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Heartthrob actor George Clooney is to marry his British lawyer fiancee Amal Alamuddin in Venice in a "couple of weeks", according to news reports confirmed in part by his spokesman.

The US actor's spokesman confirmed the wedding venue but not the date after Clooney let slip his plans to marry the human rights attorney in the picture-postcard Italian city.

"I met my lovely bride-to-be here in Italy, whom I will be marrying in a couple of weeks, in Venice of all places," People magazine quoted him as saying at an awards ceremony Sunday in Florence.

Reports suggested they could tie the knot on September 26, but the A-list actor's spokesman Stan Rosenfield played this down, telling AFP: "He did not give a specific date.

 

 

"I can only confirm that he is getting married in Venice," he said.

During Sunday's event, the couple appeared very much in love, according to celebrity bible People.

Clooney put his arm around her shoulder and carefully brushed her hair back whenever her "flowing locks" fell out of place as she laughed.

Oscar-winning Clooney, one of Hollywood's most sought-after bachelors, announced in April that he was engaged to his then 36-year-old girlfriend.

News that Alamuddin had stolen 53-year-old Clooney's heart caused a global media frenzy and furious speculation about when they would wed.

They had come out as a couple last October in London, and since have been seen together in New York and on trips to Tanzania and the Seychelles.

Clooney was married to US actress Talia Balsam for four years between 1989 and 1993 but has shown little interest in settling down since, instead going through a string of younger model and actress girlfriends over the years.

 

 

 

 

 

The liberation of the bar of the Ritz Hotel in Paris by the writer Ernest Hemingway 70 years ago, as the French capital was freed from its Nazi occupiers, is the stuff of legend.

Hemingway, a war correspondent for the American "Collier's" magazine who went on to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1954, was embedded with US 4th Division troops that landed on the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944.

Over the next two months he stuck with the foot soldiers as they marched towards Paris in support of the French 2nd Armoured Division, which entered the capital on August 25.

Hemingway had a special attachment to the luxurious Ritz hotel, and its bar, where he had spent a great deal of time before the war.

 

 

When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz," Hemingway was to say.

"He did not talk about anything else," one Resistance fighter said, but "to be the first American in Paris and liberate the Ritz."

Hemingway managed, using his name and with the help of the American army commanded by US General George S. Patton, to wrangle a meeting with French commander General Philippe Leclerc.

His request: to be given enough men to go and liberate the Ritz's bar.

To the writer's surprise he got a frosty reception and was dismissed.

But Hemingway persevered and on August 25, dressed in his correspondent's uniform, he arrived in a commandeered jeep with a machine gun and a group of Resistance fighters at the hotel, on Paris' lovely Place Vendome.

 

 

 

He burst into the hotel and announced that he had come to personally liberate it and its bar, which had been requisitioned in June 1940 by the Nazis and occupied by German dignitaries, including on occasion Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels.

The manager of the hotel, Claude Auzello, approached him and Hemingway asked: "Where are the Germans? I have come to liberate the Ritz."

"Monsieur," he replied, "They left a long time ago. And I can not let you enter with a weapon."

Hemingway put the gun in the jeep and came back to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis.

According to his brother, Leicester Hemingway, the writer searched the cellar with his men, taking two prisoners and finding an excellent stock of brandy.

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar-winning movie star Sandra Bullock was the best paid actress in Hollywood over the past year, Forbes magazine reported, putting her estimated earnings at some $51 million.

Bullock, 50, won an Academy Award in 2010 for her turn in the football drama "The Blind Side."

Her big payday over the past 12 months is largely thanks to her work in the hit film "Gravity," for which she received a best actress Oscar nomination.

The film, a festival of special effects, is about an astronaut's struggle to survive in orbit after the space shuttle is destroyed.

 

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Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered a cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome where they believe the variety of tombs found reflects the bustling town's multi-cultural nature.

Ostia "was a town that was always very open, very dynamic," said Paola Germoni, the director of the sprawling site -- Italy's third most visited after the Colosseum and Pompeii.

"What is original is that there are different types of funeral rites: burials and cremations," she said this week.

The contrasts are all the more startling as the tombs found are all from a single family -- "in the Roman sense, in other words very extended", Germoni said.

The discovery is the latest surprise at Ostia after archaeologists in April said that new walls found showed the town was in fact 35-percent bigger than previously thought, making it bigger than ancient Pompeii.

