Headline News

  • Chemical spill at Washington state port forces evacuations


    SEATTLE (Reuters) – A chemical spill at the Port of Olympia in Washington state on Wednesday forced the evacuation of dozens of employees and several nearby businesses while the toxicity is assessed, the Olympia Fire Department said. The hydrogen peroxide leak originated in a pipe leading to a large tank at an $11.5 million stormwater treatment plant that opened in December, said port spokeswoman Kathleen White. It was unclear how much of the chemical had escaped, White and an Olympia Fire Department spokesman said. Evacuations were in place for a quarter-mile perimeter around the leak site at the port’s Marine Terminal, while others in the area were told to shelter in place, the official said. All port employees in the evacuation radius were safe, and about eight other businesses were also cleared out, the fire official said. There were no reports of illness. The Washington State Department of Ecology was on site to determine the …

    January 28, 2015 5:33 pm
    0 Comments

Politics

  • Obama’s attorney general pick aims to smooth DOJ ties with Congress


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s pick for attorney general, on Wednesday sought to make a clean break from the testy relationship her predecessor had with Congress, while supporting the legality of the administration’s controversial actions on immigration. Lynch, a career prosecutor known for her diplomatic skills, struck a delicate balance during her confirmation hearing, telling the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, “I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship.” Her willingness to listen to Republican concerns was generally well received by the senators. Even Tea Party-backed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he welcomed her commitment, describing it as a “sharp break” in style from Attorney General Eric Holder, an unapologetic liberal voice who once declared himself “the president’s wingman.” Lynch said she would offer independent and objective advice to the president. Yet she defended the administration’s immigration order from November, which eased the threat of deportation for some five million …

    January 28, 2015 5:53 pm
    0 Comments

Stocks

  • Millions to owe Obamacare tax penalty


    Were you uninsured in 2014? It’s time to pay the piper! Some 3 million to 6 million Americans will have to pay an Obamacare tax penalty for not having health insurance last year, Treasury officials said Wednesday. It’s the first time they have given estimates for how many people will be subject to a fine. The penalty is $95, or 1% of income above a certain threshold (roughly $20,000 for a couple). So you could end up owing the IRS a lot of money. Take a married couple with $100,000 in income – their bill comes to $797, according to the Tax Policy Center ACA penalty calculator. The penalty for remaining uninsured rises to the larger of $325 or 2% of income in 2015. Related: Obamacare 2.0 sign ups hit 9.5 million As millions of Americans sit down in coming weeks to compile their tax returns, they’ll have to contend with Obamacare’s health insurance mandate …

    January 28, 2015 4:12 pm
    0 Comments

Sports

  • Two ex-Vandy football players convicted of rape


    A jury has found two former Vanderbilt football players guilty on all counts for their participation in an on-campus rape during June of 2013. Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg were each convicted on four charges of aggravated rape, one of attempted aggravated rape and two for aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was also found guilty of tampering with evidence as well as an unlawful photography charge. Both are scheduled for sentencing on March 6. Two other former players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie, are still awaiting trial as part of the case. The incident occurred in Vandenburg’s dorm room, with the victim then a 21- year student who has since graduated from the university. All four players, none of which ever appeared in a game for the Commodores, were suspended by the school shortly after the investigation took place. Assistant district attorney Jan Norman read a prepared statement, which The Tennessean transcribed, from the victim …

    January 28, 2015 5:33 pm
    0 Comments

World News

  • Castro issues Guantanamo Bay demand


    28 January 2015 Last updated at 22:56 There are still several hurdles for Barack Obama and Raul Castro to clear Cuba has demanded the US hand back the Guantanamo Bay military base before relations with Washington are normalised. In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba’s removal from a terror list. Last month the two countries announced a thaw in relations, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties. They were severed in 1961. High-level talks were held last week. A Congressional delegation arrived in Havana to begin negotiations aimed at reopening embassies in the two countries’ capitals. Meanwhile, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro appeared to signal his approval for the political rapprochement. Fidel Castro stood down as Cuban president in 2008 Cuba’s state-run newspaper published a letter on Tuesday in which he wrote: “We will always defend co-operation and friendship with all the people of the world, …

    January 28, 2015 5:33 pm
    0 Comments

Technology

  • Facebook earnings surpass expectations boosted by mobile advertising


    Facebook revenue grew 49% in the fourth quarter, as mobile advertising helped the social network beat Wall Street’s expectations. “We got a lot done in 2014,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. Facebook ended 2014 with 1.39 billion monthly users, in December 890 million people accessed the service on a daily basis, an increase of 18% year-over-year. Revenue for the full year 2014 was $12.47bn, an increase of 58% year-over-year. The company struggled after its initial public offering in May 2012, as analysts worried it was failing to make the transition to mobile. But Facebook has successfully repositioned itself for mobile. Mobile daily active users totalled 745 million on average in December 2014, an increase of 34% year-over-year. The company said mobile ads accounted for 69% of advertising revenue in the fourth quarter, or $2.48bn. The type of content people look at on Facebook is also changing. Ahead of releasing the latest quarter’s figures …

    January 28, 2015 5:53 pm
    0 Comments

Science

  • Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds


    Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets — tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity — might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, University of Washington astronomers have found. In a paper published this month in the journal Astrobiology, UW doctoral student Rodrigo Luger and co-author Rory Barnes, research assistant professor, say the two forces could combine to transform uninhabitable “mini-Neptunes” — big planets in outer orbits with solid cores and thick hydrogen atmospheres — into closer-in, gas-free, potentially habitable worlds. Most of the stars in our galaxy are low-mass stars, also called M dwarfs. Smaller and dimmer than the sun, with close-in habitable zones, they make good targets for finding and studying potentially habitable planets. Astronomers expect to find many Earthlike and “super-Earth” planets in the habitable zones of these stars in coming years, so it’s important to know if they might indeed support life. Super-Earths are …

    January 28, 2015 5:54 pm
    0 Comments

Health

  • Salix Pharma to restate past seven quarters’ results


    (Reuters) – Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd said it would restate financial statements for all of 2013 and the first three quarters of 2014, adding to the drugmaker’s list of woes. The restatement, which corrects errors related to the timing of revenue recognition, revenue-reducing returns, discounts and expenses, will cumulatively reduce reported net product revenue by about $20.7 million and net income by about $11.9 million, the company said. Salix reported net product revenue of $933.8 million and adjusted net income of $246.9 million for 2013. Reuters reported this month that the maker of bowel drugs was working with investment bank Centerview Partners Holdings LP to explore options including a sale. Salix Chief Executive Carolyn Logan stepped down earlier in January following the departure of other top executives. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company slashed its full-year forecast in November after inventory for its key drugs piled up. The inventory issue was to blame for Botox maker Allergan …

    January 28, 2015 5:53 pm
    0 Comments

Entertainment

  • David Oyelowo speaks up about Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘colored’ comment


    The Sherlock actor came under fire when he used the outdated term in an interview, saying, “I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really different in the U.K., and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the U.K., and that’s something that needs to change. “Something’s gone wrong,” Cumberbatch continued. “We’re not representative enough in our culture of different races and that really does need to step up a pace.” More: How this year’s nominee diversity compares to the previous year While the point he was trying to make about racial inequality in the arts was a valid one, that message was unfortunately lost in the chatter about his use of the term “colored.” Now Oyelowo has spoken out in his fellow Brit’s defense, which may be even more meaningful because A) he himself is black and B) he did play Dr. Martin Luther …

    January 28, 2015 4:12 pm
    0 Comments

Editorial

Odd News

  • Unions turn lights off on French prime minister


    PARIS (Reuters) – An inquiry was under way on Wednesday after French trade unionists turned the lights off on a keynote speech by Prime Minister Manuel Valls in protest at planned energy reforms. Valls was starting a speech to about 700 people in support of his Socialist party’s candidate for a by-election on Tuesday night when the lights went out and his microphone turned silent. The electricity stayed off for about an hour, not just at the venue, but in the whole neighbourhood in Audincourt, eastern France. Valls resumed his speech once the power had come back on. The mines and energy federation of France’s militant CGT union said in a statement it supported the action. “When we are not listened to, we must make our point differently, so we cut the power, voila,” regional CGT head Marc Pautot said on radio France Info. Electricity distribution group ERDF, part of state-controlled utility EDF, said it …

    January 28, 2015 5:53 pm
    0 Comments