Friday, September 28, 2012

Romney Drops in Polls as Voters Misunderstand Obama's Summons to Reject Extremism

Photo courtesy AP (c) 2012
SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday admonished the U.N. General Assembly to take a firm stance against violence and extremism, arguing that religious rights and free speech must be upheld as global responsibilities and not merely U.S. obligations. In an effort to stress the urgency of suppressing deadly protests that have erupted over perceived anti-Islamic sentiment, the president said "the impulse towards intolerance and violence" will not be contained if allowed to flourish over time. Mr. Obama underscored his message with examples of ongoing racial inequalities, abuses of women's rights, theocratic discrimination against religious diversity, despots who neglect or massacre their people to protect cronies and regime-friendly elites, and the inevitable cycles of sectarian violence likely to rise in the wake. Although the president's speech was delivered to world leaders, and was meant to address specific crises in the Arab world, tentative Republican voters confused Obama's descriptions of Syria, Egypt and Libya with Mitt Romney's campaign platform. The GOP challenger's polling numbers plummeted significantly as a result, according to reports Friday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Britain in Crisis as Pork Shortage Looms

"Millions will perish if we can't produce enough bacon to mask the disgusting flavor and rubbery texture of the common British diet." -- PM David Cameron

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- With a global drought driving up feed costs, U.K. pig farmers are struggling to stave off the sharp decline in sow herds, which is threatening a worldwide pork shortage in the coming year. Insufficient rainfall across the United States and Eastern Europe has led to severely arid conditions with international repercussions. As a result, global food prices are soaring to record levels, forcing farmers to reduce the size of their herds. In Poland, the swine population has already dwindled by 9.6 percent. In Germany, by 1.3 percent. The National Pig Association in Britain called the looming shortage "unavoidable," with the drought continuing to blaze through corn, wheat and soybean crops. And the trend, the association says, is being mirrored across the world. While the news for pork-loving foodies is bleak, to millions of Britons it's dire. "Without bacon, at least two-thirds of England's population will die of starvation within the next three years," a statement from Britain's Department of Health warned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FEC Filings Show Obama with Double the Campaign Staff at Same Cost -- Romney Announces Plans to Outsource

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Mitt Romney continues to face challenges on his uphill battle toward the 2012 presidency. His staggering unlikability and open disdain for nearly half of America's citizens have made it difficult to entice the tax-dodging volunteers he desperately needs to run ground support for the campaign. Although he eventually clinched the GOP nomination, Romney's own party presented him with resistance and obstacles to overcome throughout the process. He's spent over five months ramping up his staff to match the colossal operation President Obama organized across the nation. Now, the GOP challenger seems to have caught up, but only by monetary standards. Romney spent $4.04 million on payroll, closely approaching Obama's $4.37 million, according to statements filed with the Federal Election Commission last week. But while Obama's cash bought him 901 workers, Romney managed only 403. The figures would seem to lend credence to Obama's claims of creating jobs, which in this case doubled the number of positions filled by Romney. Demonstrating the strategic business thinking for which he is famed, Romney one-upped the president Tuesday by announcing his intentions to outsource a number of his campaign's call center and mass mailing positions to lower-cost contractors in India and China.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Man Mauled by Tiger in Bronx Zoo after Apple Maps Mistakes Cage for Restroom

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Despite the long lines, celebratory mood and overall contentment greeting the arrival of Apple's new iPhone 5, critics and even diehard users found themselves grumbling at certain features. The most notable complaint stemmed from the bumbling and error-prone Apple Maps application, a homegrown replacement for the once ubiquitous and reliable Google Maps. Not only does the new app lack the popular features of its predecessor, including public transit directions, traffic data and street view images, the Apple version is plagued by geographical errors and missing information. For example, a farm is listed as an airport, roads simply end in the middle of no man's land, an entire city has been replaced with an ocean, and literary buffs seeking out Shakespeare's birthplace will find instead a hospital. But none of these glitches rival the peril one zoogoer in New York faced Friday as a result of Apple Maps, which confused a tiger cage for a public restroom.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Monty Python Actor Denies Allegations of Religious Hate Crimes

Terry Jones in "Life of Brian" 1979
SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Responding to the outrage ignited by the anti-Islamic film "Innocence of Muslims," Egyptian authorities on Tuesday ordered the arrests of Terry Jones and seven Coptic Christians for their alleged involvement in the video's production. The movie's offensive portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad has led to protests across the Middle East and North Africa. At the U.S. Consulate in Libya, the ambassador and several other staff members were killed by well-equipped gunmen during the rioting. Prosecutors in Egypt demanded the suspects be extradited to the Egyptian government for trial. Their statement also indicated that convictions could be punishable by death. Officials in the United States have not responded to the request but seem unlikely to comply. In the United Kingdom, however, British authorities refused to hand over Terry Jones, whom they described as a "national treasure" for his work with the storied comedy team, Monty Python.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chick-fil-A Stops Funding Anti-Gay Groups, Chooses Almighty Dollar over The Almighty

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- On July 18, Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy sparked an uproar when he confirmed the company's support of an undeniable anti-LGBT philosophy, writing in a blog post: "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about." In response, Christian conservatives urged their supporters to frequent Chick-fil-A restaurants while gay rights protesters staged demonstrations at chains across the nation. On Wednesday, however, the company formally announced plans to retreat from the debate and cease funding groups with anti-gay agendas. "We had a tough decision to make," Cathy said in a press statement. "Do we support The Almighty or the Almighty Dollar? At the end of the day, after much introspection and prayer, it seemed obvious that God Himself would've chosen the dollar. How else do you explain tithes, collection plates, fundraisers, church tax shelters, retail-based holidays and Bain Capital? God created money, so He must want us to embrace it as with all His creations."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

