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Saturday, June 4, 2011

150,000 Gather to Commemorate China's Tiananmen Square Massicre

Huge crowds in Hong Kong turned out to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown of June 4, 1989, amid concerns that the human rights situation in China has taken a turn for the worse in the past year.
According to organizers, around 150,000 people attended the gathering at Victoria Park in Hong Kong. Local media reports say Hong Kong police, which have generally given far lower crowd estimates than those of the organizers, put the maximum number of attendees at 77,000.

Hong Kong Remembers Crackdown

Vincent Yu/Associated Press
Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong on Saturday marked the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, as China defies world condemnation with an ongoing roundup of political dissidents. Video courtesy of AFP.
Attendees packed Hong Kong's Victoria Park holding candles and singing songs in memory of those who lost their lives in the 1989 crackdown. In a sign of the issues on the minds of many attendees, vendors outside the park sold T-shirts with references to artist Ai Weiwei, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government who has been detained for more than a month, and the Jasmine Revolution—an allusion Tunisia's revolution and to calls for political reform.
Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China with its own laws, has held a June 4 commemoration every year since 1989. Such activities are illegal on the mainland.
Full story continues in the Wall Street Journal (click here).


Lessons Learned From Bond—James Bond

[SPY]Everett Collection
Secret agent man Sean Connery in 'From Russia With Love'

One of the greatest pleasures I get as a novelist is researching a field I wasn't previously familiar with, then incorporating the resulting material into my novels.

For "Carte Blanche," the newest James Bond novel, I soaked up a number of fascinating factoids about tradecraft—the subdued term for the techniques of espionage. My knowledge will have faded in a few years, but in the short term, I'm a bit of a spymaster. I thought I might share a few of the more useful tricks of the trade, in case you find yourself tapped (recruited) by a handler (the spy who supervises field agents) to help out the pros.

Apparently this happens quite frequently. At least according to Hollywood.

• To be a spy, you don't need to break into top-secret facilities, climb through air ducts and make your way through laser beam fields. Yes, agents do some of that acrobatic stuff, as well as sit in front of really neat high-def monitors, a la Jack Bauer in "24," while vacuuming up cellphone calls and emails. But a huge amount of "product," as intelligence is called, comes from open sources, information available to everyone, found in newspapers, on TV, in unclassified government, corporate and nonprofit reports and from observations in public. You can be sure that somebody in Russia's SVR, one of the KGB's successor agencies, is jotting down notes about this article even as you read it.

Battle over "free" movies on "Dish", Disney loses Round One

Fear not, Dish subscribers, you'll still get to watch "Toy Story 3" for free this weekend.
A federal judge denied Walt Disney Co.'s request for an injunction to stop satellite broadcaster Dish Network from offering its more than 14 million subscribers the pay TV channel Starz for free. Typically, Starz costs Dish subscribers about $13 per month, according to the distributor's website. Customers that were already paying for Starz  received other channels for free.
Dish started giving away Liberty Media's Starz earlier this year. The company said it was doing so as part of its 30th anniversary celebration. Starz was none too happy about this, nor was Disney, which sells its movies to Starz.
Last month, both Starz and Disney filed suits against Dish over the giveaway. Starz claimed Dish was violating the terms of its contract, and Disney argued that giving the channel away for free was hurting the value of its movies. Disney had asked for an injunction requesting Dish to stop giving the channel away while their suits play out in court.
In its suit filed in a Colorado District Court, Starz said its deal with Dish "does not permit Dish to simply give away its channels and content to its entire subscriber base." Starz said Dish was giving away the channel to placate customers who might be upset with other rate increases the satellite broadcaster has imposed. No trial date has been set with the Starz suit.
Disney filed its suit in U.S. District Court in New York City and charged that not only is the value of its movies being damaged, but that Dish's actions are hurting the studio's relationships with other networks and outlets that buy its content. Trial could start as early as December.
Dish, which declined to comment on the judge's dismissal of the Disney injunction request, has said previously that it "pays hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to distribute STARZ content to our customers, which includes the rights to a number of Disney movies, and our current distribution of Disney content on STARZ is permitted under our contract with STARZ."
Some industry observers say Netflix is at the root of the feud between Starz and Dish. Starz offers its content, including Disney movies, to Netflix, which Dish sees as a competitor, and that is what led to the giveaway, these people said.

Producers Police Movie Credits, FOX makes big bucks, The Cloud is ready and Disney to retool it's on-line world

Government approved. The Producers Guild of America wants a green light from the Justice Department before going ahead with its plans for a logo for end credits that indicate that the Guild has signed off on the producer credits in a movie. The move for a mark is driven by the PGA's idea that people who didn't actually produce shouldn't get credit. Those crazy kids! More from Variety.
Management has money. Fox sells out. Fox Broadcasting says it sold 80% of its commercial inventory for the 2011-12 TV season. The other 20% are held on and used for either make-goods or to sell during the season, hopefully at higher prices. Although Fox increased its rates by 10% and took in almost $2 billion, some rival networks -- particularly CBS -- are grumbling that Fox should have held out more dough. Analysis from the Los Angeles TimesNew York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
The Netflix of Gaming. OnLive, a service that streams video games over the Internet, unleashed a barrage of news releases Thursday that, put together, points to a broad attempt by the San Francisco company to become the Netflix of games. Among its many announcements, for example, is a universal game controller that can be used to play conventional video games on multiple devices, including Apple Inc.'s iPad and various digital television sets with the ability to communicate wirelessly with other devices using Bluetooth technology. This theoretically turns any device into a game console -- eliminating the need for a disc-based device such as Nintendo Co.'s Wii, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, at least for some types of games.
The cloud is ready. Apple Inc. has just sewn up its contracts with the four major record labels Thursday for a cloud music service, with agreements from music publishers to follow on Friday, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Dubbed iCloud, the service initially will be offered for a free period to people who buy music from Apple's iTunes digital download store, allowing users to upload their music to Apple's computers where they can then play from a Web browser or Internet-connected Apple device. The company plans to eventually charge a subscription fee, about $25 a year, for the service. Apple would also sell advertising around its iCloud service. The service will eventually include movies, games and may replace Apple's existing cloud based Mobile Me Services.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Disney plans to overhaul its website to make it a pipeline for its content. The latest "X-Men" movie should open in first place this weekend, but the franchise's take is expected to be the lowest of all entries. Betsy Sharkey on Mike Mills' "Beginners."