Weekly Roundup – 4/22/12

Virginia/US

Shuttle Discovery retires with Washington flypast
Discovery flew over the monuments along the National Mall in Washington DC at about 10:00 EST (14:00 GMT).

Piggy-backing on a modified Boeing 747, Discovery was flying at an altitude of about 1,500ft (457m), Nasa said.

The shuttle programme ended in 2011. Discovery will be on show at the Air and Space Museum in Virginia.

I wish I gotten up early enough to see it.

George Zimmerman Tells Trayvon Martin’s Parents ‘I Am Sorry’
George Zimmerman stunned a Florida court today by taking the stand and apologizing to the parents of Trayvon Martin, who were sitting in the courtroom during Zimmerman’s bond hearing.

“I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not,” Zimmerman said addressing Martin’s family directly.

His surprising testimony came the same day that ABC News exclusively obtained a photograph showing the bloodied back of Zimmerman’s head, which was apparently taken three minutes after he shot and killed Martin. The photo could give credence to Zimmerman’s claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as Zimmerman fought for his life.

The release of this photo certainly helps Zimmerman and his defense, but it still doesn’t answer who initiated the confrontation.

World

Norway killer sharpened aim by playing video game
Anders Behring Breivik knew it would take practice to be able to slaughter dozens of people before being shot by police. In a chilling account, the far-right fanatic claimed that he sharpened his aim by playing the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” for hours on end.

Breivik told an Oslo court on Thursday he also took steroids to build physical strength and meditated to “de-emotionalize” himself before the bombing and shooting rampage that left 77 people dead. He figured he had no more than a 5 percent chance of not being killed by police.

His lack of remorse and matter-of-fact description of weapons and tactics — he even considered using a flame thrower — were deeply disturbing to families of the victims, most of whom were teenagers.

I wonder what drove him to randomly kill people. Crazy. I’m not against video games, but some people should definitely stay away from them.

Entertainment

Dick Clark: ‘American Bandstand’ Host and TV Icon Dies at 82
Legendary TV host and producer Dick Clark died Wednesday of a massive heart attack at the age of 82.

According to his publicist, Clark had entered St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica last night for an outpatient procedure. Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.”

RIP Dick. New Year’s Eve won’t be the same without you.

Technology/Social Media

Olympics Unveil Social Media Hub to Connect Athletes and Fans
The Olympic Athletes’ Hub aggregates the verified social media feeds of more than 1,000 current and former Olympians. It will post content directly from their Facebook and Twitter accounts and incorporate a gamification layer incentivizing fans to interact with the site. Users will be able to access exclusive training-tips videos and gain virtual and real-world prizes according to how many athletes they like and follow online.

“Another interesting thing that might come out of the hub is that Olympic Athletes will be able to connect not only with their fans but with each other before, during and after the Games are over, if they so desire,” IOC social media head Alex Huot told Mashable in an email. “If we take a step back we have a pretty cool scenario of fans connecting with athletes, athletes connecting with athletes and the IOC becomes a platform of sorts connecting everybody together.”

This is awesome because I’d love to see the athletes engage with their fans.

How ‘Liquidmetal’ Could Give the Next iPhone Its Special Swagger
Liquidmetal was discovered at the California Institute of Technology in 1992. It’s a class of patented amorphous metal alloys (basically metallic glass) with unique properties including high strength, high wear resistance against scratching and denting, and a good strength-to-weight ratio. Apple was granted rights to use it in August of 2010.

“Liquidmetal allows precision parts to be fabricated similar to plastic injection molding, but with similar properties to metal,” IHS senior principal analyst Kevin Keller said.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Sports

PSU pays Paterno estate $5.5M-plus
A breakdown provided by Penn State included the use by Paterno’s family of a Beaver Stadium suite for 25 years and $900,000 from television and radio revenue from last season. Half the broadcast revenues were paid in February, and the rest will be paid later this year, the school said.

The university also said it would pay the coach’s widow, Sue Paterno, $1,000 a month for life, and provide her with on-campus parking and access to university hydrotherapy equipment.

Other elements of the package include a final paycheck of $34,000, a death benefit of $51,000 and $350,000 — payable over five years — under a 1986 consulting agreement. The university also agreed to forgive $350,000 in outstanding loans and debt. No explanation was provided regarding Paterno’s debts to the school.

While the school said in a news release the total value of the package was “over $5.5 million,” added together the various elements are worth about $6.7 million. The stadium suite was valued at $1.5 million.

I’m glad that Penn State is paying their dues to the former coach and his family.

Fenway at 100: Love it, revere it, blow it up
Two years later, damn near to the day, a new Boston place of business opened its gates to the public. April 20, 1912, turned out to be a big day in that city’s history, even if most of the folks from the Fenway district 100 years ago were still talking about a big tub in the Atlantic that went down with poor Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet on it.

I am pleased to acknowledge that Fenway Park’s centennial is upon us. I am less pleased to confess that — at the risk of offending any Red Sox fan who feels as if you have just spat on his or her great-grandfather’s grave — what I love about Fenway is, to be perfectly frank with you, nothing.

I really want to visit Fenway when I go to Boston in November.

Business/Money
Prepaid Cards Double As Student IDs On College Campuses
These student IDs grant students access to campus buildings and let them check out library books, have campus meals, pay for laundry and go to the gym. Since the cards are offered by prominent lenders, they can be used to pay for products at retailers that accept those cards.

North Carolina State University announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with U.S. Bank to give the Wolfpack One Card to incoming freshmen this fall. Current students, faculty and staff can pay $10 to get the new card.

Unlike most prepaid cards, the Wolfpack One Card has no monthly fees, no fees for point-of-sale purchases, no fees for withdrawals at U.S. Bank ATMs, no enrollment fees for new students, and no minimum balance to keep the account active, according to the press release and the WSJ.

This definitely makes it easier for students to manage all of their cards. I don’t know about you, but I have so many cards in my wallet. I wish Virginia Tech did something like this.

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Weekly Roundup – 4/15/12

Virginia/US

Navy: ‘Miracle’ nobody died in Virginia jet crash
A U.S. Navy admiral said Saturday that the fiery crash of a fighter jet into apartment buildings in the military community of Virginia Beach matches his definition of a miracle.
No one was killed and everyone was accounted for one day after the accident.

I’m glad no one died, but this could have been avoided.

Rick Santorum suspends campaign
The former Pennsylvania senator made the announcement at a news conference in the city of Gettysburg.
“While this presidential race is over for me, we are not done fighting,” said Mr Santorum, a social conservative.
He had been campaigning in Pennsylvania, his home state, ahead of its primary on 24 April.
But he was far behind Mr Romney in terms of funding and was in danger of losing the state for the second time in six years, analysts said.
In 2006 Mr Santorum lost his Pennsylvania Senate seat by an 18-point margin.
In the current race for the Republican nomination, Mr Santorum lags far behind Mr Romney in terms of the number of delegates needed to seal the nomination at the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, in late August.

I’m glad he’s out.

Victoria hospital won’t hire very obese workers
A Victoria hospital already embroiled in a discrimination lawsuit filed by doctors of Indian descent has instituted a highly unusual hiring policy: It bans job applicants from employment for being too overweight.
The Citizens Medical Center policy, instituted a little more than a year ago, requires potential employees to have a body mass index of less than 35 — which is 210 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, and 245 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-10. It states that an employee’s physique “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,” including an appearance “free from distraction” for hospital patients.
“The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance,” hospital chief executive David Brown said in an interview. “We have the ability as an employer to characterize our process and to have a policy that says what’s best for our business and for our patients.”

Makes sense for hospitals. You don’t want someone obese giving you advice on keeping your weight down, right?

Osama Bin Laden replaced on most wanted list
On Tuesday, the F.B.I. finally filled bin Laden’s place on the list, adding Eric J. Toth, a schoolteacher from the Washington area accused of possessing child pornography. It was the first time since 2009 that the F.B.I. had added a fugitive to the list.

