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Congress Passes The Violence Against Women Act

House Republicans raised the white flag Thursday on extending domestic violence protections to gays, lesbians and transsexuals after months of resisting an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act.

GOP leaders, who had tried to limit the bill before last November’s election, gave the go-ahead for the House to accept a more ambitious Senate version written mainly by Democrats.

Democrats, with a minority of Republicans, were key to the 286-138 House vote that sent to President Barack Obama a renewal of the 1994 law that has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers.

t was the third time this year that House Speaker John Boehner has allowed Democrats and moderates in his own party to prevail over the GOP’s much larger conservative wing. As with a Jan. 1 vote to avoid the fiscal cliff and legislation to extend Superstorm Sandy aid, a majority of House Republicans voted against the final anti-violence bill. Read more…

Coming Soon: “Downton Abbey”‘s First Black Character

“Downton Abbey” is delving right into 1920s race relations, according to the Sun, and for the first time, the show is casting a black character. In notes to casting agents, producers say Jack Ross will be “a musician at an exclusive club in the ’20s.” Aged 25 to 30, “he’s black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma.” Read more…

Seth MacFarlane’s Most Offensive Oscar Jokes

Academy bosses must have known Seth MacFarlane would come to the Oscars armed with a few bad-taste jokes—and the “Family Guy” creator did not disappoint. Some of the rookie host’s more controversial moments, as per Entertainment Weekly and the Huffington Post:

  • “Django Unchained” ”is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence—or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, ‘a date movie,’” MacFarlane said. Boos were heard when he added, “A lot of controversies over the use of the n-word in the film. I’m told apparently the screenplay is loosely based on Mel Gibson’s voicemails.” Read more…

Sisters’ Oscar Feud Continues, 71 Years Later

Olivia de Havilland and her sister, Joan Fontaine, have been feuding away since they were kids—but things got really bad at the 1942 Academy Awards, and they’ve never improved. De Havilland is, of course, well known for her role as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in “Gone With the Wind.” But Fontaine is an actress as well, and in 1942 they were both nominated for Best Actress. Fontaine won, and said she “felt Olivia would spring across the table and grab me by the hair.” De Havilland won her own Best Actress award four years later, and refused to take her sister’s hand when Fontaine tried to congratulate her. Read more…

Pistorius Case: Witness Heard Woman Scream, More Gunshots

Police labeled Oscar Pistorius a flight risk as his bail hearing resumed in South Africa today, reports the AP. Prosecutors, who accuse the athlete of premeditated murder, told the court that a witness heard “nonstop talking, like fighting” from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. on the night girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot, The New York Times reports. The morning’s main witness was the first officer to arrive on the scene, reports the BBC, and he told the court that “we have [the] statement of a person who said after he heard gunshots, he went to his balcony and saw the light was on. Then he heard a female screaming two-three times, then more gunshots.” Pistorius told the court yesterday he thought he was shooting a burglarwhen he fired through a bathroom door. Read more…

Mindy McCready Dead At 37

Mindy McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, has died. She was 37. The coroner in Cleburne County, Ark., said McCready died today in Heber Springs but couldn’t immediately provide further details. He didn’t have further information on who was taking care of her two sons. Read more…

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