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America’s best confronted America’s worst at Trump’s LIV golf fest in NJ — Kelly

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In recent days we have seen the best of America — and the worst.

Let me begin with the best.

America’s intelligence services and its sophisticated military killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaida leader who concocted the warped political-theology that led to the murder-suicide mission of Sept. 11, 2001.

In that attack — the deadliest terror strike in U.S. history — 19 al-Qaida operatives, intoxicated by al-Zawahiri’s words, hijacked four commercial jetliners. The operatives first murdered the pilots and most of the flight attendants on each jetliner, reportedly slitting their throats. Then, after taking control of the jetliners, they crashed two into the twin skyscrapers of New York City’s World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon in Northern Virginia and a fourth into a Pennsylvania farm field.

Nearly 3,000 innocent people died. The 19 hijackers, who also died, believed they were carrying out God’s will and earning a martyrs’ spot in “paradise.” Or so al-Zawahiri told them.

Meanwhile, LIV Golf at Trump National Bedminster

Fast-forward to now. While al-Zawahiri’s death this week elicited justified and immense satisfaction across most of the non-terrorist world, it also left behind a sobering dose of irony — not to mention outright shame back here in New Jersey.

As al-Zawahiri was killed last Sunday morning in Kabul, Afghanistan, by a missile fired from a U.S. drone, some four dozen professional golfers in Bedminster, New Jersey — on a course owned by former President Donald J. Trump — were paid lavish sums of money to essentially stage a golfing exhibition while rock music was piped in. The money for the LIV Golf tournament — whose slogan is “golf, but louder” — came from Saudi Arabia, which the FBI now concludes was the same source of logistical and financial support for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The golfers saw no problem with this. Neither did Trump. In fact, Trump, who specifically blamed the Saudis on Fox News in 2016 for the 9/11 attacks, had a change of heart as he stood in the heat and humidity of his golf course in Bedminster, and with an unspecified amount of Saudi cash funneled into his business empire.

Trump during the Pro Am. The LIV Pro Am Tournament featured the former President of the United States, Donald Trump and his son Eric playing with with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 28, 2022.

Trump during the Pro Am. The LIV Pro Am Tournament featured the former President of the United States, Donald Trump and his son Eric playing with with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 28, 2022.

“Well, nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11,” our former president told journalists.

Nobody? Trump apparently has not read the thousands of FBI documents that point a finger right into the Saudi government, in particular its intelligence service and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs, not to mention its embassy in Washington, D.C. The FBI points to at least a dozen Saudi officials — including the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in 2001 — as playing some sort of role with the 9/11 hijackers.

When asked, the golfers mumbled their version of “thoughts and prayers” that we hear from clueless gun rights proponents when mass shootings occur. The golfers said their “hearts go out” to the families.

But these golfers were not about to put away their putters and abandon the LIV tournament. They seemed more in tune with Trump, who told the golfers to “take the money” in spite of the criticism over Saudi Arabia’s links to 9/11 and other human rights abuses including the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Such is the worst of America. Thankfully we also had a taste of the best.

More Mike Kelly:9/11 families grieve anew as Saudi LIV tournament gets underway at Trump’s NJ golf course

More Mike Kelly:Trump, LIV Golf finally got Saudi connections to 9/11 attention — for now

Haunted by, and relentlessly drawn to, the stories of 9/11

Members and supporters of 9/11 Justice.org held a gathering outside the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster to address the media concerning their opposition to Saudi support for the LIV Golf Tournament being held at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.

Members and supporters of 9/11 Justice.org held a gathering outside the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster to address the media concerning their opposition to Saudi support for the LIV Golf Tournament being held at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.

For two decades, I have followed the 9/11 story. My journey began by crossing the Hudson River on a tugboat on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. It then took me to Malaysia, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza City, Washington, D.C., Iraq and the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But what continues to draw me back to this story — and often haunts me — are the people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. On that Tuesday in September 2001 when smoke and ash blotted out a golden sun and sullied a cloudless sky, children lost fathers and mothers, husbands lost wives and wives lost husbands. Parents lost sons and daughters. Many of us lost friends.

