INTERCEPTED MESSAGE FROM AL-QAIDA HEAD LED TO TERROR ALERT: An intercepted message between al-Qaida head Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the head of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, about plans for a major terror attack was what led to the current terror alert and shutdown of many U.S. embassies, the Associated Press reported Monday (August 5th), citing a U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat. The sources said the message was picked up several weeks ago and appeared to initially target Yemeni interests, with the threat expanded to include U.S. or other Western sites abroad. Still unknown are the targets and timing of the planned attack. White House spokesman Jay Carney yesterday wouldn't say whether the threat extends to the U.S., stating, "What we know is the threat emanates from, and may be focused on, occurring in the Arabian Peninsula. It could potentially be beyond that, or elsewhere."
THREE KILLED IN SHOOTING AT PENNSYLVANIA TOWN MEETING: Three people were killed and several others wounded in a shooting at a town supervisors' meeting in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, last night (August 5th), which is about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. Police identified the suspect as Rockne Newell of Saylorsburg, who was among those shot. State police said Newell had an ongoing dispute with officials involving the condemnation of his property and issues with his sewer.
FORT HOOD SHOOTING TRIAL BEGINS TODAY: Major Nidal Hasan's court-martial for the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting in which 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded finally gets underway today (August 6th). Hasan is facing 13 charges of premeditated murder, as well as 32 counts of attempted murder, and if convicted, could face the death penalty. Hasan, who was paralyzed from the waist down when he was shot by officers responding to the shooting rampage, is representing himself at trial, but a judge rejected the strategy he wanted to use of arguing that he carried out the shooting in defense of others, meaning in defense of Muslim insurgents fighting U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
'WASHINGTON POST' SOLD TO AMAZON.COM FOUNDER BEZOS: The Washington Post has been sold to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for $250 million, ending eight decades of ownership by the Graham family. Publisher and CEO Katharine Weymouth said in a letter to staffers that Bezos made the acquisition, quote, "in his personal capacity and not as part of Amazon." In a separate letter to the staff, Bezos said that he wouldn't be making any radical changes to the paper's core values, writing, "The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper's duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads . . . " However, he said the newspaper would need to invent and experiment to keep up with the changes in digital journalism.
- The Post's sale comes on the heels of news that The Boston Globe was sold to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry.
'OBAMACARE' ACCOUNTS CAN NOW BE SET UP: Ahead of the October 1st launch of open enrollment under the new Affordable Care Act health care law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday (August 5th) that Americans can now go online to open their own personal accounts at www.healthcare.gov. However, picking an insurance plan will have to wait until sometime in September, when details on the plans that will be offered through exchanges in local areas and their premiums will become available on the online marketplace. Insurance benefits will take effect on January 1st, which is also when Americans will be required to either have health insurance or face fines. While all this is going forward, however, some Republican lawmakers are advocating a government shutdown to try to block what they've dubbed "Obamacare" from going into effect.
'DRUNK WALKING' LEADS TO PEDESTRIAN DEATHS: Everyone knows about the risks of drunk driving, but apparently drunk walking is dangerous too. Data released yesterday (August 5th) by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx shows that one-third of the pedestrians killed in the U.S. in 2011 had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit for driving, and among pedestrians killed who were ages 25 to 34, it was one-half. Foxx released the data as he kicked off a new effort to reduce pedestrian deaths. There were 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011, up three percent from a year earlier.
BEER FALLING AS AMERICANS' DRINK OF CHOICE: Beer is no longer the undisputed top alcoholic drink of choice for Americans, who have been turning away from beer to wine and liquor. Just 20 years ago, beer easily held the crown, but per capita consumption of beer has fallen 20 percent since then. Gallup's new alcoholic preferences survey shows that beer is now just about even with wine, with 36 percent saying they most often drink beer and 35 percent saying they most often drink wine. Liquor comes in behind at 23 percent. Significantly, however, among young and non-white drinkers -- which are the fastest growing segments of the population -- there's been the biggest fall in beer preference, not a great sign for the beer industry.
A-ROD SUSPENDED FOR 211 GAMES, PLAYS WHILE APPEALING; 12 OTHERS GET 50 GAMES: Major League Baseball handed down its suspensions yesterday (August 5th) in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal, giving Alex Rodriguez the harshest penalty, a 211-game suspension that would keep the New York Yankees third baseman out through the 2014 season, and suspending the other 12 players for 50 games each. However, Rodriguez is appealing the suspension and is allowed to play during that process, which won't be completed until this season ends. The other 12 players have accepted the punishment. They are: Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz; Detroit Tigers shortshop Jhonny Peralta; San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera; Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona; and free agent pitchers Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto.
Kept off the field since undergoing hip surgery in January, Rodriguez rejoined the Yankees for the first time this year Monday on the same day the suspensions were issued. His penalty was more than double the previous high for a PED suspension, with the extra time added for his alleged efforts obstruct the investigation. Speaking before the game against the White Sox in Chicago, A-Rod wouldn't deny using PEDs, saying he would go through the appeals process and hoped the focus could remain on baseball.
ASKING MORE THAN ONCE FOUND TO GET YOU WHAT YOU WANT: New research from Stamford University finds that you're more likely to get what you want if you ask more than once. To find this, researchers had participants approach total strangers and make small requests. Researchers found that while the strangers agreed to the first request just 33-percent of the time, their willingness to help out jumped to 43-percent when asked a second favor. Study co-author Daniel Newark says that this happens because it's embarassing and guilt-inducing for a person to refuse a request, so they are more likely to say "yes" to you if you ask them more than once. He says this may happen even more in professional or academic environments, where you see the same people everyday. (Men's Health)
SCIENTIST SAYS SEX GIVES THE BRAIN A GOOD WORKOUT: One neuroscientist claims that sex gives the brain more of a workout than doing a crossword puzzle or playing Sudoku. Professor Barry Komisaruk is with Rutgers University and says that doing puzzles only creates activities in certain parts of the brain, while sex stimulates the whole brain. Komisaruk says, "At orgasm we see a tremendous increase in the blood flow (to the brain). So my belief is it can't be bad. It brings all the nutrients and oxygenation to the brain." (Daily Mail)
THE HIGHER HER IQ, THE LESS A WOMAN WANTS TO BE A MOTHER: New research from the UK finds that the higher a woman's IQ is, the less she wishes to bear children. A researcher at the London School of Economics found that a woman's urge to have children decreases by 25-percent for every 15-extra IQ points she has. Researchers found this pattern to hold even when they controlled for economics and education. Previous research out of the U.S. has shown that the idea that having children causes is illusory, which may be why more women are rejecting the idea of being a mother. (Daily Mail)
SEX WITH AN EX CAN BE BENEFICIAL IN SOME CASES: While some people swear that making a clean break from their ex is for the best, new research finds for some people that may not be true. To find this, researchers from the University of Arizona examined a group of 137 recently divorced adults to find out how many had gotten back into bed with their partner after the divorces was finalized. They found that 21.9-percent of those surveyed admitted to having sex with their ex post-divorce, while 82.5-percent said they simply maintained contact with their ex after their separation. Furthermore, adults who admitted to getting frisky said the act helped lessen the pain of the divorce if they hadn't accepted the break-up. Those who had accepted the break-up reported that having sex with their ex made no difference at all to how they dealt with it. (Daily Mail)