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?

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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.

Weekly Roundup – 6/10/12

Virginia/US
Redskins say ‘thank you’ to fans in Richmond
Some current and former players of the Washington Redskins visited the area this weekend as part of the 80th anniversary of their “Thank You Tour.”

That’s really nice of them to stop by and greet the fans.

CNN Electoral Map: Seven states up in the air in fight for White House
According to the CNN map unveiled Monday, the president leads Romney in 19 states and the District of Columbia, which if he carried those in the general election would give him 247 electoral votes. Romney, the unofficial GOP presidential nominee pending the party’s convention, leads in 24 states, which would give him 206 electoral votes.

Is it November yet?

Obama: No more Mr. Nice guy
Even some Democrats were stunned by a recent Obama campaign ad attacking Romney’s successful career at Bain Capital as a story of corporate looting and worker exploitation. “Like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” says a worker in the cinematic campaign ad; it profiles a Kansas City steel mill that was shut down after Romney’s firm took over. Says another: “They came in and they destroyed—it was like watching an old friend bleed to death.”

Like the “Swift Boat” attacks that allies of George W. Bush unleashed in 2004, assailing John Kerry’s military record, Obama’s ads don’t highlight an opponent’s weaknesses, rather, they seek to reverse his biggest strength—in Romney’s case, a reputation as an expert in engineering economic turnarounds. The Obama ad focused on one company: Kansas City’s GST Steel, which Bain Capital bought in 1993, then shuttered in 2001. Bain, over those eight years, loaded the steel company with debt, using the borrowed money to pay itself dividends; when it eventually took the company into bankruptcy, workers lost jobs, benefits and some pension payments. PolitiFact, the Pulitzer-winning fact-checking website, rated the ad “mostly true.” What it left out was the broader picture. As CEO of Bain Capital, Romney helped successfully turn around other companies, creating thousands of jobs. Several business-friendly Democrats lined up to denounce the ad, among them, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, who called it “nauseating.” Obama’s former auto bailout adviser, Steve Rattner, labelled it “unfair.” Even Bill Clinton chimed in, defending Romney’s business career as “sterling.”

You know it’s already very ugly when some people in your own party disagree with you. It’s just going to get uglier.

Massive Japanese dock washes up on Oregon beach
Oregon is working with other West coast states, the Federal government, non-profits and others to coordinate cleaning up the debris. Japan has estimated that as much as 1.5 million tons of debris could still be afloat.

The 66-foot-(20-metre-) long dock is made mostly of concrete and metal, with a small metal plaque with Japanese writing attached.

It washed up early on Tuesday morning on scenic Agate Beach, just north of Newport, Oregon, about 110 miles (177 km) southwest of Portland.

Who would’ve thought debris from Japan would wash up on a beach in Oregon?

World
Forced marriage to become criminal offence, David Cameron confirms
“Forced marriage is abhorrent and little more than slavery. To force anyone into marriage against their will is simply wrong and that is why we have taken decisive action to make it illegal,” said Cameron.

Agreed. It violates human rights.

US calls on China to free Tiananmen prisoners
The US statement, issued by the Department of State, called on Beijing to “provide a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing; and to end the continued harassment of demonstration participants and their families.”

“We renew our call for China to protect the universal human rights of all its citizens; release those who have been wrongfully detained, prosecuted, incarcerated, forcibly disappeared, or placed under house arrest; and end the ongoing harassment of human rights activists and their families,” said the statement, issued by Mark Toner, the Department of State’s deputy spokesman.

The 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in China gained international coverage, with an image of a lone protester obstructing a column of tanks, bringing the protests to the attention of the world at a time when citizens of the Soviet Union and Communist countries in eastern Europe were gaining greater freedoms.

But on June 4 the Chinese military dispersed the protesters using tanks and live ammunition. No official toll has been provided, but estimates range from hundreds to more than 1,000 killed, with up to 10,000 injured and thousands detained.

This is so sad.

Buckingham Palace rocks in queen’s honor
With a military band, a string orchestra and electric guitars on full blast, London’s Buckingham Palace was transformed into a rock venue on Monday as some of the biggest names in music celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney headlined a colorful evening of flag-waving entertainment that also saw Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Tom Jones take the stage alongside younger acts.

Sounds like my kind of party.

Magnotta probe widens to include Vancouver remains
Montreal police have confirmed the remains sent by mail to two Vancouver schools came from Montreal, but said today they’ll have to wait for DNA testing before they can determine if the hand and foot belong to slain Montreal student Jun Lin.

Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière told a news conference in Montreal on Wednesday morning it’s still unclear what, if any links exist between Lin’s alleged killer, Luka Rocco Magnotta, and the elementary schools that received the packages Tuesday afternoon.

Ew.

Health
Fitness trainer gains and loses 70 pounds in 1 year — on purpose
Manning says he didn’t realize the effects of his weight gain would be more than physical. It altered his relationships and his self-confidence. Returning to the gym after the Fit2Fat portion of his journey made him nervous. The fact that he had to do push-ups on his knees was almost humiliating.

“The biggest thing [I learned] is that it’s not just about the physical. It’s not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realized those issues are real.”

You don’t know what it’s like, until you walk in other people’s shoes.

Technology/Social Media
RIM’s 16G Playbook destined for the dumpster
Little more than a year after it launched its foray into the tablet market, Research In Motion announced it is getting rid of the 16-gigabyte version of its struggling Playbook.

In a statement e-mailed to several media outlets Thursday, the Waterloo, Ont. company said it will “remain committed to the tablet space” and that it intends to keep selling the 32GB and 64GB models of the PlayBook.

I wonder how long Blackberry will last. Seems like no one is interested in any of their products.

6.5 Million Encrypted LinkedIn Passwords Leaked Online [REPORT]
A Russian forum user claims he has hacked LinkedIn, uploading 6,458,020 encrypted passwords (without usernames) as proof.

The passwords are encrypted with the SHA-1 cryptographic hash function, used in SSL and TLS and generally considered to be relatively secure, but not foolproof. Unfortunately, it also seems that passwords are stored as unsalted hashes, which it makes it much easier to decipher them using pre-computed rainbow tables.

It’s a shame that some people have nothing else better to do than hacking into people’s accounts.

Twitter’s bird logo gets a makeover
“Starting today you’ll begin to notice a simplified Twitter bird,” Twitter said in a blog post Wednesday. “From now on, this bird will be the universally recognizable symbol of Twitter. (Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter.) There’s no longer a need for text, bubbled typefaces, or a lowercase “t” to represent Twitter.”

