Defying the projections of most box-office analysts, Marvel's sci-fi superhero blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy grossed a massive $94 million at the domestic box-office this weekend. In a lengthy post on Facebook, writer/director James Gunn thanked the fans who made Guardians of the Galaxy such an out-of-the-box smash, dedicating the film to "anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different."
Gunn also revealed that he's already hard at work on the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. "I've spent this weekend hard at work on the sequel. I couldn't help myself!" he wrote. "The [box-office] results are nice but it's really the creative process I love and that keeps me going. I'm on fire with this thing! The Guardians have so many hardships and heartaches and triumphs ahead of them, and I can't wait to share them with all of you."
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white man. Although the story is now ingrained in American history, at the time, it barely received a mention in a local newspaper.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) December 2, 2015
It wasn't until a few days later, on Dec. 5, when the nation first heard the name "Rosa Parks." The Associated Press wrote about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the $14 fine that Parks received for "having disregarded…a driver's order to move to the rear of the bus." To mark the 60th anniversary of this civil rights milestone, AP made its initial story on the boycott available once again.
As the article explains, in 1955 Montgomery, "Negro passengers ride in the rear of buses here, white passengers in front under a municipal segregation ordinance." AP quoted a boycott spokesman as saying it would last until bus riders were no longer "intimidated, embarrassed, and coerced." Parks, described as a "42-year-old department store seamstress," was first charged with "violating a city ordinance that gives bus drivers police powers to enforce racial segregation," and after appealing her fine was released under a $100 bond; her lawyers would not tell AP if they "planned to attack the constitutionality of segregation laws affecting public transportation." The manager of City Lines Buses, which operated the buses in Montgomery, told AP he estimated "80 or maybe 90 percent" out of the "several thousands Negroes" who usually rode the bus joined the boycott. Read the article in its entirety here. Catherine Garcia
When asked by an audience member to clarify his stance on making contraception available for women, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) launched into a four-minute speech on Monday that extolled the ubiquitousness of condoms.
"Anyone who wants contraceptives can access them," he said during the campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa. As a lifelong conservative, Cruz said, he "never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives. Last I checked, we don't have a rubber shortage in America. Like look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom. You put 50 cents in — and voila!"
Cruz also revealed that because of contraceptives, there aren't more small Cruzes running around. "[My wife] Heidi and I, we have two little girls," he said. "I'm very glad we don't have 17." He went on to say that during previous election cycles, "Republicans would curl up in a ball" when it came time to talk about women's reproductive health matters. "They'd say, 'Don't hurt me,'" Cruz said. "Jiminy Cricket! This is a made-up, nonsense example."
While Cruz showed that he knows what condoms are used for and their price in the early 1990s, he didn't discuss other forms of contraception, like birth control pills, which not only prevent pregnancies but are also used to treat a variety of health issues, from acne to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Catherine Garcia
Since 2002, Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri has been held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant, and on Tuesday, U.S. officials admitted that al-Shamiri was not the person they originally thought.
Al-Shamiri was believed to have been a courier and trainer for al Qaeda, but was actually a low-level Islamist foot soldier, The Guardian reports. During a hearing to discuss his possible release, the Department of Defense said that al-Shamiri did fight in Afghanistan for the Taliban from 2000 to 2001 and associated with al Qaeda members, but conceded he was not a significant catch, and they confused him with other men with similar names.
The 37-year-old Yemeni was previously considered too dangerous to be released, but there was not enough evidence to try him, The Guardian says. A representative for al-Shamiri said he is "not a continuing significant threat to the United States of America," and is "earnestly preparing" for life on the outside. Over the past 13 years, he has taken English and art classes, and learned carpentry and cooking skills. "Mustafa does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life," the representative said. "He has vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chose a different path." Catherine Garcia
The Illinois attorney general is calling for an independent investigation of the Chicago Police Department by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
Lisa Madigan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Tuesday, the day Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy resigned in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting. "The shocking death of Laquan McDonald is the latest tragedy in our city that highlights serious questions about the use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse," Madigan said in a statement. "Trust in the Chicago Police Department is broken." Madigan said she knows the "vast majority" of officers serve "with bravery, honor, and integrity," and added that the "children in all of Chicago's communities deserve to grow up in a city in which they are protected and served by the police."
Madigan requested that investigators look into the department's use of force; training and supervision of officers; the adequacy of reviews and investigations into officer misconduct; and if there is a pattern of discriminatory policing, ABC Chicago reports. Catherine Garcia
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that tainted celery was likely behind an E. coli outbreak that has made at least 19 people in seven states sick, Starbucks recalled its turkey and stuffing paninis from 1,347 west coast locations last week.
A seasonal offering, the sandwiches were pulled from stores in California, Oregon, and Nevada, Starbucks spokeswoman Erin Jane Schaeffer said; no other markets were affected, and so far, there are no reports of the sandwiches making anyone ill. After the E. coli outbreak was traced to chicken salad sold at Costco, the CDC tested the celery and onion used in the salad, and found the bacteria, Bloomberg reports. Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. then announced it was recalling multiple celery products, including the sandwiches sold at Starbucks.
Costco and Starbucks aren't the only companies dealing with E. coli — an outbreak linked to Chipotle has made at least 45 people sick, and health officials are still trying to determine the contaminated ingredient. Catherine Garcia
Something sinister is happening in the Sea of Japan.
— The Age (@theage) December 1, 2015
Since October, a dozen wooden boats have been discovered in the sea or on the coast filled with 22 decaying bodies, police and the Japanese coast guard said. One boat contained six skulls, and another had two headless "partially skeletonized" bodies. So far, the clues point to the boats being from North Korea – the coast guard says the hull of one boat with 10 bodies on it had "Korean People's Army," the name of the military, written in Korean, and Japan's NHK reports a tattered piece of cloth found on one boat looks like it could be from a North Korean national flag.
The coast guard is likely correct, maritime expert Yoshihiko Yamada told NHK. The boats have a "striking resemblance" to vessels used by North Korean defectors, and because the boats are "old and heavy," they didn't have enough engine power to "turn the ships against the currents." If the people on the boats were attempting to defect from North Korea, they could have taken the Sea of Japan route because, although more dangerous, it's not policed like the border with China. Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a specialized expeditionary targeting force will be deployed to Iraq to fight the Islamic State.
Carter told the House Armed Services Committee the U.S. will launch raids "at the invitation of the Iraqi government" and "conduct unilateral operations in Syria" against ISIS targets, with the goal of defeating ISIS "at its core." He did not say when the troops will arrive.
Department of Defense officials told NBC News about 100 to 150 special operations forces will be permanently based in Iraq, and will gather intelligence, free hostages or prisoners, and kill or capture ISIS leaders. They will also accompany and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in operations against ISIS. A senior defense official told NBC News the missions will be similar to the raid that was conducted in northern Iraq in October, where commandos helped Kurdish fighters free 70 ISIS prisoners. Catherine Garcia