Bizarre world records
May 20, 2013

Clinton Shepherd, park operations manager of Chicago's Navy Pier, spent 48 hours, 8 minutes and 25 seconds awake on a Ferris wheel. That shattered the previous record of 25 hours. Shepherd's secret? His Ferris wheel gondola had a big screen TV and Xbox Live on which Shepherd played Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and watched James Bond and Batman movies. He also drank a whole lot of Mountain Dew Kickstart to stay awake.

This just in
10:03 a.m. ET
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

After vowing for months to dig in against President Obama's immigration order, House Republicans on Tuesday said they would instead vote this week on a "clean" bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans initially sought to include provisions in the DHS funding bill to block Obama's move to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, but Senate Democrats repeatedly rejected those attempts. With a partial DHS shutdown looming last week, Congress passed a one-week funding extension. And with Democrats still insisting they would not budge, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opted to throw in the towel despite objections from conservatives in his caucus.

"With more active threats coming into the homeland, I don't believe that's an option," Boehner reportedly said of a partial shutdown of DHS.

The House could vote as early as Tuesday on the clean funding bill.

This doesn't look good
9:59 a.m. ET
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Talk about a load of sh*t.

Nepalese officials are concerned that the human waste climbers leave on Mt. Everest is becoming a "major problem," The Associated Press reports. Ang Tshering, the chief of Nepal's mountaineering association, said Tuesday that Nepal's government should make the climbers dispose of their waste properly. More than 700 people scale the mountain each climbing season.

Tshering said the waste has been "piling up" for years around climbers' camps, which include tents and supplies, but no toilets.

"It is a health hazard, and the issue needs to be addressed," Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been leading cleanup trips on Mt. Everest since 2008, told AP.

Last year, Nepal's government created rules that each climber must bring 18 pounds of trash down to the mountain's base camp, but there are no rules about human waste.

2016 Watch
9:15 a.m. ET
Richard Ellis/Getty Images

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on Tuesday announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee to weigh a 2016 campaign.

"Career politicians simply don't understand the disappointment, anger, and pain in real America," Carson said in a video announcing the move.

The 63-year-old Carson, who has no prior political experience, shot to national stardom on the right after criticizing President Obama's policies at a 2013 National Prayer Breakfast while the president sat a few feet away. Carson ranks near the top of preliminary GOP primary polls, though such early surveys have little predictive value on the race.

His Holiness
8:48 a.m. ET
Franco Origlia/Stringer/Getty Images

Domenico Giani, commander of the Vatican's security forces, told Italy's Polizia Moderna that ISIS presents a significant threat to Pope Francis and the Vatican. Giana added, though, that there isn't indication ISIS is planning an attack directed at the pope.

"The threat exists. This is what has emerged from my conversations with Italian and foreign colleagues," Giani told Polizio Moderna, the official publication of Italy's state police. "At the moment, I can say that we know of no plan for an attack against the Vatican or the Holy Father."

Last week, Italy's government was on high alert when ISIS mentioned Italy and Christians as potential targets, calling the country "the nation signed with the blood of the cross." The threat came in a video with images of 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded, warning that ISIS forces were "south of Rome" in Libya.

Giani said Pope Francis has no plans to change his relaxed papal style, though. "Even as pope, he's still a priest who doesn't want to lose the contact with his flock," Giani told Polizio Moderna. "It's us, those in charge of his safety, are the ones that have to help him, not the other way around."

ObamaCare
8:48 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell and decide if it is legal to distribute tax subsidies to middle- and low-income Americans who bought health insurance through the federal exchange. If the judges rule against the administration it could finally mean the unraveling of ObamaCare, a GOP goal five years in the making.

One key note missing from the chorus of Republican critics has been an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. But on Monday, Republicans Paul Ryan, John Kline, and Fred Upton laid out a contingency plan, something they are calling an "off-ramp from ObamaCare," in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal. The Ryan-Kline-Upton plan would liberalize insurance markets and offer tax credits to help the uninsured purchase health insurance. States would be able to opt out of ObamaCare's insurance mandates, "allowing Americans to purchase the coverage they want," they write.

