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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Here’s What It Feels Like to Ride the World’s Tallest Water Slide

Here’s What It Feels Like to Ride the World’s Tallest Water Slide


Here’s What It Feels Like to Ride the World’s Tallest Water Slide

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:07 AM PDT

At 17 stories high — or, more precisely, 168 feet and 7 inches — the Verrückt water slide in Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark is the world’s tallest.

Verrückt, fittingly, is German for crazy or insane. Wondering what it would be like to take a ride on this monster? The point-of-view video above — recorded by strapping a camera to a sandbag — should give you a taste. Hopefully this video will tide you over until you can try it for yourself, for the opening of the ride has been delayed “several times” due to technical glitches, according to CNN.

Watergate as Seen Through Eyes of Dick Cavett Show

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:06 AM PDT

NEW YORK — PBS is marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation by running a documentary on the Watergate scandal as seen through the prism of Dick Cavett’s late-night talk show at the time.

People with memories of Watergate remember developments unfolding on the evening news or the gripping Senate hearings shown on daytime TV, but fewer recall that Cavett’s ABC program featured appearances by an array of pivotal figures. Even the former host.

“I didn’t remember how much there was,” Cavett told The Associated Press on Monday. “I watched some of it the other day and they were new to me.”

From 1972 to 1974, Cavett interviewed many major Watergate figures, including Nixon aides John Ehrlichman, Alexander Haig, G. Gordon Liddy and Jeb Magruder, as well as several members of the Senate committee investigating the case. Cavett’s show even taped a special edition from the room where the Senate hearings were held.

The documentary “Dick Cavett’s Watergate” features fresh interviews with reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, former Nixon aide John Dean and Cavett. PBS announced Tuesday it would air Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. EDT — 40 years to the hour after Nixon announced to the nation that he was quitting.

“I had no choice” but to spend time on it, Cavett, 77, recalled. “It was just the most fascinating thing in the world.”

Cavett’s coverage didn’t earn him friends in high places. He’s mentioned in Nixon’s infamous White House tapes some 26 times, including once when the president mused aloud in colorful language about ways the government could get back at him. Cavett later learned that virtually every member of his program’s staff had their tax returns audited.

“It’s a strange feeling to see the most powerful man in the world, not yet a criminal one, denouncing you,” he said. “It’s kind of a creepy feeling.”

He had no explanation for why so many members of the administration came on his show, since he was clearly no friend. A clip of an Ehrlichman appearance shows the Nixon aide looking at Cavett with barely disguised contempt. In one passage, the just-confirmed Vice President Gerald Ford tells Cavett that based on the evidence he’d been shown, he saw no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the White House.

Cavett asked Ford in 1979, after he’d left the presidency, if he felt he’d been duped. “I got a raw deal,” Ford replied.

Yet the program also shows how the passage of time changes opinions. Former Washington Post reporter Bernstein was furious when Ford pardoned Nixon, yet decades later he sees the wisdom in that decision, said John Scheinfeld, the documentary’s producer.

Scheinfeld, who produced a well-regarded theatrical documentary on the U.S. government’s pursuit of John Lennon, was brought in by Robert Bader, who has combed through Cavett’s tapes for various projects. Scheinfeld said the Cavett tapes provided an interesting way to get inside an oft-told tale.

“We’re not just regurgitating things that everyone knows,” he said. “There’s a freshness to it.”

Cavett’s low ratings at the time didn’t make him popular with ABC executives. His concentration on Watergate probably didn’t help — competitor Johnny Carson had Charo as a guest the night Cavett did his show from the Senate hearing room — but Cavett said he was shielded from most of what the network was saying about him.

It’s a far different late-night world today. A Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert may have talked about Watergate, but it’s difficult to imagine any non-news program investing in the time Cavett used for conversations in those days.

He doesn’t necessarily view that as a point of pride.

“If anything, the fact that we’re a country that elected a man to the presidency why, by right, should have been in striped pajamas if Gerald Ford hadn’t pardoned him, is kind of shameful for everybody,” Cavett said.

NASA Delays Climate Change Satellite Launch

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:02 AM PDT

NASA’s aborted its launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite on Tuesday due to equipment failure, delaying the takeoff until Wednesday, pending a review of the incident.

The carbon dioxide monitoring project was scrubbed at T-46 seconds when engineers noticed that the water suppression system, used to dampen the launch pad’s acoustic energy during the rocket’s launch, had failed, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. If troubleshooting permits a second attempt, the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying OCO-2 will re-launch on Wednesday at 2:56 a.m. PDT at the Space Launch Complex-2 of Vandenberg Air Force Station, Calif.

The original OCO mission had crashed in 2009, when the rocket carrying the first satellite failed after takeoff to eject the payload fairing, a heavy cover that prevented the launch vehicle from achieving a high enough velocity to enter orbit.

In addition to monitoring the rocket’s mechanical functions, the OCO-2′s launch process must be finely calibrated to allow the satellite to achieve a perfect orbiting position in sync with five other Earth observing satellites. Thus, OCO-2 has only a 30 second window to launch. If missed — as was the case — NASA permits re-launches on succeeding nights.

OCO-2 will be NASA’s first mission to study the global carbon cycle.

 

Now There Are Instant Coffee Pods for Beer

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:57 AM PDT

It sounds like a beer lover’s fantasy: all around the country, everyone could have beer dispensers on their kitchen counters next to their coffee machines, spouting cold bitter brews into eager glasses throughout the day.

But this is for real. SYNEK—a St. Louis startup that just launched its Kickstarter campaign last month—is creating a draft system that serves beer fresh from the tap even if you’re miles from the nearest bar.

The startup is signing on local breweries who put their beer in SYNEK bags, which have a long shelf life and can be transported relatively easily. The bags are then put into a dispenser that looks a little like a toaster-oven-sized coffee machine and plugs into the wall. Consumers can then serve beer wherever there is a dispenser.

Steve Young, SYNEK’s 28-year-old founder, says that his company will make it cheaper to ship beer to consumers without worrying about the headaches of bottling, and increase profit margins for craft breweries.

The machine pressurizes using carbon dioxide, and allows users to adjust SYNEK’s temperature. Beers by brewers including Harpoon Brewery, Schmaltz Beer Company and dozens of others are available through SYNEK already.

Young seeking $250,000 through Kickstarter by the end of July. Backers who pledge $299 get the dispenser along with 5 to 10 bags.

How the Best People Handle Setbacks and Criticism

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:56 AM PDT


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Executive Coach Mark Thompson shares lessons from America’s most successful executives on how to gracefully survive a professional drubbing.

When it became clear this spring that Alan Mulally, Ford’s CEO, wasn’t going to be selected for the top spot at Microsoft, the software company’s stock took a hit. You might think Mulally’s ego would take one, too. As it happens, he took it in stride. (Ford showed their love by awarding him another $14 million in stock for the company’s prior year’s performance. And now that he’s announced his retirement this summer, there’s an epic line of companies hungry to recruit him.)

Mulally wasn’t always in so much demand or as sanguine in the face of rejection. When Mulally was Boeing’s president, it was widely expected that he would be made CEO after a decade of successes at the company. He lead the development of the 777 and shepherded the aircraft maker through a vibrant recovery from the financial wounds inflicted by 9/11 (the terrorists used a Boeing 757 and 767s in the attack).

Mulally admits that when Boeing passed him over for the job, he was briefly devastated. But he quickly recovered because, he says, “a bad attitude simply erases everyone else’s memory of the incredible progress achieved.” He did not want to tarnish all “the great progress we had made” by becoming that bitter guy. He chose, instead, to remain a proud and gifted leader – albeit one who had suffered a professional setback. He was promptly recruited by Ford to re-ignite another iconic American manufacturer.

Legendary leaders like Mulally have three coping mechanisms that help them get through times when criticism, failure or disappointment threaten to rob the mojo that made them successful in the first place.

