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  • Beloved film critic Roger Ebert dies at 70

    Roger Ebert (Getty Images)

    Renowned Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert died on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

    Ebert's struggle with thyroid cancer, chronicled in a 2010 cover story by Esquire, caused the loss of part of his jaw and the ability to eat and speak. He communicated through a computer program and reached his many fans through Twitter and his blog, gaining admiration for his relentlessly positive attitude about his disease.

    Ebert's death comes two days after he announced a "leave of presence" due to a recurrence of cancer after a hip fracture he suffered in December.

    "For a generation of Americans—and especially Chicagoans—Roger was the movies," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive—capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical."

    Film critics are mourning Ebert's loss on Twitter, a medium Ebert avidly embraced.

    "Ebert was singular," New York Times critic A.O. Scott tweeted. "We are all in his shadow and his debt."

    "Roger Ebert was my hero," Scott Jordan Harris, a blogger for London's Telegraph and Ebert's U.K. correspondent, wrote on Twitter. "More recently he became my boss and my friend. I will be forever honoured. I loved him."

    "Man, I feel so lucky and so sad at the same time," Chris Jones, who wrote the Esquire cover story, tweeted. "I'll miss you Roger, very much."

    "One of my favorite quotes, by Henry James, is: 'Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind,'" Time Out New York film critic and New York Film Critics Circle member Keith Uhlich wrote in an email to Yahoo News. "That was Roger Ebert, a man somehow able to treat even undignified subjects—be it a godawful movie or a life-threatening illness—with clear-eyed compassion."

    "Next time I see a movie, I doubt I'll ask myself what Ebert would think of it," writer Mark Harris, "Oscarologist" for Grantland, tweeted. "But I'll ask much better questions of myself because of him."

    Filmmakers also took to Twitter to pay their respects to Ebert.

    "Millions of thumbs up for you," Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore wrote on Twitter. "RIP."

    “We lost a thoughtful writer," Darren Aronofsky tweeted. "I remember my first review from him ... it was a career highlight.”

    "It was a privilege to interact with you," screenwriter Diablo Cody wrote. "Thank you for the support, the criticism, and the true love for the movies.”

    Director Cameron Crowe called Ebert a "clear-eyed dreamer" and "king of the written word."

    "A film critic with the soul of a poet," actress Annabella Sciorra wrote on Twitter.

    "I never grew tired of his opinions ... on everything," Howard Stern tweeted.

    Even The Onion delivered Ebert a poignant obituary. (Headline: "Roger Ebert Hails Human Existence As 'A Triumph'")

    Read More »from Beloved film critic Roger Ebert dies at 70
  • 3.9 tons of marijuana confiscated by Texas Highway Patrol (Texas Department of Public Safety)Marijuana confiscated by the Texas Highway Patrol. (Texas Department of Public Safety)

    For highway patrol officers, there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop. That adage was again proven true when a Texas Highway Patrol trooper pulled over a gas tanker to perform a routine visual inspection and discovered the tanker was carrying 3.9 tons of marijuana. It's unclear how the trooper was able to make the discovery.

    [Related: Anonymous drug war blogger speaks about dangers of reporting]

    In a news release, the Texas Department of Public Safety estimated the value of the confiscated pot at around $3.4 million. The truck driver was arrested and charged with possession. He's being held on $1 million bond. According to DPS spokesperson Sgt. Johnny Hernandez, more arrests may be forthcoming.

    [Related: Connecticut drug bust nets about 100 suspects]

    Hernandez told NBC News that the bust was "a big, significant seizure" and among the largest in recent memory. Earlier this year, federal law enforcement seized more than 14,000 pounds of marijuana along the Arizona-Mexico border.

    Read More »from 3.9 tons of marijuana confiscated by Texas Highway Patrol
  • Omar Hammami speaks at a press conference in Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

    Last month, the State Department announced it would pay up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Omar Shafik Hammami, an American-born jihadist, amateur rapper and the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist accused of providing "material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization known as al-Shabab."

    On Thursday, Wired published an interview it conducted with Hammami—or at least someone it believes is Hammami—on Twitter.

    "There is no way to prove that the green egg avatar accompanying @abumamerican is truly Omar Hammami," Spencer Ackerman, who spent a week exchanging direct messages with the account, wrote on Wired.com. "No blue check mark verifies his identity, nor would one even be meaningful for a man in hiding."

    Hammami, a native of Alabama, is believed to be hiding in Somalia after splitting with al-Shabab sometime last year.

    The 30-year-old "refuses to talk over email, Skype, IM, phone or any format besides Twitter," according to Ackerman. "But counterterrorism analysts are convinced Hammami is the one tweeting."

    On Twitter, @abumamerican has spent months openly engaging—even charming—counterterrorism and national security professionals, some of whom are urging him to come back to the United States and surrender. But Hammami assured Wired he believes in "attacking U.S. interests everywhere. No [second] thoughts and no turning back.”

    Hammami says he's never personally attacked Americans and "terror" was never his ultimate goal. But "jihad was my obligation and the [New World Order] my enemy.”

    Read More »from Wired interviews FBI’s most wanted terrorist over Twitter

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  • Van Gaal 'very irritated' by Giggs rift talk
    Van Gaal 'very irritated' by Giggs rift talk

    Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal on Thursday angrily rejected media speculation that there is a rift between him and assistant manager Ryan Giggs. Van Gaal reacted jubilantly to Ashley Young's late goal in United's 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at St James' Park on Wednesday. In marked contrast, Giggs greeted the dramatic winner in subdued fashion and failed to react when van Gaal playfully jabbed the Welshman in the face as he celebrated. The 41-year-old former midfielder has been earmarked as a future manager at Old Trafford and potentially a successor to van Gaal in 2017.

  • Mexico nabs Zetas drug cartel leader 'Z-42'
    Mexico nabs Zetas drug cartel leader 'Z-42'

    Mexican authorities captured Zetas drug cartel leader Omar Trevino, dealing a blow to the feared gang and giving the embattled government a second major arrest in a week. The suspect, known as "Z-42," was detained without a shot being fired by federal police and soldiers in San Pedro Garza Garcia, an upper-class suburb of the northern industrial city of Monterrey, officials said. Trevino, who had a combined bounty of $7 million on his head, took over the Zetas after his brother, Miguel Angel Trevino, or "Z-40," was captured by marines in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas in July 2013. He was considered "one of the most dangerous and bloodthirsty criminals in Mexico," said Tomas Zeron, the investigations chief at the attorney general's office, adding that Trevino is accused of organized crime, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

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