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Google Hints it May Begin Favoring Encrypted Sites in Searches

Time - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 01:40

Google is considering giving a boost to encrypted sites in its search-engine results, one of its top engineers has hinted.

Matt Cutts, an engineer in charge of liaising with website designers and minimizing spam in search, said that by doing so Google would make it harder for third parties to spy on Internet users. He was speaking at the SMX West conference in San Jose, Ca.,

Rewarding sites for adopting encryption “would be a huge step,” said search expert Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land.

Cutts said encouraging encryption was important, because once sites had been hacked “We don’t have the time to maybe hold your hand and walk you through and show you exactly where it happened.”

His comments come in the wake of the discovery of the Heartbleed bug, a vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL encryption scheme that has caused widespread concern among the web community.

Categories: Magazines

We’re Much Too Obsessed With Central Bankers

Time - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 00:14

Turn on CNBC any given morning and you’ll endure fund-manager after banker after stock-market-analyst attempt to decipher what the U.S. Federal Reserve might or might not do, and when it might or might not do it. MoreBeef Prices Soar To Highest Level Since 1987Wal-Mart Could Make Organic Food Cheap—and Eventually, PlentifulMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: Who Received Season 18's First Perfect Score? People

The statements of Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen are dissected syllable by syllable for clues of direction or intention over and over and over again. Across the Atlantic, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, garners similar attention. What will — or should — Draghi do to combat the euro zone’s continuing economic woes? Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants

The financial world is obsessed with our central bankers. And though they possess great power over economies and markets — Draghi is credited with almost single handedly quelling the euro-zone debt crisis — the focus on what they say and do has gone too far.

That’s made obvious by the efforts of Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan. A year ago, when he first took that lofty post, Kuroda instituted a radical plan to jump-start the perennially sluggish Japanese economy with a massive infusion of cash — like the Fed’s quantitative-easing (QE) programs, but even more aggressive. The plan is part of a great experiment called Abenomics, named after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who inspired it. Abe believes that the central bank’s largesse, combined with government spending and economic reforms, will finally shake Japan out of its two-decade funk.

Yet what Abenomics has become is a study in the limits of central-bank power. A year into Kuroda’s stimulus program, Japan is only marginally better off than it was before. Kuroda has overcome the damaging deflation that plagued the economy, at least for now. But after an initial lift, Abenomics has done little to boost Japan’s growth.

GDP expanded only an annualized 0.7% in the quarter that ended in December. A cheaper yen, engineered downward by Kuroda’s actions, may be helping Japan’s exports a bit, but not enough to close a widening trade deficit. Wages have gone nowhere. Meanwhile, in an attempt to chip away at the government’s giant budget deficit, Abe hiked the consumption tax to 8% this month, which will further drain demand out of an economy that already badly lacks demand.

So inevitably, attention has shifted back to Kuroda. Some economists are expecting the Bank of Japan to step in and increase its stimulus even further to regain momentum. Yet Kuroda can’t fix Japan on his own. The problem is that he’s not getting enough help from Abe and his policy team.

Japan’s economy requires a serious makeover to enhance its ability to grow. Yet the part of Abenomics aimed at major reform, called the third arrow, has progressed much more slowly than Kuroda’s printing presses. Only now is Abe beginning to talk about tackling the economy’s most difficult problems.

In late March, the government began unveiling details of economic zones in which policymakers plan to experiment with looser regulation on labor, health care, foreign investment and other overly controlled sectors — all reforms economists believe are long overdue. But it isn’t clear at this point how far the deregulation will go. Nor is it clear how fiercely Abe is willing to take on those special interests (old-line politicians, civil servants, farmers) that prefer the status quo. Economists believe Japan would see a big boost from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement orchestrated by the White House, but talks have stalled in part because of Abe’s refusal to open the country’s protected rice industry.

Such reforms would achieve what Kuroda can’t — making Japan Inc. more competitive. In the end, Japan can be saved only by fundamental change to the way the economy works. The same can be said about the rest of the industrialized world. Draghi can help fight deflation or support the banking sector, but he can’t reform the euro zone to produce more growth and better jobs. That’s up to Europe’s political leaders, but their efforts at further integration have slowed. Nor can Yellen improve American infrastructure and education, reform the tax code or take other steps that would aid U.S. competitiveness.

We’ve come to rely so much on our central bankers because politicians and corporate leaders are failing to fix what really is holding us back. Whatever their meeting minutes might tell us, central bankers can never say enough to finally get the global economy on the road to health.

Categories: Magazines

Drive Carefully This Tax Day

Time - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 00:01

Stress is not all bad. I often remind my PhD students that some degree of stress can be a useful motivator for increased performance and productivity. (Have to present your research project next month? Better get started!) The problem, of course, is that many of us live with too much stress, and it seems that every year we discover new levels of busy-ness, new ways of falling behind, and new heights of stress. MoreYour Brain Has No Idea Where It’s GoingHow to Flirt — Backed by Scientific ResearchMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: Who Received Season 18's First Perfect Score? People

The biggest stressors in our lives — nearing deadlines, dysfunctional relationships, difficult coworkers — are relatively clear. And although we don’t always know exactly what to do about them, their existence and their impact on our well being is pretty straightforward. Less clear, however, is the profound effect of the smaller stressors — those tiny nagging annoyances that accumulate. To fully appreciate the effects of (seemingly) small stressors, consider this: Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants

In a study published in 1999, researchers Baba Shiv and Alexander Fedorikhin asked one group of participants to remember a two-digit number (something like, say, 35) and another group of participants to remember a seven-digit number (say, 7581280). In order to get paid for the experiment, all of these participants would have to repeat the number to another experimenter who was waiting for them at the other end of a long corridor. And if they didn’t remember the number? No reward. The researchers wondered whether being under a low cognitive load (2 digits) vs. a high cognitive load (7 digits), would influence the participants’ ability to think and make good decisions.

With their respective numbers in mind, down the corridor they went. As the participants walked down the hall toward their destination, they unexpectedly passed a cart displaying pieces of rich, dark chocolate cake alongside bowls of colorful, healthy fruit. As participants walked by the cart, another experimenter stopped them in their tracks to offer them one of the two snacks.

What decisions did participants make, and did these decisions depend on whether they were under a low or high cognitive load? Was their choice of cake or fruit related to the number they had in their heads? The results showed that those under a high cognitive load condition (think about those of us with large to-do lists, or many things on our minds) chose the cake much more frequently than the participants in the low cognitive load condition. With their higher-level faculties preoccupied, the seven-digit group was less able to overturn their instinctive desires, and many more of them ended up succumbing to the instantly gratifying chocolate cake.

A second, more timely, example of the impact that seemingly small stressors have on our decisions, is based on an analysis carried out by Donald Redelmeier and Christopher Yarnell. Examining car accidents over a 30-year period, they found that on April 15th (which is Tax Day in the U.S.), Americans have about a 6% increase in fatal road crashes. This increase in fatalities puts tax days in the same risk category as Super Bowl Sunday, although presumably the effect is due to alcohol in one case and stress in the other (though from the data we can’t be certain).

Together, the controlled cognitive load experiment and the analysis of fatalities in car accidents suggests that our cognitive capacity is dangerously low, and that even relatively small external interventions can tax us — and they can tax us to a level that is hard to believe. The results also suggest that you should be extra careful driving this April 15th.

Beyond the questions of cake and driving on Tax Day, the applications of these findings to our daily life are important. If (seemingly) small stressors can derail our decisions to such a degree, what should we expect in a world where people keep 100 to-dos in one list, 50 in another, trying to juggle home and work responsibilities, while being surrounded by multiple electronic devises that alter us that all kinds of important things are happening (someone liked a picture we posted on Facebook!)?

Could it be that the same wonderful technological advances also tax our limited cognitive ability and attention? I suspect so. I suspect that many of us live a mindset that is equivalent to trying to remember a 27-digit number while driving on a day that is both Tax Day and Super Bowl Sunday.

What can we do about this? The answer is technologically complex but conceptually simple. The first step is to realize our limitations, and the second is to design tools for the Homer Simpson in each of us. We need devices, alerts, to-do lists and calendars that don’t tax our limited cognitive capacity, but free some of it instead. We need tools that decrease our stress, and we need tools that allow us to make better decisions. And until we get these, lets drive extra carefully this April 15th.

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and the author of Predictably Irrational and, most recently, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves.

Categories: Magazines

RECAP: Dancing with the Stars Watch: Donny Osmond Will Make A Man Out Of You

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 23:24

While the Dancing with the Stars is normally just a bedazzled and be-Spanxed excuse for D-list celebrities to squeeze 15 more minutes of fame out of one last drop of notoriety, week five’s Dancing with the Stars has an extra sprinkle of desperate celebrity magic. This week, the regular ole ballroom transformed into The Most Magical Disney Cross-Promotion Ever. MoreVeep’s Take on Abortion Reminds Us How Hard It Is to Be a Woman CandidateThe Real History Behind the Game of Thrones “Ward” SystemMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: Who Received Season 18's First Perfect Score? People

That’s right. It’s Disney night. Meaning that all the songs are culled from Disney movies so that the ABC mothership can save a bundle on royalties. Clap if you believe in corporate synergy! Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants

To help mark the occasion, noted dance enthusiast and Mirrorball Trophy winner emeritus Donny Osmond returned to the ballroom, waving around his Disney bona fides and reminding the world (and the Oscar committee, those fools) that he voiced Shang in Mulan and sang that film’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”

Oh, and in case you forgot, he’s Donny Osmond, which makes him a suitable judge in any ball-and-or-courtroom.

Anyway, here’s what happened on Dancing with the Stars:

Best Bergeronism: After last week’s big partner swapping switcheroo, host Tom Bergeron kicked things off this week with a now-stale Gwyneth Paltrow joke: “We’re doing some conscious recoupling.” Har.

How “Convenient”: We have Walt Disney to thank for the Osmonds. All of them. The totally-not-cryogenically-frozen Disney overlord discovered the Osmond brothers himself. And the legend** was born.

**of the amazing technicolor dream coat.

Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke: The duo was tasked with dancing a quickstep to “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, with Drew as Aladdin, Cheryl in Jasmine attire, and an uninvited third wheel in the form of Robin Williams’ Genie appearing on our screens (that ole Disney magic again!). Len Goodman declared that “the performance had zip, but the technique was doo-dah.” High five, Len, for making a classy, subtle reference to a racist movie that is officially banned in the United States. The rest of the judges handed out 7s, adding up to 28/40.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Due to Sharna’s surprising visual similarity to Julie Andrews, she and Charlie had no choice but to jazz dance to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins. The routine was fast-paced and custom built for Charlie’s unnerving and incessant upbeat attitude. Both Bruno Tonioli and Donny Osmond declared it a “fantastic performance” (yes but was it supercalifrantastic?) despite the fact that Charlie dropped his cane mid-routine. Len was not troubled by the cane SNAFU and declared the routine “eye poppin” (“Eye Poppins” is the B-list horror movie remake of Mary, bee tee dubs), and handed out his first 10 of the season. 37/40

Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy: The reunited couple danced a fun and light quickstep to the Beauty and the Beast song “Be Our Guest,” with Danica as Belle and Val as a Beast, with his shirt firmly (sadly) buttoned. Carrie-Ann Inaba was so moved by the dance that she got up and gave Danica a huge hug. Donny made sure to mention that he played Gaston on Broadway. 39/40

