Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hands-On With Google’s New Nexus 5X And 6P Phones

Google unveiled two new Nexus phones, an updated version of its Chromecast dongle and an audio-only version of the Chromecast at a press event in San Francisco today. This was Google’s largest dedicated hardware event to date, and we spent some quality time with all of the new devices.
The metal-clad Nexus 6P definitely feels like a premium device. It still has a bit of heft to it, but because it’s a little bit smaller, it feels much better in the hand than the somewhat oversized older Nexus 6. Officially, it’s a tiny bit lighter than the previous model, but I doubt you’d notice much of a difference. The AMOLED screen looked great, but we’d have to spend a bit more time with it in real-world conditions to really draw any conclusions about it. At the event, it looked very sharp and seemed to render colors nicely, but you’d expect that from a quad-HD screen.
Within the controlled environment of the event venue, the camera seemed to work really well, but we weren’t able to do any low-light tests yet, for example.
Compared to the new Nexus 6P, the smaller Nexus 5X clearly doesn’t quite feel as premium — mostly because in comparison to the metal Nexus 6P, the plastic housing of the 5X is obviously a bit of a letdown. For about $130 less than the 6P, this is still a phone to be reckoned with, especially because it shares its camera tech with the larger phone.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about the device is that it feels very light. Given that it has a 2,400 mAh battery, that’s actually surprising. The 1080p screen won’t blow you away, but it’s perfectly fine.
Which one should you get? We haven’t spent enough time with either of them to give you a recommendation just yet, but we’ll review both phones once we get our review units. From the time I spent with them, though, I’d probably go for the 6P. Unlike the last Nexus 6, this one doesn’t feel as bulky — and for me, that was the main reason why I kept my old Nexus 5 around until now.

Paul Walker's Daughter Sues Porsche for Wrongful Death, Company Responds

Paul Walker's daughter Meadow is suing Porsche alleging negligence, wrongful death and other claims following the 2013 death of her father.
But Porsche said it was "reckless driving" not negligence that caused the "Fast & Furious" actor's death.
Walker died at the age of 40 when the Porsche Carrera GT he was a passenger in lost control and crashed into a tree near his charity event in Santa Clarita, California, on Nov. 30, 2013. The car burst into flames after the accident and both Walker and the driver, Roger Rodas, were pronounced dead on the scene.
Read: 'Fast and Furious' Star Paul Walker Killed in Crash in Los Angeles
Related: Coroner Reveals How Fast Paul Walker Was Traveling at Time of Death
"The bottom line is that the Porsche Carrera GT is a dangerous car. It doesn't belong on the street. And we shouldn't be without Paul Walker or his friend, Roger Rodas," Meadow Walker's lawyer Jeff Milam told ABC News regarding the suit filed Monday in California Superior Court. The lawsuit does not state the monetary amount in damages being sought by the plaintiff.
A representative for Porsche released a statement to Entertainment Weekly about the lawsuit, saying, "As we have said before, we are very sad whenever anyone is hurt in a Porsche vehicle, but we believe the authorities' reports in this case clearly establish that this tragic crash resulted from reckless driving and excessive speed."
In the lawsuit, obtained by ABC News, the paperwork cites the car's 605 horsepower engine and top speed of 205 mph, coupled with the car's lack of "safety features that are found on well-designed racing cars or even Porsche's least expensive road cars -- features that could have prevented that accident or, at a minimum, allowed Walker to survive the crash."
The suit also alleges that the car company didn't install an "electronic stability control system, which is specifically designed to protect against the swerving actions inherent in hyper-sensitive vehicles of this type."
Walker was trapped due to the seat belt design, the suit adds, claiming he was alive for a full minute and 20 seconds after the crash, until the car "erupted into flames" and he died.
"Absent these defects in the Porsche Carrera GT, Paul Walker would be alive today," the suit reads.
The lawsuit also claims the car was traveling approximately 63 to 71 mph when it went out of control, not the "approximately 100-plus" miles per hour the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office reported one month after Walker's death.
According to a case report included in the December 2013 coroner's report, the car "struck a sidewalk, and the driver's side of the vehicle struck a tree and then a light post. The force of those collisions caused the vehicle to spin 180 degrees." The deputy medical examiner's conclusion was that the actor died from the "combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries."
Porsche Cars North America did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit by ABC News and by the AP.

Jim Carrey's ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, dead in reported suicide

The ex-girlfriend of Jim Carrey, Cathriona White, has died, the actor confirmed in a statement sent to FOX411.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the passing of my sweet Cathriona," Carrey stated. "She was a truly kind and delicate Irish flower, too sensitive for this soil, to whom loving and being loved was all that sparkled. My heart goes out to her family and friends and to everyone who loved and cared about her. We have all been hit with a lightning bolt."
TMZ reports that White, 28, was found dead by the LAPD Monday night, and that a suicide note was found at the scene.
She last posted on Twitter on September 24: "Signing off Twitter, I hope I have been a light to my nearest and dearest."
An officer with LAPD told FOX411 the police department does not release information regarding suicides. The Los Angeles County Coroner could not immediately be reached for comment.
TMZ reports Carrey, 53, and White dated in 2012 and broke up, but they were photographed holding hands in New York City on May 21, and many news outlets reported they had rekindled their romance. 
Carrey's most recently posted a photo of himself on Twitter on Sept. 16 with the caption, "Grand Central, NYC (photo by Cathriona White)." According to TMZ, White's alleged suicide note referenced a breakup with Carrey on Sept. 24. 
White was a makeup artist who moved to the United States from Ireland. Her social media accounts, though active, make no recent mention of Carrey, although she did retweet a photo with him on Feb. 24 at what looks to be an LA Kings hockey game. Her Instagram account is filled with snaps of her recent meals, her family and animals. 

One week ago she celebrated her birthday at the popular restaurant Nobu in Malibu, posting photos at the restaurant and before the dinner. 
Two weeks ago she posted a photo of a quote that read, "I sometimes smile and act like nothing is wrong. It's called dealing with s--t and staying strong."

Facebook Privacy Status Hoax Resurfaces, Fills News Feeds

A years-old Facebook hoax is making the rounds again, giving users false hope that a simple status update will lock down their accounts and protect the photos and videos they share.
The status contains a sentence that intends to prevent Facebook from using your content. According to the message, pasting the message on your wall prevents the social media company from using your photos or anything else on your profile.
The problem? It doesn't work.
Here's the status:
As of (date), I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement atleast once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.
According to Facebook’s terms and conditions, your photos and videos are fair game — sometimes.
“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it,” the site’s terms read.
That means Facebook does not own users’ content, but the site does have permission to use any photos, videos or statuses that are posted publicly.
However, there’s hope for social savvy users who don’t want to broadcast their lives beyond their close friends and family, and don’t want the site to have access to their content. Those who don’t want their photos or videos shared by other entities can simply tighten the security settings on their account, making some or all posts private.
The hoax dates as far back as November 2012, when Facebook noticed that status becoming so widespread, the social networking site released a statement seeking to clarify.
“There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been,” the company said at the time.
Snopes addressed the hoax status back in 2011. The message seems to appear at least once a year -- and every year, thousands of people are tricked into sharing the message on their page.
Here's an excerpt from the Snopes article:
"Facebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they signed up for their accounts, nor can they unilaterally alter or contradict any new privacy or copyright terms instituted by Facebook, simply by posting a contrary legal notice on their Facebook walls. Moreover, the fact that Facebook is now a publicly traded company (i.e., a company that has issued stocks which are traded on the open market) or an "open capital entity" has nothing to do with copyright protection or privacy rights. Any copyright or privacy agreements users of Facebook have entered into with that company prior to its becoming a publicly traded company or changing its policies remain in effect: they are neither diminished nor enhanced by Facebook's public status."
Users can read the site’s full terms of service, here. If they find something they don’t like, users can lobby for a change through Facebook’s Site Governance section.

NEWS SEP 29 2015, 7:44 AM ET MTV Extreme Sports Star Erik Roner Dies After Hitting Tree During Skydive

More than 100 people watched in horror as MTV star and extreme sports athlete Erik Roner was killed when hitting a tree while skydiving in California.
The 39-year-old was part of a three-man parachute team performing at a charity golf tournament in Olympic Valley, near Lake Tahoe, on Monday morning.
Witnesses said he was off-target on his descent, according to a statement from Nitro Circus, the extreme sports company and eponymous MTV show for which Roner was a performer.
"He hit a tree ... he hit a tree so hard. I don't know what happened from there," eyewitness Roy Tuscany told extreme sports media company Teton Gravity Research.
Tuscany, founder of non-profit sports injury group the High Fives Foundation, was among 120 eyewitnesses at the golf tournament, Teton Gravity Research reported.
After the impact, Roner became entangled in the tree "high above the ground," and although rescue personnel were able to retrieve his body he was pronounced dead at the scene, the Placer County Sheriff said.
Roner was performing at the 4th Annual Squaw Valley Institute Celebrity Golf Classic, "an organization to which Erik regularly dedicated his time," the institute said in a statement.
He is survived by "a beautiful wife and [two] amazing kids that will miss him dearly," the Nitro Circus statement said.
Canadian BASE jumper and skier Ian McIntosh was one of several extreme sportsmen and women to pay tribute to Roner on social media. "You will live on in my heart forever buddy," he said on Facebook.

George Zimmerman goes on depraved Twitter rant after retweeting picture of Trayvon Martin's corpse

George Zimmerman's Twitter trolling has reached a new low.
Days after retweeting an image of Trayvon Martin's corpse, Zimmerman went on a depraved Twitter tirade Monday afternoon, spewing racist rants and boasting about "mocking all you trolls."
The man who shot and killed Martin three years ago also gave out an apparent stranger's phone number, referring "all media inquiries" to the unsuspecting man.
"Gee..I sure hate offending people that have plotted and tried to kill me and my family..." Zimmerman wrote with one tweet, with a photo matching President Obama with Virginia murderer Vester Flanagan.
A representative for Martin's family told the Daily News they will not comment on Zimmerman's frenzy.
Zimmerman flew off the handle days after he seemed to boast about killing the 17-year-old Martin.
Over the weekend, an admirer tweeted him a photo of Martin's body, which was used as evidence for Zimmerman's trial. The user called Zimmerman a "one man army."
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch guard, retweeted the graphic pic to his 11,000 followers. It stayed up for days before Twitter took it down.
He started fighting back against critics Monday, in tweets that were simultaneously self-pitying and self-aggrandizing.
"I wonder when Twitter will take these images down???" he wrote with old "Wanted" posters showing his face.
In another tweet, he gave out the cell and work numbers for Micah Williams, an auto worker in Clarksville, Tenn., who was tagged in the tweet with Martin's death photo. Zimmerman incorrectly called him "Ms. Micah Williams."
Williams did not return request for comment, but one coworker told The News Williams was slammed with "thousands" of harassing calls after the tweet.
"We're going to get another one as soon as you hang up," another coworker said.
It's unclear if Zimmerman and Williams previously knew each other.
Near the end of his outburst, which spanned one hour, Zimmerman posted a photo of himself smoking a cigar on a beach.
"As much as I love owning all you trolls I have to work... On my tan!" he wrote. "Tell 'Karma' she's worthless, God protects me."

Why Top Model Gigi Hadid Blasted Her Body-Shamers on Instagram

The in-demand model fired back against trolls who claimed she was too heavy for the runway, becoming the latest model to use social media to find her voice.
Among today’s generation of It Girl top models, Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid are an unstoppable triumvirate, dominating the industry with their striking looks, family pedigrees, and massive social media influence.
Delevingne has established her own personal brand on Instagram as a quirky British supermodel-turned-actress who refuses to cow to the fashion industry’s body standards.
Hadid, 20, has now taken a similar stand on Instagram, posting on Monday a lengthy message to the trolls among her 6.5 million followers who declared her too heavy for high fashion.
“So many people are so quick to comment negative opinions this month,” she wrote, during a month that has seen her star in major Spring/Summer 2016 shows like Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Furstenberg, Jeremy Scott, and Versace.
Hadid acknowledged that nasty comments about her voluptuous figure come from people “who, 99% of the time, have no idea what they’re talking about,” but that she “did let the negativity get to me a bit.”
It was a bold confession of vulnerability and body insecurity from a model who, in the last two years, has transitioned overnight from being a senior in high school to one of the most buzzed-about bright young things on the runway.
But Hadid’s post also demonstrates how consumed we are with body image: one of the sexiest young models in the industry was so distraught by body-shaming that she couldn’t resist engaging the trolls.
Much like Delevingne and Jenner, Hadid’s privileged upbringing as the daughter of Yolanda Foster, a former model and Real Housewife of Beverly Hills (her father is the wealthy Middle Eastern real estate tycoon, Mohamed Hadid; her stepfather is songwriter and record producer David Foster) has prepared her for a career that requires being surrounded by the rich and famous.
Hadid landed her first modeling gig with Guess when she was 2 years old, and now has distinguished herself with her bold personality and her ability to move seamlessly between high and mainstream fashion.
magazine recently crowned her “the world’s most connected supermodel.” Ever since Hadid was spotted by style doyenne Carine Roitfeld nearly two years ago, she has been the face of Tom Ford’s fragrance as well as the face of Maybelline; she’s walked runways in Paris and posed (two years in a row) in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition. She also appeared in Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video this year.
“I represent a body image that wasn’t accepted in high-fashion before, and I’m very lucky to be supported by the designers, stylists, and editors that I am: ones who know this is fashion, it’s art; it can never stay the same,” Hadid wrote in her post.
“But if you’re not one of those people, don’t take your anger out on me. Yes, I have boobs, I have abs, I have a butt, I have thighs, but I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m fitting into the sample sizes…If I didn’t have the body I do, I wouldn’t have the career I do.”
Hadid was quickly propped up by the famously voluptuous Tyra Banks, who struggled to meet the industry’s skinny standards when she was a top model in the ’90s. “I haven’t met you yet @gigihadid but I FEEL you so much. Your words are powerful. Your words are necessary. Your words are real…From one model that had curves and a unique walk to another, Tyra.”
Indeed, Banks was one of the first models to ignite a longstanding cultural debate about fashion’s preference for impossibly thin models, arguing that it has led many of them to internalize unhealthy body images and develop debilitating eating disorders.
Hadid’s Instagram post is proof that models today are more voluble than ever, thanks in large part to social media.
Several weeks ago, Agnes Hedengård, a 19-year-old Swedish model, posted a video to YouTube and Facebook denouncing the industry’s “absurd” standards. The slender Hedengård claimed she had been rejected from multiple modeling gigs because she was “too big,” and the video quickly went viral.
On the other end of the spectrum, Australian model Genevieve Barker recentlyrailed against skinny-shaming critics who commented on an Instagram picture of her, calling her a “bag of bones” and bullying her to “eat a burger.”
She told The Daily Mail that she “used to feel embarrassed, and guilty for being the way I am. I don’t anymore, I work hard for my body…I am healthy and strong and yes, thin.”
What resonated most about Hadid’s post were the notes of vulnerability—the admissions that she wants “to have a unique walk but I also know I have to improve,” followed by her insistence that she’s “a really hard worker that’s confident in myself, one that came at a time where the fashion industry was ready for a change.”
“Your mean comments don’t make me want to change my body,” she added, “they don’t make me want to say no to the designers that ask me to be in their shows, and they definitely don’t change the designers’ opinions of me,” she wrote.
It’s certainly not the first time Hadid has been scrutinized for her curves. When she first began interviewing at modeling agencies in New York, many of them encouraged her to “lose a lot of weight,” she told The Daily Mail. “I would cry at night and my mom would be like, ‘We’re going to find the [right] people.’”
Ultimately, they did find the right people. And while Hadid’s brazenness in the face of Instagram trolls sends an empowering message to her fans and others in the industry, the truth is that fashion is fickle and restricting. That’s why Delevingne has decided to pursue acting.
Meanwhile, as her Instagram words convey, Hadid, the darling of top designers, isn’t about to let a few Internet trolls derail or negate her success.
It’s disheartening that insecurity about body image affects even the most genetically blessed. But at a time when personality is so important to a model’s success, Hadid’s authenticity is a huge part of her appeal—and, for now, that holds far more sway over the industry than the circumference of her thighs. 

Facebook down for second time in a week

 Facebook has restored access to its website after a 40-minute outage on Monday, the second time in a week that the site has gone down.
Users saw an error message that read "Sorry, something went wrong. We're working on it and we'll get it fixed as soon as we can."
Company shares were down nearly 4% at $89.25 (£58.83) shortly after the site went down. It also crashed on Thursday.
The social networking site is used by nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

All right, all right - the world is still spinning. But Facebook going down twice, in a relatively short timeframe, can be fairly significant. It moves markets - Facebook share price is down almost 4% as I write this.
The company's status page detailed a "major outage" on Monday, but things were soon back to normal.
A quick post-mortem, posted by an engineer at the company, said the problem was with its Graph API. In simplest terms, the "graph" is the term Facebook uses to describe the core of Facebook's system. Posts, photos, statuses are all connected to people, groups and pages via the Graph - and that's what failed.
Sometimes Facebook downtime can also affect other companies that tap into Facebook's data - like Tinder, for example.
The last time this happened, Facebook admitted it was something its own engineers had caused by tinkering. That's likely the case again here, but twice in a week will be a little frustrating for both users and shareholders.
People took to Twitter to lament and poke fun at the situation.
The Kingston police force in London pre-empted emergency cold turkey calls, with tongue firmly in cheek.
Sites that monitor disruptions said North America was particularly badly affected this time.
"We are currently restoring Facebook services that people had trouble accessing earlier today due to a configuration," said a Facebook spokesman.
Some users took to speculating about the cause.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Facebook website, mobile app briefly reported down

Facebook was briefly, widely reported to be down on Thursday afternoon after experiencing technical difficulties, the second time in two weeks for the social media platform. The cause of the outage was not immediately available.
The company's mobile application was also reportedly operating with some interruptions.
Shares of Facebook stock are down 0.68 percent in midday trading, on a day that the market is broadly lower.

Hajj Stampede Near Mecca Leaves Over 700 Dead

At least 717 people were killed and 863 injured in a stampede near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday morning.

The deaths — at an intersection in Mina, about six miles east of the city — occurred around 9 a.m. on the first day of Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar, as millions of Muslims were making their pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca.

It appeared to be the deadliest accident during the hajj since 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims perished in a stampede in a tunnel linking Mecca and Mina. And it occurred less than two weeks after a large construction crane toppled and crashed into the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing at least 111 people and injuring 394 others.

Thursday’s stampede is likely to intensify fears that Saudi Arabia does not have the transportation and public safety infrastructure to channel and protect one of the world’s largest regular human migrations.

In a statement, the Saudi health minister, Khalid al-Falih, said the stampede may have been “caused by the movement of some pilgrims who didn’t follow the guidelines and instructions issued by the responsible authorities.”

But the high death toll is likely to embarrass the Saudi government, which considers itself the leader of the Muslim world and takes great pride in hosting the millions of pilgrims who visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year. One of the titles of the Saudi monarch is “custodian of the two holy mosques,” referring to his personal duty to protect the sites and the pilgrims.

The Saudi civil defense directorate reported the deaths on Twitter and said that two medical centers had been opened in Mina to treat the injured. More than 4,000 emergency workers were sent to the scene, and hundreds of people were taken to four hospitals.

The stampede, witnesses reported on social media, occurred around the area where pilgrims go to perform a ritual — the Stoning of the Devil, a re-enactment of a story from the Quran involving the Prophet Abraham — that takes place during the hajj.

In Iran, officials already angered by the crane collapse complained bitterly about the Saudi government’s role in the disaster, which claimed the lives of at least 89 Iranians.

“Unfortunately, they have not been attending to our injured individuals in their hospitals the way they should,” Qazi Askar, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader for hajj affairs, said in an emotional interview with state television on Thursday. “The point which makes one wonder is that they do not even let our rescue relief teams visit the site and attend to them, or go to hospitals to identify our injured ones. I don’t know what kind of service this is for pilgrims.”

Cellphones and cameras are prohibited from the main sanctuaries, but cameras may be used in the surrounding areas, and videos shared on social media showed scores of lifeless bodies in the street, many covered with the simple white garments pilgrims wear during the hajj.One video showed a heap of men lying atop one another as workers in fluorescent yellow vests worked to separate the living from the dead and to rescue any survivors.

With tens of thousands of air-conditioned tents, Mina provides temporary accommodations for many of the more than two million pilgrims who make the hajj to circle the Kaaba, which sits at the center of the Grand Mosque.

In 2006, a stampede there claimed more than 360 lives on the eve of the hajj, and a day earlier, an eight-story building near the Grand Mosque collapsed, killing at least 73 people.

In 2001, a stampede in Mina killed around 35 people; in 1998, about 180 pilgrims were trampled there after several of them fell off an overpass during the stoning ritual; in 1997, at least 340 pilgrims were killed in a fire in Mina set off by high winds; and in 1994, about 270 were killed in a stampede there.

Irfan al-Alawi, the executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation and a critic of how the Saudi government has developed Mecca and Medina, said by telephone from Mecca that the stampede had been a result of “poor management” by the government, given the number of past disasters.

Madawi al-Rasheed, an anthropologist and visiting professor at the London School of Economics, said: “There is no accountability. It’s shocking that almost every year there is some kind of death toll.”

The Saudi government began a construction boom around Mecca around a decade ago, at the start of the reign of King Abdullah, who died in January.

“The renovation and expansion are done under the pretext of creating more space for Muslim pilgrims, but it masks land grabs and vast amounts of money being made by the princes and by other Saudis,” Professor Rasheed said.

After the crane collapse, the Saudi government punished the Saudi Binladin Group, a construction conglomerate working on the mosque expansion, by denying it future contracts and banning travel for some of its executives.

The expansion has transformed Mecca. Whole neighborhoods — mostly populated by migrant workers from Yemen, Egypt and other countries — are being bulldozed for new roads and hotels. The topography of the city itself is being altered, as hills are leveled to make way for construction and cranes rise in their place. The most coveted real estate, abutting the grand mosque, is occupied by a cluster of luxury hotels where rooms cost hundreds of dollars a night, even in the off-season.

To ease the crowds, the Saudi authorities have expanded upward, building pedestrian bridges around the holy sites, some of them close to the camp where Thursday’s stampede occurred. A train line linking Jidda, Mecca and Medina is being planned to ease road congestion but has been hampered by delays.

Even before Thursday’s stampede, this year’s pilgrimage season had been marred by mishaps. Last Thursday, about 1,000 pilgrims from Asia had to leave their hotel because of a fire, which injured two Indonesians. This week, about 1,500 pilgrims were evacuated from a 15-story hotel in Mecca when a fire broke out on the 11th floor. Four pilgrims from Yemen were hurt.

A vast majority of pilgrims are not from Saudi Arabia and have not been able to exert pressure on the government to improve crowd control or public safety around the hajj. Professor Rasheed said that officials in the kingdom had avoided responsibility in part by citing the Islamic doctrine that anyone who dies during the pilgrimage — one of the five pillars of Islam, and a duty for all able-bodied Muslims with the means to make the trip — goes to heaven.

On Thursday, the Saudi civil defense directorate said on Twitter, “We ask God to grant the martyrs his mercy.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scream Queens: EW review

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, they were everywhere. Playing skull croquette in Heathers. Slamming wannabes against lockers in Jawbreaker. Deadpanning “I don’t f— losers” in Cruel Intentions. Casting serious side-eye at Molly Ringwald in every John Hughes movie ever. If these hateful ladies weren’t exactly heroes, they weren’t cautionary tales, either. Often, viewers couldn’t decide whether they wanted to kill them or be them.
For the first time in forever, we’re seeing that kind of quasi-glamorized, quasi-villified mean girl again, on Fox’s new horror-comedy Scream Queens. It follows blonde-haired, black-hearted sorority fascist Chanel No. 1 (Emma Roberts), who’s been forced by the university’s Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) to open Kappa House to all students — even “fatties and ethnics,” as Chanel calls them — while a devil-masked killer knocks off pledges and Kappa sisters alike. The pilot flashes back and forth between 1994, when a sorority girl died mysteriously at Kappa House, and the 20th anniversary of her death — a savvy way to appeal to both college-age viewers and their parents, who will recognize many of Scream Queen’s pop-culture references. When a security guard (Niecy Nash) lists all the ineffective ways she’s prepared to protect Kappa House, she’s winking at the self-aware genre comedy of Scream. Chanel’s archenemy, nice girl Grace (Skyler Samuels), has a make-out scene set to the closing song from Sixteen Candles. And, just like in Heathers, all the Kappa sisters have the same name. There’s airhead Chanel No. 2 (Ariana Grande), sassy Chanel No. 3 (Billie Lourd), and ambitious Chanel No. 5 (Abigail Breslin). No one seems to know what happened to Chanel No. 4.
Still, watching the Chanels work their magic, it’s obvious why this vintage mean-girl archetype is not as popular now, in this It Gets Better era when every queen bee from Jennifer Lawrence to Taylor Swift claims she was bullied in high school. We live in a time when it’s cool to be different and inclusive. And, ironically, that’s partly thanks to Scream Queen’s creators, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck, and Ian Brennan.
Murphy, Falchuck, and Brennan created Glee, a show so insistent upon its love of nerds and outcasts that it literally aired anti-bullying PSAs. But with its sharp wit and rat-a-tat dialogue, Glee sometimes sounded like it was longing to laugh at these nerds as often as it laughed along with them. Such outright spitefulness wouldn’t have fit the show’s warm-fuzzy message, but on Scream Queens, that’s no longer a problem. The over-the-top violence and campy comedy allow the writers to unleash their most evil dialogue. Case in point: Chanel No. 1 greets Kappa’s recruits by barking, “Good evening, idiot hookers!”
At times, it’s hard to tell if Scream Queens is satirizing mean girls or acting like a mean girl itself. The most interesting characters are the misfit pledges: Grace, her black roommate Zayday (Keke Palmer), a deaf woman named Tiffany (Whitney Meyer), the neck-braced Hester (Lea Michelle), the lesbian “Predatory Lez” (Jeanna Han), and Jennifer (Breezy Eslin), a “candle vlogger” who reviews candles on YouTube. (“I call this one the Nancy Meyers Experience, because it smells like creamy couches and menopause.”) These women get all the best one-liners, and they also serve up the smartest meta-commentary about race, gender, sexuality, and class, which might make you assume that the show sides with these so-called losers.
But that’s not the case when Scream Queens pushes easy shock value for its own sake, as when Chanel repeatedly insists that Kappa’s maid call her “white mammy” and the other sorority sisters force the poor woman to say she “don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ no babies.” (Also: today’s sorority girls still quote Gone with the Wind? WTF? LMAO!) The show itself encourages us to mock Tiffany for being deaf, just like Chanel does. One scene finds Tiffany mistaking her fellow Kappa pledges’ screaming for a Taylor Swift sing-along — a joke so tasteless, I almost turned off my TV.
And yet, thinking about these scenes later, I wondered whether outright cruelty might be slightly more thought-provoking than the type of facile anti-bullying message that allows viewers to pat themselves on the backs. The whole time I watched Scream Queen’s two-hour premiere, I was either laughing out loud, or feeling guilty for laughing out loud. Why did I find it hilarious when the beautiful, popular Chanel No. 2 (played by the beautiful, popular Ariana Grande) succumbed to a violent end while texting with the killer, but I balked when the killer reveled in decapitating a more pathetic pledge? It can’t just boil down to simple schadenfreude. For hours afterward, I was left questioning why certain scenes prompted one response instead of the other.
At its best, Scream Queens challenges our motives for empathizing with outcasts in the first place. When it specifically targets younger generations on that front, it feels fresh. Chanel agrees to accept a gay pledge at Kappa House not because she’s compassionate but because she loves positive publicity and knows the move will light up social media. When local news reporters descend upon Dean Munsch, questioning her about the devil-mask killer, tearful students lurk in the background, taking selfies and giving faux-devastated interviews about a victim they’ve never even met. “I’ve got news for you, self-involved junior,” the Dean thinks to herself. “Just because you know a guy who was in a class with the dead girl’s roommate does not mean that it could have been you.” The idea that empathy might stem from self-interest also feels like a sly indictment of the viewer. Don’t we love to watch devil-masked killers stalking young women because we like to fantasize about what we’d do if it happened to us?
Scream Queens isn’t for everyone. Some will find it too sadistic or too campy or unfairly dismissive of Millenials. But for me, its critique extends to viewers of all ages. “My shrink says these kids are the most messed-up of any generation they’ve seen because their parents made life so easy for them,” says the sorority’s attorney Gigi (Nasim Pedrad). “It’s like they can’t handle adversity.” Sometimes I worry about that same weakness with viewers, too. We can’t handle adversity. We want our messages served up in a tidy PSA message. We don’t want to work too hard to figure out why a show might makes us feel uncomfortable feelings. Scream Queens is flawed, but it’s worth watching, simply because there’s nothing easy about it. The casual brutality takes just as much work to think about as it does to watch.

Uses Nazi Badge For Yom Kippur .... How Could You Nazi This?!

Looks like WGN has some serious atoning to do today ... because for some reason, the network used infamous NAZI  imagery for a news story about Yom Kippur
Check out the graphic used during a segment about the Jewish high holiday on Tuesday night. That yellow star look familar???
Yeah, it's because it's the same yellow badge the Nazis forced the Jews to wear during the 1940s. 
A Chicago lawyer took notice and called out WGN -- writing, "Holy crap, @WGNNews, this is your stock photo for a Jewish holiday?? Nobody thought that's a bad choice of photo?"
WGN responded, "We are truly sorry for inadvertently using an offensive image in our story. We apologize and deeply regret the error."
Oy vey. 

