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Why The U.S. Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest and Other Fascinating News on the Web

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:29

1. Stuck in the Middle MoreThe Americans Who Question The Big Bang Theory and Other Fascinating News on the WebFrench IT Employees Win Right to Unplug after Work and Other Fascinating News on the WebMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostAll the Delicious Details from Beyoncé and Jay Z's Easter Brunch People

America is still the world’s richest large country. But that’s only when you average out the earnings across all income levels. For the first time in decades, the American middle class is no longer the world’s richest (blame Canada). Here’s Harvards’s Lawrence Katz: “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer. That is no longer the case.”

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+ Your money or your life? It turns out the two are deeply connected. The richer you are, the older you’ll get.

+ MoJo: 10 poverty myths, busted.

+ If you want a good, longterm investment, then why are you buying a house? (Because it’s almost impossible to host a brunch in a mutual fund?)

2. Affirmative Abstraction

The Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of race-conscious admissions at public universities. Writing for the 6-2 majority, Justice Kennedy wrote: “This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it.” Justice Sotomayor read her dissent from the bench: “For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.”

+ Today, the Supreme Court will hear the case against Aereo, one that could change the way we watch TV.

+ Should a product called Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of Five Juices contain more than a couple drops of blueberry and pomegranate juice? The court seems to think so.

3. Space Case

It turns out that Earth Day could focus our attention too narrowly. We are also littering in space. From FP: 135 million pieces of junk are orbiting Earth at 18,000 mph. “At that speed, even a half-inch piece of debris would have the kinetic force of a bowling ball thrown 300 miles per hour.”

4. Playing Through It

“It was strange because it was so routine. We hit, I got off the block, no big deal. I felt something flash — like they say when you get your bell rung. I didn’t lose consciousness. I walked back to the huddle and finished the drive.” That’s NFL linebacker Russell Allen. Was it a concussion? Nope. Russell Allen played through a stroke.

+ Salon: The brain injury that made me a math genius.

5. Breaking Worse

In a plot line that might sound somewhat familiar, Dicky Joe Jackson needed money to pay for his son’s life-saving surgery. So he sold meth. That was in 1996. Jackson got busted. And sentenced to life without parole.

6. The Guile High Club

“Authorities said the temperature in the wheel well at the jet’s cruising altitude of 38,000 feet could have dropped to 50 degrees below zero or lower. Oxygen also would have been in painfully short supply at that altitude, about 9,000 feet higher than the summit of Mt. Everest.” So how did a teen stowaway survive in a jetliner wheel well for five and a half hours and appear almost completely unscathed? (I can barely survive economy plus.)

+ And the other key question: With all the airport security we have these days, how did the kid get to the plane in the first place?

7. Peak Mountain

“There is no denying that climbing Everest is a preposterously dangerous undertaking for the members who provide the Sherpas’ income. But running counter to the disturbing trend among Sherpas, climbing Everest has actually grown significantly safer for Western guides and members in recent years.” Jon Krakauer on Death and Anger on Everest.

8. People Change

People don’t change. That’s what they told us. But according to a few studies, people actually can and do change as they get older. “From the ages of 20 to 65, people report increases in positive traits, such as conscientiousness, and decreases in negative traits, such as neuroticism.” (My wife submitted this link.)

+ Does the moon influence human behavior?

+ Is it time for us to take astrology seriously? (That really depends on your sign…)

9. On a Fling and a Prayer

If you are looking for a love that will last, I’d suggest hooking up with an albatross. If you’re into something a little more casual, there’s a 99% chance that Flamingos will just not be that into you. From NPR: Introducing A Divorce Rate For Birds.

10. The Bottom of the News

These days it seems like every investor is sharing tips and branding themselves as experts. So after more than a decade of investing in, and working with, startups, I’ve decided to finally share My Secret Investment Strategy.

+ Naugahyde the Salami: The conviction has been upheld in the case of the guy who committed a sex act on a BART seat. (It would have been completely legal had he been taking a selfie.)

+ Does anyone know more about Katy Perry than Katy Perry? Yup.

+ Game of Thrones: An Honest (and incredible) trailer.

+ Want to sleep in? Here’s where you should live.

Categories: Magazines

It’s Not You, It’s Science: How Perfectionism Holds Women Back

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:16

There are certain things one might assume you’re supposed to have mastered as a columnist. One is how to start a column. But if you’re me, you can spend hours writing and rewriting and deleting and restructuring a piece before coming to the conclusion that you have no business having a column at all. Crumpled over your sad desk in your living room, in your freelance uniform (pajamas), you are pretty sure your new writing contract will be revoked by the end of the week.

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Then you realize: you’re doing precisely what it is you’re supposed to be writing about — doubting yourself, over and over again, to the point of crippling paralysis. The perils of feminine self-doubt — and how they impact women’s professional aspirations — are the subject of a new book, The Confidence Code, by journalists (and recovering self-doubters) Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.

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Through dozens of interviews, scientific research and even experiments in genetic testing, The Confidence Code takes on the science and art of self-assurance, as well as the fact that women (like me) tend to struggle with it disproportionately. Why it matters? Well, by now most of us have heard the stories about how women are climbing the corporate ranks, dominating the workforce and graduating in higher numbers than men. “Lean In” has become part of the pop lexicon. But what does any of that matter if women can’t have the confidence to own their accomplishments and strive for their goals? How can women equal the ranks of the professional world, the authors ask, if we don’t even believe we’re supposed to be there?

“I think there’s a mainstream recognition now that organizations are better off with a diverse group of women at the top​ — and a focus on how to get more women in the pipeline and in power,” says Shipman. “But there’s also something inside of us that’s holding us back.”

Longtime friends Kay and Shipman realized over dinner one night that each struggled with the same problem of self-doubt. Kay, a news anchor for the BBC, has covered three presidential elections, the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and speaks several languages. And yet she spent her career convinced she wasn’t smart enough to compete for the top jobs. Shipman, a contributor to ABC and Good Morning America, had a habit of telling people she’d gotten “lucky” when she asked how she got into journalism. She began her career as a foreign correspondent at CNN, reporting from Moscow.

But the confidence problem wasn’t just limited to them. In two decades covering American politics, the two journalists had interviewed some of the most powerful women in the nation — lawmakers and CEOs, professional athletes, leaders of social movements. Time and again, they saw the same self-doubt: bright women with ideas afraid to raise their hands, speak up, ask for a raise or a promotion; that inexplicable feeling that they don’t own the right to rule at the top.

“If they are feeling all that,” the authors write, “imagine what it is like for the rest of us.”

What it’s like looks something like this.

When a professional endeavor goes wrong, women are more likely to blame themselves. Yet when something goes right, they credit circumstance – or other people – for their success. (Men do the opposite.)

Women are more likely than men to be perfectionists, holding themselves back from answering a question, applying for a new job, asking for a raise, until they’re absolutely 100 percent sure we can predict the outcome. (Women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. Men applied when they met 50 percent.)

Women are a quarter as likely as men to negotiate a raise. We doubt our opinions and begin our sentences with “I don’t know if this is right, but—.” We are more prone to “rumination” than men – which causes us to overthink and overanalyze. (Sound familiar?)

I was watching Hillary Clinton up on stage recently, at a conference for women. She was asked to give the younger generation career advice. “At this point in my career, I’ve employed so many young people,” Hillary began. “One of the differences is that when I say to a young woman, ‘I want you to take on this extra responsibility,” almost invariably she says, ‘Do you think I’m ready?’ But when I ask a man, he goes, ‘How high, how fast, when do I start?!’”

“Too many young women,” Clinton continued, “are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short.”

In other words, they lack confidence. And confidence, as the authors make clear, is as important to professional success as competence.

Now naturally, there are plenty of ways that women can gain confidence. And in fact, it’s not quite so simple as learning those skills. (In many cases, it’s the same qualities that make women good for business — they are more collaborative, for example — that holds them back from touting their accomplishments or taking credit.) We also need to address structural changes that hold women back — as, naturally, there’s only so much leaning in a person can do.

But perhaps the most useful aspect of all of this talk about confidence is recognizing that it’s a problem at all. Knowing that it’s there, that it’s backed by science, that it’s not just you – and then trying to correct for it.

“I think it’s important for women to recognize that it’s totally normal for us to feel nervous, particularly in situations in which we’re so often the only woman in the room,” says Kay. “That realization — for me, anyway — has helped me work to overcome it.”

 

Jessica Bennett is contributing columnist at Time.com covering the intersection of women, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer, she is also a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In. You can follow her @jess7bennett

Categories: Magazines

'Quadrophenia' Hits the Quad

RollingStone - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:10
This year marks not only the 50th anniversary of the Who but also the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Beach battle between mods and rockers immortalized in Quadrophenia To mark the occasion England's University of Sussex is holding a weekend-long symposium on both the album and the film from July...

Categories: Magazines

The Words Most Likely to Find You Online Dating Success

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:06

Is your online dating profile failing to attract “the one?” It may be because of the words you’re using, a new analysis from dating site PlentyOfFish reveals.

In the study, a team of PhD scientists analyzed the words used by the 1.2 million profiles on PlentyOfFish. According to the company, very clear trends arose amongst those who were successful in finding love and those who were still looking.

Those who have found love, unsurprisingly, use the word “love” the most in their profiles. Successful daters of both sexes frequently used the words “time,” “life,” “friend” and “music,” as well.

Men are more likely to find love using words in their online dating profile that suggest an interest in a long-term relationship. The words “heart,” “children,” “romantic” and “relationship” are all markers of a man most likely to see success in love. The advice holds true for women, as well: Women who found relationships used the word “relationship” 16% more often than those who are still single.

Those still looking for love tend to use words that describe shorter term activities, like “travel,” “dinner” and “shop” for women and “hang” and “humor” for men.

Want to learn more about saucing up your online dating profile? Check out this more detailed word analysis of successful OKCupid and Match.com profiles. Then be sure to read up on these online dating red flags so you know what – and who – to avoid online.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

Categories: Magazines

Heroic Corgi Defends Grass Against Menacing Goats

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:06

When a pair of goats clearly attempted to gang up on this poor innocent corgi, well, let’s just say she stood her ground and fought back.

Her name is Mini and she happens to be the same pooch who bravely took on a sour lemon candy a few months back. Look how far she’s come in such a short time! Then, she battled a tiny inanimate object, and now, she’s taking on two whole goats!

Be sure to watch 27 seconds in as the goats awkwardly maneuver their way out of an adirondack chair. Shortly afterwards, it becomes clear that this corgi is a formidable foe, stumpy legs and all.

Categories: Magazines

Americans Flunk Science—Again

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:59

Shhh! Listen! Hear that steady thumping? That’s the sound of scientists—particularly climate scientists—across the country pounding their heads against their desks. And at this point, that’s perfectly understandable, given a new poll released by Gallup concerning Americans’ beliefs about climate change.

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The United States breaks down into three camps on the question of whether the Earth is warming and human activities are playing a significant role, according to Gallup: 39% are “concerned believers,” 36% are part of the “mixed middle,” and 25% are “cool skeptics.” And the contrarian camp is growing: The 39% concerned believer figure is the same as it was in 2001; the mixed middle group has tumbled from 49% to 36%; and that 13% difference was completely gobbled up by the naysayers, who went from 12% to 25%.

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Worse, the “cool” part of the cool-skeptics rubric misstates the unanimity and intensity of their beliefs. When the respondents were asked more granular questions—exactly how much they worry about climate change; if they believe that the dangers are understated, overstated or are being fairly described; if they believe climate change poses a threat to their lives—the believers and the mixed group generally had a range of opinions, but the skeptics move in lockstep. Is climate change exaggerated? 100% say yes. Does it pose a serious threat? 100% say no. That’s the stuff of a Crimean referendum.

Look, for the 12 millionth time, nobody pretends that climate science has been completely figured out—there are plenty of holes in the models and unanswered questions. But what’s settled is that the Earth is warming, the climate is becoming dangerously volatile and human activity is a meaningful part of the cause. The mere fact that the deniers are flat wrong on this score doesn’t mean that the concerned believers are entirely correct. Fully 58% of them believe that the dangers of climate change have actually been understated—a hard case to make given some of the apocalyptic visions that come out of the louder factions of the green movement. But they’re a whole lot righter than the faction that wants to put its fingers in its ears, make a cheap and easy Al Gore joke and move on.

That, frankly, is as far as we need to go down the false equivalency road—the obligatory hedge that both sides play the misinformation game. The fact is, it’s conservatives (65% of the cool skeptic group), Republicans (80%) and men (66%) who are on the wrong side of the science, and there’s no mystery as to how we’ve gotten here. Global warming denial has become one of the core beliefs of conservative and Republican ideology, along with a handful of other positions including opposition to gun control legislation and tax increases and a near-fetishistic obsession with overturning the Affordable Care Act. If you want to play in the GOP poker game, those are the table stakes.

Tuesday’s Gallup poll comes just a day after an AP/GfK poll showing even higher rates of global warming skepticism—a dispiriting 40%. Another 51% of respondents question the Big Bang, and 15% doubt the safety and efficacy of vaccines. That last is a deadly figure—literally—because vaccination rates of up 95% are required to create the so-called herd immunity that protects entire communities. It doesn’t take much math to see the harm a 15% opt-out will do.

It ought to be a poor time to have such counterfactual beliefs. Just last month, a landmark study out of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics provided some of the strongest evidence yet for the Big Bang. Just this season, New York City and Columbus, Ohio are suffering from outbreaks of measles and mumps as increasing numbers of parents refuse vaccines for their kids. And just on Tuesday—Earth Day—an iceberg twice as big as Atlanta was calving away from Antarctica, one more dramatic step in the slow thaw of the planet’s ice cover.

There’s a lot of blame to go around for our stubbornly misinformed beliefs. All it takes is a know-nothing with a megaphone like Jenny McCarthy or oil-rich sugar daddies like the Koch brothers to spread nonsense about vaccines or global warming. But it’s facile to point the finger at them entirely. Yes, they’re peddling junk, but too many of us are still buying. Until we stop, they’ll never go away.

Categories: Magazines

Courteney Cox Dashes Hopes for a 'Friends' Reunion

RollingStone - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:50
Unfortunately the cast of Friends will not be there for you — Courteney Cox put a blunt end to any dreams of a possible reunion in the near future telling David Letterman on The Late Show Monday night "It's not gonna happen" Check Out Our List of 17 TV Shows that Lasted Way...

Categories: Magazines

What Americans Think About Birth Control Coverage

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:35

There’s debate over whether all health plans in the United States be required to cover the cost of birth control. An overwhelming majority of Americans—69%—say yes, according to a breaking survey published in the journal JAMA.

While this suggests the issue is less divisive than previously thought, it’s still a hot-button issue in the courts. In June, the Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision in the Hobby Lobby case, in which the owners of the arts-and-crafts chain, who are Southern Baptists, contend that their right to exercise religious freedom are infringed upon by the Affordable Care Act provision requiring them to guarantee no-cost birth control and emergency contraceptive coverage for their employees.

Although most Americans are in favor of the mandated birth control coverage—77% of women and 64% of men—it was the least agreed upon when compared with other health services under the ACA provision. Mandated coverage of preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies, vaccinations, mental health care, and dental care all had more support than mandatory contraceptive coverage, according to the JAMA poll. (Birth control coverage has the most support among women, and black and Hispanic respondents.)

The researchers hope their data can be used to inform the ongoing national debate over contraceptive coverage.

Categories: Magazines

Hear New Songs From Röyksopp and Robyn’s Do It Again EP

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:18

If fembots had feelings too, they’d probably melt down with excitement: Robyn and Norwegian production duo Röyksopp teased their highly anticipated Do It Again EP last week, and today you can hear two new songs from the upcoming release, which the artists are taking on the road this summer.

“Every Little Thing” employs an atmospheric string section, while “Do It Again” is a glimmering party-starter that quickly proves why it’s the five-song set’s title track. As soon as you hit play, you’ll want to do it again, and again, and again.

Categories: Magazines

Flashback: U2 Cover Neil Young's 'Southern Man' In 1987

RollingStone - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:10
When the four members of U2 first began gigging around Dublin as Feedback in 1976 they barely knew how to play their instruments let alone write original songs That meant their show was devoted entirely to the hits of the day which meant covering Peter Frampton the Bay City Rollers...

Categories: Magazines

America’s Middle Class Falls Behind

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:08

Once the juggernaut of the American economy and the envy of the world, the middle class has finally lost its position as the richest in the world, according to a new report.

