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Washington Post’s YouTube Videos: Gunmen attack bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt
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Washington Post’s YouTube Videos: Gunmen attack bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt
 

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Gunmen left at least 28 people dead after attacking a bus in the Minya region of Egypt on May 26. Read more: http://wapo.st/2rpGdjP

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The Awkward Language of Donald Trump’s Body – New York Times
 


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The Awkward Language of Donald Trump’s Body
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Body language both his and that of the pitiable people around him is telling the story of Donald Trump’s foreign adventure better than anything else. When I say pitiable, I’m thinking about the pope, of course, and the first lady, naturally and more »
AssociatedPress’s YouTube Videos: S.C. Man Pleads Guilty in 7 Killings
 

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A man who admitted killing seven people over nearly 13 years in South Carolina while running a successful real estate business has pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder and a number of other charges. (May 27)

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The Awkward Language of Donald Trump’s Body

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But not for long! Trump batted him out of the way, perhaps mistaking him for a political reporter or picturing James Comey. Then, triumphal, Trump straightened his suit jacket, stiffened his posture and raised his fleshy chin. He was ready for his close-up.

With Trump, struts, scowls and pouts reveal every bit as much as what tumbles from his lips, which is a lot less trustworthy. His words can be counterfeit. His gestures are genuine. So it only makes sense that we lean on them for the narrative of his post-truth presidency, whose latest, foreign chapter brimmed with more awkward physicality than a toddlers’ gymnastics class.

The shove heard round the world was preceded by the curtsy heard round the world, when Trump did precisely what he maligned President Obama for — well, one of the countless things he maligned President Obama for — and approached Saudi Arabia’s monarch, King Salman, in a pose of deference. Hypocrisy, thy name is Trump, and thy knees are bent and thy head is bowed.

Thy sense of rhythm doesn’t exist. Did you see him during that Saudi dance, not so much rattling his saber as dangling it while he wobbled, like a Weeble, from side to side? I imagined the following dialogue balloon above his head: “When I told the king I was a swordsman, this wasn’t what I meant.”

And the dialogue balloon above Pope Francis’s head when he posed with Trump in Vatican City later in the week would have said: “Forgive me, Father, for I cannot fake delight.” I’ve been told by Vatican insiders that the pope never forgets that he’s on camera and that the precise angle of his eyes and curl of his lips are being captured. He stared straight ahead, his mien as joyless as a gulag.

George Bernard Shaw wrote a play titled “Arms and the Man.” Someday somebody will write a Trump biography titled “Hands and the Man.”

From Spy magazine’s long-ago caricature of Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian” to that unforgettable moment during a Republican presidential debate when he displayed his digits to try to prove the opposite — Look, Ma, big hands! — his paws have been at center stage.

That remained true on the trip. In Israel, there was the swat heard round the world, when, walking alongside Bibi Netanyahu across a red carpet, he noticed that Netanyahu was holding his wife’s hand and so reached back for Melania’s.

To say that she withheld it would be an understatement. To say that Twitter and comedians had a field day would be even more of one.

After another, subsequent incident in Rome when Melania seemed to decline the heady opportunity to hold her husband’s hand, Seth Meyers, the host of “Late Night,” joked: “Former C.I.A. Director John Brennan testified today that there was contact between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. However, still no contact between Donald and Melania.”

There’s so much she could still be smarting over, including the inauguration back in January, when her husband bounded out of the car and up the steps before her, rushing to greet the Obamas and leaving her in his wake.

Courtesy: absent. Chivalry: dead. Her revenge came soon after, on the inaugural stage. She let a smile at her husband drop from her face so quickly and emphatically that it was like an announcement to the world that she’d been wearing a mask.

But back to our president’s paws, which aren’t just at center stage but also at the center of so much controversy. When Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany visited him in Washington in mid-March, there was debate over whether he denied her a handshake that she’d suggested or simply didn’t hear her request.

