Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mormon Leader Outlines Opposition to Gay Marriage

Mormon Leader Outlines Opposition to Gay Marriage

Mormon Leader Outlines Opposition to Gay Marriage

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 11:01 AM PDT

(SALT LAKE CITY) — A Mormon leader is reiterating the church’s opposition to gay marriage.

Neil L. Andersen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve said Saturday during the church’s biannual general conference that changing definitions of marriage by governments doesn’t change the Lord’s guidance.

Andersen said God defined marriage as between a man and woman and designed it not just for the personal satisfaction of adults, but to create the ideal setting for children to be nurtured.

The church’s message on homosexuality has softened in recent years, but this marks the second consecutive conference in which leaders have talked about their opposition to gay marriage.

Utah’s same-sex marriage ban was overturned by a federal judge in December. The state has an appeal pending before a federal appeals court.

Atlanta Archbishop to Sell $2.2 Million Mansion

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 10:18 AM PDT

(SMYRNA, Ga.) — The archbishop of Atlanta says he has decided to sell his $2.2 million residence following a storm of criticism from parishioners.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory said Saturday that he will leave the Tudor-style residence in the exclusive Buckhead neighborhood in early May.

The church leader earlier this week apologized for building the mansion. He announced his decision after meeting Saturday with clergy and lay people from within his archdiocese.

Local Catholics have faulted Gregory for the opulent spending, citing the example of austerity set by Pope Francis.

Gregory moved into the residence in January after selling his old home to Christ The King Cathedral for $1.9 million. The cathedral plans to move its priests into the archbishop’s former residence, freeing up space on its campus.

Japan Vows To Strike Any North Korean Missiles It Deems A Threat

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 10:12 AM PDT

Japan dispatched a destroyer after warning North Korea Thursday it would strike any ballistic missile launched by Pyongyang that it deemed a threat.

Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera issued the order, which took effect on Thursday and runs through April 25, a government source told Reuters, and dispatched a destroyer to the Sea of Japan that will fire if Pyongyang launches a missile believes may fall on Japanese territory.

The order comes after North Korea launched medium-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, prompting a retaliatory strikes by South Korea also into the sea. North Korea fired the two Rodong missiles on March 26 in an apparent show of defiance just as the United States, South Korea and Japan began discussions on how to contain North Korea’s nuclear threats.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is visting Japan, said Saturday the U.S. was standing firmly by its mutual defense agreement with its ally, the Associated Press reports. There is no "weakness on the part of the United States as to our complete and absolute commitment to the security of Japan," Hagel said.


The Only Final Four Drinking Game You’ll Need Tonight

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 08:31 AM PDT

Final Four parties are super fun. The games are played on a Saturday night, so unlike, say, parties for the Super Bowl, you don’t have to worry about work in the morning. And they’re also a celebration of something more: the best few weeks of the sports calendar. College hoops is about to crown a champ, baseball’s getting into the swing of things, the Masters is coming up, the NBA playoffs are approaching, the NFL Draft is in the foreseeable future. It’s a good time to be a sport fan, tax season be damned.

So, to help prep for today’s big games — Florida vs. UConn at 6:09pm EST, and Wisconsin vs. Kentucky at 8:49pm, both on TBS — and celebrate your good sports fortune, TIME presents its inaugural Final Four drinking game. Enjoy, but please do so responsibly. Obey all local drinking age laws, don’t overindulge and take a cab ride home if need be.

Here are TIME’s rules for a Final Four drinking game:

1. The first time Florida’s Michael Frazier makes a three-point shot, imbibe. It shouldn’t take that long: Frazier can catch fire quickly. Against South Carolina in early March, Frazier sank a school-record 11 three-pointers: this season, he led the SEC in three-point percentage field goal percentage, shooting at a 44.7% clip. He also led the SEC in an even more important stat, true-shooting percentage, at 65.1% (true-shooting percentage is an efficiency measure that takes into account three-point field goals, two-point field goals, and foul shots). Frazier models his work ethic after Ray Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers: on game days, he’ll launch upwards of 400 shots to get in rhythm.

