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President Donald Trump drew swift condemnation Tuesday evening after he insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un with a less than presidential tweet bragging about America’s stronger nuclear capabilities.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018

Trump’s reference to having access to a “nuclear button”—one he insisted was larger and “more powerful” than Kim’s button—also prompted ridicule, some of which came in the form of jokes about male-enhancing drugs. (By the way, no such button exists.) Others pointed to Trump’s history of being overly concerned with size—from crowd numbers to the dimensions of his hands—and the dangers of having such an obsession drive foreign policy as tensions worsen with North Korea.

As a pilot in the @USNavy, I was trained to deliver nuclear weapons. EVERYTHING we did with these weapons was deadly serious. No jokes, no threats, no mistakes. Every soldier, sailor, airman and marine gets that. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss this further. https://t.co/ovNlgNlluq

— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) January 3, 2018

This madman is still the single most powerful person on the planet, with the ability to order the destruction of the world in just over four minutes. https://t.co/XIKB23NKQM

— Robert Reich (@RBReich) January 3, 2018

Since Trump joined the primary, I have told my IR theory classes that he is the best reason I've ever seen why we have/need feminist IR theory in our field. Here's further proof of that.It's almost like he's captured by his masculine-reptilian id.Good grief; who writes like this? https://t.co/CaWKnWMYqP

— Robert E Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) January 3, 2018

Viagra Leadership? https://t.co/SKJ2FixjJk

— Michael Powell (@powellnyt) January 3, 2018

TRUMP IS A NUT JOB
WHO IS PLAYING,“WHOSE
🍆IS BIGGER“,WITH ANOTHER NUT JOB FROM N.KOREA‼️TRUMP MAY GET US INTO A WAR,WITH HIS 12 YR OLD BOY ”NANNY,NANNY,NANNY“
TWTS‼️
THEY’RE PROBABLY BOTH THE SIZE OF
“ TOM THUMB”

— Cher (@cher) January 3, 2018

Small hands. Big button. Fragile ego. Big danger. https://t.co/G09PKIJHN5

— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) January 3, 2018

In his annual New Year’s address, Kim warned the US against further provoking North Korea into nuclear war, but he also appeared newly open to engaging in diplomatic talks with South Korea. South Korea quickly responded with a proposal to hold meetings at the border as soon as next week, with South Korea’s unification minister emphasizing that the country was willing to hold talks aimed at peace with North Korea “at any time and place, and in any form.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley offered a starkly different reaction to North Korea’s surprising overture. “North Korea can talk with anyone they want but the US is not going to recognize it or acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have,” she said.

If you were like me, you may have missed a few news items over the final weeks of 2017, and that's exactly how Donald Trump and his aides wanted it. Just to give you a taste of what you missed now that you're tuned back in:

“You all just got a lot richer,” Trump boasted to members of Mar-a-Lago on Dec. 22, according to CBS.

Yep, the GOP tax heist—no one missed that big fat wet kiss to Republican donors and Trump's billionaire besties, though you may have missed his braggadocio on the matter. And frankly that was just the opener for his red-carpet treatment of America's filthy richest.

In the week that followed [the tax law], Trump kept giving his members new reasons to celebrate. While cable news fixated on how much he was golfing — NBC reports that Monday was Trump’s 91st day at a golf course as president – his political appointees back in Washington worked overtime to deconstruct the administrative state, eviscerate several of Barack Obama’s signature achievements and rolling back significant environmental protections.

The Washington Post's James Hohmann fills in the gap on changes that were mostly rolled on Friday afternoons, garnering minimal coverage for the favors that maximally benefit some of Trump’s nearest and dearest.

A security flaw has been found in virtually all Intel processors that will require fixes within Windows, macOS and Linux, according to reports.

Developers are currently scrambling behind the scenes to fix the significant security hole within the Intel chips, with patches already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows, although the fixes are expected to significantly slow down computers.

