Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 4:46 pm
Few details have emerged about the U.S. plan to shut down embassies that would normally be open this Sunday. A senior State Department official says that the U.S. facilities may be closed for more days, as well. The closures are being described as "precautionary steps" that are being taken "out of an abundance of caution."
When you check social media and you're not caught up on your favorite TV show, say, you never know when you might encounter a spoiler. Somebody on Twitter, some blog says too much about what happened in a plot line. My big spoiler moment came when I saw a post about a death on "Downton Abbey" and I thought that everything was just ruined. But is it really that bad when this happens? NPR's Neda Ulaby has this encore story about how spoilers might actually make you enjoy something more.
In Spain, efforts at economic recovery are being overshadowed by a bribery scandal. Top politicians have been accused of taking under-the-table cash from construction companies. The ruling party's former treasurer is in jail. And yesterday, the prime minister had to explain himself in parliament. Lauren Frayer reports from Madrid.
Zimbabweans remember well that 2008 presidential election, when many in the opposition were rounded up, tortured, and scores were killed. Ultimately Robert Mugabe stayed in power - 33 years now and counting. Fungai Machirori, who's 29 years old, is part of a generation that grew up under Mugabe. She's a poet and the founder of Her Zimbabwe, a not-very-political platform for women to share their stories.
Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 7:54 pm
Now that the dust has settled somewhat on the rhetorical skirmish between Rand Paul and Chris Christie over NSA data-gathering, it's easier to see the irony of the confrontation.
We witnessed not just the punching and counterpunching of politicians considered likely contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination. It was also a clash between men who each possess a key to winning the White House.
Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 10:15 am
It's hard to tell who seems more lost in Paul Schrader's The Canyons. There's Lindsay Lohan, who to her credit appears to at least be trying really, really hard to remember how to act naturally. (Of course, when the effort's so clearly visible, you're pretty much not succeeding.) Her character, Tara, a Hollywood career climber who has hitched her fortunes to an emotionally abusive film producer and party boy, is equally adrift.
Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 6:57 am
Edward Snowden's father, Lonnie, had a dramatic change of heart this week: Back in June, he sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in which he told him that if the U.S. promised not to detain or silence Edward before a trial, his son would be willing to return to the United States.
Hypermacho but tongue-in-cheek, the first 20 minutes of 2 Guns are enormous fun. Tough guys Bobby and Stig (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) bicker and flirt — with a pretty diner waitress, and with each other — while casing a small-town Texas bank.
Then they set the diner on fire, don masks, and knock over the bank for $43 million, all while taking care to save any cops from getting hurt and even kissing an available baby. The heist, it would seem, has gone according to plan. Yet something's a little off.
Hollywood Bowl amphitheater, all lit up. On stage are members of the LA Philharmonic, Pink Martini - including BOTH of the band's lead singers, China Forbes (green dress) and Storm Large (white) - as well as the "Japanese Barbra Streisand," Saori Yuki.
Credit Melissa Kuypers / NPR
Pink Martini taking a bow at the end of the show. Bandleader Thomas Lauderdale in the red bowtie, Saori Yuki in pink, China Forbes in green, Storm Large in white, clarinetist Norman Leyden next to Storm. And back row center, our own Ari Shapiro.
Credit Melissa Kuypers / NPR
NPR White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro trying to "woo" back Pink Martini's Storm Large (seated, left, in the amazing dress) with the song "But Now I'm Back."
Credit Melissa Kuypers / NPR
The Hollywood Bowl is so large it requires Jumbotron-like screens for a good view of the show. Here is full-size Ari Shapiro, singing "Yo Te Quiero Siempre."
Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 9:09 am
Summer in Los Angeles isn't complete without a trip to the Hollywood Bowl. This outdoor concert venue seats just over 17,000 people and holds a variety of concerts from The Sound of Music sing-a-longs and Classical performances with the LA Philharmonic to contemporary acts like Vampire Weekend, vocalist Natalie Cole and everything in between.
Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 1:55 pm
Taking acetaminophen causes rare but potentially deadly skin reactions in some people, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.
The goal is not to scare people off Tylenol and other acetaminophen-based pain relievers, which are among the most popular medications in the United States, federal officials say.
Instead, they want people to be aware that these skin conditions can be a side effect of using acetaminophen, so that if they notice a rash or other skin reaction they can stop taking the drug and quickly get to a doctor.
Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 8:11 am
Chinese gamers may soon be able to settle by force a thorny international dispute between their government and Japan over who controls a small chain of islands in the East China Sea.
The basic platform of the newly released Glorious Mission Online was developed as a training tool for the People's Liberation Army. Game maker Giant Interactive Group (GIG) has expanded the "first-person shooter" game with a simulation of a Chinese amphibious assault on the Senkaku islands, as they are known in Tokyo, or Diaoyu, as Beijing calls them.
Writer-director Fernando Trueba certainly isn't earning points for his original premise in The Artist and the Model, which tells the story of an elderly French artist at the end of World War II who suffers from a creative block until the arrival of a young muse fuels a late-career resurgence.
In space, not many people can hear you scream. In fact, traveling in a manned spacecraft is probably a bit like working on a soundproof movie set — which is plainly where Europa Report was shot.
Tricked up with split screens and digital-video glitchery, this low-budget sci-fi saga emphasizes the claustrophobia and monotony of a long journey beyond Earth's gravity. But it also borrows gambits from horror movies, withholding information and eliminating characters one by one.
In education circles, Tony Bennett is widely known as a hard-charging Republican reformer associated with Jeb Bush's prescriptions for fixing public schools: charter schools, private school vouchers, tying teacher pay to student test scores and grading schools on a A through F scale.
Bennett resigned from his post as Florida's education chief this morning when a controversy over the last of those things — the school grades — caught up with him.
Italy's top court has upheld a conviction and prison term for Italy's most prominent politician, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, on charges of tax fraud. This the first time he has been definitively convicted, after 20 years in which he was accused of multiple transgressions. However, the supreme court will now reconsider the law that would bar him from holding high office because of the conviction. This could allow the shaky coalition that governs Italy to remain in place.
In the tiny South American nation of Uruguay, it's long been legal to smoke one's own homegrown marijuana. Now the government is getting close to putting the government in charge of producing and selling the nation's pot.