While we were gone

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The Daily Universe staff has compiled a list of news and events BYU students may have missed over the holidays:

On Campus

Fences around nine Heritage Halls buildings signify its continuing construction which will result in four new buildings by next year.

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Another phase of construction begins on Heritage Halls with a new fence surrounding many of the older buildings.
“Construction has already begun on the first two, which will be built north of the Morris Center,” Carri Jenkins, spokeswoman for the university, said. “Construction will begin on the other two later this semester, which will be built north of the Creamery on Ninth on the east side. One of these two will be completed for Fall Semester 2013 and the other will be ready for Winter Semester 2014.”

Windstorms hit Utah

Since Dec. 1, Utah’s windstorms could cost the state more than $16 million in estimated repairs — including over 1,000 damaged homes.

The winds over the past week reached heights of over 100 mph. Utah’s Summit County saw peak winds of 126 mph on New Year’s Eve.

The National Guard has completed cleanup in many places, but volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have continued to assist in the rebuilding of homes and property.

Andy Howell, an editor for the Standard-Examiner wrote an opinion article on his experience working with the clean-up crews:

“The effort just got bigger and bigger in a sort of domino effect of volunteerism,” he wrote. “In my case, my wife and I had allocated our whole weekend to cleaning up our yard. As it turned out, with the volunteers we were done in less than four hours. So we joined crews working at other homes. And we weren’t the only ones.”

Politics Meet Technology

Following politics can be a hassle. Names, positions, caucuses–it’s enough to give anybody a headache, especially for a full-time college student trying to balance classes, work and a social life.

Photo courtesy of Google

Fortunately, Google has come to the rescue. Launched Monday, a day ahead of the Iowa Republican presidential primary, Google Politics & Elections allows visitors to keep track of the 2012 presidential election process with ease.

Designed to simplify the 2012 presidential election by narrowing down the race by candidate or issue, the new website helps readers quickly find the information they’re most interested in. It also features additional resources, including a link to the Google+ page for the site, YouTube’s politics channel and PBS’s political calendar.

According to Google’s Politics & Elections Blog, the new site is meant to be an “election hub where citizens can study, watch, discuss, learn about, participate in and perhaps even make an impact on the digital campaign trail.”

Falling Gas Prices

Around the nation, gas prices are up. In fact, the national average for a gallon of gas is $3.26. However, there’s good news for Provo residents:  gas prices are lower in Utah than the national average. Provo prices fall around $2.90 per gallon.

While this is good news now, gas prices are expected to rise in Provo and overall in Utah. So, fill up while prices are still low.

LDS Church

The results are in for Gallup’s  “10 Most Admired Men in America” poll, and President Thomas S. Monson has made the list. The poll that was conducted by Gallup and USA Today asked Americans to name who they admired most.

Gallup’s managing editor Jeffrey Jones said in a blog post said that it was not surprising that President Monson was nominated because many prophets of the LDS church are “mentioned” in the poll. However, President Monson is the first LDS Prophet to make it to the top 10.

President Monson finds himself on the list along with political, religious and business leaders.

1. Barrack Obama

2. George W. Bush

3. Bill Clinton

4. Rev. Billy Graham

5. Warren Buffett

6. Newt Gingrich

7. Donald Trump

8. Pope Benedict XVI

9. Bill Gates

10. Thomas S. Monson

International

Kim Jong Il died from a heart attack on Dec. 17 while on a train, according to the North Korean state news agency.

The Supreme Leader, who had ruled since 1994, was 69 years old. News of his death spawned outbreaks of public mourning across the communist nation. KCNA, the state news agency, reported  that even nature mourned the leader’s passing with reports of a famous icy lake cracking “so loud, it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth” and a red glow surrounding a mountain near his birth place at the time of his death.

After over a week lying in state and an opulent funeral, Kim Jong Il was laid to rest next to his father in the capital Pyongyang. His third and youngest son Kim Jong Un is set to succeed his father as Supreme Leader.

Kim Jung Il’s reign saw the rise of North Korea as a nuclear power and the death of an estimated 2 million North Koreans because of a long-term famine.

Sports
Men and women’s basketball opened up conference play during the break. Brandon Davies won conference player of the week awards, and leading the Cougars to a 4-2 record since finals’ week. Davies scored 21 points and grabbed 22 rebounds against the University of San Diego, the first 20-20 game in 35 years for a BYU Cougar.

Women’s basketball went 3-1 over Christmas break, notching victories over Utah State, Nevada and Portland. Senior Kirsten Riley led the Cougars in scoring, averaging 15.3 points in the four games. Senior Haley Steed registered eight points, eight assists and ten boards against Utah State, nearly registering a triple-double in the 73-65 win.

The football team had highlights aside from the bowl game, making personnel changes for next year’s roster. Once hyped quarterback prospect Jake Heaps announced his transfer to the University of Kansas, joining former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist and coach Charlie Weis at the Big 12 program. BYU announced the signing of junior college recruit Marques Johnson, a 6’1″, 340 lbs defensive lineman who will help fill the void left by departing starter Hebron Fangupo. Johnson is transferring from El Camino Community College, where he attended school after graduating with a 3.8 GPA from Westchester High School.

Christmas was bountiful for NBA fans who welcomed back the first games of the season after the end of  the lockout. Reigning National Player of the Year and Sacramento Kings rookie guard Jimmer Fredette has averaged 8.8 points in 24 minutes per game, providing offense off the bench in a sixth-man role.

Music

  • R&B Singer/Songwriter John Legend ensured himself a beautiful, talented posterity with his engagement to supermodel Chrissy Teigen.
  • Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor gained major buzz for his soundtrack to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” namely it’s opening number, a dark, industrial cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” which features Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O. Paste Magazine deemed it the best cover song of 2011.
  • Producer/Rapper/Actor Sean Combs/P. Diddy/Diddy tweeted a quote from LDS apostle L. Tom Perry. Quoting Elder Perry’s 1974 BYU devotional talk “Be the Best of Whatever You Are,” Diddy tweeted ““One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves,” citing the source. Mormons’ street cred immediately escalated worldwide.
Movies
  • At high-end IMAX screenings of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” Batman fans got a taste of the next Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Six minutes of the upcoming film, to be released this summer, were shown before the Tom Cruise blockbuster.
  • Hollywood star couple Russell Brand and Katy Perry ended their marriage after only 14 months. Eat your heart out, Kim Kardashian.
  • Harrison Ford signed on to act in the film adaptation of “Ender’s Game,” the famous sci-fi novel by LDS author Orson Scott Card. Ford will be playing Colonel Hyram Graff in the long-anticipated film.
Televison
  • Oprah decided it was just too hard to stay out of the spotlight. After a hard year for her struggling TV network OWN, Oprah debuted her new OWN series “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” The debut grabbed the network’s highest Sunday premiere ever, with 1.1 million viewers.  It seems world domination might still be within her grasp.
  • Presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced that if elected, he would end government subsidization of PBS, long known for not running commercials. “Big Bird is going to have advertisements,” he said.
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