On 30 December 2022, media icon Barbara Walters passed away at her home in Manhattan; retired since 2014, her last public appearance had been in 2016. Walters’ journalistic career was studded with an array of impressive “firsts.” The doyenne of television interviewers, Walters made history as the first female co-anchor of a nightly network news broadcast, and the first woman journalist to garner a $1 million salary. She was instrumental in the success of ABC’s premiere news magazine, “20/20”, established its hit daytime current events talk show, “The View”, and in countless interviews and dozens of prime-time specials brought us up close and personal to the movers, shakers, and culture makers of our time. From presidents and potentates to pop stars and prima donnas, if they made headlines, Walters interviewed them, and often her interviews became headlines in themselves.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany, in 1927, passed away on 31 December 2022, age 95, at his monastic apartments in Vatican City where he had been living since his retirement from the papacy almost a decade before. Ratzinger was elected Pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II, whose enforcer of doctrine he was. Uncompromisingly conservative on social and theological issues, Benedict’s tenure in the Vatican was rocked by continued sexual scandals among the priesthood, by financial irregularities, and by breaches of security. Ratzinger’s health was the avowed reason for giving up the Ring of the Fisherman in 2013, and though he lingered for another ten years, he became increasingly feeble and made few public appearances. His health had taken a dramatic downturn in recent weeks, culminating in his passing on New Year’s Eve.
December 29, 2022 saw the passing of a man generally acknowledged as the greatest soccer player of all time, Pele. The mononymous sports superstar is the only player ever to compete in three winning FIFA World Cup finals, holds the Guinness World record for most lifetime goals, and was designated Player of the Century by international soccer’s governing body, FIFA. Raised in poverty in the Sao Paulo state of Brazil, too destitute to afford a real ball, Pele learned his sport by playing with a sock stuffed with newspaper and tied off, or a grapefruit. He joined his first professional team at age 15 and was picked up by the Brazil national team a year later.
One standout in the 2023 GOP Congressional Freshman class is Representative-elect George Santos (R-NY), the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican elected to the House. In November 2022 Santos managed to flip a redrawn district in metro New York from Blue to Red, adding to the slender House GOP majority. But he did so under what seem to be increasingly false pretenses, with virtually no part of his life history and resume holding up to public inspection.
Well, he’s done it again – Trump continues to break records, right and left. He’s now the first former US President to be referred for criminal charges. On Monday, 19 December 2022, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol gave Americans an early Christmas gift, when it voted unanimously to send four criminal referrals for Donald J. Trump to the Justice Department, based on his actions that day and in the preceding months since the 2020 election. The House doesn’t have the power to file charges on its own behalf, but can recommend legal action to the DOJ, known to be deep into its own investigation of the insurrection planned, prompted and encouraged by the disgraced 45th President.
Holiday Rush got your knickers in a twist? Kick back with a mug of hot cocoa or mulled cider and enjoy this collection of Yule-themed articles from the AAA archives: everything you always wanted to know about (asteroids) Santa, Rudolf, Carol and Yule, but were afraid to ask!
Explore the astrological origins of the Santa Claus myth (oops! that’ll earn me some coal!), with “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Asteroid!”
And if you thought you had the skinny on Rudolph, think again, with “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Rock Chunk”.
Can’t get that Christmas Carol out of your head? “Here We Come a-Carol-ing” may help you understand why some resonate more than others.
And don’t forget A Visit From Santy Claws: my yuletide classic for feline lovers everywhere!
AAA Wishes You All the Happiest of Holiday Seasons, and a wondrous, joyous 2023!