Cull Your Facebook Friends, Get a Free Burger

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It’s a common problem for anyone who joined Facebook some time ago. You look at your friend list and wonder who these people are.

Burger King wants to help consumers do something about it.

The fast-food chain has released the Whopper Sacrifice application on Facebook. The app rewards people with a coupon for BK’s signature burger when they cull 10 friends. Each time a friend is excommunicated, the application sends a notification to the banished party via Facebook’s news feed explaining that the user’s love for the unlucky soul is less than his or her zeal for the Whopper.

The effort crafted by Crispin Porter + Bogusky came about after agency creative staffers confronted the too-many-friends scenario themselves on Facebook.

“We thought there could be some fun there, removing some of these people who are friends [but] not necessarily] best friends,” said Jeff Benjamin, executive interactive creative director at Crispin, and friend to 736 on Facebook. “It’s asking the question of which love is bigger, your love for your friends or your love for the Whopper,” he said.

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The UN today halted all aid deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip

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The United Nations today halted all aid deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip, citing a series of Israeli attacks on UN staff and installations. The announcement came shortly after the driver of a UN truck was killed by tank fire as he was headed to an Israeli border crossing to pick up an aid shipment. The UN said the delivery had been coordinated with Israel. The Israeli army has not commented.

A UN spokesman says aid shipments are being suspended until the safety of UN staff can be guaranteed. Earlier this week, nearly 40 people were killed by Israeli mortar fire outside a UN school. Israel said its troops had come under fire by militants using the building for cover. For a second straight day, Israel said it suspended its Gaza military operation for three hours today to allow in humanitarian supplies, but the truck driver came under fire before the pause, the UN says.  (Source)

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Jett Travolta autopsy

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Thomas Noftall Loses Lotto Winnings Over ‘Misprint’

It’s been a rough year already for lottery winner—and loser—Thomas Noftall. The Toronto man netted $135,000 in winnings from four scratch-off tickets on New Year’s Eve but was rebuffed when he went to collect his prize, UPI reports. “One guy pulled me into his office and said, ‘Between me and you, they’re going to void your tickets,'” said Noftalll. A lotto spokesman says 1,000 misprinted tickets were distributed in Ontario. “I’ve gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows,” added the 27-year-old, who didn’t comment on any action he might take.(Source)

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Jett “was significantly mentally handicapped.”

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Jett Travolta had a beaming smile and a boy’s love of the water, but he was never heard speaking, and even the family’s closest friends never knew what ailments he had, reports People. “I observed that he was significantly mentally handicapped,” says actress Anne Archer. “John always communicated to him as if Jett could completely understand him. It was a kind of sweet exchange, where he was just happy with anything that Jett offered. Anything.”

The rest of the story here.

Hamas Thinks It Has the Upper Hand

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Israel says its military offensive in Gaza has dealt Hamas a heavy blow, but that’s not how the leaders of the radical Palestinian group see it. Their view is based more on a kind of jujitsu that uses Israel’s military momentum against its own political objectives than on any serious belief in rhetoric about the organization’s “steadfast” fighters being able to “crush” the invaders.

Israel had long assumed that Hamas wanted a ground invasion so it could land some blows on the Israeli military in order to claim a propaganda victory once the Israelis inevitably withdrew. Still, by entering Gaza on Saturday, the Israelis calculated that they could draw Hamas into clashes that would substantially weaken the organization, even if Israel suffered some casualties. But despite the ferocity of the fighting that rages in some parts of Gaza, there are indications that Hamas is keeping many of its best fighters out of the direct path of the advancing Israelis. Israeli military officials have noted that resistance has not been as fierce as expected, and that most Israeli soldiers wounded in the operation thus far have been struck by mortar rounds fired from a considerable distance. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel in a symbolic taunt to the Israeli public. (See pictures of Israel’s sweep into Gaza.)

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How Much Is a Year of Life Worth?

Let’s say you were wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to prison. Several years later you are exonerated and released. Should the government compensate you for those lost years, and if so how much?

Dallas Morning News columnist James Ragland dug up the answer to that question, and you may be surprised.

According to Ragland:

  • Ohio provides $40,330 for each year a person is incarcerated, plus lost wages and attorney fees.
  • Texas provides $25,000 a year, with a $500,000 maximum cap.
  • Alabama has a minimum of $50,000 a year.
  • While Vermont, Michigan and Hawaii will spend up to $50,000 for each year.
  • California spends $36,500 a year
  • Tennessee has a total cap of $1 million
  • And, Ragland says, “The federal government pays those exonerated of federal crimes $50,000 for each year they were incarcerated—and twice that much if they were convicted of a capital crime.”

And, of course, some states don’t necessarily provide anything.

So here’s the question: How much is a year of life worth? Of course, some people earn more than others. Should past earnings, before being incarcerated, be considered? How about education? We know that on average, high school graduates earn more than dropouts. And college graduates earn more than high school graduates.

It all seems very subjective.

But let’s throw another factor into the mix. In England, the National Health Service—the country’s government-run health care system—pays for prescription drugs. The NHS imposes a threshold of about $56,000 for a drug that will extend the patient’s life by a year.

In other words, if a prescription drug costs under $56,000—roughly the same as some states pay for an exonerated convict—and will extend a patient’s life by a year, the British government (i.e., taxpayers) will pay for it. If not, it was nice knowing you.

Incidentally, in the U.S. the standard is about $100,000 per additional year of life.

We don’t know what the right amount is to appropriately compensate those wrongly convicted of a crime. In one sense, no amount of money is enough.

But we do know that when the government regulates prices, it usually keeps the price artificially low. And there is little reason to think that when the government calculates how much a year of your life is worth, it will act any differently.

TaxBytes

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