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.

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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.