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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) answers questions from the press on June 16 in Orlando after paying his respects to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. (Joshua Lim/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday he will seek reelection to the Senate, reversing a pledge he made a year ago to either assume the presidency or return to private life in Florida. The decision instantly transforms an already competitive race and improves Republicans’ chances of maintaining the Senate majority.

Rubio (R-Fla.) issued a lengthy statement explaining his decision to reverse course, citing the Senate’s power to “act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president” as a central reason.

“Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida,” he said. “That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

His entry into the race comes shortly before a Friday deadline for candidate filings and after weeks of pressure from national GOP figures who urged Rubio to reconsider his frequently repeated intention to either become president or a “private citizen” come 2017.

Those entreaties were rooted in blunt political reality: Rubio, with his near-universal name recognition and proven fundraising capacity, would give Republicans their best chance of winning the swing-state seat and, perhaps, retaining the Senate majority.

“I think it moves Florida from a likely loss to an almost certain pickup, and so it’s not only important to Florida, it has a huge impact on our ability to hold the majority,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who played a leading role in persuading Rubio to run, said on Wednesday.

Josh Holmes, a political consultant who is close to McConnell, said Rubio’s decision will allow national Republican groups to shift resources to other competitive races across the country.

“It is hard to overstate how important this development is for every Republican-held seat, given that this could take the most expensive state to defend entirely off the map,” Holmes said. “This is a massive win for Florida, America and the Grand Old Party.”

The decision to continue his career in elective politics comes barely three months after Rubio, 45, ended his presidential campaign after an embarrassing loss in his home-state primary, finishing nearly 20 points behind Donald Trump and winning only one county outright — his home base of Miami-Dade. But the handful of candidates seeking to succeed him in the Senate each struggled to break out as Rubio sent a series of signals that he might be willing to seek reelection.

Trump was among those encouraging Rubio to run, tweeting: “Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) repeatedly denied he would run for Senate again in 2016, but on June 22, he reversed course. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

But Rubio said in his statement that his decision to run was motivated as much by his concerns about Trump as by his concerns about presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“No matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry,” he said. Clinton would mean “four more years of the same failed economic policies” and “the same failed foreign policy,” he said. And if Trump is elected, he continued, “we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.”

Rubio, who is expected to mount another presidential campaign as soon as 2020, first publicly acknowledged he was rethinking his decision last Wednesday, when he told reporters as he entered a Capitol Hill briefing on the Orlando terrorist attack, “I take very seriously everything that’s going on — not just Orlando but in our country.”

[Marco Rubio says he will reconsider leaving Senate]

“I’ll go home later this week, and I’ll have some time with my family, and then if there’s been a change in our status I’ll be sure to let everyone know,” he said.

That same day, a close friend who had been running to succeed him, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, told supporters in an email that “if Marco decides to enter this race, I will not be filing the paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate.” He confirmed Wednesday morning he will exit the race.

Another Republican who was running to succeed Rubio, Rep. David Jolly, announced Friday he would withdraw from the Senate race and instead seek reelection to the House in his St. Petersburg-area district.

It is unclear what now happens to the remainder of the Republican field. A poll released Friday by Saint Leo University showed Rubio easily outpolling any of the already declared GOP candidates, winning the support of roughly half of likely primary voters.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Senate candidate who has seen some success in tapping a national network of GOP donors, has told Republicans that, with Rubio now in the race, he intends to run for reelection to his House seat, according to three Republicans with knowledge of the talks. A spokesman for DeSantis’s campaign said an announcement of his plans would be made shortly.

But two wealthy businessmen who have launched runs — home builder Carlos Beruff and defense contractor Todd Wilcox — both said last week through campaign aides that they would remain in the race if Rubio chose to run.

Beruff on Wednesday vowed to stay in the race at least until the Aug. 30 primary and “commit the resources that are necessary” to defeat Rubio.

“His word means nothing and that’s what politicians do — they lie, and they break promises,” Beruff said in an interview. “And I think that Florida voters are much smarter than that, and I’m willing to bet my money to find out.”

Democrats have a bruising primary of their own, pitting Rep. Patrick Murphy against Rep. Alan Grayson. Murphy has the support of the national party apparatus and has raised more than $7 million for his campaign — much more than any of the current Republican candidates. But he may have to spend a considerable chunk of it to beat Grayson, a liberal firebrand with a dedicated following among progressive activists, in the Aug. 30 primary.

In any case, Rubio’s entry instantly makes Florida one of the country’s most competitive and closely watched Senate races. Democrats are confident that they will be able to use Rubio’s absenteeism during his presidential run, his series of dismissive remarks about the Senate and his conservative voting record against him. A Democratic super PAC, American Bridge, on Friday released a 2½-minute video chronicling the many times Rubio has complained about or vowed to leave the Senate.

In a hint of the hard-fought campaign to come, Murphy issued a statement Wednesday morning accusing Rubio of being “only out for himself” and slamming him for missing scores of Senate votes, voting in favor sweeping restrictions on abortion and opposing Democratic amendments this week that would tighten gun laws in the aftermath of the Orlando attack.

