Monday, December 20, 2010

The Bank of Japan said manufacturing production
had weakened
Japan has kept its key interest rate at between zero and 0.1% as policymakers continue to try to bolster the country's fragile economic recovery.

The central bank warned that the recovery "seems to be pausing".

Japan has been suffering from a strong yen, weak exports and almost two years of falling prices.

Last month, the government passed a $61bn (£39bn) stimulus package, the latest in a series of measures designed to boost the economy by creating jobs.

The Bank of Japan also said it would consider taking further steps to aid the recovery.

It said that while the economy was showing signs of "moderate recovery", it would "continue to carefully examine the outlook for economic activity and prices, and take policy action in an appropriate manner".

The bank also warned that business sentiment and private consumption for some goods had weakened, while manufacturing production had declined.
Weak exports

Japan's economy expanded at an annual pace of 4.5% between July and September, but many economists attribute this relatively strong growth to one-off factors

Most expect growth to be weaker in the final three months of the year.

One reason is weakened exports, which have taken a double hit from weakening demand overseas and a stronger yen, which makes exports more expensive.

Japan has also suffered 20 straight months of falling prices - known as deflation - which stifles economic growth by undermining consumer demand.
Snow and ice have stranded tens of thousands of would-be travellers across northern Europe.

The UK, France and Germany are among the worst-hit areas, with forecasters warning freezing weather may continue.

Hundreds of passengers desperate to return home for Christmas camped overnight at the world's busiest transport hub, London's Heathrow.

More than 1,000 flights were cancelled at German airports in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin.
In France, Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport had three of its four runways open though most of the short-haul flights had been cancelled to enable longer-haul passengers to fly. 

At the capital's smaller Orly airport, although both runways were in operation, many flights had delays of more than three hours, according to French newspaper Le Monde. 

In Germany, airlines encouraged their passengers to take the train while train operators - whose services are already overcrowded - urged passengers to stay at home, Reuters reports.

At Frankfurt airport - where many spent the night on camp-beds - authorities brought in four brightly coloured clowns to try and lift the mood in the terminals.

But some of the most dramatic scenes took place in the British capital where, more than 48 hours after the last heavy snowfall in London, angry passengers with tickets turned up at Heathrow airport only to be turned away from the already overcrowded hub.

All short-haul flights had been cancelled and only one runway was in operation for the few flights that managed to take leave.

The airport operator said that no more than one third of scheduled flights would be allowed to leave or land at the airport until at least 0600GMT on Wednesday.

A passenger surrounded by luggage inside London's St Pancras International train stationOfficials warned that despite relaxation of night-flight operations in an effort to loosen the backlog it might take until after Christmas to do so, and perhaps longer if more snow falls.

London's St Pancras International rail terminal was clogged with passengers and their luggage
The chaos at Heathrow had a knock-on effect in other international hubs where stranded passengers began to accept the possibility of not being with their loved ones over the Christmas period.
"My daughter is coming home and I don't see her very often and she's coming home to an empty house and it's just devastating," said 64-year-old Vivian Crosby, of Cambridge, England, stranded at New Jersey's Newark airport. 

Long queues
Others expressed disbelief that such a short burst of snow could have such a great impact.
Scott Kirker, from Philadelphia, had hoped to travel to Singapore via London to see his parents for Christmas but his flight was cancelled.

"We keep being told that London never has snow, it's never a problem! It's a major inconvenience for a lot of people," he said from Newark. 

Travellers' frustration was summed up by London Mayor Boris Johnson: "It can't be beyond the wit of man surely to find the shovels, the diggers, the snowploughs or whatever it takes to clear the snow out from under the planes, to get the planes moving and to have more than one runway going," he said late on Monday.

Airport operators explained that the sheer volume of snow - five inches in just one hour on Saturday - led to extensive ice buildup around aircraft on the ground and that safety concerns remained their priority. 

The treacherous conditions are costing British Airways some £65m (£100m; 75m euros) a day, analysts say, and the weather is severely impacting UK business in general: the number of customers in UK shops is down 25% at what is normally one of the most intense shopping periods of the year. 

There were severe delays on the Eurostar rail service between the UK and France and Belgium, and Thalys trains between France and Belgium were also affected as speed restrictions hit rail travel in England and northern France.

Lines of delayed passengers snaked for several hundred metres outside London's St Pancras station, and Eurostar - which has been turning away even those with bookings - urged travellers to cancel or postpone their trips if possible.

Main European airports and travel disruption

map of affected airports
UK: British Airways cancels all short-haul departures. Heathrow, Gatwick, Cardiff, Edinburgh and other airports suffering disruption or knock-on effects

France: Authorities ask airlines to cut 30% of flights from Paris's two main airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly to ease congestion

Germany: Some 300 of 1,340 flights cancelled at Frankfurt because of problems elsewhere in Europe, airport operator Fraport says

Netherlands: The schedule at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam is suffering cancellations and delays

German rail services were also affected. Heavy snow in Berlin caused problems for commuter trains and on the roads. Dangerous conditions were also reported on roads near Cologne.

Dutch authorities imposed a 50km/h (30mph) speed limit on a number of motorways, while 
icy, snowy roads also caused traffic problems across Sweden. 

As a sign of how bad conditions were, even in Moscow, where 9,000 snow ploughs were in action, some roads were at a virtual standstill.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has won re-election, defeating a Republican candidate backed by the Tea Party.
"Ms Murkowski was said to be flying back to Alaska on Wednesday,
after telling supporters she had "made history"
Ms Murkowski was defeated in August for the party nomination by Joe Miller, who had been endorsed by ex-Governor Sarah Palin.

Ms Murkowski told supporters to write her name on the ballot, and is the first candidate to win a so-called write-in bid for Senate since 1954.

Officials said she was ahead by 10,000 votes with only 700 left to count.
Failed ballot challenges

The result comes after weeks of hand counting, and legal squabbling and manoeuvring by Mr Miller's camp, which sought to challenge ballots in which Ms Murkowski's name was misspelled or unclear.

The election was held on 2 November.

It was unclear whether Mr Miller would continue pressing his challenging in court. In recent weeks many lawyers who had travelled to Alaska for the fight have departed.

Analysts have described her victory as a rebuke for Ms Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and Tea Party figurehead. She has been openly at odds with Ms Murkowski since defeating her father Frank Murkowski to win the state governorship in 2006.

The defeat shows Ms Palin's endorsement could not even deliver a victory in her home state, which votes heavily Republican, analysts said.

Mr Miller, a lawyer, former judge and former US Army officer, rode a surge of anti-incumbent Tea Party enthusiasm to win the August Republican party primary.

But his campaign subsequently suffered from revelations that as a government lawyer he had been disciplined for improperly using government computers for partisan political purposes.

Later, private security guards working for his campaign handcuffed a journalist who was asking questions he had refused to answer.

Meanwhile, Ms Murkowski, chastened by her surprise primary defeat, launched an energetic write-in campaign that included songs instructing supporters on the proper spelling of her name.

The last senator to win a write-in campaign was Strom Thurmond in 1954.

If you caught the latest episode of The Ben Heck Show, then you no doubt saw this era's modding mastermind piece together a PS3 console suitable for use in the wilds of Afghanistan. The military-grade portable gaming system was designed and built for a couple working with the military overseas, and it's Pelican's iM2600 Store Case there on the outside keeping things safe and secure from flying shrapnel. As Ben always does, he managed to carefully place an entire PS3 console deep within the confines of the enclosure, and he even threw in an integrated LCD into the lid to prevent any additional external hookups. Generator equals gametime, as they say. Head on past the break for the latest episode, which shows the play-by-play on how it was constructed.

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. says it aims to boost global sales by 3 percent to 7.7 million vehicles next year.

The world's biggest automaker expects shrinking domestic sales to offset growing overseas demand.
It is targeting sales of 1.3 million vehicles in Japan, down 17 percent. It hopes to sell 6.4 million vehicles outside Japan, up 8 percent.

Toyota estimates that its global sales this year grew 7 percent to 7.48 million vehicles.
Russia has warned US lawmakers that any change to the new nuclear arms disarmament treaty between the two countries could destroy the pact.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the New Start treaty "cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations" according to remarks reported by Interfax news agency.

Republicans in the US Senate have recently pushed to change its wording.

Two-thirds of the 100 US senators must back the treaty for it to be ratified.

"The Start agreement, which was drafted on the basis of strict parity, completely meets the national interests of both Russia and the United States," Mr Lavrov told Interfax.

"It cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations," he added.

In Washington DC, top Republican senators have pledged to oppose the treaty, with some objecting to the tight time frame before the new Congress begins in January and others saying they fear it will prevent the US from developing a missile defence system.

