Headline News

  • California agency approves $100M expansion of SeaWorld orca tanks

    FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2006, file photo, a young girl watches through the glass as a killer whale passes by while swimming in a display tank at SeaWorld, in San Diego. (AP) LONG BEACH, Calif. –  The California Coastal Commission on Thursday approved a $100 million expansion of the tanks SeaWorld uses to hold killer whales in San Diego — but it banned breeding of the captive orcas that would live in them. Animal rights activists praised the decision as a death blow to the use of killer whales at the California ocean park. The no-breeding vote “ensures that no more orcas will be condemned to a nonlife of loneliness, deprivation and misery,” said a statement from People from the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “These 11 orcas would be the last 11 orcas there,” PETA lawyer Jared Goodman said after the meeting. The last-minute amendment would ban breeding of captive orcas, including through artificial …

    October 9, 2015 4:47 am


  • Obama points to Puerto Rico’s plight in speech to Latino leaders

    WASHINGTON President Barack Obama gave a rare mention to the struggling U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in a speech on Thursday to a gala dinner held by Latino leaders in Washington. “We’ve got to keep creating good jobs. We’ve got to make sure every family feels our economy’s recovery in their own lives, and that includes the families in Puerto Rico,” Obama said. Puerto Rico, with $72 billion debt and in recession for nearly a decade, is trying to renegotiate its debt. It defaulted in August by paying only a fraction of what was due on some bonds. The Obama administration has said it will not bail out the territory, and has urged the U.S. Congress to find ways to help. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

    October 9, 2015 2:26 am


  • Lyft battles Uber for drivers with new perks

    Lyft drivers at the ride-hailing company’s headquarters on Thursday, October 8. Lyft and Uber aren’t just competing for passengers. The ride-hailing companies are also in a fierce battle for drivers. On Thursday, Lyft announced a number of new programs intended to woo drivers, including discounted rental cars and gas, and a way to get paid anytime. The latest indication of the war? Thirty minutes after Lyft emailed drivers inviting them to the press event in San Francisco, Uber also emailed its local drivers with an invite for the exact same time. It asked them to bring a friend to an Uber office to sign up as a driver in exchange for $300 and lunch. Many drivers work for both Lyft and Uber. Lyft offers perks like optional tips, which it says have topped $40 million this year. Uber has its own bonuses, including gas rebates and offering new drivers $500 for 25 rides. Both companies …

    October 9, 2015 4:47 am


  • Lionel Messi to stand trial in Spain on multiple counts of tax fraud

    Lionel Messi will stand trial in Spain on three counts of tax fraud and could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty. A Spanish judge on Thursday rejected a request to clear the Barcelona player of wrongdoing and decided to charge him and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, with tax fraud. Prosecutors had said Messi — a four-time world player of the year — was not fully aware of his father’s unlawful activities and should not have been charged, but the state attorney’s office contended that the Argentina forward knew enough to also be named in the case. The attorney’s office called for a prison sentence of 22 months and 15 days for Messi and his father, along with a fine in the amount defrauded, payment of all legal proceedings and the loss of any possible tax benefits for a year and a half. Prosecutors had called for an 18-month prison …

    October 9, 2015 4:47 am

World News

  • Nobel Peace Prize for Tunisia mediators

    Image copyright AFP Image caption The quartet was made up of mediators from four Tunisian organisations The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in helping the country’s transition to democracy. Announcing the prize, the chairman of the Nobel committee said the group had made a “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy” after the 2011 revolution. They were among some 273 contenders for the prestigious prize. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis were among those tipped. The Tunisian quartet was made up of four organisations: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. It was created in 2013 “when the democratisation process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political and assassinations and widespread social unrest,” said committee chairman Kaci Kullmann Five. “It established an alternative, …

    October 9, 2015 4:47 am


  • Tried and tested: the best fireworks packs

    Single-ignition barrages, or “cakes” as the pros call them, are increasingly a favoured option for amateur firework displays. Consisting of zig-zagging rows of explosives that ignite consecutively, they fire an unpredictable collection of bangs, candles and stars into the sky, compounding their excitement with the element of surprise. Darryl Fleming of Titanium Fireworks. Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer Darryl Fleming, the director and co-founder of Titanium Fireworks, doesn’t generally deal in such simple tomfoolery, having worked as a pyrotechnician at London 2012, the Commonwealth Games and the last three New Year displays in London and Edinburgh. Nevertheless, the basic requirements are similar, he insists, while revealing a professional vocabulary as colourful as his creations: “A good firework display needs structure and variety to keep people interested, whether it be crackles, screeches, hummers, tourbillon spinning effects, bombettes, comets or mines.” Titanium’s gigantic “pyromusical” displays rely on computer-controlled ignition systems, timed to within a hundredth of …

