Saturday, August 16, 2014

Now We Know How This Giant, Earth-Bound Asteroid Is Held Together, We Can Learn How to Destroy It

Now We Know How This Giant, Earth-Bound Asteroid Is Held Together, We Can Learn How to Destroy It

Now We Know How This Giant, Earth-Bound Asteroid Is Held Together, We Can Learn How to Destroy It

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 10:32 AM PDT

An asteroid pointed toward Earth set to arrive in the year 2880 AD may not destroy all life as we know it after all, now that scientists know what’s likely not to work if we need to avert a collision.

Scientists at the University of Tennessee have discovered new cohesive forces that hold giant asteroids together, called van der Waals, that have brought scientists closer to understanding destructive asteroids that threaten to hit Earth.

The discovery could rule out previous methods scientists have proposed for dealing with rogue asteroids.

Previous research has shown that asteroids, which are loose piles of rubble, are held together by gravity. But scientists have now found that some asteroids—like the massive 1950 DA, which could smash into Earth in 2880—are spinning too quickly and defy the force of gravity, and would simply fall apart were they not held together by other means.

"We found that 1950 DA is rotating faster than the breakup limit for its density," said Ben Rozitis, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee. "So if just gravity were holding this rubble pile together, as is generally assumed, it would fly apart. Therefore, interparticle cohesive forces must be holding it together."

The presence of cohesive forces in massive, life-threatening asteroids means that colliding a large object against the incoming asteroid could actually worsen the impact’s effect, potentially destabilizing the cohesive forces keeping the asteroid together and breaking it into several large asteroids headed for Earth.

That means destroying incoming asteroids with rockets a la the 1979 video game Asteroids may be a no-go. No word yet on the Armageddon (1998) solution, which involved burying a massive nuclear warhead below the surface of the Asteroid.

The asteroid 1950 DA is believed to have a 1-in-300 chance of striking Earth in the year 2880. If it does, scientists believe it would wipe out life on Earth and cause tsunamis and mass extinction.

‘Massacre’ in Iraq as Strikes Hit Near Key Dam

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 09:52 AM PDT

IRBIL, Iraq — Islamic extremists in Iraq killed 80 Yazidi men and abducted their wives and children, officials and eyewitnesses said Saturday, insisting the religious community is still at risk after a week of U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes on the militants.

Airstrikes meanwhile targeted insurgents around Iraq’s largest dam, which was captured by the Islamic State extremist group earlier this month, according to nearby residents. It was not immediately clear who carried out the strikes.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes against the Islamic State extremist group a week ago, in part to prevent the massacre of tens of thousands of Yazidis stranded on a northern mountaintop. After most were able to escape with the help of Kurdish fighters, President Barack Obama took credit for alleviating the threat of genocide.

But on Friday afternoon Islamic State fighters who had surrounded the nearby village of Kocho 12 days ago, demanding its Yazidi residents convert or die, moved in.

The militants took the men away in groups of a few dozen and shot them dead with assault rifles on the edge of the village, according to a wounded man who escaped by feigning death.

The fighters then walked among the bodies, finishing off any who appeared to still be alive with their pistols, the 42-year-old man told the Associated Press by phone from an area where he was hiding out. He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for his safety.

“They thought we were dead, and when they went away, we ran away. We hid in a valley until sundown, and then we fled to the mountains,” he said.

A Yazidi lawmaker, a Kurdish security official and an Iraqi official from the nearby city of Sinjar gave similar accounts, saying Islamic State fighters had massacred scores of Yazidi men Friday afternoon after seizing Kocho.

All said they based their information on the accounts of survivors and warned that the minority group remains in danger despite the U.S. intervention. Their accounts matched those of two other Yazidi men, Qassim Hussein and Nayef Jassem, who said they spoke to other survivors.

The Yazidis are a centuries-old religious minority viewed as apostates by the extremist Islamic State group, which has claimed mass killings of its opponents in Syria and Iraq, often posting grisly photos on the Internet.

Yazidi lawmaker Mahma Khalil said the Yazidis in Kocho were given the choice to convert or die. “When the residents refused to do this, the massacre took place,” he said.

Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman for Kurdish security forces, said the militants took the women and children of Kocho to the nearby city of Tal Afar, which is controlled by the Islamic State group.