2. Every time you hear the word “student-athlete” in an NCAA commercial during the games, drink. The NCAA has a habit of running propaganda ads during big events, touting how the organization is like a spirit squad for “student-athletes,” has the backs of “student-athletes,” etc. Drink now, cause that term may soon be disappearing. According to the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, “employees” is the more appropriate name for college athletes — at least for football players at Northwestern.

3. Every time UConn star Shabazz Napier makes an outside shot with a defender harassing him — the kind of shot that makes you say “noooo, what are you doing?” – and that shot goes in anyway, chug away. Napier’s an expert at making the “holy s–t” shot.

4. Choose which mascot TBS will show first in each game. Pick one, and drink if you’re correct. I’ve got Albert E. Gator and Bucky Badger.

5. The first time an announcer mentions that UConn coach Kevin Ollie played for 11 different NBA teams during his 13-year career, start double fisting.

6. For CBS, the Final Four has traditionally served as one big promo for its upcoming coverage of the Masters, which starts next week, on April 10. So even though the games are being broadcast on TBS this year, the networks are partners on NCAA tournament coverage. You’ll surely hear the soothing Masters piano – “ding, ding, ding, ding,” — that accompanies the Masters plugs. So each time you hear the Masters theme song, dream of azaleas and Amen Corner and all the mythical beauty of the Augusta National, and take a few soft sips. You’ll have a healthy buzz.

7. Sip every time TBS shows Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan scowling on the sideline. Like this. Or this. Ryan’s always been a first-class all-tournament scowler.

8. Kentucky has reached the Final Four with five freshman starters. Michigan, led by Chris Webber and Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard, was the last team to win this much with five rookies, back in 1992. That Michigan team was christened “The Fab Five.” So during Kentucky-Wisconsin, the first time you hear a “Fab Five” reference from one of the announcers, you know what to do.

9. Ever since the NBA set a rule in 2005 essentially mandating that players spend a year playing college ball before entering the pros, Kentucky coach John Calipari has done a better job than any coach in the country of recruiting a collection of talented freshmen, molding them in to a championship-caliber team, and shuttling them to the NBA. So the term “one-and-done” is now stuck to Calipari’s suit. When the TV cameras show Calipari, and someone says the words “one-and-done,” you will drink.

10. Wisconsin’s most intriguing player is seven-footer Frank Kaminsky. His game, and personality, are a little quirky: Kaminsky can fool you with his awkwardness, as he’s just as comfortable firing threes as he is posting up around the basket. And he was always a bit of a class clown, earning the nickname “Frank the Tank” a decade ago, in homage to Will Ferrell’s character in the movie Old School. So when someone mentions “Frank the Tank” on Saturday, you may have to pull a Frank the Tank yourself.

But seriously, be careful. Don’t end the night like the original Frank the Tank did. Because on Final Four Saturday, you don’t want to miss the drama. If we’re lucky, Florida-UConn and Wisconsin-Kentucky will treat us to two classics. Let’s all raise our glasses to that.

Twitter Will Blow Up Your Feed With 15 Kinds Of Ads

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 08:15 AM PDT

Your Twitter feed will return after these brief messages.

The Twitter is adding a slew of new advertising types in an effort to attract e-commerce companies and mobile-game developers and boost its ad revenue, the Wall Street Journal reports. The social media platform will begin releasing 15 types of new advertising products over the next six months that will encourage users to download apps through Twitter.

The strategy will follow Facebook’s approach to mobile advertising apps which include an “install now” or “shop now” button on their ads.

Twitter’s advertising revenue more than doubled in the fourth quarter to $219.6 million, compared with the same period last year, but the company has yet to turn a profit.


Afghanistan Goes To The Polls

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 08:07 AM PDT

Fort Hood Shooter Wasn’t In ‘Right Mind’, Father Says

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 07:48 AM PDT

The father of Spc. Ivan Lopez said Friday his son must have been out of his mind to go on a rampage at Fort Hood, killing three soldiers before shooting himself.

“This situation has caused great pain,” Ivan Lopez Sr. said in a statement. “I ask for prayers for the affected families, even more so when there is still an ongoing investigation. My son must not have been in his right mind. He wasn’t like that.”

