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September 29, 2012

A suburban New York man spent $50,000 building an elite Little League team after another team dropped his son. Robert Sanfilippo recruited stars to play with his son on the "Long Island Vengeance," whose helmets were embossed with a skull-and-crossbones. "It was all about revenge," a rival coach said. Sanfilippo was recently charged with sending threatening messages to a coach whose son struck out Sanfilippo's son. The Week Staff

11:10 a.m. ET

The infrastructure devastation and civilian casualties caused by the U.S.-led coalition siege to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria, is comparable to the World War II carpet bombing of Dresden, Germany, the Russian defense ministry charged in a statement Monday.

"Raqqa has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the earth by Anglo-American bombardments," said Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, alleging that coalition humanitarian aid projects in the aftermath of the fight are motivated at least in part by an effort to conceal the extent of the damage. Moscow's embassy to the United Kingdom tweeted a photo comparison:

An estimated 25,000 people were killed in the Dresden bombardment; the number of coalition-caused deaths in Raqqa is as yet unknown, but estimates are usually in the hundreds rather than thousands.

Russia is not the first to draw attention to the high civilian casualty rate of the anti-ISIS campaign. In June, United Nations war crimes investigators reported that increased coalition airstrikes produced "staggering loss of civilian life" and led to "160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced." U.N. investigators have also accused Russia of committing war crimes in Syria by performing airstrikes that violate international law. Bonnie Kristian

10:44 a.m. ET
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Nine months into his administration, President Trump's tweets have fallen into a familiar topical groove: Trump's suffering at the hands of the media, his suffering at the hands of Democrats, his suffering at the hands of Republicans, his suffering at the hands of the basic constitutional structure of governance of the United States — you get it. But one topic on which Trump's feed has been comparatively silent of late is Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, including whether Mueller should be fired.

Per a Monday report from Politico, that's because White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who joined Trump's team over the summer, has convinced the president of the serious legal risks of public comment while the probe is underway.

"It's one thing to have an adviser to tell you, 'Boy, if you say this it's not good politics, it's not good for us,'" said Solomon Wisenberg, who worked on Kenneth Starr's investigation of former President Bill Clinton. "It's another thing to have your white-collar lawyer say, 'This is extremely harmful to you legally to say this.'"

Cobb himself told Politico that he could not "take credit for the change in the president's tone on Russia," praising Chief of Staff John Kelly and Trump himself for helping to effect the difference. Still, Cobb said, Trump's new tact on this issue has fostered a "good relationship in terms of trust" between Mueller and the White House. Bonnie Kristian

10:34 a.m. ET

On Monday, NBC's Megyn Kelly responded to claims by former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that in his 20 years at the network, nobody ever complained about his behavior as being inappropriate. "O'Reilly's suggestion that nobody ever complained about his behavior is false," Kelly said on Megyn Kelly Today. "I know because I complained."

The New York Times reported this weekend that Fox News renewed O'Reilly's contract after agreeing to a $32 million sexual harassment settlement with a longtime analyst. O'Reilly was ultimately ousted from Fox News in April over mounting allegations. Kelly, who accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of harassment, worked at the network until switching to NBC in January.

On her show Monday, Kelly quoted O'Reilly, who in 2016 claimed he was not "interested" in sexual harassment because it made his company look bad. "Perhaps he didn't realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up on the grounds that it would disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decades-long Ailes mess to begin with," Kelly said, reading from a never-before-publicized email she sent to Fox News' presidents in November 2016.

With a deep breath, Kelly concluded: "This is not unique to Fox News. Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored, or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear." Watch below. Jeva Lange

10:19 a.m. ET
ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has revealed a secret letter her office received from North Korea asking for help to divert the Trump administration from nuclear war. The letter is believed to be one of several covert communications Pyongyang has sent to multiple Western governments, an unprecedented move by the isolated regime.

"If Trump thinks that he would bring the DPRK, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat, it will be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance," the document warns. "The DPRK has emerged a fully-fledged nuclear power which has a strong nuclear arsenal and various kinds of nuclear delivery means made by dint of self-reliance and self-development. The real foe of nuclear force is a nuclear war itself."

Thus, the letter continues, North Korea's foreign ministry has taken "this opportunity to express belief that the parliaments of different countries loving independence, peace, and justice will fully discharge their due mission and duty in realizing the desire of mankind for international justice and peace with sharp vigilance against the heinous and reckless moves of the Trump administration trying to drive the world into a horrible nuclear disaster."

Bishop said she views the communication as a sign that a firm stance toward Pyongyang is working, while Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismissed it as "ranting and complaining about Donald Trump." The Independent has inquired whether the United Kingdom received a similar letter. Bonnie Kristian

9:41 a.m. ET
South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images

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

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