Day: April 8, 2017


Film Academy rules ineligible documentary series like 'O.J.'

In what has already been nicknamed “the O.J. rule,” the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Friday declared documentary series ineligible for the Academy Awards.

The new regulation, announced as part of a handful of tweaks in Oscar voting, follows the Oscar win in February for Ezra Edelman’s acclaimed 467-minute-long “O.J.: Made in America.”

While few quibbled with its merits — “O.J.” was one of the most acclaimed films of the year — some argued that it was better qualified for the Emmys (where it’s expected to also compete) than the Oscars. Edelman maintained he conceived and crafted “O.J.: Made in America” as a long film. It ran in its entirety at film festivals and in a brief theatrical run, though most saw it in a five-part series on ESPN.

The academy specifically outlawed “multi-part or limited series.” Questions of eligibility will be resolved by the documentary branch’s executive committee.

The film academy also announced changes to the best animated feature category that could favor larger studio blockbusters over smaller independent or foreign films. The category’s nominating committee will now be open to the entire film academy, not just the animation branch.

That could make it more challenging for smaller films like recent Oscar nominees “The Red Turtle,” ”My Life as a Zucchini,” ”Boy and the World” and “When Marnie Was There” to get noticed. Though some box-office hits like last year’s “Finding Dory” have failed to land nominations, the category has still been overwhelmingly dominated by major studio releases. Disney’s “Zootopia” won this year, following wins by “Inside Out,” ”Big Hero 6″ and “Frozen.”

Voting in the nominations round will also now be preferential (like the best-picture voting) instead of based on a numerical system.

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Pregnant woman scammed out of more than $80G

A pregnant woman has spoken out of her horror after fraudsters funneled more than £65,000 from her account in a sick scam – with her bank unable to get the money back.

Claire Pearson, who is heavily pregnant with her first child, said she had been contacted via text message by “Santander” – with the inheritance from her late father drained from account just minutes after she spoke to the fraudsters.

The 38-year-old had called the number provided in the text message, which had been sent through on the same thread as the single mum had received other messages from her bank on, then tricked into giving the man access to her account.

Just minutes after the call, Claire realized something wasn’t right and quickly called her bank – horrified to watch £71,700 ($88,400) taken out of her account as she waited on hold.

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Santander’s fraud team were able to recover £5,800 ($7,100) but have said that no further action will be taken.

Her bank has since said they were sympathetic to victims of scams and were able to recover £2,253.13 ($2787.80) for the mum – but were no longer investigating.

The Surrey woman now been left without the savings, just three weeks from giving birth to her first baby.

Distraught, the mum said that in hindsight, she realized she had been tricked as she tried to sort the matter out over the phone while rushing out the door to buy a pram.

She said: “I’ve got baby brain at the moment, I had a cold, I was trying to get out the door to get a pram.

“I hadn’t thought much of it but as I was driving down the road, I thought, ‘no, I’m not comfortable with this’ and I pulled over and rang them quickly.

“I found the number and was put on hold, it was the most frustrating five minutes of my life. I was watching money go out of my account.

“I was at my wit’s end.”

Story first appeared in The Sun.

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KILLER KNOWN Swedish police identify suspect as Uzbek national

The man suspected of carrying out the Stockholm terror attack is a 39-year-old Uzbekistan who was known to security services, Swedish officials confirmed Saturday.

Four people were killed and 15 others injured when a hijacked beer truck plowed into a crowd of Friday afternoon shoppers in central Stockholm.

Authorities are confident the man in custody is the person who carried out the terrorist attack.

Anders Thornberg, head of the Swedish Security Service, said “the suspect didn’t appear in our recent files but he earlier has been in our files.”

Swedish police chief Dan Eliasson described the suspect as a “marginal character” and also said police found something in the truck that “could be a bomb or an incendiary object.”

“We are still investigating it,” he said.

What police found was a homemade bomb, sources told Sky News which also reported Saturday that according to Swedish media reports the attacker “burned” himself while trying and failing to detonate it.

Other media reported that the device was found in the driver’s seat, but it was not known whether it was a bomb.

Police conducted overnight raids around Stockholm but declined to say if they were hunting any more suspects in the case. They said they have been questioning people in connection with the case but no one else has been detained. They said the suspect had been on their radar before but not recently, and did not explain why authorities apparently had not considered him a serious threat.

Swedish prosecutor Hans Ihrman said the person detained had been formally identified as a suspect “of terrorist offenses by murder,” and should face a pre-trial custody hearing before midday Tuesday.


Hundreds of people gathered at the site of the crash Saturday afternoon, building a wall of colorful flowers on the aluminum fences to keep the people away from the broken glass and twisted metal. Some hugged police officers near the crash site.

Visiting the attack site, Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria laid roses on the ground Saturday and wiped away a tear.

“We must show a huge force, we must go against this,” she told reporters.

The stolen beer truck traveled for more than 500 yards along a main pedestrian street known as the Drottninggatan before it smashed into a crowd outside the upscale Ahlens department store. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. A Swedish newspaper reported that the suspect posted videos of ISIS atrocities on Facebook and “liked” a picture showing the bloody aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

The Aftonbladet newspaper quoted a friend of the detained man as saying the suspect was a father of four and worked in construction.

“He never talked politics or religion,” the friend said. “The only thing he talked about was getting more jobs so he could send money home to his family.” 

Nine adults and one child are still in the hospital, according to health officials. Four of those are seriously injured and the other six, including the child, have minor injuries.

Many in Sweden were shocked by the attack, questioning whether Swedish society — considered democratic and egalitarian — had failed in some way.

Although it was not clear how long the suspect had been in Sweden, the Scandinavian country prides itself on welcoming newcomers.

Still the country’s open-door immigration policy and comparatively heterogeneous culture has led to frictions, sometimes urban unrest, especially in areas where many long-time immigrants feel disempowered.

In 2015, Sweden received a record 163,000 asylum-seekers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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'IT WAS JUST CRAZY' 1 dead, 2 wounded after shooting at Florida mall

A man shot and wounded two people, and then killed himself in a shooting Saturday at a luxury fitness center in an upscale shopping mall, The Miami Herald reported.

Cops responded to the Village of Merrick Park mall in Coral Gables and put restaurants, shops, and department stores Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus on lockdown, the paper reported.

The shooter opened fire inside the Equinox fitness center around 1 p.m.

Shed Boren told the paper he had just left, and heard the shooter was a disgruntled trainer.

“I heard from my trainer that it was a trainer that had been let go,” he said. He said the victims were the general manager and a trainer.

Their conditions were not known.

Miami-Dade Police said on Facebook that it was “investigating a shooting at the Shops at Merrick Park. The scene is secure and no one is in danger at this time. We will continue to update with further information.”

The crowded patio at Yard House, a nearby sports bar, emptied when the shooting began, the Herald reported.

“People rushed inside,” Yard House general manager Tim Hartog said. “People were hiding under tables. It was just crazy.”

A reporter at the scene saw a dozen police cars parked outside the mall, which was ringed with crime scene tape. 

The mall, which is typically busy on a Saturday, appeared to have been evacuated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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2 inmates charged with killing 4 in South Carolina prison

Two convicts each serving a life sentence for killing a mother and her child have been charged with murder in the strangulation deaths of four inmates inside a South Carolina prison.

Arrest warrants released early Saturday say 35-year-old Denver Simmons and 25-year-old Jacob Philip lured each inmate into a cell at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia on Friday morning.


The warrants say the men worked together to choke all four inmates. Two of the victims were also beaten and stabbed with a broken broomstick.

The warrants gave no reason for the attack or how long the killings took. Prison officials are investigating the attack and have not commented. The warrants say there is video.

It wasn’t known if the inmates had lawyers.

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US regulators accuse Google of underpaying female workers

Government investigators looking into how Google pays its employees have accused the tech giant of shortchanging women doing similar work to men.

A U.S. Department of Labor official disclosed the agency’s allegations during a Friday court hearing in San Francisco.

“We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Janette Wipper, a Labor Department regional director, testified, according to a report published by The Guardian.

Google said it vehemently disagreed with the charges, which the Mountain View, California, company said it hadn’t heard until Wipper’s court appearance.

“Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap,” Google said in its statement.

Google and other technology companies have been trying to improve hiring practices that have historically doled out most of their technical jobs to white and Asian men. Their efforts to strike a better balance have been mostly unsuccessful so far.

For instance, only 19 percent of Google’s technology jobs are held by women. Overall, nearly one-third of Google’s more than 70,000 workers are women.

The Labor Department’s probe evolved from a lawsuit filed in January seeking to bar Google doing business with the federal government unless the company complied with an audit of its employee-compensation records. Google has said it has turned over some of the requested records, but withheld other information that it believes would invade its workers’ privacy.

While Google and its peers have been disclosing embarrassing sexual and racial imbalances in their workforces for the past few years, the technology industry so far has kept its compensation practices a closely guarded secret.

The Labor Department is now scrutinizing Silicon Valley for patterns of pay and hiring discrimination under its powers to vet companies that bid for lucrative government contracts. Earlier this year, the Labor Department also sued Oracle, alleging that the business software maker routinely pays white male workers more than their female and non-white counterparts for comparable jobs.

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'A LESS SAFE CITY' Sessions warns against Baltimore police agreement

Attorney Jeff Sessions warned that the agreement negotiated under the Obama administration to overhaul the troubled Baltimore police force may result in “a less safe city.”

His warning comes after a federal judge approved the agreement despite the harsh objections from the Justice Department.

President Trump’s attorney general said in a statement Friday that the Baltimore agreement shows “clear departures from many proven principles of good policing that we fear will result in more crime.”

“The decree was negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration and signed only days before they left office,” Sessions said. “While the Department of Justice continues to fully support police reform in Baltimore, I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.”

U.S. District Judge James Bredar signed the so-called consent decree Friday, a day after a hearing to solicit comments from Baltimore residents, calling the plan “comprehensive, detailed and precise.”

He denied a request to delay the signing to give the Trump administration more time to review the agreement. At Thursday’s hearing, a Justice Department attorney expressed “grave concerns” about the plan, aimed at rooting out racist practices.

The consent decree was negotiated during the closing days of the Obama administration after a federal investigation found rampant abuse by Baltimore police, including unlawful stops and use of excessive force against black people.

The investigation was prompted by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken during a lurching ride in the back of a police van, where he had been left unbuckled, his hands and legs shackled. Gray’s death touched off the worst rioting in Baltimore in decades.

In a memo made public earlier this week, the Trump Justice Department signaled that it may retreat from the consent decrees that have been put in place in recent years in such cities as Cleveland; Ferguson, Missouri; Miami; and Newark, New Jersey.

The Justice Department can appeal the judge’s decision, but it would have to show the judge made an error or abused his discretion.

That would be difficult to prove, said Jonathan Smith, a civil rights attorney in the Obama Justice Department who oversaw negotiations with troubled police departments.

Justice Department lawyers also could try to modify the consent decree, but the burden is high, requiring them to show there has been a substantial change in the facts or the law, Smith said.

City officials, including Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, have voiced their support for the agreement.

Mayor Catherine Pugh disputed the notion the decree will hurt the fight against crime.

“I believe that it makes Baltimore safer,” she said. “I think by building and training our police officers in ways to de-escalate violence, to work with our communities, to have cultural diversity training and have the right kind of tools they need to know what they can do in certain areas of our community … I think it’s improved policing.”

The homicide rate in Baltimore immediately spiked after the riots over Gray’s death, leading some residents to accuse officers of taking a hands-off approach for fear of increased scrutiny.

The soaring crime rate has not relented. In the first three months of 2017, the city recorded 79 homicides, compared with 56 for the same period the year before.

Baltimore’s agreement calls for additional training for officers and discourages them from arresting people for minor offenses such as traffic infractions or loitering. It also says officers can no longer detain someone simply for being in a high-crime area.

Following Gray’s death, the department began undertaking some reforms, including outfitting officers with body cameras and updating the use-of-force policy.

Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore police union, has complained that the agreement was rushed and that the union wasn’t involved enough in the negotiations.

The national Fraternal Order of Police said it was disappointed by the judge’s decision to move forward.

“But Baltimore officers will endeavor to give the citizens of Baltimore the best public safety service possible given the constraints imposed upon the department by the decree,” said Jim Pasco, the senior adviser to the group’s president.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Russia busts bold sub move

Has Russia created the most powerful nuclear submarine in the world? Silent. Stealthy. Lethal.

Russia recently unveiled the Kazan, a new Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine that can destroy subs, surface ships and even entire bases. The country is touting the Kazan as its most powerful sub … EVER.

The launch of the sub was held in northern Russia at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. Russia released the details through its state news agency TASS.

Marking a return to Cold War submarine patrol levels, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov also noted Russian submarine crews spent more than 3,000 days on patrol in 2016.


Russia plans to have seven of these powerful submarines in play within 6 years.  The attack subs will join 6 new stealth submarines in the fleet, nicknamed “black holes” because they are so hard to detect.

It is expected that the Kazan can strike targets 1,500 miles away and conduct missions for 100 days carrying a crew of approximately 90 sailors.

What kind of weapons does it carry?

The Kazan sub can carry 300 torpedoes. Each of the ten 533mm torpedo tubes has an ammunition load of 30.

In addition, the sub will carry eight Oniks and Kalibr cruise missiles.


These long-range Kalibr cruise missiles were deployed for the first time in combat during the Russian campaign in Syria, according to Russian officials. In November 2015, the Russian Defence Ministry released footage described as the Rostov-on-Don diesel-electric stealth submarine firing missiles at targets in the country.

Kalibrs are said to be able to hit sea targets about 220 miles away and ground targets more than 1,500 miles away. Russia has said that the missiles are so precise that they will hit a target within about 10 feet.

To put that into context, this submarine could be stealthily submerged in the waters between Greenland and Canada. From there, it could theoretically launch a Kalibr missile that would be able to reach and strike New York City.

U.S. submarines use powerful Tomahawk missiles that have a similar range.

What does it look like?

The Kazan is about 456 feet long and about 43 feet wide. This sub is a beast. On the surface, it displaces 8,600 tons. When it is submerged underwater, it displaces about 13,800 tons.


The sub can travel at speeds of up to about 31 knots and can reach depths of around 20,000 feet below the surface.


The submarine is nuclear powered and harnesses 43,000 horsepower from a single-shaft steam turbine nuclear power unit.

What can subs be used for?

Submarines are potent weapons in a nation’s arsenal. They can be used for attacks against enemy subs, ships and assets on the ground, as well as in the air. These stealthy state-of-the art weapons can also be harnessed for other missions, such as surveillance.

In fact, they are even used to carry, and stealthily insert, special operations teams into hostile areas in a covert way.


Listen to a Navy SEAL explain what it is like inside a submarine on missions and reveal how submarines shoot them out of torpedo tubes.

And subs are a platform for nuclear weapons.

Rise of Russian Submarines 2.0

A number of recent international submarine scuffles have made it into the public domain.

In November 2015, a Russian sub was spotted off the coast of Scotland and the RAF scrambled in response.

In another example, the following year Russia claimed a Dutch sub was spying in the Mediterranean and that two of its ships had chased it away.


The Arctic is one area where submarine scuffles will likely intensify. A race to control the Arctic has already been long underway with Russia building up its forces there.

Submarines will continue to play a fundamental role in Russia’s strategic objectives there. Russian officials have not been shy about making statements on how more subs will be joining the fleet in the area.

Why are things escalating under the water there?

As the ice melts and recedes it opens up opportunities. For example, a faster shipping route between Europe and Asia could open up. And of course, there will be newly accessible, significant natural resources like oil and gas. These are just two massively lucrative and motivating factors.


The U.S. has a formidable submarine fleet that includes attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines and guided missile submarines.  The Navy deploys three classes of attack subs: the Los Angeles, Seawolf and Virginia. All of these subs can perform a range of missions from surveillance through to striking a target from a great distance with Tomahawk cruise missiles.  

Ohio Class Ballistic (SSBN) Missile submarines, known as “Boomers,” have a strategic nuclear deterrence mission and can operate underwater for months. 

Allison Barrie consults at the highest levels of defense, has travelled to more than 70 countries, is a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees and now the author of the new book “Future Weapons: Access Granted”  covering invisible tanks through to thought-controlled fighter jets. You can click here for more information on FOX Firepower columnist and host Allison Barrie and you can follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie.

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Famed NYC bakery's immigrant workers defy Trump

Workers at a famed New York bakery who face a deadline to produce immigration papers are instead defying the government in public — at President Donald Trump’s Manhattan home.

The 31 employees of the Tom Cat Bakery will be fired and could be deported if they cannot prove by April 21 that they’re working in the country legally.

They’re rallying Saturday afternoon in front of Trump Tower.

The Department of Homeland Security set the deadline for the workers to show their employment documents.

Many have worked on the gourmet bakery’s production line for much of its 30-year existence.

Tom Cat covers a whole city block in Queens, churning out artisanal bread 24 hours a day and delivering it around in the New York City area.

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4 killed, 4 injured, 2 missing in house collapse in Poland

An apartment house collapsed Saturday in southwestern Poland, leaving four people dead, four injured and two others missing, authorities said.

Scores of firefighters with dogs were searching the rubble of the building in the town of Swiebodzice (Shvyeh-‘boh-tchi-tseh), according to Daniel Mucha, regional spokesman for the firefighters. He said the collapse of two floors of the three-floor building might have been caused by a gas explosion.

Regional governor Pawel Hreniak said the search-and-rescue operation was expected to continue through Sunday.

“I confirm a fourth victim, an elderly man,” Hreniak told reporters. “But another resident, an elderly lady, contacted us to say she was away from the house and was fine.”

Still, firefighters looking for two more survivors said there were no sounds yet coming from the building’s bricks and broken wood.

The governor of Swiebodzice, Bogdan Kozuchowicz, said the pre-World War II building was recently renovated and had been in good technical condition.

The injured were taken to hospitals in Swiebodzice and in Wroclaw. One survivor, identified only by her first name Stanislawa, told TVN24 that she was “miraculously saved.”

“I was in the kitchen and suddenly it was dark and full of debris and some broken wooden planks,” she said from her hospital bed in Swiebodzice. “I got on top of those planks and started calling ‘Help! Help!’ Two firefighters came and pulled me out by the arm.”

She said her husband was resting on the bed at the time of the collapse.

“I don’t know what has happened to him,” she said, her voice trembling.

With her teenage son, also a survivor, at her side, she said the family had lost everything.

The head of the medical rescue workers, Wojciech Kopacki, said two of the dead were children.

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