Sony Cancels The Interview Release Amid Threats!

Sony Pictures has cancelled the planned US release on 25 December of the film The Interview, after major cinema chains decided not to screen it.

The film is about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Hackers have already carried out a cyber attack on Sony and warned the public to stay away from cinemas screening the film.

The US government said it was considering a “range of options” on how to respond to the attack.

“We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks – both in the United States and elsewhere,” a National Security Council statement said, adding that the FBI was leading the investigation.

“We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression.”

The statement came after US media quoted anonymous officials as saying that the FBI had linked North Korea to the attacks.

Earlier on Wednesday, the New York premiere of The Interview was cancelled. Sony says it understands its partners’ decision.

However, in a statement it said it was “deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie”.

“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” it said.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatre-goers.”

It added: “We stand by our film makers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

Hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace have released emails and data stolen from Sony in late November.

In a recent warning they mentioned the 9/11 attacks, claiming “the world will be full of fear”.

“Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time,” the hacker group wrote in a message on Tuesday.

“Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

Earlier, Sony had given theatres in the US and Canada the option to bow out of showing The Interview in the wake of the threats.

Regal Cinemas, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Theatres – the top three theatre chains in North America – subsequently announced they were postponing screenings, and Canada’s biggest theatre firms also pulled out, leaving Sony seemingly no choice but to postpone the film.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel tweeted that the decision by theatres to refuse to show the film was “an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

The Interview cost Sony an estimated $42m (£27m) to produce – not nearly as much as action films like The Hunger Games or the X-Men films – but still a significant amount for a comedy film.

So far, however, investors have not been too concerned about the potential hit to Sony’s bottom line. Sony’s share price has declined by just over 5% since the hack was revealed.

An effort by activist shareholder Daniel Loeb to get Sony to spin off its entertainment arm was thwarted in 2013, but the hacking revelations and their subsequent hit to Sony’s reputation could renewal calls to reconsider the structure of the firm.

Lankan ICTs First Entry to Slush 2015!

In a major renewal of its economic cooperation with Sri Lanka, World’s ICT innovation leader has announced that it is ready to form a joint Business Council with Sri Lanka for the first time, as revealed on dEC.04-and Lankan ICT start-ups have received a breakthrough invitation to showcase themselves at one of world’s top-tier start-up events in 2015.

“It is time that we establish a Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council for B2B activities. Such a mechanism will kick-start the process. We are also looking forward to see SME level Sri Lankan ICT BPM and business start-ups at the 2015 ‘Slush’ event in Helsinki” said an upbeat Matti Anttonen, Finnish Deputy Minister of External Economic Relations & Finnish Under-Secretary of State on dEC.04 in Colombo.

Finnish Deputy Minister Anttonen, who was leading the first ever Finnish business delegation to Sri Lanka was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce during his courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen at the Ministry of industry and Commerce, Colombo. Joining Minister Bathiudeen were two of his top officials-Bandula Egodage, Chairman & CEO-EDB and RDS Kumararatne, DG-Department of Commerce.

The first ever high level trade & business delegation to Sri Lanka from the World’s ICT leader Finland, the team consisted of Rauli Suikkanen (Delhi based Roving Ambassador of Finland to Sri Lanka), Pertti Ikonen (aide for trade coordinator/MFA), Ulpu Koskinen (First Secretary/Office of the Roving Ambassador), Janne Hirvonen (Attache, South Asia Unit/MFA), Siv Ahlberg (Director, Finnpartnership), Leena Osterberg (Head of Finpro Regional Office, New Delhi), Anand Sethi (Senior Advisor (PhD), Finnfund) and Jouni Aitamaa (Director, Outotec Corporation, Sri Lanka).

“As for Sri Lanka’s growth, the positive thing we see is that things could only get better here! The business atmosphere in Sri Lanka is very good and encouraging. My delegation had a very good series of meetings in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka tourism is on our radar. We are no 9 in global Doing Business Index” said Finnish Deputy Minister Anttonen, and added: “Our economy, after a little stagnation has started to grow again. As for Finnish investments to Sri Lanka, there is growing interest. I suggest it is time that we establish Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council for B2B activities. Such a mechanism will kick-start the process together with private sectors at both ends. We are also looking forward to see SME level Sri Lankan ICT BPM and business start-ups at the ‘Slush’ event held on 2015 November 18-19 in Helsinki. Slush is the focal point for Eurasian IT start-ups and tech talent to meet with top-tier international influencers, investors and media and is backed by such successful innovators as Rovio, Supercell and MySQL. Sri Lankan IT and business services can promote their ventures at Slush.”

The Nordic powerhouse Finland is the World’s ICT Innovation Leader is also the lead producer and user of information and communication technology (ICT) in the world and ranks No 1 in the Legatum Prosperity Index. The $ 195 B economy also was the birthplace of such global brands as Nokia, and Nokia Siemens Networks, F-Secure (IT sector), and Viking Line (shipping).

“Your visit to Sri Lanka and also the proposal to establish first Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council will create the much needed new platform of economic cooperation for both countries and will boost bilateral trade” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “We thank you for your renewed on Sri Lanka. We are focusing on a globally competitive industrial development effort in Sri Lanka as per the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa backed by market oriented policies. Even our trade policy with liberalised tariff structure is focused on hub focused development. Partnering with Finland, specifically with Finnish investors will open the door for both parties for win-win outcomes. Finnish investors can invest here and use our regional Free Trade Agreements such as ISFTA and PFTA to access the growing South Asian markets while Sri Lanka could benefit from Finnish funds and crucial tech transfers. With bilateral trade at a mere $28 Mn, both countries largely remain virgin markets to each other and it’s time we move to explore these unrealised potentials.”

According to the Department of Commerce, Sri Lanka’s trade with Finland has been fluctuating for the last few years and in 2013, and reported $28 Mn in 2013, with exports taking $16.05 Mn. Tea is the main item exported to Finland (55% in 2013) followed by apparel.

Rauli Suikkanen (Delhi based Roving Ambassador of Finland to Sri Lanka), addressing Minister Bathiudeen said: “This is the first time that a Deputy Finnish Minister is visiting Sri Lanka. A Finland-Sri Lanka Business Council will promote economic cooperation. Powerful Finnish institutions such as FinFund, FinPro can support in financing and facilitation in this regard.”

Sri Lanka’s leading import from Finland, mobile cellular phones, saw their peak in 2010 and from 2011 is overtaken by marine propulsion engines and electric generating sets. Sri Lanka is a GSP Beneficiary Country under EU GSP Scheme, which gives an added advantage for Sri Lankan exports to Finland.

Happy Birthday Angie Stone!

Soul singer who earned a #1 R&B album with The Art of Love & War in 2007. She has collaborated with a variety of artists, including D’Angelo.

Her first musical experience was singing gospel music in church. She performed with the R&B group The Sequence in the 1980s.

She is a three-time Grammy Award nominee, including for Best R&B Performance for a duet with Betty Wright.

She has a daughter named Diamond with her ex-husband Rodney Stone and a son, Michael, with singer D’Angelo.

She and Snoop Dogg collaborated on her 2004 single “I Wanna Thank Ya.”

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