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Nerd Alert: Star Wars theme parks are not ‘far, far away’

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R2-D2 will be rolling into Mickey Mouse’s neighborhood, Disney announced Saturday, unveiling plans for two huge “Star Wars” attractions at existing theme park venues in Florida and California.

With star Harrison Ford on hand, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that after Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm three years ago, “we wanted to bring ‘Star Wars’ to every corner of our company… Not only on screens but in real life.”

“We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single-themed land expansion ever,” Iger said.

“These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

In addition to that battle experience, visitors will be able to drive “one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy,” the Millennium Falcon, on a secret mission, he said.

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The Star Wars additions will be in Orlando, next to Disney Hollywood Studios, and in Anaheim, next to Disneyland.

The 14-acre (5.6-hectare) sites will have their own staff and restaurants will be staffed by wild creatures from the space saga.

“You’ll have a chance to run into all the droids and fantastic beasts,” Iger added.

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It’s the first time the entertainment giant is trying the “Star Wars” theme at its parks.

– New films in pipeline –

The three-day D23 expo at the convention center in Anaheim — home to the original Disneyland Park — has drawn Disney fans and media representatives from around the globe.

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Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said that on the heels of his smashing success with “Jurassic World,” director Colin Trevorrow would be at the helm for the upcoming “Star Wars – Episode IX.” It is due out in 2019.

The cast of “Star Wars – Episode VII – The Force Awakens” — the next chapter in the wildly popular franchise — drew a massive round of cheering, particularly for Ford, known for playing Han Solo.

As part of its strategy to squeeze the most out of the “Star Wars” universe, Disney plans to release one film a year until 2019.

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After “Episode 7” will come “Rogue One,” in December 2016. It is currently filming with Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) directing, and starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Forest Whitaker.

– Jungle Book going live –

Johnny Depp wowed the crowd decked out as his popular Jack Sparrow character from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

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Its next installment comes out in 2017 starring Orlando Bloom and Javier Bardem.

Disney is planning to keep turning animated favorites into live-action blockbusters.

On the heels of “Maleficent” and “Cinderella,” it is the turn of Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” to shine with live actors next year.

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The film was shot using cutting-edge digital technologies and has a star-studded cast.

Ben Kingsley plays black panther Bagheera, Neel Sethi takes the role of Mowgli and Lupita Nyong’o is cast as wolf Raksha.

Star voicings also come from Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and Idris Elba.


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2020 Election

Here’s how Trump hopes to recreate his 2016 presidential win — and how Democrats can send him packing

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Writing for CNN on Saturday, election forecaster Harry Enten explained how President Donald Trump's recent, racist behavior lies in his desire to recreate the same electoral conditions that gave him a victory in 2016 in the presidential election next year.

"The Trump strategy is pretty simple: 1. Drive up the unfavorable ratings of his Democratic rival as he did in 2016 in order to compensate for his own low ratings. 2. Bank on an electoral college/popular vote split as he did in 2016. 3. Use a campaign of racial resentment to drive up turnout even more among groups favorable toward the President," wrote Enten. As he noted, Democrats have excellent odds to flip back Michigan and Pennsylvania, but they will have to work harder to win back any of the other states Trump flipped from the 2012 Obama camp — in particular Wisconsin, which was the closest state after those two.

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American, Italian and Russian blast off for ISS

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US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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Conservative suggests Trump’s racist rhetoric will incite worse than ‘send her back’ chants: ‘One shudders to wonder’

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In a column for the Washington Post, conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Kathleen Parker said the refusal by Republican lawmakers and the evangelical community to condemn Donald Trump's racist rhetoric is paving the way for something far worse than mere "send her back" chants.

Under a headline that bluntly states, "Those who don’t condemn Trump’s racism are complicit in his bigotry," Parker gets right to her opinion of the president, writing, "Going out on a limb here: President Trump is a racist. And a sexist. And a xenophobic nationalist. Among other things. Not to name call or anything."

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