National News, Thursday, Sept. 26 – Trump, Ukraine & The Whistleblower Heats Things Up

National News from around the U.S. from Rogue Valley Magazine

Thursday, September 26, 2019

WASHINGTON—First of all, it’s complicated and with congressional unable to work together on anything, the new Ukraine phone call flap adds the latest fuel to President Trump’s White House style, which Democrats just can’t handle. Is this the one that brings Democrats to vote for impeachment?  

According to the story, President Trump sought to use the powers of his office to coerce Ukraine to investigate a political rival, and White House officials sought to conceal evidence of the president’s actions, a newly released whistleblower complaint alleges.

The complaint was released this morning amid widening scrutiny of a July phone call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a controversy that has become the biggest political danger to Mr. Trump’s presidency.

House Democrats are again rallying with something new to help them seek impeachment proceedings.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the complainant wrote. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday: “Nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings—all of which shows nothing improper.” The president “has nothing to hide,” she said.

The House Intelligence Committee released the complaint Thursday morning shortly before the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified before the panel. The complaint was released along with an August letter from the intelligence community’s inspector general that deemed the complaint both urgent and credible.

The whistleblower complaint focused on the July call between Mr. Trump and Ukraine’s president, details of which were revealed by the White House on Wednesday following intense focus in Washington on the matter. The complaint said it drew from testimonials of more than a half dozen unidentified U.S. officials who expressed concern about Mr. Trump’s conduct.

On the July call, Mr. Trump pressed Ukrainian Mr. Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, according to a memorandum on the call released by the White House on Wednesday. In the call, Mr. Trump mentioned the aid that the U.S. provides Ukraine, but didn’t present it as an explicit quid pro quo.

The complaint emphasized that Mr. Trump sought to cajole Mr. Zelensky into working with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani—who was described as a “central figure in this effort”—and Attorney General William Barr in such an investigation, as the rough transcript of the call also showed.

 “This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call,” the complaint said. The transcript was instead stored on a separate system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature, the complaint said.

A former White House official familiar with National Security Council computer systems said it would be “highly unusual” for material regarding Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian leader to be put on the tightly restricted computer system reserved for the most secret material, such as information about U.S. covert actions and counterintelligence issues.

“It is not the purpose for the additional security that system has,” the former official said. Material on the system is so sensitive, requiring code-word access and a “need to know,” that even the highest-ranking White House officials “don’t regularly interact with it,” he said.

In a seven-page opinion released Wednesday, the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel advised the director of national intelligence that the whistleblower’s complaint didn’t require reporting to Congress.  The complaint didn’t constitute an “urgent concern” because it didn’t come in connection to U.S. government intelligence activity, but in “a confidential diplomatic communication between the president and a foreign leader” that the whistleblower received secondhand, the opinion said.

The United Auto Workers strike at General Motors Co. is starting to take a toll on businesses throughout Michigan and nearby Midwest cities, creating a growing threat to that state’s already-slowing economy.

Michigan’s economy faces the greatest exposure from a prolonged strike, because it has about 15 GM manufacturing facilities employing tens of thousands of workers, more than any other state. Lost earnings to workers will result in lower sales-tax and income-tax revenues for the state, and some local businesses near idled GM plants are already reporting lost sales.

Michigan relies far more on the automotive industry for wage and salary income than the U.S. as a whole.

The work stoppage had cost GM hourly workers not working due to the strike a total of about $9.3 million a day in lost wages by the end of last week, according to a report out today.  

GM has approximately 49,000 salaried and hourly employees in Michigan, with more than 17,000 represented by the UAW.

 Chemicals used for carpets and anti-stain products have been found in water sources for 7.5 million people in California, detailing the extent of the problem as state regulators work to develop safety levels for the contaminants that have been linked to cancer.

A report released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group found variants of the chemicals known as PFAS in 74 community water systems between 2013 and 2019, according to data from state and federal regulators. More than 40 percent of the systems had at least one sample that exceeded the health advisory level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Communities served by systems with highest detections of PFAS include Corona, Camp Pendleton, Oroville, Rosemont and areas of Sacramento.

Cities across America are also affected by the dangerous PFAS chemicals.  These chemicals are used to make products water and stain resistant, including carpets, clothing, furniture and cookware. Two of the most well-known chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, have been phased out in the United States. But they don’t break down easily and linger in the environment, earning the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Studies have linked PFOS and PFOA to a variety of health problems, including cancer, immune system issues and liver and thyroid problems. But there are thousands of variants of PFAS chemicals.

“One of the biggest takeaways here is we’re not just detecting just PFOA and PFOS in these systems, but it’s a mixture of different PFAS chemicals,” said Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.


One of the highest concentrations of PFAS chemicals was found earlier this year in a well run by the California Water Service Company in Oroville. For every trillion parts of water, the sample contained 451 parts of six PFAS chemicals. That’s more than six times higher than the EPA guidelines.

Spokeswoman Yvonne Kingman said the company does not use the well to supply drinking water to its customers, but the company keeps the well online in case it needs the well for firefighters or as a backup should the main plant go offline. Kingman said the company tests for 14 types of PFAS chemicals.

“The protection of our customers’ health and safety is our absolute highest priority, so we’ve been monitoring this for quite a while,” Kingman said.

PFAS chemicals have been a problem near military bases because it is an ingredient in a foam the military uses to fight liquid fuel fires. A 2017 sample at a well in Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base in San Diego, contained seven PFAS chemicals for a combined 820 parts per trillion, or 11 times higher than the EPA guidelines.

Do you feel guilted into tossing change into a tip jar at the counter where you buy your coffee?

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, many have taken to calling the tip jar a “guilt jar.” Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University and an expert on tipping — he’s published many studies on the topic — worked his way through college by waiting tables. Lynn says he always tips waiters and waitresses extremely well. But when asked about tip jars, he states bluntly that he doesn’t like them. Why?

… In addition to earning at least minimum wage, cashiers and baristas — those who create coffee concoctions — are providing fairly standardized services, while waiters and waitresses provide services that are fleeting, intangible and highly customized. In other words, what a waiter must do to provide service for one diner often varies widely from what he or she must do for other diners.

A new study finds women 50 to 65 are happier with their age, relationship and confidence than women in their 20s.

… Half of women over 50 are content with their current relationship status while a quarter are ‘happy’ with their age. And one sixth feel more confident in how they look now than ever before.

… In comparison, just 44 percent of younger women are comfortable with their love life while only one in 10 are satisfied with their age and self-confidence.

A third of adults have ended a relationship over cleaning and chore responsibilities.

And, according to the same study, seven in 10 would refuse to date or marry someone who was messy.

… Our biggest cleaning/chore pet peeve with our significant is leaving dishes in the sink.

Soon, it’ll be impossible to avoid Alexa. Amazon unveiled a slew of new Echo and Alexa-enabled devices Wednesday, like a new microwave and earbuds. Most surprising are the Echo Frames and Echo Loop — glasses and a ring.

… The Echo Frames are Alexa-enabled glasses that look like typical black-framed spectacles. Amazon says they are prescription-ready and weigh just over an ounce, so they’re lightweight and feel comfortable despite being technology-laden. The frames have built-in directional microphones for you to summon Alexa, and you can turn these off when you want privacy. The assistant’s responses will be transmitted to your ears.

… The Echo Loop is a titanium ring that activates when you hit a discreet button on the inside. It offers haptic vibrations to let you know when to talk into it and when to hold it up to your ear for Alexa’s response.

… The Frames will cost $180, while the Loop goes for $130.

Spaceships heading to Mars could serve its crew three-year-old macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Scientists have developed a new technique that triples its lifespan — keeping food fresh for the brave individuals making the eight month journey to the red planet. Using microwave assisted thermal sterilization and adding a metal oxide coating to a plastic packaging, the team was able to increase the amount of time it takes for oxygen and other gases to break through.

The college football fan who has helped raise more than $1 million for the University of Iowa’s children’s hospital after holding up a sign on ESPN’s College GameDay has apologized for racist tweets sent as a teenager.

Carson King, now 24, released a statement Tuesday night to address two racist tweets after being asked about them earlier in the day by the Des Moines Register.

… King said: “I had no recollection of it. In re-reading it today — eight years later — I see it was an attempt at humor that was offensive and hurtful. I am embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16 years old. I want to sincerely apologize.” The tweets have since been deleted, but King said in his statement that he was quoting the Comedy Central show Tosh.0.

… Anheuser-Busch said that it will cut ties with King but will still make its donation to the children’s hospital. The brewery was planning to give King a free year of Busch Light that included special cans with the man’s face on them.

… Aaron P. Calvin is a writer for the Des Moines Register who wrote the article profiling Carson King and the tweets. Many Iowans are upset that Calvin went looking for tweets written by the then 16-year-old King. In a bit of irony, the Des Moines Register is now looking into Calvin’s old tweets, some of which were racist, sexist, and homophobic. His account has been switched to private.

When you were a kid it’s likely one of the first things you learned to ‘cook’ was a slice of bologna in a pan. But did your mom, dad or older sibling teach you to X that baloney first?

… Apparently there were people raised in a home where Xing bologna before cooking wasn’t taught. SAD. As you cook the bologna, moisture gets released. This moisture turns to steam when it hits the hot pan, then gets trapped in its meat prison. As it tries to escape, it lifts the meat away from the pan, which is not optimal, because contact is what gives the bologna its nice sear.

… Before cooking just make an X with a paring knife — two crossing inch-long incisions will do it — in the center of your lunch meat, then fry as usual.

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