If New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wins a third term in September, he's going to do some redecorating in the form of changing the country's flag. The Union Jack that adorns the distinctive blue and red flag is a little too "colonial," Key said in a speech Tuesday, noting that the South Pacific nation hasn't been under British rule since 1907.
Key said a new flag should be a nationalistic symbol that is "readily identified by New Zealanders and with New Zealanders." Whatever they have now is not that, he bristled, adding that the new New Zealand flag should be just as distinctive as Canada's and suggested the country's silver fern as an option.
"I admit to liking the silver fern but I'm also open to other ideas and designs," he told Businessweek. "We want a design that says 'New Zealand' in the same way that the maple leaf says 'Canada,' or the Union Jack says 'Britain,' without a word being spoken, or a bar of those countries' anthems being heard."
Any changes depend on Key winning re-election on Sept. 20, so there's still time for you to create a mock-up of Elijah Wood's face embossed on a Lord of the Rings DVD cover. Jordan Valinsky
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and one-time Senate candidate, to head the Small Business Administration, transition team officials said Wednesday. "Linda has a tremendous background and is widely recognized as one of the country's top female executives advising businesses around the globe," Trump said in an announcement, noting McMahon's success in growing WWE from 13 people to 800.
McMahon called small businesses "the largest source of job creation in our country" in a statement, and said her goal would be to ensure those businesses "grow and thrive," Reuters reported. Trump also mentioned she would be vital to his push to reduce federal regulations.
Aside from her failed 2010 bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut, McMahon has not had extensive government experience. However, her ties to Trump go way back: She was a supporter of Trump's presidential campaign from the start, and her husband, Vince McMahon, once got his head shaved by the now president-elect at Wrestlemania XXIII — right after Trump bodyslammed him to the ground and pretended to punch him in the head. Becca Stanek
On Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers passed the "heartbeat bill," a piece of legislation that would ban abortions in the Buckeye State as soon as a fetus' heartbeat can be detected. The heartbeat is typically detectable around the sixth week of pregnancy, but many women are unaware they're pregnant until about the eighth week, when they have likely missed two periods.
If passed, the measure would "effectively be the nation's strictest time-based abortion law," CNN reported. The bill does not offer exceptions, even in instances of incest or rape. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) — who has articulated a strong pro-life stance — will now have 10 days to either veto the bill or sign it into law.
Though the bill has been considered before and rejected by the Senate, Ohio legislators said this seemed like the right time to raise it again. "A new president [and] new Supreme Court justice appointees change the dynamic, and ... there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward," said Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, explaining the timing. He noted he thinks the bill "has a better chance than it did before."
The American Civil Liberties Union has already vowed to challenge the law if it is passed. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) said Wednesday he believes the bill has "been shown to be unconstitutional." Becca Stanek
Two juveniles have been charged with aggravated arson in connection with starting the East Tennessee fires that killed 14 last week, The Washington Post reports. "During the course of the investigation, information was developed that two juveniles allegedly started the fire," the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in their announcement.
The fire started in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and burned 10,000 acres due to a severe drought in the region. Additionally, more than 14,000 people had to evacuate the tourist town of Gatlinburg and an estimated 1,750 structures were damaged or destroyed. Nearly 150 people were additionally injured by the blaze.
The suspects are in custody at a local juvenile detention center, authorities reported. Jeva Lange
Last month, the U.S. exported more natural gas than it imported for the first time in almost 60 years. The country exported 7.4 billion cubic feet of liquefied gas a day in November, compared to the 7 billion cubic feet it imported daily, The Wall Street Journal reports.
American gas exports have jumped more than 50 percent since 2010, and the Department of Energy expects the U.S. to become the third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas by 2020, behind Australia and Qatar. The two biggest U.S. customers are Canada and Mexico, who are partnered with the U.S. through the North American Free Trade Agreement. Plans to export to other partners, like South Korea and Singapore, are already in the works.
There's at least one thing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has remained faithful to throughout the presidential election: his love for cheese. While at a queso competition in Texas on Wednesday, Cruz spent nearly a minute professing his unwavering love for the delectable melted dairy beloved in the Lone Star State. "It speaks to the soul," Cruz said. "Good queso relaxes you."
While Cruz has previously said he loves cheese in general, he indicated Wednesday that queso ranks top cheese in his book. While your run-of-the mill cheese can be served on anything from a cracker to "one of those tiny Vienna sausages," Cruz argued that queso is something special. "Queso is made to be scooped up with tortilla chips, dribbling down your chin and onto your shirt," Cruz said.
Catch Cruz's entire queso monologue below. Becca Stanek
— Jordan Rudner (@jrud) December 7, 2016
On Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, radio station WNYC shared its original broadcast aired on Dec. 7, 1941. The station, which was reportedly the first in New York City to report the attack, offered play-by-plays of American retaliation against the Japanese and of the Hawaiian governor's reports to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the phone as a "second wave of Japanese planes began flying over Hawaii."
Take a listen below. Becca Stanek
WNYC was the first radio station in NYC to report the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today. Hear the original broadcast: pic.twitter.com/vFZrWDvEtJ
— WNYC (@WNYC) December 7, 2016
A three-mile deep, 70-mile long crack in Antarctica could soon cause a chunk of the continent to break off and float away as a massive, state-sized iceberg, Popular Science reports.
The piece of ice threatening to snap off comes from a region called "Larsen C" and only makes up about 12 percent of the ice sheet's total area. Still, it would create an iceberg the size of Delaware if it were to detach. Larsen C would then go the way of ice sheets Larsen A and B, both of which broke off the continent in a similar fashion over the last 20 years.
— Rachel Feltman (@RachelFeltman) December 7, 2016
Usually ice sheets break up in much smaller pieces, but giant rifts such as the one growing in Antarctica now are becoming more and more likely due to what scientists believe are effects from climate change. Jeva Lange