2:24pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Movies

Hollywood Heights: The Ups, Downs And In-Betweens

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise at the Writer's Guild Awards in Beverly Hills in 1998.
Ron Wolfson Landov

Hollywood can make any actor look imposing by shooting from a low angle or building sets with short door frames. But the fact is that we want our heroes big and our villains bigger, and the average male actor is about the same size as the average American male — roughly 5 foot 9 1/2. And some very "big" stars have been a good deal less than that.

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2:24pm

Fri December 7, 2012
U.S.

School District Owes $1 Billion On $100 Million Loan

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:10 pm

Students leave Miramonte Elementary, in the Clovis Unified School District in Los Angeles. School districts across California have taken out loans requiring payments that far exceed the original loan amounts.
Damian Dovarganes AP

More than 200 school districts across California are taking a second look at the high price of the debt they've taken on using risky financial arrangements. Collectively, the districts have borrowed billions in loans that defer payments for years — leaving many districts owing far more than they borrowed.

In 2010, officials at the West Contra Costa School District, just east of San Francisco, were in a bind. The district needed $2.5 million to help secure a federally subsidized $25 million loan to build a badly needed elementary school.

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2:15pm

Fri December 7, 2012
The Two-Way

Winning Ticket Submitted For Second Half Of Powerball Jackpot

The remaining winner of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot has come forward to claim their share of the prize, according to lottery officials in Arizona, where the winning ticket was sold, according to ABC 15 TV in Phoenix.

The Nov. 28 drawing produced two winning tickets: one in Arizona, and one in Missouri, where Cindy and Mark Hill have already claimed their share of the prize.

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1:52pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Shots - Health News

Unusually Early Flu Season Intensifies

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 2:07 pm

The number of states experiencing widespread flu doubled in the past week.
CDC

This year's unusually early flu season is continuing to intensify, federal health officials say.

The number of states now reporting widespread flu activity doubled to eight in the past week, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's.

Last week Alaska, Mississippi, New York and South Carolina were reporting widespread flu. Now, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island have joined the list.

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1:51pm

Fri December 7, 2012
The Two-Way

Supreme Court Will Review Two Gay Marriage Cases In 2013

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 6:05 pm

Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., holds a gay marriage pride flag in front of the Supreme Court Nov. 30, 2012. The court says it will review two cases related to same-sex marriage in 2013.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The Supreme Court has decided to take up cases involving California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, and a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The justices' rulings on the cases are likely to be announced next June, after arguments are heard in the spring. Advocates on both sides of the issue were welcoming the news.

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1:14pm

Fri December 7, 2012
News

Black, Latino Groups: It's Our Turn, Mr. President

The National Urban League's Marc Morial (center) joins other civic leaders speaking outside the White House after they met with President Obama last month.
Toby Jorrin AFP/Getty Images

After African-American and Latino voters turned out in record numbers to reelect President Obama, leaders for both groups are turning up the pressure on him to return the favor.

They say that minorities, who put aside their disappointments with Obama's first term to support him again, now expect the president to spend his political capital on policies that will help their communities begin to recover from the recession. In the post-election euphoria, some leaders claim, certain voters are saying, "It's our turn."

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1:06pm

Fri December 7, 2012
The Two-Way

'Jet' Magazine Features Its First Gay Male Couple

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 1:51 pm

Photo from Jet's wedding section.
Via GLAAD

Many African-Americans are buzzing about the latest edition of Jet magazine, which for the first time features a gay male couple in its popular section for wedding announcements.

The magazine's Dec. 10 issue display of Ravi Perry and Paris Prince, who held their wedding ceremony in their backyard in Worcester, Mass., is being praised by LGBT activists and some readers as a societal breakthrough given the magazine's reputation for reflecting traditional black cultural mores for 61 years.

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12:54pm

Fri December 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Most Expensive Presidential Campaign Ended In Sprint To Spend

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 2:07 pm

Competing yard signs near Evans City, Pa., four days before the election. The campaigns of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each raised more than $1 billion during the race.
Keith Srakocic AP

A campaign marked by money, fundraisers (including the infamous one that produced Mitt Romney's "47 percent" moment) and superPACs finished with spending sprees across the board.

The Washington Post noted "manic activity" in the final days of the presidential race, and sums up the numbers:

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12:48pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Best Books Of 2012

A Wintry Mix: Alan Cheuse Selects The Season's Best

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:50 pm

Nishant Choksi

It's that time of year again — the leaves have fallen, the dark comes early, the air brings with it a certain chill — and I've been piling up books on my reading table, books I've culled from the offerings of the past few months, which because of their essential lyric beauty and power stand as special gifts for you and yours.

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12:42pm

Fri December 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Who's Behind The Fiscal Cliff Lobbying Effort?

As the White House and Congress continue to wrangle over a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and its billions in automatic spending cuts and tax increases, we wanted to take a look at who is spending big to influence the debate behind the scenes.

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