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Dateline: Week Of February 15, 2011 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In The News -

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, who has dodged corruption trials and no-confidence votes with the skill of an Olympic athlete, faced a potentially fatal challenge to his power Tuesday when a judge ordered him to stand trial on prostitution and abuse of power charges. Berlusconi is going on trial April 6 in Milan on charges that he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl and then tried to cover it up. Berlusconi has been in court for a number of business-related charges, but this is the first time the 74-year-old billionaire businessman is being tried for personal conduct.

The Dalai Lama's nephew was killed Monday (Feb. 14) along a Florida highway during one of his long treks to bring awareness to the Tibetan struggle for independence from China, officials said. Jigme K. Norbu, 45, was hit by an SUV around 7:30 p.m. on State Road A1A along the state's eastern coast, the Florida Highway Patrol reported. Police released few other details.

Consumers bought more from retailers for a seventh straight month in January. But snowstorms limited the spending gains expected from workers with more money in their paychecks from a Social Security tax cut. Retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month to $318.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Demand rose at department stores, electronic stores and auto dealerships. Sales have risen more than 14 percent from the recession low in December 2008.

bernard madoff news february 15 2011Bernard L. Madoff said he never thought the collapse of his Ponzi scheme would cause the sort of destruction that has befallen his family. In his first interview for publication since his arrest in December 2008, Mr. Madoff — looking noticeably thinner and rumpled in khaki prison garb — maintained that family members knew nothing about his crimes. But during a private two-hour interview in a visitor room here on Tuesday (Feb.16) and in earlier e-mail exchanges, he asserted that unidentified banks and hedge funds were somehow “complicit” in his elaborate fraud, an about-face from earlier claims that he was the only person involved in the fraud.

Hundreds of people clashed with police and government supporters overnight in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a witness and local media said, in a rare show of unrest in the oil exporting country. Libya has been tightly controlled by leader Muammar Gaddafi for over 40 years but has also felt the ripples from popular revolts in its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia.

Iraq's capital wants the United States to apologize and pay $1 billion for the damage done to the city not by bombs but by blast walls and Humvees since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The city's government issued its demands in a statement on Wednesday that said Baghdad's infrastructure and aesthetics have been seriously damaged by the American military.

MANAMA, Bahrain – Army patrols and tanks locked down the capital of this tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators, many of them sleeping, in a pre-dawn assault Thursday that uprooted their protest camp demanding political change. Medical officials said four people were killed.

More people applied for unemployment benefits last week, one week after claims had fallen to the lowest level in nearly three years. The big drop a week earlier had occurred largely because bad weather in many parts of the country had kept people from applying for benefits. The Labor Department said Thursday that 410,000 people sought unemployment assistance last week, a jump of 25,000 from the previous week. The rise was much larger than economists had expected.

Bahrain's leaders banned public gatherings and sent tanks into the streets Thursday (Feb. 17), intensifying a crackdown that killed five anti-government protesters, wounded more than 200 and turned a hospital into a cauldron of anguish and rage against the monarchy. Bahrain's streets were mostly empty after the bloody clampdown, but thousands defied authorities by marching in cities in Libya and Yemen as the wave of political unrest continued in the wake of uprisings that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

The father of The 5 Browns musical group pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing his daughters when they were children. With scratches on his face from a car crash, 55-year-old Keith Brown entered his plea to three felony counts in Fourth District Court.Court records show Utah County prosecutors charged Brown with one first-degree felony count of sodomy on a child and two second-degree felony counts of sexual abuse of a child. Brown's daughters are part of the classical piano group The 5 Browns whose albums have topped the classical music charts and who have appeared on "Oprah" and other shows.

Protesters who have descended on Wisconsin's Capitol in hopes of halting a Republican effort to end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for public workers steeled themselves for a long fight, buoyed by Democrats' decision to flee to avoid the measure's near-certain passage. With Democrats saying they won't return before Saturday, it was unclear when the Senate would be able to begin debating the measure meant to ease the state's budget woes. Democrats who disappeared Thursday at first kept their whereabouts secret, then started to emerge to give interviews and fan the protests.

Thousands of mourners called for the downfall of Bahrain's ruling monarchy and worshippers at Friday prayers chanted against the king as anger shifted toward the nation's highest authorities after a deadly assault on pro-reform protesters that has brought army tanks into the streets of one of the most strategic Western allies in the Gulf. The cries against the king and his inner circle — at a main Shiite mosque and at burials for those killed in Thursday's crushing attack — reflect an important escalation of the political uprising, which began with calls to weaken the Sunni monarchy's power and address claims of discrimination against the Shiite majority in the tiny island nation.

Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled agreed early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations. By a 235-189 vote, largely along party lines, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where it faces longer odds, and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

Libyans set up neighborhood patrols in the shaken eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday as police disappeared from the streets following an attack by government forces on a two-day-old encampment of protesters demanding an end to Moammar Gadhafi's regime, eyewitnesses said. The situation in the North African nation has become increasingly chaotic, with a human rights group estimating 84 people have died in a harsh crackdown on anti-Gadhafi demonstrations and the U.S.-based Arbor Networks security company saying Internet service was cut off around 2 a.m. Saturday, eliminating a critical link to the outside world.

Banks across Egypt threw open their doors Sunday, returning to business after an almost weeklong closure mandated by the central bank because of strikes and labor protests that have hampered efforts to reboot the nation's economy. It marked the second time in three weeks that Egypt's banks have reopened after a state-ordered closure.

More News - February 15, 2011

As union supporters moved inside for a sixth straight day of protests at the Wisconsin Capitol, Gov. Scott Walker reiterated Sunday (Feb.20) that he wouldn't compromise on the issue that had mobilized them, a bill that would eliminate most of public employees' collective bargaining rights. Democratic lawmakers have said they and union members would agree to financial concessions that the Republican governor wants in exchange for workers keeping their collective bargaining rights. But Walker said he wasn't willing to budge, and he expected the bill to pass as is.

A Delta plane's engine failed in mid-air over Florida, forcing the flight to make an emergency landing Sunday morning, authorities said. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said it was a so-called "contained" engine failure, meaning small parts such as fan blades came out the back of the engine. A more dangerous scenario would be if the pieces penetrated the engine's cover and were uncontained.

A spate of attacks on taxis in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco has left 12 taxi drivers or passengers dead, police said Sunday, just hours before the Mexican Open tennis tournament is scheduled to start.

Acapulco has been the scene of bloody drug cartel turf wars, and taxi drivers have often been targeted for extortion or recruited by the gangs to act as lookouts or transport drugs.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to an Afghan government office Monday, killing at least 30 people — many who were waiting in line to obtain government identification cards, police said. The attack occurred around noon in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan where there has been a sharp slide in security in recent months, said district police chief Abdul Qayum Ebrahimi. At least 40 people were wounded in the blast, he said

Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi on Monday (Feb.21), claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. Moammar Gadhafi's son vowed that his father and security forces would fight "until the last bullet."

Sports News February 15, 2011 -

Michael Waltrip won at Daytona on the 10-year anniversary of his Waltrip passed Elliott Sadler in the final hundred yards of the season-opening Trucks Series race Friday night, then celebrated an emotional victory a decade after his car owner died on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Waltrip had tears in his eyes as he talked about what the win meant. He also became the 22nd driver to win races in each of NASCAR's top three series.

But Wait – Sunday’s A Different Story - We knew that the two-by-two racing would play a significant role in Sunday's Daytona 500. And we knew that Michael Waltrip would have a significant role on the 10th anniversary of his landmark 2001 win. As it turns out, both storylines blended early in the race, with catastrophic effect. In Lap 29, Michael Waltrip, pushing David Reutimann, got misaligned and spun Reutimann, triggering a wreck that took out literally one-third of the field. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambros and feel-good story Brian Keselowski were among those collected in the wreck.

kobe bryant mvp february 2001Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and was named the most valuable player in leading the West to a 148-143 victory over the East in the 60th NBA All-Star Game today at Staples Center. Bryant was five points off the record 42 set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. It was the most points he scored in his 12 All-Star Games. LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire each scored 29 for the East. James had a team-high 12 rebounds and a game-high 10 assists. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh added 14 each, Ray Allen 12 and Joe Johnson and Derrick rose 11 each.

Technology News February 15, 2011 –

Apple is saying that if publishers want to sell digital newspapers and magazines for the iPhone and iPad, they must give customers the option of paying through its iTunes store. Apple Inc.. receives a 30 percent cut from such sales. If people choose to leave the app anyway and buy through a Web browser, Apple does not receive any of the proceeds. That option will remain available. News Corp. unveiled The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper, this month. People are charged through iTunes for a subscription.

A powerful solar eruption that has already disturbed radio communications in China could disrupt electrical power grids and satellites used on Earth in the next days, NASA said. The massive sunspot, which astronomers say is the size of Jupiter, is the strongest solar flare in four years, NASA said Wednesday.

A new version of board game staple Monopoly will ditch the dice and paper money in exchange for an ominous computer tower that monitors player activity. Hasbro unveiled the product --somewhat ironically dubbed "Monopoly Live" -- at this week's Toy Fair in New York. The ten-inch tower sits in the middle of the game board, using infrared technology to keep track of the action while barking out instructions to players. Move one too many spaces? The all seeing eye computer tower will know. It even rolls the (virtual) dice for you.

SONY has launched the latest iTunes competitor in the United States. "Music Unlimited" was unveiled last September in the U.K. Now, Sony and three other record labels have introduced the streaming music service in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Sony aims to introduce the service, which offers basic membership for $3.99 a month, in at least nine more countries before the end of the year. "MUSIC UNLIMITED, which has more than six million songs, lets SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT and partners UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, EMI MUSIC and WARNER MUSIC GROUP sell directly to customers, giving them increased control over revenue as the industry battles piracy and declining CD sales."

To keep up with soaring sales of Apple's hit iPad tablet, competitors will have to do more than just design and market a good rival. A report Friday said they may face problems building them. It's no secret that Apple, which sold more than 14 million iPads last year and could see sales of more than 45 million in 2011, hedges its bets by ordering components it needs in massive quantities, ahead of demand.

Entertainment News February 15, 2011 –

billy ray cyrus news february 2011Billy Ray Cyrus says the Disney TV show "Hannah Montana" destroyed his family, causing his divorce and sending daughter Miley Cyrus spinning out of control.

In a December interview published in the Feb. 22 issue of GQ Magazine, Cyrus said he wished the show that launched his daughter to pop stardom had never happened" “I hate to say it, but yes, I do. Yeah. I'd take it back in a second," Cyrus said. "For my family to be here and just be everybody OK, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I'd erase it all in a second if I could."


Passing – actor Kenneth Mars - best known for his performance as a Nazi playwright in the original film version of The Producers. He was 75.

Former pro-wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson will host WrestleMania XXVII on April 3 in Atlanta, the WWE announced on Tuesday. "I'm absolutely thrilled and fired up to be the host of WrestleMania. My goal was to partner up with Vince McMahon and WWE to create and deliver something globally entertaining and electrifying," the star said in a press release. "As an actor, entertainer and someone who both loves and has grown up in the sports entertainment business, the opportunity to host 75,000 passionate fans in a live venue, not to mention the millions that will be watching worldwide, is not only thrilling but quite honestly the opportunity of a lifetime. It's going to be one helluva an epic night."