Twitter gave no reason for the refreshed bird, which is less chubby, has fewer feathers and is angled more towards the sky than its predecessor. But jokesters in the Twittersphere, where #twitterbird was trending Wednesday, were only too happy to offer some.

I didn’t even notice until after I read this article.

Licence to text
But the biggest reason for the move away from driving is the Internet—in some ways, it has replaced the need for a car, since how we connect has completely changed. According to the Zipcar survey, 68 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds said they sometimes use social media to connect with friends and family instead of going out to see them. The Michigan study found that having a higher proportion of Internet users is associated with lower licensing rates among young people. If given the choice between having Internet access or a car, 46 per cent of all 18- to 24-year-old U.S. drivers say they’d take the Internet, according to technology researcher Gartner Inc. “Virtual contact through the Internet is replacing the need for physical contact,” says Michael Sivak, head of UMTRI’s Human Factors Group and the Michigan study’s co-author. “They just don’t need to be with others as often as they did in the past, because they can connect other ways than physically.” Car manufacturers are all too aware of the shift. “For many baby boomers and Gen Xers, the car was a really important status symbol,” says Sheryl Connelly, manager of Ford global consumer trends and futuring. “Today, it’s a cellphone, and a lot of kids are getting one before they turn 16.”

Everyone can now shop, watch movies, play games, listen to music and catch up with friends online. When kids do leave the house, many would rather take the bus and stay connected. Texting is the dominant daily mode of communication for teens, according to the Pew Research Center—but in every Canadian province, there’s a ban on using hand-held cellphones while driving. “When you talk to people about why they don’t drive, they’ll say that when they’re driving, they’re not connected,” Baxandall says.

I think driving is a necessity, along with all those things mentioned above, especially if you live in the suburbs where it’s hard to catch a bus or bike to work.

Privacy, Please: This Is Only for the Two of Us
Curious, I tried it — even though I’m single. I recruited a friend to help me test it. And, after a few hours, the app started to grow on me. Something was thrilling about the secret little notes that Shaun, my temporary beau, and I sent to each other throughout the day.

The secrecy was welcome. We weren’t cluttering up anyone else’s feeds on Twitter, and didn’t have to worry about random high school friends seeing and commenting on our exchanges on Facebook. In addition, there were gestures distinct to the app. It let us share information about our locations, and to exchange doodles, to-do lists and virtual nudges — all conveying that “I’m thinking about you.”

The app highlights the best elements of social networking — the warm, fuzzy feeling of being connected to people you care about when you’re physically nowhere near them. And it says it eliminates some of the worst — the worry about who can see the content you’re posting and how they may interpret it.

I’d like to try this out with someone eventually.

Facebook Will Disappear by 2020, Says Analyst
Facebook‘s sliding stock price has at least one hedge fund manager predicting a dismal decade ahead for the social network.

“In five to eight years they are going to disappear in the way that Yahoo has disappeared,” Ironfire Capital founder Eric Jackson told the CNBC show Squawk on the Street on Monday.

Everything comes and goes. It’s expected. Just look at MySpace.

Did Paul Otlet, Belgian Entrepreneur And Bibliographer, Invent The Internet In 1934? (VIDEO)
In 1934, Paul Otlet realized that the wires and radio waves connecting the world could be used for more than chatter and entertainment, but also to bring the world’s knowledge into any home.

In his Radiated Library vision, people would place a telephone call requesting information to a great library. It wasn’t as easy as typing a question into Google, but Otlet was making the most of the technology he had.

Wow! He was definitely on to something. It’s always cool to see how people back then predicted the future. Click on the link to watch the video.

Facebook Launches App Center for Android, iPhone
What this means: You’ll soon be able to customize your mobile Facebook app. Will Facebook be charging for the apps? Here’s a clue: the company explicitly doesn’t want to call it a “store,” according to ABC News.

“The App Center is launching tonight with more than 600 social apps, including Nike+ GPS, Ubisoft Ghost Recon Commander, Stitcher Radio, Draw Something, and Pinterest,” Facebook reps wrote in an email.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with their app center. Maybe it might somewhat help them recover from not doing so well on the stock exchange. Although, it’s kinda annoying that every service is requiring everyone to have a Facebook just to use their product. It’s like all these companies want to access your Facebook data. Also, we really don’t need another app center.

Business/Money
Post This on Your FB Page: Interns Get $6K a Month
On average, 20 U.S. Facebook software engineer interns who reported their earnings on the online career information sharing community averaged a monthly salary of $6,225. Another six Facebook software engineer interns reported earnings that averaged $6,883 monthly.

Glassdoor.com’s data further breaks down across U.S. cities in which Facebook’s offices are located. At the Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, the reported average income a software engineer intern pockets comes in at $5,800 a month.

That’s insane!

Rent In Manhattan Reaches Record High In May 2012, Report Says
The average rent in Manhattan hit a record high of $3,438 per month in May, according to a new report from Citi Habitats, a residential brokerage firm. That’s largely because there are too few apartments available to meet growing demand: The Manhattan vacancy rate was just 0.89 percent in May.

Wowza! Who can afford that?

Entertainment
Former ‘Family Feud’ host Richard Dawson dies
Richard Dawson, the longtime host of “Family Feud” known for planting kisses on female contestants, has died, his son said in a statement Sunday. He was 79.

RIP Richard! Family Feud isn’t the same…

John Mayer on being the subject of Taylor Swift’s ‘Dear John’: ‘It’s cheap songwriting’
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the reformed playboy went public with his feelings toward the Taylor Swift Speak Now track “Dear John,” a song-letter Swift wrote for the older singer, following their brief (and apparently not awesome) love affair.

“It made me feel terrible,” Mayer said of the song. “Because I didn’t deserve it. I’m pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that.

Obviously, I don’t know what happened in their relationship, but what was Taylor thinking? John Mayer of all people…

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are engaged! Which celeb married too young?
“I’m so happy to be engaged and look forward to a life of happiness with Liam,” Cyrus told the mag.

The Australian hunk popped the question on May 31 with a 3.5-carat diamond ring from jeweler Neil Lane, three years after he started dating Miley, People reports. The couple met on the set of “The Last Song” in 2009; at the time, Miley called Hemsworth her “first serious boyfriend.” They’ve since broken up and gotten back together multiple times, according to reports.

She’s way too young to be engaged, and she makes me feel old. Besides, if she and Liam have broken up and gotten back together multiple times, then how on earth is this marriage going to last? Oh Hollywood…

Megan Fox Is Pregnant — See Her Bump!
Megan Fox and her husband of two years, Brian Austin Green, are expecting their first child together, multiple sources confirm to Us Weekly. Fox revealed an unmistakable baby bump wearing an off-the shoulder sweatshirt and jeans during a sunny stroll in L.A. on Thursday.

Congrats!

Sports
Olympic swimmers in trouble again over gun photos
The photo of Monk holding two pump-action shotguns and standing beside D’Arcy, who had a pistol in each hand, in a U.S gun shop spread quickly in social and traditional media Thursday, with Sydney Daily Telegraph taking to Twitter to ask: “Are you offended by this photograph of Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk in a US gun shop?”

Swimming Australia issued a statement saying it became aware of “inappropriate photos” and “instantly contacted the athletes involved to ask for them to be removed.”

This is why you don’t post inappropriate photos. They’ll get you in trouble later.

Charlie Sheen barred from re-entering Stanley Cup Final game
The actor was blocked Wednesday from re-entering Staples Center during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils, the Los Angeles Times reports. The arena has signs stating that those who leave through certain exits are not permitted to re-enter.
Why do stars think they are above the law?

Stanley Cup Finals TV Ratings: Game 4 Still Down Year-To-Year, But Up From Game 3
The New Jersey Devils’ Game 4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings drew 2.06 million viewers on NBC Sports Network. That’s a 24 percent drop from last year’s Game 4, which saw 2.71 million viewers check out the Bruins and Canucks. It is, however, a solid 16 percent growth over Game 3 (1.74 million). The game will go down as the most-watched contest on NBC Sports Network this season.

You’d think events like these would draw in millions of viewers. I guess not.

Maria Sharapova sits among greats after French Open win
After four years, 17 major tournaments and a career-threatening injury, Maria Sharapova is back.

The 25-year-old Russian beat Sara Errani on Saturday to lift her maiden French Open title and complete the career Grand Slam.

Yay! Congrats!

I’ll Have Another’s career suddenly ends with injury
I’ll Have Another’s bid for the first Triple Crown in 34 years ended stunningly Friday when the chestnut colt was retired on the eve of the Belmont Stakes with an injury to his left front tendon.

So sad! I hope he comes out of retirement once he heals.

Redskins moving training camp to Richmond in 2013
“The Washington Redskins bringing their summer training camp to Richmond is beyond exciting,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. “This will have a great economic impact for Richmond and the region! I thank the owners and senior executives of the Redskins for their ongoing work with us to determine the right facilities to meet the team’s needs. I thank Governor McDonnell for his leadership. Hail to the Redskins!”

In addition, the Redskins will keep their corporate headquarters in the Commonwealth. They will also expand Redskins Park in Loudoun County, where their training facility is located.

It’s about time. We need some national sports presence here.

Weekly Roundup – 5/27/12

Virginia/US
iPhone ‘stolen’ on Disney cruise, pictures uploaded to Facebook
Katy McCaffrey had her iPhone stolen while aboard the Disney Wonder in April. The ship is operated by Disney Cruise Line.

A man, who appears to be a Disney employee named “Nelson,” allegedly used the stolen iPhone to take photos of himself and other coworkers aboard the ship. Those photos were then automatically uploaded to McCaffrey’s Apple iCloud Photo Stream account.

This is why you don’t steal people’s iPhones or anything that doesn’t belong to you. As a former Disney Cast Member, I’m ashamed how these people behaved.

Source: RPD cops made ‘inappropriate comments’ about Obama, first lady
In his re-election bid for the White House, President Barack Obama stopped at VCU’s Siegel Center earlier this month where thousands of people flocked to hear him speak.
But a source within the Richmond Police Department (RPD), who does not want to reveal his identity for fear of retribution, is blowing the whistle on the department.
The man tells CBS 6 News’ Sandra Jones that inappropriate comments were made by a 20-year police veteran, against the president and first lady.
“There was an officer providing exterior security to the President on that day on the phone with the supervisor. The supervisor said to that particular officer, ‘you’re down there right? So, you can take a couple of shots, you might have to kill yourself, but you can take a couple of shots.’”

This is coming from law enforcement? That’s not right at all.

Richmond billboard turning heads
The billboard outside Ellwood Thompson’s says “1, 2, 3, 4. Open The Closet Door. 5, 6, 7, 8. Don’t Assume Your Kids Are Straight.”
The creators of the billboard, Mothers and Others of Virginia, say they’re raising awareness of discrimination against gays and lesbians in Virginia by some citizens and lawmakers.

I’m not sure what to think of this billboard.

World
China hits back on U.S. human rights
“The United States’ tarnished human rights record has left it in no state — whether on a moral, political or legal basis — to act as the world’s ‘human rights justice,’ ” China said in an annual report on U.S. human rights.
The report cited the arrests of protesters participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States. Many protesters, it said, accused police of brutality.
It also said the United States has “fairly strict restrictions” on the Internet, saying the U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act both have clauses about monitoring the Internet, giving the government or law enforcement organizations power to monitor and block any Internet content “harmful to national security.”
Chen Guangcheng: I’m doing fine Chinese dissident Chen’ new life
“The facts contained in the report are a small yet illustrative fraction of the United States’ dismal record on its own human rights situation,” China’s report said.
Thursday, the U.S. State Department criticized a number of countries, including China, in its annual report on human rights around the world. The human rights situation in China, it said, “deteriorated, particularly the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association,” with Chinese forces reportedly committing “arbitrary or unlawful killings.”

Wow. Both countries have human rights issues.

Health
Music: It’s in your head, changing your brain
“I think there’s enough evidence to say that musical experience, musical exposure, musical training, all of those things change your brain,” says Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University. “It allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”

Gotta love music.

Technology/Social Media
Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)
An array of products, with no natural connections to one another, have received the “Windows Live” moniker. Windows Live Essentials, for example, was the name for a suite of software products that could be installed on a PC, and included photo management, video editing and instant messaging. Windows Live Mesh provided file synchronization among one’s personal computers, including Macs. And the list went on: Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Search, Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Writer, and others.

Except for maybe Windows Live Mail, who used these programs?

Business/Money
With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves File Early and Often
With nothing more than ledgers of stolen identity information — Social Security numbers and their corresponding names and birth dates — criminals have electronically filed thousands of false tax returns with made-up incomes and withholding information and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongful refunds, law enforcement officials say.

The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.

The government-approved cards, intended to help people who have no bank accounts, are widely available in many places, including tax preparation companies. Some of them are mailed, and the swindlers often provide addresses for vacant houses, even buying mailboxes for them, and then collect the refunds there.

This is crazy. Basically, they’re just trying to cash in on people’s refund checks.

