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Nathan Oelker

Johnny Manziel’s general maturity brought into question

Heisman winner questioned at SEC media days for off-season activities

Johnny Manziel is facing controversy for his early exit from the exalted Manning Passing Academy, where he was a counselor. During a Wednesday appearance at SEC media days, Manziel deflected questions about whether he’d been drinking excessively or hung over.

“That’s absolutely untrue,” Manziel said, disputing accounts that he was asked to leave the camp early.

Manziel simply stated that there were “social events” associated with the camp, that he missed scheduled events when he overslept Saturday morning, and his cell phone died preventing contact.

“Just another day,” said Manziel during the press conference.

This is yet another chapter in Manziel’s career since he won the Heisman trophy last December. He was unapologetic about an off-season filled with larger-than-life exploits, and yet said several times that he wanted to live “like a normal, 20-year-old college kid.”

Manziel also compared himself to LeBron James and Justin Bieber as he spent the morning followed by a large entourage and an even larger media component.

This kind of attention hasn’t been seen since Tim Tebow got onstage. After becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman following a record-setting season, expectations have skyrocketed for the Texas A&M Aggies’ best player—that is, as soon as he’s ready to get back to work and football.

Last summer was incredibly different. At that time, Manziel was a relative unknown who hadn’t even won the starting job and A & M wondered how it could possibly compete in its new league.

Needless to say, it’s quite different now. Since winning the Heisman, seemingly everything about Manziel’s high profile has publicized everything about his wild off-season. From his online classes, courtside seats at NBA games, visits with LeBron and other stars, spring break in Cabo, and his round of golf at Pebble Beach all grabbed the spotlight.

Then after he got a parking ticket last month, Manziel’s angry tweet that “(expletive) like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be.”

Texas A & M coach Kevin Sumlin defended Manziel’s actions, saying that he’s “made some mistakes.”

“Is he perfect? No. I think he’s done some things he’s not very proud of, has made some poor decisions,” said Sumlin. “He’s made some good decisions. Unfortunately, the poor decisions are the ones that are really publicized.”

Manziel’s possibly overachieved goal of “enjoying life to the fullest” and off-season pursuits being compared to his playing style—barely controlled chaos—didn’t seem to faze him as he fielded questions.

“Crazy is a good way to describe how others see it,” Manziel said. “For me, it’s been fun working out, living life and just enjoying it.”

“There’s no more talk after this,” Manziel added. “Let’s play football.”

Four-year-old mayor elected by stuffed ballot box

Runs Minnesota town with questionable voting practices

Four-year-old Robert “Bobby” Tufts still runs the small town of Dorset, Minnesota after being elected by a stuffed and purchased ballot box last August.

Tufts was only three last year when he was elected during the town’s Taste of Dorset Festival where the annual elections are held. Dorset’s ethically-murky election policies allow anyone to vote as many times as they would like at any of the multiple ballot boxes in stores around town.

Each vote also costs $1. Questions regarding the purpose of these funds went unanswered.

The tiny mayor runs a tiny town located about 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis with a population of between 22 to 28 souls, depending on whether the minister and his family are in town. Dorset also styles itself as the Restaurant Capital of the World.

Tufts walks around town people and people recognize him as their top local politician, calling him “Mr. Mayor” as he hands out his campaign card. One side of the card shows Tufts slicked hair, wearing a tan fishing vest over a suit jacket. The reverse has Tufts sitting on a porch swing with his girlfriend Sophie.

“I would love to be your Mayor as much as I love Sophie,” his campaign card.

When Tufts was first elected, he was only three, and according to reports he is running for re-election without having first entered kindergarten.

Despite the town’s questionable election practices, the voters are generally supportive of Tufts.

“He’s been pretty good. Lotta PR for the town,” said his mother, Emma Tufts, 34. “I think he’s doing a fine job.”

“I think he’s a cute little bugger and I think a lot of people share the same, you know, opinion as me, and it’s neat,” said Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes of Tufts. “You know, how often do you see a little kid like that who’s—call ’em camera-friendly or whatever, you know—he’s got a very good little personality, and he’s not afraid to show it. So I think it’s great.”

Tufts main responsibility as mayor is to greet people as they come to Dorset. Resorts and tourism are the main industry. As the self-styled Restaurant Capital of the World, restaurants ranging from Mexican to Italian to family style line about two blocks of the town’s main thoroughfare.

