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Dateline: Week Of February 1, 2012 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts

In the News -

Republican Primary – Mitt Romney Wins Florida. And, after his resounding 15-point victory in Florida, Mitt Romney has taken a giant leap toward securing the Republican presidential nomination. The nomination is now Romney's to lose as he heads into February and some very friendly turf in upcoming contests in Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, and his native Michigan.

A classified US Military report leaked to the media compiles interviews with Taliban detainees who say their group is primed to regain control of Afghanistan after NATO forces leave in 2014. NATO officials have emphasized that the report does not represent the military’s analysis, only the views of Taliban prisoners still loyal to the movement.

Groundhog Day - Nearly five thousand revelers hoping for an early spring were disappointed today after Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. But those winter jackets may be able to go in the closet sooner than the forecasting groundhog has to say.

New claims for unemployment benefits in the United States fell more than expected last week, pointing to more healing in the nation's battered jobs market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

President Obama touted January's jobs gains as a signal of economy recovery and warned Congress not to "muck it up" in a speech at Fire Station No. 5 in Arlington, Virginia. Obama said he had a message for Congress--pass the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extension without "drama" or delay. "Do not slow down the recovery we're on now. Don't muck it up," he said. For the first time in nearly a year, Obama had good economic news to tout in his speech. The economy added 243,000 jobs in January--the most jobs added since last April--and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, according to the jobs report released Friday morning. The unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in three years.

leon panetta facts dateline february 2012U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday the key to stopping Iran from getting a nuclear bomb is keeping global support for tough economic sanctions. Speaking to US airmen in Germany, Panetta reiterated that if Iran does not change course, the US is "prepared to respond if we have to."

McDonald's has announced that it will be discontinuing the use of the controversial meat product known as boneless lean beef trimmings in its burgers. The product was recently brought to the attention of the public by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who derisively referred to it as "pink slime" on an episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Following a massive public backlash over its decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker apologized to the family planning organization on Friday and said Komen will preserve its eligibility for future grants.

A 49-year-old brigadier general died Friday in Afghanistan of apparent natural causes, the U.S. Army said, and he is among the highest-ranking service members to die there.Fort Hood announced Brig. Gen. Terence Hildner's death Saturday in a statement posted on its website. Hildner had commanded the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command at Fort Hood since August 2010. He left for Afghanistan in December to support the NATO mission there.

Mitt Romney won Nevada's Republican caucuses on Saturday night, grabbing the largest chunk of the state's 28 delegates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and racking up his second consecutive victory, after winning Florida in the same week. Speaking at his victory party at the Red Rocks Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Romney did not mention any of his Republican opponents by name, keeping his remarks focused on President Barack Obama. Romney repeated his vow to repeal the federal health care law, increase job growth and increase military spending.

Bitterly cold weather sweeping across Europe claimed more victims Sunday, brought widespread disruption to transport services, and left thousands without power with warnings that low temperatures would continue into next week. Hundreds have lost their lives in eastern Europe as freezing weather sweeps across the continent westwards, while major airports warned that services would be delayed or cancelled. Steven Keates, a weather forecaster at Britain's Met Office, said the severe wintry conditions were expected to last, and spread to other areas.

Greece's prime minister scrambled Sunday to convince lenders and politicians to sign off on a 130 billion euro rescue, after his finance minister said just hours remained to clinch a deal to avoid a messy default. A technocrat appointed in November, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is fighting to prevent cash-strapped Greece from sinking into a chaotic default when big bond redemptions come due next month.

The United States has whisked its remaining diplomats out of Syria and suspended operations at its embassy in Damascus as violence there continues to increase, U.S. officials told ABC News. The skeletal staff, including Ambassador Robert Ford, departed quietly despite in some cases being denied exit visas by Syrian authorities, the officials said. "The recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on Dec. 23 and Jan. 6, has raised serious concerns that our Embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said today. "We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian government but the regime failed to respond adequately."

