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Women Can Be Funny, Admits Jerry Lewis (Sort Of)

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 16:00
MoreThis Sketch Hilariously Skewers the Way Women Food-Shame ThemselvesNetflix Comedy from Friends Creator to Star Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

Cue the “put his foot in it” jokes. On April 12, at his “Forecourt to the Stars” imprint ceremony — the Hollywood honor of leaving of hand- and footprints at the TCL Chinese Theater — comedian Jerry Lewis made an impression in something other than cement. MoreJudge: Michael Jackson’s Mom Should Pay CostsWATCH: Hunger Games Stars Pay Tribute to Philip Seymour HoffmanMen 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 PostInside Prince William and Kate's Night at a Luxury Lodge People

Back in 1998, Lewis was at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival when he said, “I don’t like any female comedians.” When asked specifically about Lucille Ball, he said he didn’t even like her. He went on to clarify that women in comedy didn’t offend him, but that he was unable to enjoy the comedy because he thinks of a woman “as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.” At that point, his audience reportedly got up and left.

Now, he’s backtracked — except not really.

He said at the hand-print ceremony that Ball was, in fact, “brilliant” and that he was impressed by Carol Burnett as well. However, he ended up digging in deeper on the baby-machine idea, saying:

Seeing a woman project the kind of aggression that you have to project as a comic just rubs me wrong. And they’re funny — I mean you got some very, very funny people that do beautiful work — but I have a problem with the lady up there that’s going to give birth to a child — which is a miracle.

Leaving aside Lewis’ personal likes and dislikes in comedy, since there’s no accounting for taste, there are a few reasons his sort-of-explanation is already drawing raised eyebrows. The logic of his statement negates his positivity on Ball and Burnett: he says that a comic has to project aggression and that he doesn’t want women to do that. So even if he’s admitting that women can be funny, he’s in effect saying that even those who are funny, like the two examples he gives, shouldn’t be professional comedians. That is, ladies can be funny, but only men should get paid for it.

In reality, however, not every successful comic is aggressive (Mitch Hedberg, for example), but plenty of women who do project aggression are successful (Sarah Silverman, for example). Also, not every lady is going to give birth to a child, and those who do might not want someone else defining them by that choice — a viewpoint that’s pretty much the same as the “producing machine” idea and also echoes the more recent pregnant-women-as-hosts political gaffe. Plus, while the idea of childbirth as a miracle is easy to agree with, it’s a pretty aggressive and crude miracle; just today, over at Slate, Cheryl Strayed of Wild fame lays out the 43 hours of intense pain and work that went into that miracle in her experience.

Lewis’ comments have some of the women who are counterexamples to his ideas up in arms. Then again, not everyone thinks the record needs to be set straight:

Caring what Jerry Lewis thinks about women comics is like caring that grandpa doesn’t like all the loud music today

— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) May 24, 2013


Categories: Magazines

McDonald’s Is Taking On the Waffle Taco With This One Sandwich

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:56

Taco Bell made news with its Waffle Taco, a breakfast item born to be Instagramed. Now McDonald’s is pushing back with a new campaign for an old breakfast fusion plate: The pancake wrapped breakfast sandwich, the McGriddle.

At the tail-end of its free coffee promotion Monday, a rebuttle to Taco Bell’s anti Egg McMuffin campaign, the company released a new ad for its sweet-meets-savory product, first launched in 2003:

There has yet to be a big social media push—McDonald’s Twitter has been Coachella-heavy recently—but the McGriddles portion of the McDonald’s website reads: “You know it’s a McGriddles Morning when the dog drools enviously at you. And you don’t even have a dog.”

The new McGriddles spot emphasizes the pairing of McDonald’s coffee with the promotional sandwich. According to research firm Technomic, McDonald’s already owns 31% of fast food chains’ $31.7 billion breakfast market.McDonald’s did not respond for immediate comment about its new campaign.

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Fighting Erupts in Central African Republic Town

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:49

(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — A local official in Central African Republic says Muslim fighters have overrun his town, killing several residents and sending others fleeing to the bush.

Eric Kongbo said Monday that the fighters arrived in Grimari, in the country’s center, a day earlier. Kongbo, who was himself in the bush, said it was unclear how many people had been killed because residents were too afraid to return to the town.

