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Dateline: Week Of August 8, 2010 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In The News -

Rescuers armed with little more than shovels searched on Monday for hundreds of people after a torrent of mud engulfed a northwestern Chinese town, tearing down homes, filling the streets with sludge and killing at least 700. Nearly 1,300 people were missing after heavy rains and landslides created a torrent of mud and floodwaters that buried at least 300 low-rise homes and gouged chunks out of multi-storey concrete homes in Zhouqu County in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province.

After 859 days, thousands of miles and "50,000 mosquito bites," Ed Stafford became the first man known to have walked the entire length of the Amazon river when the waves of the Atlantic Ocean lapped at his feet in northern Brazil on Monday. "It's unbelievable to be here!" Stafford said "It proves you can do anything — even if people say you cannot. I've proved that if you want something enough, you can do anything!"

The House ethics committee on Monday (August 9) announced three counts of alleged ethics violations against California Democrat Maxine Waters, including a charge that she requested federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on its board. Waters, a 10-term representative from Los Angeles, has denied any wrongdoing and had urged the committee to come forth with details of the charges so that she can defend herself in a trial expected to take place this fall.

Honda Motor Co. is recalling the popular Accord and Civic passenger cars to address problems with an ignition switch that could allow the key to be removed without the transmission being shifted into park, its third recall over the problem since 2003. Honda said the most recent recall involved 384,220 vehicles and includes 2003 model year Accord and Civics and 2003-2004 versions of the Honda Element. Honda told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the defect with the automatic transmissions could lead to a vehicle rolling away and increase the risk of a crash.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that tough economic times require that he shutter a major command that employs some 5,000 people around Norfolk, Va., and begin to eliminate other jobs throughout the military.The announcement was the first major step by Gates to find $100 billion in savings in the next five years. Gates says that money is needed elsewhere within the Defense Department to repair a force ravaged by years of war and to prepare troops for the next fight. Gates and other Pentagon officials would not put a dollar figure on cuts outlined Monday, but the savings is expected to be less than what the individual military services are trying to trim on their own.

Scottish lawmakers demanded Tuesday that their government publish full details of the medical advice that led to the release from prison of the Lockerbie bomber almost a year ago. Opposition Labour Party legislators called for the prognosis given on Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's health before he was freed on compassionate grounds — and the names of the doctors who made the assessment — to be made public. The decision to release al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison has stirred anger in the United States and prompted U.S. senators to begin an investigation into the decision.

Former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, died in a small plane crash in southwest Alaska that killed four other people.Stevens, 86, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, was among nine people on board when the 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter, crashed between 7 and 7:30 p.m. Monday (11 to 11:30 p.m. ET) near the fishing town of Dillingham in the extreme southwest corner of the state, said Gen. Thomas Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska Army National Guard. The plane, which was registered to GCI, an Anchorage-based communications company, was flying from Nerka Lake to the HRM Sports Camp along the Nushagak River, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and his son, Kevin, were also on board but were expected to survive. Sean O’Keefe suffered a broken pelvis and several other broken bones, they said.

Summoned back from summer break, the House on Tuesday pushed through an emergency $26 billion jobs bill that Democrats said would save 300,000 teachers, police and others from election-year layoffs. President Barack Obama immediately signed it into law. Lawmakers streamed back to Washington for a one-day session as Democrats declared a need to act before children return to classrooms minus teachers laid off because of budgetary crises in states that have been hard-hit by the recession.

Former Illinois Rep. Dan Rostenkowski has died, Rostenkowski served in Congress from 1959 to 1995 and wielded the gavel as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for 11 years. A corruption scandal ended his 42-year career in public service. He pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud in 1996 and spent 15 months in federal prison.

A man suspected in a series of stabbings in Virginia and Michigan that resulted in at least 20 attacks and five deaths was arrested at the Atlanta airport as he tried to board a plane bound for Israel. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agency's officers arrested the man about 10 p.m. Wednesday night at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, as he attempted to board a Delta flight for Tel Aviv. The suspect was handed over to the FBI and Atlanta police.

blagojevich corruption trial august 2010 Jurors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Thursday that they have reached agreement on just two of 24 counts against him, indicating that they could have a long way to go in analyzing the complex case. The judge immediately said he would tell them to go back and deliberate some more. Jurors gave no indication of what decision they had reached on the two counts where they did agree. They said they have not discussed 11 counts of wire fraud, many of which involve telephone conversations that were taped by the FBI. Many of those discussions relate to the allegation that Blagojevich attempted to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.