Elsewhere in northern Iraq, residents living near the Mosul Dam told The Associated Press that the area was being targeted by airstrikes, but it was not immediately clear whether the attacks were being carried out by Iraq’s air force or the United States.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the Defense Department, for the safety and security of American personnel, would not discuss reports of ongoing or future operations. Iraqi military spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.

The extremist group seized the dam on the Tigris River on Aug. 7. Residents near the dam say the airstrikes killed militants, but that could not immediately be confirmed. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity out of fears for their safety.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when the Islamic State group earlier this month captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border.

The plight of the Yazidis, tens of thousands of whom were stranded on a desert mountaintop for days, encircled by the Islamic extremists, prompted U.S. and Iraqi forces to launch aid drops. It also contributed to the U.S. decision to launch airstrikes against the militants, who were advancing on the Kurdish regional capital Irbil.

Most of those Yazidis were eventually able to escape to Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region with the help of Kurdish fighters, and on Thursday Obama said Americans should be proud of the U.S. efforts to save them.

“We broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety and we helped save many innocent lives.” Obama said, speaking from his vacation spot in Edgartown, Massachusetts. He was referring to the extremist group by its earlier acronym.

But the Islamic State group remains in control of vast swaths of northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, and the scale of the humanitarian crisis prompted the U.N. to declare its highest level of emergency earlier this week.

Some 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting since the Islamic State group’s rapid advance across northern and western Iraq began in June.

The decision to launch airstrikes marked the first direct U.S. military intervention in Iraq since the last troops withdrew in 2011, and reflected growing international concern about the extremist group.

On Saturday, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said it deployed a U.S.-made spy plane over northern Iraq to monitor the humanitarian crisis and movements of Islamic State militants. It said the converted Boeing KC-135 tanker, called a Rivet Joint, would monitor mobile phone calls and other communication.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Baghdad on Saturday, where he announced his government would provide more than 24 million euros ($32.2 million) in humanitarian aid to Iraq.

“The first German air force planes are flying to Irbil at this moment to deliver humanitarian aid,” Steinmeier said in a joint press conference with Iraq’s acting Foreign Minister Hussein Shahristani.

“In the current situation where minorities, especially in northern Iraq, are expelled and murdered, where children are orphaned and women are enslaved, humanitarian aid is extremely important.”

Two British planes also landed Saturday in the Kurdish regional capital Irbil carrying humanitarian supplies.

But Khalil, the Yazidi lawmaker, said the U.S. must do more to protect those fleeing the Islamic State group.

“We have been calling on the U.S. administration and Iraqi government to intervene and help the innocent people, but it seems that nobody is listening,” Khalil said.


Louisville ‘Purge’ Fails to Materialize

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 09:29 AM PDT

Police in Louisville, Ky. are investigating a teenager accused of starting a “Purge” rumor in the city, a copycat of the eponymous movie in which everyone in the country is allowed to commit any crime for 12 hours with impunity.

A flier circulated on social media proposed a “purge” in Louisville this weekend, but city police said they did not see a higher crime rate on Friday. A higher rate of anonymous tips was reported, but police said locals went about their business as usual despite the threats of violence.

The flier drew the attention of the FBI, local police departments and Jefferson County Public Schools, and some high school football games were reportedly canceled. Police officials announced law enforcement was keeping vigilant, but didn’t specify what tactics it was employing, WKYT reports.

The extra caution came after flash mobs were linked to at least 17 assaults and robberies in the city in the spring. “Due to circumstances that have trended nationally in regards to flash mob violence, in light of what occurred this past spring here, we realize that these things can occur in an instance,” said Louisville Police Sgt. Phil Russell. The police said they had already planned to increase patrols this weekend due to a state fair.

The Purge, which was released in June 2013, posits a futuristic America where all crime is made legal for 12 hours every year to “purge” the population of illegal behavior. So far it has spawned nothing more threatening than a sequel, released in July.


MMA Fighter ‘War Machine’ Captured After Weeklong Manhunt

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Jonathan Koppenhaver, a mixed martial-arts fighter from California known as "War Machine," was arrested Friday after a weeklong manhunt sparked by the alleged beating of his porn star ex-girlfriend.

Koppenhaver, 32, was found in a hotel in Simi Valley, 30 miles outside downtown Los Angeles, where a hotel guest who witnessed the arrest told local media station KTLA that officers used a Taser on Koppenhaver. A second hotel guest said she called the police to the hotel after seeing a large man yelling at a petite woman who was trying to calm him down, grabbing her hair and pushing her.

Christy Mack, Koppenhaver’s ex-girlfriend and an actress in the adult entertainment industry, posted harrowing pictures on Twitter showing the injuries she said were dealt to her by Koppenhaver. They include broken bones around her eyes, a broken bone, missing teeth, a fractured rib and a ruptured liver, Mack said.

Mack said Koppenhaver returned to her home after their relationship ended in May, beat her friend who was with her at the time, then made her undress and shower in front of him before he assaulted her.

Koppenhaver posted his own defense on Twitter.

He has been charged with several counts of battery, including by strangulation, as well as assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges.



10 Tips Every Introvert Should Know

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 09:00 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on Refinery 29

Lately, we've been talking a lot about what it means to be an introvert, kicking off with Susan Cain's landmark book Quiet and culminating most recently in a New York Timesop-ed debunking the Myers-Briggs personality test (which may be the reason, flawed or not, that many people self-identify as introverts in the first place).

But, as much play as the topic of introversion has been getting, the original (though perhaps whispered) war cry of wallflowers everywhere hasn't seen much action. That’s right, we're still not talking much about simply being shy. And, maybe we should be.

"Being shy and being introverted are not necessarily one and the same thing," says Harvard-trained psychotherapist and author Katherine Crowley. Shy people tend to be the observers, the listeners, and sometimes the hardest workers among us — and yet, the very qualities that make them especially valuable can hold them back.

So, what's a shy girl to do in a be-agressive, ask-for-what-you-want world, when she feels a little lost in the crowd? Well, not change dramatically, for starters. We chatted with a couple of experts to find ways for you to work within your personality type and achieve professional and personal success — and also know when to challenge yourself so that shyness doesn't hold you back. Read on for pro tips about how to speak up and stand out.

(Related: The Yes-Woman’s Guide to Being Assertive)

Learn To See Your Shyness As A Strength

Being shy is often described as a drawback, but it's actually a really valuable quality and — especially when you're a shy person who might be a little self-conscious about it — it's important to understand why.

"Shy people are very good observers, not busy being known or making sure everyone sees them, so they're usually very aware of others and good at picking up on themes in a meeting, and figuring out what other people's motivations are," says Dr. Crowley. And, this isn't just the case in the office: Shy people have an advantage in their personal lives with social groups, because they intimately understand the dynamics at play — which often allows them to avoid missteps, faux pas, and other things that less-observant people might not be aware of, so that they can set themselves up to get what they want. Plus, when they say something, people tend to actually listen, since shy people don't always assert an opinion.

Another great thing about shy people, says relationship expert and author Andrea Syrtash, is that they tend to be excellent listeners — so, people feel like they can come to you to help solve problems. And, being the person who others look to is a highly prized leadership quality that can easily work in your favor.

But Figure Out When It’s Holding You Back

Okay. We're all on the same page; being shy can be a really good thing. But, it can also be something that keeps you from being noticed, even when you're doing things that are unequivocally trophy-worthy. What to do in those cases? Determine what's holding you back and find workarounds — even if it means going out of your comfort zone.

As Dr. Crowley points out, recognition isn’t doled out based on fairness. "The reality is that shy people are often the workhorses in the office," she says. But, we live in an age where personality is king, and sometimes it's the loudest voice that gets all the attention rather than the one that’s doing most of the work.

So, here’s how you make yourself heard. First, figure out which channels make it easier for you to assert yourself, whether that's scheduling a one-on-one meeting with your boss every week to go over the progress you've made, or sending out a regular wrap-up email or to-do list.

On a personal front, you might be tempted to hold back from telling a partner how you really feel about something. Syrtash cautions against that impulse, saying that it often manifests in passive aggression that will ultimately hurt every kind of relationship. So, figure out what setting makes you most comfortable, and then be brave and try to discuss the tough stuff under those conditions.

