Weekly Roundup – 6/3/12

Virginia/US
John Edwards case mistrial declared
The judge in the campaign finance trial of former US presidential candidate John Edwards has declared a mistrial amid jury deadlock on most charges.

The panel in North Carolina found him not guilty on one of six charges of misuse of campaign funds, but could not agree on the other five.

It is not clear if prosecutors will retry Mr Edwards on the other counts.

I think he should be retried.

Judge revokes Zimmerman’s bond
A Florida judge revoked bond Friday for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman to surrender to the county sheriff no later than Sunday afternoon.

Lester accused Zimmerman of having misrepresented how much money he had when his bond was originally set in April. Prosecutors say he had $135,000 at the time Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, told the court, under oath, that they were indigent.

Things don’t look good for Zimmerman.

Amelia Earhart: New evidence tells of her last days on a Pacific atoll (+video)
“Amelia Earhart did not simply vanish on July 2, 1937,” Richard Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News. “Radio distress calls believed to have been sent from the missing plane dominated the headlines and drove much of the US Coast Guard and Navy search.”

“When the search failed, all of the reported post-loss radio signals were categorically dismissed as bogus and have been largely ignored ever since,” Mr. Gillespie said. But the results of the study, he said, “suggest that the aircraft was on land and on its wheels for several days following the disappearance.”

In addition, several artifacts found years ago – some of it discovered by Pacific islanders who later inhabited the island – seem to confirm TIGHAR’s conclusion.

These include broken glass artifacts showing evidence of secondary use as tools for cutting or scraping; large numbers of fish and bird bones collected in, or associated with, ash and charcoal deposits; several hundred mollusk shells, as well as bones from at least one turtle; bone fragments and dried fecal matter that might be of human origin.

Wow! So it seems like she survived on the island for a short while.

World
Fatal shooting at Toronto’s Eaton shopping centre
One person has been killed and seven others injured in a shooting at Toronto’s main central shopping centre, Canadian police have said.

Witnesses described scenes of panic after gunfire broke out in the food court of the Eaton Centre.

“A herd of people were just running toward us, screaming, running, freaking out,” said one shopper.

Police said two of the injured were in a critical condition and warned that they were still hunting the shooter.

A 13-year-old boy was among those seriously injured.

Officials said a 25-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

What’s with people these days?

Official: No survivors after plane with 153 aboard crashes in Nigerian neighborhood
None of the 153 people on board a Nigerian airplane survived its crash Sunday into a residential neighborhood in the West African nation’s most populated city, a top emergency management official said.

Mohammed Sani Sidi, director general of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, described the scene as “devastation.”

While other structures were affected, the building hit most directly by the airliner was “totally destroyed,” Sidi said.

So sad. 😦

Health
New York to ban sale of large sodas
The proposed first-in-the-nation ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sweetened drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts. It would apply to bottled drinks as well as fountain sodas.

The ban, which could take effect as soon as March, would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks or alcoholic beverages. Nor would it include drinks sold in grocery or convenience stores. Food establishments that don’t downsize would face fines of $200.

I think it’s a good idea.

Technology/Social Media
Sex offenders fight for right to use Facebook
Registered sex offenders who have been banned from social networking websites are fighting back in the nation’s courts, successfully challenging many of the restrictions as infringements on free speech and their right to participate in common online discussions.
The legal battles pit public outrage over sex crimes against cherished guarantees of individual freedom and the far-reaching communication changes brought by Facebook, LinkedIn and dozens of other sites.

Not sure how I feel about this.

Business/Money
Want to close your bank account? It’ll likely cost you
Banks have been angering people for a long time now and there might be just one additional reason to add to the list. A new survey has found banks are charging fees to consumers wanting to close their accounts, along with a few other “hassles.”
Depending on the bank, these fees can total up to $55.

Don’t close your bank account then.

Eurozone crisis explained
The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) says around 5% of the 36 million holidays taken by the British abroad are to Greece and its islands.

At present, they spend in euros. If Greece left the euro, and adopted the drachma again, it is likely that visitors on holiday will see their money go much further.

That is because the process of leaving the currency will almost certainly involve a simultaneous devaluation of the new currency against the pound.

