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Building A Better USB, Counting Campaign Cash and more! 

A mish-mash of local, regional and national headlines from the past week.

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Apple ReInvents The World

If you listened closely last Wednesday, it was possible to hear the simultaneous blowing of minds of the entire city of Cupertino, Calif., when Steve Jobs gave his keynote address to introduce the latest humanity- changing updates to Apple products. As Jobs' speech was streamed worldwide to MacBooks, iPads, iPods and iPhones, you could also hear teenagers in basements everywhere halting their Social Network - inspired hacking attempts because Jobs announced that the new MacBook Air has two USB ports.

Jobs, whose extremely thin, gaunt appearance raises concerns about his current health (his fight with pancreatic cancer was declared a success in 2008), was nonetheless energetic when announcing the latest Apple product updates, including the newest jungle animal to become an operating system, the Lion OS X, a new MacBook Air that will star in many vague commercials featuring indie bands and a new program called FaceTime for Mac, which lets you video chat with people from all of your Apple products - making it entirely necessary for your mother and grandmother to go buy a new iPod Touch for $229. (SR)

Doitchin To Plead Guilty

Everyone's favorite identity stealing OLCC Inspector, Doitchin Krasev, is changing his plea to guilty in at least one case. Krasev who has been locked up since April will appear in court next week to face charges of making a false statement on a passport and aggravated identity theft. Krasev, in between trying to get married in prison to one very, very lucky lady, had previously decided to plead not guilty to both charges. But the Oregonian is reporting that he will plead guilty to at least one charge and, if he's not deported, looks to face at least a few years in jail. Karma, as they say in Bulgaria, is a bitch. (SR)

It's a Jittery Sort of Drunk

Earlier this month, nine Central Washington University students, all of whom had attended the same party, were hospitalized, leading doctors to believe that they'd been slipped date-rape drugs. Well, it turns out that they weren't drugged, but rather had indulged in the caffeine-meets-malt-liquor 23.5-ounce beverage called Four Loko... or as it's known on the streets , "blackout in a can" or "liquid cocaine."

The perfectly legal yet highly potent drink (12 percent alcohol... seriously) comes in massive cans adorned with neon colors and flashy designs. If you slug down the entire syrupy beverage, which tastes like a mix between cough medicine and bum wine, and who knows, maybe it is, you're ingesting the equivalent of five beers and about three cups of coffee.

Doctors have long warned that combining alcohol and energy drinks can inhibit one's ability to recognize their level of inebriation. With this is mind, Ramapo College in New Jersey banned students from imbibing Four Loko after 17 students ended up needing medical help as a result of pounding the super-powered nectar. One of those hospitalized had a blood-alcohol level of 0.4 percent. Yikes!

The lesson here? Don't drink things that are called "blackout in a can." (MB)

Spend It Like You Got It

Unshackled from campaign spending limits and stoked by a closely contested mid-term election, candidates and political action groups are spending a record amount of money for a midterm election. In Oregon, Bend is again at the epicenter of the spending spree for the statehouse. Two years ago, the race between Judy Stiegler and Republican Chuck Burley for House Seat 54 accounted for more than $1 million in campaign spending. It won't be that much this year. However, dems face the prospect of losing the seat to the GOP after being out-fundraised by an almost five-to-one margin by Republican challenger, Jason Conger, a Bend attorney, who has raised more than $360,000 in cash. By way of contrast, Stiegler, the democratic incumbent, has raised less than $75,000 as of the last reporting period. Non-affiliated candidate Mike Kozak, a former Republican turned Independent, has raised a small fraction of his opponents, according to Oregon Secretary of State's office, which show's Kozak with roughly $18,000 in cash. The spending trend, while skewed locally, reflects a large shift in campaign cash flow from two years ago when Democrats outspent Republicans almost two to one. This year, it's GOP candidates who are outstripping Democrats by the same margin.

So where is all the cash coming from? A quick review of Stiegler and Conger's filings with the Oregon Secretary of State's office shows a steady flow of out-of-state corporate and Oregon business dollars flowing into the Conger camp with the forest, restaurant, power production, insurance and construction industries all represented. Conger's biggest contribution as of late: $10,000 from the Farmers Employee and Agent, PAC. Stiegler, who has mostly pulled in smaller donations, including money from tribal governments and miscellaneous individuals, counts her biggest recent donation from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which contributed roughly $2,000 in cash to her campaign.

The race for cash and the looming influence of corporate and out-of-state dollars is nothing new in Oregon. Candidate spending on Oregon's legislative campaigns increased from roughly $3.5 million in 1996 to more than $18 million in 2004. This year's projected total will likely far surpass that with third-party groups expected to more than double their spending nationally on campaigns.

I don't know about you, but the resulting media blitz is worse than an NPR pledge drive. The difference being that you can't just change the station this time. (EF)


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