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The Possible Health Benefits of Mistletoe?

The Possible Health Benefits of Mistletoe?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Leave it to medical researchers to find something about mistletoe that has nothing to do with kissing. The traditional plant that people hang in their homes at Christmastime may one day keep your liver healthy.In a report published on the website Science Daily, researchers say a compound produced by a particular variety of the plant -- Korean mistletoe -– may help fight obesity-related liver disease in mice.That particular mistletoe contains a number of biologically active compounds, including steroids, flavonoids and viscothionin.When the researchers treated obese mice with viscothionin, their body and liver weights dropped.The researchers say more work is needed, but viscothionin may one day be useful in fighting fatty liver disease, which is linked to obesity and can progress to liver failure in some cases.

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The Possible Health Benefits of Mistletoe?

The Possible Health Benefits of Mistletoe?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Leave it to medical researchers to find something about mistletoe that has nothing to do with kissing. The traditional plant that people hang in their homes at Christmastime may one day keep your liver healthy.In a report published on the website Science Daily, researchers say a compound produced by a particular variety of the plant -- Korean mistletoe -– may help fight obesity-related liver disease in mice.That particular mistletoe contains a number of biologically active compounds, including steroids, flavonoids and viscothionin.When the researchers treated obese mice with viscothionin, their body and liver weights dropped.The researchers say more work is needed, but viscothionin may one day be useful in fighting fatty liver disease, which is linked to obesity and can progress to liver failure in some cases.

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The Couple that Tries to Lose Weight Together May Not Lose Weight Together

The Couple that Tries to Lose Weight Together May Not Lose Weight Together

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two brains are better than one when it comes to tackling certain things, but a new study indicates that when it comes to weight loss, a person’s chance of shedding pounds is greater when they don’t team up with a partner.In a study published in the journal Eating Behaviors, researchers assessed 50 overweight duos who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, and found those who dieted together generally failed separately.The researchers found that when a person was successful in regulating his or her diet and was able to eat healthier, that made their partner less confident in controlling his or her own food portions.According to study author Jennifer Jill Harman, people “feel less confident achieving their goals when they see others succeeding at the same goals.”For heterosexual couples, comparing weight loss can be even more frustrating, especially for women. Research at the Mayo Clinic has found that men tend to lose weight and keep it off easier than women because guys have more muscle, which helps burn off more calories and increase their metabolism.

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The Couple that Tries to Lose Weight Together May Not Lose Weight Together

The Couple that Tries to Lose Weight Together May Not Lose Weight Together

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two brains are better than one when it comes to tackling certain things, but a new study indicates that when it comes to weight loss, a person’s chance of shedding pounds is greater when they don’t team up with a partner.In a study published in the journal Eating Behaviors, researchers assessed 50 overweight duos who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, and found those who dieted together generally failed separately.The researchers found that when a person was successful in regulating his or her diet and was able to eat healthier, that made their partner less confident in controlling his or her own food portions.According to study author Jennifer Jill Harman, people “feel less confident achieving their goals when they see others succeeding at the same goals.”For heterosexual couples, comparing weight loss can be even more frustrating, especially for women. Research at the Mayo Clinic has found that men tend to lose weight and keep it off easier than women because guys have more muscle, which helps burn off more calories and increase their metabolism.

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Boko Haram Suspected of Kidnapping 200 Villagers in Nigeria

Boko Haram Suspected of Kidnapping 200 Villagers in Nigeria

KNS/AFP/Getty Images(GUMSURI, Nigeria) — The Islamic militant group Boko Haram reportedly kidnapped nearly 200 Nigerian villagers and killed dozens more this week.A witness and a local vigilante group said Thursday that the village of Gumsuri had been raided two days earlier by insurgents driving pickup trucks and firing heavy machine guns, according to the Wall Street Journal.According to the report, one vigilante said 191 women, girls, and young boys had been kidnapped, and 31 villagers killed.The Nigerian government said Thursday it was trying to confirm the kidnapping. “In this regard, the government has not given up and will not give up in the search and rescue efforts” for all Boko Haram captives, said government spokesman Mike Omeri.The village of Gumsuri is on the same road that leads to Chibok, the village where Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls back in in April.Meanwhile, a Nigerian military court on Wednesday sentenced 54 soldiers to death for mutiny after they reportedly refused to participate in an operation against Boko Haram.Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer representing the men, said five other soldiers tried in the court-martial had been acquitted.The convicted soldiers are to be executed by firing squad.

