It's not all bad

It's not all bad: Family bonding

March 20, 2013

Iram Leon — a 32-year-old man battling brain cancer — won the 2013 Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas, in 3 hours, 7 minutes, and 35 seconds. All the more impressive: He pushed his 6-year-old daughter, Kiana, in a stroller along the entire 26.2-mile route. "The reason I started running with [Kiana] was because of the cancer. With all that's pending… I don't want to miss a moment with her," he said.

Fit for a king

The Department of Defense is sponsoring a writing contest in honor of late Saudi King

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Handout/Getty Images

Students at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. have the opportunity to participate in an essay competition to honor Saudi Arabia's controversial King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz, who died last Friday at the age of 90.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey established the contest. In a Defense Department press release, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey says the contest is a "fitting tribute to the life and leadership of the Saudi Arabian monarch" who was "a lifetime supporter of his country's allegiance with the United States."

"I found the king to be a man of remarkable character and courage," Dempsey said.

Abdullah's legacy, however, is far from pure. National Review points out that under the Saudi king's rule, Christianity and other religions were outlawed nationwide, women remained repressed, public executions were rampant, and homosexuals and victims of rape were punished, as were those who insulted Islam.

This just in

Mattel CEO fired amid declining profits

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Joerg Koch/Getty Images

Mattel's CEO, Bryan Stockton, was fired on Monday after the company reported a 59 percent drop in profits. Stockton was Mattel's chairman and chief executive for the past three years.

The company's overall earnings have declined, but the drop in Barbie sales has been the most discussed among analysts. In 2009, more than 25 percent of dolls purchased in the U.S. were Barbies, but in 2013, Barbie accounted for only 19.6 percent of doll sales.

Christopher Sinclair, who has served on the Mattel board since 1996, has been named the brand's interim chair and CEO. Sinclair said in a statement that the company needs "new leadership to maximize its potential."


Uber caps its blizzard surge pricing in New York

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Uber announced Monday that it would cap its surge prices in New York for this week's blizzard.

"Due to the State of Emergency declared in New York City, prices will not exceed 2.8x the normal fare," Uber said in an email. "Anytime a disaster or state of emergency strikes, dynamic pricing is capped, and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts."

Ridesharing service Lyft is also capping its surge prices for the storm at twice the price of a normal fare. Both companies increase their fares with demand-based pricing during emergencies or holidays such as New Year's, in which there aren't enough cars to handle requests.

This just in

CBO: Federal deficit will drop to lowest level since Obama took office

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the budget deficit should this year shrink to its lowest level as a percentage of the economy since 2007.

The nonpartisan agency said the deficit for the fiscal year, which ends in September, will be $468 billion, down a tick from last year's $483 billion mark. In addition, the CBO said there were 19 million fewer uninsured Americans this year compared to the year before thanks to changes implemented under ObamaCare.

This doesn't look good

Sam Smith will pay Tom Petty songwriting royalties for 'Stay with Me'

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Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Sam Smith's 2014 hit "Stay with Me" bore striking similarity to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1989 hit "I Won't Back Down," and now Smith is paying the price.

Smith's rep told Rolling Stone that "the likeness was a complete coincidence." He added that the "Stay with Me" writers were "not previously familiar" with Petty's hit, but when they heard it, they "acknowledged the similarity."

Smith agreed to pay Petty royalties for the song, and Petty and singer-composer Jeff Lynne will get a 12.5 percent songwriting credit.

This just in

S&P downgrades Russian credit rating to 'junk' status

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Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

Standard & Poor's on Monday cut Russia's credit rating to junk status, the first time in a decade it has done so. The downgrade reflects the global plummet in oil prices, Western sanctions on Russia, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Those factors caused the ruble to nosedive last year, placing Russia on the brink of recession.

This doesn't look good

KFC is testing the Double Down Hot Dog

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KFC's new "Double Down Dog" is exactly what it sounds like: a hot dog with fried chicken in lieu of a bun, covered in cheese.

#NewKFCDoubleDown number 4: Sold! There are 46 more at KFC Fort Triangle Branch. Grab one now!

A photo posted by KFC Philippines (@kfcphilippines) on

The monstrosity is currently only for sale in the Philippines. Replacing bread with fried chicken seems pretty American, though, so perhaps one day you'll be able to live the Double Down Dog dream right here in the states.


Blizzard threat prompts states of emergency across Northeast

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Preston Rescigno/Getty Images

New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts declared states of emergency Monday as a massive blizzard churned into the region.

The storm, which could dump more than two feet of snow in some places, has forced airlines to cancel at least 3,400 flights and prompted travel bans that will go into effect Monday evening. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all non-emergency vehicles off the roads by 11 pm and urged people to leave work early if possible.

"I don't think it's draconian," he said of the road closures at a press conference Monday. "I think it's necessary."

space stuff

A huge asteroid is flying by Earth today

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A giant asteroid is headed straight toward Earth, but NASA says not to worry.

The asteroid, 2004 BL86, will be about 745,000 miles from Earth, which is roughly three times as far away as the moon is. That may sound far away, but today's event marks the closest known asteroid of its size to pass near Earth until 2027.

Check out a video of the asteroid reaching its closest point with Earth here — and if you've got clear skies at home, scientists estimate that the best time to watch the event is between 8:00 p.m. Monday and 1:00 a.m. Tuesday. If your skies aren't affected by the Northeast blizzard, these NASA sky charts will help you figure out when is the best time to look for the asteroid today.

space stuff

NASA's next mission might be sending a helicopter to Mars

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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hopes to send a remote-controlled helicopter to Mars. The camera-equipped helicopter could triple the distance that Mars rovers travel in a Martian day and would "pinpoint interesting targets for study," according to NASA.

Flying the helicopter over Mars won't be easy, though — the planet's atmosphere has low density, and the copter will need to maintain stable flight on its own. But the scientists have been developing the Mars helicopter for month, and they've already made a full-scale prototype.

The scientists are testing the prototype in a vacuum chamber with Martian conditions to see what needs to be improved before it goes into flight. They also have to make sure it has a functional landing system before they can send it to Mars. Check out the JPL roboticists' explanation of how the helicopter will do what Martian rovers can't in the video below. —Meghan DeMaria

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