FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 8, 2014
Thinkstock

With a diet rich in fat but few heart-related health problems, how do polar bears have it all? Scientists said today the answer is in their genes. Since the white furry creatures split off from their brown bear cousins some 500,000 years ago, polar bears have "undergone remarkable genetic changes" that allow them to eat a high-fat diet.

Researchers said genes relating to the bear's cardiovascular functions and fatty acid metabolism have mutated to let them eat a diet full of fatty meat from seals and fish without risking heart attacks or disease. "For polar bears, being very fat is no problem," said ecologist Eline Lorenzen, who added that the extra fat helps the bears survive in the Arctic's freezing climate.

The study may help humans in the long run, too: Researchers are trying to learn more about the bears' DNA "to modulate human physiology down the line." Jordan Valinsky

3:56 a.m. ET

On Monday, Craig Wright released evidence purporting to prove that he is "Satoshi Nakamoto," the pseudonymous inventor of digital currency Bitcoin. Wright, an Australian computer scientist and entrepreneur, told BBC News and The Economist that he was coming forward reluctantly. "I have not done this because it is what I wanted," he told BBC News. "It's not because of my choice." Wired and Gizmodo claimed that Wright was the Bitcoin founder in December, though there has been a history of mispointed finders: A March 2014 report in Newsweek had wrongly identified Dorian S. Nakamoto, a California physicist, as the Bitcoin founder.

Along with the BBC and The Economist, Wright shared his evidence beforehand with GQ. It includes digital coins that only Satoshi Nakamoto would have, including "blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January [2009] as the first bitcoin transaction," Wright said, referring to a renowned cryptographer he says helped turn Bitcoin into reality. "I was the main part of it, but other people helped me," he added. BBC News spoke with Bitcoin experts who believe that Wright really is Nakamoto, but The Economist is a little skeptical.

"Our conclusion is that he could well be Mr. Nakamoto, but that nagging questions remain," The Economist said. "In fact, it may never be possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt who really created Bitcoin. Whether people, particularly Bitcoin cognoscenti, actually believe Mr. Wright will depend greatly on what he does next, after going public." Wright did tell The Economist where he came up with the name, citing the 17th-century Japanese philosopher and merchant Tomonaga Nakamoto, a free trade proponent, though he wouldn't reveal where "Satoshi" came from ("Some things should remain secret," Wright said).

The Economist also points out that the Bitcoin community is enmeshed in a big debate about the direction the cryptocurrency should take, and that if Wright is accepted as Nakamoto, "his return from obscurity would most certainly change the dynamics of the debate about bitcoin’s future direction." You can watch Wright talk to BBC News below. Peter Weber

2:54 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

An Illinois woman is suing Starbucks on behalf of all customers whose cups runneth over with ice.

Stacy Pincus filed a class action lawsuit last week in Northern Illinois Federal Court, court documents say, claiming that so much ice is put into cold drinks that Starbucks customers are cheated out of liquid and paying for more product than what they actually receive. "The word 'beverage' is defined as a 'drinkable liquid,'" the suit says. "Ice is not a 'beverage' by definition. Accordingly, Starbucks actually gives the customer much less beverage in the cold drinks they order and pay for."

The lawsuit maintains that the cups are filled with extra ice so Starbucks can make more money "to the detriment of consumers who are misled by Starbucks' intentionally misleading advertising practices." Pincus says the suit is on behalf of any customer who has purchased a cold drink from Starbucks within the past decade, NBC News reports, and it also offers Starbucks a free suggestion: Start using bigger cups so the advertised amount of liquid can be served, along with the ice. Starbucks told TMZ if a customer isn't pleased with the drink they receive they can ask for a new one, but their guests "understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any 'iced' beverage.'" Catherine Garcia

2:13 a.m. ET

Climbers making their way up the Shishapangma mountain in Tibet have found the bodies of famed mountaineer Alex Lowe and cameraman David Bridges, who died in an October 1999 avalanche.

Lowe, 40, and Bridges, 29, planned to climb up Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world, then ski down it. At 19,000 feet, as they scouted routes, they spotted snow falling down from 6,000 feet above. Their friend, elite climber Conrad Anker, survived the avalanche. In a statement, Lowe's widow, Jenni Lowe-Anker, said the remains were discovered in a partially melted glacier, and after the climbers described to Anker the clothing and backpacks found with the bodies, he concluded they were Bridges and Lowe. The pair were "captured and frozen in time," Lowe-Anker said. "Sixteen years of life has been lived and now they are found. We are thankful."

