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Cynthia Martin

Talia Castellano – honorary CoverGirl – dies at 13

Her six-year battle with cancer inspired celebrities and fans alike

Talia Castellano – YouTube star, fashion designer, honorary CoverGirl – died this morning at the age of 13. Her six-year battle with cancer is finally at an end. But her legacy isn’t. She leaves behind a fashion line, makeup tutorial videos and a wake of lives that she changed forever.

Talia was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at the horrifically young age of seven. It’s been an uphill battle for the little girl since then. She’s had chemo, gone into remission, followed by several relapses and finally the ultimate injustice of having neuroblastoma and leukemia at the same time. An ordinary person (child or adult) would struggle to cope with all of that.

Talia thrived under the adversity. The chemo caused her hair to fall out, but instead of wearing a wig, Talia turned to make-up to boost her confidence. Then she tried to help instill that same confidence in girls everywhere by posting makeup tutorials on YouTube.

This girl’s spirit inspired everyone who met her. Ellen DeGeneres had Talia as a guest on her show last October. The talk show host couldn’t stop gushing about how amazing she thought Talia was.

“You’re an old soul and you are very special and amazing, and I’m so honored that you wanted to meet me and that I got to meet you,” DeGeneres said.

DeGeneres followed that up by telling Talia that she was going to be an honorary CoverGirl.

Talia also got to design her own clothing line, called That Bald Chick, with designer Urbana Chappa. Chappa has also dealt with cancer, overcoming breast cancer at the age of 19. She hopes to soon find a major retailer to sell Talia’s line at.

Celebrities, including DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus, took to Twitter today to mourn Talia’s passing.

Ellen DeGeneres – “I met a very special girl, and today we lost her. Sending my heart to Talia’s family. I’m so sad.”

Miley Cyrus – “Rest in Peace, Talia. This is so sad. You will be missed angel.”

Talia’s family announced the news on her Facebook page with a message that truly sums up Talia’s spirit.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share with all of you that Talia has earned her wings at 11:22am. Please lift her beautiful soul, her beautiful light to heaven.”

Juror B37 tries to explain Zimmerman verdict

Juror goes on Anderson Cooper to talk about trial

Juror B37 has been creating quite a stir in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. So far she is the only juror to speak out about the verdict. And boy does she have a lot to say.

The female juror started with an interview on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper’s 360.” Truthfully, it was a bold thing to do with backlash from the verdict still a major concern. She seemed to want to explain the jury’s decision.

“I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place,” said Juror B37. “But just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods, and wanting to catch these people so badly that he went above and beyond what he really should have done.”

It was clear that Juror B37 and the other jurors agonized over the decision. She said that the vote was originally split. Three wanted guilty, three wanted not guilty, and the rest wanted to do something to give Trayvon Martin’s family some comfort. They just couldn’t figure out how to do it.

“There was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something and after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law, and reading it over and over and over again, we decided there’s just no way, other place to go,” Juror B37 said.

This case garnered national attention, and has quickly escalated to a debate on race. Many believe that Zimmerman killed Martin because he was black. And now they believe his killer is going free because he’s white.

Juror B37 was adamant that race played no part in the jury’s deliberations.

“Anybody would think anybody walking down the road, stopping and turning and looking — if that’s exactly what happened — is suspicious,” Juror B37 said. “I think all of us thought race did not play a role. We never had that discussion.”

Juror B37 also announced her decision to drop plans to write a book on the Zimmerman trial. Literary agent, Sharlene Martin, released news of the book before the Anderson Cooper interview aired. Only hours later, Juror B37 backed out.

“I realize it was necessary for our jury to be sequestered in order to (protect) our verdict from unfair outside influence, but that isolation shielded me from the depth of pain that exists among the general public over every aspect of this case,” she said.

The Zimmerman trial isn’t going away any time soon. For Juror B37, it’s probably the best decision to distance herself from the case. But hopefully, her speaking out will help calm tensions.

Twinkies make a comback

The snack cakes are officially back on the shelves as of today

Twinkies are back.

If that sentence didn’t make you do at least a mental jump for joy, you need to go back and read it again. We once again have food that will survive the apocalypse. That should be worth a little fake happiness.