    October 9, 2015 2:46 am


  • Spay, neuter, or shot? How an injection could be the future of animal control

    A single shot into the muscle is enough to stop egg and sperm production in mice, report California Institute of Technology scientists on October 5 in Current Biology. The injection delivers packaged DNA into muscle cells, causing them to produce neutralizing antibodies against male and female reproductive hormones. All mice that received the shot were unable to sire offspring after about two months, with no side effects. The researchers see this proof-of-concept study as the first step for developing a cheap alternative to spaying or neutering feral animals. “The field of immunocontraception has been around for many, many decades but has always run up against the variability in the immune response,” says senior study author Bruce Hay of Caltech. “In recent years, a number of labs have shown that you can express high levels of antibodies in small and larger animals to prevent disease. We thought: why not try it to manipulate physiology as well?” …

    October 9, 2015 5:27 am


  • J&J starts clinical trial of Ebola vaccine in Sierra Leone

    Johnson Johnson said it has begun a safety and immunogenicity clinical trial of a preventive Ebola vaccine regimen in Sierra Leone. Trial recruitment is underway and the first volunteers have received their initial vaccine dose, the company said in a statement. This is the first study conducted of Janssen’s Ebola prime-boost vaccine regimen in a West African country affected by the recent Ebola epidemic, JJ said. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

    October 9, 2015 2:05 am


  • Selena Gomez Says She Underwent Chemotherapy To Treat Lupus In 2013

    Posted on Thu Oct 8th, 2015 8:59am PDT       By X17 Staff Selena Gomez is breaking her silence on being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus, revealing that during her tour break in 2013, she underwent chemotherapy treatment to alleviate the symptoms of lupus — and didn’t go to rehab, as was reported at the time. In a new interview with Billboard, the “Come and Get It” singer said, “That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke.” Gomez cancelled the Australian and Asian leg of her tour in December 2013 — and the move ignited Internet rumors that the young starlet was struggling with addiction. But in fact she was dealing with the poorly understood condition of Lupus which affects the immune system, which fails to detect the difference between healthy tissue and germs and viruses which enter the system from the outside. The 23-year-old told Billboard, “I wanted so badly to say, …

    October 8, 2015 9:05 pm


  • Hillary Clinton and your right to self-defense

    While the FBI continued to analyze the emails Hillary Clinton thought she deleted and her advisers pressed her to hire a Republican criminal defense attorney in Washington, a madman used a lawfully purchased handgun to kill a professor and eight students at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon. Looking to change the subject away from her emails, Clinton was quick to pounce. She who has ripped into Republicans for seeking political gain from the four American deaths in Benghazi, Libya, now seeks her own political gain from the dozens of murdered children and young adults in Newtown, Connecticut, and Roseburg. On the heels of the latter and referring to both tragedies, she launched an emotional attack early this week on the two most recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the personal right to keep and bear arms. She offered to “fix” them should she be elected president. Her so-called fix consists of a dead-on-arrival legislative proposal …

    October 9, 2015 4:46 am

Odd News

  • Police rescue Kentucky store owner from large python

    The owner of a Kentucky reptile store had to be rescued by police after a 20-foot-long (6-meter) python weighing up to 125 pounds (57 kg) wrapped around him, authorities said. Terry Wilkins was tangled up with the snake when two police officers arrived at the Captive Born Reptiles store in Newport, Kentucky, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, at around noon on Monday. “When officers arrived on the scene, they located the victim who was total(ly) unconscious with a large snake wrapped around his head and neck,” according to a Newport police report. The officers grabbed the snake by the head and unwrapped it from Wilkins, who was not breathing, the report said. He began to breathe as rescue squad workers arrived, it said. Wilkins was treated at a Cincinnati hospital with nearly two dozen stitches to his arm where the snake bit him and went home later on Monday, according to a colleague, who declined …

    October 6, 2015 5:29 pm