Friday, August 22, 2014

McDonald’s Is Testing Mozzarella Sticks With Marinara Sauce

McDonald’s Is Testing Mozzarella Sticks With Marinara Sauce

McDonald’s Is Testing Mozzarella Sticks With Marinara Sauce

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:33 AM PDT

We’re still trying to sort out our feelings about the fact that the next addition to the McDonald’s menu might be mozzarella sticks.

For now, it’s just a test. The fast food joint is selling mozz sticks in select locations across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, a McDonald’s spokesperson confirms to TIME. They come three to a package (with a side of marinara sauce, of course) and cost just one dollar.

A few people on Twitter have shared photos of the surprising find:

Yup, they look like your average, everyday mozzarella sticks. For now, it all depends on how the test goes. They were previously available at locations in the U.K., and there’s a small initiative to make them a permanent fixture on the menu.

No word yet on what name McDonald’s will use if they do add them to the U.S. menu, but it’s natural to assume they’ll go with something like McMozzarella Sticks. Or perhaps McMozzies. Stay tuned.

Pound the Alarm! Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ Video Breaks Record

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:21 AM PDT

It’s quite an ass-essment: the music video website Vevo has announced that Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” got 19.6 million views in a day, setting a new record for the most views in 24 hours. The previous record, 12.3 million, was held by Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.”

As The Wrap points out, this isn’t Minaj’s first Vevo record: “The rapper previously set Vevo’s most-watched record, twice — her collaboration with Justin Bieber for "Beauty and a Beat" received 10.6 million views in October 2012, and "Stupid Hoe" got 4.8 million viewers in January 2012.”

Minaj will be performing “Anaconda” at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday, August 24 — and if the reports are true, Minaj and Cyrus could be sitting next to each other at the event, so now they’ll have something to talk about. That said, it could get real awkward real quick — especially in light of Cyrus’s spoof of the “Anaconda” cover art.

Russian Artillery Units Are Firing at Ukrainian Soldiers, NATO Says

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Artillery units being operated by Russian soldiers have crossed into Ukraine and are firing on Ukrainian forces, NATO said Friday, in an apparent escalation of the ongoing conflict along the border.

Russia has long been accused by the West of lending support, including in the form of arms and sometimes clandestine personnel, to pro-Russian separatists in the eastern half of the country, but this marks the first time Western powers have accused Moscow of directly invading Ukrainian territory with Russian military units and personnel. A NATO spokeswoman said the military alliance has received multiple of Russian forces being directly involved in recent days, the New York Times reports, "including Russian airborne, air defense and special operations.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a statement from Brussels, said the group has “also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.”

Rasmussen condemned Moscow for allowing an ostensibly humanitarian economic convoy to enter Ukraine with no involvement from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which typically coordinates such missions. He went on to blame Russia for escalating tensions with a military buildup along the Ukrainian border.

“This is a blatant breach of Russia's international commitments, including those made recently in Berlin and Geneva, and a further violation of Ukraine's sovereignty by Russia,”Rasmussen said. “It can only deepen the crisis in the region, which Russia itself has created and has continued to fuel.”

#AskTIME Q & A: Alex Altman

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:12 AM PDT

Welcome to TIME’s weekly Q&A series #AskTIME. This week, we’re chatting with Alex Altman, who co-authored this week’s cover story on Ferguson and spent the week there reporting on the ground.

We will start posting questions and responses at 1 p.m. EST and stay online for about 30 minutes. We have been gathering reader questions all week on Whisper, Twitter and Facebook but will also take questions in the comments below or on Twitter with the hashtag #askTIME.

If you’d like to follow along with #AskTIME going forward, sign up here.

Outsider asks: What do you think the chances are of the officer involved being charged in this case, and the police chief coming under investigation for lack of management (or a stated policy) regarding minorities in his city – given the other death that occurred by Police 4 miles away from where Brown was shot? Have you heard of any legal action coming down?

