Talkin' 'bout girls, talkin' bout trucks
May 15, 2014

If you're sick of what has become of America's music, you're not alone. Country music star Collin Raye is speaking out about it on Fox News. Here's an excerpt:

There appears to be not even the slightest attempt to "say" anything other than to repeat the tired, overused mantra of redneck party boy in his truck, partying in said truck, hoping to get lucky in the cab of said truck, and his greatest possible achievement in life is to continue to be physically and emotionally attached to the aforementioned truck as all things in life should and must take place in his, you guessed it... truck.

Like Raye, I'm not inherently opposed to this strain of country music, but it has become dominant and ubiquitous. "I didn't mind the first two or three hundred versions of these gems," said Raye, "but I think we can all agree by now that everything's been said about a redneck and his truck, that can possibly be said."

The beauty of country music is that it is honest and authentic. It tells us stories we can identify with. That doesn't mean it can't sometimes also be fun and silly — and occasionally employ an obvious double entendre, or two. Johnny Cash managed to do it all pretty darn well.

But at some point, modern country became a parody of itself, often reinforcing or overemphasizing country stereotypes. The pendulum has swung too far to the silly "bro" side of things. When it comes to today's country, "They sound tired, but they don't sound Haggard" — or, as my colleague Eric Keefeld lamented, at some point, "modern country became Cheap Trick with trucker hats."

Final Arguments
12:11 a.m. ET

On Sunday, thousands of Russians marched in Moscow in remembrance of prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead Friday night. Less than three hours before he was killed, Nemtsov was on the radio, promoting Sunday's march — originally planned as an opposition rally — and denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said Russia needs to "hold honest elections" and "abolish censorship," according to a translation from Reuters.

But Nemtsov also weighed in on Russia's involvement in Ukraine: "The main reason of the crisis is that Putin started that insane, aggressive, murderous — for our country and for many of our citizens — policy of war with Ukraine. The presence of the Russian troops there is well-documented." Putin says he has personally taken control of the investigation into Nemtsov's murder, and promised the dissident's mother he will find the killers. Watch parts of Nemtsov's final interview below. —Peter Weber

oh canada
March 1, 2015

Canadian fans of Leonard Nimoy are paying tribute to the late actor by grabbing their markers and "Spocking" $5 bills.

The Canadian Design Resource came up with the idea to transform the current face of the $5 bill, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, into Nimoy's iconic Star Trek character. CDR publisher Todd Falkowsky told Quartz that it's the perfect bill to customize. "The existing portraits are quite large and can be improvised with easily, and the color of our $5s are the same blue as Spock's uniform," he said.

While defacing bank notes isn't outright illegal, it's frowned upon, Mashable reports. In 2002, a Bank of Canada spokeswoman said it "strongly objects to any mutilation or defacement of bank notes," as it limits the life of the bills and it costs to replace them. Still, marked up notes are still legal tender and can be used in transactions.

ISIS
March 1, 2015

A former ISIS fighter says that the man known as "Jihadi John" is a "cold loner" who was eager to appear in propaganda videos.

The defector, who calls himself Abu Ayman, told the BBC that he met Jihadi John, identified publicly last week as Mohammed Emwazi, in the northern Syrian town of Atmeh. "He didn't talk much," he said. "He wouldn't join us in prayer. He'd only pray with his friends. ...the other Brutish brothers prayed with us, but he was strange." Emwazi would refuse to say hello and turn his face away, Abu Ayman said, and wouldn't spend time with his fellow fighters from Britain.

Abu Ayman said Emwazi became Jihadi John because "ISIS have professional psychologists. They know who to choose from the fighters and how to make them famous. Still, there was nothing special about Jihadi John...anyone could have become like him." Abu Ayman said he left after being told to kill a woman and children, but many others are flooding into Syria after seeing the brutal videos of Emwazi released by ISIS. "He's a celebrity to attract our Muslim brothers in Europe," he said.

your health
March 1, 2015
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The World Health Organization has a warning: 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to listening to their music too loud and spending too much time in noisy venues.

