• Buy this, not that: 11 holiday gifts to avoid (and 11 awesome alternatives)

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    Your gift recipients may think they want the latest 4K TV, smartwatch, or iPhone, but you don’t have to break the bank to deliver top-notch presents. Let’s face it. There’s always going to be that one person on your gift list who asks for bleeding-edge tech or the latest fashions. Giving in to the demands of these holiday budget hijackers can disrupt your entire present-buying mojo. But don’t send in those donations to the Human Fund just yet; we’ve rounded up 11 awesome alternatives to in-demand items that are either less expensive, or just provide a much better value for your dollar — and your giftee. —Buy a 1080p TV instead of a 4K TV Buying a TV for someone is incredibly generous already, so spending t

  • Review: PicoBrew Zymatic, the beer brewing robot

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    It’s hard to stop thinking about beer when you’re living with a beer robot. Knowing that the robot is standing by, ready to brew a batch on demand, you start to see ingredients everywhere you turn. What elixir could it produce if you fed it gingerbread, rose hips or perhaps a handful of pine needles? In reality, the robot spends a lot of time idle because there’s only so much beer you can produce and consume in a single-family home. But it’s still thrilling to have it brew on your behalf, without having to spend a day hovering around a stove trying to precisely mix, boil and soak ingredients.

  • Here are more gift ideas to keep the people in your life well-connected

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    Well, we’ve reached the end of our 2014 Christmas Gift Guides. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. I hope you’re at least partially finished with your shopping. (I’m certainly not.) This is the third installment, and we’ve got something for everyone. Connected by TCP What it is: A smart lighting system with LED bulbs and a small hub you connect to your network at home. You can then use your smartphone to control the bulbs. Turn them on or off or adjust the brightness from wherever you are — at home or across the country. Control up to 250 bulbs from one hub. Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to get started with home automation or just control lights from a smartphone from anywher

  • AMC, Regal movie theaters won't show 'The Interview,' terrorist threats cited

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — AMC, Regal movie theaters won't show 'The Interview,' terrorist threats cited.

  • Irked Italy: marine too ill to return to India

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    ROME (AP) — Diplomatic tensions between Italy and India are rising after Italy said a marine who suffered a stroke while detained in India for a 2012 shooting death was too ill to be sent back there. Two Italian ministers said Wednesday that the marine, who was allowed to return from India earlier this year for treatment, still needs medical care in Italy, deepening the dispute over the shooting of two Indian fishermen. Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said "conditions aren't there" for Massimiliano Latorre to return to India as Indian authorities demand. Latorre is one of two Italian marines who were detained by India while assigned to anti-piracy duty aboard an Italian cargo ship. The Italians have said the fisherme

  • Stanford aims to bring player pianos back to life

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano, which brought recorded music into living rooms long before there were cassettes, compact discs or iPods. Stanford researchers have launched an ambitious effort to restore and study instruments known as reproducing pianos that recorded major composers performing their own work in the early 20th century. "This technology of the reproducing piano was really astonishing to people at the time because they could hear major pianists playing music exactly the way they played in performance," said Jerry McBride, head music librarian at Stanford.

  • AP Exclusive: Sydney hostage planned daring escape

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    SYDNEY (AP) — The siege at the Sydney cafe had been going on for more than five hours and 82-year-old John O'Brien had become convinced the gunman was insane and they would likely all end up dead. And so he made a decision, one he knew came with a cost: he was going to try to escape. O'Brien — a former professional tennis player who played at Wimbledon — looked at the gunman who was at the other end of the cafe, barricaded behind tables and chairs. The man had forced two or three young women to stand in front of him as human shields, so police snipers couldn't take shots at him. O'Brien glanced up at Stefan Balafoutis, a lawyer, who was standing, as ordered, with his hands against the window. The younger man had h

  • Churchill painting sells for record $2.8 million

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — A painting by Winston Churchill of the fishpond at his rural home has sold for just under 1.8 million pounds ($2.8 million), almost double the previous record for his work. "The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell" surpassed the 1 million pounds paid at auction in 2007 for another painting by Britain's World War II prime minister. The painting was a star lot at a Sotheby's sale Wednesday of possessions of Churchill's daughter, Mary Soames, who died in May. History-minded collectors snapped up several pieces for well over their estimated value. A red ministerial briefcase from Churchill's time in Cabinet sold for 158,500 pounds ($249,083). Its upper pre-sale estimate had been 7,000 pounds. A signed photo to

  • 1st Florida gay divorce granted by judge

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The first formal divorce for a gay couple in Florida history was granted Wednesday by a Broward County judge who used the case to join other judges in declaring the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Circuit Judge Dale Cohen on Wednesday dissolved the marriage of Heather Brassner and Megan Lade in a brief hearing. They were united in a 2002 civil union in Vermont but Brassner was unable to obtain a divorce in Florida for five years since their relationship ended. "It's like an emotional weight being lifted off," said Brassner, who is from Lake Worth. "I just feel free and I couldn't have gotten a better holiday gift.

  • Civil War veteran's family, some from Oklahoma, fight for Medal of Honor

    By Adam Kemp, Staff Writer | Updated: 1 hr ago

    Descendants of Civil War veteran say nation’s highest military award was bestowed on wrong man. Descendants of David D. White are fighting to right what they consider to be a historical injustice.

  • Oklahoma City veteran remembers plane crash 70 years ago

    By Silas Allen, Staff Writer | Updated: 1 hr ago

    Val Miller, of Oklahoma City, still doesn’t know who fished him out of the Adriatic Sea 70 years ago. He never saw the faces of the two men who pulled him into their boat and took him to safety.

  • Verona's Arena to get $17.5 million restoration

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    MILAN (AP) — Verona's famed Roman amphitheater, home to one of the world's premier opera festivals, will be the first large beneficiary of a new Italian government initiative to encourage private donations to protect cultural treasures. Italian bank Unicredit and the nonprofit foundation CariVerona signed a deal Wednesday with Verona's mayor to restore the arena at a cost of 14 million euros ($17.5 million). The project aims to secure the open-air Verona Arena, the third-largest Roman-era amphitheater to survive antiquity, against erosion from rain, which has damaged the seating areas, stairs and modern-day infrastructure like the electrical system.

  • Kurdish Iraqi forces launch operation in Sinjar

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Kurdish Iraqi forces launched a major operation Wednesday to retake the militant-held town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, part of a push to secure the road that leads directly to the Syrian border. Peshmerga forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, moved into the town, which has been under the control of the Islamic State group since August, a statement from the Kurdish Regional Security Council said. Peshmerga fighters were able to retake at least eight small villages around Sinjar, driving "large numbers" of militants to flee to Mosul and other areas under their control, the statement added. The U.S.

  • 4 indicted in West Virginia chemical spill case

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Four former chemical company executives have been indicted on federal pollution charges over a January spill that triggered a ban on drinking water for days for 300,000 West Virginia residents. The indictment unsealed Wednesday charged ex-Freedom Industries presidents Gary Southern and Dennis P. Farrell and two others with failing to ensure that the company operated the steel storage tank that leaked the coal-cleaning chemical in a reasonable and environmentally sound manner. Southern also faces federal fraud charges related to the company's bankruptcy case. Freedom filed for bankruptcy eight days after the Jan. 9 spill of the chemicals into the Elk River in Charleston.

  • BC-BUSINESS

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NetObjex announces its IoT admin panel complete with intuitive Point & Click beacon content management. Newport Beach, CA (PRWEB) December 17, 2014 -- NetObjex, a leader in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, has announced the NetObjex Admin Panel with Point & Click interface, enabling businesses to easily set up a network of beacons with content in minutes. Enterprises of all sizes and industries can harness the intuitive administration panel for managing beacon content and campaigns. The NetObjex Admin Panel's Point & Click functionality allows beacon managers to set up a beacon and its content in 5 simple steps, saving valuable time. Managers can create and schedule custom notifications for each beacon per zon

  • BlackBerry launches Classic in last-ditch effort

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — BlackBerry is returning to its roots with a new phone that features a traditional keyboard at a time when rival Apple and Android phones — and most smartphone customers — have embraced touch screens. With the Classic, BlackBerry is courting its core customer, the business user. The physical keyboard is something traditional BlackBerry users prefer because they find it easier than touch screens to type with. The company is also emphasizing battery life and security. "A lot of people say the Classic is aiming for loyal customers. And that is true," CEO John Chen said at the gadget's launch event, tellingly held in New York City's Financial District.

  • Fla. parole commission gives 'prison Houdini' hope

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A man known as a "prison Houdini" might finally see freedom after more than 35 years — this time without an elaborate escape. Florida's parole commission voted Wednesday to move Mark DeFriest's potential release date from 2085 to March 2015 in a case his lawyer calls a family matter that got out of hand. DeFriest's father died when he was 19 and left him his mechanic tools. But DeFriest didn't wait for the will to be read before collecting them, using a key he had to his father's shed. His stepmother reported him to the police, and when they questioned him about it, he ran. It didn't help that he had a gun, though he never pulled it. Once in prison, DeFriest kept trying to escape and succeed

  • On Kickstarter, everyone wants to be 'Staff Pick'

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Want your project to get selected as a "Staff Pick" on crowdfunding site Kickstarter? Good luck with that. Entrepreneurs and other users have been seeking the secret to getting their projects selected as a "Staff Pick" — a designation that one of Kickstarter's 98 employees can give a project based on his or her personal tastes. Charming a staffer has perks. Staff Picks can get prime placement on the website, be promoted to Kickstarter's 2 million followers on Facebook and Twitter, or appear in Kickstarter's "Projects We Love" email, which reaches more than 4 million inboxes every week. That promotion can increase donations.

  • Study: Removing clot helps limit stroke disability

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    For the first time in two decades, a new treatment has been shown to limit the damage from a common type of stroke. Researchers in the Netherlands found that mechanically removing a clot in addition to using a standard clot-busting medicine lowered the risk that a stroke sufferer would end up seriously disabled. Most strokes are caused by a clot in a blood vessel supplying the brain. The usual treatment is a clot-dissolving medicine called tPA, but it must be given within four and a half hours after symptoms start, and very few stroke patients seek help in time. So doctors have been trying several devices that can be pushed through blood vessels to mechanically remove the clot.

  • Israel suffers sharp rebuffs from Europe

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    BRUSSELS (AP) — Israel suffered back-to-back diplomatic setbacks in Europe on Wednesday as Palestinians headed to the United Nations to try to set a two-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal. In Geneva, the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying the practice violates Israel's responsibilities as an occupying power. The declaration adopted by the conference of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the rules of war and military occupation, emphasized a prohibition on colonizing occupied land and insisted that international humanitarian law be obeyed in areas affected by the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.