Elephants For Eagles, Puppies For Patriots: Animals Predict Super Bowl LII

All eyes will be on the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday as the teams face off in Super Bowl LII. Who will win the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy this year, the perennial favorite or the underdog? You can spend hours analyzing statistics, or you could trust the intuition of animals that don’t understand football. As a reference, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had the Patriots as 4-point favorites on Friday.

This might not be the most scientific approach, but it’s undoubtedly the most adorable. Here are the results:

Bubbles, the elephant: Eagles

Robert Johnson/Myrtle Beach SafariYouTube

At the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, Bubbles, a 9,000-pound African elephant, flipped over the Eagles helmet with her trunk and devoured the apple underneath.

Fiona, the hippo: Eagles

See who Fiona picks to win! Does she go with the @Patriots, the favorite to win, or the @Eagles, one underdog rooting for another? Cincinnatians will get to see Fiona starring in a #SuperBowl commercial this Sunday when it airs during the big game! https://t.co/7wKxwD6x59pic.twitter.com/R9RYMKzyq3

β€” Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) February 1, 2018

Cincinnati Zoo’s celebrity hippopotamus, Fiona, ate her greens out of the Eagles box. Underdogs have to stick together, after all.

Nicholas, the dolphin: Patriots

Nicholas the rescued dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium chose the New England Patriots on Jan. 29, 2018 to win Super Bowl LII.

Courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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Courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium

When given the choice between a Patriots and Eagles football, Nicholas the rescued dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida guided the Patriots football toward the “dolphin football judge.” This psychic dolphin is six for seven in sports predictions, including a correct selection last year for the reigning Super Bowl champions Patriots. The Eagles have reason to fear.

Fernando, the sloth: Eagles

How long does it take a sloth to make a #SuperBowl pick? Not long at all, as Fernando showed us at @PhoenixZoo on #12Today! Enjoy his real time selection, set to a sultry slow jam. pic.twitter.com/lIxFqYAB8X

β€” Paul Gerke (@PaulGerke) January 31, 2018

Phoenix Zoo’s sloth, Fernando, made a decisive pick in favor of the Eagles by slowly climbing toward Philadelphia’s container. It’s always a delight watching sloths eat flowers, but this video set to a sultry soundtrack is a true gem.

April, the giraffe: Patriots

Animal Adventure ParkYouTube

The Patriots are going to get its third Super Bowl title in four years, according to April, Animal Adventure Park’s celebrity giraffe. April gained worldwide fame in 2017 when the late stages of her pregnancy and eventual delivery were streamed live on YouTube.

Le Le, the panda: Eagles

This morning, Le Le picked the @Eagles to win #SuperBowl on Sunday. Who will you be rooting for? 🐼❀️🏈 pic.twitter.com/EJVPxXl588

β€” Memphis Zoo (@MemphisZoo) February 1, 2018

Le Le, a giant panda at the Memphis Zoo, declared Philadelphia to be the Super Bowl LII champions by pulling down the Eagles banner first. At just 1-3 in Super Bowl predictions, though, Le Le is more cute than accurate.

Jimmy Fallon’s puppies: Patriots

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonYouTube

In the 2018 installment of this fan-favorite segment, more of Jimmy Fallon’s 11-panel of puppies ate from the Patriots bowl than the Eagles bowl. The real MVP, though, is the puppy that refused to participate at 1:39.

Ahren, the eagle: Eagles

Ahren the eagle, a resident of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, swooped down from a perch and looked briefly at the stuffed bear donning Patriots gear before picking her stuffed counterpart. Of course, this surprised no one. Even Ahren’s handler admitted: “She might be a bit biased.”

Linda Wang is an intern on the National Desk.

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'Personal Grievance' Prompts Oregon Man To Tell Airports Relatives Are Terrorists

A disgruntled Oregon man got his father and brother detained on their way to a family wedding by falsely reporting they were terrorists.

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Gareth Fuller – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Tensions can run high around family weddings, but an Oregon man took his resentment to new heights when he made two phone calls to airports falsely claiming his father and brother were terrorists, according his own admission in a plea deal.

Sonny Donnie Smith’s calls resulted in the temporary detainment and questioning of his father and brother and a missed flight. The reason? Smith was told he was not welcome at a family wedding the Smiths were traveling to, according to the plea agreement filed on Thursday.

The 38-year-old from Clackamas, Ore., made the calls on Sept. 3, 2016 to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Midland International Air and Space Port in Midland, Texas.

Smith waived indictment by a federal grand jury to plead guilty to the charge of anonymous telecommunications harassment.

The calls prompted the FBI to get involved, before investigators realized it was nothing more than a hoax.

“Today’s technology makes some believe they can anonymously create chaos to resolve personal grievances,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon in a statement. He added that the phony calls forced the bureau to expend limited resources “potentially delaying response to other serious incidents and real victims.”

Billy J. Williams, Oregon’s U.S. Attorney, said in a statement, “False reports intended to harass others waste law enforcement time and resources and will be prosecuted accordingly.”

Smith is facing a maximum prison term of two years, a $250,000 fine and a year of supervised release. He is awaiting sentencing on May 10.

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Fed Slaps Unusual Penalty On Wells Fargo Following 'Widespread Consumer Abuses'

The Fed restricted Wells Fargo’s growth and called for the replacement of four board members following a widespread scandal that saw millions of fake accounts opened.

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The Federal Reserve announced Friday that it is restricting Wells Fargo’s growth and demanding the replacement of four board members in response to “widespread consumer abuses and compliance breakdowns” at the bank.

“Until the firm makes sufficient improvements, it will be restricted from growing any larger than its total asset size as of the end of 2017,” the Fed said in a statement.

Wells Fargo says it has $1.9 trillion in assets.

The move to snuff its growth comes after the bank admitted in 2016 to creating potentially millions of fake bank accounts at the expense of unsuspecting customers.

NPR’s Chris Arnold has reported a “toxic high-pressure sales culture at the bank” drove workers to dupe consumers all while helping the bank’s bottom line.

The Fed said Friday that Wells Fargo’s business strategy prioritized its own growth at the expense of risk management resulting in compliance breakdowns. It is ordering the bank to “improve its governance and risk management processes, including strengthening the effectiveness of oversight by its board of directors.”

In the meantime, Wells Fargo is permitted to continue accepting customer deposits and make consumer loans, the Fed said.

Wells Fargo said complying with the consent order is its number one priority and has already taken steps get there. It plans to present a plan for improvement to the Fed within two months.

CEO Tim Sloan said in a statement, “Although one part of the consent order restricts our company’s asset growth, we remain financially strong and flexible and are confident we can fully serve your needs.”

But the bank estimated that its total earnings could drop by as much as $400 million this year.

The move represents Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s swan song. Saturday is her last day as head of the Fed when she steps down to make way for Jerome Powell, who takes over on Monday.

“We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank and the consumers harmed by Wells Fargo expect that robust and comprehensive reforms will be put in place to make certain that the abuses do not occur again,” Yellen said in a statement.

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Trump Says Memo's Release 'Totally Vindicates' Him In Russia Probe

President Donald Trump just before departing for his Florida resort Mar-A-Lago Friday. He tweeted Saturday the recently released Nunes memo proves the Russia probe is “an American disgrace.”

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President Trump used Twitter Saturday to champion the release a day earlier of a controversial, previously-classified document that alleges the Justice Department and the FBI abused their surveillance authority. The memo “totally vindicates” him, the president said. He also called the Russia probe “an American disgrace.”

He tweeted: “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”

This memo totally vindicates β€œTrump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!

β€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018

Not long after the president’s tweet, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., fired back with a tweet of his own: “Quite the opposite, Mr. President. The most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo was that FBI investigation began July 2016 with your advisor, Papadopoulos, who was secretly discussing stolen Clinton emails with the Russians.”

Quite the opposite, Mr. President. The most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo was that FBI investigation began July 2016 with your advisor, Papadopoulos, who was secretly discussing stolen Clinton emails with the Russians. https://t.co/2rGOE1jGg2

β€” Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 3, 2018

After anticipation gripped Washington, D.C., throughout the week β€” with fissures between the president, the law enforcement community and Congressβ€” Friday Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee made public a three-and-a-half-page document authored by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., after Trump had declassified the memo and approved its release.

The document contends the FBI and the Justice Department used of a now infamous, unverified Russia dossier compiled by a former British spy to seek a warrant approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court in order to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

Since the memo’s release, some Republicans have expressed sentiments similar to Trump’s and seized on the memo’s assertions raising doubts about the impartiality of the top FBI and Justice Department officials investigating Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and possible connections with Russia.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement Friday that he was “pleased” the American people could view the document “which details abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”

He also went on to praise the “vast majority” of FBI employees, before adding: “The contents of the memo continue to raise serious questions about decisions made by Justice Department and FBI leadership during the 2016 presidential election and afterwards, and the role senior FBI officials played in these questionable decisions and irregularities.”

Fellow Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida tweeted: “Not only did the Memo lay bare a systemic pattern of abuse within the FBI & DOJ, it confirmed my worst fear: America’s free & fair elections were threatened from within. Our own DOJ worked to tip the scales of justice in order to benefit one political candidate. #MemoDay.”

Democrats have raised concerns that the memo’s release is being used to lay the groundwork for the eventual firing of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who oversees the Russia probe on behalf of the DOJ or the eventual end of the Justice Department’s engagement of special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, who is leading the investigation.

A letter sent to the president Friday signed by 10 top congressional Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned that the lawmakers would consider terminations of the top leadership at the Justice Department or the FBI as “an attempt to obstruct justice.”

“We write to inform you that we would consider such an unwarranted action as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation. Firing Rod Rosenstein, DOJ Leadership or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre.”

At White House Friday, before Trump left for a weekend stay at his Mar-A-Lago club in Florida, he was asked if the memo’s release made it more likely he’d fire Rosenstein. He responded: “You figure that one out.”

In an appearance Saturday on Fox News, deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah was asked if Rosenstein was on the hot seat, but attempted to play down those concerns.

“Rod Rosenstein’s job is not on the line. We expect him to continue his job as the deputy attorney general,” Shah said.

Many Democrats and even some Republicans have expressed concern about the release of the controversial, once-secret spying memo and the impact it could have on the Justice Department and intelligence community.

Trump, Nunes and others, claim it shows that the FBI and the Department of Justice have been biased in their investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible connections between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

But others see the memo’s release as a dangerous upheaval of established oversight norms in favor of partisan politics, in an effort to discredit the Mueller investigation.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., had one of the harshest rebukes, saying that the memo’s release did nothing but aid Russian President Vladimir Putin by undermining the legitimacy of American institutions.

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests β€” no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded,” McCain said in a statement Friday. “Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

NPR’s Ryan Lucas reported that Nunes and other Republicans claim the memo shows that “anti-Trump Democrats within federal law enforcement used flimsy evidence that was paid for by ideological fellow travelers to scam a judge into authorizing the surveillance of” former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. That surveillance of Page was based on the infamous, unverified Steele dossier, which was funded in part by Democrats including the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

However, the memo also asserts that it was contacts between Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and Russians β€” and overtures from Russia to the campaign via Papadopoulos β€” that “triggered” the FBI counterintelligence investigation in Russia’s election interference and contacts between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.

Retiring moderate Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said the memo’s release also breached norms about using intelligence for political reasons.

