Lunchtime Links: January 12, 2010

A new season of “American Idol” debuts tonight with the big question on everyone’s mind over how Ellen DeGeneres will stack up as a new judge. Also, acerbic host Simon Cowell confirmed he will leave the show after this season to produce a similar talent show, “X Factor” for Fox Television. “X Factor” has been hit in Britain and been franchised around the world similar to “Idol.”

In the spirit of Monday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, some religious leaders will be crossing denominational and interfaith lines to speak to one another about cross-cultural understanding.

Pope Benedict XVI decried the lack of a substantive climate change deal between world leaders at the Copenhagen summit last month. Benedict has increasingly been referred to as the “green pope” for linking environmental responsibility to taking care of God’s creation.

Temperatures well below freezing in much of Florida have created serious concerns over the survival of this year’s citrus crops.

Denzel Washington has received strong praise from some Christian movie watchers for his role in “The Book of Eli,” which will be released Friday. In the film, Washington’s character is called by God to deliver the last version of the King James Version of the Bible amid the death and destruction of a post-Apocalyptic world.

Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, whose home run duel with the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa 12 years ago rejuvenated lagging interest in Major League Baseball, publicly admitted steroid use throughout the 1990s. McGwire had denied drug use for years despite strong suspicions to the contrary.


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