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Lopez issues statement on Turkmenistan show

Jennifer Lopez sang ‘‘Happy Birthday’’ to the leader of Turkmenistan during a show, but her representative said she wouldn’t have performed there at all if she had known there were human rights issues in the country. The singer and actress performed in the former Soviet bloc country on Saturday night. A statement released Sunday by her publicist to The Associated Press said the event was hosted by the China National Petroleum Corp. and wasn’t a political event. However, the country’s leader, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, did attend. Berdimuhamedow has been criticized for oppressive rule by human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch describes Turkmenistan as ‘‘among the most repressive in the world.’’ After a United Nations visit last month, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said the country had made progress in the area of human rights, but ‘‘a lot more work is needed to . . . ensure practice is in line with international standards.’’ Lopez’s publicist says the event was vetted by Lopez’s staff: ‘‘Had there been knowledge of human rights issues any kind, Jennifer would not have attended.’’ The birthday serenade was a last-minute request made by the corporation to Lopez before she took the stage, and she ‘‘graciously obliged,’’ the statement said.

Ebert honored

The late movie critic Roger Ebert has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Ebert, who worked at the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 40 years, took first place for online columns or blogs on large websites in the NSNC’s annual column contest. The group held its annual conference Saturday in Hartford. Ebert died earlier this year at 70, after a long battle with cancer.

Long weekend

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“Happy first wedding anniversary to my husband. I love you so and am proud to call myself your wife.” A Sunday Tweet from Alec Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, who defended her husband after his threatening and controversial Twitter rant targeting Daily Mail reporter George Stark.

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