Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Justin Bieber throws up on stage and is caught clearly lip synching - singing still went on while he was vomiting -

Justin Bieber throws up on stage and is caught clearly lip synching - singing still went on while he was vomiting - 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

66% Of People Suffer From 'Nomophobia' -- Fear Of Being Without Cell Phone... -

66% Of People Suffer From 'Nomophobia' -- Fear Of Being Without Cell Phone... - 

A recent study sponsored by SecurEnvoy has found that since 2008, the amount of people who fear being without a mobile phone has grown from 53 percent to 66 percent.

The term nomophobia, meaning the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, was first coined by British researchers in 2008.

The 2012 study, which surveyed 1,000 people, found that people not only fear being without a cell phone, but almost half of respondents said they would be upset if their partner looked through their messages.

This study also found that those who are 55 and older are the third most nomophobic group, after ages 18-24, who were first, and ages 25-34.


Friday, 28 September 2012

14 Signs That The World Economy Is Getting Weaker -

14 Signs That The World Economy Is Getting Weaker - 

The United States is not the only one with massive economic problems right now.

The truth is that just about wherever you look around the globe things are getting even worse.  China is experiencing a substantial economic slowdown, and Japan has resorted to yet another round of money printing in an effort to keep the Japanese economy moving.  Unemployment in Europe continues to get even worse, and the riots this week in Spain and in Greece have been absolutely frightening at times.  In the United States there are a whole host of signs that another recession is approaching, and the number of American CEOs that say that they plan to eliminate jobs in the coming months is rapidly rising.  The world economy is more interconnected today than ever before, and that means that we are all in this together.  Just remember what happened back in 2008 and 2009.  The economic pain that started on Wall Street was felt in every corner of the planet.  So anyone that believes that the United States (or any other major nation for that matter) is going to escape the next wave of the economic crisis is simply not being realistic.  Why do you think central banks all over the world are in “panic mode” right now?  They are firing all of their ammunition and printing money like there is no tomorrow in an attempt to keep the system together.  Unfortunately, it is not going to work.
If the powers that be had an “easy button” that would quickly fix everything, they would have pressed it by now.  But despite all of their efforts things continue to unravel.  If you want to get an idea of where we are headed,  just look at what is already happening in Europe.   Unemployment has risen above 24 percent in Greece and above 25 percent in Spain.
Those two nations are on the “bleeding edge” of the next wave of economic problems.  Unemployment is rising almost everywhere else in Europe as well, and things are eventually going to get really bad in Asia and in North America too.
So hold on to your seat belts – it is going to be a bumpy ride.
The following are 14 signs from around the globe that the world economy is getting weaker….
#1 Things in China do not look good right now.  The Shanghai Composite index fell to its lowest point in over 3 years earlier this week.  Will the S&P 500 soon follow suit?
#2 The Bank of Japan has resorted to yet another round of money printing in a desperate attempt to try to bolster the faltering Japanese economy….
In Asia, the Bank of Japan has long been manufacturing money out of thin air. It has just announced an eighth round of money printing to prop up the ailing Japanese economy. The Bank of Japan is to purchase 10 trillion yen of bonds to add further liquidity into the financial system. Now it has 80 trillion yen of bonds in its portfolio, equivalent to 20 per cent of Japan’s gross domestic product.
#3 In Spain, violent demonstrations over the state of the Spanish economy just outside the national Parliament building in Madrid on Tuesday evening made headlines all over the globe.  You can view video of police brutally beating young Spanish protesters during those demonstrations right here.
#4 As unemployment hovers around the 25 percent mark, foraging through garbage bins for food has become so rampant in Spain that one city has actually started putting locks on supermarket garbage bins “as a public health precaution“.
#5 Despite all of the money printing that the ECB has been doing, the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds has risen back up to about 6 percent again.
#6 The economic protests in Greece are getting completely and totally out of control.  Just check out this descriptionof the “Day of Rage” that took place in Greece earlier this week….
Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters yesterday as tens of thousands poured into the streets of Athens as part of a nationwide strike to challenge a new round of austerity measures that are expected to cut wages, pensions and healthcare once again.
Dozens of youths, some masking their faces with helmets and T-shirts, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at police who fired back in an effort to scatter the angry crowds around the parliament building. More than 50,000 people are believed to have participated in the mass walk-out in Athens alone.
#7 The unemployment rate in France has risen for 16 months in a row and is now the highest that it has been in over a decade.
#8 As I wrote about recently, the number of unemployed workers in Italy has increased by more than 37 percentover the past year.
#9 New orders for durable goods in the United States fell by a whopping 13.2 percent in August.  That was the largest decline that we have seen since the middle of the last recession (January 2009).
#10 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. GDP only grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate during the second quarter of 2012 as opposed to the 1.7 percent annual rate previously reported.
#11 The U.S. Postal Service is about to experience its second financial default in just the past two months….
The U.S. Postal Service will default this week on a $5.6 billion congressionally mandated obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits, marking the second time in two months the cash-strapped agency has done this.
#12 It looks like General Motors is on a path that will lead to bankruptcy (again).
#13 According to a recent survey conducted by State Street Global Advisors, 71 percent of “investors in a survey of 300 around the world, including the largest pension funds, asset managers and private banks, fear an imminent Lehman-like event.”
#14 According to a recent survey of American CEOs by Business Roundtable, the number of CEOs that plan to eliminate jobs has risen significantly from earlier this year….
The CEOs’ decline in confidence comes alongside a worsening employment outlook. Thirty-four percent of the 138 CEOs surveyed said in this quarter’s survey that they expected their companies to cut jobs in the next six months, compared to just 20 percent in the second quarter. Likewise, only 29 percent say they expect employment to grow in the next half year, down from 36 percent last quarter.
But the mainstream media in the United States would like us to believe that everything is getting better.
The mainstream media would like us to believe that QE3 is going to stimulate lots of new hiring all over America, and they are greatly celebrating the fact that the S&P 500 hit a five year high on Thursday.

