medical alert
March 28, 2014
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It sounds like something straight out of a futuristic movie: A patient comes into an emergency room with a severe gunshot wound, having less than a 7 percent chance of survival. To buy time for an extensive surgery, doctors quickly replace his blood with a cold saline solution that forces hypothermia and stops most cellular activity. Now that his body is sufficiently cooled and there is no breathing or brain activity, the patient isn't alive, but he's also not dead. He's in suspended animation — and this technique will soon be tried for the first time at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

"We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction," Samuel Tisherman, the surgeon leading the Pittsburgh trial, tells New Scientist. "So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation." Currently, the technique should buy the doctors just a few hours, but that period of suspended animation could be enough to save a life.

One of the surgeons who helped develop this method, Peter Rhee from the University of Arizona in Tucson, says he strongly believes in the power of suspended animation after seeing pigs make a full recovery in trials. "After we did these experiments, the definition of 'dead' changed," he tells New Scientist. "Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag. It's frustrating to know there's a solution." Read more at New Scientist.

POTUS listens
8:20 a.m. ET

Friday's weekly StoryCorp interview featured Noah McQueen, 18, and a special interviewer, President Obama. McQueen — part of the president's year-old My Brother's Keeper initiative, a program for young men of color — started out talking about his unstable childhood and run-ins with the law.

"Did you know your dad?" Obama asked. When McQueen said yes "but, you know, he's down the street," and he didn't have a relationship with him, the president brought up his own absent father: "Well, that's one of the things we have in common. As I get older, I start reflecting on how that affected me. How do you think that affected you?" You can listen to the whole interview below, and it's worth it to hear McQueen talk about his pivotal trip to a Christian retreat:

Obama isn't the first sitting president to do a StoryCorps interview, the organization notes: George W. Bush and Laura Bush sat down with Bush's sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, after the 2008 election.

Discoveries
7:54 a.m. ET

Crikey.

Paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History and the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, found remains from an astonishing seven ancient crocodile species during a dig in northeastern Peru, near Iquitos. Three of the species are newly identified, and the crocodiles are estimated to have lived 13 million years ago.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the scientists explain that the find marks the largest number of crocodile species to cohabit one area in all of Earth's history. The crocodile fossils offer unprecedented insight about the region's ecosystem before the Amazon river was formed, about 10.5 million years ago.

The researchers note that the crocodiles lived at the peak of ancient wetlands' size, and the various crocodile species could have survived thanks to a variety of available food sources. For example, the Gnatusuchus pebasensis species had rounded teeth and a snout to gather clams from swamp bottoms, while other species had longer snouts to catch swimming fish.

The scientists believe the Amazon river system caused a downturn in mollusk populations, which caused crocodile species like Gnatusuchus to go extinct. Other species with "broader palates," meanwhile, were able to survive, the researchers noted.

Greek debt crisis
7:07 a.m. ET
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On Friday, Germany's lower house of parliament voted, 542 to 32, to approve a four-month extension of Greece's financial bailout. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had reluctantly urged his colleagues to approve the extension, arguing that failing to do so would cause Germany and Europe "great damage." But "the discussions before and after the elections in Greece didn't make this decision any easier," he added, "and neither have the discussions of the past few days and hours, to put it mildly." Under the terms of the agreement, Greece has to reform its labor laws and judiciary to fight corruption and tax evasion.

RIP
6:42 a.m. ET

In 1950, Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play in the NBA, making his debut with the Washington Capitols before going on to play with the Syracuse Nationals and Detroit Pistons. He won a championship with the Nationals, then became one of the NBA's first black coaches. Lloyd died on Thursday at age 86.

Lloyd said that his first pro appearance on the court — in Rochester, New York, on Oct. 31, 1950 — was pretty low-key, Kenneth Shouler writes at ESPN. "I stepped onto the court and the world kept spinning," Lloyd said. "No one said a word — not the fans, players, anybody. Nothing was ever said about me being the first black. They acted as if I was a player, period." That same season, Charles Cooper and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton also made their NBA debuts.

