Ringling Bros. Circus Is Shutting Down

January 15, 2017

“The Greatest Show on Earth” will be no more after 146 years.

The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press the show will close forever in May of this year, as Fox News and other outlets reported Sunday morning.

Enjoyed by kids of all ages for generations, the iconic American spectacle fell victim to declining attendance, high operating costs, and extended fights with animal rights groups, among other factors, executives said.

"There isn't any one thing," Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment told Fox News. "This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family."

The company gave circus employees the news about the closure on Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami.

Between now and May, two touring circuses will perform 30 shows in Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7, and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.

Related: The Circus Goes to Xtremes

Aside from the flashy costumes and hair-raising acrobatic acts that characterized most circus programs, the elephant in the room was, actually, the elephant in the room. Kenneth Feld and his daughter Juliette Feld, the chief operating officer, "acknowledged another reality that led to the closing, and it was the one thing that initially drew millions to the show: the animals. Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary," as Fox News noted.

In May 2016, the company took the elephants out of the shows as a result of a legal battle and sent them to live in Florida on a conservation farm.

For more news and analysis of today's pop culture, click here

Bo Jackson’s Startling Football Confession

January 13, 2017

Legendary athlete Bo Jackson — who played both professional football and baseball — confessed in an interview that if he could go back in time, he would not have played football.

“If I knew back then what I know now, I would have never played football,” Jackson told USA Today, referencing concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) .

“Never. I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn’t tell anybody.”

Related: Kids Need to Move After a Concussion

Jackson — who played for four years in the NFL and is today 54 years old — also said he would never let his kids play football.

“The game has gotten so violent, so rough. We’re so much more educated on this CTE stuff, there’s no way I would ever allow my kids to play football today,” he said. “Even though I love the sport, I’d smack them in the mouth if they said they wanted to play football. I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.'”

During his pro football years, Jackson ran for over 2,700 yards and 16 touchdowns while receiving for over 350 yards and two touchdowns. He is the only athlete to play in both an NFL Pro Bowl and an MLB All-Star Game.

Trump Portrait at Smithsonian

January 13, 2017

A 1989 portrait of President-Elect Donald J. Trump is going on display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

The image is of a young Trump wearing a suit and tossing an apple into the air with his right hand. It was the cover of his 1990 autobiography, “Trump: Surviving at the Top.”

President Obama also had his portraits displayed before his inaugurations in 2009 and 2013.

The 27-year-old photo the Trump portrait is based on was taken by Michael O'Brien, whose past employers include National Geographic and Esquire.

The portrait is one of four pieces at the Smithsonian to depict the president-elect. The portrait will remain on display through the month of January. The Smithsonian has had the picture in its possession since 2011.

In contrast, the portrait of Obama displayed in the Smithsonian before his first inauguration was designed by Shepard Fairey and used by the Obama campaign — it was a portrait of the "Hope" poster.

Armed Motorist Saves Ambushed Cop

January 13, 2017

A driver who stepped in with bold action was credited with saving the life of an Arizona state trooper on a highway before dawn on Thursday, as NBC reported. The 27-year-old cop was shot and attacked by the suspect when responding to a call about a car wreck — when a passing motorist on his way to California shot and killed the suspect.

“I would just say at this point, thank you, because I don’t know that my trooper would be alive today without his assistance,” Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said after he met with the seriously injured trooper at the hospital.

The trooper has not been identified, but was reported as being in stable condition. He suffered gunshot wounds to his chest and right shoulder. The shots were reportedly fired at around 4 a.m. (6 a.m. EST) on Interstate 10, some 40 miles west of Phoenix.

"In our worst hour, we may need your help, and this was today," Milstead said, according to NBC News. "Thank you. Thank you for the support."

(Image credit: Daily Mail)

Obama Gives Biden Medal of Freedom

January 13, 2017

As one of his final acts in office, President Obama awarded Vice President Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction — the highest civilian honor — at a ceremony in the White House.

“For your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country, and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aide to join us on stage,” Obama said Thursday afternoon in front of a packed room. He surprised the vice president with the award — who quickly became emotional.

Saint Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell previously received the award — Biden is only the fourth person to receive it.

Biden has served in public office for almost half a century.

"I get a lot of credit I don't deserve because I've had so many people to lean on," Biden said.

(Image credit: NBC News)