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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rap Mogul Suge Knight Shot in L.A. Night Club

Rap Mogul Suge Knight Shot in L.A. Night Club


Rap Mogul Suge Knight Shot in L.A. Night Club

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 10:57 AM PDT

Rap entrepreneur Marion “Suge” Knight was shot early Sunday in a crowded night club but is expected to survive, Los Angeles police said.

Knight, who is the founder of the influential Death Row Records and who helped steer Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg to success, was one of three club patrons struck by gunfire around 1:30 a.m. at the 1OAK nightclub on West Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard, the Associated Press reports.

The two other victims, a man and a woman, were being treated at local hospitals and also expected to survive.

The shooting occurred the night before MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday evening in Inglewood. MTV said the party was not affiliated with its awards event.

The R&B star Chris Brown co-hosted the party at the nightclub with Pia Mia and was inside the club at the time of the shooting, but wasn’t hit by gunfire.

Knight has been engaged in a rap feud with East Coast artists over the past two decades and has been in and out of jail due to related parole violations and physical attacks.

[AP]

Watch Robin Williams Hilariously Explain How He Was So Good at Improv

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 08:56 AM PDT

Robin Williams’ improvisational style—effervescent, manic, freewheeling—was greatly admired among his fellow comedians and adored by audiences. He brought an exuberant energy to the stage and invented characters with a lightning quickness. But how did he do it? What was his trick?

In a session on Inside the Actor’s Studio in June 2001, host James Lipton asked Williams what makes his gift come to life.

“Are you thinking faster than the rest of us?” says Lipton. “What the hell is going on?”

Williams launches into a seven-minute improvisational schtick, playing characters from an Amish prisoner to Kung-Fu master, to an automobile at a car wash, to an Oedipal psychotherapist’s patient. It’s less of an explanation of his talents than a full-throated demonstration of them, and it’s hilarious and wonderful.

“That’s as close as I could explain,” says Williams.

Russia Lashes Out At U.S. ‘Monopoly’ on Humanitarianism With Aid Convoy to Ukraine

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 08:16 AM PDT

On Friday morning, as hundreds of Russian trucks trundled across the border into Ukraine, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin gave a briefing to explain why Moscow was sending the convoy without permission from the government in Kiev. The decision had caused such panic in the West that an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council had been scheduled Friday afternoon to discuss what Ukraine called a “direct invasion.” Churkin batted these concerns away, and only once gave a hint as to convoy’s larger purpose.

The telling moment came in response to a question from Voice of America, whose correspondent asked Churkin about the claim that the trucks were being used to resupply pro-Russian rebels fighting against government forces in Ukraine. "With baby food?," Churkin countered. In Russia's version of the story, the trucks are loaded with humanitarian aid, nothing more dangerous than power generators, buckwheat and medicine. But Churkin wasn't finished. "You are from Voice of America," he told the reporter, who began to say her press affiliation is irrelevant. "Please, wait for me to say the next thing," Churkin interjected. "The United States do not have monopoly to humanism, you know? We are all human. So if you are trying to question our humanism, I would resent that."

The following day, when all the trucks packed up and drove back across the border into Russia, it became clear that breaking the West's "monopoly on humanism" (Churkin meant to say “humanitarianism”) had a lot to do with the convoy's objectives from the start. It was not meant to resupply the rebels in Ukraine; Russia has been doing that for months without resorting to elaborate diversions and decoys. Nor was the convoy’s sole mission to deliver aid, as many of the trucks were mostly empty. It was rather meant to show that Russia, much like the West, now claims the right to violate the sovereignty of another nation on humanitarian grounds, and there's not much anyone can do to stop it.

Russia's been couching its invasion of Ukraine in these terms from the start. On March 18, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the region of Crimea, he argued in a speech before the Russian legislature that the move was necessary to protect the peninsula's ethnic Russians, who he claimed were under threat from the "nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites" that took power in Ukraine in February. It was, in other words, a humanitarian mission to protect an ethnic minority, Putin said, much like the Western bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 carried out to protect the people of Kosovo from slaughter and persecution.

But Putin’s argument was thin. While Kosovo had indeed been the site of a vicious ethnic conflict, there was not a single documented case of persecution against Russians in Crimea, nor of neo-Nazis taking power in Kiev. But Putin insisted on the parallel. For the West to claim that Kosovo and Crimea are different, he said, "is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow."

As the convoy of Russian trucks prepared to cross into Ukraine on Friday, Moscow brought similar arguments to bear. Churkin pointed out that the U.N. Security Council in July had passed a resolution allowing for humanitarian aid to be delivered to rebel-controlled parts of Syria without the government's consent. "We cooperated with that," Churkin said. "So I don't see how with a straight face they can argue against this move of Russia." The convoy to Ukraine, he argued, was simply following the precedent that the West had set in Syria a month ago.

The apparent pleasure Russia takes in calling out such double standards was, of course, not the only purpose of the convoy. Many civilians in eastern Ukraine are indeed desperate for humanitarian assistance, having been cut off from electricity and water supplies for weeks and often running short on food. So the Russian aid was certainly welcome in the besieged city of Luhansk, which Ukrainian forces have been bombarding for weeks.

But the suspected military aims of the convoy were badly overblown. On Saturday, the Ukrainian security council claimed that before returning to Russia, the trucks were being used to haul away equipment from Ukraine's weapons plants, including a bullet factory in Luhansk. This wouldn't make a lot of sense. Not only does Russia have little need for Ukrainian bullets, but pro-Russian rebels have been in control of those factories for months. If they wanted to dismantle and send them away to Russia, they could have done that easily and quietly, without attracting the scrutiny that has followed Russia's humanitarian convoy all along its winding path to Ukraine.

If the convoy did have a military purpose, it would likely have been to act as a tripwire for the Ukrainian military. Russia could simply have parked the trucks near the rebel positions in Luhansk, and if Ukraine's cannons had destroyed them, Russia would have a fresh excuse to invade. The risk of triggering such a counter-offensive would have discouraged the Ukrainian army from firing its favorite weapons in the area – the notoriously inaccurate multiple rocket launchers it has been using to fight this war. The army's advance on the city could thus have been halted, and the conflict temporarily frozen in place. But by ordering the trucks to pull out of Ukraine on Saturday, Russia robbed the rebel fighters of this vital military advantage.

Instead, Russia has decided to use the trucks to set another precedent. If the West can cite humanitarian concern as the reason for bombing Yugoslavia, then Russia will use it as an excuse to invade Crimea. If the West can send aid to Syria without asking the government, then Russia will do the same in Ukraine. It hardly matters that these crises and conflicts bear little resemblance to one another or that Russia has done a great deal to fuel Ukraine’s crisis in the first place. What matters to Russia is the ability to hijack a well-worn Western narrative that Russia has both resented and envied for years. Now, with this convoy of half-empty trucks, Putin has once again shown that he can harness the language of humanitarianism in excusing interventionism. It isn’t his first time, and it probably won’t be his last.

Iran Says it Downs Israeli Drone Near Nuclear Site

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 07:41 AM PDT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said Sunday its forces shot down an Israeli drone as it approached an Iranian nuclear site, without offering further details. Israeli officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The statement comes as Iran negotiates with world powers over its nuclear program and hard-liners press moderate President Hassan Rouhani to demand more concessions before limiting its atomic capabilities. Israel has not ruled out taking military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities if its capability to build an atomic weapon progresses.

The Guards issued a statement Sunday on its website saying its forces fired a missile at the drone as it neared its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. The statement did not say when it shot down the drone, nor did it elaborate on how the Guards knew the drone was from Israel.

Iran’s nuclear program has been the target of espionage and sabotage efforts in the past. In 2010, the so-called Stuxnet virus temporarily disrupted operation of thousands of centrifuges, key components in nuclear fuel production, at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Iran says it and other computer virus attacks are part of a concerted effort by Israel, the U.S. and their allies to undermine its nuclear program through covert operations. Israel has never commented on the allegations but is widely believed to have been involved in the Stuxnet attack.

Since then, Iran has also said that it discovered tiny timed explosives planted on centrifuges but disabled them before they could go off. Authorities now claim the Islamic Republic is immune to cyberattacks.

Meanwhile, world powers and Iran continue to negotiate on a final deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. A deal struck last November saw some sanctions eased in exchange for Iran limiting its uranium enrichment.

The West fears Iran may be able to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity and medical research.

Iran has said it captured several American drones that violated the country’s airspace in the past. In 2011, Iran said it captured an advanced CIA spy RQ-170 Sentinel drone and later reverse-engineered it.

Men More Likely to Make Dumb Decisions at U.S. Open

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 07:10 AM PDT

This year’s U.S. Open, which starts August 25, is sure to surprise. The defending men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn from the tournament due to a wrist injury. Does Roger Federer, who won five U.S. Open titles in a row from 2004-2008, have one last run in him? Will Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic take his first title since 2011? Will a new player, like Milos Raonic, the 6’5″ Canadian big-server who’s looked strong in the hardcourt tune-ups, break through?

On the women’s side, Serena Williams is the wildest of wild-cards. She’s the two-time defending champ and still number one in the world. But she’s been strangely inconsistent this season, and the U.S. Open is her first Grand Slam appearance since Wimbledon, site of her bizarre appearance at a doubles match with her sister. The sport is still buzzing from that incident, in which a dazed Serena couldn’t serve the ball over the net. It was equal parts strange and scary.

This year’s Open is pretty unpredictable. But if a new academic study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sports Economics, holds serve, this much is guaranteed: the men’s players will embarrass themselves more often than their female counterparts.

The study — conducted by economics professors from Deakin University in Melbourne and Sogang University in Seoul — examined line-call challenge data for 331 professional men’s matches, and 149 women’s matches, from 2006-2008. The major finding: as the competition got tighter, men were more likely to screw up. During set tiebreakers, female players were more likely to make the correct challenge call, and men more likely to make an incorrect call. (There’s a risk to making a challenge — if the Hawkeye system shows the ump was correct, you lose a challenge and the potential to correct a future call. In the U.S. Open, players are allotted three challenges, plus one extra during the tiebreak, per set.)

What’s more, during tiebreaks, 34% of men’s challenges are “embarrassing” — defined by the researchers as questioning a correct call when the ball is more than 50 mm off the line. Only 9% of women’s challenges are “embarrassing,” a statistically significant difference. Men are more likely to make these stupid challenges when the ball is on the other side of the court, which is a riskier call since the net impedes their view. The higher a man’s ranking, the more likely he is to make an embarrassing line-call challenge. For women, the opposite holds true: the higher the ranking, the more prudent the decision to challenge a call.

The authors chalk up these gender differences to overconfidence, pride, and shame. Men are more prone to cockiness, and think that their perspective is always correct, even when the naked eye can see that a ball is in or out, they say. Men also possess a disproportionate amount of pride. They can’t bear to lose, and are more susceptible to making an irrational attempt to reverse an umpire’s judgment. “It’s an ego thing,” says tennis great Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles.

And if the crowd, and millions watching on television, see them making an embarrassing challenge, men won’t feel as much shame as women. They don’t see the same downside to screwing up. “Guys just don’t care as much about losing challenges,” Navratilova tells TIME. “Women are more concerned about being embarrassed.”

Or, as the authors of the study put it, “at crucial moments of the match, such as tiebreaks . . . male players try to win at all costs, while female players accept losing more gracefully.”

Northern California’s Napa Valley Rocked By Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 06:38 AM PDT

Updated at 1:20 p.m.

At least 87 people were injured early Sunday morning after the largest earthquake to hit California’s Napa Valley in 25 years struck near the Bay Area.

The 6.0-magnitude quake struck at 3:20 a.m. local time near American Canyon, about 6 miles southwest of Napa, at a depth of 6.7 miles. The earthquake is the largest to strike the Napa Valley area since the Loma Prieta earthquake almost 25 years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a tweet:

A Northern California hospital treated more than 87 patients in the wake of the earthquake, the Associated Press reports. Three people were critically injured.

Widespread power outages in Napa and Sonoma were recorded and historic buildings in downtown Napa were damaged, CBS Local San Francisco reports. The town’s library and the historic Chinese laundry building were badly damaged, water mains had burst, and at least two homes were lit ablaze.