Capt. Ahmat Nidjad Ibrahim of the Muslim fighters said Christian militias had attacked the town and his fighters were merely chasing them.

Central African Republic exploded into sectarian violence last year amid mounting resentment toward a Muslim rebel government. French and African Union forces are trying to bring stability and the U.N. has approved a peacekeeping force.

Categories: Magazines

FBI Tried To Recruit Member of 9/11 Plotters’ Legal Team, Lawyers Claim

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:48

At Guantanamo Bay, the wheels of justice turn not so much slowly, as seldom. Twelve and a half years after 9/11, the five men accused of planning and launching the attack are in pre-trial hearings at a military tribunal there. On Monday, the tribunal held proceedings for the first time since December. Within minutes, the hearing recessed.

As the indefatigable Carol Rosenberg reports in the Miami Herald, Army Col. James Pohl, who is the presiding judge on the tribunal, called the recess after lawyers for the accused terrorists said the FBI had tried to turn a member of the defense team into a confidential informant:

Defense lawyers alleged Monday that in at least one instance, two FBI agents enlisted a civilian on the defense team of accused plot deputy Ramzi bin al Shibh as a confidential informant.

The FBI had no immediate comment.

But the development seemed to stun the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Mark Martins, who told the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, that he was unaware of the FBI activity.

Martins is struggling to keep proceedings moving. While his primary task is to prosecute the five men, he also is under scrutiny for the effectiveness of the tribunal itself. The Obama administration tried to bring the plot’s ringleader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to the United States for trial early in Obama’s first term but found it politically impossible to do so. Since then, every development at the tribunal has been viewed as a potential judgment on whether military trials are more or less effective than the U.S. court system, where al Qaeda terrorists continue to be brought to justice with some regularity.

The current fits and starts at Gitmo are inevitably unfolding as part of that debate. The December delay came thanks to questions of whether one defendant, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, was competent to stand trial after repeated outbursts at his hearings. Monday’s delay, with luck, will be shorter: proceedings are expected to start again Tuesday.

Categories: Magazines

While You Were Home Having a “Date” With Netflix, This Kid Actually Went to Prom With Netflix

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:33

Kids these days are all about finding clever, offbeat ways to ask potential dates to go to prom with them. Most kids, however, are asking fellow humans.

One Chicago teen named Muthana Sweis for some reason decided to ask Netflix to prom instead. Maybe because he, like many of us, has had plenty of “dates” at home alone with the streaming service and wanted to carry out some kind of avant garde-social commentary-performance art thing. Probably not. But maybe! Anyway, Sweis worked up the courage to ask the brand on Twitter:

Hey @netflix if this gets 1,000 retweets will you go to my junior prom with me?—
Muthana Sweis (@muthanasweis) January 30, 2014

Turns out Sweis had already locked down a date with an actual human, but Netflix still said yes!

We said yes! We’re third wheeling to #Prom2014 with @muthanasweis and his date:…
Netflix US (@netflix) March 28, 2014

“Third wheeling” basically meant that the company hooked Sweis up with three prom essentials: suit, ride and driver, all based on movies and TV shows. The 17-year-old chose James Bond’s tux from Skyfall, the ’55 Buick from Grease, and, for his chauffeur, Danny Zuko from Grease. Then, a Netflix camera crew followed Sweis around for the evening to document his newfound popularity.

Man, if only Sweis had proposed to Netflix at the end of the evening. That would give a whole new meaning to “brand engagement.”

(h/t Geekosystem)


Categories: Magazines

The Guardian and Washington Post Nab Pulitzer For Snowden Coverage

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:30

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism was awarded Monday to The Washington Post and The Guardian’s U.S. edition for their reporting on National Security Agency leaks from its former contractor Edward Snowden.

According to the Pulitzer committee, each media organization was awarded journalism’s highest honor “for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.”

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first approached documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with his cache of documents. Poitras assisted Snowden in bringing the documents to The Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian, which first published reports about the leaks. Both papers share this year’s Pulitzer for their ongoing coverage of Snowden’s leaks, which have shed new light on the agency’s tactics and operations, and provoked a vigorous international debate on the rights and wrongs of government surveillance.

