Dateline: Week Of September 15, 2009 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts
In The News -
Ballots from about 10 percent of Afghanistan's polling stations must be recounted because of suspicions of fraud in last month's presidential election, according to an order from a U.N.-backed body, an official said Tuesday. The recounts raise the possibility that President Hamid Karzai's lead could drop below the 50 percent threshold, forcing the country to hold a second-round runoff between Karzai and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah.
The U.S. military on Wednesday closed Camp Bucca, an isolated desert prison that was once its largest lockup in Iraq, as it moves to release thousands of detainees or transfer them to Iraqi custody before the end of the year. The sprawling facility just north of the Kuwaiti border has held thousands of men over the years, including the most dangerous in U.S. custody — Sunni insurgents, Shiite extremists and al-Qaida in Iraq suspects swept up from battlefields over six years of war.
A Yale lab technician was arrested at a hotel and charged with murdering a graduate student whose body was found stuffed in the wall of a research building on what would have been her wedding day. Police said it was a case of workplace violence, but didn't elaborate. Police had been waiting outside the Super 8 hotel in Cromwell, about 25 miles north of the Ivy League campus, where Raymond Clark III got a room shortly after being released from police questioning in the death of 24-year-old Annie Le.
The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level since early July, evidence that job cuts are slowing.
The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to a seasonally adjusted 545,000 from an upwardly revised 557,000 the previous week. Wall Street economists expected claims to rise by 5,000, according to Thomson Reuters.
U.S. President Barack Obama has told east European states he is abandoning plans for an anti-missile shield there, in a move that may ease Russian- U.S. ties but fuel fears of resurgent Kremlin influence. Russia said it would welcome cancellation of the program, promoted by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush and now a source of tension overshadowing U.S. efforts to enlist Kremlin support over Afghanistan, Iran and nuclear arms control.
President Barack Obama is sitting down for interviews with five television networks this afternoon, a highly unusual schedule even for a president who regularly uses the media to get his message across. Obama will be taping interviews with ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision that will be shown during the networks' Sunday morning talk shows. The only network missing from the lineup is Fox News, which has refused to carry Obama's last several prime time news conferences.
Hard-liners attacked senior pro-reform leaders in the streets as tens of thousands marched in competing mass demonstrations by the opposition and government supporters. Opposition protesters, chanting "death to the dictator," hurled stones and bricks in clashes with security forces firing tear gas. The opposition held its first major street protests since mid-July, bringing out thousands in demonstrations in several parts of the capital. In some cases only several blocks away, tens of thousands marched in government-sponsored rallies marking an annual anti-Israel commemoration.
The FBI arrested a 24-year-old Colorado man on charges of making false statements to federal agents in an ongoing terror investigation, and supporting documents contend the man admitted receiving weapons and explosives training from al-Qaida in Pakistan. Najibullah Zazi of the Denver suburb of Aurora was arrested late Saturday after undergoing three days of questioning by the FBI. Zazi, a legal permanent resident from Afghanistan, was due to appear in federal court on Monday. Also arrested were Zazi's father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, 53, in Denver; and an associate, Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37, of Queens, N.Y., the Justice Department said Sunday. Both also were charged with making false statements to federal agents, a charge that carries a penalty of eight years in prison.
President Barack Obama says there should be an investigation into the hidden-camera video involving employees at the activist group ACORN and a couple posing as a prostitute and her pimp. The two ACORN workers are seen apparently advising the couple to lie about her profession and launder her earnings to get housing aid. The video is only the latest problem for the group, which had nearly $1 million embezzled by its founder's brother and has been accused of voter registration fraud. The House and Senate voted last week to deny federal funds to ACORN.
Floodwaters that swept across the rain-soaked Southeast killed at least three people and left five others missing Monday, including a Georgia toddler who disappeared after her family's mobile home was split apart by a swollen creek.
Three Georgia motorists died when their vehicles were swept off Atlanta-area roads, and some major highways were submerged. Officials urged motorists to stay off the roads as a new line of storms threatened the area.
Business/Economy News – September 15, 2009 -
U.S. factories made more cars, clothing and other goods than expected in August, and inflation remained in check in the early stages of a broad economic recovery. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose 0.8 percent in August. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 0.6 percent increase. Last month's gain marked the second straight increase after the global recession dried up the appetites of customers worldwide.
Blockbuster is being forced to reset, saying it may close nearly 1,000 stores by the end of 2010 as its once-certain dominance continues to be threatened by rivals. According to a regulatory filing Tuesday, Blockbuster expects to shut between 810 and 960 locations by the time next year wraps up, a number that would exceed more than one-fifth of its current U.S. shops.
Technology News – September 15, 2009 –
Facebook is making enough money to cover its costs and now has 300 million users, the world's largest social networking site said on Tuesday, proving the Internet's newest star industry can be a viable business.Facebook is now generating enough cash to cover its operating expenses, as well as the capital spending needed to maintain its fast-growing service. Analysts said this shows the financial viability of Facebook, which has faced questions about its underlying business model, despite its popularity, and was a good sign for a potential initial public offering.
Entertainment News – September 15, 2009 -
This week marked the final flicker of CBS' “Guiding Light,” as that venerable daytime drama logged its farewell hour after 72 years on the air. The last episode took an upbeat, life-affirming tone, complete with a scene that gathered many of the characters at a picnic in the park on a beautiful day.
Patrick Swayze, the hunky actor who danced his way into viewers' hearts with "Dirty Dancing" and then broke them with "Ghost," died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57. "Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months," said a statement released Monday evening by his publicist, Annett Wolf. No other details were given.
President Obama’s candid thoughts about Kanye West are provoking a debate over standards of journalism. ABC News says it was wrong for its employees to tweet that Obama had called West a "jackass" for the rapper's treatment of country singer Taylor Swift. The network said some of its employees had overheard a conversation between the president and CNBC's John Harwood and didn't realize it was considered off the record. The network apologized to the White House and CNBC.
Passing - Mary Travers, one-third of the hugely popular 1960s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, has died. The band’s publicist, Heather Lylis, says Travers died at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut on Wednesday. She was 72 and had battled leukemia for several years. Mary was part of the famous folk trio “Peter, Paul & Mary” who sold millions of albums between 1962 and 1970 and had several top-40 hits including “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
Passing – Henry Gibson (73) – Best known for his appearances on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” during the late 1960’s. He recently appeared as a judge in “Boston Legal.”
61st Annual Emmy Awards Results – Week Of September 15, 2009 -
Some winners in major categories for the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards announced by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:
Drama Series: " Mad Men," AMC
Comedy Series: "30 Rock," NBC
Reality Series: "The Amazing Race," CBS
Miniseries: "Little Dorrit," PBS
Made-for-TV Movie: "Grey Gardens," HBO
Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad," AMC
Actress, Drama Series: Glenn Close, "Damages," FX Networks
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Charry Jones, "24," FOX
Actor, Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock," NBC
Actress, Comedy Series: Toni Collette, "United States of Tara," Showtime
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men," CBS
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daises”