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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

21,000 RSVP to teen's Facebook invitation

Will Facebook Get a Phone?
– Will Facebook Get a Phone?

Canada's privacy body to look into Facebook 'Like' button
AFP/Getty Images/File – Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, is seen here in May 2010 outlining Facebook's …

Word to the wise, folks: If you’re planning on inviting a small circle of your pals to a party at your place, make sure to uncheck the little box next to the "anyone can view and RSVP" setting before clicking the "Create Event" button.

Rebecca Javeleau, 14, of Herdfordshire, England, learned that lesson the hard way after the birthday party invitation she posted on Facebook got a few more replies than she’d been expecting.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Javeleau got a jaw-dropping 21,000 RSVPs from Facebook users around the globe — including from such (fake) celebs as Justin Bieber and Stephen Hawking — all because the (now-freaked-out) teenager had forgotten to mark the Facebook event for her 15th birthday as a private affair.

Facebook promptly took down the public page for Javeleau’s event, but that hasn’t stopped Facebook users from creating their own fan pages for the party, like this one. "HER PARTY WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY," promises the info section on the page, which has raked in more than 1,200 "likes" and wall posts from random users asking for directions.

Rather than calling the bakery to order another cake and more napkins, Javeleau’s worried mother promptly nixed the party (sorry, Rebecca), revoked the girl’s Internet privileges (harsh), and even called the police, who are said to be stepping up their patrols in case a swarm of Facebook pranksters decide to show up on the embarrassed teen’s doorstep, according to the Telegraph story.

Rebecca, whose cautionary tale also made CBS's "Daily Show" (check out the video here), isn’t the first hapless Facebook user to get more than she bargained for after posting a party invite on the site.

The Telegraph reported in February that more than 50 destructive gatecrashers descended on a home near Liverpool after a 15-year-old girl posted a Facebook invite for a small shindig.

The paper (which must have a writer dedicated to the "Facebook party crashers" beat) also told of a chaotic 2008 party crashed by about 100 "revelers" — although, to be fair, the cops in that case said it wasn’t clear whether the rampage was "Facebook-related." (And let’s face it: The phenomenon of teen parties gone disastrously awry pre-dates the Facebook era by a few decades.)

Earlier this year, a Facebook invite for a small birthday party in Australia drew an astounding 60,000 RSVPs, not to mention a slew of fan pages, a Twitter feed and even a T-shirt — that is, before the whole thing was revealed to be an elaborate hoax. Oh well.

Of course, sometimes a flood of unintended attention on Facebook can be a good thing, as one writer found out after a fan page for his book amassed 692,000 fans in only a few months. Unfortunately for the author, it turned out that Facebook users were more turned on by the catchy title of the book — "Shut Up, I’m Talking" — than for the book itself, which despite all its unexpected fans has yet to become a bestseller.

Anyway, the moral of the story? Check the privacy settings on your next Facebook event invite before you post it — and remember, if your list of Facebook friends includes hundreds of random folks you’ve hardly even met, don’t be surprised if you see a few extra faces at the next meeting of your Facebook-advertised book club.

(And finally, a note to Facebook: Shouldn’t event invites be set to "private" by default?)

Titanic sunk by steering mistake, author says

RMS Titanic
Reuters – The RMS Titanic in what is thought to be the last known image of the ship as she sets sail from Queenstown …

LONDON (Reuters) – The Titanic hit an iceberg in 1912 because of a basic steering error, and only sank as fast as it did because an official persuaded the captain to continue sailing, an author said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Louise Patten, a writer and granddaughter of Titanic second officer Charles Lightoller, said the truth about what happened nearly 100 years ago had been hidden for fear of tarnishing the reputation of her grandfather, who later became a war hero.

Lightoller, the most senior officer to have survived the disaster, covered up the error in two inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic because he was worried it would bankrupt the ill-fated liner's owners and put his colleagues out of a job.

"They could easily have avoided the iceberg if it wasn't for the blunder," Patten told the Daily Telegraph.

Click image to see recent Titanic expedition photos

AP/Premier Exhibitions, Inc.-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

"Instead of steering Titanic safely round to the left of the iceberg, once it had been spotted dead ahead, the steersman, Robert Hitchins, had panicked and turned it the wrong way."

Patten, who made the revelations to coincide with the publication of her new novel "Good as Gold" into which her account of events are woven, said that the conversion from sail ships to steam meant there were two different steering systems.

[Video: A closer look at the Titanic disaster]

Crucially, one system meant turning the wheel one way and the other in completely the opposite direction.

Once the mistake had been made, Patten added, "they only had four minutes to change course and by the time (first officer William) Murdoch spotted Hitchins' mistake and then tried to rectify it, it was too late."

Patten's grandfather was not on watch at the time of the collision, but he was present at a final meeting of the ship's officers before the Titanic went down.

There he heard not only about the fatal mistake but also the fact that J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of Titanic's owner the White Star Line persuaded the captain to continue sailing, sinking the ship hours faster than would otherwise have happened.

"If Titanic had stood still, she would have survived at least until the rescue ship came and no one need have died," Patten said.

The RMS Titanic was the world's biggest passenger liner when it left Southampton, England, for New York on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912. Four days into the trip, the ship hit an iceberg and sank, taking more than 1,500 passengers with it.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kanye West and how Twitter's changed how we communicate

Kanye West's Twitter stream shows how the site has changed communication.
Kanye West's Twitter stream shows how the site has changed communication.

(Mashable) -- If you needed any more proof that Twitter has transformed how we absorb information and communicate, look no further than Kanye West.

[On Sunday], the superstar rapper let loose a barrage of 70+ tweets, starting with a declaration of his love for Twitter and ending with an apology to Taylor Swift.

His apology refers to last year's VMA incident, where West rushed onto the stage and interrupted Swift's acceptance speech for best female music video. The incident has since turned into anInternet meme.

More importantly, the 33-year-old rapper was vilified by music fans, the media and even President Obama.

Yes, the rapper apologized on national TV and on his blog, but he has never been able to shake off the 2009 VMA incident, and if his Twitter is any indication, there are a lot of people that (understandably) won't let him live it down.

For whatever reason though, Kanye West decided [Sunday] to make his case, and he used his brand new Twitter account to do it.

Whether you think his "stream of consciousness" is the rambling of a broken man or his most heartfelt attempt yet to put the incident behind him, you can't help but appreciate the rawness of each tweet. There is no filter or middle man between his thoughts and the rest of the world.

I won't repost all of his tweets (check out his Twitter stream if you want the whole thing), but I do want to highlight a few of the tweets that encapsulate the raw nature of Sunday's barrage of tweets:

- "Had to let employees go... for the first time I felt the impact of my brash actions ... I felt the recession from an ownership side"

- "How deep is the scar... I bled hard.. cancelled tour with the number one pop star in the world ... closed the doors of my clothing office"

- "That's when you realize perception is reality. I've been straying from this subject on twitter but I have to give it to you guys raw now."

- "If you google Asshole my face may very well pop up"

- "I'm the guy who at one point could perform the Justin Timberlake on stage and everyone would be sooo happy that I was there"

- "When I woke up from the crazy nightmare I looked in the mirror and said GROW UP KANYE ... I take the responsibility for my actions"

- "These tweets have no manager, no publicist , no grammar checking... this is raw"

- "It starts with this..."

- "I'm sorry Taylor."

A few months ago, we would never have heard something like this from Kanye West. That's because his publicity team would never have let him say these things.

Then he got a Twitter account, giving him an opportunity to talk to his fans and to the rest of the world directly, without anybody to say "no."

Social media has changed the way we communicate. Information has never traveled faster. It has created frank and transparent conversations. It has given people a chance to directly express their thoughts to the rest of the world in a mater of seconds.

For years we've chronicled the amazing impact Twitter has had on our world here on Mashable.

In 2008, a Berkeley grad student used Twitter to tell his friends he was arrested in Egypt, leading to a mobilization effort that got him out of jail. Last year, Twitter rose to prominence for its role in theIran Election crisis. Earlier this year, Twitter showed us the devastation in Haiti in a way that has never been possible.

These are just a few examples of what Twitter has done. While Kanye West's tweets don't come close to the level of importance these events carried, his raw line of communication is another shining example of just how Twitter has changed our lives. Information has been set free.

