Friday, May 30, 2014

Suicide Bomber in Syria Was American Citizen

Suicide Bomber in Syria Was American Citizen

Suicide Bomber in Syria Was American Citizen

Posted: 30 May 2014 12:25 PM PDT

A man who detonated a suicide truck bomb in Syria on Sunday was an American citizen, the Obama Administration confirmed Friday.

“I can confirm that this individual was a U.S. citizen involved in a suicide bombing in Syria,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Syrian rebels released a video earlier this week after an attack on a Syrian military checkpoint. In the video, they claimed one of the bombers involved was an American who fought under the nom-du-guerre Abu Huraya al-Amriki. (al-Amriki translates to "the American.")

Rebel groups said the attack was carried out in coordination with the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

CNN, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reports the man grew up in Florida. U.S. officials have expressed concern about the stream of foreign fighters flowing into Syria’s war, worried they will return to the U.S. both radicalized and dangerous.

This Is the Reason Going Into Abercrombie & Fitch Gives You Anxiety

Posted: 30 May 2014 12:09 PM PDT

You can tell you’re within 10-yards of a club Abercrombie & Fitch by the smell. The overwhelming scent of cologne billows past tourists lined up on the street outside, giving passers-by a distinct sense of déjà vu hearkening back to days of middle school locker rooms.

If the thought of the Abercrombie smell is putting you on edge, there’s a reason. HuffPost’s Kim Bhasin reports that the unsubtle scent may directly cause anxiety in customers.

New research from Concordia University suggests that while some ambient scents in stores can calm shoppers, others cause anxiety—particularly if they are reminiscent of enclosed spaces. Bianca Grohmann, co-author of the “spatial density and ambient scent” study, says that A&F is known for its darkness, loud background music, crowded sales floors and intense smell.

“In terms of Abercrombie & Fitch's scent, it's one of their colognes called Fierce and it is a very masculine and strong scent,” she told TIME. “Although we did not particularly test this particular scent, this kind of scent is actually directionally more associated with enclosed spaces.” And thus increases anxiety, upping the likelihood of wanting to get out as soon as possible.

Abercrombie is known for spritzing the cologne in stores throughout the day. A TIME staffer who used to work in a Florida store says that store managers told employees they even sprayed it in the air conditioning system.

Last week, the struggling retailer announced that it would be turning down the music, turning up the lights, and cutting its fragrance spritzes by 25%. Although according to Grohmann, that might not be enough if the store continues to use the same cologne.

“If the scent is associated with enclosed spaces toning down the intensity might not make the enclosed space feeling go away,” she said.

Although that might not be a turnoff to all consumers. Grohmann’s study had 180 participants ranging from 18 to 42. While the adults with bigger bank accounts might go running, teens may be unfazed by the high-octane shopping experience. But the smell was notorious enough that people held a protest to combat the cologne-infused Abercrombie air in 2010.

Abercrombie did not respond to questions about whether the cologne choice would change and instead directed us to CEO Mike Jeffries’ quote in a recent Bloomberg article: “Its customer is changing, and we’re ready to change with her and him.”

[Huffington Post]

Here’s What’s Lurking In the Pool Water

Posted: 30 May 2014 12:00 PM PDT

Microbes, including bacteria that live on our skin and in our noses, get dropped into the pool whenever we take a dip. Not all of them make us sick, and chlorine can kill germs, but sometimes it takes days for that to happen. And if your pool smells like chemicals, that's not a sign that it's clean. In fact, the stronger the odor, the harder the chlorine is working to eliminate things like urine, sweat, dirt, poop and other things that swimmers trail in.

Here's a handy (and slightly scary) rundown of the bugs and other things that every swimmer brings into the pool, from the Centers for Disease Control. Their advice? Take a dip and enjoy your swim. But shower before you jump in. And don't drink the water.


14_247050-B_Healthy Swimming final

The Clippers Are Worth Nowhere Near What Ballmer Is Paying

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:59 AM PDT

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money. But Steve Ballmer doesn't seem to treat $2 billion as real money.

Forbes Magazine estimates that last year the Los Angeles Clippers generated $128 million in revenue and earned $15 million in profits. At a 5% rate of return, the Clippers would be valued at $300 million. But NBA teams are scarce commodities and their value goes up over time. Moreover, owners garner handsome indirect and non-pecuniary returns, so sports teams commonly sell at a multiple of their previous year's revenues. The typical multiple in the NBA is 4. That would put the Clippers' value at $512 million.

But the Clippers will be signing a new TV contract in a few years, and the team is playing better and is more popular than ever. One can anticipate that their revenues will experience robust growth going forward. What if revenues grew by $52 million, to $180 million? Using the revenue multiple of 4, that would put the team value at $720 million.

The only way to get an economic value of $2 billion would be to have projected revenues rise to $500 million. How could that happen? Well, the Lakers got a long-term TV deal with Time Warner for $200 million a year, and the Dodgers have a new one at $340 million annually for 25 years. If the Clippers could get a Lakers- or Dodgers-type contract, then the team's revenue might begin to approach $500 million.

