Box Office Preview: ‘Ouija’ Calls on Spirits to Defeat Gun-Toting Keanu Reeves

Pre-Halloween entry Ouija looks to win the North American box office race this weekend ahead of shoot-‘em-up pic John Wick, Keanu Reeves‘ first film to hit theaters since the ill-fated 47 Ronin in December 2013.

Ouija, based on Hasbro’s seance board game, is expected to open in the $18 million to $20 million range. Universal is erring on the low side ($18 million), while rivals think it could cross $20 million. John Wick is tracking to earn far less, or a muted $7 million to $8 million. The male-skewing Wick, however, could overperform, thanks to stellar reviews and a berth in Imax theaters.

Read more Michael Bay conjures ‘Ouija’ movie

Blumhouse Productions, home of the microbudget horror film, and Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes produced Ouija for Universal in tandem with Hasbro. The film, targeting teenagers and younger adult females, follows a group of friends who uncover the dark powers of the Ouija board when trying to summon their recently deceased friend’s spirit. Universal’s marketing campaign included organizing a screening and seance at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Stiles White directed the movie, which stars an array of young television actors, including Daren Kagasoff and Bianca A. Santos. 

Among critics, John Wick has certainly improved Reeves’ standing, and currently boasts a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But whether the movie will work at the box office is another question, although positive word-of-mouth could give it strong legs, both in North America and overseas. Lionsgate acquired rights to the movie, so it has limited financial exposure.

Read more ‘John Wick': Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe Talk “Fantasy” Drifting and Gun Fu Stunts

Directed by Chad Stahelski, the R-rated action film stars Reeves as an ex-hitman who comes out of a peaceful retirement to hunt down the gangsters who have taken everything from him. Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Willem Dafoe also star.

Also this weekend, Theodore Melfi‘s St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray, expands nationwide after opening two weeks ago in select theaters, earning just under $1 million to date for The Weinstein Co.

A slew of high-profile films open at the specialty box office, including Lynn Shelton‘s Laggies, starring Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell, and Gregg Araki‘s White Bird in a Blizzard, starring Shailene Woodley. Both films played at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and were produced by Anonymous Content.

Read More Watch the Short That Convinced Edward Snowden to Trust ‘Citizenfour‘ Director Laura Poitras

Following its world premiere at the New York Film Festival earlier this month, Laura Poitras‘ high-profile Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour goes out in five theaters.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/74ztNHgboTQ/story01.htm

U.K. Box Office: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Drop-Kicks ‘Gone Girl’ From Top Spot

Gone Girl’s two-week run at the top of the U.K. box office was brought to an abrupt end by a group of reptilian martial-arts experts named after Renaissance artists.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took the crown in its opening week, earning $7.7 million compared with Gone Girl’s $3.8 million. David Fincher’s adaptation of the best-selling book, starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, has now earned a total of $22.9 million in the U.K.

Read more ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Spurs Boom in Turtle Sales, Illegal Smuggling

Last week’s second-highest-grossing film, The Maze Runner, slipped to the fourth spot with $2.4 million, while last week’s No. 3, Annabelle, retained its position, earning just $11,000 more than The Maze Runner did.

The second-highest new entry of the week was Nicholas Sparks‘ romantic drama The Best of Me, starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, which claimed the fifth position, taking in $1 million.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/-EGq1iw1vqs/story01.htm

Global Box Office: ‘Gone Girl’ Races Past $200M; ‘Annabelle’ Scares Up $166M

David Fincher‘s Gone Girl has raced past the $200 million mark at the global box office, where it will soon overtake the filmmaker’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ($232.6 million) and The Social Network ($224.9 million).

Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, even has a shot at approaching $300 million worldwide, although that won’t be enough to match The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($333 million) or Seven ($327.3 million), which rank as Fincher’s top-grossing movies, respectively, not accounting for inflation.

Read more David Fincher Cast Ben Affleck in ‘Gone Girl’ After Googling His Smile

For the weekend, Gone Girl took in $20.2 million from 58 markets overseas for a foreign total of $94.7 million and a global total of $201.6 million. While the 20th Century Fox and New Regency film is doing best in Europe — the U.K. leads overall with $23.2 million — it has surprised in many Asian markets.

New Line and Warner Bros.’ horror prequel Annabelle likewise remains a strong global player, finishing Sunday with an impressive $166.1 million in total ticket sales, including $95 million overseas. Annabelle, costing just $6.5 million to make, earned another $19.2 million internationally for the weekend.

Still, it was neither of those films, nor Dracula Untold, that topped the weekend box-office chart offshore. Instead, the crown went to Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The quirky superhero tentpole, still playing in China and a smattering of other territories, took in $23.1 million to jump the $400 million mark internationally for a worldwide total of $732.6 million.

Read more ‘Annabelle’ Director John Leonetti Talks About Shooting on a Haunted Set

Better yet, Guardians became the No. 3 Marvel title of all time behind The Avengers ($1.5 billion) and Iron Man 3 ($1.2 billion).

Universal and Legendary’s origins pic Dracula Untold came in No. 2 overseas, earning $22.5 million from 58 markets for a foreign total of $95.7 million, more than double its early North American take of 40.7 million. (Dracula Untold fell 58 percent in its second weekend domestically.) Its global cume is $136.4 million.

Thanks to a late rollout in Europe, Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came in No. 4 internationally behind Guardians, Dracula Untold and Gone Girl. (Annabelle rounded out the top five.) Turtles took in a hearty $20 million from 33 territories for a foreign total of $185.4 million and a global haul of $375 million. In Europe, the U.K. led with an impressive $7.9 million, followed by France ($4.1 million), Germany ($3.8 million) and Spain ($1.5 million).

Read more ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Debuts Wiz Khalifa-Led Rap Single, TV Spot (Video)

Turtles has yet to open in China and Japan.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/HJDA5s4XMTY/story01.htm

Specialty Box Office: ‘Birdman’ Soars to No. 2 Theater Average of 2014

In a case of life imitating art, Birdman soared in its bicoastal debut for former Batman star Michael Keaton, who plays a washed-up superhero movie star trying to rehabilitate his career by launching a show on Broadway.

The dark comedy, from director Alejandro G. Inarritu, grossed an estimated $415,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a whopping screen average of $103,750, the best showing so far this year after Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which posted a record-breaking theater average of $202,792 earlier this year. (This year’s other indie hit, Boyhood, posted a screen average of $77,524 when launching in five locations in July.)

It’s also one of the best showings in two years if Sunday’s estimates hold. Birdman, hoping to be a prominent awards player, now has to hold up as it wings its way into other top markets.

Read more Michael Keaton on Getting ‘Spooked’ by Oscar Buzz After Nearly 40-Year Career

Fox Searchlight and New Regency partnered on the film, starring Keaton opposite Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone.

“I think to see him in this part was really gratifying for people,” said Searchlight distribution chief Frank Rodriguez.

Keaton’s box office record has been decidedly mixed over the last two decades since starring in Batman Returns in 1992 and Batman in 1989.

Birdman isn’t Keaton’s first indie effort. He both directed and starred in the 2008 drama, The Merry Gentleman, which quickly disappeared, opening to $74,981 in 24 theaters and topping out at $347,000.

Two years earlier, Keaton played the lead in indie film Game 6, which fared even worse, opening to $9,610 from four theaters for an average of $2,402. Game 6 also starred Keaton as an aspiring playwright, although in that film, his character sets out to kill a critic who skewered his last play.

Read more New York Film Fest: ‘Birdman’ Cast on Superheroes, Theater and How “Being a Celebrity Is S—”

Rodriguez said Birdman‘s strong opening was the culmination of several factors, including stops at the Venice, Telluride and New York film festivals, and a massive publicity blitz by the cast in the days leading up to the movie’s release.

“It’s also a cinematic triumph,” said Rodriguez, in reference to Inarritu and Gravity cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki‘s decision to make the movie seem as if it was shot in one long take.

While an ode to Broadway, Birdman‘s top-grossing theater was the Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles, followed by the Angelika Film Center in New York, the Landmark in Los Angeles and Lincoln Square AMC in New York. Next weekend, Birdman opens in an additional 18 markets, including San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Boston, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas.

Elsewhere at the specialty box office, Roadside Attractions and Justin Simien‘s satirical dramedy Dear White People enjoyed a strong start, earning $338,000 from 11 theaters in select markets for a location average of $30,702.

Dear White People, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, follows four African-American students at an Ivy League university whose lives converge when controversy erupts over an African-American themed Halloween party thrown by white students. The film stars Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell and Kyle Gallner.

Read more ‘Dear White People’ Director on Making a Comedy About Race and Spike Lee’s Heroism

Elsewhere, Alex Ross Perry‘s 2014 Sundance entry Listen Up Philip, starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce, opened in two theaters, grossing $24,291 for a so-so location average of $12,146 for Tribeca Film.

Among holdovers, Bill Murray‘s comedy St. Vincent expanded into a total of 68 theaters in its second outing, grossing $685,000 for a location average of $10,074 and a cume of $836,982.

St. Vincent is working very well in the suburbs, so we are going to pull the trigger next weekend and go wide,” said TWC’s Erik Lomis. “People are embracing it because it’s a feel-good movie. There’s a lot of heavy stuff in the market.”

Fox International’s co-production Bang Bang celebrated the weekend by becoming the top-grossing Bollywood title of all time in North America, not accounting for inflation. The film earned $155,000 from 108 theaters for a domestic total of $2.6 million, surpassing last year’s Kick ($2.5 million).

Read more Imax to Screen Bollywood Remake ‘Bang Bang!’ in India

The Metropolitan’s The Met: Live in HD broadcast its second opera of the season, Mozart‘s The Marriage of Figaro, on Saturday, taking in $2.1 million from 900 North American screens.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/zmkAvDGQXTM/story01.htm

Box Office: Brad Pitt’s ‘Fury’ Conquers Competition With $23.5M Weekend

Thanks to an army of older males, David Ayer‘s Fury won the North American box office battle with $23.5 million from 3,173 theaters, toppling Gone Girl from the top spot and delivering one of the best openings of all time for a World War II war movie, not accounting for inflation. It’s also another win for star Brad Pitt.

Fury is a career best for Ayer. As fate would have it, the year’s other high-profile WWII drama, the upcoming Unbroken, is directed by Pitt’s wife, Angelina Jolie.

Sony, QED International and LStar Capital spent $68 million to make Fury, featuring Pitt as a battle-hardened Army sergeant in command of a Sherman tank and its five-man crew as they attempt to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany (Sony is aggressively marketing the film to veterans). The film, earning an A- CinemaScore, also features Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs and Scott Eastwood.

Read more Brad Pitt to Toast Veterans at ‘Fury’ Washington Premiere

While Fury played heavily to males (60 percent), Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer noted that females, likely lured in by Pitt, made up a healthy percentage. “It’s really resonating with all audiences,” he said. Overall, 51 percent of the audience was over the age of 35.

Strong reviews, along with the successful U.S. launch, should bolster Fury‘s showing overseas, where it begins rolling out next weekend.

In 2009, Pitt starred in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds, which lays claim to the No. 2 opening of all time for a WWII war title ($38.1 million) after Pearl Harbor ($59.1 million). Fury ranks No. 4 behind those two titles and Saving Private Ryan ($30.6 million).

Holdover Gone Girl — jumping the $100 million mark domestically and the $200 million mark globally — edged out new family entry Book of Life to take the No. 2 spot domesticaly (both are from 20th Century Fox). Gone Girl fell just 33 percent to $17.8 million from 3,241 theaters for a total $107.1 million. Overseas, Gone Girl took in another $20.2 million for a foreign cume of $94.7 million and worldwide haul of $201.8 million.

Read more ‘Gone Girl’ Cast on David Fincher’s Pranks, Multiple Takes

By the end of Halloween weekend, Gone Girl will have surpassed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) to become Fincher’s top film of all time in North America.

Book of Life, produced by Guillermo del Toro and fueled by Hispanic moviegoers (40 percent), came in No. 3 with a solid $17 million from 3,071 theaters. Fox Animation and ReelFX co-produced the $50 million movie, voiced by Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Hector Elizondo, Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana.

The pic, set around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, likewise earned an A- CinemaScore. The 3D title skewed female (57 percent), while 54 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 25, with many of those under the age of 10.

“The origins of the story are in Mexican folklore, so we targeted Hispanics, but we broadened the campaign to make it accessible for all audiences,” said Fox domestic distribution president Chris Aronson. “As for Gone Girl, it’s a box office phenomenon. If you don’t see the movie, you’re not part of the conversation. And there is a whole lot of conversation going on.”

Overseas, Book of Life debuted to $8.6 million from its first 19 markets, many of them in Latin America, for a global launch of $25.6 million. Mexico led with $3.8 million, followed by Brazil with $2 million.

Read more Trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Book of Life’ Teases Magic and Love After Death (Video)

The weekend’s third new nationwide offering was romancer The Best of Me, the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, starring Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato and Gerald McRaney.

Best of Me placed No. 5 for the weekend with $10.2 million from 2,936 locations, the lowest debut for a Sparks adaptation, not accounting for inflation. The previous low was the $12.2 million debut of A Walk to Remember in 2002.

Relativity partnered on the $26 million film with DiNovi Pictures and Nicholas Sparks Productions, and says its financial risk is minimal after selling off international rights and taking advantage of tax credits. Still, the $26 million budget doesn’t include marketing costs. Best of Me, earning a B+ CinemaScore, came in behind Disney holdover Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which took the No. 4 spot.

“We have had great success with Nicholas Sparks over the years and are always glad to be in business with him. We are confident the film will play well over the coming weeks given its word of mouth and strong CinemaScore,” a Relativity spokesperson said. The company also worked with Sparks on Safe Haven and Dear John.

Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s dark comedy Birdman soared at the specialty box office, earning $415,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a whopping location average of $103,750, the second-best showing in two years after Wes Anderson‘s 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel ($202,792).

Read more New York Film Fest: ‘Birdman’ Cast on Superheroes, Theater and How “Being a Celebrity Is S—”

Fox Searchlight and New Regency partnered on Birdman, starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero-movie star who tries to reclaim his career by staging a play on Broadway. The awards contender also stars Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone.

Roadside Attractions and Justin Simien‘s satirical dramedy Dear White People also prospered, earning $338,000 from 11 theaters in select markets for a location average of $30,702. 

Here are the estimated top 10 films for the weekend of Oct. 17-19 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. Fury, 1/3,173, Sony/QED, $23.5 million

2. Gone Girl, 3/3,249, Fox/New Regency, $17.8 million, -33%, $107.1 million

3. The Book of Life, 1/3,071, Fox/ReelFX, $17 million

4. Alexander…Very Bad Day, 2/3,088, Disney, $12 million, -34%, $36.9 million

5. The Best of Me, 1/2,936, Relativity, $10.2 million

6. Dracula Untold, 1/2,887, Universal/Legendary, $9.9 million, -58%, $40.7 million

7. The Judge, 2/3,003, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow, $7.94 million, -39%, $26.8 million

8. Annabelle, 3/2,878, Warner Bros./New Line, $7.92 million, -50%, $74.1 million

9. The Equalizer, 4/2,262, Sony/Village Roadshow, $5.5 million, -44%, $89.2 million

10. The Maze Runner, 5/2,155, Fox, $4.5 million, -40%, $90.8 million

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/vNtQHj1Sbqk/story01.htm

Common virus linked with Alzheimer’s disease

The type of virus that causes cold sores may be linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to two recent studies from Sweden.

“Our results clearly show that there is a link between infections of herpes simplex virus and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” Hugo Lövheim, the author of both studies and an associate professor of geriatric medicine at Umeå University in Sweden, said in a statement. “This also means that we have new opportunities to develop treatment forms to stop the disease.”

In one study, published this month in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers took plasma samples from 360 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 360 people who did not have the disease. The samples were collected about 9.6 years before diagnosis. They found that being a carrier of the herpes simplex virus approximately doubled a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In another study, published in July in the same journal, the investigators followed 3,432 people for an average of 11.3 years, and found that a reactivated herpes simplex infection doubled one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Herpes simplex virus infections are very common, and the majority of the population carries herpes simplex type 1, which is responsible for most cold sores. Once a person is infected, their body carries the virus throughout their life, and it can reactivate from time to time, causing cold sores.

Previous research has also shown a possible connection between Alzheimer’s disease and herpes simplex type 1.

The hypothesis is that a weakened immune system in the elderly allows the virus to spread to the brain, perhaps starting or contributing to the process that results in Alzheimer’s disease.

Moreover, herpes simplex encephalitis — an uncommon, full-blown infection of the brain caused by the virus — tends to affect the same areas of the brain that are typically involved in early Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus and temporal lobes, said Dr. Jagan Pillai, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at the Center for Brain Health at Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the latest studies.

However, the studies do not prove a causal relationship between herpes simplex infections and Alzheimer’s. So there is no reason yet to be alarmed that having had the virus will lead to developing Alzheimer’s disease, Pillai told CBS News.

“It could be that immune changes related to Alzheimer’s disease cause more reactivations of the virus,” Pillai suggested.

More research is needed, but the scientists in Sweden believe their work could offer a promising new approach for drug treatments to combat Alzheimer’s. “Something [that] makes this hypothesis very interesting is that now herpes infection can in principle be treated with antiviral agents,” Lövheim said. “Therefore within a few years we hope to be able to start studies in which we will also try treating patients to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsHealth/~3/-o5OnQnTctA/

Ebola: Another sign of our capital’s decay?

Beyond the immediate danger posed by Ebola, what the situation has exposed should not go unremarked.

Because, to the list of institutions once held in high regard but which have lately come up short — the Veterans Administration, the IRS, yes, even the Secret Service — we now must add the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s been an all-too-familiar story: first, the calm assurances that all is well; then the impenetrable press releases saying nothing; finally the grudging admission, “Mistakes were made.”

The administration seemed as caught off-guard as the rest of us, and scrambled to catch up.

Congress, which has done nothing for years, literally, and can’t even break the partisan deadlock long enough to confirm a Surgeon General, played to form — they launched into a bitter blame game.

All this as the chairman of the Federal Reserve expressed concern the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer, which could mean new problems on the economic front.

I don’t know where all this goes. What I do know is that our once-proud “shining city on a hill” is becoming just a town where nothing works.

Once we figure out what to do about Ebola, maybe we should focus on what to do about that.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsOpinion/~3/9whujBSXEe0/

Box Office Preview: ‘Ouija’ Calls on Spirits to Defeat Gun-Toting Keanu Reeves

Pre-Halloween entry Ouija looks to win the North American box office race this weekend ahead of shoot-‘em-up pic John Wick, Keanu Reeves‘ first film to hit theaters since the ill-fated 47 Ronin in December 2013.

Ouija, based on Hasbro’s seance board game, is expected to open in the $18 million to $20 million range. Universal is erring on the low side ($18 million), while rivals think it could cross $20 million. John Wick is tracking to earn far less, or a muted $7 million to $8 million. The male-skewing Wick, however, could overperform, thanks to stellar reviews and a berth in Imax theaters.

Read more Michael Bay conjures ‘Ouija’ movie

Blumhouse Productions, home of the microbudget horror film, and Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes produced Ouija for Universal in tandem with Hasbro. The film, targeting teenagers and younger adult females, follows a group of friends who uncover the dark powers of the Ouija board when trying to summon their recently deceased friend’s spirit. Universal’s marketing campaign included organizing a screening and seance at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Stiles White directed the movie, which stars an array of young television actors, including Daren Kagasoff and Bianca A. Santos. 

Among critics, John Wick has certainly improved Reeves’ standing, and currently boasts a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But whether the movie will work at the box office is another question, although positive word-of-mouth could give it strong legs, both in North America and overseas. Lionsgate acquired rights to the movie, so it has limited financial exposure.

Read more ‘John Wick': Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe Talk “Fantasy” Drifting and Gun Fu Stunts

Directed by Chad Stahelski, the R-rated action film stars Reeves as an ex-hitman who comes out of a peaceful retirement to hunt down the gangsters who have taken everything from him. Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Willem Dafoe also star.

Also this weekend, Theodore Melfi‘s St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray, expands nationwide after opening two weeks ago in select theaters, earning just under $1 million to date for The Weinstein Co.

A slew of high-profile films open at the specialty box office, including Lynn Shelton‘s Laggies, starring Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell, and Gregg Araki‘s White Bird in a Blizzard, starring Shailene Woodley. Both films played at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and were produced by Anonymous Content.

Read More Watch the Short That Convinced Edward Snowden to Trust ‘Citizenfour‘ Director Laura Poitras

Following its world premiere at the New York Film Festival earlier this month, Laura Poitras‘ high-profile Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour goes out in five theaters.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/74ztNHgboTQ/story01.htm

U.K. Box Office: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Drop-Kicks ‘Gone Girl’ From Top Spot

Gone Girl’s two-week run at the top of the U.K. box office was brought to an abrupt end by a group of reptilian martial-arts experts named after Renaissance artists.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took the crown in its opening week, earning $7.7 million compared with Gone Girl’s $3.8 million. David Fincher’s adaptation of the best-selling book, starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, has now earned a total of $22.9 million in the U.K.

Read more ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Spurs Boom in Turtle Sales, Illegal Smuggling

Last week’s second-highest-grossing film, The Maze Runner, slipped to the fourth spot with $2.4 million, while last week’s No. 3, Annabelle, retained its position, earning just $11,000 more than The Maze Runner did.

The second-highest new entry of the week was Nicholas Sparks‘ romantic drama The Best of Me, starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, which claimed the fifth position, taking in $1 million.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/-EGq1iw1vqs/story01.htm

Global Box Office: ‘Gone Girl’ Races Past $200M; ‘Annabelle’ Scares Up $166M

David Fincher‘s Gone Girl has raced past the $200 million mark at the global box office, where it will soon overtake the filmmaker’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ($232.6 million) and The Social Network ($224.9 million).

Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, even has a shot at approaching $300 million worldwide, although that won’t be enough to match The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($333 million) or Seven ($327.3 million), which rank as Fincher’s top-grossing movies, respectively, not accounting for inflation.

Read more David Fincher Cast Ben Affleck in ‘Gone Girl’ After Googling His Smile

For the weekend, Gone Girl took in $20.2 million from 58 markets overseas for a foreign total of $94.7 million and a global total of $201.6 million. While the 20th Century Fox and New Regency film is doing best in Europe — the U.K. leads overall with $23.2 million — it has surprised in many Asian markets.

New Line and Warner Bros.’ horror prequel Annabelle likewise remains a strong global player, finishing Sunday with an impressive $166.1 million in total ticket sales, including $95 million overseas. Annabelle, costing just $6.5 million to make, earned another $19.2 million internationally for the weekend.

Still, it was neither of those films, nor Dracula Untold, that topped the weekend box-office chart offshore. Instead, the crown went to Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The quirky superhero tentpole, still playing in China and a smattering of other territories, took in $23.1 million to jump the $400 million mark internationally for a worldwide total of $732.6 million.

Read more ‘Annabelle’ Director John Leonetti Talks About Shooting on a Haunted Set

Better yet, Guardians became the No. 3 Marvel title of all time behind The Avengers ($1.5 billion) and Iron Man 3 ($1.2 billion).

Universal and Legendary’s origins pic Dracula Untold came in No. 2 overseas, earning $22.5 million from 58 markets for a foreign total of $95.7 million, more than double its early North American take of 40.7 million. (Dracula Untold fell 58 percent in its second weekend domestically.) Its global cume is $136.4 million.

Thanks to a late rollout in Europe, Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came in No. 4 internationally behind Guardians, Dracula Untold and Gone Girl. (Annabelle rounded out the top five.) Turtles took in a hearty $20 million from 33 territories for a foreign total of $185.4 million and a global haul of $375 million. In Europe, the U.K. led with an impressive $7.9 million, followed by France ($4.1 million), Germany ($3.8 million) and Spain ($1.5 million).

Read more ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Debuts Wiz Khalifa-Led Rap Single, TV Spot (Video)

Turtles has yet to open in China and Japan.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/HJDA5s4XMTY/story01.htm

Specialty Box Office: ‘Birdman’ Soars to No. 2 Theater Average of 2014

In a case of life imitating art, Birdman soared in its bicoastal debut for former Batman star Michael Keaton, who plays a washed-up superhero movie star trying to rehabilitate his career by launching a show on Broadway.

The dark comedy, from director Alejandro G. Inarritu, grossed an estimated $415,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a whopping screen average of $103,750, the best showing so far this year after Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which posted a record-breaking theater average of $202,792 earlier this year. (This year’s other indie hit, Boyhood, posted a screen average of $77,524 when launching in five locations in July.)

It’s also one of the best showings in two years if Sunday’s estimates hold. Birdman, hoping to be a prominent awards player, now has to hold up as it wings its way into other top markets.

Read more Michael Keaton on Getting ‘Spooked’ by Oscar Buzz After Nearly 40-Year Career

Fox Searchlight and New Regency partnered on the film, starring Keaton opposite Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone.

“I think to see him in this part was really gratifying for people,” said Searchlight distribution chief Frank Rodriguez.

Keaton’s box office record has been decidedly mixed over the last two decades since starring in Batman Returns in 1992 and Batman in 1989.

Birdman isn’t Keaton’s first indie effort. He both directed and starred in the 2008 drama, The Merry Gentleman, which quickly disappeared, opening to $74,981 in 24 theaters and topping out at $347,000.

Two years earlier, Keaton played the lead in indie film Game 6, which fared even worse, opening to $9,610 from four theaters for an average of $2,402. Game 6 also starred Keaton as an aspiring playwright, although in that film, his character sets out to kill a critic who skewered his last play.

Read more New York Film Fest: ‘Birdman’ Cast on Superheroes, Theater and How “Being a Celebrity Is S—”

Rodriguez said Birdman‘s strong opening was the culmination of several factors, including stops at the Venice, Telluride and New York film festivals, and a massive publicity blitz by the cast in the days leading up to the movie’s release.

“It’s also a cinematic triumph,” said Rodriguez, in reference to Inarritu and Gravity cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki‘s decision to make the movie seem as if it was shot in one long take.

While an ode to Broadway, Birdman‘s top-grossing theater was the Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles, followed by the Angelika Film Center in New York, the Landmark in Los Angeles and Lincoln Square AMC in New York. Next weekend, Birdman opens in an additional 18 markets, including San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Boston, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas.

Elsewhere at the specialty box office, Roadside Attractions and Justin Simien‘s satirical dramedy Dear White People enjoyed a strong start, earning $338,000 from 11 theaters in select markets for a location average of $30,702.

Dear White People, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, follows four African-American students at an Ivy League university whose lives converge when controversy erupts over an African-American themed Halloween party thrown by white students. The film stars Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell and Kyle Gallner.

Read more ‘Dear White People’ Director on Making a Comedy About Race and Spike Lee’s Heroism

Elsewhere, Alex Ross Perry‘s 2014 Sundance entry Listen Up Philip, starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce, opened in two theaters, grossing $24,291 for a so-so location average of $12,146 for Tribeca Film.

Among holdovers, Bill Murray‘s comedy St. Vincent expanded into a total of 68 theaters in its second outing, grossing $685,000 for a location average of $10,074 and a cume of $836,982.

St. Vincent is working very well in the suburbs, so we are going to pull the trigger next weekend and go wide,” said TWC’s Erik Lomis. “People are embracing it because it’s a feel-good movie. There’s a lot of heavy stuff in the market.”

Fox International’s co-production Bang Bang celebrated the weekend by becoming the top-grossing Bollywood title of all time in North America, not accounting for inflation. The film earned $155,000 from 108 theaters for a domestic total of $2.6 million, surpassing last year’s Kick ($2.5 million).

Read more Imax to Screen Bollywood Remake ‘Bang Bang!’ in India

The Metropolitan’s The Met: Live in HD broadcast its second opera of the season, Mozart‘s The Marriage of Figaro, on Saturday, taking in $2.1 million from 900 North American screens.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/zmkAvDGQXTM/story01.htm

Box Office: Brad Pitt’s ‘Fury’ Conquers Competition With $23.5M Weekend

Thanks to an army of older males, David Ayer‘s Fury won the North American box office battle with $23.5 million from 3,173 theaters, toppling Gone Girl from the top spot and delivering one of the best openings of all time for a World War II war movie, not accounting for inflation. It’s also another win for star Brad Pitt.

Fury is a career best for Ayer. As fate would have it, the year’s other high-profile WWII drama, the upcoming Unbroken, is directed by Pitt’s wife, Angelina Jolie.

Sony, QED International and LStar Capital spent $68 million to make Fury, featuring Pitt as a battle-hardened Army sergeant in command of a Sherman tank and its five-man crew as they attempt to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany (Sony is aggressively marketing the film to veterans). The film, earning an A- CinemaScore, also features Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs and Scott Eastwood.

Read more Brad Pitt to Toast Veterans at ‘Fury’ Washington Premiere

While Fury played heavily to males (60 percent), Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer noted that females, likely lured in by Pitt, made up a healthy percentage. “It’s really resonating with all audiences,” he said. Overall, 51 percent of the audience was over the age of 35.

Strong reviews, along with the successful U.S. launch, should bolster Fury‘s showing overseas, where it begins rolling out next weekend.

In 2009, Pitt starred in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds, which lays claim to the No. 2 opening of all time for a WWII war title ($38.1 million) after Pearl Harbor ($59.1 million). Fury ranks No. 4 behind those two titles and Saving Private Ryan ($30.6 million).

Holdover Gone Girl — jumping the $100 million mark domestically and the $200 million mark globally — edged out new family entry Book of Life to take the No. 2 spot domesticaly (both are from 20th Century Fox). Gone Girl fell just 33 percent to $17.8 million from 3,241 theaters for a total $107.1 million. Overseas, Gone Girl took in another $20.2 million for a foreign cume of $94.7 million and worldwide haul of $201.8 million.

Read more ‘Gone Girl’ Cast on David Fincher’s Pranks, Multiple Takes

By the end of Halloween weekend, Gone Girl will have surpassed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) to become Fincher’s top film of all time in North America.

Book of Life, produced by Guillermo del Toro and fueled by Hispanic moviegoers (40 percent), came in No. 3 with a solid $17 million from 3,071 theaters. Fox Animation and ReelFX co-produced the $50 million movie, voiced by Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Hector Elizondo, Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana.

The pic, set around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, likewise earned an A- CinemaScore. The 3D title skewed female (57 percent), while 54 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 25, with many of those under the age of 10.

“The origins of the story are in Mexican folklore, so we targeted Hispanics, but we broadened the campaign to make it accessible for all audiences,” said Fox domestic distribution president Chris Aronson. “As for Gone Girl, it’s a box office phenomenon. If you don’t see the movie, you’re not part of the conversation. And there is a whole lot of conversation going on.”

Overseas, Book of Life debuted to $8.6 million from its first 19 markets, many of them in Latin America, for a global launch of $25.6 million. Mexico led with $3.8 million, followed by Brazil with $2 million.

Read more Trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Book of Life’ Teases Magic and Love After Death (Video)

The weekend’s third new nationwide offering was romancer The Best of Me, the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, starring Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato and Gerald McRaney.

Best of Me placed No. 5 for the weekend with $10.2 million from 2,936 locations, the lowest debut for a Sparks adaptation, not accounting for inflation. The previous low was the $12.2 million debut of A Walk to Remember in 2002.

Relativity partnered on the $26 million film with DiNovi Pictures and Nicholas Sparks Productions, and says its financial risk is minimal after selling off international rights and taking advantage of tax credits. Still, the $26 million budget doesn’t include marketing costs. Best of Me, earning a B+ CinemaScore, came in behind Disney holdover Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which took the No. 4 spot.

“We have had great success with Nicholas Sparks over the years and are always glad to be in business with him. We are confident the film will play well over the coming weeks given its word of mouth and strong CinemaScore,” a Relativity spokesperson said. The company also worked with Sparks on Safe Haven and Dear John.

Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s dark comedy Birdman soared at the specialty box office, earning $415,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a whopping location average of $103,750, the second-best showing in two years after Wes Anderson‘s 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel ($202,792).

Read more New York Film Fest: ‘Birdman’ Cast on Superheroes, Theater and How “Being a Celebrity Is S—”

Fox Searchlight and New Regency partnered on Birdman, starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero-movie star who tries to reclaim his career by staging a play on Broadway. The awards contender also stars Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone.

Roadside Attractions and Justin Simien‘s satirical dramedy Dear White People also prospered, earning $338,000 from 11 theaters in select markets for a location average of $30,702. 

Here are the estimated top 10 films for the weekend of Oct. 17-19 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. Fury, 1/3,173, Sony/QED, $23.5 million

2. Gone Girl, 3/3,249, Fox/New Regency, $17.8 million, -33%, $107.1 million

3. The Book of Life, 1/3,071, Fox/ReelFX, $17 million

4. Alexander…Very Bad Day, 2/3,088, Disney, $12 million, -34%, $36.9 million

5. The Best of Me, 1/2,936, Relativity, $10.2 million

6. Dracula Untold, 1/2,887, Universal/Legendary, $9.9 million, -58%, $40.7 million

7. The Judge, 2/3,003, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow, $7.94 million, -39%, $26.8 million

8. Annabelle, 3/2,878, Warner Bros./New Line, $7.92 million, -50%, $74.1 million

9. The Equalizer, 4/2,262, Sony/Village Roadshow, $5.5 million, -44%, $89.2 million

10. The Maze Runner, 5/2,155, Fox, $4.5 million, -40%, $90.8 million

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/boxoffice/~3/vNtQHj1Sbqk/story01.htm

We’ve known this day was coming, right? Brian Stewart

Perhaps the shock of  Wednesday’s attack will prove shorter than we expect because, let’s be frank, we’ve all known something like this was coming, right?


We’ve been warned for years by our combined counterterrorism apparatus that it will stop many plots, but cannot get all. In short, the hits are coming.  Brace yourself Canada. Time to be resilient.


The federal government’s own  “Counterterrorism Strategy,” unveiled three years ago, laid out the reality in words few could question. “Terrorism,” it said, “will remain a dominant feature of the national security landscape for the foreseeable future.”


As Canadians, we’ve been lucky up to this point, but inevitably the threat escalated to near certainty when Canada joined the armed coalition against ISIS in Iraq at a time when scores of jihadists supporters and angry wannabes are said to be in Canada.  


Our Western allies in the coalition all braced for attacks as ISIS called on its supporters to go on the offensive inside our very heartlands. Monday’s car attack that left a soldier dead in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., looks to be cut from that cloth, at least in the prime minister’s view. It is too soon to say about yesterday’s rampage on Parliament Hill, though it has many of the same features, in particular the attack on an unsuspecting soldier.


Ottawa Shooting

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, shown in this screen grab from an online video from the PMO, making a statement on the attacks in Ottawa on Wednesday. He said Canadian would not be intimidated by a ‘brutal and violent attack.’ (The Canadian Press)

Almost three weeks ago, the U.S. army’s threat centre warned its members and their families to be extra vigilant, and soon after Washington broadened warnings to include “lone-wolf attacks on police, government officials and media figures inside the U.S.” 


Since August, Britain’s terrorist threat level has been pegged at its second highest level — “severe,” while another coalition partner, Australia, went to “high” alert for the first time since 9/11.


So what now?


In the days ahead, there will be undoubtedly be questions as to why Canada’s domestic threat level remained at “low” until it was nudged up to “moderate” just days before the Quebec attacks.


There is no guarantee, however, that increased alertness would have stopped any freelance attack, and no certainly that staying out of the coalition against ISIS would have kept us attack-free. 


In any case, the pressing issue for the country right now is how well we respond to the shock of these events, and at the same time how we can best use our police and intelligence assets to thwart future attacks. 


There will be changes to the landscape, of course, and we will certainly see more guards around potential targets in both government and private sectors, while below the surface, more counterterrorism surveillance will be launched.


But we shouldn’t want too much to change. Government, police, and our intelligence agency, CSIS, have together long-studied how society should react after such shock attacks and the underlying theme comes down that word “resilient.”


“A resilient Canada is one that is able to mitigate the impacts of a terrorist attack, ensuring a rapid return to ordinary life,” the official counterterrorism strategy declares.


That’s not a bad mantra, and it may be useful to remember that Canadians have not always shown the required restraint when our sense of values have been brutally abused by terror attacks.


I will never forget how, during the October Crisis of 1970 in Montreal, the Pierre Trudeau government responded to two kidnappings and vague rumours of an insurgency by throwing nearly 500 people into jail under the notorious War Measures Act, all without due process or access to such legal basics as habeas corpus. 


The vast majority of these “suspects” were later released without charges, and the ones I knew personally were totally innocent.


At the time, most Canadians strongly supported the crackdown, yet only a few years later it was looked on as a national shame more suited to a classic police state. Parliament eventually overwrote the WMA to ensure such extremes were never repeated.


We have the resources


I’ve sometimes used this example to remind myself that even democratic societies can panic after horrible incidents and then go too far in response.


They can grow fearful, even paranoid about certain groups in their midst, in the process trampling on common notions of justice and making life miserable for any voices of dissent. 


A country that appears badly shaken ensures terrorists win an easy round. So does a society that looks like it can be provoked into extreme responses.


At this time, we need to remember our strengths. Counterterrorism is extraordinarily difficult, but we’re likely better at it than we think, and we have more resources committed to it than is generally known.


The regular police complaints of limited resources have some merit, but in reality there’s a very large force of thousands of agents and officers available for counterterrorism in emergencies. And that is not just in the RCMP, for they work alongside specialists from CSIS, military and foreign affairs intelligence, our Border Services Agency, financial intelligence (FINTRAC), to name just some. Plus, there are all the provincial, territorial and city police intelligence units.


There are weaknesses, of course. Intelligence analysis by certain bureaucracies have been found to be sluggish and disjointed, and Canada probably does need more agents abroad looking for threats headed our way.


But the law needs to be considered along with everything else, and Parliament should very carefully test the need for any change in open debate, free of any attempt to use a crisis  to stampede a decision. 


That kind of calm approach needs to provide one of those clear moments that stand out from the darkness that envelopes this kind of security breach. 


From the massive international news coverage of the Ottawa attack it is clear the rest of the world — both friends and enemies — are watching to see how we react.  One hopes they see determination without overreaction, or, in a word, resilience. 

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ottawa-parliament-shooting-we-ve-known-this-day-was-coming-1.2809722?cmp=rss

‘We are all shaken by it,’ Obama says of Ottawa shooting

World leaders offered their condolences and support to Canada following Wednesday’s shootings in Ottawa, as the story captured international attention.


South of Canada’s border, American networks went into live coverage mode and White House reporters turned their attention to the story, asking officials what effect the events in Canada are having on the United States.


U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on the shootings by his top homeland security adviser Wednesday morning and spoke by phone with Prime Minister Stephen Harper a short time later. 


Obama told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he offered his condolences on behalf of Americans to the family of the soldier killed and to all Canadians.


“Obviously the situation there is tragic,” Obama said, referring to the hit-and-run incident that killed another soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, on Monday and to the shooting today.


‘We are going to do everything we can to make sure we are standing side-by-side with Canada during this difficult time,    ‘- U.S. President Barack Obama


Obama said that while there are unanswered questions about the motive and who carried out the attack, “it emphasizes the degree to which we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of senseless acts of violence, or terrorism.”


The U.S. president said he pledged in his call with Harper to make sure that national security teams in both countries are working closely together, saying Canada is not only an ally of the U.S. but a friend and neighbour.


“It’s very important, I think, for us to recognize that when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity that Canada and the United States have to be entirely in sync. We have in the past, I am confident we will continue to do so in the future.”


Obama said Harper appreciated the expressions of concern from Americans, and the president went on to recall his own visit to Parliament Hill and said he was reminded of how warmly he was received there and “how wonderful the people there were.”


“So obviously we are all shaken by it, but we are going to do everything we can to make sure we are standing side-by-side with Canada during this difficult time,” said Obama.


Harper-Obama

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks by phone with Obama about the shootings in Ottawa. (Carl Vallee/Prime Minister’s Office)


White House press secretary Josh Earnest said American officials were in touch with their Canadian counterparts and had offered assistance, but he couldn’t specify whether the FBI and CIA specifically had made calls. The FBI, however, said the following on Twitter: “We stand ready to assist our partners as they deal with the ongoing situation in their capital.”


“Canada is one of the closest friends and allies of the United States and from issues ranging from the strength of our NATO alliance to the Ebola response to dealing with ISIL, there is a strong partnership and friendship and alliance between the United States and Canada,” said Earnest. “The United States strongly values that relationship and that relationship makes the citizens of this country safer.”


Security heightened at Arlington memorial


Earnest said he was not aware of the threat level being raised in the United States as a result of what happened in Ottawa or any added security measures at the White House or on Capitol Hill.


CNN reported that security was increased at Arlington National Cemetery, not far from downtown Washington, because of the events in Ottawa. The cemetery, where rows upon rows of white headstones mark the graves of deceased military members, features a tomb of the unknown soldier that is also guarded by members of the military, much like the National War Memorial in Ottawa.


CNN reported that officials were not disclosing what specific measures were being implemented to boost security.


Earnest was asked repeatedly about any possible connection with Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led international coalition to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria but he did not want to speculate.


“The circumstances around today’s tragic events in Canada are still unknown,” he said, but noted that Canada and the United States and other allies have been working together to try and prevent their citizens from going abroad to join ISIS, or ISIL as the group is also known. Canada has been “robustly engaged” in that effort, he said.


“We certainly are appreciative of the commitment that Canada has made to this broader international effort alongside some 60 other countries,” he said about the campaign to defeat ISIS.


Republican John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, issued a statement late Wednesday night saying the House of Representatives offers its full support to the people of Canada and its government, after the deaths of two soldiers.


Boehner said Harper, and his counterpart, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, “will continue to have friends and allies in the U.S. Congress who are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with them against our common enemies and who are prepared to move forward in our aims to improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for both our countries.”


“The world is growing more complex and dangerous by the day, but we will not be intimidated by those who seek violence, repression, and fear,” Boehner went on to say. “Our common cause and fight — dignity and freedom for all — will always persevere, even during the darkest of times.”


Britain’s Cameron ‘appalled’


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement saying he spoke with his counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird Wednesday evening, expressed his condolences and committed full support to Canada in response to the “heinous and evil attacks.”


“The United States has faced this kind of violence first-hand on our own soil, and we grieve with Canada, seared by the memory of our own painful experiences,” Kerry’s statement said. Kerry offered praise for first responders who quickly acted to protect MPs and the public.


“We have great confidence in Canadian law enforcement and security forces and stand ready to assist in any way. We will continue to work closely with our Canadian colleagues to ensure the safety of all our people, and together to counter violent extremism in North America and elsewhere around the world,” said Kerry.


The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa was put on lockdown earlier in the day, according to a State Department spokeswoman.


In a similar security increase, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that his country’s federal police have stepped-up patrols around parliament and at the Canadian High Commission in Canberra, the capital. 


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said his thoughts were with Canadians.


“The secretary general is aware of the situation unfolding in Ottawa, including in the Canadian Parliament, during which a soldier has reportedly been shot. He hopes the situation will be brought quickly under control by Canadian law enforcement authorities. His thoughts are with the people and government of Canada at this difficult time,” a statement provided to CBC News read.


British Prime Minister David Cameron was another world leader who offered his support to Canada. “I’m appalled by today’s attack in Ottawa,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that he is offering his full support to Harper “and the Canadian people as they deal with this incident.”


British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said on Twitter he was “horrified” to learn of the shootings. 


“Our thoughts are with you,” he wrote in response to a tweet from his counterpart, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.


The Prime Minister’s Office said on Twitter that Harper also spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the shootings.


Gen. Chuck Jacoby, commander of NORAD, issued a statement that offered condolences and talked about the bond between Canada and the United States. 


“My heart goes out to our Canadian comrades on this tragic day following the shootings in Ottawa, as well as the hit-and-run attack in Quebec earlier this week, both of which targeted Canadian Forces personnel,” it said. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the people of Canada.  We share their grief, but also their determination not to be intimidated by these cowardly acts.” 


The Chinese embassy condemned the attacks in a statement and sent condolences to the family of the soldier killed. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wrote on Twitter that his country stands in solidarity with Canada.



Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ottawa-shooting-called-tragic-by-obama-world-leaders-1.2809039?cmp=rss

4 Blackwater guards convicted in killing of Iraqis, appeal expected

Lawyers for four former Blackwater security guards convicted in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad plan to appeal, they said. The convictions stemmed from an incident that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe and was denounced by critics as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.


The men claimed self-defence, but federal prosecutors argued that they had shown “a grave indifference” to the carnage their actions would cause. All four were ordered immediately to jail Wednesday.


Their lawyers promised to file appeals. The judge did not immediately set a sentencing date.


The federal jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, the most serious charge in a multi-count indictment. The three other guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations.


The outcome after a summer-long trial and weeks of jury deliberation appeared to stun the defense.


David Schertler, a lawyer for Heard, said, “The verdict is wrong, it’s incomprehensible. We’re devastated. We’re going to fight it every step of the way. We still think we’re going to win.”


However, one of those struck by gunfire in the shootings, Hassan Jabir, said in Baghdad that “at last we are hearing good news where justice has been achieved and Blackwater will receive their punishment.” He said there are two bullets still inside his body, one in his hand and one in his back, which doctors have said it would be very risky to remove.


The shootings on Sept. 16, 2007, caused an international uproar over the role of defence contractors in urban warfare.


The State Department had hired Blackwater to protect American diplomats in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and elsewhere in the country. Blackwater convoys of four heavily armoured vehicles operated in risky environments where car bombs and attacks by insurgents were common.


All 4 face decades behind bars


On the murder charge, Slatten could face a maximum penalty of life in prison. The other three defendants could face decades behind bars.


The case was mired in legal battles for years, making it uncertain whether the defendants would ever be tried.


The trial itself focused on the killings of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others. During an 11-week trial, prosecutors summoned 72 witnesses, including Iraqi victims, their families and former colleagues of the defendant Blackwater guards.


There was sharp disagreement over the facts in the case.


The defendants’ lawyers said there was strong evidence the guards were targeted with gunfire from insurgents and Iraqi police, leading the guards to shoot back in self-defence. Federal prosecutors said there was no incoming gunfire and that the shootings by the guards were unprovoked.


The prosecution contended that some of the Blackwater guards harborued a low regard and deep hostility toward Iraqi civilians.


The guards, the prosecution said, held “a grave indifference” to the death and injury that their actions probably would cause Iraqis. Several former Blackwater guards testified that they had been generally distrustful of Iraqis, based on experience the guards said they had had in being led into ambushes.


The four men had been charged with a combined 32 counts in the shootings and the jury was able to reach a verdict on all of them, with the exception of three against Heard. The prosecution agreed to drop those charges.


Slough was convicted of 13 counts of voluntary manslaughter and 17 counts of attempted manslaughter. Liberty was convicted of eight counts of voluntary manslaughter and 12 counts of attempted manslaughter. Heard was convicted of six counts of voluntary manslaughter and 11 counts of attempted manslaughter.


Voluntary manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and attempted manslaughter carries a maximum seven years in prison.


All three were also convicted on gun charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.


Prosecutors said that from a vantage point inside his convoy’s command vehicle, Slatten aimed his SR-25 sniper rifle through a gun portal, killing the driver of a stopped white Kia sedan, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y.


At the trial, two Iraqi traffic officers and one of the shooting victims testified the car was stopped at the time the shots were fired. The assertion that the car was stopped supported the prosecution argument that the shots were unwarranted.


Defense lawyers pressed their argument that other Blackwater guards — not Slatten — fired the first shots at the Kia sedan and that they did so only after the vehicle moved slowly toward the convoy, posing what appeared to be a threat to the Blackwater guards’ safety.


Once the shooting started, hundreds of Iraqi citizens ran for their lives.


It was “gunfire coming from the left, gunfire coming from the right,” prosecutor Anthony Asuncion told the jury in closing arguments.


