Saturday, June 16, 2012

Redbox is Kicking Netflix's Butt

Shares of Netflix (NFLX) got off to a smoking start this year after a nightmarish 2011. But like the rest of the market (and especially momentum stocks), Netflix has come crashing back to Earth. The stock is now actually down almost 10% in 2012. Do investors think that the video market is dead?

Not necessarily.

Take a look at Coinstar (CSTR). The owner of the bargain DVD rental kiosk service Redbox is having a banner year. Shares are up nearly 40%. What gives? Well, I think one reason is that Coinstar, which also operates its namesake coin counting machines in mass market retailers, may be benefiting from the weakness in the economy.

A monthly subscription for Netflix could be the type of thing you cut if you're worried about job stability, Europe's financial woes and stock market volatility. But the occasional "splurge" on a movie for $1.20? That's still doable.

"Redbox is more compeitive if you only watch a DVD a week. The vast majority of people watch fewer than 3 movies a month," said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "There is a reason Wal-Mart exists. People like the value proposition. And that's the same reason why Redbox exists."

There's also the fact that Coinstar is a more diverse company than Netflix. The company is even branching out into the coffee business. Earlier this month, Coinstar announced a deal with caffeine king Starbucks (SBUX) to offer Starbucks' Seattle Best Coffee in new Rubi kiosks in supermarkets and grocery stores.  Coinstar's shares are up about 6% since the Starbucks news.

Coinstar and Redbox often get mocked for being so old-school, but not everybody wants to watch movies streaming on their smartphomes or iPad. Plus: Sometimes consumers actually have to leave their homes to shop for things. (Three cheers for analog retail! You go, Luddites!)

Still, it's not as if Coinstar risks being lost in the online video revolution. Redbox inked a streaming/DVD joint venture with telecom giant Verizon (VZ) in February. The service is set to launch in the second half of the year.

Netflix, on the other hand, continues to befuddle investors. While the worst appears to be over in terms of subscriber defections following last year's decision to charge people separately for DVDs and streaming and the ill-fated and short-lived decision to rebrand the DVD business Qwikster, Netflix is still a company faced with many challenges.

The company is spending a lot to license content from the major movie studios. It's now a content producer as well, with new shows like Kevin Spacey's "House of Cards" and the eagerly awaited revival of "Arrested Development." Netflix is also expanding aggressively overseas. These may all be smart long-term moves, but they are hurting earnings now.

"Netflix has a lack of visibility regarding international expansion. When will the losses narrow and margins improve?" said Steve Frankel, analyst with Dougherty & Company in Boston. "Netflix may also double down on more new markets."

Analysts now expect Netflix to eke out a tiny profit this year, after earlier projections of a full-year loss. But profit forecasts for 2013 have steadily come down over the past few months. That's not good. What's more, Netflix's revenues are no longer growing in the manner befitting a true go-go momentum stock. Analysts are predicting rather pedestrian sales growth of 13% this year and 15% in 2013.

Compare that with Coinstar. Its sales growth is expected to top 23% this year and earnings are expected to surge 35%. Revenues are only expected to increase 12% next year, while profits are forecast to rise only 10%. Wall Street analysts have been ratcheting up their Coinstar earnings projections -- a sharp contrast with how they're viewing Netflix.

And then there's valuation, which ultimately is what really matters. Netflix, despite its recent stumbles, still trades at 30 times 2013 earnings estimates. Coinstar, even after its big spike this year, is valued at just 12 times next year's profit targets.

Pachter, who has a "buy" rating on Coinstar and a "sell" on Netflix, maintains that Netflix is still overpriced, given that it faces so much competition in streaming video. In addition to the looming Verizon/Coinstar joint venture, companies like Amazon (AMZN) and Hulu, the online video firm co-owned by media giants News Corp. (NWSA), Walt Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA), are gunning for Netflix's streaming subscribers.

Finally, Pachter thinks that the DVD -- like the old man in Monty Python's Holy Grail -- is not dead yet. That's good news for Coinstar and not so much for Netflix.

"The movie studios are greedy pigs who want to sell their content to everybody. They would rather have more competition," Pachter said."Netflix is under a long-term assault, and DVDs are not going to go way for many years."

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What guarantees a second date?

We’ve all been there — the first date. You’re sitting across from someone you barely know sharing so-what-line-of-work-are-you-in conversation, secretly sizing each other up. What, exactly, convinces someone to sign up for date #2? Sure, feeling sparks must count for something, but after talking to some men and women about it, we learned that’s hardly the whole story. In fact, some of the men and women we interviewed below had one foot out the door their entire first date until — wham! — something small and seemingly insignificant happened that suddenly made them most interested in seeing that person again. Read their stories and who knows? Maybe one of these tricks will come in handy on your next date.