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Nicki Minaj Becomes the Face of Roberto Cavalli

Nicki Minaj Becomes the Face of Roberto Cavalli

ABC/Lou Rocco(LOS ANGELES) -- Nicki Minaj has landed a new endorsement. The rapper has become the new face of fashion designer Roberto Cavalli's spring/summer 2015 advertising campaign.In tribal-inspired images shot by photographer Francesco Carrozzini, Minaj exudes the "strong sensuality" that Cavalli was seeking for his campaign."I chose Nicki Minaj because she embodies the exuberant and modern femininity of the Cavalli woman. In recent years we have become accustomed to women castigated in clothes that hide their body shapes," Cavalli said in a statement. "With this campaign, I wanted to send a strong countertrend message. I wanted a sensual woman who is aware of her body -- who is not afraid to show her curves. Instead, she makes them her strength."The rapper expressed her gratitude on Instagram. "I am so honored to be the face of the new #RobertoCavalliSS15 campaign. #NickiForCavalli," she wrote.

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Movie Review: “Annie” (Rated PG)

Movie Review: “Annie” (Rated PG)

"Annie" - Sony/Columbia(NEW YORK) — An updated musical that already feels dated. Sony’s terrible week is probably about to get worse, because given the train wreck that is its new movie, Annie, I can’t imagine people will be flocking to theaters to catch this updated musical. I’ll skip the jokes about how the hackers should have tried to get Annie pulled, not The Interview, because you can’t go three seconds on Twitter without a similar punchline popping up in your feed. But yeah, Annie’s pretty bad. And it’s bad from the start. The opening musical number, in which our title character (played by youngest Oscar-nominee ever, Quvenzhane Wallis) tries to coax her classroom into clapping to the beat while she sings a school report, is one of those moments that just feels so forced, you’re embarrassed watching it. When people say they don’t like musicals because they feel it’s unnatural and uncomfortable when characters break into song, they’re talking about scenes like this. And it only gets better from there. And by better, I mean worse. In this version, Annie isn’t stuck in an orphanage. Instead, she lives in a pretty nice apartment in Harlem with four other foster kids. They all share one big room with bunk beds, and it kind of seems like every night is a sleep-over party. Through a series of contrived events that just don’t matter, Annie meets billionaire businessman Will Stacks (Jaime Foxx), who decides having Annie live with him would help his mayoral campaign. So the two team up. Wallis, of whom I was a big fan in Beasts of the Southern Wild, seems to have one gear for most of this movie: “charmingly optimistic.” Nothing fazes her version of Annie, to the point where you almost want to grab her and say, “Hey kid, it’s OK to be depressed. You’re an orphan stuck being raised by a witch. Your life kind of sucks.” Her singing is decent, though, and she and Jaime Foxx have good chemistry. I can’t wait to see them together again -- just hopefully not in the sequel of this movie. In fact, it’s the middle of the movie, where Annie and Will Stacks are building their bond, that’s the most enjoyable. There are some fun exchanges between the two, and a very funny satire on the Twilight franchise (yes, you read that right) that’s so good it almost seems out of place. Bonding along with them is Rose Byrne (Neighbors, Bridesmaids), who plays Stacks’ right-hand-gal, Grace, and when she, Wallis and Foxx are on screen in any combination there does tend to be a lot of charm. Another bright spot is Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Wolf of Wall Street). Here she plays an Eastern European social worker and steals every scene. But sadly, those are the only bright spots amid 118 minutes of darkness. Early on in the film, Ms. Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz, tells one of her foster kids, “Take it down a notch, no one’s going to believe you.” That’s the perfect line to sum up her performance as an alcoholic, washed-up singer who takes in kids just for the government checks. Diaz is so over the top, you have to wonder if director Will Gluck was maybe on a coffee break during her scenes, or perhaps he just didn’t feel comfortable telling the star to tone it down. The acting is hardly the main problem with Annie, though. Most of the blame has to go to the script. In a good musical, songs enter the scene organically – here, they almost always feel crow-barred in. The tone is all over the place: sometimes it’s an over-the-top farce, sometimes it’s a movie of the week, and somehow, it all devolves into an action flick. Also, the updated references take a timeless story and turn it into a dated mess. Sure, the Twilight bit works, but a joke about 1990s dance-pop group C+C Music Factory just tries way too hard. This Annie is trying to be cool, and if you’re trying to be cool, you’re probably not. That said, Annie isn’t aimed at me, a single guy in his mid-30s. It’s aimed at kids and their parents, and in my screening, there were plenty of those.  The kids did seem to laugh in the right spots, though they never joined in singing the songs. Afterward, one of those kids was debating her movie score with her mom, deciding between a seven and an eight. So if you have to go see Annie, chances are your kids will be entertained, even if you’re not. Two out of five stars.

