Try not to get queasy watching these guys test the world's tallest water slide
Prepare to get the schlitt scared out of you. Kansas City's Schlitterbahn water park will soon start operating The Verrückt, billed as the world's tallest water slide at 17 stories high.
The aptly named Verrückt (it's the German word for "crazy") stands 168 feet, 7 inches tall, and riders will have to climb up 264 steps to get to the top. After that strenuous trek, they will get strapped into a large raft and sent hurtling down the slide (which does have a net covering it) at speeds of up to 65 mph.
On Twitter Tuesday, Schlitterbahn announced that the slide will open on Thursday. Until then, (try to) enjoy the video below, which shows water park designer Jeff Henry and ride engineer John Schooley going for a test run. --Catherine Garcia
Malaysia Airlines website hacked by ISIS supporters
Malaysia Airlines confirmed Monday that its website had been "compromised," but it said that no customer data was at risk.
On Sunday night, the website displayed the message "ISIS will prevail" and a fake "404" page reading "Plane not Found." Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared last March, has yet to be found.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 26, 2015
Other "404" messages on the site featured a lizard wearing a tophat and a monocle. The "Lizard Squad" hacker group, which refers to itself as the "Cyber Caliphate," has taken responsibility for the attack on Malaysia Airlines' website. The Lizard Squad Twitter account accused Malaysia Airlines of "lying," saying that customer data had indeed been compromised.
Malaysia Airlines released a statement on its Facebook page asserting that "user data remains secured."
French court forbids parents from naming daughter 'Nutella'
A French court has ruled that a couple's decision to name their child "Nutella" was "contrary to the child's interest." The court also ruled the same for another child who had been named "Strawberry."
The Valenciennes court renamed the child formerly known as "Nutella," giving her the name "Ella" when her parents failed to show up at a court date in November. The baby was born in September, according to French newspaper La Voix Du Nord.
The court noted that "Nutella" is "the trade name of a spread," and naming a child "Nutella" would "only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts."
Kurdish forces now control 90 percent of Kobani, activists say
Islamic State militants have been almost completely pushed out of the strategically and symbolically important Syrian border city of Kobani, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have fought their way into Kobani's Maqtalah neighborhood, and now control at least 90 percent of the city, the monitoring group said Monday. The long battle for Kobani has pitted ISIS against the YPG and Iraqi Kurds, plus other Syrian rebel groups and U.S.-led airstrikes.
Turkey blocks Facebook pages that 'insult' the Prophet Muhammad
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reports that an Ankara court has ordered authorities to censor Facebook pages that "insult" the Prophet Muhammad.
If the pages aren't blocked, the court threatened to block all Facebook access, according to The Associated Press.
The news is the latest in Turkey's internet censorship. The ban comes just days after a separate court voted to block Turkey's access to Charlie Hebdo's latest cover, which satirizes the Prophet Muhammad.
Airlines cancel 3,400 flights due to East Coast mega-blizzard
The Northeastern U.S. should prepare itself for a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard" through Tuesday, the National Weather Service says. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was no less dramatic in his warnings: "I want everyone to understand that we are facing — most likely — one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city," he said. "Don't underestimate this storm." Among those heeding the warnings: Airlines.
As of Monday morning, airlines have canceled more than 1,800 flights on Monday and another 1,600 on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com. United, for example, has scratched all flights on Tuesday at the New York City area's three main airports plus Logan in Boston and Philadelphia International Airport. The National Weather Service is forecasting up to 3 feet of snow in New York and points north, plus winds as strong as 75 miles per hour. Watch de Blasio ask all you New Yorkers to stay safe. —Peter Weber
Secret Service finds 'device' on White House grounds
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was unable to say early Monday what the unidentified "device" was that the Secret Service found somewhere on the White House grounds, nor where it was found, but he did say that "early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat right now to anybody at the White House." The New York Times suggests that maybe the object was a drone.
Earnest spoke from New Delhi, India, where he's traveling with President Obama and the first lady, and he referred all further questions to the Secret Service. Obama daughters Sasha and Malia stayed behind in Washington. You can watch Earnest not provide much information below. —Peter Weber
Miss Colombia Paulina Vega crowned Miss Universe
On Sunday night, Miss Colombia Paulina Vega beat out 87 other contestants in Miami to win the Miss Universe crown. Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, was first runner-up. Vega, 22, is a business student who's pretty new to beauty pageants and says she wants to own her own business, because "it gives me independence." She takes over from last year's Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler from neighboring Venezuela. Her yearlong reign will include a luxury apartment in New York, a new wardrobe, a salary, and a scholarship to the New York Film Academy. Below, you can watch the moment Vega learns she won. —Peter Weber
Watch Donald Trump explain why Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush can't win in 2016
Several viable 2016 Republican presidential candidates spoke over the weekend at Iowa Rep. Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit. So did Donald Trump.
As he has for the past two presidential elections, Trump suggested that he might run next year. "I'm the one person who can make this country great again, that's all I know," he told reporters after his speech. "If I run for president, and if I win, I would totally succeed in creating jobs, defeating ISIS, and stopping the Islamic terrorists, reducing the budget deficit, securing our southern border, stopping nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere."
As amusing as that is, Trump really hit his stride during the speech, when he explained to the gathered Republicans why the two presumptive GOP establishment frontrunners, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney (neither of whom attended), can't win. Watch Trump's relatively astute punditry below. —Peter Weber
Dozens of police officers killed in the Philippines after fighting rebels
Military officials say that at least 30 people were killed during fighting on Sunday between police and Muslim rebels in the Philippines.
Officials in Mamasapano said 27 police officers and five rebels were killed, while seven other police officers were missing and eight had been captured by rebels, Reuters reports. An army spokesman said the police were trying to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir, a bomb expert from Malaysia with a $5 million bounty on his head.
The skirmish is likely to strike a blow to an agreement that the government reached last March with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Their deal — which involved Moro giving up its weapons and the government giving the Muslim minority more economic and political power — brought to an end 45 years of conflict that left 120,000 dead and two million displaced.
In friendly India visit, Obama becomes first president to attend Republic Day Parade
President Obama began a three-day visit to India on Sunday, and the protocol-bending hug at the airport from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the tone for a day filled with public displays of affection. The two leaders said the visit marked an era of "new trust" between the sometimes-uneasy allies, and announced a breakthrough on a long-stalled civil nuclear agreement plus partnerships on defense and curbing some greenhouse gas emissions.
Obama spent most of Sunday in talks with Modi, who said at a press conference afterward that "the chemistry that has brought Barack and me closer has also brought Washington and Delhi closer." But the big event in Obama's visit was on Monday, when he became the first U.S. president to attend India's Republic Day Parade, as the personal guest of Modi.
The parade, to celebrate the enactment of India's democratic constitution, "is part Soviet-style display of India's military hardware, part Macy's Thanksgiving Day-type parade with floats highlighting India's cultural diversity," explains The Associated Press' Julie Pace. You can get a taste of Obama's parade-watching experience in this AP video, and watch a Reuters report on the first day of Obama's visit below. —Peter Weber