‘Sparkle’: A Watered Down Version of ‘Dreamgirls’

Originally posted on ToonariPost.com

Some movies have so much hype before their release, but then fall short of expectations. Unfortunately, ‘Sparkle’ falls into that category.

‘Sparkle’ is a remake of the 1976 movie. It is about three sisters trying to make it big in the Motown scene in 1968. Sparkle is often overshadowed by her two older sisters, especially Sister. Along the way, the trio deals with drugs, controversy, abusive relationships and an overprotective mother.

Sounds familiar, right?  Does ‘Dreamgirls’ bring a bell to anyone?

The movie didn’t live up to Toonari Post’s expectations because it was lacking that extra sparkle. The plot of the movie focused so much on getting a record deal but did not dive deep into what happened after Sparkle scored a record deal, which made the movie feel incomplete. The movie focused so much on how Sister dealt with fame, drugs, fortune, her abusive relationship with her husband, and her sisters trying to help her fight her problems.

There was a lot of hype and excitement surrounding the release of this film because of the death of Whitney Houston. Unlike ‘Dreamgirls,’ it may not get any Golden Globes, Oscar nominations or awards, but I do think this was a great last performance from the late Whitney Houston. She was a great singer and actress, and in this film, it showed that she truly enjoyed being a mother.

However, the acting felt a little forced, especially during the make-out scenes.  But there were definitely some standouts in the movie. Whitney Houston, of course, was one of them. Playing a mother came natural to her.  Jordin Sparks did a good job as well, especially since this was her first movie, even though the interactions with other characters were a little painful to watch. Carmen Ejogo did a good job playing Sister, one of Sparkle’s older sisters who became involved with drugs.

The song choices in this movie were not that great at all because they sounded more “church oriented” than the sounds of Motown. Despite that, Jordin outshined everyone, including Whitney Houston, when it came singing.

Sparkle was more suited for the small screen and did not have all the glitz and glamor as one would expect. Overall, Toonari Post had high expectations for this movie, but it was lacking in certain vital places.

Weekly Roundup: 8/19/12 & 8/26/12

Virginia/US
Thomas Caffall, Texas A&M Shooting Suspect, Had Mental ‘Difficulties,’ Mom Says
A Texas man facing eviction opened fire on police officers and bystanders near the Texas A&M University campus Monday afternoon, killing two and wounding four before being shot to death by police, authorities said.

Police identified the shooter as Thomas A. Caffall, 35, of College Station. Caffall’s mother, Linda Weaver, reached by The Huffington Post, said her son was having “difficulties” with his mental health in recent years.

After reading the entire article, it seems like he was really crazy.

Obama to Romney: Release five years of tax returns
“Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide,” Mr Messina wrote.

“So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point. If the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more – neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign.”

Releasing several years of tax returns has become a standard move in recent presidential elections.
Of course they say that, but they’re going to find something to nit-pick in his tax records.

Deadly shooting near the Empire State Building
Nine people were wounded and two people were killed near the Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan on Friday after a disgruntled women’s accessories designer named Jeffrey Johnson fatally shot his 41-year-old former boss, Steven Ercolino. Police shot and killed the gunman near the tourist entrance of the landmark skyscraper. Fifty-three year-old Johnson lost his job last year during a corporate downsizing at Hazan Imports, where Ercolino was a vice president. He returned to his office Friday morning to target his former supervisor. The shooting occurred at 9:03 a.m. ET on West 33rd Street.

I know there’s a lot of people suffering from job loss, but do you really have to shoot your former boss?

Majority of RNC events delayed by one day
According to Reuters, the Republican National Committee chairman announced Saturday evening that they will postpone most events planned for Monday’s convention by one day. Chairman Reince Priebus released a statement saying the convention will start on Monday but then will resume Tuesday afternoon.

That would be a good decision.

U.S. population equals pi-hundred
If you are a fan of the number pi, you’ll love this: The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the American population reached 314,159,265 Tuesday.

Interesting.

Neil Armstrong: An uncommon man with a commonly deadly disease
American icon Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday (Aug. 25) due to heart-surgery complications, officials said.

Armstrong underwent surgery at the beginning of this month to bypass four blockages in his coronary arteries, according to news reports. During coronary bypass surgery, doctors take a section of a blood vessel in the arm, leg, or other body part, and use it to divert blood around blocked areas in an artery in order to restore blood flow to the heart muscle, according to the Mayo Clinic.

So sad. :(

Isaac on verge of becoming hurricane, watch extends to Louisiana
As Tropical Storm Isaac moved quickly through the Straits of Florida on Sunday, coastal communities in Florida issued mandatory evacuations and Republicans delayed the start of their national convention.
Residents along the Gulf Coast watched nervously as forecasters said the storm was moving west of its originally predicted path after passing through the Caribbean.
With sustained winds of 60 mph, Isaac lashed Cuba with strong winds and dumped rain on the island early Sunday. No major damage or injuries were immediately reported in Cuba. On Saturday, it slammed Haiti, where at least six deaths were reported.
Heavy rain was already falling in some parts of south Florida, where a tornado watch is in effect until 5 p.m. ET.

Everyone should be careful out there.

