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Dateline: Week Of March 15, 2010 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In The News -

A torrential rainstorm that brought heavy winds to the Northeast, downing trees, flooding roadways and knocking out power, continued to pour rain on New England on Monday. At least nine people died in storm-related accidents, and nearly half a million people were without electricity in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut at the peak of the storm. The ferocious storm led to near-record numbers of 911 calls in New York. New York City experienced the second-highest volume of 911 calls ever. It got 65,000 calls between 11 p.m. Friday and 11 p.m. Saturday, second only to the 96,000 calls made during the 2003 blackout.

Toyota said there were "significant inconsistencies" between a California man's claim that his Prius sped out of control and the findings of the company's preliminary investigation. Toyota said in a statement that the accelerator pedal was tested and found to be working normally and a backup safety system worked properly. The automaker said the front brakes showed severe wear and damage from overheating, but the rear brakes and parking brake were in good condition.

Palestinians mounted violent protests in Jerusalem on Tuesday and President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy canceled plans to return to the region as a U.S.-Israeli crisis over Jewish settlement plans deepened. Hundreds of rock-throwing Palestinians clashed with police in several locations in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in a 1967 war along with the West Bank. Police responded with teargas and rubber bullets. "We have come to throw stones because that's all we have and the situation in Jerusalem is dangerous," one protester said in a confrontation at an Israeli military checkpoint, reminiscent of the early days of a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000.

A former Massachusetts dentist is accused of putting paper clips in patients’ mouths during root canals, then billing Medicaid for the stainless steel posts he should have used. The state attorney general announced Tuesday that a grand jury indicted former Fall River dentist Michael Clair last week. The charges include assault and battery, larceny, submitting false claims to Medicaid, and illegally prescribing drugs.

obama set to appear on fox-tv     march 2010Interesting - President Obama is set appear on Fox News to rally last-minute support for the health care reform bill. Bret Baier will sit down with Obama tomorrow for an interview regarding the proposed legislation. The interview will be followed by an in-depth panel that will analyze Obama's responses. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill later this week.

Relentless attacks against al-Qaeda in the Pakistan tribal region appear to have driven Osama bin Laden and other top leaders deeper into hiding, leaving the organization rudderless and less capable of planning sophisticated operations, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. So profound is al-Qaeda's disarray that one of its lieutenants, in a recently intercepted message, pleaded to bin Laden to come to the group's rescue and provide some leadership, Panetta told The Washington Post in an interview.

Israel lifted its tight restrictions on Palestinian access to Jerusalem's holiest shrine and called off an extended West Bank closure after days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Despite moving to end the lockdown, Israel still kept thousands of police officers on alert as an uneasy calm settled over the holy city. The recent violence has taken place against a backdrop of deep Palestinian frustration over a yearlong standstill in peace talks and dovetailed with the worst U.S.-Israeli diplomatic feud in decades.

President Obama has signed into law a package of tax breaks and spending designed to give the nation a jobs boost. Obama said the legislation will help the private sector start hiring again. It is the first of several jobs measures promised by Democrats this year. Obama called it essential but "but by no means enough." The legislation includes about $18 billion in tax breaks and $20 billion into highway and transit programs.

Fascinating Facts March 15, 2010 -

Science - Operators of the world's largest atom smasher on Friday ramped up their massive machine to three times the energy ever previously achieved, in the run-up to experiments probing the secrets of the universe. The European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known by the French acronym CERN, said beams of protons circulated at 3.5 trillion electron volts in both directions around the 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel housing the Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border at Geneva.

The “Quartet of Middle East mediators” called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities and denounced Israel's aim to build new housing in East Jerusalem. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read a joint statement by the members — Russia, the United States, the U.N. and the European Union — following a meeting of the group in Moscow, which welcomed the prospect of "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel unveiled the plans for 1,600 new Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians view as the capital of their future state, during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week. The Palestinians say they will not go ahead with indirect peace talks unless the housing scheme is scrapped.

A 16-year-old boy who police said made an announcement at Walmart ordering all black people in the southern New Jersey store to leave was charged with harassment and bias intimidation, authorities said Saturday. The boy, whose name is not being released because he is a juvenile, went on the intercom at Walmart's Washington Township store Sunday evening and calmly announced: "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now," police said.

McDonalds is set to roll out a $1 soft drink promotion. Its coffee effort is well known and coffee sales at McDonald’s have doubled since 2006 and now represent 5% of sales.

Sports News March 15, 2010 -

LaDainian Tomlinson has agreed to terms with the Jets on a mulityear deal. Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, confirmed the two-year deal.

Tiger Woods said he will return to golf next month at the Masters, ending a four-month hiatus brought on by a sex scandal that shattered his image as the gold standard in sports. "The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect," Woods said in a statement. "After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I'm ready to start my season at Augusta." Woods has not competed since Nov. 15 when he won the Australian Masters for his 82nd victory worldwide. Twelve days later, he crashed his car into a tree outside his Florida home, setting off shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife.

Technology News - March 15, 2010 -

Password scam on Facebook - "There's another spoofed email going around that claims to be from Facebook and asks you to open an attachment to receive a new password," read a post on the Facebook Security page. "This email is fake. Delete it from your inbox, and warn your friends." Facebook will never send users a new password in an attachment, the post says. The messages claim to be from Facebook, with a return address that looks legitimate.

facebook tops google Facebook topped Google to become the most visited U.S. Web site last week, indicating a shift in how Americans are searching for content. Web analysis firm Experian Hitwise said Monday that the social networking site surpassed Google to take the No. 1 spot for the week ended March 13. It shows content sharing has become a huge driving force online," said Matt Tatham, director of media r elations at Hitwise. "People want information from friends they trust, versus the the anonymity of a search engine." Though the traffic levels were close, Facebook's year-over-year growth far outpaced Google's that week. The number of visitors to Facebook spiked 185% compared with the same period last year, while Google's traffic climbed just 9%.

Chinese news reports say Google Inc. is on the verge of making good on a threat to shutter its China site because Beijing forces the Internet giant to censor search results. The reports indicated that Google had, in fact, already stopped censoring results, but searches Tuesday for sensitive topics like "Tiananmen massacre" appeared to still return only whitewashed results.

Entertainment News - March 15, 2010 -

Lady Gaga is to become the latest star guest on hit TV show "Glee." The "Poker Face" hitmaker has signed up to join the cast of the all-singing-all-dancing series following a request from show bosses. "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy says, "We reached out to Lady Gaga and she said, 'Yes, I'd love to be a part of it.' So we will be doing Lady Gaga this season."

miley and liam kiss   march 2010First on-screen kiss: - Miley Cyrus and her boyfriend Liam Hemsworth in Disney's "The Last Song." The young lovebirds talked about kissing in front of Miley's mom, Tish, who was the film's executive producer. Liam says, "Her mom was watching. Her grandma was also watching, which was really funny. She was on set everyday and she'd be right at the monitor with the headphones on. ... She should have been directing the film. She knew more about it than anyone." He also admitted, "Intimacy's always tough. I feel like it's the hardest thing for me as an actor." Miley - "I don't know who had a bigger crush on him at the beginning, my mom or me. I was like, 'No, maybe he's just too pretty. I don't want to be with someone who's better looking than me. That's like awkward.'"

Charlie Sheen (Carlos Irwin Estevez) pleads not guilty in Aspen to domestic violence charges, and was scheduled for a July 21 trial stemming from a Christmas Day altercation with his wife. He was arrested Dec. 25 in the Colorado winter resort after police received a 911 call from his wife, Brooke Mueller, claiming the sitcom star had a knife and was threatening to kill her.

English progressive rockers turned 1980s pop stars Genesis and the harmony-driven Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, joined by ABBA, another act that thrived in a second life. Genesis was inducted by Trey Anastasio of Phish, whose band paid tribute to both incarnations of Genesis by performing "Watcher of the Skies" and "No Reply at All." The new inductees were missing Peter Gabriel, the theatrical lead singer whose departure was the dividing line between the band's two styles. Former bandmate Mike Rutherford said Gabriel wanted to send his apologies for missing the event.

More Entertainment News - March 15, 2010 -

bonnie hunt show canceledThe syndicated “Bonnie Hunt Show” is being canceled after its second season due to low ratings (what else?). The show averaged a .8 share.

Michael Jackson’s estate has signed the biggest recording deal in history: a $200 million guaranteed contract with Sony Music Entertainment for 10 projects over seven years, according to a person familiar with the deal. The record-breaking contract through 2017 could be worth up to $250 million if certain conditions are met. One of the albums will be of never-before-released Jackson recordings that will come out in November.


Oprah Winfrey must defend a defamation suit over remarks she made about a headmistress at her girls' school in South Africa after a sex-abuse scandal erupted there. Judge Eduardo Robreno refused to dismiss the suit in a decision, ruling that former headmistress Nomvuyo Mzamane has enough evidence to pursue her defamation claims against the media mogul. Winfrey made the remarks in 2007 after the complaints surfaced at the $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls, near Johannesburg.

NBC is bringing back the original Apprentice. The non-celebrity version of the reality show from executive producers Mark Burnett and Donald Trump will return for a sixth season with a revised format. It will emphasize the country's economy by casting 14 contestants affected by the recession. The new cast will consist of people who have been laid off, are unhappy with their current career path or recently graduated with few possibilities.

Miley Cyrus is counting the days until the end of Hannah Montana. “What I am sure about is I'm going to rejoice and be happy to finally not have to be ... well, to not be somebody I'm not exactly," the 17-year-old star said. "As I've grown into it, I've grown out of it. When I was 12, I thought, 'I want to be famous all the time! I want everybody to recognize me!'" But now, Miley -- who began filming the fourth season, which will run until early 2011, in January -- says she has "to grit my teeth" when she is forced to wear "sparkles" and the pink costumes of her alter ego.

jessica simpson news    march 2010Despite heavy promotion, the ratings for Jessica Simpson’s's debut VH1 reality show “The Price of Beauty,” ratings were bad, attracting just 1 million viewers. Around 487,000 people tuned in for the encore later in the night.

According to E!, Britney Spears and her talent-agent boyfriend Jason Trawick have split after dating for almost a year."They were fighting a lot and have not been getting along," an E! source claimed.

Pop music passing - Alex Chilton, the lead singer of late 1960’s hitmakers, “The Box Tops” has died of a heart attack at the age of 59. Alex Chilton provided the soulful lead vocals to such hits as “The Letter,” “Cry Like A Baby” and “Soul Deep.” Listening to Chilton on those hit records – it was hard to believe he was around 17-years-old.

According to People Mag, Sandra Bullock and hubby Jesse James are no longer living at the same residence. Why? Apparently he was cheating on her.

Actor Fess Parker, who became every baby boomer's idol in the 1950s and launched a craze for coonskin caps as television's Davy Crockett, has died. He was 85. Family spokeswoman Sao Anash said Parker, who was also TV's Daniel Boone and later a major California winemaker and developer, died at his Santa Ynez Valley home. His death comes on the 84th birthday of his wife of 50 years, Marcella.

ellen degeneres show scholorshipA lesbian high school student embroiled in a legal flap over her school's prom policy has received a $30,000 scholarship on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Constance McMillen was speechless Friday when DeGeneres pulled out an oversized check from the Web site Tonic.Com, a digital media company. DeGeneres says she admires McMillen for challenging Itawamba County School District rules that would prevent her from escorting her girlfriend to the prom. The school district canceled the April 2 prom after McMillen's request.

“Days of Our Lives” - has been renewed for a 45th season, which will run on NBC through 2011. "The producers, cast and crew have worked tirelessly to make Days the ratings success it is today," Bruce Evans, NBC's senior vice president of drama programming, said in a statement. "Today's renewal is a true testament to all of their hard work. We could not be more delighted for them and for the multiple generations of fiercely loyal Days of Our Lives fans." This in light of the recent CBS cancellation of “As The World Turns” – TV’s longest running soap opera. .

Music producer Rob Fusari filed the $30.5 million lawsuit in Manhattan against Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanota) - the Grammy Award-winning performer. He said his protege and former girlfriend ditched him as her career soared. The suit says they co-wrote songs such as "Paparazzi" and "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich." Fusari also says he came up with her stage name and helped get her record deal. Gaga won two Grammys in January: best dance recording, for "Poker Face," and best electronic/dance album, for "The Fame."

Gaga For Beyonce’s new perfume - After just one month on the shelves, the 28-year-old singer's first fragrance, Heat, has earned $3 million in sales! Last year – the average celebrity fragrance earned roughly $2.5 million over the entire year according to a NY paper.

Top TV Show Ratings - March 15, 2010 -

1.

American Idol" (Tuesday)

FOX

2.

American Idol" (Wednesday)

FOX

3.

NCIS

CBS

4.

American Idol" (Thursday)

FOX

5.

Two and a Half Men

CBS

6.

NCIS: Los Angeles

CBS

7.

The Big Bang Theory

CBS

8.

The Mentalist

CBS

9.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CBS

10.

The Good Wife

CBS

11.

Undercover Boss

CBS

12.

Criminal Minds

CBS

13.

House

FOX

14.

Survivor: Heroes and Villains

CBS

15.

Desperate Housewives

ABC

16.

60 Minutes

CBS

17.

CSI: Miami

CBS

18.

CSI: NY

CBS

19.

Grey's Anatomy

ABC

20.

Cold Case

CBS

Top Music Albums - March 15, 2010 –

Plastic Beach – Gorillaz

Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

Battle of the Sexes – Ludacris

Get Off The Pain – Gary Allan

Valleys of Neptune – Jimi Hendrix

Broken Bells – Broken Bells

Soldier of Love – Sade

The Fame – Lady Gaga

The E.N.D. – The Black Eyed Peas

My World – Justin Bieber

Rebirth Lil Wayne

Hillbilly Bone – Blake Shelton

Animal – Ke$ha

Alice In Wonderland

My Best Days – Danny Gokey

Passion: Awakening – Passion

Crazy Heart – soundtrack

The Foundation - Zac Brown Band

Rated R - Rihanna

Fearless – Taylor Swift

Easton Corbin – Easton Corbin

The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga

The Love & War Masterpiece – Raheem DeVaughn

The Element of Freedom – Alicia Keys

Top Movies - March 15, 2010 -

Alice In Wonderland (3 weeks - $265 million)

Diary Of a Wimpy Kid

The Bounty Hunter

Repo Man

She’s Out of My League

Green Zone

Shutter Island

Avatar (14 weeks – $736 million)

Our Family Wedding

Remember Me

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