(Related: A Hollywood Producer Dishes On How To Be Confident At Work)

Bring Back The Buddy System

Remember the days when going somewhere alone seemed like the scariest possible thing, and how adding a friend into the mix immediately helped? Well, it still works. If you won't know very many people at a social gathering or are headed to an ever-dreaded networking event (where you’re expected to mingle with unfamiliar folks and also manage a little self-promotion in the process), think about bringing the buddy system back.

Dr. Crowley says it works the same way as it did in our younger years: Knowing someone is there with you really helps to set you at ease, and a friend or colleague who knows that you might have a little bit of a tough time warming up socially is the perfect cheerleader.

Of course, this trick doesn’t totally work when it comes to dating. Whether you're out at a bar or just chilling in the park on a sunny afternoon, it's just a fact that groups are less approachable than people flying solo. So, challenge yourself to do something on your own, suggests Syrtash — but make sure you're in your literal happy place. "In spots that make you comfortable," she says," you're going to be the less shy version of yourself, giving a suitor the opportunity to swoop in and say hello."

Breathe. No, Seriously.

Yes, this might seem a little yoga-teacher-y. But music therapist Maya Benattar regularly recommends it to clients who feel a little panicky in highly visible social or professional situations. Her tips include mindfulness exercises like noticing the top of your head and the bottom of your feet, and just getting into your body. It's a good way to ground yourself in the present and remember that everything is just fine.

This works when it comes to public speaking and presenting, too. She recommends "keeping it short and sweet… and being gentle with yourself." If you know you're projecting a chilled-out persona, that will help you to feel calmer. It's a self-fulfilling cycle.

Memorize the First Rule of Improv

If you've never taken an improv class, that's okay. We're going to tell you the most memorable takeaway right here: Never ask a question that might elicit a “no.”

Why not? Because it shuts down the conversation, and that makes everyone uncomfortable (shy people especially so, because then you have to figure out how to navigate over to the next subject). This is pretty easy to master in the workplace, where it’s easier to de-personalize…but what about when it comes to dating?

Great news: Being a shy date, when you go about it the right way, can actually be an awesome experience for the other person. Lots of people have what Syrtash calls the "opera singer complex" — where everything is about "Me! Me! Me!" (say it out loud, you'll get it) — and if you pair two of these people, they’ll both walk away feeling like their date didn't put enough focus or attention on them. So, you can mask your shyness a little by asking questions, remaining curious, and really listening to the person sitting across from you while talking to them about their life and keeping the conversation going.

"Being a shy dater really allows your date to shine," she points out. But, she also cautions against asking questions all night without answering any yourself. Sure, it's good to be a little mysterious, but dating is a two-person game, not a one-way interview, and in order to make an impression you have to do more than listen: You have to share.

Know When You Have To Speak Up For Yourself

This is admittedly the toughest thing for shy people to do; but sometimes you have to have your own back to accomplish your goals. And, that can come at the cost of your own comfort.

All three of the pros interviewed for this piece emphasized that sometimes putting yourself out there is the difference between getting what you want — whether it's a promotion, a job, or the significant other of your dreams — and not. So, make a practice of knowing the best ways to make yourself stand out at work, get things off your chest with your friends, and tell your partner what's in your heart and mind. It's your job to find the microphone in the way that’s most manageable for you. You don’t have to do it all the time, but you should be able to pull it out when it matters.

(Related: The “Confidence Gap” That’s Holding Women Back)

Face Your Fears

No matter what you need to say, or to whom, sometimes you just need to face your fears. The good news is, practice makes perfect.

Because, here's the thing about shy people: They're like old-fashioned Edison bulbs. It might take some time to warm up, but once they do they burn just as brightly as anything else. Think of dealing with a tough situation as a warm-up to help you handle it when it comes around the next time. Practice, in this case, can make (almost!) perfect.

One more thing: Confidence often comes from fulfilling the commitments you make to yourself — and trusting yourself to keep the pact — so if you want to be less shy, commit to it and deliver, and you’ll become more comfortable over time.

Let Your Passion Drive You

"It's important to remember that people will connect with the intention behind your words, so if you stumble a bit when you speak, or get nervous, simply let your passion shine through,” says Benattar. "Passion doesn't need to be perfect."

How does that actually work? For one thing, try asserting yourself in situations where you already feel passionate. If you love working with animals, volunteer at a shelter with a group, where it might be easier for you to take the lead because you're doing something you care about. And, translate it to your love life by guiding plans to play to your strengths and interests. If you're doing something you enjoy instead of just sitting at a restaurant where you have to make conversation, communication will come more naturally, and the awesome parts of your personality can take center stage.

Channel Your Vacation Self When All Else Fails

This is an amazing Syrtash-ism and we love it. "When you're on vacation, you're a little more open," she says. "You're not in your head the whole time, and you tend to be more present."

Basically, you're a breezier you on vacay-mode — and why not? Suddenly, the everyday bullsh*t is suspended and you only have to think about the "now" instead of next week and the week after that. "We're not in our heads as much on vacation, and we just let things happen in the moment," she says. Vacation brain is a good thing to hold onto, when you’re trying to meet new people, especially, because it helps to offset the pressure.

An added bonus? "The next time you see someone you met as 'vacation you,' you might be comfortable enough to take a few more risks and show more of yourself." Cheers to that.

When You Need Help Get Help

Sometimes — even with a full toolkit to help you deal — shyness just holds you back and there's nothing you can do about it, even with the help of friends, coworkers, partners, and support networks. That's when it's time to call in the pros, Dr. Crowley says.

"The most important thing is to check your interpretation of reality. You might feel almost stuck inside yourself, inside of the box" — and that makes dealing with situations head-on next to impossible. In this case, you might want to explore your options for career or executive coaching, which will equip you with the skills to get out of your head and achieve your goals.

If you're not quite ready to go the coaching route, talking about your personality quirks and communication needs with friends, coworkers, or even your boss can work. If you ask for help, people are usually more than happy to come to your aid. All you need to do is take the first step, but remember: Getting past your shyness will require admitting out loud that you're shy. But, you can totally do that.

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10 Myths and Facts About Breastfeeding

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 09:00 AM PDT

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month—and while breastfeeding rates in the United States continue to rise (nearly 80% of infants born in 2011 started to breastfeed), there's still a lot that people don't know about the topic. Does it hurt? Will my child not be as smart if I don't do it?

We spoke with Kathy Mason, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, to clear up some common myths and misconceptions.

This guide is helpful for women making the decision whether to breastfeed their children—and for people tempted to comment on another woman's choice on the matter.

New moms don't make enough milk


It's true that women don't produce milk for three to five days after giving birth, but they do make a thick, concentrated liquid called colostrum—and for the first few days, that's all a newborn needs, Mason says. "Moms worry that they're not producing enough right away, but it's very normal for the baby to nurse and not take more than two teaspoons at a time." 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

It's better for baby's weight and IQ


If you aren't able to breastfeed your baby—or you decide not to—you can rest easy knowing that the beneficial effects of breast milk on babies' weight and intelligence appear to have been overstated. A 2014 Ohio State University study looked at families in which one baby was breastfed and another was fed formula and found no "breast-is-best" advantage in one child over the other. Though Mason says breast milk does have one clear advantage over formula: It contains antibodies that protect baby from infection.

It helps you shed baby weight


Moms who breastfeed burn about 300 to 500 extra calories a day compared to those who feed their babies formula, and research shows that they do tend to slim down faster. Breastfeeding also releases hormones that trigger your uterus to return to its pre-baby size and weight faster. "When the baby starts nursing you can actually feel uterine contractions as it starts to shrink," says Mason. "It's nature's way of getting your body back into shape." 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

It's normal to have difficulties


While most women should be able to breastfeed their newborns, it's not always easy: In a 2013 survey published in Pediatrics, 92% of new moms had at least one concern on their third day of breastfeeding—such as the baby not latching properly, low milk supply, or breast pain—and only 13% breastfeed exclusively for six months as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Unfortunately, we send moms home from the hospital after just two days, and the days immediately after that are the hardest ones for breastfeeding," Mason says. Women having trouble should know where to turn for advice, she adds: Most hospitals have breastfeeding support groups or offer out-patient consultations, and moms can also take advantage of the La Leche League's toll-free breastfeeding helpline: 877-452-5324. Many hospitals have classes you can take before the baby arrives, so ask if you're interested.

