Trump asks 7-year-old, ‘Are you still a believer in Santa?’

Celebrity Gists

By Eric Levenson, CNN

At what age do children wonder whether Santa really exists?President Donald Trump would like to know.In a Christmas Eve call, Trump asked a 7-year-old named Coleman whether the child still believes in Santa Claus.”Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?”

Trump asked Coleman.Coleman’s response, though inaudible to the press, left Trump with a chuckle and a smile.The call came around 6:30 p.m. Monday as the President and first lady Melania Trump spoke on separate phones to children whose calls to NORAD had been patched through to the White House lines.

The Trumps answer calls from people to the NORAD Santa tracker phone line Monday at the White House.

The Trumps answer calls from people to the NORAD Santa tracker phone line Monday at the White House.In front of a crackling fire and between two Christmas trees, Trump wished Coleman a Merry Christmas and asked the child’s age and Christmas plans and wondered how school was going.”Well, honey, happy Christmas, and you just take care of yourself and say hello to your family, OK? Say hello to everybody,” Trump said.In another phone call, Trump took a child’s belief in Santa as a given.”What’s Santa going to get you for Christmas?” he asked, according to pool reports. “Have a great Christmas, and I’ll talk to you again, OK?”Melania Trump said on Twitter that helping children track Santa “is becoming one of my favorite traditions!” The couple participated in phone calls last year as well.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Melania Trump@FLOTUS

Helping children across the country track #Santa is becoming one of my favorite traditions! @Potus and I enjoyed working with @NORADSanta#ChristmasEve92.2K7:13 PM – Dec 24, 201834.5K people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyNORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has made a tradition of using its radar system to track Santa on his trip around the globe every Christmas Eve.The tradition, which began with a phone line mix-up in 1955, continued this year despite the ongoing government shutdown.

CNN’s Aaron Pellish contributed to this report.

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‘I can’t breathe.’ Jamal Khashoggi’s

international News

Jamal Khashoggi’s last words disclosed in transcript Source says

By Nic Robertson, CNN  Sun December 9, 2018

(CNN)”I can’t breathe.” These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.The source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi’s painful last moments, said it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder the journalist.During the course of the gruesome scene, the source describes Khashoggi struggling against a group of people determined to kill him.”I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says.”I can’t breathe.””I can’t breathe.”The transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered by a saw, as the alleged perpetrators are advised to listen to music to block out the sound.And, according to the source, the transcript suggests that a series of phone calls are made, briefing them on progress. Turkish officials believe the calls were made to senior figures in Riyadh.Some of the details in the transcript seen by CNN’s source have emerged in previous reports of the recording’s content. But this is the fullest account of the transcript that has so far been published.

Jamal Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killingIt is likely to increase pressure on the Trump administration, which has been determined to separate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the murder, and sought to frame the issue as a binary choice between supporting or cutting off a key partner in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump has been at odds with the CIA, which, sources say, has concluded bin Salman personally ordered the killing.The revelations also threaten to undermine a key plank of an initial Saudi explanation for Khashoggi’s death, that it was a rogue operation that went horribly wrong.

The original transcript of the audio was prepared by Turkish intelligence services. Turkish officials have never said how they obtained the audio. The transcript would have been translated before it was shared with other intelligence services; CNN’s source read a translated version and has been briefed on the investigation.

The office of one US senator, who has received a briefing on the investigation by CIA Director Gina Haspel, told CNN that the source’s recollections of the transcript are “consistent” with that briefing.CNN asked Saudi officials to comment on the contents of the transcript as described by the source, and to provide comment from those named in it.

A Saudi official said: “The relevant Saudi security officials have reviewed the transcript and tape materials through Turkish security channels and nowhere in them is there any reference or indication of a call being made.””If there is additional information Turkish authorities have that we are unaware of, we would welcome it being officially handed over to us for review, which we have requested numerous times and are still requesting. And, up until now; we have not received anything.” The official did not address the transcript’s characterization of the scene inside the Saudi consulate, nor Khashoggi’s last words.

A security camera image shows Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

A security camera image shows Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

‘You are coming back’

The transcript begins at the moment Khashoggi enters the Saudi consulate in a quiet residential district of Istanbul at lunchtime on October 2.Khashoggi thought he had made a routine appointment to pick up papers that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. But, according to the source, it dawns upon Khashoggi almost immediately that things are not going to plan, when he recognizes one of the men who meets him.

He asks the man what he is doing there.According to CNN’s source, a voice identified in the transcript as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a former Saudi diplomat and intelligence official working for bin Salman, and known to Khashoggi from their time together at the Saudi Embassy in London, addresses him.”You are coming back,” the man says.”You can’t do that,” Khashoggi replies. “People are waiting outside.”(Khashoggi’s fiancée accompanied him as far as the consulate, with instructions to call associates if he did not emerge.)

Without any further dialogue, according to the source, the transcript indicates that several people set upon Khashoggi. Noises follow, and very quickly Khashoggi is fighting for air.


Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The slow-motion disaster of Trump’s Khashoggi strategy In one version of the evolving explanations for his death, Saudi officials suggested Khashoggi was accidentally choked. But according to the transcript, CNN’s source says, the journalist’s voice can be heard above the noise, repeatedly claiming he could not breathe.Despite his desperate pleas, the last discernible words the transcript records for Khashoggi are:”I can’t breathe.”The transcript notes more noises, and several more voices.One of those voices is identified on the transcript by Turkish authorities as belonging to Dr. Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi, the head of forensic medicine at Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry, the source says.

Aside from Khashoggi and Mutreb, he is the only other voice identified by name on the transcript.As the transcript continues, it is clear Khashoggi is not yet dead.The transcript notes the noises that can be heard on the tape, almost in the manner that subtitles describe moments in movies where there is no dialogue.”Scream.””Scream.””Gasping.”Then, the transcript notes other descriptions.”Saw.””Cutting.”

Tubaiqi is noted giving some advice to other people in the room, apparently to help them deal with the appalling task.”Put your earphones in, or listen to music like me.”During the scene, the transcript notes at least three phone calls placed by Mutreb.

The transcript does not specify the moment Khashoggi dies.According to the source, the transcript suggests Mutreb is updating someone, whom Turkish officials say was in Riyadh, with almost step-by-step details of what is taking place.”Tell yours, the thing is done, it’s done.”The word “yours” is taken by CNN’s source to refer to a superior, or boss.

The transcript has been circulated to key Turkish and Saudi allies, including those in Europe, but only the United States and Saudi Arabia have received the recording itself, the source believes. The working assumption among those allies is that Mutreb was talking to Saud al-Qahtani, bin Salman’s closest aide, the source said. Saudi officials say al-Qahtani has been removed from his former position as media chief to the crown prince.The transcript only records Mutreb’s side of the conversation. Without a recording of that call, or more details of which number was called, further conclusions based on the transcript alone cannot be made.

A portrait of Jamal Khashoggi during a remembrance ceremony for him in Washington on November 2.

A portrait of Jamal Khashoggi during a remembrance ceremony for him in Washington on November 2. A source close to the Saudi investigation into Khashoggi’s killing told CNN that Mutreb and Tubaiqi deny making any phone calls.CNN has previously reported how Mutreb, Tubaiqi and 13 other Saudis arrived in Istanbul by private charter jets and commercial aircraft on the day of and the days leading up to Khashoggi’s murder.Turkish surveillance video records the 15-man hit team arriving at the consulate shortly before Khashoggi, and departing a few hours later.

A body double of Khashoggi dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes is seen on CCTV leaving by the back door. It is clear from the transcript of the phone conversation that the calls do not describe a terrible situation gone awry, or explain an unexpected set of circumstances, the source says. Instead, the caller appears simply to be informing someone of what is going on. Hardly, the source says, the actions of a panicked ringleader, but more the description of a situation going entirely according to plan.

The transcript is relatively short, given the time span it describes, the source told CNN. There is not much dialogue; certainly no hint of a conversation about why Khashoggi should go “back,” and no suggestion either, as advanced at one point by Saudi officials, that he had been drugged by the hit team. There is nothing in this transcript that the source could describe as a “smoking gun” — a snippet of conversation or phone call that directly ties bin Salman to the so-called hit team, and to Khashoggi’s murder.

Graham on Khashoggi: Crown Prince ‘complicit’ 02:00But the lasting conclusion the source drew from the transcript is that Khashoggi’s killing was a planned assassination by an organized team that carried out its job with ruthless efficiency, keeping someone in Riyadh informed at each step.While the transcript provides no smoking gun directly tying Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing, it seems to echo Sen. Lindsey Graham’s sentiments after hearing the CIA’s assessment of Khashoggi’s killing.

Graham, who was among a group of senators to receive a classified briefing on the Khashoggi case, said earlier this week that he agreed with the conclusions of the US security services that bin Salman was implicated in the case.”There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” he said.

Source: CNN.

Coming between Cardi B and Offsets

Entertainment, international News, movies, Music, personality, song

Let’s give Cardi B a minute

Analysis by Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) Before you tweet me asking, “Why is Cardi B’s marital split news?” I will beat you to the punch and say it’s not, really.Cardi shot to the top of Twitter trends Wednesday after she announced her split from husband and fellow rapper Offset on Instagram. 

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: A model prepares backstage for the Jeremy Scott show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

I’m shocked by how shocked peo

ple are that Cardi B and Offset broke up— bilal (@ziadehb) December 5, 2018

Sad to hear Cardi B has split from Offset. I genuinely thought that one was going to work out.— FIGHTING POLYGON TEAM (@connorarose) December 5, 2018

Yall really cant sit here and tell me you could handle Cardi B for more than 20 minutes. Imagine hearing that voice every time you woke up lol Offset should get a Nobel peace prize for making it this long https://t.co/SnuHsfFSf1— 🇺🇸 Trev 🇿🇦 (@trevcannon) December 5, 2018

Celebrity couples who eventual break up is almost a given these days, unless they are in the rarefied air of a few. (You have the power to destroy us Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, so please keep hanging in there.)Cardi has earned her right to grieve the end of her year-long marriage in private, should she so choose.But given Offset’s success as a member of the rap group Migos and Cardi’s rapid rise as a solo artist, interest is understandable.”There’s been a lot of good and bad in Cardi B’s personal life this year,” Jason Lipshutz, editorial director at Billboard told CNN. “I don’t think it diminishes from the fact she’s had one of the biggest breakthrough years in hip-hop history and in recent popular music memory.”As the first female MC to top the Billboard 100 in almost 20 years, (Lauryn Hill last did it in 1998 with “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”) and the first woman to chart their first three entries in the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs’ Top 10 simultaneously, it would seem like Cardi has worked hard enough to earn a pass on the mountain of speculation that is sure to come in the wake of her marriage.

An unlikely career

This is a woman who has already beaten the odds on so many levels.Belcalis Almanzar (Cardi’s birth name) took the Cinderella story of a stripper who hits the big time and flipped it on its head.She defied the Hollywood trope of the stripper waiting for a knight in shining armor to take her off the pole. Cardi did it herself, through shear determination.She first came to fame on the VH1 reality series “Love & Hip Hop: New York.”The future star was loud, combative and in your face about everything — from her exotic dancing to her then imprisoned boyfriend, identified only as “Tommy” on the show.In other words, authentically Cardi B.Who is Cardi B?She was far from polished, which is one of the things viewers loved — and continue to love — about her.In one memorable scene from Season 6 of “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” tensions between Cardi and the girlfriend of a fellow cast member boiled over and resulted in Cardi uttering one of the show’s most memorable lines.

Michigan Man Arrested After Caller Threatens to Kill CNN Employees: Affidavit — KTLA

Crime, News

Authorities arrested a Michigan man last week after he allegedly called CNN several times, threatening to kill employees at the network’s Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters, according to a federal affidavit.

Brandon Griesemer made 22 calls to CNN on January 9 and January 10 and four calls, which were recorded, contained threats, according to the affidavit, which was unsealed Friday.

Griesemer, whose age was not given, also made disparaging statements about Jewish people, African-Americans and the network in several calls, the affidavit said.

He was charged Friday in US District Court with transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure. He was released Friday on $10,000 bond.

A family member at Griesemer’s home in Novi, Michigan, declined to comment late Monday.

“We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people,” CNN said Monday in a statement.

Michigan authorities first crossed paths with Griesemer last fall.

On September 19, a man — later identified as Griesemer — called an employee at an Islamic center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and made derogatory comments about the mosque and Muslims, an FBI agent said in the affidavit.

Ann Arbor police used an online database to identify Griesemer’s father as the phone’s owner.

Two days later, Ann Arbor police contacted Griesemer’s mother at the family’s home, where Griesemer lived. She told police her son had called the mosque, the affidavit said. Officers told her they wanted to talk to her son.

In a call to Ann Arbor police that day, Griesemer admitted he called the mosque on September 19 “and that he was angry at the time of the call,” the affidavit said.

CNN received the first threatening call around 3 p.m. on January 9. The call was made to a publicly listed phone number at the Atlanta headquarters from the same cell phone number used to call the Islamic center in Ann Arbor on September 19, the affidavit said.

It was the first of three threatening calls that day to CNN from that number, according to the affidavit.

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” said the caller, who cursed and used an expletive directed at African-Americans, the affidavit said.

“I am on my way right now to gun the f****** CNN cast down …. I am coming to kill you,” the caller said a second call to CNN, according to affidavit.

On January 9, an investigator employed by CNN searched law enforcement databases for the phone number and discovered it was registered to Griesemer’s father, the affidavit said. The investigator learned a second number was associated with the wireless account.

The investigator called the second phone number and asked to speak to Griesemer’s father. The man who picked up identified himself as Brandon, the affidavit said.

The investigator recorded the conversation with Griesemer and compared the audio to the recorded audio of the threatening calls, the affidavit said.

The voices sounded like the same person, the affidavit said.

On January 10, CNN received the fourth call from the same cell phone number used to make the three prior threats, the affidavit said.

The caller again threatened to come to the Atlanta headquarters to “gun every single last one of you,” the affidavit said.

The CNN investigator collected data from the cell phone used to make the threats. That phone had accessed a cellular tower in Novi, Michigan, the affidavit said.

Griesemer could face a fine or up to five years in prison if convicted

via Michigan Man Arrested After Caller Threatens to Kill CNN Employees: Affidavit — KTLA