National News, Monday, 6/22 – Attorney General William Barr Pushes Out U.S. Attorney Berman in Manhattan, Telling Him President Trump Says “You’re Fired”

News stories to know from across America from RogueValleyMagazine.com and Wynne Broadcasting.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The first new political fight of the week will be in New York, as over the weekend Attorney General William Barr’s removal of Geoffrey Berman from his job as Manhattan U.S. Attorney immediately rattled the leadership ranks at one of the most prestigious prosecutor’s offices in the country and could test relations between the Justice Department and Capitol Hill.

Geoffrey Berman finally leaves his post.

Mr. Barr late Friday said Mr. Berman would be stepping down—which was news to Mr. Berman, who has refused to leave many times.  He resigned on Saturday, after Mr. Barr told him President Trump had fired him.  While a legal battle may appear, the president is ultimately his boss and Berman is “fired”.

The sudden leadership shuffle is playing out as several politically sensitive investigations are under way and Democratic lawmakers say they want to look into whether those investigations played a part in Mr. Barr’s decision.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office has been investigating the business and political activities of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and some of Mr. Giuliani’s associates. Mr. Barr gave no rationale for the move.   People close to Mr. Barr said he had been growing unhappy with Mr. Berman for months and had been searching for a successor.

The move will also create uncertainty at the Securities and Exchange Commission, after Mr. Trump said he would nominate SEC Chairman Jay Clayton to succeed Mr. Berman.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee that would oversee the confirmation, said he would defer to New York’s senators about the appointment.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) this weekend called the firing a “brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere in investigations” by the Southern District of New York.

Protesters in Tulsa scare Trump rally-goers on Saturday night.

President Trump’s re-election rallies are back and while the protesters were there in droves, Trump held a huge rally in Tulsa on Saturday night.   His campaign team look ahead to hold yet another event in Arizona on Tuesday.

Tulsa police said the protests outside the arena were largely peaceful.   Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin tweeted Sunday, “Thank you Tulsans for showing the world how to let views be heard without violence.”

About 6,200 people attended the rally at the 19,000-seat BOK Center, Tulsa officials said Sunday. Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were also supposed to speak to an overflow group outside the arena, but that was canceled as the crowd dwindled perhaps because of the loud protesters hoping to disrupt the rally.

President Trump is scheduled to attend a “Students for Trump” gathering in Phoenix on Tuesday in addition to a border security event in Yuma, also in Arizona.  On Thursday, he plans to travel to Wisconsin, another key battleground state, for a speech at a shipyard.

The campaign also denied it had gotten pranked by people, including users of the social-media platform TikTok, who said they signed up for the rally with no intention of going. “You just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) tweeted Saturday night.

The statue of Theodore Roosevelt that has stood at the Central Park West entrance of the American Museum of Natural History for decades is to be removed amid renewed criticism that it is racist and glorifies colonialism.

Officials said Sunday on the museum’s website that they have asked New York City, which owns the statue, to move it.   The statue depicts the former president and New York governor on horseback flanked by a Native American and African man.

“Many of us find its depictions of the Native American and African figures and their placement in the monument racist,” the museum said in its statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that the city supports the museum’s request.

“It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue,” he said.   The news comes at a time of heightened racial sensitivity in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Cities and institutions across the U.S. are considering removing statues of individuals considered problematic, from former presidents who owned slaves to Confederate leaders. In some cases, protesters are physically knocking down the works.

The Roosevelt statue was unveiled in 1940 to recognize Roosevelt’s history as a naturalist and his father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., as a founder of the American Museum of Natural History.   The statue has been a source of concern for the museum in more recent times. In 2019, the museum even featured an exhibition, “Addressing the Statue,” that explored the controversy over it.

Nascar said late Sunday it is investigating the discovery of a noose in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the only full-time black driver at Nascar’s highest level whose calls for change in the sport led to a ban of Confederate flags at races.

The incident—and the use of such a stark symbol of racism aimed at Wallace—comes as the sport reckons with its own racial tensions and identity in the aftermath of a national uproar over systemic racism since George Floyd’s killing.

The noose was found in Wallace’s stall at the Nascar race at Talladega Motor Speedway in Lincoln, Ala., which was postponed until Monday due to inclement weather.  The delay came as people outside the track paraded Confederate flags in defiance of the sport’s rule change.

“Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism,” Wallace said in a statement posted to Twitter.

