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Dateline: Week Of January 8, 2011 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In The News -

gabrielle gifords shotTUCSON, Ariz. – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding several others in a rampage that rattled the nation. Giffords was among at least 10 people wounded, and the hospital said her outlook was "optimistic" and that she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. The hospital said a 9-year-old child was among the dead, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.

Mexico's drug violence -, 27 people killed in less than a day, including 14 men whose bodies were found with their heads chopped off at a shopping center. Acapulco has seen fierce turf wars between drug gangs, and the bloodshed is scaring some vacationers away even though little of the violence happens in tourist areas. The 14 headless bodies, and a 15th intact corpse, were found by police on a street outside a shopping center accompanied by written warnings from a drug cartel, authorities said.

Doctors said Monday that Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' brain remains swollen, but the pressure isn't increasing — a good sign for the congresswoman's recovery. Neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole of Tucson's University Medical Center said Giffords' condition two days after surgery for a gunshot wound to the head remains stable. He said that swelling from such an injury typically peaks around the third day, so doctors "can breathe a collective sigh of relief" after that.

A 22-year-old man described as a social outcast with wild beliefs steeped in mistrust faces a federal court hearing Monday on charges he tried to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a Tucson shooting rampage that left six people dead. A military official in Washington said Jared Loughner was rejected from the Army in 2008 because he failed a drug test. The official spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because privacy laws prevent the military from disclosing such information about an individual's application.

President Barack Obama has presided over a national moment of silence for severely injured Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the people who were killed during an assassination attempt against her. On the White House South Lawn, Obama was joined by first lady Michelle Obama and White House staff members on a cold morning. The moment was marked at the U.S. Capitol and elsewhere around a nation still coming to grips with the tragedy.

For weeks, the flooding in eastern Australia has been a slow-motion disaster, with drenching rain devastating wide swaths of farmland and small towns. Now, rivers are rising in Brisbane, the country's third-largest city, forcing people to flee both suburbs and skyscrapers.

Flooding that has unfolded since late November across the waterlogged state of Queensland turned suddenly violent Monday, with a cloudburst sending a raging torrent down the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane. Hundreds had to be rescued by helicopter Tuesday.

Democratic Illinois lawmakers beat a looming deadline and approved a 66 percent income tax increase in a desperate bid to end the state's crippling budget crisis. Legislative leaders rushed early Wednesday to pass the politically risky plan before a new General Assembly was sworn in at noon, taking a slice out of the Democratic majority and removing lame-duck lawmakers willing to support the tax before leaving office.

The second major snow storm of the winter season pelted the Northeast with about 8 inches of snow on Wednesday, snarling traffic and canceling flights, but it was not enough to suspend school in New York City. The National Weather Service reported snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states -- only Florida was spared -- and much of the South was still battling icy conditions that made roads dangerous and led to several traffic deaths.

A Las Vegas judge has spared senior ACORN executive Amy Adele Busefink jail time for her role in a notorious voter fraud conspiracy. Judge Donald Mosley sentenced Busefink to two years imprisonment but suspended the jail time provided that she abides by the terms of her probation. She was also fined a total of $4,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Prosecutors had argued for a fine of just $1,000. Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is a blanket term encompassing a host of election-related improprieties.

Brazil’s Worst-Ever disaster - Summer rains sent tons of red mud and torrents of water rushing down mountainsides in towns outside Rio, enveloping homes of rich and poor alike and killing at least 500 people. Some survivors clung to trees to escape the water and landslides. Rescuers used heavy machinery, shovels and bare hands to dig through debris in a search for survivors Wednesday. It was not immediately clear how many people were rescued. At least 50 remained missing, and officials feared that figure would rise.

TUCSON, Ariz. – President Obama exhorted Americans to refrain from partisan bickering and urged the country to embrace the idealistic vision of democracy held by 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, the youngest Arizona shooting victim and an aspiring politician who is set to be buried Thursday in the first of half-a-dozen funerals. Speaking to an arena audience of about 14,000 and even more in a nearby football stadium and at homes across the country, Obama drew on themes of unity, patriotism and heroism as he tried to help the nation make sense of a tragedy that unfolded as citizens were exercising their most basic of rights, meeting with their congresswoman.

