Monday, June 2, 2014

Airborne ‘Bouncy Houses’ Have Nothing on Those Dangerous Rubber Balls

Airborne ‘Bouncy Houses’ Have Nothing on Those Dangerous Rubber Balls

Airborne ‘Bouncy Houses’ Have Nothing on Those Dangerous Rubber Balls

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Inflatable “bouncy houses” have been in the headlines lately for two spectacular mishaps. A gust of wind lifted one bouncy house in Colorado off of the ground and rolled it end-over-end for roughly 200 feet on Sunday, injuring two children. This came just weeks after another airborne bouncy house in upstate New York sent two young children tumbling into the emergency room. The scares have put the iconic bouncy house’s safety record in the spotlight, and it indeed looks spotty—that is, until you compare it with injuries related to a rubber ball.

Each year roughly 265,000 children suffer from toy-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some toys lead to more injuries than others, and to find out which topped the charts, researchers surveyed 100 emergency rooms across the country. One clear chart-topper, vaulting past stilts, rockets and pogo sticks, was a run-of-the-mill kick-push scooter. It was followed by toy balls, toy vehicles and a third category labeled “not specified,” which closer inspection shows to be dolls, plush toys and action figures. The most injurious childhood amusements are also the most ordinary.

And that makes sense, given that these toys are staples of the toy cabinet. Children are going to spend a lot more time on a scooter than inside of an inflatable castle that occasionally rolls through town (figuratively, one would hope). And children being children, almost any object over an extended amount of time can pose a risk. Researchers could not observe one statistically significant change in toy-related injuries between 2008 and 2012. The same toys seemed to cause the same injuries year in and year out. It’s a finding that won’t make headlines, but it might be of interest to a parent whose concerns might be momentarily fixated on a rolling bouncy house.

Here Are the 25 Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 11:28 AM PDT

Halfway through 2014, there’s already an embarrassment of riches in the realm of music — from blockbuster pop singles to epic indie ballads, ace songs from artists both new and established have provided the year with an exceptional soundtrack.

Here, TIME contributors Lily Rothman, Nolan Feeney, Megan Gibson, Jamieson Cox, Melissa Locker and Sam Lansky pick the 25 best songs of the year — so far.

Ariana Grande, “Problem”

A delirious, skronking sax loop and an assist from rising Australian MC Iggy Azalea helped make this single, the first from Grande’s upcoming second full-length, a prime candidate for the esteemed title of Song of the Summer. Guest features and gassy brass aside, her vocals are the key: sweet, soaring, and unabashedly exuberant. -Jamieson Cox

Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”

It sounds simple: take the silky smooth vocals of a British crooner, add one slow-burning love song, mix in a backing gospel choir and — boom! — you have a chart-topping ballad. Yet Sam Smith manages to elevate that formula with “Stay With Me,” the sweeping third single from his debut album In The Lonely Hour. Evocative and passionate, this song will pull at heartstrings you never knew you had. -Megan Gibson

Allie X, “Catch”

A veteran of the Toronto pop scene, Allie Hughes rebooted her career as Allie X with this gleaming piece of synth-pop. Sugary and sharp in equal measure, Allie’s cool, clean vocals distract from the brutal lyrics, which clinically outline the pain of heartbreak to devastating effect. -Jamieson Cox

Mø, "Don’t Wanna Dance"

Subtract the synthesizers and the electro-pop beat and this track from Mø’s debut album could easily be a Motown cover. The retro girl group vibe, undulating cheerfulness and jangly dance beat work well for the Danish electro-pop songstress — and despite the misleading title, the song is the perfect soundtrack for a sing-into-your-hairbrush slumber party scene. -Melissa Locker

Future Islands, “Seasons (Waiting on You)”

This Baltimore art-pop crew went viral in March thanks to an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, where lead singer Samuel T. Herring danced his way into the acerbic host’s heart and shredded his vocal chords performing this flute-flecked anthem. His moves drew clicks, but it’s his heart that makes this one of the year’s best songs to date: singing about love, loss, and lust, Herring digs deep into a life’s worth of experiences to generate an immense amount of emotion. -Jamieson Cox

Rita Ora, “I Will Never Let You Down”

Though the Roc Nation songbird didn’t dazzle on her debut LP, Rita Ora came out swinging with the first offering from her sophomore set, the Calvin Harris-produced “I Will Never Let You Down.” It’s a summer single so effulgent and brimming with vintage Whitney Houston-style pep it’s like a shot of sunshine. -Sam Lansky

Beck, "Blue Moon"

From the first notes of "Blue Moon" it's clear that Beck has left the bombast and gimmicks of Modern Guilt and Guero far behind. The atmospheric song with folksy melancholia and lush arrangements is a return to form for Beck, showing off his incredible songwriting skills. A sparsely sweeping meditation on loneliness, “Blue Moon” is disconsolate and hopeful, beautiful and haunting; it shows Beck at his best — and when he's good, he's very, very good. -Melissa Locker

St. Vincent, “Digital Witness”

Annie Clark’s funky indictment of social media addiction is at times misinformed, but that doesn’t mean the track from her eponymous fourth album doesn’t rock. -Nolan Feeney

Royskopp & Robyn, "Do It Again"

The collaboration between the Scandinavians resulted in a song — and an EP — filled with hard-driving electronic beats, soaring synths and Robyn's inescapable pop charisma. Her emotion-filled voice lends a humanity to the robotic synths that makes the song feel personal even while pumped onto a dance floor. "Do It Again" is a smart pop song that manages to feel both gem-like and expansive, even though it clocks in at just a little over five minutes. It could be twice as long and still feel fresh. -Melissa Locker

Sun Kil Moon, “Carissa”

A shocking death in Mark Kozelek’s family was the impetus behind the singer-songwriter’s raw, seven-minute monologue about finding meaning in tragedy. -Nolan Feeney

Tove Lo, "Stay High"

If lovelorn angst had a dance-floor ready beat, it might sound something like "Stay High.” It's as plaintive as a pop song gets, filled with yearning vocals played over an undeniable hook and mesmerizing melody, as the Swedish pop singer divulges her recipe for getting over a breakup (the song's title is a clue). After working as a songwriter for years, Lo recently released her debut EP, Truth Serum, on Polydor and based on the strength of the songs, it's clear that there's a new pop diva in town. -Melissa Locker

Chromeo, “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”

The Montreal funk veterans scored the biggest hit of their career to date with this slice of chugging, top-down synth-pop, anchored by a guitar line that’s built for the beach and rubber-band bass. The jealousy’s rancid enough to induce giggles, but there’s nothing funny about that chorus, which splits the difference between silly and sincere with aplomb. -Jamieson Cox

Miguel, “Simplethings”

Listen up, Hannah Horvath: according to this smoked-out contribution to the official Girls soundtrack, the rising R&B star loves you just the way you are. -Nolan Feeney

Girls Generation, “Mr. Mr.”

Fans of K-pop juggernaut Girls’ Generation (a.k.a. SNSD) won’t be disappointed by their latest dance-friendly single, and the addition of a scratchy electronic bass line and a hint of darkness should even attract listeners who don’t dig their usual bubblegum sound. -Lily Rothman

Mariah Carey, “Make It Look Good”

On this cut from the Elusive Chanteuse’s 14th studio album, Carey navigates a stuttering, soulful arrangement with her typical vocal agility and lyrical dexterity. Time may have shaved a few notes from the top of her infamous range, but they’re hardly missed here: this is timeless, sweet pop, perfect for summers spent falling in love. -Jamieson Cox

Sia, “Chandelier”

Largely known for her collaborations with other pop artists, “Chandelier,” from the upcoming album 1000 Forms of Fear, marks Sia’s first solo track in five years. Yet the song — with its trippy percussion groove that swells into an explosive chorus — is a clear signal that Sia The Solo Act has arrived. The mesmerizing video also features a dance routine performed by 11-year-old Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler, who now rivals Alyson Stoner (aka the girl from Missy Elliott’s videos) for Best Child Dancer in a Pop Video. -Megan Gibson

Michael Jackson, “Love Never Felt So Good”

Built around an excavated 1983 vocal demo and co-written by pop legend Paul Anka, the anchor of Jackson’s latest posthumous collection Xscape comes in three flavours: a pure, unadorned original demo, a string-studded disco rendition, and a bouncing duet with reigning pop prince Justin Timberlake. The arrangements vary, but Jackson’s incredible performance makes all of them float: swooping, swooning, simply joyous. -Jamieson Cox

Against Me!, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

The title track off the Florida punks’ rollicking new album offers an affecting account of frontwoman Laura Jane Grace’s struggles with her gender identity. -Nolan Feeney

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Kelly”

This deep cut from the Brooklyn indie pop group’s third full-length Days of Abandon is delicate and fluffy, like a perfect meringue. Vocalist Jen Goma rides an airy beat and finds herself swallowed by infatuation by the song’s close; this is the sound of rocks at the bedroom window, hushed phone calls in the dark, the perfect teen romance everyone dreams about. -Jamieson Cox

Schoolboy Q, "Break The Bank"

On his debut album Oxymoron, Schoolboy Q proved his skills behind the microphone and his ability to rat-a-tat out verses with the best of them. On “Break the Bank,” he makes it look easy to churn out a banger without relying on club-worthy beats. The Alchemist-produced track is a head-rocking, hard-knocking anthem driven forward on a flow of fiery verses. -Melissa Locker

Real Estate, “Talking Backwards”

The New Jersey indie pop crew grew up with Atlas, their wistful, autumnal third full-length; this was its lead single, which coasts along on Matt Mondanile’s golden guitar lead. A meditation on disconnection, memory, and maturity, it’s proof that getting older doesn’t have to mean becoming boring. -Jamieson Cox

Lykke Li, “No Rest for the Wicked”

Wistful and haunting, the gorgeous first single from Lykke Li’s third album I Never Learn is, if anything, a lesson in heartbreak. Though the lyrics are undeniably bleak -—”Lonely I, I’m so alone now” — the uplifting strings, crashing drums and Li’s own stirring vocals give “No Rest for the Wicked” a defiant, rather than defeated, energy. -Megan Gibson

Todd Terje, “Delorean Dynamite”

Terje, a Norwegian DJ with a name nicked from a legendary American house producer, capped off a recent string of excellent singles this spring with his debut album, It’s Album Time. This song is the best of his new material, a churning electronic odyssey that speeds towards its climax like a robot gone rogue. -Jamieson Cox

Indiana, "Solo Dancing"

Enigmatic Nottingham-based singer-songwriter Indiana's single "Solo Dancing" is the year's most hypnotic pop record, a pulsating Italo Disco-inflected bit of club candy. But while the production is straightforward, the subject matter is just ambiguous enough to up the sex appeal. -Sam Lansky

Future featuring Pusha T and Pharrell Williams, “Move That Dope”

Pharrell is everywhere these days, but the drug dealers’ anthem would be fine without the “Happy” hitmaker thanks to Mike WiLL Made It’s woozy, outer-space beat. -Nolan Feeney

The 8 Cutest Hedgehogs on the Internet

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 11:18 AM PDT

The video game starring Sonic The Hedgehog may be the most well-known hedgehog. But today, the Associated Press published a trend piece about the growing popularity of hedgehogs as pets, specifically adult African pygmy hedgehogs, which can boast 6,000 quills and fit in the palm of your hand. Their button noses and tiny hands and feet have made them stars on the Internet, so NewsFeed has rounded up the most popular ones. Try not to overdose on squee-ing.

Check Out This Bear Just Chillin’ in a Backyard Hammock

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 11:15 AM PDT

Thanks to Yogi Bear, visitors to Jellystone Park know to guard their lunch bags from tie-wearing hangry bears, but no one warned Florida home owners that their hammocks might be prime bear snoozing spots. Consider yourself warned, Florida.

Bears are known for hibernating throughout the winter, but even in the clement Florida weather, a black bear needed a nap after an exhausting afternoon spent ransacking trash cans, raiding bird feeders and frightening residents of a Daytona Beach neighborhood. Instead of heading home for a snooze, the enormous bear chose to clamber into homeowner Vincent James’s backyard hammock for a little siesta. “He got in the hammock like he was a tourist or something,” James told WESH, a local news station. The bear hung around for about 20 minutes until, according to James, “something spooked him and he ran.” Apparently the hammock was a very comfortable spot for a nap, though, because the bear returned half an hour later for another go-round in the hammock.

No word on whether the bear brought snacks with him.

[Via WESH]

MORE: Studies Show Cat People Are Smarter Than Dog People

MORE: Here's How a Two-Legged Cat Gets Down the Stairs

Ex-Charlotte Mayor to Plead Guilty in Corruption Case

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 11:12 AM PDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon is expected to plead guilty in federal court Tuesday on a public corruption charge related to his March arrest.

Documents filed Monday at U.S. District Court in Charlotte say Cannon has agreed to enter a guilty plea to a single count of honest services wire fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Cannon is set to appear in federal court Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer.

Cannon was arrested March 26 and accused of accepting more than $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen who wanted to do work with North Carolina’s largest city. The Democrat resigned the same day, less than six months after taking office.

Apple Unveils New Operating System Dubbed “Yosemite”

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:48 AM PDT

Apple today unveiled the next version of its Mac OS X operating system. The new release, called OS X Yosemite after the famed national park, includes a largely redesigned user interface more closely aligned with the look of its mobile iOS software.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s software engineering chief, took the stage of the firm’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference to show off the software. The new version, which features a sharper, flatter look, is more similar to the iOS software that runs on iPhones and iPads than any previous version of the Mac operating system.

OS X Yosemite also includes a "Dark Mode" that minimizes the translucency effect and introduces a darker color palette. Executives previewed changes to the software’s Notification Center, Spotlight search, Maps, Calendar, Messages, and Safari web browser.

A system dubbed “continuity” is intended to allow iOS devices and Macs to communicate seamlessly. A user can, for example, begin composing an email on an iPhone and automatically finish writing it on a nearby desktop computer. The system can also be used to place and answer phone calls and text messages that come to a phone on a nearby computer.

To show off the feature, Federighi placed a call from his desktop to new Apple employee Dr. Dre. “How you doing this is Dre,” said the rapper who is joining the company as part of a $3 billion deal for headphone-maker Beats Electronics. “Thanks for creating such amazing apps,” he said. “Say, what time should I show up for work?”

Apple made a developer preview available to conference attendees today. It will be available for free to all users this fall.

NFL Launches Effort to Change Locker-Room Culture

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:47 AM PDT

The NFL kicked off its effort Monday to reform locker-room culture, with representatives from the league’s human resources team and a group of retired player “ambassadors” set to visit each team to kickstart conversations with players after a bullying incident raised pitched questions.

The hour-long sessions will include talks from values-based-leadership speaker Dov Seidman and former player Wade Davis, who came out as gay after retiring Sports Illustrated reports. Davis recently spoke with the Rams organizations after they drafted Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft.

The mandatory sessions come after Jonathan Martin quit the Miami Dolphins over allegations of hazing and bullying, particularly by Richie Incognito. The scandal sparked demands from both inside and outside the NFL that the league do something to eradicate—or at the very least minimize—discrimination and bullying among the players.

Read more at Sports Illustrated

Oliver Stone Will Direct Film on Edward Snowden

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:38 AM PDT

Filmmaker Oliver Stone will direct a movie about the experiences of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked troves of documents about American surveillance activities.

The film, produced by longtime Stone partner Moritz Borman, will be based on "The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Want Man," by Guardian journalist Luke Harding, the Guardian reports. Snowden leaked the documents to Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald in June 2013.

The film would be Stone's latest take on a contemporary political issue after pictures like W. and Nixon, and is likely to spawn plenty of controversy.

“This is one of the greatest stories of our time,” Stone said in a statement. Shooting is scheduled to begin before the end of the year.

[The Guardian]

Peru Postpones Coca Crop Destruction

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

(LIMA, Peru) — Peru’s president says he is indefinitely postponing plans to forcibly eradicate coca fields in the world’s top cocaine-producing valley.

President Ollanta Humala’s announcement in a televised interview Sunday night came a week after he fired his drug czar, Carmen Masias.

She had announced in January that a militarized eradication effort — half-funded by the United States — would begin this year in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantauro river valley.

Critics said that strategy would only help drug-funded Shining Path rebels based in the region turn its coca-growers against authorities, with violent results. Coca is the remote valley’s lone cash crop and growers have already mounted protests and threatened resistance.

Humala said that while he is not ruling out forced eradication in the valley, he wants to first try crop substitution, led by the Agriculture Ministry.

An estimated 12,000 families live off coca in the valley, where authorities say more than 300 labs produce semi-refined cocaine, most of it destined for Europe. The government says 54 percent of Peru’s coca crop is produced in the area.

Humala said his government would spend $214 million on roads in the valley to help farmers get alternative crops to market.

He has not explained why he replaced Masias with Luis Alberto Otorola, a former defense minister.

Humala, a former army officer, said that coca eradication would continue elsewhere, but the government scaling back its eradication target for 2014 to 23,000 hectares (90 square miles). Masias had told international media in January that Humala was pressuring her to eradicate 40,000 hectares (150 square miles) of coca this year, 30 percent more than the original target.

Peru has been the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer since 2012, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, while the United Nations says its coca crop supplanted Colombia’s.

Humala made antinarcotics efforts a priority when he took office in 2011 and Peru cut its area under coca cultivation to 241 square miles (62,500 hectares) in 2012, a decrease of 3.4 percent from the previous year, according to the U.N.

U.S. counterdrug assistance to Peru doubled last year to $100 million, half of Washington’s total assistance to the country.


Associated Press writer Frank Bajak contributed to this report.

Egyptian Satire Show Won’t Be Coming Back, Host Says

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 10:19 AM PDT

Bassem Youssef, the host of a canceled Egyptian satirical program often compared to Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, says he will not try and continue El-Bernameg given Egypt’s political and media climate.

“The environment that we live in is not suitable for the show and I am tired and we are at the end of our tether,” Youssef said during a news conference Monday, Ahram Online reports. “To those who are happy the show stopped: I tell them that the stopping of El-Bernameg is a victory for us.”

The third season of the show was originally scheduled to return last Friday following a mandatory hiatus imposed during the country’s presidential election to prevent influencing the vote. The cancelation is the second one for the show, which was dropped from Egyptian satellite channel CBC last October before resuming in February on the Saudi channel MBC Misr.

Youssef said the team behind his show—which drew about 8.3 million viewers in Egypt, according to the polling agency Baseera—believes it’s better to call it quits than to carry on the program in another format or another country and risk harming its integrity.

Authorities accused Youssef in February of insulting the government and the people of Egypt, and prosecutors are reportedly considering 30 complains filed against the host since November. Prior to that, he faced a federal probe under former deposed President Mohammed Morsi over accusations of insulting the president and Islam.

[Ahram Online]


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