games people play
May 16, 2014
Halo 5/Facebook

There are few modern video game franchises more successful than Halo, which almost single-handedly kept Microsoft's Xbox afloat during the console's shaky launch in 2001. But while the Halo franchise has gone on to gross well over $3 billion in total sales, a new game hasn't been released since Halo 4, which debuted on the Xbox 360 in 2012.

Today, Microsoft announced an ambitious plan to expand the Halo universe with Halo 5: Guardians, a new game for the Xbox One that will debut in fall 2015. "Halo 5: Guardians is a bigger effort than Halo 4," said Bonnie Ross, the general manager for the developer behind the franchise. "That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what's now a brand-new and more powerful engine. [...] We've invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One's hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen."

Fans can also look forward to the debut of a Halo TV series, produced by Steven Spielberg, which Ross said "will stand alone, as well as complement and enrich the game experience."

More details about both Halo 5: Guardians and the Halo TV series are expected to be revealed at June's E3 tradeshow, an annual event devoted to the future of the video game industry.

2:26 p.m. ET
Courtesy Washington University Anthropology News

A new discovery suggests that roughly two million years ago, the children of our earliest ancestors played with toys — and the artifacts could have larger implications about mankind's migration across earth.

Archaeologists found more than 700 stone artifacts in the Nihewan basin of China's Hebei province. The archaeologists believe the site was once home to a small "playground" of sorts, The South China Morning Post reports.

The team believes the artifacts were carved by women and children. One item particularly resembles a children's toy carved by a mother for her child, according to the researchers, but photos of the artifacts haven't been released to the public.

"This is an amazing discovery," Wei Qi, a paleoanthropologist who is leading the research at the site, told The South China Morning Post. "The site is a treasure chamber that may hold some useful clues to answer a lot of important questions, from the social structure of the early hominids to whether, when, and how they arrived in Asia all the way from Africa."

1:27 p.m. ET

HBO is getting into the daily news business. In an expansion of their deal wth Vice, the premium network has ordered a daily Vice-branded half-hour news program, airing five episodes per week for 48 weeks per year.

The new partnership also extends the life of HBO's existing weekly Vice investigative news series, increasing the number of episodes per year from 14 to 35.

TV talk
11:50 a.m. ET
Courtesy Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Downton Abbey is coming to an end. Today, the show's creative team confirmed longstanding rumors that the popular period drama will conclude after its upcoming sixth season.

"Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and Downton is no exception," said executive producer Gareth Neame in a statement. "We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans. We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up."

Coming Soon
11:16 a.m. ET
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If you've always wanted to own one of Oprah's favorite things, now is your chance.

On April 25, Chicago's Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will auction more than 500 lots from Oprah's former Chicago apartment. The collection is estimated to be worth between $850,000 and $1.3 million, and the proceeds will benefit the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation.

Bloomberg reports that many of the items showcase Winfrey's interest in 18th and 19th century design. The auction will feature plenty of furniture and art, such as this Aristide Maillol piece valued between $8,000 and $12,000.

If you're not into home design, the auction will feature some of Oprah's clothing, too. The items for sale include Chanel and Valentino Jackets, as well as Alexander McQueen skirts, Chanel handbags, and a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.

10:37 a.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security dropped some $945 million on new radio systems for border patrol at the southern border, but it didn't do much to improve the situation. In fact, some border patrol agents reported that they were able to communicate more effectively before the new technology was installed.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the new radio systems found that the border patrol "has not established an ongoing performance monitoring plan to determine whether the systems are working as intended" and thus is not able to determine if the nearly billion-dollar investment is "functioning as intended in each location and are meeting user needs."

10:31 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaking to Larry King on his new show, "PoliticKING with Larry King," former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) had some interesting thoughts on Vice President Joe Biden's prospects for 2016:

Joe is his own worst enemy. He’s a very bright guy, very good values. But he just — he can’t keep his mouth shut or his hands to himself. It’s out of good intentions, but I think he has unfortunately diminished people’s perception of his abilities. [Politico]

Rumors about whether or not Biden will run for president this year have been swirling for months, and though Biden himself has yet to indicate his interest in running, a Draft Joe Biden super PAC is busily attempting to convince him to do so.

Germanwings Crash
9:57 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The CEOs of Germanwings and Lufthansa, its parent company, held a news conference on Thursday in Cologne, Germany. The conference came after a French official announced Thursday that the co-pilot of Tuesday's doomed flight had deliberately crashed the plane.

Lufthansa's chief executive, Carsten Spohr, said that the company was "stunned" about the news regarding the co-pilot. However, Spohr added that there is no reason to believe the crash was an act of terrorism.

"The only thing I can say here is that this is the worst possible moment, the darkest chapter in the history of our airline," Spohr said. "This is a totally tragic case, we hope it's one of a kind and never happens again. Our hearts go out the relatives and friends of the victims."

The officials also stressed that Lufthansa and Germanwings have "full confidence" in their pilots. "We choose our staff very, very carefully," Spohr said. He also announced that the airline will provide financial assistance to the families of the victims.

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