Archives November 2014

Three-Hour Frolic Ends Badly for LA Zoo’s Runaway Bighorn Sheep

Big Horn SheepUnfortunately, it’s fairly common to see news stories involving fatal injuries stemming from car accidents, usually claiming the lives of bicyclists or pedestrians, where the driver responsible for the crash tried to flee the scene. As many as 11% of all car crashes are compounded by hit-and-run offenses, in fact.

It’s also fairly common to see stories of zoo animals that manage to escape from their enclosures and suffer injuries because no one outside of a zoo in the U.S. expects to see African safari animals.

Rarely do the two stories intersect — but that’s exactly where this story is going.

This past Saturday, November 22, the Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park dealt with the loss of what the NY Post calls a “fugitive bighorn sheep.” The sheep reportedly escaped from the zoo around 1:20 PM, probably by jumping over a fence, zoo spokeswoman April Spurlock explains, and it spent about three hours “running free in the hills [and] enjoying its freedom in the great wide-open” while zoo staff frantically searched the area.

Unfortunately, the sheep then wandered onto a residential street about two miles from the zoo and was hit by a car. The driver, likely more than a little surprised to see a bighorn sheep on the loose in LA, did not stop after hitting the animal. Nevertheless, bystanders have confirmed that there was indeed a “car-on-sheep collision.”

The animal didn’t die immediately, officials state, but after veterinarians responded to the crash and tranquilized the sheep, it appeared that the crash injuries were too much for the sheep to overcome.

Zoo officials are still investigating how exactly the sheep escaped from its enclosure, and an official necropsy has been ordered to determine that the car crash was definitely the cause of death.

It appears that there were some direct person-and-sheep encounters before the animal managed to escape the zoo entirely, but perhaps the silver lining in this situation is that no human injuries resulted from that.

Still, it will be interesting to see if the LA Zoo will decide to pursue legal action against the driver responsible for the sheep’s death — it’s unlikely that the driver would be charged for the crash itself, but the zoo certainly could argue that the driver broke the law by fleeing the scene.

Furthermore, it’s unknown if the zoo will try to replace the sheep, or if the remaining four bighorn sheep will be left to entertain visitors while mourning the loss of their fifth comrade.

Latest SAT Results Lamentable, Students Ready to “Jump Into an Ocean Filled With Hungry Sharks” Over Scores

Teacher talking with students in the clasroomEarlier last month, students could finally access their anxiously awaited SAT scores, which — judging from reactions across social media — were lamentable.


In order to get a perfect score of 2,400, students would have had to have gotten an 800 on each of the three parts — critical reading, math, and writing — of the SAT. Last year, about 1.6 million students took the SAT, averaging a 496 in reading, 514 in math, and 488 in writing, for a composite score of 1,498.

This recent batch of test results are separate from what the College Board found to be the class of 2014’s average scores, which were also distressing. If Cyndie Schmeiser, the College Board’s chief of assessment, were to describe them, she told the Huffington Post that “flat and stagnant would be the words that we would use.”

The 1.67 million students in the class of 2014 averaged a 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing for a composite score of 1,497 — just one point worse than the class of 2013. These results also showed that only 42.6% of the class of 2014 had scores of 1550 or higher, meaning less than half of them were ready for college.

Though these averages did not include the most recent batch of results, and though the data is not quite yet available, students didn’t seem to do too well judging from the reaction on Twitter. As @Laynababy22, tweeted, “Got my SAT score back and it’s official, I’m stupid :-)”

Last March, the College Board announced plans to change the SAT’s format in an effort to curb the academic stagnation. The college preparatory exam will return to a 1,600-point scale, stop deducting points for wrong answers, and will focus on material closer to what students actually study in school.

However, the new format will roll out in 2016, which means that for now, students will still have to deal with the 2,400-point scale and older format.

Ferrari Set to Split From Fiat Chrysler



In an attempt to keep the focus on its mass-market audience, the newly formed Fiat Chrysler group has announced that it is splitting from its well-known luxury Italian brand, Ferrari. Fiat Chrysler plans to list shares of Ferrari stock on the New York State stock market and possibly on European stock markets, as well.

While there is no set date for when the stocks will be listed, the car company has said that 10% will be up for grabs, while the rest are to be distributed among Fiat Chrysler shareholders.

Fiat currently owns two luxury sports car brands: Ferrari and Maserati. Although it is an iconic car owned by many celebrities and used in many TV shows and movies, the Ferrari doesn’t align with Fiat Chrysler’s mass-market audience. The luxury sports car hasn’t performed well this year on the racetrack either, marking one of its worst years in Formula One racing history.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s chairman of 23 years, was pushed out of his position back in September and replaced by Fiat Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne.

The separation of Ferrari from Fiat Chrysler is expected to be completed by next year, but an exact date hasn’t been announced.

“The separation of Ferrari will preserve the cherished Italian heritage and unique position of the Ferrari business and allow F.C.A. shareholders to continue to benefit from the substantial value inherent in this business,” said chairman of Fiat Chrysler John Elkann, according to The New York Times.

Fiat Chrysler only recently began trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the merger of the two automakers was approved. Fiat took full control of Chrysler earlier this year after Chrysler found itself facing major financial woes.

Fiat Chrysler’s main focus is on targeting middle-class families with its line of safe and affordable vehicles, like the FIAT 500, which won 2008 European Car of the Year award. By splitting from Ferrari, both automakers will be able to focus on selling their different vehicles to their separate target audiences.

Paper, Plastic or Apple Pay? Who Will End Up Coming Out on Top?

credit card

Public mistrust and outrage over several recent data breaches have focused mainly on retail giants that were hacked. However, several security experts are now saying that the credit card industry itself is also to blame.

Over a decade ago, major credit card companies — including American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa — launched a preemptive strategy to combat data thieves and hackers amidst growing public concern over cyberattacks. In 2001, businesses were required to meet a strict checklist of security criteria to prove they were taking measures to protect the personal credit card data of their customers.

Unfortunately, the security measures imposed by credit card companies failed to prevent an increasing number of cyberattacks against retailers during this past year. Home Depot and Target — two of the largest retailers affected by data breaches — claim they adhered to the security measures prior to hackers stealing the credit and debit card data of 96 million consumers from their computer systems.

It’s been debated whether complying with the credit card industry’s security regulations has been effective in protecting consumer information. However, the security tests have been instrumental in how credit card companies are attempting to keep consumer payment information secure. The credit card industry claims the tests provide insight as to how well a business is protecting its computer system, and those who meet all the security guidelines are still vulnerable to data breaches.

In an effort to minimize and prevent future cyberattacks, the credit card industry has began issuing credit cards embedded with a microchip and PIN access code, as opposed to the traditional magnetic stripe. This new technology is designed to make it more difficult for purchases to be made with stolen credit card data, or for hackers to create counterfeit cards.

With the release of the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple has entered the data breach foray with a possible solution: Apple Pay. This mobile payment method allows consumers to pay for their purchases using their smartphone or other mobile devices, such as iPads and the new Apple Watch. Consumers don’t even have to open an app thanks to innovative near-field communication (NFC) technology used by both the iPhone 6 and participating retailers. One swipe is all it takes.

Apple Pay is said to be more secure than traditional payment methods due to its use of NFC technology and fingerprint identification. However, not all businesses are so quick to jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon. Retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy have opted out, choosing instead to offer their own form of mobile payment, CurrentC. However, CurrentC recently suffered its own data breach when hackers were able to break into the system and steal consumer email information, raising several eyebrows.

As the winter holiday season rapidly approaches, retails are preparing for consumers to empty both their traditional and mobile wallets. Forecasts for consumer holiday spending are surprisingly positive, with consumers expected to an average of $781 on Christmas and holiday gifts, the highest figure in nearly six years. Despite concern over data breaches, consumer optimism is high as the economy continues to pick up speed. In fact, credit card debt accounts for just 5.5% of total household debt in the United States.

While the debate over secure methods of payment will continue for quite some time, consumers are eager to spend and use their hard-earned cash, plastic, and mobile payment methods on gifts for the upcoming holidays.