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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A search is under way for Mexican soccer star Alan Pulido, who disappeared after leaving a party early Sunday morning in his hometown of Ciudad Victoria in northern Mexico, a Mexican official told ABC News.

Ruben Dario of the Tamaulipas state attorney general’s office did not elaborate on the disappearance investigation to ABC News, saying the family requested privacy.

Pulido is currently a forward for Olympiacos of Greece. He was a member of Mexico’s World Cup team in 2014.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When people think about free travel, they mostly think about redeeming miles or points for free flights. But the truth is, the average person doesn’t fly often enough or spend enough to earn free flights.

So what’s a traveler with a light wallet to do?

Focus your efforts on other aspects of the trip, like accommodations. And the tips below can help you cut down on summer travel costs.


It started out primarily as a way for teachers on sabbatical to trade homes with each other and travel on the cheap, but the company now boasts 65,000 listings — including primary homes and members’ second homes. Here’s how it works: You list your home, including photos, but with no exact address, plus details about yourself and what you’re looking for in a renter. You can sit back and wait for people to contact you or be more proactive and reach out to people whose homes are located in places you’re interested in visiting to see if there’s a match.

Is it weird to have someone you don’t know stay in your home?

“By the time the exchange actually takes place, they’re not a stranger anymore,” said Ed Kushins, founder of HomeExchange. “There’s been multiple email exchanges and Skype conversations. Many people become friends and swap with the same people year after year.”

There is no cost to exchange homes, but there is a $150 yearly subscription fee for the site.


Popular in Europe and gaining traction in the U.S., TrustedHouseSitter.com gives pet lovers the opportunity to pet- and house-sit while pet owners travel. The pet owner knows the pet will be happier at home instead of at a boarding facility and gets the service free of charge. The sitter gets to travel to a new place and have free accommodations for the duration of the trip.

A home with a swimming pool in Amed, Bali, needs a dog- and house-sitter for two weeks in August. Two kitties in Portland, Oregon, need someone to sit and stay for a month starting in mid-June. Or how about a stay in Tuscany, where you’ll care for dogs, cats and an Alpaca?

Rental Cars

Great for domestic road trips and for people who can travel somewhat last-minute, Transfer Car offers free — or almost free — one-way car and RV rentals. The vehicles, the site explains, need to get back to their home cities, and this is a cheap way for rental car companies to make that happen (otherwise, the cars have to go on a truck). In some cases, gas and insurance is included.

Transfer Car’s chief marketing officer Pascal Languillon told ABC News there’s often a lot of inventory between Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and between Florida and New York/New Jersey in both directions. The site is updated daily and “we usually don’t know too far in advance exactly what we will have. So it’s best for customers to register, subscribe to an email alert for their particular route of interest, and come back to check the website regularly.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For die-hard stamp collectors, New York City is the center of the universe for the next seven days.

The city is hosting the World Stamp Show-NY 2016, a major international event for philatelists that is held only once every 10 years, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The last time an international stamp show took place in NYC was 1956.

The event kicked off Saturday and will run through June 4.

According to its website, the World Stamp Show will feature more than 150 stamp dealers and 50 postal bureaus, including the United States Postal Service and the United Nations Postal Administration.

It is estimated that 250,000 people will attend the eight-day event.

Several new U.S. commemorative stamps are scheduled to be issued for the first time at the show throughout the week, including “View of Our Planets,” “Colorful Celebrations,” and “National Parks.”

Among the show highlights are displays of the 1856 British Guiana 1-cent magenta stamp, which sold at auction in 2015 for $9.5 million–and rock legend John Lennon’s stamp collection, which he started when he was a child.

The World Stamp Show-NY 2016 is free and open to the public.

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HENDRIK SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(MAGDEBURG, Germany) — An activist shoved a chocolate cake in the face of a German opposition leader during a convention for the country’s far-left Die Linke party.

The attack was an apparent protest over Sahra Wagenknecht’s stance on migrants, according to BBC, and a group called Anti-Fascist Initiative “Cake for Misanthropists” claimed responsibility.

