Greymouth’s Jackie Thomas has been crowned the winner of the first season of The X Factor New Zealand. More than 6000 hopefuls had auditioned to be in the running to win the title, a record contract with Sony and a car.
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The Syrian President’s Speech: Surprise! There’s No Surprise
It’s not as if President Bashar al-Assad didn’t have time to go through a few revisions of his much anticipated, much delayed speech before he finally delivered it to Syria’s pliant parliamentarians on Wednesday. It fell well short of the expectations of many, but the MPs gushed over their 45-year-old leader, rising to their feet several times to cheer and chant “with our souls and with our blood we will sacrifice for you Bashar!” and “God, Syria, Bashar only!” At least a dozen stood to shout their support during his speech, or spout sycophantic poetry though some of the TV shots seemed to have been set up to capture these ostensibly spontaneous events before they happened.