“As I have publicly stated on several occasions, it’s a mistake to release this memo,” Dent wrote on Twitter Friday afternoon. “No Members of Congress-nor their staff-should risk divulging sensitive sources/methods of Intelligence for partisan gain. This sets a dangerous precedent that may have far reaching implications.”

Schiff, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, told NPR’s Ari Shapiro on Friday’s All Things Considered that the decision to release the GOP memo was “not only reckless but misleading.”

“The procedure they used to publish this document has never been used before, and for good reason. The Congress shouldn’t be cherry-picking intelligence and publishing it for political reasons,” Schiff said.

Democrats’ rebuttal memo is still classified after the committee voted along party lines not to release it alongside the GOP memo.

“I think the Republicans know it’s really unsustainable for them to claim they’re doing this in the interest of transparency but refuse to let the country the see response to it,” Schiff said of that decision. Schiff also said that Democrats on the committee plan to try to force a vote on releasing their rebuttal on Monday.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., another member on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN before Friday’s release that, “What this memo does is it seeks to torch every floor of the FBI building to protect the president.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said that the memo’s release was “reckless and demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the truth.”

“This unprecedented public disclosure of classified material during an ongoing criminal investigation is dangerous to our national security,” Warner continued in a statement Friday. “This will make it far more difficult for the Intelligence Committees to conduct meaningful, bipartisan oversight of intelligence activities in the future. This action was also taken without regard to the damage it could do to our ability to protect Americans from threats around the globe.”

Former FBI Director James Comey β€” whose firing last year by Trump contributed to Mueller’s appointment to oversee the FBI investigation β€” tweeted that the memo’s release was underwhelming and not worth the damage it did.

That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.

β€” James Comey (@Comey) February 2, 2018

Christopher Wray, who was picked by Trump to replace Comey as FBI director and who opposed the release of the memo, reminded bureau employees in an internal video released Friday that “in the end, actions speak louder than words.”

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Italian Suspect Accused Of Targeting People Of Color Wounds 6 In Drive-By Shooting

Bullet holes are seen in a glass door as police forensics officers carry out investigations in the area following the wounding of several foreign nationals in a drive-by shooting in Macerata.

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An Italian man, who reportedly ran unsuccessfully as an anti-immigrant candidate in a local election last year, wounded several foreigners in the central city of Macerata during a drive-by shooting on Saturday, according to police.

The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Luca Traini, according to multiple Italian media reports, citing police.

Sky TG24 reports the rampage lasted for at least an hour as the suspect began firing shots from his car before noon targeting people of color throughout the city and wounding six people all from Africa.

#Macerata È italiano il presunto autore della sparatoria fermato dalle Forze dell’Ordine. Uno dei feriti Γ¨ stato sottoposto ad intervento chirurgico pic.twitter.com/xx2AcZwI2w

β€” Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) February 3, 2018

The mayor said the victims were five men and one woman and at least one person was in serious condition.

The shootings sparked widespread fear as police warned people to stay indoors and the mayor issued a curfew.

It only came to an end once the black Alfa Romeo was blocked, at which point the driver got out donning the Italian flag, made a fascist salute and submitted himself to police without resisting arrest, reports the Ansa news agency.

Police say Traini had no previous arrest record.

A Glock handgun sits on the seat of the Alfa Romeo used by a man accused of targeting people of color in a drive-by shooting on Saturday.

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Italian media report Traini made a failed bid last year in administrative elections in the nearby city of Corridonia with the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

The ruling center-left Democratic Party said Traini also fired shots at one of their offices in Macerata on Saturday, reports Reuters.

Matteo Salvini, who heads the Northern League party, tweeted on Saturday, “Violence is never the solution, violence is always to be condemned. And whoever is wrong, must pay.” He went on to say, “Immigration out of control leads to chaos, anger, social conflict. Immigration out of control leads to drug dealing, theft, robbery and violence.”