It's a sign that hiring remains weak and employers may be going back to cutting their staffs. Analysts say the increase suggests companies won't be adding enough workers in August to lower the 9.5 percent unemployment rate.

First-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the highest total since February. Analysts had expected claims to fall.

Afghanistan – Three international coalition service members were killed in the south of Afghanistan, while U.S. and Afghan forces stepped up operations in the east against a Taliban faction linked to al-Qaida, arresting several key militants, military officials said Friday. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said one British soldier was killed Friday by small-arms fire in the Sangin district of Helmand province. Another serviceman who was injured Tuesday in an incident involving a helicopter at a patrol base in the Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand died Thursday at a hospital in Britain, it said.

President Obama Friday (Aug 13) signed into law a $600 million border security that will put more agents and equipment along the Mexican border. Obama signed the bill in the Oval Office alongside Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The measure will fund the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas along the border, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It also provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones.

After skirting the controversy for weeks, President Barack Obama is weighing in forcefully on the mosque near ground zero, saying a nation built on religious freedom must allow it. "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," Obama told an intently listening crowd gathered at the White House Friday evening to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," he said. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

A shooting outside a restaurant in downtown Buffalo early Saturday left four people dead and four wounded, police said. The victims were leaving a large party inside the City Grill bar and restaurant about 2:30 a.m. when gunfire erupted, police and witnesses said. Police were investigating witness reports that an argument may have broken out inside. Investigators did not know how many shooters there were.

President Barack Obama declared Gulf Coast beaches clean, safe and open for business as he brought his family to the Florida Panhandle and promised residents that the government wouldn't forget them once efforts to stop the leak are finished. On a warm and muggy day, Obama pledged to "keep up our efforts until the environment is cleaned, polluters are held accountable, businesses and communities are made whole, and the people of the Gulf Coast are back on their feet."

Oil Spill News Update August 15, 2010 -

gulf oil spill november 2010Approaching storms forced crews to suspend drilling the final stretch of a relief well aimed at shooting a permanent underground plug into BP's busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, the government's point man for the disaster said Tuesday. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the suspension could mean a delay of two or three days in completing the relief well, one of the last steps toward ending any threat from the well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil over three months before a temporary cap sealed it in mid-July.

BP will pay a record fine for safety violations at its troubled Texas City, Texas, refinery, the Department of Labor said on Thursday. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was set to announce the fine in a Thursday afternoon conference call with reporters. A BP spokesman declined to discuss the matter. In October, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped BP with a record $87.4 million in proposed fines for safety violations at the Texas City refinery, which was the site of a deadly explosion in 2005.

Business News - August 15, 2010 -

Shares of Hewlett-Packard Co. tumbled Monday in the first trading day following CEO Mark Hurd's sudden forced resignation Friday from the world's largest technology company. Hurd stepped down from the post Friday following allegations that he falsified expense reports to conceal a relationship with a former contractor. HP's shares fell $3.50, or 7.6 percent, to $42.81 in morning trading. The stock has lost more than 16 percent so far this year.

A JetBlue flight attendant upset after an altercation with a passenger bolted from the plane by deploying and sliding down the inflatable emergency chute on Monday, police said. The flight attendant, Steven Slater, was arrested at his home in the New York City borough of Queens after fleeing from John F. Kennedy International Airport, He will likely be charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, a spokesman for the Port Authority police said. Slater, who had quarreled with a passenger fiddling with his luggage after landing but before the plane came to a complete stop, swore over the public address before opening a door, inflating the chute and sliding down, police said.

General Motors Co posted its biggest quarterly profit in six years on Thursday, a day ahead of an expected IPO filing that would open the gates for the U.S. government to slash its stake in the automaker. The top U.S. automaker reported second-quarter net earnings of $1.3 billion, compared with $865 million in the first quarter. The second-quarter profit was the largest since 2004.

Radio News August 15, 2010 -

schlessinger n word august 2010Talk radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has issued an apology for saying the N-word several times in an on-air conversation with a caller that she said was "hypersensitive" to racism. Schlessinger said on her website Wednesday that she was wrong in using the word for what she called an attempt to make a philosophical point. "I articulated the N-word all the way out — more than one time," Schlessinger said in comments from the opening of her radio show that she posted on her site. "And that was wrong. I'll say it again — that was wrong." She said she "realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset, I could not finish the show." Schlessinger said she pulled herself off the air at the end of the hour.

Technology News August 15, 2010 -

Google and Verizon announce a joint proposal suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission regulate "wired" broadband Internet connections differently than wireless networks and new Internet technologies. The companies argued that it would be improper for the government to apply the same rules on the mobile market as the wireline broadband market, since the wireless market is more competitive and rapidly changing. That proposal was met with widespread criticism by Net neutrality supporters, who want regulators to legally block service providers like the telecoms from choosing what kinds of online content -- or even which individual content providers -- they will prioritize on their networks for faster delivery.

The Motorola Droid 2 and the BlackBerry Torch go on sale-- and the demand for the two new top-of-the-line smartphones was decidedly un-iPhone like. The Droid 2, which is available exclusively on Verizon's network, and the Torch, (AT&T), are high-end smartphones. The Droid 2 is replacing the original Droid -- a phone that quickly became a sensation when it went on sale in November 2009. The first 74 days of Droid sales outpaced that of the original iPhone, according to analytics firm Flurry.

The company behind the magicJack, the Internet phone gadget heavily advertised on television, has another trick up its sleeve: free phone calls from computers, smart phones and iPads. The cost of phone calls routed over the Internet has been on a long slide. There are already a multitude of programs that allow free calling between computers, and some that allow free, but short, calls to regular phone numbers. Another alternative, Google Voice, provides "free" calls to the U.S. and Canada, but you need a phone to use it, and if you're using a cell phone, it uses up minutes. MagicTalk would go one better by eliminating fees for calling landline and cell phones in the U.S. and Canada, with no time limits on the calls.

Sports News - August 15, 2010 -

Golfer Phil Mickelson is being treated for arthritis that surfaced just before the U.S. Open and left him in so much pain he couldn't walk. Mickelson revealed Tuesday he has psoriatic arthritis, which causes his immune system to attack his joints and tendons. He noticed the first symptoms five days before the U.S. Open, and the pain eventually got so bad he made a visit to the Mayo Clinic.

New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriquez was arrested Wednesday night, accused of punching his father-in-law in the team's clubhouse, police said..Police said that Rodriguez was charged with third-degree assault and that his father-in-law went to a hospital with facial bruises and other injuries.

Entertainment News - August 15, 2010 -

Passing - Patricia Neal, the willowy, husky-voiced actress who won an Academy Award for 1963's “Hud” " and then survived several strokes to continue acting, died on Sunday. She was 84. Neal had lung cancer and died surrounded by her family at her home in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.

Levi Johnston has teamed with a production company to shop a reality series called "Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor's Office," which will—just as the title implies—chronicle his life as he runs for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Or since the mayor's job won't be up for grabs until 2012, as his new campaign manager points out, maybe he'll make a run for city council in the meantime. "The more I think about it and look into it, I think there's a possibility we can make it happen," Johnston told Variety, admitting that he wasn't exactly keen on the idea when producers Scott Stone and David Weintraub of Stone and Co. approached him with it. But now, "it's something that I want to do."

paul reubens news august 2010Actor Paul Reubens reintroduces Pee-wee Herman, his alter ego and 1980s cult character, to fans at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, The event is expected to draw more than 500,000 people.

Passing – Producer David L. Wolper, whose landmark 1977 miniseries “Roots” engrossed the nation with its saga of an American family descended from an African slave, has died. He was 82. Wolper died peacefully in his Beverly Hills home Tuesday evening while watching television with his wife, Gloria, said spokesman Dale Olson. Wolper died of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson's disease, Olson said.

It’s confirmed - Kelsey Grammer (55) is expecting a baby with his 29-year-old girlfriend of about a month, Kayte Walsh.

Lindsay Lohan's mom says the actress will be moving away from California and back to New York after she gets out of drug rehabilitation. Dina Lohan, during an often tense interview with NBC "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer on Friday, said her daughter was doing "wonderfully" after 14 days in jail. "She's great," Lohan said. "She's been through a lot. The judge played hardball. Lindsay was in with alleged murderers and she's become friends with a lot of them. Lindsay rolled with the punches and she's doing wonderfully."