Perhaps this is what Mr. Ballmer and his financial advisers were thinking. They should think again. Time Warner is losing its shirt on the Dodger deal. They projected they would be able to sell the Dodgers' RSN (regional sports network) to all greater Los Angeles households for $5 per month. So far, only 30% of area households receive the Dodgers games — those are the households served by Time Warner cable. No other cable or satellite distributor is willing to pay the price that the Dodgers' RSN demands. In fact, the price has recently been lowered to $4 and there are still no takers.

It would be unreasonable in the extreme that Time Warner, or its competitor, Fox, would be willing to sign a Dodgers-type deal. Even if the Dodgers deal were working out, baseball has twice the number of games as basketball and historically has garnered much larger television contracts than basketball. And the Dodgers are the Dodgers – the second strongest brand in baseball after the Yankees.

Recall, too, that the Dodgers own their own facility. The Clippers are tenants.

Topping things off, Ballmer was sent a financial package by the Sterlings just a couple of days ago. In normal deals, that's just the first step. After that, there are questions, details, more contracts to view, people to interview (including companies like Time Warner) and so on. Sterling insisted on final bids within a couple of days – preventing proper due diligence on the franchise, perhaps knowing that the more time he gave the bidders, the more they would learn and the more issues they would find.

So what's going on? Ballmer is making a vanity purchase – he's buying a toy. His net worth is reportedly valued at close to $15 billion. He could still survive if his net worth were $13 billion. He's a basketball nut. He wants to have some fun. He wants to sit next to Jack Nicholson.

Andrew Zimbalist is Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College. His latest book is The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball.

2 Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Stars Are Fired

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:56 AM PDT

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is down two stars. According to a source, Joyce Giraud and Carlton Gebbia – who appeared on only one season of the show – just didn't make enough of an impact on audiences to warrant another go-round.

Gebbia was calm and collected when asked about being fired by E!. “I sort of look at it as a blessing in disguise,” she said.

There have also been reports that the show might be down another star — Lissa Vanderpump has expressed her disdain for the show, which is worrying producers who know that she is a big hit.

Here’s How Other Executives Have Fared as Team Owners

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer won a bidding war to buy the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, for a cool $2 billion dollars. It’s the most expensive team sale in NBA history. So how good an owner will Ballmer be? Here are the track records of some other executives-turned-sports team owners:

Howard Schultz

The chairman and CEO of Starbucks built a coffee empire, but he didn’t prove to be a good owner of the now-defunct Seattle Supersonics NBA team. He ran the franchise more like a business than a sports team, and feuded with the city of Seattle over funds for a new stadium. Eventually, he committed the ultimate sin, selling the team to an Oklahoma City ownership group. The team, now the Thunder, moved out of Seattle, and fans still haven’t forgiven him.

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, purchased the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2002. Fans have considered him a good owner, though his biggest challenge has been building a new stadium for the team after controversy arouse surrounding public funding for the construction. After years of debate, the new stadium broke ground this month.

Wayne Huizenga

Though Huizenga wasn’t the founder and CEO of Blockbuster, many thought he was. As the face of the company, Huizenga built a movie empire—that is, until Netflix came along. His epic success and then fall with baseball’s Florida Marlins mirrored that of Blockbuster. Huizenga made it on TIME’s Most Hated Sports Team Owners list for dismantling the 1997 Championship Team (which won the World Series after just four years of existence) for financial reasons. Huizenga sold the team in 1998 after fans boycotted the games and attendance fell dramatically.

Jimmy Haslam

The CEO of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain bought the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 2012. In his business, Haslam has faced serious accusations of fraud. Earlier this year, Haslam was publicly asked at a news conference whether the three stooges were running the franchise. At the end of the season he cleaned out the front office—for better or worse.

Dan Gilbert

The chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans is probably best known for the spurned lover maifesto he wrote when NBA superstar LeBron James left his Cleveland Cavaliers franchise in 2010. Quicken Loans came under fire during the subprime mortgage mess, but he’s had a good streak of luck lately with the Cavs, winning the lottery for the third time in the past four years.

Ray Croc

The McDonald’s mogul owned baseball’s San Diego Padres from 1974 until his death in 1984. Kroc was reportedly a die-hard fan, though the team didn’t win the Western division title until the year that Croc passed away. His daughter, Joan Kroc, continued to help with the team. Padres player Goose Gossage notoriously once ranted about her that she was “poisoning the world with her cheeseburgers” and meanwhile the players couldn’t have beer in the clubhouse.

Paul Allen

Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., which manages various business and philanthropic efforts. Allen purchased the Seattle Seahawks in 1997 when then-owner Ken Behring threatened to relocate the NFL team to Southern California. Embraced as the team’s savior, Allen gave birth to a new stadium and a new era in Seattle football. This year the team won its first Super Bowl. Allen also own’s the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, meaning Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers will make for a Microsoft rivalry in basketball.

