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The Mueller Report: Live Analysis and Excerpts
Times reporters are reading and analyzing the redacted Mueller report, released on Thursday.
Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Other Candidates React to Mueller Report
Author: MATT STEVENS
Ms. Warren said Attorney General William P. Barr was acting like a “publicist” for President Trump, and Ms. Harris said Mr. Barr’s news conference was “filled with political spin.”
2020 Democratic Candidates React to Barr’s Framing of Mueller Report
Author: MATT STEVENS
Elizabeth Warren said William Barr, the attorney general, was acting like a “publicist” for President Trump, and Kamala Harris said Mr. Barr’s news conference was “filled with political spin.”

Columbian Newspaper

Portugal says all 29 dead in bus crash were German
Author: BARRY HATTON, Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal — All the 29 people killed in a tour bus crash on Portugal’s Madeira Island were German, Portugal’s foreign ministry confirmed Thursday.

The bus carrying 55 people, all German tourists except a Portuguese driver and guide, rolled down a steep hill after veering off the road on a bend east of Madeira’s capital, Funchal, on Wednesday evening when it was still light and in fine weather. The crash injured 28 others.

A foreign ministry statement reiterated the government’s condolences to the families of victims, and said the crash “claimed the lives of 29 German citizens.”

Authorities said they are investigating the cause and would inspect the bus for mechanical problems.

Portuguese officials had previously said they had not yet identified the victims by name or nationality.

People at the roadside are also thought to be among the injured.

Tomasia Alves, head of the Funchal hospital, said authorities hope to have a list of victims by Saturday. She said the victims were roughly between 40 and 60 years old and included no children.

She said 28 people were taken from the accident scene to a morgue, and another person died later in hospital.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was “deeply shaken by the tragic bus crash.” He was due to travel to Madeira on Thursday afternoon and meet his Portuguese counterpart there.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed “sadness and shock” at the accident. “My sincere sympathy goes especially to all of the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy,” she said.

Rescue services used two cranes before dawn Thursday to pull the bus, which was lying on its side with part of its roof torn off, from the crash site, local media reported.

The wall of a house, which appeared to have halted the bus’s fall, was smashed in. Parts of the bus, including seats, and items of clothing littered the grassy hillside, which looks out over the Atlantic Ocean.

The tourists reportedly were staying at the nearby Quinta Splendida, a hotel restored from a 19th-century manor house.

Madeira, off the coast from northwest Africa, is a popular vacation destination for Europeans due to its mild climate and lush, hilly landscape.

A German pastor on Madeira praised the medics who cared for the survivors.

Ilse Everlien Berardo told German broadcaster n-tv Thursday the survivors she spoke to were “in a state of shock.”

She said Madeira officials “immediately looked for people on the island who speak German.”

“Even though the doctors and nurses cared touchingly for the injured it’s also always important to hear your mother tongue and get a few words of attention,” she said.

France honors Notre Dame firefighters; protects rose window
Author: ELAINE GANLEY and SYLVIE CORBET NICOLAS VAUX-MONTAGNY, ELAINE GANLEY and SYLVIE CORBET NICOLAS VAUX-MONTAGNY, Associated Press

PARIS — France paid a daylong tribute Thursday to the Paris firefighters who saved Notre Dame Cathedral from collapse, while construction workers rushed to secure an area above one of the church’s famed rose-shaped windows and other vulnerable sections of the fire-damaged landmark.

President Emmanuel Macron held a ceremony at the Elysee Palace to thank the hundreds of firefighters who battled a fast-moving fire at Notre Dame for nine hours starting Monday evening, preventing the structure’s destruction and rescuing many of the important relics held inside.

“We’ve seen before our eyes the right things perfectly organized in a few moments, with responsibility, courage, solidarity and a meticulous organization”, Macron said. “The worst has been avoided.”

Macron said the firefighters will receive an Honor Medal for their courage and devotion.

As the ceremony took place, investigators continued seeking clues to what sparked the fire. The huge cathedral, including the spire that was consumed by flames and collapsed, was in the initial stages of a lengthy restoration.

The roof was destroyed, but Notre Dame’s iconic bell towers, rose windows, organ, and precious artworks were saved.

Fire officials warned that the building remains very fragile and extremely dangerous for construction workers, restoration experts and neighbors.

Police, citing “important risks” of collapse and falling objects, officially closed Thursday a large swath of the island in the Seine River on which Notre Dame sits. The area had been unofficially blocked off since the fire.

Workers using a crane were removing some statues to lessen the weight on the cathedral’s fragile gables, or support walls, and to keep them from falling, since the section lacked the support of the massive timber roof that burned up in the devastating blaze.

They were also securing the support structure above one of Notre Dame’s rose windows with wooden planks.

Paris City Hall was holding a ceremony in the firefighters’ honor Monday afternoon, with a Bach violin concert, two giant banners strung from the monumental city headquarters and readings from Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Remarkably, no one was killed in the fire, which began during a Mass, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated those inside.

Among the firefighters honored Thursday is Paris fire brigade chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who says he was falsely credited with helping salvage the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion.

The chaplain says a team of rescuers broke the relic’s protective covering and an official who had the secret code to unlock the protection finished the job. Fournier told France Info on Thursday that his own team arrived on the heels of the salvaging and praised the action “to preserve this extraordinary relic, this patrimony of humanity.”

However, Fournier told the daily Le Parisian that he himself was able to save the most precious thing for Catholics from the fire, the cathedral’s consecrated hosts. The paper said he climbed on altars to remove large paintings, but that he felt especially proud of another personal salvaging operation: “to have removed Jesus” from the Cathedral.

For Catholics, consecrated hosts are the body of Christ.

Among others honored was Myriam Chudzinski, one of the first firefighters to reach the roof as the blaze raged. Loaded with gear, they climbed hundreds of steps up the cathedral’s narrow spiral staircase to the top of one of the two towers. She had trained at the site for hours for just this moment.

“We knew that the roof was burning, but we didn’t really know the intensity,” she told reporters. “It was from upstairs that you understood that it was really dramatic. It was very hot and we had to retreat, retreat. It was spreading quickly.”

Investigators so far believe the fire was accidental, and are questioning both cathedral staff and workers who were carrying out renovations. Some 40 people had been questioned by Thursday, according the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The building would have burned to the ground in a “chain-reaction collapse” had firefighters not moved as rapidly as they did to battle the blaze racing through the building, Jos? Vaz de Matos, a fire expert with France’s Culture Ministry, said Wednesday.

An initial fire alert was sounded at 6:20 p.m., as a Mass was underway in the cathedral, but no fire was found. A second alarm went off at 6:43 p.m., and the blaze was discovered already consuming the roof.

Macron wants to rebuild the cathedral within five years — in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics that Paris is hosting — but experts say the vast scale of the work to be done could easily take 15 years, since it will take months, even years, just to figure out what should be done. Nearly $1 billion has been pledged for the cathedral’s restoration.

Benedicte Contamin, who came to view the damaged cathedral from afar Thursday, said she’s sad but grateful it’s still there.

“It’s a chance for France to bounce back, a chance to realize what unites us, because we have been too much divided over the past years,” she said.

Nicolas Vaux-Montagny and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

Read and watch all AP coverage of the Notre Dame fire at https://apnews.com/NotreDameCathedral

Billionaires raced to pledge money to rebuild Notre Dame. Then came the backlash.
Author: James McAuley, The Washington Post

PARIS — The eventual reconstruction of Notre Dame is now a foregone conclusion. Within hours of the fire that destroyed much of the cathedral on Monday, donors pledged more than $1 billionto restore the Parisian icon to its former glory.

Even before the smoke had cleared, Luxury goods magnate Francois-Henri Pinault announced his family would donate 100 million euros ($112 million) to the effort. Not to remain on the sideline, his rival Bernard Arnault — the chief executive of LVMH and the richest man in Europe — pledged twice that amount on Tuesday morning. The Bettencourt Meyers family, which controls L’Oreal, quickly matched that pledge. And Patrick Pouyanne, chief of excutive of French oil giant Total, offered another $112 million.

Officials are still assessing the extent of the damage, so the cost of Notre Dame’s reconstruction remains unknown, but these and the many other donations coming in should pretty well cover it.

In the meantime, the cascade of cash that materialized overnight to save the cathedral has raised eyebrows in France, still in the throes of a crippling protest over rising social inequality and whose leader is regularly decried as the “president of the rich.”

“Of course, I find it nice, this solidarity,” said Ingrid Levavasseur, a leader of the yellow vest movement that has protested inequality in a series of often violent Saturday demonstrations since mid-November. The stream of donations essentially confirmed the movement’s broader social critique, Levavasseur said.

“If they can give tens of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame, then they should stop telling us there is no money to help with the social emergency,” Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT trade union, said on Wednesday.

The cash flow has also furrowed brows abroad, with critics emphasizing that destroyed landmarks in non-Western locales — such as the ancient sites destroyed by the Islamic State in Syria — have hardly inspired such a global groundswell.

“In just a few hours today, 650 million euros was donated to rebuild Notre Dame,” South Africa-based journalist Simon Allison tweeted. “In six months, just 15 million euros has been pledged to restore Brazil’s National Museum. I think this is what they call white privilege.”

Rio de Janeiro’s National Museum was incinerated in a fire in September.

Inside and outside of France, the unease has centered on a perceived disparity between concern for the fate of beautiful monuments and concern for the struggles of real people, which can be more difficult to sell to donors.

In February, for instance, the United Nations launched a record call for $4 billion dollars in aid for Yemen, in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. “Almost 10 million are just one step away from famine,” Secretary General Ant?nio Guterres said in his pitch at a donor conference in Geneva. In the hours after his call, roughly $2.6 billion came in — a feat in itself. But still well short of the goal.

Notre Dame offers a striking contrast: No one was killed, no one is starving, but philanthropists likely provided the full amount — if not more — instantaneously and unprompted.

There was initial speculation that billionaire donors were contributing to Notre Dame in order to receive a generous tax break from the state. Typically, the French government allows corporations a 60 percent tax deduction on donations made in the realm of culture.

“Billionaires should pay taxes,” tweeted economist Julia Cage, “not give when they feel like it, benefiting from enormous tax breaks.”

Amid mounting criticism, some of the big donors defended their contributions. Both Arnault and Pinault said they were not looking for tax benefits.

Arnault told shareholders that his family holding company had already hit its ceiling on tax deductions for charitable donations.

“It’s an empty controversy,” Arnault said. “It’s pretty dismaying to see that in France you are criticized even for doing something for the general interest.”

The Pinault family similarly released a statement saying: “The donation for Notre-Dame de Paris will not be subject to any tax deduction. The Pinault family considers that it is out of the question to burden French taxpayers.”

Pinault’s wife, actress Salma Hayek, praised on Instagram the family’s “personal and heart felt participation in the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris.”

“My husband and father in law are two generous french citizens, who sincerely understand the importance of this spiritual, cultural and historical treasure from Paris to the world,” Hayek wrote.

Caroline Fourest, a French feminist and writer, said she thinks she understands the collective outpouring over Notre Dame, even though the nation’s mourning is different than after major terrorist attacks — at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and the Bataclan concert hall in 2015, at the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice in 2016 and at a Christmas market in Strasbourg last December.

“There are similarities, mostly in the sense that we found a real communion, which was the case in Paris after the attacks,” Fourest said.

“It’s not the same loss or the same anguish, because no one died,” she said. “But with Notre Dame, we were afraid of losing a part of the beauty that makes living in Paris so sweet. There’s a sadness there.”

Strong storms rumble across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas
Author: Associated Press

DALLAS — Severe thunderstorms rumbled across North Texas, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas, producing several tornadoes and unleashing widespread hail.

Seven tornadoes were reported across the Plains from the northeastern Texas Panhandle to southeastern Kansas. Strong winds hit elsewhere Wednesday evening, toppling utility poles and trees and downing power lines in parts of North Texas. No significant structural damage has been reported.

The National Weather Service received numerous reports of hail pelting the storm-struck areas. Egg-size hail was reported about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northwest of Fort Worth.

The storms were expected to move Thursday into the Deep South. Dozens of schools in Mississippi and Alabama dismissed students early as a precaution.

The threat comes days after dozens of tornadoes from East Texas to Georgia left at least nine dead.

Affidavit: Off-duty officer in fatal crash had ‘adult sodas’
Author: Associated Press

AMHERST, N.H. — An affidavit says an off-duty police officer accused of driving drunk in a crash that killed a New Hampshire woman was seen weaving in and out of traffic and traveling in the wrong direction beforehand.

The affidavit also says Londonderry police officer Tyler Berry told a first responder following the April 5 crash in Amherst that he had been drinking “adult sodas.”

State police said Berry crossed the center line in a pickup truck and hit a vehicle on Route 101. Police say 21-year-old Sierra Croteau, of Manchester, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Berry was hospitalized with injuries.

The 27-year-old Berry was scheduled to appear in court Thursday on a charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated. He waived arraignment and entered a not guilty plea.

Senior slugger: 65-year-old woman hits burglar with bat
Author: Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When a Florida woman heard a noise and saw a man trying to break into her car early Sunday, she took matters into her own hands.

Clarese Gainey, 65, of Gainesville tells WGFL that she picked up her softball bat early Sunday, braced herself and eased open the door before hitting Antonio Mosley.

“I took that bat and hit him upside the head, like ‘pi-yah,’ “Gainey said, adding that the 5-foot-6, 300-pound man said, “Ow!”

Mosely ran to a nearby mobile home park, leaving behind his pants, shirt, and a sock, police said. A K-9 unit tracked him down, and Gainey said she easily identified him because of the knot on his head.

Gainey says she played softball in high school and can still swing a bat.

“He better be glad I didn’t have a gun,” Gainey said. “Because I would have shot him.”

Mosely is being held in the Alachua County Jail on burglary and drug charges. A lawyer isn’t listed on jail records.

Kansas police officer seriously injured in school bus crash
Author: Associated Press

TYRO, Kan. — Authorities say a police officer was seriously injured when he rear-ended a stopped school bus in southeast Kansas.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Wednesday after the bus driver stopped to drop off students along U.S. 166 about 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) west of Tyro.

The officer had to be cut from his patrol vehicle and was flown to a hospital. The patrol says no students were hurt but that the bus driver complained of pain. Seven students from Caney Valley Schools were on the bus at the time.

The Coffeyville Police Department says in a Facebook post that the officer was returning from out-of-town training and wasn’t responding to an emergency when the crash happened. The officer’s police dog also was in the car but wasn’t seriously injured.

Tyro is near the Oklahoma border about 120 miles (193 kilometers) southeast of Wichita.

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