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Small improvement for F1 champ Schumacher after new surgery

Written By kom nampuldu on Selasa, 31 Desember 2013 | 18.18

Doctors treating Michael Schumacher say the Formula 1 champion was showing surprising improvement that allowed a second surgery for head injuries he suffered during a ski accident, but cautioned that his brain still had extensive bruising.

Schumacher was skiing with his son when he fell and struck a rock Sunday in the French Alps.

"There are hematomes a little bit everywhere," said Dr. Emmanual Gay, describing the extensive bruising throughout Schumacher's brain. But Gay said surgeons decided upon a second operation after Schumacher's unexpected, though small, improvement on Monday.

They offered no predictions on whether or when they would bring him out of an induced coma, intended to relieve swelling.

"We cannot tell you any more on the future," said Gerard Saillant, a surgeon and friend of the family.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Bloomberg makes last-minute campaign finance appointment

Mayor Bloomberg made a last-minute appointment for chair of the city's Campaign Finance Board Monday, naming current Department of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn to head the agency.

He announced the appointment for the fixed five-year term as Bill de Blasio prepared to take the oath of office.

"The mayor-elect looks forward to working with Rose Gill Hearn," said Phil Walzak, a spokesman for de Blasio's transition team.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Ethics board slams ‘harass’ pol Micah Kellner

Ethics board slams 'harass' pol Micah Kellner | New York Post
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By Joe Tacopino

December 31, 2013 | 5:06am

Embattled Assemblyman Micah Kellner was blasted by the ethics committee Monday for allegedly harassing female staffers.

Kellner was admonished, stripped of committee chairmanships and barred from hiring interns after allegedly sending sexually suggestive e-mails to a female staffer.

His seat as chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries has been stripped away.

Kellner has apologized for sending the e-mails

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18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Bill de Blasio touts Speaker candidate Mark-Viverito

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio took his preference for Council Speaker public for the first time Monday — appearing at a "rah rah" luncheon with at least 60 backers of his close ally Melissa Mark-Viverito, sources said.

The mayor-elect arrived at City Hall restaurant in Lower Manhattan after naming Carmen Farina the new schools chancellor. He spoke about "making history" by selecting the first Latina speaker, according to a source.

The shindig featured dozens of council members, union representatives and religious leaders who support Mark-Viverito, a liberal pol who represents East Harlem and a part of the The Bronx.

Another source said de Blasio talked about the pending Jan. 8 vote as being "our moment." He cautioned the council members not to cave in to pressure to change their allegiance to a rival candidate, Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick.

Spokesman Phil Walzak would not say whether de Blasio's appearance at the event constituted an endorsement.

"Mayor-elect de Blasio stopped by today's gathering to discuss a new progressive direction for New York City," he said.

Earlier this month, Mark-Viverito unofficially declared victory in the race for the post after securing the backing of 30 of the 51 council members.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Nets’ Kirilenko nearing long-awaited return

SAN ANTONIO — Once again, Andrei Kirilenko appears to be close to returning to the court.

After sitting out 25 of the Nets' 30 games so far this season — including the last 24 — and having multiple setbacks in his recovery from back spasms, Kirilenko could finally take the floor Tuesday for the Nets when they face the Spurs to end a forgettable opening two months of the campaign.

"This is what I was waiting for, a normal practice where I could play five-on-five with no limitations," Kirilenko said after participating fully in Monday's practice at AT&T Center, the Spurs' arena. "Right now at this point my status is day-to-day, so every day I'm getting better.

"I'm planning for [playing Tuesday], but we'll see how it feels in the morning. Usually when I've had a good practice, the morning is the main thing — how are you going to feel the next day? I don't want to play in a game and then I miss three games."

Nets coach Jason Kidd was tempered in his expectations — understandable, given Kirilenko hasn't played since Nov. 8 in Washington before his back tightened up on him.

"He looked good," Kidd said. "We'll see how he feels [Tuesday]."

Should Kirilenko see action Tuesday, he said he would be on a minutes restriction.

"If I play, I will definitely do what's supposed to be done," he said. "I'm pretty sure, 100 percent sure, that I'm not going to play much, and definitely it's going to be monitored, so if I feel something wrong I'm going to be subbed and come out of the game.

"But I need to get into that game rhythm, because otherwise I'm not feeling it."

Kirilenko has gotten close to playing multiple times — including waking up the morning of Nov. 24 before the Nets played the Pistons in Brooklyn expecting to play, only to have a setback during pregame workouts.

"We did a lot of treatment, a lot of core stuff … we tried everything," he said, shaking his head. "I guess it's just at some point the durability gets you to a point where you just have to work a little bit more.

"You have to prepare a little bit longer, so I don't really know. Maybe in the offseason I will try to research it a little bit more, but right now this is the only way I can get back on track."

Like the Nets as a whole, Kirilenko's season has been a massive disappointment. The 6-foot-10 forward was expected to be a major contributor after agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.2 million with a player option for a second.

Kirilenko opted out of a $10 million contract with the Timberwolves before this season, which led to the NBA investigating the possibility of a backroom deal between Kirilenko and the Nets, given his ties to Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The investigation turned up nothing, however.

"Definitely this season hasn't been what I expected, result-wise and physical condition-wise," Kirilenko said. "Again, it's only 30 games. We still have a lot of games to play, and we can't give
up right now, we can't stop right now. We have to keep getting better, keep getting healthy.

"I've never been a guy to give up halfway in a fight. We have tough times right now, but we're going to keep fighting."

The Nets will be hoping Kirilenko is able to take the court and fight with them starting Tuesday night.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

NYC to track traffic deaths on Web site

Written By kom nampuldu on Senin, 30 Desember 2013 | 20.49

A new Web site will list everyone who dies in a traffic accident in New York City.

It will be divided into four categories: vehicle drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to eliminate all traffic deaths in 10 years. The Web site, run by the advocacy group Right of Way, will show if the mayor is on track in meeting his goal.

The latest traffic fatality took place Sunday night in Brooklyn when a 31-year-old woman crossing McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint was struck and killed by a car. The driver remained on the scene.


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Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries, bugs machines

LONDON — A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft's internal reporting system to spy on their targets.

Der Spiegel's revelations relate to a division of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, which is painted as an elite team of hackers specializing in stealing data from the toughest of targets.

Citing internal NSA documents, the magazine said Sunday that TAO's mission was "Getting the ungettable," and quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying that TAO had gathered "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen."

Der Spiegel said TAO had a catalog of high-tech gadgets for particularly hard-to-crack cases, including computer monitor cables specially modified to record what is being typed across the screen, USB sticks secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals on the go.

The NSA doesn't just rely on James Bond-style spy gear, the magazine said. Some of the attacks described by Der Spiegel exploit weaknesses in the architecture of the Internet to deliver malicious software to specific computers. Others take advantage of weaknesses in hardware or software distributed by some of the world's leading information technology companies, including Cisco Systems, Inc. and China's Huawei Technologies Ltd., the magazine reported.

Der Spiegel cited a 2008 mail order catalog-style list of vulnerabilities that NSA spies could exploit from companies such as Irvine, California-based Western Digital Corp. or Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc. The magazine said that suggested the agency was "compromising the technology and products of American companies."

Old-fashioned methods get a mention too. Der Spiegel said that if the NSA tracked a target ordering a new computer or other electronic accessories, TAO could tap its allies in the FBI and the CIA, intercept the hardware in transit, and take it to a secret workshop where it could be discretely fitted with espionage software before being sent on its way.

Intercepting computer equipment in such a way is among the NSA's "most productive operations," and has helped harvest intelligence from around the world, one document cited by Der Spiegel stated.

One of the most striking reported revelations concerned the NSA's alleged ability to spy on Microsoft Corp.'s crash reports, familiar to many users of the Windows operating system as the dialogue box which pops up when a game freezes or a Word document dies. The reporting system is intended to help Microsoft engineers improve their products and fix bugs, but Der Spiegel said the NSA was also sifting through the reports to help spies break into machines running Windows. One NSA document cited by the magazine appeared to poke fun at Microsoft's expense, replacing the software giant's standard error report message with the words: "This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint (signals intelligence) system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine."

Microsoft said that information sent by customers about technical issues in such a manner is limited.

"Microsoft does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customer's data," a company representative said in an email Sunday. "We would have significant concerns if the allegations about government actions are true."