Well, those on Wall Street should celebrate this monetary “sugar high” while they still can.  Of course QE3 was going to cause stock prices to rise in the short-term, but the reality of the matter is that QE3 is not going to do a thing to stop the financial markets from crashing when the time comes for them to crash.
Economies tend to flourish in a stable, predictable environment.  When you start recklessly printing money, it may help your economic numbers in the short-term, but it disrupts the stability of the system.
And once you have created a tremendous amount of instability, it is really, really hard to convince people that you can create stability once again.
When it comes to economics, confidence is one of the most important ingredients.  If people lose confidence in the system, it almost does not matter what else you do.
As I wrote about the other day, quantitative easing worked for the Weimar Republic for a little while, but in the end it resulted in total disaster.
It will also end in total disaster for us.
All over the globe financial authorities are playing all sorts of games in an attempt to keep the system functioning smoothly.  But these games are going to steadily undermine confidence in the system, and that is going to prove to be absolutely deadly.
Take advantage of this period of relative stability while you still can, because when it is gone it is not coming back.


Chevy dealership @PriorityChevy - has man who got good deal arrested... - told officer he had stolen it -

Chevy dealership @PriorityChevy - has man who got good deal arrested... -  told officer he had stolen it -  

The president of Priority Chevrolet apologized Wednesday for the arrest of a customer in June whom the dealership mistakenly undercharged for an SUV and who resisted the company's efforts to get him to sign a new, costlier contract.

Dennis Ellmer said he's heard from Chesapeake police that one of his managers told an officer that Danny Sawyer of Chesapeake had stolen a 2012 Chevrolet Traverse.

"I owe Mr. Sawyer a big apology," said Ellmer, who manages the entire Priority Auto Group - which includes 11 dealerships in Virginia and North Carolina.

He said his staff erred when they sold the SUV to Sawyer for about $5,600 too little and erred again when they went to police. He said Sawyer should not have been arrested and definitely should not have spent four hours in jail.

"It is my plan to let him keep the $5,600 and to make Mr. Sawyer right. I can't tell you how I plan to fix it, but it is my intention to make it right," said Ellmer, adding that he would like to sit down and talk with Sawyer.

Rebecca Colaw, Sawyer's attorney, said she appreciates that Ellmer is taking responsibility for what happened. But she said he will have to do more than say he's sorry and let Sawyer keep the SUV.

"An apology is not enough," she said.

Earlier this month, Sawyer, 40, a registered nurse, filed two lawsuits against the dealership accusing it of malicious prosecution, slander, defamation and abuse of process, among other things. The lawsuits seek $2.2 million in damages, plus attorney fees.

Ellmer and his vice president, Stacy Cummings, said they were unaware of the lawsuits until they read about them Tuesday on the front page of The Virginian-Pilot. Two managers at Priority Chevrolet declined Monday to comment on the lawsuits, and two phone calls and an email to an attorney for the dealership were not returned.

According to the lawsuits, Sawyer test-drove a blue Chevrolet Traverse on May 7 but ultimately decided to buy a black one. He traded in his 2008 Saturn Vue, signed a promissory note and left in his new SUV.

The next morning, Sawyer returned and asked to exchange the black Traverse for the blue one.

The lawsuit claims Wib Davenport, a sales manager, agreed to the trade without discussing how much more the blue Traverse would cost. Cummings disputed that, saying Davenport told Sawyer it would cost about $5,500 more than the black one and that Sawyer orally agreed to the higher price.

Regardless, the final contract Sawyer signed did not reflect the higher price, which Cummings said should have been in the area of $39,000. He blamed a clerical error.

"We definitely made a mistake there. There is no doubt about it," said Ellmer.

After signing the contract - which listed a sale price of about $34,000 - Sawyer immediately left the dealership and returned with a cashier's check covering what he owed after dealer incentives and his trade-in.

A week later, Sawyer came back from a vacation to find numerous voicemails and a letter from the dealership, the suit said. In a phone conversation, Davenport explained they had made a mistake on the contract and sold the car for too little. He asked Sawyer to return to the dealership and sign a new contract.

The lawsuit claims Sawyer refused. Cummings said Sawyer initially agreed but never followed through.

When Sawyer did not return to the dealership, Priority staff continued their attempts to contact him via phone, text message and hand-delivered letters. They eventually contacted police.

