Dateline: Week Of December 1, 2008 In News, Pop Culture, Tech, Celebrity, Entertainment & Fascinating Facts
In The News -
Economists say the USA is in a recession and that it really began last December.
The committee of economists responsible for determining the dates of business cycles said Monday that they met by conference call on Friday, Nov. 28 and "the committee determined that a peak in economic activity occurred in the U.S. economy in December 2007. " The peak marks the end of the expansion that began in November 2001 and the beginning of a recession."
President-elect Barack Obama, announcing a "new dawn of American leadership," presented his top national security team Monday, picking former presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and asking Robert Gates to stay on as defense secretary.
Obama also named Eric Holder, as Attorney General, and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as secretary of Homeland Security.
In two other senior foreign policy announcements, he named foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador and retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones as national security adviser.
President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday named New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be his secretary of Commerce. A former member of Congress, Richardson served as ambassador to the United Nations and Energy secretary in former President Bill Clinton's administration.
William Balfour is held without bail in the slayings of Jennifer Hudson’s family as prosecutors suggested jealousy as a possible motive. Balfour, facing first degree murder charges for the three killings, had threatened the family with harm if his estranged wife Julia Hudson – Jennifer's sister – continued to date another man, prosecutors alleged at a bond hearing in Chicago.
Prosecutors said Balfour also had gone to Julia's workplace in October to complain about her seeing the man, the Chicago Tribune reports.
O.J. Simpson Update – December 1, 2008
O.J. Simpson, insisting "I didn't mean to hurt anybody," was sentenced to is sentenced to much as 33 years in prison for kidnapping, armed robbery and other convictions stemming from a confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers in 2007.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys said Simpson would have to serve at least nine years before eligible for parole, meaning the 61-year-old former football and movie star would be 70 years old before seeing freedom.
Business/Economy News – December 1, 2008
Although retail gasoline prices have fallen 55% since mid-July, wholesale prices have plunged even more sharply — 68%, according to the Oil Price Information Service. As a result, retailers have enjoyed record profit margins since mid-September.
"Guess what? They're making substantially more money at $1.89 (a gallon) than they were at $4.29," says OPIS chief oil analyst Tom Kloza. A barrel of oil dipped below $50.00 this week.
Oil tumbled below $44 a barrel and average gasoline prices slipped under $1.80 a gallon, both four-year lows, as unemployment benefit claims hit a 26-year high and major companies announced more job cuts.
The unprecedented decline in energy prices has provided some relief to consumers and businesses.
Employers slashed jobs at the swiftest pace in 34 years in November, leading the unemployment rate to rise to 6.7% from 6.5% in October and the highest in 15 years, the government said Friday. Speaking after the report, President Bush used the word "recession" for the first time to describe the economy's state.
The report points to a rapidly deepening recession. The unemployment rate was held down as discouraged workers dropped out of the job pool.
Adding in those who have given up looking for work and people working part time because they can't find full-time work, unemployment was 12.5% in November, up from 11.8% in October and highest since the department began tracking the number in 1994.
Video Games/Technology News – December 1, 2008
Video games expected to do well this holiday season as experts expect overall retail sales to grow a modest 2.2% over last year, but sales of video games could improve as much as 15% over 2007, says analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities. "With the hours of play that video games give you, it's a very cost-effective purchase," he says.
This past weekend and recent trends are giving gaming retailers reason to be optimistic. The Game Crazy retail chain, with 562 stores in the USA, had 50% higher sales on Friday than in 2007, and more than 30% higher sales Saturday.
Entertainment/Celebrity News – December 1, 2008
On Wednesday's Ellen DeGeneres Show, Brad Pitt appears via satellite from the lower ninth ward in New Orleans and gives the talk show host some tips on how to "catch" George Clooney. "We need George Clooney!" she tells him. "Ah, I heard this," Pitt replies. "What have you been doing…?"
Britney Spears new album “Circus” is released this week and considered by many to be her comeback album.
Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines is the target of a defamation lawsuit by the stepfather of one of three 8-year-old boys slain in 1993.Maines spoke out for three people convicted of the slayings and alleged the stepfather was instead involved in the killings.
Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Steve Branch, who was killed 1993 with Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Nov. 25. The suit names all three members of the Dixie Chicks, but focuses on Maines. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Hobbs claims he suffered loss of income, injury to his reputation and emotional distress..