News In Focus: A Look at the World’s Most Interesting Stories

The Oscars: This year’s award ceremony was controversial from the get-go… as no person of color was nominated in any major acting category.

In his opening remarks, host Chris Rock reminded the crowd of this repeatedly, making many pointed jokes.

Fast forwarding, the evening saw:

* Julianne Moore presenting the Best Actor award to Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”). Said DiCaprio: “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

* Eddie Redmayne handing the Best Actress award to Brie Larson for her dazzling performance in “Room.”

* And Alejandro Inarritu receiving the Best Director nod for “The Revenant.” It’s Innarritu’s second straight year taking home the award.

The night’s two biggest surprises?

* “Spotlight,” which also won the Best Original Screenplay, beat out “The Revenant” for Best Picture.

* And Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) topped Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) for Best Supporting Actor.

Other notable wins included Alicia Vikander for Best Supporting Actress (“The Danish Girl”), “The Revenant” for Best Cinematography, “Writing’s on the Wall” for Best Original Song, and “Inside Out” for Best Animated Film.

But the real high-achiever of the night was “Mad Max: Fury Road” which single-handedly scooped six awards for costume design, production design, hair and makeup, editing, sound editing, and sound mixing.

We end this synopsis at the beginning… with Chris Rock’s opening monologue.


Books: The world mourned the loss of two best-selling and beloved writers.

The author of the all-time must-read classic “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee, 89, died on February 19.

Born in Monroeville, Alabama, in 1926, Harper Lee was the youngest child of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee.

Lee’s definitive work, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which addresses racial injustice, debuted in 1960.  The Pulitzer Prize-winning book has sold more than 40 million copies.

She had accompanied another modern American writer, Truman Capote, to Holcomb, Kansas, to help him research his 1966 crime book, “In Cold Blood.”

Harper Lee withdrew from public life shortly thereafter. In 2007, Lee received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W Bush.

Her second novel, “Go Set a Watchman” was published in July 2015.

ABC News remembered Harper Lee in the following video:

Meanwhile, Italian intellectual and writer Umberto Eco died at the age of 84 after a long battle with cancer.

Eco was born in 1932 in Alessandria, an industrial town in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy.  He graduated from the University of Turin in 1954, having studied medieval philosophy and literature, and later taught in the same institution while working at Italy’s state broadcaster, RAI, as a cultural editor.

The prolific writer was best known for his 1980 bestseller, “The Name of the Rose,” which sold some 30 million copies in more than 40 languages.  The book was a medieval detective novel set in an Italian abbey, and was later adapted into a film of the same name.  The film was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and starred Sean Connery.

Here’s a 2011 interview with Eco:


Science: The Discovery Science Channel aired declassified tape recordings held by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Those tapes revealed that the 1969 Apollo 10 astronauts heard strange “music” while passing over the far side of the Moon when their communication with Earth was completely cut off.

The sounds as captured by Apollo 10 resembled strange whistling — or like “outer space-type music” — said one crewmember. The sounds continued for about an hour before it stopped abruptly.

But according to Reuters, a NASA engineer said the unusual sound was interference between the module and the mission command center’s radios.

For more, we go to CNN:


UK: London Mayor Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that he will support the campaign for “Brexit” — the political buzzword meaning the UK leaving the European Union.

As a Conservative Party member and a member of Parliament, Johnson’s move directly contradicted the position of, and infuriated his party leader, Prime Minister David Cameron.

Boris’ support for Brexit might tilt the outcome of the upcoming referendum set to be held on 23 June to determine UK’s membership in the European Union.

The Mayor explained his decision because he wanted “a better deal for the people of this country, to save them money and to take control.  That is really what this is all about.”

For more on Brexit, we go to CNNMoney:


U.S.: Tycoon Donald Trump won a landslide victory in the Nevada caucuses last week after having won New Hampshire and South Carolina.

This week, on “Super Tuesday,” Republican delegates from 11 states will cast their votes for their party’s nominee.

Analysts suggest that if Trump gets similar support on Super Tuesday, he will be unstoppable.  From the recent polls, Trump could receive his party’s “coronation” after the Florida caucus, which will be held on March 15.

Can anyone stop Trump? PBS NewsHour has more:


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“Oscar” Image Courtesy of Tinseltown /