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Prince William up in air as search-and-rescue pilot

Britain's Prince William plans to become a full-time search-and-rescue pilot in the Royal Air Force, royal officials said yesterday.

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Clarence House office said Prince William would begin an 18-month training program in January.

William, 26, learned to fly earlier this year during a stint with the air force. He also has served with the Royal Navy and is an officer in the British army.

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Clarence House said the second in line to the throne would transfer from the army to the air force, where he will hold the rank of flying officer. If he completes his course, he will fly Sea King helicopters with one of the RAF's six search-and-rescue teams.

"The time I spent with the RAF earlier this year made me realize how much I love flying," he said.

"Joining search and rescue is a perfect opportunity for me to serve in the forces operationally, while contributing to a vital part of the country's emergency services," he said.

Clarence House said Prince William would continue to carry out royal duties and charity work.

Now a word from you

During the presidential debates, Current TV will broadcast Twitter messages - or "tweets" - from viewers. In close to real time, Current will display comments on the screen while Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama face off.

Joel Hyatt, CEO of Current, which was co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, said that the technique - dubbed "Hack the Debate" - was not Gore's idea but that he and Gore share a dim view of post-debate punditry.

Comments will be filtered, but Hyatt claims they will only be filtered to suit broadcast standards.

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The first presidential debate is set for Sept. 26, with two more debates and a vice presidential debate to follow. Current, partnering with Twitter, will have a similar live stream on its Web site, current.com.

Love ...

Jennifer Hudson got a big surprise on her 27th birthday: an engagement ring. Hudson's beau, David Otunga, popped the question while celebrating the singer's big day in Los Angeles on Friday, her publicist, Jessica Kolstad, said yesterday.

Hudson won a best supporting actress Oscar in 2007 for her role in Dreamgirls. Her film credits also include Sex and the City. The American Idol alum will release her debut solo album Sept. 30.

Otunga appeared as a contestant nicknamed "Punk" on the VH1 reality dating show I Love New York 2.

... and marriage

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George Takei, 71, and his longtime partner, Brad Altman, 54, were married Sunday in a multicultural ceremony in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum that featured a Buddhist priest, Native American wedding bands, a Japanese Koto harp and a bagpipe procession.

The couple, both clad in white dinner jackets with black pants, made a grand entrance to the tune of "One Singular Sensation" from the Broadway musical A Chorus Line.

They stepped into a circle of yellow roses and lilies, where they shared a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and were wed by a Buddhist priest who pronounced them "spouses for life."

Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek, and Altman have been together for 21 years; they wrote their own vows.

Wedding guests included Star Trek stars Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols, who served as best man and best lady, Hollywood executives, local and national government officials and the couple's relatives from around the world.

From Sun news services

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birthdays

Actress Lauren Bacall, 84.

Blues singer B.B. King, 83.

Actor Peter Falk, 81.

Actor Ed Begley Jr., 59.

Magician David Copperfield, 52.

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Singer Marc Anthony, 40.


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