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50 Cent Inks $78 Million Underwear Deal

50 Cent Inks $78 Million Underwear Deal

Charles Sykes/Bravo(NEW YORK) -- 50 Cent says he has signed a $78 million deal with Frigo Revolution Wear to promote a brand of upmarket men's underwear.The rapper announced the news via Instagram earlier this week posting a picture of himself with a caption that read, "I just did a deal for $78 million for underwear. What did you [expletive] do today?"

He followed up with an image of himself sitting on his kitchen counter, eating toast with a stacks of cash on his plate. "For the life of me I can't figure out why someone wouldn't like me. All I'm doing is minding my business," he wrote. During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, the mogul explained more about the deal.

"It’s $100 at Neiman Marcus. These $100 underwear were actually hand-created and actually hand-stitched," 50 Cent said. "They have a technology in ‘em where you can put your man apples."The multi-million dollar deal is not the rapper's first big dollar non-musical business move -- he reportedly earned approximately $100 million from the 2007 sale of his stake in VitaminWater.

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Jay Cutler Benched

Jay Cutler Benched Nick Laham/Getty Images(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- Jay Cutler will be the backup quarterback when the Chicago Bears host the Detroit Lions Sunday. Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced Thursday that Jimmy Clausen would start over the NFL's highest-paid offensive player on Sunday.

Cutler just signed a seven-year, $126.7 million contract with the Bears this past off-season.

"Certainly it was not an easy decision," Trestman said. "In my mind those types of decisions never are. As I told our team today, this doesn't void us of our offensive struggles that we have or the team struggles that we have by making this change. And I think our guys are well aware of that. But for the present moment, I think this is in the best interest of our football team." It may be true. The 31-year-old Cutler currently leads the NFL with 24 turnovers. The Bears are also one of only four teams that hasn't scored at least 30 points in a game this season -- the Jaguars, Raiders, and Titans are the others.

Now Clausen, who is 1-9 as a starter in the NFL, takes over. "I think we need a lift at quarterback. I think we need a spark," Trestman said. "The weight of the world should not be on Jimmy Clausen. He's going to get an opportunity to play and I'm hoping that against a very, very good defense there will be some response from our football team."

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The Colbert Report Signs Off

The Colbert Report Signs OffComedy Central(NEW YORK) -- After nine years of truthiness, justice, and the American Way, Stephen Colbert signed off as the host of Comedy Central's award winning spoof news show The Colbert Report. Colbert launched his show on October 17, 2005, ...

‘The Colbert Report’ Signs Off

‘The Colbert Report’ Signs Off Comedy Central After nine years of truthiness, justice, and the American Way, Stephen Colbert signed off as the host of Comedy Central's award winning spoof news show The Colbert ReportColbert launched his show on October 17, 2005, after spending seve...

Celtics Send Rondo to Mavericks

Celtics Send Rondo to Mavericks

NBA via Boston Celtics(NEW YORK) -- The Boston Celtics traded point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, and a future first and second round pick, the teams announced Thursday.

"My time in Boston has meant so much," Rondo tweeted. "I've grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal And supportive fans in the league is unmatched. I look forward to building something special in Dallas."

The Celtics will also send forward Dwight Powell to the Mavericks and will waive center Vitor Faverani. The C's also receive a $12.9 million trade exception.

"We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.The 28-year-old Rondo is in the final year of his current contract and is averaging a league high 10.8 assists per game this season.With Rondo the Mavericks (19-8) would get a pure point guard to help deliver the ball to current starters Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler, and Chandler Parsons.

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White House Considering ‘Range of Options’ in Responding to Sony Hack

White House Considering ‘Range of Options’ in Responding to Sony Hack

Jim Dorian/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House will consider a "range of options" in dealing with the Sony hack, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.Earnest would not speculate on the eventual White House response, saying, "I would acknowledge that an appropriate response is something that is not always obvious, but it's something that's worthy of careful consideration." The president's national security team continues to consider their options carefully, Earnest said."I don't anticipate that we'll be in a position where we're going to be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon," Earnest added.Earnest would not discuss who would eventually be deemed responsible for the hack, though he did say that Obama "considers it to be a serious national security matter."

