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Archive for the ‘News.’ Category

BBC Apologizes to University for Undercover Trip to N.Korea.


The BBC apologised on Monday to a leading British university for sending two undercover reporters to accompany an academic trip to North Korea, after an internal investigation found that it had failed to inform students of the potential risks.

The publicly funded BBC joined the trip to North Korea for students and post-graduates of the London School of Economics (LSE) in March 2013.

Two undercover journalists – including the respected reporter John Sweeney – attached themselves to the group to gain access to the secretive state and film a documentary for Panorama, a current affairs programme.

The general secretary of the LSE’s student union accused the BBC at the time of using the students as “human shields”.

The university said the students had been told “a journalist” would accompany them, but it had not been made clear the BBC’s aim was to use the visit to secretly record footage for Panorama, a current affairs programme.

James Harding, the director of BBC news and current affairs, wrote to the chairman of the LSE, Peter Sutherland, saying that he accepted the corporation had fallen short. “On behalf of the BBC, I would like to apologise to you and the LSE,” he said.

The BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee said the broadcaster had not adequately informed the students about the BBC’s involvement so that they would be aware of any risks posed by the presence of the journalists.

“This was a serious failing, and the BBC is right to apologise to the complainants,” said Alison Hastings, Chair of the Editorial Standards Committee.

The LSE and the father of one of the students on the trip made a series of complaints to the BBC after news of its involvement in the trip surfaced last year.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Plea to Take Mel Gibson Off ‘Blacklist’ Sparks Hollywood Debate.


Image: Plea to Take Mel Gibson Off 'Blacklist' Sparks Hollywood Debate

Eight years after Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant during a drunk-driving arrest, Hollywood is debating the rehabilitation of an Oscar winner who was once one of the industry’s most bankable stars.

The heated discussion was sparked by a March 12 opinion piece in Deadline Hollywood by Allison Hope Weiner, a freelance writer who covered Gibson’s infamous spiral out of favor and now considers him a friend. Her appeal for an end to what she called a “quiet blacklisting” has generated more than 5,700 comments on Yahoo.com’s movie page and more than 800 on the Deadline Hollywood site, which is read by many in the industry.

“He has been in the doghouse long enough,” Weiner wrote. “It’s time to give the guy another chance.”

Gibson’s movies, from “Mad Max” to “Braveheart” and “Apocalypto,” have grossed $3.6 billion, according to Rentrak Corp., providing an incentive for studios and agencies to consider absolution. His particular transgressions, and the number of them over the years, mean it’s unlikely to come easy.

Forgiving Gibson “is not the same thing as forgiving Lindsay Lohan for partying too late,” said Elizabeth Currid- Halkett, author of “Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity” and an associate professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. “Anti-Semitism is not just behaving badly.”

While the 58-year-old still directs and acts — he recently completed production as a co-star with Sylvester Stallone on “Expendables 3” — major studios “are either wary of him or prefer not to work with him,” said Michael Fleming, Deadline Hollywood’s film editor. “I am surprised this has lasted this long. The guy has made a lot of people a lot of money.”

Malibu Tirade

The back-and-forth by commentators on Weiner’s piece boils down to a bygone question in Hollywood: whether what someone says or does off screen, however repugnant, should have any effect on his fitness to make movies.

Gibson is a long-running case in point. The hits to his reputation aren’t limited to those from his tirade about Jews being “responsible for all the wars in the world,” delivered as he was arrested in 2006 in Malibu, California. In 2010, audiotapes of threats he made to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva — laced with racial epithets — surfaced. The next year he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge after a dispute with Grigorieva, the mother of his youngest child.

In 2004, he came under fire for what the Anti-Defamation League and others saw as anti-Semitism in “The Passion of the Christ,” a blockbuster he directed, co-produced and co-wrote. He reacted to a Frank Rich column about it in the New York Times by telling the New Yorker, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.”

‘Harmful Words’

In 1992 he offended the gay community with remarks in a Spanish newspaper interview and later told Playboy that he would apologize “when hell freezes over.”

He did apologize after his Malibu arrest for what he said were his “vitriolic and harmful words,” and after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor drunk-driving charge was sentenced to three years’ probation.

Alan Nierob, a Rogers & Cowan publicist who represents Gibson, said his client should be allowed back in the fold. “People should know that he is now healthy once again, both physically and mentally after suffering a breakdown,” Nierob said. “He is an artistic genius, and the industry should benefit once again from his enormous talent.”

‘Harsh Language’

Weiner, describing herself as an observant Jew, said in Deadline Hollywood that Gibson today “is clearly a different man, one who has worked on his sobriety since that awful night in Malibu.” And the movie industry, she said, is hypocritical, willing to “work with others who’ve committed felonies and done things far more serious than Gibson.”

She cited Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who has been in the “Hangover” films. Gibson was dropped from a cameo in “The Hangover Part II” in 2010 after “a lot of people” working on the film protested, Todd Phillips told the Hollywood Reporter.

