Donald Trump's presidency lurches from one crisis to another

US correspondent Rebecca Wright with the latest from another damaging day for Trump. Source: 1 NEWS



Mormon church breaks ties with Boy Scouts over decision to allow gay members

The Mormon church's new youth program, which will roll out in 2020 when it cuts all ties with Boy Scouts of America, will still include outdoor and adventure activities even as the initiative becomes more gospel-focused, the faith confirmed Friday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided a few more details about the initiative in a news release that said a full and detailed description will come later because different aspects of the program are still being tested.

The Utah-based faith announced in May it was leaving the Boy Scouts of America at the end of next year in a move that ends a nearly century-old relationship between two organisations that were originally brought together by shared values but diverged in recent years.

Amid declining membership, Boy Scouts of America recently opened its arms to openly gay youth members and adult volunteers as well as girls and transgender boys. The Mormon faith, which has long been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, has clung to its opposition of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

The church has also seen significant expansion in countries outside the U.S. where Boy Scouts wasn't offered and said it wanted to create its own uniform youth program it could use around the world and tailor specifically to its gospel. More than half of the church's 16 million members live outside the U.S. and Canada.

The news release reiterates that the faith's program will be similar to Scouting with an emphasis on outdoors, service work and character building. It won't have a ranking system like the one culminating in an Eagle Scout recognition that many generations of Mormons strived to achieve as a life milestone. It will be for boys and girls.

"Camps and other outdoor activities have always been and will continue to be a prominent part of gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ," the release said. "Leaders, youth, and parents will be empowered to identify and provide outdoor activities that invite spiritual experiences and meet the unique needs of their children, young women, and young men."

For now, the faith is referring to the program as its new "children and youth development initiative."

The May announcement that it was unhitching from Boy Scouts didn't come as a major surprise. The faith removed 185,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 last year, signalling that an end to the long-time alliance was near. The remaining 425,000 boys will end Scouts at the end of 2019.


Boy scouts

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Watch: Hundreds of metres of Greek coastline blanketed by spider webs

 It's not quite the World Wide Web - but the spiders of Aitoliko in Greece have made a good start.

Spurred into overdrive by an explosion in the populations of insects they eat, thousands of little spiders in the western Greek town have shrouded coastal trees, bushes and low vegetation in thick webs.

The sticky white lines extend for a few hundred meters along the shoreline of Aitoliko, built on an artificial island in a salt lagoon near Missolonghi, 250 kilometres west of Athens.

Experts told local media that the numbers of lake flies, a non-biting midge, have rocketed amid humid late summer conditions. Spiders, which fancy the flies, reproduced fast to take full advantage of the feast.

Residents say the extensive spider webs have another benefit: keeping down mosquitoes.


A recent increase in the mosquito population has resulted in perfect conditions for spiders to thrive and multiply. Source: Associated Press

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White high school student accused of putting noose around a black student's neck in Louisiana

A white high-school student has been accused of putting a noose around a black student's neck in northeast Louisiana.

A teacher at West Ouachita High School saw the incident and immediately took the white student to administrators at the school in West Monroe, Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Don Coker said.

Coker said the student was disciplined, but student privacy laws forbid him to release details.

Deputy Glenn Springfield, a spokesman for the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office, said a juvenile student at the school was arrested on a hate crime battery charge. Springfield said he could not give or confirm other details because both students are juveniles and the case is now with the district attorney's office.

"We don't tolerate any of this. We will never tolerate any of this," Coker said. He added, "This was during Homecoming Week. I don't know if he was trying to make a practical joke or it was truly a hate crime. I know it was handled extremely quickly and very well by our school."

District Attorney Robert S Tew was out of his office Friday and unavailable for comment.

Entrance to office building or school campus.  Front, glass doors are open.  Welcome!
Source: istock.com


Deputy Attorney General denies proposing to tape Trump as part of effort to remove the president

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denied a New York Times report Friday that he floated the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump as unfit for office and suggested secretly recording the president to expose the chaos in the administration.

The Times cited several people, who were not named, who described the episodes that came in the spring of 2017 after FBI Director James Comey was fired. The newspaper's sources also included people who were briefed on memos written by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Rosenstein is a frequent target of Trump's attacks and the story could add to the uncertainty about his future at the Justice Department, despite his denial.

"The New York Times's story is inaccurate and factually incorrect," Rosenstein said in a statement. "I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."

A person who was in the room when the comment was made, and provided a statement through the Justice Department, said Rosenstein's comment was "sarcastic" and that he "never discussed any intention of recording a conversation with the president."

The newspaper reported that Rosenstein, frustrated with the hiring process for a new FBI director, offered to wear a "wire" and secretly record the president when he visited the White House. He also suggested that McCabe and other officials who were interviewing to become the next FBI director could also perhaps record Trump, the newspaper reported.

McCabe's lawyer, Michael Bromwich, said in a statement that his client had drafted memos to "memorialise significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions."

McCabe's memos, which were later turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller's office, had remained at the FBI until McCabe was ousted in January and McCabe doesn't know how any reporters could've obtained those memos, Bromwich said.

Rosenstein has been a target of Trump's ire since appointing Robert Mueller as a Justice Department special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

He chose Mueller for the job one week after he laid the groundwork for the firing of  Comey by writing a memo that criticised Comey's handling of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. The White House initially held up that memo as justification for Comey's firing, though Trump himself has said he was thinking about "this Russia thing" when he made the move.

As deputy attorney general, Rosenstein oversees Mueller's work and has made two public announcements of indictments brought by the special counsel - one against Russians accused of hacking into Democratic email accounts, the other against Russians accused of running a social media troll farm to sway public opinion.

On Friday, Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted the Times' story and said: "Shocked!!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realdonaldtrump." 

Barack Obama calling the current president "the symptom, not the cause" of division and polarization in the US during a speech.