Review Category : Top Stories

Baby Echidna Makes a Recovery at Australian Zoo

Taronga Zoo(SYDNEY) — A baby echidna, after being seriously injured when a bulldozer dug up its burrow, is making an impressive recovery, according to the Taronga Zoo in Australia.

Zookeepers believe the echidna, also known as a puggle, was two months old at the time of its rescue. It needed weeks of antibiotic treatment and a temperature-controlled artificial burrow to sleep in, the zoo said in a statement.

Taronga Keeper Samantha Elton has had to feed the puggle from the palm of her hand so it can lap up the food as it would do in the wild. Echidnas don’t have teats like most mammals but patches on their abdomen that excrete milk.

Newman’s made a remarkable recovery at Taronga after being accidentally dug up by a bulldozer

— Taronga Zoo (@tarongazoo) April 16, 2015

The puggle has been named Newman after the Seinfeld character.

Elton, who has been serving as the surrogate mother for Newman, said in the statement that “it is still quite small for its age, but it has almost doubled in size since February and the wound has healed perfectly.”

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Gyrocopter Pilot Charged for Landing on US Capitol Grounds

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The man who flew what he called a “flying bicycle” through restricted airspace above the nation’s capital and landed near the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon.

Doug Hughes, 61, of Ruskin, Fla., walked in wearing his U.S. Postal uniform, looking tan. He also had to wear court earphones so he could hear (the earphones usually used by foreign-speaking defendants who need translations).

During the hearing, the judge read the charges against him — one count of knowingly operating an aircraft not properly registered and one count of violating national air defense space.

In total, he faces four years in prison, plus fines.

He rarely spoke, but at one point, saying his name in a gentle high voice, said, “Douglas Mark Hughes.”

But his peaceful demeanor changed briefly after the judge said she was going to release him on his own recognizance with a series of conditions: He must stay away from any type of aircraft, he must report to pretrial services in Tampa once a week and he must be confined to his home in Florida.

He showed worry when asking the judge: “Am I going to be able to work?”

That question was not answered publicly in court.

After the hearing, he was sent back into U.S. Marshals custody, but will be released at some point Thursday.

Hughes’ next court appearance in D.C. is scheduled for May 8.

Law enforcement sources said his stunt was intended to draw attention to the issue of campaign finance reform.

Hughes was arrested almost immediately after touching down on the West Front lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. Though the Secret Service had learned of Hughes’ general plan more than a year earlier, federal authorities insisted they had no reason to know he would actually carry out those plans Wednesday.

Hughes first came to the Secret Service’s attention in October 2013, after “a concerned citizen” told them “about an individual purporting their desire to land a single manned aircraft on the grounds of the United States Capitol or the White House,” the Secret Service said in a statement. Within days, Hughes was interviewed by the Secret Service, which then alerted the U.S. Capitol Police to his plans.

“A complete and thorough investigation was conducted,” the Secret Service said.

Nevertheless, more than a year later, Hughes was able to take off from Gettysburg, Pa., and land right beside one of the nation’s most recognized and targeted landmarks.

On a website purporting to be his, the author wrote early Wednesday: “There is no way I can prevent over-reaction by the authorities, but I have given them as much information and advance warning as my fuel supply allows. When I took off, I was over an hour away from the no-fly zone.”

In addition, in a video posted on the Tampa Bay Times website on Wednesday, Hughes promised he’s “going to land on the Capitol Mall.”

“I have got a plane, a gyro-plane, and I’m going to fly it. I’m going to violate the no-fly zone, non-violently,” Hughes said in the video.

Hughes had been contemplating his plot for more than two years, according to the newspaper.

“No sane person would do what I’m doing,” Hughes reportedly told the newspaper.

As Hughes and the gyrocopter approached, a call went out over the Capitol Police radio requesting as many long guns as possible to cover the incoming aircraft, a law enforcement source told ABC News. U.S. Capitol Police routinely carry M-4 rifles while on patrol.

Within seconds of that call, officers converged on the scene with guns drawn, ready to take a shot, ABC News was told. But no shots were fired.

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How Hillary Clinton Made Chipotle Manager Famous in Ohio for a Day

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(MAUMEE, Ohio) — His quotes are uninspiring: “She got great food.” “She was just another lady.” “We were trying to do our jobs.”

But somehow, abruptly, Charles Wright has become the most influential guy in Ohio politics.

Wright, the 29-year-old manager of the Maumee, Ohio, Chipotle where Hillary Clinton made an incognito pit stop earlier this week, didn’t realize his staff was serving a presidential contender until a horde of reporters called the restaurant to confirm. Since then, he’s been bombarded by media requests.

His limited insight was gleaned mostly from security footage: Clinton was wearing sunglasses and ordered a chicken burrito bowl with guac, along with a blackberry Izzy drink.

Nevertheless, the press made much of his revelations. The Wall Street Journal surveyed the “gastronomical symbolism” of the venue and suggested Taco Bell would have been “more electorally savvy.” The New York Times, meanwhile, analyzed the burrito bowl’s caloric content and deemed it “above average.” (The Times reporter did acknowledge there were probably more important things worthy of contemplation.)