But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Monday he believed the treaty had the 67 votes required for passage.

Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a letter to congressional leaders on Monday urging them quickly to ratify the agreement.

"This treaty enhances our ability to do that which we in the military have been charged to do: Protect and defend the citizens of the United States," he wrote.

"I am confident in its success as I am in its safeguards. The sooner it is ratified, the better."
Security imperative

Science-fiction sequel Tron: Legacy has gone straight to number one on the box office chart in the US and Canada.
The film has been released in 3D

The Disney release continues where 1982's Tron left off with Jeff Bridges' character hurtled into a virtual reality called Grid.

Bridges reprises his role in the sequel, which made $43.6m (£28.5m) in its opening weekend.

Disney said the opening was within its own expectations although the film reportedly cost $170 (£109m) to make.

Dan Aykroyd family film, Yogi Bear, made a disappointing debut at number two with takings of $16.7m (£10.7m).

Warner Brother executives said they hoped the adaptation of the TV cartoon would pick up over the holiday period.

"We wish it had been a bit higher, but we'll catch up as we get going," said Jeff Goldstein, the studio's general sales manager.
Continue reading the main story

1. Tron: Legacy - $43.6m

2. Yogi Bear - $16.7m

3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - $12.4m

4. The Fighter - $12.2m

5. The Tourist - $8.7m


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, fell to number three from the top spot with $12.4m (£7.9m).

Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale's boxing drama The Fighter - which garnered six Golden Globe nominations earlier this month - came in at number four with $12.2m (£7.84m).

Reese Witherspoon's romcom, How Do You Know?, which also stars Jack Nicholson and Owen Wilson, failed to ignite the chart.

It debuted at number eight, with takings of $7.6m (£4.8m).

The King's Speech, which led the Golden Globe nominations with seven nods, continued its expansion in limited release.

The film, starring Colin Firth as the stammering monarch George VI, took $1.1m (£0.7m) in 43 cinemas.

A nationwide system to block pornography "at source" is
unlikely to prove effective, say experts.
Government plans to block pornography "at source" are unlikely to prove effective, say ISPs.

The proposal to cut off access to pornographic material was floated by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey in an interview with the Sunday Times.

The government is talking to ISPs to set up a meeting at which the proposal will be discussed.

But, say experts, technical challenges mean any large scale filtering system is doomed to failure.
Legal issues

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, confirmed Mr Vaizey's plan to talk to ISPs about setting up an age verification scheme to govern access to pornographic sites.

"This is a very serious matter," said Mr Vaizey. "I think it's very important that it's the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children."

"I'm hoping they will get their acts together so we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years."

In response to the government proposal, Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Ispa industry body, said: "Ispa firmly believes that controls on children's access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down."

Mr Lansman said its members provided parents with many different means of controlling what is accessible via the computers in their homes.
Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.

The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.

The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan.

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan WASHINGTON — Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.

The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.

The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Even with the risks, military commanders say that using American Special Operations troops could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated.

A state of emergency that has been in force in the Thai capital Bangkok for more than eight months is being lifted.

The special provisions were introduced during anti-government protests in Bangkok earlier this year.

They gave sweeping powers to the security forces, including the power to detain suspects for up to 30 days without charge.

More than 90 people were killed in April and May during clashes between protesters and Thai security forces.

At one stage emergency law was imposed over more than a quarter of the country but it has gradually been lifted as the security situation has improved.

The government has for weeks been suggesting that the emergency law could and should be lifted in Bangkok and surrounding provinces as soon as possible.
Comfort zone

Now the powerful Thai military appears to have agreed that the time is right.

But the Thai defence minister has suggested that things will not revert to an entirely normal situation.

The emergency decree is likely to be replaced by the Internal Security Act which still allows the security forces broad licence to detain suspects without charge, albeit for seven rather than 30 days.

The move comes as anti-government protestors appear to gaining in confidence once more.

There are now regular demonstrations in Bangkok, attracting several thousand people.

But, although they disrupt traffic, the protests have been peaceful, which is presumably why the government now feels comfortable in lifting emergency law.

The UFC’s previous incursion into Sydney – February 2010’s UFC 110 – set box office records at Acer Arena, and sold out within two hours. UFC 110 remains the fourth fastest UFC sellout ever, meaning two of the top five best selling UFC events have been hosted by the Harbour City.

