Julian Assange

Alex Gibney, Bart Gellman, Valerie Plame, and Ralph Echemendia at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In a Post-Snowden, Post-Sony Hack World, Who Has the Power to Disseminate Secrets?

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It’s not that difficult for someone to hack into your computer — and I know you think you know how easy it is, but trust me, it’s so much easier than you think. As a matter of fact, the attendees at Tuesday’s Tribeca Film Festival panel on “Secrecy and Power” were treated to a demonstration of exactly how easy it is, thanks to cyber-security expert Ralph Echemendia, aka “The Ethical Hacker.” Earlier that week, he sent an email with a link to a video clip to one of the TFF interns. As we all watched on a screen overhead, he opened up a window that displayed the intern’s desktop, his documents, his network. He turned on the webcam and the microphone. The poor schmuck had no idea. Most of those who are hacked don’t.
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10 Great 2013 Movies You Can Watch at Home Right Now

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Those of us who get hives at the very idea of being out in crowds and start sweating merely from exerting the force of locking our doors behind us may have a hard time getting too worked up at the prospect of heading out to the multiplex over this holiday weekend — the theaters are bustling, the temperatures are high, and the biggest new attraction is two and a half hours of The Lone Ranger. But fear not, fellow agoraphobes: thanks to the wonders of modern technology, some of the year’s best movies are available at the click of a button. Yes, due to collapsing theatrical-to-home-video windows and the increasing presence of simultaneous theatrical and VOD releases, several of Flavorwire’s best of 2013 thus far are available at this very moment, and for a fraction of that parking/ticket/popcorn price.
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Flavorwire Interview: ‘We Steal Secrets’ Director Alex Gibney on Julian Assange and the Wikileaks Backlash to His Film

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In his riveting new documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, director Alex Gibney (the prolific Oscar winner behind Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer) tells two stories: the thriller-like ascendency of the organization and the troubling questions it asks about government transparency, and the crumbling of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, which plays like something out of Greek tragedy — the transformation of an admirable idealist to a paranoid propagandist, injecting his own legal woes into the lofty aims of his organization, and conflating them. Gibney was unable to procure an interview with Assange; “Julian wanted money,” Gibney explains in the film, though Assange was willing to exchange his interview for information on the other people Gibney was talking to. (UPDATE: The organization has disputed this claim. Mr. Gibney notes that they’re working from an “incomplete and inaccurate transcript based on non-final version.”) The filmmaker refused, and We Steal Secrets has been under fire from Wikileaks supporters since it was unveiled at Sundance last January. I asked Gibney about that backlash, the importance of the story, and related troubling matters of transparency in the Obama administration.
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10 Notorious Leaked Screenplay Scandals

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Earlier this week, we told you about Xavier Macafee, the New Mexico man who was arrested on suspicion of burglary after allegedly breaking into Bryan Cranston’s car and stealing, among other things, the script to one of Breaking Bad’s final episodes. While we still don’t know if it was a coincidental act or the work of a brilliant BB superfan, this isn’t the first time a swiped script has created havoc in Hollywood. Here are ten tales of leaked screenplays, and what happened to the films… Read More

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The All-Time Weirdest Guest Appearances on ‘The Simpsons’

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So if you haven’t heard, Tom Waits was on The Simpsons last night, voicing “a gravelly voiced paranoiac” prepper and joining the long list of illustrious and not-so-illustrious guest stars who’ve graced the show since it started screening way back in 1989. His appearance got us thinking about some of the more unlikely guest stars and/or performances the show has seen over the years — and so we’ve amused ourselves after the jump selecting some of our favorites, from Johnny Cash playing a psychedelic coyote to Thomas Pynchon breaking a 40-year TV silence. Did we miss any of your favorites? Go ahead and let us know. (And advance apologies for the quality of a couple of the clips — Simpsons videos are like hen’s teeth on YouTube.)
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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

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1. Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman in space on the Challenger shuttle, died yesterday at the age of 61 following a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. [via NPR]

2. Exciting news for science fiction fans: J.J. Abrams and Edgar Wright are teaming up on a new film called… Read More

Listen to M.I.A.’s Theme Song for Julian Assange’s Radio Show

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Even before M.I.A. released her Vicki Leekx mixtape on New Year’s Eve 2010, she and Julian Assange seemed like kindred spirits — so it’s only natural they’re collaborating. Last week, we learned that she wrote the theme music for the house-arrested WikiLeaks activist’s new radio show, The World Tomorrow, which just aired its first episode on Russia Today. As Stereogum notes, the instrumental track isn’t particularly exciting: it’s really just M.I.A.’s somewhat spookier, more aggressive version of the 30-second psych-up music that precedes practically every other political talk show, and it’s overlaid with Assange’s self-aggrandizing intro. We’re more interested to hear that the singer, who WikiLeaks is calling “the Julian Assange of pop music,” will appear on a future episode of the show. Who wants to bet there won’t be a truffle fry within five miles of the taping?
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