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Who are the key players in the Russia/Trump saga?

Published: Monday, March 13, 2017 @ 4:56 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 11:57 AM

What You Need to Know: Paul Manafort

Here are some of the key players in the Trump-Russia story.

Paul Manafort

Manafort was the chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign, but resigned in August 2016 after revelations surfaced about his work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to The Associated Press, Manafort “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy.” A U.S. lobbyists must declare publicly if they represent any foreign leaders or political parties. The New York Times reported that Manafort spoke to Russian intelligence officials last year via telephone calls that were monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. Manafort has denied that he spoke with the Russians. Manafort has also been linked to handwritten ledgers that list cash payments of $12.7 million by Manafort’s name. 

Michael Cohen

Cohen is Donald Trump’s personal attorney. According to a New York Times report, Cohen was involved with a peace plan for the Ukraine and Russia that involved the U.S. removing sanctions on Russia in return for Russia ending its support of pro-Russia separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine. In addition to having sanctions removed, the deal would allow Russia to cement its control over Crimea. Russian annexed Crimea in 2014. The Times story claims that Cohen delivered the peace plan to Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who was forced to resign last month. Cohen told The Washington Post that he did not deliver a plan to Flynn, but that he had met with businessman Felix Sater and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko in New York in January and talked about a peace plan for the Ukraine for “about 15 minutes.” Artemenko said that the plan was, indeed, delivered to the White House.

Michael Flynn

Flynn was Trump’s national security adviser – for three weeks. He was forced to resign when it became known that he misled Vice President Mike Pence on conversations Flynn had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. U.S. intelligence sources said that Flynn talked with Kislyak about sanctions placed on Russia by former president Barack Obama in late December. Flynn also worked for “Russia Today,” a state-owned TV show. He was paid for a visit he made to Russia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Russia Today, and could be in trouble for that visit if it was not approved by the Defense Department and the State Department. Flynn was registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent prior to Election Day. He was registered for $530,000 worth of lobbying work that may have aided the Turkish government. The AP reported that the Trump transition team was told that Flynn likely needed to register as a foreign agent before taking top national security role.

Sergey Kislyak

Kislyak is the Russian ambassador to the United States. He spoke with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, in December about sanctions that had been brought against Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election that, eventually, led to Flynn's resignation. Kislyak also met with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (now attorney general) on at least two occasions. Sessions says he barely remembers what was said and that the meetings were brief. He did not disclose the meetings during his confirmation hearing in response to a question about what he would do if someone in Trump’s campaign had had contacts with Russian officials. Sessions recused himself from any potential investigation into Russian meddling with the election and ties with Trump’s campaign. CNN reports that Kislyak, in an October speech to the Detroit Economic Club, “denied meeting with Donald Trump or campaign officials during the course of 2016 presidential election, but acknowledged that he met with members of Congress and others who approached him at events.”

Carter Page 

Page was a foreign policy adviser to Trump in the early days of his campaign. Page is the head of an investment company known as Global Energy Capital. He was publicly accused by then-Senate Minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of being a link between Trump and the Russian government. Page has also been accused of being a go-between for the Trump campaign and high-level Russian officials. Page was in Moscow for three days in mid-July, and according to reporter Michael Isikoff, and intelligence sources claim he met with Igor Sechin, the head of the Russian state oil company. Sechin is said to have been working on a plan to have Western sanctions against the company lifted. Page has denied ;he met with any government officials while in Russia last July. He has criticized US sanctions on Russia as "sanctimonious expressions of moral superiority.”

Andrii V. Artemenko

Artemenko is a Ukrainian politician who opposes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and claims to have evidence of Poroshenko’s corruption. He has crafted a plan for peace in Ukraine with himself as president, and Politico has reported that Artemenko met with Trump attorney Michael Cohen and businessman Felix Sater, a business partner of Trump’s, to discuss that plan. 

Felix Sater

According to The New York Times, Sater, a real estate developer and adviser to the Trump Organization, met with Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko and Michael D. Cohen in New York in January to discuss sanctions against Russia. The story said that Sater was given the letter, which proposed the deal to lift sanctions by withdrawing Russian forces from eastern Ukraine, to Trump attorney Michael Cohen to be delivered to Michael Flynn, the then-national security adviser to the president.

Igor Sechin

Sechin is the head of Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft. According to reporting by Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff, a U.S. intelligence source said that Sechin was desperate to have Western sanctions against him and Rosneft lifted, so he arranged to meet with Carter Page, head of Global Energy Capital. Isikoff reported that Sechin offered Page the brokerage of a 19 percent stake in Rosneft in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia. Page has denied this report. 

Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump. He appeared with Trump at some campaign stops and was rumored to be under consideration for vice president. During 2016, Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, at least twice. Sessions said that the meetings were in line with his duties as a senator, and that nothing about Russia’s potential involvement with the 2016 presidential election was discussed. Sessions did not disclose those meetings during his confirmation hearings in response ;to an indirect question about Russia’s involvement in the election. Sessions recused himself from any potential investigation into Russian meddling with the election and ties with Trump’s campaign.

Roger Stone

Stone is a longtime friend of Trump’s and was an informal adviser to his campaign. According to several media reports, Stone is being investigated by the FBI about whether he had inappropriate contact with Russian officials. Stone told CBS News that he suspects he is being investigated, and said, “Sure, they’ll get my grocery lists, they may get the emails between my wife and I, but here’s what they won’t get -- any contact with the Russians.” Despite saying in a speech that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he claims did not know Wikileaks was going to publish emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. This week, The Smoking Gun reported that Stone was “in contact with the Russian hacking group that U.S. intelligence officials have accused of illegally breaching the Democratic National Committee’s computer system” and Podesta’s email account.

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Police: Man angry over chicken dinner puts wife’s hand in hot frying oil

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

Husband Arrested for Putting Wife’s Hand in Hot Fryer Oil, Police Said

An Oregon man is behind bars after sheriff’s deputies said he put his wife’s hand in hot frying oil.

Jeremiah Crothers is also accused of nearly suffocating his baby son, KATU reported.

Police said Crothers covered his 7-month-old son’s mouth and nose until the baby’s legs turned blue, Oregon Live reported.

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According to police, Crothers’ wife hit her husband in the head with a frying pan to get him to let go of their child, KATU reported.

Later, police said, Crothers complained that his wife didn’t season the chicken she was preparing for dinner and then grabbed her hand and put it in the oil she was using to fry the chicken, KATU reported.

When police arrived, they said Crothers was not there, but they saw what they said were burns on the victim and the baby had signs of strangulation and a bruise on his head, Oregon Live reported. Crothers was arrested the next day in St. Helens. Crothers has been charged with attempted murder, strangulation, assault, coercion and attempted assault.

A judge set bail at $217,750.

Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 7:17 PM

INDIO, CA - APRIL 28:  (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)
Frazer Harrison
INDIO, CA - APRIL 28: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)(Frazer Harrison)

Jim Rodford, bassist for popular rock band The Kinks from 1978 to 1996, has died at 76, according to the band.

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The Kinks, whose hits include “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Victoria” and “Waterloo Sunset,” made the announcement Saturday on its official social media accounts.

“It is with deep sadness that we have learned that Jim Rodford passed away – he toured and recorded with the Kinks for many years and will be greatly missed. He was much loved by all of us #JimRodford,” the band said on Twitter.

Founding member Dave Davies also expressed his sorrow over Rodford’s “sudden loss.”

“I’m devastated Jim’s sudden loss I’m too broken up to put words together it’s such a shock I always thought Jim would live forever in true rock and roll fashion – strange – great friend great musician great man – he was an integral part of the Kinks later years RIP,” he wrote on Twitter.

Although Rodford did not play for the band when they burst onto the scene in the ’60s, he was credited by Davies as being an integral part of “The Kinks” in their later years. Rodford would later return to the band The Zombies.

Three people hit by train since its debut last week

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/AP
A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

For the third time in the week since the Brightline train started its service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, a person has been hit by the passenger train, according to Fort Lauderdale police.

