FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
Science!
July 22, 2014
iStock

We've all heard that healthy adults should get eight to nine hours of sleep each night to prevent obesity and retain cognitive functions. But an array of new studies suggests those figures might be an hour or two off.

A 2013 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that people needed seven hours and 13 minutes of sleep to be at their best. (However, 69 percent of people reported getting less sleep than they claimed to need, so take it with a grain of salt.) Other recent studies have found that shooting for around 7 hours of sleep a night might be the healthiest goal — and that going too far under or over that amount can actually contribute to health risks, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A recent study at the University of California San Diego, for example, tracked the sleep habits of 1.1 million people over six years. They found that people who slept between 6.5 and 7.4 hours a night had lower mortality rates than those with less — or more — sleep. Another study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that after seven hours, "increasing sleep was not any more beneficial," Murali Doraiswamy, co-author of the study, told The Wall Street Journal.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is currently developing new sleep recommendations, which it hopes to publish by 2015, according to the WSJ. However, a number of doctors caution against changing your sleep habits because of the recent crop of studies, saying that more information is needed. Meghan DeMaria

superheroics
9:18 a.m. ET

With countless adventures and decades of back story to adapt, Hollywood was never going to going to make enough Wolverine movies to capture everything X-Men fans want to see. But if you've been waiting for a blockbuster adaptation of Old Man Logan or one of those weird Patch side stories, now's your chance to make your voice heard: Hugh Jackman wants to know what X-Men fans want to see him do as Wolverine before he hangs up the claws for good.

The poll started last night, but Jackman promised to read "as many as [he] can," so there's no reason not to weigh in now. I hope you'll join me in casting a vote for Wolverine getting ripped in half by the Hulk. Scott Meslow

Blast from the past
8:50 a.m. ET

These extraordinary horses might even give American Pharaoh something to be jealous of.

Every summer, the people of Fukushima prefecture honor their ancient Samurai and equine traditions during the Soma Nomaoi festival, which began over 1,000 years ago. The three-day festival reenacts Edo Period (roughly 1603-1869) battles — safely, of course! — without losing any of the vibrant, stampeding thrill of bygone days. Check it out. Jeva Lange

Four more years?
8:28 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb AFP / Getty Images

President Obama thinks he's a "pretty good president." Good enough that he says if he ran for a third term, he believes he could win. But, as he acknowledged in a Tuesday address at the African Union headquarters, a third term just isn't an option.

"I love my work, but under our Constitution, I cannot run again. I can't run again. I actually think I'm a pretty good president. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can't. So there's a lot that I'd like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law, and no one person is above the law, not even the president." [Obama]

Now, Obama obviously isn't actually considering a third term as president. Rather, he used this hypothetical to prove a point to African leaders about the importance of stepping down from office when their terms ended. Recently in Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected to a third term despite the constitutional limit of two terms.

Obama called on the African Union to curb this overreach of power and ensure that African leaders stick to the law. Obama also said he just doesn't understand why leaders don't step down when it's their turn to do so. "Frankly," Obama told the African Union, "I’m looking forward to life after being president." Becca Stanek

This just in
7:55 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama pledged to help raise 50 million Africans out of poverty during his Tuesday address at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — the equivalent of 5 percent of Africa's population. His speech marked the first time that a sitting American president has addressed the African Union.

"Many Africans are crowded into shantytowns without power or running water — a level of poverty that's an assault on human dignity," Obama said.

Obama also called for African leaders to ensure free and fair democracies and elections in their nations, and to step down when their terms come to an end. He also pressured those in power to put an end to the discrimination of women in education.

"No one would put out a football team and just play half the team," Obama said. "The same is true when it comes to giving everyone an education. You can't leave half the team off." Jeva Lange

Math is hard
7:41 a.m. ET
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Donald Trump loves to brag that he's worth more than $10 billion. But the math begs to differ. The GOP presidential frontrunner's actual net worth is 29 percent of the figure Trump has been boasting, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index reports, totaling $2.9 billion. That figure is pulled from an analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of Trump's 92-page personal financial disclosure, which went public last week.

Despite Trump's $7 billion miscalculation, he definitely still has a lot of dough. Bloomberg reports that Trump's portfolio is "dominated by skyscrapers and golf courses." Trump owns some prime real estate in Manhattan, resorts including Doral and Mar-A-Lago in Florida, and golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.

A Trump spokeswoman declined to comment to Bloomberg on the wealth calculation discrepancies. Becca Stanek

BFFs?
7:35 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It's always good to have the comedians on your side — and it looks as if President Obama went out of the way to assure that he did. In recent years, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart made at least two secret visits to the White House to meet with Obama, both times at the president's specific request, Politico reports.

"The White House itself was quite interested in at least explaining its side of the story to Jon Stewart, up to and including the president," former Obama White House chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said. Obama summoned Stewart to his office in October 2011, during the debt ceiling crisis, and again in February 2014, before threatening Russia not to make any further moves on Ukraine. Obama has appeared on Stewart's show seven times.

"I can't say that because Jon Stewart was unhappy policy changed. But I can say that he had forceful arguments, they were arguments that we knew would be heard and deserved to be answered," David Axelrod, another former Obama aide, told Politico. Jeva Lange

ISIS
6:35 a.m. ET
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

On Tuesday, ambassadors from all 28 NATO member nations gathered in Brussels for a rare emergency meeting called by Turkey, invoking Article 4 of the NATO charter, which allows members to consult with NATO allies when their security or territory are threatened. "Turkey requested the meeting after the recent terrorist attacks, and also to inform allies of the measures it is taking," said Carmen Romero, deputy NATO spokeswoman, citing a deadly attack on a Turkish border town last week that Ankara blames on Islamic State. "This meeting is a signal of strong solidarity with Turkey."

In a press conference before NATO's North Atlantic Council met behind closed doors, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg extended his sympathy to the Turks for the recent terrorist attacks, saying "terrorism in all its forms" can never be justified. In Ankara on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained that Turkey is asking its NATO partners for support not just in its post-attack strikes on ISIS, but also its attacks on Kurdish separatist groups in Iraq and Syria.

That makes things tricky for NATO and its most powerful member, the U.S. On Monday, the Syrian Kurdish defense forces that the U.S. has been working with to fight ISIS said that Turkey has been shelling them. These Kurdish forces have proved the most effective and successful U.S. ally against ISIS, but Ankara — which says it isn't targeting the group, only Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatists — "is worried about growing Kurdish influence along its border with Syria and an emboldened Kurdish minority seeking more autonomy at home," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, which says that Turkey is NATO's "only Muslim member and one of its most powerful," notes the tensions that creates within NATO. Ankara "is likely to face questions at the NATO meeting over its decision to lump its campaigns against the Kurds and ISIL together into a broad 'war on terror,'" the paper says. "Turkey's military action against the Kurds have raised doubts over its priorities, namely whether it is more interested in limiting Kurdish capabilities in Syria and Iraq than tackling ISIL." Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads