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Rihanna: Fashion is commitment

Rihanna says wearing stilettos isn’t about pain, but commitment.

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The 25-year-old singer is as known for her outrageous fashion sense as she is for her music. She loves wearing super high shoes, insisting she has taught herself to dance in them because she knows they look so good.

“It’s not about pain. It’s about the commitment. I say to myself, ‘I want to look like this,’ and worry about the pain later. I’ve had nights I had to tiptoe home and the balls of my feet wouldn’t even allow me to stand,” she told US Vogue magazine, which she has scored her third cover for.

The singer also gave some underwear tips. Unless it’s completely necessary, the Barbados-born singer forgoes a bra.

“If I’m wearing a top, I don’t wear a bra,” she said. “If I’m wearing a bra, I just wear a bra.”

Rihanna’s love of fashion has scored her many jobs. She is currently the face of Balmain and has released a line with UK retailer River Island and cosmetics company MAC.

Designers are seemingly falling over themselves to work with her, with Tom Ford explaining why he has so much time for her.

“She can throw on combinations you can’t imagine other people could possibly wear, and look great. In the fashion world she has inspired a very, very loose mix of random items,” he explained.

“There is no one else that excites me more,” Alexander Wang said. “It’s raw, it’s smart, it’s everything pop culture needs to move forward.”

Rihanna is considering starting up her own label soon, although she doesn’t have any concrete plans at the moment.

She believes her dedication to style is what sets her apart from her peers.

“It’s not all down to my voice. There’s people with way more talent than I when it comes to singing. Bigger voices. But people want to know who you are. Fashion is a clear indication, a way to express your attitude, your mood,” she said.

Last year there were reports that Rihanna was remodelling her New York City apartment, turning several of the bedrooms into closets to house her fashion collection. While she confirms she now lives in the Big Apple full time, the star insists she has actually downsized her wardrobe.

The star also opened up about her ever-changing hair, which has been bright red and blonde in the past. At the moment she’s a brunette and she has two main hair specialists she works with when she wants a new look – which is often.

One thing she is less picky about is her jewellery. She is often seen draped in gold bracelets and chains, but none of it is real.

She’s also not bothered about which sex her clothes are meant for, as she has long been a fan of male fashion.

“More than anything, I like a jacket. You can do anything with a great jacket, the bigger the better. You can have any silhouette underneath. It gives you an attitude. It makes a gown look cool,” she said. “I love baggy things. I wear men’s clothes, men’s shoes, oxfords, creepers.

“When I was 13 or 14, I didn’t want to wear what my mum wanted me to wear. I was very much a boy in my style, my demeanour. All my friends were guys. I loved things that boys did. I loved being easy with my clothes. I loved wearing hats and scarves and snapbacks on my head. It was my way of rebelling. I wanted to dress like my brother.”

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ACA trumps Home And Away in ratings race

A Current Affair appears to be gaining the upper hand on long-running soap Home And Away which will cause a few headaches for the Seven Network.

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The Nine Network is now dominating the all-important 6pm to 7.30pm timeslots which are considered vital to promoting other programming and also retaining viewers for the rest of the night.

Nine took a gamble on January 6 when it went to an hour-long news service and pushed A Current Affair (ACA) back to 7pm to take on Home And Away.

The Seven soap won the first week of official ratings, which started February 9, but ACA has won both nights this week and by a decisive margin.

On Monday the margin was about 200,000 viewers and on Tuesday ACA was sixth with 1.013 million viewers and Home And Away was 11th with 874,000 viewers on OzTAM’s overnight ratings.

Nine also had a decisive win with its hour-long news service which is broken into two segments for ratings purposes.

Nine News (1.106 million) was third and Nine News 6.30pm (1.085 million) was fourth.

In comparison, Seven’s News (986,000) was eighth and Seven News/Today Tonight (944,000) was ninth with 944,000.

Reality shows My Kitchen Rules (1.883 million) and The Block: Fans v Faves (1.149 million) were first and second, respectively, on Tuesday.

Getting crunched in the reality show wars is Network Ten’s The Biggest Loser Challenge which was 28th with 323,000 viewers.

Most watched shows on Tuesday

1. My Kitchen Rules (Seven) – 1.883 million

2. The Block: Fans v Faves (Nine) – 1.149 million

3. Nine News (Nine) – 1.106 million

4. Nine News 6.30pm (Nine) – 1.085 million

5. Winners & Losers (Seven) – 1.041 million

6. A Current Affair (Nine) – 1.013 million

7. The Big Bang Theory (Nine) – 995,000

8. Seven News (Seven) – 986,000

9. Seven News/Today Tonight (Seven) – 944,000

10. The Big Bang Theory rpt (Nine) – 919,000

—————————————————

11. Home And Away (Seven) – 874,000

28. The Biggest Loser: Challenge (Ten) – 323,000

* Source OzTAM

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US dollar dips against euro on US data

The US dollar has weakened against the euro, under pressure from disappointing data, while the yen tumbled after the Bank of Japan extended a special lending scheme for banks.

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The euro bought $US1.3759 around 2300 GMT (1000 AEDT) up from $US1.3707 late on Monday.

The US dollar, however, rose against the Japanese currency, buying 102.40 yen, compared with 101.92 yen on Monday.

The euro rose to 140.89 yen from 139.70 yen.

The New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State manufacturing index, based on survey of manufacturers in New York state, fell eight points to 4.5 this month, with new orders flat.

The fall was stronger than analysts expected and added to a series of weak US economic indicators that raised concerns about the strength of US growth.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders said its US sentiment index tumbled to 46 in February from 56 in January, though it mainly blamed severe weather conditions in much of the country.

“Traders are becoming somewhat sceptical as to the velocity at which the Federal Reserve will continue to cut its bond-buying program,” said Jonathan Terela, a trader at Western Union Business Solutions.

The Fed has reduced asset purchases by $US20 billion ($A22.20 billion) so far this year, to $US65 billion in February, as it tapers the support aimed at holding down long-term interest rates to bolster the economy.

Markets are awaiting the minutes of the January 28-29 Federal Open Market Committee’s monetary policy meeting on Wednesday in anticipation they will shed light on the central bank’s policy direction.

The yen weakened after the Bank of Japan wrapped up a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday saying said it would keep its massive easing program in place, in line with expectations.

However, it also doubled the sum of loan schemes to banks in a bid to stimulate lending to firms and to finance growth-stoking projects such as environmental research and natural resources development.

The pound fell against the greenback, fetching $US1.6681 compared with $US1.6714 late on Monday.

The US dollar slipped to 0.8880 Swiss franc from 0.8914 franc.

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Players’ belief removes Woods fear factor

Adam Scott says he and other players in golf’s elite aren’t worrying about Tiger Woods at the majors any more.

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World No.2 Scott isn’t saying No.1 Woods is no longer a threat after a near six-year major title drought since winning his 14th – quite the opposite in fact.

But he senses he’s part of a group of players who have raised their games, feel their time has come and are too focussed on making the most of it to fret about anyone else.

“I don’t think he (Woods) has become less of a factor,” said Scott.

“I think he’s still obviously a favourite in everyone’s mind, including the players, and he’s going to be around the mix,. He’s the No.1 player in the world.

“It’s just he’s on a dry spell at the moment and that’s what happens in a career.

“Jack Nicklaus had a run like that and he’s still the greatest player of all time.”

Scott will pursue his second major title when he defends the Masters in April and says the spate of different major winners in recent years has changed the scene.

“I just feel like the way it’s been shared around a little bit lately, you’ve seen my generation of player and the Justin Rose’s who have got to that level where they have put 10 or 12 years experience in the bank; they have raised the level of their own game over the last couple years and believe it’s their time to do it.

“They are not worried about Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or a young guy like Rory McIlroy. They are just into their own thing.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that Tiger comes and wins again this year, but I think there’s my generation of player feeling like their time is now, so they have got to take advantage of it.”

Woods, second behind Nicklaus’ all-time total of 18 majors, hasn’t won a major since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.

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News organisations want Greste release

A raft of international news organisations has called on Egypt to free Australian journalist Peter Greste who is being held in a Cairo prison.

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Mr Greste was arrested on December 29 and is due to face trial on Thursday, accused of backing the black-listed Muslim Brotherhood and portraying Egypt in a state of civil war.

In an open letter to Egyptian authorities, the BBC, Reuters, Sky, NBC News, ABC News and ITN call for the Al-Jazeera journalist’s release.

“A hard-working, honourable journalist, with a track record of achievement, has been put in jail, awaiting trial, for honestly practising his trade,” the letter says.

