American-Israeli man stabbed to death in West Bank

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

American-Israeli man stabbed to death in West Bank

The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was popular in the local community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media.
by Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: West Bank stabbing

Israeli forensic policemen inspect the place where an Israeli man was stabbed by a Palestinian at a settlement bloc next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on Sunday.Ahmad Gharabli / AFP – Getty Images

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed a well-known Israeli settler to death at a busy mall in the West Bank.

The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was popular in the local community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms.

The military said the attacker arrived at the mall near a major junction in the southern West Bank, close to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, and stabbed Fuld before fleeing. Video footage showed Fuld giving chase and firing at his assailant before collapsing. Other civilians shot the attacker, whom Israeli media identified as a 17-year-old from a nearby Palestinian village. His condition was unclear.

David M. Friedman

@USAmbIsrael

America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. Ari Fuld was a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot. He represented the best of both countries & will be deeply missed. May his family be comforted & his memory be blessed.

Fuld, a 40-year-old father of four who lived in the nearby settlement of Efrat, was evacuated to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Fuld was a well-known English-language internet commenter on current affairs and the weekly Torah study. He was known for his nationalist ideology and strong support for the Israeli military.

Lior Shourka, a friend of Fuld’s, called him a “true Israeli patriot.”

Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces killed over 260 Palestinians in that period, of which Israel says most were attackers.

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Mom and 8-month-old found dead during Florence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

North Carolina firefighters pray after mom and 8-month-old found dead during Florence

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Firefighters pray after mom and child found dead during Florence

A group of firefighters was captured spreading a bit of peace during a time of devastation.

Wilmington Fire Department were attempting to rescue a family after a tree fell on their home on Friday. Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 near Wilmington with winds of 90 mph.

Firefighters and rescue crews stopped to kneel and pray after they discovered the mother and her 8-month-old infant were killed by the fallen tree.

Fire officials say the mother, child and father were trapped inside the house for several hours before rescuers could reach them.

The father was transported to a hospital for treatment, according to the Associated Press.

There have been at least five deaths confirmed as a result of Hurricane Florence, which is now a tropical storm.

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Egypt Sentences 75 to Death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt Sentences 75 to Death, Hundreds to Jail Over 2013 Sit-In

Saturday, 8 September, 2018 – 14:30
This picture shows detainees inside the soundproof glass dock of the courtroom during the trial of 700 defendants including Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, in the capital Cairo, on September 8, 2018. Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP
Cairo- Asharq Al-Awsat
An Egyptian court on Saturday issued death sentences for 75 people, including prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and jailed more than 600 others over a 2013 sit-in which ended with the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces.

The sentencing concluded the mass trial of some 700 people accused of offenses including murder and inciting violence during the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest at Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo.

The government says many protesters were armed and that eight members of the security forces were killed.

In Saturday’s hearing at the vast Tora prison complex south of Cairo, a criminal court sentenced to death by hanging several Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Essam al-Erian and Mohamed Beltagi and preacher Safwat Higazi.

Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie and dozens more were given life sentences, judicial sources said. Others received jail sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Furthermore, the court handed a five-year jail sentence to award-winning photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid.

Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, is however expected to walk free soon, his lawyer said.

Shawkan was arrested in August 2013 as he covered deadly clashes in Cairo between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

He was accused of “murder and membership of a terrorist organization” — charges that can carry the death penalty — but has already spent five years in jail.

Shawkan should, therefore, be able to leave prison “within a few days”, his lawyer Karim Abdelrady said as he welcomed the verdict.

While Washington mourns McCain, Trump leaves town

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)

 

WHITE HOUSE

While Washington mourns McCain, Trump leaves town

Supporters at the raucous rally didn’t seem to mind that Trump had been snubbed by the McCain family.

As Washington prepared a last hero’s welcome for Sen. John McCain Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump left town.

The Air Force jet carrying the Republican senator’s casket lifted off for the nation’s capital with 200 Arizona National Guard soldiers and airmen on the tarmac paying silent tribute.

Twenty minutes later, a campaign fundraising email hit inboxes.

“The President has promised you he will travel ANYWHERE he needs to go to get real conservative fighters elected,” Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, wrote. “He’ll spend however much we need to win.”

Trump has embraced his outsider bona fides this week while the capital, Republicans and Democrats alike, comes together to pay tribute to a favorite son. The president wasn’t invited to participate in ceremonies for the Arizona Republican, so Thursday night he headed to a campaign rally and fundraiser in Evansville, Indiana. He didn’t mention McCain.

Supporters at the raucous rally didn’t seem to mind that Trump had been snubbed by the McCain family; thousands were lined up around the Ford Center in Evansville hours before Trump even left Washington, according to media reports.

“This whole idea the world should stop for John McCain’s funeral is just a disconnect between the Republican Party and the president’s priorities — including keeping the House and avoiding impeachment — and the D.C. echo chamber,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who was working for the campaign when the then-candidate took early shots at McCain’s military service.

“It’s not like he did this on Monday,” after McCain died Saturday, Nunberg said. “The world is not going to stop for all eight days that this is going on. It’s ridiculous.”

Republicans close to the White House, however, admit Trump is in a tough spot while Washington mourns McCain. He wasn’t welcome at the remembrances, and his campaign events for Thursday and Friday have been on the books for weeks. Ultimately, whatever Trump does over the next two days, as McCain lies in state at the U.S. Capitol and is buried in Annapolis, Maryland, will come down to how the president feels at the time, they said.

For now, supporters say Trump is being as respectful as the moment requires.

“The flags have been lowered to half-staff, he’s respecting the requests of the family,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. “I don’t think anybody in the base notices or cares.”

Still, the moods in Washington and Trumpland were markedly different Thursday night.

It was twilight when Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met Cindy McCain as she disembarked from Air Force Two. A military honor guard took possession of her husband’s remains. A flag covered his casket.

Minutes later, Trump took the stage at the arena in Evansville, where he dismissed the media as “dishonest” and “terrible” people and invited businessman Mike Braun, the Republican challenging Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly in November, onstage.

“It’s not very classy, quite frankly. Of all times, right now holding a political rally and doing a fundraiser just doesn’t seem appropriate,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. “How classy it would have appeared to have canceled this in light of the national mourning and celebration of the life of John McCain.”

“The president, I think, would do better to have stayed put, doing his job quietly, keeping out of the limelight,” Rozell said. “This is McCain’s family time.”

The 11,000-seat area in Indiana was filled to capacity when Trump launched into familiar attacks on the media, revisited his electoral college victory in 2016 and compared his popularity to President Abraham Lincoln’s.

He railed against the “scum” of immigrant gangs that “infest” American communities and fell back on his favorite foil, 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. “Lock her up!” the crowd chanted.

For Trump’s critics, the night’s events confirmed their distaste for his behavior.

“This is a petty, small, narcissistic man desperate to drag the spotlight back onto him and away from a moment where the memory of John McCain’s service to this country and his example could be something we’re all talking about as a nation,” Republican strategist Rick Wilson said before the rally.

“The people that love Donald Trump hate everyone who isn’t named Donald Trump. They’re going to support him and revel in this,” Wilson said. “His supporters will continue to look at this as the greatest thing ever, and everyone else will look at it with a combination of dismay and disgust.”

Chris Cadelago and Rebecca Morin contributed to this report.

Ex-Texas Police Officer Sentenced To 15 Years For Murder Of Unarmed 15 Yr Old

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Ex-Texas police officer sentenced to 15 years for murder of unarmed black teen Jordan Edwards

PHOTO: Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver, testifies to the jury with defense attorney Jim Lane during the sixth day of his trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Aug. 23, 2018. Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool
Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver, who is charged with the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, testifies to the jury with defense attorney Jim Lane during the sixth day of his trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Aug. 23, 2018.more +

A former Texas police officer on Wednesday was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager — and the victim’s family said the punishment was too light.

Ex-Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver, who is white, also was fined $10,000, a day after a jury convicted him of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

Speaking with reporters at a press conference late Wednesday, the teen’s stepmother, Charmaine Edwards, said she had hoped for a sentence of “25 to 30 [years] or more.”

“We’re thankful for the verdict that we received, although we wanted more years,” she said. “This is a start for us, and we can get some kind of closure. So we’re thankful. He actually can see life again after 15 years. And that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again.”

PHOTO: Jordan Edwards, 15, appears in this screen grab from a WFAA video.WFAA
Jordan Edwards, 15, appears in this screen grab from a WFAA video.

She said Jordan was a bright kid and a football player at Mesquite High School in Balch Springs, about 15 miles southeast of Dallas.

A Dallas County jury deliberated for nearly five hours before recommending the sentence on Wednesday evening, ending a long and emotional trial over the honor student’s death.

Oliver, who joined the force in 2011, will be eligible for parole after seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Daryl Washington, an attorney representing the Edwards family, celebrated the conviction and said he hoped it would bring on a sense of closure.

“The Dallas DA’s office did something that has not been done around this country,” Washington said at the press conference. “They had the courage to take on the bad police officer, and, because of that, that in itself is a victory.

“We believe that little boys and little girls are going to be able to go to teenage parties and feel like if they’re in danger they can go to police officers and not run away from police officers.”

Roy Oliver, Miles BrissetteThe Associated Press
Roy Oliver, Miles Brissette
Michael Snipes, Faith Johnson, Odell Edwards, Charmaine EdwardsThe Associated Press
Michael Snipes, Faith Johnson, Odell Edwards, Charmaine Edwards

He said he’d also hoped for a harsher punishment, but that convictions in such cases are rare and should be celebrated.

Fewer than 90 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter for such shootings since 2005, according to research by The Associated Press. Less than half were convicted or pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

“We know that there are parents all over this country who would love to see the person who took the life of their kid spend the next 15 years in prison,” Washington said. “This is the beginning, and we hope soon that it will be the end to all the violence that we have.”