Ostia, which was founded in the 7th century BC and is believed to have covered an area of 85 hectares, was once at the estuary of the Tiber River and is now about three kilometres (two miles) from the sea because of silting.

The place where the latest burials were found is inside a 15,000 square metre park close to a Renaissance castle on the edge of the main excavated area of the town, which had docks, warehouses, apartment houses and its own theatre.

The port was founded by Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome, to provide his growing city with access to the sea, ensuring it would be supplied with flour and salt and to prevent enemy ships from going up the Tiber.

Around a dozen tombs have been found so far at the site, some of them including lead tablets with inscriptions containing curses to ward off potential looters.

The cemetery "shows the free choice that everyone had with their own body, a freedom people no longer had in the Christian era when burial became the norm," Germoni said.

 

 

Samsung said Monday it temporarily suspended business with one of its suppliers in China over the suspected use of child workers, following criticism that its monitoring of illegal labour practices was ineffective.

The South Korean electronics giant launched an investigation into the Dongguan Shinyang Electronics Co. after the rights monitoring group China Labor Watch (CLW) reported the factory was employing workers under the age of 16.

"Following the investigation, Samsung decided to temporarily suspend business with the factory in question as it found evidence of suspected child labor at the worksite," the company said in a statement.

Samsung said the Chinese authorities were also looking into the case, and added that if it was proved the factory hired children illegally the business suspension would become permanent.

"Furthermore, Samsung will strengthen its hiring process not only at its production facilities but also at its suppliers to prevent such case from reoccurring," it said.

The company stressed that it maintained a "zero-tolerance" policy on child labour and conducted regular inspections of its suppliers to ensure its implementation.

"It is unfortunate that the (CLW) allegation surfaced despite Samsung's efforts," it said.

In its report, the New York-based watchdog had cited other violations at the same factory, including unpaid overtime wages, excessive overtime and a lack of social insurance and training.

Samsung said it had audited Dongguan Shinyang Electronics three times since 2013, including an inspection last month.

The executive director of China Labor Watch, Li Qiang, challenged Samsung's commitment, saying its monitoring system was ineffective.

"Samsung's social responsibility reports are just advertisements," Li said.

 

- 'Inadequate' labour practices -

 

Samsung has put its energy into audits and the production of these reports, but these things are meant to appease investors and do not have any real value for workers," he added.

The world's largest maker of mobile phones and flat-screen TVs has more than 200 suppliers in China and there have been repeated allegation over working practices in recent years.

A previous CLW report published in 2012 claimed workers at some plants were required to put in excessive overtime and could not sit down while working.

It also reported that one supplier, HEG Electronics in Huizhou, had hired children aged under 16.

 

 

 

 

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, who has been in trouble with the law in recent months, got two years of probation in Los Angeles Wednesday over an egg-throwing attack.

The teen idol did not appear in court. His attorneys entered a no contest plea on his behalf on a single misdemeanor vandalism charge before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Leland Harris.

In addition to the probation, the singe was ordered to complete five days of community service and an anger management program.

He must also reimburse $80,900 of repairs performed on the home of his neighbor in the upscale neighborhood of Calabasas, where many celebrities live. And the singer was ordered to stay away from the neighbor and his family for two years.

Assistant District Attorney Alan Yochelson said Bieber's prank was an "extremely immature and silly act."

Another hearing was set for August 12.

Police had said soon after the attack they would be investigating felony charges against Bieber.

The January incident was just one in a long line of controversial headlines which have tarnished the once clean-cut image of Bieber, who has sold more than 12 million albums since emerging on the music scene in 2009 as a schoolboy sensation.

The 20-year-old star is also facing charges in Florida over an illegal street race in his Lamborghini in Miami Beach on January 23.

He has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence of substances, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license.

And in Canada, he is accused of assaulting a limousine driver last year.

Toronto police have accused Bieber of hitting a limousine driver "several times" over the back of the head. The car had picked him and five others up from a nightclub in the city in the early hours of December 30.

 

 

 

 

Jury service can be an arduous, nerve-wracking duty for many US citizens, but when you're Madonna it's a two-hour wait before being sent home as a "distraction."

The pop icon turned up at the New York Supreme Court on Monday, accompanied by her own beefy bodyguards, after being summoned to jury duty along with hundreds of ordinary New Yorkers.

