The Hit List: January 21, 2019

  1. President Trump is trying to find common ground to build a compromise for his border wall. On Saturday he offered a 3 year extension of DACA to keep the children of illegal immigrants safely in the country, an extension of other temporary permits, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in increased spending on immigration courts and border security staff. Democrats said it’s a non-starter.
  2. News that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about dealings with Russia has been debunked by none other than representatives of the Mueller Investigation. A spokesman for Mueller said the story that first appeared on Buzzfeed was simply untrue — but Buzzfeed still stands by the reporting.
  3. Representatives between the Los Angeles Unified School District and City of LA appear to be serious about getting a deal to end the teachers’ strike. They met for 12 hours Saturday and put hours in on Sunday too. No word yet on how close they are to a resolution.
  4. Snowstorm Harper ended up dumping 12 to 18 inches on the East Coast. In Connecticut, 29,000 were without power as of Sunday evening. Some areas of Maine got nearly 2 feet of snow.
  5. Boeing has tested its new 777X jet — with results forthcoming. The new super aircraft has the biggest engines and widest wingspan ever for a commercial jet. Major international airlines are lining up to order the new models, which could drop jet fuel prices as much as 18%, further driving down prices for international travelers.
  6. An in-air medical emergency caused a flight from Newark en route to Hong Kong to land in Newfoundland at 9:30 pm Saturday night. But after the passenger was taken off the flight for treatment, a mechanical problem with the door prohibited the airplane from taking off again, and the passengers couldn’t get off because no customs officer was available overnight at the small airport in Goose Bay. Passengers ended up spending 14 hours on the tarmac in -20 degree temperatures. Sunday morning, reps for United and the airport arrived with coffee and donuts.
  7. Ebola continues to spread in the Congo, and it’s headed toward a population center of Goma, with 1 million people. One of the heavily affected areas is in the middle of warring militias, making it difficult for aid workers to provide care. There is no direct cure for Ebola and it spreads quickly; if it hits Goma, the World Health Organization may issue a health emergency declaration.
  8. Oxfam reports that the 26 richest people in the world hold as much wealth as the poorest 50% in the world. That’s 3.8 billion people.
  9. As Netflix’s fees increase so does its subscriber base — it added 8.8 million subscribers in the last quarter of 2018. Internal estimates also say the streamer is responsible for 10% of all screen viewing in the US.
  10. Astronomers have finally figured out how long a day on Saturn is: 10 hours, 33 minutes, and 38 seconds. It’s been tough to do since the planet has a thick atmosphere and no known core — the graduate student who figured it out used complicated data correlating oscillations in Saturn’s rings with seismic data from within Saturn.

The Hit List: January 18, 2019

  1. President Trump has cancelled Nancy Pelosi’s foreign trip, likely in retaliation for her withdrawal of his invitation to give the State of the Union address. Knowing she’d be in town, Trump used the opportunity to invite her to negotiate an end to the government shutdown.
  2. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid off a hacker to influence Trump’s standing in online polls ahead of the 2016 presidential election, stuffing cash and sports memorabilia in a Wal-Mart bag. Cohen says the fee was actually paid in cash. Rigging the polls isn’t illegal, though morally questionable. The legal issue is whether this was a campaign expense, or a citizen’s lawyer protecting his client. Cohen will go to prison because it has been ruled an illegal campaign expense. He’s testified the vote-rigging was Trump’s direct order.
  3. A huge storm is heading across the United States; the East Coast can expect up to 40 inches of snowfall over the weekend, along with freezing rain and heavy showers. Also brace for delays and cancellations ant any airports on freeways.
  4. Don’t get lost: The Magnetic North Pole is on the move, and has been for some time. Nature magazine estimates it’s hustling at a rate of 55km a year. But with the government shutdown, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is pushing back an update to the World Magnetic Model — which designates the position of the magnetic North Pole to assist in navigation — to January 30, from January 15.
  5. Prince Phillip’s car flipped in an accident — he’s ok, but the Land Rover flipped on its side. The 97 year old is shaken; more in ROYALS >>
  6. Lexington, Kentucky has a crappy situation — disposable wipes are being flushed into the sewers, but they’re not disintegrating. Workers must remove them by hand. One clog recently caused an 18 inch sewer line to spring a leak and dump 80,000 gallons of crapwater into a creek.
  7. Birth rates are down in Norway, and the socialists there are worried. With a strong welfare state, a smaller tax base will make it very difficult to fund entitlements to the aging population.
  8. A study in “Science” journal says huge asteroids are hitting Earth much more frequently — but fret not. The collision rate over the last 290 million years is twice that of the 700 million preceding it. The closest space rock that could devastate the entire planet has a 99.988% chance of missing Earth … in 861 years.
  9. Leslie Moonves isn’t leaving CBS without a fight; he’s challenging the board’s decision to dismiss him without a $120 million golden parachute, since his wretched behavior was cause for dismissal.
  10. Ford Motor Company is developing an electric model of its F-Series pickup truck. Battery electric and hybrid models are in the works to “future proof” the popular line of pickups.

The Hit List: January 17, 2019

  1. A Georgia man has been busted in an FBI sting for trying to storm the White House with an anti-tank rocket. For over a year the FBI has been working the suspect, who’s a Muslim from Georgia. He was going to trade his car to agents posing as arm dealers.
  2. Nancy Pelosi has postponed her invitation to President Trump to deliver the State of the Union. She cites safety concerns from being shortstaffed during the government shutdown,  but Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says that’s just not the case. No word yet from what Trump plans to do.
  3. If you’re going to rent an AirBNB, the homeowners may be watching, but the rental platform is cool with it. When one man complained to the rental site that he found cameras in the house he rented, they shrugged it off; buyer beware.
  4. Democratic Socialists in Los Angeles are at least practicing what they preach about providing from their abilities to those in need: members of the group were spotted giving tacos to striking teachers Wednesday.
  5. British Prime Minister Theresa May isn’t going anywhere — yet. She survived a vote of no confidence Wednesday by a 325-306 vote. Meanwhile her government will keep working on a plan to leave the European Union, per the Brexit vote, that can be approved by parliament.
  6. Submarine Captain Travis Zettel has been discharged from duty after admitting to hiring 10 hookers to his hotel in the Philippines while the sub was on a farewell tour last year. Sailors who heard the captain boasting about his sexy party reported him to the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.
  7. The anti-man Gillette ad has recently caused a stir, but not all Americans want to hear it. Two-thirds of respondents in a recent poll said they don’t want social commentary from their Super Bowl ads this year.
  8. New York City restaurants and stores are cutting back employee hours in wake of a 13% minimum wage hike that started this year. Instead of having hosts and greeters, guests in many joints will be met with “please select a table” — other workers shouldn’t expect extra hours or overtime.
  9. The grandfather of accused Jayme Closs kidnapper Jake Patterson told reporters outside the courthouse in Barron that he was submitting a letter he hoped would get to Jayme. He apologized profusely, said his family is heartbroken, and just can’t figure out how his grandson got that way.
  10. Benjamin Brafman is resigining from Harvey Weinstein’s legal team. Word is he’s not on board with Harv expanding his legal team. Brafman is a pro; he’s defended Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Jay-Z, and Puff Daddy.

The Hit List: January 16, 2019

  1. Count on the Washington Post for hard-hitting journalism. In covering the Clemson football team’s visit to the White House where they were served fast food for their meeting with President Trump, they fact checked the President’s assertion that there were burgers stacked a “mile high.” Alongside the commentary was a forensics-style diagram outlining just where the players could find Big Macs, pizzas, fries and other food, taking Trump Derangement Syndrome to a new low (or high?).
  2. Attorney General nominee William Barr is on Capitol Hill this week testifying in support of his nomination to the office. He held the office under President George HW Bush.
  3. The government shutdown’s effects are hitting the private sector. Delta airlines says it expects flat year-over-year first quarter growth, with fewer government employees and contractors being able to travel. And with government inspectors out of work, they’re unable to get new airplanes into circulation.
  4. Netflix stock spiked 6% Tuesday on the heels of its announcement that subscription rates would go up $1 or $2, depending on the plan. They’ve invested $8 billion in content development and are looking to take on $2 billion in debt to continue the original content efforts.
  5. An ex-girlfriend of Jayme Closs kidnapper Jake Patterson has revealed chilling details about him to Radar Online. The ex says he once killed a dog and would collect roadkill from the side of the road and stuff their heads. She said he at first seemed “nerdy” but “cool” when they dated in high school, but he quickly revealed a major temper.
  6. Ebola is resurging in Congo, in the second-worst outbreak in history. 600 cases have been confirmed in the last 5 months. 396 have died.
  7. Nike is out with a shoe out of Back to the Future. The Adapt BB self-laces when instructed by a smartphone app, and also smartly adjusts for the perfect fit on the wearer. Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum is expected to wear the kicks tonight on the court.
  8. An Australian journalist is out with a new book about the perilous dive rescue that saved 12 boys in Thailand last year. Liam Chochrane reports in his new book “The Cave” that the boys were drugged with ketamine and fitted with oxygen masks so the expert divers could help carry them to safety. They also had their hands bound behind their backs so that, if they woke up during the swim, they couldn’t panic and remove their masks. Their parents had been told they were sedated to assist in the rescue, but not to this drastic of a degree.
  9. Facebook will spend $300 million investing in local news initiatives, providing grants to community newspapers and increasing fact-checking efforts. The spend comes amid criticism that platforms like Facebook and Google have eaten into the profit margins of local papers.
  10. Texas Rangers Hall of Famer John Wetteland has been arrested for sexual assault of a child. The accuser is a family member, who says in 2004 when she was only 4 years old he forced her to perform an unspecified sexual act, repeatedly over the course of two years. One of Wetteland’s daughters has posted to Facebook that the allegations are untrue.

Hit List: January 15, 2019

  1. Congressional Democrats jetted off to Puerto Rico with their families, for an all-expense paid “fact-finding” mission paid for by lobbyists. Senator Bob Menendez was snapped beachside with an unidentified woman — meanwhile the government shutdown drags on.
  2. With the government shut down, the visiting Clemson football team wasn’t going to have much of a reception at the White House for their meet with President Trump — until Trump stepped in. Trump personally paid for a smorgasbord of fast food for the players.
  3. President Trump meanwhile rejected a compromise that would re-open government just enough to score political points with furloughed federal workers. He wants $5.7 billion that will go toward building a wall at the southern border.
  4. Jake Patterson has had his first day in court — he’s the creep who’s admitted to murdering Denise and James Closs and kidnapping their daughter Jayme, who last week escaped after 88 days in captivity. He appeared in court via video conference and is held on $4 million bail. Prosecutors expect the case to go to trial.
  5. The National Broadcast Corporation’s leadership is getting a shakeup. Mark Lazarus is currently the head of the Sports division, but will take over the whole organization, overseeing Broadcast, Caable, Sports, and News. The Peacock also announced plans to roll out a streaming service in 2020 to access much of its programming online.
  6. Los Angeles public school teachers have striked after 21 months of failed negotiations. Classes went on as usual for the 480,000 affected students, who were taught by fill-in substitutes.
  7. Jon Voight will appear as Justice Warren Burger in the forthcoming “Roe v. Wade” film. The movie has been produced in near-secrecy, fearing backlash from mainstream anti-life Hollywood actors, agents, and studios. A three minute trailer shows Voight in the role — the flick is slated to appear at the March for Life in DC in March.
  8. Norway’s government is looking into Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal for inflating the number of times songs are played. Tidal says there’s nothing to see here, but some Norwegian artists think they’re missing out on income due to manipulated streaming data.
  9. FedEx will pay $35 million to New York City for illegally distributing untaxed cigarettes. By shipping direct to consumer, some cigarette manufacturers are able to forego the expensive excise taxes slapped on their product — $4.35 to the state and additional $1.50 to the city. FedEx policy prohibits shippers from sending tobacco, but NYC says they just turned a blind eye to those customers.
  10. Walgreen’s is testing video screens on the front of its refrigerated-section doors that would use smart technology to target ads to customers walking in front of them. The ads would change based on how cameras and artificial intelligence perceive the customer’s age and other demographics.

The Hit List: January 14, 2019

  1. Shortly after dismissing disgraced FBI Director Jim Comey, President Donald Trump was investigated for being a Russian agent, either wittingly or unwittingly. In a phone interview with Jeannine Pirro on FoxNews, Trump called it the “the most insulting thing” every written about him.
  2. At 23 days, the current government shutdown is the longest ever. Many federal workers didn’t get paid on Friday.
  3. House Democrats are opening their first formal investigations into President Trump. The Foreign Affairs Committee will pursue whether Trump tried to hide the contents of a meeting he had with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
  4. Julian Castro has announced he’ll run for the Democrat nomination for president in 2020. So will Hawaii rep Tulsi Gabbard.
  5. Protests outside of R. Kelly’s recording studio caused trouble over the weekend. The anti-R movement carried signs to #MuteRKelly. Once the crowd grew, trucks with speakers arrived blasting R’s music.
  6. YouTube star Logan Paul has apologized for remarks that upset the LGBT community. On his vodcast he jokingly said he’d “go gay” for a month, for which he is sorry.
  7. Apple will likely expand its software offerings so users don’t need Apple hardware to use it. Until iTunes came out, you’d need Apple devices to use their offerings; with streaming expanding and slowing iPhone sales, they may take the same approach to its entire ecosystem of offerings.
  8. Nebraska lawmakers want to take “mystery meat” off the table. Encouraged by the farm lobby, the state government is considering legislation that would define “meat” so that veggie burgers and the like couldn’t market themselves as such.
  9. A World War I U-Boat that was destroyed by its crew after running aground near France has resurfaced. Low tides have revealed U61 for the first time in over a century off the coast of Calais.
  10. Jean Calament has been validated to be the oldest living person ever, dying in 1997 at the supposed age of 122. But a new report by Russian researchers solidifies evidence that Jean was actually her daughter Yvonne, and couldn’t have been older than 100 when she died.

The Hit List: January 11, 2019

  1. President Trump visited the country’s southern border at McAllen, Texas Thursday. Washington Post reports Trump has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether construction could begin within the next 45 days if contracts were appropriately signed.
  2. Google is getting sued for covering up sexual misconduct perpetrated by several senior executives, including the creator of the Android operating system Andy Rubin and former head of search Amit Singhal. Despite finding evidence of misconduct, the lawsuit alleges, the execs were given multi-million dollar payouts to leave.
  3. In a letter from prison, convicted pedophile Gary Oliva confessed to a friend the murder of JonBenet Ramsay in 1996. He’s currently in prison for possession of child pornography. When he was arrested in 2016, police found hundreds of photos of Ramsay in his possession. Murder investigators are pursuing charges.
  4. The birth rate is plummeting in America. Only South Dakota and Utah’s fertility rates hit levels to sustain the population. The 3.85 million babies born last year is the lowest number since 1987.
  5. A former Fox News staffer is suing Showtime for $750 million and an injunction to stop a miniseries about Roger Ailes. Laura Luhn is fictionalized in the series, and her lawsuit says she appears as a “pimp” for Ailes, who was removed from his position in 2016.
  6. R. Kelly’s music is popular, even if he’s under fire in the Lifetime documentary series criticizing his history of alleged sexual abuse. Nielsen said the R&B singer’s streams have increased one million week over week.
  7. Don’t share your Netflix password with friends or family — new Artificial Intelligence software will detect when someone unauthorized to be on the account is accessing the streaming service, and you could automatically be upgraded to a more expensive plan.
  8. The Soprano’s creator David Chase says a young Tony Soprano will appear in the prequel movie “The Many Saints of Newark.” The forthcoming flick will follow Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father, during the ’70s.
  9. Mall-based stores are still struggling in the booming economy. Macy’s and Kohl’s both reported less-than-exciting end-of-year revenue, despite the holiday shopping season. Macy’s finished down 19% on Thursday.
  10. US sanctions against Iran have left a Norwegian Air jet stranded in Tehran. The 737 aircraft left Dubai in December en route to Oslo, but but a technical issue forced the aircraft to land. Norwegian Air has no operations in Iran, and must get permission to import any materials, parts or equipment that are more than 10 percent US-origin goods. There’s no timeline on when the jet will be able to return to its home fleet.
  11. The Los Angeles Teachers Union have received permission to begin a strike on Monday; a Superior Court Judge has ruled they’ve given appropriate notice. LA Public Schools will remain open to support the 640,000 students who would otherwise be affected, having already staffed up and hired hundreds of substitutes to fill in.

