August 2, 2014

If you happen to be near Hohenfelden, Germany today, you may wonder what's up with all those sheep.

Actually, if you're near Hohenfelden, Germany, you probably know that shepherds from across the country are competing in the regional Shepherds Championships. The annual competition requires the men to use two sheepdogs and a lot of moxie as they lead 300 of the animals. Judges pick a winner based on which herd is deemed to have the best formation.

Check out the fascinating photos, below. --Sarah Eberspacher

Shepherd Mario Scheffel leads a flock of sheep. | (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

A sheep peers out over its herd. | (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Scheffel's sheepdogs help move the flock. | (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

9:41 a.m. ET

The U.S. Air Force is poised to return nuclear-equipped B-52 bombers to ready-to-fly positions on runways at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, Defense One reports. The planes used to be a fixture on the runways during the Cold War, but have not been on 24-hour alert status since 1991. "The world is a dangerous place and we've got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein explained to Defense One. "It's no longer a bipolar world where it's just us and the Soviet Union. We've got other players out there who have nuclear capability."

While the order to prepare nuclear-armed planes on the Barksdale runways hasn't been given officially yet, Goldfein said preparations are being made in anticipation of it being issued:

Already, various improvements have been made to prepare Barksdale — home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service's nuclear forces — to return B-52s to an alert posture. Near the alert pads, an old concrete building — where B-52 crews during the Cold War would sleep, ready to run to their aircraft and take off at a moment's notice — is being renovated.

Inside, beds are being installed for more than 100 crew members, more than enough room for the crews that would man bombers positioned on the nine alert pads outside. There's a recreation room, with a pool table, TVs and a shuffleboard table. [Defense One]

"This is yet one more step in ensuring that we're prepared," said Goldfein. "I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we're prepared going forward." Read the full report at Defense One. Jeva Lange

9:27 a.m. ET

It's possible that when artist Carter Goodrich set out to design this week's cover of The New Yorker, he didn't mean to craft an image that would haunt your dreams. But alas, that's precisely what he did:

President Trump is a "dangerous clown," Goodrich told the magazine. "It's a national nightmare," he added. "He's already a cartoon villain, infantile and strange."

On the plus side, there are eight days till Halloween — plenty of time to get your "President Terrifying Forest Clown" costume in order. Kimberly Alters

9:02 a.m. ET

President Trump has slammed a whole host of news organizations as being "fake news," but his favorite target of all is CNN. On Monday, the network responded to Trump's allegations in no uncertain terms with a new ad:

"This is an apple," the ad explains, over a photo of the iconic red fruit. "Some people might try to tell you that it's a banana. They might scream 'banana, banana, banana' over and over again. They might put BANANA in all caps. You might even start to believe that this is a banana. But it's not." CNN has also switched its Twitter header to a photo of the apple with the caption "facts first."

"CNN has never been more relevant than we are now," CNN Worldwide's executive vice president and chief marketing officer Allison Gollust told Variety of the new campaign. "There's a conversation happening around journalism and media and the First Amendment. It's happening right now. We felt compelled to participate in that conversation with a brand campaign that reminds people who we are and what we do and why we do it."

Other organizations have also used ad campaigns to hit back at Trump. The New York Times, for example, ran ads with mottos including "the truth is alternative facts are lies." The Washington Post, another frequent target of Trump's, recently changed its slogan to "Democracy dies in darkness." Jeva Lange

8:19 a.m. ET

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, spoke to Good Morning America on Monday to confirm reports that President Trump "couldn't remember my husband's name" and made her "cry even worse" when he called to offer his condolences. La David Johnson, 25, was killed in Niger earlier this month under uncertain circumstances when ambushed by Islamic militants.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who is a close family friend of the Johnsons and was in the car with Myeshia when Trump called, recounted details of the conversation to the press last week. Wilson's account was heavily criticized by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. "In his own way, [Trump] tried to express that opinion, that [La David Johnson was] a brave man and a fallen hero," Kelly said.

Myeshia Johnson, though, said Monday that she was "very upset and hurt" when she got off the call with Trump. "What [Trump] said was, 'he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway.' It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn't remember my husband's name," Johnson told Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos. She added: "[Johnson] risked his life for our country; why can't you remember his name?"

Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange

Update 8:39 a.m. ET: President Trump tweeted in response to the interview: "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!"

7:57 a.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump on Sunday urged House Republicans to pass the Senate budget proposal and start working to pass tax reform, saying that haggling with the Senate would delay a much-needed legislative accomplishment and could hurt the GOP in next year's midterm elections. "We are on the verge of doing something very, very historic," Trump said, according to a person who was on the conference call. Another GOP aide told The Associated Press that Trump warned that failure to pass the bill would result in midterm Republican losses.

Trump's participation in the call to the House Republican Conference ramped up pressure on House Republicans to get behind the Senate's spending plan even though it adds $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade due to tax cuts. House Speaker Paul Ryan, also on the call, signaled his intention to pass the Senate budget bill this week in order to meet an end-of-the-year deadline for tax reform.

"I think we are going to get our taxes," Trump told Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo as part of an interview segment airing over Sunday and Monday. "Hopefully before the end of the year, but maybe much sooner than that. There's great spirit for it. People want to see it." Jeva Lange

7:31 a.m. ET

Dozens of Democratic House candidates are out-raising their Republican opponents, looking a surprising amount like the GOP did eight years ago before capturing the House in the 2010 sweep, Politico reports. "The Democrats in 2017 are starting to very much resemble the Republicans in 2009," said former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel. "People are talking about a wave developing, but in order to even begin to think about a wave, you have to be in a position to take advantage in [case of] a wave. And Democrats are clearly in that position."

Even as the Democratic National Committee is struggling to compete nationally with the Republican National Committee — "on-the-ground operatives worry they won't have the resources to build the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in next year's midterms and in the run-up to 2020," Politico wrote Sunday — local House candidates are putting intense pressure on their opponents more than a year ahead of the election. "At least 162 Democratic candidates in 82 GOP-held districts have raised over $100,000 so far this year," Politico found, adding that that's "about four times as many candidates as House Democrats had at this point before the 2016 or 2014 elections," and twice as many as Republicans had before the 2010 wave.

Additionally, Democrats have out-raised nearly three-dozen different Republican incumbents around the country. "That's something that should get every Republican's attention in Washington," said GOP strategist Jason Roe. "These first-timers are printing money."

In fact, it has: "The fact that the environment is so intense so early is ultimately a good thing, as it makes sure more members will be prepared," observed Republican operative Mike DuHaime. "They can see it coming." Read the full analysis at Politico. Jeva Lange

7:17 a.m. ET
Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

The Central Intelligence Agency's paramilitary branch is stepping up its covert attacks in Afghanistan, deploying small groups of officers and contractors to hunt and kill Taliban militants alongside Afghan commandos, two senior American officials tell The New York Times. The CIA had been focusing its Afghanistan efforts on battling al Qaeda and aiding the Afghan intelligence service, but President Trump and his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, appear to want the agency to play a more aggressive role in the world.

The CIA, with only hundreds of paramilitary officers spread around the world, "has traditionally been resistant to an open-ended campaign against the Taliban, the primary militant group in Afghanistan, believing it was a waste of the agency's time and money and would put officers at greater risk," The New York Times reports. "Former agency officials assert that the military, with its vast resources and manpower, is better suited to conducting large-scale counterinsurgencies." The apparent end goal of killing lower-level Taliban militants is convincing the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. You can read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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