The statement said Lopez—who lives in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico—is still in shock, and described his son as a “calm family man.”

Spc. Ivan Lopez opened fire Wednesday at several locations across the central Texas army base, reportedly after a heated argument with other soldiers over the denial of family leave. Sixteen soldiers were wounded in the attack, 10 of whom have since been released from hospital and returned to duty.

Lopez, who was being treated for anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance and a variety of other issues mental issues, bought the .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun used in the murders at a local gun store March 1.

[USA Today]

Pakistani Cops Book 9-Month-Old on Attempted Murder Charge

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 07:18 AM PDT

A 9-month-old child was reportedly hauled into a Pakistani court, fingerprinted and booked on attempted murder charges after his family members were accused of throwing bricks at the police collecting an unpaid gas bill.

Police officers arrived at a family home February 1 to collect payment for a gas bill, Pakistani police said, leading to a scuffle during which the the baby’s father, one of his teenage sons and others in the residence severely injured some of the officials by throwing bricks, CNN reports.

The police then charged family members with stoning and attempted murder. The child appeared in court Wednesday in Lahore and was booked as his grandfather held him. “The police filed a wrong, false arrest charge sheet and brought this innocent 9-month old into this court room for an appearance,” the family’s lawyer Irfan Tarar told CNN affiliate GEO News.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the suspension of a Pakistani police official for registering the boy’s case.


Five Things We’ve Learned in Five Years of Box Office Reports

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Five years ago this week, launched its Box Office Report column. Each Sunday, or Monday on holiday weekends, I’ve laden readers with stats and analysis on the business of show: the winners, losers and trends of new movies. The occasion of this anniversary (for which, hint, the traditional gift is wood) got me to wondering what’s changed in the film industry over the past half-decade. It turns out: lots.

Here are five things we learned over the past five years of Box Office Reports:

1. America doesn’t matter. In 2009, according to a new study by the Motion Picture Association of America, customers in North America spent $10.6 billion on movie tickets, compared to 36% of the foreign market ($18.8 billion). Last year, domestic revenue was up a bit, to $10.9 billion, but the international tally had risen to $25 billion; so only 30% of worldwide ticket sales were from the U.S. and Canada. Business over the past five years has been stagnant here but up one-third in the rest of the world. The region the MPAA calls EMEA — Europe, the Middle East and Africa — accounted for $10.9 billion in 2013, the same as North America, while the biggest growth came from Asia Pacific: up from $7.2 billion to $11.1 billion. Japan brought in $2.4 billion, India $1.5 billion and China a celestial $3.6 billion. That China bonanza, an increase of 27% over 2012, is as much as last year’s top dozen movies earned in North America.

(READ:’s first Box Office Report)

Most blockbusters register about two-thirds of their worldwide take internationally, and some much more. The last two Ice Age animated features, only moderate hits at home, amassed 80% of their global gross abroad. Foreign audiences go for action movies, even for ones Americans reject. Last month’s racecar drama Need for Speed has earned less than $40 million here but $130 million (or 77% of its total gross) in foreign markets. The monster-bot movie Pacific Rim struggled to reach $100 million in North America last summer; yet it made more than that ($111.9 million) in China alone.

Recognizing the huge offshore potential, some smart producers have tailored their pictures to the tastes of foreign fans. Marvel’s Avengers movies (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and, for that matter, the smash that was The Avengers) had never earned as much as 60% of their money overseas. So for Iron Man Three, director Joss Whedon shot separate scenes featuring Chinese stars for the Mandarin-language version. The result: IM3 earned $135 million in China and Hong Kong. Its $806.4-million foreign revenue represented a healthy 66% of the movie’s $1.2-billion worldwide gross.

2. Women do matter. For decades, Hollywood has trusted one narrow demographic — young males — to subsidize its big-budget productions. In fact, the gender split in the domestic audience is 50-50: women attend as many movies as men do. The studios must have figured that the few femme-angled blockbusters (like Mamma Mia!, which earned $610 million worldwide in 2008) were flukes, and that, in the absence of “women’s pictures,” the gals would go to movies made for guys. Statistics seemed to bear out that prejudice: Of the 12 top-grossing films of 2011, only one — The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 — boasted a leading character who was female.

