Sign up for Feb. 21 Miami Herald Small Business Forum

Prepare your best pitch for the Miami Herald’s Small Business Forum, Feb. 21 at the south campus of our sponsor, Florida International University.

In addition to how-to panels and inspirational stories from successful entrepreneurs, our annual small business forum will include interactive opportunities with experts to learn about financing options and polish your personal and business brands.

During our finance panel, audience volunteers will be invited to explain their financing needs to the group. During our box-lunch session, they will be invited to pitch their business or personal brand to our coaches.

Those who prefer just to listen will be treated to a keynote address by Alberto Perlman, co-founder of the global fitness craze Zumba. Panels include success stories from the local entrepreneurs who founded Sedano’s, Jennifer’s Homemade and; finance tips from experts in small business loans, venture capital, angel investments and traditional bank loans; and insiders in the burgeoning South Florida tech start-up scene.

Plus, it’s a real bargain. $25 includes the half-day seminar, continental breakfast and a box lunch.

Register here.


8 a.m.

Registration and continental breakfast, provided by Bill Hansen Catering

8:30 a.m. Welcome

Host: David Suarez, president and CEO, Interactive Training Solutions, LLC

•  Jerry Haar, PhD, associate dean & director, FIU Eugenio Pino and Family Global

Entrepreneurship Center

•  Alice Horn, executive director, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE South Florida)

•  Jane Wooldridge, Business editor, The Miami Herald

Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge Overview:

•  Nancy Dahlberg, Business Plan Challenge coordinator, The Miami Herald

8:45 a.m. Session I – Success Stories

Moderator: Jerry Haar, PhD, associate dean & director, FIU Eugenio Pino and Family Global

Entrepreneurship Center


•  Jennifer Behar, founder, Jennifer’s Homemade

•  Matt Kuttler, co-president of

•  Javier Herrán, chief marketing officer, Sedano’s Supermarkets

10 a.m. Session II – All about Tech

Moderator: Jane Wooldridge, Business editor, The Miami Herald


•  Susan Amat, founder, Launch Pad Tech

•  Nancy Borkowski, executive director, Health Management Programs, Chapman Graduate School of

Business, Florida International University

•  Chris Fleck, vice president of mobility solutions at Citrix and a director of the South Florida Tech Alliance

•  Charles Irizarry, co-founder and director of product architecture, Rokk3r Labs

11:15 a.m. Keynote

Speaker: Alberto Perlman, CEO and co-founder of Zumba® Fitness

Introduction: Jane Wooldridge, business editor, The Miami Herald

11:45 a.m. Session III – Show me the money: Financing your small business

An interactive session featuring audience volunteers who will be invited to make a short investment pitch before a panel, including experts in microlending, SBA loans, traditional bank loans, venture capital and angel investing. Audience volunteers should come prepared with a two-minute presentation that includes details about current backing, how much money they are seeking and a brief synosis of ow that money would be used.

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Joe Martinez says he’ll challenge Joe Garcia

Joe Martinez, the former Miami-Dade Commission chairman who lost his bid to become county mayor last year, said Friday that he intends to run against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in 2014.

“I’m meeting with different people and feeling them out, seeing what the level of support will be there,” Martinez told The Miami Herald shortly after announcing his intentions on Facebook. He wants to get in the race, Martinez said, “to shake it up.”

Martinez’s name has been floated in political circles in connection with the 26th Congressional District since Garcia, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican Rep. David Rivera in November. The district extends from Kendall to Key West.

Cites experience

Martinez, a Republican, said he sees himself as a pragmatist in tune with residents’ needs after his 12 years on the County Commission, including two terms as chairman. In his first term, former Mayor Carlos Alvarez campaigned for a strong-mayor referendum. In his second, Alvarez was recalled.

Both times, Martinez said, he helped lead the county. “It actually ran really smoothly,” Martinez said.

He gave up his seat last year to unsuccessfully challenge Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Martinez said Friday that he has since opened a public relations and business development consulting firm.

Focused on duties

Garcia’s chief of staff, Jeffrey Garcia (no relation), said that the congressman “is focused on doing the work that the people sent him here to do.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for politics later,” he added.

Martinez, conceding that “it’s too early to tell” how well Garcia will do as a freshman congressman, said he’s committed to running in two years.

“I’ve survived Miami-Dade politics,” he said. “What’s Washington?”

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'Escape from Planet Earth' Interview

Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, William Shatner, Sofía Vergara and George Lopez are among the all-star voice cast creating laughs in the fast-paced, animated comedy-adventure Escape from Planet Earth, and they tell ET's Brooke Anderson that it's the perfect film for the whole family.

Pics: 13 Must-See Movies of 2013

In theaters now, the out-of-this-world 3D comedy is told from the alien point of view, following the misadventures of famed interplanetary astronaut Scorch Supernova from the Planet Baab and his buddies. Trapped by evil government forces on the distant "Dark Planet" (aka Earth) and tossed behind bars in Area 51, it's up to his nerdy brother Gary to navigate the third rock from the sun's strange customs and inhabitants in order to save him.

Video: Cosmic Comedy in 'Escape from Planet Earth' Premiere

The film also features the vocal talents of Brendan Fraser, Jane Lynch, Sarah Jessica Parker, Craig Robinson, Steve Zahn, Chris Parnell, Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Morgan Heit.

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Gloves come off in Dem mayoral war

The mayoral race is turning vicious between Democrats Bill Thompson and Christine Quinn.

In his harshest statement yet, Thompson trashed Quinn — the City Council speaker — for presiding over the council during a budgetary scandal, as well as her flip-flop on term limits.

“There has been a pattern of questions surrounding Christine Quinn’s entire tenure as speaker,” Thompson told The Post. “From the phantom member-items scandal, to breaking her word to voters and throwing out term limits, to endorsements that are potentially tied to Speaker Quinn’s actions on legislation, this is a troubling trail that reeks of cynical, old-fashioned politics.”

He was responding to a specific question about an endorsement Quinn received this week from the Mason Tenders District Council — a union she sided with when she passed a controversial bill on reporting requirements last year. The bill requires substantially more reporting from developers that have city contracts.

Thompson — who narrowly lost to Mayor Bloomberg in 2009 — opposed that legislation.

The Mason Tenders pushed for the bill, which Bloomberg vetoed. Quinn and the council in turn overrode the mayor’s veto.

Mayoral contender Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, declined to comment on the connection between Quinn and the Mason Tenders.

Thompson’s attack hits Quinn on a particularly vulnerable issue: the so-called slush-fund scandal, which involved a federal probe into the longstanding practice of stashing away taxpayer money in phantom accounts to later fund pet projects.

Quinn was cleared in the initial probe, but the feds are still investigating abuse of the funds by individual council members under her watch. Thompson was comptroller during the member -item scandal.

For her part, Quinn said she was proud of the Mason Tenders endorsement. AndUnion President Mike McGuire defended the endorsement and took a shot at Thompson.

“We endorsed Chris because she has the best record and best ideas to help middle-class New Yorkers,” McGuire said. “We did not endorse Bill Thompson because his accomplishments just don’t measure up.”

Thompson’s ramped up criticism of Quinn comes as a new New York 1/Marist College survey showed the council speaker as the clear front-runner in the Democratic primary contest for mayor. The poll showed Quinn with 37 percent to 13 percent for Thompson, 12 percent for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and 9 percent for current city Comptroller John Liu.

Thompson insiders claim the early polls ignore the support that Thompson, who is African-American, will receive in the black and Latino communities on primary day.

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Carnival Triumph passengers finally off the ship

Exhausted, grubby and almost five days late, the 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph returned to the U.S. late Thursday — to a city almost 500 miles from its home port.

Thousands of passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph cheered, screamed and waved from outside balconies as the ship was pulled in shortly after 10 p.m.

Families were excited and relieved as passengers began disembarking about an hour after the ship docked. All passengers were off the ship in Alabama by about 2 a.m. Friday and arrived at a New Orleans hotel at about 3 a.m.

“This is the best Valentine’s Day ever,” said Jon Hair, of Lake Charles, La., grabbing the hand of his son, 8-year-old Jace, whose mom, sister, aunt and cousins were aboard. “It’s great,” Jace said as he left for the terminal, where dozens of other families waited.

Jon Hair held a banner: "Thank God it's over!"

And as Julie Hair and her 12-year-old daughter Juliana came off the ship, Jon kissed his wife. “I feel blessed,” she said.

Buses arrived at the Hilton in New Orleans early Friday and were greeted by paramedics with wheelchairs to roll in passengers who were elderly or too fatigued to walk.

Many were tired and didn't want to talk. There were long lines as they waited to get checked into rooms.

For 28-year-old Maria Hernandez of Angleton, Texas, the hotel stay is only part of her journey home. Hernandez, like hundreds others, will have a brief reprieve at the hotel before flying home later in the day.

"It was horrible, just horrible" she said, tears welling in her eyes as she talked about waking up to smoke in her lower-level room Sunday and the days of heat and stench to follow. She was on a "girls' trip" with friends.

She said the group hauled mattresses to upper-level decks to escape the heat. As she pulled her luggage into the hotel, a flashlight around her neck, she managed a smile and even a giggle when asked to show her red "poo-poo bag" -- distributed by the cruise line for collecting human waste.

This was only part of her journey to get home. Hernandez, like hundreds others, would get to enjoy a brief reprieve at the hotel before flying home later Friday.

"I just can't wait to be home," she said.

Earlier, Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO, said at a brief news conference Thursday night, while the Triumph was docking, that he appreciated the patience of the 3,000 passengers on board.

He said Carnival prides itself on providing people with a great vacation “and clearly we failed in this particular case.” He also said he planned to go aboard the ship and personally apologize to passengers.

As the ship inched closer to the dock in Mobile — bringing and end to the saga — relatives of passengers aboard became more excited.

Larry Butterfras of Houston, whose wife Pat had taken the Triumph cruise from its home port in Galveston, Texas, with seven friends on a birthday celebration, said he and a few other husbands drove down so they could be there to greet their wives as soon as they stepped off the ship. “When I was able to talk to her today and tell her we were here, she cried. She told her friends and they cried. It was very emotional.”

“I just want her home,” said Matthew Minyard, of Fate, Texas, anxiously waiting to greet his wife Bethany. “It’s been hard.”

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Miami-Dade packed for weekend of events

Lured by sailboats and megayachts, urban street art and Romero Britto — and, of course, the lack of snow — thousands of visitors are expected to pour into Miami-Dade this holiday weekend.

The activities started Thursday morning with the opening day of the 72nd annual Progressive Miami International Boat Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Yacht & Brokerage Show on the Indian Creek Waterway. Art Wynwood kicked off with a VIP preview Thursday night. And the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, in its 50th year, opens its gates on Saturday.

Combined, the events expect nearly 250,000 attendees over Presidents’ Day weekend — many of them from out of town.

“Presidents’ Day weekend is the busiest weekend here in South Florida,” said Nick Korniloff, founder and director of Art Wynwood. “It’s when the 30 five-star resorts are at the highest occupancy, when the Europeans and South Americans and Northeast residents come here. It’s a very diverse, well-cultured audience.”

Expecting similarities in audiences interested in yachts and art, Korniloff will have shuttles running between Art Wynwood in the Midtown Miami neighborhood and the Yacht & Brokerage Show near the Fontainebleau.

