“OPERATION VARSITY BLUES”

On Tuesday, the Justice Department charged 50 people across 6 states – including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin – as part of a multi-million-dollar scheme to get academically mediocre kids admitted to impossible-to-get-into universities like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and others. The alleged ringleader of this operation is a 58-year old college prep expert named William “Rick” Singer.  He eagerly took bribe money (over $25 million, funneled through a phony nonprofit) from well-heeled, but desperate parents. And he bucked the system essentially one of two ways: by collaborating w/SAT/ACT administrators to manipulate test scores or by using his connections w/college coaches to position non-athletes as athletes (This is where Loughlin and her husband got into trouble – allegedly paying $500,000 to have their two non-rowing daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team?!?!). Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. No schools have been charged, no one knows what’s going to happen to the parents (though some attorneys are expecting jail time for the actresses, if only to send a message), and as for the students? Authorities say they were likely unaware that this was happening.

GROUNDED PLANES

Why did two deadly plane crashes happen within a span of just a few months…right after takeoff? Fingers point to the aircraft itself, per newly-discovered evidence, so all Boeing 737 Max planes have been grounded (a move that could cost the company billions of dollars) pending the results of an investigation. Meantime, airlines are scrambling to rebook passengers and reassign planes.

‘BOMB CYCLONE’

Spring may be a few days away, but Mother Nature is still pissed–clearly. This past week, she delivered a ‘bomb cyclone’ [what it is – here] that made its way across parts of the country, striking its midsection and affecting some 70 million people in its path. Blizzard conditions and hurricane-force winds sparked all sorts of problems – from airline cancellations (about 3,100 nationwide), to car pile-ups, power outages, flooding, evacuations, and more. One death has been reported.

A RECORD-BREAKING CAPTAIN MARVEL

Not only did Captain Marvel score the biggest worldwide opening – ever – for a female-led film, but it also had the second-largest worldwide opening for any superhero film behind Avengers: Infinity War, and had the sixth best worldwide opening of any film ever. Just something to keep in mind as the movie, starring the super-cute Brie Larson, looks to dominate the charts again this weekend.

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