-> White House: Obama to meet with Karzai, Zardari <-

obama with hamid karzaiThe White House says President Barack Obama will meet Wednesday with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss their troubled region.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday that Obama would meet jointly and separately with the two at the White House. He said Obama looks forward to discussing with them “how we can work together to enhance our cooperation in this important part of the world.”

The Karzai and Zardari governments are dealing with Taliban insurgencies in regions of their countries which share a mountainous border.

-AP

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-> Hollywood delays summer film releases in Mexico <-

Swine FluMovie theaters in Mexico shut down to contain the spread of swine flu, Hollywood studios have delayed plans to kick off the summer movie season there. The country is regularly among the top 12 foreign markets for U.S. movies.

Actors who had plans to promote films in the country, such as Hugh Jackman and Miley Cyrus , are also staying away for now.

Sony Corp . moved the Mexico release of ” Terminator Salvation ” to July 31 from June 5 and ” Angels & Demons ” to June 12 from May 15. ” Star Trek ” is set for worldwide release May 8, but Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures said its opening in Mexico is being delayed indefinitely.

Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros . pushed the release of the romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” to June 12 from May 8 in Mexico. It was released Friday in the U.S.

News Corp. ‘s 20th Century Fox delayed ” X-Men Origins: Wolverine ” to a tentative May 14 start in Mexico, although the film opens in the rest of the world this weekend. Fox said it expected theaters in Mexico , most of which closed last weekend, to reopen May 10, but is watching the situation closely.

For now “Wolverine” star Jackman is scheduled to go to Mexico on May 12 or 13, making up for an appearance he canceled this week. Cyrus, the star of ” Hannah Montana: The Movie ,” also recently canceled an appearance in Puebla, 65 miles southeast of the capital.

One of the big challenges for the studios in reshuffling the release dates is avoiding having their summer blockbusters go head-to-head on the same weekend.

If the crisis continues, Warner Bros . might also delay the Mexico release of ” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ,” which is slated for July 15.

“This is obviously a very fluid situation,” said Warner Bros.’ president of international distribution, Veronika Kwan-Rubinek. “Dates could continue to change based on current events as well as how competitive dates line up.”

-AP

-> Miss California appears in anti-gay marriage ad <-

Miss california After failing to stop recent gay marriage approvals in several states, opponents have found an attractive, telegenic poster woman in Miss California, a move reminiscent of beauty queen Anita Bryant’s 1970s crusade against gay rights.
Miss California, a Christian college student named Carrie Prejean, joined in a television ad campaign against gay marriage this week, upsetting homosexual rights advocates, including a head of the Miss California pageant.

In the commercial from the National Organization for Marriage, Prejean is shown at the Miss USA competition last month where she answered a question about same-sex marriage by saying she opposed it, drawing both boos and cheers and setting off a raucous debate.
After providing that answer, Prejean was named runner-up to Miss USA. She later said her view on marriage cost her crown.
As gay marriage opponents have rallied around Miss California, they have also lost key battles in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, New Hampshire’s Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and if the governor signs it, the state could become the fifth to legalize gay weddings.
Last month, Iowa became the first Midwest state to allow gay marriage, and Vermont became the first to legalize it through legislative action.
Craig Rimmerman, co-editor of “The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage,” said Prejean’s rise to prominence comes as gay marriage opponents are on the defensive.
“The conservative right is wondering if same-sex marriage is as potent an issue politically as it was in the past,” he said. “So for them to have a different spokeswoman who comes at this from a different background, they probably see this as a really positive development.”

GIRL FROM VISTA
California is often characterized as a liberal state for politics in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but Prejean comes from a small town, Vista, in conservative San Diego County.
The 21-year-old is not a permanent spokeswoman for the National Organization for Marriage, but in recent weeks she has appeared on TV shows reaffirming her views on gay marriage, and on Thursday she joined the group to launch the TV ad.
“I think that Carrie’s story is resonating incredibly,” said Maggie Gallagher, the group’s president. “Because she comes across as what she is, she’s just a genuine, decent, honest person who stood up for truth and gave up the tiara.”

In the 1970s, another beauty queen named Anita Bryant, a former Miss Oklahoma, became a voice against homosexuality after leading a campaign to repeal a Miami-area gay rights ordinance. She was famously quoted as saying, “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail-biters.”
In contrast to Bryant’s bluntness, Prejean has said she means “no offense,” a phrase she used at the Miss USA pageant while answering a question from gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton by stating, “in my country and in my family, I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Keith Lewis, the co-executive director of the Miss California pageant, said Prejean was attended to by gay beauty experts before the Miss USA contest, and that he always knew her to be friendly to gays like himself.
But Lewis said he was disappointed with her stance against same-sex weddings, and that while she keeps her crown as Miss California, she is speaking for herself on gay marriage.
-Reuters