‘The Interview’ Release Back On For Christmas Day – Update


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UPDATED WITH SONY’S STATEMENT: Sony Pictures is releasing its controversial movie The Interview in theaters after all on Christmas Day — likely in fewer than 100 indie theaters. We’re told the turnaround came after a conference call with Sony distribution execs that just ended. Several of the smaller chains are beginning to unveil the news via social media. “We just got the call,” said Brock Bagby, director of programming at KC-based B&B Theatres, which has 408 screens in eight states. “Our film buyers did. Sony will be playing it on VOD and letting anyone play it who wants it.”

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U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba, Erasing a Last Trace of Cold War Hostility


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Dec 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret talks that produced a prisoner swap negotiated with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis.

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Djokovic Wears Murray Down for Australian Open Title


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MELBOURNE, Australia — His legs are stronger than in the past, but Andy Murray still could not beat Novak Djokovic on Sunday at the Australian Open.

But then Murray, who beat Djokovic at the U.S. Open Final, is hardly alone. Nobody has beaten Djokovic at Melbourne Park since 2010 when he lost in five sets in the quarterfinals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Since then Djokovic has reeled off three straight titles on the true-bouncing blue court, generating squeak after squeak with his quick-moving feet and innumerable breaches in his opponents’ morale with his ability to contort and extend his body in pursuit of others’ best efforts.

“What a joy,” Djokovic said in his post-match remarks in Rod Laver Arena. “It’s an incredible feeling, winning the trophy once more, and it’s definitely my favorite Grand Slam, my most successful Grand Slam. I love this court.”

Murray, his boyhood friend and one-time doubles partner, knows Djokovic’s strengths as well as anyone. He shares many of them, but on this clear night in Melbourne, Murray gradually faded after more than holding his own in the early phases of the match — suffering from blisters on his feet and from his opponent’s strengths — as Djokovic put the finishing touches on his 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Djokovic is now the first man in the 45-year Open era to win three consecutive titles at the Australian Open. Only two other men have won three or more Australian Championships in a row: Jack Crawford from 1931 to 1933 and Roy Emerson from 1963 to 1967.

But neither of those men nor perhaps any other man has covered the corners quite like the elastic-limbed Djokovic.

“His record here is obviously incredible,” Murray said. “So well done again.”

Murray had said before the match that he was “ready for the pain” but he was presumably not referring to foot pain. He was treated for blisters after losing the second set and when the match was over and Djokovic celebrated on court, Murray sat down, removed his shoes, tossed them aside and raised his racket high as if to smash it in frustration.

He refrained but he has experienced nothing but frustration against Djokovic at Melbourne Park, losing all three of their matches. He was soundly beaten 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in the 2011 final, beaten last year in a five-set thriller of a semifinal that was a harbinger of Murray’s greater performances to come.

Murray had defeated Djokovic on the grass at Wimbledon on his way to the Olympic gold medal in London and then beat him in another epic final to win his first Grand Slam singles title at the United States Open. But he could not use that for leverage in Australia.

News and image: nytimes.com/2013/01/28/sports/tennis/djokovic-murray-australian-open.htm

Published: January 27, 2013

AT&T Wireless Purchases $1.9 Billion In 700Mhz Spectrum From Verizon


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AT&T has bolstered its wireless spectrum holding with the $1.9 billion purchase of 700 MHz B spectrum from Verizon Wireless. The purchase was revealed on Friday in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The wireless network says its new purchase will provide additional growth to 42 million people in 18 states. The new spectrum purchase will benefit residents in the following areas:

California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

AT&T will also receive Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) in five of the markets served by the company’s new 700 MHz B spectrum.

The new 700 MHz B spectrum will be used to expand AT&T Wireless’ true 4G network. AT&T currently calls part of its HSPA+ offering a 4G network, although many experts argue that such technology is actually part of of the 3.5G system. 4G LTE offers a higher bandwidth ceiling which is needed for expansion reasons.

