Mayo Clinic: Early signs of testicular cancer often noticeable

first_imgDEAR MAYO CLINIC: Are there ever early signs of testicular cancer? If so, what are they? What treatments are available?ANSWER: Yes, there are early signs of testicular cancer that are often noticeable, particularly when males do regular testicular self-exams. Identifying testicular cancer in its early stages is important because, as with many kinds of cancer, the sooner it is detected, the better the chance for successful treatment.Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles, which are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. When compared with other types of cancer, testicular cancer is rare. But in the United States, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 and 34.The most common early sign of testicular cancer is a firm lump within or enlargement of a testicle. These nodules or masses are usually painless. To catch testicular cancer in its earliest stages, I recommend that my patients get in the habit of performing testicular self-exams once a month. A good time to do this is during or after a shower because the heat from the water relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to find anything unusual.The testicles are usually smooth, oval and somewhat firm. It is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other. Also, the cord leading upward from the top of the testicle is a normal structure within the scrotum. If you notice any new lumps or bumps, or any other changes during a self-exam, make an appointment to have them evaluated by your doctor. Blood tests, imaging exams such as ultrasound and other diagnostic tests can help your doctor determine if a lump may be testicular cancer.Fortunately, even when cancer has spread, testicular cancer often responds well to treatment and, in most cases, a cure is possible. But if you notice any changes in a testicle, particularly new lumps or enlargement, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.– R. Houston Thompson, M.D., Urology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.last_img read more

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Smart Spending: Get your groove on, on a budget

first_imgNEW YORK | As the air gets warmer and spring blossoms, the season of music festivals is upon us. From Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee in June to Lollapalooza in Chicago in August, music lovers across the country will soon begin to flocking to festivals, which can draw hundreds of thousands of fans.It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and spend a bundle, on everything from tickets to accommodations to bottles of water. But with a little foresight, it’s easy to cut down on excess spending and enjoy the music and excitement without breaking the bank.BEFORE YOU GO: Tickets are usually pricey, but If you plan enough in advance, you can at least shave off a little money and buy with early-bird discounts. For cheaper rates, consider if you want to buy a day pass or two instead of a full festival pass.Camping is the cheapest lodging option of course. But if that isn’t an option, or if you prefer to stay at a hotel, book your hotel first, before your airfare, recommends Andrew Young, editorial director, North America of travel site Travelzoo. The cheapest hotel rooms book up quickly, and flights can be more flexible.Also make sure to check for a secondary airport in the region of the festival that might have cheaper fares. And if you have a day or two to spare for your vacation, come a day early and leave a day late, when airfare will likely be cheaper, Young says.The more information you have, the more likely you are to make smart spending choices. Download the festival’s own app as well as apps like Festival Ready, which includes navigation and weather forecasts. Yelp and travel apps like Travelzoo or Expedia can also help you find your way around or get last-minute discounts on spots around town.Carpooling is one of the best ways to save, Young says, and there are even some hidden benefits when festivals seek to reward carpoolers. At Coachella earlier this month, for example, carpoolers with four or more people in the car could print out a sign for their dashboard that said “Carpoolchella,” and were entered into a contest that could result in winning VIP tickets to Coachella for life and other prizes. Check with the festival you’re attending to see if it does anything similar.AT THE FESTIVAL: If you’re committed to saving cash, consider volunteering. That has the obvious advantage of getting you into the festival free, but make sure you consider the drawbacks, Young says.“Those lists often fill up quick, and depending on what’s involved, you may see the festival from a distance, but you may get a little bit of off time,” he says. “Whether you volunteer depends on what your willingness is to work during the festival.”The biggest money drain can be things that you could have brought if you’d just prepared in advance. Water is a big one. It can cost several dollars a bottle, and when you’re out all day in the scorching heat, that can add up. Bring your own water, or if the festival does not allow that, bring a water bottle or CamelBak. Most festivals are required to offer free drinkable water, though it might be well water that doesn’t taste the greatest.Bringing snacks if the festival allows that can save a lot of dough, too. And make sure you have essentials like sunscreen and a hat, so you don’t have to buy them at the festival at a markup. Young recommends buddying up with fellow festivalgoers and dividing up what to bring, so you don’t end up with seven bottles of sunscreen but no Band-Aids.Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

