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Dateline: Week Of December 22, 2010 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In The News -

Declaring that members of the military will no longer be asked to lie, President Barack Obama fulfilled a campaign promise Wednesday and signed a landmark law repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the armed services. "This is a good day," a beaming Obama said. "This is a very good day." The service chiefs must complete implementation plans before lifting the old policy — and they must certify to lawmakers that it won't damage combat readiness, as critics charge.

After a last-minute compromise, the Senate passed legislation Wednesday to provide up to $4.2 billion in new aid to survivors of the September 2001 terrorism attack on the World Trade Center and responders who became ill working in its ruins. A House vote was expected on the bill within hours as lawmakers raced to wrap up their work for the year before Christmas. President Obama has said he looks forward to signing the measure, though some supporters of the bill have criticized him for not getting more involved in the fight.

Italian police said on Thursday they were checking all embassies in Rome after two people were injured in separate explosions at the Swiss and Chilean missions in what Rome’s mayor called a "wave of terrorism." There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the incidents bore similarities to an episode in Greece last month in which far-left militants were suspected of sending parcel bombs to foreign governments and embassies in Athens.

The United Nations warned Thursday that at least 173 people have died in violence over the disputed presidential election, and said it had not even been able to investigate all the reports that have fueled concerns about a return to civil war.

joe biden news december 22, 2010Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the country is evolving on the issue of gay marriage and he thinks it's inevitable there will be national consensus. He said on ABC's "Good Morning America" the same thing is happening with the issue of marriage that happened with gays' service in the military.

Insurgents attacked five security checkpoints in a northwestern Pakistan region on the Afghan border on Friday (Dec. 24) killing 11 soldiers and leading to clashes in which 24 militants died, officials said.About 150 militants staged simultaneous attacks on the checkpoints in the Baizai area of the Mohmand ethnic Pashtun tribal region, officials said.

A storm that promised to bring a white Christmas to much of the Midwest dumped 9 inches of snow in Iowa by Friday morning and was moving east, where a rare bit of holiday snow was expected as far south as Atlanta. The storm was expected to dip south into Tennessee and Georgia on Saturday, then perhaps move north Sunday. Winter weather advisories were in effect from Kansas east to Kentucky and from Minnesota south to Arkansas on Friday.

pope benedict christmas eve mass dec 2010Pope Benedict XVI ushered in Christmas Eve with an evening mass amid heightened concerns after package bombings at two Rome embassies and Christmas Eve security breaches at the Vatican the past two years. Benedict proceeded down the central aisle of St. Peter's Basilica at the start of the mass without incident, with his normal phalanx of bodyguards on either side. He stopped twice to bless babies held up to him from the pews.

A tour bus slammed into a truck in southern Egypt on Sunday, killing eight Americans and injuring 21 others in the latest fatal crash involving tourists, the state news agency said. The bus was taking a tour group on the 115-mile journey from Aswan to the ancient temples of Abu Simbel along Lake Nasser, when it ran into the truck carrying sand parked on the side of a single lane desert road, killing six women and two men.

A powerful East Coast blizzard marooned thousands of would-be air, rail and road travelers Monday (Dec. 27,) shutting down major airports and rail lines for a second day, stranding buses on buried highways, and forcing New York City subway riders to spend a cold night in unheated trains. Officials urged anyone who did not have to drive to stay off roads in the region, where high winds pushed snow into deep drifts across streets, railroads and runways. More than two feet of snow had fallen in some areas by Monday morning.

More News - December 22, 2010 -

It was a tough year to be Barack Obama in many respects--but he's ending it on a strong note. Not only did the president rack up a number of Key legislative wins in the lame-duck 111th Congress, but he also won the honor of being the man Americans admired most in 2010, according to a Gallup/USA Today poll.

Five men planning to shoot as many people as possible in a building housing the newsroom of a paper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were arrested Wednesday in an operation that halted an imminent attack, intelligence officials said. Denmark's intelligence service said that after months of surveillance they had arrested four men in two raids in suburbs of the capital, Copenhagen, and seized a submachine gun, a silencer and ammunition. Swedish police said they arrested a 37-year-old Swedish citizen of Tunisian origin living in Stockholm.

Eight homeless squatters who died in a fire at an abandoned warehouse where they were trying to keep warm were accomplished musicians and artists who rejected the label "gutter punk," acquaintances said. Firefighters said they could not tell the ages or genders of those who died Tuesday in the city's deadliest blaze in decades because their bodies were so badly burned. A 23-year-old man who escaped told the American Red Cross he could not get back in to help his friends because of the smoke, agency volunteer Thomas Butler said. The group had been burning debris to keep warm, with temperatures below freezing, authorities said.

Failed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell said that accusations she misspent campaign funds are politically motivated and stoked by disgruntled former campaign workers. The Delaware Republican appeared on several network morning shows to defend herself a day after The Associated Press reported federal authorities have launched a criminal probe to determine whether she broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses.

Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced to six more years in prison following a trial seen as payback for his defiance of Vladimir Putin. Judge Viktor Danilkin sentenced Khodorkovsky to 14 years after convicting him of stealing oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds. The 14-year sentence, which was what prosecutors had demanded, will be counted from his 2003 arrest and include a previous term in prison. Khodorkovsky is in the final year of an eight-year prison sentence.

Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted of raping an employee when he was a Cabinet minister, the most serious criminal charges ever brought against a high-ranking official in Israel and a case that shocked the nation. Katsav, 65, likely faces from four to 16 years in prison for the crimes, which included two counts of raping an employee in 1998 when he was tourism minister and lesser counts of indecent acts and sexual harassment involving two other women who worked for him when he held the largely ceremonial office of president from 2000-2007.

A tornado fueled by an unusually warm winter air sliced through parts of northwestern Arkansas early on New Year's Eve, killing three people, injuring several others and knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses. The dead were killed at Cincinnati, a hamlet of about 100 about three miles from the Oklahoma border. Washington County sheriff's dispatcher Josh Howerton said the storm touched down near the center of the community. He said "lots of injuries" were reported, and officials in nearby Benton County said the storm injured two people and damaged five homes there.

December's wave of unusually cold weather has destroyed much of Florida's green beans and sweet corn, which means shoppers will pay more at the grocery store and see more imports on the shelves. Florida is the nation's largest producer of green beans and sweet corn — the kind of corn we eat, not the kind we put in our gas tanks.

A U.S. missile strike killed eight suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Friday (Dec. 30), the final day of a year that has seen a major escalation in drone attacks targeting insurgents flowing into neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

CVS Caremark, No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain, agreed to buy Universal American's Medicare prescription drug business for about $1.25 billion to expand in a growing segment of the pharmacy benefit market. The deal will more than double the size of CVS Caremark's business that provides prescription drug coverage under the Medicare Part D program. Medicare is the U.S. government's healthcare program for the elderly.

North Korea which has conducted two nuclear tests in the past, on Saturday welcomed the new year with calls for a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons, better ties with rival South Korea and a promise to boost its military strength. The North's annual New Year's message comes in the wake of its Nov. 23 artillery attack on a front-line South Korean island near the Koreas' disputed western sea border.

Sports News - December 22, 2010 -

Passing - Bud Greenspan, the filmmaker whose documentaries often soared as triumphantly as the Olympic athletes he chronicled for more than six decades, died at his home in New York City. He was 84.

In a move that could not have come as a surprise to anyone, the San Francisco 49ers have informed head coach Mike Singletary that he is fired, according to multiple Bay Area sources. Both Adam Schefter of ESPN and Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network confirmed Sunday with team owner Jed York that the team would be hiring a new general manager after the end of the season, and that the new GM was likely going to be in charge of hiring a new head coach. However, it was expected by most that Singletary would finish out the season. After the 49ers' 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams -- a loss that featured Singletary going at it in a prolonged verbal altercation with quarterback Troy Smith this week.

Tech News December 22, 2010 -

skype news december 2010After a daylong outage that left untold millions of Skype users high and dry, the CEO of the peer-to-peer chat service apologized, promised that service is slowly but surely being restored, and announced that credits may be in the offing for paying users. The root cause of Wednesday's massive Skype failure is still a mystery, however. In a blog post - Skype CEO Tony Bates said that as of Thursday morning, about 16.5 million users were back online — still only about 80 percent of the number you'd normally expect to see using Skype on a given weekday morning, but greatly improved from Wednesday, when as few as 1.6 million users were connected.

Mayor of Newark, NJ - Cory Booker has added social media to his arsenal of snowplows as the active Newark, New Jersey, mayor helps get his city dug out from several feet of snow from this week's storm. Booker is using Twitter to communicate directly with residents to help get roads cleared and people who are stuck in the snow some assistance. "I ... have a great Twitter feed, residents who are letting me know what's happening, letting me know if they need help," Booker said Tuesday evening. "We've gotten diapers to people. Delivered food," he said. "One pregnant woman who was going into labor -- at least thought she was. We were able to get there before the ambulances could. We actually got an ambulance unstuck."

Japan's Nintendo has issued a health warning over the 3D function on its upcoming gaming console, recommending children aged six and under do not play with it to prevent damage to their eyes. At a promotional event near Tokyo in January, "we will offer 2Ds alone to children aged six and younger as continuing to watch 3D images for a long time could negatively affect the development of their eyes," Nintendo said. The new-generation DS console -- which enables users to play 3D games without special glasses -- missed the Christmas season but will be released on February 26 in Japan and in March in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Music News December 22, 2010 –

Passing - Teena Marie, who had hits like "Lovergirl," "Square Biz," and "Fire and Desire" with mentor Rick James, has died. She was 54.The confirmation came from a publicist, Jasmine Vega, who worked with Teena Marie on her last album. No other details were available.Teena Marie, known as the "Ivory Queen of Soul," was certainly not the first white act to sing soul music, but she was arguably among the most gifted and respected, and was thoroughly embraced by the black audience.

Passing - Boney M frontman Bobby Farrell was found dead in his hotel room in St. Petersburg on Thursday, the day after a performance in the city where the band rose to stardom in the Soviet era, his agent said on Thursday. "He did a show last night as part of Bobby Farrell's Boney M and they found him this morning dead in his hotel room," agent John Seine told Reuters by telephone from the Netherlands. Farrell was 61.

elton john having baby - dec 2010New Baby For Elton – He’s Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John on Dec. 25 via a surrogate, Sir Elton John a, 62, and partner David Furnish, 48

Radio News - December 22, 2010 -

Passing – Well-known S. Florida talkshow host Neil Rogers. He was 65. Rogers retired from his colorful career last year.

Television News - December 22, 2010 -

Ten contestants who were plucked from obscurity from thousands who auditioned for "Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star" will compete in the New Year in hopes of landing their very own cable television show. Hosted by Nanc O’Dell and Carson Kressley, the 10 hopefuls will be put through a series of intense challenges to see who has the right stuff. "It is a reality show, so there was some hair-pulling and some name calling and that was just Nancy and I," jokes Kressley. More seriously, he adds, "We got out there and did our jobs. The thing is, all of these people are vying to have their dream come true. And it was really important to them -- our 10 contestants -- to do their best, so there was tension."

michael jackson estate news dec 2010The executors of Michael Jackson's estate are expressing outrage over an "insensitive" television special "in shockingly bad taste" that plans to reenact the King of Pop's autopsy. In a letter to Discovery Communications on Wednesday, John Branca and John McClain deplored in the strongest terms the Discovery Channel's "blind desire to exploit Michael's death, while cynically attempting to dupe the public into believing this show will have serious medical value." The pair were especially angered by a European promotional advertisement for the program that shows Jackson's trademark sequined glove emerging from beneath a coroner's white draping sheet.

Entertainment News December 22, 2010 -

The curtain finally goes up on "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" after the producers of the accident-plagued Broadway musical agreed to new safety precautions to prevent another fall like the one that left a stuntman seriously injured. The state Department of Labor said it is satisfied the producers of the $65 million musical have made the necessary adjustments. Wednesday night's performance was canceled so that the cast and crew could rehearse the new precautions, which include a requirement that a second person ensure that the harnesses used by performers during the show's high-flying stunts have been put on properly. The much-anticipated production, teaming "Lion King" creator Julie Taymor with songwriters Bono and The Edge of U2, has had a rocky route to Broadway. Already the most expensive show in Broadway history, it has been plagued by technical glitches, money woes and three other injuries, including a concussion and two broken wrists.

When you've become an Internet meme for your love of TRON, a movie theater really ought to let you watch the film in costume. Back before the Disney remake, Jay Maynard was a superfan of the original video game and movie, TRON. He gained widespread fame after obsessively documenting his intricate costume. From there, he became a convention darling and appeared on a handful of late night talk shows. Apparently the staff at a Minnesota movie theater hadn't heard of him. They refused to let him watch TRON: Legacy while wearing his light-up suit. Maynard says he believes the staff thought it would be too "distracting."

An aspiring model who died at the home of former Anheuser-Busch chief executive August Busch IV had a rare heart condition, according to her ex-husband. Adrienne Martin, 27, was found dead at Busch's suburban St. Louis home on Dec. 19. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday that Dr. Kevin Martin, a doctor of osteopathy who practices in Cape Girardeau, said he diagnosed his then-wife with a heart rhythm disorder in 2002, just after they married.

