Source: CNS News - June 27, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the State Department played an instrumental role in “sealing the deal” for pop-rock star Lady Gaga to perform at a gay pride rally in Rome, Italy.
Clinton specifically pointed to a letter that David Thorne, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, sent to Lady Gaga urging her to participate in the event.
“And then there is the work that our embassy team in Rome has been doing,” Clinton said. “Two weeks ago they played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a Euro Pride concert.
“Now as many of you know Lady Gaga is Italian American and a strong supporter of LGBT rights,” said Clinton. “And the organizers of the Euro Pride event desperately wanted her to perform and a letter to her from Ambassador Thorne was instrumental in sealing the deal.”
Mrs. Clinton made the remarks at the State Department at a celebration of LGBT Pride Month co-hosted by the department and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA), a group that, according to its website, “represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) personnel and their families in the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and other foreign affairs agencies and offices in the U.S. Government.”
On June 11, Lady Gaga performed at a rally at the ancient Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy. The rally followed a gay pride march through the city of Rome.
Gaga sparked controversy earlier this year when she released a video of her song “Judas” on Easter Sunday. The video depicted Gaga as a Mary Magdalene figure--in a motorcycle gang—who becomes enamoured with Judas. “The video opens with a motorcycle gang cruising down a freeway, as Gaga clutches onto a Jesus-like figure who wears a golden crown of thorns,” said a Billboard.com description of the video.
“Oh, I'm in love with Judas, Judas,” says the song. “In the most Biblical sense I am beyond repentance. Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind.”
Source: Guernica - May, 2011
At Disney World, labor is meant to have an almost invisible quality. Except for the name tags, nothing distinguishes interns for the visitor; in certain parts of the park, at certain times of day, they comprise more than 50 percent of staff. Their work is identical to what permanent employees do, and there’s no added supervision, training, or mentoring on the job. The internship’s educational component is a three- or four-hour class each week, offering some of the easiest college credits in the land. Students are also encouraged to obtain credit through networking, distance learning, and “individualized learning opportunities.” Many interns do nothing scholastic, given that Disney doesn’t require it and that twelve-hour shifts are exhausting enough.
Like other employers, Disney has mastered how to rebrand ordinary jobs as exciting opportunities. “We’re not there to flip burgers or to give people food,” a fast food intern told the Associated Press. “We’re there to create magic.” Should the magic fail, the program at least seems to promise professional development and the prestige of the Disney name. Yet training and education are afterthoughts: the kids are brought in to work. Having traveled thousands of miles and barely breaking even financially, they find themselves cleaning hotel rooms, performing custodial work, and parking cars in the guise of an academic exercise. A small number of College Program “graduates” are offered full-time positions at Disney. The housing is designed to scale the program to massive proportions, where the savings of not employing full-timers, who demand benefits and have unions, kick in. Mandatory communal housing, the cost of which is deducted from their paychecks, may make the experience fun and memorable, like college, but it also looks like a term of indenture: living on company property, eating company food, and working when the company says so.
In its scale, the Disney program is unusual, if not unique. Although technically legal, the program has grown up over thirty years to become an eerie model, a microcosm of an internship culture gone haywire. The word “internship” has no set meaning, but at Disney World it signifies cheap, flexible labor for one of the world’s best-known companies—magical, educational burger-flipping in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Disney would not respond to these charges or comment on anything else for this piece, despite repeated requests. Like many a corporate titan, Disney likes to give the impression it’s in the education business. Disney University, born in 1955 as the company’s training division, predated McDonald’s Hamburger University, Motorola University, and others, prefiguring what Andrew Ross has called “the quasi-convergence of the academy and the knowledge corporation.” Since 1996, the Disney Institute has charged “millions of attendees representing virtually every sector of business from every corner of the globe” for the privilege of learning about Disney’s “brand of business excellence.” The Disney Career Start Program attracts high school drop-outs and graduates, promising a custom-designed “learning curriculum.” The Disney Dreamers Academy targets 100 high school students each year. Interns are not the only ones on the receiving end of a dubious Disney degree. The company has every demographic, every part of the life cycle, covered.
Nonetheless, many interns love their experience. Free access to the parks and employee discounts are more than enough for some of these Disney kids who have grown up to be Disney interns and may yet become Disney parents. “I’m a Disney slave and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” tweeted one intern proudly.
Source: The Daily Mail - May 12, 2011
The harrowing moment a dying man draws his final breath will be shown in a BBC documentary this evening.
BBC bosses are facing huge controversy over the decision to show the death of Gerald, whose full name has not been released.
Gerald's death, detailed in images published in the Daily Mirror this morning, will be shown as part of documentary series titled 'Inside the Human Body' which will be broadcast at 9pm.