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Pharrell set for 1st iHeartRadio Music Awards

first_imgWhat color hat will Pharrell wear this time?Pharrell Williams performs at the Sprint Sound Sessions event at Webster Hall on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)The “Happy” singer is set to perform at the first iHeartRadio Music Awards on Thursday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Rihanna, Diddy and Jennifer Lopez will attend, and A-list acts from Drake to Blake Shelton will hit the stage.The three-hour, fan-voted show will air live on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern.While there are trophies, the performances will be the night’s main highlight. Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, Shakira, Ed Sheeran and Arcade Fire are also part of the jam-packed line-up, which will include performances from L.A. venues including the Shrine, the Roxy and the Hotel Cafe.Rihanna will battle the boys for artist of the year. Nominees include Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Imagine Dragons.Presenters include Gwen Stefani, Lionel Richie, Selena Gomez and Juanes, while Lady Gaga and Katy Perry will make “special appearances,” though it’s not clear if they are attending.Rihanna is also nominated for song of the year. Her slow tune “Stay” will compete with Eminem’s “The Monster” — where she’s featured — as well as Pitbull and Kesha’s “Timber” and “Suit & Tie” and “Holy Grail” from Timberlake and Jay Z.Lorde, Imagine Dragons and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — who all won Grammys in their debut years — will compete for best new artist. Florida Georgia Line, Icona Pop and Passenger are also nominated in the latter category.Clear Channel’s iHeartMusic Awards will also include performances by Pitbull, Luke Bryan and Thirty Seconds to Mars.last_img read more

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APNewsBreak: Medicare bought meds for dead people

first_imgWASHINGTON | Call it drugs for the departed: Medicare’s prescription program kept paying for costly medications even after patients were dead.The problem was traced back to a head-scratching bureaucratic rule that’s now getting a second look.A report coming out Friday from the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general says the Medicare rule allows payment for prescriptions filled up to 32 days after a patient’s death — at odds with the program’s basic principles, not to mention common sense.“Drugs for deceased beneficiaries are clearly not medically indicated, which is a requirement for (Medicare) coverage,” the IG report said. It urged immediate changes to eliminate or restrict the payment policy.Medicare said it’s working on a fix.Investigators examined claims from 2012 for a tiny sliver of Medicare drugs — medications to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS — and then cross-referenced them with death records. They found that the program paid for drugs for 158 beneficiaries after they were already dead. The cost to taxpayers: $292,381, an average of $1,850 for each beneficiary.Medicare’s “current practices allowed most of these payments to occur,” the report said.Of 348 prescriptions dispensed for the dead beneficiaries, nearly half were filled more than a week after the patient died. Sometimes multiple prescriptions were filled on behalf of a single dead person.Investigators don’t know what happened to the medications obtained on behalf of dead people, but some may have been diverted to the underground market for prescription medicines. The report said HIV drugs can be targets for fraud since they can be very expensive; one common HIV drug costs about $1,700 for a month’s supply, it said.Medicare is the government’s premier health insurance program, providing coverage to about 55 million seniors and disabled people. Prescription coverage delivered through private insurance plans began in 2006 as a major expansion of the program. But it’s also been a target for scams.The report did not estimate the potential financial impact across the $85 billion-a-year Medicare prescription program known as Part D. But investigators believe the waste may add up to millions of dollars.“The exposure for the entire Part D program could be significant,” said Miriam Anderson, team leader on the report. “The payment policy is the same for all drugs, whether they are $2,000 drugs to treat HIV or $4 generic drugs.”In a formal response, Medicare agreed with the investigators’ recommendations.“After reviewing this report, (Medicare) has had preliminary discussions with the industry to revisit the need for a 32-day window,” wrote Marilyn Tavenner, the Obama administration’s Medicare chief.Medicare had originally maintained that the date of service listed in the billing records could instead reflect when a pharmacy submitted bills for payment. That billing date might have actually occurred after a prescription was filled, since some nursing home and institutional pharmacies submit their bills in monthly bundles.However, the inspector general’s investigators found that about 80 percent of the prescriptions for dead beneficiaries were filled at neighborhood pharmacies, undercutting Medicare’s first explanation. As for the remainder, the investigators said they didn’t see any reason pharmacies can’t report an accurate date of service.Investigators said they stumbled on the problem during an examination of coverage for AIDS drugs dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries. Sexually transmitted diseases are an increasingly recognized problem among older people.That earlier investigation raised questions about expensive medications billed on behalf of nearly 1,600 Medicare recipients.Some had no HIV diagnosis in their records, but they were prescribed the drugs anyway. Others were receiving excessively large supplies of medications. Several were getting prescriptions filled from an unusually large number of pharmacies.Prescription drug fraud has many angles. When the high price of a drug puts it out of reach for certain patients, it can create an underground market. And some medications, like painkillers and anti-anxiety pills, are constantly sought after by people with substance-abuse issues.___last_img read more

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Police union threatens ‘surprise’ for Quentin Tarantino

first_imgNEW YORK | The executive director of the largest police union in the country is threatening a “surprise” for Quentin Tarantino after the director drew its ire for comments about police brutality.Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police told the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that the union has something planned for Tarantino and that “the element of the surprise is the most important element.”“The time and place will come up and we’ll try to hurt him the only way that seems to matter to him, and that’s economically,” said Pasco. He said this event could happen anytime between now and the premiere of “The Hateful Eight,” which opens Christmas Day.Numerous police groups have said they’ll boycott the film after Tarantino attended an anti-police brutality rally in October where said he was protesting “murder” and was there to demonstrate that he’s “on the side of the murdered.”New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association boss Pat Lynch called Tarantino a “cop-hater.” Texas Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican, called Tarantino’s comments “idiotic” and said they “encourage mischief and crimes against peace officers.”Tarantino, who didn’t immediately return messages on Pasco’s pledge, has defended his remarks and insisted he’s not “anti-police.” Appearing on MSBNC on Wednesday, Tarantino said that police, by feuding with him, are obscuring “the fact that the citizenry has lost trust in (police).”“Anybody who acknowledges that there’s a problem in law enforcement in this country right now is considered by law enforcement part of the problem — whether that be me, whether that be (New York Mayor) Bill de Blasio, whether that be President Barack Obama,” said Tarantino.Messages left with Pasco for further comment on the union’s plans were not immediately returned Friday.last_img read more

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Firefighters sue siren maker over their hearing loss

first_imgNEW YORK | There were times by the end of his shift that firefighter Joseph Nardone’s head would be pounding, his eyes crossing from the noise of the siren on his truck.“The siren was so loud inside the cab that it actually physically hurt,” said the former New York City fire battalion chief. Even though he’s been retired for over a decade, he said, the effects of the sirens linger in hearing loss that has left him unable to understand rapid conversation or follow along in church. Nardone is among about 4,400 current and former firefighters nationwide who are suing Federal Signal Corp., an Oak Brook, Illinois-based company that makes sirens, claiming it didn’t do enough to make them safer for those on fire trucks who have to listen to them nearly every day.They say the company could have designed them in a way that directs the volume away from areas where firefighters sit in the engines, shielding them from sound blasts that lawyers say reach 120 decibels, roughly equivalent to a rock concert. Said the 73-year-old Nardone: “The manufacturer had the means and ability to do something about it and they didn’t.”Federal Signal argues that directing the sound defeats one of the main purposes of a siren — to warn motorists and pedestrians that a truck is coming. And it says it has long supported what many departments have advised its firefighters to do: wear ear protection.The lawsuits, which began surfacing more than a decade ago, have been in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey and the Chicago area, said attorney Marc Bern, who’s leading all the lawsuits. In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said juries have decided in favor of Federal Signal in most of the half-dozen or so suits that have gone to trial.The company also has settled in some cases without admitting any wrongdoing. The largest settlement, reached in 2011, required the company to pay $3.6 million to 1,069 firefighters for cases filed in Philadelphia.Bern said Federal Signal could have made the sirens with a shroud to warn those in its path instead of a more generalized blare.“Clearly, you don’t have to have sound going all the way to the rear of the fire engine,” he said. “If you’re driving behind a fire engine and you don’t see a 50-foot-long, red … engine with lights going on and off, there’s really something wrong.”David Duffy, attorney for Federal Signal, said making the sirens more directed would put firefighters and the public at greater risk.“Firefighters have testified that they want a loud siren that projects noise to the front and sides of fire trucks,” he said. Accidents often involve vehicles that hit fire trucks from behind, necessitating a loud noise in all directions, he said.Duffy also noted that firefighting organizations have for three decades advocated use of earplugs or ear coverings to reduce the risk of hearing loss from sirens or other noises in the course of their firefighting duties, “of which there are many.”The Fire Department of New York wasn’t able to immediately provide information on its policies on noise or whether earplugs or coverings are provided or required.Duffy said studies measuring the level of noise firefighters are exposed to during their work shifts, including sirens, is on average below 85 decibels.Federal standards take into account the intensity of the sound and the duration. The higher the decibel level, the shorter the time workers can be exposed to it.Rick Neitzel, who studies noise and other exposures at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said the standards are geared to traditional jobs like manufacturing, not firefighting, where shifts can last for longer and the exposure is intermittent but intense.“A lot of the questions now are: Is the current recommended level appropriate for exposure that a firefighter would have? And I would say we’re not entirely sure,” he said.Dr. Lawrence Lustig, a hearing loss expert at Columbia University Medical Center, said people have different levels of susceptibility. Some research involving animals seems to imply that noise exposure in early years leads to more rapid age-related hearing loss, he said.Retired Bronx firefighter Frank Bazzicalupo was exposed early. He joined the FDNY in his 20s and stayed for 25 years. The 61-year-old spent the last decade or so of that career driving fire trucks before retiring in 2002, hearing the sirens blaring overhead.These days, trying to hear in any environment that has background noise is an exercise in frustration.“On a plane is the worst,” he said. “I hear the engines roaring; I can’t hear the person next to me.”Follow Deepti Hajela at twitter.com/dhajela. Her work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/deepti-hajela In this March 12, 2014, file photo, firefighters respond to a fire after an explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York. About 4,400 current and retired firefighters with hearing loss have filed suits against a company that makes sirens, saying too-loud sounds have cost them their hearing, and the manufacturer should have included equipment that could have directed the sound. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)center_img In this Jan. 28, 2014, file photo, a New York City firefighter jumps on a firetruck that just exited a Manhattan firehouse on the way to an emergency call in New York. About 4,400 current and retired firefighters with hearing loss have filed suits against a company that makes sirens, saying too-loud sounds have cost them their hearing, and the manufacturer should have included equipment that could have directed the sound. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)last_img read more

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Solar-powered plane’s latest leg: Ohio to Pennsylvania

first_imgDAYTON, Ohio | A solar-powered airplane has taken off from the Ohio hometown of America aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright on the latest leg of its journey around the world.FILE – In this April 23, 2016 file photo, Solar Impulse 2 lands at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., completing the leg of its journey from Hawaii in its attempt to circumnavigate the globe. A solar-powered airplane that landed in Oklahoma last week is headed to Ohio on the latest leg of its around-the-world journey. The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 took off from Tulsa International Airport about 5 a.m. Saturday, May 21, 2016, with a destination of Dayton, Ohio. The flight was expected to take about 18 hours.(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 took off from Dayton International Airport just after 4 a.m. Wednesday with a destination of Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The flight was expected to take about 17 hours.The aircraft’s most recent journey came last weekend, when it traveled from Tulsa International Airport to Dayton. The plane’s departure from Dayton was delayed from Monday as project officials checked for possible damage after fans that keep the mobile hangar inflated had a power failure.The plane was expected to make at least one more stop in the United States — in New York — before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Europe or northern Africa.The globe-circling voyage began in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.The Solar Impulse 2’s wings, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.Ideal flight speed is about 28 mph, although that can double during the day when the sun’s rays are strongest.The plane had a five-day trip from Japan to Hawaii The crew was forced to stay in Oahu, Hawaii, for nine months after the plane’s battery system sustained heat damage on its trip from Japan.Solar Impulse 2 then had a three-day trip from Hawaii to California’s Silicon Valley. Since then, it has made trips from northern California to Phoenix, Arizona, then on to Tulsa, Oklahoma, before heading to Ohio.Project officials say the layovers give the two Swiss pilots — Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg — a chance to swap places and engage with local communities along the way so they can explain the project, which is estimated to cost more than $100 million.The solar project began in 2002 to highlight the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation.last_img read more

