Justin Bieber apologizes for middle-finger salute

LOS ANGELES Wed Mar 2, 2011 6:47pm EST

Singers Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez arrive at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Singers Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez arrive at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California February 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Justin Bieber apologized on Wednesday for angrily hoisting his middle finger at paparazzi who buzzed the squeaky-clean pop star and his girlfriend after his birthday dinner in Los Angeles.

The fracas occurred on Tuesday evening when Bieber and Disney starlet Selena Gomez left an Italian restaurant where they had celebrated his 17th birthday.

A grim Bieber made the spontaneous gesture after he took the wheel of their vehicle and Gomez shielded her face. It was a rare outburst by the pop sensation, who is publicly unflappable and upbeat in the toughest of circumstances.

"I'm sorry," he wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "It's not always easy but I know better than to react in anger."

He added that life has its "ups and downs" and that he would make mistakes, but he would learn from them and try to do the right thing.

On the positive side, he told his 7.8 million followers that they had raised more than $40,000 for a charity that provides clean water in poor nations. Separately, TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres said she sold a lock of Bieber's hair at auction for $40,668 with proceeds going to an animal charity.

Equally famed for his soulful voice and the casual flick of his lustrous head of hair, Bieber is the latest in a long line of lovable balladeers to whip up a frenzy among young girls. In little more than a year he went from an obscure singer on YouTube to a pop hero mobbed by screaming girls worldwide.

The Canadian native was the fourth best-selling albums artist in the United States last year, received two Grammy nominations this year, and is currently in theaters with a hit 3D concert movie.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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