Headline News

  • Eager eaters weigh-in ahead of NYC July 4 hot dog contest

    NEW YORK –  Four avid eaters have hit the scales ahead of the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous. Reigning champion Joey Chestnut joined past winners at the weigh-in Friday ahead of the 99-year-old Independence Day boardwalk tradition. The dogs will be served Saturday morning. Chestnut tipped the scales at a hearty 230 pounds while Michelle Lesco ranked the lightest competitor at 112 pounds. New Zealand native Nela Zisser says she can out-eat her male counterparts. She previously won a pizza eating contest. The event also featured a ceremonial stare down between the competitors. Repeat runner-up Tim Janus says he got into competitive eating to face off at Nathan’s. He conceded Chestnut would be tough to beat but vowed to do his best. Chestnut broke a world record in 2013 when he scoffed down 69 soggy dogs in 10 minutes. As an eight-year champion, he holds the Mustard Yellow …

    July 3, 2015 6:01 pm


  • New York governor orders more July Fourth security after alert

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered heightened security measures across the state over the U.S. July Fourth holiday weekend in response to a call for vigilance by the federal government. “We are keenly aware that New York State remains a top target for terrorists,” Cuomo said in a statement. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have issued an alert calling for local authorities and the public to remain vigilant for possible threats following recent calls for violence by Islamic State militants. In New York City, the nation’s largest municipal police force assigned about 7,000 officers and nearly all its counterterrorism personnel to handle security around Independence Day events. Cuomo expanded the stepped-up security measures to include the entire state in a directive to the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “In response to the warning by the federal government, New York State is taking steps …

    July 3, 2015 5:21 pm


  • Chicago finds new tax stream: Netflix, Spotify, online gambling

    Binge watching on Netflix has become a bit costlier in the Windy City. Chicago has expanded its taxing power to extend to streaming services. The city’s residents will now pay an extra 9% tax to use services such as Netflix and Spotify. Chicago’s finance department made the ruling last month, amending the established amusement tax to include “electronically delivered amusements.” That includes streaming music, movies and television. It also includes online gaming. The change took effect on Wednesday, and it will apply to those with Chicago billing addresses. According to multiple media reports, the city expects the change to generate an extra $12 million each year. More than two dozen states already charge sales tax on digital services. Related: Are you paying the iTunes tax?

    July 3, 2015 6:21 pm


  • Astana plunged into controversy again over Boom

    UTRECHT, Netherlands The Astana team were plunged into controversy again when Dutch rider Lars Boom faced being thrown out of the Tour de France because of low Cortisol levels on the eve of the start. Low levels of the hormone can be explained by the use of corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs that are allowed out of competition but forbidden while racing unless a rider is granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Astana, the team of defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali, are members of the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) that applies stricter rules than the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). “According to article 9 of the MPCC the return to competition will be made after at least eight days of rest,” the MPCC said in a statement on Friday. UCI regulations do not forbid Boom from starting Saturday’s first stage, a 13.8-km individual time trial. Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov suggested Astana …

    July 3, 2015 6:01 pm

World News

  • Mass rallies over Greek bailout vote

    Tens of thousands of Greeks have attended rival rallies in Athens ahead of a crucial referendum on Sunday. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was greeted with huge cheers when he told supporters to vote “No” to the terms of an international bailout. But those attending another huge rally nearby warned a “No” vote would see Greece ejected from the eurozone. A Greek court earlier rejected a challenge to the legality of the referendum and it will go ahead. Greece’s current bailout programme ran out on Tuesday. All week banks have been shut, with limits imposed on cash withdrawals. The BBC’s Chris Morris in Athens says this has become a choice about whether to stay in the eurozone. With so much at stake, he says, the rhetoric is getting nasty – no-one can even be sure whether Greek banks will be able to reopen next week as the government has promised. Another war of words flared late …

    July 3, 2015 6:02 pm


  • The meaning of life, according to Google’s chatbot AI

    The cover of “Robot Visions” by Isaac Asimov, published in 1990. Roc Conversations with chatbots are interesting, in a short-lived sort of way. If you take Cleverbot for a spin, for example, you quickly run into issues. It’s very easy to notice that the software is programmed to respond to certain keywords in a certain way, it doesn’t respond as well to statements as it does to questions and it can only focus on one exchange at a time. Oriol Vinyal and Quoc Le at Google have been working on developing an artificial intelligence that is better at adapting to these conversational twists and turns… and rather than being programmed by a human operator, the artificial intelligence has been teaching itself by analysing movie subtitles and IT helpdesk transcripts. “Our model converses by predicting the next sentence given the previous sentence or sentences in a conversation,” reads the introduction to a paper on the project …

    July 3, 2015 5:01 pm


  • First comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome completed

    Related images(click to enlarge) The first comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome reveals extensive genetic changes that allowed mammoths to adapt to life in the arctic. Mammoth genes that differed from their counterparts in elephants played roles in skin and hair development, fat metabolism, insulin signaling and numerous other traits. Genes linked to physical traits such as skull shape, small ears and short tails were also identified. As a test of function, a mammoth gene involved in temperature sensation was resurrected in the laboratory and its protein product characterized. The study, published in Cell Reports on July 2, sheds light on the evolutionary biology of these extinct giants. “This is by far the most comprehensive study to look at the genetic changes that make a woolly mammoth a woolly mammoth,” said study author Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago. “They are an excellent model to understand how …

    July 3, 2015 5:03 pm


  • Weight-loss surgery edges out lifestyle changes for type 2 diabetes

    (Reuters Health) – People with type 2 diabetes who have weight loss surgery are more likely to have significant improvements in their diabetes three years compared to diabetics who try lifestyle changes, a small new study suggests. “One of the most important things to take away is that there is durability of remission over time,” said Dr. Anita Courcoulas of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who led the research. Past studies have found that weight loss surgeries sometimes result in improvement for people with type 2 diabetes, but it remains to be seen if the surgeries are better at treating the condition than lifestyle interventions, the researchers write in JAMA Surgery. And few studies have examined the effectiveness of weight loss surgery for people with diabetes as well as class 1 or 2 obesity, which represents a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 39. (BMI is a measure of weight in relation to …

    July 3, 2015 5:21 pm


  • Kylie Jenner Shows Off Suspiciously Fuller Booty On Makeup Shopping Trip

    Posted on Fri Jul 3rd, 2015 1:00pm PDT       By X17 Staff Kim, is that you? Kylie Jenner and a pal headed to Sephora in Calabasas for a little makeup shopping yesterday, and the youngest of the Kardashian sported a crop top and spandex that highlighted her growing butt! First the massive lips, then the suddenly fuller chest, and now a plump booty! Kris Jenner is obviously letting her little girl go under the knife, and it’s shocking. The teenager looks like she’s thirty years old! Her drastically changing looks have everyone closest to her worried, including her famously image obsessed sister Kimmy K! “She has gone totally overboard. Her friends are worried. Even Kim of all people has told her to stop,” an insider recently dished to LifeStyle. “She has gotten so much attention from having her nose and lips done that now she can’t stop,” the source added. Even her mom thinks she has gone …

    July 3, 2015 4:41 pm


  • Flags of our daughters: Honoring the women warriors who serve our country

    “Make no mistake about it. These women are warriors.” The man who shared these words was among the most tested special operations leaders of the post-9/11 wars, Lt. Gen. John Mulholland. And he was speaking of Ashley White-Stumpf and her sisters-in-arms who were part of an all-women team recruited, trained and deployed to serve alongside special operations on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2011 while the combat ban remained very much in place. Battlefield necessity drove the creation and then the recruitment of this all-star band of sisters –women who met as teammates, became friends and ended their deployment as family.  This group of 55 women – 20 of whom served alongside Army Rangers and Navy SEALs and other special operations teams on nighttime combat operations — went to war as part of Cultural Support Team 2 after answering the call to serve issued by a U.S. Army Special Operations Command recruiting poster urging “Female …

    July 3, 2015 5:21 pm

Odd News

  • Mexican firm sorry for royally selling president short

    MEXICO CITY It could have been the height of diplomatic embarrassment for Mexico’s president. When Enrique Pena Nieto hosted towering King Felipe of Spain this week, it was a tongue-in-cheek paint ad ridiculing his 10- inch height deficit that grabbed the headlines. On Wednesday, Mexican paint company Comex posted on Twitter a digitally-altered photograph of the president standing on one of its paint pots, giving him a leg up over the monarch under the banner “una pintura de altura,” or “a paint of stature.” Comex apologized on Thursday for the photograph, deleting the post after it had been heavily retweeted. It said the Tweet was published “without the appropriate approvals”. (Reporting by Max de Haldevang; Editing by Dave Graham and Simon Gardner)

    July 2, 2015 8:54 pm