I don't want to speculate about whether the officer will be charged. The county prosecutor has begun presenting evidence to a grand jury, but that process will take months. Gov. Jay Nixon has promised a "vigorous prosecution," which is an unusual statement that gives you a sense of the political pressure at play. DOJ has opened a parallel investigation into federal (criminal) civil rights violations. They are probing allegations that the Ferguson police force has a pattern of racial profiling, borne out in both residents' anecdotes and statistics collected by the state.

Whisper: ‘What are the protesters hoping to accomplish by destroying the things around them. It takes all respect away from their cause.’

It's important to distinguish between the small faction of people who are there to fight cops or break stuff, and the vast majority, which is there to peacefully call attention to a deeply felt grievance. The protesters are not “destroying things.” That's being done by other folks, who are there for reasons that have little to do with the death of Michael Brown. A week ago, when there was significant looting, a lot of protesters put themselves at personal risk by standing guard at storefronts to stop it. There are more volunteers spending hours a day actively policing the crowd than there are folks intent on doing damage. People are doing some pretty heroic stuff in an attempt to keep the peace.

Whisper: how do we shift the focus from a race issue to an issue where we see our police are out of control?

I think this question underscores why the story has gotten such traction. So much is screwed-up about what's happened in Ferguson that it touches different nerves for different people. I agree that the "militarization" of police is a big issue. But so are the racial divisions that led to this point, and which have been deepened by the shooting. Focus on whatever aspect of the story you want, but there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.

deconstructiva asks: Alex, we know that journalists normally try to cover the story instead of being the story, but the Ferguson police’s arrest of journalists have changed that, especially the initial two arrests in the McDonald’s. Has that made your coverage there any harder, or not really? Why did the police raid that McDonald’s in the first place? No doubt many view their food as a health hazard, but that’s no excuse to storm the place to clear it out and arrest journalists. Did anyone arrest or otherwise discipline those officers who made the arrests? I wonder how events and coverage would’ve played out if the police had left the media alone, but then again, given their brutality against local residents, their behavior would’ve been exposed anyway. And if the large media presence wasn’t there, how much worse would events be? Sunil Dutta’s recent op-ed defending fellow police shows a potentially dangerous mindset that obviously is not strictly his alone.

I have thought about this a lot. The arrest of journalists is obviously unfortunate, and for a bunch of reasons. One is it created a storyline which diverts attention from the bigger issues at the core of the case: the death of a 18-year-old kid; the systemic issues that led to it; the question of what transpired in the Brown-Wilson encounter; the protests that have ensued; the challenge of preventing a repeat occurrence. As you say, when at all possible, reporters should try to cover the story without inserting themselves into it. It's not always possible.

There's no question that the media have affected the trajectory of events. I suspect the press horde has probably made police more cautious about how they deploy force, since they know their actions are liable to be splashed across the national news. Nearly everyone I met was happy to talk to me—which is a rarity—because they hope the reporting calls attention to problems in the community. I also think the media presence eggs on some agitators who want to mug for the cameras.

Some of this stuff is unavoidable. And the majority of media in Ferguson are doing a very good job covering an important story under difficult circumstances. But the swarm has grown to unwieldy proportions and there are some folks who seem to be courting controversy rather than trying to avoid it. The last day or so that I was in Ferguson (I was there for a week before leaving yesterday morning), the press pack began outnumbering protesters at time. Reporting started to feel like rubbernecking. We have to be conscious of when our presence becomes a hindrance. (And yes, I recognize the hypocrisy in saying the press shouldn't be the story, then giving a windy first-person response.)

yogi1 asks: Alex what are the chances a lame duck Congress passes anything substantial on immigration reform after the midterms?

Pretty much zero. House Republicans have blocked efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill for more than a year, despite strong public support and pressure from business lobbies and evangelicals. The right's resistance will only intensify if President Obama issues executive orders on immigration policy this fall, as he has suggested. I have written about what moves he may be considering, such as expanding DACA to grant relief from deportation for potentially millions.

