Amy Adams gives the real story behind the Today Show segment cancellation

Amy Adams spoke with USA Today about her Today show interview, which was abruptly canceled early Monday. The segment was intended to promote her newest film Big Eyes but was nixed after Adams did not want to discuss the Sony hack. Adam’s part in the hacking story broke on December 12th when an exchange between Sony co-chair Amy Pascal and other execs surfaced, appearing to show that she and Jennifer Lawrence were paid two percent less than their male co-stars, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and director David O’Russell. Today Show released a statement about the decision to yank the segment.

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“As a news program, the Today show doesn’t allow guests to dictate restrictions on interviews. In this case, after hours of discussion we felt uncomfortable with the demands being made and we determined the best course of action for all parties involved was to cancel the interview.”

Adams in her USA Today interview discussed the incident. “I expressed that I was uncomfortable. I said I would rather not add my voice to this conversation,” “But it was clear they were drawing a hard line. That this would be part of the conversation.” Adams noted that despite her misgivings, “I was prepared for that [line of questioning]; to whatever degree I was prepared.”

The five-time Oscar nominee hosted “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend and made no mention of the hack, choosing to make her monologue into an extended holiday-themed song and dance number. Instead, the show addressed the scandal with Mike Myers reprising his role as Dr. Evil to discuss the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be behind the attacks, and with a bit during Weekend Update in which the dictator was played by Bobby Moynihan. Other stars linked to the scandal have also been ducking and weaving to avoid questions about the cyber-attack. Seth Rogen and James Franco, the stars of “The Interview,” had canceled all their media appearances surround the movie, partly because of concerns about their safety, well before the studio announced that it was halting distribution of the flick.

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Hillary Clinton defends use of private email during State Department tenure

After weeks of arguments over Hillary Clinton’s use of private email to conduct State Department business, Clinton came out of the shadows and spoke to reporters on Tuesday. She admitted it would have been better to use a government email address along with the private one she used during her tenure as Secretary of State. Clinton said she used a private address for her official work out of convenience.

She emphasized during her address that she went above and beyond what she was required to do regarding the private email system, which was allowed during her time as Secretary of State as long as she kept records. She claimed that she did not discuss classified information on her personal email. Clinton’s discussion comes just hours after she spoke at the United Nations discussing gender equality. Clinton is accused of using a private email server that was installed at her New York residence and her own internet domain to conduct official business. Prior to this news conference, her only comments about the controversy came via Twitter on March 4. According to Clinton, the email server was set up for use by President Bill Clinton. Hillary assured the media that numerous safeguards were in place and that there were never any security breaches.

Read more at Examiner.com

Venezuela government faces sanctions for human rights violations

President Obama issued an executive order declaring a national emergency in regards to Venezuela. The executive order imposes sanctions on seven Venezuela government officials, accusing them of human rights violations and declaring Venezuela a threat to the United States national security. Venezuela’s economy is in shambles as the country’s ruling President, Nicolas Maduro has sparked protests for arresting opposition leaders.

White House officials announced the sanctions do not target the energy sector or the country’s economy. The White House said the executive order targeted people whose actions undermined democratic processes or institutions, had committed acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption. The move increases tension between Washington and Venezuela, just as President Obama is working to normalize relations with the communist neighboring country of Cuba.

The seven officials named in the order include domestic securityand intelligence officials, would face their property and interests in the United States frozen and be denied entry into the United States. United States companies would also be prohibited from doing business with the country. This order is the ninth state of emergency declared by President Obama, after renewing 20 emergencies declared by previous Presidents. Read more at Examiner.com

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High ranking Democrat Bob Menendez facing corruption charges by DOJ

It was announced on Friday, Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are preparing charges against Democrat Senator Bob Menendez, alleging he used his office to push the interests of top Democratic donor and friend Salomon Megen in exchange for gifts. The charges are expected in the next few weeks. Menendez has continued to claim he is innocent. Eric Holder has remained quiet on whether he authorized the charges against Menendez. CNN first broke the story Friday afternoon.