Health
Education: A Predictor of Longer Life
Recent study findings published in the journal Health Affairs present a remarkable update to the already considerable research showing education to be a powerful predictor of longer life spans.
“The lifelong relationships of education and its correlates with health and longevity are striking,” the article said. “Education exerts its direct beneficial effects on health through the adoption of healthier lifestyles, better ability to cope with stress, and more effective management of chronic diseases. However, the indirect effects of education through access to more privileged social position, better-paying jobs, and higher income are also profound.”

Agreed

Technology/Social Media
Facebook to disable millions of pet accounts
Facebook is presently in the process of disabling millions of “fake” accounts, many of which are pet accounts that people have created for their beloved furry friends.

The news of the tens of millions of “fake” accounts was reported the first week of August. At that time, Facebook had acknowledged in its U.S. Securities and Exchange filing, the company believed about 83 million accounts on the network were not legitimate, and would be eliminated. This amounts to about 8.7 percent of its overall user base.

Pets shouldn’t have a Facebook page to begin with.

Business/Money
Facebook Falls To Half Of Public Offering Price
Facebook’s stock fell to $19 for the first time on Friday, meaning it has lost half its market value since the company’s initial public offering in May.

Things don’t look good for Facebook.

Which street is the priciest in the world?
The glitz and prestige of New York’s 5th Avenue makes it one of the most famous streets on the planet. But a torrent of mainland China visitors and a rental war among global brands will soon push the property prices in Hong Kong’s Central district higher than New York’s most expensive address.

As CNN’s Ramy Inocencio reports, Colliers predicts that by 2014, the average retail space in Hong Kong’s Central district (pictured above, left) will eclipse the $2,600 square foot price of New York’s 5th Avenue (pictured above, right). Presently, the average price is about $1,800 per square foot in Central, but prices have been zooming higher as retail brands jostle for prime real estate in this tightly packed territory.

Expensive

Sports
Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France titles ‘must be erased’
Armstrong announced in a statement that he will no longer fight drug charges levelled against him by the US anti-doping agency (USADA).

He maintains he is innocent but says he is weary of the “nonsense” accusations.
“I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair,” the 40-year-old American said of the USADA proceedings.

USADA says it will ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles, won between 1999 and 2005.

Is it worth it to give up all of your titles?

Weekly Roundup 8/12/12

Virginia/US
Romney tours key states with new running mate Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan was announced as Mr Romney’s choice for vice-president in one such state, Virginia, on Saturday.

The pair are going on to tour North Carolina, Florida, Ohio – and Mr Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.

Mr Ryan vowed to save the country from “high unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt”.

But Mr Obama’s campaign has said Mr Ryan stood for what they called “flawed” economic policies that would repeat “catastrophic” mistakes.

I hope Paul Ryan will be a good choice for Romney.

Romney makes accidental endorsement for 2013 election
During Saturday’s campaign rally in Ashland, Mitt Romney said he hoped that Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling would be the next Governor of Virginia. In doing so, Romney failed to recognize Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – who also announced he was running for Governor.

Oops.

World
At least 250 dead, more than 2,600 injured in Iran quakes
The quakes, which had magnitudes of 6.4 and 6.3 respectively, hit just 11 minutes apart and levelled at least 20 villages, said state television.

Following the quakes, around 36 aftershocks rippled through the same area, jolting residents. The aftershocks were felt in a vast region near the Caspian Sea.

Oh my goodness! So sad!

Health
New parent? Watch the saturated fat
“Parents of younger children do tend to bring in more convenience foods into the home more often,” said Dr. Helena Laroche, the lead author on the study. “That may account for the difference in saturated fat intake.”

Not surprising.

Technology/Social Media
iOS 6 Beta 4 Removes Dedicated YouTube App
The reason for the removal is unclear, although speculation naturally turns to the strained relationship between Apple and Google. Aside from YouTube, Apple’s iOS 6 contains another high-profile departure from Google’s services with Apple rolling out its own mapping and navigation service to displace Google.

YouTube videos can still be played through the embedded viewer, but the removal of the dedicated YouTube app marks a significant reduction in the prominence of Google on iOS.

Gonna miss the YouTube app, even though it wasn’t the greatest.

US employers banned from asking for social media logins
Maryland and Illinois have passed legislation banning employers from asking for social media login information during interviews, a practice that has been growing across the US.

Watch the video. This is crazy. Invasion of privacy.

Business/Money
Google death benefits pay dead employees’ families for 10 years
Google treats its dead employees better than some companies do their living workers.

Google’s unusual “death benefits” include paying the deceased’s spouse or domestic partner 50% of their salary for 10 years.

What’s more, all of the dead Googler’s stocks vest immediately. Each child of the employee receives $1,000 per month until age 19, or age 23 for full-time students.

Entertainment
Viewers outraged after NBC cuts away from Olympics closing ceremony
NBC was pummeled by viewers who took to social media after the network cut away early from the closing ceremony of the London Games on Sunday to air a new television show, drawing outrage from those who tuned in for the highly anticipated musical spectacle.

The Twitter-sphere exploded, with “#NBCfail” and “#closingceremonies” trending worldwide, after NBC cut out performances by Ray Davies, Kate Bush, The Who and Muse in favor of a commercial-free airing of “Animal Practice.”

