Sony Pictures hack - a PR car crash from which company may never recover (Guardian)
Business Leader: the hacking of Sony Pictures and its embarrassing revelations are a lesson for all companies given that hacking can only get worse.
Felix Clay: 5 Things People Claim to Hate That Are Suspiciously Popular (Cracked)
Ever notice how much more hatred something gets as its popularity grows? And how if it gets really popular, it seems like everyone in the world turns against it, which sort of makes no sense at all? Why the hell does that happen? Luckily for you, I saw an episode of Jake and the Fatman on the retro channel, so I'm pretty confident that I can put some clues together and crack this tasty nut, and we can all feast on the meaty goodness I find within. Come, grab some nuts with me!
Felix Clay: 7 Things That Will Never Happen Again Thanks to Technology (Cracked)
#7. "We'll Tell You Why at 11"
Stewart Lee: Want to know what's really killing Christmas? Just ask Ben Stiller… (Guardian)
In a tense confrontation over pancake mix, the US comedian admits to inveigling London into a ruse aimed at exposing the hollowness of the festive season.
Catherine Bennett: Leave Zoella alone. She's much better than this book (Guardian)
In all the hoohah about Zoe Sugg's ghost writer, the serious mental health issues raised by this popular vlogger have been overlooked.
Brian Whitney: Bill Cosby and the Ballad of the Somnophiliac (Disinformation)
Remember Andrew Luster? About 12 years ago he was convicted of drugging and raping a bunch of women. He even videotaped himself raping them while they were passed out. He went on the run to Mexico, he was then caught by Dog the Bounty Hunter. It was kind of a big deal at the time.
Will Storr: "James Randi: debunking the king of the debunkers" (Telegraph)
James Randi, star sceptic and subject of the documentary An Honest Liar, is dedicated to exposing magicians and spoonbenders. Is he guilty of a little sleight of hand himself?
Are you addicted to a fantasy world? (Telegraph)
The worlds of Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings are the opiates of the masses, says Anne Billson.
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
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David Bruce has approximately 50 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
"Doug's Most Shared Facebook Post" Today
Michelle in AZ
From The Creator of 'Avery Ant'
from Marc Perkel
Hello Bartcop fans,
As you all know the untimely passing of Terry was unexpected, even by him. We all knew he had cancer but we all thought he had some years left. So some of us who have worked closely with him over the years are scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. My job, among other things, is to establish communications with the Bartcop community and provide email lists and groups for those who might put something together. Those who want to play an active roll in something coming from this, or if you are one of Bart's pillars, should send an email to email@example.com.
Bart's final wish was to pay off the house mortgage for Mrs. Bart who is overwhelmed and so very grateful for the support she has received. Anyone wanting to make a donation can click on this the yellow donate button on bartcop.com
But - I need you all to help keep this going. This note isn't going to directly reach all of Bart's fans. So if you can repost it on blogs and discussion boards so people can sign up then when we figure out what's next we can let more people know. This list is just over 600 but like to get it up to at least 10,000 pretty quick. So here's the signup link for this email list.
( mailman.bartcop.com/listinfo/bartnews )
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
Nice sunny day.
Another French Auction
The United States is calling for a French auctioneer to halt a sale of artefacts made by Native American tribes set for Monday and instead help items be returned.
A letter to the Eve auction house on Friday from Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to France, called for the objects to be pulled from bidding while the Hopi and Navajo tribes "determine if they have recourse to seek their return".
A Navajo delegation argues the objects belong to the tribe -- which considers them living beings -- after viewing the items at the Drouot auction house in Paris, according to an embassy statement.
Meanwhile, the Hopi tribe and the native peoples defence group Survival International asked a court on Friday to order the release of the sellers' identities.
Activists' previous attempts to block auctions of Native American objects in France have failed, with French courts rejecting three prior requests from the Hopi and Survival International since April 2013.
New James Bond Screenplay Stolen
The producers of James Bond films have acknowledged that an early version of the screenplay for the new movie "SPECTRE" was among the material stolen in the massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The producers said in a statement Saturday that they are concerned that third parties who received the screenplay might seek to publish it - and warned the material is subject to copyright protection around the world.
Highly sensitive material is being leaked almost daily, including an exchange between Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman, Amy Pascal. Rudin called Angelina Jolie a "spoiled brat" and made racially offensive jokes about President Barack Obama's presumed taste in movies.
Plea Underscores Risk Of Issuing Pardons
Actor Mark Wahlberg's plea for a pardon has focused fresh attention on excusing criminal acts - something governors rarely do because it's so politically risky.
Massachusetts hasn't approved a pardon in more than a decade. Republican Mitt Romney didn't pardon anyone before he left as governor in 2007. Only now, in the twilight of his eight years in office, has Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick recommended any pardons.
Patrick, long an outspoken advocate of giving second chances, has thrown his support behind four pardons and a commutation as he prepares to turn the office over to Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker. If approved, they would be the first pardons in Massachusetts since 2002 and the first commuted sentence in 17 years.
Wahlberg isn't among them. His request, filed last month, is pending before the state parole board, which hasn't decided whether to grant a hearing or make a recommendation to the governor.
The actor is seeking a pardon for violent assaults committed as a troubled teen in Boston in 1988, when he hit a man in the head with a wooden stick while trying to steal alcohol from a convenience store and punched another man in the face while trying to avoid police. He was sentenced to three months in jail and served about 45 days.
A Syrian from war-torn Aleppo was declared the winner of this year's "Arab Idol" singing contest at the grand finale of the gruelling four-month television competition in Beirut this weekend.
The audience at Saturday's finale broke into applause and cheers, chanting "Syria! Syria!" and "Hazem!" when the jury of the pan-Arab song contest announced Hazem Sherif as the winner.
The 21-year-old kept clear of politics, avoiding taking sides in the nearly four-year conflict that has divided his country and killed more than 200,000 people.
Handsome in a dark suit and black tie, his hair done up in a trendy quiff and sporting a close-shaved beard, Sherif told reporters: "I am 21; I don't want to link my artistic career to politics."
The competition, organised by the Saudi MBC network, is one of the most watched television shows across the Middle East, viewed by some 100 million people.
Former Vice President and unindicted war criminal Dick Cheney refuses to call the enhanced interrogation techniques detailed in last week's Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's brutal handling of prisoners "torture."
"We were very careful to stop short of torture," Cheney said on "Meet the Press" Sunday. The Senate has seen fit to label their report torture. But we worked hard to stay short of that definition."
"All of the techniques that were authorized by the president were, in effect, blessed by the Justice Department opinion that we could go forward with those without, in fact, committing torture," the former vice president continued.
"Meet The Press" host Chuck Todd (R-Fluffer) asked if the "involuntary rectal feeding" detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report met the legal definition of "torture."
"That does not meet the definition of what was used in the program," Cheney said. "What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons."
Union Launches Campaign
New York's police union is showing its displeasure with Mayor Bill de Blasio and the head of the city council by starting a campaign to keep the two politicians away from funerals of fallen officers.
The campaign follows harsh criticism of de Blasio by Patrick Lynch, the head of the union, who said the mayor had failed to support the police after a grand jury decided against indicting a white officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Since the grand jury decision on Dec. 3, protesters have taken to New York streets to vent their anger over Garner's death in July and to call for reforms in how police use force.
New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association posted a form on its website, for members to sign, that requests that de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito keep away from funeral services should an officer die in the line of duty.
The form, entitled "Don't Insult My Sacrifice," accused the pair of "consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve."
Tall Tale For Fishermen
The fine print of a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill before the United States Congress includes a passage considered a "high priority" by lawmakers that could resolve a burning issue among the country's 40 million anglers: does the federal government need to regulate fishing tackle?
The unexpected provision buried in the 1,603-page bill tracks back - as so much legislation does in Washington - to an influential lobbying group, the National Rifle Association.
The NRA, which represents American gun
owners and sportsmen manufacturers, wants to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the lead content of both fishing tackle and firearms ammunition.
Conservationists have long clamored for a crackdown, partly due to concerns about lead in drinking water, but the debate has outraged some hunters and fishermen.
Pets In Heaven Oopsie
It was a heartwarming story for legions of pet owners and animal lovers around the world.
Pope Francis, talking to a distraught boy whose pet had died, declared there was a place in heaven for the creatures we share our lives with. His comment was reported this week by many news media outside Italy, with dozens of articles in the United States. It was veritable catnip to social media.
However, it turned out the pope had not made the comment.
Religion News Service was among the first media to put the record straight. It said in an article published late on Friday that the error appeared to have stemmed from a piece in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Nov. 27, whose headline was misleading.
The article recounted the pope's words from his general audience on Nov. 26, when the topic was the transformation of all creation into a new heaven and a new earth. It cited the remark about animals and attributed it to Paul VI, but its headline said "The pope and animals. 'paradise is open to all creatures.'"
Weekend Box Office
'Exodus: Gods and Kings'
After three weeks of box office dominance, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" ceded its reign to "Exodus: Gods and Kings." The biblical epic easily ruled the weekend with a $24.5 million debut, according to box office tracker Rentrak's Sunday estimates, while "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" dominated international charts with a staggering $117.6 million from 38 territories in advance of its North America release this week.
With an expensive $140 million production budget, "Exodus: Gods and Kings" met expectations in its first weekend. But it failed to live up to the precedent set by some recent biblically themed films, including "Noah," which opened to $43.7 million in March.
Also new in theaters, "Top Five," from writer, director and star Chris Rock, opened strongly. The Paramount-distributed comedy took in an estimated $7.2 million from only 979 locations to take the fourth-place spot right behind "Penguins of Madagascar."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Exodus: Gods and Kings," $24.5 million ($18.8 million international).
2. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," $13.2 million ($16 million international).
3. "Penguins of Madagascar," $7.3 million ($14.7 million international).
4. "Top Five," $7.2 million.
5. "Big Hero 6," $6.1 million ($3.9 million international).
6. "Interstellar,"$5.5 million ($11.4 million international).
7. "Horrible Bosses 2," $4.6 million ($5.9 million international).
8. "Dumb and Dumber To," $2.8 million ($2.2 million international).
9. "The Theory of Everything," $2.5 million ($1.8 million international).
10. "Wild," $1.6 million.
'Exodus: Gods and Kings'
Photographer Phil Stern, who was responsible for some of the most intimate portraits of Hollywood stars, including Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, died Saturday, his rep confirmed. He was 95.
Stern worked as a special still cameraman on films ranging from "Guys and Dolls" to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and his work appeared in the magazines Life, Look and Vanity Fair, among others. He also contributed photography for albums by Liza Minnelli, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.
His images of Dean and Monroe have become iconic. Among the other celebrities he photographed were Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Orson Welles and Joan Crawford.
Stern also photographed President Kennedy's inauguration.
As a teen, Stern worked as an apprentice in a New York photo studio and as a local police photographer before he became a combat photographer at the age of 21. He convinced Col. William O. Darby to let him join his elite unit, where he captured images of World War II and was decorated with a Purple Heart for his services.
In his later years, Stern resided at the Veterans Home of California, where he continued to wear a camera around his neck and capture life around him.
Stern's autobiography, "Phil Stern: A Life's Work," was published in 2003.