In its second year, the fair features 70 dealers from around the world, many representing urban street artists or selling Latin American and Asian art. That’s a jump from last year’s 53 dealers. Korniloff said he expects about 30,000 attendees this year, up from 25,000 at the inaugural event.

At the boat show, which includes locations in Miami Beach and downtown Miami, organizers anticipate more than 100,000 visitors. About 40 percent are from outside the state and a quarter of visitors are international, said Cathy Rick-Joule, show manager and vice president of the boat shows division for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“We’ve definitely seen a continued influence of Brazilians; you hear Portuguese spoken everywhere,” Rick-Joule said, adding that Russian, Chinese and Korean visitors have also been increasing.

Monty Trainer, president of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, has been busy publicizing the 50th year of the event with pop artist Romero Britto, who designed this year’s festival poster and will attend at some points during the weekend.

“This is the best year for all our exposure,” Trainer said. “Romero Britto is going to be a big draw.”

The show will feature 380 artists this year, 30 more than last year, when about 118,000 people attended. Of those, nearly 40 percent were overnight visitors who came to town for the festival.

Trainer expects this year’s activities to draw a bigger crowd — with a caveat.

“If this weather holds up, we’re in business,” he said. “But if you get bad rain, all your promotions are out the window.”

On that front, the forecast is mixed. The National Weather Service calls for a 60 percent chance of rain in Miami on Friday, dropping to 20 percent for Saturday with a high near 77. Sunday should be sunny and cool, with a high only in the mid-60s. By Monday, the weather should be just about perfect for February: sunny and topping out around 74.

“When other folks unfortunately have it bad, we have it good,” said Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I think the country as a whole, with the exception of us, has been experiencing severe weather. It bodes well for our hoteliers and frankly bodes well for our winter season. We’re hearing very, very good things.”

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Olympian Oscar Pistorius weeps during court appearance over girlfriend's death

Reeva Steenkamp


Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria, South Africa Friday.

PRETORIA, South Africa — Prosecutors say they will pursue a premeditated murder charge against Oscar Pistorius as the Paralympic superstar openly wept in court Friday after being charged with shooting his girlfriend to death.

Pistorius was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrate's Court with one count of murder.

Reeva Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV show participant, was shot and killed at Pistorius' upmarket home in an eastern suburb of the South African capital in the predawn hours of Thursday, sending the country reeling.

Pistorius stood with his face in his hands as he broke down in tears on his first court appearance.

The magistrate delayed Pistorius' bail hearing until next Tuesday and Wednesday and ruled that the 26-year-old Pistorius would be held at a Pretoria police station until then.

Pistorius' father, Henke, was in the court as was his brother Carl, sister Aimee and other supporters of the 26-year-old double-amputee athlete.

Reeva Steenkamp


Reeva Steenkamp

Police said Friday an autopsy on the body of the victim was taking place. Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said the results of the autopsy would not be published.

More than 100 people packed into Courtroom C at Pretoria Magistrate's Court, including dozens of photographers and videographers.

The Paralympian and Olympic athlete was earlier seen leaving a police station, his jacket completely covering his head as he got into a police vehicle.

He was holding what appeared to be a white handkerchief in one hand as he was led by officers to a police van outside the Boschkop Police Station in eastern Pretoria, where he had been questioned on Thursday and had spent the night in custody.

Police said the victim was shot four times at Pistorius' villa in a gated community. Officers found a 9 mm pistol inside the home and arrested Pistorius on a murder charge.

Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any games. He didn't win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and the final of the 4X400 relay, propelling the world's best-known Paralympian to the level of an international track star.

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American Airlines, US Airways announce merger

After a nearly yearlong courtship, the union became official on Valentine’s Day: American Airlines and US Airways have formally announced plans to merge.

An early Thursday announcement by the airlines Thursday confirmed reports widely circulated after boards of both companies approved the merger late Wednesday.

The move brings stability to one of Miami-Dade County’s largest private employers more than a year after the airline and its parent company filed for bankruptcy, leaving the fate of thousands of employees — and the largest carrier at Miami International Airport — in question.

If the deal is approved by American’s bankruptcy judge and antitrust regulators, it will create the world’s biggest airline, with close to 100,000 employees, 1,500 aircraft and $38.7 billion in combined revenue. American used to hold the top title but lost that position after United Airlines merged with Continental and Delta Air Lines merged with Northwest.

Travelers won’t notice immediate changes. The new airline will be called American Airlines. It likely will be months before the frequent-flier programs are merged, and possibly years before the two airlines are fully combined.

And for Miami travelers, it’s unlikely that much will change at any point. American and regional carrier American Eagle handled 68 percent of traffic at the airport last year, while US Airways accounted for just 2 percent. American boasts 328 flights to 114 destinations from Miami.

“We don’t expect any substantial changes at MIA if the merger occurs because our traffic is largely driven by the strength of the Miami market and not the airlines serving it,” said airport spokesman Greg Chin.

American has said for more than a year that its long-term plan calls for increasing departures at key hubs, including Miami, by 20 percent. That pledge has already started to materialize; in recent months, the airline has added new service to Asuncion, Paraguay and Roatán, Honduras.

During its bankruptcy restructuring, about 400 American employees lost jobs, leaving American and its regional carrier, American Eagle, with 9,894 employees in Miami-Dade County and 43 in Fort Lauderdale. US Airways has few employees in the area.

“It really isn’t going to affect Miami in a very major way anytime soon,” said Michael Boyd, an aviation consultant in Evergreen, Colo. “Only because US Airways isn’t a big player in South Florida.”

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, American and US Airways combined would still only be the fifth-largest airline after Southwest, Spirit, JetBlue and Delta, a spokesman said. The two airlines have little overlap in routes from Fort Lauderdale.

Despite the lack of major changes, Boyd said the merger would be a good development for Miami.

“It should be positive for the employees and it should be positive for the communities that the airlines serve,” he said.

Robert Herbst, an independent airline analyst and consultant, said US Airways will add a “significant amount” of destinations in the Northeast, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“You’ll see some additional service, I believe, from Miami to Europe because of the merger, and better connections to Asian markets,” he said. “It’ll be good for the Miami area.”

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Jewish liturgical music festival continues through Sunday

The Fifth International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music is being celebrated in Miami through Sunday. It will feature new works from composers from throughout the United States, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom. The music reflects a diverse range of musical styles and traditions.

The six-day festival is presented by Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music and will include school and youth workshops and Shalshelet composers in residence at area congregations over Shabbat.

The main festival events will include workshops from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, 20350 NE 26th Ave., and the Festival Concert at 7 p.m.

As a part of the festival, composer Raquel Pomerantz Gershon, who is known for her uplifting, original take on Jewish sacred music, will sing her own songs and traditional prayers in the Kabbalat Shabbat service at 6 p.m. Friday at Beth David Congregaton, 2625 SW Third Ave. The service will be followed by a Shabbat dinner.

Gershon started composing songs in her teens and has won awards at past Shalshelet festivals. She has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Israel. She has recorded three CDs, including "Jerusalem on My Mind," and lives in Dallas with her husband Rabbi Bill Gershon and their three children.

For more information on the Kabbalat service and the dinner following the service, call 305-854-3911 or go to

Wenski to say Mass for members of religious orders

Archbishop Thomas Wenski will celebrate a thanksgiving Mass for all consecrated men and women, who have chosen religious life. The Mass will be at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary Cathedral, 7525 NW Second Ave. The Archdiocese of Miami will also celebrate those who this year will celebrate their 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of consecrated life.

Also, on Feb. 24, the 2013 Archbishop's Motorcycle Poker Run will take place at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary-St. Richard Catholic Church at 7500 SW 152nd St. in Palmetto Bay.

The event starts at 8 a.m. with Mass; registration at 9 a.m., and Kick Stands up at 9:30 a.m., with the poker run concluding at Peterson's Harley Davidson, 19400 NW Second Ave in Miami Gardens.

Registration is $25 for rider entrance fee, and includes a commemorative T-shirt. The winning hand receives a $500 Peterson's Harley Davidson gift card. Proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities and St. Luke's Center.

Art exhibit highlights graffiti

Catalyst, a program geared toward reaching out to the hip-hop youth culture in Miami and its sponsor, Greater Miami Youth For Christ, will have its first Graffiti Art Exhibit from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at Pyramid Art Studios, 8890 SW 129th Terr in The Falls Art District.

Vivian Stigale, Catalyst spokeswoman said the exhibit is called "26," and will feature the work of 26 different street artists.

"It takes much skill, dedication and strength to do graffiti — aerosol art and street-style murals — and is often misunderstood and is frequently criminalized," Stigale said.

The Catalyst program, founded nearly a decade ago in Miami Springs by Joel Stigale, allows emcees, break dancers, graffiti artists and DJs to practice their art in a safe, drug-free environment while being challenged to embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ.

For more information call Bonnie Rodriguez or Vivian Stigale at 305-271-2442.

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Artists You Should Know: Emeli Sande

British recording artist and songwriter Emeli Sandé is already making waves in the UK and hopes to become the latest in a growing list of British musicians that have taken over the world in recent times. Her debut album Our Version of Events is the UK's biggest selling album of 2012 and with her lyrically rich songs powered by an incredible voice, I have no doubt she is the next Global superstar. I recently chatted with Emeli before her gig at the ChapStick Sessions Concert in partnership with MySpace. Check out our full interview below and be sure to watch the concert footage above for a special performance of her latest single, Next To Me.

PICS: Candid Celeb Sightings

ETonline: You are one of music's rising stars, have a number one album (UK) for Our Version of Events, sang at the open and closing of the Olympics, and a new hit single Next To Me, how has the ride to fame been for you?

Emeli: It definitely feels surreal. It's been an incredible year and so much has happened that I didn't expect to happen so quickly. It's definitely been the type of year that you dream about as a kid so I'm very happy.

How much would you say your life has changed?

Dramatically it's definitely changed a lot. But I try to keep grounded by just focusing on the music so that part hasn't changed. But day to day it's so busy and you have less and less time to have alone and to write but it's all good that's why you do it in the first place.

A lot of wonderful talent has emerged from the UK in recent years so I've got to ask you, what's in the water over there??

(Laughs) Yeah I'm not sure! It feels like a really good time and I'm really proud to be part of this kind of new generation of musicians that are doing something quite creative. I think we all feel kind of free to experiment with different genres and it's such a small place so we all know each other and can learn from one another.

Tell me about your writing process. Are certain types of songs more easily driven by a lyric or music?

Sometimes when I play something on piano, the tone of it can inspire a feeling. But usually it's a concept that will pop in to my mind or a phrase or if I'm reading something it will spark something or a different way of thinking about the same subject. Usually it's the words but sometimes when I sit at the piano it all falls into place.

What would you say is your favorite lyric you've ever written?

I really like "when the floor is more familiar than the ceiling," just because whenever I sing that lyric I imagine somebody stuck to the floor, someone stuck to the ceiling. I've always been inspired by people that can make you see things so clearly with few words. And that's what I try to channel when I'm writing.

Is there any artist you're hoping to collaborate with in the future? Who are you currently listening to?

I think Drake is amazing lyrically; he's really doing something different I think. I love Frank Ocean as well. There's a lot of new people too, Ed Sheeran ... there's a lot of people I think are great. I love Rihanna, everyone does, and I think what she's doing is very honest and I really respect that.

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Track star Oscar Pistorius charged with murder in model girlfriend's shooting death


South Africa's Oscar Pistorius was one of the most inspirational athletes in the 2012 London Olympics.

South African track star Oscar Pistorius — who became an Olympic legend by becoming the first person to race on prosthetic legs — was arrested on murder charges in the shooting death of his girlfriend, stunning model Reeva Steenkamp, police said.

"FHM" cover model Reeva Steenkamp died in the shooting, her talent management firm told the Associated Press.

Pistorius apparently shot his girlfriend in the head and arm, although the circumstances surrounding the incident were unclear, Johannesburg’s Talk Radio 702 reported. He may have mistaken her for a burglar.


Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp attend an awards ceremony in 2012.

Steenkamp hinted at a Valentine's Day surprise on Twitter the day before her death, writing "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???"

Pistorius, 26, is expected to appear in court later today.

According to Sky News, South African police are opposing any bail application by Pistorius - and police said there have been previous incidents of "a domestic nature" reported at the home.

The track icon, who races wearing carbon fiber prosthetic blades after he was born without a fibula in both legs, was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics and reached the semifinals of the 400 meters in the 2012 London Games.

Known by the nickname “Blade Runner,” Pistorius was one of the most heart-warming stories of the London Olympics.

South Africa's Sports Confederation and Olympic committee released a statement saying they had been "inundated" with requests for comment, but were not in a position to give out any details of the shooting.

"SASCOC, like the rest of the public, knows no more than what is in the public domain, which is there has been an alleged fatal shooting on the basis of a mistaken identity and an apparent assumption of a burglary," the South African Olympic committee said. "The organization is in no position to comment on the incident other than to say our deepest sympathy and condolences have been expressed to the families of all concerned."

SACOC said it would be inappropriate to comment because of the ongoing police investigation.

South Africa has some of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and some home-owners carry weapons to defend themselves against intruders.

AP and Reuters contributed to this report

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A close look at compact megazoom cameras

The lenses get longer, but the bodies get smaller. Pretty amazing. These four cameras offer wide-angle lenses with long zooms, giving you a lot of shooting flexibility, but without the bulk of larger dSLR-style megazooms.

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Shooting modes are for every type of photographer, casual to advanced. There is a useful long zoom lens with excellent image stabilization, and overall excellent photo and video quality for a compact megazoom.

The bad: Menus and controls can take getting used to, battery life is short and photos get noticeably softer-looking indoors or in low light.

The cost: $209 to $325.99

The bottom line: The wider, longer lens, a few much-needed design tweaks, and excellent photo quality add up to one pretty great compact megazoom.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Excellent design and feature set, including an ultrawide-angle 20x zoom lens, GPS and semimanual and manual shooting modes, as well as fast shooting performance and improved low-light photo quality from previous versions.

The bad: Using all of the high-performance features, such as the near-pointless touch screen, can cut into battery life. Also, photos are noisy and soft when viewed at 100 percent.

The cost: $229.99 to $294

The bottom line: The zoom lens might be the main attraction, but the camera is all-around excellent.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Excellent photo and video quality for its class, fast shooting performance and plenty of shooting options for everyone.

The bad: It’s expensive, especially when compared with competing models. It’s not the easiest to use and the feature set is so deep it might be overwhelming for some users.

The cost: $299.99 to $419.99

The bottom line: The feature-rich camera has a great mix of speed and photo quality.

Samsung WB850F

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: A feature-packed compact megazoom with a versatile lens, very good picture quality and excellent Wi-Fi capabilities.

The bad: Shooting performance is a bit mixed, battery life is mediocre and interface, while very good, can take some time to learn.

The cost: $288 to $379.99

The bottom line: For snapshooters looking to enter the world of connected cameras, this is a good place to start.

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Thirst for power? Or just thirst? Sen. Marco Rubio’s weird, viral dry-mouth moment

Sen. Marco Rubio was cruising along in his rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night when he couldn’t take it any longer.

The small bottle of Poland Spring water was irresistible. Eyes fixed on the camera, the Florida Republican interrupted his own speech to take a live swig.

It quenched his thirst, but sent Twitter ablaze. The small, live on-camera miscue helped throw cold water on his GOP response to the president’s speech. As if on demand, a tidal wave of mock handles flooded Twitter.

"I voted in favor of the Violence Against Water Bottles Act," @ThirstySenator, tweeted. BuzzFeed noted hundreds, if not thousands, of such accounts and jokes instantly sprang up on Twitter.

Rubio poked fun at himself, later tweeting a picture of the water bottle "#GOPResponse #SOTU #gop #tcot."

Former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer captured the GOP sentiment about the antediluvian and postdiluvian aspects of the speech.

"Go Marco!" he tweeted early on. Then came the sip heard round the world.

"Hint to Sen. Rubio: crank down the AC before a big speech under the lights. But this is still a very well delivered speech," Fleischer wrote.

CBS Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer commented on national television that people were going to remember the sip more than the speech.

Rubio loves his water. Remember the strange Clint Eastwood speech at the Republican National Convention (where he yelled at a chair)? Rubio followed him and made a nervous joke — after he took a sip from a water bottle at the podium.

“I think I just drank Clint Eastwood’s water,” Rubio smiled. Rubio’s speech that night was solid, but he flubbed a line at the very end, accidentally calling for “more government instead of more freedom.”

From a theatrical perspective, the RNC address and tonight’s speech were a sign that Rubio isn’t at his best with a prepared speech. His rhetorical skills are better designed for the floor of the Senate, in a give-and-take debate or during an interview. Off the cuff, Rubio seems far less likely to come up short.... or thirsty.

Regardless, this on-camera incident was just inexplicably odd for a politician so accustomed to being under the media spotlight.

"In the short time I’ve been in government, nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the ones the president laid out today," Rubio said Tuesday night, reaching for the water bottle.

