Springsteen’s E Street Band loses key figure with death of Clarence Clemons

NEW YORK, N.Y. – E Street will never be quite the same.

The death of saxophone player Clarence Clemons ripped a hole in Bruce Springsteen’s music and onstage life, taking away a figure who had served him loyally for decades and never failed to add joy to the E Street Band’s epic performances.

Clemons died Saturday at age 69, about a week after he suffered a stroke at his home in Singer Island, Fla.

It’s not the first loss for the rock world’s best-known and most accomplished backup band. Keyboard player Danny Federici died in 2008 of melanoma. Steve Van Zandt, Springsteen’s youthful friend and closest partner, left for several years in the 1980s and was replaced on guitar by Nils Lofgren. When Van Zandt returned, Lofgren stayed.

Yet Clemons’ loss cuts deeply into the soul of the band. His importance was acknowledged whenever Springsteen performed “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” when he sang, “We made that change uptown and the Big Man joined the band,” inevitably followed by a wail of Clemons’ sax and a roar from the crowd. The two men met in 1971 on the New Jersey bar band circuit, and when Springsteen released his debut album two years later, Clemons left a more successful outfit for a new Boss.

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Inevitably Clemons’ introduction was the climax every night when Springsteen presented the individual band members to the audience, accompanied by a variety of regal nicknames like “Master of the Universe” and “King of the World.”

“Do I have to say his name?” Springsteen would shout to the crowd.

“No!” came the roar back. He did anyway.

Last fall’s release of “The Promise,” which included a DVD of a 1978 Springsteen concert performance, underscored the central role of Clemons in the act. The two men were a marked physical contrast: a bedgraggled, slightly scrawny white guitar player and a 6-foot-5-inch, 270-plus-pound black man with a sax – known simply as the Big Man -who would be intimidating if he didn’t so often carry a smile.

They would stalk each other on the stage, staring with ferocious eyes, and play their instruments as they stood back to back, leaning on the other for support. They’d even kiss, their relationship sending a message of brotherhood, family and – given racial undertones – tolerance and respect for all.

The relationship was captured memorably with a giant photo of the two men on the cover of Springsteen’s “Born to Run” album.

Clemons was musically vital, too, particularly given the longer, structurally ambitious songs Springsteen was writing in the 1970s, a potent mixture of rock, soul, jazz and folk. Clemons’ sax kicked “Born to Run” into overdrive, and his solo was a key moment in the majestic “Jungleland.” He had a deep, booming voice not often displayed, although he added hearty “ho-ho-ho’s” during seasonal renditions of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

Truth be told, Clemons’ role in the E Street Band diminished as the years went on. Springsteen’s simpler song structures left less space for the sax, and the instrument competed to be heard in a dense wall of sound anchored by three electric guitar players. Clemons would add maracas or tambourines to some of Springsteen’s compositions.

Clemons’ physical ailments also made him a less active presence onstage. He underwent spinal surgery last year after many years of back pain and spent time in a wheelchair after double knee replacement surgery.

Springsteen generously made accommodations for the ailments, installing an elevator on the stage set for when Clemons couldn’t negotiate the stairs, according to Caryn Rose and Glenn Radecki of the Springsteen website Backstreets. A throne-like golden chair was placed onstage for when Clemons needed his rest.

Clemons’ death is unlikely to bring an end to the E Street Band, which Springsteen alluded to in a statement posted on his website Saturday announcing the death.

“We are honoured and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years,” he said. “He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.”

But the loss leaves Springsteen with a real challenge moving forward. While Federici’s contributions were valued and respected, he was a back bencher, tied to the shadows of the stage and his replacement not a major issue for the casual fan.

Clemons was different, and his loss will inevitably change the onstage dynamic. The saxophone is such a major presence in Springsteen’s music that it’s difficult to imagine many of his songs being performed without it. They will be big shoes for anyone to fill.

“As long as we tell the stories, as long as we play the songs, the Big Man will always be with us,” Rose and Radecki wrote on Backstreets following Clemons’ death.

Florida Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez resigns with team on long losing streak

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Through it all, Edwin Rodriguez kept his sense of humour. The Florida Marlins’ manager talked about ghost stories and the team’s hotel. He joked about moving the calendar ahead to July in hopes of escaping an awful June.

As it turns out, that long losing streak hurt more than he showed.

Rodriguez, the first Puerto Rican-born manager in major league history, unexpectedly resigned Sunday after less than one year on the job.

Bench coach Brandon Hyde managed the last-place Marlins as they dropped their 10th straight game, 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays. But the club will begin a search for an interim manager and potential candidates include 80-year-old Jack McKeon, the special assistant to the owner who led Florida to a World Series title in 2003.

Rodriguez said it was difficult to leave, given the “positive way the organization is moving, a new ballpark next season and the young core of players.”

“I can’t say enough about the effort that this staff and these players have put into this season,” he said in a statement released by the team. “I could tell that they continued to give 100 per cent effort each and every day on the field. I wish this organization and players nothing but success in their futures.”

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Rodriguez became interim manager June 23 of last year after Fredi Gonzalez was fired. He was given the job permanently five days later.

“It’s been extremely frustrating for everyone,” Florida president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “I think everyone here knows what is going on – the way we’ve played, the way we’ve performed. It’s tough on everyone, especially him.

“He communicated with me early this morning that this was something he was thinking about, and when I got to the ballpark we accepted his resignation.”

Florida went 46-46 under Rodriguez, who opened the 2010 season as the Marlins’ Triple-A manager in New Orleans.

