As reported in the UK's Daily Star newspaper, Beckham - who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy - won the dubious distinction largely because of the tremendous amount of jet-setting he does around the world. "The amount of flying David does means he holds the dubious crown of having the largest carbon footprint in human history," said a spokesman for the Carbon Trust. "In the last year he has traveled more than 250,000 air miles, a length which could have taken him to the far side of the moon and beyond."
As if that wasn't bad enough, the Star further reported that Beckham and his wife Victoria, also known as "Posh Spice," logged another 50,000 air miles flying hither and thither to fulfill their various advertising contracts.
And as if THAT wasn't bad enough, Beckham owns a fleet of 15 gas-guzzling vehicles, including a Porsche, a Lincoln Navigator and (but of course!) a Hummer. Although to be completely fair, he can only drive one of them at a time.
"A celeb like Becks, who claims the need to travel on such a massive scale, should be making an effort to counteract the damage he is doing," said a spokesman for England's Green Party.
"Beck's legacy beckons," commented Plenty Magazine, a green publication. "Maybe the new year will help determine which reputation he'll leave to represent his time on Earth: Becks as the eco criminal, or the soccer star who cleaned up his act and in the process, the planet."
Now that's a blizzard!For at least the second time this year, our colleagues at Bend's Other Newspaper have described one of our town's recent modest snowstorms as a "blizzard."
The lead story on the paper's front page Monday stated: "After a blizzard dumped anywhere from 2 to 7 inches of new snow Sunday in Central Oregon ..." Upfront recognizes that hyperbole is a well-established journalistic tradition, but it's time to inject a little reality here.
Although the definition of "blizzard" is somewhat imprecise, a few inches of snow softly covering the landscape in a blanket of white doesn't come close to qualifying as a "blizzard" by any standard. (Well, maybe by the Portland or Southern California standard, but not by any reasonable one.) The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm with sustained winds of 35 mph or above, causing drifting snow and reducing visibility to a quarter-mile or less, and continuing for at least three hours.
The famous Blizzard of 1888, which went on for three days, paralyzed New York City with snowdrifts up to 50 feet high, killed 400 people and sunk 200 ships, was a blizzard. What happened in Bend on Sunday was just a gentle snowfall.
Sexual organ?Is the human buttocks a "sexual organ"? ABC-TV says - pretty convincingly, in Upfront's view - that it isn't. But the Federal Communications Commission says it is, and that could end up costing ABC $1.4 million.
Back in February 2003, ABC aired an episode of the popular cop series NYPD Blue in which a scene showed a young boy surprising a woman who was about to take a shower. The woman's bare butt was displayed on screen several times.
Federal law forbids the broadcasting of "indecent material" between the hours of 6 and 10 pm. The offending episode ran from 10 to 11 pm in the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones, but ABC ran afoul of the law because it ran from 9 to 10 pm in the Central and Mountain Time Zones.
The network argued that the backside is not a sexual organ, but the notoriously prudish FCC rejected that line of reasoning, ruling that "the programming at issue is within the scope of our indecency definition because it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs - specifically an adult woman's buttocks." Last Friday it slapped ABC with a fine of $1.7 million, based on $27,500 for each of the 52 stations on which the show aired before 10 pm.
The profound philosophical question of whether the butt is a sexual organ or merely an erogenous zone may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court: ABC says it will appeal the fine.
As a rule Oregonians don't like to see their state ranked dead last, but last week it won a distinction that we can all be proud of: It's the least corrupt of the 35 largest states in America.
Anyway, that was the conclusion reached by Corporate Crime Reporter, a weekly legal newsletter based in Washington, DC.
The staff of the newsletter arrived at their rankings by looking at the U.S. Justice Department's compilation of all federal corruption convictions in each state over the past decade. (The 15 smallest states were omitted from the data.) They added up the total convictions for each state and calculated the number of convictions for each 100,000 residents to arrive at a corruption rate.
The results were somewhat surprising, in spots. New Jersey, which has a rep for corruption going back a century, only made it to Number 9. Two other legendarily corrupt states, New York and Illinois, came in at Number 10 and Number 6, respectively.
In the other top spots were Louisiana (first), Mississippi (second), Kentucky (third), Alabama (fourth), Ohio (fifth), Pennsylvania (seventh) and Florida (eighth).
At the bottom of the list, in descending order of corruptness, were Indiana, South Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, Washington,
Utah, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and - ta-dah! - Oregon, in last place with a corruption rating of 0.68. (For comparison, Louisiana's score was 7.67.)
Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, cautioned that the ratings have their limitations: "Public officials in any given state can be corrupt to the core, and if a federal prosecutor doesn't have the resources or the sheer political will to bring the case and win a conviction, the public corruption will not be reflected in the Justice Department's data set."
What the hell - we'll take it anyway.