She arrived at 10 am -- an hour later than everyone else -- and was relieved of her civic responsibility after officials decided that her superstar celebrity was a hindrance rather than a help.

"She got a jury summons and she came to do jury duty and I think that in itself is a good thing," New York courts spokesman David Bookstaver told AFP.

"It says to everyone that everyone gets called, and when you get called you have to show up."

The pop star posted a picture from the court house on instagram with the caption "Serving my country! Reporting to jury selection! #itshotinhere," raking up more than 21,700 likes.

She was photographed by New York Daily News walking up the steps of the imposing court building dressed in a black pant suit, a patterned scarf and her eyes shielded by large dark glasses.

 

 

 

 

A bridge in Paris famed for the thousands of "locks of love" that controversially line its railings has reopened after it was urgently closed when part of a padlock-laden barrier collapsed, authorities said Monday.

Thousands of couples from across the world visit the picturesque Pont des Arts every year and seal their love by attaching a padlock to its railing and throwing the key into the Seine.

But this tradition has become controversial as critics say it causes damage to the structure in central Paris.

On Sunday evening, police were forced to hurriedly evacuate the footbridge after two and a half metres (eight feet) of railing collapsed under the weight of the tokens of affection.

The city council said Monday that the bridge that spans the Seine near the Louvre museum reopened later on Sunday evening.

"The two railings that collapsed were temporarily replaced by wooden planks," Bruno Julliard, a deputy mayor in charge of cultural affairs, told AFP.

 

 

 

An oil painting sold at a Spanish antique shop over two decades ago for around 150 euros ($200) has been certified as Salvador Dali's first Surrealist work which he painted as a teenager, art experts said Thursday.

Tomeu L'Amo, a painter and art historian, found the canvas at a store in Girona in northeastern Spain in 1988 and suspecting it was a work by Dali he paid 25,000 pesetas, Spain's currency at the time, for it.

"I was very happy. I felt like a kid in a candy store," he told a news conference in Madrid to discuss the conclusions of art experts who have studied the work.

"When I saw its colours I suspected it was a Dali. That was my opinion but I did not have proof. I investigated and little by little I realised it was a Dali."

"The Intrautirine Birth of Salvador Dali", which depicts angels floating in the sky over a volcano, bears the Spanish artist's signature below a short dedication.

It was dismissed for years as the work of an unknown artist because the signature includes the date 1896 -- eight years before Dali was born.

But after subjecting the painting to the latest high-tech tests -- including infrared photography, X-rays and ultraviolet radiation -- between 2004 and 2013 art experts have concluded that it is indeed the work of Dali and was made around 1921 when he was 17-years-old.

The work employs thick brushstrokes with the figures defined by strokes of black and blue pencil, a technique frequently used by Dali, said Carmen Linares, the head of the conservation department at Barcelona's Frederic Mares Museum.

"Infrared photography has improved the visualisation of the black lines thus confirming the use of this technique which is also used in other works by the artist," she said.

 

 

 

 

 

US online entertainment powerhouse Netflix announced what it called significant expansion into Europe, promising viewers in six countries online video by the end of the year.

Already a fixture in parts of northern Europe, the digital television and film streaming star said it would offer monthly subscriptions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

It did not reveal prices, but a report in French daily Le Figaro indicated that Netflix would be in France by mid-September with a subscription plan of less than 10 euros (13 dollars) per month.

"Upon launch, broadband users in these countries can subscribe to Netflix and instantly watch a curated selection of Hollywood, local and global TV series and movies," Netflix said in a release.

Netflix also touted the availability of its growing selection of original programming such as prison comedy-drama "Orange is the New Black" and political thriller "House of Cards."

 

 

Such shows will be streamed to televisions, tablets, smartphones, video game consoles or computers.

Since it launched its streaming service in 2007, Netflix has become the world's leading Internet television network, boasting more than 48 million members in more than 40 countries.

- Billion hours streamed -

Netflix says it streams more than a billion hours, collectively, of digital films and television shows to online viewers each month.

Netflix launched its service in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in 2012, and moved into the Netherlands the following year.

Households interested in subscribing to Netflix when it launches in the new batch of European countries were invited to sign up for email alerts at netflix.com.

In April, Netflix reported that revenue during the first three months of this year breached a billion dollars atop growing membership.