“This was an extremely frustrated, proud man,” Beinfest said. “This kind of caught us a little off guard. I know there’s been a lot of speculation, everything, but this is not something I thought was going to happen today.”

The Marlins fell to 1-18 in June with Sunday’s loss to the Rays. Ace pitcher Josh Johnson is injured and star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, struggling through a miserable slump all season, also had been sidelined during a stunning skid that left the team 32-40 and last in the NL East.

Beinfest said the club would act quickly on an interim manager.

“So we can move ahead with the business of playing baseball and trying to win games,” he said. “When you have a change like this, with a popular person, I think it’s tough on a lot of people. You just need to go play baseball, and that’s first and foremost.”

Beinfest informed the players of Rodriguez’s decision during a team meeting before Sunday’s game.

Rodriguez was at the ballpark and talked with individual players in the manager’s office. He didn’t speak with reporters.

“It was surprising, I guess, but I think it’s more shocking,” infielder Wes Helms said. “Right now, nothing is going right for us. Right now, it’s all negative with the Marlins, that’s the way it is. It’s tough to swallow, it really is. I do know he did everything he could. We didn’t do our job as a team.

“I’m sure he had a lot of sleepless nights,” Helms added. “I can’t speak for him. … I’m sure it was just killing him or he wouldn’t have done it. There’s only so much you can take mentally and physically in anything in life. I’m just sure he had enough and couldn’t do it anymore.”

First baseman Gaby Sanchez said the players have to respect the decision.

“It’s definitely difficult,” Sanchez said. “We have to continue to play hard, go out there and keep fighting. The season is not over. It’s just one of those things where we have to move forward.”

The Marlins became the second big league team to change managers this season. Oakland fired Bob Geren on June 9 and replaced him with Bob Melvin for the rest of the season.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon believes Rodriguez was thinking about what was best for his team.

“He’s one of the nicest, most decent men I’ve met in this game, and it’s unfortunate that he has to feel the weight of this whole moment because it’s not his fault,” Maddon said. “He’s worked so hard to get to this point. They were doing so well a couple weeks ago. That’s the strange part about it. We just played them down there and they beat us two out of three. They were playing good baseball.”

Beinfest did not rule out additional changes.

“When you go the way we’ve been going, I think everything is on the table,” Beinfest said. “I’m probably on the table as well, and rightfully so. It’s been a very difficult period and I think when you go through these things you can’t rule anything out.”

Atlantic Power to acquire Capital Power Income L.P. in $1.1B deal

U.S. power producer Atlantic Power Corp. plans to buy Capital Power Income L.P. for about $1.1 billion in a deal that will allow an Edmonton-based part owner to pursue projects that are a better fit with its strategy.

“What it does from our standpoint, is it frees up the organization to focus and pursue assets that fit with our geographic, technical and financial targets,” said Brian Vaasjo, CEO of Capital Power Corp., which holds a 29 per cent stake in CPILP.

“The (CPILP) assets are relatively small and one of our objectives is to invest in larger assets,” Vaasjo said Monday.

The average plant in Capital Power’s fleet produces about 250 megawatts of electricity, whereas those in the partnership produce about 70 megawatts.

Capital Power undertook a strategic review in October 2010, more than a year after it was spun off from the City of Edmonton’s utility, Epcor Utilities Inc.

It’s interest in the partnership was an attractive source of capital until the federal government imposed a new tax on income trusts earlier this year. Once it went public in 2009, Capital could get the funds it needed from investors, instead of having to rely on the partnership.

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Capital Power could have just bought all of the partnerships assets “but it came to the conclusion that the assets don’t really fit where we are going,” said Vaasjo.

Independent directors of CPILP determined the deal with Boston-based Atlantic was the best option and a special committee has unanimously recommended unitholders accept it.

The deal will see Atlantic (TSX:ATP) pay $19.40 per unit either in cash or Atlantic Power shares. That represents a 4.1 per cent premium to the CPILP closing price of $18.63 on Friday and a 6.8 per cent premium to the partnership’s volume-weighted average trading price for the 30 days leading up to the start of the strategic review process on Oct. 5, 2010.

CPILP (TSX:CPA.UN) unitholders can choose to receive $19.40 in cash or 1.3 shares of ATP for each CPILP unit, subject to allocation limits.

Capital Power will receive about $320.3 million for its 29 per cent ownership interest in CPILP, plus an additional $10 million for the termination of its management agreement with CPILP.

In another outcome of the strategic review, CPILP will sell two North Carolina power facilities to an affiliate of Capital Power in a transaction worth $121 million. That will reduce the number of CPILP units outstanding by some 6.2 million units.

Capital Power has also entered into an agreement to buy the 150-megawatt Halkirk Wind Project from Greengate Power Corp.

The capital cost of the project is $357 million, which includes $33 million that will be paid to Greengate for their share in the project.

Meanwhile, Atlantic Power said its market capitalization should nearly double once the CPILP deal closes, making it the second-largest publicly listed power infrastructure company in Canada.

“Atlantic’s acquisition of CPILP is truly a win-win transaction for all stakeholders involved,” Atlantic CEO Barry Welch told a conference call with analysts.

Upon closing, Atlantic said it intends to increase dividends by five per cent to $1.15 from $1.094 on an annual basis.

Atlantic Power’s headquarters will remain in Boston, with additional offices in Chicago, Toronto and Richmond, B.C.

The deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, subject to investor and regulatory approvals.

In afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, CPILP gained 3.5 per cent to $19.28. Capital Power Corp. lost a penny to $26.78.

In Toronto, Atlantic shares dipped five cents to $14.91 and in New York, they lost 19 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to US$15.22.

Note to readers: CORRECTS Halkirk wind project sale details

Nadal and Williams win opening-round Wimbledon matches in straight sets

WIMBLEDON, England – Rafael Nadal opened his Wimbledon title defence with a convincing victory Monday, beating Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 on a “fantastic” day while his parents watched from the Royal Box.

In keeping with tradition, the defending men’s champion played the first match on Centre Court at the All England Club – and the top-ranked Spaniard put on a worthy performance to begin the 125th edition of the championships.

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Five-time women’s champion Venus Williams, back on her favourite grass surface, also swept into the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan. The American also made a fashion statement, wearing a one-piece playsuit with cutout sleeves that exposed part of her back.

On a day when rain washed out 31 matches on the outside courts, fourth-seeded Andy Murray also moved into the second round, winning in four sets against Daniel Gimeno-Traver in a match played entirely under the retractable roof over Centre Court.

Nadal, coming off his sixth French Open title and 10th overall Grand Slam championship, double-faulted to go down a break 4-2 in the first set against the 91st-ranked Russell. But Nadal buckled down, ran off six straight games to take the set and go up a break in the second. He was in command the rest of the way against the 33-year-old American.

“I started so-so in the first set, but after that I start to hit very well the forehand and I think I finished playing a very good level,” Nadal said.

The two players shared a laugh after Russell successfully challenged what had been ruled an ace by Nadal on match point. Nadal won the next point, though, to finish the match in just under two hours.

It was the first time Nadal has walked onto Centre Court as defending champion. After winning the title for the first time in 2008, he missed the tournament the following year with a knee injury.

“Fantastic,” he said. “Seriously, I never played in a court like this. (It) was a big emotion to be the first player to play in this fabulous court. It was a very, very exciting feeling.”

Watching from the Royal Box were Nadal’s parents, Sebastian and Ana Maria.

“Too many beautiful things to see my mom and my dad in the Royal Box,’” Nadal said. “I think for them (it) was a great experience. So, everything in general was very, very nice today.”

While Nadal and Williams played in mostly sunny conditions, rain fell in late afternoon and forced organizers to call off all play for the day except on Centre Court, where matches continued under the sliding roof.

Resuming play in covered conditions at 1-1 in the third set after a delay of about 50 minutes, sixth-seeded Francesca Schiavone completed a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over 45th-ranked Jelena Dokic of Australia.

Up next on Centre Court was Murray, who recovered from a one-set deficit to beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0.

Bidding to become the first Briton to win the men’s title in 75 years, Murray got off to a slow start against the 59th-ranked Spaniard before taking complete command. From 3-3 in the third set, Murray won the final 15 games of the match.

Murray conceded only nine points in the third set and six in the fourth. The Spaniard took an injury timeout at 5-0 down in the third and received treatment on his right knee.

The roof was added to Centre Court before the 2009 tournament and was used once that year because of rain. It was used once in 2010 because of darkness – artificial lights go on when the roof is closed – and occasionally to provide shade from the sun, but not because of rain.

Earlier, Canadian Milos Raonic made his Grand Slam grass-court singles debut with a 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over Frenchman Marc Gicquel.

Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., fired 25 aces in a 96-minute effort that sent him into the second round in his first senior appearance at the All England club.

“I think I played well,” Raonic said. “It’s tough, especially being at a completely new tournament and also being at this stage and people talking it up – how I should be doing well.”

Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., Rebecca Marino of Vancouver and Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., all had their matches postponed.

The first seeded man to lose was No. 30 Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil – 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2 to 35-year-old German Rainer Schuettler, the oldest player in the men’s draw.

Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who lost to Nadal in last year’s final, moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Filippo Volandri of Italy. He served 12 aces.

Tenth-seeded American Mardy Fish beat Spain’s Marcel Granollers 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4, while No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Potito Starace of Italy 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Other men’s winners included two Frenchmen – No. 9 Gael Monfils, who beat Matthias Bachinger 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-3, and No. 17 Richard Gasquet, who defeated Santiago Giraldo 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Williams, who played at Eastbourne last week after an injury layoff of nearly five months, looked right at home on the Wimbledon grass where she has been so dominant.

She kept her opponent waiting for several minutes on Court 2, with Amanmuradova sitting patiently on her courtside chair for the 31-year-old American to arrive.

Once play started, Williams took Amanmuradova apart in 59 minutes with her hard-hitting all-court game. She served seven aces, broke four times and had 23 winners to only five unforced errors – none in the second set.

“It’s always great to be back,” Williams said. “To play a few matches at Eastbourne helped me feel pretty comfortable here. All in all, I’m pretty pleased. I only see pluses for today. I missed being out here playing.”

Williams, always the fashionista, sported an eye-catching outfit that featured a deep “V” neckline and a gold belt wrapped around the waist.

“It’s a jumper,” Williams said. “Jumpers are very ‘now,’ as is lace. The shoulders have a lot of draping. It’s a kind of trendy dress. It’s fun. The back is a like a cutout or peekaboo. I’m always trying to do something different and fun.”

Williams’ second-round opponent will be Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, who became the second oldest women to win a match at Wimbledon, beating Katie O’Brien 6-0, 7-5 on Monday.

The 40-year-old Date-Krumm, the third oldest women to compete at Wimbledon in the Open era and the oldest in this year’s draw, came out of retirement in 2008 but lost in the first round the last two years at the All England Club.

