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Mike Pence goes to Nebraska for Trump as US Midwest reels from historic floods

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Vice President Mike Pence in Nebraska on Tuesday took stock of the devastation unleashed across the U.S. Midwest by floods that have killed four people, left one missing and caused more than a billion dollars in damage to crops, livestock and roads.

“I never fail to be inspired by moments like this. The way communities come together and people volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way to help others,” Pence said Tuesday in Omaha, according to an official statement.

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Pence also said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to expedite a request from Nebraska’s governor for a federal emergency declaration, which will provide more aid to the state.

The floodwaters have inundated a large swath of farm states Iowa and Nebraska along the Missouri River, North America’s longest river, prompting half of Iowa’s 99 counties to declare states of emergency.

“The hearts of the American people are with those who have been impacted across the Midwest!” Pence said in the tweet earlier Tuesday.

Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have all declared states of emergency in the floods, which stem from a powerful winter hurricane known as a “bomb cyclone” that slammed into the U.S. Farm Belt last week, killing untold numbers of livestock, destroying grains and soybeans in storage, and cutting off access to farms because of road and rail damage.

The latest confirmed death was identified by the sheriff in Fremont County, Iowa, as 55-year-old Aleido Rojas Galan, who was pulled from floodwaters along with another man on Friday and later succumbed to injuries.

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A Nebraska man who has been missing since the collapse of the Spencer Dam last week on the Niobrara River was identified by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper as Kenny Angel.

Authorities said they had rescued nearly 300 people in Nebraska alone, with some rivers continuing to rise.

Rescuers could be seen in boats pulling pets from flooded homes. Some roadways crumbled to rubble, while sections of others were submerged. In Hamburg, Iowa, floodwaters covered buildings.

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In Brownville, Nebraska, floodwaters lapped at the edge of the small town of 132 people, closing the main bridge across the Missouri River.

$1 BILLION IN DAMAGE
“It’s a lot worse than I’ve ever seen it,” said Malina Wheeldon, who went ahead with the scheduled opening of her new Euphoric Soul Salon & Boutique business despite the floods. Her husband, Justin, who grew up in Brownville, agreed, saying he had lived through the floods of 1993, 2010 and 2011.

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“About every five years now, we have a 100-year flood,” he said.

The Missouri was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.5 m) on Tuesday, breaking its 2011 record by more than a foot (31 cm), the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said. The flooding was expected to continue through Thursday.

Nebraska officials estimated more than $1 billion in flood damage for the state’s agricultural sector so far, according to Craig Head, vice president of issue management at the Nebraska Farm Bureau. Head said the number was expected to grow as floodwaters recede.

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“It’s really too early to know for sure how bad this is going to get. But one thing we do know: It’s catastrophic for farmers,” said Matt Perdue, government relations director for the National Farmers Union trade group. “We’re hoping it’s only $1 billion, but that’s only a hope.”

Nebraska officials estimate the floods have caused $553 million in damage to public infrastructure and other assets, as well as $89 million in privately owned assets, according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday.

The water also covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is distributing 400,000 sandbags to operators of 12 levees along the Missouri River in Missouri and Kansas that were in danger of being breached by floodwaters, the Army Corps said in a news release on Tuesday.

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In Niobrara, Nebraska, south of the Missouri River near the border with South Dakota, Mayor Jody Stark said flooding that began on Thursday had devastated his community of 350 people, with businesses being the hardest hit.

“Our road system is shot pretty much in every direction coming into town,” Stark said.

The water also covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is distributing 400,000 sandbags to operators of 12 levees along the Missouri River in Missouri and Kansas that were in danger of being breached by floodwaters, the Army Corps said in a news release on Tuesday.

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In Niobrara, Nebraska, south of the Missouri River near the border with South Dakota, Mayor Jody Stark said flooding that began on Thursday had devastated his community of 350 people, with businesses being the hardest hit.

“Our road system is shot pretty much in every direction coming into town,” Stark said.


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GOP strategist walloped for urging Dem lawmakers to leave Trump alone and worry about being re-elected instead

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On CNN Saturday, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Doug Heye clashed after the latter suggested Democrats should value their re-election over holding President Donald Trump accountable for wrongdoing.

"We have to remember, this is not a trial as we think of trials in courtroom," said Heye. "This is a political process. It is designed to be a political process, and that's why this whole process is played out the way that it has so far. I would say to Maria, the Republicans aren't spending money to shore up Republicans per se. They're spending money to go after vulnerable Democrats who are going home and then coming back and telling Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership, I'm getting killed back home."

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William Barr made it clear this week that he’d sign off on a sham investigation into the Dems’ 2020 nominee

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

A perfect storm propelled New York's sleaziest real estate developer to an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite winning three million fewer votes than his opponent, but Nate Silver made a compelling argument that the letter James Comey sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day announcing that the FBI was re-opening its probe into Hillary Clinton's emails was decisive.

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Bill Barr is serving notice to DOJ officials that he’ll ruin them if they investigate Trump: MSNBC host

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An MSNBC discussion about Bill Barr running interference within the Justice Department for Donald Trump ended with "AM Joy" host Joy Reid suggesting that the attorney general's very public "media blitz" over the so-called "Horowitz Report" is a warning shot to anyone in the DOJ who thinks about investigating the president.

As Reid explained it, "He did a whole TV blitz to basically say that his own agency, the FBI, was spying on the Trump campaign, something that the inspector general said did not happen."

Reid took that to its logical conclusion.

"Now he’s saying, ‘Well, I’ve got a different report that’s going to find the motivations’ that he’s basically saying are bad motivations by people in the FBI.  And if you’re that FBI agent and then you hear that Donald Trump may be again looking for foreign help and maybe again getting help from Russia or forcing help from Ukraine, what do you do?" she asked. "Would you then not be concerned that, should you go ahead and investigate foreign interference in our election, that William Barr may come after you?"

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