Dateline: Week Of May 8, 2009 In News, Pop Culture, Tech, Celebrity, Entertainment & Fascinating Facts
In The News -
The pace of layoffs slowed in April when employers cut 539,000 jobs, the fewest in six months. But the unemployment rate climbed to 8.9 percent, the highest since late 1983, as many businesses remain wary of hiring given all the economic uncertainties.
Police say they've traced an Internet death threat made against Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin to a 17-year-old boy. Pittsburgh Lt. Kevin Kraus says the boy lives in Chambersburg, which is about 125 miles east-southeast of Pittsburgh. Kraus says state police have talked to the boy, but no charges were immediately filed.
Longtime suspect Drew Peterson is arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife. He is also the prime suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife. “This is a weak, circumstantial case at best,” said his lawyer Joel Brodsky. He pointed out that Will County, Ill., prosecutors have to prove that Peterson drowned his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in her bathtub in 2004. “Drew doesn’t have to prove his innocence,” Brodsky said.
The Federal Reserve could become the supercop for "too big to fail" companies capable of causing another financial meltdown under a proposal being seriously considered by the White House. The Obama administration told industry officials on Friday that it was leaning toward making such a recommendation, according to officials who attended a private one-hour meeting between President Barack Obama's economic advisers and representatives from about a dozen banks, hedge funds and other financial groups.
California brush fire - A cool sea breeze and morning fog have provided some relief for crews battling the wildfire that has destroyed scores of homes along the California coast. Santa Barbara County public information officer Sarah Gibson said the Saturday morning fog that rolled in from the ocean wasn't expected. She described it as "a nice, thick, wet flow." Some 30,000 people have left the area – so far.
The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said. The rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Pentagon officials say five Americans are dead after a U.S. soldier opened fire at a U.S. base in Baghdad. They say the attacker is in custody. The officials say the shootings happened on Camp Liberty at a stress clinic, where troops can go for help with the stresses of combat or stress from personal issues. One senior military official in Washington says it's unclear whether those killed are workers at the clinic or were there for counseling. He says officials also are unsure whether all the dead are members of the military.
Ford Motor Co said that it would sell 300 million common shares and use part of the proceeds to pay off its healthcare obligations to the United Auto Workers under the terms of a recently concluded deal with the union. Ford also said it expects to grant to the underwriters -- Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley -- a 30-day option to buy up to 45 million shares of common stock. Ford shares fell 4.6 percent to $5.80 in after-market trade following the stock offering. At that price, the new shares would raise about $1.7 billion for Ford.
Blasting off from Cape Canaveral – Shuttle Atlantis is racing after the Hubble Space Telescope a day after taking off on a daring repair mission. On Tuesday, the seven astronauts will spend the entire day inspecting virtually every inch of the shuttle for any launch damage. They surveyed the thermal shielding on their crew cabin Monday evening. This final trip to Hubble is especially dangerous because of all the space junk in the telescope's 350-mile-high orbit. Atlantis seems to have come through its launch fairly well, at least. But the analysis is continuing.
A mortar shell struck the only functioning medical facility in Sri Lanka's northern war zone Tuesday morning, killing 49 patients and bystanders and wounding more than 50 others, a government health official said. It was the second time this month that the facility was hit. The attack came after a weekend of heavy shelling that killed hundreds of civilians trapped in the war zone. The military has denied accusations that it was still shelling the tiny coastal strip under rebel control, which is packed with an estimated 50,000 civilians.
Chrysler LLC wants to eliminate roughly a quarter of its 3,200 U.S. dealerships by early next month, saying in a bankruptcy court filing Thursday that the network is antiquated and has too many stores competing with each other. The company, in a motion filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, said it wants to eliminate 789 dealerships by June 9. Many of the dealers' sales are too low, the automaker said. Just over 50 percent of dealers account for about 90 percent of the company's U.S. sales, the motion said.
Technology News – May 8, 2009
YouTube has been able to increase the number of videos suitable for advertising to around 9 percent of YouTube's inventory. That doesn't sound like much, but it's up from around 3 percent last year, according to MediaMemo, and could reach 15 percent next year.
Google is under attack for profiting from content produced by newspaper executives, magazine publishers, and The Associated Press, but the company's Marissa Mayer on Wednesday sought to convince the U.S. Senate that Google adds to journalism, too. The most recent attack, by Forbes.com Chief executive Jim Spanfeller, decried "the parasitical nature of its business model" and asserted that Google makes about $60 million a year directing people to the Forbes site. But Google says newspapers benefit through click-throughs by sending interested readers to their sites at a rate of more than 1 billion clicks per month. Newspapers use that Web traffic to increase their readership and generate additional revenue."
Microsoft plans to unveil a new video camera that would allow players of its Xbox 360 console to control games by moving their bodies. And if true, it's a clear shot across the bow of Nintendo and its innovative Wii console, which shocked the video game world when it was released in late 2006 with its own motion-sensitive controller.
Microsoft confirmed that it is planning to release Windows 7 this year in time for the holiday shopping season. "We are tracking well to a Windows 7 holiday," Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte said in an interview.
Rural telephone service provider Frontier Communications Corp has agreed to buy 4.8 million phone access lines in 14 states from Verizon Communications Inc for $5.35 billion in stock. The transaction will make Frontier the largest U.S. "pure rural communications provider" of voice, broadband and video services, Chief Executive Maggie Wilderotter said in a statement on Wednesday. Verizon said divesting the access lines will help it focus on its broadband and wireless businesses.
Sports News – May 8, 2009
Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and has been suspended for fifty games. It’s a major disappointment for Los Angeles Dodger fans as Ramirez is supposed to be the team superstar. He’ll be back in July – but will it be the same?
Chuck Daley - who coached the original Dream Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1992 after winning back-to-back NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, has died. He was 78. He died Saturday morning in Jupiter, Fla., with his family by his side, the team said. The Pistons announced in March that the Hall of Fame coach had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.
Entertainment/Celebrity News – May 8, 2009
Wanda Sykes, who served as mistress of ceremonies at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, jabbed at Rush Limbaugh for suggesting that he wants Obama to fail. "So you’re saying, 'I hope America fails.' You’re like, 'I don’t care about people losing their homes, their jobs or our soldiers in Iraq.' He just wants our country to fail." "To me, that’s treason," she added. "He’s not saying anything differently than Osama bin Laden is saying. You know you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight."
Passing - One of the last surviving Munchkins from the 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz” has died. St. Louis actor Mickey Carroll died Thursday at the age of 89.
ABC will have its own branded channel on YouTube. First, if you go to the site, the info bar indicates that "ABC News" joined YouTube August 7, 2006. So, maybe they've been working feverishly for nearly three years on this, and they were finally ready to tell people about it. The site will feature news from several ABC programs, like Good Morning America, 20/20, Nightline, ABC World News, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. And, as a bonus, we get the "Quick Fix" segment, which ABC called "a daily dose of wit and occasionally wisdom" from ABC correspondents.
Mark Landon, an actor and eldest son of "Little House on the Prairie" star Michael Landon, was found dead Monday at his home. He was 60. The cause of death was not immediately clear but there was no evidence of foul play, said Sgt. David Infante of the Los Angeles County sheriff's office. Mark Landon, among Michael Landon's nine children, appeared in three movies, including "Us," a CBS television movie written and directed by his father in 1991 just before he died of cancer at age 54. The film was a pilot intended to be another series for Michael Landon. It aired a few months after his death.
Miss California Carrie Prejean will keep her crown, Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump announced at a press conference Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York City. Prejean, 21, failed to reveal before last month's Miss USA pageant that she had posed in her underwear as a teenager. But Trump said, "We are in the 21st century ... and Carrie is a model, she's a very successful model, we have determined and we have the absolute right under the contract we have determined that the pictures taken are fine."
Sarah Palin - the Alaska governor pulled from the U.S. political periphery onto the 2008 Republican presidential ticket, has signed a deal to write her memoirs with HarperCollins. Palin, who was Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, did not disclose how much she would be paid by the publisher, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. "This is an incredible opportunity and I am excited to work with HarperCollins to tell my story and Alaska's story," Palin said in a statement.
As Bruce Springsteen calls out surprise after surprise on his current tour, the members of his E Street Band are having the time of their lives, according to guitarist Nils Lofgren. "With the new album ('Working On a Dream') and everything, I didn't expect to get to this point, with all the audibles (spontaneous changes) and improvisations, until much deeper in the tour," Lofgren told Billboard.com. "It's just born of years and years of doing this with Bruce, and we're taking it to a new level. It's exciting and it's challenging. You accept that sometimes you never know what's coming around the bend and just go with it."I just know the shows are great, and it's heartening to see that after all these yeas of doing it, we're playing what we think are the best shows we've ever done. It's exciting for guys who have been around this long."
It's a prime time to be a Vanessa Williams fan. She's on the small screen weekly, as the shrewtastic fashion magazine editor on "Ugly Betty," and she plays a conniving label publicist in "Hannah Montana: The Movie." But on June 2, Williams returns to her first love -- music -- with the release of "The Real Thing."
The Concord album is inspired by jazz and Latin music, particularly the work of Sergio Mendes, who first performed the Stevie Wonder-penned title track. "I wanted to do something with kind of a Brazilian feel," Williams says. "It's kind of a hybrid of samba, bossa nova, some salsa and also some pop and R&B."
With a wry nod to his problems with American immigration authorities, British folk singer Yusuf Islam performed his first U.S. concert in 33 years on Monday, treating 400 fans to classics from his youthful days when he was known as Cat Stevens. The 60-year-old musician treated the invitation-only crowd to an hour-long set that included such hits as "Peace Train," "Wild World" and "Where Do the Children Play?" as well as a selection of tunes from his new album, "Roadsinger." "I bet you thought we'd never make it," he said at the outset, later explaining that he was referring to his 2004 deportation from the United States after his name appeared on a "no-fly" watch list designed to weed out suspected terrorists.
Television News – May 8, 2009
Joan Rivers wins Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Look for another round next TV season.
Saturday Night Live Prime Time Special - From Mr. Bill to "Lazy Sunday," the late-night show has occasionally presented short films, and is collecting many of the best for a two-hour prime-time special airing May 17 at 9 p.m. EDT. Andy Samberg is the host.
Dr. Oz - in-house medical and health expert is leaving his spot as a regular on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" for his own syndicated program. Oprah Winfrey bid Dr. Mehmet Oz farewell on Tuesday's episode of her talk show. His program, "The Dr. Oz Show," is to debut Sept. 14. Oz has been featured on Winfrey's show for five years and 55 episodes. He would often offer diet tips or discuss life-threatening diseases. Tuesday's show ends with Oz and Winfrey raising a champagne toast.
TV listing/TV Guide – week of May 8, 2009
TNT has Basketball Playoffs all night.
At 8, ABC has two new episodes of According to Jim, followed by a new Dancing with the Stars and the season finale of Cupid.
CBS has a new NCIS, then new episodes of The Mentalist and Without A Trace.
NBC has the season finale of The Biggest Loser at 8.
FOX has new episodes of American Idol and Fringe.
The CW has a new Reaper at 8, then a new 90210.
At 9, PBS has a new Frontline.
History Channel has a new How The Earth Was Made at 9, followed by a new Life After People.
At 10, FX has a new Rescue Me.
Bravo has the Real Housewives of New York City Reunion at 10, then the premiere of Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Sci-Fi has a new ECW at 10.
Travel Channel has a new Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern at 10.
Also at 10: MTV has a new episode of The Phone.
At 10:30, TBS has a new My Boys.
Top Movies – May 8, 2009
Star Trek : 'Star Trek' beams itself up to the top of the box office, earning more than $76 million in its opening weekend.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Next Day Air
Monsters vs. Aliens
Hannah Montana Movie
State of Play
Fast & Furious
I Love You, Man.