The New York Times, citing an analysis of survey data going back 35, reports that the middle class in the United States has fallen behind Canada’s middle class. While economic growth in the U.S. is equal to or stronger than growth in other countries, those gains have gone almost exclusively to the wealthiest Americans. America’s middle class is still wealthier than corresponding demographics in Europe, but the gap has narrowed significantly in the last 10 years. Meanwhile, the poor in the U.S. are significantly worse off than their counterparts in Europe and Canada—a total reversal from 35 years ago.

Median income in the U.S., about $74,000 after taxes for a family of four, rose by 20% between 1980 and 2000 but has since remain mostly unchanged, according to the Times analysis. Median income in Canada, in contrast, rose by 20% between 2000 and 2010 alone.

“The idea that the median American has so much more income than the middle class in all other parts of the world is not true these days,” Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist not associated with the study, told the Times. “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer.”

The analysis blames the struggles of the middle class on stagnating education attainment, higher executive pay, lower minimum wage and weaker unions, among other factors.

[NYT]

Categories: Magazines

Watch: Video Goes Inside Apple’s Stunning New Headquarters

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:08

A video released Monday and posted on Gizmodo shows the most detailed view yet of Apple’s new corporate campus.

It’s pretty astonishing. Shaped like a perfectly rolled bagel slathered in shiny solar panels, the verdant campus will run on 100% renewable energy, according to Apple vice president Lisa Jackson. The goal is to build a campus that has no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. And it certainly looks like it descended from a distant future: 80% of the campus will be green space, and with large glass walls, open workspaces, and leafy swaths of forest outside.

The project’s legendary architect, Lord Norman Foster, claims in the video that the campus will ultimately redefine how people socialize and work. The 176-acre campus will house as many as 14,200 employees, Bloomberg reported in 2012, and the main circular building will total 2.8 million square feet.

The video is the first extensive look at the building since Steve Jobs presented the plan to the city of Cupertino in 2011. (That presentation, no surprise, is also pretty incredible.)

[Gizmodo]

Categories: Magazines

Inmates Train Dogs to Be Service Animals for Autistic Children

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:08

This week, KABC profiled a two-year-old program called Pathways To Hope in which inmates at the California Institute for Women in Chino, California, train dogs to be service animals for autistic children and people with special needs in general. The story below focuses on a four year old with Asperger’s syndrome who is finding it easier to communicate with others since getting a black labrador named Shasta that was trained by a woman serving a life sentence at the facility.

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In another video about the program produced this month by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), inmates are given a wheelchair to teach a cockapoo mix named Dusty how to pick up trash and retrieve socks from drawers for the dog’s new wheelchair-bound owner. As one of the female inmates said in the CDCR video, training dogs has made her realize, “I am worthy of getting better.”

The Colorado Correctional Industries has been doing a similar program since 2002. In January, the Denver Post profiled it, leading with an anecdote about a mother, Susy Tucker, whose autistic fifth grader Zachary hugged her for the first time after receiving Clyde, a chocolate labrador, trained by Christopher Vogt, a convicted murderer and inmate at Trinidad Correctional Facility. According to a follow-up story produced by ABC News last month, Zachary is less anxious and thus getting better grades, especially in math and science.

“Here’s a man that isn’t allowed any physical contact,” Susy Tucker told ABC News. “And yet [Mr. Vogt has] given my son the ability to hug and to care about other people.”

Categories: Magazines

There Is Now an App for Prostitution

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:06

The new app, Peppr, is similar to a dating site, but it’s for connecting prostitutes to clients.

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In 2002, Germany legalized prostitution, and the industry there has expanded dramatically since then. Some estimates put the number of prostitutes in Germany at about 400,000, many of whom are foreign nationals from economically stressed parts of Europe like Bulgaria and Romania. According to the Telegraph, the country’s sex industry is worth 15 billion euros a year, and several 12-story mega brothels have opened. Two years after prostitution became legal, the industry was thought to be worth 6 billion euros, now it’s 15 billion.

And now a start-up based out of Berlin has launched an app called Peppr which bills itself as the ““first mobile Web-app for booking erotic entertainment.” A prospective client simply lists their location, acknowledges they are at least 18 years old, selects a gender of choice, and they’re presented with photos and profiles of potential men or women offering to have sex for a fee. Prostitutes set up their profiles for free and clients pay 5 to 10 euros for booking. Clients can browse the prostitutes based on services they want as well as the body type they desire.

In an interview with the German newspaper, The Local, co-founder Pia Poppenreiter said the idea came to her when she was walking through the red light district at night. “I was walking down Oranienburger Strasse – I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth – it was chilly and I saw the poor girls on the streets, and I thought, why isn’t there an app? It’s not efficient to wait outside,” she told the paper. Poppenreiter thinks the app will “revolutionize the image of sex work” and make it appear less “shabby.”

Poppenreiter says her company talks to the prospective prostitutes over the phone to try to determine if they are signing up voluntarily, or by force, but that’s notoriously tough to verify. Sex trafficking and coerced prostitution have become a growing concern for European nations in which prostitution is legal like Germany where the business has grown so much that the prices are falling even as demand rises for additional workers.

The official number of trafficking victims in Europe is about 23,000, according to a 2013 European Union report, but because sex trafficking is so difficult to trace, the European Commission estimates that the official number doesn’t come close to documenting what they believe are hundreds of thousands trafficked men, women and children in Europe, most of whom come from Eastern European nations recently admitted to the Union. The E.U. study found that human trafficking increased by 18 percent between 2008 and 2010 while the number of convictions for the crime fell by 13 percent. About 62% of all those trafficked are exploited for sexual purposes, according to E.C. data, and 68% of sex trafficking victims were women, 17% men, 12% girls and 3% boys.

MORE: Germany: The Cut-Rate Prostitution Capital of Europe

Categories: Magazines

President Obama Will Survey Mudslide Damage 1 Month After Tragedy

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:01

President Barack Obama is en route Tuesday to survey the damage caused by a deadly mudslide that claimed more than 40 lives last month in Oso, Wash.

Obama is due to deliver remarks after meeting with search crews, victims’ families and others involved in the recovery effort before leaving on a four-country tour of Asia.

The disaster has officially claimed 41 lives and more than two dozen homes. Search crews have been digging through 70-foot-deep mud littered with debris in a search for the two people who remain missing.

Categories: Magazines

REVIEW: Young & Beautiful: I Was a Teenage Hooker (in Paris)

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:00

In a Paris schoolroom, modern teenagers recite snippets from Rimbaud’s “No One’s Serious at Seventeen.” One of these students, Isabelle Bontale (Marine Vacth), fills her evenings with more than homework and dreams of the boy in the back row. After a summer by the sea, during which she allowed a German boy to take her virginity, Isabelle has turned her blooming sexuality into a business enterprise: freelance prostitution. Earning 300 to 500 Euros for each hotel assignation, she goes by the name Léa and gives her age as 20. She’s 17.

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At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, François Ozon’s Young & Beautiful ceded the limelight to another French entry about a teenage girl’s sexual adventures, Blue Is the Warmest Color, which took the Palme d’Or and earned both critical acclaim and popular notoriety for its energetic scenes of lesbian love. At about half the length and a lower dramatic temperature, Young & Beautiful is sexually charged but not prurient, the character study of a person at her most mysterious age, as she navigates from girlhood to womanhood.

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(READ: When Blue Is the Warmest Color triumphed at Cannes)

In outline, Young & Beautiful (Jeune & Jolie, which literally translates as “young and pretty”) appears sensational: I Was a Teenage Call Girl. Yet the tone of the film is tender and judicious. It pins no blame on society, school, the girl’s clients or her parents. Isabelle treats her concerned mother (Geraldine Pailhas) and amiable stepfather (Frédéric Pierrot) the way any teen might: as the security guards of an enemy state who deserve little communication and no straight answers. In fact, they are the innocents, she the daredevil spy with a dirty secret.

She is closer to her sweet younger brother Victor (Fantin Ravat), who watches her sunbathe nude or masturbate in her bedroom. Yet he also is ignorant of her exotic, potentially dangerous career. So is everyone else; Isabelle has a facility for compartmentalizing her activities. That first night, as she lay on the beach with the German boy, another Isabelle stood nearby watching, appraising, detached.

Why does she choose this line of work? That’s for the spectator to speculate. “This young woman is a mystery to me, too,” Ozon has said. “I’m not ahead of her, I’m simply following her, like an entomologist gradually falling in love with the creature he’s studying.” But a key can be found in Ozon’s previous film, In the House, in which a 16-year-old schoolboy devised an elaborate, largely fictional world both to amuse himself and to confound his teacher. The director suggests that Isabelle wants to create a double life that is even more eventful and reckless, and potentially perilous.

(READ: Richard Corliss’s review of François Ozon’s In the House)

“It was like a game,” she tells the psychiatrist (Serge Hefez) she is obliged to consult. “I didn’t feel much during it. But when I thought about it at home, or at school, I wanted to do it again.” She may be drawn to her more considerate clients, like the elderly Georges (Johan Leysen). Even when taking orders of submission from sadistic creeps, Isabelle is in charge. Armored in self-confidence, she needs no pimp to protect her. Her choice of profession is not about the sex. It’s about the power.

Set in today’s Paris, Young & Beautiful takes several cues from 1960s French popular culture. Isabelle has a cinema forebear in Catherine Deneuve’s character — a loving wife who becomes a prostitute to act out her sexual fantasies — in Luis Buñuel’s Belle du jour (1967). Vacth resembles Deneuve in her cool, unyielding beauty. She could also be a twin sister to Françoise Hardy, the singer and model of the ’60s; four Hardy songs accompany the four seasons in which the film is set. Hardy’s songs are about the pains of first love; Young & Beautiful is about the business of post-love.

Ozon’s early films focused on young women manipulating their elders: Water Drops on Burning Rocks, 8 Women and Swimming Pool, all with Ludivine Sagnier as their driving sexual force (Sagnier’s Swimming Pool costar, Charlotte Rampling, makes a welcome, poignant appearance late in Young & Beautiful.) Ozon has said that In the House reminded him of his pleasure directing young actors. Vacth, 23, is a few years older than her character, but she can pass for Isabelle at a mature and adventurous 17.

(READ: Mary Corliss on François Ozon’s Potiche)

Her blue eyes shining above a field of freckles, Vacth suggests a classical statue with some subtle internal bruising. Possessing a seductive, covert intelligence, the actress may not let viewers in on Isabelle’s motives, but she does suggest that something is going on. Audiences should be pleased to go with her, not knowing the destination but happy to take the trip.

Categories: Magazines

California Bill Banning ‘Affluenza’ Defense Is Nixed

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 14:52

California lawmakers on Tuesday killed legislation that would ban the use of the so-called “affluenza” defense, stopping what would have been the first such ban in the nation.

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State Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced the bill after a wealthy Texas teenager was given only probation last year for killing four people and injuring others in a drunk driving accident. His lawyers successfully argued that he had been so coddled by his affluent parents that he couldn’t be expected to appreciate the rules of law or the consequences of his actions. The sentence sparked outrage, seen by many as an obscene example of privilege begetting privilege and inequity in the justice system.

“In our justice system, people who have means already have advantages,” Gatto said in introducing the bill before a legislative committee. “They have access to the better lawyers, they have access to better relationships and they know how the system works. And the idea of a defendant saying that a life of privilege and an upbringing of means somehow makes that defendant absolve him or herself of personal responsibility for a heinous act really is insulting to the intelligence of just about everybody who interacts with the justice system, and those of use who care about making sure that justice system is blind.”

Gatto’s bill originally defined the notion of “affluenza” as the argument that a “defendant may not have understood the consequences of his or her actions because he or she was raised in an affluent or overly permissive household.” One issue raised by other lawmakers on the committee was the use of the phrase “overly permissive,” which some worried could apply to poor children with absentee parents as much as a rich kid who got to do whatever he wanted.

Opponents of the bill, though sympathetic to its intent, argued that it’s generally not a good idea to put limitations on legal defenses; that the bill presumed a jury couldn’t determine on its own the worth of a defense; and that such restrictions may prevent certain facts from coming forward during a trial.

Gatto also refused to accept an amendment supported by the chair of the committee, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who wanted to build exceptions and affirmations of Constitutional protections into the bill. “We are trying to prohibit the affluenza defense,” Gatto said, adding that he had “real heartburn” about writing “into the statute all the times where the defense could be used.”

