Weekly Roundup – 4/1/12

Starbuggs? Strawberry Frappuccino Colored by Insects
In what the company, in a statement, says was a move intended to reduce its use of artificial ingredients, Starbucks has started using cochineal extract to supply its Frappuccinos’ strawberry hue. Cochineal extract is derived from grinding up insects, the dried bodies of cochineal bugs, found primarily in Mexico and South America. Cochineal dye has been used as a coloring agent since the 15th century.

I know it sounds gross, but this is also used in jam and some other things.

Harry Potter breaks e-book lockdown
When the Harry Potter books finally went on sale in electronic form on Tuesday, it was as if Harry himself had cast the “Alohomora” spell on them — the one that unlocks doors.

In a break with industry practices, the books aren’t locked down by encryption, which means consumers can move them between devices and read them anywhere they like.

If “Pottermore,” J.K. Rowling’s new Web store, proves a success, it could provide a model for other authors and publishers and undermine the clout of Amazon.com Inc., which dominates e-book sales.

This is huge for the Harry Potter franchise. It shows that they are moving ahead.

Google to Launch Third-Party
The Google comment system, which will almost certainly rival that of Facebook, will have deep links to Google’s network of services and websites, indexing comments in Google Search, and most significantly, the system will be available for use on third party sites.

I’m not surprised at all. Seems like Google and Facebook are copying each other these days.

Newt Gingrich cuts staff, aims for Tampa
After twice resurrecting his campaign from dire situations, Gingrich has effectively skipped big primary states since his loss to Mitt Romney in the Florida and Nevada primaries. He focused on the South but won only two states in the entire GOP primary contest: South Carolina and his former home state of Georgia.

Honestly, if I were Gingrich, I’d drop out. It’s hard to beat Mitt Romney now.

Supreme Court questions validity over Obama healthcare law
The legal challenge has been brought by 26 US states which say the individual mandate violates the principles of freedom and liberty enshrined in the US constitution.

Backers of the law see the provision, which does not take effect until 2014, as crucial for reducing the numbers of Americans living without health insurance.

As the latest session got under way, protesters for and against the law once again held demonstrations on the steps of the court in Washington DC, reflecting the bitterly divisive passions aroused by the law.

People shouldn’t be penalized if they don’t have healthcare.

Apples Are Growing in American Homes
Half of all U.S. households own at least one Apple product, according to CNBC’s All-America Economic survey.

That’s more than 55 million homes with at least one iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac computer. And one-in-10 homes that aren’t currently in that group plan to join it in the next year.

But Apple doesn’t have to worry about brand saturation any time soon. Americans don’t stop with just one device. Homes that own least one Apple, own an average of three. Overall, the average household has 1.6 Apple devices, with almost one-quarter planning to buy at least one more in the next year.

I personally own three Apple devices (MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPod Touch.) Total for our household = 6 (the family’s iMac, my mom’s iPhone, and my sister’s iPod.)

Witness details Trayvon Martin’s killing
The witness recounted seeing two men on the grass, one on top of the other. “And at that point, not looking out the window, I heard the yell for help, one yell for help, and then I heard another … excruciating type of yell. It didn’t almost sound like ‘help.’ It just sounded so painful. But I wasn’t watching out the window during that. And then the next time I looked out the window, there’s the same thing: two men on the grass, one on top of each other. I couldn’t see a lot of movement. It was very dark, but I felt like they were scuffling. And then I heard the gunshots, which, to me, were more like pops than they were like a bang.”

The witness recalled hearing more than one shot. “It definitely was more than one pop noise, so I don’t know if it was an echo or anything else. But it definitely made more than one pop.”
The witness said the shots were audible as one man was on top of the other. But the witness recalled not having been able to see clearly which man was on top because it was dark.
Within a couple of seconds after the shots, one of the men “was walking toward where I was watching, and I could see him a little bit clearer. Could see that it was a Hispanic man. He didn’t appear hurt or anything else.”

But the man, who by now had left the grass and was walking on the sidewalk, did seem worried, “with his hand up to his forehead,” the witness said. “Now, a couple of seconds later, in the dark, you see that person that’s alive walk away; you know, obviously, OK, he must’ve got up and he walked away, where the other person is still laying there, face down.”

This is why George Zimmerman needs to testify before a grand jury. Zimmerman has been saying one thing. Now, this witness is saying another. There needs to be some justice here. It’s not fair for Trayvon or his family.

Winning Mega Millions ticket for $640 mil jackpot sold in Maryland
Forget about how the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot could change the life of the winner. It’s a collective wager that could fund a presidential campaign several times over, make a dent in struggling state budgets or take away the gas worries and grocery bills for thousands of middle-class citizens.

And it’s a cheap investment for the chance of a big reward, no matter how long the odds — 1 in 176 million.

That’s just insane.

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