“We were both beer snobs” 
“I was set up with a guy named Rob; we met at a local pub. I ordered a Yuengling lager. Rather than just saying ‘Make that two,’ he complimented me on my taste — then picked something different and let me sample it. As we continued ordering new options off the menu and trading sips, it became obvious that we shared a higher-than-average passion for brewskies. Pretty much all men like beer, but someone who truly appreciates it as much as I do immediately rises in my eyes. Four years later, we live together... and by the way, he proposed to me in that very pub!”
— Jessica Waters, 26, Philadelphia

Lesson learned: A shared passion is extremely powerful
Finding common ground of the “He likes golf, she likes golf” variety is pretty much par for the course on a first date. But there’s something different about Jessica and Rob: They didn’t both just like beer, they loved it. Never underestimate the pull between two people who are really gung-ho about the same activity. Even if there aren’t oodles of sparks, many people will automatically sign up for date #2 since they’re smitten with a future where they can, say, get in a round of tennis and see their sweetie all at once. In today’s multi-tasking society, that’s a definite plus. “A common like also sets up an atmosphere of acceptance,” says Dr. Gilda Carle, author of Don’t Bet On The Prince! Face it, it’s a little annoying when you have to convince someone how passionate you are about a particular something. So when the other person just understands, it’s easy to stick around. So whether you’ve noticed you’re both raging Gleeks or adore Scrabble, don’t be afraid to say so and dig into a deep conversation about it. That’s gold!

“We had nothing in common — but wow, was he attentive”
“My blind date was going nowhere fast: I didn’t feel much chemistry when I met him for dinner, and it was obvious after the movie we saw ended that we didn’t even have the same taste in film. Next, he invited me to his place for coffee. Normally, I’d pull the plug, but he seemed really into me, so I went. Once we were inside, he went right to the fridge and pulled out a carton of strawberries, blueberries and a bag of grapes. I smirked and said, ‘What’s with all the fruit?’ His answer floored me: ‘Well, on the phone you mentioned how much you love fruit.’ His attentiveness made up for everything else and at that moment, I knew date number two would happen.”
— Pat Baronowski, 38, New York City

Lesson learned: Put some advanced listening skills into practice
Anyone with half a brain knows that listening to one’s date is important, and many of us do so (at least most of the time) by nodding and asking follow-up questions to what the person has just said. But if you want to really show the object of your affection how much you’re smitten, refer back to something he or she has mentioned hours — or even days — earlier (even if this is your first date, you’ve probably exchanged email messages or had a phone conversation you could comb for ideas). If your date talked about loving spicy food, for example, suggest that you dine at a Thai place that’ll fire up her taste buds. Or, if he mentioned an important office meeting earlier that week, be sure to ask him during your date: “So, how’d that big meeting at your office go?” As Pat’s story proves, this level of thoughtfulness will keep even wary dates so flattered they’ll stick around, thereby almost guaranteeing you’ll get yet another chance to wow this person during date #2. 

“Dive bars beat fancy martini lounges any day” 
“I’d been hemming and hawing over where to take this woman and had come up with this swanky martini place that I figured would impress her. But after a little while, she suggested we head somewhere else. Next thing I know, we’ve gone from sipping martinis and struggling to make small talk to chugging beer and playing darts at a dive together. That’s when we started having fun, and I immediately knew I’d be asking her out again.”
— Bryan Abrams, 28, San Francisco 

Lesson learned: Comfortable atmosphere = comfortable with each other
Fancy five-star dinners are nice and all, but they can definitely put a crimp in your comfort level (“Am I using the right fork for this appetizer?”). And that can easily make you feel a little awkward with each other, too. So consider something more laid-back, like a date at your local diner, bowling alley, or anywhere you’re guaranteed to feel relaxed. “This is like watching reality TV: no costumes, no masks, no subterfuge,” explains Dr. Carle. In short, you can act like yourself and instinctively put each other at ease and feel instantly like you’ve known each other for ages (and who knows, maybe you will!). 

“It’s so hard to find someone with manners these days”
“I knew I was attracted to this woman, but what really impressed me — and this may sound silly — were her manners during our dinner date. She said things like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ whenever our waiters came by to refill our water glasses or take our plates. And after I paid for dinner, she thanked me in a genuine way. I’ve been on dates where women have been a lot less than charm-school perfect and haven’t treated the wait staff nicely at all. What a relief it was to date someone so pleasant.”
— Tom Foley, 29, New York City 

Lesson learned: Being courteous is key
In these modern (and casual) times, manners often get overlooked... even on dates. And that’s a big mistake. “Small courtesies like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ let your date know you’re not expecting anything and that you’re not demanding of what you're given,” explains Dr. Carle. Also, being polite to those serving you shows that you tend to make a positive human connection with people as you go through life. So make a point of playing the politeness card, and suddenly you’ll seem like a genuine, kind and enthusiastic person — the sort most people want to see again and again. 

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No one can identify imposter who crashed MLB alumni bash

Pro baseball can be a transient life, so it's no surprise that not everybody remembered John Sullivan when he showed up for the Atlanta Braves' alumni weekend last Friday. Except NOBODY actually remembered this guy, and he wasn't exactly the most stellar baseball player, either. "We figured he must've had some health problems," said former Braves reliever Jose Alvarez, who was puzzled by Sullivan's performance during the alumni softball game. The enigmatic attendee may have indeed had health problems, but he also never played pro ball: He had simply crashed the event, impersonating the former Braves bullpen coach by the same name. "Sullivan" was figured out Saturday night and disappeared Sunday morning, but his real identity is still a mystery.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'll Have Another confirmed out of Belmont Stakes, will be retired.

I’ll Have Another will not run in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes—in fact, the colt who had a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 will be retired.
Tendinitis in I’ll Have Another’s left-front foot was the reason for the decision to pull the horse from the Belmont—and ultimately call an end to his racing career—trainer Doug O’Neill said at a Friday afternoon press conference at Belmont Park.
I'll Have Another was walked by a groom behind O'Neill and his owner, Paul Reddam, while the two addressed the media.
“It was unanimous to retire him,” Reddam said.
O’Neill added of his horse’s injury, “Could he run and compete? Yes. Would it be in his best interest? No.”
After an early Friday morning gallop, O'Neill declared I'll Have Another "fit and ready to go," but the trainer later noticed that the horse’s left-front foot was tender.
“He galloped great yesterday and then in the afternoon he had a little bit of swelling in his left front leg," O’Neill said earlier on The Dan Patrick Show. "This morning he looked perfect. I took him out and I just did a little something with him, and after training that swelling came back. I had the vet come over. He scanned his left front leg and he’s got the start of some tendinitis in that front leg. So he’s not 100 percent, and we ain’t taking any chances and (are) pulling him out."
Added O'Neill, “It’s a bummer but far from tragic.”
With I’ll Have Another out, the favorites in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes figure to be Dullahan and Union Rags. But there’s clearly a pall that’s been cast over the race, and the mood around Belmont Park has been characterized as one of shock.
“It’s devastating," said Dale Romans, who trains Dullahan. "I thought this was going to be one of the great races in history. I wanted to be part of that. But this is bigger. This is terrible news.”
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Postal Service offers $15,000 buyouts to 45,000 mail handlers

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The U.S. Postal Service is offering buyouts to 45,000 mail handlers, part of the struggling agency's efforts to shed staff and cut costs.
The $15,000 buyouts, pro-rated for part-time staff, are available to nearly all of the Postal Service's mail handlers, excluding around 2,000 who aren't career employees.
Mail handlers work at post offices and mail processing centers sorting mail, transporting it within their facility and loading and unloading trucks.
"The Postal Service is adjusting the size of its network to adapt to America's changing mailing trends," USPS spokesman Mark Saunders said in an email Friday.
The Postal Service wants to reduce its workforce by 150,000 by 2015, though Saunders said he had "nothing to announce" regarding potential buyouts for other USPS employees.
The offer for mail handlers, finalized earlier this week, came as a result of talks between the Postal Service and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. In a statement Thursday, the union said the deal "is intended to provide a financial cushion, and added peace of mind, for Mail Handlers who might be prepared to move on to the next chapter of their lives."
A USPS spokesman said accepting the buyout offer would have "no effect" on pre-existing pension agreements. As is the case in many pension plans, however, USPS employees receive reduced benefits if they retire early.
The Postal Service reported a $3.2 billion loss for the first three months of this year. The recession, declining mail volumes and a congressional mandate to pre-fund retirement health care benefits drove the losses.
The health care mandate is a major liability for the Postal Service, which doesn't have the cash to make a $5.5 billion payment that's due in August. The Postal Service supports itself on sales of postage and mail services, and gets no taxpayer funding.
Earlier this month, the agency announced that it was averting previously-planned closures of rural post offices and delaying consolidations of postal plants. Some 48 plants are still set to be closed or consolidated in July and August, and others could follow in 2013 and 2014.

Why Television Is Trouncing Film at Major Media Companies

Movies are fast becoming the ugly stepchild for major media companies, while television continues to be the cash cow that drives profits.
That's the message that emerges from an analysis conducted by TheWrap of the annual reports of five major media companies in 2011. And it's a dramatic change from the way things used to be, when movies were the straw that stirred Hollywood's drink.
"I remember when international buyers had to be forced to take TV product, and they only wanted movies -- now it's the other way around," Jeff Sagansky, former president of CBS Entertainment and a former senior executive at Sony, told TheWrap.
The latest annual reports show that film has become a very small piece of the overall revenue pie. Television can be counted on to generate roughly half of a company's revenue and up to 80 percent of its operating income, such as at Time Warner. (Sony does not break out its TV and film revenues and thus was not included in the survey.)
Though Paramount has began to ramp up its film production in recent years with hits like "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and "Star Trek," its big screen successes cannot match those of Comedy Central, Nick at Nite, MTV and Nickelodeon. From ad sales to SpongeBob SquarePants merchandise, the margins and opportunities for ancillary revenue are more generous on the television side of the business.
The strength of cable networks like ESPN and the Disney Channel and the affiliate and advertising revenue they generate enabled the Mouse House to emerge relatively unscathed from its recent "John Carter" and "Mars needs moms" debacles.
In a recent presentation at Barclay's Global Technology, Media and Communication Conference, Warner Bros. Television Chief Bruce Rosenblum boasted that Time Warner's small-screen divisions are responsible for about 80 percent of its profits. Although its film side has produced global smashes like "The Dark Knight" and the Harry Potter franchise, it cannot match the combined earnings of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. TV Group. Plus, Warner Bros. hit programming like "The Big Bang Theory" and "Two and Half Men" earns countless millions more in syndication.
Fox News continues to dominate the cable-news ratings, while the company's broadcast network has churned out hits like "Glee" and "Family Guy" that allows them to paper over misfires like "Terra Nova."
NBC may be a ratings also-ran, but MSNBC has carved out a niche for itself in the crowded cable-news space, and overall cable operations have benefited from higher licensing fees. It is easy to see why Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts' first love is cable, not film.
Top executives such as Roberts have publicly acknowledged that programs like "The Voice," not to mention cable subscription fees, are driving earnings.
Speaking at the Sanford Bernstein Strategic decisions conference last week, Roberts said the film business was much more volatile than the television industry and made no secret about why Comcast plunked down $13.8 billion for NBC Universal in 2011. Let's just say it wasn't for the rights to "Jurassic Park" and "Jaws."
"We want to continue to invest in cable programming," Roberts said. "That's why we bought the company."
For television, the increase in the number of cable networks and video streaming services has created fresh opportunities to leverage hit programming through syndication. Plus, content companies like Disney and News Corp. are adept at extracting retransmission fees for the right to carry their channels from cable providers. 
"The value of successful programming has grown exponentially as new platforms have been created," Bill Carroll, vice president and director of programming at Katz Television Group, told TheWrap. "More shows fail than succeed, but when shows succeed the upside is so dramatic that it's sort of the tradeoff."
After recent flops like "Battleship" and "Dark Shadows," it's not hard to see why film is out of favor. Movies are growing more expensive to produce and market, and attendance, at least domestically, has declined in recent years.
"There is no doubt that television has become more important than the film business and has been for some time," Hal Vogel, a media analyst and CEO of Vogel Capital Management, told TheWrap. "There's more stability. With films you can have 'The Avengers' or you can have 'Battleship,' but it's hard to predict."

Movie Theaters Bank On Summer Blockbusters To Boost Ticket Sales

This summer's crop of movie blockbusters are already shattering box office records and driving up attendance at the nation's movie theaters, giving big returns to major Hollywood studios and theater owners before the official start of the summer popcorn movie season this Memorial Day weekend.
Walt Disney Studios' (DIS) "The Avengers" has already surpassed $1 billion in international ticket sales since hitting theaters earlier this month. The superhero flick smashed opening box office records, raking in $200.3 million at North American theaters to beat out the "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2."
"The Avengers" has already become the fourth highest grossing film of all time in the U.S. and Disney's biggest movie ever. It's expected to vanquish its box-office rivals yet again this weekend, beating out the highly-anticipated "Men in Black III" starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin.
While "The Avengers" has held on to the #1 spot for three consecutive weekends, a strong batch of contenders are ready to conquer Marvel's action heroes for good. In addition to "Men in Black III"-- the third installment of the alien-action thriller that is back after a 10-year hiatus -- Universal's "Snow White & The Huntsman" starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth and Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man" are expected to attract big audiences when they open in July, putting pressure on this season's frontrunners "The Avengers" and "The Hunger Games," which has taken in $392.6 million domestically since its release in March.
Comic book heroes and sequels will continue to draw audiences to the theaters according to Matt Atchity, the editor in chief of He says the most profitable (and popular) movies this summer will be "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spiderman," which all cater to a core audience (teenagers, males) and have established their movie prowess in previous years.
Sony (SNE) and Disney are both poised to make profits this summer but the pressure to deliver hangs most heavily on Universal, notes Atchity. Disney's "John Carter" may have flopped with audiences but the venerable movie studio will recoup its losses with "The Avengers" and the soon-to-be released Pixar movie "Brave." Universal has seen its first summer blockbuster "Battleship" tank with theater goers, and its upcoming slate "Snow White & The Huntsman," "The Bourne Legacy," "Ted" and "Savages" could provide a mixed bag for the embattled movie studio, which celebrates 100 years in moviemaking this year. If these movies don't meet industry expectations, Atchity says, there could be a management shake-up at Universal.
A multi-millionaire dollar movie and marketing budget does not always guarantee big success at the theater and several smaller movies could steal some thunder from the major blockbusters. Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," a favorite of critics at the Cannes Film Festival in France, opens on limited release this weekend. The movie centers on two precocious 12-year olds who run away and Anderson employs the ingredients found in many feature films: love, heartbreak, grand pursuits, adventure and death. "Moonrise Kingdom" could be this year's sleeper hit, Atchity says.
This summer's movies could attract record crowds but movie theater owners have seen their receipts fall as Americans continue to cut back on discretionary expenses, like going to the movies. The summer movie season begins in May and ends Labor Day weekend and typically accounts for 40 percent of the industry's annual ticket sales, according to the New York Times.
Last year 543 million people went to the movies and ticket sales totaled $4.38 billion, making it one of the worst years for the movie industry since 1997. Ticket sales for 2012 have rebounded slightly from last year but movie theater owners are still struggling, Atchity says. 3-D ticket sales have boosted profits and theaters are streaming live Broadway and Opera performances to keep attendance up.
"Theaters are trying to do anything they can to get people in the theaters and away from their TVs," Atchity says.

