вход по аккаунту


USA Today December 25 2017

код для вставкиСкачать
Refresh your
digital footprint
for 2018
Every time you search online,
you leave a track — and it’s not hidden.
Learn how to keep it private. In Money
A 2014 fire at Scranton Cooperage in Jessup, Pa., erupted when a forklift operator punctured a drum of sodium chlorite. BUTCH COMEGYS/SCRANTON TIMES-TRIBUNE
Industrial barrel recycling
plants rack up violations
John Diedrich Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A group of workers poured leftover chemicals into a 250-gallon plastic container sitting on the
floor of a Joliet, Ill., plant that recycles and refurbishes barrels and totes. ❚ “Go feel that and
tell me if it’s warm,” a supervisor said when they were finished. ❚ It wasn’t, so the men went
to lunch. ❚ When they came back, the container was a hot cauldron sending smoke and liquid
to the ceiling like a giant Roman candle.
The Joliet Fire Department was called, as was the
hazardous materials crew. It took six hours to clear
the scene at Tote Detailing. No one was injured, but
the October 2014 incident was another alarm for the
facility — and the barrel reconditioning industry.
The industry, which presents itself as a friend of
the environment, has a hidden record of chemical
spills and deadly explosions, frequent fires, and
pollution of the air, ground and water, a Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel investigation found.
The Journal Sentinel reviewed a decade’s worth
of state and federal environmental and workplace
records for 50 barrel recycling plants in Illinois,
Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Texas and California.
The examination found that 35 of the plants had
violations and complaints — including several with
repeat violations — but the companies rarely were
fined by regulators, and when they were, the tallies
were typically $15,000 or less.
A plant in California was cited for storing hazardous waste without a permit. One in Indiana was
keeping chemicals on site before a major fire. And a
plant in Florida was cited for polluting the air
Barrels and totes marked as “non-hazardous” waste
were stored at Tote Detailing in Joliet, Ill., in
December 2014 when state and federal investigators
toured the plant. The inspections followed an
incident in which leftover chemicals combined into a
supposedly empty tote exploded. JAMES HAENNICKE
through its sandblasting operation.
Multiple plants triggered complaints from nearby residents about the air being fouled.
The findings build on what the Journal Sentinel
found in an earlier investigation into a string of barrel recycling plants that include three in the Milwaukee area. Those plants were endangering workers and residents when chemicals were mixed together, causing reactions and sending noxious
fumes into the air.
The Journal Sentinel’s analysis examined records of plants belonging to the industry trade group
Reusable Industrial Packaging Association, or
RIPA, which represents about 90% of the nation’s
barrel recycling operations.
The problems are likely much deeper.
Some of the worst plants don’t belong to RIPA
and are virtually unknown to regulators — and
those companies handle the dirtiest drums for companies that are eager to quietly get rid of hazardous
waste illegally, according to both an industry executive and an outside consultant, who asked not to
be named to protect their jobs.
“There are parts (of the industry) that are very
dangerous and you really have to stay on top of it,”
said the executive, who has spent 20 years in the
industry. “The problem is nobody does, because
(the drums and containers) are like rabbits — they
keep coming.
“You can’t process them fast enough.”
Each year, 27 million drums and totes are procSee BARRELS, Page 2T
FDA plans crackdown on homeopathic drugs
Josh Hafner
IC in
of Americans say they are
most likely to regift holiday
presents to co-workers.
SOURCE Personal Creations survey of
1,000+ adults
A booming homeopathic industry
has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to announce a crackdown
on potentially risky alternative remedies that now slip through its regulatory cracks.
The homeopathic drug market grew
“exponentially” over the past decade
into a nearly $3 billion industry, the
FDA said, resulting in a flood of products manufactured without the agency’s approval.
The plans, which were announced
last week, place scrutiny on products
aimed at children and infants, as well as
those marketed for life-threatening ailments like heart disease and cancer.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a large
uptick in products labeled as homeopathic that are being marketed for a
wide array of diseases and conditions,
from the common cold to cancer,” FDA
Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a
“In many cases, people may be placing their trust and money in therapies
that may bring little to no benefit in
combating serious ailments, or worse —
that may cause significant and even ir-
reparable harm because the products
are poorly manufactured, or contain active ingredients that aren’t adequately
tested or disclosed to patients.”
The FDA’s move follows a string of
warnings issued on specific homeopathic products, such as baby teething
tablets, and actions from the Federal
Trade Commission to improve such
products’ labels.
Homeopathic remedies aim to treat
illnesses with diluted forms of substances that cause an illnesses’ symptoms.
The treatments are derived from
plants, minerals and chemicals.
Continued from Page 1T
essed for reuse or scrapping at more
than 100 facilities across the country. In
many cases, they arrive with unidentified chemicals sloshing in the bottom,
which — when mixed or mishandled —
can lead to injuries and deaths.
Paul Rankin, president of the trade
association, noted the industry handles
drums and containers that would otherwise end up in landfills.
“The reconditioning business has
been around 100 years and it provides a
service to industry in the U.S. and
around the world in an environmentally
sound way,” he said. “It is a service that
is valued and needed.”
Colin O’Malley, an attorney who represented residents who successfully
Corrections & Clarifications
USA TODAY is committed to
accuracy. To reach us,
contact Standards Editor
Brent Jones at
800-872-7073 or e-mail
Please indicate whether
you’re responding to
content online or in the
John Zidich
Joanne Lipman
Kevin Gentzel
7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, Va. 22108,
Published by Gannett
The local edition of USA TODAY is published daily
in partnership with Gannett Newspapers
Advertising: All advertising published in USA
TODAY is subject to the current rate card; copies
available from the advertising department. USA
TODAY may in its sole discretion edit, classify,
reject or cancel at any time any advertising
National, Regional: 703-854-3400
Reprint permission, copies of articles, glossy
reprints: or call 212-221-9595
USA TODAY is a member of The Associated Press
and subscribes to other news services. USA
TODAY, its logo and associated graphics are
registered trademarks. All rights reserved.
won a lawsuit over health problems
linked to the Acme Barrel plant in Chicago, said the industry has cultivated an
image of being green and helping the
But under pressure from customers
to get rid of the chemicals in the barrels,
he said, the businesses are often the opposite.
“The narrative has always been this
is a recycling company,” O’Malley said.
“It is not a recycling company. It is an
unlicensed hazardous waste facility
masquerading as a barrel company.”
Years of problems
The Joliet plant, once known as JOIL
Cleaning, is in an industrial park, but
about 1,000 feet from a neighborhood of
homes. The plant’s neighbors have repeatedly complained about noxious
odors from the operation.
According to Illinois environmental
and local fire and police records:
In May 2011, firefighters were summoned for black smoke coming from the
building. They discovered a semi-truck
on fire inside.
Six months later, firefighters were
called again, this time for an odor complaint from the Troy Titans baseball facility nearby. The firefighters quickly
detected the odor, too.
“We found conditions to be very
questionable,” the department’s report
said. “There was a ‘green’ liquid coming
from the exterior dumpster.” Green liquid from some of the plastic containers
was going right down the drain.
A man who identified himself as “the
boss” promised to clean it up.
Two weeks later, another odor complaint. This time, children at the baseball facility reported feeling ill and having headaches from the smell.
The plant manager was told “he must
take care of the fumes,” the report said.
It gave no indication of whether there
was additional enforcement action.
Three years later, the fire department
was back — for a chemical mixture that
shot smoke and liquids into the air.
Joliet Fire Chief Joe Formhals toured
the plant two months after the mishap.
He was shocked at what he saw: A
collection of hazardous chemicals on
site with no permits. In a report to state
environmental regulators, Formhals
wrote that plant officials had no way to
say what chemicals there were on site at
any given time or how dangerous they
A 2014 fire at Indianapolis Drum Service, also known as Indy Drum, took 80
Read the investigation
To read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s investigation into the hazards to workers
and nearby residents of barrel recycling plants, go to
were. The training and safety equipment also were poor, he added.
“We have had a couple of other incidents at this property over the last few
years and with its close proximity to a
residential area, the next incident could
be disastrous,” Formhals wrote.
Records show no punitive action was
taken by state environmental regulators
after they visited the plant.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and
Health Administration inspected the
plant and found eight violations, ranging from how the plant handled hazardous materials to poor record keeping.
The fine was $10,400, but negotiated
down to $5,640.
OSHA was back last year and found
two of the same violations related to
failing to train workers on potential
risks. The penalty? $2,000.
Fire highlights unknown threat
Fires are a hazard of the drum reconditioning business. In May 2014, a fire at
Indianapolis Drum Service underscored
the risks. It took 80 firefighters to get the
three-alarm blaze under control. Residents were forced to stay in their homes
for hours. The fire destroyed much of
the 30,000-square-foot metal building.
The cause of the fire: Spontaneous
combustion of chemicals.
Hayden Smith, who lives about 100
yards from the plant, remembers the
mad scramble by firefighters, who
donned hazardous material masks and
other protective gear.
“Guys were going nuts trying to figure
out what it was,” said Smith, 69, a retired truck driver who sometimes transported hazardous materials. “It was a
hodgepodge of everything. Flammables. Acids. They didn’t know what they
were dealing with.”
In June 2014, a fire ripped through
Scranton Cooperage, a drum reconditioning facility in Pennsylvania. A 55gallon drum holding sodium chlorite
was punctured and ignited a fire.
Eric Spatt, owner of the business,
was charged with mishandling hazardous chemicals. He is accused of storing
dangerous waste over a period of approximately 13 years, allowing the
drums to deteriorate during that time,
according to the criminal complaint.
Spatt had never applied for a permit
to store, process, treat or dispose of solid waste at the business, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said.
Here are 2017’s most-read stories
had the same question: What time is the
eclipse where I live?
Josh Hafner USA TODAY
Go figure: The storyline of Donald Trump’s first year in office was
eclipsed by those of a kiss cam, a diet trend, a dead elk and well, an
actual eclipse. ❚ In fact, lunar events and Trump’s whirlwind presidency
Fourteen-year-old Missouri hunter
Abby Wilson fixed her aim on the antlered beast and fired. She called her dad,
Donald White, over to examine the
felled deer. He found something else:
The carcass of an elk, the kind protected
in their home state of Missouri. Overhunting helped wipe elk out of the state
in the early 1900s, and Missouri conservation experts said the elk was 200
miles from a herd reintroduced there
years ago. Though Abby had passed a
hunter education course, her dad said
she faced bullying online after the errant kill.
both cracked our list of top-read stories twice, the only topics to take
multiple spots. ❚ An assortment of coverage parts tragic, heartwarming
and practical rounded out the rest. ❚ Tragic and tender, colossal and
small, here are our 10 most-read stories of 2017.
No way, Jose: A hurricane
spares the U.S.
First came Harvey. The hurricane
drowned Texas’ Gulf Coast and killed
dozens in August. Irma sawed up Florida’s Gulf Coast the following month,
causing a power outage that killed 14
patients at a single nursing home. It
makes sense, then, that readers watched
Hurricane Jose with interest as it ambled
up the Atlantic. The storm eventually
faded off the East Coast, just before Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.
He opened fire on thousands
of concertgoers. Why?
After bullets rang out that left 58
dead and hundreds injured at a Las Vegas music festival, Americans asked the
same questions as always: Who, and
why? The first proved easier to answer.
It was 64-year-old Stephen Craig
Paddock, a wealthy gambler and retired
accountant, who mowed down concertgoers while perched from his hotel
room. He killed himself prior to capture,
leaving behind 23 weapons and incalculable pain and destruction. No clear motive arose in the days that followed.
How low can Trump go? USA
TODAY’s Editorial Board asks.
Our Editorial Board skewered thencandidate Donald Trump as “unfit for
the presidency“ last year in a rare disendorsement that made this list. This
year? Trump’s “not fit to clean the toilets
in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W.
Bush.” The scathing sequel dropped this
month in response to a tweet in which
Trump chose to “all but call Sen. Kirsten
Gillibrand a whore,” the board said.
Verizon onlookers clamor
over a limitless plan
Verizon joined the unlimited party
this year as growing competition forced
the No. 1 provider to offer a new plan.
Mounting competition forced Verizon to
cave in this year as the No.1 wireless provider debuted its own unlimited plan —
the last major carrier to do so. The $80
per month offering came after T-Mobile
and Sprint gained ground using similar
plans to grow their user bases in an age
of endless Instagrams, Snapchats and
Secret no more: Trump’s
travel taxes agents
President Trump retreats to Trump
properties most weekends, bringing a
taxpayer-funded fleet with him (and
spending thousands at his own resorts).
All travel takes a toll on the Secret Service’s budget, and that’s before you factor in agents protecting Donald Trump
Jr. and Eric Trump as they open a golf
course in Dubai and Ivanka Trump on
her ski vacation to Aspen. By August,
more than 1,000 Secret Service agents
had hit salary and overtime caps meant
to last all year, with hundreds of agents
going unpaid.
An eclipse and a comet
add to space trifecta
A rare triple-header lit up the night
That’s no deer: Teenage
girl shoots elk in Missouri
The Trumps view the solar eclipse
from the White House on Aug. 21.
sky last February when an eclipse, a full
moon and a comet all appeared early
one Saturday morning. The eclipse was
a “penumbral” one where the moon
moved through Earth’s outer shadow —
an appetizer for August’s total eclipse.
And the comet, called 45P, made its
closest approach to earth at “only” 7.4
million miles away.
The day all of
America looked up
Untold Americans last August
stepped outside, slid on cardboard
glasses and gazed upward. The total solar eclipse stopped the nation in its
tracks, promising sky gazers nationwide a view of the moon’s journey past
the sun. The first such eclipse to span
the nation in almost 100 years marked a
once-in-a-lifetime event, and everyone
Is it all over for
coconut oil? Yes and no
To the dismay of CrossFit enthusiasts everywhere, the American Heart
Association reported in June that coconut oil is really not good for your cardiovascular health. Yes, coconut oil’s
chemical components can boost the
metabolism, researchers found, but the
oil also upped “bad” cholesterol in all of
its seven controlled trials. And coconut
oil packs more saturated fat than butter,
beef fat, palm oil — and that’s a recipe
for cardiovascular disease. Keep it in
your bathroom though: The oil still
makes for a mean skin moisturizer.
A kiss cam captures
love from every angle
During downtime at this year’s NFL
Pro Bowl in Orlando, a camera scans the
audience for couples game to share a
kiss. When a man and a woman appear
on the stadium screen, the man turns
instead to kiss a man on his right. The
kiss cam features a parade of diverse
couples thereafter: A biracial couple, a
lesbian couple, two friends of different
faiths who hug. A man leans over to kiss
his wife in a wheelchair. The resulting
PSA from the NFL and Ad Council for
the Love Has No Labels campaign went
Elderly cancer screens questioned
Some doctors believe such exams can harm rather than benefit older patients
Liz Szabo
Kaiser Health News
Elena Altemus is 89 and has dementia. She often forgets her children’s
names, and sometimes can’t recall
whether she lives in Maryland or Italy.
Yet Elena, who entered a nursing
home in November, was screened for
breast cancer as recently as this summer. “If the screening is not too invasive,
why not?” asked her daughter, Dorothy
Altemus. “I want her to have the best
quality of life possible.”
But a growing chorus of geriatricians,
cancer specialists and health system
analysts are coming forth with a host of
reasons: Such testing in the nation’s
oldest patients is highly unlikely to detect lethal disease, is hugely expensive
and is more likely to harm than help
since any follow-up testing and treatment are often invasive.
And yet such screening — some have
labeled it “overdiagnosis” — is epidemic
in the United States, the result of medical culture, aggressive awareness campaigns and financial incentives to doctors.
By looking for cancers in people who
are unlikely to benefit, “we find something that wasn’t going to hurt the patient, and then we hurt the patient,” said
Sei Lee, an associate professor of geriatrics at the University of California-San
Nearly one in five women with severe
cognitive impairment, including older
patients like Elena Altemus, are still getting regular mammograms, according to
the American Journal of Public Health
— even though they’re not recommended for people with a limited life expectancy. And 55% of older men with a high
risk of death over the next decade still
get PSA tests for prostate cancer, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Internal
Among people in their 70s and 80s,
cancer screenings often detect slowgrowing tumors that are unlikely to
cause problems in patients’ lifetimes.
These patients often die of something
else — from dementia to heart disease
or pneumonia — long before their can-
A radiologist checks a lung X-ray. The treatment for something that won’t hurt
an older patient can end up hurting the patient. UTAH778 GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO
cers would ever have become a threat,
said Deborah Korenstein, chief of general internal medicine at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Prostate cancers, in particular, are often
Patients with dementia, for example,
rarely live longer than a few years.
“It generally takes about 10 years to
see benefit from cancer screening, at
least in terms of a mortality benefit,” Korenstein said.
Enthusiasm for cancer screenings
runs high among patients and doctors,
both of whom tend to overestimate the
benefits but underappreciate the risks,
medical research shows.
In some cases, women are being
screened for tumors in organs they no
longer have. In a study of women over
30, nearly two-thirds who had undergone a hysterectomy got at least one
cervical cancer screening, including
one-third who had been screened in the
past year, according to a 2014 study in
JAMA Internal Medicine.
Even some patients with terminal
cancers continue to be screened for other malignancies.
Nine percent of women with ad-
vanced cancers — including tumors of
the lung, colon or pancreas — received a
mammogram and 6% received a cervical cancer screen, according to a 2010
study of Medicare recipients over age
65. Among men on Medicare with incurable cancer, 15% were screened for prostate cancer.
Although screenings can extend and
improve lives for healthy, younger
adults, they tend to inflict more harm
than good in people who are old and
frail, Korenstein said. Testing can lead
to anxiety, invasive follow-up procedures and harsh treatments.
“In patients well into their 80s, with
other chronic conditions, it’s highly unlikely that they will receive any benefit
from screening, and more likely that the
harms will outweigh the benefits,” said
Cary Gross, a professor at the Yale
School of Medicine.
By screening patients near the end of
life, doctors often detect tumors that
don’t need to be found and treated. Researchers estimate that up to two-thirds
of prostate cancers are overdiagnosed,
along with one-third of breast tumors.
“Overdiagnosis is serious,” Gross
said. “It’s a tremendous harm that
U.S. Marines
and South
soldiers in
white winter
engage in
during a
drill Dec. 19.
show boom
in Idaho
Idaho saw its population boom by
2.2% over the last year, leading the nation in population growth during that
period, according to new U.S. Census
Bureau data estimates.
The Gem State was followed by Nevada (2%), Utah (1.9%) and Washington (1.7%), and western states accounted for seven of the 10 states to
see the biggest growth in terms of percentage of population between July
2016 and July 2017, according to the
Idaho boasts a strong economy and
an unemployment rate of 2.9%. The
state’s Department of Labor earlier
this year published a forecast predicting population would grow by about
1.4% annually through 2025, pushing
Idaho's population to about 1.9 million
Domestic migration drove change
in Idaho and Nevada, while an excess
of births over deaths played a major
part in the growth of Utah, said Luke
Rogers, chief of the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates branch.
Texas tallied the biggest numeric
growth, with its population increasing
by nearly 400,000 residents in 2017.
The state’s population now stands at
nearly 28.3 million residents — an increase of more than 3 million since
Meanwhile, seven states and Puerto Rico recorded population losses
over the last year.
Illinois lost more than 33,000 residents, dropping to the sixth-mostpopulous state in the union with
12,802,023 residents. It’s the fourth
straight year that Illinois has recorded
a population decline, according to the
census data.
Wyoming had the largest percentage decline among states, about 1%.
The U.S. population grew by
2.3 million to 325.7 million, a less than
1% increase in population.
Will North Korea’s Kim Jong Un
disrupt the 2018 Winter Olympics?
Jim Michaels
The 2018 Olympics could be a turning
point in relations between North and
South Korea.
What no one can predict, though, is
whether the Winter Games will set the
relationship on a road toward peace or
bring the countries closer to another
South Korean President Moon Jae-in
is attempting to use the games as a way
to lessen tensions. It’s not clear how the
North’s unpredictable leader, Kim Jong
Un, will react or whether he will try to
disrupt the games, as many South Koreans fear.
In a move toward reconciliation,
South Korea said last week it has requested that the United States delay upcoming joint military exercises until after the Olympics.
North Korea has a history of supporting terror attacks and assassination attempts against its southern neighbor.
The Olympics, which have always been
as much about geopolitics as they are
about sports, has been a flashpoint for
violence before.
In 1987, a pair of North Korean terrorists planted a bomb on a Korean Air
flight, killing more than 100 passengers
and crew. An investigation determined
the objective of the bombing was to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics in
Seoul by scaring off athletes and spectators.
North Korea hoped to prove that
Seoul couldn’t provide security for the
games at a critical time for its southern
For South Korea, the 1988 Games represented a “coming out,” said Patrick
Cronin, an analyst at the Center for a
New American Security. The country
was emerging from the shadows of a series of military and autocratic rulers
with a vibrant economy and democratic
Preparing for the 1988 Olympics
helped propel South Korea toward democracy, Victor Cha wrote in his book,
Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of
Sport in Asia. Cha, an analyst at the
Center for Strategic and International
screening has imposed. … It’s something we’re only beginning to reckon
A variety of medical specialties —
from the American College of Surgeons
to the Society of General Internal Medicine — have advised doctors against
screening patients with limited time
left. For example, the American Cancer
Society recommends prostate and
breast cancer screenings only in patients expected to live 10 years or more.
In November, a coalition of patient
advocates, employers and others included prostate screenings in men over
age 75 in its list of the top five “low-value” medical procedures. A. Mark Fendrick, co-director of the coalition, referred to the five procedures as “nobrainers,” arguing that health plans
should consider refusing to pay for
Prostate cancer screening in men
over 75 cost Medicare at least $145 million a year, according to a 2014 study in
the journal Cancer. Mammograms in
this age group cost the federal health
plan for seniors more than $410 million
a year, according to a 2013 study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Taxpayers usually foot the bill for
these tests, because most seniors are
covered by Medicare.
And while cancer screenings generally aren’t expensive — a mammogram
averages about $100 — they can launch
a cascade of follow-up tests and treatments that add to the total cost of care.
Most spending on unnecessary medical care stems not from rare, big-ticket
items, such as heart surgeries, but
cheaper services that are performed
much too often, according to an October
study in Health Affairs.
Doctors have a number of incentives
to continue ordering screening tests as
people age.
“It’s a lot easier to say, ‘Fine, get your
regular mammogram this year,’ than to
have the much more difficult conversation that it’s not helpful when life expectancy is limited,” Gross said.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially
independent part of the Kaiser Family
Studies, appears in line to become
President Trump’s ambassador in
Seoul, according to media reports.
Balazs Szalontai, an associate professor at Korea University, said it is unlikely that North Korea would attempt
a terrorist attack today. It is possible,
though, that the North might “try to
steal the limelight” and stage a naval
confrontation or carry out a missile
test in an effort to embarrass or humiliate South Korea.
South Korea wants to avoid that and
“will probably go to great lengths to
pacify and calm down North Korea,”
Szalontai said.
The two Koreas fought a war that
ended in 1953 with an armistice but
without a peace treaty.
Moon, who was elected on a platform of renewing a dialogue with the
North, has been trying to avoid antagonizing Kim’s regime. He also has
proposed that North and South Korea
participate as one team in the Olympics.
North Korea has not responded to
the offer.
Aamer Madhani
An orangutan watches as zoo workers (not
pictured) feed a crocodile during a Christmas
party for children. TED ALJIBE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Squirrel monkeys check out their holiday treats,
appropriately in a Christmas stocking, during a
A couple of penguins inspect a Christmas
present filled with fish at the Hanover,
Germany, zoo this month. PHILIPP VON DITFURTH/AP
Christmas can be a zoo
A diver dressed as Santa Claus, with flippers instead of boots, feeds marine animals in an aquarium at the Manila Oceanpark. FRANCIS R. MALASIG/EPA-EFE
ven zoo animals can get excited about a visit from Santa Claus. That’s because jolly ol’ Saint Nick brings gifts
in the form of treats — the edible kind, like he did on a visit to Sydney’s Symbio Wildlife Park in Australia. Zoo
staff led Santa into various wildlife habitats to leave surprises for the adorable koalas and cuddly kangaroos.
Each of the animals woke up the next morning excited to open their presents — everyone except James the
koala, who must have stayed up all night to catch a glimpse of Santa and just couldn’t resist the opportunity to
get a Christmas cuddle. The 30-plus ’roos and wallabies just couldn’t wait to see who could get to their presents first.
Santa Claus feeds an elephant during
the Christmas season at the Warsaw
These giraffes at the Taronga Zoo in
Sydney, Australia, enjoy treats with a
Christmas theme, even if they don’t
understand the Santa Claus message.
Study reveals
password of
2017 deemed
as the worst:
Brett Molina
Strong passwords, these were not.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi now
in theaters, “starwars” made its debut
among the worst passwords used in
2017, according to security company
The password “starwars” entered
their list in the 16th spot, ahead of
passwords including “passw0rd” and
“Hackers are using common terms
from pop culture and sports to break
into accounts online because they
know many people are using those
easy-to-remember words,” said Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData.
SplashData said in a statement that
the list is based on more than 5 million
passwords leaked during the year.
Once again, “123456” is the worst
password of the year, followed by
“password.” New entrants into
SplashData’s list include “123456789”
(No. 6) and “letmein” (No. 7).
The company estimates nearly 3%
Your browser keeps a record of your search history, unless you tell it not to. NICOELNINO/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO
3 ways to start the year
with a digital clean slate
Making a search online
leaves your fingerprint
Tech Talk
Kim Komando
of people used the worst password on
the list, while almost 10% have used at
least one of the top 25.
To keep accounts secure, users can
follow these tips:
Think passphrase, not password.
Originally, experts suggested thinking
of a super complex password with a
variety of numbers, uppercase and
lowercase letters, and symbols. The
problem is they’re way too tough to remember. Instead, consider a phrase
for your password, then tweak it with
numbers or symbols you can more
easily recall.
Use two-factor authentication.
Most big websites offer an additional
layer to the login process, where you
can request a text message with numeric code or confirmation through an
authenticator app to verify your identity.
Make passwords unique. Use a
different password for every website.
According to SplashData, if hackers
get a password for one set of credentials, they will try them across other
Consider password managers. If
you have a lot of logins to manage,
password managers such as Dashlane
and LastPass offer automatically generated passwords for the sites you use.
The user will have one master password they need to remember to log in
to the manager.
of drivers feel confident in
their winter driving abilities.
SOURCE Allstate survey of 1,189 drivers
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for
2018: de-clutter your digital history.
Your computer stores a huge amount
of browsing data, and in places you
might never think to look. This meticulous chronology makes you vulnerable
to snoops and advertising trackers.
The solution: eliminate it.
Here are three ways to cover your
tracks, using two of the biggest services on the Internet. You may be surprised how closely these companies
follow you, but you may be even more
surprised by how much control you
have over it.
1. Erase Google search history
Google’s mission is to know everything, so few are surprised that the
world’s most famous search engine
keeps close records of your browsing
history. This might seem harmless at
first: Your computer remembers the
websites you visit, so it’s easier to access them later on, right? What’s the
big deal?
But here’s another way to look at it:
The tech giant knows everything
you’ve ever searched. If you have a
Google account, the corporation archives it, not just on your computer,
but in its own databases. So, you can’t
just erase your search history from
your browser and hope for the best.
Google still knows all.
Speaking of tracking, many people
are unaware that Google also tracks
your physical location. You can see
where and when you go on a map.
The good news is that you can delete all that data, and you don’t have to
storm the Googleplex headquarters to
do it. Instead, you can clear your history from the comfort of your personal
computer, thanks to a little feature
called “My Activity.”
Google has dozens of basic features,
and most people would never notice
this option. But if you click My Account in the upper right corner, you
can hit My Activity >> Delete Activity
By. A little box will appear, and you can
change the Delete by Date field to All
Time. Google takes pains to remind
you how beneficial your search history
is, but you now have the option to remove all this data for good.
2. Erase Facebook search history
Would you believe that Facebook
keeps the same kind of records at Google? If anything, Facebook’s data is
Google’s Chrome browser. PAUL SAKUMA/AP
even more personal, such as clubs and
pastimes, because of the tidbits we
share with our social network.
Facebook also mines when you’ve
looked up an ex or a neighbor. If someone accesses your account, even by accident, that information is fully available.
Fortunately, you can wipe away your
Facebook search history with a few
clicks. To clear past searches, log in to
Facebook and go to the upside-down
triangle in the top-right corner. Click on
Activity Log. The Activity Log is where
Facebook tracks your actions within the
In the left column of the Activity Log,
under Photos, Likes and Comments,
click on the More link. Then scroll down
and click on the Search link. Here you’ll
see a list of every Facebook search
you’ve ever made, organized by date.
You can clear searches individually by
clicking the crossed-circle icon on the
Then click Remove in the box that appears. To clear every search, click on the
Clear Searches link located at the topright of the list.
3. Use covert search engines
Google has hundreds of millions of
users around the world, and the company’s name has become synonymous
with “finding information.” But remember, you don’t have to use Google, and as
handy as the service is, there are other
ways to navigate around the web.
DuckDuckGo has a mission to keep
users’ information private and to prevent personalized search results. The
search engine includes nifty calculators
and other tricks, and you can customize
its interface with search shortcuts and
an Instant Answers feature.
You might be surprised by the quality
of Instant Answers, which easily rivals
Google’s Knowledge Graph. You can
also make DuckDuckGo an extension of
your browser and activate more privacy
settings to keep your search history as
protected as possible.
Ixquick calls itself the world’s most
private search site. Ixquick doesn’t record your IP address, browser information or search history. The real magic of
Ixquick is its “search by proxy” feature.
This means that websites have no idea
what IP address you’re using. As a customer browsing their pages, you are basically invisible.
Bonus: Keep your browsing
history private on your phone
Surfing the web on your computer
can leave a lot of breadcrumbs, but
many people are even more cavalier
about their phones. You’re collecting a
vast array of cookies and temporary
files, and these are reflected in the advertising that pops up on your phone. To
clear your browsing history:
Apple’s default browser is Safari. You
clear your browsing history through the
gadget’s settings:
❚ Open Settings
❚ Tap Safari
❚ Scroll down and select Clear History and Website Data
❚ Tap Clear History and Data to confirm
Google Chrome
Here are the steps to clearing
Chrome’s history:
❚ Open Google Chrome
❚ Open Settings
❚ Tap Privacy > History
❚ Tap Clear on-device History
❚ Tap Clear on-device History to confirm
To clear the history on Firefox:
❚ Tap the hamburger menu at the
bottom of the page
❚ Tap Settings
❚ Go to Clear Private Data
❚ Select items you want to delete
❚ Tap Clear Private Data again — this
will generate a pop-up menu warning
that this action can’t be undone
❚ Tap OK to confirm
For daily tips, free newsletters and
more, visit
Money resolutions to ponder for coming year
Russ WIles
As we end 2017, more Americans are
working, consumer confidence is climbing, people are handling their debts better and household net worth has risen.
Not everyone has their financial problems solved, but a stronger economy
provides a favorable backdrop.
It’s also a climate in which some people are easing up on their financial discipline and planning, with fewer people
making money-oriented resolutions for
the coming year.
“Financial resolutions are on the decline because many people are feeling
better about their personal financial situation and are generally optimistic
about what 2018 will bring,” said Ken
Hevert, a retirement senior vice president at Fidelity Investments, which surveys Americans each year on their financial resolutions.
Only 27% of more than 2,000 respondents polled by Fidelity this fall said
they plan to make a resolution for the
year ahead, down from a recent high of
43% in 2014.
Here are some suggested financial
resolutions for 2018:
❚ Save more — and better: Saving
additional money in the coming year
was the top resolution in the latest Fidelity survey, cited by 55% of respondents, up from 50% in 2016. Paying
down debt was next, though that resolution slipped to 25% from 28%.
Among long-term savers, particularly those with goals more than a year out,
putting aside more cash in Individual
Retirement Accounts or workplace
401(k)-style plans was the top choice,
while contributing more to an emergency fund was the main resolution cited by
those with short-term saving goals.
One of the best ways to save is to set
up some type of automated plan so that
you don’t think about each decision.
❚ Prepare for volatility:Not only
have stocks risen pretty much throughout the year, they haven’t even bounced
around much. Barring a late-year collapse, 2017 will go down as a rare year
when average stock prices, as represented by companies in the Standard &
Poor’s 500 index, traded throughout the
year at higher prices than they ended
❚ Will the positive tailwind continue? Hard to say. Wider price fluctuations aren’t necessarily bad but can be
hazardous for those investors who respond with knee-jerk reactions. Before
engaging in spur-of-the-moment selling, consider how such a response could
affect your portfolio, your tax situation
and more.
❚ Consider rebalancing: One way to
take some emotion out of investing is to
rebalance your investment mix from
time to time. Rebalancing rests on the
assumption you want to maintain a relatively stable investment mix, such as
60% in stocks/stock funds and 40% in
bonds/bond funds, broken further into
various subcategories. In a year like
2017, when stocks have been hot, you
would sell some stocks and channel the
proceeds into bonds, to cite a simple example.
❚ Keep an eye on fees: There are
many types of charges, from annual account fees to various expenses on mutual funds, which are the core holdings in
most 401(k)-style accounts. All funds
charge an annual management fee and
other expenses for accounting, administration, legal, record-keeping and so
on. More-costly portfolios also levy
12b-1 marketing fees and, possibly,
“loads” or commissions. These outlays
are best avoided.
In 401(k)-style plans, investors on
average paid 0.48% in total annual expenses on stock funds in 2016, equivalent to $4.80 for every $1,000 invested,
the Investment Company Institute reported. Bond funds were less costly,
with a typical expense of 0.35%, or
$3.50, for every $1,000 invested. But
those are averages, meaning you can
find individual funds charging less.
❚ Build your foundation first: When
the economy improves and markets are
rising, investors often get reckless.
That’s something to consider now that
bitcoin and other speculative assets are
making headlines with rapid price appreciation. Time will tell if cryptocurrencies develop into financial mainstays or flame out, but most people
would be prudent not to load up on
things they don’t understand.
It’s often wise to structure your investment portfolio as a pyramid, with
ample amounts of bank deposits, bonds
and other price-stable investments at
the bottom and smaller quantities of
stocks and riskier assets the further up
you go.
The point is that speculative assets
such as cryptocurrencies should represent a small slice.
Jay Cutler, chairman of the Securities
and Exchange Commission, recently
warned of the potential for scams and
market manipulation with virtual currencies, which come with minimal protections.
Resolve to pay down
debt in the new year
Start by taking a smart approach and building good habits
Sean Pyles
Paying off debt in the new year is a
common resolution. But resolving to
do something and actually doing it are
two different things.
Jon Bailey, professor emeritus in the
psychology department at Florida
State University, suggests applying
some principles of behavioral psychology to help create sustainable habits.
“Our general approach is really from
the angle of self-management,” Bailey
says. “You have to know yourself and
your environment so you can put some
things in place ... (to) make the behavior, in this case paying off debt, more
likely to occur.”
❚ Know what you owe: Create an inventory of your debts, including their
totals and interest rates. Add them up
to see exactly how much you have to
pay down.
Defining your goal can help you focus your payoff journey and see what
being debt-free would look like, says
Weslia Echols, an accredited financial
counselor in Michigan.
❚ Break it down into smaller tasks:
Focus on the day-to-day steps needed
to achieve your goal. Figure out how
much you can put toward your debt
each month, and choose how you’ll approach paying it off. Consider using the
debt snowball method — you pay off
smaller debts first to secure early victories that will keep you motivated.
Trim expenses to find more money for
debt paydown.
❚ Keep yourself accountable: Track
your progress and create a backstop to
help you stay focused, such as updating a friend about your progress each
month. Think about using an app to
help you cement your new habits. Consider imposing a penalty if you don’t
stay on track. For example, make a deal
with your accountability partner that if
you skip a payment, you’ll have to
clean their apartment.
❚ Treat yourself: Build in rewards as
you make progress. Each $100 you pay
off, for example, give yourself some
small treat to celebrate. This can keep
you encouraged and on track toward
paying off your debt in the new year.
Pyles is a personal finance writer at
NerdWallet, a USA TODAY content partner.
Justin Trudeau is 46. Annie Lennox is
63. Jimmy Buffett is 71.
best in
here to
In “The Post,” Tom Hanks is “Washington Post” editor Ben Bradlee. NIKO TAVERNISE/20TH CENTURY FOX
Andrea Mandell
Singer Meghan Trainor is engaged to Spy Kids star Daryl Sabara after he popped the question in a
tunnel of “beautiful Christmas lights,”
according to a video posted to Trainor's Instagram Friday. "For my 24th
birthday, the love of my life (Daryl
Sabara) made all of my dreams come
true," she wrote in the video's caption.
There’s a dizzying number of
movies hitting the cineplex this holiday season. What should you see?
We’re here to help!
If you’re finally ready to see the
movie of the moment now that the
crowds have died down: Star Wars:
The Last Jedi
Smart move avoiding the lines. But
we’d still recommend you buy your
tickets ahead of time if you want to see
what director Rian Johnson has
cooked up for the latest Star Wars episode. Critics loved it, audiences are
split, and now it’s time for you to decide. Our review: eeeg
If you’ve got kids in tow and want
to laugh along with them: Jumanji:
Welcome to the Jungle
The Rock checked, and there’s room
for The Last Jedi and his Jumanji reboot, which also stars Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas. “I
had this awesome Twitter exchange
where I told Mark Hamill, ‘Best of luck,
just leave our little Jumanji a little
room,’ ” Johnson told USA TODAY. “He
responded that ‘The Force is strong
with Jumanji. You’ll be fine.’ ”
Political analyst Joan Walsh announced Saturday that she would be
moving to CNN next year after
MSNBC said it had decided not to
renew her contract as a paid contributor, a decision that has caused an
uproar on social media. “I am overwhelmed by the support I’ve received
today from all of you. And I’m thrilled
to tell you I’ll be heading to CNN in
the new year,” Walsh tweeted.
“Thanks to everyone who made this
happen. A Christmas miracle.”
If you wish there was a prequel to
All the President’s Men: The Post
Steven Spielberg has expertly created a companion piece to the beloved
Nixon drama with The Post. Even better, his new film has Meryl Streep playing Washington Post publisher Kay
Graham during the fraught era when
the Pentagon Papers began to leak.
Watching Streep go head to head with
her editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks),
is worth the price of admission. Our review: eeeg
If you’re not ready to let go of the
Barden Bellas: Pitch Perfect 3
The Bellas are saying goodbye to
their franchise in Pitch Perfect 3,
which sends Beca (Anna Kendrick),
Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Aubrey (Anna
Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow)
overseas to perform with the USO. It
makes no sense when these Millennials start competing for DJ Khaled’s at-
Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer star as workers in a secret 1960s government
facility in “The Shape of Water.” 20TH CENTURY FOX
tention, but who needs a believable
plot? Our review: egEE
If Hugh Jackman is your go-to
song-and-dance man: The Greatest
The songwriting team behind La La
Land created the music for this P.T. Barnum biopic starring Jackman. That
might be the best thing going for it, but
sometimes audiences just need a spectacle. Plus, Zendaya and Zac Efron star!
What could go wrong? Well, maybe read
our review: egEE
If you want to see what a cool
$10 million buys in Hollywood: All the
Money in the World
You probably read that director Ridley Scott replaced Kevin Spacey with
Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in
his new kidnapping drama just a few
weeks ago. But you’ll be amazed seeing
that Scott actually redid half the movie.
Now that’s a Hollywood hat trick. Our
review: eeeE
If you love a rapid-fire drama about
the Hollywood elite: Molly’s Game
Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial
debut with this (true life!) story about
how a former competitive skier (Jessica
will be his
last film.
Dogs are
featured on
o! H
Ho! H
of personalized holiday cards
vs. 4% for cats in the USA.
SOURCE Minted Labs analysis of 10,801
Minted holiday cards
Chastain) set up Hollywood’s hottest
underground poker game a decade ago.
It’s a glamorous fall-from-grace tale
that pairs Chastain with Idris Elba, who
plays her high-powered lawyer. Our review: eee
If you’re curious what Matt Damon
looks like bald and tiny: Downsizing
The movie star gets hilariously miniaturized in Alexander Payne’s latest
comedy. Though the film has divided
critics, you won’t get over the sequence
where Damon goes from Jason Bourne
to a dollhouse figure (or Christoph Waltz
as a shrunken black market purveyor).
See the social satire and get to know
Hong Chau, who will be an awards season fixture thanks to her breakout role.
If you wondered what Guillermo
del Toro would do to Beauty and the
Beast: The Shape of Water
This is an adult fairy tale if ever there
was one. Del Toro turns the concept on
its head, setting the scene for a voiceless
cleaning lady (Sally Hawkins) who
works in a 1960s government laboratory
to fall for a captured sea creature (Doug
Jones). Most surprising? You’ll likely
tear up at the end. Our review: eeeg
If you aren’t prepared for Daniel
Day-Lewis to retire: Phantom Thread
The three-time Oscar winner marks
what he says will be his final role in the
dark drama. Day-Lewis plays Reynolds
Woodcock, a tortured British couturier
whose latest muse (Vicky Krieps) is determined to become a permanent fixture in his life. Our review: eeeE
If you’re in the mood for a solid
World War II drama: Darkest Hour
Gary Oldman is favored to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour focuses on the harrowing weeks when Britain was torn between fighting or surrendering to Hitler’s Nazi machine. Our review: eeeE
Pondering President Rock? He’s serious
Bryan Alexander
Dwayne Johnson, welcome to the
real jungle: politics.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle star
Dwayne Johnson insists he’s “seriously
considering” running for president of
the United States.
Speaking to USA TODAY, Johnson,
45, fleshed out some of the still-murky
details, acknowledging there’s still a lot
to be worked out.
But Johnson says he would eye the
2020 presidential election. “That would
probably be the case, yes,” he says.
But “this actually never came from
me,” the actor points out. “It started
(with) a piece in The Washington Post,
and there was this kind of groundswell.”
It didn’t hurt that the report made
clear in the headline that Johnson
“could actually win.” People got excited
about the prospect. And that has
pushed Johnson.
“So I can tell you with all honesty that
the consideration comes at the desire
from a large amount of people who
would like to see this happen,” Johnson
says. “But I mean, honestly, there are so
many different variables that have to
come into play. ... Politics is not my business. So the consideration is there. And
we’ll just have to see. I’ll continue to
watch and learn as much as I can.”
His reasoning is simple: “To serve the
people, and create a better environment
for them.”
So there’s much to be figured out after Jumanji, with major projects in motion that include another baby, Skyscraper (in theaters July 13) and the Fast
& Furious Hobbs spinoff with Jason
Statham (2019). Just to name a few
things on Johnson’s famously packed
But Johnson has already shown he
can be feisty with the media when it
comes to specifics, declining to say
whether he’d go on the Republican or
Democratic ticket.
“You’re pushing it — right now, I’m an
independent,” he says.
One thing that is sure: Tom Hanks
can have whatever role he wants in a
Rock administration. The two have already joked about this on Saturday
Dwayne Johnson has a notoriously busy schedule. Would he have time to be president? JB LACROIX/WIREIMAGE
Why would Johnson run for office?
“To serve the people, and create a
better environment for them.”
Johnson, center, stars in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” with Nick Jonas,
Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black. It’s in theaters now. NIKO TAVERNISE
Night Live.
“You name it, he can have it. He’s beloved, smart,” Johnson says. “That
would be a good ticket. Think about it,
Hanks-Johnson, Johnson-Hanks. The
only issue I have with Tom is he wants
his name first.”
So Hanks seriously has a spot? “If
he’s interested, of course.”
But Johnson can’t think of anyone
else in Hollywood he’d bring along on
this political ride. Well, except for his
Jumanji and Central Intelligence costar Kevin Hart.
“Kevin Hart is going to be my court
jester,” he says. “I’m bringing that back.”
‘Christmas’ a fascinating look at history of holiday
Jocelyn McClurg
It’s the most wonderful time of the
year, as the song goes. Christmas means
parties and eggnog and presents and
tree-trimming and, oh yes, carols on an
endless loop.
How did we get here? Judith Flanders
answers the question in her fascinating
and lively new book, Christmas: A Biography (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s, 256 pp., eeeg), a detailed history
that effortlessly whisks us from biblical
times to the present, with stops along
the way in many countries and cultures.
The book is stuffed with surprising
revelations (why there are “12 days of
Christmas,” how tipping became a holiday must, when mistletoe was first dangled overhead) and things you’ve probably never thought about as you rush
around finishing last-minute shopping
(when did Rudolph first flash his red
nose? 1939, in a pamphlet created for retailer Montgomery Ward).
Flanders relegates the so-called “War
on Christmas” to a mere footnote while
happily celebrating the holiday over the
centuries and debunking plenty of
Eating, drinking and making merry
have always been part of Christmas. In a
tug of war between the religious and
secular, the latter usually wins. Religion
“is only one element — ultimately, and
surprisingly, a small element — in
Christmas as we know it,” Flanders
And dreaming of an even whiter
Christmas, it seems, long has been a
misty-eyed tradition. We are forever remembering “that wondrous, nostalgically flawless day that is seared in our
memories, the day we can never quite
recapture, the perfect Christmas.”
More fun facts:
❚ Santa and his suit: He has been
called St. Nicholas and Father Christmas, but how did we get the jolly image
of Santa we know today?
Think Coke!
In the 1821 book The Children’s Friend
Haddon Sundblom’s iconic 1930s illustrations for Coca-Cola cemented our vision
of what Santa Claus — in a red suit with a full white beard — should look like.
he was “Old Santeclaus” and shown as a
tiny, bearded young man driving a tiny,
reindeer-drawn sleigh. Later in the 19th
century, illustrator Thomas Nast drew
Santa as a fat, bearded fellow. But it was
Coca-Cola’s ad campaign, begun in the
1930s using Haddon Sundblom’s sunny
illustrations, that cemented Santa as “a
white-bearded man wearing a red jacket
trimmed with white fur, belted across a
substantial belly, red trousers and black
boots, and, frequently, a red pointed hat
with white fur trim.” Ho ho ho.
❚ Finding that perfect gift: An early
record of friends giving each other
Christmas presents comes from the
Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805,
when Lt. Clark’s holiday haul included
“Fleeshe Hoserey (fleece hosiery, or
stockings), vest drawers (a vest and
drawers, or long underwear) & socks of
Capt. Lewis, pr. Mockerson (a pair of
moccasins).” Yep, socks, slippers and
underwear, Christmas staples to this
❚ Eat, drink and eat and drink some
more: As you’re tucking into your
Christmas turkey and stuffing and
quaffing Beaujolais Nouveau, consider
this courtly Christmas feast thrown by
England’s King John in 1213.
The king and his guests consumed 27
hogsheads of wine, 400 head of pork,
3,000 fowl, 15,000 herring, 10,000 eels,
100 pounds of almonds, 2 pounds of
spices and 66 pounds of pepper.
Pass the Pepto and have a Merry
NBA gives fans 5 Christmas games
AJ Neuharth-Keusch
The NBA on Christmas Day — a pro
hoops tradition like no other — turns 70
on Monday.
The Dec. 25 festivities will mark the
10th consecutive season that fans will
be gifted with a five-game slate, including a third consecutive Golden State
Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers showdown.
The games feature four of USA
TODAY’s top five MVP candidates, a
handful of Rookie of the Year hopefuls,
11 All-Stars from last season and the top
two teams from each conference.
Philadelphia 76ers
at New York Knicks
TV: Noon, ESPN
Rundown: This might not seem all
that appealing at first glance. The 76ers
are in a slump after starting hot, and the
Knicks have been up and down all season and will be without their secondleading scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr. But
what’s the NBA on Christmas Day without a game at Madison Square Garden?
And who doesn’t want to watch three of
the league’s brightest young stars — Ben
Simmons, Joel Embiid and Kristaps
Cleveland Cavaliers
at Golden State Warriors
TV: 3, ABC
Rundown: Unless, by some Christmas miracle, Stephen Curry is fully
healed from his ankle injury in time, the
first meeting between these teams since
Golden State’s NBA Finals rout will
come with an asterisk. But it will make
for must-see TV all the same. The Warriors have continued to roll since Curry
went down this month, while the Cavs
have been the hottest team in the Eastern Conference since starting 5-7.
Washington Wizards
at Boston Celtics
TV: 5:30, ABC
Rundown: This game might not be
reminiscent of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, when the Wizards
and Celtics stoked one of the NBA’s hottest rivalries in a hard-fought, sevengame series. Only four Celtics from that
roster remain, while the brotherly love
of the Morris twins — Markieff, of the
Wizards, and Marcus, of the Celtics —
should keep tensions from boiling over.
Fans can expect plenty of holiday good-
The 76ers and the Knicks will tip off a full slate of NBA games on Christmas Day. BILL STREICHER/USA TODAY SPORTS
ies, though, including a head-to-head
battle between the East’s top two point
guards, John Wall and Kyrie Irving.
Houston Rockets
at Oklahoma City Thunder
TV: 8, ABC
Rundown: Viewed by many as the
most enticing NBA on Christmas Day
gift to unwrap when the schedule was
released in August, this game doesn’t
have the allure we had hoped for. MVP
front-runner James Harden and the
Rockets are off to one of the best starts
in franchise history, while the Thun-
der’s Big Three of Russell Westbrook,
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have
struggled to develop an on-court rapport. The Thunder did, however, show
they have what it takes to hang with the
big dogs with November’s rout of Golden State, so a Christmas miracle could
be in store.
Minnesota Timberwolves
at Los Angeles Lakers
TV: 10:30, TNT
Rundown: Lonzo Ball and the Lakers
vs. the new-look Timberwolves? The
NBA schedule makers hit the nail on the
head when they thought this one up. Little did they know Kyle Kuzma would be
the main attraction in Laker Land, while
Jeff Teague, not Andrew Wiggins,
would be the T’wolves’ third-best player.
If nothing else, the fact that TNT’s Inside the NBA crew — Ernie Johnson,
Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal — will call the game for the
first time together will provide enough
“mayhem,” as Johnson told USA TODAY,
to make this a must-watch. “It’ll be fun,”
Johnson said.
Times p.m. Eastern
Warriors still dominant; Celtics resilient
Michael Singer
No one should be stunned by which
squads have separated themselves
among the upper echelon of NBA teams.
But the surprise is how teams such as
the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston
Rockets have vaulted up the standings.
LeBron James, in his 15th season, is still
LeBron James, and the Rockets’ Chris
Paul-James Harden pairing has been
nothing short of seamless.
After a tumultuous and chaotic offseason, the league is rife with surprises.
Here are our favorites (along with a few
The NBA is
playing games
on Christmas
Day for the
lumps of coal).
Boston’s staying power: After losing
prized free agent acquisition Gordon
Hayward to a gruesome injury on opening night, Kyrie Irving has engineered a
top-10 offense to complement one of the
best defenses in the league.
LeBron’s longevity: Whereas other
players from James’ 2003 draft class
have entered the twilight of their careers, James is averaging career highs in
field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists. The Cavs have lost
just twice since Nov. 11.
Houston’s recipe: In Harden and
Paul (both averaging nine assists per
game), the Rockets have two of the
NBA’s top four leading assist men in the
league (though Paul doesn’t qualify for
the leaderboard since he’s played only 16
games). What few could have predicted,
though, was a top-10 defense after finishing last year ranked 19th.
Toronto’s patience: Forgive us for
overlooking the Raptors. They’re the
only team outside of Golden State that’s
top six in both offense and defense.
Indiana’s resiliency: After the
forced exit of Paul George, many
thought the Pacers were destined for
several years of lottery picks. Instead,
likely playoff bound, they’ve discovered
a burgeoning All-Star in Victor Oladipo
and are the second-best three-point
shooting team in the league.
Detroit’s resurgence: The Pistons
are in playoff contention, Tobias Harris
is having a career year, Reggie Jackson
is healthy and playing well and, perhaps
most surprising, Andre Drummond is
knocking down 62% of his free throws
as opposed to 38% last year.
Los Angeles’ foundation: Lonzo Ball
might not be the franchise’s savior, but
the Lakers struck gold with their other
rookie, Kyle Kuzma, whose athleticism
and motor are a joy to watch. Brandon
Ingram’s development makes the Lakers more intriguing than any other time
in the post-Kobe Bryant era.
Minnesota’s stubbornness: Among
the worst defensive teams in the NBA,
much to the chagrin of coach Tom Thibodeau, the Timberwolves will in all
likelihood end their NBA-worst postseason drought, which dates to 2004.
Philadelphia’s future: Ben Simmons
is the heavy favorite for Rookie of the
Year, and a mostly healthy Joel Embiid
has infused the 76ers with a jolt of AllStar-caliber talent and attitude. What’s
surprising is how quickly they’ve
meshed to form one of the league’s most
devastating and intriguing tandems.
Portland’s identity: The Blazers are
in the throes of the Western Conference
playoff race, but rather than rely on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to carry
them, their defense has been top-five
for most of the season after last year’s
ranked 21st.
New Orleans’ experiment: The tantalizing combo of Anthony Davis and
DeMarcus Cousins has seen significantly improved shooting percentages following last year’s stunning trade.
Utah’s steal: Electric rookie Donovan
Mitchell, who leads the Jazz in scoring
and ranks second in minutes, has significantly eased the burden of losing
Hayward this offseason.
San Antonio’s resolve: Without
two-time Defensive Player of the Year
Kawhi Leonard, who recently returned
to the lineup, the Spurs still had the
fifth-best defense in the NBA. Death.
Taxes. Gregg Popovich.
Golden State’s dominance: Without
Kevin Durant, the Warriors are 4-1 this
year. Without Stephen Curry, they were
7-1 going into Saturday. Who needs multiple MVPs anyway?
Coal coming
Oklahoma City’s clutch gene: Despite the additions of Paul George and
Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder are one
of the least clutch teams in the NBA.
They also haven’t found a working
rhythm with Russell Westbrook; the
Thunder have the second-fewest passes
per game in the NBA.
Washington’s woes: Like the Thunder, the Wizards are among the NBA’s
bottom feeders when it comes to
crunchtime. What’s more, John Wall’s
averages are down across the board and
knee inflammation kept him out for several weeks.
Memphis’ misery: The Grizzlies
fired coach David Fizdale, have battled
an extended injury to Mike Conley,
could possibly trade Marc Gasol ahead
of the Feb. 8 deadline and will almost
definitely end their streak of seven consecutive postseason appearances.
Holidays are workdays for ski team
Bjornsen enjoys
unique traditions
Roxanna Scott
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone
on the U.S. cross country ski team who
loves Christmas more than Olympian
Sadie Bjornsen.
This year Bjornsen celebrated Christmas at home in Alaska on Oct. 26 with a
special meal, close friends and a few
presents under the tree.
“A lot of times when people ask what
is the hardest thing about your sport,
my answer is always missing family
during the holidays,” Bjornsen, 28, said
last week in a phone interview from Davos, Switzerland, where the team was
staying. “It’s a tough part of our job. I’m
somebody who loves the holidays. I live
and breathe for them.”
Bjornsen’s results of late have given
her plenty of reason to celebrate. She
has two top-three finishes on the World
Cup tour, her best start to the season
since joining the national team in 2011.
She has met one of the selection criteria
for the U.S. Olympic team, which will be
named next month.
And one of the contributing factors to
her success, she says, has been having
her younger brother Erik, 26, travel the
world with her competing. Erik Bjornsen is a member of the U.S. men’s cross
country team.
“Sometimes you have to bounce (an
idea) off a wall and have them come
back positive and turn your feelings
around,” Sadie said of the ups and down
of competing on the World Cup circuit.
“It is so nice having Erik around; he’s so
positive all of the time and he has a really good outlook on everything. For sure I
think it’s been a secret to both of our
Along with their older sister Kaley,
Sadie and Erik grew up skiing with their
parents in Winthrop, Wash., where they
had a cross country trail outside their
back door. Sadie decided to attend college in Alaska, first at the University of
Alaska-Anchorage and then Alaska Pacific University (also in Anchorage), and
Erik followed her there.
“Up until probably high school we
were training together all the time,
Team USA cross country skiing hopeful Sadie Bjornsen puts in practice time
during the holidays, but finds time to celebrate. JEFF SWINGER/USA TODAY SPORTS
pushing each other quite a bit,” Erik said
last week. “Since high school she’s just
kind of been one step ahead of me and
kind of shown me the way to make it to
the World Cup level. … It’s been fun to
watch her. She’s been kind of a role
model of mine.”
The Bjornsens are seeking their sec-
ond trip together to the Olympic Games.
In Pyeongchang, Sadie Bjornsen and her
teammates are aiming to become the
first American women to win an Olympic medal when the Games begin Feb. 9.
The U.S. men have one Olympic medal
in team history — a silver won by Bill
Koch in 1976.
In last year’s world championships in
Finland, Sadie teamed with Jessie Diggins to win the bronze medal in the classic team sprint. On the men’s side, Erik
and teammate Simi Hamilton finished
fifth, the top performance by U.S. men
in the team sprint in world championship history.
Sadie Bjornsen and Diggins are part
of the U.S. women’s team that has
shown considerable depth since the
2014 Sochi Games. Kikkan Randall is
hoping to make her fifth Olympic team
and has three overall World Cup sprint
titles. Sophie Caldwell, who in 2014 was
sixth in the Olympic freestyle sprint to
lead the Americans in Sochi, earned her
first World Cup win in 2016.
Both Bjornsen siblings say the U.S.
cross country team is its own tight-knit
family. The World Cup men and women’s races are held at the same venues
week to week during the season.
It’s the team’s closeness that produces another one of Sadie Bjornsen’s favorite Christmas traditions. They hold a
Secret Santa every year that has teammates, coaches and technicians drawing names. This year they could choose
to draw a portrait of the person whose
name they select or write a poem. They
also donate $15 to a charity that best
represents the recipient’s values, Sadie
says, and the night of the big reveal is
Around Christmastime, the team always stays at the same hotel in Davos,
called The Kulm, because there’s a
World Cup race in the area.
“There’s such a history here, picture
of the old teams on the wall. It feels like
home away from home,” Sadie said.
After racing in Italy last weekend, Sadie will spend Christmas Eve with her
French family near Meribel — her fiancé
is French. There’s a little break in the
competition schedule before the Tour
de Ski begins in Switzerland on Dec. 30
with only five weeks before the Olympics begin.
“The last Olympics it was big stress
to make the team; that was everything I
was focused on,” Sadie said. “It’s really
exciting this year because I feel like now
my focus is to win a medal at the Olympics. Certainly making the team is a step
in that process and then having some
good races in the Olympic events are
something that are really exciting and
encouraging for me.”
Sierra Canyon features sons of NBA elite
Jason Jordan
CHATSWORTH, Calif. – Sierra Canyon, an uber-swanky private school,
sits roughly 22 miles north of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but it might as well
be clear across the country. It’s posh yet
discreet, an ethereal wonderland in
stark contrast to Tinseltown glam and
glitz, presenting an ideal cover for the
children of A-list celebs.
Kevin Hart, Anthony Anderson, Will
Smith, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kris Jenner, Jamie Foxx and Berry Gordy, among
many other athletes and entertainers,
enrolled their kids in the kindergarten
through 12th-grade school, yet this year
it’s the Trailblazers’ basketball team
producing star power.
The roster reads like a page in the
NBA record book. Scotty Pippen Jr., son
of Hall of Famer Scottie Sr.; Duane
Washington Jr., son of former NBA player Duane Sr. and nephew of 18-year retired Lakers star Derek Fisher; Kenyon
Martin Jr., son of 15-year retired NBA
veteran Kenyon Martin Sr.; and Terren
Frank, son of former NBA player Tellis
Frank, all transferred in this season to
lace ’em up for the Trailblazers.
In all, six players joined, including
Cassius Stanley, a five-star junior guard
ranked No. 11 overall in the ESPN 60 and
the son of longtime NBA and NFL sports
agent Jerome Stanley.
That gives new meaning to championship pedigree, with 11 NBA titles between the group’s fathers and uncles,
the most of any roster in the country.
“Eleven is a lot for one team,” said
Terren Frank, a sophomore forward.
“That’s a lot for two teams!”
Now the challenge for Sierra Canyon’s first-year coach Andre Chevalier is
to mold the elite group into a championship team while balancing the rigors of
an elite academic school.
Kenyon Martin Jr. (4) and Scotty
Pippen Jr. are among the high-profile
players at Sierra Canyon.
“Clearly, they’re from families that
have had great success in their pro careers,” Chevalier said. “Here, our guys
are pushed on the court, but they’re
competing in the classroom too. That’s
one of the things that was attractive to
the guys and their parents.”
Especially Kenyon Sr., who famously
yanked Kenyon Jr. out of another school
during his freshman year because he
was falling short academically.
“That taught me a valuable lesson,
that books come before everything,”
said Kenyon, a junior forward. “I appreciate a school like Sierra Canyon a lot
more now.”
Plus, what other school can say Stevie Wonder performed a three-hour
benefit concert with Jamie Foxx and Howie Mandel serving as emcees under a
tent for 500 people on the then-undeveloped land to raise money to start the
Sierra Canyon has become a national
sports power almost overnight. Since
the high school opened in 2005, the
Trailblazers have won nine state titles in
five sports, including a basketball title
in 2015. Duke freshman phenom Marvin
Bagley III led Sierra Canyon to a 27-3
record last season and would be a senior
had he not headed to college a year early.
“We want to be the Duke of high
schools,” head of school Jim Skrumbis
said. “The goal was to marry high-level
academics and high-level athletics.”
Sierra Canyon’s veteran players are
convinced the addition of the pros’ kids
make the game easier. “They just see
things that everyone else can’t see,
whether it’s a pass or anticipating a play
they just seem to know,” senior guard
William Washington said.
The team hasn’t experienced the infamous chemistry curve that most newly assembled teams struggle through.
Sierra Canyon is 5-1 with a tournament
“It’s like we’ve played together for
years,” Stanley said. “One of the best
parts is having those former legends in
the stands.”
The former pros are low-key during
games, all but Kenyon Martin Sr., who is
almost as passionate a basketball dad
as he was a player.
In the Trailblazers’ 80-78 overtime
loss to No. 22 Shadow Mountain (Phoenix) in the American Family Insurance
Hoophall West, the only former pro
more animated than Kenyon Sr. was
Shadow Mountain coach Mike Bibby,
who played 14 years in the NBA.
“My dad gets going sometimes,” Kenyon Jr. said. “That’s just who he is. He
wants us all to play at our best.”
There’s a contrast in styles during the
inevitable postgame car ride game
breakdown. Kenyon Jr. said his dad focuses on what he did well. Duane Washington Jr. said his dad and uncle offer a
balance of pros and cons, the same with
the Franks. Scotty Pippen Jr. said his
dad “is my biggest critic.”
“He nitpicks everything, but I know
he’s just trying to motivate me. I listen
because I know he knows a lot better
than me,” said Scotty Jr., a junior guard.
Safe bet for a man who can’t fit all of
his NBA title rings on one hand.
That’s why Chevalier welcomes the
occasional chime-in, although he’s
quick to point out the former pros have
been “pretty hands-off.”
The understated Chevalier has 21
years of head coaching experience and a
strong playing background, graduating
from Cal State-Northridge in 1994 while
holding records for scoring, steals, assists and free throws.
“Luckily, the four guys I’m dealing
with are good people and they get that
the high school game is a lot different
from the NBA,” Chevalier said. “It’s been
great. They offer a perspective for the
players that you can’t imagine.”
That’s rewarding for Duane Washington Jr., an Ohio State-bound senior
who transferred from Grand Rapids
(Mich.) Christian to be close to Fisher.
Merely listening to pointers after practices and games elevates his game.
“These guys know everything we
want to know,” Washington said. “We’d
be crazy not to soak up. They bring a lot
of attention at games, but we’re used to
The star power won’t be a problem for
the home crowd either. Daniel Messinger, a senior forward, has attended Sierra Canyon since kindergarten, giving
him a front-row seat for all the red-carpet clientele who have walked the halls.
A couple of former NBA legends with
rings? A mere Sierra Canyon Monday.
“When I found out Scottie Pippen
was at practice, it’s like, ‘Oh, cool,’ ”
Messinger said. “And I’m a big fan. Anywhere else in the country that would
shut the school down. Here, not so
much. We can just focus on winning.”
❚ Watch the documentary video series “Everything to Gain” on the Sierra
Canyon season at
Mpls-St. Paul
Rapid City
San Francisco
Salt Lake City
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
San Diego
Little Rock
Dallas-Fort Worth
El Paso
c Cloudy
dr Drizzle
f Fog
h Haze
i Ice
r Rain
pc Partly cloudy s Sunny
sf Snow flurries
sh Showers
Below 10
Forecasts and
graphics provided by
AccuWeather Inc.
New York
Birmingham 43/31pc
New Orleans
San Antonio
Temperatures (°F)
27/11sf Cleveland
St. Louis
Cincinnati 41/27pc
Kansas City
Snow flurries
sn Snow
w Windy
t Thunderstorms
Ice / wintry mix
Note: The forecast highs are for the 24-hour
period of that day. Low-temperature forecasts
are for the upcoming night.
Raleigh, N.C.
53/27pc 54/28pc
Albany, N.Y.
Allentown, Pa.
Atlantic City
44/27pc 36/25pc
Richmond, Va.
45/28pc 46/29pc
Augusta, Ga.
53/29pc 55/40pc
Rochester, N.Y.
San Jose, Calif.
64/42pc 65/45s
Bakersfield, Calif.
62/40pc 63/38s
Sarasota, Fla.
73/54pc 77/59pc
Baton Rouge
Savannah, Ga.
56/36pc 59/45pc
Shreveport, La.
South Bend, Ind.
Cedar Rapids
Spokane, Wash.
Colorado Springs
Springfield, Mo.
Columbia, S.C.
53/32pc 54/41pc
Syracuse, N.Y.
Columbus, Ohio
29/18pc 27/10c
Toledo, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Daytona Beach
64/50pc 74/58pc
Des Moines
Duluth, Minn.
-8/-21pc -9/-19s
Athens, Greece
Fort Myers, Fla.
77/59pc 81/63s
59/39pc 63/37s
Grand Rapids
Greensboro, N.C.
Buenos Aires
Greenville, S.C.
64/50pc 68/52s
84/74pc 84/73pc
Harrisburg, Pa.
Caracas, Ven.
Hartford, Conn.
Freeport, Bahamas
Huntsville, Ala.
42/28pc 51/30c
Hong Kong
Jackson, Miss.
61/43pc 69/52pc
Kingston, Jamaica
Knoxville, Tenn.
Lexington, Ky.
34/24pc 36/14c
50/40pc 50/42pc
36/26pc 36/16c
87/76pc 85/77pc
Lubbock, Texas
Mexico City
Madison, Wis.
McAllen, Texas
Mobile, Ala.
53/34pc 60/46c
Nassau, Bahamas
81/68pc 81/70s
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
53/33pc 51/42pc
New Delhi
Nags Head, N.C.
46/34pc 43/33pc
Norfolk, Va.
46/29pc 44/34pc
Oklahoma City
Palm Springs
72/49pc 75/56s
59/39pc 55/36pc
Pensacola, Fla.
54/39pc 61/49pc
Three virtual reality shows each week full of adrenaline-pumping
adventures you can only get from the USA TODAY NETWORK.
Immerse yourself
Журналы и газеты
Размер файла
4 780 Кб
USA Today, newspaper
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа