British girl, 7, found in Montreal after disappearing from Manchester in 2008

TORONTO – A tip from a wary subway rider in Montreal ended a nearly three-year hunt for a missing British girl and led to an emotional reunion with her father, authorities said Tuesday.

Police and officials with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said seven-year-old Pearl Gavaghan Da Massa has returned to her home in Manchester, along with the father who relocated to Canada to find her.

Police allege the girl was abducted in 2008 by her mother, Helen Gavaghan, and spirited through three different countries in an attempt to stay hidden.

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The girl was discovered when Gavaghan’s suspicious behaviour sounded an alarm for a Montreal subway passenger, who then contacted police, said Christy Dzikowicz, director of the centre’s MissingKids.ca program.

The man did not recognize Pearl from any of the numerous photos of her distributed throughout the country, but contacted police two weeks ago after becoming worried about the way she was interacting with her mother.

“He thought that the mom was really clinging to the daughter and looking around very concerned and suspiciously,” Dzikowicz said from Winnipeg.

“I don’t think he really knew, he just had a sense that there was something wrong.”

Police investigated the call and immediately notified Pearl’s father, Henry Da Massa, that his child had been located. Da Massa was reunited with his daughter on Sept. 21.

“It was only when we got on the plane that I really knew we were coming home,” Da Massa said in an interview with the Manchester Evening News.

“It was the end of the mayhem and we could finally get back to normality.”

A Facebook page established to assist in the search has since erupted in public expressions of delight that Pearl has been found.

“Pearl is going to know that when her Daddy says he will do anything for her, that it won’t be an empty sentiment,” one reader wrote.

“Thank God you found her,” another said. “Worth shouting from the rooftops,” wrote a third.

The news marks the end of a difficult three-year saga for Da Massa, who had relocated to Toronto in 2010 in order to be more actively involved in the search for his daughter. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

The hunt for Pearl began in December 2008, when Gavaghan allegedly picked her daughter up from a daycare centre in Manchester and never returned.

A friend claimed mother and daughter were headed to India for a month’s vacation, but the pair were tracked to Cancun, Mexico. Three weeks later they crossed on foot into Laredo, Tex.

Little is known about the pair’s whereabouts through 2009, but friend and local pastor Doug Johnson Hatlem said they moved into a Toronto Catholic community early that year and remained for more than a year.

Johnson Hatlem said he came to know the family well under their assumed names of Dana and Belle Flaherty.

He called Gavaghan an excellent mother who provided exemplary care for both her child and others in the community, and who believed she was acting in the best interests of her daughter, he said.

“She was just wonderfully capable as a mother,” Johnson Hatlem said. Pearl, meanwhile, was on the receiving end of a “determined love and care and tenderness,” he added.

Dzikowicz said the girl was found in good health, but will likely face a difficult period as she adjusts back to normal life.

“Parental abduction is an extreme, extreme measure,” she said. “We were concerned about the level to which she’s been isolated, the fact that she hasn’t been enrolled in school and the things that we really expect for our children.”

In his interview, Da Massa said his daughter was told she no longer had a father and is working on reconnecting with parts of her past.

“We’ve had to go back to where we were three years ago and get used to each other again.”

Johnson Hatlem said the girl interacted frequently with local children and excelled in the home schooling she received.

“She was advanced in ways that she was able to keep up academically with my daughter, who was a couple of years older than her.”

Gavaghan, who is the subject of arrest and extradition warrants in the United Kingdom, is currently in custody in Montreal.

The Missing Children’s Society of Canada had posted a $10,000 reward for Da Massa’s safe return, but the offer expired, unclaimed, earlier this year.


Web of intrigue: Online posts point toward Ozzie Guillen becoming Marlins’ manager

MIAMI – Ozzie Guillen tweeted Tuesday that he was in town “ready to go” with the Florida Marlins, and the clubhouse buzz was all about the new manager.

One minor holdup: The Marlins had yet to confirm a deal, saving some suspense for the final day of the regular season Wednesday. But Guillen’s website eliminated much of the drama by leaking the news he has agreed to become the Marlins’ manager.

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A post Monday night quoted Guillen announcing he was Florida bound. The blog was taken down a short time later and replaced by a post that discussed Guillen’s departure from the Chicago White Sox, while making no mention of the Marlins.

On Tuesday afternoon Guillen tweeted: “Weird to be in miami in this time but very happy ready to go”.

That sounded fine to Marlins players.

“This should be a good thing,” catcher John Buck said. “It’s a step forward. It’s a commitment by the team showing we want to win. Part of that is getting a manager who has proven that.”

Guillen’s briefly posted blog item said he had hoped to spend his entire managerial career with the White Sox, where he won a World Series title in 2005.

“But there comes a point when you need to move on, and that point has come,” he was quoted as saying. “The Florida Marlins believe I am the right man for the job to bring another World Series to South Florida. …

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be a part of the Marlins organization. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for the Marlins, owner Jeffrey Loria, president Larry Beinfest, and general manager Michael Hill. I can’t thank them enough for this opportunity and look forward to the future. I can’t wait to get started!”

Florida manager Jack McKeon said Monday he planned to retire at the end of the season. Guillen announced his departure with the White Sox hours later, but said nothing about taking another job. Florida officials declined to comment.

The Marlins, who move into a new ballpark next spring, plan a big ceremony in conjunction with the final game at their current stadium Wednesday. There’s speculation they want to cap the occasion by introducing Guillen as manager, or they may do it at the new ballpark Thursday.

“All the pieces are coming together,” slugger Mike Stanton said. “We got the stadium, and we got the manager.”

Guillen had a year left on his contract, and White Sox general manager Ken Williams confirmed Tuesday that the club had an agreement with another team for compensation for the manager. But he did not identify the players involved and declined to say the Marlins were the other team.

“It isn’t a secret,” he said. “Out of respect for the desires for that particular organization, they did not want to be named so I am simply honouring that request.”

He also offered a diplomatic approach when asked if the Marlins were guilty of tampering in their courtship of Guillen.

“Listen, some things in this game you have to live in the grey area on,” Williams said, “and that will just have to be one of them.”

The buzz began more than a year ago that Guillen might be reunited with Loria in Miami, where he was McKeon’s third base coach with the 2003 World Series champions.

Guillen became the White Sox manager that November, and in eight season he had a record of 678-617. It was a sometimes stormy tenure, and when his recent quest for a contract extension was denied, he received permission to be released from his current deal.

The Marlins are staggering to a last-place finish in the NL East. With the team moving to a new home and making a push to become a contender, Loria has said he wants an experienced manager.

The outspoken, sometimes outrageous Guillen would be the Marlins’ fourth manager since early 2010, and his relationship with management could create some off-the-field excitement. Strong-willed Joe Girardi lasted only one season with Florida in 2006, clashed with Loria and others in the organization, and was fired shortly before being chosen NL manager of the year.

Several Marlins players said the tell-it-like-it-is skipper would be a good fit for the team.

“That’s probably something we need around here,” Stanton said. “Let us know, and don’t beat around the bush. It’s better than doing it behind your back. He’s going to come right to you.”

Left-fielder and Twitter sensation Logan Morrison was impressed to hear Guillen blogs along with tweeting, and does so in two languages.

“Now I need a blog, probably two,” Morrison said. “And I’ve got to learn a foreign language in the off-season. I’ll have to follow him. If I don’t, I might get fined.”

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AP Sports Writer Rick Gano in Chicago contributed to this report.


Saudi woman sentenced to 10 lashes for driving car, as religious establishment toughens stance

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CAIRO – A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom’s prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.

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Making Tuesday’s sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women’s rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.

The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.

Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday’s sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.

“Our king doesn’t deserve that,” said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, “The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction.”

The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina’s family, said she appealed the verdict.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

There are no written laws that restrict women from driving. Rather, the ban is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that hold giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.

Activists say the religious justification is irrelevant.

“How come women get flogged for driving while the maximum penalty for a traffic violation is a fine, not lashes?” Zein el-Abydeen said. “Even the Prophet (Muhammad’s) wives were riding camels and horses because these were the only means of transportation.”