“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize,” Murphy said. “Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida.”

There is also the Trump factor: The presumptive GOP nominee is expected to be a drag on down-ballot Republicans in a state where nearly 20 percent of the voting-age population is Hispanic.

Donors on both sides are likely to be highly motivated — Democrats by the prospect of delivering a knockout blow to Rubio’s political career, Republicans by the necessity of keeping the Senate majority and supporting a breakout star of the party. Rubio and his team called some of his top donors on Wednesday morning, asking them to help raise funds quickly for what could easily be the most expensive Senate race of the year.

[Will Marco Rubio even be favored to win reelection?]

Anna Rogers Duncan, who served as Rubio’s national finance director on his presidential campaign, emailed supporters Wednesday morning to inform them Rubio would provide them with a “political update” via conference call in the afternoon, according to a copy of the note obtained by The Washington Post.

Upon launching his presidential campaign, Rubio said he would not leave the door open for a return to the Senate, explaining that he did not want to treat the job as a fallback. On the campaign trail, he frequently described his frustration with Capitol Hill. Only after leaving the trail did he modify that assessment, blaming Democratic leaders for his poor attitude toward the Senate.

For months after the campaign ended, those closest to Rubio insisted he was determined to return to Miami, explore lucrative private-sector opportunities, raise his young family and regroup for another presidential run. But GOP leaders deployed a variety of arguments to lure him back into the race, such as the need to keep the Senate majority, the security threats facing the nation and the coming exodus of lawmakers from the Florida congressional delegation.

“It’s a very dangerous world out there, and Florida is losing a lot of key people,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a Rubio ally. “I really think the country and the state needs him. . . . This is not something he was looking at doing, but a lot of folks are asking him to do it.”

Jolly, however, suggested Rubio’s reversal was not quite as spontaneous as it appeared. “It’s textbook,” he said, noting the slow crescendo that started with an uptick in Rubio’s legislative presence, followed by a open draft movement led by McConnell, culminating in a dramatic exchange in which Lopez-Cantera privately urged Rubio to run after the two visited the scene of the Orlando attack — a conversation that was detailed in a Politico story Wednesday, released hours before Rubio publicly acknowledged he was rethinking his future.

The draft-Rubio campaign, Jolly said, killed any chance any other Republican had to win Rubio’s seat: “Generously I would say it froze the field, but also I could make the argument that it eviscerated it. . . . There were other ways to handle it.”

Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio answers questions from the press after paying his respects to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, June 16, 2016. (Joshua Lim/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday he will seek re-election to the Senate, reversing a pledge he made a year ago to either assume the presidency or return to private life in Florida, instantly transforming an already competitive race and improving the chances that Republicans can maintain the Senate majority.

Rubio discussed his decision in an interview with the Miami Herald, in which he said he was compelled to reconsider his decision because of the need for the Senate to “act as a check and balance on the excess of the president.”

“No matter who’s elected president, there’s reason to worry,” he told the Herald. “If it’s Hillary Clinton, you know we’re going to have four more years of the same failed economic policies, four more years of the same failed foreign policy. … The prospect of a [Donald Trump] presidency is also worrisome to me in many ways. It’s no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald.”

His entry into the race comes shortly before a Friday deadline for candidate filings and after weeks of pressure from national GOP figures who urged Rubio to reconsider his frequently repeated intention to either become president or a “private citizen” come 2017.

Those entreaties were rooted in blunt political reality: Rubio, with his near-universal name recognition and proven fundraising capacity, would give Republicans their best chance of winning the swing-state seat and, perhaps, the Senate majority.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who played a leading role in convincing Rubio to run, smiled Wednesday morning when he was asked about reports that Rubio would run: “If that were to happen, that would be a great outcome.” He said Rubio’s entry into the race would move the seat from a likely loss for Republicans into “likely retention.”

The decision to continue his career in elective politics comes barely three months after Rubio, 45, ended his presidential campaign after an embarrassing loss in his home-state primary, where he finished nearly 20 points behind Donald Trump and won only one county outright — his home base of Miami-Dade. But the handful of candidates seeking to succeed him in the Senate each struggled to break out as Rubio sent a series of signals that he might be willing to seek re-election.

Trump was among those encouraging Rubio to run, tweeting, “Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said June 15 that he is reconsidering his plans to leave the Senate at the end of this year and may run for re-election. Rubio told reporters that he will let everyone know about any change of status next week. (AP)

Rubio, who is expected to mount another presidential campaign as soon as 2020, first publicly acknowledged he was rethinking his decision last Wednesday, when he told reporters as he entered a Capitol Hill briefing on the Orlando terror attack, “I take very seriously everything that’s going on — not just Orlando, but in our country.”

[Marco Rubio says he will reconsider leaving Senate]

“I’ll go home later this week, and I’ll have some time with my family, and then if there’s been a change in our status I’ll be sure to let everyone know,” he said.

That same day, a close friend who had been running to succeed him, Florida Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, told supporters in an email that “if Marco decides to enter this race, I will not be filing the paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate.”

Another Republican who ran to succeed Rubio, Rep. David Jolly, announced Friday he would withdraw from the Senate race and instead seek re-election to the House in his St. Petersburg-area district.

It is unclear what now happens to the remainder of the Republican field. A poll released Friday by Saint Leo University showed Rubio easily outpolling any of the already-declared GOP candidates, winning the support of roughly half of likely primary voters.

Candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has seen some success in tapping a national network of Republican donors, suggested in a radio interview last week that he would consider withdrawing if Rubio ran. “If he makes a decision to run, that changes a lot about how I look at the race,” DeSantis, who represents a Jacksonville-area district, told host Hugh Hewitt.

But two wealthy businessmen who have launched runs — home builder Carlos Beruff and defense contractor Todd Wilcox — both said this week through campaign aides that they would remain in the race if Rubio chose to run.

Democrats have a bruising primary of their own, pitting Rep. Patrick Murphy against Rep. Alan Grayson. Murphy enjoys the support of the national party apparatus and has raised more than $7 million for his campaign — much more than any of the current Republican candidates. But he may have to spend a considerable chunk of it to beat Grayson, a liberal firebrand with a dedicated following among progressive activists, in the Aug. 30 primary.

In any case, Rubio’s entry instantly makes Florida into one of the country’s most competitive and closely watched Senate races. Democrats are confident that they will be able to use Rubio’s absenteeism during his presidential run, his series of dismissive remarks about the Senate, and his conservative voting record against him. A Democratic Super PAC, American Bridge, on Friday released a two-and-a-half minute video chronicling the many times Rubio either complained about or vowed to leave the Senate.

In a hint of the hard-fought campaign to come, Murphy issued a statement Wednesday morning accusing Rubio of being “only out for himself” and slamming him for missing scores of Senate votes, voting in favor sweeping restrictions on abortion and opposing Democratic amendments this week that would tighten gun laws in the aftermath of the Orlando attack.

“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize,” Murphy said. “Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida.”

There is also the Trump factor: The presumptive GOP nominee is expected to be a drag on downballot Republicans in a state where nearly 20 percent of the voting-age population is Hispanic.

Donors on both sides are likely to be highly motivated — Democrats by the prospect of delivering a knockout blow to Rubio’s political career, Republicans by the necessity of keeping the Senate majority and supporting a breakout star of the party. Rubio and his team called some of his top donors on Wednesday morning, asking them to help raise funds quickly for what could easily be the most expensive Senate race of the year.

[Will Marco Rubio even be favored to win reelection?]

Anna Rogers Duncan, who served as Rubio’s national finance director on his presidential campaign, emailed supporters Wednesday morning to inform them Rubio would provide them with a “political update” via conference call in the afternoon, according to a copy of the note obtained by The Washington Post.

Upon launching his presidential campaign, Rubio said he would not leave the door open for a return to the Senate, explaining that he did not want to treat the job as a fallback. On the campaign trail, he frequently described his frustration with Capitol Hill. Only after leaving the trail did he modify that assessment, blaming Democratic leaders for his poor attitude toward the Senate.

For months after the campaign ended, those closest to Rubio insisted he was determined to return to Miami, explore lucrative private-sector opportunities, raise his young family and regroup for another presidential run. But GOP leaders deployed a variety of arguments to lure him back into the race, from the need to keep the Senate majority to the national security threats facing the nation to the a coming exodus of lawmakers from the Florida congressional delegation.

“It’s a very dangerous world out there, and Florida is losing a lot of key people,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a Rubio ally. “I really think the country and the state needs him. … This is not something he was looking at doing, but a lot of folks are asking him to do it.”

Jolly, however, suggested Rubio’s reversal was not quite as spontaneous as it appeared. “It’s textbook,” he said, noting the slow crescendo that started with an uptick in Rubio’s legislative presence, followed by a open draft movement led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), culminating in a dramatic exchange where Lopez-Cantera privately urged Rubio to run after the two visited the scene of the Orlando attack — a conversation that was detailed in a Politico story Wednesday, released hours before Rubio publicly acknowledged he was rethinking his future.

The draft-Rubio campaign, Jolly said, killed any chance any other Republican had to win Rubio’s seat: “Generously I would say it froze the field, but also I could make the argument that it eviscerated it. … There were other ways to handle it.”

Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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Right now, there are more questions than answers to what happened to Flight 804 after it took off from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday night.
Here are the top questions about the disaster that were searched for in Google — and the best answers we have at this early stage in the investigation.

Is EgyptAir safe?

