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New Earth-like planet found orbiting nearby star

A new planet has been discovered that may be Earth-like, and it's really, really close. If we're ever going to look for life outside our solar system, this is probably where we'll start. Here's what scientists say about it.

>> Watch the video from Newsy

The planet might have liquid water, which is crucial to life as we know it. It's in the habitable zone, that sweet spot where it's neither too hot nor too cold to have water on its surface.

The planet orbits the closest-known star to ours, Proxima Centauri, which is about 4.25 light years away. It's in the southern sky, but it's too dim to see with the naked eye.

Four light years is nothing in space terms, but it's still too far to travel to any time soon. Our most pie-in-the-sky technology would still take decades to carry a probe there.

If we do ever travel there, it should feel somewhat familiar. The planet is about the same size as Earth, meaning gravity would be close to what we're used to. But its days and nights would be strange. It circles its sun every 11 days.

>> Read more trending stories

It's tempting to get excited about an Earth-like planet that couldn't be any closer, but there are some big unknowns. It's not clear yet whether the planet has an atmosphere or a magnetic field. Without those, the odds of finding life are pretty much zero.

Luckily, we don't have to wait too long to learn more. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch in 2018, and it will be able to look for an atmosphere. And Stephen Hawking is supporting a plan to send a probe to nearby Alpha Centauri.

2 women arrested after video shows them smoking pot near toddler, police say

Two women were arrested this week in Fort Hall, Idaho, after police said a video was posted on Facebook showing them smoking marijuana around a toddler.

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>> Click here to watch the news report

The two women, whose names and mugshots have not been released, were arrested after the video surfaced this week on Facebook, KPVI reports. According to police, the video showed four adults smoking a joint with a toddler nearby.

In the video, one of the women is seen trying to blow smoke into the toddler’s mouth once before the toddler turns his head away when she tries to do it a second time. “No more getting high? He’s all blazing it,” one woman in the video said.

>> Read more trending stories

The video was removed Monday after angry comments were posted below the video. Police said two of the women were arrested on child endangerment charges. Officers said they are waiting to obtain arrest warrants for the other two adults in the video.

Read more at KPVI.

Boy thrives one year after double hand transplant

A 9-year-old boy is thriving one year after becoming the world’s first double hand transplant recipient.

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>> Click here to watch the news report

When Zion Harvey was just 2 years old, he lost both his hands and legs to a deadly infection.

In July 2015, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia successfully transplanted two new hands to Zion.

>> Child who had double hand transplant throws out MLB first pitch

After a year of grueling physical therapy, he’s now throwing baseballs, writing and playing Jenga.

“I’m very excited because now I can do more than I imagined, like throw a football, play baseball or, I don’t know, do a handstand,” Zion told NBC News. “So when I got my hands, it’s like, here’s the piece of my life that was missing. Now it’s here. Now my life is complete.”

>> Read more trending stories

The recovery process is long, but Zion has regained sensation in his hands, and his brain is re-learning how to use them. He says he couldn’t be more happy with the results.

“Before you quit and say, ‘I give up,’ try everything first,” Zion said.

Zoo Atlanta's giant panda, Lun Lun, expecting twins – again

Lun Lun, the prolific giant panda at Zoo Atlanta, is expecting twins – for the second time.

Zoo officials recently announced that Lun Lun was pregnant. An ultrasound on Monday confirmed that Lun Lun is carrying two fetuses.

As of Aug. 22, those two fetuses measured 2.68 centimeters and 2.19 centimeters.

Lun Lun, who turns 19 on Thursday, is the mother of the only pair of giant panda twins in the U.S., 3-year-olds Mei Lun and Mei Huan. While giant pandas often give birth to twins, usually only one cub survives because the mother tends to nurse only one of the pair.

>> Watch a video about the panda cubs' first 100 days

After the birth of Mei Lun and Mei Huan, Zoo Atlanta’s veterinary team performed a miraculous sleight of hand, by steadily replacing one cub with the other in their mother’s embrace, giving each a chance to nurse and bond.

>> PHOTOS: Zoo Atlanta panda twins getting cuter

The result: Atlanta has the only pair of panda twins in the U.S.

The zoo hopes to perform the same miracle with these two, but there are many obstacles ahead, including a successful birth.

>> Read more trending stories

Round-the-clock birthwatch began on Monday, but there is still no certainty. The zoo said in a statement, “fetal reabsorption is not uncommon in giant pandas.” Lun Lun has given birth to five cubs, three of which live in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Lun Lun has been trained to participate in ultrasound exams, but her participation is “voluntary,” the zoo points out, so additional ultrasounds aren’t a sure thing either.

The twins could arrive any time in the next few weeks.

Why dozens of people sent one mother 100s of the same shirt

One St. George, Utah, mother has the support of people around the world.

Today reported that Deborah Grimshaw Skouson reached out on social media when her daughter's favorite shirt was wearing thin.

>> Read more trending stories

On Aug. 7, Skouson made a Facebook post asking others for help finding the shirt, which she said was made from 2011 to 2012 and initially purchased at Target.

"As most of you know, my daughter Cami has autism. For the past 4-5 years, she has been fixated on this shirt," Skouson wrote on Facebook. "She got her first one in kindergarten 5 years ago, and we have found 4 more since then, mostly on eBay. Her current one is almost unwearable, and eBay has gone dry."

The request was met 178 times over after being shared over 38,000 times, including by an Oakland, California, news anchor.

"Apparently this struck a chord in people," Skouson told "Today." "It's been beautiful to see. The kindness that has been offered to us is overwhelming."

Skouson said that Target reached out and offered to make some shirts in adult sizes for Cami to wear when she is older.

"Target is able to recreate the shirt and will be sending multiple sizes to Deborah so that Cami can enjoy it for many years to come," a Target spokeswoman told BBC News.

Skouson said that although she is not sure how much Cami understands about having multiples of the same shirt, she's been enjoying them.

"She likes to pick up each one of them, and she rubs them against her face and smells them, and just gets a big smile on her face," Skouson said.

Hope Solo's suspension could be the end of her run with the U.S. team

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team will be Hope-less for the rest of the year.

Star goalkeeper Hope Solo was suspended for six months for calling the Swedish team "a bunch of cowards" after losing in the Olympics. Her contract with the national team was terminated.

Her comments were apparently the last straw for U.S. Soccer. President Sunil Gulati said the suspension was the right move for the team, especially considering Solo's past infractions.

In 2015, Solo was suspended for a month for acting belligerent during her husband's DUI arrest. She was also charged with domestic violence the year before.

But post-game trash talk netting Solo her biggest suspension yet has some outlets speculating the suspension is really more about the team than Solo.

While Solo's been one of the world's best keepers, she'll be 37 by the time the next World Cup rolls around. Her suspension gives the team a chance to evaluate some future goalkeeping prospects.

The U.S. Women's Players Association said the suspension is "a violation of Ms. Solo's First Amendment rights," and it plans to file an appeal.

Massive fire destroys dozens of school buses in Washington

Over 25 buses were damaged in a fire Wednesday afternoon at a school bus barn south of Seattle.

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Nearly 70 people were evacuated when a fire started Wednesday afternoon at the Puyallup School District bus barn. 

Officials said in a statement that a number of new buses burned in the fire:

"At 2:21 in the afternoon of Wednesday, August 24, Central Pierce Fire was dispatched to the corner of 12th Street NW and West Stewart – the site of Puyallup School District’s Bus Maintenance Facility. While the cause of the fire is not yet certain, the damage is. Over 20 brand new school buses were housed in this facility. These new buses were purchased to make the fleet more efficient and provide transportation services to students in Puyallup schools."

Police said there were explosions related to the fire and a building nearby burned.

via GIPHY

There were no reports of injuries and officials said all school district employees were accounted for.

Puyallup public schools are scheduled to start Sept. 6. 

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7&amp;appId=294997927197681";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>More than 25 buses were damaged by fire at a Puyallup School District bus barn this afternoon. What we know: kiro.tv/PuyallupSDFirePolice said explosions were heard. The situation is still developing.Posted by KIRO 7 News on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

They’re making a Lifetime movie about Britney Spears

Coming soon on Lifetime: “Britney,” a movie about Britney Spears.