Lowe was seen as the world's greatest mountain climber at the time of his death, and he twice reached the summit of Mount Everest and scaled Nepal's Kwangde and Kusum Kanguru. Lowe-Anker and Anker married in 2001, and run the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation from Montana. Anker told Outside magazine that he has not seen any photographs of the remains, but is convinced they belong to Lowe and Bridges. Catherine Garcia

1:45 a.m. ET
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, outlining his case for why Democratic superdelegates should abandon Hillary Clinton and side with him. His first argument, which he makes frequently, is that polls show him beating Donald Trump by wider margins than Clinton in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. "They're going to have to go into their hearts, and they are going to have to ask, do they want the second strongest candidate to run against Trump or do they want the strongest candidate?" Sanders said.

Sanders' second argument was that he is "entitled" to the support of superdelegates in states he won by large margins, using Washington State as an example — he won the caucus with 73 percent of the vote, but 10 Washington superdelegates have backed Clinton while none have backed him. "I would ask the superdelegates from the state of Washington to respect the wishes of the people in their state," he said. Even if he flipped all the superdelegates in the 11 states his campaign listed, plus won the uncommitted ones, The Washington Post noted, Sanders would net 77 superdelegates, barely denting Clinton's current 520-39 lead. There are 719 superdelegates (including Sanders himself, but not Hillary Clinton), and they can vote for either candidate.

In the pledged delegate count, Clinton is leading Sanders by 327 delegates, according to the Associated Press tally, meaning Sanders has to win 65 percent of the remaining delegates to catch up with Clinton in pledged delegates. At Sunday's news conference, a reporter asked Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine if the Sanders plan to win by poaching Democratic Party insiders was "strange," given his anti-Establishment campaign message. "Can I use 'ironic' instead of 'strange?'" Devine replied. Peter Weber

1:28 a.m. ET

Meet John Kasich, wingman.

After participating in a town hall–style meeting Friday in San Francisco, the Ohio governor and long shot Republican presidential candidate assisted Julia Khan, a local high school student, with asking her friend to prom. Khan recorded Kasich saying, "Hey Nico, it would be 'Kay-sick' if you would go to the prom with Julia," and it worked — later that day, she tweeted, "He said yes!!"

Khan revealed to ABC News that she had already decided with Nico last month that they would go to prom together, but she jumped at the opportunity to "have a presidential candidate help me ask my friend to prom." The 17-year-old and her date aren't backing Kasich — Khan said they are both fans of Hillary Clinton — but she does have a "lot of respect" for Kasich and the fact that he took questions from audience members during his Friday event. Kasich isn't holding that against Khan and Nico, and told them on Twitter to have an "awesome time!" Catherine Garcia

1:18 a.m. ET

Last Week Tonight is on break this week, "but we wanted to quickly address one absolutely huge story," John Oliver said in a web-only video posted Sunday night. That story is the horde of cicadas set to swarm the northeastern U.S. this summer, with the current batch hatching from the ground for the first time since they were conceived in 1999. "And if they're anything like humans conceived in 1999," Oliver said, "I'm guessing all the girl cicadas are named Madison and the boy cicadas are named Tyler."

But these cicadas won't be here for long — they will live for 2-6 noisy weeks, mate, and then die. "So they don't spend too much time catching up on what they missed, I just want to take a few minutes now to get them up to speed on what has happened in the last 17 years," Oliver said. He remembers a lot of things you may have forgotten — or forgotten are just plain weird — and he got in a particularly sly joke about Bill Cosby and a dig at Boston Red Sox fans (but not Curt Schilling). Yes, there is one Donald Trump reference, but you'll have to wait until the end to see it. Peter Weber

12:38 a.m. ET
Getty Images

It's been five years since Osama bin Laden was killed inside his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound, and neighbors say things haven't been the same since.

The bin Laden compound was razed a few months after his death. Bin Laden's closest neighbor was 84-year-old Zain Baba, who worked with his son as a night watchman for Arshad Khan, a man who lived in the bin Laden compound with his brother. Khan was known to American intelligence as bin Laden's courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, and they traced phone calls he made to the compound.

Baba lived across the street in a small house, and because he had access to some areas of the compound, he was picked up by Pakistani intelligence and held in custody for two months. "They would tie our hands, blindfold us, and take us for long drives from one place to another," he told the BBC. "They wanted to know if we saw Osama in the compound. We kept telling them that we didn't see anyone except the two brothers and some children." Even today, he says, "men in plain clothes riding government vehicles" approach him after he grants interviews to foreign journalists, and warn against "talking to such people." Read more about the neighbors rounded up after the bin Laden raid — including a policeman who still hasn't returned home — at the BBC. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads