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February 18, 2012

Greek museum looted

Armed robbers have stolen scores of ancient artifacts from a museum in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics, sparking the resignation of Greece's culture minister and adding to concerns over the state's ability to guard the country's national treasures.

Authorities in Athens and Olympia said Friday that at least two thieves tied up the museum's sole night guard before fleeing with priceless artifacts, including bronze, clay and gold items used by ancient athletes during the Games.

Television and radio networks interrupted scheduled programs to broadcast details of what police called a "well-calculated" hit. The news left many Greeks in a state of shock.

The theft, which comes just weeks after burglars snatched from the National Gallery in Athens an oil painting by Pablo Picasso and one by Piet Mondrian, triggered the resignation of Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos. It remained unclear, however, whether Prime Minister Lucas Papademos accepted Geroulanos' offer to step down.

—Anthee Carassava

Jackson estate sues ex-manager

Michael Jackson's estate filed suit against his former manager Friday, demanding the return of millions of dollars and accusing him of duping the pop star into an extraordinarily generous compensation package in the years before his death.

The suit asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to void agreements that gave Tohme R. Tohme a 15% cut of Jackson's pay as well as a $35,000-a-month salary and a cut of the sale of the Neverland Ranch.

Tohme, who the suit claims had no background in the entertainment industry, helped negotiate the terms of Jackson's final doomed comeback attempt, a series of London concerts. After Jackson's 2009 death, he filed a claim against his estate, saying he was owed at least $2.3 million.

Estate lawyers wrote that it was Tohme who owed Jackson money and asked he be ordered to turn over records of his management of the singer's affairs.

Tohme declined to comment beyond saying that he was filing his own suit against the estate.

—Harriet Ryan

Charlie Sheen trashes 'Men'

Charlie Sheen is done playing nice, it appears.

On Thursday, Sheen — sounding quite a bit like the cantankerous star who rampaged across pop culture in early 2011 — called in to "TMZ Live" to complain about "Two and a Half Men," the CBS sitcom from which he was fired last year.

"I'm tired of lying," Sheen said. "I'm tired of pretending the show doesn't suck. I'm tired of pretending Ashton [Kutcher] doesn't suck. I'm tired of pretending that they're not completely adrift. Because when you take away the anchor of your show, which they stupidly did, you go adrift. And these guys are approaching salvage vessel."

That was a far cry from September, when Sheen appeared on the Emmy Awards and addressed his former colleagues on "Two and a Half Men": "From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent eight wonderful years together, and I know you will continue to make great television."

—Patrick Kevin Day

Grohl clarifies Grammy speech

Foo Fighters singer and guitarist Dave Grohl on Friday clarified the Grammy acceptance speech of Sunday in which he seemed to go off on musicians who made music on computers.

The reaction on Twitter and in reviews of the show took him to task, pointing out that not only was his response heavy-handed but that he and his band not an hour later took the stage with electronic artist Deadmau5 in an electro-infused rock jam.

Grohl released a statement Friday in which he said, "I love music. I love ALL kinds of music. From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5.... Electronic or acoustic, it doesn't matter to me. The simple act of creating music is a beautiful gift that ALL human beings are blessed with. And the diversity of one musician's personality to the next is what makes music so exciting and ... human."

What he has a problem with, he said, is when digital recording technology is used to override the "human element," resulting in music "that sounds perfect but lacks personality. The one thing that makes music so exciting in the first place."

—Randall Roberts

Buchanan let go by MSNBC

Pat Buchanan has been dismissed by MSNBC, the left-leaning news network, four months after the channel suspended him.

In an angry post on his blog, the conservative commentator took his critics to task, writing, "After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous."

Buchanan said the calls for his firing began with the publication in October of his book "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" about America's decline, which critics have called racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

Buchanan, a former White House aide to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and a former Republican presidential candidate, had been with MSNBC as a political analyst since 2002.

—Patrick Kevin Day

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