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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In the News: March 21, 2012

As opposed to last time, these are all from this month!

This day in history:
How the world's first rock concert ended in chaos

"Sixty years ago the world's first rock concert was staged in Cleveland by two men whose passion for music bridged the racial divide in a segregated US.

Jimmy Sutphin was playing poker and drinking beer in a hotel room with some hockey team pals when they heard the commotion outside.

Peering out of the fifth-floor window, they saw thousands of people besieging the indoor arena across the road.

The 20-year-old student and his friends abandoned their card game and piled downstairs to investigate.

It was Friday evening, 21 March 1952, in Cleveland, Ohio, and they were about to witness history being made.

The crowd was angrily demanding entry to a performance featuring a radical new music movement that was about to sweep the nation.

The world's first ever rock concert - the Moondog Coronation Ball - was about to end in turmoil after it had barely begun.

"Gatecrashers had stormed the 9,950-seat venue and it was dangerously overcrowded.

The musicians, who are thought to have only performed several songs, were ordered to stop playing as police waded into the mob. A man was stabbed in the melee.

"Less well known is the reason why the Moondog Coronation Ball ended in disaster: a minor printing error.

The mistake was caused by someone forgetting to add the date to tickets issued for a follow-up ball, which Mintz had set about organising immediately after the initial one sold out.

As a result, an estimated 20,000 people showed up on the same night for the first concert - at a venue which could hold half that number.

Study: Eat White Rice, Up Your Risk Of Suffering Type 2 Diabetes
Avid Coke drinker and Asian-American... I think I'm screwed.

Mmmmmm... No way I'm taking that out of my diet.

"If you're concerned about contracting type 2 diabetes, you may want to consider laying off white rice. That's according to Harvard School of Public Health researchers, who released a study that collected data from loads of other research to posit that people whose diets rely on white rice tend to be more at risk of being diagnosed with the condition.

The analysis, released in the British Medical Journal, rounded up studies from China, Japan, Australia and the United States to come to its conclusions, the most damning of which says that each white rice serving you eat per day ups your risk by 10 percent.

Authors of the study recommend sticking with brown rice and other whole grains rather than processed white rice, which is rich in refined carbohydrates.
(via The Consumerist)

Postal Service: We need more junk mail
Yup, just another bloated and inefficient government agency adding value to the American public.

"The U.S. Postal Service wants small businesses to send more direct mail, a.k.a. junk mail, to help the beleaguered agency expand its revenue stream by hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a campaign called "Every Door Direct Mail," the Postal Service is touting a year-old online tool to help small businesses micro-target direct mail. The Web tool allows firms to tap customers by neighborhood or zip code without names or addresses.

The cost to small businesses is 14.5 cents per mail piece. The Postal Service spent virtually nothing to create the online service, tapping existing staff and resources to pull it together, said Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing officer for the Postal Service, at a presentation Tuesday

"We believe it could be a billion-dollar product for the Postal Service by 2016," Vogel said.

The online direct mail program has been in existence since last April, generating $153 million in revenue through December. The Postal Service estimates the direct mail program will bring the struggling agency some $750 to $800 million in 2012.

The Postal Service reported a $5.1 billion loss for the year ended Sept. 30. The loss was caused by an ongoing decline in its core revenue driver, regular letters and bills known as first-class mail, as well as a legal mandate that the agency prefund health care benefits for a legion of future retirees.

The Postal Service has made headlines recently with cost-cutting moves to get out of the red over the next few years. The agency is working to close more than 200 postal plants that may cost 32,000 jobs, to cut Saturday service,and to delay delivery of some first-class mail .Separately, officials may also consider a hike in the price of a first-class stamp by a nickel to 50 cents.


Ugandans react with anger to Kony video
Can't say I'm surprised...

(Side note: at 2:00, there's a man wearing a Tom Brady jersey. Nice.)

"While Youtube, Twitter and Facebook have gripped Uganda's middle class in recent years - and social networking sites have been key forums for the many Ugandan critics of the Kony 2012 video - most people in rural areas, including post-conflict northern Uganda, are still excluded from the internet revolution.

That means many of Joseph Kony's thousands of victims, most of whom live in rural villages, have never even heard of Kony 2012, Invisible Children or even Youtube.

Invisible Children's publicity machine is immense. Aside from the millions of internet users it has reached, and Kony 2012 already being described by some as the most effective viral campaign in history, it must also be the first ever Youtube video to be publicly screened in the northern Ugandan town of Lira.

A local charity, the African Youth Initiative Network, thought that the communities worst affected by the LRA, when it operated in Uganda, also deserved an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about, and so organized the event.

It was heavily publicized on local radio stations, and a crowd of thousands turned up at the Mayor’s Gardens in the centre of Lira for the sunset screening.

Having heard so many great things about the film, the crowd’s expectations were high.

"People I spoke to anticipated seeing a video that showed the world the terrible atrocities that they had suffered during the conflict, and the ongoing struggles they still face trying to rebuild their lives after two lost decades.

The audience was at first puzzled to see the narrative lead by an American man – Jason Russell – and his young son.

Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.

One woman I spoke to made the comparison of selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11 – likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, however well intentioned the campaign behind it.

The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled.

It seems that the while the film has a viral power never seen before in the online community, it did not go down nearly so well with the very people it claims it is meant to help.
(Al Jazeera via TDW)

Speaking of 'Kony 2012', you've probably heard by now, but...
Invisible Children Co-Founder Detained: SDPD
Again, can't say I'm surprised... [Joking!]

"A co-founder for Invisible Children was detained in Pacific Beach on Thursday for being drunk in public and masturbating, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Jason Russell, 33, was allegedly found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, according to the SDPD. He was detained at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road.

An SDPD spokesperson said the man detained was acting very strange, some may say bizarre.

"Police said they received several calls Thursday at 11:30 a.m. of a man in various stages of undress, running through traffic and screaming."

"Russell is one of the the founders responsible for the "Kony 2012" video that recently went viral. He is described on the organization's website as a co-founder and "our grand storyteller and dreamer." Russell is also described as a Christian and father to two children who wants to have nine more children with his wife he calls his "best friend for over 23 years."

His wife, Danica Russell, released a statement Friday night addressing Russell's health. She wrote Russel "has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn’t caused by either of those things. But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration."

(NBC San Diego)

People Are Actually Buying Music Again
Contrary to what the RIAA would have you believe, the internet hasn't killed it off. (Although Steve Jobs probably has a lot to do with the increase in digital purchases).

"Reports of the music industry's death may be premature. According to the results of a new study, not only are more people buying music, but some are doing so after hearing the tunes for free on the Internet.

According The NPD Group's annual music study, after years of declining sales, the total number of tracks purchased — whether on CD or as digital download — rose by 4% in 2011.

The study credits some of this growth to the fact that consumers have access to a wide variety of sources to discover new music. Online services like Pandora, Rhapsody, and Spotify are not necessarily poaching customers away from purchasing music. Instead, they are fulfilling the same role as traditional radio.

And while millions of people are getting their music through download services like iTunes, the NPD study says there are still nearly twice as many CD buyers in the U.S. as there are paid digital-music downloaders.

"The CD still has a powerful attraction for both older, mainstream consumers who listen in their cars, as well as to super fans who enjoy owning the package and assortment of songs from their favorite artists," said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD.

45 million people paid to download music in 2011 — a 14% increase from the year before — and they spent $49 on average.

On the illegal download front, NPD estimates that 13% of Internet users downloaded music from a P2P site, down from a the 2006 peak of 19%.
(via The Consumerist)

Do You Live in a Bubble? A Quiz

"White America is coming apart at the seams.

That's the thesis Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, puts forth in his new book, "Coming Apart." In a piece soon to appear on the NewsHour, Murray argues that the super wealthy, super educated and super snobby live in so-called super-ZIPs: cloistered together, with little to no exposure to American culture at large.

Those people, he says, live in a social and cultural bubble. And so he includes this 25-question quiz, covering beer to politics to Avon to "The Big Bang Theory," to help readers determine how thick their own bubble may be.

Follow the link to take the quiz!
I got a 31.
Where do you fall?

Government To Banks In Mortgage Settlement: We're Going To Keep An Eye On You
Seems like a good idea...

"Lest they turn around act like the jerky big banks that they are, federal officials say they're going to keep a watchful eye on five major banks as the final terms of a mortgage settlement were filed today in federal court. The $25 billion deal was announced in February and the government wants to make sure banks will offer wide housing relief to Americans like they promised.

The settlement is supposed to help struggling borrowers who said banks came after them with faulty foreclosures or misled them about their loan modifications. The banks involved never fessed up to dirty dealings, but the U.S. Department of Justice says the pact will "remediate harms allegedly resulting from the alleged unlawful conduct."

An independent monitor will be in charge of making sure Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial are going along with the new mortgage payment processing standards through a "very specific" sampling process, test questions, and error thresholds, says Reuters. Those results will be publicly reported.

Banks will have to provide 30% of the relief by cutting mortgage debt for borrowers who currently owe more than their homes are worth, but each bank will get different amounts of credit for each separate scenario.
(via The Consumerist)

But wait a minute...
Meanwhile, The Fed's Still Paying Banks Not To Lend...

"One of the most annoying U.S. government policies these days is the Federal Reserve's decision to pay big banks not to lend money.
This bank handout continues while average Americans who have been responsible and lived within their means earn nothing on their savings.

The Fed initiated this pay-for-no-lending program during the financial crisis, when it decided to pay big banks interest on their "excess reserves."

What are "excess reserves"?

Money that the banks aren't lending out--money that banks are just keeping on deposit at the Fed.

The Fed is paying banks 0.25% interest on this money.

0.25% interest isn't much, but it's more than the banks are paying you to keep money in your savings or money-market account. It's also more than you'll earn if you lend the Federal government money for 2 years.

Oh, by the way, why, exactly, are you earning so little interest in your savings accounts and money-market funds?

Well, because the Fed is keeping short-term interest rates at zero in the hopes that you'll borrow money (as if borrowing money wasn't what got us into trouble in the first place).

In other words, the Fed is paying banks not to lend money and screwing you, American citizens, because you're dumb enough to have saved money.


Why is the Fed paying banks not to lend? Well, back in the financial crisis, the Fed wanted to find ways to secretly bail out banks without it being obvious to every American that that was what it was doing. And this particular bailout program was one of the more successful ways the Fed discovered of doing that. Over the past few years, this program has secretly funneled about $12 billion in risk-free cash (rough estimate) directly to the banks, just for being banks and not lending.

Of course, the financial crisis is over now, and the banks say they are in tip-top shape. But the Fed's still paying them not to lend. Don't you wish you could get in on that game?

How much money are banks keeping in "excess reserves?"

Oh, about $1.6 trillion. (See chart)

The Fed pays banks about $4 billion of interest a year on those reserves. And bankers get bonuses based on that interest, for not lending money and instead just taking the free interest from the Fed.

Meanwhile, you earn next to nothing (or nothing) on the money you've saved.
(Business Insider)

Enough seriousness.
What's something funny to lighten the mood...

Oh, I know! Let's remind everyone how broke Antoine Walker is!
Antoine Walker 2006 Miami Heat NBA Championship Ring Fetches $21.5K
Although, it's started to be less funny and more sad...

Who remembers "The Wiggle"?

"Things aren’t going so hot for former Boston Celtic Antoine Walker. The dude filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and is currently playing for the Idaho Stampede in the D-League.

Oh, and he was just forced to sell his NBA Championship ring. The ring, which Walker won in 2006 while playing for the Miami Heat, fetched $21,500. That’s a nice price, but it hardly puts a dent in what Walker owes.

Walker racked up more than $12 million in debt and had only $4 million in assets at the time he filed for bankruptcy. This, despite being one of the highest-paid players in the NBA during his career. That’s some good money management skill.

The ring was bought by someone named Andres Garcia, who may or may not be the actor by the same name.

Walker last played in the NBA in 2008 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he averaged 8.0 points per game. Things have gotten worse for him since. Other than the bankruptcy, he also got cut by Idaho before they re-signed him. He’s only averaging 9.9 points per game for the Stampede.
(Busted Coverage)

Security camera footage shows supermarket ghost has a penchant for sweets

"A FRUIT snack mysteriously flung 6m on to the floor of a locked and empty supermarket has sparked theories that a poltergeist is on the prowl.

Paranormal experts are now studying footage from three security cameras after IGA owner Norm Hurst captured the bizarre footage at his Brompton business, which was been plagued by unexplained incidents.

The motion-activated CCTVs in his store recorded a late-night incident last Thursday which sent chills down his spine - and was watched by 50,000 fascinated viewers on AdelaideNow and its sister websites yesterday.

"The store's cameras automatically shut down after 15 minutes when there is no movement, but at 11.30pm they clearly capture an incident that cannot be easily explained.

"This packet of Roll-Ups, which are supposed to be in the next aisle, has flung out on to the floor. It's not just slid off, it's been thrown out from the pasta (shelf)," Mr Hurst told The Advertiser yesterday.

The product is kept at the other end of the next aisle, about 6m from where the packet landed.

One camera shows the packet suddenly appearing on the floor, while two others show it actually landing on the floor, suggesting that some kind of movement had already triggered their operation when the incident occurred.

There was no evidence of a break-in and the alarms were not activated.
(Andelaide Now via TDW)

Potential Employers Now Have The Nerve To Ask For Applicants' Facebook Passwords
I don't think I could ever work for a company that did this...

"What's your response if I ask for your Facebook password so I can log in as you and just poke around, see what's up? Probably something like, "Get out of my face, you crazy person." But apparently, some potential employers are actually asking for those private details with job applicants. The nerve!

The Associated Press (via Chicago Tribune) says this is a more common thing than one might think, especially in the public sector, relaying the story of one such job applicant who had an interviewer sitting at the computer ask him for his username and password. She wanted to log in as him and give his life a look-see. Nope! He withdrew his application.

"It's akin to requiring someone's house keys," said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor who calls it "an egregious privacy violation."

"Some employers check out applicants' Facebook profiles if they're publically available, during the job screening process. If they're private, companies are sometimes asking applicants to log in to a company computer during an interview or friend human resource managers.

And once they're hired, employees are often asked to sign non-disparagement agreements, promising to never speak negatively about their company on any social network.
(via The Consumerist)

Obesity gene's role revealed in mice study

I don't care too much about the story, I just thought this picture was awesome.

"Researchers believe they have identified why a mutation in a particular gene can lead to obesity.

Mouse experiments suggested the body's message to "stop eating" was blocked if the animals had the mutation.

The study, published in Nature Medicine, said the brain's response to appetite hormones was being disrupted.

The Georgetown University Medical Center researchers hope their findings could lead to new ways to control weight.

Many genes have been linked to obesity, one of them - brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene - has been shown to play a role in putting on weight in animal and some human studies.

However, scientists at the Georgetown University Medical Center said the explanation for this link was unknown.

"Prof Sadaf Farooqi, who studies the relationship between genes and obesity at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC: "Genes have a surprisingly large role, it's often underestimated. Between 40 and 70% of the difference in weight between two individuals is due to genetics."

She said completely disrupting the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene had been shown to lead to severe obesity. However, she cautioned that the study was "entirely in mice" and the mutation was "very rare" in people.

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