Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Workers steal 33% of all goods that go missing at retailers: survey -

Workers steal 33% of all goods that go missing at retailers: survey - 

Sticky-fingered employees pose a much bigger threat to retailers than their employers might have believed, according to a new survey from PWC and Retail Council of Canada.

While the overall amount of theft has not changed significantly in 2012 compared with 2008, a whopping third of all merchandise that is unaccounted for because of theft or an inventory or supply chain error — a figure known in the retail industry as “shrink rate” — happens as a result of employees who steal. That compared with an estimated 19% in 2008.

“Retailers’ level of awareness has improved,” said Paul Beaumont, Canadian leader of retail consulting at PWC. “In years gone by, external theft may have been assumed to represent a certain percentage of total shrink, and I think there may have been some internal theft that was blended into that, so there was not the level of visibility that there is today.”

External theft, which made up the majority of shrink rate in 2008 at 65%, appears to be less of a problem now than it was in the past, estimated as the cause of missing retail goods in 43% of all cases in 2012. Paperwork errors account for 20% of retail shrink, compared with 16% in 2008.

Retailers have more robust internal investigation departments today and far more evolved technologies to track shrink rate than existed before. The latest findings could make retailers more aware of the depth of threat they are facing when it comes to employee theft, Mr. Beaumont said, and shape their theft prevention measures and employee screening procedures accordingly.

Read more -

Oklahoma man on motorcycle collides with bull on rural road -

Oklahoma man on motorcycle collides with bull on rural road - 

Authorities say a 20-year-old Oklahoma man is in critical condition after his motorcycle struck a black bull that was standing on a rural roadway.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the collision happened Tuesday night in rural Caddo County.
A preliminary report says Michael Schimmel of Lookeba was driving his 2005 Honda Rebel motorcycle when he collided with a black bull that was standing in the road. Authorities say Schimmel was thrown about 75 feet from his motorcycle after the collision.
Authorities say Schimmel was taken to OU Medical Center with head and internal injuries. He is listed in critical condition.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/31/oklahoma-man-on-motorcycle-collides-with-bull-on-rural-road/?test=latestnews

Aspartame is linked to leukemia and lymphoma in new landmark study on humans -

Aspartame is linked to leukemia and lymphoma in new landmark study on humans - 

As few as one diet soda daily may increase the risk for leukemia in men and women, and for multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in men, according to new results from the longest-ever running study on aspartame as a carcinogen in humans. Importantly, this is the most comprehensive, long-term study ever completed on this topic, so it holds more weight than other past studies which appeared to show no risk. And disturbingly, it may also open the door for further similar findings on other cancers in future studies.

The most thorough study yet on aspartame – Over two million person-years
For this study, researchers prospectively analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study for a 22-year period. A total of 77,218 women and 47,810 men were included in the analysis, for a total of 2,278,396 person-years of data. Apart from sheer size, what makes this study superior to other past studies is the thoroughness with which aspartame intake was assessed. Every two years, participants were given a detailed dietary questionnaire, and their diets were reassessed every four years. Previous studies which found no link to cancer only ever assessed participants’ aspartame intake at one point in time, which could be a major weakness affecting their accuracy.
One diet soda a day increases leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas
The combined results of this new study showed that just one 12-fl oz. can (355 ml) of diet soda daily leads to:
- 42 percent higher leukemia risk in men and women (pooled analysis)
- 102 percent higher multiple myeloma risk (in men only)
- 31 percent higher non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk (in men only)
These results were based on multi-variable relative risk models, all in comparison to participants who drank no diet soda. It is unknown why only men drinking higher amounts of diet soda showed increased risk for multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Note that diet soda is the largest dietary source of aspartame (by far) in the U.S. Every year, Americans consume about 5,250 tons of aspartame in total, of which about 86 percent (4,500 tons) is found in diet sodas.

Confirmation of previous high quality research on animals
This new study shows the importance of the quality of research. Most of the past studies showing no link between aspartame and cancer have been criticized for being too short in duration and too inaccurate in assessing long-term aspartame intake. This new study solves both of those issues. The fact that it also shows a positive link to cancer should come as no surprise, because a previous best-in-class research study done on animals (900 rats over their entire natural lifetimes) showed strikingly similar results back in 2006: aspartame significantly increased the risk for lymphomas and leukemia in both males and females. More worrying is the follow on mega-study, which started aspartame exposure of the rats at the fetal stage. Increased lymphoma and leukemia risks were confirmed, and this time the female rats also showed significantly increased breast (mammary) cancer rates. This raises a critical question: will future, high-quality studies uncover links to the other cancers in which aspartame has been implicated (brain, breast, prostate, etc.)?
There is now more reason than ever to completely avoid aspartame in our daily diet. For those who are tempted to go back to sugary sodas as a “healthy” alternative, this study had a surprise finding: men consuming one or more sugar-sweetened sodas daily saw a 66 percent increase in non-Hodgkin lymphoma (even worse than for diet soda). Perhaps the healthiest soda is no soda at all.

