About the author  ⁄ WFIN

Facebook(NEW YORK) — The Super Bowl and social media have become a favorite annual pairing, joining the ranks of chips and salsa, and chicken wings and beer.

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled a new real-time hub for fans to use while watching the big game.

Whether it’s Marshawn Lynch’s potential antics, a halftime surprise from Katy Perry or a simple touchdown celebration, it’s now even easier to see what your friends and others are saying.

Facebook’s Super Bowl experience also gives users the best commentary from celebrities, a play-by-play of the game and videos of some of the most highly anticipated commercials.

It’s likely Super Bowl XLIX, which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots, could be one of the most buzzed about events on Facebook this year.

Last year, the social network said more than 50 million people had an astounding 185 million interactions about the Super Bowl on game day.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Facebook(NEW YORK) — The Super Bowl and social media have become a favorite annual pairing, joining the ranks of chips and salsa, and chicken wings and beer.

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled a new real-time hub for fans to use while watching the big game.

Whether it’s Marshawn Lynch’s potential antics, a halftime surprise from Katy Perry or a simple touchdown celebration, it’s now even easier to see what your friends and others are saying.

Facebook’s Super Bowl experience also gives users the best commentary from celebrities, a play-by-play of the game and videos of some of the most highly anticipated commercials.

It’s likely Super Bowl XLIX, which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots, could be one of the most buzzed about events on Facebook this year.

Last year, the social network said more than 50 million people had an astounding 185 million interactions about the Super Bowl on game day.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has RSVP’d to a May celebration in Russia commemorating the Soviet victory over Germany in World War II.

The historic trip would be the North Korean leader’s first visit outside his country since he took power and succeeded his father in 2011. It would also be his first time meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in person.

North Korea and Russia have been strengthening their relationship in recent months.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — “You’re not Eric Holder, are you?”

That question, posed to Loretta Lynch nearly two hours into her confirmation hearing to be the next attorney general, seemed to encapsulate what every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee was likely thinking.

“No, I’m not,” Lynch assured the man who asked the question, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, with a wry smile. “I will be myself. I will be Loretta Lynch [if confirmed.]”

Cornyn said Holder’s record has weighed “heavily” on some of his fellow senators’ minds, insisting Holder was “openly contentious” toward Republican lawmakers, “stonewalled legitimate” oversight investigations, and “harassed” states that passed laws requiring certain forms of identification for voters to cast ballots in elections.

At the opening of the hearing, committee chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he hoped Lynch “has what it takes” to “fix” President Obama’s Justice Department.

Still, by lunchtime much of the hearing remained tame — with Lynch and senators from both sides of the aisle calmly trading questions and answers on issues that have been debated in such hearings for years.

However, Republicans also took sharp aim at the Obama administration’s plan to bring sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system, using executive action to offer temporary legal status to nearly five million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Many Republicans on the Senate committee derided the move as a deliberate violation of the U.S. Constitution and pressed Lynch over how she would handle the executive action.

Lynch rebuffed Republican suggestions that the executive action amounted to a refusal to enforce the law, saying it was instead an attempt to set priorities.

She echoed the Obama administration in suggesting the point of the executive action was to “prioritize” deportations of the “most dangerous” people, namely criminals, terrorists and other violent offenders. And she called it all a “reasonable way to marshal limited resources.”

She said she has not seen regulations laying out exactly how the Department of Homeland Security will enact the new action, but she said she has reviewed an opinion from the Department of Justice assessing the president’s legal authority to take such action.

She said that assessment seemed reasonable, noting the department did conclude in some instances that certain administration proposals were not allowed under the law.

Pressed by Sen. Jeff Sessions over whether undocumented immigrants have a right to citizenship, Lynch called citizenship a “right” for those born in the United States and “a privilege” for others. Sessions agreed.

But when asked by Sessions whether she, as attorney general, would take legal action against any employers who preferred to hire undocumented immigrants over U.S. citizens, Lynch called it an “important point” that should be reviewed.