Sure, Twinkies aren’t the healthiest food. But they are the staple of any normal college kid’s diet. They’re cheap, tasty, and great for soaking up all that alcohol in your system. Twinkies are all-purpose foods. The world has just not been the same without them.

The new Twinkies are a little smaller. Before Hostess went bankrupt, Twinkies were reported to be about 150 calories per cake. The new ones will only be 135 calories per cake. A representative of Hostess said that the change was actually made by the former company in mid-2012.

Another change is the extended shelf-life of the new Twinkies. You can now keep them on your shelf for up to 45 days. Of course, that’s just the number the FDA requires Hostess to put on the box. We all know that Twinkies last forever.

Hostess announced its bankruptcy back in November. Shortly after, the Twinkies manufacturer was bought by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulous & Co. And back in June, the firms announced the return of the iconic snack.

“America wanted Hostess back — they wanted the original,” said Daren Metropoulos, principal of Metropoulos & Co. “Very soon consumers will once again be able to enjoy Twinkies, CupCakes and other great Hostess snack cakes. A comeback by any other name could never be as sweet.”

Shelves won’t just be filled with Twinkies, though. CupCakes, Donettes, Zingers, HoHos and Ding Dongs are also back to satisfy America’s sweet tooth.

Frying frenzy in Death Valley

Viral video has unintended consequences for national park

Death Valley: a wasteland; empty desert; the hottest place on Earth. And the only national park that has had to say this: “…don’t crack eggs on the sidewalk.”

To show just how hot the park gets, a park employee made a video showing an egg frying with nothing but the ambient heat. Now everybody’s doing it.

But unlike the conscientious park employee who used a pan to fry up his breakfast, some park goers are just using the sidewalk. So many eggs, egg cartons and shells litter the park that they’ve taken to Facebook to try to stop the frying frenzy.

“An employee’s posting of frying an egg in a pan in Death Valley was intended to demonstrate how hot it can get here,” the park posted. “With the recommendation that if you do this, use a pan or tin foil and properly dispose of the contents. However, the Death Valley NP maintenance crew has been busy cleaning up eggs cracked directly on the sidewalk, including egg cartons and shells strewn across the parking lot.”

Even worse than the garbage, is the smell. The eggs are not really cooking on the sidewalks, roads and rocks that people are trying to fry on.

Cheryl Chipman, spokeswoman for Death Valley National Park, voiced employees’ frustrations at the situation.

“129 degrees is pretty darn hot,” Chipman said. “And when you have to spend energy and time cleaning up a gooey stinking mess, you lose a little bit of faith in humanity.”

Chipman is not against the experiment, which can teach people about weather, along with Death Valley. She just advises bringing a pan and cleaning up when you’re done.

Steam steps up summer sale

The game retailer gives gamers ways to save

Steam up your summer with a new game. Online game retailer, Steam, kicked of its annual summer sail today. With daily deals, flash sales and community’s choice sales, now is the time to get that game you’ve been saving for.

Steam games can be expensive. Some are upwards of $60. For non-gamers, these prices can be too much. Now you can get a deal on that game you’ve always wanted.

The daily deals are exactly what they sound like. Each day Steam will release a new list of discounted games. Today’s include “Bioshock Infinite” for $29.99, “Defiance” at $13.59, and “Left for Dead 2” is 75 percent off at $4.99. But there are plenty of others priced down today.

Don’t see the game you want in the daily deals? That’s where Steam’s flash sales come in. These sales last only eight hours, giving users a chance to get more popular games and special editions at a discount. Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition for $8.99, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition for $35.99, Grid 2 for $29.99, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for $5.09 are only available for a few more hours.

But your game’s still not there. Maybe it could be a community’s choice sale. Everyday, Steam users will vote on which game they’d like to see on sale. So check back everyday to vote for your favorite to get a 40-60 percent markdown.

And make sure to update your wish list, so Steam can notify you when your game goes on sale. Steam’s summer sale ends July 22.

Cold Case: The Boston Strangler

New DNA techniques may finally confirm Albert DeSalvo as the Boston Strangler

The Boston Strangler case is almost officially closed. After over forty years, DNA from the last victim has been familialy matched to a suspect. The suspect, Albert DeSalvo, may finally be brought to justice. But there’s still one problem. DeSalvo is dead.

Since this is College News, I’m going to assume those reading this don’t know who the Boston Strangler is. He was a man who sexually assaulted and killed eleven women, ages 19 to 85, in the Boston area from 1962 to 1964. Usually, he strangled his victims with nylon panty hoes which he left tied in a bow around the victim’s neck.

In 1964, the Strangler was committing his twelfth sexual assault and murder, but left before killing his victim. The victim went on to identify Albert DeSalvo as her assailant. Other women soon came forward saying DeSalvo had sexually assaulted them.

DeSalvo wasn’t suspected of being the Boston Strangler until he was charged with rape and then confessed to being the Strangler to a fellow inmate. He also confessed to other unrelated two murders. During the trial, his confession was thrown out, so DeSalvo was never convicted of the thirteen murders. But he was giving a life sentence for robbery and sexual assault.

In 1973, DeSalvo was killed in prison by an inmate. His killer was never found.

Okay, that’s the short version of the Boston Strangler case. There has been nothing new since 1964 when DeSalvo was arrested. No new murders. No sexual assaults attributed to the Strangler. Nothing. So why is time and resources being wasted on determining for sure if a dead suspect was indeed the Boston Strangler?

It may sound insensitive. I do understand that the families need closure. But DeSalvo is more than likely the Boston Strangler (I would say he is, but obviously that hasn’t been proven). And even if he wasn’t, the real Boston Strangler would have to be in his 70s or 80s by now so I doubt he’ll be assaulting or killing anyone.

Wouldn’t resources be better spent trying to catch serial killers still alive and active today? True, serial killers account for less than one percent of all killings in the U.S. in any given year. And true, there aren’t that many of them (The FBI speculates about 50 are active at any one time). But they’re out there, and they won’t stop until they’re caught or dead.

I’m not saying that it’s bad that the Boston Strangler is going to be officially identified. I’m just questioning if this is really the best use of law enforcement’s time and resources. But I am glad that the families of the victims will be given closure of this horrific case.

Khloe Kardashian sends mixed signals about marriage

Rumors suggest a likely divorce

Khloe Kardashian takes Kim’s place as the Kardashian in the news. Several things have happened in recent days that have the reality star plastered on tabloid covers.

First are rumors of Khloe Kardashian wanting a divorce from NBA player Lamar Odom. Sources close to the couple say that their marriage has been on the rocks for a while. One said that Khloe kicked Odom out of their bedroom several months ago.

Behind all the turmoil are Khloe Kardashian’s fears that Odom has been cheating on her. And it looks like she’s right to be suspicious.

Odom has, reportedly, been in a year-long affair with a woman he met at a strip club. A friend of the woman explained in detail to Star magazine what happened when they met and how the affair progressed.

But before you break out the tissues and mourn then end of Kardashian and Odom, one recent incident could be a glimmer of hope for the couple.

A video surfaced on TMZ Wednesday that showed Odom destroying a photographer’s equipment. He followed up the tantrum by posing with a female fan for a picture. Khloe Kardashian jumped to Odom’s defense on Twitter, saying, “F**k the papz!!!!! You f**king losers!!!!! But shout out to my hubby for posing with the fans! I love my Lam!”

While it’s far from reconciliation, the support from Khloe Kardashian does show that she still cares for Odom. As of last year, Khloe was reluctant to consider divorce, “I’d like to think divorce is not an option.” But she has yet to say anything recently in regards to the rumors surrounding her marriage.

Cote de Pablo set to leave "NCIS"

The long speculated cast shake-up is finally here

Cote de Pablo stands as one of my favorite female actors on TV. Many people would agree with me that she is a huge part of why “NCIS” has lasted so long. As the show enters its 11th season this fall, de Pablo says good by to TV’s number one primetime show.

De Pablo plays Ziva David, a former Mossad operative, and has been a staple of the show since the end of season two. She was brought on as a regular cast member in season three after the departure of Sasha Alexander, who played Caitlin Todd. Many younger fans of the show probably can’t imagine it without Cote de Pablo.

A major cast shake-up has been speculated for several years. Even though “NCIS” is the most viewed show on TV, it is going into its eleventh year, a milestone that few primetime dramas ever meet. Many thought Michael Weatherly would be leaving to star in “NCIS: Los Angles” when the spin-off was announced in 2008. But CBS kept the magic going for another five years.