Sources for this article include:


18 Startling Quotes About The Incredible Destruction Caused By Hurricane Sandy -

18 Startling Quotes About The Incredible Destruction Caused By Hurricane Sandy - 

It is hard to put into words the absolute devastation that we are seeing along many areas of the east coast right now.  Boats have been washed ashore, homes have been razed, some coastal roads have been essentially destroyed, and large numbers of people are still trapped in their homes by flood waters.  It is being reported that more than 50 people are dead and more than 8 million people along the east coast have lost power. 

Those without power might not get it back for a week or more.  In New York City, an all-time record storm surge of almost 14 feet caused incredible destruction.  It is going to take months for New York City to recover, and along the Jersey coast things are even worse.  Hurricane Sandy really did turn out to be “the worst case scenario” for much of the eastern seaboard.  At this point more than 15,000 flights have been cancelled, and nobody knows when subway service in New York City is going to be restored.  More than 4 million people a day use that subway system, and right now many of the most important tunnels are absolutely flooded with water. Sadly, this crisis is far from over.  The storm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy has moved inland over Pennsylvania where it continues to do a tremendous amount of damage.  The full extent of the destruction caused by this storm will probably not be known for weeks.
We have truly seen some unprecedented things during this storm.  For example, a 168 foot long tanker was driven ashore on Staten Island.  Right now the tanker is sitting on Front Street.
In the beachfront Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, a massive fire broke out and burned just about everything that was not already flooded.  The blaze destroyed close to 100 homes, and by the end of the fire more than 190 firefighters were battling it.
Some areas in the West Virginia mountains have already had up to 3 feet of snow, and yet it just continues to fall.  When all of that snow starts to melt in a few days, tremendous flooding is anticipated.
The northeast has never seen a storm quite like this, and the ripple effects are going to be felt for years to come.
The following are 18 startling quotes about the incredible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy…

#1 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
“The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we’ve ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point.”
#2 MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota
“The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots. As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.”
#3 Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Dawn Zimmer
“The Hudson River came in and filled half of Hoboken like a bathtub”
#4 Little Ferry resident Leo Quigley
“I looked out and the next thing you know, the water just came up through the grates. It came up so quickly you couldn’t do anything about it. If you wanted to move your car to higher ground you didn’t have enough time”
#5 New Jersey resident Montgomery Dahm
“I mean, there’s cars that are just completely underwater in some of the places I would never believe that there would be water.”
#6 Mobile home park resident Juan Allen
“I watched a tree crush a guy’s house like a wet sponge.”
#7 Angela Valenta, mother of 9-year-old Angelo Valenta
“He kept saying, ‘Am I going to die?’”
#8 U.S. Representative Bob Turner
“I, along with many other Breezy Point residents, lost our homes last night and I am grateful that my family and I are safe after this destructive storm. I hope you will join me in lending a hand to those who were less fortunate and keep everyone impacted by this storm in your thoughts and prayers.”
#9 Long Branch, New Jersey resident David Arnold
“The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad.”
#10 New York resident William Yaeck
“I am looking outside of my sixth-floor apartment, and I see that a new lake has formed in the parking lot adjacent (to) my building”
#11 Motel owner Peter Sandomeno
“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean”
#12 West Virginia meteorologist Reed Timmer
“It’s 3 feet of heavy snow. It’s like concrete”
#13 Maryland State Police dispatcher Bill Wiltson
“It’s like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs up here”
#14 Con Edison spokeswoman Sara Banda
“This is the largest storm-related outage in history”
#15 John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Con Edison
“This will be one for the record books”
#16 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
“Clearly the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous”
#17 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
“You want to talk about a situation that gets old very quickly. You are sitting in a house with no power and you can’t open the refrigerator”
#18 National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina
“It was an extremely devastating and destructive storm, hopefully one that people will only see once in their lifetime”
So what will this storm ultimately cost the U.S. economy?  Well, Fox News is reporting that the total cost could reach 45 billion dollars.  Others estimate that the economic toll may be even higher than that.
But one thing is for certain – at a time when layoffs are already surging, this is definitely not going to help.  The U.S. economy is showing lots of signs of slowing down again, and this storm may have just nudged us even farther in that direction.
Hopefully we will have some time to recover before the next major crisis strikes, but with the election coming up early next week that does not seem too likely.