David Cassidy has pleaded no contest in a Florida court to driving under the influence, officials said. Cassidy, 60, is a singer-actor best known for his work on the TV series "The Partridge Family." He was arrested in November after he was allegedly spotted driving erratically. Police said Cassidy claimed he was tired and admitted having taken a hydrocodone tablet earlier in the day. Investigators also said they found a half-empty bottle of bourbon in his car. Cassidy will be on probation for a year.

Mickey Rooney has been granted a restraining order against his stepson.According to court documents, the veteran actor, who rose to stardom in the 1930s, is claiming that Chris Aber has been withholding food and medicine from him and meddling in his personal finances. Earlier this week, a Los Angeles Superior Court approved the order that requires Aber to stay 100 yards away from Rooney.

Passing - Walter Seltzer, a Hollywood press agent turned producer, died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund's retirement home. He was 96.

Music News February 15, 2011 -

Lady Gaga makes an appearance on “Good Morning America.”

bruno mars pleads guilty - february 2011Fresh off his weekend Grammy win, singer Bruno Mars pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on Wednesday but avoided jail in exchange for probation, community service and drug counseling. Mars, 25, who had a breakthrough year in 2010 with hits "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade", made a brief appearance in a Las Vegas courtroom where a judge sanctioned a plea deal worked out with prosecutors. Mars, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, was arrested in September in a bathroom at the Hard Rock Hotel with a bag of cocaine, according to a police report.

Rod Stewart got another reason to rock: He just became a father for the eighth time! Stewart's wife Penny Lancaster gave birth to a son, Aiden, on Wednesday, the 66-year-old rocker's rep tells us.

Passing - John Strauss, a composer and sound editor whose work includes theme songs from early TV shows and the film and soundtrack for Oscar best picture winner "Amadeus," has died. He was 90.

Britney Spears debuted the music video for her new single, "Hold It Against Me," on MTV and Vevo.com on Thursday night -- and the sexy singer definitely brought her A-game!

Michael Jackson’s's estate has generated $310 million in revenue from album sales, a film, merchandising and other products since the "Thriller" singer died in 2009, according to court papers filed on Thursday. His estate's administrators have used $159 million to pay down the pop star's debt, which when Jackson died amounted to more than $400 million, court records show.

Thursday was a big day in the world of 10-year-old Canadian singers!

Canada in the Spotlite - First, Lady Gaga threw her support behind Winnipeg resident Maria Lourdes Aragon's YouTube performance of "Born This Way," and now, Simon Cowell has added a different 10-year-old performer -- Toronto native Heather Russell -- to his record label. The former "American Idol" judge/music mogul gave Heather a contract after viewing a YouTube video of the budding artist - shared with him by former "Canadian Idol" judge Zack Werner.

Justin Bieber finally won a trophy in L.A. The teen singing sensation, who was shut out at the Grammys, was chosen most valuable player despite playing for the losing team in the NBA All-Star celebrity game on Friday night. Bieber had eight points, four assists and two rebounds for the West team, which lost 54-49 to the East at the Los Angeles Convention Center.With actorJamie Foxx and Lakers star Lamar Odom watching, Bieber missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it with 30 seconds to go. Afterward, the 16-year-old was hurried off the court by burly security guards.

Bieber's week began when he lost out on his two Grammy nominations at Staples Center. But things picked up with another TV guest appearance on "CSI" and his "Never Say Never" concert movie was No. 2 at the box office.

Television News February 15, 2011 -

ken jennings news photo february 2011In the ”Jeopardy" battle of man vs. machine, man and machine were neck-and-neck on Monday (Feb.14). Human player Brad Rutter and the supercomputer named Watson ended an initial round tied at $5,000. The other challenger, human Ken Jennings, was far behind with $2,000. Rutter (the show's all-time money-winner with $3.25 million) and Jennings (who has the longest winning streak at 74 games) are the most successful players in "Jeopardy!" history. Watson, named for IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is powered by 10 racks of computer servers running the Linux operating system.

