Oscar has always loved films based on true stories – 100 out of 485 Best Picture nominees since 1927 would qualify – but never more than this year. Four of the 10 features on the Best Picture slate are based on real characters and events: “The King’s Speech,” “The Fighter,” “The Social Network,” and “127 Hours.” Eavesdrop on departing moviegoers and you will inevitably hear, “I’d love to know what really happened.” Here are some facts behind the “true-life” stories contending for this year’s Best Picture Academy Award.
From the first spark of Middle East unrest in Tunisia in December until the violent suppression of protests in Libya in late February, the price of a barrel of crude oil rose from $88 a barrel to more than $100. But rising demand – from oil-hungry China and other fast-growing nations – was pushing prices up even before the turmoil. How much prices rise depends largely on whether supplies flow unimpeded from the Middle East. Here’s a rundown on oil supply-price issues affecting the US.
The one they called the "quiet Beatle" was born on Feb. 25, 1943 – which would have made today his 68th birthday. If you've been missing the man ranked at No. 21 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," you can of course simply turn up the volume on "All Things Must Pass." Or you can pick up a book. I'd advise one of the five below.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is earning widespread condemnation for his brutal tactics against a populist uprising. As the international community wrestles with how best to show their disapproval, one suggested option is imposing sanctions – a step French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the European Union to take. But their effectiveness is hotly contested. Here’s a look at how useful sanctions have been in changing the behavior of other nations.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has long elicited chuckles abroad with his outlandish attire and over-the-top rhetoric, but his brutal crackdown this week is no laughing matter. This backgrounder offers a look at how the eccentric dictator came to power – and how he's held on to it for more than 40 years.
What to read for background on Libya? The shelves of English-language libraries and bookstores are not exactly crammed with options. However, there are a handful of works – from histories to fiction to travel literature – which offer a good general grounding in the country's background and culture. Here, at least for starters, are some interesting suggestions.
For 30 years, the space shuttle launch has served as the centerpiece of the US space program. But Feb. 24 will mark the last shuttle launch of Discovery, with the final flight of Endeavour to follow in April and – if there's enough money – Atlantis's last flight of the entire program in June. Here are five questions about what the shuttles have – and haven't – accomplished.
Baseball has been very very good to books. Sure, people like to read about football, basketball, and even (gasp) golf. But no professional athletes seem to have inspired as many words between covers as the boys of summer. The sheer volume of baseball books makes it hard to put together any kind of "best of" list. But I decided to give it a try, enlisting the help of two professional sportswriters (both women, for a fresh perspective). They suggested three personal favorites and then I added three of my own.
As recent events in Egypt have shown, international support for aging despots can wane quickly once crowds hit the street and violence kicks off. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, in power now for 25 years, already faces declining support outside of his country – but it's unlikely he's going anywhere just yet. It's almost certain he'll win the official count in today's presidential election. Here are some reasons why the international community might not want to push Museveni too hard:
This is the time of year – when it’s been freezing for two months and the city is covered with dirty snow that won’t melt for another six weeks – that I dream of trading it all in for a simpler life. You know, one complete with farm animals, caves for aging cheese, and a vegetable garden large enough to supply all of Manhattan with frisée. I'll never do it – I can't really live without groceries delivered to my apartment, mass transit, and access to Korean food at all hours – but I can at least read about it. Here are five amazing, hilarious, utterly charming books brought to you by people, crazier, more desperate, and with even less impulse control than I: the ones who actually did it.
Bahrain (officially the Kingdom of Bahrain) doesn't usually receive much international attention. But the uprising that swept through the Middle East last year reached Bahrain's central Pearl Square, as thousands turned out to protest for reforms. Below are some key facts about this small cluster of islands off Saudi Arabia's coast.
Five writers from China, Japan, and India made the cut this week when the Man Asian Literary Prize announced the shortlist for its 2010 award for the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English last year. The winner will be announced at a dinner in Hong Kong on March 17.
Those who said that "winds of change" were blowing through the Middle East were right. The past two months have seen a series of stunning political shifts that began with Tunisians' ousting of their former president in mid-January. Tunis and Cairo's cries, first of first anger and then of jubilation, have been beamed into living rooms across the region and are now reverberating along the North African coast, through the Gulf, and up into the Levant. Here is a look at where those "winds of change" are taking us. (Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story that originally ran on Feb. 2 and will be continually updated.)
Oh, those amazing canines on display at the Westminster Dog Show! They're gorgeous and we all love to eye them, everything from the Affenpinscher to the Xoloitzcuinti. But for some beautiful true stories about the hearts of dogs – and the way that they star in our everyday lives – try one or all of the following books.
Financial aid dwindling. Rising tuition. College debt over $20,000. Financing a college education can be as hard as paying off a McMansion on an adjustable-rate mortgage. So why is Zac Bissonnette smiling? The senior art-history major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is set to graduate debt-free. "The great thing about graduating debt-free is that you have tremendous flexibility in terms of your postgraduation plans," says Mr. Bissonnette, author of "Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents." "You don't have to rush out and take the highest-paying job to make your sacrifices to the almighty church of Sallie Mae." Here are six ways you, too, can trim or eliminate college debt:
Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia's richest men – and the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team – has announced that he will challenge Vladimir Putin in the March 2012 presidential elections. His move to throw his hat in the ring has thrown the spotlight once again on Russia's billionaires. A record number of billionaires now call Russia home – 114 of them, according to an annual list of the 500 richest Russians published in February by the Moscow-based Finans magazine. The number of billionaires is up from a mere 77 in 2009. To make this year's list, a Russian tycoon had to be worth at least $160 million. The assets of the top 10 grew last year by a whopping 30 percent to a combined worth of $182 billion. The bonanza has yet to reach Russia's struggling middle class; average incomes rose a paltry 4 percent last year, according to the state statistics agency Rostat. To be a former associate of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin helps, apparently. According to the magazine, Arkady Rotenberg, who did judo training with a teenaged Mr. Putin, jumped 17 places to become Russia's 63rd richest person, worth $1.75 billion. Two neighbors from Putin's summer home community near St. Petersburg also shot through the ranks this year to become the 115th and 184th richest persons. Here are the top five: