International airlines that fly to Russia have been warned about toothpaste tubes that could hold ingredients used in making bombs in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics. U.S. officials said terrorists may be trying to smuggle the explosives into Russia, noting that the bomb-making materials could be assembled in-flight or after arrival. Coming on the heels of deadly December bombings in Volgograd and gay rights controversies, this is just the latest issue facing Russian leaders as they try to clean up their image before tomorrow’s opening ceremony.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Sony is getting out of the personal computing game in anticipation of expected losses, cutting 5,000 jobs in both its TV and PC divisions. Its Vaio PC division is being sold to an investment fund, and the TV division will be split into an independent entity. The changes are expected to roll out over the next year, and they come in the face of expected losses as high as $1.1 billion for the fiscal year ending in March.
The U.S. has announced plans to phase out its controversial use of drones in Pakistan. The program will now only focus on a short list of high-level terrorists, and the U.S. aims to halt operation by the end of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s term in office. The downsizing coincides with the U.S. drawdown of forces from Afghanistan — the CIA relies on bases, personnel and drones in Afghanistan for its drone program. The announcement ends months of negotiations with the Pakistani government, but falls short of an immediate freeze.
The world’s largest Internet search company has agreed to give competitors space atop search results for queries related to services like hotels and rentals. The concession avoids billions in fines from the European Commission. When users search for a product, Google will now have to show the search results of three rivals in addition to the products of advertisers that pay Google for space. The deal reflects Google’s strategy of accommodation rather than litigation. But competitors aren’t satisfied, and say the EU has been duped.
Turkish parliament approves Internet control bill. (Al Jazeera).
Taliban and Pakistan talks reportedly begin. (BBC).
Fire kills several in South African mine. (Al Jazeera).
North Korea threatens to cancel reunions. (BBC).
Electronic ‘eyes’ can track your every move. (Washington Post).
A boy, 12, found the almost 5-foot-long sea dweller on a beach near his home. The new species of lion’s mane jellyfish is as scientifically remarkable for its features as for its size, one scientist says. And the discovery may link to environmental trends from global warming to overfishing to water pollution — it’s been a surprisingly robust year for jellyfish, prompting one scientist to wonder if we’ll soon be competing with the gelatinous of the sea for fish and other seafood.
Tonight show fans will bid farewell as Jay Leno passes the hosting baton to Jimmy Fallon. Star turns will include Billy Crystal, Leno’s first guest back in 1992, and musical favorite Garth Brooks. Leno’s finale is a subdued and unemotional farewell, capping a two-decade run atop the late-night comedy podium. While he may not be remembered for breaking new ground, Leno will always be remembered for proudly picking up Johnny Carson’s mantle and lifting it high for all these years.
European scientists have returned the sense of touch to a man by implanting electrodes into his nerves and connecting them to a prosthetic hand. Dennis Aabo Sorensen lost his left hand in a fireworks accident, but now he has become the first amputee in history to regain sensory feedback in real-time through a prosthetic limb. While blindfolded and listening to music, Sorensen was able to identify items placed in his prosthetic hand. It may be years before the technology is available more widely, but the successful experiment gives those hoping to regain their sense of touch a feel for future developments.
The popular social media site suffered in after-hours trading last night. Company stocks dropped as much as 18 percent. Twitter reported better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday, announcing $243 million in revenue. But shares fell sharply when the company also said it had 241 million users at the end of 2013, just nine million more than the previous quarter — prompting fears that the site’s popularity is beginning to wane. Twitter will now look inward at its design in a bid to reach new heights in the coming year.
American Idol’s most famous runner-up, Clay Aiken, wants to be a North Carolina Congressman. Aiken is an openly gay dad, and admittedly an underdog against the incumbent Republican in a GOP-leaning district. But that’s not stopping Aiken, who has appealed to voters for support in the Democratic primary by positioning himself as an outside contender planning to represent everyone in his district. With the support of Idol winner and friend Ruben Studdard, Clay clearly hopes star power and celebrity charisma will inspire votes.
Source: LA Times
U.S. Olympian and famed snowboarder Shaun White said he won’t take part in a new slopestyle competition at the Winter Olympics in Russia because he fears getting injured. White “jammed his wrist” during a trial run and decided to focus on his other Olympic goals, particularly snowboarding’s main event: the half-pipe, where he hopes to secure his third consecutive gold medal. Western journalists, meanwhile, are less than impressed with Sochi, tweeting about long-booked rooms being unavailable, lack of heating and other construction problems. Russian officials must be feeling snowed under in the run-up to tomorrow’s opening ceremony.