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 – 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.