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Why is Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 9:17 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 1:17 PM

WATCH: Trump Recognizing Jerusalem as Capital of Israel

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move the U.S. embassy to that city in the near future.

Trump’s decision is likely to incite unrest in the region where for more than 70 years most countries have stayed out of the dispute over who owns one of the most significant religious areas in the world.

Why are some saying the move will cause chaos in the region? Here’s a look at what the decision could mean.

What happened Wednesday?

The president declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announced plans to move the US embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The move will not take place immediately.

In addition, Trump reasserted his commitment to supporting a two-state solution if Israel and Palestine can come to that agreement. 

Why is that causing so much commotion?

Jerusalem is the center of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Israel has called Jerusalem its undivided capital, while Palestine claims the eastern half of the city as its capital.

In 1947, the United Nations worked to create a homeland for Jews in the Middle East with the idea that Jerusalem would be a separate “international city.” However, the war to establish an Israeli state led to the city being divided.

In 1949, the “Green Line” (a border created through negotiations at the end of the war) was established, giving Israel the western half of Jerusalem and Jordan the eastern half.

That arrangement lasted for nearly 20 years until the Six-Day War in 1967 at which time Israel occupied East Jerusalem and has kept it since then. 

In 1980, Israel passed a law stating Jerusalem was the united capital of Israel.

While Israel claims Jerusalem, the rest of the world has refrained from assigning capital status to either side until and unless Israel and Palestine can come to an agreement on who owns what. Resolving that issue is perhaps the most difficult part of finding a peaceful end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The United States keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv, like most other countries. Also, like other countries, the U.S. has a consulate in Jerusalem.

If the United States declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel, it will be the first country to officially do so since the country’s inception in 1948. Compounding the issue is that Jerusalem is home to key sacred sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Why hasn’t the embassy moved before?

The United States has not moved the embassy to Jerusalem because for 70 years countries around the world have stayed out of the conflict over who owns the city.

In 1989, however, the U.S. began leasing a plot of land in Jerusalem that was to be the spot where a new embassy was to be built. The 99-year lease costs the United States $1 a year. The land remains undeveloped. There is a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.

In 1995, Congress passed a law that required the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, saying if Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, then the U.S. should respect that.

Since that law passed, every U.S. president, citing security concerns, has declined to move the embassy and has signed a presidential waiver to keep it in Tel Aviv.

Who would be in favor of the move?

Israel would welcome a declaration from the United States saying Jerusalem belongs to Israel. 

Who would be against it?

Palestine would have the most to lose if Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In May 2017, the Palestinian group Hamas proposed the formation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. 

The announcement would anger the rest of the Arab world as well. Saudi Arabia has called the idea a “flagrant provocation to Muslims.” 

A senior Palestinian official said Wednesday that the decision means “the peace process is finished” because Washington “has already pre-empted the outcome,” The Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, US personnel and their families were ordered to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank. Palestinian factions have called for a “day of rage” over the announcement.

What is the reaction from the rest of the world?

Here is the reaction from some world leaders to Trump’s expected announcement. (From the Associated Press)

  • Speaking to reporters in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the “the situation is not easy.” He said Putin discussed the issue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Tuesday and expressed his concern about “a possible deterioration.” Peskov said, however, that the Kremlin would refrain from commenting a decision that has not been announced yet.
  • British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is calling on the U.S. administration to present a Mideast peace plan because the decision clearly “makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned Trump’s imminent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The state TV’s website quotes Khamenei as saying that “when they (U.S.) claim that they want to declare Jerusalem as the capital of occupied Palestine, it shows their inability. ”
  • China has expressed concerns over “possible aggravation of regional tensions” in response to the expected U.S. announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Geng Shuang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday the China would monitor developments on the issue.
  • Syria’s Foreign Ministry says Trump’s expected announcement to recognize of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “dangerous step” that will fuel global conflict. The ministry in Damascus issued a statement on Wednesday calling Trump’s imminent move the “culmination of the crime of the seizing of Palestine and the displacement of the Palestinian people.”
  • Two leading Lebanese newspapers have issued front page rebukes to Trump over his expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The An-Nahar compares the U.S. president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a hundred years ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour Declaration. The paper’s Wednesday headline reads: “Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel.”
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the “whole world is against” Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and eventually move the U.S. Embassy there. He says that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake.”
  • Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, writing as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Al-Quds Committee, also expressed his “deep personal concern” and “the great concern felt by Arab and Muslim states and peoples” over the moves in a letter to Trump Tuesday. “The current step is likely to negatively impact the prospects of a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the letter said.
  • Pope Francis is calling for the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail to avoid further conflict. “I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.”
Sources: The Associated Press; The BBC; Reuters; history.com

Woman accused of killing father, encasing body in concrete for weeks

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 5:20 PM

Dayna Jennings, left, is accused of killing her 69-year-old father, William Mussack, encasing his body in concrete and stashing it in the crawl space of his Federal Heights, Colorado, home. Mussack's remains were discovered Jan. 10, 2018, about five weeks after he was last seen or heard from.
Adams County Jail/Federal Heights Police Department
Dayna Jennings, left, is accused of killing her 69-year-old father, William Mussack, encasing his body in concrete and stashing it in the crawl space of his Federal Heights, Colorado, home. Mussack's remains were discovered Jan. 10, 2018, about five weeks after he was last seen or heard from.(Adams County Jail/Federal Heights Police Department)

In William Mussack’s final text conversation with his son on Dec. 7, the Colorado man relayed a chilling fear: he believed his daughter may have poisoned his food. 

“William described the feeling of being drugged and falling asleep in a recliner chair for 15 hours,” an arrest affidavit obtained by KDVR in Denver read. “He recalled taking a bite from a hamburger, and the hamburger was still on the end table with one bite taken out of it when he awoke.”

Mussack, 69, told his son, Brian Mussack, that his daughter, Dayna Michele Jennings, gave him the hamburger. The day after that discussion, William Mussack vanished. 

Five weeks later, Mussack’s body was found encased in concrete in the crawl space of his Federal Heights home. Jennings, 44, is charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference and is being held without bond in the Adams County Jail.

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The investigation into Mussack’s disappearance began on Dec. 28, when his brother, Robert Mussack, called the Federal Heights Police Department to request that officers do a welfare check on his brother, whom he had not heard from in several weeks, the affidavit read. It ended in investigators’ grisly discovery on Jan. 10.

Jennings, who was being questioned at the Police Department while a search warrant was executed at her father’s house, admitted to detectives that she poured concrete in the crawl space of the home. Her admissions and cooperation would soon end, however. 

“When Dayna was confronted with the information that investigators on scene were breaking up the concrete in the crawl space, she stated that she wished to speak with a lawyer,” the affidavit read. “At this time, the interview was ended.”

Robert Mussack and other family members and friends told detectives that it was not like William Mussack to go days or weeks without speaking to his loved ones. The last time any of them heard from him was Dec. 8, the day after he told his son about the suspicious hamburger. 

When an officer went to Mussack’s home to check on him on Dec. 28, Jennings told them her father no longer lived there and that she, too, had not seen him in several weeks.

Nothing at the home seemed amiss, so the officer left.

The following day, an officer once again went to the home after speaking to both Robert and Brian Mussack. Brian Mussack told investigators that, prior to that final Dec. 7 text conversation, he ordinarily heard from his father daily.

The concerned son told police officers he believed his sister knew where their father was, but was not telling anyone, according to the affidavit. Family members and William Mussack’s girlfriend all told investigators that the lack of communication was out of character for him, and that he always kept his cellphone with him.

Jennings claimed her father had forgotten his cellphone at the house before leaving on a mountain trip with his girlfriend. The girlfriend told police officers, however, that she last heard from Mussack on Dec. 8, when he agreed to go to a Christmas party with her the following day. 

Despite telling her to RSVP for him, he failed to show up at the party and she was never able to reach him again, the court document read. 

When the officer went inside Mussack’s house on the second visit, on Dec. 29, he noticed a bad smell he described as the smell of “sewage and something rotting,” the affidavit said. When Jennings allowed him to look around, the officer noticed that Mussack’s bed, located in the basement, was covered in women’s clothing and looked as though it hadn’t been used in weeks.

The officer paid a third visit to the home on Dec. 30, at which time Jennings refused to allow him inside. 

