IN THE U.S. A SITTING PRESIDENT IS ABOVE THE LAW: PERIOD!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Hundreds of former Justice officials assert Trump would be facing felony charges if he were not President

Washington (CNN)Hundreds of former Justice Department officials said in an open letter released Monday that President Donald Trump would be facing multiple felony charges stemming from the Russia investigation if he were not President.

The letter posted online by Justice Department alumni, who served under presidents from both parties, said the report from special counsel Robert Mueller contained repeated instances of Trump committing obstruction of justice, and that he would have been charged with obstructionif he was not protected as President by an opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that Mueller cited.
“We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report,” the letter read.
The letter was posted to Medium and said it was being updated by the group Protect Democracy, a nonprofit group that has combated the Trump administration. CNN has reached out to Protect Democracy regarding the letter.
The letter was signed by officials from a wide-range of backgrounds, and included former US attorneys and other top officials from both parties.
The Washington Post, which previously reported on the letter, which said signatories to the letter included officials whose time in government included every administration since President Dwight Eisenhower.
The Mueller report as released by the Department of Justice showed the special counsel looked into whether Trump committed obstruction and laid out specific, unsuccessful instances by Trump to obstruct the special counsel itself. In the report, Mueller said he could not conclude “no criminal conduct occurred” on the topic.
Attorney General William Barr, who criticized the obstruction probe last year, said after the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation that both he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined Mueller’s evidence was “not sufficient” to support prosecuting Trump for obstruction.

William Barr is in Deep Trouble

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

William Barr is in deep trouble

(CNN)Attorney General William Barr did two strange things between the time he received special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and when he released it to Congress and the public.

The first came on March 24 when, two days after receiving the Mueller report, Barr released a four-page summary letter in which he made clear his conclusion that the report found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and that Mueller hadn’t made any recommendation as to whether President Donald Trump should be charged with obstructing justice.
 

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The second came on the morning of April 18 when Barr, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by his side, held a press conference to reiterate those findings — in remarkably Trumpian language — 90 minutes before actually making a redacted version of the report public.
On Tuesday night, those two moves came into far sharper — and more troubling — focus when it was revealed that Mueller sent a letter to Barr on March 27 expressing concern about the ways in which Barr’s summary document described the evidence surrounding obstructive behavior. Mueller did not make issue with any of the factual statements in Barr’s four-page letter but rather the lack of nuance on obstruction — and the resultant media coverage, according to CNN’s Laura Jarrett’s reporting.
That revelation creates a series of problems for Barr — most notably that he appeared to be, at best, misleading in his answers about Mueller’s feelings about his summary of the report.
On April 9, in a House hearing, Barr seemed entirely unaware of Mueller’s issues with his summary report. Here’s the key exchange between Barr and Florida Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist:
CRIST: Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not adequately or accurately portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they are referencing with that?
BARR: No, I don’t.
In an April 10 appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee, this exchange happened between Barr and Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen:
VAN HOLLEN: Did — did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
BARR: I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.
What Barr quite clearly knew at that point — and had known for the better part of two weeks — was that Mueller had issues with the way in which he presented the conclusions of the report in the four-page letter.
Now, you can argue that Barr technically didn’t lie there. He knew that Mueller wasn’t thrilled with the way he summarized the broader report but that didn’t mean that Mueller opposed the conclusions. Again, that is technically possible. But, in the real world, it sure as hell seems like Barr was purposely obfuscating when it came to Mueller’s view of the report so as to downplay any sense that a) he didn’t present a full picture of the report and b) there was any rift between the two men.
And, given all of what he knew about Mueller’s opinion of his summary letter, Barr’s decision to hold a press conference more than an hour before the release of the actual report is even more concerning.
At the time — even without the knowledge we now possess about the Mueller letter of March 27 — it seemed odd. The attorney general holding a press conference about a report that he had seen but no one in the media had been given — and wouldn’t be for another 90 minutes? It seemed, even before Barr began speaking, to be a relatively transparent attempt by the AG to frame the soon-arriving Mueller report — to set the terms of the conversation for both Congress and the American public.
Within minutes, it became clear that was exactly Barr’s intent. Here’s just a piece of what Barr said that day:
“So that is the bottom line. After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”
As I noted at the time, Barr’s language was strikingly similar to how Trump himself had long described the Mueller probe. But, that language from Barr seems far more damning for the attorney general in light of what he knew about both the repeated incidents of seemingly obstructive behavior in the Mueller report and also Mueller’s own concerns about the language Barr had used to describe the finding in his March 24 summary letter.
Barr is set to sit to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He’s got a lot to answer for.

They Wanted To Explore A Cave In Virginia, Now They Are Trapped

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Five men exploring a cave in southwest Virginia were trapped inside, and authorities are working to get them out safely, according to Billy Chrimes, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Six men entered the cave in Cleveland, Virginia, on Friday around 7 p.m. and planned to spend an extended amount of time exploring it, he said.
One of those men emerged from the cave, known as Cyclops Cave, on Sunday morning around 2 a.m. and told authorities the others were having difficulty getting out, Chrimes said Sunday.
That man, who is 22, said the other men were exhausted and were starting to have problems with hypothermia, according to Chrimes. The men are not lost and aren’t too far into the cave.
The five trapped men are between the ages of 34 and 59, according to Emergency Management Coordinator for Russell County Jess Powers. Powers said the group was planning to camp in the cave until Sunday, but a heavy downpour Saturday night made conditions muddy and wet and likely contributed to their difficulties.
One of the men was rescued on Sunday afternoon and is being assessed by a local volunteer rescue squad, Powers said. The rescue took much longer than anticipated, Powers said, and the rescue teams have gone back inside to help the other four men.
The cave explorers did not have a lot of extra food or water, and Chrimes said the temperature underground is in the 50s. While that is comfortable under normal circumstances, it can cause problems with hypothermia when you’re not active and moving.

Rescue will take hours

Chrimes said the rescue effort will likely take a considerable amount of time because of the small size of the cave. In addition, rescue teams will have to get inside, assess the situation and report back because cell phones and radios don’t work inside the cave.
An extensive network of cave rescue teams have responded, with additional teams across the East Coast that have been put on standby in case additional assistance is required, Chrimes said.
“With cave rescue incidents, this has the potential to extend to eight, to 12 hours, depending on what all is involved with getting the subjects out, and it may even extend beyond that just depending on the circumstances,” Chrimes said.
“Certainly we’re hoping for the best and that we can get them warmed up, get them moving, get them some energy back and get them out under their own power, but we’re still waiting to see what that situation will entail.”
Tony Smith, who owns a cattle ranch next to the caves, told CNN affiliate WJHL there are five big caves stretching for around nine miles below ground.
The cave where the men are trapped is known as Cyclops Cave and is popular with explorers, though it is on private property. The cave has a “bubble-like formation” inside known as the “eye” of the Cyclops, in which the group was planning to camp, Powers said.

Australia Is Going To Try To Kill Two-Million Feral Cats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURT OF CNN)

 

They’re cute, they’re fluffy, and they’re public enemy number one in Australia.

Australia is at war — with feral cats. By 2020, the government wants to kill two million free roaming cats, a large chunk of the total feral cat population, which is estimated to be between 2 and 6 million.
Some areas of Australia have gone even further. In the northeastern state of Queensland, there’s even a council offering a $10 ($7) bounty per feral cat scalp — a policy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has lambasted as “cruel.”
Nor is the problem exclusive to Australia. In neighboring New Zealand, a prominent environmentalist has proposed a cat-free future, with both domestic and feral cats either controlled or culled.
So why do the Antipodes dislike cats so much?

Killer cats

The answer is simple: Cats, especially feral ones, are killers.
The first cat is thought to have arrived in Australia at some point in the 17th century. Since then, their number has ballooned, with the population today estimated to cover 99.8% of the country.
Although feral cats belong to the same species as domestic cats, feral cats live in the wild where they are forced to hunt for survival.
A rare burrowing bettong hides under a hollow log near Cygnet River on Kangaroo Island. Its species was driven to extinction on mainland Australia by foxes and feral cats.

Since they were first introduced by European settlers, feral cats have helped drive an estimated 20 mammal species to extinction, Gregory Andrews, national commissioner of threatened species told the Sydney Morning Herald. According to Andrews, that makes feral cats the single biggest threat to Australia’s native species.
And that’s significant in Australia, an island nation that was cut off from the rest of the world for thousands of years. Today, an estimated 80% of Australia’s mammals and 45% of its birds are found in the wild nowhere else on earth.
For cats, native species are easy prey. Cats are believed to kill more than 1 million native birds, and 1.7 million reptiles across Australia everyday, a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of the Environment and Energy told CNN, citing scientific research.
Some of the other species under threat from cats include the brush-tailed rabbit-rat, which the government classifies as vulnerable, and the rat-like golden bandicoot.
“We are not culling cats for the sake of it, we are not doing so because we hate cats,” said Andrews.
“We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation.”

Unlikely critics

The government, which announced its plan to initiate a cull in 2015, has pledged $5 million to support community groups who can target cats on the front line.
But the plan has come under fire — and surprisingly, conservationists are among the critics.
Tim Doherty, a conservation ecologist from Deakin University in Australia, agrees that feral cats take a “big toll” on Australia’s native species, but believes the cull is based on shaky science.
“At the time, when the target was set in 2015, we actually didn’t know how many feral cats there were in Australia,” he said, adding that some estimates at the time put the number at 18 million, which he called a “gross over estimate.”
“There’s not really a reliable way to estimate across an entire continent, and if you’re going to set a target, and if you want it to be meaningful, you need to be able to measure your progress towards it.”
Another, more pressing issue, is that merely killing a cat doesn’t necessarily save bird or mammal lives — the cat needs to have been living in an area that has threatened animals, he said.
A feral cat in a neighborhood in Washington, DC on April 4, 2014.

And bounties needed to be focused on a certain area, Doherty said. “It needs to be concentrated rather than a scatter gun approach,” he said.
While cats are a big problem, the government had focused heavily on them at the cost of other, more politically sensitive issues like habitat loss caused by urban expansion, logging and mining.
“There’s a possibility there that cats are being used as a distraction to some extent,” he said. “We also need to have a more holistic approach and address all threats to biodiversity.”
Other notable critics of the plan include British singer Morrissey and Brigitte Bardot.

‘Cats to go’

In New Zealand there have been calls to put a stop to domestic cats altogether.
The remote island nation, which was one of the last places on earth to be reached by humans, has already announced a bold goal of becoming completely predator free by 2050. According to the government, rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million native birds each year.
New Zealand has no native land mammals besides bats, meaning a large variety of birds — including the country’s flightless Kiwi — were able to thrive in a land without predators. Now, 37%of New Zealand’s bird species are threatened. What’s more, many of New Zealand’s native birds are ground-dwellers, making them susceptible to cats, according to the country’s Department of Conservation.
A keeper holds two kiwi chicks in his hands in Berlin on June 19, 2012.

In 2013, well-known New Zealand economist Gareth Morgan drew the ire of cat lovers — including the then-Prime Minister John Key, himself the owner of a cat named Moonbeam — when he launched a campaign called “Cats to Go,” encouraging cat lovers to avoid replacing their pet when it dies.
“Cats are the only true sadists of the animal world, serial killers who torture without mercy,” he said when add?
CNN has reached out to Morgan for comment.
Two years later, then-Conservation Minister Maggie Barry urged authorities to start putting downstray cats to save native bird populations, and called for pet cats, which number around 1.134 million according to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council, to be limited to one or two per household.
And last year, Omaui, a small coastal town in New Zealand’s South Island considered banning new domestic cats in the area — although it has since backtracked on its plan.
”We’re not cat haters, but we want our environment to be wildlife-rich,” Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust chairman John Collins said in August last year.

Saudi Government Arrests 2 U.S. ‘Dual’ Citizens In ‘Dissident’s’ Crackdown

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)Saudi Arabia detained seven activists, including two US citizens, on Thursday, two sources told CNN, in the kingdom’s first sweep of arrests targeting dissidents since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Salah al-Haidar, a dual Saudi-US citizen who is the son of prominent women’s rights defender Aziza al-Yousef, was one of those arrested, according to two sources familiar with the events. Yousef was temporarily freed from a prison in Riyadh last month and is on trial along with 10 other women’s rights defenders.
One source is a Saudi academic in a US university who has strong relations with the Saudi dissident community. The other source is a Saudi activist with knowledge of the events.
Haidar is a writer and journalist on social issues. His father owns a home in Vienna, Virginia, according to the Saudi academic who asked not to be named out of concerns for his safety.
Salah al-Haidar and his mother Aziza al-Yousef in a car after a Saudi court granted her temporary release in March. Yousef is a prominent women's rights defender who spent nearly a year behind bars. Haidar was arrested on April 4, around two weeks after his mother's release.

Another Saudi-US dual citizen, the writer and physician Bader al-Ibrahim, was also arrested in the crackdown, the sources said.
The UK-based Saudi rights group Alqst reported that seven activists had been arrested on Thursday, and released their names.
All seven detainees are writers and social media bloggers who are connected to Yousef’s family and are friends with Haidar, according to the sources. They previously engaged in public discussions about reforms and have publicly endorsed women’s rights causes such as the right to drive, the sources said.
Two of the activists detained on Thursday are Saudi married couple Thumar al-Mazouqi and Khadijah al-Harbi, said the sources. Harbi, who has written about and campaigned for women’s rights, is in late-stage pregnancy, the sources added. She and Mazouqi have been supportive of detained women’s rights defenders currently standing trial.
The sources also confirmed that a Riyadh university lecturer named Anas al-Mazrou was arrested on March 19. Days earlier a video of Mazrou filmed at a book fair, in which he publicly expressed solidarity with political prisoners and named some detained women’s rights defenders, had gone viral.
The Saudi government did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment about the case. CNN has reached out to the US embassy in Riyadh for comment.
Saudi Arabia has conducted a series of crackdowns on dissidents since Prince Mohammed bin Salman was elevated to Crown Prince in June 2017. The arrest sweeps have targeted clerics, academics and human rights defenders.
In May and June 2018, several women’s rights activists were detained in a series of arrests that were widely criticized by the international community, including at the United Nations human rights council.
The October 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident and critic of the government, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked international uproar.
The number of arrests of dissidents appeared to decrease significantly in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s killing, in what many observers hoped was sign that the kingdom’s crackdown was deescalating, Alqst director Yahya Assiri told CNN.
Thursday’s arrests appeared to mark a renewal of the crackdown, Assiri and the Saudi academic said.
“It’s all breaking my heart but in particular is I know Salah al-Haidar’s family has already been thru so much after #Saudi feminist (Salah’s mother) Aziza al-Yousef’s arrest since May 2018,” wrote Saudi-American Harvard PhD student Nora Abdulkarim in a tweet. “Days after her temp release, and their celebrating, now Salah is arrested. I cannot fathom.”

Jayme Closs Turns Up Alive In Northern Wisconsin

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Jayme Closs turns up ‘like a ghost’ on a Wisconsin street 70 miles from where her parents were shot dead at home

(CNN)Kristin Kasinskas was at home Thursday evening when someone pounded on the door. When she opened it, her neighbor was standing next to a skinny girl with unkempt hair and oversized shoes.

“This is Jayme Closs!” the neighbor said, according to an account Kasinskas gave to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. “Call 911!”
With those words, the frantic search for Jayme ended 87 days after she vanished on October 15, the same night police found her parents dead in their home near Barron, Wisconsin. She was located Thursday in the Wisconsin town of Gordon — about 70 miles north of where she was last seen.
As the stunned neighbors stood at the door, Jayme did not say a word.

She asked a dog walker for help

The neighbor was walking her dog when Jayme approached and asked for help, according to Kasinskas, a local teacher.
The woman was so unnerved, she did not want to be identified, the Star Tribune reported. She told the paper that when Jayme walked up to her, she immediately knew who she was.
They rushed to the nearest home, which happened to be that of Kasinskas. As they waited for authorities, Jayme declined food and water, and instead met the family’s puppy.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” her husband, Peter Kasinskas, told the paper.
Authorities said Jayme was located shortly before 5 p.m., and a suspect arrested 10 minutes later.

Good news after a day of rumors

Jayme was taken to the hospital after she was found, her aunt Sue Allard said.
“Oh my gosh,” Allard told CNN affiliate WCCO between sobs. “There was rumors earlier today, and I prayed and prayed and they come to not be true … I thought today was going to be the day, and then I find out two hours later that she’s found and I just cannot believe this.”
Jayme’s cousin, Seara Closs, shared her relief on social media.
“She is alive and on her way home from the bottom of my heart thank you all for the help!” she posted on Facebook. “I can never repay each and everyone one of you for posting and sharing and contributing to the search of my cousin Jayme Closs!”
No more details were immediately available. Authorities planned a news conference Friday morning.

Mysterious 911 call

Since Jayme disappeared, authorities have said they believe she’s in danger. Her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found shot dead in their home the same night she went missing.
Investigators say a mysterious 911 call led deputies to discover the bodies. When the dispatcher called the number back, a voice mail greeting indicated the phone belonged to Denise Closs. The log does not say who made the 911 call, but the dispatcher heard yelling in the background.
Police arrived to find the door kicked in but no one was there. Investigators said they believed Jayme was at home during the shooting.

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Months of tips and searches

For months, thousands of people joined search parties as investigators received thousands of tips. The FBI offered a cash reward for information on her whereabouts, and authorities urged hunters in the area to be on the lookout for clues.
The searches and thousands of tips had not yielded any clues before Thursday. But Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said they never got tired of looking for Jayme.
“We promised to bring Jayme home and tonight we get to fulfill that promise. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “This case has been very trying on the family so please respect their privacy and we reunite them later tonight.”
He also thanked the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene when Jayme was found, and other law enforcement agencies that helped in the search.
Barron is 90 miles east of Minneapolis.

Today, Ms. Penny Marshall Died

Today, Ms. Penny Marshall Died
Today, Ms. Penny Marshall died
I’m 62 and she was  just 75
Wouldn’t have ever thought that
Ms. Penny could be that much older
75 May seem old to a child, not I
Diabetes took another Bright Light away
Cancer, Mrs. Stevens, Bewitched at 60
We lived with Mr. Munster and Mr. Spock
Then of Course Elvis, way back in August of 77
A smile comes to my brain when I think of them
I never met any of these folks
Never walked in the same circles
On TV they gave me a smile in life
Life is only as dark as we allow us make it
Ms. Penny, Your Missed, for now, good night

Penny Marshall: Has Died At The Age Of 75

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN) Actress Penny Marshall, who found fame in TV’s “Laverne & Shirley” before going on to direct such beloved films as “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” has died. She was 75.

Marshall died peacefully in her Hollywood Hills home on Monday night due to complications from diabetes, said Michelle Bega, a spokeswoman for the family.
“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” the Marshall family said in a statement.
Marshall, whose real name was Carole Marshall, grew up in the Bronx. Her brother was famed producer and director Garry Marshall, who died in 2016.
Describing her upbringing, Marshall, who wrote a memoir titled “My Mother Was Nuts,” once said, “you had to form a sense of humor or else you’d kill yourself.”
“You had to learn what sarcasm was,” Marshall told CNN in 2012 while promoting the book.
Marshall’s role as outspoken tomboy Laverne DeFazio in the “Happy Days” spin-off “Laverne & Shirley” catapulted the actress to celebrity in the late ’70s. Her gift for physical comedy helped earn her accolades, including three Golden Globe nominations.
The show — co-starring Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney, Laverne’s co-worker in a 1950s Milwaukee brewery — ran for eight seasons, from 1976 to 1983.
She began her directing career by helming episodes of TV series before landing her first feature-film directing job with the 1986 Whoopi Goldberg action-comedy “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” With her second film, “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, Marshall became the first woman to direct a movie that grossed more than $100 million.
She repeated that success in 1992 with the baseball movie “A League of Their Own.”
“I’m not an articulate person, but I have a strange combination of insecurity and fearlessness,” Marshall once told CNN.
She also directed the films “Renaissance Man,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” and “Riding in Cars with Boys.”
A celebration of Marshall’s life will be held at a later date to be announced, the family said.
Marshall survived by her older sister, Ronny, daughter, actress Tracy Reiner, and three grandchildren.
“We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true,” Bega said.

Why George H.W. Bush wanted Trump at his funeral

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Why George H.W. Bush wanted Trump at his funeral

(CNN)George H.W. Bush can perform one last, posthumous service to his country this week by orchestrating a rare moment of unity and a short-term truce in the rancorous politics swirling around the crisis-stricken Trump presidency.

The remains of the former president, who died at home in Texas on Friday night at 94, will be brought to Washington on Monday to allow the nation to bid farewell to a man whose one-term presidency looks better with each year that passes.
The ex-commander-in-chief will lie in state at the US Capitol ahead of a state funeral service in Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday that will see a meeting of the world’s most exclusive club — that of former presidents.
For a few days, a building showdown over a possible partial government shutdown may ease, and the increasing threat posed to the Trump presidency by special counsel Robert Mueller could fade into the background.
Despite antipathy between the Bush family and President Donald Trump, the 41st president made clear he wanted America’s current leader to be at the funeral, putting the institution of the presidency above personal animosities.
Trump has confirmed he will attend the event, which follows a series of national disasters and tragedies and moments of public mourning that have caused critics to fault his behavior as short of that expected of a president.
To his credit, Trump canceled what was certain to be a contentious news conference at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday out of respect for Bush. He also sent one of the iconic blue-and-white 747 jets that serves as Air Force One when a president is aboard to Texas to carry Bush’s casket.
“We’ll be spending three days of mourning and three days of celebrating a really great man’s life,” Trump said in Argentina in a gracious tribute.
“So we look forward to doing that, and he certainly deserves it. He really does. He was a very special person.”
But Wednesday’s ceremony still promises to be an awkward moment of political theater for Trump, since he will come face-to-face with former presidents and other top officials whom he has attacked in recent days.
Just last week for instance, Trump retweeted an image that pictures former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, along with former campaign rival Hillary Clinton, behind bars. Trump often beams at rallies as his crowds chant “lock her up!” about the former Democratic nominee. And Michelle Obama wrote in her new autobiography that she will “never forgive” Trump for his conspiracy theory about Obama’s birthplace that launched the real estate mogul and reality TV star’s political career.
Trump is likely to come face to face with all four in the National Cathedral before a huge television audience. The encounter will highlight how several of the former leaders, including Obama and Clinton, forged close relationships with their Republican predecessor as well as the friendly relations between them and Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush. No such ties exist between that trio and the current President, who often criticizes his predecessors and has given no sign of taking advantage of their advice and experience of doing one of the toughest and loneliest jobs in global politics.
The President also belittled another of the elder Bush’s sons, former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, during the 2016 campaign, and in July, mocked a signature quote by the 41st president about a “thousand points of light,” which was later used as the name of his charity.

Unavoidable comparisons

Wednesday’s state funeral will offer similarities and contrasts to the final farewell for John McCain in September, to which Trump was not invited after mocking the Arizona senator during the 2016 campaign for being shot down and imprisoned in Vietnam nearly 50 years before.
Such analogies are likely to be perceived again in the tributes to Bush, who was almost universally regarded as a gentleman and a throwback to a more civil and magnanimous era of politics.
Still, with Trump attending, and if he desists from his trademark inflammatory politics, the nation’s divides could be papered over, at least for a few days.
Bush’s passing also looks set to postpone one of the final political showdowns of the year — a funding controversy entangled in Trump’s demands for $5 billion in funding for his border wall.
A source briefed on the talks told CNN that lawmakers are considering taking up a one-week spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown by a Friday deadline, since Congress will be out of session at the beginning of the week ahead of Bush’s ceremonies.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Saturday night that he would be open to such a solution.
“I would absolutely consider it and probably give it,” Trump said.

Russia cloud darkens over Trump

Washington’s period of mourning come at a fraught moment in Trump’s presidency, after a week in which it became clear that Mueller is narrowing in on the President as his investigation gathers pace.
On Thursday, Mueller unveiled a cooperation agreement with Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen admitted to lying to Congress to cover up the fact that he was negotiating a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow right up until June 2016 during the presidential campaign.
He had previously said talks about the Moscow project ended in January 2016 and said he lied out of a sense of obligation to Trump.
A pair of developments on Friday night appeared to bring the probe even closer to the White House. CNN reported that Cohen believed that Trump would offer him a pardon in exchange for staying on message in in talks with federal prosecutors.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Trump never indicated any such possibility to Cohen. But the report immediately sparked speculation about communications between the two men. Any proof that Trump had offered a pardon in return for Cohen’s testimony would be an abuse of power and possibly an impeachable offense.
Then, in a filing later on Friday, Cohen’s lawyers offered the clearest sign yet that he kept Trump informed of his efforts to close the deal in Moscow in 2016.
A political hiatus over the next few days might give Trump some brief relief from Russia questions but could also complicate his effort to celebrate an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to stave off an escalation in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
In exchange, China will buy a “very substantial” amount of agricultural, energy and other goods from the United States to help reduce the trade imbalance, according to a White House statement.
“If it happens it goes down as one of the largest deals ever made,” Trump said, though trade experts saw the agreement, while welcome, as more a temporary truce than a permanent peace deal to ease rising US-China tensions.

