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.

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Weekly Roundup – 3/4/12

Sorry for being a week late on this. I recently started a new job and have been very busy.

Pentagon Report: Partial Remains Of Some 9/11 Victims Went To A Landfill
Partial remains of several 9/11 victims were incinerated by a military contractor and sent to a landfill, a government report said Tuesday in the latest of a series of revelations about the Pentagon’s main mortuary for the war dead.

The surprise disclosure was mentioned only briefly, with little detail, in a report by an independent panel that studied underlying management flaws at Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware. A 2011 probe found “gross mismanagement” there, but until Tuesday there had been no mention of Dover’s role in handling 9/11 victims’ remains.

It’s sad to see that some of the victims’ remains are going to a landfill.

Gas Prices Rise
Gas prices are averaging $4.32 in California and $3.73 a gallon nationally, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. But as tensions with Iran and Syria continue and demand from countries like China rises, the price of gasoline has remained high. With summer approaching, prices are expected to go up around another 20 cents a gallon, the Times reported.

This really stinks. It might as well cost an arm and a leg.

Without Internet, Urban Poor Fear Being Left Behind In Digital Age
“The cost of being offline is greater now than it was 10 years ago,” said John Horrigan, vice president of policy research at TechNet, a trade association representing high-tech companies. “So many important transactions take place online. If you don’t have access to high-speed Internet, you’re missing out on a lot.”

About 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies — including Target and Walmart — only accept job applications online. High school students who have broadband Internet at home have graduation rates 6 to 8 percentage points higher than students who don’t, says a 2008 study by the Federal Reserve. Consumers can save almost $8,000 a year by using online resources to find discounts on essentials like apartment rentals, clothes, gasoline and food, according to an analysis last fall by the Internet Innovation Alliance.

Pretty much everything is done online now, especially searching for jobs, networking, transactions, and research. There needs to be resources for those who don’t have the luxury.

Limbaugh: Contraception advocate should post online sex videos
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, already under fire from Democrats over his language in discussing a Georgetown University law student who testified about contraception, ratcheted up his rhetoric on Thursday, saying the student should post an online sex video if taxpayers are forced to pay for contraception.

Rush Limbaugh is a(n) [insert insult here]. Many people use contraceptives due to irregular balances in hormones or irregular periods. Fluke said nothing about having sex.

Twitter to sell users’ old tweets to marketers
Twitter, however, has decided to make it easier for these companies to mine billions of messages for valuable marketing data. The company will open its archives and sell its old tweets.

I am not surprised at all. More ads… oh joy…

Kirk Cameron defends views on gay marriage
When Piers Morgan asked the actor what he’d tell his kids regarding gay marriage, Cameron responded, “I’d tell my children what I believe myself…I believe that marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve. One man, one woman for life till death do you part. I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage, and I don’t think anyone else should, either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.”

I can see where Kirk is coming from, but times are changing. If two people are in love and want to get married, then they should be allowed to.