Headline News

  • Miss America defends student suspended for asking her to prom

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Miss America has suggested officials at a Pennsylvania high school reconsider their decision to suspend a student for approaching her at a school assembly and asking her to be his prom date, the beauty queen said on Saturday. The disciplinary action taken by school administrators in York against the 18-year-old senior made national headlines, and generated sympathy for the young man on social media. A video of Central York High School senior Patrick Farves approaching 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri on Thursday at a school assembly was posted on a local newspaper’s website. It shows Farves walking up to Davuluri bearing a plastic flower and ask her to his prom, as the crowd of students erupts in laughter and cheers. “I was flattered by the gesture, although I am unfortunately unable to attend due to my travel schedule,” Davuluri said in a statement posted to the pageant’s Facebook page. “I later …

    April 19, 2014 7:04 pm


  • Social Security to resume benefits statement mailings

    CHICAGO (Reuters) – Paper Social Security benefits statements, which used to be mailed out every year and then fell victim to budget cuts, are going to make a partial comeback. Starting this September, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will resume mailings at five-year intervals to workers who have not signed up to view their statements online, an agency spokesman told Reuters. The statements will be sent to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60, he said, adding the agency would continue to promote use of the online statements. The SSA stopped mailing most paper statements in 2011 in response to budget pressures, and saved the SSA $70 million annually – about 50 cents per mailed statement. But the decision has been a sore point with some critics, who argue the statement provides a valuable annual reminder to workers of what they can expect to get back from payroll taxes in …

    April 19, 2014 6:22 pm


  • China’s spending crackdown hits drinks giants

    Remy Cointreau said the Chinese government’s “anti-extravagance policy” is hurting sales of premium spirits. China’s crackdown on extravagant spending by officials is creating a headache for some of the world’s biggest drinks companies. Diageo (DEO) and Remy Cointreau — the companies behind brands such as Smirnoff vodka and Cointreau liqueur — said Thursday that China sales were down sharply over the first three months of the year. Since taking office a year ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered an end to excessive spending by officials on everything from luxury hotels to lavish funerals, and made tackling corruption a priority. Luxury auto makers, catering firms and pharmaceuticals groups have already felt the pinch, and the push for moderation is now affecting sales of drinks — in particular premium spirits. Related: Five global liquors about to go big Sales of specialty cognac Remy Martin fell by more than 20% in the first three months of 2014. …

    April 19, 2014 12:31 am


  • Raptors drop expletive and game to Nets in playoff opener

    TORONTO (Reuters) – Sparked by a stinging expletive the NBA playoffs got off to an explosive start as the Brooklyn Nets landed the first blow in a suddenly bitter Eastern Conference first round match-up with a 94-87 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Out of the playoffs since 2008, Toronto’s return to the postseason was both eventful and controversial, upping the ante in the best-of-seven series. With A list celebrities, including rappers Drake, Jay-Z and Beyonce, occupying courtside seats, an embarrassing technical malfunction and a jaw-dropping expletive delivered by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to thousands of frenzied supporters at a pre-game pep rally, the first game of the NBA postseason offered a little bit over everything. A super-charged atmosphere greeted players and fans after allegations that the experienced Nets had tanked their final few regular season games to get a preferred match-up with the youthful Raptors rather than face the Chicago Bulls. Despite …

    April 19, 2014 6:02 pm

World News

  • ‘Dozens die’ in S Sudan cattle raid

    19 April 2014 Last updated at 22:37 Cattle raids and revenge attacks have claimed thousands of lives since 2011 Dozens of people have been killed in a cattle raid in South Sudan’s northern Warrap state, local officials say. Around 28 civilians died during the attack on a remote herders’ camp, state information minister Bol Dhel told South Sudanese media. He said police and soldiers then killed more than 80 of the attackers. Cattle raids and inter-ethnic clashes have claimed thousands of lives in South Sudan since independence from Sudan in 2011. They are often part of a deadly cycle of revenge attacks. Cattle are a main source of wealth and pride for many communities. Many civilians are armed, and cattle are vital in part because young men need them as dowries to get married, correspondents say. It is not yet clear whether the Warrap state incident has any links to South Sudan’s civil war. Many …

    April 19, 2014 7:05 pm


  • Big asteroids hit Earth far more than we’re told, say astronauts

    Coming to a city near you? Movieclips/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET Are asteroids a little passé? We’re always told they’re flying around us and over us. It seems a touch more rare that they smash into, say, Manhattan, or Peoria, Ill. Still, we make movies and video games about it, as if it could happen anytime. Now along come three former astronauts to offer: “Hey, this could happen anytime.” As part of a celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22, Ed Lu, Tom Jones, and Bill Anders, all veterans of space travel, are to give a presentation to scare us out of our complacent wits. As Phys.org reports, the B612 Foundation will present data from a nuclear weapons warning network that shows — at least to members of the group — that large asteroids strike the Earth 3 to 10 times more than publicly revealed. A quote released to entice people to the …

    April 19, 2014 6:01 pm


  • Impurity size affects performance of emerging superconductive material

    Related images(click to enlarge) Research from North Carolina State University finds that impurities can hurt performance — or possibly provide benefits — in a key superconductive material that is expected to find use in a host of applications, including future particle colliders. The size of the impurities determines whether they help or hinder the material’s performance. At issue is a superconductive material called bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide (Bi2212). A superconductor is a material that can carry electricity without any loss — none of the energy is dissipated as heat, for example. Superconductive materials are currently used in medical MRI technology, and are expected to play a prominent role in emerging power technologies. “Bi2212 is the only high-temperature superconductor that can be made as a round wire, and is expected to have applications in magnets for use in everything from magnetic resonance imaging technologies to the next generation of super colliders — almost anything that …

    April 19, 2014 6:02 pm


  • Ragwitek Approved for Adult Ragweed Allergy

    FRIDAY, April 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Ragwitek has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat allergy to short ragweed among adults aged 18 to 65. The once-daily tablet contains an extract from short ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) pollen, the agency said in a news release. Treatment should begin 12 weeks before the start of ragweed season — which in the United States includes late summer and early fall — and continue through the season. The product is placed under the tongue, where it rapidly dissolves. The first dose should be given by a doctor, who can monitor the user for any adverse reaction, the FDA said. Subsequent doses can be taken at home. Ragwitek’s safety and effectiveness were evaluated in clinical studies involving some 1,700 adults. The most common side effects included throat irritation and itching of the mouth and ears. The product’s label will include a boxed warning that it …

    April 19, 2014 6:22 pm

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  • Gwen Stefani Joins The Voice As A Judge

    Gwen Stefani will replace Christina Aguilera on The Voice this coming season! According to a source for Us Weekly, Stefani’s “contract is now done” for the upcoming eighth season, which begins filming in June. Producers started looking for a replacement for Aguilera as soon as the news broke in February that she was pregnant, but it was her choice — not theirs! Apparently NBC wanted Xtina to stay on the show, but she ultimately decided that it was going to be too much for her. Gwen gave birth to her third son, Apollo in February, and after giving a surprise performance at Coachella last weekend, it looks like she’s ready to rock and roll again! Last month NBC confirmed that Pharrell Williams will be a judge for the upcoming season, and while we’re pretty sure Adam Levine will be back, there’s still at least one more open seat. Wonder who’s gonna snag that?

    April 19, 2014 6:43 pm


  • Will EPA water grab tip US back into recession?

    AP Quietly last month — in the midst of Ukraine, the search for flight MH 370, David Letterman’s retirement and the final hours of March Madness — Washington witnessed a ruling that will affect all of our lives:  the redefinition of water under the Clean Water Act. The redefinition – formally a Proposed Rule issued by the EPA — is momentous not because water is the essence of life (according to Google, it is), but because of the profound consequences for America’s economic growth, or lack thereof, as a result of the new rule. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT As is so often the case with government powers, large matters turn on small shadings of meaning in phrases written decades ago by legislators long since gone.  Consider the bureaucratic meaning of the term “waters of the United States,” which is the rubric under which the U.S. federal government establishes jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  For more than …

    April 19, 2014 2:12 am

Odd News

  • Fly me to Sochi, demands Cathay passenger armed with chocolate bar, court hears

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – A passenger on board a Hong Kong-bound Cathay Pacific flight, armed only with a Toblerone chocolate bar, demanded the plane fly to Sochi so he could watch the Winter Olympics, a court heard. Antti Oskari Manselius, 23, from Finland, also made a false bomb threat on the February 14 flight from Amsterdam and said he was robbing the plane, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday. Manselius pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct and giving false information about a bomb when he appeared in court on Thursday, the Post said. He said he was trying to entertain the other passengers and was making “fun and jokes”. Two flight attendants told the court that they saw Manselius walking towards the cockpit. He had two economy-class blankets wrapped around his head and was wearing another like a cape. He held the Toblerone chocolate bar “like a sword”, the newspaper said, quoting one …

    April 18, 2014 9:42 am