The Week in Review: Dec. 7- Dec. 11/2009
Remembering the week’s events so you don’t have to!
♦ The week starts off with welcome news for millions of parents. Zhu Zhu pets will not kill their children after all. Over the weekend, a California product-rating web site had claimed the hit toy of the Christmas season contained high levels of a fire retardant called antimony that can cause heart and lung problems with chronic exposure. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issues a statement saying- nuh uh (paraphrasing). Turned out GoodGuide had conducted faulty testing that failed to meet government standards-the antimony levels were fine. Officially, parents are cleared to return to not finding the toys at stores. The loveable furry rodents that are supposed to sell for $10 a piece continue selling online for $100.
♥ Tiger Wood’s wife reportedly moves out of their Florida home.
♦ The Gallup polling organization’s daily EKG of the President’s approval ratings drops below 50%. He is now down to 47%, among the lowest approval numbers for a new President in modern history. Pundits with White House connections say Obama advisors liken the situation to the Reagan administration’s first term when the nation was in the deep recession that effectively ended the hyper-inflation of the Carter years but at a high cost to millions of newly unemployed. The economy eventually recovered and so did Reagan’s initially bad poll numbers. Fox News trumpets the Gallup figures with serious fervor. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responds that the White House pays no attention to poll numbers unless they’re good. Ok, he didn’t really say that last part.
♥ The number of women reported to have had affairs with Tiger Woods reaches seven.
♦ The big Climate Conference is underway in Copenhagen. “Climategate” enters the public lexicon in a big way as tens of thousands begin wondering why all scandals have to be named “gate.” Stolen e-mails and files from a British climate research center suggest temperature data may have been unethically manipulated. Representatives from a country with only a small stake in the debate over limiting carbon emissions officially raise the issue at the conference. Delegates from oil-rich Saudi Arabia declare the scandal raises serious questions about the basic premise behind the theory of global warming. Go ahead; take a moment to connect those last two sentences.
♥ Photos of Tiger Wood’s mother-in-law being wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher at 2:30 in the morning becomes breaking news on all the cable networks. Quickly scrambled reporters breathlessly note the incredible irony that she has been taken to the same hospital where Tiger had been treated after his single-car accident. She was released the next day. For some reason, she had been experiencing stress.
♦ The Transportation Security Administration messes up big-time. Employees post TSA manuals online as part of the contract solicitation process. Not ordinarily a problem, except that sensitive details about airport security procedures that were supposed to be redacted- weren’t. Turns out the TSA employees thought they had hidden the classified stuff by covering the words in black. They should have actually deleted them. Apparently, clever, tech-savvy whiz kids can see right through the blackened segments in PDF files and soon the sensitive material makes its way onto the internet. Among other things, we now know what a CIA security credential looks like, that TSA workers don’t inspect wheelchairs or prosthetic devices, and that when it gets really busy at airports they only have to look at 20% of checked bags for explosives. This is why I take trains whenever possible.
♦ Monster waves hit Hawaii and surfers go nuts. San Clemente, California’s Greg Long, rides what is described as a massive, jaw-dropping 25-footer to a perfect score of 100 winning $55,000 at the prestigious 25th anniversary Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest on the North Shore of Oahu.
♥ The number of women linked to Tiger Woods reaches 10.
♦ Hump day is a busy news day, indeed. The President delivers a speech at the Brookings Institution in which he outlines tax cuts and other incentives to help small businesses both hire and invest. Since small businesses hire two-thirds of the American work force, some people see this as a good thing. The loyal opposition, which usually supports tax cuts for small businesses, objects loudly because the White House wants to pay for it with bank bail-out money that has been paid back faster than expected. They argue the $200 billion should go toward paying down the huge deficit. I pull out my handy calculator and put on my old-fashioned green accountant visor-thing. Let’s see, divide the $200 billion by the national debt which is currently $12,086,118,896,943. Convert to percentage. <Insert sound of fingers busily pressing calculator keys> Ah ha! Instead of tax cuts for small businesses so they can hire more people, we can take that money and reduce the deficit by 1.65%. Only 98.35% to go! Good deal!
♥ It is reported that national television ads that featured Tiger Woods have vanished from the airwaves and have not been broadcast since November 29th.
♦ The upper Midwest is hit hard by a massive winter storm that dumps one to three feet of snow and then moves eastward, eventually hitting New England. Buffalo gets buffaloed as it gets both the initial storm and then lake-effect snow later in the week.
♦ Five workers with the Transportation Security Administration are put on leave while an investigation is conducted into how they could be so clueless. See Tuesday, 12/8.
♥ A CNN/Gallup poll is released that finds Tiger Woods’ unfavorability rating has gone up from 9% to 25%. No one seems to notice that a married guy with two kids implicated in ten adulterous relationships still has a higher approval rating than the President of the United States.
♦ Sarah Palin writes an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post citing climategate, argues there is no consensus on global warming and concludes the President should boycott the Copenhagen conference. Liberal activists and some scientists criticize the Washington Post for publishing the article. They apparently have not heard that nobody actually reads newspapers anymore and that Sarah Palin’s Facebook friends list exceeds the paper’s total circulation. Sarah Palin has 1,097,360 Facebook friends. The Washington Post’s daily circulation is 637,180. On Sundays, it’s 890,163. I checked.
♦ Senate Democrats reach agreement on health care but nobody can quite figure out at first whether a public option is in or out. Turns out the compromise proposal would allow people to start paying for and getting Medicare coverage two years from now; minimum age-55. Since I am 53, I think, “Wow, how cool is that?”
♥ The number of women associated with Tiger Woods reaches 11.
♦ Barack Obama becomes the first sitting American President since Woodrow Wilson to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. It is widely accepted he’d been given the honor as a largely symbolic gesture for the change he represents rather than for anything he’s accomplished in a mere 11 months in the oval office. Awkward. But not really, because Obama starts the speech by openly admitting the accomplishments of previous recipients like Nelson Mandela dwarf anything he’s done thus far in his young Presidency.
He also accepted the PEACE prize one week after committing 30,000 additional U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan. Awkward. But not really, because the President deals with the issue head-on in his much lauded speech in Oslo, Norway. He reminds his largely European audience that the non-violent movement would not have defeated Nazi Germany and that you can’t sit down at a table and negotiate with Al-Qaeda terrorists. He concludes sometimes you have to make war to find peace. Amazingly enough, the speech receives positive reviews from Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan and Sarah Palin. To underscore his point, the President later reminds attendees of the ceremonies that the founder of the Peace Prize, Alfred Noble, invented dynamite.
♦The Russians finally fess up. An amazing and slightly creepy light display over the skies of pre-dawn Norway on Wednesday were not the harbinger of an alien invasion. Turns out it was a Bulava missile test-fired by the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea that failed spectacularly. What startled residents of Norway were seeing was the rocket spiraling down to earth through a haze of leaking fuel, resulting in an awesome and scary viewing experience. For the record, the Bulova missile is one of the most pathetic in the annals of modern rocketry. It has failed in 9 of 13 launch attempts. It occurred to me this would make a great pyrotechnic device for a truly memorable fireworks celebration. Until a friend pointed out that an exploding missile might hurt people. This confirms I would have made a horrible event planner.
♥ Tiger Woods’ attorneys go to court to pre-empt the publishing of nude pictures of the world’s greatest golfer/most questionable decision-maker.
♦ The first reviews are in from pre-screenings of the new movie Avatar that is officially released a week from today. The epic, whose characters took 15 years to develop and whose total production and marketing costs exceed $350 million- is apparently pretty good. KTRA movie critic, Sam Rubin predicts at least three Oscars including a Best Picture nomination. That would be about $116 million per statue.
♦ It’s reported Democrats are poised to vote to increase the national debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion before the end of the year so they can get it out of the way and not have to vote to raise it again before the 2010 elections. What an outrage! Why you could produce and market 5,142 Avatar’s for that amount of money.
♥ The Sun newspaper reports exclusively that Tiger Woods tells his wife, Elin that he will do “anything” to keep their marriage together. She has reportedly agreed to do so for the sake of the children. Just one condition. He would be on the shortest leash in the history of leashes. No more golf tour unless Elin can come along and until the kids are old enough to tag along too. The first-born, Sam, is 2. The new kid, Charlie, is 10 months old. Looks like Tiger is going to be taking a few years off. Things should die down by then. Perhaps.
Robert Garcia tweets at garciamedialife.