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Dateline: Week Of December 22, 2009 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In The News -

The economy grew at a 2.2 percent pace in the third quarter, as the recovery got off to a weaker start than previously thought. However, all signs suggest the economy will end the year on stronger footing. The Commerce Department's new reading on gross domestic product for the July-to-September quarter was slower than the 2.8 percent growth rate estimated just a month ago. Economists were predicting that figure wouldn't be revised in the government's final estimate on third-quarter GDP.

Two down, one to go. President Barack Obama's health care overhaul easily cleared its second 60-vote test in the Senate early Tuesday morning. Senate Democrats remained united in their goal of passing historic legislation by Christmas, and Republicans were steadfast in opposition. The motion to shut off debate on a package put together by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid passed 60-39.

Senate Democrats passed a landmark health care bill in a climactic Christmas Eve vote that could define President Barack Obama's legacy and usher in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the country's history. "We are now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the American people," Obama said shortly after the Senate acted.

The Senate voted to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year. The Senate's rare Christmas Eve vote, 60-39, follows House passage last week and raises the debt ceiling by $290 billion. The vote split mainly down party lines, with Democrats voting to raise the limit and Republicans voting against doing so. There was one defection on each side, by senators whose seats will be on the ballot next year: GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.

A fitful economic recovery is drawing strength from a stabilizing job market and signs that manufacturing will contribute to the rebound.The latest sign was a government report Thursday that the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week. And the four-week average for claims, which smooths out fluctuations, fell for the 16th straight week, to its lowest point since September 2008, when the financial crisis hit with full force.

A slight economic recovery is drawing strength from a stabilizing job market and signs that manufacturing will contribute to the rebound. The latest sign was a government report that the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week. And the four-week average for claims, which smooths out fluctuations, fell for the 16th straight week, to its lowest point since September 2008, when the financial crisis hit with full force.

Terrorist attack fizzles on plane over U.S. - The U.S. system for checking suspicious travelers and airport security came under new scrutiny after an alleged terrorist bent on destroying a jetliner was thwarted only by a malfunctioning detonator and some quick-thinking passengers.

An apparent malfunction in a device designed to detonate the high explosive PETN may have been all that saved the 278 passengers and the crew aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day. No undercover air marshal was on board and passengers subdued the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria. Abdulmutallab was hospitalized with burns from the attack and was read an indictment filed Saturday in federal court in Detroit charging him with attempting to destroy or wreck an aircraft and placing a destructive device in a plane. He was released from the hospital Sunday to the custody of federal marshals, who would not reveal where he was being held. But his lawyer said he was being held at a federal prison in Milan, Mich.

The explosive device used by the would-be Detroit bomber contained a widely available — and easily detected — chemical explosive that has a long history of terrorist use, according to government officials and explosive experts.

In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen. A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said.

President Obama news  december 22 2009President Barack Obama said he has ordered a review of the nation's watch list system and of its air safety regulations and has asked his national security team to keep up the pressure on terrorists aiming to attack the U.S. Obama said U.S. officials are doing everything in their power to ensure Americans are safe in the wake of the Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit.

Better holiday sales and rising commodities prices pushed stocks to their sixth straight gain and new highs for 2009.Major indexes edged higher in light trading Monday after sales figures showed shoppers spent more freely this holiday season, a sign that consumers are feeling better about the economy. Figures from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which track all forms of payment, show retail sales rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, after dropping during that time last year. Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1 percent gain.

Pirates seized a British-flagged chemical tanker and a Panamanian-flagged carrier off Somalia's coast and were holding 45 crew members. The two hijackings showed that pirates are relentless in their pursuit of quick money from ransom and that ship owners need to take extra precaution when sailing in the Horn of Africa, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Business/Economy News - December 22, 2009 -

Johnson & Johnson is expanding a voluntary recall of Tylenol Arthritis Caplets due to consumer reports of a moldy smell that can cause nausea and sickness. According to a statement posted to the Food and Drug Administration Web site late Monday, the New Brunswick, N.J., company is now recalling all product lots of the Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count bottles with the red EZ-Open Cap.

Employers expect to hire more new workers in 2010 than they did in 2009, a sign the recession may be easing its grip, research showed on Tuesday.One-fifth of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees next year, up from 14 percent in 2009, according to website careerbuilder, an online jobs site that surveyed more than 2,700 hiring managers and human resource professionals.

Fascinating Facts – December 22, 2009 –

Tavern on the Green, once America's highest-grossing restaurant, is singing its culinary swan song. The former sheepfold at the edge of Central Park, now ringed by twinkling lights and fake topiary animals, is preparing for New Year's Eve, when it will serve its last meal. Just three years ago, it was plating more than 700,000 meals annually, bringing in more than $38 million. But that astronomical sum wasn't enough to keep the landmark restaurant out of bankruptcy court. Its $8 million debt is to be covered at an auction of Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, Tiffany stained glass, a mural depicting Central Park and other over-the-top decor that has bewitched visitors for decades.

An escaped British prisoner is taunting police and attracting a growing Internet fan base from his Facebook profile, mocking authorities for failing to find him and openly musing about moving across the Atlantic. But police say the convicted burglar's antics on the popular social networking site haven't gone unnoticed and have appealed to his more than 3,800 Facebook friends to help track him down. Craig "Lazie" Lynch, 28, escaped from the minimum-security Hollesley Bay Prison near the village of Woodbridge in southern England three months ago. Since then, he's been regularly updating his Facebook page with ungrammatical digs at police, as well as pictures showing him holding a "wanted" sign or making obscene gestures at the camera.

In an exclusive analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the Rise of China has been determined to be the Top News Story of the Decade followed by the Iraq War, the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, the War on Terror, and the Death of Michael Jackson. Completing the Top Ten were the Election of Obama to US presidency, the Global Recession of 2008/2009, Hurricane Katrina, the War in Afghanistan, and the onset of the Financial Tsunami/Economic Meltdown. Rounding out the list were the Beijing Olympics, the South Asian Tsunami, the War against the Taliban, the Death of Pope John Paul II, and Osama bin-Laden eludes capture.

GLM’s top words for 2009:

1. Twitter — The ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters

2. Obama — The word stem transforms into scores of new words like ObamaCare

3. H1N1 — The formal (and politically correct) name for Swine Flu

4. Stimulus — The $800 billion aid package meant to help mend the US economy

5. Vampire — Vampires are very much en vogue, now the symbol of unrequited love

6. 2.0 — The 2.0 suffix is attached to the next generation of everything

Sports News – December 22, 2009

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has been suspended while the school investigates complaints from a player and his family about treatment after an injury. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill will be the interim coach and lead the team in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 against Michigan State. McNeill will remain in charge of the team until the investigation is complete. (A few days later, he was fired).

Entertainment/Music News – December 22, 2009 -

;eamm ro,es divorce   december 2009The same day Deane Sheremet filed for divorce from LeAnn Rhimes - Dec. 17, the two reached a confidential divorce settlement, according to Los Angeles court records. "The [settlement] shall not be filed in this proceeding due to the parties mutual desire to maintain their respective rights to privacy," the document states.

Passing - Arnold Stang, a radio, theater, film and television actor famous for his nerdy looks and demeanor, has died. His son says Stang died of pneumonia. He was 91.

Passing – Alaina Reed Hall (Olivia Robinson of Sesame Street.) She was 63.

Passing – George Michael – Legendary top-40 DJ in Philadelphia and New York. Later – hosted and produced the groundbreaking George Michael Sports Machine – seen Sunday nights. He was 70.

It’s new – Usher’s “VIP” cologne.

carrie underwood gets engaged    dec 2009Carrie Underwood and Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher get engaged this week.

Movie director James Cameron gets his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…Taylor Swift gets AP’s Entertainer of the Year. And, she split from her boyfriend – Taylor Lautner (best known for the Twilight movie).

Britney Spears is a brunette again.

Police say Ivana Trump has been escorted off a plane in Florida after she became belligerent when children were running and screaming in the aisles. Authorities say the first ex-wife of billionaire “the” Donald, cursed at the children Saturday, and when flight attendants on the New York-bound plane tried to calm her, she became even more aggravated.

Movie News - December 22, 2009 -

In Hollywood's biggest-ever box-office weekend, "Avatar" held the top spot while earning only slightly less during its second week of release. According to studio estimates , James Cameron’s' 3-D epic earned $75 million for 20th Century Fox, only a 3 percent drop from its opening weekend total of $77.4 million. "Sherlock Holmes" followed close behind with $65.4 million, including a record Christmas Day debut of $24.9 million. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" took in $50.2 million. Overall, it was the largest weekend gross with an estimated $278 million in total box office. The previous record was set in July 2008, the weekend that "The Dark Knight" was released.

More Entertainment News – December 22, 2009 -

charlie sheen arrested domestic violence   dec 2009Authorities say actor Charlie Sheen has been accused of using a weapon in an alleged case of domestic violence in Aspen. Sheen spent part of Christmas Day in jail after being arrested at a home in the Colorado ski resort town. Sheen, the star of CBS' "Two and a Half Men," was taken to the Pitkin County jail and booked for investigation of second-degree assault and menacing, both felonies, along with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. He wasn't charged and was released later Friday after posting an $8,500 bond. Prosecutors will determine whether to file charges.

Tyra Banks is ending her daily TV talk show and wants to concentrate on production. “This year I'll be unveiling some HUGE surprises from me and my company Bankable - new out-of-the-box projects," Tyra wrote. "And I'm incredibly excited to announce that I'll be launching Bankable Studios soon, which means my company will be making MOVIES!!! And what I love about creating new projects is that it also creates new jobs for talented people, in front of and behind the camera."

rush limbaugh in hospital   dec 2009 Conservative U.S. radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was resting comfortably at a hospital in Hawaii after suffering chest pains, his Web site said. Local KITV television, citing unnamed sources, said earlier that Limbaugh, 58, was in serious condition at Honolulu's Queen's Medical Center after being treated at a hotel by paramedics.

The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week, a sign the job market is healing as the economy slowly recovers.

Dick Clark ushers in his 36th New Years - Clark, who turned 79 last month and has been in front of the cameras for 61 years, said that his appearance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2009," diminished though it may be, is a labor of love and "not really a job." "Obviously, I'm not able to be as actively involved as I used to be out on the street, up on a platform and interacting with the crowds in Times Square" in New York, Clark wrote. "Thank goodness my friend Ryan Seacrest is able to handle that end of the activity on the show these days. ABC-TV's 3 1/2-hour live extravaganza will include performances by Natasha Bedingfield, Fall Out Boy, Jesse McCartney, Ne-Yo, Pussycat Dolls, Solange and Robin Thicke. Fergie hosts the Hollywood segments.

TV Ratings/TV Listings/TV Guide – December 22, 2009 –

Sunday Night Football: Philadelphia at NY Giants

NBC

2.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CBS

3.

The Mentalist

CBS

4.

60 Minutes

CBS

5.

NCIS

CBS

6.

Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick

NBC

7.

Two and a Half Men

CBS

8.

Criminal Minds

CBS

9.

The Big Bang Theory

CBS

10.

Biggest Loser 8

NBC

11.

Survivor: Samoa

CBS

12.

CSI: NY

CBS

13.

CSI: Miami

CBS

14.

NCIS: Los Angeles

CBS

15.

Prep & Landing

ABC

16.

Christmas at the White House

ABC

17.

Charlie Brown Christmas

ABC

18.

Bones

FOX

19.

Barbara Walters Presents

ABC

20.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

ABC

More TV Guide – December 22, 2009 –

Monday night television

TBS has a Family Guy marathon all night.

History Channel has a Pawn Stars marathon all night.

At 8, Lifetime has Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle, then The Ultimate Gift.

Current has a new Current Exposed at 8.

National Geographic has a new Dog Whisperer at 8.

At 8:30, ESPN has Monday Night Football, the Vikings vs. the Bears.

At 9, PBS has a new American Masters.

USA has a new Monday Night RAW at 9.

Current has a new InfoMania at 9.

Discovery has a new Mythbusters at 9, followed by a new Motor City Motors.

At 10, TNT has a new Men of a Certain Age.

A&E has a new Hoarders at 10.

At 11, Syfy has two new episodes of Monster

Top Pop Hits – December 22, 2009 –

Tik Tok – Ke$ha

Empire of the State – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

Replay – Iyaz

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Sexy Chick – David Guetta fea. Akon

Down – Jay Sean fea. Lil Wayne

Meet Me Halfway – Black Eyed Peas

3 – Britney Spears

Fireflies – Owl City

Bedrock – Young Money fea. Lloyd

Hard – Rihanna fea. Jeezy

Do You Remember - Jay Sean fea. Sean Paul, Lil John

How Low – Ludicris

Forever – Drake fea. Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Eminem

Sweet Dreams – Beyonce

kelly clarkson music    december 2009Already Gone – Kelly Clarkson

I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

Party in the U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus

Two is Better Than One – Boys like Girls fea. Taylor Swift

You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift

Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

Use Somebody – Kings of Leon

I Can Transform Ya – Chris Brown fea. Lil Wayne, Swizz Beatz

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