But one of Wright’s seemingly offhand comments might actually hurt the 2016 hopeful: Clinton didn’t tip.

“Her bill was $20 and some change, and they paid with $21 and left” after pocketing the change, Wright told Bloomberg.

(For those unfamiliar with the buffet-style burrito joint: There’s a tip jar near the cash register. Some tip, some don’t.)

Some Chipotle employees make just 10 cents above Ohio minimum wage — $8.20, instead of $8.10, according to Politico. For someone who’s been criticized for being out of touch, this oversight might not play so well for Clinton.

In any case, “it’s really nobody’s business,” Wright said, “if somebody leaves a tip or they don’t.”

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How Our Netflix Viewing May Be Leading It to ‘World Dominance’

Netflix(NEW YORK) — Netflix has not only taken over one in three households with its old and new video offerings, but it’s on the road to world domination, literally.

The company announced Wednesday it reached 40 million subscriptions in the United States at the end of March, or a third of the nearly 116 million households, according to the U.S. Census. The company already has reached nearly 50 percent of U.S. broadband subscribers. That’s not including the 20 million subscribers it now has outside the United States.

“Netflix has about 15 percent of Internet subscribers and they’re on the path to world dominance in the next two years, where they will essentially be in every country,” said Michael Olson, a Piper Jaffray & Co. senior research analyst.

If the company reaches 60 percent of U.S. Internet subscribers by 2020 and 10 percent of the international market, Netflix will have 135 million subscribers total, according to Olson’s estimates.

Neil Macker, analyst with Morningstar, said subscribers, who are no longer waiting to watch or record their favorite shows from their television sets, are logging those viewing hours for Netflix’s original content and liking it. Netflix’s management said original content is more efficient on a dollar-per-viewing-hour basis, and proprietary content generates more viewing hours, which drives retention, Macker notes.

But Netflix subscribers sure do like their old shows, especially globally. Macker notes that licensed content increased viewing hours, especially outside the United States.

“Even older series such as ‘Friends’ helped increase viewing hours to 10 billion in the quarter, up from 4 billion two years ago,” Macker wrote in a research note Thursday morning.

Netflix will do its best to keep customers happy, and avoid a purge like that of 2011. That’s when the company lost 800,000 subscribers with news of a price hike and spinoff plans that collapsed.

Could that mean few changes? Many investors, after all, are more focused on Netflix’s number of subscribers than the company’s profitability and revenue, Olson said, which beat expectations anyway.

“I think there will be less marketing in the U.S., because awareness is so high and what it can offer,” Olson said, adding that international marketing will increase.

Netflix is even outdoing itself, having added 4.9 million new members globally in its first quarter, outpacing its own forecast of 4.1 million, and the prior year’s four million in the same period. While U.S. customers are fueling subscriptions now, the future lies with the company’s global expansion, Olson said.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, added New Zealand and Australia to its roster at the end of the quarter, which helped boost its numbers beyond Wall Street expectations, Olson said. And in the second-half of this year, Netflix will be available in Japan.

“There’s a lot of expense coming with this worldwide rollout, but there’s a lot of potential long-term growth for them,” Olson said.

Macker writes that the popularity of two recent series — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Marvel’s Daredevil — “bodes well for the ventures beyond drama such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.

“The strong start for Daredevil should help build interest for the other series focused on lesser-known characters,” he said.

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NASA’s MESSENGER Probe Prepares for Collision with Mercury

NASA(NEW YORK) — NASA’s MESSENGER probe will run out of fuel and smash into the surface of Mercury, creating a new crater on the surface of the planet closest to the sun.

The collision is expected to happen sometime near the end of April, marking the end of the decade-old MESSENGER mission. NASA expects the probe will hit Mercury at a speed of around 9,000 mph.

“Messenger is going to create a new crater on Mercury sometime in the near future,” John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator, said Thursday in a video conference.

MESSENGER recently completed its 4,065th orbit and has about 40 left before NASA expects the spacecraft to run out of fuel and crash into the planet nearest the sun.

Launching in 2004, MESSENGER traveled nearly 5 billion miles on a route that included 15 trips around the sun, whizzing past Earth once, Venus twice and Mercury three times.

It began orbiting Mercury in 2011 and has since been collecting data about the planet to send back to Earth.

Among MESSENGER’s discoveries about the planet are hollows on its surface, evidence of volcanism and polar deposits of water ice.

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Secrets Revealed

LucasFilm(ANAHEIM, Calif.) — Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy spoke Thursday at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, and spilled a few secrets about their December movie that has fans waiting with bated breath.

After explaining that Abrams wanted to build out the set as much as possible and make them as real as possible, the director said, “We needed a standard … that people were [really] in those places.”

He added that there would obviously be an endless number of special effects, but that he’s watched the film and it still looks great pre-effects.

Abrams also revealed that those shots of actors in the desert were not of Tatooine, but a “new planet.”

That got the audience shocked, but Abrams refused to spill any more details about this new, “hot” planet.

Abrams also introduced the mysterious new main character including Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron, John Boyega who plays Finn, and Daisy Ridley who plays Rey — who all showed up to the event.

“We discover Rey on a new desert planet Jakku, she is a scavenger and completely self sufficient … until she meets another character and an adventure begins,” Ridley said, alluding to Boyega’s character.

Boyega, who is seen in the trailer as a possible storm trooper said his character is in incredible danger and the way he reacts changes his life forever. He joked that he is in fact a trooper, but looked to be laughing, so he may have been kidding.

Isaac said his character, seen previously as a pilot, is “the best friggin pilot in the galaxy.”

“He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess and he ends up coming across Mr. John Boyega’s character and their fates are forever intertwined,” Isaac added.

Watch more as Abrams promised to reveal “lots more” later in the panel:

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E-Cigarette Use Triples in Adolescents, CDC Says

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The number of middle and high school students who say they’ve used e-cigarettes has tripled in just one year, according to new research that underscores health experts’ fears about the growing popularity of these nicotine delivery devices among adolescents.

About 660,000 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2013, but in 2014, that number increased to about two million, according to a study published Thursday as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

And in middle school students, that number went from 120,000 to 450,000, the report said.

“This level of increase in such a short time period is alarming and unprecedented,” study co-author Dr. Brian King told ABC News.

King is the deputy director of research translation for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

“There is currently a wild, wild west in the manufacturing of e-cigarettes, with no standard for the manufacturing, sale or distribution of these products,” he said.

King, along with researchers at the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, drew their conclusions by analyzing data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which is administered annually to middle and high school students across the country.

They also found that between 2011 and 2014, one in four high school students and one in 13 middle school students used a “tobacco product,” which includes e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars and hookahs, the authors wrote. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used, they said.

The popularity of e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry and these devices are now the most commonly used nicotine product among middle and high schoolers, according to King’s study.

E-cigarettes work by vaporizing liquid nicotine into an inhalable form. The liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes still contains carcinogenic materials, but in lower amounts than cigarettes, according to a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal.

No federal restriction of e-cigarette sales to minors currently exists. The FDA proposed a rule last year which would open the door to such regulation, but this rule has not been finalized. Currently, there are eight states that still permit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

In response to Thursday’s CDC report, Thomas Kiklas, of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said the e-cigarette industry supports restricting minors’ access to the devices. Kiklas further noted that “there are no sales or marketing of products to minors of any tobacco products.”

The products have, however, enjoyed advertisement on television and radio, as well as celebrity endorsements — a fact that Dr. Edwin Salsitz, a chemical dependency expert at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, said may be responsible for the growing popularity among adolescents.

“Becoming physically dependent on nicotine is not benign for anyone but certainly not benign for an adolescent developing brain,” Salsitz said.

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Baggage Handler Made 911 Call After He Was Stuck in Cargo Hold

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The baggage handler who allegedly fell asleep inside the cargo hold and woke up only after the plane was in the air apparently called 911 begging for the dispatcher to stop the plane.

A recording of the call has now been released and the handler, whose name has not been made public, can be heard making a desperate plea for help.

“Hello, I’m trapped in this plane!” the man says to the 911 operator on Monday.

“I’m inside a plane I feel like its moving in the air,” he added.

The operator asks for clarification, checking if he is in distress in the airport — but he reiterates that he is physically inside the airplane.

He goes on to give the flight number for the Alaska Airlines flight that he believes he is on board.

“Can you please, can somebody stop it?” he is heard saying.

The emergency services call was not actually the key to getting him rescued but it was passengers on board who notified the crew after they heard banging and screams coming from beneath them.

The flight, which departed out of Seattle and was headed to Los Angeles, turned around and spent only 14 minutes in the air.

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No Sharp Increases Expected for Gas Prices, Energy Director Says

iStock/Thinktock(WASHINGTON) — As Americans prepare to hit the roads this summer, some good news about fuel prices came out of a Senate Energy meeting in Washington Thursday.

Testifying before the Senate Energy Committee, Energy Administration Director Adam Sieminski said lower oil prices has meant lower prices at the pump. But, he added, drivers shouldn’t expect gas prices to go up that sharply in the coming months.

“The U.S. average regular gasoline prices at the retail level, about $2.50 now, are expected to remain near that level through the summer,” he said Thursday.

Sieminski said we can look for prices to move closer to $2.75 per gallon in the next year.

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Sen. Pat Robert’s “Frozen” Ringtone Interrupts Senate Hearing

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — During a Senate Finance Committee hearing about Congress and U.S. Tariff Policy Thursday, Sen. Pat Roberts’ cellphone interrupted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack while he was speaking.

And it wasn’t any ordinary ringtone that rang through the committee room. It was Disney’s hit song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.

“Aw, come on,” Roberts, R-Kan., said as the tune rang out from his cellphone.

“Just let it go mister,” Roberts joked to laughs from the committee room. “Sorry about that.”

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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