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From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 16, 2014 -- 11:06am

 

Wednesday (04-16): National Stress Awareness Day, National Bookmobile Day, Save The Elephant Day, National Health Decisions Day, National Eggs Benedict Day.

Birthdays include: Actress ELLEN BARKIN (60), actors JON CRYER ("Two and a Half Men" -49), LUKAS HAAS (38), MARTIN LAWRENCE (49); DAVE PIRNER (Soul Asylum -50); singer-songwriter AKON (41); the Polish Prince, BOBBY VINTON (79), JIMMY OSMOND (51), PETER BILLINGSLY ("Ralphie" in "A Christmas Story" --43) and the immortal GERARDO (49), who gave the world "Rico Suave." Wrestling legend GEORGE "The Animal" STEELE is 77. Voice actor BILLY WEST (who does both Ren & Stimpy --64). Retired POPE BENEDICT the 16th is 87.
   From sports, NBA great KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR (67), New England Patriots' coach, BILL BELICHICK (62) and San Francisco Giants manager BRUCE BOCHY (59).

   The late GERRY RAFFERTY ("Baker Street") would be 67. The late DUSTY SPRINGFIELD was also born on this date and now-famous Tex-Mex singer SELENA PEREZ would have been 43 today, had she not been shot to death by YOLANDA SALDIVAR, her fan club president. The late HENRY MANCINI (Pink Panther, Moon River), CHARLIE CHAPLIN and WILBUR WRIGHT were also born on this date.

Anniversaries: Happy 20th to singer and "American Idol" judge HARRY CONNICK, Jr, and JILL GOODACRE.
   --Seven years ago today a student shot and killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech University.

Guilty Pleasures:
No winner in Saturday night's drawing for the Powerball Lottery. That means tonight's drawing is valued at $110 million ($64 million cash value). Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, DC and the U-S Virgin Islands. Chances of winning the grand prize (all five numbers plus the powerball) are 1 in 175.2 million.

The Vice President at play: 
Vice President JOE BIDEN was on hand in Boston yesterday for ceremonies marking one year since a pair of bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and left scores injured. He said in part, "You will send a resounding message around the world --not just around the world but to the terrorists-- that we will never yield. We will never cower. America will never ever stand down."
   Biden added, "You are living proof that America can never, never, never be defeated ...You are the proof of that assertion. So much has been taken from you but you have never, ever given up."

Political Racket /Dirty Tricks:
More heat from Congress yesterday for General Motors and one of its major vendors. Lawmakers looking into how and why GM used faulty ignition switches in many vehicles are now putting the spotlight on the supplier of those switches, Delphi Automotive.
   A group of senators sent a letter to Delphi CEO RODNEY O'NEAL yesterday, demanding information on how the company reacted to GM after the automaker apparently did not accept a proposed fix for the switches. The bipartisan letters reads in part, "It is our understanding that a fix was proposed by Delphi regarding the ignition switch in 2005 but GM did not adopt the change... As we continue evaluating the GM recall it is critically important that we understand the decisions made by Delphi and the company's interaction with GM."
   There was no immediate comment from Delphi. At least 13 deaths have been linked to those faulty ignition switches.

Equal time: 
One of the political left's favorite reporters thinks that former President GEORGE W. BUSH was far more aggressive at prosecuting white collar crime that PRESIDENT OBAMA has been. MATT TAIBBI pulled no punches during a recent interview on "Democratcy Now."
   When asked by host AMY GOODMAN, "Who was tougher on corporate America, President Obama or President Bush?," Taibbi said, "Oh, Bush, hands down. And this is an important point to make, because if you go back to the early 2000s, think about all these high-profile cases: Adelphia, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen. All of these companies were swept up by the Bush Justice Department ...At least George Bush recognized the symbolic importance of showing ordinary Americans that justice is blind, right?"
   Taibbi added, "Fast-forward again to the next big crisis, and how many people have we ...actually put in jail? Zero. And this was a crisis that was much huger in scope than the S&L crisis or the accounting crisis. I mean, it wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth, and nobody went to jail, so that we’re now in a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal."

What's Poppin':
If you can't afford to own, you can rent. But what if you can't afford to rent, either? Millions of Americans are in precisely that situation, according to a comprehensive new Harvard study.
   The study finds median rent prices in 90 cities across the U-S are higher than a basic affordability threshold for middle-income families
   Keep in mind, the study is looking not at where rents are highest, but where they're becoming least affordable based on local incomes. Rent and utilities are traditionally considered affordable when they consume 30 percent or less of a household's income. But in 90 cities nationwide, median rent alone --so not even including utilities-- tops 30 percent of the median gross income.

   According to the study, half of all renters nationwide are now spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. That's up from 38 percent of renters in 2000.
   Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that some forecasters say rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.
   Something else is happening, too. The sharp uptick in rents has also happened alongside a decline in funding for affordable housing. That means people with not quite the money to buy a house who can afford a high-end apartment is resulting in an apartment market catering mainly to high earners. The surplus of luxury apartments means fewer dwellings for your typical renter.

   The high rents impact the economy, too, since more money heading to rent and utilities means less left over for people to spend on goods and services.
   The least affordable city is Los Angeles, where median rent now makes up 47 percent of median income. Next is Miami, where that figure is 43.2 percent, and then College Station, TX.
   San Francisco ranks sixth and New York comes in 10th. One in four renter households in the U-S earns below 30 percent of their area's median income. As you can see, seven of the top 10 cities are in California:

10. New York
 9. Santa Rosa, CA
 8. San Luis Obispo, CA
 7. Salinas, CA
 6. San Francisco
 5. San Diego
 4. Santa Cruz, CA
 3. College Station, TX
 2. Miami
 1. Los Angeles

Filling a need:
Beef prices are at record highs. So are pork prices. What to do if you're an American? Eat more chicken! Americans are gobbling down that chicken --the most chicken in three years.

The higher-ups over at Amazon really know how to motivate their employees. MSN.com reports JEFF BEZOS, the CEO of the internet giant, offered warehouse workers up to $5-thouand dollars to leave their jobs! The company isn't downsizing or headed for layoffs, but makes the generous offer every year as a way of encouraging people to think about what they really want in the long run. The bigwig is smart enough to know having people that don't want to be there isn't healthy for the worker or the company.

Those darned SATs:
The SAT is a favorite punching bag these days, with critics saying it should be eliminated from the college-application process.
   But in an essay at Slate, DAVID HAMBRICK and CHRISTOPHER CHABRIS come to the test's defense on several fronts. Those who say the SAT is a lousy predictor of college success are just plain wrong, they write. A slew of research shows that the SAT does "remarkably" well in predicting not only how a freshman will do, but also a senior --and even a new graduate.

   As for the "socioeconomic" knock that the SAT favors those rich enough to hire special tutors, it's exaggerated. What critics fail to mention is all the low-income students who use strong SAT scores to get into a good college, a feat that might have been impossible otherwise.
   The authors say the SAT is similar to an IQ test in that its strength is measuring general intelligence. And while IQ tests have critics of their own, the "bottom line is that there are large, measurable differences among people in intellectual ability," and we'd be foolish to ignore them.

   They write: "Given everything that social scientists have learned about IQ and its broad predictive validity, it is reasonable to make it a factor in decisions such as whom to hire for a particular job or admit to a particular college or university."


Retro Technology:
You might be old enough to remember when the Sony Walkman was cutting edge technology, but kids today have no idea what it is.
   A video of confused children examining a vintage Walkman is going viral online. Millions of people have viewed the YouTube clip showing elementary school kids struggling to figure out what the device is used for. One kid even thinks it might be some kind of phone. The Sony walkman was introduced in 1979, with 385-million units being sold globally.

 

SORRY HAD TECHNICAL ISSUES YESTERDAY, HERE IS SOME MATERIAL:

Tax Day:
Your taxes are due today, postmarked by midnight tonight.
   And if you can't file today, you can file an extension (form 4868) which gets you until Oct 15 to file (though you'll still have to pay any taxes owed, and what you don't pay, you'll have to pay interest on). Hint: if you owe, pay, even if you delay filing. You can even get an installment payment plan from the IRS online.
 
Some Tax Day Trivia:
   --Of the roughly 133 million individual tax returns being filed this year, only about half were filed before April 1st; the rest of us got busy after that. And some 35 million returns get done on the weekend before deadline, so you weren't alone this past weekend.
   --Common mistakes: not signing the return (that's the biggest), bad math (that's the second biggest), forgetting to include a check (if you owe money), and including enough postage. Last thing you want is to get your forms back with insufficient postage, and then get penalized for filing late.
   --If you owe, don't make your check out to the initials "IRS." That's because if the check falls into the wrong hands, they can change the "IRS" to "MRS" followed by someone's name. Instead you should write out the entire three words "Internal Revenue Service." Or blood-sucking weasels.
 
In 1940, corporate America shoulder 50 percent of the total tax burden; last year the Government Accounting Office said corporate America paid 12.1 percent of the total. Between 1996 and 2000, 61 percent of corporate America paid no Income Tax. Among companies listed on the S&P 500, almost one in nine paid an effective tax rate of zero percent --or even lower-- in 2013, according to an analysis by USA Today. Tax rates for American corporations are the second-highest in the world but after you get through the loopholes, they're the world's third lowest. (Well if the Corporate Rate was not so high they would not have to use the Loop-Holes which I may add are LEGAL. -Mike Bradley)
 
More tips:
   --Don't have the money to pay what you owe? You can propose an installment plan by attaching Form 9465 to your return. The IRS will answer within 30 days. They'll also charge you 13 percent interest on past-due balances.
   --Maybe you're getting a refund? About 78 percent of us will, and usually, it's because we overpaid our taxes all year long. Think of it as a return on a bad investment. Another way of looking at it: you gave the government a free loan (talk about a bad investment). Ideally, you want to pay or be owed within a hundred bucks. To figure that out, you need to ask your employer to revise the tax withholding from your paycheck (the lovely W-4).
   --Waiting for a refund? You can call the IRS Teletax number to find out if it's ready  and on its way, or if there's a problem. Call 800-829-4477.
 
Even more tips:
   --Questions? There's an IRS taxpayer help line, open from 8 am to 5 pm. 800-829-1040. Keep in mind, though, that helpers don't always give correct info. A Congressional study last year found they were wrong 40 percent of the time, and if you follow their wrong instructions, it's not their fault, so double-check everything.
   --It's a good idea to photocopy all your tax forms and keep your own records. The IRS loses an average of 2-million documents a year.
   --For whatever reason, some people never get their refunds. They've moved or provided an incorrect address. The IRS has nearly $100 million in undelivered tax refund checks. Think you're due? Call 'em: 1-800-829-1040, or go to the "Where's My Refund?" section on the IRS home page at irs.gov.
   -- It says a lot about the eloquence of documents when you consider that the Gettysburg Address is 269 words long, the Declaration of Independence, 1,337 words, the Holy Bible is only 773-thousand words. The U-S tax code began in 1913 with 11,400 words. Today? Try over 8 million words. And every time it changes, they don't eliminate any words, they just keep adding new ones.

Foreign News:
The Pentagon said yesterday that a Russian fighter jet made several, close-range passes near an U.S. warship in the Black Sea over the weekend. That fighter made about a dozen passes in a 90-minute period on Saturday.
   The jet flew within about one-thousand yards of the USS Donald Cook, at about five-hundred-feet above sea level, and did not respond to radio calls from the U.S. ship made on international emergency channels.

Big Money, Big Problems:
The cost of beef has hit a 27-year high.
   With cattle herds dwindling and a growing foreign demand from countries like China and Japan, average American beef prices have risen to $5.28 a pound.
   Droughts have forced many ranchers to reduce their herds, and even though the rain has been better this year, they are still in a rebuilding state, which means beef prices will likely remain high for at least another few years.
   Some ranchers are concerned that consumers will be deterred from buying beef at the higher prices, and restaurants --both chains and local places-- may start cutting down on beef items and portions.

BroadwayLast week's hot Broadway shows (Playbill magazine):
10. "If/Then," $965K;
9. "Motown," $1.07 million,
8. "Les Miserables," $1.15 million;
7. "Matilda," $1.17 million,
6. "Aladdin," $1.17 million,
5. "A Raisin in the Sun," $1.18 million,
4. "Kinky Boots," $1.42 million,
3. "The Book of Mormon," $1.59 million,
2. "The Lion King," $1.91 million,
1. "Wicked," $1.93 million,
   FYI: Just outta the top-10: "The Phantom of the Opera," $958K; "Cinderella," $946K; "Beautiful," $917K; "All the Way, $893K; "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," $884K; "Bullets Over Broadway," $813K; "Of Mice & Men," $796K; "Rocky," $754K; "Newsies," $744K; "Jersey Boys," $665K; "Pippin," $630K; "Mamma Mia," $627K. (04/07-13)

Ratings:
Leaving "Good Morning America" may have been the best thing JOSH ELLIOTT could do for the show. RadarOnline.com reports that ratings for the morning staple actually went up the first week after his departure, enjoyed the best numbers in four weeks and beat out the "Today" show by 715-thousand viewers.
   Mr. Elliott made headlines late last month with the news that he was ditching his news responsibilities for a gig at NBC Sports.
# # #

Tough debut for "Mad Men" --the seventh season premiere dropped 1.1 million viewers from last season-- it was the series' least-watched premiere since the second season in 2008.
   The surprising loss may have more to do with the night's competition --people may have stayed with HBO after "Game of Thrones" or been checking out the MTV Video Music Awards.

New album releases today (Apr 15):
    --Bee Gees, "Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991"
   --Disney's Karaoke Series, "Frozen"

   --Ingrid Michaelson, "Lights Out"
   --Jack Bruce, "Silver Rails"
   --Oak Ridge Boys, "Boys Night Out"

   --Rodney Crowell, "Tarpaper Sky"
   --Secret Sisters, "Put Your Needle Down"
   --Sevendust, "Time Travelers and Bonfires"
   --The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo), "The Both"
   --Ziggy Marley, "Fly Rasta"
   --o--

Music DVDs out today:
   --"Billy Bragg, Live At The Union Chapel"
   --"George Jones, Bartender Blues"
   --"Led Zeppelin, Good Times Bad Times"
   --"Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sweet Home Alabama" (Blu-ray)
   --"Luciano Pavarotti, "Voice For The Ages"
   --"Yes, Live at Hemel Hempstead Pavillion, UK, 1971"

Out on video today (Apr 15):
   --"Anger Management: Volume 3"
   --"Black Nativity"
   --"Date and Switch"
   --"Double Indemnity" (1944)
   --"Great Expectations" (2012)
   --"Mallrats"
   --"The Nut Job"
   --"Reality Bites" (Blu-ray) 20th Anniversary Edition
   --"Ride Along"
   --"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (2013)
   --"Uncle Buck" (1989)
   --"Vanilla Sky"
 

   TV Shows:
   --"Farscape: Complete Fourth Season" 15th Anniversary Edition
   --"Ripper Street: Season Two"

What your favorite fast food says about you
   1. Cheeseburger with everything --you have a lust for life and want to enjoy everything it has to offer, but are still relatively traditional.
   2. Plain hamburger --you enjoy indulging, but always have to deny yourself something.
   3. French fries --what was that? Oh, you have a short attention span.  

   4. Taco --you like to experience new cultures, adore the travel channel and looking at people's adventures on Instagram, but don't care to leave home. Chances are you haven't been to your dream destination because the food is different, the electrical sockets are weird and you can't understand what people are saying.
   5. Shake --you may seem like an ice queen to the outsider, but may be a hurt little girl that's afraid to let her feelings show. This frozen choice from the big, plastic menu means you're simply seeking comfort.
   6. Fried chicken --you're totally laid back and will fix your own motorcycle, make mud pies with the kids, dig in the dirt and adore the messiness of life.
   7. Salad --there's lots of guilty pleasures available and this is your top choice? You're confused.
   8. Chicken nuggets --life can be a bit overwhelming and is best enjoyed in bite-sized pieces. You probably need lots of breaks, schedules, Post-Its and reminders.
   9. Donut --sweet, well-balanced, generous and a soft heart, to boot! Congratulations on being able to roll with life. (Source: TheStir.com

 

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 14, 2014 -- 11:22am

 

 

Monday (04-14): International Moment of Laughter Day; Reach as High as You Can Day, Dictionary Day, National Pecan Day, Pan American Day, Children With Alopecia Day, Ex Spouse Day. National Library Week, Week of the Young Child.
   Passover begins at sunset tonight.

Birthdays include: Actors ADRIEN BRODY (41), ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL (46), BRAD GARRETT ("Everybody Loves Raymond" --54), PETER CAPALDI ("Dr. Who" --56) actresses ABIGAIL BRESLIN ("Little Miss Sunshine" --18), SARA MICHELLE GELLAR ("Buffy" --37), JULIE CHRISTIE (73). Rapper Da BRAT (40), MARTYN LeNOBLE (Porno for Pyros --45); country's LORETTA LYNN (82), RICHIE BLACKMORE (Deep Purple --69), BARRETT MARTIN (Screaming Trees --47). MLB greats DAVE JUSTICE, GREG MADDUX (both 48) and PETE ROSE (73). FRANK SERPICO (78). The late ROD STEIGER, ANTHONY PERKINS & Sir JOHN GIELGUD were also born this day.

Anniversaries: Famous Last Words: "I'll see you later." So said JOHN JACOB ASTOR to his wife, MADELINE, after putting her into one of the last Titanic lifeboats and giving up his seat to another female passenger, the night of April 14-15, 1912.

   --Eleven years ago (2003) singer LUTHER VANDROSS suffered a stroke at his home in New York.

   --TIGER WOODS became the third golfer to win The Masters in two consecutive years. (2002)

   --20 years ago, BILLY JOEL and CHRISTIE BRINKLEY announced plans to divorce (1994).
   --75 years ago, "The Grapes of Wrath" by JOHN STEINBECK was published, 1939.

Guilty Pleasures:
No winner in Saturday night's drawing for the Powerball Lottery. That means Wednesday night's drawing is valued at $110 million ($64 million cash value). Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, DC and the U-S Virgin Islands. Chances of winning the grand prize (all five numbers plus the powerball) are 1 in 175.2 million.

The 411:
Three people were killed and one was critically wounded yesterday following shootings at the Jewish Community Center and a Jewish assisted living home in Overland Park, KS.
   The victims included a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather.
   Yesterday was the eve of Passover.
   Law enforcement authorities said they had arrested FRAZIER GLENN MILLER, 73, of Aurora, MO, a former Ku Klux Klan "grand dragon." The FBI is investigating it as a hate crime but has not determined that it is one. A local reporter tweeted that upon arrest, Miller yelled, "Heil Hitler!"
   During a 2010 write-in campaign for the US Senate from Missouri, Miller tried to buy radio ads denouncing Jews and the federal government. One ad said, "We've sat back and allowed the Jews to take over our government, our banks and our media."
   The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says Miller has a long history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior.

The White House:
With tomorrow's approaching deadline to file state and federal income taxes, the White House has announced that PRESIDENT OBAMA and First Lady MICHELLE OBAMA paid just under $100,000-dollars in taxes on their a nearly half-million-dollar income last year. In addition to his White House salary, the Obamas reported $116,180-dollars from the president’s work as an author in 2013.
   The Obamas paid about 20.4-percent of their income in taxes in 2013, up from an effective tax rate of 18.4-percent in 2012.


The NY Times is continuing it's vocal criticism of the OBAMA White House and its lack of transparency. Executive Editor JILL ABRAMSON continued the paper's criticism of the administration in a recent interview with PRI's JOHN HOCKENBERRY.
   She said, "The Obama years are a benchmark for a new level of secrecy and control ... It's created quite a challenging atmosphere for the NY Times, and for some of the best reporters in my newsroom who cover national security issues in Washington."
   Abramson added, "There have been seven (lean investigations), and one of them right now threatens my colleague JAMES RISEN who has been subpoenaed in one of these cases... Collectively, they have really, I think, put a chill on reporting about national security issues in Washington ...Sources who want to come forward with important stories that they feel the public needs to know are just scared to death that they're going to be prosecuted... Reporters fear that they will find themselves subpoenaed in this atmosphere."

Your tax dollars at work:
It appears that the old phrase "Discretion is the Better Part of Valor" was on display this past Saturday, when agents from the Federal Bureau of Land Management decided to end a cattle round-up operation that involved a Nevada rancher accused of owing the feds at least $1-million-dollars in grazing fees. With comparisons being made to the Waco Siege and Ruby Ridge --and armed militia members showing up-- the BLM decided to stop the operation aimed at confiscating about 900 cattle owned by CLIVEN BUNDY.
   Despite a court decision against him --and claims by the government that a Desert Tortise must be protected-- Bundy says the the land in question was settled by his Mormon ancestors and the federal government has no jurisdiction there. He says he is willing to pay grazing fees to the state of Nevada.

Politics:
KY GOP Sen. RAND PAUL responded yesterday to recent comments from former FL GOP Gov. JEB BUSH on illegal immigration. Bush raised a few eyebrows among conservatives when --regarding illegal immigrants-- he said, "Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love."
   During an interview aired yesterday on ABC, Paul said, "I think he might have been more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this, but I don’t want to say, 'Oh he’s terrible for saying this' ...If it were me, what I would have said is, 'People who seek the American dream are not bad people... However, we can’t invite the whole world.'"
   Paul added, "When you say they’re doing an act of love and you don’t follow it up with, 'We have to control the border,' people think, 'Well, because they’re doing this for kind reasons, the whole world can come to our country.'"

Sunday Talk Shows

Meet the Press (NBC): 
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary KATHLEEN SEBELIUS insisted that it was her decision to leave the OBAMA administration and that she wasn't forced out due to the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act. In a recorded interview, she said, "The president and I began to talk, you know, after the first of the year... And I went back to him in early March and said, ‘You know, I'm really optimistic we’re going to meet the targets and the enrollment is good, the site is working well. I think once we finish this first chapter you really should begin to look for the next secretary who can be here through the end of your term.’ And that really wasn't a commitment I was willing to make. And he knew that."
   She added, "...I made it pretty clear that that really wasn't an option, to stay on. I mean, I thought it was fair to either commit 'til January of 2017 or leave with enough time that he would get a strong, competent leader."

Fox News Sunday (FOX): 
SC GOP Sen. TIM SCOTT wouldn't give a firm response when asked how he plans to vote on SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL to take over for KATHLEEN SEBELIUS at the Department of Health and Human Services. He said, "There’s no doubt that she was a good choice for OMB (the Office of Management and Budget)."
   But he quickly added, "That does not necessarily make her a good choice for HHS." Burwell was confirmed on a 96-to-0 Senate vote last year for that OMB post.

State of the Union (CNN): 
NY Democratic Congressman STEVE ISRAEL --chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-- pushed back on forecasts of a midterm election disaster for Democrats. He said, "I'm a baseball fan; you never predict the ninth inning in the first inning,"
   He added, "The two most important words were 'in November.' It's not November ...We don't worry about the climate; we build out campaigns. There unquestionably is going to be an issue of voter drop-off; there always is."

Face the Nation (CBS): 
TN GOP Congresswoman MARCIA BLACKBURN pushed back on criticism of Republicans who blocked an equal pay bill last week in the Senate that Democrats say would help women achieve pay parity with men. She said, "The legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers, and what we would like to see happen is equal opportunity and clearing up some of the problems that exist that are not fair to women ...We're all for equal pay."
   She then countered, "The White House paying women 88 cents for every dollar that a guy earns in comparable positions? They need to go clean up their own act first."

This Week (ABC): 
U.S. United Nations Ambassador SAMANTHA POWER alluded to more possible sanctions against Russia as a response to Moscow's continued aggressive moves in and around Ukraine. She said, "Already, the sanctions that we put in place have brought the ruble to an all-time low in terms of its value... The Russian stock market has depreciated by 20 percent. Investors are fleeing, and that's just on the basis of the sanctions that we put in place up to this point. The president has made clear that depending on Russian behavior, sectoral sanctions against energy, banking, mining could be on the table, and there's a lot in between."
   She added, "So, I think we've seen that the sanctions can bite, and if actions like the kind that we've seen over the last few days continue, you're going to see a ramping up of those sanctions."

Foreign News: 
Tension remains high between the U.S. and Russia after pro-Kremlin gunmen mounted a series of co-ordinated assaults on police stations and security buildings on Saturday. Those attacks saw masked men armed with Kalashnikovs and stun grenades seized two police stations and an intelligence headquarters in eastern Ukraine.
   National Security Council spokesperson LAURA LUCAS MAGNUSON said, "We saw similar so-called protest activities in Crimea before Russia’s purported annexation." The weekend assaults took place in the cities of Donetsk and Slavyansk.
   The White House announced over the weekend that VP JOE BIDEN will visit Ukraine a week from tomorrow.
 

Malaysia Air 370 update: Nothing new.
   In fact, since those four strong signals were heard last week, no new electronic pings have been detected. This probably means that the black box's batteries --which are supposed to last 30 days-- have finally died.
   What will happen now: once officials are sure that no more sounds will be discovered, a robotic submersible will be sent down to search for wreckage.

Authorities say the co-pilot of Malaysian Flight 370 made a desperate call on his cell phone before the plane vanished.

Culture Shock:
Parents might wanna be on the lookout for "Glow Stick Parties."
   Promoted through social media, "glow parties," which are billed as alcohol-free, are open to kids as young as 16, but along with the pulsing techno music, glow sticks and strobe lights inside a big ballroom, there are club drugs, like ecstasy or Molly (which is basically ecstasy squared).
   The glow sticks sound innocent enough and investigators say parents might even actually drive their kids to these parties thinking it a safe night out. But experts say the glow sticks enhance the effects of the drug, and dealers will use parties like this to sell their goods.

   The warning stems from one such party planned in New Jersey this past weekend that was canceled at the last minute for reasons that aren't clear, but it involved pressure from law enforcement agencies who say these parties are way more dangerous that parents might think.

What's the Buzz:
There's a total lunar eclipse tonight... the first one in more than three years.
   The eclipse will peak around 3 am (Eastern) and be visible throughout the US and the Western Hemisphere... if you're really curious, head over to the US Naval Observatory's website and check out the link which lets you figure out exactly when the eclipse will happen.
   Basically, the Earth gets exactly lined up between the sun and the moon, which means the moon will have a deep orange or reddish glow for over an hour. Thanks to the refraction of light through the Earth's atmosphere, the moon never goes entirely dark.

Interestingly, this will be the first of four, "blood-red" eclipses, or what's known as a "tetrad." The next one will occur on Oct 08, and then next year on Apr 04 and Sep 28.
   This has been interpreted by a couple of Christian preachers to mean that big changes are coming. One, MARK BILTZ, believes the tetrad is a sign that the Second Coming of Christ will coincide with the last "Blood Red Moon"; the other, JOHN HAGEE, believes the eclipses are a sign of a change for Israel.

   In his book, "Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs," Biltz cited Joel 2:31, which says the moon will turn to blood "before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes."
   In his book, "Four Blood Moons," Hagee says the last four occasions of four "Blood Moons" which coincided with Passover also corresponded to four big events in Jewish history:
   --in 1493-94 the Jews were expelled from Spain
   --in 1949-50 it was the aftermath of the Arab Israeli War
   --in 1967-68 the tetrad began right before the Six Day War.

This weekend's hot movies (Box Office Mojo): 
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is still number one --but not by much. It beat out "Rio 2" by a couple of million bucks. Both films, however, pulled in four times as much as KEVIN COSTNER's film, "Draft Day," which was beaten by the horror film, "Oculus," --both films taking in around $10 million. The rest of the top-10:

10. "Mr Peabody & Sherman," $1.8 million,
9. "Muppets Most Wanted," $2.2 million,
8. "The Grand Budapest Hotel," $4.1 million,
7. "God's Not Dead," $5.5 million,
6. "Noah," $7.4 million,
5. "Divergent," $7.5 million,
4. "Draft Day," (debut), $9.7 million,
3. "Oculus," (debut), $12 million,
2. "Rio 2," (debut), $39 million,
1. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," $41.3 million.


Golf:
BUBBA WATSON shot a three-under-par 69 yesterday in Augusta, GA, fending off JORDAN SPIETH to win the Masters for the second time in three years.
   Watson, who finished at eight-under-par 280, also won in 2012.
   Spieth shot a 72 to tie for second, three strokes back, with JONAS BLIXT (71).
   Entering the day, Watson was tied for the lead with Spieth, 20, who was trying to become the youngest champion in Masters history.
   Watson trailed by two strokes as they headed to the eighth hole, but he reclaimed the lead by making two straight birdies as Spieth made consecutive bogeys.

Going Geek-dot-com /Caught in the Web:
That Heartbleed security bug everyone was talking about last week? The NSA knew about it for about two years, according to Bloomberg News, and refused to make the security flaw public "in pursuit of national security interests."
   If Bloomberg's timeline is correct, then the NSA discovered the flaw almost as soon as it was introduced in Deecember of 2011.

   Heartbleed is a security bug that potentially exposes sensitive consumer information on openSSL security protocols, which are used by as much as two thirds of the web to secure traffic.
   Bloomberg's story relied on two sources, "people familiar with the matter." The NSA declined to comment to Bloomberg for the story, but has released a statement denying any prior knowledge of Heartbleed.

Weird science:
How long is a "moment"?
   If you're aiming to live in the present, you'll want to restrict yourself to the last 15 seconds because, according to a new study, that's how long we perceive a moment to be.
   A group of U-S researchers say it's not just a split second: Instead, our minds seem to blur together what's happening right now with what's happened over that brief period. In other words, "what you are seeing at the present moment is not a fresh snapshot of the world but rather an average of what you've seen in the past 10 to 15 seconds."

   The researchers came to this conclusion using Gabor patches --small arrangements of lines. Twelve participants were shown the patches as they flashed onto a screen; one appeared every five seconds. Subjects then said which direction the lines tilted, but got them slightly wrong, influenced by lines they had seen over the past 15 seconds.
   "It's a trade-off the visual system makes," says the author of th study. Imagine, he says, trying to read a street sign while driving in the rain: "If you were sensitive to every little fluctuation in vision you’d have a very difficult time reading the sign."

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 11, 2014 -- 1:53pm

 

Friday (04-11): International "Louie Louie" Day, 8-Track Tape Day, Barbershop Quartet Day, Day of Silence, National Pet Day, World Parkinson's Disease Day, Education and Sharing Day. National Submarine Day, Global Youth Service Day.

Birthdays include: Singers JOSS STONE (27), NIGEL PULSFORD of Bush (51), LISA STANSFIELD (48), NEVILLE STAPLES (59), STUART ADAMSON (56), Broadway's JOEL GREY ("Jennifer's dad --82), and BILL IRWIN (64); actor PETER RIEGERT ("Dads" --67). Actresses LOUISE LASSER (75), JENNIFER ESPOSITO ("Blue Bloods"--41), ETHEL KENNEDY is 86. Flmmaker VINCENT GALLO ("the Brown Bunny") is 53. Pint-sized former kid actor MASON REESE is 49 today.

Anniversaries: The first U-S submarine was launched this day. On April 11, 1900, the Navy commissioned the USS Holland, whose first dive lasted for 11 minutes and only went down 12 feet. Today the Navy has 56 attack boats and 18 Trident missile subs.

   --EDDIE VAN HALEN and VALERIE BERTINELLI were married in L.A. (1981). The marriage lasted 26 years! She says they broke up because they cheated. He says she cheated first.

   --First Apple computer rolled out (1976). 
   --Anniversary of BOB DYLAN's singing debut, NYC (1961).
   --93rd anniversary of the first sports broadcast on radio. It was on KDKA radio; commentary by Florent Gibson of the Pittsburgh Star news. A fight between Johnny Ray & Johnny Dundee at Pittburgh's Motor Square Garden.

Guilty Pleasures:
No winner in Wednesday night's drawing for the Powerball Lottery. That means Saturday night's drawing is valued at $94 million ($54 million cash value). Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, DC and the U-S Virgin Islands. Chances of winning the grand prize (all five numbers plus the powerball) are 1 in 175.2 million.

The White House: 
Health and Human Services Secretary KATHLEEN SEBELIUS is resigning, giving the OBAMA administration a "fresh face" for the Affordable Care Act heading into this November's midterm elections. The president accepted Sebelius' resignation this week, and will introduce SYLVIA MATTHEWS BURWELL later today as the new HHS boss.
   The 48-year-old Burwell is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget. The president is hoping that Burwell --a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy-- can put a better face on the Affordable Care Act and be better suited to handle any problems down the road.

Along the Primary trail: 
An unidentified woman tossed a shoe former Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON in Las Vegas yesterday, as she delivered a speech at a recycling convention at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Hillary ducked, the shoe missed and the woman was arrested. Hillary later joked about the incident.

