3/21/2023: The Happiest Country
PLUS: A Christian Missionary Goes Free After Six Years; Shubert Theater Pooper; and A Chef for Charles
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Today is Tuesday, March 21, 2023.
It is the 80th day of the year.
285 days remain.
WHAT’S ON TAP
A Christian missionary has been freed after spending six years in captivity in Africa and the World Happiness Report identifies the globe’s happiest citizens. More in HIT LIST.
It’s ArrestWatch Day! Will Trump get indicted? More in THE SWAMP.
JJ WATT is now a Swiftie and MADONNA shares her “House Rules.” More in SHOWBIZ.
DENZEL WASHINGTON is in talks to star in a “Gladiator” sequel and JULIANNE HOUGH returns to “Dancing With the Stars.” More in CASTING CALL.
IKEA has announced it now uses 100 autonomous drones across 16 warehouse locations in Europe to monitor and manage stock in its warehouses when human workers aren’t on the clock.
The flying machines are not only efficient, but save the tedious task of manually counting stock by hand. [via The Verge]
MEANWHILE: Amazon has announced another round of layoffs that will affect 9,000 employees, including those in its web services division, one of the company’s most profitable verticals. CEO ANDY JASSY says the decision is a result of “the uncertain economy.” [via WSJ]
The new management at FTX wants Bahamian authorities to end their involvement with the bankruptcy of the organization’s shell company, which was located and incorporated there.
A court filing argues that FTX Digital Markets – the umbrella organization for the whole scheme – doesn’t have any monetary assets of its own to resolve through the proceedings.
WORTH NOTING: Since January, the new leadership at FTX has been working closely with Bahamian authorities under a cooperation deal. [via Coindesk]
A Christian missionary has been released six years after getting kidnapped in Nigeria.
Jeffery Woodke was first taken at gunpoint from his residence in October 2016, where he had lived for more than 30 years. There had been no clear indication of which group had taken him, though they were believed to be jihadists.
On Monday, his wife learned he had been released. Details remain slim, but a statement by national security adviser JAKE SULLIVAN indicates the Nigerian government worked closely to obtain Woodke’s freedom. [via Bring Jeff Home]
The World Happiness Report has identified Finland’s citizens as the world’s happiest people.
The report evaluates nations based on healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, community values, and daily freedoms.
BY THE WAY: The US came in at number 15. [via CNN]
Officials in Colorado say they’re looking for a mountain lion, after a man enjoying a hot tub soak at a rental house survived an attack by the big cat.
The man reportedly felt something grab at his head while he was in the tub, then turned around to find the mountain lion. He made a lot of noise and splashed water on it to scare it away.
Fortunately, the owner of the rental home works for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, who was able to mobilize the search quickly. The man had minor cuts and refused formal medical treatment. [via Associated Press]
Top 5 Songs on Apple Music:
Morgan Wallen, “Last Night”
Toosii, “Favorite Song”
Morgan Wallen, “Thinkin’ Bout Me”
SZA, “Kill Bill”
Top 5 Songs on Spotify:
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Die For You - Remix”
Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”
Coi Leray, “Players”
SZA, “Kill Bill”
PinkPantheress & Ice Spice, “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2”
GLORIA DEA, Las Vegas’ first magician performer, has died.
She passed away Saturday morning from coronary heart disease in hospice care in Las Vegas, one of her caretakers told ABC News.
Dea was the first person to perform in what is now known as the Las Vegas Strip in the 1940s, paving the way for magicians like DAVID COPPERFIELD.
She was 100.
MMA fighter IURI LAPICUS has died.
He passed away Monday after succumbing to injuries he suffered in a motorcycle accident in Italy last week, according to Milano Today.
Lapicus was only 27.
Actress GINA RODRIGUEZ, 38, and her husband, actor and model JOE LOCICERO, 35, have welcomed their first child together, a baby boy.
The couple announced that they were expecting last July, on Rodriguez’s birthday.
No further details about the birth or the newborn have been shared.
RUPERT MURDOCH, 92, is engaged to former San Francisco police chaplain ANN LESLEY, 66.
A wedding is set for later this summer, Murdoch shared.
The pair met last September at his vineyard Moraga in Bel Air.
Fans were concerned after SHAQUILLE O’NEAL shared a photo of himself in a hospital bed, but it turns out it was all for a routine procedure.
Sources told TMZ that Shaq underwent hip surgery over the weekend and everything went smoothly.
WORTH REMEMBERING: Last week, news broke that Shaq had been evading service of papers in the lawsuit against him and multiple other celebrities for their endorsements of the now-defunct FTX. Perhaps his hospital stay will give attorneys a chance to serve the papers.
Actress AMANDA BYNES has been placed on a psychiatric hold after being found walking the streets naked.
Eyewitnesses told TMZ that she was spotted walking near downtown Los Angeles early Sunday without any clothing on, when she flagged down a car and told the driver she was coming down from a psychotic episode. Bynes called 911 herself.
After an evaluation, during which she was deemed to be uninjured, Bynes was put on a 5150 psych hold.
WORTH REMEMBERING: Bynes' 9-year conservatorship was terminated last year. She had appeared to be doing well and managing her bipolar disorder, until this incident.
Today could be very, very weird – even by the weirdness standards of the last few years.
All eyes are on Manhattan DA ALVIN BRAGG, who could announce an indictment against former President DONALD TRUMP related to the hush money he paid to porn star STORMY DANIELS to keep their affair quiet – an affair Trump says never happened.
Trump’s lawyers have said that if he is indicted, he’ll go through the motions of getting a mugshot and fingerprints taken.
President JOE BIDEN has issued his first veto, regarding a bill that would have scaled back a regulation that allows financial advisers to weigh “environmental, social and governance” factors when giving advice and making investment decisions. The bill would have nullified a Biden administration rule encouraging consideration of these factors.
WORTH NOTING: Even the rule itself was non-binding.
BY THE NUMBERS
📈 The DOW added 382 points (1.2%) to close at 32,244 on Monday. The S&P added 34 points (0.89%) to close at 3,951 and the NASDAQ added 45 points (0.39%) to close at 11,675.
🛢 WEST TEXAS INTERMEDIATE closed at $67; BRENT CRUDE at $73.
⛽ The national average price of a GALLON OF GAS was $3.44 on Monday.
₿ BITCOIN was up slightly Monday, trading just over $28,000.
🛩 There were more than 3,150 FLIGHTS delayed within, into, or out of the United States on Monday and more than 85 such cancellations.
💰Tonight’s MEGA MILLIONS drawing will be for a $272 million jackpot or a $146.5 million cash payout.
Former NFL player JJ WATT is now a Swiftie.
After attending TAYLOR SWIFT’s concert in Glendale, Arizona over the weekend, with his wife KEALIA OHAI and friends, Watt says he was “blown away” by the performance.
“There was no intermission. There was no halftime. There was no TV timeouts,” he said in an Instagram video about the three-hour-plus concert.
Watt even showed off the merchandise he purchased after the show, captioning a photo of a sweatshirt, “So, Swiftie life!” [via TMZ]
MADONNA has five “House Rules” that she expects everyone in her home to follow. They are: Smile, Be Happy, Listen to Others, Speak Kindness and Be Happy With What You Have
She shared the rules in a captionless Instagram post. [via Daily Mail]
ADAM SANDLER received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor over the weekend.
Presenters included his longtime friends and co-stars DREW BARRYMORE, CONAN O’BRIEN, CHRIS ROCK, JENNIFER ANISTON, STEVE BUSCEMI, DANA CARVEY and LUIS GUZMAN.
Sandler, who got his start on “SNL,” is known best for his comedic films “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore,” “The Wedding Singer,” and “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” though he also starred in dramas, “Punch Drunk Love” and “Uncut Gems.” [via AP News]
WORTH NOTING: He is the seventh “SNL” cast member to be honored, joining BILL MURRAY, TINA FEY, WILL FERRELL, BILLY CRYSTAL, EDDIE MURPHY and JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS.
GWYNETH PALTROW will likely take the stand in the upcoming trial regarding a ski crash from 2016.
The actress was sued over the incident by Terry Sanderson, who claims she ran into him while skiing down a mountain at Deer Valley Resort, causing him to suffer a concussion and broken ribs. He says Paltrow got up, brushed herself off and continued on down the mountain, leaving him lying in the snow.
Sanderson asked for $3.1 million in damages, to which Paltrow countersued for $1 million, claiming he caused the crash.
The trial begins today in Park City, Utah. [via TMZ]
NICK CARTER -- of BACKSTREET BOYS fame -- says he has “a dozen witnesses” who will back him up against accusations that he sexually assaulted a girl in 2001.
The 43-year-old singer filed new legal documents stating these facts in response to accuser Shannon Ruth, who is suing him for $30,000 in damages.
Ruth, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, claims Carter invited her back to their tour bus after a concert where he gave her alcohol and then sexually assaulted her. She was only 17 at the time.
Carter has denied the accusations and is countersuing Ruth for $2.35 million. [via Daily Mail]
A serial pooper has been targeting performances of “Some Like It Hot” at the legendary Shubert Theater in NYC.
One insider told Page Six that the latest incident occurred near where HILLARY and her daughter CHELSEA CLINTON were sitting.
“The lights came up for intermission and there were two human turds in the aisle just near the famous political duo,” the source said.
A theater employee told the outlet it was a one-time thing, but another said it has happened several times over several performances. [via Page Six]
JULIANNE HOUGH will co-host “Dancing With the Stars” alongside ALFONSO RIBEIRO following the news that current host TYRA BANKS is leaving.
Hough starred as a pro dancer on the show for five seasons and then a judge for six seasons.
Riberio served as co-host alongside Banks last season, which was the show’s first season on Disney+.
Season 32 of “DWTS” is set to premiere this fall. [via People]
DENZEL WASHINGTON is in talks to star in a “Gladiator” sequel.
The film is a follow-up to RIDLEY SCOTT’s 2000 flick starring RUSSELL CROWE as Maximus Decimus Meridius and JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Roman Emperor, Commodus.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, PAUL MESCAL will star in the sequel as Lucius, the nephew of Commodus. No word on who Washington could play.
The movie is set to premiere in November 2024. [via Hollywood Reporter]
ED SHEERAN is baring it all in a new four-part docuseries titled “Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All.”
According to Deadline, the documentary will “spotlight how an unlikely child with a stutter rose to fame and how his chart-topping hits were born.”
It will premiere on Disney+ on May 3. [via Deadline]
Director JORDAN PEELE’s high-anticipated not-yet-titled fourth film is due to be released on December 25, 2024.
The new project follows Peele’s “Get Out” (2017), “Us” (2019), and “Nope” (2022), which all did well at the box office.
No plot details have been shared. [via Daily Mail]
WORTH NOTING: “Avatar 3” is set to hit theaters on December 20, 2024.
THE DAILY KARDASHOPUS
As reconciliation rumors continue to plague KHLOE KARDASHIAN and TRISTAN THOMPSON, he is rumored to be training with the Los Angeles Lakers this week.
Thompson, who is currently a free agent, is reportedly optimistic about the opportunity to possibly land on the team that would allow him to stay near his family in the L.A. area. [via NY Post]
WORTH REMEMBERING: He owns a home near Khloe so he can see their two kids as often as he would like.
WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS
Buckingham Palace is looking for a new chef to create vegan and vegetarian meals for KING CHARLES.
According to the New York Post, Charles eats vegan dishes one day a week and vegetarian meals twice a week.
The ad reads: “This job is truly like no other. You’ll motivate and inspire those around you, monitoring the performance and development of a highly competent team, as well as recruiting and training new members. You’ll develop and prepare diverse menus and source the very best seasonal ingredients. You’re a highly qualified and skilled chef, with experience at a senior level from a fine dining or five star catering operation.”
Benefits include 33 days of vacation and meals provided while on duty. The job requires 45 hours in the kitchen per week. [via NY Post]
DAY OF THE YEAR
National Crunchy Taco Day
World Puppetry Day
National Memory Day
National French Bread Day
National Single Parent Day
World Vermouth Day
World Poetry Day
Slytherin Pride Day
International Fragrance Day
World Down Syndrome Day
International Day of Forests
National Common Courtesy Day
National Healthy Fats Day
ON THIS DATE
1804 – French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte pushes through a set of laws called the Napoleonic Code.
The laws included rules on property rights, family matters, and individual rights.
It defined commercial and criminal laws, and institutionalized rules that made men the legal heads of households. The Code also made women and illegitimate children second-class citizens.
1943 – An internal Nazi plan to capture and assassinate Hitler fails.
The higher-ups in the Nazi party planned to arrest the Fuhrer upon his visit to an army headquarters in the Soviet Union. They planned to later detain and kill him.
The plot fell apart instantly, with Hitler surrounded by loyal guards and an entourage.
1963 – Infamous prison Alcatraz closes down.
The island became American property in 1849 when it was bought by the government.
At its peak in the 1950s, the island prison in San Francisco Bay was home to more than 200 prisoners, many of them iconic gangsters and criminals from the time.
It was one of the first prisons to use metal detector technology.
1965 – NASA launches the Ranger 9 probe.
The spacecraft carried still and video cameras to take shots of the moon before impacting it.
The major networks broadcast the images live.
1980 – President Carter announces to American Olympians that they would not participate in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
This was the first time the US instituted a total boycott of the Olympic Games. In 2022, President Joe Biden ordered a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games in Beijing over human rights abuses, but athletes still competed.
1980 – Hit TV show “Dallas” ends its second season with the most famous cliffhanger in TV history.
It capped off a season of JR ticking off many people, and some mysterious person shot him twice.
SPOILER ALERT: It was JR's mistress.
2018 – Mark Zuckerberg admits that Facebook “made mistakes” after analytics firm Cambridge Analytics harvested data on 50 million users for political advertising purposes.
The illicit harvesting was first reported by a journalist for The Guardian in December 2015.
The scandal finally erupted in March with the emergence of whistle-blower Christopher Wylie, who previously worked for Cambridge Analytica. Following the reveal, more than $100 billion was knocked off of Facebook’s stock value and politicians demanded answers.
This all led to Zuckerberg awkwardly testifying in front of Congress.
Forrest Wheeler - actor, “Fresh Off the Boat” - 19
Jace Norman - actor, “Henry Danger” & “Splitting Adam” - 23
Miles Bridges - basketball player - 25
RJ Cyler - actor, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” & “War Machine” - 28
Diggy Simmons - rapper - 28
Antoine Griezmann - soccer player - 32
Jordi Alba - soccer player - 34
James Davies - actor, “Power Rangers Dino Charge” - 34
Scott Eastwood - actor, “Gran Torino” & “The Longest Ride” - 37
Adrian Peterson - football player - 38
Ronaldinho - soccer player - 43
Melissa Gorga - reality star, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” - 44
Michale Graves - punk singer, The Misfits - 48
Matthew Broderick - actor, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” - 61
Rosie O’Donnell - actress & TV show host - 61
Gary Oldman - actor, “Darkest Hour” & “True Romance” - 65
Born On This Date
Ayrton Senna - race car driver - 1960 (d. 1994)
John D. Rockefeller - oil billionaire & philanthropist - 1906 (d. 1978)
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