These aren't your grandmother's vending machines. High-tech kiosks are popping up around the country in shopping malls, gas stations, and everywhere else in between, dispensing $1,000 tins of caviar, customized burritos, and dog cupcakes.
While European and Asian vending machines have long served up all sorts of interesting items (in Japan, you can purchase lettuce that has grown under artificial lighting), U.S. machines have basically just been junk food repositories. That's all changing now: Sprinkles Cupcakes is putting "Cupcake ATMs" in all 16 of their bakeries, each machine holding up to 760 cupcakes (including treats just for dogs), and the Burritobox (now only in the L.A. area) heats up customized burritos at 195 degrees Fahrenheit. "The goal is to do what they do in fast food restaurants inside a machine," creator Denis Koci told the Los Angeles Times.
— Burritobox (@Burritobox) June 24, 2014
This is just the beginning: Koci is working on Pizzaboxes, which will heat pizzas up to 800 degrees, and San Francisco–based Momentum Machines is developing a kiosk that will be able to cook custom burgers. The goal for all the companies is to get into more locations, like schools, though Kelly Stern of Beverly Hills Caviar is focusing on high-end places. In 2010, she closed her caviar shop, saying it was too much of a hassle to deal with employees. She went the self-service way, and now has three "automated boutiques" in malls around the Los Angeles area. "If we can minimize the humans in our company, then we prefer that," Stern told the Times. "When you have physical employees, you don't have a life. Ask any restaurant or supermarket business." Catherine Garcia
The winner of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize isn't Pope Francis or German Chancellor Angela Merkel or any of the other high-profile objects of speculation. On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the prestigious prize to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a civic group, "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011." The Quartet formed in 2013, in the chaos unleashed during the Arab Spring, and the Nobel committee gave the prize to the group rather than its four main member organizations — the Tunisian General Labor Union; the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers — because they "represent different sectors and values in Tunisian society" and thus could "advance peaceful democratic development in Tunisia with great moral authority."
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet didn't turn Tunisia into a peaceful oasis, the Nobel committee noted: The country still "faces significant political, economic, and security challenges." But the Norwegians said awarding the group the Nobel Peace Prize would serve as "an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa, and the rest of the world" and, more directly, "as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries." Peter Weber
Lena Dunham has an email newsletter about women's issues, and she opted for a newsletter because it's "kind of an intimate format," she told Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "We're reaching you in your inbox. You don't have to come to us, we're coming to you." But the newsletter isn't just about women's health, she said; it also includes interviews with political figures and a horoscope. Oh, Kimmel said, "you have a horoscope writer?" Yes, they have "an amazing woman," Dunham said, and Kimmel asked how she does her business. "Is she, like, 'Ah I feel like Pisces is going to have a great, positive day today'?"
Dunham said that the woman, a poet, does her astrological research and translates it into messages for readers. "Do you believe in any of that stuff?" Kimmel asked. "So much," Dunham said. "You do?" Kimmel asked. Dunham she believes in horoscopes and psychics, "Mercury is in retrograde — if any of your technology is failing, that's what's been going on." Kimmel was bemused: "I find it hard to believe that you believe that." Dunham responded like any believer would: "I've felt its effects myself — a psychic told me when I was going to meet my boyfriend." It turned out, they do have one thing in common about psychics: Both of their mothers believe in them. Kimmel noted that his mother's psychic worked a Pizza Hut. "It's hard to make a living on just your psychic abilities," Dunham pointed out. Watch the deep stuff below. Peter Weber
Per Se is now passé — New York City diners are flocking to Pith, a small supper club operating out of a Columbia University student's dorm.
— MyEatingBuddies.com (@MyEatingBuddies) October 6, 2015
Jonah Reider, a senior economics major, uses the communal kitchen to prepare his prix fixe New American meals — one recent dinner included seared lamb chops with paprika, barley with figs, snow peas with pancetta and mushrooms, house pickled red kale stalks with olive, and artisanal cheese. "I think of myself as better than the average college student but definitely not an amazing cook, so I'm pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback," Reider told NBC New York.
— Benny Luo (@bennyluo) October 8, 2015
Reider charges $10 to $20 a meal, and takes reservations four nights a week through Pith's Yelp page, which currently boasts five star reviews. Since opening Pith a few weeks ago, Reider has served a few "randos," but most diners have been friends. Good luck getting a table if you don't have an in — Pith is booked through January, and because the health department is looking into whether it should be held to the same regulations as an actual restaurant, Reider said "I may have to cool down the acceptance of people who I don't know, or the frequency of which this is happening." Reider maintains that even though he is charging for food he cooks, Pith is nothing like a typical dining establishment. "The intention and the atmosphere is not one of a restaurant," he told NBC New York. "It's a collective experience of getting to know people." Catherine Garcia
Researchers in Japan say that children living near the Fukushima nuclear plant have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children in other places.
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) October 9, 2015
"This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected," lead author Toshihide Tsuda told The Associated Press. Since the nuclear meltdowns in 2011, most of the 370,000 children living in the Fukushima prefecture have had ultrasound checkups, with the most recent statistics released in August showing 137 children have confirmed or suspected thyroid cancer, up 25 from last year. In other areas, an estimated one or two of every million children are diagnosed with thyroid cancer annually.
Because of the Chernobyl disaster, scientists have been able to definitively link thyroid cancer in children to radiation, AP reports, and the authors dispute the government's stance that a high number of cases have been found because of constant monitoring. Scott Davis, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Seattle-based School of Public Health, said the study has a lack of individual-level data to estimate actual radiation doses. While that data is needed, David J. Brenner, professor of radiation biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center says, the higher thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima is "not due to screening. It's real."
When treated, thyroid cancer is rarely fatal in children, but they will always have to take medication. The study will be published in the November issue of Epidemiology. Catherine Garcia
An explosion Thursday injured six employees at the Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington.
— M. Alex Johnson (@MAlexJohnson) October 9, 2015
All of the injured workers are employed by Grant County Public Utility District, and their conditions are unknown. Authorities said the explosion was related to a malfunction at the dam, but the investigation is ongoing, KREM reports. The Priest Rapids Dam is on the Columbia River, and the structure is stable, a utility district spokesman said. Catherine Garcia
Donald Trump received loud cheers when he told a crowd in Las Vegas Thursday that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "should have been executed" for leaving his post in southeastern Afghanistan.
"We're tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who's a traitor, a no-good traitor," he told an audience of more than 1,500 people at the Treasure Island hotel-casino. "Thirty years ago, he would have been shot."
Bergdahl has been accused of leaving his post in Afghanistan in July 2009, and was charged in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; he was a prisoner of the Taliban for five years, and was ultimately released in an exchange for five Taliban commanders in U.S. custody. A hearing was held in his case earlier this month, and Bergdahl's attorney, Eugene Fidell, said in a statement Trump "has become a broken record on this subject. If he took the time to study what actually emerged at the preliminary hearing he would be singing a different tune."
During his hour-long speech, Trump also took credit for Kevin McCarthy dropping out of the House speaker's race and brought a woman onstage who said she was a legal Colombian immigrant who planned to vote for Trump, her "No. 1 person in the United States." Catherine Garcia
He served as Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999, and Newt Gingrich said he's willing to do it again — if begged.
"If you were to say to me 218 have called you up and given you their pledge, obviously no citizen could ever turn down that kind of challenge," he said Thursday on Sean Hannity's radio show, after Hannity pressed the issue of a potential return. He also likened himself to a modern-day version of our first president: "This is why George Washington came out of retirement," he said. "Because there are moments you can't avoid."
Gingrich, who resigned from his speaker post following an ethics violation, made his remarks hours after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he was dropping his bid to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner. Gingrich said it's more likely he will instead offer guidance to the Republican conference as a consultant. "It would be more practical" to meet with GOP members "and try to help them think this through," he said. "I think this is a conference-wide problem." There's a Clinton running for president and a Bush running for president, so why not bring Gingrich back for a complete '90s takeover. Catherine Garcia