Category Archives: Movies

Coroner: Natalie Wood’s wounds open possibility she was assaulted before drowning

wagner wood
Michael Baden, a former New York examiner and noted trial expert witness, said that although both examinations of Wood’s body looked at the same evidence, the new report found the bruising to be far more significant — enough to change the official cause of death.

latimes.com | Jan 14, 2013

Through three decades of fevered tabloid speculation and whispers of a deeper story, the official account never changed: Natalie Wood drowned accidentally. The 43-year-old star of “West Side Story,” who couldn’t swim, had been drinking the night before she was found floating face-down in frigid waters off Santa Catalina Island.

When the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case in November 2011 around the 30th anniversary of her death, skeptics questioned the timing and doubted whether there was anything new to be learned.

Instead of quieting speculation, the investigation has raised fresh — and probably unanswerable — questions about one of Hollywood’s most enduring puzzles.

In a report released Monday, Los Angeles County Coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran questioned the original 1981 findings and changed Wood’s cause of death from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

The coroner’s report cited unexplained fresh bruising on the actress’ right forearm, left wrist and right knee, along with a scratch on her neck and a scrape on her forehead. Officials said the wounds open the possibility that she was assaulted before drowning.

“This Examiner is unable to exclude non-accidental mechanism causing these injuries,” the report said, adding that evidence suggested the bruises occurred before Wood entered the water.

Sheriff’s investigators said the case remains open but that detectives have reached an impasse. One law enforcement source who has worked on the case said detectives may never have a conclusive answer, given that “evidence is stale… with fading memories and incomplete forensics.”

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing, said there is not enough evidence to classify the case as a crime, much less a homicide.

Experts said it is highly unusual for coroners to contradict the autopsy findings performed by their own office. Michael Baden, a former New York examiner and noted trial expert witness, said that although both examinations of Wood’s body looked at the same evidence, the new report found the bruising to be far more significant — enough to change the official cause of death.

“Sathyavagiswaran knows by issuing this opinion that he will unleash criticism on his predecessor and questions over how it handled a celebrity death three decades ago,” Baden said. “He knows in saying this he is criticizing [former coroner] Dr. [Thomas] Noguchi and the office back in 1981.”

Noguchi did not return calls for comment. The new report noted “conflicting statements” about when Wood disappeared and whether she had argued with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, who — along with her “Brainstorm” costar Christopher Walken — were on the 60-foot yacht where she was last seen alive Nov. 28, 1981.

Hours before her death, authorities said, the three actors had dinner at Doug’s Harbor Reef restaurant and then returned to the yacht, called the Splendour, where they drank and an argument ensued between Walken and Wagner.

According to the new autopsy report, Wood went missing about midnight, and an analysis of her stomach contents placed her death around that time. The report said Wagner placed a radio call to report her missing at 1:30 a.m. the next morning.

Roger Smith, the Los Angeles County rescue boat captain who helped pull Wood’s body from the water, said he did not receive a call to look for her until after 5 a.m.

The original investigators believed Wood received her bruises falling off the yacht and struggling to pull herself from the water into a rubber dinghy, whose starboard side bore scratch marks that seemed consistent with such a theory.

But in his report, Sathyavagiswaran noted that investigators did not take nail clippings from Wood’s body to determine whether she’d made the scratch marks, and the dinghy was no longer available to be examined. The coroner believes Wood died soon after entering the water.

In an interview Monday, Smith said he wonders whether Wood might have been found alive if the rescue effort had gotten underway sooner. “There’s no question in my mind that he just delayed calling for us,” Smith said, referring to Wagner.

Smith said he and a deputy examined Wood’s body but saw no bruises. “We went over her very closely,” said Smith, 68. “When we looked at her, we didn’t see any bruises. We were looking for needle marks or anything like that — we didn’t see anything.”

He said the cold water may have delayed any bruising. He said he examined the dinghy, which was found beached nearby, and saw dislodged seats and what looked like “nail marks along the inside of the raft,” as if Wood had tried frantically to reach in and rescue herself.

“She probably couldn’t pull herself in because she was so weak,” Smith said. “It looked like she was maybe grabbing things. I just think she was trying to get in.”

Smith said he had doubted an earlier claim by yacht captain Dennis Davern that he had seen bruises on Wood’s body. “He could not have seen bruises on her because out of decency, I covered her up with a disposable blanket,” Smith said.

Wagner has said his wife was not suicidal and called her death a tragic accident. According to the account given by his spokesman, when Wagner noticed his wife missing, he believed she had taken the dinghy and went looking for her after 10 to 15 minutes, then contacted the Harbor Patrol when he couldn’t find her.

Wagner could not be reached for comment Monday.

“I have gone over it so many millions of times with people,”  Wagner told The Times in 2008.

Jackie Chan: China should crack down on Hong Kong protesters

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Martial arts star Jackie Chan Photo: Getty Images

Jackie Chan, the martial arts star, has placed his Kung Fu-kicking foot in his mouth by reportedly suggesting Chinese authorities should crackdown on Hong Kong’s vibrant protest movement.

telegraph.co.uk | Dec 12, 2012

By Tom Phillips, Shanghai

The actor’s comments, made during an interview with a Chinese newspaper, provoked a fierce reaction from critics who described him as a stooge for the Chinese government.

“Hong Kong has become a city of protest,” Chan, the star of more than 100 films, reportedly told China’s Southern People Weekly newspaper.

“People scold China’s leaders, or anything else they like, and protest against everything.

“The authorities should stipulate what issues people can protest over and on what issues it is not allowed,” he added.

Hong Kong’s residents, many of whom are fiercely proud of their ability to speak and protest freely, were quick to respond.

“Chan doesn’t bother to understand why some Hong Kong people choose to take to the streets. He just tends to think that whatever the government does is correct,” Leung Man-tao, a Hong Kong-based writer, told Hong Kong’s leading newspaper, the South China Morning Post.

The newspaper also published photographs showing Mr Chan himself protesting on three separate occasions. “The Rush Hour star has obviously forgotten his own penchant for protesting,” it noted.

Online opinion also rounded on the Hong Kong-born film star. “Protest is a basic right for Hong Kong people,” wrote Cao Junshu on the Chinese microblog Weibo. “Jackie Chan has problems with morals and in the realm of thought. He is following the government so closely and takes great delight in kissing ass. In fact, this man has a loose mouth.”

Chan, 58, has fallen foul of public opinion before. In 2009 he triggered outrage after telling a forum in China: “I don’t know whether it is better to have freedom or to have no freedom. With too much freedom, it can get very chaotic. Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will do whatever they want.” A British colony until it was returned to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong retains considerable autonomy from the mainland under Beijing’s “One-country, two-systems” policy.

The shelves of Hong Kong’s bookshops are stocked with books and magazines that are banned in mainland China and its streets frequently host major protests which would not be permitted on the mainland.

In September, thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest against Beijing-backed plans to introduce compulsory “moral and national education” classes to local schools.

The protests underlined growing nervousness about Beijing’s perceived meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

5 creepiest surveillance tactics

cameras

Mannequins that watch you shop. Buses that hear you chat. Modern surveillance has taken a page right out of Orwell

Alternet | Dec 13, 2012

Since the erosion of Americans’ civil liberties depends on high levels of public apathy, some of the most dangerous privacy breaches take place incrementally and under the radar; if it invites comparisons to Blade Runner or Orwell, then someone in the PR department didn’t do their job. Meanwhile, some of the biggest threats to privacy, like insecure online data or iPhone GPS tracking, are physically unobtrusive and therefore easily ignored. And it’ll be at least a year or two until the sky is overrun by spy drones.

So when a method of surveillance literally resembles a prop or plot point in a sci-fi movie, it helps to reveal just how widespread and sophisticated commercial and government monitoring has become.  Here are five recent developments that seem almost unreal in their dystopian creepiness.

1. Buses and street cars that can hear what you say.

You can’t really go anywhere in America without being tracked by surveillance cameras. But seeing what people do is not enough; according to a report by the Daily, cities all over the country are literally bugging public transportation.

In San Francisco, city officials have plans to install surveillance cameras that record sound on 357 buses and trolley cars, the Daily reported. Eugene, Oregon and Columbus, Hartford and Athens, Georgia, also have audio recording plans in the works. The systems have the capacity to filter background noise and hone in on passengers’ conversations.

Officials have said that the system is merely intended to help resolve disputes between bus riders. San Francisco officials did not comment, but the Daily found a similar justification in procurement documents for the technology. “The purpose of this project is to replace the existing video surveillance systems in SFMTA’s fleet of revenue vehicles with a reliable and technologically advanced system to increase passenger safety and improve reliability and maintainability of the system.”

It’s nice that the Department of Homeland Security, which covered the entire cost of San Francisco’s system, is so committed to ensuring pleasant bus rides for passengers.

2. Mannequins that can see you.

A handful of retailers in the US and Europe are installing mannequins in their stores that can determine customers’ age, gender and race, Bloomberg reported last month. Don’t worry, the face recognition-equipped camera is hidden, so there is no way to tell whether the giant plastic dolls in the store are watching you as you shop. The company that developed the mannequins (named EyeSee) sells their attributes thusly:

This special camera installed inside the mannequin’s head analyzes the facial features of people passing through the front and provides statistical and contextual information useful to the development of targeted marketing strategies. The embedded software can also provide other data such as the number of people passing in front of a window at certain times of the day.

They are also developing audio technology that can pick up key words from customer conversations to help them tailor their marketing plans. A screen that displays advertising geared specifically to each customers’ demographic is also in EyeSee’s future.

Really, wouldn’t the ideal marketing scenario be if human customers were replaced by mannequins programmed to buy everything the other mannequins were selling?

3. Biometric time clocks.

For too long, employers lacked the ability to extract every second of labor from their workers with scientific precision. Thanks to the wonders of face recognition technology, many employees in low-wage workplaces are now required to log in to work on face recognition readers instead of using key cards or codes. Biometric time clocks like FaceIn, most commonly used at construction sites, create an avatar of the workers’ face that the machine keeps forever and that ages alongside the employee. Allegedly, it can tell twins apart.

Meanwhile, many fast food restaurants and retailers have started using biometric time clocks that record digital fingerprints, like the creepily named U.are.U digital fingerprint reader, to prevent employees from coming in late or giving out discounts.

4. Tagging children.

It’s probably best to train people in robotic discipline early, and many US schools, aided by surveillance technology vendors, are on it. Last month, a Texas sophomore sued her school district for making students carry RFID chips that tracked their movements, but that’s just the start. School administrators all over the country use CCTV cameras, RFID chips, and GPS tracking to moniter where students go and what they do, as David Rosen reported for AlterNet. One pilot program for middle schoolers used GPS to make sure kids aren’t late: 

Each school day, the delinquent students get an automated “wake-up” phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. In addition, five times a day they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations: as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm. These students are also assigned an adult “coach” who calls them at least three times a week to see how they are doing and help them find effective ways to make sure they get to school.

5. Biometric databases.

Federal agencies ranging from the DoD to the FBI to the DHS are revamping their databases to include iris scans, voice patterning, measures of gait, face recognition, and records of scars and tattoos. They also have a mandate to indiscriminately share this information between agencies and with unnamed foreign entities.

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Risk of a Terminator Style Robot Uprising to be Studied

terminator

technorati.com | Nov 27, 2012

by Adi Gaskell

In the movie Terminator, machines had grown so intelligent that by 2029 they had effectively taken over the planet, seeking to exterminate what remained of the human race along the way.

While that is firmly in the camp of science fiction, a team of researchers from Cambridge, England, are investigating what risk, if any, technology poses to mankind.

The research, conducted by the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CESR), will look at the threat posed by technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and climate change.

While many of us may think it unlikely that robots will take over Earth, the scientists at the center said that dismissing such possibilities would in itself be ‘dangerous’.

“The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake,” the researchers wrote on a website set up for the center.

The CSER project has been co-founded by Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn.

“It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology,” Prof Price told the AFP news agency.

“What we’re trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community.”

Ban ‘killer robots’ rights group urges


A screen shot from Terminator Salvation. File picture. Image by: Industrial Light & Magic.

Hollywood-style robots able to shoot people without permission from their human handlers are a real possibility and must be banned, campaigners warn.

Sapa-AFP | Nov 20, 2012

The report “Losing Humanity” – issued by Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic – raised the alarm over the ethics of the looming technology.

Calling them “killer robots,” the report urged “an international treaty that would absolutely prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.”

The US military already leads the way in military robots, notably the unmanned aircraft or drones used for surveillance or attacks over Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere. But these are controlled by human operators in ground bases and are not able to kill without authorisation.

Fully autonomous robots that decide for themselves when to fire could be developed within 20 to 30 years, or “even sooner,” the 50-page report said, adding that weapon systems that require little human intervention already exist.

Raytheon’s Phalanx gun system, deployed on US Navy ships, can search for enemy fire and destroy incoming projectiles all by itself. The X47B is a plane-sized drone able to take off and land on aircraft carriers without a pilot and even refuel in the air.

Perhaps closest to the Terminator-type killing machine portrayed in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action films is a Samsung sentry robot already being used in South Korea, with the ability to spot unusual activity, talk to intruders and, when authorised by a human controller, shoot them.

Fully autonomous fighting machines would spare human troops from dangerous situations. The downside, though, is that robots would then be left to make nuanced decisions on their own, the most fraught being the need to distinguish between civilians and combatants in a war zone.

“A number of governments, including the United States, are very excited about moving in this direction, very excited about taking the soldier off the battlefield and putting machines on the battlefield and thereby lowering casualties,” said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch.

While Goose said “killer robots” do not exist as yet, he warned of precursors and added that the best way to forestall an ethical nightmare is a “preemptive, comprehensive prohibition on the development or production of these systems.”  Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said in Washington that the prospect of killer robots “totally freaked me out.”  “I had visions of the Terminator,” she said.

“The thought that this development was proceeding without any public discussion I found more reprehensible than most military R&D because I really believe that this would… totally transform the face of warfare.”

The problem with handing over decision-making power to even the most sophisticated robots is that there would be no clear way of making anyone answer for the inevitable mistakes, said Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics at University of Sheffield.

“If a robot goes wrong, who’s accountable? It certainly won’t be the robot,” he said.

“The robot could take a bullet in its computer and go berserk, so there’s no way of really determining who’s accountable and that’s very important for the laws of war.”

The Illuminati Symbolism of Ke$ha’s “Die Young” and How it Ridicules the Indoctrinated Masses


As the car door opens, a Skull and Bones symbols flashes, representing the cult of death emanating from this car.

There are tons of videos with the same message and symbolism as Die Young – all promoting the same Agenda. Brainwashed by thousands of hours of music videos, young people become like the cult followers in Ke$ha’s video, pushed to live pointless, self-destructive lives based on the gratification of their lowest impulses. Indulging in one’s animalistic instincts has always been considered to be the opposite of reaching spiritual enlightenment – and that’s exactly what the elite wants. If the masses were to gain enough awareness to avoid the traps and pitfalls set up by the system, the virtual enslavement caused by debt and mass-media mind control would crumble.

vigilantcitizen.com | Nov 15, 2012

By VC

Ke$ha’s “Die Young” is probably one of the most blatant Illuminati videos ever released. While the symbolism is so overt that it is almost ridiculous, there’s an underlying message to the video: Even if you’re dumb enough to embrace all of that Illuminati brainwash, you’re still not part of the elite and therefore, still subject to “Die Young”.

Ke-dollarsign-ha has never been the most inspirational singer around. She started her career as an alcoholic party girl that’s not too strict about personal hygiene (see the Tik Tok line “Before I leave brush ma teeth with a bottle of Jack”) and, for her new album, she turned into some kind of Illuminati witch-type deal. She is far from the only pop star that has gone through this kind of metamorphosis and it was probably pre-planned by her record label. How many singers have gone from an “around-the-way” girl to an Illuminati figurehead? That’s what the industry does.

To the untrained eye this kind of transformation is usually somewhat subtle … Ke$ha’s Die Young is anything but. In fact, it is one giant clusterfreak of Illuminati symbols. It is so obvious and in-your-face that it forced mainstream music sources such as Billboard.com to “admit” that the video was all about Illuminati symbols (see their article entitled Ke$ha Shouts-Out Illuminati in ‘Die Young’ Video). Interestingly enough, not too long ago, these same sites were calling sites like Vigilant Citizen “batshit crazy” for even alluding to the existence of these symbols and describing their meaning. Now these sites say “Yeah, there are Illuminati symbols” in a matter-of-fact way. What happened to the batshit crazy part? However, the mainstream sites still only refer to this concept in an extremely superficial way, not giving any insight on their true meaning and the real Agenda behind it all.

