Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kia May Have Just Found a Way to Make Minivans Cool Again

Kia May Have Just Found a Way to Make Minivans Cool Again

Kia May Have Just Found a Way to Make Minivans Cool Again

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 11:13 AM PDT

Minivans have been in a long, slow decline for years. Now, Kia thinks it may have a solution for the terminally unhip segment.

The Korean automaker is teasing a new version of its minivan, the Sedona, ahead of this month’s New York Auto Show. Though Kia has grown dramatically in the U.S. over the past decade, its minivan offering never really became a big hit with consumers. Kia’s current family focused vehicle was introduced 2006, withdrawn from American dealerships at the end of 2012, then reintroduced again a year ago. The teaser shows a more contemporary design, including the brand’s signature tabbed grille.

Minivans once helped make Chrysler the most profitable automaker, but the fad didn’t last. Sales that once regularly commanded 8% of the market up to the year 2000 have been sliding for over a decade to about 4% in 2013. Truth is, the vehicle type has always been regarded as purchase of necessity, not aspiration. Kia hasn’t revealed much more about its “all-new midsize multi-purpose vehicle” besides the teaser photo, saying only that it “will challenge the segment and will offer the functionality to transport as many as eight passengers and their belongings while also serving as a purposeful offering for adventure seekers.”


Father Banned From Naming His Son ‘WikiLeaks’

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 11:06 AM PDT

A new father in Germany hoped to honor Julian Assange’s whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks by naming their baby… WikiLeaks. Not Julian. But WikiLeaks.

But Hajar Hamalaw, an Iraqi journalist now living in Bavaria, said that an official at his local registry office rejected the name, citing concerns about the baby’s welfare, NBC News reports.

Hamalaw said the name had “big meaning” for him and is “a synonym with transparent truth.” The official who rejected the name, however, didn’t initially know what it meant, he said.

“She thought I was presenting the name of a television show,” Hamalaw told NBC News. “We were very disappointed after the rejection. Hundreds of people across the globe were allowed to use the name of Barack Obama’s dog for their child, but I can’t use WikiLeaks?”

Eventually, Hamalaw and his wife settled on the name Dako for the baby’s birth certificate, but they totally plan on having his friends and family continue to call him WikiLeaks.


A Geyser Moon With a Hidden Ocean

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 11:01 AM PDT

When the Cassini spacecraft got its first closeup look at Saturn's moon Enceladus after the probe’s arrival in 2004, it was rewarded with a jaw-dropping sight: gigantic geysers of ice particles and water vapor spewing hundreds of miles into space from the icy world's southern hemisphere. These plumes are so prolific that they continuously resurface Enceladus' sparkling white surface with a fresh coating of ice crystals—and still have enough left over to be the main source of ice particles that make up Saturn's E-ring.

It hasn't been entirely clear where the geysers come from, however. Circumstantial evidence points to a subsurface ocean—the ice, as Cassini found by flying through the plumes, is laced with salts, suggesting a body of water in constant contact with a rocky bottom. It's not crazy to imagine such an ocean, either: the constant flexing Enceladus feels from tidal forces caused by Saturn’s gravity would keep the moon's core warm, melting what would otherwise be a solid coating of ice from below. That's just what scientists see on Jupiter's moon Europa—which appears to have its own, albeit less prominent, plumes of water vapor.

But a new paper in Science has turned "not crazy" to "almost certainly true." By measuring subtle distortions in Enceladus' gravitational pull as Cassini whips past different regions of the moon, planetary scientists have found a slight excess of gravity in the moon's southern hemisphere—and a large underground body of water is exactly what would produce that kind of measurement. "It wasn't a surprise to find a water reservoir," said lead author Luciano Iess, of the Sapienza Universita di Roma, in Italy, at a press conference. But its size and extent, he said, were unknown.

Not any more: Cassini's readings show that Enceladus' buried sea, which lies some 30 miles (48 km) beneath the surface of the 500-mile-diamater (804 km) moon, is at least several miles deep. "It's deepest near the south pole," said co-author David Stevenson, a planetary scientists at Caltech, "and it appears to extend at least halfway to the equator in all directions." It might even span the entire moon, said Iess. "Our data neither exclude nor confirm a global ocean, or whether there are other water pockets." But at the very least, said Stevenson, "It contains as much or more water than Lake Superior."

