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RIP Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers has died.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers," Melissa Rivers said in a written statement today. "She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother.

According to the Daily News, Melissa made the decision to remove her from life support.

R.I.P. Joan.

As to comments, keep them positive or post them elsewhere. We have a policy that we don't criticize people on the occasion of their death.

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Tech Talk

My iPhone 5s died yesterday. It just wouldn't turn on. I ended up having to plug it into my computer and restore the factory settings, and then an old backup. It took hours, and it worked -- until this morning. Dead as a doornail again.

I took it to the Apple store, and without my even asking, they offered me a brand new phone, same model. They set it up in 5 minutes. (Now I have to sync it and get all my music and apps back on it, but at least I won't have to keep doing it tomorrow and the next day.) Thank you Apple!

Apple is coming out with a 13" iPad. I still have the original iPad, which doesn't work with a lot of more advanced video apps, so maybe it will be time for a new one. I really like the big screen -- but then, I'm one of the few people I know who still prefer a desktop to a laptop. Anyone else tempted to buy it? [More...]

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Emmys: Breaking Bad

The Emmys have been so boring. Maybe it is the low-key production. But they just picked up with Aaron Paul winning Best supporting actor for Breaking Bad.

Here's a thread for all things Emmy related.

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Good Night Vietnam: RIP Robin Williams

Update 8/12: A new detailed statement from the Marin County Sheriff's on Robin Williams death. Really sad.


As Howard Cossell would say, "An unspeakable tragedy tonight in Tiberon, CA." Robin Williams, who struggled so hard against depression, lost the battle and took his own life today at age 63. The Marin County Sheriff's office has issued a release:

At this time, the Sheriff's Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

Depression kills. Our condolences to his family and everyone who knew and loved him.

There aren't many people who could dislodge Iraq and ISIS from all three major cable news networks, for over an hour, and Robin Williams is clearly one of them. R.I.P. Robin, and thank you for sharing your talent and generosity will so many millions of people. You will be missed.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo TV

The Supreme Court has ruled for broadcasters and against Aereo TV in the battle over Aereo's tiny antennas which allow people to watch live TV broadcasts over the Internet. The opinion is here. (Background is here.)

The Court today ruled (with Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas dissenting) that Aereo's service is one that transmits performances of copyrighted works to the public. It rejected Aereo's arguments that it merely supplies equipment that allows others to do so. [More...]

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"Senor de los Cielos" Second Season Begins

"Senor de los Cielos", Telemundo's series, based on Mexican drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes, also known as "Lord of the Skies", starts its second season tonight. In the series, his name is Auerlio Casillas.

Although Carrillo Fuentes supposedly died on the operating table in 1997 while undergoing plastic surgery to change his appearance, he rises from the dead in the second series and returns to reclaim his business, his family and his assets. Also "returning from the dead" this season is his chief mistress and fellow drug trafficker, Monica Robles.

The network will be all Senor de Los Cielos all night. At 7pm ET, there will be a program “En La Sombra del Narco,” "a one-hour special about the reach of Mexican and Colombian drug cartels into US territory." One of those interviewed will be Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, alias El Tigre, the Colombian trafficker and boyfriend of Sandra Beltran, who was an early link between the Colombian and the Mexican traffickers.[More...]

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Greenwald's New Book on Snowden

Glenn Greenwald has written a new book, No Place to Hide, that is getting great reviews. It's about the chaos in the hours and days following the Edward Snowden disclosures. The Guardian has an excerpt here. From Amazon's page on the book:

Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.


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Monica's Back, Did You Miss Her?

Monica Lewinsky is back in the news, this time of her own making. She's decided to tell her story after 20 years of silence in the new Vanity Fair.

She wants to set the record straight and take back control of her life. Her goal, she says:

Her current goal, she says, “is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”


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White House Correspondents Dinner 2014

President Obama is about to speak.

Watching on TV, it seemed like a very lackluster affair tonight. Very little glamour and everyone looked tired, with the exception of Arianna Huffington, who looked terrific and was very animated.

Maybe it's because we're getting towards the end of Obama's "reign." During the dinner, he kept shaking his head "no" when the server wanted to give him food. He rubbed his eyes. He perked up and started smiling just before he was about to speak, when a flock of males all came up to greet him like groupies. Interesting that no females were fawning over him.

Is anyone else watching? I doubt I'll make it through Joel McHale. (Update: I watched him, comments below):[More...]

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Comcast Announces Divestiture of Some Markets

Comcast today announced that it will divest 3.9 million subscribers of Comcast and Time Warner to Charter Communications and a new spinoff company, after its planned acquisition of Time Warner.

Contrary to earlier reports, Comcast is holding onto Colorado. Most of the divestitures are in the Midwest and South and currently belong to Time Warner.

The changes would occur after approval of the Comcast-Time Warner deal, and are intended to increase the likelihood of the deal's approval.

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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Aereo Case

Here is the transcript of today's oral argument in the Supreme Court in the case of ABC v. Aereo. Aereo is a broadcast tv streaming service that for a small monthly fee, allows computer and mobile device users to access their network of antennas and watch shows that are broadcast on free over the air channels in their area. Not surprisingly, the TV networks want to shut them down.

The networks claim Aereo violates copyright laws. Aereo says all it does it provide access to the antennas and the user decides what to watch.

The legal issues are very technical. One has to do with whether Aereo's service falls under the "public performance" or "reproduction" part of the copyright statute. If the networks are right, then Aereo is in violation of the law for not paying re-transmission fees to the networks. (Networks earn $3 billion a year in re-transmission fees from cable and satellite providers.) [More...]

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R.I.P. Ruben "Hurricane" Carter" (Open Thread)

Bob Dylan - Hurricane - 1975 Live by movisfree

R.I.P Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, who died this weekend in Toronto of complications from prostate cancer at age 76.

Carter spent 19 years in prison for a triple killing in New Jersey before a federal judge ruled in 1985 that he and John Artis, who was with Carter on the night of the shootings, did not receive fair trials and released them.

Artis was with Carter when he died early Sunday morning.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Guardian and WaPo Win Pulitzers for NSA Coverage

The Guardian and Washington Post have won gold medal Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of the National Security Agency's secret electronic surveillance program. The announcement is here. The full list of winners, with citations, is here.

For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material, a gold medal.

Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.


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Steven Colbert to Replace David Letterman

Late night TV viewers are about to get a new choice -- Steven Colbert has been tapped to replace the retiring David Letterman.

Good choice.

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"The Good Wife": How Not to Handle a Major Character's Departure

The creators of "The Good Wife" decided that the best way to handle Will Gardner's decision to leave the show was to have him killed by a client at the courthouse. Here's their explanation. Poor choice.

Even worse, now the show will bring back Michael J. Fox, in his role as a sleazy lawyer, and Stockard Channing, as Alicia's irrelevant mother. And judging from the preview for next week, Alicia and Peter will recreate The Taming of the Shrew.

The show has been off its game most of this season. The "new firm" storyline went nowhere, they turned Eli Gold into a neurotic mess and they neutered Galinda by pairing her with milk-toast Carey. The new characters, like the ethics lady, and Will's yoga teacher girlfriend, were one-dimensional and embarrassingly demeaning. The only thing we were spared (for the most part) this season were Alicia's unappealing teenage kids. [More...]

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