On June 15, three Chesapeake police officers arrested Sawyer in his front yard and took him before a magistrate judge. He was released on bond after about four hours at the Chesapeake jail, the suit said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Nancy Parr said her office dropped all charges Aug. 23 after speaking with representatives of the dealership and determining there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.

In an interview Tuesday, Ellmer and Cummings said their staff never reported the SUV stolen and never asked for Sawyer to be arrested. They said they called police only for help locating the SUV while they pursued the civil action.

After speaking with police Wednesday, however, Ellmer said he'd learned one of his managers, Brad Anderson, had indeed said the SUV was stolen.

Kelly O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Chesapeake Police Department, said the officer told Anderson in advance he was going to secure a warrant for Sawyer's arrest.

Ellmer described what happened to Sawyer as an isolated incident. He noted that his dealerships sell about 13,000 cars a year.

"This shouldn't have happened," he said.


When the wife does the chores, the marriage lasts... -

When the wife does the chores, the marriage lasts... - 

Couples who share the housework are more likely to divorce, study finds
Divorce rates are far higher among “modern” couples who share the housework than in those where the woman does the lion’s share of the chores, a Norwegian study has found.

In what appears to be a slap in the face for gender equality, the report found the divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.
“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home”.
The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said.
“One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite,” he said.
The figures clearly show that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” he went on.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Scientists find way to make old muscles young again - Reverse aging? -

Scientists find way to make old muscles young again - Reverse aging? - 

It is a dream for everyone as they grow older to turn back the clock and live in a younger body once again.  While many have developed ways to make the body look younger cosmetically, there have been very few effective methods to combat the aging process within the body – until now.
For the first time ever, researchers have identified a crucial protein responsible for the decline of muscle repair and agility as the body ages.  Upon this discovery, the scientists were able to effectively halt muscle decline in mice, giving hope to similar treatments for humans in the future.
According to the study’s authors, loss of muscle strength and repair is one of the major concerns facing elderly citizens.
“A great advantage of medicine is that people are not dying as early as they used to, but the body hasn’t figured out how to maintain its muscle repair,” Andrew Brack, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine and corresponding study author, told FoxNews.com.  “The average loss of muscle mass for the 80-year-old male is 40 percent.  Elderly people will fall over and break bones, they go to the hospital where they lose more muscle strength, and then don’t recover.”
Brack noted that muscle strength is also one of the main factors that keeps elderly individuals out of the hospital and allows them to be productive members of the workforce.  In order to combat this muscle decline, Brack and Albert Basson, who met at King’s College London, teamed up to see if they could put the process in reverse.
The key revolves around stem cells found within muscles.  During exercise or injury, these stem cells become activated and work fervently by dividing and multiplying into new muscle fibers that help to repair the muscle.  When they are no longer need, they retreat into a reservoir within the muscle and lay dormant until they are needed again.
The problem with aging muscles is that these ‘fixer’ stem cells don’t remain dormant when they’re not needed.  Instead, they become activated more and more and unnecessarily divide and multiply – causing them to die at a faster rate.  Since muscles only have a finite amount of these stem cells, the quicker the cells die, the less effective muscles become at repairing themselves.
Wondering exactly why the stem cells became more activated with age, Brack and Basson screened older muscles, finding higher levels of a protein called FGF2 – a protein that stimulates cell division.  The scientists figured these levels could explain the unnecessary cell activation.
“As your muscle gets old, you start making more of this FGF2 protein,” Basson, senior lecturer at King’s College London Dental Institute, told FoxNews.com.  “…When there’s more, the FGF2 starts waking up these stem cells and they start dividing.  The stem cells have a limited number of times they can divide before they die or differentiate into other cells.”
Basson figured that if they were able to boost a gene called SPRY2, which inhibits FGF2, then the stem cells would lay dormant until they were absolutely needed.  To test this theory, the researchers administered a common drug containing SPRY2 to suppress FGF2 levels in elderly mice.  Sure enough, the drugs halted the decline of muscle stem cells in the mice.
“We think of this as the first study where we’ve identified something that goes wrong in the aging muscle,” Basson said.  “There are a number of these FGF inhibitor drugs used in clinics for cancer, so they certainly can be given to patients.  But we’re still quite a ways off before we can think about using this drug.”


Businessman Offers $65Million To Any Man To Break Up Lesbian Daughter's Relationship... -

Businessman Offers $65Million To Any Man To Break Up Lesbian Daughter's Relationship... - 
Photo of Gigi Chao (r) and her long-term girlfriend, Sean B. Eav (l).  (credit: Facebook)

A wealthy businessman in Hong Kong has reportedly offered $65 million for a man to woo away his lesbian daughter from her long-term girlfriend.

Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, 76, made the offer after he heard reports that his daughter, Gigi Chao, entered into a civil partnership with her girlfriend Sean B. Eav.

He told the South China Morning Post that those reports are false.

“I don’t mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted,” Mr. Chao told The Daily Telegraph about the man he is seeking for his daughter.

Chao is one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest businessmen and said the money he is offering can be used for someone to start their own business.

“Gigi is a very good woman with both talents and looks. She is devoted to her parents, is generous, and does volunteer work,” he told the Telegraph.

In 2007, Gigi gave an interview to HK Magazine and mentioned her upbringing which differs from her father’s side of the story.

“My father took a hands-off approach in parenting. I see him as a friend more than a father,” she told the magazine.

Currently, Gigi has over 6,000 subscribers on her Facebook page but is currently no longer accepting any more friend requests.

“No longer accepting Facebook friend requests…sorry. Where do all these people come from? Jerusalm? Ethiopia? Istanbul? ridiculous. It’s also quite scary that my friend requests number keeps jumping up every few seconds.”


Taxpayers spent $1.4 Billion on Obamas last year... - Royal family cost Brits $58 Million... -

Taxpayers spent $1.4 Billion on Obamas last year... - Royal family cost Brits $58 Million... - 

Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.

In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.

Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in.

Gray told The Daily Caller that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.”

“The most concerning thing, I think, is the use of taxpayer funds to actually abet his re-election,” Gray, who worked in the Eisenhower administration and for other Republican presidents, said in an interview with TheDC on Wednesday.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/26/taxpayers-spent-1-4-billion-on-obama-family-last-year-perks-questioned-in-new-book/#ixzz27fs4Sgxh

Johns Hopkins doctors Grow New Ear On Woman’s Arm -

Johns Hopkins doctors Grow New Ear On Woman’s Arm - 

Johns Hopkins doctors are once again making history–this time by using a woman’s own tissue to build her a new ear.

Derek Valcourt explains with doctors’ help, her own body has replaced what an aggressive form of cancer took away.

You don’t have to tell Sherrie Walters her story sounds like science fiction.

“No, I feel like an experiment,” Walters said.

The discovery of a rapidly-spreading basal cell cancer in her ear in 2008 required the removal of part of her ear, part of her skull and her left ear canal. But now, in a groundbreaking and complicated set of surgeries, Johns Hopkins doctors have attached a new ear made from Walters’ own tissue.


Arizona man arrested for fake grenade launcher stunt -

Arizona man arrested for fake grenade launcher stunt - 

Police have arrested an Arizona man who filmed his 16-year-old nephew walking city streets dressed in a sheet and carrying a fake grenade launcher in an apparent bid to test police responses after the Denver theater shooting, authorities said on Wednesday.

Michael David Turley, 39, was arrested on Monday over the making of the video, in which an unidentified narrator says he aims to “find out how safe I really am” in Phoenix following the July Denver shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

The video depicts a man with a fake grenade launcher walking around a Phoenix intersection in what appears to be a blue sheet with dark material covering his head and face. The filmmaker said it took 15 minutes for police to respond.

The amateur video, filmed eight days after the Colorado shooting at a screening of a Batman movie, was broadcast on YouTube and titled, “Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test.”

Turley was charged with knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and misconduct involving a simulated explosive.

He is being held in county jail on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 45 months in prison, said Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerry Cobb.

“We take something like this seriously,” Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said. “It wasn’t fun and games to all the people who were affected by this. We don’t behave like this in this country to prove a point.”

Police said officers reached the scene about three minutes after receiving numerous emergency calls from passers-by who said the person was pointing a weapon as they drove by.

The 16-year-old has not been arrested, Holmes said.

“The video told us what Turley was intentionally trying to do - creating a terrorist hoax for his own personal ideals,” he said.


Software let rent-to-own companies spy on customers - enabled keystroke logs, take screen shots and even take pictures -

Software let rent-to-own companies spy on customers - enabled keystroke logs, take screen shots and even take pictures - 

Be careful of what you do in front of a rent-to-own computer. You never know who may be watching.

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced it had reached a settlement with seven rent-to-own companies that spied on their customers through the very computers they rented to them.

The FTC said that each of the seven companies — including Aspen Way Enterprises, J.A.G. Rents and C.A.L.M. Ventures — installed a piece of software called PC Rental Agent that enabled them to see keystroke logs, take screen shots and even take pictures using the computer's webcam, all without their customers’ knowledge.

PC Rental Agent, designed by the now-bankrupt software firm DesignerWare, was marketed to rent-to-own companies as a way to keep track of a rented computer's physical location and disable it remotely through a kill switch if the renter began skipping payments.

The FTC had no problem with those functions.

But Tracy Thorleifson, an FTC attorney at its office in Seattle, said that while the rent-to-own stores are entitled to be paid for their property … they are not entitled to spy on people.”


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Chinese internet users to overtake English language users... - by 2015 -

Chinese internet users to overtake English language users... - by 2015 - 

In May 2011, there were 565 million English internet users, compared to 510 million Chinese users, representing 27 per cent and 24 per cent of total global internet users, respectively.
The report predicts that if current growth rates continue, Chinese will overtake English as the main language used by internet users in 2015.
This switch is largely due to China's massive population, now over 1.3 billion people.
Just under 40 per cent of people in China use the internet, compared to 82 per cent in the United Kingdom, and 78 in the United States.
Internet adoption in China is happening with a stronger emphasis on mobile phones. Nearly half of all smartphones are now sold in China, but only 12 out of every 100 individuals have a fixed broadband subscription.

Read more -

Americans Spend Less On Food, Movies To Pay For Soaring Cell Phone Obsession -

Americans Spend Less On Food, Movies To Pay For Soaring Cell Phone Obsession - 

As America's mania with cell phones as an aspirational status fad hits new records every day, this borderline addiction to "thinner, longer" mobility and a sub-1 year upgrade cycle, is starting to extract its pound of flesh: average cell phone bills that have risen by over 10% in one year (from $1,110 to $1,226), even as total household spending rose by half, or $67. In a word: iNflation. It gets worse. As the WSJ reports, "spending on food away from home fell by $48, apparel spending declined by $141, and entertainment spending dropped by $126." Like a true faux status/gadget junkie, Americans don't care what other discretionary items are cut, even such "American staples" as eating out and watching movies, just so they can keep up with all the other Joneses sporting a brand new iPhone X+1, while everyone's credit card bill just gets larger and larger, and the collective wealth evaporates.

From the WSJ:

More than half of all U.S. cellphone owners carry a device like the iPhone, a shift that has unsettled household budgets across the country. Government data show people have spent more on phone bills over the past four years, even as they have dialed back on dining out, clothes and entertainment—cutbacks that have been keenly felt in the restaurant, apparel and film industries.

The tug of war is only going to get more intense. Wireless carriers are betting they can pull bills even higher by offering faster speeds on expensive new networks and new usage-based data plans. The effort will test the limits of consumer spending as the draw of new technology competes with cellphone owners' more rudimentary needs and desires.

So far, telecom is winning. Labor Department data released Tuesday show spending on phone services rose more than 4% last year, the fastest rate since 2005. During and after the recession, consumers cut back broadly on their spending.


Families with more than one smartphone are already paying much more than the average—sometimes more than $4,000 a year—easily eclipsing what they pay for cable TV and home Internet.
None of this is surprising. The real question is how much more discretionary spending can the US cell phone junkie forego before there is a collectivist yell of revulsion, and the mobile PDA fad is as dad as, well, all those other fads that came before it?

 Melinda Tuers, an accounting clerk at a high school in Redlands, Calif., said she already pays close to $300 a month for her family's four smartphones. She and her husband have cut back on dining out, special events and concerts to make room for the bigger phone bill.

Her household may soon have an even bigger hole to fill. Two of the Tuers's smartphones are on unlimited data plans, meaning she pays the same price no matter how much she surfs the Web. She has taken advantage of that freedom to watch TV shows such as "Covert Affairs" and "Grey's Anatomy" on her phone almost every day.

Ms. Tuers figures that she and her husband would need to scrape together more than $1,000 to pay full price for two new high-end phones or settle for one of Verizon's tiered-data plans, which she fears would cost a lot more given her video habit.
For those who look for iNflation and can't find it, perhaps they should look deeper:

Carriers fully expect people to use more data and pay more for it. "Speed entices more usage," Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said at an investor conference last week, according to a transcript. "The more data they consume, the more they will have to buy."

Some question where the money for that data will come from. Americans spent $116 more a year on telephone services in 2011 than they did in 2007, according to the Labor Department, even as total household expenditures increased by just $67.

Meanwhile, spending on food away from home fell by $48, apparel spending declined by $141, and entertainment spending dropped by $126. The figures aren't adjusted for inflation.

The increase in telephone-services spending masks an even higher rise in cellphone bills, because people have been paying less for landline service.
Some people are very confused:

That trend is evident in the home of 40-year-old Scott Boedy, a neighborhood service representative for a cable company.

Mr. Boedy said he and his wife now pay $200 a month for cellphone service, up by about $50 from early last year, even as they have managed to cut spending on groceries by shopping at discount chain Aldi and on "fun stuff" by going out to dinner and movies less often.

Looking over the family budget on Sunday night, Mr. Boedy said, his wife marveled at how much of it was going to the phone company.

"It stinks," Mr. Boedy said. "I guess it's the cost of modern-day America now."
No Scott, it isn't. It's the consequence of your choices. But as long as one has the ability to do what every other borderline insolvent entity in the world does, namely to "charge it", sweep it under the rug, and hope to never have to repay it, this confusion will continue.

And now excuse us while we swipe our corporate credit card to buy that gold Vertu phone we have had our eyes on for so long: surely it will make everyone else think so highly of us...

Read more -

Wakeboarder’s missing finger found inside an Idaho trout -

Wakeboarder’s missing finger found inside an Idaho trout - 

A human finger found inside a fish at Idaho’s Priest Lake has been traced to a wakeboarder who lost four fingers in an accident more than two months earlier.

Fisherman Nolan Calvin found the finger while he was cleaning the trout he caught Sept. 11. He put it on ice and called the Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff’s office, the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.

Detectives were able to get a fingerprint off the severed digit. They matched it to a fingerprint card for Haans Galassi, 31, of Colbert, Washington, and called him Tuesday morning.

Investigators learned that Mr. Galassi lost four fingers from his left hand in a June 21 accident on the same lake where the fish was caught.

“The sheriff called me and told me he had a strange story to tell me,” Mr. Galassi said Tuesday. “He said that a fisherman was out on Priest Lake, and I pretty much knew exactly what he was going to say at that point.

“I was like: Let me guess, they found my fingers in a fish.”

The fish was caught about eight miles (13 kilometres) from where Mr. Galassi had lost his fingers, the sheriff’s office said.

Mr. Galassi had been on a camping trip at the scenic lake when he decided to go wakeboarding. He told the newspaper his hand got caught in a loop in the towline, and he couldn’t pull it out before the line tightened behind the boat that was going to pull him.

When he finally broke free, he didn’t feel much pain. But then he looked at his hand.

“I pulled my hand out of the water and it had pretty much lopped off all four fingers,” he said. “It was a lot of flesh and bone, not a lot of blood.”

He was taken by helicopter to a Spokane hospital.

Mr. Galassi has been undergoing therapy twice a week for his injured hand. He still has half of his index and pointer fingers on that hand.

“I can still grip things and grab and hold the steering wheel with it,” Mr. Galassi said.

The sheriff’s office offered to return the finger, but Mr. Galassi declined.

“I’m like, ‘uhhh, I’m good,“’ he said.

Detective Sgt. Gary Johnston of the sheriff’s office said the agency will keep the digit for a few weeks in case Mr. Galassi changes his mind.

“There’s still three more, too,” Mr. Johnston said. “It’s hard to say where those are going to end up.”


Drummer dies on stage mid-song, band plays on... -

Drummer dies on stage mid-song, band plays on... - 

Brad Parker, the drummer of an American disco group suffered a heart attack and died mid-show during a performance in Brazil over the weekend.

The drummer of an American disco group suffered a heart attack and died mid-show during a performance in Brazil over the weekend
Brad Parker was performing with his band Generation Esmeralda in Uba, some four hours north of Rio, on Saturday night when he suddenly slumped over his kit and then tumbled off his stool.
Video cameras caught the horrifying moment, as the 59-year-old's bandmates initially kept playing, apparently unaware that Parker was in trouble.
Roadies and medics eventually rushed the stage and Parker was taken to a hospital, where he died on Sunday, a producer for the group told local media.
"Doctors performed all the emergency procedures but unfortunately there was no solution," Sergio Lopes said, according to Agence-France Presse.

Parker's body was flown back to California earlier this week.
Generation Esmeralda is a disco act formed by former members of Santa Esmeralda, which had its heyday in the 1970's.
“To Dispell All rumors and hopefully re-focus intentions to the family I am deeply saddened to report that during our concert in Uba Brazil last night, we lost our friend and brother Brad Parker to a fatal heart attack. Please exuse my feeble attempt to express our sadness over this tragic event. There simply are no words,” the band’s singer Jimmy Goings wrote in a statement on its Facebook page.
“He died doing what he loved best,” Goings wrote.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/disco-drummer-brad-parker-suffers-fatal-heart-attack-stage-concert-brazil-article-1.1168528

Feds bust women smuggling cocaine inside their towering hair weaves... -

Feds bust women smuggling cocaine inside their towering hair weaves... - 

The suspiciously towering hairdos of two women who had just flown into New York City from South America prompted federal agents to conduct searches that revealed each traveler was carrying more than two pounds of cocaine sewn into her weave, according to court records.

After arriving early Sunday morning on a flight from Guyana to John F. Kennedy International Airport, the women appeared fidgety and extremely nervous during routine questioning by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

In a U.S. District Court affidavit, a federal agent noted that Kiana Howell "appeared as if she was going to faint" and "her carotid artery was pumping." During a pat-down, an investigator felt "an unusual bulge beneath the defendant’s hair weave." When asked about the bulge, Howell claimed that it was "part of her hair weave."

When asked to remove the weave, Howell said that she could not "because she had a package that was sewn into it." Howell stated that her boyfriend in Guyana "told her to bring that package under her hair weave to the United States for him."

While claiming that she did not know the package's contents, Howell admitted, "it was not a good thing."

Howell's weave was subsequently dismantled at a medical facility, where agents removed a rounded package wrapped with clear plastic. Inside was nearly a kilo of cocaine. After Howell's arrest, she told investigators she had been promised $7500 to "smuggle the package under her hair weave."

The second traveler, Makeeba Graham, "had an unusually high and bulky hair style," according to an affidavit sworn by Department of Homeland Security Agent Jeffrey Fidler. After a CBP agent "felt a hard object on the defendant’s head," Graham, a 33-year-old Harlem resident, was "asked to remove her hair weave."

After Graham claimed that she could not remove the weave because it "was sewn to her natural hair," she was transported to a medical facility where the weave was partially dismantled. Inside, agents discovered a rounded package containing more than a kilo of cocaine.


Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested -

Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested - 

The New York Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested — and even hired “coaches” to train staffers how to be more persuasive, a bombshell lawsuit charged yesterday.

The federally funded nonprofit used a “quota” system, and leaned heavily on the next of kin to sign consent forms when patients were not registered as organ donors, the suit charged.

“They’re playing God,” said plaintiff Patrick McMahon, 50, an Air Force combat veteran and nurse practitioner who claims he was fired as a transplant coordinator after just four months for protesting the practice.

The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, cited four examples of improper organ harvesting.

In September 2011, a 19-year-old man injured in a car wreck was admitted to Nassau University Medical Center. He was still trying to breathe and showed signs of brain activity, the suit charged.

But doctors declared him brain dead under pressure from donor-network officials, including Director Michael Goldstein, who allegedly said during a conference call: “This kid is dead, you got that?” the suit charged.

The patient’s family consented to have the organs harvested.

“I have been in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan in combat. I worked on massive brain injuries, trauma, gunshot wounds, IEDs. I have seen worse cases than this and the victims recover,” McMahon told The Post.

That same month, a woman was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx still showing signs of life, the suit said.

She had a kidney transplant earlier in life and network officials used that to pressure her daughter into giving consent.

“They say to her, ‘If you give us permission we will use your mother’s organs and we will help many, many people who need them,’ ” he said.

McMahon’s objections were ignored by a neurologist, who declared her brain dead — and her organs were harvested, according to the suit. McMahon even claims he tried to get a second opinion.

A month later, a man was admitted to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, again showing brain activity, the suit said. McMahon claims his protests were again blown off by hospital and donor-network staff, and the man was declared brain dead and his organs harvested.

In November 2011, a woman admitted to Staten Island University Hospital after a drug overdose was declared brain dead and her organs were about to be harvested when McMahon noticed that she was being given “a paralyzing anesthetic” because her body was still jerking.

When he objected, another network employee told hospital personnel McMahon was “an untrained troublemaker with a history of raising frivolous issues and questions,” the suit charged.

“I had a reputation for raising a red flag,” he said.

In order to harvest organs, the network needs a “Note” — an official declaration by a hospital that a patient is brain dead — and consent from next of kin.

The network hired marketing and sales professionals to “coach” workers to tailor their pitches based on the family’s demographics, said the suit, filed by McMahon’s lawyers Michael Borrelli, Alexander Coleman and Bennitta Joseph.

The suit said that on Nov. 4, McMahon told Helen Irving, president and CEO of the network, “one in five patients declared brain dead show signs of brain activity at the time the Note is issued.”

Irving, the suit said, replied: “This is how things are done.”


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Student Suffers Alcohol Poisoning After Fraternity Hands Out Alcoholic Enemas... -

Student Suffers Alcohol Poisoning After Fraternity Hands Out Alcoholic Enemas... - 

A student from the University of Tennessee was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after he was subjected to an alcoholic enema.

According to The Tennessean, Alexander Broughton, 20, was dropped off at the university’s medical center at around 1:30 a.m. Saturday unresponsive with a blood alcohol level greater than 0.4, which is poisonous and could be deadly.

Broughton was at a party at the Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity house when several members handed out rubber tubing to give each other alcoholic enemas, the paper reports.

Knoxville police say that an alcoholic enema increases and speeds up the effect of alcohol on the body.

Police also told The Tennessean that investigators found two other fraternity members passed out when they arrived at the house.

Police aren’t sure if the incident with Broughton was a result of hazing, or if he decided to undergo the enema willingly, but they are looking into both possibilities.

The university is now debating on the future of Phi Kappa Alpha. The fraternity is suspended for 30 days, and may be permanently banned, depending on the investigation.

Broughton has since been discharged from the medical center.

Read more -

BPA From Plastics, Food Packaging, Linked To Obesity -

BPA From Plastics, Food Packaging, Linked To Obesity - 

Since the 1960s, manufacturers have widely used the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastics and food packaging. A study by researchers from New York University, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at a sample of nearly 3,000 children and teens across the country and found a “significant” link between the amount of BPA in their urine and the prevalence of obesity.

The researchers speculate on a possible underlying mechanism, alluding to other studies that have shown that the chemical may disrupt mechanisms of human metabolism in ways that increase body mass. They also note studies that have revealed associations between urinary levels of BPA and incidences of adult diabetes, cardiovascular disease and abnormal liver function.

The vast majority of BPA in our bodies comes from ingestion of contaminated food and water. The compound is often used as an internal barrier in food packaging. When heated or washed, plastics containing BPA can break down and release the chemical into the food or liquid they hold. As a result, roughly 93 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of BPA in their urine.

Read more -

Just One in Fifty victims of ‘surgical’ US strikes in Pakistan are known militants -

Just One in Fifty victims of ‘surgical’ US strikes in Pakistan are known militants - 

Late in the evening on 6 June this year an unmanned drone was flying high above the Pakistani village of Datta Khel in north Waziristan.

The buzz emitted by America's fleet of Predators and Reapers are a familiar sound for the inhabitants of the dusty hamlet, which lies next to a riverbed close to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and is a stronghold for the Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

As the drone circled it let off the first of its Hellfire missiles, slamming into a small house and reducing it to rubble. When residents rushed to the scene of the attack to see if they could help they were struck again.

According to reports at the time, three local rescuers were killed by a second missile whilst a further strike killed another three people five minutes later. In all, somewhere between 17 and 24 people are thought to have been killed in the attack.

The Datta Khel assault was just one of the more than 345 strikes that have hit Pakistan's tribal areas in the past eight years but it reveals an increasingly common tactic now being used in America's covert drone wars – the "double-tap" strike.

More and more, while the overall frequency of strikes has fallen since a Nato attack in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and strained US-Pakistan relations, initial strikes are now followed up by further missiles in a tactic which lawyers and campaigners say is killing an even greater number of civilians. The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that rescuers often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack.

"These strikes are becoming much more common," Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents victims of drone strikes, told The Independent. "In the past it used to be a one-off, every now and then. Now almost every other attack is a double tap. There is no justification for it."

The expansive use of "double-tap" drone strikes is just one of a number of more recent phenomena in the covert war run by the US against violent Islamists that has been documented in a new report by legal experts at Stanford and New York University.

The product of nine months' research and more than 130 interviews, it is one of the most exhaustive attempts by academics to understand – and evaluate – Washington's drone wars. And their verdict is damning.

Throughout the 146-page report, which is released today, the authors condemn drone strikes for their ineffectiveness.

Despite assurances the attacks are "surgical", researchers found barely 2 per cent of their victims are known militants and that the idea that the strikes make the world a safer place for the US is "ambiguous at best."

Researchers added that traumatic effects of the strikes go far beyond fatalities, psychologically battering a population which lives under the daily threat of annihilation from the air, and ruining the local economy.

They conclude by calling on Washington completely to reassess its drone-strike programme or risk alienating the very people they hope to win over. They also observe that the strikes set worrying precedents for extra-judicial killings at a time when many nations are building up their unmanned weapon arsenals.

The Obama administration is unlikely to heed their demands given the zeal with which America has expanded its drone programme over the past two years. Reapers and Predators are now active over the skies of Somalia and Yemen as well as Pakistan and – less covertly – Afghanistan.

But campaigners like Mr Akbar hope the Stanford/New York University research may start to make an impact on the American public.

"It's an important piece of work," he said. "No one in the US wants to listen to a Pakistani lawyer saying these strikes are wrong. But they might listen to American academics."

Reprieve, the charity which is trying to challenge drone strikes in the British, Pakistani and American courts, said the report detailed how the fallout from the extra-judicial strikes must be measured in terms of more than deaths and injuries alone.

"An entire region is being terrorised by the constant threat of death from the skies," said Reprieve's director, Clive Stafford Smith.

"Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meeting or anything that involves gathering in groups."

Some of the most harrowing personal testimonies involve those who have witnessed "double-tap" strikes.

Researchers said people in Waziristan – the tribal area where most of the strikes take place – are "acutely aware of reports of the practice of follow-up strikes", and explained that the secondary strikes have discouraged ordinary civilians from coming to one another's rescue.

One interviewee, describing a strike on his in-laws' home, said a follow-up missile killed would-be rescuers. "Other people came to check what had happened; they were looking for the children in the beds and then a second drone strike hit those people."

A father of four, who lost one of his legs in a drone strike, admitted: "We and other people are so scared of drone attacks now that when there is a drone strike, for two or three hours nobody goes close to [the location of the strike]. We don't know who [the victims] are, whether they are young or old, because we try to be safe."


Man Crushed by Road Flattening Truck On Orders of Chinese Officials -

Man Crushed by Road Flattening Truck On Orders of Chinese Officials - 

A villager in northern China attempting to resist a forced government relocation by remaining on his land was brutally crushed to death by a road flattening truck on the orders of a Chinese government official.

The story, which was censored in China’s state controlled media, has caused outrage amongst users of Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, given it’s horrifying similarity to what happened to student protesters who were crushed to death by tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
The victim, He Zhi Hua, refused to accept a paltry payment from the government which has forcefully evicted Changsha Village locals in order to re-appropriate their land for commercial use.
When Hua began a protest by lying down on the spot through which construction vehicles had to pass, the local Vice Mayor ordered workers for the state-owned company to murder Hua by driving over his body with a huge road-flattening truck.
Shocking images show Hua’s pulverized brains and his mangled body in the aftermath of the state-sponsored execution.
Fearing unrest if the story got out to a wider audience, the government sent in 200 men to keep angry locals at bay and hide the remains of the body. The man’s family was offered a sum of money in order to keep quiet about the incident.


Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients -

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients - 

Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don’t like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug’s true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug’s life, and even then they don’t give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion.

In their 40 years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works ad hoc, from sales reps, colleagues and journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies – often undisclosed – and the journals are, too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are owned outright by one drug company. Aside from all this, for several of the most important and enduring problems in medicine, we have no idea what the best treatment is, because it’s not in anyone’s financial interest to conduct any trials at all.


Facebook flooded with complaints after messages 'bug' - bug 'reveals private messages'... -

Facebook flooded with complaints after messages 'bug' -  bug 'reveals private messages'... - 

Facebook has denied claims that a software bug caused private messages dating from 2009 to be displayed on profiles overnight, insisting that the messages were left in public originally, but that members have since become more privacy-conscious.

The social network was deluged with complaints from members who claimed their old private messages have been re-published publicly on the social network.
Facebook admitted old messages were reappearing on profiles but quickly denied that there had been a privacy breach, as the messages were old public messages.
It appeared that members were shown old public "wall" postings that they wrongly believed were private messages. Observers said the outcry showed how the way people use Facebook has changed, as they have become more aware of their privacy online.
Facebook’s director of engineering, Andrew Bosworth, aimed to calm the panic.
"In case there was any concern, these are just wall posts and not personal messages… people just forget how we used to use the wall!," he said.

Read more -