Headline News

  • Firefighters stop run by Yosemite fire, keep it far from reaching grove of giant sequoias


    The remains of a burned home lie in the Foresta community in Yosemite National Park in California on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Fire crews gained ground Tuesday on two of the largest wildfires in California, lifting evacuation orders for about half the homes in the path of a blaze in Yosemite and redeploying firefighters battling another fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento. (AP Photo/Al Golub)The Associated Press A burned home and pickup truck lie in the Foresta community in Yosemite National Park in California on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Fire crews gained ground Tuesday on two of the largest wildfires in California, lifting evacuation orders for about half the homes in the path of a blaze in Yosemite National Park and redeploying firefighters battling another fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento. (AP Photo/Al Golub)The Associated Press A plane drops fire retardant as firefighters battle a blaze in El Portal, …

    July 31, 2014 1:44 am
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Politics

  • Businessman says helped ex-Virginia governor, wife as part of ‘business relationship’


    RICHMOND Va (Reuters) – The businessman at the heart of a corruption trial involving former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, testified on Wednesday he helped them out with gifts and loans strictly for the benefit of his dietary supplement company. “This was a business relationship,” Jonnie Williams, a key prosecution witness told a packed federal courtroom in Richmond, Virginia. Williams said he took Maureen McDonnell on a $20,000 New York shopping spree, lent the couple large amounts of money, and paid for the wedding reception of one of their daughters in exchange for the couple using their personal and political prestige to advance his company. Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry, Williams, who was granted immunity in return for his testimony, said the governor and his wife fully understood the arrangement they were in. McDonnell, 60, and his wife have pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of corruption and bribery …

    July 31, 2014 12:01 am
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Stocks

  • No deal: Argentina in default as talks fail


      Argentina has defaulted for the second time in 13 years after officials failed to come to an agreement with the country’s bondholders. After frantic last minute talks failed to produce a deal late Wednesday, Standard Poor’s deemed the country to be in selective default. The change in credit rating is likely to hike Argentina’s borrowing costs, and put even more pressure on the country’s already-struggling economy. The crisis stems from a legal battle with a small group of “holdout” creditors that have demanded payment of about $1.5 billion on bonds they bought after the $144 billion default in 2001. That standoff has blocked payments to other creditors. Economy minister Axel Kicillof met the “holdouts” for the first time in New York this week but said Wednesday that they rejected an offer he made. Now, the country may have to devalue its currency to preserve foreign currency reserves, and that could trigger a dangerous rise …

    July 31, 2014 12:42 am
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Sports

  • Gallardo, Brewers cool off Price, Rays


    St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Yovani Gallardo outdueled Tampa Bay ace David Price, as the Milwaukee Brewers salvaged the finale of a three-game series at Tropicana Field with a 5-0 victory over the Rays on Wednesday. Price has been the subject of trade rumors with the non-waiver deadline approaching Thursday afternoon. However, Tampa Bay’s recent surge has quelled much of the speculation with the All-Star lefty still under contract for next season. “I know it’s been hanging over our heads,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon about the trade talk. “Our guys have done a really good job of playing through it.” Tampa Bay lost for just the second time in its last 13 games and fell two games under .500. The Rays haven’t been at the .500 mark since they were 10-10 after a game on April 22. Price (11-8) surrendered four runs — three earned — on seven hits over seven innings on Wednesday …

    July 31, 2014 1:44 am
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World News

  • Israel calls up 16,000 reservists


    31 July 2014 Last updated at 07:37 Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. A deadly strike on a UN-run school in Gaza led to pain, fear and grief, as Ian Pannell reports Israel is calling up 16,000 extra reservists to bolster its military as the conflict in Gaza continues. The deployment brings the total called up by Israel to 86,000. Officials told Israeli media the call-up gave the military “room to breathe”. The move comes as Israel pledged to investigate a strike on a UN-run school that killed at least 16 people. In all, more than 100 people in Gaza were killed on Wednesday, Palestinian officials said. Spokesman Mark Regev told the BBC Israel would apologise if it discovered that its fire was responsible for the strike on the school. “We have a policy – we don’t target civilians,” he said. The US and UN condemned the attack, with UN Secretary General …

    July 31, 2014 1:44 am
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Technology

  • Chinese GMO Research Outpaces Approvals


    Growing future: China is the world’s largest producer of wheat; here a farmer harvests from fields in Jiangsu province. Despite recent research advances, such as a new strain of wheat that resists destructive mildew (see “Chinese Researchers Stop Wheat Disease with Gene Editing”), commercial planting of genetically modified food crops has stalled in China, the world’s most populous nation and one with a fast-tightening food supply. In 2009, the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture issued a so-called safety certificate to two strains of insect-resistant rice, known as Bt rice, pioneered by Qifa Zhang, a scientist at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan. The ministry also approved a type of corn that helps livestock digest phosphates. Prior to that, a few minor crop varieties were approved for commercial planting. But to date only nonfood crops, an insect-resistant cotton and a virus-resistant papaya, have been commercially planted on a large scale in China. The rice approval seemed to have …

    July 31, 2014 12:02 am
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Science

  • Supportive moms and sisters boost female baboon’s rank


    Related images(click to enlarge) A study of dominance in female baboons suggests that the route to a higher rank is to maintain close ties with mom, and to have lots of supportive sisters. A female baboon’s social status is dictated not by size or strength, but by the rank of her mother — the higher the mother is ranked, the higher-ranked her daughter will be. For this reason, dominance rank in female baboons is thought to be determined at birth. Females born to high-ranking mothers are guaranteed a good spot in the pecking order, whereas females born to low-ranking mothers are usually stuck with their lot. “Daughters of high-ranking females generally mature more quickly, produce more offspring, and have better access to food and mates. It’s like being born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” said Duke University biology professor Susan Alberts. But her group’s study in the August 2014 issue of Animal Behaviour …

    July 31, 2014 12:22 am
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Health

  • Liberia shuts schools as Ebola spreads, Peace Corps leaves three countries


    DAKAR (Reuters) – Liberia will close schools and consider quarantining some communities, it said on Wednesday, rolling out the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government to halt the worst outbreak on record of the deadly Ebola virus. “This is a major public health emergency. It’s fierce, deadly and many of our countrymen are dying and we need to act to stop the spread,” Lewis Brown, Liberia’s information minister, told Reuters. “We need the support of the international community now more than ever. We desperately need all the help we can get.” Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the action plan, which includes placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave. Highly infectious Ebola has been blamed for 672 deaths in the West Africa nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths. The first cases of …

    July 31, 2014 12:02 am
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Entertainment

  • Ashley Williams and husband Neal Dodson expecting first child


    The A Most Violent Year actress and her husband, Neal Dodson, are expecting their first child this fall, she confirmed to People magazine. Grey’s Anatomy star Sarah Drew is pregnant “After years of waiting for the perfect moment to have a child, we decided to go with this moment instead. And we couldn’t be more thrilled,” the actress joked to the mag. The lovebirds met in acting class more than a decade ago and were married during a no-frills outdoor ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2011. Adam Levine’s wife Behati Prinsloo has babies on the brain At the time of her wedding, the star revealed to People that she “wanted an intimate, farm-inspired wedding,” which took place at the home of her sister, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and brother-in-law, Brad Paisley. And it’s not just her growing baby bump that the 35-year-old star has to look forward to; she’s also got a new job opposite Jim Gaffigan in …

    July 31, 2014 12:43 am
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Editorial

  • Who will put an end to the Christian killing fields?


    Iraqi Christians pray during Sunday Mass at the Church of Virgin Mary in Baghdad, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) ”Please, the world needs to know: We are captives, we don’t have water or electricity here in Aleppo but it is nothing compared to the fear we have toward the Islamists. Why is no one doing anything to save us?” A young Assyrian Christian woman in Aleppo, Syria, spoke these words to me during a phone call a few days ago. She is stuck in the country with her three small children.  ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT In wake of the ISIS invasion of Iraq, reports (long overdue) are emerging about the persecution of Christians and other minorities in the country. Yet ISIS is committing the same atrocities against non-Muslims in Syria, too. Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has been emptied of almost all Christians. Ten days ago, ISIS – who now call themselves the Islamic State (IS) …

    July 31, 2014 12:02 am
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Odd News

  • Family finds 300-year-old sunken treasure off Florida’s east coast


    ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) – A Florida family scavenging for sunken treasure on a shipwreck has found the missing piece of a 300-year-old gold filigree necklace sacred to Spanish priests, officials said on Tuesday. Eric Schmitt, a professional salvager, was scavenging with his parents when he found the crumpled, square-shaped ornament on a leisure trip to hunt for artifacts in the wreckage of a convoy of 11 ships that sank in 1715 during a hurricane off central Florida’s east coast. After the discovery last month, a team of Spanish historians realized the piece fit together with another artifact recovered 25 years ago. It formed an accessory called a pyx, worn on a chain around a high priest’s neck to carry the communion host. The dollar value is uncertain. “It’s priceless, unique, one of a kind,” said Brent Brisben, operations manager for 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, which owns rights to the wreckage, located in 15-foot (4.5-meter) …

    July 30, 2014 12:06 pm
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