A State Department official is scouring staffers' social media accounts for signs of disloyalty to Trump
State Department staffers are growing wary as their dedication to President Trump's agenda is scrutinized.
A top adviser in the State Department is reviewing social media pages, "making lists and gathering intel" on staffers to determine just how loyal they are to Trump, Foreign Policy reported Wednesday.
Mari Stull, who was appointed two months ago, is reportedly creating "chaos and dysfunction" at the State Department, after she quickly gained control and began vetting her fellow staffers. She has reportedly been investigating which officials approved Obama-era policies and has reached out to the World Health Organization and the United Nations to figure out which diplomats were hired by whom.
Stull has been eliminating all references to "international law" and "international order" from memos and official documents, all of which she demands to review before approving their release. She has also kept career officials out of some key meetings and declined to brief them afterward.
The State Department didn't respond to these claims from staffers, instead telling Foreign Policy that Stull is "committed to President Trump's vision of strong American leadership on the world stage" and emphasizing that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has thrown his "full support" behind career staff and leadership at the agency. Summer Meza
Officials in Nebraska used fentanyl to execute a felon Tuesday, the first time the drug was ever used in an execution in the U.S., reports The New York Times.
Carey Dean Moore, 60, was convicted of killing two taxi drivers in 1979, and the state went forward with the controversial decision to execute him by lethal injection at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. The Times reports that officials used a mixture of four different drugs, which had never before been tested. The mixture included a tranquilizer, a muscle relaxant, potassium chloride to stop the heart, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has garnered attention in the nation's rising opioid epidemic.
On Monday, a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by the German pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi to stop the execution; Fresenius Kabi said two of its drugs, the muscle relaxant and potassium chloride, would be used in the lethal cocktail, but claimed Nebraska obtained the drugs illegally, The Guardian reports. The drug company argued that the drugs had been improperly stored, which could lead to a painful execution.
Reporters who were in the room said the execution didn't appear to have any complications, with Moore mouthing "I love you" to his chosen witnesses, then breathing heavily and coughing before his death. It was the first execution in Nebraska since 1997, when state officials used an electric chair to carry out the death penalty. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza
The Washington Nationals have not been super great in the ballpark lately, so fans of the beleaguered team are looking to celebrate alternate expanses of grass and dirt.
After their team gave up walk-off home runs on consecutive nights — first a grand-slam blast to Chicago Cubs rookie David Bote on Sunday, then a neat dinger to St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Monday — fans of the D.C. baseball team sought to commiserate in the Nationals' dedicated subreddit. But rather than debate the franchise's embattled managers, or its subpar relief pitching, or its general malaise, Nats fans turned to the great outdoors to ease their pain.
You see, while "the Nationals" tends to refer to the MLB team in the nation's capital, if you think creatively enough, it can really be shorthand for "the National( Park)s (of America)":
As Ringer writer Claire McNear noted Tuesday, depressed Nationals fans have been sharing gorgeous pictures from America's national parks in the subreddit, rather than remember how this ballclub was supposed to contend into October. There are also pleas to recognize underappreciated contributors and spirited discussions of hot topics, just like in any other good sports subreddit.
Nats fans aren't the first group to co-opt their own subreddit; devotees of the spiraling New York Mets did the same in June, which isn't exactly ideal company to keep. On the plus side, you can see some beautiful nature photos here. Kimberly Alters
Sarah Huckabee Sanders 'can't guarantee' that Americans will never hear a recording of Trump saying the N-word
Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and White House leaks.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders knows this to be true, telling reporters Tuesday that she "can't guarantee anything" when it comes to the next tape that former senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman will inevitably release.
Manigault Newman has alleged that President Trump has said the N-word on tape, and gave CBS News a recording of Trump campaign officials allegedly discussing the existence of such a tape to corroborate her claim. Trump himself took to Twitter to insist that "there are NO TAPES" of him using "such a terrible and disgusting word."
Sanders couldn't make things quite so clear, leaving some room for the possibility that more recordings will emerge. She said she had "never heard him use that term or anything similar," but when asked whether she could "guarantee the American people they'll never hear Donald Trump utter the N-word on a recording in any context," she replied, "I can't guarantee anything," and could only say that if people in the administration thought Trump was racist, they "wouldn't be here." Sanders added that she "hasn't been in every room" to know for certain whether tapes exist.
Instead, Sanders pointed to policies that have reduced the unemployment rate among African-Americans, claiming against evidence that Trump has already tripled the accomplishments of former President Barack Obama. Watch the moment below, via Fox News. Summer Meza
American millennials may have ruined mayonnaise, but at least they haven't launched an avocado black market.
That's what's happened in New Zealand, as low avocado harvests has driven the average cost of one fruit to $3.30. New Zealand refuses to import the toast-topper, jacking prices up 37 percent in the past year, The New York Times reports.
Guacamole lovers have tried to avoid high prices by growing their own avocado trees, but they are often put on a waitlist at nurseries, the Times says. Others see an opportunity to turn green into gold and have started nabbing avocados in the night: Two thieves were recently caught smuggling $4,300 of avocados out of an orchard in duvet covers, the Times reports. Another pair tried using a hook to pull fruits off a tree and escaped on a mobility scooter.
These thieves' plots may have been smashed, but one farmer reported 70 percent of his avocados were stolen last year, per The New Zealand Herald. Growers have taken to surrounding trees with razor wire or installing security systems to protect their crops.
The sheer volume of these stolen avocados suggests they're likely sold in small shops or used for food service. "It's clearly not for their own consumption," Alasdair Macmillan, New Zealand's coordinator of community policing, told the Times. "You can only put so much avocado on your burger or in your sushi," Macmillan continued — indicating he's never seen the full power of a dedicated millennial mind. Kathryn Krawczyk
Former senior White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman promises to keep whistleblowing.
Manigault Newman appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday to claim that she witnessed "a lot of corruption that went on both in the campaign and in the White House."
The former Apprentice contestant, who departed her White House role in January, has the GOP and President Trump on edge now that she is doing a media tour to promote her new tell-all book, suddenly vowing to "expose" the administration's hidden secrets and alleging that Trump is a proven racist and misogynist.
Manigault Newman claimed Trump "absolutely" knew in advance that WikiLeaks would make public a trove of leaked emails from Hillary Clinton. She said he knew they were forthcoming, but opted not to say how he knew. She further did not offer any evidence to support the claim, though she did reveal that she has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for more details.
Manigault Newman went on to say that White House staffers are worried about Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference, and claimed Trump would grab women and kiss them without their consent at "any time of any day." When MSNBC's Katy Tur asked Manigault Newman why viewers should believe her, the former White House employee promised that "every single thing" from her book Unhinged had been verified — and more ominously, documented. Watch the full interview below, via MSNBC. Summer Meza
The cells in our body are constantly changing and mutating, and it's specific harmful types of mutations that can cause cancer. Logic would suggest that larger organisms, which have larger volumes of cells, should develop cancer a lot more often than smaller ones.
This does not hold true for elephants.
Elephants have a remarkable ability to avoid cancer, CNN reported; only about 5 percent of elephants die of cancer, compared to about 25 percent of humans. That's why researchers are studying the massive mammals for clues into how they manage to fight back against cancer so well, in the hopes that some of their findings can be applied to treat cancer in humans, too.
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports, scientists reveal the discovery of a gene in elephants that might explain their resilience. Called a "zombie gene," it can detect cancer as soon as it develops in a cell, and kill that cell off before it can divide and create more cancerous cells. By observing the "zombie gene" at work in elephants, the researchers were able to learn that its self-destruct button is triggered by damaged DNA — which is why it responds to the mutations in cancer cells.
There's a long road ahead before the "zombie gene" can be used as a treatment for humans with cancer, but it's "one piece of a larger puzzle," study author Vincent Lynch said. Read more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar
You might want to keep a close eye on your bank accounts, because something wicked this way comes.
The FBI recently warned banks that cybercriminals are preparing to perform a global ATM heist. Within the "coming days," criminals plan to infiltrate banks or payment card processors and withdraw millions of dollars from ATMs using fake cards, per an FBI notice reported by cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs. The advisory came from a "confidential alert the FBI shared with banks privately on Friday," Krebs added.
Referred to as an "unlimited operation," the choreographed scheme will seek to access customers' bank card information with the help of malware. Once the hackers have gained access to accounts, they'll be able to manipulate a number of features, such as withdrawal amounts, limits on ATM transactions, and account balances. Per The Verge, the card data will then be sent to accomplices who can reprint it "onto reusable magnetic strip cards" to be used at individual ATMs, where they can quickly withdraw the maximum amount of money available from the compromised accounts.
The FBI alert sent to banks Friday explained that "historic compromises have included small-to-medium size financial institutions, likely due to less robust implementation of cyber security controls, budgets, or third-party vendor vulnerabilities," per Krebs' report. The breaches also tend to occur on holidays when banks are closed, or on Saturday evenings when banks are beginning to close.