Headline News

  • New York Assembly speaker to be replaced next week: NYT


    (Reuters) – New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will be replaced next week by a state lawmaker as he fights federal corruption charges, the New York Times newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Democratic lawmakers. Rochester-area Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, the majority leader and a top pick to succeed Silver on a permanent basis, is to take over as interim speaker on Monday, the newspaper said. Lawmakers are to choose a new leader in an election set for Feb. 10. “I will not hinder the process. I believe very deeply in the institution,” Silver told reporters as he exited the capitol in Albany late on Tuesday, a spokesman said. The replacement was announced after a meeting of Democrats in Albany, the Times said. Silver agreed on Sunday to relinquish his duties on a temporary basis amid mounting pressure from his fellow Democrats in the Assembly, who worried that the criminal charges would impair his ability to carry …

    January 27, 2015 9:20 pm
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Politics

  • White House seeks $534 billion base defense budget, $51 billion for wars


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration will seek a base defense budget of $534 billion when it sends its 2016 spending request to Congress next week, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, a figure that exceeds federal caps by $35 billion and could trigger mandatory cuts. The administration also will ask for nearly $51 billion in funding for the war in Afghanistan as well as the conflict against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal budget presentation next week. The base budget proposal includes $107.7 billion for weapons procurement and $69.8 billion for research, Bloomberg reported. A source familiar with the budget proposal said it had funding for 57 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), two more than planned in last year’s budget. The proposal maintains funding for Navy ships and aircraft but will curtail funding for some …

    January 27, 2015 9:40 pm
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Stocks

  • Did Fox and NBC get Bowe Bergdahl story wrong?


    Why did three separate military spokesman deny on Tuesday that a decision has been made to charge Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion? Because of an inflammatory Fox News segment and an anonymously-sourced NBC News story that sent reporters scrambling for information. The Fox and NBC stories prompted strong denials from Pentagon officials. “The reporting from Fox News and NBC on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is patently false,” Army Major General Ron Lewis said in a statement Tuesday. “Let me just put a fork in this right now if I can,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a news conference Tuesday. “No decision has been made with respect to the case of Sgt. Bergdahl. None. And there is no timeline to make that decision.” Another official called the Fox News report “speculative in nature.” But the Fox guest who originally made it a story said Tuesday night that he stands by what he said. Bergdahl, a prisoner …

    January 27, 2015 10:00 pm
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Sports

  • Keys overcomes injury, Venus to make Melbourne semis


    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Madison Keys overcame a leg injury to secure a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory over Venus Williams at the Australian Open on Wednesday to reach her first grand slam semi-final. The 19-year-old took the first set in 29 minutes but suffered an injury to her left thigh in the second, which affected her movement and allowed her American compatriot to seize a 4-1 lead following a double break. Keys took a medical timeout after that game and returned with strapping around her leg and somehow broke Williams twice to get it back on serve, but was then broken again and Williams served out the set 6-4. In the decider, Williams earned a double break and was serving to take a 5-3 lead but Keys broke for the second time to level it at 4-4. The emerging American talent then broke again in the final game to clinch the match and set up a …

    January 27, 2015 9:20 pm
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World News

  • Child soldiers freed in South Sudan


    27 January 2015 Last updated at 18:55 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. Child soldiers speak after being freed from the South Sudanese militia A South Sudanese militia has freed 280 child soldiers as part of a wider deal to release about 3,000 underage fighters, the UN’s children agency Unicef has said. More releases will occur in the coming weeks, said the agency, which helped negotiate the children’s freedom. The soldiers were recruited into an armed group which has now made peace with the government. Other rebel militias have been locked in a civil war since 2013. Fighting began after President Salva Kiir accused his deputy of trying to foment a coup, triggering a descent into nationwide violence and forcing about 1.5 million people from their homes. According to Unicef, around 12,000 children have been forcibly recruited by armed groups in South Sudan over the past year. Child soldier case study: Silva, …

    January 27, 2015 9:20 pm
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Technology

  • Lasers have turned this metal super hydrophobic


    J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester The ability to repel water has so many potential uses. It can help prevent corrosion as well as the growth of organisms; it means objects need to be cleaned less often, since water can’t cling long enough to evaporate and leave behind residue; and it can prevent ice from forming. Current methods usually involve a hydrophobic coating — a technique that is prone to damage, since the coating is usually ultrathin and needs to be reapplied every few years. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of Rochester, however, can make a surface hydrophobic without the use of coatings. How? With a precise and powerful laser that etches a pattern of micro- and nanoscale structures onto the surface of metal — building on earlier work that used laser-patterning to absorb light to render metal black — creating a material that both absorbs light and repels water. The material …