The cancer stricken former soldier was filmed for the documentary over the final two months of his life before his death in January.
He is shown dying from the effects of lung and liver cancer which he had been diagnosed with a year previously.
Critics said last night said the the BBC had gone too far in choosing to broadcast Gerald's death and that it was a cynical attempt to boost ratings.
Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care Not Killing, said: ‘Some aspects of life are so personal and private that even if individuals give their consent to be broadcast, we are wiser to keep them private.
Source: ArsTechnica - April 26, 2011
Sony has finally come clean about the "external intrusion" that has caused the company to take down the PlayStation Network service, and the news is almost as bad as it can possibly get. The hackers have all your personal information, although Sony is still unsure about whether your credit card data is safe. Everything else on file when it comes to your account is in the hands of the hackers.
In other words, Sony's security has failed in a spectacular fashion, and we're just now finding out about it. In both practical and PR terms, this is a worst-case scenario.
Source: The Los Angeles Times - April 6, 2011
About 40 miles west of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, another kind of crisis may be unfolding — this one striking at the heart of the world's multibillion-dollar market for smartphones, portable music players and other cutting-edge electronics.
The powerful earthquake that rocked Japan last month knocked out a hillside factory owned by Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Little known outside industry circles, Shin-Etsu is the world's biggest producer of advanced silicon wafers, a key material needed for the manufacturing of semiconductors. Its Shirakawa plant represented 20% of the globe's capacity to produce the building blocks on which some key high-technology products depend.
The disaster could prove to be a major concern for chip makers, including Intel Corp. and Toshiba Corp., that buy wafers from Shin-Etsu, analysts said.
But it also has turned the spotlight on a much broader problem in the global economy: Companies around the world often rely on small networks of suppliers that may be thousands of miles away. A good number of those suppliers are in Japan.
Already, quake-related shortages of automotive electronic sensors made by Hitachi's Automotive Systems business have been blamed for halting or cutting production of vehicles in Germany, Spain, France and Shreveport, La.
The crisis also is expected to slash the supply of some vehicles such as Toyota's Prius and contribute to higher passenger car prices in the U.S., where temporary worker layoffs already have hit Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and some Japanese auto firms.
Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group was among the latest to warn that a shortage of components from Japan could crimp supplies of finished products, in its case the LePad tablet computer. Another Chinese firm, ZTE Corp., a major producer of cellphones, said it could face shortages of batteries and LCD screens for months.
The likelihood of more disruptions to come has touched off a scramble for alternative suppliers. It has sparked a run-up in the price of memory chips and some parts. And it is almost certain to lead to a rethinking of a global production and logistics system in which a natural disaster in a small part of Japan's industrial base could have such broad effects around the world.
He said that only about three of his company's 50 factories sustained damage. But the actual effect is likely to be bigger as rolling blackouts, transport problems and fuel shortages in Japan hamper production and delivery of supplies for many companies, possibly for months to come.
Koriyama Central Industrial Park in Fukushima prefecture is a case in point. Plants operated in the park by Panasonic Corp., Hitachi, Shin-Etsu and other leading Japanese companies are mostly up and running now, but only at about 50% capacity combined, said Endou Katsuei, executive director of Shinwa Planning Co., which is managing the zone.
He said these factories depend on the delivery of other components, which has been anything but stable. The town's train station has yet to reopen, roadways have been cracked by the earthquake and many gas stations remain closed, more than three weeks after the disaster.
It's much the same along the 125-mile stretch of Tohoku Expressway, from Utsunomiya, about 60 miles north of Tokyo, to Sendai, a city in Miyagi prefecture that was ravaged by the tsunami and where many homes remain without gas and hot water.
On the outskirts of Sendai, mangled cars thrown by the massive waves still litter the roads and are jammed against trees and fences, including those outside Sony's flood-impaired chemical and information devices plant.
Sendai is also home to Tohoku University, one of Japan's premier institutions and a leading center for semiconductor and related research.
Source: Cnet News - March 15, 2011
The White House today proposed sweeping revisions to U.S. copyright law, including making "illegal streaming" of audio or video a federal felony and allowing FBI agents to wiretap suspected infringers.
In a 20-page white paper (PDF), the Obama administration called on the U.S. Congress to fix "deficiencies that could hinder enforcement" of intellectual property laws.
The report was prepared by Victoria Espinel, the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator who received Senate confirmation in December 2009, and represents a broad tightening of many forms of intellectual property law including ones that deal with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and overseas royalties for copyright holders. (See CNET's report last month previewing today's white paper.)
