President Biden holds solo formal press conference ahead of 1-year mark in office

President Joe Biden held a formal news conference at the White House on Wednesday, the eve of the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.  Wednesday’s session marked just the second time Biden has held a solo formal press conference at the White House; the first such news conference was held March 25, 2021.

Biden took questions from reporters on his handling of the pandemic, the economy and legislative agenda, and characterizing the country as unified.  Before fielding questions from reporters, Biden said: “It’s been a year of challenges, but it’s also many years of enormous progress.” 

Biden touted wins over the year, including administering more than 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and hitting record-low unemployment rates in many states — despite Biden’s approval rating in polls hitting an all-time low. In his opening remarks, Biden acknowledged: “Should we have done more testing earlier? Yes. But we’re doing more now. We’ve gone from zero at-home tests a year ago to 375 million tests on the market just this month.” On the subject of COVID-19, Biden said the country is “in a better place than we’ve been and have been thus far” and reiterated his position not to go back to lockdowns and school closures.

When Biden was questioned as to whether he overpromised to the American public what his administration could achieve in office one year in, the President replied:  “Look, I didn’t overpromise. I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen. The fact of the matter is that we’re in a situation where we have made enormous progress.”  He then acknowledged: “One thing I haven’t been able to do so far, is get my Republican friends to get in the game of making things better in this country. I did not anticipate that there’d be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done.”

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NHL reschedules 98 postponed games; season set to end on time this April 29

On Wednesday, the NHL announced they have rescheduled 98 games that were postponed because of the surge of COVID-19 cases.  Of those 98, 95 will be made up during the break in schedule that was initially to be used for the league’s participation in the Olympics in February.   In total, the league has postponed 104 games for COVID-19-related reasons this season.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said: “We are profoundly grateful to our fans for their support and understanding during a challenging time and to our clubs, the NHL Players’ Association and the players for their cooperation in a rescheduling of unprecedented logistical complexity.”  

Despite the revised schedule, the NHL is still on track to complete the regular season on time by the end of April. The regular season is set to conclude on April 29, which would allow the traditional 16-team playoffs to begin in early May as originally planned.  The full list of rescheduled games can be found here.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians fined $50,000 for slapping safety Andrew Adams’ helmet

The NFL has fined Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians $50,000 for striking Bucs safety Andrew Adams on the helmet during the team’s 31-15 playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles.  Arians said during his news conference on Wednesday: “I’ll appeal it. It ain’t got nothing to do with the game, so we’re good.”

The incident happened during the second half of Sunday’s game, right after Tampa Bay recovered a fumble by Eagles punt returner Jalen Reagor near the Bucs’ sideline in the third quarter. Following the play, Arians stepped into the field and struck Adams on the helmet with an open left hand. Arians said on Monday he did not regret it, and that the physical contact was to avoid his team getting a penalty: “No, I’ve seen enough dumb (things). You can’t pull guys out of a pile. We just got a big play, great field position, and he’s trying to pull a guy out of a pile. And I was trying to knock him off that guy so he didn’t get a penalty.”  However, video shows that Adams had already disengaged from the pile; it appeared to be more about admonishment than penalty prevention.

Tampa Bay will face the Los Angeles Rams in this Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round Game.

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Dolly Parton shares the song ‘Big Dreams and Faded Jeans’s and announces new LP

Country icon Dolly Parton surprised fans with the release of a brand new song, “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans,” a track from her upcoming collection of songs which will serve as the companion album to her novel, Run, Rose, Run.

Written by Dolly herself, Parton said of the new song: “Whether they’re running from anything or not, they’re running towards a future. That’s what ‘Big Dreams and Faded Jeans’ is all about. I am so pleased to finally share the first song from this exciting new album with all of you!”   You can listen to the new track – here.

Run, Rose, Run (the album) includes 12-tracks, and is set to drop just days before the novel’s release on March 4. It will be available on all digital streaming platforms, and for digital download, as well as in CD, standard vinyl and some special vinyl color variant.

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Zac Brown Band hitting the road for 2022 ‘Out in the Middle Tour’

Zac Brown Band will kick off the 34-date North American Out in the Middle Tour on April 22 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.  The 2022 Out in the Middle Tour will wrap up Nov. 19 at Phoenix’s Chase Field, and will include stadium shows in Frisco, Texas, and Akron, Ohio.  Caroline Jones, who performed as a special guest with Zac Brown Band during The Comeback Tour, will be returning; and the Robert Randolph Band will open the majority of shows (other supporting acts are TBD.)

The Out in the Middle Tour includes stops at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Boston’s Fenway Park, New York’s Citi Field and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl.  Brown said in a statement: “Performing in front of millions of fans around the world is one of the most electrifying and humbling feelings. We’re so excited to go back out on the road and keep the unbelievable momentum going from [2021’s] ‘The Comeback Tour.’ It’s been such an incredible year for the band, debuting some of the best music we’ve ever made, and we are thrilled to continue playing live for our amazing fans.”

Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Jan. 21 at ZacBrownBand.com.

Zac Brown Band Will Play Ballparks on 2022 U.S. Tour

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Celebrities pay tribute to the late André Leon Talley, former Vogue editor and fashion icon

The fashion world and celebrities are mourning the loss of André Leon Talley, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 73. Talley died in at White Plains Hospital from an unknown illness; his friend Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, confirmed the news in a statement, saying: “André Leon Talley was a singular force in an industry that he had to fight to be recognized in.”

Talley became the first African American creative director of Vogue in 1988, where he worked closely with editor-in-chief Anna Wintour before departing in 1995. He returned to the publication in 1998 and served as editor-at-large until 2013.

Kim Kardashian posted on her Instagram Story along with photo of herself holding hands with the fashion legend: “Love you Andre,” while Kris Jenner wrote: “I am so saddened to hear of the passing of André Leon Talley. We shared some very memorable times together and I will always remember how kind he was to me and my family.”  Actress Cynthia Erivo posted a video tribute to Instagram of Talley, writing, “A devastating loss for fashion today. Rest In Peace Mr Andre Leon Talley. 🌹

Fashion icons also paid tribute to Talley. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg remembered her friend with an Instagram tribute: “Good bye darling André ❤🙏… no one saw the world in a more elegant and glamorous way than you did ❤🙏… no one was more soulful and grander than you were ❤🙏…the world will be less joyful now ❤🙏 I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years…. I will miss your loud screams and your loyal friendship…I love you soooo much ❤🙏 .”

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Gaspard Ulliel, ‘Hannibal Rising’ and ‘Moon Knight’ actor, dies at age 37 following ski accident

French actor Gaspard Ulliel, known for his role in the film ‘Hannibal Rising’ and the upcoming Marvel miniseries ‘Moon Knight,’ has died following a skiing accident. Ulliel was 37.

Following reports that Ulliel had been hospitalized Tuesday after suffering a head injury during a collision on the slopes in the Savoie region of France, his agent and family confirmed that he was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Grenoble, where he died on Wednesday.  A Disney spokesperson said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of our friend and colleague Gaspard Ulliel. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this time.”

In his first English-speaking role, Ulliel starred as a young Hannibal Lecter in the feature Hannibal Rising. His final film was the French romantic comedy Sibyl with Virginie Efira and Adèle Exarchopoulos, which competed for Cannes’ Palme d’Or in 2019.  Ulliel was cast in Moon Knight in July 2021, playing Anton Mogart/Midnight Man in the upcoming Disney+ series alongside Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke.

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House January 6 committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani and three other Trump allies

On Tuesday, the House select committee investigating the January 6 assault on U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas to former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and three others – Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell, two lawyers who worked to promote the president’s false claims about the election, as well as Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump White House aide.

The committee is demanding documents and testimony from Giuliani, Ellis, Powell, and Boris Epshteyn, who all challenged the 2020 election results. The panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement: “the four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes.”

Giuliani, Ellis, Powell, and Boris Epshteyn participated in a November 19, 2020 press conference that featured outlandish claims the election had been stolen and that Trump had won in a “landslide.”

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Website for free at-home COVID test kits is launched one day early

One day ahead of the scheduled rollout of free COVID-19 tests distributed by the Biden administration, Americans are able to place orders for their free test kits through a form posted by the U.S. Postal Service. The White House announced last week that it would publicly launch the site covidtests.gov on Wednesday, 1/19. However, by Tuesday morning the site was up and running.  By early Tuesday afternoon, more than 500,000 users were visiting the test website. Every household is eligible to order four rapid antigen COVID-19 tests for free, to be delivered by the Postal Service, which will begin shipping tests in late January.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday: “It will officially launch tomorrow morning. It’s in the beta testing phase right now.”   A White House official said in a statement that the website is running at “limited capacity” as the government works to troubleshoot potential issues ahead of its formal launch Wednesday. An announcement was added to the webpage on Tuesday afternoon, saying that the administration has “tests for every residential address in the U.S.” and urged Americans to “check back tomorrow if you run into any unexpected issues.”

The White House also says it plans to launch a hotline that will allow Americans to order their own tests over the phone, if they have difficulty ordering on the website. Orders of the COVID-19 tests will be delivered for free via first-class mail. .

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LA Clippers’ Paul George to have extended period of rest due to right elbow injury

The LA Clippers announced on Tuesday that they are extending Paul George’s period of rest for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.  The Clippers will see how his elbow responds to determine his timetable for return.

Back on Christmas Day, the Clippers initially said George would be evaluated for the injury in three to four weeks. The seven-time All-Star hasn’t seen the court since Los Angeles beat the Kings 105-89 on Dec. 22.  George was averaging 24.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game on the season prior to the injury.

The Clippers have gone 5-8 in George’s absence, and are also playing without Kawhi Leonard, who is rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee for the entire season.

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