Beyonce reaches out to grieving family; Kate Upton's new Vogue cover; more

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Tuesday’s entertainment news includes Emma
Stone and Jimmy Fallon’s lip sync battle, Beyoncé reaching out to a grieving
family and hints at Kate Upton’s new Vogue cover.

Ellen Page is on the cover of June issue of Flare magazine. In the issue, she
talks about coming out as a gay woman. Page says she excited to no longer
have to wear dresses. She’s also sporting a six-pack of abs.

Beyoncé has reached out to the family of Chelsea Lee James,
a teen who died of cancer a few days ago. Beyoncé first met James at a 2009
concert when Beyoncé invited James to join her on stage.

The UK version of Vogue has teased its new cover featuring model
Kate Upton on Instagram. All we know is that it appears to be Upton’s body in a
Dolce Gabbana summer outfit.

In case you haven’t seen it, Emma Stone and Jimmy Fallon
engaged in an epic lip-sync battle Monday night. The winner is yet to be
determined.

Actor David Arquette and wife Christina McLarty welcomed a
son
, Charlie West, to the world on Monday. It is Arquette’s second child. He
has a daughter with ex-wife Courteney Cox.

New York City’s anti-carriage horse campaign has received
some muscle power. “The Biggest Loser” coach Jillian Michaels has joined the
PETA campaign against horse-drawn carriages in the Big Apple.

Financial Fraudster Brian Callahan Guilty in $96m Long Island Ponzi Scheme

An investment manager from New York who used almost $100m of client money earmarked for mutual funds to pay for his lavish life-style and fund ambitious property deals, has pleaded guilty to fraud.

Brian Callahan admitted that he had raised $96m (£57m, €69.3m) from around 40 investors, which was placed in six offshore entities to carry out, what has been described by a US attorney as, “one of the largest investment frauds in Long Island History”.

Callahan pleaded guilty to securities and wire fraud, and could face up to 40 years in prison. He has also agreed to forfeit $67.4m of his takings through the scheme as well as reimburse those who lost money.

US Attorney, Loretta Lynch, said in a statement: “Through lies and deceit, he misled investors and stole investor funds, including investments from a local fire department, to support a lavish lifestyle and operate a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.”

Callahan, 44, used his clients’ investments to keep the sprawling Panoramic View Resort and Montauk Residence afloat.

His brother-in-law, Adam Manson, who co-owns the Panoramic View Resort, which officials are moving to forfeit, was also indicted. Manson however pleaded not guilty and is expected back in court in May.

Callahan and Manson acquired the Panoramic view in 2007 in the hope that they would be able to sell off the units to individual buyers.

However, selling the units proved to be a difficult task, which led them to take money from Callahan’s investment funds to help finance the resort, in classic Ponzi scheme fashion.

Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme Trustee Makes Fresh $349m Claim for Victims

Bernie Madoff’s Five Ponzi Scheme Aides Found Guilty of Fraud

Oklahoma execution: Clayton Lockett writhes on gurney in botched procedure


Link to video: Botched execution leaves Oklahoma inmate ‘tortured to death’

The state of Oklahoma botched one execution and was forced to call off another on Tuesday when a disputed cocktail of drugs failed to kill a condemned prisoner who was left writhing on the gurney.

After the failure of a 20-minute attempt to execute him, Clayton Lockett was left to die of a heart attack in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma state penitentiary in McAlester. A lawyer said Lockett had effectively been “tortured to death”.

For three minutes after the first drugs were delivered Lockett struggled violently, groaned and writhed, lifting his shoulders and head from the gurney.

Some 16 minutes after the execution began, and without Lockett being declared dead, the blinds separating the chamber from the viewing room were closed. The process was called off shortly afterwards. Lockett died 43 minutes after the first executions drugs were adminsitered.

The execution of Charles Warner, scheduled for 8pm local time, was then postponed. Both were due to have been carried out with a drug cocktail using dosages never before tried in American executions.

Lockett, 38, was convicted of the killing of 19-year-old, Stephanie Neiman, in 1999. She was shot and buried alive. Lockett was also convicted of raping her friend in the violent home invasion that lead to Neiman’s death.

Warner, 46, was found guilty of raping and killing 11-month-old Adrianna Waller in 1997. He lived with the child’s mother.

Death penalty states have scrambled to find new execution methods after drugs companies opposed to capital punishment, mostly based in Europe, withdrew their supplies.

Oklahoma decided to lethally inject Lockett and Warner with midazolam ,which acts as a sedative and is also used as an anti-seizure drug, followed by vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Florida has used a similar method but it employed a dose of midazolam five times greater. Ohio used midazolam alongside a different drug, hydromorphone, in the January execution of Dennis McGuire, which took more than 20 minutes.

The grim outcome on Tuesday in Oklahoma appeared likely to fuel the debate over the death penalty in the US, in particular the use of these untested drugs combinations.

Madeline Cohen, an attorney for Warner, condemned the way Lockett was killed. “After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight’s lethal injection procedures, tonight Clayton Lockett was tortured to death,” she said.

Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment, said: “This could be a real turning point in the whole debate as people get disgusted by this sort of thing.

“This might lead to a halt in executions until states can prove they can do it without problems. Someone was killed tonight by incompetence,” he told the Associated Press.

Before the attempted executions in Oklahoma, corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said they would probably take longer than normal because the first drug was expected to work more slowly. “Don’t be surprised,” Massie said.

The Guardian watched as Lockett was asked if he had final words. He said “no.” He lay covered in a white sheet when the execution began at 6.23pm. At 6.30pm he was found to be still conscious.

Lockett was then pronounced unconscious at 6.33pm but his violent struggle began three minutes later. He tried to speak and was heard to say “man” at 6.39pm. An official in the execution room then lowered the blinds so viewers could no longer witness the process.

Robert Patton, the director of Oklahoma’s department of corrections, said later that when doctors felt that the drugs were not having the required effect on Lockett, they discovered that a vein had ruptured. “After conferring with the warden, and unknown how much drugs went into him, it was my decision at that time to stop the execution,” Patton told reporters.

Massie said that all three drugs in the cocktail used by the state were administered, but that a vein “blew” during the execution process and Lockett later suffered a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at 7.06pm, 43 minutes after the process began.

The execution of Charles Warner was postponed for 14 days.

The double executions were scheduled after an unprecedented legal and political dispute in Oklahoma. The inmates challenged the secrecy surrounding Oklahoma’s source of lethal injection drugs, winning at the state district court level, but two higher courts argued over which could grant a stay of execution.

When the state supreme court stayed their executions so that it could consider their constitutional claim, the Republican governor, Mary Fallin, declared in a controversial statement that it had no authority to grant the stay. A member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives said he would try to have the justices who wanted the stay impeached. Amid accusations of undue political pressure, the court then ruled against the prisoners and lifted the stay.

On Tuesday night Fallin said she had directed her officials to conduct an investigation. “I have asked the department of corrections to conduct a full review of Oklahoma’s execution procedures to determine what happened, and why, during this evening’s execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett,” she said in a statement. “I have issued an executive order delaying the execution of Charles Frederick Warner for 14 days to allow for that review to be completed.”

Susanna Gattoni and Seth Day, attorneys for Lockett and Warner, said Lockett’s execution demonstrated the harm caused by secrecy surrounding the drugs used in the attempted executions.

“This is exactly why we fought so hard to get this information known not just for our clients but for everyone,” said Gattoni. ” This shouldn’t be kept secret. This is unfortunately what happens.”

“There will be a next step,” Day said. “Whatever it is there will be a next step.”

Cohen, Warner’s attorney, said no executions should proceed in Oklahoma in light of Lockett’s execution. “My feeling about this is there can be no more executions in Oklahoma until there is a full investigation into what went wrong, an autopsy by an independent pathologist and full transparency about this process including the drugs,” Cohen said.

Helen Woodward Animal Center Partners with Embrace to Save Lives

Cleveland, April 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Helen Woodward Animal Center, one of America’s top non-profit animal welfare organizations, is teaming up with Embrace Pet Insurance, one of America’s top pet health insurance providers, to help save animals.

Helen Woodward Animal Center is known around the world as “The Animal Center of the Future” with good reason; the Center believes animals help people and people help animals through trust, unconditional love, and respect. This thoughtful idea is clearly promoted in everything the Center does.

A shared passion for helping pets is what brings Helen Woodward Animal Center and Embrace Pet Insurance together in this brilliant partnership.

Mike Arms, President and CEO of Helen Woodward Animal Center, says, “After spending more than 40 years of my life saving orphan pets, I’ve realized that pet owners really need pet insurance to keep their pets healthy and safe. Having pet insurance will help keep pet owners from having exorbitant medical expenses, and from having to relinquish pets because of cost.

