Thursday, February 28, 2013

Connecticut Toddlers Could Have Stopped Murderous Grandmother Had They Been Armed, NRA Says

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- A mentally ill Connecticut woman killed her two grandsons Tuesday afternoon and then turned the gun on herself, according to state police. Debra Denison, 47, suffered from bipolar disorder and other mental health problems. This tragedy, to many, further illustrates the link between a faulty mental health system and overly lenient regulations for owning and carrying firearms. They cite the countless shooting deaths that have marred American communities over the last several months. But Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), stood by his controversial statement that preventing tragedies such as these requires more "good guys with guns." His talking points were repeated this week by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a contentious senate hearing about reinstating assault rifle bans.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yahoo CEO Ends Telecommuting, Saying Internet Kills Interpersonal Communication

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who famously returned to work just two weeks after giving birth to her son, made news again Monday by issuing an edict that ends the company's telecommuting policies. The memo sent by Jackie Reses, Yahoo's human resources director, ordered employees who work remotely to return to their physical office locations or quit. The Internet pioneer's announcement told workers that "being at Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices." It also reminded those employees that social networking, instant messaging and other electronic communications have actually stifled interpersonal relationships, and serve to alienate people from meaningful exchanges.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Contrite Oscars Producers Had 'No Idea Seth MacFarlane Would Act Like Seth MacFarlane'

Photo courtesy AP
SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Sunday night marked the debut of multi-faceted animator, voice actor and crooner Seth MacFarlane as host of Hollywood's most prestigious event, the Academy Awards. In an evening that famously parades the elite of the film industry's winners and losers, MacFarlane was counted among the victors, according to Nielsen ratings for the Oscars telecast. An average of 40.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The figures represented a modest two-percent increase from last year, when Billy Crystal returned to host, but the highest numbers since 2010. Nielsen analysts attributed the bump to an 11-percent increase among viewers 18 to 49, the demographic most important to advertisers -- and most likely to consider themselves fans of MacFarlane's work. Despite the ratings, however, criticism of MacFarlane was widespread. His efforts were blasted as inappropriate, offensive, sexist and antagonistic. On Monday, a spokesperson for Academy President Hawk Koch apologized and told dejected fans, "We had no idea Seth MacFarlane would act like Seth MacFarlane. We are deeply sorry to all those offended by Mr. MacFarlane's inappropriate Seth MacFarlane humor."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Kills Girlfriend for Failing Voight-Kampff Test

Voight-Kampff Machine
SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius is suspected of killing his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, after claiming she failed something called a Voight-Kampff test. Police psychologists have been brought into the investigation, and are desperately trying to figure out what a Voight-Kampff test is or does. The celebrated South African couple, according to their public Twitter posts, were anticipating a romantic Valentine's Day. Steenkamp, 29, encouraged her followers to "get excited" about the holiday. But Pistorius' tweets turned more ominous, boasting of his marksmanship at a shooting range. The double-amputee Olympian issued no public statement, but authorities have said he is cooperating with the investigation. They also admitted that Pistorius, 26, seems to believe -- and has alluded to being -- some sort of government agent on a clandestine mission to detect potentially harmful androids, which he calls "replicants," manufactured by a large technology company in Johannesburg.

Inspired Valentine's Day Events for Lonely Singles

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- If you live in Bennington Vale and fall into that odd one percent of the city's unwed yet heterosexual residents, then February 14 can present an understandably bleak outlook. St. Valentine would probably agree. According to legend, Valentine refused to deny Christ at the exhortations of Emperor Claudius in the year 280. For this, he had his head lopped off. But not before he restored hearing and sight to the jailer's daughter. Hell of a guy. Has that "Green Mile" feel to it. It's an inspiring story; deeds most worthy of canonization. But that's not why so many people will be reading "The Bell Jar" by candlelight alone this evening. No, Esther Howland is why. You see, back in 1847, this woman took what most considered to be another minor day of veneration and began mass producing embossed paper-lace hearts, the kind she'd seen in Europe, using the resources of her father's book and stationery store in Worcester, Mass. Esther Howland is why so many people, unlike the saint's executioners, will not be getting Valentine's head tonight. Fortunately, we at The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript have reached out across the community to find some lovely things to fill in that hole where your heart should have been. It's better than sticking your head in an oven, we promise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday Ritual Leads to Confrontations

"Normally, when you politely tell a person she has something on her face, she discreetly wipes it away and thanks you. Not so much on Ash Wednesday, it turns out." -- Area resident involved in altercation.

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Larger-than-usual gatherings of Catholics were celebrating Ash Wednesday in Bennington Vale today, marking not only the holiday but also the last Mass that departing Pope Benedict XVI will be presiding over. Unfortunately, the Ash Wednesday rituals -- largely unfamiliar to the community's predominantly Evangelical Protestant population -- led to confusion and physical confrontations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

North Korea's Third Nuclear Test Strikes Fear Among Underground Tunnel-Dwelling Beings

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Ambitious North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made good on his threat to detonate a nuclear weapon Tuesday in the country's third underground test, officials and experts said. The isolated and bellicose country had warned the world of its plans to carry out new tests last month in a venomous statement that established the recently installed ruler's close alliance to the antagonizing policies of his father, Kim Jong-il. North Korea's provocative action managed to rattle nerves in Northeast Asia, and further exacerbated international tensions. The test drew condemnation and calls for swift action from NATO members. But despite the latest exhibition, North Korea has yet to demonstrate its ability to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload to the western shores of the United States, a constantly referenced target. For millions of underground tunnel-dwelling populations, however, the threat posed by the rogue nation's military buildup is very real.

Christopher Dorner's Success Inspires Would-be Killers to Get Police Training

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The hunt across Southern California for rampaging ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner took a dramatic turn Tuesday after the fugitive allegedly shot and wounded two sheriff's deputies during firefight in Big Bear, a mountain resort east of Los Angeles. The incident occurred after Dorner resurfaced from hiding to burglarize an area home, tie up the owners and abscond with their pickup truck. Authorities have canvassed numerous locations throughout the state in search of Dorner, pursuing more than 1,000 leads from witnesses about his possible whereabouts. Not only is Dorner a highly trained police officer, he is also a decorated member of the Armed Forces. Last week, Dorner published an 11,000-word manifesto in which he named members of the LAPD as targets in his plot to seek revenge for being discharged from the force in 2008. Dorner has been unusually successful in evading detection and capture, due in large part to his particular experience with and intimate knowledge of police procedures. As a result, many would-be murderers have said they now plan to enlist in the police force to hone their skills and advance their goals.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vatican Hires Former Penn State Officials to Select Pope Benedict's Successor

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- In an unexpected development Monday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will be retiring at the end of the month, marking the first papal resignation is nearly 600 years. The pope's letter shocked world leaders, Vatican experts and even his closest aides. Although a rare occurrence, there are no prohibitions in Canon Law -- the Catholic Church's governing code -- preventing a pope from abdicating his throne. Canon Law requires only that the pope quit of his own accord and publish his intentions publicly to validate the move. But in a time of deep schisms within the Church -- over conservative, outdated beliefs and myriad scandals -- those responsible for maintaining the Petrine ministry say they will act quickly to find a worthy successor to "steer the ship of Saint Peter" away from the rocky shores toward which it has been heading for over a decade. Several priests have already resigned or been prosecuted for their roles in countless child sex abuse cases. Pope Benedict himself experienced great difficulty in diffusing the situations. For that reason, Vatican officials on Monday announced the equally surprising move of hiring former Penn State University administrators to oversee the selection process for Benedict's replacement.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

California Town Tries Inviting Christopher Dorner to a Picnic

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Lago, Calif., a small town near Mono Lake, has taken the unorthodox step of inviting ex-LAPD murder suspect Christopher Dorner to a picnic. Despite aggressive efforts by many police departments to hunt down Dorner, few results have been produced. Residents admit feeling frightened and inadequately protected, even with the increased police presence and concentration of tactical resources. On Saturday, actor Charlie Sheen made the unusual move of imploring Dorner to call him directly. "You mentioned me in your manifesto, so thank you for your kind words. I am urging you to call me," Sheen said in a video posted on TMZ. "Let's figure out together how to end this thing." Following Sheen's more supportive and peaceful tactic, the mayor of Lago directed every member of his community to decorate the city and prepare an elaborate picnic to lure Dorner out of hiding.

"Believe it or not, this isn't the first time we've had to do something like this out of frustration," said Mayor Mordecai Curtis. "But it worked out well when our forebears tried it back in the late 1800s."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wayne LaPierre Attacks Hasbro for Excluding NRA-Sponsored Monopoly Piece from Contest

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Riding the wave of recent media attention -- and backlash -- NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre put his organization back into the news Friday, fearing being overshadowed by the heavy coverage of winter storms, a new PlayStation announcement, Justin Bieber's SNL appearance and a psychotic, murderous ex-LAPD officer on the rampage throughout Southern California, who remains the subject of a regional manhunt. When LaPierre called the impromptu press conference, reporters expected the NRA to issue a call for armed citizens to help take down Christopher Dorner, the 33-year-old former Los Angeles Police officer and Navy reservist who killed two people this week and has threatened 12 others in a bizarre revenge plot outlined in a manifesto he published about his discharge from the force in 2008. But LaPierre's outrage was instead aimed at game maker Hasbro for excluding the NRA's concept for a new Monopoly token.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Postal Service Proposes New Paperless Mail System, Ditches Saturday Delivery

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Hoping to staunch the hemorrhaging cash flow that caused a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced plans this week to eliminate Saturday delivery services for everything except packages. On Wednesday, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe declared the agency's financial condition "urgent." Donahoe cited the dramatic reliance upon the Internet for correspondence and bill paying. Electronic communications have yielded a targeted efficiency and immediacy with which the USPS will never again be able to compete. But the USPS is preparing to launch its own "paperless" service that will combine the convenience and mobility of technology with the personalized touch of traditional mail.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IHOP Gives Away Syrupy, Buttery Pancakes to Support Children's Health

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is offering a free stack of flapjacks Wednesday to patrons across the country as part of its National Pancake Day celebration. Although the food is free, the restaurant implores customers to leave a donation for Children's Miracle Networks. According to IHOP's website, monies raised for Children's Miracle Networks support the hospital's mission to save and improve the lives of children. The iconic restaurant hopes to achieve this goal by giving away stacks of sugary, fatty cakes drowning in butter and gallons of gooey, sweet syrup. Despite the annual goodwill gesture, police in San Narciso call the event a logistical nightmare that requires an increased presence for crowd control. Last year, an influx of hungry homeless children flocked to the restaurant, disrupting IHOP's mission of helping the nation's impoverished and ailing youth.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

NRA Now Supports Gun Control Legislation after White House Releases Photo of Armed Obama

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- In another attempt to solidify bipartisan support for tougher gun control measures amid escalating incidents of mass shootings, the White House released a photograph Saturday of President Obama firing a shotgun at Camp David. The intended message seemed to suggest that Obama not only supports Second Amendment freedoms but also enjoys squeezing off a few rounds himself, which would make his rally for increased controls on firearms permitting and heightened weapons restrictions more palatable to conservatives. The reaction to the photo, however, was more controversial than administration officials had expected. Skeptics scoffed, saying that one carefully orchestrated photo couldn't erase "a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun control scheme imaginable." Comedians seized the opportunity to poke fun at the president. But the biggest surprise came from the National Rifle Association (NRA). In a stark about-face, the powerful gun lobby said the image of America's first black president armed to the teeth had inspired its members to reconsider their historic opposition to gun control. The NRA is now lobbying to ban certain types of weapons -- and their owners.

Friday, February 1, 2013

California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren Wants to Protect Criminals

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- California congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) has pulled out all the stops to defend America's growing population of technology criminals. Citing the need for new legislation, she proposed a bill to introduce "Aaron's Law," which would allow people to break the Terms of Service used by online paid service providers without any legal repercussions. Most online providers require consumers to agree to what were once binding terms and conditions, designed to protect their intellectual property. The namesake and basis for this new law, which would essentially amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, is Aaron Swartz, a young man who recently committed suicide while under indictment by the federal government for wire and computer fraud. The federal government invoked the CFAA as the basis for Swartz's indictment.

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