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Jen Psaki Gets Testy With Mara Liasson Over Covid Testing: ‘Should We Just Send Them to Every American?’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson (SHS 1973) had a fiery back-and-forth during the press briefing on Monday.

Psaki addresses a multitude of issues that President Joe Biden’s administration is currently facing including the announcement of a U.S. diplomatic boycott from the 2022 Beijing Olympics, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and her office’s viral tweet that stirred some controversy.

Liasson asked a question that shifted the focus towards the administration’s efforts to quell the spread of Covid-19, which is posing an urgent threat with the Omicron Variant’s arrival.

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Sorkin about a revolution: Why no one writes geniuses quite like Aaron Sorkin

Think of an Aaron Sorkin (SHS 1979) production and several things spring to mind. Zinging dialogue, yes. A cheesy orchestral flourish, perhaps? A fist-pumping denouement? Certainly. The writer-director’s name has almost become an adjective, its own distinct sub-genre. Not Lynchian, or Hitchcockian, but Sorkinian. In Sorkin’s breakthrough film, 1992’s A Few Good Men, there was Tom Cruise vs Jack Nicholson (”You can’t handle the truth!”). There was the rat-a-tat political drama ofThe West Wing, perhaps Sorkin’s crowning achievement. There was Mark Zuckerberg, as played by Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, speaking at breakneck speed, his sentences swathed in cold erudition, stressing the importance of "final clubs". And there were the swelling strings at the climax of The Trial of the Chicago 7, when the protesters are acquitted.

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Tovah Feldshuh (SHS 1966) in Becoming Dr. Ruth

Six-time Tony- and Emmy-nominated actor Tovah Feldshuh returns to the stage in New York City after eight years this December in the tour-de-force theatrical show, Becoming Dr. Ruth. The one-woman show, written by Mark St. Germain, follows a sold-out run at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor this summer and is presented Off-Broadway at Edmond J. Safra Hall at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

The limited-run show begins previews on Saturday, December 4 and opens Thursday, December 16 through Sunday, January 2, 2022, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage's newly renovated, state-of-the-art theater in Battery Park City.

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Chegg to Enter Rapidly Expanding Digital Language Learning Market with Acquisition of Busuu

The leading student-first connected learning platform, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Busuu, one of the leading language learning platforms which has reached over 120 million learners to date across more than 160 countries. Busuu provides courses in 12 different languages to over 500,000 paying subscribers.

"The addition of Busuu gives Chegg the unique opportunity to expand our business while also adding tremendous value to our existing users," said Dan Rosensweig, President and CEO of Chegg. "It will allow us to drive further into international markets, as well as accelerate Busuu’s growth in the US market. Busuu’s team, who we have known for many years, are a great cultural fit. 

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Hotter Summer Days Mean More Sierra Nevada Wildfires, Study Finds

The research adds to a growing body of work finding that climate change is increasing fire risk in California and elsewhere in the West.

The hottest summer days in the Sierra Nevada in California greatly increase the risk that wildfires will ignite or spread, and as the planet keeps warming the risks will increase even more, scientists said Wednesday.

The research, which examined daily temperatures and data from nearly 450 Sierra Nevada fires from 2001 to 2020 and projected the analysis into the future, found that the number of fires could increase by about 20 percent or more by the 2040s, and that the total burned area could increase by about 25 percent or more.

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How NFTs Will Kill Netflix

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Aaron Sorkin Talks Going Beyond Impersonation in ‘Being the Ricardos’: “A Painting and Not a Photograph”

Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem and writer-director Aaron Sorkin (SHS 1979) made one of their first public appearances in support of their new film Being the Ricardos on Saturday night, hosting a screening and Q&A at the Bruin Theater in Westwood.

The trio were also joined by costars J.K. Simmons, Tony Hale and Nina Arianda as they reflected on the film, which looks inside the world of I Love Lucy and Hollywood power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

 

Kidman, who takes on the role of Ball, admitted she had “massive trepidation about a month prior and Aaron had to get on the phone and send me some emails saying, ‘You got this’ and he had to champion me through,” adding that the whole cast was “really championing each other through the whole show because it was frightening, but incredibly exciting.”

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The Films That Could Shake Up the Oscar Race

While the traditional fall festival circuits have produced a number of strong contenders for the next Academy Awards, there are more question marks than usual for this time of year. Part of this is due to the pandemic, which forced many high-end films to delay in 2020 and early 2021 as most theaters were closed for safety concerns, leading to a backlog of titles arriving in November and, most notably, in December.

Before we get there, where does the Academy Award race for Best Picture stand? Heading that list for now is “Belfast,” given that director/writer/producer Kenneth Branagh’s ode to his childhood that was disrupted by the “troubles” in Northern Ireland won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The nine previous winners of the prize have gone on to secure a spot on the list of titles competing for Oscar’s top prize

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Supreme Court conservatives are skeptical on spiritual advisers in death chamber

The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the subject of religious rights today, this time in the context of death row inmates who have asked that their spiritual adviser in the death chamber be able to pray and touch the condemned. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

NINA TOTENBERG (SHS 1962), BYLINE: The subject of spiritual advisers in the death chamber has at times divided the court's conservative supermajority. And it's also at times embarrassed the court as minority religious advisers turned out to sometimes have been excluded from the death chamber.

Today's case involved John Ramirez, sentenced to die for stabbing to death a father of nine during a convenience store robbery while on a drug binge. Four years ago, he claims, he got religion. And since then, his execution date has been postponed four times as the courts and the state of Texas have wrestled with his desire to have his Baptist pastor with him in the death chamber and able to pray and touch his foot.

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Satellites Could Help Track if Nations Keep Their Carbon Pledges

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming, nations must measure and report progress toward their pledged reductions in emissions. They regularly submit greenhouse gas inventories, detailing emission sources as well as removals, or sinks, of the gases within their borders. These are then reviewed by technical experts.

The accounting process is intended to ensure transparency and build trust, but it takes time and the numbers can be far from precise.

But what if changes in emissions of the main planet-warming gas, carbon dioxide, could be reported more accurately and rapidly? That could be extremely useful as the world seeks to limit warming.

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