Oliver allegedly opened fire on a car full of teenagers on the night of April 29, 2017, killing Jordan, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. The officer was fired three days later.

Oliver and his partner were responding to reports of underage drinking at a house party in Balch Springs when they saw the teens pulling off, according to testimony at the trial.

PHOTO: Fifteen-year-old Jordan Edwards was shot and killed April 29, 2017 by former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver in Texas.WFAA
Fifteen-year-old Jordan Edwards was shot and killed April 29, 2017 by former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver in Texas.

Oliver testified that he opened fired because he thought his partner was in danger of being run over and that, before the shooting, he was inside the house and that he believed he heard gunfire outside.

“I had to make a decision,” Oliver told jurors. “This car is about to hit my partner. I had no other option.”

Body-cam and dash-cam footage showed the car was moving away from the officers when Oliver opened fire, disputing his initial claim that it was backing up toward Gross.

The officer’s attorney said he plans to file an appeal, citing multiple errors within the trial.

“This evening we gave notice of appeal. We want to appeal the jury’s verdict at both the guilt, innocence and punishment phase of the trial,” attorney Bob Gill said Wednesday. “We believe that there are some errors made during the trial that are significant errors and need to be explored on appeal.”

ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty Trump Is

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORKER)

 

Donald Trump’s Response to John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty He Is

Donald Trump is a small, petty man. He is a liar and a crook. And his legal problems are mounting. Each one of these statements has been true since January 20, 2017, when Trump became the President of the United States. But the remarkable events of the past week have highlighted and confirmed the essence of this President, and the terms on which he continues to hold office.

On Monday morning, someone in the White House ordered that the U.S. flag atop the building—which had been flying at half-staff to honor the memory of Senator John McCain, who died on Saturday—be raised to its normal position. Who was responsible for this action? President Trump, of course.

Over the weekend, Trump declined to issue a personal statement praising McCain, instead confining himself to a tweet in which he offered condolences to McCain’s family. You might argue that, in doing so, the President was avoiding hypocrisy—the enmity between the two men was long-standing and bitter. After the Helsinki summit, earlier this year, McCain called Trump’s joint press conference with Vladimir Putin “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American President in memory.” If, after all this acrimony, Trump had said something positive about McCain, it would have rung hollow.

But messing with the flag that flies above the White House was different. The flag represents the United States and the office of the Presidency, not Trump personally. After the death of a prominent U.S. politician, such as a former President or prominent senator, it is standard practice for the sitting President to issue a proclamation ordering the flag to be lowered to half-staff until the burial, which, in this case, will be next Sunday. Whatever one thinks of McCain’s political views, his record—five and a half years in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp, thirty-one years in the Senate, and two Presidential bids—surely merited such an honor. As Mark Knoller, of CBS News, noted on Monday morning, Trump failed to order the proclamation. Evidently, there is no limit to his smallness.

The outcry was immediate and broad-based, and, in this instance, Trump backed down. On Monday afternoon, the White House press office released a statement in his name, which said, “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”

Who persuaded Trump to change course? Was there a rebellion in the West Wing? The initial reports about the reversal didn’t say. But it was clear that the last thing the White House needs right now is another public-relations disaster. Although McCain’s death knocked the saga of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea off the front pages, at least temporarily, the past week was a disaster for the White House, and a reminder that Trump’s pettiness is only exceeded by his deceitfulness. Is there anybody in the entire country who now believes anything he says about the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that Cohen helped orchestrate?

In the words of Glenn Kessler, the head of the Washington Post’s fact-checking team, “Trump and his allies have been deliberately dishonest at every turn in their statements regarding payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.” No surprise there, of course. This is a man who used to pose as his own press agent to plant fake stories about himself; who has claimed—on the basis of no evidence whatsoever—to have seen Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after the 9/11 attacks; and who has routinely exaggerated his wealth by a factor of ten or more.

For habitual liars, telling untruths is “partly practice and partly habit,” William Hazlitt once wrote. “It requires an effort in them to speak truth.” Trump seldom makes the exertion. From the start of Trump’s Presidency to the beginning of this month, Kessler’s team had “documented 4,229 false or misleading claims from the president—an average of nearly 7.6 a day.”

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Most of these falsehoods Trump has got away with, but he may not get away with his denials and dodges regarding the Daniels and McDougal payments. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—having secured the coöperation of Cohen and the reported coöperation of David Pecker, who is the head of the company that owns the National Enquirer, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization—already seems to have strong evidence that Trump was part of a conspiracy to evade campaign-finance laws. Last week, Cohen told a federal court that, in helping arrange the payoffs to Daniels and McDougal, he acted “at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Pecker “told federal prosecutors that Mr. Trump had knowledge of Mr. Cohen’s payments to women.”

Some of Trump’s defenders are complaining that the Feds, having failed to nail the President on the charge of conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election, are now “trying to Al Capone the President”—that is, get him on a technicality. Others in the Trump camp are falling back on the legal argument that a sitting President can’t be indicted, or that Hillary Clinton’s campaign also violated campaign laws. But, apart from Trump himself, virtually nobody seems to be claiming that he didn’t direct the payoffs.

It would be an irony, of course, if it were the Stormy Daniels story, rather than the Russia probe, that brought Trump to book. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising, though. Sometime, somewhere, Trump’s crooked past was going to catch up with him.

Here’s a quick reminder of the rap sheet. Turning a blind eye to money laundering at his New Jersey casinos. Operating a bogus university that bilked middle-income seniors out of their retirement savings. Stiffing his suppliers as a matter of course. Selling condos to Russians and other rich foreigners who may well have been looking to launder hot money. Entering franchising deals with Eastern European oligarchs and other shady characters. For decades, Trump has run roughshod over laws and regulations.

To protect himself from whistle-blowers, financial cops, and plaintiffs, Trump relied on nondisclosure agreements, lax enforcement, and his reputation for uncompromising litigiousness. But since May, 2017, when he fired James Comey and opened the door to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, things have been slowly unraveling for the President. (Indeed, Mueller’s team tipped off the Southern District about Cohen’s alleged misdeeds.) Last week, the unwinding process seemed to speed up.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Trump is finished. Whatever happens on the investigative front, it is hard to believe that his own Justice Department will approve an indictment of him while he remains in office. And, as long as the vast majority of G.O.P. voters continue to support him, the Party’s leaders on Capitol Hill, whose continued support he needs, are very unlikely to turn on him.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was taken after the news about Cohen’s plea and the conviction of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, shows that Trump’s approval rating has barely budged. So does the weekly Gallup poll, which was updated on Monday. In both surveys, Trump’s rating is in the low forties, where it has been for months. “We’ve had this enormous series of events, and these numbers don’t change very much,” Bill McInturff, one of the pollsters who carried out the NBC/Wall Street Journalpoll, told the Journal. And so we go on.

SENATOR JOHN McCAIN HAS DIED: HE WAS 81

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Whenever America was in a fight during his long lifetime, John McCain was in the thick of it.

McCain, who has died at the age of 81, was a naval bomber pilot, prisoner of war, conservative maverick, giant of the Senate, twice-defeated presidential candidate and an abrasive American hero with a twinkle in his eye.
The Arizonan warrior politician, who survived plane crashes, several bouts of skin cancer and brushes with political oblivion, often seemed to be perpetually waging a race against time and his own mortality while striving to ensure that his five-and-a-half years as a Vietnam prisoner of war did not stand as the defining experience of his life.
He spent his last few months out of the public eye in his adopted home state of Arizona, reflecting on the meaning of his life and accepting visits from a stream of friends and old political combatants.
In a memoir published in May, McCain wrote that he hated to leave the world, but had no complaints.
“It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace,” McCain wrote. “I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I’ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation.
“I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”
McCain had not been in Washington since December, leaving a vacuum in the corridors of the Senate and the television news studios he roamed for decades.
In recent months, he was not completely quiet, however, blasting President Donald Trump in a series of tweets and statements that showed that while he was ailing he had lost none of his appetite for the political fight.
The Arizona Senator repeatedly made clear that he saw Trump and his America First ideology as a departure from the values and traditions of global leadership that he saw epitomized in the United States.
CNN reported in May, that the McCains did not want Trump at his funeral. Former rivals and Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had been asked to give eulogies, people close to both former presidents and a source close to the senator confirmed to CNN.
McCain’s two losing presidential campaigns meant he fell short of the ultimate political prize, one his story once seemed to promise after he came home from Vietnam and caught the political bug. In the end, he became a scourge of presidents rather than President himself.
At the time of his death, he was largely an anomaly in his own party — as one of the few Republicans willing to criticize Trump and a believer in the idealized “shining city on a hill” brand of conservatism exemplified by his hero Ronald Reagan that has been dislodged by the nativist and polarizing instincts of the current President. He was also a throwback to an earlier era when political leaders, without betraying their own ideology, were willing on occasion to cross partisan lines.
In a Washington career that spanned 40 years, first as a Navy Senate liaison, then as a member of the House and finally as the occupant of the Senate seat he took over from Barry Goldwater, McCain was a conservative and a foreign policy hawk. But he was not always a reliable Republican vote, and sometimes in a career that stretched into a sixth Senate term, he confounded party leaders with his maverick stands. He defied party orthodoxy to embrace campaign finance reform, and excoriated President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, for not taking enough troops to Iraq.
After Obama ended McCain’s second White House race in 2008, the senator blasted the new President’s troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, causing critics to carp that he had not yet reconciled the bitterness he felt in defeat. McCain had supported the invasion of Iraq carried out by the Bush administration in 2003, but admitted in his memoir “The Restless Wave” that the rationale, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was wrong.
“The war, with its cost in lives and treasure and security, can’t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I have to accept my share of the blame for it,” he wrote.
More recently, as death approached, he became a strident critic of Trump, who had once said he didn’t consider the Arizona senator a war hero because he had been captured.
McCain questioned why Trump was solicitous of Vladimir Putin, whom he regarded as an unreformed KGB apparatchik.
In one of his final public acts, he blasted Trump’s cozy summit with the Russian President in July, blasting it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake,” he said in a statement.
In July 2017, McCain returned from brain surgery to the Senate floor to lambaste “bombastic loudmouths” on the television, radio and internet and plead for a return to a more civilized political age, when compromise and regular order forged bipartisan solutions.
Then, in September, in a poignant speech that seemed designed to echo down the ages after he was gone, McCain reminded his colleagues they were a check on executive power: “We are not the President’s subordinates,” he said. “We are his equals.”
In a final act of defiant independence, McCain, with a dramatic thumbs-down gesture on the Senate floor in September, cast the vote that scuttled the GOP’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, causing fury within his party — a move that prompted Trump, to the fury of McCain’s family to repeatedly single him out in campaign rallies.
When the President signed McCain’s last legislative triumph in August, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, he did not even mention the Arizona senator.

