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Week of December 15 2009 in News and Pop Culture – Compiled by Gary West @ mrpopculture.com:
The government and the window covering industry on Tuesday recalled more than 50 million Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds because of the risk children may be strangled by the cords. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said five deaths and 16 near-strangulations from Roman shades have been reported since 2006, while three deaths connected to roll-up blinds have been reported since 2001. Roman shades can become dangerous, the CPSC said, if a child’s neck gets stuck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind, or if the cord gets wrapped around a child’s neck.
The Philippines’ most active volcano oozed lava and shot up plumes of ash Tuesday, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes and face the possibility of a bleak Christmas in a shelter. State volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 8,070-foot (2,460-meter) Mayon volcano overnight to two steps below a major eruption after ash explosions. Dark orange lava fragments glowed in the dark as they trickled down the mountain slope overnight. Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said the activity could get worse in coming days.
Australia plans to introduce an Internet filtering system to block obscene and crime-linked Web sites despite concerns it will curtail freedoms and won’t completely work. Adopting a mandatory screening system would make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among the world’s democracies. Authoritarian regimes commonly impose controls. China drew international criticism earlier this year with plans to install filtering software on all PCs sold in the country.
After months of turmoil, President Barack Obama is calling Senate Democrats to the White House to say it’s time to come together and pass legislation embracing a wholesale remodeling of America’s health care system. The meeting set for Tuesday afternoon comes a day after Senate Democratic leaders suggested they were ready to abandon the last vestiges of a government-run insurance program that liberals have long sought, in order to placate moderates and secure the 60 votes they need to overcome united GOP opposition.
Boeing Co.’s new 787 jetliner is finally taking to the skies, more than two years later than the company planned. Pilots Michael Carriker and Randall Neville lifted off from Everett’s Paine Field and headed northbound on a four-hour flight over Washington state to perform a variety of basic tests and systems checks before landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field. The 787 program has been plagued by ill-fitting parts and other problems. The first flight was supposed to be in 2007 with deliveries the following year, but Boeing has been forced to push that back five times.
Passing – Oral Roberts, a pioneer in televangelism who founded a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university that bears his name, dies. He was 91. Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, California, according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, because of his monumental influence on the world’s most important economy, has been named TIME magazine’s 2009 Person of the Year.
The Federal Trade Commission sued Intel Corp., looking to block tactics it says the world’s biggest chip maker has used to snuff out competition. The FTC said Intel, which makes the microprocessors that run personal computers, has shut rivals out of the marketplace. In the process, the FTC says Intel has deprived consumers of choice and stifled innovation in the chip industry.
After more than three centuries, the humble check could become a historic relic if British banks, as expected, vote to phase it out in favor of more modern payment methods. The board of the UK Payments Council, the body for setting payment strategy in Britain, was meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether to set a date of 2018 for winding up the check clearing system. The board is largely made up of Britain’s leading banks. The use of checks has fallen drastically in the past 10 years as more consumers transfer money electronically, by direct debit or with debit and credit cards. Last year, around 3.8 million checks were written every day in Britain, compared to a peak of 10.9 million in 1990.
The Commerce Department says construction of new homes and apartments rose 8.9 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units. The gain represented strength in all areas of the country although the increase was slightly lower than economists had expected.
A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near a mosque inside a police compound in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing 10 people in the latest attack by suspected Taliban militants waging war against the government.
Millions of East Coast commuters returned to work Monday over slick roads and icy sidewalks after a weekend winter storm dropped record snowfall, interrupted holiday shopping and stranded travelers. The storm crept up the coast on Saturday and Sunday, walloping states from the mid-Atlantic to New England, causing hundreds of delayed or canceled flights, widespread power outages and treacherous driving conditions. The weather was blamed for at least seven deaths, including a snowmobile driver who crashed head-on into a horse-drawn buggy in Pennsylvania’s Amish country.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the unbeaten New Orleans Saints 24-17 leaving the Indianapolis Colts the only undefeated NFL team with 14 wins!
Senate Democrats won a crucial test vote on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, putting them on track for passage before Christmas of the historic legislation to remake the nation’s medical system and cover 30 million uninsured. All 58 Democrats and the Senate’s two independents held together early Monday against unanimous Republican opposition, providing the exact 60-40 margin needed to shut down a threatened GOP filibuster.
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry has died, one day after suffering serious injuries upon falling out of the back of a pickup truck in what authorities describe as a domestic dispute with his fiancé. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Henry died at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. Henry was 26.
Entertainment news this week – Fearless” singer Taylor Swift graces the cover of People’s “most intriguing of 2009,” on a list that names mom-of-eight Kate Gosselin the “mother of all reality stars” and British singer Susan Boyle as “the surprise hit,” the magazine said on Wednesday. Oprah Winfrey, who announced she would end her influential TV talk show in 2011, was honored as “the departing diva”, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as “the power pair” and President Barack Obama and wife Michelle as “the first couple.”
In a new category marking the fall of a number of male celebrities in 2009, golfer Tiger Woods, rapper Kanye West, singer Chris Brown, reality star Jon Gosselin, and David Letterman, who admitted affairs with his staffers, were named “Men in the Doghouse.” Rihanna, who was attacked in February by then boyfriend Brown, was named the “resilient star” after a series of frank interviews in November and a new album.
Simon Fuller is at it again – and is launching a Web reality series called If I Can Dream that will chronicle five young people a musician, an actor, two actresses and a model around-the-clock as they try to break into their respective industries. The program will stream their experiences 24/7 on the show’s official web site, and viewers will be allowed to interact with the participants live via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and texting.
Passing – Roy E. Disney (79) – son of Roy Disney and nephew of uncle Walt.
Sean “Puffy” Combs tells Playboy – “I ain’t gonna lie – if God said I could pick one person to be my father, I’d want to be Sean Combs Obama,” Diddy told Playboy for their January/February double issue. “That’s how dope he is. I hope he reads this interview and adopts me. I wouldn’t even have to be in the will. I got my own money!”
Look for Jennifer Lopez and Melissa Rycroft to ring in the New Year on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Susan Boyle has beaten out wedding dancers, vampires, werewolves, children and babies to top the list of Most Watched YouTube videos for 2009. The Scottish singing sensation, who was introduced to most of the world back in April through the Internet video service, scored the top spot on the Web site’s first official list, netting more than 120 million views this year, YouTube announced this week.
Authorities on New York’s Long Island say Lindsay Lohan’s father is accused of violating an order of protection by calling his estranged girlfriend. Suffolk County prosecutors say Michael Lohan was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of criminal contempt. They say the alleged phone call was made on Sunday morning.
The Jonas bachelors are down to two. Eldest brother Kevin Jonas tied the knot with Danielle Deleasa on Saturday, according to People. “We’re so happy that we’re finally married and we were able to share the special moment with family, friends and loved ones,” the couple told the mag. The two reportedly wed in Long Island at a French-style chateau, with 400 guests in attendance, including fellow Disney star Demi Lovato.
Retiring – Charles Gibson conducts his final “ABC World News Tonight” telecast on Friday.
Pepsi says it will not be advertising on this season’s Super Bowl – the first time in 23 years.
Passing – Actress Brittany Murphy. She was 32.
At the movies –
The Princess and the Frog
Did You Hear About the Morgans?
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Up in the Air
Hot Hits This Week In 2009 –
Empire of the State – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Replay – Lyaz
TiK ToK – Ke$ha
Fireflies – Owl City
Sexy Chick – David Guetta fea. Akon
Watcha Say – Jason DeRulo
3 – Britney Spears
Meet Me Halfway – Black Eyed Peas
Down – Jay Sean fea. Lil’ Wayne
Paparazzi – Lady Gaga
Already Gone – Kelly Clarkson
Sweet Dreams – Beyonce
Forever – Drake fea. Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Eminem
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
I Gotta Felling – Black Eyed Peas
Hard –Rihanna fea. Jeezy
You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
Do You Remember – Jean Sean fea. Sean Paul, and Lil John
I Can Transform Ya – Chris Brown fea. Lil Wayne and Swiss Beatz
Use Somebody – Kings of Leon
Fifteen – Taylor Swift
Bedrock – Young Money fea. Lloyd
Evacuate the Dance Floor – Cascada
Run This Town – Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West
Give It Up To Me – Shakira fea. Lil Wayne
Cowboy Casanova – Carrie Underwood