crime stoppers
August 26, 2014
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In an effort to lower the number of smartphone thefts, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill Monday that will require phones sold in the state to have "kill switches" that can remotely make the device inoperable.

It is the first law of its kind in the country, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Starting in January 2015, all smartphones must have the feature enabled under their default settings, and consumers will have to go in and turn it off if they so desire.

"California has just put smartphone thieves on notice," State Sen. Mark Leno (D) of San Francisco told the Chronicle. "Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities."

A Consumer Reports survey found that in 2013, more than 3.1 million Americans had their smartphones stolen, up from 1.6 million in 2012.

Discoveries
7:54 a.m. ET

Crikey.

Paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History and the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, found remains from an astonishing seven ancient crocodile species during a dig in northeastern Peru, near Iquitos. Three of the species are newly identified, and the crocodiles are estimated to have lived 13 million years ago.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the scientists explain that the find marks the largest number of crocodile species to cohabit one area in all of Earth's history. The crocodile fossils offer unprecedented insight about the region's ecosystem before the Amazon river was formed, about 10.5 million years ago.

The researchers note that the crocodiles lived at the peak of ancient wetlands' size, and the various crocodile species could have survived thanks to a variety of available food sources. For example, the Gnatsuchus pebasensis species had rounded teeth and a snout to gather clams from swamp bottoms, while other species had longer snouts to catch swimming fish.

The scientists believe the Amazon river system caused a downturn in mollusk populations, which caused crocodile species like Gnatsuchus to go extinct. Other species with "broader palates," meanwhile, were able to survive, the researchers noted.

Greek debt crisis
7:07 a.m. ET
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

On Friday, Germany's lower house of parliament voted, 542 to 32, to approve a four-month extension of Greece's financial bailout. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had reluctantly urged his colleagues to approve the extension, arguing that failing to do so would cause Germany and Europe "great damage." But "the discussions before and after the elections in Greece didn't make this decision any easier," he added, "and neither have the discussions of the past few days and hours, to put it mildly." Under the terms of the agreement, Greece has to reform its labor laws and judiciary to fight corruption and tax evasion.

RIP
6:42 a.m. ET

In 1950, Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play in the NBA, making his debut with the Washington Capitols before going on to play with the Syracuse Nationals and Detroit Pistons. He won a championship with the Nationals, then became one of the NBA's first black coaches. Lloyd died on Thursday at age 86.

Lloyd said that his first pro appearance on the court — in Rochester, New York, on Oct. 31, 1950 — was pretty low-key, Kenneth Shouler writes at ESPN. "I stepped onto the court and the world kept spinning," Lloyd said. "No one said a word — not the fans, players, anybody. Nothing was ever said about me being the first black. They acted as if I was a player, period." That same season, Charles Cooper and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton also made their NBA debuts.

Even if he was nonchalant about integrating the NBA, other players hold him up as a pioneer. Below, you can watch Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkely talk about what Lloyd meant to them, during a break in Thursday night's Oklahoma City-Phoenix game. —Peter Weber

mysteries of space
5:55 a.m. ET

The Dawn spacecraft is approaching the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are confounded by a photo Dawn sent back from 29,000 miles away.

NASA's Hubble telescope had photographed a light spot on the dwarf planet in 2004, but "Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin," principle investigator Chris Russell said in a statement. He speculated that the spots have a "volcanolike origin," but said higher-resolution photos are needed to make any firm conclusion.

For now, "this is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us," adds Andreas Natheues at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. Dawn is expected to enter orbit around Ceres on March 16 and spend 16 months orbiting what scientists has previously called an "embryonic planet," stunted by the massive gravity of Jupiter. Hopefully Dawn's sojourn around Ceres will solve the mystery of the twin "bright spots."

This is terrible
5:06 a.m. ET

On Thursday night, assailants attacked Avijit Roy, a U.S. blogger and writer, and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, with meat cleavers on a crowded sidewalk in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. Roy died in the hospital, and Banna was seriously injured. Roy, born in Bangladesh but a U.S. citizen, started the website Mukto-mona, or "Free Mind" in Bengali, and his friends and family say he had received threats for his writings about science and against religious extremism.

"He was a free thinker," friend and fellow blogger Baki Billah told Independent TV. "He was a Hindu but he was not only a strong voice against Islamic fanatics but also equally against other religious fanatics." Islamic extremists have been blamed for previous, unsolved attacks against writers in majority-Muslim Bangladesh. Roy was back in his birth country for a few weeks for the launch of his latest book at a local book fair.

The Daily Showdown
4:23 a.m. ET

"According to a recent study," said Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj on Thursday night's show, "the insanely rich people are leaving behind the lowly, average, regular rich people." Usually when The Daily Show sends correspondents out to cover a story, they find someone willing to act as a foil. This time, everyone — Brookings fellow Richard Reeves, "patriotic millionaire" Morris Pearl, even the yacht vendor — looks at Minhaj as if he's unhinged when he tries to troll up concern about the growing wealth inequality gap in the top 1 percent. That leaves Minhaj as his own patsy, and he ends up with ketchup on his face to make it work. Watch below. —Peter Weber

Watch this
3:34 a.m. ET

Actor and singer Andrew Rannell (Girls, The Book of Mormon) is going to be on the series finale of Glee. But that's all he could say about it on Wednesday night's Tonight Show. And it's a relatively unimportant fact, except that it was the excuse Jimmy Fallon needed to break out the microphones and coax Rannell into singing a duet with him. They're really good, and Spandau Ballet's "True" was such a popular choice that you can catch Ice-T singing along with a big grin on his face. —Peter Weber

ISIS
3:03 a.m. ET
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Islamic State is advancing toward Damascus, the Syrian capital, and seizing Assyrian Christian towns near the Turkish border, abducting at least 220 Christians and destroying irreplaceable works of art. But it is also facing setbacks, including an offensive by Kurdish fighters, new U.S.-led airstrikes, and — according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — a cash flow problem.

"They need money," Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman tells Reuters. "Ever since the airstrikes hit their oil facilities and the Turkish border has been harder to cross, they have increased taxes and looked for ways to make money." Things have gotten so tight, he added, that ISIS has started selling scrap metal from bombed factories and other industrial wreckage in eastern Syria.

ISIS has also reportedly run low on foreign hostages to offer for ransom. The group "gets a material amount of its funding from ransom payments," outgoing U.S. Treasury sanctions czar David Cohen told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. "And it would be to all of our mutual benefit to cut off that source of funding."

last night on late night
2:10 a.m. ET

On Thursday night's Late Night, Seth Meyers broke out his wedding video. Guest and former Saturday Night Live colleague Will Forte had given a toast/roast at Meyers' wedding rehearsal dinner, in character as Hamilton Whiteman, one of Meyers' professed favorite Forte characters at SNL. The 30 seconds of the off-color speech is pretty funny — and here's hoping the remaining 5:30 that Meyers couldn't air on network TV somehow shows up on YouTube. —Peter Weber

when animals attack
1:53 a.m. ET
iStock

Residents in one Dutch town are living in fear after a hostile eagle owl has attacked dozens of people.

The owl has been terrorizing the Purmerend area, 12 miles north of Amsterdam, The Associated Press reports. It has been concentrating around the Prinsenstichting assisted-living complex for people with disabilities, and a spokeswoman said at least 20 people have been injured there, with some needing stitches. One victim, Niels Verkooijen, told a Dutch news program being attacked "was like having a brick laced with nails thrown at your head."

City officials are warning residents not to approach the angry owl, said to be between 24- and 30-inches-tall. Because eagle owls are a protected species, the town has applied for a permit to catch it, but in the meantime, people are asked to carry umbrellas with them during the evening, when the owl is most active. Eagle owls are not known for being so aggressive in the wild, causing officials to believe that it was once held in captivity.

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