Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 5:41 am
There are more troubles for disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.
A Texas-based promotions company sued the former cycling champion Thursday for more than $12 million, which was paid to Armstrong for several of his record seven Tour de France wins. Armstrong publicly admitted last month that those herculean victories were aided by doping.
The lawsuit is part of a flurry of activity: Armstrong still is in talks with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and there is now word that he is under federal investigation, a year after another federal criminal inquiry ended abruptly.
The Great Recession touched a vast majority of Americans personally, a new study from Rutgers' Heldrich Center finds.
The most stunning number in the study: "Some 73 percent [of Americans] either lost a job themselves, or had a member of their household, a close relative, or a friend lose a job at some point in the past four years."
The report is pretty depressing. A few more findings:
Fried chicken washed down with sweet tea — it's a classic Southern lunch. That fat/sweet nexus is also a recipe for a stroke, according to a recent study.
Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, have been trying to nail down how diet relates to stroke, particularly in the "Stroke Belt" — the Southeastern states that have the dubious distinction of hosting the nation's highest stroke rates.
This past weekend, a surprising little movie topped the box office over pop-action juggernaut Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and the Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook.
Warm Bodies is a zombie romance brought to you by the man behind the recent cancer comedy 50/50; clearly, director and screenwriter Jonathan Levine has an interest in genre bending, and this latest flick is equal parts Night of the Living Dead and Romeo and Juliet. It's told through the eyes of R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie living in an airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board says the battery fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was caused by multiple short circuits in a single cell, but it still doesn't know what caused the problem. The NTSB also says the process the FAA used to approve the plane needs to be reviewed.
Iran's government on Thursday made clear it has no interest in direct talks until the U.S. eases sanctions that have been squeezing Iran's economy. But the Obama administration isn't budging and says the ball is in the Iranians' court.
The suspicion that Iran wants to make a nuclear weapon is the rationale for the sanctions as well as for veiled threats of U.S. or Israeli military action if those sanctions fail.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified before a Senate committee Thursday about the September attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Panetta was questioned about whether the U.S. response was fast enough and about why the U.S. military had not been better prepared for the possibility of an attack.
There was another U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday. At least three people were killed when missiles struck a compound in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. The strike comes as Washington debates the use of drones and not long after Ambassador Sherry Rehman said the use of drones was a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and international law. Throughout Pakistan, popular reaction to the drone strikes continues to be vociferously negative. Robert Siegel talks to Jackie Northam.
In a tiny village in Brittany, France, the mayor is also the local Catholic priest. As a mayor, Elie Geffray will soon be officiating over same-sex unions even though the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and adoption. He notes that France is a secular democracy and that allows Muslims, Catholics, Protestants and atheists to live together. And says he believes the Catholic Church made a mistake by getting involved in the gay marriage debate.
Oakland, Calif., is among the U.S. cities that's seen an increase in violence over the last year. The uptick in crime comes as the police department is also under pressure from a federal court to reform its ways.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln didn't sit quite right with Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, namely the part of the film that depicts two of his predecessors from Connecticut voting against the constitutional amendment to end slavery. Courtney left the theater, checked the facts and discovered that the movie was in fact wrong: All four Connecticut representatives at the time voted for the amendment. Courtney tells Audie Cornish that he is now asking Spielberg to correct the error before the film goes to DVD.
There's a sequence early in the laughable drama The Playroom that epitomizes everything wrong with it: With her parents out of the house, 16-year-old Maggie Cantwell (Olivia Harris), the eldest of four latchkey kids, sneaks into the garage with her boyfriend on a determined quest to lose her virginity. While the two fumble around clumsily on the floor, Maggie's youngest brother, Sam (Ian Veteto), sits outside the garage door, trying to sew a merit badge onto his shirt but struggling to thread the needle.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 6:14 pm
In the opening sequence of The Sorcerer and the White Snake, two monks step through a giant gate and find themselves in a new world — one made entirely of computer-generated images. Only Fahai (Jet Li) and his disciple Neng Ren (Zhang Wen) are human.
"Don't believe everything you see," the older man warns.
The new road-trip comedy Identity Thief — about a guy who confronts a woman who's wrecking his credit rating — is such a catalog of missed opportunities, it probably makes sense just to list them.
The setup: Sandy Patterson, who works in a Denver financial firm (and is not supposed to be mentally challenged), blithely hands over his Social Security number to a stranger on the phone who says his accounts have been compromised, at which point his accounts get compromised. No tricks, no subterfuge, no laughs — he's just stupid.
It took years for our fictions to consider the Holocaust narrative. And for an even longer time, a stunned silence hovered over the fate of "Hitler's children" — ordinary Germans during and after World War II. That embargo, too, is lifting, with a significant trickle of novels, movies and television dramas that imagine what it felt like to be the inheritors of the worst that humans can do to other humans.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:40 pm
There's no separating Charlie Sheen from Charles Swan, the titular representation of the male id at its most self-obsessed in Roman Coppola's uneven A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. But for better and decidedly worse, that's the point.
It's the drug's fault, man. That's the defense offered by the perpetrator brought to trial in Side Effects, a stylish, vaguely Hitchcockian dud. But what excuse does this fatally silly movie have?
The film, reportedly the final big-screen effort for prolific director Steven Soderbergh, begins in a New York apartment where something bad has happened. Blood on the floor, smeared and tracked by footprints, suggests murder, suicide or extreme clumsiness.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:44 pm
The Gallup Organization, one of the polling industry's oldest brand names, is calling in an outsider to do a comprehensive review after its 2012 election polls consistently favored Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
University of Michigan professor Michael Traugott, a past president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, has been working with Gallup since December to test several of its methods. Among them: how many interviews are conducted by cellphones; how it measures likely voters and early voters; and how it assesses the impact of get-out-the-vote efforts.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 5:12 pm
Immigrants from Asia and Latin America are more conservative than their U.S.-born children, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
And while most immigrants from Asia and Latin America identify with the Democratic Party, the report found that Hispanic members of the second generation — those born in the United States with at least one parent born outside of the country — were even more likely to identify as Democrats than their parents.
Movies are big business in China, and 2012 was another record year: Theaters raked in about $2.7 billion, pushing China past Japan to become the world's second-largest market.
Those blistering sales were expected; China's ultimate box-office champ, however, was not.
Hollywood blockbusters usually do well in China. And last year, competition was stiff, including a new installment of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise, as well as Skyfall, the latest James Bond flick.
Thursday marks the beginning of New York Fashion Week, where big-name designers like Michael Kors, Anna Sui and Vera Wang will debut their Fall 2013 collections. It's part of an industry that generates billions of dollars of revenue for New York City, employing hundreds of thousands of workers. But the real business of fashion happens several blocks south of the glamorous Lincoln Center runways,in New York's Garment District.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 8:15 pm
Rowan Atkinson, the British comedian who's probably best known to Americans as Mr. Bean, is in the record books for something that's not all that funny.
According to reports from The Scotsman and other news outlets in the U.K., Atkinson's insurers paid 910,000 British pounds (about $1.4 million) to repair the McLaren F1 supercar that he wrecked in 2011. That's a U.K. record, newspapers say.