In another featured women’s match, 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva downed 115th-ranked American Alison Riske 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. The second-seeded Russian looked in trouble after the second set against the 20-year-old Riske, whose best career results have been on grass. But Zvonareva raised her game and closed the match with an ace.

British Library, Google in deal to digitize books dating back to 18th century

LONDON – A treatise on a stuffed hippopotamus, an 18th-century English primer for Danish sailors and a description of the first engine-driven submarine are among 250,000 books to be made available online in a deal between Google and the British Library.

The agreement, announced Monday, will let Internet users read, search, download and copy thousands of texts published between 1700 and 1870.

It is a small step toward the library’s goal of making the bulk of its 14 million books and 1 million periodicals available in digital form by 2020.

“So far we have only been able to digitize quite a small fraction of the global collection,” said the library’s chief executive, Lynne Brindley. “There is a long way to go.”

The deal marks another step in Google’s effort to make digital copies of the world’s estimated 130 million books. The company, based in Mountain View, California, touts the ambitious project as a way to enable anyone with an Internet connection to tap in a vast reservoir of knowledge. Google, though, stands to make more money if it can build the world’s biggest digital library.

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By stockpiling millions of books that can’t be easily found elsewhere, Google gives people another reason to use its search engine, which already processes about two out of every three queries on the Web. Generating more search requests gives Google more opportunities to show ads that bring in revenue each they are clicked upon.

“Having richer content means people around the world are searching more for it, and that is good for our business,” said Peter Barron, Google’s European spokesman. He declined to say how much the project would cost, beyond describing it as “a substantial sum.” The books will be available on the websites of the British Library and Google Books.

Google has scanned more than 15 million books into its search index during the past seven years, but has only been able to show snippets of many of them because of copyright restrictions. The company tried to remove the U.S. copyright obstacles in a settlement of a class action lawsuit with authors and publishers only to have the agreement rejected by a federal judge three months ago.

The books that Google will be scanning from the British library are no longer protected by copyrights.

The deal with Google, which will see 40 million pages digitized over the next three years, will offer online researchers a selection of rarely seen works from an era of social, political, scientific and technological change that took in the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the American war of independence.

The books range from Georges Louis Leclerc’s “Natural History of the Hippopotamus, or River-Horse” – which includes a description of a stuffed animal owned by the Prince of Orange – to the 1858 work “A Scheme for Underwater Seafaring,” describing the first combustion engine-driven submarine.

The books are more than scholarly curiosities. British Library curator Kristian Jensen said an 18th-century guide to English for Danish mariners shows “how English began to emerge from being the language spoken by people over there on that island” to become the world’s dominant tongue.

Last year, the British Library announced plans to digitize up to 40 million pages of newspapers dating back three-and-a-half centuries, and it recently made thousands of 19th-century books digitized in a deal with Microsoft available as an app for iPhone and iPad devices.

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Jill Lawless can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/JillLawless

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this story.

NATO confirms striking area of site Libyan government says was family compound; 15 said killed

SURMAN, Libya – Libya’s government said a NATO airstrike west of Tripoli early Monday destroyed a large family compound belonging to a close associate of Moammar Gadhafi, killing at least 15 people, including three children. It was the second claim of civilian deaths at a home in as many days.

The alliance said the strike Monday hit a “command and control” centre.

Gadhafi’s regime has repeatedly accused NATO of targeting civilians in an attempt to rally support against international intervention into Libya’s civil war. The alliance insists it tries to avoid killing civilians.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said NATO bombs struck the compound belonging to Khoweildi al-Hamidi outside the city of Surman, some 40 miles (60 kilometres) west of Tripoli, around 4 a.m. local time Monday.

NATO initially said it had not hit any targets in the Surman area overnight. But the alliance later released a statement saying it conducted a “precision strike” near the town early Monday “on a legitimate military target – a command and control node which was directly involved in co-ordinating systematic attacks” on Libyan citizens.

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The commander of NATO’s Libya operation, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, said the “strike will greatly degrade the Gadhafi regime’s forces’ ability to carry out their barbaric assaults on the Libyan people.”

“Wherever Gadhafi tries to hide his command and control centres, we will find them,” he said.

NATO officials have repeatedly said the alliance does not target individuals. It could not confirm reports of casualties in Monday’s strike but said it regrets any loss of civilian life.

Al-Hamidi is a longtime regime insider who took part in the 1969 coup that brought Gadhafi to power. He reportedly commanded a battalion that crushed rebels in the nearby western city of Zawiya in March, and his daughter is married to one of Gadhafi’s sons, Saadi.

Ibrahim said al-Hamidi escaped the airstrikes unharmed but that three children, two of them al-Hamidi’s grandchildren, were among the 15 people killed. Officials said he was inside a still-intact building at the time of the strike.

“They (NATO) are targeting civilians. … The logic is intimidation,” Ibrahim said. “They want Libyans to give up the fight … they want to break our spirit.”

He warned that killing civilians risked creating a “hateful generation” of young Libyans who “will make the world a very dangerous place.”

Foreign journalists based in the Libyan capital were taken by government officials to the walled compound, where at least two buildings had been blasted to rubble. A pair of massive craters could be seen in the dusty ground, and rescue workers with sniffer dogs were scouring the rubble in search of people. The smell of smoke was still in the air.