Tufts’ most sweeping act of legislation thus far has been placing ice cream at the top of the food pyramid. According to Tufts, he has several favorite flavors.

“Chocolate. And vanilla. Strawberry. Cotton candy kind. And rainbow sherbet,” Tufts was quoted as saying.

Sources were also silent regarding the taxpayer dollars used to enact such legislation.

Dorset, Minnesota has no formal city government.

For Millennials: The qualities seen in us

Learn the criteria for possible management methods

Millennials don’t exist in a stereotypical state across the world, even though they were raised in an e-enabled global village. According to research gathered by Ronald Alsop, the author of “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workforce,” the generation born between 1981 and 2001 has many variations when geographic examples are examined.

Cross-studies have revealed noteworthy differences. For example, while millennials everywhere might be tied to technology, a 2010 study by the management consulting firm Accenture found that young people in China spend significantly more time in the e-world for work and play than their international colleagues.

The study also discovered that millennials in India, the U.S. and China were the most likely to regard state-of-the-art technology a crucial factor in selecting an employer.

Respondents in the U.S. and Canada also cite job security as an important career aspiration more than those in most other countries, according to Universum’s study of college business students.

In India and China, a lower-than-average portion of participants consider being “competitively or intellectually challenged” a key goal. A relatively small number of Japanese students say they want to manage people or be entrepreneurial.

For most European students—especially in France, Italy, and Spain—an international career is highly sought.

For a work-life balance, cultural matters factor into differences. According to Universum’s and other’s research, millennials in Western countries, particularly America, crave jobs that leave plenty of time for outside pursuits.

This gives Asian nations an edge in the world’s demanding workplace, as it was found that employees of the East are less likely to leave jobs than those in other parts of the world if a balance isn’t to their liking. However, Asia-Pacific millennials are still vulnerable to career dissatisfaction, and not feeling good enough if they’re not consulted or allowed to give input on matters occurring at their companies.

Communication is a popular subject since it has changed so much in only the past few decades, and is often a major source of generational friction. Millennials tend to be extremely casual and eschew face-to-face time in favor of online communication, but variations are present here too.

Less emphasis on face-to-face communication exists among Asian millennials than their counterparts in North America and Europe, according to a global student survey by IBM.

Work environment was also part of the IBM survey: a collaborative space was favored highest in both North and South America, communicative in Europe, innovative in Japan and India, and creative in China.

Finally, a study by accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, found that regardless of national origin, millennials want meaningful jobs, flexible working conditions, strong connections with supervisors and teams, and recognition and appreciation. Several millennials also are more interested than other generations in obtaining overseas assignments, particularly employees hired in such emerging markets as Brazil, Mexico and India.

Nuances such as those are being recommended for consideration in building the global millennial workforce, because the lack of a singular type for this generation will demand it.

Greenpeace activists climb London skyscraper

Climb undertaken to protest Shell’s Artic drilling

Greenpeace activists were climbing a London skyscraper on Thursday morning in order to protest Shell’s plans for expanded Arctic oil drilling in Alaska and Russia. The six female activists’ chosen skyscraper, the 72-story, 1,017-foot Shard building, towers over the three London offices of oil giant Dutch Royal Shell. Being Western Europe’s tallest building, the activists hoped to put artwork at the top of the Shard for the company to see.

“They don’t want us talking about their plan to drill in the Arctic. We’re here to shout about it from the rooftops,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

The activists are from Britain, Canada, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. After evading security guards just before dawn to start the unauthorized adventure, the “#iceclimb” stunt was live-streamed by the activist climbers via helmet-mounted cameras. They paused a few times to post pictures on Twitter.

The spectacle was entertaining off-line too, as many morning commuters during London’s rush hour stopped to watch or take their own pictures.

“For me this is a personal act of bravery, and I hope that it can encourage anyone hesitating about taking action—no matter what scale—to take that step today,” said activist Victoria Henry, a Canadian woman living in London, in a blog post.

“It’s going to be really hard work, it’s going to be nerve-shredding for all of us and we may not succeed, but we’re going to do everything we can to pull it off,” Henry added.

A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police said, “We were called at twenty past four this morning. We have six protesters attempting to scale the outside of the Shard. We have officers down there, monitoring the situation. The event is still ongoing.”

