Posted: December 20, 2014 Filed under: Asia, Breaking News, Censorship, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: Advertising, California, Chloe, Culver City, DVD, Facebook, Interview (2007 film), North Korea, Sony, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twitter
Todd Spangler reports: The Facebook and Twitter pages for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “The Interview” — the satirical film at the center of North Korea’s alleged attack on the studio — as of Saturday morning were not accessible.
It’s not clear if Sony deleted the accounts or if hackers had disabled them….(read more)
Posted: December 19, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, White House | Tags: Americans, Baby boomer, Barack Obama, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Duke of Cambridge, Havana, John F. Kennedy, Oval Office, Photography
Barack Obama’s historic peace-deal with Cuba after 50 years of cold war hostility was a breakthrough not to be sniffed at.
But that didn’t stop the US president having a try, when he got close and personal to a Cuban on Wednesday … not a citizen, but a cigar.
Significantly, it was the first time in 52 years that a US president has officially savoured the Cuban delicacy since John F. Kennedy stockpiled a secret stash of his favourite Havanas in the hours before he imposed a trade embargo on the Communist state in 1962.
Obama was attending one of two White House receptions to welcome the start of Hanukkah when a guest handed him a large stogie.
He took it in his hand and waved it in the air before running it under his nose for a whiff.
The room fell near-silent as he paused to take in its aroma, before declaring it ‘pretty good’ to everyone’s relief. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Hacker (computer security), National Defence Commission, North Korea, Pyongyang, Republic of Korea–United States relations, SEOUL, Sony, Sony Pictures Entertainment, South Korea, United States
On Thursday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer said Sony Pictures made a bad choice to scrap the release of The Interview.
“I think this is not sort of rocket science, Sony made exactly the wrong decision. What you do is…you put it out on the Internet for free. So it’s a gesture, but also it doubly screws over Pyongyang.”
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Censorship, Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Interview (2007 film), James Franco, Kim Jong-il, Matt Stone, North Korea, Seth Rogen, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Team America: World Police, Trey Parker
Three movie theaters say Paramount Pictures has ordered them not to show Team America: World Police one day after Sony Pictures surrendered to cyberterrorists and pulled The Interview. The famous Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, Capitol Theater in Cleveland, and Plaza Atlanta in Atlanta said they would screen the movie instead of The Interview but Paramount has ordered them to stop. (No reason was apparently given and Paramount hasn’t spoken.) Team America of course features Kim’s father, Kim Jong-Il, as a singing marionette.
In 2004, North Korea demanded Team America be banned in the Czech Republic….(read more)
The Daily Beast
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Diplomacy, Global, War Room | Tags: Cuba, Cuban exile, Cuban Project, Fidel Castro, Fulgencio Batista, List of leaders of the Soviet Union, Marty Lederhandler, Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Union, United States
Mike Gonzales continues: “When I came into office, I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy,” Obama said, proving once again that last month’s midterm shellacking seems to have had an odd effect on our president. Rather than make him humble, rejection at the polls has liberated him to do all the things he wants in his “legacy.”
“The Castros are still in power not because of the embargo, but because they practice state terror.”
His rationale for acting was instructive, too. In essence, for 15 minutes Obama reeled off a list of talking points one could hear anywhere from the Left Bank of the River Seine to, say, any dusty classroom in Cuba. The only thing missing was the picture of Che so omnipresent in Paris or Havana. The image his platitudes sought to create was the following: the embargo, not Communism’s internal insanity, has left Cuba a pauperized police state; our relations have been frozen by ideology, not principles or national interests; and the United States used to be Cuba’s colonial power.
Now, the one thing all these views have in common is that they are A, untrue, and B, favorite talking points of the international Left.
President Obama Versus Reality
Obama: “I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the Cold War and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between the two countries.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, U.S. News, War Room | Tags: Arraignment, Associated Press, Boston, Boston Marathon, Capital punishment, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hearing (law), Jury selection, Lawyer, Right to a fair trial
Dzhokhar appeared in court under heavy security Thursday ahead of his trial next month for the bombing of the Boston Marathon, telling the judge he was satisfied with his lawyers.
