Biphoo https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews Sat, 21 Apr 2018 12:01:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 Walmart could buy controlling stake in Flipkart as early as next week: sources https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/walmart-buy-controlling-stake-flipkart-early-next-week-sources.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/walmart-buy-controlling-stake-flipkart-early-next-week-sources.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 12:01:07 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63784 Walmart could buy controlling stake in Flipkart as early as next week: sources Walmart Inc (WMT.N) could seal a deal to buy a more than 51 percent stake in Indian online marketplace Flipkart as early as next week, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. The U.S. retail giant has been in talks […]

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Walmart could buy controlling stake in Flipkart as early as next week: sources

Walmart Inc (WMT.N) could seal a deal to buy a more than 51 percent stake in Indian online marketplace Flipkart as early as next week, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The U.S. retail giant has been in talks with Flipkart for months to acquire a controlling stake in the firm as it looks to take on rival Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) head-on in India, a market where e-commerce is tipped to grow to $200 billion in a decade.

SoftBank Group, which owns about a fifth of Flipkart through its Vision Fund, was unwilling to sell a part of its stake as Walmart was offering to buy existing shares at a valuation of $12 billion, a price the Japanese tech investor considered low, Reuters had previously reported.

But that stalemate between SoftBank and Walmart has ended, one of the sources told Reuters on Friday. It was not immediately clear though, whether SoftBank had agreed to sell some of its shares in Flipkart.

Walmart’s purchase of new equity is likely to value Flipkart at at least $18 billion.

Reuters reported this month that Walmart completed its due diligence on Flipkart and had made a proposal to buy 51 percent or more of the Indian company for between $10 billion to $12 billion.

A third source said a deal was close, but things could still drag into the first week of May.

Some of Flipkart’s main investors – U.S. hedge fund Tiger Global Management, South African tech investor Naspers and venture capital firm Accel – are likely to take a full exit as Walmart purchases their shares, sources have previously told Reuters.

Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, former Amazon employees who founded Flipkart in 2007 in India’s tech hub of Bengaluru, are also likely to part sell their stake as part of the deal, one of the sources said.

All sources declined to be named as the talks are not public.

Flipkart, SoftBank did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while a representative for Walmart in India declined comment.

SoftBank and Tiger Global own little more than 20 percent each of Flipkart, Naspers holds nearly 13 percent stake, Accel 6.4 percent, while the Bansals own just over 5 percent each of the company, according to data from business intelligence platform paper.vc.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-flipkart-online-m-a-walmart/walmart-could-buy-controlling-stake-in-flipkart-as-early-as-next-week-sources-idUSKBN1HR2KQ

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U.S. banks push mortgage apps as home lending slows https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/u-s-banks-push-mortgage-apps-home-lending-slows.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/u-s-banks-push-mortgage-apps-home-lending-slows.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:54:40 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63781 U.S. banks push mortgage apps as home lending slows Big U.S. banks are racing to launch websites and mobile apps to make getting a mortgage faster and easier, investments that may have modest near-term payoffs as home lending activity slows. Lenders have been spending on digital tools to cut costs, eliminate error-prone paperwork and appeal […]

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U.S. banks push mortgage apps as home lending slows

Big U.S. banks are racing to launch websites and mobile apps to make getting a mortgage faster and easier, investments that may have modest near-term payoffs as home lending activity slows.

Lenders have been spending on digital tools to cut costs, eliminate error-prone paperwork and appeal to younger home buyers. However, they are chasing a shrinking pool of refinancing business and new home loan volumes are still below pre-crisis levels.

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) has spent $1 billion on its digital banking services in the last six years and launched its lineup of techy mortgage products last week.

Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) rolled out its website and app service during the first quarter, and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), which is investing $1.4 billion in technology in 2018, plans to launch its offering later this year.

Bank of America’s app automatically fills in a customer’s address, employment history and other information that the bank already has, cutting out hundreds of boxes customers would otherwise have to fill. JPMorgan’s lets customers e-sign important documents.

Quicken Loans was the first to gain traction with digital home loans following its 2016 Rocket Mortgage launch. Quicken is the second-largest U.S. mortgage lender according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance Publications.

The app is now key to its mortgage sales with more than 98 percent of the $20 billion in loans Quicken sold in the first quarter coming from Rocket Mortgage, Quicken spokeswoman Brianna Blust said.

“Buying a house is supposed to be a joyful thing,” said Steve Boland, Bank of America’s head of consumer lending.

“Filling out 330 fields is not, I think, something that brings you joy.”

Refinancing volumes have plunged as interest rates have risen, meaning lenders must compete for a much smaller revenue pie in fresh home purchases.

The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of less than $450,000 was 4.66 percent the week ended April 13, and could reach nearly 5 percent by year end, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

New mortgage originations at the big banks are at their lowest levels in four years, and mortgage revenues have fallen by 21 percent since 2012, according to a Goldman Sachs research note.

Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan, the first, third and fourth-largest U.S. retail mortgage lenders according to Inside Mortgage Finance, reported declines of $700 million to $5 billion in mortgage originations for the first quarter compared to the year-ago period. As the business mix is shifting, the average U.S. home buyer is also changing.

Many potential borrowers who were born after 1981 had delayed moving out of family homes or remained renters for longer than prior generations.

But people who grew up using computers and smartphones now make up 34 percent of home buyers, compared to Gen Xers who make up 28 percent of the market, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“The biggest group of new home buyers in 2018 and subsequent years are folks … who are very comfortable with transacting digitally,” said Daren Blomquist of Attom Data Solutions, a California-based real estate research firm.

“Lenders who are catering to and marketing to those digital natives are the ones that are experiencing the most growth.”

Even if websites and apps do not make up for lost refinancing revenue, there is evidence that consumers quickly gravitate toward such tools.

Wells Fargo saw 10 percent of retail mortgage applications coming from its digital applications in March 2018, spokesman Tom Goyda said.

An auto loan app Bank of America debuted last May accounted for half of all auto loans it sold directly to customers in the first quarter, according to corporate filings.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-banks-results-mortgages/u-s-banks-push-mortgage-apps-as-home-lending-slows-idUSKBN1HR2X8

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Tech tumbles ahead of crucial week for quarterly results https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/tech-tumbles-ahead-of-crucial-week-for-quarterly-results.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/tech-tumbles-ahead-of-crucial-week-for-quarterly-results.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:48:32 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63778 Tech tumbles ahead of crucial week for quarterly results U.S. technology stocks tumbled on Friday ahead of a crucial week of quarterly reports from Alphabet, Facebook and other heavyweights as investors worried that the high-performance sector may be running out of fuel. Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft both lost more than 1 percent, while Apple tumbled […]

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Tech tumbles ahead of crucial week for quarterly results

U.S. technology stocks tumbled on Friday ahead of a crucial week of quarterly reports from Alphabet, Facebook and other heavyweights as investors worried that the high-performance sector may be running out of fuel.

Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft both lost more than 1 percent, while Apple tumbled 4 percent because of worries about slower-than-expected iPhone demand.

When Alphabet and Facebook report next week, investors will be anxious for new details about how they may be affected by calls for increased government regulation following reports on March 17 that Facebook improperly shared personal information about its users with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

A European law taking effect in May will allow European regulators to fine companies for collecting or using personal data without users’ consent, affecting Alphabet, Facebook and other major technology firms.

hares of Facebook, Amazon.com, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet – which in recent years propelled Wall Street’s gains – in recent months have splintered in different directions.

Amazon.com has rallied 31 percent in 2018, while Netflix has soared 73 percent. Portfolio mainstays Facebook and Apple, meanwhile, are both down year to date, while Alphabet’s 2.4 percent return is only a little higher than the S&P 500’s flat performance.

“Investor sentiment with tech stocks is in a long, slow retreat,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “If guidance is significantly more optimistic than what was expected, they might get a pop on that, but anything negative will be disastrous.”

Hurting Apple, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty in a note to clients cut her estimates for iPhone shipments in the March and June quarters due to weakness in China. Huberty trimmed her Apple price target to $200 from $203, compared with Friday’s $166 level.

Analysts on average expect S&P 500 information technology companies to grow their earnings per share by nearly 24 percent, which is better than the 20 percent growth estimated across the S&P 500, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

But the high bar suggests that failure to deliver on those expectations may exacerbate recent market worries about high valuations, damage from a trade war with China and expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates.

The S&P 500 information technology index is trading at about 18 times expected earnings, down from nearly 20 in late January but still above its 15-year average of 17, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

After the bell on Monday, Alphabet is expected by analysts on average to report a 22 percent increase in revenue to $30.3 billion, with net income rising 21 percent, equivalent to $9.28 per share on a non-GAAP basis, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Analysts expect Facebook to post a 42 percent surge in quarterly revenue, to $11.4 billion, when it reports late on Wednesday. Its stock has lost 10 percent since the revelations about Cambridge, underscoring investors’ concerns about regulation that could crimp the leading social network’s profitability.

Amazon late on Thursday is expected to report a 40 percent jump in revenue to $50 billion as the online retailer continues its expansion into cloud computing and brick-and-mortar groceries. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos may face questions from analysts about how Amazon might react to U.S. President Donald Trump’s allegations that the company enjoys unfair business advantages, including its use of United States Postal Service. [nL1N1RQ04J]

Also reporting next week are Twitter and Qualcomm on Wednesday, and Intel and Microsoft on Thursday.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tech-stocks/tech-tumbles-ahead-of-crucial-week-for-quarterly-results-idUSKBN1HR2VY

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P&G earnings beat as struggling retailers, costs eat into margins https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/pg-earnings-beat-struggling-retailers-costs-eat-margins.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/pg-earnings-beat-struggling-retailers-costs-eat-margins.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:42:14 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63775 P&G earnings beat as struggling retailers, costs eat into margins The world’s largest consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) narrowly beat quarterly earnings expectations on Thursday, saying shrinking retailer inventories and higher commodities and transportation costs squeezed margins. Shares in P&G were down 2.4 percent in premarket trading, with lackluster third-quarter earnings and […]

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P&G earnings beat as struggling retailers, costs eat into margins

The world’s largest consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) narrowly beat quarterly earnings expectations on Thursday, saying shrinking retailer inventories and higher commodities and transportation costs squeezed margins.

Shares in P&G were down 2.4 percent in premarket trading, with lackluster third-quarter earnings and forecast dampening gains from P&G’s earlier announcement that it was buying Merck KGaA’s (MRCG.DE) consumer health business for about 3.4 billion euros ($4.2 billion). The deal will give P&G vitamin brands such as Seven Seas and greater exposure to Latin American and Asian markets.

The maker of Pampers diapers and Gillette razors said it expects full-year organic sales growth at the low end of its 2 to 3 percent range. Overall, P&G said it expects sales to rise about 3 percent, including acquisitions and divestitures.

U.S. packaged goods companies, already struggling with lower demand and price tensions with retailers, have recently begun flagging higher commodities and transportation costs. Railroads and truck fleets have raised prices amid a shortage of drivers, reduced capacity, higher fuel prices and a strengthening U.S. economy.

Sales are under pressure from lower prices, tightening inventories and growing private label brands at retailers including Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and Target Corp (TGT.N), Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said on a call with journalists.

P&G operates in several politically volatile markets where consumption is down, including Egypt, Brazil and Nigeria, Moeller added.

Reported gross margin decreased by 100 basis points in the third quarter ended March 31. Net income attributable to the company fell to $2.51 billion, or 95 cents per share, compared with $2.52 billion, or 93 cents per share, a year earlier.

“Expectations were coming down entering the quarter, but organic sales growth was likely still below what investors were looking for,” Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog said.

Pricing is becoming an even bigger concern and fourth-quarter organic sales will need to accelerate to hit lowered full-year guidance, Herzog added.

Excluding items, the company earned $1 per share, beating analysts’ average estimate by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 4.3 percent to $16.28 billion, helped by demand for skincare products Olay and SK-II, as well as fabric and home care products such as Febreze. Analysts had expected sales of $16.21 billion.

P&G also said on Thursday that it was ending its PGT Healthcare joint venture with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.N), saying its priorities and strategies were no longer aligned with Teva’s.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-procter-gamble-results/pg-earnings-beat-as-struggling-retailers-costs-eat-into-margins-idUSKBN1HQ1GX

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Wall Street falls on investor nerves about interest rates, tech https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/wall-street-falls-investor-nerves-interest-rates-tech.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/wall-street-falls-investor-nerves-interest-rates-tech.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:32:47 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63772 Wall Street falls on investor nerves about interest rates, tech Wall Street’s three major indexes declined on Friday as investors worried about a jump in U.S. bond yields, with technology stocks leading the decline on nerves about upcoming earnings reports and iPhone demand. The technology index .SPLRCT was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 […]

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Wall Street falls on investor nerves about interest rates, tech

Wall Street’s three major indexes declined on Friday as investors worried about a jump in U.S. bond yields, with technology stocks leading the decline on nerves about upcoming earnings reports and iPhone demand.

The technology index .SPLRCT was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 with a 1.5 percent drop after registering three straight days of losses ahead of a key earnings week for the sector.

“There continues to be some concern over interest rates and their potential impact on equities. There’s also been a little bit of a lack of momentum in this earnings period,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“It’s not that earnings weren’t good enough but company forecasts often weren’t strong enough to make the market continue to rise,” he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 202.09 points, or 0.82 percent, to 24,462.8, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 22.98 points, or 0.85 percent, to 2,670.15 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 91.93 points, or 1.27 percent, to 7,146.13.

Despite Friday’s decline the S&P eked out a gain of 0.5 percent for the week to show its second weekly gain in a row.

Equity investors were jittery as the 10-year Treasury yield US10YT=RR reached its highest level since January 2014 as a bond selloff continued for a second day, driving the yield curve steeper after two weeks of flattening. [US/]

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last fell 12/32 in price to yield 2.9583 percent, from 2.914 percent Thursday.

When yields are high, investors favor bonds over equities including sectors such as consumer staples and real estate, which promise high dividends and slow, predictable growth. But high interest rates can boost bank profits so the financial sector managed to show a 0.05 percent gain, making it the best performer out of the S&P’s 11 industry sectors.

The consumer staples sector .SPLRCS was the biggest percentage decliner with a 1.7 percent fall, led by PepsiCo (PEP.O).

“We’re seeing a follow through from yesterday’s action when the key was weakness in consumer staples. We came to this earnings season with very optimistic expectations and we’re seeing some very fundamental bottoms up issues at these companies,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Procter & Gamble (PG.N) fell 2.9 percent on top of a 4.2 percent drop the day before when it said shrinking retailer inventories and higher costs squeezed its margins.

Philip Morris International (PM.N) also had a second day of declines after getting crushed due to weak shipment volumes in its quarterly report.

Apple (AAPL.O) fell 4.1 percent, making it the biggest drag on the major indexes after Morgan Stanley estimated weak demand for its latest iPhones, a day after Taiwan Semiconductor (2330.TW) raised fears of softer smartphone sales.

Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Intel (INTC.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) are among the major technology companies reporting next week.

S&P 500 companies are expected to report their strongest first-quarter profit gains in seven years. Of the 87 companies that have reported so far, 79.3 percent have topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.68-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and 22 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 54 new highs and 51 new lows.

On U.S. exchanges 6.45 billion shares changed hands compared to the 6.92 billion average for the last 20 trading days.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-stocks/wall-street-falls-on-investor-nerves-about-interest-rates-tech-idUSKBN1HR1OH

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U.S. yield hits four year high; stocks fall on tech sector https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/u-s-yield-hits-four-year-high-stocks-fall-on-tech-sector.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/business/u-s-yield-hits-four-year-high-stocks-fall-on-tech-sector.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:23:59 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63769 U.S. yield hits four year high; stocks fall on tech sector A U.S. bond sell-off continued for a second day on Friday, pushing the 10-year Treasury yield to its highest level in more than four years and steepening the yield curve after two weeks of flattening. World stock markets dipped as worries about a global […]

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U.S. yield hits four year high; stocks fall on tech sector

A U.S. bond sell-off continued for a second day on Friday, pushing the 10-year Treasury yield to its highest level in more than four years and steepening the yield curve after two weeks of flattening.

World stock markets dipped as worries about a global slowdown in smartphone demand dented the technology sector, while oil prices fell after U.S. President Donald Trump sent a tweet criticizing OPEC and then mostly recovered.

The higher yields seemed to reflect a technical shift in the market, rather than a jump in investor confidence in the U.S. economy or rising inflation, so analysts are regarding the steeper curve as temporary.

“If you look at the chart, you have to squint to see it,” Gene Tannuzzo, senior portfolio manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said of the two-day counter-trend.

With the Federal Reserve raising short-term interest rates, “a flattening makes sense,” Tannuzzo added.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR touched 2.962 percent, surpassing their January 2014 levels. They last fell 13/32 in price to yield 2.9602 percent.

“Investors want to wait on the sidelines. It seems like the 10-year will get to 3 percent. Everybody’s being patient so they can see how far it corrects until we get there,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

U.S. crude CLcv1 fell 0.4 percent to $68.06 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $73.66, down 0.16 percent on the day.

Oil prices have been supported by tightening crude supplies and continued support from OPEC and its allies on supply cuts.

Trump’s tweet, in which he called prices “artificially Very High!”, sent crude futures tumbling, but they stabilized a bit later.

“We have a difficult time seeing how OPEC would in any way be swayed here in terms of changing course, in terms of policy,” said Michael Tran, commodity strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

“One of the major variables that’s fueling the rally in oil prices is the market’s perception that his administration is taking an increasingly hawkish stance on foreign policy,” he said.

Weakness among tech stocks drove Wall Street equities lower for a second session, following a slide on Thursday by Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and its suppliers.

A strong earnings season could offset fears of slowing global growth and help stock markets recover from first-quarter volatility, which was fueled by a trade spat between the United States and China and mounting geopolitical tensions over Syria.

“While fundamentals remain robust, geopolitics and trade war fears, concerns over slowing global growth, and idiosyncratic issues in the tech sector have all weighed,” Deutsche Bank strategists wrote in note to clients. They said a full-blown trade war between the United States and China was a major risk.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 201.95 points, or 0.82 percent, to 24,462.94, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 22.99 points, or 0.85 percent, to 2,670.14 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 91.93 points, or 1.27 percent, to 7,146.13.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 rose 0.05 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.83 percent.

The U.S. dollar index rose to a two-week high against a basket of peer currencies, while sterling GBP=D3 extended a decline in the wake of dovish comments from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney overnight.

The pound continued to fall against the dollar, hitting its lowest against the greenback since April 6.

The dollar index .DXY rose 0.42 percent, with the euro EUR= down 0.47 percent to $1.2286.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-markets/u-s-yield-hits-four-year-high-stocks-fall-on-tech-sector-idUSKBN1HR02F

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NBA star Jimmy Butler pays up and then some after fan charges $20 for fantasy league https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/nba-star-jimmy-butler-pays-fan-charges-20-fantasy-league.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/nba-star-jimmy-butler-pays-fan-charges-20-fantasy-league.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 08:02:11 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63766 NBA star Jimmy Butler pays up and then some after fan charges $20 for fantasy league Relax, Minnesota Timberwolves fans who are downtrodden about your team’s 2-0 deficit against the Houston Rockets. We have a feel-good story for you. And as is so often the case, resident man of the people Jimmy Butler is the […]

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NBA star Jimmy Butler pays up and then some after fan charges $20 for fantasy league

Relax, Minnesota Timberwolves fans who are downtrodden about your team’s 2-0 deficit against the Houston Rockets. We have a feel-good story for you.

And as is so often the case, resident man of the people Jimmy Butler is the main character.

Ten months after he famously shared his cell phone number during his introductory T-Wolves press conference, the four-time All-Star who is renowned for his comic relief made one fan’s day – and maybe even his year – in typical Butler fashion.

As Sheldon Jack Bowen shared in a personal Facebook post (the details of which Butler’s agent, Bernie Lee, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports), he added Butler’s number to a fantasy basketball group chat as a practical joke of sorts. So game after game, week after week, Bowen and his friends surely wondered if and when Butler might chime in to discuss the latest fantasy action. Truth be told, it was the kind of creative prank that Butler could appreciate.

Unbeknownst to Bowen, Butler had changed his number shortly after sharing it with the world.

Remember when Jimmy Butler posted his number on ESPN for his critics? Well we added him to our fantasy basketball group chat and would randomly joke about it. When the basketball season ended I jokingly sent him a message on Twitter he needed to pay his 20 dollar league fee. His agent messaged me for an address. I responded with I was totally joking but if he could send something for our league to joke about, that would be totally cool. Well today I got a package in the mail from Jimmy Butler and his agent Bernard Lee. A pair of game used Jordans autographed by Jimmy Butler. A Jimmy Butler twolves jersey and a 20 dollar bill for league fees. Pretty cool to see a athlete and agent generosity first hand. Thank you Jimmy and Bernard Lee. You are beyond generous.

At the end of the NBA’s regular season, Bowen sent Butler a message on Twitter joking that he owed him a $20 league-entry fee.

“@JimmyButler hey when you gave your number on sportscenter, I signed you up for my fantasy basketball league and you lost. You owe 20 dollars if you can pay that would be great. Let me know bruh”

After seeing the tweet, Butler coordinated with Lee to do much more than that. They sent the $20 along with a pair of signed, game-worn Jordan sneakers and a Butler jersey, with the prizes intended for this season’s fantasy league champion.

“Pretty cool to see a athlete and agent generosity first hand,” Bowen wrote in his post that included a picture of the gifts. “Thank you Jimmy and Bernard Lee. You are beyond generous.”

This is hardly the first time Butler’s personality has been front and center.

When he was traded from the Chicago Bulls to Minnesota in June, NBC Sports Chicago published a highlight reel of his funnier moments.

In early November, his visit with ESPN’s Sam Alipour included a canoe crash that went viral because, well, Butler screamed as if he was going to drown while falling into a few inches of water.

And now, there’s another Butler tale to be told.

Source:-https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2018/04/19/nba-playoffs-timberwolves-star-jimmy-butler-stuns-fantasy-league/534013002/

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NFL draft 2018 offensive line rankings: Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey head class https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/nfl-draft-2018-offensive-line-rankings-notre-dames-quenton-nelson-mike-mcglinchey-head-class.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/nfl-draft-2018-offensive-line-rankings-notre-dames-quenton-nelson-mike-mcglinchey-head-class.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:56:27 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63763 NFL draft 2018 offensive line rankings: Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey head class The top interior offensive line prospects entering the 2018 NFL draft: 1. Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (6-5, 325): The top blocker in the draft, he will likely buck a recent trend of guards not going in the top 10. Nelson has […]

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NFL draft 2018 offensive line rankings: Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey head class

The top interior offensive line prospects entering the 2018 NFL draft:

1. Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (6-5, 325): The top blocker in the draft, he will likely buck a recent trend of guards not going in the top 10. Nelson has ideal size and strength for the position and a reputation of finishing blocks with nastiness. He’s explosive off the snap, excels in particular while run blocking and has excellent vision and assessment of where pressure is coming from. Has ideal mentality that should make him a hit with teammates. Immediate starter with potential to become perennial Pro Bowler. Projected: potential top five

2. Will Hernandez, UTEP (6-2, 327): He threw up 37 bench press reps at the scouting combine, third most of any player and best among offensive linemen. Has a thick frame yet he’s surprisingly fluid and agile with his footwork. A four-year starter, he has all-conference and All-American honors to back up his billing as a plug-and-play starter. Projected: Round 1

3. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia (6-2, 313): If he were taller, Wynn would be a bona fide tackle prospect. Though he can slide outside in an emergency given his experience at tackle, Wynn’s natural pro position is probably guard. He could add more bulk to compete with NFL defensive tackles, but Wynn boasts clean and efficient technique and is athletic for his build. Run blocking is his forte, and his pass protection is more than sufficient to make him a candidate to start right away. Projected: Round 1-2

4. James Daniels, Iowa (6-3, 306): He comes from a tradition of quality Hawkeyes blockers. If placed in the right system, likely one that features zone blocking, he could excel immediately. His best asset is field awareness, which allows him to get off the snap and help seal blocks. He possesses excellent knowledge of opponents and doesn’t shy from finishing his first block, then taking on linebackers. May need to develop more bulk and power. Projected: Round 1-2

5. Billy Price, Ohio State (6-4, 305): He suffered an unfortunate pectoral injury while benching at the combine. Still, his college tape suggests he could be the best center in this draft. His ability tPplaying guard, where he also has experience. Projected: Round 2

6. Austin Corbett, Nevada (6-4, 306): Played his entire college career at left tackle, but because of sub-optimal height and length for the position, Corbett is likely ticketed for guard in the NFL. He was a team captain in his sophomore and junior years, before the Wolf Pack switched to game-by-game captains. Despite walking on, Corbett became a four-year starter. Will likely have a learning curve given his expected position switch. Projected: Round 2

7. Frank Ragnow, Arkansas (6-5, 312): A three-year starter with experience at both center and guard, he held his own against the Southeastern Conference’s most imposing defensive linemen, including projected first-round pick Da’Ron Payne of Alabama. Ragnow has the size and power to create a push at the next level, though he too often finds himself off balance. Projected: Round 2

8. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State (6-4, 308): Teams suffering injuries at either tackle spot could use him there in a pinch. Despite that versatility, Rankin is definitely best suited at guard or center at the next level. Although he missed four games with a high ankle sprain last season, his overall play was good enough to earn first-team, all-SEC honors. Projected: Round 2-3

9. Braden Smith, Auburn (6-6, 315): A four-year starter who earned first-team All-American honors as a senior, Smith has the ideal size NFL talent evaluators are looking for. He fends off defensive linemen with power upon initiating contact, but Smith’s film does reveal some inconsistent play and sometimes inadequate quickness — especially against top-level talent. Projected: Round 2-3

Teams in need of guards and centers

1. Bills: After losing C Eric Wood and G Richie Incognito to unexpected retirements, they suddenly have a huge void.

2. Colts: No team gave up more sacks last season (56), and this group will be under significant scrutiny amid QB Andrew Luck’s expected return.

3. Bengals: The O-line was Cincinnati’s Achilles’ heel in 2017, a unit that still appears especially vulnerable between the tackles.

4. Vikings: Joe Berger’s retirement was a further blow to what may be the primary area of the depth chart that could undermine Minnesota’s Super Bowl aspirations.

5. Seahawks: Different season, same story — especially at guard.

More: Patriots-Steelers rematch among 10 NFL games we can’t wait to see on 2018 schedule

More: NFL revenge games 2018: 49ers CB Richard Sherman’s reunion with Seahawks tops slate

The top offensive tackle prospects entering the 2018 NFL draft:

1. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame (6-8, 309): He’s quite athletic for his size and actually played tight end in high school. McGlinchey is a sound blocker but should probably add a bit more bulk. Not a dominant finisher, his best assets are proper technique and natural form. He has plenty of experience on both sides of the line. A two-time captain, he ought to be a valuable addition to his next locker room. McGlinchey is a cousin of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Projected: Round 1

2. Connor Williams, Texas (6-5, 296): A relatively short wingspan could cause some teams to consider moving him to guard. Perhaps more concerning was a dip in his play, evident on game film from 2017. Still, Williams provides plenty of power and excellent technique, displaying a solid understanding of leverage and hand placement to finish blocks. But he’ll have to quickly prove he can handle speedy edge rushers to make a living on the blind side at the next level. Projected: Round 1-2

3. Kolton Miller, UCLA (6-9, 309): He should reap the benefits following a strong performance at the scouting combine. Miller’s tape, however, sometimes shows him struggling against strong and quick pass rushers, and he may not have the athleticism — despite his nifty feet — to survive on the left side in the NFL. Projected: Round 1-2

4. Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh (6-7, 297): A basketball player in high school, his football background includes stops at defensive end and tight end, providing an idea of the athleticism he brings. Pitt coaches even used him as a running back, and O’Neill scored two touchdowns in his college career. He has prototypical size for an NFL tackle but will need to get stronger. His best traits are most evident when he can get into space and use his mobility to engage blockers at the second level. What’s concerning, however, is O’Neill’s tendency to abandon his technique when he struggles. Projected: Round 2

5. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon (6-5, 309): Injuries limited him to three games in 2017, so there may be some rust to knock off when he gets to rookie minicamp for his NFL team. But Crosby is strong, boasts long arms (35¼ inches) and offers experience at both left and right tackle. Projected: Round 2

6. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma (6-8, 345): He labored through one of the worst combine performances ever, generating significant concerns about his sub-par athleticism. After running a 5.85-second 40-yard dash and repping 225 pounds 14 times in Indianapolis, Brown managed only slight improvement to his depressed stock at the Sooners’ pro day. Still, he has ideal size and length — and he used them at times to compensate for poor technique and sloppy footwork. If he can redistribute his weight and take to NFL coaching, Brown could develop into a solid pro like his late father, Orlando “Zeus” Brown. Projected: Round 2-3

7. Geron Christian, Louisville (6-5, 298): His 35-inch arms give him the requisite length to fend off pass rushers. Another former basketball player, Christian’s footwork is fluid and natural, and he’s well-balanced in his stance. Though he played on Lamar Jackson’s blind side for the Cardinals, Christian likely projects to start on the right side, with the potential to eventually blossom into a reliable left tackle in the NFL. However his experience blocking for a mobile quarterback could serve him well in a place like Seattle. And after snapping to Jackson during their pro day, maybe Christian can even fill in at center in a pinch. Projected: Round 2-4

Teams in need of offensive tackles

1. Texans: They struck out in their bid to get Nate Solder in free agency. The need remains, especially with QB Deshaun Watson on the mend from knee surgery, but Houston might have to get creative given the team’s first pick is in Round 3 (68th overall).

2. Browns: With five of the draft’s top 64 picks, ample opportunity to find retired Joe Thomas’ successor.

3. Patriots: With Solder gone, good chance they use one of their two first rounders on a new blind side sentinel for soon-to-be-41-year-old Tom Brady.

4. Bills: In addition to losing Wood and Incognito, Buffalo also traded LT Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati to move up the draft board.

5. Jets: They’re certain to take a quarterback with the draft’s No. 3 pick. They’ll need to think about protecting their new franchise passer, though GM Mike Maccagnan’s next pick doesn’t come until Round 3.

Source:-https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/draft/2018/04/20/nfl-draft-2018-offensive-line-rankings-notre-dame/493865002/

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Heat center Hassan Whiteside blames coaching after another bad game: ‘I’m not involved’ https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/heat-center-hassan-whiteside-blames-coaching-another-bad-game-im-not-involved.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/heat-center-hassan-whiteside-blames-coaching-another-bad-game-im-not-involved.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:49:24 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63760 Heat center Hassan Whiteside blames coaching after another bad game: ‘I’m not involved’ After another poor performance in Game 3 of Miami’s first-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, Heat center Hassan Whiteside suggested that head coach Erik Spoelstra may be the one to blame for his postseason struggles. “It’s just different, man. […]

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Heat center Hassan Whiteside blames coaching after another bad game: ‘I’m not involved’

After another poor performance in Game 3 of Miami’s first-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, Heat center Hassan Whiteside suggested that head coach Erik Spoelstra may be the one to blame for his postseason struggles.

“It’s just different, man. I feel like our offense is a lot different,” Whiteside told reporters in Miami. “I’m not involved in as many dribble-handoffs as I was and post-ups as I was during the regular season. That’s what coach wants. Coach wants me to just be in a corner and set picks. I mean, that’s what he wants so I’ve just got to trust it.”

Whiteside’s final stat-line in the Game 3 loss? Five points, two rebounds, one block and four fouls in 13 minutes.

He has taken seven total shots in the series and is averaging 3.7 points, four rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 13.6 minutes — a stark contrast to the 14 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 25.3 minutes he averaged during the regular season.

Fellow 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, meanwhile, has seen his role increase against the Sixers. He leads the team in minutes (33.3 per game) and is averaging 15.3 points while shooting 51.9% from the field and 58.3% from beyond the arc.

“I want to get more rebounds out there. I want to get more minutes out there,” Whiteside said. “I’m going to keep trusting coach’s decision-making. Even with the fouls I still could have been out there. I wouldn’t have fouled out.”

As for Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, who returned from a 10-game absence Thursday night and tallied 23 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes, Whiteside said, “He lives a big-man’s dream. He gets the ball, he gets the post-ups, he posts up every other play and they pretty much run a lot of stuff through him and Ben Simmons.”

Asked how he can be more involved moving forward, Whiteside said he’s trying to figure it out.

“I guess I’ve got to crash, try to score off offensive rebounds maybe, keep running the floor and try to get alley-oops,” he said. “But other than that, it’s a lot different than the regular season. It’s a lot different.”

Whiteside, who signed a four-year, $98 million deal with Miami two summers ago, was fined an undisclosed amount by the Heat earlier this month for comments detrimental to the team — a response to his remarks expressing frustration with his role.

A lot of teams don’t have a good center,” Whiteside said at the time. ” … It’s (expletive). It’s really (expletive). There are a lot of teams that could use a center.”

He later apologized for his comments, saying he was “frustrated.”

“I get real competitive,” he said. “I really want to be out there.”

The Sixers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Saturday afternoon in Miami.

Source:-https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/playoffs/2018/04/20/hassan-whiteside-blames-coaching-76-ers-game-3-nba-playoffs/535338002/

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From factory job to Division II, Nathan Shepherd has taken winding path to NFL draft https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/from-factory-job-to-division-ii-nathan-shepherd-has-taken-winding-path-to-nfl-draft.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/from-factory-job-to-division-ii-nathan-shepherd-has-taken-winding-path-to-nfl-draft.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:42:55 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63756 From factory job to Division II, Nathan Shepherd has taken winding path to NFL draft The printers were massive, Nathan Shepherd said. Probably 25- or 30-feet long, whirring as they spit out 50 hot strips of cardboard in a row — flattened cartons so sharp they would leave thin cuts on his forearms. His job […]

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From factory job to Division II, Nathan Shepherd has taken winding path to NFL draft

The printers were massive, Nathan Shepherd said. Probably 25- or 30-feet long, whirring as they spit out 50 hot strips of cardboard in a row — flattened cartons so sharp they would leave thin cuts on his forearms.

His job at this MeadWestvaco packaging facility in Toronto was to stack the folded-down boxes into towers more than 6 feet high, move them off the line, bundle them in plastic wrap and get them ready to be loaded onto trucks. They were often the future homes of 24-packs of Coca-Cola, or the beginnings of a six-pack of beer.

“Bud Light, Miller Light, Corona, whatever it might be,” Shepherd said

This wasn’t the only job Shepherd had in his two years away from football, but it was probably the most difficult. He said he was working 12-hour shifts, sometimes overnight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He was living with his parents in a suburb of Toronto — biking to work, lifting weights, saving money and waiting for another opportunity to play football.

Now, a little less than four years later, he’s emerged as a projected second- or third-round pick in the NFL draft.

Though he’s a relative unknown even among football fans, Shepherd has arguably the most winding journey of any of this year’s prospects. He worked full-time at a plant nursery and electrical construction company in British Columbia. He paid his own way and walked on at Fort Hays State University, a Division-II school in western Kansas. And then he kept working, bouncing at bars after home games and working other odd jobs to stay financially afloat.

At 24, he is one of the oldest players in this draft class.

“The number-one question the NFL asks (is), ‘Do you love football?'” said Fort Hays wide receivers coach Al McCray, who recruited Shepherd. “Read this kid’s story and you tell me if this kid loves football or not.”

From nursery to packaging factory

Shepherd didn’t just want to play football; he wanted to play American football. So nearly seven years ago, he decided to enroll at Simon Fraser University because it was the only NCAA-affiliated school in Canada, even though it was more than 2,700 miles from Toronto.

He redshirted in 2011 and showed promise in nine games in 2012, but he had to leave the team — and withdraw from school — in 2013 because of what he described as financial issues.

So he did what anyone else would do.

“I started working at a plant nursery,” Shepherd said.

His brief seasonal job at NATS Nursery amounted to packing up orders of potted plants, transporting them on a dune buggy and loading them onto an 18-wheeler, Shepherd said. When winter arrived, he said he switched to electrical construction, working on the wiring in new townhouse developments.

Then, a little less than a year after entering the workforce, Shepherd decided to move back home with his parents to cut costs. Paul Watkins, a family friend and personal trainer, said Shepherd was “broken.”

“His dream was to play football, and it didn’t work out at Simon Fraser,” said Watkins, who helps run Football In Training, a training group outside Toronto. “It seemed like that was the end of football for him.”

But Shepherd said his mindset never wavered. Even as he picked up shifts at the packaging factory in April and took online classes through Northeast Texas Community College, he was still in the gym with Watkins, who offered to train Shepherd for free.

“All the other dreams or passions that I might have had were things that could be pursued after football,” Shepherd said. “Football is a blink of an eye. I’m like, ‘You’re going to regret if you don’t go back. So let’s go back and give it our best shot.’ “

A one-way plane ticket
McCray first got a call about Shepherd from a friend who is a junior-college coach. The school loved him, McCray’s friend told him, but it wasn’t prepared to risk a scholarship on someone who hadn’t played football in two years.

McCray watched Shepherd’s two-year-old film from Simon Fraser and some video clips on Facebook of the 6-5, 315-pounder lifting weights in Watkins’ gym. It was enough for McCray. He offered Shepherd the chance to walk on at Fort Hays and pay his own way for a semester, with the chance of earning a scholarship after that.

Within a few weeks, Shepherd had purchased a one-way ticket to Hays, Kansas — population 21,027.

“People talk about, ‘Oh they love football, they love football, they love football,’ ” McCray said. “This kid… from Toronto… bought his own plane ticket to come to Hays, Kansas. Sight unseen.”

MORE: Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta among NFL draft sleepers

MORE:Check out USA TODAY Sports’ latest mock draft

Shepherd said he used savings from the previous two years to cover tuition, housing, food and international student fees during that first semester. He also encountered one unforeseen cost: health insurance.

“I’d never had to (pay for) that before,” the Ajax, Ontario, native said.

Shepherd said it didn’t make sense for him financially to take out student loans because “there would’ve been a lot of hoops that I had to jump through” as a Canadian citizen at a U.S. school. He didn’t ask his parents for help because his younger sister, Janessa, was also getting ready to go to college.

“I felt like if I wanted to pursue this dream, I needed to be the one to invest in myself,” Shepherd explained. “And if I could do that, that’s how I knew it was real for me.”

As he carved out a role for himself on the field, eventually earning a scholarship that covered tuition, Shepherd continued to work random jobs to pay for food and rent. He got a job on the school’s custodial staff. He worked the concession stands at basketball and volleyball games on campus. He spent one semester as a resident-assistant. He moved furniture for cash. And he even worked security at local bars, concert halls and a dirt racetrack on the outskirts of town, sometimes even bouncing after home games.

“It was literally anything,” said Wyatt Parker, his former teammate and close friend. “It could’ve been pumping sewage and Nate would be like, ‘I’m there.’ “

Shepherd juggled his various responsibilities by working as many hours as he could during the spring and summer, then scaling back during football season. He recorded 12½ tackles for a loss and four sacks last year, earning conference defensive player of the year honors despite being routinely double-teamed.

“He kind of looked at football like it’s a job,” Parker said.

Unsurprisingly, McCray said, Shepherd has prepared for the draft much like any other employee would prepare for a job interview. When scouts visited him, he’d ask for their business cards. If he knew he was going to be meeting with a specific scout, he’d research his or her background.

“Like, who does that?” McCray said. “That’s Nate. Everything about him is business.”

Regardless of when he’s drafted, Shepherd will become just the sixth player from Fort Hays to make it to the NFL since 1938. It will be a moment of validation and relief, seven years in the making — and it’s clear he won’t take his new job for granted.

Source:-https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/draft/2018/04/20/nathan-shepherd-fort-hays-state-nfl-draft-2018/493267002/

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After leaving San Francisco 49ers after one season to protect his health, Chris Borland isn’t looking back https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/leaving-san-francisco-49ers-one-season-protect-health-chris-borland-isnt-looking-back.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/sports/leaving-san-francisco-49ers-one-season-protect-health-chris-borland-isnt-looking-back.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:34:52 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63752 After leaving San Francisco 49ers after one season to protect his health, Chris Borland isn’t looking back This time of the NFL offseason features loads of potential-based excitement. Free agent signings and returning players have started reporting to team headquarters for the start of workouts. The regular-season schedule just came out. The top college prospects […]

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After leaving San Francisco 49ers after one season to protect his health, Chris Borland isn’t looking back

This time of the NFL offseason features loads of potential-based excitement.

Free agent signings and returning players have started reporting to team headquarters for the start of workouts. The regular-season schedule just came out. The top college prospects will hear their names called during next week’s NFL draft.

But all of that — the renewed routines, the energy and buzz — feels almost foreign now for Chris Borland. Distant memories, and nothing more.

Three years have passed since San Francisco’s 2014 third-round pick retired months after the inside linebacker garnered all-rookie honors for recording 107 tackles, a sack, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Concerns about brain injuries after extensive self-conducted research on the topic drove Borland away from the game. He had already sustained two diagnosed concussions during his career — once in eighth grade when he was knocked unconscious and again in 10th grade when he got up, but was pulled from the game after staggering in the wrong direction. However, Borland says he suffered 13 other concussions that he chose not to report. However, after learning of dangers of brain injuries and how he could suffer from them later in life, he’d had enough.

The decision to retire came without a twinge of doubt or regret, Borland told USA TODAY Sports. But that doesn’t mean finding a sense of purpose after football came easily.

At times, I would oscillate between feeling trapped and feeling aimless,” Borland recalled. “I really, at times, wanted to avoid this issue. There’s a degree of irony. I quit not to deal with CTE and at least intellectually deal with it as much as anyone, and I laugh at that irony sometimes, and that stress. But on the other hand, I had opportunities walking away, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. … Ultimately, I’m very fortunate to have my health and different opportunities and I’ve settled into a place and I’ve embraced the role.”

That role involves Borland’s work with After The Impact Fund, a non-profit organization that helps treat both former NFL players and military veterans, who suffer from traumatic injuries. ATIF helps players and veterans transition to every-day lives while lending assistance in the area of physical, psychological and relational healing while giving the men and women a renewed sense of purpose.

These efforts appealed to Borland thanks largely to the aimlessness he experienced immediately after retiring at the age of 25.

From talking to his brothers, Joe Borland (a captain and U.S. Army JAG Corps) and John Borland (a major in the Army and instructor at West Point), Borland learned of the struggles that service members also encounter as they transition back to civilian life.

Eventually, those paths intersected for Borland when his involvement with Gridiron Greats (another organization that assists retired football players), led him to After The Impact Fund.

“They pair military veterans with NFL retirees as their approach to getting people the services they need,” Borland explained. “I think its two distinct populations that share a lot of the same issues, whether it be neurologically or re-assimilating into society. Like veterans, we’re used to being part of a unit, having a single purpose, and experiencing a certain intensity of lifestyle. It’s not easy to then be cast into this world where it’s strip malls and Snapchat stories about the Kardashians and the like, and it’s much the same with football players.”

The Borland brothers are teaming up this weekend to raise funds for After the Impact Fund while taking part in an event that also intersects the NFL with the military, racing in the Pat Tillman Foundation’s Pat’s Run in Tempe, Ariz. (Tillman was the Arizona Cardinals safety, who after the September 11 attacks quit football to enlist in the Army and was killed in action in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan).

More: NFL mock draft 2018: Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield could be biggest QB dominoes

More: 2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits for all 32 teams, position rankings

Meeting the needs of former players, particularly those suffering from the effects of brain injuries, represents Borland’s passion. But he often finds himself lending assistants to current players. He estimates that on average of once a week, a current NFL player will contact him seeking additional insight on brain injuries and his decision to retire.

“I try not to tell anybody what to do, but just share my journey and point them in the direction of where I feel really good research is going on,” Borland said.

Borland currently doesn’t regret having played football. He considers himself blessed to have enjoyed the game in college, and to have reached the NFL. He admits that if he does wind up suffering from dementia and other brain injury related illnesses, he’ll then regret not having played another sport instead.

Borland doesn’t follow the NFL closely anymore, but he keeps up to date on the latest research that the league’s committees produce, and the rule changes or safety measures that are put in place. The NFL has instituted stiffer penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits, and this week officials outlawed 10 helmet models that testing has deemed ineffective in protecting the brain.

But none of those efforts give the former linebacker a sense of comfort.

“I don’t think you can look to the people that have caused the problem to solve it,” Borland said. “I understand and empathize with folks at the league, but they’re not in the health industry. They’re in the violence industry. They’ll make it incrementally safer for PR and will fund studies for the same reason, but ultimately, their bread is buttered by watching players collide and the violence of the game. That’s what’s captivating so, it’s against their interest to really solve it. And I don’t think they’re doing enough and that it’ll every be enough.”

But what is an effective solution?

“Objective research,” Borland says and then praises the work of the Concussion Legacy Foundation before adding, “It’s going to take the instituting of rules at every level. It’s not just a pro football level. It’s reform on (youth, high school and college levels), legislation; all hands on deck, because millions and millions will play, and we’re learning more and more about repetitive brain injuries. But no, I don’t think the NFL will ever be a leader in this.”

Source:-https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/04/20/chris-borland-not-looking-back-health-concussions-49-ers/534902002/

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Some Fortnite Players Worry The Game Is Becoming Overstuffed https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/some-fortnite-players-worry-the-game-is-becoming-overstuffed.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/some-fortnite-players-worry-the-game-is-becoming-overstuffed.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:20:43 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63741 Some Fortnite Players Worry The Game Is Becoming Overstuffed After Fortnite Battle Royale exploded in popularity, developers over at Epic Games focused their attention on regular updates that, some players say, has inflated the game with too many items. Sure, some players might appreciate boogie bombs, guided missiles, remote explosives and launch pads, but to […]

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Some Fortnite Players Worry The Game Is Becoming Overstuffed

After Fortnite Battle Royale exploded in popularity, developers over at Epic Games focused their attention on regular updates that, some players say, has inflated the game with too many items. Sure, some players might appreciate boogie bombs, guided missiles, remote explosives and launch pads, but to players who prefer a more streamlined game, Fortnite has become unwieldy.

Fortnite is, at base, a game about being the last man standing and constructing stuff. It’s Hunger Games with building plus lots of goofy items: bush costumes, portable fort grenades, and, guided missiles. Nearly every other week, Epic introduces some new, wild thing that gets everyone talking. Sometimes, that new, wild thing introduces some fun nuance into the game, and other times, it adds a little too much chaos. In fact, earlier this week, Epic Games removed the three-week-old guided missiles after several players voiced concerns “over fairness and strength of the weapon,” Epic wrote in a Reddit post. Under the post, fans noted other apparently game-breaking items Epic had already returned to the vault, Epic’s term for their item-balancing holding pen: the Zapotron, a laser sniper; the wall dynamo, an electric wall trap; a smoke grenade; a jump pad. One player wrote that Epic should focus on “fixing gameplay issues and less content for the sake of content.” Another: “I’d be happy with some weapons that have a 0% chance of appearing in most matches.”

It sounds like a basic conversation over whether a game developer should change a game’s “meta,” a term describing a game’s popular strategies. That’s partly true, but what Fornite players also draw lines between “fun, light-hearted chaos” and “game-breaking and disorienting.”

Fortnite drops are randomized, which means that item balance is a tricky topic. Two equally matched players might not face the same type of RNG luck. On the other hand, when these game-breaking weapons appear in the later parts of the game, players more familiar with them will have a leg up over players who aren’t used to Fortnite’s end game. To quote Kotaku Deputy Editor Patricia Hernandez, “Often, I’ll forget I have the spicy new weapon in my inventory, because in the middle of a hectic situation, it’s much easier to default to an assault rifle, shotgun, or sniper rifle. These are known quantities that I know how to control, and in a free-for-all where you only have one life, experimenting with the strange new thingy isn’t always the most prudent choice.”

Since just a few months after Fortnite Battle Royale’s release, a vocal minority of players have been complaining that it’s just got too much stuff and, because of that, Fortnite’s endgame is hard to balance. When players stay alive long enough, they get access to rare, super-powerful weapons. Those weapons and items can be pretty maddening to counter.. Players argue that the game needs more weapon balance—which is difficult when Epic introduces over-powered X-factors like the submachine gun. Players have different lines for “too much”: One on /r/FortniteBR said of the uber-defense potion, “The minishield and campfire were nice addition but the new Chug Jug? I don’t know.” Another player said that new guns like the hand canon aren’t compelling compared to bread-and-butter shotguns, for example. On Twitter, a few players have complained that Fortnite’s developers should just keep the game as-is and stop adding new items. In a living game like Fortnite, mastery is never fully attained: the game changes too often, and players constantly have to account for new and unbalanced weapons and strategies. One week, players might be able to fire off two extremely powerful shotguns in a row. The next week, that strategy might be gone, but now there’s a chance your enemy could instantly build a powerful fort at their feet.

Under these (many, many) threads questioning whether Fortnite is too item abundant, lots of players resoundingly answer “no.” All Epic Games is doing is keeping Fortnite fresh, they argue. On top of that, they say, if you’re not competitive against a little chaos, you’re not that great a Fortnite player. A post on Epic Games’ forum about the bush costume summed up this argument nicely:

I love the [bush disguise] and love the fun quirky attitude of this game.

There are too many CoD [Call of Duty] type of games as is and hope this one never tries to be that style of game.

Fortnite embraces chaos and, instead of making it feel frustrating and over-serious, stuffs it into a grenade and calls it a “boogie bomb.” Epic’s dedication to keeping the game kinetic means there’s always a chance that they’ll introduce a weapon that increases my win chances—for example, I’ve had good luck with the new remote explosives. That way, I won’t have to rely on perfect aim all the time to have a leg up. I can innovate with what Epic dishes out.

It’s also worth noting that these regular content updates keep the game interesting for its enormous, ever-growing population of YouTubers and Twitch streamers, who always have new things to make videos about.

Reached for comment about whether Fortnite should feel streamlined and simple or full of fun, chaos-inducing items—and how they’ll balance the game going forward—a representative at Epic Games responded, “We will and can put items into the vault and take them out as needed. We think that will not only keep things fresh, but also will allow us to take the time to rework items based on player sentiment, or if we think something needs a little tweaking.”

That said, sometimes, a little chaos is just too much. Players want some vestige of control over whether they live or die—even if it’s tiny. That means being able to see threats, dodge attacks and construct forts to stay safe. It’s a low bar, but some items removed from the game didn’t clear it. The now-removed guided missile, for example, didn’t give victims enough opportunity to stay alive. Opponents could direct it wherever they wanted and it could just explode forts, killing targets. That’s chaotic, sure, but also, plain broken.

Source:-https://kotaku.com/some-fortnite-players-worry-the-game-is-becoming-overst-1825394749

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Capcom reminds us why “games as-a service” suck, announces end of Puzzle Fighter https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/capcom-reminds-us-why-games-as-a-service-suck-announces-end-of-puzzle-fighter.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/capcom-reminds-us-why-games-as-a-service-suck-announces-end-of-puzzle-fighter.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:12:21 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63738 Capcom reminds us why “games as-a service” suck, announces end of Puzzle Fighter The games-as-a-service graveyard grew one larger this week, as Capcom’s Puzzle Fighter reboot received an official “sunset” announcement on Friday. The iOS and Android port of the ’90s puzzle series will have its in-game store shut down on Monday, April 23, and […]

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Capcom reminds us why “games as-a service” suck, announces end of Puzzle Fighter

The games-as-a-service graveyard grew one larger this week, as Capcom’s Puzzle Fighter reboot received an official “sunset” announcement on Friday. The iOS and Android port of the ’90s puzzle series will have its in-game store shut down on Monday, April 23, and its servers will follow suit on July 31—meaning the game will have been playable for only eight months after its late-November launch.

That’s because the new, free-to-play Puzzle Fighter includes an always-online requirement so that players can be subjected to the timers and loot-box systems applied to both its single-player and multiplayer modes. Capcom’s announcement did not in any way hint to a patch that would let the game work in a wholly offline mode, nor did it hint to any open-sourcing of its content so that dedicated players could, say, prop the game’s bones up via DIY servers.

Friday’s announcement also didn’t reference the fact that this game’s reboot recently received PEGI ratings (Europe’s equivalent of the ESRB) for PC and consoles. And the language here doesn’t give us much hope for a non-mobile port of the Columns-like, match-gems puzzle update. Instead, the post blames the mobile version’s cancellation on Capcom Vancouver “dedicating its focus to our flagship Dead Rising franchise.”

Puzzle Fighter is thus destined to join a growing graveyard of games that relied entirely on live-server environments—and leave their players in the dust when the servers shut down. Puzzle Fighter’s plight is admittedly a little easier to appreciate, given that it launched as a free-to-play product in a mobile marketplace where one-time purchases of $5 or $10 are uncommon. Meaning, this situation doesn’t feel quite as egregious a shutdown as the retail-priced likes of Evolve and Battleborn.

Still, in addition to subscribing to the poisonous loot-box economic model—with specific-character purchases being time-limited—Capcom’s game also went the disgusting route of requiring access to “photos, media, and files” in order to operate (as opposed to siloing that kind of system access for those who didn’t want Puzzle Fighter rooting around their files). Honestly, Puzzle Fighter’s mobile updates and tweaks seemed mostly designed to drive players to accumulate as many extra characters as possible, as the game added “support characters” to the puzzle battling. With fewer unlocked characters, a player’s support strategy options were far more limited, but they mostly worked out to a punishment for those who didn’t play by the loot-box and microtransaction rules.

The last just-pay-once version of the series, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, is currently available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It’s unclear whether Xbox’s backwards-compatible drive was stymied specifically because of Capcom’s plans to bring the newer Puzzle Fighter to newer consoles; it’s also unclear whether that 360 version will ever be patched to operate on Xbox One consoles.

Source:-https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/04/capcom-reminds-us-why-games-as-a-service-suck-announces-end-of-puzzle-fighter/

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LG G7 ThinQ will come with dedicated Google Assistant button https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/lg-g7-thinq-will-come-dedicated-google-assistant-button.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/lg-g7-thinq-will-come-dedicated-google-assistant-button.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 07:00:45 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63735 LG G7 ThinQ will come with dedicated Google Assistant button The upcoming LG G7 ThinQ smartphone will have a unique, physical connection to Google Assistant. The flagship phone, slated to be unveiled in a New York event on May 2, will sport a dedicated hardware button specifically for Google’s digital assistant, according to people familiar […]

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LG G7 ThinQ will come with dedicated Google Assistant button

The upcoming LG G7 ThinQ smartphone will have a unique, physical connection to Google Assistant.

The flagship phone, slated to be unveiled in a New York event on May 2, will sport a dedicated hardware button specifically for Google’s digital assistant, according to people familiar with the smartphone. The Google Assistant button will be on the left side of the phone, while the power button is on the right. The fingerprint reader remains on the back.

The G7 ThinQ is the first smartphone to commit a physical button to Google. It follows a similar strategy employed by Samsung, which placed a specific physical button to call up its Bixby assistant.

The easy access to Google Assistant is part of the broader push by LG to sell artificial intelligence as a bigger differentiator. The use of AI has been a key theme for LG this year, from the integration of Google Assistant to its televisions, to the use of AI to recognize images shot by the V30S ThinQ’s camera.

It’s not the only one — touting artificial intelligence capabilities has been the trend du jour of the tech world. Companies like Huawei and Samsung talk about AI in their products, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed during his Congressional testimony that AI would help rid his social network of fake and harmful content.

Like the V30S, there will be unique custom LG commands that you can ask of Google Assistant.

The G7 ThinQ’s Google Assistant button can’t be reprogrammed to call up another app, similar to the Samsung Bixby button. That will likely irk users who prefer to choose which app that extra button can activate.

An LG spokesman declined to comment on the story, only pointing to the teaser announcement for the phone.

Google Assistant has long been a core part of many Android phones — you typically long press the home button to call it up. But this marks a more aggressive push to get people to use the digital assistant. You could also squeeze the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to call up the assistant.

Google is in a battle to make its assistant a key part of our lives, pushing it in televisions, smartphones and its Google Home family of smart speakers. On the other side is Amazon and its Alexa assistant, found in its Echo speakers and a host of products ranging from cars to refrigerators.

LG, meanwhile, is in a war for relevancy. The predecessor to the G7 ThinQ, the G6, was a flop in the face of the redesigned Galaxy S8, and LG badly needs a phone that can turn some heads. The company has shifted its strategy to include more moderate updates like the LG V30S ThinQ.

A leak from mobile tipster Evan Blass shows a smartphone that emulates the iPhone X notch, like so many other Android phones this year. At least with the Google Assistant button, there’s one trait that lets it stand out from the pack.

The story originally ran at 5 a.m. PT.

Update, 1:35 p.m. PT: To include additional background on the Pixel and an LG response.

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Source:-https://www.cnet.com/news/lg-g7-thinq-will-come-with-dedicated-google-assistant-button/

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Android Circuit: New Galaxy Note Confirmed, OnePlus 6 Leaks, Samsung Patents ‘iPhone X Style’ Notch https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/android-circuit-new-galaxy-note-confirmed-oneplus-6-leaks-samsung-patents-iphone-x-style-notch.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/android-circuit-new-galaxy-note-confirmed-oneplus-6-leaks-samsung-patents-iphone-x-style-notch.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 06:54:51 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63732 Android Circuit: New Galaxy Note Confirmed, OnePlus 6 Leaks, Samsung Patents ‘iPhone X Style’ Notch Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the Samsung Galaxy Notch, Note 9 details confirmed, the S9 beats the iPhone X, the Nokia 7 Plus release […]

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Android Circuit: New Galaxy Note Confirmed, OnePlus 6 Leaks, Samsung Patents ‘iPhone X Style’ Notch

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the Samsung Galaxy Notch, Note 9 details confirmed, the S9 beats the iPhone X, the Nokia 7 Plus release date, OnePlus 6 photo samples leak, Android’s gesture-based future, Oreo’s market share, a patent for the under-the-screen fingerprint reader, and Razer hits Best Buy.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).

The Samsung Galaxy Notch

Samsung has been hard at work on a way to increase the screen to bezel ratio of its smartphones. Until it can hide everything under the glass and still have the glass act as a screen, there’s one solution on the market that everyone is following. Yes… Samsung is thinking about a Galaxy Notch, as I reported earlier this week:

The notch that was started by Sharp and Essential, but will forever be associated with Apple, continues its march into the flagship form factor. To be fair, everyone is following the same design trends of maximizing frontal area while minimising visible bezels. There’s not much else you can do – and with Google offering native software support in Android for screen cut outs this is the way forward, at least until more technology can be packed under an active display and the notch can be summarily deleted.

Galaxy Note 9 Has A New Crown

Meanwhile the South Korean company has managed to have the Galaxy Note 9 confirmed. Thanks to a number of leaks we have three key details. The headline feature (an under the screen fingerprint reader), the key specification change (a 4000 mAh battery), and the promise of a codename (‘Crown’). Let’s add it all up:

Uber-leaker Evan Blass has revealed Samsung’s codename for the Galaxy Note 9 (SM-N960U) is “Crown”. If ever a codename was designed to exude confidence and status, this is it. And as the leaks continue to break through Samsung’s famous Swiss Cheese security, it is easy to see why.

Just last week mysterious leaker Ice Universe (who broke the Galaxy Note 8 design, attained the first real-world photos of the Galaxy S8 and nailed every single detail of the Galaxy S9) revealed the Galaxy Note 9 will be the first mass-market smartphone to feature an in-display fingerprint reader as well as a huge 4,000 mAh battery.

Forbes’ Gordon Kelly has more.

S9 Beats iPhone X In Durability Tests

Sitting ahead of the rest of the smartphone pack, including Apple’s iPhone, is Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. The latest look at the durability of your handset comes from Consumer Report and is covered by SamMobile.

Samsung’s efforts to make the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ faster and more durable and equipping them with fantastic stereo speakers seem to have paid off, at least when it comes to Consumer Reports’ smartphone rankings. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ sit at the top of the ratings at Consumer Reports thanks to their impressive performance in the durability, speed, and sound categories. Not surprising, given these are the segments in which Samsung’s latest flagships offer the most substantial upgrades, in addition to the primary camera.

Source:-https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2018/04/20/android-google-news-samsung-galaxys9-s9plus-galaxynotch-oneplus6-nokia7plus/#3642977a269b

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Apple Loop: New iPhone Cancelled, Surprising 2018 iPhone Pricing Leaks, Apple Fights For Your Trust https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/apple-loop-new-iphone-cancelled-surprising-2018-iphone-pricing-leaks-apple-fights-for-your-trust.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/technology/apple-loop-new-iphone-cancelled-surprising-2018-iphone-pricing-leaks-apple-fights-for-your-trust.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 06:44:10 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63729 Apple Loop: New iPhone Cancelled, Surprising 2018 iPhone Pricing Leaks, Apple Fights For Your Trust Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the cancellation of the iPhone X, start of production of the new iPhone X screen, how much your new iPhone will cost, first reviews […]

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Apple Loop: New iPhone Cancelled, Surprising 2018 iPhone Pricing Leaks, Apple Fights For Your Trust

Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the cancellation of the iPhone X, start of production of the new iPhone X screen, how much your new iPhone will cost, first reviews of the iPhone 8 Product (Red), external GPU performance notes under macOS, Apple’s war over trust, and questioning what ‘space grey’ actually is.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Why Apple Can Cancel The iPhone X

Most iPhones models stay in Apple’s portfolio for a number of years, but when you look at all the information doing out this week, it’s clear that the iPhone X, Apple’s current flagship – is going to be dropped from the line-up in September for a replacement 5.8 inch ‘X2’, and not even be given the chance of being the lower priced entry-level model. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly explains the cancellation:

Whereas all previous leaks claimed Apple would launch an iPhone X-inspired entry-level model at $799, Kuo states Apple has been able to produce it for just $550. This would be a stunning breakthrough. The new model in question not only carries the same core design as the iPhone X, but increases the screen size to 6.1-inches and features Face ID facial recognition.

…With Apple also slashing the price of a second generation iPhone X and releasing a new top-of-the-range iPhone X Plus at the original’s $999 price point, this explains why there is no longer room for Apple to continue to iPhone X for a second year – as it has done so successfully with past iPhone models.

More here on Forbes.

New iPhone X Screen Production Begins

Production on the OLED screens for the next generation of iPhones is set to start next month. The OLED screens for both the iPhone X replacement and the new phablet-sized variant will once more be supplied by Samsung. I wonder how many Apple have ordered?

Samsung had previously reduced its OLED output because of the impact of one supplier reducing its order during Q1 2018. Widely assumed to be Apple reacting to the slower sales and demand for the iPhone X, the restarting of production suggests that Apple is looking to build up a significant level of stock ahead of the launch of the new devices. This would avoid the six-week waiting time many iFans experienced when ordering the iPhone X after the 2017 launch.

It also assumes that Apple has correctly predicted the demand for its new portfolio.

New iPhone Pricing Shows Expensive Portfolio

Apple CEO Tim Cook looks set to continue his drive to keep iPhone revenue as high as possible by maximizing the margins on this year’s iPhone, even if reduces market share and unit sales. Pricing details have been discussed in the Economic Daily News. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:

When Apple releases its 2018 iPhones there will be no iPhone 9 or iPhone 9 Plus. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were editions for their well-worn designs. Instead, Apple will introduce three new iPhone X-inspired models:

iPhone X SE (new model) – $799; iPhone X (second generation) – $899; iPhone X Plus (new model) – $999.

Yes, entry-level pricing for these new iPhones will increase $100 with the iPhone X SE (also dubbed the ‘iPhone SE2’ by some – an LCD-based, single camera version of the iPhone X), but the second generation iPhone X will decrease by $100 to make room for a larger and top of the range 6.5-inch ‘iPhone X Plus’ that remains just under $1,000.

Presumably these are for the ‘entry level’ models with limited storage. You want some heft for your 4K videos? Add another $150-$200. More here on Forbes.

First Review Of The iPhone 8 Product (Red)

Last week saw Apple launch a reworked iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus under the charitable Product(Red) branding. As expected they have a slightly different shade of red to accommodate the wireless charging technology, but the most visible change in this Product(Red) device is the front fascia – the switch from white to black makes all the difference. David Phelan takes his first look at the handset:

Many people will right now be saying, ‘I told you so,’ with some smugness today. Last year’s (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus had a white front, like the silver and gold finish models. Not everybody liked this, it’s fair to say and made clear Apple should have gone for a black frame, as found the black and jet black iPhone 7.

Personally, I always prefer phones which have light-colored front faces around the screen. True, when the screen is off it highlights the blackness of the display, but when it’s on it makes the colors look brighter – though I suspect this is an optical illusion. Anyway, despite that, I’m won over by the new design which looks tremendous, the darkness of the red complementing the dark frame of the display.

Source:-https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2018/04/20/apple-news-headlines-iphonex-iphone-cancel-price-release-productred-review/#654b091df861

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Only ‘War’ Could Stop China From Controlling South China Sea, U.S. Military Commander Says https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/only-war-could-stop-china-from-controlling-south-china-sea-u-s-military-commander-says.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/only-war-could-stop-china-from-controlling-south-china-sea-u-s-military-commander-says.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 06:35:11 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63724 Only ‘War’ Could Stop China From Controlling South China Sea, U.S. Military Commander Says The head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command told lawmakers that China has become powerful enough to enforce its vast territorial claims across the disputed South China Sea and only an armed conflict would be able to stop this. Navy Admiral Philip […]

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Only ‘War’ Could Stop China From Controlling South China Sea, U.S. Military Commander Says

The head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command told lawmakers that China has become powerful enough to enforce its vast territorial claims across the disputed South China Sea and only an armed conflict would be able to stop this.

Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson, who has been nominated for head of U.S. Pacific Command, submitted the written remarks for his hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. He said that China’s expanding military presence, including secret island bases, in the waters of the Asia Pacific have given its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a step toward total dominance of the region, where countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest China’s expansive, self-proclaimed maritime borders.

“Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania. The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants,” Davidson wrote.

“In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” he added.

China has particularly intensified its presence in relation to Taiwan, whose government was driven from the mainland after a communist uprising in 1949. China still claims the breakaway island nation as part of its own and has warned against U.S. efforts to normalize relations, which were officially dropped in 1972. Washington continues to sell weapons to Taiwan, and, last month, President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows and encourages official visits between the U.S. and Taiwan. The move caused outrage in Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasized that he was prepared to unify the two governments by force if necessary and last week attended the country’s largest-ever naval parade, which included the Type 001 Liaoning, China’s only aircraft carrier. He then ordered live-fire drills held Wednesday in the Taiwan Strait that divides the rivals.

That same day, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Liu Jieyi traveled to Taiwan to dispell any notions of “Taiwan independence,” and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters “There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an indispensable part of China’s territory.”

China’s regional military posture has longed irked the U.S. and its allies, including Australia. Canberra claimed Friday that their vessels were challenged by Chinese ships traveling through the South China Sea, but Hua dismissed the reports, calling the interaction “professional” during a regular press conference.

One of China’s own allies, however, may also be growing frustrated with Beijing’s growing military power. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has praised Xi and even joked about making the Philippines a province of China, but his top diplomat warned the government may lodge a complaint against Beijing if photos obtained by The Philippine Daily Inquirer purporting to show military installations being constructed on the nearby Spratly Islands proved to be true.

“Filing a protest is one of the diplomatic actions being considered, pending a confirmation from the defense department,” Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano said, adding that the Philippines has request other Spratly claimants remove any defense developments on the islands, according to Reuters.

“Many claimants are putting embankments, radar, and other defensive mechanisms, the challenge now is how to stop it and roll it back,” he added.

Source:-http://www.newsweek.com/us-military-commander-only-war-could-stop-china-controlling-south-sea-895666

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The migrant caravan’s next steps may be an even tougher journey https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/migrant-caravans-next-steps-may-even-tougher-journey.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/migrant-caravans-next-steps-may-even-tougher-journey.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 06:26:32 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63720 The migrant caravan’s next steps may be an even tougher journey They stowed away on trains, slept in shelters and marched in protests as they trekked across Mexico. Soon hundreds of migrants from Central America will find out whether it was worth it. Members of the caravan have just started reaching the border, and a […]

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The migrant caravan’s next steps may be an even tougher journey

They stowed away on trains, slept in shelters and marched in protests as they trekked across Mexico.

Soon hundreds of migrants from Central America will find out whether it was worth it.

Members of the caravan have just started reaching the border, and a larger group of hundreds of migrants is days away, organizers say. Many in the caravan say they plan to turn themselves in to US authorities and ask for asylum.

The migrants say they’re fleeing violence and poverty in Central America and hope they’ll find safety and security in the United States.

It’s been weeks since word of their journey sparked the ire of President Donald Trump and spurred a decision to deploy the National Guard to the US-Mexico border.

And as more migrants near the border, there’s little doubt we’ll see a fresh round of political ripples. Here are some key questions to keep in mind:

Wait — didn’t the caravan dissolve?

Some individuals and smaller groups have split off along the way. The largest contingent is now much smaller than it was at the outset, when about 1,200 migrants from Central America convened at Mexico’s southern border weeks ago. After a recent head count by organizers, that group numbered closer to 600.

And that’s typical. The annual pilgrimage, a march with religious roots organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras since 2010, normally shrinks as it travels north.

This year, US and Mexican officials offered different explanations for the group’s decreasing size. Trump tweeted that the caravan had “largely broken up” thanks to Mexico’s strong immigration laws. Mexico’s foreign minister countered that the group dispersed on its own — and that pressure from north of the border had nothing to do with it.

But the bottom line is this: Hundreds of migrants are still in the caravan heading toward the US-Mexico border.

Is what they’re doing legal?

Yes. While Mexican officials deported about 400 participants in the caravan for violating their country’s immigration laws, they gave others 20-day permits to remain in the country.

The government also gave some migrants the option of seeking asylum in Mexico, setting up information tables at caravan stops to help guide them through the process. Some decided to accept the offer and now plan to stay.

Those continuing north say they’re not planning to sneak across the border. They intend to turn themselves in to US authorities and ask for asylum.

It’s not illegal to come to another country without papers and ask for asylum. International law requires countries to consider such claims.

What does it mean to ask for asylum?

Asylum is a protected status that allows people fleeing persecution to live legally in another country. But it’s much harder to get than it sounds. In order to qualify for asylum in the United States, applicants must prove they have faced persecution in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, national origin, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

What are the chances migrants in the caravan will get asylum?

Pretty slim. But it’s impossible to predict how any one case will go. A number of factors contribute to whether someone wins asylum, including how much evidence they have with them to prove their case and which judge is hearing it.

Looking at national statistics gives a good sense of how tough those cases can be to win — particularly for people from Central America, who often have a hard time meeting the requirements.

More than three quarters of immigrants seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala between 2011 and 2016 lost their cases, according to immigration court statistics published by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

A large number of people in this year’s caravan are from Honduras. Among the reasons they’ve given CNN for fleeing the country: widespread gang violence, domestic violence, poverty, political repression after a contested presidential election, and discrimination against the transgender community.

Is the current asylum system working in the US?

Not at all, according to critics on both ends of the political spectrum.

Immigrant rights advocates argue the system is engineered to send as many people back to their home countries as possible, no matter what threats they face.

The Trump administration has taken a stance long advocated by immigration hard-liners, who argue that existing asylum procedures in the United States are rife with loopholes that essentially give people who claim fear of persecution a free pass into the country.

“This system is currently subject to rampant abuse and fraud,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in October. “And as this system becomes overloaded with fake claims, it cannot deal effectively with just claims.” 

Recently, Sessions has taken steps to exert his authority over the immigration courts and change the way asylum cases are decided.

Advocates maintain that the vast majority of asylum claims are legitimate, and that stacking the deck against immigrants fleeing dangerous situations is immoral and contrary to international law.

What happens to people in the caravan once they reach the border?

We won’t know for sure until they get there. But asylum seekers generally follow a few steps once they’re in custody:
• A credible fear screening — This interview with an immigration official is the first step in the asylum process. If an asylum officer finds that a person’s fear of persecution is credible, the case is referred to an immigration judge.

• Detention — This could last for days, months or even years, depending on the case. Adults traveling alone could be transported to detention centers across the United States. Families are most likely to be held in Texas, where there are two family immigrant detention centers.

• Immigration court — This is where asylum seekers will make their case, often facing tough odds. And there’s no guarantee they’ll have lawyers to help them. In these administrative courts, immigrants don’t have a right to an attorney.

• Release from custody — Sometimes, people with pending asylum cases are released on parole. Sometimes, they remain detained until their cases are complete. Advocates recently sued the Trump administration, arguing that adult asylum seekers are now being detained at an alarming rate to deter others from seeking refuge in the United States.

