Who is Mark Esper, Trump’s new acting secretary of defense pick?

Army Secretary Mark Esper was named the new acting secretary of defense by President Trump on Tuesday after Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination. Esper, 56, has acted as the 23rd Secretary of the United States Army since Nov. 17, 2017. His duties included the recruitment, organization, training, equipping and care of 1.4 million active duty, National Guard, Reserve Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians and their families, according to his Pentagon biography. Before becoming Army secretary, he held executive positions at Raytheon, defense contractor. He was most recently the vice president for government relations. Esper graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1986 — the same year as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He received his commission in the infantry and completed Ranger and Pathfinder training. Following his service on active duty, he served in both the Virginia and District of Columbia National Guard and Army Reserve. He retired in 2007. His experience extends to Capitol Hill, where he has held several posts. He previously served Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as a national security advisor and Senator Chuck Hagel as his legislative director and senior policy advisor. He was also responsible for national security issues as a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Government Affairs committees. At the Pentagon, he served on the Army staff as a war planner before becoming the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Negotiations Policy) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His military awards and honors include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal and Kuwait Liberation Medal — Saudi Arabia and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He also received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Dr. Esper also has a Masters from Harvard and a PhD from George Washington Univ.  He left the military as a Lieutenant Colonel (O-5).  Sounds like a very qualified nominee.  We wish Dr. Esper good luck in this new appointment!    🙂

Fox News beats CNN, MSNBC combined in ratings, tops all of cable

Fox News Channel attracted more prime-time viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined last week, adding to its streak as the most-watched basic cable network. Fox News averaged 2.3 million viewers during the hours of 8-11 p.m. ET from June 10-16, while MSNBC finished second with an average of 1.5 million. HGTV, A&E and USA joined them among the top five, while CNN averaged just 744,000 to finish 14th. Discovery, TNT, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, TBS, Hallmark and the History Channel also finished with more prime-time viewers than the struggling CNN. FNC also took the crown among total day viewers, averaging 1.2 million, while no other basic cable networks cracked the million-viewer mark. MSNBC came in second, averaging 850,000; CNN attracted 519,000 total day viewers. Fox News has now finished first in the total day category for 23 straight weeks. Fox News averaged 315,000 prime-time viewers among the key demographic of adults ages 25-54, compared to 192,000 for MSNBC and 173,000 for CNN. While MSNBC topped liberal rival CNN, the home of Rachel Maddow still finished with its lowest-rated week of 2019 in both total day and prime-time viewership in the key demo. In addition, “Fox & Friends” beat liberal morning shows “Morning Joe” and “New Day” combined in the demo. “Hannity” had the most-watched telecast in all of cable on June 10 with an average of 3.2 million viewers. “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “The Ingraham Angle,” “The Five” and “Special Report with Bret Baier” were among the 19 Fox News programs that finished among the Top 25 telecasts for the week. Fox News’ town hall event with 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro averaged 1.1 million viewers at 6:30 p.m. ET, while CNN’s Castro town hall averaged just 654,000 viewers when it aired in prime time back on April 11.

And honestly..  Who still watches CNN?  lol   All data is courtesy of Nielsen Media Research

South Korea to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea

South Korea says it plans to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea through the World Food Program, in its second aid package announced over the past month as it seeks to help with North Korean food shortages and improve bilateral relations. South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said Wednesday that Seoul will work with the U.N. agency to ensure that the food reaches North Korean people without delay. Kim said South Korea will decide whether to provide more food aid after reviewing the outcome of the current assistance.

Saint Louis Zoo named best zoo in the country, again

The Saint Louis Zoo has been named the best zoo in the country for the second year in a row. Not that there was ever any doubt in our minds. Saint Louis was voted No. 1 in the USA Today best zoo category in the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest. The Saint Louis Zoo was one of 20 nominated U.S. zoos, which were hand-picked by a panel of zoo and family travel experts. “We’re humbled to be chosen again as the best zoo by our dedicated fans in the St. Louis region, across Missouri and friends around the country,” Jeffrey Bonner, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, said in a statement. “Our visitors, volunteers, members, generous donors, employees, and especially the taxpayers of St. Louis City and St. Louis County are the real champions. It’s through their strong support that we can provide superior care for the animals, save wildlife in wild places, connect people with nature, and offer a great place to spend time with friends and family members.” Visitors to the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards website were asked to vote for their favorites between April 2 and April 30. Behind the Saint Louis Zoo was Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and rounding out the top five are, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo. In addition to winning in the best zoo category, the Saint Louis Zoo’s Sea Lion Sound exhibit also was named the best zoo exhibit in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest.

Nice!!  Growing up in St. Louis, I used to go to the St. Louis Zoo ALL the time.  And, sure I’m biased..  BUT..  Having been to the zoo in San Diego, and the National Zoo in D.C, both of which are outstanding, I can still see how the St. Louis Zoo won.  Congrats to Jeffrey Bonner and his team at the St. Louis Zoo.  Another great win for St. Louis!  Excellent!!    🙂

Dream come true for St. Louis — Blues reign as Stanley Cup champions

The scene was surreal, almost beyond comprehension. Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo hoisted the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Boston. It happened. It really happened. The star-crossed franchise won the Cup. That this thrilling title run came when it was least expected — after the Blues sank to the NHL cellar midway into this season — was so appropriate. The Blues did not win it all with Brett Hull and Adam Oates working their magic. They did not win it after hiring Mike Keenan and trading for Wayne Gretzky. They did not win the Cup after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger dominating the blue line. They did not win with Ken Hitchcock cracking his whip on his hard-hitting, veteran-driven team. They won when their interim coach rallied the troops and their No. 4 goaltender became a local sports legend. They won on the road 4-1 in Game 7 against an excellent Bruins team in Boston. Perfect! This unlikeliest of runs triggered so many memories. I came to the Post-Dispatch in 1986, just missing the “Monday Night Miracle” season and catching the tail end of the ever-colorful Harry Ornest Era. I quickly learned this franchise had really bad luck but incredible heart. I learned that from Barclay Plager, who was battling on as an assistant coach while fighting brain tumors. In layman’s terms, doctors inserted wires into his tumors and fried them. The tumors kept coming back and the doctors kept frying them. This took a heavy toll on his body but not his spirit. When he was able, Barclay assisted new Blues coach Jacques Martin, who came from junior hockey, and assistant coach Doug MacLean, who came from the Canadian university scene. Barclay pushed and pushed and pushed forward until his stamina finally gave out. He took a scary fall at the Buffalo airport while he was still traveling with the team. He refused to concede to his illness. Even by hockey player standards, that was insane, I sat with Bob Plager at the Affton Ice Rink during Barclay’s final days, discussing their life story, their early runs at the Cup, their pride in wearing the Blue Note and the old-school values they passed on to the next generation. For these men, playing for the Blues and their fans was a privilege. That’s their legacy and Bob remained around the organization to remind us of that. So many heart-and-soul players followed the Plagers, guys like Bernie Federko, Brian Sutter, Kelly Chase, David Backes and Barret Jackman. So much happened to this franchise before my time, such as Bob Gassoff’s fatal motorcycle accident, the near-move to Saskatoon and the franchise shutting down when the NHL blocked that sale. So many things happened during my time, such as losing broadcaster Dan Kelly to cancer and losing nice guy Doug Wickenheiser to his prolonged cancer battle. Two No. 38s who played here, Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev, died in a Russian plane crash. More recently there was Todd Ewen’s suicide, a tragic reminder of the high price hockey’s tough guys paid for the barbaric (Chuck) Norris Division days. There was the craziness of Mike Shahanan and Jack Quinn taking on the league as outlaw operators. There was Quinn and Keenan taking the insanity to the next level. There was Bill and Nancy Laurie throwing crazy money at the Blues while also trying to land a NBA team. There were the various work stoppages, a strike and lockouts, half-seasons and a lost season. There was the Laurie Fire Sale (Pronger for Eric Brewer!) and more questions about the franchise’s future. There was the phone call that came out of the blue. Broadcaster John Davidson tracked me down on the road in rural Ohio during my eldest daughter’s visit to a prospective college. Could the NHL still succeed in St. Louis? Davidson played for the Blues back in the day and felt the love of the fans, but he wanted a market update. He was calling around to get opinions on the state of the team. He heard the same things again and again: The Blues have an unfailingly loyal fan base. It wasn’t huge, but it was resilient. Make an effort and those Bluesiers will turn out to back the team. Dave Checketts and Co. banked on that support and saved the franchise. Davidson left his successful broadcasting career for the bigger challenge of rebuilding the Blues and rewarding fans for their patience. Davidson started the Blues down the road to overdue glory. Tom Stillman’s ownership group took over and finished the job. And so here we are. St. Louis is going crazy. This long-overdue party will carry well into Thursday which will be a low-productivity day in this region. There will be a parade, too, and more partying. Some folks who hung high above the goal in the cheap seats at The Arena will be there. So will fans who lined up before dawn to gain admission into Brentwood Ice Rink for training camp. Sadly, so many great Bluesiers have passed on, superfans like my friend John Mohan. He lived for Blues hockey to the moment he died. This Cup is for all of John Mohans who kept the franchise going through the lean years. This Cup is for all those diehards who never quit believing that this day could come. It did. Believe it or not, it did. Party on St. Louis, party on.

What a game!  What a series!  As someone originally from St. Louis, boy I wish I was back home.  On a personal note to that story above..  John Mohan was the older brother of my older brother’s friend.  St. Louis is a big city, with a small-town feel.  Thanks to local St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports write Jeff Gordon for giving us that feel.  For videos and such from the local media regarding this historic victory for the Blues, and it’s loyal fans, click on the text above.  GO BLUES!!!     🙂

Stanley Cup Game 7 Ratings Slapshot For NBC & NHL As St. Louis Blues Win 1st Trophy

The 2019 Stanley Cup Final went right to down the Zamboni, but last night’s Game 7 of the NHL series belonged to the St. Louis Blues. Scoring a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in Beantown, the Missouri team won the first Stanley Cup in their 52-year old franchise history. For some, this year was a long-overdue rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup. For others, like the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, the adrenaline of victory was clearly surging – as were the ratings. In a series that has seen a number of double-digit upticks over previous years and more than a few records for NBC and the NHL, Wednesday’s Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final snared a 6.2/12 in metered markets. No surprise that’s the best any game has done this year in the early metrics and up 33% from Game 6 on June 9. Up 8% over the last time the Stanley Cup went to a Game 7, the 2019 Game 7 is also the best overnight result for any NHL game going back to 1994.

That’s 25 years folks!  For more, click on the text above.  GO BLUES!!!!!   🙂

Poland agrees to house 1,000 U.S. troops on its soil amid Russian mischief

President Trump on Wednesday said Poland has agreed to base about 1,000 U.S. troops on its soil, further solidifying the American-Polish relationship in the face of Russian mischief in Eastern Europe. Polish President Andrzej Duda said the final number of U.S. troops in his country will be decided by Mr. Trump, who earlier suggested up to 2,000. American taxpayers will not pay a dime for the infrastructure needed to house and support the soldiers, Mr. Trump said. “The Polish government will pay for this,” he said in a joint press conference with Mr. Duda in the White House Rose Garden. Mr. Trump suggested that the troops would be transferred from foreign bases such as those in Germany rather than from the U.S. The president said he was not trying to punish Germany, though he chided its leaders for purchasing natural gas from Poland’s neighbor, Russia. “I just will tell you, very strongly, I think Germany is making a tremendous mistake by relying so heavily on the pipeline,” Mr. Trump said. The troop transfer follows similar actions to beef up NATO defenses against Russia, which has alarmed the West with its forays into Ukraine and saber-rattling in Eastern Europe. “Increasing U.S. forces in Poland is a strong deterrent against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe,” said Sen. John Boozman, Arkansas Republican. Despite frictions, Mr. Trump said he is hopeful that Poland and the U.S. can develop a fruitful relationship with Russia. Mr. Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting this month in Osaka, Japan.

For more, click on the text above.