Music News - August 15, 2010 -

rod stewart child aug 2010 Rock legend and father of six Rod Stewart is adding to his brood. Stewart, 65, and his wife Penny Lancaster, 39, are expecting a baby. Stewart and Lancaster have a 4-year-old son together named Alastair, while Stewart has five children from previous relationships.

MTV has named 23-year-old Gabi Gregg its first "Twitter Jockey." Gregg won the position Sunday night after a nationwide vote. The TJ position is the updated version of the network's VJ job, and Gregg will report on pop culture news using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and MTV's website.

Singer Fantasia Barrino has been admitted to a North Carolina hospital after suffering a drug overdose. The former "American Idol" star checked into Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville on Monday at approximately 8:55 PM and was treated for a "medication overdose.

alanis morissette pregnant aug 2010Singer Alanis Morissette (36) says she’s pregnant.

Kanye West will perform at this year's MTV Video Music Awards — 12 months after disgracing himself by storming the stage and ruining Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. The rapper/singer left the star-studded audience at last year's ceremony cringing after he jumped on the stage in protest of Swift's win for Best Female Video — insisting the prize belonged to Beyonce for her hit, "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)."

Snoop Dogg’s call for a cameo on hit vampire drama "True Blood” " has been rebuffed - the show's star Sam Trammell insists the series does not need superstars to entice viewers. The rapper is a huge fan of the racy, bloodsucking series, and urged TV bosses to get in touch with him to organize a guest appearance. He recently said, "I love that show. I wish I could be on it. I'd be a hell of a vampire, don't you think? So what's happenin'? 'True Blood,' get at me - Snoop Dogg wants to be a vampire."

Lawyers for Paris Hilton said they "will pursue all of our defenses vigorously and any potential counter claims" against a company that sued Hilton for $35 million claiming she broke a contract to wear its hair extensions. Beverly Hills-based Hairtech International Inc filed its suit alleging Hilton, a member of the family that founded the hotel chain bearing her name, broke a contract in 2008 when she wore a rival company's extensions. Hairtech also blamed Hilton for missing a product launch party in 2007 because she was in jail, and said her failure to appear cost the company $6.6 million, according to reports.

george michael offenses aug 2010British police say singer George Michael has been charged with drugs and driving offenses after his car crashed into a building in an upscale residential area. London's Metropolitan Police department said Michael, 47, was charged on Thursday with possession of cannabis and with driving while unfit through drink or drugs. In a statement, police say Michael will appear at London's Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on Aug. 24. Michael was arrested last month after his car crashed into a building in the Hampstead district of north London.

Top Movies August 15, 2010 -

The Other Guys – (1st week - $35.6 million)


Step Up 3D (1st week $15.5 million)


Dinner for Schmucks

Despicable Me

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Charlie St. Cloud

Toy Story 3

The Kids Are Alright

Top Music Albums - August 15, 2010 -

The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

Nightmare – Avenged Sevenfold

Recovery – Eminem

Trill O.G. – Bun-B

The Remix – Lady Gaga

Teflon Don - Rick Ross

Thank Me Later – Drake

My World 2.0 – Justin Bieber

Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

Kidz Bop 18

All Night Long – Buckcherry

Croweology – The Black Crowes

The Fame – Lady Gaga

Now 34

sheryl crow music aug 2010100 Miles From Memphis – Sheryl Crow

The Foundation – Zac Brown Band

Raymond V Raymond – Usher

The E.N.D. – The Black Eyed Peas

Jonas L.A. – Jonas Brothers

Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury – Jerrod Niemann

Live at the Troubadour – Carole King & James Taylor

To The Sea – Jack Johnson

Revolution – Miranda Lambert

Sigh No More – Mumford &Sons

Mojo – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

Euphoria – Enrique Iglesias

Top TV Ratings August 15, 2010 -


The Bachelorette



NFL Exhibition Football: Cincinnati vs. Dallas



The Bachelorette: After the Rose



America's Got Talent" (Tuesday)



America's Got Talent" (Wednesday)



NFL Pregame Show



60 Minutes






Wipeout" (Tuesday)



The Big Bang Theory



Two and a Half Men



Big Brother 12, Sunday



NCIS: Los Angeles



Criminal Minds


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