The flag carrier for Egypt has a checkered safety record, having been the victim of no fewer than eight hijackings, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s safety database.
The most recent occurred just two months ago, when a man took an EgyptAir A320-232 hostage with a fake explosive belt, forcing the plane to divert to Cyprus.
The man was motivated by personal, rather than political, issues. He wanted to be reunited with his ex-wife, a Cypriot.
There were no victims of that incident, but a hijacking in November 1985 resulted in 50 passengers losing their lives.
Gunmen said to have links to the Abu Nidal Organization, a Palestinian terror group, diverted the plane after takeoff from Athens. It landed in Malta, where a raid by Egyptian commandos resulted in the deaths of 50 passengers and six hijackers.
In 1999, an EgyptAir pilot flying a Los Angeles-to-Cairo route crashed the plane deliberately into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 people on board.

Where is the missing EgyptAir plane?

Reports that the plane’s wreckage had been found proved to be false.
An airline official told CNN earlier Thursday that wreckage was found in the Mediterranean Sea. But searchers determined it did not come from the plane.
The Paris-to Cairo-flight was at 37,000 feet when it lost contact overnight above the Mediterranean, shortly before the aircraft was scheduled to exit Greek airspace and enter Egyptian airspace.
Greek controllers had talked to the pilot at 2:48 a.m. local time in Greece (1:48 a.m. in Paris and Cairo), when the plane was near a Greek island, and all had been well.
But at 3:27 a.m. local time (2:27 a.m. in Paris and Cairo), controllers tried to reach the pilots to transfer control to Cairo authorities and received no response.
The plane passed into Egyptian airspace two minutes later, then its signal dropped from radar 13 kilometers (8 miles) south-southeast of Kumbi, an aviation reporting point in the Mediterranean.

What happened to the EgyptAir flight?

The aircraft was cruising at 37,000 feet, considered the safest part of the flight, in clear, calm weather conditions.
Then, upon entering Egypt’s airspace, the aircraft swerved then plunged dramatically, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told reporters in Athens.
“At 3:37 a.m. local time, immediately after the aircraft entered Cairo airspace at 37,000 feet, the aircraft swerved 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right, and descended from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet and then 10,000 feet when we lost the signal,” he said.
While the reason is still unknown — and aviation analysts stress it is too early in the investigation to make a call — it is more likely to be terrorism than a technical issue, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said.
“I don’t want to go to speculation. I don’t want to go to assumptions like others. But if you analyze this situation properly, the possibility of having a different action aboard, of having a terror attack, is higher than having a technical problem,” he said.
“There were no known security issues with passengers on the plane,” he said, but added that further checks are underway.
U.S. government officials have told CNN that their early theory is that the disaster is a case of terrorism, with the initial suspicion that the plane was taken down by a bomb.
But they caution that the theory is not based on any concrete evidence — just the circumstances. They believe the “swerving” reported by Greece’s defense minister was most likely pieces of the aircraft that were picked up by radar, which isn’t reliable for determining phenomenon like sudden movements.

What is a distress call?

A distress signal was detected at 4:26 a.m. — almost two hours after the jet vanished — in the general vicinity where it disappeared, said EgyptAir Vice President Ahmed Adel.
He said the distress signal could have come from another vessel in the Mediterranean. Egyptian armed forces said they had not received a distress call.
A distress call is how a plane signals there is an emergency — and doesn’t have to be a pilot alerting authorities with a “Mayday” call.
It could be an emergency beacon, a small emergency locator transmitter (ELT) which sends a call to satellites overhead.
It is activated on impact, sending signals to satellites which are then relayed to monitoring stations on the ground.
Hijackers or renegade pilots cannot disable some of the emergency beacons, namely, the ones attached to the plane’s airframe. Powered by batteries, they are inaccessible to the crew.

Who was on board the EgyptAir flight?

The names of the 56 passengers and 10 crew on board — two cockpit crew, five cabin crew and three security staff — have not been released by the airline.
The pilots have been identified to CNN as Mohamed Said Shoukair and Mohamed Mamdouh Ahmed Assem, according to an official close to the investigation and a security source. The sources said Shoukair was the captain and Assem was the first officer.
EgyptAir said in a statement that 30 on board were Egyptian and 15 were French.
There were also two Iraqis and one from each of the following: Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada, according to the Egyptian aviation minister.
The government of Canada said two of its citizens were on the plane. The reason for the discrepancy wasn’t clear, but there is a possibility one or more had dual citizenship.
A spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble confirmed to CNN that one of the company’s employees was on board the plane.
Ahmed Helal, director of one of the company’s sites in Amiens, France, had been traveling on a personal trip.
“This is a very difficult moment for all P&G people, especially for employees of Amiens’ site,” said Anne Le Brouster.
“Our priority today is to fully support Mr. Helal’s family support during this very difficult time and all P&G employees who are very much affected by this tragedy.”

CNN’s reporting teams around the world contributed to this story.

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One of the most urgent questions going into Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was just how host Chris Rock would handle the gig, and particularly how he would address the ongoing #OscarsSoWhite controversy. 

Rock, a comedian known for his provocative take on race, tackled the issue head-on, opening the 3 1/2-hour telecast with a 10-minute monologue that bluntly declared Hollywood racist, albeit in a “sorority” rather than “burning cross” way.” He also returned to the subject repeatedly throughout the evening, with some bits landing more successfully than others. 

OSCARS 2016: Full coverage | List of winners/nominees | #OscarsSoWhite controversy 

Critics generally praised Rock for addressing the issue so directly, even if not all the jokes worked. Here’s a look at reactions:

Rock’s performance was uneven but still praiseworthy for calling out Hollywood hypocrisy

Writing for The Times, television critic Mary McNamara argued that although Rock didn’t land every joke, he encouraged a bit of reflection on what is typically a night for the film industry to pat itself on the back. “For all its flaws, Rock’s Oscars had some of the most powerful moments seen in the telecast’s history. His decision to honestly answer the question ‘Is Hollywood racist?’ was brave and effective,” she said. “If Hollywood believes, as it should, that film is a medium of truth-telling and a catalyst for change, then moments of self-examination should occur at least as often as those of celebration.” 

Rock was the right host for the right year

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik noted that having Rock, who was hired before the diversity flap began, emcee the ceremony “was a lucky pairing of host and subject.” His performance was “evenhanded without being wishy-washy” and represented “an example of something the industry is still trying to learn: that you can achieve both inclusion and entertainment by giving the right person just the right opportunity.”

That being said: What was with the bizarre appearance by Stacey Dash

If you found yourself cringing (or just scratching your head) at the cameo by Stacey Dash, you weren’t alone. Echoing the sentiments of many, McNamara wrote that “the evening’s oddest moment was Rock’s introduction of Stacey Dash as the academy’s new head of outreach. The bit left many baffled and reaching for Google.”

But even if you’d followed the controversy surrounding the actress and Fox News commentator, who recently called for an end to Black History Month, it was hard to tell what the intended effect of the joke was, beyond making everyone — especially model Chrissy Teigen, whose cringing reaction instantly sparked a meme — really uncomfortable.

… and the Asian jokes?

Many observers were put off by a gag in which Rock introduced “accountants from the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers” who turned out to be Asian chidren — a not-so-subtle play on stereotypes about Asian people’s math abilities. But Rock took it a step further: “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids.”

Writing for Vulture, Dee Lockett called the joke “tone-deaf” and an “egregious oversight” in a ceremony in which race figured so prominently. The joke at the expense of another minority group under-represented in Hollywood reflected “the mistake of conflating #OscarsSoWhite with a black/white binary,” said Daniel Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter.

And, well, maybe Rock could have talked about something else

Some critics though Rock could have mixed up his repertoire a bit, instead of revisiting the subject of race throughout the broadcast. “It would have been wiser to return to it sparingly — certainly by having Rock revisit those theaters in Compton and interview African American film-goers, a highlight of his earlier hosting stint stint and this one. But the producers didn’t stop there, going back to diversity with mixed results, in a reasonably clever taped piece that involved inserting black actors into nominated films and a ‘Black History Month’ bit that fell flat,” said Brian Lowry at Variety.

The show’s biggest flaw had nothing to do with Rock 

“The problem with the Oscarcast is simple and constant: It’s too long,” wrote Poniewozik. “The show ran over three and a half hours. This year’s longest best picture nominee, ‘The Revenant,’ clocks in at 2 hours and 36 minutes. Why should the academy ask its audience to sit longer than that?”

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter

ALSO

Chris Rock was right, this year the Oscars really were a little different

Three reasons why ‘Spotlight’ walked away with the Oscar for best picture

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One of the most urgent questions going into Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was just how host Chris Rock would handle the gig, and particularly how he would address the ongoing #OscarsSoWhite controversy. 

Rock, a comedian known for his provocative take on race, tackled the issue head-on, opening the 3 1/2-hour telecast with a 10-minute monologue that bluntly declared Hollywood racist, albeit in a “sorority” rather than “burning cross” way.” He also returned to the subject repeatedly throughout the evening, with some bits landing more successfully than others. 

OSCARS 2016: Full coverage | List of winners/nominees | #OscarsSoWhite controversy 

Critics generally praised Rock for addressing the issue so directly, even if not all the jokes worked. Here’s a look at reactions:

Rock’s performance was uneven but still praiseworthy for calling out Hollywood hypocrisy

Writing for The Times, television critic Mary McNamara argued that although Rock didn’t land every joke, he encouraged a bit of reflection on what is typically a night for the film industry to pat itself on the back. “For all its flaws, Rock’s Oscars had some of the most powerful moments seen in the telecast’s history. His decision to honestly answer the question ‘Is Hollywood racist?’ was brave and effective,” she said. “If Hollywood believes, as it should, that film is a medium of truth-telling and a catalyst for change, then moments of self-examination should occur at least as often as those of celebration.” 

Rock was the right host for the right year

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik noted that having Rock, who was hired before the diversity flap began, emcee the ceremony “was a lucky pairing of host and subject.” His performance was “evenhanded without being wishy-washy” and represented “an example of something the industry is still trying to learn: that you can achieve both inclusion and entertainment by giving the right person just the right opportunity.”

That being said: What was with the bizarre appearance by Stacey Dash

If you found yourself cringing (or just scratching your head) at the cameo by Stacey Dash, you weren’t alone. Echoing the sentiments of many, McNamara wrote that “the evening’s oddest moment was Rock’s introduction of Stacey Dash as the academy’s new head of outreach. The bit left many baffled and reaching for Google.”

But even if you’d followed the controversy surrounding the actress and Fox News commentator, who recently called for an end to Black History Month, it was hard to tell what the intended effect of the joke was, beyond making everyone — especially model Chrissy Teigen, whose cringing reaction instantly sparked a meme — really uncomfortable.

… and the Asian jokes?

Many observers were put off by a gag in which Rock introduced “accountants from the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers” who turned out to be Asian chidren — a not-so-subtle play on stereotypes about Asian people’s math abilities. But Rock took it a step further: “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids.”

Writing for Vulture, Dee Lockett called the joke “tone-deaf” and an “egregious oversight” in a ceremony in which race figured so prominently. The joke at the expense of another minority group under-represented in Hollywood reflected “the mistake of conflating #OscarsSoWhite with a black/white binary,” said Daniel Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter.

And, well, maybe Rock could have talked about something else

Some critics though Rock could have mixed up his repertoire a bit, instead of revisiting the subject of race throughout the broadcast. “It would have been wiser to return to it sparingly — certainly by having Rock revisit those theaters in Compton and interview African American film-goers, a highlight of his earlier hosting stint stint and this one. But the producers didn’t stop there, going back to diversity with mixed results, in a reasonably clever taped piece that involved inserting black actors into nominated films and a ‘Black History Month’ bit that fell flat,” said Brian Lowry at Variety.

The show’s biggest flaw had nothing to do with Rock 

“The problem with the Oscarcast is simple and constant: It’s too long,” wrote Poniewozik. “The show ran over three and a half hours. This year’s longest best picture nominee, ‘The Revenant,’ clocks in at 2 hours and 36 minutes. Why should the academy ask its audience to sit longer than that?”

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter

ALSO

Chris Rock was right, this year the Oscars really were a little different

Three reasons why ‘Spotlight’ walked away with the Oscar for best picture

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Read More

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One of the most urgent questions going into Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was just how host Chris Rock would handle the gig, and particularly how he would address the ongoing #OscarsSoWhite controversy. 

Rock, a comedian known for his provocative take on race, tackled the issue head-on, opening the 3 1/2-hour telecast with a 10-minute monologue that bluntly declared Hollywood racist, albeit in a “sorority” rather than “burning cross” way.” He also returned to the subject repeatedly throughout the evening, with some bits landing more successfully than others. 

OSCARS 2016: Full coverage | List of winners/nominees | #OscarsSoWhite controversy 

Critics generally praised Rock for addressing the issue so directly, even if not all the jokes worked. Here’s a look at reactions:

Rock’s performance was uneven but still praiseworthy for calling out Hollywood hypocrisy

Writing for The Times, television critic Mary McNamara argued that although Rock didn’t land every joke, he encouraged a bit of reflection on what is typically a night for the film industry to pat itself on the back. “For all its flaws, Rock’s Oscars had some of the most powerful moments seen in the telecast’s history. His decision to honestly answer the question ‘Is Hollywood racist?’ was brave and effective,” she said. “If Hollywood believes, as it should, that film is a medium of truth-telling and a catalyst for change, then moments of self-examination should occur at least as often as those of celebration.” 

Rock was the right host for the right year

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik noted that having Rock, who was hired before the diversity flap began, emcee the ceremony “was a lucky pairing of host and subject.” His performance was “evenhanded without being wishy-washy” and represented “an example of something the industry is still trying to learn: that you can achieve both inclusion and entertainment by giving the right person just the right opportunity.”

That being said: What was with the bizarre appearance by Stacey Dash

If you found yourself cringing (or just scratching your head) at the cameo by Stacey Dash, you weren’t alone. Echoing the sentiments of many, McNamara wrote that “the evening’s oddest moment was Rock’s introduction of Stacey Dash as the academy’s new head of outreach. The bit left many baffled and reaching for Google.”

But even if you’d followed the controversy surrounding the actress and Fox News commentator, who recently called for an end to Black History Month, it was hard to tell what the intended effect of the joke was, beyond making everyone — especially model Chrissy Teigen, whose cringing reaction instantly sparked a meme — really uncomfortable.

… and the Asian jokes?

Many observers were put off by a gag in which Rock introduced “accountants from the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers” who turned out to be Asian chidren — a not-so-subtle play on stereotypes about Asian people’s math abilities. But Rock took it a step further: “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids.”

Writing for Vulture, Dee Lockett called the joke “tone-deaf” and an “egregious oversight” in a ceremony in which race figured so prominently. The joke at the expense of another minority group under-represented in Hollywood reflected “the mistake of conflating #OscarsSoWhite with a black/white binary,” said Daniel Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter.

And, well, maybe Rock could have talked about something else

Some critics though Rock could have mixed up his repertoire a bit, instead of revisiting the subject of race throughout the broadcast. “It would have been wiser to return to it sparingly — certainly by having Rock revisit those theaters in Compton and interview African American film-goers, a highlight of his earlier hosting stint stint and this one. But the producers didn’t stop there, going back to diversity with mixed results, in a reasonably clever taped piece that involved inserting black actors into nominated films and a ‘Black History Month’ bit that fell flat,” said Brian Lowry at Variety.

The show’s biggest flaw had nothing to do with Rock 

“The problem with the Oscarcast is simple and constant: It’s too long,” wrote Poniewozik. “The show ran over three and a half hours. This year’s longest best picture nominee, ‘The Revenant,’ clocks in at 2 hours and 36 minutes. Why should the academy ask its audience to sit longer than that?”

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter

ALSO

Chris Rock was right, this year the Oscars really were a little different

Three reasons why ‘Spotlight’ walked away with the Oscar for best picture

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One of the most urgent questions going into Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was just how host Chris Rock would handle the gig, and particularly how he would address the ongoing #OscarsSoWhite controversy. 

Rock, a comedian known for his provocative take on race, tackled the issue head-on, opening the 3 1/2-hour telecast with a 10-minute monologue that bluntly declared Hollywood racist, albeit in a “sorority” rather than “burning cross” way.” He also returned to the subject repeatedly throughout the evening, with some bits landing more successfully than others. 

OSCARS 2016: Full coverage | List of winners/nominees | #OscarsSoWhite controversy 

Critics generally praised Rock for addressing the issue so directly, even if not all the jokes worked. Here’s a look at reactions:

Rock’s performance was uneven but still praiseworthy for calling out Hollywood hypocrisy

Writing for The Times, television critic Mary McNamara argued that although Rock didn’t land every joke, he encouraged a bit of reflection on what is typically a night for the film industry to pat itself on the back. “For all its flaws, Rock’s Oscars had some of the most powerful moments seen in the telecast’s history. His decision to honestly answer the question ‘Is Hollywood racist?’ was brave and effective,” she said. “If Hollywood believes, as it should, that film is a medium of truth-telling and a catalyst for change, then moments of self-examination should occur at least as often as those of celebration.” 

Rock was the right host for the right year

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik noted that having Rock, who was hired before the diversity flap began, emcee the ceremony “was a lucky pairing of host and subject.” His performance was “evenhanded without being wishy-washy” and represented “an example of something the industry is still trying to learn: that you can achieve both inclusion and entertainment by giving the right person just the right opportunity.”

That being said: What was with the bizarre appearance by Stacey Dash

If you found yourself cringing (or just scratching your head) at the cameo by Stacey Dash, you weren’t alone. Echoing the sentiments of many, McNamara wrote that “the evening’s oddest moment was Rock’s introduction of Stacey Dash as the academy’s new head of outreach. The bit left many baffled and reaching for Google.”

But even if you’d followed the controversy surrounding the actress and Fox News commentator, who recently called for an end to Black History Month, it was hard to tell what the intended effect of the joke was, beyond making everyone — especially model Chrissy Teigen, whose cringing reaction instantly sparked a meme — really uncomfortable.

… and the Asian jokes?

Many observers were put off by a gag in which Rock introduced “accountants from the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers” who turned out to be Asian chidren — a not-so-subtle play on stereotypes about Asian people’s math abilities. But Rock took it a step further: “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids.”

Writing for Vulture, Dee Lockett called the joke “tone-deaf” and an “egregious oversight” in a ceremony in which race figured so prominently. The joke at the expense of another minority group under-represented in Hollywood reflected “the mistake of conflating #OscarsSoWhite with a black/white binary,” said Daniel Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter.

And, well, maybe Rock could have talked about something else

Some critics though Rock could have mixed up his repertoire a bit, instead of revisiting the subject of race throughout the broadcast. “It would have been wiser to return to it sparingly — certainly by having Rock revisit those theaters in Compton and interview African American film-goers, a highlight of his earlier hosting stint stint and this one. But the producers didn’t stop there, going back to diversity with mixed results, in a reasonably clever taped piece that involved inserting black actors into nominated films and a ‘Black History Month’ bit that fell flat,” said Brian Lowry at Variety.

The show’s biggest flaw had nothing to do with Rock 

“The problem with the Oscarcast is simple and constant: It’s too long,” wrote Poniewozik. “The show ran over three and a half hours. This year’s longest best picture nominee, ‘The Revenant,’ clocks in at 2 hours and 36 minutes. Why should the academy ask its audience to sit longer than that?”

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter

ALSO

Chris Rock was right, this year the Oscars really were a little different

Three reasons why ‘Spotlight’ walked away with the Oscar for best picture

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Read More

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Donald Trump answers questions at a campaign rally in Newton, Iowa, on Thursday. REUTERS/Scott MorganNEWTON, Iowa. — Donald Trump doesn’t understand why so few companies provide affordable, in-house child care for their employees like he does at some of his companies.
“It’s not expensive for a company to do it,” Trump said during a town hall at a community college in this small town on Thursday afternoon. “You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks and you need some swings and some toys. You know, surely, it’s not expensive. It’s not an expensive thing. I do it all over, and I get great people because of it… It’s something that can be done, I think, very easily by a company.”
Trump’s comments came after a woman asked him what he would do as president to provide workers, especially working mothers, with more access to affordable child care. The woman’s question was lengthy and jam-packed with statistics, prompting Trump to quiz her on why she was asking the question.
“It’s funny because it’s not something you hear as much about as you would think,” Trump said, saying he hears many more questions about student loan debt and job creation. “Do you work with your husband? Are you both working?”
[The last two times Trump was in Iowa, he insulted the state’s voters]
The questioner stammered and then said: “Actually, I don’t have kids.”
Trump smirked: “Now I feel better about if I don’t give much of an answer.”

[Donald Trump hated wind farms — until an Iowa voter asked.]
But Trump answered the question any way, saying that several of his companies provide in-house child care for employees. This allows parents to drop their kids off on their way to work in the morning, visit over lunch and pick them up as soon as the day is over.
“We have two of them,” Trump explained. “They call them Trump Kids. Another one calls it Trumpateers, if you can believe it… It’s cute.”
Trump took a number of questions during an hour-long town hall organized by a Des Moines television station that broadcast the event live. Trump arrived late to the set, forcing the host to sit next to an empty chair and ad lib for nearly nine minutes. About 350 people were in the audience and, afterwards, most of those people& …Read More

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President Obama made remarks and answered questions at the G-20 summit in Turkey on Nov. 13. Here’s what he said about the path forward fighting the Islamic State, welcoming Muslims and protecting Syrian refugees. (AP)
Speaking to reporters in Antalya, Turkey, on Monday, President Obama said his approach to countering the so-called Islamic State “is the strategy that ultimately is going to work” but that the terrorist network still can exact serious damage worldwide.
“But understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is that if you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people,” Obama said in a news conference after the conclusion of the Group of 20 summit there. “That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. It’s not their sophistication or the particular weaponry that they possess, but it is the ideology they carry with them and their willingness to die.”
[Raids spread across France and Belgium amid manhunt for suspects]
Obama also pointedly addressed the issue of whether the United States and other countries should continue to accept refugees, given the fact that one of the participants in the Paris plot may have come in with Syrian migrants. He said the United States would continue to accept more refugees from Syria and elsewhere, though “only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.”
“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said. “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”

President Obama decried the calls from some to stop accepting Syrian refugees after the attacks in Paris, saying it would be “a betrayal of our values.” (AP)

Without directly naming GOP presidential candidates, the president blasted political leaders for suggesting the United States should accept only Christians fleeing Syria. He alluded to the fact that some of these same politicians — namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), whose father fled Cuba decades ago – -had benefited from America’s willingness to accept refugees.
“And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited …Read More

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There will be 15 Republicans answering questions and trading barbs at the second round of GOP presidential debates Wednesday night, but hanging over the event will be the ghost of one former White House resident, Ronald Reagan.
The debates are being held at the Reagan Library in California and it’s likely the former president’s name will be invoked early and often by the participants.
But the Republican Party is in a different place than it was a quarter century ago. And when you compare self-identified Republicans today to those of 1990, you can only wonder how well Mr. Reagan would do in the 2016 race.

Dann, Caroline (206104031)
Those numbers above come from a July 1990 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll and the July 2015 NBC/WSJ poll and they indicate how much the party has moved in that time.

Most notably, the “conservative” part of the party has grown from less than half of all Republicans to more than 6 in 10. But the sharp drop in self-described “liberals” is significant as well. The party has clearly moved rightward using these measures.
(In the 1990 poll, 12% of self-described Republicans said they hadn’t “thought much about” where they resided on the ideological spectrum.)
Of course, we can’t say for certain the GOP is “13 points more conservative” than it was in 1990. It could be that the word “conservative” has become a more positive word for a lot of voters in since 1990 so more people choose it to define their views. But it’s hard to write off the changes above to just definitional fluctuations.
The point here is that the Republican revolution that Mr. Reagan spawned has its roots in a different-looking GOP that was more liberal than today’s party. And some of the former president’s positions,
such as his more lenient views immigration and his evolution on abortion, might not be as welcomed with rank and file Republicans in the party’s current form.
The former president still has a hugely prominent place on the modern-day Republican Mount Rushmore. He brought the party to power in Washington and his ability to communicate conservative ideas is a lasting legacy.

But the GOP was a different party when he came to power and the changes he helped usher in pushed the party to evolve. It’s not clear how the Ronald Reagan of the 1980s would do in the 2016 primary race.
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