Since June, dozens of women have led a campaign to try to break the taboo and impose a new status quo. The campaign’s founder, Manal al-Sherif, who posted a video of herself driving on Facebook, was detained for more than 10 days. She was released after signing a pledge not to drive or speak to media.

Since then, women have been appearing in the streets driving their cars once or twice a week.

Until Tuesday, none had been sentenced by the courts. But recently, several women have been summoned for questioning by the prosecutor general and referred to trial.

One of them, housewife Najalaa al-Harriri, drove only two times, not out of defiance, but out of need, she says.

“I don’t have a driver. I needed to drop my son off at school and pick up my daughter from work,” she said over the phone from the western port city of Jiddah.

“The day the king gave his speech, I was sitting at the prosecutor’s office and was asked why I needed to drive, how many times I drove and where,” she said. She is to stand trial in a month.

After the king’s announcement about voting rights for women, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdel Aziz Al Sheik blessed the move and said, “It’s for women’s good.”

Al-Harriri, who is one of the founders of a women’s rights campaign called “My Right My Dignity,” said, “It is strange that I was questioned at a time the mufti himself blessed the king’s move.”

Asked if the sentencing will stop women from driving, Maha al-Qahtani, another female activist, said, “This is our right, whether they like it or not.”


A second celebrity says ‘arrivederci’ to ‘Dancing With the Stars’

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Italian actress who romanced George Clooney has done her last dance on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Elisabetta Canalis was dismissed from the TV dance competition Tuesday, despite her third-place finish on Monday’s episode.

She and professional partner Val Chmerkovskiy earned 21 points out of 30 for their quickstep routine – a six point improvement over their debut dance. But fans failed to keep the couple in the competition.

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“For me, it was a gift every day staying here. It was a great adventure,” Canalis said after learning her fate. “I want to thank everybody because they made me come here. Thanks to the public and to everybody who voted for us. Now I am really nervous, but thank you anyway. It was a great experience.”

Canalis earned mixed reviews for her routine Monday. Head judge Len Goodman said the dance was “not great but it was better than last week,” while fellow judge Carrie Ann Inaba told the couple, “You nailed it.”

Judges’ scores are combined with viewer votes to determine which celebrity is ousted each week. Basketball star Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, was bounced from the ballroom last week.

Perhaps the most relieved to be returning was Chaz Bono, who came into Tuesday’s episode with the lowest score. He said Tuesday that he was “completely nervous” about the results and hoped he had performed well enough to continue in the competition.

“I did the best I could,” he said.

He collected 17 points Monday for a quickstep routine that judges said was just too slow.

“The bottom line is it’s a quickstep and I’ve moved faster through the car wash,” Goodman said.

Also back in the ballroom next week will be reality stars Rob Kardashian and Kristin Cavallari; TV personalities Ricki Lake, Carson Kressley and Nancy Grace; actors David Arquette and J.R. Martinez; singer Chynna Phillips and soccer star Hope Solo.

Tuesday’s episode also included musical performances by Demi Lovato and rock band The Script.

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Online:

杭州桑拿按摩论坛abc.go杭州夜网/shows/dancing-with-the-stars

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州夜网/APSandy.


Teacher backpacks Europe unaware of $21-million winning Lotto Max ticket

TORONTO – A Toronto-area teacher who backpacked through Europe and slept on couches this summer was unaware he had a winning $21-million Lotto Max ticket stuck to his fridge at home.

Craig Henshaw, 42, said Tuesday he bought the ticket at a gas station in July, pinned it to his fridge with a bunch of other tickets and left for Europe a few days later.

He forgot about the tickets over the summer. But once school started again, he realized he had a stack to check through.

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“I had no idea I had $21 million sitting on my fridge at home,” he said after being presented with an oversized cheque.

“I wouldn’t have been living out of a backpack for two months if I’d known (about the money)” he added.

Clad in a Hawaiian print shirt, Henshaw said he was ready to travel some more.

He plans to take his whole family on a trip and return to Europe with his girlfriend. But this time they won’t be sleeping on any couches, he said.

