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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Palestinian Unity Government To Be Formed Monday

Palestinian Unity Government To Be Formed Monday


Palestinian Unity Government To Be Formed Monday

Posted: 31 May 2014 10:24 AM PDT

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the formation of a Palestinian unity government backed by the rival factions of Hamas and Fatah will be announced Monday.

Abbas told dozens of French pro-Palestinian activists on Saturday that Israel has informed him that it will shun such a government. The Islamic militant group Hamas is considered a terror organization by Israel and the West.

Abbas reiterated that the unity government is to consist of technocrats and follow his pragmatic political program. Abbas is the leader of Fatah, which has conducted intermittent peace talks with Israel for two decades.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Lone American Still Held in Afghanistan, Safely Returned

Posted: 31 May 2014 09:53 AM PDT

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier still in captivity in Afghanistan, was released and returned to U.S. special operations forces Saturday. Berghdal had been held since 2009, when he was captured in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province.

Berghdal was released in exchange for five Afghan Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, who are being delivered into Qatari custody.

According to a senior Defense official, the handover occurred at approximately 10:30 am Eastern time Saturday along the eastern Afghanistan border with Pakistan, and took place quickly without incident, peacefully and without violence. Berghdal was in the custody of 18 Taliban fighters and was ushered onto a waiting helicopter by U.S. special operations forces. Once aboard Berghdal wrote on a paper plate “SF?,” asking over the loud aircraft engines whether he was being rescued by special forces operators. The official said the troops replied loudly “yes, we’ve been looking for you for a long time,” at which point Berghdal broke down crying.

Bergdahl is currently being held at a U.S. forward operating base under the care of American doctors until he is cleared for further travel, at which point he will be transferred to Bagram air base.

A 23-year-old private first class at the time of his capture, Bergdahl was promoted twice during his captivity to the rank of sergeant and is now 28 years old. American officials believe he spent much of his captivity in Pakistan and are not sure when he was moved to Afghanistan for the transfer. The last video showing proof that Berghdal was still alive was seen in January of this year.

President Barack Obama called Berghdal’s parents Saturday morning to inform them of their son’s release. "We were so joyful and relieved when President Obama called us today to give us the news that Bowe is finally coming home! We cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son,” the Bergdahl family said in a statement. “Today, we are ecstatic!"

The transfer was not directly negotiated with the Taliban, but through the Amir of Qatar, officials said, whose help is being called “instrumental” to the agreement. Productive talks to bring about Berghdal’s release began only in the last several weeks.

The announcement comes days after President Obama announced that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan will end this year, pending a complete withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2016.

“Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years,” Obama said in a statement Saturday. “Sergeant Bergdahl's recovery is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Qatar is taking security precautions with the former Guantanamo prisoners to ensure U.S. safety is not compromised. “The United States government never forgot Sgt. Bergdahl, nor did we stop working to bring him back," Hagel said in a statement. The former detainees will be under a travel ban for a year.

Secretary of State John Kerry called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to brief him on the agreement Saturday, he said in a statement.

The White House is not providing further details on the deal. “While I cannot disclose all of the details of our discussions related to Sergeant Bergdahl, we appreciate the support of the government of Qatar, particularly the Amir, in helping to secure his release,” a senior administration official said Saturday.

 

Pharrell, Spike Lee Team Up For Live Concert

Posted: 31 May 2014 09:28 AM PDT

Pharrell Williams and Spike Lee are joining up for a live-streamed concert Saturday night in the latest American Express “Unstaged” hook-up.

Lee is directing Pharrell’s concert, which New Yorkers can catch at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater.

Other Amex performance pairings have included Kings of Leon and Fred Armisen; Vampire Weekend and Steve Buscemi; and The Killers and Werner Herzog.

The “Happy” singer and the Do The Right Thing director got together for a pre-show conversation that you can catch above. The ego stroking is sufficiently heartwarming.

“I’m sitting here with Spike Lee,” Pharrell says in the clip. “Nah, nah, nah,” says Lee. “I’m sitting here with Pharrell. It’s the other way around!”

Turkish Activists Mark 1st Anniversary of Protests

Posted: 31 May 2014 09:21 AM PDT

ISTANBUL (AP) — Hundreds of activists mobilized Saturday for demonstrations in Istanbul and other cities, defying a heavy police presence on the anniversary of nationwide anti-government protests that erupted last year.

Police blocked access to Istanbul’s main square, Taksim, and news reports said some 25,000 police officers and up to 50 anti-riot water cannon vehicles would be deployed around the city. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned activists to keep away from the square, saying authorities were under strict orders to prevent protests.

“I am calling on my people: don’t fall for this trap. This is not an innocent environmental action,” Erdogan said.

In late May and June last year, hundreds of thousands of Turks took to the streets denouncing Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic leadership and demanding more democratic freedoms. The protests were sparked by opposition to government plans to uproot trees at Taksim Square’s Gezi Park and build a shopping center.

Fanned by outrage over the often brutal reaction by police, the demonstrations soon spread to other cities and developed into Turkey’s biggest protests in decades. Thousands were wounded and at least 12 people have died in anti-government protests in the past year.

A group of architects, environmentalists and city planners who oppose Gezi Park’s development said its members would march to Taksim despite the ban.

“If you go there, our security forces are under strict orders, they will do whatever is necessary from A to Z,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul. “You won’t be able to go to Gezi like the last time. You have to obey the laws. If you don’t, the state will do whatever is necessary.”

Protests were also expected in Ankara, Izmir and other cities.

Ahead of the protests, CNN correspondent Ian Watson was detained briefly during a live a broadcast. He said that police had kneed him and that an officer later apologized.

A report this week by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said that more than 5,600 demonstrators were being prosecuted for involvement in the protests while no one responsible for the violence against protesters had been sentenced.

The Turkish authorities “are actively engaging in a witch hunt against those who participated in the protests or spoke out,” said the federation’s president, Karim Lahidji.

What Myths Do We Most Commonly Realize Are False in Our 20s?

Posted: 31 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Answer by Carolyn Cho, former recruiter, on Quora.

Since I recently turned 30, this is a particularly timely question for me!

Here are the myths I’ve let go of over the last 10 years:

1. Being in a happy relationship means that you will never again feel_______(insert depressed, lonely, scared, insecure, etc).
As an awkward girl who spent most of high school and college dateless, I often thought that being in a relationship would somehow “solve” all my problems. Thinking that being in a relationship will instantly solve your problems is a pipe dream. A happy, loving relationship is one life’s greatest joys, but it can’t solve the things you don’t like about yourself. You have to do that, with work.

2. Being good at school means you’ll be good at work. Achieving academically by no means guarantees workplace success. I’ve had to swallow a big humility pill as I watch former fellow students who struggled through classes I breezed through now massively outpace me in career achievement. Being a great student does not mean you’ll be great in the workplace. And that’s OK.

3. Physical fitness doesn’t matter, being thin matters. Being skinny does not matter. Being physically fit really, really matters. Eat lots of healthful food and get tons of exercise. Ignore the scale.

4. Everyone has to like you. Inevitably, someone will always dislike you. I wish I had figured this out a lot earlier and stopped trying so hard and worrying so much about it. I could have used all that time and put it to doing something far more fun and interesting, like learning a new language or playing the piano. Heck, watching Project Runway reruns would have been a better use of time.

5. Quit something when you fail. Just because you fail at something does not mean you should quit, especially if it gives you joy or stretches you mentally. Everyone fails. Keep trying.

6. Getting rejected is the worst thing that can happen. It really isn’t. In fact, it can be a really good thing. Whether it was getting dumped or getting fired from a job, looking back I can honestly say that rejection taught me far more and had long-lasting positive benefits beyond whatever successes I’ve had. Getting fired from my first office job made me realize that no one in the working world cared about my kickass 100 page honors thesis on Jonathan Franzen and that I better learn some real workplace skills, fast. Getting fired and waking up the next day as usual made me realize that failure isn’t the end of the world. Getting dumped taught me the difference between a good and a bad relationship, something I already knew inside but refused to accept until the bad relationship was over. Getting dumped made me a better person for the amazing man I get to be married to today. When rejection teaches you something new and positive, then that’s actually a pretty great thing.

7. Talking is more powerful than listening. I’m a lot quieter and more introverted these days and happier being so. Not all silence needs to be filled.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What myths do we most commonly realize are false in our 20s? More questions:

‘Gangnam Style’ Reaches Record 2 Billion YouTube Views

Posted: 31 May 2014 08:18 AM PDT

South Korea’s rougishly pudgy pop star Psy is ubiquitous online. If you’ve been alive over the past two years, then you’ve seen his viral music video “Gangnam Style” at least once. And if you’re like most people, probably two or three or many more times.

Between the skipping dance (something between the Cotton-Eyed Joe and a mime pretending to ride a horse) and the svelt, colorfully dressed dancers, there’s something irresistible about the video. And of course the song’s bubbly rhythms—”hey, sexy lady!”—are relentlessly catchy as well. And it’s undeniable: Psy has class.

Whatever makes the video work, it’s finally reached a record 2 billion total views on YouTube, less than two years after it was first uploaded. YouTube commemorated the milestone with little dancing Psys around the play count.

“2 billion views … they are very honorable and very burdensome numbers,” Psy said in a statement, Billboard reports. “With appreciation, I will come back soon with more joyful contents!!”

“Gangnam Style” was at the No. 1 on the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 for five weeks. It already held the record for the most-viewed YouTube video.

REVIEW: Ed Sheeran Multiplies His Appeal on x

Posted: 31 May 2014 08:03 AM PDT

Though he doesn't look the part of an international pop star and sex symbol, it isn’t hard to understand shaggy British troubadour Ed Sheeran's easy appeal. His chosen genre, the one that anchors all of his slight digressions into other realms of popular music, is broadly popular, easily digestible, and resilient: when the world ends, it'll be left to cockroaches and male singer-songwriters on acoustic guitars. But like many of the young people that buy his singles and albums, he's a polyglot, raised on folk, R&B, hip-hop and rock in equal measure and comfortable incorporating each of those genres into his compositions.

Sheeran rose to prominence thanks in part to his rap skills — he occasionally breaks out a verse, when not employing his smooth, woolly tenor — and even when he's sticking to a more traditional pop vocal mode, rap's influence on his delivery is clear: he crams syllables into lines where they barely fit thanks to his dexterity, and plays with rhythm and pace like it's second nature. That versatility, and a bit of Sheeran's everyman charm, helped to make his 2011 debut full-length +, and singles like "The A Team" and "Lego House," a slow-burning hit on both sides of the Atlantic. His follow-up, the simply titled x (that's pronounced "multiply," by the way), out June 23 on Atlantic Records, finds him taking even more concerted steps into genres other than acoustic pop-rock, and working with a host of distinctive producers who help to bend and shape his sound.

The album's most prominent collaborator is reigning chart king Pharrell Williams, fresh off a relatively successful solo album of his own and still riding a hot streak that began last year with Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." Pharrell co-produced x's lead single, "Sing," and one other track on the album ("Runaway"), both of which are obvious descendants of the lusty pop-R&B that launched Justin Timberlake to solo stardom over a decade ago; "Sing," in particular, is hard to imagine without recalling Timberlake's "Like I Love You," itself co-produced by Pharrell as part of the Neptunes. Sheeran does his best with these tracks, and his voice shines as it twists around his own guitar and Pharrell's beats, but ultimately his sale of the lyrical material at hand falls short. Newly free from the relative tyranny of NSYNC, the young Timberlake couldn't help but drip sex. Comparatively speaking, Sheeran is tame. The same problem plagues songs like the Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco-produced "Don't," a vicious takedown of a cheating lover, and the wine-addled "Bloodstream": these songs have an edge that Sheeran lacks, and the material falters for it.

Sheeran rounds into form when he uses his softness to his advantage, cocooning himself in layers of warm harmony and setting that slippery, surprisingly agile lyricism against slowly building arrangements. "Photograph," one of several songs on x written with Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid, rises from a tender, emotive piano melody and becomes a slowly stomping, lighter-ready stadium ballad; Sheeran helps bring it to life with smart use of detail and powerful imagery, two moves familiar from the work of his friend and tour-mate Taylor Swift. (When he closes the song by mentioning a stolen kiss "under the lamppost, back on 6th Street," you can almost hear the hearts young and old, beating and melting in a darkened arena.) "I'm a Mess" is another highlight, with Sheeran reaching deep and shredding his voice while soaring over luminous guitar chords. It's a simple song, mostly reliant on Sheeran's vocal skills and charisma to get over, but it works: when isolated and not made to press against ostensibly mature lyrical material, he displays a deft touch.

But the album's greatest moment by a country mile is relegated to its penultimate slot. "Thinking Out Loud" shares a lyrical spirit with One Direction's "Little Things," which Sheeran wrote for the boy band's 2012 record Take Me Home, but with what sounds like a few years' worth of experience added: it's an ode to the tiny things that drive love, a celebration of its magic, a fantasy of having grown old with a partner. Musically speaking, it's pure blue-eyed soul, warm and woodsy in the vein of Van Morrison, unabashedly romantic and built around a vein of richly toned guitar. Sheeran is the core, the starry-eyed dreamer. He sings to within an inch of his life. When the lust, anger, drugs, and drink fade, you hope this kind of love remains. When Sheeran focuses on the latter, his success comes into focus, and it begins to seem wholly justified.

4 Surefire Ways Apple Can Blow the Doors Off 2014

Posted: 31 May 2014 07:52 AM PDT

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

With over 15 years of hit products under Apple’s belt, it’s a bold statement indeed when one of it executives promises “the best product pipeline” is still to come. But that’s exactly what Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue did on Wednesday at the Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif. “We want to do a few really incredible things,” he said. “I believe certain products we’ve got coming are great.”