‘I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s’

John Sidney McCain III, the son and grandson of Navy admirals, entered the world on August 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone, a birthplace that years later would cause a brief campaign kerfuffle over whether he was a natural born citizen and thus eligible to be elected president.
His habit of insubordination despite his military pedigree emerged at the Naval Academy, where he graduated fifth from the bottom of his class.
“My superiors didn’t hold me in very high esteem in those days. Their disapproval was measured in the hundreds of miles of extra duty I marched in my time here,” McCain told graduates at Annapolis in October of last year.
By 1967, McCain was in the Pacific and escaped death in a massive fire aboard the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier. Months later, he was shot down in his Skyhawk jet over North Vietnam and parachuted into a lake near Hanoi, breaking both arms and a leg, and was captured by communist soldiers. In captivity, McCain was tortured and beaten, an experience that left him with lifelong injuries, including severely restricted movement of his arms. He kept himself sane by tapping on a wall to communicate with a fellow prisoner in a neighboring cell. Later, he refused the offer of a preferential release, made because his father was an admiral, until his comrades could also come home, eventually returning in 1973 to a nation politically torn by the war.
His period in captivity set the course of his life.
“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s,” McCain said in his 2008 Republican National Convention speech.
“I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s.”
After turning to politics, McCain served in the House from 1983, won an Arizona US Senate seat in 1986 and established himself as a down-the-line conservative in the age of Ronald Reagan. But his political career almost fizzled before it began when he was among the Keating Five group of senators accused of interfering with regulators in a campaign finance case. He was cleared of wrongdoing, but the Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded him for poor judgment, an experience that led to him becoming a pioneer of campaign finance reform.
He didn’t forget his time in Vietnam.
In an act of reconciliation, McCain joined Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, a fellow decorated Vietnam War veteran, to help end the US trade embargo on its former southeast Asian enemy in a process that led to the eventual reopening of diplomatic relations.
By 2000, McCain set his sights on the White House and ran as a maverick Republican, holding court for hours in candid back-and-forth sessions with reporters on his campaign bus, dubbed the “Straight Talk Express.” In years to come, he would joke that his adoring press pack was his “base.”
After skipping Iowa over his long opposition to ethanol subsidies, McCain forged a victory over establishment favorite and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in New Hampshire after a string of town hall meetings with voters.
But his effort hit a brick wall in South Carolina, where the campaign turned negative and McCain’s independent streak hurt him in a state with more core conservatives and fewer independents. Bush got back on track with a primary win that set him on the road to the nomination.