Before voting against the bill, Ammiano, a Democrat, said he would have preferred Gatto accept the amendments offered by the committee. The two Republicans on the committee voted to support the bill, and the rest of the members, all Democrats, abstained. Those abstentions essentially counting as nay votes, the measure failed. The ban would have prohibited the use of affluenza as a defense or a mitigating factor in sentencing. Gatto, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, has said that while the high-profile case happened in Texas, he was attempting to be “proactive” in California.

In June 2013, Texas teenager Ethan Couch stole beer from Wal-Mart, drank enough for his blood-alcohol content to be three times the legal limit, got in his pickup truck, lost control and sped it into a group of people who were helping a woman with a stalled car on the side of the road near Forth Worth, Texas. Four people died. Others, including many crammed into his vehicle, were injured. Thanks in part to a psychologist who argued that Couch’s wealth was so extreme he couldn’t separate right from wrong, the then-16-year-old was given 10 years probation and ordered to rehab for the intoxication manslaughter and assault charges. In February, Judge Jean Boyd reaffirmed that sentence in a private hearing, denying prosecutors’ second request for 20 years in prison.

At the end of the committee hearing Tuesday, the possibility of “reconsideration” was raised, meaning Gatto might bring his bill before the committee again at another time. But that would likely require a compromise that lawmakers did not appear ready to make on Tuesday.

Categories: Magazines

AT&T’s $500 Million Plan to Crush Netflix and Hulu

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 14:46

AT&T announced Tuesday that it is forming a new online video business with the entertainment company The Chernin Group. The new initiative will place AT&T in direct competition with premium online video services such as Netflix and Hulu.

The venture will include multiple video services that use both subscription-based and ad-supported monetization models, according to a company release. The Chernin Group, started by longtime News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, will contribute its majority stake in anime streaming website Crunchyroll to the new venture. (News Corp. is one of Hulu’s owners.)

AT&T will enter a crowded market that includes not only Hulu and Netflix, but also Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service and Google’s YouTube platform. Yahoo is also reportedly prepping a Netflix rival, and Microsoft is developing several original shows for its Xbox console. The new AT&T venture will be more similar to Netflix and other online video services than the Internet-based cable competitors being developed by Verizon and Sony, an AT&T representative told Variety.

Further financial details and release timing for specific video services were not disclosed; The release pegged the companies’ investment in the venture at $500 million.

[Variety]

Categories: Magazines

Bryan Singer’s Accuser Names 3 Other Entertainment Heads in Lawsuit

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 14:44

What started as a lawsuit against one well-renowned director has turned into allegations against several other top Hollywood figures.

Michael Egan, 31, accused X-Men director Bryan Singer last week of sexually abusing him 15 years ago while Egan was an aspiring teen actor, according to court papers filed in Hawaii.

Egan has since filed new federal lawsuits against former Fox television executive Garth Ancier, theater producer Gary Wayne Goddard and former television executive David A. Neuman. Egan’s lawsuits accuse the three men of engaging in inappropriate behavior with Egan in the 1990s.

Singer has denied Egan’s allegations, while Ancier, Goddard and Neuman have not yet responded to the new suit. None of the men have been criminally charged and the statute of limitations for charges has passed.

 

Categories: Magazines

Lily Allen Wants the Crown on “Sheezus”: Listen

Time - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 14:43

Lily Allen’s upcoming album, Sheezus, might poke fun at Kanye West, but on the recently premiered title track, she turns her attention to another crop of royals: Lorde, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga don’t just get name-checked on “Sheezus” — Allen’s search-engine-optimized opinions of her pop-star peers make up the song’s entire hook. At first, the “Hard Out Here” singer doesn’t exactly sound like she’s full of praise (except for Lorde, who’s “about to slay you”), but listen closely — this is no diss track. If anything, Allen wants her ladies to unite in bringing their A-game: “Second best will never cut it for the divas / Give me that crown, bitch / I wanna be Sheezus.”

As Allen hinted in interviews, the downtempo song — which she says, to her dismay, was too slow to be a single contender — has her casually riffing on menstruation (something you don’t hear on the radio everyday) and repeating the word “period” like she was Beyoncé on “Drunk in Love.”

Is #period the new #serfbort? Probably not. Is Allen about to go all Game of Thrones on her competition? Judging by early previews of Sheezus, the answer is yes.

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