We’re not product maestros, but there are a few things Apple could do to make the rest of 2014 a stellar year.

Bring iBeacon into the home in a big way.

One of the biggest futuristic tech trends industry insiders salivate over is the so-called “Internet of Things,” in particular, home devices — TVs, thermostats, and even refrigerators — connected online to make them easier to manage. Last year, Apple introduced a technology called iBeacon that lets iPhones and iPads communicate with other devices via Bluetooth. The technology is still in its early stages. But it may be possible to use your iPhone to control all sorts of home electronics and appliances. One possible scenario? When approaching a TV, your iPhone automatically turns into a remote control that can turn the screen on and bring up show listings.

Release a huge Apple TV software update.

Many people are waiting impatiently for an Apple television set. But they’ll probably wait a while longer judging from comments by Cue that Apple is working on ways to fix the TV experience – but that the fix is “complicated.” Until that day comes, Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, suggests that Apple reinvent the way people use the current Apple TV, which requires users to open up different apps like Netflix or HBO and dive through their menus to find the shows they want. Instead, Rubin suggests a more unified experience that lets users search, view and play media from one set of menus.

More biometrics.

The iPhone 5s, with its Touch ID feature, remains the first and only Apple device that integrates fingerprint technology directly into the device. Expect Touch ID to find its way into the iPad, but imagine touch recognition applied across Apple’s entire hardware ecosystem including computers.

Thinner, faster, more efficient devices across the board.

Perhaps this is the e biggest no-brainer of them all. But if Apple is guilty of anything, it is in falling behind rivals in areas like screen size. Like it or not, smartphone screens are getting bigger – some easily push 5-inches – while the iPhone 5 and 5s remain at a comparably small 4-inches. Also, the well-received MacBook Air hasn’t been redesigned in years – and even the most sympathetic of gadget critics will admit the thin-and-light notebook line could use sharper screens. While such tweaks may not be what most people thought of when Cue made his bold statement, Rubin raises a fair point given ever-improving computer technology. “Over time, products are going to be better than they have been in the past. That could lead many companies to say that they have the strongest products in the pipeline than they’ve ever had.” Even, of course, if those companies aren’t truly innovating.

Here’s What You Can Actually Expect from Apple at WWDC

Posted: 31 May 2014 07:47 AM PDT

Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, starts on Monday in San Francisco. As usual, the company will open the week-long gathering with a keynote, likely to be packed with announcements and previews. WWDC is all about software, particularly the operating systems that power Macs, iPhones and iPads. But from time to time, the company also uses the event to showcase new hardware. There are tons of rumors about what will be unveiled this year; here’s what you can safely expect from the event:

Mac OS X 10.10
Apple’s mobile software got its first top-to-bottom overhaul last year. Out went the so-called skeuomorphic design championed by former software chief Scott Forstall. In came the sleeker, flat designs of Jonathan Ive. Now it may be the Mac’s turn to get a similar treatment.

iOS 8
Look for Apple to iterate on its major changes last year to the software that powers the iPhone and iPad. After a major overhaul, the company typically focuses on adding functionality and tweaks. Almost certainly up this time: changes to Apple Maps.

Beats
This will be the first time the company’s top executives will address fans since buying Beats Electronics and Beats Music for $3 billion. Chief Executive Tim Cook will likely address the purchase and may bring his two newest recruits—Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine—on stage.

VIDEO: CNN Reporter Detained in Turkey While Live on Air

Posted: 31 May 2014 07:19 AM PDT

A CNN reporter was detained in Turkey Saturday while filming a live news report on demonstrations marking the one-year anniversary of the Taksim Square protests.

Ivan Watson, the news channel’s correspondent in Istanbul, was in Taksim Square when he was approached by police officers and asked to show his passport. Watson displayed his press card to the police and the still-rolling camera before being pulled away by officers.

“Just a minute, just a minute, may I see your passport please,” a man asks Watson.

“We’re being detained right now,” Watson can be heard saying before the camera cuts out. “I’m being kicked.”

Watson said on Twitter that he had been released after less than an hour and that the police apologized for kneeing him.

Turkey is struggling with deep ideological divides and questions about free speech in the year since the Taksim Square protests. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was recently reelected, but many Turks remain deeply divided about his leadership after his response to a recent fatal mining incident in which hundreds were killed and his attempts to block Twitter after it was used to spread reports of corruption in his government.

Erdogan said Saturday that police would not permit demonstrations in Taksim Square on the one-year anniversary of the protests, reports Turkish news outlet Hurriyet. Nearly a dozen people across Turkey were killed last year during protests against what demonstrators said was the government’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

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