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    Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

    Ferguson, Missouri Community Furious After Teen Shot Dead By Police

    Following the shooting of 18-year-old man by a police officer in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, an outraged community gathered to demand answers. Michael Brown, a black teen and recent high school graduate, was shot dead in the city north of St. Louis on Saturday. The victim's grandmother said she found her grandson's body in the street, shortly after seeing him walking near her home, the Associated Press reports. A spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed that a Ferguson police officer shot the man, but provided no further details on why the shooting occurred. Witnesses said that Brown was unarmed, KMOV reports.

    A crowd quickly gathered at the scene, as did 100 police cars from 15 departments, according to KSDK. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that protesters came face-to-face with police at the site of the shooting, raising their arms and saying "Please don't shoot me." A dumpster was reportedly lit on fire. As tempers cooled, mourners participated in a prayer circle and vigil.

    A man identified as the victim's stepfather held a sign that said, "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!" Lesley McSpadden, a woman the Post-Dispatch identifies as the victim's mother said, "I know they killed my son," and, "This was wrong and it was cold-hearted."

    Images of the crime scene and following demonstrations were posted to social media.

    Iraq Holds Vote As It Slides Deeper Into Strife

     Unshaken by the latest surge in violence, Iraqis braved the threat of bombs and attacks to vote Wednesday in key elections for a new parliament amid a massive security operation as the country slides deeper into sectarian strife.

    Hundreds of thousands of troops and police fanned out to guard voting centers in the first nationwide balloting since the 2011 American pullout. Scattered attacks still took place north of Baghdad, killing at least three people and wounding 16.

    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has held power for eight years, faces growing criticism over government corruption and persistent bloodshed as sectarian tensions threaten to push Iraq back toward the brink of civil war.

    The 63-year-old Shiite leader's State of Law party was widely expected to win the most seats in the 328-member parliament but to fall short of a majority. That would allow al-Maliki to keep his post only if he can cobble together a coalition — a task made more difficult given the divisions with former Sunni Arab and Kurdish allies.

    Even some of al-Maliki's Shiite backers denounce him as a would-be dictator, amassing power for himself, but most in the majority sect see no alternative. Al-Maliki also has the support of neighboring powerhouse Iran, which aides have said will use its weight to push discontented Shiite factions into backing him for another term.

    Polls opened across the energy-rich nation at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT, midnight Tuesday EST) and were to close at 6 p.m. There were 22 million eligible voters, choosing from among some 9,000 candidates.

    In central Baghdad, police and army manned checkpoints roughly 500 meters (yards) apart, while pickup trucks with machine-guns perched on top roamed the streets. Much of the city looked deserted without the normal traffic congestion. Most stores were closed.

    Voters are being subjected to multiple searches before being allowed inside polling centers and surrounding streets were blocked by police trucks and barbed wire.

    "I decided to go and vote early while it's safe. Crowds attract attacks," Azhar Mohammed said as she and her husband approached a polling station in Baghdad's mainly Shiite Karradah district. The 37-year-old woman said her brother — a soldier — was killed last week in the northern city of Mosul.

    "There has been a big failure in the way the country has been run and I think it is time to elect new people," she said, shrouded in black.

    Not far away, 72-year-old Essam Shukr broke into tears as he remembered a son killed in a suicide bombing in Karradah last month. "I hope this election takes us to the shores of safety," he said. "We want a better life for our sons and grandchildren who cannot even go to playgrounds or amusement parks because of the bad security situation. We want a better life for all Iraqis."

    Baby Jasleen, Born At 13.47 Pounds, Is Germany's Heaviest Baby Born Vaginally

    Jasleen was born at University Hospital in Leipzig on July 26, weighing in at 13.47 pounds, and measuring 22.6 inches long -- and she was delivered without the help of a C-section, reports the New York Daily News.

    The medical term for babies born weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces is "fetal macrosomia," and heavy babies are often attributed to maternal obesity and diabetes, among other factors. In Jasleen's case, doctors said her size is due to an undiagnosed case of gestational diabetes, reports the German paper Der Spiegel, which adds that both baby and Mom are doing well, though Jasleen remains in the hospital.

    Until Jasleen's birth last week the title of Germany's "heaviest" or "largest" baby belonged to one named Jihad, who was born in November 2011 and weighed in at 13 pounds.

    Jasleen, however, is not the heaviest baby born this year. We can't forget about about George King, who was born in March to a British couple and weighed in at 15 pounds, 7 ounces -- and again, yes, he was delivered vaginally.

    And on July 11, Pittsburgh-area woman Michelle Cessna gave birth to Addyson Gale Cessna, who was born at 13 pounds, 12 ounces, and measured 25 inches via C-section.

    While big babies seem to be on the rise, the Guinness Book of World Records says the heaviest baby ever born weighed 23 pounds, born to Anna Bates in 1879. No other newborn has tipped that scale yet, but here are seven who have come close.

    'Secret' CIA museum features Osama bin Laden's AK-47

    The “coolest museum you’ll never see” has a new piece de resistance – the gun found next to the body of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan when Navy SEALs killed him in a midnight raid.

    The AK-47 is a recent addition to a collection that’s among the toughest tickets in the country for museumgoers. Tucked into various hallways at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., the museum displays the gadgets, artifacts and trophies of 70 years of spycraft, from World War II through the War on Terror.  Closed to the public, it had only been visited by employees and invited guests until NBC News recently became the first news organization allowed to bring in video cameras.
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    The Russian-made assault rifle, identified on a simple brass plaque as “Osama bin Laden’s AK-47,” shares a glass case with an al Qaeda training manual found in Afghanistan soon after 9/11.

    "This is the rifle that was recovered from the third floor of the Abbottabad compound by the assault team," said curator Toni Hiley. "Because of its proximity to (bin Laden) there on the third floor in the compound, our analyst determined it to be his.  It's a Russian AK with counterfeit Chinese markings."

    Neither Hiley nor the agency will say how the AK-47 got to the museum, other than that the agency director at the time of the operation, Leon Panetta, "asked that it come into the museum collection," said Hiley. But one source told NBC News that it came from the "dark side" of the agency, the operations staff that worked with the SEALs on the May 2011 raid.

    CIA museum curator Toni Hiley holds an "insectothopter" created by the CIA's Office of Research and Development during the 1970s and intended to gather intelligence unobtrusively. Designed to look like a dragonfly, the insectothopter's tiny gas-powered engine moved its wings up and down. While flight tests were impressive, it proved difficult to control when any wind was present.

    The agency also will not comment on the specifics of how the weapon was recovered or whether it was loaded when retrieved.

    "I wasn't there," said Hiley. "So I can't confirm or deny exactly where the weapon was.  I just know that I have it in my museum and I'm happy to have it."

    In the movie "Zero Dark Thirty," which was written in consultation with military and intelligence sources, a member of the assault team is shown grabbing the weapon from a shelf above bin Laden's bed in his third-floor bedroom moments after the al Qaeda leader’s death.

    Hiley said the weapon is in good working condition, but that the origin of the Chinese markings is a mystery. She said it’s not the weapon seen at Osama’s side in many propaganda videos.

    The CIA’s private museum, which was started in the early 1990s, fills three corridors in two buildings at the CIA campus just outside Washington. Agency officials call it “the coolest museum you’ll never see.”

    Rapper among dead after shooting, fiery crash on Las Vegas Strip

    A shooting and a fiery crash left three people dead in the neon heart of the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday, and police scrambled to find out who triggered the carnage.

    The bloodshed closed the Strip for about a block and a half around some of its biggest draws, leaving tourists gaping at a wrecked Maserati, a burned-out taxi and four other vehicles.

    "First time in Vegas, and then, like, the whole thing, what you know from movies only -- I was shocked," Christine Gerstenberger, who was visiting the desert gambling mecca from Germany, said Thursday afternoon. She and her brothers debated going back to the hotel "because I'm totally scared," but "We're too curious," she said.

    See iReporter's video of fire

    One of those killed was Kenneth Cherry Jr. -- an aspiring rapper also known as Kenny Clutch -- his attorney Vicki Greco said. According to his Facebook page, Cherry is from Oakland, California, and lived in Las Vegas.

    "Out of everyone I know in the rapping industry there is no way I would have ever, ever expected to find that he was shot on the Las Vegas strip in such an aggressive manner," said Greco, who said Cherry had two kids. "He didn't have a (criminal) record or a history. He was just a good kid trying to make it and be a good father."

    Four of the Nevada city's biggest casinos -- Caesars Palace, the Bellagio, Bally's and the Flamingo -- are nearby, and police collected surveillance-camera video from them to help the probe.

    Also killed in the incident was a cab driver named Michael Boldon, CNN affiliate KVVU reported.

    His family is devastated by the death of the 62-year-old cab driver, his brother Tehran Boldon told the affiliate.

    "It is gut-wrenching," a tearful Tehran Boldon told KVVU. "My life mission will be to see them punished and brought to justice for the senseless thing they did."

    It started around 4:20 a.m. with a dispute in the valet lot of the Aria Hotel, about a block away, Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said. Investigators haven't confirmed the cause of the altercation, but he said it spilled onto the street as someone in a black Range Rover Sport fired several shots at the Maserati as it headed north on Las Vegas Boulevard.

    When the driver was hit, the Maserati continued into the intersection of the boulevard and Flamingo Road and collided with a taxi, which caught fire. The sports car's driver, the cab driver and a passenger in the taxi all died; a passenger in the Maserati and three other people in the resulting pileup were hurt, Gillespie said.

    The Maserati's passenger and other witnesses are helping detectives piece together what happened, he said. And the "top priority" for police is to find the Range Rover, which sped away from the intersection, and those inside it when the shooting happened.

    "This act is totally unacceptable, and we are going to make a very clear message to these individuals in regards to that," Gillespie said.

    Police in neighboring states have been asked to look for the sport-utility vehicle, and Gillespie warned the occupants should be considered armed and dangerous.

    "Clearly, the suspects have no regard for the lives and safety of others," he said.

    The Range Rover had an out-of-state dealer plate, tinted windows and large, black rims, Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said.

    The block around the crash remained closed off into Thursday afternoon. John Lamb, who was inside Caesars Palace, told CNN affiliate KLAS he heard the commotion and saw the taxi on fire from a window.

    Meteorites slam into Russia as meteor seen streaking through morning sky

    A meteor streaked through the sky and exploded Friday over Russia's Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring almost 1,000 people. The spectacle deeply frightened thousands, with some elderly women declaring the world was coming to an end.

    The meteor — estimated to be about 10 tons — entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

    It released the energy of several kilotons above the Chelyabinsk region, the academy said.

    Amateur videos broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, just after sunrise, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

    The explosions broke an estimated 1 million square feet of glass, city officials said.

    Russia's Interfax news agency said close to 1,000 people sought medical care after the explosions and most were injured by shards of glass, according to officials. Athletes at a city sports arena were among those cut up by the flying glass. It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by space fragments.

    "There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.

    "We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

    Amateur videos posted to Youtube showed a bright streaks of light crossing the morning sky. In some videos, a large boom was heard -- possibly an impact or possibly a sonic boom of the meteor sailing through the Earth's atmosphere at more than the speed of sound.

    Pistorius' girlfriend killed on Valentine's Day she was looking forward to

     South African model Reeva Steenkamp was looking forward to Valentine's Day.

    "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" the 29-year-old asked her thousands of followers on Twitter a day before. "Get excited."

    Steenkamp was killed early Thursday in a shooting at the Pretoria home of Olympian Oscar Pistorius, her boyfriend.

    He has been charged with murder. In keeping with South African law, Pistorius will be named officially as the suspect when he appears in court Friday.
    Oscar Pistorius charged with murder

    Pistorius spokeswoman Kate Silvers said the athlete is "assisting the police with their investigation but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer later today."

    Read more: Woman found fatally shot in home of 'blade runner' Oscar Pistorius

    Pistorius, nicknamed the "Blade Runner," made history when he became the first Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied Olympics last year. He ran on special carbon fiber blades affixed to his legs, which were amputated below the knees as a toddler because of a bone defect.

    Capacity Relations, the agency that represents Steenkamp, announced her death. "She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed," the agency said on Twitter.

    Married huntmaster cleared of shooting ex-lover but could still be jailed for lack of firearm licence

    A married huntmaster was cleared yesterday of shooting his showjumper ex-lover after their five-year affair.

    Brian Fraser, 63, was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Louise Leggatt, 55, and also of causing her grievous bodily harm with intent.

    He was alleged to have been enraged at the end of his romance with Louise - who the court heard was known in hunting circles as ‘Leg-Over Leggatt’.

    The verdicts came after a jury spent five and a half hours deliberating, following a two-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

    But Fraser had already admitted possessing a firearm without a licence and was warned by the judge he could still be sent to prison.

    Judge Charles Byers said: “You are at risk of serving a custodial sentence.

    “I have never come across such a lackadaisical and irresponsible attitude towards firearms, particularly for someone who is described as a countryman.”

    He bailed him him to return to court on March 18 to be sentenced over that matter.

    The judge also told Fraser not to have any contact with Louise or her two grown-up sons Ben and William, saying: “I am considering a restraining order which even in the face of an acquittal I can make.”

    Fraser showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered but there were cheers and cries of ‘Yes’ from his family and friends in the public gallery, including his forgiving wife Nanette who looked tearful.

    Louise, who was in court, held her head in her hands and looked shattered.

    She was shot outside her secluded rented farmhouse home in Benenden, Kent, in March last year, as she went to tend her horses.

    She suffered shotgun injuries to her pelvis and leg, and underwent surgery to remove some of the pellets.

    Two months earlier, Louise’s home, The Pippins, was destroyed in an arson attack, forcing her to rent the next door property Bramleys, where she was shot.

    Nobody was ever convicted for the arson.

    Fraser and Louise met through the Ashford Valley Hunt in Kent in 2000 and became lovers in 2001.

    He moved into her home and they had a five-year affair before Fraser returned to his wife of 26 years in October 2011, at their farm in Shadoxhurst.

    Fraser denied he tried to rekindle their romance and was angry when she rejected him.

    Giving evidence during the trial, twice-divorced Louise sobbed as she relived the “terrifying” moment she was shot in her front garden by a hidden gunman.

    She said: “First of all, I heard a sound and then I just had the most horrendous pain in my leg and hip.

    “I couldn’t use my right leg at all but I managed to get inside and drag myself across the floor to where the phone was to dial 999.

    “I was absolutely terrified, I had never been so terrified in all my life.

    "I was really, really scared that whoever had done this was going to come back in and I couldn’t get back to the door to lock the door.”

    During the trial one of Louise’s ex-husbands, Philip Gorringe, admitted he had heard of her being referred to as ‘Leg-Over Leggatt’ in hunting circles.

    Interdealer Brokers Emerge as Key Enablers in Libor Scandal

    Interdealer brokers, the middlemen who line up buyers and sellers of securities for banks, are emerging as key enablers in the Libor scandal after three firms paid a total of $2.6 billion for rigging global interest rates.
    Employees at firms including ICAP Plc, the world’s biggest interdealer broker, and RP Martin Group Ltd., a smaller British competitor, passed on requests from derivatives traders asking rate-setters at others banks to make favorable submissions, e- mails released as part of the global probe of interest rate- rigging show. In some cases, the middlemen took bribes as payment for the services in the form of so-called wash trades, regulators said, without identifying the firms that did.

    The London interbank offered rate is the basis for more than $300 trillion of securities. The banks that set the rate stand accused of rigging it for years to boost profits. Five years after alarm bells first sounded, regulators are handing out fines and criminal sanctions to those responsible for rate manipulation. This story is featured in the March issue of Bloomberg Markets Magazine. Bloomberg Television's Mark Barton reports. (Source: Bloomberg)

    Audio Download: Libor Banks Should Consider Deal With Victims: View, 2/1
    The brokers assumed greater influence as credit markets froze at the start of the financial crisis in 2007. Bankers charged with making submissions to the London interbank offered rate increasingly relied on information from the brokers to determine what figures to contribute. That left the benchmark vulnerable to manipulation by traders trying to profit from bets on derivatives. The outcome of those bets often depended on where the Libor rate fell on International Money Market dates, or IMMs, the quarterly dates when futures contracts settle.

    “I really need a low 3m jpy libor into the imm...” one trader e-mailed a broker on March 3, 2010, according to a transcript of a conversation released by the U.S. Department of Justice when Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc paid a $612 million fine for interest-rate rigging on Feb. 6. “Any favours you can get with [Submitter-1] would be much appreciated...”

    ‘Steak’ Offered

    That discussion was between Tom Hayes, the former UBS AG and Citigroup Inc. trader arrested in December over his alleged role in the scandal, and Brent Davies, an employee at ICAP in London, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The submitter was Paul White, an employee at Edinburgh-based RBS, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

    Later that day, Davies asked White if there was “any chance at all” he could lower his rate, adding “if u cud see ur way to a small drop there might be a steak in it for ya,” the transcript shows.
    In the exchange, White said his rate should be unchanged. The next day he lowered his three-month yen Libor submission by 1 basis point, according to the regulator. A basis point is the equivalent of 0.01 percentage point.
    Wash Trades
    White declined to comment as did lawyers for Hayes and Davies. Davies, who isn’t under investigation by any regulator, joined ICAP in September 2009 and was suspended on full pay from January 2012, one of the people said. ICAP is being investigated by Britain’s Financial Services Authority as well as Canada’s Competition Bureau.
    The firm has put three more employees on paid leave, Chief Executive Officer Michael Spencer told reporters on a conference call yesterday after the firm said trading volume increased in January. He said the London-based firm has led its own internal investigation and declined to comment on any other probes.

    Iron Man Makes Super Bowl-Sized Comeback In New Trailer

    Marvel scored yet another field goal Sunday night (February 3) with a Super Bowl spot that finds our favorite iron-clad hero rescuing 13 innocent airplane passengers as they're sucked out of a huge hole and plummeting ever so swiftly to their doom.

    Tony Stark grabs a hold of the first person, getting the others to join him by the hands. As the plane above them explodes in a plume of fire, Tony begins to realize that he can only carry the weight of so many people. So what's an Iron Man to do in this situation?

    'Iron Man 3'
    "Iron Man 3" sees Tony Stark coming up against his most formidable adversary yet: the Mandarin. Played by Sir Ben Kingsley, the Mandarin is the leader of a deadly terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. With an intellect on par with Stark and an uncompromising need for vengeance, this technology-crazed criminal puts Tony to the test both mentally and physically.

    As Tony sets out to find those responsible for emotionally scarring his loved ones, he's eventually forced to survive by his own devices; not the ones that he's been making in his laboratory but instead the ones that he was born with.

    If rumors are true that "Iron Man 3" will be largely inspired by Warren Ellis' "Extremis," Tony will be forced to inject himself with a techno-organic virus, that will forever change his life, in order to defeat an enemy of similar accord.

    Of course, this is all based purely on speculation. All we know for sure is that the Mandarin will be the main antagonist of the film and that Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen (two major characters from the "Extremis" storyline) will be making an appearance as well.

    Directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, "Iron Man 3" hits theaters May 3, 2013.

    Postal Service says it’s immune from local traffic laws

    A government lawyer’s attempt to get dismissed nearly $700 in traffic tickets given to the U.S. Postal Service is being met with a hearty and humorous, Heck no.

    In a Jan. 22 letter sent to both the city of East Cleveland, Ohio, and the company that operates the city's photo-enforcement program, Postal Service attorney Jennifer S. Breslin says two school-zone speeding citations and five red-light infractions by postal trucks in December should be ignored.

    “In providing mail service across the country, the Postal Service attempts to work within local and state laws and regulations, when feasible,” wrote Breslin, after reminding “To Whom It May Concern” that postal workers promptly deliver over 200 billion pieces of mail annually.

    “However, as you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation,” she continued.

    That last bit did not go over well with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the Arizona-based company that enforces East Cleveland’s camera citations.

    “By attempting to hide behind an immunity claim, you are aiding and abetting your drivers in their blatant disregard for the traffic laws in East Cleveland, which have endangered other drivers, pedestrians and school children,” ATS attorney George Hittner wrote in his three-page response to Breslin, who received it on Thursday. (He also cc'd the postmaster general, two U.S. representatives and two senators.)

    Hittner cited the Postal Service’s own safety manual and case law to point out that postal truck drivers should and have been held accountable. He also gave a few examples where the driving habits of carriers resulted in well-publicized legal consequences.

    “My last and favorite example is of the USPS truck driver delivering mail while naked,” Hittner wrote. “He was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior.”

    He added, more sternly: “We suggest that you transfer the liability for the infractions to the USPS drivers who incurred them, and instruct them that pursuant to Ohio law, as well as the USPS guidelines, the infractions are their responsibility. If you choose to ignore the infractions, penalties and fines will continue to accumulate.”

    Japanese Snaggletooth Craze Spawns Dental Procedures, Girl Group

    Americans regularly fork over $5,000 to fix a crooked smile with braces. But in Japan, women are spending about $400 for just the opposite. On the other side of the planet, imperfect teeth are becoming a thing of beauty.

    Japan's beauty trend, dubbed "tseuke-yaeba," has reached a fever pitch, with young women paying hundreds for snaggleteeth.

    The procedure first made headlines in 2011, but it has grown in popularity since then, even spawning a Japanese pop girl group whose members sport the snaggletooth look. The girl group, TYB48 or "Tseuke-Yaeba 48," was created by the Taro Masuoka—the very same dentist who pioneered the procedure.

    "A lot of my patients are fashion-conscious and very cute. I wanted to find some way to take advantage of this, so I formed TYB48," Masuoka, of Tokyo's Pure Cure dental salon, told Japan Today.

    The group whose debut album titled "Mind If I Bite?" dropped last April, turned the child-like vampire mouth into a bona-fide phenomenon. But they're far from Japan's first famous females with mangled mouths. See the smiles on the country's popular news anchor Mika Sugisaki and Japan's crown princess Masako.

    [The girls of TYB48. photo: Facebook] The girls of TYB48. photo: FacebookThe trend may seems out of step with American dentistry, but in Japan—where fashion trends often take their cue from child-like physical attributes—it's a thing of beauty. Masuoka claims the snaggletooth look gives his patients an "impish beauty" that is considered "endearingly attractive" to men. He's even reportedly offered middle school and high-school aged patients a half-price discount on the procedure if they bring identification. (The procedure, which can be temporary or permanent, involves cementing exaggerated veneers onto each canine tooth.You can check out how it's done with this helpful video from Tokyo's Dental Care Salon Plasir.)

    Roland Kelts, author of the book Japan America, theorizes the rise of the "impish" mouth may have a psychological link. "The 'girl next door' look of accessibility and plainness is especially popular in Japan right now partly, I think, because Japanese men feel so weak in the face of a stagnant economy and fast-shifting gender roles," Kelts told Yahoo! Shine. "Marriage and birth rates in Japan are at historic lows. A too-perfect set of teeth, or anything else, can be intimidating when your role in society is imperiled."

    Shifting gender roles and a growing insecurity of men in the workplace? Sounds familiar. If that's partly behind the snaggletooth trend in Japan, could twisted dental implants make their way to the United States any time soon?

    [Detail of the snaggletooth look. photo: Facebook] Detail of the snaggletooth look. photo: Facebook"Gain popularity in US? No!" Dr. Jacqueline Fulop Goodling, a New York-based orthodontist, tells Shine. "Americans have spent billions of dollars educating ourselves on the effects of good oral hygiene... We care about the way our teeth look but we care more about if they are healthy."

    Dr. Michael Sinkin, a Manhattan dentist, agrees that it's a cultural difference that has little chance of translating overseas. "When someone goes for cosmetic dentistry, some people want something perfect—'chiclet teeth.' Other people want a natural look. Culturally, that can vary. It's almost like a fashion statement," he told Shine. "I had a Japanese patient once who came in for some work and she was unhappy with the result, because she felt they looked too American, too perfect."

    And, according to Dr. Joseph Banker, a cosmetic dentist from Creative Dental Care, the health risks just aren't worth it. "Although the procedure may seem non-invasive, the underlying teeth can be damaged in several ways. The additional length may cause stress on the teeth and can increase the risk of a tooth fracture." Messing with front canines in particular can lead to jaw problems, tooth decay and bacteria build-up, he says.

    Boy held hostage in bunker after being snatched from school bus

    A boy was being held hostage in a bunker in Alabama early Wednesday by a man who seized him from a school bus after fatally shooting the driver, witnesses and police said.

    Authorities were negotiating with the man overnight at the scene near Midland City.

    The driver of the bus died from gunshot wounds on Tuesday afternoon and the suspect was not in custody, according to the Dale County Sheriff's Department.

    Witnesses told NBC station WSFA that the suspect boarded the bus and ordered some children off before grabbing a boy aged 5 or 6, shooting the driver and fleeing towards his nearby home.

    Michael Senn, who is minister of a nearby church, told the station that he spoke to several children on the bus, including a girl who said the driver was shot four times. He described one 13-year-old as "really traumatized."

    Mike Creel, who said he was the suspect’s neighbor, told the station the suspect had hidden “in his homemade bomb shelter.” However, officials described it as a storm shelter.

    Creel said the suspect has lived on the property for around two years and that the underground shelter was “one of the first things he started building."

    The station said police believed the child was "OK" and that police were conducting negotiations with the suspect using a plastic pipe.

    Other neighbors identified the suspect to the local newspaper, the Dothan Eagle, as a 67-year-old man. NBC News was unable to confirm this early Wednesday.

    Lisa Harden, of the Dale County School District Office, said the bus was on a route that served all local schools, and had children of all ages on board.

    Dale County and Ozark city schools will be closed Wednesday, officials said.

    "Due to the sensitive nature of the open and ongoing incident, limited details are being released at this time," Dale County Sheriff's Department said in a 10 p.m. local time (11 pm. ET) Tuesday update.

    Brazil nightclub fire 'Like a war zone' with bodies piled

    Guitarist Rodrigo Martins was preparing to launch into the sixth song of his band's set when he saw embers fall.

    The acoustic foam insulation on the ceiling of the Kiss nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria was on fire, and it was beginning to spread.

    The hot ash fell onto the stage and dance floor.

    Comparisons drawn to R.I. nightclub fire

    In front of him, a sea of people who moments earlier were dancing and singing along to the country-pop sounds of his band Gurizada Fandangueira began to realize something was wrong.

    Suddenly, concertgoers were stampeding toward the club's only exit, pushing and shoving each other trying to get out.

    Then, according to investigators and witnesses, somebody fell in the narrow, dark hallway that led to the windowless exit.

    It was the last weekend of Brazil's summer break for many of the students, and the Kiss nightclub was packed early Sunday with young people, many of whom attended one of a number of universities and colleges in Santa Maria.

    At least 231 people died and hundreds more were injured in the fire, which authorities believe began about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when the band's pyrotechnic show ignited insulation material.

    Many apparently died from smoke inhalation. Others were trampled in the rush for the exits.

    Of the dead, 101 were students at the Federal University of Santa Maria.

    Another 120 remained hospitalized Monday morning, 79 in critical condition, authorities said.

    About 2,000 people were inside the club when the fire broke out -- double the maximum capacity of 1,000, said Guido de Melo, a state fire official.

    The roof collapsed in several parts of the building, trapping many inside. Firefighters found piles of bodies in the club's bathroom.

    It looked, said state lawmaker Valderci Oliveira, "like a war zone.

    Bill Belichick stiffs CBS after the game, Shannon Sharpe rips him for being poor loser

    New England coach Bill Belichick doesn't handle losing all too well, and he blew off CBS' customary postgame interview with the coach of the losing team after the AFC championship game.

    CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe wasn't impressed and called him out for it with some harsh comments.

    "There's something to be said about being gracious in defeat," Sharpe said on CBS' postgame show. "We've seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC championship game). We've seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker. Coach [Bill] Cowher did it when they lost to them, we saw this last week.

    "Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can't be a poor sport all the time. You're not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It's unacceptable."

    Those are strong words from Sharpe, but it's tough to argue. There are certain unpleasant commitments that come with being an NFL head coach, and a certain class that should be displayed in defeat. Granting an interview that coaches are expected to give after big playoff losses, including Super Bowls, to a television partner that pays a big percentage of the NFL's bills is part of that.

    Instead of Belichick, CBS was given Patriots safety Devin McCourty to talk to after the game. While McCourty handled himself like a professional and praised the Ravens, that's far from a fair trade. Belichick could have stood up and answered fair questions about why he decided to punt at the Ravens' 35-yard line and later the Ravens' 34 in two instances of a very conservative approach, and also how the Patriots mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half and missed out on taking a shot at the end zone before kicking a field goal.

    Belichick has a history of acting like this after losses, most notably walking off the field with a second left in Super Bowl XLII against the Giants, a move that made him look like a sore loser. We'll see if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has a fine waiting for Belichick after he stiff-armed CBS following this loss.

    Brooklyn Resident Wins Miss America Crown

    A 23-year-old blonde from Brooklyn, N.Y., won the Miss America crown Saturday night after deftly dealing with a question about armed guards in schools and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.

    En route to her victory in the Las Vegas pageant, Mallory Hagan also tap danced to James Brown's "Get Up Off of That Thing," strutted down the runway in an asymmetrical white gown, and donned a revealing black string bikini.

    She defeated Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who took second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third.

    Hagan wins a $50,000 college scholarship and a year as an instant celebrity and role model to many girls. Her platform, the issue she will promote during her reign, is fighting child sexual abuse.

    She told The Associated Press in an interview after her win that it was her mother who encouraged her to tackle the issue. She said that sexual abuse had "rippled through" her family, touching her mother, aunt, grandmother and cousins. Her mother had trouble at first convincing others of the trauma she had faced.

    "That kind of sent her into a whirlwind of anxiety and depression. So as a teen I lost my mom kind of for a couple years," she said. "She was dealing with her own issues, and that's something that now as an adult I understand, but then I certainly did not."

    During an interview backstage, Hagan's mother Mandy Moore wiped tears away as she spoke.

    "It's very overwhelming," she said. "It's all hitting me so fast."

    Hagan said she will work to make child abuse education mandatory in all 50 states.

    "It's something I can hopefully change for the next generation," she said.

    Hagan left her native Alabama for New York at 18 with less than $1,000 in her pocket. She began competing in pageants when she was 13 and tried for Miss New York in 2010 and 2011 before winning last year.

    She studied communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has been living in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

    Hagan, who aspires to be a global cosmetic company executive, ends a long dry spell for New York in the competition. The previous winner from that state was actress Vanessa Williams, who became the first black winner when she took the crown in 1984. Hagan is the first Brooklyn-dweller to claim the title.

    She was good enough during preliminary contests for the 92nd annual Miss America pageant to be chosen as one of 16 semifinalists who moved on to compete in the main show. Her bid lasted through swimsuit, evening wear, and talent competitions that saw cuts after each round.

    In the final moments of the show, "Good Morning America" weatherman Sam Champion asked her if schools should hire armed guards in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting.

    "I don't think the proper was to fight violence is with violence," she replied. "I think the proper way is to educate people on guns and the ways we can use them properly. We can lock them up, we can have gun safety classes, we can have a longer waiting period."

    Hagan defeated titleholders from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several of her competitors had grabbed headlines this year because of their backstories.

    Where you might not shop in 2013

    Christmas season was a disappointment. GDP growth is slowing. Taxes are going up. What’s the retail industry to do? There’s really only one choice: close more stores.

    Through the first nine months of 2012, closings were up 25% over the same period from the prior year (fourth quarter numbers aren’t available just yet). And Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail banker and consultant Davidowitz & Associates, expects roughly the same pace of closings in 2013.

    “The consumer is 70% of GDP. If growth is decelerating, how are you going to have (retail) growth? You’re not, you’re going to go on closing stores,” he says.

    For the healthy and unhealthy alike, store closings are part of the landscape. And probably will be at least a little while longer. Start with those retailers that are sliding away altogether.  Fashion Bug, the discount women’s apparel chain whose parent, Charming Shoppes, was recently bought by Ascena Retail Group, announced it will shut down all 600 stores. Ascena will concentrate on igniting sales and profits at Charming Shoppe’s other chains, Lane Bryant and Catherines.

    Meantime, closings continue at a fast clip for Blockbuster, the movie rental company whose business model has become o
    utdated in recent years. Parent Dish Network, which bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy in 2011, says it will drop another 500 stores, about a third of what remains. Analysts figure that unless Dish Network’s plan to sell mobile phones out of Blockbuster stores pans out, the remaining 1,000 locations may not last much longer either.

    And what’s left to say about Sears, the epic retail failure of hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, which has lost money for years following a merger with Kmart? After spending a fortune buying back stock, only to see its value keep declining, Lampert, who just inserted himself as Sears’ CEO, is now monetizing by selling off some of his best real estate and shuttering stores. Sears Holdings announced 172 closures in 2012. Lambert publicly insists he’s committed to improving operations – the company has slashed inventory and spent money to equip sales people with iPads to help them provide quicker service to customers. But some analysts believe that slicing up the company and selling off assets is inevitable. Davidowitz figures it’s just a matter of time before Sears goes away as an operating company, with its stronger brands like Craftsman and Kenmore getting gobbled up by competitors.

    “I would call it an orderly liquidation,” he says.

    Even those retailers doing okay are dealing with excess capacity, at least in the U.S.  Abercrombie & Fitch, the profitable seller of casual apparel, is slated to close 180 stores through 2015. Most are unprofitable domestic mall-centered locations. The same is largely true of Gap, which is sitting on plenty of cash but announced another 100 store closings this year as part of a long-term U.S. downsizing that will claim approximately 700 stores between 2007 and 2013. Both Gap and Abercrombie are investing more heavily overseas as they pare down domestically.

    “Gap is making money and getting its product mix better,” says Davidowitz. “But it will still close about 100 stores a year.”  You could say the same for much of the industry.

    Obama Inauguration 'Champagne' Makes French Whine

    The French have been told to put a cork in it and stop whining about the "champagne" that will be served at President Obama’s inauguration party later this month.

    The scuffle began when it was announced that Obama's swearing in would be celebrated with flutes of "Korbel Natural Russian River Valley Champagne." This really ticked off the Champagne Bureau, Washington's champagne lobby, which responded by saying that under U.S. law, sparkling wine made in California can only be called “California Champagne” -- not the other way round, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    “We would urge the inaugural committee to follow that law and not state the sparkling wine being served is Champagne, as they did in today's release,” director of the Champagne Bureau Sam Heitner told The Hill, urging them to use the term “California Champagne" instead. “Champagne only comes from Champagne, France,” he added.

    Yet, it seems Heitner does have a point. Most countries only recognize sparkling wine as champagne when it comes from the particular region in France. The U.S. only allows winemakers to use the word “Champagne” if the sparkling wine's origins are clearly stated and it was made before 2006.

    The French are known to be particularly persnickety about their wines. They've also taken issue with the U.S. using the term Chateau on wine labels, the Washington Post reports.

    In response, the Americans seem markedly less concerned by the error. Matt House, spokesman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, who urged the lobby to “have a glass of their own product and relax.

    Meanwhile, California Rep. Jared Huffman says the French are just jealous.

    “Only the finest champagne should be served at President Obama's inauguration celebrations, and in my opinion, the Inaugural Committee made the right call,

    Trail of Cheetos Leads to Store Robber

     Police nabbed a South Carolina teenager when they followed a trail of Cheetos leading from a convenience store to a local residence where he was staying.

