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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
UPDATE 12:24 p.m. (EST): The New York Times reports that forces loyal to Syria’s embattled leader Bashar al-Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebel forces in northern Syria. The attack, according to a senior Obama administration official:
Shows, he said, the increasing desperation of Mr. Assad, since Scuds are primarily defensive weapons, being used by the government offensively against a counterinsurgency.
“Using Scuds to target tanks or military bases is one thing,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Using them to target rebels hiding in playgrounds at schools is something else.”
On Tuesday anti-government activists in Damascus said “Regime forces are firing land missiles that are capable of carrying chemical warheads.” This is significant because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Syria’s use of chemical weapons in a civil war would violate a “red line.”
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More than 100 countries on Wednesday formally recognized the Syrian opposition coalition. “Friends of Syria,” a group composed of representatives from Western and Arab nations that support the 20-month uprising against Bashar al-Assad, convened in Morocco to formalize international recognition of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the sole legitimate political representative of the Syrian people.
On Tuesday, the U.S. delivered a further blow to the Assad regime’s frail legitimacy. In an interview with ABC News, President Obama said that the U.S. will formally recognize the coalition as the de facto leadership of rebel-controlled areas in Syria.
“We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime,” Obama said. Britain, France, Turkey and others have already recognized the legitimacy of the rebel coalition.
Reuters obtained a draft declaration from the “Friends of Syria,” which noted, “Participants acknowledge the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the umbrella organization under which the Syrian opposition are gathering … Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy and should stand aside to allow a sustainable political transition.”
The text also reiterated that were Assad to use chemical weapons against the Syrian people, this would be a red line crossed for the international community.
Obama did not say during his interview whether the U.S. would now be prepared to arm the rebels or offer other military support. Following reports last week that U.S.-authorized weapons sent to rebels in Libya ended up in the hands of Islamist militants, the Obama administration is treading carefully around the issue of arming or militarily assisting Syrian rebels.
Washington is also taking pains to distinguish between which rebel groups it recognizes as legitimate and which it does not. The State Department has declared one resistance group a terrorist organization. “The State Department said the al-Nusra Front for the People of the Levant, which is taking part in the fight on the ground against president Bashar al-Assad, is an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI),” reported the Guardian.
Meanwhile, to cement its legitimacy, the Western-backed coalition will announce Wednesday plans to move hundreds of millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid to Syria’s most beleaguered regions. Two million people are believed to have been displaced inside Syria because of the civil war.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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