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Saturday, May 10, 2014

State Department: U.S. Officers Killed 2 Yemeni Civilians in Shootout

State Department: U.S. Officers Killed 2 Yemeni Civilians in Shootout


State Department: U.S. Officers Killed 2 Yemeni Civilians in Shootout

Posted: 10 May 2014 11:52 AM PDT

Two American embassy officers shot and killed two Yemeni civilians trying to kidnap the Americans in Yemen’s capital last month, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to the New York Times Saturday. The pair of Americans involved in the incident have since left the country, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told the Times.

The Times first reported the incident Friday, citing unnamed American officials. The original Times report claimed the attempted kidnapping and subsequent shootout involved a U.S. Special Operations commando and a Central Intelligence Agency officer attached to the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and took place at a Sanaa barber shop.

The incident comes at a tumultuous time for Yemen’s embattled government. Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has lost popularity among many Yemenis by allowing American drone strikes against suspected al-Qaeda members. The strikes, which sometimes result in civilian deaths, are fiercely unpopular among Yemenis, and militants have stepped up their attacks against the government in response to the drone strikes.

Yemeni officials have remained largely silent about the shootings, though a spokesman for Yemen’s Interior Ministry said Saturday that two non-Yemeni foreigners targeted for abduction fired on their Yemini would-be abductors. Yemeni media did not report at the time that the shooters were American.

The episode could further damage the Yemeni government’s domestic reputation if it is perceived that it covered up the identities of the American officers.

[NYT]

5 Smart Steps to Cut Down On Sugar

Posted: 10 May 2014 10:00 AM PDT

The bad news about sugar just keeps on coming: A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study linked taking in too much of the sweet stuff to a higher risk of dying of heart disease, and a brand-new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the participants who ate the most sugar had a 10 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, compared to the average person.

It’s enough to make you want to quit sugar altogether—and an increasing number of people are doing just that, whether it’s through an elimination diet or banning sugar for a more extended period of time (this writer actually steered clear of added fructose for a year).

Thinking about trying a no-added-sugar diet yourself? That’s not a bad idea, says Pooja Mottl, author of the new book The 3-Day Reset. One of the primary resets she describes in the book focuses on sugar, which she writes is “notoriously difficult to detect in foods.” Here, she shares five common mistakes people make when avoiding added sugar.

Mistake No. 1: Trying to Ignore Your Sweet Tooth Altogether
Some people view added-sugar bans as a test of their ability to resist eating anything sweet. But that’s the wrong approach, says Mottl. The point is to find whole foods that satisfy your cravings—not to out-willpower your cravings entirely. “You should make sure that you do satisfy your sweet cravings during this time but with unrefined sources of sugar,” she says. “If you don’t give yourself whole food-based alternatives for sweetness, doing a diet like this won’t be sustainable.” As an added bonus, you’ll discover new, more nutritious ways to sate your sweet tooth in the process.

Mistake No. 2: Only Avoiding Sweet Foods
Things that you think of as savory can still contain plenty of sugar (just consider these surprising foods with more sugar than a candy bar). “Pasta sauces, chicken nuggets, cured meats, ketchup, even almond milk often contain added sugar,” says Mottl. To make sure you’re really steering clear of excess amounts of sweet stuff, you’ll have to read nutrition labels (or, if you’re eating out, start asking questions).

Mistake No. 3: Forgetting That Sugar Comes in Many Forms
When you’re checking those labels, you’re not just looking for the word “sugar.” “Another misstep happens when people don’t know the various terms that refer to sugar on ingredient lists,” says Mottl. Some of the many different ingredients that actually refer to sugar include high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, demerara, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane juice solids, fruit-juice concentrates, dextrose, fructose, lactose, and a number of other terms ending in “-ose”

Mistake No. 4: Not Defining Which Sugars Are Off-Limits Ahead of Time
In her book, Mottl suggests only allowing what she calls whole and minimally processed sweeteners (ones that are unrefined) during the sugar reset: maple syrup, raw honey, rapadura, and coconut palm sugar. In her recent book Year of No Sugar, Eve Schaub avoided any sweeteners containing fructose but allowed herself those that were fructose-free (so glucose and dextrose were OK). Whether to ban artificial sweeteners is also an important decision to make. Regardless of which forms of sugar you decide are off-limits, make sure to set some sort of guidelines before you start; otherwise your sugar ban will be that much more confusing.

Mistake No. 5: Trying to Forgo Added Sugar for Too Long a Timespan
Schaub may have gone 365 days without sugar, but for most people that’s too long. There’s a reason that Mottl recommends avoiding added sugars for 72 hours: It’s long enough to help you re-adjust your taste buds, get into the habit of checking nutrition labels, and discover ways to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole and minimally processed foods. But it’s not so long that it feels intimidating—or like you’re just setting yourself up for failure. “Three days isn’t very long, but it’s still plenty long enough,” Mottl writes in her book. “You’ll feel a difference in your mouth and your energy.”

This article was written by Robin Hilmantel and originally appeared on WomensHealthMag.com

Nigeria Sends Army to Find Missing Schoolgirls

Posted: 10 May 2014 09:47 AM PDT

Nigeria has assigned two army divisions to find more than 200 schoolgirls abducted last month by extremist Islamist rebel group Boko Haram, following an international outcry over the kidnappings.

The soldiers, based near Chad, Cameroon and Niger, will work with other security agencies, said a spokesman for the Nigerian military, Reuters reports. The Nigerian air force and local police are already working to locate the girls.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been widely criticized at home and abroad for his slow response to the girls’ April 14 kidnapping from a school in the country’s north. Some of the girls have escaped, but more than 200 remain in captivity.

Jonathan said Friday he believes the girls are in Nigeria, despite rumors that they’ve been trafficked across the border to Cameroon or possibly sold as sex slaves.

Michelle Obama condemned the kidnapping in a video address Saturday. “Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night,” Obama said.

[Reuters]

 

Arkansas Issues First Same-Sex Marriage License After Ban Struck Down

Posted: 10 May 2014 09:05 AM PDT

Arkansas issued its first same-sex marriage license Saturday morning as couples lined up outside a local courthouse one day after a judge overturned the state’s gay marriage ban.

Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo of Forth Smith were the first Arkansas couple to receive a marriage license Saturday after Pulaski County judge Chris Piazza ruled the ban unconstitutional Friday. The couple has been together for four years.

Instagram Photo

Seaton and Rambo headed for Eureka Springs just after hearing about Piazza’s ruling, the Associated Press reports. The couple arrived at 2 a.m. and slept in their Ford Focus, waking up every 30 minutes to make sure they were at the head of the line. When they saw another couple pull up, Seaton and Rambo bolted to the courthouse.

“Thank God,” Rambo said when the license was issued.

Seaton and Rambo and other couples lined up outside state courthouses Saturday despite not knowing whether they would actually receive marriage licenses, the AP reports.

Arkansas voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman in 2004.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, a decision cited by lower court judges who have since struck down same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas.

[AP]

The Dark Facts You Didn’t Know About Mother’s Day

Posted: 10 May 2014 08:25 AM PDT

Mother’s Day hasn’t always been about flowers, handwritten cards and spending time with mom — it actually has a sordid past rife with conflict and controversy.

In the late 1800s to early 1900s, Mother’s Day (in its various forms) was organized for reasons ranging from lowering infant mortality, promoting peace and honoring a religious observance inspired by the mother of Anna Jarvis, who is now recognized as one of the two main founders of the holiday.

The video above details how the history of Mother’s Day took a strange turn, eventually leaving Jarvis broke and childless in a sanitarium.

Study: Keyboards Are Influencing What You Name Your Baby

Posted: 10 May 2014 08:01 AM PDT

A psychology professor from the University of Chicago is doubling down on research that caused a great kerfuffle among linguists in 2012. In Daniel Casasanto’s previous paper, he presented the QWERTY effect, named after the standard American keyboard: that words typed using more letters on the right side of the keyboard (like y, u, i, o, p, m, n, j, k, l) tend to be be viewed as more positive, while words typed with more letters from the left side (like z, x, c, v, b, a, s, d and f) tend to be viewed as more negative.

Now, in a paper to be presented this summer at the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Casasanto will present findings that show Americans have started to favor baby names typed with more right-side keys since 1990, the point his team chose as the beginning of the keyboard-centric era. This builds on the same basic theory that people favor things on their dominant side, and because the vast majority of people are right-handed, that means most humans should associate positive feelings with the right side of the keyboard, too.

It just so happens that the top two baby names for 2013, announced on May 9 by the Social Security Administration, were Sophia and Noah, both of which use more letters from the right side than the left. But Casasanto, who used SSA data from 1960 to 2012 to do his analysis, warns that this isn’t a theory that operates on an individual, name-by-name level.

"It may be that Asa, which is spelled with all left-hand letters, is nevertheless a popular name throughout history," he says. "It doesn't mean that suddenly everyone is naming all of their babies with letters from the right side instead of the left. This means this is a very clear influence that is contributing to the choices we make. This is an effect that works unconsciously and can only be detected statistically."

Along with his colleagues Kyle Jasmin, Geoffrey Brookshire and Tom Gijssels, Casasanto computed the “right side advantage” year-over-year for every name given to at least 100 babies for over a half-century. What they found was that the number of right side letters–with the imaginary dividing line running where the home keys are divided–started to significantly outnumber the left-sided letters over time. They also found that in names invented after 1990, right-side letters were more common than in names that existed before that time.

The basic theory behind this research started bubbling out of Casasanto’s psychology lab years ago. “We discovered that people implicitly associate good stuff, positive things with their dominant side of space and bad things with their non-dominant side," he says. In his foundational right-left study, Casasanto showed people pairs of alien creatures, one on the right and one on the left. He then asked which was smarter or nicer or more honest, switching which sides the aliens appeared on for different respondents. On average, he found that the righties were choosing the alien on the right and the lefties were choosing the alien on the left.

Casasanto’s lab repeated these results in other studies, finding the same implicit bias to like things on one’s dominant side, whether it was an arbitrary political candidate or job applicant. He also found that if, say, a right-handed fellow was forced to perform tasks with his left hand, experiencing what it felt like to favor those motor skills, immediately after the tasks he would show a bias for things on his left. "Because we interact with things on our dominant side more fluently, with a greater sense of ease, we come to associate that side with positive things,” he says, “and the other side, where we interact more clumsily, with negative."

Since debuting the QWERTY effect, Casasanto has discovered that it holds true for multiple languages, some of which have keyboards shaped differently than the typical America computer; for made-up words and for the individual letters on the right and left sides of the keyboard. But he knows the assertion that spending all day at a desk could have an influence on what people choose to call their children is not going to go down easy with everyone. "This intuition that we have a stable mental dictionary, a mental encyclopedia, is so deeply ingrained in psychology and linguistics, threats to that are threatening to our mind-view,” he says. "What we're showing here is a new sense of non-arbitrariness in language, a new way in which the form of a word and the way we articulate it—not with our mouth but with our fingers—is connected to the meaning of those words."

He also knows people will point out individual names that seem to upend the theory, loving them or hating them despite their right-ness or left-ness. But that, he says, misses the point. Consider, he says, the statistic that Dutch people are the tallest in the world, on average. That doesn’t mean that every Dutch person will be tall or that a Dutch baby can be predicted to be tall. "If you know a lot of Dutch people and you can think of five of them who are short, that doesn't make the statistic not true,” he says.

And so Ava, an all-left name that has been in the SSA’s top ten for the past decade, may remain a favored name for decades to come. But perhaps, if Casasanto’s theory holds true, some new parents might eventually opt for something like Mia instead.

South Korea Pauses Search For Missing Ferry Passengers

Posted: 10 May 2014 07:46 AM PDT

The search for the missing passengers from the South Korean ferry disaster was put on hold Saturday as bad weather and the vessel’s deteriorating condition have hampered recovery efforts.

More than 270 bodies have already been recovered more than three weeks after the catastrophe, but 29 passengers remain missing, the Associated Press reports. Most of the passengers on the ferry were high school students from a town south of Seoul.

Strong currents, bad weather and floating debris have made the search difficult. Internal partitions in the ferry have started to reshape as they become waterlogged, preventing divers from entering some parts of the ferry. One civilian diver died Tuesday while assisting in the search.

Authorities have arrested all 15 surviving crew members involved in the ferry’s navigation for alleged negligence and failing to protect passengers. 172 passengers survived the incident.

[AP]

Unidentified 9/11 Remains Returned to World Trade Center

Posted: 10 May 2014 07:31 AM PDT

Unidentified remains of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City were returned to the World Trade Center Saturday in a somber morning procession.

Few bystanders gathered for the five-mile procession, which began at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Manhattan’s East Side, where the remains were previously kept. Some construction workers near the World Trade Center paused to pay their respects and a small number of firefighters saluted the vehicles as they arrived at the site, the Associated Press reports.

The remains will be stored in an underground repository in the same building as the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which will help to coordinate family visits. Some victims’ family members gathered at the World Trade Center site Saturday in protest, saying the remains should be stored above ground at a separate monument.

Some officials hope that technology improvements could lead to the eventual identification of the remains.

2,753 were killed in the attacks at the World Trade Center. 41 percent of the victims have not yet been identified.

[AP]

The Belief at The Bottom and Top of The Premier League

Posted: 10 May 2014 07:30 AM PDT

Belief is one of those of those strange elements in sports, a sort of mysterious particle like the Higgs boson: you know it's there, that it influences the universe, even if it doesn't wear a jersey or kick a ball. On Wednesday, belief touched down in Sunderland as a team that was last in the Premiership on Christmas—a relegation black hole from which no team is supposed to escape —confirmed its place in the Premiership next year with a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Meanwhile, down the road and up the table, Manchester City was demonstrating belief in its own ability, as the weight of its attack became too much to bear for Aston Villa. The Villans collapse started in the 64th minute with Edin Dzeko's close-in finish, and by the time Yaya Touré stormed the length of the field to score in the third minute of stoppage time the Citizens were already up 3-0. City now needs just a point to clinch the title when they host West Ham on Sunday. Asked if the team was nervous with the score 0-0 at the half, Touré offered an "are you kidding me" response. We knew we were going to score, he said; it was just a matter of time. Belief.

Sunderland went unbeaten over its last five games to pull off its escape, including away wins against Chelsea and Manchester United. But oddly enough it was a disappointing draw against City—a goalkeeping error late in the game denied them a desperately needed win—that stoked its remarkable run. "We were disappointed we didn't get three points," explained Sunderland captain John O'Shea after the Aston Villa game. "But we took that belief into the rest of the games." With a win against Swansea and a West Ham loss this weekend, Sunderland could finish in 12th place—a fairly unbelievable finish a team that spent 17 weeks at the foot of the table. "I believe in miracles now,” said manager Gus Poyet.

The B particle was scarce other parts of the league. Liverpool turned into antimatter against Crystal Palace, a team of no apparent menace, after giving up a goal having run up a 3-0 lead. Liverpool lost faith and just as quickly its lead when a bad deflection gifted Palace an undeserved score. Not so the other two. Palace scored three times in 10 or so minutes to finish whatever title hopes the 'Pool had left. It's a good thing Selhurst Park isn't close to the Thames, for Liverpool's sake. And having been dismantled by Athletico Madrid in the Champions League, a shattered Chelsea—a team loaded with non-believers— managed a 0-0 draw with Norwich, the only point the Canaries would earn in their last six games. Norwich fired its manager, Chris Hughton, in early April and replaced him with youth team manager Neil Adams, described AS a more progressive coach. Norwich progressed straight to relegation.

While the supremely confident Man City is running at West Ham for the title this weekend, Norwich will finish its season against Arsenal. The Gunners have held steadfastly to their manager Arsene Wenger and to their system in a season in which boatloads of critics have been howling for changes. Arsenal will finish in fourth place, have a place in Europe’s Champions League and a chance for some glory in the FA Cup final on May 18. You can call Sunderland lucky, you could even say the Black Cats defied belief; but Arsenal defined it.

FAA: Passenger Jet Nearly Collided With Drone

Posted: 10 May 2014 07:04 AM PDT

Federal officials say an airborne drone nearly collided with an American Airlines jet over Tallahassee, Florida earlier this year, raising questions about aviation safety as the number of drones in American airspace is skyrocketing.

The near-collision occurred March 22 between a 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-200 airliner and a camouflaged drone near the Tallahassee Regional Airport, Jim Williams, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) said Thursday, CNN reports. The aircraft were both operating at an altitude of approximately 2,300 feet at the time of the incident.

“The airline pilot said that the UAS was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it,” Williams said. “Thankfully, inspection of the airliner after landing found no damage.”

Current FAA rules require drones to be kept below 400 feet above ground level and flown a sufficient distance from other aircraft. FAA regulations also mandate that private individuals flying model aircraft near airports notify airport operators and air traffic control facilities of their activities ahead of time.

The FAA is working on new rules governing unmanned drones, which have become increasingly popular in recent years among hobbyists, police, journalists and others.

The identity of the drone operator in the Tallahassee incident is still unknown. If found, he or she could be penalized under federal or state law.

[CNN]

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