Credit the Twilight success, which spurred other gynocentric franchises based on Young Adult novels, and the skew of girl-power animated features for the return of that beleaguered majority — women — to movie marquees. In 2012 The Hunger Games, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Pixar’s Brave were among the year’s top eight films. And last year three of the top six had female protagonists: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen and Gravity — all released in Oct. or Nov., outside the usual blockbuster summer season. Indeed, Catching Fire, with Jennifer Lawrence in the lead, became the first top-grossing film of any year since 1965 (Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music) with a woman in the primary, starring role.

(READ: Jennifer Lawrence’s Silver Lining Yearbook)

Three other residents of last year’s top 10 (Despicable Me 2, Monsters University and Oz the Great and Powerful) attracted strong majorities of female viewers. Now Hollywood has to think of new femme heroines — as long as she’s a warrior, a princess or a lonely space traveler.

3. So do kids, old folks and Hispanics. Hollywood’s traditional wheelhouse — adults 18 to 49 years old — has recently slipped a gear: movie attendance of that age group is down. But younger and older viewers are swelling the grosses. “In 2013, the share of tickets sold t0 2-11 year olds was at its highest point since 2009,” the MPAA study reports, “and the share of tickets sold to 50-59 year olds was at an all time high.” Senior citizens (60-plus) are also attending in droves. So you’ll be seeing more kid-friendly animated features, and more roundups of elderly stars as in Lost Vegas — a Hangover for alterkockers — and Sly Stallone’s Expendables movies. Lucky oldsters.

The average American “Caucasian,” as the MPAA calls the white majority, goes to just three movies a year. Fortunately for Hollywood, Hispanics have taken up the slack. They “report the highest annual attendance per capita, attending on average six times per year.” Representing 17% of the U.S. population, Hispanics have accounted for more than 30% of the audience for comedies (Ride Along), action films (Furious 6), horror movies (The Purge) and war epics (Lone Survivor). They also made their own hit: the Spanish-language dramedy Instructions Not Included, starring Univision TV favorite Eugenio Derbez. In the U.S. it earned $44.5 million. That’s the biggest foreign-language gross since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ — except that, for the bilingual Latinos who flocked to theaters, Instructions was in their own language.

(READ: Who Still Goes to Foreign-Language Films?)

4. Hollywood went digital, 3-D and IMAX. In 2009, most theaters showed films — those rickety reels of acetate that spun through projectors — as they had throughout the industry’s hundred-year history. Only about 16,000 screens were outfitted for digital projection. Now that number is 111,000, nearly seven times as many. About 80% of all theaters, here and around the world, can exhibit movies digitally. The revolution that George Lucas urged a decade ago has come to pass, and the very word “film” is an anachronism.

(READ: George Lucas talks to TIME in 2006 about the digital future of movies)

In our first Box Office Report, for Mar. 29, 2009, the top picture was Monsters vs Aliens, which was also the first 3-D feature from DreamWorks Animation. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the studio’s boss, was a missionary for 3-D, proclaiming it the most exciting innovation since talking pictures and color. The process was nothing new — it has existed in rudimentary form since 1915 — but Katzenberg’s proselytizing, plus the box-office sensation of James Cameron’s Avatar, helped change 3-D from a gimmick to a near-essential for blockbuster wannabes, both animated and live-action. (Christopher Nolan, maker of the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, remains an important holdout.)

The stereopticon format had its drawbacks — those glasses darkened the true screen image and remain a minor annoyance for audiences — but it allowed distributors to charge an extra few dollars per ticket. In New York City, a customer ordering through Fandango could be paying up to $20 for a big attraction in 3-D on an IMAX screen. Along with the enormous rise in the Asian market, that gizmo surcharge can be said to have saved the movie business. The 3-D revenue spiked from $200 million in 2008 to $2.2 billion, a tenfold increase, in 2010. For that, Hollywood can thank one film: Avatar, which earned $2.7 billion worldwide, most of it on 3-D screens.

(READ: Why Avatar is a 3-D World of Wonder)

Consider that the number of tickets sold annually in North America fell about 16% in the past decade, from more than 1.5 million in 2002, 2003 and 2004 to about 1.35 billion in each of the last three years. In 2013, admissions dropped by 20 million from 2012; yet domestic revenue actually rose about $100 million. Moviegoers, at least in the U.S. and Canada, went less frequently but paid more when they did.

The MPAA statistics carry a warning: “Despite an increase in films released in 3-D [from 40 to 45], 3-D box office ($1.8 billion) is down 1% from 2012.” Hollywood has to hope that audiences haven’t tired of paying a goggles tax on their moviegoing experience, and that the format won’t be a few-years fad that, as in the 1950s, quickly faded away.

3. A billion dollars ain’t what it used to be. Cameron’s Titanic, released in 1997, was the first movie to crack the billion-dollar barrier in worldwide gross. By Mar. 2009, when we started, four other pictures — Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the third Lord of the Rings, the second Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Batman sequel The Dark Knight — had joined Titanic by earning at least $1 billion. In the five years since, that number has grown to 18, including last year’s Iron Man Three and Frozen.

If the billionaire’s club isn’t so exclusive these days, it’s in part because Hollywood has learned to market its biggest movies to the expanding global market, but mainly because ticket prices keep climbing — up 30% since 2004 and 13% since 2008. Inflation tarnishes the billion-dollar sheen. In real dollars, at the domestic box office (the only numbers available), Titanic is fifth all-time, behind Gone With the Wind, Star Wars, The Sound of Music and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Again in real dollars, Cameron’s Avatar is the only movie made in this century to appear in the all-time top 25. On this list, Iron Man Three is in 102nd place, Frozen in 109th.

So show some skepticism when you read stories about a new hit like Frozen passing The Lion King to achieve the “all-time record” for an animated feature, with nary a mention of inflation. In real dollars, or tickets sold, the double-princess movie lags behind at least dozen earlier Disney or Pixar cartoons. By that standard, Disney’s all-time animated hit is its first: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

And on a personal note: A (noninflationary) billion thanks to readers and editors for this first five years. We’ll check back in 2019 to see if the numbers and meanings of movies have felt other seismic changes.

Afghanistan Defies Taliban Threats To Vote in Historic Polls

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 06:49 AM PDT

Afghans braved security threats and inclement weather on Saturday to vote for their next president. Despite persistent intimidation and attacks by the Taliban in the weeks ahead of the April 5 polls, voter turnout was expected be high in what many hope will be the war-torn nation's first peaceful and democratic transition of power since 2001.

President Hamid Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since 2001 and is constitutionally barred from running again, cast his vote for his successor in the morning. Eight candidates are vying to take his place; the three frontrunners are Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, and Zalmai Rassoul. In such a wide field, the likelihood that one candidate will get the votes needed to win outright is slim. A runoff vote between the top candidates is widely expected, meaning that Afghanistan may not get its next government in place until the summer.

Officials and citizens’ central concerns as the presidential and provincial elections got underway were security and fraud. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the vote, and ran a campaign of high-profile attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country in recent weeks. The day before voting started, two female foreign journalists traveling with election workers were attacked by an Afghan police officer in eastern Khost province. Anja Niedringhaus, a Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer working for the Associated Press, was shot and killed.

Afghan forces were dispatched in a massive operation across the nation to protect voters. Much of Kabul was reportedly blocked off to traffic, and in less stable parts of the country, the election commission closed hundreds of polling centers before the vote, in no small part to prevent ballot stuffing in places where voters and observers would be largely absent. After the 2009 presidential election, some 1.5 million votes were disqualified, according to the election commission. Karzai remained in power, but such widespread fraud this time around could lead to a protracted power struggle in a larger field of candidates.

Over the course of the day, a sense of euphoria built on social media as photos poured in of long lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots and proudly showing off their ink-stained fingers after their turn. Turnout is likely to be higher in Kabul and other cities than in more remote parts of the country where voters feel more directly threatened by insurgents. But not long before the polls were due to close, there had only been scattered reports of security disruptions. Reports that some polling centers had run out of ballots were also trickling in — a better problem to have, but also one that underscores the work still ahead in this historic transition for Afghanistan. Today’s enthusiastic and inspiring vote was a good start.


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