'La Vida Loca' singer vows to end Arab stereotypes

'La Vida Loca' singer vowsto end Arab stereotypes
AMMAN, Jordan -- On his first visit to the Middle East, Ricky Martin declared he will try to change negative perceptions of Arab youth in the West. "I promise I will become a spokesperson, if you allow me to, a spokesperson on your behalf. I will defend you and try to get rid of any stereotypes," the 33-year-old singer told youngsters from 16 mainly Arab countries at a youth conference Monday. The children, ages 14 to 16, expressed concern about being labeled as "terrorists" by the West. Martin, who is a United Nations Children's Fund goodwill ambassador, said he wanted to get to know the youth and their cultures better. He said he planned to do a concert tour of the Mideast and North Africa, including Jordan and the Palestinian territories, tentatively scheduled for May 2006. Martin's hits include "She Bangs," "Shake Your Bon-Bon" and "Livin' La Vida Loca."
Fans at opening of serieswelcome boxing great Ali
ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. -- Boxing icon Muhammad Ali was on hand to sign autographs and greet fans at the opening of the Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series. The former heavyweight champ, who lives in Berrien Springs, was joined by former Detroit Tigers stars Willie Horton and Gates Brown at Kyte Monroe Park. Despite showing the effects of Parkinson's disease, Ali obliged a number of people hoping to shake his hand or get his autograph Friday, The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reported. After the meet-and-greet session ended, Ali was welcomed to a ball field where each of the teams got to walk in a procession. Ali, 63, did his best to wave from his chair near the mound. Several of the coaches tipped their hats as they walked past. When the team introductions finished, several hundred people surrounded Ali and posed for pictures. The tournament started Saturday with 80 teams participating; Ali's son is a member of the Niles Vikings, who play in the 14-and-under group.
Fonda will hit the roadcalling for end to Iraq war
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Actress and activist Jane Fonda says she intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq. "I can't go into any detail except to say that it's going to be pretty exciting," she said. Fonda said her anti-war tour in March will use a bus that runs on "vegetable oil." She will be joined by families of Iraq war veterans and her daughter. They plan to return to the Santa Fe area, where she was promoting her book, "My Life So Far" on Saturday. Prompted by a question from the audience, Fonda said war veterans that she has met on a nationwide book tour have encouraged her to break her silence on the Iraq war. "I've decided I'm coming out," she said. Hundreds of people in the audience cheered loudly when Fonda announced her intentions to join the anti-Iraq war movement. "I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam," she said. "I carry a lot of baggage from that." Fonda incited controversy in July 1972 when she was photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun while on a tour of the country to drum up support to end the war.
Artist, wife prepare to do'Over the River' project
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Artist Christo, who specializes in public art pieces so big they can be seen from space, is moving forward with plans to drape a giant canopy over the Arkansas River. Buoyed by the success of "The Gates, Central Park," which opened in New York in February, Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, are coming to Colorado to renew their work on "Over the River," a project to cover a six-mile stretch of the Arkansas with huge pieces of clear fabric. The project was conceived nearly a decade ago, and if the artists can get pass considerable permit hurdles, it would take several more years to construct. Christo and Jeanne-Claude will discuss the proposed work at Salida's Steam Plant Theater Performing Arts Center on Aug. 1.
Notable death
BURBANK, Calif. -- Edward Bunker, who learned to write in prison before achieving literary fame as a crime novelist and then as an actor, has died. He was 71. Bunker, who suffered from diabetes, died last week after surgery to improve circulation to his legs, said screenwriter Robert Dellinger, a longtime friend.
Today's birthdays
Movie director Blake Edwards is 83. Actor James Best is 79. Singer Dobie Gray is 65. Actress-singer Darlene Love is 64. Singer Brenton Wood is 64. Rock star Mick Jagger is 62. Movie director Peter Hyams is 62. Actress Helen Mirren is 60. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Queen) is 56. Actress Susan George is 55. Actor Kevin Spacey is 46. Rock singer Gary Cherone is 44. Actress Sandra Bullock is 41. Actor Jeremy Piven is 40. Rapper-reggae singer Wayne Wonder is 39. Actress Kate Beckinsale is 32. Gospel/Contemporary Christian singer Rebecca St. James is 28.

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