Ew. I hope they catch him. This guy shouldn’t be allowed near children.

Attorneys for George Zimmerman DROP Trayvon’s killer after they ‘lost contact’ with him – and say he has LEFT Florida
The lawyers for the neighbourhood watch captain who shot Trayvon Martin in February said they are withdrawing as his counsel because he hasn’t followed their legal advice and they have not heard from him in several days.
Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said during a news conference Tuesday that they haven’t heard from George Zimmerman since Sunday, and their calls and text messages haven’t been returned.
Sonner said: ‘I just can’t proceed to represent a client who doesn’t stay in contact with me’.
Uhrig added that the attorneys ‘started reaching out in every way that we knew how to get him,’ but to no avail.
Zimmerman is currently in hiding, and while Sonner and Uhrig claim they don’t know where he is, it’s far away from Florida.

Good news.

George Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin case
After 45 days, one lawsuit, dozens of rallies, cries from thousands of protesters, more than two million petition signatures and countless media reports, the neighborhood watchman who shot Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin was criminally charged Wednesday, capping a public outcry unmatched in recent memory.
The man who went free the night he shot the 17-year-old unarmed high school junior in a gated community in Sanford now faces the possibility of life in prison.
George Zimmerman, 28, was charged with second-degree murder, a first-degree felony — a far more serious charge than the manslaughter arrest most experts were predicting. The decision to file the charge was made by special prosecutor Angela Corey, the Jacksonville-based state attorney for Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, who vowed to fight a self-defense claim and insisted that she did not bow to public pressure.

More good news. 🙂 I think the FL state government needs to change the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Gov. Bob McDonnell says Romney will win

He also says Romney will defeat Obama and will be glad to serve as Romney’s running mate if given the honor. Just watch the videos.

World

Titanic: The reality of the disaster
The true story of the Titanic, however, is quite different and as far as I know has never been told in a feature film. In Cameron’s version, he depicts the wealthy as asserting their privilege over third-class passengers and crew so they could escape in lifeboats not made available to all, a depiction that plays on issues of class warfare and social inequality.
In many cases, the opposite was true, according to documented historical accounts that include real-life examples of rich passengers coming to the aid of the less fortunate. Writing in the March issue of the Christian publication, “Tabletalk,” Dr. Harry L. Reeder, a Presbyterian minister in Birmingham, Ala., cites one such example of the selflessness of the rich and their sacrifices for the “lower classes.” Dr. Reeder laments the missed opportunity by filmmakers to tell a far more dramatic and compelling story, the real story of the Titanic.
Reeder muses on the “amazing event” chronicled in historic accounts, in which, “Men of power and prestige sacrificed their lives for women and children of the lower class, many of whom were indentured servants, day laborers, and domestic workers. On this flotilla of self-absorption, self-sacrifice became a prevailing virtue during a crisis moment, and the powerful chose death that the powerless might receive life.”

It’s interesting to read what really happened that night the ship sank.

Titanic: ‘Last photograph’ of ill-fated ship

Such compelling video.

Canada Post launches free online targeting tool for direct marketing
Small and medium-sized businesses across Canada can now find and better target prospective customers with an easy-to-use online tool offered by Canada Post. Precision Targeter allows businesses to zero in on their target customers at the neighbourhood level based on demographic information such as household income, education, age and marital status.
The free tool (canadapost.ca/precisiontargeter) combines Canada Post’s complete address database with Canadian census data to provide detailed information so direct marketing becomes more targeted. Users can plan, price and place their Unaddressed Admail orders in minutes, 24 hours a day.

Direct marketing = more junk mail

North Korea rocket launch fails
The rocket – seen by many as a banned test of long-range missile technology – was launched from north-west North Korea early on Friday.
The US, Japan and South Korea say it flew only for a short time before breaking up and crashing into waters off the Korean peninsula.
North Korea said its scientists were assessing what had caused the failure.
North Korea says the aim of the launch was to put a satellite into orbit – a move marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung.

Embarrassing, especially since they are trying to prove that they can construct missiles.