According to BBC, the group distributed flyers that detailed her position to limit the number of refugees Germany should accept as a reason for the cake attack.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — After retesting samples from the London 2012 Olympics, the Russian Olympic Committee announced Saturday that eight of the country’s athletes had failed drug tests.

The announcement marked the second time this month that Russia admitted its athletes were involved in a doping scandal.

According to BBC, the athletes were involved in three sports in 2012, but they will not be named until a second urine sample, the B sample, is analyzed.

Recent retests of samples found that 14 Russian athletes were using illegal substances in the 2008 Beijing Games. One of the named athletes in those retests, Olympic bronze medallist in 2008 and high jumper Anna Chicherova, won gold in 2012.

Russian athletes, already banned from international competition, will find out in June whether they will be allowed to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Millions are hitting the road to travel for the first big weekend of the summer, fueled by gas prices that are 42 cents lower than last year.

A possible record-breaking 34 million Americans are expected to drive this holiday weekend, while the average gallon of gas is just $2.32.

“The cost of traveling was just too high in recent years,” Turner Batten, a holiday traveler, told ABC News. “But this year, thankfully, gas prices have dropped and we’re able to make a trip like this.”

Although gas prices have been rising within the past month, they’re expected to stay low for the weekend, which is good news for businesses.

“The crowds are good, and they’re spending money,” Dan Dinnebeil of Shake Shoppe Arcade in Orlando told ABC News.

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iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) — Lightning strikes in France and Germany caused several injuries on Saturday.

German police said 35 people were taken to the hospital after lightning struck a children’s soccer match in Hoppstadten, Germany. Three adults, including the referee, were seriously injured in the incident, and the other 32 people were transported to the hospital as a precaution.

According to BBC, witnesses said the lightning strike happened when there were no dark clouds and the sky was blue.

In Paris, eight children and three adults were struck by lightning after a sudden storm sent bolts crashing down upon a children’s birthday party in a city park, a fire official said. According to BBC, several of the victims are in a life-threatening condition. Police sad the victims had sought shelter under a tree at Parc Monceau, a wealthy district in Paris.

No place outside is safe when you hear thunder or see lightning, according to the National Weather Service. To stay safe during a lightning strike, the NWS says to immediately seek shelter inside a building with electricity or plumbing, or an enclosed metal-topped vehicle with the windows up.

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Courtesy of Shane Birkinbine(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) — One man’s creative Super Mario marriage proposal definitely earned him the top score in his bride-to-be’s eyes.

When Pam Edwards was unsuspectingly playing the game alongside her now fiancé, Shane Birkinbine, on May 21, she had no idea she’d soon be winning not only the game, but also a new sparkly diamond ring.

“You can make your own custom levels,” Birkinbine, 39, told ABC News of how he designed the game to pop the question. “I’m more of an introvert so I didn’t want to make a huge deal of it, but wanted something between us that was special and creative. So it came to my mind that I’m going make a special level just for her.”

As Edwards began playing, she was too focused on winning to realize her name was written on the screen.

“Babe, what’s that say?” Birkinbine asks Edwards in the adorable video he took to capture the moment. “The blocks, it spells out your name I think.”

Tickled enough by the fact her boyfriend programmed her name into the game, she still had no idea what was coming next.

“What’s that say?” he continues as she moves the control to see the following question.

As she reads “Will you marry me?” written in blocks on the screen, she’s overcome with emotion, giggling before replying “Yes!”

“I was really surprised,” Edwards, 30, said of the special proposal. “It was so creative and I was just happy because we’re in love and I’m just thrilled.”

Birkinbine said it took him about a week to program the personalized level, and he wasn’t concerned about her finding it on the game because “she wouldn’t just hop on herself,” he said.

“I’m kind of the avid gamer and geek,” he added. “I like a lot of different geeky stuff or science fiction movies. She’s does game with me with sometimes, but it’s not something she’d just log in to do herself.”

As soon as the video ends, Birkinbine got down on one knee with the ring, which he also planned to go along with the theme.