Some might rationalize what is happening by saying: “Ke$ha did it for the LOLs and to make fun of the conspiracies”. This is plausible, but this argument is now surfacing every time a video contains Illuminati symbolism. Are all videos now making fun of conspiracies? In reality, Ke$ha didn’t do anything for any LOLs. She did not write the song (it was written by Lukasz Gottwald, Benjamin Levin, Henry Walter and Nate Ruess) and she did not direct the video. She is just performing what she is told to perform, like most pop stars. The fact of the matter is: Illuminati symbols are becoming more prevalent because that was the plan all along: To gradually make them part of popular culture. The occult elite is revealing itself and the masses are dancing to their tunes.

The real issue at stake is however not the symbols that are flashed on screen, but the underlying messages that are communicated to the viewers. It is about the Agenda – about making specific values and attitudes cool and desirable to young people. It is about promoting the culture of death (i.e. Die Young), about sexualizing everything, about materialism, about a corrupted and debased brand of spirituality and so forth.

As I watch Ke$ha and her gang fondling themselves, I can’t help but wonder: Is the video making fun of the masses that have been brainwashed by the lifestyle promoted by the elite?  Let’s look at the video.

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Related

Massive use of Illuminati occult imagery in Ke$ha ‘Die Young’ cult orgy video

Terminator-style self-healing robot skin moves closer to reality

rsc.org | Nov 12, 2012

by Simon Hadlington

Scientists have developed a self-healing, pressure sensitive polymer ‘skin’ © Moviestore collections/Rex Features

Synthetic skin for robots that can repair itself when it becomes damaged – akin to the idea of the T-800 cyborg in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator films – has taken a step closer to reality with new research by scientists in the US. The researchers, led by Zhenan Baoof Stanford University in California, have created a flexible, touch-sensitive, electrically conducting and pressure-sensitive polymer-based material that could have ‘e-skin’ applications for robots or prosthetic body parts, such as artificial hands.

The polymer matrix consists of a network of randomly branched oligomers that contain multiple urea groups. The presence of these groups results in a high density of hydrogen bonding within the network – contributing substantially to the structural integrity of the matrix’s scaffold. Nickel particles are dispersed throughout the matrix. The presence of oxygen on the surface of the nickel particles, in the form of an oxide, also allows hydrogen bonds to be made with the urea groups, further contributing to the structural stability of the composite.

The extensive hydrogen bonding accounts for the self-healing properties of the material and the nickel particles for its electrical conductivity and pressure-sensitivity, as team member Benjamin Tee explains. ‘Because hydrogen bonds are weaker than covalent bonds, when the material is damaged the hydrogen bonds break preferentially. Because hydrogen bonding is dynamic, the bonds can reassociate very quickly and this results in the material’s mechanical healing properties.’ If the material is ruptured, it spontaneously repairs itself and regains its mechanical strength within around 10 minutes.

Tiny spikes

The micro-nickel particles impart electrical conductivity to the material. ‘The particles do not need to be in contact with each other for electrical conductivity to occur,’ says Tee. ‘Electrons can hop between the particles through quantum tunnelling.’ The team found that particles that were microscopically rough, covered with tiny spikes, produced a more efficient conducting matrix than smooth particles. This, Tee says, is because the electronic charge accumulates at the tips of the surface spikes, enhancing quantum tunnelling and thereby enabling more efficient charge transfer throughout the matrix. The team showed that if the polymer is broken or damaged, once the damaged parts are placed together and the healing process starts, electrical conductivity is almost completely restored within about 15 seconds.

The ‘e-skin’ can detect the application of pressure. The harder someone presses the brighter the mannequin’s LED glows © NPG

If an external load is applied to the polymer, this changes the distance between the nickel particles, resulting in a change in conductivity. This allows the e-skin to detect changes in pressure or its shape – which would allow, for example, the position of moveable joints to be monitored. However, the material is not as stretchy as the researchers would like – something, Tee says, that is now being worked on.

Commenting on the work, Wayne Hayes, an expert in self-healing polymers at the University of Reading in the UK, says: ‘Although this isn’t the first example of a supramolecular polymer–metallic particle composite, the paper does report the successful use of electrical conductivity in the route to healable elastomers and materials of this type do offer a way towards healable devices, especially in coatings or the biomedical field.’ Hayes adds: ‘It is a nice preliminary result but there is a significantly more fundamental science needed to understand the healing mechanism within this type of composite and further development work required before such materials can be used in feasible devices.’