    Austin Lee Westfall Presler, 19, was arrested on January 6 in Kershaw County, S.C., after allegedly stealing beer, cigarettes, snacks and energy drinks from the local Cassatt Country Store, WLTX reported. Calls placed to Kershaw County sheriff's office by ABCNews.com were not immediately returned.

    Store manager Howard "Buck" Buckholz told ABCNews.com that Presler only stole $160 worth of goods, but caused upwards of $2,500 worth of damage.

    "The fella broke in our store 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning," he said. "We were called at 3:15 a.m. The fuel truck fella said that the front door had been knocked in, so he called it in. He knocked out our front door, he knocked out the beer cooler, and stole beer, cigarettes, Slim Jims, and in his haste, he punctured two or three bags of Cheetos."

    Those Cheetos were strewn all over the store's floor and in the doorway. Buckholz said that a neighbor across the street told him and police that the car Presler was driving was parked across the street at the Hard Times Café.

    "Cheetos were all over the parking lot, at the place where he parked his car, and at the residence," Buckholz said.

    Presler does not live in the area, but was staying with someone that lives less than 1/5 of a mile from his store, Buckholz said.

    See Ya, Bikinis! One-piece Swimsuits Poised for a Takeover

    Dieting and exercising are perhaps the most popular New Years Resolutions, but don't worry if you've indulged on a few too many holiday treats this year. Swimsuits are already trickling onto retail shelves and the spotlight is on one-piece swimwear, not bikinis. Yes, that extra inch to pinch around your tummy can potentially remain hidden all year.

    Every stylish celebrity from the curvier gals like Beyonce, Christina Hendricks, and Kim Kardashian, to the skinny-minnies like Taylor Swift, Kate Moss, and Kirsten Dunst are rocking one-piece bathing suits, or "maillots." As a result, the rest of us are heading directly to department stores, boutiques, and affordable mass-market shops to scoop up similar styles. The New York Post found that one-piece swimsuit sales are up around 20 percent in local New York shops. We consulted industry experts to find out why.

    [Victoria's Secret has many new one-pieces available, including this halter with side ruching] Victoria's Secret has many new one-pieces available, including this halter with side ruchingKatherine Power, celebrity style expert and co-founder of the fashion website Who What Wear feels strongly that celebrities are leading the trend. "Over the summer, Beyonce was spotted in a classic one-piece with a small attached skirt, which is great for those who prefer more coverage," Power tells Yahoo! Shine. "If you are looking for a more alluring way to wear the one-piece, take notes from Rihanna who wore one in December with side cut-outs and a deep v-neck."

    Colleen Sherin, the senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, agrees that celebrities are making younger, trendier girls take interest. "As you see celebrities and fashion icons embracing one-pieces certainly that has an influence on a younger demographic," Sherin tells Yahoo! Shine. That said, Sherin feels these bathing suits are appropriate for all body types and ages, "from kids to women in their '80s." Power concurs, adding that "just like any other accessory or piece of clothing, swimsuits are a way for women to express their personal style. One-pieces are versatile, flattering, and can sometimes be sexier than showing more skin in a bikini." A flattering style for one and all? That's what we like to hear.

    Sherin says fresh silhouettes and designs are also responsible for the market shift. "Designers are getting more innovative in one-piece design." says Sherin. "It doesn't have to be super sporty and active and covered up. Some one-pieces offer a more plunging neckline or halter neckline that can still be sexy." Skin-revealing cutouts, which have been a trendy fashion element in recent seasons, also translate well to swimsuits. Cutout details at the waist and back are a happy medium between bikinis and full coverage swimwear.

    [Taylor Swift went the retro route in playful polka dots] Taylor Swift went the retro route in playful polka dotsBoth experts feel the design's renewed popularity may be a progression from the retro, fuller-coverage swimwear that's been a hit in recent seasons. Fashion trends evolve over time, and right now the popularity of the one-piece swimsuit has "a vintage, 1950s-pinup appeal that makes woman feel sexy and modern," says Power. Sherin agrees that "the one-piece is taking that popular pin-up girl style one step further. It's a very chic modern look." The aesthetic of a one-piece is also right on trend. "We're experiencing a little bit of a return to minimalism," says Sherin. "Not across the board, but the eye is changing a bit and we're seeing more clean, streamlined, pared-down designs."

    Sherin says bikinis are still selling at Saks Fifth Avenue, but as one-pieces are embraced by fashion editorial, the store has updated its Spring Preview catalog, which mailed in early December. Usually, bikinis dominate, but "There are five bikinis and four one-pieces," says Sherin. "We have this amazing strapless bandeau one-piece in red, so it's this great color, and the bandeau is one of our most popular silhouettes. From Pucci we show both a sexy string bikini and a plunging one-piece. Everyone wants to have the option." She adds that "Michael Kors does a beautiful one-piece swimsuit, Calvin Klein, and Eres. We're seeing them on the runways as well; designers are showing them within the Spring/Summer collections." Power says you don't have to shell out for designer swimsuits. "Stores like T.J.Maxx and Marshalls carry great swimsuits for amazing prices. I'm a big fan of the bandeau one-piece, and bright colors are especially flattering when you have a tan."

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