December 18th, 2013
10:07 AM ET

Critic on George Zimmerman's Painting: 'This is Not Art...It's a Poster'

George Zimmerman can now add "painter" to his resume after the former neighborhood watchman purportedly listed an original painting on eBay.

The 18-by-24-inch canvas features a blue, waving American flag with the words, "God, one nation, with liberty and justice for all" emblazoned across it.

The auction was posted Monday at a starting bid of 99 cents and is scheduled to end Saturday. As of Tuesday night, 108 bids were logged for the painting, ratcheting the price up to $110,100. The next bid would top $110,200.

Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., confirmed that George painted the piece.

But is it any good?

"Honestly, I wouldn't even call this a work of art," says Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine.

“It's a travesty. It’s a poster.”

Saltz considers it absurd that Zimmerman’s painting is fetching a price tag that places him in the same class as artists Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

“To me, what he made was a simpleton, copy, quasi-psychotic [painting],” Saltz says.

“What that speaks to that [bidders] think that George Zimmerman is a cause. They're not buying this work of art. They're buying the idea that George Zimmerman, a person that, in my opinion, got away with a crime, is worthy of supporting.”

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December 18th, 2013
10:07 AM ET

Dennis Rodman Set to Go to North Korea for 'Basketball Diplomacy'

As Dennis Rodman readies for his "basketball diplomacy" trip to North Korea, CNN has learned exclusively from Rodman's sponsor Paddy Power that Rodman and his documentary crew will arrive in Pyongyang on December 19 and train a team of North Korean basketball players through December 23.

The names of the former NBA players and "high-profile" NBA coach will be announced before Rodman leaves next week for North Korea. Paddy Power is an online and in-store sports betting business in the UK.

Rodman appears undeterred to travel to the Hermit Kingdom in the wake of leader Kim Jong-Un's uncle's execution, reports CNN's Anna Coren.

Rory Scott, a spokesman for Paddy Power, said that "taking a pragmatic view, we have spoken to many experts familiar with recent developments in DPRK and it was the general consensus that it is safe for us to travel there. The purpose of this trip is not to get involved with politics but to prove once again that sport has the power to rise above all issues. And this will be a unique sporting occasion."

The spokesman added that Rodman has no definite plans to meet with "the Marshal Kim Jong Un," but because Rodman and the President are friends, they could very likely meet again.

The North Korean basketball players are being trained for a game against a team of former NBA players, called Dennis' Dream Team, in Pyongyang on January 8, Kim's birthday. The game is tentatively titled "The Big Bang in Pyongyang." The first half will be the U.S. vs. North Korea. For the second half of the game, the two teams will be blended with players from both sides.

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December 18th, 2013
09:55 AM ET

Facebook Launches Video Ads

Facebook is rolling out a feature Tuesday that will allow advertisers to play videos in users' news feeds.

The feature offers companies a new way to promote movies and products on smartphones and computers, and is being tested with a small group of Facebook users.

"Rather than having to click or tap to play, videos will begin to play as they appear onscreen - without sound," Facebook said in a statement. When users tap the videos, the sound will turn on and the video will play in full-screen mode

TechBytes host Brett Larson stopped by "New Day" Wednesday to weigh in and said the Facebook ads will not eat into mobile data plans, explaining that videos will only download when devices are connected to WiFi.


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December 18th, 2013
09:47 AM ET

Numbers Announced for $636 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

This holiday season just got a lot merrier for two insanely lucky people.

Two tickets matched the winning numbers in Tuesday night's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot - splitting the second largest prize in U.S. history.

One winning ticket was sold in Atlanta, and the other was sold in San Jose, California, lottery officials said.

The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with a Megaball of 7. Twenty ticket holders will win $1 million after matching all the numbers except the Megaball.

Strong sales boosted the jackpot to $636 million from the previous estimate of $586 million, lottery officials announced late Tuesday morning.

That's tantalizingly close to the U.S. record - a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot split by three winning tickets in March 2012.

This jackpot was so large in part because Mega Millions became tougher to win. The prize rises with each miss, and no one won it since organizers increased the pool of numbers to choose from - making astronomical odds even longer - in October.

Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto spoke on "New Day" Wednesday and she had some advice for the two main winners.

Otto said: "Sign your ticket, sign it a couple of times, make certain it is in a very safe place. And perhaps, consult with some legal or some financial folks, before you officially come forward to claim that prize."


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