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NATO boss in autobiography: Obama backed my candidacy

NATO's secretary-general says his bid to become the alliance's chief was supported by President Barack Obama, who worked behind the scenes to make it happen.

In an autobiography published Friday in Norwegian titled "My Story," former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg wrote that Obama sent him a letter in late 2013 after Stoltenberg had resigned because his Labor Party had lost a parliamentary election.

He said Obama had added a handwritten message: "I hope we have future opportunities to collaborate."

"Little did I know that his staff had spoken to (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel about this," Stoltenberg wrote about the NATO job.

Months later, he met Obama adviser Karen Donfried, who described the president as "the world's best campaign leader" who "is working for you."

On March 28, 2014, Stoltenberg was named the 13th NATO boss after winning support from the four most powerful NATO nations — the United States, Germany, Britain, and France.

Three years earlier, he was prime minister when 77 people were killed in a bombing and shooting rampage in Norway on July 22, 2011. When he was younger, Stoltenberg was actively engaged in the Labor Party's youth summer camps on the island of Utoya where Norway's worst mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, gunned down 69 people after exploding a car bomb at government offices in Oslo that killed another eight people.

"It was brutal," Stoltenberg wrote about slayings at the camp he knew so well.

Norway's prime minister from 2000-2001 and from 2005-2013, he was named special envoy on climate change in December 2013 by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

But when pondering whether to take the NATO job, he remembered that international politics had taught him that "the big nations that decide most of it," not the head of the organizations.

He described the NATO job "as a thrilling task" but admitted that as a young politician he had defended the youth branch's stance that Norway should leave NATO. It did not.

Stoltenberg's news conference for the book was postponed from Friday to Saturday to let him attend Shimon Peres' funeral.

Review: Smooth grooves rule on Herb Alpert's 'Human Nature'

Why mess with success?

Pop-jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert has sold records by the truckload since the 1960s, and if his easy-listening style has become a byword for elevator music, that doesn't make it any less influential.

The 81-year-old founder of the Tijuana Brass returns with an album — his fourth in three years — featuring original compositions alongside tracks by songwriters including Burt Bacharach, seasoned with a light sprinkling of electronic dance music.

Alpert remains a skilled bandleader and arranger. The title track, made famous by Michael Jackson, entirely suits the treatment it gets here: relaxed and largely instrumental, with a Latin groove and a bubbling electronic bassline. The same is true of the lighter-than-air arrangement of Bacharach and Hal David's "Alfie."

The main new element is the strand of electronica underlying Alpert's languid trumpet. It's hardly a radical departure to Alpert's sound, but a skittering electro beat propels Bacharach's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and Alpert's composition "Incognito."

Best of the lot is the closing track, "Doodles," a perky, hip-moving dance tune.

Times change, but Herb Alpert remains resolutely true to himself. And you don't sound this laid-back without working extremely hard.

Music Review: Bon Iver delivers offbeat, self-conscious art

Some weirdness pervades the release of "22, A Million," the third album by Bon Iver — symbols, images and liner notes that feel like they're fraught with meaning. Some of it might be nonsense.

But then there's the music.

An adventurous journey in sound, "22, A Million" is never dull. Altered voices, the familiar falsetto of Bon Iver's mastermind, Justin Vernon, and acoustic and electronic shape-shifting stretch the conventional boundaries of song.

The album "is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self-understanding like a religion," we are told. "If 'Bon Iver, Bon Iver' built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then '22, A Million' is the letting go of that attachment to a place."

See, that might be nonsense; it's at least self-consciously artsy. So it's tempting to dismiss this as an ultimately meaningless collection of look-at-me life themes for hipsters.

But then you give the music another listen.

There are extraordinary moments of sound on this album, with just enough melody to sustain them. A prime example, a cut called "8(Circle)" — the title itself is a symbol — builds from a heartbeat pulse through vaguely achy lyrics on a tidal swell to a spirited crescendo.

Pretensions notwithstanding, it is beautiful.

Will Bon Iver's growing body of sonic experimentation lose its charm and sound dated, like Moby, when the shine wears off?

We may not know for a while — but it hasn't happened yet.

Thomas Rhett Drops New Single, 'Star of the Show' [LISTEN]

Thomas Rhett has released a brand-new track, "Star of the Show," as his next single.

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Story of Ugandan chess player inspires Alicia Keys song

Alicia Keys has always been a supporter of female empowerment, so when the singer watched the new film "Queen of Katwe" and saw its female lead, Phiona Mutesi, win best male chess player, she was overjoyed.

"That was like so good and she played against all these boys because there wasn't anybody else she could play against, and she was the best of all," Keys said. "I think that was really, really powerful."

It was one of the many scenes in the film starring Lupita Nyong'O that inspired the piano-playing star to write "Back to Life," a song about hope and perseverance that plays at the movie's end.

"As far as we feel like we've come — and as far as we've come, we definitely have made strides forward — it's such an important reminder to know that when given opportunity, young people, especially girls, really flourish," Keys said in an interview Wednesday. "It's just that simple."

"Queen of Katwe," which opened last week, stars Madina Nalwanga as a gifted chess player from the Katwe slums in Kampala, Uganda, who reaches new heights in the international chess world. Nyong'O plays the role of her mother and David Oyelowo is her optimistic and passionate chess coach. The true story was directed by Mira Nair.

Keys said it was emotional watching the film, which highlights Uganda, a place Keys has visited and done charity work with through her Keep a Child Alive organization.

"All over the world, and even in all of our backyards, there's just so many incredible stories ... (and) it's great to be a part of continuing to just evolve and diversify the stories that we see and hear," she said. "It's personal to me in the way that I can identify with Phiona finding her way, finding herself. When I say 'Back to Life,' it's like finding your greatest (self), finding what makes you alive. I feel like I myself am learning that more and more every day."

Keys said she's hoping "Back to Life" will satisfy fans who are waiting for her next album, though it could drop any day.

"This is definitely like the best music I've made in my life yet ... because it's like the most vulnerable, most urgent ... it just has such a good vibe to it," said Keys, who has won 15 Grammys and released five studio albums. "It's really kind of this dope cross between art, activism, what's going on in the world, how it makes us feel, who we are; it's personal, it's relatable, it's musical."

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Online:

http://www.aliciakeys.com/home/

http://www.queenofkatwe.com/

Springsteen signs Philadelphia fifth-grader's absence note

A Philadelphia fifth-grader ditched school for the chance to meet rock legend Bruce Springsteen and "The Boss" gladly played along by signing the boy's absence excuse note.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (http://bit.ly/2dzlNOW ) that Michael Fenerty attended a meet-and-greet with the New Jersey native Thursday at the Free Library of Philadelphia with his dad.

Springsteen was in town for a book signing to promote his new autobiography, "Born to Run."

Wanting to follow school procedure, the boy's father brought along a pre-typed note that Springsteen signed to excuse his son's absence.

Springsteen told the boy that he would have to read the note first because that's how he got in trouble with his first contract.

The school's principal only received a photocopy of the note.

___

Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

62 Years Ago: Patsy Cline Signs First Recording Contract

On Sept. 30, 1954, Patsy Cline's career officially got started.

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November court date set in crash that injured Tracy Morgan

Prosecutors and the defense lawyer in the 2014 crash that injured actor Tracy Morgan are due in court in November.

The Home News Tribune (http://mycj.co/2dcnLWb ) reports Nov. 9 was set for a status conference after both sides met at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick on Thursday.

Authorities have charged Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper of Georgia with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault. He has pleaded not guilty.

Investigators say Roper was speeding when he crashed into a limo van carrying Morgan and others on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan was injured and his friend and fellow comedian James McNair was killed.

Morgan reached a settlement with Wal-Mart last year.

November court date set in crash that injured Tracy Morgan

Prosecutors and the defense lawyer in the 2014 crash that injured actor Tracy Morgan are due in court in November.

The Home News Tribune (http://mycj.co/2dcnLWb ) reports Nov. 9 was set for a status conference after both sides met at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick on Thursday.

Authorities have charged Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper of Georgia with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault. He has pleaded not guilty.

Investigators say Roper was speeding when he crashed into a limo van carrying Morgan and others on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan was injured and his friend and fellow comedian James McNair was killed.

Morgan reached a settlement with Wal-Mart last year.

Literature Nobel to be announced Oct. 13, later than usual

The panel that awards the Nobel Prize in literature says this year's winner will be announced on Oct. 13, a week later than in previous years.

Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg confirmed the date to The Associated Press on Friday.

Normally the literature award is announced in the same week as the other Nobel Prizes — which are set for next week — but Wastberg said this year will be different because of the academy's schedule.

He said the academy always meets four Thursdays in a row in the fall to discuss Nobel candidates, starting the penultimate Thursday in September.

This year that day fell on Sept. 22, later than usual, meaning the fourth and final meeting will be held Oct. 13.

The Swedish Academy is typically the last of the Nobel Prize-awarding institutions to set the date of its announcement. Amid the secrecy of the Nobel process, a later date can set off speculation about disagreements in the academy, which Wastberg insisted was not the case this year.

"It's just math," he said.

The literature date completes the schedule for this year's Nobel Prize announcements, which start Monday with the medicine prize, followed by physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, added to the other awards in 1968 through a donation by Sweden's central bank, will be announced on Oct. 10.

Each prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor, or about $930,000.

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