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01 Jul 17:23

Photos: World Police & Fire Games

by Omama Altaleb

WASHINGTON — Professional public safety athletes are competing against one another at the World Police & Fire Games, one of the largest sporting events in the world featuring 12,000 athletes from 70 countries.

For a guide of all the dates and locations for each event, click here.

The post Photos: World Police & Fire Games appeared first on WTOP.

30 Jun 19:22

HFF secures $33.75 million refinancing for Manassas shopping center - Virginia Business Magazine

Virginia Business Magazine

HFF secures $33.75 million refinancing for Manassas shopping center
Virginia Business Magazine
Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. (HFF) said Tuesday that it has secured $33.7 million in refinancing for Davis Ford Crossing, a 152,391-square-foot neighborhood shopping center with multiple national anchors in Manassas. HFF worked on behalf of the ...

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01 Jul 14:49

Manassas City leaders like Georgetown South parking district -

Manassas City leaders like Georgetown South parking district
Georgetown South has a unique set of rules that govern who can park in the Manassas neighborhood. For the past 20 years, visitors and guests of neighborhood residents have been required to obtain a special parking pass from the Manassas treasurer's ...

01 Jul 20:55

What You Should Know About Rent-To-Own Retail Models: Extra Costs, High Interest Rates

by Ashlee Kieler

Rent-to-own stores offer cash-strapped consumers the ability to take home a new refrigerator, living room furniture set and hundred of other items by allowing them to pay a little each month. But, as we’ve reported in the past, what seems like a convenient years-long payment plan often adds hundreds – even thousands – of dollars to the price tag of a product. To ensure potential customers of rent-to-own stores know what they’re getting into, our colleagues at Consumer Reports put together a helpful video spelling out the potential dangers of such retail models.

The video warning is the result of CR’s review of several offers from the nation’s two largest rent-to-own stores – Aaron’s and Rent-A-Center – that found some of the monthly payment plans could cost customers hundreds of dollars more than they would spend purchasing the product outright.

“If these were loans, the equivalent interest rate would be between 50% and 150%,” Mandy Walker, money editor for Consumer Reports says in the video. “There’s lots of fine print in the ads and in contracts, and many consumers just don’t realize the full cost.”

That was the case for a Georgia woman who purchased a washer and dryer set from a local Aaron’s store.

The woman says she signed a 24-month lease that included an option to buy the appliances at the listed cash price within 120 days.

She tells CR that she had the funds available, but when she went to the store to pay, an employee told her she’d missed the deadline.

That left her on the hook for the entire 24-month lease, which would total $3,671 – twice the amount she would pay at a big box store, CR reports.

A representative for the industry’s Association of Progressive Rental Organizations tells CR that such companies offer the “only debt-free transaction that allows the customer to return the product at any time for any reason without legal penalty and affecting the consumer’s credit.”

But returning the washer and dryer set wasn’t an option for the Aaron’s customer, as she’d already paid more than $2,000 for the appliances.

CR advises potential rent-to-own customers to read contracts carefully and make sure they can afford to make on-time payments.

“Better yet, save up your money and pay up front,” Walker says.

CR reports that the Georgia woman’s story ends on a bit of a happier note. After the organization publicized her ordeal, Aaron’s forgave her the last four months of the lease and sent a letter telling her she owned the appliances outright.

The company even sent along a coupon for 50% off the first payment of her next purchase at the store, a deal she says she won’t be using.

01 Jul 20:11

If You Buy The Stuff No One Else Likes, You Just May Be A “Harbinger Of Failure”

by Mary Beth Quirk

If you’re still crying into your pillow at night over the demise of the Zune MP3 player or Crystal Pepsi, take a long, hard look into the mirror: Your shopping habits might have foretold the doom of your favorite, discontinued products. At least, according to a group of researchers pointing the finger at certain early adopters.

