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 – 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.