Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ethnic minority staff paid 10% less at UK equality watchdog group.

From the Daily Mail:
The Government’s controversial equality watchdog was last night accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ for flouting its own policies on fair pay.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has angered business leaders by ordering a crackdown on hard-pressed companies that fail to pay the same rates to employees doing similar work.

But official figures show that more than two years after it was set up to stamp out discrimination, the commission is paying its own ethnic minority workers almost ten per cent less than white staff – an embarrassment for its black chairman Trevor Phillips.

And disabled workers at the quango, which employs more than 500 staff, have slipped behind their able-bodied colleagues by nearly nine per cent.

Moreover, the figures show the pay gap for both minority groups has worsened over the past year, and female staff also face pay discrimination compared to male counterparts.

Cop leaves patrol car running, thief steals it.

From the NY Post:

A brazen car thief stole an NYPD highway patrol vehicle with a loaded shotgun inside this morning — and drove it all the way to La Guardia Airport — after a cop left it idling and unmanned while he got breakfast at a Bronx diner, authorities said.

The heist occurred at the corner of Cruger and Lydig avenues in Morris Park shortly before 8 a.m. when an officer grabbed a bite to eat at Lydig Coffee House, said sources.

The car thief sped away in the hot wheels, a marked Chevy Tahoe, and headed over the Whitestone Bridge, said sources.

Witnesses said the red-faced officer was only in the diner for two minutes when he ran out in a panic.

"All of a sudden I see a cop come out of the restaurant running. He was going crazy," said Sammy Obaid, an employee at a deli across from the greasy spoon. "He was on the phone, making calls. He was freaked out."

Russia tried to collapse US banks.

From Raw Story:
Russian interests attempted to force the U.S. government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by selling off its holdings in the two entities in 2008, then urging China to do the same, according to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Paulson's claim is carried by his forthcoming memoir, “On The Brink.” An early copy was obtained by Bloomberg News.

"The Russians made a 'top-level approach' to the Chinese 'that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,' Paulson said, referring to the acronym for government sponsored entities," Bloomberg reported. "The Chinese declined, he said."

He reportedly added that he waited until returning to the U.S. before informing former President George W. Bush of what he called a "disruptive plan."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Argentine president tells citizens to eat pork for good sex.

This reminds me of Bill Clinton's "Burgers & BJ's" speech. From Yahoo! News:

Argentina's president thinks eating pig meat is really sexy.

Many people in this beef-loving nation reacted with surprise Thursday after Cristina Fernandez promoted pork in a speech during which she not only said pork is better than Viagra, but suggested she's personally proven it.

"I didn't know that eating pork improved sexual activity," Fernandez said in a meeting with representatives of the swine industry late Wednesday. "It is much more gratifying to eat some grilled pork than to take Viagra."

She even joked that "it was all good" after she enjoyed some pork with her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.

Swiss halts deal to ID Americans with secret accounts.

From the Washington Post:
Americans who hid money from the Internal Revenue Service in secret Swiss bank accounts may escape exposure, at least for now.

An agreement between the U.S. and Swiss governments that was supposed to blow the cover on 4,450 accounts at Switzerland's largest bank is in danger of collapse.

The Swiss government said Wednesday that it has suspended the disclosure of information to the United States under the agreement and may seek to renegotiate the deal.

The announcement came days after a Swiss court ruled that it would be illegal for Switzerland to comply with the August accord. The court essentially declared that long-standing secrecy protections trumped the agreement. The decision came in a test case involving a UBS account holder who was fighting to stay in the shadows.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Woman beats cancer with booze and cigarettes.

From Ananova:
A Chinese woman who gave up her fight against cancer to go back to drinking and smoking heavily has made an amazing recovery.

Music teacher Tian Mei, 38, had to take early retirement 11 years ago when she was diagnosed with both cervical and rectal cancer, reports Chongqing Evening Post.

But after eight years of treatment, including chemotherapy, she still had both cancers and her weight had dropped by a third to just six stone.

"Then I thought it through - why not enjoy my remaining life, instead of spending it in hospitals and in sorrow," said Tian, of Chongqing.

For the last three years, she says she has smoked at least three packs of cigarettes and drank 12 large bottles of beer a day.

And - to the amazement of Tian and her doctors - a recent health check revealed the cancers had gone and she is putting on weight again.

Kiefer Sutherland loses $1m on cows.

Damnit, Chloe! I need those cows NOW! From ABC:
Kiefer Sutherland may play a tough guy on TV but in real life he got taken for nearly a million dollars in a cattle investment scam.

According to court papers, Sutherland invested $869,000 in cattle a few years ago, but the deal turned out to be, well, a bunch of bull.

Sutherland, who plays agent Jack Bauer on the hit series "24," was one of several victims of Michael Wayne Carr, a steer-roping promoter and cattle manager who is accused of bilking investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the San Joaquin County, Calif., District Attorney's office.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Maier told that Carr was running a ponzi scheme in which he promised investors that he could purchase cows in Mexico and resell them in the U.S. for a huge profit.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 only has 35 subscribers.

I have to reprint much of this article, because I too have been baffled by's hideous and broken redesign, and its suicidal business plan of paid-only content. From the NY Observer:
In late October, Newsday, the Long Island daily that the Dolans bought for $650 million, put its web site,, behind a pay wall. The paper was one of the first non-business newspapers to take the plunge by putting up a pay wall, so in media circles it has been followed with interest. Could its fate be a sign of what others, including The New York Times, might expect?

So, three months later, how many people have signed up to pay $5 a week, or $260 a year, to get unfettered access to

The answer: 35 people. As in fewer than three dozen. As in a decent-sized elementary-school class.

That astoundingly low figure was revealed in a newsroom-wide meeting last week by publisher Terry Jimenez when a reporter asked how many people had signed up for the site. Mr. Jimenez didn't know the number off the top of his head, so he asked a deputy sitting near him. He replied 35.

Michael Amon, a social services reporter, asked for clarification.

"I heard you say 35 people," he said, from Newsday's auditorium in Melville. "Is that number correct?"

Mr. Jimenez nodded.

Hellville, indeed.

The web site redesign and relaunch cost the Dolans $4 million, according to Mr. Jimenez. With those 35 people, they've grossed about $9,000.

In that time, without question, web traffic has begun to plummet, and, certainly, advertising will follow as well.

Of course, there are a few caveats. Anyone who has a newspaper subscription is allowed free access; anyone who has Optimum Cable, which is owned by the Dolans and Cablevision, also gets it free. Newsday representatives claim that 75 percent of Long Island either has a subscription or Optimum Cable.

"We're the freebie newsletter that comes with your HBO," sniffed one Newsday reporter.

Mr. Jimenez was in no mood to apologize. "That's 35 more than I would have thought it would have been," said Mr. Jimenez to the assembled staff, according to five interviews with Newsday staffers.

"Given the number of households in our market that have access to Newsday's Web site as a result of other subscriptions, it is no surprise that a relatively modest number have chosen the pay option," said a Cablevision spokeswoman.

Nevertheless, traffic has fallen. In December, the web site had 1.5 million unique visits, a drop from 2.2 million in October, according to Nielsen Media Online.

In the short time that the Dolans have owned Newsday, it's been a circus. When they were closing the deal to buy the paper in May 2008, they had their personal spokesman scream at an editor who assigned a reporter to visit the Dolans, seeking comment; there was a moment back in January of last year, when Newsday editor John Mancini walked out of the newsroom because of a dispute over how the paper was handling the Knicks; in the summer, the paper refused to run ads by Verizon, a rival; Tim Knight, the paper's publisher, and John Mancini, the editor, eventually both left.

The paper, which traditionally has been a powerful money maker, lost $7 million in the first three quarters of last year, according to Mr. Jimenez at last week's meeting.

In October, the web site relaunched and was redesigned. One of the principals behind the redesign is Mr. Mancini's replacement, editor Debby Krenek.

To say the least, the project has not been a newsroom favorite. "The view of the newsroom is the web site sucks," said one staffer.

"It's an abomination," said another.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy 50th Birthday, Bubble Wrap!!

Without a doubt, the greatest invention of the 20th century. From PopSci:

America's beloved Bubble Wrap turns 50 today, proving that even ephemeral plastic bubbles can morph into a timeless invention. But consider that if the original inventors had their way, people would have used "Air Cap" as wallpaper -- a concept that would have undoubtedly proved as fulfilling as the prototype model future homes of the 1950s.

Bubble Wrap represents perhaps the ultimate garage invention as the brainchild of New Jersey engineers Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding in 1960. Yet it only took off as fun air-filled shipping material after the wall decor idea died, and people soon discovered the joys of popping each air-filled bubble by hand, or en masse using their bodies or other implements.

Manufacturer Sealed Air Corp. has recognized the joy that its product brings by officially declaring this Monday Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Part of the celebration involves a limited one-day run of golden Bubble Wrap at the company's Saddle River, N.J. facility, and the rest is presumably up to the end users.

World's least-known bird rediscovered.

From here:
A species of bird, which has only been observed alive on three previous occasions since it was first discovered in 1867, has been rediscovered in a remote land corridor in north-eastern Afghanistan. The discovery was made as part of an international collaboration, which included researchers at the University of Gothenburg.

During the summer of 2008, the American ornithologist Robert J Timmins was commissioned by the American aid organisation USAID to compile an inventory of bird species in the Badakshan province in north-eastern Afghanistan. He managed to record the call of a species of bird that was as yet unknown.

The recording found its way to the Swedish ornithologist Lars Svensson, who was quick to note that the recorded birdsong did not resemble that of any known species of bird. But from Timmins' description of the species, he soon began to suspect what kind of bird was on the recording...

Clumsy woman trips into Picasso painting, tears it.

From NY Daily News:
A clutzy art lover tripped onto a rare Picasso painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tearing a hole in the century-old masterpiece, the museum said Sunday.

The unidentified woman was attending an adult education class Friday afternoon when she lost her balance and stumbled into "The Actor," causing a 6-inch tear in the bottom of the canvas.

"Fortunately, the damage did not occur in a focal point of the composition," the Met said in a statement, adding that the damage can be fully repaired.

Pablo Picasso created "The Actor," an unusually large painting measuring about 6 feet by 4 feet, in the winter of 1904-'05.

It depicts an acrobat striking a pose and marks a transition to the artist's rose period.

The artwork, which was donated to the Met in 1952, hung in a second-floor gallery without incident until Friday.

The painting is expected to be repaired in time to go on display in an exhibit of some 250 Picasso works that opens April 27.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gary Coleman arrested; can't make $1,725 bail.

This is kinda sad. From here.
Gary Coleman was arrested Sunday for domestic violence, authorities said.

The former child star was arrested in Santaquin, Utah on a domestic assault warrant and booked into the Utah County jail about 1:30 p.m., according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

He was wanted for one count of domestic assault - a misdemeanor - though it's unclear when the incident occurred. Utah County Deputy Denton, who declined to give her first name, said the warrant stemmed from a missed court date.

Coleman is working on posting bail of $1,725, Denton said, and the jail doesn't have any record of who his alleged victim was.

The "Diff'rent Strokes" star had another run in with cops only recently, when his wife locked her husband out of their house and unleashed a profane tirade at police in their drive way in July.

"F--- you and f--- him!" Shannon Price, 23, screamed before her arrest.

"You deserve this after how you treated me!" she shouted at Coleman was the star stood amidst toppled furniture, scattered DVDs and strewn clothes.

Coleman, 41, was not injured, although a police report said "his bedroom was destroyed."

Price was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and disorderly conduct.

The pair met on the set of the comedy film "Church Ball" just five months before exchanging vows.

In 2008, the couple almost split during an appearance on the syndicated "Divorce Court," where Price described Coleman as distant and depressed.

Coleman also pleaded no contest in 2008 to charges he rammed a fan with his truck outside a bowling alley.

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler sings own song in karaoke bar.

From M&C:
Rocker Steven Tyler has been spotted for the first time since leaving rehab - in a karaoke bar.

The Aerosmith frontman reportedly checked into rehab in December, seeking treatment for dependency on prescription drugs after admitting he had become addicted to pills following years of injuries sustained on stage.

But since then, he had not been seen until he resurfaced at the Tilted Kilt pub in Palm Springs, California.

A Tilted Kilt DJ said he was accompanied by a management team, including a publicist who said Tyler wasn't going to sing.

But after listening to two other people get booed off stage after singing the Aerosmith classic I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, Tyler grabbed the microphone.

He then sang his 1998 hit, much to the delight of the crowd.

DJ Mike May revealed: 'Two amateur singers told Tyler they were going to perform a version of I Don't Want To Miss A Thing that was going to totally suck.

'But Tyler gave them his blessing but when their prediction proved true, the crowd started booing them off the stage, although he was very gracious and very kind.

'I began singing along to try to save the show when all of a sudden, near the end of the song Tyler grabbed the mic and started singing.

'The whole frickin' bar surrounded him and he just started singing the whole thing. I announced Tyler to the stunned crowd and said: 'Karaoke will never get better then that'.

'It was like one of those moments. It was a club DJ's dream come true.'