Headline News

  • U.S. Spelling Bee gets under way, easy words draw smiles

    OXON HILL, Md. The Scripps National Spelling Bee got under way on Wednesday with some of the 285 contestants vying for the title and $35,000 in prizes happy to get easy words in the starting round. After preliminary rounds, the finals on Thursday night will be televised by ESPN. The winner receives $35,000, savings bonds and other prizes. Spellers in the 88th annual bee range in age from nine to 15 and are the cream of more than 11 million hopefuls who took part in local contests. They come from eight countries and all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Defense Department schools. The first speller out was Kelvin Winney, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Chinle, Arizona. He stumbled on “malihini,” a Hawaiian word for foreigner. Sitting next to his mother, Nora McKerry, Kelvin, a first-time contestant, vowed to study harder for next year. Asked how others would feel when they were …

    May 27, 2015 2:27 pm


  • Obama administration issues new rules to protect water

    WASHINGTON The Obama administration on Wednesday issued new rules to protect streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, a step it said would help keep drinking water safe, but farmers and industry groups argued the regulation will be costly. The Waters of the United States rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, aims to give clarity about which bodies of water the EPA would have jurisdiction over. “This rule responds to the public’s demand for greater clarity, consistency, and predictability when making jurisdictional determinations. The result will be better public service nationwide,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary for the Army, Civil Works. The EPA and Army Corps said they took Wednesday’s action after receiving requests for over a decade from members of Congress, state and local officials, environmental and agriculture groups and scientists seeking clarity around what is protected under the Clean Water Act.   “One in three …

    May 27, 2015 1:06 pm


  • Her last assignment: What I learnt from the legendary Mary Ellen Mark

    “Stop the car, I want to photograph him.” Who was I to say “no” to a legend? Mary Ellen Mark sat in the backseat of our rental car, gazing out the window with fierce curiosity. Here was a woman and a reputation. A 75 year old photographer and legend who traveled the world and documented life on the margins of society. And I got to spend a week with Mary Ellen on her last assignment. A month later, this past Monday, she died in New York. But at work, Mary Ellen was relentless. We were in New Orleans for a CNN-commissioned assignment. I was her appointed guide as she documented the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina in the 10 years after the storm’s landfall. We were in the desolate Lower Ninth Ward. This wasn’t the first time she asked me to stop a car — by then I had grown accustomed to an artist’s whim, …

    May 27, 2015 2:07 pm


  • World soccer rocked by U.S., Swiss arrests of officials for graft

    ZURICH/NEW YORK The world’s most popular sport was plunged into turmoil on Wednesday as seven powerful soccer figures were arrested on U.S. corruption charges and faced extradition from Switzerland, whose authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups. The arrests of the senior FIFA officials in a morning raid at a five-star Zurich hotel mark an unprecedented blow against soccer’s powerful governing body, which for years has been dogged by allegations of corruption but always escaped major criminal cases. U.S. prosecutors said they aimed to make more arrests but would not be drawn on whether FIFA President Sepp Blatter, for long the most powerful man in the sport, was a target of the probe. Blatter, 79, is standing for re-election to a fifth term at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on Friday, and FIFA said the vote would go ahead as planned. U.S. authorities said a total of …

    May 27, 2015 2:27 pm

World News

  • IS ‘driven from Assyrian villages’

    This Assyrian church in one of the villages was allegedly damaged by IS Islamic State fighters have been driven out of Assyrian Christian villages in Syria that they seized in February, activists say. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Kurdish fighters had retaken the villages along the Khabur river in north-eastern Syria. But some reports say Syrian government forces drove the IS fighters out. Also on Wednesday it was reported that two of the hostages seized from the villages by IS had been freed. The two elderly women arrived in the provincial capital of Hassakeh on Tuesday, activists said. About 200 people from the villages are thought to still be in IS captivity. Christians under pressure The villages were cleared of IS fighters earlier this week but many residents have not returned for fear of any remaining IS fighters and booby traps, according to Afram Yakoub, chairman of the Assyrian Federation of Sweden. …

    May 27, 2015 2:27 pm


  • BMX racers benefit from drone tech

    Coaches can get performance analysis feedback about the BMX racers in real-time Great Britain Cycling Team’s BMX squad is fitting its bikes with tech developed for military drones to try to shave milliseconds off its race times. Miniature infrared lamps are fixed to the off-road two-wheelers, and they’re monitored using sensors placed at a track’s sides. These provide data to an app, which suggests ways the cyclist can be more efficient. The move is the result of a partnership with the defence firm BAE Systems. It said it originally developed the technology as part of a “sense and avoidance” system for unmanned aircraft to help them prevent mid-air collisions with other flying objects. It has been adapted to record the trajectory of the cyclists in the air after they make their jumps as well as their movements on the ground. It is hoped they can use the information to improve their techniques and race strategies …

    May 27, 2015 12:26 pm


  • A bubbly cosmic celebration

    Related images(click to enlarge) This new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile shows a spectacular red cloud of glowing hydrogen gas behind a collection of blue foreground stars. Within RCW 34 — located in the southern constellation of Vela — a group of massive young stars hide in the brightest region of the cloud [1]. These stars have a dramatic effect on the nebula. Gas exposed to strong ultraviolet radiation — as occurs in the heart of this nebula — becomesionised, meaning that the electrons have escaped the hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen is treasured by cosmic photographers because it glows brightly in the characteristic red colour that distinguishes many nebulae and allows them to create beautiful images with bizarre shapes. It is also the raw material of dramatic phenomena such as champagne flow. But ionised hydrogen also has an important astronomical role: it is an indicator of star-forming regions. Stars are born from …

    May 27, 2015 12:47 pm


  • Romania’s Antibiotice to boost exports to the U.S.

    BUCHAREST The United States will become Romanian state-owned drugmaker Antibiotice Iasi’s biggest foreign market by the middle of next year as it increases exports, its chief executive said on Wednesday. The generic drug producer shifted its focus to exports in 2009 when the financial crisis depressed domestic demand. Since then, its exports have doubled to roughly $25.6 million last year, accounting for a third of its turnover. Its main markets are currently Europe, Southeast Asia, China and the United States, Chief Executive Ioan Nani said, but by mid-2016 the U.S. would be its biggest market. The firm is a world leading supplier of nystatin, an active ingredient used to treat infections. It also exports vaccines and drugs used to treat cardiovascular and central nervous system diseases. “We already have four products that we sell there (U.S.) and in addition to two permanent clients buying nystatin, four others are waiting for FDA approval to use our …

    May 27, 2015 1:07 pm


  • Kim Kardashian Channels Marilyn Monroe In Vogue Brasil

    Posted on Wed May 27th, 2015 10:32am PDT       By X17 Staff Kim Kardashian is back to blonde — well at least for a short time, as she graces the cover of the latest Vogue Brasil. The superstar channeled Marilyn Monroe for the mag’s sexy spread. Va-va-voom! The photos were shot in Malibu by German photographer Ellen Von Uwerth and intended to showcase Kim as a “contemporary” version of the late film icon. In the mag, the 34-year-old talks about her superstar status and how people constantly say that she has “no talent.” “Aren’t I lucky? I don’t have to do anything and still can be successful,” Kanye West’s lady love jokes. “I dare someone else to try to do everything I do and then they can tell me if there is a talent behind it or not.” Whether you love her or hate her, we have to admit — Kimmy K has made quite a talent and being untalented! …

    May 27, 2015 1:27 pm


  • 2016 race: Why diversity is good news for GOP, bad news for Democrats

    Got diversity? The 2016 GOP presidential field sure does, and Republicans are eager to show it off. In fact, these days the party is so quick to flaunt its colors that it should change its mascot from the elephant to the peacock.  Not long ago, Conservatives would sneer at the value of diversity. They shrugged off criticism that they needed a more diverse following. They dismissed the idea that women governed differently than men, or that minorities approached racial and cultural issues with more sensitivity than whites. In fact, the GOP has often seemed to go out of its way to antagonize women and minorities. In recent years, Republicans have led crackdowns on immigration, welfare, affirmative action, abortion rights, and race-based scholarships.  Today, it’s a whole new multi-cultural ballgame. The Republican candidates who have entered the race include two Cuban-Americans (Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida), an African-American (Dr. Ben Carson), …

    May 27, 2015 1:26 pm

Odd News

  • Townsend lets cat out of the bag, why hotels are best

    PARIS American player Taylor Townsend, when deciding whether to stay in a cramped Parisian hotel or rent a private apartment during Roland Garros, opted for the former. Past experience helped make up her mind. Recalling last year’s U.S. Open, the 19-year-old described how she was forced to share a toilet with a cat. “You guys are going to laugh at this,” Townsend, beaten 6-3 6-4 by Czech Tereza Smitkova in the first round on Tuesday, told reporters. “Lord have mercy. We were in New York, and the guy walked outside and he greeted us and he had no shoes on. “Then he told us when we were in the elevator ‘I hope you like cats’. We’re like, yeah, cats are fine. He was like ‘but you can’t let down the toilet seat because the cat uses the toilet.’ “After that, I think hotels are safer!” (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Chadband)

    May 27, 2015 12:42 am