“Gibson has been shunned not for doing anything criminal; his greatest offenses amount to use of harsh language,” Weiner wrote in her more than 3,400-word piece. She said she chose to publish it on the 10th anniversary of “The Passion of the Christ,” which she described as “about an innocent man’s willingness to forgive the greatest injustice.”

The independent release grossed $612 million at the global box office, and Gibson personally made $210 million in 2004, according to Forbes. His fortune was estimated at $850 million by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and People magazine reported that his 2011 divorce halved that.

Befriending Rabbis

In recent years, Weiner said, Gibson has befriended rabbis, attended Passover Seders and donated to Jewish causes. He invited to coffee the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who took him into custody in Malibu. He was at Weiner’s son’s bar mitzvah, where she said he charmed her family.

“My friendship with Gibson made me reconsider other celebrities whose public images became tarnished by the media’s rush to judge,” Weiner wrote. “Whether it’s Gibson, Tom Cruise or Alec Baldwin, the descent from media darling to pariah can happen quickly after they do something dumb.”

Hollywood is littered with stars who fell from grace — Charlie Sheen after a rant against the producer of “Two and a Half Men,” Robert Downey Jr. after arrests for illegal drug use, Cruise after jumping on Oprah’s couch and admonishing Brooks Shields for treating her postpartum depression with pharmaceuticals — and who bounced back.

Two Oscars

Downey, Gibson’s co-star in “Air America” in 1990, has been among his staunch defenders. He asked that Gibson be on stage to present him with a life-achievement award from American Cinematheque in 2011, and said in his acceptance speech that his friend deserved from Hollywood the same forgiveness it had afforded him. Gibson had helped revive Downey’s career when he was considered uninsurable by paying his insurance bond for 2003’s “The Singing Detective.”

Gibson rose to international fame with the “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” films and won Oscars in 1995 for best picture and best director for “Braveheart,” in which he also starred. He garnered acclaim for “Apocalypto,” about the end of Mayan civilization, which he financed through his Icon Productions LLC; Walt Disney Co. distributed it.

Released five months after the Malibu arrest, it did well at the box office. “Say what you will about him — about his problem with booze or his problem with Jews — he is a serious filmmaker,” wrote New York Times critic A.O. Scott.

Bypassing Theaters

One of Gibson’s big hits as an actor before Malibu was “Signs,” a 2002 thriller by M. Night Shyamalan that grossed $228 million. One of his biggest flops ever was “The Beaver” in 2011 with Jodie Foster, which made less than $1 million in U.S. theaters, according to the Internet Movie Database.

He bypassed theaters with “Get the Gringo” in 2012, releasing it instead on pay-television. Last year he was a co- star with Sheen in “Machete Kills,” which wasn’t a critical or commercial success.

In Hollywood, “there are some who may forgive and some who never will,” said Michael Sitrick, chairman and chief executive of Sitrick Brincko Group LLC, a Los Angeles-based public relations and crisis-management firm that has represented rapper Chris Brown, baseball player Alex Rodriguez and socialite Paris Hilton. “It’s not about spin. It has to be genuine.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Searchers Spot Oil Slicks in Search for Missing Malaysian Airliner.


The Malaysian Airline plane that vanished from radar screens during a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 aboard remained missing Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

Search operations midway between Malaysia and Vietnam’s southern coast were being intensified for the aircraft carrying 239 passengers and crew, and Vietnamese air force planes reported spotting two large oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam that could indicate a crash.

Relatives of the 154 Chinese nationals on the flight gathered at a hotel in Beijing to await news, CNN reports.

Flight MH370 departed from the Malaysian capital about 12:40 a.m. Saturday local time and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., the airline said in statements today. A search is under way for the Boeing Co. 777-200 aircraft, the airline said. Passengers are from 13 countries, it said.

“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive officer of Malaysian Airline System. “Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew.”

China’s aviation authority said that the Malaysian flight hadn’t made contact, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the authority. The authority said that the flight-radar signal was lost with Ho Chi Minh City air control, Xinhua reported.

Faud Sharuji, vice-president of operations control for the airline, said that there was no idea where the aircraft was, CNN reported in an interview with the executive.

At least 158 passengers were Chinese, according to Xinhua.

“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Chicago-based Boeing said in a statement on its Twitter feed. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 By Newsmax Wires

Reporting on Snowden NSA Leaks Wins Polk Award.


Four journalists who reported on the extent of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden are among the winners of the 65th annual George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Laura Poitras of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post will receive the award for national security reporting for stories based on secret documents leaked by Snowden, a former intelligence analyst.

The awards were announced Sunday by Long Island University.

Journalists who wrote about massive traffic jams caused by bridge lane closures in New Jersey, a catastrophic garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and the struggles of a homeless family in Brooklyn also will be among those honored.

This year’s Polk Awards will be given out April 11.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Journalists Tweet Tales of Woe About Sochi Hotel Rooms.


Western journalists who have descended on Sochi, Russia for the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics have taken to Twitter regaling followers with tales of unfinished and substandard hotel rooms and posting amusing photos.

Tens of thousands of tweets have been sent using the hashtag #SochiProblems, and the Twitter account @SochiProblems has more than 61,000 followers.