I seemed to have missed this part. Even though I had the TV on at my desk, I was busy working. Although I’m not surprised that NBC did this. Their coverage was just horrendous during the entire Games.

Nielsen: 2012 Olympics most-watched event in U.S. TV history
More than 219 million Americans watched the Games over 5,535 hours of broadcasting on NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, two specialty channels and NBCOlympics.com, Nielsen data show.
The figures eclipse those of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (also on NBC), which were watched by a mere 215 million viewers.

No matter how bad NBC’s coverage was, people are still going to tune in because it’s the Olympics.

Jennifer Aniston engaged to actor Justin Theroux
“Having experienced everything you don’t want in a partner over time, it starts to narrow down to what you actually do want,” the actress told InStyle earlier this year. “As I get older, I realize what qualities are important in love and what suits me. And what I won’t settle for.”
2011: Aniston: Hottest of all time?

Her quest ended Friday, when she got engaged to Theroux on his 41st birthday, Aniston’s representative Stephen Huvane said.

“Justin Theroux had an amazing birthday Friday, receiving an extraordinary gift when his girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston, accepted his proposal of marriage,” Theroux’s representative Ina Treciokas said Sunday.

Congrats to the happy couple!

Sports
Olympics: Team GB aims to top Beijing golds
Team GB, hoping to pass the 19 golds achieved in Beijing in 2008, stand third in the London 2012 medal table – behind China and the US – with 18 gold, 11 silver and 11 bronze.

That would be awesome. It’s always nice to see the host country doing well in the medal rankings.

Gabby Douglas Makes Wrong Turn on Bars, Fails to Medal
Gabby Douglas finished dead last in the individual uneven bars final Monday, the same event that earned her the nickname “The Flying Squirrel” for her gravity-defying height.

She apparently turned the wrong way in her routine and could not recover well enough to earn a high score.

She’s still a winner in my eyes.

London 2012: Games set for grand finale
The finale will feature about 4,000 performers alongside artists such as George Michael and the Spice Girls.

The US topped the medal table with 45 golds, followed by China with 38 golds. GB came third with 29 golds – their best tally for 104 years.

I feel like this year’s Olympic Games went by so fast.

Weekly Roundup 7/22/12 & 7/29/12

Virginia/US
Mystery of suspect James Holmes’ missing Facebook account
As the investigation got under way in the shooting at the “The Dark Knight Rises” premiere, in which 70 members of the estimated 300-seat crowd were killed or injured, those looking for clues to make sense of it all went online for a digital footprint for the suspect – to no avail.

It appears that the suspect Holmes is not on any social networks – at least not under his legal name. The picture of Holmes that has been painted is not much different than a typical, perhaps disenchanted college student.

If he did, I would definitely write him some nasty message for being a(n) {insert insulting phrase here}.

Paterno statue removed from Penn State campus
The 900-pound bronze statue is being stored in a “secure location,” according to a statement from Penn State President Rodney Erickson. The tribute to Paterno had become an object of contention after the child rape scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno’s statue and legacy came under fire after the release of the Freeh Report, the scathing investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The report found several Penn State officials concealed evidence that Sandusky had sexually abused minors. Freeh concluded that Paterno could have prevented further sexual abuse had he taken action. Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 victims.

This is why you don’t hide what you’re doing. I hope other schools learn a lesson from all of this.

Aurora cinema shooting: Obama to pay tribute to victims
US President Barack Obama is heading for Colorado to honour victims of Friday’s gun attack at a Batman film screening that left 12 people dead.

The White House said Mr Obama would meet survivors and families of victims, as well as local officials in Aurora.

In his weekly radio address, he called for prayer and reflection on the gun rampage in the Denver suburb.

Pope Benedict has voiced “deep shock” over the attack which left another 58 people injured, some critically.

Glad to hear the President and the Pope are speaking out about this, although it’s so sad.

World
Spectators arriving for Olympics opening ceremony
Thousands of people are arriving at the Olympic Park ahead of the £27m opening ceremony of the London Games.

The three-hour spectacle in the Olympic Stadium will be viewed by a global TV audience of around one billion people.

Details of the ceremony remain a closely-guarded secret. Its artistic director, Danny Boyle, has dedicated it to the 15,000 volunteers taking part.

Holy cow!

Health
Controversy surrounds health care contract workers
Since a temporary radiologic technologist was accused of stealing drugs from a New Hampshire hospital and giving patients hepatitis C through infected syringes, troubling reports of his past have emerged — casting a spotlight on the staffing industry as a whole.

David Kwiatkowski worked in 13 hospitals in eight states between January 2007 and July 2012, when he was arrested in a Massachusetts hotel room “in an intoxicated state,” according to court documents. During that time he was employed by at least two staffing firms: Triage Staffing and SpringBoard Healthcare Staffing.

A surge of contract employees have entered the work force since 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Businesses turned to staffing firms to handle their workload until they were more certain of their company’s future. More than 25% of all new jobs created were temporary.
Was there ever a background check?

Technology/Social Media
Chick-Fil-A Faces Gay Marriage Backlash on Twitter, Facebook
Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy sparked a social media firestorm among gay marriage supporters and opponents after taking a public stance on the divisive issue this week.

