Review Category : Top Stories

Tony Stewart Says Return to Racetrack Will Help Him Heal

Jamie Squire/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — NASCAR driver Tony Stewart made an emotional return into the spotlight Friday as he explained that he sees his return to the race track nearly three weeks after fatally hitting another driver as a necessary part of the healing process.

“This has been one of the toughest tragedies that I’ve ever had to deal with… both professional and personally, and this is something that will definitely affect my life forever,” Stewart said at a news conference.

Stewart hit fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. when Ward got out of his car during a race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York earlier this month. Footage of the incident appears to show that Ward may have been trying to confront Stewart and he was seen gesturing at Stewart’s car just moments before it ran into him.

“This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience in their life,” Stewart said. “That being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and his friends are experiencing, is something I can’t possibly imagine.”

“I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and to cope with the accident my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted.”

The news conference came ahead of Stewart’s return to the racetrack this Sunday as he is scheduled to compete in the ORAL-B USA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I miss my team, my teammates, and I miss being back in the race car. And I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time,” he said.

Stewart refused to take questions, saying that he was not emotionally ready at this time, but gave his condolences to each member of Ward’s family, listing the 20-year-old’s relatives by name in his statement.

In spite of that personal connection, it was confirmed later that Stewart has not spoken to any of Ward’s relatives directly. Brett Frood, the executive vice president of Stewart-Haas racing, said after Stewart left the press conference that the driver had sent flowers and a note to Ward’s relatives around the time of the memorial services but had not spoken with them.

The investigation into the fatal August 9 incident remains open, though no charges have been filed. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said earlier this month that they did not find any evidence of criminal behavior in their initial investigation.

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Whiskey Particles Stored on ISS Headed for Earth

NASA(NEW YORK) — A Scottish distillery that enlisted the help of astronauts to develop whiskey particles on the International Space Station is now preparing for touchdown.

Ardbeg, a whiskey distillery in Scotland, partnered with a Houston-based space research company to launch some micro-compounds of their liquor into outer space in 2011.

According to the distillery’s website, 20 vials of the unmatured whiskey particles were sent along with pieces of charred oak that they were treated with when they arrived at the International Space Station. The vials only contained microbes that will later be used to brew whiskey, rather than the liquor itself.

“This is indeed a research program to help us understand terpenes, which are the building blocks for flavorings, paints and yes, whiskey — so to us, this is a very solid research project for a consumer-based company,” Jeffrey Manber, the CEO of Houston-based company NanoRocks, told ABC News. “NASA approved the project since terpenes have never been grown in zero-gravity conditions.”

If a difference is noted between the vials kept in zero gravity as compared to those in “control” vials in Scotland, the implications could lead well out of the liquor cabinet.

“The absence of gravity may well create a new generation of consumer products and help us understand materials, biologicals and products that are right here on Earth,” Manber said.

Once the out-of-this-world particles return to Earth — they are expected to land in Kazakhstan on Sept. 12 — the vials will be shipped to Texas, where they will be compared to similar vials made in Scotland in 2011 to test what effect gravity had on the maturation process.

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Britain Raises Terror Threat Level to ‘Severe’

Bethany Clarke – WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) — The British government Friday raised the threat level for international terrorism to “severe,” indicating a terrorist attack is “highly likely” but based on intelligence not necessarily “imminent.”

U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May released a statement Friday saying the increased threat is “related to events in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West, and that some of those attacks are likely to involve fighters who have travelled from the U.K.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said it was the first time in three years the threat has been raised to such a level in the U.K.

“What we’re facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before,” Cameron said in an address to the nation, noting that the terrorist group, also known as ISIS for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has recruited hundreds of British citizens to its ranks.

Western security officials have been concerned for months that ISIS recruits with Western passports could travel to Syria and Iraq and then return home with deadly skills to wreak havoc.

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Hotel Guests Regularly Socked with Extra Fees

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just when you were getting used to the idea of the airlines charging you extra for things that used to be included in the price of a ticket comes a report about the U.S. hotel industry that is bound to raise more hackles.

NYU professor Bjorn Hanson says that hotels managed to collect over $2 billion from fees and surcharges alone in 2013 and this year they’ll make an even bigger profit.

Hotel guests are regularly socked with resort or amenity fees, early departure fees and early reservation cancellation fees.

In some instances, guests pay for the safe in their rooms that they don’t even use. And of course, there’s the added cost of restocking the minibar.

Just like the airline industry, hotels seem reluctant to raise their prices to reflect market value, which Hanson said would actually eliminate the need for fees.

However, customers seem more willing to put up with the surcharges than pay a little extra for a room even if it costs them more money in the long run.

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Bud Light Donates $500K to Descend on Town, Council Approves

Anheuser-Busch(CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.) — One small mountain town in Colorado is apparently “up for whatever.”

The town council in Crested Butte, Colorado, approved a special permit allowing Bud Light to take over the town for a three-day event “of unexpected fun,” ABC affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reported Thursday.

Bud Light, one of Anheuser-Busch’s beer brands, doubled its original donation for the town to $500,000. The event will turn the town into a fictitious one: Whatever, USA.

“Ever since we were first approached by Bud Light earlier this summer, we’ve been impressed with the creativity and level of detail they’ve put into the planning process for Whatever, USA,” Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep said in a statement released by the beer brand. “This is going to be an incredible event for our community that will help bring the beauty of Crested Butte to 1,000 new visitors.”

Crested Butte was selected because of “its breathtaking natural beauty and colorful cast of characters,” according to a statement from Bud Light.

The plan had its critics. One resident, former Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth, called the originally proposed $250,000 donation a “paltry and insulting sum.”

“My own view is that this is truly an inappropriate function for a town that has built its reputation so carefully,” Wirth told ABC News. “It should cost them a pretty penny and they won’t even notice it.”

Bud Light’s “UpForWhatever” ad campaign began during the Super Bowl, in which random people on the street, seemingly between the ages of 21 and 35, are whisked off to celebrity-laden adventures. In Bud Light commercials for the town of Whatever, USA, there’s a fake, bearded mayor.

For this specific campaign in Colorado, the company will select 1,000 Bud Light fans across the United States who auditioned with a 10-second video explaining why they should be flown into Whatever, USA. Winners will be notified 48 hours before the trip.

The audition deadline is next Thursday and more than 150,000 people have applied so far.

The proposed plans include street performers, a parade, music, dancing, closing off the local Big Mine Ice Arena and, of course, lots of Bud Light.

“There are a lot of different opinions in the town,” town manager Ted Crossett said. “There are a lot of people who support it and a lot of people who do not for a variety of reasons.”

Crossett’s staff report about the weekend describes some of the activities, including “stumble upon events, which are low impact activities such as games, low-key races and curiosities. Most would be open to the public.”

“Some would be closed to contestants. Activities would take place on both the street and in private businesses,” the Aug. 23 report states.

Prior to the approval, Wirth said the town council has “allowed themselves to be put into this dreadful corner” that has divided the town. He proposed Bud Light pay $10 million to host the event.

David Ochs, executive director at the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, argued that the event will bring an unknown amount of extra cash to local businesses and the town coffers, as the high tourist summer season comes to an end.

“Keep locals working, keep paychecks coming and keep everything rolling,” he said. “Bud Light has been very good in incorporating retail businesses into the event, but the real benefit might be in the long term: the exposure and marketing of it is what they will see and want to come back to Crested Butte, and that’s our bread and butter.”

Kevin McGruther, a town resident of 18 years, attended the most recent hearing about the proposed event Monday. He said he wasn’t arguing for or against the event, but pointed to the local government’s failure to adhere to its typical town-event application process.

“The issue is the transparency, the preemption of the process and disenfranchisement of the community,” he told ABC News.

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Papua New Guinea’s Tavurvur Volcano Erupts; Locals Evacuate, Flights Disrupted

iStock/Thinkstock(CANBERRA, Australia) — Papua New Guinea’s Tavurvur volcano spewed smoke and volcanic ash into the air Friday, with residents in the South Pacific nation evacuated and flights disrupted.

Communities near the volcano were evacuated, while residents of the town of Rabaul were advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash, according to a statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Australia’s Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre issued an advisory due to the eruption. Authorities there are making sure that air travel in the region is safe. Qantas flights in the area are taking special care to avoid the volcanic cloud.

Tavurvur most recently erupted last year.

Friday’s activity – which occurred on the eastern tip of the country’s New Britain island – offered tourists amazing views of the volcanic activity.

The volcano has erupted numerous times in recent years, destroying the town of Rabaul in 1994 when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan.

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Papua New Guinea’s Tavurvur Volcano Erupts; Locals Evacuate, Flights Disrupted

iStock/Thinkstock(CANBERRA, Australia) — Papua New Guinea’s Tavurvur volcano spewed smoke and volcanic ash into the air Friday, with residents in the South Pacific nation evacuated and flights disrupted.

Communities near the volcano were evacuated, while residents of the town of Rabaul were advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash, according to a statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Australia’s Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre issued an advisory due to the eruption. Authorities there are making sure that air travel in the region is safe. Qantas flights in the area are taking special care to avoid the volcanic cloud.

Tavurvur most recently erupted last year.

Friday’s activity – which occurred on the eastern tip of the country’s New Britain island – offered tourists amazing views of the volcanic activity.

The volcano has erupted numerous times in recent years, destroying the town of Rabaul in 1994 when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan.

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Google Working to Develop Drone Delivery Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Google is working to develop its own drone delivery program, called Project Wing.

In a video posted to YouTube by the company, Google says it tested the system in Queensland, Australia, and “successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water” to Australian farmers. The project is still early on in development.

The company states that it anticipates the potential to transport goods “more quickly, safely and efficiently.” It is also looking for “partners who can help [them] bring this technology to the world safely.”

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Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOLUHRAUN, Iceland) — A volcanic eruption in northern Iceland began early Friday morning local time, prompting airspace closure of much of the area.

According to the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, the fissure from which the eruption occurred is about 300 meters long. There has not yet been any detection of volcanic ash, and the seismic data seems to indicate that the eruption is effusive, and not explosive.

Still, the Icelandic Air Traffic Control closed down airspace from the earth up to 18,000 feet within the area around the eruption site.

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Google Working to Develop Drone Delivery Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Google is working to develop its own drone delivery program, called Project Wing.

In a video posted to YouTube by the company, Google says it tested the system in Queensland, Australia, and “successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water” to Australian farmers. The project is still early on in development.

The company states that it anticipates the potential to transport goods “more quickly, safely and efficiently.” It is also looking for “partners who can help [them] bring this technology to the world safely.”

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