Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Things To Know About Prince Harry’s Girlfriend

5 Things To Know About Prince Harry’s Girlfriend

5 Things To Know About Prince Harry’s Girlfriend

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:26 AM PDT

Ready for Royal wedding No. 2?

Prince Harry took his girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, to a charity event in London on Friday, the twentysomething's first official appearance by the prince's side. The pair also popped up at a rugby game on Sunday. The speculation is, Harry is preparing to pop the question and royal observers are already buzzing with excitement.

Bonas is a dancer, she brought the scrunchie back en vogue and she is a member of the royal family’s inner crowd. In fact, Princess Eugenie reportedly introduced the Leeds University graduate to Harry.

Want to know more about the lucky girl who may have won the prince’s heart? Watch the video above for details.

These Red Pandas Playing in the Snow Will Make Your Monday

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:24 AM PDT

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Facebook page recently posted these adorable photos of mother and daughter red pandas Bailey and Lin frolicking in the snow. According to the zoo’s website, red pandas’ thick, furry tails help shield them from the cold.

Photo by ChengLun Na PhD. / Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Photo by ChengLun Na PhD. / Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Photo by ChengLun Na PhD. / Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Photo by ChengLun Na PhD. / Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

(h/t Daily Mail)

Can Veronica Mars Please Fan Funders and Newcomers at the Same Time?

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:20 AM PDT

At the heart of it, most movies have three basic aims:

1. Be Good
2. Be Profitable
3. Be Good and Be Profitable

The much-discussed Veronica Mars movie, in theaters March 14, complicates matters by adding a fourth option: Make The Fans Happy. While that's hardly a new concept, especially in the modern movie era of franchise management and constant revivals of existing ideas and characters, the case could be made that it's never really been a core aim for a movie before.

Instead it's been a value add, something that certainly doesn't hurt — who better to act as unpaid viral marketers than the core fanbase, especially in the early days of production, after all — but could (and, traditionally, will) be sacrificed in favor of appealing to the masses if the two options are in opposition (See, for example, Star Trek rebooting instead of fulfilling hardcore fans' dreams and going with a follow-up to Star Trek: Nemesis or Man of Steel's manslaughter finale, which led to much uproar at time of release).

Disregarding the wishes of the hardcore fans isn't really an option for Veronica Mars, however; they're literally the ones responsible for the film being made thanks to the Kickstarter that funded production. It's the rare case when saying "we couldn't have done this without the fans" is not just lip service and good PR, but the literal truth. Because of that, some level of fan service — not this kind of fan service, thankfully — is almost certainly forthcoming.

This is where Veronica Mars runs into potential trouble, for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, there's the simple question of just how much fan service the movie should provide — and whether or not that's going to hurt the movie for newcomers.

It's already been revealed via promotional material, trailers and Kickstarter updates that almost every major character that survived the three-season-long television show (along with some minor ones, as well) will make an appearance of some kind in the movie, for example. For fans, this is a selling point: just like the high school reunion that serves as a McGuffin in the movie itself, they get the chance to catch up with what all those familiar faces have been up to over the last decade, with all of the potential for schadenfruede that brings with it.

For those who didn't spend an hour each week in Neptune, CA, of course, having quite so many characters show up and play roles of various levels of importance throughout the whole thing could make the movie appear too busy, or even outright confusing. For the movie to succeed on a level beyond nostalgia, it has to be more than the punchline to old jokes that half the audience has never heard before — but will those who put the money up for the movie in the first place settle for that?

That's the second problem: The fan appeal of the Veronica Mars movie wasn't simply the chance to see the characters again, but the chance of wish-fulfillment in the way those characters have developed both individually and in relation to each other. The love triangle between Veronica, Piz and perennial bad boy Logan was not only the engine of the last season of the show — Piz taking over the role of "alternate love interest" from the pining, flat Duncan, as fans of the show doubtlessly recall — but of much of the promotion for the movie, as well. Will Veronica and Logan get back together? Should they?

Just asking that question identifies the trouble: Not everyone agrees on the answer. In fact, if you polled the Mars faithful for their ideal "ten years later" scenarios for the majority of the cast, you'd doubtlessly get a number of different, likely contradictory, answers. That saying about being able to please all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all of time is about to be lived by the Veronica Mars crew. Funding the Kickstarter and offering the idea of a reunion movie? That was the "all the people, some of the time" part. The movie itself? Now we get to some of the people — well, you know the rest.

Reunions, as most people know by now, are problematic at best; anyone who's lived through a favorite band reuniting can attest to that. The distance between limitless potential and concrete reality can prove difficult for many to come to terms with, and leave the result almost more disappointing than the alternative of it never having happened. As it stands, the Veronica Mars movie might end up both being good and making money — but if it does so without fulfilling the expectations of those who not only wanted it the most but paid to make it happen, can it really be considered a success?

Men’s Rights Activists Didn’t Like Lena Dunham’s SNL Skit That Made Fun of Men’s Rights Activists

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Shocker alert: Lena Dunham has angered people on the internet.

The Girls creator hosted Saturday Night Live on March 8 — which happened to be International Women’s Day— and appeared in a skit called “Jewelry Party” (above). The skit, which also starred SNL cast members Cecily Strong and Mike O'Brien, featured a man accompanying his Venezuelan girlfriend to a jewelry party, where he was outed as a men’s rights activist in front of her feminist friends.

For the uninitiated, men’s rights activists (MRAs) belong to a somewhat amorphous grassroots movement in which men — and, surprisingly, a few women — advocate for, well, men’s rights on the grounds that anti-male discrimination is allegedly a widespread problem. While some MRAs focus on discrimination in child custody cases or female-on-male domestic violence, which are objectively worthy concerns, others push a more problematic agenda, such as arguing that sexual assault numbers are inflated. Not helping their cause, of course, is that fact that many MRAs also tend to rely on spewing sexist and misogynist vitriol as their modus operandi.

When real-life MRAs saw Dunham’s SNL skit portraying one of their own as a scrawny virgin with a mail-order girlfriend and a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, they were offended. Several Reddit discussions quickly popped up, where MRAs complained that the sketch was not only an inaccurate portrayal of their movement, but that it was also offensive and not funny.

In all honestly, it certainly wasn’t the funniest sketch SNL has done before. (There’s also some dubious racial stereotypes that more than a few MRAs have called out.) And many of the Reddit commenters were quick to point out that attacking Planned Parenthood or even reproductive rights has never been a part of their movement. As one commenter said, “the outright falsification of the core values and goals of the movement was disgusting and completely unwarranted.”

Of course, SNL is a comedy sketch show and it was clearly a parody of MRAs. It wasn’t meant to be the movement’s manifesto. What’s more, despite all the complaints about the skit being spiteful, many Reddit commenters undermined any potentially legitimate arguments by painting Lena Dunham, feminists and women in general as unattractive and humorless, proving again that MRAs are their movement’s own worst enemy.

Some choice comments ranged from the mildly off-putting (“Sounds like something written by a bitter first year women’s studies student“) to the completely unrelated (“Ironically, having now learned that women hold jewelry parties, my respect for their sex has declined even further“) to the utterly nasty (“A bunch of unattractive unfunny women impugning a man for being not an apex male“). Apparently, the irony of labeling a group of real-life actors “unattractive” while calling out their made-up characters for doing the same thing in a comedy skit escaped a few of the more enraged commenters.

And while a few commenters did take heart that their relatively obscure movement, which is largely relegated to the dark shadows of the internet, received any sort of mention at all on national television, the threads themselves likely won’t help their case. In fact, newcomers who stumble onto the Reddit discussion after seeing SNL are likely to read some hilariously unhinged views and realize why MRAs warranted a parody in the first place.

London’s Globe Theatre Is Bringing Shakespeare To North Korea

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:15 AM PDT

One London theatre may be about to discover whether there’s really something rotten in the state of North Korea.

The Globe Theatre in London confirmed Monday it will perform Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea next year on a tour through every country of the world, AFP reports.

“We have decided that every country means every country, since we believe that every country is better off for the presence of Hamlet,” the theatre said in a statement.

The "Globe to Globe" tour will mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, but its plans to perform in secretive North Korea has drawn skepticism from human rights activists.

Amnesty Intentional urged the Globe Theatre to "read up on the reality of the country before they get there," but stopped short of calling for the theatre to skip North Korea in its tour.

As AFP points out, there's a particular irony to performing Hamlet—in which the title character kills his uncle amid a royal family feud—in North Korea, where the regime of leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle and political mentor Jang Song-Thaek executed in December.


Edward Snowden Talks Privacy and Security at SXSW Interactive

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:13 AM PDT

Of all the hundreds of interviews, panels and other conversations happening at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, perhaps the most newsworthy one features somebody who didn’t make the trek to Austin. He had a good excuse: He’s NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who landed in Russia after releasing documents to reporters.

Snowden appeared via a videocast with Ben Wizner and Chris Soghoian of the ACLU, with questions submitted from the public via Twitter. It was also broadcast in two overflow rooms as well as over the Internet via livestream.

Technically, the video conference wasn’t impressive — the image was choppy and the audio was muddy, perhaps because they were routed through multiple proxies in the interest of security — but it was still compelling. It was, after all, one of the few opportunities we’ve had to hear from Snowden directly. And he appeared before a green-screen image of the U.S. Constitution — a tart, unspoken response to his critics.

Why did Snowden choose to speak before SXSW Interactive’s audience of techies? “They’re the folks who really fix things, who can enforce our rights through technological standards, even when Congress hasn’t taken steps,” he told Wizner. The NSA and its counterparts in other countries, he said, are “setting fire to the future of the internet. You guys that are in the room are all the firefighters. We need you to help fix this.”

Snowden emphasized that he isn’t opposed to government monitoring of individuals suspected of crimes, but he said that mass surveillance makes such targeting harder, not easier. He pointed out that the U.S. government failed to adequately act on warnings it received about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers accused in the Boston Marathon bombings, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber.

“We didn’t actually investigate this guy,” he said of Abdulmutallab. “We spent all of this time hacking into Google and Facebook’s back ends. What did we get? We got nothing.”

The tone of the discussion wasn’t all bleak. Snowden’s revelations have led companies such as Google and Yahoo to bolster their security measures, which helps protect online data from being watched by government eyes. But he said that encryption is still too tricky a subject for average consumers, especially when it involves nerdy products and services such as the Tor encrypted browser.

Speaking of the difficulty that reporter Glenn Greenwald had installing and using PGP encryption software when Snowden wanted to provide him with documents, Snowden said, “We want secure services that aren’t opt-in — it has to pass the Glenn Greenwald test. This is something that people have to be able to access, and really the way we interact with it isn’t good.”

“It’s a really complicated subject matter today, and that’s the difficulty,” Snowden said.

Still, “If you use end-to-end encryption,” he said, “your ISP and your communications provider can no longer spy on you by default…If there is a warrant against you, they’re still going to get you. But mass surveillance, you’ll be much safer.”

Unless the keys are compromised, encryption is effective, Snowden said, and “that’s going to continue to be the case until our understanding of math and physics changes on a fundamental level.” He said that his own case provided evidence for that stance: “The United States government has assembled a massive investigation team into me personally…but they still have no idea what documents were provided to the journalists…because encryption works.”

Snowden argued that the way government officals talk about privacy and security is part of the problem. “They’ve moved their verbiage away from public interest and to national interest, and we should be concerned about that. We risk losing control of our representational democracy.” He adamantly rejected charges from critics such as NSA Director Keith Alexander that his actions have made America less safe: “The government has benefited, the public has benefited, every society in the world has benefited.”

“Would I do this again? Yes, regardless of what happens to me,” said Snowden. “I took an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution, and I saw the Constitution being violated on a massive basis.”

Mothers Team Up to Fight Stand Your Ground Law

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:12 AM PDT

The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis are working together to end Florida’s infamous “stand your ground” law.

“These two moms are going to make positive change to make sure that ‘stand your ground’ doesn’t continue to happen,” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin told CBS News.

Stand your ground” laws allow people who fear for their safety to use deadly force against their agressor and override any legal obligation they have to retreat. Fulton and Lucia McBath—the mother of Davis—both lost their sons to men whose actions put the law center stage and sparked national debate, though they didn’t necessarily use the law as part of their legal defense. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012 and Davis was shot and killed by Michael Dunn during a dispute over Davis’ music volume. Martin was acquitted, while Dunn was convicted of attempted murder but the jury hung on more serious murder charges.

Fulton and McBath are helping to lead a protest Monday at Florida’s State Capitol for the repeal of stand your ground. They argue the law gives killers the excuse to “shoot and kill someone and then ask questions later.”

But Florida is preparing to expand the law to allow people who feel their life is in jeopardy to fire a warning shot, CBS reports. Proponents of this addition say it will protect people like Marissa Alexander, who says she fired a warning shot in 2012 that killed her abusive husband. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Alexander’s family is joining the march in protest of the law.

[CBS News]

VIDEO: How I Met Your Mother Actress Calls Finale Conspiracy Theory “Crazy”

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:06 AM PDT

How I Met Your Mother conspiracy theory spoilers below.

One moment on last week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother was enough to cause the show’s dominant conspiracy theory to blow up. Now, just as quickly, the theory seems to be deflating.

The theory is that the revelation that the Mother is dead or dying when Ted begins telling his story of meeting her will be the big twist in the March 31 series finale. The evidence was convincing — future-Ted crying over the idea of the Mother missing their daughter’s future wedding, plus the fact that the future kids are willing to sit through a decade-long story about their father’s dating life — and the outrage was real. TIME’s James Poniewozik described the possibility of such an ending as “whacking us with an emotional 2×4″ (in a bad way).

But the actress who plays the as-yet-unnamed Mother tells The Hollywood Reporter that that’s “crazy.”

(WATCH: 'How I Met Your Mother' Mom Didn't Know What She Was Getting Herself Into)

In a video interview about the upcoming end of the show — the full clip of which can be watched below — actress Cristin Milioti answers a question about a potential Dead-Mom-gate scandal. “That’s insane,” she says. “There are some crazy conspiracy theories… That is so crazy.”

Though Milioti says she has only ever seen the last episode of Lost, she clearly knows that many people were upset about the character death revelations on the similarly secretive show, and brushes off the controversial fan theory as something that wouldn’t fit with HIMYM‘s carefully crafted arc.

Then again, she never says “The Mother is alive” in so many words. Conspiracy theorists, take note:

Los Angeles Police Arrest Man in Severed Head Case

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:05 AM PDT

(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles police say they’ve solved the case of a severed human head found two years ago near the Hollywood sign.

Police said Monday they’ve arrested 38-year-old Gabriel Campos Martinez for the 2012 murder of 66-year-old Hervey Coronado Medellin of Los Angeles. Martinez was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday with the help of local authorities and is being held without bail while he awaits extraditing proceedings.

Two women discovered what turned out to be Medellin’s head while walking several dogs through a trail in Griffith Park. A cadaver dog named Indiana Bones and investigators helped find more body parts, including hands and feet, near the same area where the head was discovered.

Papier-Mâché Pandas Are Taking Over the World

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 11:04 AM PDT

1,600 pandas are coming home to Taiwan. Starting last month, the creatures gathered in Taipei, spilling onto the streets and into city gardens. Unfortunately for anyone who might want to adopt one of the fuzzy creatures for a pet, they're all made of papier-mâché.

The pride of pandas (there's no official word for a group of pandas because they're usually solitary creatures) was created by the French artist Paulo Grangeon. The exhibition has been touring the world, stopping in such scenic locales as Paris and Rome, but this is the first time it has been installed in Asia, where they are launching a tour.

Each papier-mâché sculpture represents a single panda that's left in the wild. The installation's purpose is to raise awareness about animal conservation in the panda's home country, but the googly-eyed creatures are also a reminder of why we love pandas so much: they're possibly the cutest animal on the planet.

If only the real pandas proliferated as easily as their papier-mâché counterparts, we wouldn't have a problem.


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