The Long Island, NY, newspaper Newsday was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer for “its use of in-depth reporting and digital tools to expose shootings, beatings and other concealed misconduct by some Long Island police officers,” the committee said in its announcement.

Categories: Magazines

Post, Guardian Win Pulitzers For NSA Revelations

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:19

(NEW YORK) — The Washington Post and the Guardian have won Pulitzer Prizes in public service for revealing the massive U.S. government surveillance effort.

The awards, American journalism’s highest honor, were announced Monday.

The newspapers’ disclosures about the National Security Agency’s spy programs show the government has collected information about millions of Americans’ phone calls and emails based on its classified interpretations of laws passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The stories are based on thousands of documents handed over by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The Boston Globe has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news, and The New York Times has won two Pulitzers in photography categories.

Categories: Magazines

French Police’s Plan To DNA Test 500 High Schoolers Wouldn’t Fly In U.S.

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:17

French police are demanding DNA samples from 527 male students and staff members in its search for the perpetrator of a high school rape case. The teenage victim says that she can’t identify her assailant since he attacked her from behind in a dark bathroom at the school on Sept. 30. After running out of leads — the police tested DNA recovered from the girl’s clothes but found no match in the country’s database — authorities have decided to simply take DNA samples from every male who was on the closed campus at the time of the alleged rape. The testing began Monday. MoreKansas City Shooting Suspect to Face Hate Crime ChargesDutch Teen Reportedly Arrested For Tweeting Threat at American AirlinesMen 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 PostGinnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas Step Out After Their Wedding People

Authorities have warned students and staff that if anyone opted not to give a DNA sample he would be considered a suspect and taken into custody.”It’s clearly a situation where people do not have a choice,” Catherine Bourgain, a genetic researcher and author of DNA, Superstar or Supercop, told the Associated Press. ”Once you have a DNA file it’s very difficult to get that information erased.” So far, nobody has refused to give over a sample, prosecutor Isabelle Paganelle told the Associated Press.

“The choice is simple for me,” Paganelle said. “Either I file it away and wait for a match in what could be several years, or I go looking for the match myself.” Authorities promised to trash the samples of the children under investigation once each student was eliminated as a suspect.

The head of the school agreed that asking for DNA samples from every man at the school was the right decision. “This happened during the school day in a confined space,” Chantal Devaux, the private Roman Catholic school’s director, told French media. “The decision to take such a large sample was made because it was the only way to advance the investigation.”

Though the mass DNA sampling may seem like the logical conclusion for the French police, it’s unlikely that U.S. authorities would take similar steps to catch a rapist. The cost alone — a reported $6,900 — would likely be a deterrent.

But the more pressing issue is one of privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant backed by probable cause. This includes seizure of DNA. The American Civil Liberties Union called it a “serious blow to genetic privacy” when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June of 2013 that police may take DNA samples from people after they are arrested in connection with a serious crime: “The ruling allows the police to seize the DNA of innocent Americans who have never been convicted of any sort of crime, without a search warrant.” Imagine what the ACLU would have to say about police taking DNA samples before they obtained a warrant.

American authorities would have a hard time arguing that 500 people attending school would constitute probable cause for search and seizure of the students’ DNA. And it would certainly cause an uproar if police in the U.S. were able to take someone into custody for refusing to voluntarily provide a DNA sample. Though the technology is relatively new, the principle is as old as the Fourth Amendment itself.

So we probably won’t be seeing such tactics employed by American police any time soon. But there are also larger questions about an emerging concern for “rape culture” at play. My colleague Charlotte Alter argued last week that rape culture and sexual assault awareness can unfairly place “good guys” under suspicion for acts they would never commit: this incident seems to be the prime example since the police are arguing that every male in the school is a suspect merely because of their location and chromosomal makeup.

Then again, however problematic the tactic may be, it’s heartening to see the French police force take such a proactive stance on identifying a rapist when there is a backlog of 400,000 rape kits still waiting to be tested in the U.S.

Categories: Magazines

Cat Returned To Shelter Because It Farts All The Time

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:15

It’s a sad and stinky tale —with an ultimately happy ending.

Lenny the cat was found as a stray by the Scottsville Veterinary Hospital and Pet Adoptions in Rochester, N.Y.. The shelter nursed him back to health and set out to find the adorable cat a permanent home.