Whisper: ‘has the officer responsible been arrested, detained, placed on probation or faced any repercussions? if not, why?

The officer who shot Brown is on paid administrative leave. He's left the area, and is in an undisclosed location because of threats to his safety. The Ferguson police hasn't addressed your question specifically, and the St. Louis County police tells me they will not release the investigative component of the incident report, which deals with what happened. It's possible that Wilson will face criminal charges. But we won't know for months; the prosecuting attorney is hoping to finish presenting evidence by mid-October.

DonQuixotic asks: Alex, given your past coverage on the House vote to try and help Marijuana businesses gain access to financial systems, what do you think the likelihood of legalization is? Is it only a matter of time? How much support is the move seeing on the Hill?

There has been very little progress on legalization at a federal level. There's not even much progress on giving legitimate, tax-paying businesses in states that have legalized pot access to banks, which is an urgent and obvious problem. Lawmakers want to see how the experiments unfolding in Colorado and Washington play out. But I think there's no question the legalization movement is gaining momentum at the state level. Oregon and Alaska may follow this year. California is the big one, and industry folks believe it will pass a legalization measure in 2016.

deconstructiva asks: Alex, in a change of pace from Ferguson coverage, as you travel all over the country to cover politics, what do you think is the biggest difference in political coverage all over the US – elected officials at highest levels (President, Congress, governors, state legislators) vs. everyday people in your interviews, or different areas of the country, like East Coast vs. Midwest vs. South, or even DC / Beltway vs. outside DC (everywhere else)? Do DC politicians and the media really have its own collective mindset about politics apart from the rest of country, thus the “Beltway media” term mentioned a lot, or is this more of an urban myth and Beltway coverage really isn’t that much different as say, reporting from Ohio or California?

(My best guess – if “Beltway media” reporting is unique among national reporting, I suspect it comes from DC’s sole existence as our nation’s capital and thus politics is a daily livelihood for nearly everyone there …so politics might be seen as a game to be played (and manipulated) instead of a daily job of tackling everyday issues and keeping things running, though of course, Congress is failing to do even this bare minimum, but I digress.)

If I understand your question, the biggest difference is the stakes, both political and monetary. Read coverage in, say, mid-sized metro newspapers around the U.S., and you will see the same focus on incremental inside-baseball news, fleeting "scoops," partisan bickering. "Beltway" reporting heightens these tendencies, because the characters are bigger, there's more competition, and there's an entire industry that wants this kind of coverage and is willing to underwrite it. Believe me when I tell you that a lot of reporters are even more frustrated with some of the industry trends than you seem to be.

@AprilHollowayJD asks: Did you hear any police officers disagree with the actions of the other police or is it mob/protect your own mentality?

There’s definitely a protect-your-own mentality. However, it’s just as dangerous to generalize about the behavior of police in Ferguson as it is to generalize about the protesters. Is some of the criticism of police behavior valid? Absolutely. But I also saw and spoke to a lot of police officers who were respectful of the protesters’ right to assemble, who were doing their best to lower the temperature, and who are caught in a very difficult situation not of their own making.

The Real Problem With Sex Box Is That It’s Boring

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:12 AM PDT

WE tv caused a stir on Thursday when the cable channel — a subsidiary of AMC — announced that they had ordered a reality series called Sex Box to air in 2015.

Based on the U.K. series of the same name and produced by Relativity Television, Sex Box is billed as an “extreme therapy reality concept” where couples appear on television to discuss their relationship, before they head off to a camera-free, soundproof box where they — you guessed it — have sex. The couples then come out and, as per WE tv’s announcement, talk about their “experiences in the box and most intimate personal issues” with a panel of experts. Also, in front of a studio audience. Also, in front of everyone watching at home.

The idea behind the show is ostensibly that couples are more trusting and open post-coitus; therefore, they’re more able to communicate and work out their issues. In addition to the love hormones supposedly coursing through their bodies, a team of experts will be on hand to help — celebrity relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, clinical therapist and nationally certified sex therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue and Pastor Dr. Yvonne Capehart. But with its over-the-top premise and insistence that the sex take place in-studio, it’s really not surprising that the show has already been branded a “low point for reality television.

Yet if the show’s British godfather is any indication, Sex Box won’t be titillating or smutty or something to watch as a guilty pleasure. It’ll be boring.

While the logic might follow that couples are more open after they’ve had sex, it’s typically with one another — not so much with a host of strangers and millions of viewers. In the U.K. version of Sex Box, the couples — while all nice, chatty people — weren’t so overtaken by sex endorphins that they actually revealed anything vivid or shocking. It was all pretty tame, polite, slightly awkward at times and, overall, just dull. Not even the show’s panel could spice things up — and the U.K. version had Dan Savage as one of its experts.

So for all the voyeurs out there who are hoping to catch a glimpse of something risqué — or the pearl-clutchers looking for something to be outraged over — Sex Box probably isn’t for you. Who it is for, exactly, is anyone’s guess.


Lena Dunham Teases World With Shortest Girls Season 4 Clip Ever

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:08 AM PDT

We guess we should be excited about the fact that Season Four of HBO hit series Girls is currently in production, but the clip the show's star Lena Dunham posted on her Instagram account Friday wasn't nearly enough to satiate our Girls needs.

Nevermind the terrible bike skills, why is Hannah even on a bike? Where is she going? Are those Timberland boots? We need more answers!

One thing is clear, though, Season Four production is underway, which hopefully means our favorite Girls are coming back soon.

Emmys 2014: What to Expect When Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm and True Detective Compete

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 10:02 AM PDT

The 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards air this Monday (not a typo!) Aug. 25th at 8pm E.T./5pm P.T., giving Bachelor in Paradise some stiff competition for Nielsen ratings.

Hosted by Seth Meyers of NBC's Late Night, the show will honor the best that the television industry has to offer, which is a lot these days — if you’re not on boring old network television, that is. Between HBO’s True Detective, Veep and Game of Thrones, Netflix‘s Orange is the New Black and House of Cards and FX’s Louie and Fargo, cable and Netflix are likely to take the big prizes — especially HBO, as the network received a jaw-dropping 99 nominations.

The 2014 Emmys also mark the swan song of AMC’s Breaking Bad — and it’s likely that voters will want to mark the occasion by giving all the prizes to the one of the most critically acclaimed shows in recent memory (next to Barely Legal Pawn, obviously). In case you missed it when it was first announced, find a full list of nominees here.

Here are some predictions for the 2014 Emmys:

Best Comedy Series

It’s hard to underestimate the strength and appeal of both The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, but if they end up splitting the vote, it may give Veep a shot at the laurels — which is just the sort of campaign strategy Selina Meyer would like. Orange Is the New Black is the new kid on the block, but if voters are headed outside the primetime box, they should head straight to Louie — the show had a brilliant, dark and difficult season that pushed the boundaries of comedy.

Will Win: Modern Family

Should Win: Louie

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Taylor Schilling has incredible range as an actress, but the fact that Orange is the New Black isn’t a laugh-out-loud comedy may work against her in this category. Julia Louis-Dreyfus consistently delivers on Veep, which is why she has won the last two years. While any politician knows that incumbents tend to win, this time we’re rooting for the underdog politician: Leslie Knope. Amy Poehler’s work on Parks & Recreation is genuinely hysterical and seemingly under-appreciated, and while she may be the dark horse candidate, she deserves the win.

Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Should Win: Amy Poehler

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

With three trophies in this category, it’s clear that Emmy voters love The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons. This year, though, he has some stiff competition in Louis C.K. who delivered an intense, if not exactly laugh-out-loud performance — as well as William H. Macy for his multiple death scenes in Shameless.

