News Round-Up: April 7, 2020

Mike Yerxa (image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Who else is baking during this coronavirus thing? Toronto hottie Mike Yerxa (above – serious beard goals!!!) shows his pride in his newly-baked banana bread.

The Hill: Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, whose net worth is estimated at $3.3 billion, announced Tuesday that he will donate $1 billion to the newly-founded Start Small Foundation to support “global COVID-19 relief” efforts. Dorsey ranks 168 on the Forbes 400 list, so there are 167 American billionaires with more money than him. Will they pony-up as well?

MSNBC: Donald Trump thinks mail-in voting is “horrible,” but he voted by mail in Florida’s election last month. “Because I’m allowed to.” In 2016, there were nearly 33 million absentee votes counted, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. More than 600,000 military and other overseas voters cast ballots in 2016.

Washington Blade: At a press conference last Friday, Donald Trump was asked about the FDA easing its outdated blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men from a 12-month wait to 3-months. The Donald, who frames himself as ‘good for the gays’ admitted he didn’t know anything or have anything to do with the new guidelines.

Variety: Netflix is releasing an extra episode of the hit docu-series Tiger King next week, according to zoo owner Jeff Lowe from the show. “Netflix is adding one more episode,” said Lowe in a video posted on Twitter by Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “It will be on next week. They’re filming here tomorrow.” #ItsNotOver

NewNowNext: Lady Gaga and advocacy group Global Citizen teamed up to raise $35 million in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and will celebrate with a talent-filled TV special honoring health care workers on April 18, starting at 8pm EST. In the United States, it will be shown simultaneously on CBS, NBC, and ABC. The special will include appearances by Elton John, Lizzo, John Legend, Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, David Beckham, Alanis Morissette, Andrea Bocelli, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Maluma, Idris Elba, and more.

Talking Points Memo: Clad in gloves, a mask and full-length gown, Wisconsin Speaker Robin Vos (R) assured voters that it is “incredibly safe to go out” on Election Day despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Vos and his fellow Republicans were behind the push to keep Wisconsin’s elections as scheduled, in part, because there’s a state Supreme Court seat on the ballot and conservatives do better when fewer folks show up. Vos looks silly telling people “incredibly safe” wearing all his hospital gear…

Former Trump Campaign Chairman Notes Include Cryptic “Donations” During Russian Meeting At Trump Tower

Paul Manafort

NBC News reports that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort made notes about “donations” and the Republican National Committee during the now infamous June 2016 meeting with a Russian government attorney at Trump Tower.

Paul Manafort’s notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included the word “donations,” near a reference to the Republican National Committee, two sources briefed on the evidence told NBC News.

The references, which have not been previously disclosed, elevated the significance of the June 2016 meeting for congressional investigators, who are focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.

It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections. The meeting happened just as Trump had secured the Republican nomination for president, and he was considered a longshot to win. Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time.

Manafort’s notes, typed on a smart phone and described by one briefed source as cryptic, were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They contained the words “donations,” and “RNC” in close proximity, the sources said.

Previous statements from Don Jr. mentioned Manafort was “on his phone” as if he wasn’t interested.

“On his phone taking notes” now makes it seem like the meeting was more important than initially characterized.

Caterpillar says no more funds for Boy Scouts while discriminating against adult gay leaders

Caterpillar Inc. has announced it will no longer be donating to the Boy Scouts of America due to the continued ban on adult gay Scout leaders, ABC News reports:

Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel Potts says Thursday that the Caterpillar Foundation made the decision while reviewing the groups it supports.

“We have inclusive policies here at Caterpillar Inc., and the foundation abides by those,” she said. “We just don’t feel that our two organizations align.”

“However,” she added, “if there’s a change in the Boy Scouts’ policies, we would certainly consider a change in the future grants — if there was a change that aligned with what our non-discrimination policies are.”