Some of the highlights:
• The White House is concerned that "illegal streaming of content" may not be covered by criminal law, saying "questions have arisen about whether streaming constitutes the distribution of copyrighted works." To resolve that ambiguity, it wants a new law to "clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances."
• Under federal law, wiretaps may only be conducted in investigations of serious crimes, a list that was expanded by the 2001 Patriot Act to include offenses such as material support of terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction. The administration is proposing to add copyright and trademark infringement, arguing that move "would assist U.S. law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses.
Source: Wired - January 5, 2011
LAS VEGAS — Intel is preparing a new line of processing, graphics and wireless technologies aimed in part at bringing video to consumers — and preventing them from copying it.
The content protection scheme, known as “Intel Insider,” is a feature built into its second-generation Core processors, which Intel unveiled Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The feature will prevent playback or copying of HD video content through insecure channels within a PC. For example, video can be delivered to a secured HDMI port, but not over an unsecured PCI bus. It also provides a mechanism for online content providers to recognize Intel Insider computers, and deliver copy-protected content only to them.
“It’s like an armored truck, if you will,” Intel marketing director Josh Newman told Wired.com. “It’s a way of securing the content once it’s inside the PC.”
The second-generation chips, which will retain the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 nomenclature used in the current generation of chips, feature enhanced graphics-processing capabilities aimed at delivering better 3-D image-rendering for games, faster image editing and improved HD video processing. They are made with Intel’s 32-nanometer manufacturing process and incorporate its high-k metal gate transistor technology.
In a demo, Intel showed a “video thumbnail” browser that let users browse through dozens of simultaneously playing video clips. Intel says the chips can support playback of seven or eight HD video streams simultaneously, and can transcode and downsize a two-hour HD video to iPhone format in five or 10 minutes — without tying up the processor, so you can continue to use your computer during the operation.
Quad-core versions of the chips will be available on Jan. 9, with dual-core versions to follow in February. PC manufacturers will soon introduce more than 500 laptop and desktop models using the chips, according to Intel.
Intel says the chips will also be more power-efficient, leading to longer battery life and enabling thinner, lighter and cooler notebooks.
They will all include an enhanced “Intel Turbo Boost” technology that reassigns CPU and graphics-processing resources as needed to provide improved performance to applications such as games.
But it’s the Intel Insider feature that has movie studios excited.
“Now that Intel has made it more secure, we’re able to provide new releases and popular catalog titles in full HD to the PC,” said Warner Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara, in a press release.
Although Intel Insider prevents end-user copying and playback, Intel is pitching the feature as one that’s beneficial to consumers, presumably because it will make movie studios and TV networks more comfortable about selling or renting their content online, thus opening the door to more content. It also doesn’t require people to enter complicated authentication codes, because the authentication all happens in the background.
“We’re trying to be user-centric,” Intel senior vice president Tom Kilroy told Wired.com in a pre-briefing.
20th Century Fox will also use Intel Insider to distribute content. CinemaNow will also support the feature.
Source: The New York Post - December 22, 2010
The entertainment industry has a new billion-dollar baby.
Activision Blizzard announced yesterday its "Call of Duty: Black Ops" video game has racked up $1 billion in sales after just 42 days on the market.
That's quicker than the company's previous blockbuster video game, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," which passed the 10-figure plateau in 64 days.
"In all of entertainment, only 'Call of Duty' and 'Avatar' have ever achieved the billion-dollar revenue milestone this quickly," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said.
"Avatar" -- the 3-D blockbuster produced by 20th Century Fox, which, like The Post is owned by News Corp. -- wears the crown as the fastest entertainment property to ring up $1 billion in sales, having done so last year after just 20 days in wide release.
Demand for "Black Ops," the seventh release of the "Call of Duty" franchise, has proved more resilient than some Wall Street analysts expected, and puts the game in the running to become among the biggest entertainment releases in history, whether in movies, books or video games.
The milestone follows last month's announcement that "Black Ops" -- which retails for $59.99 -- had generated an unprecedented $360 million in revenue on its first day of release, and $650 million during its first five days, shattering records set by previous media titles.
"More people play 'Black Ops' every day than watch late-night hosts Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon combined," Kotick boasted in an interview with The Post.
Since the release of 'Black Ops,' users have logged more than 600 million hours of online playing time -- or about 68,500 years. If parents are worried, Kotick argues that 'Black Ops,' which allows users to play in groups online, is a kind of "social networking tool."
As such, Kotick argues that Activision's business model is closer to Facebook's or Google's than that of a traditional video-game manufacturer.
Shares of Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard, which have risen 10 percent year to date, gained 2 cents to $12.24 yesterday.
Not for casual watching. Themes include social engineering, mind control, biological experimentation and so on, with many insights on education and the development of thought control from birth to death.
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