WHO analyzed data from studies in "middle- and high-income countries" and found that almost 50 percent of people between 12-35 are exposed to unsafe sound on their personal audio devices, and 40 percent are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at bars, nightclubs, sporting events, and other entertainment venues. "As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss," Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, said in a statement. "They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won't come back. Taking simple preventative actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk."

WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 decibels up to a maximum of eight hours per day, and 100 decibels for no more than 15 minutes in venues like bars and clubs. Young people are also advised to wear earplugs in noisy establishments.

This just in
March 1, 2015
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Moscow police detained Alexei Goncharenko, a member of Ukraine's parliament, as he marched with demonstrators on Sunday in honor of slain Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, The Associated Press reports.

Russian officials said Goncharenko was being questioned about his alleged involvement in a fire that broke out in Odessa last year. The fire in Goncharenko's home city killed dozens, including some Russian citizens, amid demonstrations by pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia protesters.

Ukraine's parliament denounced the detention and said Goncharenko has diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately.

Tech Check
March 1, 2015
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Take out "Apple" in "Apple Pay," add in "Samsung," and you have the new mobile-payment system announced by the Korean firm on Sunday, The Guardian reports.

Samsung is teaming up with MasterCard to offer Samsung users a way to pay with their mobile phone for in-store transactions. Only Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones will support the service for now.

Samsung previously collaborated with PayPal and Google Wallet on similar mobile payment initiatives, but The Guardian notes that Apple Pay revitalized interest in the technology, spurring competitors to revamp their own offerings.

Quotables
March 1, 2015
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday downplayed tension caused by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress, The Washington Post reports.

"The prime minister is welcome in the United States at any time,” Kerry said on ABC'sThis Week. "We have an unparalleled close security relationship with Israel, and we will continue to. We don't want to see this turned into some great political football."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the Obama administration, a perceived slight, especially considering Netanyahu plans to talk about his concerns over the U.S. role in ongoing Iranian nuclear talks. Kerry did admit that the situation was "odd, if not unique,” but added that "the administration is not seeking to politicize this.”

Playing politics
March 1, 2015

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, appearing on CNN, on Sunday raised questions about Hillary Clinton's ethical judgment. Reports last week showed that the Clinton Foundation accepted donations from seven foreign governments — at least one of which reportedly violated an ethics agreement between the Obama administration and Clinton while she was secretary of state, The Washington Post notes.

"Are you going to trust an individual who has taken that much money from a foreign source?" Perry asked. "Where's your loyalty? I'm really concerned, not just going forward, but what has been received at the Clinton Foundation over the course of years and how that affects this individual's judgement."

Watch Perry's full response in the video, below. —Sarah Eberspacher

Ebola
March 1, 2015
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Texas nurse Nina Pham survived her encounter with the Ebola virus, but the 26-year-old told The Dallas Morning News in an exclusive interview that she still suffers nightmares, body aches, and insomnia following her fight against the disease.

Pham contracted Ebola while caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Now, she is suing the hospital's parent company, Texas Health Resources, for what she says was inadequate training and protection for hospital workers. Pham is asking for unspecified damages for turning her into "a symbol of corporate neglect," she said.

"I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven't risen to the occasion," Pham said.

Read the full interview over at The Dallas Morning News.

survey says
March 1, 2015
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A poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 48 percent of American voters believe congressional Republicans should not have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, without first consulting President Barack Obama. Thirty percent said the invitation was fine, and 22 percent had no opinion.

The issue was overwhelmingly a partisan one; 66 percent of Democrats disagreed with the decision, while just 28 percent of Republicans were against the upcoming speech.

Netanyahu will address Congress on Tuesday, calling himself an "emissary" of the Jewish people. The Israeli prime minister is expected to voice his disagreement with a potential deal on Iran's nuclear program. While both Israel and the U.S. oppose Iran's building of a nuclear bomb, Israel wants the country to shutter all nuclear activity, while President Barack Obama has seemed more willing to allow Iran to continue some parts of its program, with implemented safeguards.

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