Speaking to Christian news site Baptist Press, Cathy called Chick-Fil-A “guilty as charged” in response to past criticism of its position on same-sex marriage; he said the company is “very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Cathy later added: “We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

I get what Chick-fil-A is saying, but I don’t know if I would publicly say something if I were them. Gay marriage is such a hot topic these days.

Apple to launch Mountain Lion tomorrow
The operating system was first previewed by developers in February and brings a number of iOS-inspired features to its computers, such as Reminders, Notes and even the Notification Center. There’s also a new security feature, Gatekeeper, which aims to reduce malware by blocking uncertified apps from being installed. In all, Apple claims that Mountain Lion will bring 200 new features.

I may look into it once I read reviews about it.

Business/Money
Toyota recalling 760,000 RAV4’s due to crash risk
Toyota announced the recall Wednesday of some 778,000 vehicles in the United States due to a suspension problem that could cause crashes.

The recall comprises roughly 760,000 Toyota RAV4’s from model years 2006 to 2011, as well as about 18,000 Lexus HS 250h’s from 2010.

Toyota said that if the nuts on the rear suspension arms of these vehicles aren’t tightened properly during a wheel alignment service, the arms may come loose or separate.

Manufacturers should definitely check their cars before selling them to the public.

Entertainment
Sherman Hemsley, TV’s George Jefferson, dead at 74
Sherman Hemsley, who made bluster an endearing character trait as George Jefferson on “The Jeffersons” and Deacon Ernest Frye on “Amen,” has died, People.com reports. The 74-year-old actor was found dead in his El Paso home Tuesday, according to the El Paso Times.

No cause of death was available.

RIP :(

Sports
Sandusky’s retirement package revoked
Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach who was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse, has had his retirement package revoked.

The retirement package was revoked in November, Penn State spokesperson David LaTorre wrote in an email. Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse on November 4.

According to a report released by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, an agreement was made on June 29, 1999 to pay Sandusky $168,000 –– a lump sum that was awarded to Sandusky the following day.

According to the report, Sandusky received “a net amount of $111,990.18” after taxes and various deductions.

I don’t blame Penn State for doing that.

7/19/12 Social Media Event

This week, I went to a social media event sponsored by the Social Media Club of Richmond.  They talked about reasons to blog and that blogging is on its way out, in which I kinda agree with.  These days, people use Facebook and Twitter to instantly connect with others.

Also at the event, a group of girls from RichmondMom.com described their road trip to SXSW in Austin this past March.  Chevy was trying to think of ways to brand itself, so they reached out to teams, like the girls from RichmondMom, all across the country and asked them to drive to Austin using Chevy’s cars.  Chevy’s goal was to take people who normally wouldn’t drive their cars and put them in it.

Chevy wanted the groups to tweet about their journey and how they liked their cars.  The Richmond Mom group had another mission while on their road trip.  Their goal was to visit local classrooms along the way and raise money for the schools.  They did that by using PR and social media. They even got onto the local news in Alabama because of their PR and networking skills.

This social media campaign was a smart move on Chevy’s part because this allowed them to interact with their fanbase and gain new fans for their products.

It was a really good event, and it was interesting to see how big companies, like Chevy, come up social media campaigns.

Weekly Roundup – 7/15/12

I’m going to do a condensed version. I didn’t spend a lot of time reading the news this week.

Penn State blamed over Jerry Sandusky sex abuse
Louis Freeh’s report, released on Wednesday, laid much blame in the hands of four of Penn State’s “most powerful people”: President Graham Spanier, Vice-President Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley and head football coach Joe Paterno.

They “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the university community and authorities,” Mr Freeh wrote.

The four men, including the university president, knew that Sandusky was under investigation by university police of allegations of child sex abuse on campus as early as 1998.

It’s easy to look back now and say that.

Boston ranks 19th worst in traffic gridlock study
According to TomTom, a manufacturer of GPS navigation devices, Boston is the 19th most congested city in North America, behind such cities as Vancouver and Miami. The company’s Congestion Index report for the first quarter of the year, which surveyed 26 North American cities, found the absolute worst traffic is in Los Angeles.

On average, Boston commutes take 16 percent longer than they would if traffic were flowing freely — like in the middle of the night. In the evening rush, however, Boston commutes take 35 percent more time than they do when everything is moving well, according to the TomTom report.

By comparison, Los Angeles commutes take an average of 33 percent longer than they would in free-flowing traffic and a whopping 77 percent longer during evening rush hour.
My commute isn’t too bad.

China’s Video Sites Ordered to Censor Content
If you run a video website in China, you will now be charged with a daunting task: watch all your content and censor out any questionable content before posting.

China’s new online video censorship rules came this week via the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), China’s official broadcast regulation bureau. SARFT made the pre-screening policy known through a statement released to Chinese press that was later reported on by The Register.

Chinese video websites can be held legally liable if they fail to comply with the self-screening and censorship policy.

Ouch.

Weekly Roundup – 7/8/12

Virginia/US
WEATHER: Dangerous heat wave through weekend
But Saturday may end up being the hottest day of this heat wave, with an expected high temperature of about 104° in Richmond, with other high temperatures in central Virginia above 100°.
An excessive heat warning is in effect for much of the area Saturday for heat index values around or above 110°. More of the same is on tap for Sunday as well. With high heat and humidity like we’ll experience through Sunday, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are – even healthy people will be at risk for heat-related illnesses.

HOT HOT HOT!

Massive frozen meat recall
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Saturday that a New Jersey based company, Buona Vita., Inc., is recalling 324,770 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat meat products due to a possible Listeria contamination.

Buona Vita, Inc. is recalling products produced on May 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9. The USDA says the products were sold to facilities all over the country. Brands infected include Napoli, Bullpen, Whorle’s, M&R Frosted Food Co., Argenta Pride, Silver Lake Brand, Dirusso’s, Buona Vita, and Mama Isabella.

Ew. Good to know though.

New York couple arrested, jailed for dancing at subway station
A New York city couple was arrested and jailed for nearly a day for dancing on a subway platform and attempting to film the police officers who apprehended them.
The New York Post reports that Caroline Stern, age 55 and her boyfriend George Hess, 54, have filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan against the city of New York over the July, 2011 incident.
According to the suit, the couple was heading home late one night after a swing dancing event at Lincoln Center when they came across a busker playing steel drums. Captivated by the tropical beat, Hess, a film industry prop master and Stern, a dentist, began dancing with joyous abandon on the subway platform.

Dancing on a platform is unsafe, but they shouldn’t have gotten arrested over it.

Team Romney looking at women for running mate
As political chatter over Mitt Romney’s choice for running mate gets louder, the presumptive GOP nominee’s wife offered a new glimpse into the highly secretive process: the campaign, she said, is looking at women.

“We’ve been looking at that,” Ann Romney said when asked in a CBS interview whether her husband should select a woman to join him on the GOP ticket. “I’d love that option as well. So, you know, there’s a lot of people that Mitt is considering right now.”

Good news. More power to us women.

World
Russia Floods Kill At Least 103
Intense flooding in the Black Sea region of southern Russia killed 103 people after torrential rains dropped nearly a foot of water, forcing many to scramble out of their beds for refuge in trees and on roofs, officials said Saturday.

Aw, so sad! Mother Nature is taking a toll on everybody.

Report: Hitler ordered reprieve to Jewish man
Then there’s Ernst Hess, who was a decorated World War I soldier, former judge and, despite being raised a Protestant and marrying someone of that faith, a “full-blooded Jew” in the eyes of the Nazi regime.

According to a groundbreaking report, Hess was granted a reprieve despite this designation thanks to none other than Adolf Hitler.

Susanne Mauss, editor of the Jewish Voice from Germany newspaper, found the August 27, 1940, note from the Gestapo (the infamous Nazi secret police) that saved Hess — albeit temporarily. The order was revoked the next year, and Hess spent years doing hard labor in Nazi concentration camps and work sites.

Hitler is an evil man. It’s a shame.

Health
India to provide free generic drugs
India is set to provide generic drugs free to its people. In a country where public spending on health care last year was a mere $4.50 per person, the policy will make a vast difference to the lives of hundreds of millions.
The $5.4 billion policy will enable India’s public doctors to prescribe free medicines to all their patients. This is an immense improvement on the current situation, where only a quarter of India’s population can afford prescription drugs. The positive impact of the policy on the health of the population in a country characterised by extremes of wealth and poverty would be difficult to overstate. In India, forty percent of the population live on $1.25 per day or even less. For people in such circumstances, access to free medicine could well mean the difference between life and death.

Is anything ever really “free?” I’m sure taxpayers are paying for it.

Technology/Social Media
Mini-iPad coming this fall?
Rumors of a mythological miniature Apple tablet–smaller than the iPad but larger than the iPhone–have been circulating on the Internet for a while now, but if two new reports in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are to be believed, the myth will become a reality by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that a smaller Apple tablet may be on the market by the year’s end.

We don’t need a mini iPad.

Thousands face internet loss as FBI shuts off servers
More than 300,000 people, including many in the US and UK, could lose internet access later as the FBI shuts off servers used by cyber thieves.

The FBI seized the servers in November 2011 during raids to break up a gang of criminals who used viruses to infect more than four million victims.

Victims’ web searches were routed through the servers so they saw adverts that led to the gang being paid.

Many machines still harbour the gang’s malicious code.

Some people have nothing else better to do. Instead, they spread viruses to harm other people’s computers.

Business/Money
Netflix exceeds 1 billion monthly hours of video viewing
Netflix, the internet video streaming company, boasts they are world’s leading internet subscription service for watching movies and TV programs after they seem to be gaining back popularity.

After achieving over a billion monthly views, Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, posted a thank you to chief content officer Ted Sarandos on his facebook account.

That’s a lot of time spent watching stuff on Netflix. That reminds me that I need to utilize my account more. My sister uses my account to watch stuff more than I do.

British Airways program upsets privacy groups
A British Airways effort to improve customer service by letting airline employees look up passenger photos and other information on the Internet is ruffling feathers among privacy advocates.

Over the past year, British Airways equipped airline employees with Ipad devices to search passenger data such as previous travel arrangements, food preferences and even Google images. The London-based airline says the “Know Me” program was directed primarily to better serve VIP passengers.

Creepy.

Entertainment
Andy Griffith died of heart attack
The North Carolina native had long endured hypertension and hyperlipidemia, his certificate said, which can suggest high cholesterol or high triglycerides.

The heart attack occurred about 24 hours before he died, the certificate says. Griffith passed away at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning and was buried less than five hours later.
He was 86.

RIP Andy!

Declared Brain Dead by Doctors
Usher’s 11-year-old stepson has been declared brain dead by doctors following the accident yesterday when he was struck by a jet ski … TMZ has learned.

According to our sources, Kyle Glover (son of Usher’s estranged wife Tameka Foster) has not experienced any brain activity since he was admitted to the hospital. We’re told there has been no decision yet as to whether or not to take him off life support.

Oh wow, that’s so sad!

Did Scientology Eventually Bring Down Cruise-Holmes Marriage?
On Friday afternoon, Cruise and Holmes announced they were breaking up after five years of marriage. Holmes, who once claimed she and Cruise would “always be in our honeymoon phase,” filed for divorce in a New York court on Thursday, citing “irreconcilable differences” and seeking sole legal custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri.

The Internet wasted no time in speculating on what really wrecked their marriage: his religion.

“Scientology Was Her Breaking Point,” blasted TMZ, one of many gossip websites that made the allegation. Holmes filed her papers in New York (even though the couple lives in Los Angeles), perhaps a sign that she plans to move as far away from her soon-to-be ex-husband as possible.

Holmes, who converted to Scientology in 2005 before marrying Cruise, reportedly hadn’t been seen inside a Scientology Church for some time. Several years ago, she enrolled Suri in a Catholic preschool.

I don’t blame her. Tom Cruise and Scientology are just a bad mix.

Sports
Wimbledon grass faces Olympic race against time and nature
Just 20 days after the men’s final at the All England Club, the tennis competition at the 2012 London Olympics will begin — and the team working on the famous courts are keeping their fingers crossed that this week’s inclement weather does not cause any further delays.

Andy Newell from the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) gives Wimbledon head groundsman Eddie Seaward and his staff expert scientific advice on that preparation and admits that any delay into a third week would be a serious problem.

“They don’t want to lose time because they are already on such a fine edge and even a day would mean you lose 5% of your preparation, and that could be crucial,” he told CNN.

Ten of Wimbledon’s courts will be used for the Olympics and it’s going to prove Seaward’s biggest challenge — coming in his final year in the job, after more than two decades of involvement.

Preparation is the key, and the London Olympic Organizing Committee (LOCOG) insisted on a trial run at Wimbledon after the Games were awarded to the UK capital.

“We worked on them just a couple of years ago to prove to LOCOG that we could do that within a short period of time, get the courts back in pristine condition,” Seaward told CNN.

But trial run or not, it’s still a daunting prospect with little room for error. The grass must be cut to an exact 8 millimeters for optimum performance, and Seaward and his team have to keep a wary eye on that unpredictable British weather — ground temperature and humidity levels are constantly measured.

Wow, sounds like a tight deadline.

Weekly Roundup – 7/1/12

Virginia/US
U-Va. board unanimously reinstates Teresa Sullivan as president
The University of Virginia governing board voted unanimously Tuesday to reinstate Teresa Sullivan as president, more than two weeks after board leaders had forced her to resign and unleashed a storm of campus upheaval.

The board brought her back mainly because the governor gave them an ultimatum. He told the board to fix the problem or else they would all be forced to resign.

Gov. McDonnell declares state of emergency after deadly storms
McDonnell said Friday’s storms left at least six people dead in the state. He said two people died in Bedford County. Two were also killed in both Fairfax and Albemarle counties.
Officials said more than two million in the state are without power.
As a result, McDonnell said a state of emergency was issued for the Commonwealth Saturday morning. This gives localities power to implement curfew and also allows the governor access to up to 300 members of the National Guard.

We’ve been hit pretty bad this week, weather wise.

US Supreme Court upholds healthcare reform law
The US Supreme Court has said President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform act is constitutional.

The court upheld a core requirement known as the “individual mandate” that Americans buy insurance or pay a fine.

Of the nine justices on the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote was decisive in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in favour of the law.

Obamacare sounds socialistic. Then again, universal healthcare works for Canadians.

World
Dozens saved after second Christmas Island sinking
More than 120 people have been rescued after a boat sank north of Christmas Island, a week after an asylum-seeker boat sank in the area.

Australian officials said merchant vessels had gathered 123 people from the water, after the boat sent a distress call early on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said between 123 and 133 people were believed to have been on board.

Two Australian navy vessels were on their way to the site.

Sounds like mostly everyone was saved. :)

Health
Role of stress in dementia investigated
A Swedish study that followed nearly 1,500 women for a period of 35 years found the risk of dementia was about 65% higher in women who reported repeated periods of stress in middle age than in those who did not.

Scottish scientists, who have done studies in animals, believe the link may be down to hormones the body releases in response to stress which interfere with brain function.

Lovely…

Technology/Social Media
We Know What You’re Doing: Website exposes Facebook stupidity
The site uses Facebook’s Graph API, as well as publicly available Foursquare check-ins, to automatically generate streams of brainlessness, vitriol, and over-sharing from publicly available Facebook posts. These posts are categorized into four columns: Who wants to get fired? (people ranting about their job, bosses); Who’s hungover?; Who’s taking drugs?; and Who’s got a new phone number? Each post includes the user’s profile picture, and lists their first name and last initial. In other words, there’s nothing anonymous about this — that’s the point.