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Detective Tracy Figone, public information officer for the police department, said a pedestrian attempted to cross the train tracks at Northeast Third Avenue and North Flagler Drive when the gates were down. The person’s injuries are not life-threatening, according to Figone.

Four people have been hit and killed by Brightline trains since it started testing service. 

Friday night, a Brightline spokesperson reiterated the message from a press conference earlier that day: Safety.

“Today, we joined with partners in South Florida to stress our top priority - safety. Incidents like these can be avoided and train warnings need to be treated exactly like red lights, stop signs and crosswalks,” the spokesperson said.

On Friday, Brightline officials announced newly planned safety and public education initiatives in the wake of two fatal accidents in the last week.

On Wednesday, 51-year-old Jeffrey King was hit and killed by a northbound Brightline train when he pedaled his bicycle around the gates near the Florida East Coast Railway crossing about 4:30 p.m. on Ocean Avenue. Last Friday, 32-year-old Melissa Lavell was hit and killed near the intersection of Northeast Sixth Avenue in Boynton Beach. Witnesses told police she attempted to beat the train when the gates were down.

An 18-year-old who jumped in front of the train while it was making  a test run in July was ruled a suicide, officials said. The November death of a woman on the tracks was ruled an accident.

During the press conference, Brightline’s President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard said they plan to implement electronic signs as well as put employees at busy intersections as extra warnings of passing trains.

“We offer our deepest sympathy to those affected by the recent incidents,” Goddard said at a news conference to announce the new safety measures. “The fact that these incidents are completely avoidable is what makes them so tragic.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Scientists worry brain-wasting 'zombie deer' disease could spread to humans

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:09 PM

‘Zombie Deer’ Brain-Wasting Disease Has Scientists Worried it Could Spread to Humans

Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animals’ nervous systems.

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And scientists are concerned that the infection could make its way to humans. 

Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada, as well as in South Korea and Norway, NPR reported.

“CWD passes from animal to animal through prions, misfolded proteins that cause other proteins to misfold around them,” NPR reported. “Different prion diseases tend to only harm certain species, but can evolve to overcome those limitations.”

In some herds, as many as half of the animals carry prions.

But direct contact isn’t the only way prions are transmitted. According to The New York Times, sick animals and cadavers can spread prions through plants and soil, which could be coated with deformed proteins for years, perhaps even decades.
An animal infected with the disease can live two years before signs of symptoms -- such as a vacant stare, thick saliva, exposed ribs or drooping heads -- become visible.

There have been no reported human illnesses due to the disease, and scientists don’t have conclusive evidence that infected meat has ever harmed people, suggesting there is a “species barrier” between humans and deer.

Researchers led by Mark Zabel, associate director at Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center, found that macaque monkeys who ate infected deer contracted the disease, the first time the disease was shown to spread to a primate through meat.

"While most research shows there's a robust species barrier, this recent study showed that barrier might not be quite as robust as we once thought," Matt Dunfee, head of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliancein Fort Collins, Colorado, told NPR.

Zabel and his team also found that the prions involved in the “zombie disease,” which scientists have only known about for 50 years, are probably still evolving, “which leads us to believe it's only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans,” NPR reported.

A map where chronic wasting disease has been reported. (Photo: National Wildlife Health Center)

Mad cow disease, for example, is a prion disease that evolved from scrapie, a deadly disease that afflicts sheep. Once the prions were passed to cows, the cows developed a prion disease of their own (mad cow disease). And when humans ate the beef from those sick cows, they developed prions in their own brains. As of 2016, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 231 people had died from the condition.

Zabel believes the only way to get rid of CWD prions is to set controlled fires. But “there’s a lot that we still don’t know and don’t understand about the disease,” Zabel said in an interview with The New York Times.

According to Michael Miller, senior wildlife veterinarian for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer transmission more than tripled toward the end of 2017, and CWD continues to be prevalent in Colorado.

Public health officials in the area have been monitoring for CWD and human brain-wasting diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But over the past 21 years, rising rates of both diseases haven’t impacted human health.

Still, as a precaution, Dunfee told NPR, "if you are hunting in an area where CWD is found, have your animal tested. If it comes back positive, don't eat the meat."