“We’re ecstatic. Tickets sold out literally as quickly as the Ticketek phone lines and website would allow, and that’s despite us working with our partners at Acer to add an extra 600 seats to the in-arena configuration we had at UFC 110,” said UFC Managing Director of International Development Marshall Zelaznik. “We will have just over 18,000 fans in attendance at UFC 127 in nine weeks’ time and expect to blow the roof off.”

Zelaznik said the rapid-fire sell out is indicative of the growth of the sport Down Under.

“The UFC’s popularity is exploding in Australia, even faster than we could have expected,” he commented. “Over the last 18 months, Australia has become one of the top three or four markets in the world for us. When you consider UFC programming is enjoyed by tens of millions of fans across 150 countries, that’s a big statement about the passion Australian sports fans have for the UFC.”

UFC 127 will be screened live around the world in the usual timeslot for UFC events, meaning the event takes place on Feb. 26 in North America and can be viewed live in exactly the same time slot as any other UFC pay-per-view.

Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn headlines the card against No. 2 ranked welterweight Jon Fitch.

One of my favorite shows to watch is American Idol. I love watching someone with talent show the world how awesome they are. During the show they grow so much and America falls in love with them. I also love learning about the singer’s life and see how putting themselves on the line for one audition can make such a huge difference for not only them, but their family.

This last season we met Crystal Bowersox. Crystal, 25, is a singer-songwriter from Ohio. Before American Idol she was singing in local bars, train stations, and open mic nights. She even traveled internationally on a independent small cafe tour! Then American Idol took the dread-locked, folk singer to new heights.

Crystal was the runner-up on Season 9. Being the runner-up didn’t hold her back. In fact, most American Idol runner-ups aren’t held back…think about Clay Aiken, Katherine McPhee, David Archuleta, and Adam Lambert. Now we can add Crystal Bowersox to that list.

Crystal’s CD “Farmer’s Daughter” hits stores TODAY!! I received a sneak peek at this CD and it is REALLY good! The album features 8 songs written by Crystal, including “Holy Toledo”, the original song she performed on American Idol. It also includes “two co-writes, an additional track written by Kara DioGuardi and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, an amazing Buffalo Springfield Cover, and the very special “Mason”, written by Crystal and her husband Brian.”

Once I learn all the words to all the songs I am really going to be rockin’ out to this CD. One of the best parts is that each song sounds different…something newer artists struggle with, I feel. Not Crystal, she shows her diversity on this CD, “Farmer’s Daughter.”

Track List:

1. Ridin With The Radio
2. For What It’s Worth
3. Farmer’s Daughter
4. Holy Toledo
5. Lonely
6. Hold On
7. On The Run
8. Kiss Ya
9. Speak Now
10. Mine All Mine
11. Mason
12. Arlene

My favorites are Holy Toledo, Hold on, Speak Now, and Mason. This is definitely going to be a singing in the car staple! Just a heads up: This CD does have a few swear words on it. Crystal offers an explicit and edited version of the CD though so everyone is happy :)

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2010

"Sugar" Shane Mosley, a former world champion in three weight classes, has told the Los Angeles Times his advisor was to meet with Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum about a May 7 fight.

Hours after sending a Twitter message about a Pacquiao fight that said "the ink hasn't dried yet but it's pretty much a go", Mosley said prior discussions set the ground for finalising a deal quickly, the newspaper reported Monday.

"We've already discussed the fight about three, four weeks ago, so now we'll go over it again," Mosley told the Times. "Both sides just need to commit to what we've talked about and then I think we're done."

Mosley said his advisor, James Prince, would "go over the particulars and maybe sign" a deal to fight Pacquaio, who turned 32 three days ago.

Mosley, a 39-year-old American, is 46-6 with one draw and 39 knockouts while Filipino superstar Pacquiao is 52-3 with two draws and 38 knockouts.

"Pac-Man" has won 13 fights in a row, the southpaw having not lost in nearly six years in a span that has seen him dispatch such stars as Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Mosley, however, has lost twice and struggled to a draw in his past five fights, falling to Puerto Rico's Cotto in 2007 and unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jnr last May before being drawn by American Sergio Mora last September.

Mayweather has twice failed to come to terms on a fight deal with Pacquiao for the megafight showdown fans have desired and Mayweather now faces legal charges over two incidents in Las Vegas set to go to court early next year.

By Zachary M. Seward and Albert Sun

Readers of Gizmodo, Lifehacker and other Gawker Media sites may be among the savviest on the Web, but the most common password for logging into those sites is embarrassingly easy to guess: “123456.” So is the runner-up: “password.”

On Sunday night, hackers posted online a trove of data from Gawker Media’s servers, including the usernames, email addresses and passwords of more than one million registered users. The passwords were originally encrypted, but 188,279 of them were decoded and made public as part of the hack. Using that dataset, we found the 50 most-popular Gawker Media passwords:

How do Gawker Media users express themselves when no one is watching? While many of their passwords are common phrases like “qwerty,” others appear distinctive to the Gawker community. Where else would “f—you,” “blahblah” and “whatever” rank among the most popular passwords? And why, oh why, is “monkey” in the top 10?

At least two popular passwords are science-fiction references: “trustno1″ was Special Agent Mulder’s password on “The X-Files,” and “thx1138″ is a George Lucas film that envisioned a dystopian future. (There’s no way to tell, but these were likely created by users of Kotaku io9, Gawker Media’s popular gaming sci-fi site.) Other popular passwords are just plain-old geeky: “dragon,” “superman,” “princess,” “starwars” and “nintendo.” W00t!

The set of Gawker Media passwords differs significantly from a cache of 10,000 Hotmail passwords that leaked online last year, though “123456″ was the most popular among both groups. In both cases, the datasets only include passwords that could be decoded and aren’t necessarily representive of all users. For instance, more complex passwords may be harder to decode. We eliminated all identifiable information from the data we studied.

A plurality of Gawker Media passwords are six characters long, but we wondered whether that and other results might differ based on the user’s email provider. Indeed, users of Google and Yahoo’s email services are more likely than Microsoft email users to have passwords of eight or more characters. Popular passwords vary, as well: Gmail users are bigger X-Files fans (”trustno1″) and more likely to opt for the slightly clever variant “passw0rd.” Yahoo and Microsoft email users, meanwhile, are much more likely to get sappy with their passwords: “iloveyou.”

By this evening, Gawker Media said it had sent nearly 1.5 million emails to users notifying them of the hack. Slate put together a great tool for checking whether your information was compromised. And one of the best guides to creating a strong password (hint: not “123456″) is available on Lifehacker, a Gawker Media site.

Although I knew that the AirFlick video tool I posted about earlier today could theoretically pass transcoded video streams to Apple TV for playback, my initial attempts with VideoLan Client transcoding more or less went nowhere. Then TUAW reader BC reposted a comment earlier this evening that he originally left on the MacRumors forums.

In that comment, he discussed how to add live conversion to my AirFlick app by using the server component of AirVideo, a video streaming solution that allows your Mac to serve video to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Although I had previously attempted to play back AirVideo m3u8 playlists on the Mac without success, BC suggested that the Apple TV supported them.

After a little experimentation I was live streaming transcoded AVI files from my Mac's AirVideo Server to Apple TV via AirFlick, as the video here shows. Instead of using BC's method (which appears on the earlier AirFlick post), I grabbed the m3u8 URL by temporarily streaming from Air Video on my Mac to my iPad.

That allowed me to pull off the core index file name (in my case, that was index_68c17927-5f43-4176-ba5e-7fc91b48b050.m3u8) and construct a url to enter into AirFlick, namely http://MY_LOCAL_IP_ADDRESS:45631/live-playback-2.4.0/INDEX_FILE.m3u8. Substitute your own IP address and the actual index m3u8 playlist name.

You can also grab the UUID from the command line by doing a ps -ax with a very very wide window, to grab the conversion id from the process list, which is a ffmpeg process; e.g. 1124 ?? 2:49.79 /Applications/Air Video --conversion-id 68c17927-5f43-4176-ba5e-7fc91b48b050 --port-number 46631 -threads 4 -flags2 +fast -flags +loop -g 30 -keyint_min 1 -bf 0 -b_strategy 0 -flags2 -wpred-dct8x8 -cmp +chroma -deblo

If you, like my family and so many other people, own a compact USB video camera, it's nice to know that you can play home movies directly to Apple TV without having to convert them into an iTunes-compatible format, and without having to jailbreak. The same goes for anyone whose PVR system records to AVI files rather than some OS X standard video format.

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 ISBN 0439785960

The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggles have been affected. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet...As with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Harry receives some extraordinary help in Potions from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. And with Dumbledore's guidance, he seeks out the full, complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort--and thus finds what may be his only vulnerability.

Brian Urlacher looks down as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre lays on the ground after being hit during the first half. Favre left the game with a head injury. | AP
Percy Harvin catches a 23 yard touchdown pass in front of Bears' D.J. Moore. | AP

Uh-oh: According to several people in the audience of tonight's show, the Bono-penned, Julie Taymor-directed Spider-Man musical Turn off the Dark just stopped a performance mid-show after an actor was involved in a 'big accident'—possibly a two-story fall.

Luckily, it seems as though the actor involved is okay, though there's no official word about any of this, so we're going off Twitter accounts. Here's what seems to have happened: The actor playing Spider-Man (Reeve Carney or his alternate Matthew James Thomas?) and the actress playing his love interest Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano) fell into the stage pit an hour or so into the show. According to screenwriter Brian Lynch, it looked "planned," until the audience heard Damiano screaming:

No joke. No explanation. MJ and Spidey took what seemed to be a planned fall into the stage pit. Then we heard MJ screaming.Tue Dec 21 04:01:32 via Twitter for iPhone
A tipster who emailed us told a similar story:
Long story short, spiderman fell abt 30 feet INTO THE PIT. As soon as he fell, the lead female character yelled (from the pit) "someone call 9-1-1." I wish I was making this up. When we left there were ambulances and firefighters outside the theater on 43rd.
The show was stopped, the audience ushered out, and 911 called. Two ambulances showed up, because, as another audience member, Steven Tartick, says, the fall was "at least two stories":
It looked really bad. A character fell at least two stories without a harness. So shaken up.Tue Dec 21 04:00:04 via Twitter for iPhone
As scary as it sounds, however, news service OLV Tweets that "Spidey is awake talking" and "seems ok":
Spidey is awake talking and in ambulance on his way to hospital seems ok too bad this will surely set back production again! #spidermanTue Dec 21 04:05:58 via Twitter for iPhone

Phew? I guess? Turn off the Dark has been plagued with setbacks and injuries since the very start, but mostly "just" broken feet and ankles. Assuming the Twitter reports are accurate, a two-story fall in the middle of a performance would mark a new low for the production, (assuming the producers aren't actively trying to harm their actors) only a few weeks before it's due to open.
And, look, it's already a stretch to make back the insane amount of money that's already been sunk into it. A (near?) tragedy like this won't help its prospects—in fact, it very well could kill it. But who knows? It's already the most talked-about musical on Broadway. Maybe it'll be a freak-show hit for people hoping to see someone die!
Update: Both NYPD and FDNY have confirmed that "a 31-year-old man" was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center for treatment following a fall. Apparently, the problem was a broken rope. Broadway World spoke with an EMT in the audience who believes the injury isn't as grave as feared:
I was in the audience and i'm an NY EMT. Although i am not involved with the care of the patient they didn't use a back-board and collar so they don't suspect spinal injury. The ambulance stayed on site longer then expected leading to believe the injury isn't critical."
[Picture of ambulance outside Foxwoods Theater via Bill Bragins]
How/When to View the Eclipse

Lots of questions are coming in about the best times to view this around the world. Here's a summary from our astronomers below:

"Early in the morning on Dec. 21, a total lunar eclipse will be visible to sky watchers around the world. The eclipse is visible across all of North America -- for viewers in western states, the eclipse actually begins late in the evening of Dec. 20. Viewers in Greenland, Iceland and western Europe will be able to see the beginning stages of the eclipse before moonset. In western Asia, the later stages of the eclipse will be visible after moonrise. All of the eclipse will be visible throughout Mexico and Central America and northwest South America. Viewers in Peru, Chile and Bolivia will see most of the eclipse, but the moon will set before the end of the Penumbral phase. Viewers in Brazil will see the moon set during totality. Parts of Africa in the northwest will also see the moon set while it is eclipsed. All but the westernmost tip of Australia will see an eclipsed moon as it rises. Unfortunately most of Africa, the middle East and India will not have a view of this event. This map will help you determine the viewing in your area."
Live Camera at Marshall Space Flight Center

Hey everyone -- these are the skies over the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. As you can see, the skies are varying between clear and cloudy here. We hope for good weather for the eclipse later tonight. We've also compiled a list of other web cams on our "Watch the Skies" blog that may have better weather and viewing option.