TIME Hollywood

Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Joked About Obama’s Race

She and producer Scott Rudin joked about what the president's favorite movies might be

Sony Pictures Entertainment chief Amy Pascal joked with Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin about President Obama’s race, according to leaked emails.

Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, emailed Rudin, who produced movies such as The Social Network and No Country for Old Men, to ask what she should say to Obama at a fundraising breakfast, Buzzfeed reports. “Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?”

“12 YEARS” Rudin replied.

Pascal went on to suggest other prominent films starring African Americans: “Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]”

“Ride-along,” wrote Rudin. “I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

The emails were the latest in a series of leaks following a high-profile hacking attack by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

The leaks have revealed myriad squabbles Pascal has had with various Hollywood bigwigs, as well as precious nuggets regarding a slew of Hollywood stars, including Jonah Hill, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie.

[Buzzfeed]

Correction: The original version of this story was accompanied by a photograph which incorrectly identified its subject as the co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal. The post has since been updated.

Read next: The 7 Most Outrageous Things We Learned From the Sony Hack

TIME Nicaragua

Thousands Protest Nicaragua Canal Project Over Land-Grab Fears

Demonstrators hold a banner during a march to protest against the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal in Managua
Demonstrators hold a banner during a march to protest against the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal on Dec. 10, 2014, in Managua, Nicaragua Oswaldo Rivas—Reuters

Entire villages will have to be moved for the new waterway

Thousands of flag-waving demonstrators marched through the Nicaraguan capital Managua on Wednesday to protest a $50 billion canal project set to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as a direct rival to the iconic Panama Canal.

Officials vow the 173-mile construction will have minimal impact on the environment and bring more than 50,000 jobs, but local people fear that entire villages will have to be forcibly displaced as a consequence, reports the Associated Press.

“Your lands belong to you,” Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, told the crowd.

Protesters marched to the city’s U.N. offices to demand transparency and adequate compensation for those displaced. Groundbreaking is slated for Dec. 22.

[AP]

TIME Books

Auction of Lost Letter From Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac Shelved

An 18-page letter written by Beat-era icon Cassady is shown to reporters in San Francisco
An 18-page letter written by Beat-era icon Neal Cassady, which transformed Jack Kerouac's writing style, is shown in San Francisco, California, Dec. 1, 2014 Deepa Seetharaman—Reuters

Kerouac called the missive "the greatest piece of writing I ever saw" and his inspiration for On the Road

The auction of a letter deemed the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s 1957 masterpiece On the Road has been postponed amid an ownership dispute.

The family of Neal Cassady, the Beat Generation icon who penned the 16,000-word correspondence, is locked in a legal wrangle with Kerouac’s relatives, reports the Associated Press.

The letter, known as the Joan Anderson Letter, inspired Kerouac to tear up an early version of On The Road and instead adopt Cassady’s relentless, stream-of-consciousness style.

Los Angeles performance artist Jean Spinosa apparently found the missive when she went through her late father’s belongings.

Both the Cassady and Kerouac estates have filed court motions claiming ownership but a hearing date has not yet been set, Cassady’s daughter Jami Cassady told the Associated Press.

[AP]

TIME Thailand

The Two Men Charged With the Thai Backpacker Murders Face a Dubious Trial

Parents of Myanmar workers suspected of killing British tourist in Thailand, show their passports as at a monastery outside Yangon
Parents of Burmese workers suspected of killing British tourists in Thailand show their passports as at a monastery outside Rangoon on Oct. 16, 2014 Soe Zeya Tun—Reuters

Observers have been left aghast at a litany of procedural irregularities

The two Burmese migrant workers accused of killing a pair of British backpackers on an idyllic Thai beach appeared in court to be formality indicted Thursday. But there are growing fears that any trial will be a sham.

The two men say they were tortured into a confession and various domestic and international human rights groups have raised concerns about their interrogation.

There are serious doubts about the evidence linking Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, with the brutal slaying of David Miller, 24, and rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on the Thai Gulf island of Koh Tao.

The victims’ bodies were discovered bludgeoned to death near rocks on Sairee Beach on Sept. 15. A fumbling investigation initially assumed Burmese migrants were to blame, then local hoodlums, then a jilted suitor of Witheridge. Eventually, police picked up Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, who were both working on the island illegally at the time.

“[The police] can see a wider investigation is needed but they are not interested,” Nakhon Chompoochart, the lead lawyer on the defense team, tells TIME. “They are only focused on the accused.”

Thai Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner Pol Maj Gen Suwat Jaengyodsuk denied the suspects had been coerced when speaking to the Thai National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday. He had been summoned by the commission on four previous occasions but failed to appear.

Allegations of torture aside, observers have been appalled by procedural irregularities. Tourists were allowed to wander through the crime scene, the suspects were forced into a reconstruction that may prejudice their chances of a fair hearing, and there was a lack of a forensic experts to collect evidence. Foreign nationals were also immediately blamed for the crime because, a police spokesman claimed, “Thais wouldn’t do this.”

“The prosecution has said that this is an important case and must be dealt with quickly,” says Andy Hall, a Thailand-based migrant labor expert aiding the defense. “There’s a real fear that justice will not be served.”

Under Thai law, the 900-page police report, upon which the prosecutors will base their case, will not be disclosed to the defense team until the trial commences. Instead, the defense lawyers will be given a summary containing a list of names and addresses of witnesses as well as a cursory inventory of evidence.

According to Felicity Gerry QC, a prominent British defense lawyer specializing in high-profile sexual-assault cases, “Not to have any access until the day of trial can’t possibly be fair.”

In many other jurisdictions, including the U.S. and U.K., as soon as charges are brought the defense has access to all evidence, including witness statements, physical exhibits and expert testimony. This allows lawyers to take instructions from their clients and call their own experts to refute any testimony relied upon by the prosecution.

“Sometimes the analysis takes time,” says Gerry, citing the checking of telephone records or the disputing of forensic conclusions. “My concern would be it’s all far too rushed and unfair to the defense.”

The arrival of British police observers has not helped. A team from the U.K., including a senior homicide detective and crime scene analyst, was dispatched to Thailand early last month in order to assist in the investigation. However, they spent only two hours on Koh Tao after arriving by helicopter and did not meet with either the accused or their legal team. Their findings have still not been released.

“You’d expect the Thai police to welcome the additional assistance,” says Gerry. “My suspicion is that [the British police have] been limited regarding what they’ve been allowed to do.”

Meanwhile, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, who face a death sentence if convicted, stay cut off from their families. “They are in good spirits but really miss their parents,” says Hall, who has met with the suspects three times each week since they were arrested.

Two British families have already been devastated by the Koh Tao killings. The Thai authorities must now ensure two Burmese families don’t needlessly experience similar anguish.

TIME fashion

Watch a Century of Hairstyles in Just One Minute

It's like the DeLorean in Back to the Future — but with curlers

A new video by Cut transforms a model through different hairstyles from 1910 to 2010 in just 60 seconds.

The time-lapse clip has quickly gone viral with more than 1 million hits since going live on Nov. 20. And if the comments below the post are anything to go by, we now have definitive proof that hair in the 1980s was a fashion abomination.

Read next: This Woman Can Sing Two Notes at Once and It’s Eerily Beautiful

TIME U.K.

A Right-Wing U.K. Party Mistook Westminster Cathedral for a Mosque

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Facade of Westminster Cathedral. Adina Tovy—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Clearly a case of seeing Islamization where none exists

The anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) was left red-faced on Thursday after a local branch mistook Westminster Cathedral — one of the most famous Christian churches in the country — for a mosque.

The UKIP’s South Thanet branch was reacting to a BBC news program’s decision to poll passersby outside the historic, 1902 edifice.

“The perfect place to hold vote in front of a mosque in London,” it tweeted.

Ironically, the segment, by BBC reporter Giles Dilnot, was asking bystanders outside the U.K.’s venerable Catholic cathedral whether or not they took the UKIP as a serious political force.

Once the party, which boasts two MPs in the U.K. House of Commons and 24 of the 73 British seats in the European Parliament, was made aware of its mistake, an apology was issued.

But that didn’t stop a campaign of mockery using the hashtag #ThingsThatAreNotMosques targeting UKIP’s divisive leader Nigel Farage.

TIME Thailand

The Military Vows to Rule Thailand Until 2016 and Ramps Up Political Purges

Poompanmuang, chief of Royal Thai Police, stands among antique Buddha statues that were seized during an investigation into Chayaphan, a former commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, at a military base in Bangkok
General Somyot Poompanmuang, chief of Royal Thai Police, stands among antique Buddha statues that were seized during an investigation into former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayaphan, at a military base in Bangkok on Nov. 26, 2014 Athit Perawongmetha—Reuters

News comes as Justice Minister announces "indefinite" imposition of martial law

Thailand may be ruled by a military dictatorship until 2016, a senior junta official has revealed. His comment came as a purge of political rivals intensified in the Southeast Asian nation.

Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Thai Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said elections “may take, maybe, a year and a half.” Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-Ocha had previously vowed to hand power back to the people before the end of 2015.

“Everything depends on the road map, so we must see first if the road map can be completed,” explained Sommai. “Elections take time to organize.”

The news comes after Thai Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya revealed martial law would remain “indefinitely.” He also disclosed that police top brass had been detained for corruption offenses involving tens of millions of dollars.

Former Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Pongpat Chayapan and 16 associates were charged this week with various embezzlement offenses — including operating gambling dens, hording cash and gold, and taking bribes from oil smugglers — as well as insulting the nation’s revered royal family.

Thailand has the world’s strictest law governing lèse majesté, or royal defamation. Under Article 112, sentences range from three to 15 years’ imprisonment and human-rights activists frequently say the legislation is used as a tool of political oppression.

However, it is “quite unusual for lèse majesté to be used against high-ranking police officers — against their own people,” says Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai political scientist at Japan’s Kyoto University.

Analysts say the latest arrests are evidence of Prayuth fortifying his position rather than tackling corruption. A staunch royalist, the 60-year-old appears to be targeting the institution of the police, which is known to back the powerful family of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

However, others say the purge is more related to the sensitive subject of royal succession. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, beloved by Thais, will be 87 on Dec. 5 and is ailing. His heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, does not command anything like the same veneration.

Bhumibol is also the world’s wealthiest monarch, worth an estimated $30 billion, and many ascribe Thailand’s ongoing political tribulations to jostling for control of this vast treasure chest.

Deposed CIB chief Pongpat is known to be close to the Crown Prince — he frequently wears a pin with a photo of the royal couple’s son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti — and three of his associates arrested Wednesday are relatives of Vajiralongkorn wife, the Royal Consort Princess Srirasm, including her brother, Natthapol Akkharaphongpricha.

There are many conflicting theories about what is happening. Some suspect it could be a schism within the royal family itself, or even an attempt by the nation’s new leaders to cloister Vajiralongkorn from powerful allies. However, Srirasm comes from humble means — she’s a former waitress — and so the targeting of her kin could be an attempt to expunge the more rakish elements of the Crown Prince’s circle before the succession.

What’s indisputable, though, is that “this is about using Article 112 as a political weapon to undermine political opponents,” says Pavin. “I don’t think this is as simple as being just about corruption, not at this point in Thai politics.”

No matter what the cause, some say the opportunity to root out bad apples should not be missed. “We should take this opportunity to clean up all the corrupt police,” Chuwit Kamolvisit, a former Thai brothel owner now enjoying a coda as an anticorruption politician, tells TIME. “If we cannot trust the top police like Pongpat, then how can we trust the rest of the Thai police?”

That said, there’s little evidence that Thailand’s military government is best placed to administer this remedy. Over the past six months of military rule, habeas corpus has been suspended, strict censorship imposed and hundreds of people threatened and imprisoned for trivial acts of defiance — like giving the three-finger salute used in The Hunger Games movies.

Meanwhile, General Prayuth’s younger brother — assistant army chief Lieut. General Preecha Chan-Ocha — was recently revealed to have amassed $2.5 million in net assets. He has not been investigated.