“So we would like to add our voices to those that have called for his release, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.”

The international news organisations condemned Egyptian authorities for jailing 20 journalists, including 48-year-old Mr Greste, for allegedly belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation or “spreading false news”.

“We think the Egyptian authorities are profoundly mistaken in their actions,” the letter says.

“Whatever the local conditions, a fundamental principle of any country should be freedom of speech.

“So we think Egypt’s move is deeply damaging to the future of impartial journalism in the country and that its actions are unjust, and unacceptable.”

Since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military in July, Egypt’s interim government has been incensed by Al-Jazeera television’s coverage of a deadly crackdown against the Brotherhood to which the deposed Islamist belongs.

On December 25, the government added the Brotherhood to its list of terrorist organisations.

Prosecutors have accused the Al-Jazeera news crew of portraying Egypt in a state of “civil war” and “airing false news”.

Al-Jazeera has been leading an international campaign demanding the release Mr Greste and eight other network staff, and has denied all charges against them.

If convicted, Mr Greste could be jailed for up to seven years.

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Angry Pellegrini questions impartiality of referee

City fell behind in their last-16 first-leg clash when Eriksson awarded a penalty to the visitors in the 53rd minute for a foul by Martin Demichelis on fellow Argentine Lionel Messi that appeared to take place outside the area.

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To compound the punishment, Demichelis was sent off, leaving City to play the rest of the match down to 10-men, with Messi firing home from the spot and Dani Alves adding a second goal in stoppage time.

Chilean Pellegrini, who normally keeps his own counsel, was highly critical of the Swedish official, who has held a FIFA badge for 12 years and has now refereed 22 Champions League and 87 UEFA matches in total.

Pellegrini, who risks a severe sanction from European soccer’s governing body, told a news conference: “I spoke to him (Eriksson) at the end and told him he should be very happy because he decided the match.

“Barcelona had no chance to score until the penalty against Demichelis.

“The referee was not impartial. He did not have any control of the game. I think it was not a good idea to have a referee from Sweden in such an important match.

“He did not call for a foul on (Jesus) Navas before the penalty. On the penalty, the foul was made outside the box, but more importantly we were building up the play.

“The first mistake was not giving a foul against Navas and then deciding it was a penalty when it was not a penalty.

“But it was not the only thing, he made mistakes from the beginning. It is very difficult to analyse the game because of that.”

Asked why it was relevant that the referee was Swedish, Pellegrini replied: “More important football is played in Europe than in Sweden so a big game with two important teams – that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.”

Pellegrini was also angry that Eriksson had been chosen for Tuesday’s match after he had previously dismissed two Barcelona penalty claims in the 2012 Champions League quarter-final against AC Milan at the San Siro.

“I think it’s a mistake to nominate a referee who has mistakes against Barcelona to have the same referee here,” he told Sky Sports. “I say once again he (the referee) decided the game.”

(Writing by Toby Davis in London, Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Manus detainees need to be processed quickly and given certainty

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

 

Scott Morrison has been unable to guarantee that there will be no more issues on Manus Island.

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(AAP/Alan Porritt)

For the Abbott government, Manus is a literal and political nightmare, as immigration minister Scott Morrison admitted he was unable to guarantee that there wouldn’t be further disturbances.

Other countries, with much more serious pressures from asylum seekers, might wonder how Australia’s outsourced “PNG solution” has come to this. But there was an inevitability about it when detainees live in distressing conditions with no clarity about their future.

Morrison’s answer – that they should not have got on boats – is beside the point.

Following the second consecutive night of violence, this one with a fatality, Tony Abbott spoke with his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter O’Neill.

No doubt to his considerable relief, Abbott received assurances that PNG remains committed to the Manus detention centre and to resettling in that country asylum seekers found to be refugees. If PNG tried to go back on its deal, the Australian government would have more trouble.

In the wake of the violence, Abbott also called a meeting in Canberra of cabinet’s national security committee and the government put 100 security personnel on standby.

At morning and evening news conferences, Immigration minister Scott Morrison looked a little shaken but retained some of his usual defiance. Tensions had been there, he said; such a situation had been anticipated, security had recently been strengthened.

People would seek to tear detention centres down; they would make wild allegations, Morrison said. He highlighted that “despite what is a terrible tragedy, the centre stands, the centre operates and the centre was operating first thing this morning.” Breakfast had been served.

The whole thing was cast as another front in the government’s border security war.

Manus Island detention centre. (AAP/Department of Immigration and Citizenship)

So far, a lot of detail is missing about what happened on Monday night. The Iranian died from head injuries but Morrison could not say how or where they were inflicted. Shots were fired by the PNG police, but the circumstances aren’t known. Nor is there any information about how another asylum seeker was shot in the buttocks. Morrison rejected unverified claims that outsiders had attacked the centre and the asylum seekers, but could not be sure people from outside hadn’t gone in.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR visited Manus in October and its report paints a graphic picture of the harsh physical conditions and the detainees’ mood, including their fears about safety following a clash between PNG police and military outside the centre.

The report said bluntly that the PNG practice of detaining all asylum seekers at the closed centre “on a mandatory and open-ended basis, without an individualised assessment as to the necessity, reasonableness and proportionality of the purpose of such detention, amounts to arbitrary detention that is inconsistent with international law”.

It also pointed out that Australia’s responsibilities under international instruments to which it is party “remain engaged and cannot be extinguished by the physical transfer of asylum seekers to PNG”.

The UNHCR made one very key point among many findings and recommendations – and this would surely seem to go to the nub of what the Australian government should be doing.

“UNHCR’s view is that reasonable and appropriate time frames should be implemented and communicated to asylum seekers. This is integral not only for a fair and efficient asylum system, but also for the psycho-social well-being of asylum seekers.”

Uncertainty can be deeply debilitating for people in quite ordinary circumstances, let alone for those who have often been through traumatic experiences and are now locked up in bad conditions.

Setting, in conjunction with PNG, timetables for processing the more than 1300 people on Manus would not be a softening of policy (which the government is determined to avoid at all costs). It would the humane, decent and competent way to proceed.

The processing is done by PNG with Australian mentoring. Somehow Australia has to find a way to have it done more expeditiously. So far, not one person has been found to be a refugee, and Morrison did not think anyone at all had been fully processed.

Asked whether he had a date or a time in his mind for having Manus empty, Morrison said he was “not about to make any sort of speculative forecasts”.

The boats appear to have stopped, with no arrivals for two months. This gives the opportunity to tackle the Manus issue, because it would not be exacerbated by new arrivals. The qualification is that Morrison is threatening to send more people there from Christmas Island.

Forcing the pace of processing would be a start to dealing with the Manus problem, although it would then bring other difficulties including repatriating reluctant people whose claims failed.

The government is determined, as part of its deterrent, to insist that those found to be refugees must be settled in PNG and PNG only. This is something the UNHCR is “very concerned by”. It said in its report that from its nearly 30 years of firsthand experience in the country “it is clear that sustainable integration of non-Melanesian refugees in the socio-economic and cultural life of PNG will raise formidable challenges and protection concerns”.

For people granted asylum on the basis of a genuine fear of persecution in their home country to then need protection from the citizens of their new one would be a cruel twist indeed.

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Ferguson plays himself on Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson says being gay lawyer Mitch Pritchett in Modern Family is one of the easiest roles he’s taken on because he’s basically playing himself.

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Ferguson and the rest of the Modern Family cast are in Australia to shoot an episode of the hugely popular Network Ten series, in Sydney and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Ferguson said he was initially called to audition for Mitch’s emotionally over-the-top partner Cam Tucker, who is played by the “openly straight” Eric Streetstone.

However, once he was cast as Mitch there was little else to do for the role except turn up on the set each morning and just be himself in the mockumentary-style sitcom.

“Fortunately for me, Mitch is very close to who I am,” Ferguson told AAP.

“When I auditioned for the role, I basically read it for myself and it’s the easiest job I have ever had to do.

“I haven’t had do a lot of research for the role.”

Ferguson says it did take some convincing for the producers to allow him to audition for Mitch after they had him earmarked as Cam on the series, which returns on Monday at 7.30pm.

Mitch’s character was more appealing to Ferguson because it was less flamboyant and, in many ways, a less stereotypical gay role than Cam’s.

To make the producers come around to his way of thinking, Ferguson auditioned for Cam in the same manner the producers were looking to cast Mitch’s character. The ploy worked.

“I read Cameron as I was reading Mitchell because they refused to see me as Mitchell and then they said `you’d be a better Mitchell than Cam’,” Ferguson said.

There was another side of the character Ferguson wanted to explore – the fact it meant being a son and a brother as well.

“I liked the challenge of not just playing Mitchell and being a partner, but a son, and a brother, and I like playing people who are serious and finding that a challenge,” he said.

Ferguson has used his role on the sitcom to fight for marriage equality across the US by selling a designer collection of bow ties under business of Tie The Knot.

Ferguson married his partner Justin Mikita last July in New York and they channel the proceeds from Tie The Knot towards various organisations championing the cause of gay and lesbian rights in the US.

* Modern Family season five returns at 7.30pm on Monday, February 24 on Network Ten

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Cuba makes Hemingway trove available to US

Cuba has released to US researchers copies of more than 2000 documents related to Ernest Hemingway, media reported in Havana, the American literary giant’s home during the 1940s and 1950s.

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“More than 2000 documents held at the Finca Vigia Museum in Havana are now available for the first time for researchers in the United States after having been digitised and sent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,” the Cuba Contemporanea magazine wrote on its website.

Now a museum, Finca Vigia, which means “lookout house” is located in the town of San Francisco de Paula just outside Havana. It was Hemingway’s home during much of his more than two-decade-long residence in Cuba.

Among the treasures now accessible to US scholars at the Kennedy Library in Boston is the 1954 telegram from the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden informing Hemingway that he had just been awarded its prestigious literature prize.

A statement from the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts said the trove of documents, which had never seen outside of Cuba, includes letters, passports, telegrams, household accounts, bar bills and recipes.

“We are pleased to make available to researchers copies of these materials that provide a unique glimpse into the everyday life of Ernest Hemingway,” said Tom Putnam, Director of the Kennedy Library.

“For a literary figure who is often portrayed as larger than life, this trove of personal ephemera serves to humanise the man and to understand the writer.”

Officials said it is the second large document release from the Finca Vigia. A first huge tranche of 3000 digitised images was donated to the Kennedy Library in 2008.

Hemingway, who took his own life in 1961 at the age of 61 after returning to the United States, wrote some of his most famous works in Cuba, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.

He was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of the art of narrative … and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

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Barcelona, PSG take huge step in CL

Four-time winners Barcelona and French champions Paris Saint-Germain took huge strides towards the Champions League last eight on Tuesday as they both won away from home in their last-16, first-leg ties.

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Barcelona prevailed 2-0 over Manchester City but scoring both their goals, a penalty by Lionel Messi and a late goal by Dani Alves, only after Argentinian defender Martin Demichelis was sent off eight minutes into the second half.

PSG, who were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarter-finals last season, thumped German outfit Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in Germany but, unlike Barcelona, took the match by the scruff of the neck early on and led 3-0 at halftime with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring two of them.

The City and Barcelona clash turned in the 53rd minute when Demichelis brought down Messi, with replays suggesting the foul happened just outside the penalty area.

However, Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson thought otherwise and not only awarded the penalty but also sent off Demichelis.

City did not wilt and had their chances to pull level but instead were hit by a sucker punch at the end as the always dangerous Alves nipped in to slot home a sweetly-taken goal.

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas said it had been an important statement by his side in light of some remarks, especially by former Real Madrid and now Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who had said they were the worst Barcelona team of “many years”.

“Some people have been doing a lot of talking, nothing new there with one of them, and hopefully this will make them shut up for a few days,” he said.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini blamed Eriksson for tilting the game in Barcelona’s favour.

“Before the penalty there was the foul on (Jesus) Navas, when he (Eriksson) was three metres from the player, so he saw it without any problem,” Pellegrini said.

“From the beginning I felt that the referee was not impartial to both teams. The penalty on Martin Demichelis was not a penalty – it was outside the box.”

While that match remained tight until the end, the other game was over as a contest by halftime as PSG overwhelmed the German side.

Blaise Matuidi scored the opener and Ibrahimovic struck, the second of his goals was a scorching effort from outside the box.

The hosts’ chances of at least getting a goal back decreased markedly when Bosnian international defender Emir Spahic – who had been responsible for conceding the penalty that Ibrahimovic scored for his first goal – was sent off for a second bookable offence.

“We had a good start and when you are one goal up, it’s easier, it gives you space,” said Ibrahimovic.

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