Party Primer

Week in Review: Cheat Sheet to the Week’s Big News (VIDEO)

Everything you need to know to sound like you know what you’re talking about this weekend. By Kevin Fallon.


Too busy to read the news this week? We’ve rounded up the stories from this past week that everyone’s most likely to be buzzing about. Here, everything you need to know to sound like you know what you’re talking about when you hit the party circuit this weekend.

Obama Takes Aim at Gun-Law Reform

On Wednesday, President Obama announced 23 executive orders aimed at cracking down on gun violence—and then marched six feet to his left and literally signed them. Among the reforms: no more loopholes for background checks, a return of the assault-weapons ban, and $50 million for schools to hire more resource officers. “The only way we will be able to change is if [gun lobbyists’] audience, their constituents, their membership, say this time must be different,” Obama said, “that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.” He was particularly impassioned saying that, no doubt in response to the NRA ad that took aim at his daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Manti Te’o Had a Fake Girlfriend

It was a story that seemed written explicitly for a tear-jerking Hollywood film. Decorated Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o melted hearts with his inspirational story, leading the Fighting Irish to a successful season despite suffering the loss of his grandmother and, he said, his girlfriend—within hours of each other. Wednesday, we found out that the story that seemed crafted by gifted writers, essentially was. It was uncovered that Te’o’s girlfriend was nothing more than a hoax, a fictional persona cobbled together using stolen Facebook pictures. Te’o claims he was also victim of the hoax. Was he actually fooled? Was it a publicity stunt he was compliant in? A prank gone out of control? The jury’s out.

A Hostage Crisis Riveted the World

Again, a story seemingly straight from a movie. This one, however is far more intense and tragic. At least 41 hostages were seized by militants in an Algerian gas field Wednesday, an incident described by the State Department as a terrorist attack. Algerian state news agency APS said Thursday that an operation to free the hostages was over, and that at least 30 were killed during the assault. The militants reportedly wanted an end to the French-led military invasion of Mali. Five Americans who were among the hostages escaped and are now safe.

American Idol Debuted Its Season of Catfights

Reality TV’s Old Faithful burst back to airwaves Wednesday night, this time unleashing new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban on the stadiums full of warbling hopefuls. As has become woefully clear over the show’s 12 seasons, the focus of Idol has morphed from televised singing competition to career rehab for A-list music superstars. J. Lo and Steven Tyler have already cycled through, and Idol producers are hardly being shy about exploiting the supposed feud between Carey and Minaj for ratings. Wednesday’s premiere did not disappoint, with Minaj calling Carey a “bitch” by the time the first contestant had stopped singing. Producers leaked that the judges’ feisty sparring will only intensify—so tune in, if you like a little Real Housewives with your Whitney Houston covers.

Facebook Graph Search Creeped Us Out

The launch of Facebook’s latest feature Wednesday was received in what is now typical fashion for the social-networking site: a mixture of ahs and ews. Facebook’s new Graph Search will allow users to search the site in the most specific way yet, culling results from information we’ve already put in our profiles. Want to go for a hike in California? Search “My friends in California who like hiking.” Any Facebook friend who has listed hiking as an interest will show up as a result. Convenient? Yes. Cool? Arguably. A little creepy? No doubt.

Jodie Foster Came Out … as Speech-Giving MVP

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Watching Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes acceptance speech for her lifetime achievement award Sunday night was a bit like enduring a manic episode. It began with quoting Saturday Night Live, hurried a few thank yous, morphed into a coming-out fakeout, transitioned into a manifesto on celebrity privacy, mentioned Mel Gibson, brought the audience to tears with a tribute to her ailing her mother, and ended with a powerful assertion: “Jodie Foster was here.” It was puzzling, inspiring, bizarre, and gloriously entertaining … and all anyone could talk about the next day.