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.
Tough to chew –
Netflix is to release a documentary film in 2015 which affirms that Michael Rockefeller, the youngest son of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was eaten by cannibals in New Guinea in 1961.
Tornado chaos in south USA –
At least five tornadoes were reported in the southern United States, leading to four deaths and fifty people injured. The twisters also caused massive damage to homes, commercial buildings and vehicles. Mississippi was among the worst hit. If the tornadoes are confirmed, it will be the deadliest December tornado outbreak since 1953. [The Weather Channel]
Smithy OBE –
It’s announced that James Corden known for his role as Smithy in Gavin and Stacey, presenting Sky TV’s In A League of Their Own and now taking on hosting The Late Late Show in the US is to receive an OBE (Order of the British Empire) gong for his charitable work. Ruth Jones & James Corden
Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton separate –
Helena Bonham Carter has announces that she has split from the film director Tim Burton after 13 years together and having 2 children. Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter
Gloves off –
In the US Amazon and Walmart sell out of DVDs of Team America which parodied the former North Korea leader Kim Jong-il. The reason? Another film – The Interview – is about to get its cinema release after a major hacking situation at Sony. President Obama apparently approves of the delayed Christmas Day premiere. Kim Song, a North Korean diplomat to the United Nations, called the movie an ‘unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader.’
Cash grab –
In Hong Kong a van carrying HK$35m – about $4.5m or £3m – in used notes crashed on a motorway – cue dozens leaving their cars and grabbing a bundle. About HK$15 disappeared.
You’d let him win wouldn’t you? –
Prince Harry led his Sandringham workers team to a 7-2 victory in a football (soccer) match against local villagers in Scotland sponsored by the Black Horse Inn. Top royal endorsement. Prince Harry
Shaken and stirred –
In Russia vodka prices have been rising so much that President Vladimir Putin calls on his government to curb price rises on the spirit. Half a litre costs 220 roubles (about $4.10)
Feel good moment –
A homeless man is given $100 and hidden cameras follow him into a liquor store where he buys food which he shares with other homeless people. 12 million hits on YouTube (see Video of the Day)
Pub crawl goes viral –
And a fancy dress pub crawl in Old Conwyn, North Wales featuring made up props from the classic BBC comedy show Only Fools and Horses went viral(ish) on YouTube
Christmas Truce remembered –
100 years since the famous Christmas truce when soldiers from England and Germany fighting in France laid down their weapons and played games of football. The English Football Association has held a number of events to commemorate the event.
This is going to go well –
In the US, 300 independent cinemas screen “The Interview”, a film depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, turned up to a screening of the movie at a theater in Los Angeles. Seth Rogen
Sony hit again –
Hackers calling themselves Lizard Squad take down Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox servers following threats to do so if the film was released.
Putin cancels Christmas –
Russian President Vladimir Putin cancels Christmas, at least for his government, but setting a meeting on Christmas day. Vladimir Putin
Video of the Day –
UEFA marks 100th anniversary of World War One truce
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
NYPD arrest go-slow –
Police in the New York Police Department (NYPD) have dramatically reduced the amount of arrests and other actions since the shooting of two of their officers on December 20th 2015. Citations for traffic violations have fallen by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587; summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination are down by 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300; parking violations drop 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241 and drug arrests by cops dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.
I “emoji” you –
The most popular word of 2014 is not actually a word at all but a symbol meaning love – the ’emoji’ heart symbol was the most widely used character in blogs, Twitter and Facebook and in 250,000 global news outlets in the last 12 months, according to a list compiled by the Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas.
3 wheels on my airliner –
A Virgin Atlantic passenger plane landed safely at London’s Gatwick Airport after discovering a problem with part of its main landing gear. Virgin flight VS43 was travelling from Gatwick to Las Vegas when it had to return and land on slightly less than the full number of wheels.
No such thing as bad publicity –
The Interview, the film about the spoof assassination of the North Korea Leader becomes Sony’s biggest download film ever. It’s been downloaded more than two million times since its release on 27 December, making back a third of its $44m (£28m) budget.
South Carolina policeman charged after black man shot dead –
A white South Carolina police officer has been charged with murder after video emerged of him shooting a black man, running away from him. State investigators arrested North Charleston police officer Michael Slager on Tuesday after viewing the mobile phone video of the shooting. Authorities say victim Walter Lamer Scott was shot after the officer had already targeted him with a stun gun. #WalterScott is top trending hashtag Worldwide and UK (See Top Twitter Trends) [BBC]
The Interview: Activist ‘sends DVDs into N Korea by balloon’ –
A South Korean activist says he has flown thousands of copies of controversial Sony film The Interview over the North Korean border. Sony initially pulled the film after a hacking attack and threats to attack cinemas which were screening it.Lee Min-bok said he had carried out the launches at night four times since January, most recently on Saturday. Mr Lee, a defector from the North, said he had tied the DVDs to balloons along with bundles of US dollars and leaflets criticising Mr Kim’s regime. He told AFP news agency: “I launched thousands of copies and about a million leaflets on Saturday, near the western part of the border.” [BBC]
Narendra Modi: Bus tours to India PM’s Vadnagar tea stall –
A private tour operator in India plans to lay on daily bus trips to the town where PM Narendra Modi was born and worked at his father’s tea stall.
The day-long tour of Vadnagar in western Gujarat state has run once a week since starting in February and has proved a big draw with visitors.
The operator expects tens of thousands to sign up for the tour this summer. Mr Modi was Gujarat chief minister for more than a decade before his landslide general election win last year. The tour of the BJP leader’s birthplace includes visits to the street where he once lived, his former school, the railway station where he sold tea and a local lake where, according to reports, he once “caught a baby crocodile” [BBC]
Hatton Garden raiders plunder jewels worth up to £200m from safety deposit boxes –
Jewels worth tens of millions of pounds were stolen during a raid on hundreds of safety deposit boxes in Hatton Garden, London’s most exclusive jewellery district. Burglars are believed to have used heavy cutting equipment to cut through the roof before abeiling down a lift shaft to access the vault over the Easter weekend. They disabled the alarm system, leaving them four days to plunder around 300 boxes in the vault over the Bank Holiday. Former Flying Squad chief Roy Ramm said he “would not be surprised” if the stolen gems were worth £200 million, although he said the figure would probably never be declared in full. (See List of the Day) [Daily Telegraph]
Apple releases Mac app to store photos in iCloud –
Apple has released a new photo storage app for Macs, which can automatically store full-resolution images online. The iCloud Photo Library syncs photos across devices while managing storage. Users can opt to keep original high-res photos in the cloud with lower-res version on a Mac, PC or iOS device. But critics highlight recent online photo security breaches and say Apple’s storage fees are much higher than some of its competitors.
The iCloud Photo Library app responds to how much storage is left on each device. It automatically downgrades the resolution of images held on a device as its storage space starts to run out – starting with the oldest images first – while ensuring they are still of suitable quality to be viewed full-screen. [BBC]