On the immigration issue, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., strongly defended the Obama administration, saying it’s a “myth” that prioritizing law enforcement resources — known as “prosecutorial discretion” — amounts to a failure to enforce laws.

There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and Congress “only allocates” enough resources for Homeland Security to deport 400,000 of them, so suggesting that the Obama administration is willfully skirting the law is “absurd,” Schumer said.

“Obviously, you have to make some choices here,” Schumer said. “This idea of going after higher-level dangerous crimes first is how law enforcement has gone on for hundreds of years, and should.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., took strong issue with Republicans’ criticism of Holder, saying he had no opportunity to defend himself at the hearing and insisting their claims “would not withstand” further scrutiny.

It’s “easy to…blame him” and history will show that Holder “actually brought the department back from a place where it had sadly been politicized” under the Bush administration, Whitehouse said.

Over and over, Lynch vowed to be an “independent and objective” attorney general, pointing to her long record as U.S. attorney.

And, she pledged, when she and lawmakers inevitably disagree on an issue, she will hear their concerns and “be open to discussion.”

She said it was important “to work with people who might disagree.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Epic Records(NEW YORK) — Before she was singing about “bringing booty back” and embracing her curves, Meghan Trainor had to fight low self-esteem just like the rest of us. The 21-year-old singer admitted to U.K.’s Reveal that she used to be “addicted to diets,” and tried to follow Beyonce’s weight-loss secret.

Meghan tells the publication that her insecurities began in school when her best guy friend told her she’d be “so hot” if she lost ten pounds. She said she rushed home and told her mom she was “never eating again.” That’s when she started researching fad diets online.

“I Googled, ‘What does Beyonce do?’ and decided I’d try the detox diet with cayenne pepper,” Meghan recalled. “Do you know how much I had to drink to get used to it? It was so gross. I stopped straight away. I was like, ‘This is not normal.’”

Meghan said she’s since met Beyonce, who’s a fan of her music, and credits her for having a “real figure” in a business where many women feel they have to be skin and bones.

“I definitely feel like I’m 30 and I’ve been through a lot,” the 21-year-old singer said. “I haven’t experienced anything crucial or devastating. But I got addicted to weird little diets and I quickly realized how stupid it was.”

Meghan said that when she first wrote her #1 Grammy-nominated hit “All About That Bass,” it was more about how she wished she felt, rather than how she actually felt, about her body. But once she started performing and getting positive feedback, she says, she started to feel more confident. Now, she encourages her friends to love their bodies.

“I’m just 100 percent happier than I was,” she said. “The trick I tell my girlfriends now is that you have to say it out loud. You haven’t got to nearly kill yourself on these diets. You just have to look in the mirror and tell yourself, ‘Damn I look good today!’”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

US Dept. of Justice(WASHINGTON) — President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, faces tough Senate questioning as she begins two-days of confirmation hearings before Senate Judiciary.

While Lynch is expected to win confirmation, she’s the first Obama Cabinet nominee to appear before a Republican-led committee as she seeks to become the first black woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement job.

Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would replace Eric Holder, who announced his resignation last fall.

A Justice Department staffer tell ABC’s Mike Levine that while Lynch testifies, she’ll have a Navy Seal trident pin on the table in front of her. It’s her brother’s — a former Seal who died in 2009 and it’s there “in order to feel her late brother’s presence at the hearing.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — The same bulletproof material that has saved countless lives may now have another practical use in everything from smartphones to airplanes.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have used Kevlar as a barrier to create slimmer lithium-ion batteries. The result is a battery that lasts longer, is more flexible and is explosion-proof, according to Nicholos Kotov.

The University of Michigan professor, who is co-inventor of the technology, told ABC News that Kevlar was chosen as an insulator for its “high strength” and “heat resistance.”

Standard lithium-ion batteries work by sending charges between electrodes via a circuit path. When battery membrane holes become a certain size, lithium atoms can accumulate and create structures called dendrites, which poke through the membrane.

Dendrites become a problem if they reach the other electrode, which will short out the circuit. This is how some battery fires are believed to have started.

“It turns out that this strength [of Kevlar] is very important for the prevention of the growth of dendrites in the batteries,” Kotov said.

The University of Michigan team founded a company, called Elegus Technologies, with the hope of bringing the research to market.

Kotov said 30 companies have so far requested samples of the material and that they hope to begin production toward the end of 2016.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Budweiser is bringing back its winning combination for its Super Bowl XLIX ad this year. It’s one-minute spot “Lost Dog” features an adorable puppy and its cross-species friendship theme once again.

The role of the Budweiser Clydesdale trainer is reprised for a third time by actor Don Jeanes.

Like its popular “Puppy Love” ad last year, this one, shot at a ranch outside Santa Barbara, California, in early December, features another puppy that escapes from its owner.

Will the ad motivate viewers to drink beer? Probably not, but Budweiser is at least hoping you’ll use the hashtag #BestBuds and feel warm and cuddly about it.

Paired with the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” performed by Sleeping At Last, the puppy-horse combination may elicit a tear or two.

Though the ad looks like it uses one irresistible puppy, it used eight: seven females and one male, who were all 11 to 12.5 weeks old at filming.

And seven Budweiser Clydesdales underwent training for three months to fine-tune their skills for the ad, Budweiser said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The feature that allows you to be in someone’s “best friends” Snapchat list has been eliminated in the latest update of the app.

For people unfamiliar with the ephemeral messaging service, the public feature allows users to see who the three friends a person sends snaps to most frequently.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said the best friends feature was eliminated because “a few higher-profile friends wanted to keep their usernames private,” however he promised it would eventually be back in a new form.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Oleg Zabielin/iStock/Thinkstock(AMMAN, Jordan) — Jordan has said it would go through with a prisoner swap with the terror group ISIS in order to get its captured pilot back, but now a top official of the Middle Eastern nation says the government has not received proof that he’s still alive.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh posted a message on Twitter saying the government asked for, but has not received, “evidence of health and safety of the hero, Muath,” referring to Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, a pilot who was captured by ISIS last December after his aircraft was shot down.

Earlier on Wednesday, Jordanian officials said the government was prepared to meet ISIS’ demand to free a convicted terrorist in prison there, Sajida al-Rishawi, in return for al-Kaseasbeh.

In an ISIS video uploaded online Tuesday, ISIS repeated the demand for al-Rishawi’s release through another hostage, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, saying that if she was not freed within 24 hours, Goto and al-Kaseasbeh would be killed. At the time, Jordanian military officials noted that ISIS’ message did not specifically say al-Kaseasbeh would be freed in an exchange.

In the ISIS video, al-Kaseasbeh is only seen in a photograph held by Goto. Al-Kaseasbeh was also not present for a previous video that featured Goto and another Japanese hostage earlier this month.

Al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman, has been on death row in Jordan since she confessed to her role as a would-be suicide bomber in a string of al Qaeda attacks in Jordan in 2005 that killed dozens.

Prior to reports of Jordan’s willingness to accept the trade, Middle East expert Jon Alterman told ABC News that by asking for, and potentially gaining al-Rishawi’s release, ISIS is attempting to bolster its long-held goal of being seen as a proper nation-state on a geopolitical scale.

“What it represents is ISIS again trying to act like a real country. It’s a small group of outlaws trying to engage in governments,” Alterman, head of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Tuesday.

ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has publicly beheaded dozens of captives, including a handful of Western journalists and aid workers, sometimes after making demands of their governments.

The Japanese hostage Goto was not mentioned in statements made by Jordanian officials about a potential deal on Wednesday, despite reports that Japanese officials have been working closely with Jordan to find ways to free both hostages.

“Please save Kenji’s life,” Goto’s mother said in her own video, released Tuesday. “Kenji has only a little time left.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →