Ben Carson To Endorse Donald Trump

Ben Carson and Donald Trump at the CNN presidential debate at the Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015.

Ben Carson and Donald Trump at the CNN presidential debate at the Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015. Ethan Miller/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Ben Carson will endorse his former rival Donald Trump on Friday, the real estate mogul announced during Thursday evening’s debate.

The Washington Post first reported Carson’s endorsement. Trump has scheduled a 9 a.m. ET press conference at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where the retired neurosurgeon is expected to make his endorsement official.

Carson’s support comes just a week after he officially ended his campaign. The famed African-American doctor had a surge of support last fall, but faltered after terrorist attacks exposed his weaknesses on foreign policy.

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GOP Debate: Republicans Hope For Civility As Rubio, Kasich Fight For Survival

A worker walks across the stage as CNN prepares for the Republican Presidential Debate Thursday in Miami, Florida.

A worker walks across the stage as CNN prepares for the Republican Presidential Debate Thursday in Miami, Florida. RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Last week’s GOP debate was animated, to say the least. Within the first few minutes there were mentions of body parts and plenty of mudslinging between Donald Trump and the other candidates.

GOP leaders are hoping and praying tonight’s debate will be a bit more civil. But there is much more on the line for the two trailing candidates than ever, which could leave them clawing at their rivals.

Marco Rubio has the home court advantage in the CNN debate broadcast from Miami, but it might not matter. Polls show him behind Trump in the Sunshine State, a must-win for the Florida senator in next Tuesday’s winner-take-all primary.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich also faces a home state test on March 15th as he tries to fend of Trump in the Buckeye State and claim his first state win. Many Republicans have begun to question the rationale for both Rubio and Kasich’s campaigns, and they’ll both need a breakout moment tonight.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is working to make the argument that he’s the party’s best hope to topple Trump, and he’s making moves in Florida too.

Still, the real estate mogul gained even more momentum this week as he claimed victory in Mississippi and Michigan. He could face questions tonight about violence toward protesters and reporters at his campaign rallies.

Other GOP candidates have tried and failed to throw punches at Trump in past debates, and even Rubio admitted this week he regretted some of the language he used to hit the GOP delegate leader.

NPR’s Mara Liasson previewed four things to watch the debate. We’ll be updating the latest during the debate here tonight.

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Apple Vs. The Government, In Their Own Words

Seats are reserved for Apple and FBI at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this month. Apple and the government are fighting over whether the company needs to make it possible for investigators to read data on the encrypted iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

Seats are reserved for Apple and FBI at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this month. Apple and the government are fighting over whether the company needs to make it possible for investigators to read data on the encrypted iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The legal dispute between Apple and the FBI continues: the government has filed a response to Apple’s refusal to cooperate with a federal magistrate’s order instructing it to assist the FBI in circumventing the security features on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In their legal filings, Apple and the government face off on a number of issues. Apple says the government is using the court system to assert broad authority that hasn’t been granted by Congress; the government says Apple is overstating the wide-reaching security concerns and creating “warrantproof” devices.

Below, in the words of their own filings, are a few of the issues where the two parties most fiercely disagree:


Is Apple too far removed from the Farook case?

The magistrate judge’s order instructing Apple to cooperate with the FBI’s request relies on the All Writs Act, a 1789 law that courts have used to compel companies’ assistance in investigations. The All Writs Act, or AWA, can only be used if it’s not an unreasonable burden on the company, and if the company isn’t “too far removed” from the situation.

  • Apple says its connection to the case doesn’t justify it being “drafted into government service”: “Apple is a private company that does not own or possess the phone at issue, has no connection to the data that may or may not exist on the phone, and is not related in any way to the events giving rise to the investigation.”
  • The government argues that Apple has a “continued connection” to phones after they are sold: “Apple intentionally and for commercial advantage retains exclusive control over the software that can be used on iPhones, giving it monopoly-like control over the means of distributing software to the phones. … Having established suzerainty over its users’ phones—and control over the precise features of the phones necessary for unlocking them—Apple cannot now pretend to be a bystander, watching this investigation from afar.”

