Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:47 pm
We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.
The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter. But the Japanese have been using even more butter for their Christmas cakes this year, exacerbating what was already a national butter shortage.
President Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people who were convicted of drug-related crimes Wednesday, in a move that also saw 12 presidential pardons issued, for offenses ranging from theft to running an illegal distillery.
Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Citing "unduly harsh sentences issued for drug offenses under an outdated sentencing regime," a White House official said Wednesday that all eight of those who were punished for drug offenses "would receive a substantially lower sentence today."
American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he lost five teeth, 100 pounds and much of the sight in his right eye. He could barely walk because of chronic pain and was, his wife Judy Gross said in June, "despondent and very hopeless" because he had 10 years to go in his sentence for crimes against the Cuban state. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.
There was a long pause, his spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said today in Washington, and then Gross said, "I'll believe it when I see it."
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:39 pm
A 44-year-old Northern White Rhino named Angalifu died this week at the San Diego Zoo of old age.
Now only five animals remain in this subspecies, all in captivity. Four are females. The one male lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
So it would seem the Northern White Rhino is doomed to extinction. Poachers are to blame — they've slain thousands of Northern White Rhinos to get their horns, which are hawked in Asia as a health tonic.
Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:56 pm
Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET
Sony Pictures has canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview,the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. The move came after the largest U.S. movie theater chains said they won't screen the film in the wake of threats against them by a group that also allegedly hacked Sony's internal documents.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:49 pm
Just months after he seized power in Cuba, Fidel Castro visited Washington in April 1959. He placed a wreath at the base of both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and was photographed looking up in seeming admiration of both U.S. presidents.