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Updated: 32 min 10 sec ago

'Saturday Night Live' Takes A Very Important First Step

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 9:06am

The hiring of the fifth black woman to join the cast of Saturday Night Live in its 38-year history is a fine first step, but it's the follow-up that's going to count.

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The 'Pussy Riot' Arrests, And The Crackdown That Followed

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 8:53am

According to Russian journalist Masha Gessen, the 2012 arrests were the start of a campaign by Vladimir Putin and his supporters against government critics. Gessen, who is also an LGBT rights advocate, recently moved to New York with her partner and their children in response to the anti-gay laws Russia passed in June.

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Leftover Liquor Finds New Life As Liqueur

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 7:05am

Take out the idling bottles of spirits in your home bar and make something exciting. There's no distilling or science involved — just fresh fruits, spices, herbs and more, plus ample alcohol and a bit of time for infusing.

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Book News: Biography Is Unflattering Portrait Of Fox's Roger Ailes

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 6:28am

Also: Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new memoir is critical of the Obama White House; The Morning News' annual Tournament of Books announces its contestants; a new short story from Nicole Krauss.

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Jan. 5-11: A Beer Empire, A Habit Explainer And A New Kind Of Warfare

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 6:00am

In softcover nonfiction, William Knoedelseder looks at the family behind Budweiser, Charles Duhigg delves into the science of habit, Fred Kaplan explores an Army revolution and Whole Foods' founder argues for businesses pursuing a higher purpose. In fiction, George Saunders delivers a collection of fantastical stories.

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A Cheesy Meltdown: Kraft Warns Of Velveeta Shortage

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 5:02am

Kraft confirms that shortages are in store of its creamy processed cheese — a popular concoction when served with salsa on a nacho chip or two. One reason? Seasonal demand — in other words, it's Super Bowl time.

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Think You're Cold And Hungry? Try Eating In Antarctica

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 6:21pm

The polar vortex putting much of the U.S. in a deep freeze may have you reaching for the comfort cookies. But in Antarctica — where the coldest temperatures on Earth have been recorded — 5,000 calories a day isn't a bad idea. One thing the continent's history teaches us: When life is stripped down to man versus the most brutal elements, bring plenty of snacks.

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Top Diets of 2014: Hint, It's Probably Not What You Think

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 6:05pm

Of 32 diets ranked by a panel convened by U.S. News & World Report, the DASH diet came out on top. Never heard of it? It's not a buzz word, but it's been around for a long time, and there's solid evidence that it works, not just for weight control but also to lower high blood pressure.

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Sherlock's Expiring Copyright: It's Public Domain, Dear Watson

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 4:24pm

The famous sleuth has discovered that U.S copyright law is anything but elementary. A federal judge recently ruled that elements of the Sherlock Holmes characters are now both licensed property of the Doyle estate and in the public domain. The Doyle estate plans to appeal the decision.

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A Hong Kong Film Titan, With A Reach Well Beyond His Roots

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 12:20pm

The Hong Kong entertainment magnate and philanthropist Run Run Shaw, who died today at 106 or 107, isn't that well known in the West. But his fans, from Quentin Tarantino to the Wu-Tang Clan, sure are.

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'Leaving The Sea,' Arriving At A Constant State Of Anxiety

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 10:03am

Ben Marcus' new book Leaving The Sea is an experimental and challenging collection of stories. Reviewer J. P. O'Malley says there's not much of a through-line to the stories, but that it doesn't matter: "If you enjoy writers like Samuel Beckett," he writes, "I'm sure you will love this collection."

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'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 8:54am

In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."

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Book News: Scores Of Books Burned In Lebanese Library Torching

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 6:22am

Also: Zola Books has bought Bookish; Gary Shteyngart goes on a walking tour of Queens, N.Y., for The Wall Street Journal; Costa Book Awards are announced.

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CIA Lawyer: Waterboarding Wasn't Torture Then, And Isn't Torture Now

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 1:58am

John Rizzo, who guided the CIA through more than three decades of crisis and controversy, has written a new memoir called Company Man. He talks with NPR's Renee Montagne about the origins of the infamous "enhanced interrogation techniques" that emerged after Sept. 11.

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In Gaming, A Shift From Enemies To Emotions

Tue, 01/07/2014 - 1:57am

Many of these "empathy games" focus on smaller, more personal stories about everyday people. Today's developers grew up with the medium, says one designer. For them, it's "natural to consider that you can have a game about anything."

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Sandwich Monday: The Ignatius R

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 2:54pm

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we brave the record-breakingly cold streets of Chicago to try the Ignatius R, a record-breakingly enormous sandwich from Jerry's Sandwiches. It's a potato bun wrapped around pretty much everything you can imagine.

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Looks Like The Paleo Diet Wasn't So Hot For Ancient Hunters' Teeth

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 2:22pm

When hunter-gatherers started adding grains and starches to their diet, it brought about the "age of cavities." At least, that's what a lot of people thought. But it turns out that even before agriculture, what hunter-gatherers ate could rot their teeth.

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'Downton' Returns, And It's As Rich As Ever

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 12:16pm

Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television. And when the whole of the TV universe is fragmenting, that isn't just impressive — it's almost impossible. Critic David Bianculli ponders the hit show's unlikely success.

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From 'Cinema Paradiso' Director, An Offbeat 'Offer'

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 10:20am

Guiseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) turns in an English-language romance-cum-mystery about an art auctioneer (Geoffrey Rush) obsessed with a young heiress and collector (Sylvia Hoeks). With Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland.

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The Unreal 'Her'

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 9:44am

The reality and unreality of women takes center stage in the Spike Jonze film about love, technology, and whether feelings of love are the same thing as love itself.

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