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12/21/2022: Inside Arson Job
PLUS: Vlado Does DC (?); Title 42 Update; and Harry & Meg Doppelgängers
Today is Wednesday, December 21, 2022.
It is the 355th day of the year.
10 days remain.
There will be no newsletter the week of December 26-30.
#earthquake landed in Twitter’s Top 10 Trends after a 6.4 magnitude quake shook northern California.
#UglyChristmasGifts was trending on Tuesday. Tweets using the hashtag read, “mullet socks,” “Brain Beanie,” “A Rudolph Mankini,” “Cat Butt Kleenex Dispenser,” and “Trump NFTs.”
#WhySantaLivesInTheNorthPole was also trending yesterday. Tweets included, “The South Pole is kind of seedy,” “his addiction to hot cocoa isn’t obvious since it’s so cold,” “It looks like a candy cane,” and “because he isn’t bipolar.”
#MerryChristmasToAll was trending Tuesday night as Mariah Carey rang in the holidays with a two-hour special on CBS.
YouTube TV was trending after multiple media outlets reported the internet-TV service is in talks to take over the rights to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket. Stay tuned.
A day after a Twitter poll started by ELON MUSK showed a healthy majority of respondents said he should step down as CEO of the platform, CNBC reports that Musk is actively looking for someone to helm the site’s day to day operations.
Of course, even if the top executive changes, Musk will still own Twitter; he’s said he doesn’t expect to be so involved indefinitely.
CNBC reports that Musk has been looking for a new CEO since well before the poll was started, anyway. In a few tweet-replies, Musk has said he hasn’t yet seen the right person for the job.
Airlines are trying to get ahead of this weekend’s bomb cyclone that’s expected to dump snow and bring frigid temperatures across the country.
The New York Post reports that multiple airlines have already begun offering waiver vouchers for booked passengers, giving them the option to proactively rebook their flight after the weather hits.
The storm could make for the coldest Christmas in 40 years in many parts of the country.
The culprit behind a series of wildfires in Ohio in recent months is allegedly none other than a (now-former) 911 dispatcher.
A criminal complaint filed by the US Forest Service alleges that 50-year-old James Bartels set at least 26 fires to “distract himself from depression” and “to give the boys” – meaning firefighters – “something to do.”
Bartels has apparently already admitted to the arson, and geolocation data from his truck corroborates that he was at the site where fires broke out. He faces up to five years in prison.
The blazes tore through more than 1,000 acres.
A Connecticut man has survived a drive-by shooting that left him with a gunshot wound to the head.
The incident happened in the early hours Tuesday outside a gas station. The victim was sitting in his vehicle next to a pump, when the shooter’s vehicle pulled alongside, fired numerous shots, and sped off, based on security camera footage.
Miraculously, the head wound is not considered life threatening at this time. Police tell local media the incident appears to be targeted, not random.
The Mars InSight rover has likely ended its mission, after too much dust and dirt coated its solar panels. Protocols sent from Earth on Sunday were not received by the martian robot.
It’s been operating on the Red Planet since 2018.
The Curiosity rover remains active since it landed in 2012, as well as the Perseverance rover, which landed nearly two years ago.
BY THE NUMBERS
📈 The Dow added 92 points (0.28%) on Tuesday to close at 32,849. The S&P added just 3 points (0.1%) to close at 3,821 and the Nasdaq added 1 point (0.01%) to close at 10,547.
🛢 West Texas Intermediate traded at $76 on Tuesday; Brent Crude at $79.
⛽ The national average price of a gallon of gas was $3.12 on Tuesday.
₿ Bitcoin surged Tuesday, picking up more than $400 but still trading under $17,000.
🛩 There were 4,142 flights delayed within, into, or out of the United States on Tuesday and 420 such cancellations.
Top 5 Fiction & Nonfiction Books Currently on the New York Times Best Sellers List:
“It Starts With Us,” Colleen Hoover
“It Ends With Us,” Colleen Hoover
“Lessons In Chemistry,” Bonnie Garmus
“Verity,” Colleen Hoover
“The Boys From Biloxi,” John Grisham
“The Light We Carry,” Michelle Obama
“I’m Glad My Mom Died,” Jennette McCurdy
“Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing,” Matthew Perry
“The Body Keeps the Score,” Bessel van der Kolk
Actress SONYA EDDY has died.
She passed away Monday night after developing a serious infection following routine surgery, her producing partner and close friend, Tyler Ford told TMZ.
She was 55.
RUMER WILLIS, 34 is expecting her first child with indie musician DEREK RICHARD THOMAS.
The actress announced the news on Instagram Tuesday, sharing three black-and-white photos of her baby bump.
The comment section quickly filled up with congratulatory posts.
Rumer’s mom, DEMI MOORE, also shared the post on her own social media pages.
More than half of the $1.7 trillion federal spending bill being finalized by Congress will fund defense initiatives, at $858 billion. The remaining goes to a smorgasbord of government spending, from drug treatment programs to veteran support funding agencies like the EPA and National Park Service.
Both houses of Congress intend to vote on the legislation before Friday, and before the new Congress is sworn in on January 3.
A coalition of Republican House members have signed a letter saying that they will actively whip votes against any legislation authored or sponsored by Republicans in the Senate who vote for it.
Ukrainian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY is rumored to be headed to Washington DC today – but the leak about his visit, first reported by Punchbowl News, may stall his arrival over security concerns.
If he does make the trek across the Atlantic, it would be the first time Zelensky has left Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began 300 days ago.
WORTH NOTING: Some analysts suggest Zelensky’s visit is timed to the passage of the $1.7 trillion spending bill, which is chock full of money for Ukraine’s war effort, and could push hesitant lawmakers over the hump to vote for the package.
The Biden Administration is once again punting on Title 42.
On Monday, Supreme Court Chief Justice JOHN ROBERTS ordered the provision to remain in place temporarily, and gave the government until yesterday evening to respond to a request to keep it in place entirely.
In response, the feds are still asking for it to be lifted – but with a delay.
A final ruling should be expected sooner than later.
No winner for Monday night’s Powerball drawing. Tonight’s drawing will be for a $170 million jackpot or a $91.5 million cash payout.
Days after being rushed to the hospital SHARON OSBOURNE told fans in an Instagram post that she is “back home and doing great.”
Fans responded with comments of love and support for the 70-year-old.
There are still no details regarding what landed her in the hospital last Friday.
AFROMAN says he wants to run for President in 2024.
The rapper made the announcement over the weekend at his concert in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, telling the crowd he looks forward to facing off against DONALD TRUMP and others.
As for the first big issue he wants to tackle, Afroman says he wants to legalize weed.
Former wrestler “Hacksaw” JIM DUGGAN took down an intruder in his home earlier this month.
The 68-year-old told Wrestling Inc. that a man in his mid-20s entered the home around 6:45 pm, at which point Duggan said he tackled him to the ground and held him at gunpoint while he called police.
After hearing commotion from outside, Duggan said they turned their lights off and told the man to be quiet, at which point the man told them that people were after him to kill him.
Once police arrived it came to light that the intruder had fled from a group of individuals involved in a separate incident and had been to many homes trying to find somewhere to hide out, according to the outlet.
After getting all the details, Duggan and his wife told responding officers they did not want to press charges.
HARRY STYLES is facing backlash for his recent look in Gucci’s HA HA HA ad campaign.
In the photos, the singer stands in front of what appears to be a child-size mattress while modeling a shirt with a pink teddy bear on it that reads, “I want more berries and that summer feeling.”
The ad comes just weeks after Balenciaga was slammed for its ad featuring children with BDSM-themed teddy bears.
Several Twitter users called out the Gucci ad, saying it is “not a good look” for Styles “as a grown man.”
Neither Gucci nor Styles have addressed the backlash.
WORTH NOTING: Both Gucci and Balenciaga are owned by Paris-based international luxury goods group, Kering.
BOB DYLAN recently told The Wall Street Journal that he enjoys listening to rapper EMINEM and hip-hop group WU-TANG CLAN.
The 81-year-old explained that he is a “fan” of “anybody with a feeling for words and language” as well as “anybody whose vision parallels [his].”
As for how he finds new music, Dylan told the publication that it “mostly happens by chance.”
Actress, and longtime vegan, ALICIA SILVERSTONE bared it all in a new ad for PETA.
“I never, ever, get naked in TV, in film, nothin’, never, nope -- but I’ve done it for PETA because that’s how much it matters to me,” she told People in an exclusive interview in which she shares the devastating effects of leather on the planet.
The ad features Silverstone in a desert, wearing nothing but cowboy boots in a cactus field, with the line, “DON’T BE A PRICK. Wear Vegan. Buy cactus, mushroom or apple leather instead.”
LANA DEL RAY announced Tuesday that her ninth studio album will be released on March 10.
She also debuted the title track, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.”
The news comes just months after Lana revealed that her laptop, cameras and hard drives were stolen, forcing her to scrap plans for a book she had been working on. She also told fans at the time not to listen to any leaked music or look at any of her personal photos that may be released.
No word on whether she ever got the items back.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” has beaten “Minions: The Rise of Gru” as the second best Monday of the year with $16.2 million.
“Minions” had $16 million.
The best Monday of 2022 belongs to “Top Gun: Maverick” with $33.8 million.
SPEAKING OF THE BOX OFFICE: Walt Disney Studios passed the $4 BILLION mark for 2022, making it the No. 1 studio for this year’s worldwide box office. The films that helped the studio reach the milestone include: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
HODA KOTB and JENNA BUSH HAGER will host NBC’s New Year’s Eve special, “A Toast to 2022!”
The two-hour special will feature several big names, such as MILEY CYRUS, GEORGE LOPEZ and DOLLY PARTON, and will look back at the year’s biggest moments.
After the special, viewers can watch Cyrus and Parton as they host “Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party” on NBC.
LEA MICHELE’s “Funny Girl” has broken a Broadway all-time box office record.
According to blogger Just Jared, the show brought in over $2 million across eight shows last week, taking the top spot from “Mean Girls,” which earned $1.99 million across the same number of shows in 2018.
WHAT’S MORE: Ticket prices were averaging over $210, the second highest of all shows for the week, falling short to HUGH JACKMAN’s “Music Man” which had an average ticket price of $267.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and another sexual misconduct count this week by a Los Angeles jury.
The jury remained hung on other charges, including sexual battery.
The 70-year-old disgraced movie mogul is already serving a 23-year sentence for a rape conviction in New York. He also faces charges in London stemming from two offenses in 1996.
No word on when he will be sentenced for the latest guilty verdict.
THE DAILY KARDASHOPUS
OJ SIMPSON doubled down on the fact that he is not KHLOE KARDASHIAN’s father during his recent appearance on the “Full Send” podcast.
When asked if he was the biological father of the reality star -- something that has been long rumored -- he replied, “The rumor ain’t true. It’s not even anywhere close to being true.”
Of course, Simpson knew the famous family as Khloe’s dad, the late ROBERT KARDASHIAN, was his friend and attorney.
MEANWHILE: Khloe has previously addressed the rumor, calling those spreading it “trolls,” “assholes” and “haters.”
WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS
The man and woman featured in a new Kay Jewelers commercial had some viewers doing a double take thinking it was PRINCE HARRY and MEGHAN MARKLE.
Kudos to Kay’s creative team.
TOM BRADY will spend Christmas without his kids for the first time this year following his divorce from supermodel GISELE BUNDCHEN.
He won’t be alone however, as he and his Buccaneers teammates will play the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.
WORTH NOTING: It is the first time that Brady will play on Christmas Day.
DAY OF THE YEAR
National French Fried Shrimp Day
National Short Story Day
Don’t Make Your Bed Day
National Coquito Day
Ribbon Candy Day
Look On The Bright Side Day
National Flashlight Day
National Crossword Puzzle Day
International Dalek Remembrance Day
National Short Girl Appreciation Day
ON THIS DATE
1898 - Scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium.
1913 - The first crossword puzzle is published, appearing in the New York World newspaper.
It contained 31 clues, and was arranged in a diamond-shape, rather than the modern square. It was then called a "word-cross puzzle."
The author was Arthur Wynne, who would play a major role in modernizing the crossword puzzle, like introducing black squares to break up words and columns.
Wynne's puzzle only became known as a Cross-Word -- rather than Word-Cross -- following a typesetting error.
1937 – “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” opens in Los Angeles. It's the first full-length film produced by Walt Disney's studio.
The animators used a multiplane camera to help create the illusion of depth, and also used live actors while drawing the characters. Both were new techniques.
The total budget for the film was $1.5 million at the time.
1945 - George Patton dies following a car accident at 60 years old.
Patton was commander of the 7th Army during World War II, when he captured Palermo, Sicily.
He commanded the 3rd Army during the Battle of the Bulge.
He was known for a reckless mouth and impatience for cowardice.
Patton survived the war, but died the year it ended, when he broke his neck in the accident.
1968 - The first manned mission to the Moon launches, though the astronauts on board had no intent to land on it.
Apollo 8 carried Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders into orbit around the Moon.
They orbited 10 times, broadcasting TV images back to Earth, and taking some of the closest photos ever.
They were the first astronauts to see the dark side of the Moon as well.
Less than 7 months later, the first men would walk on the Moon.
1988 - A Pan Am Flight en route to New York from London explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland.
All 243 passengers died, along with 16 crew members. 11 on the ground were killed from the wreckage.
It was determined the bomber was Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who planted a bomb inside a cassette recorder, which was stowed in the cargo bay of the plane.
He was protected by the Libyan government until 1999, when former dictator Muammar Qaddafi turned him over to soften relations with the United States.
In 2003, Libya took responsibility for the attack.
In 2009, al-Megrahi was released from prison and returned to Libya after doctors determined he had terminal prostate cancer.
He would die in May of 2012.
2005 – Elton John and David Furnish register their civil partnership at Windsor Town Hall.
The pair were one of hundreds of same-sex couples who formed civil partnerships in England and Wales on this day – the first day such ceremonies became possible.
2012 – “Gangnam Style” by Psy becomes the first video to reach one BILLION views on YouTube.
The music video was recognized by “Guinness World Records” as the most “liked” video on YouTube at the time.
2020 - Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine starts being administered in the US.
It is the same day that President Joe Biden gets his jab, though he opted for Pfizer’s vaccine.
Madeline Cline - actress, “Outer Banks” - 25
Ben Chilwell - soccer player - 26
Kaitlyn Dever - actress, “Last Man Standing” - 26
Jinger Duggar - one of the 19 Duggar kids - 29
Steven Yuen - actor, “The Walking Dead” - 39
Tom Payne - actor, “The Walking Dead” - 40
Mike Vitar - actor, “The Sandlot” - 44
Emmanuel Macron - world leader - 45
Kiefer Sutherland - actor, “24” & “The Lost Boys” - 56
Ray Romano - actor, “Everybody Loves Raymond” - 65
Kay Robertson - reality star, “Duck Dynasty” - 72
Samuel L. Jackson - actor, “Pulp Fiction” & “Jackie Brown” - 74
Jane Fonda - actress, “Grace & Frankie” & “Monster-In-Law” - 85
Born On This Date
Betty Wright - R&B singer - 1953 (d. 2020)
Frank Zappa - rock guitarist & composer - 1940 (d. 1993)
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