Wilkie C. Mahoney, West Coast Whiz Bang: A Guest Post by Bob Sarber

Happy birthday to an old family friend…


Comedy writer Wilkie C. Mahoney has one champion on this world, and a fierce one it is. Journalist Bob Sarber knew him personally as a family friend when he was growing up. Nine months ago, when such a thing was still possible, Bob told me story after story about Wilkie as he drove me along the Pacific Coast Highway to show this Eastern dude the California country he knows and loves so well. It all culminated with a talk at the History Center of San Luis Obispo County, drawn from Bob’s research on Mahoney for a projected book, which we chronicled here. At any rate, Bob is the only person to write a Travalanche entry on Wilkie Mahoney, which he has generously done. The foregoing is from his pen:  

Wilkie Mahoney was was born the family homestead in San Miguel, California, on this day in 1897. His name frequently…

View original post 808 more words

The Rundown for June 10, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to 1,979,850 and the death toll stands at 112,006, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN yesterday that the disease is “my worst nightmare,” in some ways more than Ebola or HIV. Almost half the states in the country are seeing higher rates of cases as Americans gather to socialize or protest. South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, told reporters yesterday that the next relief package likely won’t be passed by the Senate until at least mid-July.

PROTESTS CONTINUE… Protests calling for justice over George Floyd’s death in police custody and for police reform continued yesterday in cities large and small throughout the nation. Protesters in Seattle stormed city hall and called for the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan, whom they accuse of failing to stop “unnecessary violence” from being used at demonstrations. The action came on the same day that the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Korematsu Center at Seattle University School of Law and the law firm Perkins Coie filed a lawsuit against the city in U.S. District Court on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, protesters and a journalist. In Richmond, Virginia, protesters toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus into a pond in the city’s Byrd Park.

BIDEN WINS GEORGIA AND WEST VIRGINIA PRIMARIES… Joe Biden picked up more delegates yesterday with projected primary wins in Georgia and West Virginia, raising his number of delegates to 2,106. Problems with voting machines caused long lines at Georgia’s voting stations and prompted authorities to open an investigation into the “unacceptable” voting issues. In DeKalb County, officials reportedly ran out of paper ballots after voting machines failed.

AIR FORCE GETS NEW COMMANDER… The Senate voted unanimously yesterday to confirm General Charles Q. Brown as the Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff and make him the first African-American to lead a U.S. military branch. Brown, who is currently the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, will replace General Dave Goldfein. Last week, Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan delayed Brown’s nomination due to questions about the KC-46 aerial-refueling tanker.

NEW YORK STATE VOTE TO MAKE COPS’ RECORDS PUBLIC.. Lawmakers in New York state yesterday repealed a decades-old law that has kept law enforcement officers’ disciplinary records confidential. State lawmakers also passed other bills that would provide all state troopers with body cameras and ensure that police officers provide medical and mental health attention to people in custody. Earlier yesterday, the passage came as criminal charges were brought against an NYPD officer over his rough treatment of a protester during recent demonstrations.

… The Paramount Network yesterday canceled production of the long-running reality TV series “Cops” amid worldwide protests against police brutality. Earlier, Paramount’s parent company, ViacomCBS, announced that it would not air the show’s episodes on any of its channels. The 33rd season of “Cops” was set to premiere June on Monday but wasn’t aired. Over the weekend, cable channel A&E pulled last week’s episodes of “Live PD.”

‘VANDERPUMP RULES’ CAST MEMBERS FIRED… Four “Vanderpump Rules” cast members have been fired for racist actions deemed racist by Bravo. Original cast members Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute were let go, as were new cast members Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni. Former cast member Faith Stowers, who was the only black cast member when she appeared in the show’s fourth season, recently revealed on Instagram that Schroeder and Doute once reported her to police for a crime she didn’t commit.

