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Fall Out Boy – Centuries (Behind The Scenes) presented by Honda Civic Tour

Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump, along with the other members of Chicago’s Fall Out Boy, decided to take us behind the scenes of their new video “Centuries,” the first single from their new album. Watch this exclusive footage from 2007 Honda Civic Tour headliners Fall Out Boy and you’ll definitely learn a bit about gladiators.

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American Honda has created a new platform to discover and share music. From Honda Civic Tour, to music festivals, to partnerships with Live Nation, iHeartMedia, REVOLT, YouTube and Vevo, Honda Stage brings live events, behind the scenes videos, interviews, exclusive content and more from your favorite artists.

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Many Of The Military’s Top Leaders Can’t Stand The Retired General Leading The Anti-ISIS Coalition

john allen

One would think a man with four stars on his collar leading U.S. forces in Afghanistan just one year ago would have no problem working with military leadership in the fight against militants of the so-called Islamic State at present.

But for retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who was appointed by President Obama in September as special envoy to lead the global coalition to counter the militant group, that calculus has been wrong.

Gen. Lloyd Austin

An article posted at Foreign Policy on Thursday by Mark Perry lists a surprising number of detractors to Allen’s appointment, including many in and out of uniform. The most obvious rift comes from Gen. Lloyd Austin, the man in charge of Central Command, tasked with carrying out the military plan to “degrade and destroy” ISIL, the administration’s preferred term for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“Why the hell do we need a special envoy — isn’t that what [Secretary of State] John Kerry’s for?” a senior officer close to Austin told Perry, of the potential for confusion since Gen. Allen reports directly to President Obama.

Allen, 60, was given an incredibly difficult task upon his appointment. With the Islamic State consuming much of Iraq and Syria and boasting roughly 31,000 fighters, his role as special envoy is to “help build and sustain the coalition,” and coordinate their efforts, according to the State Department.

But Allen — now inside the State Department and no longer wearing military rank — commands a role not very far outside the scope of duties of Gen. Austin at Centcom, who is charged with overseeing relationships, offering military support, and carrying out operations when necessary in 20 Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq and Syria.

SYRIA IRAQ

Indeed, Gen. James Mattis — the commander before Austin at Centcom — demonstrated a perfect example of the military’s ability to build coalitions without outside support, in retelling how he got 29 nations together to counter Iran’s attempt to mine the Strait of Hormuz.

“The military overseas can do more than simply reinforce foreign policy,” Mattis said earlier this year. “We can also buy time for the diplomats to do their magic.”

It became apparent after only a few days of Allen’s appointment that a turf war had emerged.

Via Foreign Policy:

When Allen requested that the Pentagon provide him with air transport to the region just days before his scheduled arrival in Iraq on Oct. 2, he was turned down by Austin’s staff, who told him to check with the State Department. It was a slight “that left Allen steaming,” a former high-level civilian Pentagon official confirmed.

Even Gen. Anthony Zinni — himself a former Centcom commander who later served as special envoy to Israel for peace talks in 2002 — was critical of Allen’s appointment (via The Tampa Tribune):

“John Allen is a great guy, but does it take a retired general to coordinate a coalition? What is Centcom, chopped liver? Did Norman Schwarzkopf get some retired general? Who is really leading here, that is my question.”

islamic state isis

And there are many more gripes noted by military officers who spoke on condition of anonymity to Foreign Policy. One derides Allen as “a boy scout.” Another, noting his new role as a quasi-diplomat though he’s never been one, said “I don’t know how that’s going to work.”

For many of the military’s top leaders it seems, having a retired general like Allen outside of the military chain-of-command reporting to Obama is a sign of White House “micromanagement.” It also offers the possibility of conflicting messages between State and the Pentagon in the fight against ISIL.

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

But perhaps the most devastating critique comes from one of the tribal leaders that US forces need to support in pushing back the Islamic State. As militants battled for control of the home town of Jalal al-Gaood in Iraq’s Anbar province, the man desperately tried to reach Allen to ask for assistance, but it was too late.

“Gen. Allen said, ‘I will put you in touch with someone in Centcom.’ But it never happened,” Gaood told The Washington Post’s David Ignatius. “Every time the Iraqis meet with Americans, they just take notes.”

SEE ALSO: The US Confirms That It Is Not Coordinating With The Free Syrian Army

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Apple Pay fails to unify fragmented market

Apple Pay, meant to inject momentum into a fragmented market for the emerging mobile payments sector, has instead highlighted the squabbles between retailers and the banking and payments industry.

Washington (AFP) – Apple Pay, meant to inject momentum into a fragmented market for the emerging mobile payments sector, has instead highlighted the squabbles between retailers and the banking and payments industry.

Since Apple Pay made its debut October 20 for US customers with the iPhone 6, several major retailers have said they would not use it. 

That includes number one retail group Wal-Mart and the large pharmacy-retail group CVS, which has disabled payment terminals that could accept Apple Pay.

“You’re never going to come up with anything as smooth (and) as easy as Apple Pay. But if you can’t use it, you’re going to use something else,” said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner who follows mobile payments.

Litan said a few retailers, such as McDonald’s and Disney, like the system because it speeds transactions and “every fraction of a second goes to the bottom line.”

But she noted that for most retailers, credit card fees simply are too high.

Apple Pay has aligned itself with major banks and payment processors Visa and MasterCard, which take a cut of every transaction, typically two to three percent. 

Retailers, which often operate on razor-thin profit margins, would like to cut or eliminate those fees, and Apple Pay does nothing to change that system.

“Most of the merchants have been hungry for competition,” Litan said.

- Stuck in neutral -

Gartner projects mobile payments will hit $721 billion around the world by 2017. But some estimates have been lowered recently amid squabbles over the type of technology used and payment structure.

Apple uses a “near field communication” or NFC chip, similar to that used by Google Wallet and Softcard, which has been slow to gain traction.

Although Apple has signed on most major US banks, Visa and MasterCard, and retailers like Macy’s and Staples, many others are balking.

A coalition of merchants led by Wal-Mart, Target and Sears called MCX is promoting its own system called CurrentC, using a different technology, and importantly, allowing retailers to bypass credit cards and use direct bank debits with lower transaction costs.

Apple Pay “really falls short when it comes to merchant value proposition,” said Litan.

Nitesh Patel, analyst with Strategy Analytics, said retailers are not necessarily targeting Apple but want “to avoid what they believe are excessive swipe fees and the cost of upgrading hardware and software to accept contactless payments.”

But he added that if Apple Pay catches on, the retailers will be forced to go along.

Patel said, however, that if the retailer sector does not unify around the contactless system used by Apple Pay, users may revert to their old habits, “since they will need to carry their payment cards and wallet with them anyway.”

“This is a challenge that all proponents of contactless payments, Google Wallet, Softcard and Apple Pay face together,” Patel told AFP.

The merchant system got a black eye when it revealed a data breach exposing customer emails, even though the app itself was not affected.

Forrester Research analyst Denee Carrington said security is an advantage for Apple.

“Apple Pay is highly secure, and the data privacy will mean that merchants are less likely to be hacked since they won’t have card payment data that hackers are interested in,” she said.

“Apple Pay is also very fast and consumers seem to like it as well.”

- Battle for customer data -

Bob O’Donnell at Technalysis Research said Apple’s privacy protections make the system less attractive to retailers, because they cannot as easily track customer habits to deliver coupons or marketing messages.

“They want that data,” O’Donnell said. “That’s why the grocery stores give you the loyalty cards.”

O’Donnell said Apple has created excitement about mobile payments but has failed to bridge the differences among the market players.

“It gives momentum to the sector but it remains fragmented,” he said.

“Apple Pay provides an example of the promise and the challenges of mobile payments in a very clear way.”

Litan said meanwhile that the squabbles could intensify. And she noted that retailers which are disabling the ability to use contactless NFC technology could also be blocking rival systems.

The merchant-sponsored system uses a more cumbersome technology that requires customers to scan a QR (quick response) code and display that. But by bypassing the credit card system, it can reduce costs for merchants, who may pass on these savings to customers.

“The merchant systems are never going to be as convenient as Apple’s,” Litan said.

“They can’t compete with Apple on convenience but they can on price. It’s going to boil down to price versus convenience, and price usually wins.”

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Boko Haram says kidnapped schoolgirls ‘married off’

A screengrab from a Boko Haram video allegedly shows missing schoolgirls being filmed by an unidentified man in an undisclosed location in May 2014

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) – Boko Haram has claimed the 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped in Nigeria earlier this year have converted to Islam and been married off, according to a new video obtained by AFP on Friday.

The Islamist group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, also denied claims by Nigeria’s government that it had agreed to a ceasefire and apparently ruled out future talks.

In addition, Shekau said the Islamists were holding a German national, who was kidnapped in Adamawa state in northeast Nigeria in July.

The schoolgirls were kidnapped from the remote northeast town of Chibok in Borno state in April, raising global awareness about the group whose five-year insurgency in northern Nigeria has claimed an estimated 13,000 lives. 

The new video comes after a surprise announcement by the Nigerian military and presidency on October 17 that a deal had been reached with the militants to end hostilities and return the children.

There was immediate scepticism about both claims. Previous ceasefires have proved fruitless and there is little trust in the influence of the purported Boko Haram envoy, Danladi Ahmadu. 

Violence — and fresh kidnappings — have continued unabated since the announcement, including a triple bombing of a bus station in the northern city of Gombe on Friday that killed at least eight.

Nigeria’s government maintains that talks are ongoing in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena.

But Shekau, speaking in Hausa, dressed in military fatigues and boots with a black turban, and flanked by 15 armed fighters, said: “We have not made ceasefire with anyone.

“We did not negotiate with anyone… It’s a lie. It’s a lie. We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not.”

He also said he did not know Danladi.

- Kidnapped girls -

There was no indication of when or where the video was shot but it was obtained through the same channels as previous communications from the group.

In it, Shekau mentions the Chibok girls for the first time since a video obtained on May 5, when more than 100 were shown in a rural location dressed in the hijab and reciting verses from the Koran.

Then, the militant leader said many of the girls had converted to Islam but in the latest, he indicated that all of those held had become Muslims.

“Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorised two chapters of the Koran,” he said.

Shekau previously threatened to sell the girls as slave brides and also suggested he would be prepared to release them in exchange for Boko Haram prisoners.

In the latest message, he said while laughing: “We have married them off. They are in their marital homes.”

Human Rights Watch said in a report published this week that Boko Haram was holding upwards of 500 women and young girls and that forced marriage was commonplace in the militant camps.

One former hostage said she saw some of the Chibok girls forced to cook and clean for other women and girls who had been chosen for “special treatment because of their beauty”.

- German national -

Shekau’s claim in the video that they were “holding your German hostage” is the first claim of responsibility for the abduction, which happened on July 16.

The German foreign ministry in Berlin said it did not want to comment when contacted by AFP.

Armed gunmen kidnapped the foreigner, who was said to be a teacher at a government technical training centre in Gombi, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Adamawa state capital Yola.

Suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram, which has repeatedly attacked schools teaching a so-called Western curriculum, as well as teachers and students.

An offshoot of Boko Haram, Ansaru, has previously claimed the kidnapping of at least eight foreigners in northern Nigeria since 2012 but the group has been largely dormant for more than a year.

The group reportedly broke with Boko Haram to specifically target foreigners instead of Nigerians and executed seven expatriates it seized from Bauchi state in 2013.

In January 2012, Boko Haram kidnapped German engineer Edgar Raupach at a construction site on the outskirts of the northern city of Kano.

He was killed during a military raid on a Boko Haram hideout on the outskirts of the city four months later.

Kidnappings for ransom by criminal gangs are common in the oil-producing south. On October 24, armed men shot dead one German national and kidnapped another in Ogun state, southwest Nigeria.

Both were working for the construction firm Julius Berger. The hostage was later released, the company said on Thursday.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday said worsening Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria and cross-border attacks inside Cameroon had heightened fear and made it increasingly difficult to relocate refugees.

“Cameroonian civilians are living in a state of terror due to frequent insurgent attacks,” a statement said.

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PICK A UNIVERSE: NEW MUSIC VIDEOS (7th Indiegogo/Album update)

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Be a part of making the most awesome video game inspired music CD ever! I'm making my second full length album which features 12 awesome songs. I’ve already written and recorded the entire album but there’s still a long way to go before I can release it! I believe this is the best music I have ever made to date and I need your help to get it out for everyone to listen to. Donate for great perks like:

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Appearing as an animated character in on of my future music videos
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Whether you donate $1, $100, or even just refer this campaign to your friends your involvement is greatly appreciated by me and everyone single person that had a part in making this album a reality. Donate to, like, favorite, share, and tweet this campaign!

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China manufacturing growth slows in October: govt

An employee works on assembly line at an auto factory in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, on Spetember 23, 2014

Beijing (AFP) – Chinese manufacturing growth slowed in October, the government said on Saturday, as the world’s second-largest economy expands at its weakest pace in five years.

China’s official purchasing managers index (PMI), a measure of activity in the sector, came in at 50.8 last month, Xinhua news agency quoted the National Bureau of Statistics as saying.

The figure was lower than the 51.1 recorded in September and compared with the preliminary 50.4 figure in a private survey released by British bank HSBC on October 23.

PMI tracks activity in China’s factories and workshops and is a closely-watched indicator of the health of the economy.

Readings above 50 indicate growth, while anything below points to contraction.

HSBC is scheduled to release its final PMI reading for October on Monday.

The Chinese economy expanded 7.3 percent in the third quarter, lower than the 7.5 percent expansion in the previous three months and the slowest since the depths of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the government announced last month.

Beijing’s 2014 growth target is about 7.5 percent, the same as last year, though officials including Premier Li Keqiang have openly stated a slightly slower increase is tolerable as long as the job market remains resilient.

Chinese authorities have since April used a series of limited measures to underpin growth, including targeted cuts in reserve requirements — the amount of funds banks must put aside — and a 500 billion yuan ($81.8 billion) injection into the country’s five biggest banks for re-lending.

A slowdown in China’s huge property sector is also weighing on overall growth, with economists worrying that a potential destructive bust in housing prices could dent economic hopes for the Asian powerhouse, a key driver of global and regional growth.

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