Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Friday

1. Trump says Russia relations may be at ‘all-time low,’ praises Tillerson trip

President Trump declared yesterday that U.S.-Russia relations “may be at an all-time low,” as he praised his top diplomat Rex Tillerson for working to address those tensions in Moscow – and left open whether ties between the two countries can be mended.

“Right now, we’re not getting along with Russia at all, we may be at an all-time low,” Trump said during a White House press conference.

Tillerson gave a similar assessment during a press conference with his Russian counterpart, after meeting at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin for nearly two hours yesterday.

Asked whether it's possible Syria could have launched the attack without Russia's knowledge, Trump gave a mixed answer, saying it's "possible" but "probably unlikely."

“I would like to think that they didn’t know, but certainly they could have, they were there,” he said. The president said it would be “fantastic” if the U.S. and Russia eventually get along but could not say whether that would happen.

2. United Airlines will fully reimburse passengers from the controversial overbooked flight that involved police officers a dragging a passenger off the aircraft

The news of the reimbursement came as two more airport police officers involved in the incident aboard the United Express flight at Chicago's O'Hare Airport have been placed on leave.

The announcement from the city's Aviation Department came two days after another officer involved in the Sunday night confrontation was put on leave. The department said it is continuing its investigation into the incident.

Attorneys representing the man who was dragged off the flight, Kentucky physician David Dao, and a member of the man's family are set to talk about the incident on Thursday.

In a news release, the attorneys said they plan to talk to the media and that they will be accompanied by a relative of Dao. No lawsuit has been filed, but the legal team has already taken a move in that direction by filing court papers asking that the airline and the city preserve evidence in the case.

3. SUN UK: North Korea is ‘preparing to detonate a nuclear bomb in a tunnel’ to mark ‘Day of the Sun’ celebrating the birth of North Korea’s founding father Kim Il-Sung

A Voice of America journalist tweeted that US government sources believe North Korea had placed a nuclear device in a tunnel and it could be detonated as early as this weekend.

It comes after Washington-based 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea, said satellite images from Saturday showed vehicles and trailers at the test site and signs that communications cables may have been laid to a test tunnel.

The think tank said water appears to be being pumped out and was draining downhill “presumably to keep the tunnel dry for monitoring or communications equipment”. Yesterday foreign journalists visiting North Korea were told to prepare for a “big and important event” today.

About 200 foreign journalists are in Pyongyang as the country marks the 105th birth anniversary of its founding president Kim Il Sung on April 15, North Korea’s biggest national day called “Day of the Sun”.

But today the international media were taken to an event where Kim Jong-Un opened a prestige housing project.

4. Military escalation in Syria and North Korea are driving people to Google Google searches for the term “World War 3” have hit the highest ever level as a result of the Trump administration’s escalation in Syria and North Korea.

Google Trends illustrates how the number of searches for the term in recent days dwarfs the last peak in November 2015. Related search queries include “Syria war,” “Trump world war 3” and “Syria world war 3,” which is also attracting the highest search interest ever recorded.

The term “going to war” also spiked to its highest ever level, easily beating the last time it soared right before the Obama administration was mulling a military attack on Syria in August-September 2013.


5. Star tribune: Woman and children report seeing an alligator roaming Rochester

There may or may not be an alligator on the loose in Rochester right now. Rochester residents reported a sighting to the police Tuesday night.

A woman and several children spotted the tropical reptile slithering around Cascade Lake Tuesday night and alerted police. According to the Post-Bulletin, they saw a toothy alligator or crocodile, about 3 or 4 feet long, eyeing them from the lake around 8 p.m.

A 45-minute search of the city lake by police failed to turn up any sign of the Rochestergator. Police did not immediately return a phone call.

Minnesota is about a thousand miles north of the swamp dwelling species’ normal range, but this wouldn’t be the first time someone’s exotic pet found its way into a local lake.

Last summer, police in Brainerd Lakes took custody of a 3-foot-long gator they found sunning itself on a local bike path. Ten days later, Cass County deputies scooped a second small alligator out of Hardy Lake, near Pillager. Both gators — believed to be exotic pets that either escaped or were dumped by negligent owners — were taken to local wildlife sanctuaries.

In 2013, an alligator lunged out of the lily pads on Goose Lake in Washington County and was shot by Department of Natural Resources officer.

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