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The first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the original hero Golden Egg from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on display at Profiles In History in Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles, on July 19, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

For Anniversary, A New Chapter Of 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory'

by Krishnadev Calamur
Sep 1, 2014

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The new U.K. cover of the classic, which turns 50 this month.

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The fan who suddenly got everything he wanted, the writer Roald Dahl never said in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, lived happily ever after. Fans of the beloved children's classic may not get everything they want, but they are getting a previously unpublished chapter from the book that turns 50 this month.

The chapter, Fudge Mountain, describes the Vanilla Fudge Room, an extra room in the chocolate factory. It was published over the weekend in The Guardian, with permission from Roald Dahl Nominee Ltd., which manages the late writer's works. It was originally chapter five in an early draft of the book.

In it, Charlie goes to the factory with his mother - not his grandfather.

The Guardian, in a separate article, says the lost chapter was "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children." Here's more from the newspaper:

"The chapter reveals the original larger cast of characters, and their fates, as well as the original names of some of those who survived into later drafts. Dahl originally intended to send Charlie into the chocolate factory with eight other children, but the number was slimmed down to four. The narrator reveals that a girl called Miranda Grope has already vanished into the chocolate river with Augustus Pottle: she is gone for ever, but the greedy boy was reincarnated as Augustus Gloop."

The new chapter comes weeks after the announcement that publisher Penguin was releasing a new U.K. cover for the book, which was first published in September 1964. That cover was criticized because, in the words of The Washington Post, "Why did the cover of a novel about five kids and a wonderful — if admittedly bizarre — candy-maker look like a scene from "Toddlers & Tiaras"?

Penguin has defended the cover, saying it "highlights the way Roald Dahl's writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life."

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in case you need to be reminded of it, follows Charlie Bucket as he makes his way through Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The book has sold millions of copies and inspired movies as well as a musical.

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Gen. George Pickett (Library of Congress)

151 Years Later, Pickett's Charge Hero Gets Medal of Honor

by S.V. Date
Sep 1, 2014

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First Lt. Alonzo Cushing, shown in an undated photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society, is expected to get the nation's highest military decoration this summer -- the Medal of Honor -- nearly 150 years after he died at the battle of Gettysburg. Confederate soldiers are shown during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, as Gen. George E. Pickett orders his 15,000 men to charge.

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A century and a half after Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, a 22-year-old Union officer whose heroics helped stop the rebels and turn the tide of the Civil War will finally receive the Medal of Honor.

The White House announced this week that Lt. Alonzo Cushing will receive the award, ending a near three-decade campaign begun by a Wisconsin woman, now in her 90s, who lives on what had been the family farm where Cushing was born.

"When he dies, he dies repelling one of the most fabled charges, attacks, ever in American military history," said Kent Masterson Brown, a Kentucky lawyer and historian who wrote a biography of Cushing after learning of him from an exhibit at Gettysburg during a childhood visit.

Cushing was only two years out of West Point on that third day of the battle, in charge of an artillery battery in the Army of the Potomac. According to the White House announcement, Cushing was manning the only artillery piece in his unit that still worked.

"During the advance, he was wounded in the stomach as well as in the right shoulder. Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece, continuing to fire in the face of the enemy," the White House statement said. "With the rebels within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand."

Brown said it was Cushing's pivotal role that has caught so many people's attention. "What caused them to latch onto Cushing was how he died, what he was doing when he died, who he was defending that position against when he died," Brown said.

It was in the course of researching his book that he learned of Margaret Zerwekh, who in 1987 started a letter-writing campaign to honor Cushing, including one to the late William Proxmire, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin.

"It's been a long time in coming, but I think it falls under the category of 'it's never too late to do the right thing,'" said Ron Kind, who started as an intern in Proxmire's office, and is now the Democratic congressman who inserted language into the 2014 Defense authorization bill that allows the award.

But why 27 years from Zerwekh's first letter to Proxmire to President Obama's announcement?

Congressional action was necessary because Medal of Honor referrals are supposed to take place no later than two years after the event. For years, members of Congress from the South were uneasy about re-opening the Civil War, particularly a battle that has become the focus of lost-cause lore for generations.

"I think there may have been some concerns about a Union soldier receiving recognition at Gettysburg, and I think there are still some people who are sensitive about the Civil War and how it's depicted," Kind said.

In recent years, the vocal congressional opposition boiled down to Jim Webb, the former Democratic senator from Confederate Gen. George Pickett's home state, Virginia. Webb blocked attempts to honor Cushing, Kind said, because so much time had passed since the war that it would be nearly impossible to determine the facts of what Cushing did in the battle.

An assistant to Webb pointed to a letter he wrote to Senate colleagues in 2012 about his concerns.

"As a point of observation, the Confederate Army lost more than 250,000 dead — one third of its soldiers — and received no Medals of Honor," Webb wrote in a letter to other senators in 2012. "While one would never wish to demean any act of courage, I believe that the retroactive determination in one case would open up an endless series of claims. The better wisdom for this body would be to leave history alone."

Webb retired from the Senate in 2012, and Kind said Webb's successor, Democrat Tim Kaine, did not share Webb's concerns. What's more, a Pentagon review Webb had wanted was completed, which further supported Cushing's case.

"If there were objections being raised, we obviously talked to those individuals to make sure that there weren't any problems in moving forward," Kind said.

Whether most members of Congress knew they were wading into the Civil War when they passed that bill is unclear. Kind's amendment authorizing Cushing's medal was contained in a package of 14 proposed changes offered on the House floor last summer by Texas Republican Mac Thornberry — everything from permission for the defense secretary to evaluate suicide prevention to a prohibition against collaborating with China on cyber-security.

They were passed without any mention about Cushing on a voice vote — on a Thursday evening following seven hours of debate, when most House members had already gone for the night.

Six months later, negotiators for the House and Senate hammered out a compromise defense bill. This passed both chambers without much discussion, as Congress worked to wrap up for the year quickly.

"There were no surprises in any of this," Kind said.

Cushing will become the 1,523rd Union soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, and only the second since 1915, said Laura Jowdy, the archivist at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. "The Confederate side would not qualify for a medal," she said. "Although some might argue they should."

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Monday for a cease-fire in Ukraine, but demanded that Ukrainian troops leave positions from which they can "harm the civilian population." His comments come ahead of talks in Minsk, Belarus, involving Ukraine, Russia, Russia-backed separatists and international monitors. (Xinhua /Landov)

Ahead Of New Talks, Russian Minister Calls For Ukraine Cease-Fire

by Krishnadev Calamur
Sep 1, 2014

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First Lt. Alonzo Cushing, shown in an undated photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society, is expected to get the nation's highest military decoration this summer -- the Medal of Honor -- nearly 150 years after he died at the battle of Gettysburg. Confederate soldiers are shown during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, as Gen. George E. Pickett orders his 15,000 men to charge.

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Russian and Ukrainian officials are meeting today in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, with Russia-backed separatists and international monitors to discuss a proposed cease-fire to stop the fighting in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the meeting's goals should be a cease-fire, but he demanded that Ukrainian troops leave positions from which they can "harm the civilian population."

Karoun Demirjian, who is reporting for NPR from Moscow, tells our Newscast unit:

"[A] rebel leader in Donetsk told Russian news service Interfax that their main goal is to win recognition of their independence from Kiev.

"During a television interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin said statehood in eastern Ukraine should be one of the topics up for discussion — the Kremlin stressed though, that Russia isn't directly supporting calls for independence.

"Meanwhile, Ukraine's military spokesman says that Russian formations were directly firing on troops at the Luhansk airport overnight. Russian-backed separatists say they seized the airport today."

Monday's meeting in Minsk comes a day after a Ukrainian border guard vessel was attacked near the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is reporting from Mariupol for Newscast, says Ukrainian officials blamed Russian-backed separatists for the attack on the vessel patrolling in the Sea of Azov. She adds: "The separatist fighters last week launched an offensive along the coastline and now control several towns and villages here.

The crisis in Ukraine has resulted in the worst ties between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Indeed, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN on Sunday that the U.S. should "provide the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., echoed those calls in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation.

"Give them the weapons they need," he said. "Give them the wherewithal they need. Give them the ability to fight."

In a news conference last week, President Obama blamed Russia for the violence in Ukraine. The administration's actions against Russia have so far mainly been limited to economic sanctions on Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors.

"Capital is fleeing, investors are increasingly staying out, his economy is in decline," Obama said last week. "This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia."

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Michael Keaton stars as a washed-up film star trying to make a stage comeback in Alejandro Inarritu's Birdman. (Alison Rosa)

After A Ho-Hum Summer, Hollywood Ramps Up For Fall

Sep 1, 2014

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Gael Garcia Bernal is an imprisoned Iranian journalist in Jon Stewart's directorial debut, Rosewater. Confederate soldiers are shown during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, as Gen. George E. Pickett orders his 15,000 men to charge.

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Note: There are 26 films in the on-air version of this story — but here are three favorites.

Hollywood hauled out Apes, Transformers, and X-Men and still had a humdrum summer at the box office. For the first time in years, no summer blockbuster's managed to crack the $300 million barrier at the North American box office. In fact, until Guardians of the Galaxy came along, the film industry was looking at its lowest attendance figures in more than a decade.

Still, hope springs eternal, and with nearly 100 pictures lined up for the fall, there are bound to be a few that get pulses racing again.

Intriguingly, none of them — not even one — qualifies as a straight-up superhero movie. There is a black comedy about an actor who once played a superhero, and who is now so down on his luck he's fantasizing about a return to stardom ... on stage. That's Alejandro G. Inarritu's Birdman, with former Batman Michael Keaton suffering an elaborately visualized breakdown in the title role. Critics have been raving since the film's Venice Film Fest premiere earlier this week.

They've also had affirmative things to say about Rosewater, the film that first-time writer/director Jon Stewart took a leave of absence from The Daily Show to shepherd to the screen. Rosewater tracks the tough ordeal Iranian journalist (and Daily Show guest) Maziar Bahari was put through in an Iranian prison after authorities there decided his work for foreign news organizations amounted to spying.

And if the Middle East doesn't darken your mood, director Christopher Nolan may manage it in Interstellar, a vision of a future where humankind is rapidly running out of food, and the world's best minds are convinced that their task is not to save the earth, but to find a way to escape it.

Cheery stuff — and all hitting theaters before Thanksgiving, after which the awards contenders come out to play: Broadway musicals, biblical epics, hobbits. The sun'll come out tomorrow, dontcha know.

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Aug. 26. in New York City. (Getty Images)

It Might Sound Stupid, But Maybe It Isn't The Economy This Time

Sep 1, 2014

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Gael Garcia Bernal is an imprisoned Iranian journalist in Jon Stewart's directorial debut, Rosewater. Confederate soldiers are shown during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, as Gen. George E. Pickett orders his 15,000 men to charge.

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As they always do on Labor Day, political candidates will begin their campaign sprint to Election Day.

And for years, they have been running on simple advice: "It's the economy, stupid." But this time around the track, they may discover that many Americans want to hear about other issues as well.

Wait. What?

The economy is not the No. 1 issue?

That's right. Gallup pollsters asked voters what was important, and the No. 1 topic turned out to be dissatisfaction with politicians. No. 2 was immigration. The economy had slipped to only No. 3.

Given the depth of the recession and slow motion of the recovery, it can be almost jarring to realize that the U.S. economy no longer is in crisis mode. Despite a setback amid harsh weather this past winter, economists now say the recovery is advancing at a good clip.

Just last week, the Commerce Department revised its measure of total growth, the GDP, up to 4.2 percent for April, May and June. That very strong pace of expansion was two-tenths of a point higher than previously thought.

And the Conference Board's leading economic index's surged 0.9 percent in July, the sixth straight monthly gain.

"The big jumps in the leading economic index over the past couple of months indicate solid growth for the U.S. economy through the rest of 2014," Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services, said. "The economy is close to firing on all cylinders."

Of course for the millions of Americans who lost jobs or homes during the Great Recession, a true recovery may yet seem very far off in the future. But for many households, life really is getting back to normal.

Here are some statistics to help understand how much has changed since the last mid-term congressional election in 2010, when most people said the economy was "extremely" important in choosing candidates.

JOBS — In November, 2010, voters were heading to the polls in a country that had been staggered by job losses. That month, the unemployment rate was at a frightful 9.8 percent. Currently, it's down to 6.2 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in June, the most recent month for which it has data, employers had 4.7 million job openings, the highest number in 13 years. And July marked the sixth straight month with new hires exceeding 200,000, the first such streak since 1997.

STOCKS — If you had money in a 401(k) retirement savings plan back in 2010, you probably were feeling sick to your stomach heading into that election cycle. On Labor Day of that year, the Dow Jones industrial average was still hovering around 10,500 — down dramatically from its 2007 peak of about 14,000.

But these days, the DJIA is hovering around 17,000. In other words, your savings have recovered all that was lost in the financial crisis, and you're watching markets set new record highs.

DEFICIT - In the 2010 election, a major issue was the exploding budget deficit. But in an update released last week, the Congressional Budget Office said the federal deficit is now shrinking faster than previously forecast because of sustained growth and low interest rates.

The deficit for fiscal 2014 is now projected to be $506 billion, or just 2.9% of gross domestic product. That is less than one-third of the deficit's recession peak — and below the average deficit level over the past 40 years.

GAS PRICES - Despite the turmoil in the Mideast, gas prices have remained tame this summer. Gasoline has been averaging around $3.43 a gallon, down by about a dime from last year. This will be the cheapest Labor Day driving period since 2010, according to AAA, the auto club.

AUTO SALES - In August, 2010, new vehicle sales were slightly below 1 million. This August, J.D. Power and its partner LMC Automotive say total sales reached 1.5 million units.

Other indicators involving housing and business investment also have been looking positive this summer.

So does all of this that mean voters are in a cheery mood?

No. There's still lots to worry about. In fact, a new Rutgers study found workers feel "insecure, underpaid, highly stressed, and generally unhappy at work."

Just as millions of older Americans never were able to shake off the financial and psychological impacts of the Great Depression, many people today are struggling get back on track and feel confident again. The Rutgers study concluded that "despite sustained job growth and lower levels of unemployment, most Americans do not think the economy has improved in the last year or that it will in the next."

That kind of reaction is common in a downturn. For example, following the 1980-82 recession, pessimism lingered. In October 1984, during the Reagan administration, 63 percent of Americans said they thought the next generation would be worse off.

But polling shows that over time, a recession's impact starts to recede as new issues grab center stage. This summer's news has been filled with disturbing reports about immigration, the Middle East, Ukraine, Ferguson, Ebola, ISIS and even airplane catastrophes.

"Many more Americans now mention a non-economic issue — such as dissatisfaction with government, immigration, or ethical and moral decline — than an economic one as the top problem," the Gallup poll concluded.

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