Week Of June 22, 2011.
Compiled By Gary West @ mrpopculture.com
In The News
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would again maintain its key interest rate near zero as the pace of the US economic recovery was more sluggish than expected. “The economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly than the committee expected,” the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee said after a two-day meeting.
President Barack Obama, in a widely anticipated speech tonight, announced a brisk drawdown of 33,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of next summer, and called more broadly for the U.S. to assume a more pragmatic approach to international interventions in order to focus on economic recovery and nation-building at home.”We are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home,” Obama said in the brief twelve minute speech from the White House East Room. “Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource — our people.”
A magnitude-6.7 earthquake rattled northeast Japan on Thursday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It was the same area of the Pacific where a massive magnitude 9 quake hit on March 11, triggering a deadly tsunami. At least 23,000 people were killed or left missing in those disasters, which destroyed hundreds of homes, offices and factories in northeastern Japan. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for Iwate Prefecture after the quake, but canceled it about an hour later.
Sirens wailed across Minot Wednesday as the swollen Souris River overtopped levees five hours ahead of a looming evacuation deadline, setting in motion what is expected to be the worst flooding to hit the North Dakota city in four decades. The warning was followed by an announcement saying, “All residents must evacuate, Zones 1 through 9,” prompting the last of nearly 11,000 Minot residents to leave their homes for a second time in a month.
The International Energy Agency will release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic government stockpiles held by industrialized consumer nations in a bid to push down oil prices, the 28-member group announced on Thursday. The announcement comes after OPEC failed to raise production at a meeting on June 8 and despite assurances from OPEC’s biggest producer Saudi Arabia that it would lift supplies unilaterally. “Greater tightness in the oil market threatens to undermine the fragile global economic recovery,” the IEA said.
The House refused to vote President Barack Obama the authority for U.S. military operations against Libya on Friday but stopped short of cutting off funds for the mission, a mixed message reminiscent of congressional unease on Vietnam and more recent wars.
In a repudiation of the commander in chief, the House voted overwhelmingly against a resolution that would have favored letting the mission continue for one year while barring U.S. ground forces, a resolution the president said he would welcome.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made same-sex marriages legal ( in New York on Friday(June24), a key victory for gay rights ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. New York will become the sixth and most populous U.S. state to allow gay marriage. State senators voted 33-29 on Friday evening to approve marriage equality legislation and Cuomo, a Democrat who had introduced the measure, signed it into law. “This vote today will send a message across the country. This is the way to go, the time to do it is now, and it is achievable; it’s no longer a dream or an aspiration. I think you’re going to see a rapid evolution,” Cuomo, who is in his first year of office, told a news conference. “We reached a new level of social justice,” he said.
An asteroid the size of a tour bus flies past Earth today (June 27) so closely it was beneath some of the planet’s satellites. The rock, named asteroid 2011 MD zoomed by just 7,500 miles (12,000 km) above the planet, making a sharp turn forced by Earth’s gravity before winging off into space again. The flyby will occur at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). There was no risk of an impact, NASA scientists said. The space rock, estimated to be between 29 to 98 feet (9 to 30 meters) wide, was too small to survive a plunge through our atmosphere anyway. An asteroid this size, if it were mostly stony, would break apart and burn up before hitting the surface. Iron-heavy space rocks are better at surviving the fiery entry, however.
Riot police fired tear gas at youths hurling rocks and petrol bombs near the Greek finance ministry Tuesday, trying to quell the anger unleashed during mass protests and a general strike as parliament debated new cost-cutting measures. The latest austerity measures must pass in two parliamentary votes Wednesday and Thursday if Greece is to receive another batch of bailout funds to see it beyond the middle of next month. If the votes don’t pass, Greece could become the first eurozone nation to default on its debts, sending shock waves through the global economy.
Greece’s parliament approved deeply unpopular austerity measures despite worsening street violence on Wednesday(June29), in a vote vital to secure international aid and prevent the euro zone’s first sovereign debt default. Lawmakers passed a five-year package of spending cuts, tax rises and state asset sales by a comfortable margin of 155 votes to 138 in a roll-call vote, handing a victory to embattled Prime Minister George Papandreou. “We must avoid the country’s collapse at all costs. Now is not the time to step back,” the Socialist premier told lawmakers just before the vote.
An appeals court on Wednesday upheld President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law that requires Americans to buy insurance as constitutional, a victory for the White House. The Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, said the “minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause” of the U.S. Constitution.
In a blunt challenge to Republicans in Congress, President Barack Obama insisted Wednesday that elimination of selected tax breaks for oil companies and the super-wealthy must be included in any deficit reduction plan.”You stay here. Let’s get it done,” he all-but-lectured lawmakers, holding open the possibility of keeping Congress in Washington unless there is significant progress by week’s end on a deal to cut deficits, raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit and avert a threatened financial crisis.
President Barack Obama on Thursday(June30) honored outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ four decades of service (, including the past 4 1/2 years in charge of the Pentagon, by surprising him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the highest honor a president can give a civilian. “I can think of no better way to express the gratitude of the nation to Bob Gates than with a very special recognition,” Obama said as he asked Gates to step forward to receive the award.
The Senate abandoned plans for a July 4 break as time dwindled for lawmakers to strike a compromise on avoiding a government default and reducing mammoth federal deficits. In a challenge to President Barack Obama, the chamber’s top Republican invited him to the Capitol to discuss the impasse with GOP lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced the scheduling change Thursday, a day after President Barack Obama prodded lawmakers to act swiftly to extend the government’s ability to borrow money. The Senate had been scheduled to take a week’s break but instead will meet beginning Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in the latest skirmish of a running feud between Dodger owner Frank McCourt and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. McCourt said he had lined up $150 million in debtor-in-possession financing so he could keep control of the team during bankruptcy proceedings. The decision to file bankruptcy was taken ”to protect the franchise financially and provide a path that will enable the club to consummate a media transaction and capitalize the team,” McCourt said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Tech News –
The hacker group LulzSec has alarmed police in Arizona this week after releasing sensitive information about officers. The group said they posted the information in response to Arizona’s controversial immigration law. “We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement,” the group said in a statement. “We are targeting AZDPS (Arizona Department of Public Safety) specifically because we are against SB 1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.”
Nine months after the launch of New Twitter, the social media company is letting users know that the old version of Twitter will be completely eliminated “very, very soon.” The old version of Twitter always asked users to switch to the new version of Twitter, but today the message was changed, and it’s more urgent. “You will automatically be upgraded to New Twitter very, very soon,” the top of old Twitter now reads. The color of the top bar has also been changed to yellow as an alert to users. We’re not sure what Twitter means by “very,very soon” — it could be days or even weeks until Twitter flips the switch (we’ve emailed the Twitter for comment). However, it’s clear that Twitter is finally ready to eliminate the old version of Twitter altogether and bring everybody into the new design.
The Supreme Court on Monday(June 27) refused to let California clamp down on the sale or rental of violent video games to children, saying governments lack authority to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” despite complaints that the popular and fast-changing technology allows the young to simulate acts of brutality. On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.
Three of Twitter’s key developers– Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Jason Goldman — are launching a new venture. “Our plan is to develop new projects and work on solving big problems aligned along a simple mission statement: The Obvious Corporation develops systems that help people work together to improve the world,” Stone wrote Tuesday in a blog post announcing their plans. The move is the latest musical-chairs shuffle at Twitter, which is undergoing as the five-year-old venture matures from a startup to a tech industry power player.
Google on Tuesday unveiled Google+, yet another attempt by the search giant to overcome its past miscues in the social networking space. More people visit Google’s network of websites than Facebook each month, but Facebook is killing the search company in categories that advertisers care most about: Time spent and pages viewed. Users spent 62% more time on Facebook than on Google last month, and viewed more than twice the number of pages on Facebook as they did on Google, according to comScore.
In the latest of a recent slew of antitrust complaints filed against Google, French search company 1plusV said Tuesday it would seek $423 million in damages from the American search giant. 1plusV, which makes a host of niche search engines for French speakers, said the sum it is seeking equals the amount of business it lost because of Google’s alleged anticompetitive business practices. This would be the largest such claim against Google in Europe. The French company claims Google blacklisted 30 of its search engines from its search results from 2007 to 2010. Though 1plusV said some have recently been “white-listed,” the company believes it suffered irreparable damage.
Google has launched a new, mysterious service called What Do You Love. It’s a simple search box box, similar to the one on Google’s homepage, but it returns results from over 20 different Google services, including Google Translate, Trends, YouTube, Maps, Groups etc. The results are presented in little boxes which can, in some cases, be expanded by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner; if you need even more results, you can always click the button in the upper right corner of the box and go directly to the chosen service.
MSNBC has suspended political analyst and Time magazine writer Mark Halperin indefinitely over a remark he made about President Obama Thursday morning. “Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” said MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines in a statement. “We apologize to the President, the White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air.” Appearing on “Morning Joe” this morning, Halperin, senior political analyst at Time and MSNBC and co-author of the 2008 election opus “Game Change,” sought to characterize the president’s demeanor at a press briefing the previous day. Are we on the seven-second delay?” Halperin asked. “We have it. We can use it. Go for it. Let’s see what happens,” co-anchor Joe Scarborough replied. “I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin replied, sending the hosts into a brief moment of panic. Halperin apologized later on in the show and issued his own mea culpa hours later via MSNBC.
Entertainment news –
U.S. Marshals arrested ( in Tempe, Arizona, after he failed to appear in court on fraud charges linked to his vitamin business. Earlier this month, Lapre, of Phoenix, was indicted by a federal grand jury, which charged that his business, Greatest Vitamin in the World, signed up 226,794 people and promised them money for selling vitamins and recruiting others to the business. In the end, prosecutors say, investors and customers spent nearly $51.8 million, but received just $6.4 million in commissions. Between 2004 and 2007, they say, Lapre himself took in at least $2.2 million from the business. The self-proclaimed infomercial king was charged with 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, promotional money laundering and transactional money laundering. He has acknowledged that he “did not have the perfect company,” but denied breaking the law.
Passing – Peter Falk, the stage and movie actor who became identified as the squinty, rumpled detective in “Columbo,” which spanned 30 years in prime-time television and established one of the most iconic characters in movie police work, has died. He was 83. Falk died Thursday in his Beverly Hills home, according to a statement released Friday by family friend Larry Larson.
Veteran US comedian Jerry Lewis has had to cancel a sell-out Sydney tour after collapsing from exhaustion as he prepared to take the stage, promoters said Saturday. The 85-year-old was due to perform before a packed house in western Sydney Friday night to raise money for muscular dystrophy but the event was called off at the last minute after he fell ill. Lewis has cancelled the remainder of his Sydney tour to rest and will return to the stage on Thursday for a Melbourne performance if his health permits.
Neal Patrick Harris The 38-year-old How I Met Your Mother star tweeted Saturday that he and partner David Birtka are planning to say “I do” now that gay marriage is legal in New York! “David and I did propose to each other, but over five years ago!” he explained. “We’ve been wearing engagement rings for ages, waiting for an available. date.”
BET Awards – Steve Harvey was recognized for his humanitarian work at the BET Awards. Patti Labelle also accepted a special honor at Sunday’s ceremony; Gladys Knight presented her with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The night’s leading nominee, , Chris Brown collected four awards in all. The 21-year-old singer won a pair of prizes early in the show and two fan-voted awards at the end of the ceremony. Brown was named best male R&B artist and won best collaboration for his song “Look At Me Now” with Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes.
Michael Jackson’s iconic red and black leather jacket from his “Thriller” video sold for $1.8 million in an online auction. Julien’s Auctions, which oversaw the bidding, announced that Milton Verret of Austin, Texas, bought the jacket and plans to display it in the city’s Dell Children’s Hospital.
Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio () is charged in Miami with refusing to comply with police officers after a traffic accident. According to an arrest report, Rubio’s BMW collided with another car Saturday near Miami’s Little Havana. When asked to get out of her car, Rubio allegedly refused, cursed at an officer and said she was nervous and that “all of you Miami cops are abusive.” The officer placed Rubio in handcuffs. The report states that Rubio screamed for help and threat ened to call her attorney. Police say Rubio eventually calmed down and apologized. She is charged with refusing to obey a lawful command, obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct.
The military-backed government of Myanmar has deported Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh, who stars as pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming movie, officials said Tuesday. The Malaysian actress arrived in the country’s main city, Yangon, on June 22 and was deported the same day because she was on a blacklist, a government official said. The official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the press, did not say why Yeoh was on the list. But Myanmar’s repressive government has routinely rejected visa requests of journalists and perceived critics for years.
Marries – America Ferrera and longtime boyfriend Ryan Piers Williams are married, her rep confirms.
Lindsay Lohan gets released from home detention on Wednesday(June29) after spending 35 days at her Los Angeles apartment for stealing a gold necklace, authorities said.A private company that handles monitoring equipment for home detention inmates removed the electronic ankle bracelet from the “Mean Girls” star on Wednesday morning, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department.Lohan was sentenced in May to 120 days in jail, but the 24 year-old actress qualified for a shorter period of house arrest under programs for nonviolent offenders and to reduce overcrowding in Los Angeles jails.
A man convicted of attempting to burglarize Paris Hilton’s home has been sentenced to two years in state prison. City News Service reported that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Kellogg also recommended during Wednesday’s hearing that Nathan Lee Parada undergo mental health counseling. A jury took less than an hour in April to convict the 32-year-old of felony attempted residential burglary for trying to break into Hilton’s house in August. The socialite testified during Parada’s trial about being awoken early Aug. 24 to the sound of Parada banging on Hilton’s window with a knife. Parada told a detective he planned to steal as much as he could carry and move to a deserted island.
Goodbye Glenn Beck – as he bid adieu to Fox News on Thursday, as the controversial host prepares to launch his own network. However, there were no tears from Beck, who instead promised his fans he would help fix the country and even poked fun at his own persona.”I’m the only host who is supposedly the most dangerous person in America because of my influence and the least influential person in America because my ratings are supposedly declining,” the 47-year-old said on his show. Nevertheless, Beck thanked Fox News chief Roger Ailes, the man who canceled him, during his farewell show Thursday(June30).
Music news –
Rhinestone Cowboy” singer Glen Campbell ( says he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and has recorded one last album as a farewell to his fans. Campbell, 75, had been suffering from short-term memory loss for years, but the terminal Alzheimer’s diagnosis only came six months ago, according to an interview published in People magazine on Wednesday. “I still love making music,” he was quoted as saying. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”
Top albums this week in 2011 –
Hell: The Sequel – Bad Meets Evil
21 – Adele
Dream With me – Jackie Evancho
Born this Way – Lady Gaga
My Kinda Party – Jason Alean
All Things Bright and Beautiful – Owl City
15 Minutes: Fame… Can You… Barry Maniloww
Pieces of Me – Ledisi
This Is Country Music – Brad Paisley
The Book of Mormon – Original Broadway Cast
Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
Set The World On Fire – Black Veil Brides
NOW That’s What I Call Country
Journey’s Greatest Hits
Speak Now – Taylor Swift
Codes and Keys – Death Cab For Cutie
Ukulele Songs – Eddie Vedder
Nothing But The Best – Frank Sinatra
Doo-Wops & Hooligans – Bruno Mars
All 6’s & 7’s – Tech N9ne
At the movies –
Cars 2 (1st week $68 million)
Bad Teacher (1st week $31 million)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
X-Men: First Class
The Hangover Part II
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Midnight in Paris
Kung Fu Panda 2
Top TV –
|1.||America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday)||NBC|
|2.||America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday)||NBC|
|4.||America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday) NBC||NBC|
|5.||The Voice Results Show||NBC|
|7.||NCIS: Los Angeles||CBS|
|9.||Copa Oro 2011 Soccer: U.S. vs. Mexico|
|11.||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||CBS|
|13.||The Big Bang Theory||CBS|
|16.||Copa Oro 2011 Soccer: Honduras vs. Mexico|
|17.||So You Think You Can Dance” (Thursday)||FOX|
|19.||So You Think You Can Dance” (Wednesday)||FOX|
|20.||America’s Got Talent” (Monday)||NBC|