“I’m shocked and saddened by the report,” said Andrew Murstein, principal owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, Wallace’s team. “My first thought was actually about Henry Aaron. Henry is a good friend, and I just told Bubba a few days ago how Henry was so proud of everything he was doing.”   He added: “Henry went through something very similar when he was breaking Babe Ruth’s record. You would like to think that the country has changed for the better in the last 40 plus years. Unfortunately in many ways, it hasn’t.”

Wallace’s powerful message in this sport, which is popular in the South, had led the racing circuit to act just two weeks ago. As protests rocked the country following the killing of George Floyd, he spoke out against Confederate flags, a regular sight at Nascar races, saying their presence was contrary to an inclusive environment. Nascar reacted by banning Confederate flags and Wallace later rode in a car with the words “Black Lives Matter.”

While the decision was praised as a long overdue measure, it also drew criticism from the fans who wanted to bring Confederate flags to races in the first place. And the race at Talladega, where 5,000 fans were set to be allowed in, shaped up as the first major test of how the new paradigm would go.

Over the weekend, it became clear that there would be serious resistance.

Nascar, in its statement on the noose found in Wallace’s locker, said it is “angry and outraged” and that it launched an immediate investigation to find who perpetrated the act. “This act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all,” Nascar said.

Here’s a new crisis the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for: a nationwide shortage of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.

The economic shutdowns to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus have had the unintended consequence of halting the flow of coins through households, businesses and banks. The government says it has been working with the U.S. Mint and reserve banks to fix the temporary issue.

… Basically the places where we go to unload our coins and get cash — folding money — those have been closed. The whole system had come to a stop, though as the economy reopens coins and cash are moving around again.

WHAT DAD DIDN’T WANT FOR FATHER’S DAY 

Did dad get clothes for Father’s Day? If so, you owe him another gift. A survey found clothing topped the list of least favorable Father’s Day presents, followed by books/CDs, and then greeting cards.

McDonald’s is planning to keep salads, bagels and yogurt parfaits off its menus for the foreseeable future after the coronavirus pandemic led the company to shrink its item choices.

The fast-food chain told U.S. franchisees that it plans to add back seven items throughout July, but dozens more will remain off of the menu. Returning items include vanilla cones, chocolate chip cookies, two variations of the Quarter Pounder and the Bacon McDouble. Some of the removed items, like salads, could return down the road.

… McDonald’s transitioned to a slimmed-down menu in April to fill drive-thru orders quickly and provide better service.

Will there be a partial MLB baseball season or not?
The Major League Baseball Players Association has finalized a proposal to the league for a 70-game season. The regular season would run July 19 to September 30. It’s not a done deal, however, as MLB owners have to approve the full deal. The two sides have been locked in a battle as they try to start the 2020 season that was initially delayed in March because of the coronavirus.

… MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week there was “unequivocally” going to be a season, saying it was “100 percent” likely to happen. Then on Monday he told ESPN he was “not confident.”

America is baking and baking…in the kitchen.

The United States grows 120 billion pounds of wheat per year, though less than 2 percent of that becomes flour sold at retail. So why, precisely, did the nation nearly run out of the stuff in March? Demand exploded: the four weeks ending April 11, 2019 saw about $55 million worth of flour sold in stores in the U.S., but the comparable period of time in 2020 saw $143.9 million worth of flour sold.

The bottleneck wasn’t in wheat, but rather in the manufacturing lines that packaged flour into 2-, 5-, and 10-pound bags for grocery stores. Of the 45 millers who supply King Arthur — the second highest brand in terms of sales in the U.S. — only seven were equipped to produce supermarket-size packaging, while the other 38 could only shop by the truckload or in the industrial-sized bags intended for manufacturers, bakeries and restaurants.

With hot dogs, cold beer and an emerald green field sparkling under the June sunshine, the only thing missing at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the team.

Due to COVID-19 baseball has been put on hold. And while the St. Paul Saints (of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball) plan to start their 2020 season soon, their baseball stadium has been left vacant. But the gates aren’t staying locked. The stadium is now open for lunch. The Pop-Up Cafe at CHS Field launched last week, serving stadium staples such as burgers and cheese curds, daily from 11 to 2. Tables are set six feet apart and overlook the field.

Burger King invites you to dance in a partnership with TikTok that will have you dancing for a $1 Whopper.

