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Dateline: Week Of December 22, 2008 In News, Pop Culture, Tech, Celebrity, Entertainment  & Fascinating Facts 



In The News

The average national price of gasoline fell 9 cents the past two weeks, bringing it to its lowest point in nearly five years, according to national surveys. The average price of regular gasoline Friday was $1.66 a gallon, oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said. The price of mid-grade was $1.80 a gallon and the price of premium was $1.92 a gallon.

Toyota – Japan’s top auto maker slashes its earnings forecast again this week, projecting that it would report its first operating loss ever for the fiscal year through March on waning global demand and a surging yen. "The change that has hit the world economy is of a critical scale that comes once in a hundred years," President Katsuaki Watanabe said at the company's Nagoya office. The drop in vehicle sales over the last month was "far faster, wider and deeper than expected."

Let it snow - Several thousand travelers remained stranded Monday after a rare weekend snowstorm walloped Seattle. The National Weather Service said 6 inches of snow fell in the area Saturday and Sunday, leaving some travelers trapped at the airport and that "several thousand" people were still stranded at Sea-Tac airport. Airport officials handed out 2,000 blankets Sunday night, and the American Red Cross delivered 200 cots. Elsewhere, residents and work crews dug out from what many called the worst snows in years. The 14.5-inch snowfall Sunday in Portland, Maine, surpassed the old record for Dec. 21 of 12.4 inches, set in 1933, according to the National Weather Service.

Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas message warned that the world was headed toward ruin if selfishness prevails over solidarity during tough economic times. Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, Benedict declared that the "heart of the Christian message is meant for all men and women."

Peruvian police say five nightclubbers are dead after a tear gas grenade was detonated in the middle of a crowded disco. Police officer Jaime Munoz says nine people including a minor have been arrested on suspicion of setting off the canister in the "Boom" nightclub.

Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing at least 290 and wounding more than 700 in the  bloodiest fighting in recent memory


Fascinating Facts – Religion News – December 22, 2008

Two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on U.S. life, a sharp jump from just three years ago when Americans were nearly evenly split on the question, according to a new Gallup Poll. Sixty-seven percent of Americans think religious influence is waning while just 27% say it is increasing. That perspective demonstrates a continuing downward trend, Gallup said. But the 27% figure is still higher than the record low, set in a 1970 poll, when just 14% of Americans thought religion was increasing in influence.


Sports News – December 22, 2008

A football spectator pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing and assault and battery for tackling New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau on the sidelines during the team’s 47-7 win over Arizona on Sunday. Todd Kobus, of Attleboro, appeared in Wrentham District Court on Monday where a pretrial hearing was set for Feb. 17. “I’m just a big fan of Junior Seau,” the 31-year-old Kobus said in court. “I meant to give him a big hug. I absolutely did not mean to tackle him or anything along those lines. It was a stupid lapse in judgment.”


Technology News – December 22, 2008

Wal-Mart confirmes that it will be selling Apple’s iPhone 3G beginning Sunday at about 2,500 stores. The price, with a new two-year service agreement with AT&T (or qualified upgrade), is $197 for the black 8GB model and $297 for the black or white 16GB version. "We are delighted to bring customers this groundbreaking mobile technology," Gary Severson, Wal-Mart senior vice president of entertainment, said in a statement. "Our electronics associates have been preparing for many weeks for the arrival of iPhone 3G."


Entertainment/Celebrity/Movie News – December 22, 2008

The most popular Christmas song in terms of download sales  is “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with 480,000 downloads. 

Movie results from last week - Jim Carrey's comedy Yes Man was No. 1 with $18.2 million, according to studio estimates from box-office trackers Nielsen EDI. The debut was about $5 million below projections.Smith's drama Seven Pounds also took a hit. It brought in $16 million, about $3 million below what analysts predicted. That puts in jeopardy Smith's streak of eight straight movies to take in more than $100 million.

Movie estimates – day after Christmas… Box office takes nationally are: No. 1 Fox's Marley And Me $15M in 3,480 theaters, No. 2 Paramount's The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button $11M from 2,988 venues, No. 3 Disney's Bedtime Stories $10M for 3,681 runs, and No. 4 MGM/UA's Valkyrie $8M from 2,711 plays, No. 5 Warner Bros' Yes Man $5.5M for 3,434 theaters, No. 6 Sony's Seven Pounds $4.5M in 2,758 dates, and No. 7 Lionsgate's The Spirit $3.5M from 2,509 venues.

Passing - Eartha Kitt, a sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died, a family spokesman said. She was 81. Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died Thursday in Connecticut of colon cancer. Kitt, a self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.


Top Movies – December 22, 2008

Marley and Me

Bedtime Stories

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Yes Man

Seven Pounds

Tales of Despereaux

The Day The Earth Stood Still

The Spirit


Four Christmases



Top Pop Hits  - December 22, 2008

Womanizer - Britney Spears

Live Your Life - T.I. fea. Rihanna

I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

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