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Movie Reviews
5:04 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

'Jack Reacher': Well Beyond Cruise's Grasp

Helen (Rosamund Pike) and Reacher (Tom Cruise) work together after being summoned by an accused killer.
Karen Ballard Paramount Pictures

Whenever James Stewart played a character, he was always a little bit James Stewart; that's a good thing. Cary Grant was always a little bit Cary Grant — also a good thing. But Tom Cruise, through a career that's spanned some 30 years, is almost always very much Tom Cruise. And that, particularly in Jack Reacher, can be a very tiresome thing.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Reliving An 'Impossible' Catastrophe

Maria (Naomi Watts) and Lucas (Tom Holland) are ripped from their family by a tsunami.
Jose Haro Summit Entertainment

Starring flying debris and surging walls of water, The Impossible takes the template of the old-timey disaster movie, strips it to the bone and pumps what's left up to 11.

Decades ago, perched in front of Earthquake and The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, audiences were rewarded with thrills that depended on fleshed-out characters (Steve McQueen as a fire chief!) and multiple interconnected storylines. How pampered we were.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Sparks Of '60s Spirit, And Then A Slow 'Fade'

Wells (Will Brill, from left), Joe (Brahm Vaccarella), Douglas (John Magaro) and Eugene (Jack Huston) try to make it big as a rock band in the 1960s.
Barry Wetcher Paramount Pictures

Basically, Not Fade Away is the saga of a 1960s teenager who plans to become a rock star, but slowly realizes he won't. The movie is set mostly in the New York suburbs. So why does it open in South London, where two lads — you may know them as Mick and Keith — bond over imported blues LPs?

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

'This Is 40': Ambling Into Midlife

With a 13-year-old (Maude Apatow) and an 8-year-old (Iris Apatow), Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have their hands full.
Universal Pictures

Consider the premises of writer-director Judd Apatow's first three comedies:

* A lonely tech salesman (Steve Carell) seeks to end a lifelong romantic drought in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
* A mismatched couple (Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl) gets pregnant after a regrettable one-night stand in Knocked Up.
* A popular but self-centered comedian (Adam Sandler) finds perspective after a grim cancer diagnosis in Funny People.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

'Barbara': An Unbroken Spirit In The Eastern Bloc

Barbara is assigned to work with Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), who admires her spark even as she keeps him at arm's length.
Adopt Films

Christian Petzold's Barbara, set in 1980 East Germany, is a film about watching and being watched. Its central character, the Barbara of the title — played, in a covertly spectacular performance, by the German actress Nina Hoss — is a doctor who's just been transferred by the government from Berlin to the provinces, as punishment for some undefined but easy-to-guess transgression.

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Music Interviews
4:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Last-Minute Gift Alert: The Season In Music Box Sets

For a Johnny Cash superfan, the 63-disc Complete Columbia Album Collection is a dream come true.
Legacy Recordings

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

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Space
4:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

In Calif. Gold Country, A Rush That's Out Of This World

A section of the Sutter's Mill meteorite, dubbed "Darth Vader," is studied at a lab at the University of California, Davis. The meteorite is made of carbonaceous chondrite, which contains materials that formed the planets of the solar system.
UC Davis

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

On the crisp, clear morning of April 22, a 50-ton asteroid slammed into the Earth's atmosphere and shattered into countless pieces. Remarkably, they rained down onto Sutter's Mill, Calif., the exact spot where gold was discovered back in 1848, triggering the gold rush. And so follows a story of serendipity and scientific discovery.

"I was out on my hillside burning some branches and so forth, and I heard this sonic boom," says Gold Country resident Ed Allen. "It wasn't just one boom. It was a series of booms, literally right over my head."

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Energy
4:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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NPR Story
4:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Letters: Southern Baptist Convention Leader On Guns

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, your letters and we heard from many of you about my conversation yesterday with Dr. Richard Land. He's director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. And the moment that seemed to get most of you writing was Reverend Land's theological justification for gun ownership and the use of lethal force.

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Latin America
4:36 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

'Lost Jews' Of Colombia Say They've Found Their Roots

Baruj Cano, 4, watches as his father and other men from Bello's Jewish community read from the Torah.
Paul Smith for NPR

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 12:38 pm

They are called "crypto-Jews" or "lost Jews," and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

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