Trump’s war on truth takes a dangerous turn as he attacks the media’s coronavirus coverage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

 Trump’s war on truth takes a dangerous turn as he attacks the media’s coronavirus coverage

New York (CNN Business)Since the dawn of the Trump presidency, countless experts have warned that the president’s lack of credibility would imperil the country in the event of an emergency.

With the worsening coronavirus outbreak, those fears may be coming true.
President Trump’s political allies have made overly optimistic statements only to be contradicted by the government’s top scientists and doctors. For example, Trump claimed on Monday that the coronavirus was “very much under control in the USA.” A day later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus’ spread to the US was inevitable. He said the stock market is “starting to look very good” even as the Dow was nosediving amid coronavirus anxiety.
And the president has been blaming the media for this predicament, reverting to the same tactics that he has employed ever since taking office.
On Wednesday, in a widely-criticized tweet, he claimed that CNN and MSNBC “are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible.”
He misspelled coronavirus and the typo is still visible on his Twitter profile more than eight hours later.
But misspelling the name of the virus is the least of the government’s problems. President Trump has systematically undermined trust in the media and other institutions that play important roles in public health emergencies. He has explicitly said not to trust sources that he doesn’t personally approve.
He has engaged in what several columnists have called a “war on expertise.” Scientists have been among those adversely affected. Last December an investigation by The New York Times concluded that science is “under attack” by Trump appointees.
“Trump’s disdain for science and his cuts to science and public health programs have subverted preparedness for emergencies like the coronavirus,” said Michiko Kakutani, the famous literary critic and author of “The Death of Truth.”
Trump has also contradicted accurate information from government agencies, like the National Weather Service, as when he insisted that Alabama was threatened by a hurricane last year. The so-called Sharpiegate caused anger and consternation inside the federal agencies responsible for weather forecasting.
Now health agencies like the CDC are in the spotlight. High-minded warnings about breakdowns in trust and the death of truth have more impact when deaths from the coronavirus are being reported every day.
“When you learn you have a dangerous disease, you need to be able to trust your doctor. When entire populations face a dangerous public health crisis, they need to be able to trust their governments,” Dr. Leana S. Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month.
That’s a problem in this environment, where trust is in short supply. Multiple polls have shown that only one in three Americans believe he is honest and trustworthy.
The President’s lies have given the public ample reason to distrust what he says — and this has negatively affected perceptions of his administration as a whole.
“This president has lied about everything from trade deficits to Russian interference in US elections. He has disparaged experts at almost every opportunity,” said Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at Tuft University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and author of the forthcoming book “The Toddler in Chief.”
“At a time when people are looking to the federal government for reassurance,” Drezner said, “he will be hard-pressed to provide any.”
Ultimately, Kakutani said, Trump’s free-flowing falsehoods undermine the credibility of the government leaving the public unsure of who or what to trust.
“Truth and an informed public are essential to the functioning of a democracy — and essential, too, for a practical and reasoned response to an emergency,” she said.

Israel and Palestinian militants exchange rocket fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel and Palestinian militants exchange fire as graphic video of Israeli bulldozer carrying a body goes viral

Israel said it launched a series of strikes on Islamic Jihad targets, and Palestinian militants fired more than 20 rockets at Israel by early Sunday evening, according to the Israeli army.

(CNN)The Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza exchanged fire on Sunday, hours after a graphic video showing an Israeli army bulldozer scraping the body of a dead man off the ground went viral.

Militants fired more than 20 rockets at Israel by early Sunday evening, according to the Israeli army, making it the largest single assault by militants on Israel in several months.
The army said its Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted more than half of the launches, with many others landing in open areas. There are no reports of any Israeli injuries from the rockets.
Israel said it launched a series of strikes on targets belonging to Islamic Jihad, the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza. Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN it was the army’s assessment that Islamic Jihad was responsible for the rocket fire.
Islamic Jihad took responsibility in a statement on its official website, saying its military wing, Saraya al-Quds, is responsible for the shelling. It promised to retaliate against any future “aggression.”
Among the strikes, Israel says it succeeded in hitting a group of Islamic Jihad operatives preparing to launch a fresh barrage of rockets.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said four people were being treated in Gaza’s Shifa hospital for injuries, though it was not clear whether they were involved in the rocket attacks.

Graphic viral video

The escalation began Sunday morning when the Israeli army says it spotted two men trying to lay an explosive device close to the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. The army — which released a video it said showed the two men carrying out their operation — opened fire, killing one of them.
The dead man was identified as 27-year-old Mohammed Al-Naim. The Quds Brigade, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said he was one of their fighters.
Gaza sources tell CNN the other man is being treated in a Gaza hospital for severe wounds.
It was the second time in several days that members of Islamic Jihad tried to place an explosive device close to the fence, according to the Israeli army.
As the dead man lay on the ground, a local journalist captured the scene on video, which was subsequently shared widely on social media.
In the video, a group of four men is seen moving toward the body in an apparent attempt to retrieve it. A bulldozer from the Israeli army approached from the opposite direction.
Gunshots could be heard as the bulldozer moved up to the group, which was forced to abandon its effort to carry the body away. Other men nearby could be seen throwing rocks at the vehicle.
The bulldozer’s front scoop then appears to come down on top of the dead body as the driver makes several unsuccessful attempts to pick it up.
Eventually the body is seen hanging from the scoop before the bulldozer drives back to the Israeli side of the fence, protected by a tank.

Defense minister: ‘That’s how we must act’

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett defended the army’s actions in robust terms.
“I’m tired of the tainted left-wing criticism against the ‘inhumanity’ of using a bulldozer to bring to us the body of a terrorist who tried to murder Israelis. Hamas is holding the bodies of Hadar and Goldin,” he said in a statement, referring to the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the Gaza war of 2014.
The statement went on, “I stand behind the IDF that killed the terrorists and collected the body. That’s how we must act and that’s how we will act. In the face of terrorists, we will act with strength.”
An Israeli military official told CNN that using bulldozers to clear the area after a militant attack was standard practice and said they had been used previously to remove bodies, though he admitted it was not the preferred way to do it.
Sunday’s escalation came on the final day of the latest visit to Gaza by Qatar’s ambassador to the territory, Mohammed Al-Emadi, who discussed a further tranche of Qatari financial assistance for Gazans worth millions.
Aid from Qatar is a key part of multilateral efforts, which also include Egypt and the United Nations, to broker a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Gaza militants, which would see Israel loosen its restrictions on Gaza in exchange for a cessation of violence.
Islamic Jihad is widely seen as opposed to those negotiations, putting it at odds with Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Plane breaks apart after skidding off runway in Turkey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

 

Plane breaks apart after skidding off runway in Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN)Three people have died after a passenger plane skidded off the runway and broke apart while landing at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Wednesday.

Koca added that 179 people had been sent to different hospitals in the aftermath of the incident, which appeared to have taken place in poor weather conditions.
He said that three people are currently in an intensive care unit.
The Pegasus Airlines plane was carrying 183 people in total, including 175 adult passengers, two young children and six crew members, Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya said. The airline has confirmed that one of its planes, flight number PC2193, had skidded off the runway.

Yerlikaya said the plane skidded up to 60 meters (196 feet) after landing, before falling up to 40 meters down a ditch.
Footage from the accident site showed the plane off the runway.
Dozens of first responders were working around the plane, which appeared to have split in two.
Around 22 of the injured went to Kartal Lutfi Kirdar Training and Research Hospital. Many of them are suffering from injuries to their heads and legs, said chief surgeon Recep Demirhan.
He said that 14 of those passengers are suffering “middle range” injuries and eight are lightly injured. “There are broken bones in different places in their bodies,” Demirhan said.
He said that among their patients, two “kids are injured and three foreigners are injured,” without stating their nationalities.
The plane broke apart after skidding off the runway.

The plane caught fire after landing, and ambulances and rescue teams were at the scene to rescue passengers, CNN Turk reported. The airport has been temporarily closed to air traffic.
According to Flightradar24.com the plane landed at 6:19 p.m. local time (10:19 a.m. ET).
Weather radar showed a line of showers and thunderstorms moving through the area at the time of the incident.
Prosecutors in the capital Ankara have launched an investigation into the incident.

Former Florida Mayor Stole $650,000 From Charity Sentenced To 51 Months In Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN NEWS)

 

(CNN)A former Florida mayor was sentenced to 51 months in prison Friday after defrauding the charity United Way of more than half a million dollars.

Guy Thompson, a former mayor of Milton, a city northeast of Pensacola, last year pleaded guilty to 20 counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion in the case, according to court documents.
Between 2011 and 2018, Thompson was able to embezzle a total of $652,000.61 from United Way of Santa Rosa County while he served as executive director of the charity, court documents said.
Thompson deposited donations to the charity into his personal bank accounts — without telling anyone at the charity’s chapter about the donations — and used the money to make mortgage payments and to buy a beach condominium, according to the documents.
Ryan Cardoso, an attorney for Thompson, said the former mayor is “repentant and committed to making amends.”
“Words cannot express the remorse and sorrow that Mr. Thompson feels in this case,” Cardoso said in an email to CNN.
Thompson was also ordered to pay back the embezzled money, less the some $220,000 seized from his bank accounts.
Thompson was mayor of Milton for 20 years and was on its city council for 16 years, according to CNN affiliate WKRG. He was head of the United Way chapter for 39 years, the affiliate reported.

176 killed after Ukraine International Airlines plane crashes in Tehran shortly after takeoff

176 killed after Ukraine International Airlines plane crashes in Tehran shortly after takeoff

(CNN)All 176 people on board a Ukraine International Airlines flight were killed when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, the country’s state-run Press TV reported.

The Boeing 737 jet took off early Wednesday morning with 167 passengers and nine crew on board, Press TV reported, citing Ali Khashani, a senior public relations official at the airport.
Earlier reports from Iranian state media had said 180 people were on board.
Emergency crews were dispatched to the crash site but could not assist because the area is currently ablaze, said Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services. Koulivand told state-run media outlet IRINN that the crash site is between the cities of Parand and Shahriar.
Flight-tracking service FlightRadar 24 said in a tweet that the jet had been in service for about three and a half years.
Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA reported the crash was due to technical difficulties.
A Boeing spokesperson told CNN they are “aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.”
First responders are seen after the crash.

The crash takes place just days before the company’s new CEO David Calhoun will formally take the job. Calhoun replaces Dennis Muilenburg, who was ousted in December after Boeing’s disastrous year.
The American aviation giant is still reeling from the aftermath of two 737 Max crashes, which killed 346 people. The Max has been grounded worldwide since March, and the company has struggled with delays and other issues in its bid to get the planes back in the air.
This is a developing story and will be updated.

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

Fire crews' life-or-death moments caught on video

(CNN)Three fires have combined to form a single blaze bigger than the New York borough of Manhattan, as Australian firefighters battle what has been predicted to the most catastrophic day yet in an already devastating bushfire season.

The fires joined overnight in the Omeo region in Victoria state, creating a 6,000-hectare (23 square mile) blaze, according to Gippsland’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
In neighboring New South Wales state, a fire in the Wollondilly region south of the capital Sydney remains “out of control,” according to the Rural Fire Service. It has burned 264,000 hectares (1,020 square miles) of land in recent months.
Firefighters tackle a bushfire in thick smoke in the town of Moruya, south of Batemans Bay, in the state of New South Wales on January 4.

Weather conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Saturday, with the country’s Bureau of Meteorology warning that winds are picking up and temperatures increasing. “Today will be a day of severe to extreme fire danger through many districts,” the bureau said.
The death toll is rising as conditions worsen — Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that 23 people had been killed nationwide, up from 18 from earlier in the week. More than 1,500 homes have also been destroyed since the fire season began in September.
Victoria has declared a state of disaster and NSW has declared a state of emergency — both granting extraordinary powers and additional government resources to battle the fires.
It marked the first time VIctoria has activated these powers since the 2009 Black Saturday fires, the deadliest bushfire disaster on record in Australia with 173 people killed and 500 injured.
On Saturday, Morrison announced the deployment of up to 3,000 Australian Defense Force Reserve troops to affected states. Four planes will also be leased by the government to provide water bombing, while the navy’s largest ship, HMAS Adelaide, will be mobilized to evacuate citizens along the coast.
“Today is about ensuring we deal with the urgent crisis that is existing across fire grounds in four states in particular, to ensure we’re giving everything that is needed on ground without being asked,” Morrison said at a press conference.

Evacuations ahead of deteriorating weather

All three branches of the ADF — the navy, army, and air force — have been working this week to rescue residents from fire-threatened areas and isolated towns cut off by closed roads. On Friday, the navy evacuated about 1,000 people from the Victoria beach town of Mallacoota, Morrison said.
Some residents have chosen to stay and defend their homes, even with authorities urging people to get out while they can. Matt Runko, a homeowner in Moruya, NSW, departed late Friday — but was forced to leave his neighbor behind.
“He’s pretty confident he’s got enough water and resources over there to fend it off,” Runko told CNN — but admitted it’s “definitely a little bit distressing” that his neighbor was staying in the fire threat zone.

Thick smoke blankets southeastern Australia along the border of Victoria and New South Wales on January 1, 2020. An image taken over the same area on July 24, 2019 shows a smoke-free day.

JOSHUA STEVENS/NASA EOSDIS

Saturday’s hot, dry and windy weather is expected to hinder firefighters and worsen the flames, after a brief improvement in conditions on Thursday and Friday.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning for “damaging winds” in NSW, the state hardest hit by fires so far. A passing cold front is causing temperatures to spike and humidity to drop, and bringing strong gusts up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) across the state’s southeast.
Some of the biggest fires have been burning for months, but the real danger on Saturday is the wind. Not only does it make the fires grow faster and bigger, but the wind can carry embers far distances and start entirely new fires in new locations.
These winds will change directions once the cold front passes — making the fires even more difficult to control. Some rain is expected by the end of the weekend heading into Monday, but won’t be enough to extinguish the large ongoing blazes, according to CNN meteorologists.
Angus Barners, an incident controller at the Rural Fire Service in Moruya, NSW, said he expected “very challenging conditions.”
“We can’t stop the fires, all we can do is steer them around communities,” he told CNN.

Somalia suicide car bomb attack rocks capital, killing at Least 79

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(The lack of a moral/religion ‘code’, such a spiritual sickness) (oldpoet56)

 

Somalia suicide car bomb attack rocks capital, killing at Least 79

A soldier is seen next to the wreckage of car that was damaged during the suicide attack in Mogadishu on Saturday.

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN)At least 79 people are dead and 149 more injured after a massive car bomb exploded at a busy intersection on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday, according to a government official.

Government spokesman Ismael Mukhtar also earlier told CNN that the attacker drove his vehicle into the “Ex-control Afgoye” checkpoint, a well-known junction that links the south of Somalia to the capital.
Mukhtar added that university students were among the dead.
The attack happened during rush hour in the Somali capital at about 8 a.m. local time, and civilians and soldiers are among the dead, police said.
Police conduct security searches at the checkpoint, but there is also a taxation office located nearby and the area is heavily populated with civilians and security forces.

Nurses from Mogadishu's Madina Hospital push a wounded person on a stretcher.

Police have warned that the death toll could rise as many of the wounded have been rushed to hospitals.
Images from the scene showed multiple wrecked vehicles with shards of twisted metal nearby as well as a minibus marked with blood.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed two Turkish citizens had died in the attack.
“May Allah’s mercy be upon our 2 citizens and innocent Somali brothers&sisters who lost their lives in the heinous terrorist attack,” Çavuşoğlu wrote on his Twitter account. He added Turkey would continue to stand with Somalia in the fight against terror.
Saturday’s attack came two weeks after at least five people were killed in a seven-hour battle at a hotel popular with lawmakers and security officials in the Somali capital.
In February, the group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a crowded shopping mall that left at least 10 dead. It was also behind three car bombings last November that killed at least 52 people with about 100 more injured.

15 Horses Shot And Killed In Field In Eastern Kentucky

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)At least 15 horses appear to have been shot and killed at the site of an abandoned strip mine in eastern Kentucky, authorities said.

The horses were found scattered across a large area off of US 23 near the border of Floyd and Pike counties, according to Tonya Conn, president of the local group Dumas Rescue.
On Monday, a resident who lives near the strip mining site reported that some of his horses had been discovered dead after breaking loose from a fenced area, Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt told CNN. The man suspected that his horses had been killed.
The sheriff’s office went to the area and found at least 14 dead horses that appeared to have been shot, Hunt said. Some were part of a wild herd, while others belonged to residents. Among them were two colts and four pregnant mares.
The sheriff’s office suspects that more horses have been killed, Hunt said.
“To think that somebody could point a gun and aim it at a horse and pull the trigger and do it repeatedly is unimaginable,” he said.
Hunt said the sheriff’s office plans to go back to the site on Thursday with a veterinarian to perform autopsies and collect evidence. Dumas Rescue is assisting with the investigation.
Residents of the community have been outraged over the incident. The horses were a scenic attraction for many people who ride ATVs in the area, Hunt said.
Conn said that Dumas Rescue had been working with the herd that appears to have been targeted for several years now.
“I’ve been doing rescues since 2004,” Conn told CNN. “We see a lot of starvation and a lot of cruelty, but that was the most horrific scene I’ve ever been on. Just cold-blooded malice.”
The Humane Society of the United States is offering up to $5,000 as a reward for anyone who has information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible, the organization confirmed to CNN. Hunt and Conn said that local residents are also sending in donations.
At a minimum, the person involved could face animal cruelty charges, CNN affiliate WYMT reported.

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

A photo from the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences showing the eruption Monday.

(CNN)At least one person has died and an unknown number are missing after a volcano on New Zealand’s popular White Island tourist destination erupted Monday.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, New Zealand National Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the fatality was a person who had already been evacuated from the island.
Tims said that there could be more than 20 people still on the island who had not been heard from since the eruption.
“At this stage it is too dangerous for police and rescue services to go on to the island… the island is currently covered in ash and volcanic material,” he said.
Tims said in a statement that fewer than 50 people were believed to have been on the island at the time of the eruption and about 23 had already been evacuated.
“Emergency services are working to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including rescue staff,” the police statement said.
About 20 tourists from the nearby cruise ship Ovation of the Seas were on White Island at the time of the eruption, New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan told CNN.
“Our hope is that everyone will be recovered quickly and unharmed,” he said. The Ovation of The Seas is one of the largest cruise vessels in the world, according to operators Royal Caribbean.
Images of a crater on the island from cameras run by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences appear to show a group of people inside the smoking center just minutes before the eruption.
Speaking at an earlier press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was too early to say how bad the injuries were but added it was her understanding that a number of those affected were tourists.
Speaking to CNN-affiliate Radio New Zealand, St. John Ambulance said that up to 20 people are believed to have been injured in the eruption, adding that a mobile triage unit was on its way.
Tourist Michael Schade and his family had been on the volcano just 20 minutes before it erupted. They were waiting on a boat, about to leave, when the eruption occurred.
Schade took videos of the ride leaving the island, showing giant plumes of thick black smoke as the boat quickly departed.
“Boat ride home … was indescribable,” Schade wrote on Twitter. “Those are some of the people (our) boat picked up. Praying for them and their recovery. Woman my mom tended to was in critical condition but seemed strong by the end.”
Photos from New Zealand’s official geological hazard information site Geonet showed a huge plume of white smoke rising above the island on Monday afternoon, local time.
“Whakaari/White Island is erupting. More information soon,” announced GeoNet in a notice on their official Twitter.
Injured from White Island volcanic eruption are ferried into waiting ambulances in Whakatane, New Zealand, Monday.

Most active cone volcano

The White Island or Whakaari volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano according to the GeoNet website. It has been built up by more than 150,000 years of volcanic activity.
A cone volcano is the most immediately recognizable mountain-shaped variety, as opposed to shield volcanoes or calderas which are far more flat in shape.
A volcanic ash advisory was issued at 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET Sunday) by MetService, New Zealand’s meteorological service. New Zealand Police called for people in the affected ashfall areas to stay indoors.
The Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 4 shortly after the eruption, and the Aviation Color code is orange, according to GeoNet. Two hours later it was lowered to level 3, due to “diminished” activity in the area of the volcano.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said the eruption occurring at White Island is “hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano” and that the agency is assessing the situation with scientific advisers to determine the severity of the threat.
Whakaari/White Island is dubbed “one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes” on a White Island Tours website, which offers ocean cruises near the island and a guided tour depending on the status of the varying volcanic alert levels.
According to the GeoNet website, more than 10,000 people visit the island every year.

Arkansas Police Officer Executed In Department Parking Lot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Arkansas officer was ‘ambushed and executed’ in a police station parking lot, police say

Officer Stephen Carr was killed in his patrol vehicle, according to a news release from Fayetteville Police.

(CNN)A Fayetteville, Arkansas, police officer was shot and killed in the police station’s parking lot Saturday night, the department said in a statement.

Evidence shows Officer Stephen Carr, a patrol officer who had served the department for more than two years, was “ambushed and executed while sitting in his patrol vehicle,” the Fayetteville Police Department said.
Two officers heard gunshots behind the station around 9:42 p.m. local time, according to police. In the parking they lot they found an armed suspect later identified as 35-year-old London T. Phillips.
A confrontation ensured and the officers fired at Phillips, who was injured, the police said. The officers gave medical attention to the wounded men and paramedics were called, but Carr and the suspect both died at the scene.
The names of the two officers involved have be not been released, but the department said they would be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. The department also asked the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI to conduct independent investigations, it said.
In the news release, the Fayetteville Police Department celebrated Carr’s “dedication and professionalism,” calling him a hero.
“We would like to thank our community for their outpouring of support, along with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their quick response and assistance,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Carr’s family during this tragic time.”