Bombs also ripped holes through the top of a large tent sheltering cars, smashing the floor and mangling vehicles inside. The windows were shattered in a circular sitting room containing old framed photos said to be of al-Hamidi, and a deer kept in an enclosure with other animals had a broken antler and was bleeding from the mouth.

While there were no signs of heavy weapons at the site, armed guards in military-style uniforms patrolled the grounds as numerous security cameras watched over the sprawling complex. Hundreds of cases of bottled water, cooking oil, pasta and other supplies were stockpiled in one of the destroyed buildings.

Another building outside the compound, next to a communications tower, was also flattened, and walls were blown out of an adjacent house. A mosque across the street and a school next door were not damaged.

Journalists were later taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Sabratha, where medical workers showed them the bodies of about eight to 10 people, including at least two children, said to have been killed in the strike. Some of the bodies appeared charred, while others were in pieces. Portraits of Gadhafi hung on the hospital walls as armed men in military fatigues roamed the hallways.

NATO, which has a mandate to protect Libyan civilians, has rejected government allegations that it targets civilians. However, mistakes have occurred.

On Sunday, the alliance acknowledged that one of its airstrikes accidentally struck a residential neighbourhood in the capital, killing civilians. Like on Monday, journalists were taken to the scene of that bomb site and then shown bodies of those said to have been killed.

A coalition including France, Britain and the United States launched the first strikes against Gadhafi’s forces under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians on March 19. NATO, which is joined by a number of Arab allies, assumed control of the air campaign over Libya on March 31.

From their de facto capital of Benghazi, the rebels have taken over much of the eastern half of the country. They also control pockets in the west, mainly around the port city of Misrata and in the Nafusa mountains south of Tripoli.

In Luxembourg, European Union foreign ministers condemned the Libyan regime, saying in a statement that “time is not on Gadhafi’s side,” and that the Libyan leader “has lost all legitimacy to remain in power.”

The 27 foreign ministers also toughened the bloc’s sanctions against the regime by adding six port authorities controlled by Gadhafi’s forces to its asset-freeze list. The ports were not named.

In a similar move, the central bank of the United Arab Emirates ordered a freeze on the accounts of 19 Libyan individuals and institutions while an investigation of the funds is under way into possible links to Gadhafi’s regime, according to local media.

The reports gave no further details, and officials at the UAE’s central bank were not immediately available for comment.

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Associated Press writers Don Melvin in Luxembourg and Brian Murphy in Dubai contributed to this report.

Loonie flat, early U.S. dollar strength moderates amid European debt worries

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar shook off early losses to close flat against the greenback Monday.

The loonie was unchanged from Friday’s close at 102.02 cents US.

The American currency earlier made sharp gains against other currencies, particularly the euro, after a weekend meeting of eurozone finance ministers failed to agree on an immediate release of bailout funds to Greece.

Though the finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro agreed to hand over the next bailout instalment worth euro 12 billion (US$17 billion), they said they would only do that if the Greek Parliament backed further austerity measures.

But there was great uncertainty as to whether the Greek government can push through those new measures.

“(The ministers) have reiterated that they aren’t going to arrive at a solution to the Greek situation until around mid-July,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Benjamin Reitzes.

“This isn’t really new information, as last week EU Commissioner (Olli) Rehn said a deal wouldn’t be fully worked out until July 11.”

The euro moved as low as US$1.4191 earlier in the session but by late in the afternoon the continental currency was at US$1.4303.

Tumbling oil prices had put pressure on the Canadian dollar earlier in the session, and it fell as low as 101.53 cents US. The July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 25 cents at US$93.26 a barrel after the rising U.S. dollar earlier pushed oil as low as US$91.14.

A stronger greenback usually helps depress oil prices, which are denominated in dollars, as it makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Metal prices also retreated with the July copper contract on the Nymex down three cents at US$4.07 a pound.

Nervous investors pushed bullion higher for a fifth day with the August gold contract in New York up $2.90 at US$1,542 an ounce.

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Greek prime minister’s government survives crucial confidence vote

ATHENS, Greece – The Greek prime minister survived a crucial confidence vote early Wednesday, keeping alive a government dedicated to averting a debt default that could spark a financial maelstrom around the world.

Lawmakers voted 155 to 143 along party lines to back Prime Minister George Papandreou, who now faces a critical vote next week on a massive austerity package that Greece’s international creditors have said must pass by the end of June.

He is seeking €28 billion ($40.24 billion) in budget cuts and new taxes and €50 billion worth of privatization of public assets. Unless the new measures pass, Greece will not receive the next batch of bailout funds, worth €12 billion, and will face a disastrous default in July, when it runs out of money.

A default by Greece could drag down Greek and European banks and renew fears over the finances of other eurozone countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

Papandreou must still convince all the lawmakers from his Socialist party to support the austerity bill, which has provoked strikes, riots and a slump in his popularity. While all 155 Socialists voted in favour of the confidence motion, several have publicly criticized the austerity measures and at least one has said he will not back them.

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After the vote, riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades to push back a group of about 200 protesters who had broken off from a main rally of several thousand to throw bottles and other objects at the police lines guarding Parliament.

“We will do everything in our power to end the state of insecurity Greek families face and exit this crisis in a safe way. We have a plan, we have prospects,” Papandreou said during a debate before his victory. “Regardless of the panic caused by some, we are on an organized course, helped by the international community with massive loans – the largest every given in the history of our planet.”

Papandreou’s government came to the brink of collapse last week as protesters rioted on the streets of Athens, two party rebels resigned their parliamentary seats and talks with the opposition conservatives over forming a pro-austerity coalition government fell apart. In response, he reshuffled his Cabinet, replaced his increasingly unpopular finance minister with a party heavyweight – his main internal rival – and called for the confidence vote.

