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August 11, 2016

In May, when Donald Trump was facing scrutiny over promised donations to veterans groups, Sean Hannity's website posted a heartwarming story of how Trump went out of his way to help veterans back in 1991. The article is based on the memories of a Marine reservist, Cpl. Ryan Stickney, who said that Trump sent his own private jet to ferry Stickney and 200 other stranded Marines back home, adding: "I have not seen a Clinton or Sanders plane, or anything else for that matter, sent to support the troops." "The Trump campaign has confirmed to Hannity.com that Mr. Trump did indeed send his plane to make two trips from North Carolina to Miami, Florida, to transport over 200 Gulf War Marines back home," the article says.

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler looked into the story at the request of a reader, and on Thursday he rendered his verdict: "Sean Hannity needs to correct this article, if not pull it down. The Trump campaign earns Four Pinocchios for confirming a story that is easily debunked." The airplane, captured on photo by Cpl. Stickney, was not Trump's private jet but clearly part of the Trump Shuttle fleet, under contract with the Defense Department to transport troops in 1991. Furthermore, Trump had lost control of the airline in 1991 for failing to make loan payments, and the Trump Shuttle aircraft were flying for the Pentagon because, Kessler said, Trump "made a bad deal," agreeing to buy too many planes for his airline.

You can read more about Trump's disastrous foray into the airline industry — a business he knew nothing about — from The Daily Beast's Barbara Peterson, but it's more fun to watch this amazing video of Trump launching the Trump Shuttle in 1989, to champagne and a classy string quartet. "Truthfully it was great for the Trump ego," a young Trump says about owning an airline, when asked by PIX11's Barry Cunningham. On board the inaugural Trump Shuttle from New York to Washington, Cunningham asked Trump if the flight was symbolically indicative of a jump into politics. "No, it's not at all," Trump says. "I think that hopefully somebody is going to be able to take advantage of Japan instead of always being taken advantage of. I just enjoy what I'm doing."

If Trump had jumped into the 1992 race for president, and defeated incumbent President George H.W. Bush — or replaced third-party fellow billionaire Ross Perot — he would have run against Bill Clinton. Instead, in 1992, Trump was unloading Trump Shuttle at a steep loss. Peter Weber

2:04 a.m.

After 11 weeks of protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday said the government wants to hold "open and direct" conversations with demonstrators.

"Work will start immediately to build a platform of dialogue," she said. "We hope this dialogue can be built upon a basis of mutual understanding and respect to find a way out for Hong Kong." Lam also said political leaders will start investigating complaints against police, one of the demands made by protesters. "I sincerely hope this is the start of society returning to calm and turning away from violence," she said.

The protests started with the introduction of a bill that would let people arrested in Hong Kong be extradited to China. The measure has been shelved for now, but protesters want the bill to be totally withdrawn. The demonstrators have shut down Hong Kong's airport and clogged the streets near the financial district. On Sunday, a peaceful rally drew approximately 1.7 million protesters, and it was a very different scene from the earlier protests, when riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas; this time, there was a light police presence. Catherine Garcia

1:41 a.m.

President Trump's next round of tariffs on Chinese imports will raise the average trade war cost for U.S. households to $1,000 per year, from $600, because the new duties will largely hit finished consumer goods, JP Morgan Chase researchers said Monday. The tariffs would largely negate any extra money consumers got from Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut, and unlike with tax-subsidized farmers, "there is no simple way to compensate consumer," Dubravko Lakos-Bujas, JP Morgan's head of U.S. equity strategy, wrote to investors.

Consumer spending is the brightest spot in the U.S. economy right now, and facing slowdowns in manufacturing and business spending, and other warnings signs of a possible recession, the White House is now exploring a payroll tax cut to encourage Americans to keep their wallets open, The Washington Post and The New York Times report, citing several people familiar with the discussions. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow is also reportedly advocating a capital gains tax cut, which would mostly benefit wealthy investors but, unlike the payroll cut, wouldn't require approval by Congress.

Payroll tax cuts, typically popular among Democrats because they benefit middle class workers, either drain money from Social Security and Medicare accounts or add to the ballooning deficit, already up 27 percent from last year. The White House said Monday that "cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time," despite Monday's White House discussions and an internal white paper exploring the idea.

Publicly, Trump administration officials have been dismissing the idea of a recession, but "Trump has sent mixed messages," the Post notes. He tweeted that the economy is "very strong," then specifically urged the Federal Reserve to cut already-low interest rates by 100 basis points and pump more money into the economy through "quantitative easing." Cutting benchmark interest rates to 1.25 percent would give the Fed "little additional wiggle room to maneuver if a full-fledged recession began," the Post reports, and quantitative easing is "an extreme step that central bankers take when they are trying to urgently address a slumping economy." Peter Weber

1:21 a.m.

