5:20pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

Lady Liberty's Sea-Washed Gates Closed Indefinitely

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:01 pm

The Statue of Liberty survived Sandy unscathed, but Liberty Island remains closed indefinitely as workers remove mud and debris.
Joel Rose NPR

The Statue of Liberty still lifts her lamp beside the golden door, but the island that's home to the iconic statue was severely tempest-tost by Superstorm Sandy. Flood damage inflicted by the storm has closed Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island indefinitely.

On Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made his first visit to the Statue of Liberty since the storm. David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, led the secretary on a walking tour.

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4:25pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Movie Reviews

A 'Hobbit,' Off On His Unhurried Journey

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:01 pm

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) takes a fantastic adventure across Middle-earth in Peter Jackson's prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
James Fisher Warner Bros. Pictures

The Hobbit's path to the screen may have started out as tortuous as a trek through the deadly Helcaraxe, filled with detours (Guillermo del Toro was initially going to direct), marked by conflict (New Zealand labor disputes) and strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles (so many that the filmmakers threatened to move the shoot to Australia).

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4:25pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Sports

With 88 Goals, Lionel Messi Celebrates A Record Year

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:42 am

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi (in dark blue) shoots on Cordoba's goalkeeper Mikel Saizar (left) during the Spanish Copa del Rey football match in Cordoba on Wednesday.
Cristina Quicler AFP/Getty Images

Stop anyone on the street in Europe, Latin America, Africa and even Asia, and chances are they'll know the name Lionel Messi — and they'll probably know what he did this week. The soccer phenom scored his 88th goal of the year, which is widely thought to be a world record.

And the year's not over yet.

On Sunday, Messi, 25, scored his 86th goal of the calendar year in a Spanish league game against Real Betis, in Seville. The goal, Messi's second of the game, gave Barcelona a 2-1 win over Betis, with the announcer booming, "A new goal king!"

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Ella Taylor is a free-lance film critic, book reviewer and feature writer living in Los Angeles.

Born in Israel and raised in London, Taylor taught media studies at the University of Washington in Seattle; her book Prime Time Families: Television Culture in Post-War America was published by the University of California Press.

Taylor has written for Village Voice Media, the LA Weekly, The New York Times, Elle magazine and other publications, and was a regular contributor to KPCC-Los Angeles' weekly film-review show FilmWeek.

4:03pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Movie Reviews

Fighting For Their Family, One Day At A Time

When a boy with Down syndrome (Isaac Leyva) is abandoned by his mother, a neighbor couple (Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming) takes him in.
Music Box Films

It would take a heart of stone — or zero tolerance for soap — to resist Any Day Now, a full-throttle weepie about a West Hollywood gay couple trying to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome.

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3:33pm

Thu December 13, 2012
National Security

Chronology: The Benghazi Attack And The Fallout

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:31 am

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11.
AFP/Getty Images

A look at the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and the controversy that followed.

Before The Attack: February 2011-Sept. 10, 2012

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3:29pm

Thu December 13, 2012
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Speed Camera Nabs Car Sitting At Red Light

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 5:54 pm

A screengrab of the video a speed-camera sent to driver Daniel Doty shows his car idling at a red light. Doty received a $40 fine for speeding.
Baltimore Sun

When most drivers get a ticket from a speed-zone camera, there's little they can do but pay the fine. After all, the ticket often includes photographic proof that their car was over the limit. But a Maryland driver is fighting his $40 fine precisely because of what the photos show: his car, sitting at a red light.

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3:27pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Music Interviews

Cooking Up Holiday Songs From Scratch

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:01 pm

Left to right: Seth Jabour, Amy Carlson and Syd Butler of Office Romance. The group's new EP is called I Love the Holidays.
Courtesy of the artist

3:25pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Business

HSBC Critic: Too Big To Indict May Mean Too Big To Exist

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 7:01 pm

HSBC has agreed to pay $1.92 billion to settle a multiyear U.S. criminal probe into money-laundering lapses at the British lender, the largest penalty ever paid by a bank.
Edgard Garrido Landov/Reuters

Federal and state authorities have received criticism after deciding not to indict HSBC on accusations that it laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and conducted prohibited transactions on behalf of countries like Iran and Sudan. Instead, they entered into a $1.9 billion settlement this week with the bank.

There's no question that HSBC is a massive, sprawling operation. It markets itself as the world's local bank. But watchdogs of the banking industry say mere size should never insulate an organization from the law.

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3:24pm

Thu December 13, 2012
The Two-Way

Gravity Never Sleeps, And Other Lessons Nations Learn From Space Programs

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 3:51 pm

This picture received from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday shows an orbit image of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, being monitored on a large screen at a satellite control center in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in North Korea.
AFP/Getty Images

Sputnik 1 just beeped. China's first satellite, launched more than a decade later, simply radioed a communist anthem back to Earth. So far, North Korea's first satellite appears to be less accomplished.

And that shouldn't be a surprise.

Given the history of first orbital space shots, North Korea's apparent struggle with its mission is fairly typical, says David Akin, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.

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