The 50 greatest Yogi Berra quotes

Yankees legend Yogi Berra passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90. An 18-time All-Star, Berra appeared in 14 World Series as a member of the Yankees and won 10 of them.
Berra’s contributions to MLB history are incalculable, but his legacy might be even better remembered for what he contributed to American language. A sportswriters’ favorite, Berra had countless expressions and turns of phrase that were memorable because most of them didn’t make any sense. (At the same time, every one had some truth to it.)
Berra-isms (colloquial expressions that lack logic) are now countless, and many of them are just attributed to Berra, even if he never actually said them. As he so perfectly put it: “I never said most of the things I said.” Here are 50 of our favorites.
1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
2. You can observe a lot by just watching.
3. It ain’t over till it’s over.
4. It’s like déjà vu all over again.
5. No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.
6. Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.
7. A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
8. Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.
9. We made too many wrong mistakes.
10. Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
11. You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.
12. You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.
13. I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.
14. Never answer an anonymous letter.
15. Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.
16. How can you think and hit at the same time?
17. The future ain’t what it used to be.
18. I tell the kids, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.
19. It gets late early out here.
20. If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.
21. We have deep depth.
22. Pair up in threes.
23. Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.
24. You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.
25. All pitchers are liars or crybabies.
26. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
27. Bill Dickey is learning me his experience.
28. He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.
29. It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
30. I can see how he (Sandy Koufax) won twenty-five games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five.
31. I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.
32. I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.
33. I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.
34. In baseball, you don’t know nothing.
35. I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?
36. I never said most of the things I said.
37. It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.
38. If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.
39. I wish everybody had the drive he (Joe DiMaggio) had. He never did anything wrong on the field. I’d never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch, and he never walked off the field.
40. So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.
41. Take it with a grin of salt.
42. (On the 1973 Mets) We were overwhelming underdogs.
43. The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
44. Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.
45. Mickey Mantle was a very good golfer, but we weren’t allowed to play golf during the season; only at spring training.
46. You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.
47. I’m lucky. Usually you’re dead to get your own museum, but I’m still alive to see mine.
48. If I didn’t make it in baseball, I won’t have made it workin’. I didn’t like to work.
49. If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.
50. A lot of guys go, ‘Hey, Yog, say a Yogi-ism.’ I tell ’em, ‘I don’t know any.’ They want me to make one up. I don’t make ’em up. I don’t even know when I say it. They’re the truth. And it is the truth. I don’t know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mistake-prone Colts drop to 0-2 after being dominated at home by Jets

The Indianapolis Colts look like a team that’s about to implode.

Indianapolis followed up Week 1’s disappointing loss to the Buffalo Bills with a disastrous 20-7 defeat at home Monday night against the New York Jets. And it wasn’t just that the Colts lost. It was how they looked doing it.

Careless turnovers, pointless penalties and blown assignments plagued Indianapolis (0-2), and the mistakes could be another signal of more trouble to come.

Reports are hovering above the franchise, suggesting general manager Ryan Grigsonand coach Chuck Pagano are at odds.

“We’re just like anybody else,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said earlier this week when asked about reports of discord among team management. “It’s Week 2 in the National Football League. It’s a 17-week season. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. When you win, everybody writes great things about you and when you lose, they come from all corners. You’re going to get a barrage from everywhere.”

That barrage is about to get much stronger.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles dialed up blitz after blitz in the first half. The Colts had no answer. Simply put, they have not gotten better since last season and look lost.

Not only that, but the Jets repeatedly failed to capitalize on Indianapolis’ mistakes and failed to deliver the knockout blow until receiver Brandon Marshall dragged two Indy defenders for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Given multiple second chances, the Colts failed to close the gap. Quarterback Andrew Luck was just as much at fault for his team’s struggles Monday night as the several receivers who dropped passes. Luck completed just 18 of his 34 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown to go with three interceptions. He also lost one fumble.

Including their AFC Championship Game loss to the New England Patriots to end last season, the Colts have been outscored by a margin of 92-28 in their last three outings.

Disastrous performances to open the season aside — the Colts should still win the AFC South. As long as Indianapolis can handle the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans — the Colts are 12-0 within the division since 2013 – they should make the playoffs.

But, for right now at least, they don’t look like a team that’s even close to being capable of challenging AFC heavyweights or fulfilling their preseason hype as a trendy Super Bowl pick.