European officials have been pressing opposition leader Antonis Samaras to back the austerity bill, which will run to 2015, two years beyond the current government’s mandate. But Samaras has insisted the thinking behind it is wrong, saying it is keeping Greece in a recession. He has called for a renegotiation of the initial bailout deal.

Papandreou’s losing the confidence vote would have likely led to early elections and thrown into question whether Greece could pass the new austerity measures. Expectations he would win lifted world markets earlier in the day.

After the vote, Asian stock markets, including Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, were higher in early trading Wednesday. Invesotrs were finding relief in what was viewed as a “crucial step toward stabilizing the whole debt situation,” said Ben Potter, a strategist with IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia.

“In summary, it looks like another broad-based rebound today as investor concerns ease over the European debt situation,” Potter said in a note to clients.

As the Greek deputies voted, several thousand protesters gathered outside Parliament chanting “Thieves! thieves!”, shining green laser lights at the parliament building and into the eyes of riot police protecting it. Continuing strikes by electricity company workers objecting to privatization caused a second day of rolling blackouts.

“I understand the anger, the fear, and the question whether we will make it,” Papandreou said. “My answer is that we have been making it every day for the last 20 months, with difficulties and mistakes, with a price to pay and with sacrifices but we are succeeding.”

Greece is being kept financially afloat by a €110 billion ($157 billion) package of bailout loans granted by other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund last year, and has implemented strict austerity measures in return, cutting public sector salaries and pensions, increasing taxes and overhauling its welfare system.

But the country has struggled to meet it targets, missing many, and is now in negotiations for a second bailout, which Papandreou has said will be roughly the same size as the first.

Officials from the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank who have been overseeing Greece’s reforms were in Athens Wednesday to discuss the new austerity measures.

On Tuesday the new finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, promised that parliament will pass the unpopular austerity package by the end of June.

“We must follow this course to save the country,” Venizelos said.

“Our European partners … face us with distrust,” he said. “This is an atmosphere that we have to change.”

Papandreou’s popularity has been hammered by the latest austerity measures, with an opinion poll published Tuesday giving the Socialists a 20.1 per cent approval rating. Rival conservatives fared marginally better, at 21 per cent, in the GPO survey for private Mega television of 1,000 adults. No margin of error was given.

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Menelaos Hadjicostis, Demetris Nellas and AP photographers contributed to this report.

Toronto stock market advances after string of losses on Greek default worries

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market snapped a three-session losing streak Monday even as the possibility of a Greek default continued to cast a shadow over markets.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 67.75 points to 12,857.7 with only the energy and tech sectors negative while the TSX Venture Exchange was 15.66 points lower to 1,882.27.

The Canadian dollar was unchanged from Friday at 102.02 cents US.

The greenback gained against other currencies, particularly the euro, as risk-averse traders bought into the American currency after a weekend meeting of eurozone finance ministers failed to agree on an immediate release of bailout funds to Greece.

Though the finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro agreed to hand over the next bailout instalment worth euro 12 billion (US$17 billion), they said they would only do that if the Greek Parliament backed further austerity measures.

But there is great uncertainty as to whether the Greek government can push through those new measures.

The financials sector was up 0.83 per cent with Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) ahead 39 cents to $15.95.

Royal Bank (TSX:RY) shares were up 21 cents to $54.54 as it said it faces a $1.6-billion loss as it sheds its U.S. retail banking operations.

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Royal Bank is selling the U.S. assets to the PNC Financial Services Group Inc. for about US$3.62 billion. The loss includes an estimated $1.3 billion writeoff of the retail operations. Royal Bank will continue to operate both its U.S. wealth management and capital markets operations and its shares rose 21 cents to $54.54.

The telecom sector was up 1.63 per cent as the CRTC started six days of hearings into the ownership of media companies by national broadcasters. Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) gained 62 cents to $35.97 while BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) advanced 91 cents to $38.12.

The industrials sector rose 0.82 per cent with Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) ahead 75 cents to $74.16.

Bombardier Aerospace (TSX:BBD.B) has signed an unnamed “major network carrier” to take delivery of 10 of its new CSeries aircraft in a deal valued at $616 million. Its shares slipped six cents to $6.92.

The gold sector turned higher as nervous investors pushed bullion higher for a fifth day with the August gold contract in New York up $2.90 at US$1,542 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) ran up $1.04 to C$46.44.

Oil closed slightly higher with the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up 25 cents at US$93.26 a barrel after a rising U.S. dollar earlier pushed oil as low as US$91.14. A stronger greenback usually helps depress oil prices, which are denominated in dollars, as it makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

The energy sector backed off 0.38 per cent with Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) down 21 cents to C$36.96 and Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) gave back 27 cents to $43.85.

The base metals sector was ahead 0.16 per cent as metal prices also retreated, with the July copper contract on the Nymex down three cents at US$4.07 a pound.

But the group was held back by sector heavyweight Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B). Its shares fell 43 cents to C$43.23 as the company reduced its coal production guidance for the second quarter and said unit mining costs would be greater as a result of higher labour and other expenses. Teck now expects coal sales in the second quarter at the low end of its previously announced guidance range of 5.5 million to six million tonnes as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Elsewhere in the sector, Quadra FNX Mining (TSX:QUX) gained 26 cents to $13.16.

Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM) continued to be a drag on the TSX following a disappointing earnings forecast delivered late last week. Its shares were down $1.83 or 6.72 per cent to $25.41 after plunging about 20 per cent Friday.

The positive performance on the TSX came after worries about Europe’s debt problems and the possibility of a Greek default in particular, along with slowing global economic conditions, pushed the TSX lower for a third week in a row, losing 2.2 per cent.

Greece has been at the centre of Europe’s debt worries, but other countries are also facing troubles. Moody’s warned on Friday that it may cut Italy’s credit rating because of its mounting debt and sluggish growth prospects.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 76.02 points to 12,080.38.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 13.18 points to 2,629.66 while the S&P 500 index climbed 6.86 points to 1,278.36.

In other corporate news, beverage and specialty food maker Lassonde Industries Inc. (TSX:LAS.A) expects to have greater access to the large U.S. market with its US$390 million acquisition of New Jersey-based juice producer Clement Pappas and Co. Inc. Lassonde shares rose $1.35 to $70.35.

Boston-based Atlantic Power Corp. (TSX:ATP) announced Monday that it plans to acquire Capital Power Income L.P. (TSX:CPA.UN) in a cash and stock deal that values the company at some $1.1 billion. Atlantic Power shares dipped seven cents to $14.89 while Capital Power units gained 65 cents to $19.28.

Medical device maker Neovasc widens loss but raises revenues in latest quarter

VANCOUVER – Neovasc Inc. (TSXV:NVC), a Vancouver-based medical device maker, widened its net loss in the latest quarter on higher expenses.

The company reported Monday it lost $973,454 or two cents a share for the three months ended March 31.

That compared with a loss of $472,236 or two cents for the comparable period in 2010.

The loss reflected an increase of $99,683 in product development and clinical trial costs and a $410,036 rise in share-based compensation expenses.

Revenues increased 10 per cent year-over-year to $1.17 million from just under $1.1 million.

Meanwhile, total expenses rose to $1.4 million from $909,365.

“Neovasc continued to achieve good progress in all of our programs in the first three months of 2011, including our tissue products business, the Cosira trial of our Reducer product for refractory angina, and new program initiatives for treating mitral valve disease now underway,” said Alexei Marko, CEO of Neovasc.

“We reported solid revenue growth in our tissue products and services business, which was cash flow positive for the quarter, and we look forward to continued growth in this business as more of our customers’ devices progress towards commercialization.”

Neovasc is a specialty heart device company that develops, manufactures and markets medical devices for the vascular and surgical market.

The company’s current products include the Neovasc Reducer, used to treat refractory angina, as well as a line of advanced biological tissue technologies that are used in surgeries.

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Beatriz weakens to tropical storm after brushing Mexico’s Pacific coast

MANZANILLO, Mexico – Hurricane Beatriz weakened into a tropical storm and headed out to sea Tuesday after pounding Mexico’s resort-studded Pacific coast with heavy rains and winds.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Mexico’s government had discontinued a hurricane warning for a stretch of coastline from La Fortuna to Cabo Corrientes. Beatriz is expected to continue weakening over the next 48 hours.

Beatriz’s maximum sustained winds have dropped to near 60 mph (95 kph). It is about 110 miles (175 kilometres) south-southwest Cabo Corrientes and moving west into the Pacific at near 12 mph (19 kph).

Early Tuesday, Beatriz brushed Mexico’s Pacific coast as a hurricane forcing tourists from beaches and into hotels.

No injuries or major damage were reported in Manzanillo, said David Sanchez, Manzanillo’s civil protection director. He said authorities saw two palm trees that had been knocked over.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one Mexican tourist had been injured when a tree fell on him in Acapulco and a boy had gone missing after being swept by a current. Authorities closed the ports of Acapulco, Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo and urged hotel owners to tell guests not to go to the beach.

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A steady rain was falling in Manzanillo on Tuesday, but people were mostly going about their business with normal vehicle traffic in main avenues and people standing at bus stops.

In Manzanillo, many tourists were hanging out at the beach despite warnings not to.

Farther south along the coast in Zihuatanejo, civil protection officials ordered the port closed completely and authorized five shelters in case of floods or mudslides.

Some streets and avenues in the tourist district and downtown were flooded and city officials had to pick up fallen trees.

The Tides hotel advised its guests to remain in their rooms if possible and take precautions from rain and wind, receptionist Dulce Miranda said.

Still, tourists in Zihuatanejo were enjoying the waves on Tuesday.

“I came with my family, and they did not want to leave the bungalows that we rented… but the rain won’t stop me from wanting to at least wet my feet,” said Josefina Fernandez, a tourist of Mexico City.

In Acapulco, the ports were closed.

Authorities reported a 16-year-old boy was swept by the current and is still missing.

Tourist Arturo Olayo, of the city of Puebla, was injured when a tree fell on him. He was transported to the hospital. His condition was unknown.

About 150 Mexican soldiers were deployed on a rescue mission in case homes needed to be evacuated in Acapulco, the Mexican army said late Monday.

Authorities say 100 homes were flooded and 20 trees fell. A bridge suffered damages, and some avenues in the tourist district were also flooded because of the heavy rains. About 30 parked vehicles were swept by the current.

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Associated Press writers Sergio Flores in Acapulco and Jonathan M. Katz and Adriana Gomez Licon in Mexico City contributed to this story.

Silence used to be golden at movies, but talking and texting are now the norm

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – It seems like such a quaint notion: Folks would go to the movie theatre, buy their tickets at the box office, then sit down, shut up and pay attention for two hours to what was on the screen.