Entertainment
‘American Idol’ finale: Ace Young proposes to Diana DeGarmo
At least Ryan Seacrest didn’t make us wait until after the commercial break. During the “American Idol” finale, he invited former “American Idol” also-rans Diana DeGarmo (she placed second to Fantasia Barrino in season three) and boyfriend Ace Young (he made it halfway through season five) up to the stage, and then stepped aside as Young got down on his knee and proposed to his girlfriend of two years.

Aw, congrats guys!

American Idol Finale: Who Won the Whole Thing?!
Phillip Phillips was named the winner of the 11th season of American Idol tonight—and was immediately engulfed in hugs and back-pats from his fellow finalists before last year’s winner, Scotty McCreery, handed the trophy over.

Congrats!

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Donald Driver pulls out surprise win
Donald Driver took home the coveted mirror ball trophy Tuesday night on “Dancing With the Stars.” The victory was a bit of a surprise, with runner-up Katherine Jenkins and third-place finisher William Levy performing well with their partners throughout the season.

Congrats Donald and Peta!

What were the Top 10 most-watched shows this season?
CBS can call itself the country’s most-watched network for the ninth time in the past 10 years.

The network won the 2011-12 television season, which ended Wednesday, by averaging nearly 12 million viewers each week. That’s about 3 million more viewers than closest competitor Fox, the largest margin of victory of any network in more than two decades.

America continued to be passionate about reality competition series this season, although there are signs of wear and tear in the relationship. Half the country’s 10 most-watched programs this season were reality competition shows, including two nights each of “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars,” and NBC’s “The Voice.”

Gotta admit that I watch a few reality shows. The only shows I watch on CBS are The Big Bang Theory, The Amazing Race, and How I Met Your Mother. Other than that, I watch DWTS, So You Think You Can Dance, Smash, Grey’s Anatomy, The Bachelor, The Office, and Glee. Occasionally, I’ll watch American Idol, Mad Men, and Weeds. New shows I’m looking forward to this summer: Duets and The Newsroom.

“Call Me Maybe”: The song of summer 2012
If “Call Me Maybe” hasn’t gotten its hook into your head by now, it’s only a matter of time. Jepsen’s earwormy tune has all the characteristics of a great summer song, as did Katy Perry’s ”California Gurls” in 2010, and “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” last August. It describes the nervousness of making the first move on a crush: “Hey, I just met you / And this is crazy / So here’s my number / So call me, maybe?”

It’s such a cheesy song, but I love it!

Sports
London 2012: Haile Gebrselassie Olympic 10,000m hopes ended
Ethiopian two-time Olympic 10,000m champion Haile Gebrselassie has failed to qualify for this summer’s Games in London after finishing seventh at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo.
With the race being an official Ethiopian Olympic trial, Gebrselassie needed a top-two finish to qualify.
But the 39-year-old ran a time of 27 minutes 20.39 seconds, nearly nine seconds behind winner Tariku Bekele.

Wow, what a difference 9 seconds makes.

Weekly Roundup – 5/13/12 & 5/20/12

I’m combining these two weeks because I didn’t have much time to do a weekly roundup last week.

Virginia/US
Michelle Obama to Va. Tech: Don’t let violence define school
“There will always be folks who judge you based on things that you say or do; folks who define you based on one isolated incident,” she told tens of thousands of Hokie graduates at Lane Stadium. “And here at Virginia Tech, I know you all know a thing or two about what that’s like. But you also know that, in the end, people can only define you if you let them.”
She urged them to stand up for the school’s academic and community successes when outsiders focus only on recollections of the tragedy. The graduates in the four-year bachelor’s degree program were in the first freshman class to attend the school after the shootings.

I wish I heard her speech.

Richmond man interrogated at airport because of yard work
A Richmond man is detained by TSA at the airport and interrogated for an hour and a half. Ralph Stephenson was flying out of the Richmond International Airport Sunday for a business meeting when he ended up getting questioned by TSA officials.

It turns out, it’s the yard work he did Saturday that landed him in the hot seat.

“I said yesterday I fertilized some rhododendrons and I used Hollytone,” said Stephenson. “I said is it trace amounts of fertilizer? And they said yes. But they weren’t going to tell me. They were going to let me guess.”

He said he made his flight just fine, but has advice for anyone else planning to travel: “If you’re gonna fly, and your wife asks you to put fertilizer down, refuse to put fertilizer down within 24 hours of flight.”

I bet the TSA made the man feel like a criminal. Poor guy. He went through all of that just because he fertilized his yard the day before? Wow. It certainly shows that the TSA doesn’t let anything get passed by them.

Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin sold online
Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, were offered for sale online before the ads were pulled by the auction site.

Wow. This is so wrong in so many ways. Why would anyone make a profit over someone’s death? What’s worse is that it is a shooting target.

Obama Still Won’t Release His Grades, Gives Himself Another ‘Incomplete’
President Barack Obama wouldn’t give himself a letter grade for his handling of the economy and instead leaned on what’s become his crutch when asked to grade his presidency.

“I think it’s still incomplete. We’ve still got work to do,” he said on ABC’s “The View,” in an interview that aired Tuesday morning.

They make it seem like it’s such a bad thing. He basically stated that there is more to be done.

Poll: Obama’s gay marriage stance could hurt him
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday night shows the possible political perils of President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports same-sex marriage.

Most of those polled say the president’s position will not impact how they vote. But among those who say it will influence their choice, 26 percent said they are less likely to vote for Obama as a result, while 16 percent say they are more likely to.

Sixty-seven percent said they thought Obama’s announcement was made “mostly for political reasons,” while 24 percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.”

In another potentially damaging sign, 70 percent of Independents attribute the president’s move to politics, along with nearly half of Democrats.

Ouch. Given the timing, it kinda does seem like he said that due to the presidential race, but it could also be because of North Carolina banning gay marriage.

Non-Hispanic US white births now the minority in US
Black, Hispanic, Asian and mixed-race births made up 50.4% of new arrivals in the year ending in July 2011.

It puts non-Hispanic white births in the minority for the first time.

Sociologists believe the ongoing economic slowdown has contributed to a greater decline in birth rates among white people.

More diversity. 🙂

The Best Cities For Jobs
Instead of government, the big drivers of growth now appear to be three basic sectors: energy, technology and, most welcome all, manufacturing. Energy-rich Texas cities dominate our list — the state has added some 200,000 generally high-paying oil and gas jobs over the past decade — but Texas is also leading in industrial job growth, technology and services. In first place in our ranking of the 65 largest metropolitan areas is Austin, which has logged strong growth in manufacturing, technology-related employment and business services. Houston places second, Fort Worth fourth, and Dallas-Plano-Irving sixth. Another energy capital, Oklahoma City, ranks 10th, while resurgent New Orleans-Metairie places 13th among the largest metro areas.

Other than Washington, looks like Texas is a great place to move to.

Obama will win in November, Americans predict
Fifty-six percent of of Americans say President Barack Obama will win re-election, the Gallup polling organization said Tuesday, drily calling that prediction “perhaps a slightly more optimistic assessment than is currently warranted.”

Thirty-six percent say presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will be the one taking the oath of office in January.

Bad news for Romney fans.

NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war in Afghanistan by 2014
“We have finalized plans so 2014 will be a year in which the United States will not be spending as much money in Afghanistan as it is spending today. It will save money and we will be providing security ourselves,” he said. “That transition and the eventual withdrawal in 2014 of the U.S. forces and other NATO forces from Afghanistan is good for Afghanistan and good for our allied countries.”

I hope this work out.

World
Four die on Mount Everest
Four people died while coming down the southern slope of the mountain during the weekend after reaching Mount Everest’s 8848-meter (29,028 foot) summit, officials said.

The victims have been identified as Ebehard Schaaf, 61, a German medical doctor; Sriya Shah, 33, a Nepali-born Canadian woman; Song Wondin, a 44-year-old man from South Korea; and Wen Ryi Ha, 55, of China, according to officials with the tourism and civil aviation ministry and at the base of the mountain.

This is so sad. 😦 Knowing the potential risks, is it even worth it getting to the top?

World’s tallest tower, Tokyo Skytree, opens
The new tower, whose construction began in July 2008, surpasses China’s Canton Tower (600 meters high) as the world’s tallest tower, but is still nearly 200 meters shy of Dubai’s 830-meter Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the tallest manmade structure ever built.

Tokyo Skytree will provide services for digital radio and TV transmission, as well as an aquarium, theater, academic institutes and regional heating and cooling facilities.

It will also give visitors a chance to gaze across the city.

Pretty cool.

Health
Can Your Mental Health Affect Your Longevity?
Research paints a compelling argument. Adults with serious mental illness like schizophrenia die about 25 years earlier than the general population, according to a 2007 report from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. They’re 3.4 times more likely to die of heart disease or diabetes, 3.8 times more likely to die in an accident, 5 times more likely to die of respiratory ailments, and 6.6 times more likely to die of pneumonia or flu, found the team led by Joseph Parks, director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health.

Things don’t look good for those with mental illnesses.

Technology/Social Media
Squeezing cash from China’s billion phone app market
This year, China will overtake America as the world’s biggest smartphone market.

And for many Chinese, the smartphone offers them their first personal route to access the internet – by some estimates 40% of those connecting to the web in China now do so solely via a mobile phone.

That offers IT developers, and mobile phone app makers in particular, an extraordinary opportunity.
Interesting.

Business/Money
Facebook sets share price in $100bn flotation
The social network said on Thursday that it valued shares at $38 (£24) each, and that its shares would begin trading in New York on Friday.

At this price the eight-year old firm would be worth more than $100bn.

Demand is set to be high; earlier this week Facebook said it would be selling 25% more shares than planned.

Wow, it’s hard to believe that the company is going public on the stock exchange soon.

Stocks slump again; 10-yr yield near all-time low
The Dow Jones industrial average posted its 11th loss in 12 days after a pair of discouraging economic reports further unnerved traders already concerned about a possible exit from the euro by Greece.

The Dow lost 156.06 points, most of it toward the end of the trading day, to close at 12,442.49. It is down almost 6 percent for May, and what had been a strong year for stocks has been reduced to a slender 1.8 percent gain.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index closed at its lowest point since Jan. 17.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year note hit 1.69 percent. That is lower than any 3 p.m. reading since at least 1953, according to records kept by the Federal Reserve.

Talk about hard economic times.

Nearly 87,000 Jeep Wranglers recalled
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall affects only 2010 Wranglers with automatic transmissions and ones that were built before July 14, 2010. Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the 2010 models had a transmission plate and catalytic converter that were configured differently than Wranglers from other years.

It said debris can get trapped between a plate that protects the transmission and the catalytic converter, which causes a fire. Debris can build up when the SUVs are driven off-road or through tall brush.

I’m glad I don’t own one.

Entertainment
Donna Summer, queen of disco, dies at 63
The five-time Grammy winner, who was still making records as recently as last year, died in Englewood, Fla., Thursday after battling cancer. She was 63.

RIP Donna.

Summer concert preview: Tours offer real music deals
Well-heeled concertgoers are paying as much as $2,500 this summer to get the VIP treatment at a Madonna concert (front-row seats, souvenir T-shirts and other material amenities). But for about a quarter of that cash, fans can sample a broad palette of music with some of the biggest stars on the road. USA TODAY looks at seven high-value shows that offer plenty of bang without breaking the bank.

I want to go to a concert this summer.

Robin Gibb, member of the Bee Gees, dies after battle with cancer
Robin Gibb, one of three brothers who made up the disco group the Bee Gees behind “Saturday Night Fever” and other now-iconic sounds from the 1970s, died on Sunday, according to a statement on his website.

He was 62.

Gibb “passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery,” said the statement, which was attributed to his family. He died in England at 10:47 a.m. (5:47 a.m. ET), according to a post on his official Twitter feed.

RIP Robin. We lost another music legend this week.

Sports
VCU leaves CAA, announces move to Atlantic 10
The president said at press conference Tuesday to announce that VCU is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to join the A-10 that “premier universities are premier across the board and that includes athletics.”

I think this a good move on VCU’s part. That means more automatic bids to the NCAA and a chance to play higher ranked teams.

Weekly Roundup – 5/6/12

Virginia/US

Fixed Mortgage Rates Fall to All-Time Low on Weak GDP Report, Euro Zone Concerns
If you thought mortgage rates were as low as they could go, think again. Mortgage rates are dropping, this time to a new all-time low.

Average rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sank to 3.84 percent, Freddie Mac reported Thursday, down from 3.88 percent last week and beating out the previous record low of 3.87 percent in early February this year.

Good news for homeowners.

Obama talks exit strategy, signs deal with Afghanistan
President Barack Obama, speaking early Wednesday at the tail end of a surprise visit, discussed the exit strategy from Afghanistan and promised a steady drawdown of U.S. troops.

Obama committed to pulling 23,000 troops out of the country by the end of summer and sticking to the 2014 deadline to turn security fully over to the Afghan government. He also said that NATO will set a goal this month for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations next year.

This is a good thing. It’s time to bring our troops back home.

Poll: Obama ahead of Romney in Virginia
Fifty-one percent of voters said they would vote for the president if the election were held today, while 44% said Romney, according to the Washington Post poll released Thursday.

Looks like it’s going to be a tight race. I wonder who is going to win our electoral votes.

Virginia: For lovers, and for Romney and Obama
President Obama will make Richmond the site of his kick-off campaign rally this Saturday and, as he often does, will motorcade across the Potomac Friday for an official event in northern Virginia, this one devoted to student loans at an Arlington high school. Mitt Romney has two stops in Virginia lined up this week, Wednesday in northern Virginia and Thursday in Hampton Roads, and he will also be in Lynchburg to speak to graduates of Liberty University next week.

Obama is coming to the VCU Siegel Center on Saturday, and I can’t go see him because I have to work. :(. I can’t go see Romney either because he’s not stopping in Richmond. This sucks.

US adds 115,000 jobs in April, fewer than expected
The US economy created 115,000 jobs during April, down on the previous month and fewer than analysts had expected, official figures have shown.

However, the unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.1% from 8.2% in March, the Labor Department said.

The unemployment rate hit a three-year low, but part of the reason for the fall was a drop in the number of people looking for work, which reduced the size of the workforce.

“The drop in the unemployment rate was actually an unhealthy drop – you had less people looking for work, which shows a bad sentiment,” said Ron Florence at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Things aren’t looking good.

Judge says Facebook ‘likes’ not protected by First Amendment
The “like” button on Facebook seems like a relatively clear way to express your support for something, but a federal judge says that doesn’t mean clicking it is constitutionally protected speech.

Everyone should be careful what they “like” from now on.

Nurse in Afghanistan dies in Skype chat with wife
The wife of an Army officer serving in Afghanistan witnessed her husband’s death as the two video chatted via Skype, his family said Friday.

The circumstances of Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark’s death were not immediately available. The Pentagon said it was under investigation, and his brother-in-law said he didn’t have details.

Wow, I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been for his wife to see.

Obama outlines case for re-election at first official campaign rally
The president said that in the final six months of 2008, “nearly three million of our neighbors lost their jobs.” But he said when he took office, “We didn’t quit. We don’t quit. Together we are fighting our way back.”

Obama touted the federal government’s rescue of the big auto companies, and he criticized his challenger, saying “when some wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, we didn’t turn our backs.”

The president also touted his foreign policy achievements, saying that “for the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.” He said that “Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to this country,” and “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.”

He then pledged that “by 2014, the war in Afghanistan will be over,” and pointed out that Romney had opposed setting a troop withdrawal deadline in that conflict.

I like Obama and some of the things he has done, but sometimes, I feel like he makes empty promises he can’t keep.

Connecticut Passes a Marijuana Bill
The Connecticut Senate passed a bill on Saturday legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with tight restrictions intended to avoid the problems that have plagued some of the other states where it is now legal.

I guess it’s good if marijuana is used for medical needs.

World

Bin Laden’s last letters go online, showing dark days
A selection of documents seized in last year’s raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan house was posted online Thursday by the U.S. Army’s Combating Terrorism Center. The documents show dark days for al Qaeda and its hunkered-down leader after years of attacks by the United States and what bin Laden saw as bumbling within his own organization and its terrorist allies.

“I plan to release a statement that we are starting a new phase to correct (the mistakes) we made,” bin Laden wrote in 2010. “In doing so, we shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis.”

Until the end, bin Laden remained focused on attacking Americans and coming up with plots, however improbable, to kill U.S. leaders. He wished especially to target airplanes carrying Gen. David Petraeus and even President Barack Obama, reasoning that an assassination would elevate an “utterly unprepared” Vice-President Joe Biden into the presidency and plunge the U.S. into crisis.

I’m not surprised he had plans to kill Obama. What a shame. I’m glad he’s dead.

How to see the supermoon — and shooting stars, too
The moon will be at its fullest at 11:35 p.m. ET just after hitting perigee, the point in its orbit that brings the moon closest to Earth. The technical name for the event is a “perigee moon.”
The moon will be about 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from Earth, about 12.2 percent closer to our planet than when the moon is at apogee, its farthest point. The average Earth-moon distance is about 230,000 miles (384,400 kilometers).

I didn’t see it. Overcast.

Technology/Social Media

Facebook Organ Donor Initiative Prompts 100,000 Users To Select New Option
Thousands of Facebook users have signed up to be organ donors this week, thanks to a new feature on the social networking site that makes it easier to register.

The new option was announced Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a way to boost the number of potential organ donors. By the end of the day, 6,000 people had enrolled through 22 state registries, according to Donate Life America, which promotes donations and is working with Facebook. On a normal day, those states together see less than 400 sign up.

I registered as an organ donor in Virginia today. 🙂 It would be great if this initiative goes worldwide. It looks like only people living in the US and Puerto Rico can register via Facebook.

Why Mac users should care about Windows malware
A Sophos researcher stirred up the Mac masses this week when he reported that 20 percent of Mac computers carry Windows malware. The good news is that even though Macs are capable of harboring Windows-targeting viruses and Trojans, those machines can’t be harmed by the malware in all but exceptional cases. The bad news, though, is that Mac users can still spread that malware to Windows machines in a number of ways.

Sucks for Windows users.

Text Message Marketing Is Still a Thing
If you compare mobile marketing with TV networks, text message campaigns would be PBS. They’re not sexy, and they’re not enormously popular, but they’re still kicking around, somewhat. According to a survey of 2,262 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of location-based marketing firm Placecast, only four percent of mobile users receive marketing text messages.

I get them every once in a while, and they’re annoying.

Samsung unveils Galaxy S III smartphone with face, voice recognition
The new handset, with a whopping 4.8-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera, was unveiled at a slick launch party in London on Thursday, complete with a backing orchestra.

Billed by Samsung as having been “designed for humans,” the phone features voice and eye-recognition technology that the company hopes will set the handset ahead of its rivals in the crowded smartphone market.

The new Galaxy handset, which runs the most up-to-date version of Google’s mobile operating system — Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich — recognizes when a user is looking at it, and ensures the screen doesn’t go dark while it has eye contact.

It looks like a really nice phone. If I didn’t have an iPhone, I’d probably buy the Samsung Galaxy S III.