Technology

Facebook Buys Instagram for $1 Billion
“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family,” Zuckerberg said in the post. “Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.”
Zuckerberg went on to say that the company will be building on Instagram’s strengths and features and growing the app independently rather than “just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.”
Facebook plans on keeping features within the app that allow photos to be published on other social networks, and the ability to have followers and follow people who are not necessarily your Facebook friends.

So basically Facebook wants to steal ideas from Instagram.

For Home Buyers, an App to Assess a House’s Attributes
Home buyers who are armed with nothing but a legal pad can track a fair amount of data, like size, location and the year of the last kitchen update, but it’s harder to thoughtfully assess and record multiple elements while on a walk-through, or while driving to the next house.
House Hunter enforces that sort of discipline by offering a detailed list of roughly 80 house features, along with an easy method for scoring each. It also lets homeowners add their own features to that list, in case an indoor pool or a backyard Jacuzzi is a priority.
You then rank each feature’s importance, on a scale from 1 to 10. After a house visit, you evaluate those features individually and the app assigns an overall score to the home.

If I was planning on buying a house, I’d get this.

AT&T allows some iPhone users to unlock
Once their phones were unlocked, owners can use them on other GSM cell and data networks by using other SIM cards, a change that will mainly allow users to take advantage of cheaper service when traveling abroad.

I wish I could take advantage of this, but my phone is still in contract. However, it’s great for those who travel.

Has Instagram made everyone’s photos look the same?
Instagram’s use of filters mimics some of the processes photographers used to push photographic boundaries – such as the super-saturated colours created cross-processing slides in negative chemicals, or using expired film’s palette of soft, muted colours, or playing around with camera settings or darkroom equipment to boost contrast.
The site’s co-founder Kevin Systrom has said: “The idea was to make mobile photography fast, beautiful and fun. We learned from experience that taking photos on the phone didn’t lead to the results that we wanted, so we created the filters and tools to achieve a more artistic experience.”

To answer the title’s question, yes and no. It depends on the subject of the photo. However, Instagram makes photo editing so much easier.

Entertainment

Mike Wallace, `60 Minutes’ star interviewer, dies
CBS newsman Mike Wallace, the dogged, merciless reporter and interviewer who took on politicians, celebrities and other public figures in a 60-year career highlighted by the on-air confrontations that helped make “60 Minutes” the most successful primetime television news program ever, has died. He was 93.
Wallace died Saturday night, CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco said.
Until he was slowed by heart surgery as he neared his 90th birthday in 2008, Wallace continued making news, doing “60 Minutes” interviews with such subjects as Jack Kevorkian and Roger Clemens. He had promised to still do occasional reports when he announced his retirement as a regular correspondent in March 2006.

RIP Mike.

Miss Universe Pageant allows transgender women to participate, could mean big ratings for NBC telecast
Five days after the Miss Universe Organization announced 23-year-old Talackova, who underwent a sex change four years ago, could compete in the Miss Universe pageant this year, organization officials announced Tuesday they are crafting language in the official rules to allow transgender women to participate in the Miss Universe pageant next year. Trials for next year’s pageant begin this summer.

Not sure how I feel about this, but it is a first.

Britney Spears joining ‘X Factor’
Britbrit, the tabloid darling who married childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander in 2004 and had it annulled 55 hours later, and who is now under a conservatorship (Dad) since a ‘08 breakdown, has not yet signed on the dotted line to become the new Paula Abdul, or maybe the new Nicole Scherzinger on the show. But hands have been shaken on a deal in which Brit’s paycheck would be in the neighborhood of $15 million per eason – aka, half of Matt Lauer’s new ‘Today’ show salary.
Icing on the cake: her fiancée/soon-to-be co-conservator may also, as part of the deal, become a producer on the show because, as one report explained, “he is her rock and will help guide her.”

I know Britney isn’t the best singer, but she can definitely offer a lot of advice on how to be a pop star. Plus, this will definitely help turn her life around.

J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel: ‘The Casual Vacancy’
The book, with a publication date of Sept. 27, promises to be very different from the world of young wizards. It’s an examination of small-town politics. The novel takes place in the fictional town of Pagford, an “English idyll” where not everything is as it seems. When one resident unexpectedly dies, his vacant seat on the parish council causes “the biggest war the town has yet seen.”

I’ll probably read it just because it’s from J.K. Rowling. Also, it seems like it will offer insight into small town politics.

Pottermore opens its doors for all, JK Rowling announces
“Many more Potter fans old and new will now be able to explore, discover and share the stories in a completely new way. At Pottermore.com, they will be able to join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, get sorted into one of the four houses, and have a wand choose them, before starting a journey through the storylines of these extraordinary books and discovering exclusive new writing from J.K. Rowling.”
It added that Pottermore.com would begin with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, “but will rapidly grow and develop, as new content, features and functionality are added. Users will be able to share their experiences and creativity as the storylines move on to subsequent books in the series in the months following opening.”

Finally. It took forever for them to release the site to the public. I’ve had some time to play around with it. It’s interesting to read what J.K. has to say, but I was hoping it would come with more features.

Health

Eat more ‘superfoods’ to lose weight
According to Pratt, a superfood has three qualifications: It has to be readily available to the public, it has to contain nutrients that are known to enhance longevity, and its health benefits have to be backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies.
Pratt lists salmon, broccoli, spinach, berries and green tea as a few of his favorites. His website, SuperFoodsRx.com, gives 20 more examples.
“These foods were chosen because they contain high concentrations of crucial nutrients, as well as the fact that many of them are low in calories,” the website states. “Foods containing these nutrients have been proven to help prevent and, in some cases, reverse the well-known effects of aging, including cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, hypertension and certain cancers.”

This is something I need to do more of. More fruits and vegetables and less candy.

San Jose Approves Limits on Outdoor Smoking
The San Jose City Council voted unanimously today to approve an ordinance that will further restrict outdoor smoking within city limits.
The ordinance amends the city’s municipal code to make smoking illegal in outdoor dining areas, outdoor common areas of multi-resident complexes and mobile home parks, and in service lines, city officials said.
The vote followed comments from about a dozen residents, all of whom spoke in favor of expanding smoking restrictions.

I’m glad they are taking the initiative to limit smoking. It not only damages the body, but it intoxicates the air in the environment.

Secret sugars in your food: From two cubes in a salad to 16-and-a-half in bottled water, what you’re eating without realising it
The sugars in milk, vegetables and pieces of fruit (as opposed to fruit juice), including dried fruit, do not wreak as much havoc.
On average, adults in Britain eat around 18 per cent more added sugars than is healthy
So if you’re getting most of your sugar from these sources, you can eat up to 18 cubes or 90g daily. For five to ten-year-olds, the figure is 17 cubes or 85g.
The two most common forms of unhealthy added sugars are table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup, a liquid sweetener made from maize.
Both are added to countless foods, turning up in everything from fizzy drinks to chicken korma.
Sugars in fruit juices and honeys are also the unhealthy ‘added’ type.
‘Added sugars are more likely to do harm as they aren’t safely bound in the structure of a food, as they are in fruit,’ says Sasha Watkins, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
But how can you spot a high sugar food? To interpret labels that list sugar (which is labelled as ‘total sugars’ and will include natural and added sugar), the NHS Choices website suggests that a food with less than 5g per 100g is classified as low.
More than 15g per 100g is high. Though we all need some sugar — it is the essential fuel that powers all cells in our body — excess levels have been linked with raised levels of the hormone insulin, which increases the risk of diabetes.

Looks like I need to eat/drink more milk, fruits, and vegetables and lay off of the Arizona Iced Tea and orange juice.

Weekly Roundup – 4/1/12

Starbuggs? Strawberry Frappuccino Colored by Insects
In what the company, in a statement, says was a move intended to reduce its use of artificial ingredients, Starbucks has started using cochineal extract to supply its Frappuccinos’ strawberry hue. Cochineal extract is derived from grinding up insects, the dried bodies of cochineal bugs, found primarily in Mexico and South America. Cochineal dye has been used as a coloring agent since the 15th century.

I know it sounds gross, but this is also used in jam and some other things.

Harry Potter breaks e-book lockdown
When the Harry Potter books finally went on sale in electronic form on Tuesday, it was as if Harry himself had cast the “Alohomora” spell on them — the one that unlocks doors.

In a break with industry practices, the books aren’t locked down by encryption, which means consumers can move them between devices and read them anywhere they like.

If “Pottermore,” J.K. Rowling’s new Web store, proves a success, it could provide a model for other authors and publishers and undermine the clout of Amazon.com Inc., which dominates e-book sales.

This is huge for the Harry Potter franchise. It shows that they are moving ahead.

Google to Launch Third-Party
The Google comment system, which will almost certainly rival that of Facebook, will have deep links to Google’s network of services and websites, indexing comments in Google Search, and most significantly, the system will be available for use on third party sites.

I’m not surprised at all. Seems like Google and Facebook are copying each other these days.

Newt Gingrich cuts staff, aims for Tampa
After twice resurrecting his campaign from dire situations, Gingrich has effectively skipped big primary states since his loss to Mitt Romney in the Florida and Nevada primaries. He focused on the South but won only two states in the entire GOP primary contest: South Carolina and his former home state of Georgia.

Honestly, if I were Gingrich, I’d drop out. It’s hard to beat Mitt Romney now.

Supreme Court questions validity over Obama healthcare law
The legal challenge has been brought by 26 US states which say the individual mandate violates the principles of freedom and liberty enshrined in the US constitution.

Backers of the law see the provision, which does not take effect until 2014, as crucial for reducing the numbers of Americans living without health insurance.

As the latest session got under way, protesters for and against the law once again held demonstrations on the steps of the court in Washington DC, reflecting the bitterly divisive passions aroused by the law.

People shouldn’t be penalized if they don’t have healthcare.

Apples Are Growing in American Homes
Half of all U.S. households own at least one Apple product, according to CNBC’s All-America Economic survey.

That’s more than 55 million homes with at least one iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac computer. And one-in-10 homes that aren’t currently in that group plan to join it in the next year.

But Apple doesn’t have to worry about brand saturation any time soon. Americans don’t stop with just one device. Homes that own least one Apple, own an average of three. Overall, the average household has 1.6 Apple devices, with almost one-quarter planning to buy at least one more in the next year.

I personally own three Apple devices (MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPod Touch.) Total for our household = 6 (the family’s iMac, my mom’s iPhone, and my sister’s iPod.)

Witness details Trayvon Martin’s killing
The witness recounted seeing two men on the grass, one on top of the other. “And at that point, not looking out the window, I heard the yell for help, one yell for help, and then I heard another … excruciating type of yell. It didn’t almost sound like ‘help.’ It just sounded so painful. But I wasn’t watching out the window during that. And then the next time I looked out the window, there’s the same thing: two men on the grass, one on top of each other. I couldn’t see a lot of movement. It was very dark, but I felt like they were scuffling. And then I heard the gunshots, which, to me, were more like pops than they were like a bang.”

The witness recalled hearing more than one shot. “It definitely was more than one pop noise, so I don’t know if it was an echo or anything else. But it definitely made more than one pop.”
The witness said the shots were audible as one man was on top of the other. But the witness recalled not having been able to see clearly which man was on top because it was dark.
Within a couple of seconds after the shots, one of the men “was walking toward where I was watching, and I could see him a little bit clearer. Could see that it was a Hispanic man. He didn’t appear hurt or anything else.”

But the man, who by now had left the grass and was walking on the sidewalk, did seem worried, “with his hand up to his forehead,” the witness said. “Now, a couple of seconds later, in the dark, you see that person that’s alive walk away; you know, obviously, OK, he must’ve got up and he walked away, where the other person is still laying there, face down.”

This is why George Zimmerman needs to testify before a grand jury. Zimmerman has been saying one thing. Now, this witness is saying another. There needs to be some justice here. It’s not fair for Trayvon or his family.

Winning Mega Millions ticket for $640 mil jackpot sold in Maryland
Forget about how the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot could change the life of the winner. It’s a collective wager that could fund a presidential campaign several times over, make a dent in struggling state budgets or take away the gas worries and grocery bills for thousands of middle-class citizens.

And it’s a cheap investment for the chance of a big reward, no matter how long the odds — 1 in 176 million.

That’s just insane.

Weekly Roundup – 3/25/12

Victory for Mitt Romney in Republican Primary
Mr Romney has won 47% of the votes, compared with 35% for Rick Santorum, with nearly all votes counted.

Ron Paul polled 9% in Illinois and Newt Gingrich was on 8%; neither candidate campaigned extensively in the state.

“I’m running for president because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess,” said Mr Romney, as his victory became evident.

It’s really hard for anyone to beat Romney at this point.

Mississippi teen gets two life sentences after pleading guilty to hate crime
Dedmon, a slight, blonde man wearing a blue jumpsuit, looked down as prosecutors described the killing. Dedmon admitted that he and a group of white teens were partying in Puckett, a small town outside the capital city, when he suggested they find a black man to harass and went to Jackson because of its majority-black population. They found Anderson before dawn outside a hotel. He was beaten before Dedmon ran over him.

Why can’t everyone get along? Dedmon deserves the life sentences.

Future iPhone May Be Made Out of Glass
Some problems immediately come to mind. While the glass material used in modern smartphones is quite tough, a smartphone made entirely out of glass could easily be damaged in a fall. Furthermore, the iPhone is chock-full of sensors, some of which might have problems functioning in a (transparent) glass enclosure – though Apple’s application addresses this problem by suggesting some parts of the glass case can be made opaque.

Great… iPhones are fragile enough as it is. This is a stupid idea.

Florida Protesters Could Deny Justice for Trayvon Martin
The case is as follow; Trayvon Martin was walking back from the store when Zimmerman spotted him. Zimmerman called 911 and told the operator he saw someone suspicious in the neighborhood. A police car was dispatched. A physical confrontation ensued, causing more 911 calls, this time from neighbors. At some point Zimmerman shot Martin, who died at the scene. Zimmerman told the police he shot Martin in self-defense, and the police took a report, but did not arrest Zimmerman.

Because Martin is black, and Zimmerman white, the claim of racism began almost immediately, both aimed at the police and Zimmerman. But in the rush to declare a racial bias, within two hours of the incident, the snowballing of racially motivated protests, the true issues at hand has not been thoroughly examined by many in the African-American community.

The first issue is that Zimmerman was not arrested, claiming self-defense. In the state of Florida exists the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law states that you can use deadly force if you believe that your life is in danger. African-Americans have dismissed the self-defence claim as a poor excuse because Martin was not armed, but this is the result of unfamiliarity with the law.

Under ‘Stand Your Ground’, you do not have to be physically attacked — you just have to believe that your life is in danger. If I’m walking home after a night on the town and someone stops me and demands my wallet, I can shoot them. If they turn out not to be armed, I’m not going to be arrested. In this case, Martin did not approach Zimmerman, but we do not know what occurred immediately before he was shot. Without witnesses accounts, Zimmerman’s word did not serve the police with grounds for arrest.

Which brings us to the second issue; The protesters are confusing the police with the district attorney. In the days that followed the shooting, the 911 call was released. Here are an outtake of Zimmerman’s words:

“This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something […] These a**holes always get away.”

Zimmerman was told not to pursue Martin, but did so anyway. As a neighborhood watch member, Zimmerman was not supposed to be carrying a gun, and he was known to have made 41 911 calls at different times—usually about a black person he suspected of ill intent. The victim, on the other hand, did not have a weapon, had no record, and had every right to be in the neighborhood. All this adds up to suspicion of bias in the police. But that is the wrong assumption.

This is very messed up. Zimmerman should be charged because he shot someone who had no intention of shooting him. If Martin wanted to walk around the neighborhood at night, he should have the right to.