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Uber to Implement New Policies with Eye on Safety

Uber to Implement New Policies with Eye on Safety

QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a blog post on Thursday, ride-sharing company Uber announced that it would implement new policies in an attempt to increase safety.In the post, titled "Our Commitment to Safety," Uber says it will implement technology in ways that will "ensure the safety of riders and drivers." The company mentions plants to research and develop "biometrics and voice verification" to enhance driver screening. They also hope to give riders the ability to communicate both with Uber and with their loved ones in the case of an emergency.Uber also says it will explore new methods of screening drivers, including the use of scientific analysis and technology. Similar methods, the company says, are being undertaken in India, where earlier this month a woman was allegedly raped by an Uber driver.Tim Collins, a former executive at Amazon, will join the company to lead their Global Support department, the company announced. The goal of that department will be to continue to evolve customer service and build Safety Incident Response teams around the world.Finally, the company "will be working with partners that have deep expertise in issues like women's safety, conflict resolution, and road safety" and incorporate their recommendations into the Uber plan. In addition to the India case, in November a New York woman claimed she was harassed by a driver for canceling a ride.Uber also faces a lawsuit filed by prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles alleging the company is breaking rules and made false and misleading statements about background checks conducted on drivers.

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Obama Signs Order Creating Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Obama Signs Order Creating Task Force on 21st Century PolicingOfficial White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed an order on Thursday that officially created the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.Obama had announced on Dec. 1 that he would take this step. The task force will convene ...

Australia Police Investigating After Eight Children Found Dead

Australia Police Investigating After Eight Children Found Dead

Global_Pics/iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRNS, Australia) -- Police are investigating after eight children were found dead in a home in Manoora, Australia, Friday morning.Police were called to the home at about 11:20 a.m. local time after receiving reports of a woman with serious injuries. When they arrived at the scene, they found the children, ages 18 months to 15 years old, dead. The woman, believed to be in her 30s, was treated for her injuries and was assisting police in their investigation.According to BBC News, police did not say whether they had made any arrests in the case.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 12/18/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 12/18/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars 21 (3-12) – Tennessee Titans 13 (2-13)

NBA: Chicago Bulls 103 (16-9) – New York Knicks 97 (5-23)

New Orleans Pelicans 99 (13-12) – Houston Rockets 90 (19-6)

Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (2) Duke 66 (10-0) – Connecticut 56 (4-4)

(6) Virginia 70 (10-0) – Cleveland State 54 (5-6)

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes 4 (9-19-3; 21pts) – Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (19-10-3; 41pts)

Florida Panthers 2 (14-8-8; 36pts) – Philadelphia Flyers 1 (11-14-6; 28pts) SO

Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (21-6-4; 46pts) – Colorado Avalanche 0 (10-13-8; 28pts) OT

Washington Capitals 5 (15-10-6; 36pts) – Columbus Blue Jackets 4 (13-15-3; 29pts) OT

Anaheim Ducks 2 (22-7-5; 49pts) – Montreal Canadiens 1 (20-11-2; 42pts)

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America Conducted Fewest Executions Since 1994

America Conducted Fewest Executions Since 1994

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Death Penalty Information Center on Thursday released its annual report, which found that America conducted the fewest executions in 20 years in 2014.The report says that just 35 executions took place in 2014 in seven states, the smallest number of people put to death since 1994. Also in 2014, only 72 people received death sentences, the smallest number in the 40 years of the modern death penalty.Three states -- Texas, Missouri and Florida -- accounted for 80 percent of the country's executions.

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Ohio Supreme Court Says Traffic Camera Can Stay

Ohio Supreme Court Says Traffic Camera Can Stay

Timothy Epp/iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The Supreme Court of Ohio on Thursday upheld the city of Toledo's automated traffic camera system used to catch drivers who run red lights or commit speeding violations.According to the court documents, the court heard arguments from an Ohio man who claimed that the policy "usurps the jurisdiction of the municipal court, is unconstitutionally vague and violates due process." The crux of the complaint is that the appeal process through which a motorist would have to go if they were to contest a camera-issued ticket is established by the Toledo Police Department. The state supreme court says that the Toledo law "does not offend...the Ohio Constitution" and that cities are within their rights to establish automated ticketing systems.Three justices wrote a dissenting opinion, arguing that the city council did not have the power to limit a municipal court's jurisdiction, as they believe the Toledo system does.

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Parents Should Buy Teens Newer, Safer Cars

Parents Should Buy Teens Newer, Safer Cars

dolgachov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Parents buying their teenage children cars should open up their wallet and opt for a new car instead of a used one, researchers say.A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and published in the journal Injury Prevention, looked at national data on drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 and drivers aged 35 to 50 who were killed in car accidents. The biggest difference, the study found, was the age of the cars.An overwhelming majority -- 82 percent -- of the teenagers killed in crashes were driving vehicles that were more than six years old. Even more striking, 48 percent were driving vehicles 11 years old or older.Those older cars, researchers say, were less likely to have safety features, such as electronic stability control and side air bags, which might have cut the rate of teens killed in crashes. In fact, researchers say, the rate of fatal crashes for teens is about three times that for adult drivers.

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