Tsarnaev, wearing gray pants, a black sweater-vest and a tie, was led in handcuffs into a federal courthouse in Boston for a pretrial hearing. It was his first appearance since July 2013.
Asked by the judge whether he had been kept up to speed on the court proceedings, Tsarnaev answered: “Yes, Your Honor.” Asked whether his lawyers were representing him adequately, he said, “They are.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Cuba, Havana, media, New York City, New York Post, news, North Korea, Sony, Tabloid
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Diplomacy, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Alan Phillip Gross, Barack Obama, Cuba, Cuba–United States relations, Cuban American, Cuban exile, Diplomacy, Little Havana, Miami, United States, United States embargo against Cuba
Havana (CNN) — Church bells rang out Wednesday afternoon in Havana, marking a major moment in history — Cuba and the United States are renewing diplomatic relations after decades of ice-cold tension.
Word of the massive change was met with passionate opinions and some protests in the United States. And tearful celebrations erupted in the streets of the island after President Raul Castro announced the news in a televised address.
“With the main obstacle for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations eliminated, the only unknown is the next step. Is the Cuban government planning another move to return to a position of force vis-a-vis the U.S. government? Or are all the cards on the table this time, before the weary eyes of a population that anticipates that the Castro regime will also win the next move.”
– Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger
But there was uncertainty and some anger amid the joy.
Dissident Cuban blogger Yusnaby Perez tweeted that his neighbor asked him whether a change in U.S.-Cuban trade relations would mean that he could finally afford to buy meat.
Other dissidents worried that their concerns will now be overlooked.
Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger, decried what she described as a carefully plotted victory for the Castro regime in the swap of detained U.S. contractor Alan Gross for Cuban spies imprisoned in America. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Global, Science & Technology, War Room | Tags: Cyberwarfare, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hacker (computer security), Hong Song-nam, Human rights, James Franco, National security, North Korea, Seth Rogen, Sony, Sony Pictures Entertainment
“For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate one terabyte or 100 terabytes of data in a matter of weeks.”
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A former hacker for Anonymous doesn’t believe North Korea has the infrastructure to be behind the Sony hack attack.
“Do you really think a bunch of nerds from North Korea are going to fly to New York and start blowing up movie theaters? No. It’s not realistic. It’s not about ‘The Interview.’ It’s about money. It’s a professional job.”
Hector Monsegur told “CBS This Morning” that the communist regime doesn’t have the technical capabilities to pull off the hack.
This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a shelling drill of an artillery sub-unit under Korean People’s Army (KPA) Unit 681 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP
“In my personal opinion, it’s not. Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely…They don’t have the technical capabilities.”
– Hector Monsegur
He continued, “They do have state-sponsored hackers very similar to China, very similar to Russia and very similar to our good, old USA.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.”
A former CIA official, though, believes that North Korea could pull of this type of cyberattack.
“North Korea has significant cyber capabilities. They use them quite frequently against South Korea. For a backwards state that might be a little surprising but they also have a nuclear weapon. They are capable of achieving things when they focus on them.”
– Mike Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA
The cancellation announced Wednesday was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.
“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony’s business — and succeeded. We haven’t seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history.”
– Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner
A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and may make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.
“It doesn’t tell me much. I’ve seen Russian hackers pretending to be Indian. I’ve seen Ukrainian hackers pretending to be Peruvian. There’s hackers that pretend they’re little girls. They do this for misinformation, disinformation, covering their tracks.”
Monsegur stated that Sony’s hacking had to have happened over a long period of time. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 17, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Censorship, Entertainment | Tags: 20th Century Fox, Alcohol intoxication, American humor, Batman (1989 film), Black people, Hollywood Boulevard, Jamie Foxx, LA Weekly, Los Angeles, Twitter
Posted: December 17, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: cinema, Drudge Report, Global Panic, Hacking, Movies, North Korea, Sony pictures
Originally posted on Variety:
With theater chains defecting en masse, Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview.”