In the New York metropolitan region, many of us were just two degrees of separation from 9/11. Either we lost someone we knew or we knew someone who lost someone. This tragedy was not just something we read about in a book or a newspaper with a distant dateline. The death was up close and personal.

Juliette Scauso, left, was among the family members and supporters of 9/11Justice.org who took part in a gathering outside the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster to address the media concerning their opposition to Saudi support for the LIV Golf Tournament being held at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.

Juliette Scauso, left, was among the family members and supporters of 9/11Justice.org who took part in a gathering outside the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster to address the media concerning their opposition to Saudi support for the LIV Golf Tournament being held at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.

That’s why it’s worth listening to Juliette Scauso.

She was only 4 when her father, Dennis, a New York City firefighter who lived with his wife and four children in Huntington Station, Long Island, was killed in the rubble of the twin towers in lower Manhattan. Like more than 1,000 of the nearly 3,000 people who perished at the trade center, rescue workers never identified Dennis’ body. All they found, according to the Better Angels website, was his mangled firefighter’s helmet.

Brett Eagleson, President of 9/11 Justice.org addresses the media with as members and supporters of 9/11 Justice.org held a gathering outside the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster to address the media concerning their opposition to Saudi support for the LIV Golf Tournament being held at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.

Brett Eagleson, President of 9/11 Justice.org addresses the media with as members and supporters of 9/11 Justice.org held a gathering outside the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster to address the media concerning their opposition to Saudi support for the LIV Golf Tournament being held at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.

His daughter, Juliette, is 25 now and studying to become a physician at the School of Medicine at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Back in America for the summer, she took time out to to drive to Bedminster to offer a voice of reason amid the cacophonous cloud that seems to envelop Trump and his followers whenever a question of truth and morals is asked.

Scauso joined three dozen other 9/11 survivors and relatives of victims in Bedminster for a protest of sorts against Trump and the golfers. When she stepped to a bank of news microphones to speak, she described the father she lost — a pilot and animal lover, who made Mickey Mouse pancakes and used duct tape to reattach the heads to her broken Barbie dolls.

And then Scauso asked the question that looms now over this uneasy alliance of Saudi money, greedy golf and an apparently uncaring Trump, whose failing golf empire is being bolstered by an influx of money from the same nation that allegedly helped to kill her father.

“How much money does it take to turn your back on your country?” Scauso asked, adding: “Or the American people?”

Moments earlier, Scauso pointed out that “my father wasn’t the type of person who could be bought.” And directing her message again at Trump and the golfers, she said: “I just want you to know that if you were there that day, my father would have run in to save you without a second thought.”

Dennis Scauso died with 18 other men from his firehouse in Maspeth, Queens, which was the headquarters of two of the FDNY’s most elite units, Hazardous Materials Company 1 and Squad 288. Today a memorial at a nearby plaza tells passersby that “Squad 288 / Hazmat 1 had the single largest loss of firefighters of any F.D.N.Y. firehouse” in the 9/11 attacks.

But the memorial doesn’t tell the full story. Left behind after those 19 firefighters died were more than 50 children who were forced to grow up without their fathers.

One of those children is Juliette Scauso. Amid the moral circus that descended on New Jersey last week, she asked the right questions.

She is the best of America.

Mike Kelly is an award-winning columnist for NorthJersey.com as well as the author of three critically acclaimed non-fiction books and a podcast and documentary film producer. To get unlimited access to his insightful thoughts on how we live life in New Jersey, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: kellym@northjersey.com

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Trump’s LIV Golf and the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri



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Eric Trump’s Accidental Confession About His Father Has Twitter Users Howling

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The New York Times

California Fire and Floods Turn a River to ‘Sludge,’ Killing Thousands of Fish

As a deadly fire continued to burn last week in the Klamath National Forest in Northern California, Kenneth Brink, a local fisherman, counted dead fish in a river that had turned to the consistency of “chocolate milk.” Brink, 45, a member of the Karuk Tribe, lives in Happy Camp, a town of less than 900 people on the Klamath River, in Siskiyou County. The town is near the border with Oregon. On Friday, he drove about 20 miles upstream, where he made the grim discovery: thousands of dead suckerfis



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Afghan man charged in killings of Muslims in New Mexico

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The ambush killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, shook the community but inspired a flood of information, including a tip that led to the arrest of a local Muslim man originally from Afghanistan who knew the victims, authorities said.

Muhammad Syed, 51, was arrested on Monday after a traffic stop more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from his home in Albuquerque. He was charged with killing two victims and was identified as the prime suspect in the other two slayings, authorities announced Tuesday.

The Muslim community is breathing “an incredible sigh of relief,” said Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. “Lives have been turned upside down.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Syed had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The first killing last November was followed by three more between July 26 and Aug. 5.

Police Chief Harold Medina said it was not clear yet whether the deaths should be classified as hate crimes or serial killings or both.

Syed was from Afghanistan and had lived in the United States for about five years, police said.

“The offender knew the victims to some extent, and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings,” a police statement said, although investigators were still working to identify how they had crossed paths.

When asked specifically if Syed, a Sunni Muslim, was angry that his daughter married a Shiite Muslim, Deputy Police Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock did not respond directly. He said “motives are still being explored fully to understand what they are.”

Assed acknowledged that “there was a marriage,” but he cautioned against coming to any conclusions about the motivation of Syed, who occasionally attended the center’s mosque.

Police said Syed gave them a statement but didn’t disclose details.

The slayings drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who said such attacks “have no place in America.” They also sent a shudder through Muslim communities across the U.S. Some people questioned their safety and limited their movements.

“There is no justification for this evil. There is no justification to take an innocent life,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, said at a Tuesday news conference in Washington, D.C.

He called the killings “deranged behavior.”

The earliest case involves the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan.

Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old man from Pakistan, was killed Friday night. His death came just days after those of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were also from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.

Ehsan Chahalmi, the brother-in-law of Naeem Hussain, said he was “a generous, kind, giving, forgiving and loving soul that has been taken away from us forever.”

For now, Syed is charged in the killings of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain because bullet casings found at the crime scenes were linked to a gun found at his home, authorities said.

Investigators consider Syed to be the primary suspect in the deaths of Naeem Hussain and Ahmadi but have not yet filed charges in those cases.

The announcement that the shootings appeared to be linked produced more than 200 tips, including one from the Muslim community that police credited with leading them to the Syed family.

Police said they were about to search Syed’s Albuquerque home on Monday when they saw him drive away in a Volkswagen Jetta that investigators believe was used in at least one of the slayings.

Officers followed him to Santa Rosa, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) east of Albuquerque, where they pulled him over. Multiple firearms were recovered from his home and car, police said.

Syed’s sons were questioned and released, according to authorities.

Prosecutors expect to file murder charges in state court and are considering adding a federal case, authorities said.

Shiites make up the second largest branch in Islam after Sunnis.

Aneela Abad, general secretary at the Islamic center, said the two Muslim communities in New Mexico enjoy warm ties.

“Our Shiite community has always been there for us and we, Sunnis, have always been there for them,” she said.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain had worked as a field organizer for Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury’s campaign.

“Muhammad was kind, hopeful, optimistic,” she said, describing him as a city planner “who believed in democracy and social change, and who believed that we could, in fact, build a brighter future for our communities and for our world.”

___

Dazio reported from Los Angeles and Fam from Winter Park, Florida. Associated Press writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.



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Beaned batter rises to console upset pitcher

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Beaned batter rises to console upset pitcher



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