The year just keeps getting worse
If you’re reading or watching this, then congratulations, you survived the holidays, which is more than a lot of people can say. We deliberately skipped over all the bad news on Saturday in an attempt to give the weekend a positive spin. It didn’t work, though, did it? The universe just couldn’t go two days without inviting some disaster into our lives.
So here we go, the last week of 2016. We have snow in the Northernmost states, rain across the South and Midwest, with a chance of tornadoes just strong enough to make sure the steps down to your fraidy hole are clear. Bubble wrap your favorite living musician, I have a feeling that fate might try to finish the year strong. From all the disasters, we chose 5 things you should know.
We’ve lost our Faith
Both the US and the UK is in mourning at news of the death of singer George Michael yesterday. The 53-year-old singer is said to have died quietly at his home in London of heart failure. Michael first came to prominence as half the pop duo Wham! but it was as a solo artist that his career really took off and captured the hearts of millions of people around the world. Tributes started pouring in the moment the word hit the news yesterday afternoon.
There are a number of songs for which George Michael is remembered. Faith, Freedom ’90, I’m never gonna dance again, and the holiday favorite of the broken-hearted, Last Christmas. These are the kind of songs that are likely to dominate many of the memorials we’ll inevitably see popping up all over the Internet today. However, the song that might be most responsible for catapulting him to stardom isn’t on most George Michael playlists: I want your Sex.
Released in 1986, the salacious song was wildly popular but left radio stations and the still=new MTV channel with a conundrum as to whether to play the song. Conservatives were outraged that the word sex had gotten onto an album without any warning. Most stations refused to play the song at all. Those who did, limited it to late-night hours. The singer also courted controversy with the song Outside after an LA police officer outed the singer as gay.
Rest In Peace, George Michael, and thank you for letting us know it’s okay to think about sex. Here’s the video:
Russia Loses A Choir
Unfortunately, George Michael wasn’t the only loss to the music world yesterday. There was at first a sense of suspicion when news hit the wire yesterday that a Russian plane in route to Syria had gone down in the Black Sea. The suspicion turned to sorrow, though, when it was announced that the group known widely as The Red Army Choir was on that flight, heading to entertain troops at a military base2.
Formally known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, the all-male group was known for their loud if not stirring recordings of Soviet and Russian anthems. However, they group had their lighter side as well and was especially popular for their cover of Daft Punk’s, Lucky during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Sixty-four members of the ensemble, including director Valery Khalilov, were aboard the plane yesterday. Russian officials this morning are saying that mechanical malfunctions were responsible for the plane going down, dismissing any idea that terrorism might have played a role.
While the full group has 186 members, most of the singers were on the flight. While the group will almost certainly rebuild, the loss for the people of Russia is significant. Here is a video of the group doing its cover of Lucky:
Carrie Fisher Is Hanging On
Fortunately, not all the news was bad yesterday. Star Wars fans around the world took a deep breath and held it when word was released late Saturday that actress Carrie Fisher had suffered a “cardiac episode” while on a flight from London to Los Angeles. We finally release that breath yesterday when Ms. Fisher’s mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, announced that her daughter was in stable condition and resting comfortably3.
While Ms. Fisher is both an accomplished actor and writer, it is her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise that made her’s a household name. In fact, the actress had been in London promoting her latest book, The Princess Diarist, a memoir depicting her time filming her iconic turn as Princess Leia in the Star Wars film series3. In recent years, Ms. Fisher has not been shy talking about the amount of sex and drug use on the film sets of the 1970s and 80s.
Here’s video of her latest interview just a few weeks ago with The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert:
Fake News Creates An International Incident
Fake news has reared its ugly head again and proven that even those in power can sometimes be fooled by an article that appears to know what it’s talking about. Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif found an article on the site AWD News claiming that Israel’s former defense minister threatened to attack Pakistan if they sent troops to Syria. Naturally, that’s the kind of news that doesn’t set well with a defense minister. Asif did as other world leaders are increasingly doing and took to Twitter to register his objection. He reminded Israel that “Pakistan is also a nuclear power.4”
Focus on the key word, “also.” You see, Israel has never actually admitted that they have nuclear capability. Doing so would put any such program under United Nations observation, thus rendering it very much not a secret. Historically, the US has helped keep this not-so-secret secret by blocking attempts within the UN Security Council to demand inspections of the nuclear sites Israel won’t admit that it has.
With that same UN Security Council denouncing Israeli settlements in the West Bank last week, tensions between Israel and much of the world are very high at the moment5. The thinly veiled threat was considered very serious. Israel’s defense ministry tweeted back that the alleged news story was fake, but Pakistan has yet to reply to that tweet.
Is Your Makeup Too Heavy?
And finally, here’s something you might not think of too terribly often: the amount of lead in the makeup you use. The Food and Drug Administration released new guidelines last week on the amount of lead to be used in cosmetics made in the US6. The non-binding set of guidelines addresses the amount of lead in things such as lipstick, shampoo, eye shadows and body lotions. Generally speaking, most products have a lead content of less than 10 parts per million (ppm). However, there remain a few brands across every category that still have higher lead content.
The renewed concern about lead in products comes as an increasing number of cities are finding high levels of lead in their drinking water due to corroding pipes. Where lead levels in the body may already be higher than normal, lead in other products becomes a more serious issue as the lead builds up within the body and can reach dangerous levels. For people living in places such as Flint, Michigan or St. Joseph, Louisiana, this can be a very serious issue.
Complicating the matter is the fact that not all products list the amount of lead on their label. I talked briefly with Kat about the subject and she confirmed that most makeup artists don’t look at lead content as a point of concern and typically don’t check their products. Again, this new paper is not binding. However, it may indicate a much more carefully managed position by the FDA in the future.
That’s all we have time for this morning. We have some personal obligations today that require us to be on the road early, so we don’t have time to put this in video format before we need to leave. We’ll try and do that again tomorrow. Until then, please stay safe. Hear’s hoping this Monday is a good one.