Should France Soccer Team go to next year’s Soccer World Cup in South Africa?

France captain and striker, Thierry Henry's handled assist broke Irish hearts in Paris on Wednesday night, denying Giovanni Trapattoni's team a spot in World Cup 2010.

Thierry Henry, admitted accidently fouling with a handball. This allowed France to advance to the final round of the tournament with a 2-1 win over Ireland. Henry touched the ball with his hand twice before passing it on to defender William Gallas who scored the fateful goal against Ireland at the Stade de France outside Paris.

The referee did not see the foul and honored the goal, despite protests by Irish players.

Henry, a well liked player with a previously pristine reputation, admitted his mistake. “Yes, there is a handball but I’m not the referee” he told reporters after the match, adding “I was behind two Irish defenders, the ball bounced and touched my hand. Of course, I continued to play. The referee did not blow his whistle for the handball, but I can’t say that there was no handball”.

Irish players were outraged following their loss. “This is a shame! It is totally ridiculous that the referee and his assistants did not see Henry’s handball. It’s so obvious. It’s disgusting,” Ireland’s goal keeper Shay Given told reporters. “I am very disappointed by what Henry has done. He is a cheater. For me, he has tarnished his image forever,” he added.

On internet websites many criticized Henry’s integrity. “Henry must be heavily sanctioned, this man is disrespectful towards everyone” Meze wrote on, France’s #1 sports newspaper. “What a lack of fair play. This is shameful. I am extremely disappointed by Henry” Etienne06 wrote on the same website. “I think Henry will never be able to play an international match without getting booed. His career is over” matteo_ddp wrote. “I’m ashamed to be French” added grego61.

Henry later apologised, “I’m not the referee… but if I hurt someone I’m sorry” he Twittered a few hours ago.

Despite the outrage there were supporters backing the French team. “There is a handball, but it is in our favor! Good!” wrote kimausoleil. “What is shameful is not Henry’s handball, it is the fact that the referee did not blow his whistle” Boubou74 wrote.

This latest episode reopens the debate on the use of video to help referees do their job and avoid mistakes. Soccer’s governing bodies have been against the use of video in soccer matches. They argue that all soccer rules should be the same at both the amateur and professional levels. Another suggestion up for debate is the use of assistant referees behind each goal. The Union of European Football Associations started testing this solution recently.

The most famous case of overlooked foul play in a soccer match is former Argentine player Maradona’s “hand of god” goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter final against England. Following the unpenalized handball Argentina advanced in the tournament and won the World Cup that year.

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Lil Wayne's “No Ceilings” hits the Web before official release

Lil Wayne’s new mixtape No Ceilings has hit the Web four days before its planned Halloween release — and less than a week after Tha Carter III rapper pleaded guilty to gun charges in New York City. With a prison sentence looming, rhymes like “T.I., hold your head” in the opener “Swag Surfin’ ” feel pretty weighty. But overall, it’s a stellar mixtape that features Wayne rapping over beats from some of the biggest hip-hop cuts of 2009. Nah Right has the goods.

Lil Wayne’s World: photos of the rapper’s rise.

Wayne is in full alien mode on No Ceilings, weaving together pop culture references from all over the map into his lyrics. He name checks three football players alone in his version of Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.” — Deion Sanders, Tim Tebow and former Saints QB Aaron Brooks — carves similes out of 300 and Nicole Kidman and conjures up lines that only a mad scientist like Tha Carter could concoct.

Jigga’s “D.O.A.” and “Run This Town,” The-Dream’s awesome “Fancy” and even the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” get Carterized on No Ceilings. “Young Money baby, and the building grows. As we look up, where did the ceilings go,” Lil Wayne raps in “Wasted,” giving the mixtape its title. No Ceilings looks like it’s the first phase of what promises to be a prolific Weezy in the months before he’s sentenced to prison, with Rebirth reportedly due out December 15th and Tha Carter IV possibly on the horizon.