In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified particular kinds of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will flop, calling those folks “harbingers of failure,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

“Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”

Researchers looked at retail purchases made by about 130,000 consumers at a national convenience store chain, and found that 13% of them had buying habits that predicted failure of a new product. Failure in this case means surviving less than three years. About half or more of the products they bought were doomed to die before they had a chance to make it big.

This means if you’re the kind of person who liked the Zune, you probably also liked Frito Lay Lemonade, which apparently was a thing.

And “the more they buy, the less likely the product will succeed,” the researchers wrote.

This is because harbingers of failure are more likely to consistently buy things that other customers won’t, for whatever reason. Maybe they like to be different, or maybe they just have a soft spot for the things no one else likes.

For companies, this means that they’d need to be careful not to just focus on how many people are buying a new product, but who it is that’s doing the buying. If you’ve got a boatload of these harbingers of failure on board, your ship is sure to sink.

There’s a reason all your favorite products are always being discontinued [Chicago Tribune]

01 Jul 19:51

No, New York Times, No One Wants To Put Peas In Their Guacamole

by Mary Beth Quirk

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 3.44.23 PMThe Twitter account for the New York Times learned a very important lesson today: Avocados are sacred, and as such, guacamole should not be despoiled by the likes of the pea, a food reviled by any kid ever forced to finish their vegetables before they could leave the table. Any suggestion otherwise is outright HERESY, according to the denizens of the Internet. The responses are numerous, the ire is intense, and discontent reigns. [@NYTimes]

01 Jul 20:54

7-Eleven Testing Delivery Service Because Fetching Your Own Microwaved Burritos Is So 2014

by Mary Beth Quirk

Sometimes the Slurpee machine is just… too… far… away. Am I right? Sure, because otherwise why would 7-Eleven be testing a delivery service? Yes, that is a thing that is happening, as we have become a people who can’t even be bothered to microwave our own burritos.

The company announced the news today in a press release, saying the new service is a partnership with Postmates, a technology business out of San Francisco that also teamed up with Chipotle recently to offer delivery in some cities.

Select stores in San Francisco and Oakland, CA will have the on-demand delivery service starting now through Postmate’s app for iOS devices or online, with a variety of 7-Eleven products available. From the sound of it, that could include Slurpees and burritos (though it’s unclear), as an assortment of items “from hot foods and snacks to cold beverages and other convenience items” are on the table.

Deliveries will arrive in an hour or less, 7-Eleven says.

“7‑Eleven’s founder, Joe C. Thompson Jr., used to say 7‑Eleven’s mission was to ‘give customers what they want, when and where they want it’,” said Raja Doddala, 7‑Eleven’s vice president of innovation and omnichannel strategy in the press release. “Through the modern-day technology that Postmates provides, we can fulfill that promise in a way we haven’t done before.”

Doddala adds that the company plans to expand delivery later this year to other areas with a high density of 7-Eleven stores, including Austin, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

You might just never leave your couch again. Well, if you have a butler. Because someone’s got to answer the door or the Slurpees will melt.

29 Jun 16:28

Comcast’s New Remote Control Now Advertises Comcast-Distributed Kids Movie

by Chris Morran

minionsremoteHey kids, isn’t vertical integration awesome? Thanks to Comcast’s acquisition of NBC/Universal, the cable giant can now use its latest high-tech remote control to advertise its feature films directly to your living room! Let’s all cheer for cross-promotional, cross-platform, market-targeted, gibberish-spouting synergy!!

Last week, Comcast boasted on its corporate blog that users of its new voice-enabled remote controls could speak “Minionese,” the hilariously family friendly and profitable language spoken by the Minions in the upcoming film release The Minions, distributed by Universal.

Say something in Minionese into the remote and it speaks back to you in Minionese, along with taking you to various pieces of content curated by Comcast to promote The Minions, opening July 10 in a theater full of kids you’ll want to avoid if you enjoy your sanity.

The idea of turning your remote control — for which Comcast customers pay a pretty penny each month — into a de facto toy that is then being used to advertise a movie with a kid-centric audience didn’t exactly win over Josh Golin, Associate Director at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

“It’s extremely disappointing that Comcast is already using its voice-enabled remotes to manipulate kids,” Golin tells Consumerist. “Young children, the film’s target audience, won’t understand that this is just a ploy to get them to want to see the movie and buy Minions merchandise. It’s bad enough to target young children with clearly delineated commercials, but to use technology to wow kids and mask the fact that you are, in fact, advertising is deceptive, unfair, and unethical.”


29 Jun 19:30

Now Available At Petco: One Long-Tailed Grass Lizard Skeleton For Only $9.99

by Mary Beth Quirk



Are you in the market for a new pet, one that doesn’t require much maintenance or care? Or perhaps, one that requires absolutely nothing from you? You’re in luck: One Petco appears to have a long tailed grass lizard skeleton available in its store tank, for the low price of just $9.99.

Consumerist reader Holly pointed us to a recent Reddit post titled, “We clean our cages regularly,” with a link to a series of photos apparently snapped at a Texas Petco.

If you’re not looking closely enough, you might just think it’s an empty tank, devoid of any pets. That can surely happen when someone buys a pet and the store hasn’t moved a new inmate in yet.

But further inspection reveals the skeleton of a small lizard, ostensibly the Long Tailed Grass Lizard on the tank’s sign. That same sign includes helpful instructions that might’ve helped the store’s animal handlers, things like feeding the lizard and making sure it has enough water. The sign also promises a pet that is “quick and active,” which we’re sure these lizards are… when they’re alive.

One commenter who claims to have worked for the company in another location in Texas points out that this particular store has a bad reputation, and that this kind of thing “is NOT standard” for other stores in the area.

We’ve reached out to Petco corporate to ask how this kind of thing could happen, if it’s investigating this particular incident (as this could all be part of an elaborate hoax), and what company policy is on displaying animals for sale that have clearly been dead long enough to decompose to a skeletal state. We’ll let you know when and if we receive a reply.

26 Jun 20:15

Disney to ban selfie sticks at all of its theme parks worldwide

by Sam Machkovech

Next week, a new item will join Disney theme parks' list of items that can't be taken in by patrons: selfie sticks. The rule will expand upon the parks' previous restrictions on selfie stick use.

An apparent leaked internal e-mail, sent to Disney theme park employees on Friday, clarified that the ban would go into effect on June 30 for all American Disney theme parks; Disney's Paris and Hong Kong parks will follow suit on July 1. The instructions included rules for both door bag screeners and general staff to make patrons check any discovered sticks at a "guest relations" station.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

29 Jun 01:34

Child dies after racing boat crashes into onlookers in Md.

by wtopstaff

GRASONVILLE, Md. (AP) — Police say a child has died and at least seven other people were injured when a racing boat lost control and crashed into a crowd of onlookers off Kent Island.

The Capital Gazette ( ) reports that Maryland Natural Resources police spokeswoman Candy Thomson says a 7-year-old died. Three victims were taken to a trauma center following the collision Sunday afternoon in the Chesapeake Bay. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

The crash occurred during the Thunder on the Narrows race at the Kent Narrows. Thomson says the operator of the boat lost control and struck onlookers who were gathered on spectator boats that were sitting next to each other along the race course.

Thomson says the incident is unrelated to another capsized boat on the other side of Kent Island Sunday afternoon. One boater was missing following that incident.

The post Child dies after racing boat crashes into onlookers in Md. appeared first on WTOP.

29 Jun 01:10

Several Leesburg residents call for removal of Confederate soldier statue - WJLA

Several Leesburg residents call for removal of Confederate soldier statue
LEESBURG, Va. (WJLA) - In the wake of the Charleston, S.C. mass-shooting, some residents are calling for the removal of a statue in front of the courthouse in historic downtown Leesburg. Continue reading. The 12-foot statue is of a lone rebel soldier ...