A spokesman for the Shard said they were working to ensure the safety of the climbers as well as that of the center’s workers and visitors.

In a statement, Shell responded to this protest: “The Arctic region currently produces about 10 percent of the world’s oil and 25 percent of its gas. We respect the right of individuals and organizations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations. Recognizing the right of individuals to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others, including Shell personnel and customers, in mind.”

Shell has been engaged in oil extraction in Alaska since the 1950s and in 2012 said it had completed top-hole drilling for two wells in the Arctic, the first of the region’s drilling in more than a decade. But in February, following problems with two rigs in Alaska, Shell put its plans for drilling there on hold.

America No Longer World's Fattest Country

Click and See which one it is

America, grab yourself a congratulatory custard-filled donut sandwich packed with French Fries, cheddar cheese and SPAM—we’re not the world’s fattest country among developed nations anymore.

Mexico is.

According to a new report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, nearly a third of Mexican adults (32.8 percent) are considered obese. These are people aged 20 and up whose body mass index (BMI) is 30 and above.

In America, only 31.8 percent of adults are considered obese—so not only did another country beat us, but by one whole percentage point.

After this the numbers continue to surprise. Syria is actually the third fattest at 31.6, while Venezuela and Libya are tied for fourth at 30.8 percent.

Now stop laughing, here are the serious facts: Mexico’s urban lifestyle and rising income levels combined with malnourishment among the country’s poor have helped the country claim this unhealthy recognition.

“The same people who are malnourished are the ones who are becoming obese,” Abelardo Avila, a physician with Mexico’s National Nutrition Institute, told the Global Post. “In the poor classes we have obese parents and malnourished children. The worst thing is the children are becoming programmed for obesity. It’s a very serious epidemic.”

As a result of this condition, diabetes kills an estimated 70,000 people a year in Mexico—“or roughly equal to the deaths authorities say are caused by more than six years of the country’s gangland wars,” the Post noted.

According to the U.N. report, about 12 percent of the global population is obese. The world’s fattest nation overall is Nauru, a South Pacific island where an overwhelming 71.1 percent of its 10,000 inhabitants are obese.

Another dire situation is American Samoa, which has been identified in the past as the world’s heaviest, but isn’t included in the U.N. report. According to a 2010 World Health Organization report, nearly all of that Pacific island’s citizens are considered overweight: 95 percent.

Japan is on the lighter side as the thinnest developed country. Only 4.5 of Japanese adults are considered obese according to the U.N.

Student loan interest rates to rise

Federally-subsidized loan rates will increase for next year’s amounts

Interest rates on government-subsidized Stafford student loans doubled on July 1 from 3.4% to 6.8%, and this hike will affect an estimated seven million students who plan to take out government-subsidized student loans this year.

Partisanship on Capitol Hill is causing several problems with this issue, as the seemingly ever-present gridlock prevented a solution before the deadline. House Republican leaders returned to Capitol Hill on Monday after the legislators’ one week break, and immediately blamed Senate Democrats and the White House for the lack of action.

“It’s time for the president to lead and it’s time for him to bring his Senate Democrat leaders together and develop a solution. The House has done its job. It’s time for the Senate and the White House to do its job,” House Speaker John Boehner said at a news conference on the steps of the Capitol surrounded by other House GOP leaders and college-age students.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid brushed off Boehner’s criticism that Senate Democrats have failed to act. “Right now, what they’ve done over there is worse for students than doing nothing at all. The legislation passed in the House would balance the budget on the backs of struggling students. Attempt to balance it at least,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

This summer’s fight is similar to last year’s when rates were about to double, when Republicans opposed the Democrat’s proposals to keep the rates at the 3.4% level, saying any new costs for government-backed loans had to be paid for with budget cuts in other programs.

But just ahead of the deadline, while in the midst of a presidential election, a negotiation was figured to offset costs for subsidizing the loans and the 3.4% rate was extended to July 1, 2013.

And in order to beat accusations that they didn’t have a plan, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill in May—over a month before the deadline—that would rework the method of calculation for student loans.

Then instead of a further extension to keep the rate static the House bill pegged interest rates for government-backed student loans to the 10-year Treasury note plus another 2.5%. It passed along party lines, with the support of only four Democrats.

The House bill was similar to the approach in President Barack Obama’s budget, which also tied interest rates for student loans to the longer-term Treasury note. A bipartisan group of senators introduced a compromise bill at the end of June that was close to the House passed bill, but Senate Democratic leaders have not welcomed it since it doesn’t include a cap for interest rates should economic conditions change and interest rates spike.

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who chairs the Senate panel on education, opposed that framework, and has been pushing a proposal to simply extend the 3.4% subsidized rate for student loans for another year.

Reid has scheduled a procedural vote for Wednesday on a bill restoring the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans to 3.4%. This would initiate debate on another one-year extension. But Republicans, possibly backed by some Democrats, are expected to block this measure in support of a broader solution.

While partisan factions ratchet up their rhetoric and attempt to slam the blame on each other, the differences between the major proposals on student loan interest rates are not significant. But it’s not apparent whether there will be any real effort to resolve this before the next congressional recess in August.

Congress can retroactively reduce interest rates and few students sign loans before August. At that time when members go home for a month, they’ll likely hear more frustrations from students about the inability of Congress to reach a deal.

Zombie Politicians Resurrected

Shells of Spitzer and Weiner eye comeback

Eliot Spitzer is working on political deliverance in the same state where he met disgrace in 2008. After resigning from the governorship five years ago amid revelations that he spent thousands of dollars on prostitutes, Spitzer has launched petition campaign Monday to become New York City comptroller.

“I made significant errors. I stood up, accepted responsibility, resigned. It’s now been five years, I hope the public will extend its forgiveness to me,” the Democrat said Monday morning on radio’s “The Bill Press Show.”

While it seems like it could be a long shot, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, currently congressman, proves with his story that Spitzer’s return is possible. After being censured by the state general assembly for ethics issues stemming from allegations that he misused state travel funds to conduct an extramarital affair with an Argentinean woman, he returned to the U.S. House of Representatives in May of this year.

Spitzer must gather 3,750 signatures by Thursday to get onto the September primary ballot, and in a hilarious coincidence, that would be the same ballot as Anthony Weiner. If the former congressman is elected, after resigning in 2011 amid a scandal involving lewd photos sent via Twitter, he would have the quickest rebound out of the three.

Weiner apologized in a similar fashion, “I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down. But I’ve also learned some tough lessons. I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance to work for you.”

Returns to the public stage like this bring up an interesting question: how are disgraced politicians able to come back so quickly?

There are a few answers to this; for example, one Republican political strategist thinks it reflects a lower opinion of politicians. John Brabender, a longtime top political advisor to 2012 Republican presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum, says, “The required waiting time has been greatly condensed in recent years, indicating present voters are holding elected officials to a much lower standard then previous generations.”

Spitzer says this on the condition that’s saving him: “I think it is a land of forgiveness, of people in their natural goodness (who) understand the fact that…we sin, we pay a price and hopefully continue.”

Additionally, the media just loves a comeback story, because they provide material to cover in the past and present. While covering present news, it allows outlets to go back and revisit what brought down a politician in the first place. And redemption can resonate well with the public.

“Voters love a good comeback story—we identify with the underdog and cheer for him as we would for ourselves,” said Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos. “But voters also love justice. We want people to pay for their mistakes.”

Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala says supercharged news cycles and fleeting, momentary memories may be behind 2013’s triad of comeback attempts, “but it may also be a result of a very healthy American aversion to being too judgmental.”

“It used to be an iron law of politics that no divorced person could be president. Then Ronald Reagan proved that wrong,” added Begala, who was a top political adviser to President Bill Clinton and a senior adviser for the super PAC that worked for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election.

“Ultimately politics is about voters’ lives, not politicians—if voters think someone can make a difference in their life, they will overlook personal shortcomings,” he said. “But the key is not to make the campaign about the politician’s need for redemption, but about voters’ need for jobs.”

Farting mistaken for domestic violence

Gastrointestinal expulsions bad enough to warrant police intervention

Is he giving away free gas? Ha, ha, ha…

Farting by a man in Clawson, Mich. Lead to a suspected incident of domestic violence when neighbors responded to a woman’s hair-raising screams by calling the police…

Turns out however, that she was only inhaling her boyfriend’s vapors.
“One of the neighbors heard somebody yelling—a female yelling…she was possibly being hit—yelling, ‘Stop! No!’” said Clawson Police Chief Harry Anderson to CBS Detroit.

The caller also told dispatchers that she heard a loud noise occur between the woman’s shouts, possibly indicating more danger.

Then the cops came knocking, and the unharmed (physically) woman answered the door. She admitted she’d been shouting, but said it was because “her boyfriend had continued to pass gas, and she was yelling at him to stop,” Anderson added.

While that ended without actual incident, a little flatulent cheekiness (ha, ha, ha) can precede real violence. For example, in May a Florida man laid nasal waste to his girlfriend’s face during an argument—the woman allegedly stabbed him in his face.

And in December, a woman in South Carolina allegedly sprayed Lysol in her husband’s eyes after his flatulating was “bad enough to cause her to almost puke,” according to a police report obtained by The Smoking Gun.

Looks like there was more than one thing smoking, ha, ha, ha…

Johnny Depp’s "Ranger" Nose-Dive

Depp’s Star Power Susceptible to Supernova

Johnny Depp might not be able to get away with stone-faced, silent characters or funny hats any longer, since Disney’s new epic western “The Lone Ranger,” burst out of the gate like a horse with a broken leg. With only $48.9 million domestically in its first five days (and just $24.3 million internationally so far) for a production that cost $250 million, and a $175 million worldwide marketing campaign, it seems like the only thing left is the bullet.

The big winner this weekend cost about half of that worldwide marketing cost: at only $79 million, “Despicable Me,” grossed an estimated $142.1 million during the same period.

Internationally, “Ranger’s” no closer to recouping it’s domestic losses. In South Korea it had a worse-than-bad opening with a mere $1.6 million, and according to the “Hollywood Reporter,” failing in this fellow democratic ally will likely signals an all-out Asian defeat.

In regards to Depp though, the entire situation might signal some type of change. After all, it’s only in the past decade that he’s really been catapulted into the A-list, a distinction that began with the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie in 2003. Before that deal, “Sleepy Hollow” was his only $100-million-plus hit.

Depp’s career though is littered with misfires, but because he’s a star as well as a rare talent, he’s in the right place to sustain them. Recent duds like “Dark Shadows” or 2010’s “The Tourist” are examples of this. However, while these releases dived domestically, they thrived overseas where Depp is more invincible. But “The Lone Ranger” is a tougher sell to foreign audiences since it’s a particularly American brand of mythology.

But before writing off the funny hats, remember that he’ll be donning dreadlocks again for “Pirates 5.” But since the somewhat ‘meh’ performance of the “On Stranger Tides,” we’ll just have to see what happens. But to be fair, it’s not just the lead actor who factors into a film’s success, it’s the script, director, marketing, mood of the public, and a fantastic array of other things.

However, as Box Office Mojo analyst Ray Subers wrote in his recent article, “When ‘Pirates’ [first] opened, Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow seemed fresh and exciting; after a decade of playing similarly wacky characters, his portrayal of Tonto in ‘The Lone Ranger’ just felt like more of the same.”

Paula Deen gets porn offer

Deen offered six figures as a “MILF” for PureMature.com

Paula Deen was finally offered a job while being dropped by everyone else. PureMature.com has offered Deen a six-figure deal to endorse their site, according to TMZ.

PureMature.com is a porn company that features older women, specializing in MILF-centric erotica, and they have sent a letter officially offering the 66-year-old disgraced celebrity chef the only new gig she’s liable to get amid her current controversy. Deen’s appeal letter explains that the site believes she would be the perfect fantasy for men who are into older, hot moms.

“Full-figured or thin, arthritic or diabetic—you embody our perfect spokesperson,” the company wrote to Deen, adding that she’s a hot mom, a “MILF,” and the six figures will be for minimal work, and there’s no nudity required.

Yeah, sorry MILF-lovin’ Food Network fans…no nudity.

Deen has been losing sponsors left-and-right since she admitted to using the N-word in a deposition as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed against her by an ex-employee. So far, Walmart, Target, QVC, JC Penny, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, diabetes company Novo Nordisk, Sears, KMart, her book publisher Random House and her flagship media partner The Food Network, have all dropped Deen from their bankrolls.

Despite these problems, it’s unlikely that Deen will sign on, even as she’s losing millions—but the Lady & Sons restaurateur is not hurting for cash.

So far, no comment from Deen’s representatives.