National News, Tuesday, Jan. 28 – Trump Defense Teams Wraps Up; Wildcard is Possible John Bolton Testimony

TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2020

With GOP Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins saying they would like to hear from Former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, the White House legal team is closing its arguments today in defense of President Trump and hoping persuade the Senate to end the trial without hearing additional witnesses or evidence. 

The wild card is now on the table in the possible testimony of John Bolton who really is just hoping to get a large financial advance for his new book.  Democrats are pouncing on this possible new testimony while continuing to discount any testimony of Joe or Hunter Biden or their former associates.   Stay tuned.

At the same time, inn the Senate chambers, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer have wrapped up today’s arguments, finishing well before the allotted time for opening arguments expires.

Bolton says in his new book manuscript that has already been leaked all over Washington and to the media that Mr. Trump told him that he wanted to keep aid to Ukraine frozen until Kyiv had aided investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Interest in Mr. Bolton’s forthcoming book continued to grow on Capitol Hill last night as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a top ally of the president, threw his support behind a proposal by Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.) to make the Bolton manuscript available to the Senate in a classified setting.  In a tweet, Mr. Graham said that move would allow “each senator the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination.”

The book is expected to be published in March.  Mr. Bolton maintains copyright protection over the book, but he is prohibited from releasing it until the White House completes its review of classified information.

In comments to reporters Tuesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) rejected the idea of reading the manuscript behind closed doors.

“What an absurd proposal,” he said. “It is a book. There is no need for it to be read in the SCIF unless you want to hide something,” referring to a secure facility.

Republicans praised the Trump defense team’s performance on Monday but said it did little to ease senators’ concerns in the wake of Mr. Bolton’s allegations. “From last week to today, the appetite for witnesses went from ducks after bread to sharks chasing blood,” a GOP aide said Monday.

Democrats, who control 47 seats, need four Republicans to join them to approve motions for fresh testimony or previously unseen documentation. Sens. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) indicated on Monday that they were likely to favor witnesses. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) remained open, with Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) suggesting at a closed-door Senate lunch an arrangement in which the Senate subpoena Mr. Bolton as well as a witness sought by the White House.

The White House has grown concerned in recent days that two other senators might vote in favor of more testimony: Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio, people familiar with the discussions said.

At a closed-door GOP lunch on Monday, Mr. Toomey suggested a trade of Mr. Bolton’s testimony for that of a witness Republicans want to call, people familiar with the matter said.

The Senate decides whether to end the trial or gather more evidence later this week, after up to 16 hours of questioning the prosecution and defense, and as much as another four hours of debate on whether to subpoena witnesses or documents. If that hurdle is cleared, the Senate would then proceed to vote on whether to hear from Mr. Bolton, subpoena the notes he took during his tenure as national security adviser, and gather other information or hear from other witnesses.

President Trump introduces new peace plan today for the Middle East.

President Trump said Tuesday that he is offering a Middle East peace plan that charts a course to two states for Israelis and Palestinians, acknowledging it would be a tough sell to Palestinians and others.

He said the plan would grant Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas four years to fulfill American conditions necessary for an independent Palestinian state to be recognized, including renouncing terrorism, acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and passing laws to root out corruption and halt the activities of militant groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Speaking alongside Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Trump today said his administration’s 80-page document was the most detailed peace plan ever. No Palestinian officials attended the White House event but the ambassadors of Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were in attendance.

“Today Israel is taking a giant step toward peace,” Mr. Trump said, adding that Mr. Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz both backed the document as the basis for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Do surgical masks stop the CoronaVirus?

As the coronavirus continues to spread, a scramble for surgical masks is also underway. Over the weekend Chinese official warned of a severe mask shortage in the country. In the U.S., some medical supply stores are experiencing a mask shortage. But do these masks offer effective protection against the coronavirus?

… In 2003, journalist Jon Cohen wrote that the SARS virus, a type of coronavirus that is just 100 nanometers in size, can easily pass through such barriers. The same goes for the flu, at 80 to 120 nanometers. While the size of the new virus is currently unknown, human coronaviruses are generally about 125 nanometers, so there’s reason to believe this coronavirus follows suit.

… The CDC does advise health care workers working with SARS patients to wear a special mask called an N-95 respirator. But even these masks offer limited protection from coronaviruses.

Medical masks are sold out all over the U.S.  

Though medical experts say face masks aren’t very effective in preventing the spread of a disease like coronavirus, that hasn’t stopped face masks from selling in parts of the U.S. Companies like PacingMed — the No. 1 seller of disposable medical masks on Amazon — are urging consumers in disclaimers to avoid buying fake products:

 “Dear customer, all of our face masks are sold out. Please do not buy orders from other sellers to avoid getting counterfeit products. We are trying to replenish the stock by next month. Our brand is PacingMed. Sorry for the convenience.”

Nearly half of the teams in the National Football League appeared to have their Twitter accounts hacked Monday afternoon.

The accounts belonging to professional football teams tweeted out strange messages and had their profile photos and banners disappear.

… A group called OurMine is taking responsibility on Twitter for the hacks, which the group says also included some of the Instagram and Facebook accounts of the affected NFL teams. In since-deleted tweets, many of these hacked Twitter accounts posted messages, reading: “We’re back (OurMine). We are here to show people that everything is hackable.”

Vermont is one of the smallest US states, but it could have the honor of being the first to allow emoji on license plates.

A bill introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives would allow drivers to add their choice of six emoji to their license plates. Democrat Rebecca White introduced the bill, which doesn’t specify which six emoji will be allowed. Legislators will have plenty of options, though. According to Emojipedia, there are currently over 3,000 emoji.

… The bill specifies that any emoji would be “in addition to the 10 distinctive number assigned by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles or the numerals and letters selected by the registered owner of a vehicle as a vanity plate.”

A FedEx delivery man is picking up praise after he braved the cold to help do a good deed for a Michigan customer by shoveling snow from her stoop.

Kindergarten teacher Jodi Brooks LaFreniere was in her classroom Thursday when she noticed activity outside her home’s front door on her Ring camera. She noticed FedEx courier Melvin Marlett, who was dropping off a large package. What happened next was caught on video she later shared to Facebook: Marlett carried the package to the door through the snow, set it down, picked up a shovel and got to work clearing the stoop.

Superbowl and Chicken Wings…

The National Chicken Council’s annual Chicken Wing Report claims Americans will consume 1.4 billion wings on Super Bowl Sunday — 27 million more than last year.

Speaking of food, Americans are often thought of as excessive and wasteful in their eating habits. A recent study is lending some credence to that belief.

According to research (Penn State University), the average American household wastes nearly a third of its food.

… The value of that waste is estimated at $240 billion annually. When divided among the 128.6 million American households, that’s an average of $1,866 being wasted per household on a yearly basis.

An amazing moment was caught on video in New York City Sunday, when onlookers ran to lift an SUV off of a pedestrian.

The woman had apparently been run over. Nearly a dozen passers-by tilted the vehicle in order to pull her out. She was transported to a hospital.

The perception that children seem to grow taller overnight is likely true.

Scientists (University of Wisconsin) placed sensors on the leg bones of lambs to monitor bone growth in the animals. Ninety percent of bone growth occurred when the animals were sleeping or otherwise at rest. The study suggested that growth plates consisting of soft cartilage at the ends of bones become compressed when walking or standing, preventing growth. When lying down, the pressure on the growth plates is off and the bones elongate.

SUPER BOWL = PIZZA SALES _ Most pizza chains will have their single-biggest sales day of the year on Super Bowl Sunday. The biggest pizza days:

  1. Super Bowl Sunday
  2. New Year’s Eve
  3. Halloween
  4. The night before Thanksgiving
  5. New Year’s Day

POWERBALL JACKPOT RISES TO $394 MILLION FOR WEDNESDAY DRAWING _ No winner was selected during Saturday night’s Powerball drawing, raising the jackpot to nearly $400 million. The next drawing will take place Wednesday.

… While no one claimed the Powerball prize, five people in Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas matched the first five numbers, earning a $1 million prize.

More than 750 people from 20 states turned up for Florida’s 2020 Python Bowl, catching 80 of the giant invasive snakes.

The grand prize winner in the 10-day contest was Mike Kimmel, who caught eight Burmese pythons. His prize was a Tracker 570 Off Road all-terrain vehicle.

… One contestant, Tom Rahill, caught both the longest, a beast of 12 feet, 7.3 inches, and the heaviest, a 62-pounder. He won $4,000 for his efforts.

… Florida holds the contest every year in an effort to put the squeeze on the nonvenomous constrictor. Conservationists say the reptiles, estimated to number in the tens of thousands in the Everglades, pose a threat to native wildlife.

The names are in.  Students across the U.S. submitted more than 28,000 potential names for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. A panel of 4,700 volunteer judges whittled that list down to 155 semifinalists. That list was whittle down to nine. So far the finalists are:

• Endurance
• Tenacity
• Promise
• Perseverance
• Vision
• Clarity
• Ingenuity
• Fortitude
• Courage

… The winning name will be announced on March 15. The student will also get the chance to watch the rover launch in July from Cape Canaveral.

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