Metro-East News

Pentagon spends $170,000 to study why coffee spills when people walk

If you walk carrying an uncovered cup of coffee, it will probably spill.

To unravel the great mysteries of this phenomenon, the Pentagon gave $170,000 to researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The grant was made through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, whose mission is “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security,” according to The Week.

In a resultant study entitled, “Walking with coffee: Why does it spill?” the scientists found that “in the walking with coffee problem the motions of the human body, while seemingly regular, are quite complex and are coupled to a coffee cup and liquid therein, which makes it difficult to unravel the precise reasons behind coffee spilling.”

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The former director of Phoenix veterans hospitals who was at the center of a 2014 wait-time scandal scored a major legal win this week, shooting down sections of a law allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to quickly fire misbehaving employees, according to Stars and Stripes.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Tuesday that the law fast-tracking firings is unconstitutional because VA employees cannot appeal a final decision by an administrative judge.

Lynch and President Barack Obama’s administration have sided with Sharon Helman, who is suing in federal court over her 2014 termination from the VA for accepting a trip to Disneyland and other gifts.

The decision by Lynch is new evidence of the VA’s faltering efforts to fire executives and employees when it deems them guilty of misconduct. It also undercuts a key reform passed by Congress in the months following the nationwide VA scandal, which erupted after a doctor in Phoenix said veterans were dying while waiting for care at the facilities overseen by Helman.

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Three months ago, Jack Holder, a Pearl Harbor survivor who flew combat missions over Midway and the English Channel during World War II, lost $43,000 in a sweepstakes scam. This week, he got it all back and then some, as Fox News is reporting.

A GoFundMe page created in Holder’s name had raised more than $54,500 as of Thursday morning, surpassing its goal of $50,000.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Holder told the Arizona Republic. “How in the world will I ever repay people for their graciousness?”

In March, Holder, 94, received a phone call telling him he had won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and would receive $4.7 million and a new Mercedes-Benz. All he needed to do was provide some personal information and open up a new bank account.

Days later, the theives made off with the money, which represented nearly all of Holder and his fiancee’s life savings.

“I faced almost five years in combat during the war and made it out alive,” Holder told KSAZ last week. “This is the worst tragedy I’ve ever experienced.”

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A top Belgian official told NBC News Thursday that as many as 100 ISIS fighters who have returned to Belgium from the battlefield in Syria may be planning terror attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Jambon also said, however, that he was not aware of any imminent plot like the twin bombings that killed 32 people in Brussels in March. “We don’t have precise information about a current attack,” Jambon said during a joint press conference with NYPD counterterrorism officials in New York.

Jambon, who is also the nation’s interior minister, said that 300 fighters from Belgium have gone to the Islamic Caliphate in Syria, and 200 have returned. He said that half of the 200 returnees could be “used” to counter the jihadi narrative among other potential Belgian recruits and counsel them against joining the terror group because many have soured on ISIS after witnessing atrocities.

But he also said that he is concerned that the other 100 could be returning with specific terror missions directed by ISIS, and that authorities throughout Europe are on the highest level of alert for these individuals and any plots.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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