TIME World

Landlord Fined for Renting Apartment Only Accessible via Crawling

It cost an arm and two legs

Finding housing is difficult, wherever you are: It’s got to be affordable, located in a moderately convenient area (for your lifestyle), and not completely terrible to inhabit. Of course, those three—extremely broad—categories are flexible depending on one’s immediate need. You’re not gonna worry so much about livability if you really need a place now, right?

In England the situation seems to have come to a head. A British landlord, Yaakov Marom, was fined £1,500 for renting an apartment only accessible by crawling, the BBC reports. The local council fined Marom for having a two-foot high staircase, which was deemed a fire hazard. Apparently this isn’t the first time Marom has tried to rent out this patently uninhabitable space—in November 2012, he was issued a prohibition order that banned the use of the second floor of the house.

The occupants of the apartment were paying £420 per month. Marom was only made to pay £1,420 in costs and a victim surcharge of £120. Which begs the question: If it’s like that across the pond, how bad is it here?

[BBC]

TIME Bizarre

A German Man Was Evicted Because His Sex Swing Was Too Squeaky

A new Swingers club,
Here's an example of one. Rick Madonik—Toronto Star via Getty Images

And you thought your neighbors were bad

It turns out that the only worse thing than having upstairs neighbors who tap dance or have a newborn is living in the same apartment as a man with a very squeaky sex swing (and a very active, um, social life).

A German court ruled Friday that a landlady had the right to evict a tenant who broke his rental agreement of keeping quiet between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. by using his “very old,” loud, chain sex swing, the Associated Press reports. Neighbors filed numerous complaints since the swing’s 2012 installation.

The court said that by using the swing late at night, it “would no longer correspond to normal rental use, and must therefore not be tolerated as socially acceptable,” AP reports.

[AP]

TIME Bizarre

Woman Finds 50,000 Bees Living in Her Ceiling Because Everything Is the Absolute Worst

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Getty Images

As if NYC apartment living wasn't hard enough

New Yorkers are used to finding all kinds of, er, little critters living in their apartments, but pretty much nothing compares to this. A woman in Elmhurst, Queens, began noticing a few bees buzzing around her apartment over the past few weeks — and then eventually learned that there were 50,000 of them living in her ceiling, local ABC affiliate WABC-TV reports.

Fifty. Thousand. Bees. Living. In. Her. Ceiling. Everything. Is. Awful.

“How did they get there? Where did they come from?” the woman, Frieda Turkmenilli, told WABC. “I was shocked.”

Well, yeah. If this happened to us, we’d totally pull a Nic Cage and be all, “NOOOO, NOT THE BEES.”

Anyway, two beekeepers were recruited to come remove the bees and relocate them — along with the 17 (!!!) honeycombs they managed to build — to a bee farm.

So next time you see a roach scuttling beneath your door or a mouse darting behind your fridge, remember: it could be way worse.

TIME NextDraft

Scientists Want to Build a Tomato That Grows 24/7 and Other Fascinating News on the Web

August 22, 2014

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1. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Ten billion. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Providing nourishment to that many people could be a requirement by the end of the century. As The New Yorker’s Michael Specter explains, “sustaining that many people will require farmers to grow more food in the next seventy-five years than has been produced in all of human history … [and] nearly every arable patch of ground has been cultivated, and irrigation for agriculture already consumes seventy per cent of the Earth’s freshwater.” Those factors could turn the ongoing battle over genetically modified foods into an existential debate. Specter digs deep into the issue with a look at an activist’s controversial crusade against genetically modified crops: Seeds of Doubt.

+ Modern Farmer: Scientists try to build a tomato that grows 24 hours a day.

+ And for some lighter fare, McSweeney’s brings you the story of Hirl: “We provide meals that are completely unaffordable and unappealing to people who actually live in this neighborhood.”

2. Mad World

“The propagandists of the Islamic State must have imagined that their brutal video of the beheading of journalist James Foley would intimidate and terrorize the world. But people aren’t built that way, not in Muslim countries or anywhere else. When they see sadistic, uncivilized behavior, they are disgusted — and angry.” WaPo’s David Ignatius on the way the videotaped killing of James Foley could have been ISIS’ biggest tactical mistake.

+ The Daily Beast: ISIS should be careful what it wishes for.

+ Vox: The nine biggest myths about ISIS.

+ In Gaza, Hamas gunmen executed 18 alleged spies “including seven who were lined up behind a mosque with bags over their heads and shot in front of hundreds of people.”

3. Weekend Reads

“Jared Lorenzen and I are in love with the same woman. Her name is Little Debbie, and she makes delicious snack cakes.” ESPN’s Tommy Tomlinson on the NFL QB who shares a problem with millions of Americans. But in his case, his fat went viral.

+ Did the brutal dictator of Zimbabwe raise money from a Wall Street hedge fund to crush his opposition? From BloombergBusinessweek: The Hedge Fund and the Despot.

+ “Hi, if you are reading this then they killed me. I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed talking to you, you seem like a really great lady. I’m sorry we didn’t meet under different circumstances.” Michelle Lyons witnessed more than 278 executions. As Texas Monthly reports, that took a toll: The Witness.

+ And if you missed it earlier in the week, there’s been a lot of buzz about Michael Finkel’s piece in GQ: The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit.

4. Brazilian Whack

Is that you? he asks. It is, but nobody was supposed to know. He’s showing me one of my posts to Secret, the popular anonymous sharing app that lets you confess your darkest secrets to your friends without anyone knowing it’s you.” Wired’s Kevin Poulsen explains why your anonymous posts to Secret aren’t anonymous after all. Maybe next time you’ll have the guts to have someone else say it to my face.

+ Apple has removed the Secret App from its Brazilian store because the Brazilian constitution prohibits anonymous freedom of expression.

+ ReCode: Secret users have started hosting Secret dinner parties, and they are brutal.

5. Push the Pedal to the Settle

Earlier this week, Bank of America was hit with a $17 billion settlement for financial fraud leading up to and during the financial crisis. That’s big. But it’s just their latest. BofA has chocked up nearly $70 billion in penalties. And it’s not over. Just take a look at this remarkable chart.

6. The App Trap

Question: In a typical month, how many apps are downloaded by most smartphone users? Answer according to Quartz. Most smartphone users download zero apps per month. But a small percentage of users download a ton of them.

+ The 25 most popular apps in America.

+ And I’m pretty sure this is related news: These are the 23 most viral cats of all time.

7. Strike the Pose

I just got done with my morning workout. I twisted my torso to enable my hand to grab my wallet, pulled it out, swiped my credit card, and returned the items to my back pocket. Then I did two more sets of that exercise before lunch. It turns out my exercise regimen isn’t all that atypical. Sports apparel sports sales are dramatically outpacing sports participation. The WSJ on the Yoga Poseurs. (Don’t feel bad, Yoga is all about posing.)

+ The legendary yogi B.K.S. Iyengar died at the age of 95. The Atlantic looks back at his amazing life and contortions.

8. Dress for Excess

In a bid to recruit top talent, The White House has reportedly given up on their demand that coders dress like adults. One top coder explained that “he isn’t showing up in a T-shirt, but he’s free to wear a wrinkled button-down and comfortable pants.” (If pants were required of Bay Area coders, there might not even be an Internet.)

9. TV’s Longest Running Gag

Grantland’s James Andrew Miller takes stock of SNL’s marathon man, Lorne Michaels: “Since 1975, of the close to 700 live episodes with his name on them, Michaels has missed exactly zero.”

10. The Bottom of the News

Attention ridiculous parents: The creator of the Your Baby Can Read program has “reached a deal to settle charges that he and his company made baseless pronouncements about the effectiveness of the program and that they misrepresented scientific studies to prove these bogus statements.” The program has pulled in more than $185 million over the years. Dr. Robert Titzer is required to pay $300,000 in penalties. Your baby can’t read, but they can certainly count well enough to figure out who came out ahead in that deal.

+ A photographic look at Meghalaya: The wettest place on Earth. (Don’t feel bad Seattle. You still have the Seahawks and Grunge.)

+ Deep fried tequila shots anyone?

nextdraft

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 11 Fun Photos To Start Your Weekend

From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the World Band Pipe Championships, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME animals

What Life Is Like for America’s Most Famous Panda Cub

Bao Bao is about to celebrate her first birthday—and already she's acting like a moody, rebellious teen.

Bao Bao, the newest giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., turns one year old on Saturday, August 23, but already she’s acting like a moody, rebellious teenager. We caught up with one of her trainers, Nicole MacCorkle, to find out the most surprising and interesting developments in her growth within the last year.

She’s sassy
Bao Bao – which means “precious” or “treasure” in Chinese – doesn’t always listen to her mom Mei Xiang or her teachers. “Sometimes she’s sitting in the tree when we’re trying to get her in at the end of the day, and it’s almost as if she is mocking us, just looking at us like, ‘You can’t reach me,'” she says. “If she doesn’t respond to her mother, she’s not going to respond to us.”

She’s a picky eater

She’s only interested in her mother’s milk and got hooked on grass early – bamboo leaves – at four months, two months earlier than when most baby pandas start eating the plant. When she obeys commands, she’s given cooked sweet potato and “fruitsicles,” frozen apple juice with apple and pear pieces, but “Bao Bao is not really interested in the non-bamboo food,” says MacCorkle. “She doesn’t have a lot of food rewards that she’s overly motivated by, so a lot of the things we would use to train an adult she’s just not that interested in.” After her first birthday, zoo keepers will start bribing her with sweets like honey. For now, they dangle a little white buoy on the end of a pole to motivate her.

She does her own thing

Bao Bao isn’t as social as her brother Tai Shan, the zoo’s first surviving panda cub born in 2005 that is now in the breeding program at Wolong’s Bifengxia Base in Ya’an, Sichuan, China. He would approach the keepers, while Bao Bao is more standoffish, preferring to climb trees, the rock cave in her yard, and walk along the window sill of the indoor exhibit room.

“We’re probably a little less interesting to Bao Bao because we weren’t as novel to her as we were to Tai Shan,” says MacCorkle. “For Tai Shan, we didn’t go into the den area when he was first born and didn’t become a fixture in his environment until he was six months old. But with Bao Bao, we’ve been going in since the very beginning.”

Tai Shan also “clung” to Mei Xiang, so much so that he didn’t want to be weaned, and mom would bark at him to tell him it was time. Mei Xiang lets Bao Bao “have her own space” – unless Bao Bao has a fruitsicle that she wants. Then she’ll just take it. “To produce the milk, she’s looking for any extra calories to consume so she can nourish her baby,” MacCorkle says.

She’s an early riser

Zoo visitors who want to see the youngster when she’s most active should show up at 7:30 a.m. She might be exploring her yard before she climbs up into her tree. But would-be selfie-takers, beware: “I have not seen her react to visitors,” MacCorkle says.

TIME Internet

A New Viral Fundraiser: The ‘Abortion Rights’ Tacos and Beer Challenge

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Soft Chicken Tacos Getty Images

What started as a Twitter joke has turned into another social media funding movement

While it’s unclear what dumping a bucket of ice over your head has to do with ALS research, there is no question that the Ice Bucket Challenge — inspiring $53 million in donations and some 2.4 million videos posted on Facebook — has been incredibly effective and might even change the future of charitable fundraising.

And so, political reporter Andrea Grimes decided to apply this nonlinear, activity-based fundraising ideology to another cause. The directive is simple: Eat a taco or drink a beer, and then donate to any abortion rights fund — from Planned Parenthood to another local or national organization.

While the #TacoBeerChallenge started as an ironic Twitter joke, the straightforward message resonated and pictures of carne asada wrapped in a corn tortilla are proliferating on the web–though members of the pro-life movement have tried to hijack the hashtag to harness the attention for their cause.

“What do ice buckets have to do with ALS? I don’t know. What do tacos and beer have to do with abortion? I don’t know that either,” Grimes writes for RH Reality Check. “What I do know is that eating tacos and drinking beer is more pleasurable than getting doused with ice water, and that lawmakers around the country are passing increasingly restrictive anti-abortion access laws.”

Grimes continued that a first donation to an abortion fund can be hard, but, “It’s so not-shameful, in fact, that you can be the kind of regular ol’ human being who eats a taco or drinks a beer and funds abortion.”

The Taco or Beer Challenge’s Tumblr also showcases other Taco-eating related videos as well as a database of abortion-rights funds to donate to.

Here are some of the early participants:

Let’s see if Oprah, Justin Timberlake, and Jimmy Kimmel get on board with this initiative, too.

 

TIME Science

Mesmerizing Six-Second Timelapse Video Shows How the Earth Changed Over Six Months

Created by NASA using images from January to July

+ READ ARTICLE

According to NASA, no planets have “matched the dynamic complexity of our own.” This video by the NASA Earth Observatory, which will take you just six seconds to watch — unless you keep hitting refresh like we did — showcases that dynamic complexity over the course of six months.

You see the eastern hemisphere, from January 18 to July 25, and its subtle changes in weather systems and vegetation. The best part is the clouds — swirling, lovely, mesmerizing clouds. Good job, Earth. You’re pretty awesome.

WATCH: Breath-taking NASA Timelapse Video Shows a Star Exploding

TIME Food & Drink

McDonald’s Is Testing Mozzarella Sticks With Marinara Sauce

The chain is currently testing the product in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

We’re still trying to sort out our feelings about the fact that the next addition to the McDonald’s menu might be mozzarella sticks.

For now, it’s just a test. The fast food joint is selling mozz sticks in select locations across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, a McDonald’s spokesperson confirms to TIME. They come three to a package (with a side of marinara sauce, of course) and cost just one dollar.

A few people on Twitter have shared photos of the surprising find:

Yup, they look like your average, everyday mozzarella sticks. For now, it all depends on how the test goes. They were previously available at locations in the U.K., and there’s a small initiative to make them a permanent fixture on the menu.

No word yet on what name McDonald’s will use if they do add them to the U.S. menu, but it’s natural to assume they’ll go with something like McMozzarella Sticks. Or perhaps McMozzies. Stay tuned.

TIME celebrity

Patrick Stewart Does the Ice Bucket Challenge in the Classiest Way Possible

He sits quietly writing a check, pulls a bucket of ice onto his desk, and makes himself a nice, stiff drink.

+ READ ARTICLE

While everyone else is dumping big buckets of ice water over themselves and screaming their heads off on Facebook, Patrick Stewart — aka Star Trek Captain Jean-Luc Picardtook a more refined approach to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is raising money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.

In the video, Stewart sits quietly writing a check, pulls a bucket of ice onto his desk…. and makes himself a nice, stiff drink.

The viral fundraising campaign has raised more than $50 million so far.

 

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