Henshaw said he spent a day walking around with the winning ticket in his pocket before checking it at a grocery store on the way home from work.

Initially believing he had won $21,000, he dropped his phone when a lottery official told him the ticket was in fact worth $21 million.

The wood shop and technology teacher called in sick Tuesday before claiming his prize at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming prize centre in Toronto.

“Surprise! I’m not really sick,” he joked in front of TV cameras.

“There’s no checkmark or box in the absence form that says ‘lottery winner,’” he explained.

“It just says ‘personal illness’ or ‘funeral’ – and this is way better than a funeral.”

The lucky numbers – a random “Quick Pick” combination – left Henshaw the only winner of the July 8 jackpot.

Henshaw said he’ll use some of his winnings to pay for his nieces’ and nephew’s post-secondary education, and possibly to get married to his girlfriend.

He plans to take a year off from teaching, but said he enjoys it too much to imagine a future without it.


Winnipeg Jets down Ottawa Senators 3-1 in East Coast pre-season game

ST. JOHN‘S, N.L. – The WinnipegJets thrilled a capacity crowd at the new home of their American Hockey League farm team with a 3-1 pre-season win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday. 

 

 

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Mark Scheifele and Troy Bodie scored a pair of unanswered goals in the second period for the Jets as the badly out-shot Senators struggled to respond. Ben Maxwell added the other goal for Winnipeg. 

 

 

Ottawa rallied and got on the board in the third period as Mika Zibanejad stuffed one in on Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec. 

 

 

Despite a lengthy power play in the third period on a fighting penalty taken by Winnipeg‘s Patrice Cormier, the Sens were not able to tie up the match and were outshot 36-28. 

 

 

The game was played before a packed house of 6,275 hockey-starved fans who will be cheering this season for the St. John’s IceCaps, the Winnipeg affiliate in the AHL. 

 

 

It’s the first time the city has had an AHL team since the St. John’s Maple Leafs left in 2005. 

 

 

The rare NHL spectacle on the Rock was as much a thrill as it was a happy coincidence. 

 

 

It just so happened that nearby Conception Bay South, N.L., won the chance to host the pre-season game as part of the annual Kraft Hockeyville contest. That hard-won victory nicely dovetailed with the move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, while the AHL’s Manitoba Moose became the St. John’s IceCaps. 

 

 

And for 25-year-old Senators forward Colin Greening, who grew up five minutes from Mile One Centre, the chance to play an NHL game in his hometown is a dream come true. 

 

 

“Hockey here is huge,” said the left winger, who debuted in Ottawa last season with six goals and seven assists in 24 games.  

 

 

“I know sometimes you forget about Newfoundland because we’re so far East and we have our own time zone, but hockey’s big here. Everyone’s born on skates.” 

 

 

“We’re proud Canadians, so it’s great to have Hockeyville here and to get another AHL team.” 


Egypt state media say 1st general election after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster to begin Nov. 28

CAIRO – Egypt’s ruling military decreed on Tuesday that the country’s first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster will begin Nov. 28, ending months of speculation on the timing of the key vote.

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The elections for parliament’s two chambers will be staggered over several months, with the vote for the People’s Assembly starting Nov. 28 and the less powerful Shura Council, the chamber’s upper house, on Jan. 29. The announcement by the ruling military council, which took over from Mubarak in February, was carried on the state news agency and television.

The last parliamentary election under Mubarak was held in November and December last year, when the ousted leader’s now-dissolved ruling party swept the vote, winning all but a handful of seats in the People’s Assembly.

The vote was widely condemned as the most fraudulent under Mubarak’s 29-year rule and considered one of the causes behind the 18-day popular uprising that forced him to step down on Feb. 11.

Egyptians went to the polls in March for a nationwide referendum on constitutional amendments. A decent turnout of more than 40 per cent and the absence of any serious instances of fraud led many to declare it Egypt’s cleanest vote in living memory.

Tuesday’s eagerly awaited announcement came at a time of tension between the military council and the pro-reform protest movement over the generals’ handling of the transition to democratic rule. The military rulers, in turn, claim some of the youth groups behind the Jan. 25-Feb. 11 uprising received training abroad and unauthorized foreign funding.

The protesters and a broad spectrum of politicians say the military has not acted decisively or swiftly enough to dismantle Mubarak’s legacy and bring figures of the old regime to account over corruption and other crimes. They also maintain that the generals ruled in near total secrecy and without consulting enough on major issues.


Budget officer says chances of missing balanced budget target higher

OTTAWA – The chances that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will miss his target to balance the budget by 2014-15 have increased because of a slowing economy, the parliamentary budget watchdog said Tuesday.

Kevin Page said projections done by his office earlier this year gave Flaherty a one-in-five chance of balancing the books by that deadline.

But since then, the outlook for the global and Canadian economies has worsened.

“It will be less likely now,” Page said of the chances Flaherty will have a balanced budget in three years.

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With recession fears growing in Europe and the U.S. economy still in the doldrums, Canada’s growth rate has been scaled back because the export sector is under pressure and demand is falling for many of the resources the country produces.

As well, the recent volatility on stock markets has eroded consumer confidence and made ordinary Canadians more reluctant to spend.

Slower growth generally means lower corporate and personal tax revenues for governments, squeezing their overall revenues and putting upward pressure on social spending. That makes it more difficult to eliminate the deficit.

Flaherty’s June budget forecast a 2011-2012 deficit of $32.2 billion for the current fiscal year, down from $36.3 billion last year.

The federal finance minister has said he would be looking to find $4 billion in annual savings in his plan to balance the budget by 2014-15.

But much of his plan depends on strong growth in the economy to boost revenues. So any shortfall means Ottawa would be forced to delay balancing the books or impose more stringent cuts to reduce spending,

Flaherty spokesman Chisholm Pothier said the government is committed to returning to a balanced budget and is supporting that goal with a review aimed at eliminating ineffective government spending.

“We’re making progress on that and will report the results in Budget 2012. We will present updated economic and fiscal projections later this fall,” Pothier said in an email.

Page commented on the deficit as he released a report that found spending by the federal government in its first quarter was generally in line with the plan set out in the budget.

However, the global economic upheaval has raised questions about the government’s budget due to slower than expected growth around the world and the affect that will have on the revenue side of the equation.

“I don’t think people anticipated just how flat world growth would be in the first half of 2011, particularly in the U.S.,” Page said.

“I don’t think people anticipated the policy shock that came from that debt limit debate and just watching it play out week by week in Europe over sovereign credit issues.”

The report Tuesday found that total spending by the federal government for the quarter rose one per cent to almost $60 billion for the quarter compared with a year ago.

Meanwhile, operating spending in the quarter was up roughly four per cent compared with a year ago to nearly $12 billion, boosted in part by the spring election and census.

“We’re going to watch that,” Page said of the growth in spending.

Capital spending and transfer payments, excluding major statutory transfers such as old age security and the Canada Health Transfer, were down compared with a year ago due to the wind down of the government’s stimulus program.

Capital spending amounted to about $400 million for the quarter, down from over $600 million a year earlier due to a planned decrease, while the non-major transfers totalled about $7 billion, down six per cent.

Spending on internal services, which includes communications, financial management, human resources and information technology totalled $2.4 billion for the quarter.


Doritos backing a 6th annual contest to create a Super Bowl commercial

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The football season just started, but Doritos is already thinking about the Super Bowl.

The snack chip brand is going to have its sixth annual “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which allows U.S. viewers to submit their own Doritos commercials and fans to vote on their favourites to appear during the big game.

If the ads score well on the USA Today Ad Meter, which measures the popularity of Super Bowl commercials, contestants win cash prizes of up to US$1 million.

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This year, Doritos has added a twist: It has enlisted Andy Samberg, a comedian on the popular “Saturday Night Live” program, and The Lonely Island, a creative team that consists of Samberg and two childhood friends, to create an ad to compete in the contest.

If their ad wins, they’ll donate the prize money to charity. If they don’t, they’ll work with the winners on a future yet-to-be-determined Doritos project.

