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Sunday, April 13, 2014

WATCH: Jay Z and Beyonce Make Surprise Appearances at Coachella

WATCH: Jay Z and Beyonce Make Surprise Appearances at Coachella


WATCH: Jay Z and Beyonce Make Surprise Appearances at Coachella

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:58 AM PDT

If you were bopping around New York City looking for Jay Z and Beyonce this weekend, wondering why you couldn’t find them, it’s because they quietly made their way to Indio, Calif., for the Coachella music festival. (Even if they were in New York, you probably aren’t fancy enough to be anywhere near them anyway).

Both artists surprised the crowd with unannounced appearances Saturday night. First, Beyonce joined her younger sister, Solange, for a choreographed duet of Solange’s “Losing You” (Watch the video of their performance above). It’s awesome, and then they embrace, and you’re a monster if you don’t love everything about it.

Later in the evening, not wanting to be outdone by his wife, Jay Z took the stage alongside his former nemesis Nas to perform “Dead Presidents II” and “Where I’m From.”

Okay, before we really didn’t care, but now we’re kind of sad we missed Coachella this year.

Libya PM Quits, Says He Was Targeted in Armed Attack

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:52 AM PDT

Libyan Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani said Sunday he has decided to resign after he and his family were the victims of an armed attack on Saturday, Agence France Presse reports.

Thani’s resignation comes less than a week after Libya’s parliament required him to form a new cabinet. Thani’s predecessor was ousted by parliament just weeks ago for being unable to tamp down on Libya’s rising lawlessness.

Thani said in his statement he would not accept the premiership after a “traitorous attack” on his family and himself, but said he was willing to oversee the current government until a new prime minister is appointed.

[AFP]

Feds Investigating Claim FedEx Truck Was on Fire Before Crash

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:37 AM PDT

Federal officials are investigating claims that a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it spun out of control and struck a bus, killing 10 people.

Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board are looking for more witnesses to corroborate the claims of a driver who witnessed the fiery crash. They’re also testing blood samples of the FedEx driver to see if he inhaled smoke before the collision, the Associated Press reports.

The FedEx truck driven by Tim Evans, 32, of Elk Grove, Calif. veered across the meridian of California’s Interstate 5 before colliding with a bus carrying 48 high school students and chaperones to a college tour. Evans, along with five students, three adult chaperones and the school bus driver were killed in the crash. Dozens of other students had various injures, including burns.

Federal officials are also investigating whether more fire safety measures could have prevented injuries to those on board the bus and whether there should be a barrier at Interstate 5′s meridian.

[AP]

U.N.: Time Is Running Out for Climate Change Action

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 09:51 AM PDT

A worldwide push over the next 15 years is the only way to avoid the disastrous effects of climate change, experts appointed by the United Nations said Sunday.

A report released Sunday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that it is still possible to contain the worst effects of climate change, but governments must take extensive measures to reduce carbon emissions, the New York Times reports.

Global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40 to 70 percent compared with 2010 by mid-century in order to limit global mean temperature rises to two degrees celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. Exceeding 3.6-degree-Fahrenheit temperature rises will cause drastic effects, including the collapse of ice sheets, mass plant and animal extinction, food shortages, flooding, and extreme weather events, scientists say.

The report also warned that widespread inaction is already leading to far-reaching consequences — emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades, the IPCC said.

The IPCC said that there is some reason for optimism. Many countries, such as Denmark, Germany and parts of the U.S. have increasingly begun to use wind and solar power. The costs of renewable energy are dropping quickly, making it more practical to deploy on a large scale.

Renewable energy can also grow the world economy, the IPCC said, and could potentially balance out the costs associated with mitigating climate change.

“This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Sunday. “We already know that climate science is unambiguous and that every year the world defers action, the costs only grow. But focusing only on grim realities misses promising realities staring us right in the face.”

Global temperatures have risen approximately 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, according to the IPCC.

"Climate policies in line with the two degrees Celsius goal need to aim for substantial emission reductions," Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said. "There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual."

Interim Libyan Prime Minister to Step Down

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 09:24 AM PDT

(TRIPOLI, Libya) — Libya’s government said Sunday that the interim prime minister had declined a parliamentary mandate to form a new government and will instead step down, in a move likely to compound the difficulties facing a government already internally divided and facing widespread unrest and militia violence.

Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani announced on the interim government’s website that he was leaving his post, but would stay on as head of the Cabinet until a replacement could be found.

He said that he had made his decision “to protect the interests of the country and so as not to drag different sides into fighting when there can be no winner.” He said his decision also was related to an armed attack on him and his family Saturday night in a residential neighborhood that put the lives of its residents at risk. He added that he did not want to be the cause of any fighting or bloodshed because of his position.

Officials with Libya’s nascent security forces could not be immediately reached Sunday about al-Thani’s comments.

Al-Thani served as defense minister under the previous prime minister and was detained several times under longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s rule because of his brother’s criticism of Libya’s intervention in the internal affairs of neighboring Chad.

The Libyan government has been in turmoil since Gadhafi’s overthrow in 2011. Al-Thani’s predecessor, Ali Zidan, was pushed out of office in a no-confidence vote by parliament on March 11. The vote of no confidence followed a standoff between the central government in Tripoli and powerful militias in eastern Libya over oil sales, as well as a power struggle within parliament between Islamists trying to remove Zidan and anti-Islamist political factions.

Official: U.S. Looking Into Syria Toxic Gas Reports

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 08:36 AM PDT

(BEIRUT) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday that reports of a poison gas attack in a rural village north of Damascus were so far “unsubstantiated,” adding that the United States was trying to establish what really happened before it considers a response.

Both sides in Syria’s civil war blamed each other for the alleged attack that reportedly injured scores of people Friday amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons.

The details of what happened in Kfar Zeita, an opposition-held village in Hama province some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Damascus, remain murky. Online videos posted by rebel activists showed pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at what appeared to be a field hospital. They suggested an affliction by some kind of poison — and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight.

“We are trying to run this down,” said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“So far it’s unsubstantiated, but we’ve shown, I think, in the past that we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response,” she said.

Opposition groups, including the main Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, said the poison gas attack hurt dozens of people, thought it did not identify the gas used. State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebel group for the attack, saying they used chlorine gas to kill two people and injured more than 100. It did not say how it confirmed chlorine was used.

Chlorine, one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the U.S., is used to purify drinking water. But as a gas, it can be deadly.

The videos were reminiscent — albeit on a much smaller scale — of an Aug. 21 chemical attack near the capital, Damascus, that killed hundreds of people.

The U.S. and its allies blamed the Syrian government for that attack, which crossed a “red line” that President Barack Obama had said would bring harsh consequences. The attack nearly sparked Western airstrikes before a negotiated diplomatic settlement saw Assad’s government agree to give up its chemical weapons. Damascus denied the charges and blamed rebels of staging the incident.

About half the weapons have been removed from Syria so far. The Syrian government has missed several deadlines, blaming the delays on security concerns.

The opposition also has claimed other, limited use of chemical weapons or poisonous gas attacks near Damascus in recent days.

Power’s comments came as heavy fighting raged Sunday across many parts of the country. In the war-shattered northern city of Aleppo, activists said at least 29 people were killed over the weekend.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 16 rebels were among those who died in the overnight combat. At least 13 civilians also were killed when government aircraft dropped barrel bombs on the city’s rebel-held districts.

Another activist group, the Syria-based Local Coordination Committees, said Assad’s warplanes launched fresh airstrikes there on Sunday.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest urban center and its one-time commercial hub, has been a key front in the civil war. The fighting has been in a stalemate for months.

Both activist groups also reported airstrikes on rebel positions in a village in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province near the Iraqi border. The Observatory said the strikes killed at least four people and wounded scores.

Ukrainian President Promises ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’ After Shootout in East

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 08:29 AM PDT

Updated 11:57 a.m. ET Sunday

Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov promised in a televised address Sunday a “large-scale anti-terrorist operation” in order to prevent “the repetition of the Crimean scenario” following the death of a Ukrainian security officer during a shootout in the country’s eastern region.

A Ukrainian security officer was killed and five others were wounded Sunday after special forces exchanged fire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern Ukrainian city, Ukraine’s interior minister said. The skirmish was the first reported gun battle in eastern Ukraine, where armed pro-Russia groups have seized law enforcement buildings throughout the region.

Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said that the Security Service officer was killed in Slovyansk, where a police station was seized Saturday by camouflaged armed men demanding autonomy from Kiev. Akakov said in a Facebook post that the men who seized buildings in Slovyansk opened fire on Ukrainian special forces sent to the city Sunday, the Associated Press reports. He also described the unrest as “Russian aggression.”

There have been reports of armed men seizing key buildings in several other cities, including the major industrial city of Donetsk, where witnesses say deposed President Yanukovych’s former feared police squad, Berkut, captured police buildings Saturday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday compared the escalating tension in eastern Ukraine to events last month in Crimea. Rasmussen said he was troubled by "a concerted campaign of violence by pro-Russian separatists, aiming to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign state." NATO believes Russia has amassed up to 40,000 troops in more than 100 locations along its border with Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "expressed strong concern" that the attacks "were orchestrated and synchronized, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea” in a recent phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Kerry emphasized that if Russia did not deescalate the situation, there would be further consequences in addition to a litany of sanctions imposed on Russian officials last month.

Lavrov told Kerry “residents of the southeast who were driven to despair.” He blamed the crisis on the failure of the Ukrainian government to mediate with the Russian-speaking population.

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden is set to visit Ukraine later this month ahead of presidential elections scheduled for late May.

[AP]

MORE: Is Moscow Behind Ukraine's Unrest?

Stop Everything You’re Doing So You Can Find Out What Sound Baby Sloths Make

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 08:15 AM PDT

If you weren’t sure what sound a baby sloth makes, that’s okay, because surprisingly enough, we weren’t either. But thankfully, this video clears that right up. Turns out, baby sloths make an astonishingly adorable squeaking sound.

This is very important. Whatever you’re doing right now, you need to stop doing immediately so you can watch this baby sloth squealing montage. It’ll change your life, I swear.

Jury to Be Picked in N.Y. Trial of Egyptian Preacher

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 08:13 AM PDT

(NEW YORK) — Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of a disabled Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from Great Britain on charges he conspired to support al-Qaeda, in part by trying to create a training camp in Oregon 15 years ago.

The trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa occurs a month after a Manhattan jury convicted Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al-Qaeda’s spokesman after the 2001 attacks, of charges that will likely result in a life sentence.

The 55-year-old Mustafa has alerted his lawyers and U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest that he will testify on his own behalf. At a pretrial hearing last week, he told the judge: “I think I am innocent. I need to go through it, have a chance to defend myself.”

Prosecutors say he conspired to support al-Qaeda by trying in 1999 to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., by arranging for others to attend an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and by ensuring there was satellite phone service for hostage takers in Yemen in 1998 who abducted two American tourists and 14 others.

Three Britons and an Australian were killed as the Yemeni military attempted to rescue the hostages. Two women, an American and a Briton, were wounded. Officials said the hostages were seized as demands were made to release two Islamic jihad leaders.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Patrick McGinley said the government had plenty of evidence to sift through, including media interviews and recordings of his weekly speeches.

“We culled it down from thousands of hours to less than an hour’s worth of recordings that we intend to play,” McGinley told the judge.

Still, defense attorney Jeremy Schneider said the jury will be subjected to references by his client and others to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, along with repeated mentions of the 9/11 attacks and the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor in Yemen.

He said the statements were chosen by prosecutors “because these statements are the ones that are the most unduly prejudicial.”

Schneider also has belittled the government’s portrayal of plans to open an al-Qaeda training camp on 360 acres in Bly, saying the effort in late 1999 and early 2000 resembled a retreat, with “just a few people shooting at targets, riding horseback, having fun at the farm.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kim said Schneider’s description was false. He said guns found in the homes of participants in the Bly training “tends to disprove … that this was all just a lark in the woods.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan said prosecutors plan to show jurors that Mustafa supported acts committed by al-Qaeda such as the Cole attack and that he said the World Trade Center was a legitimate target.

The white-haired Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, turned London’s Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s into a training ground for Islamic extremists, attracting men including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Mustafa has one eye and claims to have lost his hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges of inciting racial hatred and encouraging followers to kill non-Muslims, Mustafa was brought to the United States for trial in fall 2012.

James Franco Stars in SNL’s Beautiful Story of 2 Monster Pals

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 07:43 AM PDT

This pre-recorded short opens with a couple of buddies who just happen to be monsters — ugly, green, disfigured monsters. Some awful bully, played by Seth Rogen, makes them feel terrible about themselves, prompting one of them to undergo expensive plastic surgery so he can look like a normal human (the surgery goes pretty well, because he comes out looking like James Franco).

Mike O’Brien also stars as Franco’s fellow monster, who eventually gives in and gets the human-transformation surgery too. When the friends reunite afterward, Franco asks O’Brien why he chose that face. “It’s just a little bit cheaper,” he explains.

The tone of “Monster Pals” is reminiscent of the excellent “Sad Mouse” sketch from 2012, though the former is much lighter and funnier.

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