Even if he was nonchalant about integrating the NBA, other players hold him up as a pioneer. Below, you can watch Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkely talk about what Lloyd meant to them, during a break in Thursday night's Oklahoma City-Phoenix game. —Peter Weber

mysteries of space
5:55 a.m. ET

The Dawn spacecraft is approaching the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are confounded by a photo Dawn sent back from 29,000 miles away.

NASA's Hubble telescope had photographed a light spot on the dwarf planet in 2004, but "Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin," principle investigator Chris Russell said in a statement. He speculated that the spots have a "volcanolike origin," but said higher-resolution photos are needed to make any firm conclusion.

For now, "this is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us," adds Andreas Natheues at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. Dawn is expected to enter orbit around Ceres on March 16 and spend 16 months orbiting what scientists has previously called an "embryonic planet," stunted by the massive gravity of Jupiter. Hopefully Dawn's sojourn around Ceres will solve the mystery of the twin "bright spots."

This is terrible
5:06 a.m. ET

On Thursday night, assailants attacked Avijit Roy, a U.S. blogger and writer, and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, with meat cleavers on a crowded sidewalk in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. Roy died in the hospital, and Banna was seriously injured. Roy, born in Bangladesh but a U.S. citizen, started the website Mukto-mona, or "Free Mind" in Bengali, and his friends and family say he had received threats for his writings about science and against religious extremism.

"He was a free thinker," friend and fellow blogger Baki Billah told Independent TV. "He was a Hindu but he was not only a strong voice against Islamic fanatics but also equally against other religious fanatics." Islamic extremists have been blamed for previous, unsolved attacks against writers in majority-Muslim Bangladesh. Roy was back in his birth country for a few weeks for the launch of his latest book at a local book fair.

The Daily Showdown
4:23 a.m. ET

"According to a recent study," said Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj on Thursday night's show, "the insanely rich people are leaving behind the lowly, average, regular rich people." Usually when The Daily Show sends correspondents out to cover a story, they find someone willing to act as a foil. This time, everyone — Brookings fellow Richard Reeves, "patriotic millionaire" Morris Pearl, even the yacht vendor — looks at Minhaj as if he's unhinged when he tries to troll up concern about the growing wealth inequality gap in the top 1 percent. That leaves Minhaj as his own patsy, and he ends up with ketchup on his face to make it work. Watch below. —Peter Weber

Watch this
3:34 a.m. ET

Actor and singer Andrew Rannell (Girls, The Book of Mormon) is going to be on the series finale of Glee. But that's all he could say about it on Wednesday night's Tonight Show. And it's a relatively unimportant fact, except that it was the excuse Jimmy Fallon needed to break out the microphones and coax Rannell into singing a duet with him. They're really good, and Spandau Ballet's "True" was such a popular choice that you can catch Ice-T singing along with a big grin on his face. —Peter Weber

ISIS
3:03 a.m. ET
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Islamic State is advancing toward Damascus, the Syrian capital, and seizing Assyrian Christian towns near the Turkish border, abducting at least 220 Christians and destroying irreplaceable works of art. But it is also facing setbacks, including an offensive by Kurdish fighters, new U.S.-led airstrikes, and — according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — a cash flow problem.

"They need money," Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman tells Reuters. "Ever since the airstrikes hit their oil facilities and the Turkish border has been harder to cross, they have increased taxes and looked for ways to make money." Things have gotten so tight, he added, that ISIS has started selling scrap metal from bombed factories and other industrial wreckage in eastern Syria.

ISIS has also reportedly run low on foreign hostages to offer for ransom. The group "gets a material amount of its funding from ransom payments," outgoing U.S. Treasury sanctions czar David Cohen told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. "And it would be to all of our mutual benefit to cut off that source of funding."

last night on late night
2:10 a.m. ET

On Thursday night's Late Night, Seth Meyers broke out his wedding video. Guest and former Saturday Night Live colleague Will Forte had given a toast/roast at Meyers' wedding rehearsal dinner, in character as Hamilton Whiteman, one of Meyers' professed favorite Forte characters at SNL. The 30 seconds of the off-color speech is pretty funny — and here's hoping the remaining 5:30 that Meyers couldn't air on network TV somehow shows up on YouTube. —Peter Weber

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