The Week: Most Recent Home Page Posts recent posts.en-usFri, 19 Dec 2014 04:05:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Home Page Posts from THE WEEKFri, 19 Dec 2014 04:05:00 -0500This dazzling Star Wars-themed display features 100,000 lights</P><p>A <em>Star Wars </em>fan in Newark, California, has outdone himself with a 100,000-light display synchronized with his favorite songs from the movies.</p><p>On his YouTube page, Tom BetGeorge shares that he built all of the props on his own, using wood, acrylic, metal, and corrugated plastic. The beams can be seen for miles around, but he is careful to avoid shining them on other houses or flight paths. <br /><br />For those who saw the incredibly elaborate &mdash; and incredibly bright &mdash; display and instantly thought, "His neighbors must hate him," they don't; in fact, he writes, they are supportive, since he uses...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaFri, 19 Dec 2014 04:05:00 -0500Hollywood ignored George Clooney's attempt to condemn the Sony hackers</P><p>Before Sony decided to cancel the theatrical release of <em>The Interview, </em>George Clooney passed a letter around Hollywood, asking heavyweights to sign it in support of the studio and the movie. He received exactly zero signatures.</p><p>"No one stood up, nobody took a stand," Clooney told <em> </em>The letter read in part, "We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy, and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together."</p><p>Clooney...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaFri, 19 Dec 2014 03:35:00 -0500Report: U.S. knew about attempts between an attorney and clerics to free ISIS hostage</P><p>Before Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig was killed by ISIS militants in November, an attorney, working with senior jihadi clerics, attempted to negotiate his release, <em>The Guardian </em>reports.</p><center><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>'Discussions were fruitful until cleric negotiating with ISIS was arrested' Lawyer on his effort to free Peter Kassig</p>&mdash; BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) December 19, 2014</blockquote></center><p>Emails viewed by <em>The Guardian </em>show talks began in mid-October with the knowledge of the FBI. It all started with New York lawyer Stanley Cohen, who in the past represented a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaFri, 19 Dec 2014 02:55:00 -0500Revlon to remove parabens, other chemicals from products</P><p>Revlon announced Thursday that it will soon remove harmful ingredients from its makeup.</p><p>The company will no longer use two long-chain parabens &mdash; isobutylparaben and isopropylparaben &mdash; and DMDM hydantoin, a formaldehyde-releasing chemical. Long-chain parabens are linked to endocrine disruption, <em>Time </em>reports, while formaldehyde may cause cancer.</p><p>More than 100,000 people signed a petition organized by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, asking that the company stop using the chemicals. The group's executive director said she was thrilled with Revlon's decision, and urges all makeup...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaFri, 19 Dec 2014 01:16:00 -05008 children killed inside of home in Australia</P><p>Australian police investigating a report of a woman with serious injuries discovered eight dead children inside of a home Friday morning.</p><center><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>8 Children Found Dead Following A Horrific Mass Stabbing In Australia #CairnsStabbing</p>&mdash; Latest on SAYS (@saysdotcom) December 19, 2014</blockquote></center><p>The children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15, were inside of a house in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, <em>The Associated Press </em>reports. The 34-year-old woman was still alive with stab wounds to the chest and rushed to a hospital, where she is in stable condition...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaFri, 19 Dec 2014 00:07:00 -0500Study finds link between autism and exposure to air pollution during pregnancy</P><p>Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that women exposed to high levels of air pollution in their third trimester of pregnancy could be twice as likely to have an autistic child.</p><p>The study, published Thursday in <em>Environmental Health Perspectives</em>, shows that the risk of autism rises parallel with exposure to fine particulate matter during pregnancy, <em>Bloomberg </em>reports. Autism is believed to affect 1 in 68 U.S. children, and while the cause is unknown, recent studies suggest that it could start when specific brain cells do not properly mature inside the womb.</p><p>Marc Weisskopf...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaThu, 18 Dec 2014 23:26:00 -0500International Monetary Fund to withhold bailout funds for Cyprus</P><p>The International Monetary Fund will not release $108 million in rescue money for Cyprus, following a vote by the country's parliament to suspend a foreclosure law required under the loan program.</p><p>"Following today's suspension of the existing legislation on foreclosure, critical requirements for the completion of the fifth program review are now no longer met," the IMF said in a statement. "We look forward to continued cooperation, and will agree with the authorities on next steps in the period ahead."</p><p>Primarily because of problems in its banking sector, Cyprus needed $12 billion in bailout funds...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaThu, 18 Dec 2014 22:15:00 -0500NASA's Kepler finds massive alien planet 180 light years away</P><p>NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered its first alien planet since malfunctioning in May 2013, and it's a big one: HIP 116454b is a "super Earth" about 20,000 miles wide and 12 times more massive than our planet.</p><center><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Reborn Kepler can still hunt! Astronomers use public data to discover K2's first exoplanet!</p>&mdash; NASA Kepler (@NASAKepler) December 18, 2014</blockquote></center><p>"Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries," Andrew Vanderburg, the lead author of a study on the discovery, said in a...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Catherine GarciaThu, 18 Dec 2014 21:16:00 -0500FCC rules 'Redskins' is not profane</P><p>The Washington Redskins is not an indecent name, the FCC ruled Thursday. For the agency to ban profanity on the radio, it must be deemed sexual or excretory, <em>Politico</em> reports.</p><p>George Washington University professor John Banzhaf had petitioned the agency to deny renewal of football team owner Daniel Snyder's radio station due to repeated use of "Redskins."</p><p>Washington's name, which many consider a racial slur directed at Native Americans, has been under fire a lot this year, with politicians and activist pushing Snyder for a change. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler himself has called the name "offensive...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Julie KliegmanThu, 18 Dec 2014 19:49:00 -0500Sierra Leone's leading doctor just died of Ebola</P><p>Sierra Leone's leading doctor died of Ebola on Thursday, <em>Reuters</em> reports. Victor Willoughby was diagnosed last week after treating a patient, who also died of Ebola.</p><p>Willoughby is the 11th doctor in the nation to die of the virus, out of 12 diagnosed. Sierra Leone has the fastest-rising infection rate and more than half of the 18,603 Ebola cases worldwide.</p><p>Willoughby's death came hours after an experimental drug arrived in the country frozen on an airplane, the government's chief medical officer told <em>Reuters</em>. His condition deteriorated before the drug could thaw.</p> <a href="">More</a>By Julie KliegmanThu, 18 Dec 2014 18:41:00 -0500U.S. kills 3 ISIS leaders in Iraq airstrikes</P><p>Since mid-November, the U.S. military has killed three senior ISIS leaders, the Pentagon told <em>The Wall Street Journal</em> on Thursday.</p><p>In early December, military airstrikes in Iraq killed Abd al Basit, the head of the terrorist group's Iraq operations, and Haji Mutazz, a deputy leader. In late November, ISIS governor Radwin Talib was killed in another strike.</p><p>"It is disruptive to their planning and command and control," General Martin Dempsey told <em>The Journal</em>. "These are high-value targets, senior leadership."</p> <a href="">More</a>By Julie KliegmanThu, 18 Dec 2014 18:01:00 -0500Oklahoma, Nebraska sue Colorado over marijuana</P><p>Colorado's neighbors aren't crazy about the state's choice to legalize pot. Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in the Supreme Court on Thursday, saying the drugs are spilling over to neighboring states, where they're illegal.</p><p>The lawsuit calls Colorado's legalization "particularly burdensome" to police agencies just across state lines, <em>USA Today</em> reports.</p><p>"What we take issue with is this licensing scheme, this commercialization, that the state has promoted at the expense of Oklahoma and Nebraska," said Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general. "There are illegal products that are being trafficked...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Julie KliegmanThu, 18 Dec 2014 17:23:00 -0500This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe></p><p><strong>Read more about the facts mentioned:</strong></p><p>Spin it to win it (<em>Now I Know</em>)</p><p>Men wore corsets and 7 other unknown things about the world of Jane Austen (<em>Smithsonian</em>)</p><p>Corsets - a history lesson (<em>Festooned Butterfly</em>)</p><p>Is it possible to extinguish the sun with water? (<em>Kottke</em>)</p><p>Syracuse biologist reveals how whales may 'sing' for their supper (<em></em>)</p><p><strong>Listen to more of <em>The Week's </em>podcasts: </strong></p><ul><li>The great paradox of the greatest rock 'n' roll showdown of all time</li><li>Please obey this simple rule for airplane seat reclining</li><li>This week I learned that Canada was once accidentally at war with the U.S., and more...</li></ul> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/lauren-hansen" ><span class="byline">Lauren Hansen</span></a>Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:54:00 -050010 outrageously pricey tax breaks that Congress just gave away<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The Senate, on its way out at the close of the 113th Congress, approved the extension of more than 50 tax breaks, collectively known as "tax extenders," which had expired at the end of last year. The provisions cover everything from business research costs to NASCAR tracks and will now apply to tax year 2014.</p><p>The extenders will expire again in two weeks, however, and Congress will have to revisit their renewal in the New Year. It's a process that tax experts abhor, as many incentives inherent in the extenders can't have their full effect without providing the beneficiaries a degree of certainty...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Eric Pianin and Rob GarverThu, 18 Dec 2014 16:30:00 -0500A machine-gun theme park is opening in Florida</P><p>Tired of waiting on line to get your thrills at Magic Mountain? Starting this weekend, you'll be able to get your adrenaline fix at Orlando, Florida's Machine Gun America, which is stocked with a plethora of assault weapons for your enjoyment.</p><p>Machine Gun America bills itself as "America's first Automatic Adrenaline Attraction," and offers visitors zombie, cowboy, and gangster-themed simulators to make the shooting more interesting. Although it functions much like a gun range, MGA is serious about that "attraction" part, so visitors will not be allowed to bring their own weapons. Children under...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/samantha-rollins" ><span class="byline">Samantha Rollins</span></a>Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:02:00 -0500Security review concludes the White House needs 'a better fence'</P><p class="p1">Following a rash of embarrassing security lapses earlier this year, an independent panel has concluded that the Secret Service and White House infrastructure must be modernized to better protect the president. Specifically, the panel wrote in a report released Thursday that the fence surrounding the White House "needs to be changed as soon as possible."</p><p class="p1">"We decline to say precisely what the optimal new fence should look like," the report states, though it adds that it "must be taller." The report goes on to say that the Secret Service needs new leadership &mdash; preferably a director who hails...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jon-terbush" ><span class="byline">Jon Terbush</span></a>Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:01:00 -0500