February 25, 2014

Olympian Oscar Pistorius appears in court to be indicted on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition for the death of his girlfriend in Pretoria, South Africa.     Photo: Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

Watch Pistorius Trial on TV

Athlete heads to court Monday

Viewers will be able to watch at least part of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on television thanks to a high court ruling Tuesday.

It’s the first time cameras will be allowed in a South African criminal trial, according to CNN. The catch? Testimony from Pistorius won’t be shown, according to the judge.  

The trial starts next Monday, March 3, more than a year after the South African athlete killed his girlfriend, model and law school graduate Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, a double-amputee Olympic running superstar, doesn’t deny shooting Steenkamp. He says he mistook her for a home invader when he turned the gun on her in the bathroom of his home in Pretoria. Since that time, Pistorius has kept a low profile, although he did release a statement on the anniversary of Steenkamp’s death.

"No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved—and continues to love Reeva," he wrote on his website.

A South African television news station bought the rights to broadcast the trial and will launch a 24-hour channel exclusively dedicated to the event.  

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Strawberries—they help your cholesterol.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Why Your Diet Fails

A friend's drunken offer to chow down at Taco Bell? Irresistible.

We've all been there. After a week of stringently healthy living—rising at the crack of dawn to jog and avoiding greasy temptations—you're out with your best friends on a Friday night. A couple beers and a couple hours later, you find yourself wolfing down chalupas—or, maybe, breakfast food—at Taco Bell. The greasy mystery meat hits your stomach. You never stood a chance.

If it makes you feel any better, dietary lapses hardly indicate personal shortcomings, according to a new study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine. In fact, when scientists tempted dieters to indulge—in what might be one of the more irritating experiments on record—participants lapsed more than half of the time. Human willpower is no match for the presence of friends, late-night cravings, or alcoholic temptations, the researchers found.

Participants tracked their dietary temptations using a mobile phone app that helped the scientists create an "ecological momentary assessment" of urges and lapses. They found that people are more vulnerable to lapses at night and that stronger temptations increase the likelihood of giving in. But participants in the study also said the mobile app made them more aware of their struggles, so the study suggests that dieters could use similar apps in the future to bolster their self-confidence.

If you think a mobile app to help you diet sounds hokey, there's also some good old-fashioned evidence supporting healthy diets that might sway you. A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association not only linked vegetarian diets to lower blood pressure, but also found that a transition to vegetarianism can correct high blood pressure. However, researchers say they'll need more research to determine which aspects of vegetarianism help blood pressure most.

Think twice about dessert, too. Instead of that fried Twinkie, opt for a big bowl of strawberries—findings published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry determined that the fruit lowers cholesterol. But prepare to pig out, because each participant in the study ate more than a pound a day of the tasty fruit.

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Gabriele Grunewald finishing the 3,000-meter race on Saturday.     Photo: Courtesy Track & Field Photo

Grunewald Declared 3K Winner—Again

Controversy amid her DQ at indoor track championships

Typically, the runner who comes in first wins the race, but Gabriele Grunewald never anticipated fighting red tape after breaking the finishing tape at the U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships last weekend.

After dominating the women's 3,000-meter race on Saturday, Grunewald went from winner to disqualified to reinstated as winner.

Grunewald won the 3,000 meter in 9:23.15—two seconds before runner-up Shannon Rowbury, followed by Jordan Hasay. But due to some clipping between Hasay and Grunewald during the race, Nike-affiliated Alberto Salazar (Hasay and Rowbury's coach) filed a complaint to have Grunewald disqualified. USATF, the sport's governing body, rejected his protest. Salazar appealed, and again he was rejected.

But hours later, in an unexpected overruling of its own ruling, USATF disqualified Grunewald.

The running community called foul, concluding that Salazar's—and Nike's—influence unfairly swayed the outcome.

"If you don't think lots of people in the sport are indirectly intimidated or influenced by the financial might of Nike, then you don't understand how things work," wrote LetsRun.com editors.

Because only the top two athletes who had already achieved the IAAF qualifying standard were named to the world championships, Hasay, finishing 4th, was named to the team. #FreeGabe began trending on Twitter. Event spectators penned the words in permanent markers on their shirts for the rest of the meet. After the women's 1500-meter race, several women racers joined hands and walked 100 meters in solidarity in silent protest.

Then, on Monday, USATF CEO Max Siegel met with representatives of Grunewald and Hasay, and Hasay released a statement that she would withdraw her protest—resolving the conflict and reinstating Grunewald.

"Since Saturday evening my emotions have ranged from despair to determination to go to Poland and represent my country as best I can," Hasay's statement reads. "After much thought and consideration, however, I have decided to withdraw my protest as I do not want to make a national team under these circumstances."

Grunewald will represent the United States at the World Indoor Championships next month in Sopot, Poland.

"Paul Doyle of DMG went above & beyond his duties as my agent to correct this situation. He is the guy you want in your foxhole!" Grunewald tweeted Monday.

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Will Washington be able to keep up with the demand for aroma hops?     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hops Shortage Threatens Craft Brewers

Drink up before it’s too late.

During the past several years, craft breweries have been cropping up nationwide at an incredible rate. In 2013, 2,500 craft breweries spanned the country—nearly 500 more than just two years previously. Now farmers in Washington are wondering if their hops will keep up with demand.

Although the state with the highest concentration of microbreweries per capita is Vermont, Washington produces 79 percent of the country's hops—about 54.9 million pounds in 2013—according to the USDA.

Demand for aroma hops over the more common alpha hops, combined with warmer summer temperatures in desertlike eastern Washington, means breweries might soon be rationing their batches, reports the Seattle Times

Craft brews currently make up only 10 percent of the beer market, but that percentage is expected to rise dramatically. Add that to a surge of interest in home brewing and the potential for a hops shortage in the future just might drive you to drink (for a while, at least).

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Manú National Park is home to 120 lizard species and eight turtle species.     Photo: webguzs/Thinkstock

Peru Park Crowned Biodiversity Champ

Nearly 300 reptile and amphibian species

Manú National Park in southeastern Peru has been crowned the planet's new champion of reptile and amphibian biodiversity. Dethroning Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, Manú contains at least 132 species of reptiles and 155 species of amphibians.

Manú National Park covers roughly .01 percent of Earth’s land surface but holds more than 2 percent of its amphibians and 1.5 percent of its reptiles. The journal Biota Neotropica published the park’s species count, which includes nine species that are new to science.

Although the 5,800-square-mile park is a star of biodiversity success, many of the species are threatened with extinction. The two leading concerns are deforestation for oil and farms, and a unique and deadly fungus that can kill many frogs and amphibians.

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