Reporters thought this video was N. Korea propaganda. It came from the White House.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Reporters thought this video was North Korea propaganda. It came from the White House.

June 12 at 3:45 PM
 4:16
Watch the video shown before the Trump-Kim news conference

Before the news conference President Trump held at the end of his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a propaganda-style film was played. 

Reporters crowded into a Singapore auditorium Tuesday, expecting President Trump to walk out and announce the results of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Suddenly, two huge screens on either side of the empty podium came to life. Soaring music boomed over the speakers, and the reporters were bombarded with a montage portraying North Korea as some sort of paradise.
Golden sunrises, gleaming skylines and high-speed trains. Children skipping through Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang. North Korean flags fluttering between images of Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Lincoln Memorial.
In a split-screen shot, Kim Jong Un waved to an adoring crowd while President Trump stood beside him with his thumb in the air. The pair appeared over and over again, like running mates in a campaign video.
The film went on like this for more than four minutes, with brief interludes of missiles, soldiers and warships interrupting the pageantry. Some journalists, unable to understand the Korean-language narration, assumed they were watching one of Pyongyang’s infamous propaganda films. “What country are we in?” asked a reporter from the filing center.

Andrew Beatty

@AndrewBeatty

They are playing a propaganda video before Trump presser. Not kidding. What is happening??!!

But then the video looped, playing this time in English. And then Trump walked onto the stage and confirmed what some had already realized.
The film was not North Korean propaganda. It had been made in America, by or on the orders of his White House, for the benefit of Kim.
“I hope you liked it,” Trump told the reporters. “I thought it was good. I thought it was interesting enough to show. … And I think he loved it.”
The crowd sounded skeptical. Some wondered if Trump had not, in fact, just provided U.S.-sanctioned propaganda to one of the country’s oldest adversaries.
But as the president explained it, the video was more like an elevator pitch. It was the type of glitzy production that Trump might have once used to persuade investors to finance his hotels, and now hoped could persuade one of the most repressive regimes in the world to disarm its nuclear weapons and end nearly 70 years of international isolation and militant hostility to the United States.
The nearly five-minute movie even had its own Hollywood-style vanity logo: “A Destiny Pictures Production,” though a film company by the same name in Los Angeles denied any involvement in making it, and the White House has not yet responded to questions about it.

“Of those alive today, only a small number will leave a lasting impact,” the narrator said near the beginning, as alternating shots of Trump, Kim and North Korean pageantry flashed on the screen. “And only a very few will make decisions or take actions to renew their homeland, or change the course of history.”
The message was clear: Kim had a decision to make. Then the film progressed from grim black-and-white shots of the United States’ 1950s-era war with North Korea into a montage of rose-colored parades and gold-tinted clouds.
“The past doesn’t have to be the future,” the narrator said. “What if a people that share a common and rich heritage can find a common future?”
The same technique repeated even more dramatically a minute later in the film, when the footage seemed to melt into a horror montage of war planes and missiles bearing down on North Korean cities — much like the apocalyptic propaganda videos Pyongyang had produced just a few months ago, when Kim and Trump sounded as if they were on the brink of nuclear war.

But in Trump’s film, the destruction rewound itself. The missiles flew back into to their launchers, and a science fiction-like version of North Korea took its place — one of crane-dotted skylines, crowded highways, computerized factories and drones, all presided over by a waving, grinning Kim.
“You can have medical breakthroughs, an abundance of resources, innovative technology and new discoveries,” the narrator said, the footage more and more resembling a Hollywood movie trailer as it built to its finale:
“Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un in a meeting to remake history,” the narrator concluded, as Korean words flashed on a black background: “It is going to become a reality?”

Zeke Miller

@ZekeJMiller

Haven’t seen this before: Before POTUS comes out for press conference, WH shows a Michael Bay-esque video showing Trump and Kim, military weapons, bombs

The reporters had many questions.
“Do you now see Kim Jong Un as an equal?” asked a Time magazine correspondent.
“In what way?” Trump asked.
“You just showed a video that showed you and Kim Jong Un on equal footing, and discussing the future of the country.”
The president may have misunderstood the question, as he referred in his answer to his closed-door talks and a few carefully negotiated photo ops with Kim — not the U.S.-made video that presented the totalitarian autocrat as a hero.
“If I have to say I’m sitting on a stage with Chairman Kim and that gets us to save 30 million lives — it could be more than that — I’m willing to sit on a stage, I’m willing to travel to Singapore, very proudly,” Trump said.
“Are you concerned the video you just showed could be used by Kim as propaganda, to show him as …”
Trump cut the question off. “No, I’m not concerned at all. We can use that video for other countries.”
The president was more talkative when discussing how Kim had reacted to the video, which Trump had presumably played for him during a brief, private meeting hours earlier.
“We didn’t have a big screen like you have the luxury of having,” Trump said. “We didn’t need it, because we had it on cassette, uh, an iPad.
“And they played it. About eight of their representatives were watching it, and I thought they were fascinated by it. I thought it was well done. I showed it to you because that’s the future. I mean, that could very well be the future. And the other alternative is just not a very good alternative. It’s just not good.”
International reviews of the video were decidedly mixed.
“Schlocky” — Vanity Fair.
“Odd.” — The Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“One observer dismissed it as ‘a word salad topped with gratuitous appeasement of a monstrous regime,'” the South China Morning Post reported.
The Daily Mail noted that as the narrator described North Korea’s glorious future of  technology and international investment, the video showed stock footage of the Miami Beach shoreline, not far from a Trump-owned hotel. The Spectator called the whole sequence “real-estate politik” — which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“The text reads like some godawful martial-arts movie trailer crossed with a corporate advertisement for an ambitious construction project,” Freddy Gray wrote for the British newspaper. “But clearly, in some peculiar way, it works.”
The president acknowledged that some of the film’s imagery may seem far-fetched. North Korea is mired in poverty, internationally isolated, and has been mismanaged for decades by a family of dictators — Kim, his father and grandfather.
“That was done at the highest level of future development,” Trump told the reporters in Singapore, as if he had just offered Kim a multi-tiered vacation package. “I told him, you may not want this. You may want to do a much smaller version. … You may not want that, with the trains and everything.”
He waved his hands. “You know, with super everything, to the top. It’s going to be up to them.”
And then, in his usual style, Trump was thinking out loud about the “great condos” that might one day be built on the “great beaches” of North Korea.
“I explained it,” he said. “You could have the best hotels in the world. Think of it from the real estate perspective.”
As the screens above Trump emphasized, he certainly had.
Anne Gearan, Min Joo Kim and Philip Rucker contributed to this r

Charles Krauthammer ‘Only A Few Weeks Left To Live’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Charles Krauthammer Pens Final Column: ‘Only A Few Weeks Left To Live’

“This is the final verdict. My fight is over,” the Washington Post columnist wrote.
X

In his final column for The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer announced he has only weeks to live.

Krauthammer explained he’s spent most of the last year recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his abdomen.

Although the operation was initially thought to have been successful, Krauthammer said he’s been fighting “a cascade of secondary complications” ever since.

FNC

“It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health,” he wrote.

However, the cancer returned and is spreading rapidly.

“My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over,” he wrote.

Krauthammer said he is ”grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.”

He added:

I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

In a separate column, the Post’s editorial staff honored Krauthammer, saying, “His unsparing judgments were cheered by some readers while angering others. But few could disagree that he wrote a column of breathtaking range and intelligence and integrity.”

Krauthammer graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1975 even after suffering a diving accident as a freshmen that left him paralyzed for the rest of his life, according to Fox News.

He switched to journalism in the early 1980s after spending some time writing speeches for Walter Mondale.

Krauthammer became a columnist for The Washington Post in 1985 and won a Pulitzer Prize two years later.

Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire includes Fox News, responded to Krauthammer’s column with a tribute tweet, saying the pundit’s “always principled stand on the most important issues of our time has been a guiding star in an often turbulent world.”

Fox News

@FoxNews

A statement from Rupert Murdoch on Charles Krauthammer’s cancer diagnosis. https://fxn.ws/2xVqH3d 

 

Asteroid on Course to Earth Was Spotted Just Hours Before It Hit The Atmosphere

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Asteroid on Course to Earth Was Spotted Just Hours Before It Hit The Atmosphere

Surprise!

ALEX HORTON, THE WASHINGTON POST
5 JUN 2018

Witnesses reported a fireball streaking across the sky above Botswana on Saturday night.

The asteroid hurtling toward Earth at 10 miles (16 km) a second looked like it could be the harbinger of catastrophe. A webcam in a rural area west of Johannesburg captured it, showing a luminous orb igniting the sky in a bright flash.

NASA had only discovered the asteroid on Saturday and determined it was on a collision course for the planet, charted for entry in a vast expanse from Southern Africa and across the Indian Ocean to New Guinea and given the name 2018 LA.

The reality of the asteroid’s fiery end was less dramatic than the video shows. The asteroid was estimated at just six feet (1.8 metres) across, otherwise known as boulder-sized, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.

It burned up “several miles” above the Earth’s surface.

NASA and space enthusiasts do not get many opportunities like this. Asteroid 2018 LA was only the third asteroid discovered on an impact trajectory, the agency said, and just the second time a high probability of impact was determined ahead of time.

The last predicted impact was asteroid 2014 AA, and it too was discovered only hours before it entered the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day in 2014, NASA said.

“[T]his real-world event allows us to exercise our capabilities and gives some confidence our impact prediction models are adequate to respond to the potential impact of a larger object,” said Lindley Johnson, an official at NASA’s Planetary Defense team, which tracks and warns of asteroids that may pose a threat to the planet.

KFDLE7J3A4ZMJHHOSXVO67EJUAThe discovery observations of Asteroid 2018 LA. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/CSS-Univ. of Arizona)

Asteroids are small remnants of violent collisions in the solar system’s history and formed around 4.5 billion years ago.

They are typically composed of rock-forming minerals like olivine and pyroxene but often contain iron and nickel, NASA said.

The Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter contains hundreds of thousands of asteroids more than half a mile in size or more, with millions of smaller objects tumbling in space.

Asteroid 2018 LA was first discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey operated by the University of Arizona, the agency said. NASA linked to the video in its statement, and the publisher said on YouTube the video is from his father’s South African farm.

NASA relies on a patchwork of observers to track what it calls near-Earth asteroids, the agency explained in a video.

Constantly scanning telescopes capture images of the sky and movement through photos over time triggers a comparison of known objects in a database.

If the object is unknown, the agency will review the object and expedite the analysis if experts determine it will streak close to the Earth. Astronomers from NASA, other space agencies and even amateur enthusiasts then join in to refine the trajectory.

2018 © The Washington Post

This article was originally published by The Washington Post.

Trump again expresses regret for choosing Jeff Sessions as attorney general

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(opinion)(Donald Trump is a far bigger crook and traitor than even Richard Nixon!)(oldpoet56)

Trump again expresses regret for choosing Jeff Sessions as attorney general

 0:40
Trump: Sessions made ‘a very terrible mistake for the country’

President Trump on April 9 said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake for the country” by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. 

May 30 at 10:57 AM
President Trump said Wednesday that he wished he had picked someone other than Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, renewing a slight of the former senator who recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
In morning tweets, Trump quoted Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who during a Wednesday morning television interview on CBS voiced sympathy for Trump’s past expressions of frustration with Sessions’s recusal from the inquiry.
“If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too,” Gowdy said, according to Trump’s tweets. “There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!”
After that, Trump added, in his own voice: “And I wish I did!”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment about Trump’s assessment of Sessions. As president, Trump has the power to end Sessions’s employment at any time.


President Trump walks from the Oval Office across the South Lawn to board Marine One at the White House on Tuesday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Sessions, one of Trump’s biggest boosters during the 2016 campaign, recused himself in March 2017 from any investigations related to the campaign. The announcement came a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions had twice met with Sergey Kislyak, the U.S. ambassador to the United States, during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.
Career lawyers at the Justice Department had advised Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, to step aside, citing ethics guidelines about impartiality and his role as a prominent Trump supporter.
Since then, Trump has repeatedly berated Sessions for his decision, at one point last summer calling it “very unfair” to him.
The New York Times reported Tuesday night that Trump, during a meeting at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida shortly after Sessions’s announcement, lambasted Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, but Sessions refused.
Since that encounter, Trump has called Sessions “beleaguered,” among other derogatory terms, and questioned why the Justice Department has not been as aggressive about investigating Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as it has his campaign.
Associates have said that Trump believes that if Sessions had not recused himself, a special counsel never would have been appointed to investigate possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
Trump’s response to the inquiry also has raised the possibility of obstruction of justice charges, which special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating.
Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after Sessions recused himself.
Trump’s tweets Wednesday come as he and his lawyers have been seeking to discredit Mueller’s investigation and have cast doubt on whether Trump will voluntarily submit to an interview by Mueller’s team.
On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said that he will not agree to an interview until prosecutors allow the president’s legal team to review documents related to the FBI’s use of a source to interact with members of Trump’s campaign.
In a separate television interview on Tuesday night, Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI was justified in using a secret informant to assist in the Russia investigation — an assessment at odds with Trump’s recent complaints that it amounted to illegal spying.
Gowdy attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week about the FBI’s use of the confidential source, identified as Stefan A. Halper, a former university professor.
Trump’s tweets Wednesday did not mention Gowdy’s comments about the informant.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Rep.Trey Gowdy, “I don’t think so, I think what the President is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward. If I were the President and I picked someone to be the country’s….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘oh by the way I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office, I would be frustrated too…and that’s how I read that – Senator Sessions, why didn’t you tell me before I picked you…..

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” And I wish I did!

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

2 Citizens With Legal Guns Stop A Massacre At A Oklahoma City Restaurant

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Jennifer Stong hugs Tasha Hunt outside the scene of a shooting on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman, via AP)

A man who believed he had been under demonic attacks drove to an Oklahoma restaurant and indiscriminately fired at a crowd, injuring three people, authorities say.

Alexander C. Tilghman, 28, was shot and killed by two citizens minutes after he arrived Thursday evening at Louie’s Grill & Bar, a lakeside restaurant in Oklahoma City, police spokesman Capt. Bo Mathews said. Tilghman stood at the restaurant’s entrance with a handgun and fired from the door before two men shot him, putting an end to “a very dangerous situation,” Mathews told reporters at a news conference Friday.

“You can say they are heroes, which is a very good thing to say … Heroes is a great terminology. I just say they were two people who stopped a very tragic situation from going any further,” Mathews said.

The two citizens, Carlos Nazario, 35, and Bryan Wittle, 39, were not armed, but they rushed to the trunks of their vehicles to grab their handguns as Tilghman began shooting. The two men will probably not face any charges because they were protecting other people’s lives, Mathews told reporters.

Three people, 39-year-old Natalie Giles and two girls, were shot but are in good condition, police said. A fourth person broke his arm amid the chaos.

The shooting appears to be a random act of violence, police said.

“It doesn’t look like he knew anybody at the restaurant. He didn’t work at the restaurant … This is an ongoing investigation. That could change,” Mathews said.

The shooting happened amid what has become a national epidemic of high-profile shootings. Just a week earlier, a gunman killed 10 and wounded at least 10 others at a Texas high school. On Friday, a middle school student opened fire inside an Indiana classroom, wounding a classmate and a teacher, who swatted the gun out of his hand. A Washington Post analysis found that since 1999, shootings during school hours have killed at least 141 students, educators and other people, with another 284 injured.

The incident at the Oklahoma restaurant energized the National Rifle Association, which immediately seized on the moment Friday, saying the actions of the two men are “just another example of how the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

NRA

@NRA

✅ An saved multiple lives last night in . We hope this serves as a wake-up call for @GovMaryFallin, who just two weeks ago vetoed a constitutional carry bill. Just another example of how the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

The powerful lobbying group also criticized Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who had vetoed a permit-less carry bill despite pressure from gun-rights advocates in the gun-friendly state.

The bill, which Oklahoma’s House and Senate overwhelmingly passed, would have allowed gun owners who are at least 21 years old and military service members or veterans who are at least 18 years old to carry firearms, concealed or unconcealed, without a permit. A dozen other states have constitutional carry laws.

In a statement announcing her veto on May 11, Fallin, a Republican, pointed to two aspects of the bill: It would have eliminated the requirement for firearms safety training and would have reduced the level of background checks.

Fallin said she supports the right to own and carry firearms, openly or concealed, but that the bill would not allow law enforcement to distinguish between those who have been trained and vetted to carry guns and those who have not.

Tilghman, the restaurant shooter, does not have an extensive history with police, whose last contact with him was in 2003. Mathews said he’s not aware of any “mental health problems,” though he added that “in an act like this, you would have to assume that he probably had a little bit of mental illness.”

Several videos on social media show a pattern of troubling behavior. Seven months before the shooting, Tilghman posted a Facebook video saying “Satan has taken over” his television. In the 36-minute clip, Tilghman can be heard flipping through random channels, at one point saying the demonic episodes were “a lot worse” than before.

In another video shared by KOCO 5 News, Tilghman said that he’s “been going through a lot of demonic attacks recently,” and that he has not heard “from any real people.”

In a 22-second video circulating on Twitter, Tilghman talked about “transsexual clones.”

Fox affiliate KOKH reported that Tilghman had posted videos of himself in a local zoo, talking about a demon-possessed squirrel that he said had been following him. Weeks before the shooting, Tilghman recorded a video near Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner and claimed that Satan was making the sounds of driving cars louder.

A man who was not named but said he is Tilghman’s brother told KOCO 5 News that the shooting would have been avoided had Tilghman received the help he needed.

“Nobody reached out to him, you know. He was crying for me. I was like the only one, and a few other people. This tragedy could’ve been avoided. Me and my whole family and even his friends all thought that he should be put into a behavioral unit,” the man said, speaking to a reporter through a closed window of a home.

It’s unclear whether Tilghman had access to mental health treatment.

Read more:

Students: Teacher swatted guns away, tackled accused school shooter while suffering 3 gunshot wounds

Two Florida sheriff’s deputies shot to death through restaurant window

The terrible numbers that grow with each mass shooting

More states are allowing people to carry concealed handguns without a permit

Trump And Pence Both Lying About School Safety Budget

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 1:22
Fact Checker | Has the administration obtained $2 billion for ‘school safety’?

President Trump and Vice President Pence have been touting their commitment to school safety, but the numbers don’t add up. 

“Thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re already providing nearly $2 billion more in help to local governments to ensure security at our schools and the safety of our students. It represents the single largest investment in school safety in American history.”
— Vice President Pence, in remarks in Indianapolis, May 18, 2018

“I recently signed legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, including the funding for training, and metal detectors, and security and mental health.”
— President Trump, in remarks to the National Rifle Association, Dallas, Texas, May 4

We first spotted Vice President Pence’s claim of “nearly $2 billion” in funding for school safety but then realized that President Trump had offered a more grandiose statement of “more than $2 billion” during his speech to the NRA.

With yet another deadly school shooting, this time in Santa Fe, Tex., it seems appropriate to figure whether these numbers are real. Pence touted it as the “single largest investment to school safety in American history” and attributed it “to the president’s leadership.”

The Facts

The funding is contained in the omnibus spending package signed into law in March — a bill that the president said he was “unhappy” with. He threatened a veto and then signed it anyway, but promised he would “never sign another bill like this again.”

The vice president’s office directed us to the White House Office and Management and Budget for a detailed explanation of “nearly $2 billion” in funding. An OMB senior adviser provided a list of programs that added up to $1.7 billion, which means that according to the White House’s own accounting the president was exaggerating when he said “more than $2 billion.”

But upon inspection, the vice president is exaggerating too. The biggest part of the figure — $1.1 billion — is for a school grants program that is only tenuously connected to school safety.

The program, Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE), is a block grant, also known as Title IV-A, signed into law by President Barack Obama, with an authorized level of $1.6 billion a year. At least 20 percent of the funds are supposed to be used for “safe and healthy students,” which ranges from school-based mental health programs and suicide prevention to better health and safety practices in athletic programs.

This is what is supposed to represent “school safety” and “security at schools.” At best the administration could claim $220 million of the $1.1 billion appropriation for school security, but frankly that’s a stretch.

Under the law, the grants are also supposed to be used for “well-rounded educational opportunities” — such as bolstering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education — and “effective use of technology” in increasing academic achievement. No more than 15 percent of the money can be spent on buying “technology infrastructure.”

Indeed, language in the House Appropriations Committee report and the omnibus explanatory statement published in the Congressional Record shows that Congress expected that much of this money would be spent on STEM education, especially computer science training for “underrepresented students such as minorities, girls, and youth from families living at or below the poverty line.”

That doesn’t sound like school security at all.

The OMB official defended attributing all the money to school security because the Education Department estimates “a significant majority of the districts will receive under $30,000, meaning they will have no restrictions on how they can allocate funds.” He added: “The program was designed to be very flexible with the intention of meeting local needs. Since we do not know if districts intend to seek waivers, we have stated that ‘up to $1.1 billion is available for school safety needs.’”

Kirsten Stewart, director of public policy at advocacy group Futures without Violence, a member of the Title IV-A Coalition, says other estimates indicate a “a good percentage” of school districts will exceed the $30,000 threshold, requiring guidelines to be followed. She said it is not clear how the money has been spent in the past because schools are only due to receive 2017 funding by September. The money in the $1.1 billion appropriation will not reach schools until September 2019.

There’s another fishy aspect to Pence and Trump bragging about the SSAE grants. The Trump administration has repeatedly insisted the program should be eliminated, even just weeks before the passage of the omnibus legislation in its 2019 budget proposal. In 2018, SSAE received funding of almost $400 million, but Trump proposed to zero it out, arguing “it duplicates activities that may be supported by other Federal programs as well as state, local, and private funding.”

Congress simply ignored the administration’s objections and even boosted the annual funding by $700 million.

A tip-off that the administration was not happy about this development is that in its official Statement of Administration Policy on the omnibus bill, issued March 22, the OMB made no mention of the SSAE grants when it applauded money in the bill to improve school safety. Instead, it mentioned the inclusion of the STOP School Violence Act, which earned a $75 million appropriation in 2019, and a few other programs in the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice.

(The $75 million for the STOP School Violence Act came from funds already appropriated for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, a program developed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, that the Trump administration also sought to end funding for in 2019.)

Note that Pence claimed the funding was “thanks to the president’s leadership.” That’s akin to a student on a group project in high school who repeatedly badmouths the group’s agenda, even to the point of refusing to do any work — and then tries to claim credit after the project earned kudos from the teacher.

The other items on the OMB list are a grab-bag of items totaling about $500 million, such as $71 million for Project AWARE, to increase awareness of mental health issues among youth, $94 million for peer-to-peer mentoring of at-risk youths and $24 million to prevent gang violence.

There’s also $90 million for “school safety national activities,” but that’s mostly aimed at training teachers on how to improve student behavior. That’s also higher than the administration requested; for 2019, the administration wants to cut the funding to $42 million and turn the focus on the opioid crisis.

We would argue that some of these programs have little to do with school security, especially in the context of school shootings. But in any case, even under the most generous accounting, it doesn’t come close to $2 billion.

The OMB did not respond to repeated questions about how it determined this was the largest investment in school safety in U.S. history. Given how the other numbers were fudged, this is also rather dubious.

The Pinocchio Test

On either side of $2 billion, Pence and Trump have been rather misleading with the funding for school security in the omnibus bill. More than 60 percent of the money comes from a pot that is mostly devoted to a well-rounded education or technology, not school safety — and it’s an Obama-era program the administration wanted to zero out. The administration’s spin earns Four Pinocchios.

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Mike Pence
Vice President
“Thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re already providing nearly $2 billion more in help to local governments to ensure security at our schools and the safety of our students. It represents the single largest investment in school safety in American history.”
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Donald Trump
President
“I recently signed legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, including the funding for training, and metal detectors, and security and mental health.”
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He Took His Family To Lunch Then Rammed Them With His Car, Killing Two

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

He took his family to lunch, left the table and rammed them with his car, killing two, police say

 May 21 at 4:09 AM 
 1:32
Father accused of crashing his car into a restaurant, killing his daughter

According to police, Roger Self intentionally rammed his car into a restaurant in Bessemer City, N.C., May 20, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law. 

The Sunday lunch rush was underway at the Surf and Turf Lodge in Bessemer City, N.C., a restaurant about 30 miles west of Charlotte. Inside the rustic eatery with wooden plank walls, Roger Self, a former police officer turned private investigator, was eating appetizers with his family. Around noon, the 62-year-old got up from the table. The family thought he was going to the restroom, the Gaston Gazette later reported.
Moments later, waiter Brandon Wilson was heading to check on the table when a sound shattered the dining room.
“I saw a white Jeep just fly past my face,” Wilson told the Gazette. “It was so unreal. I saw chairs and tables and cups just flying everywhere. It just sounded like a tornado.”
With Self behind the wheel, the car blasted through the restaurant’s log cabin facade, punching into the heart of the building and colliding with the table where Self’s family was sitting, police said. Through curtains of dust, patrons and employees saw some people still pinned beneath the wreckage. “I helped paramedics move tables off this dude, and I moved debris out of the way so they could get to him,” a busboy told WSOC.
On Sunday afternoon, police confirmed that two people were killed in the crash. But the deaths were not the result of an accident, police said. They allege that Self intentionally drove his car into the building.
Self was taken into custody and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. According to WSOC, one of those killed was Self’s daughter, Katelyn Self, 26, a deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office. The other victim has been identified as Amanda Self, Roger Self’s daughter-in-law, who was an emergency room nurse and the mother of two, the station reported. Three others were injured, including Amanda Self’s 13-year-old daughter, according to the Gazette.
Roger Self has not filed a plea. No lawyer representing him could be located.
“He drove his car into the building, killing people, so that’s why we took him into custody immediately,” Bessemer City Police Chief Thomas Ellis Jr. told reporters at a brief news conference on Sunday afternoon. But authorities have offered little insight into why a father would run down his family members.
“This is a hard time,” Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger said at the news conference. “All I would ask is for people to keep the family in your prayers, and also the sheriff’s office. Because we’re suffering a little bit right now.”
According to the Gaston Gazette, Roger Self arrived at the restaurant with his family, including Katelyn Self; Amanda Self; Amanda’s husband, Josh, a Gaston County police officer; Josh and Amanda’s 13-year-old daughter; and Roger Self’s wife, Diane. The group was beginning to eat when Roger Self left the table.
Self, however, allegedly returned behind the wheel of his Jeep.

Roger Self. (Gaston County Sheriff’s Office/AP)

“It was chaotic, dust everywhere,” a waiter recounted to the Gazette. “The woman died in my manager’s arms.”
Self joined the Gastonia Police Department in the 1970s, according to a 2017 profile in the Gazette. Eventually, he jumped into private investigations, specializing in loss prevention for stores and corporate clients. “My skill is learning how to gather information, getting someone to talk with me,” Self told the paper.
But in recent months, Self had been wrestling with mental illness, Austin Rammell, a pastor at Venture Church, told WSOC. A family friend for 16 years, he told the station that Self was beset by anxiety, depression and mental breakdowns. Sometimes he would go days without leaving his bed, Rammell said.
“He’s been taking precautions. He had all the guns removed from his house, so he was making steps that were rational steps.”
The family was aware of Self’s battles, Rammell said.
“Family has been loving him through this,” the pastor said. “This was not a conscious act by their father, and they know that.”

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Border Patrol agent detained two U.S. citizens after hearing them speak Spanish

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

A Border Patrol agent detained two U.S. citizens at a gas station after hearing them speak Spanish

 May 20 at 5:45 PM 
 1:50
Border Patrol agent in Montana stops two U.S. citizens for speaking Spanish

Ana Suda recorded an interaction she had with a border patrol agent who stopped her for speaking Spanish in Havre, Mont., on May 16. 

A Montana woman said she plans to take legal action after a Border Patrol agent detained and questioned her and a friend — both U.S. citizens — when he overheard them speaking Spanish at a gas station.
The incident occurred early Wednesday morning at a convenience store in Havre, Mont., a town in the northern part of the state, near the border with Canada.
Ana Suda said she and her friend, Mimi Hernandez, were making a midnight run to the store to pick up eggs and milk. Both are Mexican American and speak fluent Spanish, and they had exchanged some words in Spanish while waiting in line to pay when a uniformed Border Patrol agent interrupted them, Suda said.
“We were just talking, and then I was going to pay,” Suda told The Washington Post. “I looked up [and saw the agent], and then after that, he just requested my ID. I looked at him like, ‘Are you serious?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, very serious.’ ”
Suda said she felt uncomfortable and began recording the encounter with her cellphone after they had moved into the parking lot. In the video Suda recorded, she asks the agent why he is detaining them, and he says it is specifically because he heard them speaking Spanish.
“Ma’am, the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here, and I saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here,” the agent can be heard saying in the video.
Suda asks whether they are being racially profiled; the agent says no.
“It has nothing to do with that,” the agent tells her. “It’s the fact that it has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store, in a state where it’s predominantly English-speaking.”

Suda, 37, was born in El Paso and raised across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, but has spent much of her adult life moving around the United States with her husband and young daughter. Hernandez is originally from central California, Suda said.
Despite explaining this to the agent and showing him their IDs, Suda said, he kept them in the parking lot for 35 to 40 minutes. Though no one raised their voices in the video, Suda said she and Hernandez were left shaken and upset by the encounter, which ended around 1 a.m.
“I was so embarrassed … being outside in the gas station, and everybody’s looking at you like you’re doing something wrong. I don’t think speaking Spanish is something criminal, you know?” Suda said. “My friend, she started crying. She didn’t stop crying in the truck. And I told her, we are not doing anything wrong.”
When she got home, Suda posted on Facebook about what had taken place at the gas station. She said her shock began to give way to sadness in the following days, after some local news outlets reported the incident, and her 7-year-old daughter asked whether the video meant they should no longer speak Spanish in public.
“She speaks Spanish, and she speaks English,” Suda said. “When she saw the video, she was like, ‘Mom, we can’t speak Spanish anymore?’ I said ‘No. You be proud. You are smart. You speak two languages.’ This is more for her.”

A representative from U.S. Customs and Border Protection told The Post the agency is reviewing the incident to ensure all appropriate policies were followed. Border Patrol agents are trained to decide to question individuals based on a variety of factors, the agency added.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and officers are committed to treating everyone with professionalism, dignity and respect while enforcing the laws of the United States,” the agency said. “Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, agents have broad law enforcement authorities and are not limited to a specific geography within the United States. They have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”
Havre is a rural town with a population of about 10,000, about 35 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border. Border Patrol agents have broad authority to operate within 100 miles of any U.S. border, though they cannot initiate stops without reasonable suspicion of an immigration violation or crime.
Suda said she is used to seeing Border Patrol agents in Havre because it’s so close to Canada, especially at gas stations, but had never been stopped before.
“It’s a nice town. I don’t think it’s a confrontational [population] here,” Suda said. “But now I feel like if I speak Spanish, somebody is going to say something to me. It’s different after something like this because you start thinking and thinking.”
Suda said she plans to contact the American Civil Liberties Union to seek legal guidance. ACLU representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
“I just don’t want this to happen anymore,” Suda said. “I want people to know they have the right to speak whatever language they want. I think that’s the most important part, to help somebody else.”

He promised people paradise — and sent them to their deaths

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

He promised people paradise — and sent them to their deaths

In September 1822, about 250 largely impoverished Scots uprooted their lives to embark on what appeared to be the journey of a lifetime, sailing to a prosperous Central American country called Poyais to start anew.

But rather than finding a land overflowing with vegetation, livestock, workable soil and opportunities galore as they were promised, “Poyais” was a barren nightmare of unfarmable land and hostile natives. Expecting to build new and better lives, they had instead fallen victim to one of the most audacious and deadly swindles in history, one that most didn’t survive.

The new book “Hoax: A History of Deception” by Ian Tattersall and Peter Nevraumont (Black Dog & Leventhal), out now, features 50 tales of frauds and cons from throughout history. Perhaps none, though, was more brazen than Gregor MacGregor’s Poyais scam.

MacGregor, a descendant of famed Scottish hero Rob Roy, was a warrior who had fought on Venezuela’s behalf during their war for independence.

“He had a very high public profile,” Tattersall says. “He had great military credentials stemming from his time as a mercenary in South America. He was a person of impeccable credentials . . . with an aura of authority about him.”

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Gregor MacGregorGetty Images

In the early 1820s, upon returning from battle, MacGregor claimed he had been made prince of a territory called Poyais, near the Honduran coast, and that it was perfect for new settlers. He began selling bonds to help develop the area, as well as plots of Poyaisian land and packages that included promises of employment there. While he had been there and did own the land in question, “Poyais” and his title were fictions he invented.

Between hard economic times in Scotland and MacGregor’s sterling reputation, Poyais could not have sounded more inviting to impoverished Scots.

“He told them it was a land of milk and honey where you could get several harvests of crops a year, and there were gold nuggets in the river and game abounding on the landscape,” says Tattersall. “He really made it sound like a nirvana.”

MacGregor convinced seven shiploads of Scots to tear up their lives and relocate, raising around 200,000 pounds in the process, the equivalent of around $25 million in current US dollars.

The first two ships departed for Poyais in September 1822, carrying around 250 passengers total on a two-month journey. The Guardian newspaper reported the following in October 1823: “When the emigrants arrived at [Honduras], nothing could exceed their anguish at finding, where they expected a fine flourishing town with nearly 2,000 inhabitants, only two or three ruined huts.”

Despondent but trapped, the settlers tried to build a town and plant crops, but they had no resources. The soil was unsuitable and there was scant livestock, leaving them little access to food.