The maverick of the Senate

Back in the Senate, McCain heard the call of war again, as American foreign policy was transformed after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, and he became a forceful proponent of the US use of force overseas. He backed US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. When Americans tired of war, McCain warned that more troops were needed, demanding a surge in forces that Bush later adopted.
When it appeared that his hawkish views were at odds with the electorate and could damage his nascent 2008 presidential bid, McCain answered: “I would rather lose a campaign than a war.”
But, influenced by his experience of torture in Vietnam, McCain was a forceful critic of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA on terror suspects, believing they were contrary to American values and damaged the US image abroad.
It was a typical example of the Arizona senator adopting a position that appeared antithetical to his political interests or ran counter to the perceived wisdom of his party.
After the Keating Five scandal, he joined a crusade with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to introduce new restrictions on “soft” and corporate money in political campaigns.
Later, McCain teamed up with his great friend, late Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy on a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The measure failed, however, over building grassroots antipathy to such a move in the GOP, which would later play a major role in the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
McCain set his sights on the White House again during Bush’s second term. By 2007, his campaign was all but broke. But he fired up the Straight Talk Express again and pulled off another famous comeback, barnstorming to victory once more in the New Hampshire primary.
This time, he also won South Carolina, and beat a fading Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in Florida before effectively clinching the nomination with a clutch of wins on Super Tuesday.
That November, McCain came up against the historic appeal of a much younger and more eloquent rival, Obama. Mocking the Illinois senator in ads as “the biggest celebrity in the world,” McCain questioned whether his popular foe was ready to lead.
Seeking to rebrand himself in a change election, McCain stunned the political world by picking little-known Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Alaska governor delivered a spellbinding convention speech, and for several weeks it seemed as if McCain’s gamble worked.
But a series of gaffes turned Palin into a figure of ridicule and undercut McCain’s contention that his ticket, and not Obama’s, was best qualified to lead in a dangerous world. McCain, however, would not say that he regretted picking Palin.
But in his new memoir, “The Restless Wave,” and in a separate documentary, McCain said he wished he had ignored the advice of his advisers and listened to his gut and chosen Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a Democrat-turned-independent, calling it “another mistake that I made.”
But McCain also rose above the ugliness of the campaign. On one occasion, he cut off a supporter at a town hall event who said she could not trust Obama because she thought he was an Arab, amid conspiracy theories suggesting that the Democrat had not been not born in America.
“No ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen, who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about,” McCain said.
He dealt with his defeat by throwing himself back into life in the Senate. In later years he described how it felt to lose, telling anyone who asked, “After I lost … I slept like a baby — sleep two hours, wake up and cry.”
But his relationship with Obama was tense, with the President snubbing his former foe in a health care summit in 2010 by telling him “the election’s over.”
The Arizona senator emerged as a fierce critic of Obama’s worldview, prompting Democrats to complain that McCain was the embodiment of a Republican reflex to respond to every global problem with military force, which had led America into misadventures like the war in Iraq.
McCain’s robust foreign policy views were reflected on the walls of his Senate conference room, which featured letters and photos from the likes of Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leaders who didn’t suffer critics gladly.
Still, McCain was also a throwback, enjoying friendships with rivals across the political aisle, and indulging in the back-slapping bonhomie of the Senate, where he invariably held court to a crowd between votes.
Sometimes things got testy with his Democratic pals, including when he confronted Hillary Clinton and fellow Vietnam War veteran Kerry during hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee while they served as secretaries of state under Obama.

‘He served his country … and, I hope we could add, honorably’

The Republicans’ recapture of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections gave McCain a chance to rewrite the final chapter of his career.
He at last took the gavel of the Armed Services Committee, an assignment he had long coveted. His prominent position was seen as one reason he ran for re-election in 2016.
But he knew his time was limited.
“Every single day,” McCain told The New York Times in 2015, “is a day less that I am going to be able to serve in the Senate.”
Still, despite saying he was “older than dirt,” McCain made few concessions to his age. Even after turning 80, he maintained a punishing schedule of world travel, conferring with top leaders and heading to war zones in trips that left his younger congressional colleagues exhausted.
He would blitz Sunday talk shows, direct from Arizona in the dawn hours. When Trump was elected, McCain took it upon himself to reassure world leaders, visiting multiple countries in the first six months of 2017 before his diagnosis.
His sidekick, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told CNN the hectic pace had taken a toll.
“You know he just wore himself out traveling all around the world,” Graham said.
McCain, who was divorced from his first wife, Carol, in 1980, is survived by his wife, Cindy, and seven children, including three sons who continued the family tradition of serving in the armed forces and a daughter, Meghan, who is a presenter on ABC’s “The View.” His mother, Roberta, aged 106, is also still living.
For his military service, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He faced his final diagnosis with characteristic courage, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that “every life has to end one way or another.”
Asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said: “He served his country, and not always right — made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors — but served his country, and, I hope we could add, honorably.”
McCain, who will be remembered as much for his combative nature as his political achievements, summed up the meaning of a life forged in the example of his political hero Theodore Roosevelt when he stood before the flag-draped coffin of his friend and foe, Sen. Kennedy, in 2009, his late colleague from Massachusetts, who died from the same form of brain cancer that eventually killed McCain.
“Ted and I shared the sentiment that a fight not joined was a fight not enjoyed.”

India Bids Farewell To Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee cremated in Delhi, nation bids farewell to poet prime minister

The last rites for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were performed by his foster daughter Namita Bhattarcharya at Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna with full state honours on Friday evening.

INDIA Updated: Aug 17, 2018 23:25 IST

Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Vajpayee funeral,Vajpayee cremation
Namita Kaul Bhattacharya, daughter of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and her daughter Niharika, family members and political leaders at the cremation of the former Prime Minister at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday.(Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was laid to rest, with full state honours, in a ceremony marked by emotion and ritual, preceded by a public procession through the heart of Delhi which was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday afternoon.

Namita Bhattacharya, Vajpayee’s foster daughter, lit the pyre, amid tears, as South Asia and India’s tallest political leaders grieved in silence, paying their tribute to the three-time former PM and an icon of modern India.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, PM Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, former PM Manmohan Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, senior BJP leader and one of Vajpayee’s oldest political colleagues, LK Advani, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat were among those present at the funeral.

Leaders from across South Asia were also present to bid farewell to Vajpayee, who had deep relationships with leaders in the region and had invested time and energy in improving relations with countries in the neighbourhood during his time as PM. Bhutan’s monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali, Bangladesh’s foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali, and Sri Lanka’s acting foreign minister Laxman Kiriella travelled to Delhi to pay their tributes on the occasion.

Vajpayee died on Thursday evening, after a prolonged period of illness. He had been inactive since a stroke in 2009. In June, he was admitted to the All India Institute for Medical Sciences with a kidney and urinary tract infection. His condition deteriorated over the last three days.

The former PM’s death led to an outpouring of condolence messages from across the political spectrum. The cabinet declared a seven-day state mourning and a state funeral at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

On Friday morning, Vajpayee’s body was first brought from his residence on Krishna Menon Marg to the new Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters on the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg. Vajpayee was the founding president of the BJP in 1980, and played a critical role in bringing the BJP to power at the Centre. He however, never got a chance to visit the new headquarters.

PM Modi and Shah were waiting at the office, where they paid their respects to the later former PM. So did a range of cabinet ministers, chief ministers, BJP functionaries, opposition leaders, including former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja. Party workers had begun pouring in to office since 7 am.

In the afternoon, Vajpayee’s body was then taken to Smriti Sthal.

Leading thousands of workers, supporters, and those in mourning, Modi walked from the party HQ to the site, six kms away. It was a rare sight, for the PM, accompanied senior members of his cabinet, and Shah to march through the crowded streets of central Delhi, surrounded by visibly nervous security men.

Officials realised that Modi would walk with the procession only when he did not get into his car. An official of the Delhi Police, who asked not to be named, said they got a message from the Special Protection Group about Modi’s decision mere minutes before the procession left the BJP headquarters.

Modi subsequently tweeted, “People came from all parts of India, from all sections of society to pay tributes to an extraordinary personality who made an extraordinary contribution to the nation. India salutes you Atal Ji!” He added, “You will live on in the hearts and minds of every Indian. No words can ever do justice to your rich contribution towards the making of our country.”

The PM’s decision, a functionary said, was both a reflection of his personal debt to Vajpayee, his attachment with the former PM, and a recognition of what he meant for the BJP.

In a blog on Friday, Union Minister Arun Jaitley, credited Vajpayee with creating in an era dominated by the Nehruvian Congress, a political party that was an ideological alternative to the Congress, which disagreed on various issues with the Congress, which took the Congress head-on, which struggled for almost five decades and in the last two decades but eventually not only became an alternative to the Congress but overtook it. “Atalji ran a marathon,” Jaitley said. “He was a patient runner.”

But for him, LK Advani and others, Jaitley said, Indian democracy would have looked different – dominated by one party, one family with a lot of scattered smaller parties. “That did not happen. Atalji and his colleagues made the difference.”

At the Smriti Sthal, the cremation was accompanied with military honours, which included a gun salute by a 14-man army squad firing three volleys each. Six army drummers played the Dead March tune, with their instruments covered in black cloth, while six buglers sounded the Last Post and the Rouse.

The Army had, earlier, provided a gun carriage for the coffin, while six pall bearers of the rank of Major or lieutenant colonel or equivalent ranks, two each from the army, navy and the IAF bore the coffin, and a team of 24 military officers maintained round-the-clock vigil, in turns, over the mortal remains — eight each from the three services.

In keeping with the military honours, three service chiefs placed wreaths on the body of Vajpayee before leaders paid their floral tributes.

But as the ceremony ended, it was his foster family which returned to Vajpayee’s side in his final moment. The tricolour that was wrapped around Vajpayee’s body was removed and given to his foster granddaughter Niharika. His daughter Namita, son-in-law Ranjan and Niharika had taken care of the former PM as he was unwell over the past decade. Tales of his fondness and affection for his family abounded. And it was his daughter, who eventually performed the last rites, bringing an end to the life of one of country’s most remarkable men, as India grieved.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 23:24 IST

India: Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

220,000 people left homeless in southern Indian state after unusually heavy rain

Play Video
1:35
 ‘Please pray for us’: Kerala experiences worst monsoon in nearly a century – video report

More than 324 people have died in the worst flooding in nearly a century in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 220,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain in the past nine days.

Officials repeatedly revised the death toll upwards from 86 people on Friday morning to more than 300 by the evening as a massive rescue operation reached more flood-hit regions. “Around 100 people died in the last 36 hours alone,” a state official said.

Casualty numbers are expected to increase further, with thousands more people still stranded and less intense though still heavy rain forecast for at least the next 24 hours. Many have died from being buried in hundreds of landslides set off by the flooding.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/08/kerala_floods/giv-3902lxSDbOfGLgX2/

The Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state was experiencing an “extremely grave” crisis, with the highest flood warning in place in 12 of its 14 regions.