Steve Jobs wished he was alive today - his new yacht is revealed, christened 'Venus' - seven 27-inch iMacs on board -

Steve Jobs wished he was alive today - his new yacht is revealed, christened 'Venus' - seven 27-inch iMacs on board - 

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard on Sunday and christened

Steve Jobs' yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard on Sunday, where the unusual boat designed by Jobs and famed minimalist designer Philippe Starck was christened "Venus," after the Roman goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory.
According to Dutch website OneMoreThing, the finished ship was launched at shipbuilder Koninklijke De Vries in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands. Jobs' widow Laurene and three of their children, Reed, Erin and Eve, were at the ceremony.
The Jobs family gave each of the members of the shipbuilding staff an elegant thank-you note, along with a token gift of their appreciation — an iPod Shuffle with the name of the ship inscribed on the back.
The yacht appears to be as it was described in the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. In the book, Isaacson wrote about Jobs showing him models and architectural drawings of the yacht, which Isaacson described as "sleek and minimalist."

According to the report, the enormous yacht is between 230 and 260 feet long, and appears to be as it was described in the Jobs biography — it's an extraordinary vessel with teak decks and large panes of ceiling-to-floor glass throughout. The boat is said to have seven 27-inch iMacs on board, and a photo showed six of them lined up on a single counter (see gallery below — by the way, you can see 7 iMacs on the bridge in exterior photos of the ship).


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Elderly Woman Dies After Wheelchair Rolls Down Hill Into Ditch During Nursing Home Fire Drill... -

Elderly Woman Dies After Wheelchair Rolls Down Hill Into Ditch During Nursing Home Fire Drill... - 

A 94-year-old Alabama woman died after being injured when her wheelchair rolled down a hill and landed in a ditch full of water.

A relative says Elizabeth Street died at a hospital in Decatur on Saturday, three days after she was hurt.

The woman’s son-in-law, Wallace Everett, says Street developed pneumonia after the accident, but a cause of death hasn’t been determined. He says she also suffered from congestive heart failure.

Decatur Fire Chief Darwin Clark tells The Decatur Daily the accident occurred during a fire drill at Country Cottage Assisted Living.

Authorities received a call about a woman falling into a ditch full of water. A caregiver told emergency workers she went outside to discover the woman’s wheelchair had rolled down a hill and into the ditch.

“Our objective now is to better understand what happened, why this happened and what can be done to prevent it in the future,” Everett told The Decatur Daily.

Street was placed in the Country Cottage Assisted Living home after breaking her hip in October 2011.


5-foot-long rat snake found in Texas jail -

5-foot-long rat snake found in Texas jail - 

An unwelcome visitor at a North Texas jail has been freed by a reptile-friendly deputy.
Cpl. Mike McNicholas of the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office helped remove the 5-foot-long rat snake from some overhead pipe space.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that an inmate at the county's Greenbay jail facility had spotted the snake above his cell.
McNicholas blamed the nonvenomous snake for the inside job, saying the creature probably got into the jail through exhaust fans or air conditioning ducts. He thinks the snake couldn't get back out and would have starved if not helped.
McNicholas carried the snake to a vacant lot near the jail and freed the critter near a creek.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/30/5-foot-long-rat-snake-found-in-texas-jail/?test=latestnews

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Police inundated by thousands of squabbles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social network sites -

Police inundated by thousands of squabbles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social network sites - 

Officers say they are inundated with complaints from internet users complaining about online abuse being directed at them.
But while most disputes are brushed off by telling victims to ignore or delete their tormentors from their social media circles, some are so serious they end up in court.
According to The Mail on Sunday at least three arrests are being made every day for sending offensive messages via phones and computers, including harassment by ex-partners and hoax threats,
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, told the newspaper: "We have concerns that we don't have the resources to police everything that's said on the internet.
"We can't have people getting upset in a one-off situation and involving the police. I do think this could be the thin end of the wedge.

"If we show too much willingness and get involved in every squabble, we're setting ourselves up to keep doing this because it will be expected."
He said it was right for police to investigate cases involving homophobia or racism, but added: "We shouldn't be dealing with individual squabbles."
One officer said he dealt with at least one internet squabble a day including fake Facebook accounts, online arguments, the spreading of malicious rumours and threats.
An officer from the West Midlands told how he had advised someone complaining of Facebook abuse to "unfriend" their abuser, only to be told: "But I won't have as many friends."

Read more -

Got Breast Milk? Texas Mom Breaks Record - Donates amazing 86 GALLONS of Breast Milk -

Got Breast Milk? Texas Mom Breaks Record - Donates amazing 86 GALLONS of Breast Milk - 

A northern Texas mom made her way into the Guinness Book of World Records by donating more breast milk than any other woman has — nearly 87 gallons of it.

Alicia Richman, of Granbury, had a son last March and found she was producing more milk than she needed to feed him, according to a press release.

“I was so blessed to have more milk than I needed,” she recalled. “I pumped at work, on vacations, in the car. And I never had to buy formula.”

Read more -

Friday, 26 October 2012

IMF says measures taken to protect Canada's economy should be model for countries trying to fix their financial systems -

IMF says measures taken to protect Canada's economy should be model for countries trying to fix their financial systems - 

The head of the International Monetary Fund says measures taken to protect Canada's economy should be a model for countries trying to fix their financial systems.

Christine Lagarde said Thursday that Canada has been a leader in creating policies intended to rein in the build-up of household debt.

"Abroad, Canada is identified by its values of co-ordination and consensus building, which have given your country influence beyond its years," she said.

"Building a safe and stable financial system is in the best interests of the global community, but it also serves the self-interest of nations," she added.

Lagarde made the comments at a dinner held in Toronto by the Canada International Council — an organization created to promote Canada's position on the world market.

She pointed to the decision by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to boost down payments on new mortgages for homebuyers as an example of restraint that others should follow.

"All of these new reforms comprise the tools so far that will help us shape the future financial system," she said.

"We must shape the system so it cannot again hold us ransom to the consequences of its failings."

Lagarde's speech focused on global financial reforms that while "heading in the right direction," still haven't delivered the safer financial system they were designed to create.

"Some financial systems are still under distress and crisis-fighting efforts are inadvertently impeding reforms," Legarde said.

She singled out Basel III requirements as one of the financial reforms that had "generous implementation timetables," that have been in development since 2010.

Under the proposed Basel III rules, a bank's required capital levels must meet certain requirements, amongst other standards. The intention of the rules is to set a standard on key measures of a bank's health and its ability to endure future economic downturns.

"There are many vested interests working against change and pushback is intensifying," Legarde said.

"It is interesting how some banks say the new regulations will be too burdensome, but then spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to kill them."

Canadian banks have been proactive in reinforcing their balance sheets to meet the Basel III requirements ahead of schedule, and are widely considered a model for international banks because they weathered the global recession better than others.

"Most countries have committed to adopt some or all of the new regulations, and some have moved further ahead with their own national policies," Lagarde said.

"The challenge now is to proceed to the end of the reform path all together."


These Are the 25 Worst Passwords of 2012 -

These Are the 25 Worst Passwords of 2012 - 

If any of your passwords are on this list, then shame on you — and go change them now.

SplashData, which makes password-management applications, has released its annual Worst Passwords list compiled from common passwords that are posted by hackers. The top three — “password,” “123456″ and “12345678″ — have not changed since last year. New ones include “jesus,” “ninja,” “mustang,” “password1″ and “welcome.” Other passwords have moved up and down on the list.

The most surprising addition is probably “welcome.”

“That means people are not even changing default passwords,” SplashData CEO Morgan Slain tells TIME Tech. “It doesn’t take that much time to make a new password.”

You should have different passwords for all your accounts. To make it easier to remember them all, Slain suggests thinking about passwords as “passphrases.” For instance, use a phrase like “dog eats bone” and add underscores, dashes, hyphens and other punctuation marks to satisfy the special-character requirement: “dog_eats_bone!”

(MORE: Two-Minute Video: How to Create Strong Online Passwords)

Here’s the full list:

1. password
2, 123456
3. 12345678
4. abc123
5. qwerty
6. monkey
7. letmein
8. dragon
9. 111111
10. baseball
11. iloveyou
12. trustno1
13. 1234567
14. sunshine
15. master
16. 123123
17. welcome
18. shadow
19. ashley
20. football
21. jesus
22. michael
23. ninja
24. mustang
25. password1

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Cheaters choose schoolgirl and cop costumes for Halloween -

Cheaters choose schoolgirl and cop costumes for Halloween - 

Watch what you wear at this year's Halloween party. You could be outing yourself as a cheater.

AshleyMadison.com, the infamous website for adulterers looking to hook up, polled its members to find out what they'll be wearing this year.

Among the women on the site looking for someone on the side, the most popular choices are sexy schoolgirl and raunchy teacher costumes - nearly 35% chose one or the other. Also on the list, naughty nurse or doctor outfits, and fairy tale getups.

Among the men, nearly 60% said they'll dress up as cops and soldiers. Others said they'll be cowboys or doctors.

"Halloween is the one time of year when people can impersonate characters or personalities they wouldn't normally attempt," AshleyMadison.com founder Noel Biderman said in a release. "Men can dress up as their favourite superhero or act like the tough guy they secretly want to be, while women often choose sexually adventurous costumes because they don't get to portray that in their everyday life."

The survey polled 4,800 of the site's 1.2 million members in Canada.

Read more -

Caught! 220 MPH in 85 MPH Zone on new Texas highway -

Caught! 220 MPH in 85 MPH Zone on new Texas highway - 


Well that was fast.
A Cadillac CTS-V has become the first car to break 200 mph on Texas’ new 85 mph highway.
And the cops approve!
But just this one time.
Hennessey Performance, builders of some of the fastest custom cars on the planet, including the 275 mph Venom GT, offered up one of their 1,200 hp Cadillac coupes to test the cameras fitted to the automated toll system on the brand new SH-130 toll road, which boasts the highest speed limit in the nation at 85 mph.
Read: Hennessey planning record run for 275 mph Venom GT supercar
The run took place on Tuesday, the day before the highway opened to the public, on a closed stretch of the road south of Lockhart with safety crews ready at hand.
With a professional test driver behind the wheel, the car passed by the cameras at over 180 mph which posed no problem for them getting a photo of its license plate.
Although it doesn’t issue speeding tickets, toll jumpers who don’t have the proper tag affixed to their car get a violation sent to them in the mail. Apparently it’s not just the law you can’t outrun, but also the DOT.
Of course, with all of that open road available the driver wasn’t about to slam on the brakes. Hennessey tells FoxNews.com that his man kept his foot in it for a full 1.75 miles, hitting a top speed of 220.5 mph. At that rate, he could’ve driven the entire length of the highway from San Antonio to Austin in just about 12 minutes.
Just don't try that on the way home, you're being watched.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/25/car-hits-220-mph-on-new-texas-highway/?intcmp=features

San Francisco’s New ‘Tata Massage’ Parlor Offers Face Slapping For $350... -

San Francisco’s New ‘Tata Massage’ Parlor Offers Face Slapping For $350... - 

A sign announcing the planned opening of Tata Massage. (credit: Rochelle Del Rosario)

It’s the first massage business of its kind this side of the Pacific and it landed here in San Francisco. If it’s rest and relaxation you seek, however, prepare for a slap in the face.

No, really.

Another massage parlor in San Francisco? Ho-hum, you might think. But if you take a look at the ad for the brand new Tata Massage parlor, you might be surprised to see what it’s offering: face-slapping.

“Of course the first reaction is, ‘What? Face slapping?’” said Mawin Sombuntham, who runs the parlor with his wife, Tata.

Of course it is. That’s why the new massage parlor is also happy to advertise its license by the state of California to slap you.

To truly understand the technique you have to have firsthand experience, so CBS 5 brought along one of its interns, Allie, to take on the new service.

So what is it?

“It’s from ancient Thai wisdom that’s been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s a secret technique,” said Sombuntham.

Tata, who is the masseuse at the parlor, has been face-slapping for two years. She danced to music and slapped away at Allie as the massage began.

“Circulation is part of it, but it’s optimizing the fat and tissues and muscles that are in the face,” said Sombuntham.

Tata and her husband believe this will catch on as a non-invasive, chemical-free treatment. It will cost $350 for each session. They do half the face at a time, and they say the results last six months.

“We don’t get rid of wrinkles actually, we only lessen the wrinkles,” said Sombuntham.

Of course, Allie is only 21 and has more guts than wrinkles.

“There was no stinging at all. It felt like a really strong pressure on my face and then other times it was actually quite gentle,” she said.

They told her they lifted her left eyebrow, slimmed her left cheek, and reduced the line around her mouth.

Next for the folks at Tata is “butt punching,” which claims to firm and shape your rear.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

School District Bans Halloween Celebrations, Opts For 'Fall Festival' Instead... -

School District Bans Halloween Celebrations, Opts For 'Fall Festival' Instead... - 

Halloween is a little more than one week away, but students at Schuylkill Elementary School aren’t planning their classroom costumes.

That’s because there won’t be a Halloween celebration here, or at the other two elementary schools in the Phoenixville School District.

District officials sent a letter home to parents on Monday, reminding them of the decision they said was sent out in the “Welcome Back” letter in August.

Superintendent Alan Fegley said there were a number of factors considered when making the decision, including that the elementary schools were all doing different celebrations and the school wanted to keep them consistent, that costume safety was becoming a real concern, and that students who couldn’t afford costumes were feeling left out.

District officials told Eyewitness News that the absentee rate more than doubled — from 4% to 9% — on Halloween.

The kids may not be celebrating Halloween, but that doesn’t mean they’re having just a normal day at school. Fegley says they will have a fall festival, complete with parties for the kids.

Alison Cirone is helping plan her daughter’s second grade fall party. “I know we were told no scarecrows, no witches, no ghosts,” said Cirone.

Cirone is in charge of snacks and paper products.

“There were quite a few parents that were upset, and others were neutral,” said Cirone. “But I think some of us just wonder, there’s no more birthday celebrations, so if there’s not Halloween, what could there possibly be next that we won’t be celebrating in school?”

Donna Sisti’s children used to go to one of the public elementary schools. “It’s a fun activity for the kids that they look forward to every year. I don’t see why it should change.”

Eyewitness News talked to several parents off-camera who said they didn’t mind the decision.

In Monday’s letter, the superintendent also said, “We understand that not everyone will agree with this decision. We hope you will realize it was made with the best interests of ALL our students in mind.”


US Mint says that sales of Silver in year-to-date exceed those of Gold more than fifty-fold in terms of weight -

US Mint says that sales of Silver in year-to-date exceed those of Gold more than fifty-fold in terms of weight - 

Figures released by the US Mint on Friday indicate that sales of silver in year-to-date exceed those of gold more than fifty-fold in terms of weight.

According to the latest data released on Monday the US Mint sold 2,449,000 ounces of silver in the month of October, bringing the total sales volume this year to 28,244,000 ounces. Total gold sales by the US Mint this year are 525,000 ounces, for a silver-to-gold sales ratio in terms of weight of 53.8/1.

Silver Doctors says that the feverish sales pace for silver is unsustainable, as the current mine ratio for silver-to-gold is 9 to 1, and that if the price of silver per ounce rises above $50 the US Mint will be unable to keep pace with investment demand. 


5 Reasons to End Our War on Germs Before it Kills Us All -

5 Reasons to End Our War on Germs Before it Kills Us All - 

Western civilization guards its health as if constantly menaced by a giant public toilet handle. That's because we know how to read statistics, like we carry between two to 10 million bacteria from fingertip to elbow, or that germs can stay alive for up to three hours. As the Food and Drink Federation of Great Britain cheerfully points out , there can be as many germs under your ring as there are people in Europe.
We are a culture of germaphobes, spending as much as $930 million on antibacterial chemicals and $2.4 billion on soap at the end of the last decade. But is it possible that our war against germs is doing more harm than good?

Antibacterial or antimicrobial products do have a place in our society: in hospitals, on the surgeon’s table, in your nurse’s hands. But stationed in our handbags, waiting to be daily lathered up at the first touch of a subway pole? Not so much. Studies show that some antimicrobial products not only contain potential hormonal disruptors, but they are enabling superbugs to breed beyond our ability to smite them. Here are five reasons you should trade in some of your antibacterial sprays, gels and liquid soaps for just plain old soap and water.

1. Triclosan . For more than 30 years, triclosan has been used in hand soaps, cosmetics, deodorants, toothpastes, clothes, detergents, and more. The Centers for Disease Control reports that triclosan is found in the urine of nearly 75 percent of people tested. Other studies have shown it to be in the breast milk and blood samples of the general population. It is marketed under other names such as Microban, Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Biofresh, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum, and more.

So now that we know we’re likely hosting triclosan like Times Square hosts tourists, let’s look at its safety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently does not list triclosan as a hazardous ingredient; however, in light of several recent studies showing adverse effects in animal testing, the FDA is currently reviewing this position. Triclosan is shown to alter hormone regulation in frogs, resulting in altered behavior and possible infertility. A recent study in 2012 revealed that triclosan is “linked with muscle function impairments in humans and mice, as well as slowing the swimming of fish.”

Liquid soap manufacturers, which as the New York Times points out , represent half of the $750 million market for liquid hand soaps in the United States, continue to claim triclosan has no harmful effects on humans. But while companies such as Dial keep using the questionable antimicrobial, others, such as Colgate-Palmolive, have started to replace tricolsan with different ingredients.

2. Natural selection . So imagine you’re slathering your hands with antibacterial soap. While most of the bacteria on your skin reacts like it's Armageddon, a few remain. These hardy bacteria—now resistant to your soap—adapt and mutate to successfully ward off your next sudsy assault on their existence. Microbiologists refer to this process as “selection,” and several studies show that it’s causing some bacteria to resist antibiotics.  

Then you get a bacterial infection, and your doctor prescribes antibiotics. As Discovery Health points out, “some antibacterial agents go after the same physiology of bacteria that prescription antibiotics do.” This means that if the bacteria making you sick already has a resistance to antibacterial agents because of previous exposure, it’s not going to work as well or at all. Think of it this way—do you really want superbugs playing out War of the Worlds in your body?

3. They are harming our ecosystem . The Natural Resources Defense Council shares that triclosan and its close cousin triclocarban “are found in high concentrations in sediments and sewage sludge where they can persist for decades.” Further, triclosan is one of the most frequently detected chemicals found in U.S. streams. The hormonal disruptions it enables are thought to be damaging the reproductive health of certain fish. Meanwhile, some experts are concerned about the additional exposure to humans eating contaminated fish. 


US Army Suicides This Year Exceed Combat Deaths in Afghanistan... -

US Army Suicides This Year Exceed Combat Deaths in Afghanistan... - 

The number of suicides among U.S. Army active duty and reserve personnel in 2012 is higher than the total combined military fatalities from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan over the same timeframe.
Even without Army data for October, the number of deaths believed to be suicides among U.S. Army personnel from January through September still surpass the combined military combat deaths in Afghanistan from January up to October 22.

In 2012, there have been a total of 247 suspected suicides among Army active and reserve duty personnel. Of those, 158 have been confirmed as suicides and 89 remain under investigation.

According to the Afghanistan Index database maintained by the Brookings Institution, there have been 222 combined military deaths in 2012 among active and reserve components from “hostile causes,” as of Sept. 28. (p. 11 Figure 1.17)

An additional 40 military fatalities were the result of “non-hostile causes,” which means they were fatalities not caused by the Taliban, insurgency forces or Afghan forces – so-called “green-on-blue” attacks.


Fastest road in America opens to motorists in Texas today - the speed limit will be 85 mph -

Fastest road in America opens to motorists in Texas today - the speed limit will be 85 mph - 

Motorists, start your engines. It's opening day for the last leg of a Texas toll road with the nation's fastest speed limit.
The final 41-mile stretch of Texas Highway 130 will open Wednesday after three years of construction. The speed limit will be 85 mph.
The toll road is intended to help alleviate the increasingly crowded Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio, which are two of the state's largest metropolitan areas.
The new stretch will be from Mustang Ridge, about 10 miles south of Austin's international airport, to Interstate 10 just east of Seguin. A 50-mile stretch bypassing Austin is already open.
Tolls for personal vehicles displaying an electronic toll tag will be about 15 cents per mile. But no tolls will be collected until Nov. 11.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/24/fastest-road-in-america-opens-to-motorists-in-texas/?test=latestnews

Live Shark Drops Onto Golf Course... -

Live Shark Drops Onto Golf Course... - 

Live Shark Found on OC Golf Course

Imagine this: You're having a pleasant afternoon with your buddies, playing the links at San Juan Hills Golf Club.

You arrive at the 12th tee box at the San Juan Capistrano course and there you see it: A shark, very much alive and thrashing around on the grass.

OK, so it was only a 2-foot-long shark, but still.

"Shark falling from the sky, kind of odd," said Melissa McCormack, director of club operations at San Juan Hills.

The fish was actually found about 4 p.m. Monday by a golf course employee, who picked it up, put it into the back of his golf cart and drove it to the clubhouse, she said. A group of golfers had just left the tee before the shark was spotted.

The shark had two puncture wounds, which made McCormack think a predatory bird had scooped the fish up out of the water, dropping the shark down onto the course. She first relayed the story to the Capistrano Dispatch.

"It was just wriggling around. He needed to get to the ocean right away," McCormack said, adding that it appeared to be a leopard shark.

After a quick dip in fresh water – since McCormack and the employee weren't sure if the small shark could survive if placed in a tank of fresh water – the animal was quickly driven out to the nearby ocean.

Still alive, the shark was dropped back into the sea near Dana Point, where it undoubtedly went on to finish its round with an eagle or two. Or maybe just a birdie.


37 Facts About How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families -

37 Facts About How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families - 

Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially?  Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could?  All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy.  There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families.  When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off.  He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out.  Have you ever been there?  If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life.  If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart.  In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics.  But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.
Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried.  Poverty and government dependence continue to rise.  The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down.  It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue.
The following are 37 facts that show how cruel this economy has been to millions of desperate American families…
1. One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.
2. A different recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.
3. In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account.  That number has increased by about a million since 2009.
4. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.
5. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.
6. Median household income has fallen for four years in a row.  Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 over the past four years.
7. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
8. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is more difficult to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.
9. In the United States today, 77 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.
10. In the United States today, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans are not working.
11. Since January 2009, the “labor force” in the United States has increased by 827,000, but “those not in the labor force” has increased by 8,208,000.  This is how they have gotten the unemployment numbers to “come down”.
12. Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
13. Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.
14. Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
15. At this point, less than 25 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs”, and that number continues to shrink.
16. There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
17. According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.
18. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
19. In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
20. Health insurance premiums rose faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once againin 2012.  In fact, it has been happening for a very long time.
21. According to one recent survey, approximately 10 percent of all employers in the United States plan to drop health coverage when key provisions of the new health care law kick in less than two years from now.
22. Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.
23. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
24. Total consumer debt in the United States has risen by 1700 percent since 1971.
25. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.
26. According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.
27. Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living at home with their parents.
28. The percentage of Americans that find that they are able to retire when they reach retirement age continues to decline.  According to one new survey, 70 percent of middle class Americans plan to work during retirement and 30 percent plan to work until they are at least 80 years old.
29. The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.
30. In 2010, the number of jobs created at new businesses in the United States was less than half of what it was back in the year 2000.
31. Back in 2007, 19.2 percent of all American families had a net worth of zero or less than zero.  By 2010, that figure had soared to 32.5 percent.
32. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
33. In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
34. In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps.
35. Approximately one-fourth of all children in the United States are enrolled in the food stamp program.
36. Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.
37. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.
What makes all of this even more frightening is that many homeless shelters and food banks around the nation are so overloaded at this point that they are already over capacity.  Just consider this example…
When Janice Coe, a homeless advocate in Loudoun County, learned through her prayer group that a young woman was sleeping in the New Carrollton Metro station with a toddler and a 2-month-old, she sprang into action.
Coe contacted the young woman and arranged for her to take the train to Virginia, where she put the little family up in a Comfort Suites hotel. Then Coe began calling shelters to see who could take them.
Despite several phone calls, she came up empty. Coe was shocked to learn that many of the local shelters that cater to families were full, including Good Shepherd Alliance, where Coe was once director of social services.
“I don’t know why nobody will take this girl in,” Coe said. “The baby still had a hospital bracelet on her wrist.”
Keep in mind that Loudoun Country is smack dab in the middle of one of the wealthiest areas of Virginia.
So if things are that bad in the wealthy areas, exactly how bad are things getting in many of the poorer areas?
Unfortunately, things continue to get worse for this economy.  DuPont has just announced plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs.  There are more major layoff announcements almost every single day.  So how bad will things get when ourcrumbling economic system finally collapses?  When kind of chaos will be unleashed all over the nation when millions upon millions of Americans finally lose all hope?
In the introduction to this article, I mentioned that one of my regular readers has had his lights turned off.  The following is how he described his situation…
No gas, no water, no electricity at my house. Couldn’t pay the bills. I’m broke. Desperately searching for any means of income, or at least enough cash to get the juice (electricity) restored.
Typing this missive in a dark house using the battery on my laptop. Feels like I’m camping out at home. Hope to get this situation fixed tomorrow… somehow. Needless to say, I *…. hate this.
I was ready for this, but it is still a major league inconvenience. For those of you who DO have power, etc. – and are not ready… oh brother. You need to get ready. Seriously, you do. Because what I’m going through is just an inconvenience. It may someday be a normal occurence. Ugh. (expletives deleted)
Hopefully a way can be found to get his situation turned around, but the truth is that there are tens of millions of other similar stories out there in America today.
What about you?  What are things like in your neck of the woods?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below…


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Woman eating bar of soap rams into cars outside naval base... -

Woman eating bar of soap rams into cars outside naval base... - 

A Virginia woman is in custody after police say she rammed her car into a vehicle outside the entrance of Bethesda Naval medical.

Police say an officer at the hospital shot at the woman's car after the collision Tuesday morning but did not strike her. The officer was injured, apparently when he used a baton to strike the woman's car.

Montgomery County Police spokesman Paul Starks identifies the woman as Angela Akosua Cobbold from Manassas. Starks says she is being treated and charges are pending.

Starks says earlier Tuesday, Cobbold's car had been spotted going more than 90 mph on Interstate 66 in Virginia. He says officers also received a report that the woman was seen eating a bar of soap.

The woman never got on the base.

Read more -

Fake gold bars discovered at Australia’s Perth Mint, Chinese forgery factory uncovered -

Fake gold bars discovered at Australia’s Perth Mint, Chinese forgery factory uncovered - 

Less than a month ago news broke that 10 PAMP gold bars filled with tungsten had been discovered in Manhattan.  An SD reader then discovered a Chinese firm openly promoting the sale and production of tungsten filled gold bars and coins.
The tungsten filled gold scandal has just gotten exponentially larger, as an Australian Seven News investigation discovered 300 fake Perth Mint gold bars and uncovered a Chinese gold ‘forgery factory’.
The investigators were able to purchase 300 Chinese sourced 1oz gold bars for a total of $300- and to no one’s surprise, when the investigators melted down the bars, all 300 were discovered to contain roughly the same gold content as Fort Knox. 
Seven News reports:

An Australian mint has called in the Federal Police after being shown evidence by Seven News that its gold bars are being counterfeited.
The investigation uncovered Chinese ‘forgery factories’ that will churn out fake bullion and even Australian coins, for a fraction of their face value.
Just one of the bars (seen below) should be worth more than $1,700.

The fake bars discovered are reportedly Perth Mint Kangaroos:

“There are some poor people out there who have gone and bought these products thinking they’ve got a bargain and have actually been ripped off,” Ron Currie from the Perth Mint said.
At Wenzhou, in China’s south east, a suspicious discovery is made after taking a tour of one factory that makes medals and badges – there are thousands of samples.
On the front is stamped “Perth Mint Australia”, on the back are kangaroos – a close copy of the actual design used by the mint.
The tour guide doesn’t hold back when quizzed about the procedure.
“First we did the silver plating, then the gold plating,” he said.
What should be valued at $510,000, is actually counterfeited gold bars that Seven News paid $300 for (300 pieces at $1 each).
Mr Currie says while the number reaching Australia is relatively small, the damage can be significant – but there are tell-tale signs.
“If it looks like a deal that’s too good to refuse – you should refuse it. Secondly the quality – the quality is nowhere near as good as the real product,” he said.
“We’ll of course follow it through and take it up with the Australian Federal Police.
“The Australian Federal police are very helpful and are very interested in stopping counterfeits or copies coming into Australia.”
China has long forged Western products, but this is altogether different because it has the potential to do so much harm.
We again stress to our readers the importance of purchasing your bullion from a reputable dealer that purchases its product DIRECTLY from major wholesalers and refiners.
In other news, the Chinese forgery factory reported Monday a record 150 ton order from long time client the NY Fed. Chinese forgery factory reported Monday a record 150 ton order from long time client the NY Fed.

Read more -