Only in America
November 9, 2011

Not even Santa is safe in these troubled economic times. In New York's Suffolk County, county administrator Steve Levy opted to trim $660 from the annual $2.7 billion budget by giving St. Nick the boot. Levy says he couldn't justify paying 83-year-old David McKell, a former homicide detective and WWII vet, to play Santa when hundreds of county employees were facing layoffs. After constituents called the Republican Levy a Grinch, a local Democrat gunning to succeed Levy stepped in to pay Santa's salary out of his own pocket. Christmas crisis averted. The Week Staff

guitar-player-in-chief?
2:23 p.m. ET

There have been rumblings that former two-term Maryland governor Martin O'Malley will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. But if you prefer guitar picking to "rumblings," let the video below help you make your decision:

O'Malley, who BuzzFeed reports is trying to position himself as a more authentic alternative to frontrunner Hillary Clinton, is set to make a special "announcement" Saturday in Baltimore, and will head to the crucial election states of Iowa and New Hampshire soon after. Samantha Rollins

For those who have everything
2:20 p.m. ET
Courtesy Quiksilver

A standard-issue wet suit might be stylish enough for many surfers, but a True Wetsuit ($2,500) "lets you go straight from the boardroom to the beach," says Diana Bruk at Esquire. Each suit is made of neoprene from the tie to the trouser cuff, so it's completely waterproof ("a useful asset at the office when you spill coffee all over yourself"). Quiksilver, a Japanese retailer of surf and snowboarding gear, makes it in three styles, including a slim-cut tuxedo. "If you love riding waves but hate the mundane, skintight look of a wet suit, the stylish solution of your dreams is here." The Week Staff

zzzzzzz
2:07 p.m. ET
iStock

Women get more sleep than men do, according to a new report on 941,329 smartphone users across 47 countries.

Despite women enjoying anywhere from four to 34 minutes of extra shut-eye, men wake up happier in all but three of those countries, according to data from Sleep Cycle, a smartphone app that tracks users' sleep cycles. Columbia, Portugal, and Ukraine were the exceptions. The study tracked voluntary participants between ages 18 and 55 over a 10-month period.

Gender aside, which country is the unhappiest rolling out of bed? That'd be Japan. Julie Kliegman

Uh oh
1:34 p.m. ET
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Who run the world? Sony.

Since and rapper Jay Z launched his premium music streaming service Tidal earlier this year, the company has been plagued by an onslaught of bad press. Now, several of Tidal's co-owners, most notably Jay's wife Beyoncé, might be forced to pull their music from the platform over a streaming rights battle with record label Sony.

According to a Bloomberg Business profile, which elaborates on Tidal's shortcomings, Sony is asking for "large advances" for the rights to stream the catalogs of its artists, which include Beyoncé and other co-owners Daft Punk, Usher, and Alicia Keys. However, the article also notes that Tidal remains well funded, so it's quite possible Jay Z can cough up the asking price.

Aside from initial knee-jerk reactions, which criticized Jay — a multi-million dollar mogul — for complaining about musicians not making enough money, the company continued to suffer the media's wrath and skepticism. Additionally, there were misstatements about a Sprint investment that didn't exist, and the rapper's own attempt to call out Tidal's haters didn't go over swimmingly.

Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj exclusively premiered their new video for song "Feelin' Myself" on Tidal just weeks ago, which surely should have given subscriber numbers a boost. But if Tidal loses the rights to Beyoncé's music and devoted fanbase, I can only imagine Jay Z won't be feeling himself. Stephanie Talmadge

FIFA
1:19 p.m. ET
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

As expected, FIFA president Sepp Blatter cruised to re-election today, despite allegations that he presided over a culture of corruption that reached the top levels of soccer's global governing organization. Thought to be buoyed by support from African, Asian, and South American countries, Blatter beat his challenger Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan 133 nations to 73 (three ballots were invalid). The vote was held only miles from the Swiss hotel where many of his lieutenants were arrested on corruption charges Wednesday.

"I will accept this responsibility and I want to fix FIFA together with you," Blatter, 79, told the voting body Friday just before he was elected to his fifth term. "I want to do it now and tomorrow and the day after and the weeks and months to come so that at the end of my term of office, I will be able to hand over a solid FIFA, a FIFA that will have emerged from the storm." Julie Kliegman

Only in America
11:53 a.m. ET
iStock

A U.S. Marine is appealing a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse from her desk. Monifa Sterling posted the Old Testament passage "No weapon formed against me shall prosper," which her supervisors deemed to be "contrary to good order and discipline" because the workplace must remain free of "divisive or contentious issues," such as politics and religion. The Week Staff

Cuba Libre
11:29 a.m. ET
iStock

The U.S. formally removed Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism Friday, according to a State Department news release.

The White House first announced this move last month. In a December 2014 step toward normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba after 50 years, President Barack Obama ordered the department to review the nation's inclusion on the list.

"While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation," department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in the release. Julie Kliegman

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