Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Man Decapitates Self In Broad Daylight

A man managed to behead himself in a spectacularly gruesome suicide in the Bronx Monday.

Tomas Rivera, 51, of upstate Port Jervis, tied a chain from his head to a pole, then hit the gas on his 2005 Honda CRV in Hunts Point, cops said.

He gunned it at 9:35 a.m., slamming into a parked vehicle on Longfellow Ave. near Randall Ave., police said. He was decapitated and died at the scene.
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Box Office: 'No Good Deed' Easily Beats 'Dolphin Tale 2' With $24.5M

Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson’s new thriller No Good Deed sprinted past family offering Dolphin Tale 2 to win the North American box office race with $24.5 million from 2,175 theaters, marking another win for producer Will Packer and Screen Gems.
Dolphin Tale 2, from Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros., came in on the low end of expectations, grossing $16.6 million for a second-place finish. It wasn’t able to match the $19.2 million opening ofDolphin Tale in September 2011, never welcome news for a sequel.Dolphin Tale 2, however, did earn an A CinemaScore so could have staying power.
The other big headline was Marvel Studios’ and Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which has become the first film of 2014 to cross the $300 million mark domestically. Globally, the tentpole has crossed $600 million to finish Sunday with a total $611.5 million.
And the late James Gandolfini’s final film, The Drop, placed a strong No. 6 with $4.2 million from only 809 theaters.
Heading into the weekend, tracking services were divided as to No Good Deed's potential, although more bullish observers had it clearing $20 million. The movie benefited from being the only new title in the market targeting black audiences and cost a modest $13 million to make (that doesn't include marketing costs). No Good Deed earned a B+ CinemaScore.
Still, the slide at the North American box office continued. Revenue was once again down from a year ago,  when Insidious: Chapter 2topped the chart with $40.3 million. Last weekend, revenue topped out at $64.7 million, the worst showing since just after 9/11, while year-to-date revenue is down 5.6 percent.
Packer, the force behind the Think Like a Man series, Ride Along andObsessed, produced No Good Deed along with Lee Clay. Elba also starred in Screen Gems’ Obsessed, which debuted to $28.8 million, while Henson is a lead in Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man franchise.
Directed by Sam Miller (Luther), No Good Deed stars Henson as a district attorney turned stay-at-home mom living an ideal life in the suburbs until a charming convict (Elba) shows up at her door. Kate del Castillo and Henry Simmons costar.
Dolphin Tale cost roughly $36 million to produce. Both the original and the sequel center around Winter, the real-life dolphin rescued by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, and her two young human friends, played by Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff (the actual Winter stars in both films).
This time out, the trio befriend a baby dolphin, Hope. The film also tells the story of Mandy, a rehabilitated dolphin released back into the wild. Charles Martin Smith returned to direct Dolphin Tale 2, reuniting with stars Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson. Newcomers include Lee Karlinsky, Julia Jordan and surfer Bethany Hamilton, playing herself.

Tom Cruise Reunites with Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames in Just-Started 'Mission: Impossible 5'

Ethan Hunt has chosen to accept a new mission. Tom Cruise, who plays the resourceful secret agent in the Mission: Impossiblefranchise, reunited with co-stars Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames this week, as shooting began on Mission: Impossible 5.Director Christopher McQuarrie tweeted the above photo on Thursday, with the caption “The team is back” and the hashtag #MI5diary. Renner also posted a group photo – taken at the same time, it seems, from a slightly different angle – on his Facebook page, writing “Big day on MI5. The BOYS ARE BACK!!!”
Yes, the boys are back, including Rhames as rogue hacker Luther Stickell (who has only the briefest of cameo’s in 2011’s Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol), Pegg as gadget expert Benji Dunn, and Renner as up-and-coming agent William Brandt. But those who recall the ending of Protocol will notice that someone is missing from this boys’ club: Paula Patton, whose character, Jane Carter, was recruited to join Hunt’s team. Patton has not confirmed that she’ll return as Carter in the new film. Rebecca Ferguson is said to be playing the lead female role (that was originally offered to Jessica Chastain). Alec Baldwin will co-star as the head of the CIA.
When Ghost Protocol (above) opened in 2011, there were rumors that Jeremy Renner was being groomed to take Tom Cruise’s place asMission: Impossible’s leading man. Given the state of Cruise’s career, that seems unlikely to happen in the fifth installment. After the box office disappointment of Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise may be relying on the popular Ethan Hunt role to reinvigorate his star power. It worked three years ago: Coming off the poorly-received films Valkyrie andKnight and Day, Cruise turned Ghost Protocol into the highest-grossing Mission: Impossible film worldwide. Eighteen years – yes, 18 years! – after the first Mission: Impossible movie, it remains one of Hollywood’s most lucrative franchises.
Even if his career is in flux, Cruise has an ardent supporter in director McQuarrie. Not only did McQuarrie direct Cruise in 2012’s Jack Reacher, but he wrote the screenplays for Valkyrie and Edge of Tomorrow; did an uncredited rewrite on the fourth Mission: Impossiblefilm; and worked on the script for the upcoming Top Gun sequel. When asked “How cool is Tom Cruise?” during a recent Twitter Q&A, McQuarrie replied, “As with all things, he excels at it.”
Judging from recent set photos, Cruise will once again get to showcase those many skills. A few weeks ago, the 52-year-old actor was seen dangling from the roof of Austria’s Vienna Opera House, recalling that breathtaking stunt in Ghost Protocol (below) where heclung to the side of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
 McQuarrie, who is currently shooting in Morocco, seems both nervous and excited about the film’s progress. When a Twitter follower asked him, “what it’s like working on a Mission: Impossible film?,” the director responded, “I’m the luckiest drowning man alive.”

Prophet T.B Joshua links guesthouse collapse to aircraft

Prophet T.B Joshua, one of Nigeria’s  preachers, has linked a small plane circling over a church guesthouse in Lagos to its subsequent collapse.

At least 40 people died when the two-storey guesthouse for members of the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed on Friday.

There is no official comment. Local officials have said additional floors were being added to the structure.

The popular televangelist says a small plane had circled over the building four times before it collapsed on Friday afternoon and it may have been an attempt to kill him.

“It was yesterday, Friday, as I was praying; they came to call me that there was an airplane hovering over the church. They said it is like it wanted to land,” his statement said.

He said about 30 minutes later, it came over the building several times.

“About five minutes after, the building came down.”

He gave journalists a CCTV video clip of the alleged plane, urging them “to use their discretion to write on what they saw”.

Rescue officials say 130 people were pulled out of the rubble – some are being treated in local hospitals. Many foreigners are believed to have been there at the time.

Mr Joshua’s services, at a mega-church in Lagos’s Ikotun district, are known for attracting thousands of people.

Followers in Nigeria and abroad believe he has the gifts of healing and prophecy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

ISIS executes British aid worker David Haines; Cameron vows justice

British aid worker David Haines has been executed by ISIS militants, according to a video posted Saturday to a website associated with the group, making him the third Western captive to be killed by the Islamist extremist group in recent weeks.

The ISIS video post showing Haines' beheading called his execution "a message to the allies of America."

It is produced very similarly to the videos that showed the executions of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, the last of which included Haines and the threat that he'd be killed next.

The new video pictures a masked ISIS militant placing his hand on another captive, whom he identified as Alan Henning, a British citizen.

In a tweet, British Prime Minister David Cameron called "the murder of David Haines" an "act of pure evil."

Cameron added, "We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes."

Haines offers brief scripted comments on the video, as does the man who kills him.

Directing his remarks at Britain, the executioner -- who sounds like the man who killed Foley and Sotloff -- says, "Your evil alliance with America, which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha dam, will only accelerate your destruction and claim the role of the obedient lap dog.

"Cameron will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war."

Retired Lt. Col. Rick Francona -- an Air Force veteran intelligence officer and CNN military analyst -- surmised that if ISIS planned to dissuade Britain for teaming up with the United States, the group will be disappointed.

"ISIS has just guaranteed British cooperation with the American on all phases of what we're going to be doing," Francona said. "... I think this is now a Western fight; it's not just a U.S. fight."

Haines' family just sent public message to his captors

News of the gruesome killing came the same day that Haines' family released a brief message to his captors through the British Foreign Office.

In it, the family says, "We have sent messages to you to which we have not received a reply. We are asking those holding David to make contact with us."

A logistics and security manager for the Paris-based Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, a nongovernmental humanitarian agency, the 44-year-old Haines was abducted in March 2013 near a refugee camp in Atmeh, Syria.

At that time, Haines was working to arrange for the delivery of humanitarian aid to people staying at the camp. He had previously worked on aid operations for victims of conflict in the Balkans, African and other parts of the Middle East, according to an ACTED spokesman.

Haines' face became known to the world in the ISIS video, released September 2, in which he looks forward and kneels as a masked ISIS militant stands behind him.

The militant says in that video, "We take this opportunity to warn those governments who've entered this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone."

British officials said after the video's release that they had sent troops to try to rescue an unidentified British citizen "some time ago," but failed. They released no other details.

ISIS, which also calls itself the Islamic State, has killed thousands in Syria and Iraq as it presses a military campaign to establish itself as an Islamic caliphate. Witnesses report mass killings, beheadings and crucifixions.

The United States has been using airstrikes to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling ISIS, and is working to build a coalition to broaden the effort against ISIS. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Egypt Saturday seeking that country's help in the fight.

John Kerry seeks Egypt's support for mission to build coalition against ISIS

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Want to Know: Would YOU Wear an Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch is the most ballyhooed tech object in recent memory. But whatever magical functionality it may possess as a health monitor, messaging device, and so on, it’s also, you know, a watch.

And the watch business is no trivial thing. Particularly when you’re talking about the $350+ price range that the Apple Watch will join, you’re talking about consumers who take their wearable timepieces very seriously.

That crowd seemed skeptical of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. So a long post on the timepiece-centric aBlogToWatch caught our eye. The provocative title: How Screwed Is The Watch Industry Thanks To The Apple Watch?

“Not only are there many, many people with empty wrists who love new tech,” reads a key passage, “but there are people with basic timepieces who would be happy to replace them with an Apple Watch.”

The writeup is loaded with caveats. But given that we’re talking about an object whose specifics we know about almost entirely through Apple’s promotional claims, it’s still a bold statement!

And it raises a question for all you wearers of actual watches: How open are you to ditching your own stylish, or even bare-bones-practical, timepiece for a high-tech Apple superwatch?

Russian Hackers Release 5 Million Gmail Usernames and Passwords Online

It’s good news/bad news time. The bad news is that someone got his or her hands on nearly 5 million Gmail addresses and corresponding passwords and made them all public. The good news is that even if your Gmail address is on the list, the password may be too old to merit much concern.

The Russian tech blog Habrahabr theorizes that the leaked Gmail addresses and passwords were most likely compiled through phishing scams, use of weak passwords and other common compromises, not as a result of a hacked Google server. Similar databases of email addresses and passwords from Yandex and, two popular Russian-language services, were made public earlier this week.

You can use a site called, appropriately enough, “Is my email leaked?” if you’d like to check the status of your Gmail, Yandex, or account. The site itself is safe, and you can even give a shortened version of your email address with asterisks if you’re concerned.

Earlier today (Sept. 10), Australian security researcher Troy Hunt tweeted that he’d soon be adding the Gmail addresses to his own compromised-email checking website, which aggregates the results of large password dumps.

Based on an informal poll of the Tom’s Guide New York office, not that many people seem to be affected by this data dump. This makes sense when you consider that Gmail has more than 500 million users and the password breach affects fewer than 1 percent of them.

Even if you’re one of the 5 million affected, you may not have to worry. Many of the passwords on the list are outdated, tweeted Peter Kruse of Danish security firm CSIS — some by as long as three years. If you change your password on even a semi-regular basis (as Gmail recommends), cybercriminals most likely have no way to access your account or personal information.

If your account has been compromised (or even if it hasn’t, and you want to be safe), change your Gmail password to something totally different, and consider adding two-step verification to your account. Otherwise, just remember that password breaches are relatively common but also tend to get overblown in mainstream-media,

Colorado woman latest American to admit attempt to join Islamist militants

A 19-year-old Colorado woman became the latest American to admit to attempting to join a Middle East terrorist group, pleading guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to provide support to the Islamic State militants in Syria.

The FBI first noticed Shannon Conley when she showed up last fall at a church in Arvada, Colorado, wearing Muslim garb.

George Morrison, the church's pastor, told the Denver Post that while he believed Conley was a "terrorist wannabe," he "had to take her sketching of interior rooms of the church seriously." (Conley reportedly told investigators, “If they think I’m a terrorist, I’ll give them something to think I am.”)

Conley, a certified nurse's aide, received military training in a camp run by the U.S. Army Explorers, the paper reported.

In April, Conley was arrested at Denver International Airport with a one-way ticket to Turkey. According to prosecutors, she had previously told investigators she wanted to wage jihad in the Middle East, and ignored repeated face-to-face warnings by the FBI that her plans were illegal. Conley faces up to 5 years in federal prison.

She is one of what federal authorities say is an alarming number of Americans offering to join or support terrorist organizations.

On Tuesday, a Long Island man pleaded guilty to attempting to join al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP or Ansar al-Sharia, after admitting he attempted to travel from New York to Yemen in 2012 to support the terrorist group.

According to prosecutors, Marcos Alonso Zea, a 26-year-old from Brentwood, New York, boarded a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 4, 2012, and was en route to Yemen when he was stopped in London and returned to the United States. Upon returning, he "went to work recruiting others to go in his stead," FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said on Tuesday. One of those recruits, 18-year-old Justin Kaliebe from Bay Shore, New York, was arrested by federal counterterrorism agents at JFK a year later on suspicion of attempting to wage violent jihad. Kaliebe was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Zea faces up to 25 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Last month, a former North Carolina police officer who says he tried to join the Islamic State militant group in Syria was arrested upon his return to New York. Don Morgan, a 44-year-old Catholic-born North Carolina native, told NBC News he tried to enter Syria through Turkey but was turned away at the airport in Istanbul.

“My reason for the support of [IS] is because they’ve proven time and time again to put Islamic law as the priority and the establishment of an Islamic state as the goal,” Morgan said in an interview from Beirut, Lebanon, before returning to the United States on Aug. 2, when he was arrested on a weapons charge. At a court hearing in Brooklyn on Aug. 4, the FBI said it was aware of Morgan's support for IS, but the arrest was for his attempt as a convicted felon to sell a rifle online — and unrelated to terrorism. After being transferred back to Greensboro, North Carolina, Morgan pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

In June, Michael Todd Wolfe, a 23-year-old from Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to attempting join IS in Syria. Wolfe was arrested at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, while awaiting a flight to Denmark. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

The same month, Rahatul Ashikim Khan, a 23-year-old from Round Rock, Texas, was arrested and charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. According to authorities, in 2011 and 2012 Khan "conspired with others to recruit persons to travel overseas to support terrorist activities including committing violent jihad."

FBI Director James Comey has said the bureau doesn't know how many Americans have tried to join Islamist fighters in Syria. In August, Comey said he's aware of at least 100.

"When I give you the number of more than 100, I can't tell you with high confidence that's a hundred of 200, that's a hundred of 500, that's a hundred of a 1,000 or more, because it's so hard to track," Comey said.