Microsoft is one of several U.S. firms that have demanded more transparency from the NSA — and worked to bolster their security — in the wake of the revelations of former intelligence worker Edward Snowden, whose disclosures have ignited an international debate over privacy and surveillance.

Der Spiegel did not explicitly say where its cache NSA documents had come from, although the magazine has previously published a series of stories based on documents leaked by Snowden, and one of Snowden's key contacts — American documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras — was listed among the article's six authors.

No one was immediately available at Der Spiegel to clarify whether Snowden was the source for the latest story.

Another company mentioned by Der Spiegel, though not directly linked with any NSA activity, was Juniper Networks Inc., a computer network equipment maker in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"Juniper Networks recently became aware of, and is currently investigating, alleged security compromises of technology products made by a number of companies, including Juniper," the company said in an email. "We take allegations of this nature very seriously and are working actively to address any possible exploit paths."

If necessary, Juniper said, it would, "work closely with customers to ensure they take any mitigation steps."


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Jets Blitz: Bilal the hero of the day

HERO

Jets running back Bilal Powell rushed for 76 yards and completed a 30-yard pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland in the fourth quarter. But his best play of all was one he made without touching the ball. On Geno Smith's TD run, Powell made a big block on Miami DE Cameron Wake to spring Smith and then he turned around and pushed Smith into the end zone.

UNSUNG HERO

Jets quarterback Geno Smith did not put up spectacular numbers — 17-of-27 for 190 yards — but he did the most important thing of all: He didn't turn the ball over. He also rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries and gave the Jets a 14-7 lead with his 7-yard TD run.

ZERO

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was outplayed by Smith, completing only 20-of-40 for 204 yards with one TD, and three INTs. He was often inaccurate with his passes despite getting good protection from his offensive line and could not muster any consistent offense.

KEY STAT

3 Wins in the final four games for the Jets to finish the season at 8-8.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Every man in here will run through a wall for Rex.''

— Jets running back Bilal Powell


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Giants Blitz: WR Jernigan steals show

HERO

Third-year wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan made the most of his opportunity, catching six passes for a career-high 90 yards, hauling in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning and going 49 yards for a score on an end-around, the first two-touchdown performance of his career. With Rueben Randle (knee) and Hakeem Nicks (ankle) going down in the first half with injuries, Jernigan used the otherwise meaningless regular-season finale as a personal showcase.

UNSUNG HERO

If this was Justin Tuck's final game as a Giant, he went out with a bang. Tuck had two sacks — his 10th and 11th of the season, the third most of his nine-year career — forced a fumble and added four tackles, putting a bow on his best season in years.

ZERO

Teams considering using a high draft pick to land Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason should take another look at the film of this game. Cousins couldn't throw the ball in the ocean, missing open receivers the entire afternoon and completing just 19-of-49 passes for a paltry 169 yards and two interceptions. He compiled a quarterback rating of a whopping 31.8 and also lost a fumble.

STAT: 27

Eli Manning's NFL-high interceptions, the most in his 10-year career, beating the 25 he threw in 2010.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Well, we could have folded. We could have just said 'hey, we're out of it,' but we didn't. Guys showed a lot of character and pride, individually and collectively as a team. … Those are the type of guys you want in your locker room."

— Giants linebacker Jon Beason


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Celebrate New Year’s at Applebees — for $375 per person

The pitch:

Sure, you may think of Applebee's as an affordable casual-dining chain, famed for its whiskey-flavored steaks and two-for-$20 dinner specials (and also for its memorable part in the Will Ferrell pic, "Talladega Nights"). But once a year, Applebee's goes high-end. The chain's franchise-owned restaurant in the heart of New York's Times Square offers a $375-a-person New Year's Eve bash that's billed as "a night to remember." (Those under 12 can get in for $250.)

But this isn't your standard Applebee's bill of fare, the franchisee notes. The party, which starts at 8 p.m. and wraps up at midnight, features an extensive buffet, a "premium" open bar, a house DJ, a dance floor, plus party favors galore. And for those eager to see the ball drop, the restaurant lets patrons "make their way to the streets of Times Square." As for the vittles themselves, be prepared for "a ton of food" (steak and shrimp included) prepared by "some fairly sophisticated culinary people," says Zane Tankel, who heads up all 38 Applebee's restaurants in the New York metro area. Add in the décor and "you wouldn't know you were at an Applebee's for that one night," Tankel says.

The reality:

Sure, you can spend $375 on an Applebee's meal and be close to the center of the New Year's Eve action. But you can also spend nothing and accomplish the same thing. That's because there's no admission to the Times Square festivities. "It is totally free," says Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.

Even more to the point:

Buying a ticket to the Applebee's bash—or to many other ticketed events in Times Square that night—may not even guarantee you a view of the ball drop. As Tompkins explains, when it gets close to midnight, patrons who leave restaurants or other party spaces in the prime viewing area may be directed to move elsewhere by members of the New York Police Department (NYPD), who are mindful of maintaining order and paying heed to revelers who showed up earlier in the day. "Security is much more tightly controlled and there are so many people," says Tompkins of the event, which has attracted up to 1 million attendees in recent years. Even on the Applebee's website there's a warning that viewing of the ball drop is "subject to NYPD approval."

That said, the $375 Applebee's bash may not be as expensive or as outrageous as it seems. For starters, almost all Times Square restaurants and hotels have high-priced party packages, be they at a TGI Friday's (starting at $225) or at the Andaz 5th Avenue (for $14,000, but it includes a two-night stay at the hotel, plus meals and spa treatments). And while seeing the ball drop for free may be tempting, it comes with a "price" in a different sense: The Times Square Alliance notes that the prime viewing areas fill up by afternoon, which means patrons will have to wait in the cold for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. ("Wear your long johns," advises Tompkins of the Times Square Alliance.) On top of that, there are no public restrooms in the area that are open during the festivities.

Of course, if $375 is way too much, Zane Tankel of Applebee's has another thought: You can visit almost any of the chain's other New York locations that night, which feature the standard Applebee's menu (Tankel says the average check runs slightly above $20). Plus, the restaurants offer a free Champagne toast and a chance to see the ball drop—in a manner of speaking. "We have large-screen TVs" tuned to the event, Tankel notes.

This article originally appeared on MarketWatch.com.


20.49 | 0 komentar | Read More

Jerry Seinfeld on ‘Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee’

There's a good reason that Jerry Seinfeld's Web series, "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee," has the loosey-goosey feel of an unscripted, fly-on-the-wall conversation.

"It's 100 percent improvised. No scripts. No writing of any kind," Seinfeld told The Post. "I don't prepare for the interviews. It's more what I want to know about this person.

"To put it in talk-show terms, it's the conversation that happens outside of the plugging of the new project."

In the series, which kicks off its third, six-episode season Jan. 2 on streaming service Crackle, Seinfeld — driving a classic vintage car (Mercedes, Cadillac, Volkswagen, etc.) — retrieves a fellow comedian from their residence.

(Past guests have included Don Rickles, Larry David, Sarah Silverman, Bob Einstein, Ricky Gervais and David Letterman.)

On his way over, he calls his guest to make sure they're ready to go. And, yes, he says that part is staged.

"The only thing that's consistent is the phone call, which is, of course, fake," Seinfeld says. "That's just having a little fun with the format."

Once Seinfeld's guest gets into the car, the pair drive around discussing nothing in particular — small interior cameras record their conversation — and then stop for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, continuing their talk with the cameras rolling.

"We can talk about something and maybe it leads to an interesting conversation and maybe it doesn't, but I have the luxury, because of this medium, to not include things that just didn't seem that entertaining," Seinfeld says. "The viewer gets a very distilled experience of that two hours I was with that guest — which, for the most part, is entertaining."

Seinfeld says he never envisioned "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" as a network TV show. "I really conceived of it as what would be a fun show to watch on a phone, so I never really thought of it for TV," he says. "I do like the freedom of the Internet — we can shoot for any length of time we want — and I have absolute, 100 percent freedom, which is very exciting for me.

"We're creating a new audience in a new medium with a new idea, and all of that together has made it fun for me."

Seinfeld says he chooses the cars in which he tools around.

"I try to pick a car that reminds me of that guest in some way," he says. "We then go online or call car clubs. I really look for cars that are fun to photograph.

"I want the show to have a strong visual element, like bright colors or interesting shapes or a car that makes loud noises."

