Common signs on for ‘Suicide Squad’

The "Suicide Squad" is swelling to super-sized proportions. Rapper/actor Common has joined the cast of the DC Comics super-villains flick, joining A-listers Jared Leto, Will Smith and a Margot Robbie and a host of others, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Oscar-winner's role isn't known yet, putting him in company with other recently announced additions Scott Eastwood ("Fury") and Ike Barinholtz ("The Mindy Project"). Common, who won Best Original Song with John Legend for "Selma," has become an increasingly familiar face on the silver screen lately. He appeared in the Liam Neeson action flick "Run All Night," and is also set to appear in the upcoming "Hunter Killer," starring Gerard Butler, Willem Dafoe and Billy Bob Thornton. Part of Warner Bros.' ambitious 14-movie superhero slate, "Suicide Squad" focuses on a band big-name villains forced to perform dangerous secret missions for the government. The features Leto (the Joker) Smith (Deadshot), Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jai Courtney (Boomerang), Joel Kinnaman (Randal Flagg), model Cara Delevinge and Screen Actors Guild Award-winner Viola Davis. Continue Reading

‘The Riot Club’ review: Oxford men abuse women and the commoners

Don’t bother with “The Riot Club” unless you enjoy watching filthy rich young Englishmen conduct an orgy of violence while vilifying the poor. Director Lone Scherfig (“An Education”) has actually done a classy job filming this adaptation of Laura Wade's play “Posh,” based on the exploits of Oxford's notorious Bullingdon Club. (Current British Prime Minister David Cameron was a member.) Britain's future captains of industry and Tory cabinet ministers drink, take drugs to excess, humiliate women, smash up restaurants and beat up commoners simply because, well, it’s an age-old tradition. It’s also handier for them to do all this before they start their careers. The point that the wealthy can get away with anything short of murder is well made. The only issue with the movie is that all but one of the revelers is an insufferably arrogant, obnoxious yahoo. The exception is Miles (Max Irons, Jeremy’s son). His opponent is his fellow club inductee Alistair (Sam Clafin). Former “Downton Abbey” starlet Jessica Brown Findlay has a thankless waitress role, but then all women are third-class citizens in this engaging but malignant look at male privilege run amok. Continue Reading

‘Run All Night,’ review: Liam Neeson serves up familiar payback, this time with Ed Harris, Common and Joel Kinnaman

Liam Neeson warns us what we’re in for from the first voiceover at the start of “Run All Night”: “I’ve done terrible things in my life.” If he’s talking about his choices as an actor, it’s certainly true. But although this new action-drama isn’t nearly as bad as “Taken 2,” “Taken 3” or “The A-team,” it does remain in the lower tier of Neeson’s save ’em-or-die flicks. Here Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a down-on-his-luck former hit man known as “The Gravedigger” whose estranged, thirtyish son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) winds up framed for a pair of killings committed by the bad-boy son of Jimmy’s former gangster boss (Ed Harris). In one night, Jimmy sets out to clear his son’s name, chased by the NYPD detective (Vincent D’Onofrio) who hunted him decades ago. As the Conlons crisscross the boroughs to avoid cops and thugs, a mild-mannered but fierce enforcer (Common) comes in to take Jimmy and Mike down. There are so many characters racing through the hyperactively edited “Run All Night” that it feels like a thriller made in the midst of the New York marathon. Like last year’s “The Drop,” there’s a Byzantine network of lowlifes and bosses, with Boyd Holbrook, playing the bad-seed son, standing out. Harris and D’Onofrio add some grit, and Nick Nolte shows up to bark out some back story. It’s hard to see them through the grimy cinematography, though. For the elder badass statesman Neeson, there is very little to distinguish Jimmy from Matt in “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” Bryan in the “Taken” films and Bill in “Non-Stop” except his omnipresent green Army jacket. Fatigue is all we get from “Run All Night,” which hits us with such other dialogue doozies as “I’m the best chance you’ve got to Continue Reading

Toxic shock syndrome is most common with use of super-absorbent tampons; here are the best ways to prevent it

Women are raising concern about the use of certain tampons after a California model named Lauren Wasser lost her leg as a result of developing toxic shock syndrome from a tampon. Wasser lost her leg in 2012 and is now suing the tampon brand Kotex Natural Balance after she almost died from using them. She claims to have changed her tampon three times that day, but later felt sick and went to bed. She ended up suffering a massive heart attack that shut down her organs. The tampon that Wasser used tested positive for toxic shock syndrome. SAMADI: 5 SIGNS FOR SPOTTING POTENTIAL ELDER ABUSE Should women be afraid to use tampons now? How can I prevent toxic shock syndrome? How do I know which tampons are safe? These are just some of the questions women are asking after they learn about Wasser’s story. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, yet serious and life-threatening complication that is caused by a toxin produced by certain types of bacterial infections. It is most commonly associated with menstruating women who wear super-absorbent tampons. The toxins are most often produced by staph bacteria, but in some cases is produced by strep bacteria. The difference between the two is mainly in their formation and cell division, but most notably, staph bacteria are found on the skin whereas most strep bacteria are found in the respiratory tract. SAMADI: 'WOMEN'S VIAGRA' COULD USHER IN A REVOLUTION Toxic shock syndrome has most commonly been associated with the use of super-absorbent tampons, which can instigate bacterial growth due to prolonged use. What many people don’t know is that toxic shock syndrome doesn’t occur just by using tampons alone. A women must have a specific strain of staph bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus in the vagina, which then grows within the tampon’s material to produce a harmful toxin. Staph is normally Continue Reading

The Running Doc discusses treatment for a common ailment – plantar fasciitis

Dear Running Doc: I am a 45-year-old that just started running six months ago. Five months ago I started having pain in the arch of my right foot and now in both feet. My doctor says I have plantar fasciitis and has sent me to physical therapy. In five months I haven’t gotten better and it hurts as soon as I get up in the morning. What she might do? Gerry S. New York, NY. Thank you Gerry for the question. Plantar fasciitis is a very common ailment patients come in to my office with. I have had great success over the years in getting runners back on the road quickly with this ailment. Physical therapy is not enough. If you follow my advice, you should not be having pain after one week. The plantar fascia is an elastic connective tissue covering the sole of the foot that holds up the arch. It actually runs the entire length of the foot from just behind the toe bones to the heel bone (calcaneus). When this shock absorbing pad becomes inflamed it is called plantar fasciitis. We see this condition commonly amongst middle-aged runners who had been sedentary and then suddenly increased the level of physical activity. Bad fitting shoes and or a weight gain of 10-20 pounds also may contribute to the condition. Understanding how the pain occurs is important in understanding how to fix it. The plantar fascia pain is due to overstretching or partial tearing of this structure. This injury happens to people with a very rigid high arch in most cases. The pain is felt whenputting weight onto the foot or when pushing off for the next running stride. When the plantar fascia arch starts to come down it stretches the active tissue and pulls on its fibers. The torn fibers may go into spasm and shrink with every step. The plantar fascia tears a little more and causes much more pain. Most people with this injury complained that they feel it particularly upon arising from bed in the morning or after sitting for a long while. With the weight off your feet, the Continue Reading

NYCFC, Yankees have more in common than their home field

This promises to be an eventful spring and summer at Yankee Stadium, and not just due to the continuing saga of Alex Rodriguez and the Bombers' quest to cram more monuments beyond center field. For the first time since the Cosmos in 1976, there will be a soccer team calling the Stadium home: New York City FC, the Major League Soccer expansion club in which the Yanks own a minority stake. Besides the Yankee ties and the fact that NYCFC, beginning with this Sunday's home opener, will be playing at least 17 times at their presumably temporary home in the Bronx - perhaps making the field look even worse than the Daily News' photos this week showed -- the city's new footballers have more in common with the Yanks than you might think. For Yankee fans uninitiated in the ways of soccer, especially MLS, rooting for NYCFC might just come naturally. Here some reasons why: 1. Get ready for a long season. While the Yankees will soon embark on another 162-game, six-month grind, MLS teams only play 34 regular-season contests, but the schedule stretches from early March until late October. That's eight months, or about as long as the 2014 campaign felt for Yankee fans who watched Brian McCann repeatedly hit directly into the infield shift. RELATED: VETERAN SOCCER STAR DAVID VILLA STRIKES OUT ON NEW NYCFC ADVENTURE 2. You can typically expect the roster to look different come July than it does in March. This is a concept Yankee fans should be quite familiar with, at least those who remember the years when the Bombers would frequently deal for big names at the trade deadline (see David Cone, David Justice, Pudge Rodriguez). International soccer has a July transfer window, which works quite well for European clubs who are between seasons, but in MLS it means that prominent names the league plucks from overseas normally arrive in midseason. NYCFC, in fact, has one such star on the way. Which brings us to … 3. The team's biggest story line Continue Reading

Daily Checkup: Inflammatory bowel disease strikes children as well as adults; most common are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

The Specialist As chief of pediatric gastroenterology and hepatology at Mount Sinai, Dr. Marla Dubinsky specializes in treating inflammatory bowel disease in children. She sees hundreds of IBD patients a year. WHO’S AT RISK In the past, doctors believed that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) rarely affected children — but studies now suggest that it is more common than previously thought, and that numbers are on the rise. “We currently understand inflammatory bowel disease to be an uncontrolled inflammatory response within the GI tract to what we call the microbiome or flora — the billions of microbial organisms that reside within our guts, and contribute to our general health in ways we don’t fully understand,” says Dubinsky. “We also know this uncontrolled response occurs in genetically susceptible individuals.” There’s probably an underlying cause that remains to be identified. “We believe that that uncontrolled inflammatory response is triggered by something we don’t yet know,” says Dubinsky. “Right now, IBD has no known cause, which renders a cure unlikely in the absence of known causative factors.” In a healthy person, the billions of bacteria that live in the gut are important and exist in a homeostatic state. “One hypothesis is that an imbalance in the microbiome triggers the immune response,” says Dubinsky. “Some doctors speculate that smoking or taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs might upset the balance, or that pediatric patients who have prolonged antibiotic use may have changed their bacterial profile so much that they are prone to immune diseases. We just don’t know for sure.” It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many children are affected by IBD. “We think about 7 kids per 100,000 have IBD, but the incidence is hard to quantify because it varies depending on region, and cohort to cohort,” says Continue Reading

New York state students opting out of Common Core exams continues rise: activists

The number of New York state students opting out of the controversial Common Core reading exams reached 155,237 as of Thursday, activists say. That’s up from 112,763 Wednesday. The anti-testing group United 2 Counter the Core compiled its estimate for the number of kids skipping the tests based on reports from educators and media coverage. The group does not have a complete count for the number of opt-outs in the city. Last year, 1,925 city kids boycotted the tests. This year, the group estimates 2,500 city kids have opted out so far. Gonzalez: Surge of the opt-out movement against English Language Arts exam is act of mass civil disobedience City and state education officials say an accurate count of students who skipped the exams is still weeks away. City schools boss Carmen Fariña said families should think twice before sitting out the math exams that start Wednesday. “As we go into math tests next week, I encourage parents to consider the value of the test,” Fariña said. Continue Reading

Samuel L. Jackson, Kanye West, Jeremy Piven, Common in talks for Spike Lee’s ‘Chiraq’: report

Kanye West is reportedly set to break into the movies with a role in Spike Lee's upcoming film "Chiraq". The Oscar-nominated director is also hoping to get Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven and Common on board with the project, The Wrap reports. The title is in reference to the nickname given to the rapper's hometown of Chicago, due to its high levels of violent crime. The movie is reportedly being made for Amazon Studios. Further details about the plot have yet to be revealed. Continue Reading

Testing, testing: Union-organized ‘opt out’ campaign against Common Core exams protects teachers, not students

To hear teachers unions and fringe parents tell it, New York’s public school children face rough treatment on the order of, say, waterboarding with the start Tuesday of annual standardized tests. The silliness of portraying children who answer English and math questions as victims of near-child abuse is exceeded only by the cynicism of the unions’ anti-testing propaganda campaign. Because the attacks on testing are orchestrated to protect teachers, not students. New York State United Teachers has launched an all-out drive to persuade moms and dads to boycott standardized exams. Last year, the parents of fewer than 2,000 city children and roughly 60,000 statewide “opted out” of tests. Now, NYSUT wants to boost those numbers because student achievement on the exams will be key to measuring teacher performance under the toughened evaluation system enacted by Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature. Widespread boycotts would undermine the credibility of teacher ratings, reducing the risk that the worst instructors could be fired. Kids would get worse than nothing out of the deal. Assessing students is the only true way to know whether schools — on which taxpayers spend $26 billion annually in New York City alone — are working. Avoid testing and you’ll find out whether Johnnie or Jane can figure out change for a $20 bill only after it’s too late. Standardized tests are the sole apples-to-apples tool school leaders can use to determine whether their teachers are superstars or duds. They’re the only way to know whether 1.1 million kids in city public schools, including many hundreds of thousands who are in veritable educational wastelands, are really learning. New York introduced so-called Common Core standards and exams in 2013. Properly, they are tougher than previous tests: The old exams rated more than half the kids proficient — even though little more than a fifth were actually Continue Reading