The foundation under Highway 37 was damaged between Interstate 80 and downtown Vallejo, and the road was shut down at Sonoma Boulevard to inspect for structural damage. A separate bridge entering American Canyon was damaged and will be closed.

Several injuries have been reported due to broken glass.

Governor Jerry Brown said Sunday morning that California had mobilized multiple resources to respond to the quake. Brown later declared a state of emergency following the quake.

“My Office of Emergency Services has been on full activation since early this morning and is working closely with state and local emergency managers, first responders and transportation officials to respond to impacts to residents and critical infrastructure,” Brown said. “These public safety officials are doing all they can to help residents and those living in affected areas should follow their guidance and instruction."

Some California residents, meanwhile, made the best of the situation:

The USGS said that there is a 54% chance of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock in the next seven days, and a 5 to 10% chance that an earthquake of equal or even larger magnitude will strike in the next week. Weak aftershocks are likely in the coming days.

The causative fault of the earthquake is unknown, but the USGS said it suspected the Browns Valley section of the West Napa fault.

Israeli Airstrike Levels 7-Story Building in Gaza

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 05:56 AM PDT

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli airstrikes leveled a seven-floor office building and severely damaged a two-story shopping center in the Gaza Strip early Sunday, signaling a new escalation in seven weeks of fighting with Hamas.

The strikes in the southern town of Rafah came just hours after Israel bombed an apartment tower in Gaza City, collapsing the 12-story building with 44 apartments. Around 30 people were wounded in the strikes, but no one was killed, Palestinian officials said.

The targeting of large buildings appears to be part of a new military tactic by Israel. Over the weekend, the army began warning Gaza residents in automated phone calls that it would target buildings harboring “terrorist infrastructure” and that they should stay away.

A senior military official confirmed that Israel has a policy of striking at buildings containing Hamas operational centers or those from which military activities are launched. The official said each strike required prior approval from military lawyers and is carried out only after the local population is warned.

However, he said, there was now a widening of locations that the military can target. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss the matter with reporters.

Speaking ahead of Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Gaza residents to keep their distance from Hamas militants.

“I call on the people of Gaza to immediately evacuate any structure that Hamas is using to commit acts of terror,” he said. “Every one of these structures is a target for us.”

In the 12-story apartment tower, the target was a fourth-floor apartment where Hamas ran an operations center, according to Israeli media. In the past, Israel has carried out pinpoint strikes, targeting apartments in high-rises with missiles, while leaving the buildings standing. However, this time a decision was made to bring down the entire tower, according to Channel 10, an Israeli TV station.

The military declined immediate comment when asked why it collapsed the entire building instead of striking a specific apartment.

Meanwhile, Gaza militants continued to fire rockets and mortar shells at Israel, including at least 10 on Sunday, one of which wounded three people on the Israeli side of the main Gaza crossing, the military said. The Erez crossing is used by journalists, aid workers and Palestinians with Israeli permits to enter or leave Gaza.

That was in addition to more than 100 on Saturday, most aimed at southern Israel.

Elsewhere, five rockets were fired from Syria and fell in open areas in northern Israel. It was not immediately clear whether they were fired by pro-government forces or rebel groups.

Amid persistent violence, Egypt has urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume indirect talks in Cairo on a durable cease-fire, but stopped short of issuing invitations.

Several rounds of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas have collapsed, along with temporary cease-fires that accompanied them. The gaps between Israel and the Islamic militant group on a new border deal for blockaded Gaza remain vast, and there’s no sign either is willing to budge.

The Israeli military said it had carried out some 20 strikes on Gaza since midnight Saturday. Gaza police and medical officials reported eight fatalities.

In Rafah, Israeli aircraft bombed the seven-story Zourab building, which houses an office of the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. Witnesses said the building was leveled and that the strikes caused severe damage to nearby shops, homes and cars. It was not immediately clear if anyone was wounded or killed.

Another strike hit a nearby shopping center with dozens of shops, sparking a fire that gutted the two-story building and wounding seven people. After daybreak Sunday, smoke was still rising from the site as shop owners inspected the damage. Windows and doors had been blown out in nearby buildings.

The military said the two buildings were attacked because they housed facilities linked to militants, but did not provide details. Twenty-two people were wounded in the strike on the tower in Gaza City.

Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra, who confirmed the casualty figures for the strikes, said two people were killed in a pair of airstrikes near a coastal road on Sunday, including one on a group of people coming out of a mosque after morning prayers.

Two more fatalities were registered when a motorcycle following a car evacuating the wounded from the strikes was targeted, he said.

Another man was killed in an airstrike on a car, and an 18-month-old infant and a 17-year-old were killed in an airstrike on an apartment building in Gaza City. Three people were killed in an airstrike on a house in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, police said.

The U.N. estimates that more than 17,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair since the war began on July 8. In some of the attacks, family homes with three or four floors were pulverized.

However, the weekend strikes marked the first time large buildings were toppled.

Since the fighting began, Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes at Gaza, while Gaza militants have fired close to 4,000 rockets and mortars, according to the Israeli military.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, including close to 500 children, have been killed, according to Palestinian health officials and U.N. figures. Israel has lost 64 soldiers and four civilians.

Israel says it is targeting sites linked to militants, including rocket launchers, command centers and weapons depots. The U.N. says about three-fourths of the Palestinians killed have been civilians.

With the war showing no signs of winding down, educational officials in the territory said they were delaying the start of both U.N. and government-run schools. Classes in both were supposed to begin Sunday.

The U.N. said it would begin a gradual back to school program this week “to help students and teachers start to transition into a new school year.”

“Despite the difficult circumstances, the (U.N.) stands by the refugee committee here in Gaza,” said Scott Anderson, deputy director of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees in the territory. “Even though we can’t start the school year as we would normally it is very important that the children have structure in their lives and we will continue their education by any means possible.”

The nearly two-month Gaza war stems from the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank by Hamas operatives in June, which triggered a massive Israeli arrest campaign in the West Bank, followed by an increase in rocket fire from Gaza.

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert Level From Volcano

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 05:50 AM PDT

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland has lowered its aviation alert level to orange from red, saying there is no sign of an eruption at the Bardarbunga volcano.

The Civil Protection Department says seismic activity continues at the subglacial volcano, which has been hit by thousands of earthquakes over the past week.

Iceland had raised the alert Saturday to red, the highest level, warning that an ash-emitting eruption could be imminent.

6.0 Earthquake Shakes Northern California

Posted: 24 Aug 2014 04:52 AM PDT

SANOMA, Calif. (AP) — Officials say an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 has been reported in California’s northern San Francisco Bay area.

Leslie Gordon of the U.S. Geological Survey says the tremor struck at just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday about 10 miles northwest of American Canyon, which is about six miles southwest of Napa. The USGS says it’s the largest tremor to shake the Bay Area since the 1989 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake.

The tremor set off car alarms and had residents of neighboring Sonoma County running out of their houses in the middle of night. Power was knocked out in some areas.

The USGS says the depth of the earthquake was just less than seven miles, and numerous small aftershocks have occurred in the Napa wine country.

A member of Napa County dispatch tells The Associated Press that there has been one report of structural damage, but additional details were not available.

There was no immediate report of injuries.

Taylor Swift Finally Explains Why She’s a Feminist and How Lena Dunham Helped

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 01:02 PM PDT

Taylor Swift’s stance on feminism has been hotly discussed since early in her career: her lyrics and persona have been scrupulously analyzed for evidence (or lack thereof) of an incipient feminist vein. When asked in a 2012 interview with the Daily Beast whether she was a feminist, Swift answered, somewhat evasively, “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

Well, the debate over whether one of our era’s most renowned pop stars identifies as a feminist appears to have finally been put to rest.

“As a teenager, I didn't understand that saying you're a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities,” Swift said in an interview with the Guardian. “What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it's been made to seem like something where you'd picket against the opposite sex, whereas it's not about that at all.”

In fact, it’s Swift’s friendship with the indefatigable Lena Dunham that appears to have swayed her view. According to the Guardian, Dunham and Swift became friends when the creator of Girls sent the pop singer a direct message over Twitter that said “Can we be friends please?” Things pretty much went naturally from then on.

“Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realize that I've been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so,” Swift said.

[Guardian]

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