Now, the piercing glow of cellphones lights up the darkness like so many pesky fireflies, and people talk to each other in a packed auditorium as if they were sitting in the privacy of their own living rooms.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, did something about this trend by kicking out a patron who refused to adhere to the theatre’s rule against talking or texting, then turned the ranting, profane voice message she left into a hilarious public service announcement. It’s gotten over 1.75 million hits on YouTube in just a couple of weeks.

But what happened to our attention spans? Why must we talk, text and tweet in the middle of a movie? And what – if anything – can theatres do to stop this erosion of cinema civility?

Matt Atchity, editor-in-chief of the Rotten Tomatoes film review website, crafted “10 Commandments for Movie Audiences” including “Thou shalt not text.” But the ubiquity of cellphones makes these sensible suggestions hard to enforce.

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“Even 10 years ago, not everyone had a phone, not everyone was text messaging. The younger generation grew up and the kids who were texting in class are now the kids who are texting in movies,” Atchity said.

He added that Hollywood’s focus on the 18-24 demographic is also a factor. “A big opening release is like going to Chuck E. Cheese,” Atchity said.

While adults might believe what’s on screen deserves their full attention, kids nowadays view the movie-going experience as interactive, said Bill Goodykoontz, film critic for The Arizona Republic and father of four.

“They can’t imagine seeing anything, including a movie, without immediately supplying their reactions,” said Goodykoontz, who’s also chief film critic for Gannett.

Producer Barry Mendel (“Bridesmaids”) believes the reliance on social media and 24-7 information has bled into every part of our lives – even places that are meant to provide an escape.

“It’s very rare in our society to sit and stare at something intensely and without distraction for two hours. People just don’t have that muscle anymore,” said Mendel, a two-time Oscar nominee for best picture for “The Sixth Sense” and “Munich.”

“It makes me worry for my profession, for making movies,” he continued. “In order for a movie to be good, someone needs to sit down and read a screenplay and help the writer make it better. Instead they start reading a script, then they stop reading it and pick it up later.”

Rachael Harris (“The Hangover,” ”Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) said a guy recently walked in late to a private screening of the new independent film she stars in, “Natural Selection,” sat down next to her and immediately checked his BlackBerry.

“As an actor, you do have a sense of: ‘How dare I not be riveting enough that you have to check your email?’ You react personally but then you realize it’s not personal. It’s just bad manners,” she said.

But many of the young people who engage in these practices don’t think it’s a problem because everyone does it. Thirteen-year-old Will Barnes of Frisco, Texas, says he texts sometimes during movies, but tries to be courteous.

“I didn’t really like ‘Thor,’ so I just pulled out my phone and texted a little bit. It was during the day so nobody was really in the theatre at the time,” Barnes said. “I’m just looking at the screen, I’m not paying attention to what other people are doing. But you see adults doing it and I think it’s a little immature for their age to be texting during a movie.”

Fourteen-year-old Andrea Lopez of Newhall, Calif., says she leaves her phone on during movies but keeps it on silent: “Normally I’ll just text during the end of the movie to have my mom or dad come pick me up.”

But when others are blatantly using their phones, Lopez said, “that’s ridiculous. Then they’re just ruining the movie for everyone else. The least they can do is go outside and talk.”

But not all offenders are adolescents: “I am the worst. It annoys my kids,” said Tracy Tofte, a 40-year-old real estate agent and mother of two in Santa Clarita, Calif. “If it’s a slow part of the movie I can’t help looking at my phone and going, ‘Oh, I have an email.’”

Theater owners have tried a variety of methods to get folks to keep quiet and stay off their phones, from showing amusing messages beforehand to having ushers sweep through the auditorium during the show, said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners. Some have experimented with dividing moviegoers into over-21 and under-21 auditoriums, but that can get disorganized.

“It’s an educational process but we and our members and the people who write about our industry know that the beauty of cinema, first of all, is that it’s a shared experience. That means there are shared responsibilities,” said Fithian.

With the expansion of the international movie market, mobile phone etiquette has also become an issue in overseas theatres.

Before a movie starts in India, warnings flash on the screen asking people to switch off their phones or put them on silent, yet some folks continue to chat anyway and theatre workers don’t kick them out.

Compliance is far better in Hong Kong, where patrons generally heed a message urging them to turn off or silence their phones before the movie.

In Britain, peer pressure usually keeps theatres quiet. Moviegoers are familiar with a long-running series of ads shown beforehand under the slogan: “Don’t Let a Mobile Phone Ruin Your Movie.” The comic promos feature well-known actors having their movie projects destroyed by a clueless mobile phone executive.

Theatres in China range from plush auditoriums in large cities to basic theatres in smaller towns that may even lack concession stands. So the demographic of moviegoers tends to vary, too, along with their attention to etiquette, with audiences in the higher-end theatres typically more compliant.

Around 2004, the National Association of Theatre Owners investigated technology that would block cellphone signals in U.S. theatres. When word of that got out, responses came flooding in, said Fithian, the NATO president.

Sixty per cent were in favour of the idea, with 40 per cent against it, “but the 40 per cent was violent,” he said. “Parents have to stay in touch with their babysitters. People are so focused on how important their jobs are that they had to be in touch 24/7. I felt like asking these people, ‘What did you do 15 years ago?’”

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Associated Press writers Jill Lawless in London, Min Lee in Hong Kong, Ashok Sharma in New Delhi and Chi-Chi Zhang in Beijing contributed to this report.

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