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Long goodbyes tug at heartstrings, but they have meaning and purpose too.

After 37 seasons and 8,310 episodes — the last 35 airing posthumously — Alex Trebek’s reign as “Jeopardy!” host finally came to an end. The show’s final slate of programming taped with Trebek as the host aired this week, having filmed the episodes in late October for an intended airing the week ending Christmas Day.

Upon his death a few days after he taped the programs, however, “Jeopardy!” producers decided to postpone their airing until after Christmas and New Year’s so all viewers could watch Trebek’s final episodes without affiliate pre-emptions for holiday programming.

In that last week of episodes, Trebek offered some heartfelt words, opening the show that aired Monday evening by asking viewers to “open up your hands and open up your hearts to those who are still suffering” from the coronavirus, particularly those suffering through no fault of their own.

It was a typical Trebek moment: Kind-hearted, warm, and generous, without becoming overtly political. Moments like these have endeared the host to millions of viewers nationwide over more than four decades as a television quizmaster.

Newfound Appreciation

For the first 35-plus years of his tenure, Trebek and “Jeopardy!” often receded into the shadows, even as they became cultural touchstones spanning multiple generations. Trebek didn’t seek the limelight and lived a low-key lifestyle away from the tabloids.

The show carved out a prominent niche in the television landscape, but — apart from a few viral episodes — largely stayed true to its format, preferring intellectual substance to celebrity flash.

Trebek’s public announcement of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2019 changed that dynamic for both “Jeopardy!” and Trebek. From contestants sharing personal tributes in appreciation of Trebek’s on-air grace, to stories showing the importance of “Jeopardy!” in people’s lives (including this author’s), countless Americans opened their hearts in a way Trebek had scarcely imagined.

In a display posted prominently at the entrance to the “Jeopardy!” soundstage, Trebek shared some of the notes, cards, letters, and other memorabilia he received following his announcement. A handwritten letter from Trebek explained that the outpouring of support “is having a most profound and emotional impact on me,” adding that he arranged for the public display “so that each and every one of us might take some inspiration from the goodness that exists in our fellow man.”

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Poignant Dignity

Trebek’s last months also proved the axiom that living is a part of dying. While he considered himself a “wuss” about pain and suffering, he handled his final illness with dignity and grace. His memoir didn’t spare details about the physical anguish he endured behind the scenes — including before and after on-camera tapings. In fact, “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards noted that Trebek’s last week of episodes taped over two days rather than one, as Trebek lacked the physical stamina needed for the typical 8- to 10-hour tape day.

Still, his on-camera appearance never betrayed Trebek’s suffering in his final days and weeks. As someone who always deflected attention from himself to contestants, Trebek likely would not have wanted it any other way. Johnny Gilbert always introduced Trebek as the “host” of “Jeopardy!” — never the “star” — for that very reason.

An Example to Follow

While the timing of Trebek’s death had little to do with the pandemic that has changed all our lives, his represents another elegant, and eloquent, voice dimmed over the past 12 months. Here’s hoping that we preserve his legacy by following the advice he gave during his final week of episodes, in his last days on earth: By remaining kind to each other.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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