Cote de Pablo’s departure comes as a shock for many fans (myself included). Her contract with the show was up for renewal this year, but there didn’t appear to be a reason why it wouldn’t be renewed. Mark Harmon, who’s contract was also up, resigned earlier this year.

There’s no word yet as to why de Pablo is leaving the show. De Pablo’s statements seem to conflict with CBS’s statement.

“I’ve had eight great years with NCIS and Ziva David,” Cote de Pablo said. “I have huge respect and affection for Mark [Harmon], Gary [Glasberg], Michael [Weatherly], David [McCallum], Rocky [Carroll], Pauley [Perrette], Brian [Dietzen], Sean [Murray], all of the team and CBS. I look forward to finishing Ziva’s story.”

To me, it sounds like she doesn’t really want to leave. De Pablo’s statement fuels the suspicion that CBS did not offer her a new contract.

On the other hand, CBS puts the decision to leave squarely on de Pablo’s shoulders.

“We respect Cote’s decision, thank her for being an important part of the NCIS team and for eight terrific years playing Ziva David,” the statement said. “Cote and CBS share a great respect for the NCIS audience, and we look forward to working with her and the producers on appropriate closure in this chapter of Ziva’s story.”

Cote de Pablo will be returning to the show long enough to close out Ziva’s storyline. With the solving of her father’s murder, the only real thing to tie up is the romantic questions between Ziva and Agent Tony DiNozzo (Weatherly). But all we fans can really hope for is that Cote de Pablo won’t take the spark that makes “NCIS” so special with her when she leaves.

Cirque du Soleil performer dies during show

An accidental fall causes the first onstage death in the show’s history

Cirque du Soleil is spectacular to watch. The choreography leaves you breathless. The production stuns your senses. The acrobatics fill you with awe. And I haven’t even seen it performed in a venue as incredible as MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

But Saturday’s audience didn’t leave gushing about the performance. It wasn’t the mind-boggling aerial perfection that many have come to expect from Cirque du Soleil.

The performance of “Ka” ended abruptly Saturday night after a performer fell more than 50 feet into a pit below the stage. Sarah Guyard-Guillot, known as Sassoon, 31, was pronounced dead just before midnight. She was the first death from an onstage accident in the show’s 30 year history.

Guyard-Guillot was suspended from a wire during the show’s final scene. Audience members initially thought her fall was part of the Cirque du Soleil performance.

“Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the choreographed fight. But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage,” Dan Mosqueda, who was attending the show with his family.

Guyard-Guillot had been an acrobatic performer for 22 years. She left behind two young children.

Guy Laliberte, Cirque du Soleil founder, released a statement Sunday, expressing his personal pain from the death.

“I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family.  We are all completely devastated with this news,” Laliberte said.  “Sassoon was an artist with the original cast of KÀ since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family. We are reminded, with great humility and respect, how extraordinary our artists are each and every night.”

Future performances of “Ka” have been suspended indefinitely.

Human Head Transplant: Plastic Surgery of the Future

Not happy with your body? Swap it out for a new model

Human head transplants could replace the need for assisting equipment for paralyzed persons. Or it could become the plastic surgery of the future. Scientists view this latest development as a step forward in medical research. This author is not so optimistic.

Did you know that scientists have been attempting to swap heads and bodies on animals since the 1970’s? No? Obviously PETA didn’t either, since it’s been going on for 40 years. Even scarier, they’ve actually succeeded.

But that depends on your definition of success. If you view success as a monkey that is living in some zoo with a body it wasn’t born with, then you have the wrong definition. The “successful” head transplants that people like Italian neuroscientist Dr. Sergio Canavero are talking about are when the monkey lived for a few days, completely paralyzed.

Canavero has hope that the procedure will someday be possible. It’s a long way from human testing, but that doesn’t stop his speculation that it could happen. The hurdle lies in the connecting of the two spinal cords.

Should human head transplants become possible, it opens up some unique opportunities. Para- and quadriplegics could potentially have a new working bodies. Maybe those born with debilitating physical conditions would be cured by getting a head transplant. Or maybe, just maybe, millionaires will use it in place of multiple plastic surgeries.

Canavero estimates that a human head transplant could cost around $13 million. That makes it something that paraplegics won’t be able to afford. Only the incredibly wealthy will be able to afford a new body.