“I see this year as really us raising the stakes a little bit,” said Tony Matta, vice-president of marketing. Instead of just cash and recognition, he says winners will get “a career-changing opportunity.”

The Super Bowl is advertising’s largest showcase; the football championship garnered a record 111 million viewers in the U.S. when it aired on Fox in February, according to Nielsen.

In order to get more bang for their buck – a Super Bowl ad costs about $3 million per 30 seconds – marketers are increasingly seeking ways to promote their advertising online and get publicity before and after the big game.

“The challenge for marketers today is to really engage consumers using both traditional and new forms of media,” said Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“Crash the Super Bowl” has been Doritos’ way to create buzz. The brand, which is made by PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay division, saw video submissions for the contest increase 38 per cent to 5,600 for the most recent game played earlier this year. The contest finalists’ videos were viewed 22 million times. Doritos also saw a 30 per cent increase in Twitter activity and a 25 per cent increase in Facebook activity during the contest.

This year, they’re amping it up by teaming with the partnership The Lonely Island. The team, which also includes Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, wrote, directed and appeared in a series of popular digital shorts for “Saturday Night Live” with Justin Timberlake. The team also wrote and shot a music video for a song called “I’m on a Boat,” which was nominated for a Grammy.

Samberg said The Lonely Island agreed to work on the campaign in part because the Super Bowl is “such a large stage,” and he added “we just thought it was cool that young filmmakers get an opportunity to get that break.”

So far, winners of the contest have garnered some commercial work but there has been no breakout success story yet. The winners from the telecast earlier this year, Tess Ortbals and J.R. Burningham, started their own company, Mythmakers Entertainment, to pursue commercial work after creating an ad that took the stop spot on the Ad Meter.

That ad, “Pug Attack” shows a man mocking a dog with a bag of Doritos through a glass door. The pug then knocks down the door and eats the chips.

The first $1-million winners, Joe and Dave Herbert, brothers who won the contest in 2009, have gone on to direct several beverage spots and have shot several Web commercials. They’re also developing a feature film.

Matta said the goal is to one day launch a winner who can capitalize on the break and become a big-name director. “I would love in two or three years from now for the winner of this year’s program be directing or producing major motion picture film, that is true success,” he said.

U.S. participants can enter the contest this year by submitting a 30-second Doritos ad at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活crashthesuperbowl杭州夜网 between Oct. 3 and Nov. 21. Five finalists will be announced in January 2012, ahead of NBC’s Feb. 5, 2012 Super Bowl XLVI broadcast.

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On the Web: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活crashthesuperbowl杭州夜网


Judge blocks showing of Michael Jackson’s press conference at upcoming manslaughter trial

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Jurors in the upcoming trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor won’t see a recording of a press conference by the singer promoting his final concerts, a judge ruled Monday.

Defence attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray had wanted to show the footage, claiming it showed Jackson wasn’t healthy and had only committed to 10 shows. By the time of his death, the singer had been committed to 50 shows at London’s O2 arena.

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Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled the March 2009 press conference wasn’t relevant to the involuntary manslaughter case against Murray, which will focus on the pop superstar’s final weeks and hours.

Defence attorney Nareg Gourjian said that according to promoters of the shows, Jackson’s press conference was delayed 90 minutes because the singer was passed out and appeared to be “hung over.”

“We believe that it’s readily apparent from watching the video that Mr. Jackson was under the influence,” Gourjian said.

Pastor said showing the footage would be prejudicial and the defence’s request included speculation that should not be shown to jurors.

The judge also blocked prosecutors from mentioning efforts by investigators to speak to Murray after his initial interview with police days after Jackson’s June 2009 death.

The rulings were some of the final bits of housekeeping before opening statements, set for Tuesday.

Murray has pleaded not guilty. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted and the loss of his medical license.

Authorities contend the Houston-based cardiologist gave Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. Murray first disclosed he had been giving Jackson the anesthetic in the bedroom of the singer’s rented mansion during his interview with police.

Murray’s lead defence attorney Ed Chernoff disputed whether authorities left messages seeking another interview with the physician. Ultimately, Pastor determined attempts to contact Murray through his counsel should not be brought up during the trial.

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.