The specific details of the flaw, which appears to affect virtually all Intel processors made in the last decade and therefore millions of computers running virtually any operating system, have not been made public.

But details of the fixes being developed point to issues involving the accessing of secure parts of a computer’s memory by regular programs. It is feared that the security flaw within the Intel processors could be used to access passwords, login details and other protected information on the computer.

The fixes involve moving the memory used by the core of the computer’s operating system, known as the kernel, away from that used by normal programs. In that way, normal programs, including anything from javascript from a website to computer games, cannot be manipulated to exploit the hole and gain access to the protected kernel memory.

But implementing the fix is expected to significantly affect the performance of the computer, making some actions up to around 30% slower.

While normal computer users could see performance problems, the security flaw also affects cloud servers, with Amazon, Microsoft and Google all expected to have to fix the bug with similar performance-reducing patches.

The exact severity of the flaw has not yet been publicly disclosed, but the lengths being taken by the various operating system developers to fix something indicates that they view it as a serious problem that apparently cannot be patched with a small update.

More details are expected to be divulged as soon as the end of this week, along with fixes for operating systems.

Intel did not respond to request for comment.

Fox News Medical A-Team member Dr. Marc Siegel on Wednesday asserted that marijuana was “worse than alcohol” for drivers because it stays in the system for days, and that pregnant women could not be trusted not to abuse the drug.

In a segment on Fox & Friends that resembled 1930s-era anti-marijuana propaganda films like “Reefer Madness,” Siegel predicted a dire future for the state of California after it voted to legalize recreational marijuana.

Siegel pointed out, not surprisingly, that more people in Colorado had been caught driving with marijuana in their system following the legalization of the drug. And he also noted that the number of people who had car accidents with marijuana in their system had doubled.

“That doesn’t mean that pot is the cause,” he admitted. “It means that people who die in car wrecks, twice as many as before have some marijuana in their system.”

“It’s worse than alcohol in some ways,” the Fox News doctor added. “It stays in your system for days and days and days — THC — so it impairs judgement. That’s what you need with driving. You know, it impairs how you are thinking, where you perceive the next car being.”

“It’s got to increase car accidents!” Siegel exclaimed.

Siegel opined that expectant mothers with morning sickness could not be counted on to abstain from the drug because it is known to suppress nausea.

“You know what that leads to?” he asked. “It leads to children who have behavioral problems, that can’t focus, that have memory problems, that don’t do as well in school, leads to low-birth-weight pre-term infants. This is very bad for pregnancy.”

According to Siegel, just using marijuana once a week could be enough to destroy a person’s relationships and work life.

Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt posited that marijuana users would need to smoke more and more “because you don’t get high if you continue to do it.”

Siegel agreed, adding that the solution to the opioid crisis was to “start with pot, start with marijuana.”

Watch the video below from Fox News.

Brutal winter weather that has brought subzero temperatures to parts of the US and has been blamed for at least 12 deaths was threatening on Wednesday to dump snow and ice across parts of the south that rarely see flurries, much less accumulation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain was expected mainly along the Atlantic seaboard from Florida to North Carolina. It warned that icy roads and low visibility could make driving treacherous.

In Savannah, a coastal city that has not seen measurable snowfall since February 2010, up to 2in (5cm) of snow and sleet were forecast. As city officials filled dump trucks with sand to spread on major streets, the mayor, Eddie DeLoach, urged residents to stay home and keep off the roads.

“The streets will be slick,” DeLoach told a news conference on Tuesday. “We could have some serious issues for folks who aren’t used to driving in this kind of weather.”

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia declared a state of emergency through Friday for 28 counties because of the frigid weather. The weather service said up to 1in (2.5cm) of snow could fall as far south as Tallahassee, Florida. Snow began falling in Tallahassee early on Wednesday – a rare occurrence in the Florida city. Accumulation of 3in to 5in (8cm to 13cm) was possible in eastern North Carolina.

In central Florida, the state’s largest theme parks announced that water attractions such as Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay and SeaWorld’s Aquatica were closed on Wednesday because of the cold snap.

A handout photo made available on 2 January by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) shows the Arctic cold that extends through Canada into the United States.
A handout photo made available on 2 January by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) shows the Arctic cold that extends through Canada into the United States. Photograph: Noaa / Handout/EPA

In Brunswick, Georgia, on the Atlantic coast, law enforcement agencies reported freezing rain and ice on bridges early on Wednesday in south Georgia as a winter storm revved up along the east coast. Brunswick police reported on their official Twitter account that area bridges had begun to ice up.

The icy conditions were also hampering early morning travel in Florida, as authorities were forced to shut a stretch of Interstate 10 east of Tallahassee.

In Atlanta, where the temperature fell to 13F (-11C) before dawn on Tuesday, Dr Brooks Moore, associate medical director in the emergency department of Grady Health System, said: “We have a group of patients who are coming in off the street who are looking to escape the cold – we have dozens and dozens of those every day.”

Warming shelters were opened across the south as freeze watches and warnings blanketed the region, including hard freeze warnings for much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The thing that makes it so frustrating to watch the amnesiac cable news industry is their inability to admit they ever got it wrong, or to take responsibility for getting it wrong. Hell, I'd settle for them changing their approach occasionally! (Remember all their snide comments about the "overprepared" Hillary Clinton? Good times!)

So the Morning Joe bunch was bemoaning the latest "mine's bigger" exchange between giant manbaby Trump and shorter manbaby Kim Jong-un.

Katty Kay opened the discussion.

"In his New Year's Eve address, Kim Jong-un said the whole territory is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button 'is always on the desk of my office. This is just a reality. Not a threat,' " she said.

Trump responded thusly:

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018

"Well, you know, it's uncomfortable to talk about, but he puts stability on the table, I think at an issue. his stability. the president of the united states, his stability. I mean, issuing a tweet like that potentially talking about nuclear war. I mean, c'mon," Mark Barnicle said.

"John, how big your button?" Kay asked.

"I think it's interesting that Alex put up that clip with him from that debate, because when it happened that debate, two years ago, you saw Trump talking in that way, people made the obvious references, it was a joke. and if you cast your mind forward at the time, you thought, people would in kind of a caricature way say a president, somebody on a presidential debate stage talking about his genitals, the size of his package on television, that person is obviously -- where could that lead?" Heilmann said.

"He could, if he ever got in the Oval Office, you could be talking about nuclear war in this context. Well, people would laugh at you. Of course, if he got in the Oval Office, this is not the way he would behave. This was antics, this is how you get attention at a Fox News debate. Here we are two years later, the man is talking about the size of his button on the topic of nuclear war. I agree with Mike, obviously, we have been talking about the stability of the president for a while. That's not a new topic. This re-raises the topic. We are now at the point where the convergence of his inadequacies, his anxieties, his neuroses, his potential mental stability has now intersected with the single most dangerous potential issue that faces us all as humans."


President Donald Trump’s provocative tweets against North Korea are alarming White House officials — but they’re anonymously complaining to reporters instead of taking public action.

The president apparently reacted to a Fox News report about Kim Jong-Un by boasting that his “Nuclear Button” was bigger and more potent than the North Korean leader’s, and the tweet was just as alarming inside the White House as it was elsewhere, reported Axios.

“Every war in history was an accident,” one administration insider told the website’s co-founder, Mike Allen. “You just don’t know what’s going to send him over the edge.”

Allen made clear the insider was referring to Trump being close to the edge.

“This is the most important issue on the president’s desk,” one outside adviser to the West Wing told Axios. “We are in a hair-trigger environment, and this is potentially a shooting war with nuclear risk.”

Trump insiders cautioned Allen that the media tends to overanalyze the president’s social media outbursts, saying he often thoughtlessly lashed out on Twitter just to stir controversy.

But White House insiders also pointed out that the risk of war with North Korea was actually higher than most outsiders realized, and the outside adviser questioned Trump’s social media provocations in this context.

“What intel analysis or foreign policy advice leads to employing this as a tactic?” the outside adviser said.

The anonymously voiced concerns fits a pattern of Republicans questioning Trump’s fitness in private but taking virtually no public action to hold him accountable.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough has been saying for months that GOP lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, question the president’s mental stability and competence in private conversations but “debase” themselves by publicly backing him.

“The very people on the stage saying those things are the ones quietly behind the scenes telling every reporter that will listen to them how embarrassed they are to be associated with him — every one of them,” Scarborough recently said. “They roll their eyes, they mock him, they’re humiliated to be associated with that man. Then they go out and get behind the microphone and say (praise his leadership).”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) voiced his deep concerns about Trump during an October interview with the New York Times, but since then he has backed the president’s agenda.

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.

Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News, is a central figure in the nasty, cutthroat drama, quoted extensively, often in salty language.

He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr replied in an email: “I love it.”

The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Interactive

Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed last May, following Trump’s dismissal of FBI director James Comey, to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This has led to the indictments of four members of Trump’s inner circle, including Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges; Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In recent weeks Bannon’s Breitbart News and other conservative outlets have accused Mueller’s team of bias against the president.

Trump predicted in an interview with the New York Times last week that the special counsel was “going to be fair”, though he also said the investigation “makes the country look very bad”. The president and his allies deny any collusion with Russia and the Kremlin has denied interfering.

Bannon has criticised Trump’s decision to fire Comey. In Wolff’s book, obtained by the Guardian ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England, he suggests White House hopes for a quick end to the Mueller investigation are gravely misplaced.

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Last month it was reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution that has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner property empire. Bannon continues: “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

He insists that he knows no Russians, will not be a witness, will not hire a lawyer and will not appear on national television answering questions.

Fire and Fury will be published next week. Wolff is a prominent media critic and columnist who has written for the Guardian and is a biographer of Rupert Murdoch. He previously conducted interviews for the Hollywood Reporter with Trump in June 2016 and Bannon a few months later.

He told the Guardian in November that to research the book, he showed up at the White House with no agenda but wanting to “find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling”. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments of the fledgling presidency.

The rancour between Bannon and “Javanka” – Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump – is a recurring theme of the book. Kushner and Ivanka are Jewish. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, is quoted as saying: “It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.”

Trump is not spared. Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.”


An Arkansas family woke one morning to find all of their livestock dead from unidentified wounds.

According to WREG, the Woodruff County family quit for the day at approximately 7 p.m., When they woke the following morning to begin the morning farm routine, they discovered their animals had been slaughtered.

The Woodruff County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook calling it a “massacre” at the farm in the Pumpkin Bend community.

“Fenced animals including goats, an alpaca, and a calf were slain,” Sheriff Phil Reynolds stated. He also said they’re offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the people responsible.

William Wiggins and his daughter have spent 10 years raising and caring for the farm animals as if they were part of the family.

“We loved on them, fed them bottles, took them in the house when they were sick,” Wiggins told WBRC. “Everyone knows how much they love their dogs and cats, imagine losing a whole herd of them at one time.”

“When you show up at the pen to check on them in the morning time and every one of them laying in the pen is dead from some type of wound, we all cried,” he continued.

Reynolds called the criminals cowards and described it as an abhorrent crime.

“Whoever cowardly did this heinous act to animals as innocent as these in captivity, they will be punished to the extent of the law in the fullest,” Reynolds said.

Since the post first went up on Friday, Reynolds said that the community has seen an “outpouring of support.”

“We appreciate each and every one of you. Tuesday morning we will be setting up an account at Merchant and Planters Bank in McCrory,” Reynolds posted on Facebook. “The account name will be Wiggins Reward Fund. Once again, we want to thank each one of you for your thoughts and concerns as we investigate this matter.”

A homeless man hailed as a hero after the Manchester Arena bombing has admitted stealing from victims of the attack.

Chris Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester crown court on Wednesday and was told by the judge to expect a prison sentence.

Parker admitted two counts of theft and one count of fraud. He stole a purse belonging to Pauline Healey, who was seriously injured in the blast, and then used her bank card at a McDonald’s in Manchester in the following days.

Healey’s 14-year-old granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski died in the attack on 22 May.

Parker also admitted stealing a mobile phone belonging to a teenage girl caught up in the attack, who cannot be named.

More than £50,000 was raised for him as part of a crowdfunding effort following the attack after he told journalists he had rushed to help the victims.

But CCTV showed him rifling through Healey’s bag as her granddaughter lay dying. He never received the money raised for him.

Parker had been due to stand trial on Tuesday but failed to show up. The court heard he had not been seen since shortly after Christmas when he was discharged from Calderdale hospital in West Yorkshire. His electronic tag was found in an empty soup tin outside his bail hostel in Halifax and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Early on Wednesday morning he was found by police hiding in a loft in Halifax and was brought to court, where he changed his plea to guilty.

The court heard that Parker had failed to answer bail on a number of occasions over the past month and had sent text messages to his mother and ex-partner saying he intended to avoid going to court.

In one message he suggested he was going to commit a robbery “and go on the run”. In another he suggested he was going to hurt himself.

At earlier court hearings, Parker loudly protested his innocence and insisted he had done nothing wrong. But he had a change of heart on Wednesday.

Had his case gone to trial the jury would have seen CCTV footage of Parker at the Arena shortly after the bomb went off. Wearing a woolly hat and carrying a rucksack, he could be seen circling the victims, who were scattered across the foyer and lying in pools of blood.

At one point he appeared to kick a handbag across the floor and then go and look into it. He could also be seen looking through a coat left on a staircase.

The jury would also have seen photographs Parker took on his own mobile phone and subsequently tried to sell to the media. They included a shot of Healey next to Sorrell and Sorrell’s mother, Samantha, who was also injured. Another photograph showed what appeared to be a nail, which may have been used as shrapnel in the bomb which killed 22 people.

The family, from Leeds, had not attended the concert but had come to pick up others who had.

Parker faced eight counts in total but denied five offences, including attempting to steal a coat and a bag and using Healey’s Yorkshire Bank card at Tesco on Deansgate in Manchester and to buy a public transport ticket.

The prosecution decided to accept Parker’s three guilty pleas and not to proceed to trial on the other five counts.

Parker was widely hailed in the media as a hero in the aftermath of the bombing after he described cradling a dying woman.

The day after the bombing, Parker gave an interview to the Press Association saying he had been begging in the foyer area of the arena at the time of the blast. He said: “It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away, my gut instinct was to run back and try and help.”

A total of 3,799 people pledged £52,589 for Parker in the days after the attack via a crowdfunding campaign. Michael Johns, who started the GoFundMe campaign, invited members of the public to donate money in “an effort to help one of our most vulnerable in society who showed great selflessness and courage”.

After Parker was charged, Johns told the Guardian he had yet to receive the money, and that the fund would “likely to be rolled up within a matter of hours in the event of a guilty verdict/plea”.

Parker will be sentenced on 30 January. The judge, David Hernandez, said: “A custodial sentence is most likely in this case.”

The court heard Parker has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2000 and has been convicted of offences including shoplifting, theft and criminal damage. In January 2016 he was found guilty of battery and theft from a dwelling and made the subject of a restraining order.

In July another man, Michael Popik, 24, was jailed after being caught using bank cards stolen from Healey. He did not steal the cards but was captured on CCTV using them at several outlets in the weeks following the attack.

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Imaging What A New Diddy Kong Racing Might Look Like

Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 was never able to escape that long shadow cast by Mario Kart. While the game got a remake for the DS, it never got a true successor. And if we’re being honest, it probably never will. Fortunately there’s a fan video to help fill the void left by its eternal absence.

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Foreign governments are granting Trump projects big favors to get what they want from...

President Donald Trump purportedly stepped away from his business interests for the duration of his term as president, but Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen says that foreign governments are granting favors and greasing the wheels for Trump-branded projects around the world.

Anita Kumar at McClatchy reported that the Indonesian government has chosen to build a new road to shorten the drive between the island chain’s main airport and the new Trump golf resort.

In Panama, the national government directly intervened in a lagging sewer project connected to the new Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. The original contractor tasked with constructing the system went bankrupt, prompting the government to use its own money to construct sewage and water pipes connecting to the resort hotel.

“And in other countries,” Kumar wrote, “governments have donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.”

As Nguyen noted, all of this appears to place Trump squarely in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or anything that might be constituted as a bribe from foreign governments.

However, she said, “Just weeks after Trump won the election, the Argentinian government suddenly granted a permit for a long-delayed Trump Tower development in Buenos Aires. In September, Trump’s Middle Eastern business partners granted a company partially owned by the Chinese government a contract to build a road to Trump World Golf Club in Dubai, seemingly going against his pledge to not engage in foreign business transactions during his presidency. And, of course, there is the ongoing constitutional crisis that is the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C., which critics claim violates the Emoluments Clause on a regular basis.”

Two lawsuits have been brought against the Trump administration alleging these violations, one of which was dismissed by a judge just before Christmas.

Kumar spoke with Noah Bookbinder of the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who said, “If you have a foreign government providing a benefit to the Trump company that is going to violate emoluments clause of the Constitution.”

The president is reportedly receiving boons to his projects — which he claims he handed over to the management of his sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump — from the governments of Uruguay, India and the Philippines.

Read the full McClatchy report here.

Mormon leader Thomas Monson dies aged 90

Thomas S Monson, who served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church for 50 years and became its president in 2008, has died. He was 90.

Monson was a church bishop at 22 and in 1963 the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever, at 36. He was a counselor for three church presidents before assuming leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monson died at his home in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M Nelson, 93, per church protocol.

Monson’s presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity, including the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney. His most public acts were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as dedications of church temples.

He will be remembered for continuing the religion’s push to be more transparent about its past; his emphasis on humanitarian work; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.

He will also be remembered for leading the faith’s involvement in the passage of a gay marriage ban in California in 2008. At his urging, Mormons were vigorous campaign donors and volunteers. That prompted a backlash against the church that included vandalism of church buildings, protest marches and demonstrations outside church temples nationwide.

In subsequent years, the church began utilizing a softer tone on the issue. In 2015, the church backed an anti-discrimination law in Utah that gave unprecedented protections for gay and transgender people while also protecting religious freedoms.

But the religion came under fire again in the fall of 2015 when it banned baptisms for children living with gay parents and instituted a requirement that those children disavow homosexual relationships before being allowed to serve a mission. The changes were designed to avoid putting children in a tug-of-war between their parents and church teachings, leaders said.

Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the dedication of the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009.
Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

The revisions triggered anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBTQ-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more love and understanding for LGBTQ members.

Monson also continued the church’s push to be more open about some of the most sensitive aspect of the faith’s history and doctrine. A renovated church history museum reopened in 2015 with an exhibit acknowledging the religion’s early polygamous practices, a year after the church published an essay that for the first time chronicled founder Joseph Smith’s plural wives.

Other church essays issued during Monson’s tenure addressed other sensitive topics: sacred undergarments worn by devout members; a past ban on black men in the lay clergy; and the misconception that Mormons are taught they will get their own planet in the afterlife.

The growth and globalization of the religion continued under Monson, with membership swelling to nearly 15.9 million, with more than half outside the US. There were 71,000 church missionaries serving around the world at the end of 2016.

Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church’s disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Monson often credited his mother, Gladys Condie Monson, for fostering his compassion. He said that during his childhood in the Depression of the 1930s their house in Salt Lake City was known to hobos riding the railroads as a place to get a meal and a kind word.

“President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” Mauss said.

A second world war veteran, Monson served in the navy and spent a year overseas before returning to get a business degree at the University of Utah and a master’s degree in business administration from the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Before being tabbed to join the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Monson worked for the church’s secular businesses, primarily in advertising, printing and publishing including the Deseret Morning News.

He married Frances Beverly Johnson in 1948. The couple had three children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Frances died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Monson was an avid fisherman who also raised homing pigeons, specifically, roller pigeons who twirled as they flew. He was known for his love of show tunes, Boy Scouts and the Utah Jazz.

The man expected to take Monson’s seat, the 93-year-old Nelson, has been a church apostle since April 1970. Nelson will choose two new counselors from the Quorum of the Twelve who will join him to form a three-person “presidency” that is the top of the religion’s governing hierarchy. Monson’s two counselors were Henry Eyring and Dieter Uchtdorf. They will go back to being regular members of the Quorum unless they are chosen again.

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How Donald Trump’s war on intelligence is destroying American national security

President Donald Trump’s insecurity over losing the popular vote and the salacious allegations in the Steele Dossier have prompted him to lash out at the intelligence community’s claims that Russia influenced the 2016 election. Now that war against the intelligence community is impacting American national security.

A Wednesday Washington Postreport revealed that the National Security Agency is hemorrhaging staff at an alarming rate. Some of these “highly skilled” staffers have become “disillusioned” with intelligence but the leadership and a reorganization effort under the new administration has sent many to update their resumes.

The work these experts do included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information. Yet, these staffers saying that they want a higher-paying job in the private sector or more flexible hours.

Since 2015, hundreds of hackers, engineers and data scientists have bailed on the NSA, former officials said. Now it’s reaching a level that national security can be impacted. Of the 17 spy agencies, the NSA is the largest and they’re responsible for collecting the information that goes into the presidential daily briefing that Trump doesn’t understand. Over the first year in office, aides have even been forced to tailor the briefing so it doesn’t include anything about Russian interference in the election so as to not anger Trump.

“Some synonym of the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said former NSA senior researcher Ellison Anne Williams. She left her job at the NSA in 2016 to start her own data-security firm and took 10 NSA staff with her. “The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongest technical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit.”

The agency won’t disclose the number of vacancies over the last year, but it said there is 5.6 percent decrease in staff who specialize in science, technology and math. The NSA isn’t the only place the Trump administration has implemented the right-wing war on science. In Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, scientists became the enemy. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was told never to say the words “climate change.” Losing the experts means new staff are filling the positions without the experience central to the NSA’s mission collecting huge swaths of data and analyzing it.

Former staff have complained that they felt their mission was marginalized by a restructuring of the agency. Others allege the reorganization was “an enormous distraction.” Some even call the pay structure and promotion program part of the problem. According to former staff, it prioritizes seniority over experience or expertise.

Another former employee alleged that the problems began with former contractor Edward Snowden and the arrest of former contractor Harold T. Martin III in 2016. Accessing data and information became more difficult for those trying to do their jobs. The witch hunt searching for leakers made things worse. An environment with collaboration has turned toward suspicion, a former staffer said.

“It comes down to death by a thousand cuts,” said a former employee, adding that people “tend to quit in packs. One person hits their breaking point, and once they leave, the dominoes start falling.”

NSA spokesman Tommy Groves didn’t discount the reports.

“If the price of security becomes that we drive away the very men and women that generate value in the first place, we now have a self-induced mission kill,” National Security Agency Director Administrator Michael Rogers said in a conference speech.

Trump’s attacks on the 17 intelligence agencies that confirmed the Russian interference couldn’t have made morale any better. After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump swore that Russia didn’t do it.

“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters in November. “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Trump has also waged a war with the FBI, calling it “tainted” and alleging it is part of the “deep state” shadow government.

“It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it’s obstructing justice by saying to agents, ‘you better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,'” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said to MSNBC.

The only way to maintain staff is to tape into the sense of duty “for God and country,” said former threat operations center chief Daniel Ennis. He thinks the agency will recover, because it always has.