Passing - Actor Len Lesser -- perhaps best known as "Uncle Leo" on Seinfeld -- passed away on Wednesday at age 88. The actor died in his Burbank, Calif. home of pneumonia related to cancer.

“Two and a Half Men” will resume production Feb. 28.Four more episodes will be produced this season, instead of eight as originally planned. The CBS comedy has been on hiatus since Charlie Sheen entered rehab Jan. 28, a day after being admitted to a hospital because of abdominal pain. Up to $250 million in domestic syndication deals — as well as millions more in ad revenue — were in jeopardy because of the shutdown. Sheen reportedly offered to cover one-third of the salaries of the "Two and a Half Men" crew during the shutdown if CBS and Warner Bros. TV would pay the rest.

Top Pop Hits February 15, 2011 -

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

Firework – Katy Perry

Black and Yellow Wiz Khalifa

F**in’ Perfect – P!nk

Grenade – Bruno Mars

F**k You (Forget You) – Cee Lo Green

Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) – Enrique Iglesias fea. Ludacris & DJ Frank E

S&M – Rihanna

The Time (Dirty Bit) – The Black Eyed Peas

Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears

Hey Baby (Drop It TO the Floor) – Pitbull fea. T-Pain

avril lavigne news music february 2011What The Hell - Avril Lavigne

Rocketeer – Far*East Movement fea. Ryan Tedder

What’s My Name? Rihanna fea. Drake

6 Foot 7 Foot – Lil Wayne fea. Cory Gunz

Raise Your Glass – P!nk

Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars

Hit the Lights – Jay Sean fea. Lil Wayne

We R Who We R – Ke$ha

Moment 4 Life – Nicki Minaj fea. Drake

More – Usher

Yeah 3X – Chris Brown

I Do – Colbie Caillat

Back to December – Taylor Swift

Never Say Never – Justin Bieber fea. Jaden Smith

TV listings/TV Guide - February 15, 2011 -

Hip Sunday Night TV


ABC: 'America's Funniest Home Videos'
CBS: '60 Minutes'
NBC: 'Dateline'


ABC: 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'
CBS: 'The Amazing Race' (season premiere)
FOX: 'The Simpsons'
PBS: 'Nature'
Disney: 'Good Luck Charlie'
ESPN: 'Year of the Quarterback'
Style: 'Jerseylicious'
Sundance: 'Brick City'


FOX: 'Bob's Burgers'
Disney: 'Shake It Up!'


ABC: 'Desperate Housewives'
CBS: 'Undercover Boss'
NBC: 'Saturday Night Live Backstage'
FOX: 'Family Guy'
PBS: 'Masterpiece Classic'
Food Network: 'Worst Cooks in America'
History Channel: 'Ax Men'
Cooking Channel: 'Food(ography)'
Style: 'Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane'
Oxygen: 'Snapped'
HBO: 'Big Love'
Showtime: 'Californication'


FOX: 'The Cleveland Show'
Showtime: 'Episodes' (season finale)


ABC: 'Brothers & Sisters'
CBS: 'CSI: Miami'
Food Network: 'Iron Chef America'
Bravo: 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta'
HGTV: 'House Hunters'
Comedy Central: 'Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me'
E!: 'Kourtney & Kim Take New York'
Style: 'The Dish'


HGTV: 'House Hunters International'
E!: 'Holly's World'
Showtime: 'Shameless'


Cartoon Network: 'Robot Chicken'

TV Ratings February 15, 2011 –


Grammy Awards



American Idol" (Wednesday)



American Idol" (Thursday)






NCIS: Los Angeles



Two and a Half Men



The Mentalist



Criminal Minds



Modern Family



The Big Bang Theory



CSI: Crime Scene Investigation



Mike & Molly






60 Minutes



The Good Wife



Blue Bloods






Hawaii Five-0



Mr. Sunshine



Grey's Anatomy


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