“I had the ring in its original box and then I had that box in a Mario question mark box,” he said. “It’s actually a Yahtzee video game container. I got up off the couch and went over to her and I just said, ‘Babe, I love you very much. You’re so kind and sweet and always taking care of me, and you’re the woman I want to be with the rest of my life.’”

The happy couple from Bentonville, Arkansas, is now planning a wedding for this fall.

As for continuing the Super Mario theme in the wedding, “We’ll incorporate some geeky aspects into it, but I want it to be just the way she likes it,” said Birkinbine.

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Courtesy of 1st Lt. Andrew Yacovone and 1st Lt. Justin Wright(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Maybe it was bound to happen: After 15 years of war, two talented soldiers cross paths and discover a mutual love of music.

That’s exactly what occurred for First Lt. Andrew Yacovone and First Lt. Justin Wright, Army rangers writing and producing country songs on deployment in Afghanistan.

The pair met on their first day of infantry basic training for officers in 2014.

Andrew described the moment — a bunch of soldiers standing around after an exhausting day of training.

“I called out to the crowd and asked if anyone played guitar,” Andrew said. “Lo and behold, Justin was standing right next to me and he was like, ‘Heck yeah, I play guitar!'”

The new friends “jammed” all night.

Shortly after that meeting, they debuted their first YouTube hit, “Hometown Hero,” from Afghanistan. A full-length EP produced from a studio followed.

Now, this Memorial Day weekend, Interstate 10, as the pair are now known, has released its latest music video, “I’m Gonna Miss You,” which is dedicated to military families of fallen servicemen.

Andrew began writing the song back in 2013 before the two even met, but after their unit lost soldiers during their first deployment, they say the song took on a whole new meaning.

Despite being stationed 40 miles away at different bases for their second deployment, they were determined to finish the song.

“We’re like, ‘Dang it, we aren’t going to be together for this deployment,’” Andrew said. “But we have Skype and ways to connect.”

The pair even managed to shoot pieces of the music video in Afghanistan.

“If you could see what was behind the camera, it was interesting,” Andrew said. “Taped things over here, headlamps sitting around bunkers to light the scene using our flashlights. Just to make it all right.”

But they say they never lack inspiration to keep producing music.

“Most of our music is written on deployment,” Justin said. “You think of the restaurant where you want to eat at, and you think of where you’ll take a girlfriend on a date — what beaches you will go to, which mountain you are going to climb. You think of all these clear pictures of a dream life that most people don’t live, but you know you’re going to because you can do anything after you’ve been to Afghanistan for nine months.”

This Memorial Day, the pair encourages Americans to enjoy the weekend and celebrate the individuals who sacrificed for the country.

They would also probably encourage everyone to sing along to “I’m Gonna Miss You.”

Andrew and Justin will reunite at Bagram Airfield in the next few weeks to complete their deployment together.

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Leibniz University of Hannover(HANNOVER, Germany) — Robots with emotion. Robots that can do our jobs. Robotic friends. Next up: Robots that can feel pain.

Researchers in Germany are developing an artificial nervous system that would teach robots to feel and react to pain, with the intent of helping them to avoid damage to their systems and warn their human co-workers, which could help prevent accidents.

A team of researchers from Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, described their research at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week in Stockholm, Sweden.

In humans, neurons transmit pain. Artificial neurons in the robot would send the same signals, allowing it to determine the scope of the pain, from light to severe.

“Pain is a system that protects us. When we move away from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt,” Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers, told IEEE Spectrum.

How the robot reacts is also key. Kuehn and his co-worker, Sami Haddadin, wrote in a paper published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters they used human pain research to understand how robotic reflexes could help protect the machines.

Using a tactile fingertip sensor that can feel temperature and pressure, the researchers developed a prototype reflex controller based on how human feel when they experience physical pain. When the force on the sensor passes a certain level, the robot receives alerts, the same way humans would when they experience pain. The robot can then use its protective reflexes.

It’s only a matter of time before robots are practically human-like.

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