This Week In News, Pop Culture, Trends, Tech, Hollywood, TV Guide & More.
The Week of March 15, 2011
Compiled By Gary West @ mrpopculture.com and www.mrpophistory.com
In The News –
Japan’s central bank pumped billions more into the financial system Tuesday to quell fears that the country’s banks could be overwhelmed by the impact of the massive earthquake and tsunami. Stocks slumped for a second day as a nuclear crisis escalated. Two cash injections totaling 8 trillion yen ($98 billion) came a day after the Bank of Japan fed a record 15 trillion yen ($184 billion) into money markets and eased monetary policy to support the economy in the aftermath of Friday’s 9.0 magnitude quake that has killed thousands. The injections have helped stabilize currency markets. But stock markets dived for a second day as investors unloaded assets amid escalating worries of a nuclear crisis.
Bahrain declared martial law on Tuesday as it struggles to quell an uprising by the island’s Shi’ite Muslim majority that has drawn in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbor Saudi Arabia. The three-month state of emergency will hand wholesale power to Bahrain’s security forces, which are dominated by the country’s Sunni Muslim elite, stoking sectarian tensions in one of the Gulf’s most politically volatile nations.
Europe is considering “stress testing” its nuclear power stations to check they can cope with crises, while its energy chief on Tuesday even raised the prospect of a nuclear-free future. The developments mark a dramatic turnaround for a continent that had been considering a partial nuclear revival until this week, when Japan’s nuclear accident highlighted how quickly events can run out of control — and not only after an earthquake.
Moammar Gadhafi’s forces struck the rebellion’s heartland with airstrikes, missiles and artillery on Tuesday, trying for the first time to take back a city that serves as a crucial gateway for the band of fighters who threatened his four-decade hold on power. Rebels rushed to the front and sent up two rickety airplanes to bomb government ships, as mosques broadcast pleas for help defending the city. The pro-Gadhafi forces surprised rebels with attacks on two sides of the city of Ajdabiya, and the opposition was outgunned.
Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami. In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan’s northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world’s third-largest economy.
Australia advised its citizens in Japan on Wednesday to consider leaving Tokyo and earthquake-affected areas, joining a growing number of governments and businesses telling their people it may be safer elsewhere.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a travel advice update that Australians with no need to be in the area should think about leaving but added that the decision had nothing to do with the threat of nuclear contamination from a damaged nuclear power plant.
Producer prices surged in February at their fastest pace in 1-1/2 years, pointing to a build-up in inflation pressures from soaring food and energy costs. In another reminder on Wednesday of the headwinds facing the economy, the Commerce Department said groundbreaking activity for new homes posted the biggest drop in 27 years with permits for future building reaching a record low. The reports came a day after the Federal Reserve said it expected the upward inflation pressure from commodities to prove transitory but that it was keeping a watchful eye.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it plans to remove about 500 unapproved prescription cough, cold, and allergy medicines from pharmacy shelves.These drugs have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness, and they may be riskier to take than approved over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that treat these same conditions, agency officials explained. “This action is necessary to protect consumers from the potential risks posed by unapproved drugs, because we don’t know what’s in them, whether they work properly or how they are made,” Deborah M. Autor, director of the agency’s Office of Compliance at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said during a morning news conference.
Newspaper advertising in the U.S. has sunk to a 25-year low as marketing budgets followed readers to the Internet, where advertising is far cheaper than what publishers have been able to command in print. Advertisers spent $25.8 billion on newspapers’ print and digital editions last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the Newspaper Association of America. That’s the lowest amount since 1985 when total newspaper advertising stood at $25.2 billion. After adjusting for inflation, newspaper advertising now stands at about the same level as nearly 50 years ago. In 1962, newspaper advertising totaled $3.7 billion, which translates to about $26 billion today.
Japan tried high-pressure water cannons, fire trucks and even helicopters that dropped batches of seawater in increasingly frantic attempts Thursday to cool an overheated nuclear complex as U.S. officials warned the situation was deteriorating. The top U.S. nuclear regulatory official gave a far bleaker assessment of the crisis than the Japanese, and the U.S. ambassador warned U.S. citizens within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on the northeast coast to leave the area or at least remain indoors.
U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high, rising above 78 years. The estimate of 78 years and 2 months is for a baby born in 2009, and comes from a preliminary report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2.4 million people died in the United States in 2009 — roughly 36,000 fewer deaths than the year before.
Deaths were down for a range of causes, from heart disease to homicide, so experts don’t believe there’s one simple explanation for the increase in life expectancy. Better medical treatment, vaccination campaigns and public health measures against smoking are believed to be having an impact.
Libya declared an immediate cease-fire Friday, trying to fend off international military intervention after the U.N. authorized a no-fly zone and “all necessary measures” to prevent the regime from striking its own people. A rebel spokesman said Moammar Gadhafi’s forces were still shelling two cities. The United States said a cease-fire announcement was insufficient, calling on the regime to pull back from eastern Libya, where the once-confident rebels this week found themselves facing an overpowering force using rockets, artillery, tanks, warplanes.
U.S. sales of Diet Coke overtook those of Pepsi-Cola for the first time in 2010, making the diet soda the No. 2 carbonated soft drink in the country behind Coca-Cola, industry data are expected to confirm Thursday. Occupying the top two rankings would mark a historic win for Coca-Cola) in its decades-old rivalry with PepsiCo Inc. which has seen its market share slip in recent years and is trying to retool its marketing. The two companies have fought over the past decade to win market share from one another as cola sales overall have dropped.
Moammar Gadhafi’s forces swept rebel fighters out of a key oil town and into the desert Sunday with searing waves of artillery fire and airstrikes, extending their rapid advance on the poorly equipped and loosely organized fighters. The United States, meanwhile, was sending its top diplomat to make contact with Gadhafi opponents in Paris, as it and other world powers considered trying to ground his air force with a no-fly zone that carries many of its own risks.
Anti-aircraft fire has erupted in the Libyan capital, with volleys of tracer fire arching into the air, marking the start of a second night of allied strikes on the country.
There is no immediate word on the targets in the new round of strikes. The heavy chatter of anti-aircraft defenses began soon after nightfall. The U.S. military says the first air assault by the U.S. and its allies the night before — including airstrikes by long-range bombers and a shower of Tomahawk cruise missiles — was successful, though it did not fully eliminate the threat from Libyan air defenses.
The largest full moon in more than 18 years – a so-called “supermoon” – did not disappoint eager skywatchers around the world Saturday when it rose, big and bright, into Earth’s night sky. The full moon of March was 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers) on Saturday, March 19 just 50 minutes after it hit its full phase, making it the biggest and brightest full moon since 1993. The “supermoon” phenomenon occurred because the moon was in its full phase and just 50 minutes past perigee – the point of its orbit that brings it closer to Earth.This year’s biggest full moon also gained notoriety after erroneous claims that it would spark waves of natural disasters around the world.
Leading Republican Sarah Palin toured Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Sunday as she began a two-day, private visit to Israel. She also planned on meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her first trip to the Jewish state to discuss key issues facing the U.S. ally. Palin, a 2008 vice presidential candidate, is a potential White House contender in 2012 and a leading light in the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement.
The nuclear crisis in Japan, while severe, appears to be stabilizing and does not warrant any immediate changes in U.S. nuclear plants, a top U.S. nuclear official said Monday. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s executive director for operations, Bill Borchardt, said officials have “a high degree of confidence” that operations at the 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states are safe. He said inspectors at each of the plants have redoubled efforts to guard against any safety breaches.
Buyers emerged on Monday in U.S. stocks, enticed by the biggest proposed merger of the year, though crises in Japan, the Middle East and North Africa meant market volatility would continue. The bulls have held the upper hand for three days, as the S&P 500 has put together its best three-day run since early December. Dow component AT&T (T.N) rose 1.1 percent after the company announced plans to buy Deutsche Telekom’s (DTEGn.DE) T-Mobile USA and refocused investor attention on attractive company valuations.
Golfer and notorious cheater Tiger Woods has taken another swing at dating, this time with 22-year-old Alyse Lahti Johnston.Woods, who was struck with heavy criticism last year after news broke of his numerous high profile extra-marital affairs, divorced Swedish model Elin Nordegren in August. In November 2009, Woods raised some eyebrows after he plowed his 2009 Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree at 2:30 a.m., leading many to speculate he’d gotten into an argument with then-wife Nordegren about his unfaithful behavior.
They come not just for the balmy weather or the Tex-Mex food but for South by Southwest, a collection of conferences and festivals that’s considered one of the most influential happenings on the annual cultural calendar. Abbreviated as SXSW — and nicknamed “South by” by festival veterans — the 24-year-old conference kicks off Friday and runs through March 20. The three-headed event encompasses separate festivals for film, music and interactive technology and has helped launch everything from Twitter to Broken Social Scene.
It’s where hipster culture meets geek culture, and where internet entrepreneurs are treated like rock stars SXSW first kicked off in 1987 as the place where relatively unknown bands played gigs with hopes of attracting the attention of critics, talent scouts or big-time musicians seeking an opening act for their tours. Conference organizers integrated film and technology segments in 1994 as a “multimedia” event, and a year later, the separate South by Southwest Interactive was formed.
Nintendo 3DS, a glasses-free 3-D handheld video game system, arrives March 27 for $249.99. Nintendo hopes it will make the strongest case yet for 3-D special effects affordability and relevance.
But calling it a gaming console may be the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public. Gaming, it turns out, might be among the least of the system’s capabilities. The device will also deliver an array of other fully-connected entertainment experiences, according to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime at the 2011 Game Developers Conference. From 3-D movies to TV shows, digital music to augmented reality applications, the company is clearly assigning tremendous importance to non-gaming applications.
Though they won’t say it directly, Nintendo clearly plans to make the system a Trojan horse for the larger world of 3-D multimedia. This should scare the competition.
Recently, Google announced that the Android version of its Google Maps app now automatically routes users around traffic when providing directions. According to the Google Blog, Google Maps navigation previously “would choose whichever route was fastest, without taking current traffic conditions into account. It would also generate additional alternate directions, such as the shortest route or one that uses highways instead of side roads. “[Now], our routing algorithms will also apply our knowledge of current and historical traffic to select the fastest route from those alternates. That means that navigation will automatically guide you along the best route given the current traffic conditions.”
Atlanta Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar has lost an eye after he was struck in the face by a line drive while watching a spring training game. Braves general manager Frank Wren said Wednesday that doctors were unable to save Salazar’s left eye after the accident March 9. The former major league player is otherwise recovering from his injuries and expects to manage Lynchburg of the Class A Carolina League this season. The 54-year-old Salazar was standing against the railing on the top step of the dugout during a game between the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals when Brian McCann fouled a ball in his direction. Salazar was unable to get out of the way.
Entertainment news –
Comic Gilbert Gottfried will no longer be the voice of the Aflac duck — effective immediately. The insurance company fired Gottfried, 56, on Monday after he made a slew of jokes via Twitter about the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Ashton Kutcher, president of pop culture for the popchips snack food company, launched a search back in February for a vice president of pop culture. The gig sounded pretty good: For a salary of $50,000, the VP’s duties included working with popchips and Kutcher to create digital content, take part in popchips’ social media channels and serve as popchips’ on-location reporter at three culture events. And the winner has just been announced: It’s Diane Mizota. One of her biggest claims to fame is that she appeared in Austin Powers in Goldmember, along with Carrie Ann Inaba. She also is host of the GSN series Bingo.
Teen sensation Justin Bieber is immortalized in wax at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London and New York. So, what does Justin think of his new wax figure? Plus, which stars’ wax figure would he like his wax figure to be next to?
Mel Gibson was booked and released at El Segundo Police Department on Wednesday night as part of his sentence for the misdemeanor battery case resulting from an alleged January 2010 incident with his then-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, Access Hollywood has confirmed.
Charlie Sheen’s “Torpedo of Truth” live tour will explode onto 12 more stages across the United States and into Canada, as reports surfaced on Thursday of sold-out shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. “Fastballs keep coming. 12 more shows on sale Sat.,” Sheen tweeted. The new shows for the tour, dubbed “Charlie Sheen’s Violent Torpedo of Truth Defeat Is Not an Option,” are also listed on sales website
Billy Ray Cyrus revealed he has withdrawn his request to divorce his wife, Tish. “I’ve dropped the divorce,” Billy Ray said on the show, which taped on Thursday. “I wanted to put my family back together.”
Jennifer Lopez’ new song, “Invading My Mind,” has invaded the Internet.
The American Idol judge’s new track has leaked online The song, from her upcoming Island Def Jam album “Love?,” follows “On the Floor,” which features Pitbull. “Invading My Mind” is all about Lopez, though, and is a high energy, super-dance-y track.
Wyclef Jean has been released from the hospital after being treated for a gunshot wound to his hand. Jean, 41, was shot in the hand after 11 p.m. Saturday in Delmas — a city just outside Port-au-Prince — according to Joe Mignon, the senior program director for Jean’s Yele Foundation. He offered no further details.
Music news –
Passing – Rapper and music producer Nate Dogg, a prominent figure in the world of hip-hop, has died at the age of 41, the Hollywood Reporter wrote Wednesday without giving a cause of death. Best known for his 1994 hit “Regulate,” Nate Dogg — a longtime friend and collaborator of rap legends Snoop Dogg and the late Tupac Shakur — died late Tuesday, the trade newspaper wrote. It quoted a tweet from Snoop Dogg lamenting the death of his friend. “We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb. One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986,” the rap megastar wrote on this Twitter microblog posting.
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Howard Stern shares details about the end of his 21-year marriage to first wife Alison. “My marriage ending blew my mind,” the Sirius radio star, 57, revealed. “I was upset that I failed and let down my family, my kids, my ex-wife. It was all very painful.”While no topic was off-limits for guests on his radio show, Stern admits he kept his own personal problems buried. But feeling like a “detached robot,” he started going to therapy. “I was totally neurotic…I knew things weren’t right, and I said, ‘Gee, where am I going to get some answers?’ I had never been a guy to turn to religion but then as my marriage was coming to an end, I needed help to explain it to my children and make sense of it all…Because once you are a divorced guy, being a father is a whole different thing.”
Passing – Country music pioneer Ferlin Husky has died at age 85. He sold more than 20 million records, mostly in the ’50s and early ’60s, with hits including “Wings of a Dove” and “gone.” (March 17)
Passing – British musician Jet Harris, who played bass guitar in Cliff Richard’s band The Shadows, has died aged 71, British media reported on Friday. Terence Harris, nicknamed “Jet” because he was one of the fastest runners in his school, was introduced to Richard in 1958, and his website credits him with coming up with the name The Shadows.”Jet was exactly what the Shadows and I needed — a backbone holding our sound together,” Richard said in a statement. “Jet, the bass player, will always be an integral part of British rock’n'roll history. Losing him is sad — but the great memories will stay with me. Rock on, Jet.” With The Shadows, Harris enjoyed a string of hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s including “High Class Baby,” the chart-topping “Apache” and “Guitar Tango.” His last recording with the band was “Wonderful Land” in 1962, which also made it to number one in the British charts. After leaving the group, Harris teamed up with former Shadows bandmate Tony Meehan and again reached number one with “Diamonds” in 1963.
Bryan Adams is now enshrined in concrete. The Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist and producer got his Hollywood Walk of Fame star Monday in front of the Musicians Institute. His hits included “Cut Like a Knife,” “Summer of ’69,” “Run to You,” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.”
Hot hits this week –
F**k You (Forget You) – Cee Lo Green
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
E.T. – Katy Perry fea. Kanye West
On The Floor – Jennifer Lopez fea. Pitbull
Grenade – Bruno Mars
Till the World Ends – Britney Spears
Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) – Enrique Iglesias fea. Lidacris & DJ Frank E
Blow – Ke$ha
Look At Me Now –
Chris Brown fea. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes
Coming Home – Diddy – Dirty Money fea. Skylar Grey
Firework – Katy Perry
Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor) – Pitbull
Moment 4 Life – Nicki Minaj fea. Drake
I Need A Doctor – Dr. Dre fea. Eminem & Skylar Grey
Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri
What The Hell – Avril Lavigne
More – Usher
Just Can’t Get Enough – The Black Eyed Peas
6 Foot 7 Foot – Lil Wayne fea. Cory Gunz
Landslide – Glee Cast fea. Gwyneth paltrow
Pretty Girl Rock- Keri Hilson
Rollin In The Deep – Adele
At the movies this week
Limitless (1st week $19 million)
Battle: Los Angeles
The Lincoln Lawyer (1st $13.4 million)
Paul – (1st week $13.1 million)
Red Riding Hood
The Adjustment Bureau
Mars Needs Moms
Gnomeo & Juliet
Hip Thursday night TV (TV Squad)
Discovery: ‘Out of the Wild: Venezuela’
IFC: ‘The Grid’
FOX: ‘American Idol’
ESPN: ‘Winter X Games: Europe’
Nicktoons: ‘Dragon Ball Z Kai’
NBC: ‘Perfect Couples’
ABC: ‘Private Practice’
Discovery: ‘Man vs. Wild’
Bravo: ‘Kathy Griffin: 50 & Not Pregnant’
HGTV: ‘Selling New York’
Spike: ‘TNA Wrestling’
NBC: ‘Parks and Recreation’
NBC: ’30 Rock’
USA: ‘Fairly Legal’
MTV: ‘Jersey Shore’
Food Network: ‘Ice Brigade’
HGTV: ‘House Hunters’
A&E: ‘Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force’ (two episodes)
HGTV: ‘House Hunters International’
Cartoon Network: ‘Eagleheart’
Late-Night Talk Shows
PBS: ‘Charlie Rose’: Jonathan Schell on the future of nuclear power
TBS: ‘Conan’: Larry King, Shaun White, and Iron & Wine (repeat)
Comedy Central: ‘The Daily Show’: Howard Stern (repeat)
E!: ‘Chelsea Lately’: Rihanna (repeat)
BET: ‘The Mo’Nique Show’: Tisha Campbell-Martin, Keith David and Lloyd
Comedy Central: ‘The Colbert Report’: Dan Sinker (repeat)
ABC: ‘Nightline’: TBA
CBS: ‘The Late Show With David Letterman’: Tim McGraw, Shaq and Keri Hilson (repeat)
NBC: ‘The Tonight Show’: Rainn Wilson and Serj Tankian
ABC: ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live: Matthew McConaughey, Jena Malone and Young Dubliners
PBS: ‘Tavis Smiley’: Clive Davis and Lawrence Goldstone
TBS: ‘Lopez Tonight’: Cameron Diaz, Jason Priestley, Luke Perry and Greg Fitzsimmons (repeat)
CBS: ‘The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson’: Mila Kunis and Geechy Guy (repeat)
NBC: ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’: Howard Stern, Penn & Teller, and Leon Russell
NBC: ‘Last Call With Carson Daly’: Gale Ann Hurd, Mia Morett and Caitlin Moe
Top TV –
|1.||American Idol” (Wednesday)||FOX|
|2.||American Idol” (Thursday)||FOX|
|4.||NCIS: Los Angeles||CBS|
|5.||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||CBS|
|7.||The Big Bang Theory||CBS|
|14.||Survivor: Redemption Island||CBS|
|18.||Two and a Half Men||CBS|