Asked whether top military generals are also corrupt, Chuwit chuckles nervously. “This is Thailand,” he says, “there is corruption everywhere.”

TIME Cricket

Australian International Cricketer Phillip Hughes Dies Aged 25

Tributes have poured in for the young star

Australian international cricketer Phillip Hughes has died at Sydney’s St. Vincent’s Hospital.

The 25-year-old was in critical condition after he was hit on the head by a ball while batting during an important domestic game in the city on Tuesday.

The incident sent shock waves through the cricket world and was a reminder that, despite its genteel reputation, cricket can be a highly dangerous sport.

Hughes was struck on the rear left side of the head below the helmet by a short, fast ball — known in cricketing parlance as a bouncer — delivered by New South Wales bowler Sean Abbott.

Denser and heavier than baseballs, cricket balls can reach speeds of 100 m.p.h., turning them in potentially lethal projectiles — even when players are wearing protective gear, as the example of Hughes tragically shows.

Hughes, who grew up on a banana farm outside Sydney, had undergone emergency surgery and was kept in an induced coma until passing away on Thursday afternoon, local time.

Tributes have poured in for the young star, who was the first Australian batsman ever to score a century in his debut for his national side in the one-day form of the game.

 

TIME Burma

Burma Counts Down to Elections But Democracy Remains a Distant Dream

Adam Dean's photos capture a still impoverished Burma as it stumbles through democratic transition, and ethnic strife, one year before landmark polls

In late October or early November next year Burma will go to the polls. However, the nation, officially now known as Myanmar, remains a long way from realizing true democracy.

Nobel Peace Price winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 years under house arrest since returning to her homeland in 1988, was elected to parliament in April 2012, but remains constitutionally barred from becoming president.

In shunning the pro-democracy icon, Burma’s indomitable military demonstrates that it continues to influence all aspects of life.

The easing of Western economic sanctions has seen Burma’s long-cloistered economy pried open — cellphones and ATMs are now commonplace — but reform has largely been confined to sectors that benefit the generals and their cronies.

In ethnic border regions, rebel groups continue to battle the Burmese Army for greater autonomy, despite a raft of peace deals. Human rights abuses continue unabated; some advocacy groups say they have even increased.

In Burma’s western Rakhine State, the much-maligned Rohingya Muslim minority faces strict curbs on marriage, movement, population growth and education. Over 100,000 of this wretched community fester in squalid ghettos following pogroms by radical Buddhists. Access to food and healthcare is severely limited.

For them, as will the 60% of Burma’s 53 million population who continue to struggle in dire poverty, reforms have so far promised much but delivered little. For the past two years, photographer Adam Dean has been documenting Burma’s stumbling transition.

TIME Crime

At Least 3 Wounded in Shooting at Florida State University

Florida State Shooting
Students call their friends still locked down in Strozier Library after a shooting at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 20, 2014 Steven Cannon—AP

The campus was put on lockdown as police conducted a sweep

Correction appended, Nov. 20

An unidentified gunman was shot and killed by police after opening fire at Florida State University’s Strozier Library just after midnight Thursday in an attack that left at least three people wounded.

“We are reaching out to campus administrators to ensure anyone who witnessed this is able to get counseling,” a police spokesman told reporters. “We don’t have any other concerns about other shooters or any other threats to the campus.”

Officials sent out emergency-alert text messages warning students of a “dangerous situation” and calling on them to “seek shelter.” As the situation unfolded, social media was rife with images and videos of students taking cover on the university’s campus as police warned over a loud speaker that there had been a shooting at the library.

At least two individuals were being treated at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital for gunshot wounds, according to ABC news.

An official at Florida State University Police Department declined to comment on the incident when contacted by TIME but said a statement would be released soon.

“This is always stuff you hear about happening at other schools like there are other crazed gunman at colleges but not at Florida State,” student Blair Stokes, who was in the library during the incident, told CNN. “I think this is another issue about gun control and about how we can be doing more in America.”

— With reporting by Turner Cowles

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of people treated at a local hospital for gunshot wounds. It was two people.

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