Nation roundup for July 15


‘Glee’ star found dead inside hotel

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Cory Monteith, the handsome young actor who shot to fame in the hit TV series “Glee” but was beset by addiction struggles so fierce that he once said he was lucky to be alive, was found dead in a hotel room, police said. He was 31.

The Canadian-born Monteith, who played star quarterback-turned-singer Finn Hudson on the Fox TV series about a high school glee club, was found dead in his room on the 21st floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel on Vancouver’s waterfront at about noon Saturday, according to police.

Acting Vancouver Police Chief Doug LePard said there was no indication of foul play.

Vancouver police said Sunday that an autopsy is expected to take place on Monday to determine the cause of death.

Monteith’s body was found by hotel staff who entered his room after he missed his check-out time, LePard said. Monteith had checked into the hotel on July 6.

“We do not have a great deal of information as to cause of death,” said British Columbia Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe. She said further tests would be needed to determine how Monteith died.

“The exact nature of those examinations will depend on investigative findings within the next day or two as information is gathered from medical records and discussions with family take place,” she said.

Republicans aim to cut food stamps

WASHINGTON (AP) — House approval of a scaled-back farm bill is setting up what could be an even bigger fight over food stamps and the role of domestic food aid in the United States.

Food stamps have been a part of farm bills since the 1970s to gain urban Democratic votes for the rural measure. But that union has soured this year as the food aid has exploded in cost and House Republicans have taken aim at the program. Normally bipartisan, farm bills have become much less so.

Republican leaders in the House won passage of the smaller farm bill on a party-line vote Thursday by dropping a section of the bill that dealt with food stamps, saying they would deal with that issue in a separate bill. After rallying most of his caucus to vote for the farm portion of the bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Republicans would “act with dispatch” to get a food stamp bill to the floor.

It remained unclear what a food stamp bill would look like, how it would move through the House or how quickly lawmakers could craft a bill. While Democrats have opposed any cuts to the $80 billion-a-year program, designed to give people temporary food assistance when their income falls beneath a certain level, Republicans have proposed many different approaches to trimming it. The program has more than doubled in cost in the last five years as the economy faltered and now serves around 1 in 7 Americans.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., has pushed the idea of a split bill for more than a year. A farmer, he has maintained that Congress should consider food stamps by themselves.

“By splitting the bill, we can give taxpayers an honest look at how Washington spends our money,” he said.

JPMorgan makes $6.1B in quarter

NEW YORK (AP) — A surge in investment banking pushed up JPMorgan’s second-quarter profit even as results at its consumer business sagged.

JPMorgan earned a bonanza in fees from underwriting stock and bond offerings in the first three months of the year as financial markets thrived. The gain offset a slight decline at the bank’s consumer business, which struggled with lower mortgage fees.

The bank made $6.1 billion in the second quarter after stripping out payments to preferred shareholders. That was up 32 percent from the same period a year ago, when it made $4.6 billion. Profits in the year-ago period were affected by a trading loss.

JPMorgan and other banks have benefited from the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policies, which have encouraged corporations to borrow money and consumers to refinance mortgages. While rates have been going higher in recent weeks as investors anticipate the Fed’s eventual exit from economic stimulus, JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon said that wasn’t a cause for worry.

“All things being equal, rates going up is a good thing, as long as the economy keeps growing,” Dimon said in an interview on CNBC.

If anything, rising rates should boost JPMorgan’s profits, said Shannon Stemm, financial services analyst for Edward Jones, a wealth adviser. As the economy strengthens, not only would demand for loans increase, the loans would also be made at higher rates.

“You don’t want (rates) to go up too fast,” said Stemm. “But rising rates are ultimately going to be positive for the banks.”

‘Despicable Me 2’ holds the top spot

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Universal’s minions ran away with the box office for the second week in a row.

With $44.8 million in domestic ticket sales Friday through Sunday, the animated sequel “Despicable Me 2” outdid the debuts of the Adam Sandler comedy “Grown Ups 2” and director Guillermo del Toro’s monsters-versus-robots action flick “Pacific Rim.”

The weekend’s No. 1 movie featuring Steve Carell as ex-supervillain Gru made another $55.5 million overseas. That brought its global two-week total to $472.4 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

“This has become the July film to beat right now,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office tracking division of Hollywood.com. “There’s something about the minions that audiences just love.”

Sony was pleased with Sandler’s second-best movie opening of his career with $42.5 million in sales in the U.S. and Canada.

(His best domestic opening was “The Longest Yard” from 2005 with $58.6 million over four days). Overseas, the comedy brought in $1.7 million.

The movie brings together former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal as a bumbling police officer with a host of comedy All-Stars including Chris Rock and David Spade playing awkward parents.

The third-place finish of “Pacific Rim,” with $38.3 million in receipts, represented a disappointing start domestically for Warner Bros. and partner Legendary Entertainment. Figures released by the studio showed it doing better overseas.

 

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