27 Jun 21:30

Police say body discovered in Fairfax County pond

by wtopstaff

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Fairfax County officials have pulled a body out of a pond and are investigating what may have caused the death.

Police say the body was discovered Saturday in a pond near South Van Dorn Street near Kingstown Village Boulevard. Police say the body appeared to be an adult male.

Investigators say there were no obvious signs of trauma to the body. They are working to determine the identity.

The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death.

The post Police say body discovered in Fairfax County pond appeared first on WTOP.

27 Jun 22:12

Investigators say Mount Airy man drove car into pool, died

by wtopstaff

MOUNT AIRY, Md. (AP) — Carroll County authorities are investigating after a man apparently drove his car into a swimming pool in Mount Airy and died.

The county sheriff’s office says officers were notified Friday evening. Investigators say Marvel Freund was submerged in the pool inside his vehicle but was pulled out by family members and neighbors.

Freund was pronounced dead later by paramedics.

Investigators say it appears the victim drove his vehicle through a garage and into his house. When backing up his vehicle, investigators believe he accidentally went into the pool.

The post Investigators say Mount Airy man drove car into pool, died appeared first on WTOP.

27 Jun 22:34

Mother, child electrocuted in flooded area of Md. home

by wtopstaff

CHEVY CHASE, Md. — A mother and child were taken to a hospital after being shocked by electricity in a flooded area of their Montgomery County home.

Rescuers responded to a report of several people being shocked Saturday in the Chevy Chase area.

Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says one mother and one child were taken to a hospital. He later Tweeted that both the adult and child were electrocuted.

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police – Major Crimes Division are investigating the  two possible weather-related deaths that occurred Saturday afternoon.

According to a released statement, at approximately 4:26 p.m.,  Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel responded to a residence in the 8800 block of Connecticut Avenue near Jones Bridge Road for a report of an electrocution.

The preliminary investigation revealed that a 29-year-old female and her 4-year-old daughter were found unresponsive outside of the home in the stairwell leading to the basement. They were each transported to separate trauma centers where they succumbed to their injuries.

Investigators found a portable sump pump in the standing water near the victims. Detectives are looking at the possibility that the water was charged and an electrical surge contributed to the victims’ deaths.

Many areas of Montgomery County experienced flooding due to the heavy rain fall throughout the day.

This incident remains under investigation, however, no foul-play is suspected at this time, the statement reads.

ICYMI(430p) 8806 Connecticut Av, flooded condition, water energized & shocked 1adult & 1child, both electrocuted, 1 FF inj, PD investigating — Pete Piringer (@mcfrsPIO) June 28, 2015

Detectives Investigate Two Possible Weather-Related Deaths in Chevy Chase

— Montgomery Co Police (@mcpnews) June 28, 2015



The post Mother, child electrocuted in flooded area of Md. home appeared first on WTOP.

26 Jun 13:39

Photos: Take Your Dog to Work Day

by wtopstaff

WASHINGTON — Friday, June 26, is Take Your Dog to Work Day, a brainchild of Pet Sitters International. We asked for photos from people (and dogs) who were taking part.

If you’ve brought your dog to work, take a picture and tweet it to us with #WTOP.

The post Photos: Take Your Dog to Work Day appeared first on WTOP.

27 Jun 02:08

From China’s dog meat industry to life as a companion animal

by Kate Ryan

Editor’s Note: The following video may be difficult to view and watch… WASHINGTON — The video made by the Humane Society International is hard to watch; dogs crammed into cages are prepared for the meat market as part of an annual dog meat festival in Yulin, China. Suddenly, one black and white dog is plucked from the cage with metal tongs, and his panicked cries pierce the air.

But instead of being headed to slaughter, “Little Ricky” has a different, and much brighter future ahead. Friday afternoon, he arrived at the Washington Animal Rescue League in Northwest Washington,  D.C.,  where he’s being evaluated and prepared for adoption.

