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.

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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.