This just in
February 26, 2014

Breaking news from a galaxy far, far away: Variety reports that Girls star Adam Driver is on the verge of accepting a role in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII. The specific details of the highly anticipated sequel remain a closely guarded secret, but the report says that Driver's character will be "in the vein of iconic Star Wars villain Darth Vader" — and will likely appear in at least one of the subsequent films.

The Twitterverse reacted to the news in the only way it knows how: With a slew of ridiculous puns and references to Driver's previous projects — like, say, the one below. Everybody sing it together! --Scott Meslow

truth in advertising
October 4, 2015
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Kate Winslet wants to make sure there's truth in advertising, and isn't afraid to speak up when she's on a photo shoot and thinks there's some trickery involved.

The actress is an ambassador for Lancôme, and said that because she's a "person who stands by what they say, personally and publicly," she tells photographers if she believes the lighting is blurring out too many wrinkles on her face, and they fix it. Winslet told Net-a-Porter that she doesn't "feel old, I feel excited about being 40," and is embracing the aging process. "I'm baffled that anyone might not think women get more beautiful as they get older," she said. "Confidence comes with age, and looking beautiful comes from the confidence someone has in themselves." Catherine Garcia

the most expensive place on earth
October 4, 2015
Handout/Getty Images

Disneyland fans who want to experience the happiest place on earth 365 days a year now have to shell out more than $1,000 for an annual pass.

On Sunday, Disney raised the price of its passes, and eliminated the option that let guests visit both Disneyland and California Adventure for $779 a year without any blackout dates, replacing it with two more expensive passes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Now, for $1,049, Signature Plus Pass holders can visit both parks, with parking included ($18). They also can download unlimited keepsake photos taken by park employees through the PhotoPass program. For $849, the same pass is available, with blackout dates around Christmas and New Year's — the busiest time of the year at Disneyland. A one day ticket to Disneyland or California Adventure remains the same at $99, so if you break the Signature Plus Pass down and plan on hanging out with Mickey and riding the Matterhorn on a daily basis, it's actually a steal.

The most inexpensive pass, available only to Southern California residents, offers admission to both parks 170 days a year, and rose 10 percent to $329. If you love Disney, often find yourself in Florida and California, and have money to burn, the Disney Premier Passport — with unlimited admission to Disneyland and Disney World — is now $1,439, up 31 percent. Disney has been dealing with overcrowding — in May, the park had to be closed twice once it hit capacity (an estimated 80,000 people) during the 60th anniversary kick-off — and sent a survey to guests saying it was contemplating charging more money for tickets on peak days, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

history erased
October 4, 2015

An activist in Palmyra, Syria, said Islamic State militants have "pulverized" the Arch of Triumph monument.

"IS has destroyed it," Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi told Agence France-Presse Sunday. The arch was believed to have been built 2,000 years ago, and militants have already obliterated two ancient temples at the historic site. ISIS captured Palmyra — a city that drew 150,000 tourists every year before the Syrian conflict began — from government forces in May, and Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters if ISIS stays in control, "the city is doomed." Catherine Garcia

Crisis in Syria
October 4, 2015
Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

In an interview with Iran's Khabar television station, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he has no plans to negotiate with Western-backed groups opposed to his government and said his only option now is to "destroy terrorism."

"Implementing any solution or any political ideas that might be agreed on will need a state of stability," he said, as reported by the SANA news agency Sunday. "Otherwise it has no value. Consequently, destroying terrorism is the foundation of any action in Syria. Political ideas can be implemented later." Assad usually describes any of the government's armed opponents as "terrorists," The Washington Post reports. "Terrorists do not fight for political reform," he said. "They fight because they want money or because they have a perverted doctrine, or because they want to have a role in a state that becomes another state's client." Western officials, he added, are "in a state of confusion and their vision lacks clarity."

Assad said he is participating in talks for an Iranian-backed peace initiative, and will continue to send representatives to talks sponsored by Russia. Syrian opposition groups say they have been the main targets of a Russian air campaign that started last week, not the Islamic State, and will not take part in any of the initiatives because they do not include an exit date for Assad, the Post reports. On Saturday, Munzer Khaddam, the media spokesman for the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, was detained at a government checkpoint near Damascus, with his family telling Agence France-Presse it was due to comments he made against the Russian intervention. His whereabouts, they said, are currently unknown. Catherine Garcia

wild weather
October 4, 2015
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

In South Carolina, at least five people died during a storm that dumped more than 18 inches of rain in the central part of the state by early Sunday. 

Of the five deaths, officials say three were caused by traffic accidents. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said that some areas saw a downpour expected to occur once every 1,000 years, Reuters reports. "Our goal is all hands on deck," she said during a news conference. "If you are in your house, stay in your house. This is not something to be out taking pictures of." A record 8.7 inches of rain was recorded in Columbia for a 24-hour period ending Sunday afternoon; Charleston broke its record for greatest monthly rainfall for October after just four days; and the Congaree River is at its highest level since 1936.

Flooding was reported along the highway between Charleston and Georgetown, a town of 9,000 that was mostly underwater, officials said. Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach said "every ambulance in the county" was out responding to calls, and "people are being moved from their homes in boats." Another two to six inches of rain is expected to fall through Monday. Catherine Garcia

2016 Watch
October 4, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has run a presidential campaign plagued by low poll numbers, weak fundraising efforts, and lackluster debate performances. Recently, he's been pouring more fundraising energy into his Senate re-election bid, which he's running simultaneously to his effort to win the Republican presidential nomination.

But Paul insisted he's not going anywhere in a Sunday interview on Fox News' Media Buzz.

"I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least," he said.

Paul also took a shot at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who predicted Paul's downfall in a September tweet.

"We run a tight ship around here," Paul said. "We plan on being in for the long hall, and I think ultimately celebrity will sort of filter out of this."

Watch Paul's full interview here. Julie Kliegman

Israel and Palestine
October 4, 2015
Musa Al-Shaer/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli authorities banned Palestinians — including Jerusalem residents — from entering the capital's Old City on Sunday, The New York Times reports.

The only exception to the ban was reportedly for Palestinians who wanted to worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque, where men under 50 are not typically allowed.

About 3,500 police officers in Jerusalem closed off some of the capital's Arab neighborhoods Sunday. The move came after the second deadly Palestinian attack on Israeli families in three days, where two ultra-Orthodox men were fatally stabbed. Julie Kliegman

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