President says he’s “still weighing the options” about how America will assist the Iraqi regime, says solving the problem is “up to the Iraqis.”

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U.S. President Barack Obama makes comments on accepting the resignation of Eric Shenseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Friday, May 30, 2014. Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press / MCT

WASHINGTON — American ground troops are not headed back to Iraq to rescue that country’s regime from a growing threat from “vicious terrorist group” ISIS, President Obama said Friday.

But the rapidly degrading situation in Iraq may require some U.S. military intervention, Obama said, though what exactly it might entail, even if it will happen at all, remains open questions. In a brief statement and Q&A with reporters on the south lawn of the White House, Obama repeatedly condemned ISIS as “terrorists” and also chastised the Iraqi regime for not standing strong in the face of ISIS forces.

“Unfortunately, Iraqi leaders have been unable to overcome, too often, the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there. And that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government, as well as their security forces,” he said, noting that many Iraqi soldiers have abandoned their posts and refused to fight as ISIS has moved into cities across the country.

“So any action that we make take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force. We can’t do it for them,” Obama added.

Obama said ISIS gains in Iraq “could pose a threat eventually to American interests,” and so his team will be talking with the Iraqi regime over the weekend to determine what, if anything, the U.S. does to help. But the president insisted action will come only if disparate Iraqi groups present a unified plan to move forward.

“I want to make sure that everybody understands this message — the United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they’re prepared to work together,” Obama said. “We’re not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation in which while we’re there we’re keeping a lid on things, and, after enormous sacrifices by us, as soon as we’re not there, suddenly people end up acting in ways that are not conductive to the long-term stability and prosperity of the country.”

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9 members forming like Voltron.

1. On August 6th, the Wu-Tang Clan stopped by The Daily Show to perform their new single “Ron O’neal” from their forthcoming album A Better Tomorrow.

On August 6th, the Wu-Tang Clan stopped by The Daily Show to perform their new single "Ron O'neal" from their forthcoming album A Better Tomorrow.

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Ian Gavan / Getty

Ghostface Killah, RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, Method Man, U-God, and Masta Killa talked to Jon Stewart about the new album and staying together for 20 years.

2. Asked what was the biggest challenge facing their getting everyone back together, Raekwon said, “I consider this a sport. I think it’s important, as an athlete of music, to make sure you’ve got your business together, make sure you feel happy.”

Asked what was the biggest challenge facing their getting everyone back together, Raekwon said, "I consider this a sport. I think it's important, as an athlete of music, to make sure you've got your business together, make sure you feel happy."

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Comedy Central

3. Watch the full episode below:

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Their interview starts at 9 minutes in and their performance at 14:50.

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Absentmindedly (sorry, obsessively) checking my Klout score this morning, I stumbled upon a perk — a shiny ad for some kind of new Starbucks drink offered to the uber-influencers of the influence-counting service. A perk! I love perks.

Klout perks have been around for a couple years, and they’re no joke, even if you think the service is: upgrades to a first class lounge at SFO, VIP access at a Hollywood nightclub, deeper discounts on Gilt and more. One guy, as of May, had collected 63 perks, including a phone and an invitation to a VH1 awards show. In June, Klout bragged it has delivered 700,000 perks across 350 campaigns.

Unfortunately, as soon as I clicked on the Starbucks perk for my free drink, my heart sank.

It seems that my Klout score of 59 was just not high enough to meet their bar of influence, a Klout score of 60. I am not influential enough to be worthy of a Starbucks Refresher. Surely, there were things I could qualify for, though? I mean, I’m not INVISIBLE. I have INFLUENCE. I’m not the most powerful person in the Kloutworld (scores go up to 100) but I’m certainly average or better. Can’t I at least pick up a pass to a Bud Lime party?

NOPE. To be fair, it seems that the party already happened, and it happened in Chicago and Washington, DC. I am in San Francisco.

Increasingly desperate to prove my Klout self-worth and validate my Kloutsistence with perks, though, I kept clicking around various categories — “Experiences,” “Retail,” “Sports” — hunting for a perk I could claim. Of the ten current perks, I am only eligible for three. The shame!

And even when I tried to claim my measly three perks, there were problems. After unsuccessfully attempting to get new business cards and a photo album, I clicked on the Red Bull magazine, supposedly open to anyone with a Klout score over 1. Still, no dice.

No Band-Aids for me, either.

Also, the bulk of the perks were all used up.

So what am I missing? Many of the comments were positive, even for the most mundane things, like the Red Bull magazine.“This is the perfect type of digital magazine! Just an awesome design,” said one recipient. So, a lot, maybe.

But not everything was as promised. An eSalon hair coloring perk got particularly bad reviews —“Well, this isn’t a perk because you can get your first color at eSalon FREE and just pay the $5 shipping…it’s actually more. It’s one thing for a Perk to be a discount, but for it to be MORE expensive, I’m actually offended,” groused one commenter.

On the higher end, there were more troubling issues. The priciest perk that I saw were tickets valued at around $2,500 to some kind of London event — you needed to have a God-like Klout score of 70 to qualify for them. (Does God even have a Klout score that high?) At least one man who qualified claims he didn’t receive his perk at all.

Overall, my personal Klout envy aside, the perk program seems pretty disappointing. Most of the prizes were beyond boring (Band-Aids for Canadians?) and unevenly doled out. If you had actual clout — i.e., you command real attention and influence — you probably wouldn’t need Klout to tell you about a Bud Lime summer party. You’d be the person throwing it.

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Did you ever have a Baby Feels So Real doll? These were popular in the ’80s and ’90s and boasted a miracle in modern doll engineering — a body that felt like a real baby.


You are? Awesome. Let’s go.

We found this post courtesy of Blogspot user Cirafly24, who performed an autopsy on her own Baby Feels So Real.



If you can handle more, head over here for the entire Baby Feels So Real autopsy.

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Most of the time, a year is made up of 365 days. But this year, just like 2012, and the year four years before that, has 366. And that vital extra day, a leap day, is (partly) what keeps our calendars in working order.

As users of a solar calendar, we rely on the sun to tell us how long a year is and when each of the four seasons begins. It was devised to match our farming habits and as a reliable and visible guide to the passing of time. The suns position on the horizon as it rises and sets moves over the course of a year, further south in the winter, and further north in the summer. This significant change is used to mark midwinter or midsummer at famous locations such as Stonehenge and New Grange.

Summer at Stonehenge. Andrew Dunn, CC BY-SA

But as a very specific measure, one year, better described as a tropical year, is defined as the time between one spring equinox and the next being 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds. This period is often rounded up to 365 and a quarter days although even the Greek astronomer Hipparchus realised over 2,000 years ago that this was a generous approximation and so to keep our years aligned and reassuringly predictable, a leap day is added to the calendar every four years to allow for the accumulation of those otherwise overlooked four extra quarters.

Moving Seasons

If we kept every year at a fixed 365 days, the months would gradually shift with the sun until in 750 years’ time, June, in the northern hemisphere, would fall in the middle of winter. Planning for the future would gradually become more and more complicated, and religious traditions with a seasonal element, such as Christmas and Easter, would become hopelessly out of kilter. So there has been a considerable motivation for cultures to keep their calendars precise and predictable and establishing a workable system was a considerable demonstration of power by the rulers of historic empires.

The current length of each month and therefore the length of a year dates back to the Roman dictator Julius Caesar. This Julian calendar included leap days but they instead occured every three years. When Augustus Julius Caesars heir became emperor he corrected this mistake and celebrated his power and understanding of celestial movements through monuments such as the giant sundial of Augustus. This huge meridian sundial once stood on the Campus Martius in Rome, its calendrical functionality a constant reminder of Augustus’ greatness.

But the Julian calendar was not perfect either, since the year was in fact just a little bit shorter than 365.25 days. Pope Gregory corrected this mistake in his Gregorian calendar of 1582. As well as adding a leap day every four years, he also opted to lose three days every 400 years. This was a Catholic decision, which Protestant and Orthodox calendars resisted for some time. Greece was the last country to accept the Gregorian reform in 1923.

More Time Needed

The modern result of all this squabbling is our current system of adding an extra day every four years. To adjust for the uneven precision of the fraction, every 100 years we also skip this rule and drop the extra day. Then, every 400 years we skip the skipping rule and have an extra day again. Yes, its complicated.

The year 2000, for example, was a leap year, since it was divisible by four. But since it was also divisible by 400, the dropping of the extra day every 100 years was not carried out. This long-term solution creates an average year length of 365.2425 days, still slightly off the required target of 365.2421897 days, making even this complicated modern arrangement incorrect by one day over a period of just under 4,000 years.

This error is part of the reason why we sometimes include leap seconds at the end of June or December. However, this is not done in a regular fashion and is determined by the deviation of the calendar by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service. Since this adjustment is so small it is influenced by the general slowing down of the Earths rotation and the complex system of all the solar system bodies upon Earth.

So not only are leap years the result of millennia of mathematical work, they are also the consequence of rulers imposing their will on peoples day to day lives, and the gradual understanding of our place in the universe. Controlling calendars means controlling the rhythms of a culture which is something for all of us to think about on February 29.

Daniel Brown, Lecturer in Astronomy, Nottingham Trent University

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We told you last night about Bob Beckel’s cable news f-bomb on the Sean Hannity show last night.

This morning, he tweets an apology to “anyone who heard me on Hannity” (though not to conservative guest Jennifer Stefano, to whom he cursed or to Hannity, whom he blamed for his indiscretion) — and then appears to inadvertently tweet out some not-meant-for-public consumption thoughts about his future in the TV business.

J hope u get this many most conservative been very kind After all I went thru to get clean I no better Tween u&m future not clear in others

— Robert G Beckel (@RobertGBeckel) April 17, 2012

J hope I sent just to u Bad at twitter tell friends I'm ok been thru tougher Many good folk out there specially cons God bless them lv 2 fam

— Robert G Beckel (@RobertGBeckel) April 17, 2012

Thanks for supportive words. helped get me up this AM still feel down and ashamed you who want me fired I understand but it was a mistake

— Robert G Beckel (@RobertGBeckel) April 17, 2012

I apologize to anyone who heard me on Hannity. I honestly thought we were off air. I just may not be cut out for the tv business. Peace

— Robert G Beckel (@RobertGBeckel) April 17, 2012


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1. Forget How Hideous They Were

It almost hurts to look

2. They Were Extremely Convenient


3. Now You Get A Fax

But it’s down the hall… And there is no moving moving walkway

4. If Only…

You could get your work done SO much faster

5. Then You Would Have More Time To Talk To The Hot Guy In Accounting

I mean look at that face.

6. Now They Don’t Seem That Bad

7. Don’t Look At Them!

Oh god

8. Just Look At Him


9. Your Boss Will Be So Impressed How Fast Your Work Gets Done

10. Let’s Order Them Right Now!

Never mind…. That’s like my budget for drinks this weekend!

11. Maybe I Could Be Persuaded

Where’s my credit card?

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Bear Grylls is about to do something super simple, but totally powerful with President Obama.

Bear Grylls is known for his expertise in outdoor survival, his passion for nature and his willingness to eat some of the most disgusting things on the planetcan you say rhino beetle and rotten camel flesh?

But Grylls is also known for his inspiring faith in God.

In an interview with RELEVANT magazine he said, I had a very natural faith as a kid. As a really young kid, I never questioned God. I just knew God existed and it felt like He was my friend.

Grylls has gone through his ups and downs like the rest of us, but his faith is still at the forefront. Its been a kinda wiggly, messy journey that is still continuing, he says.

Grylls prefers to keep faith simple.

I remember having one moment when some really good friends turned their back on me in a really nasty way, Grylls says. And I remember praying a simple prayer up a tree one evening and saying, God, if youre like I knew you as a kid, would you be that friend again? And it was no more complicated than that. And actually the amazing thing is that all God asks is that we sort of open the door and Hell do the rest.”

“So often we kinda hide behind our yearning for love and acceptance with loads of complicated theological questions, and actually once thats stripped away what we really are is just somebody who wants to have that relationship with your Father.

In an interview on CBN’s 700 Club, Grylls said, “The journey’s been that faith has been the wildest ride. And Jesus, the heart of the Christian faith is the wildest, most radical guy you’d ever come across. He was always hanging around with the prostitutes and the tax collectors and having parties and banquets…

…and I found myself drawn to that character, not the kind of fluff that we like to box as religion.”

Thats why its no surprise to see him put his faith into action and request permission to pray with President Obama in a special episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

Heres a man who really has the weight of the world on his shoulders and everyones always taking from him Grylls said.

And I wanted just for ten seconds to pray for him and for protection over the incredible stuff hes doing.”

Lord, I thank you for the Presidents great strength, courage and character. Bless and protect his work and his family. Forgive us where we fall short and help us to be strong in you. Amen.

Watch the full clip below.

Side note: President Obama didn’t eat a rhino beetle, but he did go on to eat salmon leftover by bears.

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It was big news this morning when Russian president Vladimir Putin seemed to endorse GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. “Hes a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt,” declared Putin after a press conference, adding that Trump is “the absolute leader in the presidential race.”

Putin’s admiration for Trump was troubling to many, considering Trump’s continued lead in the polls.

Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster and chair of the Human Rights Foundation, has long been a thorn in Putin’s side and took the value of his “endorsement” down a few pegs.

Trump appeared last night on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” immediately before appearing at a rally in Mesa, Arizona.

* * *


For the record, Trump seemed flattered by Putin’s complimentary comments:

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