Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pope Francis to create 14 new cardinals in June

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Pope Francis has announced that he will make 14 new cardinals next month, among them his chief aide for helping homeless people.

In a surprise announcement to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, Francis said he will raise the 14 to the rank of cardinal in a ceremony on June 29. They include Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, who is known for taking homeless people in Rome on excursions and distributing sleeping bags to the needy during cold spells. The choice highlights this papacy’s priority in helping those on society’s margins.

Other cardinal red hats will go to the head of the Vatican office on doctrinal orthodoxy and another top Holy See official, and prelates in Osaka, Japan, and L’Aquila, Italy, which is still trying to rebuild after a 2009 earthquake.

'FBI plant' in Trump campaign was Cambridge professor, reports say

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University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper has been identified as an FBI informant in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, multiple news outlets reported Saturday.

The 73-year-old academic reportedly has deep ties to American and British intelligence, having served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, the New York Post reported.

President Trump tweeted Friday that confirmation of an FBI plant in his campaign would become the nation’s “all time biggest political scandal.”

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” Trump wrote. “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

The New York Times and Washington Post reportedly have known of Halper’s identity for weeks, but chose not to reveal his name. Then on Thursday, the Daily Caller named Halper in the opening paragraph of its report.

The Washington Post said it received warnings from U.S. officials that revealing Halper’s identity posed a security risk.  

Meanwhile, reports vary on when the FBI tapped Halper to snoop on the Trump campaign.

The New York Times reported in December that during “a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016,” Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had disclosed to an Australian diplomat the Russians had dirt on the Clinton campaign. The Australians then tipped off the FBI, prompting the agency to launch “Crossfire Hurricane” on July 31, 2016.

But Halper met with Page in early July that summer, contradicting the FBI’s claims of when the operation began, while Halper met Carter Page at a British symposium and remained in contact for more than a year.

In August, Halper met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis to offer his experience, the Washington Post reported.

A few days later, Halper reportedly offered Papadopoulos compensation in exchange for writing a paper about energy in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Sources close to Papadopoulos now say Halper was working for an intelligence agency.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.

By May 2017, the “Cross Hurricane” operation had melded with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.  

Halper was implicated in another campaign scandal, when in 1980 he allegedly worked on behalf of the CIA to spy on the Carter campaign to provide information to George H.W. Bush’s campaign.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

North Korean military officer, civilian reportedly defect to the South

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Two North Koreans – a military officer and a civilian – reportedly defected to South Korea early Saturday.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap Nedws Agency, South Korean military personnel spotted the defectors on a boat in the Yellow Sea, between China’s mainland and the Korean Peninsula.  

The defectors showed an apparent willingness to flee the North, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source.

It was the first defection involving a military officer since 2008 and 14th involving a soldier since 2000, DW News reported.  

It also came during a delicate time in inter-Korean diplomacy.

In late April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for a historic summit to discuss the North’s denuclearization and a formal peace treaty.

But North Korea “indefinitely” called off future talks with the South and threatened to cancel a scheduled summit in Singapore with President Donald Trump in response to a routine series of U.S.-South Korea military drills, which the North has repeatedly condemned as a “dress rehearsal” for invasion.

Trump has remained steadfast in his insistence that the U.N. sanctions won’t be lifted unless the North significantly denuclearizes.

In retaliation for the joint military exercises, North Korea barred South Korean journalists from observing the rogue state’s planned closure of nuclear test sites next Friday.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

'FBI plant' in Trump campaign was US-born Cambridge professor, reports say

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American-born University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper has been identified as an FBI plant in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, multiple news outlets reported Saturday.

The 73-year-old academic reportedly has deep ties to American and British intelligence, having served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, the New York Post reported.

President Trump tweeted Friday that confirmation of an FBI plant in his campaign would become the nation’s “all time biggest political scandal.”

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” Trump wrote. “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

The New York Times and Washington Post reportedly have known of Halper’s identity for weeks, but chose not to reveal his name. Then on Thursday, the Daily Caller named Halper in the opening paragraph of its report.

The Washington Post said it received warnings from U.S. officials that revealing Halper’s identity posed a security risk.  

Meanwhile, reports vary on when the FBI tapped Halper to snoop on the Trump campaign.

The New York Times reported in December that during “a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016,” Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had disclosed to an Australian diplomat the Russians had dirt on the Clinton campaign. The Australians then tipped off the FBI, prompting the agency to launch “Crossfire Hurricane” on July 31, 2016.

But Harper met with Page in early July that summer, contradicting the FBI’s claims of when the operation began, while Halper met Carter Page at a British symposium and remained in contact for more than a year.

In August, Harper met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis to offer his experience, the Washington Post reported.

A few days later, Harper reportedly offered Papadopoulos compensation in exchange for writing a paper about energy in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Sources close to Papadopoulos now say Harper was working for an intelligence agency.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.

By May 2017, the “Cross Hurricane” operation had melded with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.  

Halper was implicated in another campaign scandal, when in 1980 he allegedly worked on behalf of the CIA to spy on the Carter campaign to provide information to George H.W. Bush’s campaign.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Insect ambassadors: Honeybees buzz on Berlin cathedral

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On the roof of Berlin’s cathedral, bees are buzzing.

Beekeeper Uwe Marth pulls out a honeycomb produced in the hive he tends beneath the dome of the neo-baroque landmark, a tourist magnet in the German capital — and home to perhaps 30,000 bees. On a warm but windy May day, the insects have been busy feeding on chestnut blossoms, the trees of the Unter den Linden boulevard and flowers on nearby rooftops.

The hive on the riverside Protestant cathedral is one of more than 15 on prominent Berlin buildings that are the brainchild of “Berlin is buzzing!”— an initiative launched in 2010 by biologist Corinna Hoelzer and her husband.

Inspired by an amateur beekeeper who established a bee colony on the roof of a Paris opera house in the 1980s, Hoelzer sought to draw attention to the plight of bees and other insects with prominently placed honeybee colonies.

Bees and other pollinators have been on the decline for more than a decade, and experts blame a combination of factors: insecticides called neonicotinoids or neonics, parasites, disease, climate change and lack of a diverse food supply. A significant part of the human diet comes from plants pollinated by bees — not just honeybees, but hundreds of species of lesser-known wild bees, many of which are endangered.

Sunday is the first World Bee Day — an idea approved by the U.N. General Assembly in December and initiated by beekeepers in another European country, Slovenia. On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged people “to think about biodiversity and do something good for bees” to mark the day, saying in her annual budget speech to parliament that it is “something that perhaps seems a bit small to some people, but is actually really big.”

“Honeybees are a great reference to explain everything else,” Hoelzer says. “Without pollinators, we don’t have a healthy ecosystem.”

Over the past few years, “Berlin is buzzing!” and its sister initiative “Germany is buzzing!” have put up hives and bee “hotels” on buildings including Berlin’s state legislature, a city theater, a planetarium and the German finance ministry, as well as in the park of the German president’s residence.

“Right at the beginning, we had to fight with caretakers because they were afraid they would be stung,” Hoelzer says. “A lot of them have no idea how bees react.”

But such hiccups were quickly overcome. The initiative is now active in 25 German cities, organizing seminars on “bee-friendly gardening” among other activities. And as a small added bonus, honey from Marth’s bees is sold in the cathedral shop several stories below.

While bees are woodland creatures at heart, “they can live up high,” he says. “They only need water and a good supply of food.”

WGMD Fishing Report 5-20-18

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Saturday was almost as nasty as Friday and, to the best of my knowledge, no boats went out on the ocean or bay.

At Lewes Harbour Marina Tom said while no one was out during the day on Saturday, a few boats were planning to try the night drum bite in Delaware Bay.

At Lighthouse View Tackle at the fishing pier on Cape Henlopen State Park the report was nothing happening on the pier or from the beach alongside the pier.  The blues and flounder should return when the weather clears.

Old Inlet Bait and Tackle said a few anglers have been working the beach at night with purple and black SP Minnows and Bombers.  They couldn’t fish on Friday night due to rough seas, but were back out on Saturday night.

At Hook ‘em and Cook ‘em Mike said no one went out to the ocean on Saturday, but they did see two flounder caught in the VFW Slough.  Sea bass fishing has been very good when the boats can sail.  With small craft advisories up, Sunday does not look promising.

This is Eric Burnley with your WGMD fishing report. 


 

FBI plant in Trump campaign was US-born Cambridge professor, reports say

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American-born University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper has been identified as an FBI plant in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, multiple news outlets reported Saturday.

The 73-year-old academic reportedly has deep ties to American and British intelligence, having served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, the New York Post reported.

President Trump tweeted Friday that confirmation of an FBI plant in his campaign would become the nation’s “all time biggest political scandal.”

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” Trump wrote. “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

The New York Times and Washington Post reportedly have known of Halper’s identity for weeks, but chose not to reveal his name. Then on Thursday, the Daily Caller named Halper in the opening paragraph of its report.

The Washington Post said it received warnings from U.S. officials that revealing Halper’s identity posed a security risk.  

Meanwhile, reports vary on when the FBI tapped Halper to snoop on the Trump campaign.

The New York Times reported in December that during “a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016,” Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had disclosed to an Australian diplomat the Russians had dirt on the Clinton campaign. The Australians then tipped off the FBI, prompting the agency to launch “Crossfire Hurricane” on July 31, 2016.

But Harper met with Page in early July that summer, contradicting the FBI’s claims of when the operation began, while Halper met Carter Page at a British symposium and remained in contact for more than a year.

In August, Harper met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis to offer his experience, the Washington Post reported.

A few days later, Harper reportedly offered Papadopoulos compensation in exchange for writing a paper about energy in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Sources close to Papadopoulos now say Harper was working for an intelligence agency.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.

By May 2017, the “Cross Hurricane” operation had melded with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.  

Halper was implicated in another campaign scandal, when in 1980 he allegedly worked on behalf of the CIA to spy on the Carter campaign to provide information to George H.W. Bush’s campaign.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Reports: Islamic State surrendering in Syria's capital

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A Syrian war monitoring group says a cease-fire between government forces and Islamic State militants in the southern neighborhoods of Damascus has held for 24 hours, and that some of the fighters have been allowed to leave.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that buses carrying IS fighters left the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the adjacent al-Tadamon neighborhood overnight. Damascus residents said the situation was calm.

The government has denied reaching an agreement with the militants. Al-Watan, a pro-government newspaper, said the militants are believed to have surrendered.

President Bashar Assad’s forces launched an offensive against the militants a month ago. The capture of the southern neighborhoods would bring the entire capital under government control for the first time since the war began in 2011.

Sudan protests Egyptian serial about terrorists

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Sudan has summoned Egypt’s ambassador to complain about a TV series that portrays Egyptian terrorists living in the neighboring country.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said late Saturday that the Ramadan serial, titled “Abu Omar al-Masry,” is “insulting to Egyptians living in Sudan.” It urged Egypt to “stop attempts at disturbing the interests of the two countries.”

Khartoum appears to have been angered by the idea that Egyptian militants would find refuge in Sudan. Osama bin Laden and other extremists were based in Sudan in the mid-1990s.

Relations have been strained over the past year by Khartoum’s revival of a longstanding border dispute and its perceived support for Ethiopia, which is building a massive upstream dam on the Nile that Egypt fears will cut into its share of the river.

'SNL' imagines Trump and company in famous 'Sopranos' scene

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The season finale of “Saturday Night Live” featured a comedic sketch of President Donald Trump and his associates in a parody of the famous series-ending scene from “The Sopranos.”

The setting of the cold open is Holsten’s Restaurant in New Jersey, with Alec Baldwin’s fake Donald Trump character seated at a booth, just like fictional mobster Tony Soprano.

“Don’t Stop Believing” plays on the table’s juke box.

Then Trump associates enter the diner, just like members of the Soprano family did in the famous episode of the HBO crime drama, which ended in June 2007.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani (played by SNL’s Kate McKinnon) enters first.

“So Rudy, did you go on Fox News last night?” Baldwin’s Trump asks.

“Like, twenty times, yeah,” McKinnon’s Giuliani replies. “Don’t worry, I told them that you openly colluded with Russia, but then I ended with, ‘So what?!’ So it’ll all be fine.”

“Thanks, Rudy,” Baldwin’s Trump says.

This image released by NBC shows Ben Stiller portraying attorney Michael Cohen during an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in New York on Saturday, May 5, 2018. (Will Heath/NBC via AP)

This image released by NBC shows Ben Stiller portraying attorney Michael Cohen during an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in New York on Saturday, May 5, 2018.  (NBC via AP)

Next comes presidential “fixer” Michael Cohen, played by Ben Stiller.

Giuliani: “So, how was work today?”

Cohen: “Ah, you know, really bad, mostly just preparing to go to jail and stuff. They said I might get 20 years, unless I give you up.”

Later, Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr. enters and sits next to Baldwin’s Trump.

Trump: “So, uh, where’s Eric?” 

Trump Jr.: “He’s still parallel-parking outside.”

The camera cuts to Alex Moffat playing Eric Trump, struggling to park a toy car, mocking the “Sopranos” scene in which daughter Meadow Soprano struggles to park before meeting her family in the restaurant.

Trump: “‘I couldn’t think of three people I’d rather be here with tonight, my best son, and two of my last 15 lawyers.” 

Cohen: “To a great first year of the Russia investigation.”

Giuliani: “And many more.” 

This undated publicity photo, released by HBO, shows actor James Gandolfini in his role as Tony Soprano, head of the New Jersey crime family portrayed in HBO's "The Sopranos."

The late James Gandolfini starred on HBO’s “The Sopranos” from 1999 to 2007.  (Associated Press)

At this point, Special Counsel Robert Mueller (played by Robert De Niro) enters, parodying the mystery man in “The Sopranos” final scene.

Baldwin’s Trump, visibly in discomfort, seems the only one able to see Mueller, who then walks to the restroom and gives Trump the finger motions that mean “I am watching you.”

The scene abruptly cuts to black, just like on “The Sopranos.”

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Maoist rebels detonate bomb in east India; 5 police killed

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Police say at least five police officials were killed and two others critically injured when Maoist rebels targeted their vehicle with a bomb in eastern India.

Police say the rebels detonated a land mine on Sunday as an armored vehicle ran over it in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state.

Police say the two injured policemen were evacuated to a hospital in critical condition.

The Maoist rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the Indian government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers, the poor and indigenous communities.

The government has called the rebels India’s biggest internal security threat.

Dem McCaskill slammed for vote against Trump CIA pick

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With her vote last week against President Donald Trump’s choice for CIA director, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill – a Missouri Democrat seeking re-election – has “put partisan politics over national security,” a Senate colleague charged Saturday.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, which borders Missouri, made the assertion after McCaskill joined 44 other Democrats in rejecting Trump’s choice of Gina Haspel to be the nation’s first female director of the CIA.

Later, McCaskill defended her “no” vote against Haspel, but declined to elaborate, saying the reasons for her vote were classified.

Haspel’s nomination succeeded Thursday, however, as 54 senators, including six Democrats, supported her appointment.

Still, Cotton took issue with McCaskill, saying she values “obstructionist politics” over “keeping this country safe,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“McCaskill proved once again that she is so liberal, and so reflexively opposed to the president that she cannot represent Missourans in the Senate.”

– U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

“McCaskill proved once again that she is so liberal, and so reflexively opposed to the president that she cannot represent Missourans in the Senate,” Cotton told reporters during a conference call organized by Republican Josh Hawley’s bid to unseat McCaskill, the Free Beacon reported. “She put partisan politics over national security.”

In defending her vote, McCaskill said she was influenced by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had been tortured as a prisoner of war and also opposed Haspel’s confirmation. But she said the most important reason for her decision came during a classified discussion with Haspel.

“I cross-examined her on the classified material. And I was very uncomfortable with her answers,” McCaskill told the Associated Press. “I wish I could explain to all my constituents the details of all that, but the law will not allow me to do so.

“I can tell you this, if everyone in Missouri read and listened to her answers to the questions I asked, I believe that a vast majority of Missourians would have voted the same way I did.”

McCaskill represents a state that has trended more Republican in recent years. Trump won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Millennial Jews are not distancing themselves from Israel, quite the contrary

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News stories have warned us of an unprecedented distancing between Israeli and North American Jewry. The recent decision of actress Natalie Portman to turn down the Genesis Prize – an award that celebrates Jewish achievement and contributions to humanity – has only exacerbated these fears.

It seems that each side doesn’t fully grasp the difficulties the other is facing, and that there’s a substantial disagreement concerning many of Israel’s policies.

None of Israel’s decision-makers disputes the fact that the support of Jews living outside Israel is of paramount strategic importance. An Israel absent of global Jewish backing would be weakened and limited, with implications on its economy, security and international status.

World Jewry is a force multiplier, appropriating resources to Israel’s communities and national tasks and a supporter of Israel’s interests on an international level, serving as a vital partner in fulfilling the Zionist vision of the Jewish people’s resurrection in its historic homeland.

The concern regarding the strain on the relationship has risen in light of the serious debate regarding Israeli politics and the status and rights of the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations in Israel.

In this digital era that equips everyone with a voice and a stage, an additional parallel reality has been created. This reality is not dependent on a few dozen organizations on opposite sides of the Atlantic concerned with politics and pluralism, but thousands of personal and public forums for young Jews. These forums, available across social media channels, host lively human interaction and constant, rich dialogue.        

A Brandeis University study of Birthright Israel alumni revealed that young adult Jews – in particular compared to their parents’ generation – are highly connected to Israel and fewer than 10 percent describe themselves as “not all connected.”

The communication between the millennial generation doesn’t necessarily revolve around disagreements and ideologically charged issues, but on shared diverse interests, personal views and universal concepts. 

These relationships, based on daily continuous human interaction, mirror an unrecognized channel of the relations between Israel and world Jewry that could provide a new foundation for its future and anchor them for years to come.

In its 18 years, Birthright Israel – established as a partnership between Jewish philanthropists and the Israeli government – has welcomed over 500,000 young adult Jews from around the world, providing them with free 10-day educational trips to Israel.

Birthright Israel participants have met with about 100,000 young Israelis. These encounters have served as the basis for hundreds of thousands of different personal longstanding connections – the most substantial network of connections in Jewish history.

These young people – representing a variety of opinions, backgrounds and voices – share Facebook groups, visit each other, provide each other with information and help one another promote common interests like career, school and hobbies. They even provide support and encouragement in times of crisis.   

Of course, discussions regarding political and religious issues are also parts of these encounters, but they are built on respectful dialogue, not overruling argument, as is often portrayed in the media.

And although for some it has been accepted wisdom that young Jewish millennials are distancing themselves from Israel, there is substantial evidence to the contrary. A Brandeis University study of Birthright Israel alumni revealed that young adult Jews – in particular compared to their parents’ generation – are highly connected to Israel and fewer than 10 percent describe themselves as “not all connected.”

After their trips to Israel, participants’ connection to Israel is shown to rise by 40 percent. And over 70 percent express an interest in returning to Israel within five years.

We’ve also learned that 72 percent of Birthright Israel participants felt strongly that their interactions with Israelis on the trip made them aware of what they had in common. And 64 percent reported that the trip led to personal connections with Israelis – important because Birthright Israel alumni make up nearly half of American young adult Jews.

This doesn’t for one minute lessen the importance of the “official channel” and institutional connection between communities. It is our duty to constantly work to preserve them. But we also must not overlook the unquestionable parallel and promising reality that’s being formed.

It is up to us to promote the human encounter this requires to create a cross-generational, long-term and shared reality for us all.

Gidi Mark is the CEO of Birthright Israel. 

Dan Gainor: Terrorists, gang-bangers and porn star get good media coverage — Proof of journalism's decline

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The American media gave sympathetic coverage this past week to the terrorist group Hamas, the gang bangers of MS-13 and a porn star – while continuing relentless attacks on the president of the United States.

And you thought “journalism” couldn’t get any worse.

The week began with another signature achievement for President Trump – the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Relocating the embassy from Tel Avis was a promise that dated back to the 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.

Clinton went on to ignore the promise, as did both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama after him, despite a 1995 law that required the embassy move unless it endangered U.S. national security.

Candidate Trump promised to move the embassy and has now done what he promised.

Hamas organized weeks of riots at the border fence separating Israel and Gaza to mark the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel – an event the Palestinians call Al Nakba (The Catastrophe) – and coinciding with the embassy opening.

First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner – both advisers to the president – attended the opening. The media made huge sport out of a photo of Ivanka Trump smiling at the celebration of the embassy opening.

Then an interesting thing happened. Hamas admitted that 50 of the 62 people who were killed were members of its terrorist organization.

The New York Daily News ran with a cover photo of Ivanka Trump and an inset photo of Palestinians carrying off a wounded rioter in Gaza many miles away. It featured the headline: “DADDY’S LITTLE GHOUL.” Daily News Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich used to be the HuffPost Executive Editor. So that level of professionalism shouldn’t surprise people.

Sixty-two Palestinians were reportedly killed in Gaza in the past week and media outlets rushed to slam Israel, which was defending its border fence against rioters and terrorists trying to breach the defensive barrier. Some admitted in interviews that they wanted to launch attacks inside Israel.

 “With 60 Killed In Gaza, U.N. Rights Commissioner Criticizes Israel,” reported NPR. “Today” co-host Hoda Kotb blamed the new embassy opening for the violence. “The opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem fueling outrage, with more protests planned today,” she alleged. Because somehow Palestinian violence is a new thing.

CBS News Correspondent Holly Williams reported on “CBS This Morning” that Palestinians were “furious after the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem,” as if they had not been rioting for weeks.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran linked the two events. He noted that, as Ivanka Trump and her husband left, “they also left behind this: More clashes throughout Gaza and the West Bank.”

Moran went on to repeat what is now considered a wildly questionable claim, that a Palestinian baby had been killed by tear gas. (Who brings their baby to a violent riot?) “A baby suffocated by tear gas laid to rest. They draped their flag on the little body,” he reported. The Washington Post went through several edits on its online story, gradually downplaying the certainty of how the baby died.

Then an interesting thing happened. Hamas admitted that 50 of the 62  people who were killed were members of its terrorist organization. The Times of Israel also added that “the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad had said on Tuesday that three members of its Saraya al-Quds military wing were killed by Israeli forces in Khan Younis.” That means 85 percent of those killed belonged to terrorist groups.

That was too much truth. ABC, CBS and NBC dropped the story like a hot potato. The Washington Post ran a front-page story the next day that seemed entirely ignorant of the news. Instead, it blamed Israel “for its alleged use of excessive force” and added that Israel “is facing questions about why protests by mostly unarmed Palestinians ended in horrific bloodshed.”

No wonder when President Trump tweeted out about his poll numbers this week, he said: “Much of the Media may be corrupt, but the People truly get it!”

2. Media Outright Lie About Trump MS-13 Comment: There’s media bias and then there’s how the media handled the president’s comment about the violent gang MS-13. They just made it up and bombarded the public with a lie.

The president was asked a question about MS-13 and he responded with appropriate tough talk: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president with a great putdown: “if the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to.”

The news media went nuts. Outlet after outlet misreported the story. It was like ABC’s Brian Ross had suddenly become a global news editor. The Associated Press, The New York Times‏, The New York Daily News, the networks and many other news organizations joined in – all pretending President Trump had bashed immigrants, not gangs.

The Times tweeted: “Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting, calling those trying to breach the country’s borders ‘animals.’”

The Daily News went with a bizarre version of the story, making it about all immigrants, not just illegals. “Trump Hurls Hate at Immigrants,” it said.

Snopes, the supposed fact-checkers, got it wrong, too. It claimed, “Trump referred to some people who cross the border illegally as ‘animals.’” That’s only true if you admit those “some” are murderous gang members.

A parade of media lefties rose to attack Trump for the comment. CNBC Editor-at-Large John Harwood defended the humanity of MS-13 members. “However repugnant their actions, MS-13 gang members are human beings IMHO.”

Over at CNN, Contributor Ana Navarro compared Trump to “Nazis” and “slave owners,” saying “he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.” “I’m a lot more concerned of why he does things like call immigrants animals – when we start dehumanizing people.”

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes claimed: “This MS-13 nonsense has precisely the same structure as the racist drug war rhetoric of the crack years.”   

Even Planned Parenthood got into the act, tweeting: “Immigrants are people. They are our neighbors, our friends, and members of the Planned Parenthood family.” Is MS-13 part of the Planned Parenthood family? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Then came the fallout. AP admitted it had been wrong and deleted its initial tweet “because it wasn’t made clear that he was speaking after a comment about gang members.”

CNN anchor Jake Tapper helped out and‏ gave “context” to the president’s remarks, noting accurately that they “came as a sheriff was complaining about restrictions placed on ICE databases, and MS-13 gang members.”

And, ironically, New York Times White House Reporter Julie Davis got the story right and her employer even tweeted that out with the same account. “Trump invokes fear of dangerous criminals clamoring to breach the border at WH immigration roundtable today; saying, ‘These aren’t people, these are animals.’”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president with a great putdown: “if the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to.”

3. Porn-Friendly TV: The play “Avenue Q” has a song exclaiming “the Internet is for porn.” That was before Stormy Daniels and her lawyer hit the scene. The Internet has been replaced by TV news.

Forget the has-been porn star and focus on her TV star lawyer Michael Avenatti. He’s been on broadcast and cable news 147 times in just 10 weeks – all to bash President Trump. That’s the only reason he gets any air time. He actually appeared seven times on one single day.

Thank CNN for most of this travesty – 74 of the appearances. That isn’t too surprising, since he’s been partying with CNN anchor Don Lemon and others out at Sag Harbor. The wife of CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis tweeted about it and then deleted it. She even made her Twitter account private. Too late.

When Avenatti wasn’t partying with the media, he was threatening to sue them. Two different publications felt his legal wrath. Avenatti also had a dustup with The Hollywood Reporter and allegedly called a reporter there an obscene name. He’s also being investigated by the State Bar of California for allegedly unpaid taxes.

If it sounds like a TV show plot, others might agree. Mediaite reported: “A ‘Crossfire-style’ television show for 2018 is being pitched to CNN and MSNBC, starring none other than Anthony Scaramucci and Michael Avenatti.”

Avenatti responded to reports of getting a TV show with a tweet, saying: “Lol. I have no interest in television right now.”

Texas school's baseball team plays playoff game 36 hours after massacre

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At approximately 7:50 a.m. Friday, Rome Shubert was shot in the head at Santa Fe High School in Texas. He was one of 13 people injured by a suspect with a gun and desire to kill.

Ten other people died. 

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Shubert walked onto a baseball field with his Santa Fe Indians teammates for a playoff game. 

“It made me proud of the way they came out here, after everything that happened,” Shubert said of his teammates. 

“It made me proud of the way they came out here, after everything that happened.”

– Rome Shubert, Santa Fe High School Indians

Shubert, a pitcher, did not play Saturday. But his mere presence was strengthening, and it appeared to inspire the entire team and fans in the overflowing stands. 

Rome Shubert

Santa Fe High School pitcher Rome Shubert had only a Bandaid on his neck Saturday night after getting shot in the head Friday morning.  (Fox News)

“It was a pretty intense game,” Shubert said. “I mean, all those people there was very intimidating to some people. But emotions were just really high.” 

The game ended up a 7-0 loss for Santa Fe versus Kingwood Park High, which eliminated the Indians from the regional playoffs. But the outcome seemed important only to the players and coaches. The fans, while understandably disappointed, appeared happy just to know a group of players who were willing to put themselves out there only 36 hours after a horrific tragedy. 

“We are proud of you, yes we are proud of you,” the crowd chanted as the final out was made.  

Santa Fe received an offer to delay the game until Sunday if the Indians felt they weren’t ready to play. Coach Ronnie Wulf left the decision entirely up to the Indians players.

He gave them a talk, left the team alone in a room, and they decided not to wait. 

“I think it’s the right decision. I’m not happy how it came out, that’s just the way it is. There’s a lot of emotion and you can’t really fix that,” Wulf said. 

Baseball crowd

An overflow crowd fills Jim Kethan Field in Deer Park, Texas, for a playoff baseball game featuring Santa Fe High School.  (Fox News)

The coach and players wore tape on their wrists with the initials of the 10 people who were killed. Fans in the stands wore green shirts reading, “Stand as One” on the front and “Santa Fe Proud” on the back.

“It definitely shows you the support we have. Our community’s very strong. And you know, you can’t tell, it feels like half our town’s here right now. It’s amazing,” said Mayor-Elect Jason Tabor. 

“It definitely shows you the support we have. Our community’s very strong. And you know, … it feels like half our town’s here right now. It’s amazing.”

– Mayor-elect Jason Tabor, Santa Fe, Texas

There were a lot of teary eyes throughout the night. The fans cheered, stomped their feet and clapped their hands like they would at any other game. But one regular said the attendance was well beyond an average game. 

“We get a lot of support from everybody, all across the country. It’s just an amazing outpour,” Tabor said. “We’re hurt but we’re not broken and we will heal from this and we’ll come back even stronger.” 

Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran’s favored candidates to come in first in national elections, says he wants to form a government that puts Iraqis first.

The electoral commission announced early Saturday that the militant-turned-populist preacher, who has long spoken out against both Iranian and U.S. influence in Iraq, had defeated his establishment rivals.

Al-Sadr — who is remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion — did not run for a seat himself and is unlikely to become prime minister, but will command a significant number of seats and has already begun informal talks about government formation.

Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr’s Sa’eroun political bloc, told The Associated Press that Iraq’s sovereignty was going to be the new government’s “guiding principle.”

“We warn any other country that wants to involve itself in Iraqi politics not to cross the Iraqi people,” he said.

However, even as al-Sadr is in position to nominate a prime minister and set the political agenda for the next four years, he will find his choices limited by Iran.

The Middle East’s pre-eminent Shiite power has a direct line with some of Iraq’s most powerful politicians, and it is trying to rally them as a bloc to undercut al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr’s rise threatens Iran’s claim to speak on behalf of Iraq’s Shiite majority, a precedent that could fuel independent Shiite movements elsewhere. Also at stake are top ministerial posts — political appointments that are a source of patronage and police and military power.

Al-Sadr himself has kept a relatively low public profile. But in a public relations move that appeared to be directed at Iran, he appeared on Thursday with rival cleric Ammar al-Hakim, who has drifted away from Iran’s orbit in recent years, to say the two men share similar visions for the next government.

Tehran has dispatched its top regional military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to pull together a coalition to counterbalance al-Sadr, according to an Iraqi Shiite militia commander who is familiar with the meetings.

“Iran won’t accept the creation of a Shiite bloc that is a threat to its interests. It’s a red line,” said the commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

Al-Sadr’s relationship with Iran is a complicated one. Though he has maintained close ties with Iran’s political and religious leadership, in recent years he has denounced the flow of Iranian munitions to Shiite militias in Iraq, all the while maintaining his own so-called Peace Brigades in the holy city of Samarra, north of Baghdad.

Al-Sadr’s former Mehdi Army militia, which spearheaded an insurgency against the U.S., clashed violently with the Iran-backed Badr Organization last decade.

The militias plugged the gaps left by Iraq’s army as soldiers deserted their posts in the face of the Islamic State group’s lightning campaign in the summer of 2014. With direction from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, they turned the tide against the initial advance. In the years that followed, the militias — coordinating with U.S.-backed Iraqi ground forces — slowly pushed IS fighters back. Iraq declared victory over the group last year.

Al-Sadr has said he wants the militias absorbed into the national security forces, a move Iran would find difficult to accept.

Iran is also rankled by al-Sadr’s recent overtures to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are locked in proxy wars with Tehran in Syria and Yemen. Al-Sadr met with the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in August, leading Iran’s hard-line Keyhan newspaper to accuse al-Sadr of “selling himself” to the house of Saud.

It is unlikely al-Sadr can pull together a governing coalition without Iran-aligned political groups, which have the votes to form their own alliance that could challenge al-Sadr’s right to name a prime minister.

An electoral alliance of the militias called Fatah, headed by Hadi al-Amiri, the commander of the Badr Organization, won just seven seats fewer than al-Sadr’s bloc. Sa’eroun won 54 seats in Iraq’s 329-seat national assembly, a far cry from the 165 required to claim a majority.

The militias control the powerful Interior Ministry in the outgoing government and will expect a similar position of influence in the new one.

Al-Sadr seems inclined to woo incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seen as a centrist when it comes to Iranian and U.S. interests, and who appears to be wavering between al-Sadr and al-Amiri.

But Tehran still holds considerable sway with al-Abadi’s al-Nasr bloc, which includes several Iran-aligned figures, including one newly minted deputy who has come under U.S. sanctions for allegedly financing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Iran’s political allies in Iraq will try to pressure those figures into deserting al-Abadi and collapsing an al-Sadr alliance if the formulation is not to Tehran’s liking, said a Western diplomat who has been speaking to the sides involved. The diplomat spoke on the condition of anonymity because of media regulations.

That gives Iran — and al-Abadi — leverage over al-Sadr to moderate his positions on the militias and Iran.

Hanging above the talks is the implied threat by all sides to mobilize their followers — and militias — if they feel they are being shortchanged. The collective effect could be to push al-Sadr’s bloc toward a broader governing coalition that would dilute his reform agenda.

His top showing at the ballot box means the next prime minister will have to introduce a civil service law that al-Sadr has championed as an antidote to Iraq’s endemic corruption, said Kirk Sowell, the publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics, a political and security newsletter. But that doesn’t mean the Cabinet or parliament will sign off on it.

“There’s not going to be a functioning majority,” said Sowell. “It’ll be a hodge-podge, coalition government, and it’s not going to be any more stable than the last one.”

___

Associated Press writer Susannah George contributed to this report.

Texas school shooting suspect's family 'saddened and dismayed'

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The family of the suspect who authorities say opened fire at a Texas high school Friday, killing 10 people and injuring 13 more, is “saddened and dismayed” by the killings, according to a statement released Saturday.

“We share the public’s hunger for answers as to why this happened,” the statement continues, “and will await the outcome of the investigation before speaking about these events.”

“We share the public’s hunger for answers as to why this happened and will await the outcome of the investigation before speaking about these events.”

– Pagourtzis family statement

The suspect, identified as Dmitrios Pagourtzis, 17, has been charged with capital murder in the deaths of two teachers and eight students. The FBI said Saturday that 13 other people were injured in the attack, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Nicholas Poehl, the suspect’s attorney, said his client is speaking and cooperating with authorities, the Chronicle reported.

“Obviously this is a tough situation,” Poehl said. “He’s in difficult circumstances. He’s behaving consistently with that.”

“This is a very young kid, he’s in very trying circumstances to say the least, saying he’s doing well surely wouldn’t be accurate right now, but there is a long way to go,” Poehl told Fox 26 Houston.

He and attorney Robert Barfield both represent the Pagourtzis family, the station reported.

Poehl said “the family is stunned,” and barely beginning to wrap their minds around what happened, the Chronicle reported.

“Very tough day for them,” Poehl told Fox 26. “I think every parent probably instinctively knows they don’t know everything about their kid, but when you find out something like this today, it’s extremely hard. For those out there that are watching, try to remember these people are victims too. They didn’t know, they didn’t expect and they surely couldn’t predict, so prayers to everyone in this whole mess.”

The attorneys told the Chronicle that they will “likely request a competency and sanity exam.”

“In a case like this, of course, you can’t do this and not have something going on, but you know we have got a lot of work to do before we are even ready to really speak intelligently about that,” Poehl told Fox 26.

The attorneys also spoke with the public after the suspect attended an arraignment hearing Friday where he was not granted bond, the report said.

They released the following statement on the Pagourtzis family’s behalf.

“We are saddened and dismayed by yesterday’s events at Santa Fe High School. We extend our most heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims. We also wish to thank all the first responders from all over Texas that assisted in rendering aid and support.”

– Paguortzis family statement

“We are saddened and dismayed by yesterday’s events at Santa Fe High School. We extend our most heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims. We also wish to thank all the first responders from all over Texas that assisted in rendering aid and support.

“We are as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events that occurred. We are gratified by the public comments made by other Santa Fe High School students that show Dimitri as we know him: a smart, quiet, sweet boy. While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday’s tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love.

“We share the public’s hunger for answers as to why this happened, and will await the outcome of the investigation before speaking about these events. We have been and will continue to cooperate with the authorities conducting the investigation, and ask for the public’s patience while it moves forward.

“We ask the public to please extend privacy, both to the victims and to our own family, as all of us try process these events, and begin the healing process.”

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Small clubs cross fingers for World Cup windfalls

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The ideal scenario for the club where Paul Pogba played football as a kid might go something like this: The France midfielder shines so brightly at the World Cup that a money-no-object club — for argument’s sake, let’s say Real Madrid — decides that it cannot live without him and pays a nine-figure fee to shake him loose from Manchester United.

US Torcy, the amateur club in the east Paris suburbs where Pogba’s photo still hangs proudly in the canteen serving fizzy beer and fresh croissants, could then sit back and wait for a fat check from Madrid to land in its bank account.

Not all the money that will change hands after the World Cup, as clubs trade players who distinguish themselves on football’s biggest stage, will line the pockets of selling clubs, agents and the players themselves. A little slice — far too little, some argue — of the likely deluge in post-World Cup transfer fees will also trickle down to football’s grassroots, to unpretentious, volunteer-run clubs like Torcy where kids take first steps toward their big dreams of making a career in football.

Pogba’s move from Italy to Manchester in August 2016, after he burnished his star credentials in France’s run that summer to the final of the European Championship, was like hitting the jackpot for Torcy. Because Pogba spent a year at Torcy in his formative years, FIFA’s transfer rules entitled the club to 0.25 percent of the then-world record fee of 105 million euros ($116 million) United paid to Juventus. The windfall for Torcy was about 300,000 euros ($330,000).

Torcy’s president, Pascal Antonetti, won’t discuss the exact amount, citing a non-disclosure agreement he says he signed with United. But the money was enough to buy three new minibuses to transport Torcy’s players to matches and training. The club now also allows itself the luxury of getting hotel rooms for its teams when they play away from Paris, so they’re not exhausted by travel on the day of their games. And it has kept some of the money in reserve, just to be safe.

“The club is protected from an eventual financial problem, just so long as we don’t get delusions of grandeur and spend the money recklessly,” Antonetti said in an interview with The Associated Press on a recent weekend when the club hosted a two-day cup competition for kids’ teams from around Europe, among them Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and other famous clubs.

“We won’t be buying cars for each of our senior players in the first XI, for example,” he added. “We’ve kept our head on our shoulders and our feet on the ground.”

These so-called “solidarity” payments recompense clubs for training and educating players who later, as professionals, become valuable, money-spinning commodities. FIFA’s transfer regulations stipulate that when a player contracted with one club moves to another club in another country, up to 5 percent of the fee must be set aside and distributed to clubs that nurtured him, from ages 12 to 23.

In Pogba’s case, United paid not only Torcy, where he played for a year at age 13, but also his first boyhood club, US Roissy-en-Brie, also in the east Paris suburbs where Pogba grew up. The club says it received about 400,000 euros and has spent some of it on two new minibuses, movable goals and other equipment.

Still, such payments to the grassroots represent only a drop in the ocean of money splashing around professional football. In 2017, spending on international transfers soared to $6.4 billion, FIFA says. But only a sliver of that — $64 million, or just 1 percent of the total — went to breeder clubs as solidarity contributions, according to FIFA’s report on the 2017 transfer market .

Antonetti, the Torcy president, is among those who say solidarity payments aren’t generous enough.

“We get only a tiny slice of a transfer like Paul Pogba’s,” he said. “The financial windfalls aren’t sufficiently redistributed.”

And not all the compensation that should be paid to training clubs actually reaches them, FIFA says. It says it has a task force looking at ways to make solidarity payments “more efficient and easy to administer.”

Still, there’ll be plenty of small clubs around the world crossing fingers that players they nurtured will shine in Russia, because a big transfer at the top of the football pyramid can be life-changing for clubs toward the bottom.

When Premier League champion Manchester City signed Aymeric Laporte in January from Bilbao in Spain, it paid 689,000 euros — about 1 percent of the total fee — to SU Agen, the club in the defender’s hometown in southwest France where he played to age 15.

Laporte didn’t make France coach Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad . But his childhood club, previously loaded in debt, is now flush thanks to his transfer, its future assured, says its president, Jean-Claude Brunel.

The money is funding renovations to the club house, with a new television and a better kitchen, as well as a new minibus and uniforms for Agen’s players. Carefully managed, the remainder should ensure the club’s survival well into the next decade, Brunel said in a phone interview.

“It has allowed us to be serene and to look beyond tomorrow,” he said. “Before, we didn’t know what tomorrow would bring.”

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John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester

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More AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Texas school shooting suspect targeted girl who denied his advances, her mother says

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The mother of a 16-year-old girl who was killed along with nine others in Friday’s shooting at a Texas high school says she believes the suspect intentionally targeted her daughter.

Sadie Rodriguez, mother of Shana Fisher, said suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, repeatedly made advances toward her daughter in the four months leading up to the deadly shooting.

Pagourtzis was an ex-boyfriend of Fisher’s best friend, Rodriguez added.

“He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no,” Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times via Facebook Messenger. “He continued to get more aggressive.”

“He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no. He continued to get more aggressive.”

– Sadie Rodriguez, mother of Santa Fe shooting victim Shana Fisher

The grieving mother said the week before the shooting, Fisher “stood up to him” and “embarrassed him in class.”

“A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn’t like,” she wrote. “Shana being the first one.”

Rodriguez didn’t say how she knew her daughter was the first victim, the Times reported.

Authorities say Pagourtzis killed two teachers and eight students, who were identified as teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale, 64; and students Jared Black, 17; Fisher, 16; Christian Riley Garcia, 15; Aaron Kyle McLeod, 15; Angelique Ramirez, 15; Sabika Sheikh; Christopher Jake Stone, 17; and Kimberly Vaughan.

In addition, the FBI said Saturday that the number of injured had been corrected to 13 from 10, the Houston Chronicle reported.

On the day of the shooting, Rodriguez wrote a Facebook status to “love like (you’re) getting one more day with them.”

“Make sure they know (you) love them. Anything can happen,” she wrote. “I will no longer get to see my baby my 1st born anymore.”

Rodriguez shared a video of Fisher from 2015, in which the teen contemplates whether she’ll continue making gaming videos because her computer keeps crashing.

Mourners wait for the start of a prayer vigil following a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, May 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Mourners wait for the start of a prayer vigil following a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, May 18, 2018.  (Associated Press)

The mother also created a Facebook Fundraiser in her daughter’s memory, describing Fisher as “the most sweet and shy young lady.”

“My heart is being ripped out,” Rodriguez wrote. “My baby is gone.”

She wanted to raise awareness about importance of teachers and parents to recognize students’ mental state.

“Please help to make teachers and students aware of (their) surroundings and the mental state of their students and peers,” she wrote.

One survivor’s mother penned a Facebook post, titled “The longest day of my life,” in which she details a harrowing account of the gunman repeatedly taunting students during the attack, the L.A. Times reported.

Mother Deedra Van Ness wrote that her daughter Isabelle Van Ness was “covered in dust from the bullets hitting the walls around her” and could hear the shooter in a next-door classroom “yelling ‘Woo Hoo!’ and firing more shots.”

Deedra describes her daughter’s reaction “as the media announces the names of the confirmed dead.”

“Isabelle falls apart,” Deedra wrote. “She’d been watching the TV so intently waiting for this. She had prayed that her friends lying around the school were just injured and the confirmation of their deaths was crushing.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Rural Hawaii communities face various volcano threats

In the weeks since Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting, dozens of homes have burned from oozing lava, people have fled their homes and plumes of steam from the summit have shot skyward, prompting officials to distribute face masks to protect against ash particles.

Lava flows have grown more vigorous in recent days and there’s concern more homes may burn and more evacuations may be ordered. Still, scientists can’t say whether lava flows from nearly two dozen fissures will continue to advance, or stop.

“We have no way of knowing whether this is really the beginning or toward the end of this eruption,” said Tom Shea, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii. “We’re kind of all right now in this world of uncertainty.”

In addition to ash fallout from explosions and the threat of lava crossing main highways, officials warned of another hazard Saturday as a flow advanced southeast to the ocean: Laze.

“Laze is when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles in the air,” the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency said in an update to the public.

The area affected by lava and ash is small compared to the Big Island, which is about 4,000 square miles (10,360 square kilometers). Most of the island and the rest of the Hawaiian chain is unaffected by the volcanic activity on Kilauea.

State and local officials have been reminding tourists that flights in and out of the entire state, including the Big Island, have not been impacted. Even on the Big Island, most tourist activities are still available and businesses are open.

Evacuation orders for two neighborhoods with nearly 2,000 people were given after a first fissure opened on May 3. Officials have been warning neighboring communities to be prepared to evacuate.

A handful of people were trapped when a flow crossed a road Friday. Some had to be airlifted to safety.

“They shouldn’t be in that area,” said County Managing Director Wil Okabe.

Lava flows have become faster as fresher magma mixed with decades-old magma.

The change is attributed to new magma mixing with 1955-era magma in the ground, creating hotter and more fluid flows, scientists said.

By Saturday morning, two of 22 fissures had merged, creating a wide flow advancing at rates of up to 300 yards (274 meters) per hour. Aerial footage from the USGS showed fast-moving lava advancing to the southeast. The flow was 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the ocean, scientists said.

In the background, the footage showed lava fountaining 328 feet (100 meters) high at one of the fissures. The fountains are created by vents closing, forcing magma to burst through a single outpoint, Stovall said.

Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said a man suffered a “serious” leg injury Saturday when he was hit with a lava spatter while sitting on his porch near the Lanipuna Garden subdivision, the Star-Advertiser reported.

Edwin Montoya, who lives with his daughter on her farm near the site where lava crossed the road and cut off access, said the fissure opened and grew quickly.

“It was just a little crack in the ground, with a little lava coming out,” he said. “Now it’s a big crater that opened up where the small little crack in the ground was.”

The Big Island volcano released a small explosion at its summit just before midnight Friday, sending an ash cloud 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) into the sky. The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said eruptions that create even minor amounts of ashfall could occur at any time.

This follows the more explosive eruption Thursday, which emitted ash and rocks thousands of feet into the sky. No one was injured and there were no reports of damaged property.

It came two weeks after the volcano began sending lava flows into neighborhoods 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the east of the summit.

___

Kelleher reported from Honolulu. Associated Press journalists Jae Hong and Marco Garcia in Pahoa, Sophia Yan and Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu, Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, Seth Borenstein in Washington, D.C., and Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Maduro favored as Venezuelans vote amid crisis

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to win a second six-year term in Sunday’s election, despite a deepening crisis that’s made food scarce and inflation soar as oil production in the once wealthy nation plummets.

More than 1 million Venezuelans have abandoned their country for a better life abroad in recent years, while those staying behind wait in line for hours to buy subsidized food and withdraw cash that’s almost impossible to find.

While polls show Venezuelans overwhelmingly blame Maduro for their mounting troubles, he’s still heavily favored to win thanks to a boycott of the election by his main rivals amid huge distrust of the nation’s electoral council, which is controlled by government loyalists.

Maduro ended his campaign Thursday dancing on stage before a cheering crowd in Caracas while blaming Venezuela’s increasingly dire outlook on a U.S.-orchestrated “economic war.”

“I extend my hands to all Venezuelans so that we can move forward together with love and take back our homeland,” said Maduro, the hand-picked successor to late President Hugo Chavez, who launched Venezuela’s leftist revolution. “I have seen the future of Venezuela and a historic victory awaits us.”

On Friday, the Trump administration added Diosdado Cabello, a key Maduro ally, to a growing list of top officials targeted by financial sanctions, accusing the socialist party boss of drug trafficking and embezzlement.

Maduro’s main rival, independent candidate Henri Falcon, has faced the dual challenge of running against a powerful incumbent while trying to convince skeptical Venezuelans to defy the boycott called by the main opposition coalition.

Blasting Maduro as the “candidate of hunger,” he has campaigned on a promise to dollarize wages pulverized by five-digit inflation, accept humanitarian aid and seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund — all proposals Maduro has rejected as tantamount to surrendering to the U.S. “empire.”

“I swear that I will liberate Venezuela from this dictatorship,” Falcon shouted to supporters at his final campaign rally Thursday in his home city of Barquisimeto. “I swear it in the name of God.”

Also on the ballot is television evangelist Javier Bertucci, who has cut into Falcon’s support by providing free soup at rallies.

Around 80 percent of Venezuelans believe Maduro has done a bad job, yet turnout is expected to be the lowest since Chavez was elected in 1998, with only 34 percent saying they are certain they will vote, according to recent polling by Datanalisis.

The election has drawn broad criticism since some of Maduro’s most-popular rivals were barred from running, and several more were forced into exile. Echoing the views of Venezuela’s tattered opposition movement, the United States, European Union and many Latin American countries have already said they won’t recognize the results.

In addition, pressure tactics honed in past campaigns have kicked into overdrive, further tilting the playing field in Maduro’s favor.

Almost 75 percent of households said they received government-issued food boxes in the past three months, according to Datanalisis, and Maduro on the stump has promised that the 16.5 million holders of the fledgling “fatherland card” will be rewarded for their vote. Just to be sure, so-called “red points” will be set up outside voting centers checking peoples’ cards, which are needed to access social programs.

“This is neither a competitive or democratic election, and the result may not reflect the preference and decision of the voters,” said Luis Vicente Leon, president of Datanalisis.

Still, some question the wisdom of not competing in an election, even if it is widely seen as rigged.

A 2010 study by the Brookings Institution covering 171 electoral boycotts around the world — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — found that such maneuvers rarely succeed in rendering elections illegitimate in the eyes of the world. Instead, the boycotting party usually emerges weaker and the incumbent empowered.

Javier Corrales, a Venezuela expert at Amherst College, said the opposition’s sit-out strategy could be as disastrous as its boycott of congressional elections in 2005, which led the ruling party to sweep all seats and pass legislation removing presidential term limits that further strengthened Chavez.

“The irony is that this is the least democratic election of all but it’s also the best chance the opposition has ever had,” said Corrales. “If Maduro wins by a large margin, he’ll take it is as a green light to continue radicalizing and moving in the direction of completely destroying the private sector.”

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Follow Smith on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScottSmithAP

Follow Goodman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APjoshgoodman

Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of two serious complaints about its crews’ performance over the last decade, according to authorities in Guyana and a retired pilot for Cuba’s national airline.

Mexico’s government said late Saturday that its National Civil Aviation Authority will carry out an operational audit of Damojh airlines to see if its “current operating conditions continue meeting regulations” and to help collect information for the investigation into Friday’s crash in Cuba that left 110 dead.

The plane that crashed, a Boeing 737, was barred from Guyanese airspace last year after authorities discovered that its crew had been allowing dangerous overloading of luggage on flights to Cuba, Guyanese Civil Aviation Director Capt. Egbert Field told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The plane and crew were being rented from Mexico City-based Damojh by EasySky, a Honduras-based low-cost airline. Cuba’s national carrier, Cubana de Aviacion, was also renting the plane and crew in a similar arrangement known as a “wet lease” before the aircraft veered on takeoff to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin and crashed into a field just after noon Friday, according to Mexican aviation authorities.

A Damojh employee in Mexico City declined to comment, saying the company would be communicating only through written statements. Mexican authorities said Damojh had permits needed to lease its aircraft and had passed a November 2017 verification of its maintenance program. They announced a new audit late Saturday.

Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez told reporters Saturday afternoon that Cubana had been renting the plane for less than a month under an arrangement in which the Mexican company was entirely responsible for maintenance of the aircraft. Armando Daniel Lopez, president of Cuba’s Institute of Civil Aviation, told the AP that Cuban authorities had not received any complaints about the plane in that month. He declined to comment further.

Yzquierdo said it was routine for Cuba to rent planes under a variety of arrangements because of what he described as the country’s inability to purchase its own aircraft due to the U.S. trade embargo on the island. Cuba has been able to buy planes produced in other countries, including France and Ukraine, but has pulled many from service due to maintenance problems and other issues.

“It’s normal for us to rent planes,” he said. “Why? Because it’s convenient and because of the problem of the blockade that we have. Sometimes we can’t buy the planes that we need, and we need to rent them.”

He said that with Damojh, “the formula here is that they take care of the maintenance of the aircraft. That’s their responsibility.”

He said Cuba didn’t have pilots certified to fly the Boeing, so it had hired the Mexican crew with the expectation that they were fully trained and certified by the proper authorities.

Yzquierdo also said the jet’s “black box” voice recorder had been recovered and that Cuban officials had granted a U.S. request for investigators from Boeing to travel to the island.

Eyewitness and private salon owner Rocio Martinez said she heard a strange noise and looked up to see the plane with a turbine on fire.

“It had an engine on fire, in flames, it was falling toward the ground,” Martinez said, adding that the plane veered into the field where it crashed, avoiding potential fatalities in a nearby residential area.

Field told AP that the Boeing 737 with tail number XA-UHZ had been flying four routes a week between Georgetown, Guyana, and Havana starting in October 2016. Cubans do not need visas to travel to Guyana, and the route was popular with Cubans working as “mules” to bring suitcases crammed with goods back home to the island, where virtually all consumer products are scarce and more expensive than in most other countries.

After Easy Sky canceled a series of flights in spring 2017, leaving hundreds of Cubans stranded at Guyana’s main airport, authorities began inspecting the plane and discovered that crews were loading excessive amounts of baggage, leading to concerns the aircraft could be dangerously overburdened and unbalanced. In one instance, Guyanese authorities discovered suitcases stored in the plane’s toilet.

“This is the same plane and tail number,” Guyanese Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said. He and other Guyanese authorities said they did not immediately know if the crew suspended last May was the same one that died in Friday’s crash. Damojh operates three Boeing 737s, two 737-300s and the 737-201 that crashed Friday, according to Mexican officials.

Ovidio Martinez Lopez, a pilot for Cubana for over 40 years until he retired six years ago, wrote in a post on Facebook that a plane rented from the Mexican company by Cubana briefly dropped off radar while over the city of Santa Clara in 2010 or 2011, triggering an immediate response by Cuban aviation security officials. As a result, Cuban officials suspended a captain and co-pilot for “serious technical knowledge issues,” and Cuba’s Aviation Security authority issued a formal recommendation that Cubana stop renting planes and crews from Damojh, Martinez wrote.

“They are many flight attendants and security personnel who refused to fly with this airline,” Martinez wrote. “On this occasion, the recommendation was overlooked and they rented from them again.”

Contacted by AP in Havana, Martinez confirmed his Facebook account but declined to comment further.

Mexican officials said the Boeing 737-201 was built in 1979.

Mexican aviation authorities said a team of experts would fly to Cuba on Saturday to take part in the investigation.

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Associated Press writers Andrea Rodriguez in Havana and Maria Verza in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Chile bishop apologizes for not investigating abuse promptly

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A Chilean bishop apologized Saturday for not promptly investigating a reported case of sexual abuse in his diocese, a day after every bishop in the South American country offered to resign over what Pope Francis said was their negligence in protecting children.

“I want to apologize for my actions in this case,” said Bishop Alejandro Goic, referring to abuse allegations made in a report by Chile’s T13 television against priest Luis Rubio.

In the report, Rubio acknowledges having sent pictures of himself naked to a false profile of a minor set up on Facebook to catch him.

Elisa Fernandez, who worked in the youth ministry in the community of Paredones, told T13 that she repeatedly informed Goic about the abuses, but the bishop always demanded proof.

Dad, stepmom held after 5-year-old girl's body is found in storage unit

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The discovery of a 5-year-old girl’s body inside a storage unit in Sacramento last week led to the arrests of her father and stepmother, and prompted a joint investigation by police in California and Nevada.

Sacramento police linked the unit to Tyler and Averyauna Anderson, both Nevada residents, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Reno police identified the girl as Cali Anderson, who was Tyler Anderson’s daughter. Leyanie Robinson, Cali’s biological mother, told Sacramento’s FOX 40 that Tyler Anderson had full custody of the child.

“It’s hard for me to believe Tyler would do anything like this or be involved in something like this,” Kevin Ward, an acquaintance of Tyler Anderson’s, told FOX 40. “He loved that little girl but you don’t know what people do behind closed doors.”

“He loved that little girl but you don’t know what people do behind closed doors.”

– Kevin Ward, acquaintance of Tyler Anderson’s

The body was discovered Tuesday night after police received a call, FOX 40 reported, adding that the manager of the storage facility said the business was “cooperating with law enforcement, 100 percent.”

Cali died sometime within the last two weeks inside the Andersons’ apartment, Reno police said. She showed signs of being malnourished and emaciated, according to coroner’s office information in an affidavit.

The affidavit said the child became unresponsive May 4, but the couple did not call 911. They later allegedly placed the body inside a duffel bag and kept it in a closet for a week.

The couple then transported Cali’s body to Sacramento in a rented vehicle, police said.

Police arrested the Andersons on Wednesday. Tyler Anderson was booked into Sacramento’s main county jail on suspicion of manslaughter, police said.

Averyauna Anderson was booked into the Washoe County Jail in Reno on child abuse charges and destroying or concealing evidence.

The investigation is continuing, authorities said.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Taiwan president, pressed by Beijing, pledges more security

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President Tsai Ing-wen says Taiwan will step up security to respond to military threats from China.

Tsai’s comments Sunday in responses posted online to questions from the public follow mounting pressure by Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as its own territory and has sent fighter jets near its coast.

Tsai wrote, “We will strengthen our work for the whole society’s security.”

Tsai, elected in 2016, has rejected Beijing’s contention that the two sides, separated since a civil war in 1949, are “one China.”

Tsai gave no details of possible new measures but her government is encouraging development of a domestic arms industry to reduce reliance on imported weapons.