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.
Grand Theft Auto deer causes chaos in game world –
An indestructible, teleporting deer is causing chaos in a version of the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) V game. Artist Brent Watanabe has programmed the virtual deer to wander around the large San Andreas game world. In its first few days of wandering, the deer has been caught in a gangland gun battle, invaded a military base and been chased by the police. More than 200,000 people have tuned in to watch the deer via a video stream on the Twitch site. [BBC] CGI deer in Grand Theft Auto
Microsoft chatbot is taught to swear on Twitter –
A chatbot developed by Microsoft has gone rogue on Twitter, swearing and making racist remarks and inflammatory political statements. The experimental AI, which learns from conversations, was designed to interact with 18-24-year-olds. Just 24 hours after artificial intelligence Tay was unleashed, Microsoft appeared to be editing some of its more inflammatory comments. The software firm said it was “making some adjustments”. “The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement. As it learns, some of its responses are inappropriate and indicative of the types of interactions some people are having with it. We’re making some adjustments to Tay,” the firm said in a statement. [BBC]
The body of Ukrainian lawyer Yurij Grabovsky, who defended two ex-Russian soldiers charged in Eastern Ukraine with terrorism and waging an aggressive war against the country, is found on the grounds of a former farming collective in Zhashkiv, Ukraine. Grabovsky went missing from Kiev on March 9. Information from one of two men being held in this case led police to the remains. (Reuters)(Jurist)
Netflix acknowledges it’s been slowing its video transmission on wireless mobile carriers around the world, including Verizon and AT&T, for five years to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps.” Last week, these carriers were accused of this. The company told The Wall Street Journal that T-Mobile or Sprint users weren’t affected because, “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.” In May, Netflix plans to shift some of that control to viewers themselves. (C|net)(PC Magazine)
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