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Nature's Nightmares
May 21, 2014

A massage is tough to pass up — except maybe at the Philippines' Cebu City Zoo, where you can get rubbed down by four giant Burmese pythons, free of charge.

The four deadly snakes, collectively weighing more than 550 pounds, crawl on visitors and begin a treatment that is described as "therapeutic" and "calming."

Before the massage begins, guests are briefed on how to behave around the reptiles. It's important for guests not to shout for help or breathe too heavily, lest they run the risk of upsetting the snake and being squeezed to death.

But don't worry — each python is fed 10 chickens before the massage begins, so the reptiles shouldn't be craving any more food. Just hope they're not hungry for seconds. Kaitlin Roberts

2016 Watch
8:47 a.m. ET
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addressed the Democratic National Committee in Minneapolis on Friday, taking the opportunity to criticize party leaders over the midterm elections and their hesitancy to take his candidacy seriously, Politico reports.

"Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor's races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout," said Sanders, who is not a member of the party.

Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who reportedly has a strong grip on party superdelegates, expressed frustration Friday at the continuing focus on her use of a personal email server while secretary of state. Long-shot candidates Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee also spoke, while Jim Webb skipped the meeting. Julie Kliegman

court reports
8:03 a.m. ET
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

An Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to prison Saturday in a case sparking sharp criticism from human rights groups, Reuters reports. Canadian national Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, and Australian journalist Peter Greste all received three years in prison for operating without a press license and broadcasting "fake news." Mohamed's sentence is six months longer because he reportedly had a spent bullet casing at the time of his arrest.

The new verdict came a year after the men received sentences of seven to 10 years, which prompted an international outcry and a retrial order from Egypt's highest appeals court.

"This is a farcical verdict which strikes at the heart of freedom of expression in Egypt," Amnesty International said in a statement.

Amal Clooney, Fahmy's attorney, said she plans to appeal the verdict. Julie Kliegman

Katrina at 10
August 28, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush on Friday visited New Orleans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophe that was one of the low points of Bush's tenure. Bush praised the city's post-hurricane recovery, saying, "New Orleans is back, and better than ever." President Obama toured the city on Thursday, praising the city's resilience while also saying more needs to be done.

Read more at The New York Times. Ryu Spaeth

Not much has changed
August 28, 2015
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Turns out, Donald Trump was born this way. Even back in his college days, he was the same "brash, blunt, and sometimes bombastic personality" that we're all watching dominate the Republican presidential stage. Indeed, according to a new profile of The Donald in The Boston Globe, his signature antics may date as far back as the second grade.

While Trump is now merely throwing verbal punches at his foes, as a second grader he actually socked his music teacher because he "didn't think the teacher knew enough about music," The Globe reports. From there, Trump's story unfolds with one Donald-esque moment after the other. Here are some of the best:

  • Trump was voted "Ladies Man" by his all-male high school peers.
  • In college, he gave a professor this response when the class was asked why they'd chosen to study real estate: "I'm going to be the king of New York real estate." "Sit down, you [expletive]," one of his classmates recalls thinking.
  • One of Trump's former roommates recalls him being so meticulous that he "fold[ed] his underwear into squares and stack[ed] them neatly on a shelf."
  • During rides home from high school on a Port Authority bus, Trump would point out all of his dad's buildings in Queens. "My dad, he built all those homes over there," one classmate recalls him saying.
  • Trump's college attire, according to actress Candice Bergen, consisted of a "two-piece burgundy suit with matching burgundy patent leather boots, and, a particularly nice touch, a matching burgundy limousine." Bergen turned down Trump's request for a date.

But perhaps even better than these young Trump tales is this quote from one of The Donald's old classmates that sums him up all too well: "Tact wasn't his strong suit then and it isn't now."

Read the full profile over at The Boston Globe. Becca Stanek

This just in
August 28, 2015
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Just one week before its season begins, the University of Illinois has fired head football coach Tim Beckman. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reports Beckman's dismissal comes after an external review into the Illini football program found evidence of "efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players" to avoid treatment and play through injuries.

"The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I've chose to act accordingly," University of Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said in a statement Friday announcing the firing. Thomas added that in addition to the medical concerns, Beckman treated some student-athletes "inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year," when their time as active members of the team was over.

It seems like the news may have come as a shock to Beckman, given that he had tweeted his excitement about upcoming opening day just an hour earlier:

Beckman coached the Illini for three seasons and amassed a 12-25 record. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will be the interim head coach for the coming season. Kimberly Alters

Only in America
August 28, 2015
iStock

Facing a need for $743 million worth of repairs to crumbling infrastructure, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, has told residents the city can fix its many potholes through the power of prayer. "Yes, I believe we can pray potholes away," said Mayor Tony Yarber, who is also a church pastor, on Twitter. "Moses prayed," he said, "and a sea opened." The Week Staff

This just in
August 28, 2015
AP Photo/Jim Cole

Former St. Paul's prep student Owen Labrie, 19, was found not guilty in a high profile rape trial that cast a pall over the prestigious New Hampshire school. Labrie faced nine charges, three of which were for felony sexual assault. The jury only found Labrie guilty of a few misdemeanors, such as seducing a minor on the internet and misdemeanor sexual assault, NBC reports.

Prosecutors claimed that Labrie had raped a 15-year-old as part of a school tradition, called Senior Salute, where graduating students try to have sex with underclassmen. Labrie testified that he had two consensual sexual contacts that stopped before intercourse.

"I said, 'No, no, no, keep it up here,'" his accuser told the court, describing how she had tried to fight Labrie off. "I tried to be as polite as possible … I wanted to not cause a conflict." Jeva Lange

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