June 25th, 2010
08:35 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Lady Gaga

The recording artist - born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in 1986 - and President Obama are the top competitors in a popularity contest that could have one of them setting a record by this weekend. Facebook publicists told CNN on Thursday that the pop star and the president are neck and neck in the race to become the first living person with more than 10 million fans on the social- networking site.

As of early Friday, Obama was in the lead, with 9,058,881 fans. Lady Gaga trailed behind with 9,023,966. Both of them were more than 4 million fans behind the No. 1 individual, Michael Jackson, who had 13,285,811. The singer died a year ago Friday.

Obama's page, which is run by the group Organizing for America, includes photographs of his recent Gulf Coast visit and links to speeches from news conferences. Lady Gaga's page lists upcoming concerts and includes a biographical article describing how the 24-year-old pop star, who played piano by ear as a toddler, grew into a theatrical performer who wows the masses with flashy performances in international concert tours. "I'm just trying to change the world one sequin at a time," she says in the posted story.

CNN: Obama, Lady Gaga compete for Facebook fan record

Robert Gilmer

The University of Minnesota graduate student in the Department of History created the syllabus for the course “Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010.” The Minnesota Daily reports that the course, which Gilmer will begin teaching this fall on the St. Paul campus, will cover the history and ecology of the Gulf region, the landscape of the Louisiana economy and the impact of past oil disasters on people and the environment.

Gilmer told CNN on Thursday that he’s likely to adjust the course based on news events. “It’s too early from an historical perspective to understand what the impact of the spill will be. But it has the potential to shape the environment of the Gulf for years or decades to come," he said. "It also may impact everything - from the food people across the country eat to the ways we produce and use energy.”

There’s no textbook, but Gilmer said there will be lots for his students to read - news and academic articles and excerpts from books. He said that he knows Mike Tidwell’s “Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast” will definitely be on the list.

Minnesota Daily: New course offering will address current oil spill crisis

Mike Tidwell

The author of “Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast” told CNN on Thursday that he’s been to Louisiana twice since the spill, including four days touring affected coastal areas. He said, “I’ve flown over parts of the spill in a seaplane. I’ve been out in the oiled marshes in the crab boat of an out-of-work Louisiana crabber.”

 Tidwell said his book, which he said predicted in detail the Katrina hurricane disaster in 2003, will be reissued in August with a new introduction on the BP blowout tragedy. Tidwell, the founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said the BP disaster likely will have a bigger impact on coastal people than even Katrina did in terms of its economic and cultural disruptions.

“We need to make sure that impacted people are sufficiently compensated financially so that they can survive economically until normal times return,” he said. ”The shrimpers, for example, need to be able to hang on for a year or two.”

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Ron Rosenbluth

The owner of Tov Pizza - “Baltimore’s Best Kosher Pizza” - is helping disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff get a fresh start, one slice at a time.

Once a high-rolling Republican insider, Abramoff pleaded guilty to a raft of federal corruption charges in 2006. He admitted illegally showering gifts on officials who provided favors for his clients and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Among other things, the inquiry led to prison time for a former congressman, Ohio Republican Bob Ney; for Steven Griles, once the Bush administration's deputy interior secretary; and for several former congressional staffers.

The Baltimore Jewish Times reports that Abramoff himself served some 43 months in prison, now lives in a halfway house and will likely work at Tov for six months.

Rosenbluth told the newspaper that he was gratified that Tov Pizza could be the place where Abramoff begins his healing journey back. “We’re all Jews, we’re all on the same team,” Rosenbluth said. “I’m more than happy to help a fellow Jew in any way I can.”

Baltimore Jewish Times: Abramoff to work at Tov Pizza

Pete Hamill

The iconic New York journalist says that he will finally graduate from high school -  just two days after turning 75. The New York Times reports that Hamill left Regis High School in 1951 as a sophomore.

"It was one of those dumb things you do," he told the Times. "I had convinced myself, full of 16-year-old melancholy, that it was the only thing I could do. And it was dumb. But it forced me to live the kind of life I lived."

Hamill worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, later joined the Navy and studied art in Mexico. After a stint as an ad copy writer, he became a New York Post reporter in 1960. He has written countless columns and 16 novels and nonfiction books. According to the New York Daily News, Hamill also found the time to date Jackie Kennedy, Linda Ronstadt and Shirley MacLaine.

On Saturday, he will receive an honorary diploma from the Jesuit-run school. Hamill told the Times he would never encourage anyone to follow his path, but has few regrets. "I did feel I was the best Pete Hamill that ever lived."

The New York Times: Pete Hamill’s Circuitous Route to a High School Diploma

New York Daily News: Journalist Pete Hamill to graduate high school finally

soundoff (14 Responses)

    I tried caring but it didn't work. I'm surprised I mustered enough interest to even come up with this comment.

    June 25, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. stubs

    Obama in a popularity contest? Who would have imagined? .... *end sarcasm*

    June 25, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. rab

    I wouldn't walk acrosss the street to hear either one of them!!

    June 25, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    doesn't this guy have more important things to worry about that than a popularity contest with a (questionable) celebrity? is there not oil spilling into the gulf, maybe a look at foreign (domestic) policy? this guy has to get a clue if we are going to make it to mid-term elections

    June 25, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • D'Oh!

      Yah, I'm pretty sure Obama isn't updating his Facebook page himself. In the article, it says it's run by a group called Organizing for America.

      June 25, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Jesus, you are utterly brainless.

      Obama doesn't even know this is going on, and I doubt Gaga gives a crap either. It's a made-up contest promoted by Facebook's publicity people. CNN is no longer a news organization, and the low-grade morons in charge just print whatever garbage they find to fill space as if it were news.

      June 25, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Really?

    Ahh the young and naive. Also known as the only people that still support Obama.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Ahh, the old and ignorant. Also known as the only people who support the clowns in the Republican Party. I guess all that rotten tea can't wash out the bitter taste in your mouth. How sad.

      June 25, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. Big Bob


    June 25, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nate

    Just another glaring example of what a sad, pathetic world we live in. I'll refrain from stating who's perfomances I find most revolting.

    June 25, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kyle

    How can CNN call itself a News organization with stories like this????

    June 25, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. jsf

    THIS is news?

    I want those brain cells back - you hear me CNN?

    June 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Barry

    Lady gag intriguing? To whom?

    June 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. TH Smith

    You people should stop glorifying that perverted woman. She will fade away soon, as I know she will. Probably, catching some disease with her obscene lifestyle.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |