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If it costs $25.3 billion to be Santa, who could afford it?

Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 1:22 PM

A History of Santa

A few weeks ago, I got an email from an English public relations strategist pointing me to the website of the United Kingdom’s “leading independent online florist” 

RELATED: 4 great sparkling wines for the holidays

The idea is that they did a “study” about how much it would cost to be Santa Claus (short answer: $25.3 billion) and I’m supposed to write something fun about that and you’re supposed to click the link to the study itself and end up on www.serenataflowers.com and decide to buy flowers for all your friends in England.

But a question came up. No, not why are they making their pitch to a guy in Texas who writes about puking snakeseating bugs and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic (though that is also a valid question).

The question is, if it DID cost $25.3 billion to be Santa Claus, who COULD be Santa Claus? It seems that kind of financial requirement would narrow the list down quite a bit.

Right down to 29 people, as it turns out.

Looking at the Forbes list of billionaires, only the top 28 in the world have more than $25.3 billion (the children of the man who created the German supermarket giant Aldi share the No. 24 spot, if you’re wondering how we came to the number 29). 

Let’s narrow down who could be Santa Claus.

RULE NO. 1: Being Santa Claus for one year can’t wipe you out. Let’s say you need to have $12.5 billion left over to get you halfway to next Christmas. So you need at least $37.8 billion to make the cut.

That eliminates: Phil Knight (seemed like a contender), John Mars, Jacqueline Mars, David Thomson, Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr., Jack Ma (Christmas is big in China), Jorge Paulo Lemann, Steve Ballmer, Sheldon Adelson (perhaps a GOP Santa Claus), Li Ka-shing, Wang Jianlin and Wal-Mart heirs Alice, Jim and S. Robson Walton.

That leaves: Liliane Bettencourt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Bernard Arnault, Michael Bloomberg, David Koch, Charles Koch, Larry Ellison, Carlos Slim Helu, Mark Zuckerberg, Amancio Ortega, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

RULE NO. 2: Santa Claus has a long history and obviously has been wealthy for a good while. You have to have made the Forbes billionaire list 25 years ago … in 1992.

That eliminates: Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Bernard Arnault, Michael Bloomberg (perhaps a Democrat Santa Claus), Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Amancio Ortega and Jeff Bezos (a natural at shipping logistics).

That leaves: Liliane Bettencourt, David Koch, Charles Koch, Carlos Slim Helu, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

RULE No. 3: You have to still be alive.

That eliminates: Liliane Bettencourt (the makeup heiress died this year after making the list)

That leaves: David Koch, Charles Koch, Carlos Slim Helu, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

RULE No. 4: Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and he is not a climate change skeptic. I mean, c’mon, he can see the effects of global warming right out of his workshop.

That eliminates: David Koch, Charles Koch

That leaves: Carlos Slim Helu, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

We’re down to our final three: Carlos Slim Helu doesn’t use a computer and keeps track of his businesses in detailed notebooks (he’s making a list, checking it twice?).  And Warren Buffett has a lengthy and impressive commitment to philanthropy.

But Bill Gates? He’s already been working at being Santa. This CNN story reveals that Gates has been participating in Reddit's Secret Santa Gift exchange for at least half a decade. Not only that, but as No. 1 on Forbes’ list, he’s got the money to keep this Santa thing going for quite a while.

I’m calling it. If being Santa Claus requires $25.3 billion, then Santa Claus has to be Bill Gates.

Dog groomer accused of abuse caught on video shaking small dog, other incidents revealed

Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 @ 10:08 AM

A dog is pictured here getting groomed.
Pixabay
A dog is pictured here getting groomed.(Pixabay)

A Florida dog groomer is in hot water after a video surfaced that appears to show the owner violently shaking a dog.

>> Read more trending news

The video was posted on Nov. 10 by Facebook user Briana Brady who says that she used to work at the Happy Puppy Pet Spa near Sarasota, Florida. According to Brady, the woman in the video owns the spa and Brady said that the behavior captured in the clip is common. The clip has been shared over 1,800 times and racked up more than 384,000 views since it was posted.

Brady identified the woman as Phyllis Lucca and writes “this is what this horrible woman does every day to every dog. She even broke a dog’s jaw two weeks ago. She picked the dog up by the neck and shook it and slammed it on the table.”

Customers have complained about Lucca’s care for their dogs — former client Cynthia Crowe told the groomer, “I gave you a dog in good health and you give me a dog that has broken bones now.” She said that when she picked her toy poodle up from the Happy Puppy Pet Spa, the animal had blood on his mouth and bruises on his stomach. Crowe rushed her pet to veterinarian Gary Berkowitz, who told WFTX “The dog was doing fine, eating and drinking fine like normal, as soon as she gets home from the groomer, the dog shows all these signs and has a fractured jaw.”

>> Related: Florida dairy farm investigating graphic animal abuse seen in new undercover footage

Warning: The videos in this story contain footage some may find disturbing.

Crowe filed a police report against Lucca for animal cruelty, and the investigating detective wrote that the groomer admitted to the dog’s injuries. But when WFTX caught up with Lucca, she blamed her former employee Briana Brady, saying that she was the only one ever in the room alone with Crowe’s pet and, added, “If you see that video, I know it looks bad, but that’s not what I’m doing.”

“What the dog did was pass out and she faints, and what I did was hold her head and shake her. That’s all,” Lucca said.

Brady said she’s witnessed a disturbing pattern of abuse from Lucca, telling WFLA, “I’ve seen her choke out and slam a dog in the bathtub.”

>> Related: Dog mauled, killed by pit bull at PetSmart during grooming appointment

 Dog mauled, killed by pit bull at PetSmart during grooming appointment

“I’ve been crying nonstop. It just breaks my heart to see someone mistreat an animal like that,” she said.

Brady has hired an attorney and plans to file a civil suit against the groomer, but that suit has not yet been filed.

Since the video came out, the Google rating for Lucca’s spa has dropped to a dismal 1.8 stars. But even before Brady’s Facebook post, customers wrote reviews indicating abuse, one woman claimed that when she picked up her dog, she “noticed at least 3 very red areas where the clippers must have gotten too close.” Six years ago, one customer wrote that she was “horrified to walk in there and see a dog sitting in a pool of blood and whimpering from having its nails cut incorrectly.”

These are the best places to see the incredibly rare Great American Eclipse coming next month

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 8:55 AM
Updated: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 8:55 AM

WATCH: Rare Total Solar Eclipse Coming in August 2017

It’s the final countdown: We are officially one month away from the first total solar eclipse to cross the country coast to coast in nearly 100 years.

» RELATED: 7 things to know about the rare total solar eclipse crossing the nation this August 

The summer eclipse will be incredibly accessible to anyone within a 200-mile drive of its path of totality, but the most important factor in getting a good view is weather.

If you’re hoping to make a trip out of the big event, Greatamericaneclipse.com has a list of 10 great places to see the phenomenon based on the best weather odds for clear skies:

Madras, OregonTotality begins at 10:19 a.m. PDT and lasts 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Snake River Valley, IdahoTotality begins at 11:33 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes and 18 seconds.

Casper, WyomingTotality begins at 11:42 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Sandhills of western NebraskaTotality begins at 11:49 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

St. Joseph, MissouriTotality begins at 1:06 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes and 39 seconds.

Carbondale, IllinoisTotality begins at 1:20 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds.

Hopkinsville, KentuckyTotality begins at 1:24 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes and 41.2 seconds.

Nashville, TennesseeTotality begins at 1:27 p.m. CDT and lasts 1 minute and 57 seconds.

Great Smoky Mountains National ParkTotality begins at 2:35 p.m. EST and lasts 1 minute and 17 seconds.

Columbia, South CarolinaTotality begins at 2:43 p.m. EST and lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Plan on traveling within or from Georgia? Head to Rabun County, about two hours north of metro Atlanta, where the eclipse will begin at 2:35 p.m. and last 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

» RELATED: This is the most accurate map of the Great American Eclipse’s path of totality to date 

The area is also holding an array of events to commemorate the phenomenon.

Other accessible road trips from Georgia include the Great Smoky Mountains; Columbia, South Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.

For more about travel time, visit our Georgia guide to eclipse road trips for the August event.

If you want to know how far you’ll have to travel from wherever you are to catch the total solar eclipse, this Google simulator will show you.

Just type in your zip code or city and the simulator will tell you how much of the sun will be blocked by the moon, how the sun will travel across the sky over a 3-hour period on Aug. 21 and what time to watch.

» RELATED: Eclipse will cross U.S. for first time since 1918 

If you do plan on seeing the spectacle in person, Space.com has some helpful safety tips:

(Space.com)

Related

Third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 9:04 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 8:34 PM

5 Things to Know About Mar-a-Lago

Three major philanthropic organizations said Thursday they are pulling their events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, with one already in discussions to move its 2018 fundraiser to another A-list oceanfront setting.

>> Read more trending news 

Thursday afternoon, the Cleveland Clinic and American Cancer Society announced they were leaving the president’s Palm Beach estate.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Latest news, photos, videos on President Donald Trump

Late Thursday, the American Friends of Magen David Adom, an organization supporting Israel disaster relief programs, told The Palm Beach Post it is canceling a planned fund-raising gala at Mar-a-Lago, set for Sunday, Feb. 25.

“After considerable deliberation, AFMDA — an apolitical and humanitarian aid organization — will not hold its 2018 Palm Beach Celebration of Life Gala at Mar-a-Lago,” the brief statement said. Magen David Adom is Israel’s ambulance, blood services and disaster-relief organization.

Last season’s gala, held Feb. 26, featured more than 600 attendees who paid $650 per ticket.

Also Thursday, a prominent business leader in Palm Beach urged other charitable organizations sticking with Mar-a-Lago to reconsider their commitment to the president’s club. Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, told those groups and their deep-pocket donors to “have a conscience” and seek another venue for their events.

The decisions by the American Cancer Society, Cleveland Clinic and the AFMDA were three of the latest examples of pushback to Trump in the days since the president’s off-the-cuff, combative and controversial news conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he renewed his statements that “both sides” were at fault in the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked by marches by neo-Nazis and white supremacists last weekend.

“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the American Cancer Society said in announcing it would move two 2018 events, a dinner for sponsors and its 60th anniversary gala, from the president’s Palm Beach estate. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”

That announcement followed a decision by Cleveland Clinic, a leading research hospital in the United States with a location in West Palm Beach, to move its eventpossibly to the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa.

» Palm Beach chamber head tells charities ‘have a conscience’ about Mar-a-Lago events

Nick Gold, the public relations director of the oceanfront Eau Palm Beach , said it is working with the hospital in hopes of hosting next year’s event.

“Their first call was to us,” Gold said. “We are talking to them. … We certainly want to work with The Cleveland Clinic.”

The American Cancer Society said it has not settled on a new location and is evaluating venue options. No further information was available about whether AFMDA would try to hold an event elsewhere in Palm Beach County during the season.

The Cleveland Clinic’s move follows previous assertions its event would go on at Trump’s Palm Beach estate as planned, despite protests and letters of concern from some who demanded the venue be changed.

The hospital has hosted the fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for the past eight years, according to The Associated Press, raising anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million a year.

» RELATED: Complaints aside, charities plan to stick with Mar-a-Lago

A representative for the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach said the nonprofit has no plans to move its fundraising event — The Palm Beach Wine Auction — which is scheduled to be held at Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 1. Tickets to the auction are $1,000 a person.

The Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves also still plans to have one of its major fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. The “Wine, Women and Shoes” event is scheduled for March 10, said Robin Friedman, Big Dog Ranch’s director of development.

» RELATED: Dana Farber, three other charities won’t return to Mar-a-Lago in 2018

“Most of our supporters know that we do what we do for our dogs, and that just happens to be the best venue,” Friedman said of Mar-a-Lago. “In fact, it’s one of the only venues where we can do an event of our size in the daytime.”

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is co-chairing the Big Dog Ranch Mar-a-Lago event with Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The animal-rescue group is expecting 600 attendees — up from 450 last year. The group raised $1.1 million at its Mar-a-Lago event last year, and Friedman said “we are definitely expecting more” for 2018.

» RELATED: Why the American Humane Association won’t return to Mar-a-Lago

Nonetheless, Palm Beach County event venues have made clear they would be receptive to discussing opportunities with charities considering a move.

The Eau, located on a 7-acre site with ocean views and lush tropical gardens in Manalapan, underwent a major transformation in 2013 — dropping the Ritz-Carlton name and rebranding itself as a beachfront getaway for out-of-town guests and locals looking for a beachfront retreat. The property consistently ranks among the best resorts in the state. This spring, Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed at the resort during his two-day summit with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Gold said the resort can accommodate as many as 500 guests for a seated dinner. In addition to the Cleveland Clinic, the Eau has received inquiries from other charities looking to move events away from Mar-a-Lago, Gold said.

“We do see a lot of charities that are checking spaces to see what can be done,” Gold said.

» RELATED: U.S.-China summit a boon for Palm Beach hotels

Dave Anderson, the general manager of the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, said the venue is also hearing from groups who may be interested in moving events previously held at Mar-a-Lago. The convention center can host groups of roughly 1,000 people.

“We have a beautiful ballroom,” Anderson said. “We have a fantastic chef. … It is a great venue for social events. The only thing I can’t provide is an ocean at my doorstep.”

One leader in Palm Beach’s business community urged the charitable groups to consider a change of venue.

The Palm Beach Chamber’s Baker minced no words Thursday about whether charities should abandon Mar-a-Lago this season.

“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Baker said. “Many say it’s the dollars (raised at the events) that count. Yes. But the integrity of any or organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.”

She added: “Personally, I do not feel that supporting him, directly or indirectly, speaks well of any organization.”

Baker’s comments are the strongest yet from Palm Beach County’s business community in the wake of Trump’s conflicting and, to many, polarizing statements made in the aftermath of the weekend violence.

Last Friday night, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through the northwestern Virginia town that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. On Saturday, a suspected white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

In response, Trump first blamed Saturday’s violence “on many sides,” but zeroed in on specific criticism of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis two days later after a backlash to his initial statement.

However, Trump doubled down on his first set of comments during Tuesday’s volatile news conference — and then tweeted support for Confederate monuments on Thursday.

No one from the Palm Beach County business community had spoken out publicly — until Baker.

» RELATED: Inside Mar-a-Lago for a charity ball with Trump and Jeff Sessions

Baker also expressed no patience for charities that will try to keep a low profile during this turbulent period.

“I hope that people will not maintain their neutrality,” she said. “This is the best time ever for people to show their backbone.”

Baker encouraged all charities to re-examine their core purpose for guidance about how to react to Trump’s comments.

In particular, she called out charities that advocate for social justice, the disabled, the poor and the sick.

“Look at your mission statement,” Baker said. “Are you living up to it?”

The Cleveland Clinic’s departure from Mar-a-Lago was no surprise after CEO Toby Cosgrove distanced himself from Trump following Tuesday’s comments. Cosgrove was one of a number of CEOs who stepped down from two White House business councils.

Trump later said he was disbanding that council and another after a rash of defections by other business industry leaders, including the CEOs of 3M, Campbell Soup Co. and United Technologies.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” the president tweeted. “Thank you all!”

But the pressure for the Cleveland Clinic to move its event from Mar-a-Lago started this past spring, with petitions and backlash against the Ohio-based hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as each planned lavish galas on the Palm Beach resort’s grounds during the first months of Trump’s presidency.

Actress, beauty queen found dead in Texas home

Published: Friday, June 02, 2017 @ 10:47 AM

Actress, Beauty Queen Found Dead In Texas Home

Former beauty queen and TV actress Margaret Ann Garza, 31, was found dead Tuesday at her Texas home.  

Police were called at 6:31 a.m. to a home near Austin, Texas, about a woman who was not breathing, according to Angelique Myers, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department.  

>> Read more trending news

Firefighters and medics were already at the scene when police arrived. Her death is under investigation and an autopsy is pending, Myers said.


Garza was crowned Miss Texas Belleza Latina in 2007 and Miss Belleza Latina International in 2008, according to an online obituary.  

She recently appeared in the AMC television series “The Son,” as well as in the movie “Mercury Plains” with Scott Eastwood, the obituary said. She is also in the movie “Pizza Joint,” which will premiere this month, according to her obituary.

Margaret Ann Garza, 31, was found dead at her Round Rock home. Her death is under investigation and an autopsy is pending. She recently appeared in the AMC television series “The Son."