Over the next two years, most of the 250 residents died.

“[One of the] particularly heart-wrenching things was an account in the newspaper of a shoemaker called Hellie who shot himself, having been promised the position of shoemaker to the Princess of Poyais, and then finding nothing when he got there,” Tattersall says. “That sort of experience was repeated over and over again with, like, 200 people.”

Why he took these people’s lives and transported them to this insect-infested hell, nobody really understands

A small group of survivors (there is no record of how many — Tattersall guesses “a couple dozen at most”) were eventually rescued by a passing timber trading boat and brought to Belize. By this point, five more Scottish ships filled with people had embarked toward Poyais. Word of the catastrophe got back to Scotland, and the Royal Navy was sent to recall the ships.

Making the tragedy especially senseless was that MacGregor sold his scam bonds and plots in several stages, and had already brought in a fortune before the first ships sailed. He could have easily absconded with his ill-gotten gains and not destroyed all those lives.

“He did this bond scam, then organized the expedition. Why he took these people’s lives and transported them to this insect-infested hell, nobody really understands,” Tattersall says.

When word of the hoax spread throughout Scotland, MacGregor fled to France, where he immediately attempted a similar scam. He was arrested but eventually acquitted. He tried other cons over the next decade, then relocated to Venezuela, where he was regarded a returning hero. He lived there until his death in 1845 at age 58.

Even after profiling 50 fraudsters in his book, Tattersall says he can’t begin to comprehend what might have driven MacGregor to such behavior, especially given that the Scot could have become extremely wealthy from his crime without causing so much tragedy.

“The only suggestion that makes any sense is that he came to believe his own propaganda [about Poyais],” Tattersall says. “It seems unbelievable that [he] could do something so cynical, heartless and unfeeling. It is not a dynamic I could possibly understand.”

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Killer dust storm blasts India, leaving at least 125 dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

‘It was a nightmare’: Killer dust storm blasts India, leaving at least 125 dead

 May 3 at 2:18 PM 

Severe storms brought flooding, tornadoes and hail across the country April 15, leaving thousands without power and downing buildings. 

Severe winds and rapid-fire lightning strikes from a violent dust storm demolished homes and displaced trees across India on Wednesday, killing at least 125 people and injuring more than 200 others — with more potentially deadly weather still to come, officials said.

At least 111 people were killed in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, with many of them in Agra, the city that houses the Taj Mahal, according to BBC News and Agence France-Presse.

Another 14 people were killed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, “which was hammered by more than 41,000 lightning strikes on Wednesday,” AFP reported.

Homes and businesses now lay in rubble littered with downed trees and electrical lines.

Livestock are dead. Schools are closed.

And residents are bracing for another storm that’s predicted to strike in a few days: The Indian Express reported early Thursday that Indian Meteorological Department scientist Himanshu Sharma warned of another round of dangerous weather likely to strike the area.

“There is a high probability that winds will intensify in the next 48 hours in Rajasthan, which may lead to another dust storm,” he told the Press Trust of India. “It will affect areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan border, especially Karauli and Dholpur.”

The majority of the deaths were in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in the north.

The death toll in Rajasthan soared past three dozen, and the number may continue to climb, according to the Indian Express. The worst damage was in the Bharatpur district, according to the newspaper. “Most of the deaths occurred after walls and roofs of houses collapsed in the middle of the night,” T. Ravikanth, the district divisional commissioner in the state capital, Jaipur, told CNN.

Dust storms have hit India in the past, but officials said what made this storm so deadly was the fallen debris.

“Many houses collapsed due to high intensity winds, or the trees fell over onto the houses,” Sanjay Kumar, Uttar Pradesh’s state relief commissioner for the National Disaster Management Authority in India, told CNN, explaining how residents had become trapped and died.

India’s National Disaster Management Authority issued an alert earlier in the week, warning residents about “severe thunderstorm activity” with hail and strong wind gusts in Gangetic West Bengal and Odisha, as well as other areas in eastern and northeastern India — but not specifically Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

“I’ve been in office for 20 years, and this is the worst I’ve seen,” Hemant Gera, secretary for disaster management and relief in Rajasthan, told BBC News about the storm.

“We had a high intensity dust storm on 11 April — 19 people died then — but this time it struck during the night, so many people sleeping and couldn’t get out of their houses when mud walls collapsed.”

Shivam Lohia, who owns a resort hotel in Rajasthan, told AFP that his car was almost blown away in the storm. He abandoned the vehicle on a road, he said, and ran for his life.

“Everyone was scared and running for cover as trees and homes were getting blown away,” Lohia said. “It was a nightmare.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement Thursday that he was “saddened by the loss of lives” and that he has asked state governments to provide assistance to those who need it.

PMO India

@PMOIndia

Saddened by the loss of lives due to dust storms in various parts of India. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.

Have asked officials to coordinate with the respective state governments and work towards assisting those who have been affected: PM

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