Dateline: Week Of February 1, 2010 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts
In The News -
Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday its dealers should get parts to fix a sticky gas pedal problem by the end of this week as the automaker apologized to customers and tried to bring an end to a recall that has affected 4.2 million vehicles worldwide. The company said in a statement that it has begun shipping parts and is training dealers on the repairs. Some dealers will stay open 24 hours to fix the 2.3 million cars and trucks affected by the recall in the U.S.
A female suicide bomber walking among Shiite pilgrims in northern Baghdad detonated an explosives belt on Monday, killing at least 41 people and wounded 106 others, officials said. The bombing was the first major strike this year against pilgrims making their way to the southern holy city of Karbala to mark a revered day on the Shiite calendar. It raised fears of an escalation of attacks when the pilgrimage culminates on Friday.
A better-than-expected report on pending home sales and strong results from homebuilder D.R. Horton helped ease concerns about the housing market and lift stocks today. The National Association of Realtors' index of pending home sales rose 1% in December after tumbling 16.4% in November. Pending sales reflect deals that have been signed but not completed. Sales were up 10.9% from the same month a year ago. The index has risen for nine out of the past 10 months as buyers work to take advantage of homebuyer tax credits extended by the government to prop up the market.
The military's top uniformed officer made an impassioned plea for allowing gays to serve openly in uniform, telling a Senate panel it was a matter of integrity and that it is wrong to force people to "lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." The comments by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, set the stage for the Defense Department's yearlong study into how the ban can be repealed without causing a major upheaval in the military.
President Barack Obama implored Senate Democrats on Wednesday to stay aggressive in pushing their agenda despite the loss of one vital seat, saying: "We still have to lead." Speaking to his party's senators at their strategy conference, Obama reminded Democrats they still hold a 59-41 majority, one shy of the 60 needed to overcome Republican filibuster delay tactics. Democrats lost a "super majority" when Republican Scott Brown won in a special election upset in Massachusetts. Obama said that for Democrats searching for a lesson from that election, "The answer is not to do nothing."
The number of newly laid-off workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week, evidence that layoffs are continuing and jobs remain scarce. The rise is the fourth in the past five weeks. Most economists hoped that claims would resume a downward trend that was evident in the fall and early winter.
James Arthur Ray, the motivational speaker was indicted on manslaughter charges that could land him in prison and topple his self-help empire. Ray was arrested on three counts of manslaughter for deaths of participants in a sweat lodge ceremony he led in northern Arizona last year. The Oct. 8 sweat lodge ceremony was intended to be the highlight of Ray's five-day "Spiritual Warrior" event at a retreat he rented near Sedona. He told participants, who paid more than $9,000 each to attend, that it would be one of the most intense experiences of their lives. About halfway through the two-hour ceremony, some began feeling ill, vomiting and collapsing inside the 415-square-foot structure. Despite that, Ray urged participants to push past their physical weaknesses and chided those who wanted to leave, authorities and participants have said. Two people — Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee — passed out inside the sweat lodge and died that night at a hospital. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., slipped into a coma and died a week later. Eighteen others were hospitalized.
U.S. payrolls unexpectedly fell in January, but the unemployment rate surprisingly dropped to a five-month low, according to a government report Friday that hinted at labor market improvement. The Labor Department said the economy shed 20,000 jobs after losing 150,000 jobs in December. November was revised to a gain of 64,000, up from 4,000. Annual benchmark revisions to payrolls data showed the economy has purged 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007.
Toyota's president apologized for the massive global recalls over sticking gas pedals as the automaker scrambles to repair a damaged reputation and sliding sales But Akio Toyoda, appointed to the top job at Toyota Motor Corp. last June, said the company is still deciding what steps to take to fix brake problems in the popular Prius gas-electric hybrid. Speaking at a hastily announced news conference that lasted an hour, a stern-looking Toyoda promised to beef up quality control. "We are facing a crisis," he said, publicly confronting the automaker's safety problems for the first time since the global recalls were announced Jan. 21.
A blizzard battered the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday, with emergency crews struggling to keep pace with the heavy, wet snow that piled up on roadways, toppled trees and left thousands without electricity. Most people seemed to be hunkered down at home early Saturday, out of the way of road crews. In downtown Washington, a few people ventured out to walk their dogs and clear away thigh-high snow from sidewalks. Plows and a few intrepid drivers cruised the snow-covered roads — a departure from the usual weekend traffic congestion.
Mudslides swept away cars and pushed furniture out of homes and into the streets in the foothills north of Los Angeles Saturday as an intense winter storm brought down hillsides. Five homes were destroyed and over 30 others were damaged.
Denny’s restaurants which practically shut down the Internet when it offered a free Grand Slam breakfast during its Super Bowl commercials last year, is doing it again. This time, you don’t even have to watch the game to get the details. The free breakfast will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9. Anyone who shows up at a participating location gets a free Original Grand Slam, which is two eggs, two slices of bacon, two pieces of sausage and two pancakes.
Sports News - February 1, 2010 -
Super Bowl XLIV – The New Orleans Saints in a terrific comeback – knock off the Indianapolis Colts 31-24. SuperBowl Commercials – well – the promo for David Letterman’s “Late Show” featured he, Oprah Winfrey and rival Jay Leno! Kudos to Saint’s Quarterback Drew Brees and Garrett Hartley’s three long field goals, and the interception/touchdown by Tracy Porter
Entertainment News - February 1, 2010 -
52nd Annual Grammy Awards –
Beyonce walked away with 6 awards. Taylor Swift – 4 awards. Some winners:
Song of the Year — “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” Thaddis Harrell, Beyonce Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Beyonce)
Best Country Album — Taylor Swift, “Fearless”
Best New Artist — Zac Brown Band
Best Comedy Album — Stephen Colbert, “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All!”
Record of the Year – “Use Somebody,” Kings of Leon
Best Rock Album — “21st Century Breadown,” Green Day
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration – “Run This Town,” Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West
More Grammy - Country-pop Taylor Swift, who rocketed to stardom with ballads of teen love that she wrote on her bedroom floor, became the youngest artist to win the coveted Grammy for album of the year. Swift, who turned 20 in December, took home four awards after being nominated eight times. She had never previously won any Grammys. Her second album, "Fearless," was the most popular release in the United States last year. U.S. sales to date stand at 5.4 million copies. Ms. Swift had been expected to dominate the music industry's top awards. But she was overshadowed by R&B singer Beyonce, who won six awards including song of the year -- the most won by a female artist at a single event.
Stars come together for the remake of “We Are The World” for Haiti. The roster of celebrities included everyone from music legends Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand to teen sensations Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers. The diverse group also features Celine Dion, Carlos Santana, Jason Mraz, Akon, Kanye West, will.i.am, LL Cool J, Jeff Bridges, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, T-Pain, Natalie Cole, Julianne Hough, Pink, Joel and Benji Madden, Nicole Richie, Rashida Jones and Vince Vaughn.
Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, have signed on to produce Broadway’s Next Fall, a new play about “the happiness, strains and religious differences between two gay men over the course of their five-year romantic relationship.”
Prosecutors plan to charge Michael Jackson’s doctor with manslaughter rather than take the case to a grand jury. Prosecutors will file a criminal complaint against Dr. Conrad Murray, who practices in Houston, instead of taking the case before a grand jury, which is done in private, the official said.
Actor Rip Torn was released on bail and was headed for rehab after police said they found him drunk and armed with a loaded gun in a closed Connecticut bank last week. Torn 78, was charged in court with burglary, criminal trespass and weapons offenses but did not enter a plea. He was released on $100,000 bond, a court spokeswoman said.
Madonna and Jesus Luz split. He is 23 years old – she’s 51.
In a video interview with WGN TV reporter Dean Richards, the "Edge of Darkness" Mel Gibson called the Chicago newsman an "a**hole" after he was questioned about his past headline-making incident. Edge of Darkness," currently in theaters, is Gibson's first film in front of the cameras since the arrest. He spent the last several years in the director's chair - and largely out of the public eye. During the 2006 arrest, he made inflammatory remarks about Jews and women, stating, "f***ing Jews" and calling a female officer "sugar t**s." He later made several apologies for his behavior.
Matthew Broderick has signed on to star in the network's multicamera sitcom pilot, “Beach Lane.” The show, which was green-lit Monday, will star Broderick as a celebrity author hired to run a millionaire's struggling small-town newspaper in the Hamptons.
James Cameron's latest epic is now the top-grossing film of all time in the U.S. – earning over $600 million in the U.S.
Chris Meloni's time at Law & Order: Special Victims Unit might be winding down. Meloni will take his final bow as Detective Eliot Stabler on the show in season twelve; production on that season begins later this year, with episodes running through spring 2011.
Rapper Lil’ Wayne is going to jail. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge in October and received a 12-month sentence, which begins next week on Rikers Island in New York. He says he’s looking forward to it.
Jamie Lynn Spears has split from Casey Aldridge, with whom she has a 19-month-old daughter. The younger sister of Britney, star of Nickelodeon's hit Zoey 101, made headlines in 2007 when she announced that she was pregnant at the age of 16.
ABC says the housemates from "Jersey Shore" are headed to "The View" for some fist-pumping and outlandish talk. ABC says the unlikely stars from the hit MTV reality series about a group of 20-something Italian-Americans will be guests on the weekday talk show on Feb. 23. They're all scheduled to appear: Snooki, JWoww, Jolie, Vinny, Ronnie, Sammi, Pauly D and, of course, The Situation.
Grammy-winner singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow has been tapped to appear in three episodes of the hit comedy series “Cougar Town.” Crow's past TV and movie appearances were mostly herself singing – but in this role – she’ll act – and not as herself.
TV listings/TV Guide - February 1, 2010 -
Saturday Night television
Hallmark has an 'I Love Lucy' marathon all night.
At 7, Cartoon Network has a new 'Bakugan,' then a new 'Super Hero Squad Show.'
At 8, FOX has the 'Sprint Cup: Budweiser Shootout' NASCAR race.
HGTV has a new 'Divine Design' at 8.
TCM has 'Bullitt' at 8, then 'The French Connection.'
At 8:30, Nickelodeon has a new 'True Jackson, VP,' followed by a new episode of 'The Troop.'
At 9, CNBC has a new 'Suze Orman Show.'
Food Network has a new 'Challenge' at 8, then a new 'Iron Chef America.'
Syfy has 'The Cursed' at 9.
Also at 9: BBC America has a new 'Demons.'
At 10, CBS has a new '48 Hours Mystery.'
Style Network has a new episode of 'The Dish' at 10.
At 11, FOX has a new 'Wanda Sykes Show.'
At 11:30, NBC has a new 'Saturday Night Live,' with Ashton Kutcher and Them Crooked Vultures.
Top Movies - February 1, 2010 -
Edge of Darkness
When in Rome
The Book of Eli
The Lovely Bones
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Speakquel
Top Music Albums - February 1, 2010 -
Hope For Haiti Now
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
I Dreamed a Dream – Susan Boyle
The Greatest Love Songs of My Time – Barry Manilow
The Fame – Lady Gaga
Michael Jackson’s This Is It
The Sea – Corinne Bailey Rae
2010 Grammy Nominees
Songs From the Heart - Celtic Woman
The E.N.D. – Black Eyed Peas
Fearless – Taylor Swift
Kidz Bop 17 – Kidz Bop
The Element of Freedom – Alicia Keys
Animal – Ke$ha
Lady Antebellum – Lady Antebellum
Fearless – Taylor Swift
The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga
Crazy Love – Michael Buble
Contra – Vampire Weekend
Rated R - Rihanna
Stronger With Each Tear – Mary J. Blige
What Is Love? – Never Shout Never
My World – Justin Bieber
The Foundation – Zac Brown Brand.