This is why you watch what you post.

Entertainment
TomKat declawed: Katie Holmes divorcing Tom Cruise
But the couple’s romance was instant fodder for the tabloids, who chattered about everything from the couple’s fights and Suri’s clothing to Holmes’ conversion to Scientology.

Sounds like a hot mess marriage.

Sports
Michael Phelps makes the right call, deciding seven is enough for the London Olympics
Michael Phelps did a wise thing Monday: He gave up the chance to compete for another eight Olympic gold medals.

The move will allow him to rest properly at the London Games and have time to recover between races, which is much more important now that he’s 27 years old, his body battered by a dozen years of high-level swimming. He’s out of an event that might be more loaded than any other, one he certainly could’ve won — never bet against Phelps — but appeared more competitive than his other races.

He needs all the rest he can get.

Weekly Roundup – 6/17/12 & 6/24/12

I’m combining these two weeks because I didn’t spend too much time reading stories on the web. :(

Virginia/US
Dad changing tire on I-95, dies in front of 2 children
Police said Steven Ridley, age 35, was stopped on the right shoulder changing a flat tire on a 2010 Chrysler 300M, when Robert M. Krill, of Pennsylvania, ran off the right side of the roadway in his U-Haul and struck Ridley and his vehicle.

Ridley died at the scene. Police said his vehicle’s hazard lights were activated.

Police said that Ridley’s 14 year-old son was outside the vehicle assisting his father when the crash occurred. He was not injured.

Ridley’s nine-year-old daughter, who was seated inside the vehicle in the front passenger seat, suffered minor injuries and was transported to VCU Medical Center.

I can’t imagine what his children must be going through. It’s so sad.

GOP convention held in Richmond
The GOP also tried to unify their party, especially after a vote this week by the GOP’s State Central Committee. They decided to change their method for choosing candidates for statewide elections in 2013 from an open primary to a convention.

I wonder how this will play out.

Judge: Sandusky defense can call experts on personality disorder
Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach accused of systemic sexual abuse of boys, are expected to begin presenting their client’s case next week, when the high-profile trial resumes.

When they do, they will be able to call experts to testify about whether Sandusky suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder, thanks to a judge’s ruling Friday.

He definitely has a twisted mind/personality for sure.

For Many Immigrants, Policy Offers Joy and Relief
For many immigrants here, especially students like Ms. Sochitl, Mr. Obama’s announcement on Friday of his plan to offer work permits to some illegal immigrants under 30 years old who came to the United States before age 16, unleashed a wave of joy and relief, undercut with wariness about if and how the policy might be implemented. The policy does not grant any permanent legal status.

I think it’s good news, especially since a lot of these people didn’t have a choice.

Rodney King dead at 47
Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was caught on camera and sparked riots after the acquittal of the four officers involved, was found dead in his swimming pool Sunday, authorities and his fiancee said. He was 47.

RIP Rodney King.

Gas prices break below $3.00 at multiple SWVA gas stations
According to the GasBuddy.com price finder, stations in Troutville, Fancy Gap, and Collinsville are each at $2.99 or $2.98.

Wow, that’s cheap! I wish gas prices were like that around here. I don’t want to drive 4 hours for cheap gas.

Details of the Jerry Sandusky verdict
After nearly 21 hours of deliberations, the jury in the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky reached a verdict Friday night. It found him guilty of 45 of 48 counts.

There originally were 52 charges against Sandusky. On Thursday, Judge John Cleland announced that three of the counts were dismissed, and earlier this week a fourth charge was withdrawn by prosecutors, bringing the total number of charges to 48.

Thank goodness.

World
Egypt awaits presidential election results
The results are due in the coming hours, after the election commission heard appeals by the two candidates.

Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq have both claimed victory and vowed to form unity governments.

Thousands of their supporters spent the night in the centre of Cairo amid increasing political polarisation.

Correspondents say the atmosphere has been peaceful, but tense.

Political divide. What else is new?

Daredevil Takes a Successful Walk Across a Popular Void
Mr. Wallenda, in a red shirt, seemed to float over the roiling waters beneath him. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., as he neared the end, the crowd of roughly 100,000 people in Canada roared; Mr. Wallenda took a knee, pumped a fist, and ran a few steps to the end. He hugged his family and then called his 84-year-old grandmother to assure her that he was all right.

That’s awesome! Way to go.

Japan to restart first nuclear reactors since tsunami
Japan’s government on Saturday approved bringing the country’s first nuclear reactors back online since last year’s earthquake and tsunami led to a nationwide shutdown, going against wider public opinion that is opposed to nuclear power after Fukushima.

Oh boy, this doesn’t look good.

Health
Deadly bubonic plague found in Oregon: Back to the Middle Ages?
A man has been hospitalized in Oregon who is believed to be suffering from the black plague, a disease that killed about one-third of the population of Europe during the Middle Ages.

The unidentified man in his 50s became ill several days after being bitten when he tried to get a mouse out of the mouth of a stray cat, according to OregonLive.com. The man was listed in critical condition in a Bend hospital on Tuesday.

Oh my goodness! I hope he will be ok.

Technology/Social Media
Nokia to provide incoming Seton Hall University freshman with Lumia 900
Nokia on Tuesday announced a new partnership with Seton Hall University that will see all incoming freshman receive a Lumia 900 smartphone. The handset will be equipped with SHUmobile, an app available across multiple platforms that provides access to campus news feeds, directories and maps. The Lumia 900s offered by the school will also have access to a custom Freshmen Experience section that allows users to communicate with their freshmen peers, academic advisers, roommates and to view housing information. The university will use Nokia Data Gather to conduct polls and gather other information from the students. The entire class of 2016 will receive a Nokia Lumia 900 with free service from AT&T for the fall semester, but they must foot the bill or rely on Wi-Fi networks after the semester ends.

Nice. Good way to move forward with technology.

Flirting App Under Fire, After Three Children Are Raped
Skout, a fast-growing and free flirting app for iOS, has come under fire recently, after it was discovered that a third child was raped by a man posing as a teenager in the app’s separate section for 13- to 17-year-olds.

Ew.

Ethiopia clamps down on Skype and other internet use on Tor
Users already face up to 15 years in jail if they use Skype or similar internet call services.

“The Ethiopian government is trying to attack every means of information exchange,” Ambroise Pierre from the Reporters Without Borders Africa service told BBC News.

“There’s already a very strict control over written press, and last year several journalists were arrested, and now the government is tackling communications over the internet.

Wow, that’s harsh.

Can living without the web increase the social divide?
One third of all Americans – 100 million people – have not adopted broadband at home. In South Korea and Singapore adoption rates top 90%, according to a 2010 study by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

And there is a growing divide between the digital haves and have-nots: Less than one third of the poorest Americans have adopted broadband, while more than 90% of the richest have adopted, says Digital Nation 2011, a US government report.

It’s hard to even function without the internet.

Facebook Now Lets You Edit Comments
But starting Thursday the site is also now offering the ability to edit your comment — and change that pappy back to the puppy you intended in the first place. The edit option appears in the form of a small pencil icon on the right side of your comment. Clicking on the pencil will bring up a drop-down menu the option to edit your comment as well as the option to delete it entirely.

Finally.

Kyck: the Social Network for Soccer Fans
Launched as a website last summer and iOS app [iTunes link] in April, Kyck lets you follow and be followed by other users and get content delivered based on the teams and players you support. Following users means their posts — whether photos, comments on live matches or takes on club or international squads — are delivered to a stream that resembles something of a cross between Twitter and Tumblr feeds.

You can tag your own posts by player or team so that they’re filtered into specific conversations. A Top Kycks section, meanwhile, delivers content the app’s algorithm deems most relevant to you for quick browsing according to the favorites you list in your profile. Checking in to specific club or international matches means you get game updates and stats delivered within the app or via push notification.

That’s pretty cool.

LinkedIn Slapped With $5 Million Lawsuit Over Password Breach
The news just keeps getting worse for LinkedIn. The social network for work professionals is being sued for $5 million after more than 6 million of its users’ passwords were leaked online earlier this month.

Katie Szpyrka, a LinkedIn user from Illinois, filed the lawsuit. She claims LinkedIn deceived its more than 160 million members by having a security policy “in clear contradiction of accepted industry standards for database security.” Szpyrka is seeking class-action status for the suit.
Ouch.

Bill C-11 passes Commons, allowing for U.S.-style copyright law
Bill C-11 passed a final vote at third reading on Monday night, bringing Canadians one step closer to SOPA-like regulation of their media consumption. According to the CBC, the bill was immediately introduced to the Senate after passing the vote, and will likely be sped through the Senate review process, meaning it stands a good chance of becoming law in the coming month.
Regular readers of The Right Click are likely quite familiar with what the copyright bill will mean to Canadians: Bill C-11 would allow rights holders to include ‘digital locks’ on their content, which includes music, video, e-books and software. Users can make copies for personal backups, but all other duplication could result in fines for doing so.

Oh boy… a bunch of Canadians won’t be happy about this.

Business/Money
Super Size It: McMansions Making a Comeback
Reverting back to a “bigger is better” mentality, interest in mega-mansions 3,200 square feet and larger has almost doubled from a year ago, according to new data from real estate website Trulia. About 11 percent of today’s house hunters say they want their own McMansions, up from just 6 percent last year.

How can people afford houses like these? I can’t even begin to fathom.

Entertainment
‘Call Me Maybe’ Tops 100 Million Views
Thanks in no small part to numerous tributes, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is up to 120 million views on YouTube. According to YouTube Trends, the video, which was released in February, has picked up momentum over the last few weeks as well, topping 100 million sometime this month.

Wow, that’s a lot of views.

Sports
Thunder face tough choices after loss in NBA Finals
The Thunder enter the offseason with coach Scott Brooks’ contract about to expire, Sixth Man of the Year James Harden and NBA blocks leader Serge Ibaka eligible for new deals and the future of veterans Derek Fisher and Nazr Mohammed up in the air.

It will be up to general manager Sam Presti to determine whether they all can still fit on a team where All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are already locked into expensive, long-term deals.

It doesn’t look good for the Thunder.