One second.

Two seconds.

Three seconds.

"The choice isn’t just between big government or big business," he resumed after taking his swig. "What we need is an accountable, efficient and effective government that allows small and new businesses to create more middle-class jobs...."

I’m sorry, you were saying something?

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Oscar Nominees Before They Were Famous

As hard as it may be to believe, Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence were once fresh-faced actors itching for their big break in the biz.

Pics: Star Sightings!

Click the video to see the five stars (before they became famous) in their very first on-screen roles!

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Police find charred body in burned cabin where rogue cop Christopher Dorner was holed up; police think it's him

The manhunt for a former Los Angeles police officer suspected of going on a killing spree converged Tuesday on a mountain cabin where authorities believe he barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shootout that killed a deputy and then never emerged as the home went up in flames.

A single gunshot was heard from within. San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said Tuesday night that a charred body was found inside the burned-out cabin.

Investigators will use forensic tests to determine if the body belongs to Christopher Dorner. If the results are positive, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week will have ended the way he had expected — death, with the police pursuing him. He is believed to have killed at least four people.

HELLFIRE: Flames consume the Big Bear Lake, Calif., cabin where fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner was holed up yesterday during a police siege.

KABC; Inset: Splash News

HELLFIRE: Flames consume the Big Bear Lake, Calif., cabin where fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner was holed up yesterday during a police siege.

Thousands of officers had been on the hunt for the former Navy reservist since police said he launched a campaign to exact revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing. They say he threatened to bring "warfare" to officers and their families, spreading fear and setting off a search for him across the Southwest and Mexico.

"Enough is enough. It's time for you to turn yourself in. It's time to stop the bloodshed," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said at a news conference held outside police headquarters in Los Angeles, a starkly different atmosphere than last week when Dorner was on the loose and officials briefed the news media under heavy security in an underground hallway.

A short time after Smith spoke Tuesday, smoke began to rise from the cabin in the snow-covered woods near Big Bear Lake, a resort town about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. Flames then engulfed the building — images that were broadcast on live television around the world. TV helicopters showed the fire burning freely with no apparent effort to extinguish it.

"We have reason to believe that it is him," said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman, adding that she didn't know how the fire started. She noted there was gunfire between the person in the cabin and officers around the home before the blaze began.

Earlier, there were conflicting reports about whether a body had been found inside shortly after the fire, with both the Los Angeles and San Bernardino authorities disputing the find in separate news conferences. But an official later told the AP a body had been seen in the rubble. The official requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Until Tuesday, authorities didn't know whether Dorner was still near Big Bear Lake, where they found his burned-out pickup last week.

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U.S. Century to OK details of new deal

U.S. Century Bank is expected to sign off on Monday on its letter of intent — the framework for a plan to recapitalize the bank.

Under the deal, a local group of investors, led by Jimmy Tate of Tate Capital and Sergio Rok of Rok Enterprises, will bring in fresh capital and wipe out the Doral bank’s bad loans, while allowing it to operate independently.

The investor group is expected to inject $50 million in capital into the bank, becoming majority owners. In addition, the group will pay about $90 million to buy certain loans, including all $98 million of U.S. Century’s non-performing loans, said U.S. Century President and Chief Executive Carlos J. Dávila. The deal would also provide for a negotiated amount to be paid to the federal government to repay U.S. Century’s $50.2 million in TARP funds.

A definitive agreement, based on the letter of intent, is expected next month. Pending shareholder and regulatory approval, the deal could be completed by mid-year, Dávila said.

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'Gun bounty' suspects open fire on Miami-Dade cops; 1 suspect wounded, another at large

A wounded suspect was in custody Tuesday morning after a pair of men opened fire on Miami-Dade police at a Florida City home and officers returned fire.

A search is on for the second suspect.

According to Miami-Dade police, officers on Monday night went to a residence at 326 NE Eighth Ave. after receiving a "gun bounty tip," police said Tuesday morning.

"As the officers approached the residence, two subjects immediately open fire at the officers. The officers returned fire and both subjects fled the area," police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said.

Police found one of the suspects, wounded by gunfire, in an area hospital. They did not release his name nor the names of the officers involved.

The second suspect remains at large.

Police recovered two guns outside of the Florida City house.

No officers were injured in the trade of gunfire that happened just before 9 p.m.

Late Monday night, a police helicopter and K-9 units circled the area with a giant spotlight apparently searching for suspects. A six-block radius around the shooting was closed off to traffic.

This article will be updated when more details become available.

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Bachelor Recap Sean's Sister Provides Perspective on Tierra

Apparently there is one girl whose words have weight enough to sway The Bachelor from his affections for Tierra, and that's his sister Shay.

One week prior to the all-important hometown dates, Sean flies his sister to St. Croix to help him work out his feelings for the remaining six. Harking back to her sage, sisterly advice before he embarked on his Bachelor adventure, Shay tells Sean not to "end up with a girl no one likes." The words strike a painful chord with him seeing as Tierra's alienation from the other ladies is no longer a secret.

Pics: 'The Bachelor' Scorecard (Did the Relationships Sizzle or Fizzle?)

Inspired to test his sister's intuition, Sean decides to introduce Tierra to his sibling, but when he arrives to the ladies' hotel, the resident mean girl is found weeping after an all-out war of words with AshLee. At first dismayed by her pain, Sean comes to realize the humane thing to do would be to send Tierra home, fearing she won't be able to handle the more stressful weeks ahead.

"I can't believe they did this to me!" are Tierra's departing words as she is sent packing. "I hope the girls got what they wanted."

During the final rose ceremony in St. Croix, Lesley is cut loose from the remaining five. Despite their incredible connection and friendship, Sean worries that the relationship had gone stagnant.

Pics: Meet 'Bachelor' Sean Lowe's Lucky Ladies!

A confused, crying Catherine takes Lesley's elimination especially hard as she believed that Sean and Les, in her opinion, were better suited for eachother than she will ever be with Mr. Lowe.

Next Monday on ABC, Desiree, Lindsay, Catherine and AshLee will get to introduce their maybe-husband-to-be to the family, but it seems the hometown dates don't go over as well for Des in particular, whose protective brother appears unwilling to accept her "playboy" boyfriend.

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North Korea conducts third controversial nuke test, using smallest A-bomb yet


A monitor at the Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division shows ground motion data from the nuclear test in North Korea.

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea conducted a nuclear test at an underground site in the remote northeast Tuesday, taking an important step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile that could reach United States.

North Korea made clear that the explosion of its third atomic device — which it claimed was smaller than the ones in its previous two tests — was a warning to what it considers a hostile United States. Its actions drew immediate condemnation from Washington, the U.N. and others. Even its only major ally, China, voiced opposition.

"The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level, with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb, unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said.

It was a defiant response to U.N. orders to shut down atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation, as well as a direct message from young leader Kim Jong Un to the United States, Pyongyang's No. 1 enemy since the 1950-53 Korean War.

KCNA said the test is aimed at coping with "the ferocious hostile act of the U.S." That's a reference to what Pyongyang said was Washington's attempts to block its right to launch satellites. North Korea was punished by U.N. sanctions after a December launch of a rocket that the U.N. and Washington called a cover for a banned missile test. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch.

The timing was significant. The test in an underground tunnel came hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to give his State of the Union speech, a major, nationally televised address.

Obama said in a statement Tuesday that the test is "a highly provocative act" and promised to "continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies."

The test also comes only days before the Saturday birthday of Kim Jong Un's father, late leader Kim Jong Il, whose memory North Korean propaganda has repeatedly linked to the country's nuclear ambitions. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, and in late February South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye will be inaugurated.

North Korea is estimated to have enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to American nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker.

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U.S. Century to OK details of new deal

U.S. Century Bank is expected to sign off on Monday on its letter of intent — the framework for a plan to recapitalize the bank.

Under the deal, a local group of investors, led by Jimmy Tate of Tate Capital and Sergio Rok of Rok Enterprises, will bring in fresh capital and wipe out the Doral bank’s bad loans, while allowing it to operate independently.

The investor group is expected to inject $50 million in capital into the bank, becoming majority owners. In addition, the group will pay about $90 million to buy certain loans, including all $98 million of U.S. Century’s non-performing loans, said U.S. Century President and Chief Executive Carlos J. Dávila. The deal would also provide for a negotiated amount to be paid to the federal government to repay U.S. Century’s $50.2 million in TARP funds.

A definitive agreement, based on the letter of intent, is expected next month. Pending shareholder and regulatory approval, the deal could be completed by mid-year, Dávila said.

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With millions at stake, tutoring lobby goes into action

Second of two parts

Every year for nearly a decade, private tutoring companies have made millions in Florida because the federal government required school districts to hire them.

That was in danger of changing last February, when the state won freedom from mandated private instruction for poor children in the state's worst schools.

But the tutoring industry wasn't letting go without a fight.

At the end of last year's legislative session, Florida became a key target as the tutoring lobby battled to retain funding.

The effort paid off in March, when state lawmakers quietly voted to keep the money flowing.

The moment marked a major victory for the tutoring industry, but, as the Tampa Bay Times reported on Sunday, it also ensured the survival of a program that is shot through with cheating, opportunism and fraud.

In tracing the new law from the agenda books of a special interest group to the pages of state statutes, the Times reviewed public records and interviewed legislators, lobbyists, education officials and advocates.

It found that the push to fund tutoring in Florida was part of a national campaign by the industry, an undertaking that failed in other places but succeeded in Tallahassee.

To save tutoring, the industry formed a nonprofit group that sold the effort as a civil rights struggle, spent $2.4 million on campaign contributions and lobbying fees and pushed legislation in states across the country.

In New York and Maryland, tutoring companies and their lobbyists battled fiercely for a law requiring funding and still made no headway.

In Florida, all it took was a phone call.

Rallying support

By the summer of 2010, midway through President Barack Obama's second year in office, tutoring companies that had thrived on government contracts knew they were in trouble.

Industry groups were expecting the administration to gut requirements for private tutoring, known as supplemental educational services, that made up a key part of President George W. Bush's education reform act, No Child Left Behind.

What the industry needed was a campaign to rally people who otherwise might not show support. The solution? Defend subsidized tutoring as a civil rights cause.

Steve Pines, head of the Education Industry Association, previewed the strategy in a PowerPoint presentation for tutoring companies in June 2010. His organization, a trade group for for-profit education businesses, would spend $1.5 million to help launch a nonprofit called Tutor Our Children.

The new organization would hire lobbyists, create a pro-tutoring website and encourage parents to flood public officials with support for mandated tutoring, all while positioning the campaign as a fight for civil rights.

It cultivated ties to the Urban League of Greater Miami and the United Farm Workers of America. In April 2011, it organized a panel discussion in Washington called "Waiving Away Education Civil Rights."

In October 2011, Tutor Our Children announced it had hired a spokeswoman, Stephanie Monroe, a Washington lobbyist who formerly served as assistant secretary of education for civil rights in the Bush administration.

About a week later, Monroe testified in a Senate hearing on the organization's behalf.

The same day, the group posted on its website a photo of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. It showed an inscription — a quote from King — that reads in part: "Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights."

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Alicia Keys on Record-Breaking Super Bowl Anthem

Alicia Keys was praised for putting her unique twist on the national anthem at Super Bowl XLVII, and she opened up about the experience to Nancy O'Dell on the Grammys red carpet.

