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10 Before and After Pictures You Have to See To Believe

From “Lame room.”

Al01

To “Game room!”Al02

From “A room not even fit for a teddy bear…”

An01

To “A room fit for a king! (or a Ninja!)”

An02

Content sponsored by Alure Home Improvements

From “A great home office… If you’re a termite!”

Be01

To “Every day I toast to how awesome my home office looks!”

Be02

From “Let’s go to the basement and have a drink! Filled with ice! And insulation droppings!”

Du01

To “Let’s go to the basement and stay there, forever!”

Du02

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From “Well, at least there’s a window.”

Ko01

To “Who needs a stupid window?!”

Ko02

From “This is where we stick this hockey game.”

Sh01

To “This is where we watch all the hockey games!”

Sh02

Content sponsored by Alure Home Improvements

From “Room for improvement…”

Si01

To “Room for enjoyment!”

Si02

From “The kids are NEVER to play down there!”

Vi01

To “The kids LOVE to play down there!”

Vi02

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From “Crappy hole-in-the-wall…”

Wi01

To “Cool hole-in-the-wall!”

Wi02

From “Terrible waste of space.”

Zu01

To “Wonderful way to waste time!”

Zu02

 

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Pink Slip – April ’13

[colored_box color=”red”]Dennis Rodman

We know that Dennis Rodman could dribble and talk at the same time, at least on the basketball court. Nicknamed “The Worm,” he is an NBA Hall of Famer after all. But when this cross-dressing, tattooed and body-pierced bizarro dude recently showed up in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang alongside dictator Kim Jon Un (both men in black), he drew a foul call heard ’round the world. The North Korean strongman is test-firing missiles, aiming at us, and threatening to start nuclear war while his own people literally starve. Yet Rodman tells Kim: “You have a friend for life.” So that proves the age-old adage: with friends like that, who needs enemies? Look, we know the Knicks need a power forward to boost their defense, but maybe even Jimmy Dolan would agree that this Worm has turned.

Margaret Sitte

What’s going on in North Dakota? State Sen. Margaret Sitte, a Republican, sponsored a bill to amend the state’s constitution by giving human embryos legal protection—and it will be on the ballot in 2014. By her thinking, the zygotes have constitutional rights. What’s next for them? Driver’s licenses? Voter registration? Jury duty? It’s amazing that conservative zealots like her and her colleagues in Fargo don’t mind messing with women’s wombs but turn a deaf ear to making life better for those who are actually born, perhaps providing improved public safety, increased infrastructure investment, more affordable health care, etc., etc. The “Roughrider State” has only one abortion clinic, and according to Huffington Post, it’s the worst state in the country for women. Sitte must be a misogynist—she’s taking power away from a mother and giving it to a fetus.

John Pistole

Interesting coincidence that John Pistole, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, has a name that sounds like a gun, considering his agency’s fixation on weapons. But his decisions about what to confiscate seem rather illogical. The 9/11 terrorists used box-cutters. The TSA has collected passengers’ pocketknives, corkscrews and even snow globes. The TSA permits scissors, knitting needles and screwdrivers. Now Pistole wants to let people board with knives less than 2.36 inches long, hockey sticks and golf clubs. Yet still no soda cans or shampoos. Chalk up a small victory for the Swiss Army Knife and a defeat for common sense. Who says a putter can’t kill?

Matt Lauer

NBC’s “Today Show” hasn’t been the same since J. Fred Muggs was their mascot. The chimpanzee made morning television must-see TV. But these days, should we decide to tune in, we have to endure that boring Matt Lauer, who is as appealing as a used banana peel. Last year he signed a contract reportedly worth $25 million a year. That’s not chimp change. Is he worth it? Certainly Ann Curry, his co-host that he allegedly threw under the bus because the “chemistry” wasn’t right, would beg to differ—if she could get a word in edgewise. The only network people benefitting from his hogging the airwaves are the rival producers of “Good Morning America.” Lauer should quit monkeying around.

Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell

The nation is looking for Congressional leadership on gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre. But instead of doing the right thing for the country, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican, both bow to the NRA juggernaut. Reid pulls the assault weapons ban from the basic bill, saying he didn’t have the votes to ensure its passage. McConnell hopes he can exploit the issue to take over the Senate in November. Both Senators can do the math—if they don’t count the 20 murdered children and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, let alone the other innocent people who’ve lost their lives to gun violence since December—seven Senators are retiring, and 35 Senate seats are up for grabs. Both leaders know that public opinion has swung behind the ban and in favor of expanded background checks of gun buyers. After all, the ban was the law of the land from 1994-2004. But rather than take on the unpopular gun industry, Reid has cowardly ceded the debate to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose $12 million ad blitz will target Democratic Senators in rural states with gun-owners who are vulnerable to NRA propaganda. If Reid frames the issue properly so law-abiding gun owners are reassured, he has a chance to stop the rampage and make America a safer place. McConnell should remember the children who were shot to death. It’s a good thing these two spineless cowards weren’t in Congress when our country was fighting slavery.

Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris

The 86-year-old “playboy” really does give a new dimension to the term “dirty old man.” Hugh Hefner just got married for the third time to Crystal Harris, who is 26. With their nuptials, the couple makes a mockery of marriage equality. That the media give them any notice at all for their nutty nuptials is pathetic. Why can’t Hef find a cave in the Himalayas to meditate in? If anybody should know something about the mind-body duality, it should be him, but the only wisdom he’s acquired is that of pubescence, not transcendence. He tells the April issue of Esquire magazine that he’s slept with thousands of women but he never cheated on his wife “when I was married.” Does he want a medal on his satin bathrobe? We don’t envy Harris her career move—in or out of the honeymoon bed. The sooner we forget Hef and her, the better.

Justin Bieber

The Biebs still has his hordes of girls behind him, but now that this white-bread teenage heartthrob has turned 19, his act is getting a little old. Since he broke up with singer-actress Selena Gomez, he’s been acting out in public. Maybe he’s miffed because she appeared in a video for Dustin Tavella’s “Everybody Knows (Your Boyfriend Is a Douchebag!”) and had a little too much fun with the chorus line. Hey, celebrity love sucks. We get that. But the Biebs is losing it big time. He got into a spat with the management of a London club and had to exit immediately. He took to strutting around chilly London without a shirt on while his purple pants were at half-assed. He began a concert two hours late, collapsed at another show and was hospitalized, and told paparazzi that he would “fucking beat the fuck out of you, man!” What a potty mouth! Perhaps, to overcompensate, he later went out on the town wearing a gasmask and a Brooklyn Nets cap under a pullover. We’ve wasted too many words on this has-been already. Enuff already.

Ghostinthedark Satania Blaze

For a career in the nursing profession, the choices that Ghostinthedark Satania Blaze has made don’t inspire much confidence that she’ll ever provide patients with the same level of care that Florence Nightingale would have expected. “I’m the soul thief,” says this woman, whose real name Swiss authorities haven’t released. Clearly, she is a very naughty nurse who should have left her S&M playbook at home before going to work at the nursing home. On her Facebook page, she praises “Satan,” posts photos of herself posing with a corpse and asks her fiends, we mean, friends, to guess “if she is asleep or is she dead?,” we assume Blaze means the elderly patient who is an unwitting prop in this sick person’s self-promotion.

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey

Apparently there isn’t a commandment against turning the Old and New Testaments into low-budget fodder for basic cable, but if there were, then Mark Burnett (“Survivor”) and Roma Downey (“touched by an Angel”) would have some serious atoning to do. As producers of the History Channel’s series, “The Bible,” they cast Mehdi Ouazanni as Satan. The resemblance to President Barack Obama is, as the tabloids say, “uncanny.” The husband-and-wife team claims it’s just a coincidence. Ouazanni is “a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor,” they say. Our beleaguered president has enough problems dealing with conservative Christians and Congressional Republicans who probably do think he’s the Prince of Darkness. Considering that all the other major actors in this misguided mini-series are either white Europeans or Americans, let’s just say that this pair’s casting call was a sin of commission.

[/colored_box]

Police to Crackdown on St. Patrick’s Day Drunk Drivers

Suffolk County police cruiser.
Nassau and Suffolk County police departments will be stepping up sobriety checkpoints across Long Island in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day Weekend drunk drivers.

Authorities across Long Island are taking precautionary measures in preparation for expected drunk drivers during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Police Commissioner Thomas Dale said this week that additional officers will be searching for DWI violators as part of the police department’s “STOP-DWI” program, which will run through the holiday weekend.

Suffolk police is also cracking down on drunk drivers. The department will disperse officers from all seven precincts and the Highway Patrol Bureau to county roads.

“Drivers should expect to see increased enforcement on the roadways throughout the weekend,” Suffolk police said in a news release.

New York State police said it will increase patrols beginning Friday and will add sobriety checkpoints throughout the Island. Police will also be keeping a close eye on anyone selling alcohol to minors.

“We are starting our enforcement St. Patrick’s Day weekend with full knowledge there will be numerous parties and events where alcohol may be consumed, and we are asking everyone who drinks to designate a driver or arrange safe transportation in advance,” said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico.

Last year, troopers made 504 DWI arrest and issued 11,663 tickets.

While it is common for people to drink in celebration of a holiday weekend, officials urge everyone not to be careless, and rather have an alternate plan in case of intoxication.

“We want you to have a good time,” Mangano said. “However we ask that you make responsible and smart decisions during your celebrations, and plan accordingly so everyone can return home safely to their loved ones.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31 percent of traffic deaths in the year 2010 were alcohol related. While drunk driving continues to be a national epidemic, Mangano and Dale said they are committed to bringing down that statistic.

“There will be additional police patrols all around Nassau County,” Mangano said, “and chances are if you drive drunk you will be arrested.”

10 Facts About Sunshine Week and the Freedom of Information Act

Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week logo. The weeklong celebration of a more open government started March 10 and ends Saturday. (Photo: www.sunshineweek.rcfp.org)

Journalists and citizens across the country this week are celebrating Sunshine Week, an initiative that started seven years ago to promote open government.

The Freedom of Information Act gives any citizen the right to access information from the federal government. Participating in the initiative are journalists, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and other people and organizations promoting a more open democracy. The week-long celebration started Sunday, March 10 and ends Saturday. The motto: “Open government is good government.”

Here are some facts about Sunshine Week:

1. When was the FOIA created?
President Lyndon Johnson signed this act in 1966.

2. What exactly is Sunshine Week?
Sunshine Week promotes the importance of open government and freedom of information. Sunshine Week was created by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and takes place one week in March every year.

3. Who can participate in Sunshine Week?
Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

4. There are many ways to celebrate Sunshine Week.
A journalist can talk about the importance of The Freedom of Information Act by stories, editorials or cartoons. An educator can use sunshine week to teach the importance of government transparency. And a citizen can spread the meaning of sunshine week to social media sites.

5. Share your thoughts
Sunshine week has both a Facebook page and a twitter page so staying connected during this week is easier.

6. There are events all over the United States dedicated to Sunshine Week.
Many Colleges across The US and government and political office buildings are holding seminars stating the importance of FOIA. For information on places located please visit The National Freedom of Information Coalition website.

7. It is actually very easy to file for a FOIA request.
A request can be done electronically but there is a fee for requests. The search fee is based on the salary level of the people who conducts the search.

8. Not all FOIA requests come from the media.
Many requests come from lawyers and private investigators seeking accidents reports and political parties’ research their own candidates and opponents.

9. It doesn’t take long for requests to be granted.
Under FOIA, agencies have 20 working days to answer a request.

10. FOIA requests are being denied more in the past ten years.
It is noted in many articles that since President Barack Obama have been in office many requests have been denied due to security reasons.

Op-ed: The Crime of Being a Young Black Male

Henok Fente
Henok Fente

In 2008, CNN broadcast a photo of President-elect Barack Obama with his arm outstretched to the public, and asked viewers to write its caption. I remember the winning submission almost verbatim because it spoke to my heart.

“Even after winning the presidency, President-elect Barack Obama could not get a cab in Washington, D.C.,” it read. The truth is, even now in the beginning of his second term, the president will still struggle to hail a cab in the nation’s capital past 10 p.m.

If you are a black male, or Latino, you know what I am talking about. Some D.C. cabbies immediately profile you as robbers and criminals. So they either deny you service or boss you around once you are in their cab.

On February 27, the day President Obama inaugurated the statue of Rosa Parks, I was out with my friends at a bar called 18th Street Lounge, ESL for short. Not to be mistaken for English as a Second Language—though in many ways true, since the majority of the clients are foreign nationals, the expats of D.C., if you will.

Wednesday is reggae night. Meet my friends: Cher the tall Senegalese; Kata from Serbia; Sean the American, who always looks high but does not smoke. Who else? Jakewon from Sri Lanka, who we tease is from Bangladesh and joke that his real name is Wikum with a W; his new girlfriend, half-Finnish half-African American…you get the picture. And I am Ethiopian.

We are bound by love and mutual respect. We always learn from each other, help one another and accept each other’s differences while recognizing our unity and celebrating life together. We laugh, giggle, drink a bit, chase after the opposite sex or the same sex, whatever makes us happy. That is our little family of serious and passionate individuals having a goofy time together. This bar, we the “regulars” tell new guests, with no facts checked of course, used to be the home of FDR. Now it has become our home.

I finished two bottles of Belgian beer that I shared with friends, left ESL around 12:40 a.m., hailed a cab, told the cabbie to take me to “4th & G, SW.” The cabbie started his meter, made a U-turn on Connecticut, and stopped at a traffic light a block away.

The middle-aged driver of Pakistani or Indian origin, judging from his accent, turned his head and asked me to move to the opposite side of the backseat. I was sitting behind the driver. He was not polite in his request. I told him calmly that I was comfortable where I was.

The cabbie insisted, saying he would like to talk to me and watch me through his rearview mirror while I am in his cab. I told him I have no intention of having a conversation with him and all I ask is to be taken home, assuring him that as long as I am in the cab and I have the money to pay for his services, I have every right to sit where I feel comfortable.

At this point the cab driver stopped his vehicle and asked me to get out. I refused and asked him to take me home.

The easiest thing to do under these circumstances would have been to agree to switch seats, accept his racial and age bias and go home, or leave the cab. I did not choose the above two options because, firstly, they are against the principles of humanity that all people deserve equal treatment, and secondly, the law requires him to do so as a commercial vehicle operator. Again, I asked the cab driver to please drive me home.

Let me be clear here: The problem I have with racial profiling is a fallacy of hasty generalization, so I will not conclude or in anyway generalize that D.C. cab drivers are racist. I have family and friends who drive cabs for a living; they are hard-working, honest people. Shout out to my cabbie Moody, who is always 15 minutes away from my rescue, Berhe, the Accountant Cabbie, who does my taxes in his free time. This piece is for those who discriminate against their clients; those who look down on their own race and profile complete strangers as criminals, Hispanic and black alike.

I spotted a police car nearby and told the cab driver to call the police and ask them to take my address and check my ID if it makes him feel more comfortable.

Officer W. Belton inquired about the situation from his police car. I told him what I described above. The cab driver told him his version, that he wants me to sit on the other side. I repeated my refusal, reiterating that I have every right to sit anywhere in the cab. The officer initially concurred that the driver cannot tell me where to sit.

Officer W. Belton of the 2nd Metropolitan Police Department couldn’t decide what to do. The officer, a middle-aged white male with a mustache, kept repeating the same questions to the two of us. I repeatedly told him, I will compensate the cab driver for his services, I can show the police my driver’s license to make the cabbie feel comfortable, but I will sit where I like and be taken home, as is required by the law.

Officer W. Belton did not seem to like the fact I knew my rights. No big deal, it is just text printed on a single piece of paper, right? It seemed, and later became evident, that Officer W. Belton thought it was a big deal and very smart to know a few D.C. Taxicab Commission passenger rights.

As I was looking for the number to call the D.C. Taxicab Commission to report the cabbie, Officer W. Belton asked me to pay the fare, step out of the cab and take another vehicle. I told him he can not ask me to do that. I have the right to be taken home by this cab driver.

At 1:05 a.m. I called 202-645-6018, the D.C. Taxicab Commission. As I was trying to get the cab driver’s ID number while listening to the machine operator, Officer W. Belton loudly blasted, “It is over!” Suddenly he was grabbing me by the neck and dragging me out of the cab, head-first, legs following as I staggered to find my balance and avoid falling face-first on the asphalt.

I was rushed to the back of the cab, keeping my phone in hand, which I dropped on top of its trunk where there was a cup of coffee in a golden cup.

“Bend over!” demanded an officer whose face I could not see. “Spread them! Step away from the cab!” shouted the officer after I was cuffed.

These were short and humiliating orders given to me for refusing to move over to another seat in the back of a cab. Several other police cars converged on the scene. Their flashing lights were blinding.

After I was cuffed, Officer W. Belton got in my face.

“You think you are smart?” he asked. “You are ignorant.”

I was ordered to further step away from the back of the cab by another officer, whose face I also did not see, while they searched me.

“And your ignorance got you arrested,” said Officer W. Belton.

He humiliated me, knowing I could not respond to him. I didn’t want to give him the excuse of charging me for resisting arrest, so I kept quiet.

I am a journalist and I speak my mind. I refrained from telling Officer W. Belton that, yes, I actually think I am smart, and that his job is not arresting “ignorant people” if he can identify one by looking at their face or color.

At the time, his power seemed so boundless and abusive, I chose to keep silent. Instead of telling me my rights, he insulted and humiliated me.

The police did not cause me physical harm. But I have suffered psychologically. I could not sleep, eat or drink. Flashbacks of the trauma of my arrest still go through my head just like the flash of the police lights.

I was taken to the 2nd MPD, where my arresting officers could not even convince their colleagues why they arrested me. I spent two hours and 10 minutes in a cell.

At the time of my booking, I told the officers my only crime was choosing to sit where I wished and fitting into a profile. It is ironic and extremely disheartening that this happened to me after doing a story earlier in the day on the historic inauguration of Rosa Park’s statue.

I was later released without being charged. Officer W. Belton’s bogus “Theft of Services/ Unlawful Entry” arrest charges did not convince his supervisors, who came and spoke to me later in the jail cell.

I asked them: “Have you ever heard of illegal entry into a public transportation?”

The lieutenant, a female veteran, responded: “It is like walking into a grocery store.”

Then she signed my release papers as she promised.

After I was freed, the person listed as my arresting officer, R. Tran, a young Asian officer who was being trained, said to me: “I am sorry this happened to you. I could not do anything because I am a rookie and he (referring to W. Belton) is my senior.”

Officer Belton never apologized. Not that it mattered, after what he did to me.

I had no criminal record. I knew my rights. I did not break the law. So I am walking free. But what about those who made mistakes at some point in their lives and are trying to do the right thing? Those who would not have walked out of the 2nd District Police Station free?

That is why I am speaking out and taking action.

I am suing D.C. police for police misconduct and racial profiling and collaborating with a cab driver who broke the law. Wish me luck. I’ll need it, because for some of the D.C. lawyers, this case is a lot of work for too little money. They ask me if I sustained any physical injury, when I say no, they do not want to touch it. I am sure I will find a lawyer in this town who believes there is a bigger bonus in taking up civil rights for all, someone who believes black, white, green, yellow—whatever color, age, gender—we all matter and that we are all equal.

President Obama, please speak up. Take action about this. Or you may have trouble hailing a cab in D.C. after 2016.

Henok Fente is an international affairs reporter. A 2007 graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism, he has won numerous accolades including the New York Press Association’s scholarship award. Fente hosts a news magazine show and reports on politics, business, human rights and social life in Africa for a radio show with 6 million weekly listeners. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

The Number: March, 2013

8.19% to 9.31%

The average increase that the majority of LIRR commuters will see in their ticket prices, as of March 1, depending on type and zone, as new fare hikes take effect.

The Quote: March, 2013

“What we’re talking about today is the capacity of the U.S. government to make you disappear.”

—Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who with six other world-renowned journalists and activists, filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama Administration challenging the constitutionality of Sec. 1021 of the NDAA.

The Rundown: March, 2013

the-rundown-top

1. HOW IT FEELS THROUGH GOOGLE GLASS

Google Glass

Google released a new video detailing the abilities of its upcoming Google Glass product—the ability to shoot video, take pictures, search the web, send texts and chat, all through voice activation. The futuristic eyewear, expected to hit streets in 2014, will come in five colors: charcoal, tangerine, shale, cotton and sky. The video is incredible. One user looks at a NYC subway sign and gets a warning in the glass eye piece that service is suspended on that line. Of course, the part where this dude gets clocked over the head and has his glasses ripped off is left out. So, you’ll have to use your imagination to get the full experience.

2. TRY LIZ LEMON BEN & JERRY’S

Tangy lemon frozen Greek yogurt with blueberry lavender ribbons spiraling through it is Ben & Jerry’s newest creation. Aimed at celebrating the recent end of NBC‘s 30 Rock, the Liz Lemon flavor is available in Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops and on the shelves of grocery stores. Unfortunately, or thankfully, there are no Mexican cheese balls in it—or aluminum foil.

3. WATCH ELEPHANTS TAKE TO THE STREETS

Ringling Bros. Elephants

Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 11, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ world-famous elephants will make their trek to Nassau Coliseum. There will be a special viewing party at the Long Island Children’s Museum. (Visit www.licm.org for details).  So when you’re walking down the road that Friday night—the elephants are real.

4. BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH

Although it seems to have a dire meaning, ‘Ides’ just means the 15th day of the month of March which, back in the day, was a day of celebration dedicated to the god Mars. But things went downhill when in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar, who was warned something bad would happen to him on that day, was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate by Brutus. Caesar joked, “Well, the Ides of March have come.” A seer replied, “Ay, they have come, but they are not gone.” Naturally, we are going to take every opportunity to play out that scene on March 15. And you should, too. “Et tu Brute?!”

5. WATCH MURPH: THE PROTECTOR

This documentary is about Long Island hero and Navy SEAL Michael Murphy, of Patchogue, who gave his life for his men in 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. The film premieres March 22 at select Regal Entertainment Group Theatres. Visit www.murphmovie.com for details.

6. MAKE CHINESE TEA EGGS

Make Chinese Tea Eggs

Glitter, tye-dye, rubber bands, stamps, stickers…there are plenty of ways to decorate the outside of an egg, but here’s a great way to make the inside fabulous. After your eggs are boiled, squeeze them to crack the shell all around. Then reboil them in water dyed with food coloring. The colors penetrate the cracks so when the eggs are de-shelled, well, you’ll see…

7. TIVO SPLASH

ABC will debut its celebrity-diving reality show on March 19. Catch 10 B-list celebs, including The Cosby Show’s Keshia Knight Pulliam and reality star Kendra Wilkinson, in Speedos, getting trained by swimmer Greg Louganis, and then showing off their diving abilities—or lack there of. You’ll want to at least catch one episode before this goes off the air.

What's The Word app8. PLAY “WHAT’S THE WORD?”

Yet another addicting game for your smartphone, What’s The Word? gives you four pictures, a group of letters and a series of blank spaces, hangman style. Your job? Decide what all the pictures have in common—and it can be the most insignificant detail.

9. GET A VIRTUAL ZIPPO LIGHTER

The Virtual Zippo Lighter opens with a flick of your wrist and lights with a slide of your thumb. The wind-proof flame sways as you wave your smart phone at concerts and reacts when you try to blow it out. Choose from a variety of lighter images. The app will even alert you to local concerts and DJ gigs based on your musical tastes.

10. SPRING AHEAD!

Set your clocks ahead one hour for Sunday, March 10., when Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m.

The Target – March, 2013

The Target - March, 2013

MAIL – PARTIAL SCORE

The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service announces that it plans to end Saturday mail delivery starting in August to cut $2 billion in costs. Under the proposal, packages would still be delivered. The USPS also announces plans to launch “Rain, Heat & Snow,” a new line of all-weather, device-accommodating apparel and accessories in 2014. We doubt a clothing line will do much in the way of profits. Just ask Kim Kardashian! But a sex tape on the other hand…

TECH GIANTS – BULL’S EYE

Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, among hundreds of other companies, stand up for same-sex marriage by signing on to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, which calls the Defense of Marriage Act not only unconstitutional but “bad for business.” The brief will be part of the suits against DOMA, which defines marriage as only being between a man and a woman, that the Supreme Court will hear in March. So, Apple and Microsoft are on the same side in a lawsuit? That’s an historical moment in itself!

NASA BUDGET CUTS – OFF TARGET

The scientists at NASA makes major progress in the art of wastewater recycling, which turns urine back into water through forward osmosis. Sure, this will come in handy if we ever spend time on Mars, but the Obama Administration has already proposed big cuts to NASA’s 2013 Mars programs, including backing out of a joint mission with the European Space Agency that would have included the first direct search for life on Mars since the ’70s. Kanye West infamously said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Somewhere in space there’s an alien interrupting a broadcast saying, “Barack Obama doesn’t care about extraterrestrials.”

NUDE BEACH – PARTIAL SCORE

The days of all-over tanning at Fire Island’s famed nude beaches come to an end as officials announce they will start enforcing NYS laws against public nudity. The reasons given by officials: The Sandy-damaged boardwalk to the FI Lighthouse means visitors will have to walk through the area where nudists gather; a lack of lifeguards and restrooms; the negative effects of crowds on the environment; and an increase in criminal activity including public sex and prostitution. Violators who ignore the ban face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Unfortunately, Speedo bikini bottoms are still perfectly legal.

BLOOMBERG – BULL’S EYE

Following his bans on transfats and extra-large soft drinks in the city, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg takes on Styrofoam in his final State of the City address, calling it, “One product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never biodegrades…Something that we know is environmentally destructive and that may be hazardous to our health, that is costing taxpayers money and that we can easily do without, and is something that should go the way of lead paint.” We can dig it.

HORSE MEAT – OFF TARGET

While horse meat continues to surface in Europe, most recently in IKEA’s famous Swedish meatballs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tells Americans we have nothing to worry about because it is illegal to bring horse meat into the U.S. for human consumption, unlike in Europe. So you can go back to cursing IKEA for the miniature pieces and nonsensical directions involved in putting together its PAX Uggdal Closet Sliding Doors, but don’t take your anger out on the meatballs.

Pink Slip – March ’13

Donald Trump

[colored_box color=”red”]Stefan Schindler

Facebook may have put MySpace out of business but there’s nothing like quality face time when the message is a matter of life and death. Using a Facebook page to notify a mom that her son had died may have sounded like a good idea to Lt. Stefan Schindler, a Clayton County Police detective, because his department hadn’t been able to reach her. But the mother, Anna Lamb-Creasey, had already been calling hospitals and jails in her Atlanta, Ga.-suburb for weeks trying to find out what had happened to her 30-year-old son Ricky Lamb so they couldn’t have been totally clueless. But it sounds like they were. The detective’s message came from an account belonging to a “Misty Hancock,” someone unknown to the family, and went into a folder labeled “Other” with a profile photo of the Atlanta rapper TI, where it languished because the mom and her daughter assumed it was spam. Finally, out of desperation, they called the number listed and the detective finally gave her the bad news: her son had been struck and killed by a driver as he was crossing a highway. He’d been in a morgue for almost three weeks.

Lisa Traylor-Wolff

The case is still pending, but one of Indiana’s senior judges, Lisa Traylor-Wolff, stands accused of having sex in jail with her 26-year-old client, Scott Wampler, a serial offender serving 40 years in prison. Wampler had been convicted in 2011 of breaking into a house, tying up two women at gunpoint and stealing their money. We don’t know much about the accommodations of the Miami Correctional Facility in Peru, Ind., but we’re pretty sure that the locked prison visiting room is no honeymoon suite. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications now claims she’d begun an affair with Wampler before he was jailed, and the Indianapolis Star reports she continued the relationship as his appointed public defender when she represented him as he appealed his conviction. Maybe she’s a good attorney, but we think she granted her client the wrong kind of service and she should have known better.

Donald Trump

The Donald may not have much hair upstairs as he used to, but is he running low on cash too? Is that why he’s out to make the former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin pay him $5 million because she dared claim—on her Facebook page—that his beauty pageant was “fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy”? That last part must have really stung. Trump sued her on behalf of the Miss Universe Organization, which includes the Miss USA pageant, which he owns. He said her malicious accusations cost him a $5 million sponsorship from British Petroleum. She’s amazed that BP visited her page. Trump got an arbitrator, a retired federal judge, to back him up and recently he asked a U.S. District Court judge to confirm the award that would send the 27-year-old brunette to the poor house. She won’t back down: the contest is rigged. This whole thing is just not right, on so many levels, but maybe a pound of flesh would suit him better. If so, he should cut that deal, and then leave her alone.

Ben Shapiro

President Obama has lots of opposition; in fact, his presidency is supporting a whole conservative industry profiting from his time in office. One of those overly ambitious guys is Ben Shapiro, who writes for the right-wing web site Breitbart.com. He took a legitimate inquiry from a Daily News journalist, Dan Friedman, and turned it into a wildly stupid rumor that rocked the internet—just because Shapiro and his ilk are so hungry to drag Obama down. In this instance, Friedman had called a Congressional Republican source to wonder whether Chuck Hagel, then Obama’s embattled nominee to be secretary of defense (since confirmed by the Senate), had ever given speeches to controversial groups that might scuttle Hagel’s chances. For instance, Friedman joked, had Hagel ever given a speech to the Friends of Hamas or the Junior League of Hezbollah? Of course, those groups were hypothetical but when the source blabbed to Shapiro—another no-no because the query was supposed to be confidential—the hypothetical part became more than theoretical. Shapiro rashly called the White House for comment on the false allegation that Hagel had given a speech to the Friends of Hamas. Understandably, the spokesman hung up on him. But Shapiro played it this way: “Secret Hagel donor?: White House spox ducks question on ‘Friends of Hamas.’” There used to be a motto at the Wall Street Journal’s copy desk: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”

Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army

The personnel in this army unit is waging their cyberwarfare against American targets from a 12-story building near Shanghai. An American computer security firm, Mandiant, recently traced the systematic disruptions of more than 140 U.S. firms ranging from telecom, transportation, high-tech, and aerospace businesses and other groups to these shady operatives that call themselves the Comment Crew or Shanghai Group. They don’t sound like a rogue operation. More likely they are fully aligned with that part of China’s ruling elite which encourages industrial espionage, intellectual property theft, black market rip-offs, phony products, unsafe pharmaceuticals, dangerous working conditions and corrupt currency manipulation. In other words, they’re just not nice people.

Anna Ayala

Remember that Northern California woman who was convicted of planting a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili? That was in 2005 when she wanted to sue the restaurant for the disgusting deed that she’d actually done herself. Recently Ayala, 47, was arrested for making up another story, although this one had nothing to do with fast food, thank goodness. She claimed her 26-year-old son, a felon according to news reports, had been shot in the ankle by two unknown assailants. But she really sent police on a wild goose chase because her kid had shot himself, and he wasn’t supposed to have a firearm and ammo. The truth is best served cold.

Oscar Pistorius and Hilton Botha

They call Pistorius the “Bladerunner” for his prosthetic prowess at the Olympics and they dub Botha “Inspector Clouseau” for the way the South African police detective has botched the murder investigation of the death of Reeva Steenkamp, the blonde model shot to death in Pistorius’s bathroom on Valentine’s Day. Four times at least. As she cowered behind the door. The sprinter told prosecutors he thought she was an intruder. Botha, the first forensic sleuth to arrive, contaminated the crime scene with his blundering and contradicted his own testimony on the stand during Pistorius’s bail hearing. Now Botha is off the case because a 2011 attempted murder case against him and two other cops has been reinstated—they’re charged with firing on a packed minibus taxi. We don’t know if Pistorius has a leg to stand on—he sobbed as he recounted the tragic night—but neither man gets our vote of sympathy.

Micky Arison

Remember what happened aboard the Carnival Triumph last month? A fire broke out and left the ship powerless in the Gulf of Mexico for five days. Some 4,200 passengers coped with overflowing toilets, the stench of shit everywhere, no electricity and nothing but cold food—if they had the stomach to eat anything. Remember what happened to the Carnival Splendor? In 2010 the cruise ship lost power when a fire knocked out its electrical systems and stranded 4,500 passengers off the California coast. Arison—the lucky bastard—was not on board either time. He is the chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator. If his company doesn’t learn its lesson and install a back-up plan, then he belongs in the brig. Let him be the example for an unregulated industry that looks like it has pirates at the helm.

Dov Hikind

Many colorful public figures serve in the New York State Assembly but perhaps Brooklyn’s Dov Hikind should not have donned blackface, an Afro wig, and an orange basketball jersey when he attended a costume party celebrating the Purim holiday. The conservative Orthodox Jew did not do the Brooklyn Nets any favors. The constituents in his predominantly white district may not see the harm of his minstrel show but the offensive stereotype runs deep. And, witting or not, he perpetuated it. If he had to find comic relief in the NBA, Hikind would have been better off impersonating James Dolan.

Lena Koschmann

The worse thing Fire Island’s nude bathers should have to fear is a severe case of sunburn, but now Fire Island chief ranger Lena Koschmann plans to slap their fannies with some serious fines if they’re caught in the buff. Okay, so there are no lifeguards, bathrooms or trash cans on Lighthouse Beach, the most popular venue for letting it all hang out, as they say, but surely the authorities didn’t have to be so prudish to the nudists. The chief didn’t have to confront this conundrum in Alaska, her previous post, but the bare truth here is that these folks like to celebrate their natural state and New York is the place to do that right, within reason of course. We could understand if the rangers—six on staff are responsible for overseeing 32 miles of sand and surf—wanted to look the other way. But now they’ll have their hands full on that strip.

Beppe Grillo

Sadly, Italian elections have become a long-running gag but giving Beppe Grillo, a former comedian, the power to make or break Italy’s political future is no laughing matter. The hoarse-voiced, shaggy-haired anti-establishment 64-year-old entertainer says he was merely the spokesman for the Five Star Movement and didn’t really anticipate that his party would actually have to govern in parliament. But the M5S, as it’s known, won enough seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the senate to make this jokester the key player in this embattled country’s future. And by splitting the left, disillusioning his grassroots supporters and making a grand nuisance of himself, he’ll just end up handing over the keys to the demagogue Silvio Berlusconi and let that corrupt billionaire clown around with the eurozone’s third-largest economy, which could adversely affect the world. And that’s no joke.

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