One of the government witnesses in the case, Blackwater guard Jeremy Ridgeway, had pleaded guilty to killing the driver’s mother, who died in the passenger seat of the white Kia next to her son.


After Wednesday’s verdict, Liberty’s attorney William Coffield said he expected to appeal.


Among the grounds for doing so would be an issue involving the law under which the defendants were charged, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. Defence lawyers say that law should not apply because the guards were contractors for the State Department, not the Pentagon.

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/blackwater-guards-get-murder-manslaughter-convictions-in-iraq-shootings-1.2809903?cmp=rss

Dinosaur with huge ‘T. rex’ arms had hooved toes, fantail

In 1965, paleontologists dug up a gargantuan pair of dinosaur arms in Mongolia. Their shape and hollow build suggested they belonged to a fearsome predator like the two-storey-tall Tyrannosaurus rex — but much, much bigger.


Now, scientists have finally uncovered the rest of the dinosaur those armed belonged to — and found an astonishing animal.


“This dinosaur is even more bizarre than we could even possibly have imagined,” said Canadian dinosaur expert Philip Currie, who was part of the international research team that made the new discovery.


The team, led by Yuong-Nam Lee at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, described their findings in this week’s issue of Nature.


Deinocheirus mirificus was the name that scientists gave to the mysterious dinosaur nearly 50 years ago, after the discovery of its 2.4-metre long arms.


Deinocheirus mirificus

Deinocheirus was similar in size to Tyrannosaurus rex and belonged to a group of ostrich-like dinosaurs. (Michael Skrepnick)


“The size was just mind-boggling,” said Currie, a paleontology professor at the University of Alberta who has been fascinated by the discovery for decades.


“People started speculating, ‘Well if Tyrannosarus rex has arms as short as ours and this thing has arms that are six feet long, this dinosaur must be like 300 feet (91 metres) long’ — which was ridiculous, of course.”


The international research team recently discovered two nearly complete Deinocheirus skeletons that revealed it wasn’t a tyrannosaur. Instead, it belonged to a family of ostrich-like dinosaurs called Ornithomimids – most of which were ostrich-sized or human-sized and had longer arms relative to their bodies than tyrannosaurs did.


Deinocheirus was the largest known dinosaur in the group – it was nearly as long as a bus (11 metres) with an estimated mass of six tonnes, making it similar in size to T. rex.


It also looked very different from its ostrich-like cousins, which had pointed bills and slender legs that ended in sharp-clawed feet.


Deinocheirus had a duck-like bill and stubby legs that ended in hoof-like claws, which may have stopped it from sinking in muddy ground.


Currie said Deinocheirus lived about 70 million years ago (about five million years before dinosaurs went extinct) along a river running through the desert, similar to the Nile. The area was home to about 40 other species of dinosaurs ranging from chicken-sized creatures to massive, long-necked plant-eaters.


Like a suspension bridge


One of Deinocheirus‘s stranger features was a series of extra-long bones in its back that formed a hump or sail. Researchers think that may have helped it balance and support its huge mass on its hind legs.


“It looks very much like suspension bridges where you have those big pillars in the middle the bridge and those cables coming down on either side,” Currie said.


The last few bones of its backbone were fused together like they are in birds such as turkeys.


“This thing probably had a fan of feathers at the end of the tail,” Currie said.


“It’s the first time we’ve ever seen that in one of these dinosaurs…. So you know, you can look at anywhere in the skeleton — and it’s just weird.”


Along with the bones, the researchers also found the remains of the dinosaurs’ stomach contents. Those included rocks, suggesting that Deinocherus swallowed stones to grind up plants and seeds the way birds do. But among the rocks were also fish bones and scales, suggesting that Deinocheirus was an omnivore.


Currie said the discovery is a “good warning that even though we think we know a lot about dinosaurs, in fact we don’t.”


Currie travels to the fossil beds in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia at least once a year to dig for dinosaurs, and searched for years for signs of Deinocheirus.


A shop in France


In 2006 and 2009, he and his collaborators found the remains of two dinosaur skeletons that had been damaged by fossil poachers.


The poachers had removed key parts such as the skull, making them difficult to identify. In one case, Currie’s team managed to re-assemble a smashed-up arm bone, revealing that it belonged to Deinocheirus.


Dinosaur Dispute

Bolortsetseg Minjin, left, director of Mongolia’s natural history museum, talks with paleontologist Philip J. Currie, centre, and attorney Robert Painter, before a repatriation ceremony in 2013 to return a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton that was looted from the Gobi Desert and illegally smuggled into the U.S. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)


Some time later, Currie got a call from Pascal Godefroit, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, who thought he had found the skull and feet of Deinocheirus in a fossil dealer’s shop in France.


It turned out to be parts of the specimen that Currie found in 2009, presumably taken by poachers and then passed along from dealer to dealer before arriving in the shop of François Escuillie.


Escuillie, upon learning that the fossil had been illegally excavated, donated it back to the Mongolian government so it could be officially studied. Paleontologists avoid illegally obtained skeletons to discourage poaching, which causes serious damage to fossils and fossil sites.


While Currie has studied lots of species of dinosaurs over his career and discovered many new ones, he says none of them compares to Deinocheirus.


“It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life.”

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/deinocheirus-fossils-reveal-dinosaur-behind-huge-t-rex-arms-1.2808988?cmp=rss

ISIS fight: Airstrikes in Syria have killed nearly 600, monitoring group says

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Syria have killed more than 500 people, mainly Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, since they began last month, activists said Thursday, as warplanes targeted an oil field in the eastern Deir el-Zour province near Iraq.


The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said that since the airstrikes began on Sept. 23, 553 people have been killed, including 32 civilians. The civilians included six children and five women.


The group said it has documented the deaths of 464 fighters with the Islamic State group, adding that the real number could be much higher. Another 57 fighters with the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front were killed in airstrikes on the northern province of Aleppo and Idlib, the Observatory said.


Many of the Islamic State fighters have been killed in or near the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the target of a massive jihadi offensive since mid-September. IS fighters have captured dozens of Kurdish villages and forced more than 200,000 people to flee for safety in neighbouring Turkey.


Earlier this week, The U.S. Central Command said its forces have conducted more than 135 airstrikes against ISIS militants in and around Kobani, killing hundreds of fighters.


“Combined with continued resistance to ISIL on the ground, indications are that these strikes have slowed ISIL advances into the city, killed hundreds of their fighters and destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of ISIL combat equipment and fighting positions,” Central Command said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State group by one of its other common names.


An Associated Press journalist on the Turkish side of the border said heavy machine-gun fire could be heard from the town on Thursday.


The Observatory meanwhile reported four coalition airstrikes on oil wells in the Jafra field in Deir el-Zour late Wednesday. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist group, also reported the airstrikes in areas held by the Islamic State group.


The U.S.-led coalition has aggressively targeted ISIS-held oil facilities in Syria, which provide a key source of income for the militants. But such strikes also endanger civilians, which could undermine long-term efforts to destroy the militant group.


The attacks on the oil industry, including refineries, have also led to a sharp rise in the price of oil products in rebel-held areas of Syria.










Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/isis-fight-airstrikes-in-syria-have-killed-nearly-600-monitoring-group-says-1.2809900?cmp=rss

Ottawa gunman reportedly knew jihadist, wanted to travel to Libya

The convert to Islam who fatally shot a Canadian soldier guarding that country’s national war memorial Wednesday morning before attacking Parliament and being fatally shot by its sergeant-at-arms was a bureaucrat’s son who displayed possible signs of mental illness and had a connection to a homegrown jihadist who has traveled to Syria, according to a published report.

The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing a friend of 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, reported that the gunman knew Hasibullah Yusufzai, a British Columbia resident who was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in July with traveling to Syria with the intent of joining a deadly jihadist group. Yusufzai remains at large despite an international arrest warrant being issued for his capture.

Canadian authorities have not linked Zehaf-Bibeau to any known terrorists or terror groups, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper said investigators should learn in the coming days whether the gunman had any accomplices. It was not immediately clear whether Zehaf-Bibeau knew of Martin Couture-Rouleau, another Muslim convert from Quebec who killed one soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run attack Monday. 

The paper had previously reported that Zehaf-Bibeau had been designated by authorities as a “high-risk traveller” and was unable to secure documents necessary to go abroad. The friend, a fellow convert to Islam named David Bathurst, told the paper that Zehaf-Bibeau had told him six weeks ago that he wanted to travel to Libya, where he had previously spent time, to study Arabic and learn more about Islam. Bathurst told the paper he urged his friend to make certain that he would only travel to the Middle East to study and “nothing else.”

Zehaf-Bibeau may also have had a family connection to Libya. Official documents list Zehaf-Bibeau’s father as a man named Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman. The Globe and Mail cited this 2011 Washington Times report that quoted a Montreal man named as “Belgasem Zahef” who had taken part in the revolt against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. That man claimed that he had traveled from Canada to join the anti-Qaddafi rebels and had been detained for a month at an oil terminal, where he had witnessed scenes of torture. 

Zehaf-Bibeau’s mother is Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. Zehaf and Bibeau divorced in 1999, according to the Globe and Mail. 

Bathurst told the paper Zehaf-Bibeau had moved to British Columbia to find work as a miner and laborer before the two met in a suburban Vancouver mosque approximately three years ago. Bathurst said that his friend displayed signs of mental instability that attracted the attention of the mosque’s elders. 

“We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him,” Bathurst said in a Globe and Mail interview. He said his friend frequently talked about the presence of “Shaytan” in the world – an Arabic term for devils and demons. “I think he must have been mentally ill.” Bathurst added that elders at the mosque eventually asked Zehaf-Bibeau to stop attending prayers due to his “erratic” behavior, though he did not describe any specific incidents. 

Zehaf-Bibeau was also in trouble with the law in British Columbia, after racking up a long criminal record in Quebec since the early 2000s for crimes as varied as drug possession, credit card forgery, and robbery. He was also charged with robbery in Vancouver in 2011, but eventually was sentenced to one day in jail after pleading guilty to uttering a threat.  His lawyer at the time, Brian Anderson described the threat as “something fairly minor and fairly bizarre.” Anderson added that Zehaf-Bibeau was given pretrial psychiatric assessment and found fit. 

Click for more from The Globe and Mail.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/10/23/ottawa-gunman-displayed-possible-mental-illness-knew-homegrown-jihadist/

OBAMACARE SCRAMBLE Companies trying to avoid fines for noncompliant plans

With companies set to face fines next year for not complying with the new mandate to offer health insurance, some are pursuing strategies like enrolling employees in Medicaid to avoid penalties and hold down costs.

The health law’s penalties, which can amount to about $2,000 per employee, were supposed to start this year, but the Obama administration delayed them until 2015, when they take effect for firms that employ at least 100 people.

Now, as employers race to find ways to cover their full-time workers while holding a lid on costs, insurance brokers and benefits administrators are pitching a variety of options, sometimes exploiting wrinkles in the law.

The Medicaid option is drawing particular interest from companies with low-wage workers, brokers say. If an employee qualifies for Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the federal government and the states, the employer pays no penalty for that coverage.

“You’re taking advantage of the law as written,” said Adam Okun, a senior vice president at New York insurance broker Frenkel Benefits LLC.

Locals 8 Restaurant Group LLC, with about 1,000 workers, already offers health coverage, and next year plans to dial back some employees’ premium contributions. That is because an employer can owe penalties if its coverage doesn’t meet the law’s standard for affordability.

But the company, which is based in Hartford, Conn., hopes to reduce its costs by offering eligible employees a chance to enroll in Medicaid, using a contractor called BeneStream Inc. to help them sign up. The government program is more affordable for employees and saves money for Locals 8, said Chief Executive Al Gamble. “The burden gets shifted to Medicaid,” he said.

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/23/companies-try-to-escape-health-laws-penalties/

‘ONE OF THE WEIRDEST’ Scientists describe dinosaur with feathers, humpback

Odd Dinosaur_Cham640360102314.jpg

This undated handout image provided by Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group, shows a Deinocheirus. (AP Photo/Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group)

Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia and figured they had discovered a fearsome critter with killer claws.

Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it: goofy and weird.

The beast probably lumbered along on two legs like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing seven tons, with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of feathers here and there, and no teeth — and try not to snicker.

And if that’s not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.

That’s Deinocheirus mirificus (DY’-noh’-KY-ruhs mur-IHF’-ee-kuhs), which means “terrible hands that look peculiar.” It is newly reimagined after a full skeleton was found in Mongolia and described in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.  Some 70 million years old, it’s an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich and belongs to the dinosaur family often called ostrich dinosaurs.

“Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination,” study lead author Yuong-Nam Lee, director of the Geological Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, said in an email.

When scientists in 1965 found the first forearm bones — nearly 8 feet long — many of them envisioned “a creature that would strike terror in people,” said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr, who wasn’t part of the study. “Now it’s a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement.”

And yes, he said, “it’s pretty goofy.”

The find is tremendous but is a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions without enough evidence, said University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno, who wasn’t part of the discovery.

It also reminds us that evolution isn’t always what we think, Sereno said.

“This is evolution in a dinosaur — not a mammal — world,” Sereno said in email. “The starting point is a two-legged animal looking somewhat like a fuzzy-feathered ostrich. Now you want to get really big and suck up lots of soft vegetation. In the end you look like a goofy Michelin ostrich with fuzz and a tail — not a cow.”

Lee figures the tilted wide hips and massive feet show that Deinocheirus was a slow mover and probably grew so big to escape from being regularly feasted on by bigger dinosaurs.

It had a beak that could eat plants, but it also had a massive tongue that created suction for vacuuming up food from the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds, Lee wrote.

Originally Lee’s team couldn’t find the dinosaur’s skull, but a tip from another researcher led them to recover it from the private market in Germany.

Some kids will soon adopt this dinosaur as their favorite, Holtz said, “and those are kids with a sense of humor.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/10/23/scientists-describe-newly-discovered-dinosaur-as-one-weirdest-pretty-goofy/

SIGN OF A LANDSLIDE? GOP leads Dems in Iowa early vote for first time

More registered Republicans than registered Democrats have cast a ballot during early voting in Iowa for the first time in a modern-day election, according to a GOP report.

The report stated that as of Wednesday, the cumulative number of registered Republican early and absentee voting returns surpassed those of the Democrats by 305 ballots. 

An Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman told FoxNews.com that the numbers of early ballots cast are in flux, saying the numbers will continue to change over the coming days. She added that the party believes they “have a significant advantage on the ground.”

“Democrats are expanding the midterm electorate and are turning out non-midterm voters, while Republicans are simply encouraging their base to vote early,” Christina Freundlich said in a statement. “In requests alone, Democrats hold a 18,000 vote advantage relative to the Republican ballots, and we expect those ballots to flood in over the final days.”

The Wednesday numbers were the first time the GOP has led in Iowa in modern early voting history, according to Republicans. There are 13 remaining days of early voting in the state.

“The momentum has been building for a long time, but this development means Republicans have crossed a major Democrat firewall that had given them a boost going into Election Day in previous election cycles,” Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement. “Democrats are nowhere near where they need to be, and they are quickly running out of time.”

Absentee voting for this November’s midterm election began in Iowa in late September. The most competitive race in the state by far is the contentious battle between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat, which is currently held by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. The two candidates are in a dead heat, though Ernst is slightly leading in a Real Clear Politics polling average.

According to the memo, at this point in 2010 the Democrats led in early and absentee voting returns by 16,426 ballots. In 2008, they led by 56,908.

The Associated Press reported last month that the number of Iowa voters who had requested an absentee ballot 43 days out from the election nearly doubled that of 2010. Requests for absentee ballots for registered Republican voters were also up by 145 percent.

The GOP said in the report that the party has been engaging in a concentrated effort to increase its number of early voters this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/23/republicans-lead-dems-in-early-votes-cast-in-iowa-for-first-time-gop-says/

Parliament returns to new ‘normal’ after gunman’s attack

Industry Minister James Moore vows that the House of Commons will sit at 10 a.m. ET today as usual, despite the shooting that shook Ottawa the day before.


“Our democracy cannot and will not be intimidated by today’s events,” Moore tweeted Wednesday night.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will not be intimidated.


“In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts, and those of our national security agencies, to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” he said in an address to Canadians.


Parliamentarians, staffers and others will return to work one day after a gunman walked into the building just metres from the room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with his caucus.


The question on many minds is: How will it be different.


Will the stone walls and marble floors bear the pockmarked scars of the shooting? Will the broken glass, shattered when police burst through doors to search offices for intruders, be swept up? And, if security is tightened, how will it change how things work?


Security stepped up in recent years


RCMP said Wednesday afternoon that the threat level on Parliament Hill won’t change, but that doesn’t mean security measures won’t.


Indeed, while parliamentarians want to sit as usual Thursday — Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella also said he expects senators to be in their seats at the normal time — the Hill will be closed to visitors.


In the 13 years since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., Parliament Hill has dramatically increased security while keeping the grounds around the buildings wide open.


There’s even an open yoga class every Wednesday during the warm summer months where participants spread their brightly coloured mats around the front lawns. Canada Day sees tens of thousands of revellers crowd the area, and a sound and light show entertains people every night at the height of tourist season.


In the past few years, security has been stepped up even more, with the grand stone wall along Wellington Street extended to close off some entrances and retractable bollards — essentially big concrete cylinders — installed to control the remaining ones.


The number of surveillance cameras has quadrupled and all visitors, even those escorted by someone with a Hill pass, have to go through security at the entrance to Centre Block.


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said criminals will not dictate how Canadians govern the country.


“They cannot and will not dictate our values. And they do not get to decide how we use our shared public spaces,” he said in prepared remarks Wednesday night.


Country blessed by peace


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May urged calm while law enforcement officials investigate what happened.


“Today is not a day that ‘changes everything,'” she said in a statement.


“It is a day of tragedy. We must ensure we keep our responses proportionate to whatever threat remains.”


It’s hard to tell in the immediate aftermath of a shocking event just how much will change. It’s just as hard to know whether those changes will last.


There were moments Wednesday where some of it seemed routine: journalists waited outside with the same colleagues with whom they’ve staked out dozens of closed doors and public events. The newsrooms, albeit locked down, throbbed with the energy that only comes with the biggest of breaking stories. 


For the staffers locked inside their offices, advised to stack furniture to block the doors, hearing the police smash through neighbouring rooms to ensure no one was hiding, heading to work will likely feel a lot different.


After all the chaos and horror, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair sounded a reassuring note.


“Canada is shaken today but we shall not waver. We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace. And tomorrow, we will do the same.”


Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ottawa-shooting-how-parliament-will-carry-on-1.2809783?cmp=rss

Rio Tinto extends CEO’s tenure



MINING giant Rio Tinto has extended the tenure of its chief executive Sam Walsh.


THE company’s board has voted in favour of Mr Walsh and chief financial officer Chris Lynch continuing their roles, 18 months after taking up the positions.

“Since their appointments early last year, Sam and Chris have led a transformation of the business and established a track record of delivering on their promises,” chairman Jan du Plessis said. Rio, the world’s second largest miner, made a $US5.1 billion underlying profit in the first half of 2014, after cutting $US3.2 billion in operating costs and lowering capital expenditure. Both Mr Walsh and Mr Lynch are expected to move to open-ended contracts after Rio’s annual general meeting in early 2015, pending shareholder approval.
Mr Walsh’s initial contract was due to end on December 31, 2015 and Mr Lynch’s was due to end on February 28, 2017. Both Mr Walsh’s and Mr Lynch’s pay packages will remain unchanged. In May, shareholders voted in favour of a pay rise in line with inflation for Mr Walsh, who received a $US10 million-plus package in 2013.

Source Article from http://news.com.au.feedsportal.com/c/34564/f/632570/s/3fbdfc81/sc/46/l/0L0Snews0N0Bau0Cfinance0Cbusiness0Crio0Etinto0Eextends0Eceos0Etenure0Cstory0Ee6frfkur0E122710A0A1841110Dfrom0Fpublic0Irss/story01.htm

Rio Tinto extends CEO’s tenure



MINING giant Rio Tinto has extended the tenure of its chief executive Sam Walsh.


THE company’s board has voted in favour of Mr Walsh and chief financial officer Chris Lynch continuing their roles, 18 months after taking up the positions.

“Since their appointments early last year, Sam and Chris have led a transformation of the business and established a track record of delivering on their promises,” chairman Jan du Plessis said. Rio, the world’s second largest miner, made a $US5.1 billion underlying profit in the first half of 2014, after cutting $US3.2 billion in operating costs and lowering capital expenditure. Both Mr Walsh and Mr Lynch are expected to move to open-ended contracts after Rio’s annual general meeting in early 2015, pending shareholder approval.
Mr Walsh’s initial contract was due to end on December 31, 2015 and Mr Lynch’s was due to end on February 28, 2017. Both Mr Walsh’s and Mr Lynch’s pay packages will remain unchanged. In May, shareholders voted in favour of a pay rise in line with inflation for Mr Walsh, who received a $US10 million-plus package in 2013.

Rio Tinto extends CEO’s tenure



MINING giant Rio Tinto has extended the tenure of its chief executive Sam Walsh.


THE company’s board has voted in favour of Mr Walsh and chief financial officer Chris Lynch continuing their roles, 18 months after taking up the positions.

“Since their appointments early last year, Sam and Chris have led a transformation of the business and established a track record of delivering on their promises,” chairman Jan du Plessis said. Rio, the world’s second largest miner, made a $US5.1 billion underlying profit in the first half of 2014, after cutting $US3.2 billion in operating costs and lowering capital expenditure. Both Mr Walsh and Mr Lynch are expected to move to open-ended contracts after Rio’s annual general meeting in early 2015, pending shareholder approval.
Mr Walsh’s initial contract was due to end on December 31, 2015 and Mr Lynch’s was due to end on February 28, 2017. Both Mr Walsh’s and Mr Lynch’s pay packages will remain unchanged. In May, shareholders voted in favour of a pay rise in line with inflation for Mr Walsh, who received a $US10 million-plus package in 2013.

Polo brings Brit horsepower out to play



THERE are horses, glamour and buckets of money but British Polo Day is not the sort of event to stop the nation – that would be vulgar.


IN fact, the highly exclusive event, happening for the first time in Australia on Sunday, will only concern the 500 or so of the nation’s great and good who secure an invitation.

The 35 British Polo Day events staged around the world over the past three years have hosted a dozen royal families, 100 billionaires and hordes of the world’s business elite. Now it’s Australia’s turn. Founded by two former British Army cavalry officers – Edward Olver, a one-time banker turned CEO, and Tom Hudson, a former lawyer – British Polo Day is part fundraiser, part high-level networking opportunity and part trade mission to promote the finest luxury products Britain has to offer. Land Rover and the Queen’s own wine merchants Justerni & Brooks and royal riflemakers Holland & Holland are among the brands partnered with the event.
Helping run the show is managing director Ben Vestey – another former cavalry man, also a polo pal of Prince William and great-great-grandson of Australian opera great Dame Nellie Melba. British Polo Day will be held at Garangula, the private polo club on the country estate of Swiss-born financier Urs Schwarzenbach. Garangula, located northwest of Canberra, will host a match between two of Australia’s top polo teams as the champagne flows – once the guests are flown in by helicopter or chauffeured in by luxury four-wheel-drive. The guest list is private but James Packer, Australia’s best-known polo fan, won’t be present. Whether he was invited isn’t clear. “I don’t go into a market and get the Australian rich list,” Mr Olver said. Mr Olver can still drop plenty of big names though: Richard Branson, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and numerous sheikhs from the United Arab Emirates are among supporters of his venture, which has been held in 14 countries. “We have 15,000 of the most influential people in the world on our database,” he said. Just being famous or rich isn’t enough to secure an invitation. Someone like pop star Taylor Swift, Mr Olver observes, can make or break a brand with a tweet. “But whether she has influence, I’m not sure.” Mr Olver said the aim of British Polo Day is not just polo or just business. Instead his team wants to create an alternate way of doing business “based on old values of genuine integrity, loyalty, trust and understanding”. The “international language of the horse” has a way of crossing language barriers, he said. As well as the brand exposure, the events connect investors and businesspeople and raise money for charity – $US1.2 million to date.

CBA raises education bar for more planners

CBA sign.

The Commonwealth Bank has raised the bar on education qualifications for financial planners .
Source: AAP



COMMONWEALTH Bank has raised the bar on education qualifications for financial planners across its wealth management business as it attempts to move on from the shoddy financial advice scandal.


THE bank has announced better education standards for all advisers and staff in supervising and monitoring roles.

From Thursday, the new standards will apply to advisers working for its Financial Wisdom and Count Financial arms. This follows the introduction of similar education standards in July for Commonwealth Financial Planning and BW Financial Advice. As a minimum requirement, advisers at Count Financial and Financial Wisdom will need an advanced diploma in financial planning or equivalent, or a degree in finance, business or commerce. They could also be a certified financial planner or a fellow charted financial practitioner. At least 1,100 CBA customers lost savings from bad or unethical advice from CBA planners between 2006 and 2010.
Chief executive Ian Narev has apologised over the scandal and the bank has already paid $52 million in compensation. CBA executive general manager of wealth management advice Marianne Perkovic said Thursday’s announcement was part of an ongoing strategy to raise standards in the sector. “By being first to apply these new education standards to licensee staff in supervisor and monitoring roles, in addition to authorised representatives, CBA Wealth Management Advice is taking an industry lead role,” she said. The Australian Investments and Securities Commission recently ordered Macquarie Group to invite 160,000 of its past and current clients to seek compensation for flawed advice dating back to 2004.

Aussies cop fine over Indonesia air drama



TWO Australians have agreed to pay a fine for flying in Indonesian airspace without permits, but will not be free to leave the country immediately.


INDONESIAN air force jets had their weapons locked on the small plane piloted by Graeme Jackline and Richard MacLean when they forced it to land in Manado, Sulawesi, on Wednesday morning.

One of the Sukhoi pilots, Major Wanda Suriansyah, said he had locked a target on the Australian plane because it had refused to land for four hours. “If there was an order to shoot, I could immediately shoot,” he told Indonesian news website Tempo. “But thank God, the pilot finally got scared and landed in Manado.” The Australians were on a delivery job, taking a small 1966 Beechcraft twin-engine plane from Darwin to Cebu in the Philippines, when they were intercepted by two Indonesian jets.
On landing at Sam Ratulangi Airport, Manado, about 20 air force and airport officers swarmed the aircraft. A witness, Adolof, said about half of them had weapons. “They were laying on the ground while waiting for the plane to land,” he said. “After it landed the pilots came out and were searched.” The Australians looked annoyed as they were ordered off the plane and frisked, he told AAP. “When they got off the plane they were taken to the office, then airport staff took documents from the plane,” he said. Consular assistance was provided to the men, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says. After investigations, they had agreed to pay a fine of Rp 60 million ($A5670), airport spokesman Syaifullah Siregar said. “Yes, they have admitted their mistake and are ready to pay the fine as per our regulations,” he said. “But before paying the fine, we still must wait for a security clearance.” Air force spokesman Brigadier General Hadi Tjahjanto says the clearance should take 24 hours. With the fine paid and the clearance issued, the Australians will be free to go. “When we forced down the plane, they didn’t have several documents,” he said. He said they need a security clearance issued by Air Force Headquarters and a flight clearance from the Aviation Transportation Directorate General. “When all the requirements needed for those clearances are complete, it will only take a day to be issued, depending on the requirements they have.” The plane’s owner, Mr MacLean, is an experienced pilot and used-aircraft salesman who operates Australian Aircraft Sales in South Australia. His wife, Kaye, said he had completed aircraft deliveries around the world and understood the airspace permissions required, suggesting the incident could be a simple paperwork mishap. “I think there’s a misunderstanding,” she told Fairfax Media. Small aircraft are commonly sold internationally and delivered by air, but airspace permissions are required when flying through a country’s territory.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/yrA3bmc_GbA/story01.htm

Demolition of Whitlam birthplace on hold



THE demolition of former prime minister Gough Whitlam’s birthplace has been put on hold.


MR Whitlam, who died on Tuesday aged 98, was born at the house in Kew, Melbourne. His parents sold it when he was one year old and the family moved to Sydney.

A demolition order was lodged for the property in April, before an application for heritage protection was rejected by the office of Planning Minister Matthew Guy. However, Mr Guy said on Thursday he had applied for an interim protection order to put the demolition on hold, a move granted by the Heritage Council. City of Boroondara mayor Coral Ross said the council was pleased “this valuable piece of Australia’s history” was being protected for now. The demolition will be on hold for about four months while the issue of heritage protection is examined.
Mr Guy said the interim protection order meant works on the property had to stop immediately and it would allow for a fresh consideration of the property’s cultural significance given Mr Whitlam’s death. He said he had no direct power as planning minister to intervene and any person may apply for an interim protection order as he did.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/gdZfXPHVnio/story01.htm