“After doing due diligence and researching various pet insurance companies, I felt that Embrace is the pet insurance that I would want for my own pets, and I will be suggesting that to my friends, and all Helen Woodward Animal Center adopters.”

Arms is a pioneer in the animal welfare industry, known for his heartfelt speeches and revolutionary pet events and programs, such as the “Remember Me Thursday” global awareness campaign.

Laura Bennett, Chief Executive Officer Co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance, says, “When I saw Mike Arms speak several years ago, I was bowled over by his approach to animal sheltering and his huge impact on the pet community across the US. My admiration for Mike and the Helen Woodward Animal Center has grown ever since. I know that together, Embrace Pet Insurance and Helen Woodward can save more pet lives, something we both care about deeply.”

More information about pet insurance can be found at EmbracePetInsurance.com

About Embrace Pet Insurance
Embrace Pet Insurance is a specialist insurance company focused on changing the pet insurance business. Embrace provides flexible cat and dog health insurance products, removing the need to choose between necessary, but costly, medical care versus the life of a much-loved pet. Embrace is a privately owned, Ohio-based company and is one of the most highly rated pet insurance companies in the industry.

About Helen Woodward Animal Center
Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 57,000 people and thousands of animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the international Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive, the International Remember Me Thursday campaign and The Business of Saving Lives Workshops, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world. For more information go to: www.animalcenter.org.

About the North American Pet Health Insurance Association
Embrace is a member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), featuring Laura Bennett of Embrace as the Past President. Founded in 2007, NAPHIA is committed to educating and promoting the values and benefits of quality pet health insurance to North American pet owners, the general public, and the veterinary community. As an association, it is committed to high standards and transparency in all of our actions and products. To learn more, visit www.naphia.org.

Chelsea Handler in talks with Netflix; 'Justice League' movie set for 2018; more

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The week’s early entertainment news
includes plans for a “Justice League” movie, Chelsea Handler’s
potential move to Netflix and Tori Spelling’s trip to the hospital.

Warner Bros. seems to be okay with lagging far behind Marvel
when it comes to superhero movies. The studio announced that a “Justice League”
movie wouldn’t arrive until 2018, two years after the upcoming Batman/Superman
film hits theaters in 2016. Zack Snyder will direct both movies.

The New York Post is reporting that Chelsea Handler is in
talks for her own original series on Netflix. Handler has been critical of
her current network, E!, as of late.

Actress/reality star Tori Spelling was hospitalized last
week and returned home over the weekend. It is speculated that Spelling is
suffering extreme stress after her husband Dean McDermott was caught cheating.

“The Simpsons,” arguably the greatest television show of
all-time, hit its lowest rating ever for a regular Sunday episode over the weekend.
The show has already been renewed for a 26th season.

Paul Simon and his wife Edie Brickell were arrested over the
weekend at their home in Connecticut for disorderly conduct. The two have been
married for over 20 years.

Fans held a vigil Sunday for legendary music host Casey
Kasem outside of the hospital where he has been receiving care for advanced Parkinson’s
disease. Sunday marked Kasem’s 82nd birthday.

Cochlear implant enhances patient experience through gene therapy

According to the World Health Organization, more than 360 million people worldwide live with disabling hearing loss, and for many, devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants allow them to maintain a normal life style. But what if a cochlear device could offer a biological solution that would enhance a patient’s experience?

For the first time, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have used cochlear implants to regenerate auditory nerves through gene therapy, a process where therapeutic DNA is inserted into cells to treat a disease.

Cochlear implants work by converting sounds into electrical signals that are sent directly to the auditory nerve, bypassing the outer and middle ear. The process allows for significantly improved hearing, including the ability to maintain a phone conversation, but the sounds they provide for patients are monotone and robotic.

“Ultimately, we hope that after further research, people who depend on cochlear implant devices will be able to enjoy a broader dynamic and tonal range of sound, which is particularly important for our sense of the auditory world around us and for music appreciation,” says Professor Gary Housley, Director of the Translational Neuroscience Facility at UNSW Medicine.

In 1993 multiple labs discovered that mammal’s ears would have the ability to regenerate cells if triggered according to the National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation, but until now there hadn’t been a safe or efficient way to deliver the necessary proteins to the cochlear area.

“We think it’s possible that in the future this gene delivery would only add a few minutes to the implant procedure,” says the paper’s first author, Jeremy Pinyon, whose PhD is based on this work. “The surgeon who installs the device would inject the DNA solution into the cochlea and then fire electrical impulses to trigger the DNA transfer once the implant is inserted.”

Gene therapy research has provided hope for a number of genetic disorders and diseases, including cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis.

“Our work has implications far beyond hearing disorders,” says co-author Associate Professor Matthias Klugmann, from the UNSW Translational Neuroscience Facility research team. “Gene therapy has been suggested as a treatment concept even for devastating neurological conditions and our technology provides a novel platform for safe and efficient gene transfer into tissues as delicate as the brain.”

The research was recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Professor Housley discusses the new gene delivery technique in the UNSW video below.

Source: UNSW

Tornadoes sweep across southern US, leaving at least 17 dead

At least 17 people were killed when a powerful storm system wreaked havoc through the southern and central US on Sunday night.

The tornado touched down Sunday about 10 miles west of Little Rock, Arkansas, at around 7pm, then carved an 80-mile path of destruction as it passed through or near several suburbs north of the state capital, including Vilonia.

Local television station THV 11 said the local sheriff in Faulkner county had confirmed that six people died in Vilonia.

“It’s just devastating,” Sheriff Andy Shock told THV 11. Shock said the town was facing a “mass casualty situation” and that nearby interstate 40 had been closed in both directions after cars and trucks were overturned.

Emergency workers and volunteers went door-to-door to look for victims. “It turned pitch black,” said Mark Ausbrooks, who was at his parents’ home when the storm arrived. “I ran and got pillows to put over our heads and … all hell broke loose.”

“My parents’ home, it’s gone completely,” he said.

The large tornado stayed on the ground as it moved north-eastward. Television footage showed badly damaged buildings and vehicles.

The nearby town of Mayflower was also badly hit. About 45 homes were destroyed and a lumberyard was damaged, said Will Elder, an alderman in the town of 2,300 people. He said at least one person was injured.

The tornado passed through the east side of town, tearing up trees and bringing down powerlines, making it difficult for the emergency services to find stricken areas in the the darkness.

“It’s extremely hazardous here right now,” said Elder. “The power lines are down, roads are blocked and they will have to proceed with caution.”

In the western part of the state, Pulaski county sheriff’s lieutenant Carl Minden said three people were killed when a tornado hit the area. Minden said several others were injured at the scene.

“I’m standing on the foundation of the house now. It’s totally gone,” Minden told the Associated Press.

A photograph showing devastation in Mayflower, Arkansas, on Sunday.

The storm system passed through Arkansas at about 7.30pm as around a dozen twisters were reported across the region.

At least one person was killed in a tornado in the small Oklahoma town of Quapaw.

A police dispatcher in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, said a search and rescue effort was under way in Quapaw, but could not confirm reports of fatalities.

Locations hit by the tornadoes.

Tornadoes were also reported in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri on Sunday afternoon and evening, causing some damage but no known injuries, according to local officials and the weather service.

What the GOP Talks About When It Talks About Obamacare Now

During a live debate with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday, Nevada’s Republican Sen. Dean Heller was asked which part of Obamacare he would repeal now that the law has enrolled 8 million people. “No one talks about tort reform,” he said on News 3’s What’s Your Point?  There’s a reason for that. A pet health care reform idea among the GOP is changes to medical malpractice lawsuits — the only problem is tort reform doesn’t do anything to lower health care spending. But it shows that as the law continues to do better, Republicans have to reshape their talking points beyond ending it. Here’s how the GOP is talking about Obamacare (and the movement to repeal and replace it) now. Notice how they’ve moved from broadly talking about ending it to smaller complaints about how well it’s working: 

Demand tort reform. Heller was asked which part of Obamacare he would be open to repealing. “Tort reform’s a critically important component,” Heller said. “To have left that out, that particular component, that was nothing but a boost tot he trial lawyers and the support that they’ve received on the other side.” Those are the kinds of changes he wants to see, he said. It’s worth noting that Florida’s Supreme Court recently overturned the state’s tort reform because it hurt patients, and insurance companies pocketed the savings meant for doctors. 

RELATED: Congressman Vance McAllister Will Probably Have to Fund His Own Reelection Campaign

Say the numbers aren’t real. Heller also added that the 8 million number isn’t real. “Keep in mind, we have 30 million people who are uninsured. We have 30 million people today that are uninsured. And yet he keeps talking about this 8 million number being a success story,” Heller said. “I don’t buy it. I think it’s all smoke and mirrors.” Actually, there were 49.9 million uninsured Americans in 2010 according to the Census Bureau

Question who will pay the second and third month premiums. On Thursday Rep. Kevin McCarthy brought up a new challenge to the numbers — have people paid their second and third month premiums? 

Don’t talk about it at all. Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate, refuses to take a stance on Arkansas’ private insurance option, though he voted to repeal Obamacare, writes the Arkansas Times

Admit that there’s no alternative. All talk of Obamacare repeal is now immediately followed by talk of replacement, but on Thursday Republican Rep. Dennis Ross admitted that the party isn’t going to offer up their replacement before the election. “For the next six months, we’re going to go into an election, knowing that we’re not going to do anything to address health care,” Ross said, according to The Washington Post

RELATED: Connecticut Lawmakers Are Banning the Knockout Game, Aren’t Clear on If It Happens

There are still just over six months until the election starts — and 2015 premiums have yet to be released — but the Obamacare tide does not seem to be flowing in the right’s favor. We’ve gone from repeal to repeal and replace. As people pay their second and third month premiums and the GOP alternative fails to appear, it’s hard to imagine Obamacare being the same political burden it was three months ago. At the very least, no one will be talking about tort reform. 

This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/04/what-the-gop-talks-about-when-it-talks-about-obamacare-now/360925/

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Katy Perry's 'Birthday' video; Kaley Cuoco cuts her hair; Olivia Wilde welcomes baby; more

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Thursday’s entertainment news includes
James Franco’s Instagram troubles, Katy Perry’s new video and Olivia Wilde and
Jason Sudeikis’ baby boy.

Kevin Clash, the man behind the voice of Elmo, has been
cleared of sex abuse charges. Three men, who said Clash molested them over 10
years ago, accused clash of sexual abuse. An appeals court has thrown out the
case.

James Franco calls recent photos of himself in bed that he
posted on Instagram ‘intimate,” rather than “inappropriate.” The photos causeed
a stir, almost as much as his recent Instagram flirting with a Scottish
teenager did.

Katy Perry has released a new video for her single “Birthday.”
In the video, Perry plays a variety of horrible birthday party entertainers.

The last of the new “Hobbit” films has a new title. The
film, which was originally going to be called “The Hobbit: There and Back
Again” will now be called “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

As you may have heard, actors/couple Olivia Wilde and
Jason Sudeikis have welcomed a baby boy into their lives. The couple tweeted a
photo of the newborn Wednesday night.

Kaley Cuoco has posted photos of her new, much shorter hairdo
on Instagram.

John McCririck was unappealing and irritating to viewers, tribunal told

The outspoken betting pundit, John McCririck, was dropped from Channel 4‘s racing schedule because he offended and irritated viewers with his larger-than-life style and not because of his age, a tribunal has heard.

McCririck, 73 is suing the channel and production company IMG over his dismissal, which he claims was solely down to ageism. But Jamie Aitchison, the commissioning editor for sport at Channel 4, told an employment tribunal on Wednesday that the decision to axe the veteran pundit, known for his deerstalker hat, mutton-chop sideburns and gold jewellery, was because his “pantomime style” did not fit with a change of tone being sought for the show.

“I and others at Channel 4 felt that, although its coverage catered well for a contingent of dedicated horse racing fans, it was niche and non-inclusive at times,” Atchinson said. “Channel 4 set out to create a tone that was a little more serious, measured and inclusive. None of the decisions taken in respect of who to invite and who not to invite to be in the on-screen team for Channel 4 Racing from 2013 were taken on the grounds of their age, or indeed for any reason other than merit, including the decision not to invite John McCririck to be part of the team.”

In March 2012 the broadcaster landed the rights to air all UK horseracing events for the following year, including crown jewel events such as Royal Ascot and the Grand National. IMG took over the production of the channel’s racing coverage on 1 January and declined to give McCririck a contract. Atchison said this was because he was seen as “unappealing and irritating to many current and potential viewers”.

He said in his witness statement that concerns over McCririck’s style were supported by audience surveys, press coverage and viewer complaints. The Channel 4 executive claimed the pundit’s “exaggerated tone and style, and propensity to offend was out of step with the vision for the programme, and also unappealing and irritating to many current and potential viewers”.

Earlier this week, McCririck told the tribunal that when the channel said it wanted to “freshen up” its coverage, it was “a euphemism for kicking out older people”. He defended his “pantomime act”, which saw him also appear on reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap, insisting it was encouraged by Channel 4 and that he would have changed if asked to do so. He said he could lose his home if he does not win the case. The hearing continues.