Investigator On Russia-Trump Ties Called Trump ‘Idiot’ Before His Election

A senior FBI agent removed from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation this year referred to Donald Trump before his election as an “idiot,” according to e-mails turned over to Congress and seen by U.S. media.
Peter Strzok, a senior counterintelligence investigator who was dismissed from the Russia investigation this summer, referred to Trump as an “idiot” in response to an e-mail from another FBI agent, Lisa Page, in August, 2015.
“I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car,” Page wrote, referring to the liberal Democratic senator who ran against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out,” Strzok replied.
In a March 2016 message, Page, who later was also detailed to the Russia investigation, said: “God trump is a loathsome human….omg he’s an idiot.

Democrat Jones Wins Alabama Senate Election

Democrat Doug Jones has won the special election to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat representing the southern state of Alabama.
After a contentious campaign, voters backed Jones over Republican Roy Moore.
The result means that in January when Jones is sworn in, the Republican majority in the Senate will shrink to 51-49 and make it tougher for President Donald Trump to enact his agenda.
Senate terms last six years, but Jones will be filling out the final three years of a term begun by Jeff Sessions before he resigned in order to become attorney general under Trump.
Jones is the first Democrat from Alabama to win a Senate seat since 1992.
Moore had the backing of Trump, but faced opposition from other Republican leaders. He has been accused of sexual misconduct in the 1970s when his female accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Moore has consistently denied the allegations calling them “disgusting.


US Mass Shootings Aren’t More Frequent — But They Are Deadlier

It can sometimes seem as though mass shootings are occurring more frequently. Researchers who have been studying such crimes for decades say they aren’t, but they have been getting deadlier.
In the five years since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, the nation has seen a number of massacres topping the death toll from Newtown and previous mass shootings, many of them involving rifles similar to the one used in Sandy Hook.
But Americans wanting to know why deadlier mass shootings are happening will get few answers. Is it is the wide availability of firearms? Is it the much-maligned “assault weapon” with its military style? Is it a failing mental health system?
“We’re kind of grabbing at straws at this point in terms of trying to understand why the severity of these incidents has increased,” said Grant Duwe, a criminologist who has been studying mass killings since the 1990s.


U.S. Officials Skeptical Of Putin’s Announced Troop Withdrawal From Syria

U.S. officials are voicing skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, in particular saying that his declaration of victory against the Islamic State extremist group seems premature.
Putin ordered the troop pullback during a surprise visit to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria on December 11, declaring that Russian and Syrian forces had “crushed the most combat-capable international terrorist group.”
U.S. officials on December 12 challenged that assertion.
“We think the Russian declarations of ISIS’ defeat are premature,” a White House National Security Council spokeswoman said.
“We have repeatedly seen in recent history that a premature declaration of victory was followed by a failure to consolidate military gains, stabilize the situation, and create the conditions that prevent terrorists from reemerging.”
The U.S.

Waddling into History: Huge Ancient Penguin Inhabited New Zealand

Scientists have unearthed in New Zealand fossil bones of what might be the heavyweight champion of the penguin world, a bird nearly 6 feet tall (1.77 meters) that thrived 55 to 60 million years ago, relatively soon after the demise of the dinosaurs.
Researchers said on Tuesday the ancient penguin, called Kumimanu biceae, weighed nearly 225 pounds (101 kg), and was much bigger than the largest of these flightless seabirds alive today, the emperor penguin, which grows to about 4-1/4 feet (1.2 meters) and about 90 pounds (40 kg).
The only ancient penguin yet discovered that might have been larger than Kumimanu is known only from a leg bone, said ornithologist Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt.
“Gigantism in penguins evolved more than once,” Mayr said.
Kumimanu, named after a creature from Maori folklore and the Maori word for bird, is the second-oldest known penguin.

Extremist Groups Eye Yemen Conflict With Renewed Opportunities

As the killing of the deposed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh broadens the political fracturing in Yemen and the humanitarian crisis worsens, experts warn the war-torn country could soon become a hotbed for jihadists affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State terrorist groups.
The unrest in Yemen has been ongoing since 2015 between the supporters of the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels. With a Saudi-led Arab coalition backing President Hadi, and Iran supporting the Houthi rebels, the brutal conflict has stood at a stalemate, leaving thousands killed and injured, and leading to a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations has called the world’s worst.
As of March, an estimated 17 million Yemenis, which comprise about 60 percent of the population, are estimated to suffer from food insecurity. Another 7 million are suffering from severe food insecurity, according to data from the World Bank.

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