It was a study in contrasts: On one side, the well-maintained Alexandria National Cemetery, on the other, the overgrown and rundown Douglass Memorial Cemetery.

Three years ago, Griffin Burchard, now 16, was in Alexandria, Virginia, on a Boy Scout service trip. He was helping to remove dead wreaths at the national cemetery, but couldn't stop looking at the Douglass Memorial Cemetery, a historic black cemetery named in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Burchard saw leaves everywhere, he told The Washington Post, limbs falling off of trees, and damage caused by flooding, and wanted to do something about it.

This year for his Eagle Scout project, Burchard spearheaded a major renovation of the cemetery, assisted by other Boy and Girl Scouts. He first received a permit from the city to start the cleanup, and then conducted research on the cemetery, learning that at least 1,900 people were buried there between 1890 and 1975. Burchard earned $200 through recycling, and used that money to pay for a new sign, featuring a Douglass quote: "Without a struggle, there can be no progress."

Last Thursday, during a brief ceremony at the cemetery, Burchard said Douglass was a "great example of a citizen who impacted his community," adding that the project "made me want to be a great citizen." As there is no church or nonprofit taking care of the land, Burchard also hopes someone in the area will express interest in becoming the cemetery's regular caretaker. Catherine Garcia

12:22 a.m.

Kimberly Williams saved Dan Magennis' life, from nearly 900 miles away.

Last Tuesday, Magennis called Comcast with a question about his cable. The Walker, Michigan, resident was home alone, and had the phone on speaker. Suddenly, he was unable to answer the representative's questions, and couldn't move his right leg. Magennis said he realized he was having a stroke, but couldn't communicate that to the representative, Williams.

Williams was in her office in Jackson, Mississippi, but told M Live she had "confidence in my heart, I knew something was wrong with him." Williams moved fast, and started searching online for police departments near Magennis' house. She finally reached the Walker Fire Department, and five minutes later, paramedics arrived at Magennis' house and rushed him to the hospital.

Doctors quickly determined Magennis had a blood clot on the left side of his brain, and he was in surgery within an hour. Timing is critical with stroke victims, and Williams' fast thinking helped save Magennis' life. He left the hospital two days after surgery, and said he is so grateful for Williams. "It was absolutely unexpected," he said. "But I'm still here today. It's incredible." Catherine Garcia

August 19, 2019

Greenland is still not for sale, and this is not a parody account.

Lest you were concerned, President Trump is not apparently ordering White House graphic designers to come up with joke images featuring his private, for-profit company on taxpayer time. He's just sharing memes he comes across on social media. Perhaps he saw this one on his son Eric's feed.

Well, the joke's on somebody. Peter Weber

August 19, 2019

Despite its fractured leadership, the Islamic State is gaining strength in Iraq and Syria, conducting frequent guerrilla attacks and once again beheading people in public, U.S. and Iraqi military and intelligence officers told The New York Times.

ISIS was pushed out of its last bit of territory in Syria five months ago, but it still has an estimated 18,000 fighters, and more and more are being recruited at Al Hol, a tent camp in northern Syria housing 70,000 people — many of them relatives of ISIS fighters. American intelligence officials said they consider this camp, managed by Syrian Kurds, a breeding ground for future terrorists.

President Trump has ordered troops out of Syria, but a recent inspector general's report said this has made it harder to support Syrian allies fighting ISIS, and they are only able to focus on keeping militants out of urban areas. In July, Trump said the U.S. and allies did "a great job," but it's time for troops to leave. "We'll be out of there pretty soon," he added. "And let them handle their own problems."

ISIS sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq are carrying out assassinations, abductions, and sniper attacks, conducting 139 deadly attacks in northern and western Iraq during the first six months of the year. Earlier this month, a police officer in a rural village two hours north of Baghdad was publicly beheaded by armed men who said they were part of ISIS. The terrorist organization is supported by business endeavors like fish farming and cannabis growing, the Times reports, and it's believed they have hidden away as much as $400 million. Catherine Garcia

August 19, 2019

Now that the United States and Russia have scrapped an arms control agreement, the Pentagon announced on Monday it has conducted a test of a previously banned missile.

The missile, a modified version of a Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, was tested off the coast of Southern California on Sunday, and after flying 310 miles, it hit its target, the Pentagon said. The missile had a conventional warhead. Previously, Defense Department officials said the missile would likely have a range of about 620 miles, and could be ready for use within 18 months, The Associated Press reports. The Pentagon has also said it plans on soon testing a non-nuclear ballistic missile with a range of about 1,864 to 2,485 miles.

Under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, missiles able to fly between 310 and 3,410 miles were banned. The U.S. and Russia withdrew from the treaty on Aug. 2, after both sides accused one another of violating the agreement. Catherine Garcia

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