La violenza non Γ¨ mai la soluzione, la violenza Γ¨ sempre da condannare.
E chi sbaglia, deve pagare.
L’immigrazione fuori controllo porta al caos, alla rabbia, allo scontro sociale.
L’immigrazione fuori controllo porta spaccio di droga, furti, rapine e violenza.#Maceratapic.twitter.com/zWDicTNEp6

β€” Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) February 3, 2018

The drive-by shooting comes during a tense time in Macerata after a Nigerian asylum seeker was accused in the murder of an 18-year-old woman whose dismembered body was found on Wednesday.

Northern League leader Salvini said the center-left government was responsible for her death for letting migrants stay in the country, reports Reuters. He posted to Facebook earlier this week of the Nigerian suspect, “What was this worm still doing in Italy?”

Christopher Livesay has reported for NPR that a recent surge in migrants to Italy has fueled right-wing anger over jobs and other benefits.

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Woman Reported Missing In California Found On 'The Bachelor'

Cast of the 22nd season of ABC’s hit romance reality series “The Bachelor.” Rebecca Martinez known as “Bekah M” on the show is second from left in the back row.

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Intrigue around The Bachelor, ABC’s long-running dating reality show, usually centers around rendered roses and resentful rivals, but one contestant on the current season made headlines this week for different reasons.

Rebekah Martinez, 22, has been seen weekly on television screens since Jan. 1 when the season debuted, and yet had also simultaneously been registered as a missing person in California’s Humboldt County. That is, until astute viewers and the local newspaper helped set the record straight on Thursday.

On Nov. 18, Martinez’s mother called the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to file a missing person’s report, saying she had not heard from her daughter for a week, reports The North Coast Journal.

A sheriff’s spokesperson told the newspaper that Martinez told her mother she was going to Humboldt County to work on a marijuana farm.

After trying to get ahold of Martinez and following up on leads, police asked Martinez’s mother on Dec. 12 whether she had made contact with her daughter, reports People Magazine. The mother, who has not been identified, said that she did in fact hear from her on Nov. 18 after reporting her missing. And yet she was never removed from the missing persons list. Per procedure, police asked for Martinez to contact the investigator directly, the magazine reports. That didn’t happen.

Martinez posted on Instagram on Sept. 17 β€” presumably around the time filming began for the 22nd season of the show β€” that she was giving up her “phone and social media for the next several weeks, so if you need to contact me, welll… tough luck!”

But far from flying under the radar, she resumed activity on social media in November, four days after her mother reported her missing and has continued posting regularly.

Yet on Thursday, Humboldt County’s The North Coast Journal published a cover story featuring Martinez, headlined, “The Humboldt 35” exploring why the county has California’s highest rate of reported missing persons.

After the newspaper posted the article to Facebook, readers pointed out that not only was Martinez not missing, she was a burgeoning reality television star, known as Bekah M., currently among the top 10 contestants whittled down from the original two dozen.

After the Journal contacted the Sheriff’s office with the news, a deputy managed to get in touch with Martinez. The deputy said in an email, according to the newspaper, “I just got off the phone with Rebekah. She is in fact the same person. She has been removed from (the Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit).”

The Humboldt 35 is now down to 33 after at least one other person was surprised to read he was officially missing. He called the newspaper to say he was alive and well and still living in the county with a roommate.

In California, a missing person is simply “someone whose whereabouts is unknown to the reporting party,” as the state’s Office of the Attorney General explains. “There is NO waiting period for reporting a person missing. All California police and sheriffs’ departments must accept any report, including a report by telephone, of a missing person.”

While Martinez has not explained the confusion directly, she did address it lightheartedly on Friday, tweeting, “honestly the scariest thing about this story is that my efforts to conceal The Worst Drivers License Photo Of All Time have been thwarted.”

honestly the scariest thing about this story is that my efforts to conceal The Worst Drivers License Photo Of All Time have been thwarted https://t.co/z0venho66p

β€” bekah martinez β™‘ (@whats_ur_sign_) February 2, 2018

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