The Hit List: January 10, 2019

  1. President Trump started his meeting with Congressional leaders yesterday looking to make a deal. VP Mike Pence says Trump even passed out candies at the start. But when Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer made it clear no negotiation would conclude with a border wall, Trump upped and left.
  2. Starbucks bathrooms are a hotbed of drug use — so bad employees have started demanding the company install boxes for safe disposal of needles. More than 3700 baristas have signed a petition demanding their employer do something to address the growing problem, and corporate listened; they’ll begin rolling out the needle disposal sites in select cafes and markets.
  3. Kevin Spacey says his accuser lied about his age and was inviting his advances, the disgraced actor has said in court documents. Spacey says the alleged victim said he was 23, when he was actually 18, and that he was enrolled at Wake Forest, when in fact he had not yet started college.
  4. Amazon founder and World’s Richest Man Jeff Bezos is headed to divorce court. He and his wife of 25 years are splitting up. Washington is one of 8 states with a law that provides for an equal division of assets if no prenup or postnup is in place; if she goes for half his wealth, he could be bumped down to #4 on the world’s wealthiest list.
  5. The Chrysler Building in Manhattan is up for sale. It was purchased in 2008 by Abu Dhabi (the country) for $800 million for a 90% stake in ownership, and experts aren’t sure they’ll recoup the whole cost. Built between 1928 and 1930, it’s expensive to maintain and much of its original infrastructure makes upkeep difficult.
  6. Apple CEO Tim Cook took home $15.6 million in Fiscal Year 2018, which ended in September for the company. That package includes $12 million in incentives for far exceeding revenue targets. The announcement is on the heels of news that revenue then took a drastic downturn in the final months of the year.
  7. The price of the Forever Stamp is going up January 27. They’ll cost 55 cents apiece, up from 50.
  8. Toyota is recalling 1.7 million vehicles for having faulty airbags. The airbags in question are made with ammonium nitrate, and can fling deadly shrapnel at the seat occupant upon deploying. The defect has been responsible for 23 deaths around the world.
  9. The Oscars won’t have a host this year. More in Showbiz News.
  10. Buyer Beware: Samsung unveiled a bendable phone at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, but it’s only so bendy. If you completely fold it in half, expect it to snap.

The Hit List: January 9, 2019

  1. President Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, pitching his plan to build a wall at the Southern Border.
  2. Networks gave newly re-minted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a slot to rebut the remarks with her senate counterpart Chuck Schumer.
  3. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has now missed TWO DAYS on the Supreme Court, a first for the aging and ailing judge. Her failing health has anti-trumpers crossing fingers she can stay on the bench at least until after the 2020 elections, when they hope to boot him from office.
  4. The White House Office of Management and Budget says the government shutdown won’t impact tax returns. VP Mike Pence says the admin is “taking steps … to mitigate the impact” on taxpayers expecting cash back from the feds. Meanwhile, news reports are surfacing of federal employees starting to feel the pain of missing a paycheck.
  5. Major League Baseball has reported record revenues for the 2018 season, but it’s complicated. Attendance at games is falling, and player salaries dropped overall by $18 million, the first time payroll has decreased since 2010.
  6. With Facebook and Twitter under heavy fire for heavy political fire against conservative voices, they’ve turned to outside groups to collaboratively police content on their platforms. Increasingly those groups will include right-leaning organizations to help combat that perception of bias. Family Research Council and Americans for Tax Reform are just two groups who have been lobbying hard to be involved in the process of policing content.
  7. You might be able to get some cash from your old iPhone if you’re ready to upgrade. Apple is pushing a program that gives a $100 credit toward the purchase of a new phone when you give up your old model. Top-line iPhones can cost upward of $1000 now.
  8. AT&T is under fire for misrepresenting an upgrade to its data network. On phones in select markets, their signal was changed to “5G E,” implying an upgrade from the standard LTE — but AT&T was just calling the same service by a different name. Competitors Verizon and T-Mobile piled on on social media, taking AT&T to task for the deceptive practice.
  9. Sears might not be dead yet. It’s slated to be sold at auction January 14, provided current Chairman Ed Lampert cuts a check for $121 million to the ailing company today. Lampert and his investment firm want to acquire the company outright for $4.4 billion and keep 425 stores afloat.
  10. Remember the American diplomats in Cuba who suffered strange head trauma after reporting bizarre buzzing, humming and grinding sounds? Some speculated it was a sonic attack perpetrated by the Cubans, but a new study suggests it was actually from a specific type of crickets. Scientists who heard recordings of the sounds were able to match them to the cricket breed, and think a swarm of the bugs might actually be the real culprit.