Monday, August 26, 2013

Zack Snyder Explains Ben Affleck Casting: "I Needed a Batman People Could Despise"

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Batman fans, at least those of the film variety, have endured a roller coaster ride of terrific highs and pitiful lows as various directors have taken the helm. Tim Burton's two-picture outing with Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader breathed a fresh and decidedly darker life back into the cowled vigilante, who had been familiar to most moviegoers as only a campy 60s icon -- much to the dismay of diehard comic fans accustomed to a grittier hero. But that franchise suffered mightily when new directors took over and reintroduced, by slow and painful degrees, the campiness of Adam West via Val Kilmer and the stiletto-nippled George Clooney. But just when all hope seemed lost, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale crept from the celluloid shadows and transformed The Dark Knight into a cinematic triptych of nouveau noir art and sincere passion. Unfortunately, history is cyclical. Zach Snyder dropped a bomb Friday when he revealed Ben Affleck as the next Batman. After three days of incurring incessant hate from fans, Snyder defended his decision on Monday with a surprising confession: "I chose Ben because I needed a Batman people could despise."

As Civil War Threatens Labor Day Oil Prices, U.S. Considers Military Strikes Against Syria

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- After more than two years of condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the bloody conflict his regime launched in retaliation to the rebel uprisings in March 2011, the U.S. government finally threatened military intervention on Monday after al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians became incontrovertible. The catalyst occurred on August 21, when snipers targeted U.N. weapons experts on their way to investigate an alleged chemical attack. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that President Obama is now seeking to hold al-Assad accountable for deploying "the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people." And those vulnerable people, according to Edward Kraftstofflieber, a senior analyst with the State Department, are consumers living in oil-reliant nations to the West. "For the first time, the Syrian conflict seems poised to disrupt oil transport," Kraftstofflieber warned. "With gas prices soaring and the Labor Day holiday fast approaching, we must act now."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Russia to Arrest Cosmonauts for Discussing Non-Traditional Orientations During Repair Mission

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Now that the slaying of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma has become old news, the contentious debate of gun rights has once again given way to the contentious issue of gay rights. Much of the uproar stems from Russia's renewed sense of homophobia, which has resulted in the passage of recently ratified anti-gay laws that threaten to disrupt the 2014 Winter Olympics being hosted in Sochi. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked the global community anew by announcing that two cosmonauts would be arrested under the law upon their return to Earth for "propagandizing non-traditional sexual actions" during their attempts to repair a camera on the International Space Station.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

After Oklahoma Shooting Death, NRA Expresses Outrage and Disgust at Problem of Bored Youth

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- A mass shooting spree was averted Wednesday when a bookkeeper at a Georgia elementary school notified police of an armed gunman on campus and eventually talked him into surrendering. The one-on-one conversation, in which the employee sympathized with the would-be killer's psychological troubles and offered assurances of help, was captured on 911 tapes. This incident followed the tragic and unconscionable shooting death of Christopher Lane, 22, in Oklahoma on Friday. The Australian baseball player, in the United States on a sport's scholarship, was gunned down in cold blood by three teens who told authorities their only motive for the murder was boredom. Representatives from the National Rifle Association (NRA) expressed "absolute disgust" and outrage over Lane's death, calling for the U.S. government to "stop ignoring the serious and deadly problem of bored youth in the nation."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Citing Anti-Gay Law, Russia Eliminates Several Events from Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Russia's stance toward LGBT rights has been checkered and tenuous throughout its history. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation decriminalized male homosexual acts in 1993, but laws protecting people against discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation remain nonexistent. Same sex unions are also unrecognized in the country. In June 2013, Russia took another step backward in defending and promoting the rights of gays by passing a federal bill that bans the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, using heavy fines, threats of imprisonment and overly broad interpretations to punish violators. The new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin, will be enforced during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The announcement provoked outcry from athletes around the world. On Thursday, the situation soured further when the Russian Sports Ministry declared its refusal to allow a series of traditional events at the competition.

Friday, August 9, 2013

AARP Outraged at Time Warner's Blackout of CBS, Mobilizes Members to Action

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS, which led Time Warner to drop the network on August 2 around 5:00 p.m., has now entered its eighth day. The blackout has directly affected subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. As of Friday, neither side displayed any signs of progress in negotiations nor made any overtures toward ending the dispute. The acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission told the press that her agency "will continue to urge all parties to stay and resolve in good faith this issue as soon as possible. However, I will affirm to you that I am ready to consider appropriate action if this dispute continues." But leaders at AARP, a non-governmental interest group that advocates for CBS' predominant demographic, say they can't afford to wait for the FCC to act. "Our members simply don't have time to see if the government will step in and end this devastating stalemate," complained Morris Irving Harolds, an AARP representative from California. "Literally, some of these people have only days left to live."

Justice Department to Take Over Editorial Duties for Associated Press

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- founder Jeff Bezos made headlines this week with his $250 million purchase of The Washington Post, one of the nation's most revered newspapers. Before that, Rupert Murdoch expanded his own global news empire when he took over The Wall Street Journal. Such purchases by corporate magnates are neither new nor particularly rare, but the Justice Department's revelation that it will soon assume the editorial duties for the Associated Press is unprecedented. Lorraine Kiesch, a senior linguistic analyst with Justice, made the announcement Thursday. She will be heading the AP after the acquisition and has assured the public that the DOJ's actions were undertaken solely in the interest of saving the not-for-profit news cooperative from ruin.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bezos Vows to Reinvent The Washington Post as the of Journalism

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Jeffrey Bezos, the billionaire founder of, purchased The Washington Post this week for $250 million. The 135-year-old paper has a storied history in the annals of American journalism, which includes the groundbreaking reporting by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Watergate scandal during the 1970s. The duo uncovered what is still considered the biggest story in U.S. politics, exposing a complex system of "dirty tricks" and crimes from the highest levels of power in Washington. Their tireless efforts led to the indictment of over 40 administration officials and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. But that's old news to Bezos, whose success selling online books and then popularizing e-books helped Amazon blossom into one of the world's most thriving retailers, ultimately proving that print is dead. Bezos said he wants to reanimate that corpse as a 21st century cyborg, and promised to innovate The Post with key elements of Amazon's business model. His first step will be to rebrand the paper using the Brazilian-themed naming conventions commonly found in components of his online megastore. The Post will soon be christened A Fofoca, following this tradition.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NSA Relieved and Encouraged by Death of Historic, Troublesome Whistleblower Charles Varnadore

Photo by Ken Murray 1992
SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Many Americans may not know Charles Varnadore, who died this March at the age of 71, but his actions in the early 1990s laid the groundwork for the U.S. government's aggressive initiative to suppress and destroy an increasingly irritating crop of whistleblowers who have made life difficult for corporations and politicians over recent years. Varnadore had formerly worked as a technician at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, a federal nuclear research facility that assisted in the development of the atomic bomb. After raising the alarm about serious but expensive-to-correct safety violations at the plant, he was relocated by his superiors to an office polluted with radioactive waste. His death was brought to national attention two days ago by The New York Times. On Tuesday, an NSA spokesperson issued a press statement expressing the tremendous relief of the agency and its leaders, even suggesting that this victory could result in the government reducing its reliance on warrantless domestic surveillance programs.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Texas Officials Declare Crisis as Lethal Injection Drugs Run Out, Request Meeting with Zimmerman

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Last July, Texas officials declared a statewide crisis that presaged the need for a radical overhaul of their existing penal system, once touted as a national model of cold, streamlined efficiencies to rival any assembly process used in the country today. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told reporters at the time: "We have exhausted our supply of pancuronium bromide needed to perform lethal injections. Soon, we'll be left with only pentobarbital. When that runs out, Lord only knows what we're going to do." Texas depleted its stores of sodium thiopental just months later, forcing executioners to rely on a single-drug cocktail. On Friday, the state's worst fears came to pass as experts announced that the remaining supply of pentobarbital would run out in September. Curiously, sources say officials have requested to meet with George Zimmerman, who was pulled over last weekend for speeding in the northern part of the state.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Justice Antonin Scalia Surprisingly Agrees with Pope About Not Judging Gays

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Pope Francis' visit to Rio on Monday, where three million people gathered on the sands of Copacabana to hear the new pontiff, was met with enthusiasm, curiosity and rapturous applause. Using language uncharacteristically candid, Pope Francis delivered a radical vision about the future governance of the Catholic Church -- a blueprint for progress and change that his predecessors would never have dared to consider. He called for young people to push the old guard from its comfort zone and take the "Church to the streets." But the most memorable moment came during a casual conversation with reporters when Francis declared, in disarmingly direct speech, that gays should not be judged. The statement elated many, confused others and led to outright dissent from the far-right faithful. The biggest shock, however, was Justice Antonin Scalia's enthusiastic agreement on Thursday: "Pope Francis is correct -- judging gays and their rights has just made the problem worse."

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