TIME celebrities

Caitlyn Jenner Celebrates Her Independence in July 4 Post

"At least I am free to be me"

Caitlyn Jenner took to her Twitter account Saturday to wish her followers and fans a happy Independence Day.

And the former athlete, whose coming out as a woman sparked a social media phenomenon and gave fresh visibility to transgender Americans, paid tribute to the United States as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.

“Proud to be an American,” she wrote, in a twist on Lee Greenwood’s famous patriotic song, “where at least I am free to be me.”

TIME Sports

America, You Have a New Hot Dog-Eating Champion

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut defeated by Matt Stonie after eight years at the top

Matt Stonie upset Joey “Jaws” Chestnut to win the July Fourth hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, breaking Chestnut’s bid for a ninth straight victory.

Stonie, who finished second last year, downed 62 hot dogs and buns on Saturday, beating Chestnut by two. Both are from San Jose, California.

The next closest competitor ate 32 hot dogs.

Afterward, Stonie, holding his fist in the air in victory, said it felt amazing to win. He said he trained hard for the contest.

Chestnut, smiling in defeat, said he was slow and couldn’t catch Stonie.

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Google Doodle

Google Doodle Brings Out Lawn Chairs to Celebrate 4th of July

Inspired by memories of Independence Days past

Google has brought out a set of lawn chairs — and a couple of pets — for its doodle celebrating Independence Day.

The artist, San Francisco-based Brian Kaas, explained the illustration was inspired by his own memories of July 4 block parties. “I spent a lot of my summers sitting on a lawn chair with my neighbors, friends and family,” he said. “When we would get up, the neighborhood pets would often steal our seats.”

Google’s previous July 4 doodles have featured a lot of red white and blue — but this year the Stars and Stripes just put in a cameo, with two small flags sitting in a vase next to a jug of lemonade.

TIME animals

Watch This Totally Chill Pit Bull Play Nicely With Baby Birds

Opposites attract in this tale of friendship on the farm

It’s a dangerous world for baby birds—unless they have a powerful protector.

Several young chickens and at least one baby turkey have befriended a pit bull who sits quite calmly while they crawl all over the dog and peck at its fur.

YouTube user “shay Israel” posted the video on Thursday under the title “snuggle time with mama Jules.” Looks like this corner of the animal kingdom is off to a very cozy Fourth of July weekend.

TIME animals

This Cat Survived a 28-Mile Ride in the Engine of a Pickup Truck

Cat in Engine
Darren Tynan—Hackettstown Police Department/AP This photo provided by the Hackettstown Police Department shows a cat after it was freed from the engine compartment of a pickup truck at the Mars Chocolate North America plant in Hackettstown, N.J., on July 2, 2015.

This is one lucky cat

(HACKETTSTOWN, N.J.)—A cat has been rescued from the engine of a pickup truck after a 28-mile ride from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

Unbeknownst to the driver, the orange and white feline had crawled into the engine compartment. It was taken on a ride Thursday from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to the Mars Chocolate North America plant in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

Employees there heard the cat’s meows and called police.

The cat was freed from the fan blades with the help of the town’s public works department and Mars employees.

The cat ran off but was soon caught by police and turned over to an animal control officer. It wasn’t injured.

TIME Television

Conan Does His Best Stripper Dance for Magic Mike XXL

And it's not great

When Conan O’Brien’s female colleagues heard their boss would be joining them for a midnight viewing of Magic Mike XXL, they may not have expected him to bust some moves to match the stripping action up on the screen. But being Conan, of course that’s exactly what he did.

The late-night host may not totally get the appeal of a movie about male strippers, but he does know how to do that tearaway track pants trick… to reveal jeans underneath.

TIME Music

A Video Featuring Snoop Dogg Has Caused Uproar Among a Religious Group in India

In the video, Snoop smokes what appears to be weed on a throne beneath the group's sacred symbol

Members of the Parsi Zoroastrian community in Calcutta have filed a petition in a local high court against the music video for the song “King” by Amitis featuring Snoop Dogg, calling it blasphemous and disrespectful toward their faith, the Times of India reports.

Zoroastrianism is a millennia-old faith with roots in ancient Persia and a flourishing community in India; its scripture emphasizes the sanctity of nature and the duality of existence. Amitis is an Iranian-born singer who now lives in Atlanta; “King” appears to be her entrance into the realm of Western pop. Snoop Dogg is Snoop Dogg — in this case, the eponymous king in question, who in the music video smokes what appears to be weed on a throne beneath the Faravahar, a sacred Zoroastrian symbol. Some strippers dance in front of it, too.

Unsurprisingly, the Zoroastrians in Calcutta have taken offense and have chosen to file a public-interest litigation — a form of civil complaint. In this case, the Zoroastrians who filed the petition are going after two companies involved in the production and distribution of the video, as well as the governments of West Bengal and India, requesting that the video be banned, the Times says.

No one involved with the video has commented on the petition. To Snoop’s credit, though, he has been making some (admittedly misguided) efforts to immerse himself in the cultures of foreign lands. For the 2008 Indian action film Singh Is Kinng (sic), he and actor Akshay Kumar released a hip-hop track of the same title whose lyrics made these cursory references to Indian culture: “Whatup to all the ladies hanging out in Mumbai/ cheese makes dollars, east-west masala.”

TIME society

Utah Teen Bullied for Her Big Ears Gets Free Surgery

The teen said she was called names like "Dumbo"

A Utah surgeon gave free corrective surgery to a teen who was bullied for having big ears.

Isabelle Stark told PEOPLE kids in her high school would walk up to her and tug her protruding ears and call her “Dumbo.” But thanks to a surgeon who was no stranger to ear-related taunts while growing up, the 18-year-old was able to undergo a corrective procedure free of charge.

“I know what it’s like to be bullied about something you can’t control,” Steven Mobley, a Salt Lake City surgeon who runs a foundation that offers free ear-pinning surgery to low-income kids, told PEOPLE. “I’m really happy for Isabelle—now maybe she can move on to the next chapter of her life.”

Read more at PEOPLE.

Read Next: Nip. Tuck. Or Else

TIME Appreciation

Find Out What Your Favorite Fireworks Are Called

A video taxonomy for the Fourth of July

Fourth of July means hot dogs, beer and beaches—and above all else, fireworks. The tradition actually began as early as Benjamin Franklin and has only picked up steam since.

In honor of families across America gathering to watch the colorful displays, here’s a guide to six of your favorite fireworks–so you don’t have to keep referring to them as “the one that looks like a dandelion.”

And if you’re trying to capture the perfect Fourth of July Instagram, check out 6 Secret Tips For Photographing Fireworks With Your Phone.

  • Aerial Shells

    The archetypical fireworks, aerial shells climb up to the sky without much fanfare before exploding. The explosion, however, is magnificent, with colors radiating from a central point, making for a vibrant circle that lights up the sky. It’s no wonder these are often used in the finale of Fourth of July festivities.

  • Aerial Repeaters

    Aerial repeaters are those fireworks that that explode into a few lines of color, before rapidly disappearing. They’re usually emitted rapid fire.

  • Cones

    Unlike aerial shells and repeaters, cones emit fireworks from the ground up, spraying out displays of color that grow taller as the fuse continues to burn.

  • Fountains

    Fountains are quite similar to cones, but are usually accompanied by a series of whistles, crackles and other sound effects, and, unlike cones, remain at a similar height the entire time they’re burning.

  • Roman Candle

    Roman candles are those fireworks that remind you of popcorn, spraying little balls of flame every second or so. Once in the air, the flames bounce around in a whirly frenzy before disappearing.

  • Skyrocket

    Skyrockets aren’t known for one particular type of explosion. Many of the explosions they emit are similar to aerial shells, but they’re also responsible for the explosions that resemble, yup, dandelions.

TIME animals

A Dog Is Running for Mayor in Upstate New York

The 13-year-old pooch is running as "Schenectady's best friend"

The latest candidate to enter the race for mayor in Schenectady, N.Y. doesn’t just have a leg up on her competition—she has two. Diamond, a 13-year-old dog, is running as a write-in candidate in the city’s race. And according to the Daily Gazette, she’s running as “Schenectady’s best friend.”

Diamond’s entrance into the race for mayor—which features three human candidates, Mayor Gary McCarthy, Roger Hull and Chris Gibbs—isn’t the first time a four-legged friend of the upstate town has made a foray into local politics. In 2007, Sparky the cat ran for mayor, followed by Roger the cat in 2011. In 1999, the Gazette reports, Loffredo the dog entered a mayoral race. No furry candidate, of course, has actually won, but McCarthy and Hull told the paper they welcome the competition.

“I assume our paths will cross in the campaign,” McCarthy said of Diamond.

[The Daily Gazette]

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