Sunday, December 8, 2013

News Round Up: Six Things That Caught My Eye

Some stuff that caught my eye this morning...

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Reviews Round-Up (ComicBook.Com)
The first reviews for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have surfaced. The early reviews of the film seem to be mixed with the film currently holding a 64% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are finding The Desolation of Smaug to be a huge improvement over the first Hobbit movie, while other critics appear to be disappointed with The Hobbit franchise completely. Here is a round-up of some of the early reviews.

Man.  I sure hope that Jackson re-edits this thing at some point and releases a version that's based on the book.  I love The Hobbit.  But I don't know if I can take another three-hour snoozefest in which nothing much happens.  And my daughter Emma is super fired up to see this thing, so I have to go.

100 Notable Books of 2013 (NY Times)
This list is notable for its obscurity.  Outside the new biography of T.H. Lawrence, I've not heard of a single book on this list.

JPMorgan Tracked Business Linked to China Hiring (NY Times)
Federal authorities have obtained confidential documents that shed new light on JPMorgan Chase’s decision to hire the children of China’s ruling elite, securing emails that show how the bank linked one prominent hire to “existing and potential business opportunities” from a Chinese government-run company.

The documents, which also include spreadsheets that list the bank’s “track record” for converting hires into business deals, offer the most detailed account yet of JPMorgan’s “Sons and Daughters” hiring program, which has been at the center of a federal bribery investigation for months.

I love that they have an official name for their State-Owned Enterprises bribery program.  That's terrific.

In Houston, Armored Cars Are Doing the Opposite of Dissuading Robbers (NY Times)
One of the biggest armored-car companies in this sprawling Texas city has a message for would-be robbers: It is not worth the trouble, or your life.

In response to a series of armored-truck robberies this year in the Houston region, the company, GardaWorld, has taken the unusual step of talking publicly and talking tough, even for Texas, about the lengths to which it will go to protect its cargo, its employees and the public.

“We’re letting the bad guys know: We’re going to defend ourselves,” said Robert Hatchett, the senior manager for GardaWorld’s Texas operations. “They can expect, in one way or another, to pay. They’re going to pay for it with physical injury, harm, possible death. They’re going to pay for it with prosecution, and they’re going to pay for it with restitution. We’re not going to let it go.”

My first thought when I read this was of Marvel's Wrecking Crew.
Seems like somebody needs to put some superheroes on staff.  Heroes for Hire, anyone?

South Korea said Sunday that it will expand its air defense zone to include the area around a submerged rock and islands that it controls in the East China Sea, in a challenge to a similar move by China last month.

The new zone partially overlaps the zone that China declared on Nov. 23, Reuters reported.

South Korea's announcement covers two territorial islands and the submerged reef that the South Koreans call Ieodo. A tall research station with a helipad is built atop the rock, which lies about 100 miles southwest of South Korea’s Jeju Island in the East China Sea. The rock is known by the Chinese as Suyan and is also called Socotra Rock.

Apparently, there is some kind of undersea volcanic activity in the area that brings rare earth metals up to the surface all around these islands.  These metals are amongst the most expensive bits of computer chips and other high-end electronics, and thus we have a stand-off.  There's probably some oil and/or natural gas involvement as well.

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