Seinfeld's Season 3 "Comedians In Cars" guests will be A-list comics Louis CK, Howard Stern, Tina Fey, Jay Leno, Patton Oswalt and Todd Barry.

But he says he isn't considering taking the show — which has received many critical accolades — to mainstream TV.

"I let those conversations take place with the people with the nice suits and tasteful ties," he says. "I just enjoy making the shows and I really enjoy the interaction with fans on Twitter instead of reading reviews.

"When we did the series ['Seinfeld'] in the '90s, we read the reviews in newspapers and magazines, which was all we really knew, the only feedback we got.

"Now, we can talk directly to the fans. I really feel like I'm in the middle of this developing [technological] mushroom cloud of screen entertainment which nobody is quite sure how it will evolve," he says.

"I doesn't seem like it will be too long before all screens will be equal — in which case I've got my own little place in it."


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Spoiler alert: Rules for discussing plot twists, finales

To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question.

It's a given that people no longer watch television shows when they are actually on. They watch them the day after, a week later, two weeks later — even if it's a season finale, series finale, series premiere or any other key moment in the arc of a show's narrative.

Those viewers who catch those must-see episodes — like journalists who cover TV for a living — often find themselves in an awkward position. We have to file reviews and gauge reaction on various social media sites — but we are not supposed to talk about what we saw in the company of colleagues, family members or even strangers.

Mention anything about the finales of "Homeland," "Game of Thrones," "The Walking Dead," "Breaking Bad," "Scandal" or even "Downton Abbey," and someone always shouts from behind an office cubicle, another room in the apartment or even across a neighborhood bar "Don't tell me! I haven't seen it yet."

Well, why not? If the climactic episode of TV show is scheduled for the third Friday night in November, and the show's fans have been eagerly discussing exciting plot points all season, are they really supposed to keep quiet about it for days, a week or even longer while cultural laggards get on the same page?

We say no. It's time for some spoiler etiquette. Here are some guidelines.

Season or series finales. If the show goes out with a bang — which has been true for the dramas mentioned above — people should be expected to wait no longer than 24 hours to talk about it. I know, it seems strict, but there is no other choice. Besides, everyone has already tweeted about the death of Matthew Crawley or the latest evisceration on "The Walking Dead" by the time you board your local subway in the morning so video procrastinators need to get up to speed. Or be left out of the conversation entirely.

After the first 24 hours, though, the viewers in the know should still avoid mentioning any critical deaths/murders, catastrophes or revelations of mistaken identity in the finales for one more day. This restraint gives even the laziest TV watcher time to catch up via DVR, computer or smart phone.

Plot-twisting episodes. On network shows like "Scandal," these seem to occur every week, so the more you miss, the lonelier you will feel. But even on a grand, pivotal episode such as The Red Wedding on premium cable's "Game of Thrones," those who missed out could never experience its impact in the same way as viewers who saw the carnage as it happened. The time limit here is 36 to 48 hours. If you're still playing catch up, you're pathetic. Your friends and loved ones are already talking about the next episode of "The Good Wife" or "Mad Men."

Live episodes. Only life's true losers will come up to you after the winners of live TV talent contests ("American Idol," "The Voice," "The X Factor") and say, "Don't tell me who won." They don't understand the live nature of these programs is the event, designed to get everyone talking, complaining, and debating, as they did during NBC's recent live "Sound of Music" broadcast.

If they miss the Oscars or Grammys and don't want you to tell them what happened for three days, you just have to stop talking to them.


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

The most entertaining workplace books of 2013

Say what? They didn't have a class in career management where you went to school? Fear not. Here's a look back at the year's most entertaining workplace books that also have something worthwhile to say.

For the too-nice nine-to-fiver

"Give And Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Manage Success" by Adam Grant

Take the idea that nice guys finish last and throw it out the door. It's simply not true, says researcher and Carnegie Mellon University professor Grant. Winning and losing in today's world of work is largely defined by how we interact with others: There are givers, there are takers and there are the matchers (those who give as much as they get). Who wins the most often? Surprisingly, those who give without expecting to get anything in return.

It seems that neither screwing your co-worker nor "tit for tat" is the best strategy for getting ahead. Instead, there's a new golden rule in business: If you invest in the success of others, you invest in your own success. Take that to the water cooler.

Penguin Group, $27.95

For sales-obsessed stiffs

"To Sell is Human" by Daniel Pink

Whether you know it or not, you're in sales — never mind what your business card says. Think about how you spend your time — pitching ideas to your boss, cajoling co-workers into using your idea, negotiating with a date about what to do on Friday night.

"To Sell is Human" equips non-sales professionals with the tools they need to be persuasive. They go far beyond the slick elevator pitches and "takeaway" closes of yesteryear and to a place where selling is a service.

Pink says that, in this day and age, a sales "win" leaves a customer better off, and the world a better place, as a result of your interaction. There's nothing sleazy about that.

Penguin, $26.95

For social media mavens 

"Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World" by Gary Vaynerchuk

If there's a king of social media, it's Vaynerchuk. The relentless e-connector says effective communication is not about the medium; rather, it's about content, context and catching customers at exactly the moment they're ready to buy. And that's not going to happen by shouting into the abyss over social media — instead, it's about the relationships you create by consistently sharing micro-stories. You can do this by composing your own posts, curating what others have tweeted or pinned, or simply by being funny.

Look around you — this is what almost every successful marketer and relevant celebrity does.

HarperCollins, $29.99

For women of the world

"Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg

Forget about holding back at work, ladies — Facebook COO Sandberg says you need to go full throttle.

That means, for example, not going on maternity leave mentally, waiting until you're actually on hiatus — otherwise, it could cost you career progress. And that doesn't mean you should do everything; instead, focus on what matters and do only that.

These are just a few of the many suggestions — some of which ring unconventional — that Sandberg offers in her tome aimed at career-oriented women. The rest of the book is a bit of a feminist manifesto geared toward motivating ladies to create a world of work in which getting ahead, thankfully, doesn't mean checking your skirt at the door.

Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95

For branding worker bees

"Branding Pays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand" by Karen Kang

Everyone has a personal brand — it's what people think of when they think about you. But your brand can be created by others — or it can be created by you. If you choose the latter, "Branding Pays" is your roadmap.

Kang is a master of the medium, and she takes the branding strategy that some of the world's best-known companies use and breaks it down into an easy, five-step process for individuals and entrepreneurs.

For example, using a cake as a metaphor, she writes that your personal brand is composed of your substance (the cake) and your personality (the icing). Both matter: The average worker changes jobs or careers 10 times over a lifetime, so it's crucial to be skilled in developing a brand and putting it forward.

BrandingPays Media, $24.95

For the wired workhorse

"Remote: Office Not Required" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

The idea that the office is the best place to get work done is a misnomer. Consider the time and energy wasted in commuting and sticking to schedules that constrain rather than inspire creativity. Then there are all the distractions: "The modern office is an interruption factory," say authors Fried and Heinemeier. But working from home does take some adjustment — checking e-mail from bed and working through lunch, for example.

"Remote" offers tips for both workers and their employers on how to make remote jobs work so everybody wins.

Crown Publishing, $23

For Twitter-loving toilers

"Hatching Twitter" by Nick Bilton

We hear all kinds of things about working at startups: the catered meals, the foosball tables and more. What we don't hear is that dot-com founders often have competing interests.

Consider that Twitter-made billionaire Jack Dorsey took fashion classes during the company's early days and that the company's founders made some of their decisions — and, on occasion, became inspired — while blitzed out of their minds on Red Bull and vodka. These are the kinds of details woven throughout Bilton's "Hatching Twitter" in between the story of the company's ultimate success.

The result is as good as, if not better than, most best-selling fiction.

Penguin USA, $28.95


18.18 | 0 komentar | Read More

Brooklyn man shot for 2nd time this year

Brooklyn man shot for 2nd time this year | New York Post
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By Larry Celona

December 30, 2013 | 6:06am

A Brooklyn man was shot on Sunday for the second time this year.

Richard Dunbar, 53, was struck in the back when a gunman opened fire at 4:00 p.m. on Bergen Street in Crown Heights. He was listed in stable condition.

In July, Dunbar was shot in the arm on Fulton Street, not far away.

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Cabbies worried about de Blasio reversing TLC gains

City cabdrivers are ready to battle Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who raked in thousands in campaign donations from an exploitative taxi honcho — causing concern among hacks that he will unravel all of the progress they've made under the current Taxi & Limousine Commission.

"We are preparing ourselves to go to war," said veteran cabby Beresford Simmons, 60.

"I think he will be for the brokers and owners, not the drivers. He's gotten a lot of money from them."

Cabbies are considering boycotting New York City tourist areas to show just how important they are to the city's economy.

The de Blasio campaign took donations from crooked taxi-fleet boss Gene Freidman, who was slapped with a $1.2 million penalty by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the TLC for ripping off drivers.

Freidman bundled more than $50,000 in funds to the campaign, making him one of de Blasio's biggest donors.

His four companies own almost 900 medallions, which go for about $1.2 million a pop.

During the campaign, de Blasio said he would immediately fire current TLC Commissioner David Yassky — and Yassky is officially stepping down Tuesday.

"It's very bad news for the drivers," said Simmons. "
I've never seen a commissioner so responsive to the drivers."

Yassky was hailed by cabbies. In the four years he headed up the TLC, Yassky adjusted regulations so drivers could take home more money from their fares and cracked down on fleets cheating drivers.

"We've done a lot to make driving a taxi a better job," Yassky said during an exit interview with The Post.

"I do think it's a better job than four years ago."

He said the green outer-borough taxi program is a major part of his legacy, as is new technology like e-hail apps.

Yassky also doubled the number of TLC inspectors, who go after dangerous illegal cabs.

But Yassky said his four years "were not without flaws." He wished he had rolled out the outer-borough taxis sooner and was disappointed that a judge struck down the TLC's power to make the Taxi of Tomorrow the uniform car throughout the city.


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Flight attendant looking for the guy who will go the extra mile

Written By kom nampuldu on Minggu, 29 Desember 2013 | 20.49

Allison, 24

She spends most of her hours in the sky — but when she's off the clock, she'd like to find a man with his feet on the ground

Stay grounded: Because she works in aviation, Allison prefers to date a guy who doesn't.

On-time arrival: Because she's a flight attendant, Allison's biggest fear is being late to work.

Height requirements: When it comes to her type, Allison says it wouldn't hurt if they were tall and bilingual.

Dairy dame: Allison's favorite snacks are cheeses and artisanal yogurts.

To be continued . . . A good date night for Allison is one that leaves her wanting more.

Television junkie: Allison, whose favorite shows include "New Girl" and "Scandal," says, "There's nothing on television I cannot miss."

Allison gets to choose from these three guys. Who do you think she should date?

David, 24

Musician

DavidPhoto: Anne Wermiel

He is: a nice guy. "I have good morals and I'm a good person — the ladies dig it," says David.

He wants: a patient girl. "I don't like someone who gets attached too fast," David says.

Re-runs: "Boy Meets World" is one of David's favorite shows.

Home studio: He can record his music in his bedroom.
Favorite film: "Grease"

Rodent watch: If David sees a rat, he'll cross the street.

Puppy love: He's a dog lover.

Ryan, 23

Software developer

Photo: Tamara Beckwith

He is: a go-getter. "I make sure what I want to happen actually happens," says Ryan.

He wants: a healthy woman. "She doesn't have to be a hard-core athlete, just someone who values wellness," Ryan says.

Celebrity crush: Tina Fey

Favorite game: "Settlers of Catan"

Turn-off: cultural insensitivity

Hit the slopes: Skiing is one of Ryan's favorite activities.

Sound check: His pet peeve is people who play their music so loudly that he can hear it through their headphones.

Nijal, 23

Graphic Designer

NijalPhoto: Anne Wermiel

He is: quiet. "I'm assertive if I have to be, but I'm quite mellow and polite," says Nijal.

He wants: a low-maintenance lady. "I'd like someone who doesn't act like a princess," Nijal says.

Favorite cuisine: Caribbean

Celebrity twin: young Michael Jackson

Bar order: Guinness

Attention getter: Nijal has been told his eyes give him a certain charm.

Sports team: the New York Jets


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Reel good films to watch on TV this week

Zombieland (2009)
Sunday, 8 p.m., FXM
Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson (right) blast their way through a zombie-infested America in this 2009 comedy, which features an unforgettable Bill Murray cameo as well as Stone's breakout performance. The opening credit sequence alone, chronicling Eisenberg's character's rules for zombie-killing, is a thing of cartoonishly violent perfection.

Blazing Saddles (1974)
Monday, 9:45 a.m., IFC
Mel Brooks' Western spoof is a brutally funny send-up of small-town racism and a cautionary tale about the adverse effects of the bean-centric cowboy diet. Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little (left) star alongside Brooks and Madeline Kahn. Little plays Bart, the black sheriff who sends a dusty border settlement into a panic upon his arrival.

WALL-E (2008)
Tuesday, 10:45 p.m., Disney
It seems a stretch to call this darkly beautiful Pixar masterpiece a kids' movie, with its nearly dialogue-free first half and its stark postapocalyptic Earthscape. WALL-E (right) is an E.T.-esque clean-up robot who falls for a sleek explorer-bot named Eve and follows her into space, where obese humans now live on a floating ark after having trashed their home planet.

The Warriors (1979)
Thursday, 3:45 p.m., IFC
This cult classic is set in a wild-west New York ruled by street gangs with outlandish attire: the Baseball Furies (Yankees garb, face paint), the Boppers (purple satin vests) and the Hi-Hats (mime outfits). The titular Warriors (below), under siege from every other gang, must battle their way back from the Bronx to their home turf of Coney Island.


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This week’s couple: Southern comfort

Sometimes all it takes is one simple gesture to win someone over. Such was the case for Rachael, 26, and Zach, 27, when they met for dinner at Lavo in Midtown. By the time dessert arrived, they already seemed to be smitten with each other — bonding over their love for the South — but then Zach made a move at the end of the meal to really seal the deal.

He said:

When I first saw Rachael at Lavo I thought she was very attractive and stylish. I knew dinner would be fantastic.

We chatted comfortably about our experiences at college and what brought us to the city from the South. I talked a lot about writing, and Rachael indulged me.

Our waiter was excellent. We split a beef carpaccio, followed by veal parmigiano and pasta with chicken. But dessert stole the show: We smiled at each other between bites of sorbet and gelato.

We exchanged numbers, and I gave her a kiss on the cheek before we parted ways. She texted me when she got home safely. Rachael's lovely, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again soon.

She said:

I saw Zach struggling to make it through the crowd at Lavo, which made me laugh because I had just done the same. We hung out together while the staff prepped our table, and I noticed that he is tall, handsome and charismatic.

Conversation was easy. We both play sports, hail from the South and love whiskey. Zach listened and asked all the right questions. It's obvious he's in tune with himself. I find that really attractive. Everyone at Lavo was also lovely — the service was some of the best I've had.

Zach took his leftovers in a to-go box so he could offer it to a homeless person on his way home. What a sweet guy! He then asked me to text him when I made it home safely. I was going to ask for his number anyway — meeting again would be great


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Don’t miss: A preview of the week’s top shows

Gibbs Gets Lucky, NCIS Tuesday, 8 p.m., CBS

When a stolen drone is linked to the elusive terrorist Parsa, the NCIS team partners with the Department of Defense, including Gibbs' former girlfriend Hollis Mann (Susanna Thompson), to track down the device before it is used for a large scale attack. Meanwhile, McGee (Sean Murray) hesitates to ask for time off to attend a blacktie gala honoring his girlfriend. Also starring Pauley Perrette and David McCallum.

Swamp Fever, Justified Tuesday, 10 p.m., FX

In the swamplands of Florida, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) tangles with a deadly branch of the Crowe Family, with whom the corpse of a Coast Guard official is being hidden, while Boyd Crowther (Walton Goggins) goes into the dark heart of the collapsing Detroit mob. Michael Rappaport guest stars as Daryl Crowe.

The Edge of Seventeen, American Horror Story Wednesday, 10 p.m., FX

This is the moment "AHS" fans have been waiting for: the appearance of Stevie Nicks, whose songs have given this show its soundtrack this season. She does it in a scene with Fiona (Jessica Lange), who attempts to out the new Supreme with Stevie's help. Meanwhile, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) learns the truth about the Witch Hunters. Madison (Emma Roberts) tries to eliminate her competition for the Supremacy. With Lily Rabe.

Secondcity Blues, Chicago PD Wednesday, 10 p.m., NBC

After a slewof brutal slayings, District 21, a Chicago police department intelligence unit led by Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe. left, with Sophia Bush as Erin Lindsay), pursues a Columbian drug cartel cleaning house in Chicago. They discover D'Anthony, who proves to be an asset in the investigation. At District, complicated histories and unit rivalries surface which could end up costing them one of their own. Meanwhile, rookie Kyle Ruzek (Patrick Flueger) is pulled from the police academy byOlinsky (Elias Koteas) to join the team. Jon Seda ("The Pacific") also stars.

Name That Tune, The Good Wife Sunday, 9 p.m., CBS

Alicia (Julianna Margulies, left) represents a band suing for copyright infringement, but the case becomes psychological warfare when Will (Josh Charles) joins the opposing council and uses his knowledge of Alicia's strengths and weaknesses against her. Meanwhile, Eli (Alan Cumming) hires Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) to get ahead of a potential scandal. With Matt Czuchry.

Barracks Bromance, Enlisted Friday, 9:30 p.m., Fox

Staff Sergeant Pete Hill (Geoff Stults, left) was on a path for a dazzling military career until one mistake overseas got him booted stateside to Fort McGee, Fla., the post where his two younger brothers, Corporal Derrick Hill (Chris Lowell) and Private Randy Hill (Parker Young) are stationed. Now, as their platoon sergeant, Pete must serve both as big brother and boss. Between cleanup duty at a parade and assorted soldierly pranks, they will inadvertently discover the key to strengthening their childhood bonds. With Angelique Cabral as Sgt. Jill Perez.


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Have a bigger-than-it-looks ball on New Year’s Eve

Each year, a lot of work and engineering is poured into the New Year's Eve ball, officially titled — including branding — the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve Ball.

The ball, a geodesic sphere, is bigger than it looks on TV, measuring 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at almost six tons or 11,875 pounds, according to the Times Square Alliance.

It's covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that range in length from 4 3/4 inches to 5 3/4 inches per side.

All of those triangles are cut in the new design, "Gift of Imagination," which features a series of wedge cuts that allows the ball to display an endless array of patterns.

The triangles are bolted to 672 LED (light emitting diodes) modules that are attached to the ball's aluminum frame. The ball itself will be illuminated by 32,356 Philips Luxson Rebel LEDs, in red, blue, green and white.

That's a lot of math, but all told, the ball will able to create a palette of more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns to produce constant kaleidoscope effects while it awaits its drop atop One Times Square at 11:59 p.m. on December 31.


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Mohegan tribe eyes casino expansion

Mitch Etess runs the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns the Mohegan Sun, but his bloodlines run through the borscht belt.

The Tribal Gaming Authority hopes to be part of a Catskills revival. After all, Etess literally grew up in the famed resort area as the grandson of matriarch Jennie Grossinger, of Grossinger's Hotel fame.

The Mohegan Sun is just part of the Tribal Gaming Authority's operations. Etess explained that it is "pursuing a regional, methodical growth strategy" for New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. (New Jersey's Indian gambling licenses are limited to in-state tribes.)

The expansion plans may be aided by the authority's restructuring of its bank credit facilities and certain notes shortly before the end of its fiscal year, Sept. 30. On Nov. 20, the company announced net fourth-quarter revenues of $345.3 million.

In the Catskills, the Mohegan tribe is partnering with Westchester developer Louis R. Cappelli. They already have a design for a casino at the site of the Concord, another iconic resort.

The tribe will pursue a license for a casino there, one of up to seven additional casinos authorized by voters in the November elections.

Etess admits that the proliferation of gambling facilities in the Northeast creates competitive pressures, but he disagrees that the market has reached its saturation point.

"The market will seek its level," he maintains. He also believes that banks will restrain development so the overbuilding mistake made in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.

Mohegan Sun's adaptation to the competition is to position itself as a "destination" casino.

"We could not have better entertainment," says Etess, pointing to upcoming shows by Prince and star country group Lady Antebellum. Country music is a particularly big draw for the venue: cowboys working for Indians.

In addition to the $130 million spent on the Catskills project to date, the developers expect to spend another $370 million, and create 2,000 jobs during construction and 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs in the casino alone.

The state Gaming Commission does not yet have a timeline for proposals. While politicians support a fast process, "people have different definitions of fast," Etess noted.


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‘Miracle’ pup survives being dumped in trash bin

A Long Island pup who was found cruelly tossed into a trash bin is getting a new lease on life — while an animal-shelter employee who allegedly committed the heartless act was slapped with animal-cruelty charges Saturday.

"It's really a miracle, a million-to-one shot" that the dog survived, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "It's like buying a lottery ticket and winning."

The owner of the Lhasa apso mix couldn't care for the pooch anymore and gave her, along with a cream-colored male poodle, to cage cleaner Michael Papini, authorities said.

Papini allegedly collected $250 and promised to bring the pups to the Town of Islip Animal Shelter, where he worked.

Instead, authorities said, Papini stuffed the bug-eyed pooch — since nicknamed "Miracle" — in plastic bags, placed her in a cardboard box and tossed it into a garbage bin at a West Islip gas station two days before Christmas.

But the 1¹/₂-year-old canine chewed her way out and was found by a homeless man, Gross said.

The plucky pooch was brought to the Islip shelter, where workers used her ID microchip to get in contact with the owner, Gross said.

The owner told them about Papini, Gross said.

Michael Papini
is brought into custody on
Saturday after allegedly
dumping a dog in the trash.Photo: Edmund J Coppa

The dog was thrown in this bin.Photo: Edmund J Coppa

Authorities released surveillance footage of the incident, which brought in tips for the investigation.

"If you look at the surveillance video, you can watch him open the back hatch of the car, open up the Dumpster and throw it in there like yesterday's garbage, without even thinking. There's a live animal in there," Gross said.

Papini allegedly released the 5-year-old poodle on Cooper Street in Babylon.

That dog, named Bailey, still hasn't been found, Gross said, adding the Suffolk SPCA is offering a $500 reward for information on his whereabouts.

Papini, 30, pleaded not guilty Saturday to charges of animal cruelty, animal abandonment, criminal impersonation and petty larceny and was released on $250 bail.

Gross was unsatisfied.

"This guy was released on $250 bail. I find it very disappointing, to say the least," he said. "What message are we sending?"

Papini was suspended without pay by the shelter.

"The Islip Animal Shelter prides itself on its professional treatment of all pets that come through its doors," the shelter said Saturday. "This troubling incident in no way reflects the loving and caring treatment for all animals from our many dedicated staff and volunteers."

As of Saturday, Miracle was waiting to see if her owner would retrieve her or if she'd meet any of the 25 people who have inquired about adopting her, the shelter said.


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ObamaCare performance way below 1 percent on first day

They're the .0002 percent! That's the minuscule number of visitors to healthcare.gov who actually signed up for coverage — just six people out of more than 3 million — on the first day, the Associated Press reports. And the federal government's Web site isn't faring as well as state sites. As of Nov. 30, 227,478 people had signed up on the sites of one of the 14 states that offer their own exchanges, but only 137,204 from the other 36 states had signed up on the federal site.

Still, 81 percent of young Democrats still approve of the Affordable Care Act — although 55 million Americans are uninsured.

The federal government itself estimates that in 2016 when most of ObamaCare's provisos are expected to take hold, 31 million Americans still won't have health insurance.


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Good news for markets as oil prices set to keep falling

Want to know where stock and bond prices are headed in 2014?

Well, a good bet is to look no further than the oil pits in lower Manhattan, where they trade black gold with abandon and where prices have been trending significantly lower in recent years, even amid chaos in the Middle East and an economic rebound here and in Europe.

In 2013, a slide in oil prices has quietly smoothed the way for the Dow 30, which has managed to clock 50 new record highs on its way to a 26 percent gain so far this year.

True, oil prices today are higher than they were at the beginning of 2013, but on average a barrel of good ol' American crude came in at $97 a barrel in the year now passing, versus an average of $112 in 2012.

That 14 percent drop may not seem like a lot, but it kept a floor under interest rates and kept Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke from little more than tossing and turning a bit at night as he cranked out another trillion dollars (yes, that's $85 billion times 12 months) in new bond purchases to juice the economy.

Right now the outlook is for a continuation of this virtuous cycle looks auspicious. While the consensus estimate targets a $92-a-barrel price on West Texas Intermediate Crude for 2014, more aggressive observers see even lower prices.

Michael Lewis at UBS has cut his price target to $88 for 2014 — a 9 percent decline from this year's average and a number the stock and bond markets would embrace.

Of course, there are many known unknowns and unknown unknowns (to paraphrase former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) when it comes to the Middle East in 2014.

But this we do know: America's 40-year crazy quest for energy independence arrived in 2013 with little fanfare.

Not only was crude-oil production the highest since 1989, crude imports in 2013 also were running about 5 billion barrels below 2010 levels.

All signals point to America's energy renaissance continuing into 2014. Outside events may trigger a nasty spike in prices, but if not, stable and falling crude prices will keep on forming a solid backdrop to the stock market rally.


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Suicide bomber kills at least 13 in Russia

MOSCOW — At least 13 people were killed and scores were wounded Sunday by a suicide bomber at a railway station in southern Russia, officials said, heightening concern about terrorism ahead of February's Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said the explosion at the central railway station in the city of Volgograd was set off by a suicide bomber.

Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the nation's top investigative agency, the Investigative Committee, said that at least 13 people died in the blast. Russia's Health Ministry said about 50 people were injured.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games.

Suicide bombings and other attacks linked to Islamic rebels have rocked Russia for years.

In October, a female suicide bomber blew herself up on a city bus in Volgograd, killing six people and injuring about 30. Officials said the attacker came from the province of Dagestan, which has become the center of an Islamist insurgency that has spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya.

Russian state television reported that Sunday's explosion occurred at the security gate at the station's entrance. A footage by a security camera facing the station that was broadcast by Rossiya 24 television showed the moment of explosion: a bright orange flash inside the station behind the main gate followed by plumes of smoke.

The television showed a lineup of ambulances outside the station, and several motionless bodies placed on the pavement.

The blast closely followed another attack Friday in the city of Pyatigorsk in the North Caucasus Mountains when a car rigged with explosives blew up on a street in Pyatigorsk, the central of a federal administrative district intended to stabilize the North Caucasus region.


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Libya detains 4 US military personnel, releases them hours later

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 28 Desember 2013 | 20.49

WASHINGTON — Four U.S. military personnel investigating potential evacuation routes in Libya were taken into custody at a checkpoint and then detained briefly by the Libyan government before being released, U.S. officials said Friday night.

These four military personnel were operating in an area near the coastal city of Sabratha in northwestern Libya as part of security preparedness efforts when they were taken into custody, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. Sabathra, about 40 miles west of Tripoli, is a popular tourist area with its ancient Roman ruins.

No one was injured. The military personnel were taken to the U.S. Embassy after their release, a Defense Department official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity.

The four were supporting U.S. Marine security forces protecting the American Embassy, the official said. They were likely U.S. special operations forces, which have been deployed to Libya.

An altercation apparently took place at the checkpoint, the Defense Department official said. Reports of gunfire could not be confirmed.

After they were detained at the checkpoint, the Americans were transferred to the Ministry of the Interior and held for a few hours, the official said. Psaki said U.S. officials were still trying to confirm details of the incident.

"We value our relationship with the new Libya," Psaki said. "We have a strategic partnership based on shared interests and our strong support for Libya's historic democratic transition."

The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli includes a security detail. The embassy's personnel are restricted in their movements in Libya.

Libya has been marked by unrest since the ouster in 2011 of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Armed groups that fought Gadhafi's army turned themselves into militias that exploited the weakness of the weak central government in Tripoli and operate independently of the police and the military.

In September 2012, terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

President Barack Obama, who was vacationing in Hawaii, was updated about the incident by staff from the White House's National Security Council, officials said.


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Maguire, Wiig lead all-star spoof of bloated ’70s miniseries

There's a scene in "The Spoils of Babylon," IFC's six-episode miniseries satire starring Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and Tobey Maguire, where Maguire is making love to his new wife.

The scene is a psychedelic depiction of frenzied passion, the sounds of orgasmic pleasure mixing with intense facial close-ups, fiery lighting, and limbs — an inhuman amount of limbs, all flailing and wavering.

While not that different on paper from what you might see on a network nighttime soap, there is one unique factor. Maguire's wife, Lady Anne York, is played by a mannequin (though voiced by Carey Mulligan), and the filming of the scene required the entire crew to surround Maguire with mannequin limbs, waving them furiously as the actor feigned sex with what was actually bits of hard plastic.

"The Spoils of Babylon," which also features Tim Robbins, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Michael Sheen and more, is named for the fictional book on which the series is based — and parodies epic '70s and '80s miniseries like "The Thorn Birds" and "Shogun."

Each episode is introduced by the book's melancholy, past-his-prime author, Eric Jonrosh, a character influenced in part by Orson Welles' overweight-wine-commercial years.

Jonrosh is played by a bushy-bearded, fedora-topped, fat-suited Ferrell, who drinks several glasses of wine at once as he regales us with tales of the project's shoot, including how he slept with every member of the cast, and how the lead actress, his former wife (Wiig), was "very adventurous in all matters sexual."

The miniseries brings us inside five decades of the life of the Morehouse family, including oil baron patriarch Jonas (Robbins), his precocious daughter Cynthia (Wiig) and his foundling stepson Devon (Maguire), who becomes Cynthia's forbidden love.

Along the way they face wars, death, addiction, romance and loss, and all the life complications one might expect from a series this epic, rendered in the most ridiculous ways possible.

The identity of Lady Anne, for instance, was influenced by a certain aspect of '60s films and taken to nonsensical extremes.

"The decision to put that in the show was a bold one, because that could go either way," says Andrew Steele, the series' co-writer along with Matt Piedmont, who also directed.

"If you look at some '60s films, like some John Wayne films, they would pair him up with models and actresses that could barely act . . . and it felt like they were using mannequins as actors." To film this scene, Piedmont had the crew grab mannequin limbs and wave them around Maguire as he made love to what was actually just more fake body parts. "There was a shared recognition of just how surreal that was," Piedmont says.

Surreal was the mood throughout the shoot. Haley Joel Osment, who plays Cynthia's son Winston, describes a scene where Wiig's improvisation threw him way off guard. "There's a huge boardroom scene where we're speaking in front of these investors, and toward the end of it she just attacked me," says Osment.

"We were at odds in the scene, but [the script] didn't say anything about her attacking me and pulling me beneath the table. That came out of nowhere."

Piedmont and Steele wrote for "Saturday Night Live" back when Ferrell was on the show, and Steele wrote, and Piedmont directed, Ferrell's 2012 film, "Casa de mi Padre." Steele is also the creative director for Funny or Die, which Ferrell co-founded.

While brainstorming ideas for a possible third season of HBO's "Funny or Die Presents," Piedmont saw a hardcover copy of "The Thorn Birds," which he says was like "three phone books glued together," at an Oregon bookstore. "Any super melodrama that's pretentious and overwrought makes me laugh," says Piedmont. "So I thought, what if we did a fake book of one of these mini-series, that was like this epic melodrama?"

"Matt sent me a one-line text from Portland that said, 'The best-selling novel of all time, The Spoils of Babylon.' I fell in love with the title," says Steele. "I threw back at him the name of the fake author, and we just started spinning it out in e-mails and texts."


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Hate charge in ‘knockout’ attack on old man

A federal judge denied bond on Friday to a white Texas man charged with punching an elderly black man in a suspected race-based attack that the accused recorded as a video with his cell phone, court records show.

Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, is suspected of striking the 79-year-old victim with a single blow that fractured his jaw in two places, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Houston.

"Barrett is a danger to the community. He stalked his victim," U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacy said in court records on Friday, calling the attack vicious.

Barrett was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004 and has been treated with lithium and an anti-depressant, his lawyer George Parnham said, noting that his client also has a history of substance and alcohol abuse.

"He was not taking his prescribed medications on the day of the incident," Parnham said.

Prosecutors said Barrett made the video for a "knockout game" where attackers try to knock out a person with a single punch and then post a video of the assault on the Internet.

As the victim lay on the pavement, Barrett laughed, yelled "Knockout, baby!" and ran to his vehicle to flee the scene, the complaint said.

Later Barrett showed the video to an off-duty arson investigator he met by chance in a restaurant, who then notified authorities and had Barrett arrested, according to the court documents.

The video does not show Barrett's face, but prosecutors matched his voice to the voice heard in the video and the off-duty investigator told authorities that Barrett was wearing the same clothing as the person who filmed the video.