Adam Parascandola, Director of Animal Protection and Crisis Response at HSI, says his colleague, Dr. Peter Li, first encountered “Little Ricky” in a slaughterhouse. “And in the slaughterhouse was  a large pen with quite a large number of dogs,” Parascandola says adding,  the little dog approached Li and kept nudging Li’s hand with his nose and Li decided right then and there he just couldn’t leave the dog behind.

— Kate Ryan (@KateRyanWTOP) June 26, 2015

Yulin’s dog meat festival has been criticized worldwide, and Parascandola says HSI wants to spotlight the treatment of the animals in the dog meat trade. Parascandola was asked about the cultural bias that seems evident: many westerners don’t think twice about eating lamb or veal, but are horrified by the notion of consuming canines.  Parascandola doesn’t dwell on the practice of eating dog meat,  but on what happens before the dogs reach the market.  “Whether you’re a vegan, a vegetarian or meat eater, it’s about being as humane as possible” and whether chickens, pigs,  cows or dogs are involved, he says.

Parascandola adds that “in Yulin, there’s an incredible amount of brutality” in the dog meat trade, and that’s where HSI is focused. In China, however,  the practice of eating dog meat isn’t universally accepted: there have been protests against the festival, as well as an increase in the number of people who keep dogs as companion animals.

For Little Ricky,  named for actor and animal activist Ricky Gervais, the outlook is bright. Parascandola says the little dog with his large triangular ears, and black and white markings, is gentle and trusting.

Bob Ramin, President and CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League, says Little Ricky’s adjusting well to his new surroundings. “He’s wagging his tail, and looks perky. He’s going to be a great dog for somebody” then Ramin pauses for a second and adds, “He is a great dog, he’s going to be a great family member for somebody.”

The post From China’s dog meat industry to life as a companion animal appeared first on WTOP.

27 Jun 20:37

Can a shopping mall renovation revive a tired suburban community? - Washington Post

Can a shopping mall renovation revive a tired suburban community?
Washington Post
The patio-style restaurants at one of Northern Virginia's latest town-center experiments offer a view — for now — of a cracked, sun-baked parking lot. Shoppers at the Saturday farmer's market must stroll between parked cars in that same lot to peruse ...

and more »
27 Jun 13:00

Sugar Glider Attempts to Use Fan as a Wind Tunnel

Not quite enough lift. 

Submitted by: (via Libraryelfs)

Tagged: sugar glider , funny , Video
26 Jun 13:24

Subaru Recalls 72,000 Vehicles Because Automatic Braking Systems Are Supposed To Actually Help Drivers

by Ashlee Kieler


The ability to brake may be one of the most essential safety features of a vehicle. But part of that intricate system – specifically the automatic braking component – just isn’t working like it should for tens of thousands of newer Subaru vehicles.

Subaru notified [PDF] the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it will recall about 72,000 model year 2015 Impreza, Crosstrek, Legacy, and Outback vehicles and model year 2016 WRX vehicles equipped with the Eyesight Driver Assist System.

According to the company, if the switch that activates the brake light fails, the automatic pre-collision braking component of the company’s driver-assist system will not function. This can cause the vehicle to not react to an obstacle in its path, increasing the risk of a crash.

The company says the brakes will work when the pedal is depressed and drivers are not affected if they don’t have the automatic system turned on.

Subaru says it is currently unaware of any injuries or accidents related to the issue.

Dealers will notify owners of affected vehicles and reprogram the driver assist system.

26 Jun 15:13

Self-Driving Cars From Rival Companies Have A Close Call In California Traffic

by Mary Beth Quirk



UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Delphi who was also in the car at the time of the previously reported “near miss” between her company’s car and a Google prototype says things didn’t go down quite like the story made it seem.

“I was there for the discussion with Reuters about automated vehicles,” she told Ars Technica. “The story was taken completely out of context when describing a type of complex driving scenario that can occur in the real world. Our expert provided an example of a lane change scenario that our car recently experienced which, coincidentally, was with one of the Google cars also on the road at that time. It wasn’t a ‘near miss’ as described in the Reuters story.”

She says it was just another normal situation any car could encounter — and things couldn’t have gone better.

“Our car did exactly what it was supposed to,” she says. “Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again.”

A Google spokeswoman chimed in as well, telling Ars: “The headline here is that two self-driving cars did what they were supposed to do in an ordinary everyday driving scenario.”


Just yesterday, Google’s latest self-driving car models hit the streets of Mountain View, CA. But there have already been some bumps in the road, as a new report says a self-driving Google car had a near miss in traffic with another driverless vehicle this week.

An executive with Delphi Automotive PLC told Reuters that he was a passenger in a self-driving prototype from his company on Tuesday, when a Google driverless vehicle cut it off on the road. No contact was made between the two cars.

The director of Delphi’s Silicon Valley lab and global business director for the company’s automated driving program said he was in a prototype Audi Q5 crossover vehicle equipped with lasers, radar, cameras and special computer software, with a person at the wheel as backup. While the car was preparing to change lanes, he says a Google prototype — a Lexus RX400h crossover with similar technology — cut off the Audi, prompting it to cancel the lane change.

He says the Delphi car “took appropriate action.”

Google declined to comment.

This is likely the first such incident to have been reported between two self-driving cars, though Google issued a complete list of all incidents its driverless vehicles have gotten into with cars piloted by people since the company started testing the cars on the open road. In all of those collisions, the self-driving car was not at fault.

Two rival self-driving cars have close call in California [Reuters]

26 Jun 16:59

Remember That Time In The Early ’90s When McDonald’s Tried To Do Pizza?

by Mary Beth Quirk

Cast your mind back to the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s… when you had a craving for that delicious Italian combination of carbs, sauce and cheese, you’d head straight to McDonald’s, right? No? Yeah, we’re with you on that one — who knew McDonald’s ever tried to grab a piece of the pizza pie? Tried, and ultimately, failed.

The folks over at Mental Floss dip into the halls of fast food history, uncovering a long lost tale of pizza failure. See, once upon a time, McDonald’s got a bit greedy, and tried to horn in on the dinner business market by adding pizza to the menu.

In 1986, tongues started to wag — McDonald’s had a plan to rival chains like Pizza Hut as well as independent pizza parlors. It wasn’t called McPizza, as one might think as that name was used for a calzone product Mickey D’s tested briefly in the 1980s.

Expanded testing started in 1989, with about 24 restaurants in Indiana and Kentucky participating. This move essentially started a war, as Pizza Hut was far from pleased with the new competition.

“Don’t make a McStake,” one Pizza Hut ad urged. The company called McDonald’s pies “McFrozen” dough, and started offering two-for-one deals to keep its customers happy.

Things weren’t going too well for McDonald’s pizza in any case: The quick-cook oven the company worked long and hard on meant major renovations for franchisees. And the drive-thru window? Forget about it — how are you supposed to shove a pizza through many older windows, which simply weren’t big enough. More renovations would have been required.

Even those locations that did remodel their kitchens and drive-thru windows weren’t faring great: It took too long to get the pizzas cooked and to customers, especially when the restaurants got busy. The pizzas were more expensive than rivals as well, which turned off customers who were used to spending much less elsewhere.

McDonald’s was determined, however, and had expanded the pizza option to almost 40% of its restaurants in the early 1990s. Then, like some fever dream you’d have after eating too much McDonald’s, the pizza experiment was quickly over, at least in America. Canada held on somewhat longer, but ultimately went the same way as U.S. restaurants and stopped serving pizza.

Some things are just not meant to be: Sushi and hangovers, peanut butter and French fries, and McDonald’s and pizza. But we can always look back, and wonder… what the heck were you thinking, McDonald’s?