“We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala,” he told reporters.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was on his way to Kerala on Friday evening “to take stock of the flood situation in the state”, he said.

Kerala, famed for its tea plantations, beaches and tranquil backwaters, is frequently saturated during the annual monsoon. But this year’s deluge has swamped at least 20,000 homes and forced people into more than 1,500 relief camps.

People are airlifted to safety in Kerala floods, India.
Pinterest
 People are airlifted to safety. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters

The toll in Kerala contributed to more than 900 deaths recorded by the Indian home ministry this monsoon season from landslides, flooding and rain.

Rescue workers and members of India’s armed forces have been deployed across the state with fleets of ships and aircraft brought in to save the thousands of people still stranded, many sheltering on their roofs signalling to helicopters for help.

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0:23
 Aerial view shows scale of monsoon flooding in Kerala, India – video

Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides and a major international airport in Cochin has been shut until 26 August. Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.

Residents of the state used social media to post desperate appeals for help, sometimes including their GPS coordinates to help guide rescuers.

“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” Ajo Varghese said in a viral Facebook post. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”

Another man in the central town of Chengannur posted a video of himself neck-deep in water in his home. “It looks like water is rising to the second floor,” he says. “I hope you can see this. Please pray for us.”

Play Video
0:39
 Kerala floods: man, neck-deep in water, appeals for help from inside his house – video

The fate of the man was still unclear on Friday. The state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, tweeted in the afternoon that the last road to Chengannur had washed away before his eyes and the town was cut off.

The water has claimed parts of Cochin, the state’s commercial capital, and was still rising in some areas of the city on Friday, with residents urged to evacuate and guide ropes strung across roads inundated by fast-moving currents.

Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam.
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 Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Meteorologists said Kerala had received an average 37.5% more rainfall than usual. The hardest-hit districts such as Idukki in the north received 83.5% excess rain. More than 80 dams across the state had opened their gates to try to ease the crisis, the chief minister said.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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Italy: Bridge collapse near Genoa kills At Least 22

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA EUROPE)

 

Italy: Bridge collapse near Genoa kills several

Search for survivors under way after Morandi bridge breaks in Genoa, sending vehicles 100 metres to the ground.

Rescue workers are searching the rubble for survivors after an estimated 20 vehicles fell from the bridge [Vigili Del Fuoco via AP]
Rescue workers are searching the rubble for survivors after an estimated 20 vehicles fell from the bridge [Vigili Del Fuoco via AP]

A bridge has collapsed in Italy’s northwestern city of Genoa sending vehicles falling nearly 100 metres to the ground and killing at least 22 people, according to local authorities.

The death toll is expected to rise, Italian Deputy Transport Minister Edoardo Rixi said, after part of the Morandi Bridge on the A10 motorway caved in around midday local time (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

About 200 firefighters were deployed to the scene, the fire service said, with two survivors reportedly pulled from the rubble and flown to hospital by helicopter.

The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear, although weather services in the region had issued a storm warning Tuesday morning.

Some 20 vehicles were on the viaduct when it collapsed, according to firefighters.

Television images showed the bridge in the mist with a huge chunk missing, with Italian media reporting that about 200 metres of the bridge had fallen away.

About 20 vehicles were on the bridge when it collapsed, according to local media reports [Italian Firefighters Press Office handout via Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Emma Hayward, reporting from London, said part of the bridge had “dissapeared”.

“There were multiple vehicles on the bridge at the time of the collapse, plunging more than 100m below to a stream and some rail tracks,” Hayward said.

“The focus now is on trying to reach any survivors of this incident.”

‘An immense tragedy’

Police footage showed firemen working to clear debris around a crushed truck, while other fireman nearby scaled broken slabs of the collapsed bridge support.

Restructuring work on the 1.2km-long bridge, a major artery to the Italian Riviera and to France’s southern coast, was carried out in 2016.

The highway operator said work to shore up its foundation was being carried out at the time of the collapse, adding that the bridge was constantly monitored.

Tancredi Palmeri, an Italian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Milan that the collapse took place on a usually busy stretch of road.

“Genoa is a port city that is linked to the right to Milan and the other parts of Italy and to the left is linked to Italy’s border with France,” he said.

“The bridge is one of the main two gates to the city, everybody that has been to Genoa by car has passed by this highway bridge.”

As details emerged, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the incident was “an immense tragedy”, adding he was travelling to the scene of the collapse.

“I am following with the greatest apprehension what has happened in Genoa,” Toninelli wrote on Twitter.

The office of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was heading to Genoa in the evening and would remain there on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta, meanwhile, said the army was ready to offer manpower and vehicles to help with the rescue operations.

French President Emmanuel Macron has offered Italy his country’s help following the incident.

Italian media reports said about 200 metres of the bridge had fallen away [Italian police handout via AFP]

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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