Daily Archives: March 15, 2015

U.S. rock band Toto's longtime bassist Mike Porcaro dies

Members of the rock band Toto pose after placing their handprints in cement as they were inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk May 4 in Hollywood. FSP/JP - RTROTKU

Members of the rock band Toto pose after placing their handprints in cement as they were inducted into Hollywood’s RockWalk May 4 in Hollywood. FSP/JP – RTROTKU

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n”>(Reuters) – Mike Porcaro, the longtime bassist for Grammy Award-winning U.S. rock band Toto, died on Sunday morning, his brother and fellow band member said in a brief statement. He was 59.

The band said in February 2010 that Porcaro had been diagnosed with ALS, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and that it planned to tour to generate funds to support his care and to raise awareness about the disease.

“Our brother Mike passed away peacefully in his sleep at 12:04 a.m. last night at home surrounded by his family. Rest in peace, my brother,” Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro wrote on Facebook. He provided no additional information.

Toto, formed in California in the late 1970s, is best known for such hits as “Hold the Line,” “Rosanna” and “Africa.”

The band won a Grammy for best album in 1982 for Toto IV, after which Porcaro toured for that album, replacing bassist Mike Hungate. Porcaro left the band in 2007, the band said.

“My brother Mike Porcaro is now at peace. I will miss him more than I could ever put into words,” Toto guitarist Steve Lukather wrote on Twitter. “My deepest love to the family.”

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Over 1 million Brazilians protest Rousseff, economy, corruption

Demonstrators attend a protest against Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in Manaus
(Reuters) – Over one million demonstrators marched in cities and towns across Brazil on Sunday to protest a sluggish economy, rising prices and corruption – and to call for the impeachment of leftist President Dilma Rousseff.

The marches across the continent-sized country come as Brazil struggles to overcome economic and political malaise and pick up the pieces of a boom that crumbled once Rousseff took office in 2011.

Rousseff, now early into her second four-year term, is unlikely to resign or face the impeachment proceedings called for by many opponents. A fifth year of economic stagnation and a multibillion dollar corruption scandal at state-run energy company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras has fueled their anger.

But for a president narrowly re-elected just five months ago, the protests are a sign of a polarized country increasingly unhappy with its leadership. Rousseff has recently been jeered at public appearances and Brazilians in some cities banged pots during a televised speech she made earlier this month.

Sunday’s larger than expected demonstrations also promise to embolden opposition parties and restive allies who are nominally part of Rousseff’s ruling coalition, but nonetheless hindering efforts, along with staunch leftists in her own party, to pass reforms intended to help jumpstart the economy.

In a statement posted online Sunday, Aecio Neves, a centrist who was defeated by Rousseff in October and is the leader of Brazil’s main opposition party, said the demonstrations marked a day when Brazilians “went to the streets to reunite with their virtues, their values and also with their dreams.”

Rousseff in a statement Saturday said that she supported the rights of the marchers. She said she hoped the demonstrations, timed to coincide with the thirty year anniversary of the end of a two-decade military dictatorship, would illustrate Brazil’s “democratic maturity.”

Indeed, Sunday’s gatherings were mostly calm and festive, with little of the violence that tarnished a wave of massive demonstrations in 2013, when Brazilians protested billions of dollars of spending, even as the economy stumbled, to host the 2014 World Cup of soccer.

But if less vehement, the rallies Sunday surprisingly matched those of two years ago in scale. In Sao Paulo alone, more than a million people, according to state police, weathered a drizzle to march along skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista, the heart of Brazil’s financial capital and biggest city by late afternoon.

“People feel betrayed, said Diogo Ortiz, a 32-year-old advertising worker, who called the ongoing scandal at Petrobras “a national and international disgrace.”

Earlier, thousands of residents of Rio de Janeiro poured onto the Copacabana waterfront of Brazil’s second-largest city. Most dressed in the blue, green and yellow of Brazil’s flag. Crowds sang the national anthem and shouted “Dilma, Out!”

Many protesters hail from the country’s wealthier classes, who traditionally oppose the ruling Workers’ Party.

Underscoring class divisions, marchers said Rousseff and the ruling party have instigated the polarization by trying to pit their traditional supporters, the recipients of popular social welfare programs, against the rest of Brazil.

The party “is inciting the people against the people,” said Helena Alameda Prado Bastos, a 61-year-old editor in Sao Paulo.

The Workers’ Party, opponents complain, for too long ignored critiques that its heavy spending, subsidized lending, protectionist policies and corruption have sapped the vitality that led to average growth exceeding 4 percent during the decade before she took office.

Although the party also presided over those good years, during two terms of Rousseff’s mentor and predecessor, economists say she failed to adjust policies when a global commodities boom ended and sapped once-soaring export revenue.

So grim are Brazil’s prospects that many economists expect it to slip into recession this year. Inflation is running at a ten-year high, while Brazil’s currency, the real, has lost over 22 percent of its value against the dollar this year.

Rousseff supporters held rallies of their own on Friday, though demonstrators numbered far fewer than Sunday’s.

(Additional reporting by Caroline Stauffer, Pedro Fonseca, Anthony Boadle and Maria Carolina Marcello; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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Prevent ‘left-wing’ government, Netanyahu tells campaign rally

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a right-wing rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a right-wing rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square March 15, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

(Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, trailing in opinion polls two days before a parliamentary election, on Sunday implored right-wing voters to turn out and “stop a left-wing government from coming to power.”

Speaking to a rally of thousands of supporters of Israel’s right-wing parties from behind a bulletproof screen at Tel Aviv’s main square, Netanyahu warned that the right-wing government he leads could be voted out of office.

“Our rivals are investing a huge effort to harm me and the Likud, to open a gap between my party, the Likud, and (our rivals), and if we don’t close this gap, there is a real danger that a left-wing government will rise to power,” Netanyahu said.

Final opinion polls published on Friday predicted the center-left Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni would take between 24 and 26 seats in Tuesday’s vote, compared to 20-22 seats for Likud.

No single party has ever won an outright majority in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset and the party leader with the best chance of forming a coalition would lead the new government.

While admitting he is trailing in the polls, Netanyahu is hoping that right-wing parties can narrow the gap sufficiently for him to be nominated by Israel’s president to form the next coalition and win a fourth term as prime minister.

Earlier on Sunday, he publicly offered the Finance Ministry portfolio to Moshe Kahlon, a potential king-making rival from a newly formed centrist party. But Kahlon dismissed the offer as pre-election spin.

Even if Likud is outnumbered, Netanyahu is counting on a larger right-wing bloc to support his bid for another term and Kahlon, with around 10 seats in the polls, could tilt things in his favor.

After realizing he was trailing his opponents in the polls, Netanyahu launched a media blitz to counter the apparent rising tide of support for the Zionist Union, his main opponent.

“This is a fateful struggle, a close struggle, we must close the gap, it is possible to close this gap,” Netanyahu told the cheering crowd holding banners and waving flags. Unofficial estimates put the turnout at 15,000-30,000.

“Most of the public do not want (Livni and Herzog) as prime ministers of Israel and want to see me continuing as the leader of the country and prime minister,” he asserted.

Netanyahu’s campaign focus on security issues and the threat from Iran’s nuclear program has failed to inspire voters, who consistently say that economic issues, including soaring house prices and the high cost of living, are their chief concerns.

(Reporting by Amir Cohen and Baz Ratner, writing by Ori Lewis and Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Kevin Liffey)

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West hopes for Iran concessions in nuclear talks

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa greets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh
(Reuters) – Western powers are hoping for concessions from Tehran that could help clinch a political agreement in nuclear talks this week after the United States and European powers voiced a willingness to compromise on suspending U.N. sanctions, officials said.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had been due to meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, later on Sunday to try to break the logjam ahead of a crucial round of talks between Iran and six major powers.

But a senior U.S. State Department official later said that meeting would be delayed until Monday due to extensive U.S.-Iranian consultations earlier on Sunday between nuclear and Foreign Ministry officials.

Kerry has urged Iran to take decisions now to enable them to clinch a political framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Tehran that would lift sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program ahead of an end-March deadline. The parties have set a June 30 deadline to finalize an accord.

“Serious gaps still remain,” Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted by Iran’s ISNA student news agency as saying. “We have had progress in the recent talks and during this round of talks we will see whether more progress can be achieved.”

“We hope to narrow the gaps on important disputes,” he added.

Kerry told CBS news on Saturday he hoped “in the next days” it would be possible to reach an interim political deal with Iran if Tehran can show that its nuclear power program is for peaceful purposes only.

It is not yet clear when the talks between Iran and the six powers will begin in Lausanne.

Reuters reported last week that the United States and five other powers and Iran have begun talking about a possible draft resolution to endorse any future deal and address the lifting of U.N. sanctions. The U.N. penalties could be eased quickly in the event of an agreement, Western officials said.

Officials close to the talks said this was a major new concession on the part of the United States, which had long insisted that U.N. sanctions would remain in place for years to come after a nuclear deal was signed, while unilateral U.S. and European measures might be lifted more swiftly.

“This was a quite a shift in the U.S. position and we hope the Iranians will follow with concessions on their end,” a Western official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “So far the concessions have been mostly one-sided, though there has been some limited progress recently.”


Iranian officials have privately welcomed the new position on U.N. sanctions in the talks on the part of the United States and France. Diplomats say the other members of six power group back the idea of a swift suspension of U.N. nuclear sanctions if there is a deal, though they caution that many U.N. restrictions would stay in place.

“Iran knows that it will not happen overnight, but the fact that it is being discussed at the (six powers’) capitals and having a resolution is a sign of their willingness to resolve the issue,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

Iran, which rejects Western allegations it wants an atomic weapons capability, wants the U.N., EU and US sanctions lifted all at once. A nuclear accord that ends the decade-long standoff with Iran is seen as crucial to reducing tensions in the region.

Officials on both sides of the talks said it will be very difficult to get a political agreement this week. Iranian officials say that a signed agreement this week is unlikely, though they do not rule out some kind of verbal understanding.

Some eight U.N. resolutions dating back as far as 2006, four of them imposing sanctions, demand that Iran freeze uranium enrichment and other sensitive atomic work. They also bar the country from buying and selling atomic technology and anything linked to ballistic missiles. There is also a U.N. arms embargo.

In his CBS interview, Kerry also redoubled his criticism of Republicans, who said that seeking U.N. Security Council resolutions that endorse any deal and lift U.N. sanctions before seeking approval of Republican-led Congress would be wrong.

He said a letter from 47 Republicans to Iran’s leadership warning that any deal with President Barack Obama bypassing the Senate would not be binding and could be rescinded later was an unprecedented intrusion on executive authority.

Kerry voiced the hope that the letter would not undermine the negotiations in Lausanne.

The State Department said on Friday that any lifting of U.N. sanctions would not impact unilateral U.S. sanctions or limit Washington’s ability to take action on its own against Iran in the future.

(Additional reporting by Lesely Wroughton; Editing by Giles Elgood and Alison Williams)

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Gay rainbow banners make debut at Boston St Paddy’s parade

Gay rights advocates prepare to march in an equality parade immediately after the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston
(Reuters) – For the first time in the 114-year history of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, gay rights activists marched openly on Sunday under rainbow banners in the city’s annual celebration of its Irish heritage, after organizers lifted a longtime ban.


Two groups, Boston Pride and OutVets, were among dozens of contingents taking part in the parade through the center of South Boston, once an insular Irish-American neighborhood near downtown that has undergone gentrification in recent years.