More Than 1,000 Aftershocks Have Hit Alaska Since Fridays 7.0 Earthquake

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

More than 1,000 aftershocks of magnitude 1.5 or greater have shaken Alaska since Friday’s big quake knocked out power, ripped open roads and splintered buildings in Anchorage, US Geological Survey geophysicist Randy Baldwin said Sunday.

The majority were of a magnitude of 2.5 or weaker, meaning they weren’t likely felt. But more than 350 of the aftershocks were higher than 2.5, according to USGS data.
Still, local officials said life was returning to normal after Friday’s magnitude 7 earthquake, even as 4 to 8 inches of snow was expected Sunday.
alaska earthquake damage todd dnt tsr vpx_00002607

Scenes of chaos as 7.0 earthquake rocks Alaska
“This is the second-largest earthquake we’ve had since 1964, which was a very significant earthquake,” Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz told reporters Saturday, referring to the 9.2 quake that was the most powerful recorded in US history.
“In terms of a disaster, I think it says more about who we are than what we suffered,” Berkowitz said. “I would characterize this as a demonstration that Anchorage is prepared for these kind of emergencies.”

Alaskans resilient to damage

No fatalities or serious injuries were reported, officials said. In Alaska’s largest city — with a population of about 300,000 — airports, hospitals, emergency services and most businesses were operating.
“The power is up. The heat is on. The communication lines are opening,” said Anchorage Municipal Manager Bill Falsey.
Most of the aftershocks have not rattled Alaskans. But 12 as of Sunday morning more powerful than 4.5 struck near Anchorage and Big Lake, the USGS says.
Footage shows destruction in TV station

Footage shows destruction in TV station
A 5.2 aftershock about 11 p.m. Friday was the second-biggest since a 5.7 temblor hit minutes after the main quake, said Gavin Hayes, a research geophysicist with the USGS.
“That would have given people a shake and probably a bit of a scare given what they went through yesterday,” he told CNN.
The 7.0 earthquake sent residents scurrying for cover when it hit about 8:30 a.m. Friday. The quake was centered 10 miles northeast of Anchorage.
“The most striking thing about this event was that it was so close to Anchorage,” Hayes said. “That’s why it has caused the damage that we’re seeing.”
The earthquake was not unusual for the region and probably wouldn’t have received much attention had it not struck so close to town, he said.

‘This was a big one’

Roads buckled under passing cars and products tumbled from shelves. In court, panicked attorneys scurried under tables as a room rocked from side to side.
“It was very loud when it came,” Berkowitz said Friday. “It was very clear that this was something bigger than what we normally experience. We live in earthquake country … but this was a big one.”
Palmer resident Kristin Dossett described the initial jolt as “absolutely terrifying.”
It was the biggest quake she has felt in her 37 years in a region where temblors are common, Dossett said. One aftershock moved her piano a foot and half from the wall.
An employee walks past a damaged aisle in an Anchorage store after the earthquake.

“It just didn’t stop. It kept going and got louder and louder, and things just fell everywhere — everything off my dressers, off my bookcases, my kitchen cupboard. Just broken glass everywhere.”
Philip Peterson was in a multistory building in downtown Anchorage as the structure swayed and coffee mugs fell from tables and tiles from the ceiling.
“I just jumped under my desk and had to ride it out,” Peterson said.
Authorities don’t have firm figures on damage yet, though the Anchorage Police Department reported “major infrastructure damage” around the city. Helicopters and drones were assessing infrastructure across the region. There were no reports of missing people, authorities saidala.
People walk along a road in Wasilla after Friday's earthquake.

Alaska Regional Hospital and Providence Alaska Medical Center suffered damage but were able to keep emergency rooms open.
The Anchorage School District canceled classes Monday and Tuesday to assess damage.
Gov. Bill Walker has issued a disaster declaration.
The 7.0 earthquake was felt up to 400 miles away, said state seismologist Michael West. He called it the most significant earthquake in Anchorage since 1964.