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Actor Josh Brolin interview: 'I tried heroin. Most of the guys I grew up with are dead now'

josh brolin
© Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Josh Brolin: 'I learned from doing a lot of really, really bad acting.'
Labor Day spins the story of Frank, an escaped convict who gatecrashes suburbia and proceeds to cook a peach cobbler to die for. "Let's put a roof on this house," says Frank, up to his muscled forearms in flour, as he prepares to add the pastry to the filling. Labor Day, it should be noted, is not a film to skimp on its metaphors. The peach cobbler represents the tumbledown family home, sad and broken and in need of repair. No doubt it also represents Frank, whose crusty exterior contains a warm, gooey centre. Perhaps it even says something about the actor who plays him too.

If you're looking for the classic outsider on the inside, a study in friction, then Josh Brolin's your man. He is the child of privilege who trails a rough and tumble history; the self-critical nerd in the body of a jock; a 21st-century movie star who is out of joint with his time. When I walk in the room, he is slouched on the couch, leafing through a magazine spread of pictures from the sets of the original Star Wars films. Brolin marvels at antique black-and-white shots of members of the cast and crew; he can barely tear himself free. "Ah, there they are," he says. "All drunk and coked up."

Stock Down

Royal Bank of Scotland nears junk bond status‏

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© Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
New RBS chief executive Ross McEwan has outlined a plan to restore profitability which Moody’s said carries ‘significant execution risk’.
Royal Bank of Scotland has edged closer to junk bond status after a leading credit ratings agency downgraded the state-controlled bank's debt following record losses and fears of regulatory punishment.

Moody's also warned of further downgrades as it expressed concern about the bank's plan to revive its fortunes in the wake of a £8.24bn loss in 2013 - its sixth successive year of losses.

Andrea Usai, a senior credit officer at Moody's, said: "Over a longer-term horizon, RBS's restructuring plan should be beneficial for creditors if executed according to plan.

Stock Down

China warns investors to prepare for wave of bankruptcies

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© Feng Li/Getty Images
China's Premier, Li Keqiang, was speaking after the annual session of the national people's congress.
China is braced for a wave of industrial bankruptcies as its slowing economy forces companies with sky-high debts to the wall, the country's premier has said.

Premier Li Keqiang told lenders to China's private sector factories they should expect debt defaults as the world's second largest economy encounters "serious challenges" in the year ahead.

Speaking after the annual session of the national people's congress, Li Keqiang said: "We are going to confront serious challenges this year and some challenges may be even more complex." He told lenders to China's private sector factories they should expect debt defaults.

Airplane

Plane disappearances - a brief history

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© Mak Remissa/EPA
A man writes a message for passengers of Malaysian Airline flight MH370 on a banner at Kuala Lumpur International airport.
Since 1948, 100 aircraft have gone missing in flight and never been recovered.

Should the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 never be found, its disappearance would be by far the biggest such unexplained disaster in aviation. Yet such disappearances are not that uncommon: according to records assembled by the Aviation Safety Network, 100 aircraft have gone missing in flight and never been recovered since 1948. Some of the most notable include:

Newspaper

'Operation Smear Nigel Farage' - politics of the lowest form

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© Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Ukip leader Nigel Farage gives a press conference at the party's 2014 spring conference.
There are still 382 days before the Queen dissolves parliament, but Operation Get Farage is revving into action. Splashing allegations that he had a "mistress" across the Daily Mail and BBC news bulletins are being justified in the public interest, of course. The former Ukip MEP Nikki Sinclaire exploited the European parliament's immunity from libel law to throw the revelations to a slavering media pack. Farage was fuelling unemployment, she cheekily suggested, by employing both his wife and "former mistress Annabelle Fuller", a suggestion passionately contested by Farage and Fuller.

You don't have to be a fan of Nigel Farage to object to this style of politics. It's personal, lowest common denominator, play-the-man-not-the-ball nonsense, beloved by the likes of Tory spin doctor Lynton Crosby. By all means attack the hypocrisy of a party that rails against the "EU gravy train" while milking its expenses: in 2012, for example, Ukip MEPs claimed nearly £800,000 EU expenses and allowances. Opponents of the state often have the least scruples about taking from it, and given generous donations to the party from Ukip MEPs, it could be justifiably claimed that this virulently Eurosceptic-party is partly EU-funded. But let's not pretend this is anything other than an excuse to discredit Farage via his private life, accompanied with nudge-nudge wink-wink stories about his "womanising" from former colleagues.