One journalist tweeted, “My hotel room has no internet, no hot water, no curtains and no furniture. On the plus side, three of the four lights work.”

Another Twitter user posted a photo of orange-colored tap water, adding, “Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like.”

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams addressed the issue at a news conference.

“It’s a bit premature to say it’s been a failure. They have delivered 24,000 rooms,” he said, according to NBC News. “Surely there have been some issues, but we are really doing our best.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

Creationist Debates ‘Science Guy’ with CNN’s Piers Morgan.


Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham carried their evolution/creationism debate onto CNN Tuesday night as Piers Morgan tried to bring global warming into the fray.

Nye and Ham debated Tuesday night at the Petersburg, Kentucky-based museum, then appeared jointly on “Piers Morgan Live.” 

Story continues below.

Though Ham said that climate change was not a part of the debate, Morgan queried him, “Who is responsible for this massive snowstorm raging across America: God or science?”

Ham didn’t answer directly, and Morgan asked whether he thinks it is alarming that the percentage of people who deny global warming is on the rise.

“I didn’t even tell you what I believe about global warming,” Ham responded.

“I was under the assumption that you don’t believe in global warming as an entity,” Morgan said.

“Well, no, I’ve never said that,” Ham said. “Where have I said that?”

Ham said he believes that climates do change and that there should be investigation into what is happening and why.

“The Bible tells us that the world is running down,” Ham said, “so we do have extremes in weather patterns today.” Climate change has existed since “the flood of Noah’s day,” he told Morgan.

Nye said he is skeptical the world is winding down because of punishment from a deity and he does not believe a “great flood” occurred 4,000 years ago.

Morgan next asked Ham if he believes that dinosaurs and man co-existed, as is depicted in his museum. Ham said he does; his beliefs are based on the biblical account that all land animals were made on the sixth day of Creation.

“You don’t find dinosaur bones with labels on them,” Ham said, questioning how anyone could know a dinosaur bone is 70 million years old.

Morgan noted that Nye was looking at Ham “with a look of vague bafflement on your face.”

Nye said the debate had been “very respectful” and both men gave it their best. He said he participated because he fears the next generation of scientists won’t understand that scientific uncertainty isn’t the same as scientific doubt.

Both scientists and people of faith were wary of the debate even being held. Scientists feared it would give creationism equal standing with evolutionary theory in the minds of the public. Christian groups worried that observers would think all people of faith reject science, making for an either/or proposition.

The Creation Museum said the event sold 800 tickets, and more than a million were expected to watch via a live Internet steam. The Associated Press reported that some of those in attendance wore “Bill Nye is my home boy” T-shirts, and that one fan wore a bow tie and Nye’s signature lab coat.

Nye was host of the educational TV program “Bill Nye the Science Guy” in the 1990s.

“I just want to remind us all there are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion,” Nye said during the debate. “But these same people do not embrace the extraordinary view that the Earth is somehow only 6,000 years old.”

Nye has previously urged parents who doubt evolution not to pass those beliefs on to their children.

“Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era,” Ham told the debate audience. He also introduced scientists who he said were also creationists.

“I believe the word ‘science’ has been high-jacked by secularists,” he said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Creator of 3-D Printable Gun Lands Book Deal.


Image: Creator of 3-D Printable Gun Lands Book DealA Liberator pistol that was made by Cody Wilson on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin, Texas.

By Lisa Barron

Cody Wilson, who created the first fully 3-D printable gun last spring, has landed a quarter-million-dollar book deal with Simon & Schuster.

The head of the 3-D-printed gun group, Defense Distributed, signed the deal in December to write a non-fiction book about his efforts to create the digital weapon, Forbes reports.

The working title of the book is “Negative Liberty,” Wilson told the publication, explaining, “The whole point to me is to add to the hacker mythology and to have a very, very accurate and contentious portrayal of what we think about the current political situation, our attitude and political orientation, a lasting remark.”

“It won’t be a manifesto,” he said. “But culturally, I hope to leave a couple of zingers . . . a touchstone for the young, disaffected radical toward his own political and social development, that kind of thing.”

Wilson, whose blueprints were downloaded 100,000 times in two days after he initially published them online, said his proposal drew mixed responses from publishers.

“Some think I’m awful, that what I did was terrible, and the others think this is an incredible story that needs to be told,” said Wilson, 25.

The graduate of the University of Central Arkansas is involved in a legal dispute with the State Department, which demanded that he take the blueprints off the Internet.

He is also focusing on the software he helped build, called Dark Wallet, which allows for anonymous transactions using the virtual currency bitcoin, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“We need an anonymous cash online,” Wilson told the Journal, “It’s not that I want you to buy drugs. It’s just that I think you should have the freedom to do it.”

Wilson reportedly works from an apartment near the University of Texas at Austin with a group of self-described anti-establishment techies.

Meanwhile, anticipating a potential legal battle with the government over publication of the 3-D-printing gun file, he said the book advance could come in handy.

“At least now if I’m in prison I’ll have something to do,” he joked to Forbes.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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