Mark Cuban

Cuban started and sold his own tech company for millions before diversifying his investments. He’s currently the owner of Landmark Theaters and Magnolia Pictures, among other companies. But most people would identify him as the outspoken, die-hard owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Most owners watch from skyboxes in suits. Cuban sits with the fans, wearing team gear—and screaming at the refs. Cuban has been fined over $1.6 million for making critical statements about the referees and the NBA since he purchased a majority share in the team in 2000. The team won the championship against the Miami Heat in 2011.

Board Rules That Medicare Can Cover Gender Reassignment Surgery

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:52 AM PDT

A federal board ruled Friday in favor of a 74-year-old veteran seeking to have Medicare cover the costs of her gender reassignment surgery, a landmark decision that recognizes it as a necessary medical procedure,

The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services overturns a longstanding rule preventing the government health insurance program from covering such procedures and opens the doors for other Medicare enrollees to make similar requests. It comes at a time when states are beginning to prohibit insurance companies from including specific exclusions for treatments related to gender transitions. So far, five states—California, Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut and Colorado, as well as Washington, D.C.—have prohibited such exclusions. Organizations like the Oakland, Calif.-based Transgender Law Center are fighting for more states to follow suit.

Though numbers are far from concrete, studies estimate that that 0.5% of the U.S. population is transgender, meaning that they identify with a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth. Not all of the country’s estimated 1.5 million transgender citizens desire reassignment surgery, a serious procedure that alters a person’s sexual characteristics. That decision may depend on the desire to have children or physical preference, fear of surgery or having other health conditions that would make such surgery risky, as well as the cost of surgery.

(MORE: The Transgender Tipping Point)

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a 2011 report that is the most comprehensive source for data on transgender-related issues, found that the majority of its 6,500 respondents desired surgery of some kind. However, many couldn’t afford to undergo such procedures.

“The high costs of gender-related surgeries and their exclusion from most health insurance plans render these life-changing … and medically necessary procedures inaccessible to most transgender people,” the report concluded.

Transgender people who desire surgery will likely be diagnosed with severe gender dysphoria, a diagnosis recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Jamison Green, president of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, describes gender dysphoria as discomfort with the gender in which one is living or expected to live in.

“We’re very excited about it,” Green tells TIME of the ruling. “Now there is considerable evidence that shows that this is a valid condition, that the treatment is effective … it can be disabling if it’s not treated.”

America’s Best Hot Dogs

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:47 AM PDT

Belly Shack


At Bill Kim's industrial Logan Square joint, the "belly dog" comes fully loaded with egg noodles, pickled green papaya, and spicy togarashi fries. Don't forget the curry mayo.

Garden District

Washington, D.C.

The "dachshund in the grass" slaw dog gets our vote at this casual beer garden—best with a side of hush puppies.


Somerville, MA

Tim Wiechmann recently introduced the smoky "Brondog," covered with melted Emmentaler cheese and vinegary sauerbraten on a poppy-seed potato bun.

MORE: America’s Best Cities for Barbecue

Beer Bar

Salt Lake City

Viet Pham's "brat Reuben" is a hungry-man mash-up of beer-braised bratwurst, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on a basic white bun.

Hog & Hominy

Memphis, TN

Bocce meets boiled peanuts here in East Memphis, where a pretzel bun is stuffed with a beef-and-cheddar dog.


MORE: America’s Best Beer Bars

MORE: America’s Coolest Breweries

U.S. Airways Flight Makes Emergency Landing after Dog Poops in the Aisle

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:34 AM PDT

A Philadelphia-bound U.S. Airways flight from Los Angeles had to make an emergency landing in Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this week after a dog defecated in the middle of the aisle–twice.

A man named Steve McCall, who says he was a passenger on the plane, U.S. Airways Flight 598, told Inside Edition that the smell made people physically sick. NBC Philadelphia has rounded up tweets that appear to be from other passengers who are complaining about how the flight had already been delayed because of fuel issues before the incident onboard.

Chris Law, an NFL producer, live-tweeted the episode, including a photo of the clean-up after the emergency landing, and complimented the crew’s handling of the situation:

We’ve reached out to U.S. Airways for comment and will update if we hear back.

Canadian Boy Found Locked in Filthy Bedroom for Up to 2 Years

Posted: 30 May 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A 10-year-old Canadian boy was found imprisoned in a filthy bedroom where he had been kept for at least a year-and-a-half, police said Friday.

The boy was discovered by police in the city of London, Ontario, after authorities acted on a tip. Upon investigation, police said they believe the child was kept locked in the room for between a-year-and-a-half to two years.

"The master bedroom had an ensuite bathroom so the child had access to a toilet and shower however the room, and the entire house, was in squalid condition," a police statement said.

The 10-year-old was diagnosed as being underweight and malnourished, and turned over to the care of the Children's Aid Society.

The boy's guardians, his aunt and uncle, have been arrested. Their biological child has been taken into custody as well, though there is no indication, police said, that that child had been locked away in the house.


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