Titanic expedition provides new images, but hurricane puts survey on hold

This image released on Saturday shows the starboard, or right, side of the Titanic’s bow.
This image released on Saturday shows the starboard, or right, side of the Titanic’s bow. (Premier Exhibitions Inc.-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution via AP)
Associated Press / August 31, 2010

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — A team surveying the wreck of the Titanic is showing off some crisp images of the world’s most famous shipwreck, but it has temporarily headed back to shore because of rough weather.

Officials from Expedition Titanic said Sunday that they were returning to Newfoundland because high seas and winds brought on by Hurricane Danielle were preventing researchers from carrying out their work.

The team of scientists has been using a pair of robots to take thousands of photographs and hours of video of the wreck, which lies roughly 2.5 miles below the surface. The high-resolution images include shots of the ship’s bow, clearly showing the railing and anchors.

The expedition left Newfoundland earlier this month to the spot in the Atlantic where the ship struck an iceberg in 1912 and sank. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished on the ship’s maiden voyage.

Scientist are using imaging technology and sonar devices never utilized before on the Titanic wreck. They are probing nearly a century of sediment in the debris field to seek a full inventory of the ship’s artifacts.

The expedition is a partnership between RMS Titanic Inc., which has exclusive salvage rights to the wreck, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

The team will not collect artifacts but is scheduled to probe a 2-by-3-mile debris field where hundreds of thousands of artifacts remain scattered.

Expedition officials say they intend to return to finish their work after a delay of a few days.

Since oceanographer Robert Ballard and an international team discovered the Titanic in 1985, most of the expeditions have either been to photograph the wreck or gather thousands of artifacts, like fine china, shoes, and ship fittings.

James Cameron, who directed the film “Titanic,’’ has also led teams to the wreck to record the bow and the stern, which separated during the sinking and now lie one-third of a mile apart.

Top US commander: Burning Quran endangers troops

KABUL, Afghanistan – The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warned Tuesday an American church's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book could endanger U.S. troops in the country and Americans worldwide.

Meanwhile, NATO reported the death of an American service member in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The comments from Gen. David Petraeus followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center - a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy - to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghan war.

"Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan - and around the world - to inflame public opinion and incite violence," Petraeus said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Muslims consider the Quran to be the word of God and insist it be treated with the utmost respect, along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect to the Quran is deeply offensive.

In 2005, 15 people died and scores were wounded in riots in Afghanistan sparked by a story in Newsweek magazine alleging interrogators at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay placed copies of the Quran in washrooms and flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. Newsweek later retracted the story.

At Monday's protest, several hundred Afghans rallied outside a Kabul mosque, burning American flags and an effigy of Dove World's pastor and chanting "death to America." Members of the crowd briefly pelted a passing U.S. military convoy with stones, but were ordered to stop by rally organizers.

Two days earlier, thousands of Indonesian Muslims rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and in five other cities to protest the church's plans.

Petraeus warned images of burning Qurans could be used to incite anti-American sentiment similar to the pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

"I am very concerned by the potential repercussions of the possible (Quran) burning. Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday," Petraeus said in his message. "Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul also issued a statement condemning the church's plans, saying Washington was "deeply concerned about deliberate attempts to offend members of religious or ethnic groups."

Dove World Outreach Center, which made headlines last year after distributing T-shirts that said "Islam is of the Devil," has been denied a permit to set a bonfire but has vowed to proceed with the burning. The congregation's website estimates it has about 50 members, but the church has leveraged the Internet with a Facebook page and blog devoted to its Quran-burning plans.

Church officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The American's death brings to at least six the number of U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan this month, along with at least four other non-American members of the international coalition.

Engagements with insurgents are rising along with the addition of another 30,000 U.S. troops, bringing the total number of international forces in the country to more than 140,000.

At least 322 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far this year, exceeding the previous annual record of 304 for all of 2009, according to an AP count.

Petraeus is asking for 2,000 more soldiers for the international force, NATO officials said Monday. It was unclear how many would be Americans.

Coalition officials said nearly half will be trainers for the rapidly expanding Afghan security forces and will include troops trained to neutralize roadside bombs that have been responsible for about 60 percent of the 2,000 allied deaths in the nearly nine-year war.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to talk about the issue with media, said the NATO-led command had been asking for the troops even before Petraeus assumed command here in July.

Petraeus recently renewed that request with the NATO command in Brussels. The alliance has had trouble raising more troops for the war effort, with at least 450 training slots still unfilled after more than a year.

With casualties rising, the war has become deeply unpopular in many of NATO's 28 member countries, suggesting the additional forces will have to come from the United States.

Also Tuesday, authorities confirmed the ambush killing of a district chief by suspected insurgents in the northern province of Baghlan on Monday afternoon. Nahrin district chief Rahmad Sror Joshan Pool was on his way home after a memorial service for slain anti-Soviet guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud when rocket-propelled grenades hit his vehicle, setting it on fire, said provincial spokesman Mahmood Haqmal.

Pool's bodyguard was also killed in the attack, and one militant died and two were wounded in the ensuing fire fight with police, Haqmal said.

Five children were killed and five wounded in Yaya Khil district in the southern province of Paktika when an insurgent rocket fired at an Afghan army base hit a home Monday evening, provincial government spokesman Mokhlais Afghan said.

Kidnappers also seized two electoral workers and their two drivers in the western province of Ghor, according to deputy provincial police chief Ahmad Khan Bashir.

Insurgents have waged a campaign of violence and intimidation to prevent Afghans from voting, especially in rural areas, while some pre-election violence has also been blamed on rivalries among the candidates.


Associated Press writers Slobodan Lekic in Brussels, Travis Reed in Miami, and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How frugal billionaires spend their money

Carlos Slim Helu (Carlos Slim), a telecom tycoon and billionaire with well-known frugal tendencies, has a net worth of $60.6 billion, according to Forbes. Assuming no changes in his net worth, he could spend $1,150 a minute for the next 100 years before he ran out of money. To put this in perspective, he could spend in 13 minutes what a minimum-wage earner brings home after an entire year of the daily grind.

Granted, the world's billionaires (all 1,011 of them) are in the debatably enviable position of having, quite literally, more money than they can possibly spend, yet some are still living well below their means, and save money in surprising places. Even non-billionaires (currently 6,864,605,142 of us) can partake in these seven spending tips from frugal billionaires:

[Click here to check savings products and rates in your area.]

1. Keep Your Home Simple
Billionaires can afford to live in the most exclusive mansions imaginable -- and many do, including Bill Gates' sprawling 66,000 square foot, $147.5 million dollar mansion in Medina, Wash. -- yet frugal billionaires like Warren Buffett choose to keep it simple. Buffett still lives in the five-bedroom house in Omaha that he purchased in 1957 for $31,500. Likewise, Carlos Slim has lived in the same house for more than 40 years.

2. Use Self-Powered or Public Transportation
Thrifty billionaires including John Caudwell, David Cheriton and Chuck Feeney prefer to walk, bike or use public transportation when getting around town. Certainly these wealthy individuals could afford to take a helicopter to their lunch meetings, or ride in chauffeur-driven Bentleys, but they choose to get a little exercise and take advantage of public transportation instead. Good for the bank account and great for the environment.

3. Buy Your Clothes off the Rack
While some people, regardless of their net value, place a huge emphasis on wearing designer clothes and shoes, some frugal billionaires decide it's simply not worth the effort, or expense. You can find David Cheriton, the Stanford professor who matched Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to the venture capitalists at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (resulting in a large reward of Google stock), wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the furniture company Ikea, avoids wearing suits, and John Caudwell, mobile phone mogul, buys his clothes off the rack instead of spending his wealth on designer clothes.

4. Keep your Scissors Sharp
The average haircut costs about $45, but people can and do spend up to $800 per cut and style. Multiply that by 8.6 (to account for a cut every six weeks) and it adds up to $7,200 per year, not including tips. These billionaires can certainly afford the most stylish haircuts, buy many cannot be bothered by the time it takes or the high price tag for the posh salons. Billionaires like John Caudwell and David Cheriton opt for cutting their own hair at home.