[In case you, like us, were thrown for a loop by the word “suzerainty,” it means the position or power of a suzerain, or feudal overlord.]


What about a possible future burden?

  • Apple argues writing the software would pose an undue burden, particularly because its burden would be multiplied by future requests: “If Apple creates new software to open a back door, other federal and state prosecutors—and other governments and agencies—will repeatedly seek orders compelling Apple to use the software to open the back door for tens of thousands of iPhones.”
  • The government says there’s no precedent for considering potential future burdens, and says only the burden of writing software for this phone should be considered: “By accumulating its hypothetical future burdens, Apple suggests that because so much criminal evidence is hidden on its warrant-proof iPhones, it should not be compelled to assist in gathering evidence related to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Apple is wrong.”

Is using the All Writs Act an example of judicial overreach?

  • Apple also argues that this particular use of the AWA extends beyond precedent in a way that ought to be decided by Congress: “Congress has never authorized judges to compel innocent third parties to provide decryption services to the FBI. Indeed, Congress has expressly withheld that authority in other contexts, and this issue is currently the subject of a raging national policy debate. … The unprecedented order requested by the government … would preempt decisions that should be left to the will of the people through laws passed by Congress and signed by the President.”
  • U.S. Attorneys respond … : “Congress intended for the Act to be broad and flexible, capable of rising to meet new obstacles to the courts’ lawful exercise of jurisdiction. The Act is not a judicial usurpation of congressional power, but rather an example of Congress’s reliance upon the courts’ sound discretion and close familiarity with specific facts to ensure that justice is done.” … and also argue this precise argument has been used before, and the nation’s highest court found it wanting: “In deciding New York Telephone, the Supreme Court directly confronted and expressly rejected the policy arguments Apple raises now. Like Apple, the telephone company argued: that Congress had not given courts the power to issue such an order in its prior legislation; that the AWA could not be read so broadly; that it was for Congress to decide whether to provide such authority; and that relying on the AWA was a dangerous step down a slippery slope ending in arbitrary police powers. … In the forty years since that decision, it has become clear that the Court was correct because those fears have proved unfounded.”

Could such software be reused?

  • Apple: “Once the process is created, it provides an avenue for criminals and foreign agents to access millions of iPhones. And once developed for our government, it is only a matter of time before foreign governments demand the same tool.”
  • The government: “As Apple well knows, the Order does not compel it to unlock other iPhones or to give the government a universal ‘master key’ or ‘back door.’ It is a narrow, targeted order that will produce a narrow, targeted piece of software capable of running on just one iPhone, in the security of Apple’s corporate headquarters.”

Could such a program be requested for other criminal cases in the future? Maybe, the FBI says, but it’s not relevant now: “future cases involving other iPhones will be decided on their specific facts.”


Does the magistrate’s order violate the First Amendment?

  • Apple: “The code must contain a unique identifier ‘so that [it] would only load and execute on the SUBJECT DEVICE,’ and it must be “signed’ cryptographically by Apple using its own proprietary encryption methods.’… This amounts to compelled speech and viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
  • The government: “There is reason to doubt that functional programming is even entitled to traditional speech protections. …To the extent Apple’s software includes expressive elements—such as variable names and comments—the Order permits Apple to express whatever it wants, so long as the software functions. … “At most, the Order compels conduct—namely, the removal of barriers from Farook’s iPhone—with an incidental effect on ‘speech’ (i.e., programming).”

Did the FBI effectively cause this legal standoff?

  • Apple: ‘”Unfortunately, the FBI, without consulting Apple or reviewing its public guidance regarding iOS, changed the iCloud password associated with one of the attacker’s accounts, foreclosing the possibility of the phone initiating an automatic iCloud back-up of its data to a known Wi-Fi network … which could have obviated the need to unlock the phone and thus for the extraordinary order the government now seeks. Had the FBI consulted Apple first, this litigation may not have been necessary.”
  • The FBI calls that “both untrue and irrelevant”: “A forced backup of Farook’s iPhone was never going to be successful, and the decision to obtain whatever iCloud evidence was immediately available via the password change was the reasoned decision of experienced FBI agents investigating a deadly terrorist conspiracy. … Both the FBI’s testing and Apple’s security documentation show that entire categories of evidence … reside only on the iPhone and not on an iCloud backup, and that some of the backup data would still have been encrypted.”

Who wants to set a dangerous precedent?

  • Apple says this court order leads down a slippery slope that expands government’s reach into Americans’ private lives: “If the government can invoke the All Writs Act to compel Apple to create a special operating system that undermines important security measures on the iPhone, it could argue in future cases that the courts should compel Apple to create a version to track the location of suspects, or secretly use the iPhone’s microphone and camera to record sound and video.”
  • The FBI says Apple is undermining the country’s legal system and usurping the government’s authority: “Apple’s rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amendment, longstanding precedent and venerable laws, and the democratically elected branches of government. … The government respectfully submits that those authorities should be entrusted to strike the balance between each citizen’s right to privacy and all citizens’ right to safety and justice. The rule of law does not repose that power in a single corporation, no matter how successful it has been in selling its products.”

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California To Permit Medically Assisted Suicide As Of June 9

Debbie Ziegler holds a photo of her late daughter, Brittany Maynard, while speaking to the media in September after the passage of California’s “End Of Life Option Act.” Maynard was an advocate for the law. Carl Costas/AP hide caption

toggle caption Carl Costas/AP

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation last October that would allow terminally ill people to request life-ending medication from their physicians.

But no one knew when the law would take effect, because of the unusual way in which the law was passed — in a legislative “extraordinary session” called by Brown. The bill could not go into effect until 90 days after that session adjourned.

The session closed Thursday, which means the “End of Life Option Act” will go into effect June 9.

“We’re glad to finally have arrived at this day where we have a date certain,” says Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel.

“It’s a historic achievement for California, and for a limited universe of people dealing with a terminal illness,” Monning says. “It could indeed be a transformative way of giving them the option of a compassionate end-of-life process.”

Disability-rights advocates fought hard last year against passage of the legislative act, and they continue to voice concern.

Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, says it would be impossible to know, for example, if a depressed patient went to many doctors who all denied the request for lethal medication before finding one who agreed to write the prescription.

“We are looking ahead at measures to protect people from abuse,” Golden says, “and to explore and inform doctors, nurses and pharmacists that they don’t have to participate.”

As written, the law requires two doctors to agree, before prescribing the drugs, that a patient has six months or less to live. Patients must be able to swallow the medication themselves and must affirm in writing, 48 hours before taking the medication, that they will do so.

California is the fifth state to permit this option at the end of life. It joins Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana.

Across the state, some patients with advanced cancer welcomed the news.

“It gives me a great peace of mind to know that I will not be forced to die slowly and painfully,” says Elizabeth Wallner, in a release from Compassion & Choices, an aid-in-dying advocacy group. Wallner, 52, of Sacramento, is a single mother with stage IV colon cancer that has spread to her liver and lungs.

“It gives great comfort to know that the agonizingly traumatic image of me suffering will not be my family’s last memory of me,” she says.

Monning says he’s grateful to people who worked for passage of the law, some in their final days:

  • Brittany Maynard, an Orange County, Calif., woman with brain cancer, moved to Oregon to take advantage of laws there that allowed her to get lethal medication. Before she died in 2014, she recorded a video that was shown during hearings on the “End of Life Option Act” in Sacramento.
  • Jennifer Glass, of San Mateo, Calif., helped to launch the campaign in 2014, then died of lung cancer last year.
  • Christy O’Donnell, 47, of Los Angeles, died of lung cancer last month.

“I really believe,” Monning says, “we use today to mark and dedicate the memory of some true champions.”

This story was produced by member station KQED’s blog State of Health.

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Publishing Heavyweights Petition White House, Congress To End Cuba Book Embargo

The petition will appear on the March 14 editorial cover of Publishers Weekly, which is one of the signatories.

More than 50 major players in the U.S. publishing industry are petitioning the White House and Congress to end the Cuba trade embargo as it pertains to books and educational materials.

Calling the book embargo “counter to American ideals of free expression,” the petition — endorsed by publishing companies, authors, and agents — says, “books are catalysts for greater cross-cultural understanding, economic development, free expression, and positive social change.”

The petition will appear on the March 14 editorial cover of Publishers Weekly, which is one of the signatories. Courtesy Of Publishers Weekly hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Of Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly, which plans to run the petition on the cover of the magazine’s March 14 edition, posted it on their website. It says that last month about 40 American publishing industry representatives met with their counterparts in Havana, Cuba, in order to “build bridges of understanding and explore opportunities for greater cultural and economic collaboration.”

The petition also notes that Cuba’s adult literacy rate of nearly 100 percent is among the highest in the world. It says there are plenty of commercial opportunities for American and Cuban publishers that could benefit “readers and writers everywhere.”

The petition comes as the U.S. continues to work to normalize relations with the island nation and just ahead of President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 21-22. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

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Trump Rally Attendee Charged After Protester Punched In The Face

John Franklin McGraw was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in the incident.
YouTube

New videos circulating on social media show a protester at a Donald Trump rally being punched in the face by an audience member as he was being led out of a rally Wednesday in Fayetteville, N.C.

The apparent assault comes on the heels of another altercation showing a woman being pushed at a Trump rally last week, as well as two stories (here and here) of reporters having physical run-ins with Trump’s security and staff. The Trump campaign has denied one of the incidents took place.

The most recent video shows a young man who appears to be African-American raising his middle fingers to the North Carolina crowd as he is being led out of the Crown Coliseum. An audience member rears back his fist and takes several steps toward the protester before punching him in the face. The next frames of the video show police detaining the man who had been punched, but not his attacker.

John Franklin McGraw was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in the incident. Courtesy of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

Rally attendee John McGraw was since charged with assault and disorderly conduct in Wednesday’s incident, according to a post on Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler’s Facebook page. Butler said the deputies who were escorting out the protester did not actually see the assault take place. They later viewed footage of the event to identify McGraw.

“No one should be subjected to such a cowardly, unprovoked act as that committed by McGraw,” said Butler.

Several months ago, referring to a protester at one of his rallies, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.” He has also made veiled threats against media reporters, said he would defend in court anyone who hurt a protester at another rally, and said “I’d like to punch him in the face,” about another protester.

Protesters and hecklers at presidential rallies aren’t a new phenomenon. They followed former President George W. Bush and still follow President Obama.

But Carolyn Lukensmeyer, director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, a non-partisan advocacy group, said she can’t remember a recent time when animosity towards the protesters actually broke out into a physical fight.

Lukensmeyer fears incidents like this represent a dark turn in American politics. “We’re now seeming to cross a line where the commitment to plurality and civil society is being lost,” she said. “We’re crossing lots of lines here and lots of Americans are increasingly disturbed by it.”

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Fighting Extremism With Knowledge: Learning The Lessons Of Muhammad

Sheikh Hassan Lachheb conducts the Portrait of a Prophet course in Lanham, Md. The course is based on the stories of the Hadith, personal recollections of the Prophet Muhammad put down in writing about two centuries after his death.
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Sheikh Hassan Lachheb conducts the Portrait of a Prophet course in Lanham, Md. The course is based on the stories of the Hadith, personal recollections of the Prophet Muhammad put down in writing about two centuries after his death. Courtesy of CelebrateMercy hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of CelebrateMercy

The religion of Islam was founded by Muhammad, the 7th century prophet whom Muslims call “the messenger of God.”

They don’t consider him divine, but they follow his teachings closely. Good Muslims are taught to emulate the prophet in all matters, personal, spiritual and worldly.

Perhaps no time in recent history has it been more important to do as the Prophet Muhammad did — and not as someone says he did.

With terror groups like ISIS now invoking his name, many Muslim leaders say radicals who cite the prophet to justify violence misrepresent his teachings.

Some Muslim leaders argue that young Muslims need a firmer grounding in their own faith and the prophetic tradition, both to equip them better to counter religious propagandists and also to bind them more closely to Islam.

Attendees listen to a presentation at the Portrait of a Prophet course in Lanham, Md. Men and women sat side by side at this lecture, which was less formal than Friday services.

Attendees listen to a presentation at the Portrait of a Prophet course in Lanham, Md. Men and women sat side by side at this lecture, which was less formal than Friday services. Courtesy of CelebrateMercy hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of CelebrateMercy

Most of what is known about how Muhammad lived is set down in the Hadith, which consist of recollections of the prophet’s life by his companions, first passed on orally and later put down in writing. Taken together, they constitute what Muslims call the “tradition.”

One effort to promote religious literacy among young Muslims is the CelebrateMercy initiative. Sheikh Hassan Lachheb, a Moroccan-born Islamic scholar from Knoxville, Tenn. — along with a slate of guest speakers — conducts a series of lectures around the country, titled “Portrait of a Prophet.”

He reads selections from the Hadith, some of them apparently mundane stories about how Muhammad lived, and explains what young Muslims can learn from them. (Click the audio link above to hear the full story.)

Even what seems like the most trivial detail — what kind of sandal he wore, for instance — serves a purpose: humanizing Muhammad, making it easier for Muslims to emulate him.

Hassan argues that if Muslims had more knowledge of how the Prophet Muhammad actually lived and what he taught, they would be less vulnerable to extremist propaganda. Counterterrorism officials — who’ve focused largely on surveillance, sting operations and community policing — would have more success countering extremism, he says, if they supported efforts to deepen religious literacy among young Muslims.

He cites the abundance of examples from the Hadith that emphasize charity and respect for other faiths.

The tradition associated with the Prophet Muhammad, Hassan says, “has never been radicalized and has always produced beauty, always produced involvement in the community, always produced tolerance.”

“If you’re bypassing all of that to come with a political solution (to extremism),” Hassan says, “I don’t think it’s going to work.”

Below are a few lessons from the life of Muhammad.


The Lifestyle Of The Prophet

  • Among Muhammad’s favorite foods were dates, melon and cucumbers. He enjoyed cool, sweet drinks, including a type of date juice, often mixed with milk and honey. His followers often brought him food from their gardens. He always sent them home with a gift in return.
  • The prophet is said to have had a thick head of hair and wore it long. It was gray on the sides, and like many men he oiled it with a henna-like product that gave it a reddish tint. The streets were often filled with dust and to keep his oiled hair protected, he often wore a scarf on his head, like a bandanna.
  • Before going to sleep each night, the prophet would blow on his hands. Even in his sleep, he could be heard blowing. It was not a snoring sound. He normally slept on his right side.

    The Significance

    The Hadith contain many narrations about the Prophet Muhammad’s personal appearance and habits. Muslims are encouraged to learn about these apparently trivial aspects of his story, because it helps them feel more connected to him.

    “One of the things we’re taught is that we should love the prophet, not just intellectually but experientially,” says Dalia Mogahed, a guest speaker at a Celebrate Mercy course held in Maryland recently. “How do we do that without detailed information – the way he walked, the way, he stood, the way he looked. It’s about imagining who he was.”

    Hassan, the sheikh, reminds his students that the prophet lived in a particular time in Arabia. Some of the things he did and said should be understood in their cultural and historical context, such as how many wives he had and at what age they were betrothed.

    Guidance For Daily Life

    • Muhammad and his family ate a type of bread made with barley. He often gave the bread away before sharing it with his family. By the time he distributed it in his household, the bread was sometimes as hard as a rock. He would dip the bread in water to soften it, but there was not much to go around. The prophet’s family did not have their fill of barley bread until after he passed away.
    • The prophet preached that living a life of ascetism and poverty does not mean one has to be scruffy. He often told his companions to bathe and sometimes admonished them for not cleaning their fingernails or brushing their teeth or combing their hair. Not being clean, he said, affects one’s spiritual state.
    • The prophet was never obscene in speech nor boisterous. He did not find fault in people. When he was angry with someone, he simply turned away. When he was happy, he lowered his gaze. When he laughed, he flashed his white teeth.

    The Significance

    Some of the Hadith offer Muslims guidance for their daily lives. Moaz Hayat, 18, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., says one lesson he took from the course about the prophet is that he should take better care of his body, as the prophet did.

    “He was a very well-built man,” Hayat says. “He wasn’t just a scholar sitting in an ivory tower.”

    Dalia Mogahed, a guest speaker, says that the story of Muhammad reaching out to the Jews of Medina has important lessons for how Muslims in America should relate to a diverse society.

    Dalia Mogahed, a guest speaker, says that the story of Muhammad reaching out to the Jews of Medina has important lessons for how Muslims in America should relate to a diverse society. Tom Gjelten/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Tom Gjelten/NPR

    Sheikh Hassan uses the story of the prophet’s aversion to profanity to tell his students that “obscenity is not cool. We have to teach our children this,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I’m talking from experience in the immigrant community. Too many think it’s cool to say stuff like the N-word. It’s not fun. We have to combat it. We do have racism in our community.”

    A Lesson On Inclusion And Politics

    • When Muhammad moved to Medina from Mecca, he found it to be a far more cosmopolitan city, with a large and thriving Jewish community. In Medina, the prophet followed many Jewish habits, even if they differed from what the Muslims did. The Jews, for example, wore their hair in a distinctive style, and the prophet changed his hair style in Medina to match theirs.

    The Significance

    The Prophet Muhammad “wanted the Jews to feel close,” Hassan, the sheikh, says. “They were ‘People of the Book,’ (from the Abrahamic tradition and whose beliefs are based on a holy text).”

    Elaborating on the story, Mogahed — who studies Muslim-American communities as director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding — says it showed the prophet “wanted to lessen the barrier between Muslims and Jews. He wanted to connect with them.”

    This was a story, she says, with implications for how Muslim-Americans should see their role in U.S. society.

    “What this means is, we have to understand the culture and the context we live in,” she says. “We should do all that we can to connect to people and respect their culture.”

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    California Lawmakers Vote To Raise Smoking Age To 21

    A smoker holds a cigarette in San Francisco, California.

    A smoker holds a cigarette in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

    toggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    The California Senate voted Thursday to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The measure is part of a larger package of legislation aimed at cracking down on tobacco.

    If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, California will become the second state, after Hawaii, to raise the age limit for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products. More than 100 cities around the country, including New York and Boston, have already raised the age limit.

    A week ago, the California Assembly approved the measure, which — in addition to raising the age limit — regulates electronic cigarettes the same as tobacco products, expands smoke-free areas, increases smoking bans and allows counties to levy higher taxes on cigarettes than the 87-cent per pack state tax. According to NPR member station KQED, the Assembly’s vote came a few days after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors increased the age to buy tobacco products to 21.

    California lawmakers passed the bill despite lobbying from tobacco interests, the Associated Press reports. The measure also faced opposition from many Republicans, who said the state should not be involved in policing peoples’ personal choices.

    “I don’t smoke. I don’t encourage my children to,” said Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner, according to KQED. “But they’re adults, and it’s our job to treat our citizens as adults, not to nanny them.”

    But proponents of the bill say raising the age to 21 moves legally purchased tobacco that much farther from younger kids.

    “This will save the medical system in the outgoing years millions of dollars,” said Democratic Assemblyman Jim Wood, according to KQED. “It will save thousands of lives.”

    As the AP reported, a 2015 study by the Institute of Medicine “found that if the minimum legal age to buy tobacco were raised to 21 nationwide, tobacco use would drop by 12 percent by the time today’s teens reached adulthood. In addition, there would be 223,000 fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer.”

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    It's Not Really 'Cloverfield,' But It's A Lot Of Fun

    John Goodman as Howard; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

    John Goodman as Howard; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Michele K. Short/Courtesy of Paramount Pictures hide caption

    toggle caption Michele K. Short/Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

    [This is a film it’s very hard to talk about at all without spoiling at least the premise and the basic setup, but this review does its level best not to go beyond that point.]

    “What does this have to do with Cloverfield?”

    Putting that question out of your mind during 10 Cloverfield Lane is ignoring the elephant in the room, but everything about the film, from its out-of-the-blue viral campaign to its thrilling commitment to misdirection, makes it possible. Some connections eventually emerge, as might be expected from one of producer J.J. Abrams’ puzzlebox narratives, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is not another found-footage War of the Worlds scenario. And it doesn’t take place in the wide-open spaces of a city under siege, either. For the longest time, it appears that the Cloverfield franchise is united mainly by the aesthetic principle of offscreen space — not the catchiest hook, but an enormously effective one.

    The obvious reason the two films connect so thinly is that 10 Cloverfield Lane wasn’t originally conceived as a sort-of sequel, but retrofitted like the chainsaw Bruce Campbell attaches to his arm in Evil Dead II. In sharp contrast to the shaky-cam of Cloverfield, first-time director Dan Trachtenberg gives the opening scenes a classic Hitchcockian quality, nodding specifically to Janet Leigh’s dash out of town in Psycho and laying on a muscular score (by Bear McCreary) in homage to Bernard Herrmann. Also like Hitchcock, the story takes a decisive turn once a car peels off the road.

    That car belongs to Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a Louisiana woman who’s first shown hastily packing her things in a suitcase and a box, and rushing out of her apartment, leaving her wedding ring behind. Shortly after an evening pitstop for fuel, Michelle gets in a car accident that sends her careening down an embankment. When she awakens, she finds herself hooked to an IV drip in an unadorned cement bunker with her leg handcuffed to a pipe. Before she can improvise her way out of trouble, her captor comes thundering through the door. His name is Howard (John Goodman), he explains, and contrary to appearances, he saved Michelle from the wreck and is currently protecting her from threats unknown.

    There’s reason to believe he’s right. Howard claims that after the accident, there was a chemical attack that rendered the air unbreathable, and being the cheerful paranoiac he is, he’d built an underground shelter for just such an occasion. Along with a third resident named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), the two of them have enough supplies to wait out the apocalypse for a year or two, when the toxicity has presumably passed. Howard is a disturbing guy who lords over Michelle and Emmett like a belligerent father, but any attempt to escape risks the likelihood of instant death the moment they peek their heads above ground.

    All this may sound like the set-up to an M. Night Shyamalan twist, and certainly 10 Cloverfield Lane does have the obligation to pay off its Twilight Zone premise. But Trachtenberg and his screenwriters, Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken, take advantage of the shelter’s tight quarters, which contribute to the expected pressure-cooker atmosphere of suspicion and hostility but also open up the punch-drunk comedy of people going mad with boredom. Howard may be a controlling monster, but he’s got a kick-ass jukebox and he’s always up for board games or late-night viewings of Pretty In Pink on VHS. (Just be sure to compliment him on his spaghetti.)

    Goodman’s ability to vacillate between regular-guy jocularity and Biblical fury has made him a Coen brothers favorite since Barton Fink, and his performance helps modulate the film’s stomach-clenching tonal shifts. But Winstead is every bit as good as the frightened yet resourceful heroine, who has to make difficult decisions about if, when, and how to act, and validate the serpentine logic of the script. Their battle of wills adds a substance to 10 Cloverfield Lane that the improvising ninnies of the original Cloverfield couldn’t muster, despite its novel perspective on the monster movie. The gimmickry eventually arrives — and, god help us, the Cloverfield “mythology” — but by then, the film has succeeded thoroughly on its own terms.

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    Sally Field Elevates The Tale Of A Woman Of A Certain Age

    Sally Field stars as Doris in Hello, My Name Is Doris, a film about coming of age in old age.

    Sally Field stars as Doris in Hello, My Name Is Doris, a film about coming of age in old age. Aaron Epstein/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions hide caption

    toggle caption Aaron Epstein/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    The eccentric middle-aged cat lady has met the vintage-loving hipsters. Hello, My Name Is Doris stars Sally Field as a woman whose attraction to a much younger man leads her on a journey into young-adult circles, where she is celebrated for her “unique style” — at least until someone has the guts to tell her what ironic appreciation means.

    Doris is a deeply sympathetic character, a Staten Island native who has lived in her mother’s house for her entire adult life. When her mom dies, she’s cast adrift, unable to throw out anything in the cluttered home despite the incessant pleadings of family and friends. We feel Doris’ pain simply because Field is one of the most gifted actors working, capable of being flighty and nervy and deeply sad all at the same moment. She’s in every scene and carries the film through a weak script that often sells her character’s intelligence far short.

    At work, where Doris has clung to her bottom-rung accounting job even as 20-somethings have replaced all her colleagues, she falls for the new art director, a young catch played by Max Greenfield. He’s required to be quite a bit more subdued here than in his regular gig as New Girl‘s Schmidt, but still wrangles in a few funny lines. The schoolgirl crush seems destined to end before it begins, but Doris gets sneaky and “catfishes” her target to model herself after his interests. “Find someone who looks like they have a master’s degree,” she instructs her friend’s granddaughter as she constructs her fake Facebook profile. Suddenly Doris is sporting hip neon threads and jamming to electronic dance bands. (The film’s indie-band parody, “Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winters,” is only one step removed from real-life indie band Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s.)

    Michael Showalter, who directed, adapted Doris from a short film by New York University student Laura Terruso (Showalter teaches at the school). Showalter is best known for his roles in sketch comedy franchises like The State, Stella and Wet Hot American Summer, where he constantly mocked the tropes of film and TV while honing a tone so arch it was like having his elbow perpetually pressed into your side. He did the same in The Baxter, his 2005 directorial debut. Seeing him attempt something so sincere, so rooted in human behavior instead of screwball goofs, makes for a strange yet welcome bit of cognitive dissonance.

    In Doris, Showalter embraces many of the same middlebrow story beats he used to see himself transcending. The protagonist may be a couple of decades older than normal, a fact that is this film’s main selling point as an object of representational progress, but there’s still a misunderstanding at a party, a mistaken identity and a cluttered house symbolizing an unkempt state of mind. Doris even has a few moments of pathos, including a heartbreaking monologue that allows Field to play some real emotion. But it’s not entirely a sapfest, as there are also great comedy ringers in the margins, including Kumail Nanjiani and Natasha Lyonne as co-workers and Tyne Daly as Doris’ best friend. Daly’s lived-in sass cuts through the smirking young people, as when she snaps at Doris, “You’re just the weird old lady in the funny clothes to them.”

    In its probing of the generation gap that defines hipness, Doris bears similarities to Noah Baumbach’s smart 2015 comedy While We’re Young, though its societal critiques are not as clever nor its story as compelling. Still, through it all, Field is one weird old lady who refuses to be pinned down.

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