The Short, Strange Life of McDonald’s Pizza [Mental Floss]

26 Jun 17:48

Macy’s Customer Accused Of Biting Employee Over Price Dispute

by Laura Northrup

When you have a question about the price tag on a department store item, you should raise your concerns with store employees. You should not yell at them or curse them out, and you should definitely not become violent. A Macy’s customer in California was arrested after she allegedly did all of those things, then bit a loss prevention officer on the leg during a price dispute.

Local police say that the customer argued with a store manager over the price of an unnamed item, and became abusive even though she received a discount. It apparently wasn’t enough, and the angry shopper was asked to leave the store. She refused to go.

That’s when the loss prevention officers tried to “escort” her from the store, and she became angry and fought back. According to the police, the officer sustained “minor injuries” as the woman scratched at him and bit him on the leg.

Police arrested the woman for assault and battery when they arrived at the store.

Woman Bites Macy’s Employee Over Price Of Item In Newark Store, Police Say [KCBS]

26 Jun 18:13

We’re Not Quite Sure How To Feel About The Fact That Yogurt Liqueur Exists

by Mary Beth Quirk

bolsyogurtWhile there are surely some tasty dairy-based alcoholic beverages out there, there’s just something about drinking boozy yogurt that seems a bit… off-putting. But hey, different strokes for different folks. For those who like mixing food with their drinks, there’s a yogurt liqueur out there just for you.

MarketWatch has the details on yogurt’s crossover from trendy food favorite to cocktail ingredient, from a Dutch-based spirits brand called Bols. As it turns out, the creamy alcoholic cocktail addition has been around for about two years in the United States, although it’s had limited success. Again, because a shelf-stable dairy booze sounds like it could be kind of gross.

“It doesn’t immediately sound like something you want to try,” admits Bols marketing director Jaron Berkhemer to MarketWatch.

But instead of ditching the idea, the company kept at it — and their efforts paid off: Florida bartending started using the liqueur in a piña colada instead of cream of coconut, resulting in a drink that’s lighter in calories than your usual cocktail. Added bonus: No blender required.

So what does it actually taste like? MarketWatch isn’t really a fan of drinking it alone, saying “it falls somewhere in that strange and scary zone between milk and water.” Blech.

That being said, including it in a cocktail transforms the liqueur, the MarketWatch team says.

“The yogurt liqueur does all the heavy lifting in terms of giving the drink a creamy consistency, but it doesn’t turn the cocktail into a ‘yogurt drink,’ either.”

This has given us a lot to think about.

You can now get your yogurt as a liqueur [MarketWatch]

26 Jun 20:30

Dinosaur Experts In Uproar After Hasbro Referred To ‘Jurassic World’ Raptor Toys As Male

by Mary Beth Quirk

She's a lady. Whoa, whoa, whoa, she's a lady.

She’s a lady. Whoa, whoa, whoa, she’s a lady.

Anyone who’s familiar with Jurassic Park knows that all the dinosaurs in the park were engineered to be female — this, to control the animals from making their own dino babies and overwhelming the humans. So then why did Hasbro rewrite the Jurassic Park canon by rebranding its Jurassic World dinosaur toys as males in product descriptions for its raptor toys?

It’s unclear, but dinosaur experts were up in arms over the decision to refer to the velociraptors as male in product descriptions for the toys, noted The Onion’s AV Club.

The original description including male pronouns. (click to enlarge)

The original description including male pronouns. (click to enlarge)

Dinosaur expert Dustin Growick, host of the YouTube series The Dinosaur Show, initiated a Care2 petition “to tell Hasbro to stop reinforcing silly and antiquated gender role stereotypes on children and stop gender swapping dinosaurs.”

He writes in the petition that the two Jurassic works “have inspired millions of children around the world—boys and girls alike—to be interested in dinosaurs, paleontology, and science. Just as many—if not more—of the biggest dinosaur enthusiasts are girls and women.”

It seems his efforts paid off: Reading the description now on Hasbro’s site, the dinosaurs have gone back to being females (bolding ours):

“Clever as ever, Jurassic World’s velociraptors are masterful hunters. And this awesome figure looks just like Velociraptor “Blue”! She’s ready to team up with her fellow Velociraptors (other figures sold separately) to hunt the ultimate predator! Her slashing claws and growling attack will destroy anything in her way. Let the hunt begin with your Velociraptor “Blue” figure!”

We reached out to Hasbro for comment on why the raptor toy was initially branded a male, and will update you if/when we hear back.

25 Jun 15:54

A Good Way To Ruin A Roller Coaster Ride For Everyone Else? Pull Out A Selfie Stick

by Mary Beth Quirk

As if selfie sticks aren’t obnoxious enough when they go waving through the air, threatening to smack unsuspecting bystanders in the face, visitors at Disneyland had their roller coaster fun interrupted when their fellow passenger whipped out one of the extension devices in the middle of the ride.

Riders on Disney’s California Adventure’s California Screamin’ were likely in the mood for screaming yesterday, but not because the ride was so thrilling — because a passenger stuck out a selfie stick while the coaster was in progress, reports the OC Register.

Those gadgets are not allowed on attractions, a park spokeswoman said, adding that the ride was back up within an hour.

The OC Register cited passengers who Tweeted that the ride shut down at the top of the drop, and that the ride was evacuated.

Selfie sticks aren’t banned in general at the park, as they are at various museums like the Smithsonian and others around the world due to their propensity to annoy people, but visitors are told to keep them stowed away during rides.

Disney California Adventure roller coaster halted after person pulls out selfie stick [OC Register]

25 Jun 18:30

Apple Pulls Civil War Games From App Store For Images Of Confederate Battle Flag Used In “Offensive” Ways

by Mary Beth Quirk

Joining retailers like Walmart and Amazon who pulled merchandise with images of the Confederate battle flag earlier this week and the country’s largest flagmaker, which has stopped selling the flag, Apple has reportedly yanked several Civil War games that include the rebel banner from its iTunes App Store.

CNN reports (warning: link contains video that autoplays) that the games started disappearing from the App Store early Thursday morning, with affected game developers getting a notice that their products were getting the boot.

The move comes after a 21-year-old man was accused last week of killing nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He was seen in online posts brandishing the battle flag, which, while revered by some in the South, to many others is seen as a symbol of hatred.

It is not in dispute that the Confederate battle flag — which was never the official flag of the Confederacy, but a flag flown in battle by General Robert E. Lee — was involved in the Civil War.

But Apple wrote in an email to game creators that their stuff had been pulled for containing “images of the Confederate Flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways,” according to one of those affected, Andrew Mulholland of HexWar Games.

Apple wrote: “At this time, your app has been removed from the App Store. We encourage you to review your app concept and incorporate different content and features that are in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.”

The email cited Apple’s Store review guidelines in the email: “Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected.”

Mulholland told site Pocketgamer that four of his company’s Civil War Games were taken from the App Store, with one other remaining up — Civil War: Bull Run 1861.

“It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren’t being used in an offensive way,” he told the site. “They were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time…. We’re in no way sympathetic to the use of the flag in an offensive way; we used it purely because historically that was the flag that was used at the time.”

He says HexWar will revise its games to replace those flags identified as offensive, and will use the official flag of the Confederacy used between 1861 and 1862, “as the one that’s considered offensive wasn’t introduced until late 1862.”

It could take a week to implement those changes, and possibly another two weeks before Apple reviews the revised games.

“Until Apple approves them, and hopefully they will, we are missing a significant part of our revenue from people who just want to play a historical strategy game,” he said.

Apple declined to comment to CNN.

Apple pulls Confederate flag-bearing Civil War games from App Store [CNN]
Apple pulls American Civil War games for displaying the Confederate flag in ‘offensive’ ways [Pocketgamer]

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