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July 15, 2014

In a segment on The View this morning, Marvel Comics dropped a bombshell: Thor — the hammer-wielding Asgardian superhero first introduced by the company in 1962 — will be replaced by a woman.

"Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up. He is no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his," said host Whoopi Goldberg. "And for the first time in history that hammer is being held by a woman."

The news won't have any immediate impact on Marvel's big-screen superhero movies, as Chris Hemsworth is already slated to reprise the role of Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron — but it will be what Marvel promises is a permanent change in the comics.

"The inscription on Thor's hammer reads 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.' Well it's time to update that inscription," explained editor Wil Moss in a statement on Marvel's official website. "The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute — she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"

Ryan Penagos, the executive editorial director of Marvel, took to Twitter to show off some pictures of the new Thor:

The first issue of the new Thor series will debut in October. Scott Meslow

5:50 p.m. ET
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The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will pursue capital punishment for Dylann Roof, the white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers during a service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The DOJ released a list of reasons why it will seek the death penalty, including Roof's "lack of remorse" and the fact that the killings were "racially-motivated" and "intentional." Roof faces 33 federal charges from the June 2015 incident, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. Kimberly Alters

5:44 p.m. ET
Damien Meyer/Getty Images

After over a decade of forcing users to get creative within its strict 140-character parameters, Twitter's now-ingrained length limit is getting ever-so-slightly more lenient. On Tuesday, the social network announced that media attachments such as photos and GIFs will no longer count toward the character limit, a game-changer that allows users to incorporate more multimedia into individual tweets without sacrificing precious room for text.

User handles, which are designated by an "@" symbol, will also be exempt from the character count, and tweets beginning with a handle will no longer vanish from users' timelines as they currently do. This relieves the Twitterverse of an odd makeshift trick wherein users place a period before the @ sign in order to make a tweet appear on their main timeline:

In what has surely been a source of stress for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the 140-character limit is both what makes the platform unique and an impediment to its growth. Twitter has struggled to attract new users after growth began to level off in 2009, in part because potential newbies are turned off by the difficult prospect of choosing their words carefully to abide by the length limit. Meanwhile, loyal Tweeters have embraced the limit as a necessary cap on the enormous volume of text published on the site — so fervently so that initial reports back in January that Dorsey planned to significantly alter the limit were met with outrage. At the very least, if users find themselves frustrated by even this more minor change, they'll have more room on Twitter to vent their frustrations in GIF form. Roxie Pell

4:52 p.m. ET

In 1993, then-Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster committed suicide in Virginia's Fort Marcy Park — at least, that's according to six separate investigations of the incident. The death of Foster, who was a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton's, has been fodder for years for conspiracy theorists positing the Clintons somehow had Foster killed because he possessed incriminating knowledge about the couple's affairs. Still, multiple official investigations ruled the death a suicide.

Of course, that didn't deter Donald Trump from calling the circumstances surrounding Foster's death "very fishy" in an interview with The Washington Post, which was published Monday. Trump has been ramping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton and her family in recent weeks as he pivots to the general election, and he has been forthright about his intent to use ad hominem attacks against her. But CNN's Jake Tapper took issue with Trump's repetition of a "fiction born of delusion and un-tethered to reality," calling Trump's comments "shameful." Watch Tapper's whole takedown, which aired Tuesday on his show The Lead, below. Kimberly Alters

Kimberly Alters

4:04 p.m. ET
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The National Football League announced host cities for the 2019 through 2021 Super Bowls on Tuesday. Next year's Super Bowl LI will be held in Houston, it was announced in 2013, while in 2014 the league decided to send 2018's Super Bowl LII to Minneapolis. Today's announcement reveals Super Bowl LIII will take place in Atlanta in 2019, Super Bowl LIV in Miami in 2020, and Super Bowl LV in Los Angeles in 2021.

Several of the games will be held in entirely new stadiums: The 53rd championship game, in Atlanta, will be in the yet-to-be-constructed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Minneapolis' U.S. Bank Stadium is only expected to open this fall. The 2021 Los Angeles game brings the championship back to the site of Super Bowl I and will be played in the Los Angeles Rams' proposed stadium in Inglewood. Jeva Lange

3:32 p.m. ET
Twitter.com/TimesLive

An ultra-rare "werewolf cat" is believed to have been discovered by an animal rescue group in South Africa, ABC News reports. Dubbed Eyona, meaning "the one," the tiny kitten is thought to belong to the rare Lykoi breed — a natural mutation that occurs in domestic shorthair cats and makes them "resemble a werewolf."

Since 2011, there have only been 34 known natural Lykoi mutations in the world; Eyona would be the 35th. At this point, there is no DNA test available to confirm he is indeed a Lykoi, although tests have ruled him out of being similar breeds, like a Devon Rex or a Sphinx.

Veterinarian Johnny Gobble and his wife, Brittney, of Sweetwater, Tennessee, established the Lykoi breed and from photos, they think Eyona is one of the rare natural occurrences. "From the photos and the descriptions I have received, I think Eyona is a natural occurring Lykoi. All the Lykoi that started the breed occurred naturally. They came from shelters, off the streets, and rescues. That is why we call them the second chance breed. We have no genetic test for the Lykoi gene yet, but we have a genetic group working on it," Gobble said.

Lykois can cost $1,950, but the shelter says their main focus now is finding Eyona a loving home. Learn more about the strange little guy, below. Jeva Lange

3:04 p.m. ET
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders' request Tuesday for a recanvass of the results from the Kentucky Democratic presidential primary is apparently proof that he really is going to fight for every last vote he can get. Though results show a nail-bitingly close race between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, with Sanders losing by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote, the review of voting tallies from each of Kentucky's 120 counties that Sanders' campaign has requested isn't likely to change the results much at all. The recanvass, which is different from a recount, is merely a review of voting tallies from voting machines and absentee ballots.

Both Sanders and Clinton have already won 27 delegates each from the primary contest. The only thing still up for grabs is one delegate, from the state's sixth congressional district. If the recanvass finds Sanders won that district, then he could win that last remaining delegate. However, current tallies show Clinton leading by about 500 votes in that district.

That one extra delegate is the best-case scenario for Sanders. If he isn't found to win the sixth district, but the recanvass wins him enough votes elsewhere to tip the state as a whole his way, then he'll still walk away from the recanvass in the exact same place he started: 766 delegates behind Clinton. Becca Stanek

2:51 p.m. ET
J.D. Pooley/Getyy Images

Researchers studying the spread of disease can have a difficult time getting reliable information about how populations of people travel between locations. Thankfully, said populations do tend to wander around with tiny electronic transmitters in their pockets. In other words, by tapping into cell phone records, researchers are at last beginning to explore how to make more accurate epidemic models in anticipation of when the next big disease outbreak hits.

Flavio Finger of the École Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne in Switzerland put the cell phone data to the test in Senegal, Discover reports. Finger used records kept by the country's main service provider, which charts what tower a user's phone connects to when a call or text is sent, and when. Relying on that data, Finger was able to successfully chart the flow of religious pilgrims during a 2005 cholera outbreak:

Armed with the mobile phone records that showed the pilgrims’ routes home in 2013, the model reproduced the real-world spread of the cholera epidemic to ten of the country’s eleven arrondissements with returning pilgrims in 2005.

And according to the model, if authorities had managed to reduce contamination in Touba by just 10 percent during the 2005 Touba, they could have reduced the number of cholera cases by 23 percent in Diourbel and 18 percent across Senegal. [Discover]

Finger and his team are already at work on putting together a version of the model that could be rolled out quickly at the start of an outbreak. Jeva Lange

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