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: For the first time in the competition, Amy cried in rehearsals because dancing without feet is hard, just in case you didn’t realize that. To help her understand how incredible she is, Derek dressed her up like the Cinderella to his Prince Charming and took her for a waltz across the dance floor. Who cares what the judges have to say, because some animated mice were cheering in excitement. Self-appointed lift cop Carrie-Ann noticed a lift or two, but wouldn’t deduct a point from Amy due to her “unique circumstances,” despite the fact that Amy said she wanted to be judged like everyone else. 37/40

Cody Simpson and Witney Carson: After finding out that they were in jeopardy of being eliminated (despite Cody’s oft-mentioned 6.5 million Twitter followers), Witney and Cody decide to samba to Simba (or Simba to samba?). Witney choreographed a dance to The Lion King‘s “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and forced Cody to wear what looked like Hammer pants. Carrie Ann “felt the power of Cody” and Bruno apparently did too, as he was about to say something naughty, but stopped short as Cody is only 17-years-old. 34/40.

Nene Leakes and Tony Dovolani: The duo is in jeopardy after last week’s switch, but if they do get sent home, at least it will be after the world has had the chance to see Nene dress up as Cruella De Vil, try to make a fur coat out of some animated dalmatians and dance a foxtrot to “Cruella De Vil” from 101 Dalmatians, surely causing her Real Housewives costars to spit-take their cosmos. Their foxtrot caused Donny to swear on live TV and made Nene inexplicably burst into tears. 36/40, which is her highest score yet.

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: Peta and James must have won some serious thumb wrestling competitions to beat out the other couples for the chance to dance to Frozen‘s “Let it Go” (you know Candace Cameron Bure has some Elsa routines already worked out). Bruno declared the dance a “contemporary blockbuster” and not just because of the song. Carrie Ann cried throughout the entire performance and anointed it “absolute artistry” and the contemporary number managed to melt even Len’s cold cold heart. 40/40, the first perfect score of the season.

Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy: Maks thinks he will never be able to show his face in Brooklyn again after dancing a samba to The Jungle Book‘s Louis Prima classic “I Wanna Be Like You,” which he performed clad only in what looked like a red diaper. I say, Brooklyn will embrace him. The routine (or, more likely, Maks’ attire) gave Bruno “jungle fever” (sigh…). Carrie Ann used her table time to deliver a one-line pitch for another installment of the Human Centipede franchise: “You dance like you’re part of one body!” 36/40.

Cameron Candace Bure and Mark Ballas: After placing last in last week’s competition, Candace has realized that she actually wants to be in this competition. To show that she means it, she straps on some over-sized modesty shells and gets crabs. Okay, she’s not that dedicated. Instead she dresses up like Ariel from The Little Mermaid and sambas with Mark’s Sebastian the crab. 35/40

The Bottom Three: Based on last week’s scores and fan votes, the three contestants holding down the bottom of the leader board are Nene, Candace and Cody. Nene is announced safe right off the bat.

Who Went Home? Teen dream Cody is going home. Apparently his star is not as bright as he thinks it is or his Twitter followers are spambots who can’t vote in this country (yet).

MORE: RECAP: Game of Thrones Watch: Wedding Season in Westeros

MORE: RECAP: Mad Men: ‘Time Zones’

Categories: Magazines

Can’t Get Outside? Watch Tonight’s Total Lunar Eclipse Live Here

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 22:00

At 3:07 a.m. E.T. Tuesday, the moon will show the bright red blush of an eclipse, a celestial phenomenon explained by TIME science editor Jeffrey Kluger here. Starting at 2 a.m. E.T., watch live coverage of the celestial event above hosted by Slooh observatory director Paul Cox and Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, who will be reporting live from Prescott Observatory in Prescott, Ariz.

Categories: Magazines

Disaster in the Sky: Old Plane, Inexperienced Pilots—and No More Parachutes

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 21:18

Putting young, inexperienced pilots into a 50-year-old Air Force plane seems like a risky idea. Even riskier? Getting rid of crew’s parachutes to save money. MoreFBI Tried to Recruit Member of 9/11 Plotters’ Legal Team, Lawyers ClaimU.S. Army Rejects Clemency for WikiLeaks Source ManningMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: Who Received Season 18's First Perfect Score? People

But that’s what the Air Force did last May 3, when it launched a mission to refuel U.S. warplanes over Afghanistan using a KC-135 Stratotanker delivered by Boeing to the Air Force on June 26, 1964. A problem with the plane’s flight-control system cascaded toward trouble after actions by what the Air Force has concluded was its inadequately-trained crew. In short order, the double-barreled dilemmas ripped the airplane’s tail off three miles above Kyrgyzstan’s Himalayan foothills. The plane quickly entered a steep dive, dooming all three aboard. Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants

Both pilots graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2008, shortly after the service decided it couldn’t afford to keep parachutes on KC-135s. “A lot of time, manpower and money goes into buying, maintaining and training to use parachutes,” the Air Force said in March 2008. “With the Air Force hungry for cost-saving efficiency under its Air Force for Smart Operations in the 21st Century Program, commonly known as AFSO 21, the parachutes were deemed obsolete.”

Captain Mark Tyler Voss, 27, Captain Victoria Pinckney, 27, and Technical Sergeant Herman “Tre” Mackey III, 30, were the first airmen killed in a KC-135 crash since the Air Force stripped the parachutes from the planes.

Given the violent end of their mission, the parachutes may not have made any difference, according to the official Air Force investigation into the crash. “The [accident investigation] board sort of concluded, informally, in talking among themselves, that even if there had been parachutes, there would have been no way for them in this particular case for them to be used,” Air Force Lieut. Colonel John Thomas, a spokesman for the service’s Air Mobility Command, said Monday.

Others aren’t so sure. “Deploying aircrews to a combat zone without parachutes is an unconscionable risk,” says Alan Diehl, who spent 18 years as an Air Force civilian investigating the safety of the service’s aircraft. “The airmen aboard this KC-135 would have had to don their chutes, jettison the cockpit bailout hatch, and dive overboard—all in a matter of seconds. But to take away the option just seems wrong.”

The aerial tanker arrived in Kyrgyzstan the day before the accident. Earlier flight-control problems had reportedly been fixed. Pilot Tyler, co-pilot Pinckney and, Mackey, the refueling boom operator, boarded the aircraft early that afternoon at the Pentagon’s transit hub at Manas, just outside Bishkek, the country’s capital. A KC-135 refuels an F-15 fighter. 2nd Lt. Lindsay Horn / Air Force

They were the first crew to fly the 707-based aircraft toward Afghanistan, loaded with 175,000 pounds of aviation fuel, since its arrival at Manas. Tanker crews are the unsung heroes of the service, the so-called “global reach” that vastly extends how far Air Force aircraft can fly without landing to refuel.

Voss had slightly more than 1,000 hours flying such tankers; Pickney had fewer than 600. Mackey was the most experienced member of the crew, with 3,350 KC-135 flight hours, but as the boom operator he had nothing to do with flying the airplane.

Shortly after the flight, dubbed Shell 77, took off, a problem with the flight-control system triggered “rudder hunting,” which caused the airplane to yaw, its nose turning from left to right and back again. A dutch roll. Picascho

Nine minutes into the flight, the plane entered a “dutch roll,” which can happen as increasing yaw generates more lift on one wing than the other. That causes the plane to roll, until increased drag pulls the wing back and the process repeats itself with the other wing. “It’s kind of waffling,” the crew reported as they climbed above 20,000 feet. “The jet’s bent.”

The pilots tried to bring the five-second-long dutch rolls under control by using the plane’s rudder and auto-pilot. But that only made matters worse.

“The cumulative effects of the malfunctioning [flight-control system], coupled with autopilot use and rudder movements during the unrecognized dutch roll, generated dutch roll forces that exceeded the mishap aircraft’s design structural limits,” the Air Force said in its investigation into the crash, released last month. “The tail section failed and separated from the aircraft, causing the mishap aircraft to pitch down sharply, enter into a high-speed dive, explode inflight and subsequently impact the ground.”

Voss’s superiors described him as a “peerless aviator” who was “highly motivated and extremely dedicated.” Pickney’s commanders said she was “a superior leader with the drive and ability to succeed at any task.”

But despite their demonstrated skills, the investigation said that instead of trying to halt the dutch roll with the rudder and auto-pilot, they should have shut down the malfunctioning flight-control system and manually used the ailerons on the main wings to regain control.

So why didn’t they?

“The mishap crew appears to not have been adequately trained for the dutch roll recognition and recovery; they experienced a condition they had not encountered in training,” the investigation concluded. “The mishap crew received a total of 10-15 minutes of recognition and recovery training several years prior to the mishap,” during initial pilot training.

Such training “appears to be insufficient,” the probe added. “The mishap crew was a qualified, but minimally experienced, crew” whose “inexperience led them to rely on the autopilot to make timely inputs in an unstable flight regime. Although the Inflight Manual does not explicitly prohibit autopilot use in dutch roll, the system is incapable of making the precisely timed inputs that are required to counteract dutch roll. Both times the mishap aircraft engaged the autopilot the oscillations grew worse.”

Shouldn’t KC-135 pilots train for such predicaments in their simulators? They can’t. “Insidious onset of dutch roll is impossible to replicate in KC-135 simulator training due to mechanical limitations,” the probe said. Nor can the simulator replicate more serious forms of the roll: “A former KC-135 Instructor Pilot and current simulator operator, who experienced severe dutch roll in flight, confirmed the current simulator training does not reproduce a severe dutch roll.”

Can’t pilots practice it, carefully, while actually flying? No. “The Inflight Manual prohibits pilots from practicing dutch roll recognition and recovery in the aircraft, specifically stating `intentionally-induced dutch roll and aerobatics of any kind are strictly prohibited’” the investigation noted.

Once their plane lost its tail, was the crew’s fate sealed? “Egress was not possible,” the accident report said. “The KC-135R is not equipped with parachutes, ejection seats, or any other means of inflight egress.” The report didn’t mention that parachutes had been on the planes until 2008.

“They made no comment on the flight data recorder that `We need to get out of here’ or `This is going down,’” Thomas, the Air Force spokesman, said (the recorder shut down when the plane was at 21,760 feet). “The indications were that they continued to fight to regain control of the aircraft until probably they lost consciousness.”

And how did that happen? “There is some surmising that goes on,” Thomas explained. “But [the accident board] had several experts to address this point directly, and their best understanding of what probably happened—because they have to put together their best guess based on the flight data—is that when the tail broke off, the aircraft that remained pitched, and because it was in the middle of a dutch roll it probably pitched up first, because as the tail section broke off it probably gained altitude as part of the physics of it swinging back and forth, they probably experienced negative G-forces that would have probably blacked them out.”

That 2008 Air Force news article detailed the logic of getting rid of the KC-135’s parachutes:

By design, parachutes slow things down. Crew members forced to evacuate in-flight aircraft with parachutes, for example, have much gentler impacts with the ground than those without chutes. But the only thing being slowed by parachutes aboard KC-135 Stratotankers, Air Force leaders recently decided, was the mission. So they got rid of them. Removing parachutes from military aircraft may sound peculiar, but KC-135s are not like other aircraft. They seldom have mishaps, and the likelihood a KC-135 crew member would ever need to use a parachute is extremely low.