What's the Buzz:
The US Census Bureau now says that 81 percent of Americans over age 100 are female.

Money Talks:
A new survey from the National Retail Federation forecasts a decline in Easter spending. On average, those who celebrate intend to spend about $137 on clothes, food, candy, and gifts, down from $145 spent last year. And fewer people, overall, will pay much attention to the holiday: 80 percent have plans to celebrate, down from 83 percent last year.
   About 43 percent in the NRF poll plan to buy new spring clothes, and 89 percent will buy Easter candy. Many families also buy gifts (with total spending expected to hit $2.4 billion, flowers ($1.1 billion) and decorations ($1.1 billion).

Foreign News:
Workers in France are now legally barred from responding to work emails on their own time.
   The deal involves labor unions and the consulting and tech industries. About 1 million workers will be impacted.
   At Fox Business, a U-S labor expert finds it hard to believe the IT industry can manage such a draconian shut-off time. "There’s always something going wrong off the clock—when a computer goes down, it doesn’t go down between 8 am and 5 pm."

   But the French aren't alone in worrying about how phones and tablets expose employees to work long after they go home. In December 2011, Volkswagen announced that servers would stop sending emails 30 minutes after the end of employees' shifts, and only start again half an hour before the person returned to work. Their move was followed by Germany's labor industry.

Store Wars:
Walmart is taking on Whole Foods (referred to as “Whole Paycheck” in some circles) with its announcement that it will be reviving the Wild Oats brand in its stores to make organic foods more accessible. The line of some 100 kitchen cupboard staples like olive oil and black beans are expected to cost about 25 percent less than those sold by competitors, based on price comparisons of 26 national brands. Some of the products could cost half as much as their leading organic competitors’ items.

   Food writers at newspapers across the country are predicting shockwaves through the organic foods industry. “Natural and organic is past the fad stage,” Willard Bishop grocery consulting firm managing partner JIM HERTEL tells the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “What used to be a lifestyle for the best educated and highest incomes is now skewing younger, although it’s still an educated, above-average-income consumer.”
   And that’s a consumer Walmart would like to lure into its big boxes.

Broadcast, cable and video news:
STEPHEN COLBERT will replace DAVID LETTERMAN as host of The Late Show.
   CBS announced the decision in a press release, less than a week after Letterman's announcement that he will retire in 2015.
   It's a five-year deal for Colbert (dollar amount not disclosed). The exact start date won't be known until Letterman figures out a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015. He won't be in his over-the-top right wing pundit character, either, although who knows, maybe it'll be one of his regular bits.
   Check out this behind the scenes look where Colbert briefly drops the character to prep JOHN KERRY for a 2007 appearance on the "Colbert Report."

   Colbert was rumored to have been in talks with CBS before Letterman's announcement, maybe because perhaps CBS knew Letterman was thinking of retiring and conveniently, Colbert's Comedy Central contract is up at the end of 2014.
   Said Colbert: "I'm thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."
   Letterman's response: "Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I'm very excited for him, and I’m flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses."
  Wednesday, before the official announcement, JON STEWART said he thought Colbert would be "amazing" for the "Late Show" job, and said that it would give him the chance to really show off what he can do.

You probably remember MIKE ROWE as a pitchman for home improvement stores after his gig as the host of "Dirty Jobs." Now, TVLine reports he's headed back to TV as the host of CNN’s show, "Somebody’s Gotta Do It," which will show various innovators, do-gooders, entrepreneurs, collectors and fanatics.

TV Briefs:
Turner Classic Movies is doing a MICKEY ROONEY Marathon to honor the late star who died last Sunday at age 93.
   Of his nearly 300 movies, TCM will run 13 films beginning at 6 am (Eastern) on Sunday. Notable films include "A Family Affair" (9:15 am) and "You're Only Young Once," (10:30 am) the first two movies in the Andy Hardy series; There's also "National Velvet" (Midnight) with ELIZABETH TAYLOR and "Babes on Broadway," (2:15 am Monday) one of Rooney's many pairings with JUDY GARLAND.

NBC will be running that "Rosemary's Baby" mini-series during the May ratings period. The four-hour show will be run in two parts and stars ZOE SALDANA and PATRICK J. ADAMS.
   In case you didn't see the 1968 original, which starred MIA FARROW, it's about a young married couple who move into a haunted Paris apartment... after which the pregnant wife fears that her husband may have made a deal with their neighbors --to lend their child for a ritual human sacrifice in exchange for success in his acting career.

Movies opening today (Apr 11): 
Look for the two sequels to vie for the top spot at the box office this weekend. Hollywood insiders believe "Rio 2" and last week's winner, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," will likely wind up at the top of the pack, with KEVIN COSTNER's football film, "Draft Day" and the horror film, "Oculus," a bit further down.

   --"Draft Day," (Comedy, Sports; wide release, rated PG-13), starring GM KEVIN COSTNER tries to save football in Cleveland by trading for a number one pick. With JENNIFER GARNER, ELLEN BURSTYN, DENIS LEARY, FRANK LANGELLA, CHADWICK BOSEMAN, SEAN COMBS.
   --"Rio 2," (Animated, wide release, rated G), with the voices of ANNE HATHAWAY, JESSE EISENBERG, WILL.I.AM, TRACY MORGAN, GEORGE LOPEZ, JAMIE FOXX, ANDY GARCIA, RITA MORENO, BRUNO MARS, KRISTIN CHENOWETH.
   --"Oculus," (Horror, limited release, rated R), starring KAREN GILLAN, KATEE SACKHOFF, BRENTON THWAITES, JAMES LAFFERTY, RORY COCHRANE. Teenage kids whose parents were murdered are released from protective custody but the sister is convinced her parent's deaths were caused by a malevolent supernatural force unleashed through an antique mirror in their childhood home.


You'd think BILLY JOEL is way too famous and way too busy to show up at a school concert, but that's exactly what he did. New York Newsday says he was invited to a tribute concert Wednesday at Deasy Elementary School in Glen Cove, New York. And, there he was, fresh off his motorcycle, sitting in the back of the auditorium as the kids played his music. Billy lives about 10 minutes away so it was a short ride over. The school's principal asked Billy if he wanted to sit down front, but he said he didn't want to make the kids nervous

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 was inducted last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. You won't be able to see any of it, officially, until HBO airs the entire ceremony on May 31st. But, thanks to the bloggers, we can give you some of the highlights:
   --PETER ASHER began the evening by inducting the late BEATLES manager, BRIAN EPSTEIN, and former ROLLING STONES manager ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM who decided not to show up.

   --PETER GABRIEL performed "Digging In The Dirt," and was then inducted by CHRIS MARTIN of COLDPLAY. Peter said (quote), "Watch out for music, it should come with a health warning, it can be so dangerous... it can connect you with people, it can make you think the world should and could be a much better place and just occasionally it can make you very very happy."
   He took the stage again and "Washing Of The Water" with Chris Martin, followed by "In Your Eyes" with YOUSSOU N'DOUR who sang on the original track.

   --KISS was inducted by TOM MORELLO of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. He said (quote), "Simply put, Kiss is the band that made me and millions of others love rock and roll. ...They've inspired everyone from Metallica to Lady Gaga."
   --KISS did not perform, with GENE SIMMONS and PAUL STANLEY sitting at different tables from ACE FREHLEY and PETER CRISS. The drama over the last few weeks was put aside and Gene actually gave a very touching and moving speech. He said (quote),"To Ace Frehley whose iconic guitar playing who’s been imitated but never equaled ...to Peter Criss whose drumming and singing and there’s not a guy who beats the sticks who sounds just like Peter. Something happened 40 years ago, I met the partner and brother I never knew I had, Paul Stanley. You couldn’t ask for somebody more awesome to work with."
   Paul took a direct shot at the Rock Hall's nominating committee: "(Fans) don’t want to be spoon fed by a handful of people choices," says Stanley. "The people pay for tickets, the people buy albums, the people who nominate do not. Let’s not forget that these are the people who make it all possible. We just benefit from it."

   --
CAT STEVENS, now just known as YUSUF, was inducted by ART GARFUNKEL. Yusuf sang "Father & Son," and "Peace Train" backed up by a choir.
   --LINDA RONSTADT was not there, but she was inducted by GLENN FREY of the EAGLES who was once part of Linda's backing band. An all-star group of female singers paid tribute to Linda. CARRIE UNDERWOOD did Linda's first hit, "Different Drum," written by MIKE NESMITH of THE MONKEES. BONNIE RAITT and EMMYLOU HARRIS teamed up for "Blue Bayou," a ROY ORBISON song that Linda sang so well. SHERYL CROW did "You're No Good" and STEVIE NICKS sang "It's So Easy" backed up by all the ladies.

   --The seemingly endless part of the evening was up next as BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN inducted the E STREET BAND. He gave a long speech, and then every surviving member did too, including early members DAVID SANCIOUS and VINI "MAD DOG" LOPEZ. Naturally, there was a touching moment for the late CLARENCE CLEMONS. Bruce got very choked up, of course. After all of the acceptance speeches, which lasted close to an hour, Bruce and the E Street Band did the "E Street Shuffle." Then came, "The River" and "Kitty's Back."
   --HALL & OATES were inducted by QUESTLOVE of THE ROOTS. The duo started to play and the monitors went out. So, they stopped. DARYL HALL said, "What, did Bruce blow them out?" Eventually, everything was fixed and Hall & Oates did "She's Gone."

   --Finally, it was time to induct NIRVANA. MICHAEL STIPE of R.E.M. did the honors. He said (quote), "Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard. Keep in mind the times, this was the late 1980s. The idea of America --that hopeful idea-- had been dismantled."
   KRIST NOVOSELIC and DAVE GROHL accepted the honor. Krist said, "I wish Kurt was here tonight." Kurt's widow, COURTNEY LOVE, thankfully didn't say very much, and Kurt's mom said (quote), "I just miss him so much, he was such an angel."

   Then came the performances. The big rumor came true. JOAN JETT joined the surviving members of Nirvana for "Smells Like Teen Spirit." KIM GORDON of SONIC YOUTH joined in to sing "Aneurysm." ANNIE ST. VINCENT took the mic for "Lithium," and the evening closed with "All Apologies," sung by LORDE.
   The show ran a total of five and a half hours. There was no ending jam.

Going Geek-dot-com /Caught in the Web:
Starting Monday, the internet-connected world was introduced to a new bug, colorfully named Heartbleed, that has exposed about two-thirds of web servers --and probably about a quarter of all sites-- to potential pilfering of sensitive, supposedly encrypted information: passwords, credit card numbers, etc. Google engineers discovered the bug last week in the OpenSSL encryption software, then quietly notified OpenSSL, which started secretly helping companies patch the bug before going public amid fears that hackers had discovered the hole, too.

   OpenSSL is the protocol websites use to authenticate themselves to their own serves so they can access information --secure information that we uses of those websites have given them.
   It's unknown if this was done by a hacker, but it seems more likely this was a mistake in the way the code was written. Using a simply analogy, the code is supposed to be like a lock that keeps your information safe. The way the code was written, the lock can be picked. Companies have been scrambling to patch that code to secure the lock.
   How bad is the breach? "The worst vulnerability since mass-adoption of the internet," said one cybersecurity expert. Why? Because this security lapse has been there since December 2011. That's obviously scary, not just because of the length of time but because no one knows to what extent this breach has been exploited.

   What can you do about it? Unless you're an IT person at a bank or social media service or other websites that relies on OpenSSL encryption, not a whole lot. Those companies have to update their encryption — a process that involves more than just affixing the OpenSSL patch.
   Once a vulnerable site is secure again, you should change your password. Seriously, change it. If a site hasn't fixed the encryption problem, changing your password is useless, or worse.
   How can you tell? CNET has a list of popular sites and their Heartbleed status. And a company called LastPass has a useful tool where you can enter any website and it will tell you its vulnerability and advise you what to do. Good luck.

What's new?
Scientists say they have figured out a way to make ethanol without corn. Instead, they would use carbon monoxide gas.
   Researchers saturated water with the gas, then zapped it with a novel device featuring two electrodes, one made of what they're calling "oxide-derived copper," to convert it into fuel.
   The lead researcher emphasizes that these are "just laboratory experiments today," but he expects to have a prototype device ready in two to three years.

   The environmental implications are profound. Critics of ethanol say it drives up food prices and consumes loads of land and water. It can take more than 800 gallons of water to grow enough corn to make 3 gallons of ethanol. What's more, researchers envision a two-step process in which the carbon monoxide is derived from carbon dioxide in the air, providing an "economic incentive" for scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere. The new process could also work on a far smaller scale than biomass methods, such as rooftop solar panels generating fuel that's kept in water heater-sized tanks.
   Details in the journal Nature.

 

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 10, 2014 -- 2:57pm

 

Thursday (04-10): ASPCA Day, Salvation Army Founders Day, Golfers' Day, National Siblings Day, Safety Pin Day, Farm Animals Day. Also, it's National Alcohol Screening Day --do you have a drinking problem? Two organizations today are offering free anonymous consultations, and referrals, if needed, at more than two-thousand locations. The Masters Golf Tournament begins in Augusta, GA today, and runs through Sunday.

Birthdays include: Sportscaster JOHN MADDEN (78). Actors STEVEN SEAGAL (63), HALEY JOEL OSMENT (26), MAX VON SYDOW (85), ORLANDO JONES (46), "Ally McBeal's" 'The Biscuit,' PETER MacNICOL (60). Actresses CHYLER LEIGH ("The Practice" --32), and SHAY MITCHELL ("Pretty Little Liars --27). KENNETH "Babyface" EDMONDS (57), KENNY LATTIMORE (44); Q-TIP (43), KATRINA LESKANICH (Katrina & the Waves, 54), AMANDA "A-J" MICHALKA (23, of "Ally & A-J"); MANDY MOORE (30). Stray Cat BRIAN SETZER (55), BUNNY WAILER (67), "M*A*S*H's" "Col Potter," the late HARRY MORGAN; and the late "Dandy" DON MEREDITH were born this date.


Anniversaries: 98th anniversary of PGA founding, 1916.
   --44th anniversary of the official breakup of the BEATLES. It happened on April 10th, 1970, when PAUL McCARTNEY sued the other three to dissolve their musical and business partnership. Paul released his first solo album, "McCartney," one week later.

   --EMINEM was sentenced to two years' probation for carrying a concealed weapon outside a Michigan nightclub (2001).

   --Comedian SAM KINISON was killed in a car accident. (1995).

   --The RMS Titanic left England on its maiden voyage to New York (1912). It would hit and iceberg and sink on the night of April 14-15, 1912.

Guilty Pleasures:
No winner in last night's drawing for the Powerball Lottery. That means Saturday night's drawing is valued at $94 million ($54 million cash value). Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, DC and the U-S Virgin Islands. Chances of winning the grand prize (all five numbers plus the powerball) are 1 in 175.2 million.

The President at play: 
PRESIDENT OBAMA attended a memorial service at Fort Hood yesterday for victims of the base's latest shooting rampage, its second in five years. He said in part, "For you, the families, no words are equal to your loss. We are here on behalf of the American people to honor your loved ones and offer whatever comfort we can. But know this, we also draw strength from you."
   He added, "Part of what makes this so painful is that we've been here before. This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago. We must honor these men with a renewed commitment to keep our troops safe, not just in battle, but on the home front as well."

After attending that memorial at Fort Hood, PRESIDENT OBAMA used an appearance at a Texas fundraiser to blast Republicans in Congress. Appearing at the home of a Houston trial lawyer, he said, "This has become the least productive Congress in modern history, recent memory. And that's by objective measures --just basic activity."
   The president also attended an earlier fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

Politics:
Republicans in the Senate filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act yesterday, a bill that seeks to allow female workers to compare salaries without the threat of employer retaliation, requires companies to explain pay disparities, and permits those discriminated against to seek damages.
   The legislation needed 60 votes to open debate. Republicans called the bill a distraction from Democrats' record on the economy. Democrats accused Republicans of "obstruct[ing] equal pay for equal work."

The whole LOIS LERNER mess got a tad more interesting yesterday. The Washington Times reports that House Ways and Means Committee Republicans are reportedly not ruling out the use of the chamber's "inherent contempt" authority if Attorney General ERIC HOLDER refuses to act on the panel's accusations against THE former IRS official.
   The committee voted Wednesday to seek an investigation of whether Lerner violated federal law by using her power to ensure that right-leaning groups were targeted for extra scrutiny by the agency. Among those tools the House could use is its “inherent contempt” authority under the Constitution, initially exercised in 1795 during the First Congress and on multiple occasions thereafter. Lerner could actually be arrested, and held until January 2015 when a new Congress is seated, which could issue another subpoena and throw her in the clink again if she still balks at testifying.

School Violence:
Another school is dealing with the trauma of violence on campus.
   Yesterday morning, more than 20 students were injured by a teenager who attacked a Pittsburgh-area high school brandishing two knives. Four of the victims are hospitalized in serious condition, with at least three of them admitted into the operating room immediately. One who was stabbed in the liver remains in critical condition.
   The suspect, 16-year-old sophomore ALEX HRIBAL, is in custody after he was tackled by a principal and a security guard. He's being charged as an adult with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. The motive remains unclear, but police are investigating reports of a threatening phone call between Hribal and another student last night. It wasn't clear which of the two made the call.

   The attack began in a classroom when Hribal pulled out two 8-inch kitchen knives and began slashing students. He reportedly followed his classmates as they fled into the hallway and stabbed others as he ran.
   During the assault, he "was very quiet," said one student. "He just was kind of doing it."
   A doctor at a nearby hospital said a female student with "an amazing amount of composure" likely saved the life of one of the more seriously injured male students by applying pressure to his wounds. That appears to be junior GRACIE EVANS, who tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "My friend was on his stomach, and the other kid who was severely injured was told to sit up. I knew that wasn't right. I said to a few students, we need pressure on this wound, and they gave me some paper towels, and I held pressure on that wound for about 10 minutes."

   Let's close with a little celebration of how normal kids react to something awful. One of the kids who suffered minor injuries in the attack has already posted a selfie.
   That'd be NATE SCIMIO, who's standing in a hospital gown, pointing to he bandaged wound while wearing a look on his face that says, "It's all good." And good on Nate for being a genuine hero kid: According to a tweet, Nate pulled a fire alarm and yelled to get kids out of the way of the attacker.

The Banksters:
Even though some are trying to improve their consumer policies and reduce hidden fees, banks are still making a pretty penny off their customers.
   According to an annual study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, banks made some $32 billion in overdraft fees alone in 2012. The median penalty is $35, which 14 of the largest 44 banks charge. Free checking is also down, as banks are increasingly finding it unprofitable to cover the operations costs to maintain free accounts for customers.
   Just 59 percent of banks surveyed offered free checking in 2014, down from 82 percent in 2009.
   Many of these are the very same banks that begged for government bailouts after a recession largely caused by shady derivatives trading practices conducted --surprise-- by these banks.
   One spot of good news: banks have improved significantly in fee disclosure, with 32 of the 44 largest banks meeting Pew's own standards.

On the Cover of the ROlling Stone:
If your tattoo is about to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, you might want to have a friend proofread it for historical accuracy.
   Unfortunately for JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, her full torso tattoo of the Constitution punctuated with the signature of JOHN HANCOCK on the cover of next month’s Rolling Stone magazine didn’t get a thorough enough edit. The problem?
   John Hancock didn't sign the Constitution. He signed the Declaration of Independence.
   Politico's DYLAN BYERS points out this could have been Rolling Stone's reasoning: "It was on purpose. On 'Veep,' Dreyfus plays a bumbling Vice President --of course she'd get her tattoo of the Constitution wrong!" But, the editors at Rolling Stone missed that opportunity telling the journalism website, the Poynter Institute: "The Declaration of the Independence is on the other side but we couldn't fit in all the signatures."

College prep on a budget: 
There are few things in the world more expensive than children --especially when they pack up and head off in pursuit of higher education. Want to save a few bucks on the road to that degree? Here are five items college students don't need from Benziga.com.
   1. New textbooks
. The cost of books has risen more than 20 percent in the last five years --almost impossible to believe considering you can buy them used, via digital copies or rent them online.
   2. High dollar laptop. Unless your little bumpkins is studying IT or requires high-end software, an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard may be enough.

   3. Ditch the printer. That expensive tuition covers use of the campus computer lab, so throw everything on a 20-dollar flash drive and print for free.
   4. Avoid a car. Freshmen living on campus can probably find someone to provide a ride beyond walking distance, while nine-months of driving will cost you $3,500.
   5. Say no to the credit card. New graduates are already entering the workforce with student loan debt, don't add to the problem with credit card bills. Require your coed to stay on a budget and give them a debit or prepaid card.

Broadcast, cable and video news:
NBC is looking for sitcom ideas. Entertainment Weekly reports the network is running a national campaign which will offer up-and-coming comedy writers from around the country the chance to pitch their sitcom ideas.
   Here’s how it works: Comedy writers will submit their idea via an NBC site set up for the contest. The network will choose up to 10 finalists. NBC will fund each finalist to produce a pilot presentation based on their pitch.
   In case you're interested, you gotta submit one or two video samples (5-10 minutes each) of any pre-existing work, along with up to two video pitches (2-5 minutes per pitch), each describing a unique, original show idea, to www.nbccomedyplayground.com.

Music: 
Looks like the artist formerly known as CAT STEVENS will be at his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction tonight after all. He originally said he didn't want to make the trip, but, he was on "The Tonight Show starring JIMMY FALLON" Tuesday night, which means he's in New York. Jimmy introduced simply as Yusuf, rather than his full name, YUSUF ISLAM. He was wearing a suit jacket, sunglasses and a Cat Stevens "Tea For The Tillerman" t-shirt, and did an incredible medley of "First Cut Is The Deepest" and "Wild World." The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 will be inducted tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. You'll get to see the entire ceremony May 31st on HBO.

   FYI: Tonight's inductees are:
   --Peter Gabriel: Peter is performing; Chris Martin is inducting him
   --Daryl Hall and John Oates: Hall and Oates are performing; Questlove is inducting them
   --KISS: Inducted by Tom Morello
   --Nirvana: Michael Stipe inducting with a rumor that Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear will perform with JOAN JETT singing
   --Linda Ronstadt: Inducted by Glenn Frey; Musical tribute from: Bonnie Raitt, Stevie NicksCarrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow.
   --Cat Stevens: is performing; no word on who is inducting him.

    Ahmet Ertegun Award (nonperformers):
   --Brian Epstein (late Beatles manager)
   --Andrew Loog Oldham (former Rolling Stones manager)
 
   Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award for Musical Excellence (previously the Sidemen category):
   --The E Street Band: Inducted by Bruce Springsteen; E Street Band performing (Marino)

While KISS gets inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 tonight, GENE SIMMONS wants fans to spend more money. BIG money, on a rather cool box set. "KISSTERIA" has 34 newly-remastered vinyl LPs, featuring all 19 studio albums, five "Alive" releases, the four solo albums, and six albums on vinyl that only come with this set. There are also 12 KISS posters, lithographs, a set of dominoes, a KISS cleaning cloth, a KISS turntable mat and more. All of that is stuffed into a hardcore road case. So, what does Gene want you to pay for this? $1,749.99. Oh, and the shipping is free.

 

 

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 09, 2014 -- 10:16am

Wednesday (04-09): Name Yourself Day, Winston Churchill Day, Jenkins' Ear Day, Cherish An Antique Day, Chinese Almond Cookie Day.

Birthdays include:  Playboy's HUGH HEFNER is 88 today. Actresses KRISTEN STEWART ("Twilight" --24); LEIGHTON MEESTER ("Gossip Girl" --28); "Sex & the City's" CYNTHIA NIXON (48), MICHAEL LEARNED, who played Mom-boy on "The Waltons"(75), ELLE FANNING (16). Actor /singer JESSE McCARTNEY (27), TAYLOR KITSCH ("Lone Survivor"--33), and DENNIS QUAID (60), model PAULINA PORIZKOVA (49), married to Ric Ocasek of the Cars); The Strokes' ALBERT HAMMOND, Jr (35), singer JACKIE EVANCHO (14) ; CNN Bigwig JEFF ZUCKER (49); "Rudy" on "The Cosby Show," KESHIA KNIGHT PULLIAM (35), and from the "Jukebox from Hell," the lead singer /drummer with Paper Lace, PHILLIP WRIGHT (yes, we all remember "The Night Chicago Died" --68)! Former "Wild Kingdom" host JIM FOWLER is 82, and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" --JOE SCARBOROUGH-- is 51.

   Also: golfer SEVE BALLESTEROS, the SAN DIEGO CHICKEN, and the late "Frito Bandito" AVERY SCHREIBER and the late Mr. Blue Suede Shoes, CARL PERKINS.

   Does the name CURLY LAMBEAU ring a bell? He was born on this day in 1898, played under Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, and then was the founder, a player for ten years and the coach of the Green Bay Packers, from 1921 to 1949. Yeah, he's the guy the Packers' field is named after.

Anniversaries: Anniversary of Civil Rights Bill passed by Congress, 1966.
   --Anniversary of the invention of dry or powdered milk (1872).

   --The first Public Library opened (1833).
   --15 years ago today: BROOKE SHIELDS and tennis star ANDRE AGASSI divorced after two years of marriage.

   --55 years ago, the first seven U-S astronauts were introduced to the public (1959). Name 'em. Ans: JOHN GLENN, ALAN SHEPHERD, SCOTT CARPENTER, GORDON COOPER, DONALD SLAYTON, WALLY SHIRRA and VIRGIL "Gus" GRISSOM.

The President at play: 
PRESIDENT OBAMA used a high-profile White House event yesterday to try and dare Senate Republicans into supporting the "Paycheck Fairness Act," which faces a vote today. The bill's supporters claim it would help narrow a much talked about pay gap between men and women, which is often illustrated with the phrase that "a woman makes just 77-cents for evey dollar made by a man."
   The president said in part, "I don’t know why you would resist the idea that women should be paid the same as men and then deny that that’s not always happening out there... If Republicans in Congress want to prove me wrong, if they want to show they in fact do care about women being paid the same as men, then show me... They can start tomorrow."

Do American women really make just 77-cents for every dollar that a man makes?
   Well, yes and no. It's complicated.
   If you take into consideration the pay levels for all jobs, held by all Americans, regardless of experience or age, and count all those factors together, then yes, that statement is true.

   However, a more nuanced look shows that 23-cent pay gap exists largely because women tend to choose lower paying careers and professions than men do, and might step away from the working world to raise kids.
   When men and women working the same profession with the same level of experience are compared, that gap shrinks to just a few cents.


One thing that PRESIDENT OBAMA probably didn't count on during yesterday's ceremony was criticism coming from several mainstream media outlets about the male-versus-female pay rates inside the White House. CBS, CNN and the New York Times openly questioned whether the president was practicing what he preached regarding pay for women.

Along Embassy Row: 
Secretary of State JOHN KERRY is accusing Russia of paying people to cause unrest in east Ukraine and create a pretext for an invasion. Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, "What we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary."
   And in Paris, NATO Secretary General ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN added, "We call on Russia to pull back the tens of thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine's borders, engage in a genuine dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities and respect its international commitments."

Foreign News:
North Korean dictator KIM JONG UN denies executing a political rival with a flamethrower, saying the man died in an unfortunate kitchen grease fire.

Getting up to speed:
They've been searching for that missing Malaysian jetliner for a month. What's it costing?
   Reuters did the math and figures that the militaries of Australia, China, the U-S and Vietnam have spent $44 million dollars already, which would put this on track to become the most expensive search in aviation history.
   The $44 million total doesn't take into account civilian aircraft or the cost of accommodating hundreds of intelligence analysts and other personnel worldwide. Add those expenses in, and the total is in the "hundreds of millions of dollars."
   Australia is leading the search and has borne about half the costs so far, though officials there say they may ask others to defray its expenses later. The Pentagon estimates that the US has spent $3.3 million so far.
   As anyone still following this story knows, searchers detected pings over the weekend they suspected might be coming from the plane, which would be sitting at the bottom of the ocean, about three miles down, but with no sign of the pings in the last two days, the search could drag on and on.
   Australia plans to release a submersible to scan the ocean floor, but it hopes to get a more precise location before doing so.

The 411:
A study released yesterday from the Pew Research Center shows that the percentage of mothers who don't work outside of the home increased for the first time in decades.
   In 2012, 29 percent of all mothers were stay-at-home, compared to a modern low of 23 percent in 1999.
   Part of the increase may be due to the fact that the category "stay-at-home" mothers may also include those who are unemployed. In fact, six percent of stay-at-home moms said they didn't work outside the home because they couldn't find a job, compared to one percent of all stay-at-home mothers in 2000. Thirty-four percent of stay-at-home mothers live in poverty, compared with 12 percent of working mothers.

Health and Medical Briefs:
A new CDC report shows that 80 percent of young teens have had sex before ever having a sex ed class.
   The CDC report released yesterday explains that while young teen births (ages 15-17) have gone down dramatically since the 1990s, the 25 percent of young teens who are having sex today are at a real loss for reliable information. The damaging effects of young teen births have long been chronicled, but consider this CDC statistic: only 38 percent of young teen moms finish high school by their 22nd birthday.
   The longer teens can delay having sex, the better. However, giving teens limited or wrong information about sex won't prevent them from having it. That hasn't stopped Mississippi from implementing a abstinence-only sex ed program over the past two years. Under Mississippi law, public schools must teach sex ed, but discussion of effective birth control is banned --the only time condoms are mentioned is to point out their failure rate.
   Mississippi, unsurprisingly, has one of the highest teen birthrates in the country.

Filling a need:
Worried that you've piled your plate too high at the buffet? Researchers at SRI --the folks who created Siri before Apple bought it-- are working on a new app that uses image recognition to provide a fairly accurate estimate of the calories you're about to consume.
   Similar apps already exist, but they either rely on sophisticated and expensive analysis hardware, or they farm the work out to humans via mechanical turk services. SRI hopes for complete independence with its app, based on a photo taken by the user, and other useful data a smartphone can provide.
   For example, if you snap a photo of a burger and your smartphone knows you happen to be dining in a McDonald's, calorie info can automatically be pulled from a database already containing nutritional info for that restaurant's menu. The app can also simply ask the user for clarification on certain items, but overall the goal is to have it be as streamlined as possible.
   And while it can never be 100 percent accurate --it can't tell if it's ground turkey hiding under that burger bun instead of ground beef-- a rough estimate can still be incredibly useful for those on a diet, or athletes needing to closely monitor their food intake. Now if only it included an in-app purchase that made frosting calorie-free.

Lawsuit of the Day:
The son of an 85-year-old woman in a Long Island nursing home is suing the facility after he says a male stripper was hired to dance for his mother.
   An attorney representing the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center says the performance was requested and approved by a committee of residents.
   The lawsuit states that the woman, the very lovely BERNICE YOUNGBLOOD --quote-- "was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her]."
   The son claims that he found a photo of a man grinding on his mom, who was also seen sticking dollar bills into his briefs while other seniors stood around and cheered. Describing the event as "vile," he says dear old mom doesn't have the physical and mental capacity to make such a decision about lap dances.

Stars and their movies: 
DAVID HASSELHOFF is selling off a one-of-a-kind "Knight Rider" car.
   The car, which was made for him by a fan, is part of a bunch of stuff he's selling off at Julien's Auctions.
   The car includes a digital dash and console and comes with over four-thousand sound bites from the classic series. As of last night, there were eight bids and the highest was $27,500. The car is estimated to fetch from $30-$50-thousand dollars.
   Also up for sale at the auction are some clothes he wore in "Baywatch," a "Baywatch" pinball machine, a "Knight Rider"-inspired golf cart and more.

March Madness:
Last night, the women's college basketball championship, it was a clash of unbeatens and it wasn't even close. UConn took control early and never let up, routing Notre Dame, 79-58, to finish 40-0 and win its record ninth national title.
   It was the first championship game in college hoops history featuring undefeated teams.
   The victory also meant that UConn is now the center of the college basketball world with both the men's and women's teams winning the championship in the same year again. UConn did this once before a decade ago. They're the only school to accomplish that feat.

SHABAZZ NAPIER's star performance in Monday night's NCAA championship game is drawing attention to comments made last week that further stoke the debate over whether to pay student athletes.
   Last week, Napier was asked about the National Labor Relation Board's ruling that Northwestern football players were employees who could unionize. Napier said he didn't think he was an employee, and didn't want "hundreds of thousands of dollars," but did think he should be paid. He said, "Sometimes, there's hungry nights where I'm not able to eat," he said. "When you see your jersey getting sold, to some credit, you feel like you want something in return... There are hungry nights when I got to bed and I'm starving."
   Those comments are drawing attention now because CNN featured them in an article Monday, reporting that they'd inspired Connecticut lawmakers to try to allow UConn to unionize.
   One Connecticut lawmaker said, "He says he's going to bed hungry at a time when millions of dollars are being made off of him. It's obscene. This isn't a Connecticut problem. This is an NCAA problem."

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 08, 2014 -- 12:29pm

 

Tuesday (04-08): National Be Kind to Lawyers Day, Buddha Day, Trading Cards for Grown-ups Day, Draw A Picture of a Bird Day, All is Ours Day.

Birthdays include: Actresses KATEE SACKHOFF (34), ROBIN WRIGHT ("House of Cards" --48), PATRICIA ARQUETTE (46), SHELBY YOUNG ("Days of our Lives" --22). "Dukes of Hazzard" star JOHN SCHNEIDER (54), singers JULIAN LENNON (51), rapper BIZ MARKIE (50), guitarist STEVE HOWE (67) from "Yes" and "Asia"; IZZY STRADLIN (ex-G'nR --52); DONITA SPARKS from L7 (51) and ADAM WOODS from "The Fixx." First-ever "Survivor" winner RICHARD HATCH is 51.

   Also: songwriter LEON HUFF (of Gamble & Huff, 72). Sportscaster JIM LAMPLEY (65), sports babe LISA GUERRERO (50), NBA great JOHN HAVLICEK (74). The late First Lady BETTY FORD, the late baseball hall-of-famer, JIM "Catfish" HUNTER, and the late choreographer MICHAEL BENNETT were also born on this date.

Anniversaries: RYAN WHITE died from AIDS after a five and a half year fight (1990).
   --This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Odor Eater. More than 150 million pairs of the anti-stench shoe pads have been sold since 1974, according to the maker.
   --40 years ago, HANK AARON of the Atlanta Braves hit home run number 715, breaking BABE RUTH's record. (1974).

   --FRANK ROBINSON managed his first game, 1975, becoming baseball's first black manager. His Cleveland Indians beat the NY Yankees, 5-3.

   --CLINT EASTWOOD was elected Mayor of Carmel, CA, 1986. Six unlucky punks were immediately shot.
   --The Bald Eagle Protection Act passed, 1940.
   --First milk in glass bottles (1879).

The White House: 
The White House announced yesterday that the OBAMA administration is rolling back some of the more controversial cuts proposed for privately managed Medicare health plans used by the elderly following pressure from insurance companies and lawmakers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that on average, reimbursement rates for so-called Medicare Advantage plans would rise 0.4-percent next year, reversing what was a planned 1.9-percent average reduction.

Politics: 
The Senate voted 59-to-38 late yesterday to OK a bill that revives expired long-term unemployment benefits for five months, sending the bill to an uncertain future in the House. That vote marked an end to a nearly four-month fight in the Senate over the measure.
   However, the bill faces an uncertain course in the House, where Speaker JOHN BOEHNER has said the legislation has “serious problems” and is "unworkable."

The Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee will vote this week to formally ask the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former IRS employee LOIS LERNER. Lerner has been at the center of GOP charges for months that the agency intentionally targeted conservative groups for increased scrutiny of their tax-exempt status.
   The committee will mark up a letter to Attorney General ERIC HOLDER tomorrow accusing Lerner of committing three crimes relating to that alleged targeting. The letter and other information sent to Holder will contain confidential taxpayer information so the markup will be held in private with only Ways and Means members present. Democrats will be able to offer amendments.

Immigration Update: 
No surprise that TX GOP Sen. and Tea Party favorite TED CRUZ is pushing back on comments from former FL Gov. JEB BUSH that some cases of illegal immigration are committed as acts of "love," to improve a family's prospects. Cruz told CNN's JAKE TAPPER, "We’re a nation of immigrants, we need to celebrate that, but at the same time, rule of law matters."
   He added, "If you come down to Texas, and you see the conditions where you see photographs that are heartbreaking of bodies, of women and children left abandoned in the desert... Because they entrust themselves to transnational global criminal cartels who smuggle them in, who assault them, who leave them to die. This is not a humane system and we need to solve the problem."


Caught in the Web:
Today's the day Microsoft is officially dumping Windows XP.
   After today, there will be no new updates by Microsoft for that operating system; no fixes against viruses or other uploads that may be targeting that operating system (and your computer).
   Microsoft XP has been around for nearly 13 years, and since it was such a stable operating system, people kept using it. In fact, an estimate by web firm Net Analytics says as recently as February, as many as 30 percent of computers were still using it. In fact, many ATM machines still use the operating system, even though banks were warned to replace the operating system a year ago.
   If you have the Windows XP operating system and don't use your computer to connect to the internet, then you're probably OK. But if you use your computer to connect to the internet or do email, online banking or use credit cards to pay for online purchases, then you probably should upgrade immediately. The Airlines:

Airlines:

Sad news for air travelers: Several airlines soon plan to nix limes from their inflight service.
   The penny-pinching industry sites the recent uptick in lime prices, which means all your forthcoming mid-air cocktails will have to go without.
   But fear not. The cutbacks of citrus joy slices is apparently "temporary."

Last week's hot Broadway shows (Playbill magazine): 
10. "A Raisin in the Sun," $929K;
9. "If/Then," $931K;
8. "Motown," $1.02 million,
7. "Matilda," $1.10 million;
6. "Les Miserables," $1.15 million;
5. "Aladdin," $1.17 million;
4. "Kinky Boots," $1.35 million,
3. "The Book of Mormon," $1.60 million,
2. "The Lion King," $1.68 million,
1. "Wicked," $1.80 million,
   FYI: Just outta the top-10: "All the Way, $918K; "The Phantom of the Opera," $884K; "Cinderella," $857K; "Beautiful," $868K; "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," $773K; "Bullets Over Broadway," $766K; "Rocky," $753K; "Newsies," $743K; "Jersey Boys," $647K; "Pippin," $616K. (03/31-4/06)

The Supremes:
The Supreme Court quietly rejected two potentially explosive cases yesterday:
   Gay rights: The court announced that it would not take up the highly charged case that began when a New Mexico wedding photographer refused to do the honors for a same-sex commitment ceremony. (Same-sex marriages are not legal in New Mexico, but everyone involved in the case "regards such a ceremony as the equivalent of a wedding.")
   New Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that this amounted to illegal discrimination. That ruling will now stand in New Mexico, but only in New Mexico.
   That's ultimately the gist of the Court's decision. Though the court offered no commentary (as is customary), the takeaway is to let states handle this for now. Also, and surely not unnoticed by the Court, the case had a variety of other complex issues that made it too messy for the justices to rule on whether religious objections can be used to override anti-discrimination laws. (Though that day will surely come.)

   NSA: The justices declined a conservative lawyer's unusual request that it bypass the usual appeals process and immediately take up a case arguing that the NSA violated the Constitution's ban on unreasonable search and seizure when it conducted bulk collections of millions of Americans' telephone records. A lower court had agreed with the lawyer that the program was "almost certainly" unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court's view appears to be to let this case work its way through the lower courts first.

Broadcast, cable and video news:
It's tough to believe, but BARBARA WALTERS is leaving "The View" next month! ABC announced the move yesterday, and said that following her final day as co-host, they'll air a two-hour prime time special. The chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ROBERT A. IGER, released a statement saying it was "impossible to fully convey her impact and influence on television" because she "broke barriers, defied convention, made history and set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years."
   In addition, ABC News headquarters in New York City will be named in her honor. She's been with ABC since 1976.
   On Monday's episode of "The View," she said that she feels "sad" about leaving, but that it "feels right" for her. When she announced her plans to ride off into the sunset last May she said she hopes to "sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women" --and some men --who will be taking her place.

Ratings: 
Great ratings for the season four premiere of HBO's "Game of Thrones" on Sunday.
   The show pulled in 6.6 million total viewers, which made it the most-watched HBO show since "The Sopranos'" finale back in 2007 (which pulled in 11.9 million viewers).
   That's also up 52 percent over last season's premiere as well.

Meanwhile, country music fans were locked into the Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS Sunday night. Overnight Nielsen ratings showed the awards pulled in 14.1 million total viewers, which is down almost 10 percent from last year’s high.

New album releases today (Apr 08): 
   --Black Label Society, "Catacombs Of The Black Vatican"
   --Carlene Carter, "Carter Girl" 
   --Delain, "Human Contradiction"
   --Emmylou Harris, "Wrecking Ball" (CD/DVD)
   --Joan Osborne, "Love & Hate"
   --John Frusciante, "Enclosure"
   --Linda Ronstadt, "Duets"
   --Martina McBride, "Everlasting"
   --MercyMe, "Welcome To The New" 
   --Patton Oswalt, "Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time" (CD/DVD)
   --Rico Love, "Discrete Luxury EP" 
   --Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey, "Going Back Home"

Music DVDs out today: 
   --"The Bobby Darin Show"
   --"Justin Bieber's Believe" (Blu-ray)
   --"Graham Parker: Don't Ask Me Questions"

Out on video today (Apr 08): 
   --"August: Osage County"
   --"Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses"
   --"Bang Bang You're Dead" (1966)
   --"Best Night Ever"
   --"Cavemen"
   --"Funny Face" (1957)
   --"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
   --"Justin Bieber's Believe"
   --"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones"
   --"Sabrina" (1954)

March Madness:
Who had UConn at the top of the bracket?
   A year after missing the tournament because of a poor graduation rate, the Connecticut Huskies won their second NCAA men’s basketball title in four years with a 60-54 victory over Kentucky.
   It was speed over height, experience over youth. Kentucky started five freshmen while UConn brought a veteran roster with three seniors who were part of the Huskies' 2011 title.
   SHABAZZ NAPIER turned in another all-court masterpiece, with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, while his partner RYAN BOATRIGHT, finished with 14 points.
   In the end, the Wildcats were outdone by a more fundamentally sound, more-seasoned group that came into this tournament a seventh-seeded afterthought but walked away with the program's fourth national title since 1999. They're the highest seed to win it all since ROLLIE MASSIMINO's eighth-seeded Villanova squad in 1985.
   Tonight, it's the ladies turn as 37-0 Notre Dame takes on the 39-0 UConn Huskies, the first time two undefeated teams will  face off for the national title. Tip-off time, 8:30pm on ESPN.

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 07, 2014 -- 12:28pm

 

 

Monday (04-07): No Housework Day, 80th National Beer Day, World Health Day, National Snailpapers Day. National Beaver Day, Metric System Day.

Birthdays include: Actors RUSSELL CROWE ("Noah" --50), JAMES GARNER (86), JACKIE CHAN (60), and WAYNE ROGERS ("M*A*S*H" and FOX News --81).
   MTV's BILL BELLAMY (49), NFL football great TONY DORSETT (60), California Governor JERRY BROWN (76); director FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA (75). Football's TIKI and RONDE BARBER (39).
  On the music side, JOHN OATES (66) of Hall & Oates; JANIS IAN (63). Boxer JAMES "Buster" DOUGLAS is 54 and singer CAROL DOUGLAS (no relation), who gave us "Doctor's Orders," is 66. Special effects genius STAN WINSTON is 68. The late TV host DAVID FROST, the late SPENCER DRYDEN (Jeff Airplane, Starship), and the late sitar great RAVI SHANKAR were born on this date.
   That guy known as "The French Spiderman," ALAIN ROBERT, is 52 today. He's climbed 85 buildings and other structures, including the Sears Tower, the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and some of the tallest in the world.

Anniversaries:
   --Happy birthday to the match, invented on this day in 1827 by an English chemist JOHN WALKER. It was accidental, too. He left a mixture of antimony and potash with a stirring stick in it and came back later and tried to scrape the mixture off the stick and it ignited.
   --150 years ago, the first camel race in America took place in Sacramento, CA, 1864.
   --The first successful long-distance TV demonstration took place in NY. (1927).
   --Halfway through a Detroit show in 1992, U2's lead singer BONO picked up a telephone and ordered 10-thousand pizzas when an advertisement for a local pizza delivery service flashed on the big ZOO-TV video monitors. Bono had to settle for 100 and he reportedly tipped the three delivery men $50 each as the pies were passed around the hall to fans.

Deaths: MICKEY ROONEY, the pint-sized actor who was one of MGM's giant box office attractions in the late '30s and early '40s, has died. He's best remembered as the original Hardy Boy, but leaves behind a body of work spanning 80 years and more than 200 films, including "Boys Town" and "The Black Stallion." Rooney, who was married eight times, won two honorary Oscars --in 1938 and 1982-- but made headlines in 2005 when the Fox network rejected a Super Bowl cold remedy commercial as inappropriate because it featured Rooney's bared bottom.
   Original name: JOE YULE. He was 93.

Stand-up comedian JOHN PINETTE. John was found dead in his Pittsburgh hotel room Saturday while on his current tour that was scheduled through June in the US and Canada. The Allegheny County medical examiner's office says foul play is NOT suspected in his death; it was apparently a pulmonary embolism and they did not do an autopsy because John's doctor said he'd been suffering from liver and heart disease. He was 50 years old.

The White House: 
Attorney General ERIC HOLDER told members of Congress on Friday that the Justice Department is investigating high-speed stock trading for possible insider trading. Holder told a House panel, "I can confirm that we at the Justice Department are investigating this practice to determine whether it violates insider trading laws."
   Holder's admission came the same week that regulators and the FBI also confirmed they are looking into potential wrongdoing by high-frequency stock traders.

Immigration Update: 
If former FL GOP Gov. JEB BUSH is looking to score points with conservatives on immigration reform for a possible 2016 White House run, some comments he made yesterday might not help. When asked during a Fox News interview about the issue, he said, "I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place... I'm going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it... The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally... and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work, to be able to provide for their family, yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony... It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family."
   He added, "I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families."

Equal time:
Today's nominee for Political Representative of the Week is JAMES MORAN. The Virginia Democrat says he and his fellow representatives in Congress are in dire need of a raise.
   He told the Congressional newspaper Roll Call, "I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid. I understand that it's widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world." (listen)
   Moran noted that some members live out of their offices to avoid DC's steep prices, even on salaries of $174-thousand.
   "Our pay has been frozen for three years and we're planning on freezing it a fourth year," he says. "A lot of members can't even afford to live decently in Washington."
   He plans to introduce an amendment that would bring back per diem to ease the burden of maintaining two residences --one in their home district, and one in Washington. But acknowledges it doesn't have much of a chance.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government by the families of three American citizens killed by American drones in Yemen. In her decision on Friday, Judge ROSEMARY COLLYER reasoned that senior officials cannot be held personally responsible for money damages for the act of conducting war.
   The families of all three sued over their 2011 deaths in U.S. drone strikes, arguing that the killings were illegal. Also named as defendants were former defense secretary and CIA chief LEON PANETTA and former senior military commander and CIA boss DAVID PETRAEUS.
   In her decision, Judge Collyer wrote in part, "The question presented is whether federal officials can be held personally liable for their roles in drone strikes abroad that target and kill U.S. citizens... The question raises fundamental issues regarding constitutional principles, and it is not easy to answer."

Along Embassy Row: 
Is the U.S. about to bail out on the current round of Middle East peace talks? During a visit Friday in Morocco, Secretary of State JOHN KERRY told reporters, "This is not an open-ended effort, it never has been."
   Kerry added, "It is reality check time, and we intend to evaluate precisely what the next steps will be."

International Affairs: 
Sources tell Reuters that the U.S. government is finalizing a plan to increase training and small-arms shipments for Syrian rebels still battling forces loyal to Syrian President BASHAR al-ASSAD. Under the plan, the U.S. would reportedly send the shipments to moderate rebel factions mostly based in Jordan, along Syria's southern border.
   The additional supplies are likely to be modest and would not include surface-to-air missiles, which could fall into terrorist hands if lost.

Sunday Talk Shows

Meet the Press (NBC): 
Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. MIKE MULLEN pushed back on calls to allow more military personnel to carry guns on bases, in the wake of last week's shooting at Fort Hood, TX. He said, "I'm not one --as someone who has been on many, many bases and posts-- that would argue for arming anybody who is on base. I think that actually invites much more difficult challenges."

   He added, "Certainly we have to do everything we can to protect everybody that’s on base... I'm sure this incident will cause Secretary (of Defense CHUCK) HAGEL to review those procedures. But I’d be much more in the camp of fixing it that way and focusing on the individuals rather than routinely allowing arms on any military base in the country."

Fox News Sunday (FOX): 
Former NSA and CIA Director MICHAEL HAYDEN weighed-in n a possible deal to release convicted spy JONATHAN POLLARD to keep Middle East peace talks going, comparing Pollard to EDWARD SNOWDEN. He said, "I don’t think it’s a good idea just to keep some people at the table, which apparently was the purpose of this offer... It’s almost a sign of desperation that you would throw this in the pot in to keep the Israelis talking with the Palestinians."

   Hayden added, "If this were to take place, the administration would be saying 'Pollard,' and everyone in my old community --the intelligence community-- would not be hearing 'Pollard,' they would be hearing 'Snowden,' and they would believe that this kind of behavior could actually be politically negotiated away and that would be a very disturbing message for the people who provide America with intelligence."

State of the Union (CNN): 
MI GOP Congressman MIKE ROGERS --chair of the House Intelligence Committee-- warned against knee-jerk reactions from the impending release of a report concerning Central Intelligence Agency interrogation techniques. He said, "What worries me about that more than any other statement is that it politicizes this in a way that's horribly counterproductive and likely to lead people to the wrong conclusions."

   Rogers added that the report "is not the Holy Grail, it doesn't answer all the questions. And again, why now in an election year would you bring this up and then to say this is about (former vp) DICK CHENEY... clearly when you say things like that it becomes highly charged politically." (Pacelli)

Face the Nation (CBS):  
White House Senior Advisor DAN PFEIFFER was asked about the recent Supreme Court ruling that removed most limits on aggregate campaign contributions. He said, "Well, this is a real challenge. And the decision in the McCUTCHEON case, just like the one in Citizen's United a few years ago are devastating to the public campaign system."

   He added, "And so in the long run, it may be the only option is a constitutional amendment, which is something the president's talked about in the past. In the short term, the only way to combat the influence of big money is the way the president got elected in 2008 and 2012, which is millions of Americans investing $5, $10, $15. You know, we had hundreds of millions of dollars of big money spent against the president in 2012. But we won, because we had 4.4 million Americans who donated to the campaign at an average (of) less than $60."

This Week (ABC): 
MO Democratic Sen. CLAIRE McCASKILL took General Motors to task regarding 13 deaths tied to defects in its cars. She said, "We had the Citizens United case where the Supreme Court said companies are people... But if, in fact, they are people, then there needs to be some criminal accountability depending on what the facts of the investigation show."
   She added, "The notion that somehow the executive offices had no idea that these lawyers and engineers had dropped a bombshell on them frankly just strains believability."

Getting up to speed:
There's not a lot of hopeful news coming out of Washington state's devastating Oso mudslide --the death toll officially rose to 30 last week, but one grieving woman got some small comfort when her dog, Boomer, was found after 12 days missing.
   Authorities first thought the golden retriever was a victim whose family had been killed in the disaster, but the vets who treated the dog were able to track down his owner, who lives 2 or 3 miles away from the site.
   Although Boomer's current owner wasn't hurt in the landslide, her brother --who used to own the dog before he moved away-- was killed.
   Boomer suffered minor scrapes and a sore hip from his days of wandering on the rough terrain, and he's recovering at Arlington Veterinary Hospital before heading home.

Recall:
TYSON FOODS is recalling a bunch of chicken nuggets sold at various Sam's Club stores across the country. Tyson says customers found some small pieces of plastic in the five-pound bags of the nuggets; the smaller packages are not involved in the recall.
# # #

Fast Food:
Starbucks has put out a list of each city's favorite drink.
   Overall, Americans tend to like the same stuff: Regular coffee is clearly the most popular drink, with lattes a distanct second. But various cities have preferences that stand out from the rest, a drink that's more popular there than in any other city:
   --Tampa loves iced coffee
   --San Francisco loves its soy lattes
   --Portland is more into the eggnog latte
   --The tea latte prevails in Denver
   --Head to San Antonio or Los Angeles, and Frappuccinos are a hit
   --In San Diego, it's the Green Tea Frappuccino
   --This seems a bit odd: In Boston, iced coffee is the most popular choice

   As far as straight coffee is concerned, Starbucks breaks that down into dark, medium and light roasts:
   Dark: Seattle, Boston, Memphis and Minneapolis
   Medium: New York, San Francisco, Portland and Phoenix
   Light: Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Tampa, San Antonio and Charlotte
   Probably not surprising: Seattle residents are more likely than any other Starbucks customer to order an extra shot of espresso with their beverage. They've been drinking coffee for so long, maybe they've built up an immunity.
   (For a full map, go here)

Culture Shock:
Either gays are the next target market for graham crackers or Honey Maid really believes in the equality of all families, because they released a glorious response to people who didn't like the snack company's ads depicting gay couples with their children.
   Last month, Honey Maid launched its "This is Wholesome" ad campaign, a campaign designed to celebrate families of all kinds. The first ad featured gay dads with their son and a newborn. It walks that fine line between sincere and saccharine.

   Predictably, there was a certain amount of backlash, most notably a letter-writing campaign from the One Million Moms.
   "Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves for their latest Honey Maid and Teddy Graham cracker commercial where they attempt to normalize sin," wrote the group. "This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement wholesome."

   Honey Maid could have easily ignored this or hid under the typical corporate double speak you hear when controversy hits. Instead, they produced a response in which messages of hate are transformed into something else entirely.
   In a new ad, two artists printed out each hateful message, rolled up each paper and, on the floor of an empty room, stood them on end until they spelled the word "love." Then they printed out all the praises they received, rolled up each paper and stood them up alongside the hateful messages. There were over 10 times as many positive messages, filling up the rest of the room.
   No response yet from One Million Moms.

Trade Secrets:
The real estate market is finally showing signs of life, so what are you doing to keep up your castle? Home improvement projects may be expensive, but are worth their weight in gold when it's time to sell. Appraiser JOHN BREDEMEYER tells CNN Money that you "definitely" want to keep up with the neighborhood norm, which can make your palace attractive to potential buyers and a more comfortable place to live. Here are three simple upgrades that will cost you $5,000 or less.

   1. Expand your closets. Homes built before the mid-1970's generally have little to no storage, which can be a big turnoff on the open market. Make the most of small spaces with inexpensive organization systems you can find at your local big box store or splurge on a new closet for about $2,000.

   2. Open up the kitchen. Back in the good old days, kitchens were meant for cooking --nothing more or less. Today, however, it's the spot where everyone congregates to grab a snack and catch up. Make it comfortable by allowing lots of room for movement --taking out a wall should set you back between $2-5,000, while freshening up the appliances and countertops doesn't hurt.

   3. Get laundry out of the basement. Making the trek down 50 steps to wash your chonies may not seem like a big deal, but future homeowners probably won't agree. It's not difficult to add a washer and dryer on the second floor --you'll need just a three-by-three space to stack two front loading machines --and should plan to spend about $2,500 for construction.

Computers, and other techno-geek-a-zoid crap:
The official U-S timekeepers are upgrading their systems.
   Since 1999, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has determined the time based on an atomic clock known as NIST-F1. Now there's a new and improved version of the clock --and it's "the most accurate clock of its kind in the world." NIST-F2 boasts three times the accuracy of F1.
   Said one official: "If you could run either of these clocks for 100 million years, NIST-F1 would lose one second; NIST-F2 would lose 1/3 of a second." One second is defined worldwide in terms of oscillations of a cesium atom (9,192,631,770 of those oscillations, to be precise). Both clocks determine the time by tossing 10 million such atoms into the air and using lasers to analyze them.
   What's better about the new clock is that it uses chilled conditions to fight background radiation, thus improving its assessment. Why be so careful? Everything from cell phones to GPS use atomic clock measurements, say researchers. "If we've learned anything in the last 60 years of building atomic clocks, we've learned that every time we build a better clock, somebody comes up with a use for it that you couldn't have foreseen."

Odds to Win "Dancing With The Stars: All Stars" Season 18:
(Bovada Sportsbook):
   --"Price Is Right" host Drew Carey, 33/1 (longshot)
   --NeNe Leakes, all 25/1
   --Singer Cody Simpson, 20/1
   --Actresses Candace Cameron Bure, 15/1
   --Danica McKellar and actor James Maslow, both 10/1
   --Ice dancer Charlie White, 3/1
   --Paraplegic skateboarder Amy Purdy, 5/2
   --Ice dancer Meryl Davis, 7/4 (favorite)

Broadcast, cable and video news:
Loved it or hated it, "How I Met Your Mother's" series finale was one of the most divisive finales ever. And now, the co-creator of the series, CARTER BAYS, says they've decided to put an alternate ending on the DVD of the complete series.
   However, Deadline reports there's not any additional footage --an insider says it's just edited differently than the ending that was broadcast and describes the alternate version as a "happy ending."

Plenty of speculation and even handicapping (see below) on the likely front-runner to replace DAVID LETTERMAN as the host of "Late Night." The website Mashable.com calls STEPHEN COLBERT "the front-and-center candidate" for the job.
   Former Deadline editor NIKKI FINKE tweeted the same rumor.
   No offer has been made, but according to Mashable's sources on both sides of the possible deal, Colbert was talking to CBS before Letterman announced his retirement. Colbert's own Comedy Central contract is up at the end of 2014, and Letterman plans to leave Late Night in "2015, for the love of God!"
   Questions still left to resolve: Whether Colbert wants to make the jump to network TV, whether Comedy Central wants to get into a bidding war with CBS to keep him, and which Stephen Colbert the network wants to hire, the right-wing-caricature he's spent all these year playing, or "real guy" Stephen Colbert.

Odds on who'll replace David Letterman as host of "The Late Show":
(source Bovada Sportsbook)
   --Alec Baldwin, 75/1 (longshot)
   --Jay Leno, 50/1
   --Tina Fey, 33/1
   --Howard Stern, 25/1

   --Chris Rock, 20/1
   --Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, and Louis C.K., all 15/1
   --Neil Patrick Harris, 10/1
   --Craig Ferguson, 7/1
   --Chelsea Handler, 6/1
   --Jon Stewart, 11/2
   --Conan O'Brien, 5/1
   --Stephen Colbert, 5/2 (favorite)

Jimmy Fallon's Top-10 reasons Letterman is retiring:
(from last Friday night's show)
10. Wants to quit while he’s still able to compete on Dancing With The Stars
9. Made millions selling crack to Rob Ford
8. Time slot was getting too “Jimmyesque”
7. He’s not retiring --he’s “consciously unhosting”
6. Stop! Hammock time!
5. Hillary/Letterman 2016!
4: After 31 years, finally got through to the Obamacare website
3. One word: E-L-Oprah
2. Jay Leno needs a partner for next season’s Amazing Race
1. Jimmy Fallon is stealing his bits

10 memorable Letterman quotes:
10. "I think the longer we just sit here, the more uncomfortable it will make Jay." --Letterman after sharing awkward silence with Conan O'Brien following the fellow talk show host's mix-up with Jay Leno in 2012.

 9. "You're going to be sick for weeks. You won't be out of the egg for a month." --Letterman to Lady Gaga after the outlandish pop star put his notes in her mouth during an appearance in 2011

 8. "The creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who worked for me on this show. Now, my response to that is yes I have. I have had sex with women who worked on this show. Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would, especially for the women." --Letterman addressing an extortion scandal that led him to bare his infidelities on the show in 2009.

 7 "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight." --Letterman to Joaquin Phoenix after the "Walk the Line" star's bizarre 2009 interview in which he claimed he was dropping acting to become a hip-hop musician.

 6. "This doesn't smell right. This is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody's putting something in his Metamucil." --Letterman after Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain canceled his appearance at the last minute in 2008.

 5 "How'd you like being in jail?" --Letterman to Paris Hilton following her lockup in 2007.

 4. "If you didn't believe it before --and it's easy to understand how you might have been skeptical on this point --if you didn't believe it before, you can absolutely believe it now: New York City is the greatest city in the world." -- Letterman during his monologue on his first show back after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

 3. "While I was gone, I had quintuple bypass surgery on my heart. Plus, I got a haircut." --Letterman during his monologue on his first show after heart surgery in 2000.

 2. "I can't thank you enough for that." --Letterman after Drew Barrymore flashed her breasts to him on his birthday in 1995.

 1. "I wanna thank you folks for coming in for this run-through show. Thank you very much. This, of course, will never see the light of day. You won't miss a thing tonight." --Letterman to the audience after Madonna repeatedly cursed during an interview in 1994.

Hollywood

This weekend's hot movies (Box Office Mojo): 
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" stomped everything in its path, pulling in $96.2 million to take the top spot at the weekend box office --more than five times the take of the second place movie, "Noah." The rest of the top-10:

10. "Non-Stop," $1.8 million,
9. "Need for Speed," $1.8 million,
8. "Sabotage," (debut), $1.9 million,
7. "Mr Peabody & Sherman," $5.3 million,
6. "Muppets Most Wanted," $6.2 million,

5. "The Grand Budapest Hotel," $6.3 million,
4. "God's Not Dead," $7.7 million,
3. "Divergent," $13 million,
2. "Noah," $17 million,
1. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," (debut), $95 million.
# # #

Stars and their movies: 
Oscar-nominated actor CHIWETEL EJIOFOR (pron. CHEW-i-tel EJ-i-oh-for) is reportedly up for the role as the bad guy in the next James Bond movie.
   Daily Variety says the "12 Years a Slave" actor is in talks to be in the film, with DANIEL CRAIG back as 007 and RALPH FIENNES, BEN WHISHAW and NAOMIE HARRIS set to return as well. SAM MENDES, who directed “Skyfall,” will also be directing the new one.

The Reel Deal:
Filming on the latest "Star Wars" movie has begun.
   Disney chairman ALAN HORN leaked the story when he was speaking to students at the Loyola Marymount School of Film and Television in Los Angeles, and said "We're actually shooting some of it now."
   MTV News reports it's likely just "second unit" stuff --location shots and B-roll for use in effects-heavy pieces; rather than having a cast on set.
   Of course, the big rumor is that the three original "Star Wars" actors --MARK HAMILL, CARRIE FISHER and HARRISON FORD-- will be in the new movie as well, as well as a new generation of stars to carry more sequels forward. Horn also confirmed that the movie will take place 35 years after the original.

How'd you like to live in the same house they filmed "The Godfather" in?
   Bloomberg.net says the house, which is currently owned by attorney LEONARD ROSS and is about three blocks away from Sunset Boulevard, is up for grabs... if you've got $135 million in small change laying around.
   The home, which includes five buildings, 28 bedrooms, 36 bathrooms, a wine cellar, gym, eight-car garage, a lighted tennis court, media center, art deco nightclub, massage room, and two screening rooms was purchased by silent screen star MARION DAVIES for her lover, WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST, who lived there until his death five years later.
   It was also used by JOHN F. KENNEDY and his brand-new wife, JACKIE, on their honeymoon.
   But of course, we've all seen it on the big screen in "The Godfather" and it was also used for a location in "The Bodyguard" as well.

Music:

Not a big night for TAYLOR SWIFT at the ACM's. She only took home one award, and had to share it. TIM McGRAW's video for "Highway Don't Care" won Video of the Year, featuring Taylor and KEITH URBAN. The big award of the evening, Entertainer of the Year, went to GEORGE STRAIT. He won it back in 1989 too. George is on his Cowboy Rides Away tour which he says is his final go around. The last concert will be on June 7th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
 
Here are the winners of this year's Academy of Country Music Awards:
Entertainer of the Year: George Strait
Male Vocalist: Jason Aldean
Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert
Vocal Duo: Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Group: The Band Perry
New Artist: Justin Moore
Album of the Year: "Same Trailer Different Park," Kacy Musgraves
Single of the Year: "Mama's Broken Heart," Miranda Lambert
Song of the Year: "I Drive Your Truck," Lee Brice
Video of the Year: "Highway Don't Care," Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
Vocal Event of the Year: "We Were Us," Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert

March Madness:
Connecticut and Kentucky will face off tonight in the 2014 NCAA tournament title game. Tip-off time, 9:10 pm on CBS.
   Kentucky barely held off Wisconsin in a thrilling game that came down to the final shot, winning it, 74-73, while Connecticut overcame a 16-4 deficit in the early going to stun top-seeded Florida, 63-53. It was the Gator's lowest point total all season and the loss snapped their 30-game win streak.
   Ranked seventh and eighth, UConn and Kentucky represent the highest combined seed total for a national championship game since seeding began in 1979. But neither team is a stranger to championship matches: Connecticut won the tournament in 2011, while Kentucky did it in 2012.

Mike's Pick: UConn

Cars: 
Rain delayed NASCAR's Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup race until today at noon (Eastern time). It'll still be broadcast on the Fox network.
   As you might have assumed, the Duck Commander 500 is sponsored by the company that's owned by the ROBERTSON family, who star on A&E's "Duck Dynasty." Each of the family members have a part in the race (JASE did the driver's announcement yesterday; SADIE gave the invocation and MISSY sang the National Anthem).


 

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 04, 2014 -- 1:37pm

 

Friday (04-04): Walk Around Things Day, National D.A.R.E. Day, School Librarian Day, Tell A Lie Day, World Rat Day, Vitamin C Day, Hug a Newsman Day. Hate Week (From George Orwell's novel, "1984"). Walk To Work Day.

Birthdays include: ROBERT DOWNEY, Jr (49); CRAIG T. NELSON ("Parenthood" -70), JAMES RODAY ("Psych" --38), HUGO WEAVING ("The Matrix"-- 54), PHIL MORRIS ("Jackie Chiles" on "Seinfeld" --55). Actresses NATASHA LYONNE (35), JAMIE LYNN SPEARS (23). NANCY McKEON ("Facts of Life" --48), CHRISTINE LAHTI (64). Poet MAYA ANGELOU (86); illusionist DAVID BLAINE (41); biographer KITTY KELLEY is 72; DAVE HILL of Slade (57). Producer DAVID E. KELLEY (58). Comedian ANTHONY CLARK (50); Olympic skater ELAINE ZAYAK (49); record mogul CLIVE DAVIS is 82. Singer JILL SCOTT is 42; the late HEATH LEDGER would have been 35, the late funkster MAJOR LANCE would've been 75. The late ANTHONY PERKINS would have been 82. Had JOHN CAMERON SWAYZE kept on tickin', he'd be 108. Blues great MUDDY WATERS was born 101 years ago today.

   --On this day in 1887, SUSANNA SALTER became mayor of Argonia, KS, the first woman to be elected mayor in the United States. Her name had been submitted for election without her knowledge by the Women's Christian Temperance Union and she didn't know she was a candidate until she went to the polls. She won by a two-thirds majority and served one year for the salary of one dollar.

   --JOHNNY CARSON briefly quit the "Tonight Show," 1967. He came back three weeks later after being offered a $30-thousand-a-week raise. Things haven't changed much, huh? Who knows? With Jimmy Fallon they may.

   --Lt Col OLIVER NORTH was convicted on three criminal counts stemming from the Iran /Contra affair, 1989. Now he has a syndicated radio show. Only a radio programmer would hire a guy like that.

   --LARRY LaPRISE, the inventor of the Hokey-Pokey, died peacefully on this day in 1996, at the age of 93. Okay, here comes the joke everyone's e-mailed you: It was a little difficult burying him. He kept putting his left foot in and then his left foot out.

   --50 years ago, THE BEATLES held the top five positions atop the Billboard Hot 100 Chart (1964).
   --QUEEN ELIZABETH I knighted FRANCIS DRAKE, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, 1581.

The White House: 
Sources tell BuzzFeed that the four major broadcast networks said "no" to a request from the White House this past Tuesday night for air time to laud the Affordable Care Act reaching its goal of 7-million sign-ups. The White House isn't commenting on that report.
   In the end, the networks apparently didn't want to risk a revenue and/or ratings hit they might have taken by cutting into primetime programming.

Healthcare: 
Former White House press secretary ROBERT GIBBS thinks part of the OBAMA administration's efforts to further fix the Affordable Care Act will include eventually scrapping one of the law's more controversial mandates. During a trade group speech, Gibbs said, "I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go."
   Gibbs also detailed other improvements that he thinks will be made, including better outreach for next year’s enrollment, technology improvements, and greater incentives for young people.

Money Talks:
The newly-appointed CEO of Mozilla, the organization behind the FireFox web browser, has stepped down after his appointment generated media attention and mounting criticism over his opposition to gay marriage.
   BRENDAN EICH's appointment as CEO began generating criticism --like this, from the dating site OKCupid-- almost immediately because he donated $1,000 back in 2008 in support of California's Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. (The proposition was later overturned in the courts.)

   A blog post from the Mozilla adds some detail, stating, in part: "Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn't live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it's because we haven't stayed true to ourselves... We're sorry. We must do better. Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He's made this decision for Mozilla and our community."

The Fed has announced that New York is once again the highest taxed state in the nation followed by New Jersey.

Broadcast, cable and video news:
DAVID LETTERMAN is signing off after more than 30 years in the late-night business.
   The host said during the taping of tonight's show that he will step down in 2015, "at least a year or so" from now.
   Bassist MIKE MILLS of REM, who appeared on the show, first broke the news on Twitter, writing, "Dave just announced his retirement," after which, media organizations of all stripes hopped on the story. (Here's his announcement from last night.)
   Letterman has hosted CBS' "Late Show" for 21 years, after 11 years at "Late Night" at NBC.

   The announcement comes just weeks after JIMMY FALLON replaced JAY LENO at NBC. Now, the question becomes, "Who'll replace Letterman?" CRAIG FERGUSON is believed to have the first right of refusal to replace Letterman in the 11:30 time slot. But the show biz tabloids were full of suggestions and rumors yesterday, and some of the names bandied about include:
   --JON STEWART
   --STEPHEN COLBERT
   --CHELSEA HANDLER
   --LOUIS CK
   --ELLEN DeGENERES
   --NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
   --CHRIS ROCK
   --CONAN O'BRIEN
   FYI: Conan's contract with TBS expires in 2015.
   Letterman, who turns 67 next week, recently passed JOHNNY CARSON as the longest late-night host in TV history.

Movies opening this coming weekend (Apr 04): 
Hollywood insiders are saying this weekend's debut of the “Captain America” sequel could pull anywhere from $75 to $90-million dollars at the box office. The latter amount would be the biggest movie opening ever in the month of April, but that's tempered with the fact that not a lot of kids are still on spring break, making the movie gross a bit smaller.
   Still, there are no other movies coming out in wide release, although “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will be in more than 1,250 locations this week and there's RUSSELL CROWE's biblical flick, "Noah," which was very strong last weekend.

   --"Captain America: The Winter Soldier," (Action-Drama, wide release, rated ), starring CHRIS EVANS, SEBASTIAN STAN, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ANTHONY MACKIE. Opens Apr 03.
   --"Island of Lemurs: Madagascar," (IMAX, limited release, rated G) MORGAN FREEMAN narrates the documentary about the incredible true story of lemurs.
   --"Nymphomaniac: Volume II," (Drama, limited release, rated R), starring CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG, STELLAN SKARSGARD, STACY MARTIN, SHIA LABEOUF, CHRISTIAN SLATER, UMA THURMAN. The story continues.

Top DVD Sales last week (Rentrak): 
5. "Thor: The Dark World"
4. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
3. "American Hustle"
2. "Saving Mr. Banks"
1. "Frozen"

Top video rentals last week (Rentrak): 
5. "The Counselor"
4. "Thor: The Dark World"
3. "Dallas Buyers Club"
2. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
1. "American Hustle"

TV Briefs:
The May 01 episode of "The Big Bang Theory" will be a cross-over with "Star Wars," and the Hollywood Reporter says Lucasfilm has reproduced the planet Dagobah for the episode, along with a light saber for one of the cast.
   Dagobah was the planet Yoda was exiled to, and may be the setting for one of star JIM PARSONS' dream sequences. Special guest star BOB NEWHART (who's previously appeared as aging TV star "Professor Proton") will also make an appearance in the show as well.
   The episode is in honor of "Star Wars" day which happens annually on May fourth... get it? May the Fourth be with you...?

"Breaking Bad" star BRYAN CRANSTON is reportedly writing a memoir of his experiences on the hit TV series. He tells the NY Times the book --due out sometime next year-- will "tell the stories of my life and reveal the secrets and lies that I lived with for six years shooting 'Breaking Bad'."

This week in 1964, THE BEATLES did something no other artist had ever done before or has done since. 50 years ago, the Fab Four had every slot in the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. That's right, every song in the Top 5 was a Beatles record:
   5. "Please Please Me"
   4. "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
   3. "She Loves You"
   2. "Twist & Shout"
   1. "Can't Buy Me Love"
   How was this possible? Since Capitol Records turned down the first four Beatles singles released in the UK, their manager, BRIAN EPSTEIN, was able to make deals with smaller U.S. record labels like VJ, Tollie and Swan. Only "I Want To Hold Your Hand," the first Capitol single, and "Can't Buy Me Love" were on Capitol. Remember, there was a time when there were literally hundreds of record labels. Today, there are only three major labels: Sony, Universal and Warner Music.

March Madness:
After a tournament with seven overtime games and all kinds of drama, the Men's NCAA Final Four tips off tomorrow in Dallas with the UConn Huskies facing the Florida Gators and the University of Kentucky taking on the Wisconsin Badgers.

   The Gators are the top overall seed in the tournament and they've played like, having extended their winning streak to 30 games.
   Almost no one is picking the Huskies to beat Florida, but if it's worth anything, UConn's 6-1 record at the Final Four is the best in NCAA Tournament history.
   Incidentally, the UConn women are also in the Final Four. It's the fourth time the school's men's and women's teams have reached the Final Four in the same season, most of any school.
   FYI: The last time Florida lost, back in December, guess who they lost to: UConn.

   Kentucky and Wisconsin are a great matchup on paper. Kentucky is the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country. Wisconsin is the No. 12 defensive rebounding team in the country.
   Wisconsin is vulnerable to opponents getting hot from the three-point perimeter, but Kentucky is a bad 3-point shooting team. They make up for it with offensive rebounds on which they can follow-up and sink two. If the Wildcats miss their threes and Wisconsin wins the rebound matchup, the Badgers can move on to the championship.
   FYI: Besides UConn, the only other team to beat Florida this year was Wisconsin.

Mike's Picks: Florida and Wisconsin
   Useless Stat of the Day: Percentage of people who accurately predicted the Final Four out of 11 million entries in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge: 0.000051 (612 people, if you're counting. Sorry, no perfect brackets among them.)

Famous Alumni Dep't:
   --Connecticut: Actress Meg Ryan, physicist David Lee, actor Ron Palillo (Horshack!), screenwriter/producer Jeremy Leven.
   --Florida: Actress Faye Dunaway, Nobel Prize winners Marshall Nirenberg and Robert Grubbs, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, Wendy's owner Dave Thomas.
   --Kentucky: Actress Ashley Judd, Sen. Mitch McConnell, astronaut Story Musgrave, Nobel Prize winner William Lipscomb.
   --Wisconsin: Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Vice-President Dick Cheney, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, actor Don Ameche, singers Steve Miller and Boz Skaggs.

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 03, 2014 -- 12:35pm

 

Thursday (04-03): Don't Go To Work Unless It's Fun Day, Find a Rainbow Day, World Party Day, Sow the Seeds of Peace Day, Pony Express Day, Chocolate Mousse Day, Tweed Day.

Birthdays include: ALEC BALDWIN (56), "Frasier's" DAVID HYDE PIERCE (55), EDDIE MURPHY (53), MATTHEW GOODE ('Chasing Liberty" --36); entertainers WAYNE NEWTON (72) and TONY ORLANDO (70). Also, actresses COBIE SMULDERS ("How I Met Your Mother" --32); AMANDA BYNES ("What a Girl Wants," --28), "90210's" JENNIE GARTH (42), and DORIS DAY (90!!). Singers LEONA LEWIS (29), and BILLY JOE ROYAL ("Down in the Boondocks" --72). Skid Row's SEBASTIAN BACH (46). Also, Olympic skier PICABO STREET (43).

   PARIS MICHAEL KATHERINE JACKSON is sweet 16 today. She's MICHAEL JACKSON's second child, given birth by DEBBIE ROWE.

   The late MARLON BRANDO woulda been 90; the late RAY COMBS ("Family Feud"--would be 58) and JAN BERRY (of Jan & Dean --would have been 73) today. Apollo 1 Astronaut VIRGIL "Gus" GRISSOM, who died in the Cape Canaveral fire in 1967, would've been 88 today. Remember the Indian in those "Do Not Litter" ads? That'd be IRON EYES CODY, who was born on this date in 1904, same as famed fan-dancer SALLY RAND.

Anniversaries: Singer MARIAH CAREY split from Sony Records with the NY Daily News reporting Mariah signed a deal with Virgin Records worth $20 million per album (2001).
   --Pony Express service began, 1860. It took ten days from St. Joseph, MO, to Sacramento, CA. One hundred relay stations and 420 horses ridden 75 miles a day. Today we have trucks and planes and computerized sorting machines... and it STILL takes 10 days for a letter to get from St Joseph to Sacramento. (Hi-yooo!)
   --TV Guide magazine was first published (1953).

Getting up to speed:
Four people are dead and 16 others were injured after another mass shooting Fort Hood. The gunman is among the dead. The injuries vary from single to multiple gunshot wounds to the extremities, abdomen, chest and neck.
   It isn't clear what triggered the incident but officials say the gunman, identified as military truck driver IVAN LOPEZ, had behavioral and mental health issues and was undergoing treatment for it. He was also under diagnosis for PTSD, but had not been diagnosed yet.
   It wasn't confirmed as of last night but sources said Lopez apparently died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds and law enforcement was considering it a possible suicide.
   The base was the scene of a mass shooting in 2009 in which 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded.
   It's worth noting that in 2010 a report that followed the 2009 shooting rampage said the military needed to be better at identifying "insider threats."

Splitsville: After 30 years, VLADIMIR PUTIN and his wife, LYUDMILA are now divorced. Although the couple announced last June that they'd be divorcing because they "practically never saw each other," the Kremlin said their divorce was official --finally-- yesterday, and her name was removed from his official bio.
   Of course, the back story to this is that Vladimir is reportedly having an affair with former Olympic gymnast ALINA KABAYEVA, who was a torchbearer at the Sochi Olympic games. The Putins have two adult daughters, MARIA and YEKATERINA, who are 28 and 27, respectively.

Tying the knot: The forecast ahead is sunny and bright for WILLIARD SCOTT. The legendary “Today” show weatherman tied the knot on Tuesday. Willard married his longtime girlfriend PARIS KEENA in Fort Meyers, Florida. People magazine says they first met 36 years ago, when  Paris worked for NBC’s Washington affiliate. They’ve been a couple for 11 years. Willard’s first wife, MARY, died in 2002.
It looks like the White House might need to take a few more well-publicized victory laps over meeting it's Affordable Care Act sign-up goal. A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Americans are still opposed to Obamacare, by a 55-to-41-percent margin, with 40-percent saying they're less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the law.

   Twenty-seven-percent of those polled say they're more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the bill, while 31-percent say the law won't affect their vote.
   Two more red flags heading toward November's midterm elections: The president gets a 40-to-55-percent rating on the economy and a 39-to-55 split on his foreign policy approval-disapproval.

The Supremes:
The Supreme Court issued a major campaign finance decision, one that will change and probably increase the role money plays in American politics.
   In a 5-4 decision along ideological lines, the court struck down an overall cap on the amount that large campaign donors can give to candidates, political parties and PACs in a two-year election cycle.
   The court ruled that the limits violated the First Amendment.

   The ruling affects only aggregate donations on the total amount that a contributor can hand out to multiple candidates, parties and political action committees. Federal law currently has the following caps for an individual. No more than:
   --$123,200 for contributions in the two-year cycle.
   --$48,600 to all federal candidates for office during any one two-year election cycle
   --$74,600 to political committees that make contributions to candidates
   Those caps are now gone. The only remaining cap, which the court is leaving in place is a $2,600 limit on the amount of a gift to an individual candidate, per election.

   The government defended the aggregate limits by arguing that they, like the individual limits, were there to prevent one individual from financially influencing any candidacy too much. The court disagreed, instead arguing that the limits "do little, if anything, to address that concern, while seriously restricting participation in the democratic process."
   The ruling, however, still makes it possible for a donor to give a party leader a check for more than $1 million, with the money getting parceled out in $26-hundred dollar amounts to candidates.

   The decision was a sort of sequel to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to disturb the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.
   The Supreme Court's liberals have generally maintained that restrictions on campaign contributions served to level the playing field and ensure that the voices of ordinary citizens are not drowned out by wealthy individuals and corporate donors. The suit was filed by SHAUN McCUTCHEON, a wealthy business mogul and conservative donor.

Healthcare: 
The National Journal --citing early data from Blue Cross-Blue Shield-- reports that about 15-to-20-percent of enrollees in the Affordable Care Act aren't paying their first month's premium, which means they're not actually covered. That estimate is apparently what other major insurance carriers taking part in the program are seeing as well.
   That 15-to-20-percent figure is based on policies that took effect February 1st or earlier.

An extension of long-term unemployment benefits cleared another procedural hurdle in the Senate yesterday, when the chamber voted 61-to-38 to cut off debate on a bipartisan deal to retroactively restores expired jobless aid through May. All 55 Democrats voted in favor of advancing the bill, along with six Republicans.
   The bill now needs to clear just one more procedural vote before final passage, which should come sometime today.

The Hill reports that there are a growing number of Republicans in Congress who think the GOP leadership is staking too much of their November midterm election strategy on displeasure with the Affordable Care Act, and not enough with the economy and other issues. NV GOP Sen. DEAN HELLER said, "It's my opinion that the Affordable Care Act is going to play in this election, but I don't think it's the main issue. I think the main issue is going to be the economy and jobs."
   He added, "If we have solutions and answers on the economy and jobs, I think that the Affordable Care Act will take a back seat to it. If we think we're going to win or lose the majority based on one single piece of legislation ... I think we're mistaken."

What's the Buzz:
The world's tallest ferris wheel --the Las Vegas High Roller-- officially opened on Monday. It's 550 feet tall and is a part of the LINQ, which is a shopping and entertainment district developed by Caesars Entertainment.
   If you'd like a ride on the High Roller, it'll set you back $24.95 for the half hour trip in one of the 28 cabins. Each cabin holds up to 40 people on the wheel. And if there's a line, you can fork over $59.95, which allows you to cut to the front of the line.

Fashion Emergency:
Vice President JOE BIDEN has given his whole-hearted endorsement to Clinique, crediting the skin care brand for keeping his glowing skin moisturized. And how, exactly, did the Vice President of the Free World’s moisturizer preference come up in conversation?
   Elle.com says it all started with RACHEL RAY, of course. (Of course? Of course.) The Veep chatted with the morning talk show host via video, when this exchange went down:

   --Rachel: “You have the most glowing, perfect skin of any person I’ve ever seen. I really want to know what moisturizer you use. I love moisturizers!” (Editor's Note: Who "loves" moisturizers?)
   --Vice President Biden: “On Jill’s (Dr. JILL BIDEN, his wife) instructions, about five years ago, she said I should use Clinique and there’s a men’s Clinique that has an S-P-F 20. She was worried about my face, so I do whatever Jill tells me."


The Travel Channel announced 10 new series yesterday, among them a couple of interesting projects:
   --“Booze Traveler,” is a series examining local cocktail specialties around the world and hosted by JACK MAXWELL.
   --“Expedition Unknown,” has host JOSH GATES going to sites linked to famous mysteries such as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s plane.
   --“American Grilled” will offer a $10-thousand dollar prize for the best grill master with four Webers lit up in each episode.
   --And “Hotel Amazon” looks at a couple of guys' attempt to build a world-class resort in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon.

The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress has a new batch of inductions. U2's "The Joshua Tree" is on the list, along with the "Shaft" theme by ISAAC HAYES, LINDA RONSTADT's "Heart Like A Wheel" album, "Fortunate Son" by CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL and others. The Registry honors recordings that are (quote), "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

Finders Keepers:
$50 million worth of stolen art work that's been missing for over 40 years has turned up on the wall of an Italian auto worker's home.
   The paintings, PAUL GAUGIN's (go-GAN) "Still Life of Fruit on a Table With a Small Dog" and the lesser-known PIERRE BONNARD's (boh-NAHD) "The Girl With Two Chairs," were stolen from the U-K home of Sir MARK KENNEDY and his wife in 1970. It's believed the thieves abandoned them on a train in Italy because of a looming border check.
   The autoworker bought the valuable masterworks at an auction of lost-and-found train items in 1975. He paid around $30 for them.

   Described as a lover of art by police, the man was apparently unaware that they were stolen or that they were so valuable. Call it the ultimate (unintentional) heist.
   The paintings hung in the man's home for all these years, until his son started advertising them for sale. That got the attention of Italian police and a 40-year mystery was resolved.

   The rightful owners of the painting are both deceased, and have no heirs who could take possession of the works. Also: Italian law may allow the autoworker's family to keep the paintings if they can prove he bought them in good faith, so it's possible the worker could end up regaining custody of the art, and then selling them for current value.
   The works are being kept in a police safe. For now.

   An Italian government official said: "It's an incredible story, an amazing recovery. A symbol of all the work which Italian art police have put in over the years behind the scenes."

 

 

From Mike Bradley's Portion of the Morning Team

Apr 02, 2014 -- 3:54pm

 

Wednesday (04-02): National Day of Hope, Reconciliation Day, World Autism Day. National Love Your Produce Guy Day, International Children's Book Day (celebrated on Hans Christian Andersen's birthday), National Walking Day, National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, National Ferrett Day. Explore Your Career Options Week.

Birthdays include: Singer EMMYLOU HARRIS (67) Also, LEON RUSSELL (72), former "American Idol" LEE DeWYZE (28), JESSE CARMICHAEL ("Maroon 5" --35), Smash Mouth's GREG CAMP (47), and Bananarama's KEREN WOODWARD (53). Actors CHRISTOPHER MELONI ("Law & Order: SVU" --53), ADAM RODRIGUEZ ("CSI: Miami" --39); Actresses ROSELYN SANCHEZ ("Without a Trace" --41), ASHLEY PELDON ("The Pretender," -30), "One Tree Hill's" BETHANY JOY LENZ (33), and LINDA HUNT ("NCIS Los Angeles"-- 69). SHANE & SIA BARBI (The Barbi Twins --51) Radio icon Dr DEMENTO is 73.

  The late RON PALILLO ('Horshack' from "Welcome Back, Kotter" would've been 65. The late MARVIN GAYE would have been 75. Also the late Sir ALEC GUINESS (Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi in "Star Wars"), BUDDY EBSEN ("Beverly Hillbillies") and JACK WEBB ("Dragnet"). RODNEY KING would have been 49. The late singer LOU MONTE ("Dominick the Donkey) was also born on this date.

Dating: They've dodged relationship rumors like a couple of undercover spies. But now, “The Americans” co-stars KERI RUSSELL and MATTHEW RHYS have been outed as a real-life couple. People magazine says that Keri, who's 38 and Matthew, who's 39, were spotted out on a date March 27th at NYC’s The Public Theater, where they watched the play “The Library,” directed by STEVEN SODERBERGH. The new romance comes after news that Keri was separating from her husband, SHANE DEARY of nearly seven years. The former couple has a six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. (Bartha)

Anniversaries: MILLI VANILLI star ROB PILATUS died in Frankfurt, Germany, after taking a combination of pills and alcohol (1998).

   --The first White House Easter Egg Roll was held in 1877, when RUTHERFORD B HAYES was president. How's that for a presidential legacy? Thomas Jefferson: Louisiana Purchase. Abraham Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation. Rutherford B. Hayes: Easter eggs. Barack Obama: WOODEN Easter eggs!

  The prime-time soap "Dallas" premiered.(1978). Velcro was also introduced for the first time on that date. But nothing ever seemed to stick to J-R Ewing.

   --The first theatre in the U-S to show only movies --The Electric Theatre-- opened in L.A., 1902.
   --Eight years ago today (2005): Pope JOHN PAUL II died.

   --First TV Guide magazine, 1953. Fifteen cents per copy. Ever wonder why TV Guide's "week" always started on a Saturday? Because back then most people did their grocery shopping on Saturday. By ending their "week" on Friday, TV Guide sort of guaranteed themselves a checkout lane sale. Now it's out a week in advance and starts on Monday.

   --On this day in 1997, the original creator of "Godzilla" died.

The White House:
The White House announced yesterday that 7,041,000 people have signed up for health-insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act, which is right in line with the original Congressional Budget Office target numbers. (That target had earlier been shrunk to 6 million following HealthCare.gov's troubled debut.)
   That number doesn’t include those who signed up through state exchanges in the past few days, which (as we noted yesterday), would move the enrollee count past 9 million.
   It's uncertain how many had previously lacked any coverage; it also remains to be seen how many new enrollees complete the process by actually paying their first premiums.

Congress:

The House voted 378-to-34 yesterday to pass an economic assistance package for Ukraine and a group of sanctions against Russia. The package provides loan guarantees to Kiev and slaps an array of sanctions against top Russian officials and others tied to the invasion of Crimea.
   The bill was finally passed after Senate Democrats decided to drop a controversial provision to enact reforms to the International Monetary Fund, which was pushed by the White House.

D.C. politics: 
It looks like Washington, DC is getting a new mayor. City Council member MURIEL BOWSER defeated incumbent Mayor VINCENT GRAY in a primary yesterday, after Gray was tied to a campaign scandal.
   Gray's loss comes after he quietly signed a bill this week to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in the U.S. capital. Carrying that much weed in D.C. will now just be a civil violation with a penalty of $25, lower than most city parking tickets.
   Possession had previously been a misdemeanor, carrying up to six months in jail and a thousand-dollar fine.

Afghanistan:
A British sniper in Afghanistan shot a suicide bomber in the vest, causing an explosion that killed six insurgents also trying to infiltrate their base.

Culture Shock:
A pair of authors claim to have found the Holy Grail at a museum in Spain. MARGARITA TORRES and JOSE MANUEL ORTEGA del RIO found the jewel-encrusted goblet on display at the San Isidro Basilica in the northwestern Spanish city of Leon.

   More background: In 2011, two medieval Egyptian parchments were discovered that mentioned the "chalice of Christ." The cup was apparently taken from Jerusalem to Cairo, and then given to a Spanish emir as a reward for helping the Egyptians during a famine. Finally, it was presented to Spain's King Fernando as a gift, and from there, it went to the museum.

What's Poppin':
Hobby Lobby hypocrites? You don't say!
   An investigative piece by Mother Jones magazine has found that the company that doesn't want to pay for employee contraception coverage in its health care plan is heavily invested in companies that provide contraceptive drugs and devices.
   The company, owned by conservative Christians, has fought the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that forcing the company to provide contraception for its employees violated their religious beliefs.

   It turns out, as multiple documents prove, Hobby Lobby's 401k employee retirement plan holds more than $73 million in "investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions." And they make matching contributions to the 401k plan.
   Several funds in the retirement plan "also invest in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell."
   The magazine also points out that Hobby Lobby's health insurance covered Plan B and Ella for years, but then dropped those drugs from the plan in 2012 when the company considered filing a lawsuit against Obamacare.

   The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, believes Plan B, Ella, and IUDs are abortificants --that is, they cause abortions. It's a central argument in their lawsuit against the contraception mandate.
   But actually, as most women know, all those products are designed to do is prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's uterus. In other words, they prevent pregnancies from happening so a woman doesn't get pregnant and then be forced to consider an abortion.
   Neither Hobby Lobby nor the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the conservative group that provided Hobby Lobby with legal representation, responded to questions from Mother Jones about these investments or whether Hobby Lobby has changed its retirement plan.

Today's big recall:
General Motors CEO MARY BARRA testified before Congress yesterday on why the automaker took so long to recall cars with a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to more than a dozen deaths. During intense questioning, Barra discussed the reason why GM hadn't fixed the problem sooner: cost.
   How much does an ignition switch cost anyway? 57 cents each. During her testimony, Barra said the decision not to make the fix because of cost considerations was "disturbing" and unacceptable, and she assured members of Congress that this sort of thinking represents the old General Motors, not how the company does business today
   Barra, who took over as the company's CEO earlier this year, estimated that fixing the ignition switch in 2007 would have cost GM in the neighborhood of $100 million.
   Over the past several months, GM has recalled some 2.6 million cars because the faulty ignition switch can cause the engine to cut off in traffic, disabling the power steering, power brakes and air bags and making it difficult to control the vehicle."

Bid'ness is Bid'ness:
CoreBrands polls business decision makers across the globe in its annual survey and its results name Coca-Cola the most powerful brand or the sixth year running.
   Hershey was named the number two brand in the study while chemical company Bayer rose a notch to third place. Among the top 25 brands, Microsoft advanced to number 11. Google comes in at rank 26. Amazon.com is new to the top 100 list, ranked 91st.  
   UPS, Walgreens and CBS all had significant declines in brand power. UPS fell from 11th to 22nd currently; Walgreens fell from 12th to 23rd; and CBS fell from 58th to 69th, each having an 11 position decline, the highest loss since last year. The top-10:

10. Apple
9. Kellogg's
8. American Express
7. PepsiCo
6. Disney

5. Harley-Davidson
4. Johnson and Johnson
3. Bayer
2. Hershey
1. Coca-Cola

The Airlines:
When should you buy your next plane ticket?
According to a new fare study from Hopper.com, a travel information website, Thursday is the best day to book both domestic and international tickets.
   But keep in mind that it won't save you much: There's just a $10 difference between the best day to book and the worst day (Saturday) for domestic tickets. For international tickets, there's a $25 difference, and the worst day to book is Sunday. More from the study:

   --Best day to depart: Wednesday, for both domestic and international trips
   --Worst day to depart: Sunday, also for both types of trips
   --Best day to return home: Tuesday (domestic) or Wednesday (international)
   --Worst day to return home: Friday (both)

   Another study from earlier this month found that, on average, you'll get the cheapest fare if you book 54 days in advance of your flight. More importantly, the best window for cheaper tickets is between 29 days and 104 days prior to departure; an expert suggests you monitor prices during that period "to get a sense of the market," then grab a good fare when you see it.

Ratings: 
Love it or hate it, lotsa people watched the series finale of "How I Met Your Mother." --Nielsen ratings show 12.9 million viewers tuned in to find out how the show would end.

This week's hot 18-49 TV shows (Nielsen): 
20. "American Idol," (Wed), FOX,
19. "Two Broke Girls," CBS,
18. "NCAA Basketball Championships," (Fri-Game 1), CBS,
17. "Survivor," CBS,
16. "Dancing With The Stars," ABC,

15. "NCAA Basketball Championships," (Fri Pregame), CBS,
14. "Resurrection," ABC,
13. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS,
12. "NCIS," CBS,
11. "NCAA Basketball Championships," (Thu), CBS,

10. "NCAA Basketball Championships," (Thu Pregame), CBS,
9. "Grey's Anatomy," ABC,
8. "The Blacklist," NBC,
7. "60 Minutes," CBS,
6. "Scandal," ABC,

5. "The Voice," (Tue), NBC,
4. "How I Met Your Mother"," CBS,
3. "NCAA Basketball Championships," (Fri Game 2), CBS,
2. "Modern Family," ABC,
1. "The Voice," (Mon), NBC,


The big TV story yesterday --since JOSH ELLIOT is leaving "Good Morning America," CNN claims they're looking to get MICHAEL STRAHAN to add to the show.
   Strahan is already the co-host of "Live With Kelly & Michael," and reportedly would be able to keep his gig on that show, since they both are produced in New York City.
   "Good Morning America" is done in Times Square studios, while "Live" is produced in the ABC studios on 67th Street.

The inductors for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 have been revealed. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN will do the honors for his own group, the E STREET BAND, and of course they will perform. 
   GLENN FREY of the EAGLES who was in LINDA RONDSTADT's backing band in the early days will induct Linda, and then her songs will be performed by STEVIE NICKS, CARRIE UNDERWOOD, BONNIE RAITT, EMMYLOU HARRIS and SHERYL CROW. Sadly, Linda won't be there. The Hollywood Reporter says her Parkinson's disease makes it difficult for her to travel long distances. Linda lives in San Francisco and a cross-country flight would be very uncomfortable. But, Linda said she's not at all upset about missing the ceremony: (quote) "If you're working for prizes, you're in trouble. There's nothing wrong with it. I don't mind it. It's just not anything I ever gave a thought to."
   MICHAEL STIPE of R.E.M. welcomes NIRVANA into the Hall. PETER GABRIEL will be inducted by COLDPLAY's CHRIS MARTIN. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE guitarist TOM MORELLO does the honors for KISS, and QUESTLOVE of THE ROOTS safely transports his fellow Philly friends DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES into the Hall.
   No word yet on who will induct CAT STEVENS. He'll also perform at the ceremony, along with Hall & Oates and Peter Gabriel. There will be no performance from KISS. The big event happens April 10th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and you'll be able to see the best bits May 31st on HBO.

 

 

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