"So here's the bottom line: Under ObamaCare, government controls your choices. Under our proposal, you will." [The Wall Street Journal]

The Ryan-Kline-Upton plan is a significant step forward, writes Avik Roy in Forbes. "It firmly takes the side of using advanceable, refundable tax credits to help the uninsured buy health insurance," he says.

Click here to read more on the GOP plan.

Discoveries
7:47 a.m. ET

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is a long-lost ancient city — and the find is so legendary, they won't even reveal its location.

Archaeologists from the U.S. and Honduras set out to find the rumored "City of the Monkey God," about which little is known to history. They found an earthen pyramid, stone sculptures, and a map of plazas — but they won't unveil the site's location, to protect the finds from looters. The archaeologists left the 52 artifacts unexcavated, National Geographic reports.

Christopher Fisher, an archaeologist from Colorado State University who was part of the exhibition, told National Geographic the site's well-preserved condition was "incredibly rare." He noted that the stone sculptures were likely an offering, since they were found at the bottom of the pyramid. Fisher and the team also believe there are a number of artifacts still waiting to be discovered below ground at the site.

According to Fisher, the "most striking object" in the collection is the head of a "were-jaguar," which dates to between 1,000 and 1,400 C.E., National Geographic notes.

Ruins of a so-called "lost city" were first identified in 2012, but National Geographic notes that archaeologists "no longer believe in" the notion of one lost city, as legend had described. Rather, they believe there are many sites of "lost cities" that are part of an entire lost civilization, which National Geographic says is "far more important."

cats
7:31 a.m. ET

The Japanese originally brought cats to remote Aoshima Island to deal with rodent infestations on their fishing boats. Now, the human population has dwindled to 22 and the cat population has ballooned to somewhere above 120. There is little else on the island, but the feline hordes bring up to 34 tourists a day on the twice-a-day ferry from the mainland. This isn't Japan's only "cat island," The Atlantic notes in a new photo blog of the island's cats. Watch Reuters' video tour of Aoshima below. —Peter Weber

Capital Punishment
6:43 a.m. ET
Georgia Department of Corrections/Getty Images

The state of Georgia had scheduled Kelly Renee Gissendaner's execution for 7 p.m. on Monday night, but postponed it "out of an abundance of caution," after questions arose about the lethal-injection drug to be administered, according to Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan. Gissendaner, 46, was convicted of planning the 1997 murder of her husband by her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, who testified against her in a plea deal.

This was the second delay in Gissendaner's planned execution, and Georgia officials didn't disclose a new date. If executed, she will be Georgia's first female death row inmate put to death in 70 years, and only the 16th woman executed since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment.

vax populi
5:33 a.m. ET

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel broadcast this surprisingly hard-hitting public service announcement about childhood vaccinations. He felt the need to talk about vaccinations, he said, because, at least in some parts of Southern California, "parents care more about gluten than smallpox." Since anti-vaccination parents wouldn't take advice from a talk-show host, Kimmel invited on real (foul-mouthed) doctors, who "didn't learn about the human body from their friends' Facebook page." Jenny McCarthy probably won't go on Kimmel Live anytime soon:

On Monday night's show, Kimmel noted that, not surprisingly, anti-vaccination advocates weren't pleased with his segment. The part where Kimmel reads terrible things people tweeted at him, then refuses their demands to apologize or "give the other side," is really good television. The part where "Jack and Becky" try to convince parents to let their kids decide about vaccinations is merely amusing. —Peter Weber

The Dress
4:59 a.m. ET

A curious thing happened last Thursday. An insane number of people looked at a photo of a dress and couldn't agree on what colors it was. And they argued about it online and in person for, like, 24 hours. But you are on the internet, so you already knew that. If you're not sick of "The Dress" — or need a quick primer — Jimmy Kimmel had some thoughtful things to say about it on Monday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live:

On Monday night's Late Night, Seth Meyers took a closer look at the uproar, in a segment he calls "A Closer Look." The "married couple" skit is pretty funny. —Peter Weber

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