  1. Just let it go! Anyone who’s spent time with Mulally has inevitably heard that signature catchphrase. When I asked how he felt about being slighted by bosses during various turns in his career, he took a long, deep breath and exhaled as deliberately as a yoga instructor. “The competition is out there,” he advised, looking peacefully out the window from his Dearborn, Michigan, office. “Not in here.” Don’t let anyone else’s opinion define who you are going to be.
  2. Turn your wounds into wisdom. When Charles ‘Chuck’ Schwab flunked English and was nearly thrown out of college, he said he was “humiliated because I had always thought I was a reasonably smart guy and I didn’t realize how pathetic I was at the skill of reading and writing.” Schwab recruited friends and family to help him deliver the goods in school. His reading and writing troubles, he would later discover, were, and still are, the result of dyslexia. “It might seem odd,” said Schwab, “but what felt like a deficit was a real benefit.” His reading disability taught him how to recruit a talented, trustworthy team and forced him to become a skilled delegator. Ultimately, those skills enabled him to scale a business much sooner than most of his classmates at Stanford Business School. “Brilliant entrepreneurs think they can do everything, and they don’t spend enough time finding the right people to grow the business,” he shrugged. Failure teaches life’s most important lessons if you’re smart and brave enough to listen.
  3. Face the brutal truth. Criticism usually hurts most when it’s true. Learn to suck it up and face the music. I’ve been on many Silicon Valley boards, including Rioport, the San Jose startup credited for having popularized the mp3 player long before Apple’s iPod. The battle for digital content was in full swing (Remember Napster?!) and we felt full of ourselves because we were actually making real money selling thousands of the newfangled media devices. I was bragging about all this during a speech in Silicon Valley when Steve Jobs wandered up to the front of the room. He smirked at me and said our hot little gadget was a “geeky piece of crap” and that he’d “crush it in about year.” All I wanted to do in that moment was to hit the arrogant SOB in the face with my handheld microphone. I’d just mortgaged my house and was about to invest the proceeds in Rioport. Then there was this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. He was right, and he knew it – and if I was honest, I knew it, too. The brutal truth was that Rioport was a quality product and an awesome step forward in the digital revolution, but frankly those features weren’t enough to overcome the fact that it was way too hard for the masses to use. I spent the following year having a series of dinners with Steve, soaking up his vision for digital media. The good news is that I invested those mortgage proceeds in Apple stock rather than that long-forgotten, but visionary startup. As Alan Mulally often counsels “Winners learn quickly how to get out of their own way.”

 

Envoy Says Iraq Can’t Wait for US Military Aid

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:52 AM PDT

WASHINGTON — Iraq is increasingly turning to other governments like Iran, Russia and Syria to help beat back a rampant insurgency because it cannot wait for additional American military aid, Baghdad’s top envoy to the U.S. said Tuesday.

Such alliances underscore that the Obama administration risks seeing some of its main global opponents join forces. That could also solidify a Shiite-led crescent across much of the Mideast at a time when the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq is trying to create an Islamic State through the region.

Ambassador Lukman Faily stopped short of describing enduring military relationships with any of the other nations that are offering to help counter the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And he said Baghdad would prefer to partner with the U.S. above all other countries.

But Faily said delays in U.S. aid have forced Iraq to seek help elsewhere. He also called on the U.S. to launch targeted airstrikes as a “crucial” step against the insurgency. So far, the Obama administration has resisted airstrikes in Iraq but has not ruled them out.

“Time is not on our side,” Faily told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “Further delay only benefits the terrorists.”

The Pentagon announced Monday it is sending another 300 troops to Iraq to increase security at the U.S. Embassy and elsewhere in the Baghdad area to protect U.S. citizens and property. That raises the total U.S. troop presence in Iraq to about 750.

Obama has ruled out sending combat troops back into Iraq. He said the extra troops will stay in Iraq until security improves so that the reinforcements are no longer needed.

“The presence of these additional forces will help enable the embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” the Pentagon’s press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said in a written statement.

The State Department, meanwhile, announced that it was temporarily moving an unspecified “small number” of embassy staff in Baghdad to U.S. consulates in the northern city of Irbil and the southern city of Basra. This is in addition to some embassy staff moved out of Baghdad earlier this month,

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Baghdad embassy “will be fully equipped to carry out” its mission.

Chaos in Baghdad continued to grow Tuesday as minority Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the first session of the newly seated parliament, dashing hopes for the quick formation of a new government that could hold the country together in the face of a militant blitz.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said more than 2,400 people were killed in Iraq in June, making it the deadliest month in the country in years and laying bare the danger posed by the militants who have overrun large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Faily, noting international bans on Iranian military sales, said Iraq is mostly seeking Tehran’s advice on how to combat ISIL — a foe that Iran has faced in Syria’s civil war. ISIL is one of a number of Sunni-led groups that have been fighting for three years to force President Bashar Assad from power. Assad is an Alawite, a religious sect that is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Faily said Baghdad would be willing to work with the Syrian government to control the border between the two nations, and keep it from falling into ISIL’s hands.

And he said Russia’s fighter jets and pilots have been willing to fill Iraq’s air support needs.

He said the deadly battle with ISIL has forces leaders in Baghdad to take whatever aid is available most quickly.

“That choice is primarily from the need, rather than the desire,” Faily said.

__

AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.

 

Here’s More Proof That Apps Are Dominating Smartphones

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:48 AM PDT

Here's a shocker: we're all using mobile apps more than ever before. A new study from Nielsen shows that app usage among iPhone and Android users in the U.S. rose 65 percent from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013. Smartphone users spent a total of 30 hours and 15 minutes per month using apps in the last quarter of 2013, up from 23 hours and two minutes the year prior.

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Nielsen

Despite the increased time spent using apps, users aren't downloading too many more programs. The number of apps used per month inched up only slightly, from 26.5 in Q4 2012 to 26.8 in Q4 2013, indicating that people are getting more mileage out of the apps already crowding their home screens — or people are swapping older apps for new ones that perform similar tasks.

People spend about third of their time in apps using search engines, web portals or social networks, per Nielsen. Entertainment apps are nearly as popular, with communications apps being the third most-used.

The growing popularity of apps indicates these dedicated programs have begun gaining the upper hand over the mobile web. Huge Internet companies like Facebook initially resisted focusing on apps, instead hoping to create dynamic websites designed with HTML5 that could adapt to a wide variety of operating systems and web browsers. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg later admitted this was a huge strategic mistake. The company has since spun off different Facebook functions into independent apps such as Messenger and Paper on top of the primary Facebook app.

Palestinian Militants Fire More Rockets at Israel

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:40 AM PDT

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says Gaza militants have fired five more rockets at southern Israel.

Tuesday’s rocket fire comes shortly after Israel buried three teenagers who were abducted in the West Bank nearly three weeks ago.

The army says no one was hurt by the rocket fire. But it adds to already heightened tensions between Israel and the Hamas militant group.

Israel has accused Hamas of being behind the deadly abductions, and it has been carrying out nightly airstrikes in Hamas-controlled Gaza in response to repeated rocket fire.

In all, the army says 10 rockets have been fired at Israel on Tuesday.

Waffle House Boycotts Belgian Waffles in World Cup Solidarity

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:37 AM PDT

The United States has a new World Cup ally against Belgium: Waffle House.

In advance of Team USA’s Tuesday match against Belgium, the breakfast chain has gone to extensive lengths on Twitter to clarify that they do not—and will not—serve Belgian waffles.

The patriotic message was retweeted over 17,000 times as of this writing. And the Georgia-based restaurant chain did not stop there, continuing to tweet clarifications that they have never served Belgian waffles. It’s also cheering along the American soccer team ahead of its do-or-die match.

Waffle House was not alone in denying any Belgian connection. Beer company Budweiser, which is owned by a company based in Belgium, tweeted a video featuring an American bald eagle and a cheerleader in red, white and blue.

America faces off against Belgium in Brazil at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Monica Lewinsky: Starr Report Aftermath Was ‘Violation After Violation’

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

After more than a decade of mostly hiding from the public eye, Monica Lewinksy has decided it’s time to "time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress” and start telling her side of a story that dominated headlines for months in the late 1990s.

In her first television interview since 2003, Lewinsky opened up about what it was like living in the wake of the Starr Report, which investigated a series of scandals involving the Clinton White House — including allegations that President Bill Clinton had oral sex with Lewinsky while she was a White House intern.

“I was a virgin to humiliation of that level, until that day,” she said in an upcoming National Geographic documentary called The 90s: The Last Great Decade. “To have my narrative ripped from me, and turned into the Starr report, and things that were turned over or things they delved out of my computer that I thought were deleted. I mean it was just violation after violation.”

A Today Show segment featuring a sneak peek of her interview showed Lewinsky discussing the sexism she faced as well.

“To be called stupid, and a slut, and a bimbo, and ditzy, and to be taken out of context, it was excruciating,” she said.

The interview follows the publication of an impassioned essay Lewinsky wrote for Vanity Fair in May that discussed what it was like to survive in a culture of humiliation.

The 90s: The Last Great Decade premieres Sunday, July 6 at 9 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel.

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