New iPhone: Tantilizing Details Revealed
Adding to the existing rumor of a four-inch screen on the new iPhone is info obtained by Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge, who says not only will that screen be a larger 4 inches (measured diagonally), but it will have a new aspect ratio, which we would assume would be 16 x 9 — the same shape as typical HDTVs. It’s about time — since its inception, the iPhone screen has been shaped in the old-timey 4 x 3 ratio, the same as ancient standard definition TVs.

Basically, it’s a longer version of the iPhone4/4s. Still can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Verizon reps push 4G Android over iPhone
“The only drawback to the iPhone is it doesn’t have 4G, and Verizon is really pushing 4G,” another rep said on the phone. “Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is a great phone. It just costs the company a lot of money for returns when customers find out that a faster 4G network is available and the iPhone’s only on 3G.”

I can see why Verizon is doing it. I’m sure the game will change when Apple makes a Verizon 4G phone.

Business/Money

Australia billionaire to launch “unsinkable” Titanic
An Australian billionaire announced plans on Monday to build an “unsinkable” version of the Titanic, 100 years after the original sank after hitting an iceberg.

Titanic II is expected to make its maiden voyage from England to North America, the old Titanic route, in late 2016.

“It is going to be designed so it won’t sink,” mining and tourism tycoon Clive Palmer told reporters. “It will be designed as a modern ship with all the technology to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

DOOMED! Sounds like the ship may be cursed. You sure as hell won’t find me on-board! Who knows, there might be a replica of the iceberg out there.

Man sues BMW after motorcycle seat allegedly causes 2-year erection
Viagra and Cialis apparently have nothing on a BMW motorcycle seat. According to a lawsuit filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court, the seat left its driver with a two-year erection.

Henry Wolf filed suit against BMW North America and Corbin-Pacific, Inc. He claimed in the lawsuit that the “ridged seat” of his 1993 BMW motorcycle caused him mental and emotional anguish after it left him with a severe case of priapism, aka a long-lasting erection.

Oh my God. I have no words…

WestJet’s ill-advised move to tablets
The winner of the “Dumbest Move Involving Technology Award” this week goes to WestJet for the airline’s plan to ditch its in-flight entertainment system in favour of renting tablets to passengers.

Yup, you read that right–for the low, low price of $10 to $12, WestJet will rent you a tablet pre-loaded with movies, TV shows and possibly games. And if you don’t want to pay? You’ll be stuck looking at the clouds for hours. Unless your flight is at night, in which case you won’t even be that lucky.

This is really not a big deal. Most passengers bring stuff to entertain themselves on the plane anyway.

Spirit Air to charge up to $100 for carry-on bags
Spirit Airlines will raise its fee for carry-on bags to up to $100, becoming the first U.S. airline to charge so much for a service that most other airlines offer for free.

Spirit said on its website that the new fees apply to carry-on bags registered at the gate and will become effective Nov. 6. Until that time, Spirit will continue to charge $45.

Ridiculous!!! I will never fly Spirit Airlines. End of story.

Facebook sets $28 to $35 IPO price range
It’s the day techies and investors have been waiting for: Facebook set a price range of $28 to $35 per share for its initial public offering. It also upped the maximum size of its offering to $13.6 billion, up from its previous $5 billion estimate.

Facebook currently has around 2.1 billion shares outstanding, so if its IPO prices at the top of the range, the company would be valued at just shy of $75 billion.

Many Facebook employees and executives, including Zuckerberg, hold unexercised stock options. The company itself is also holding some shares for future employee equity grants. If all of those shares were exercised, Facebook’s outstanding share count would rise to around 2.8 billion, pushing its valuation closer to $98 billion.

Cha-ching! Mark Zuckerberg wants to take over the world.

Entertainment

Jessica Simpson’s baby girl arrives
Jessica Simpson has given birth to a daughter in a Los Angeles hospital, the actress-singer said in a statement posted on her website Tuesday morning.

“Eric and I are elated to announce the birth of our baby girl, Maxwell Drew Johnson,” Simpson said.

The baby weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 21.75 inches long, according to the website.

Congratulations!

‘Avengers’ Opens in U.S. After Conquering World Box Office
The movie is projected to open in the U.S. and Canada to at least $150 million in ticket sales — among the top five biggest openings of all time.

Wow, that’s huge!

Health

Taking E-Mail Vacations Can Reduce Stress, Study Says
A new study released Thursday by the University of California, Irvine, which was co-written with United States Army researchers, found that people who do not look at e-mail on a regular basis at work are less stressed and more productive.

The study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email,” looked at 13 workers in a typical office setting and asked them to discontinue e-mail for five days. The results were that during the e-mail hiatus, these people spent longer periods of time focusing on a single task at work and shifted between computer windows much less than those who were slaves to their in-box.

The researchers also tested people’s stress levels by attaching wearable heart rate monitors and found that their stress levels were much lower when not checking e-mail on a regular basis.

I need to try this at some point. Sometimes, it’s good to go “off the grid.”

Sports

Hokies introduce James Johnson as new head coach
After 19 years as an assistant coach at nine schools, James Johnson was introduced Tuesday as the new Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach.

I hope Jim Weaver selected the right guy for the job.

Morris: BCS got it right on playoff
Just as it had done for most of the past 15 college football seasons in determining the pairing for the national championship game, the BCS knew what it was doing when it decided last week on a four-team playoff to begin after the 2014 regular season.

BCS officials, conference commissioners and TV executives met in Florida with a two-pronged order of business. First, they needed a college football playoff that would satisfy university presidents who generally oppose the idea because the sport already is spiraling out of control. Next, they needed to quell the annual uproar by media and fans who clamor for a playoff of any kind.

The BCS just got a little more exciting. College football is awesome.

More players file concussion lawsuits against the NFL
More than 100 former professional football players, including former Atlanta Falcons Jamal Anderson, Chris Doleman, and O.J. Santiago, are adding their names a growing list of players suing the NFL.

They join more than 1,500 other players who claim that the National Football League hid the dangers of concussions from them.

The latest lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by attorney Mike McGlamry, states that the NFL “repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury.”

It goes on to assert that the organization failed “to take reasonable steps necessary to protect players from devastating head injuries. Moreover, the NFL has downplayed and misrepresented the issues and misled players concerning the risks associated with concussions.”

Way too many players are suffering from a brain injury/concussion. Something needs to be done.

Weekly Roundup – 4/29/12

Virginia/US

Secret Service prostitution scandal: Lieberman calls for wider investigation
A U.S. senator who caucuses with Democrats joined a Republican colleague Sunday in calling for an expanded probe of the Secret Service prostitution scandal, saying the investigation should also include a look at White House personnel assigned to prepare for President Obama’s trip to Colombia.