That's a big deal, and not just because the idea of liquid water so far from the Sun's warming rays would have been considered absurd a few decades ago. Scientists who speculate about life beyond Earth have long been convinced that water is a basic requirement for biology—and along with Jupiter's moons Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, and Saturn's Titan, this makes five places in the Solar System's frigid regions where life could plausibly exist.

Water alone isn't enough, of course: life as we know it is built out of complex carbon-based molecules, and without those you're out of luck. But the same flybys that detected salts in Enceladus' plumes also found traces of methane and carbon dioxide. These molecules are too simple to qualify as evidence for life by themselves, but, said Cornell's Jonathan Lunine, who wasn't involved with the research, "taken all together, the water, salts and organic molecules make the interior of Enceladus a very attractive potential place for life."

In fact, says planetary scientist Kevin Hand, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the discovery of life here, should it ever happen, might be an even bigger deal than finding life on Mars. The reason: Mars and Earth are close enough together that asteroid impacts have blasted rocks from one planet to the other many times in the history of the Solar System. If life arose on Earth, it could have hitched a ride over to Mars inside a meteorite and infected our sister world—and it could have happened in the opposite direction as well.

That being the case, if we should find DNA-based life on Mars, it wouldn't necessarily be clear that life arose independently. "For me," says Hand, "finding a second origin of life is absolutely crucial. When we find a second origin in our solar system, then we can then think about exoplanets and say, 'Okay, we know that if the conditions are right, life is likely to get started, and then it's off to the races.'"

In order to find out for sure, we need to take a harder, closer look at these icy moons than any NASA probe has done to date. For his part, Hand has been involved in a potential mission called the Europa Clipper, while the European Space Agency is planning the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, currently slated for a 2022 launch.

Nobody's planning a return to the Saturn system yet, but given the new, firm evidence of an ocean on Enceladus, it might be time to think about doing so. "Enceladus is a gem of the Saturnian system," says Hand, "with many untold secrets that can only be answered by a new mission."

The real trick, of course, will be getting Congress to pay for it.

Novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 87, Hospitalized

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 11:00 AM PDT

(MEXICO CITY) — Federal health officials say Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been hospitalized in Mexico City.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. They declined to specify the cause of his illness.

The 87-year-old Nobel laureate is by some accounts the Spanish language’s most popular writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century. The extraordinary literary celebrity he attained in life drew comparisons with Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. He has lived in Mexico City for more than 30 years.

Biggest Loser Winner Rachel Frederickson Finally Finds Her Perfect Weight

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Fans gasped when they saw Rachel Frederickson’s new body on the finale of The Biggest Loser in February: the winner of the reality competition show had dropped 60 percent of her body weight and looked disturbingly thin to some viewers. Many of them took to social media to complain that the show had pushed Frederickson too far. The star even admitted afterwards that she may have gotten “a little too enthusiastic” in her training.

But now almost two months after the show’s finale, the 24-year-old voice actress had gained 20 pounds. She told Us Weekly that she’s thrilled with her now bod: “I think I’m at my perfect weight!”

When 5’4″ Frederickson completed the show on Feb. 4, her weight was at 105, and her BMI was 18.0—below what is considered “healthy” by doctors. According to the World Health Organization, anyone under an 18.5 BMI is underweight, and fashion industries in Israel, Madrid and Milan have banned models under that BMI.

Frederickson looked stick thin on the show, and even The Biggest Loser trainers looked stunned by Frederickson’s fragile frame. She told People that she worked out for six hours every day and was eating a 1,600 calories-per-day diet before the finale.

But nowadays she’s looking healthier. Frederickson, who began the show at 260 pounds, now weighs 125 pounds, putting her BMI at 21.5. A healthy BMI spans from 18.5 to 24.99, according to the World Health Organization.

She says that she’s been keeping in shape since the show ended. “”I work out an hour, six days a week. I love classes like SoulCycle,” she said. “I also loosely count calories, but sometimes I might eat an Oreo. It’s not the end of the world.”

[Us Weekly]

Wu-Tang Clan Says It’s Already Received $5 Million Offer for Secret Album

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 10:51 AM PDT

Legendary hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan has an ambitious plan to promote its upcoming album by releasing just one copy to the world. Now the group's frontman, the RZA, says the strategy is already paying off.

RZA, born Robert Diggs, told Billboard that the Clan has already received offers of up to $5 million for its upcoming album The Wu — Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The 31-track LP was recorded in secret over the last six years and will only be made available to a single buyer. Before being sold, the album will be demonstrated at museums and galleries in a kind of touring art exhibit that the group hopes will “provoke questions about the value and perception of music as a work of art in today's world,” according to an official website for the album. RZA did not specify who the current interested parties are, but they could include record labels who want to distribute the album widely, wealthy magnates who want to donate the album to a museum for the public good, or really, really big Wu-Tang Clan fans.

The Wu-Tang album is the latest in a string of increasingly elaborate promotional stunts that artists are using to get people to pay attention to their music. Beyonce released a surprise album in December that crashed the iTunes Store, and her husband Jay-Z distributed his latest work via smartphone last summer. RZA cites both endeavors as inspiration for the Wu-Tang’s strategy.

Study: Women Do Not Apply To ‘Male-Sounding’ Jobs

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 10:50 AM PDT

Women are less likely to apply for a job that “sounds” like it’s meant for a man, according to a new study.

For example, if a job posting uses words like “determined” and “assertive,” women are less likely to apply since the descriptors are associated with male stereotypes.

Researchers from the Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen (TUM) showed 260 participants employment ads for management positions. If the ads used words commonly associated with men, like "assertive", "independent", "aggressive" and "analytical," the women said they didn’t find the job appealing, and were less likely to apply. Conversely, if the job used words like "dedicated", "responsible", "conscientious" and "sociable" they were much more likely to think the job was a good fit.

Wording on the advertisements made no difference to men.

The researchers say that it may be true that companies with few women in management roles suffer from a lack of applicants, as many claim. But language used in job advertisements may be turning women off, even if they are qualified. “In most cases, it doesn't make sense to simply leave out all of the male-sounding phrases,” study author Claudia Peus said in a statement. “But without a profile featuring at least balanced wording, organizations are robbing themselves of the chance of attracting good female applicants. And that's because the stereotypes endure almost unchanged in spite of all of the societal transformation we have experienced."

Ideally, wording shouldn’t impact whether a woman applies for a job, but the researchers showed that stereotypes persist, and play out in the application process. The researchers surveyed about 600 male and female Americans, and found that the majority considered men and women to be equally competent. But, men were rated higher for leadership skills–and even more disturbing–women rated themselves and other women lower overall in leadership abilities.

The research, which was funded by Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research and by the European Social Fund of the European Union, is currently being presented in Munich.

So Far, Online Gambling Revenues Have Been Pathetic

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 10:49 AM PDT

State budget makers and gaming interests have drastically, laughably overestimated the amount of money that would be generated with the advent of legalized online gambling, especially in New Jersey.

In March 2013, New Jersey officials forecast that online gambling would yield somewhere in the neighborhood of $180 million in tax revenues for the state during the first fiscal year Internet gaming was legal. But the estimates have been falling ever since—to $160 million when Christ Christie signed the state budget last summer, and down to just $34 million earlier this year, after a few months of legalized online gambling had passed. More recently, the state treasurer said that no more estimates on online gambling revenues would be made public, which seems wise considering how previous predictions have fared.

From the end of November, when legalized online gambling in New Jersey, through February 2014, a mere $4.2 million in tax revenues has been collected by the state, leading one legislative budget officer to now project an estimate of $12 million in revenues for the year, the Associated Press reported. The revised estimate for next year's revenues was listed at $48 million. At that pace, it would take four or five years for the state to take in revenues equal to the amount it was supposed to collect in tax revenues during the first year of legal online gambling.

It's not just state officials who seem mystified by the lackluster returns. Caesars Entertainment recently informed the New Jersey Star-Ledger that its online gaming operation was experiencing decent success in a few parts of the state—Jersey City, Toms River, Cherry Hill—but that it couldn't explain why interest was strong in some areas and almost nonexistent in others.

New Jersey isn't the only state that seems to have drastically overestimated online gambling's potential as a budgetary savior. When Delaware's gambling sites launched, there were often only a couple dozen players online at any moment, and almost immediately it became apparent that revenues wouldn't come anywhere near to the first-year estimates. Toward the end of March, Morgan Stanley issued a note regarding longer term prospects for online gambling in the U.S. "We are lowering our estimates to better reflect the insights we have gained following the first few months of operations in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware," the note stated, lowering the anticipated gross online gambling spending for 2017 from $5 billion to $3.5 billion, and for 2020 from $9.3 billion to $8 billion.

Toward the end of 2011, mind you, Morgan Stanley was estimating an online gambling market of $14 billion annually, though that was based on broader legalization.

Casino companies give plenty of reasons why online gambling hasn't taken off in New Jersey and other states, including the continued existence of unregulated (illegal) gambling site competitors, the fact that some banks aren't allowing their credit cards to be used for placing bets online, and basic lack of awareness among consumers. Surely, some if not all of the factors holding online gambling back can be addressed in time.

That's assuming legalized online gambling will be around for a while. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., who obviously has no problem with people gambling in person because he runs casinos, has been waging a war against online gambling for months, at one point penning an op-ed calling Internet gaming "a societal train wreck waiting to happen." With the backing of Adelson, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently sponsored a bill that would effectively outlaw online gambling throughout the country.

A group supported by Adelson, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has released a series of online ads warning about the risks posed to children and their families in a world where gambling is available on screens 24/7, and it's not always possible to tell who is using an online account. As the National Journal pointed out, one of the ads shows how a kid with a smartphone can be playing Angry Birds one minute, then be addicted to blackjack the next:

“I was playing Angry Birds and then, you know, I just found it,” the teen narrates, as images of online blackjack and poker tables flash on screen. “It’s a lot cooler knowing that I’m playing a real game, not just, like, Candy Crush or Fruit Ninja.”

Boston Bombing Report Praises First Responders But Details Police Errors

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 10:34 AM PDT

A report on the law enforcement response to the Boston Marathon bombings almost one year ago has detailed dangerous confusion and lack of coordination among police during the dramatic post-bombing manhunt.

The Harvard Kennedy School report details near-fatal mistakes in the chase of brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, days after pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and injured 264 at the finish line on April 15.

In a chaotic shootout after the suspects gunned down a university police officer, police surrounding the brothers were in each other's line of fire, the report found, in one of several instances where officers put themselves at risk of friendly fire.

During that shootout, in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed while his younger brother evaded the police, officers bringing a wounded colleague to the hospital had to drive several blocks out of the way to avoid a tangle of parked police cars from various law enforcement agencies.

In another incident, when officers converged on the area where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was reported to be hiding in a small dry-docked boat where he was later captured, members of different local SWAT teams deployed to the same nearby rooftop debated who was responsible, with both officers ending up staying put.

The report also found that officers involved in the search were awake for 36 hours or more at times during the search between the Monday of the bombing and Friday, when police located the surviving bombing suspect.

But the study, titled "Why Was Boston Strong" and based on roughly 100 interviews with law enforcement and public officials, also praised the level preparedness among emergency responders and police, particularly on the day of the explosions, when many lives were saved because of swift and orderly medical response.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 20, has pleaded guilty to 30 federal charges, some of which carry the death penalty. His trial is slated to begin in November.

The Media Is (Still) Dominated By Men

Posted: 03 Apr 2014 10:24 AM PDT

In news media, it’s still a man’s world.

Male journalists make up 63% of bylines in print, Internet and wire news media, according to a recent report from the Women’s Media Center.

Diversity in newsrooms is critical if media outlets want to cover stories that reach and represent their audiences, but that’s increasingly difficult with women earning only around 36% of bylines or on-camera appearances.

The report looked at 20 of the most widely circulated and watched TV networks, newspapers, wires and online news sites in the U.S. Across the news cycle, women are clearly underrepresented. The New York Times, for example, has the widest gender gap when it comes to bylines, while the Chicago Sun-Times is close to equal.

But some news outlets are certainly doing better than others. For instance, PBS and ABC have women as their primary anchors, but regardless, the news is anchored by men 60% of the time. Just think evening news.

The Huffington Post has a nearly equal gender balance, but and The Daily Beast are far from it. Men also dominate the news wires at the Associated Press and Reuters.

“When media are overwhelmingly male (and still, alas, overwhelmingly white), they just aren’t anywhere near as good as they could be," said Geneva Overholser, a Women's Media Center board member, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and former ombudsman for The Washington Post in a statement.

In general, the research also found that women are more likely to cover topics like lifestyle, culture and health, while men are more likely to cover criminal justice, politics and tech.

This annual report is the third in a series from the Women’s Media Center, a nonprofit founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, that’s dedicated to advancing the role of women in media.

Check out the breakdown below.

Women's Media Center
Women’s Media Center


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