No Ceilings track list:

1. “Swag Surfin’”
2. “Ice Cream Paint Job”
3. “D.O.A.”
4. “Interlude”
5. “Wasted”
6. “Watch My Shoes”
7. “Break Up [ft. Short Dawg & Gudda Gudda]”
8. “Banned From TV”
9. “Throw It in the Bag (Remix)”
10. “I Think I Love Her [ft. Tyga & Shanell]”
11. “Interlude #2 [ft. Shanell]”
12. “Wetter”
13. “I’m Good [ft. T-Streets]”
14. “Poke Her Face [ft. Jae Millz]”
15. “Run This Town”
16. “I Gotta Feeling”
17. “Outro ”

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10,000 Friend Requests Chased Bill Gates Out of Facebook

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says he was forced to abandon Facebook after too many people wanted to be his friend.

Gates, the billionaire computer geek-turned-philanthropist who was honoured on Saturday by India for his charity work, told an audience in New Delhi he had tried out Facebook but ended up with "10,000 people wanting to be my friends".

Gates, who remains Microsoft chairman, said he had trouble figuring out whether he "knew this person, did I not know this person".

"It was just way too much trouble so I gave it up," Gates told the business forum.

Gates was in the Indian capital to receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, awarded by the Government for his work for his charitable organisation the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation, built by his massive fortune, has committed nearly $US1 billion to health and development projects in India, especially targeting AIDS and polio.

Gates also confided to the audience that he was "not that big at text messaging" and that "I'm not a 24-hour-a-day tech person".

"I read a lot and some of that reading is not on a computer," he said.

Gates, who sought to drive a vision of a computer on every desk and in every home, said the information technology revolution had been "hugely beneficial" but added: "All these tools of tech waste our time if we're not careful."

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Milorad Cavic: Lack of Technology Saved Michael Phelps in Beijing Olympics

Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic said tonight it was only because of the lack of technology that Michael Phelps created history last year winning eight gold medals in Beijing. Cavic said that he did touch the wall ahead of Phelps in the Olympic 100m butterfly final, and technology could again be the reason why Phelps does not win their return clash in Rome.

At the time, last year in China, Cavic was diplomatic after the memorable 100m butterfly final. All television replays and still photography appeared to show he had touched the wall first, but the verdict went to Phelps. Despite protests, the result stood and Phelps went on to later pass Mark Spitz's record by winning eight gold medals at a single Olympics.

Cavic said last year he was just happy to win silver, but after winning the 50m butterfly world title tonight in Italy, Cavic - who wears an Arena suit - was asked about whether a victory in the 100m butterfly over Phelps would be as sweet because he has chosen to wear the obviously slower Speedo swimsuit.

"I've given this a lot of thought," he said when asked the suit question. "Throughout this whole year I've just been hearing a lot of white noise over this suit battle. FINA has spoken, they have approved the suits. I don't like it, but they made a decision.

"Who knows what would have happened last year if ... I guess what I am trying to say is technology is the problem here and I think everybody is blaming the technology.

"Last year it was me and a lot of people blaming Omega for not having a better technology (in their touch pads) because I did touch the wall first, but I did not activate the wall (timing system) first. This is a problem with technology. This is FINA and Omega's problem.

"Now if I was to beat Phelps they would say: 'Cavic beat Phelps because of the suit. This is again FINA's decision and too bad that Speedo has not had the foresight to see this and produce a (fast) suit which would have a Speedo emblem on it."

Cavic said he has put behind him what happened at the Olympics. He added that upon reflection, he may have retired from the sport had he won gold in Beijing.

"What happened in the past Olympics is behind me. I can sit and cry about it, but there's nothing positive which comes of this," he said. "This is behind me. I decided that a long, long time ago. I never lost any sleep over what happened. I won an amazing medal at the Olympic Games, maybe it could have been different, but I decided to put it behind me and go back to work and it's been an incredible motivation to get back into training and try to go after Phelps one more time.

"I think this (the 50m win) is a great confidence booster and I feel good going into the 100m butterfly. It's a great feeling to be crowned world champion and I am very happy and grateful but I believe I am overly-focused on the 100m butterfly to thoroughly enjoy this moment.

"For me losing that race probably saved my career because I have a strong feeling I would have stopped swimming if I had won the gold medal.

"The reality for me is I'm an animal of emotion and excitement and if I feel the desire that there is something left for me to do in swimming and that is to be crowned world champion, then I have to keep going. As long as there is a fire inside my heart I will keep going.

"Because of what happened I did return to swimming with a desire which I probably would not have had if I won the Olympic gold."

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NFL Considers Michael Vick For Full Reinstatement

Some two years after pleading guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in Virginia, Michael Vick was reinstated to the National Football League on a conditional basis, according to an NFL statement Monday.

Vick "will be considered for full reinstatement and to play in regular-season games by Week 6 based on the progress he makes in his transition plan," the statement said. Week 6 of the NFL season is in October.

Vick may participate in practices, workouts and meetings and may play in his club's final two preseason games under the conditions of his reinstatement, the league said.

Vick, in a statement, thanked the league's commissioner and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, who has served as his mentor.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League," Vick said in a statement. "I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given."

Vick, 29, was freed from federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 20 and returned to his home to serve the last two months of his 23-month sentence in home confinement.

Vick also said in his statement that he is re-evaluating his life after the "terrible mistakes" he made.

"As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to re-evaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward," Vick said in the statement. "Again, I would like to thank the commissioner for the chance to return to the game I love and the opportunity to become an example of positive change."

The former Atlanta Falcons player is a free agent and has not been signed by any team.

Dungy has agreed to continue working with Vick as an adviser and mentor, the NFL statement said.

In a letter to Vick, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote that his decision regarding full reinstatement "will be based on reports from outside professionals, your probation officer and others charged with supervising your activities, the quality of your work outside football" as well as factors such as the absence of any further law enforcement issues.

"This step-by-step approach is not meant to be a further punishment and should not be viewed as such," Goodell wrote, according to the NFL. "Instead, it is intended to maximize the prospect that you can successfully resume your career and your life. I believe that a transitional approach with a strong network of support will give you the best opportunity to manage effectively the various issues and pressures that you will inevitably face in the coming weeks and months and earn your full reinstatement."

The league suspended Vick indefinitely in August 2007 after his guilty plea. Although he was released from federal custody July 20, he must serve three years of probation, the league said.

In reviewing Vick's status, Goodell considered court records, submissions from Vick and others, reports from outside professionals and conversations with current and former players, among other items.

At a hearing July 22, Goodell spoke to Vick along with his representatives and others including NFL Players' Association officials.

"As I emphasized to you when we met ... it is actions that count," Goodell wrote to Vick. "I accept that you are sincere when you say that you want to, and will, turn your life around and that you intend to be a positive role model for others. I am prepared to offer you that opportunity. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands."

Vick has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At a hearing in that case, he told the judge that he earned 12 cents an hour as an overnight janitor while in prison.

The Humane Society of the United States has said Vick has offered to work with the organization on anti-dogfighting campaigns.

Wayne Pacelle, the organization's president, has said Vick was to work on programs aimed at preventing youths from getting involved in dogfighting and on programs to assist young people who have been involved.

In testimony before the bankruptcy judge, Vick acknowledged committing a "heinous" act and said he should have acted more maturely.

"Your margin of error is extremely limited," Goodell wrote to Vick. "I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you."

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Michael Jackson: His Successes Vs His Woes

Michael Jackson's
bizarre private life and change in appearance ended up eclipsing his musical achievements, according to the world's media.

Jackson's death from cardiac arrest Thursday has sparked an outpouring of grief from fans, and his life has been given a more measured summing up by news media.

Britain's Guardian newspaper said "his bizarre life-style and personal notoriety eclipsed his talent and his numerous achievements."

The Guardian said his fame, from the age of 11, "had such a damaging effect that his life was permanently affected."

"A combination of dysfunctional family and invasive fame ate away at the essentially private singer, whose initially minor eccentricities escalated into grotesque changes to his appearance and lifestyle.

"If ever there was an illustration of the adage that celebrity destroys what it touches, Jackson was it," the Guardian said.

Daily Mail agreed, saying Jackson "courted controversy and acclaim in equal measure.

"It was the tales of oxygen chambers, chimp chums, shopping sprees and physical transformation that have brought intrigue and amusement and earned the singer the nickname Wacko Jacko."

The Mail said star's behavior drew increasing alarm following a "documentary in which he pronounced sharing a bedroom with a child to be 'charming' and an incident in Germany in which he dangled his baby son Prince Michael II over a balcony."

The country's Times newspaper said only a "handful of performers -- (Elvis) Presley, (Frank) Sinatra, the Beatles -- could outrank Michael Jackson as the most successful popular music entertainer of all time."

However, "as he approached middle-age, it was Jackson's abiding interest in children which was his undoing."

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper also compared Jackson to Presley. "Just as Presley was the iconic voice and presence of the 1950s so Jackson enjoyed a similar status during 1980s and 1990s. And just as Presley, driven by the strange demons that seem to haunt the super-famous, died before his time so Jackson has died, aged 50, in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest."

France's Liberation newspaper described Jackson as the "total artist," but said his physical transformation and way of life brought controversy.

Le Monde said Jackson was one of the most famous singers of the 20th century but his image was tarnished by his private life.

Germany's Bild tabloid agreed, saying Jackson's private antics had seem him "dethroned" as the King of Pop.

China's People's Daily newspaper said Jackson had "set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades."

"Jackson's dramatic stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world.

"His one-gloved eccentric style also earned him plenty of critics and another nickname, "Wacko Jacko."

Thailand's Bangkok Post newspaper said: "While Jackson ruled the charts and dazzled audiences with electric dance moves like the backwards "moonwalk" in the 1980s, his once-stellar career was overshadowed by his colorful public behavior, his startling physical transformation and multiple allegations of child abuse."

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Obama at concert: The dream of our founders will live on

Inauguration revelry began Sunday afternoon as thousands of people packed the National Mall in Washington for a free concert featuring big stars.

President-elect Barack Obama addressed a roaring crowd after 90 minutes of high-energy acts such as U2, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Beyonce.

"Welcome to this celebration of American renewal," he said.

"In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now."

"I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure," Obama said. "That it will prevail; that the dream of our founders will live on in our time."

Obama spent the morning visiting Arlington National Cemetery and attending church before heading to the "We are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial. It was nothing but good vibes -- a brief respite for an incoming president who will face huge problems after he takes office Tuesday.

Bruce Springsteen opened the concert with his song "The Rising," singing, "How far I've gone/How high I've climbed/On my back's a 60 pound stone/On my shoulder a half mile line."

Along the National Mall, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, people watched the concert on massive screens and sang along with "America the Beautiful" and "This Land is Your Land."

During U2's performance of "Pride (In the Name of Love)," a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., frontman Bono referenced the civil rights leader's "I Have a Dream" speech, saying that it was also, "an Irish dream, a European dream, and African dream, an Israeli dream, and a Palestinian dream."

Obama mentioned the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and also referred to King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which took place in the same spot where he was standing.

"Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content," he said.

Obama said what gives him "the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you -- Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there."

Vice President-elect Joe Biden also spoke, pointing to those "marble domes" and towers of Washington surrounding the crowd which represent the "majesty of a great nation -- all built stone by stone by American men and women."

Work is about "dignity" and "respect," he said, praising the ethic of hard-working Americans. "We owe them the chance to go to work each day knowing they have the thanks of a grateful nation."

Comedians and actors such as Steve Carell and Jamie Foxx brought some comic levity to the inauguration of a president who will face some serious problems in just a few days.

Foxx, always the showman, urged "Chi-town" to "stand up!"

Joined by his wife Michelle and their children, the President-elect stood up, laughing and clapping.

Foxx did an impression of Obama's speech election night, as Obama laughed.

Stevie Wonder belted out "Higher Ground" with Shakira and Usher. Herbie Hancock backed Sheryl Crow and will i. am. as they sang Bob Marley's "One Love."

Garth Brooks sang the 1971 folk rock classic "American Pie" followed by a choir-backed version of "We shall be free." Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Jack Black and Rosario Dawson also addressed the crowd.

The celebration caps Obama's shortened version of President Abraham Lincoln's 1861 rail trip to Washington. Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president in Washington on Tuesday.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday morning suggests most Americans see Obama's inauguration as a chance for a divided America to unify.

"You know the country is in the middle of a honeymoon when 6 in 10 Republicans have a positive view of Obama," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

CNN's John King interviewed Obama this week in Ohio. King noted that Obama will take the oath of office on the steps of a Capitol built on the backs of slaves and live in a house built on the backs of slaves.

"This has to be incredibly overwhelming," King said.

Obama replied, "The notion that I will be standing there and sworn in as the 44th president, I think, is something that hopefully our children take for granted. But our grandparents are still stung by it and it's a remarkable moment."

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Boy George jailed for 15 months

Karma caught up with former Culture Club singer Boy George on Friday when a court sentenced the star to 15 months for falsely imprisoning a male escort, a court spokeswoman said.

Full details of the sentence weren't immediately clear.

A jury unanimously found the pop star and DJ, whose real name is George O'Dowd, guilty of the charge last month after a seven-day trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court in northeast London.

The jury determined O'Dowd, 47, had chained male escort Audun Carlsen to a wall at his apartment in London's hip Shoreditch neighborhood. Carlsen had also said the singer beat him with a metal chain.

O'Dowd, who maintained his innocence, came to court Friday sporting a multicolored tattoo on his bald head, none of his trademark makeup, and a black winter coat.

The star quit Culture Club in 1987 after a string of hits with the group, including "Karma Chameleon," "Do you really want to hurt me?" and "Church of the Poison Mind."

He has since become a DJ and revived his singing career, releasing a single last year called "Yes we can," inspired by Barack Obama and featuring clips of the U.S. president-elect.

O'Dowd is no stranger to the law. In August 2006, he spent five days cleaning the streets of Manhattan as part of a community service sentence for falsely reporting a break-in at his New York City home.

He has also publicly battled drug addiction.

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Photographs of Madonna could sell for $10,000 each

Two photographs of Madonna set to appear in a Christie's auction next month will probably sell for at least $10,000 each, according to estimates posted on the company's Web site.

One, a full-frontal nude black-and-white photograph of the singer, was taken in 1979 by celebrated American photographer Lee Friedlander for a series of nudes he was working on, said Milena Sales, a spokeswoman for the auction house.

Madonna was about 20 when the photograph, one of several, was taken.

A handful from the shoot appeared in Playboy magazine in 1985, Sales said. Christie's put price estimates for the photograph at $10,000 to $15,000.

The second photograph of Madonna was taken in the 1980s by Helmut Newton.

In the Newton photograph, which is in color, Madonna is wearing a short dress and black stockings with garters. The circumstances behind the photo shoot were not immediately clear.

The auction will take place in New York on February 12.

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Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" Defied The Odds

The casting director of "Slumdog Millionaire" credited the director's risky decision to have actors speak Hindi through much of the film for making it "real to the core."

Loveleen Tandan, who also served as co-director, called the movie's success "an amazing tsunami" that was completely unexpected.

The movie -- filmed on location in Mumbai, India, with a $15 million budget -- won Golden Globe awards Sunday for best drama, best director (Danny Boyle), best screenplay (Simon Beaufoy) and best original score (A.R. Rahman).

It's a story about a poverty-raised orphan in Mumbai who goes on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

Tandan said casting was unusually challenging.

"I've never seen a script where the main character gets to comes alive in three age groups and all with equal screen time, almost -- and here there were three characters who were going to be portrayed in three age groups," she said.

She had to find nine people to play the three characters at ages 6, 12 and 18 years of age "who could feel each other, be like each other, look like each other at three different age groups," Tandan said.

"As we went along and as I was looking, especially the youngest ones to play slum kids, I started to get a sense very early on that it needed not be in English but to be in Hindi so that it could come alive in a way that's most authentic, most sort of real to the core," she said.

She suggested to director Danny Boyle that one-third of the movie be spoken in Hindi, she said.

"I thought it was an idea that was probably going to get turned down because it's a movie for an international audience and needs to play everywhere and therefore needs to be in English, but he was so open to it."

A day later, after he discussed the idea with the writer and investors, he agreed, she said.

Tandan, who did not make the trip to the United States for the awards, watched from Mumbai.

"I was completely exhilarated, but with disbelief because it's a small film with no expectations," she said. "We were working under very harsh conditions on real locations here in Mumbai and trying to bring out the best intensity."

"It kind of feels surreal, but at the same time it's very heartening and really, really fantastic," Tandan said.

With the film's victories at the Critics' Choice Awards last week, it must be considered the front-runner in the Academy Awards' best-picture race. The Academy Award nominations will be announced January 22.

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Seven Convicted of Global Child Porn Trafficking in Florida

A federal court jury in Florida convicted seven people of participating in a global child pornography trafficking enterprise, according to the Department of Justice.

Jurors convicted the seven Wednesday of multiple counts of child exploitation, pornography and obstruction of justice.

Members of the organization used Internet news groups to swap and share "illegal images and videos depicting prepubescent children, including toddlers, engaged in various sexual and sadistic acts," prosecutors said.

An indictment filed in the case detailed interactions between group members as they swapped and commented on images.

"My thanks to you and all the others that together make this the greatest group of pedos to ever gather in one place," Freeman wrote in response to one posting, according to the indictment. And a posting from Castleman, cited in the indictment, read, "Thanks to all for the wonderful material that has been posted."

An Australian constable who infiltrated the group in August 2006 was among 50 witnesses testifying at trial. He told the jury that the group traded more than 400,000 images and videos of child sexual abuse before being dismantled by law enforcement, according to the Justice Department statement.

Each defendant faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison, fines and the possibility of supervised release for the rest of their lives, authorities said. The seven will be sentenced April 14.

During the six-day trial, evidence showed the seven participated in what prosecutors called a "well-organized criminal enterprise whose purpose was to proliferate child sex abuse images to its membership during a two-year period."

"This was a wide-scale, high-volume, international trafficking enterprise that used sophisticated computer encryption technology and file-sharing techniques," Matthew Friedrich, acting assistant attorney general, said in the statement.

The seven defendants were James Freeman of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida; Gary Lakey of Anderson, Indiana; Marvin Lambert of Indianapolis, Indiana; Neville McGarity of Medina, Texas; Warren Mumpower of Spokane, Washington; Daniel Castleman of Lubbock, Texas; and Ronald White of Burlington, North Carolina, according to the Department of Justice.

The charges included engaging in a child exploitation enterprise; conspiracy to advertise, transport, ship, receive and possess child pornography; advertising child pornography, transporting child pornography, receiving child pornography and obstruction of justice, prosecutors said.

Seven additional American defendants previously entered guilty pleas, prosecutors said.

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Third-ranking Hamas leader in Gaza killed

An Israeli artillery strike Thursday killed the third most senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Hamas television announced.

Saeed Siam was killed "in the latest shelling on a house" in Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, said Al-Aqsa TV, which showed images of a body it identified as Siam.

Siam served as interior minister in the Hamas-led government before it was dissolved in 2007. He ranked behind only former Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and former Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar in Hamas' Gaza hierarchy.

The Israeli military confirmed it targeted a house where Siam was believed to be present.

Hamas vowed to avenge Siam's death.

"His blood will be the fuel for the coming victory," according to a statement on Al-Aqsa TV.

Meanwhile, Israel ground forces -- backed by massive air power and heavy shelling -- pushed deep into Gaza City on Thursday.

Heavy battles with Hamas militants damaged the United Nations' main relief compound, a foreign media building and a Red Cross hospital.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in the region as part of the diplomatic effort to secure a truce. He met with Israeli officials on Thursday, and condemned the attack on the U.N. Relief and Works Agency's compound in Gaza City that destroyed relief supplies and wounded three people.

Speaking at a news conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Ban said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the shelling of the compound "was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously."

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that Barak actually told the U.N. chief that "if it was Israel's fire, it was a grave mistake."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed sorrow over the incident, but maintained that Israeli forces were responding to militant fire near the compound.

UNRWA Director John Ging denied there were any militants at the compound, and also said that at the time there was no fighting in the area.

Ging said UNRWA's headquarters -- located in a densely populated neighborhood -- was hit repeatedly by shrapnel and artillery, including white phosphorus shells -- the use of which is restricted under international law.

"It looks like phosphorus, it smells like phosphorus and it's burning like phosphorus," Ging said. "That's why I'm calling it phosphorus."

Some 700 Palestinians were taking shelter in the compound at the time. Read an aid worker's diary

Ging said that Olmert apologized to Ban over the incident.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the allegation of the use of white phosphorous, but Israeli spokesman Regev said Hamas recently fired phosphorus shells at Israelis.

In addition, the Foreign Press Association said international news agency offices in Gaza City were hit by Israeli fire Thursday and demanded Israel stop shooting at the building that houses them.

Palestinian security sources said two employees for Abu Dhabi television were wounded in the incident.

As it stepped up its military campaign, Israel on Thursday also dispatched senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad to Cairo to discuss a cease-fire proposal.

A Hamas delegation is also in the Egyptian capital, talking with leaders there who are trying to hammer out a temporary truce.

Israel said it initiated the operation into Gaza -- which is controlled by Hamas -- to stop rocket fire on its southern cities and towns.

Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, have died in the operation in Gaza and from rocket strikes on southern Israel, according to the Israeli military.

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed, including many civilians, Palestinian medics said.

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Patrick Swayze in hospital for pneumonia

Patrick Swayze was hospitalized and being treated for pneumonia Friday, days after he said in a prime-time special that he's "angry" and "going through hell" in his fight to beat inoperable pancreatic cancer.

The news was revealed during an event for television critics in Los Angeles, where Swayze, 56, had been scheduled to discuss his upcoming A&E series "The Beast." He "asked us specifically to go forward with today's panel," said A&E Television Networks president and chief executive Abbe Raven.

Last year, the actor revealed he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His publicist said there would be "no statement at this time."

Bob DeBitetto, a top A&E executive, said at the critic's session that Swayze had decided to check himself into the hospital "for observation" after coming down with pneumonia. "Patrick did want me to tell you that he is very sorry he couldn't be at the panel this morning, but he plans to get back to promoting 'The Beast' as soon as he is back on his feet."

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Music and TV legend Dick Clark Still Rockin' New Year's Eve

Four years after a stroke, Dick Clark is relishing the prospect of another New Year's Eve celebration, determined to appear for his 36th year in Times Square. And he's hardly surprised by the current state of the music industry he helped build — he predicted this, after all.

Clark, who turned 79 last month and has been in front of the cameras for 61 years, said in a recent interview by e-mail that his involvement in "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2009," diminished though it may be, is a labor of love and "not really a job."

"Obviously, I'm not able to be as actively involved as I used to be out on the street, up on a platform and interacting with the crowds in Times Square" in New York, Clark wrote. "Thank goodness my friend Ryan Seacrest is able to handle that end of the activity on the show these days.

ABC-TV's 3 1/2-hour live extravaganza will include performances by Natasha Bedingfield, Fall Out Boy, Jesse McCartney, Ne-Yo, Pussycat Dolls, Solange and Robin Thicke. Fergie hosts the Hollywood segments.

Clark woke up with right-side paralysis on Dec. 6, 2004 — "Your life changes overnight," he said. (Regis Philbin filled in for Clark on the New Year's Eve show that year.) Clark still uses a walker or wheelchair, and speaking is difficult.

"I am one of the fortunate ones who survived and have been minimally impaired, so I'm just thankful I'm still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat of bringing in the New Year."

The "American Bandstand" icon and longtime producer of the American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Golden Globes has long considered them "my television kids."

He's also watched their ratings plummet in recent years.

"There was a time when they attracted a huge audience," Clark wrote. "The audiences have dropped off as the years have gone by because of increasing television competition.

"What we are seeing is more and more talent and less emphasis on people getting awards. Television's award shows have now become gigantic showcases for variety."

Clark was there at the birth of rock 'n' roll ("American Bandstand" kicked off July 9, 1956), and he's watched dramatic changes in the music industry. Not that those changes would come as much of a surprise.

"I can remember writing an article several years ago where I let my imagination run wild," Clark wrote. "I said we'd see the day when music is delivered directly to our homes, and delivered to us in some form of wireless communication.

"The fun of actually holding a record in our hands will disappear and we'll all have our own individual library of our favorite songs that we'll listen to at home, at work, in the car wherever we happen to go."

These days, Clark divides his time between his Malibu home and Burbank office. There's an hourlong therapy session each morning, then he answers mail and phone calls, attends meetings and reads.

The day ends with his devoted wife Kari.

"My wife and I may join friends for dinner at a restaurant, attend a movie or just grab a bite to eat by ourselves away from home," Clark wrote. "Occasionally, we'll attend a music concert. Recently we've seen Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Frankie Valli and Cher." - AP

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