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Utah Senator Orrin Hatch Announces He Will Retire At End of Term

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said on Tuesday he would retire when his current term ends next year, opening the door for a possible political comeback by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Ending speculation of whether he would seek reelection after more than three decades in office, Hatch, 83, made the announcement in a short video, saying “every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.” President Donald Trump had urged Hatch to run again, a move that would have prevented Romney from potentially filling his seat.  Romney issued a statement shortly after Hatch’s announcement, writing on Facebook, “I join the people of Utah in thanking my friend, Senator Orrin Hatch for his more than forty years of service to our great state and nation.” ...Read more

Florida, Georgia and South Carolina Brace For Snow and Ice Storms

A new storm is making its way to the Southeast Wednesday, likely dumping rain, sleet and some snow before moving north. The storm has prompted schools to close in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Ice has already formed on fountains in some southern cities, including Savannah, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In northern Florida and southern Georgia, a dangerous mix of snow and ice are in the forecast for Wednesday morning, and residents of cities including Tallahassee, Florida, and Valdosta, Georgia, may see up to an inch of snow on the roadways during the Wednesday morning commute. Georgia and the Carolinas may see 1 to 3 inches of snow. ...Read more

Quarterback Carson Palmer Of Arizona Cardinals Retires After 15 Seasons

Quarterback Carson Palmer released a letter announcing his retirement from football on Tuesday. He played 15 seasons in the NFL and has been with the Cardinals for the past five years. Palmer spent 8 years in Cincinnati and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006. He then spent two years with the Raiders before moving to the Cardinals, where he reached the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. His 2017 season was cut short by a broken left arm, suffered in a 33-0 loss to the Rams in Week 7. Palmer’s retirement comes just two days after the Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians retired after Arizona beat the Seahawks to finish 8-8 on the season.  ...Read more

Bengals Sign Head Coach Marvin Lewis To Two-Year Contract Extension Through 2019

The Cincinnati Bengals have signed a two-year contract extension with head coach Marvin Lewis to keep him at the helm through 2019. Lewis met with the team’s ownership on Monday to discuss the future plans. The Bengals missed the playoffs at the end of the season with a 7–9 record. Lewis’ contract and his 15th season as head coach came to an end with a 31–27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Under Lewis, the Bengals are 0–7 in the playoffs, which is the worst postseason coaching record in NFL history. However, his 125 career victories for the Bengals are the most in franchise history. Lewis is the second-longest active tenured coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick’s 18 years with the New England Patriots. ...Read more

NBC Names Hoda Kotb As Permanent ‘Today’ Show Co-Host

Hoda Kotb has been named as the new co-anchor of the Today show, taking up the position vacated by Matt Lauer after he was fired from NBC after sexual misconduct allegations in November. Kotb made her official debut on Tuesday, alongside co-host Savannah Guthrie, directly after a statement from NBC chairman Andy Lack announced her promotion. Kotb and Guthrie will co-host the 7 to 9 a.m. hours of the Today show, and Kotb will continue to host the 10 a.m. hour of Today alongside Kathie Lee Gifford, NBC News said in a statement. ...Read more

Justin Timberlake Announces New Album ‘Man of the Woods’

Justin Timberlake announced that his fifth studio album will be released Friday, Feb. 2, two days before he takes the halftime stage at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. A single from the album will drop this Friday, January 5.  In the teaser for the video, Timberlake talks about his wife, Jessica Biel, and the impact she and their son have had on his music. He said that more than any other album he’s written it’s also inspired by Tennessee, where he originates from. ...Read more

U.S. Airports Suffer Technical Glitch As Passport System Goes Down

A two-hour outage in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s processing systems caused delays at some of the nation’s biggest airports on New Year’s Day. In a statement, CBP said the outage began at 7:30 p.m. and ended at 9:30 p.m. All the airports involved are currently back online, according to CBP, though some are still experiencing effects from the outage. “CBP took immediate action to address the technology disruption,” the agency said in a statement. “CBP officers continued to process international travelers using alternative procedures at affected airports. Travelers at some ports of entry experienced longer than usual wait times as CBP officers processed travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security. ...Read more

Costa Rican Plane Crash Victims Include New York And Florida Families

A family of five from New York, vacationing in Costa Rica, were among the victims of a New Year’s Eve plane crash that killed all 12 people on board, investigators and local media have revealed. The small plane carrying 10 American tourists and two local crew members crashed and burst into flames in a wooded area in in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica, the government reported Sunday. Five of the victims were identified as Americans Bruce, Irene, Matthew, William and Zachary Steinberg, from Scarsdale, New York.  In St. Petersburg, Florida, Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B’nai Israel said Monday that four members of his congregation, Drs. Mitchell Weiss and Leslie Weiss and their two children, Hannah and Ari, also died in the crash. ...Read more

TV Host Maria Menounos Gets Married During New Year’s Eve Broadcast

Maria Menounos married her fiance Keven Undergaro, her beau of 20 years, during the live broadcast she was hosting of Fox’s New Year’s Eve special from Times Square in New York City. Her co-host, talk-show and game-show king Steve Harvey, officiated. The idea for the on-air ceremony came just two weeks ago when a producer mentioned to Menounos that she had hoped for an on-air wedding of a different couple, unless she and Undergaro wanted to finally get hitched. The guest list included her parents, Constantine and Litsa Menounos, who has stage 4 brain cancer. ...Read more

Hollywood’s A-List Women Launch Anti-Harassment Initiative Time’s Up

As a symbol of continuity and momentum from 2017, over 300 women from Hollywood signed “Time’s Up,” an 2018 anti-harassment initiative that launched Jan. 1, 2018. Lead by attorney Anita Hill, the initiative includes legal defense funding and an open letter detailing their plan of action. Members that make up the 300 include actresses Ashley Judd, America Ferrera, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, and Eva Longoria, chairwoman of Universal Pictures Donna Langley, and lawyers Nina L. Shaw and Tina Tchen. The new initiative aims to help working-class women with funding and support for workplace harassment outside of the typical circles of power and influence.   ...Read more