… ESPN announced yesterday that the Major League Baseball Players Association is proposing an 89-game season with a full prorated share of salary and expanded playoffs. The proposal would bring the sides closer to an agreement because it is 25 games fewer than the union’s most recent proposal of 114 games at full pro rata. On Monday, owners proposed a 76-game season that would cover up to 75 percent of players’ prorated salaries. Per the players’ proposal, the season would start on July 10 and end on October 11. It also would expand the postseason to 16 teams (eight in each league) for 2020 and 2021.

The Rundown for June 2, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. has reached 1,811,277 and the death toll stands at 105,147, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A comprehensive study published yesterday in the Lancet medical journal found that physical distance and perhaps the use of a mask were the two best ways to prevent transmission. The study urged people to stay at least three feet apart and more if possible. Also yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer rescinded the state’s stay-at-home order, allowing many businesses to reopen later this week. Whitmer issued an executive order allowing retailers to open Thursday and restaurants to open on Monday with both being subject to capacity limits.

TRUMP THREATENS TO USE MILITARY ON PROTESTERS… Demonstrations and clashes with police continued in cities throughout the U.S. yesterday. President Trump threatened the nation’s governors that he would deploy the military to states that fail to end violent protests over police brutality. Later, police under federal command fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at peaceful demonstrators so that Trump could walk to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church and pose for photos while holding a Bible. The bishop who oversees the church was “outraged” that the president would use that place of worship for a photo-op. “We need moral leadership and he’s done everything to divide us and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” lamented Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde.

WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP INCITING VIOLENCE… An account claiming to be associated with a non-existent national anti-fascist organization has been suspended on Twitter after sharing a tweet that incited violence. The account, which has been connected to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, declared, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades Tonight we say ‘F— The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours …” Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts and is conducting an investigation into the widespread use of disinformation to deflect blame for recent violence.

GEORGE FLOYD DEATH OFFICIALLY RULED A HOMICIDE… The Hennepin County Medical Examiner yesterday officially ruled last week’s death of George Floyd a homicide. According to the updated report, the 46-year-old unarmed black man died on May 25 due to a “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression” while Floyd was being restrained by law enforcement officers. Hours before the update was released, attorneys for Floyd’s family released the findings of an independent autopsy, which determined Floyd died of “asphyxia from sustained pressure” on his neck and back.

LOUISVILLE POLICE CHIEF FIRED… Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the firing of Police Chief Steve Conrad yesterday in response to the performance of his officers. The announcement came a day after the fatal shooting of the owner of a barbecue restaurant that offered meals to police officers. 53-year-old David McAtee died while police and National Guard opened fire while enforcing a curfew. He was inside his restaurant at the time. Mayor Fischer said police turned off their body cameras prior to the shooting.

BIDEN MEETS WITH BLACK LEADERS… Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed to African-American leaders yesterday that he would fight institutional racism and re-establish a Justice Department police oversight body within the first 100 days of being elected president. Biden made the announcement while visiting with political, religious and education leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The former vice president listened and took notes before standing to address the crowd.

… Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts announced yesterday that they are postponing their joint summer stadium tour until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original stadium tour was set to kick off on June 18 in Jacksonville, Florida. Members of Motley Crue were looking forward to returning to the road together following the release of their Netflix biopic “The Dirt.” Poison was set to tour with its original lineup of Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall and Rikki Rockett.

MUSIC INDUSTRY TAKING THE DAY OFF… The music industry will be observing a day-long “blackout” today in response to George Floyd’s killing last week. All three major record labels yesterday promised on social media “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community.” Workers at the labels have been given the day off as “a day of action,” intended to “provoke accountability and change.” Interscope vowed not to release new music this week.

MLB OWNERS FAVOR SHORT SEASON… ESPN reported yesterday that Major League Baseball owners are now willing to honor the March accord in which players agreed to prorate their 2020 salaries based on the number of games played but are also angling for a much shorter regular season. Owners are thinking in terms of a 50-game season, with players earning their full prorated salaries. Players have sought a full prorated portion of their salaries based on a March 26 agreement with the league. The Players Association on Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that would cover 70.3% of their original salaries. A 50-game schedule with full pro rata would pay the players 30.8 percent of that number.

The Rundown for May 29, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,721,750 and the death toll stands at 101,617, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Illinois, which is the only U.S. state to meet the White House’s five criteria for reopening for business, will reopen for business today. The reopening applies to both essential and non-essential businesses, although employers are still encouraged to allow working from home. Social gatherings of ten people or less are allowed. State parks will be open.

THIRD NIGHT OF PROTESTS… Protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody spread to cities nationwide last night in the third straight night of violent demonstrations. Buildings were burned, stores looted and a police precinct was set ablaze in Minneapolis. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order activating the National Guard. President Trump warned that “once the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Minneapolis police say the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before his death, Derek Chauvin, was a 19-year veteran who had 18 prior complaints filed against him. Video captured by witnesses appears to contradict police claims that Floyd resisted arrest.

28 INDICTED FOR VIOLATING NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS… The Justice Department has accused 28 North Korean and Chinese nationals of violating U.S. sanctions to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons. According to an indictment filed in February and unsealed yesterday, the accused allegedly laundered more than $2.5 billion through some 200 shell companies. The funds were then reportedly funneled into North Korea’s state-owned Foreign Trade Bank and used to fund North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

NSA WARNS OF RUSSIAN HACKERS… The U.S. National Security Agency issued a stern warning yesterday that the same Russian military hacking group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election and unleashed a devastating malware attack the next year has been exploiting a major email server program since last August or earlier. The NSA did not say who has been targeted but senior U.S. intelligence officials fear the hackers could threaten the integrity of the November presidential election. Officials say attackers gain access using specially crafted email and install programs, modify data and create new accounts to enter a compromised network.

2M MORE JOBLESS CLAIMS… Another 2 million American workers have filed for unemployment benefits, according to numbers released by the Labor Department. The new figure is 323,000 fewer than the previous week. More than 40 million American workers have now filed for unemployment benefits over the last 10 weeks. The Labor Department’s report claimed that the U.S. economy lost more than 25 million jobs for the month of April and unemployment was close to 15 percent.

… Video posted online yesterday shows actor Denzel Washington helping a homeless man during an encounter last week with Los Angeles police. In the video, Washington comforts the man and waits with him as he answers officers’ questions. LAPD said the man was released but did not clarify whether he had been arrested.

APPLE GREENLIGHTS HEDDY LAMAR SERIES… Apple announced yesterday that it has green lit the biographical series “Hedy Lamarr” for Apple TV Plus. Gal Gadot stars as Lamarr and serves as executive producer in the eight-episode series. The series will cover a 30-year period spanning from Lamarr’s escape from Vienna prior to World War II to her invention of a system that protected Allied torpedoes from German U-boat fire during the war and, finally, her downfall in the late 1950s. Lamarr starred in such films as “Algiers,” “Lady of the Tropics,” “Comrade X,” “Ziegfeld Girl,” “Samson and Delilah” and “The Story of Mankind.”

… NFL owners yesterday approved three new rule changes for the 2020 season and tabled a proposed change to the onside kick rule. The owners voted to make permanent the expansion of the automatic replay review system to include touchdowns and/or turnovers negated by penalty; expand the defenseless player protection to kick and punt returners; and prevent the manipulation of the game clock with multiple dead-ball fouls. Owners also ratified a change to the injured reserve return designation, allowing teams to bring three players back from IR rather than two.

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS LOSING JOBS… ESPN reported yesterday that hundreds of minor league baseball players have been cut and hundreds more are expected to be let go amid an expected cancellation of the season. Owners of minor league teams have begun laying off front-office. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he would inform Minor League Baseball if and when players would be allowed to join their teams.

The Rundown for May 28, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,699,126 and the death toll stands at 100,411, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci warned yesterday that the latest scientific data shows that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment despite the recommendation of President Trump. France banning the drug altogether yesterday and an internationally respected science journal published a 96,000-patient study that concluded the drug had no effect.

HONG KONG NOT CONSIDERED AUTONOMOUS… Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Congress yesterday that Hong Kong is no longer an autonomous region and isn’t entitled to special treatment under U.S. law. The declaration could have major implications for Hong Kong’s trade status under the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. The U.S. plans to treat the city the same as mainland China with regard to foreign policy and trade.

MORE PROTESTS IN MINNEAPOLIS… Protesters clashed with police for the second straight night in Minneapolis last night following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Protests were largely peaceful in the afternoon but police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in the early evening. In Los Angeles, protesters gathered in front of City Hall and blocked traffic in both directions of the 101 freeway. Floyd’s death is currently under investigation by the FBI, the Minnesota Department of Criminal Apprehension, and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

SUSPECTED KILLER IN CUSTODY AFTER MANHUNT… Authorities announced yesterday that the suspect in two killings and a kidnapping in Connecticut has been arrested in Maryland after a six-day manhunt. 23-year-old Peter Manfredonia was taken into custody without incident last night in Hagerstown, Maryland, after being found in the woods by a gas station. Police reportedly found a firearm they believe to be a murder weapon. The University of Connecticut senior is suspected of killing one man and seriously injuring another on Friday morning in Willington, Connecticut. He is also a suspect in the killing of a male acquaintance in Derby, Connecticut.

ROCKET LAUNCH POSTPONED… Yesterday’s launch of a SpaceX rocket carrying two NASA astronauts was aborted at the last minute due to weather conditions at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission was postponed until 3:22 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. When weather allows, the Crew Dragon capsule launch will be the first since 2011 to send American astronauts into orbit.

… NBC announced yesterday that an outside investigation of actress Gabrielle Union’s complaints of racism on the set of “America’s Got Talent” concluded that her allegations were unfounded. The outside review also found that Union’s claims had “no bearing” on the show’s decision to drop her as a judge. Union appeared on the show for one season before she and fellow freshman judge Julianne Hough weren’t asked to return. Union, who is black, contended she was fired because she had asked NBC and the show’s producers to respond to an environment that tolerated racist jokes and remarks.

ACTOR RICHARD HERD DIES… Actor Richard Herd, who was best known for his appearances on the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” and the films “Get Out” and “All the President’s Men,” died at his Los Angeles-area home on Tuesday of cancer-related causes, his wife, actress Patricia Crowder Herd, confirmed yesterday. He was 87. Herd portrayed Mr. Wilhem on 11 episodes of “Seinfeld.” His TV credits included “T.J Hooker” and “Star Trek.” Herd also appeared in the films “The China Syndrome,” “The Onion Field” and “Sgt. Bilko.”

… More than half of the NBA’s 30 franchises have reopened facilities for individual workouts. The Charlotte Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers have reopened their facilities this week and the Dallas Mavericks plan to reopen today. The NBA forbids having no more than four players in the facility at any one time and isn’t allowing head or assistant coaches to participate.

The Rundown for May 27, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,680,625 and the death toll stands at 98,902, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Amtrak yesterday asked Congress for an additional $1.5 billion in federal funds to help it maintain operations amid the effects of the pandemic. The company said it is taking “significant steps” to reduce its operating costs by about $500 million to offset revenue losses. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court declined to block a lower court’s order requiring the federal government to transfer medically vulnerable inmates in Ohio to safer conditions. Last month, a federal judge ordered the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution near Canton to identify prisoners who could be transferred to home confinement or safer prisons, or given compassionate release or furlough.

TWITTER FACT-CHECKS TRUMP… Twitter yesterday began placing labels indicating potentially harmful or misleading information on President Trump’s tweets. Two of Trump’s tweets alleging the widespread use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election will be “substantially fraudulent” were flagged with a notice that directed users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Twitter also announced it would not remove Trump tweets that falsely implicate MSNBC morning-show host Joe Scarborough in the death of a former congressional assistant.

THREE SENATORS OFF THE HOOK IN STOCK SCANDAL… The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Justice Department is closed investigations into stock sales made by three senators shortly before financial markets bottomed out amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kelly Loeffler and James Inhofe were notified of the decision. The Justice Department is keeping open its insider-trading investigation into North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr, whose trades were worth up to $1.7 million. The FBI executed a search warrant for his cellphone earlier this month.

GLENN FINE RESIGNS FROM PENTAGON POST… Glenn Fine resigned yesterday as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general, just a month after being removed as acting inspector general. His resignation will be effective June 1. Fine, who had been the acting inspector general since 2016, was removed by President Trump after serving as director of the new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Trump named Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general Sean O’Donnell as acting Department of Defense inspector general while maintaining his EPA role.

4 MINNEAPOLIS COPS FIRED AFTER FATAL ENCOUNTER… Four Minneapolis Police Department officers were fired yesterday and public demonstrations ensued following the release of a video that appeared to capture an officer keeping his knee on the neck of a handcuffed African-American man who later died. Activists and the family of the deceased man, identified as George Floyd, have say the lethal use of police use was racially motivated. The Minneapolis Police Department says the four fired officers were responding a report of someone trying to pass a counterfeit bill at a grocery store and found a man matching the suspect’s description on the hood of his car. The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have joined the investigation of the fatal encounter.

‘… FX announced yesterday that it is renewing the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for a 15th season. The series stars creators Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton, along with Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito, and centers on the misadventures of a group of friends who run a bar together. The show first debuted in 2005.

DOOBIES POSTPONE 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR… Ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic are forcing the Doobie Brothers to postpone their 50th anniversary tour. The rock band plans to reschedule the tour to 2021. It will reunite Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and John McFee for the first time in nearly 25 years.

… The NHL yesterday announced plans yesterday to reopen team training camps by mid-July and hold a modified Stanley Cup playoffs in two “hub” cities. League officials say 24 of the NHL’s 31 teams will return to the ice for the playoffs. Each of the two conferences will conduct its games in a “hub” city to be selected from among Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver. The top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin series to determine seeding, while the conference’s remaining eight teams will play a best-of-five qualifying round, with the winners joining the top seeds for the playoffs’ first round. Game dates and series formats are yet to be announced and will depend on medical conditions and government regulations. Commissioner Gary Bettman also said the league intends to hold an 82-game season in 2020-21.

The Rundown for May 26, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus case in the U.S. has reached 1,662,302 and the death toll stands at 98,220, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. California Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday released guidelines for reopening houses of worship amid the coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines allow churches and other houses of worship to reopen if they are given approval from county health officials, but must limit attendance to 25 percent of capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. In order to reopen, churches in California must set physical-distancing guidelines, establish new cleaning and disinfection protocols, encourage all to wear face masks and set parameters for singing and group recitations.

AMERICANS REMEMBER FALLEN TROOPS… The ongoing coronavirus pandemic made for an especially somber Memorial Day tribute yesterday to those who died serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The pandemic prompted the cancellation of many events throughout the nation. Ceremonies at some locations were scaled down and broadcast over the internet. President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for initially playing down the threat posed by the coronavirus, participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, laid a wreath of white roses at a veterans memorial near their Delaware home.

TRUMP THREATENS TO MOVE GOP CONVENTION… President Trump yesterday threatened to cancel plans to hold the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, next August unless Governor Roy Cooper guarantees that he’ll lift coronavirus-related restrictions. Vice President Mike Pence said during a television appearance that if North Carolina won’t issue the guarantee, the Republican National Committee will consider moving the convention to Texas, Florida or Georgia. Cooper says officials are working with the Republican National Committee to “review its plans as they make decisions” about how to hold the convention in Charlotte.

VIRGIN ROCKET FAILS IN TEST… A Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket failed a test mission over the Pacific yesterday for undisclosed reasons. The mission was reportedly ended just minutes after a Boeing 747 released the rocket. Virgin engineers vowed a second test will be launched in the near future.

MULTI-STATE MANHUNT FOR SUSPECTED KILLER… A multi-state manhunt is underway for a University of Connecticut student who killed two people and abducted another over the weekend. Police say 23-year-old Peter Manfredonia is suspected of killing a 62-year-old man and seriously injuring another man “with an edged weapon” on Friday morning in Willington, Connecticut. He is also a suspect in the killing of a 23-year-old male acquaintance in Derby, Connecticut, on Sunday. According to Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI, Manfredonia was last seen in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on Sunday.

… Queen lead guitarist Brian May has announced that he is recovering from a “small” heart attack and had three stents put in to relieve his congested arteries. The 72-year-old says he decided against undergoing triple bypass surgery. The guitarist also said his heart issues were discovered while he was being treated for an injury he suffered while gardening.

MARY-KATE OLSEN OFFICIALLY FILES FOR DIVORCE… Former child actress Mary-Kate Olsen has officially filed for divorce from Olivier Sarkozy in New York after the state lifted its moratorium on nonessential and nonemergency court filings. The 33-year-old Olsen first tried to file for divorce on April 17, but was informed New York courts were not accepting divorce filings. Earlier this month, she was denied in her request for an emergency order to petition for divorce. The couple married in November 2015 after dating for three years.

… 11-time NBA All-Star and current Georgetown University men’s basketball coach Patrick Ewing is reportedly recovering at home after a weekend in the hospital for coronavirus treatment. News that Ewing had tested positive broke Friday. Ewing has been Georgetown’s head coach since 2017 after spending 15 years as an assistant coach for four NBA franchises.

The Rundown for May 22, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,576,886 and the death toll stands at 94,688, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A report released by disease modelers at Columbia University claimed about 703,975 cases and 35,927 deaths nationwide could have been avoided if preventative measures in place on March 15 had been enacted a week earlier. Columbia researchers also concluded that enacting preventative measures two weeks earlier would have prevented about 960,937 cases and 53,990 deaths.

U.S. WITHDRAWING FROM OPEN SKIES TREATY… President Trump announced yesterday that his administration is withdrawing the U.S. from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries. The treaty was designed to help prevent against an accidental war with Russia. NATO allies and leaders of other countries friendly to the U.S. had urged Washington to remain attached. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith warned that the decision “weakens our national security interests” and “abandons a useful tool to hold Russia accountable.”

RATCLIFFE CONFIRMED AS INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR… The Senate voted along party lines yesterday to confirm Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe as the new national intelligence director. Ratcliffe will replace acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. He told the Senate intelligence committee during his confirmation hearing earlier this month that he would make China and the origins of the novel coronavirus his primary focus. Democrats maintained he lacked qualifications and experience for the job.

UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS SWELL… The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has swelled to nearly 39 million, the Labor Department announced yesterday. The total includes more than 2.4 million people who filed for unemployment last week. Last weekend, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell projected that U.S. unemployment could peak in May or June at 20 to 25 percent.

AGRICULTURE PRODUCERS GET HELP… The Department of Agriculture announced policy changes yesterday that will provide up to $1 billion in guaranteed loans to rural businesses and farmers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans can now receive funding under the Business & Industry provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The USDA will also provide 90 percent guarantees on B&I CARES Act Program loans, set the application guarantee at 2 percent of the loan, accept appraisals completed within two years of the loan application date, not require discounting of collateral for working capital loans and extend the maximum term for working capital loans to 10 years. The loans can only be used by rural businesses, including farmers, that were operating as of Feb. 15.

… Federal prosecutors in Boston announced yesterday that actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion-designer husband Mossimo Giannulli will plead guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with the college admissions cheating scandal. The two are accused of conspiring to fraudulently secure admission for their daughters to the University of Southern California and are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case. The 55-year-old Loughlin is best known for her role in the TV sitcom “Full House.” As part of a plea agreement, she will serve a two-month jail sentence, pay a $150,000 fine and perform two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Her 56-year-old husband agreed to to five months in prison, a $250,000 fine, two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.

ESAI MORALES JOINS ‘MISSION’ CAST… Esai Morales has replaced Nicholas Hoult in cast of the upcoming sequel “Mission: Impossible 7.” Hoult had been cast in a villain role earlier this year but backed out due to a scheduling conflict created by a delay in production. Tom Cruise reprises his Ethan Hunt character in the newest installment of the franchise. Morales has recently appeared in the TV series “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Titans” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.” He has also made recent appearances on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Ozark.”

… NFL owners could be voting on a radical rule change proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles that would give teams an alternative to the onside kick. Instead of trying to recover an onside kick, teams would have the option of attempting to convert a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line. If they get the 15 yards, they get a first down and keep possession of the ball. If they don’t get the 15 yards, the other team would take over possession from wherever the play ended. The rule would take effect in the 2020 season. It would require the votes of 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners to pass.

The Rundown for April 24, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. is nearing 860,000 and the death toll is approaching 50,000, according to figures released yesterday. President Trump said his administration may extend its national social distancing guidelines until early in the summer or later. The Labor Department reported that another 4.4 million Americans have filed for unemployment, raising the nation’s jobless claims to 30 million.

HOUSE PASSES AID PACKAGE… The House voted 388-5 yesterday to approve a roughly $480 billion coronavirus stimulation package. The measure passed the Senate earlier this week and is headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The package authorizes an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program after its funding ran out last week. Funding also includes $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion to facilitate and expand testing.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LOSES CLEAN WATER ACT CASE… The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the federal government must regulate some groundwater pollutants under the Clean Water Act. Justices decided by a 6-3 vote that the law prevents pollutants from being discharged directly into navigable waters without a permit. The Trump administration cited a loophole in the law’s language in arguing that no permit is needed if a pipe doesn’t directly feed a larger body of water and instead empties into nearby groundwater. The Supreme Court dismissed the reasoning with the loophole.

DEATH TOLL AT LEAST 7 IN SOUTHERN STORMS… At least seven people were killed in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana yesterday after severe weather blew through the South. Storms left more than 150,000 businesses and homes from Texas to Georgia without power. Three of the deaths occurred in the southeast Texas town of Onalaska, where an apparent tornado reportedly injured 20 to 30 people and destroyed 46 homes.

DOW UP SLIGHTLY AFTER VOLATILE DAY OF TRADING… The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up nearly 40 points after a volatile day of trading yesterday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.054 percent and Nasdaq Composite fell 0.0073 percent. The Dow rose as much as 400 points prior to the House vote to approve a new coronavirus stimulus package.

ELTON JOHN POSTPONES REMAINING TOUR DATES… Elton John has announced that he is postponing the remaining North American dates of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 73-year-old singer plans to reschedule the North American shows in 2021. John is scheduled to begin the Australian and New Zealand leg of the tour on November 30.

WHITNEY HOUSTON BIOPIC BEING PLANNED… Music industry executive Clive Davis has teamed up with the estate of late singer Whitney Houston in producing the biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Houston, who died in 2012 at age 48, sold more than 200 million records worldwide during her career. She starred in and recorded original music for the 1992 blockbuster hit “The Bodyguard.”

NFL DRAFT… The Cincinnati Bengals made it official by selecting LSU’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick in the NFL draft. Burrow was one of three quarterbacks taken with the first six picks. The Miami Dolphins selected Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 and Oregon’s Justin Hebert went to the L.A. Chargers with the next selection. Ohio State produced a pair of top three picks, as the Washington Redskins selected defensive end Chase Young at No. 2 and cornerback Jeff Okudah went to the Detroit Lions with the third pick. LSU led the way with five first-round picks. Alabama had four and Ohio State finished with three. Last night’s draft was conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rundown for March 18, 2020

STIMULUS PLANS… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday introduced a $1 trillion stimulus plan in response to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. As part of the plan, roughly $500 billion in total direct cash payments would be made to Americans in two “tranches,” with the goal of getting the first checks of “at least $1,000” out by the end of April, Mnuchin said. The government would also allow companies and individuals to delay their tax payments for 90 days. The White House plan appeared to have the support of Republicans in Congress but Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled a $750 billion Democratic stimulus plan that takes on medical problems and assists workers and small businesses. He also advocated for mobilization of the national guard to assist hard-hit states.

CORONAVIRUS IN ALL 50 STATES… West Virginia became the 50th state to announce confirmed cases of coronavirus yesterday. The confirmation came as the number of deaths in the U.S. reached 108, with more than 3,600 infections. Illinois reported its first death due to the virus yesterday. On Monday, Kentucky, South Carolina, South Dakota, Nevada, Texas and Indiana confirmed their first deaths. Eighteen states have now recorded at least one fatality.

BIDEN SWEEPS DEM PRIMARIES… Former Vice President Joe Biden swept all three Democratic presidential primaries held yesterday. His biggest win came in Florida, where he defeated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in a state that carries 219 pledged delegates. He also won in Illinois and Arizona. Ohio’s primary was scheduled for yesterday but has been postponed until June amid concerns that attendance at polling places would contribute to the coronavirus pandemic. The Ohio Democratic Party filed suit over Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s decision, claiming that power rests only with the Legislature. Biden has now secured 1132 of the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the nomination. Sanders trails with 817 delegates.

FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN DUNCAN HUNTER SENTENCED… Former Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California was sentenced yesterday to 11 months in prison and three years of parole for corruption charges stemming from his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. Hunter pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds. He will be on supervised release for three years and must participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program.

CHINA EXPELS U.S. JOURNALISTS… China has effectively expelled reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal in retaliation for restrictions placed by the Trump administration on its news outlets in the U.S. Journalists from the three newspapers have been ordered to return media passes within 10 days. The U.S. earlier this month imposed limits on the number of Chinese citizens who could work as journalists in the country.

LYLE WAGGONER DIES… Actor Lyle Waggoner, who rose to fame for his work on television’s “The Carol Burnett Show,” died at his Los Angeles-area home yesterday after a battle with cancer. He was 84. Waggoner’s good looks landed him the first centerfold for Playgirl magazine in 1973. In 1976, he co-starred with Lynda Carter in “Wonder Woman” and moved with the show from ABC to CBS, where it was retitled “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.”

ROLLING STONES POSTPONE TOUR… The Rolling Stones are postponing their 15-city North American tour due to the coronavirus pandemic. The “No Filter Tour” was scheduled to kick off in San Diego on May 8. The Stones’ planned North America tour last year was postponed after Mick Jagger had heart surgery, but the band rescheduled those dates.

(NOTE TO STATIONS: Please share with us your ideas for any particular kind of content we can provide your sports listeners with during the shutdown of live sporting events amid the coronavirus pandemic. We can continue providing simple news briefs as we’re doing now or we could supply sports reports from past years. We could even take the comic route and assemble sports report that are silly. Your call. If you’d want to see a sample of the latter two suggestions, or have something else in mind, just let us know.)

FOUR BROOKLYN NETS PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS… Four Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The team has not identified the other players but revealed that only one of the players was experiencing symptoms. Durant has yet to play this season after suffering a ruptured Achilles injury during last year’s NBA finals.

WORD OF THE DAY… HARROW… (HA–row)… v… To traumatize or disturb; to frighten or torment.
The thought of a teenage son taking out the car for the first time harrows a parent.

BOND, COMMON BOND… What do these 3 things have in common: INDEPENDENCE HALL–EAGLES—LIBERTY BELL?… (Things in Philadelphia)


USELESS TRIVIA… What is Paul McCartney’s real first name?… (James… Paul is his middle name)

PHOBIA DU JOUR… Consecotaleophobia … Fear of chopsticks