5 to Know: Psychic slammed, Mark Sanford wins, 'hotness tournament' & more

 
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What you need to know for May 8

Psychic Sylvia Browne under fire ... Former S.C. gov. Mark Sanford wins ... Wash. high school hosts controversial competition ... Belgium diamond heist ... Life as a bear See gallery

Sylvia Browne: Facebook screen grab
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1. Psychic backlash

What's the story:  When psychic Sylvia Browne met with Amanda Berry's mother on Montel Williams' show and told Louwana Miller that her daughter was dead, Miller was quoted as saying she "lost it." But this isn't the first time Browne has wrongly predicted a missing child's death — she was featured heavily in a 2007 story on predatory psychics in The Guardian. Now social media is lashing back, with thousands taking her to task via Twitter and Facebook, among them Anderson Cooper, who asked, "Has she no shame?"

Why you should know: It's easy to roll our eyes at people who believe in psychic predictions, but when a parents are that desperate for information about their missing child, they'll grasp at anything. In this case, friends say, Browne's prediction broke Miller's heart, and the woman died just a couple of years later. How do we stop this from happening again? Do we regulate psychics? There's no "psychic university" passing out degrees, so how do we weed the "good" ones out from the bad when psychic powers are so dubious (at best) anyway?

Get the whole story: Psychic under fire for wrongly predicting Ohio abductee's death

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Amanda Berry is dead, psychic tells her mother on Montel Williams' show

Kidnapping victims who were rescued years after their abduction

Missing women found in Ohio: What we know
 

AP Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt
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2. Disgraced governor wins congressional seat

What's the story: When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was discovered in Argentina with his mistress, not wandering the Appalachian Trail as he'd claimed, he paid a $70,000 ethics fine and got dumped by his wife. Then three weeks ago his ex-wife filed a complaint against him, saying he'd entered her house without permission. This week he beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Bush and won a seat in Congress during a special election.

Why should you know: Considering the District of Columbia re-elected Mayor Marion Barry after he was caught on tape smoking crack with a prostitute, and Bill Clinton is regarded as an elder statesman even after an intern's semen-stained dress was introduced into evidence against him in a hearing on his impeachment, Sanford's quick political recovery doesn't seem so surprising. But why are we so quick to forgive elected officials?  

Get the whole story: Ex-SC Gov. Sanford wins election for seat in Congress

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What's funny about the S. Carolina congressional race

Ex-Gov. Sanford asked wife he cheated on to run his campaign

Trespassing accusation leaves Sanford on his own
 

 

 

 
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3. High school 'hotness tournament' angers parents and students

What's the story: Each year, students at Washington state's Issaquah High School engage in an online contest they call "May Madness," pitting female students against each other in an NCAA tournament-style bracket for “hotness.” Female students are encouraged to "look their finest." Many parents and students are upset, and one young woman told a reporter, "It's sexualizing us girls like we’re trophies." Authorities aren’t happy about the contest, but since it’s neither school-sanctioned nor on school grounds, they can’t do anything about it.

Why you should know: Parents of high school students today have an entirely new online world to navigate with their children, one our parents probably never could have imagined. Between Facebook bullying, the easy availability of every kind of porn under the sun and the threat of online predators, it's enough to make a parent toss their kids’ laptop out the window. But then there’d still be that ever-present smartphone. So how can parents keep their children safe online? It's a question many parents are asking.

Tell us what you think on Facebook

Get the whole story: High school 'hotness tournament' sparks controversy

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Issaquah High School

Are all beautiful women boring?

AP Photo: Yves Logghe
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4. 31 arrests in $50M diamond heist

What's the story: The robbery was like something out of a James Bond movie. Two black cars with blue police lights flashing drive onto the tarmac of a Belgian airport and pull up in front of a plane loaded with diamonds. A group of black-clad men brandishing machine guns board the plane, leave with the diamonds and make what seems to be a clean getaway. Until this week, that is, when Belgian authorities announced that they've made 31 arrests in three European countries and recovered much of the money and some of the stones.

Why you should know: What is it about a good organized multimillion-dollar robbery that seems more romantic than criminal? We're all outraged when we hear of corrupt politicians pillaging the public coffers or even run-of-the-mill burglaries, but a diamond heist? Even the language is romantic. We don't call it an iPhone "heist" when a kid runs off with our phone, but when someone lifts diamonds off a plane, our inner Robin Hood kicks in. You can bet someone in Hollywood is already drafting the screenplay.

Get the whole story: Belgium says 31 detained in $50M diamond heist

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$50M of diamonds stolen in minutes at Brussels airport

Russian held with 26,000 diamonds had 'nothing to declare'

Diamonds: Investors' best friends?
 

 
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5. Secret lives of bears revealed!

What's the story: Last summer, biologists in Alaska attached small, rugged video cameras to collars on four black and two brown bears. The cameras were programmed to give researchers a chin’s-eye view of the bears’ activities, which wound up being a lot of garbage licking and eating, and a bunch of sleeping too. One scary moment came when a bear encounters a person in a yard. The bear slipped away before the human ever noticed. Eek!

Why should you know:  At first glance, this may seem like one of those government-wasting-my-tax-dollar scenarios, but the reality is, in many parts of the country bears are a real problem. And as we destroy their habitats to put up housing, we're forced to interact with them more often. The more we can learn about them, the better we can manage them.

Get the whole story: Critter cams give peek into bears' lives

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