Month: July 2019

What Do The Original ‘Lion King’ Animators Think Of The Remake

What Do The Original ‘Lion King’ Animators Think Of The Remake?

As if it’s 1994 all over again, “The Lion King” is monopolizing pop culture. For two consecutive weeks, Disney’s pseudo-live-action remake has conquered the box office, already accumulating $1 billion in global grosses. This time around, no one can claim they’re surprised

Audiences may be satisfied with Jon Favreau’s photorealistic take on Simba and the gang, but what about the animators responsible for the original? After all, much of the new film mimics their imagery shot for shot, which is either a welcome dose of technologically sophisticated nostalgia or a creatively inert exercise in uncanny redundancy.

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Avocado Day: Chipotle, other chains giving away free guac Wednesday despite the higher cost

Here’s the scoop: Avocado prices continue to dip.

While wholesale avocado prices have come down nearly $20 for a 25-pound box after an early July spike, the popular fruit still costs 80% more than this time last year, said David Magaña, vice president and senior analyst at Rabobank based in Fresno, California.

Some restaurants have started charging more for guacamole or taking avocados off the menu. Faux guacamole recipes made from Calabasas, a small Mexican squash, have been circulating on social media.

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Newark, New Jersey

Buyers beware: These 5 cities are in danger of a housing crash this year

More than 10 years after the financial recession and the bursting of the housing bubble, another economic crisis could be looming on the horizon in the U.S.

According to a study published on Tuesday by GoBankingRates, there are at least 40 American cities in danger of another housing crisis.

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All The Craziest Looks From Paris Couture Fashion Week

All The Craziest Looks From Paris Couture Fashion Week

In case you hadn’t heard (or are not following Celine Dion on Instagram), haute couture fashion houses brought the heat to an already overwhelmingly hot Paris from June 30 to July 4. 

It was, as expected, an impressive array of intricately detailed gowns, supermodel sightings, and a whole lot of ruffles. But the week-long showing from iconic design houses like Dior, Givenchy, and Jean-Paul Gaultier also delivered some truly wild looks.

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Malala Would Have To Remove Her Headscarf To Teach In Quebec: Education Minister

Malala Would Have To Remove Her Headscarf To Teach In Quebec: Education Minister

Quebec’s education minister is facing criticism for tweeting a photo of himself with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai after his government banned public employees from wearing headscarves like hers.

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The Latest: Wisconsin sheriff draws a parallel with Closs case

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the slayings of four people in weekend attacks at two homes in Wisconsin (all times local):

12:55 p.m.

Authorities in Wisconsin say a man suspected of killing four people may have been imitating the abduction last year of teenager Jayme Closs.

Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk said Tuesday that investigators may never know exactly what led to the Sunday attacks. He says Ritchie German Jr. killed three of his family members and later killed a 24-year-old woman at another home before killing himself.

Kowalczyk says German used a shotgun to blast his way into the woman’s home, and then shot and wounded her parents. Authorities also say German left his car running with items inside that suggested similarities to the Closs case.

They wouldn’t elaborate on those items.

Chief Deputy Chad Holum says if abduction was intended, “it did not work out for him.”

Jayme Closs was abducted from her parents’ home last fall in Barron, just 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the site of the most recent slayings. Jayme’s parents were killed, but she eventually escaped from her abductor.


11:43 a.m.

A Wisconsin sheriff says a man suspected in the weekend killings of four people exchanged texts with one of the victims — a woman who apparently didn’t know him.

Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk (koh-WAHL’-chik) says investigators believe 34-year-old Ritchie German Jr. carried out the Sunday attacks at two homes.

Kowalczyk told The Associated Press on Tuesday that investigators believe German fatally shot his mother, brother and brother’s 8-year-old son at their home in Lafayette before going to a home in nearby Lake Hallie and killing a 24-year-old woman and wounding her parents. German was found dead there, but authorities haven’t said whether he killed himself.

Kowalczyk says German had texted the 24-year-old woman inquiring about a personal relationship, but she texted back saying she didn’t know him.


With $2.1 million price tag, families fight to get the lifesaving drug for babies covered

With $2.1 million price tag, families fight to get the lifesaving drug for babies covered

When the Food and Drug Administration approved Zolgensma, a lifesaving medication to treat spinal muscular atrophy, parents of young children with the rare and fatal disease rejoiced.