Natasha Bassett will play Brit in the 2017 small-screen movie, Deadline reports.

“The project details the tumultuous story of Spears’ rise to fame, her fall from grace and eventual triumphant resurrection,” Deadline says.

Here’s hoping Britney’s recent philanthropy makes the cut. She is literally giving the clothes off her back to raise money for the Red Cross to benefit victims of widespread flooding in her home state of Louisiana.

Spears, who’s from Kentwood, tweeted out links Tuesday to a fundraising site that offers $10 raffle tickets to win an outfit from her upcoming performance on Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards or a trip to New York to see her at the show in person.

More than 115,000 people across south Louisiana have signed up for federal disaster assistance after the catastrophic flooding that began Aug. 12. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to the flooding, and more than 60,000 homes were damaged by the high water.

Nick Cannon is going to Howard University at 35 years old

It's never too late to continue your education.

"America's Got Talent" host and "Wild'n Out" producer and host Nick Cannon is starting his freshman year of college at 35 years old, he said in an Instagram post Saturday.

>> Read more trending stories

"I am always seeking new challenges and continual growth and decided to obtain my first college degree from an institution that had a proven legacy of producing great minds. I have friends, mentors and colleagues who attended Howard University," Cannon said in a statement, according to WRC. "I have heard about the famed Howard Homecoming since I was a kid growing up in California and knew that Howard would be the perfect place for me to further my education."

Cannon told Entertainment Tonight his major is "strategic legal and management communications."

"It's a long (name), but it's really dealing with, obviously, the law and also the business that we're all in with communications," Cannon said. "I felt like I was already into the communications field in doing this for a couple decades (so) why not get behind it? (I want to) understand the legal aspects of it, and the strategic management part so I can continue to build my empire."

Cannon's choice to attend a historically black university immediately drew comparisons to his's role in the 2002 film "Drumline," in which his character attended a fictional Atlanta HBCU and was led by a strict band head played by Orlando Jones.

Jones made a nod to the film in a congratulatory tweet to Cannon Sunday.

And Cannon is committed to his education. "I'm not just going to start, or stop in 2020," he said. "I'm going all the way to get (my) Ph.D."

YOU KNOW!!!!! #HU2020 My First Day as a Freshman!!! Howard University Class of 2020 A photo posted by Nick Cannon (@nickcannon) on Aug 20, 2016 at 1:05pm PDT

Ryan Lochte will join 'Dancing With the Stars' competition, report says

Ryan Lochte, who lost endorsement deals and came in for a heap of international mocking following Loch Mess or Lochtegate, depending on your hashtag preference, has a new gig to look forward to: “Dancing With the Stars.”

USA Today reports the 12-time gold medalist, formerly sponsored by brands such as Speedo and Ralph Lauren, who dropped him following the mess in Rio, will shake his money maker on the dancing reality show.

Lochte and teammates Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Gunnar Bentz were returning from a party in Rio a little over a week ago when their cab stopped for a bathroom break. In a lengthy statement released several days later, Bentz said the guys made the dumb decision to relieve themselves outside, near some bushes.

Then, Bentz’ statement continues, Lochte banged up a sign for some reason, then feuded with security guards who responded with badges displayed and guns drawn. The swimmers paid about $70 and were on their way.

“Whether you call it a robbery or extortion or us paying just for the damages, we don’t know,” Lochte said. “All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money. There was a gun pointed in our direction. We were frightened. We gave them money, and we got out.”

Louboutina the hugging dog captures people's hearts

Golden retrievers are known to be people-pleasers, but one is an exceptional people-hugger too.

"Today" reported that the dog is a popular and friendly personality in New York City.

>> Read more trending stories

Cesar Fernandez-Chavez, the dog's owner, got Louboutina as a gift from his best friend five years ago.

Related: Boy seen on surveillance video cuddling neighbor's dog

"When I met (my friend) Daphne the first time, she was wearing Louboutins, therefore, when she told me she was giving me a pup for my birthday I said, 'I want a female dog and I'm going to name her Louboutina after your shoes,'" Fernandez-Chavez told Mashable.

A photo posted by Louboutina (Loubie) (@louboutinanyc) on Jun 19, 2016 at 6:28pm PDT

Before she started giving hugs, her owner said Louboutina began standing on her hind legs a week before Valentine's Day 2014.

"We were walking and she stopped and started shaking (my hand) and she put a lot of strength on the grip and I held her paw and then suddenly she sat up," Fernandez-Chavez told "Today." "I was like, OK, this is weird, but I let her do that and she was there for a good two minutes before she went down."

Related: Expert suggests that we shouldn't hug our dogs

"I'm a gay, single man, so at least I have someone to hold hands with," Fernandez-Chavez joked.

"About a year after she started hugging me ... she started doing a funny stand on her legs with her upper paws to the side," he said.

A photo posted by Louboutina (Loubie) (@louboutinanyc) on Jul 12, 2016 at 6:34pm PDT

A photo posted by Louboutina (Loubie) (@louboutinanyc) on Jun 22, 2016 at 1:59pm PDT

Fernandez-Chavez  told "Today" Louboutina may have started mimicking him.

"I'm a hugger," Fernandez-Chavez said. "When she was little, I would hug her like a person. I would kneel on the floor and hug her and she would put her paws on my shoulders. So maybe she picked that up."

Whatever the case may be, many New Yorkers love being able to get a hug from this sweet dog.

A photo posted by Louboutina (Loubie) (@louboutinanyc) on Aug 19, 2016 at 2:01pm PDT

Trooper purposely crashes into wrong-way driver to keep others safe

An Arkansas State trooper is recovering after he collided head-on with another driver.

The Arkansas State Police say Trooper 1st Class Roy Moomey, 41, was dispatched to investigate reports of a driver going the wrong way on highway I-40 on Aug. 8.

Police say the six-year veteran of the department collided head-on with the driver, trying to stop him.

Photos shared to Facebook show the mangled remains of Moomey’s patrol car. He was seriously injured in the crash.

Posted by Marc McCune on Monday, August 8, 2016

The other driver, identified as Michael Choate, 24, was killed, the Arkansas Times reports.

Police say Moomey was trapped inside his car for over an hour as firefighters worked to free him. He was transported to a nearby hospital, and is now recovering from his injuries.

Photos shared to Facebook show Moomey smiling from a hospital bed.

Trooper Moomey doing great in his recovery.  Appreciates all the prayers.Posted by Marc McCune on Friday, August 19, 2016

The Arkansas State Police thanked the Little Rock community on Facebook for the outpouring of support for Moomey.

Due to the overwhelming support and questions about where donations can be made to help TFC Moomey and his family, we...Posted by Arkansas State Police on Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Prince William comforts teen whose mom died of cancer: 'I still miss my mother every day'

Prince William comforted a grieving teen who lost his mom to cancer by remembering Princess Diana.

Next week will mark 19 years since the tragic death of Princess Diana.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were visiting Keech Hospice Care in Luton when Ben Hines shared with him that his mother passed away. Prince William patted the 14-year-old on the shoulder and reassured him that the pain of loss gets easier with time.

“I know how you feel. I still miss my mother every day and it’s been 20 years,” said Prince William is a video clip shared on Twitter. “The important thing is to talk about it as a family. It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK for you to miss her.”

Watch the touching moment below:

Prince William meeting a family who lost their Mum, gives them advice and says he misses Diana everyday #HeartNews pic.twitter.com/675D7bufi5— Four Counties News (@Heart4CNews) August 24, 2016

Man gets angry about tree sap on car, cuts down tree that falls on apartment, police say

A Pennsylvania man was arrested Monday after police said he got into a fight with a neighbor after returning to an apartment property a few days after he cut down a tree, which fell on the building and forced five people out of a home.

Raymond Mazzarella was annoyed about his neighbor’s tree dripping sap on his car at his Pittston Township, Pennsylvania-area house, so he cut down the tree on Saturday, WNEP reported. Mazzarella didn’t predict where the tree would land and it fell onto an apartment building, forcing five people, including himself, out of their homes.

“He decided it was the best thing to do, to get rid of the tree. Where he thought it was going to go, I don't know,” Terry Best, a Pittston Township code enforcement officer, told WNEP.

Mazzarella was checked into the hospital, but was released Monday afternoon and was reported trespassing near the apartment. Police said he was confronted by a neighbor, whom he punched and began to hit with a baseball bat after the neighbor pulled out a stun gun to protect himself.

Mazzarella was arrested and charged with assault and harassment. WNEP reported that the Red Cross is helping relocate the five people whose apartment was damaged.

Read more at WNEP.

 A man in Luzerne County cut down his neighbor's tree over the weekend because he thought it was ruining his car. The...Posted by WNEP-TV on Monday, August 22, 2016

Large turtle killed by M-80 firecrackers; 3 charged

Police in Pennsylvania arrested two adults and a 17-year-old on Wednesday after they allegedly used a pair of firecrackers to blow up a large turtle earlier this month.

>> Read more trending stories

The Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department identified the suspects as a 17-year-old young man, who was not identified because he is a juvenile, and 21-year-old Manheim residents Taylor James Geib and Austin Mathew Garner.

The trio is accused of killing a turtle on Aug. 3 by blowing it up with two M-80 firecrackers.

Police found bone fragments, what appeared to be “biological membrane” and the remains of a large turtle in a small crater in Manheim after they were called to investigate a reported explosion.

Authorities determined three people put a pair of firecrackers on the turtle's shell before lighting them and ultimately killing the turtle.

Witnesses gave police a description of the suspects and the truck they were in at the time of the explosion, which led investigators to the three young suspects.

They were charged with criminal conspiracy and prohibited offensive weapons.

What we know, don’t know about Martin stabbings, face-biting

More than a week after Michelle Mishcon and John Stevens were killed in their southern Martin County home, Florida, much remains unknown about what led to the seemingly random, but unusually brutal, stabbings.

The couple often kept their garage door up, said Stevens’ brother-in-law, Doug Maddox, with a seat open and the TV on for friends and family. Mishcon was found stabbed to death at about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 15 in that garage. Stevens was found dead in the driveway.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home on Southeast Kokomo Lane, just north of the Jupiter border, they also found 19-year-old Austin Harrouff. The Jupiter teen was clinging to Stevens and biting off pieces of the man’s face. He already had bitten the man’s abdomen, deputies said.

A neighbor told deputies he tried to intervene in the attack but was stabbed, too. That neighbor, Jeff Fisher, went back to his home across the street and called 911. He was “bleeding profusely,” he told a dispatcher. His wife said he had been stabbed in the back.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder called Harrouff “abnormally strong.”

Yet friends of the sophomore at Florida State University said he “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

So what was the motive?

“We may absolutely never know,” Snyder said.

Nothing indicates Harrouff knew the couple. Their family members have said they don’t recognize the teen. Fisher told a dispatcher shortly after he was stabbed that he didn’t either.

Officials have been unable to talk to Harrouff, the Sheriff’s Office says, because he has been sedated or hooked to breathing tubes since he arrived at St. Mary’s Medical Center immediately following the stabbings. The details of Harrouff’s injuries, and a complete toxicology report, haven’t been released.

He arrived making “animal-like noises,” the Sheriff’s Office said, and was delusional. His parents said the teen had been acting strange for at least a week; his father said the strange behavior had been going on for months. His mother told Jupiter police that Harrouff had told her he had “super powers” and that he was immortal.

Harrouff’s dad, Wade, thinks mental illness may have triggered the attacks. The teen hasn’t been diagnosed, his dad said, but schizophrenia runs in the family.

Were drugs involved?

The sheriff speculates drugs, like flakka or bath salts, may be involved. Yet Harrouff dared deputies to drug test him after they took him in to custody: “Test me. You won’t find any drugs.”

Initial tests indicate Harrouff didn’t have street drugs, like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or marijuana, in his system at the time of the attacks.

“I don’t think he did (use drugs),” Wade Harrouff said. “I guess we’ll find out when the test comes.”

Those drug tests of Austin Harrouff’s blood -- which are being done by the FBI -- will show whether drugs like flakka or bath salts were in the teen’s system.

Until then, detectives are in “a holding pattern,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Is Austin Harrouff’s condition affecting the investigation?

The teen’s condition also is stalling the investigation.

The day after the fatal stabbings, Snyder said Austin Harrouff’s injuries were “life-threatening” and that his condition was getting worse. Eight days after the attack, officials are saying the teen is in critical, but stable condition.

On Tuesday, though, his father said his organs were failing. His son’s liver is malfunctioning, his lungs are filling with fluid and he has bleeding of the esophagus. The Sheriff’s Office said it would not release details of Austin Harrouff’s treatment plan at the hospital.

The night of the attack, Harrouff was out to dinner with his parents at Duffy’s Sports Grill in Jupiter with his parents. Harrouff left the restaurant, his father said, and went to his mother’s house. There he attempted to drink cooking oil, according to his father.

Afterward, Harrouff’s mother, Mina, brought him back to the restaurant. There, Harrouff’s father became upset with his son and grabbed him by the collar.

It’s unclear if there was a fight, but surveillance video from the restaurant shows Harrouff eventually leave, walking calmly out of the restaurant. He then made his way to Stevens and Mishcon’s home, about four miles north along Island Way.

What happened when Harrouff reached the garage?

The Sheriff’s Office said the teen may have ingested something “caustic” in the couple’s garage.

“There were things he could have consumed, and that first night at the hospital, the hospital speculated based on what they were seeing in his body fluids, that perhaps he had ingested something caustic from the garage,” Snyder said.

The blood test results “will provide a big piece of the unknown,” Snyder said.

What happens when Harrouff is released from the hospital?

As soon as Harrouff is released from St. Mary’s Medical Center, the Sheriff’s Office said it will charge him with two counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.

Man sentenced to 40 years for pouring boiling water on gay couple

The man who poured boiling water on a same-sex couple because he didn’t approve of the relationship was sentenced to 40 years in prison Wednesday afternoon.

Martin Blackwell, 48, was found guilty on all 10 counts, including aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

The jury deliberated about 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon before announcing the verdict.

>> Read more trending stories

In closing arguments, Blackwell’s attorney argued he wasn’t being hateful or malicious when he poured boiling water on a same-sex couple as they slept.

“It’s one act,” attorney Monique Walker told the jury. “It caused injury. It was distasteful, it was disrespectful. But it was not deadly. It was not intentional.”

The prosecutor painted a starkly different picture. Blackwell did intend to hurt Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert, and was methodical and malicious, assistant district attorney Fani Willis told the jury.

On Feb. 12, Blackwell heated water in a pot until it boiled and poured it on Gooden and Tolbert, causing severe burns to both men, police said. Prosecutors contend the attack was premeditated.

Related: Police: Man pours boiling water on gay couple in bed

“You don’t have the right to hurt because you don’t like how they live their life,” Fani Willis, assistant district attorney, told the jurors.

Blackwell’s case was sent to the jury early afternoon.

Instead of numerous felonies with which he is charged, Blackwell should be convicted only of battery, Walker told the jurors.

“It was reckless, it was revolting. It was repugnant,” she said. “But it’s not 10 counts in an indictment. It’s not bringing in the kitchen sink.”

It was literally under a kitchen sink where Blackwell searched for the largest pot and filled it with water, Willis said. The scalding water required both men undergo skin graft surgeries, prosecutors said. Gooden spent nearly a month in the hospital, including two weeks in a medically induced coma, and Tolbert spent 10 days in the hospital.

“It is a felony. And it’s a felonious act,” Willis said. “And he earned every count in the indictment”

Blackwell declined to testify during his trial. He showed no emotion as the verdict and sentencing were read.

French tourism declines amid fears of terrorism

France is facing potentially more than $1 billion in lost revenue this year because of huge declines in tourism.

Safety concerns have been one of the biggest reasons why the country has lost over $850,000 in revenue already in the first six months of 2016.

The terror attacks in Paris last November were called Europe's worst in the past decade.

Terrorist attacks in Nice and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray followed.

Besides violence, workers' strikes and floods are said to have played a part in international tourists' decisions to stay away.

So far in the Paris region, there has been a 46 percent decline in Japanese visitors, 35 percent fewer Russians and 27 percent fewer Italians.

American travelers seem the least affected. Their numbers have dropped by roughly 5 percent.

France might have one advantage with Americans. As those in the U.S. plan their trips, they are said to be considering more expensive destinations, which, from their perspective, could offer better protection.

According to the French government, the country is the No. 1 tourist destination in the world, and tourism is extremely important to the French economy. The sector represents roughly 9 percent of its GDP.

"It's time to realize that the tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster," the head of Paris' tourism board said.

7 marijuana myths you may believe are true

To toke or not to toke; that has become the question across the United States as attitudes about marijuana use continue to shift and cities and states determine whether to decriminalize the drug. Memphis on Tuesday became the latest American city to take the first step toward decriminalizing marijuana, even as the federal government earlier this month opted to keep pot listed as a Schedule I drug – lumped in with dangerous and potentially deadly drugs like heroin, ecstasy and LSD. Meanwhile, support for legalizing the drug is at an all-time high, according to a study conducted in March by the Chicago-based Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that found that 61 percent of those U.S. residents surveyed were in favor of making pot legal.

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Proponents on both sides of the issue have all made their arguments. Unfortunately, many of those arguments are based on myths and tall tales that have gathered around the subject like, well, like a cloud of smoke. Here are seven myths that you may or may not have heard about marijuana: Myth: Driving while high on marijuana is as bad as driving while drunk Fact: Driving while high on pot is not as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Time reported last year that researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have found no evidence to support claims that drivers under the influence of pot are significantly more likely to crash. See the results of that survey here. Myth: Marijuana kills brain cells Fact: A study released in 2015 by the Journal of Neuroscience debunked a previous study that claimed regular marijuana use causes abnormalities in the brains of adolescents and adults. According to the researchers, they were unable to replicate that study, which was published in April 2014 by Northwestern University. Myth: Marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads to use of more dangerous illegal substances Fact: The Institute of Medicine found that, while many users of drugs like heroin or cocaine do use marijuana prior to trying the harder drugs, there does not appear to be a causal link. Instead, marijuana is a typical precursor to heavier drug use because it is the most widely used illegal drug. IOM researchers also state that marijuana is rarely the first “gateway drug” in the chain of events that leads to heavy drug use. That title goes instead to underage smoking and alcohol use. Research has also shown that, while users can become physically dependent on marijuana, the symptoms of withdrawal are much milder. While marijuana users who stop smoking may suffer irritability and a slightly elevated heart rate, those who are withdrawing alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines could suffer everything from elevated heart rate and blood pressure to hallucinations, seizures and even death. Myth: Marijuana causes more damage to a person’s lungs than cigarettes Fact: Researchers with the University of California San Francisco and the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that, while long-term, heavy marijuana use could take a toll on a person’s lungs, the air-flow rate of a person’s breathing actually increases with increased exposure to marijuana – up to a certain level. The reason, the researchers said, is likely due to the difference in the number of joints marijuana smokers consume versus the number of cigarettes a typical smoker consumes on a daily basis. Myth: Marijuana cures anxiety in people Fact: While this myth might actually hold some truth for some people, research has found that marijuana has the opposite effect on the majority of users. A 2014 study authored by a Vanderbilt University professor found cannabinoid receptors in a part of the brain that regulates anxiety and a person’s flight-or-fight response. The study found that, while marijuana’s cannabinoids can reduce anxiety, chronic use “down-regulates” those receptors and paradoxically increases anxiety Myth: You can overdose on marijuana Fact: Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook. Remember those cannabinoid receptors? According to the National Cancer Institute, those receptors – unlike a person’s opioid receptors – are not located on the body’s brain stem that controls respiration. In other words, while taking too many painkillers can slow a person’s respiration so much that they die, that cannot happen with marijuana. Myth: The munchies are not real Fact: Though one argument against marijuana use for malnourished cancer patients is that the “munchies” are a figment of the imagination, science has proven that argument wrong. Smithsonian Magazine reported in 2014 that research has shown that THC fits into the receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, a neural structure involved in the sense of smell. What that means for pot smokers is that marijuana significantly increases their sense of smell and taste, which leads them to eat more food after smoking.

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