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Taking Names: Madonna tells U.S. fans to appreciate their freedom

- - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

As she kicked off the U.S. leg of her "MDNA Tour" in Philadelphia, Madonna said she was happy to party in the U.S. after touring Europe for three months.

The pop icon told the crowd Tuesday night they should "never forget how lucky you are to live where you live and to have the freedom that you have." She made the comments after talking about the arrest of three members of the punk-rock female band Pussy Riot. The women were sentenced to two years in prison after performing a "punk prayer" at Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral in which they called on the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from its leader, Vladimir Putin.

"In my travels around the world, the one thing I truly witnessed is we in America have freedom of speech, freedom of expression," the singer said.

Madonna, who toured most of Europe from June to August, has called for the Pussy Riot members to be freed. Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel also have spoken in the women's favor.

Russian activists recently sued Madonna for millions of dollars, claiming they were offended by her support for gay rights during her show in St. Petersburg. A law passed in February makes it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, and the author of that law has pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna's concert on Aug. 9.

Madonna kicked off her concert late Tuesday, apologizing to the crowd, who began to boo before she hit the stage at about 10:30 p.m.

"We had many changes to make from Europe to America, and I wanted the show to be perfect for you because my fans deserve it and, quite frankly, I deserve it," she said.

Illness forces Duran Duran to cancel rest of tour

Duran Duran is canceling several concerts because of the illness of keyboard player Nick Rhodes.

The band already had called off concerts in the past week in Pittsburgh; in Kettering, Ohio; outside Chicago; and in Atlantic City, N.J.

The band had hoped to reschedule some of the shows, but decided to cancel the final half-dozen shows on its North American tour. That includes the four U.S. concerts and two shows in Orillia, Ontario.

The band has said Mr. Rhodes is suffering from exhaustion or a possible viral infection.

According to the band's website, "Nick held out all week, hoping that he would be well enough to perform again for these final few shows, but unfortunately the medical advice he has been given today requires him to continue to rest."

Will.i.am's new single has out-of-this-world premiere

Will.i.am has premiered his new single — from Mars.

The NASA rover Curiosity beamed to Earth his new song "Reach for the Stars" on Tuesday in the first music broadcast from another planet, to the delight of students who gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to listen.

The song had been uploaded to the rover, which landed near the equator of Mars, and played back — a journey of some 700 million miles.

The musician, who promotes science and mathematics education, was among more than a dozen celebrities invited to the lab to watch Curiosity's landing earlier this month. Others included Wil Wheaton, Seth Green and Morgan Freeman.

In 2008, NASA beamed the Beatles' "Across the Universe" into the cosmos to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the song.

Lohan won't be charged in Hollywood Hills burglary

Lindsay Lohan will not be prosecuted for a burglary at a home where she had been a houseguest, prosecutors determined Tuesday.

The decision came after Los Angeles police detectives presented a potential felony burglary case against the actress and two men who were reportedly at the Hollywood Hills home of a longtime acquaintance after several items went missing earlier this month.

Prosecutors cited lack of evidence to prove Miss Lohan was involved in the thefts at the home. The items taken were described as keys, cash, sunglasses and a credit card holder. The homeowner, businessman Sam Magid, is an acquaintance of Miss Lohan and later told authorities he did not want to pursue a case.

"Lindsay is glad this matter has been cleared up so she can focus on her upcoming projects," her spokesman Steve Honig said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

One of the men police interviewed was Miss Lohan's assistant, who told authorities that he, the actress and another man went into the home early Aug. 18. Some items were taken, but the assistant refused to say who stole them, according to a memo rejecting the charges.

"We do not have sufficient evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt," the prosecution memo states. The document also noted that none of the missing items were found in the possession of Miss Lohan or the two men who were believed to be at the house on the day of the burglary.

Los Angeles police said their investigation into the thefts will continue.

Miss Lohan remains on probation for a 2011 case in which she pleaded no contest to taking a $2,500 necklace without permission. After completing a strict counseling and morgue cleanup duty program implemented by a judge, Miss Lohan no longer has to report to a judge, but she faces jail time if she is charged with another crime.

In recent months she has resumed acting, portraying Elizabeth Taylor in a Lifetime movie about the actress' love affair with Richard Burton.

She also recently filmed "The Canyons," a film by "Less Than Zero" author Bret Easton Ellis. That film has Miss Lohan playing opposite James Deen, who is best known as an adult film star.

Compiled from Web and wire reports