Headline News

  • Judge sides with DOJ, blocks $37B Aetna-Humana merger

    Jan. 23 (UPI) — A federal judge on Monday decided that a megamerger between insurance giants Aetna and Humana would likely cause more harm than good — at least from the patient’s perspective. The proposed merger, announced 18 months ago, would have combined two of the United States’ largest insurers. Aetna announced it would acquire Humana in July 2015 for about $37 billion in cash and stock. The plan, though, has languished for months while seeking federal approval. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the merger last year, believing it would stifle competitors. The trial began earlier this month. RECOMMENDEDPossible GOP replacement plan would let states keep ACA coverage Government attorneys argued that such a merger would probably harm seniors who buy private Medicare insurance and some Americans who buy their coverage through Affordable Care Act exchanges. “In this case, the government alleged that the merger of Aetna and Humana would …

    January 23, 2017 6:24 pm


  • Democratic state officials rush to defend U.S. consumer agency

    WASHINGTON Democratic state officials took a step on Monday to try to defend the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a court battle that could defang it, worried that Republican President Donald Trump’s administration will not safeguard the agency. Attorneys general from 16 states plus the District of Columbia filed papers with a federal appeals court seeking to intervene in the case. That court last October ruled that the structure of the agency charged with guarding consumer finances was unconstitutional. The state officials said in the court filing that they are concerned that the Trump administration will fire the independent director of the agency, Richard Cordray, who was appointed by Democratic former President Barack Obama. The agency was set up during Obama’s presidency as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. The court filing noted that Trump “has expressed strong opposition to the Dodd-Frank reforms.” As such, “it is urgent that the state …

    January 23, 2017 1:22 pm


  • Can Costco Be Threatened By Amazon’s New Prime Visa Card?

    Costco’s ( COST ) membership based warehouse model has been going strong despite e-commerce companies offering several conveniences for grocery shopping. Its loyal customers still prefer to visit its warehouse-like stores with their shopping lists and buy groceries and other home supplies in bulk. Costco has been slow in its e-commerce initiatives but the company does not seem to be overly concerned about this. Costco prefers its customers to visit its warehouses, since they are likely to spend more in a physical visit than online. However, Amazon now appears to be taking Costco head on by launching a new credit card which gives its Prime customers an additional 5% discount on all purchases on its platform. This is a Visa card that can be used by customers everywhere and earn discounts in both restaurants and gas stations as well. Amazon has more than 60 million Prime members and it is luring them through these discounts to shop more …

    January 23, 2017 11:28 am


  • FIFA takes the 2018 World Cup draw to Russia’s Kremlin

    ZURICH (AP) — The 2018 World Cup draw will be staged on Dec. 1 at a Kremlin concert hall in Moscow. The draw will take place at the 6,000-capacity State Kremlin Palace, a grand structure built inside the Kremlin walls in the Soviet era to hold Communist Party conferences. Nowadays, the venue usually plays host to veteran Russian pop stars, ballerinas and awards shows. In what is billed by Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko as “a serious event” during a government meeting on Monday, the draw at State Kremlin Palace is expected to attract the coaches of the 32 teams which qualify. Those teams will then be sorted into eight groups for the World Cup. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been allowing FIFA to use high-profile venues for World Cup ceremonies. In July 2015, the qualifying program draw was made on the grounds of one of Putin’s official residences, Konstantin Palace near St. Petersburg. The …

    January 23, 2017 1:22 pm

World News

  • Drug cartel kills 12 in Mexican resort city

    Jan. 23 (UPI) — The Attorney General’s Office of Mexico’s Colima state said the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel killed at least a dozen people, some by decapitation, in the Manzanillo resort city. Seven decapitated corpses were found inside a taxi along a highway near a tollbooth in the outskirts of Manzanillo early Saturday, including the taxi driver, SDP Noticias reported. On Sunday, five bodies showing signs of torture were found with two green posters with a message signed by the Jalisco New Generation, Diario de Colima reported. Jalisco New Generation is considered one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico. Excelsior in 2015 reported the gang made an alliance with drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel to help him escape from prison. Jalisco New Generation, which traffics along the Pacific Coast on a large scale, was named responsible in the shooting down of a Mexican military helicopter in 2015, killing at …

    January 23, 2017 5:23 pm


  • China cracks down on VPNs, making it harder to circumvent Great Firewall

    China has begun a crackdown on the use of virtual private networks, or VPNs, making it harder for internet users to circumvent the Great Firewall. The nation’s ministry of industry and information technology announced a 14-month “cleanup” of internet access services, including making it illegal to operate a local VPN service without government approval. VPN services use encryption to disguise internet traffic so that web surfers in China can access websites that are usually restricted or censored by the Great Firewall. The Great Firewall is a vast internet surveillance and content-control system that prevents people in China from accessing certain websites and pages. It blocks content that’s critical of the Chinese government or that covers controversial political events, such as the Tiananmen Square protest or spiritual movements such as Falun Gong. Some 171 out of the world’s 1,000 top websites are blocked, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, according to censorship monitor Greatfire.org. In order to …

