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 – 5/13/12 & 5/20/12

I’m combining these two weeks because I didn’t have much time to do a weekly roundup last week.

Virginia/US
Michelle Obama to Va. Tech: Don’t let violence define school
“There will always be folks who judge you based on things that you say or do; folks who define you based on one isolated incident,” she told tens of thousands of Hokie graduates at Lane Stadium. “And here at Virginia Tech, I know you all know a thing or two about what that’s like. But you also know that, in the end, people can only define you if you let them.”
She urged them to stand up for the school’s academic and community successes when outsiders focus only on recollections of the tragedy. The graduates in the four-year bachelor’s degree program were in the first freshman class to attend the school after the shootings.

I wish I heard her speech.

Richmond man interrogated at airport because of yard work
A Richmond man is detained by TSA at the airport and interrogated for an hour and a half. Ralph Stephenson was flying out of the Richmond International Airport Sunday for a business meeting when he ended up getting questioned by TSA officials.

It turns out, it’s the yard work he did Saturday that landed him in the hot seat.

“I said yesterday I fertilized some rhododendrons and I used Hollytone,” said Stephenson. “I said is it trace amounts of fertilizer? And they said yes. But they weren’t going to tell me. They were going to let me guess.”

He said he made his flight just fine, but has advice for anyone else planning to travel: “If you’re gonna fly, and your wife asks you to put fertilizer down, refuse to put fertilizer down within 24 hours of flight.”

I bet the TSA made the man feel like a criminal. Poor guy. He went through all of that just because he fertilized his yard the day before? Wow. It certainly shows that the TSA doesn’t let anything get passed by them.

Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin sold online
Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, were offered for sale online before the ads were pulled by the auction site.

Wow. This is so wrong in so many ways. Why would anyone make a profit over someone’s death? What’s worse is that it is a shooting target.

Obama Still Won’t Release His Grades, Gives Himself Another ‘Incomplete’
President Barack Obama wouldn’t give himself a letter grade for his handling of the economy and instead leaned on what’s become his crutch when asked to grade his presidency.

“I think it’s still incomplete. We’ve still got work to do,” he said on ABC’s “The View,” in an interview that aired Tuesday morning.

They make it seem like it’s such a bad thing. He basically stated that there is more to be done.

Poll: Obama’s gay marriage stance could hurt him
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday night shows the possible political perils of President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports same-sex marriage.

Most of those polled say the president’s position will not impact how they vote. But among those who say it will influence their choice, 26 percent said they are less likely to vote for Obama as a result, while 16 percent say they are more likely to.

Sixty-seven percent said they thought Obama’s announcement was made “mostly for political reasons,” while 24 percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.”

In another potentially damaging sign, 70 percent of Independents attribute the president’s move to politics, along with nearly half of Democrats.

Ouch. Given the timing, it kinda does seem like he said that due to the presidential race, but it could also be because of North Carolina banning gay marriage.

Non-Hispanic US white births now the minority in US
Black, Hispanic, Asian and mixed-race births made up 50.4% of new arrivals in the year ending in July 2011.

It puts non-Hispanic white births in the minority for the first time.

Sociologists believe the ongoing economic slowdown has contributed to a greater decline in birth rates among white people.

More diversity. 🙂

The Best Cities For Jobs
Instead of government, the big drivers of growth now appear to be three basic sectors: energy, technology and, most welcome all, manufacturing. Energy-rich Texas cities dominate our list — the state has added some 200,000 generally high-paying oil and gas jobs over the past decade — but Texas is also leading in industrial job growth, technology and services. In first place in our ranking of the 65 largest metropolitan areas is Austin, which has logged strong growth in manufacturing, technology-related employment and business services. Houston places second, Fort Worth fourth, and Dallas-Plano-Irving sixth. Another energy capital, Oklahoma City, ranks 10th, while resurgent New Orleans-Metairie places 13th among the largest metro areas.

Other than Washington, looks like Texas is a great place to move to.

Obama will win in November, Americans predict
Fifty-six percent of of Americans say President Barack Obama will win re-election, the Gallup polling organization said Tuesday, drily calling that prediction “perhaps a slightly more optimistic assessment than is currently warranted.”

Thirty-six percent say presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will be the one taking the oath of office in January.

Bad news for Romney fans.

NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war in Afghanistan by 2014
“We have finalized plans so 2014 will be a year in which the United States will not be spending as much money in Afghanistan as it is spending today. It will save money and we will be providing security ourselves,” he said. “That transition and the eventual withdrawal in 2014 of the U.S. forces and other NATO forces from Afghanistan is good for Afghanistan and good for our allied countries.”

I hope this work out.

World
Four die on Mount Everest
Four people died while coming down the southern slope of the mountain during the weekend after reaching Mount Everest’s 8848-meter (29,028 foot) summit, officials said.

The victims have been identified as Ebehard Schaaf, 61, a German medical doctor; Sriya Shah, 33, a Nepali-born Canadian woman; Song Wondin, a 44-year-old man from South Korea; and Wen Ryi Ha, 55, of China, according to officials with the tourism and civil aviation ministry and at the base of the mountain.

This is so sad. 😦 Knowing the potential risks, is it even worth it getting to the top?

World’s tallest tower, Tokyo Skytree, opens
The new tower, whose construction began in July 2008, surpasses China’s Canton Tower (600 meters high) as the world’s tallest tower, but is still nearly 200 meters shy of Dubai’s 830-meter Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the tallest manmade structure ever built.

Tokyo Skytree will provide services for digital radio and TV transmission, as well as an aquarium, theater, academic institutes and regional heating and cooling facilities.

It will also give visitors a chance to gaze across the city.

Pretty cool.

Health
Can Your Mental Health Affect Your Longevity?
Research paints a compelling argument. Adults with serious mental illness like schizophrenia die about 25 years earlier than the general population, according to a 2007 report from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. They’re 3.4 times more likely to die of heart disease or diabetes, 3.8 times more likely to die in an accident, 5 times more likely to die of respiratory ailments, and 6.6 times more likely to die of pneumonia or flu, found the team led by Joseph Parks, director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health.

Things don’t look good for those with mental illnesses.

Technology/Social Media
Squeezing cash from China’s billion phone app market
This year, China will overtake America as the world’s biggest smartphone market.

And for many Chinese, the smartphone offers them their first personal route to access the internet – by some estimates 40% of those connecting to the web in China now do so solely via a mobile phone.

That offers IT developers, and mobile phone app makers in particular, an extraordinary opportunity.
Interesting.

Business/Money
Facebook sets share price in $100bn flotation
The social network said on Thursday that it valued shares at $38 (£24) each, and that its shares would begin trading in New York on Friday.

At this price the eight-year old firm would be worth more than $100bn.

Demand is set to be high; earlier this week Facebook said it would be selling 25% more shares than planned.

Wow, it’s hard to believe that the company is going public on the stock exchange soon.

Stocks slump again; 10-yr yield near all-time low
The Dow Jones industrial average posted its 11th loss in 12 days after a pair of discouraging economic reports further unnerved traders already concerned about a possible exit from the euro by Greece.

The Dow lost 156.06 points, most of it toward the end of the trading day, to close at 12,442.49. It is down almost 6 percent for May, and what had been a strong year for stocks has been reduced to a slender 1.8 percent gain.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index closed at its lowest point since Jan. 17.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year note hit 1.69 percent. That is lower than any 3 p.m. reading since at least 1953, according to records kept by the Federal Reserve.

Talk about hard economic times.

Nearly 87,000 Jeep Wranglers recalled
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall affects only 2010 Wranglers with automatic transmissions and ones that were built before July 14, 2010. Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the 2010 models had a transmission plate and catalytic converter that were configured differently than Wranglers from other years.

It said debris can get trapped between a plate that protects the transmission and the catalytic converter, which causes a fire. Debris can build up when the SUVs are driven off-road or through tall brush.

I’m glad I don’t own one.

Entertainment
Donna Summer, queen of disco, dies at 63
The five-time Grammy winner, who was still making records as recently as last year, died in Englewood, Fla., Thursday after battling cancer. She was 63.

RIP Donna.

Summer concert preview: Tours offer real music deals
Well-heeled concertgoers are paying as much as $2,500 this summer to get the VIP treatment at a Madonna concert (front-row seats, souvenir T-shirts and other material amenities). But for about a quarter of that cash, fans can sample a broad palette of music with some of the biggest stars on the road. USA TODAY looks at seven high-value shows that offer plenty of bang without breaking the bank.

I want to go to a concert this summer.

Robin Gibb, member of the Bee Gees, dies after battle with cancer
Robin Gibb, one of three brothers who made up the disco group the Bee Gees behind “Saturday Night Fever” and other now-iconic sounds from the 1970s, died on Sunday, according to a statement on his website.

He was 62.

Gibb “passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery,” said the statement, which was attributed to his family. He died in England at 10:47 a.m. (5:47 a.m. ET), according to a post on his official Twitter feed.

RIP Robin. We lost another music legend this week.

Sports
VCU leaves CAA, announces move to Atlantic 10
The president said at press conference Tuesday to announce that VCU is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to join the A-10 that “premier universities are premier across the board and that includes athletics.”

I think this a good move on VCU’s part. That means more automatic bids to the NCAA and a chance to play higher ranked teams.