July 23, 2020

The studio behind the next Bill & Ted movie has announced some news that theater chains may not find so excellent.

Bill & Ted Face the Music, which was previously set to receive a traditional theatrical release on Aug. 28, will now be released both in theaters and at home on the same day in September. The news came as a new trailer for the film debuted online.

This is yet another blow for movie theaters, as the big chains have always relied on being the exclusive place to watch a new movie for about three months before it's available at home and generally refused to show films that don't adhere to that schedule. The announcement was made on the same morning that AMC Theatres said it would be postponing its planned U.S. reopening date again after closing during the coronavirus pandemic.

While most big films were delayed as theaters shuttered, some studios in recent months have chosen to release their movies at home instead, including Universal, which gave Trolls World Tour an on-demand release in April. Theaters have hoped this practice would not become the new normal after they're back in operations, and AMC even said it would ban all future Universal films after the CEO of NBCUniversal boasted about Trolls' digital performance and suggested on-demand releases like it could continue when theaters reopen.

Now, another new movie that was meant to be exclusive to theaters will be available to watch at home, this time after theater chains would have theoretically reopened. AMC as of Thursday is planning to reopen in "mid-to-late August," although as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, another delay may be inevitable. If AMC's theaters reopen by September, they presumably will not show Bill & Ted, since the chain requires an exclusive window.

The good news for consumers, though, is that everyone will be able to rock on with Bill and Ted from the comfort of their own homes on Sept. 1. Brendan Morrow

July 13, 2020

A new study finds that due to job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, an estimated 5.4 million Americans had their health insurance dropped between February and May.

The analysis was conducted by Families U.S.A., a nonpartisan consumer advocacy group, and will be released on Tuesday. During the recession of 2008 and 2009, 3.9 million adults lost their health insurance, and study author Stan Dorn told The New York Times he knew the current numbers "would be big. This is the worst economic downturn since World War II. It dwarfs the Great Recession. So it's not surprising that we would see the worst increase in the uninsured."

The study looked at laid-off adults younger than 65, when Americans become eligible for Medicare, and found that people in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and North Carolina accounted for 46 percent of coverage losses from the pandemic. In 13 states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, 43 percent of laid-off workers became uninsured, nearly double the amount in the 37 states that did expand Medicaid. Catherine Garcia

June 22, 2020

The area around Stonehenge is one of the most-studied archaeological landscapes in the world, which makes it all the more surprising that a team of archaeologists made one of the most striking finds in recent memory about 2 miles northeast of the famed prehistoric monument, The Guardian reports.

The uncovered area, which dates back around 4,500 years, is a 1.2-mile circle of deep shafts surrounding the likely sacred Neolithic henge monument known as Durrington Walls that reportedly sits precisely at the center. All told, archaeologists are describing the structure as the largest ever found in Britain. "This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the U.K.," said Prof. Vincent Gaffney, a leading archaeologist on the project. "Key researchers on Stonehenge and its landscape have been taken aback by the scale of the structure and the fact that it hadn't been discovered until now so close to Stonehenge."

The reason the shafts escaped notice for so long was because they had filled naturally over thousands of years, and were dismissed as natural sinkholes and dew ponds. But the latest technology helped show they were actually geophysical anomalies.

The Durrington Shafts discovery will shed light on the Neolithic communities' belief systems and also reportedly offers the first evidence that the early inhabitants of Britain had developed a counting method since constructing something of this size — the shafts are are each more than five meters deep and 10 meters in diameter — such careful positioning suggests the builders were tracking their paces. Placing each shaft would reportedly have required walking approximately 800 meters from the henge to the boundary. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

March 18, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gave Republican senators a stark warning on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News, saying that if the government doesn't step in to offer economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. unemployment could reach 20 percent.

Mnuchin was trying to get support for his $1 trillion economic stimulus proposal, aimed at providing financial assistance to small businesses and wage workers. While meeting with lawmakers, Mnuchin also shared his thinking that the coronavirus could cause an economic fallout worse than the 2008 financial crisis, Bloomberg reports.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Monica Crowley said while speaking to the senators, Mnuchin "used several mathematical examples for illustrative purposes, but he never implied this would be the case."

Earlier Tuesday, Mnuchin said the Trump administration is "looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," because they "need cash now." Catherine Garcia

January 14, 2020

Text messages made public on Tuesday between Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, and Robert Hyde, a donor to President Trump now running for a House seat in Connecticut, deeply disturbed former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah.

Parnas provided the texts to lawmakers as part of the impeachment inquiry. They show that last March, Parnas and Hyde discussed then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch's movements in Kyiv, including when she was at the U.S. Embassy, when her computer and phone were off, and her security situation.

Politico's Natasha Bertrand tweeted, "This certainly makes it sound like Parnas and Co. were actively tracking Yovanovitch's movements," to which Rocah responded, "As a former mafia prosecutor, this sure sounds like a mob hit was being planned on a public servant in a foreign country by associates of the POTUS. A POTUS who said she was 'going through some things.' This takes Trump's lawlessness & misogyny to new level."

Rocah is referring to Trump telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July that Yovanovitch was "going to go through some things." In April, Yovanovitch received a call from the State Department, warning there were concerns about her safety. She was recalled in May.

After the text messages were released, Yovanovitch's lawyer Lawrence Robbins issued a statement, saying, "Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing. We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation." Catherine Garcia

November 14, 2019

SpongeBob is ready to get in on the Keanussance.

The first trailer debuted Thursday for next year's The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and there's really no other way to put this: the movie features Keanu Reeves as a tumbleweed. Look out for that box office record, Avengers: Endgame.

Reeves is following in the grand SpongeBob tradition of actors inexplicably showing up in live-action, as when a shirtless David Hasselhoff appeared out of absolutely nowhere near the end of the original SpongeBob SquarePants Movie because, hey, why not? Presumably, Reeves' role is similarly minor, although with at least one SpongeBob spinoff reportedly headed to Netflix, one can only assume a tumblereeves-centric series is under consideration.

This also continues Reeves' apparent love for random cameos after he surprisingly showed up in Netflix's Always Be My Maybe earlier this year. What other films on the horizon could be hiding inexplicable Keanu roles up their sleeves? Sonic the Hedgehog? Godzilla vs. Kong? The Conjuring 3? Only time will tell. Brendan Morrow

July 6, 2019

The Los Angeles Clippers put a bow on the NBA's wild offseason on Friday evening.

The franchise reportedly agreed to a four-year max contract worth $141 million with NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, while also trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and a haul of future draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for All-Star Paul George. George and Leonard, who are both from the Los Angeles area, reportedly wanted to play together.

The Clippers, who made a surprising run to the playoffs last year, add two of the game's best two-way players to an already talented roster that includes Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly, and Montrezl Harrell.

Leonard's decision to sign with the Clippers is bad news for the other Los Angeles franchise. The Lakers were also trying to sign the superstar to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Leonard also spurned the Toronto Raptors, with whom he only played one season, albeit one that resulted in a championship. Toronto could now pivot toward a rebuilding effort.

George's departure from Oklahoma City was somewhat of a surprise considering he signed a long-term deal with the franchise last offseason to play alongside Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are now overflowing with draft picks and future building blocks, but their status as a contender has seemingly taken a hit in the present day, though Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander should help lessen the blow of losing George. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

July 2, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin pulled out of a planned event centered on tourism on Tuesday after receiving word that 14 Russian sailors were killed when a fire broke out on Monday in a submersible research vessel. It was the worst naval incident in Russia in a decade.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the sailors died from smoke inhalation. It is unclear exactly when on Monday the fire broke out and when the deaths were first reported to Russian officials like Putin.

The vessel, designed for deep-sea exploration to study the ocean floor, is reportedly linked to a secret nuclear submarine project, and crew members were reportedly performing biometric measurements in Russian territorial waters.

The Defense Ministry did not give any details about the cause of the incident, though the vessel is reportedly now at the Russian Northern Fleet's Severomorsk base in the Murmansk region on the Barents Sea coast in the northernmost reaches of the country, above the Arctic Circle. An investigation into the cause of the fire is reportedly underway, though a military expert who spoke anonymously with Agence France-Presse said that it's unlikely the fire happened during scientific research. "Usually it's a cover for different type of work conducted on the seabed," like laying cables, the expert said.

The incident is the latest in a string of disasters experienced by Russia's navy, Agence France-Presse reports. AFP adds that Monday's incident is particularly reminiscent of the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000 that caused 118 deaths. Tim O'Donnell

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