How Trump walked into Putins web – Trending Stuff

Trump and Putin at the Apec summit in Vietnam this week. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS

In September, Steele went back to Rome. There he met with an FBI team. Their response was one of shock and horror, Steele said. The bureau asked him to explain how he had compiled his reports, and to give background on his sources. It asked him to send future copies.

Steele had hoped for a thorough and decisive FBI investigation. Instead, it moved cautiously. The agency told him that it couldnt intervene or go public with material involving a presidential candidate. Then it went silent. Steeles frustrations grew.

Later that month, Steele had a series of off-the-record meetings with a small number of US journalists. They included the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorker and CNN. In mid-October he visited New York and met with reporters again.

Comey then announced he was reopening an investigation into Clintons use of a private email server. At this point, Steeles relationship with the FBI broke down. The excuse given by the bureau for saying nothing about Trump looked bogus. In late October, Steele spoke to the Mother Jones editor David Corn via Skype.

The story was of huge significance, way above party politics, Steele said. He believed Trumps Republican colleagues should be aware of this stuff as well. Of his own reputation, Steele said: My track record as a professional is second to no one. Steele acknowledged that his memos were works in progress, and was genuinely worried about the implications of the allegations. The story has to come out, he told Corn.

At this point Steele was still anonymous, a ghost. But the ghosts message was rapidly circulating on Capitol Hill and inside Washingtons spy agencies, as well as among certain journalists and thinktanks. Democratic senators now apprised of Steeles work were growing exasperated. The FBI seemed unduly keen to trash Clintons reputation while sitting on explosive material concerning Trump.

One of those who was aware of the dossiers broad allegations was the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat. In August Reid, had written to Comey and asked for an inquiry into the connections between the Russian government and Donald Trumps presidential campaign. In October, Reid wrote to Comey again. This time he framed his inquiry in scathing terms. In a clear reference to Steele, Reid wrote: In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government The public has a right to know this information.

But all this frantic activity came to nought. Just as Nixon was re-elected during the early stages of Watergate, Trump won the presidential election, to general dismay, at a time when the Russia scandal was small but growing. Steele had found prima facie evidence of a conspiracy, but by and large the US public knew nothing about it. In November, his dossier began circulating in the top national security echelons of the Obama administration. But it was too late.


The same month a group of international experts gathered in Halifax on Canadas eastern seaboard. Their task: to make sense of the world in the aftermath of Trumps stunning victory. One of the delegates attending the Halifax International Security Forum was Senator John McCain. Another was Sir Andrew Wood, the UKs former ambassador to Russia. Wood was a friend of Steeles and an Orbis associate. Before the election, Steele had gone to Wood and shown him the dossier. He wanted the ambassadors advice. What should he do, or not do, with it? Of the dossier, Wood told me: I took it seriously.

On the margins of the Halifax conference, Wood briefed McCain about Steeles dossier its contents, if true

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Obama tells Alabama voters to reject Roy Moore – Trending Stuff

(CNN)Former President Barack Obama is adding his voice to the Alabama Senate race, imploring voters to go to the polls Tuesday to reject the candidacy of Roy Moore as part of an aggressive effort by Democrats to try and counter President Donald Trump’s full-throated endorsement of the controversial Republican candidate.

“This one’s serious,” Obama says in the call. “You can’t sit it out.”

Two Democratic officials familiar with the Alabama race tell CNN that Obama recorded the phone message in recent days, at the very time Trump stepped up his own involvement in the campaign with a recorded message. Obama does not mention Moore by name.

“Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress,” Obama says. “Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.”

Obama’s message to voters — intended to specifically reach black voters whose turnout is critical for Democratic candidate Jones — comes on the eve of a special election that has drawn extraordinary national attention and divided the Republican Party over whether sexual allegations against Moore make him unfit for office.

Multiple women have accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and one woman has accused him of sexual assault.

The pre-recorded calls from Obama mark his latest return to the political stage less than a year after leaving the White House. He campaigned for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey, both of whom won their races last month.

It’s an open question whether Obama or Trump can wield any influence on the race, but the dueling presidential messages underscore the fiercely competitive nature of the Senate contest that has taken on outsized proportions.

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Doug Jones scores stunning win, but Moore won’t concede – Trending Stuff

Montgomery, Alabama (CNN)Doug Jones on Tuesday became the first Democrat in a generation to win a Senate seat in Alabama, beating Republican Roy Moore amid a firestorm of allegations that the GOP candidate had sexually abused teens.

Moore, however, refused to concede Tuesday night.

“When the vote is this close … it’s not over,” Moore told supporters after Jones declared victory.

The results are nothing short of an embarrassment for President Donald Trump and a disaster for Republicans in Washington as the reliably red state of Alabama elected its first Democratic senator since the early 1990s.

“I think I have been waiting all my life and now I don’t know what the hell to say,” Jones said Tuesday night.

“I am truly overwhelmed,” he added. “We have shown, not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way that we can be unified.”

“This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign — this campaign has been about the rule of law,” he said. “This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life.”

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told CNN that while results are not yet certified, it is “highly unlikely” Jones will not be the winner of the Senate race.

“I would find that highly unlikely to occur … there’s not a whole of mistakes that are made,” Merrill said.

Should the results hold, the Republican Party’s narrow Senate majority will be trimmed to 51-49. And two wings — the establishment led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and an insurgency led by former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — are now in open civil war headed into an already fraught midterm election year.

It’s an especially awkward outcome for Trump, who endorsed Moore on Twitter and rallied for him at a campaign event just across Alabama’s state line.

“This is an earthquake… it’s devastating for the President,” a source close to the White House said.

Moore’s defeat amid allegations of child molestation and sexual assault could fuel growing calls from Democrats for Trump to resign from office over the accusations of sexual assault against him.

Shortly after the race was called, Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”

Large African-American turnout carries Jones

Jones’ victory was fueled by huge turnout — and near-unanimous support — from black voters.

Turnout was much stronger in heavily African-American counties, relative to recent presidential elections, than in rural, white counties.

CNN’s exit poll found that 30% of the electorate was black — a higher share than in the 2008 and 2012 elections, when Barack Obama was on the ballot. The exit poll showed that 96% of black voters backed Jones.

Jones cast the election as an opportunity for Alabama voters to reject the embarrassment he said Moore was sure to bring the state. His campaign focused heavily on turning out African-American voters in the run-up to election day, with civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and other black leaders hitting the trail alongside Jones.

“I love Alabama, but at some point we’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘We’re not a bunch of damn idiots,’” retired basketball star Charles Barkley, who played at Auburn University, said at Jones’ election eve rally in Birmingham.

Moore’s denials fall short

The Moore campaign’s strategy for confronting the allegations was simple: Deflect and deny — rolling out allies to praise Moore’s character without ever directly answering questions about the specifics of the accusations.

His campaign seized on minor openings — the location of the phone in one accuser’s house; the date and location details another accuser had added to what she said was Moore’s signature in her yearbook — to attempt to broadly discredit the allegations.

Moore himself, meanwhile, all but disappeared from the campaign trail — even taking a weekend trip to West Point with his wife on the weekend before the election.

How badly did the sexual allegations damage Moore? Exit polls were virtually split as to whether voters believed the allegations: 51% said they were probably or definitely true while 44% said they were probably or definitely false. A majority of the electorate, 57%, decided who to support before news of Moore’s alleged child molestation and sexual assault broke in November.

Moore’s campaign similarly deflected questions about his long history of controversial remarks — including saying that homosexuality should be a crime and that Muslims should not be allowed in Congress.

It all culminated in a bizarre election eve rally in Midland City, in which an Army friend described Moore deciding to leave a brothel in Vietnam and his wife Kayla Moore responding to Moore being portrayed as anti-Semitic over his attacks on Jewish progressive mega-donor George Soros by declaring, “One of our attorneys is a Jew.”

Moore had hung the election’s results on his own character Monday night.

“I’m going to tell you,” he said then, “if you don’t believe in my character, don’t vote for me.”

McConnell, establishment GOP abandoned Moore

McConnell decided Moore wasn’t worth the headache and withdrew support for him — which means the Senate Republican campaign arm and a super PAC that usually backs its candidates were nowhere to be found in the closing weeks in Alabama.

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US Navy admits aircrew drew penis in the sky – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)In case there was any doubt, the US Navy has confirmed that there is “zero training value” in drawing penises in the sky.

“US Navy air crew, flying an F/A-18 Growler (Electronic Attack Aircraft) assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 130 based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., flew an air pattern over Okanogan County, Washington, on Thursday, November 16, that left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground,” Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Hubbell said.

Several individuals also took to social media to post photos of the phallic drawing.

One mother told news outlet KREM 2 that she was upset that she might have to explain to her young children what the images were.

“The Navy holds its aircrew to the highest standards and we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable,” a statement from the Navy air station said.

“The actions of this aircrew were wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values. We have grounded the aircrew and are conducting a thorough investigation – and we will hold those responsible accountable for their actions,” Hubbell added. “The Navy apologizes for this irresponsible and immature act.”

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Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’ after truck drives on to bike path – Trending Stuff

Suspect, 29, is in hospital after being shot by officer as mayor says attack being treated as a particularly cowardly act of terror

Eight people have been killed and more than a dozen injured after a man drove a truck nearly a mile down a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, striking pedestrians, cyclists and a school bus.

New York Citys mayor, Bill de Blasio, said the incident was being treated as a particularly cowardly act of terror. He said a police officer assigned to the area stopped the attacker by shooting him in the stomach.

After smashing into the school bus, injuring two adults and two children, the 29-year-old suspect exited the truck displaying imitation firearms. Witnesses have said the suspect was shouting Allahu Akbar, Arabic for God is great, before he was shot by police, according to the New York police department (NYPD). The suspect was arrested, and a paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.

The suspect underwent surgery and was in critical condition but was expected to survive. Officials who werent authorised to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified the attacker as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek citizen who came to the US legally in 2010. Saipov has a Florida driving licence but may have been living in New Jersey, reports said.

Uber said Saipov was one of its drivers who had passed a background check and had been actively driving for the ride-hailing app for more than six months.

Map of Manhattan truck attack

Police said the truck drove south after entering a pedestrian and bicycle path along the Hudson river on the south-west side of Manhattan, where it struck a number of people, coming to a stop near Stuyvesant High school, not far from the One World Trade Center site and Rockefeller Park.

Six men were pronounced dead at the scene on the cycle lane and two other people were dead on arrival at hospital.

It is a very painful day in our city, De Blasio said.

The victims include a Belgian citizen and five Argentinians. The five men from Argentina Hernn Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damin Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernn Ferruchi were part of a group of school friends who travelled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation. Another member of the group, Martin Ludovico Marro, remained in hospital.

The justice department said in a statement that a joint terrorism task force that included the FBI, the NYPD and others was investigating the attack.

There have been multiple and conflicting reports of a note and/or flag showing support for Isis had been found in the truck used in the attack. The reports have not been officially confirmed.

Eight people killed after truck drives on to New York bike path video report

The New York Times reported that handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck indicated allegiance to the Islamic State, while CNN said a note was written in English, also indicating support for Isis, and was found inside the truck. Others including the Daily Mail claimed an Isis flag was found in the truck.

A woman from Cincinnati, Ohio, contacted by the Guardian, who identified herself as Dilfuza Iskhakova, said Saipov had stayed at her home for several months about six years ago, after arriving in the US from Uzbekistan. He seemed like a nice guy, but he didnt talk much, said Iskhakova. He only went to work and came back. He used to work at a warehouse.

Iskhakova said Saipov had been applying for a green card during this time. Ohio state records show he registered a business involving vehicles to her home in May 2011. Iskhakova said her family lost contact with Saipov in recent years. She said she thought he had moved from Ohio to Florida, and then to the New York region, and that he had a wife and two young daughters.

She said she did not know if Saipov was religious. Hes from my country, Iskhakova said. His father knows my husband, and sent Sayfullo here because he didnt know anyone.

Officials in New York said additional resources were deployed around the city, where children would be on the streets late into the evening to celebrate Halloween. The citys landmark Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, about six blocks from where the rampage began, continued as usual.

At a news conference, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, said these resources were being deployed out of an abundance of caution and that there was no indication of additional threats.

Donald Trump tweeted about the incident: In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!

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Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and announced plans to relocate the US Embassy there, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and unsettle the prospects for peace.

“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” Trump said from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.

“After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” he added.

Upending decades of foreign policy

Trump’s decision upended seven decades of US foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

“Today, I am delivering,” Trump said, referencing his campaign promise.

But Trump’s move on Wednesday signaled a willingness to prioritize the fulfillment of another campaign promise over warnings from US allies in the region. The decision could also stymie the peace process and increase security risks in a region that is already on edge.

Acknowledging the concerns he fielded a day earlier from regional Arab leaders, Trump underscored his decision by reaffirming the United States’ commitment to helping Israelis and Palestinians reach a peace agreement. He also stressed that his announcement did not mark a shift in US policy on the final boundaries of future Israeli and Palestinian states.

“We are not taking a position on any of the final status issues including the final boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” Trump said. “Those questions are up to the parties involved. The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides.”

Trump’s announcement was warmly received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who seized on the opportunity to call on other countries to join the US in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The President’s decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned and rejected Trump’s decision. Speaking in a televised address, the Palestinian leader said the move will aid extremist organizations to wage holy wars.

“These procedures do also help in the extremist organizations to wage a religious war that would harm the entire region which is going through critical moments and would lead us into wars that will never end which we have warned about and always urged to fight against,” he said.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Trump’s decision “disqualified the United States of America to play any role in any peace process.”

“President Trump just destroyed any policy of a two-state (solution),” Erakat said in a statement. “He has taken an action to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is in total contradiction of agreements signed between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Regional ramifications

The ramifications of Trump’s decision reverberated immediately through Israel, the West Bank and the Middle East, though senior administration officials have acknowledged it will take years for the US to build the new embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump ordered the State Department Wednesday “to begin preparations to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” noting his directive would allow the State Department to begin hiring architects and building contractors to build an embassy he said will be “a magnificent tribute to peace.”

While Trump underscored his announcement with an emphasis on US commitment to a peace deal, the move appeared to signal a reduced commitment on the President’s part to achieving one. Just two months earlier, Trump said he was delaying a decision on moving the embassy to Jerusalem to give peace “a shot.”

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump had said in an interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in October, one of Trump’s evangelical conservative supporters.

And Trump appeared to acknowledge Wednesday that little progress has been made in his administration’s push for peace, as Trump said “we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians” than two decades earlier.

Advisers divided

Trump’s decision on Jerusalem divided the President’s top advisers, with Defense Secretary James Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson privately arguing against unsettling the status quo, senior administration officials told CNN. Vice President Mike Pence, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman pushed in favor of the move, the sources said.

The President’s top officials overseeing the US push for Israeli-Palestinian peace — son-in-law Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt — supported recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, but urged Trump to delay a move on the embassy, the sources said.

Trump’s announcement Wednesday notably took place without Tillerson at his side, while he was flanked by Pence, who had acted as a key liaison to the evangelical community as the decision was crafted.

The impending announcement sent US allies and US officials in the region scurrying to brace for protests and the potential for violence as a result of the announcement.

Palestinian factions called for three days of rage in response to the announcement and US officials issued security warnings for the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem.

Arab leaders in the region and French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, expressed their deep misgivings about Trump’s move in phone calls with the US President on Tuesday, urging Trump to reconsider.

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WWII veteran calls for help and dies as nurses laugh, video shows – Trending Stuff

A hidden video from 2014 showed nurses laughing as a World War II veteran repeatedly called for help and died while in their care.

The family of James Dempsey, 89, of Woodstock, Ga., hid a camera in the late veteran’s room in the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center which captured the night he died.

The video showed the decorated WWII veteran repeatedly calling for help, saying he could not breathe. It also showed the nurses failing to take life-saving measures and laughing as they tried to start an oxygen machine.

Dempsey’s family sued the nursing home in 2014 following the veteran’s death. Dempsey’s family declined to comment on the video, citing a settlement with the nursing home, WXIA-TV reported.

GEORGIA POLICE DISPATCHER FIRED OVER DUI ARREST SAYS SHE WAS ‘VERY DRUNK’

The nursing home’s attorneys attempted to stop media news outlet WXIA-TV from getting the video but a DeKalb County Judge ruled to unseal the footage.

The nurses, including a nursing supervisor, Wanda Nuckles, told Dempsey’s family lawyers in the deposition that when she learned the veteran had stopped breathing, she rushed to his room and took over CPR, keeping it up until paramedics, WXIA-TV reported.

However, the secret video showed that nobody was doing CPR when she arrived, and she did not start immediately. After the attorneys showed Nuckles the video, she told them it was an honest mistake, based on her normal reactions.

When the attorney’s asked what Nuckles was laughing, she said she did not remember.

SCHOOL NIXES BOY’S ‘FAKE NEWS’ T-SHIRT ON FIELD TRIP TO CNN

WXIA-TV reported the nursing home was told of the video in 2015 but did not terminate the nurses until 10 months later. Nuckles and another nurse did not surrender their licenses until this September when the Georgia Board of Nursing was sent a link to the video by the news station.

Records showed the nursing home continued to have problems, including $813,000 in Medicare fines since 2015, WXIA-TV reported. It said the nursing home got a good inspection report in May, but still has Medicare’s lowest score, a one-star rating. The nursing home was currently still open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Egypt hunts for killers after mosque attack leaves at least 235 dead – Trending Stuff

(CNN)The Egyptian military kicked off a hunt for the attackers of a Sufi mosque in the northern Sinai, a military source said, combing the area of Friday’s assault that killed at least 235 people — thought to be the deadliest terror attack on the country’s soil.

If you have photos or video from the attack, you can share them with CNN via WhatsApp at +1 347 322 0415. Please do not put yourself in danger.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to respond to the attack on al Rawdah mosque with “brute force.” Some 109 others were injured, Egyptian state media reported.

No one has claimed responsibility, but the strike bears the hallmarks of an attack by ISIS.

The mosque is known as the birthplace of an important Sufi cleric. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that some ultra-orthodox Muslims consider heretical.

Key developments

Coordinated attack: Gunmen fired on people fleeing after explosions took place at the mosque between Bir al-Abed and the city of al-Arish. The attackers also opened fire on ambulances, witnesses said.

The target: The mosque is known for being the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt’s reaction: The President vowed to restore security and avenge those killed.

‘Ambush’ followed blasts

Blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque, Ahram Online said.

The attack started when an explosive went off in a building adjacent to the mosque, and gunmen fired at worshippers as they fled, eyewitnesses told CNN.

Ashraf Abu Salem 27, said gunmen then went inside the mosque to fire at people. Entering the mosque afterward, he said the bodies looked as if people had been shot in the back. His clothes were stained with the blood of the injured he helped to carry out, but he was unharmed.

The gunmen had set up “ambush” locations and opened fire on ambulances as they were transporting wounded worshippers to al-Arish before the arrival of security services, eyewitnesses reported.

Photos from inside the mosque showed what appeared to be bodies lined up in rows on the carpet.

Osama, who didn’t want his last name used, drove one of the first ambulances to the scene. He said he turned around after shots were fired at the vehicle. Ambulances from al-Arish managed to reach the mosque only after security forces secured the road, he said.

The attackers used automatic weapons, said Diaa Rashwan, the chairman of the state information service. Some victims were also killed by the explosions.

Three days of national mourning

In a short, televised speech after meeting with security officials, Sisi said, “We will respond to this act with brute force against these terrorists. This terrorist act will strengthen our resolve, steadfastness and will to stand up to, resist and battle against terrorism.”

The presidency has declared three days of national mourning.

“Egypt is facing terrorism on behalf of the region and the world,” Sisi said.

Sisi met with several of his top ministers, according to the Ministry of Interior Facebook page. He affirmed his confidence that Egypt is capable of winning the war against terrorism and eradicating it, a spokesman said.

Sisi has expressed concern recently that as ISIS militants flee Iraq and Syria they will come to Egypt.

Ahmed Al-Tayeb, a top Sunni imam, told a nationwide television audience that the Al-Azhar Mosque supports the country’s leadership and the military against the terrorism groups, which he said have a false understanding of Islam.

He said the terrorists killed innocent people, did not distinguish between children, youth or elders, and the attack was a war crime.

Hints of ISIS responsibility

There is no word yet on what happened to the militants involved.

Egyptian security forces face almost daily attacks from ISIS-aligned militants, whom they have been battling in northern Sinai for years. However, mosque attacks are relatively rare in Egypt.

In October 2015, 224 people were killed when a bomb brought down a Russian passenger jet that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula. ISIS’ affiliate in Egypt claimed that attack.

International condemnation

Leaders around the world condemned the mosque attack.

US President Donald Trump called it a “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless” worshippers in Egypt and said terrorism and its ideology must be defeated.

The White House also said in a statement that “the international community must continue to strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorist groups that threaten the United States and our partners and we must collectively discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence.”

According to both nations, Trump reiterated Washington’s solidarity with Egypt in its terror fight during a call with Sisi. The Egyptian President stressed the importance of concerted international efforts to combat terrorism, his office said.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was deeply saddened by the “abhorrent attack.” “My sincere condolences to all those affected by such a barbaric act,” he tweeted.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron also gave their condolences on Twitter, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said his thoughts were with all those affected.

On the Jordanian royal family’s official Twitter account, King Abdullah II condemned what he called a “heinous terrorist attack.”

“We stand with Egyptians in their war against terrorism and against anyone who tries to harm the Egyptian national security,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “for those responsible for today’s horrific attack to be swiftly brought to justice.”

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani tweeted: “Heartbreaking loss of life in the cowardly massacre that took place in Egypt. Acts of barbarism and hatred in the name of God are acts against God himself.”

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Trump’s approval rating just entered a league of its own – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s approval rating sank to a new low in CNN polling on Tuesday, earning the approval of just 35% of Americans less than a year into his first term.

That’s a significant drop from the 45% approval rating that Trump had in March, shortly after taking office.

It marks the worst approval rating in a December of any elected president’s first year in the White House by a wide margin — and only the second time since the dawn of modern polling that a president’s approval rating sank under 50% at this point. A broad 59% of Americans said they disapprove of how Trump is handling his job as president.

George W. Bush ended his first calendar year at 86% approval, John F. Kennedy hit 77%, George H.W. Bush reached 71% and Dwight Eisenhower hit 69%.

Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all finished their first calendar year with approval ratings in the mid-to-high 50s.

Ronald Reagan, previously holder of the worst approval rating in December of a first year in the White House, finished his first calendar year at 49%. (Note: There’s time to recover; Reagan cruised to a landslide reelection despite this distinction.)

This is according to a half century of available polling data from CNN, CNN/ORC, CNN/USA Today/Gallup and Gallup.

Trump maintains strong approval numbers among those in his own party — 85% — but struggles with independents at 33% and Democrats at just 4%.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS December 14-17 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.

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Girl has blunt message for Aetna after her brain surgery request was denied – Trending Stuff

(CNN)Cara Pressman sobbed in the big red chair in her living room. The 15-year-old tried to absorb the devastating news relayed by her parents: that their insurance company, Aetna, denied her for a minimally invasive brain surgery that could end the seizures that have haunted her since she was 9 years old.

“When my parents told me, I went kind of blank and started crying,” she said. “I cried for like an hour.”

Her friends had been lined up to visit her in the hospital for the surgery three days away, on Monday, October 23. Between tears, she texted them that the whole thing was off.

It was supposed to be a joyous weekend. Cara’s grandparents had come to town to celebrate their 90th birthdays, a jubilant party with more than 100 family and friends crowding her home. The party did go on — just with a lot more stress.

Cara had multiple complex partial seizures that weekend. When the seizures strike, her body gets cold and shakes, and she zones out for anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes, typically still aware of her surroundings. Her seizures can be triggered by stress, by being happy, by exerting herself — almost anything. “It’s like having a nightmare but while you’re awake,” she said.

In the six weeks since the denial, Cara has had more than two dozen seizures affecting her everyday life. Her message to Aetna is blunt: “Considering they’re denying me getting surgery and stopping this thing that’s wrong with my brain, I would probably just say, ‘Screw you.’ ”

Aetna: We’re looking out for what’s best for patients

The Pressman family and, separately, Jennifer Rittereiser, a 44-year-old mom who has struggled with seizures since she was 10, approached CNN in recent weeks after they were both denied, by Aetna, for laser ablation surgery, a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin laser is used to heat and destroy lesions in the brain where the seizures are originating.Aetna is the third-largest health insurance provider in the country, providing medical coverage to 23.1 million people.

Neurologists consider laser ablation, which is performed through a small hole in the skull, to be safer and more precise than traditional brain surgery, where the top portion of the skull is removed in order for doctors to operate. The procedure is less daunting for the patient and parents who make decisions for their children: No one likes the idea of a skull opened and a chunk of brain removed.

In denying Cara her surgery, Aetna said it considers laser ablation surgery “experimental and investigational for the treatment of epilepsy because the effectiveness of this approach has not been established.”

“Clinical studies have not proven that this procedures effective for treatment of the member’s condition,” Aetna wrote in its rejection letter.

The insurance company did approve her for the more invasive and more expensive open brain surgery, called a temporal lobectomy, even though her medical team never sought approval for the procedure.

The laser surgery is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is widely recognized within the epilepsy community as an effective treatment alternative to open brain surgery, especially when the location of seizure activity can be pinpointed to a specific part of the brain.

Dr. Jamie Van Gompel, a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic, disputes Aetna’s assessment. He is not involved in Cara’s care nor Rittereiser’s treatment, but he said Aetna’s assessment is wrong.

“I would not call it experimental at all,” said Van Gompel, who is leading a clinical trial on the surgery at Mayo as part of a larger national study. “It’s definitely not an experimental procedure. There’ve been thousands of patients treated with it. It’s FDA-approved. There’s a lot of data out there to suggest it’s effective for epilepsy.”

Van Gompel said a temporal lobectomy carries a much higher risk of serious complications, including the possibility of death. “It’s a big jump to go to a big invasive procedure,” he said.

Recovery time after open brain surgery can range from six to 12 weeks. By contrast, a patient who undergoes laser ablation can be back to work or at school in less than two weeks. The pain from laser surgery is much less, and extreme headaches are fewer than with open brain surgery, Van Gompel said.

While laser ablation has not yet undergone large randomized controlled trials, Van Gompel said existing data shows it’s effective more than 50% of the time. He hopes the current clinical trial will show a success rate of 60% to 70% or better in epilepsy patients. Temporal lobectomies, he said, have a slightly better rate, of more than 70%.

Pressed by CNN for a better explanation on its denial, Aetna stood by its rejection for Cara and Rittereiser, saying it was in the best interest of the patients. But the language was softened slightly.

“Clinical effectiveness and our members’ safety are the primary criteria we use in determining whether a treatment or service is medically necessary,” Aetna said. “There is currently a limited amount of evidence-based, clinical studies related to laser ablation surgery. As noted by the Epilepsy Foundation, only studies with a very small number of participants have been used to report the effectiveness of this procedure. We consistently evaluate any new studies or additional evidence when developing our clinical policy bulletins, and will continue to do so for this procedure.”

Contacted for reaction, the Epilepsy Foundation strongly objected to Aetna’s remarks, saying the insurance company took its information out of context. Laser ablation surgery “has emerged as a new minimally invasive surgical option that is best suited for patients with symptomatic localization-related epilepsy,” said Dr. Jacqueline French, the chief science officer with the Epilepsy Foundation.

“This technology is much less invasive than the alternative, which involves removing a sizeable piece of brain, at a substantially higher monetary and personal cost,” French said. “This path should be available, if the treating epilepsy physician has recommended it, without delay or barriers.”

Phil Gattone, the president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, said insurance denials and other barriers to treatment have become a common battle for thousands of Americans with seizure disorders.

Gattone knows first-hand the pain of what Cara’s parents are going through. His own son began having seizures when he was 4 and underwent brain surgery in the early 1990s. “It was extremely challenging for our family to make a decision to remove part of our child’s skull and brain for a surgery that we hoped would end the devastation of seizures that were stopping his development,” Gattone said. “We took this leap of faith and made the decision, and it worked out the best for him.”

But he added that he and his wife wished laser ablation surgery had been available back then. The device used for laser ablation surgery was approved by the FDA nine years ago. “I know that my wife and I would’ve found much more comfort if we had had (laser ablation) as an option,” he said.

Gattone said people with seizures, their caregivers and their doctors should not be “spending critical time in the midst of a health-care crisis, filing paperwork, making appeals or otherwise going through the motions of administrative paperwork” trying to get approval for a life-changing operation.

“The Epilepsy Foundation can understand no reason why an insurance company would place any barrier to delay a treatment that may save an individual’s life, promote the development of the young child’s brain or bring about seizure control,” Gattone said.

Mom who crashed with kid in car gets denied

Jennifer Rittereiser lost consciousness behind the wheel of her silver SUV while driving with her 7-year-old son, Robert, in April. Her SUV rammed into a car in front of her and struck it again before veering into oncoming traffic. Her vehicle careened down an embankment, flipped over and came to rest on its side amid a tangle of brush. She narrowly missed slamming into a guardrail and several trees.

Mom and son somehow managed to walk free unharmed.

“People were amazed,” she said. “They had a helicopter on the way, actually. I am extremely fortunate just from that sense.”

Rittereiser has battled seizures since she was 10 and has been able to function with an array of medications in the three decades since. For much of her life, she could tell when the seizures might come.

These weren’t like the seizures depicted in Hollywood movies; she wouldn’t fall to the ground and writhe. She would zone out for a spell. She could understand people and could still function but couldn’t speak back — or if she did, her words were garbled.

As an executive in the health care industry, Rittereiser has fallen asleep during meetings. When she senses a seizure coming, she rushes to the bathroom to hide until they go away. One time, she says she urinated on herself at her desk without realizing it.

Rittereiser had a crash in 2014 in which she rear-ended a car after she had a seizure. No one was hurt in that crash, but she stopped driving for more than a year. Her medications were tweaked, and her seizures were largely kept in check, until the crash this April.

She was soon evaluated by an array of doctors and recommended for laser ablation surgery. After 34 years of struggling with seizures, she thought her ordeal might finally come to an end. Surgery was set for June 16.

But in late May, Aetna denied the surgery. She fought Aetna’s decision through a lengthy appeals process. Aetna refused to budge.

“It’s just not right,” Rittereiser said.

She said she recently went to Aetna’s website to look up the company’s values. She felt nauseated. “Everything in their core values is not being shown in the way I’m being treated. They’re talking about promoting wellness and health and ‘being by your side.’ “

She paused, contemplating the company’s “by your side” catchphrase, saying it’s “the most ridiculous thing, because they are the biggest barrier to my success and my well-being going forward.

“It drives me crazy.”

Dad: ‘You get so angry’

Julie Pressman stood near an elevator at her doctor’s office when word came that Cara’s surgery had been denied. The mom fell to the floor and wept.

She called Cara’s father, Robert. He was at the airport picking up his 90-year-old parents for their birthday party. Mom and Dad rallied for their daughter and gathered strength to break the news. That’s when Cara sat in the red chair, crying inconsolably.

“Telling Cara was horrible,” her mom said. “Horrible.”

“It’s just so frustrating for us to know there’s a solution out there — a way to fix our daughter — and some bureaucratic machine is preventing this from happening,” Robert Pressman said. “You get so angry, but you don’t know who to take it out on, because there’s no particular person that’s doing it. It’s this big bureaucracy that’s preventing this from happening.”

Julie and Robert said the most beautiful day of their lives came on August 20, 2002, when Cara popped into the world and met her 2-year-old sister, Lindsey, for the first time. “That was the day we became a family,” Julie said. “Our love for those girls is amazing. How we got this lucky is beyond us.”

But that luck has been tested. When Cara was 9, she’d complained of extreme headaches for much of the day one evening, and then in the middle of the night, she began seizing uncontrollably. The family had two black Labradors that had gone to her room and barked like crazy to alert her parents. Cara had bitten her tongue, and blood was running down her face when they got to the room.

It was a terrifying scene. She was rushed off in an ambulance and underwent a battery of tests. Mom, Dad and Cara never thought they’d still be battling seizures six years later — let alone an insurance company. She’s had seizures on the soccer field, during softball games, on stage during plays, in the classroom. Almost everywhere.

How does she envision a life without seizures?

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never had a life without seizures.”

“You will. You will,” her dad told her.

“I just don’t know when,” she responded.

Mom: “It will happen, kiddo.”

Her mother calls Cara a feisty, petite powerhouse with big marble eyes and long eyelashes and a funny wit to match. She’s a naturally gifted athlete, singer and dancer, but her parents feel that her seizures have kept her from reaching her full potential.

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They long for the day when the seizures are gone. The parents said they have paid $24,000 for insurance with Aetna this year. They’re determined to get Cara laser ablation surgery with or without the insurance company’s help. They will appeal Aetna’s latest rejection — but they’re not optimistic.

In preparation, they’ve begun exploring raiding their retirement funds to pay the $300,000 out of pocket. “Cara is worth every penny, but man,” her mom said. ” ‘Screw Aetna,’ indeed, to quote my kid.”

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