April 2017

Travel

Brussels city guide: what to see plus the best bars, hotels and restaurants

Ignore the cynics, Brussels is one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, with hip bars and cafes, vintage markets and a fine line in the ‘9th Art’

Living in Paris, I am used to getting a surprised look from French friends when I tell them I am off for a fun weekend in Brussels. For sure, this may not be a top-10 destination for sightseeing, though the monumental Grand Place, with its ornate guild houses and palaces, ranks alongside Venice’s Piazza San Marco as Europe’s most breathtaking square. But the Belgian capital is forever reinventing itself with hip new places to stay, restaurants, bars and nightlife, as well as shopping that spans designer fashion boutiques to vintage bargains at one of the great authentic flea markets on the Jeu de Balle square.

Every weekend there is an event taking place, from the funky Food Truck Festival to nonstop concerts and street theatre in Brussels Summer Festival, followed by Design September and Brussels Fashion Days in October. There’s some serious partying during Belgian Beer Weekend (2-3 September) and the month-long traditional Christmas market.

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Business

Top ISIS leader suspected to be dead after battle that killed two US soldiers in Afghanistan

Cameron ThomasWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two US special operations forces soldiers killed in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday may have been struck by friendly fire in an operation targeting the emir of Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters that the military was investigating whether the two troops may have been killed by ground fire, either by American forces or Afghan commandos taking part in the raid, though it appeared to be accidental.

“We are investigating the circumstances of the combat deaths of the two Army Rangers in the beginning of what was an intense three-hour firefight,” Davis said. “It is possible these Rangers were struck by friendly fire.”

Earlier in the day, the Pentagon identified the soldiers as Sergeant Joshua Rodgers, 22, and Sergeant Cameron Thomas, 23. A third soldier was wounded in the operation.

In a statement, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States owed the slain troops an “irredeemable debt.”

Davis said the target of the raid was Abdul Hasib, the emir of Islamic State in Afghanistan. The US military suspected he was killed in the operation, but could not yet confirm it.

The operation, near the border with Pakistan, started at about 10:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday and within minutes the 50 US Army Rangers along with 40 Afghan commandos came under fire from multiple direction.

“It was during these initial moments of the raid that the two Rangers were mortally wounded,” Davis said.

Mike Pence carry teamCliff Owen/AP

Fighting carried on for the next three hours, with Islamic State fighters firing from a heavily fortified compound and tunnel system.

The operation involved drones and aircraft like the AC-130 gunship, Apache helicopter and F-16 fighter jets.

About 35 Islamic State fighters are believed to have been killed, Davis said.

US and Afghan forces were extracted from the area at about 3 a.m. Thursday.

Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan, known as the Sunni jihadist group’s so-called Khorasan Province, is suspected of carrying out several attacks on minority Shi’ite Muslim targets.

US officials say intelligence suggests Islamic State is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.

Estimates of its strength in Afghanistan vary. US officials believe the movement has only 700 fighters, but Afghan officials estimate it has about 1,500.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

NOW WATCH: How the US could prevent a North Korean nuclear strike — according to a former Marine and cyberwarfare expert

Fashion

Hit Subscribe: Anna Wintour and Gwyneth Paltrow Will Create a New Magazine

It all started with a casual conversation between Goop founder and CEO Gwyneth Paltrow and Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Now there’s a new magazine in the works. The magazine, also dubbed as Goop, is conceptualized as a collectible and will be released quarterly. The first issue will hit newsstands this September and as expected it will cover […]

The post Hit Subscribe: Anna Wintour and Gwyneth Paltrow Will Create a New Magazine appeared first on Preen.

Architecture

The NSA’s massive surveillance operation is now just a little less massive

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The NSA’s spying program is still vast, but it’s now a touch more restricted.

The agency has long collected texts and emails sent to and by Americans if those electronic communications contained the names of folks whom the NSA was conducting surveillance on, but that’s no longer the case. 

This, as the New York Times reported Friday, is a significant rollback of a surveillance program that privacy advocates have railed against since a series of NSA spying programs and mechanisms were revealed in 2013. 

The main issue many privacy advocates had: The spying didn’t require a warrant and was based on the content of the message rather than the people having the digital conversation.  Read more…

More about Spying, Court, Fisa, Nsa, and Texting

Business

Whoops. Millions of Android phones are wide open to hackers

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All is not well in Google Play

A group of researchers has determined that hundreds of apps in the store have a gaping security hole that potentially allows hackers to implant malware and steal data from millions of Android smartphones. 

According to a paper detailing the alleged flaw, the problem lies within apps that create open ports on cellphones. This is a known and understood problem with computers, but hasn’t before been systematically studied in smartphones. The University of Michigan team used a custom tool to scan 24,000 apps and found 410 potentially vulnerable applications — at least one of which has been downloaded millions of times. Read more…

More about Cybersecurity, Hackers, Google, Smartphones, and Android

Entertainment

The best movie shots of all time

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We start our series of the Best Shots of All Time by looking at size, breaking down some of the best close ups, mediums, wide shots, and extremes in film history. But it’s not all about looking pretty, we dive deep into how and why each type of shot is used.

Visit CineFix for more episodes and movie-related content. Read more…

More about Psycho, Lawrence Of Arabia, Raging Bull, The Godfather Pt 2, and The Passion Of Joan Of Arc

Business

Your weekend hate read is this ridiculously dumb New York Times op-ed

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It didn’t take long for the controversial new editorial writer a the New York Times to deliver the goods — the goods in this case being tired and weak excuses for why mainstream media publications should give credence to climate change deniers. 

On Friday afternoon, the Times published  the first column from Bret Stephens, in which he argues “ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism” in relation to climate change.

While the Times doesn’t seem to have any writers extolling the flat earth theory or delving into the issues around chemtrails, it saw fit to recently hire Stephens, a noted conservative writer, best known in the science community for his climate change denialRead more…

More about Global Warming, Science, Business, New York Times, and Climate Change