PICS: Grammys Fashion

"It felt like a dream actually because it was such a moment and I'd never done that before and I really put a lot of beautiful time into it, so it was an incredible high," Keys gushed.

The Grammy winner's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was recorded as the longest that the big game has ever seen, according to USA Today. The song was reportedly timed at 156.4 seconds, four seconds longer than the previous record held by Natalie Cole.

February has been an especially busy month for Keys, as she is also preparing for her Set the World on Fire tour that launches March 7 in Seattle.

"This tour is going to take it to the next stratosphere," Keys said. "It's going to be a visual, emotional and sonic experience that you're not going to be able to resist."

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JoePa is innocent: kin probe

The family of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno released the findings of their own investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation scandal yesterday — and it exonerated Paterno while blasting an earlier report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh as “fundamentally flawed.”

More than six months after Freeh’s July 2012 report accused Paterno and others of covering up Sandusky’s child abuse, the family’s report, conducted by former US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, concluded there was no conspiracy.

“Mr. Freeh irresponsibly blamed Joe Paterno in this scandal,” wrote Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers.

He accused Freeh of “offering a flawed, one-sided viewpoint” and ripped him for not interviewing Paterno.

Freeh retorted that he stood by his conclusions and specifically said Paterno refused to meet with him while still finding time to grant interviews to a newspaper reporter and his biographer before his death in January 2012 at age 85.

Freeh called the family’s report “self-serving.”

Critique of the Freeh Report by

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Miami-Dade mayor disappointed at Major League Baseball over All-Star Game

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was swept into office in part because of his opposition to the public financing for the Marlins’ new baseball stadium.

But that doesn’t mean he was happy when Major League Baseball awarded the 2015 All-Star Game to Cincinnati. Marlins President David Samson said last year he hoped to host the game, continuing a streak of All-Star games at new ballparks. That was before the team decimated its roster and chopped its payroll after last season.

After MLB Commissioner Bud Selig made the Cincinnati announcement last month, Gimenez sent him a letter expressing his disappointment. And the mayor phoned Selig last week, according to Gimenez’s calendar.

“[N]ow that the facility is built and operating, it is my responsibility to ensure its greatest benefit to our residents,” Gimenez wrote.

“Public sentiment regarding the Stadium is at an all-time low, and now we are further disappointed by the recent announcement...[I]t is clear that Miami has been benched once again, this time by Major League Baseball.”

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Police: 4 wounded in shooting on Bourbon Street in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Four people were shot on the French Quarter's iconic Bourbon Street, sending people running as revelers partied Saturday night amid the countdown to Mardi Gras, police and bystanders said. But the party was back in full force hours later as crowds returned afterward.

Two males and two females were wounded just before 9:30 p.m. time, New Orleans police spokesman Frank B. Robertson said. He reported that one male was in critical condition and had undergone surgery, while the other three were in stable condition. He did not release their ages.

Robertson said detectives were working to identify a suspect and determine a motive. A police statement said the shooting occurred on the French Quarter street, but did not provide the exact location where the shots were fired. He said he had no additional information immediately.

"They're just piecing together what happened," he added. Subsequent messages left with police seeking more information were not immediately returned.

The streets were crawling with bar-hopping throngs taking in the last weekend before Fat Tuesday, the enormous party that engulfs New Orleans each year with parades, gaudy floats and merrymakers tossing trinkets and beads to the crowds.

Bourbon Street street is home to strip clubs, watering holes and second-floor balconies lined by people who throw beads to revelers below each Mardi Gras season. The street often gets so crowded that officers have to control the crowds on horseback.

Patrick Clay, 21, an LSU student, told The Times-Picayune he was standing on the corner of Bourbon Street when suddenly he saw a crowd running and people screaming that there was a shooting.

"Everyone immediately started running and the cops immediately started running toward where people were running from," Clay said. "I was with a group of about seven people and at that point we all just kind of grasped hands and made our way through the crowd as soon as possible."

Afterward, police moved in to investigate. Many revelers said they stayed hunkered down in bars and other establishments until police cleared them to move freely.

WWL-TV reported that police had obtained surveillance video from one of the establishments as part of the investigation.

"We don't know what happened but they shut down the entire block for an hour," Peter Manabani, an employee at the Rat's Hole bar, told AP as loud music thumped in the background. He said the block reopened shortly before midnight and his establishment was again thronged entering the early hours.

Early Sunday there were no signs a shooting had occurred, as revelers had returned to party mode, packing the block anew amid a heavy police presence. Many milled about, wearing beads, drinking and carousing.

"It's scary. We heard about the shooting in the cab ride down here and almost turned around but it's our first Mardi Gras and we wanted to be here," said Ashley Holleran, 19, of Allendale, N.J., visiting with a friend from New York.

Laura Gonzalez, 21, of Baytown, Texas, said it was also her first Mardi Gras and she spent some time in the Fat Catz Bar nearby as police investigated the shooting. She said the bar quickly locked its doors soon after the shooting and wouldn't let anyone in or out while police kept the crime scene clear of throngs.

Asked if it was frightening, she responded: "Not really. We were just locked in a bar and we weren't going to let this one incident wreck our party."

Parades rolled all day Saturday but none on Bourbon Street because the streets are too narrow. One of the biggest Mardi Gras parades, the Krewe of Endymion, rolled down Canal Street and just skirted Bourbon Street a few hours before the shooting. Typically, once the parades end, partygoers head to the French Quarter.

The lifeblood tourism trade is vital to New Orleans and Mardis Gras is one of the city's signature events, along with Jazz Fest and major sporting events such as the recent Super Bowl. Yet decades-old problems persist and New Orleans remains plagued by violent crime, including gun violence that soared after Hurricane Katrina clobbered the city in 2005.

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