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Taking Names: Rihanna among 300 evacuated in London hotel fire

- - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The London Fire Brigade said Rihanna was among 300 people evacuated from a hotel after an early-morning fire in an elevator shaft.

The 24-year-old singer tweeted news of the fire early Wednesday to her 21 million Twitter followers, posting a picture of a fire engine and the words: "Roamin da streets since 6 a.m.! Fyah in da telly."

The fire brigade said 10 firefighters dealt with the blaze on the seventh floor of London's luxury Corinthia Hotel. There were no reports of injuries.

Rihanna performed Sunday at the outdoor Hackney Weekend concert in London.

Bieber's new album debuts at No. 1 in 30 countries

Justin Bieber's "Believe" is the year's top-selling debut album.

Nielsen SoundScan reports sales of 374,000 copies following its release last week, giving the 18-year-old Canadian pop singer his fourth No. 1 album and the best sales week of his young career. "Believe" also debuted at No. 1 in 29 other countries.

The album topped Madonna's "MDNA" as the year's top debut thus far and is the best-selling first-week release since Drake's "Take Care" came out in December. Kenny Chesney's "Welcome to the Fishbowl" followed Mr. Bieber last week with 193,000 albums sold.

Mr. Bieber has sold more than 15 million albums since he released his first record in 2009.

Fans have been impatiently awaiting the release of "Believe," viewing the video for the title single 86 million times on YouTube and putting four songs in the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart simultaneously.

Jack White to headline New Orleans Voodoo festival

Touring in support of his critically acclaimed debut solo album, "Blunderbuss," Jack White has been added to the lineup for the 2012 Voodoo Music and Arts Experience in New Orleans.

Mr. White joins other headliners for the event, set for Oct. 26 through 28, including Grammy Award-winning trio Green Day and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

Other talent previously announced includes the Avett Brothers, electronic dance music star Skrillex, Justice, Tomahawk, Say Anything, funk bassist Bootsy Collins, blues-rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr. and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Three-day general-admission passes are $175. Tickets are available via www.thevoodooexperience.com. For the first time, this year's festival also will offer on-site camping inside New Orleans' historic City Park.

Hilary Swank advocates for stray dogs in Romania

Thousands of Romanian street dogs have found a friend in Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank.

Ms. Swank, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a waitress-turned-boxer in "Million Dollar Baby," visited Bucharest last week and showed a different kind of skill: fighting for animal rights.

Ms. Swank, who said travel has been her best education, rarely leaves home without Kai, a devoted Jack Russell stray she rescued in Los Angeles.

In the Romanian capital last week, she visited projects set up by the animal welfare foundation Vier Pfoten that encourage interaction between stray dogs and institutionalized people.

Bucharest has 35,000 strays and their fate has sparked a fierce debate. Some think they should be put down, others advocate putting the dogs in shelters, while others want strays to be sterilized.

Ms. Swank spoke to the Associated Press about her devotion to animals, her belief in sterilization and the ways street dogs can help disadvantaged people.

"I believe that is so healing to these children who don't trust people anymore," she said. "The unconditional love of an animal is very healing and teaches them about not just unconditional love, but about a relationship, about responsibility, about anger management."

Ms. Swank said she is starting a U.S. charity called Hilaroo to bring needy children and animals together. The charity combines her name and that of her late dog, Karoo.

"I've seen firsthand how it changes the path of the soul, for the animal and for the child," she said.

Visiting a retirement home, she talked about one special dog that changed the life of an elderly woman.

"There was a woman didn't get out of bed, and after a few weeks of the dog coming to visit, she's up walking," she said. "The dog literally got her out of bed."

Last week, the 37-year-old actress was in Paris for the Salvatore Ferragamo Cruise Collection 2013 show.

Next month, she begins work on "Martha and Mary," an HBO movie with Brenda Blethyn about two women trying to eradicate malaria. Directed by Phillip Noyce, it will be shot in North Carolina and South Africa.

Before leaving Bucharest, she urged people to neuter unwanted dogs and cats rather than kill them.

"I believe in a 'No-Kill' policy," she said. "Hopefully, [we are] getting to a place where we have 'No-Kill' universally and just a more caring attitude in general to all animals."

• Compiled from Web and wire reports