X

Say what? Police Dept. denies Freedom of Information Request for their own Freedom of Information Handbook

NYPD police officer
© Associated Press
An NYPD police officer in Times Square / AP
Transparency advocates decry 'ludicrous' ruling

The New York City Police Department has denied a public records request and subsequent appeal for its Freedom of Information handbook.

MuckRock journalist Shawn Musgrave filed a records request under New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for the police department's FOIL handbook, the guide officers use to apply public record law.

However, the NYPD told Musgrave its Freedom of Information handbook is not covered by FOIL, arguing it is protected under attorney-client privilege.

The NYPD said the information in the handbook reflects "confidential communications between members of the FOIL unit and their attorneys in the context of the providing of legal advice concerning the meaning and requirements of the Freedom of Information Law."

Journalists and transparency advocates who have long complained about the NYPD's culture of secrecy criticized the latest rejection.

"What's ludicrous here is that the NYPD is refusing to be open about its own transparency process itself," Musgrave told the Washington Free Beacon. "Even if attorney-client privilege applied here - and I don't believe that it does, not for the department's FOIL handbooks and manuals, at least - department lawyers can absolutely choose to release this basic information. Even the FBI and NSA have released similar documents with minimal redactions."

Robert Freeman, the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, said that, while he has not seen the handbook, the NYPD's arguments are tenuous at best.

Dollars

Fox host: Overtime pay isn't fair to companies because it makes employees greedy‏

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© Unknown
Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Thursday asserted that paying overtime could stifle companies like Google, and that a proposed White House change to overtime rules was essentially "buying votes."

Bloomberg News reported this week that the Obama administration was considering directing the Labor Department to make more American workers eligible for overtime pay. The rule change was expected to target fast food and retail companies which often label workers as "supervisors" or "managers" so they do not have to be paid for more than 40 hours of work.

Cell Phone

Two teenage girls 'tortured mentally disabled boy, forced him to perform sex acts and recorded it all on their cell phones'

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Lauren Bush, 17, has been charged with assault, child pornography and false imprisonment.
Two teenage girls are behind bars following allegations that they carried out a campaign of harassment against a mentally-challenged boy including stabbing him, dragging him by the hair and forcing him to engage in sex acts with an animal.

The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office said 17-year-old Lauren Bush and an unnaned 15-year-old girl - both students at Chopticon High School in Morganza, Maryland - recorded the assaults against the autistic 16-year-old victim on their cell phones.

Footage shows the suspects force the teen to walk on a partially frozen pond, which resulted in him falling through the ice several times.

Each time, police said, the suspects refused to help the boy out of the frigid water.

Sheriff Tim Cameron told ABC7 that the allegations leveled against the girls are among the most disturbing he has dealt with in his career.

He says that several times between December and February, the suspects preyed on the victim - assaulting him with a knife, kicking him in the groin, dragging him by the hair, coercing him to engage in a sex act with an animal, and forcing him to walk on the partially frozen pond.

Alarm Clock

Viewpoint: Is macho culture causing young men to take their own lives?

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Three times as many men as women kill themselves. Is a culture of masculinity where men struggle to communicate their feelings partly to blame, asks Jonny Benjamin.

I can vividly recall the moment I decided I was going to take my own life. It was early on the Sunday evening of 13 January 2008. Suicide had been something I had contemplated since my mid-teens, but it wasn't until now, just a couple of weeks from my 21st birthday, that I made a plan to actually end my life.

Light Sabers

Indian diplomat in US strip search saga: Indian diplomat wins indictment's dismissal in U.S. district court

Devyani Khobragade
© REUTERS/Stringer
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade (C) leaves with her father Uttam Khobragade (L) from the Maharashtra Sadan state guesthouse to meet India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in New Delhi January 11, 2014.
An Indian diplomat charged in New York with visa fraud and making false statements about a domestic worker she employed has won dismissal of a federal indictment, ending a chapter in an dispute that frayed U.S.-Indian diplomatic relations.

Devyani Khobragade, who was India's deputy consul-general in New York, had diplomatic immunity when she sought on January 9 to dismiss the indictment, and thus could not be prosecuted, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday.

Prosecutors accused Khobragade of making Sangeeta Richard, her housekeeper and nanny, work 100-hour weeks at a salary of just over $1 an hour, far below the legal minimum U.S. wage of $7.25 an hour.