Sunday, January 12, 2014

Iran Into A Heck Of A Deal

Looks like the tentative deal with the P5+1 nations (The five permanent members of the UN security Council, the US, Russia, France, the UK and China, plus Germany) and Iran announced last November is now going forward as a real framework for peace starting January 20th.

Iran and six world powers have agreed on how to put in place an accord that would temporarily freeze much of Iran’s nuclear program, American and Iranian officials said on Sunday. 
That accord would go into effect on Jan. 20. 
International negotiators worked out an agreement in November to constrain much of Iran’s program for six months so that diplomats would have time to pursue a more comprehensive follow-up accord. 
But before the temporary agreement could take effect, negotiators had to work out the technical procedures for carrying it out and resolve some of its ambiguities in concert with the International Atomic Energy Agency. 
Under the interim agreement, Iran would stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, a level that would be sufficient for energy production but that would require further enrichment for making bombs. 
Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent would be diluted or converted to oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.

So the interim deal is in place and is moving forward.  Now, the real work of a lasting deal with Iran will begin.

Republicans of course are already screaming bloody murder.

Long Time Coming For Leading Ladies

As Buzzfeed writer Adam Vary points out, The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, became the #1 box office movie of 2013 finally surpassing Iron Man 3.  I enjoyed the film myself and thought it was a stronger movie than the first, and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is simply amazing.

There's another more notable reason for the film's box office take:

To be fair, since The Exorcist opened in 1973, there have been films featuring women in arguably lead roles that have topped the domestic box office for the year: 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone both starred Emma Watson; 2009’s Avatar starred Zoe Saldana; 1997’s Titanic starred Kate Winslet; and 1978’s Grease starred Olivia Newton-John. But all of those movies also featured a male actor either as a co-lead or the film’s main protagonist (respectively, Daniel Radcliffe, Sam Worthington, Leonardo DiCaprio, and John Travolta). 
Jennifer Lawrence, by contrast, is inarguably the sole protagonist of Catching Fire. Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Claflin fill in the main supporting roles, but we do not track their emotional story in the movie. We only track Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. 
In truth, The Exorcist just barely qualifies as a film with a solo female protagonist. The Oscar-winning horror film starts off following Chris MacNeil’s (Ellen Burstyn) terror at the deteriorating health of her young daughter Regan (Linda Blair). But the second half of the film essentially drops Burstyn’s role as two priests played by Max von Sydow and Jason Miller perform the titular exorcism on Regan. 
If you want to find a No. 1 movie with a woman as the clear, unambiguous lead, you’ve got to go back to 1968’s Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand as groundbreaking comedienne Fanny Brice. (Omar Sharif plays Brice’s first husband Nicky Arnstein, and though the film tracks the arc of their relationship, it does so from Brice’s point of view.)

So it's been 40 (or 45, depending on your view) years since a #1 box office movie in the US had a solo female lead as the star.

That's a devastating indictment of Hollywood, frankly.  And more power to Jennifer Lawrence with her upcoming films.

More Breaches Of Trust

Meanwhile, the credit card information breach announced by Target earlier this month is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to compromised credit info during the holidays last year.

Target Corp and Neiman Marcus are not the only U.S. retailers whose networks were breached over the holiday shopping season last year, according to sources familiar with attacks on other merchants that have yet to be publicly disclosed. 
Smaller breaches on at least three other well-known U.S. retailers took place and were conducted using similar techniques as the one on Target, according to the people familiar with the attacks. Those breaches have yet to come to light. Also, similar breaches may have occurred earlier last year. 
The sources said that they involved retailers with outlets in malls, but declined to elaborate. They also said that while they suspect the perpetrators may be the same as those who launched the Target attack, they cannot be sure because they are still trying to find the culprits behind all of the security breaches. 
Law enforcement sources have said they suspect the ring leaders are from Eastern Europe, which is where most big cyber crime cases have been hatched over the past decade.

This is the kind of thing that worries me most about information security and privacy.  Having been a victim of identity theft in the past and all I had to go through in order to get my information back in proper order, I'm far more worried about sloppy corporate abuses and data thieves actively making my life miserable than I am the federal government in theory.

You also have to wonder about Republicans yelling that we don't need anything like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau either because government is baaaaaaaaad.

It's not government that's screwing up here, folks.
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