In announcing the decision to cancel the holiday debut, Sony hit back at the hackers who threatened movie theaters and moviegoers and who have terrorized the studio and its employees for weeks.
“Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like,” the statement reads.
“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” it continues. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
The studio did not say it would never…
View original 454 more words
Posted: December 17, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Punishment, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Bill de Blasio, media, New York City, New York Post, news, NYPD, Protest, Tabloid
Posted: December 17, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Diplomacy, Global, Russia, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Communist Regime, Cuba, Fidel Castro, Fredo Corleone, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Marxist Rebels, Michael Corleone, Moroccan detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Raúl Castro, The Godfather, Twitter, U.S. Embassy
Steps to restore ties with Cuba are certain to meet resistance by some groups, particularly the Cuban community in South Florida that remain staunchly opposed to the communist leadership in Havana
Brian Murphy reports: The United States and Cuba will begin talks to normalize relations, including opening an embassy in Havana and putting to rest one most enduring Cold War standoffs, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
The landmark initiatives appeared to be set in motion by a surprise prisoner swap that freed American contractor Alan Gross after five years in custody in Cuba. In exchange, the United States would release three Cubans jailed for espionage, the Associated Press reported.
President Obama was expected to make a statement on Cuba at noon. At the same time, Cuban President Raul Castro was scheduled to address his nation about relations with the United States, Cuban state television reported.
Possible moves to close the rifts would mark a significant moment in Western Hemisphere politics.
The United State has maintain various sanctions against Cuba for more than five decades and enmity between Washington and Havana has played a role in affairs across the world — from snubs against the United States from Cuba’s allies in Latin America to the hero’s welcome given to then-President Fidel Castro during a visit to Tehran in 2001.
“President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”
– Senator Marco Rubio
At the moment, the United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations, but allow interest sections to handle outreach.
The U.S. official said Gross departed Cuba on a U.S. government plane earlier Wednesday. He was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States, the official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
Gross, 65, was detained in December 2009 while setting up illegal Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 17, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere | Tags: BBC, Benghazi, Central Intelligence Agency, Commentary (magazine), David Brooks (journalist), David Rockefeller, E.J. Dionne, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post
Nicole Levy writes: Job cuts at the New York Times will exceed the stated goal of 100 newsroom positions eliminated, the Newspaper Guild of New York said yesterday in a memo to union members.
According to the guild, the Times said yesterday it will lay off 21 union-represented employees starting as early as today, after 57 guild members and roughly 30 non-guild members accepted buyout applications. That amounts to more than the 100 newsroom positions the newspaper said it needed to eliminate as a cost-cutting measure on Oct. 1.
Targeted staffers are expected to receive the news today or Wednesday. Many of those laid off will receive two weeks of notice pay, but those who began at the paper of record before May 1, 1994 can receive pay for 15 weeks of work.
Times management’s decision to cut more than 100 newsroom jobs followed the hiring of “numerous new employees over [the] past six months,” the union memo said. Prominent recently was the hiring of former NPR executive Kinsey Wilson as editor for innovation and strategy; Michelle Dozois as growth strategy editor; and Justin Bank from The Washington Post as deputy editor for audience development, to name a few. Other hires are expected soon, including possibly Alex Burns of POLITICO, according to a report from the Huffington Post.
Read the union’s memo below:
Despite having announced its target of reducing newsroom staff by 100 – and accepting the buyout applications of 57 Guild members and nearly 30 excluded employees – The Times told the Guild on Monday that it would lay off another 21 Guild-represented employees this week. Whatever the total (the number of excluded employees to be laid off is not known at this time), the company clearly will exceed its stated goal of 100 job cuts…(read more)
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet announced the end of the buyout process, and the beginning of layoffs, in a memo to staff Tuesday morning. Baquet said the layoff process will end this week. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 16, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Bill Cosby, Bill de Blasio, Garner Ruling, media, New York City, New York Post, news, Newspapers, Tabloid
Posted: December 16, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Andrew C. McCarthy, Arthur J. Schwab, Barack Obama, Enforcement discretion, Executive (government), Judicial opinion, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Substantive rights, United States district court, United States federal judge
Andrew C. McCarthy writes:
“I wonder how the Republican establishment will take this: A federal court has the gumption to declare the obvious — namely, that Obama’s immigration policy is unconstitutional, just as Republican candidates argued while seeking votes during the recent midterm election campaign — only three days after 20 Republican senators astonishingly joined with the Democrats to endorse Obama’s policy as constitutionally valid.”
[Also see – Chris Christie Prediction: ‘In 2017, there won’t be an Obamacare‘]
From Jon Adler‘s analysis on Judge Schwab’s opinion at the Volokh Conspiracy…
Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.
According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.
This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I’ve now posted the opinion here.]
The procedural background of the case is somewhat unusual. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 16, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Hospital, Lady Reading Hospital, Military academy, Pakistan, Pakistan Armed Forces, Pakistan Army, Peshawar, Security guard, Student, Taliban
A plainclothes security officer escorts students rescued from nearby school during a Taliban attack in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city, killing and wounding scores, officials said, in the worst attack to hit the country in over a year.(AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
Posted: December 15, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere, Politics, War Room | Tags: al Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Death of Osama bin Laden, Dianne Feinstein, Enhanced interrogation techniques, Extrajudicial prisoners of the United States, George W. Bush, Interrogation, James Elmer Mitchell, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
“It shows al Qaeda and the al Qaeda 2.0 folks, ISIL, that we’re divided and that we’re easy targets, that we don’t have the will to defeat them because that’s what they know. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told me personally, ‘Your country will turn on you, the liberal media will turn on you, the people will grow tired of this, they will turn on you, and when they do, you are going to be abandoned.”
Dr. James Mitchell, a former U.S. Navy psychologist reportedly involved in the interrogation of suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, interviewed on The Kelly File, December 15, 2014.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Mitchell described Sheikh Mohammed in initial interrogations as “immensely arrogant” and “disdainful.”
“He had a propensity at that particular point to be confrontational without being physical,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell touched on waterboarding, telling Kelly, “Those techniques are so harsh that it’s emotionally distressing to the people who are administering them. Even though you don’t want to do it, you’re doing it in order to save lives in the country, and we would just have to man up for lack of a better term.”
Mitchell recalled how he initially did not want to do interrogations, and he remembered the instant that he decided to “pony up.”
“The 911 victims are the reason that I’m here,” he said.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is shown in this file photograph during his arrest on March 1, 2003. Accused Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammed and four suspected co-conspirators were referred to trial before a Guantanamo war crimes tribunal on charges that could carry the death penalty, the Pentagon said, April 4, 2012. REUTERS/Courtesy U.S. News & World Report
Mitchell remembered the heroes on Flight 93, telling Kelly that if ordinary people were willing to give up their lives to save the Capitol building, then he should be able to give up his moral high ground to save more lives.
“What we forget is al Qaeda tried to decapitate the United States on 9/11,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell recalled how waterboarding was not effective against Sheikh Mohammed, and he told Kelly that other enhanced interrogation techniques finally led the terrorist to divulge useful information.
He cautioned that Americans shouldn’t trust Senate Democrats who Mitchell claimed went in with an agenda on this report. Instead, they should trust the men and women of the CIA who wrote reports which were released back when ex- Vice President Dick Cheney requested them.
Mitchell told Kelly that this ordeal “is like being caught in a bad spy novel.”
He said that those who released the CIA report knew the results they wanted beforehand.
“They didn’t give us a chance to explain anything.”
Now, Mitchell said that interrogators are getting death threats, and he fears for his life.
“I do not mind giving my life for my country, but I do mind giving my life for a food fight for political reasons between two groups of people who should be able to work it out like adults.”
Mitchell alleged that no one from the Senate committee has ever asked him a single thing about the interrogations. Read the rest of this entry »