The November 24 attack in Katy, Texas, 30 miles west of Houston, was carried out "because of the man's race and color," according to the complaint.

"It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Morris, from the bureau's Houston office.

The victim underwent surgery to remove three teeth and have two metal plates inserted in his jaw. He was hospitalized for four days.

Investigators said Barrett recorded himself making racially charged statements on his phone, including one where he is alleged to have said: "The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?"

Barrett's parents expressed remorse in court today for their son's actions, but that they fear retaliation from the community after receiving anonymous threatening phone calls, Parnham said.

"They feel very sorry for what occurred, not only for their son, but also the elderly gentleman involved," he said.

Barrett was previously convicted for driving while intoxicated and stealing a vehicle. If convicted of the hate crime, Barrett faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


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FDNY burned by fake air conditioner repairs

The owner of a New York air conditioner repair company has been charged with pocketing more than $149,000 from the FDNY in never completed work.

Just Cooling Corporation owner Justin Levy was arrested Friday. The 49-year-old Congers man and Just Cooling are charged with grand larceny and more than 300 counts of offering a false instrument for filing.

It wasn't immediately known if Levy had a lawyer. A woman who answered the phone for Just Cooling refused to comment.

Authorities say that in 2010, Levy falsified more than 300 labor and materials invoices for repairs at FDNY facilities.


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The Soviet Union spent $1 billion on mind-control programs

The race to put man on the Moon wasn't enough of a battle for the global super powers during the Cold War.

At the time, the Soviet Union and the United States were in an arms race of a bizarre, unconventional kind – that has been exposed in a new report.

Beginning in 1917 and continuing until 2003, the Soviets poured up to $1 billion into developing mind-controlling weaponry to compete with similar programs undertaken in the United States.

While much still remains classified, we can now confirm the Soviets used methods to manipulate test subjects' brains.

The paper, by Serge Kernbach, at the Research Centre of Advanced Robotics and Environmental Science in Stuttgart, Germany, details the Soviet Union's extensive experiments, called "psychotronics". The paper is based on Russian technical journals and recently declassified documents.

The paper outlines how the Soviets developed "cerpan", a device to generate and store high-frequency electromagnetic radiation which was used to affect other objects.

"If the generator is designed properly, it is able to accumulate bioenergy from all living things – animals, plants, humans – and then release it outside," the paper said.

The schematic drawing made by Soviet scientist detailing the bio-circuitry of the human nervous system.Photo: B.B.Kazhinskiy

The psychotronics program, known in the US as "parapsychology", involves unconventional research into mind control and remote influence – and was funded by the government.

With only limited knowledge of each other's mind-bending programs, the Soviets and Americans were both participating in similar secret operations, with areas of interest often mirroring the other country's study.

The psychotronics project draws similarities to part of the controversial program MKUltra in the US. The CIA program ran for 20 years, has been highly documented since being investigated in the 1970s and was recently dramatized in the 2009 movie "The Men Who Stare at Goats."

Scientists involved in the MKUltra program researched the possibility of manipulating people's minds by altering their brain functions using electromagnetic waves. This program led to the development of pyschotronic weapons, which were intended to be used to perform these mind-shifting functions.

The illegal research subjected humans to experiments with drugs, such as LSD, hypnosis and radiological and biological agents. Shockingly, some studies were conducted without the participant's knowledge.

Kernbach's paper on the Soviet Union's psychotronics program fails to mention one thing – the results. He also doesn't detail whether there are ongoing mind-control programs in the US or Russia, but there are suspicions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made mention of futuristic weaponry last year in a presidential campaign article.

"Space-based systems and IT tools, especially in cyberspace, will play a great, if not decisive role in armed conflicts. In a more remote future, weapon systems that use different physical principles will be created (beam, geophysical, wave, genetic, psychophysical and other types of weapons). All this will provide fundamentally new instruments for achieving political and strategic goals in addition to nuclear weapons," he wrote.

The newly declassified information outlined in the report only touches on the Soviet psychotronics program and the bizarre experiments undertaken. With so much information still classified, will we ever know the whole truth?

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.


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FDNY burned by fake air conditioner repairs

The owner of a New York air conditioner repair company has been charged with pocketing more than $149,000 from the FDNY in never completed work.

Just Cooling Corporation owner Justin Levy was arrested Friday. The 49-year-old Congers man and Just Cooling are charged with grand larceny and more than 300 counts of offering a false instrument for filing.

It wasn't immediately known if Levy had a lawyer. A woman who answered the phone for Just Cooling refused to comment.

Authorities say that in 2010, Levy falsified more than 300 labor and materials invoices for repairs at FDNY facilities.


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Hate charge for Texan in ‘knockout’ attack on old man

A federal judge denied bond on Friday to a white Texas man charged with punching an elderly black man in a suspected race-based attack that the accused recorded as a video with his cell phone, court records show.

Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, is suspected of striking the 79-year-old victim with a single blow that fractured his jaw in two places, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Houston.

"Barrett is a danger to the community. He stalked his victim," U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacy said in court records on Friday, calling the attack vicious.

Barrett was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004 and has been treated with lithium and an anti-depressant, his lawyer George Parnham said, noting that his client also has a history of substance and alcohol abuse.

"He was not taking his prescribed medications on the day of the incident," Parnham said.

Prosecutors said Barrett made the video for a "knockout game" where attackers try to knock out a person with a single punch and then post a video of the assault on the Internet.

As the victim lay on the pavement, Barrett laughed, yelled "Knockout, baby!" and ran to his vehicle to flee the scene, the complaint said.

Later Barrett showed the video to an off-duty arson investigator he met by chance in a restaurant, who then notified authorities and had Barrett arrested, according to the court documents.

The video does not show Barrett's face, but prosecutors matched his voice to the voice heard in the video and the off-duty investigator told authorities that Barrett was wearing the same clothing as the person who filmed the video.

The November 24 attack in Katy, Texas, 30 miles west of Houston, was carried out "because of the man's race and color," according to the complaint.

"It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Morris, from the bureau's Houston office.

The victim underwent surgery to remove three teeth and have two metal plates inserted in his jaw. He was hospitalized for four days.

Investigators said Barrett recorded himself making racially charged statements on his phone, including one where he is alleged to have said: "The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?"

Barrett's parents expressed remorse in court today for their son's actions, but that they fear retaliation from the community after receiving anonymous threatening phone calls, Parnham said.

"They feel very sorry for what occurred, not only for their son, but also the elderly gentleman involved," he said.

Barrett was previously convicted for driving while intoxicated and stealing a vehicle. If convicted of the hate crime, Barrett faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


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Escort service besmirched us: Hooters

Hooters of America, the restaurant chain known for its skimpily clad waitresses, is suing a Florida escort service it says tarnished Hooters' trademarks as it sought to hire away its employees.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, says that Nikki's Escort Service and its proprietor Nikki Swafford posted ads on the Tampa site of Craigslist.com stating: "Now Hiring Hooters Girls $100 Per Hour."

The ads were accompanied by a photo of women wearing the chain's official uniform.

Hooters argued that Nikki's tarnished its trademarks, including its signature owl logo, and engaged in deceptive trade practices for suggesting the restaurant chain is affiliated with the escort service.

"(Hooters) spends millions of dollars annually marketing their brands…and engaging in charitable activities throughout the United States," says the complaint, citing donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics among other groups.

Atlanta-based Hooters is a privately held corporation with 375 locations in the United States, as well as in 28 countries, court papers said. The company has filed 13 lawsuits alleging trademark infringement and been involved in more than 127 federal lawsuits since 1991, according to court documents.

Hooters also named San Francisco-based Craigslist Inc as a defendant for failing to take down the ads after Hooters sent a notice of abuse to the website's operators.

Hooters said it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Nikki's and to Swafford. According to the complaint, Swafford responded in a "profane and unprofessional manner" to a telephone call from Hooters.

The chain's attorney, Andrew William Bray, was not immediately available for comment, nor was a spokesman for Craigslist.

A man who answered the phone at Nikki's and declined to identify himself, said the ads say "Kooters," not Hooters, before hanging up.

Hooters acknowledged in court papers that Nikki's had made that change in its Craigslist ads, but argues the use of the word "Kooters" is still trademark infringement because the ads feature a photo taken inside one of its restaurants and women featured in the ad are wearing the official Hooters Girl uniform.


