Surfing! A beach on St. George Island in Florida has been named the best in the country in an annual ranking

St. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s 9-mile stretch of pristine sugar-white sand along the Gulf of Mexico is the nation’s best beach for 2023. This comes from an annual ranking published by a university professor known as “Dr. Beach.” The state park on St. George Island, near the Florida Panhandle, received the top honor Thursday from Steven Leatherman, a professor in Florida International University’s Department of Earth and Environment. This year’s top 10 list marks Leatherman’s 33rd ranking of America’s beaches. St. George’s Island often makes the list. Letterman said the natural beauty, lack of development and abundant activities, including fishing, swimming, kayaking, biking, camping and unique views for stargazing, stood out this year.

Michigan boy who saved sister from slingshot says he just got lucky

ALPENA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan teenager credited with using an unusual weapon to save his sister from being kidnapped says he “freaked out” when he reached for a slingshot. Thirteen-year-old Owen Burns says he opened a window in his home and shot marbles and stones. Police say the 17-year-old attacker was hit in the head and chest. Owen’s 8-year-old sister ran away. It happened on May 10 in the city of Alpena in northern Michigan. State police say they are surprised Owen used a slingshot to save his sister. Owen says the intruder was a “big target” for his slingshot, not the usual small can. Owen says modestly, “I just got lucky.”

Indiana Jones Moves to Cannes Film Festival; Garrison Ford was honored in front of happy holiday goers

CANNES, France (AP) — Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford arrived in Cannes on Thursday for the world premiere of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” one of the most anticipated events of the French Riviera festival. Ford, who said “Dial of Fate” will be his last appearance as the character, is also set to receive the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Fedoras abounded as crowds of onlookers watched Ford and company walk the red carpet. Ford walked hand-in-hand with his wife Calista Flockhart and later joined his fellow cast members as John Williams’ score played down the red carpet.

Mastodon bones found by a Michigan task force are on display at a museum

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Museum officials in Grand Rapids, Mich., have displayed mastodon bones that were found last year while excavating a drainage in the western part of the state and belonged to a young male mastodon that lived 13,000 years ago. The skeleton was found on private property owned by the Clapp family in August by a team working for the drainage commission. The Clapps decided to donate the remains to the Grand Rapids Community Museum. While most of the skeleton is still undergoing the drying process, some of the bones will be on public display for the first time during the exhibition, which opens on Saturday.

Report says 10,000-span bridges like the one that collapsed in Pittsburgh should be inspected for corrosion

Investigators into last year’s Pittsburgh bridge collapse want transportation officials across the country to examine more than 10,000 other bridges with similar steel structures. The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report Thursday that it wants states and cities to make sure their bridges don’t have corrosion like what they found on the bridge that collapsed. The safety board says drainage problems on the weathered steel bridge have caused parts of it to deteriorate over time. It says Pennsylvania neglected for years to clean up the trash, dirt and leaves that caused the problem, even when inspectors noticed the problem. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to the advisory.

Will the AM radio be retained on the dashboard? A bipartisan bill would require automakers to keep it in new cars

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing to keep AM radio in the nation’s cars. A bipartisan group in Congress introduced the “AM for Every Car Act.” This would require automakers to keep AM radios in new cars at no extra cost. Proponents cite public safety concerns and the critical role of AM radio in transmitting emergency alerts. The proposed legislation comes as more automakers say goodbye to AM radio in new car models. Critics of the bill argue that mandating AM radio is unnecessary, pointing to an integrated public notification and warning system that could distribute safety warnings over AM, FM, Internet and satellite radio, as well as cellular networks.

Videos show alleged ivory-billed woodpeckers as US moves toward extinction decision

Researchers have released new video and photos showing ivory-billed woodpeckers flying in a Louisiana forest. The grainy image, released on Thursday, comes as government officials say they will make a final decision on whether the birds are missing by the end of the year. Several experts said it adds to preliminary signs of woodpecker survival, but others dismissed the new study. Numerous sightings have been reported over the decades. Nothing fully resolved the doubts, and federal officials said in 2021 that there was “no objective evidence” of the bird’s continued existence.

Sam Zell, billionaire real estate investor, has died

Sam Zell, the Chicago real estate mogul who earned a multibillion-dollar fortune and reputation as a “grave dancer” for his ability to revive dying properties, has died of complications from a recent illness. He was 81 years old. Bearded and sharp-tongued, Zell reveled in defying conventional wisdom. He had a golden touch in real estate and began managing apartment buildings while a college student. By the time he turned 70, he had amassed a fortune estimated at $3.8 billion.

Austrian actor Helmut Berger, film star of the 1960s and 1970s, dies aged 78

BERLIN (AP) — Austrian-born actor Helmut Berger, a European movie star of the 1960s and 1970s who rose to fame with roles in films by Italian director Luchino Visconti, has died. He was 78. His agent said Berger died “peacefully but nevertheless unexpectedly” early Thursday in his hometown of Salzburg. In 1964 he worked as an extra in Rome before being discovered by Visconti, who later became his partner and gave him his first role in 1966. He played prominent roles in Visconti’s The Damned, Ludwig, and The Conversation. Berger’s credits also include appearances in Vittorio De Sica’s The Garden of Finzi-Contini, Massimo Dalaman’s Dorian Gray and later in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III.

Garth Brooks extends sold-out Las Vegas residency through 2024

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Country music star Garth Brooks has extended his new Las Vegas residency to 18 additional dates in 2024. The announcement was made Thursday morning ahead of the opening night of the Caesars Palace hotel-casino. Tickets for the Garth Brooks/Plus One show sold out quickly when they went on sale in late 2022. Brooks says he feels blessed to perform in Las Vegas again next year. The 2024 dates are scheduled for April-July. The award-winning singer-songwriter promises that no two shows will be the same. He says his fans can expect occasional special guests and band members that will change at each performance.

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