Dateline: Week Of February 8, 2012 In News, Pop Culture, Tech News & Fascinating Facts
In The News -
15-year-old Alyssa Bustamante - Missouri teenager sentenced to life in prison with possible parole for killing 9-year-old girl.
BP said it had sanctioned a major new project in the Gulf of Mexico, the latest sign the British oil group is getting back to business in the area after its 2010 oil spill. Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Tuesday BP and Chevron and BHP, its partners in the project, had recently approved the decision to proceed with the investment."We have just sanctioned with our partners Chevron and BHP. We have not made a full announcement yet, one of the largest new free-standing developments in the Gulf of Mexico," Dudley said told reporters.
Greece has reached a tentative agreement on new austerity cuts demanded by creditors to release a euro130 billion ($173 billion) bailout, hours before a crucial meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' office said Thursday. A spokeswoman said the agreement with the majority Socialists and the conservatives will allow alternative cuts to those rejected early Thursday during a marathon meeting of the three coalition party leaders. No details were available on what alternative measures would be chosen.
PepsiCo is trying to put some fizz back into its business. The food and drinks maker announced a restructuring on Thursday that includes cutting 8,700 jobs globally and plowing money into advertising drinks like Pepsi and Mountain Dew in North America. Pepsi announced its cost-cutting plan Thursday as it reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, but also forecast a decline in adjusted 2012 earnings. On the mixed news, the company's shares fell nearly 4 percent.
The U.S. Postal Service reported a net loss of $3.3 billion in its first quarter as plummeting mail volumes overshadowed stronger than expected holiday shipping, the cash-strapped agency said on Thursday. The mail carrier has watched its traditional business erode as increasing use of email and online bill-paying drain mail volumes. The Postal Service lost $5.1 billion last year. In the first quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended on December 31, total mail volume dropped 6 percent. The Postal Service said declines in first-class and standard mail revenue outweighed a boost to the package business from growth in online shopping.
Mortgage Settlement - A $26 billion settlement was announced Thursday morning between the federal government, state attorneys general and the five biggest banks in the mortgage market: Ally Financial (the old GMAC), Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Citigroup. (Editor's note: An earlier version incorrectly identified Ally Financial as being the old GE Capital.) The settlement is being hailed as the biggest multi-state settlement since the 1998 tobacco agreement. But as Henry and I note in the accompanying video, the settlement is too small to really help the housing market, or even do much for individual victims of fraud and abuse. The deal may, in fact, hurt housing by sending a message to people who've stayed current on their mortgages that irresponsible behavior is what gets rewarded in America. That, presumably, is not the intention of policymakers but the "moral hazard" fallout from the settlement. More Americans may "walk away" from uneconomic loans, which will put additional pressure on local housing markets.
Regulators on Thursday approved plans to build the first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years, despite objections of the panel's chairman who cited safety concerns stemming from Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 to allow Atlanta-based Southern Co to build and operate two new nuclear power reactors at its existing Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. The units will cost Southern and partners about $14 billion and enter service as soon as 2016 and 2017.
Amid a backlash from many Catholics and proponents of religious liberty, President Barack Obama announced Friday that his administration will not require religious institutions like hospitals and universities to provide free contraception to their employees in their health insurance. Speaking to reporters at the White House Friday, Obama offered a compromise that would allow women to obtain free contraception but would require them to obtain it directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control because of religious beliefs.
Snow drifts reaching up to rooftops kept tens of thousands of villagers prisoners in their own homes Saturday as the death toll from Europe's big freeze rose past 550.More heavy snow fell on the Balkans and in Italy, while the Danube river, already closed to shipping for hundreds of kilometres (miles) because of thick ice, froze over in Bulgaria for the first time in 27 years.
Atlanta police have arrested a suspect in the beating of a 20-year-old gay man that was captured on a widely viewed video. Police spokesman Carlos Campos said Saturday that officers have charged 18-year-old Christopher Cain with aggravated assault and robbery in the Feb. 4 attack outside a southwest Atlanta store. Police are still seeking two other suspects in the beating of Brandon White. Their names haven't been released. Federal authorities are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime. Gay slurs are heard in the video as White is beaten. White told reporters that he shouldn't have to fear for his life because he is gay.
Greek lawmakers looked set to endorse a new austerity deal on Sunday to secure an EU/IMF bailout and avoid national bankruptcy, defying public rage and protesters who fought pitched battles with riot police outside parliament. Lawmakers came under immense pressure from both sides, with tens of thousands of demonstrators pouring into Syntagma Square before parliament, while the government warned that rejection would demand "unimaginably harsher" sacrifices by Greeks.
Arab ministers stepped up diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria on Sunday and Saudi Arabia advocated giving all forms of support to opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. At a Arab League meeting in Cairo, Tunisia said it would host the first meeting on February 24 of a "Friends of Syria" contact group made up of Arab and other states and backed by the West.
Iran has built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks, but the U.S. Navy can prevent it from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region said on Sunday. Iran has made a series of threats in recent weeks to disrupt shipping in the Gulf or strike U.S. forces in retaliation if its oil trade is shut down by sanctions, or if its disputed nuclear program comes under attack.
Gov. Chris Gregoire handed gay rights advocates a major victory Monday, signing into law a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh in the nation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. Gregoire signed the bill surrounded by gay rights supporters. "I'm proud our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal," she said.
Taking a pass on reining in government growth, President Barack Obama unveiled a record $3.8 trillion election-year budget plan Monday, calling for stimulus-style spending on roads and schools and tax hikes on the wealthy to help pay the costs. The ideas landed with a thud on Capitol Hill.
An Iranian man carrying grenades blew off his own legs and wounded four civilians in Bangkok on Tuesday after an earlier blast shook his rented house, authorities said. Israel's defense minister accused Iran of being behind the violence. The blasts came a day after an Israeli diplomatic car was bombed in India — an attack Israel also blamed on Iran.
Fascinating Facts February 8, 2012 -
World’s Tallest Building Will Be In China - China is currently building the world's tallest skyscraper. The Shanghai Tower will stand 2,073 feet high, or 128 stories. To shuttle passengers to the sky, Mitsubishi has the contract to build 106 aerodynamic elevators unlike anything the world has ever seen.
The winning ticket in Saturday's $336.4 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a Stop & Shop supermarket in Newport, but no one has come forward yet to claim the prize, Rhode Island lottery officials said
Technology News February 8, 2012 -
Google launched a beta version of Chrome for Android smartphones and tablets Tuesday, delivering a mobile version of the popular desktop web browser after a very long wait. Indeed, both Android and Chrome launched more than three years ago, and users have demanded unification ever since. Why bemoan the long wait? Much like the company's other products and services, the new Chrome app hooks wonderfully into the Google universe, giving those immersed in desktop Google apps even more incentive to choose Android as their mobile OS. So, naturally, we would hope — nay, expect — that Chrome would be the default browser for the Android OS. But this hasn't been the case. Android users have been forced to use a generic, stock browser (unceremoniously named "Browser") that's inferior to not only Chrome, but also other browsers available in the Android Market. Dolphin, anyone?
Apple Getting Into The TV Business Soon - Best Buy wants to know if you'd pay $1,499 for a 42-inch, high-definition Apple TV which uses your iPad or iPhone as a remote control. The big-box gadget retailer sent a survey to some customers asking in fairly explicit detail about the long-rumored TV system -- under language that says "Apple finally reinvents what a TV can do." The survey,, calls the system a "concept." But it goes into explicit detail describing it. The question describes a 1080p LED flat-panel screen and access to Apple's iCloud service, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube and Flickr.Intriguingly, it also describes a built-in iSight camera and microphone for using Skype video calling. An Apple spokeswoman said the company has no comment about the survey and referred questions to Best Buy.
Pinterest – Hot Social Website - Pinterest is the breakout social network of 2012, but even technology addicts could be excused for missing its rise to success. The web-based "pinboard," which launched almost two years ago, barely got a mention on Silicon Valley news sites until six months ago, when early adopters suddenly realized that a site with millions of monthly users had sprung up almost unnoticed by the tech press. Interest grew a devoted base of users -- most of them female -- who enjoy "pinning" items they find around the Web. While clothing, home decor and recipes dominate the site, inspirational quotes and humor are also popular topics for users to add to their pinboards.
Kodak is exiting the digital camera business and it will instead license its brand name to other camera manufacturers, the company announced Thursday.Kodak will "phase out its dedicated capture devices business" -- which includes digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames -- in the first half of 2012. The company's consumer business will instead focus exclusively on photo printing, through retail and online services as well as desktop inkjet devices.
Sports News February 8, 2012 -
Passing - Freddie Solomon, the former Miami Dolphins and 49ers wide receiver who became known as "Fabulous Freddie" and committed himself to community service for decades, died Monday. He was 59. The 49ers announced the passing of Solomon, who lived in Florida and had battled cancer over the past year. He played on the first of the franchise's four Super Bowl championship teams in the 1980s during an 11-year NFL career.
Radio News –
Dial Global announced Tuesday that 23.1 million people tuned in to hear the radio broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI on February 5.
Entertainment News February 8, 2012 -
Michelle Obama and "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon turned the White House into a playground to promote the first lady's "Let's Move!" fitness campaign. Mrs. Obama and Fallon did pushups and twirled hula hoops. They competed at dodge ball and tug-of-war. And the first lady triumphed over the comedian in a climactic potato sack race. After a defeated Fallon said, "It doesn't matter if you won or lost," the first lady replied, "It matters."The segment was taped last month and aired early Wednesday on NBC's "Late Night" TV talk show program.
Lady Gaga Launches Social Site - Now, she's launching a site of her own. , now in invite-only beta testing, is the pop princess's effort at creating a network built around her fan base -- which she's dubbed the aforementioned "monsters."
An early look at the site suggests it will be designed a lot the fast-emerging mobile app that lets users "pin" locations and items that they like. Gaga's site also will emphasize sharing and creating photos and videos, as well as letting other users promote content from others that they like (something similar to sites like Reddit and Digg).
Rap music mogul Suge Knight has a date with a Las Vegas judge after he was arrested on a traffic warrant and misdemeanor drug charges. Officer Laura Meltzer says the 46-year-old former Death Row Records executive was stopped driving a black Bentley with California plates on Wednesday. Knight was accused of making an unsafe lane change and possession of less than one ounce (28 grams) of a controlled substance and released from jail without bail. He's due March 12 in Las Vegas Municipal Court.
Paul McCartney gets his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Passing - Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48. Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown. News of Houston's death came on the eve of music's biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to cast a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony. Houston's longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward. TMZ reports the songstress likely died from a combination of the drug Xanax and other prescription medication mixed with alcohol, citing family sources who were briefed by Los Angeles County Coroner officials.
took to Twitter last night to ask Nielsen viewers to watch her cable network OWN, drawing criticism from some followers and investigative scrutiny from the measurement company. "Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Nielsen box," she tweeted Sunday evening at the start "Oprah's Next Chapter" and the mega-rated Grammy telecast. She later added, "Commercial Grammy people..u can turn to OWN." That tweets caused a backlash on the social networking site, with readers accusing her of "begging for viewers" and being "desperate."
Oprah followed up with a flurry of defensive replies that were apparently in response to reader criticism: "The word 'please' is used as courtesy not a beg ... 'desperate' not ever a part of my vocab ... 'unethical' a little harsh don't u think? Seemed like it made sense to me. Sorry if u're offended."
Jennifer Hudson pays tribute to her idol, Whitney Houston, at Sunday's Grammy Awards.
54th Annual Grammy Award Winners:
Album of the Year: "21," Adele
Record of the Year: "Rolling in the Deep," Adele
Song of the Year: "Rolling in the Deep," Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth
New Artist: Bon Iver
Pop Solo Performance: "Someone Like You," Adele
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group: "Body and Soul," Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse
Pop Vocal Album: "21," Adele
Rock Song: "Walk," Foo Fighters
Rock Album: "Wasting Light," Foo Fighters
Rock Performance: "Walk," Foo Fighters
Hard Rock/Metal Performance: "White Limo," Foo Fighters
R&B Album: "F.A.M.E.," Chris Brown
R&B Song: "Fool For You," Cee Lo Green, Melanie Hallim & Jack Splash
R&B Performance: "Is This Love," Corrine Bailey Rae
Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: "Fool For You," Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona
Rap Album: "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," Kanye West
Rap Performance: "Otis," Jay-Z and Kanye West
Rap Song: "All of the Lights," Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West
Rap/Sung Collaboration: "All of the Lights," Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie
Dance Recording: "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," Skrillex
Country Solo Performance: "Mean," Taylor Swift
Country Album: "Own the Night," Lady Antebellum
Country Performance by a Duo or Group: "Barton Hollow," The Civil Wars
Country Song: "Mean," Taylor Swift
Top Music Albums February 8, 2012 -
Born ToDie – Lana Del Rey
Old Ideas- Leonard Cohen
Kidz Bop 21
2012 Grammy Nominees
Take Care – Drake
God, Love & Romance – Fred Hammond
Emotional Traffic – Tim McGraw
Talk That Talk – Rihanna
Sorry For Party Rocking – LMFAO
TM: 103: Hustlerz Ambition
My Life II – Mary J. Blige
El Camino – The Black Keys
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
Tailgates & Tanlines – Luke Bryan
Soul 2 – Seal
Here and Now – Nickelback
19 – Adele
Duets II – Tony Bennett
Making Mirrors – Gotye
Own the Night – Lady Antebellum
The Fresh Beat Band – Soundtrack
Celebration – Madonna
Bangarang – Skrillex
My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
Resolution – Lamb Of God
Top Video Games February 8, 2012 -
PS3/X360 – Final Fantasy XIII-2
X360/PS3 – SoulCalibur V
X360 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Wii – Just Dance 3
Wii – Zumba Fitness
PS3 – Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
X360 – Kincect Adventures!
Wii – Zumba Fitness 2
Top Movies February 8, 2012 -
The Vow (1st week $41.2 million)
Safe House (1st week $40.172 million)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D (1st week $27.3 million)
Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1st week $22.5 million)
The Woman inBlack
One For The Money
Top TV Shows/TV Guide - February 8, 2012 -
1.Super Bowl: N.Y. Giants vs. New EnglandNBC2.Super Bowl Post GameNBC3.The VoiceNBC4.American Idol" (Wednesday)FOX5.American Idol" (Thursday)FOX6.The Big Bang TheoryCBS7.Person of InterestCBS8.The MentalistCBS9.NCISCBS10.Blue BloodsCBS11.NCIS: Los AngelesCBS12.RobCBS13.CSI: NYCBS14.Two and a Half MenCBS15.Grey's AnatomyABC16.GleeFOX17.HouseFOX18.Super Bowl Great CommercialsCBS19.Mike & MollyCBS20.AlcatrazFOX