Second Acts
March 17, 2014
KHOU

It doesn't seem like Angus T. Jones misses any of his cast mates from his old CBS show Two and a Half Men. The half man blasted the show again yesterday in Houston, saying it was difficult to play his role because he was a "paid hypocrite" who didn't feel comfortable starring in a racy show that didn't align with his Christian beliefs.

Jones appeared on the show for a decade before he negotiated out of his contract last November. Toward the tail end of his experience, he blasted the show's "filth" and begged people not watch the recently renewed hit. While Jones admits that he handled his departure with show creator Chuck Lorre poorly ("That's his baby and I just totally insulted his baby"), he says he is living a happier life. These days, Jones is finding God in Colorado, where he has become a close follower of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Read the rest of the interview at KHOU. Jordan Valinsky

This just in
11:35 a.m. ET

Attorney General Loretta Lynch was sworn into office Monday, making her the first African-American woman ever to hold the Justice Department's top job.

"I am honored beyond words to step into this larger role today," Lynch said, to continue the DOJ's "core work: the protection of the American people."

President Obama nominated Lynch in November to succeed Eric Holder, who announced last year he would step down after a six-year tenure. A longtime federal prosecutor, Lynch then had to wait months for a confirmation vote as the Senate stalled over an unrelated human trafficking bill. Last week, the Senate finally voted 56-43 to confirm Lynch. Jon Terbush

Awkward
11:24 a.m. ET
Twitter.com/ReverbPress

This week's award for really poor marketing decisions goes to the police association of Kenosha, Wisconsin, whose latest billboard features a local officer, Pablo Torres, who is currently on leave for shooting two people in March. Torres also has a record of nine citizen complaints for inappropriate use of force.

A local paper, the Kenosha News, argued that the billboard should come down while Torres is under investigation, noting that he regularly appears at police events with his police dog, which likewise may unfairly bias public opinion in his favor.

A representative of the family of Aaron Siler, the second shooting victim, also questioned what the billboard was intended to communicate during the ongoing shooting investigation: "What are they trying to say? Are they trying to say he's not guilty and they know that for a fact? Why are they thanking him?" Bonnie Kristian

hypocrisy
11:01 a.m. ET

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been subjected to heavy criticism following a New York Times story which explained how, as secretary of state, Clinton approved the sale of uranium to Russia around the same time the Clinton Foundation received big-money donations from interested parties. Compounding this scandal is hypocrisy, as it seems Clinton criticized then-Senator Barack Obama for backroom political deals while on the campaign trail in 2008:

"Senator Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors, Exelon, a big nuclear power company," Clinton said. "Apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure in the nuclear industry."

Clinton was ultimately right about Exelon's close ties to the Obama camp; after Obama took office, the power company secured frequent meetings in the White House and was able to manipulate regulations to its own advantage. Bonnie Kristian

ISIS
10:53 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It's common knowledge that the Islamic State boasts an arsenal of American-made weapons, which were seized after the group routed Iraqi forces in its sweeping rampage across the country. But it turns out the group's arms originate from countries around the world, which make their way to the Islamic State via conflicts in South Sudan, Libya, the Balkans, and elsewhere, according to C.J. Chivers of The New York Times:

The list of the Islamic State's inventory reads like a roll call of arms-exporting nations: cartridges from Russia and the United States; rifles from Belgium and a host of formerly Eastern bloc states; guided anti-tank missiles from MBDA, a multinational firm with offices in Western Europe and the United States. Moreover, some of the manufacturing dates on ammunition from Kobani [in Syria] were remarkably recent. Investigators found Sudanese, Russian, Chinese and Iranian small-arms ammunition made from 2012 to 2014 — showing that the militant organization is a long way from being logistically isolated, no matter the forces arrayed against it. [The New York Times Magazine]

As Chivers notes, it's the latest evidence that providing arms to even friendly groups can eventually result in them landing in the hands of enemies. Ryu Spaeth

$$$$$
10:52 a.m. ET
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Alex Rodriguez mashed his 659th career home run Sunday, putting him one behind Willie Mays on the all-time dinger list. And though the home run helped the Yankees eke out a win, the team's front office may wish A-Rod kept the ball in the park.

That's because Rodriguez's contract includes a series of $6 million bonuses for various home run milestones, the first of which kicks in when Rodriguez ties Mays at 660. The Yankees are reportedly eyeing legal action to deny A-Rod those bonuses, which would be petty for any organization, but especially so for one with the deepest pockets in baseball.

Considering how well he's swung the bat in the season's first month, Rodriguez should tie Mays in short order. No one came out of last year's litigation between A-Rod and the Yankees looking good, and there's no reason to expect a different outcome from the looming legal fight either. Jon Terbush

This is a big deal
10:18 a.m. ET
Joe R

Chipotle is officially the first major restaurant chain to go completely GMO-free.

The fast-casual chain has worked to eliminate genetically modified organisms from its offerings for more than two years, The Wall Street Journal reports. Some of the transition included, for instance, replacing a genetically modified soybean oil with a GMO-free sunflower oil.

Some GMOs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Journal notes, but GMO critics believe they are bad for the environment and potentially harmful to humans. Common GMO crops include corn and soybeans, which are modified to be pest-resistant. The Journal notes that more than 90 percent of U.S. corn and soy is from genetically modified seeds.

"This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food," Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle, told The New York Times. "Just because food is served fast doesn't mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors." Meghan DeMaria

at the movies
10:01 a.m. ET
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images

The Tribeca Film Festival ended by screening one of the defining films of its founder, Robert De Niro: Goodfellas, the classic gangster movie that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In a post-screening Q&A moderated by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, a panel of Goodfellas cast members — including De Niro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, and Paul Sorvino, alongside writer Nicholas Pileggi, on whose novel the film was based — reflected on their memories from the film.

Liotta, who played real-life gangster Henry Hill in Goodfellas, explained what Hill thought of the completed film. "[Martin Scorsese] didn't want me to talk to him before [the movie]," explained Liotta. "So after the movie, I got a call to meet him at a bowling alley in the valley in California, with his brother. So I go to the bowling alley and there's Henry — I knew him from pictures. And the first thing he says to me was, 'Thanks for making me not look like a scumbag.' And I said, 'Did you see the movie?'"

The panel discussed the painstaking precision with which Goodfellas attempted to capture the real-life story; when a scene called for De Niro to use a bottle of ketchup, he asked the real Henry Hill how Jimmy Burke, on who his Jimmy "The Gent" Conway was based, used to hit a bottle of ketchup. "It's that little moment of insane authenticity that makes Marty's movies work," said Pileggi. "He just insists on it."

That same kind of obsessive work ethic continued even after Goodfellas was completed. "We went to the premiere at the Ziegfeld, and I was sitting next to [Scorsese]," said Pileggi. "At the start of the movie, I get this elbow. I look over, and he says, 'Oh, no. We should have cut that. You see that?' I said, 'Marty, buddy, you're in a tuxedo. It's the opening of the movie. We're in the Ziegfeld. Editing is over.' His mind, I think, is constantly thinking about improving it or changing it or altering it." Scott Meslow

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