Top Stories – Not a bad gardening leave payoff –
NBC reaches a $45m (£28m) agreement with Conan O’Brien over his late-night US talk show, so his predecessor Jay Leno can make a return. O’Brien will be allowed to return to TV in eight months. Conan O’Brien
Wolf in wolf’s clothing –
The winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award has been disqualified after judges ruled that the featured wolf was probably a “model”. The 2009 winning image, dubbed the storybook wolf, was taken by photographer Jose Luis Rodriguez.
The car in front… won’t slow down –
Toyota is recalling 2.3 million cars in the US to correct sticking accelerator pedals. In August of last year, Toyota recalled 690,000 cars in China due to faulty electrical window switches.
Top Video – Videotape – A Pixilation Sci-Fi Short Film about an old man’s haunted VCR.
US and Cuba talking again –
After 53 years of diplomatic estrangement, diplomatic relationships between the US and Cuba have been re-established. The deal was aided by a personal appeal from Pope Francis, who persuaded Cuba’s president, Raúl Castro, to agree to the freeing of the American aid worker Alan P. Gross. The pope, officials said, acted as a “guarantor” that both sides would live up to the terms of a deal reached in secret. Alan P. Gross
Smelling the money –
Fragrances from stars such as Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Jay Z are outselling established fragrance brands such as Hugo Boss and Gucci in some UK stores. Britney’s perfumes outsell DKNY by three to one at UK store Superdrug, and Hugo Boss by two to one. Jay Z’s Gold is the best selling celebrity fragrance. Britney Spears
Interview cancelled –
“The Interview” the film that is possibly the catalyst in the Sony Pictures hacking scandal has had its Christmas Day release cancelled after major cinema chains decided not to screen it in the US.
Michael Garcia resigns from FIFA –
Fifa’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia has quit in protest over the handling of his report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Garcia said he lost confidence in the independence of judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, an ethics committee colleague after his report was summarised.
10 years since the tsunami –
Memorial services are being held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Bieber Bell battle continues –
The Justin Bieber v Drake Bell fans battle continued today with a Belieber hacking into Drake’s Instagram account. Retaliation for Bell baiting one of Justin’s fans Justin Bieber and Drake Bell
UK astronaut Tim Peake calls wrong number from space –
British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted an apology on Christmas Day from the International Space Station after calling a wrong number. He wrote “I’d like to apologize to the lady I just called by mistake saying ‘Hello, is this planet Earth?’ — not a prank call — just a wrong number!” The 43-year-old former army helicopter pilot did not say who he was calling. Timothy Peake
Amnesty International reports at least 200 civilians have been killed in Russian air strikes in Syria, indicating “serious failures by Russia to respect international humanitarian law”. Moscow denies causing civilian deaths. (BBC)
An overnight raid by suspected Boko Haram militants on Niger‘s southern border town of Abadam, kills two Nigerien Army soldiers and three civilians. And, separately, a suicide-bomb attack on Lake Chad killed three of the attackers but no one else. A military convoy was also ambushed by militants in northern Cameroon, although there were no reported deaths. (Reuters)
Hacktivist collective Anonymous declares a cyber-war on Turkey, and claims responsibility for the major week-long cyber-attack between 14 and 21 December on Turkey, which it accuses of supporting the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and threatened additional attacks in case the alleged support continues. “We will continue attacking your internet, your root DNS, your banks and take your government sites down,” it said. “After the root DNS, we will start to hit your airports, military assets and private state connections. We will destroy your critical banking infrastructure,” the group added. (Hurriyet Daily News)(Independent)
Man dies after blowing up condom machine, says German police –
A man died on Christmas Day in Germany after he was hit in the head by a flying piece of metal from a condom machine that he and two accomplices blew up in an apparent robbery attempt, police said on Monday. The 29-year-old man was taken to hospital in the western town of Schoeppingen, near the Dutch border, by the two other men who fled the scene of the explosion in a car, leaving behind condoms and money scattered around the gutted vending machine. The two men told hospital officials that their friend had fallen down the stairs, injuring his head. Suspicious of their story, the officials called the police. During questioning, police said, one of them admitted that the three had blown up the condom machine. Police said the three men apparently got into a car after triggering the explosion, but the 29-year-old did not close his door and was hit by debris when the machine exploded. [Daily Telegraph]
Lemmy, Motorhead frontman, dies aged 70 after cancer diagnosis –
Motorhead frontman Lemmy has died aged 70, two days after learning he had cancer, the British band has announced. Lemmy formed the rock group in 1975 and recorded 22 albums, including Ace of Spades, as he became one of music’s most recognisable voices and faces. The band said on its Facebook page: “Our mighty, noble friend Lemmy has passed away after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.” Lemmy was born Ian Fraser Kilmister in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1945. He lived in Anglesey, Wales, as a child and acquired the nickname Lemmy while at school, although he claimed to have had no idea where it came from. [BBC] Lemmy in 2005
Game of Thrones tops list of 2015’s most pirated shows –
For the fourth year running, fantasy series Game of Thrones has topped a list of the most pirated TV shows. According to Torrentfreak, the season five finale was illegally downloaded 14.4m times. More than half of those came in the week after its US premiere. The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory rounded up the top three, with 6.6m and 4.4m downloads respectively. Earlier this year, Game of Thrones broke a record when more than 258,000 users shared the show simultaneously. The HBO drama was mainly downloaded on BitTorrent. [BBC] Last year Game of Thrones was only downloaded 8.1 million times. Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones)
A Chinese official who sanctioned a dump of construction debris that led to a deadly landslide in the southern city of Shenzhen that killed at least 7 people and has left over 70 missing, kills himself by jumping from a building in the city’s Nanshan district, according to the South China Morning Post. (TIME)
A police officer storms the police headquarters in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and shoots dead three fellow officers, including a commanding officer. Authorities say Guarionex Candelario, 50, was arrested for the killings shortly afterwards and taken to hospital for minor injuries. (NY Daily News)
A U.S. grand jury decides not to bring charges against a Cleveland policeman over the killing of 12 year old Tamir Rice. (BBC)
Carrie Fisher heart attack –
Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher is currently in intensive care after suffering a massive heart attack on a plane from London to Los Angeles.Passengers performed CPR on the 60-year-old after she went into cardiac arrest on the United Airlines flight yesterday, TMZ reported. Actress Anna Akana was on board the aircraft when Carrie went into medical distress and she described the upsetting scene in a series of tweets. Akana wrote that the actress wasn’t breathing “for 10 minutes or so” and CPR was administered until the plane landed at LAX. Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd, and her beloved dog Gary were both spotted at the UCLA Medical Centre as the star received treatment. [Mirror] Fisher with fellow Star Wars actors Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, July 2015
An Afriqiyah Airways flight originating from Sabha, Libya, is hijacked and forced to make an emergency landing in Malta. Hijackers threaten to blow up the aircraft with grenades, but the standoff ends peacefully with all hostages released and both hijackers surrendering. (Chicago Tribune)
Arts and culture
Carrie Fisher, the actress best known for the role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, suffers a massive heart attack while on a flight and is rushed to a hospital near Los Angeles International Airport in critical condition. (Mirror)