Trump gives Pope Francis artwork by Florida artist

President Donald Trump gave Pope Francis a sculpture by Florida-based artist Geoffrey C. Smith, according to The White House. 

The bronze sculpture that Smith called “Rising Above” is inspired on the artists’ sighting of the flower in the Florida Everglades.

Smith, a wildlife sculptor and photographer, has a studio and a gallery in Stuart. President George Bush is a fan of his work. 

The White House reported Trump also gave Pope Francis writings by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Real winner of 2017 Senior PGA Championship? Trump

President Trump’s golf club outside Washington will host the Senior PGA Championship this weekend, and the honor doesn’t come cheap: The Trump Organization spent millions getting the course ready.

But the president could still come out ahead.

Hosting a marquee event like the senior championship provides a huge lift in brand exposure. Big names like Rocco Mediate and Bernhard Langer will negotiate Trump bunkers and Trump fairways. The Golf Channel and NBC will broadcast pictures of manicured Trump greens around the world.

And it’s always possible that the president himself, who returns Saturday from his first overseas trip, will show up. After all, he’s visited a Trump-brand property almost every weekend he’s been in office. The White House did not return a request for comment.

For a private club like Trump National, hosting a major tournament adds prestige, which can be used later to justify raising greens fees and the cost of membership.

That is money that ultimately accrues to the president himself, who has turned over management of his business to his sons but refused to sell his holdings while he is in office.

“Even if he doesn’t show up and doesn’t tweet about it, you have this problem of the Trump brand being intermixed with him being president,” said Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

“He’s using the White House to promote his own financial interests,” Noble said. “Being president is a marketing opportunity for him.”

The course didn’t return requests for comment. The Washington Business Journal reported in 2015 that Trump National charged $100,000 to join, plus a monthly fee of $698.

Trump bought the former Lowes Island Club in 2009. The PGA awarded the tournament to Trump National in May 2014.

Since Trump took over, workers have cut down hundreds of trees to clear the way for breathtaking views of the Potomac River. (Between the 14th and 15th holes, the course also features a monument to a Civil War battle that historians say simply never happened.)

“This is a very special property,” Trump said in June 2015, right after he announced for president. “I bought it six years ago, at the height of the bad market, the world was collapsing, and I saw something that was very special.”

Hosting an event like the Senior PGA Championship is a big honor, but it’s a big undertaking.

The PGA typically takes care of expenses like the construction of grandstands and hospitality suites for the championship. And most of the workers during the event are volunteers.

Each year about 1,700 people sign up with the PGA to help out as course marshals, coordinate transportation and take care of guests.

But the course itself must be camera ready, and the Trump Organization spent a reported $25 million on renovations.

Golfers will tee off Thursday on the Championship Course, advertised by the club as a Donald J. Trump Signature Course, “built specifically for world-class golf,” with rough composed of fescue, ryegrass and bluegrass.

Eric Trump, who along with his brother has been placed in charge of their father’s business interests while he serves as president, promoted the tournament this week on Twitter.

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Ross Smith, general manager and director of golf at Harbor Shores, a course in Michigan that has hosted the senior championship three times, said the exposure is invaluable.

“We can’t put a marketing dollar on it,” he said. “Everybody that comes here says they came because they saw the Senior PGA Championship being played here.”

Harbor Shores is a public golf club, but people come from as far away as Japan because they saw the tournament on TV, Smith said.

“We know by survey work we do that we bring golfers here by hosting the championship,” said Jeff Noel, the president of Harbor Shores. “They see that it’s aesthetically pleasing, they see the waterfront on TV coverage. It renews interest in our course, and people will visit and spend money.”

The club pockets a share of ticket sales and hospitality suite rentals, according to Noel, but he stressed that’s nothing compared with what a course has to invest to host a big event.

“It’s not a boon to the golf course or the Trump name. It’s not a financial windfall,” Noel said. “There’s risk. The Trump Organization cannot afford to host this tournament without investing resources to make it prestigious and have it be to a certain standard. The hosting course spends more than it gets back.”

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Judge sentences man who raped sister to probation, citing ‘stigma’

A 20-year-old California man who pleaded guilty to raping his drugged younger sister was granted probation and is expected to serve just four months in jail, a sentence that the prosecutor says is worse than that given to Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.

The convicted man, of Crescent City, gave his 16-year-old sister high-potency marijuana “dabs” and repeatedly asked her to have sex, according to a criminal complaint. She said no several times until she became so “out of it” that she no longer recognized him as her brother, the complaint states.

CNN does not identify victims of rape, and given the victim’s relationship to the perpetrator, CNN is not identifying him. The man pleaded guilty to rape of a drugged person.

Prosecutors had asked for the defendant to receive six years in prison. A probation report said he “showed no real remorse and seemed smug” in his interview and recommended he not receive probation.

However, Judge William H. Follett said that the “stigma” of the conviction and sex offender registration were enough to deter him and others in the community, District Attorney Dale P. Trigg said.

Follett on May 17 sentenced the man to three years in prison, the lower term of sentencing options, and granted him probation, according to the Del Norte County district attorney’s office. The judge then sentenced him to 240 days in county jail at half time.

In all, that means the convicted man could serve a total of 120 days in jail, with no time in prison, Trigg said.

Brock Turner comparison

Trigg likened the light sentence to the case of Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman.

In that case, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, citing his young age and his lack of criminal record as reasons for the lenient sentence. Turner was released from jail after three months and registered as a sex offender for life.

Persky faced widespread criticism for the sentence, and more than 1.3 million people signed a petition calling for his removal from the bench. California legislators passed a bill mandating prison sentences for people who sexually assault unconscious or intoxicated victims.

In the Del Norte County case, the incident occurred prior to that law change, so it did not apply, according to Sandra Linderman, court executive officer for Del Norte Superior Court.

Judge Follett said that he felt the defendant was sorry and that rehabilitation was the key factor in his decision to grant probation, according to Trigg. The judge also noted that the victim took her own clothes off and was not unconscious, Trigg said.

“That to me is way out of line, because you’re blaming the victim,” Trigg said.

In all, the district attorney said the case was even worse than Turner’s crime.

“In a lot of ways, this case is more egregious than Brock Turner. This defendant took advantage of a position of trust as this victim’s big brother,” Trigg said. “He knew she didn’t want to have sex with him. She told him that repeatedly. So he got her stoned on dabs he gave her until she didn’t even recognize him in order get what he wanted.”

Trigg added that he “could not disagree more” with the ruling.

“The message that this sends to our community is that sexual predators who get their juvenile siblings stoned enough can have sex with them without any meaningful consequence,” he said. “That is not the message I want to send to our community.”

Linderman said judicial ethics do not allow her or Follett to speak on the case.

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Muslim man and Jewish woman pray together at Manchester memorial

The moment a Muslim man and an elderly Jewish woman prayed together at a makeshift memorial in Manchester two days after Monday night’s concert attack has captured people’s attention.

Renee Rachel Black who is Jewish and Sadiq Patel, a Muslim, traveled together to Manchester from Blackburn to pay their joint respects to the 22 people who lost their lives in Monday’s terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert.

Both Patel and Black are members of the Blackburn Darwen Interfaith Forum, an organization which was launched in December 1999 according to its website.

As Black began to cry, Patel comforted her; “What can you say?” Black said when asked about her reaction to the terror attack.

Black, who describes herself as one of the few remaining Jewish people in Blackburn, said she considers Patel “a very good friend.”

Earlier Wednesday, Amber Rudd, the British Home Secretary, said the 22-year-old behind the deadly bombing was known to security services. Police named him as Salman Abedi, a British-born national of Libyan descent.

Community comes together

On Tuesday evening, hundreds attended a vigil outside Manchester City Hall in honor of the victims.

“We will stand together to say that this city is greater than the force that aligns itself against it,” David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, told the crowd.

“We are sending a signal not just to Manchester, but across the world that you can not defeat us because love in the end is always stronger than hate.”

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2 addiction counselors at halfway house die of drug overdose

Authorities say two addiction counselors at a suburban Philadelphia halfway house have died of opioid overdoses.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan says, “If anybody is wondering how bad the opioid epidemic has become, this case is a frightening example.”

Emergency responders were called to Freedom Ridge Recovery Lodge on Sunday after residents found the counselors unresponsive in separate bedrooms.

Residents tried to revive one of the counselors with naloxone but were unsuccessful and called 911.

The men lived at the home as on-site counselors with six male residents. Police say their duties included organizing daily activities and keeping medications under lock-and-key.

They died at the scene.

Baggies stamped with a Superman logo and “danger” logo were found in their rooms and tested positive for heroin and fentanyl.

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