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June 6, 2012 at 1:59 PM
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Author Ray Bradbury dead at 91

LOS ANGELES, June 6 (UPI) -- Science-fiction titan Ray Bradbury died in Los Angeles Wednesday, his family said. He was 91.

The sci-fi Web site io9 confirmed his death but did not report the exact cause or location of it.

The Illinois native penned the classics "Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes."

"If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone's memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it's always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know," his grandson, Danny Karapetian, told io9.

"If you're looking for any single passage to remember him by, I just picked up my copy of 'The Illustrated Man,' my favorite of his books. The introduction is entitled 'Dancing, So as Not to Be Dead,' and there are some great lines about death. My favorite: 'My tunes and numbers are here. They have filled my years, the years when I refused to die. And in order to do that I wrote, I wrote, I wrote, at noon or 3 a.m. So as not to be dead."

Bradbury is the author of more than three dozen books, and penned the screenplay for John Huston's famous 1956 adaptation of "Moby Dick," HarperCollins noted on its Web site.

He adapted 65 of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater and won an Emmy for his teleplay of "The Halloween Tree." In 2000, Bradbury was honored by the National Book Foundation with a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He is the winner of the 2004 National Medal of Arts and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, his publisher said.

ABC's Walters sorry for helping Assad aide

NEW YORK, June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. TV newscaster and talk show host Barbara Walters apologized for using her influence to try to help a former top aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said e-mails showed Walters, of ABC News and the ABC-TV daytime talk show "The View," tried to help the 22-year-old daughter of Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari get accepted into the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and get a CNN internship.

Walters wrote to CNN host Piers Morgan and to a professor at the school on behalf of Sheherazad Jaafari, 22, the newspaper said.

When confronted with the e-mails, obtained by a Syrian opposition group and viewed by the Telegraph, Walters admitted a conflict of interest and expressed "regret" for her actions.

Walters was ranked No. 34 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time in 1996.

Sheherazad Jaafari was a close media adviser to Assad who was "at his side" when Syrian troops stepped up their campaign of killing and repression of Syria's unarmed opposition, the Telegraph reported.

She would speak to him several times a day, sometimes calling him "the Dude" in her adopted American accent, the newspaper said, and was sometimes the only Syrian official present when Assad did interviews with Western journalists.

Her father began dealing with Walters late last year when ABC News lobbied for an interview with Assad.

Walters interviewed Assad in December -- his first with a U.S. TV network since the Arab spring. In the interview, he denied responsibility for the anti-opposition crackdown.

Sheherazad Jaafari and Walters stayed in close contact after the interview, the e-mails indicate, with the younger Jaafari calling Walters her "adopted mother" and Walters calling the young woman "dear girl."

Walters sometimes signed her e-mails, "Hugs, Barbara," the Telegraph said.

Jaafari did not ultimately get accepted by Columbia and did not get the CNN internship, the newspaper said.

In a statement, Walters said: "In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms. Jaafari returned to the U.S. and contacted me looking for a job [at ABC News]. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn't get a job or into school. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."

Neither ABC News, "The View," CNN, Columbia nor the Jaafaris had any immediate comment.

Queen: Jubilee response 'humbling'

LONDON, June 6 (UPI) -- Queen Elizabeth II ended Britain's celebratory Diamond Jubilee weekend Tuesday with an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

The queen was accompanied by only five members of her family -- her heir, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Charles' sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and William's wife, the Duchess of Cambridge -- The Daily Telegraph reported. The choice appeared to be a message that Charles will become king.

Thousands of people endured low temperatures and rain to cheer her.

"Oh, my goodness, how extraordinary," the queen exclaimed as she looked out on a huge crowd waving red, white and blue banners.

A message from Elizabeth to her people was also broadcast Tuesday. She recorded it Monday, shortly after her husband, Prince Philip, was hospitalized.

"The events that I have attended to mark my Diamond Jubilee have been a humbling experience," she said. "It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbors and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere."

While Philip remained in the hospital, his youngest son, Edward, Earl of Wessex, said he was "feeling much better." Philip, who would have been at his wife's side, watched Tuesday's events on television.

The 86-year-old queen appeared strong and cheerful after a grueling weekend. Her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, was unable at 78 to walk down the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral during her own Diamond Jubilee, but Elizabeth managed them with no sign of strain.

The thanksgiving service at St. Paul's was followed by lunch at Westminster Hall and a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

'Raised' still No. 1 on U.S. album chart

LOS ANGELES, June 6 (UPI) -- John Mayer's "Born and Raised" is No. 1 on the U.S. album chart for a second week, Billboard.com reported Wednesday.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 is Adele's "21," followed by Regina Spektor's "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats" at No. 3, One Direction's "Up All Night" at No. 4 and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Here" at No. 5.

Rounding out the top tier are Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" at No. 6, Sigur Ros' "Valtari" at No. 7, the "Now 42" compilation CD at No. 8, Luke Bryan's "Tailgates and Tanlines" at No. 9 and Lionel Richie's "Tuskegee" at No. 10.

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