“South Boston is more diverse then it’s ever been and our inclusion is a testament to change in the neighborhood,” said Sylvain Bruno, president of Boston Pride, as he waited to march.

Organizers had excluded gay groups for two decades, maintaining that homosexuality conflicted with Roman Catholic doctrine. But they came under intense pressure to change their position, which ran counter to the liberal attitudes that prevail in Massachusetts. The state was the first in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.

“Finally in the city of Boston we’re seeing the inclusivity we never thought we would see,” said Bryan Bishop, the 46-year-old founder of OutVets, representing gay military veterans. “This is personally one of the greatest days of my life.”

The Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston, which organizes the event, shortened the parade route by about half this year, after the city’s near-record snowfall in recent weeks made it difficult to clear roads.

“I’m always proud of my city, but I’m especially proud today” said Liz Palmer, a 23-year-old student watching the parade with friends under overcast skies.

The lifting of the ban was not without controversy. The Massachusetts contingent of Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization, pulled out of the parade on Friday, calling the event “politicized and divisive.”

Mayor Martin Walsh, who last year skipped the parade because of its exclusion of gay groups, was marching on Sunday, becoming the first mayor to do so in 20 years.

Boston’s mayors have stayed away since 1995, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the organizers to ban participants identifying themselves as homosexual.

“With this year’s parade, Boston is putting years of controversy behind us,” Walsh said in a statement.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will boycott his city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade again this year because its organizers have allowed only a single gay rights group to march.

(Editing By Frank McGurty and Frances Kerry)

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Top U.S. Republican lawmaker to launch investigation of Clinton emails: ABC

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) returns to his office after a visit to the House floor for procedural votes for legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security at the Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) returns to his office after a visit to the House floor for procedural votes for legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security at the Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) – The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to announce an investigation this week into Hillary Clinton’s use of email when she led the State Department, ABC News reported on Sunday.

ABC’s “This Week” said that top Republicans briefed the program about Speaker John Boehner’s plan to investigate Clinton’s use of her personal email address when she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013

However, the network did not state whether the probe would be separate from an ongoing House investigation and additional actions being considered by an oversight committee.

Clinton’s failure to use a government email address has sparked a storm of criticism even as she lays the groundwork for an expected 2016 presidential bid. At a news conference last Tuesday, she said her private email address was a “convenience” so she would not have to carry two mobile devices.

Also on Tuesday, Clinton’s office released a detailed document about her email use and the steps she had taken to provide relevant official emails to the State Department.

Clinton sent and received 62,320 emails while at the State Department, and after a review process, 30,490 official emails were provided to the department and 31,830 were withheld as private and personal records, the document said.

Clinton’s attorneys used key search terms, such as official government account addresses and countries relevant to ongoing congressional probes, to identify official emails, according to the document.

These search was conducted in addition to reading every single email, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill confirmed Sunday.

Clinton’s use of a personal email address first surfaced as congressional panels investigated the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.

Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, the head of a House committee examining Benghazi, has said he would like Clinton to testify before Congress by April, when she is expected to formally launch her presidential campaign.

Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, who chairs an oversight committee on government reform, said last week that his panel would cooperate with Gowdy’s and “continue looking into this matter.”

Boehner’s office declined to comment on the ABC News report. A Gowdy representative said that its Benghazi probe would continue.

Gowdy told “Fox News Sunday” that there are “huge gaps” in the Clinton email record provided to the committee.

“I just can’t trust her lawyers to make the determination that the public is getting everything they’re entitled to,” Gowdy said.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Frances Kerry and Christian Plumb)

Source: Newsjyoti Politics

Sam Smith achieves UK music charts double

Sam Smith receives the award for British Breakthrough Act at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Sam Smith receives the award for British Breakthrough Act at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, February 25, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

(Reuters) – British singer-songwriter Sam Smith secured a UK music charts double on Sunday, topping both the singles and album chart simultaneously, the Official Charts Company said.

Smith’s collaboration with John Legend, “Lay Me Down”, in aid of charity Comic Relief, debuted at number one in the singles chart, his fourth chart-topping track in less than two years.

Meanwhile his debut album “In The Lonely Hour” returned to the top of the charts for an eighth week, making it the first album by a male solo artist in charts history to achieve six different spells at number one.

It finished more than 12,000 sales ahead of this week’s highest new entry, second-placed “Rebel Heart” by Madonna. Ed Sheeran’s “X” was a non-mover in third.

In the singles chart, British electronica trio Years and Years slipped one spot to second place with “King”, while Flo Rida featuring Sage the Gemini was a new entry at three with “GDFR”.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Man behind women's comedy, Paul Feig gears up for 'Ghostbusters'

Director Paul Feig attends the opening of Hollywood Costume held at the future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Director Paul Feig attends the opening of Hollywood Costume held at the future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles October 1, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Phil McCarten

(Reuters) – When Sony Pictures announced this month plans for another “Ghostbusters” film with male leads, no one was more surprised than Paul Feig, the writer-director of the studio’s reboot of the classic comedy franchise with an all-female cast.

“It was a surprise,” said Feig. “That threw me, I will say.”

Feig is about to embark on his re-imagining of the 1984 cult comedy with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones – all part of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” family – due for release in 2016.

But even before production begins, Sony has plowed ahead with plans for a second movie for the following year with Channing Tatum as a lead and Anthony and Joe Russo to direct.

“It’s a giant franchise and it’s a big world,” Feig told Reuters this weekend at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW)Festival. “I completely understand wanting to create this whole (franchise) just like ‘Star Wars’ has. But for me, all I can concentrate on is my ladies and how much we’re going to kick ass.”

At the festival showcasing film, technology and music, the director best known for his raunchy female-led 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids,” was promoting his latest comedic effort “Spy,” starring one of his favorites, McCarthy.

In “Spy,” due out in U.S. theaters on June 5, McCarthy plays low-level CIA employee Susan Cooper, tasked with helping the hot-shot agents on their missions. But when her partner goes missing, Susan decides to engage her spy training and go on the hunt for him.

The inspiration for “Spy” came from Feig’s love of the most prolific spy franchise, Ian Fleming’s James Bond, specifically, he said, when he saw actor Daniel Craig’s rendition of Bond in 2006’s “Casino Royale.”

But as a comedy director, he said he knew he’d never get a chance to make a spy movie – unless he spun a twist on the genre.

“The lead characters I care about are the vulnerable people who might not be noticed by the world,” Feig said.

“With Melissa, it was just such a perfect fit, I just wanted her to bring that humanity to it.”

As Feig gears up for “Ghostbusters,” there’s one question on all “Ghostbusters” fans’ lips – will original star Bill Murray make an appearance?

“We are ready for him. If Bill will show up, Bill is more than welcome. Nothing would make us happier,” Feig said.

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric Walsh)

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Experimental cholesterol drugs cut heart risk, but questions remain

(Reuters) – Studies of a new class of experimental cholesterol-lowering drugs signal that they can reduce by half the risk of heart attack and other major cardiovascular problems compared to standard treatment alone.

Doctors at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, where the studies were presented, called the results “encouraging,” but said larger, controlled trials are needed to fully understand the drugs, known as PCSK9 inhibitors.

An analysis of about 4,500 patients who stayed on treatment for nearly a year after completing earlier trials of Amgen Inc’s Repatha, also known as evolocumab, found that 0.95 percent of those given the drug and standard therapy suffered a cardiovascular event, compared with 2.18 percent of the group on standard treatment, which ranged from diet changes to drugs such as statins.

Amgen defined “event” as death, heart attack, stroke or “mini-stroke,” unstable chest pain or heart failure requiring hospitalization, or the need for a procedure to restore bloodflow to the heart.

Side effects more frequent, but still rare, in patients treated with Repatha included neurocognitive problems, such as confusion, something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said should be monitored closely.

Scott Wasserman, Amgen’s head of cardiovascular and metabolic therapies, told Reuters that the company does not believe there is a safety issue.

Neurocognitive side effects were also more common in the treatment arm of an 18-month, 2,300-patient trial of a rival PCSK9 drug being developed by Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The drug, Praluent, was shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems from 3.3 percent for placebo patients to 1.7 percent for the treatment group. “Events” in this trial were defined only as death, heart attack, stroke and chest pain requiring hospitalization.

“Some of the endpoints in these trials are kind of soft, and they aren’t prospective studies,” said Dr. Anthony DeMaria, director of the cardiovascular center at the University of California San Diego who was not involved in the trials. “It’s encouraging that the larger trials are likely to succeed, but we still need those trials.”

Dr Marc Sabatine, lead investigator of the Repatha study, said data for both drugs “are very consistent … it appears that cutting LDL by 61 percent translates to a roughly 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular events.”

Numerous trials have shown that PCSK9 inhibitors significantly lower blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, but investors expect widespread use will hinge on whether the drugs are proven to prevent death, heart attacks and other serious heart problems.

The experimental drugs are antibodies, given by injection, designed to target the PCSK9 protein that maintains LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. They work differently from statins – pills, now available as low-cost generics, that block the liver’s production of LDL cholesterol in the first place.

Both Amgen and Sanofi/Regeneron have filed for FDA approval of their drugs, based on trials showing that they lower LDL in patients whose cholesterol is not controlled by other drugs, those who cannot tolerate other drugs and people genetically predisposed to high cholesterol.

The FDA is slated to decide on Amgen’s application for Repatha by Aug. 27, while the regulatory deadline for Praluent, also known as alirocumab, is July 24.

Health insurers are already bracing for the impact on drug spending. Express Scripts Holding Co, the largest manager of prescription drug plans for U.S. employers, projects an annual cost as high as $10,000 per patient for PCSK9 drugs, which it says could be used for 10 million Americans.

Both Amgen and Sanofi/Regeneron do not expect definitive data on cardiovascular outcomes for their drugs until larger trials conclude in 2017. Pfizer Inc,, which has not yet filed for regulatory approval of its PCSK9 drug, said it expects outcomes data in a similar time frame.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Frances Kerry)

Source: Newsjyoti Health

Elton John slams Dolce & Gabbana over 'synthetic baby' comments

Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish arrive at the 2015 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood, California February  22, 2015. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas/Files

Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish arrive at the 2015 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood, California February 22, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas/Files

(Reuters) – British singer Elton John slammed Italian fashion duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana on Sunday and called for a boycott of their brand after the pair championed “traditional” families.

John, who has used his fame to speak out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, chided the designers for criticizing fertility treatment and same-sex parenting in an interview.

The singer and his husband David Furnish have two children. John uploaded a photo of the designers clad in black veils to his Instagram account with the caption:

“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’. And shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF … Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”

Italian magazine Panorama’s website last week quoted Sicily-born Dolce, whose brand has long counted Madonna and Naomi Campbell among clients for its designs inspired by his native island, as saying:

“You are born and you have a father and a mother. Or at least it should be like this, that’s why I am not convinced by chemical children, synthetic babies, wombs for rent.”

Dolce and Gabbana, who are now business partners after their romantic relationship ended, said on Sunday they had been talking about their own opinions and had not meant to judge others’ behavior.

“We believe firmly in democracy and we think freedom of expression is essential for that. We talked about our way of looking at the world, but it was not our intention to express a judgment on other people’s choices. We believe in freedom and love,” Gabbana said in a statement.

Motherhood was the theme for Dolce Gabbana’s women’s fashion show in Milan earlier this year. Models in floral skirts and dresses carried babies, and Italian model Bianca Balti took to the runway heavily pregnant.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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