Verizon sold off its extra spectrum with the understanding that it could purchase new spectrum from competitors in the future. The spectrum sale also allows Verizon to remove the 700 MHz B spectrum which doesn’t necessarily fit well with the company’s current technology structure.

AT&T Wireless plans to cover 250 million people with LTE technology by the end of 2013 and 300 million customers by the end of 2014.

Regulators must still approve the wireless spectrum purchase before it can be finalized.

News and image: www.inquisitr.com/495378/att-wireless-purchases-1-9-billion-in-700mhz-spectrum-from-verizon/

Facebook enables free iPhone voice calls


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The tech press started buzzing earlier this month with reports that Facebook planned to add VoIP (voice over IP) calling to its Messenger app for the iPhone. The new feature officially arrived Tuesday, when Facebook released an update for its app.

What does it mean for you? Free calls. Sort of.

Facebook’s app transmits calls using your phone’s broadband connection, whatever it is — 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. Instead of sucking up your monthly allotted voice minutes from your cellular carrier, it sucks up megabytes from your data plan. That’s a boon for heavy talkers with unlimited data plans.

This is nothing new or technologically groundbreaking: Skype was doing it long before Facebook. Facebook has many more active users than Skype, though, and the allure of having to use one less network or app will appeal to some (perhaps many).

But it’s not all roses just yet. For now, this is a pretty limited offering.

Your phone won’t alert you the way it does when you have a normal call: Facebook calls just show up as a push notification. And right now, you can only connect with a conversation partner who also has Messenger installed on their iPhone.

There’s no way to ring up a Facebook friend who is logged in through the website, and there isn’t any way to place a call to a ten-digit phone number. Calling is still absent from the Android and BlackBerry versions of the Messenger app.

There’s a good reason for those omissions. The VoIP features in the Web version of Facebook were built using Skype’s technologies, while the calling technology in Messenger is all Facebook. The ability to place and receive calls using traditional phone numbers requires telecommunications resources Facebook doesn’t have (at the moment, at least).

News and image source: http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/16/technology/mobile/facebook-free-voice-calls

By Adrian Covert @CNNMoney January 16, 2013

My que to the news is – This new feature will be another good add up to Facebook users. It will be great if it remains free of charge.

Facebook’s new ‘Graph Search’ lets you search everything related to friends


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Facebook announced a new “Graph Search” feature on Tuesday that will answer all the questions that the social network’s Newsfeed and Timeline do not.

“Today we’re going to take a little trip to our roots,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, in making the announcement.

He described Facebook as a huge database before pointing out that “just like a database, you should be able to query it.” The Newsfeed answers the question “What’s going on?” and Timeline answers “Who is this person?” But what about everything else? We’ll be able to answer other questions using something called “Graph Search.”

In addition to launching Graph Search, Facebook is also incorporating Microsoft’s Bing search results in Facebook searches. (Microsoft owns a 1.6 percent share of Facebook.)  Doing search on Facebook has often been an exercise in frustration, and Graph Search may help to change that. Will Graph Search challenge Google? No, but it could be a start to making Facebook’s nemesis even more nervous, although Zuckerberg emphasized the new tool is “not Web search.”

Graph Search is a privacy-aware search, Zuckerberg said. That means that it only searches content which has been shared with you and that your search results will differ from the search results someone else will see … even if you enter the same exact queries.

You can initially use Graph Search search through people, photos, places, and interests.

For example, let’s say you want to play matchmaker for a friend who recently moved to New York City from Germany. You could search for all friends-of-friends who happen to reside in New York City, lived in Germany at some point, and are single. Ta da! You’ll have a list of the ideal matches for your pal. Or perhaps you need to find a dentist. You can easily search for dentists who are liked by your friends.

There was a lot of emphasis on privacy and Zuckerberg explained that a message will appear on users’ Newsfeeds to remind them that they should review their privacy settings. Even though Graph Search is privacy-conscious, some slightly embarrassing content could always come up and haunt you.

Zuckerberg emphasized that Graph Search is currently a beta product, meaning that it isn’t quite perfect just yet.

“Even as an early product, Graph Search is a completely new way for people to get information on Facebook,” he says. If you want to start using the new feature, you can sign up for the beta version.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/gadgetbox/facebooks-new-graph-search-lets-you-search-everything-related-friends

By Rosa Golijan , NBC News   16 January 2013

Image: http://9to5google.com/2013/01/15/facebook-launches-graph-search-feature

My que on the news is – I think this new feature from Facebook will help users to search and access any information easier. No doubt that Google does an excellent job in that area, but Facebook will bring forth a slightly different approach. – Benny B

Coca-Cola Launches Anti-Obesity Ad


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Are you listening Michael Bloomberg?  Coca-Cola, the largest beverage company in the world, has produced a two-minute pro-calorie counting commercial set to air on the highest-rated shows of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC starting tonight.

“We are committed to bring people together to help fight obesity,” said Stuart Kronauge, the General Manager for Coke’s North America Sparkling Beverages division. “This is about the health and happiness of everyone who buys our products and wants great-tasting beverages, choice and information. The Coca-Cola Company has an important role in this fight.”

Indeed Coke does.  A recent study funded by the National Institute of Health found that people with genes that predispose them to be obese are more susceptible to the weight inducing effects of sugary drinks.  For the third of Americans that are obese, some of Coke’s products thus pose an additional health risk.  According to the AP, consumption of sugary drinks and obesity rates in America have risen in tandem, doubling since the 1970s. While Coke in recent years has grown its business with sports drinks, bottled water, and low- or zero- calorie sodas, overall soda consumption has declined per capita by 16% since 1998.  Coke’s new ad, seen below, is a major attempt to change the company’s public image.

Source: http://swampland.time.com/2013/01/15/coca-cola-launches-anti-obesity-ad

By Alex Rogers  Jan. 15, 2013

Panel recommends Quebec allow doctors to help some die


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Change would legalize some medically-assisted end-of-life procedures

A Quebec expert panel studying the legal aspects of medically assisted end-of-life procedures is recommending the province change the law to allow doctors to help some people who wish to end their lives.

The report says choosing end of life should be more clearly defined in the law as part of palliative care.

Quebec’s so-called Dying with Dignity task force recommended allowing people with terminal illness to seek the help of a doctor to end their own lives, something prohibited under the federal Criminal Code.

The report stems from findings by a committee that looked at questions regarding assisted suicide and end-of-life procedures.

The committee’s landmark Quebec report in 2012 recommended that doctors be allowed to help terminally ill patients die, in exceptional circumstances, if that is their wish.

The report was released in the Quebec legislature, after two years of work from the Dying With Dignity Committee, a multi-partisan group of nine MNAs.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada

By CBC News Posted: Jan 15, 2013

Image: http://nonikatieshouse.blogspot.com/2011/05/until-end

Dan Brown to release new Robert Langdon book in May


Dan Brown, the bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code, is to release a new book on 14 May, publishers Transworld have announced.

The novel will be another instalment in the best-selling crime series, following Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon.

Its title will be revealed, piece by piece, via posts on social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

The Langdon novels have sold millions of copies worldwide.

According to its publisher, the latest instalment will see the professor drawn into “a harrowing world centred on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces”.

Readers are being encouraged to help unveil the title of the book by posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Each time a user posts, it will unlock a piece of a mosaic image which will eventually display the name.

“Dan Brown’s enthusiasm for puzzles, codes and symbols is a passion shared by his readers,” said Suzanne Herz, senior vice president of the book’s US publisher, Doubleday.

“Our aim is to harness that passion and use it as a catalyst to reveal the new title.”

Both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons have been turned into Hollywood movies, starring Tom Hanks in the title role.

A movie version of the third novel, The Lost Symbol, is still in development.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

By  BBC News  15 January 2013

Image: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog

My que on the news is – Dan Brown’s upcoming book will be something that I am looking forward for. But I wonder if he will explore into other mysteries like less known secrets from other parts of the world. – Benny B


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