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Madonna fan on probation

A former firefighter with a crush on Madonna has been given three years probation for resisting arrest outside the singer's New York City home.

Robert Linhart was convicted in November after being twice arrested in September 2010. Police say Linhart, then 59, was arrested after he parked his SUV outside the star's former Manhattan apartment and spray-painted love notes on poster boards. He returned a few days later and was arrested again. His lawyer Lawrence LaBrew said Linhart would appeal.



Priests want to help Chavez

A group of top Afro-Cuban priests say Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez should seek their help following his fourth cancer-related operation.

In their annual New Year's forecast known as the Letter Of The Year, the Santeria priests, or "babalawo", expressed hope that Mr Chavez, whose condition in a Cuban hospital is described as "delicate", would ask for their assistance in getting well.



No demotion for 'bully' boss

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has allowed a three-star army general accused of bullying subordinates to retire without demotion.

A Pentagon inspector general's investigation last year found that Lt Gen Patrick O'Reilly regularly yelled and screamed at subordinates, and demeaned and belittled employees.

Mr Panetta determined that Lt Gen O'Reilly had met the basic standard for being allowed to retire without a loss in rank, which is that he "served satisfactorily" as a three-star general.



$1 reusable cup at Starbucks

Starbucks is rolling out a one-dollar reusable plastic cup at its US cafes.

The Seattle-based coffee chain already gives US customers a dime discount each time they bring in reusable cups for refills. Now it is hoping the new cups -- which bear its logo and resemble its white paper cups -- will increase the habit.

As with other reusable cups, the new cups will be cleaned with boiling water each time customers bring them in.