Called the “Carrie Bradshaw” of bloggers by the New York Times, suburban New Yorker Stephanie Klein’s online musings in her personal blog, Greek Tragedy, has gained the attention of Hollywood and the book industry while it draws comparisons to former HBO television series, Sex and the City.

Since January 2004, Klein has written her blog which goes into the intimate details of her life as a 29-year-old professional single woman living in New York City’s northwestern suburb of Prospect Park, New Jersey. Since then her blog has become among the top 1 percent most-read blogs in the world, according to Technorati’s “net attention” ratings system.

That popularity grabbed the attention of two international media conglomerates, News Corporation and NBC Universal. News Corp.’s HarperCollins book division struck a book deal with Klein valued at more than $500,000. The book is scheduled to debut in April 2006.

Comparisons to Sex and the City may continue, as NBC Universal is developing the blog-based book into a fictionalized weekly sitcom version of Klein’s life for its NBC television network.

For: Wikinews

President Bush is lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which is scheduled for a vote Wednesday night. The U.S. Senate passed the treaty in June.

Similar to the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, CAFTA would create a free trade zone putting an end to most trade barriers between the United States and six additional countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The free trade agreement faces stiff opposition among Democrats. Many Republicans who represent agricultural Corn Belt or industrial Rust Belt and southern textile states in Congress also have stated opposition to the bill. But with a Republican majority in the House large enough to ensure passage of CAFTA, party leaders are trying to shore up enough votes to ensure CAFTA’s passage.

This has prompted last minute action by the President to lobby individual members of House, reminding members that Central American countries have committed troops and other resources to fight the U.S. War on Terror. Other Republican leaders have been using the party’s traditional pro-business message and linking it to homeland security issues.

“Trade creates jobs and lifts people out of poverty and there’s nothing like a stable society to fight terrorism and strengthen democracy, freedom and rule of law,” Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, reportedly said at a news conference Tuesday.

But the opposition disagrees. CAFTA is “a bad deal for Central Americans and also for Latinos in this community… (with CAFTA) the exploitation of workers will continue in Central America,” Democrat Representative Hilda Solis of Los Angeles said. Her views are common among Democrats, who are overwhelmingly against the treaty.

According to opponents of CAFTA, the current trend of American jobs being sent to foreign countries, particularly in the information technology sector, would greatly expand under the treaty.

“This will be a vote in the middle of the night. They’ll keep the vote open for several hours, in violation of the rules. If it passes, it will be by fewer than five votes,” predicted Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, according to a Washington Post report.

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After years of declining subscription rates, the owners of U.S. magazine TV Guide ordered a complete overhaul of the 52-year-old publication. Gemstar-TV Guide International, the corporate parent of the magazine says the current format of the magazine has caused it to become unprofitable.

The changes will be effective with the October 15 issue. Lack of profitability has been a point of contention between Gemstar management and its largest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Included in the new design is a shift away from detailed listings to more of a People or Entertainment Weekly celebrity-focused format. Included in that change will be the elimination of the 140 localized editions of TV Guide in favor of one national publication with only “Eastern” and “Pacific” times listed for program listings.

The magazine’s owners noted that with the advent of digital cable and satellite TV, more viewers rely upon electronic program guides provided free by the television service provider than printed listings.

TV Guide officials say the current magazine is 72 percent listing, printed on newsprint and in black-and-white. The new version of the magazine will be four-color and on glossy paper.

A second change will be the magazine’s size as it moves from a digest-sized publication to a full-sized glossy. The company expects the larger edition will be more profitable against competition such as People and US Weekly. But that profitability may be at the expense of national reach.

Although the magazine is getting physically larger, according to reports, the readership is expected to shrink. Gemstar expects many of is subscribers not to renew with the new format. Currently the TV Guide guarantees 9 million subscribers to its national advertisers. According to reports, it is only guaranteeing 3.2 million subscribers to its revamped publication once it hits newsstands.

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Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, announced the name of its forthcoming version of the Windows operating system from its headquarters in Redmond, Washington Friday. But in choosing the name “Vista,” Microsoft may find itself in a legal fight.

Microsoft has made a name for itself in legal circles as a company that fiercely defends its trademarks and other intellectual property. With the choice of “Vista,” the tables may turn as it may face allegations of swiping another company’s trademark.

It appears the Vista name has already been taken by another high-tech company, coincidentally also based in Redmond. A few miles from the sprawling Microsoft campus is Vista Incorporated, which has operated a small business internet interchange since it was founded by Wall Data founder, John Wall in 2000. He was suprised by his larger neighbor’s move.

“We are going to consider our options and talk to Microsoft,” Wall said in an interview with the Seattle Times. Wall reportedly has not yet filed suit against Microsoft to stop it from using the “Vista” name. An investor in SCO, he does have other legal options aside from law suits. Instead, he may offer to sell the rights to the “Vista” name.

However, John Wall’s company is not the only business with claims on the name “Vista.” Many other tech companies use “Vista” as product names. Additionally, a wide-range of non-computer businesses have the name reserved, including branded products for sewing machines, elevators and the dairy industry.

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After the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) completes its acquisition of Chicago-based electronic trading company, Archipelago Holdings within the next 12 months, the impact will also be felt in San Francisco, California as the future of the 123-year-old Pacific Exchange (PCX) becomes murky.

This stems from a deal struck in January of this year, before the NYSE merger, when Archipelago struck a deal worth $83 million to take over operations of the San Francisco stock exchange and its 260 employees. All PCX operations are scheduled to be under Archipelago control by the end of September. Archipelago had planned to maintain the San Francisco operations.

As details were released Thursday of the April NYSE-Archipelago merger to the Securities and Exchange Commission, all Archipelago functions are to be folded into NYSE operations, including the PCX stock and options trading business. The report did not state whether or not the San Francisco employees would be kept after the merger is complete.

Started in 1882 at the San Francisco Stock Market, the Pacific Exchange, along with other regional stock exchanges, has suffered as customers shifted to electronic trading, which bypassed the need for stock exchange services in many instances.

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The Television Critics Association (TCA) announced the winners of it’s annual Critic’s Award for best in television programming June 23, in Beverly Hills, California. The TCA is made up of approximately 200 television writers and columnists in the U.S. and Canada.

The awards, except for the Heritage Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, were for outstanding programs first broadcast in the United states between June 2004 and May 2005.

ABC’s Desperate Housewives was named Program of the year, while the network’s Lost was named as best dramatic program.

The critics’ choice for best comedy series was Fox’s Arrested Development.

Awards for acting and performance went to Hugh Laurie in Fox’s House for best dramatic performance while best comedic performance honors went to Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The TCA awarded American comedian Bob Newhart with its Lifetime Achieveent Award. The Heritage award for program “that has transcended its medium to profoundly impact on society or culture” was presented to ABC late night news program, Nightline.

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A month after the Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to welcome the 2006 Gay Games to Chicago, the five Republicans on the board withdrew their names under pressure from conservative activists. Chicago is located in Cook County.

The Gay Games is an Olympics-style multi-day international sports competition targeted to LGBT athletes.

Commissioners Gregg Goslin, Liz Gorman, Carl Hansen, Tony Peraica and Peter Silvestri, the only Republicans sitting on the Board of Commissioners withdrew their names from the proclamation. “I’m a pro-family kind of person and conservative on social issues. That’s nothing against the gay and lesbian community, but it’s nothing I want to advance as a cause celebre,” Peraica told the Chicago Sun-Times. In the same report, Gorman said that she doesn’t support “special rights for any group.”

An anti-gay rights lobbying group, the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), says it is trying to get Democrat commissioners to also withdraw their names from the official welcome. “There is a difference between tolerating and celebrating homosexuality,” Peter LaBarera, a spokesman for the group said in an Associated Press interview. The IFI also expressed concern about taxpayer money being used to promote the event.

Although Gay Games spokeswoman Tracy Baim she said she was not surprised by the reversal of the five commissioners, Mike Quigley, a Democrat Cook County Commissioner said of the retraction of his colleagues, “It’s a blinding bias and animosity that is overriding human interest, job creation, economic development and the whole spirit of athletic competition.” Quigley was the sponsor of the proclamation and plans to play ice hockey in the games.

The 12 other commissioners who voted for the welcome proclamation maintained their support for the event, which is scheduled to run from July 15 to July 22, 2006 and projected to generate between $50 million and $80 million in tourist business to the city and county.

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James Montgomery Doohan, the Canadian actor best known for playing the role of Star Trek’s “Scotty” the engineer died Wednesday of pneumonia after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85 years old.

At the time, he was living in Redmond, Washington in the United States with his wife and their three young children.

Doohan was born in Vancouver and participated in World War II as a captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery. He lost the middle finger of his right hand at the Invasion of Juno Beach on D-Day, a bloody scene immortalized in the 1998 Steven Spielberg film, Saving Private Ryan. Doohan was among the films greatest supporters, thanking the director for not sanitizing the gore of the actual event.

He started his acting career with a radio appearance at a CBC show and went on to act in several character roles. Doohan had already made a name for himself in the entertainment business as a featured voice actor in Canadian and U.S. radio dramas and motion picture voice-overs due to his knack for picking up linguistically perfect accents. His ability to affect a near-perfect Scottish accent made him a natural for the role of Scotty, according to producers at the time.

When he auditioned for what would become the role of his life in 1966, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry asked him which of the different accents Doohan mastered would best suit the role of Scotty. Doohan respond that he believed “all the world’s best engineers have been Scottish”. After the original Star Trek series had ended, Doohan found himself typecast and had difficulties getting other roles.

Doohan suffered from Parkinson’s as well as Alzheimer’s disease. In August last year he received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of fame.

After DeForest Kelley, Doohan is the second actor of the original Star Trek cast to die.

He is survived by his wife Wende, with whom he had been married since 1975, and seven children.

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With a stroke of the pen, Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin signed into law Canada’s controversial C-38 bill, which legalized same-sex marriage in the country. In doing so, Canada became the fourth nation in the world to grant full legal marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The signature came one day after Canada’s Senate voted to adopt the bill Tuesday. The parliament’s lower house voted to pass C-38 earlier this year. The law makes national same sex marriage rights that are already legalized in eight of the country’s 10 provinces.

The other three countries that have similar laws are The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.

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Doctors at the regional burn center at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana are treating a patient flown in from war-torn Afghanistan.

U.S. Army’s 113th Battalion, which is made up of Indiana National Guardsman, discovered five-year-old Zia after a propane explosion in suburban Kabul earlier this year destroyed homes and killed six of the boy’s family members.

The blast left Zia with third degree burns on his arms, torso and legs. Guardsmen, familiar with the Fort Wayne burn center, worked with non-profit group, Northeast Indiana Burn Council to raised $18,500 to fly Zia, accompanied by his father Abdul Qahir, to Fort Wayne for treatment.

Upon arrival, he was rushed to the St. Joseph burn unit, where after a few days of recovery from travel, underwent his first surgery June 23. The second and final surgery was postponed nine days from an original date of July 2 because the boy developed an infection in one of his wounds, which is common for burn patients.

The second surgery grafted skin onto burn wounds on Zia’s arm, chest and the second toe on his right foot. Tuesday, doctors said Zia was recovering and appeared to be in good spirits. In preparation for their planned return trip to Afghanistan in September, doctors are teaching Zia’s father physical therapy techniques needed for further recovery. “Without good therapy, he could be right back where we started,” Dr. John Mancoll, the lead surgeon on the case said in an interview with the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette newspaper.

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