The case could lead to a high-profile test over the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute sitting congress members. This case also led to a heated legal battle over whether key evidence is protected by the Constitution’s Speech and Debate clause. Prosecutors are working to prove he broke the law in advocating for Melgen’s business interest in a Dominican Republican government contract for a port screening equipment. Customs and Border Protection agency considered donating port screening equipment to the foreign government, which would have hurt the contract of Melgen’s company. Menendez was appointed to the Senate in 2006 and later elected to a full term in the same year. He is the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.  Read more at Examiner.com

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Jodi Arias cheats death after hung jury, leaving sentencing to judge

For the second time in the Jodi Arias murder trial the jury has become deadlocked over determining on whether Arias deserves the death penalty or life in prison. A judge on Thursday announced the deadlocked jury. As a result of this jury being the second one to become deadlocked in the penalty phase of Arias case, Arias no longer facing the possibility of the death penalty. The sentence of life in prison will now be decided by Judge Sherry Stephens on April 13. Arias will either receive life or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Arias will receive get credit for the six years she has already served.

The jury in the penalty phase retrial got the case February 25 and took 26 hours before the judge declared the jury was hung. It has taken 2½ years to reach this point. Travis Alexander, 30, was found dead in the bathroom of his Mesa, Ariz., home in June 2008. He had been shot in the head, stabbed nearly 30 times, and his throat was cut from ear to ear. His body sat there for five days before it was discovered by friends. Arias, whom Alexander described as a stalker, even though he would travel with her on trips and invite her to his house for late-night trysts. Investigators found photographs from the last one — naked shots of both Alexander and Arias, as well as photos of Alexander in the shower minutes before he was killed. One photo even showed his inert body on the floor next to Arias’ stockinged foot. Read more at Examiner.com

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Netanyahu speech shines a light on the reality of a nuclear Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, pleading with Congress to stop Iran’s march of conquest. His speech occurs during Secretary of State John Kerry attempting to make a nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu laid out multiple indictments against the Iranian regime. He accused the Iranian regime of playing a game of hide and cheat with nuclear weapons inspectors.

The United States and five other world powers are negotiating a deal with Iran that would seek to put at least a decade-long halt to its nuclear program. Netanyahu called for the US to slap tougher sanctions against Iran in order to force a harder line against Iran, and is currently a heated debate in the Senate. Netanyahu dismissed the belief that the only alternative to a nuclear agreement would be war, instead proposing that world leaders should seek a better deal. Before Netanyahu arrived in the United States, the speech revealed the reality of a partisan divide over the delicate relationship between Israel and the United States.

Speaker John Boehner extended the invitation to Netanyahu without consulting the White House, which many considered a breach in protocol. Many top Democrats viewed the invite as an attempt by Republicans to undermine Obama’s efforts to sign a nuclear deal with Iran. Read More at Examiner.com

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President Obama threatened to down Israeli jets if they bombed Iran nuke facilities

Several Middle Eastern news outlets on Sunday, reported that President Obama threatened to attack Israeli jets if they attempted to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities. Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reports that the alleged threat from the White House forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the planned attack. The White House spoke to the Washington Times, calling the report “totally false.” the Israeli plan was practiced for several weeks in the form of aerial war exercises, and that Israeli Air Force even test-flew their fighter jets over Iranian airspace to simulate the actual planned attack. Israel National News published an account of the report from Al-Jarida.

It said the Netanyahu government decided to attack Iran sometime in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel’s back. An unnamed Israeli minister who is closely tied with the Obama administration disclosed details of the attack plan to Secretary of State John Kerry and that Obama then threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. This report comes only days before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.S. Congress about the continuing Iranian nuclear threat. Read more at Examiner.com

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Central Command: Iraqi military not ready for major ISIS assault

Military officials’ plan to reclaim Mosul, Iraq has been pushed back several months, according to Defense officials on Saturday. This is a sudden shift for the military, who earlier announced that a first major ground assault against ISIS could come in a matter of weeks. This latest change of plans, shows the fight against ISIS is not going as smooth as the White House envisioned. Late Friday, Defense Department spokesman Rear. Admiral John Kirby, refused to discuss any sort of timeline and said he can’t say a certain date.

The on-the-ground fight to retake Mosul isn’t likely to start until the fall at the earliest, after an intensified air campaign to target Islamic State leaders and cut off supply lines in and around the city, according to Fox News. Last month, Central Command said U.S. and Iraqi military were planning a campaign to liberate Mosul, by April or May. U.S. military officials now say they believe that Iraqi’s best military units are many months away from being in a position to successfully conduct such an operation. Read More at Examiner.com

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