But that relief was quickly tempered by the price tag: $2.1 million — the most expensive ever for a single dose of a drug.

“I was pretty shocked,” Sarah Stanger of Monroe, Ohio, said. “You know, as a teacher, we definitely don’t have $2.1 million, and I don’t know anybody who does.”

Stanger’s son, Duke, was diagnosed with the condition as an infant. When Zolgensma was approved in May, doctors said that the medicine was the best option for Duke. But the family’s insurance company refused to pay for it.

Without the drug, Duke’s future is bleak. In babies with SMA, nerve cells in the brain stem and spinal cord that control the muscles needed for speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing are destroyed because a critical protein is missing. As the disease progresses, muscles weaken and atrophy and patients lose their ability to walk, eat or even breathe, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“Once those neurons die, there’s no reviving them,” Stanger told NBC News. “With no treatment, most children will pass away by age 2.”

When the drug was approved, Novartis, the maker of Zolgensma, said that it expected insurance companies would cover the cost of the treatment. Novartis also said that the high cost of the drug was justified, and the one-time treatment was half the cost of 10 years of treatment with an existing SMA drug.

But Butler Health Plan, the Stangers’ health insurance provider, said that their reasoning for refusing to pay for Zolgensma is that this type of therapy has historically been excluded from coverage. Zolgensma is a type of gene therapy.

“To date, gene therapy … has been excluded from the benefits provided under our health benefit plans,” Stephanie Hearn, executive director at Butler Health Plan, said in an email. That’s because, despite gene therapy’s potential to treat or cure debilitating diseases, the therapies are costly, and health insurance providers still need to figure out how to balance out the cost of these expensive treatments without jeopardizing coverage for the rest of the people on the plan, Hearn wrote.

But that math is going to become increasingly difficult to resolve as time goes on, according to David Mitchell, founder of the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs.

“The situation we’re seeing right now with access to Zolgensma is a problem that will only get worse,” Mitchell said. There are at least 400 other gene therapies in development, and “if they all come to market with prices of $2 million, we won’t be able to afford them as families or as a nation,” he said.

Novartis told NBC News that a “wide range of patients” have had the drug covered by insurance since its approval, but noted that it’s not uncommon for patients to have to go through an appeals process for any new drug.

There may be some hope, however.

Just a few days ago, a major insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, reversed its decision to deny payment for Zolgensma to two children whose cases had received publicity. The company told NBC News that the reversals took place because they had received more information about the cases, not because of media attention.

Ultimately, these cases are yet another example of how the health care system in the United States is failing patients, said Dr. Albert Wu, an internist, and professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“It’s an unfortunate reflection of how our health care system is currently working — or not working — that the only way people can get drugs paid for is through a Hail Mary GoFundMe site or by generating enough bad press that the payer feels it isn’t worthwhile to resist,” Wu said.

McDonald’s stock hits all-time high as promotions boost US second-quarter sales

McDonald’s stock hits an all-time high as promotions boost US second-quarter sales

McDonald’s on Friday reported same-store sales growth that topped estimates, as promotions and store upgrades pay off for its U.S. business.

Shares of the company hit an all-time high of $218.15 in morning trading before giving up some of those gains. The company’s stock, which has a market value of more than $165 billion, is up 20% so far this year.

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Florida Education Plan Lacking in Both Promise and Practice

Florida Education Plan Lacking in Both Promise and Practice

NNPA ESSA AWARENESS CAMPAIGN — According to Dr. Rosa Castro Feinberg, who serves on the committee for LULAC Florida, an advocacy group serving all Hispanic nationality groups, Florida’s “current plan includes features that contradict common sense, expert opinion, popular will, and the intent of the ESSA. Contrary to the purposes of the ESSA, the Florida plan denies attention to struggling subgroups of students. Without attention, there can be no correction.”

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Ekaterina Karaglanova

Suspect arrested after Russian Instagram influencer is found dead in a suitcase

Russian police have arrested a suspect in the murder of a 24-year-old Instagram influencer found dead in a suitcase in her Moscow apartment.

Ekaterina Karaglanova, who had recently graduated as a doctor, was known as @Katti_loves_life to her 86,000 followers on the image-sharing website. 

Her body was discovered by her landlord last week after he had been contacted by her alarmed parents, who had not been able to reach their daughter for several days. 

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The Radical Way Bruce Lee Redefined Asian American Masculinity

The Radical Way Bruce Lee Redefined Asian American Masculinity

Bruce Lee is portrayed only briefly in Quentin Tarantino’s new film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” He’s relegated to a punchline, really ― a surprise, given that Tarantino is an unabashed Lee fan.

But at the showing I saw this weekend at a Regal Edwards theater in Alhambra ― a Southern California city with a considerable Asian population ― he might as well have been the star: The second that actor Mike Moh popped up onscreen in his best Lee drag, a good chunk of the theater erupted in claps.

It wasn’t surprising. Forty-six years after Lee’s sudden death at the age of 32from cerebral edema, the martial artist maintains a godlike status in the hearts and minds of Asian Americans.

Moh, a martial artist himself, nails Lee’s bravado. As a self-proclaimed Bruce Lee fanboy, the 35-year-old actor and martial artist knew he couldn’t screw it up.

“As a kid growing up in suburban Minnesota, I was one of the only Asian kids, so I was the class clown and a big part of that was me wanting to fit in,” Moh told The Hollywood Reporter recently. “Then I saw Bruce Lee and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy can kick ass, the girls want him, he is super-strong and confident.’ I hadn’t seen someone like that before.”

For Asian American men like Moh who are starved for representation, Lee was the Asian American hero ― the only one. Here, by the grace of the film gods, was a cocksure, ass-kicking, a philosophy-spouting action star who actually looked like them. 

“My earliest memories of Bruce Lee were the dubbed, pan-and-scan VHS tapes from the ’80s,” said Jeremy Arambulo, an artist whose graphic novel “A Challenge” was inspired by Bruce Lee’s 1964 duel with Wong Jack Man.

“As a child growing up in that era, he seemed as iconic and ubiquitous as Jesus,” the 40-year-old said.

Dan Kwong, a performance artist, and writer had his big Bruce moment in 1972 when he saw “Fist Of Fury” at Chicago’s Biograph Theater. The audience alongside him was mostly white. As he watched the muscular, sprightly Lee run circles around men twice his size, he was filled with a new kind of glee. 

“I was in my 20s at the time. Never had there been an Asian man that was as respected and admired by everyone in this country,” Kwong, 64, told HuffPost. “What made Bruce especially impactful was his timing. There simply was no one like him ever before.”

Lee remains the preeminent model of Asian manhood: A few years back, The Asian American Man Study asked, “Who is the Asian American man you most admire and why?” Bruce Lee was the person the 497 respondents mentioned most often. (Depressingly, the actual most common response was, “I don’t know,” a sad commentary on the invisibility of Asians in film and any other highly public fields.)

“Lee pioneered a model that promised Asian men they could take on any enemy and come out on top,” said Chris Berry, a professor of film studies at King’s College in London.

“In his early films, before he was trying to pander to the wider U.S. audience, there was always a racial hierarchy of opponents, starting with other East Asian men, and ending up with Caucasian men,” he said. “It made his films wildly popular throughout in Third World countries and also with African American audiences.” 

Lee was the rare nonwhite leading man and his films leaned into revenge fantasies and sticking up for yourself, much like the Blaxploitation movies of the era.

How Lee Changed Hollywood

Surprisingly, though, the actor only completed five feature films before he died in 1973. But in that short time span, he singlehandedly flipped the script on how we perceive Asian masculinity.

He was fighting against a lot: In films prior to the 1970s, Asian male characters were characterized in two ways: As professor Chiung Hwang Chen wrote in a 1996 academic paper, Asians were portrayed as the “threatening masculine ‘yellow peril’” who fought to “kill the white man and take his women.” (That last line is exactly what the title character orders his army to do in 1932’s “The Mask of Fu Manchu.”) 

In other movies, they were feminized and emasculated cultural studies, the professor said. Often, these characters were portrayed by white actors in yellowface. (There were blips of positive representation, but they were few and far between Brooding Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa was a silent-era heartthrob, and James Shigeta lent his leading man good looks to films in the 1960s.)

Lee refused to be a blip. He took a supporting role in TV’s “Green Hornet,” but movie parts were hard to come by. To make a name for himself, he had to leave Hollywood and work twice as hard. Lee headed to Hong Kong to take on leadership roles and make a living. While there, Warner Brothers kept an eye on his career moves and offered to help him produce “Enter the Dragon,” his last feature film. 

In “Enter the Dragon” as with all of his films, it’s impossible to ignore Lee’s physicality. He wasn’t just a lead actor, he was a veritable, shirtless, sweaty sex symbol.

Early film martial artists like Kwan Tak Hing took down enemies fully clothed in flowing robes, but Lee showed off his body, a move that Berry said was likely inspired by the sword-and-sandal flicks of the 1950s starring people like Charlton Heston.

“In theory, martial arts are all about skill and not about physical strength. The body was not important, and it was not displayed,” the film historian said. “With Bruce, the body and its muscles are displayed as weapons. You always know when Bruce is really angry and means business because that’s when his shirt comes off.”

Off-screen, he favored low V-neck shirts, brightly colored, well-tailored suits and oversized sunglasses. Just like anything else in his life, his wild street style showed he was a man who lived boldly and wanted to stand out.

Lee’s Influential Philosophy About Work Ethic

It wasn’t just Lee’s physical prowess or style that endeared him to fans; his spiritualism and philosophical teachings pack a punch, too. 

“For me, it was Bruce’s philosophy that drew me in,” said Osric Chau, a 32-year-old actor, and martial artist. “That confidence that magnetizes you and made me consider that maybe I could be that self-assured of myself someday.”

“Be like water,” Lee famously said. Water stays true to its nature but thoroughly adapts to its environment, much like Lee navigating both the Hollywood and the Hong Kong film industries. 

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times,” he said, a popular quote that speaks to Lee’s utter mastery of his patented style of Jeet Kune Do.

Those words have sticking power. If you were an Asian kid on the playground who was taunted with lazy “Bruce Lee” or “Jackie Chan” name-calling  (or worse, hokey “Karate Kid” crane kicks), the physical comparison may have been dicey at best. But the philosophies, you could lean into. Lee reminded you to keep your head high. 

He said very pointedly that he had already made up his mind that he was going to show people a real Asian man on-screen. He knew representation was lacking.Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter

But even Lee couldn’t shake his otherness in the U.S.: Despite being born in San Francisco, marrying an American woman and holding United States citizenship, The New York Times called Lee “the Chinese actor” in his obituary, which ran at a mere eight lines. Even with his fame, he was still considered the perpetual foreigner.

In life, that emboldened him, Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, told HuffPost.

“He said very pointedly that he had already made up his mind that he was going to show people a real Asian man on-screen,” she said. “He knew representation was lacking.”

“Whether he knew how absolutely meaningful it was going to be to so many people or not, I can’t say,” she added. “Unfortunately, he passed before his Hollywood feature made it to the screen.”

Of course, some of the Lee’s mystique comes from having died at just 32; he’s a patron saint of the “live fast, die young, gain a cult following” club. 

“Bruce Lee is the Asian Tupac or Biggie, gone before his time,” said Jason Shen, a 33-year-old tech entrepreneur and Asian American advocate. “But while new rappers have emerged like Jay Z and Kanye, all we have is Bruce Lee. Like Peter Pan, he never got old and so he’s young and just present in our lives.”

Asian Masculinity After Bruce Lee

Men like Shen grew up in the ’90s. Asian boys growing up today have considerably more Asian role models. Four decades after Lee’s death, Asian men demand to take up space in every arena, whether they’re running for president, playing romantic leads and Marvel superheroes, or winning NBA championships.

Obviously, our ideas about Asian masculinity need to extend beyond the ability to point to some buff Asian dudes. Kwong, the playwright who was a 20-something during Lee’s rise, understands that. 

“One can certainly engage in valid critique about how Bruce Lee’s screen persona was in collusion with society’s traditional model of masculinity and manhood, the idea that you need the ability to kill and destroy,” Kwong said. 

But if like Kwong, the only Asians you saw growing up were villainous, sexless caricatures, Lee mattered. 

“Bruce Lee’s films always presented him as a powerful Asian man of integrity who fights for justice and is on the side of the oppressed,” he said. 

He repped the underdog and projected an image Asian Americans wanted to see in themselves. There was no way he couldn’t make a splash. As a character in Kwong’s Lee-inspired play “Be Like Water” says: 

If you were an Asian guy, there was nothing out there to look up to. Nothing. Until Bruce Lee. It was like growing up in a dry, empty desert, then one day you walk over a hill ― and there’s the Pacific Ocean. That was Bruce. He was the ocean.