Will Win: Jim Parsons

Should Win: Louis C.K.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

While it’s hard to consider Girls a comedy, it’s nominated in the category, and Adam Driver did an excellent and nuanced job last season. Assuming the nominations of both Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell for Modern Family cancel each other out, expect Tony Hale to take home the title. It would be a well-deserved win, too — his work on Veep is understated, while also inducing actual LOLs. Though the same could be said of Andre Braugher’s work on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hale has the residual excitement over the return of Arrested Development in his favor.

Will Win: Tony Hale

Should Win: Adam Driver

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Out of the nearly-40 year history of Saturday Night Live, only two other actresses have been nominated for Emmys (Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler) while that bodes well for Kate McKinnon’s future, she probably won’t be able to wrest the title from Allison Janney for Mom. That said, it would be nice to see Kate Mulgrew rewarded for her work on Orange Is the New Black, especially as she was overlooked for years for her appearances on Star Trek: Voyager.

Will Win: Allison Janney

Should Win: Allison Janney

Best Drama Series

True Detective generated a lot of buzz in its debut season, but this was Breaking Bad‘s swan song; it deserves a win and earned it fairly with its carefully constructed, fan-pleasing ending. As fans of Lost, How I Met Your Mother and True Blood know, that isn’t easy to pull off.

Will Win: Breaking Bad

Should Win: Breaking Bad

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Julianna Margulies did incredible work on The Good Wife this year, on a season filled with mourning, misery and accounting woes. Fingers crossed that voters recognize it. (Crossing different fingers that Lizzy Caplan will eventually take home an award for her fine work in Masters of Sex.) Still, Claire Danes is the woman to beat this year — and every year that Homeland is nominated.

Will Win: Claire Danes

Should Win: Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black — but because she wasn’t nominated, Julianna Margulies

Best Actor in a Drama Series

While Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey both did phenomenal work in True Detective and Kevin Spacey wowed as a driven politico in House of Cards, this award belongs to Bryan Cranston. Sorry, Jon Hamm, but this is why AMC split the final season of Mad Men in two.

Will Win: Bryan Cranston

Should Win: Bryan Cranston

Supporting Actor, Drama Series

This is Aaron Paul’s last chance to win for his excellent work in Breaking Bad, so it’s likely that Emmy voters will reward his hard work (again). That said, Peter Dinklage took the role of Tyrion Lannister and infused it with humor, pathos and poignancy. In a show as jam-packed with talent as Game of Thrones, Dinklage still manages to make Tyrion the star. If there’s a dark horse in the race, it’s Josh Charles for his heartbreaking, vengeful work during his final season of The Good Wife.

Will Win: Aaron Paul

Should Win: Peter Dinklage

Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Lena Headey rules as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones and while the last season of Downton Abbey wasn’t great, Joanne Froggatt delivered a memorable performance in a forgettable season. However, it’s Anna Gunn’s turn to take home the trophy for her role as Skyler White in Breaking Bad. To allay any doubts, go watch the scene where Gunn stabs her husband to save the children and then collapses on the ground as Walt walks out the door with the baby.

Will Win: Anna Gunn

Should Win: Joanne Froggatt

Best Miniseries or Movie

Ryan Murphy’s HBO film The Normal Heart wasn’t nominated, theoretically to clear the way for an American Horror Story: Coven win. But that show has some serious competition from HBO’s Treme, as well as FX’s Fargo. The television adaptation of the Coen brothers movie was unexpectedly thrilling, tense, gory and fun — but it will most likely have to take a bow in the wake of Treme‘s final season.

Will Win: Treme

Should Win: Fargo

Sunnis Pull Out of Iraq Talks After Mosque Attack

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 09:59 AM PDT

(BAGHDAD) — Two Sunni parliamentary blocs have suspended talks on forming a new Iraqi government to protest an attack on a Sunni mosque that killed at least 64 worshippers during Friday prayers.

The blocs affiliated with Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlak are demanding that outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the main Shiite parliamentary bloc hand over the perpetrators within 48 hours and compensate the families of victims.

The move poses a major challenge to prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite who is struggling to cobble together a new government that can confront Sunni militants who have seized much of northern and western Iraq.

It was not immediately clear who carried out Friday’s attack, which the lawmakers blamed on “militias” in an apparent reference to Shiite armed groups.

Patrick Stewart Does the Ice Bucket Challenge in the Classiest Way Possible

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 09:51 AM PDT

While everyone else is dumping big buckets of ice water over themselves and screaming their heads off on Facebook, Patrick Stewart — aka Star Trek Captain Jean-Luc Picardtook a more refined approach to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is raising money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.

In the video, Stewart sits quietly writing a check, pulls a bucket of ice onto his desk…. and makes himself a nice, stiff drink.

The viral fundraising campaign has raised more than $50 million so far.


Living With ALS: ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Still Alive’

Posted: 22 Aug 2014 09:49 AM PDT

I wake up almost every morning having dreamt of food. I watch Goodfellas just for the food scenes. My kingdom for a Big Mac. Taco Bell commercials are thought-provoking to me. But the fact of the matter is, I can't eat. Or run or walk or even move my legs or arms. I'm lying flat in a bed and typing this with my pupils, which, along with my brain, are among the last functioning parts of my body.

I was diagnosed with ALS at 30. I’ve been filming every angle of this disease for the last 10 years. In October, I'll turn 40. Damn, where does the time go? I started shooting a film as a “f-ck you” to ALS. My cinematographer, Ian Dudley, has this old Russian 35mm camera with these amazing lenses. It was important to me that we get it down on film because ALS is a very physical disease. If it was going to steal my being, I would replace it with celluloid.

When I stop to think of the hell I’ve been through, I can’t believe I’m still alive. When I think of all the people out there with no support, my heart floods. Often I break down crying. I'm lucky because I get to live in one of the best ALS communities in the country, the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Massachusetts, the nation's first ALS residence. Besides the daily love and help of the staff here, two things keep me going: my son, who is 6 and lives far away from me in Florida, and finishing my documentary.

There's a bright side to ALS. I know that sounds twisted, but in a lot of ways ALS saved my life. Having a fatal disease turns the odometer of the soul back to zero. It reverses any evils done or done to you. It's the perfect disease. Everyone should experience what it is like to have ALS for a day. And maybe they are with this #ALSicebucketchallenge that has swept the nation. I call them “awareness baptisms." It's freaky when the disease that is slowly killing you becomes an overnight trend. By freaky I mean cool. It's a way for people to connect with something bigger than themselves, to wash themselves in the fear that they might be next.

I live in a bubble. When it comes to ALS, I make it a point to not remember the gory statistics. ALS has not had any significant drug approval in the 70 some years since Lou Gehrig gave his "Luckiest Man On the Face of the Earth" speech. So I lay here, hoping to see my upcoming 40th birthday, praying to the black dot on my ceiling, unable to even masturbate, dreaming of the outside world.

To have ALS these past weeks has been to be a sort of "disease celebrity." Even if you've been doomed with the fatal diagnosis, the #ALSicebucketchallenge got you tons of Facebook tags and notifications. For a minute, everything is awesome here in ALS land.

Yet why do I still feel such an impending sense of dread? (Medical marijuana usually relieves my anxiety, but I haven't had any in months because you can't roll a joint with your eyelids.) I think I’m feeling dread because this ice bucket thing is so successful, and I’m scared that it will end. It has to. The collective American attention span dictates it must. This desperately needed attention will fade. Then where will we be?

Thanks to Michele Dupree, Doug Pray and Karen Ingram for their input.

Patrick O’Brien is a filmmaker who was diagnosed with ALS at 30 years old and decided to embark on sharing his life story in his feature-length documentary to be released later this year.


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