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Chris Wallace Hits Donald Trump With Blunt Fact-Check On Mail-In Ballot Fraud Claims



Fox News host Chris Wallace risked drawing the ire of Donald Trump yet again on Friday after he debunked the president’s false claims on mail-in voter fraud.

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric against mail-in voting in recent weeks, at one point even threatening to withhold federal funds from Nevada and Michigan if they went ahead with sending applications to voters.

That’s despite Trump himself voting by mail in Florida’s GOP primary in March.

Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” fact-checked the president’s claims on Friday’s broadcast of “America’s Newsroom.”

“Well, you know, I’ve done some deep dive into it, there really is no record of massive fraud or even serious fraud from mail-in voting,” he said.

Check out the video here:

“It’s being carried out in Republican states. It’s being carried out in Democratic states,” Wallace continued. “There’s no indication that mail-in voting, as opposed to in-person voting, tends to favor one party over another.”

Wallace noted how “if anything, it tends to favor Republicans” because “the people, now we’re talking about outside a pandemic, who historically have tended to vote most often by mail are elderly people, people over 65, and they tend to vote more Republican than Democratic.”

“Have there been some cases? Yes,” Wallace acknowledged, also citing the potential problem of vote harvesting. “But when people get their ballots and mail them in themselves, no history of fraud at all,” he said.

Trump has also falsely claimed on multiple occasions that up to 5 million votes were illegally cast in the 2016 presidential election. He lost the popular vote to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.

Wallace’s fact-checking of Trump came amid an escalation in tensions between the president and Fox News, whose primetime hosts, in particular, have been widely accused of being a propaganda vehicle for the Trump administration.

Trump lashed out at the widely watched conservative network earlier this week after anchor Neil Cavuto slammed the president’s claim about taking the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against the coronavirus.

“Many will disagree, but @FoxNews is doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd,” Trump tweeted Thursday.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

 





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Mexican president claims rivals would take over if he self-isolated, as experts decry coronavirus response


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Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has remained steadfast against sweeping restriction measures that could help the spread of the coronavirus in his country.

This weekend, he balked at the idea of self-isolating, claiming that his rivals would use that time to overpower him politically and take control of the government.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
(AP)

“Do you know what the conservatives want? For me to isolate myself (but) there would be no leadership (of the country) or there would be their leadership because in politics there are no power vacuums – the voids are filled and that’s what they want, for there to be a vacuum so that they can take control … in an irresponsible way,” he said Sunday, according to the Mexico Daily News.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The 66-year-old president has sparked a furor in recent weeks for not imposing stricter measures against COVID-19 and hugging followers and saying religious medals would protect him.

He flew commercial to the western state of Sinaloa on Sunday, where he shook hands with residents, including the mother of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera.

“Coronavirus isn’t the plague,’’ the president declared in a video message on social media.

“Those of us who have an important function, a basic one, can go out to the street and work. … You can’t close a tortilla shop, doctors and nurses have to keep working, the police [too] so that there are no robberies,” he said.

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has only just started taking tougher measures, including late Monday night banning non-essential work in the public sector and gatherings of more than 50 people.

As of Wednesday morning, Mexico had reported more than 1,200 confirmed cases and at least 27 deaths.

MEXICO’S LÓPEZ OBRADOR SHAKES HANDS WITH MOTHER OF ‘EL CHAPO’ DESPITE CORONAVIRUS WARNINGS, VIDEO SHOWS

Some experts warn the sprawling country of 129 million is acting too late and that the government figures likely underestimate the true number of infections.

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish "Stay home" in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of "non-essential activities," and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish “Stay home” in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non-essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has done far less testing than many other countries — around 10,000 tests. New York state alone had performed more than 205,000 tests by Tuesday. There were also signs the disease may be far more advanced in Mexico than the limited testing shows. Three state governors have already tested positive for coronavirus.

“Politics is very, very much involved in the decision-making going on right now,” said Janine Ramsey, an infectious disease expert who works for Mexico’s National Public Health Institute, a federal research agency, and has spent 35 years of her public health career in Mexico.

“Mexico, politically, does not value scientific evidence. Why? Because it takes decision-making away from the politicians,” Ramsey said.

The Mexican government has defended its policies, saying that its robust health surveillance system gives it a good idea of how the epidemic is evolving and that health experts are charting the country’s fight against the virus. Its focus now, it says, is keeping people at home to avoid a rapid spread that would quickly overwhelm the health care system.

“For most of us, especially those of us who work with infectious pathogens, there is absolutely no excuse not to test because you cannot predict a) the response, b) the velocity of transmission, or c) the vulnerability of people” to becoming infected or to infecting others, she said.

“February and March is when we should have been testing everybody.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

But many are taking their cues from the president himself, who had this to say at a news conference Tuesday: “Soon, very soon there’s going to be the day of hugs and kisses in all the public plazas.”

“We’re going to hug because we’re going to overcome this coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis and the social welfare crisis,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Apprentice star Lottie Lion, 20, claims infamous Ghandi text was ‘taken out of context’


When she was told that she’d been selected to take part in the latest series of The Apprentice earlier this year, the then 19-year-old Lottie Lion had a pretty shrewd idea of what her role on the show might be.

‘I was going to be the young, posh, clever one,’ she recalls. ‘And it was a role I was happy to play.’

The very self-confident teenager — she only turned 20 last week and is the second youngest contestant in the series’ 14-year history — certainly lived up to the billing.

Lottie Lion was the second youngest contestant in the series’ 14-year history and she certainly lived up to the billing

Lottie Lion was the second youngest contestant in the series’ 14-year history and she certainly lived up to the billing

There was a cut-glass accent, a business plan targeting the huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ set and a razor-sharp mind that prompted even Lord Sugar to acknowledge she was ‘a bright girl’, before qualifying the rare compliment by comparing her to a ‘fine wine bouquet’, i.e. she ‘gets up everyone’s nose’.

Perhaps not quite everyone’s — but there’s no doubt Lottie immediately proved a Marmite character, with some viewers applauding her take-no-prisoners confidence and others accusing her of being a fame-hungry narcissist.

There is another role, however, that Devon-based Lottie — who left the show on Wednesday night after losing out in the notoriously tough semi-finals ‘interview’ round — believes was also cynically allocated to her by the producers of The Apprentice. One she says she was unprepared for: that of the series villain.

‘I was going to be the young, posh, clever one,’ she recalls. ‘And it was a role I was happy to play.’ Pictured Lottie on The Apprentice

‘I was going to be the young, posh, clever one,’ she recalls. ‘And it was a role I was happy to play.’ Pictured Lottie on The Apprentice

Apprentice contestant Lubna Farhan

Apprentice contestant Lubna Farhan

And not just any old villain either: a racist one at that (she told a fellow Apprentice contestant, whose parents hail from Pakistan, to ‘Shut up Gandhi’). It’s an accusation that, as she says in her first, full blistering interview, was not only unfair but untrue.

The quote — which became public in October — was taken out of context, Lottie says. It was made in a private WhatsApp conversation after the recording of the show had stopped, and Lottie believes that this, together with the ‘cynical editing’ of her footage in the show, has led her to become a hate figure.

She’s been trolled on social media, spat at in the street, verbally abused in wine bars, and has been sent links to websites showing ways to end your life. She’s even had to report two death threats to police.

‘I have had people abusing my looks, my character, threatening to beat me up, everything,’ she says. ‘The judgment the public has made of me from ten hours of edited footage has been savage. I know I am a forthright character and not everyone likes that so I expected some negative criticism, but it is the level of it that I wasn’t prepared for.

‘It has been much worse than anything I could have imagined. Whatever The Apprentice say about caring for the people on their show, they have effectively abandoned me. I just feel they don’t care at all. They got their viewing figures, a show they can sell around the world and that’s all that matters.’

From left to right: Lottie Lion, Jemelin Artigas, Lubna Farhan, Carina Lepore have a disagreement in South Africa

From left to right: Lottie Lion, Jemelin Artigas, Lubna Farhan, Carina Lepore have a disagreement in South Africa 

The personal fallout, meanwhile, has been immense. ‘I’ve watched myself on TV and I don’t like myself either — and that’s a very toxic thing to go through. I have cried myself to sleep a lot,’ she says.

‘They have ruined my confidence. I feel like it is going to take a while to get the old me back.’

Her story certainly serves as a timely warning to anyone who is contemplating signing up for their 15 minutes of fame on a reality TV show — a potent reminder of the pitfalls of exposing yourself to the blowtorch of hatred that finds its home on social media.

It is a formula that even the most self-assured person would struggle to cope with — and Lottie is certainly that. When we meet, she is calm, measured and personable, although clearly wounded from recent experience.

She is also, we have to remind ourselves, very young — only just an adult, albeit one with a lot more life experience than most people her age. As she reveals for the first time today, she moved out of home at 16, has lived independently since then and is effectively estranged from both of her parents.

Yet she had a happy childhood at first. The daughter of Dominique Lion, a Belgian-born businessman, and Stephanie Blackmore, a former desk officer at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who is now an estate agent, Charlotte Lion grew up in a cottage outside Barnstaple in Devon with what she admits was a ‘beautiful lifestyle’ of winter skiing and summer holidays.

That all changed when Lottie was 12 and her father, in her words, ‘disappeared’. ‘I don’t want to go into the details, but when he left it all came crashing down,’ she says.

Following her parents’ divorce, Lottie moved with her mum to a remote farm near Morebath, close to her maternal grandparents Bruce and Rita, to whom she remains close. A Saturday job on a local country estate introduced her to the country club world of hunting and shooting — and proved the kernel of her subsequent Apprentice business idea, an elite country club exclusively for women.

‘I’ve always had ideas — I set up a car washing business at the age of 12,’ she recalls. By the time Lottie was 16, however, relations at home had deteriorated to the extent she decided to move out. ‘I really didn’t get on with my stepdad and I wanted freedom. Mum and I were arguing a lot — I am sure I was a nightmare to live with too but I just had to get away,’ she says.

And so Lottie moved into a flat on her own, working evenings and weekends as a waitress while also studying for her A-levels.

It can’t have been easy. ‘It wasn’t,’ she says. ‘I struggled even to get a flat — I had to work really hard to persuade my landlord that I was a good bet. I worked 40 hours a week while also studying.’

By 18, deciding to eschew university, Lottie moved to Taunton and got a job in the local school library — a job she describes, in rather grandiose Apprentice-style language, as ‘secondary education consultant’ on her LinkedIn page — although she says she also gave speech and language classes to the local students.

It wasn’t all work and no play though: Lottie also seems to have acquired a taste for spa breaks, days at the races, expensive cars, drinks and shoes, all showcased on countless pouting Instagram posts featuring glasses of champagne and Louis Vuitton bags.

That is a lot of lifestyle on waitress money — how on earth did she afford it?

‘I also did some modelling work which was pretty well paid and I organised parties, too. I juggled a lot of plates basically,’ she says. ‘That’s one of the things that makes me sad about what has happened — that people won’t give me credit for how far I have come. I have worked really hard.

‘If the flip side of that is being confident, then I am not going to apologise for that.’

Again, one must remind oneself that Lottie is only just 20 — something that will have caught the eye of researchers for The Apprentice, who no doubt gobbled up the forthright Lottie’s application in which she described herself as a ‘very cut-throat person’ who brings ‘class’ to everything she does.

This, of course, is entirely in keeping with the show’s general thrust: no series of The Apprentice is complete without candidates jostling for the limelight and making a series of laughably supercharged claims about their abilities and talents.

Indeed, it is encouraged, says Lottie. ‘When I was doing my recorded interview the team say, “Give us your cheesiest lines.” They encourage you to say things like, “I’m the best of the best.” But that’s fine, it’s a game,’ she says.

‘The way I saw it there were not a lot of opportunities in my area. This was a way of getting my business idea out there. It was a no brainer to try to apply.’

Filming took place between April and June, and Lottie insists that generally she got along with her fellow candidates, particularly ‘luxury womenswear consultant’ Ryan-Mark Parsons and risk management consultant Marianne Rawlins.

She shared a room with semi-finalists Pamela Laird, a beauty brand owner, Carina Lepore, an artisan bakery owner, as well as account manager Iasha Masood — and says they all got on well.

‘Honestly the main argument was about Pamela’s amazing hair clogging up the sink,’ she says.

All seemed well, in fact, until a chat which took place on the candidates’ WhatsApp group in August — long after filming had finished — was made public in October, when the show was on TV.

In it, Lottie writes ‘Shut Up Gandhi’ to fellow contestant, account manager Lubna Farhan — who was one of the first to be voted off the show.

It left Lottie mired in accusations of racism and the series producers fighting off echoes of the now notorious 2007 Channel 4 Celebrity Big Brother episode in which the late reality star Jade Goody referred to Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty as ‘Shilpa Poppadom’. Yet it’s an entirely unfair comparison, insists Lottie.

The 20-year-old insists she wasn’t making a comment about race but was responding to what she believed was a quote by the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, which read, ‘sometimes people with a character are characterless’ — posted by Farhan.

‘I said, “Shut up Gandhi, that doesn’t make any sense!” directly relating to the quote. Everyone laughed and that was that,’ she says. ‘I even had some separate friendly communication with her [Lubna Farhan] afterwards. The next thing I know, a few weeks later, I read that I have made a racist comment.’

There is no doubt that there was bad blood between the two, with Lottie also writing: ‘I f****** swear if you disrespect me again I will f*** you up,’ in another post.

‘Lubna had been winding me up,’ she says now. ‘But I shouldn’t have got into an argument.’

Either way, at least four of the contestants complained to Boundless, the production company that makes The Apprentice, which, after an investigation, reprimanded Ms Lion’s ‘unacceptable behaviour’.

‘I have a recording of that meeting,’ she says. ‘They told me they were fully aware I wasn’t racist, but because Lubna was hurt they had to do something.

‘So they knew I had been misconstrued and were happy to see me branded a racist in public.

‘But the reality is that all a future employer will now see if they put my name into Google is “race row”.’

The show’s producers also told her she could not appear on ‘You’re Fired’ — the spin-off show in which former contestants chat to a panel about their experience — and that she would not receive the £1,000 fee given at the end of the process to candidates who fulfil the terms of their contract. ‘They effectively washed their hands of me,’ she says.

By this stage, of course, The Apprentice was on air and Lottie was more than aware of her public presence. ‘I knew from the very first episode what the producers of The Apprentice had decided to do with me,’ she says.

‘As the series went on, it felt like they even deliberately edited it so I looked like a bad guy. It was incredibly upsetting — this huge wave of disappointment washed over me.’

A spokesperson from The Apprentice says: ‘Every show is a fair and balanced representation of events. We have a thorough and robust duty of care protocol. It is not the case that the production has abandoned Lottie. The production team has repeatedly offered her various forms of support which she has failed to respond to.

‘The negative Press coverage stemmed from Lottie’s language to another candidate, not the actions of the production.’

There are some, of course, who would say that it is all fair game —that once you sign up for a reality TV show you have to take whatever comes your way. ‘People have to be reminded that just because I have decided to put myself out there on television doesn’t mean I’m not human,’ says Lottie. ‘There’s criticism and then there’s abuse.

‘The sad thing is that generally I really enjoyed the process — but the aftermath has been horrible.’

This week, that process came to an on-screen end, when Lottie’s business plan for her ‘socially elite’ country club floundered in the face of a lack of detailed figures. It left finalists Carina and recruitment company owner Scarlett Allen Horton, 32, to battle it out for Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment.

Lottie was, at least, afforded a gracious exit. ‘It didn’t show this on-screen, but Lord Sugar told me that he felt I had taken part in the process five years too early and I think he was right,’ she says.

Little chance of her going back for more, of course — those bridges are well and truly burned. Instead, she is trying to focus on moving forward with her business plan — and focusing on the positive. ‘Love it or loathe it, the Lottie Lion brand is pretty well known now,’ she says.

Few could argue with that. The pertinent question might be — at what price?



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‘It’s not the right word to use’ – Patrick Reed denies claims of cheating



Patrick Reed of the United States reacts during the Hero World Challenge in Nassau, Bahamas. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Patrick Reed of the United States reacts during the Hero World Challenge in Nassau, Bahamas. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

American golfer Patrick Reed has denied cheating in a tournament last week and hit out at International team players for saying he had, as a little edge entered proceedings on Tuesday ahead of the Presidents Cup.

Reed received a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie when he moved sand with his practice swing on Friday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The incident has dominated the run up to the biennial contest, which begins on Thursday.

Cameron Smith was quoted in Australian media as saying Reed had been “cheating the rules” and some of his international team-mates said the American had exposed himself to some flak from the crowd through his actions.

Former Masters champion Reed fired back at a news conference on Tuesday, saying “cheat” was inaccurate because he had not seen the sand move and the officials concurred that he inadvertently improved his lie.

“It’s not the right word to use,” he said. “If you do something unintentionally that breaks the rules, it’s not considered cheating…

“If you’re intentionally trying to do something, that would be considered cheating, but I wasn’t intentionally trying to improve a lie or anything like that…

“It’s just wrong, it’s just not right.”

United States captain Tiger Woods on Monday said he had spoken to Reed about the incident and was keen to draw a line under it as he looked to extend the Americans’ seven-match winning streak at the Presidents Cup.

The 15-times major champion sank the winning putt the time the contest was last held at Royal Melbourne in 2011, when the Australian crowd was criticized by some Internationals for being over-awed by the Americans.

Reed suspected the row was being used by the Internationals to ensure that did not happen again.

“Of course they are going to speak out, because they want to get their crowds going and get on their side. That’s the name of the game,” he said.

Reed said he hoped any banter with the crowd remained respectful and that the row over his violation had made him more determined to win.

“It goes from wanting to beat those guys to it now turning personal, so it’s going to be a fun week,” he said.

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Concierge claims self-defense, affair with victim


Closing arguments began Monday in the murder trial of a former concierge who claimed self-defense in the slaying of two Boston physicians found stabbed to death in their penthouse condominium.

Bampumim Teixeira, 33, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, armed robbery and kidnapping in the deaths of anesthesiologists Richard Field, 49, and Lina Bolanos, 38, in May 2017.

In his statement to police played in court Friday, Teixeira said that he was having an affair with Bolanos and that Field killed Bolanos in a rage after finding them together. Teixeira said he killed Field in self-defense.

Prosecutor John Pappas called Teixeira’s explanation “preposterous,” maintaining that Teixeira robbed and killed the engaged couple.

The prosecution presented its case over two weeks. Teixeira did not testify, and defense attorney Steve Sack presented no witnesses. Sack consistently maintained that the prosecution failed to prove its case.

Bolanos and Field made multiple, inaudible 911 calls that confused dispatchers who disconnected the calls. Field finally sent garbled texts to a friend, Matthias Heidenreich: “Call 111. Gun man. In house. Pls. Nw. Eriou. Erious. Serious.”

‘Payback’ scrawled on the walls: Boston doctors were stabbed to death

Heidenreich didn’t see the texts until about 30 minutes later. Heidenreich testified that he called the building’s front desk. Police were called to the scene, and officer Scott MacIsaac said he shot Teixeira because the suspect appeared to be holding a gun.



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Trump says Kim Jong Un risks losing ‘everything’ after North Korea claims major test


WASHINGTON/SEOUL, Dec 8 (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing “everything” if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a “successful test of great significance.”

“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

“He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November,” he said.

North Korea’s state media KCNA reported earlier on Sunday that it had carried out a “very important” test at its Sohae satellite launch site, a rocket-testing ground that U.S. officials once said North Korea had promised to close.

The reported test comes ahead of a year-end deadline North Korea has imposed for the United States to drop its insistence on unilateral denuclearization. Pyongyang has warned it could take a “new path” amid the stalled talks with the United States.

“North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised,” Trump said on Twitter.

The KCNA report called it a “successful test of great significance” but did not specify what was tested.

This could be a very credible signal of what might await the world after the New Year.

Missile experts said it appeared likely the North Koreans had conducted a static test of a rocket engine, rather than a missile launch.

“If it is indeed a static engine test for a new solid or liquid fuel missile, it is yet another loud signal that the door for diplomacy is quickly slamming, if it isn’t already,” said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

“This could be a very credible signal of what might await the world after the New Year.”

Tensions have risen ahead of a year-end deadline set by North Korea, which has called on the United States to change its policy of insisting on Pyongyang’s unilateral denuclearization and demanded relief from punishing sanctions.

On Saturday North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said denuclearization was now off the negotiating table with the United States and lengthy talks with Washington are not needed.

“The results of the recent important test will have an important effect on changing the strategic position of the DPRK once again in the near future,” KCNA reported, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Asked in a CBS “Face the Nation” interview if North Korea might be preparing to resume nuclear tests, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that “would be a mistake on the part of North Korea.”

Pyongyang’s last nuclear test, its sixth and most powerful, took place in September 2017.


In this file photo taken on June 12, 2018 US President Donald Trump (R) meets with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) at the start of their US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore. – The United States said September 11, 2019 it was encouraged by North Korea’s stated willingness to resume negotiations but criticized its latest firing of projectiles as counterproductive.

SAUL LOEB / AFP)SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“It doesn’t end well for them if they do.. If North Korea takes a different path than the one it’s promised… we’ve got plenty of tools in the toolkit,” O’Brien said on Sunday.

Recent days have also seen a return to the highly charged rhetoric that raised fears of war two years ago.

In 2017, Trump and Kim famously engaged in a war of words, with Trump calling Kim “Rocket Man” and North Korea calling Trump, now 73, a “dotard.”

On Tuesday, Trump once again called Kim “Rocket Man” and said the United States reserved the right to use military force against North Korea. Pyongyang, in response, said any repeat of such language would represent “the relapse of the dotage of a dotard.”

The test is the latest in a string of statements and actions from North Korea designed to underscore the seriousness of its year-end deadline.

North Korea has announced it would convene a rare gathering of top ruling-party officials later this month, and on Wednesday state media showed photos of Kim taking a second symbolic horse ride on the country’s sacred Mt. Paektu.

Such meetings and propaganda blitzes often come ahead of major announcements from North Korean authorities.

While North Korea has not specified what its “new path” could be, observers have suggested the launch of a space satellite is a possibility, allowing Pyongyang to demonstrate and test its rocket capabilities without resorting to overt military provocation such as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.

Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean Navy officer who teaches at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said North Korea may have tested a solid fuel rocket engine, which could allow North Korea to field ICBMs that are easier to hide and faster to deploy.

“North Korea has already entered the ‘new path’ that they talked about,” he said.

Trump told reporters in June 2018 after his first summit with Kim that North Korea had pledged to dismantle one of its missile installations, which U.S. officials later identified as Sohae.

Shortly after that summit, analysts said satellite imagery showed some key facilities at Sohae being dismantled.

However, in the wake of the second summit between Trump and Kim earlier this year, which ended with no agreement, new imagery indicated the North Koreans were rebuilding the site.

“Remember this is at the site that was supposedly dismantled as a ‘denuclearization step,’” Narang said. “So this is a first step at ‘renuclearizing.’ Reversible steps are being…reversed.”





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North Korea claims to have conducted rocket test



A spokesman for North Korea’s Academy of National Defense Science said the test was carried out Saturday at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, a site near the Chinese border that has been used to launch satellites into space in the past. The United Nations bans North Korea from launching satellites, viewing it as a cover for testing ballistic missile technology.

President Trump earlier said he had persuaded North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to close the site when the pair met in Singapore in June 2018. When evidence emerged that North Korea was rebuilding the site, Trump said in March that he would be “very, very disappointed” with Kim if that proved to be the case but that he didn’t believe it would be.

On Sunday, he again expressed confidence that Kim would not betray their agreement, but he also made an implicit threat to the North Korean leader.

“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November. North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised. NATO, China, Russia, Japan, and the entire world is unified on this issue!”

Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at the Center for the National Interest, tweeted that North Korea won’t like Trump’s comment about Kim having “everything to lose.”

“That won’t go over well, not one bit,” Kazianis tweeted.

