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Obama to Spell Out College-Ranking Framework

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 19, 2014 - 12:30pm
The Obama administration will spell out an ambitious college-rating plan on Friday that introduces new metrics to judge the nation’s roughly 5,000 colleges and universities.

Sony made mistake pulling film, Obama says

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 19, 2014 - 12:19pm

Sony Pictures made a mistake in keeping "The Interview" out of theaters following terror threats, President Barack Obama said in a year-end news conference at the White House Friday.

Obama said "the hackers are going to get better too" as America gets better at putting measures into place to prevent acts of terror, and that he disagrees with the censorship the incident caused.

"Imagine what they start doing when they start seeing a documentary they don't like, or news reports they don't like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.

"That's not who we are," he said.

"I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you are intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks."

Earlier Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed it believes North Korea's government is responsible for a Nov. 24 breach of Sony's computer systems, which led to leaked salaries and unreleased films. The FBI said it "has enough evidence to confirm" it.

"The Interview," a Sony comedic film about the assassination of Kim Jong Un, the country's totalitarian leader, will not be shown in theaters after terror threats were made.

North Korea has denied it was involved in the cyber attack. 

Some are calling for the U.S. to take steps to declare North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, according to the Associated Press.

It was on the list of state sponsors of terrorism for 20 years but removed in 2008 by the Bush administration. Countries currently with the designation include Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba, according to the AP.

Also in his speech Friday, Obama touted job growth and the American auto industry, saying it is looking at having its strongest year since 2005.

"Pick any metric that you want — America's resurgence is real, we are better off," he said.

Tuskegee Airman Lowell Steward dies in Calif.

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 19, 2014 - 11:59am

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Lowell Steward, a former member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew nearly 200 missions over Europe during World War II, has died in California. He was 95.

His son Lowell Jr. says Steward died Wednesday at a hospital in Ventura of natural causes.

After graduating college in 1941, Steward joined the Army Air Corps and trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.

He was shipped to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the famed all-black unit. Steward completed escort and strafing missions and was ultimately awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After being discharged in 1946 he went on to a long career in real estate.

Steward's wife of 60 years, Helen, died in 2004. He is survived by three children, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Caught on camera: Must-watch videos of 2014

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 19, 2014 - 11:56am

In many ways, 2014 was a year like any other. Some people were nice and some were naughty — but not everyone got caught on camera.

The videos and stories below are from communities across the country and involve a variety of situations, from cats protecting humans to cops behaving badly.

They all have one thing in common: They’ll make you do a double-take.


VIDEO: Cat saves Bakersfield boy

A cat came to her best friend's rescue when Jeremy, 4, was attacked by a dog in his driveway in Bakersfield, California and it was all caught on video.

Jeremy, who has mild autism, was playing on his bike after school.

The neighbor's dog, an 8-month-old labrador/chow mix, sneaks up behind him and bites his leg.

The family's cat, Tara, rushed the attacking dog and chased it away.



Angry driver attacks Ferguson protester blockading I-5 highway

As dozens of students blocked a highway in San Diego as part of a Ferguson protest, thousands of irate commuters were left stranded and unable to get to work.

At least one of those drivers was angry enough to push a protester and steal his bullhorn.


Caught on camera: Pregnant beggar with boy drives off in a Mercedes-Benz

An outraged viewer contacted San Diego TV station ABC 10 after she watched a pregnant woman and a boy beg for money in a shopping center and then drive away in a Mercedes Benz


RAW VIDEO: Police Chase Carjackers at Lookout Mountain

Two suspects in an armed carjacking on Lookout Mountain near Denver, Colorado were captured after a short-lived, but brazen crime spree.

Denver TV station ABC 7 caught video of the chase and eventual capture from their helicopter.


Pug picks fight with police dog outside Phoenix barricade

As police worked to negotiate with an armed robbery suspect barricaded in his Phoenix home, a little dog wandering the street tried to pick a fight.

Police were in front of the home for more than four hours. 


Denver deputy suspended for 90 days after taekwondo

A Denver sheriff’s deputy who is also a taekwondo instructor was telling other deputies how he practices martial arts to "stay in shape," and demonstrated a kick to his colleague.

An inmate then interjected with "that isn't a kick" and "you ain't s---."

What the deputy did next resulted in a 90-day suspension. 


Cut on Camera: Cop cuts off woman's weave

At many jails, prisoners are required to remove hair extensions that clip in because they could be used as a weapon or to commit suicide.

But Charda Gregory didn't have clip in extensions. She had a weave that was sewn right into her real hair. A Detroit-area cop was fired after she decided to take matters into her own hands, and attempt to cut the weave off the woman’s head


Helmet Cam: Baltimore bike rider attacked

A Baltimore-area man was riding his bike and not going very fast, when suddenly several young people knocked him off his bike and started beating him.

The attack was captured by a small camera mounted on his bike helmet. He'd been recording his rides for about a year — ever since a friend's bike was cut off by a truck.

CLICK HERE to see the full playlist of 2014's must-watch videos. 

How a Memo Cost Big Banks $37 Billion

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 19, 2014 - 11:53am
A government lawyer’s discovery of a warning to J.P. Morgan officials about shaky mortgages jump-started the Justice Department’s probe of financial-crisis wrongdoing.

5 foodie things to do this weekend (Dec. 19-21)

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 19, 2014 - 11:43am

From looking at gingerbread houses in Oxnard to slurping ramen noodles in Ventura and tasting Full of Life Flatbread pizzas in Ojai, there's plenty to do, see and eat in Ventura County this weekend.

1). You can look but you can't eat while admiring entries in the sixth annual gingerbread house contest presented by Heritage Square in downtown Oxnard. Find out who took the prizes in such categories as "favorite landmark," "most festive" and docents' and people's choice awards during the display's final viewing hours for the season: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. (Heritage Square Hall, 715 South A St., 483-7960, heritagesquareoxnard.com).

2).  Nearly 20 food trucks and dessert vendors are expected to roll into Ventura for a holiday version of Midtown Food Truck Friday. The event from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Trader Joe's parking lot near the Pacific View mall will include activities for kids, live music by the Hueneme High School marching band, and your pick of dishes from such trucks as Belly Bombz, Cousins Maine Lobster, Grilled Cheese Truck, Scratch and Desserts to Die For (Mills Road at Telegraph Road, Venturasfoodtruckfridays).

3). What's a ramen rally? "We serve ramen all day," explains Yukari Watanabe, owner of Gotetsu Japanese Restaurant located across the street from Ventura High School. The small but mighty eatery already known for its yakitori (skewers) and bento boxes will serve tonkotsu soup and other ramens from 5:30 p.m. to closing Friday and again from 11:30 a.m. Saturday (2098 E. Main St., 643-3199, gotetsu805.wix.com).

4). Want to taste farm-to-table combos from the wood-fired ovens of Full of Life Flatbreads in Los Alamos -- without crossing the Ventura-Santa Barbara County line? Then get thee to the Deck the Halls event from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Ojai Rancho Inn. Each of the rooms at the refurbished motor lodge will be transformed into showcases for handmade gift items (including Ojai's own A Salty Infusion line of herbal sea salts.) Full of Life will be there to fortify shoppers with winter-themed fare; beverages will be available at Chief's Peak, the inn's on-site wine and beer bar (615 W. Ojai Ave., 646-1434, ojairanchoinn.com).

5). Sizzling hot latkes (potato pancakes) will be on the menu during the free 12th annual Chanukah Festival & Concert from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Ventura Harbor Village. Co-presented by Chabad of Oxnard, Chabad of Camarillo and Chabad of Ventura, the event will include a grand menorah lighting, a DJ spinning Israeli and hip-hop tunes, and live music by the band Automatic Toys (1583 Spinnaker Drive, 382-4470, chabadofoxnard.com).

CALL AHEAD to avoid disappoint over last-minute changes and cancelations of events.

This list was compiled by Lisa McKinnon of the Ventura County Star. To submit information for consideration, send email to lmckinnon@vcstar.com


Raphaël Jerusalmy’s ‘Brotherhood of Book Hunters’

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
François Villon travels to Jerusalem in this literary mystery.

Open Book: Religious Reading

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Cynthia Ozick and others recommend novels with religious themes.

‘A Philosophy of Walking,’ by Frédéric Gros

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Charting the many ways we walk, and what they say about us.

‘America’s Pastor,’ About Billy Graham, by Grant Wacker

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
A study of Billy Graham’s ministry examines how American culture shaped him — and he shaped it.

‘Joan of Arc,’ by Kathryn Harrison

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Kathryn Harrison’s biography interweaves Joan of Arc’s story with both fictional and historical interpretations.

‘The Great Reformer,’ a Biography of Pope Francis

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
A biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio traces his Argentine origins and his path to the Vatican.

Children's Books: ‘Space Case’ and ‘The Twin Powers’

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
In these middle-grade novels, a young detective solves a lunar murder, and twins reunite to save their threatened worlds.

‘Ardor,’ by Roberto Calasso

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Roberto Calasso delves into the enigmatic web of ritual and myth that defined the ancient Vedic world.

Children's Books: ‘Alphabetabum,’ ‘Take Away the A’ and More

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Five alphabet books feature rhyme and alliteration, exuberant animals and found photos of children from the past.

‘The Norton Anthology of World Religions: Volume I’

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
The first volume of Norton’s two-part anthology includes texts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism.

Crime: Anthony Horowitz’s ‘Moriarty,’ and More

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Anthony Horowitz’s “Moriarty” is a Sherlock ­Holmes pastiche that opens five days after the great detective and his nemesis plunged to their doom.

Evan Thompson’s ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being’

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Merging neuroscience and philosophy, Evan Thompson casts new light on the relationship between the self and the brain.

‘Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms,’ by Gerard Russell

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
Gerard Russell chronicles the long survival of religious minorities in the Middle East, and the extreme peril they face today..

‘Living the Secular Life,’ by Phil Zuckerman

NY Times Books - December 19, 2014 - 10:39am
As more Americans eschew religious affiliation, a sociologist examines the secular lifestyle.
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