Family members received text messages from Mussack’s phone after police began searching for him, but investigators trying to locate the phone through the missing man’s cell service said the phone “pinged” from the area of his home -- even after his daughter claimed he’d stopped by, picked up the phone and some money and left again. 

Brian Mussack also told police officers that his sister sent him text messages claiming that that their father had been abusive toward her and that he couldn’t afford to make his house payment. Family and friends said Mussack was a mild-mannered man who was very frugal and had plenty of money set aside for his retirement.

Despite Jennings’ claims that her father no longer lived there, the house remained in William Mussack’s name, the affidavit said. Three vehicles registered to Mussack were in the driveway.

When a concerned friend texted Jennings on Jan. 5 asking about her father, Jennings responded that her father was in Arizona, “enjoying the sun,” the document said. Mussack’s family said he did not know anyone in Arizona. 

Further investigation showed that someone had been using Mussack’s bank account after he disappeared. Several items were purchased for Jennings from Amazon and a $500 check written to her was cashed on Dec. 29. 

A Wells Fargo branch manager told police that the signature on the check did not match Mussack’s signature, which the bank had on file. 

Jennings’ first husband, Joel Jennings, told police that his ex-wife “adored” her father, but that he believed she might have killed Mussack because it was not like his former father-in-law to disappear and not contact his family, the affidavit read. He described Dayna Jennings as “impulsive and irrational at times” and said her relationships with family members and friends were “intense and unstable.”

Joel Jennings also said that, during a visit to the house on Dec. 31, he saw flooring and carpet that his ex-wife had apparently pulled up and disposed of. Investigators learned that she ordered multiple dumpsters that were delivered to the home and parked out front for several days in December.  

Jennings told investigators that his ex-wife’s massage business, her sole source of income, folded in November. On her business website, The Good Massage, Dayna Jennings wrote on Dec. 1 that she was taking personal leave for a few months “to tend to family and personal needs.”

Joel Jennings told detectives that Dayna Jennings’ second husband, Chris Newton, also moved out of the Mussack home, where they were living together, in November.  Newton reportedly remarried Dec. 9, the day after Mussack was last heard from, the affidavit said

Driver backs up Cadillac Escalade into Florida lake

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:22 AM

Cadillac Escalade Gets Backed Up Into Florida Lake By Driver

A driver sank a Cadillac Escalade Tuesday while backing up his boat into Lake Weir, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

The man, whose identity wasn't released, was reversing his SUV on a boat ramp at the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area when he was unable to put the vehicle back in park, deputies said.

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The vehicle followed the boat into the lake, well past a pair of signs that bear an arrow and the words "caution end of ramp."

The driver escaped the vehicle and was uninjured.

Divers with the Sheriff's Office helped a tow truck driver retrieve the SUV from the water.

Click here for boating safety tips from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Doctor arrested for showing up for surgery inebriated, police say

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:49 PM

Kentucky Surgeon Arrested For Arriving To Work Drunk

A plastic surgeon showed up for surgery Monday while intoxicated and was arrested, according to police. 

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Dr. Theodore Gerstle was confronted by the chief medical officer at Baptist Health Lexington and then left the hospital on foot, according to WKYT

Police were then called and took Gerstle into custody. Gerstle was charged with public intoxication.

“Patient safety is always our number one concern,” Ruth Ann Childers, hopsital spokeswoman, told WKYT. “This will be thoroughly investigated.”

Betsy DeVos: Common Core is dead at U.S. Department of Education

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 1:00 PM

What You Need To Know About Betsy DeVos

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech today in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.”

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She announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency.

DeVos also decried the federal government’s initiatives to improve education. “We saw two presidents from different political parties and philosophies take two different approaches. Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too many of America’s students are still unprepared,” she said.

And she touched on a favorite topic, school choice.

“Choice in education is not when a student picks a different classroom in this building or that building, uses this voucher or that tax-credit scholarship. Choice in education is bigger than that. Those are just mechanisms,” she said. “It’s about freedom to learn. Freedom to learn differently. Freedom to explore. Freedom to fail, to learn from falling and to get back up and try again. It’s freedom to find the best way to learn and grow… to find the exciting and engaging combination that unlocks individual potential.”