Best Buy founder leaves company following scandal

Shares in the company fell as Mr Schulze said he would leave the company with immediate effect.
The 71-year old had originally planned to step down as chairman later this month and remain a director for another year at the retailer, which is known for its army of “blue shirt” staff who are extremely knowledgable about the products they sell.
Mr Schulze served as Best Buy’s chief executive, chairman and a director for 36 years until 2002 when he became just chairman and a director. However, his position has been under pressure ever since Brian Dunn resigned as chief executive of the company in April following a relationship with a female employee.
It later emerged that Best Buy was investigating whether Mr Dunn had misused company resources during the course of the relationship.
Although the investigation concluded that Mr Dunn had not misused Best Buy’s money, it said he had exercised “extremely poor judgment”.
It also criticised him for failing to notify the board when allegations about the relationship were brought to him last December.
In a statement yesterday, Mr Schulze said: “I continue to believe in Best Buy and its future and care deeply about its customers, employees and shareholders.
“There is an urgent need for Best Buy to reinvigorate growth by reconnecting with today’s customers and building pathways to the next generation of consumers.”
The news saw Best Buy’s shares fall 3.8pc to $19.11.
“That’s a lot of shares suddenly on the market, you have increased supply, that’s going to drive the price down,” said BB&T Capital Markets analyst Anthony Chukumba.
Mr Schulze will be replaced by Hatim Tyabji as the retailer’s chairman.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Massachusetts teen sentenced to prison for texting while driving

A Massachusetts teenager was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison and loss of his license for 15 years for causing a fatal crash by texting while driving.
Before imposing the maximum sentence on Deveau, District Court Judge Stephen Abany said he was sending a message of deterrence to Massachusetts drivers.Aaron Deveau, 18, was convicted of motor vehicle homicide by texting – the first driver in Massachusetts to face such charges, the Boston Globe reported.  Prosecutors said Deveau, who pleaded not guilty, was texting on Feb. 20, 2011, when his vehicle swerved across the center line of a Haverhill, Mass., street and crashed head on into Daniel Bowley’s truck, killing the 55-year-old New Hampshire father of three.  Bowley’s sister, Donna Burleigh, said her brother suffered severe head trauma and lingered in a Boston hospital for 18 days before dying.
Deterrence “really seems to come to play in this case,’’ Abany said, according to the Globe report. “People really want to be safe on the highways.’’ People need to “keep their eyes on the road, keep their eyes on the road.’’
David Teater, senior director of transportation initiative at the National Safety Council, agreed with the ruling and said he believes it’s important to take a hardline approach on cases of texting while driving.
“People can violate these laws and there really isn’t much of a deterrence without examples like this,” Teater told “Clearly, being distracted is an extremely deadly thing that’s going on in this country and people need to understand they just can’t do it.”
Deveau, who was 17 at the time of the crash, was initially charged with motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, using a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle, reading or sending an electronic message, a marked lanes violation and two counts of negligent operation and injury from mobile phone use.
Deveau’s lawyer argued there was no evidence that the crash caused Bowley’s death. In his own testimony, Deveau said he was distracted by the amount of homework he had to do and sent his last text message while parked in the parking lot of the grocery store where he worked. Furthermore, he said he left his phone in the passenger’s seat until after the crash when he called his parents.
Though he insisted he was not texting at the time of the crash and could not remember texting while driving, phone records indicate Deveau sent a text message at 2:34 p.m. and received a response at 2:35 p.m. Police said the crash occurred at 2:35 p.m., reported.
“I made a mistake,’’ Deveau told the judge, according to the Globe. “If I could take it back, I would take it back. I just want to apologize to the family.’’
A survivor of the crash – Bowley’s girlfriend, Luz Roman – said she suffered emotional and physical stress after the crash and death of Bowley, the father of her three children. 
“This has been giving me a lot of pain, there are no words to describe,’’ Roman said, according to the Globe. “Broken leg, broken heart.’’
“We hope this sends a message that it’s not OK to text and drive,’’ Burleigh said, according to the Globe.
Texting while driving is a crime in Washington, D.C., and 38 states, including Massachusetts.
“This is a threat that did not exist just a few years ago, and we’ve never had to understand how being connected to a mobile world was dangerous,” Teater told “Unfortunately now the way we’re beginning to understand the danger of it is by people getting hurt and dying. And that needs to change.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Graduation day tragedy: Ohio crash kills 4 teens

Chuck Crow / The Plain Dealer
Sean Egan embraces Brandon Davies as the Brunswick High School students mourn at the site of a fatal crash on Boston Road in Columbia Township on Sunday.
A car carrying five teenagers went airborne as it sped over railroad tracks early Sunday and crashed, killing the 18-year-old driver hours before his high school graduation and two of his passengers, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. 
A fourth teen, who was airlifted from the scene, died Monday at the Metrohealth Medical Center, the Plain Dealer reported.
Less than 13 hours after the crash, Brunswick High School students left empty seats covered with flowers at their graduation ceremony to remember driver Jeffrey Chaya and Kevin Fox, the student who died Monday. 

The 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier was traveling at a high speed just after midnight when Chaya lost control in Columbia Township in northeast Ohio, troopers at the Elyria post said. The car went airborne and off the right side of the roadway, then swerved across the left side of the road, hit a ditch and tree, then flipped over, according to the troopers' report. "It was very sad," Superintendent Michael Mayell said after the commencement ceremony at the University of Akron. "There were a lot of tears." 

Cleveland's Plain Dealer reported that Chaya and Bartchak were close friends, having first met in fourth grade when Chaya moved to the neighborhood. The two were together "constantly," Chaya's parents told the newspaper. Chaya, front-seat passenger Blake Bartchak, 17, and back-seat passenger Lexi Poerner, 16, died in the crash,according to The Chronicle-Telegram newspaper
Fox, a back-seat passenger, was thrown from the car into a ditch, troopers said. He was flown to Cleveland Metro Health Medical Center where he died Monday.
The fifth person in the car, identified by troopers as 17-year-old Julia Romito, was taken to Southwest General Hospital. The Plain-Dealer said reported she was in stable condition in surgical intensive care. 

Peggy Turbett / The Plain Dealer
Colin Curtis, left and Sobhit Haribakthi, seniors who graduated from Brunswick High School Sunday, grieve during a prayer service at St. Ambrose Church..
'Very popular students'Fox and Chaya were called during the commencement, which included a moment of silence and comments about the tragic accident, Mayell said. More than 600 students graduated Sunday. 
Grief counselors were available to meet with students at the high school later in the day. Memorial services were held Sunday evening at a church and a performing arts center. 
 "We want to allow the families to grieve in peace, and do whatever we can to get through this very tragic situation," Mayell said. 
Troopers were still investigating the crash Sunday. They said the only confirmed factor was unsafe speed, although they were still calculating the car's estimated speed. 

Peggy Turbett / The Plain Dealer
Angel Smith, left, Samantha Aborub, and Charlotte Sigel, friends of Lexi Poerner and graduates of Brunswick High School in 2010, mourn during the candelight service for Brunswick High School victims.
Mayell has known Poerner's family for years, and said the students who were killed were well known at school, taking part in school activities and volunteering. 
"They were very popular students, very well-liked," Mayell said. "We've always been a very tight-knit community," he said. "It's one of those things that happens that I just don't get." 
Chaya, a wide receiver on the Brunswick High football team, was the kind of teen with a lot of "best friends," his mother Paula Chaya told the Plain Dealer.  
"He just loved being around his friends, and he had a ton of people who loved him," she told the newspaper. 
Chaya had posted Saturday on his Twitter account: "Weird to think graduation is tomorrow time does fly big time." 
On Saturday, graduating seniors at another northeast Ohio high school wore special red and black ribbons as a sign of unity and remembrance in the aftermath of the Feb. 27 Chardon school shootings that killed three students and wounded two others. 

Homeowners Can Benefit From Having the Garage Door Replaced

One of the inevitable truths of owning an overhead garage door is that from time to time it is going to require maintenance. At the very least, you’ll want to ensure that the tracks are kept oiled so the door will operate smoothly. Of course, more advanced measures may need to be taken as well. Keeping your garage door in good working order can take up just a little bit of your time over the course of the year. However, you will want a professional to spend some time looking at it as it gets older. When you need to have your garage door replaced, just think about the benefits that you will enjoy once it’s in place.
People passing by your home will certainly notice your new garage door as it’ll make your home look much nicer. Chances are that the original builder or a previous owner has put up an inexpensive door figuring that it will be good enough. If you’ve watched home remodeling shows, though, you’re aware that the style and color of a garage door can really enhance your property. Having a high-quality garage door on your home will come in handy if you want to sell your home in a few years.
As you may already know, a new garage door will also make your home a bit safer to live in. If your garage door doesn’t shut down all of the way after being in use for too many years, then thieves could literally walk right in and steal everything you have stored inside. This is especially important to take note of if your garage door is attached to your home.
It may end up saving your life getting a new garage door. The technology used in more modern garage door systems go a long way towards preventing many types of accidents. In the past, children have been hurt because they were beneath garage doors when they were closing.
Another problem associated with having an older garage door is that it will let excess amounts of air and water into your garage where they could possibly do damage. It’s certainly a good investment to buy a new garage door now to keep your items safe as well as people out of your home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Five bodies found in burned SUV in Ariz. desert

An Arizona sheriff says five bodies found burned beyond recognition inside the shell of a charred SUV are likely the result of drug cartel violence.
The bodies and vehicle were found in the Vekol Valley, a rugged, mountainous desert area that's a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.
The bodies were so badly burned that investigators couldn't immediately determine their gender or ethnicity. While it's unclear whether the victims were from Mexico, the sheriff's office has notified the Mexican Consulate.
"Given all these indicators, you don't have to be a homicide detective to add up all this information," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Saturday.
Border Patrol agent first spotted the white Ford Expedition driving at around 4:30 a.m.
The vehicle disappeared despite an effort by federal and local authorities to track it down. Why the vehicle first drew attention from authorities is unclear.
At daybreak, an agent spotted tracks leading from Interstate 8 into the desert. The vehicle that left the tracks had apparently launched off the highway, going airborne for a short distance before landing in the desert. The tracks continued on for a couple of miles.
Agents could see the smoldering vehicle from a distance through binoculars.
They approached with extinguishers. Inside, they found the bodies — one in the rear passenger seat and four lying in the back cargo compartment. The front seats were empty, Babeu said.
Babeu said investigators will try to determine whether the victims were dead before the SUV was set ablaze or whether they were alive when the fire was started.
"Clearly these people were murdered, but we don't know the manner of death," he said.
The sheriff said the extent of the violence, particularly in the western part of the county — about 35 miles south of Phoenix — is more evidence that drug smuggling north of the border hasn't subsided.
Pinal County deputies were involved in more than 350 high-speed pursuits last year, and Babeu said most of those involved cartel members. There have been shootings, the bodies of murder victims have been left in the desert and just this week, several loads of drugs were confiscated, he said.

