They're calling it an unnamed "security issue" but the Sunspot Observatory in New Mexico has been unexpectedly closed prompting evacuations and a visit from the FBI. It's now off limits to both staff and the public, with no word on why or when it will be open again. Spokesperson Shari Lifson said, "We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time." Lifson said that the facility was first evacuated on September 6 and has remained closed since then. As part of the investigation, the observatory has contacted the FBI, which has been reported on the scene with multiple agents and a Blackhawk helicopter. Local sheriff Benny House said, "The FBI is refusing to tell us what's going on. We've got people up there that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why." (Alomogordo Daily News)
The Most Decorated Boy Scout of America... Ain't in America
The most decorated Scout in the Boy Scouts of America is Austin Koslow and he's a long way from America. Koslow is from Far East Council Asia East District Troop 16, based in Tokyo and has not only earned every single one of the 137 merit badges the Boy Scouts has to offer, but also seven silver and one gold Eagle Palms - the maximum number of the awards attainable after becoming an Eagle Scout. It's a feat that used to be a mathematical impossibility, until a recent controversial BSA rule change threw open the door. Koslow, it seems, just so happened to be the first Scout to step through it. Becoming an Eagle Scout alone is an impressive feat, requiring not only 21 merit badges but also completion of a service project that benefits an organization other than the Boy Scouts, holding a position of leadership in your troop, taking part in a leadership conference and passing an Eagle Scout board of review. Koslow clocked in 250 man hours for his Eagle service project. Only 4 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the Eagle rank, and it's a distinction that can be worn for life. Becoming an Eagle Scout means joining the ranks of the likes of Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford and Steven Spielberg. As for all those merit badges, Koslow says his favorite was scuba diving, his least favorite was swimming, and the most difficult was bugling. While there are only four requirements to earn the bugling merit badge, it took him almost three years to do it. (Japan Times)
Fake Trip Advisor Review? That's a Prison Term!
For what is believed to be the first time, a person has been sent to jail for writing fake reviews online. It's in Italy, but it's a start. The defendant actually ran a company called PromoSalento, which sold hotels fake reviews, and in what's being widely hailed as a landmark ruling this week a court in the country deemed the act was "criminal conduct" and sentenced him to nine months behind bars plus a $9,300 fine. TripAdvisor, which has been fighting fake reviews for years, learned of PromoSalento after hotels let the tourism site know the company had approached them offering to sell them reviews. TripAdvisor tracked the company down and issued a warning, but it didn't halt its practices; ultimately, the Italian Postal and Communications Police started its own probe and TripAdvisor joined the prosecution as a civil claimant, sharing the evidence it had gathered. TripAdvisor says the vast majority of reviews on its site are real, but it continues to struggle with fakes: Just last year, a writer managed to pull a stunt that resulted in a fake restaurant becoming the top-rated London eatery on the site. (Newser)
The 13-Pound Obscene Burger
Jamie Oliver is well-known for his mission to eradicate unhealthy food in the UK and has recently called for a ban on energy drink sales to kids. But now people on social media want him to turn his attention to American junk food - particular, a new 13-pound burger being served in Las Vegas. Truffles N Bacon's 'Belly of the Beast' is made with beef, pork belly, tater tots, Cheetos, cheese and more. The Las Vegas burger joint says the burger is designed to be shared between six, although we're not sure how you would begin such a messy task. One person tweeted Jamie Oliver and asked him to "do your ting." Others simply branded the burger "gruesome", "unhealthy" and "obscene". (FOX News)
No More Eating Dogs and Cats
Didn't realize we had this problem but legislation cracking down on eating cats and dogs has passed the House of Representatives. It's actually a rare bipartisan bill that would outlaw slaughtering, transporting, possessing, buying, selling, or donating the animals or their parts for human consumption, with fines up to $5,000. Eating domestic animals is rare, but still legal in 44 states, and animal rights groups say there is a small underground market for dog and cat meat in the US. The bill contains exemptions for Native American tribes that may slaughter dogs or cats for religious ceremonies. A co-author of the bill says he is optimistic the Senate will pass it before Congress adjourns this fall. The House also passed a non-binding resolution urging other countries to stop eating dog and cat meat, which the other co-author called a "horrific practice." (Newser)
Next Thursday is Going to Be Fun
You may hear a bit of noise next Thursday afternoon after lunch, and you can thank FEMA and the FCC. The two agencies are pushing out a "Presidential Alert" test to nearly every cellphone in the nation on Sept. 20 to "assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed," per a release on the FEMA website. The Wireless Emergency Alert-typically used to notify the public about such things as extreme weather or missing children-will sound an alarm on cellphones at 2:18pm EDT. Following at 2:20pm will be a test on radio and TV of the Emergency Alert System, which the president can use to communicate with the public in the event of a national emergency. The header for the WEA trial text will read "Presidential Alert," along with the message: "This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed." It's the first time the government has conducted a nationwide test of the WEA, while it's the fourth time for the EAS. And no - you can't opt out of this one and it's also mandatory for all cell phone carriers. (FEMA)
What the What?
More proof that just one person, no matter how young, can make a difference. Ten-year-old Hannah-Marie Clayton has convinced Kellogg's to change its "sexist" wording on Coco Pops boxes after she wrote a letter to complain. The questionable slogan was "Loved by kids, approved by moms." Hannah's letter to Kellogg's explained that she found the phrase "sexist," noting that her dad often makes her breakfast. The cereal giant then replied: "You recently shared your thoughts around the statement of "Approved by Moms" on our improved recipe Coco Pops. The new packaging for Kellogg's Coco Pops will read, "Approved by parents." (Metro)