    January 27, 2015 9:40 pm
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Science

  • Sugary drinks linked to earlier onset of menstrual periods


    Girls who frequently consume sugary drinks tend to start their menstrual periods earlier than girls who do not, according to new research published online Jan 28 in Human Reproduction. In the first study to look at the relation between sugar-sweetened drinks and the age at which girls have their first period, researchers followed 5583 girls, aged 9-14 years between 1996 and 2001 and found that those who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who consumed two or fewer such drinks a week. This effect was independent of the girls’ body mass index (BMI), height, total food intake and other lifestyle factors such as physical activity. The findings are important not only because of the growing problem of childhood obesity in a number of developed countries, but also because starting periods earlier is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer later in …

    January 27, 2015 9:41 pm
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Health

  • Abiomed raises revenue outlook, wins US approval for heart pump


    (Reuters) – Medical device maker Abiomed Inc (ABMD.O) raised its full-year revenue forecast and said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its heart pump, sending its stock up about 30 percent in extended trading. Abiomed’s heart pump, Impella RP, helps blood circulation for up to 14 days in patients who develop acute right heart failure following implantation, myocardial infarction, heart transplant or open-heart surgery. The device is the first percutaneous, single access pump approved for right heart support, the company said. In surgery, ‘percutaneous’ pertains to any procedure that allows access to internal organs via a needle-puncture of the skin, rather than by using an “open” approach where organs must be exposed, typically using a scalpel. The approval comes in the form of a humanitarian device exemption (HDE), given for devices to treat rare conditions, affecting less than 4,000 people in the United States per year, and ones which have no comparable products. …

    January 27, 2015 9:40 pm
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Entertainment

  • Proof Ghostbusters scored by casting Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy (GIFs)


    More: Our favorite quotes from TV’s funniest women The funny ladies are going to be leading the cast along with Saturday Night Live‘s Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. We can’t wait for the Paul Feig-led reboot, mostly because it’s some good time, guaranteed laughs with some of our favorites leading the way. Here are just a few reasons we’ll be racing to the theater on opening day. Because Wiig and McCarthy can shimmy and sparkle like nobody’s business Image: f***yeahkristenwiig.tumblr.com They have each other’s backs… like, literally Image: andtwiceasdrunk.tumblr.com More: Kristen Wiig says comedy wasn’t her first choice Even when one of them needs some backside encouragement Image: tumblr.com And, well, there’s this (you’re welcome) Image: f***yeahkristenwiig.tumblr.com So let’s shed a tear together… Image: tumblr.com Because Ghostbusters is now sure to be epic Image: bensoneternity.tumblr.com More: Ellen DeGeneres and Kristen Wiig butcher “Let it Go” (VIDEO) Yup, this epic Image: tumblr.com The only thing that could …

    January 27, 2015 10:00 pm
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Editorial

  • The forbidden Bible


    Religious persecution is not something that most Americans have personally experienced. While we may hear the odd snide remark about our religious group or be offended by the depiction of our faith in popular entertainment, we nevertheless experience an unsurpassed degree of religious freedom. We wake up each day with the ability to read our sacred texts, attend our religious services, and speak and write freely about our beliefs. While incidences of targeted religious hostilities do exist in the U.S., they are relatively few and far between. But religious persecution is all too common in many parts of the world. And religious persecution targeting Christians is on the rise. That reality was driven home for me with the recent release of Open Doors USA’s 2015 World Watch List. This annual ranking of the 50 countries and regions where it is most difficult and dangerous to be a Christian features a diverse group of nations. They …

    January 27, 2015 9:40 pm
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Odd News

  • Voodoo queen cemetery in New Orleans to restrict access after vandalism


    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – New Orleans’ oldest cemetery will soon be closed to visitors without an official escort or familial ties to the deceased, the result of a spate of vandalism that has included the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Vandalism is not a new problem at Laveau’s tomb and others at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which dates to the late 1700s and is perhaps the most famous graveyard in a city whose above-ground burial plots are among its defining characteristics. But the defacement, which includes Xs written in marker on the Laveau tomb as part of a local ritual for good luck that appears to have been encouraged by unofficial tour guides, has accelerated in recent months, said Sarah McDonald, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which owns the cemetery. “It became apparent that we needed to take some action to protect the sanctity of the space, as well as the …

    January 27, 2015 9:41 pm
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