September 10, 2019

The White House is hoping that when it comes to picking a new national security adviser, the fourth time's a charm.

With former National Security Adviser John Bolton either getting the boot or booting himself on Tuesday, there's now a job opening for President Trump to fill. Several people with knowledge of the matter told CNN on Tuesday night that there are at least 10 people being considered for the role, but because this is Trump, he might go with someone whose name isn't on the list.

One possible choice is Brian Hook, a senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a special representative for Iran. A person familiar with the matter told CNN Hook is definitely campaigning for the position, and is liked by people in the White House. Another candidate is Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany. He's also been angling for the job, a person with knowledge of the situation told CNN, but he was one of Bolton's allies, and that could disqualify him.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a regular on Fox News, is in the running, one person told CNN, as is Jack Keane, a retired four-star general. The only problem with Keane is he has no intention of accepting the offer, a person close to him told CNN; while he is an informal adviser to Trump, he's turned down the Secretary of Defense job twice, and doesn't think they'll even offer him the national security adviser role.

Until a successor is chosen, Bolton's deputy, Charles Kupperman, will serve as acting national security adviser. For more on the rumored replacements, visit CNN. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

Stephen Colbert's Late Show knows what you — or at least some of you — have been doing while sheltering in place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Other notable actors and comedians may try to cajole you into staying at home, but Colbert repurposed the theme song from the tippling-themed sitcom Cheers to persuade you — and if you watch to the end, one of the regulars makes a cameo to drive the point home, for better and worse. Drink responsibly, drink at home, and watch below. Peter Weber

April 1, 2020

A financial disclosure filed Tuesday shows that from mid-February to mid-March, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeff Sprecher, invested in DuPont, a company that makes personal protective equipment used by first responders fighting the COVID-19 coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Loeffler, worth an estimated $500 million, came under fire last month when it was discovered that she dumped millions in stock after receiving confidential briefings on the coronavirus pandemic and before she publicly downplayed the threat from the virus; 15 of the stocks had, on average, lost more than a third of their value by late March. Loeffler has denied using insider knowledge to influence her decisions to buy and sell stock, and her campaign says an investment firm manages her stocks and she does not have any control over day-to-day decisions.

The disclosure filed Tuesday shows that the largest transactions made between mid-February and mid-March involved $18.7 million in sales of Intercontinental Exchange stock. ICE owns the New York Stock Exchange, and Loeffler is a former company executive. Loeffler's campaign said the sales were prearranged as part of Loeffler's and Sprecher's compensation package. Read more about Loeffler's stock sales at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said the heartburn drug Zantac should immediately be pulled from shelves and consumers should dispose of any pills or liquid they have at home.

During safety tests last summer, extremely high levels of the contaminant NDMA, believed to be a carcinogen, were discovered in samples of the drug. The active ingredient in Zantac is ranitidine, and the FDA said that over time, NDMA appears as an impurity in ranitidine in levels exceeding federal standards, NPR reports.

The FDA issued a warning last September, and CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart removed the drug and its generic forms from stores. Since then, the agency has confirmed that the issue is how ranitidine naturally breaks down in normal storage conditions, and has nothing to do with the way it is manufactured.

"We didn't observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested," the FDA's Janet Woodcock said in a statement Wednesday. "However, since we don't know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured." Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard is telling foreign cruise ships with more than 50 people on board that they need to "increase their medical capabilities, personnel, and equipment" in order to care for sick individuals amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

This is "necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients," Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones wrote in a safety bulletin dated March 29. During normal circumstances, a ship can call the Coast Guard and ask to have people who are seriously ill medically evacuated.

The order is for ships in the district covering Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. There are dozens of cruise ships lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades, in addition to several that are waiting offshore, The Associated Press reports. Most of the ships just have crew members on board, but Carnival Corp. says it has more than 6,000 passengers still at sea.

The cruise line is trying to reach a deal with federal, state, and local officials that would let two of its Holland America ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, dock at Port Everglades this week. Two people on board the Zaandam have died of COVID-19, and nine have tested positive for the virus. The medical center on another Carnival Corp. ship headed to Florida, the Coral Princess, has reported a "higher-than-normal number of people with flu-like symptoms," AP reports. By law, ships bound for the United States have to give daily updates on the number of coronavirus cases on board. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

Musician Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of the rock band Fountains of Wayne and an award-winning songwriter for the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, died on Wednesday of coronavirus complications. He was 52.

On Tuesday, Schlesinger's family announced that he had been hospitalized and was on a ventilator, saying in a statement, "He is receiving excellent care, his condition is improving, and we are cautiously optimistic."

Schlesinger was a Grammy and Emmy Award winner, and over the course of his career was also nominated for Tony, Oscar, and Golden Globe Awards. He won two Emmys in 2018 for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and also served as the show's executive music director. Schlesinger wrote the theme song for Tom Hanks' 1997 film That Thing You Do! and recorded five albums with Fountains of Wayne. Their biggest hit, "Stacy's Mom," was released in 2003.

He is survived by two daughters. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence is asking Americans to heed the government's social distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and not attend worship services with more than 10 people.

Pence told Nightline's Byron Pitts on Wednesday that the White House is "so grateful to churches and synagogues and places of worship around America" that are following the guidelines, which include avoiding large gatherings and staying at least six feet away from people.

There are some churches in the country that have flouted local social distancing orders; a Florida pastor was arrested on Monday and charged with unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules after holding a packed service on Sunday. Pence said he and President Trump have been "enjoying worship services online," and "we really believe this is a time when people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and so, we continue to urge churches around America to heed that."

Earlier this week, the White House said even with people following the guidelines, 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could still die from COVID-19. Pence told Pitts the White House is holding out hope that the country will be "in a much better place by June the 1st. If every American will put these guidelines into practice, if we all continue to do our part, we really do believe that by Memorial Day weekend or by early summer ... we can be through the hardest part of this. We can save lives, and we can begin to put America back to work." Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

Everyone gets duped now and then. That goes for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well.

Netanyahu recently showed his cabinet a video he claimed was evidence Iran was engineering a novel coronavirus coverup, Axios reports. Tehran has reported more than 47,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,000 deaths, but those figures have been eyed with suspicion by much of the rest of the world, including Israel, which, to put it gently, does not get along with Iran.

The video showed people dumping bodies into garbage dumps, two cabinet ministers told Axios. They said Netanyahu's national security adviser, Meir Ben Shabbat, showed him the video, but he probably should've checked his source. Upon further review the clip turned out to be a scene from the 2007 Hallmark Channel miniseries, Pandemic.

The Israeli government certainly did a bad job of vetting the clip, but the fact it made its way up the flagpole wasn't completely random. Iranians were reportedly sharing the footage on social media last week. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

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