    January 23, 2017 5:03 pm


  • Signs of Alien Air Herald a New Era of Exoplanet Discoveries

    For astronomers seeking Earth twins around other stars, the exoplanet GJ 1132 b probably isn’t an identical sibling—but it may be the closest cousin yet found. It weighs in at just over one Earth mass, but circles its star in a warm orbit that could make it more like Venus than our own world. Moreover, its diameter is nearly 50 percent larger than that of Earth, suggesting it possesses a thick atmosphere. Now, after taking the closest-ever look at GJ 1132 b, a European collaboration has confirmed the presence of its atmosphere and found hints it might contain water and methane. The results are currently under review for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. As mere discoveries of exoplanets become routine, efforts to learn more about them—their compositions, climates and histories—are moving to the fore, with studies of their atmospheres occupying center stage. Although astronomers detected the first exoplanet atmosphere more than 15 years ago, they …

    January 23, 2017 12:28 pm


  • Tattoo artists may miss chance to help with skin cancer detection

    (Reuters Health) – Many tattoo artists may ink skin with moles or blemishes even though this can make cancer harder to detect, a recent study suggests. Just 43 percent of tattoo artists surveyed for the study said they had received training on how to handle skin with moles, spots or other skin lesions. About 55 percent of the tattoo artists said they had declined to ink skin with any of these visible abnormalities, but they were more apt to refuse for aesthetic reasons than out of concern for skin cancer, the study found. “The tattoo artists’ approach may vary with how large or raised the mole is, but we know that skin cancer can occur even in relatively small and flat lesions, which should not be inked over,” said lead study author Westley Mori, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. At least one in five U.S. adults have one or more tattoos, …

    January 23, 2017 4:23 pm


  • Stephen Colbert to host the 69th Emmy Awards ceremony

    Jan. 23 (UPI) — The Late Show star Stephen Colbert is to host the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, CBS and The Television Academy announced Monday. The gala honoring excellence in television is to air live on the network on Sept. 17. “We’re excited to kick off the new season and celebrate the top achievements in television with Stephen Colbert as host of the Primetime Emmys,” Jack Sussman, executive vice president of specials, music and live events for CBS Entertainment, said in a statement. “Stephen is the ultimate master of ceremonies with award-winning creative talents, and as we’ve seen the past few months, he has a fearless passion for live television. We look forward to honoring television’s best while entertaining audiences with the creative energy and sharp comedy of Stephen Colbert.” “We are thrilled that Stephen Colbert will be bringing his Emmy-winning comedic talent to hosting this year’s Emmy Awards,” Television Academy Chairman and …

    January 23, 2017 6:03 pm


  • Heather Mac Donald: Who really has the ‘darker’ vision of America — the Left or Donald Trump?

    Editor’s note: The following column originally appeared in the National Review Online. What is a better word for the more than 6,000 black men shot dead on the streets in 2015? The media have been clucking their disapproval at the “darkness” of Donald Trump’s inaugural speech. “Uniquely dark vision of the U.S.,” read a New York Times headline on Saturday. The Washington Post reported that “Trump delivered a dark inaugural address” — adding, somewhat contradictorily — “in which he pledged fealty to all Americans.” A New York Times op-ed by a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton decried Trump’s “dark, counterfactual picture of ‘American carnage’: an economy in decline, communities under siege by ‘the crime and the gangs and the drugs.’” A New York Times editorial, “President Trump’s Dystopian America,” scoffed at how President Trump “waxed apocalyptic in imagining the prevalence of crime in the nation’s cities. ‘This American carnage stops right here and stops …

    January 23, 2017 5:03 pm

Odd News

  • Elk walks into Colorado store, hangs out for nearly an hour

    Jan. 23 (UPI) — An elk wandered into a Colorado store and stood calmly with the owner for several minutes before being lured out by police bearing apples. Prateek Shakya, owner of the Water Wheel Gift Corner store in Estes Park, said he was filling his water bottle Saturday when he spotted the elk hanging out near the front door to the store, Shakya said he watched as the elk, which was being pursued by police, walked through the door and stood just inside the store. “He was calm and gentle, but I was nervous,” Shakya told KUSA-TV. Shakya, who posted video of the elk’s visit to YouTube, said the elk left after about 45 minutes, but he soon walked right back in through the same door. A video posted to Facebook by witness Patti Koger shows the elk being finally lured out of the store for good by police offering apples. Shakya said there …

    January 23, 2017 1:02 pm