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US to exempt journalists, aid workers from NKorea travel ban

first_img FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2016 file photo, American student Otto Warmbier speaks as Warmbier is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. U.S. officials say the Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea following the death of university student Otto Warmbier, who passed away after falling into a coma into a North Korean prison. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon) WASHINGTON | The Trump administration will allow American journalists, Red Cross employees and other humanitarian workers to apply for exemptions to a ban on travel to North Korea that is set to take effect in early September.In documents posted online Tuesday, the State Department said that in addition to journalists and aid workers, Americans whose travel to North Korea “is otherwise in the national interest” will be considered for exemptions. The new regulations are to be published on Wednesday in the Federal Register, which posted the preview documents on its website. The travel ban will take effect on Sept. 1, 30 days after publication. The exemptions are contained in documents that will accompany a formal announcement of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s determination to ban U.S. citizens from traveling to North Korea. The State Department announced last month that Tillerson had decided to impose a “geographical travel restriction” on the use of U.S. passports to visit North Korea following the death in June of American university student Otto Warmbier, who fell into a coma while in North Korean custody.“The Department of State has determined that the serious risk to United States nationals of arrest and long-term detention represents imminent danger to the physical safety of United States nationals traveling to and within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” says the Federal Register notice signed by Tillerson. “Therefore … all United States passports are declared invalid for travel to, in or through the DPRK unless specially validated for such travel.”Violating the ban, which is authorized under the Passport Act of 1972 and will be in effect for one year unless revoked earlier, is a felony and punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison for a first offense.Publication of the exemption rules opens a 21-day period for the public to offer comments, although the administration is expected to go ahead with them regardless of opposition.Under the proposal, American professional journalists, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and American Red Cross, as well as Americans whose travel “is justified by compelling humanitarian considerations” or is “otherwise in the national interest” may apply for a special validation to use their U.S. passport to visit North Korea. The validation would apply to one round trip to the country.The department said it estimates that about 100 Americans per year would apply for the exemption. Applicants would have to submit standard personal identification information along with a statement explaining why they meet the exemption criteria supported by documentary evidence, according to the Federal Register notice.The State Department announced on July 21 that Tillerson had decided to go ahead with the ban amid the fallout over Warmbier’s death as well as heightened U.S. concern about Pyongyang’s recent advancements in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.The U.S. already strongly warns Americans against traveling to North Korea but has not until now prohibited trips, despite other sanctions targeting the country. Americans who venture there typically travel from China, where several tour groups market trips to adventure-seekers.Figures on how many Americans visit North Korea are difficult for even the U.S. government to obtain, but organizers of guided tours to the country estimate between 800 and 1,000 visit annually.Nearly all Americans who have gone to North Korea have left without incident. But some have been seized and given draconian sentences for seemingly minor offenses. Over the past decade, at least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained, including Warmbier. He died in June after being medically evacuated in a coma from North Korea.Warmbier suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause while in custody. Relatives said they were told the 22-year-old University of Virginia student had been in a coma since shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea in March 2016. He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster while on a tour of the country.Under U.S. law, the secretary of state has the authority to designate passports as restricted for travel to countries with which the United States is at war, when armed hostilities are in progress, or when there is imminent danger to the public health or physical security of U.S. travelers.Since 1967, such bans have been imposed intermittently on countries including Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Cuba and North Vietnam. Financial restrictions limit U.S. travel to Cuba and elsewhere, but when the regulations go into effect on Sept. 1, North Korea will be the only country where U.S. prohibits its passports for travel.last_img read more

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Making Oscar history, ‘Parasite’ wins best picture — VIDEO

first_imgBong Joon Ho, right, reacts as he is presented with the award for best picture for “Parasite” from presenter Jane Fonda at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Looking on from left are Kang-Ho Song and Kwak Sin Ae.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) —LOS ANGELES  |  In a milestone win that instantly expanded the Oscars’ horizons, Bong Joon Ho’s masterfully devious class satire “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards.“Parasite” took Hollywood’s top prize on Sunday night, along with awards for best director, best international film and best screenplay. In a year dominated by period epics — “1917,” “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood,” “The Irishman” — the film academy instead went overseas, to South Korea, to reward a contemporary and unsettling portrait of social inequality in “Parasite.”True to its name, “Parasite” simply got under the skin of Oscar voters, attaching itself to the American awards season and, ultimately, to history. The win was a watershed moment for the Academy Awards, which has long been content to relegate international films to their own category. But in recent years, to diversify its membership, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has invited many more overseas voters.Multiple standing ovations greeted Bong’s several wins. “I am ready to drink tonight,” Bong said, prompting roars from the crowd. Unexpectedly called up again for best director, Bong saluted his fellow nominees, particularly Martin Scorsese, and concluded: “Now I’m ready to drink until tomorrow.”After the Dolby Theatre had emptied out, the “Parasite” team still remained on the stage, soaking in their win. Backstage, Bong was still gobsmacked. “It’s really f—-ing crazy,” he told reporters, clutching his awards.The victory for “Parasite” — which had echoes of the surprise win by “Moonlight” over “La La Land” three years ago — came in a year when many criticized the lack of diversity in the nominees and the absence of female filmmakers. But the triumph for “Parasite,” the Palme d’Or-winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, enabled Hollywood to flip the script and signal progress, nevertheless. No Korean film had ever won an Oscar before.In doing so, the film academy turned away another history-making event, again denying Netflix its first best-picture win despite two contenders in “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” and a big-spending awards campaign blitz.Sam Mendes’ audaciously conceived World War I film “1917,” made to seem one continuous shot, had been the clear favorite heading into Oscars, having won nearly all the precursor awards, including top honors from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. In the end, “1917” went home with three awards for its technical virtuosity: Roger Deakins’ cinematography, visual effects and sound mixing.All of the acting winners — Brad Pitt, Renée Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix and Laura Dern — went as expected. While Pitt, notching his first acting Oscar, had regaled audiences with one-liners in the run-up to Sunday, he began his comments on a political note.“They told me I have 45 seconds to speak, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said, alluding to the impeachment hearings before mentioning director Quentin Tarantino. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it.”Pitt said the honor had given him reason to reflect on his fairy-tale journey in the film industry, going back to when he moved to Los Angeles from Missouri. “Once upon a time in Hollywood,” said Pitt. “Ain’t that the truth.”Zellweger completed a comeback, winning her second Academy Award for her fragile but indomitable Judy Garland in “Judy.” Dern won for her performance as a divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” Accepting her first Oscar, Dern thanked her in-attendance parents, “my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.”Phoenix, long one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, took best actor for his limber but morose Joker. In his acceptance speech, Phoenix spoke deliberately about a host of issues, including sexism and racism in the film industry, ecological disaster and vegetarianism.“I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times and hard to work with. But so many of you in this room have given me a second chance,” Phoenix said. When people guide each other toward redemption, he added, “that is the best of humanity.”He concluded quoting a lyric of his deceased brother, River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”For the 87th time, no women were nominated for best director this year, a subject that was woven into the entire ceremony — and even into some attendees’ clothing. Natalie Portman wore a cape lined with the names of female filmmakers who weren’t nominated for their direction, including Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and Mati Diop (“Atlantics”).Coming on a rare rainy day in Los Angeles, the ceremony was soggy and song-heavy. Some performances, like Eminem’s performance of “Lose Yourself,” were unexpected (and drew a wan response from Scorsese). All of the song nominees performed, including Elton John who won with his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin for their “Rocketman” tune.The hostless ceremony opened on a note of inclusion, with Janelle Monae performing “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and her own song, “Come Alive,” with an assist from Billy Porter. “I’m so proud to be standing here as a black queer artist telling stories,” Monae said. “Happy Black History Month.”Two former Oscar hosts, Chris Rock and Steve Martin, provided the opening monologue. “An incredible demotion,” Martin called it. Martin also reminded that something was missing from this year’s directing nominees. “Vaginas!” Rock replied.There were milestones beyond “Parasite.” In winning best adapted screenplay for his Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit,” the New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi became the first indigenous director ever to win an Oscar. He dedicated the award to “all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art, dance and write stories.”“We are the original storytellers,” Waititi said.“Joker” composer Hildur Guðnadóttir became only the third woman to ever win best original score. “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music opening within, please speak up,” said Guðnadóttir. “We need to hear your voices.”Awards were spread around to all of the best picture nominees, with the lone exception being Scorsese’s 10-time nominee “The Irishman.” When Bong mentioned his admiration of Scorsese, an impromptu tribute broke out, with the Dolby Theatre giving Scorsese a standing ovation. The car racing throwback “Ford v Ferrari” won both editing and sound editing. Gerwig’s Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women” won for Jacqueline Durran’s costume design. “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” won for Barbara Ling’s production design.Netflix didn’t go home empty handed. Aside from Dern’s win for “Marriage Story,” the streamer’s “American Factory” won best documentary. The film is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.Pixar extended its domination of the best animated film category, winning for “Toy Story 4.” It’s the 10th Pixar film to win the award and second “Toy Story” film to do so, following the previous 2010 installment.It was an early award for the Walt Disney Co., which despite amassing a record $13 billion in worldwide box office last year and owning the network the Oscars are broadcast on, played a minor role in the ceremony. The bulk of its awards came from 20th Century Fox (“Ford v Ferrari”) and Fox Searchlight (“Jojo Rabbit”), both of which the company took control of after its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last year.Disney’s ABC hoped a widely watched field of nominees — including the $1 billion-grossing “Joker” — will help viewership. Last year’s show garnered 29.6 million viewers, a 12% uptick.___AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPlast_img read more

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Amid Moscow lockdown, some dogs find new homes and friends

first_img In this photo taken on Monday, April 27, 2020, volunteer Nadezhda Minyaeva, wearing a face mask and gloves to protect from coronavirus, with Russian pensioner Margarita Donchenko’s dog Sopha leaves a porch of the apartment building for a walk in Moscow, Russia. Donchenko knows how much attention a dog needs and she is glad that when she can’t give her fluffy little black-and-white pooch what she needs, there’s volunteer Nadezhda Minyaeva to show up once a day for a walk. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) MOSCOW | Stuck at home during Moscow’s coronavirus lockdown, Alexandra Novatova opted to use a delivery service — a big decision, because she was ordering more than a pizza or a shipment of toilet paper.She got a dog brought to her door.She chose the mutt, a shepherd mix with a scythe-like curved tail, from a 12-hour online broadcast. Animal shelter volunteers showed dogs and cats to try to match them with humans.The lockdown, which will extend at least through May 12, has been hard on dogs in some ways — their daily walks are supposed to go no farther than 100 meters from home, and owners 65 years and older are told to stay indoors except for buying groceries and medication. But it also has some bright spots.People in isolation, looking for animal companionship, are adopting dogs. And many dogs are making new friends, as volunteers walk the pets of elderly people.“People are spending a lot of time at home during the pandemic. I realized that people now have more free time, they can adopt pets without taking a vacation or arranging extra days off,” said Anastasia Medvedeva, one of the organizers of the online adoption initiative “Happiness Delivered At Home.”“Because when you adopt a pet, you need a certain amount of time for it to become accustomed to its new environment. Now it’s a perfect time to adopt a cat or a dog,” she said.Medvedeva said her project tries to ensure that the animals aren’t adopted just as a temporary salve to the tedium and loneliness of lockdown.“We have quite experienced curators. … They conduct rigorous interviews. We naturally ask: Do you understand what will happen next?” she said.That issue was on Novatova’s mind, too.“The first thing I did was ask myself whether I’m doing this for the time of the pandemic or for life, whether I’ll be able to sit at home with a dog without the ability to take walks outside and get it used to the current situation. I decided that I’m ready for this,” she said outside her apartment, after the dog was delivered.Pensioner Margarita Donchenko knows how much attention a dog needs. And she’s glad when volunteer Nadezhda Minyaeva shows up once a day to give her fluffy little black-and-white pooch a walk.“I saw right away that the dog is crazy about her. As soon as she wakes up, she runs to the door and waits for the doorbell to ring. She waits by her leash for Nadya to come,” she said.“I tell her that Nadya will come soon and she replies with a woof-woof’.’”Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.While nonstop news about the effects of the coronavirus has become commonplace, so, too, are the stories about the kindness of strangers and individuals who have sacrificed for others. “One Good Thing” is an Associated Press series reflecting these acts of kindness.“ In this photo taken on Saturday, April 25, 2020, Anastasia Medvedeva, one of the organizers of the online adoption initiative called “Happiness Delivered At Home”, pets Ratna, about 3 year old hunting dog, left, and Goldy about 6 year mixed toy terrier, prior to an online broadcast to show dogs and cats to try to match them with owners in Moscow, Russia. Medvedeva said her project wants to make sure that the animals aren’t adopted just as a temporary salve to the tedium and loneliness of lockdown. With humans spending all day at home, it’s an opportune period to find the time to acclimate a new dog and an online project is capitalizing on this to match shelter dogs with people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) 1 of 6 In this photo taken on Saturday, April 25, 2020, Alexandra Novatova, left, and Anastasia Medvedeva, one of the organizers of the online adoption initiative called “Happiness Delivered At Home”, both wearing face masks and gloves to protect from coronavirus, pet Barly, the two year old mutt dog at Novatova’s apartment building in Moscow, Russia. Alexandra Novatova opted to use a delivery service a big decision because she was ordering more than a pizza or a shipment of toilet paper. She got a dog brought to her door. With humans spending all day at home, it’s an opportune period to find the time to acclimate a new dog and an online project is capitalizing on this to match shelter dogs with people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)center_img In this photo taken on Saturday, April 25, 2020, Anastasia Medvedeva, one of the organizers of the online adoption initiative called “Happiness Delivered At Home”, sits with Ratna, 3 year old hunting dog, left, and Goldy, 6 year mixed toy terrier, during an online broadcast to show dogs and cats to try to match them with people, in Moscow, Russia. Medvedeva said her project wants to make sure that the animals aren’t adopted just as a temporary salve to the tedium and loneliness of lockdown. With humans spending all day at home, it’s an opportune period to find the time to acclimate a new dog and an online project is capitalizing on this to match shelter dogs with people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Saturday, April 25, 2020, Alexandra Novatova, wearing gloves to protect from coronavirus, pets Barly, her new two year old mutt dog at her apartment building in Moscow, Russia. Alexandra Novatova opted to use a delivery service a big decision because she was ordering more than a pizza or a shipment of toilet paper. She got a dog brought to her door. With humans spending all day at home, it’s an opportune period to find the time to acclimate a new dog and an online project is capitalizing on this to match shelter dogs with people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Monday, April 27, 2020, Russian pensioner Margarita Donchenko’s dog Sopha looks at volunteer Nadezhda Minyaeva while meeting with a neighbor dog during a walk in a courtyard outside of the apartment building in Moscow, Russia. Donchenko knows how much attention a dog needs and she is glad that when she can’t give her fluffy little black-and-white pooch what she needs, there’s volunteer Nadezhda Minyaeva to show up once a day for a walk. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)last_img read more

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