So basically, the Greek currency won’t be worth anything if they leave the Euro.

Eurozone unemployment rate sticks at 11%
Unemployment in the eurozone was 11% in April, unchanged from March, but still the highest since records began in 1995.

Spain had the highest rate in the eurozone at 24.3%, while Austria had the lowest at 3.9%, according to the official figures from Eurostat.

A seasonally adjusted total of 17.4 million people were unemployed in the eurozone, up from 17.3 million.

In the 27-nation European Union, the jobless rate was 10.3%, up from 10.2%.

WOW! And we think things in the U.S. are bad! The E.U. definitely has it much worse.

Entertainment
12 best singles of 2012 (so far)
What have we been loving from January to June? We’ve narrowed it down to a dozen — Hot 100 smashes and scrappy indie-rock anthems alike.

I recognize a few songs, but I need to check out some of the others.

American Idol’s Philip Philips making history with song ‘Home’
The signature song of American Idol winner Philip Philips entitled “Home” has ranked No.2 on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart with 278,000 downloads.

Wow, that’s a lot of downloads.

‘American Idol’: Who REALLY Won Each Season?
Take heart, Jessica (and Joshua too)! Time proves the singer with the most votes doesn’t always end up on top. MJ Santilli looks at the show’s first ten seasons to judge which contender won in the post-”Idol” world.

I agree with this list, even though I didn’t really watch season 9 or 10.

Andy Samberg will not return to ‘SNL’
Not another one! Andy Samberg has become the latest comedian to leave Saturday Night Live.

In an interview with the New York Times Friday, Samberg said he would not return in the fall. “It’s an incredibly emotional and strange moment in my life,” Samberg said. “Obviously it’s not a huge shock, but I did officially decide not to come back.”

All the funny ones are leaving. 😦

‘American Idol’ moves toward lower payouts for runners-up
Wednesday night’s runner-up, 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez, doesn’t have a definite shot at producing an album and could be paid as little as $30,000 in advances for recording singles, according to the Idol contract she and other Season 11 contestants signed earlier this year.

The agreement appears to be the first time in Idol’s history that producers are not offering the show’s runner-up an album deal that in previous years came with a guaranteed advance of at least $175,000, an Associated Press review of the Fox show’s contracts reveals.

That’s not right. Talk about huge pay cuts.

Sports
It’s football vs. forest in Va. Tech sports facility controversy
When it comes to recruiting, Virginia Tech’s athletics department is taking an “if we build it, they will come” approach, with plans to construct a new $20 million indoor practice facility for its football and other sports teams near Lane Stadium on the university campus.

The Hokies have the third-longest college bowl game streak in the country, and have sold out every game since 1998. However, they have yet to win a national championship. The athletics department hopes a state-of-the-art facility nearer to the football stadium could help change that.

There’s only one problem: A densely wooded area chock full of old-growth trees, some older than the United States itself, is in the way.

Blueprint plans that have been in the works for over a decade would require chopping down at least 60 trees over the age of 150. Six of the trees have been found to be more than 300 years old.

It’s a hard call on this one.

With Stanley Cup Finals Underway NHL Still Trying To Attract Latinos
But when it comes to Latinos, Gallegos will be among a small minority tuning in to watch this year’s Stanley Cup. Demographics show that 9.4 percent of the NHL’s fan base is Hispanic. It’s important to note that’s just among the league’s fans, not 9.4 percent of Latinos overall. And hockey is pretty close to the bottom of the list of sports Hispanics participate in, both as players and spectators, Only one percent of Latinos have watched a regular-season NHL game in the last year, according to data from Scarborough Research.

“From the statistics and numbers that I’ve seen, NHL just does not resonate among Latino consumers and Latino sports fans,” said Mario Flores, managing director of Sportivo, a Latino-focused sports public relations and marketing agency.

Probably more than any other U.S. professional sport, hockey faces an uphill battle for breaking into the Hispanic market. The almost nonexistent presence of hockey in Latin America and barriers of entry to play (such as lack of rinks in many minority neighborhoods and cost to participate) are two huge obstacles.

I can definitely see why Hispanics have a hard time relating to hockey.

Advertisements

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.