There is no evidence that White House employees knew about the misbehavior. But Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) urged the Obama administration to conduct an investigation “just to make sure that none of them were involved,” echoing demands from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

The scandal has implicated 12 Secret Service employees and 11 members of the military. Six of the Secret Service employees have lost their jobs, five are on leave and one has been cleared of “serious misconduct” but will face administration action, officials have said.

This is why you don’t mix business with pleasure, unless you want to risk your job.

Vehicle flips, 7 die near Bronx Zoo
Seven people, including three children, died Sunday when a vehicle flipped over a guardrail and plunged up to 60 feet to the ground, landing upside down in an area of the Bronx Zoo that is closed to the public, officials said.

All the victims were inside the vehicle, a New York police spokesman said. The crash occurred near the Bronx River Parkway and East 180th Street.

“The vehicle hit the median and went across all lanes of traffic in the opposite direction,” the spokesman said. He described the drop from the ramp as “substantial.”

The victims include an elderly couple; two other women, including a 45-year-old driver; and three girls, ages 15, 5 and 3, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said. It was not immediately clear how they were related to one another.

Such terrible news. I can’t even imagine this happening. I guess this is why we all have to be careful when driving.

31 shot in April in Richmond
More people have been shot in Richmond this month than in any month in at least five years, which authorities attribute in part to several violent robberies and a pair of ruthless men believed responsible for at least three shootings — and one of those men is still at large.

Thirty-one people have been shot this month in the city, five fatally. That surpasses the 30 shootings in April 2010, although that month remains the city’s deadliest since at least 2007, with nine homicides.

What’s with all of these shootings?

Obama White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech pokes at GOP
President Barack Obama on Saturday night held true to the rule that the talent at the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner is supposed to “singe not burn” the opposition when he put some fire on Republican targets during his comedic routine at the gala event.

“We gather during a historic anniversary,” Obama began in his remarks at D.C’s event of the year, held at the Hilton hotel with more than 2,000 attendees. “Last year at this time, in fact on this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals” – Bin Laden? Nope. The ballroom’s screens showed huge pictures of Donald Trump, and the crowd ate it up.

Sounds like a fun night.

World

Deadly attack on Nigeria’s Bayero university in Kano
At least 16 people have been killed in a gun and bomb attack at a university in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano, Nigerian Red Cross officials say.

Six others were in a serious condition following the attack at Bayero University campus where Christian worshippers were holding a service.

These kinds of acts need to stop.

Technology/Social Media

Follow-Up: The Tablet Really Is Killing The E-Reader
E Ink Holdings, the firm behind the allegedly easy-on-the-eye daylight readable electronic paper that once made your Kindle or Nook so great, has just reported its first loss in 10 successive quarters.

The company made a net loss of NT$787 million (a little under $27 million) for the first three months of 2012, after it saw a 63% slump in revenues from the previous quarter to NT$3.84 billion. The company says it’s due to “off-season effects and inventory adjustments at clients.” Yes, we’re inclined to believe that the shift from the always-lucrative holiday season quarter to the dim, wintery first three months of the year could quite definitely adjust how many e-reader devices the average consumer buys. But a 63% slump in revenues is pretty enormous.

Blame the Kindle Fires and the iPads. Honestly, I much rather have an eReader than one of those tablets. If I want to use Facebook or surf the internet, then that’s what my laptop is for.

Business/Money

A VERY Big Mac! World’s biggest McDonald’s with 1,500 seats to be built for games
The biggest McDonald’s restaurant in the world will open for six weeks during the London 2012 Olympic games.

More than 50,000 Big Mac burgers and 180,000 portions of fries will be served from the outlet in Stratford, east London.

The huge temporary branch will have seating for 1,500 customers and will employ more than 2,000 staff.

What’s going to happen after 6 weeks? Talk about a loss of jobs.

Entertainment

Dark Knight and a Vampire-Slaying President: Summer 2012 Movie Preview
The 25 most-anticipated movies coming (soon) to a theater near you

I can’t wait to see “The Avengers” and “The Darn Knight” sequel.

Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift to Collaborate on New Song
Justin Bieber has revealed that his upcoming album Believe, his third, will feature a songwriting collaboration with Taylor Swift. The U.K.’s Capital FM Radio posted audio yesterday from a recent conversation with Bieber on the program Vodafone Big Top 40 in which Bieber announced the country-pop singer-songwriter will join Believe’s all-star guest list.

When asked whether the Swift collaboration would have a country flavor, Bieber replied in the affirmative and explained that Believe will reflect a diverse range of styles. “It doesn’t stay in a box,” he explained. “Everything is so different and that’s why I’m so happy with this album.”

I kinda want to listen to this.

Sports

Hokies basketball ccoach Seth Greenberg fired
Virginia Tech fired Hokies men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg Monday afternoon. Director of athletics Jim Weaver said he and associate director Tom Gabbard fired Greenberg Monday at 1:30 p.m. and then announced the decision at a 4 p.m. press conference.

Two of Greenberg’s three assistant coaches left earlier this offseason. In the press conference, Weaver cited the lack of a staff as a chance to start over. He said the decision was made last week after it “hit him” that the basketball program didn’t fit with the rest of Tech’s teams.

The 2012 recruiting class that brought in Tech’s first-ever five-star recruit had the school excited for basketball yet again this season. It was Greenberg’s first season where he could use a new state-of-the-art practice facility to lure recruits and had come through with the No. 12 class in the nation.

But yet again, the product Greenberg put out on the floor couldn’t meet expectations. The Hokies finished with a losing record (16-17) for the first time since the 2005-06 season and started the conference schedule by losing six of their first seven. Tech finished the ACC schedule with a 4-12 record, although nine of those losses were by five points or fewer.

He will be missed, but at the same time, I’m not surprised he was fired. His track record hasn’t been great the last few years.

Health

Coming to New Zealand: $100 Packs of Cigarettes?
While the US has been trying to disgust smokers into giving up tobacco, New Zealand has been considering a more direct idea: raising the price of cigarettes to $100 a pack. The Ministry of Health wants a smoke-free NZ by 2025, and the $100 price tag—which would be implemented by 2020—is one of the ideas being discussed … although officials admit it is “probably unrealistic.” The plan seen as the most likely would make a pack of cigarettes a still-sizable $60 by 2025, Sky News reports. But, 3 News adds, Prime Minister John Key is concerned that higher prices may simply encourage a black market.

I don’t get why people like smoking. It’s gross and is a waste of money. Anyways, $100 is insane. The government can restrict smoking in certain areas, but I think it’s impossible to make everyone quit.