Steven Vego heard a pop in the rear of his Southern California home and went outside to investigate. His son and wife followed in what turned out to be a tragic decision. The three were electrocuted Friday, one after the other as the wife and son attempted rescues, each coming in contact with a 12,000-volt power line that had fallen over in their backyard, authorities said. San Bernardino firefighters arrived to find the three bodies, but it was too dangerous to free them, fire spokesman Jason Serrano said. A utility company finally cut the power.

Serving as California governor cost Arnold Schwarzenegger at least $200 million, the bodybuilding star turned actor and politician told a newspaper in his native Austria, insisting 'it was more than worth it." Counting expenses and lost income from acting in Hollywood films, "in all it is probably more than $200 million," he told Krone when asked how much his two terms in Sacramento had cost.

Sports New January 8, 2011 –

Auburn's first BCS Championship and the second college football national championship in school history came down to a simple twist of fate. Michael Dyer's spinning, twisting recovery from an apparent tackle produced a game-changing 37-yard run late in the fourth quarter, and then he made an almost identical play to give the Tigers the ball inside the 1-yard line and set up Wes Bynum's 19-yard field goal as time expired, giving Auburn a thrilling 22-19 victory over Oregon in the BCS Championship Game on Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor avoided jail on Thursday by pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges stemming from his May arrest on rape and prostitution charges. The former New York Giants great will serve six years probation as part of the agreement, which saw him plead guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. He will have to register as a sex offender. In court, Taylor admitted to having sex with a prostitute who ended up being a 16-year-old runaway. "She told me she was 19," he said.

Technology News January 8, 2011 -

Motorola Mobility's Xoom tablet computer powered by new "Honeycomb" software from Google was crowned the best gadget at the giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Saturday. Along with being declared the top creation at the dazzling gadget extravaganza, Xoom was also honored as the best of the scores of tablets introduced here as fresh competitors in a market dominated by Apple IPads.

Verizon Wireless, the top U.S. mobile provider, plans on Tuesday to unveil a version of the Apple iPhone for its service and will kick off sales of the device a few weeks later, a source told Reuters. Verizon Wireless will offer the iPhone to its customers under its existing wireless service price plans, said the source, who asked not to be named as the plan has not yet been announced.

News Corp's MySpace is laying off nearly half its staff, setting the stage for a sale of the former Internet social networking leader as is it refocuses as an entertainment site. The restructuring affects about 500 employees, or 47 percent of the company, and comes after weeks of speculation on technology blogs about the cuts.

iPad will soon have a Paper feature to be announced by Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch. The two men will make the announcement later this month. Jobs and Murdoch will appear together at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, at a launch event, rumoured to be scheduled for January 19. Murdoch has called his iPad newspaper his "number one most exciting project" in recent months, with the paper set to have a core full-time editorial staff based out of offices in New York and Los Angeles.

The child-abduction alert system used by law enforcement, broadcasters and transportation departments is now available on Facebook. AMBER Alerts have previously been available to many users via their local law enforcement Facebook pages. But now, Facebook users can receive the announcements directly from state AMBER Alert pages, by choosing which state's alerts they want to see. The District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories also each have an alert page.

Verizon Wireless said it will begin selling Apple's iPhone early next month, ending AT&T's four-year run as the phone's exclusive carrier. " Existing Verizon customers will be able to pre-order the phone beginning Feb. 3. The phone will launch in Apple and Verizon stores online on Feb. 10, according to Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead. Verizon customers eligible for "new every two" upgrades will be able to use those upgrade credits toward an iPhone.

New Facebook Profiles… Starting (January 13) all accounts will be upgraded to the new profile. The new Facebook profiles feature a revamped interface, as well as easy access to photos of the user. The profiles also offer more details about work and education information, while letting users put friends into distinct categories, list various interests, and fill out a nifty new "about me" user summary.

Computer history for $400?An IBM computer won the practice round on popular TV quiz show Jeopardy! against two top contestants, showing artificial intelligence has come a long way in simulating how humans think. "We have created a computer system which has the ability to understand natural human language, which is a very difficult thing for a computer to do," said John Kelly, the director of IBM Research. The emotion was left to the audience as Watson, the contestant, beat out two of Jeopardy’s most winningest champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, by $1,000. The machine, named Watson after legendary International Business Machines Machines president Thomas Watson, is a showcase of the company's computing expertise and research in advanced science.

Entertainment News January 8, 2011 -

Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian have been sued for $75 million in debit card damages -- and they didn't even slap down the plastic themselves. The sisters, along with mom Kris Jenner, are being sued by The Revenue Resource Group for breach of contract after they pulled out of promotional duties stemming from the launch of their branded prepaid debit card.

Another Awards Show! - MTV Comedy Central have announced The Comedy Awards, an event honoring the industry's top writers, directors, actors and stand-up comedians. "This historic, one-night-only celebration will honor [those] who provided the laugh track to our lives this past year: the pioneers who pushed boundaries; the TV shows that we rushed home for; the movies that are etched into our collective pop-culture memory; the stand-up comedians and the viral videos that make us laugh every day."

Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas, who revealed in August that he had throat cancer, said on Monday that his tumor is gone and chances are good he has beaten cancer. In an interview with U.S. morning news and talk show "Today," Douglas told co-host Matt Lauer, "I feel good, relieved."

The Ohio homeless man whose smooth broadcaster voice made him an Internet sensation was questioned by police after he and his daughter got into a heated argument at a hotel during a trip to Hollywood to appear on "Dr. Phil" and “Entertainment Tonight.” "I don't know how loud they were," Officer Catherine Massey said, but the argument around 9 p.m. Monday at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa led to a disturbance report. "It was minor. Both parties were angry but there were no signs of visible abuse," Massey said Tuesday. She said Ted Williams and his daughter "were brought in, calmed down, talked to and released" and she did not know the nature of the argument.

Pop singer Shakira and her boyfriend of almost 11 years, Antonio de la Rue, have split, the singer announced on her blog. "Since August 2010, we made a mutual decision to take time apart from our romantic relationship. Throughout this time we have continued to work together hand in hand, have remained close and have kept the details absolutely private until now," she wrote.

drew pinsky gets new tv showDr Drew gets a daytime TV talker - with a new daily, half-hour CW show. The program — slated to air next fall — will focus on people dealing with conflicts in their lives, including relationship and addiction issues. Pinsky and a panel of experts — ranging from celebrities to people in the medical field — will attempt to help the show's guests with their problems.

Justin Bieber (16) will return to CSI for an upcoming episode, CBS announced Tuesday. Bieber will reprise the role of Jason McCann, a troubled boy whose brother was killed in the Season 11 premiere. Jason returns when he calls Nick (George Eads)) to alert him that he's in imminent danger.

Conan O'Brien says he got a phone call from David Letterman over the holidays. The CBS host wanted to make sure a year of late-night TV turmoil hadn't created a rift between them. O'Brien told reporters Wednesday that he and Letterman have "always been good. I said he didn't owe me a phone call, but I appreciated it." O'Brien wouldn't be so receptive to a call from Jay Leno, who preceded and replaced him as "Tonight" show host. He says the reason is no mystery, noting, "We all know the story."

Passing - David Nelson, who starred on his parents' popular television show "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," has died, a family spokesman said. He was 74. Nelson, who was battling complications of colon cancer, died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, said family spokesman and longtime Hollywood publicist Dale Olson.

Actor Peter Fonda was part of a real-life mystery on Hollywood's famed Sunset Boulevard on Wednesday. The Oscar-nominated actor (brother to Jane and son of the late Henry Fonda), 70, discovered a dead body inside a car parked on the famed street. Fonda found the deceased driver slumped over in the front seat and called 911.

Ted Williams, the 53-year-old former homeless man with the golden voice, is heading to rehab after having a one-on-one with Dr. Phil, the psychologist said in a statement. "If Ted is ever going to get better, he's got to be honest with himself and admit he's addicted to drugs and alcohol," the statement said. Williams taped segments with his family members that will air Wednesday and Thursday. During the discussion, he admitted to drinking — an addiction he suffered in the past. The Brooklyn native began drinking and using drugs in 1996 and as a result, he lost his radio job and his home. Earlier this week, he said he's been sober for two years.

King's Speech" Golden Globe nominee Colin Firth now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The British actor unveiled his sidewalk shrine Thursday in front of the Pig 'N Whistle pub on Hollywood Boulevard. It's the 2,429th star dedicated on the avenue of dreams.

mark harmon news  january 2011Mark Harmon is America's favorite TV star, according to a recent Harris Poll. Years after he played on St. Elsewhere and Chicago Hope, the 59-year-old NCIS star jumped seven spots from last year to beat out the reigning No. 1, Oprah Winfrey (who now ties at No. 2 with House’s Hugh Laurie).Of the 2,331 adults polled, more men said Harmon is their favorite, while women said Winfrey.

Paris Hilton’s life will be on display in a new Oxygen TV reality TV series. The cable channel said Thursday that "The World According to Paris" will debut this spring. An Oxygen executive described the series as "for real," detailing the "highs" of the socialite turning 30 and her relationships.

Passing - John Dye, best known as the angel of death Andrew on “Touched By An Angel,” has died. He was 47. star Jesse Eisenberg will host the final Saturday Night Live of January, NBC announced Friday.

Music Passing - Trish Keenan, the lead singer of the British electronic pop music group Broadcast, has died, according to her record label. She was 42. She died from complications with pneumonia after battling the illness for two weeks in intensive care.

gwen stefani l'oreal face   january 2011Following in the footsteps of Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, Gwen Stefani has announced that she will be the next face of cosmetics giant L'Oreal Paris. "I can't believe I get to be one of the L'Oreal Paris girls," said the singer. "I love playing dress up, on stage or shooting videos, it's always been one of my favorite parts of being in a band. And to get to work with such a modern, talented group of people is really exciting."

Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network),who's nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, will host the Jan. 29 episode. He will be joined by musical guest Nicki Minaj.


Top Music Albums - January 8, 2011 -

Speak Now – Taylor Swift

Tron: Legacy Soundtrack

Pink Friday – Nicki Minaj

Doo-Wops & Hooligans – Bruno Mars

Loud – Rihanna

Recovery – Eminem

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Father – Kanye West

Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons

jason aldean music   january 2011My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean

Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

Country Strong Soundtrack

A Merry Little Christmas – Lady Antebellum

Love Letter – R. Kelly

The Beginning – The Black Eyed Peas

Brothers – The Black Keys

Born Free – Kid Rock

Need You Know – Lady Antebellum

Best Night Of My Life – Jamie Foxx

No Mercy – T.J.

Greatest Hits So Far!!! – P!nk

Glee, The Music: Season Two

Calling All Hearts – Keyshia Cole

Michael – Michael Jackson

No Boys Allowed – Keri Hilson

I Am Not A Human Being – Lil Wayne

Lungs – Florence + The Machine

Top Movies January 8, 2011 -

True Grit

Little Fockers

Season of the Witch (1st week $10.6 million)

TRON: Legacy

Black Swan

Country Strong

The Fighter

Yogi Bear

The King’s Speech

Tangled

The Chronicles of Narmia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Gulliver’s Travels

Top TV Ratings - January 8, 2011

1.

NFL Playoff Game 2: Jets at Indianapolis

NBC

2.

NFL Playoff Bridge (between Games 1 and 2)

NBC

3.

NFL Playoff Prekick (Game 2)

NBC

4.

NFL Wildcard Post-Game (Sunday)

FOX

5.

Two and a Half Men

CBS

6.

The Mentalist

CBS

7.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CBS

8.

The Big Bang Theory

CBS

9.

Desperate Housewives

ABC

10.

The Simpsons

FOX

11.

Mike & Molly

CBS

12.

CSI: Miami

CBS

13.

Modern Family

ABC

14.

Undercover Boss

CBS

15.

Wipeout

ABC

16.

Grey's Anatomy

ABC

17.

Hawaii Five-O

CBS

18.

(Bleep) My Dad Says

CBS

19.

Law & Order: SVU

NBC

20.

60 Minutes

.
 
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