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Cops blast pistol-packing gunman in shootout

Three NYPD police officers shot it out with a violent gunman in Queens early Friday morning after the thug began firing at them, cops said.

The melee began just after midnight when William Bazemore, 19, was stopped by police on Beach Channel Drive and Nameoke Avenue in the Rockaways because they noticed an 'unusual bulge' in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt, cops said.

When the officers approached Bazemore he pulled out his gun and started blasting at them.

Bazemore sustained minor injuries to his nose when he was collared and was transported to Jamaica Hospital.

Cops found this handgun after the shootout in Queens.

There were no injuries from the gunfire, cops said.

Cops recovered a .22 caliber revolver at the scene.

Bazemore was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, attempted assault, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, and reckless endangerment.


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Libya detains 4 US military personnel, releases them hours later

WASHINGTON — Four U.S. military personnel investigating potential evacuation routes in Libya were taken into custody at a checkpoint and then detained briefly by the Libyan government before being released, U.S. officials said Friday night.

These four military personnel were operating in an area near the coastal city of Sabratha in northwestern Libya as part of security preparedness efforts when they were taken into custody, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. Sabathra, about 40 miles west of Tripoli, is a popular tourist area with its ancient Roman ruins.

No one was injured. The military personnel were taken to the U.S. Embassy after their release, a Defense Department official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity.

The four were supporting U.S. Marine security forces protecting the American Embassy, the official said. They were likely U.S. special operations forces, which have been deployed to Libya.

An altercation apparently took place at the checkpoint, the Defense Department official said. Reports of gunfire could not be confirmed.

After they were detained at the checkpoint, the Americans were transferred to the Ministry of the Interior and held for a few hours, the official said. Psaki said U.S. officials were still trying to confirm details of the incident.

"We value our relationship with the new Libya," Psaki said. "We have a strategic partnership based on shared interests and our strong support for Libya's historic democratic transition."

The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli includes a security detail. The embassy's personnel are restricted in their movements in Libya.

Libya has been marked by unrest since the ouster in 2011 of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Armed groups that fought Gadhafi's army turned themselves into militias that exploited the weakness of the weak central government in Tripoli and operate independently of the police and the military.

In September 2012, terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

President Barack Obama, who was vacationing in Hawaii, was updated about the incident by staff from the White House's National Security Council, officials said.


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Daily Blotter

Written By kom nampuldu on Jumat, 27 Desember 2013 | 20.49

Queens

A woman stole a purse and fled in a luxury vehicle in Flushing, cops said.

The 25-year-old victim had put down her purse to use the ladies room when the thief (above) snatched the purse at the Good Fortune restaurant on Kissena Boulevard near Laburnum Avenue at around noon on Nov. 30, police said.

The victim had just exited the bathroom when she saw the woman running out with her purse.

The suspect quickly hopped into a black 2013 Mercedes and fled.

Manhattan

Another woman lost her purse — a very expensive one — when two thieves sneaked up behind her in Midtown.

The 32-year-old victim was at West 30th Street and Eighth Avenue at 1:30 a.m. Thursday when the men approached and grabbed the $2,300 purse, police sources said.

She told cops the purse held $1,200 in cash and more than $100 worth of MAC makeup.

Police canvassed the area, but were unable to find the suspects.

The Bronx

A thug robbed a Morris Park cellphone store at knifepoint.

A 30-year-old female clerk was behind the register at the Metro PCS shop on Morris Park Avenue near White Plains Road at 7:20 p.m. Dec. 18 when the thief entered.

The man, armed with a knife, escorted her to the rear of the store and warned, "Stay in the back."

He then opened the register and snatched $500 in cash, according to police sources.

Investigators believe the suspect is between 18 and 23. He was wearing a beige skull cap, brown Timberland boots, black jeans and a North Face jacket.


A Norwood man who whose neck was slashed over the summer has died five months after the brutal attack, and investigators have reclassified the case a homicide.

Maraj "Indio" Binnath, 51, was attacked with a boxcutter by Rusty Dejesus just after midnight July 22 in the Knox-Gates playground on West Mosholu Parkway, police said. He was rushed to Montefiore Hospital in critical condition.

Binnath clinged to life, but succumbed to his injuries on Dec. 16.

An autopsy ruled his death a homicide, and Dejesus, 37, who was originally charged with felony assault, now faces murder charges.

He has six prior arrests dating back to 1992, all involving controlled substances, cops said.

Staten Island

A 53-year-old man tried to set his family's Charleston home on fire — using Christmas ornaments, law- enforcement sources said.

Anthony Wojcik got into an argument with relatives in the home on Pitney Avenue near Herrick Avenue at around 11 p.m. Wednesday and knocked over a television set and candlestick, according to a Criminal Court complaint.

He then allegedly threatened to burn down the house.

He threw things around the house and threatened to hurt his relatives before he barked, "I'm going to burn the house," the documents state. He then grabbed a bowl of wooden holiday decorations and set them on fire, the documents charge.

He caused more than $250 in damage, and the family had to be evacuated from the home because of smoke, the sources said.

Wojcik has been charged with criminal mischief, harassment and arson, according to the complaint.

There were no injuries immediately reported.


Two men hurled a cement parking barrier through an Elm Park hookah-lounge window, nearly injuring the patrons inside, police sources said.

Larry Burris, 36, and Felipe Cediel, 22, were at the Myst Lounge on Forest Avenue near Ordell Avenue at around 11 p.m. Christmas Eve when they went outside, somehow hoisted the barrier and allegedly chucked it through the window.

The lounge was packed with people at the time of the incident, but no injuries were immediately reported, the sources said.

Burris and Cediel were charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, according to cops.

Brooklyn

A boozed-up Flatbush man threatened an EMT with a knife after his worried daughter called 911 to report that he was drinking, law-enforcement sources told The Post Thursday.

Badin Merson, 53, clashed with the 35-year-old EMT worker in his Argyle Road apartment at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the sources said.

He shouted at the medic, "I drink. This is my house. I'm not going anywhere," according to sources.

He then allegedly yelled at the worker to "get lost" and picked up a butcher knife as the EMT turned to leave — pitching it at him and hitting him in the back.

The EMT, who was not injured, called police.

Merson was busted on charges of menacing and attempted assault.


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Time for a website redo

Whither the Time.com redesign? The website redo was initially expected to be out around "the fall" and then it was expected in November. Now, with December almost gone, CapitalNY was saying the new target is January.

Time.com Managing Editor Edward Felsenthal hinted it could take a bit longer.

"I'd expect it in the next three to six weeks," he told Media Ink on Thursday.

Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs, who succeeded Rick Stengel as the top Time editor in September, is trying to give the digital team a higher profile, aware that there was grumbling in the digital ranks about second-class status under her predecessor.

One of her first moves after her appointment was to reschedule the Time.com news meeting into the same sessions where the weekly print edition is planned.

Back in mid-November, Gibbs told Media Ink that she expected the website to relaunch "in the next couple of weeks," but even then seemed to suggest it was a moveable feast.

"At various times, it had different dates attached to it," she said, "but I'm not terribly focused on a fixed date."

She did say, "We want to have it customized geographically, and we want it to be bigger, broader and more global."

The outside design firm is Big Human, which has done projects such as the travel site Jetsetter, but counts Time.com as its first 24/7 news site.

And the project is getting more complicated, as Ripp wants to see more video available on the site.

Felsenthal, who has hired about 30 people in advance of the redesign, said that it "will have a template for multimedia products" and that the redesign will probably be rolled out in three phases.

Native advertising — content that is paid for by advertisers and made to mimic the journalistic content — will be part of the redesign as well, although the site is already running some of the long-form ads.

While Time.com traffic is growing, general news is a brutally competitive category and Time is still a long way from being able to crack the top 10 news sites.

With just under 19 million users checking it out on all platforms in the US in October according to comScore, Time.com set a new site record.

Felsenthal said that Omniture, which tracks international visitors, puts the traffic at 40.5 million for the month of December — another site record.

The Time.com redesign is one of at least three big moves that are believed to be on tap for early in the new year by Time Inc.

Sports Illustrated, which reclaimed control of the business side of its website from Turner Sports Network, is expected to unveil its redesign early next year as well.

And, of course, Fortune is facing the end of its joint venture with CNNMoney on May 31, so the business mag will have to relaunch under its own brand by June 1.


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