As investigators pore over the gutted Washington state home of Josh Powell for evidence explaining how and why he murdered his two sons and killed himself in a gas explosion, ABC News has exclusively obtained what is believed to be his final words to his loved ones.Powell left a voicemail for his family just 20 minutes before attacking his two young boys Braden, 5, and Charles, 7, with a hatchet and igniting a gas leak that blew up his house on Sunday afternoon."I am not able to live without my sons, and I'm not able to go on anymore. I'm sorry to everyone I've hurt. Goodbye," the voicemail message said.Many are now looking at the tumultuous relationship that Josh Powell had with his father Steven Powell, whose September arrest led to charges of 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of child pornography.

Los Angeles School In The Spotlite - The entire staff at a Los Angeles elementary school is being removed while authorities investigate horrific allegations of sexual abuse by two of the school's teachers, one of whom is accused of blindfolding children, taping their mouths and photographing them in a classroom. The decision follows the arrest of two longtime Miramonte teachers: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer. Berndt, 61, was charged last week with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. The acts cited by authorities include blindfolding children and feeding them his semen in his classroom, in what children were allegedly told was a tasting game. Springer, 49, was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. He was being held on $2 million bail.

The 9th Circuit Court in California struck down as unconstitutional the state's voter-passed ban on gay marriage Tuesday, ruling 2-1 that it violates the rights of gay Californians."Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the decision. The Court concludes that the law violates the 14th Amendment rights of gay couples to equal protection under the law. Gay marriage will still not be allowed in the state, leaving time for Prop 8 defenders to challenge the decision.

Passing - Florence Green never saw the front line. Her war was spent serving food, not dodging bullets. But Green, who has died aged 110, was the last known surviving veteran of World War I. She was serving with the Women's Royal Air Force as a waitress at an air base in eastern England when the guns fell silent on Nov. 11, 1918.

Sports News February 1, 2012 -

SuperBowl 46 – New York Giants 21… New England Patriots – 17.

Technology News - February 1, 2012 -

At long last, the Holy Grail of Internet IPOs is here. Facebook filed Wednesday to raise $5 billion in an initial public offering. In 2011, Facebook earned $1 billion on sales of $3.7 billion. As of December 31, Facebook had 845 million monthly active users.

A small experimental plane piloted by the chief executive and chairman of Micron Technology Inc. crashed after take-off Friday at the Boise airport, killing the head of the memory chip company. Steve Appleton, a stunt pilot who survived a similar crash in 2004, was 51.

Entertainment News - February 1, 2012 -

Passing – Don Cornelious – best known as host of the long-running “Soul Train” music show. Los Angeles police say Cornelious, 75, shot himself in an apparent suicide.

madonna superbowl performance february 2012Pop superstar Madonna said it was a dream come true to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday and conceded she was feeling pressure at the idea of singing in front of the huge live television audience. Last year's Super Bowl attracted 111 million U.S. viewers - the largest for a single TV broadcast in the United States. "This is a Midwesterner girl's dream to be performing at the Super Bowl halftime show," saidMadonna, who was born in Bay City, Michigan. "In over 25 years of performing that I've done, I have never worked so hard or been so scrupulous or detail-oriented or freaked out as much as I have ... trying to make the most major show at this Super Bowl," she added.

Oops – Rap artist M.I.A. flips the SuperBowl TV audience the bird – while performing with Madonna during the Halftime show! Madonna/M.I.A. Super Bowl halftime controversy--per that already famous middle finger that M.I.A. offered tens of millions of viewers before the censors could get to it?

The revival of CBS' legendary program Person to Person special will feature George Clooney, Jon Bon Jovi and Warren Buffett.Longtime newsman Edward R. Murrow launched Person to Personin 1953 as a way to let viewers into the homes of celebrities like John and Jackie Kennedy, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart andElizabeth Taylor. In December, the network announced their plans to bring back a modern version of the program.The new special, airing Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 8/7c, will explore the Los Angeles home of recent Oscar nominee Clooney, the riverfront New Jersey estate of Jovi and the Omaha office of business leader Buffett. CBS' Charlie Rose and Lara Logan will host the program.

simon cowell facts history february 2012Simon Cowell wants Beyonce to be a full-time judge on The X-Factor -- and he's offering her an annual salary of $100 million to do it, according to reports online.It would the highest TV salary ever, and, indeed, an ideal job for Beyonce, 30, who gave birth daughter Blue Ivy, her first child with husband Jay-Z, last month; the X-Factor stint could theoretically allow the Grammy winning singer a way to stay in the public eye during her baby's first years without having to tour worldwide.

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb said on Friday he had made a "spectacular" recovery from a serious illness, which was widely reported to be cancer. The 62-year-old, most famous as a founding member of the disco-era hit machine the Bee Gees, told BBC Radio 2: "Well, it's all simple. I was diagnosed with a growth in my colon. It was removed. And I've been treated for that by a brilliant doctor, and in their own words 'the results have been spectacular'."

Passing - Manhattan-born theater and movie character actor Ben Gazzara died Friday night in New York. He was 81. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Gazzara, a respected theater actor who studied under Lee Strasburg at the Actors Studio, is best known for minor movie roles he played as tough guys, pornographers and degenerates in the 1980s and 90s.

Top Pop Hits - February 1, 2012 -

Stronger – Kelly Clarkson

Set Fire To The Rain- Adele

Good Feeling – Flo Rida

We FoundLove – Rihanna fea. Calvin Harris

It Will Rain – Bruno Mars

Turn Me On – David Guetta fea. Nicki Minaj

Sexy And I Know It – LMFAO

Domino – Jessie J

The One That Got Away – Katy Perry

Rack City – Tyga

N**as in Paris – Jay Z Kanye West

snoop dogg music february 2012 mrpopcultureYoung, Wild & Free – Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa fea. Bruno Mars

International Love – Pitbull fea. Chris Brown

Dance (A$$) – Big Sean fea. Nicki Minaj

The Motto – Drake fea. Lil Wayne

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 fea. Christina Aguilera

Work Out – J. Cole

Not Over You – Gavin DeGraw

Ass Back Home – Gym Class Heroes fea. Neon Hitch

Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO fea. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock

Someone Like You – Adele

Without You – David Guetta Fea Usher

Love You Like A Song – Selena Gomez & The Scene

Top Movies February 1, 2012 -

Chronicle (1st week $22 million)

The Woman in Black ($21 million)

The Grey

Big Miracle

Underwold: Awakening

One For The Money

Red Tails

The Descendants

Man on a Ledge

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


SuperBowl TV Ratings - February 2012 -

Sunday's NFL championship set another TV ratings record, the latest evidence that the Super Bowl has become the equivalent of a nationwide secular holiday, with all the attendant hoopla and partisan bickering one might expect. An average of 111.3 million total viewers tuned in to NBC's coverage, according to figures from Nielsen, watching the underdog New York Giants hold off the New England Patriots21-17 in a seesaw match that went down to the final moments. Statistically, the viewership was flat with last year's game on Fox (111 million). But the less-than-1% increase was nevertheless enough for NBC to claim bragging rights for the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history. The network estimated that 177 million viewers — or more than 56% of the current U.S. population — watched at least six minutes of the game. That gave it a reach comparable with an entire cycle of the Olympics, spread over many days.

Top TV Shows/TV Guide February 1, 2012 -

1.American Idol" (Wednesday)FOX2.American Idol" (Thursday)FOX3.The Big Bang TheoryCBS4.CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationCBS5.Criminal MindsCBS6.Undercover BossCBS7.NCISCBS8.NFL Football: Pro BowlNBC9.TouchFOX10.RobCBS11.Pro Bowl Pregame ShowNBC12.60 MinutesCBS13.The Good WifeCBS14.Once Upon a TimeABC15.CSI: MiamiCBS16.Person of InterestCBS17.CastleABC18.Two and a Half MenCBS19.American Idol EncoreFOX20.The MentalistCBS

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