The tension in their postures prompted observations about how much more relaxed she and Obama always seemed, but there was another point of comparison — a weirder one — if President George W. Bush came into the picture. At a G8 summit meeting in St. Petersburg in 2006, he walked up behind Merkel, who was seated, and massaged her shoulders. This visibly surprised her. It didn’t seem to amuse her much, either.

Amusement wasn’t a word that popped to mind when you saw pictures and read accounts of Trump’s encounters with Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected president of France, in Brussels on Thursday. Maybe that’s because Trump was once again sowing doubt about his commitment to NATO. Or maybe that’s because he reportedly told Macron that he’d supported him, even though his affections had clearly been for Marine Le Pen of the National Front.

Whichever the case, Macron at one point seemed to swerve away from Trump, despite Trump’s outstretch arms, so he could embrace Merkel instead.

At another point, during a formal greeting, Macron and Trump “ grabbed each other’s hands, jaws clenched, in an extended grip that turned Mr. Trump’s knuckles white,” according to The Times.

“Their faces tightened,” reported The Washington Post. “Trump reached in first, but then he tried to release, twice, but Macron kept his grip.”

Sacred texts have received less scrupulous analysis than Trump’s foreign-leader handshakes, his presidential-debate snorts (remember those?) and the reactions — aghast, awe-struck, puzzled, peeved — of those who bump up against (or happen to be married to) him.

I think that’s fitting, not just because his actual speech is so honesty-challenged but also because the analyzers are paying respect to the way he takes in information. He prefers television to reading, images to pesky words. Shouldn’t we return the favor when appraising him?

And aren’t we in the right to take note of an Israeli diplomat’s physical reaction when Trump said, in Israel, “We just got back from the Middle East,” as if Israel were in South America or something? The diplomat, Ron Dermer, briefly buried his head in one of his hands.

Do cry for us, Montenegro.

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Inmate hijacks van full of Lino Lakes prisoners and escapes

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An inmate being transported from a Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud to the prison in Lino Lakes hijacked a white transport van full of other prisoners and escaped this morning, authorities said.

The escape occurred just before 11 a.m. Nine have now been taken into custody. One is still at large, James Douglas Mitchell, 26, who is serving prison for felony assault, said Sarah Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. Mitchell was last seen wearing standard prison garb: blue jeans, a white t-shirt and blue button-down shirt.

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The Minneapolis Police Department is searching for Mitchell in north Minneapolis, warning residents to stay indoors and call 911 if they any suspicious activity.

Five inmates were arrested at gunpoint shortly after the escape, and the other four arrested about an hour later. The Department of Corrections has identified five of the inmates involved in the escape.Three were serving time for assault, one for domestic assault and one for a weapons violation. They are: Mitchell, Kevin Ladell Mitchell, 31, Mitchell Dale Saltzman, 36, Dylan Cantrell Bathke, 21, and Paul Jerome Thunder, 39.

Lino Lakes houses about 1,800 minimum- and medium-security male prisoners.

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‘The Germans are bad, very bad’: Trump’s alleged slight generates confusion, backlash

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BERLIN — Allegedly heated comments by President Trump about a key U.S. ally — Germany — generated a fresh swirl of confusion Friday around an administration that has already had more than its fill.

During a meeting Thursday with European Union officials in Brussels, Trump allegedly said, “The Germans are bad, very bad,” according to Germany’s Spiegel Online, which cited unnamed sources in the room. He continued, the outlet said, by saying: “See the millions of cars they are selling in the U.S.? Terrible. We will stop this.”

On Friday, the report spread rapidly through the German press and social media, igniting a backlash, including one response by a German industry group saying Trump’s protectionist stance would make him “a loser.”

But what did Trump actually say?

European officials — and Trump’s administration — offered contradictory accounts.

Trump scolds world leaders at NATO ceremony

President Trump criticized leaders at a dedication ceremony at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, saying they need to increase financial contributions to combat “the threat of terrorism.” Trump says leaders need to increase financial contributions to combat “the threat of terrorism.” (The Washington Post)

(The Washington Post)

Part of the backlash stemmed, perhaps, from a poor translation: In its German-language editions, Spiegel used the word “böse” — which can mean “bad” but is closer to the English word “evil.” In another report, the German outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung cited a similar quote from Trump but translated the word he used as “schlecht” — a milder German word for “bad.”

In a later tweet from Spiegel Online’s main account, it clarified that Trump had indeed used the English word “bad” and not “evil.”

Yet even that remained in dispute, with the administration offering no clarity — again highlighting the communication problems that continue to plague the White House.

[Trump’s visit to Israel was a success for what he didn’t say]

One of the key figures in the room during the meeting, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said the Der Spiegel report was off.

“He didn’t say the Germans are behaving badly,” Juncker told journalists in Sicily ahead of the start of a Group of Seven summit involving the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan. “He said we have a problem, as others do, with the German surplus. So he was not aggressive at all. Bad doesn’t mean evil.”

Soon afterward, White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to leap on Juncker’s comments to debunk the story. Responding to a tweet by New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman about the Der Spiegel article, Spicer wrote: “Except it’s not true: Juncker says Trump was not aggressive on German trade surplus.”

[Sean Spicer didn’t get to meet the pope. Even reporters feel sorry for him.]

And yet, when asked on the sidelines in Sicily, chief White House economic adviser Gary Cohn seemed to confirm that the president had said something about “bad” German trade practices.

“He said they’re very bad on trade but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany,” Cohn said. “He said his dad is from Germany. He said, ‘I don’t have a problem with Germany. I have a problem with German trade.’ ”

Another official with direct knowledge of the Thursday meeting told The Washington Post on Friday that Trump had never used the word “bad.”

“He did say yesterday that there’s a massive deficit that he doesn’t intend to put up with, but nothing about Germany being bad,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting with top leaders. Cohn was not taking formal notes during the conversation, the official said.

During an appearance with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump ignored a question from a reporter who asked whether he had called the Germans “bad.”

In Germany, however, the incident seemed to highlight suggestions of a growing rift between Washington and Berlin after the frosty March meeting between the president and Chancellor Angela Merkel, who Trump repeatedly jabbed at on the campaign trail last year. In a January interview with the European press, Trump called out German corporate titans including BMW, warning that they may face fat tariffs on U.S. imports should they keep building cars in Mexico.

Asked about Trump’s alleged comments, Germany’s deputy government spokesman, Georg Streiter, said in Berlin on Friday that “a trade surplus is neither bad nor evil; it’s the result of the interplay between supply and demand on world markets.”

Martin Schulz, the candidate from the center left who is challenging Merkel in this year’s election, appeared to more generally condemn Trump’s aggressive behavior toward Germany as Europe as a whole Europe at the Brussels gathering. In the meeting, Trump also demanded that allies pay more for their defense and held back on offering an unconditional pledge to honor NATO’s treaty commitment that an attack on a single alliance nation is an attack on all.

[Trump chastises fellow NATO members, demands they meet payment obligations]

“Such humiliating treatment is to be rebuffed,” Schulz said in Berlin, according to German press reports. “One does not need to accept something like that.”

Norbert Röttgen, head of the foreign affairs committee of the German parliament who hails from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Spiegel Online: “U.S. President Trump isn’t capable to lead the Western alliance. In any case, he isn’t interested in it at the moment.”

The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quipped: “It’s worth having a look at other Trump quotes: Who else does the president find “bad.” Suddenly the Germans find themselves in the company of North Korea . . . and Mexican drug gangs.”

Some wore the alleged slight as a badge of honor: “#The Germans are very, very bad’ #Trump. Haven’t been praised like that in a while,” tweeted Bernd Ulrich, a journalist with Die Zeit.

André Schwarz, spokesman for the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA), called Trump’s stance on Germany’s trade surplus wrongheaded.

“The right way is to improve one’s own competitiveness instead of trying to gain advantages by means of some kind of import tariffs” on “good” German products, he said.

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He added, “We shouldn’t be too concerned with rhetoric, but it’s important to clarity that [his position] will make him a loser.”

Some in Germany, however, gave Trump the benefit of the doubt, instead blaming the German press for stoking the fires of animosity with a bad translation.

“It’s not easy, but sometimes evil German journalists should quote #Trump properly,” tweeted German user Andreas Wolf. “For example when he says BAD instead of EVIL! #germansarebad.”

Philip Rucker in Sicily, Michael Birnbaum in London and Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin contributed to this report.

Read more

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Russian Orthodox Old Believers: Keeping their faith and fighting fires in the West Siberian Plain

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Editor’s note: In the summer of 2016, Emile Ducke traveled (with the help of local fixer and fellow journalism student, Alina Pinchuk) into the Siberian plain east of the Ural Mountains in search of a small enclave of Russians who still practice a 17th century version of Russian Orthodox Christianity. Here is what he found.

In the West Siberian Plain is the isolated village of Aidara. Only reachable by the river Ket, passage to the village requires attention and experience, as fallen trees from the surrounding forest often create obstacles under the water’s surface. The next biggest settlement is about three hours downriver. The village’s 150 inhabitants mainly consist of Russian Orthodox Old Believers, a sect of the church that follows strict rituals that predate 17th century reforms.

Old Believers see themselves as the preservers of original Orthodox traditions. They separated from the main church as a protest and continue liturgical practices that the Russian Orthodox Church had before the implementation of reforms made by Patriarch Nikon in 1652 in an effort to align closer to Greek Orthodox churches.

The Old Believers endured severe punishment until the beginning of the 20th century. To avoid persecution, Old Believers settled mostly in isolated locations. There was a short “Golden Age of the Old Faith” between 1905 and 1917, after Czar Nicholas II signed a measure ending persecution of all religious minorities in Russia. But the Old Believers were again marginalized by the Soviets.

During the Communist era, the village of Aidara was turned into a kolkhoz, a collective farm, and Old Believers, living there at that time, could not practice their faith openly, but they remained in the village. With the fall of the Soviet Union, more Old Believers came to settle in Aidara, one even returning from exile in South America.

Today, several big families in Aidara keep the pre-reform traditions. Because there is no church in Aidara, relatives and neighbors gather in prayer rooms at their homes, to read the sacred scriptures in Church Slavonic language. On some occasions those services take place several times per week, especially on feast days; sometimes lasting all night.

Beside practicing their faith, the lives of Aidara’s inhabitants consists of exhausting work in the farm fields and gardens. Their sustenance is almost self-sufficient. A helicopter delivers whatever else is needed, along with the mail, every two weeks. On mail days, the inhabitants gather at the landing spot, awaiting their connections to the outside world.


Stepan Borisov and his son Maxim work together in the fields during the hay harvest. The cut grass is pulled together and held in haystacks to feed the cows during the winter. (Emile Ducke)

Borisov and his children Andrey, Ustina and Maxim take a break in the hay fields. (Emile Ducke)

Alexandra Lobanova works in the garden of her home. She is growing potatoes, onions, radish and other ground vegetables. (Emile Ducke)

Every two weeks a helicopter delivers freight and mail. On those dates Aidara’s residents gather at the landing spot. (Emile Ducke)

Children get early education in the Church Slavonic language to participate in services. (Emile Ducke)

Antonina Borisova and Stepan Borisov, dressed in their traditional praying clothes. They host services in a special room at their home for family members and neighbors. (Emile Ducke)

The Aidara cemetery is located a somewhat outside the village. The three-barred cross of the Russian Orthodox Church marks the graves. (Emile Ducke)

Dmitriy Polevchuk in the morning after five hours of night service. For the religious service relatives and neighbors gather to pray together and to read sacred scriptures. (Emile Ducke)

Inhabitants of Aidara put a boat in the water to travel down the river to get supplies from the next settlement, which is three hours away. (Emile Ducke)

During the 2016 forest fire, Aidara’s residents use controlled backfires to bring the fire under control and defend their village. (Emile Ducke)

Alexandra Lobanova and her daughter Katya watch the wildfire coming closer. (Emile Ducke)

The villagers make sure that the laid backfire doesn’t change direction. It took the residents of Aidara several days to bring the wildfire under their control, but not before parts of wood stocks for winter were destroyed. (Emile Ducke)

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Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation

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Jared Kushner is now a focus in the Russia investigation

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation. The Post’s Matt Zapotosky explains the development. Jared Kushner is now a focus in the Russia investigation (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

(The Washington Post)

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

The Washington Post reported last week that a senior White House official close to the president was a significant focus of the high-stakes investigation, though it did not name Kushner.

FBI agents also remain keenly interested in former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.

The Post has not been told that Kushner is a target — or the central focus — of the investigation, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. “Target” is a word that generally refers to someone who is the main suspect of investigators’ attention, though prosecutors can and do bring charges against people who are not marked with that distinction.

Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests

“Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry,” said Jamie Gorelick, one of his attorneys.

In addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.

[Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with case say]

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said, “I can’t confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of investigations or subjects of investigations.” The FBI declined to comment.

At the time of the December meetings, Trump already had won the election. Contacts between people on the transition team and foreign governments can be routine, but the meetings and phone calls with the Russians were not made public at the time.

In early December, Kushner met in New York with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and he later sent a deputy to meet with Kislyak. Flynn was also present at the early-December meeting, and later that month, Flynn held a call with Kislyak to discuss U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia. Flynn initially mischaracterized the conversation, even to Vice President Pence — ultimately prompting his ouster from the White House.

Kushner also met in December with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, which has been the subject of U.S. sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni participate in a joint news conference at the White House on April 20. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

In addition to the December meetings, a former senior intelligence official said FBI agents had been looking closely at earlier exchanges between Trump associates and the Russians dating to the spring of 2016, including one at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Kushner and Kislyak — along with close Trump adviser and current attorney general Jeff Sessions — were present at an April 2016 event at the Mayflower where then-candidate Trump promised in a speech to seek better relations with Russia. It is unclear whether Kushner and Kislyak interacted there.

The New York Times reported that Kushner omitted from security-clearance forms his December meetings with Kislyak and Gorkov, though his attorney said that was a mere error and he told the FBI soon after that he would amend the forms. The White House said that his meetings were normal and inconsequential.

Kushner has agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting one of several investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In many ways, Kushner is a unique figure inside the White House.

He is arguably the president’s most trusted adviser, and he is also a close member of the president’s family. His list of policy responsibilities is vast — his foreign policy portfolio alone includes Canada and Mexico, China, and peace in the Middle East — yet he rarely speaks publicly about any of them.

Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III is now leading the probe into possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, and he has set up shop in the Patrick Henry Building in downtown D.C. Even before he was picked by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to take over the case, investigators had been stepping up their efforts — issuing subpoenas and looking to conduct interviews, people familiar with the matter said.

A small group of lawmakers known as the Gang of Eight was recently notified of the change in tempo and focus in the investigation at a classified briefing.

It is unclear exactly how Mueller’s leadership will affect the direction of the probe. This week, Justice Department ethics experts cleared him to take over the case even though lawyers at his former firm, WilmerHale, represent several people who could be caught up in the matter, including Kushner, Manafort and Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is married to Kushner.

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Mueller resigned from the firm to take over the investigation.

Investigators are continuing to look aggressively into the dealings of Flynn, and a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., recently issued a subpoenas for records related to Flynn’s businesses and finances, according to people familiar with the matter.

Flynn’s company, the Flynn Intel Group, was paid more than $500,000 by a company owned by a Turkish American businessman close to top Turkish officials for research on Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who Turkey’s president claims was responsible for a coup attempt last summer. Flynn retroactively registered with the Justice Department in March as a paid foreign agent for Turkish interests.

Separately from the probe now run by Mueller, Flynn is being investigated by the Pentagon’s top watchdog for his foreign payments. Flynn also received $45,000 to appear in 2015 with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a dinner for RT, a Kremlin-controlled media organization.

Read more:

Here’s why the FBI is likely to be interested in Jared Kushner’s meeting with Russians

The investigation of Jared Kushner fits a very troubling pattern

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Here’s why the FBI is likely to be interested in Jared Kushner’s meeting with Russians

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