Happily, he was adopted in March, but, as occasionally happens, the adoption didn’t take and poor Lenny was returned to the shelter after living with his new family for only two days. The reason? He “farts all the time,” reported the Democrat & Chronicle.

Upon his return to the shelter, the supposedly farting feline didn’t display any indicators that he had earned his new nickname of “smelly cat,” however the cat may be best suited to a life outdoors.

Lenny was made a minor celebrity after the Scottsville Veterinary Adoptions’ posted his story to their Facebook page. That’s when one brave — and perhaps hard of smelling — family stepped up and adopted Lenny. Happy trails, happy tails.

[Via Democrat & Chronicle ]

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‘Omo Sexy’ Nollywood Star Finds Passion in Activism

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:07

When one of Africa’s biggest celebrities was honored as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2013, she found that it served to amplify her influence as a human-rights and environmental activist.

“I speak, and I shout even louder,” said Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, the actress, singer and reality television star known as “Omo Sexy” in Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry.

Ekeinde continues to speak out about issues affecting Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Niger River Delta in her native Nigeria.

Categories: Magazines

Too Little Weight Gain During Pregnancy Linked to Having a Chubby Child

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:04

There’s a growing mountain of evidence that obesity and other health factors can be determined as early as your time in the womb. While research has shown that too much weight gain during pregnancy can lead to an obese child, new research shows that too little weight gain can be a nearly equally risky factor in childhood obesity.

Researchers studied the electronic medical records of 4,145 women who had a baby between 2007 and 2009, and reviewed the medical information of their children between ages 2 and 5. Their findings, which are published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed that women who started at a normal weight before pregnancy, but gained more than the recommended amount, were 80% more likely to have an overweight child. Women with a normal weight before pregnancy who gained less than the recommended amount were 63% more likely to have a child who became overweight or obese.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is somewhere between 11 and 20 pounds.

When looking at the group as a whole, researchers found that among the women who gained too much weight, slightly more than 20% of their children were overweight. Among women who gained too little weight, 19.5% of their kids were overweight. And for those who gained the normal amount, only 14.5% had overweight kids.

Researchers are still looking into why weight gain outside the optimal range influences obesity, but one hypothesis is that gaining too much or too little weight interferes with the child’s ability to normalize energy and metabolism.

Categories: Magazines

Maryland Governor Signs Pot Decriminalization Bill

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:03

(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana starting in October.

Maryland is now the 17th state in the U.S. to decriminalize marijuana. The Democratic governor says the law should improve public safety by freeing police officers to focus on more serious threats.

The Maryland State’s Attorneys Association sent O’Malley a letter Friday, urging him to veto the measure. The group’s president says the bill was passed too hastily. Charles Smith wanted amendments that would keep it a crime to smoke pot in public or carry it onto school property.

O’Malley also approved a measure to improve the distribution of medical marijuana.

Categories: Magazines

How Your Diet Can Hurt Your Marriage

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:00

Anyone who’s been on a diet knows that hunger can make you cranky. With less fuel, your brain doesn’t exert as much self control, so you let your impatience and irritation go unchecked. 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 PostEva Longoria Dishes on Her 'Good Dresser' Boyfriend and Why She Loves Flying PeoplePeter King's Monday Morning Quarterback Sports Illustrated'Game of Thrones' recap: 'The Lion and the Rose' Entertainment Weekly

Researchers speculate that such hunger-fueled anger could even affect your marriage. Brad Bushman, at The Ohio State University, and his international group of colleagues set up a study involving 107 married couples, using voodoo dolls to track how angry spouses felt toward each other. Over a period of 21 days, the couples had their blood glucose measured every night before they went to bed, and every morning before they ate breakfast, as a barometer of their hunger. The voodoo dolls were stand-ins for their spouses; each partner had 51 pins and poked the doll each night to represent how irritated he or she was at his or her spouse.

MORE: Study: Effects of Childhood Hunger Last for Decades

Who poked the most? Those who had the lowest glucose levels on average stabbed their voodoo partner more than twice as many times as those with the highest glucose levels. Even after the scientists controlled for how happy the spouses reported their relationship as being, the hunger-aggression connection remained strong.

“We don’t say that glucose levels explain everything, but we took repeated measures over the 21 days and found these pretty robust results,” says Bushman.

It’s possible that the people with higher glucose levels were simply more forgiving or feeling more generous after a fulfilling meal – levels of mood hormones like serotonin tend to go up after a meal, ushering in a feeling of satiety. But Bushman believes that the consistency of the results hint that something more may be involved, and that may have to do with how hunger can contribute to less self-control and more irritable behavior.

In the second part of the study, he and his colleagues asked the spouses to play a competitive computer game, and awarded the winning partner the opportunity to blast the loser with a cacophony of sounds, including dentist drills, sirens, and fingernails dragging across a chalkboard. The scientists told the participants they could make the sounds as loud or as quiet as they desired, and leave them on for as long as they wanted (researchers actually controlled the volume so no eardrums were harmed). Those who recorded the lowest glucose levels over the past 21 days were more likely to blast the sounds at higher volumes and for longer periods of time if they won than those who had higher glucose levels.

That skipping meals or cutting back on calories could escalate aggression among spouses leads Bushman and his colleagues to suspect that hunger could even be behind some cases of domestic violence, although the study did not go as far as to test that theory. But Bushman says the findings make it clear that low glucose levels, and its resulting lack of self-control, should be considered part of the constellation of factors that can contribute to marital strife. That means that people on diets should be aware of how their drop in calories can affect their mood and the way they interact with others, including their spouse. And, says Bushman, “If couples have something to talk to their spouse about, they should do it over dinner, or better yet, after dinner.”

Categories: Magazines

The Most Complained-About Library Book of 2013 Was…

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:00
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Captain Underpants rides again!

The American Library Association has released their annual State of America’s Libraries report, which includes the list of the most “challenged” books of the previous year. Those are the books that are the subject of formal, written complaints filed with libraries or schools “requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.” The 2013 report notes that the year’s 307 recorded instances of challenges is down from 2012 — to the tune of more than 100 complaints.

But the books receiving those fewer complaints were, in many cases, the same as before. Just as in 2012, the potty humor of the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey brought the books to the top of the list. Other repeat offenders in the top ten included Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and Looking for Alaska by John Green. The newcomers to the top ten were:

  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (second place)
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  • A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  • Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  • Bone (series), by Jeff Smith

As I noted last year, it’s not so surprising that something like Captain Underpants would be seen as more worthy of complaint than something as blatantly out-there as Fifty Shades. Though the presence of the BDSM blockbuster in a public library might bother some patrons, adult books for adults are harder to muster outrage over. Books for kids are clearly much more likely to be the subject of formal, written complaints. One of the most common reasons for complaint is, in fact, “unsuited to age group.” (Why that’s one of the reasons people complained about 50 Shades too is, however, a complete mystery.)

As for trying to keep kids away from Hunger Games due to its “religious viewpoint” (which is what?) and it being “unsuited to age group” — good luck with that, concerned citizens. The ALA’s annual list is a nice barometer of what has people wringing their hands, but The Hunger Games is as good a reminder as any that a book being challenged is not the same thing as it being suppressed.

Categories: Magazines

Kansas City Shooting Suspect to Face Hate Crime Charges

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:48

The suspect accused of killing three people in a shooting rampage outside of a Jewish center and a retirement community Sunday will face hate crime charges, authorities said Monday.

“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.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement earlier on Monday saying federal prosecutors would work with their local counterparts “to determine whether the federal hate crimes statute is implicated in this case.”

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, was arrested Sunday in an elementary school parking lot after he shot two people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. before driving to a nearby retirement community, where he shot a third. Cross reportedly shouted “Heil Hitler!” while in police custody.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, identified Cross as a well-known white supremacist and a former “grand dragon” of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan. Cross is also known to have contributed writings to the Vanguard News Network, an anti-Semitic organization that he supported financially.

All three people Cross killed were Christians, the AP reports.


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Watch Bryan Cranston Help This Teen Ask a Girl to Prom

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:43

Bryan Cranston may be the one who knocks, but he is also the one who makes a mean prom invitation.

When teen Stefan Montana ran into Cranston, he didn’t waste his opportunity and merely ask the Breaking Bad star for a measly autograph to impress his friends and/or sell on eBay.

Instead, Montana enlisted the actor to help in what would be the ultimate prom-posal for a Breaking Bad fan. The teen asked the actor to briefly reprise his role as Walter White and make his dream date an offer she couldn’t refuse, by warning her to “tread lightly” if she dare say no to the invitation.

Obviously she said yes.

Watch above and here’s another angle on the action:

[Via Neatorama]

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Google Snaps Up Solar Drone Maker

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:27

Google has agreed to buy the startup manufacturer of high-altitude solar-powered drones Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed amount of money, the tech giant announced Monday.

Facebook had earlier expressed interest in purchasing Titan but instead announced it would buy another solar-drone maker, Ascenta, for $20 million.

Drones manufactured by the New Mexico-based company are designed to run for years without touching the ground. Tech firms hope such a drone might serve as a sort of atmospheric satellite, taking images of the earth, for example, or supporting data transfer.

“Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “It’s still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation. It’s why we’re so excited to welcome Titan Aerospace to the Google family.”

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The World Shrugs at Alleged Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:26

It’s not often that the Syrian regime and opposition groups fighting for its downfall can agree on something. But when it comes to the alleged April 11 chemical attack on the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita, neither side has any doubt it happened. What they can’t agree upon is who is to blame. Video footage taken from a local field hospital and published online by anti-regime activists shows scenes of chaos and terror, as harried medical workers pass oxygen masks around a crowded room and struggle to revive pale, listless patients lying on the floor between hospital gurneys. Toddlers, stacked four to a bed, cough and scream in fear if they aren’t laying unnaturally still. It is impossible to tell for certain what happened, but existing footage indicates some sort of chemical agent may have been involved. “A helicopter came and dropped a container,” says anti-regime activist Abdallah Abu Raed via Skype from Kfar Zeita, describing the scene on Friday. “A sort of yellow dust spread in the sky and coated everything. You can’t really distinguish the smell because as soon as you inhale it you pass out.” The noxious substance affected some 150 people, he says, and by Monday afternoon, several victims had been transferred to neighboring Turkey for treatment. Two children and an old man had died, he says. More3 Journalists For Hezbollah TV Killed In SyriaAssad: Syrian War Is At ‘Turning Point’Men 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 PostSay Anything Turns 25: 15 Life Lessons from Lloyd Dobler People

Within hours of the alleged attack, opposition leaders were blaming the Syrian government, saying the military had added chlorine gas to its by now habitual deployment of improvised barrel bombs full of explosives and shrapnel dropped from aircraft flying over rebellious civilian areas. The next day state-run television responded with reports that the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front had orchestrated the attacks, and that the rebel group was planning further attacks on other towns. The state-owned news agency did not say from where it had obtained the information, but on April 1 – ten days before the attack – Syria’s representative to the United Nations in New York, Bashar al-Jaafari, claimed that Syrian government authorities had intercepted phone calls between militant groups planning to launch chemical attacks in order to frame the government. Popular Among Subscribers The Rise of Fake Pot Common Core Sparks Parent RevoltChristians and Tyrants

Taleb Abu al-Hasan, commander of the local 111 rebel regiment in Kfar Zeita, tells TIME via Skype that such pre-emptive accusations are standard government propaganda. “Whenever the regime is about to do this, they blame someone else ahead of time to deflect blame before the attack takes place.” The rebels, he adds, are bracing for a similar attack in the nearby town of Morek, “because the regime is saying that their intelligence has gathered evidence that al-Nusra is planning to use [chemical weapons] there.” The towns of Kfar Zeita and Morek have been thorns in the side of regime forces since the rebels seized them several months ago. They threaten a key supply line to military units vital for maintaining government control over the northern town of Aleppo, says al-Hasan, and that’s why he believes they are likely to be next of the regime’s hit-list. It’s simply too convenient, he suggests, that Morek, which is already under rebel control, is threatened by another chemical attack by the al-Nusra Front.

If past cases of alleged chemical attacks are anything to go by, there may never be definitive proof of culpability for the Kfar Zeita attack, or any subsequent attacks, for that matter. It may impossible to prove that any chemical agents were used it all. It took months for U.N. investigators to determine that a chemical weapons attack had actually taken place on Aug. 21 in the Damascus suburbs, even after hundreds had died from apparent symptoms of exposure to toxic substances. Even then investigators were not able to assign blame. Figuring out what happened in Kfar Zeita, about 200 km north of Damascus in contested territory, will be even more difficult given ongoing war, the region’s inaccessibility and the unwillingness of either side to let go of the propaganda opportunities presented by continued ambiguity.

The U.S., for the moment, has been cautious in assigning blame. “We are trying to run this down,” Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on the U.S. weekly television news program ‘This Week.’ “So far, it’s unsubstantiated, but we’ve seen, I think, in the past that we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response.”

Of course, “possible steps” are likely to be limited. Under a deal brokered by ally Russia, President Bashar Assad agreed to give up Syria’s substantial chemical arsenal by June 30 in order to avert a U.S. military response in the wake of the August attack. (The Syrian regime blamed the rebels for that attack as well). And the U.S. and its Western allies may not want to issue fresh threats against the Assad regime now that Syria is on the brink of reaching the goal of relinquishing its chemical weapons — today the organization overseeing Syria’s compliance, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, announced that 65 percent of Syria’s chemical stockpiles had been removed from the country. “All of these countries have a vested interest in seeing Syria disarmed,” says chemical weapons expert Jean Pascal Zanders. “Right now that is the biggest priority, which is why I am thinking no one will want to rock the boat over this issue right now.”

With reporting by Hania Mourtada / Beirut

Categories: Magazines

U.S. Army Rejects Clemency for WikiLeaks Source Manning

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:20

The U.S. Army has declined a request for clemency from the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, who was convicted last year of leaking a massive amount of classified government data to the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchannan approved the 35-year sentence handed down by Judge Denise Lind in Manning’s court martial in August 2013. Buchannan’s decision was issued Thursday but announced to the public Monday.

Manning was convicted of 20 separate offenses, including violations of the Espionage Act, but acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carried a sentence of up to life in prison. The 35-year sentence levied against Manning is the longest sentence imposed on someone for leaking information to the media in American history.

Manning and her supporters are also pursuing other avenues to reduce the leaker’s punishment, including a clemency request with President Barack Obama and a military appeals process that could terminate in the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the time of her conviction, Manning was known by the first name Bradley. She has since formally requested a name change to Chelsea and indicated to the public that she identifies as female.

Categories: Magazines

These Cities Have the Most Open-Minded Daters

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:17

There has been a lot of recent data stating that most daters are complete narcissists when it comes to romance and only want to pursue people who remind them of themselves. But according to a new study from dating site Zoosk, many online daters are open minded to pursuing people with different characteristics. And it turns out that Las Vegas, home to contortionists and “no judgement” policies, is the most flexible city when it comes to being “open minded” in romance.

Here are Zoosk’s results for the cities you should consider traveling to for singles who aren’t interested in dopplegangers:

Top 10 Most Open-Minded Cities for Dating:

1. Las Vegas, Nevada
2.Detroit, Michigan
3.Columbus, Ohio
4.Sacramento, California
5.San Antonio, Texas
6.Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7.Indianapolis, Indiana
8.Jacksonville, Florida
9.Nashville, Tennessee
10.Memphis, Tennessee

Top 10 Least Open-Minded Cities for Dating:

1. Raleigh, North Carolina
2. San Jose, California
3. Birmingham, Alabama
4. Richmond, Virginia
5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
6. Washington DC
7. San Diego, California
8. Atlanta, Georgia
9. Riverside, California
10. Orlando, Florida

Zoosk also specifically broke down what cities are the most open minded in different categories, showing where people of one religion are open to dating someone from a different denomination, or where someone of one height would be more open to dating someone of a different height (although this assumes a 5’4″ is just as open to dating a guy who’s 5’10″ as she is one who is 4’10″): Zoosk

But don’t move just yet. Zoosk gathered data from matches who engaged in “deep conversation,” meaning that they exhibited interest by sending at least two messages to one another each. That means a conversation consisting of: “Hey sexy, I want to take you to the moon,” “Please stop,” “I’m revving up my engine to take you out of this world,” “Oh dear God,” shows sustained romantic interest.

Categories: Magazines