Thursday December 18, 2014
We'll start with that what's being called a "historical turning point" between the US & Cuba. Wednesday's prisoner swap between the two countries has earned widespread praise from the global community. Pope Francis was at the top of the list of leaders giving their warmest congratulations. The European Union called it historic and at a summit in Argentina, Latin American leaders broke into applause when the news was announced.
The landmark agreement came after a year of secret talks between the two sides in Canada and at the Vatican. The deal could eventually pave the way for the removal of the 50-year economic embargo against Cuba - although that decision ultimately lies with the US Congress.
Threats by hackers have forced Sony to cancel the release of "The Interview", the controversial comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The shocking decision was met with disappointment and frustration in Hollywood. Ben Stiller called it "a threat to freedom of expression". Former Office star Steve Carell claimed the move was "a sad day for creative expression". And Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said "the US succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech". "The Interview" was scheduled to open in theaters on December 25th, but now Sony says they have no future plans to release the film and have pulled any mention of it from their website.
So the question remains: WHO is behind these hacker attacks? It looks like we finally have an answer: North Korea. I know, not much of a surprise. A federal law enforcement official speaking anonymously said it's believed the attacks originated outside of North Korea, but were sanctioned by the secretive state's leadership in Pyongyang. FBI Director James Comey says the attacks are very complicated, and investigators wanted to be absolutely sure before pinning the crimes on any one group. An official announcement is expected in the near future.
It's time to reveal our Boob of the Week. It was a tough choice, the candidates included a lawyer suing a restaurant over four dollars, and Greenpeace damaging a World Heritage site. But I think everyone will agree with who wears this weeks crown. Our Boob of the Week is ride-sharing company Uber, for their egregious behavior during the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia. You see, Uber's ride-share option has a function they call "surge pricing". When there's increased demand for drives, the rate and/or minimum fare price goes up. It's an incentive to encourage their drivers to get into their cars and start picking people up.
Except, sometimes the increased demand for drives is because of an emergency. Like, say, trying to get away from an armed lunatic and a hostage situation. Yeah, as people tried to flee the area where Sydney's hostage crisis was taking place earlier this week, Uber cranked up its "surge pricing". They QUADRUPLED their fares and implemented an eighty-two dollar minimum fee!
"But wait", you might say. "It's an algorithm that kicked in automatically after a large number of people requested drives! Actual humans at Uber might not have even known it was happening!"
It's true, it IS an algorithm that sparks "surge pricing". But Uber Sydney soon Tweeted "We are all concerned with events in CBD" - that's the Central Business District, where the hostage situation was taking place - "Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area". So nope, humans at Uber were well aware of what was going on.
And here's the thing. In cases of emergency, what Uber calls "surge pricing", I call "price gouging". And I'm not alone. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pointed out that the state had a price gouging law, defining it as "selling goods or services for an unconscionably excessive price during an abnormal disruption of the market".
Earlier this year, Uber reached an agreement with Schneiderman to cap pricing during emergencies. So Uber execs know they need to follow the law. But clearly, they DON'T think they need to follow basic morals. Oh, sure, they backed down in the face of massive public backlash. But it shouldn't TAKE a backlash, and it shouldn't take laws. It should be obvious that exploiting people during a crisis is wrong. And for ONCE AGAIN failing to understand that, we're crowning Uber as our Boob of the Week.
One of my FAVORITE holiday traditions is watching It's A Wonderful Life with my family. Saturday marks the 68th anniversary of its release. So, let's huddle around the TV and discuss the BEST Christmas movies of all time – in THIS EDITION of your Naked Weather Forecast! Before we start, let's check out the opening attraction – Brainstorm Trivia!
When you think of “White Christmas” - you think of the Bing Crosby movie, and snow on the ground. BUT, exactly HOW MUCH snow needs to fall on December 25 to qualify as a “White Christmas”? I'll have the SURPRISING answer coming up.
It's a Wonderful Life has become a staple in the households of MANY families around the holidays. The bittersweet tale is not ONLY one of the best Christmas movies ever. The American Film Institute named it the most INSPIRING film of all time.
Director Frank Capra was also behind other classics like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It Happened One Night. Capra was born in Bisacquino on the Italian island of Sicily. It'll be partly cloudy and a pleasant 57 (14 C) there this weekend.
The highest rated Christmas movie on Netflix is 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol, earning a four point three star rating. For many people – including myself - the Muppet adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel is also the BEST one. There's just something about Gonzo and Rizzo that gets me every time!
Whatever version of A Christmas Carol you prefer, many of them share the same setting of 19th century London. Cloudy skies are in the forecast for 21st century London this weekend – with a high of 48 degrees (9 C).
A favorite RECENT Christmas movie of mine is Elf - starring Will Ferrell as Buddy. He heads to New York from the North Pole to find his biological father - played by the Grinch-like James Caan – and to spread Christmas cheer everywhere he goes. Even when it's inappropriate!
Baby, it'll be mostly cloudy and cold outside in New York this weekend – a high of just 39 (4 C).
And if you're looking for some ACTION in your Christmas movies, you can't go wrong with Die Hard! Yup, the 1988 classic that kicked off Bruce Willis's hugely successful career took place on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. I'm not sure which expression is MORE synonymous with the holiday season: Ho Ho Ho or...
LA's weekend weather looks promising – sunny and 68 degrees! (20 C)
Before we roll the credits, let's reveal the answer to our Brainstorm Trivia question!
Believe it or not, just ONE solitary snowflake needs to be observed falling in the 24 hours of December 25 for an official “White Christmas”. Now you know!
Six people face federal charges in the West Virginia water contamination incident from earlier this year. Former officials of Freedom Industries Incorporated were indicted on several charges including negligent discharge of a pollutant. Seven THOUSAND gallons of the toxic chemical MCHM leaked into the Elk River, affecting more than 300 THOUSAND West Virginia residents. Many couldn't drink or bathe in the water for more than a week.
New York has become the SECOND state in the US to ban fracking. The Empire State joined Vermont in banning the controversial extraction process. A report from governor Andrew Cuomo's administration concluded fracking poses “significant health risks”. It was also determined that local bans and limited available land would outweigh any benefits of the technique. New York has actually had a de facto moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing since 2008.
And even with their 2 major storms recently, California still has a LONG way to go before their drought is over. This according to NASA scientists who estimate the state will need 11 TRILLION gallons of water to officially end the drought. The data shows a pair of key river basins are losing four trillion gallons per year – which is more than Californians use annually. Also, the Sierra Nevada range snowpack was only HALF as high as previously thought. California is entering its 4th year of drought conditions, which officials call the worst the state has experienced in 500 years.
HBO is moving forward with its streaming service - and they're HOPING to have it ready in time for Game of Thrones' season premiere in April. Unlike their current HBO GO service, which requires a subscription to the cable channel, this service will be a subscription-based standalone. Its streaming technology will also be built by an external company, in hopes of avoiding the frequent outages HBO Go has experienced.
We've known for months that David Letterman is leaving the Late Show next year - and being replaced by Stephen Colbert. But now we know WHEN the switch will be happening: May 20th. It's the end of an era, too - Letterman will have over six THOUSAND shows to his credit when he retires. He's been nominated for seventy three Emmys - won nine - and counts a Peabody and the Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association among his many honors.
Former soap opera heartthrob and pop star Rick Springfield will appear on the second season of HBO's True Detective. Interestingly, it wasn't announced by the producers - Springfield Tweeted on Monday that he'd been shooting with Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams. He's got nearly forty TV credits to his name but I don't think anyone would have expected him to join the cast of a crime drama!
The Oprah Winfrey Network has announced they'll be airing a ninety-minute documentary on football player Michael Sam. Sam came out as gay just before this year's NFL draft, and became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the league, though he's currently unsigned. The documentary will include his decision to announce he was gay, and the media storm that followed. There'll also be a sit-down interview between Sam and Oprah. It'll air December 27th.
And finally, from the "really?" files - George Lopez is going to be hosting the WORLD DOG AWARDS on the CW network in January. The TWO HOUR show will give prizes in categories like "Top TV Dog" "Celebrity Dog SELFIE", "Most PAW-pular" and even one special CAT with the "Most Dog-Like Cat" award. Celebs including Ian Somerhalder, Lance Bass, and Nikki Reed are slated to appear on the ceremony, which will be broadcast on January 15. Well... at least it's for charity!
This is a special year-end edition of Turn It Up! 2014 is almost in the books, so it's the perfect time to count down our five favorite albums of the year!
Coming in at number 5 is Ty Segall's "Manipulator". Ty's long been one of the most prolific names in rock, putting out records at record speed! But he spent a full 14 months working on "Manipulator". Ty softened the guitars a little in favor of a more psychedelic, poppy sound, and nearly every track felt like it could have been a single. Here's one of my favorites called "The Singer". With 17 songs spanning 56 minutes, Manipulator is easily Ty's longest album and also arguably his best.
At number four we have the welcome resurgence of Austin indie legends "Spoon". No one expected much when "They Want My Soul" - Spoon's eighth studio album - was released. But against all odds, it turned into one of the year's most pleasant surprises, reminding everyone just how great - and catchy - Spoon could be. Exhibit A? The album's second single, "Do You". Spoon admitted to being burned out after their last record, "Transference". But "They Want My Soul" proved they still have plenty left in the tank.
Our number 3 albums comes from the world of hip hop! Run The Jewels - the rap duo consisting of El-P and Killer Mike - came back stronger than ever in 2014 with their aptly-named second album "Run the Jewels 2". It's hard to believe that a record THIS good was released as a FREE download. The guys took us for a wild ride in the video "Blockbuster Night Pt. 1". "Run the Jewels 2" featured hard-hitting rhymes and bangin' beats, and it's probably our favorite rap album since Run the Jewels' LAST album!
Our runner-up earned the top spot on a number of year-end lists: it's Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent! 2014 was definitely her coming out party. St. Vincent' self-titled second album put her on the map as a bonafide rock star. She performed on SNL and had a number of hit singles, including the bizarrely catchy "Digital Witness". Some call her pretentious, but we think she's just plain awesome.
Which brings us to our number one album of the year... "Once More 'Round The Sun" by Mastodon! On their sixth studio LP, America's greatest metal band went for a more straightforward, infectious style that probably didn't sit well with hardcore metalheads. Mastodon's never been afraid to take risks, and the approach paid off big time on what's easily their most accessible and radio friendly record. But make no mistake, Mastodon still ROCKS. They boys also made one of our favourite music videos of the year for their single "The Motherload".
Who knew twerking and metal went so well together?! Easy to see why "Once More 'Round The Sun" was our favorite album of 2014!
I'm going to finish up today's show with a few feedback emails. The first one is from Shannon, who wrote
Carli Bei getting dressed instead of undressed! I noticed this halfway through ... wait, she is putting her underwear on??!!? I had to rewind & rewatch. Start naked then get dressed.... Brilliant! Don't get me wrong, I love seeing Carli get naked but its nice to see something fresh.
Thanks Shannon! We decided to have a little fun with that this week. Glad you liked it! Next is a question from Andrew. He asks
What I was wondering is in the auditions some of the girls do it barefoot. What I want to know is do you get the girls to purposefully walk as if they have heels on? I know this is a relatively new thing cause I've seen other auditions where girls have just walked normally.
Well, Andrew, the short answer is "no"! When women come in to audition, they've already got plenty on their plate - it's their first time here, it might be their first time naked on camera, and it's almost certainly their first time reading off a teleprompter. We definitely don't want to add to the pressure by micromanaging how they walk. So what you're seeing in a walk-off is whatever our auditioners decide to do. And our last email is from Ben, who asks
Natasha was introduced as a meteorologist. Now, c'mon, she's a welcome presence on the show----but is she really a meteorologist?---or is she just reading copy gleaned from a source based on work from actual meteorologists?
Good question! Natasha isn't a trained meteorologist, of course. But just like we've referred to other anchors as "doctor" or "professor" now and then, we know you recognize it as just in fun. Thanks to everyone who wrote in! If YOU have any questions or comments for us, be sure to write to us at email@example.com, or you can post something through social media on our facebook or Twitter pages. You never know, maybe you'll see yours here on the show!
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