“The [accident investigation board’s] technical experts didn’t recall that there’s ever been an attempted, successful or otherwise, egress from a tanker aircraft,” the Air Force’s Thomas said.

But the technical experts are wrong, according to former airman Joseph Heywood. He bailed out of a KC-135 over Michigan—along with three other airmen—as their plane ran out of fuel in August 1969 (the pilot landed the plane short of the runway, but safely, at the now-closed K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base). “If they were in a dutch roll, I think it’d be almost impossible for them to get out,” he said. But removing the parachutes “doesn’t make any sense—it’s just another way of saying that money is more important than people.”

Bailing out used to be a key part of the KC-135’s Cold War mission. “Our job was to fly up and plug B-52s up near Greenland,” he says. “And if they demanded it, to give them all of our fuel, and then to bail out onto the ice pack and make our way back on foot to Billy Mitchell field in Milwaukee.”

The missing parachutes don’t bother Heywood now. “It doesn’t cause me any heartburn, because I’m not one of the people flying them,” he says. But the former Air Force captain well remembers when he needed one. “The day after I bailed out I took a bottle of booze—I think it was Chivas Regal, actually—to guy who packed mine,” he recalled. “I’d rather have a slim chance than no chance.”

The combination of an aging aircraft, poorly-trained young pilots, and the need to save money that led the Air Force to remove the parachutes, shows a force frayed by ever-tightening, and perhaps misallocated, budgets. “The various problems surfaced by this mishap—overlooked maintenance issues on older aircraft, limited crew experience and training, poor flight simulator fidelity, and no parachutes—are all driven by funding limitations,” former Air Force crash investigator Diehl says. “The Pentagon and our Congress need to stop sequestering safety.”

The Air Force recently detailed changes it is taking following the crash. KC-135 crews will be getting more training to help them deal with dutch rolls. The service is revising flight manuals, beefing up maintenance, and improving rudder controls for the 396 KC-135s still flying. The fleet is also in the middle of a $1 billion refurbishment. But restoring parachutes to the planes—slated to fly until at least 2040—isn’t on the list of improvements. An honor guard carries photos of the KC-135 crew members during a memorial service at Manas six days after the crash. SSgt. Stephanie Rubi / Air Force

Categories: Magazines

Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ Wins Pulitzer for Fiction

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 21:11

Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her bestselling novel “The Goldfinch,” which judges described as a “beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters.”

The book, which The New York Times called “a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade,” details an orphaned boy’s journey with a famous painting. A TIME review of the 2013 novel reads,”Tartt has a special gift for writing about outsiders who come in from the cold. She did it in The Secret History with Richard Papen, a Gatsbyesque nobody from nowhere at an elite Vermont college, and she does it here.” Other finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction include “The Son” by Philipp Meyer and “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul” by Bob Shacochis.

Other winners in Books, Drama, and Music include:

  • Drama: The Flick by Annie Baker
  • History: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia 1771-1832 by Alan Taylor
  • Biography: Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall
  • Poetry: 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri
  • General Nonfiction: “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation” by Dan Fagin
  • Music: Become Ocean by John Luther Adams

You can read about winners in other categories on the Pulitzer site here.

Categories: Magazines

Is Microsoft’s ‘Scroogled’ Era at Long Last Over?

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 21:11

I have devoted probably an excessive number of words–see here and here–to Microsoft’s ongoing “Scroogled” campaign, in which it bashes various Google products for invading privacy, deceptively incorporating advertising and, generally, being creepy and anti-consumer. I’ve always found the campaign to be grating and patronizing, and looked forward to the day when Microsoft concluded that it was counter-productive, or at least that it had run its course. MoreThis 1981 Computer Magazine Cover Explains Why We’re So Bad at Tech PredictionsWindows Phone 8.1 Review: Microsoft’s Game of Catch-Up Is Just About DoneMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: Who Received Season 18's First Perfect Score? People

That moment may have come. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley is reporting that a Microsoft executive says that the company is now “done” with Scroogled. When Mary Jo sought an official statement, she got one which didn’t confirm that it’s over–but which didn’t deny it, either:

We are always evaluating and evolving our marketing campaigns. There are times when we use our marketing to highlight differences in how we see the world compared to competitors, and the Scroogled campaign is an example of this. Moving forward, we will continue to use all the right approaches and tactics when and where they make sense.

That’s not surprising: If Microsoft has decided that it wants to put Scroogled behind it, it probably doesn’t want to spend a lot of time explaining its rationale. Here’s hoping.

In a possibly related development, Mary Jo has a second article reporting that Microsoft has put its online version of Office into Google’s Chrome Store, making it easy for Chromebook owners to edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using Microsoft’s own online apps. The move is semi-symbolic, since those services already worked just fine on Chromebooks if you knew they existed. But it belies one of Scroogled’s arguments against Chromebooks, which is that they force you to use “cheap imitations” of Office which will mess up your documents.

Of course, there are plenty of instances in which people will be happier with the far more full-featured Office apps available for Windows laptops than the basic online ones which you can use on a Chromebook. But Scroogled’s over-the-top assault on Chromebooks–which it calls “imitation laptops”–is at odds with Microsoft’s own excellent, Chromebook-friendly incarnation of Office, which it somehow forgets to mention even exist.

Scroogled’s message is also out of whack with the progressive vision expressed by Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, at the company’s recent Office for iPad launch event and Build conference. Nadella isn’t drawing a stark line between Microsoft’s platforms and the rest of the world, and telling prospective customers to choose a side. But that’s what Scroogled–supposedly the brainchild of political adman and Clinton confidante Mark Penn, who Nadella shifted from heading Microsoft marketing to a strategy role–effectively does.

Now, the chances that we’re entering a period of peace, love and understanding are approximately zilch. In her story on Scroogled’s possible demise, Mary Jo says that she expects Microsoft to continue to go aggressively after Google. So do I. But consumers are smart. Chromebooks will succeed if they offer something of value to a meaningful number of people, and will fail if they don’t. Scroogled won’t have a tangible impact on their fate one way or the other.

If these “imitation laptops” are around for the long haul, telling the people who like them that they’ve been duped, as Scroogled does, isn’t going to make Microsoft any new friends. The alternative approach, reflected in the Chrome Store news, is to encourage such folks to be part of the Office faithful. Which strategy do you think is most likely to keep Microsoft and its products relevant in the post-PC era?

Categories: Magazines

North Korea Marathon Opens to Foreign Amateurs

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 21:00

Organizers of the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, recognized as a bronze-label event by the International Association of Athletics Federations and held for the past 27 years, told the Associated Press they opted to allow the new recreational runners in an effort to more boldly celebrate the birthday of their nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, on April 15. Officials said the race, which typically has featured elite foreigners, included 225 amateurs and runners from 27 countries. The course, a largely flat path of four loops around the center of the city, had to be completed within four hours so roads could be reopened. A half marathon and a 10-kilometer run were also held as thousands of North Koreans lined the streets to cheer the participants.

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Gone Girl Trailer Released

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 20:55

The first trailer for the awaited film “Gone Girl” based on the Pulitzer-winning thriller by Gillian Flynn has arrived. The haunting clip, which gives the book’s fans a glimpse at Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Nick Dunne, who becomes the main suspect in the disappearance of his wife Amy on their fifth wedding anniversary. “I did not kill my wife,” Affleck says as the trailer closes. “I am not a murderer.”

The trailer features brief appearances by Rosamund Pike, who stars as Amy in the David Fincher directed film. The official release date is Oct. 3. Watch the full trailer on iTunes here.

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Lawmakers to E-Cig Makers: Stop Preying on Minors!

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 20:07

In a report published Monday, 11 Congress members recommended federal regulations on e-cigarettes that would include banning sales to anyone under 18, halting TV and radio ads, and educating the general public about the risks associated with inhaling nicotine vapors.

The “Gateway to Addiction” report written by true the lawmakers staff after surveying e-cig makers, finds e-cigarette companies are using marketing tactics that appeal to young people, such as handing out samples at events like music festivals, social media promotion, and offering kid-friendly flavors. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimate 1.78 million children and teens tried e-cigarettes in 2012.

“E-cigarette makers are starting to prey on kids, just like big tobacco companies,” said Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “With over a million youth now using e-cigarettes, FDA needs to act without further delay to stop companies from marketing their addictive products to children.”

Though use is up, the Food and Drug Administration has not fully studied the products, according to their website consumers are not aware of the risks of use, the amount of nicotine or other chemicals being inhaled and whether or not there are benefits to smoking e-cigarettes. A New York Times report from March detailed the potential dangers of the liquid nicotine found in electronic cigarettes, including vomiting, seizures, and death.

According to the report, six of the surveyed e-cigarette companies support some regulation.

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Your Tax Refund Is Safe: Social Security Will Stop Seizing Refunds to Collect Old Debt

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 19:08

The Social Security Administration plans to stop collecting taxpayer debt older than 10 years old, the Washington Post reports. The federal government has been reportedly seizing state and federal tax funds from about 400,000 Americans whose relatives owed money to Social Security.

The collection dates back to 2008 when a farm bill lifted a statute of limitations on government debt older that was more than 10 years old and the Treasury Department allowed the government to intercept tax refunds to settle the debts. Approximately $2 billion worth of intercepted tax refunds have been collected by the Treasury this year, the Post reports, $75 million of which was for 10-year-old, or older, debts.

“I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law,” Social Security’s acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said in a statement.

[Washington Post]

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Obama To Putin: Tell Troops to Back Off

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:10

This post was updated at 10:21 p.m. ET, April 14

In the second phone conversation between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin in recent weeks, the two leaders expressed very different views on the increasingly tense situation in Ukraine, depending on whom you ask.

According to the White House, Obama said that he believed a diplomatic solution could be reached, though not if Russia continues flexing its military might at Ukraine’s border and within that country. He added that the economic “costs” for Russia will increase if these aggressive actions persist. According to Reuters, the European Union has also widened sanctions against Russia.

Obama expressed “grave concern” about Russia’s presence in Ukraine and the country’s support for the actions of pro-Russian protestors in the country, the White House said. “All irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms,” Obama said, urging President Putin to convince pro-Russian groups to depart the buildings they have seized.

However, according to a release put out earlier by the Kremlin, Putin told Obama that reports of Russia interfering in Southern Ukraine were “based on inaccurate information” and maintained that ongoing protests are a result of “the Kiev authorities’ unwillingness to take into account the interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population.”

Earlier on Monday, Kiev leaders called on the United Nations to deploy peacekeepers, as pro-Russia protesters took control of more buildings. Obama has praised the Ukrainian government’s handling of the situation and its upcoming election scheduled for May 25, according to the White House.

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Why Hate Crimes Persist More Than Violent Crimes

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:08

Law enforcement officials announced on Monday that they had enough evidence to charge Frazier Glenn Cross for hate a crime in the shooting at a Jewish community center and senior living facility that left three people dead. MoreMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: Who Received Season 18's First Perfect Score? PeopleLIVE: Grizzlies try to clinch playoff spot, Suns aim to stay alive Sports Illustrated'Dancing With the Stars': Exiting dancer is... Entertainment Weekly

“We have unquestionably determined through the work of law enforcement that this was a hate crime,” Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told the Associated Press. Cross, a former member of the Klu Klux Klan, was reportedly heard shouting “Heil Hitler” from the back of a police car while in custody.

Hate crimes, which are motivated by biases based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, and disability, have dropped in the U.S. in recent years. In 2012, there were 5,796 incidents, compared to 6,222 reports in 2011, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Racially motivated violations still make up nearly half of all hate crimes, followed by 20% that are tied to sexual orientation.

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While violent crime in the U.S. has dropped as well, the decline in hate crimes hasn’t been as rapid and may be harder to combat, says Jack McDevitt, associate dean for research in the college of social science and humanity at Northeastern University. That’s because neighborhoods in the U.S. are only becoming more diverse, which means that locally and even personally perceived biases or injustices may become more glaring to certain individuals. “I fear [such hate crimes] will increase,” McDevitt says. “There are people out there who see increasing diversity as a threat, then they strike out.”

Contrary to what sociologists believed for years – that hate crimes are fueled by economic pressures as new groups received benefits or better jobs – the driving force may be something more basic to human nature: our tendency to feel threatened in the face of change. “One of the major sources of hate crime is what is perceived of as rapid in-migration of other groups into formerly racially, ethnically, or religiously homogenous areas,” says Donald Green, professor of political science at Columbia University, who has studied this connection extensively. “From the standpoint of a hate crime, the tipping point is the very first group that moves in.” As people feel threatened and believe they need to “defend” their neighborhood or way or life, that’s enough to prompt vandalism or violent crime, he says. In contrast, in issues involving housing regulations or schooling, about a quarter or a third of the population needs to change before a threat is perceived and acted upon.

MORE: 3 Dead After Shootings at Kansas Jewish Facilities

Anti-racial crimes committed by far-right extremists are more likely in communities with a denser Jewish population, according to the U. S. Extremist Crime Database study, led by Joshua Freilich of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Roberta Belli of United Nationals Department of Safety and Security, and Steven Chermak of the University of Michigan. For example, hate crimes against Jewish communities are more common in states with higher Jewish populations; in New York, where they make up 9% of the state’s population, there were 248 such incidents in 2012, a nearly 30% increase from 2011. One reason, Freilich hypothesized in an email to TIME, is the possibility that “far-right racist leaders focused their efforts on counties where Jews were visible, and inspired their supporters residing in those counties to lash out and attack the far-right’s ideological enemies.”

Such patterns of scapegoating and blame may make hate crimes frustratingly difficult to curb downward, says McDevitt, and that means that tragedies such as the shootings in Overland Park, Kan., may continue to percolate across the country.

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Veep’s Take on Abortion Reminds Us How Hard It Is to Be a Woman Candidate

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:07

Selina Meyer is far from the ideal presidential candidate. As we see every Sunday on Veep, both she and her staff are completely and hilariously incompetent. But this week’s episode reminded us that whatever her flaws, we ought to sympathize with Selina because running for president as a woman really sucks. (Warning: Spoilers for last night’s episode of Veep ahead.) More‘Stay-at-Home Mothers:’ Why We Still Use This Clunky, Outdated TermCue the Sad Violins: Only 50 People Showed Up to This Music FestivalMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostMajandra Delfino: Pregnancy Comments Aren't Compliments - They're Confusing People

This week, the current president (who has announced that he will not be running for a second term) threw a curveball at the VP’s camp by calling himself pro-choice in a speech. Selina and her staff immediately panic in trying to determine what the vice president should say about her stance on abortion. A poll within the show reveals that the majority of Americans respond with “I don’t know” when asked at what point a woman should no longer be able to terminate a pregnancy. Selina worries that if she picks too many weeks in, she will come off as too liberal and too female. Too few weeks, and she loses the women’s vote.

Her staff repeatedly suggests that Selina play her ovaries card and begin her answer with, “As a woman…” But drawing attention to your lady parts is tricky. The problem is summed up nicely by Selina when she says, “I can’t identify myself as a woman. People can’t know that. Men hate that. And women who hate women hate that — which, I believe, is most women.”

As the only female contender for president (so far) Selina is the only candidate directly affected by this question. She should theoretically sound more genuine and credible in her views because she’s likely devoted more time to thinking about the issue than any man — just by virtue of her gender. And yet while she can’t answer with her honest pro-choice views for fear of losing votes, she also can’t allow voters to think she’s a hypocrite who is politicizing the issue. Selina has to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to not draw attention to her woman-ness because, well, everybody hates that.

Though the writers mine the conundrum for comedy — at one point, Selina points out, “If men got pregnant, you could get an abortion at an ATM” — the plot points to a deeper problem. Hillary Clinton, for better or worse, refrained from emphasizing her gender during her 2008 run. It was a logical decision: after all, history has proven that female candidates don’t necessarily win other women’s votes. And yet she lost the women’s vote at the Iowa caucuses that year by 5 points and the primary in South Carolina by a 24 point deficit. For that reason, some experts believe gender will become a bigger factor in a potential 2016 run for Clinton. “I think it’s going to be less about making history and more about making progress — the intersection of gender and agenda,” Celinda Lake, a democratic pollster, told the Daily Beast.

Despite her best efforts, Selina ends up answering the abortion question on her Good Morning America interview with, “As a woman…” and then takes no clear stance, repeating the word “freedom” over and over again. This isn’t the first time Selina has struggled with feminist issues: in one episode, Selina’s staff goads her into crying to make her look more sympathetic; in another she decides to do a photo op with a gun to look more tough. And as a Clinton decision on 2016 edges closer, Selina’s careful straddling of the line between feminine and feminist is likely to become all the more relevant.

Categories: Magazines

Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams Star In Video For “It’s On Again”

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:34

“There’s no day off for heroes,” sings Alicia Keys in “It’s On Again” her contribution to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack. Apparently there are also no days off for Pharrell Williams, either.

Williams produced the track and also makes an appearance in the new video, where he watches over New York City via a wall of security cameras (between sets at Coachella, presumably).

Joining Keys and Williams in the video are rapper Kendrick Lamar, who is featured on the track, as well as Spider-Man score composer Hans Zimmer. The musicians stand-in for the webcrawler and, as all good superheroes, remain ever vigilant and ever true, keeping an eye on the skyline of the Big Apple before Electro (played in the film by Jamie Foxx) can take down Times Square.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will hit theaters on May 2nd, with the soundtrack set for release on April 22nd.

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Whitefish Shortage Causing Passover Meal Problems

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:32

(TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.) — Many fish markets in the Great Lakes region are running short of whitefish, and it’s coming at a bad time: the Passover holiday.

Whitefish is a key ingredient in gefilte (geh-FIL’-tuh) fish, a traditional Jewish dish that originated in eastern Europe. Recipes vary, but it often consists of ground fish, vegetables such as onion and carrots, and bread crumbs formed into loaves or balls.

The shortfall results partly from the bitterly cold winter that caused vast sections of the Great Lakes to freeze over. The ice cover kept some commercial fishing crews stuck in port. A drop in the whitefish population is also to blame.

Kevin Dean of Superior Fish Co. near Detroit said Monday his latest shipment amounted to just 75 pounds, although he requested 500 pounds.

Categories: Magazines

Minnesota Joins States Raising Minimum Wage

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:30

(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — Tens of thousands of Minnesota workers have big raises coming their way, courtesy of a new minimum wage law that Gov. Mark Dayton signed Monday, which will take the state from one of the nation’s lowest rates to among the highest. MoreInside the Sriracha Factory Causing A Stink In CaliforniaThe Tennessee Senate Has Backed a Bill to Reinstate the Electric ChairMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostMajandra Delfino: Pregnancy Comments Aren't Compliments - They're Confusing People

At a ceremony in the Capitol’s Rotunda, Dayton hailed the hourly jump of more than $3 spread over the next few years as providing “what’s fair” for hard work put in. He said he has been stunned by GOP resistance — it passed the Legislature with only Democratic votes — to increasing the guaranteed wage from $6.15 per hour now to $9.50 by 2016 and then tie it to inflation.

“We’re not giving people any ticket into the upper-middle class,” Dayton said. “We’re giving them hope.”

Minnesota goes from having one of the nation’s lowest minimums to among the highest. With federal wage legislation stuck in Congress, states are rushing to fill the void. California, Connecticut and Maryland have passed laws pushing their respective wages to $10 or more in coming years, and other states are going well above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Not all Minnesota workers have qualified for the federal minimum, which is required if someone engages in an interstate transaction such as swiping a credit card at the cash register.

For large Minnesota employers, mandatory hourly pay will climb to $8 in August, $9 a year later and $9.50 in 2016. Smaller employers that have gross sales below $500,000 will also have to pay more, though their rate reaches only $7.75 per hour by 2016. There are also carve-outs for teen workers or those getting trained into new jobs.

All told, some 325,000 workers could be in line for a raise at some point during the phase-in period.

Jacquita Berens, a single mother of three from Robbinsdale, said she’s been working three jobs to barely get by. Standing next to Dayton, she said the hike will give her more money for groceries, gas and other essentials and maybe allow her to afford extracurricular activities for the kids.

“I work incredibly hard but constantly fall behind,” Berens said. “Those of us working low-wage jobs are willing to work hard. We want to get ahead so we are not in survival mode.”

Business groups, such as those representing restaurants and retail shops, have warned that Minnesota would be out of step with its neighbors that are all at $7.25 per hour. Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, called the increase “irresponsible” and argued it will drive up unemployment as companies adjust.

The law authorizes automatic raises in the years to come that will compensate for inflation. Unless state officials take steps to suspend the raises, minimum wage pay could rise by up to 2.5 percent annually beginning in 2018. Those increases could be suspended if rough economic conditions sweep in, but catch-up raises can be ordered later.

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Total Girls’ Girl Taylor Swift Showed Up to a Fan’s Bridal Shower Bearing Gifts

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:30

Taylor Swift was just full of surprises this weekend. On Saturday night, she made a cameo in Seth Rogen’s monologue on SNL, and on Sunday, she surprised a longtime fan by showing up at her bridal shower.

The singer made her way to Columbus, Ohio, to surprise bride-to-be Gena Gabrielle, who she first met at a meet-and-greet in 2007, E! reports. Gabrielle invited Swift to her wedding and shower, but didn’t expect her to show up, so it was a total surprise.

And if T-Swift just being there wasn’t enough of a gift, she also brought presents, including this mixer:

Gabrielle made sure to share plenty of additional photos of the shower on Instagram:

Her fiancé probably hates Taylor Swift now, though, because he knows his wife-to-be will never be as excited to see him as she was to see T-Swift.

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Central Ohio Mumps Outbreak Tops 200 Cases

Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:29

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Public health officials say a mumps outbreak in central Ohio has grown to more than 200 confirmed cases.

The total as of Monday was 212 cases of the contagious viral illness, with 132 of those linked to Ohio State University. That includes 96 students and 13 staff members.

Local health agencies say those infected range in age from 9 months to 70 years old. The cases span from early January to late last week.

Mumps often starts with fever, fatigue and body aches. Those infected are urged to stay home, cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and frequently wash their hands.

Officials have urged residents of the region to make sure they’ve been inoculated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

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