New Year’s Eve TV listings/TV Guide For December 31, 2010 -

A&E: Episodes of 'Criminal Minds' run for 19 hours starting at 8AM.
AMC: A fifteen hour marathon of 'Back to the Future' trilogy movies starting at 10:30AM.
Animal Planet: Nineteen hours of animal law-related series, including 'Animal Precinct,' 'Animal Cops' and 'Confessions: Animal Hoarding.'
BBC America: All 'Doctor Who' all the time from 1AM Friday until 8PM New Year's Day.
Bravo: Thirteen hours of 'The Real Housewives' of Orange County, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Atlanta starting at 8:30AM.
Cartoon Network: A marathon of 'Adventure Time With Finn and Jake' from 4 until 8:30PM.
CMT: A twelve hour 'The Dukes of Hazard' marathon begins at 2PM.
Comedy Central: 'Tosh.0' gets the marathon treatment from with three hours of episodes starting at 8:47PM.
Discovery: Seventeen hours of 'Deadliest Catch' starting at 9AM.
E!: Episodes of 'Kendra' and 'Married to Rock' run for 8 hours staring at 11AM.
Food Network: Fourteen hours of 'The Next Food Network Star' begin at 12:30 PM.
HGTV: 'House Hunters International' and 'House Hunters' go into marathon starting at 6:30AM and run for 21 hours.
ID: Twenty-three hours of 'Disappeared' start at 6AM.
Ion: A 'Without A Trace' marathon from 3PM until midnight.
MTV: A mega 'Jersey Shore' marathon starts 9:30AM and runs into Sunday.
Spike: '1000 Ways to Die' hits the marathon trail with an eleven-hour run starting at 11AM.
SyFy: The annual 'Twilight Zone' marathon begins at 8AM and ends Sunday morning.
Travel Channel: Eleven hours of 'Ghost Adventures' begins at 9AM.
USA: Twenty-three hours of 'House' begins at 6AM.

Bowl Games
'Meineke Car Care Bowl' (ESPN) -- Noon start for Clemson vs. South Florida
'Sun Bowl' (CBS) -- 2PM kickoff for Miami vs. Notre Dame
'Liberty Bowl' (ESPN) -- 3:30PM for Central Florida vs. Georgia
'Chick-Fil-A Bowl' (ESPN) -- 7:30PM start for Florida State vs. South Carolina

'Shake It Up New Years' (Disney) -- (120 minutes) Favorite episodes and music videos of the past year are featured as well as previews of events for 2011. Starts at 6PM.
'Live From Lincoln Center' (PBS) -- (120 minutes) New York Philharmonic New Year's performance begins at 8PM.
'Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2011' (ABC) -- Join Ryan and Dick at 10PM in the longest-titled New Year's Eve primetime special with correspondent Jenny McCarthy in Manhattan, Fergie in Los Angeles and performances by Ke$ha, Willow Smith and Train.
'New Year's Eve With Carson Daly' (NBC) -- Also a 10PM start. Carson hosts the festivities from Times Square. Continues at 11:30 after local news. Also broadcast on CNBC.
'Watch What Happens Live' (Bravo) -- (120 minutes) Andy Cohen hosts this event at the Bravo Clubhouse. Starts at 10:30
'MTV's New Year's Eve Bash 2011' (MTV) -- (90 minutes) Starts at 10:30
'New Year's Eve Live' (FOX) -- (90 minutes) Nancy O'Dell hosts from Las Vegas with performance by Travie McCoy and David Archuleta. Starts at 11PM
'106 & Party: New Year's Eve Special' (BET) -- (120 minutes) Starting at 11PM, ring in the New Year with performances by Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj
'New Year's Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin' (CNN) -- (120 minutes) Reports from Time Square, Central Park and Nashville. 11PM start
'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2011' (ABC) -- (98 minutes) 11:30 start with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Ne-Yo, New Kids on the Block and The Backstreet Boys

Alternate Programming
'Anderson Cooper's 360 All the Best, All the Worst 2010' (CNN) -- A recap of the news-worthy events of 2010 at 10PM with rebroadcasts throughout the weekend.
'Tom Arnold: That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It' (Showtime) -- who's been around for two decades debuts his first ever stand-up special at 9PM.
'WWE Friday Night SmackDown!' (SyFy) -- The 'Twilight Zone' marathon takes a break from 8 to 10PM for the WWE's weekly broadcast.

Top Music Albums December 22, 2010 –

susan Boyle news december 2010The Gift – Susan Boyle

Speak Now – Taylor Swift

O Holy Night – Jackie Evancho

Glee” The Music Christmas

Last Train to Paris – Diddy – Dirty Money

Love Letter – R. Kelly

Pink Friday – Nicki Minaj

Glee: Season Two

Born Free – Kid rock

Loud – Rihanna

My Worlds Acoustic

Illuminations – Josh Groban

Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

The Beginning – The Black Eyed Peas

Nothing Like This – Rascal Flatts

Merry Christmas II You – Mariah Carey

My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean

My World 2.0 – Justin Bieber

My Christmas – Andrea Bocelli

Recovery – Eminem

No Mercy – T.I.

Top Movies December 22, 2010 -

Little Fockers (1st week $48.3 million)

True Grit (1st week $36.8 million)

TRON: Legacy

The Chroniclesof Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Yogi Bear

The Fighter

Gulliver’s Travels (1st week $7.2 million)

Black Swan


The Tourist

The King’s Speech

How Do You Know

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