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Storm closes I-80; Amtrak blocked by avalanche

RENO (AP) — Interstate 80 was closed through the Sierra and Amtrak passenger train service between Reno and Sacramento may remain suspended until Friday because of a fierce winter storm.

Service on the California Zephyr was suspended Tuesday after an avalanche sent snow onto the Union Pacific tracks in the mountains west of Truckee, California where more than 4 feet of snow has fallen over the last two days.

Heavy snow and high winds closed a 70-mile stretch of I-80 from Colfax, California to the California-Nevada line just west of Reno.

The Mount Rose Highway connecting Reno to Lake Tahoe also was closed Wednesday.

A winter storm warning remained in effect until 4 a.m. Thursday for the Lake Tahoe area. The National Weather Service said another 8 to 16 inches of snow was forecast Wednesday night above 7,000 feet.

The weather service reported wind gusts up to 114 mph late Tuesday at the summit of Alpine Meadows ski resort north of Tahoe.

The Elko area was not under any advisories as of Wednesday evening, but the weather service predicts a 60 percent chance of rain and snow Thursday.

The chance of showers will continue into the weekend across northeastern Nevada as highs drop back to the lower 40s.

Elko County ranch once owned by Bing Crosby for sale

ELKO — A ranch in Elko County once belonging to the late singer, actor and honorary Elko mayor Bing Crosby is on the market for $7.28 million.

The Lawson Ranch 45 miles north of Elko was one of Crosby’s ranches in Elko County in the 1940s and 1950s. He was named honorary mayor in 1948. Crosby, who an Academy Award for the 1944 movie “Going My Way,” died in 1977 at age 74.

Northeastern Nevada Museum still has his denim tuxedo, said Toni Mendive, museum archivist.

She said her late husband, Raymond Mendive, used to ride with Crosby on national forest land near the PX Ranch on the North Fork River that Crosby also owned.

“It was a place for his boys to come and experience something outside Hollywood,” Toni Mendive said on Feb. 20.

Crosby, maybe best known for the song and movie “White Christmas,” at one time owned the Quarter Circle S Ranch near Tuscarora, and the ranch’s current owner, Sharon Rhoads, knew Crosby when she was a young girl.

“He and my dad were good friends. He was a very nice man,” she said on Feb. 20. Her late father was Willis Packer.

Crosby was treated like a local when he came to town, and he appreciated his acceptance by the people of Elko, according to a 2003 history written by the late Howard Hickson, a former Northeastern Nevada Museum director.

The late Mayor Dave Dotta’s proclamation naming Crosby as honorary mayor stated that Crosby would “serve ad infinitum.” In other words, the honor continued until his death of a heart attack in Spain, Hickson wrote.

Lawson Ranch

The Lawson Ranch is one of two in Elko County that California Outdoor Properties has listed, according to sales agent Todd Renfrew. The other is the Independence Valley Farm and Ranch in the Wells area, a much larger spread than the Lawson Ranch. Both ranches are owned by Jim Boyer.

Boyer is a Lake Tahoe-based retired telecom entrepreneur, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Lawson Ranch has nearly 3,000 deeded acres, a private airstrip and an airplane hangar, a nearly 5,000-square-foot main residence with five bedrooms and five baths, three additional houses and barns, according to the listing provided by Renfrew. The main residence was renovated as a bed and breakfast.

Lawson Ranch also is a working ranch, currently running 600 or more pairs of all export Angus beef, and it features some of the oldest water rights in Nevada, the real estate brochure states.

“The old homestead house from the 1860s is still on the property,” Renfrew said.

The ranch can be reached by traveling north on Mountain City Highway for 40 miles, then heading west for six miles, the listing says.

Independence ranch

The Independence Valley Farm and Ranch is nearly 50,000 deeded acres and borders the Winecup Gamble Ranch, Renfrew said. The ranch also is near Newmont Mining Corp.’s Long Canyon Mine and the listing states that it has mineral potential and geothermal potential.

The Mustang Monument ranch owned by Madeleine Pickens is to the east of the property.

The ranch also has 100,000 acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management grazing allotments, and there are roughly 1,250 head of mother cows on the ranch through a third-party lease.

Independence Valley Farm and Ranch is a combination of properties and includes improvements ranging from fencing and irrigation pivots to extending power, Renfrew said.

The ranch along Interstate 80 has a farm headquarters with five homes, barns, corrals, livestock handling and shipping facilities, a private airstrip and water resources that include springs, seasonal streams and wetland marshes.

Renfrew said the asking price for Independence Valley Farm and Ranch is only being disclosed to potential buyers. He can be reached at 707-455-4444.

Cohen assails Trump before Congress

WASHINGTON — In a damning depiction of Donald Trump, the president’s former lawyer on Wednesday cast him as a racist and a con man who used his inner circle to cover up politically damaging allegations about sex, and who lied throughout the 2016 election campaign about his business interests in Russia.

Michael Cohen, who previously pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, told lawmakers that Trump had advance knowledge and embraced the news that emails damaging to Hillary Clinton would be released during the campaign. But he also said he had no “direct evidence” that Trump or his aides colluded with Russia to get him elected, the primary question of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Cohen, shaking off incessant criticism from Republicans anxious to paint him as a felon and liar, became the first Trump insider to pull back the curtain on a version of the inner workings of Trump’s political and business operations. He likened the president to a “mobster” who demanded blind loyalty from underlings and expected them to lie on his behalf to conceal information and protect him — even if it meant breaking the law.

“I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore,” Cohen declared.

“My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything: my family’s happiness, friendships, my law license, my company, my livelihood, my honor, my reputation, and soon my freedom,” Cohen said. “I will not sit back say nothing and allow him to do the same to the country.”

Cohen’s matter-of-fact testimony about secret payments and lies unfolded as Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. At a Vietnam hotel and unable to ignore the drama thousands of miles away, Trump lashed out on Twitter, saying Cohen “did bad things unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

In testimony that cut to the heart of federal investigations encircling the White House, Cohen said he arranged a hush money payment to a porn actress at the president’s behest and agreed to lie about it to the public and the first lady. He said he had lied by claiming that Trump was “not knowledgeable” about the transaction even though the president had directly arranged for his reimbursement. And he said he was left with the unmistakable impression Trump wanted him to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate project, though the president never directly told him so.

In one revelation, Cohen said prosecutors in New York were investigating conversations Trump or his advisers had with him after his office and hotel room were raided by the FBI last April. Cohen said he could not discuss that conversation, the last contact he said he has had with the president or anyone acting on his behalf, because it remains under investigation.

The appearance marked the latest step in Cohen’s evolution from legal fixer for the president — he once boasted he’d “take a bullet” for Trump — to a foe who has implicated him in federal campaign finance violations. The hearing proceeded along parallel tracks, with Democrats focusing on allegations against Trump while Republicans sought to undermine Cohen’s credibility and the proceeding itself.

As Republicans blasted him as a convicted liar, a mostly unrattled Cohen sought to blunt the attacks by repeatedly acknowledging his own failings. He called himself a “fool,” warned lawmakers of the perils of blind loyalty to a leader undeserving of it and pronounced himself ashamed of what he’d done to protect Trump.

Cohen is due to begin a three-year prison sentence in May, and described himself as cooperative with multiple investigations in hopes of reducing his time behind bars. He is seen as a vital witness for federal prosecutors because of his proximity to the president during key episodes under investigation and their decade-long professional relationship.

Cohen gave lawmakers his first-person account of how he arranged to buy the silence of a porn actress and a Playboy model who said they had sex with Trump. He described a February 2017 conversation with Trump in the Oval Office in which the president reassured him that reimbursement checks sent through Federal Express were coming but would take some time to get through the White House system.

In an allegation relating to Mueller’s probe, Cohen said he overheard Trump confidant Roger Stone telling the candidate in the summer of 2016 that WikiLeaks would dump damaging information about Clinton.

Trump put Stone on speakerphone as Stone relayed that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that “within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Cohen said. Damaging emails U.S. officials say were hacked by Russia were later released by WikiLeaks.

Trump responded by saying “wouldn’t that be great,” Cohen said.

Stone disputed that account Wednesday, and Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, said Stone and Assange did not have the telephone call that Cohen described.

Cohen’s claims that Trump had advance knowledge of the emails contradict the president’s assertions that he was in the dark, and it is not clear how legally problematic that could be for Trump anyway. Mueller has not suggested that mere awareness of WikiLeaks’ plans, as Stone is purported to have had, is by itself a crime.