Headline News

  • Effort in Los Angeles to set ukulele-playing record falls short

    LOS ANGELES –  What do you get when more than 1,100 ukulele enthusiasts gather and begin playing their instruments? Lots of noise, but not a new world record. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Crowds gathered Saturday in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles in a second annual attempt to set a new mark for the largest ensemble of ukuleles, the Hawaiian instrument that looks like a mini guitar. The ensemble played the same song for five minutes, but the Los Angeles Times reported that 1,102 participants fell short of the official Guinness record of 2,370, set in England. Meanwhile, a recent gathering in Tahiti said it attracted an as-yet-unverified 4,750 participants.

    April 19, 2015 1:33 pm


  • A chance for real health care reform?

    A portion of the HealthCare.gov Website. (AP Photo/HHS) Republican or Democrat, the next president will have the chance to remake the nation’s health care overhaul without fighting Congress. The law signed by President Barack Obama includes a waiver that, starting in 2017, would let states take federal dollars now invested in the overhaul and use them to redesign their own health care systems. States could not repeal some things, such as the requirement that insurance companies cover people with health problems. But they could replace the law’s unpopular mandate that virtually everyone in the country has health insurance, provided the alternative worked reasonably well. A Democrat in the White House probably would use the waiver to build bridges to Republican governors and state legislators opposed to the law. The “state innovation” provision, Section 1332 of the nearly 1,000-page law, has gotten little public attention. But “you would be hard pressed to find a state that …

    April 19, 2015 10:53 am


  • Why Jon Stewart quit ‘The Daily Show:’ Increasing ‘dissatisfaction’

    Jon Stewart hasn’t said much about quitting “The Daily Show” — until now. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Stewart said he’s been enjoying his hosting duties less and less and feeling more pessimistic about the subjects of the show — politics and the news media. “It’s not like I thought the show wasn’t working any more, or that I didn’t know how to do it,” he said. “It was more, ‘Yup, it’s working. But I’m not getting the same satisfaction.’” Stewart added: “These things are cyclical. You have moments of dissatisfaction, and then you come out of it and it’s OK. But the cycles become longer and maybe more entrenched, and that’s when you realize, ‘OK, I’m on the back side of it now.’” When he announced his departure to a stunned audience back in February, Stewart hinted at his fatigue: “This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do …

    April 19, 2015 1:13 pm


  • Kwiatkowski upsets favorites to win Amstel Gold Race

    VALKENBURG, Netherlands (Reuters) – World champion Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland outgunned the favorites to win the Amstel Gold Race, a 258km hilly one-day classic race, on Sunday. The Etixx-Quick Step rider ended up in a select group at the top of the Cauberg, the last of 34 climbs, to contest the win in a reduced sprint. He beat Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), one of the specialists of the Ardennes classics, which continue on Wednesday with La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday in Belgium. Australian Michael Matthews (Orica Green-EDGE), widely tipped to win should the race be decided in a sprint, took third place. “The Amstel was my objective. I managed to keep a bit of energy for the final sprint,” said Kwiatkowski, whose only previous win this season came in the prologue of the Paris-Nice stage race last month. It was sweet revenge for classics specialist team Etixx-Quick Step who failed to win in …

    April 19, 2015 1:33 pm

World News

  • UK monitoring French nuclear issue

    Safety concerns have been raised about the nuclear reactor at Flamanville in Normandy Lessons should be learned from problems with a French reactor that is very similar to one planned in the UK, says Britain’s nuclear safety regulator. French regulators have been informed of “manufacturing anomalies” in components “particularly important for safety” at Flamanville 3 power plant, in Normandy. The reactor is similar to one planned for Hinkley Point, in Somerset. EDF Energy – involved in both projects – said a new series of tests was under way and it was working with regulators. An investigation revealed potential weaknesses in the steel used to make a safety casing around the reactor at Flamanville, near Cherbourg. Areva, which is building Flamanville 3 for EDF, says it is the first plant in the “new French reactor fleet”, and it includes Areva’s new EPR reactor. The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation said it was aware of the French …

    April 19, 2015 1:34 pm


  • BitTorrent: the comic book shop of the future?

    BitTorrent is a much-cited and much-maligned format. Most people associate it with piracy, because, to be completely honest, that is mostly what it is used for. But practically it’s just a way of moving bits around – and it’s particularly useful for moving big bits around, stuff that takes a while to download. This is because BitTorrent works by breaking everything down into lots of chunks and passing them around, so you can download a few chunks at a time, from a network of other BitTorrent users. That’s why it’s so popular for downloading movies: but if you’re a publisher with a lot of bits to move, it makes sense for you too. BitTorrent, Inc, for its part, has been trying to go legit, doing deals with movie studios and the like to make films available legally – and it has started to do the same for big books too. Graphic novels are one of …

    April 19, 2015 10:31 am


  • Alien Supercivilizations Absent from 100,000 Nearby Galaxies

    Astrobiology—the study of extraterrestrial life—has made great strides since its 1960s origins, when the evolutionary biologist George Gaylord Simpson derided it as “a science without a subject.” Today it is booming as never before, driven by perennially high public interest and steadily growing scientific respectability.   In a press conference last week two senior NASA officials—Ellen Stofan, the agency’s chief scientist, and John Grunsfeld, the former astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s science programs—predicted that astrobiologists would at last find their elusive alien subjects within only a decade or two. Not long ago the prediction would have been bold but now it seems almost passé, as more evidence mounts that the warm, wet conditions for life as we know it prevail throughout the cosmos. Surely simple, single-celled life should be common out there, waiting to be found by a rover in subsurface brines on Mars or by a mission sent to probe the oceans of …

    April 19, 2015 10:53 am


  • Drug Shows Early Promise for Advanced Lung Cancer

    SUNDAY, April 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A new drug that boosts the immune system’s cancer-fighting potential is showing early promise for some patients with advanced lung cancer. The drug, marketed as Keytruda, was recently approved in the United States for treating advanced melanoma, but is not yet approved for lung cancer. Still, experts were encouraged by preliminary findings reported Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Philadelphia, and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine. In a study of nearly 500 patients with advanced lung cancer, those with high levels of a particular protein in their tumor cells responded well to the drug, researchers reported. Close to half of these patients saw their tumors shrink, and so far, the effect has typically lasted beyond a year. “The duration of patients’ response is particularly exciting,” said lead researcher Dr. Edward Garon, an associate professor of medicine at …

    April 19, 2015 10:53 am


  • Taylor Swift Rocks T-Swizzle Bling

    Posted on Sun Apr 19th, 2015 11:30am PDT       By X17 Staff It’s a thug life for Taylor Swift! Green heels and bling for a day out in NYC … seriously — do you see that “S” around her neck?! We LOOOVE how Tay accessorizes her preppy look with a gold chain. The snazzy singer dined out at the Spotted Pig in NYC and showed off her thin pins in a matching blazer-shorts combo. Lest you forget, Taylor Swift fans … this girl’s a thug at heart! …   SEE THE GALLERY Taylor Swift Boasts Serious Bling Stories from around the Web

    April 19, 2015 1:53 pm


  • Forget Cuba or health care reform, Obama’s real legacy is Middle East nukes

    April 17, 2015: President Obama reaches to shake hands with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the Oval Office. (AP) President Obama recently sat down for a long, wide-ranging interview with Thomas Friedman, the New York Times’ premier columnist and multiple Pulitzer Prize winner. It was supposed to be an elevated discussion between two intellectuals about the weighty foreign policy issues not just of the day, but of the modern era. Obama kept referring to broad, sweeping words of wisdom – the deal with Iran is a “once in a lifetime” chance. He hinted at a similar deal with Cuba. And he announced, “You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.” ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Sadly, we have seen that the alternative to American leadership isn’t world peace, but rising regional hegemony – or even worse, chaos. China, Russia, Iran and the Islamic State don’t want to play …

    April 18, 2015 6:56 am

Odd News

  • Former Washington state governor ejects man from car

    SEATTLE (Reuters) – Former Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire used fast thinking and driving to stop a stranger from climbing into her car in a store parking lot, Olympia police said on Thursday. Gregoire, who was governor from 2005 to 2013, packed her purchases into the car’s trunk in a Lowe’s home improvement lot, the police said. As she did she saw a man watching her. Police said that once she was inside the car, the man opened the passenger door and started climbing in just as she began backing out of the space. She hit the gas pedal, the man fell to the ground and the door slammed shut, police said. The man, identified as 47-year-old Mark Snodderly, was not injured. Police said he then caused a disturbance in the store, adding that he was cited for disorderly conduct and taken to a hospital for evaluation. (This story has been refiled to fix spelling …

    April 16, 2015 6:22 pm