Saturday’s test underlines just how far bilateral relations have deteriorated since a failed summit in Hanoi at the end of February and could presage a new round of weapons tests and hostile exchanges next year.

In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Sunday, a North Korean spokesman said the test result “will have an important impact on changing the strategic position of the DPRK,” referring to his country by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim Song, Pyongyang’s envoy to the United Nations, dismissed the Trump administration’s calls for dialogue Saturday as a “timesaving trick” aimed solely at “its domestic political agenda.”

“We do not need to have lengthy talks with the U.S. now, and denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table,” he said.

Since assuming the presidency, Trump has met with the North Korean leader three times to persuade him to give up nuclear weapons. Trump has repeatedly touted his “good relationship” with Kim as a win from his engagement efforts.

However, North Korea has been ramping up provocations ahead of the year-end deadline it has set for Washington to make a significant concession in nuclear negotiations. Pyongyang has called on the United States to drop its push for unilateral denuclearization of North Korea and relieve punishing sanctions on the country.

The announcement of a new test at the Sohae site is “a first solid step in ending a moratorium on testing” in a lead-up to the end-of-year deadline, said Nathan Hunt, an independent defense analyst who focuses on North Korea’s weapons systems.

Kim announced an end to nuclear warhead and long-range missile tests even before meeting Trump, something the U.S. president has held up as an important diplomatic achievement.

“North Korea is not going to any longer let actions be dictated so as to give good PR to the West,” Hunt said.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, had predicted last week that a test was imminent at Sohae, based on analysis of satellite imagery.

“The North Korean statement strongly implies that North Korea has tested a new or substantially improved rocket engine,” he said Sunday. “This suggests the ‘Christmas gift’ that North Korea has promised will be a new missile. Possibilities range from an improved Hwasong-15 to a solid-propellant ICBM.”

Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, said Sunday that a satellite test would be the perfect next step because it would not technically breach the moratorium, even if it would be widely seen as an ICBM test in disguise.

“The North Koreans will have no choice, but do something dramatic early next year — after all, they promised that they will not remain idle if the Americans do not give them what they expect,” he wrote in an email.

A satellite test “will not probably produce enough political and media noise they now badly need, so it will be followed by more ‘military demonstrations,’ ” he added.





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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Buffalo bishop under fire over handling of abuse claims


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone following widespread criticism from his staff, priests and the public over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct.

The Vatican announced the resignation in a brief statement, adding that Francis had named the bishop of Albany, New York, Edward Scharfenberger, to run the Buffalo diocese temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.

The Vatican didn’t say why Malone was resigning two years before the mandatory retirement age of 75. However, the Vatican conducted a recent investigation into the western New York diocese and Malone’s handling of abuse cases.

The diocese has been named in more than 220 recent lawsuits by people who claim they were sexually abused by priests.

Members of the media gather outside of Infant of Prague Parish before a news conference with Bishop Richard Malone, of Buffalo, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Cheektowaga, N.Y.Frank Franklin II / AP

Many of the claims date back decades, long before Malone’s arrival in Buffalo in 2012. But critics say there have been more recent missteps by Malone, including his decision to return to ministry a priest who had been suspended by a previous bishop for including “love you” in a Facebook message to an eighth-grade boy.

Malone later endorsed the same priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain, even after he was also accused of making unwanted advances toward young men.

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Malone has admitted to making mistakes in cases involving adult victims, but he had firmly refused to resign.

Pressure though on him to leave has been intense.

Over the past year, two key members of Malone’s staff have gone public with concerns about his leadership, including his former secretary, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who secretly recorded Malone calling a then-active priest “a sick puppy,” but taking no immediate action to remove him.

Earlier, his executive assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, leaked internal church documents after becoming concerned that Malone had intentionally omitted dozens of names from a publicly released list of priests with credible allegations of abuse.

In September, a group of lay Catholics that had been working with Malone to restore trust in the church instead joined in calls for his resignation.

A diocesan priest, meanwhile, has been circulating a “no confidence” letter for signatures.

The Vatican recently conducted an inquiry into the Buffalo diocese to get to the bottom of the problems. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who led the inquiry, said he’d finished his work after making three trips to western New York and interviewing about 80 people in and outside the church.

DiMarzio’s report to the Vatican has not been made public.

Among those who have called for Malone’s resignation is the former dean of seminarians at the diocese’s Christ the King Seminary. In a letter outlining his decision to withdraw from his studies to become a priest, Stephen Parisi called the diocese’s handing of clerical sexual abuse cases “disgusting and revolting” and raised questions about the institution’s academic practices and oversight.

Malone in April suspended three priests after several seminarians complained the older men subjected them to disturbing and offensive sexual discussions during a party at a rectory.

In refusing previous calls to step down, Malone had said he wanted to be part of the “renewal” of the diocese.

The diocese has paid out more than $18 million to more than 100 victims under a compensation program established last year. Since August, it has been named in a wave of new lawsuits under a New York state law that suspended the usual statute of limitations and opened a one-year window for victims to pursue claims regardless of when the abuse happened.

Attorneys general in several states, including New York, have begun civil investigations into how the Catholic church reviewed and potentially covered up abuse.



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Stranded strike passengers can make claims for hotel costs, South Western Railway confirms



The strikes began after talks between RMT and SWR broke down last week, over whether human guards should operate the opening and closing of train doors.

As the strike got underway passengers complained of “dangerously overcrowded” carriages and “scrums” ensuing as commuters struggled to board trains.

One passenger, Rachel Lonergan, tweeted SWR to say: “The train I was on this morning was dangerously overcrowded with fare-paying passengers feeling very unwell.”

Another, IT manager Karl Lawson, who is waiting for a knee replacement operation, spoke of how he had to bring a foldout chair to aid his commute.

The 59-year-old from Basingstoke said: “It has been very difficult. I need a knee replacement and cannot stand for more than half an hour.

“I had to bring my own chair even though I paid for a seat. I used it on the platform and on the train.

“It is a scrum to get to the train. There is no such thing as politeness. We were told there would be queues but everyone was just fighting to get on the train.”

Other passengers were also asking on social media whether they would be eligible for refunds on their season tickets during the strike.

During previous walkouts, such as on the Northern Rail lines, passengers have been able to claim back a day’s worth of fares if they did not travel due to strike action. 

SWR said that any season ticket holder wanting to make a claim should contact their customer services and those claims would also be “reviewed individually”.





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Chuck Todd claims Republicans are doing Russia’s ‘intelligence’ work for them


Congressional Republicans are doing Russia’s dirty work by shifting the blame for the 2016 election interference onto Ukraine, NBC News’ Chuck Todd said during a Sunday interview with Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana.

“U.S. Senators were briefed… that actually this entire effort to frame Ukraine for the Russian meddling of 2016, of which you just made this case that they’ve done it — that actually this is an effort of Russia propaganda,” Todd said.

“This is a Russian intelligence propaganda campaign in order to get people like you to say these things about Ukraine. Are you at all concerned you’re doing Russian intelligence work here?” he asked.

Kennedy claimed he was never briefed on the subject, but said Ukrainians were caught meddling in American elections back in December 2018. Todd accused Kennedy of falling for the bait and said he’s playing into Russia’s hands.

“You realize, the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin,” Todd shot back.

SEN. KENNEDY CLAIMS FORMER UKRAINE LEADER ‘ACTIVELY’ WORKED WITH HILLARY CLINTON IN 2016

“This is what he said on November 20: ‘Thank God nobody is accusing us any more of interfering in U.S. elections. Now they’re accusing Ukraine’ …You just accused a former president of Ukraine. You’ve done exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do. Are you at all concerned that you’ve been duped?” he pressed.

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Kennedy claimed Todd failed to do his research and said it’s perfectly reasonable to allow President Trump to introduce evidence during the impeachment process, which may point to potential Ukranian corruption.

“Well, let me put it this way, Chuck, let’s suppose — and I don’t believe it — but you’re right and I’m wrong. Then what harm would it do to allow the president of the United States, who has a demonstrated record fighting foreign corruption, to introduce evidence?” he asked.

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“Rounds one and two by Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Chairman [Adam] Schiff are as rigged as a carnival ring toss and we both know that,” Kennedy added.



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