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5 head coaches fired on NFL’s ‘Black Monday’

In What the ?????? on December 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Published December 30, 2013/

Mike Shanahan

Five NFL head coaches whose teams had subpar performances were fired Monday less than 24 hours after the regular season ended.

Washington’s Mike Shanahan, Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier and Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano were all victims of “Black Monday,” the day when traditionally coaches lose their jobs. The Cleveland Browns did not even wait that long, axing Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night after just one season.

Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls in Denver in the 1990s, spent four seasons with the Redskins and was 24-40. Frazier had a little more than three seasons with the Vikings to compile an 18-33-1 mark, and Schwartz coached the Lions for five seasons, finishing 29-52.

Schiano only got two years with the Buccaneers, going 11-21. Tampa Bay also fired general manager Mark Dominik.

One coach allegedly on the hot seat was retained: Rex Ryan, who has one more year on his contract, is staying with the New York Jets after a surprising 8-8 record in his fifth season at the helm.

While some of the fired coaches might have seen it coming, Chudzinski certainly didn’t despite going 4-12 and losing his final seven games and 10 of 11.

“I was shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was fired,” said Chudzinski, who grew up a Browns fan. “I am a Cleveland Brown to the core, and always will be. It was an honor to lead our players and coaches, and I appreciate their dedication and sacrifice. I was more excited than ever for this team, as I know we were building a great foundation for future success.”

As the coaching searches begin, agents will float the names of their clients — Penn State’s Bill O’Brien seems to be the hottest candidate and has interviewed for Houston’s vacancy. The Texans (2-14), who own the top choice in May’s draft after losing their final 14 games, released coach Gary Kubiak late in the season.

Whoever gets hired in each place will face mammoth rebuilding projects. Overall, the six teams seeking new coaches went 24-71-1.

Shanahan had one season remaining on a five-year contract worth about $7 million a season. He blamed salary cap restraints for part of the Redskins’ collapse from NFC East champion in 2012 to 3-13 and eight consecutive losses.

Washington was hit with a $36 million salary cap penalty over two seasons for dumping salaries into the 2010 uncapped season, and Shanahan said it prevented the team from pursuing free agents it had targeted.

But his real undoing, along with the poor records in three of his four seasons, was a contentious relationship with star quarterback Robert Griffin III. RG3 did not speak with the media on Monday.

Frazier took over for Brad Childress in Minnesota for the final six games of 2010. He got the Vikings to the playoffs as a wild card last season, riding an MVP year from running back Adrian Peterson. But he never solved the Vikings’ quarterback situation — three QBs started in 2013 — and the defense, Frazier’s specialty, ranked 31st overall and against the pass.

“It’s a harsh business,” safety Harrison Smith said. “As a player, we all love coach Frazier, as a coach, as a man. You can’t meet a better guy. And also as a player, we didn’t make enough plays on the field. So you just feel like you let him down a little bit.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report


Target Investigates Breach Involving Credit Card Data

In What the ?????? on December 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm

DECEMBER 18, 2013, 6:40PM

Cybercriminals appear to have targeted the point-of-sale systems in Target’s retail stores, which collect information from customers’ credit and debit cards, and potentially personal identification numbers.

SAN FRANCISCO — Target is investigating a security breach involving stolen credit card and debit card information for millions of its customers, according to one person involved in the investigation.

The breach, which was first reported Wednesday by Brian Krebs, a security blogger, began the day after Thanksgiving, and may be continuing, according to the person involved in the investigation, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

It is unclear whether Target’s online customers were affected. Cybercriminals appear to have focused on the point-of-sale systems in Target’s retail stores, which collect information from customers’ credit and debit cards, and potentially personal identification numbers, or PINs.

Representatives for Target did not return requests for comment.

The breach is currently being investigated by Target and major card companies, according to the source. The Secret Service is also investigating, said Brian Leary, a spokesman for the service.

By breaching point-of-sale systems, cybercriminals can create counterfeit cards. If they were able to intercept the PIN information, as well, it is also possible that thieves could withdraw money from a customer’s account through an A.T.M. A similar breach affected Barnes & Noble stores last year. In that case, customers at 63 Barnes & Noble stores across the country, including New York City, San Diego, Miami and Chicago, were affected.

To date, Target customers have not yet been made aware of the breach. Though state notification laws differ, most states require that companies notify customers of a breach if their names are compromised in combination with other information like a credit card, Social Security number or driver’s license number.

But states make exceptions for encrypted information. As long as companies scramble consumer information with basic encryption, the law does not require companies to tell customers about a breach.

Point-of-sale systems have become a major target for cybercriminals in recent years. To pull it off, security experts said a company insider could have inserted malware into a company machine, or persuaded an unsuspecting employee to click on a malicious link that downloaded malware that gives cybercriminals a foothold into a company’s point-of-sale systems.

In addition to payment systems at Barnes & Noble last year, criminals also breached Global Payment Systems, one of the biggest card transactions processors. The biggest known security compromise to date was an attack at Heartland Payment Systems, another credit card processor, in 2009. Criminals used malware to break into the company’s internal network and steal data for 130 million cards.

“Why do we keep hearing about this? Because criminals go where the money is,” said Michael Sutton, a vice president for research at ZScaler, a security company. “Typically, criminals will steal credit card information and then sell it. There’s a very elaborate economy built around this type of crime. That’s a very valuable asset that can be obtained completely through remote Internet access.”

Security experts advise Target customers to scan their accounts for unauthorized transactions and change the PINs to their debit accounts.

“There’s not a great deal customers can do, other than take the necessary steps, like changing passwords, credit card numbers if they have been informed of a breach,” Mr. Sutton said. “Beyond that, they can take proactive steps like shopping with reputable vendors.”

“Then again,” he added. “Here we are talking about one of the largest retailers in the United States. No one is immune.”

A version of this article appears in print on 12/19/2013, on page B3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Credit Card Data Theft At Target Investigated .
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Retailer Apologizes for Forcing Job Applicants to Dance to Daft Punk

In What the ?????? on September 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm


When Alan Bacon learned he had a job interview with a franchise of Currys, he didn’t think publicly jamming to Daft Punk would be a required skill. He was wrong.

The UK electronics retailer is apologizing after one of its stores apparently broke job applicants up into teams and had them to engage in a dance off as part of a team building exercise.  “I think everyone initially thought it was a joke,” Bacon, who was not ultimately offered a job, told the BBC, “but they were serious.”

And while the activity might have been meant to build group unity, it appears the task was more successful at humiliating applicants who had spent the week preparing themselves for a serious interview.  “I just felt so embarrassed and uncomfortable” said Bacon.  “I ended up dancing to ‘Around the World’ by Daft Punk, doing rubbish robotics in my suit in…

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What the Dying Want Us to Know About Living

In Health, What the ?????? on September 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm


Death teaches us not to rush past the things we’ll wish we had more of at the very end of life

by Alexandra Rosas Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mom and not to  hurry

Twenty-five years ago, I held my grandmother’s hand as she passed away. Two and half weeks ago, it was my mother’s hand that I held as she left our world.
I was there for the last days of life with both my mother and grandmother, and in our time together, they spoke of things with a sadness and urgency that they never had before.
There’s an old photo I have of my mother, which I’ve always loved. In it, she’s a young, sharply dressed working woman in South America, and you can feel the determination in her stride. I showed her this photo just a few weeks ago, and you could’ve heard the pride in my voice as I asked if she remembered where she was going on the day it was taken.
“I have always hated that picture,” she said, which startled me. “I was always in a hurry. Hurrying. Always. For what?” She took a deep breath, and gently said it one more time, “Always in a hurry ….”
What left me astonished and teary-eyed was not the surprise of her hating the picture, but that these words were exactly the ones my grandmother had spoken to me on the morning of her own passing. I had been sitting vigil at her bedside and she was growing weaker with each day in the hospital. Stroking her hand, I spoke softly to her, “Abuela. Abuela, do you hear me? Remember when you would take us to the grocery store across the street from our house at the start of every summer, and you began our first day of vacation with a popsicle?”

Smiling, with her eyes still closed, she quietly answered, “I would tell you all to hurry, make your flavor choices, and to hurry. There was much to do. I would let you take your time choosing now, if I could. Things could have waited.”

What the dying want us to do — and wish for us to know — is to regard our lives as precious moments making up our days. They want us to focus less on the big picture of building a large body of evidence that proves our accomplishments, and more on the true wonders in our life — the kind where we find unexpected beauty that will be remembered with a wistful smile.

Like walking with your child alongside you, going somewhere without purpose. Or waiting patiently while five- and six-year-old children choose, change their minds, choose, and then change their minds again, about the root-beer-flavored or the banana-flavored popsicles.

My mother and grandmother were telling me loud and clear that as we live our lives, we have to stop running and chasing what we think leads to happiness, and slow down before we rush past the very thing we’ll wish we had more of at the very last hours of our days.

It’s not too late to make sweet memories of children or grandchildren skipping alongside us, of us just being and not doing, of grateful children looking up to us smiling with orange-stained mouths, yelling excitedly, “Thank you for waiting for me until I picked my flavor, Grandma! I didn’t know if I wanted the green or the orange!”

After hearing these words — not once, but twice — from loved ones who know everything they are about to leave behind, I know this is something I’ll be working on to change.

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