[Stock Picks From the World's Greatest Investors]

5. Drive a Regular Car
While billionaires like Larry Ellison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation) enjoy spending millions on cars, boats and planes, others remain low key with their vehicles of choice. Jim Walton (of the Wal-Mart clan) drives a 15-year-old pickup truck. Azim Premji, an Indian business tycoon, reportedly drives a Toyota Corolla. And Ingvar Kamprad of Ikea drives a 10-year-old Volvo. The idea is to buy a dependable car, and drive it into the ground. No need for a different car each day of the week for these frugal billionaires.

6. Skip Luxury Items
It may surprise some of us, but the world's wealthiest person, Carlos Slim (the one who could spend more than a thousand dollars a minute and not run out of money for one hundred years) does not own a yacht or a plane. (Reducing the amount you spend is the easiest way to make your money grow.)

Many other billionaires have chosen to skip these luxury items. Warren Buffett also avoids these lavish material items, stating, "Most toys are just a pain in the neck."

What We Can Learn
Some of the world's billionaires have frugal tendencies. Perhaps this thrifty nature even helped them make some of their money. Regardless, they have chosen to avoid some unnecessary spending (at least on their scale) and the 6,864,605,142 non-billionaires out there can follow suit, eliminating excessive, keep-up-with-the-Jones style spending. No matter what a person's income bracket is, most can usually find a way to cut back on frivolous spending, just like a few frugal billionaires.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Muslim-Americans launch PR initiatives, promote Sept. 11 as day of national service

protesters near ground zero

In an effort to push back against negative views of Islam and Muslims, grassroots Muslim groups are launching a series of initiatives to convey to non-Muslim-Americans that they are also Americans.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a series of advertisements today that will run on national television, clearly intended to counter some of the furor over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero. In one spot, a New York firefighter who was a first responder after the Sept. 11 attacks talks about losing a loved one before announcing that he is a Muslim.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said the point of the ad is to "challenge the notion that Muslims were not also targeted on 9/11."

A national CBS poll from last month showed that 40 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of Islam. More than 70 percent of respondents said building a mosque near Ground Zero was not appropriate. And only 62 percent of Americans think Muslims should have the same right as other groups to build places of worship in their communities, a Pew Research poll found.

You can watch the CAIR "first responder" ad after the jump:

Meanwhile, Edina Lekovic, director of policy at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, is helping to organize a grassroots Muslim Day of Service planned for Sept. 11. The group coordinated more than 3,500 service projects in the past year as part of President Obama's National Day of Service initiative, but Lekovic says the push is especially important now.

"Given the climate in the country right now and the ... intense levels of attacks that many Muslims are feeling, this effort is meant to channel those emotions toward something that is good both for our faith and our country," Lekovic said.

Rather than just be "outraged" over incidents like the group planning to burn Korans in Gainesville, Florida on Sept. 11, Lekovic told The Upshot the day of service is an opportunity to "show who we are rather than just talk about who we are."

A separate grassroots initiative called "My Faith My Voice" also launched an advertisment this week featuring Muslim-Americans saying they renounce terrorism and do not want to take over the country or impose their faith on anyone.

"These are sincere efforts by everyday American Muslims to demonstrate who we are and that we are in every possible way just like every other American, and the kinds of awful and dangerous attacks that are happening now are fundamentally un-American," Lekovic said. "We're actually quite boring!"

Anti-Islamic sentiments are spreading well beyond the battle over the proposed Park51 community center near Ground Zero. At least two mosques far from New York have received hate-filled messages opposing the proposed mosque in Lower Manhattan, and a fire at a mosque construction site in Tennessee is now being investigated as arson.

(Photo: Anti-mosque protesters near Ground Zero/AP)

Number of illegal immigrants in US now declining

FILE - This file photo taken July 28, 2010, shows a group of illegal immigrants waiting in line while being deported to Mexico at the Nogales Port of

AP – FILE - This file photo taken July 28, 2010, shows a group of illegal immigrants waiting in line while …

WASHINGTON – The number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. has dropped for the first time in two decades — decreasing by 8 percent since 2007, a new study finds. The reasons range from the sour economy to Mexican violence and increased U.S. enforcement that has made it harder to sneak across the border.

Much of the decline comes from a sharp drop-off in illegal immigrants from the Caribbean, Central America and South America attempting to cross the southern border of the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center, which based its report on an analysis of 2009 census data.

The findings come amid bitter debate over Arizona's strict new immigration law, which was passed earlier this year but is on hold for now as it is challenged in federal court. The Obama administration contends the state law usurps federal authority and promotes racial profiling, while Arizona leaders say states are justified to step in if federal enforcement falls substantially short.

The study released Wednesday estimates that 11.1 million illegal immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2009. That represents a decrease of roughly 1 million, or 8 percent, from a peak of 12 million in 2007.

The study puts the number of illegal immigrants down to about where it was in 2005. They still make up roughly 4 percent of the U.S. population.

The Homeland Security Department's own estimate of illegal immigrants is slightly lower, at 10.8 million. The government uses a different census survey that makes some year-to-year comparisons difficult.

An increase in unauthorized immigrants leaving the U.S., by deportation or for economic reasons, may have played a factor in the falling number.

In recent years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported an increasing number of illegal immigrants, reaching a high last year of more than 389,000 people, according to government figures.

States in the Southeast and Southwest saw some of the biggest declines in the number of illegal immigrants from 2008 to 2009, including Florida, Nevada and Virginia. Arizona saw a decrease, but it was too small to be statistically significant.

It's hard to figure out how much of the decline to attribute to the bad economy and how much to federal immigration enforcement, said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew who co-wrote the analysis.

"They're certainly acting together," he said. Passel said illegal immigrants now find it more expensive and dangerous to cross into the U.S. and also have less incentive to do so given the languishing job market in construction and other low-wage industries.

The Pew analysis found the sharpest decline — 22 percent — among illegal immigrants from Latin American countries other than Mexico. This may reflect a lesser-known aspect of the immigration debate that broke into the news again last week when the bodies of 72 Central and South American migrants were found in a cartel stronghold in northern Mexico: Thousands of non-Mexicans go missing on their way to the United States, falling victim to demands that they pay impossible ransoms to criminal gangs that control access to the U.S. border.

"While people are arguing the government is not stopping illegal immigration, our data suggests the flow of undocumented immigrants sneaking into the country has dropped dramatically," Passel said.

The estimates by Pew will add to the political back-and-forth on immigration reform.

President Barack Obama, who is challenging the Arizona law, has pledged to push an overhaul of federal immigration law but has declined to set a timeline.

After the passage of Arizona's immigration law, more than a dozen states were considering similar legislation or have issued legal opinions aimed at strengthening immigration enforcement. They include Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Utah.

Boosted by immigration and high numbers of births among Latinos, minorities now make up roughly half the children born in the U.S., part of a historic trend in which they are projected to become the majority of Americans by mid-century. Roughly one in four counties currently have more minority children than white children or are nearing that point.

Still, the Census Bureau has made clear that projected minority growth — particularly among Hispanics — could change substantially depending on immigration policies and the economy.

Other Pew findings:

_The states with the highest percentage of illegal immigrants were California (6.9 percent), Nevada (6.8 percent), Texas (6.5 percent) and Arizona (5.8 percent). The numbers are expected to play an important factor in whether those states lose or gain fewer U.S. House seats than expected after the 2010 census.

_Illegal immigrants make up about 28 percent of the foreign-born population in the U.S., down from 31 percent in 2007.

_The unemployment rate for illegal immigrants in March 2009 was 10.4 percent — higher than that of U.S.-born workers or legal immigrants, who had unemployment of 9.2 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate of welcoming more immigrants to the U.S., said he was not surprised by the study's findings.

"It exemplifies what I've been saying all along," Bloomberg told reporters. "Not totally, but generally, people come here from around the world — whether they come here legally or illegally — to work, to build a better life for themselves and for their families. And when our economy is down, it's just tougher to get a job."

The Pew analysis is based on census data through March 2009. Because the Census Bureau does not ask people about their immigration status, the estimate on illegal immigrants is derived largely by subtracting the estimated legal immigrant population from the total foreign-born population. It is a method that has been used by the government and Pew for many years and is generally accepted.


Associated Press writer Sara Kugler Frazier in New York contributed to this report.



Pew Hispanic Center:

Rapper T.I., wife arrested on drug charges

T.I. AP – FILE - Rapper T.I. whose real name is Clifford Harris speaks to reporters outside the Richard B. Russell …

LOS ANGELES – Rapper T.I. and wife Tameka Cottle were arrested late Wednesday night on drug charges after police smelled alleged marijuana coming from their car, authorities said.

The arrests for possession of a controlled substance occurred on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood during a traffic stop, Los Angeles sheriff's deputy Mark Pope told The Associated Press.

"Deputies smelled a strong odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle," the department said. "A narcotics investigation ensued" that resulted in the arrests.

The department's media office said it didn't yet have details on which specific drug the possession charge concerned.

The arrests reflect that last week of socialite Paris Hilton, whose is being investigated for felony cocaine possession after a motorcycle officer smelled pot wafting from her car.

The Atlanta-based T.I., 29, whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., and Cottle, a 36-year-old singer with the group Xscape, were booked at the West Hollywood sheriff's station and bail was set at $10,000 each.

Pope said at 4 a.m. PDT Thursday that he didn't know if they were still being held.

T.I., who has a key role in the current top box office movie "Takers," served seven months in an Arkansas federal prison and three months in a Georgia halfway house on federal weapons charges and was released in March.

TMZ reports that T.I. is on probation stemming from the prison term.

Since then, things have been looking up for the Grammy winner.

The father of five married Cottle in late July. "Takers," a shoot 'em up about an armored truck robbery that goes bad, was released in late August, and a new album, "King Uncaged," is due later this month.

The Stig's ID is 'Top Gear' secret no more

This photo combo shows an undated file photo of the driver for the BBC motoring programme Top Gear  "The Stig"  left,  and Ben Collins seen at the  Hi AP – This photo combo shows an undated file photo of the driver for the BBC motoring programme Top Gear 'The …

LONDON – The opaque visor of one of Britain's most famous helmets has been lifted.

The identity of The Stig, the always-anonymous test driver on the popular television show "Top Gear," has long been a closely guarded secret. On Wednesday, lawyers said the BBC had been refused an injunction blocking publication of a book revealing the identity of the character.

Shortly after, publishers HarperCollins said in a statement that a 33-year-old racing driver named Ben Collins "has a great story to tell about his seven years as The Stig, which will appeal to a wide audience beyond just motoring enthusiasts."

Calling it a "victory for freedom of speech," HarperCollins said the book will be published in Britain on Sept. 16.

The white-suited Stig is the second in the role; the first Stig, who wore a black suit and helmet, was Perry McCarthy. He left the show in 2003 after his identity was revealed.

The show has a long-standing policy of not commenting on The Stig's identity. A "Top Gear" spokeswoman said no decision has been made on whether the character will be back when the show returns.

"Top Gear" is one of the BBC's most successful programs, and is seen in more than 100 countries around the world. Alongside the show's three garrulous hosts, The Stig is an always-silent presence, fearlessly navigating the show's test track in glamorous cars.

Speculation over his identity is a favorite pastime for fans of the show, and the "Top Gear" website sells T-shirtsSpeculation over his identity is a favorite pastime for fans of the show, and the "Top Gear" website sells T-shirts proclaiming "I am The Stig," "I am not The Stig," and "I am The Stig's fat cousin," among others.

"The whole point of The Stig is the mystique — the bizarre characteristics he has, the wonderment created about what he might think, feel, do or look like," producer Andy Wilman said in a post on the show's website. "Kids adore the conceit, and I believe adults, although they know it's a man in a suit (or is it?) gladly buy into the whole conceit because they find it entertaining."

The Stig's Facebook page — which more than 2.5 million people "like" — says he was recently attacked by a goose, that his ears "are not where you would expect them to be," and that he thinks the movie "Star Wars" is a documentary.

The BBC said it sought the injunction — the hearing was held in private — because viewers like the mystery surrounding the driver's identity and it's "vital to protect the character of The Stig."

The broadcaster said that the judgment does not prevent them from taking the issue further in the courts.

'The BBC will not be deterred from protecting such information from attack no matter when or by whom it should arise," the broadcaster said in a statement.

Collins' website says he has raced on the Formula Three and NASCAR circuits, and drove James Bond's Aston Martin in the 2008 film "Quantum of Solace."