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Current Topic: Society

The Billy Mays Economic Indicator
Topic: Society 9:13 am EST, Jan 29, 2009

How long is this recession going to last? That's the $6 million question.

"Hi, I'm Billy Mays. And I'm here to talk to you about the economy."

Well, look no further than your television for the answer.

Infomercial guru Billy Mays, known for his signature yelling and, um, beard, used to hawk the Ding King, the "body-shop secret" that would help you bang out the dents in your vehicle like a pro.

Then everybody stopped buying cars.

Mays pitched the miracle of Oxiclean: This 2 ½-pound tub will do 75 loads of laundry!

Then everybody lost their jobs and suddenly, no one gave a $#!+ about the red-wine stain on their shirt.

Then, this summer, the clouds rolled in and the Billy Mays indicator seemed to hit rock bottom: There he was on TV, trying to sell me low-cost health insurance.

I was never completely comfortable with Mays's transition from my tub to my doctor's office.

That was right before the bottom fell out of the market and the economy started hemorrhaging jobs at the rate of half a million per month.

But, wait! Don't answer yet.

You also get—not one—

Not two—

But THREE cans of hope!

Check him now: Mays is hawking Mighty Mend It, a fabric glue that can hem your pants, reaffix the pocket on your jeans … even repair your torn American flag!

"Just apply. Gently touch … and mend it!" Mays cheers as the flag is restored just before the big finish: Mays and the flag in a wind tunnel.

"It has the strength to withstand storm-force winds!" Mays brags of Mighty Mend It, but we all know what he really means: the economy. Mays will help us hold it together until the storm passes.

And the economy's red glare!
The flag rippling in air!
Gave proof on this infomercial
That our economy is still there
Oh say does tha-at star spangled pro-du-uct ye-et wa-ave …
O'er the la-and of the free
And all for just $19.95.

Call now. And when Billy starts offering you things you don't need again, you'll know the economy is back on track.

The Billy Mays Economic Indicator

Bagels + Fake NY Yankees Pitcher = A year in Jail for Real Identity Theft
Topic: Society 2:23 am EST, Jan 19, 2009

If New York Yankees star Joba Chamberlain really WAS at the Jersey shore, wouldn't he ask for something better than a bagel? That question apparently was never asked when a Toms River man with a strong resemblance to the Yankee pitcher allegedly implied that he was Chamberlain. Ryan Ward, 30, was charged with theft by deception and disorderly conduct, and could get more than a year in jail if convicted.

He's charged with scamming a Belmar bagel shop out of free food last summer after allegedly telling an employee, "Do you know who I am?" and pointing to a photo of Chamberlain in a newspaper sports section.

Police said he signed autographs and promised women free Yankee tickets.

Ward has denied the charges, telling the Asbury Park Press, "You can't have fun anymore, can you?"

The newspaper dubbed him "Joba-The-Not."

His municipal court trial is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Police in Monmouth County say Ward represented himself as Chamberlain in other businesses in Belmar and Spring Lake, and was banned from a few local bars because of it.

Ward declined to answer specific questions about his actions, telling the newspaper, "It was something I did for the summer. I had a lot of fun with it."

His attorney, Constantine Bardis, called the charges against Ward a "tragedy."

"What's the crime in pretending to be someone?" Bardis asked. "I'm Mel Gibson; want to have a drink? He just goofed around because he kind of looks like the guy."

Ward then corrected his lawyer.

"He looks like me," Ward said.

Belmar Police Chief Jack Hill called Ward a "nut," saying Ward broke the law when he pretended to be a Yankees pitcher.

"He impersonated another person and took advantage of it," Hill said. "We frown on people taking other people's identity."

A Yankees spokesman declined comment.

ok... Here I see the only crime is that people are stupid enough not to ask to see an ID or something with the dudes photo on it, and if that is fake so be it, at the very least you asked! The problem is that people never questioned who he was... 'Social Engineering' is not a crime, but stupidity should be...

Bagels + Fake NY Yankees Pitcher = A year in Jail for Real Identity Theft

Court Backs Some Types of Warrantless Wiretapping
Topic: Society 6:36 pm EST, Jan 15, 2009

oday backing the government's authority to intercept international phone conversations and e-mails without a judicial warrant if the principal purpose is to collect foreign intelligence, including communications involving Americans.

The ruling came in response to the claims of an unnamed telecommunications company that the government in 2007 improperly demanded information on its clients in violation of constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The company has been complying with the demand while the case was pending.

In its opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled that national security interests outweighed privacy rights of those who might be targeted, affirming what amounts to an exception to the Constitution's Fourth Amendment for cases that involve what the panel called government interests "of the highest order of magnitude."

The opinion, written by the court's chief judge, Bruce M. Selya, said the government had enacted appropriate protections and restrictions on gathering such intelligence. "Our decision recognizes that where the government has instituted several layers of serviceable safeguards to protect individuals against unwarranted harms and to minimize incidental intrusions, its efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts," Selya wrote in the 29-page opinion.

He added that requiring a warrant in such cases would likely "hinder the government's ability to collect time-sensitive information and, thus, would impede the vital national security interests that are at stake."

Although the specific case involves a law that has since been amended, the ruling essentially supports the Bush administration's long-standing claim that foreign intelligence information can be collected inside the United States without court orders. The opinion focused specifically on provisions of the "stopgap" Protect America Act passed by Congress in 2007 that authorized the government to conduct warrantless surveillance in national security matters on people, including U.S. citizens, "reasonably believed" to be outside the United States.

The government was permitted to order telecommunications companies to help them gather such information under certain conditions. Those included taking reasonable steps to ensure the person was outside the United States and that the main purpose of the surveillance was to obtain foreign intelligence information.

The government was also required to issue a written certification, with an affidavit from top national security officials, ensuring such conditions had been met. That law was repealed by Congress in July and more restrictions were put in place.

The court opinion drew heavily from secret pleadings by the government and the telecommunications company. It said the government approached the company in 2007 with a certification to conduct ... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Court Backs Some Types of Warrantless Wiretapping

Father Accused Of Selling Daughter For Beer
Topic: Society 12:25 pm EST, Jan 13, 2009

- A father is accused of trying to sell his 14-year-old daughter for marriage in hopes of getting money and 150 cases of beer in return, Greenfield police said.

Father Accused Of Selling Daughter For Beer

Google Maps Used To Mark Pirate Attacks
Topic: Society 9:20 am EST, Nov 21, 2008

Google's been known to track all sorts of stuff, including search trends, wildfires, and the flu. Now Google Maps and Google Earth are being used to record the locations of what might qualify as an even more interesting thing: pirate attacks.

Arrr, but where be the dragons?

Google Maps Used To Mark Pirate Attacks

Topic: Society 1:47 pm EST, Nov 17, 2008

"What’s happening in my neighborhood?"

For a long time, that’s been a tough question to answer. In dense, bustling cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, the number of daily media reports, government proceedings and local Internet conversations is staggering. Every day, a wealth of local information is created — officials inspect restaurants, journalists cover fires and Web users post photographs — but who has time to sort through all of that?

Our mission at EveryBlock is to solve that problem. We aim to collect all of the news and civic goings-on that have happened recently in your city, and make it simple for you to keep track of news in particular areas. We’re a geographic filter — a "news feed" for your neighborhood, or, yes, even your block.

At this time, we cover nine American cities: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. On each site, you can type in any address to read local news and public information near you.


Ugly election incidents show lingering U.S. racism
Topic: Society 2:34 am EDT, Oct 23, 2008

Two weeks before an election that could install the first black U.S. president, scattered ugly incidents have reflected a deep residue of racism among some segments of white America.

A cardboard likeness of Barack Obama was found strung from fishing wire at a university, the Democratic presidential nominee's face was depicted on mock food stamps, the body of a black bear was left at another university with Obama posters attached to it.

Though the incidents are sporadic and apparently isolated, they stirred up memories of the violent racial past of a country where segregation and lynchings only ended within the last 50 years.

And some feared that Obama could be a target for people who reject him on racial grounds alone. The Illinois senator leads Republican rival John McCain in polls ahead of the November 4 election and has a big following in many sections of Americans, from liberals to conservatives, black and white, poor and wealthy.

"Many whites feel they are losing their country right before their eyes," said Mark Potok, who directs the Southern Poverty Law Center that monitors hate groups. "What we are seeing at this moment is the beginning of a real backlash."

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said the incidents were disappointing but he said there were fewer than some had predicted.

"We've always acknowledged that race is not something that's been eradicated from our politics," said Axelrod. "But we've never felt that it would be an insuperable barrier and I don't think that it will be."

The latest incident occurred on Monday when the body of bear cub was found on the campus of Western Carolina University in North Carolina. Obama campaign signs were placed around the dead animal's head. School officials said it was a prank.

Earlier a cardboard likeness of Obama was strung up with fishing wire from a tree at a university in Oregon and an Ohio man hung a figure bearing an Obama sign from a tree in his yard. The man told local media he didn't want to see an African-American running the country.


Potok said the displays of racism did not appear orchestrated as part of a campaign of racial intimidation, but were rather the acts of angry individuals. Their voices are often heard in radio call-back shows or letters to editors.

Many Americans "see the rise of minority rights, gay rights, women's rights as a threat to the world they grew up in and that their parents grew up in. They see huge demographic changes," he said.

"They see jobs disappearing to other countries, and now they see a man who is African American and who will very likely become president of the United States. For some of those people that symbolizes the end of the world as they know it."

He estimated there were as many as 800 white supremacy or nationalist groups in the United States, with at least 100,000 as "an inner core" of membership and many more on the fringes... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Ugly election incidents show lingering U.S. racism

Bank Robber Gets Away With the Help of Craigslist
Topic: Society 10:17 am EDT, Oct  4, 2008

The FBI and law enforcement officials in Monroe, Washington are searching for a man who robbed a bank and made a getaway down a nearby creek on an inner-tube. Seriously. Investigators believe the thief may have employed the help of decoys recruited on Craigslist.

The suspect is described as a white male about 25 years old and between 5 7 and 5 10. He was wearing a blue shirt and and a dust mask, which appears to have been essential to the heist. An ad placed on Craigslist searching for road workers is now at the center of the investigation. The ad asked more men to show up at a site near the bank just before the robbery took place. The respondents were asked to wear safety vests, goggles, blue shirts, and face masks, just like the suspect was wearing.

No one ever showed up to meet these hired road workers, leading to the theory that the ad was posted by the thief to create a distraction for responders. The inner-tube used as the getaway vehicle was found along the banks of Wood creek near the Skykomish River.

Anyone who may have information that could aide investigators are asked to contact Monroe police at 360 863-4600. From: Seattle Times null

Bank Robber Gets Away With the Help of Craigslist

Lindsay Lohan's Dad Slams Obama Over Reported Dis...
Topic: Society 1:01 pm EDT, Sep 18, 2008

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, LiLo wanted to promote Obama but was turned away by his camp due to her wild ways. Now daddy Michael Lohan is biting back.

"For Barack Obama to condemn my daughter for past indiscretions when he admitted to the exact same himself is indicative of what kind of president he would be," Michael Lohan told Pop Tarts via e-mail on Wednesday night.

"His visions of a positive future for this country should be representative of a positive future for people as well. It is looking beyond the difficult times and letting go of the past," Michael said. "Obviously, Obama can do this for himself and not others, when in fact a good president should have hope for all."

Michael and his famous daughter have had a rocky relationship in recent weeks, but he had nothing but nice words for his little one in his e-mail.

"Lindsay is gifted — she has a wonderful heart and she can and will affect millions of people in a very positive way. She is here to stay," he said. "Obama might have eight years, and then he will be giving lectures. Who knows, maybe Lindsay will give him a part in one of her movies."

Lindsay Lohan's Dad Slams Obama Over Reported Dis...

Paris anti-Semitic T-shirt probe
Topic: Society 11:04 pm EDT, Aug 12, 2008

The tops carried slogans in German and Polish that translate as Jews forbidden from entering the park .

They were reproduced from Nazi signs from 1940 that targeted the Jewish community in the Polish town of Lodz.

Some 95% of more than 200,000 Jewish people there would die in concentration camps during World War II.

The sales assistant at the Parisian store, in the Belleville district, said one person had bought five of the grey, sleeveless garments for about 18 euros $27 each.

She said she did not understand what the inscription meant.

The neighbourhood of Belleville in eastern Paris has been the site of ongoing scuffles between groups of Jewish youngsters and youths of North African origin.

France has one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel, numbering about half a million people.

Paris anti-Semitic T-shirt probe

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