münster in Ulm, Germany, is the world's tallest church, with a steeple measuring 531 feet. It was also the world's tallest building from 1890 to 1901, when it was overtaken in height by this building. The stunning Gothic church in Ulm was spared from bombing in World War II that de stroyed much of the surrounding town. When you visit, climb the 768 steps to the gallery for spectacular views of the surrounding scenery.










World's Tallest Pyramid: Giza, Egypt

Great Pyramid of Giza, near Cairo, Eygpt (© Huber Johanna/SIME/4Corners Images) 

 

Ten miles west of Cairo, the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, stands as an ancient sentinel over the Giza Plateau. (See what famous face is also on the plateau.) No one knows exactly when it was built, but estimates date its construction to around 2,600 B.C. The pyramid originally stood as high as 480 feet, but time and the elements have eroded it to 454 feet. Still, that's about the same height as a 45-story building, and researchers state that if you stacked all 2.5 million stone blocks in the pyramid it would be taller than 30 Empire State Buildings. Now that's tall.



World's Tallest Waterfall: Angel Falls, Venezuela

Angel Falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela (© James Marshall/Corbis)

 

 

Nineteen times taller than Niagara Falls, Angel Falls in Venezuela tumbles over the table-top mountain of Auyantepui, falling into a swirl of mist and water 3,212 feet below. The falls wasn't known to the wider world until American aviator Jimmie Angel flew over it in 1933 while looking for gold ore for a mining company. While trying to land atop the falls in 1937, his plane crashed — no one was hurt — and the wreckage remained there until 1970. It was reassembled and now is on display at the Ciudad Bolivar airport.
 World's Tallest Statue: Spring Temple Buddha, China

Spring Temple Buddha, Henan, China (© www.cultural-china.com)

The Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China, stands 502 feet tall — impossible to miss for drivers along Highway 311. The Buddha stands atop a lotus throne in the Fodushan Scenic Area, not far from a famous hot springs. Completed in 2002, this Vairocana, or celestial Buddha, was reportedly conceived and built in response to an act of the Taliban in 2001.

 World's Tallest Tree: Redwoods, California

One of the world's tallest Redwood trees, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Calif. (© Nicholas Pavloff/Getty Images)The world's tallest tree is something that's been a source of great debate, but it can't be denied that the Sequoia sempervirens, or California redwood,  is a source of great height. In 2006, one such tree, christened the Hyperion Redwood, was discovered deep in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It measures 379.1 feet, or 9 feet taller than the previous tallest tree. Presumably, the Hyperion is still growing, as redwoods can live to be more than 2,000 years old. That's old, but it has a long way to go to catch up with the world's oldest living tree.

World's Tallest Bridge: Millau Viaduct, France

Millau Viaduct, near Millau, France (© Bildagentur RM/Photolibrary) The state-of-the-art Millau Viaduct in southern France is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with a graceful mast that soars 1,125 feet into the air — higher than the Eiffel Tower. The cable-stayed design will be challenged for the record of tallest bridge in 2012, however, when the Baluarte Bridge on Mexico's Durango-Mazatlan highway is scheduled to be completed.
  

World's Tallest Geyser: Steamboat Geyser, Yellowstone

Steamboat Geyser erupting, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. (© Neal Ulevich/AP)Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is the largest active geyser in the world, though not many people wait around long enough to witness it. The geyser can remain dormant for decades, but once it erupts — as it last did in 2005 — the water and steam can reach heights of 300 to 400 feet. That's more than twice the size of Old Faithful, which is much more reliable.

America's Tallest Bridge: Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado

Rafters on the Arkansas River below the Royal Gorge Bridge, Colo. (© Richard Nowitz/National Geographic/Getty Images)The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado was completed in 1929 at a cost of $300,000 and remains the world's tallest suspension bridge. (Coming in a close second is the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge, which sits 890 feet above the Colorado River in Nevada.) The Royal Gorge Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the area around it has plenty of modern attractions, including one of the world's tallest Skycoaster rides, which swings willing participants 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River at speeds of up to 50 mph.

America's Tallest Mountain: Denali, Alaska

Mountain peak, Denali National Park, Alaska (© Cogoli Franco/SIME/4Corners Images)With a summit at 20,320 above sea level, Denali is the tallest peak in the U.S. and deserving of its native name, which means, simply, The High One. Despite its beauty, the mountain is inhospitable: It's high enough to create its own weather; temperatures here can fall to minus 75 degrees Fahrenheit; and the summit is often shrouded in clouds. Merely catching a glimpse of the summit is a high prize for travelers to Denali National Park and Preserve north of Anchorage.

Top 5 Sexiest Women in the World

Doutzen Kroes - Vogue Russia June 2010 by Terry Richardson








5. Doutzen Kroes

Everything that spells big money has come flooding Doutzen's way in the recent years of her career. Fragrance? Check, via the Calvin Klein Eternity fragrance. Make-up? That would be the L'Oréal contract and then there is the recent pièce de résistance... that V/S contract for La Doutzen complete with Angel wings. That's the power of beauty for you.



Alessandra Ambrosio - Inez & Vinoodh for Vogue Nippon
Miranda Kerr - Photo: Inez & VInoodh for GQ June 2010




4.Alessandra Ambrosio

Alessandra Ambrosio with her multi-million dollar Victoria's Secret contract, her highly touted appearance on "Entourage" and her status as a mass media celebrity from Brazil back to the USA certainly proves that a beautiful (and undeniably) sexy girl is a a financial force of nature in her own right. This girl moves it, manages and maintains it like no other.








3. Miranda Kerr

This beauty found down under has found her way up. That is, up to the top to garner status as one of the most recognized Victoria's Secret Angels. The sexy Australian has come a long way since winning a model competition in 1997 at the young age of 13. Miranda is true beauty personified and will continue on that ladder of success straight up to the heavens.










Gisele Bundchen - Mert & Marcus for LOVE


2. Gisele Bundchen

Viva La Gisele. She of the cascading hair, the shimmering skin, the impossible body and the effervescent personality. Still rocking every magazine cover in sight, from GQ to V and Arena. Still clocking the massive bucks that sends the wags wagging in amazement, Gisele truly looms as THE last supermodel of our era. She is a Brazilian national hero for a reason.















Adriana Lima - Photo: Mario Sorrenti for V Magazine #66
1. Adriana Lima

Hailing from Bahia Brazil, this smoldering beauty is a major double threat with big bonanza contracts for Maybelline, Victoria's Secret. Her unique beauty, the kind you could only dream to find in Brazil has created for her a singular career. No other girl even vaguely looks like this, glows like that and moves the units like that. Beyond rare!





Acne Problems: SOLVED!

Acne is a universal problem. Contrary to what most teenagers (and even some adult acne sufferers) might believe, it is not a symptom of poor facial hygiene. While nearly everyone suffers from and are eager to get rid of acne, a surprising number of the sufferers lack the basic information in order to help them deal with the problem in a rational manner. Which is why, the field of acne cure is filled with myths, falsehoods and much more. The trick to finding the ideal acne medications is pretty straightforward. One must consult a qualified and experienced dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and subsequent treatment. This is because no two varieties of acne are caused by the same factors and as such, the acne medications differ greatly. Not
knowing about acne is one thing. But using the wrong acne medications is an altogether different matter. The wrong acne medications will not only be inefficient in getting rid of acne, it could also result in permanent scarring.
Acne medication is primarily of three types. The first kind of acne medications is the wide array of lotions and creams that can be found in just about any pharmacy of drugstore. While these are sometimes sufficient to treat and cure milder forms of acne, those with more acute acne will have to go in for professional counseling and diagnosis. This leads us to second type of acne medication which consists of prescription drugs. Prescriptions drugs are highly individualized in nature and are often prescribed by a qualified dermatologist only after having ascertained the nature and cause of individual acne. These could range from simple azelaic acid creams, through Benzoyl Peroxide to Accutane for severe cases of acne. However, do remember that these acne medications should always be taken only upon the recommendation of a qualified medical professional. They should not be treated like over the counter drugs and treated lightly.
The final kind of acne medication is traditional or home made remedies. While most people believe that this kind of acne medication is of no real use, studies have revealed that homemade acne remedies are sometimes very effective in curing simple cases of acne. Most of these acne medications contain a combination of herbs and plants which are ground up and applied on the affected area. Maybe it is because of the properties of those plants, or even due to sheer belief, but this sort of acne medications has shown surprising results. However, no guarantees can be made. Again, it would be a good idea to consult a qualified medical professional before sampling any of this sort of acne medication.

Rooms with a View: 10 Top Hotels in the world

Every traveler hopes to score a hotel room with a view, but there's no need to leave it to chance. Each of these hotels, inns, and vacation rentals comes with unbelievable views of oceans, lakes, mountains, forests, or skylines.


St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands



What: Maho Bay Camps Eco Resort


Where: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands


The Details: Established in 1976, this resort has been green from the get-go. A tent cottage gives you priceless Caribbean views at a fraction of the cost.


Rooms and Rates: From $135 per night for two people in high season (Dec. 15-April 30); Concordia Eco-Tents start at $155 and $185 per night.



More Info: tel. 800/392-9004; www.maho.org


Los Angeles, California



What: Andaz West Hollywood


Where: West Hollywood, California


The Details: From the Andaz West Hollywood hotel on the Sunset Strip, you can see the Hollywood Hills, the Pacific Ocean, and downtown Los Angeles. The penthouse suite has floor-to-ceiling windows that let it all in.


Rooms and Rates: Andaz View rooms are from $425 per night; the penthouse suite starts at $1,660 per night.


More Info: tel. 877/875-5036; www.westhollywood.andaz.hyatt.com



Saba



What: Queen's Gardens Resort


Where: Saba


The Details: Poised 1,200 feet above sea level, Queen's Gardens Resort is the only four-star resort on the isolated island of Saba in the Caribbean. There's only one way around the island, called "The Road." The intimate resort feels like you're staying in the owner's guesthouse. Rooms and Rates: Stay in one of the resort's 10 suites, from $364 per night for the Majesty Romance package. The deal -- valid Feb. 1-Oct. 1, 2011 -- includes the use of an in-room Jacuzzi, an in-room breakfast, a picnic lunch for a rain forest hike, and airport transfers.

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