British School Officials Defend Video Cameras in Bathrooms

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- On Wednesday of last week, privacy activists in the United Kingdom identified more than 200 high schools across Great Britain that have installed video surveillance cameras in toilets and locker rooms. Much of the evidence collected for the scathing report was obtained through freedom-of-information requests. One school featured prominently in the study, King Ecgbert School in Sheffield, was discovered to have cameras mounted in all 12 bathrooms on the grounds. Representatives from Big Brother Watch, the organization responsible for the research, urged the British government to consider implementing greater regulations over the use of surveillance systems or creating a watchdog group to assure the protection of students' privacy. "Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage," a spokesperson for Big Brother Watch said. But education officials have vigorously defended the cameras, which were instituted in a joint effort with the Catholic Church, to prevent toilet-related injuries -- a leading cause of death in England.

Friday, September 14, 2012

U.S. Braces for More Religious Violence as 'The Master' Hits Theaters

Scientologists Could Declare Jihad and Attack Theaters over Offensive Film

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The organized effort and ferocity of the September 11 attacks against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, caught the Obama administration by surprise. Well-armed extremists stormed the compound Tuesday killing two former Navy SEALS, an information management officer, and respected Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The violence arose during protests against the anti-Islamic film "Innocence of Muslims," which depicts the Prophet Muhammad in an insulting light. Several Libyan security guards were also slain in the hours-long assault. After trailers for "Innocence of Muslims" went viral throughout Islamic countries via YouTube, violent demonstrations occurred in Egypt and Yemen. The United States put all of its diplomatic missions abroad on high alert, bracing for the eruption of more fighting. However, as another religiously offensive film debuted Friday, security agencies began implementing similar precautions inside the country to protect citizens from potential rioting or military style attacks launched by well-equipped, well-funded Scientologist gunmen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Write-in Presidential Candidate F. Chester Greene Knows What War is Good For: America

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- With the 2012 presidential election just weeks away, and with Mitt Romney's popularity waning among Republican voters, conservative write-in candidate F. Chester Greene has shifted his campaign into high gear. The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript recently acquired documents illustrating Greene's plans for economic stimulus should he win the presidency. The document starts with a missive from Greene stating, "The current president thinks legalizing marijuana can help to build the economy. We all know this because he keeps courting potheads like that Kumar fellow, who's also a terrorist. Well, I've got a better plan." Simply put, Greene's plan is for America to declare war on China.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Day of Silence and Reflection to Honor Those Lost

Monday, September 10, 2012

Surrounded by FBI Officials, BlueToad CEO Admits Apple IDs Stolen from His Company

ORLANDO, Fla. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- During the first week of September, AntiSec -- an offshoot of the Anonymous hacker collective -- published over one million stolen Apple user IDs on the open web. Having one's personal information released publicly across the Internet would be frightening enough, but initial reports citing an FBI agent's laptop as the source of the compromised data elevated the concerns to legitimate panic. Security expert Peter Kruse validated the authenticity of the personal information in a tweet dated September 4: "Apple UDID leak is real. I have confirmed three of my devices in the leaked data." What remained unclear at the time were AntiSec's claims that the IDs had been discovered and subsequently pilfered from a federal agency. Why the FBI would have an extensive collection of device identifiers lingers as the most disturbing question in the investigation. On Monday, however, a software company based in Florida admitted the stolen profiles had come from its databases. Surrounded by a cadre of armed FBI agents in a show of support and contrition, BlueToad Inc. CEO Paul DeHart said, "We want to apologize, announce what happened and set the record straight."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lars von Trier Promises Even More Disturbing Unsimulated Sex Scenes in Next Film 'Oedipus Wrecks'

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Danish director Lars von Trier is once again courting controversy with his forthcoming film "Nymphomaniac," a sexually explicit tale of eroticism. The story centers on the promiscuous life of a young woman who reveals her libidinous escapades to a man (played by Stellan Skarsgard) after he rescues her from an attack in an alley. The director's promise to shoot the lurid details of the protagonist's past with "unsimulated" sex scenes has created much of the buzz surrounding the movie's release. Adding fuel to that fire were several statements made to the press by Shia LaBeouf, who jumped at the chance to take what he described as a transformative role. "It's going to be a wild movie," the actor told MTV. "There's a disclaimer at the top of the script that basically says we're [having sex] for real. Everything that is illegal, we'll shoot in blurred images. Other than that, everything is happening." The revelation has led to harsh criticism of von Trier as a salacious and gratuitous filmmaker who uses the word "art" to obscure what's little more than hardcore pornography. But in response to those complaints, von Trier coyly suggested that "Nymphomaniac" would be a "Disney movie" compared to his next release -- a graphically rendered retelling of Oedipus featuring real-life mother and son actors.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Republicans Mock Obama's Planned 'Empty Chair' Routines at DNC

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- As Paul Ryan made the campaign rounds Tuesday in Ohio, a battleground state where GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues to trail an empty chair in polls, he focused his attacks on the Democratic National Convention rather than the current administration's handling of the economy. Ryan's first target was former President Jimmy Carter, for whom President Obama has planned a tribute. Ryan reminded his base of Carter's abysmal record in office, which included the creation of wasteful and needless agencies such as the Department of Education, Carter's role in destroying Three Mile Island to protect his ties to greedy oil interests, Carter's well-documented atheism and anti-human rights stances, Carter's work with OPEC to bring about a crippling energy crisis, and Carter's involvement in causing the eruption of Mount St. Helens. But the majority of Ryan's speech chided the "ridiculous stunts" Obama aides have planned in response to Clint Eastwood's improvisational empty chair skit.

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