It may protect against postpartum depression


A 2012 study in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine found that women who breastfed were less likely to be diagnosed with postpartum depression over the first four months than those who bottle-fed. Researchers aren't sure what the connection is, but Mason suspects it has to do oxytocin, the "feel-good hormone" produced when a baby nurses. "Plus, if breastfeeding is going well, it helps mom feel confident that she's able to provide for her baby," she adds. A 2011 study from the University of North Carolina suggests the opposite link may exist, as well: New moms who have negative breastfeeding experiences within the first two weeks had an increased risk of PPD.

Alcohol helps with milk letdown


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, booze is not a galactagogue, which is a substance that promotes milk production. (Studies have shown that drinking beer can boost hormones associated with breast milk creation, but it's actually the barley and hops that are responsible.) So what actually helps with milk letdown? Relaxation for mom, and skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby, Mason says. "When moms put babies up to their chests, their hormones just go wild," she says.

You can't breastfeed after breast surgery


Mason has seen many women with breast implants nurse their babies successfully; these surgeries often involve incisions on the underside of the breast that don't interfere with milk production or delivery. Women who have had breast reductions, on the other hand, may have more difficulty—especially if nerve endings around the nipple have been cut. "You may not know until you try to nurse," Mason says.

It makes your boobs sag


One reason many women with breast implants don't breastfeed (or stop earlier than planned) is because they think it will change the appearance of their breasts, according to a 2011 study from the American Society for Plastic Surgeons. But, as the study authors point out, it's the number of pregnancies a woman has—not whether she breastfeeds—that causes breasts to sag over time. That's true with or without implants. 19 Diet Changes to Make During Pregnancy

It's supposed to be painful


"A lot of moms expect breastfeeding to hurt, and it is true that mom's nipples may feel tender for the first couple of weeks," says Mason. "But if the baby's latching properly, there shouldn't be real pain or soreness." That's why it's so important to talk to a lactation consultant at the hospital (and perhaps after you go home) who can help you and your baby make the process as comfortable as possible, she adds.

It's important to stay hydrated


Not drinking enough water can certainly affect how much milk you're making, says Mason, which is why it's important to stay hydrated (among other reasons). But you don't have to go overboard, she cautions: "You don't have to drink until it's coming out of your ears; in fact, research suggests that overhydration can also decrease milk production, just as dehydration can." Judge your hydration levels by your urine color, she recommends: light yellow means you're drinking enough, dark means you should sip more. 14 Weird Reasons You’re Dehydrated

This article originally appeared on

Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal Stand With Rick Perry Over Indictment

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 08:28 AM PDT

Two of Gov. Rick Perry’s senior Republican allies have stepped forward to support the Texan after he was indicted on two counts of abuse of power by a grand jury in Texas Friday.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each issued public messages of support a day after Texas prosecutors said that Perry’s denial in 2013 of $7.5 million to the state's public integrity unit amounts to an abuse of his official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

Perry, who is widely believed to be preparing a run for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, has denied any legal wrongdoing, and called the indictment politically motivated.

Cruz, who would likely be one of Perry’s opponents in the 2016 race, voiced his support for the governor in a Twitter post.

Jindal, also a probable 2016 GOP presidential nomination candidate, called Perry’s indictment a political “witch hunt” on his official Twitter account.

Perry threatened to deny funding to a public integrity unit last year when District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who ran the unit, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2012. When Lehmberg did not resign, as Perry had demanded, the governor made good on his promise and vetoed funding for the unit. At the time that Perry vetoed the funding, the unit was investigating one of Perry's signature achievements, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, for alleged mismanagement.

Perry’s camp points out that a veto of funding is within the legal powers of a sitting governor, and says that the lawsuit is a partisan attack. The central question in the case is whether Perry abused his power in order to coerce Lehmberg to resign.

Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, also 2016 presidential hopefuls, have yet to issue statements.

A Target Near You Will Now Be Open Until Midnight

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 06:56 AM PDT

Target is keeping its doors open until midnight at more than half of its U.S. stores in an effort to attract night-owl shoppers after a challenging year.

The chain’s 1,800 U.S. stores typically closed at 10 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 9 p.m. on Sundays, but the new hours will keep many stores open until midnight on weekdays, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Target is betting that the 0.3% of people that a Labor Department survey found shop at 10 p.m. will be attracted to its open locations, and give the chain an advantage in its battle against online retailers.

The company has been cutting prices to woo customers, and recently cut its outlook for the year as it loses traffic and U.S. same-store sales.

Walmart keeps 70% of its stores open 24 hours a day.



Pope Francis Visits ‘Cemetery For Abortion Victims’ in South Korea

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Pope Francis visited a symbolic “cemetery for abortion victims” Saturday during his visit to South Korea, a gesture that strongly reaffirms the Church’s stance against abortion, after suspicion by some that the pontiff might hold tepid anti-abortion views.

The abortion memorial, located at the Kkottongnae home for the sick about 120 miles from Seoul, is a field dotted with white crosses and statues of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus as a child. Francis paused briefly at the site, bowed his head and folded his hand in prayer, the Boston Globe reports.

Jung Kwang-ryul of the Kkottongnae community, described the site as a "one-of-a-kind memorial," saying the pope's stop is "a clear testimony of his defense of life."

South Korea is believed to have one of the highest abortion rates in the world, despite it being illegal except in the case of rape or incest.

During the early days of his papacy, some within the Church questioned Francis’ commitment to opposing abortion. In early interviews, Francis complained that the Church is “obsessed” with moral debates. "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” Francis said in one interview.

But since then, Francis has strengthened his anti-abortion credentials with starker statements. “It is necessary to reiterate the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless, and her unborn child in the womb is the innocent par excellence," the pope said in April.

[Boston Globe]

Snooki Who?: The Cool, Edgy, Other MTV You Didn’t Know Existed

Posted: 16 Aug 2014 06:00 AM PDT

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Tucked away underneath an elevated subway line in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two frat boys named Josh are making butt jokes behind an unmarked steel door. The pair of horny bros with facial hair of dubious origin leans over the blueprint of a yoga studio, plotting how to situate their mats so they’ll be best able to attract women. One Josh points to the map with a Green Apple Dum-Dum sucker; other Josh leans in, eyes wide, and deadpans, “Tell me about these feet rugs!” Moments later, a Josh starts singing the chorus to “Old Man River,” which morphs into a Katy Perry mashup: “Old man river, you’re gonna hear me rooaaaaar.”

Josh and Josh’s entourage — the camera people, the director, the dude holding the boom mic — erupts in laughter. The Joshes are the alter egos of Kate Riley and Fran Gillespie, Upright Citizen’s Brigade regulars who have co-created a short series called, cannily, Two Guys Named Josh. The makeshift soundstage is an apartment near the Hewes Avenue JMZ stop, rented from some arty loft type whose painted brick walls are just rundown enough to be believable as the abode for two best friends whose main goals are boozing, broing and snagging babes. The confluence of UCB and YouTube has been so instrumental in propelling young comedians from the Internet to television or film fame — from Aubrey Plaza and the Lonely Island to Drunk History and Broad City — everybody knows online comedy is the way to score. But the difference is this time, MTV is footing the bill.

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For 15 years, MTV has been both reviled and applauded for its shift from emphasizing videos and music programs to reality-television shows that some deem exploitative. The annual Video Music Awards still remain a marquee event, but the airing of actual videos has been shoved off onto tentacle, extended-cable choices like MTV Jams and MTV Hits in favor of wildly popular shows like Catfish and 16 and Pregnant. Videos are much lamented, but that wasn’t all MTV cast off in favor of The Hills and Jersey Shore. Viewers also lost creative programming like Liquid Television, the block of animated series in the Nineties that led to successful, groundbreaking shows like Daria and Aeon Flux. (Full disclosure: I have written for Viacom/MTV, but never for the subcompany MTV Other.)

MTV Other was conceived in spring 2013 and launched that summer as a “laboratory for original video content,” according to Garth Bardsley, VP of Original Video for MTV’s Connected Content Group, who had stopped by to check in on the taping of Two Guys Named Josh, now in its second season. “The legacy of MTV was that back in the day, it was a home for creative people to have an outlet, right? It still is,” explains Bardsley. “But if you’re going to put something on TV, you’ve got to typically have an agent who’s going to call an executive. He’s going to get you a meeting. And you’re going to have a lot more meetings. And you’re going to talk through it all. And there’s going to be scripts and yadda yadda. We do some of that, but we’re also just looking across the web for content creators, and we’re able to turn projects around more quickly.”

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MTV Other’s tagline is “short shows, random weirdness,” and it acts as a hub for a resurrected Liquid TV, though roughly half of Other’s shows are live-action comedies and talk shows. Bardsley cites programs like the burger-joint comedy Fast Food Heights, created by Bridesmaids actor Greg Tuculescu, and a sketch called Teacher’s Lounge written by Morgan Evans, who also directs Two Guys, as the type of programming Other leans towards. “We want to find our own version of hits,” he says, sitting on a loveseat on the makeshift set. “A hit for us would be much smaller than what TV needs. But we want to keep looking for hits. Who’s going to break out and people want to see more of? And we want to have more creative people in the building who are feeding into higher things.” MTV Other bookends web oddballs with more established comedians (Eric Andre; Murray Hill) in conversation with musicians like the Beastie Boys and Har Mar Superstar. They even do service journalism, showcasing scenes in cities across America and weed-food tips.

In a sense, Other is a bit of MTV magic: If YouTube and Vimeo act as incubators for networks like Comedy Central, Other is MTV’s own in-house farm team, a place to groom talent and test out shows until they prove themselves. Or in the event that the reality-show template ever topples, MTV will have ready-made content to replace it, already tested on the Internet. Of course, that’s not Bardsley’s expressed goal (which is adamantly about developing creativity), but it’s a savvy move for a goliath in a climate that increasingly rewards shows and ideas that are agile. There’s certainly enough network crossover: Other has developed animated spin-offs narrated by popular MTV2 hosts Matt Pinfield and Charlemagne the God. But Bardsley insists the creativity comes first. “It’s not like we’re setting out to do a legacy play at all,” he says. “It’s just that there’s a history of doing this at MTV, which is kind of nice. We still basically want to play around and find audiences outside of television. I think if you look there, you will see things that are perhaps on the weird side.”

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Weird, in fact, is a good word for this shoot of Two Guys Named Josh. Stars Riley and Gillespie both have ample improv experience, so they keep repeating scenes with different lines, each odder, if not funnier, than the last. Their show is wildly hilarious — they portray their frat-dude Joshes quite literally (props include red dixie cups and bikini posters), but there is a tenderness to the characters that could attract both the bros they’re spoofing and the feminists who love to roll their eyes at them. (A high point in Season One, says Riley, was when they were written up by the websites Bro Bible and Jezebel in the same day.) Still in costume in popped-collar Polos, khakis and ridiculous facial hair, Riley describes the duo as a sort of Pinky & the Brain. The duo mines their family and friends’ experiences for inspiration. “I was home for Christmas,” explains Riley, “and I would be like, ‘I’m naming characters! Someone yell out something they call a frat brother!’ And [my brothers] were like, ‘Pootsie! Bowels! Shoes! Chicken Parm! Young Tit! Bozo!’ just all these names. Chicken Parm. You know why? All he ate was chicken parm. Real guy.”

Riley and Gillespie are clearly real talents — even the intro credits, featuring Josh and Josh gesticulating wildly at a curvaceous woman while a ridiculous dubstep beat plays, are a riot — which may be why in their case, MTV Other pursued them, rather than the other way around, through Riley’s agent. The developers, producers and Bardsley are often on-set during filming. “Sometimes when people from a network are there, you kind of feel your butt tighten,” says Gillespie, “but not with these people. And that’s great, because when we’re improvising, you can’t be in a headspace where you’re like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this.'”

The duo also says it has control over the editing room, with the network censoring only when offensive terms — or brand names — make it to the mix. “This is for the web, so the production value is incredible, that we get to play with [this type of equipment] — it’s like Candyland for the creative department,” Gillespie says. Referring to the scene on set, she adds, “When you’re doing TV, it’s twice as many people and everyone’s staring at you!”

If the great MTV Other experiment finds its groove, there’ll be a whole lot more eyeballs on them soon.

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