TikTok stars Loren Gray, Avani and Nathan Davis Jr. have posted tutorial videos showing you how to order different kinds of Whopper sandwich combinations using dance moves. You’re then encouraged to post a video of yourself doing those dance moves, adding a special BK soundtrack and the hashtag #WhopperDance. You’ll also need to follow the BK brand on TikTok. You’ll then get a DM on TikTok from Burger King with a unique code to be used in the BK App for a $1 Whopper.    You have until this Sunday to try the #WhopperDance.

Car maker Hyundai  has created a show for YouTube called The Un-Adventurers.

According to the automaker, around 35 million Americans have never left the state where they were born, and a fair percentage of those never even venture outside their hometowns. The Un-Adventurers treats some individuals to journeys of discovery in Hyundai SUVs.

… In one episode Porsha, a single mom who’s never left Georgia, goes on a road trip to Florida, courtesy of Hyundai, where she dips her feet in the ocean for the very first time. • VIDEO


Space scientists are working overtime on asteroid wrangling.
Many have proposed anti-asteroid solutions involving knocking them off-course, which carries its own problems, such as: what if you create a fragment that hits Earth regardless? Researchers might have a safer solution. They’ve proposed a system that would tether a threatening asteroid to a smaller rock, throwing off the larger body’s center of mass and steering it away from our homeworld. As the method only involves a giant cable, it wouldn’t risk cracking an object into pieces. The scientists couldn’t test this in real life, of course, so they used a simulator to see how well their idea would work.

… There are catches. You need a small asteroid in the first place. Moreover, this requires considerably more time to implement than smacking an asteroid with a spacecraft or projectile. It would work well with a coordinated detection and response system, but might take too much time if observers are caught off-guard.

What was the cool thing at a friend’s house that you admired? The in-ground swimming pool? The ping-pong table in the basement? The good snacks? According to a survey of adults, the top sign of a cool house was “Good Snacks.”

  1. Good snacks – 49%
  2. Video games – 38%
  3. Cable TV – 38%
  4. Pool – 34%
  5. Different toys than I had – 33%
  6. Board games – 33%
  7. Big backyard – 31%
  8. A dog/pet to play with – 29%
  9. Siblings to play with – 27%
  10. Trampoline – 24%

The University of Florida is pulling the plug on its famous Gator Bait chant — with the school’s president saying its racist ties make it no longer acceptable for UF to use.

In a statement released Thursday, President Kent Fuchs axed the popular cheer — which has been screamed by thousands of fans weekly during Gators college football games over the years. Fuchs said, “While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase.”

… If you’re unfamiliar, according to TMZ America’s past use of “gator bait” truly is disturbing. Reportedly, white men would use African-American babies to lure gators out of swamps so they could hunt them more easily for their skin. At UF sporting events the band would play some tunes and pause so the entire crowd could chant in unison, “Gator Bait!” Fuchs said in addition to stopping all that the school will take even more steps to ensure racial justice — vowing to remove any UF-controlled “monuments or namings” that have ties to the Confederacy.

Most monkeys are no more than about two feet tall, but they’re known to be as much as four times stronger than humans.

That’s how one drunk monkey named Kalua was able to tear through 250 people — and kill one — while on a rampage in India. This week, zookeepers at Kanpur Zoological Park charged with re-assimilating the primate — for the last three years — have deemed him too dangerous to live among his kind, and have sentenced him to solitary confinement for the rest of his life. The alcoholic animal belonged to an “occultist” in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, whom local authorities believe supplied his pet with a regular diet of hard liquor and, possibly, monkey meat.

… When the owner was found dead, they believe the neglected monkey — likely in the throes of withdrawal — took his aggression to the streets and began roaming the neighborhood and attacking people. Kalua, who is now 6 years old, was ultimately brought to the Kanpur Zoo, where he remained hostile towards female zookeepers in particular, as well as monkeys.

How do humans and other animals distinguish between the smell of rotting seafood or the enticing allure of a ripe banana?

New research (New York University) uses artificially created odors to help reveal the intricate chain of events that allow one odor to be distinguished from another. The results were published Thursday.

… So here’s how the brain does it: In the deep recesses of the nose are millions of sensory neurons that, along with our eyes and ears, help conjure the world around us. When stimulated by a chemical with a smell, or an odorant, these neurons send nerve impulses to thousands of clusters of neurons in the brain’s smell center. Different patterns of clusters are known to generate the sensation of specific odors. Firing one set elicits the perception of pineapples; firing another evokes pickles.

… Unlike other sensations, such as sight and hearing, scientists do not know which qualities of a particular smell are used by the brain to perceive it. When you see a person’s face, you may remember the eyes, which helps you recognize that individual in the future. But the ears and nose might be less important in how the brain represents that person.

Billy Mitchell has been vindicated. Guinness World Records reinstated the Donkey Kong and Pac-Man records that were stripped from Mitchell in 2018.

Once again, Mitchell holds the first perfect score on Pac-Man and several records for the highest score on Donkey Kong. He has also regained recognition as the first player to reach the kill screen on Donkey Kong and the first gamer to score one million points on Donkey Kong.

… Mitchell, also known as the “King of Kong,” had his records expunged by Guinness and Twin Galaxies after an investigation alleged some of his performances on Donkey Kong were not reached on arcade hardware. In May there was word Mitchell planned to take Twin Galaxies to court. While Twin Galaxies has not changed its decision, Guinness shared a video explaining its reversal.

… Twin Galaxies is an organization and social media platform that facilitates interaction, achievement, recognition, and competition between people involved in the culture and activity of playing video games.

… According to a Guinness World Records spokesman, Guinness reviewed existing evidence, “newly sourced eyewitness testimony,” new expert gameplay analyses and hardware verification. Guinness didn’t necessarily rule out foul play but found that there “just wasn’t sufficient evidence to support the disqualification across the board.”

An Alaska father and son fishing on a river found a message in a bottle that apparently traveled about 50 miles in 13 years.

Wasilla resident Pat Brashler said he and his son, Jameson, 4, were fishing on the Little Susitna River when the boy spotted a bottle floating in the water. It was the boy who thought it might be a message in a bottle. The message inside was written by two young girls named Amy and Angela. The note detailed the girls’ current crushes and celebrated their friendship.

… Brashler said he was surprised when the note revealed the girls had put the bottle in the water while camping September 7, 2007, in Houston, Alaska — about 50 miles from where the bottle was found. He said the note included a phone number, but when he tried to call it there was a recorded message saying the line was no longer in service.

The cat that inspired the book and the movie A Street Cat Named Bob has died. James Bowen took care of the injured cat in 2007, and decided to look after him. Bowen wrote a book about his and Bob’s relationship that became a hit and was made into a movie. Bob actually played himself in the movie (along with six lookalikes).

WORST FIRST-DATE BLUNDER _ According to a survey, bad breath apparently is the most embarrassing thing that can happen on a first-date. And that’s usually the last date.

TO SEEM YOUNGER, RUB GRAPEFRUIT ON YOU _ A study of smells shows that the scent of grapefruit on women make them seem about six years younger to men. However, grapefruit fragrance on men does nothing for them. In the study (Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago) a researcher smeared several middle-aged woman with broccoli, banana, spearmint leaves, and lavender but none of those scents made a difference to the men. But the scent of grapefruit changed men’s perceptions. When male volunteers were asked to write down how old the woman with grapefruit odor was, the age was considerably less than reality.

There’s a sucker born every minutes but don’t get sucked into this one.  A social media post is spreading false info about a new phone feature that could help medical professionals track COVID-19 — if turned on by the user.

The Exposure Notification API is a collaborative effort from Apple and Google to offer alerts to users if they have recently been in the proximity of a person who has been tested and reported as COVID-19 positive. The scary-sounding message on social media makes it sound like there was a “phone disruption” across the country last week, and that this COVID-19 feature was snuck onto our phones. Both are false. There was no “phone disruption” … though one of the phone providers did have a brief outage. And the code added to the operating systems for Apple and Android devices was highly-publicized. Also, the feature is optional.

… It’s also unfair for the scary post to describe Exposure Notification system as a ‘COVID-19 Tracker’. In the Apple and Google approach, there is no tracking going on. The system works by sharing anonymous identifiers over local Bluetooth. No personal information or location information is used.

… The post also claims that the feature is currently disabled and could be turned on at any moment. This is simply not true. The Exposure Notification API system does nothing at all on its own. For anything to happen, users must first download an app made by their local government or health institution. These apps are available in a few countries already, with more countries and US states slowly coming onboard in the coming months.

A young mountain lion that had been spotted sleeping in a planter box along a normally busy street in downtown San Francisco was safely captured and released into the wild.

The disoriented cougar roamed the streets for two days until he was spotted by a police officer near Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Officers set up a perimeter and waited for animal control officials to arrive. They safely captured the 50-pound cat in an apartment building’s green area with lots of shrubbery without the use of sedatives. Officials get reports of cougars in San Francisco about once a year.

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