Air tanker crash kills 2 at Utah wildfire site

RENO, Nev. (AP) — An air tanker dropping retardant on a remote wildfire along the Utah-Nevada line crashed Sunday afternoon, killing both crew members, authorities said.
The pilots were fighting the 5,000-acre White Rock Fire, which began burning Friday night after a lightning strike in eastern Nevada. The fire spread across the Utah line Saturday night, but most of the blaze remained in Nevada, about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The cause of the 1:45 p.m. MDT crash in the Hamblin Valley area of western Utah was unknown, Bureau of Land Management officials said.
A helicopter crew saw the crash and told ground crews that "it didn't look good," Iron County, Utah, sheriff's Detective Sgt. Jody Edwards told The Salt Lake Tribune.
BLM ground crews and helicopter crew members worked for a time to hold the fire back from the wreckage. Sheriff's deputies drove and hiked for more than an hour to reach the site and confirm that the pilots had died, Edwards said.
The fire later overwhelmed the crash site, Edwards said.
The pilots were flying a P-2V air tanker that is owned by Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Mont. The victims' names weren't immediately released. A medical examiner was helping authorities recover the bodies as of Sunday night.
The fire has been burning in steep, rugged terrain featuring pinion-juniper woodlands, sagebrush and grasses. Crews were pulled off the fire lines after the crash.
"To have them working on the fire lines after this is more than we would like to ask firefighters," said Don Smurthwaite, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. "It's obviously a horrifying and tragic event."
Firefighters didn't expect to have the fire fully contained until Saturday, BLM spokesman Chris Hanefeld said.
Also Sunday afternoon, the crew of another firefighting P-2V air tanker reported it was unable to lower all of its landing gear and land at Minden-Tahoe Airport in western Nevada. That crew had been helping with efforts to fight a wildfire near the airport, which is about 50 miles south of Reno.
Crew members flew the plane for another 90 minutes to burn off fuel before making an emergency landing on a cleared runway, Douglas County sheriff's spokesman Jim Halsey said.
The aircraft sustained significant damage after it slid off the runway, but both crew members escaped injury, he said.
Sunday's incidents come several months after a group of Western senators questioned whether theForest Service was moving quickly enough to build up and replace the fleet of aging planes that dropfire retardant on wildfires.
The agency hires a mix of large and small airplanes and helicopters each year to fight wildfires. They are generally privately owned and work under contract.
Retardant dropped from planes is typically used to bolster a line cut by firefighters on the edge of a fire, and water dropped from helicopters is usually used to cool hotspots within a fire.
The current fleet is made up of Lockheed P-2Vs, anti-submarine patrol planes dating to the 1950s that have been modified with jets to supplement the piston engines. More than half are due to retire in 10 years.
The number of large aircraft has steadily dwindled since 2004, when the Forest Service grounded 33 air tankers after a number of high-profile crashes.
In March, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked the Government Accountability Office to evaluate whether the Forest Service has done a good job of analyzing the types and numbers of aircraft needed, the cheapest way to get them, new technologies and where the planes will be based.

17 Annoying Things People Do On Facebook

Facebook is a virtual home that is getting real. People are migrating to that home and they’re moving in droves. Facebook has something for everyone and everyone for something. Everybody, yes everybody is there, with all their annoying stuff as well.
Tag here, tag there. What’s all that for huh?
Do you think it’s easy to brush off when a friend tags you in a super embarrassing shot of you especially when you did those stupid things you didn’t have to worry about way back in high school? Or when they show your struggle with beauty at high school until you grew this long hair. Nothing hurts worse than the constant notification, something like “Henry commented on a photo of you.” You think, “Gosh! So he’s seen me that way.” I’m so sad. If you wanted the picture on FB you'd post it yourself, right?

Using the lol acronym too much…   lol.
Did people forget what lol stands for? You see this and you think that dude’s losing it. “I’m in a café”, “I hate”, “At a friend’s funeral... lol”. What’s up? Is it a period at the end of every sentence? You use lol as a verb, a noun, an adverb; a past-perfect pronoun and you've even dangled its participle. You're an lol addict. But the thing is, you just throw it in there to let everyone know that what you are saying is a joke. LOL means Laughing Out Loud. So next time you’re in a café or a funeral, please don’t laugh out loud.

The “I’m in the bathroom. Undressing. Removing my ...’kind of posts’.
Heard of twitter? Where you can let people know what you’re doing every second? The URL is, free and quick registration, absolute fun getting people to follow you, and you can scribble those posts in few words. Goodbye, see you soon.

Putting absolutely nothing on your profile.
You telling me your real name is Rock Shake’EmOff Baby, your hometown is Burma Camp and you live in Kumasi and you are related to Prissy ILuvChocolate4fan . Seriously, are we here to joke? Whiles some people are really using Facebook as a tool to brand themselves, others are just exhibiting their ignorance.

Older people interfering with flow, and religious leaders too.
Hak, 21, posts “Loved last night. Best night out ever. And the girls wow! #$#@!”. Nit, 47, comments, “Wise up. Don’t be like your dad in the 80s.” Ha-ha, this member of the older generation cut off all comments. All I can do is like your post Hak.

Miss. Attention-Craving Drama Queen
This updater needs to make sure people are worried or concerned about her at all times, so she updates her Facebook status with things that beg people to respond with "What happened?" or "Are you all right?" And instead of having a real problem, she's baited you into responding because "her roommate didn't say hi to her this morning." The problem with this annoying updater is after she cries wolf with a few of these faux problems, she could update her Facebook with "I'm in the process of getting stabbed in the face, someone please help me!" and you'll a) not believe her or b) be the one who's doing the stabbing.

"It's Complicated"
Why is it complicated? It’s complicated…because you’re married? Have unresolved daddy issues? An inept womanizer? The only legitimate answer to this question is, it’s complicated because the divorce proceedings you are involved in are not moving along as quickly as you’d like, in which case, YOU’RE SOO SINGLE! But if you still think your relationship is so complicated that you have to identify it as such on your Facebook profile, get off Facebook and go fix your relationship.

This is where one of your friends or someone you know leaves there account signed into unattended, you then hop onto their computer and enter a really stupid or rude message into the status bar and they end up changing their entire friend’s profile.

Poke you non stop
Some people must have nothing else to do because they log on to Facebook and then sit there for hours poking their friends. In a lot of cases this is non-stop and can go on for hours.If their friend is not poking them back then they should not continue to constantly poke that person. Even if the friend does poke back, what is the point of keeping this poking session going for the next hour?

Girls taking pouty faced pictures of themselves 
We’ll never be free from these girls. Somehow, they think they’re twice as attractive with this face. When digital cameras came out, so did the lips & throwing the peace sign. I thought it was just a phase, now I know the awful truth. Just to keep from losing my mind, I imagine they’ve just ate some sour oranges just before they snapped the pic. Either that or the sour taste of their own self-image has forever pickled their palette. Gentlemen, if you ever find yourself about to be in a picture with one of these girls, it is your civic duty to back out.

Adored on Facebook, ignored in life
Your friends like your status updates, your wall is full of posts, and your photos are littered with comments because you’re always updating with some kind of catchy and exotic phrases, but try making a phone call or text message to any number of these people and you’d think they were ignoring you. Newsflash; THEY ARE. Because in real life you some boring ignored character who feeds on Facebook to feel good about yourself. Stop misleading yourself you are not any celebrity. 

Misuse of the Like button
When someone says that a friend or family member has passed away it is usually recommended to comment by saying something like ‘my deepest condolence’ and not select the Like button.

They Let Their idiocies Show
What is it about Facebook that makes even cool, down-to-earth people post quotes like "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog," write status updates that read, "I am not a SWAG KING but KING OF THE SWAG," and upload photos of themselves with wannabe-model gazes that they obviously took in the bathroom mirror? Duh!! It’s the bathroom, that’s where all the nasty stuff goes on!! Maybe they think it's funny or impressive, but the behavior only makes us roll our eyes.

Random song lyrics in the news feed.
It’s actually ok some days if you just don’t have anything to say on Facebook. Maybe you just want to check in and see how your friends are doing. There’s nothing wrong with that, not at all. Some people it appears, feel they must share something so if they have nothing happening, they just put up some random song lyric that pops into their head. I’m looking at your updates, curious about how your day is going but instead, you’ve posted the entire first verse of GRENADE. In fact it took so many posts to get your lyrics out to the world that it pushed all of the other updates off the first page of my news feed.

Update Facebook profile when you’re supposedly ill 
How many times have we seen it? Someone calls the lecturer in the morning pretending to be sick and then updates their Facebook profile minute-by-minute throughout the day, documenting a day of ice cream, fried rice, movies and jumping on the bed. Get dressed and go for lectures because Prof. Kofi G.  is your friend on Facebook, that’s  if you’ve forgotten or else you’ll probably miss an impromptu mid-sem. And it’d be your own fault for adding your lecturer to be your friend on Facebook.

Unwanted Groups
One of Facebook’s more recent improvements allows other users to make their friends members of groups. When I read about Mark Zuckerberg himself getting stealthily included in a NAMBLA group, I thought it would have brought an end to this, but I recently realized that I have been added by my wannabe friends to over 20 Movement pages. The recent one being “The Sweet Mistake Movement” which I have no idea what it’s about. 

Upload drunken pictures the morning after
Have a little decency for yourself. If you go out for a big one on a Wednesday night and you happen to lose it, posting humiliating photos of you & your friends on Thursday morning is a recipe for disaster. Because when you go for that job interview on Thursday your interviewees might want to ask permission and check your Facebook profile and imagine them seeing pictures of you seriously drunk making a fool out of yourself. Yeah right we know what will happen.