Trump has decried the practice of letting immigrants with pending cases out of detention — and he’s vowed his administration will put an end to the policy he derides as “catch and release.” But officials haven’t revealed publicly what they plan to do when this group of Central Americans arrives.

In recent months, immigrant rights groups have accused the Trump administration of separating immigrant parents from their children as they await asylum proceedings. Officials have said they separate adults from children in custody only “in the interest of the child” — for instance, if there’s a suspicion of human trafficking or if they are unable to confirm the child is traveling with parents or legal guardians. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is investigating the matter.

If immigrants in the caravan lose their asylum cases, the government can order their deportation. If they win, they’ll be allowed to stay. But no matter the outcome, it’s a long road, filled with uncertainty.

Source:-https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/20/us/migrant-caravan-border-arrival-next-steps/index.html

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Leaders approve Prince Charles to succeed queen as Commonwealth head https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/leaders-approve-prince-charles-to-succeed-queen-as-commonwealth-head.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/leaders-approve-prince-charles-to-succeed-queen-as-commonwealth-head.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 06:16:13 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63717 Leaders approve Prince Charles to succeed queen as Commonwealth head Prince Charles was approved as the successor to Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth at a meeting of the group’s heads of government on Friday. “We recognise the role of the queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples,” the Commonwealth leaders said in […]

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Leaders approve Prince Charles to succeed queen as Commonwealth head

Prince Charles was approved as the successor to Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth at a meeting of the group’s heads of government on Friday.

“We recognise the role of the queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples,” the Commonwealth leaders said in a statement. “The next head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.”

There have been calls for the role to be rotated around the 53 member-states, most of which are former British territories, but in recent days the queen, 91, the British government and other leaders have backed Charles, 69.

The Commonwealth evolved out of the British empire in the mid-20th century, and the queen has been its head since her reign began in 1952. Charles had long been expected to take on the role even though it is not strictly hereditary.

The queen, who celebrates her 92nd birthday on Saturday, had made clear her preference for Charles to succeed her.

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” she said at the formal opening of the leaders’ meeting on Thursday.

Charles himself had also made an informal pitch for the role this week, saying in a speech: “the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember.”

This week’s London meeting has been widely assumed to be the last that the queen will attend in person. The meetings are only held every two years, the next one is in Rwanda and the monarch has not taken a long-haul flight for several years now as she cuts back on her official duties.

The summit has seen thousands of delegates from across the globe descend on London, debating issues such as the environment, women’s rights and trade.

Britain has sought to use its hosting of the event as a chance to reinvigorate the loose alliance of countries, which have a combined population of 2.4 billion people, eyeing increased trade and global influence as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Source:-https://www.yahoo.com/news/leaders-approve-prince-charles-succeed-queen-commonwealth-head-114649562.html

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Russia: US did not violate red lines during Syria strikes https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/russia-us-not-violate-red-lines-syria-strikes.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/russia-us-not-violate-red-lines-syria-strikes.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 06:06:31 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63714 Russia: US did not violate red lines during Syria strikes Russia’s foreign minister said Friday that the U.S. sought out and respected Moscow’s positions in Syria when it launched its air strikes last week. Lavrov noted that despite the escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington, the U.S. made sure it didn’t harm any Russian personnel […]

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Russia: US did not violate red lines during Syria strikes

Russia’s foreign minister said Friday that the U.S. sought out and respected Moscow’s positions in Syria when it launched its air strikes last week.

Lavrov noted that despite the escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington, the U.S. made sure it didn’t harm any Russian personnel and positions during the strikes against the regime of President Bashar Assad following a suspected chemical attack on the town of Douma.

“We told them where our red lines were, including the geographical red lines,” Lavrov told Russian state television. “The results have shown that they haven’t crossed those lines.”

Moscow had warned the U.S. before the strike that it could hit back if the U.S. actions jeopardize Russian servicemen in Syria, and the allies had given Russia an advance warning to make sure no Russians were in the line of fire.

[U.S. accuses Russia of removing evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria]

Lavrov also revealed that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin discussed the possibility of visiting each other’s country when the U.S. president rang up Russian counterpart last month to congratulate him on his re-election.

Lavrov that Trump indicated he could make a reciprocal trip to Russia if Putin were able to accept his invitation to the White House.

Previously, both the White House and the Kremlin had only revealed that Trump had invited Putin to the White House during the same call on March 20.

Lavrov says the Trump administration hasn’t followed up on the offer and Russia has urged the U.S. to discuss specifics about such a meeting.

He added that Russian officials “don’t want to be too obtrusive, but don’t want to be impolite.”

“President Putin is ready for such a meeting,” Lavrov said.

Moscow’s hopes for better ties with Washington under Trump have withered amid the ongoing investigations into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Russia-U.S. relations have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In recent weeks, tensions have risen further over the March poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, which Britain has blamed on Russia. The U.S., Britain and other Western allies responded by expelling over 150 Russian diplomats, and Moscow, which has fervently denied the British accusations, responded in kind.

Further stoking tensions was the purported chemical attack in Douma on April 7. That prompted the U.S., Britain and France to launch a missile strike on Syria. Russia condemned the strike on its ally as an “act of aggression.”

The Pentagon said that all 105 missiles fired at three Syrian chemical facilities reached their targets, while the Russian military said Syrian air defenses downed 71 out of 103 U.S. missiles.

Lavrov, who said Russia will soon offer evidence to back up its claims, added that Moscow may reconsider a pledge it gave a decade ago not to provide Syria with sophisticated long-range S-300 missiles in light of the strikes.

“We no longer have such moral obligations,” Lavrov said.

Asked about the danger of a Russia-U.S. military clash, Lavrov voiced hope that military leaders realize that “any actions that could provoke a direct clash between the Russian and the U.S. militaries are unacceptable.”

“I’m 100 percent convinced that the military won’t allow it,” Lavrov said, adding that the Russian and U.S. presidents also “bear responsibility before the people which elected them for peace and security.”

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source:-https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-trump-promised-to-make-reciprocal-visit-to-moscow/2018/04/20/8d30841e-449e-11e8-b2dc-b0a403e4720a_story.html?utm_term=.43cb38afa8d2

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Israeli troops kill four more Palestinians in border protest https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/israeli-troops-kill-four-palestinians-border-protest.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/israeli-troops-kill-four-palestinians-border-protest.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:58:54 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63711 Israeli troops kill four more Palestinians in border protest Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, bringing to 35 the death toll in recent weeks among Palestinian protesters demanding the right to return to their former homeland. Gazans used catapults and sling-shots to launch stones at Israeli forces, and some […]

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Israeli troops kill four more Palestinians in border protest

Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, bringing to 35 the death toll in recent weeks among Palestinian protesters demanding the right to return to their former homeland.

Gazans used catapults and sling-shots to launch stones at Israeli forces, and some Palestinians brought wire-cutters to cut through the border fence, ignoring leaflets dropped by the Israeli military warning residents not to approach the frontier.

The deaths included a 15-year-old boy shot dead in northern Gaza, Palestinian health officials said, adding that 156 people were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov wrote on Twitter: “It is outrageous to shoot at children! How does the killing of a child in Gaza today help peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing. Children must be protected from violence, not exposed to it.”

In response, a retired former Israeli army spokesman, Peter Lerner, tweeted suggestions to Mladenov, including: “Please go to Gaza, engage Hamas and get them to stop sending people to the fence.”

The planned six-week protest campaign reached its half-way point on Friday, which saw smaller crowds than in recent weeks. As the numbers peaked during the afternoon Israeli soldiers called out warnings in Arabic over loudspeakers to anyone who approached the border fence.

Black plumes of smoke from piles of burning tires billowed over the area, and stretcher-bearers rushed to carry the wounded to first aid posts.

The protest began on March 30, and has seen tent encampments spring up near the Israeli-imposed restricted zone along the 40km (25-mile) border fence. The protesters have revived demands for Palestinian refugees to regain their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.

The protests are scheduled to culminate on May 15, when, according to Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, the Gaza scenes would be replicated elsewhere on Israel’s frontiers.

“I say to our people everywhere, be prepared for a human deluge on all of the borders of Palestine, inside the occupied land and outside the occupied land,” he said on a visit to one of the border camps. “I say to the (Israeli occupiers) your time is gone.”

Israel’s use of live fire has drawn international criticism but the Israeli government says it is protecting its borders and takes such action when protesters come too close to the border fence.

The Israeli military said that around 3,000 Palestinians were involved in the latest protest, and that its troops responded “with riot dispersal means and are firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist militant group which rules Gaza, of staging riots and trying to carry out attacks. Hamas denies this. Although organizers say the main protest is intended to be peaceful, some protesters have advanced toward the border from the encampments to hurl stones and burning tires near the fence.

On Friday they fitted kites with cans of flammable liquid, which they flew across the border to start fires in Israel.

“We aim to distract the soldiers from shooting and wounding or killing our people,” said Mohammad Abu Mustafa, 17, who lost his right leg a few months ago after being shot by an Israeli soldier.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry tweeted a photograph of one kite daubed with a swastika flying through the sky trailing flames.

PACKED IN

More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.

The protest campaign, dubbed The Great March of Return, is leading up to May 15, when Palestinians mark Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, commemorating their displacement around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948.

It takes place at a time of growing frustration over the prospects for an independent Palestinian state. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for several years and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories have expanded.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last year to recognize disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital further fueled Palestinian anger.

In an apparent sign of concern over the bloodshed on the border, the Israeli-American Hollywood actress Natalie Portman announced she was pulling out of a ceremony in Israel to accept a million-dollar prize because of “distressing” events in the country.

In a statement, the Genesis Prize Foundation quoted a representative for Portman as saying: “Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”

It gave no further details of her reasons. But the foundation said it “admires her humanity, and respects her right to publicly disagree with the policies of the government of Israel”.

Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev, suggested the actress was supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to isolate Israel economically over its treatment of Palestinians. Israel sees the BDS movement as an attempt to delegitimize it.

The Genesis Prize is awarded to individuals for excellence in their professional fields and “who inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values”.

Source:-https://www.yahoo.com/news/israeli-troops-kill-four-more-palestinians-border-protest-020903015.html

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Kim Jong Un: North Korea no longer needs nuclear tests, state-run media reports https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/kim-jong-un-north-korea-no-longer-needs-nuclear-tests-state-run-media-reports.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/world-news/kim-jong-un-north-korea-no-longer-needs-nuclear-tests-state-run-media-reports.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:51:30 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63708 Kim Jong Un: North Korea no longer needs nuclear tests, state-run media reports North Korea says its quest for nuclear weapons is “complete” and it “no longer needs” to test its weapons capability, a significant development ahead of diplomatic engagement with both South Korea and the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said […]

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Kim Jong Un: North Korea no longer needs nuclear tests, state-run media reports

North Korea says its quest for nuclear weapons is “complete” and it “no longer needs” to test its weapons capability, a significant development ahead of diplomatic engagement with both South Korea and the United States.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday that “under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission,” as quoted by the state-run KCNA news agency.

The announcement appears to signify a remarkable change in policy for Kim, following a relentless pursuit of nuclear and ballistic weapons as a means to ensure his regime’s survival.

It comes just one week before a meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and before a planned historic encounter between Kim and US President Donald Trump — and just weeks after the North Korean leader met Chinese President Xi Jinping on his first official trip outside his country.

The US and South Korea welcomed the news, which they said was a sign of progress and a promising start to upcoming talks.
“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site,” Trump tweeted. “This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”

The US President followed up the tweet with another around four hours later, similarly praising the “progess” being made.
Seoul similarly praised the development, with South Korean Presidential Senior Secretary for Public Relations Yoon Young-chan telling journalists it represented “meaningful progress for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” and said that it would contribute to a “positive environment” for the upcoming talks.

The declaration comes as North Korea continues to make concessions ahead of the talks. Last month Kim told a South Korean delegation that he “understood” the need for joint US-South Korean military drills. Earlier this week he dropped his requirement that US troops leave the Korean peninsula as a precondition for denuclearization.

‘New chapter’ for North Korea

A North Korea source told CNN that Kim has finally decided to open up a new chapter for his nation. Kim has committed himself to the path of denuclearization and will now focus solely on economic growth and improving the national economy, the source said.

The North Korean leader has realized the best path forward is to normalize relations with other countries, the source added. He is finally being recognized by the international community, and this is a historic, timely opportunity, the source said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cautiously welcomed the development. “The only thing that is important is whether or not it will lead to the completely verified and irreversible abolition of nuclear and missiles,” he told reporters. “We would like to keep a close eye on it.”

His Defense Minister, Itsunori Onodera, went one step further, saying that the suspension of nuclear and missile tests was “insufficient” and “not satisfactory,” as it did not mention Pyongyang’s short- and mid-range capabilitiies — the missiles that can reach Japan.

Beijing welcomed the news and pledged to play a “positive” role in bringing lasting peace to the peninsula.

“Achieving denuclearization and sustainable peace in the region is in the interest of people on the peninsula and in the region, and meets the shared expectation of the international community,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

“We hope all relevant parties will move in the same direction and take concrete actions to work toward sustainable peace and common development in the region. China will continue to play a positive role to this end.”

However, analysts stressed caution over Kim’s words, noting that Pyongyang was likely to be seeking something in return.

“The announcement is significant, but you know, whether North Korea is truly serious remains to be seen,” said Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA North Korea analyst.

“They might be looking for freeze-for-freeze deals. They are looking for sanctions relief. So what are we going to give for this freezing of tests?”

Speaking to CNN, Josh Pollack, senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said that the news is Kim’s way of announcing that his country is a fully paid-up member of the nuclear club.

“They have wanted to be seen as an arrived nuclear power for a while and one thing that the other nuclear powers don’t do is test, with the exception of India and Pakistan, no one has done it since World War II, so it’s a sign of immaturity to test and they’re saying: ‘we’re technically mature now, so we don’t need to (test) anymore.'”

“They’re not giving anything up, they’re keeping (their weapons) and that’s the message. It was wrapped in this seeming concession, but it’s not really a concession. (If) they can decide to test after all they can just start doing it again.”

Six points

The change in North Korea’s policy was announced to its citizens via state news agency KCNA. It published a list of six points that emphasized the country had achieved its nuclear objectives.

“We declare solemnly that we faithfully realized the nuclear weaponization” — The first point says the tests were carried out under its “byungjin” policy, a twofold strategy of investing in the economy and the nuclear program. Tests were carried out in sequential order to achieve the country’s aim.

“The nuclear test site in northern area will be discarded” — KCNA said as of Saturday North Korea will no longer conduct nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and to “ensure transparency” the test site would be closed.

“(It’s an) important process for global nuclear disarmament” — North Korea says it’ll work with the international community to halt nuclear testing worldwide.

“We will never use nuclear weapons unless there is a nuclear threat or nuclear provocation to our country” — Nor will North Korea transfer nuclear weapons and technology, KCNA said.

Commitment to “dramatically raise people’s lives” — Development of a “strong socialist economy” will become a priority for the country.

North Korea “will intensify close ties and dialogue” — The country says it’ll improve relations with neighboring countries and the international community to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Six nuclear tests

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test last September deep underground at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in North Hamgyong province. The explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.

North Korea has worked for years to miniaturize a nuclear warhead so it can be fitted atop a long-range missile and survive the heat-intensive process of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Last year, Pyongyang tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile it said could reach the entire US mainland, raising the threat that Kim could realistically follow through on his threat to target the US.

The decision to halt nuclear and missile testing comes just one week before the leaders of South and North Korea are due to meet at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries

The planned encounter follows months of warming relations since Kim held out an olive branch during this year’s New Year’s speech.

The two countries started talking again for the first time in two years via a special phone line, and those talks led to North Korea’s participation in South Korea’s Winter Olympics.

Kim extended an invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-In to go to Pyongyang, and the two agreed to meet next Friday, April 27, at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries. Ahead of the talks, a hotline between the two capitals was reconnected Friday afternoon.

The upcoming face-to-face talks mark an extraordinary shift in relations that deteriorated even further in 2017 as Kim launched a barrage of missile tests and boasted of the success of his nuclear program.

Source:-https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/20/asia/north-korea-closes-nuclear-site/index.html

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NBC News star Chuck Todd on conflicts of interest: ‘That’s my wife. That’s not me https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/nbc-news-star-chuck-todd-on-conflicts-of-interest-thats-my-wife-thats-not-me.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/nbc-news-star-chuck-todd-on-conflicts-of-interest-thats-my-wife-thats-not-me.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:36:12 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63705 NBC News star Chuck Todd on conflicts of interest: ‘That’s my wife. That’s not me NBC News’ Chuck Todd was called out for hypocrisy regarding conflicts of interest during an appearance on WABC’s “Bernie & Sid” radio show on Friday morning, but the “Meet the Press” moderator doesn’t seem to think his wife’s conflicts should […]

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NBC News star Chuck Todd on conflicts of interest: ‘That’s my wife. That’s not me

NBC News’ Chuck Todd was called out for hypocrisy regarding conflicts of interest during an appearance on WABC’s “Bernie & Sid” radio show on Friday morning, but the “Meet the Press” moderator doesn’t seem to think his wife’s conflicts should stick to him.

Todd has been vocal about his disagreement over how Fox News handled mainstream media outrage over Sean Hannity’s relationship with Trump attorney Michael Cohen. However, political commentator Jeffrey Lord has chronicled conflicts of interest surrounding Todd and his wife, who is a Democratic political consultant.

Radio hosts Sid Rosenberg and Bernie McGuirk started their chat with Todd by admitting their friendship with Hannity, which resulted in the “Meet the Press” moderator claiming his beef was with Fox News for not forcing Hannity to explain his relationship with Cohen whenever the subject comes up.

“Just in the same way that any time that I’ve interviewed somebody that my wife has professionally worked for, I let people know,” Todd said.

McGuirk fired back, “Some say you haven’t done that all the time.”

Todd claimed that anyone who would accuse him of not disclosing relationships didn’t do the proper research. It’s safe to assume he was referring to Lord, who penned a story earlier Friday for The American Spectator pointing out Todd’s potential conflicts.

According to Lord, Kristian Todd, who is married to Chuck, worked with Jim Webb on a 2006 Senate campaign in Virginia, though the relationship wasn’t mentioned when Webb appeared on “Meet the Press” in 2017.

Lord also pointed out that the NBC News star’s wife also donated to 2016 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine, and that her company received millions from the Bernie Sanders campaign.

“Todd never felt any need to disclose this during his three recent Kaine interviews on NBC,” Lord wrote. “Todd has never disclosed this business relationship in 11 Sanders interviews this year.”

Rosenberg and McGuirk tried to explain to Todd that he sounded like a hypocrite because of the conflicts surrounding his wife. Todd claimed that NBC was aware of the relationship while playing down the significance.

“That’s my wife. That’s not me,” Todd said. “I think it’s a ridiculous place that we’re in in society that it’s guilt by association.”

Todd said that his wife “didn’t sign up to work at NBC” and they can disagree on political issues without it impacting his job performance. Todd said he doesn’t control his wife’s opinions, calling her an “individual thinker” who is free to do as she pleases.

“You’re trying to sully me because my wife in an individual thinker in her life,” he said.

McGuirk pushed back by saying that critics are simply pointing out a fact when it comes to Todd’s wife and conflicts.

“What my wife does with her money is her business,” Todd said. “Judge me on my work.”

Source:-http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/04/20/nbc-news-star-chuck-todd-on-conflicts-interest-thats-my-wife-thats-not-me.html

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Pressure to Release Comey Memos May Have Backfired on G.O.P. https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/pressure-to-release-comey-memos-may-have-backfired-on-g-o-p.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/pressure-to-release-comey-memos-may-have-backfired-on-g-o-p.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:30:34 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63702 Pressure to Release Comey Memos May Have Backfired on G.O.P. For days, top Republicans in Congress demanded the release of James B. Comey’s memos about President Trump, threatening Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, with a subpoena if he failed to share the highly anticipated documents written by the former F.B.I. director. But if […]

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Pressure to Release Comey Memos May Have Backfired on G.O.P.

For days, top Republicans in Congress demanded the release of James B. Comey’s memos about President Trump, threatening Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, with a subpoena if he failed to share the highly anticipated documents written by the former F.B.I. director.

But if Mr. Trump and his allies believed that Mr. Rosenstein’s refusal would deliver a pretext to call for his firing, as Democrats asserted, his decision to quickly release all the memos late Thursday night foiled that plan. The memos leaked to reporters hours after being delivered to lawmakers in both parties.

And the seven memos, in which Mr. Comey methodically documented his interactions with the president in real time, did little to help Republicans undermine Mr. Comey’s credibility or expose contradictions with his best-selling, tell-all book. Taken together, the 15 pages of detailed notes largely back up the stories that Mr. Comey told in congressional testimony, in the pages of his memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” and during numerous television and radio interviews.

“I’m not quite sure how this improved the strategic posture of those who want to dismantle the special counsel investigation,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. “This is a tactic that has backfired. From what I’ve seen of the Comey memos, they bear out completely the authenticity of his reports and his own credibility.”

Word last spring that Mr. Comey had taken contemporaneous notes of his meetings with Mr. Trump jolted Washington, and for nearly a year, the existence of the still-secret memos cast a shadow over the capital, generating intense speculation about the private details that might be exposed if they were made public. Salacious talk of Russian prostitutes, a request to ease up on the investigation of the president’s national security adviser and a presidential demand for the loyalty of the F.B.I. director all made for bombshell revelations.

But by the time the actual memos appeared, the details were already known, and some Republicans suggested the real import of the memos was that they indicated that there was no obstruction of justice case.

“I don’t know that it was necessarily earth-shattering, the new information that we found,” said Representative Mark Meadows, a conservative Republican of North Carolina. “But if someone is trying to suggest an obstruction of justice case, I would use the memos as one of the exhibits to use in the defense. It didn’t sound like Director Comey was intimidated.”

Members of both parties said Friday that Mr. Comey’s notes mostly repeat his public testimony and are unlikely to drastically change the trajectory of Mr. Trump’s presidency or alter the investigations swirling around him.

The release of the memos showed that Mr. Comey’s recent public statements have barely strayed from the recollections that he put on paper during the months before he was fired by Mr. Trump last May. The memos document how the president sought loyalty from Mr. Comey; asked him to “let go” of the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser; and pressed Mr. Comey to publicly clear him in the Russia inquiry.

In addition, the memos provide more evidence of what Mr. Comey saw as the president’s obsession with the allegations of indecent behavior. Mr. Comey wrote in the memos — as he did in his book — that Mr. Trump repeatedly brought up a supposed encounter with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013.

Democrats said the memos helped establish that Mr. Comey was not a disgruntled employee who made up stories about the president.

“Thanks @HouseGOP for urging release of the Comey memos!” Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, gleefully wrote on Twitter.

Some Republicans continued to assail Mr. Comey, casting doubt on his judgment and suggesting that he had been motivated by resentment over his firing.

In a statement about the memos, the three Republican committee chairmen who had pressed for their release wrote that Mr. Comey never explicitly said in his memos that the president was trying to interfere in the Russia investigation.

“While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation,” they wrote.

Some of the president’s most ardent Republican supporters acknowledged that the previously unreported details in the memos were not likely to emerge as important evidence to counter the narrative that Mr. Comey is offering publicly during his weekslong book tour.

Mr. Meadows and other Republican lawmakers seized on the memos, which were lightly redacted by the Justice Department before they were released, as proof that Mr. Comey had leaked classified information when he gave copies of some to a friend, with permission to read them to a reporter from The New York Times.

The Justice Department’s inspector general is conducting a review of the handling of classified information contained in Mr. Comey’s memos, according to a person briefed on the investigation. The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is expected to dedicate a section of a larger report about the F.B.I.’s decision-making in 2016 to the matter of Mr. Comey’s documents.

Mr. Comey gave copies of at least two of his memos to Daniel C. Richman, a longtime associate outside the F.B.I. Some of the memos were later deemed to contain classified information. In one case, Mr. Comey had personally redacted such information before handing it to Mr. Richman, and in another, the F.B.I. deemed the material classified only after it was in Mr. Richman’s possession.

Mr. Comey has said he shared the memos with Mr. Richman under the assumption that they would be shared with the news media and to put pressure on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation. The inspector general has questioned witnesses about the matter, and F.B.I. agents conducted a search of Mr. Richman’s New York office to ensure that the leak was contained.

The inspector general’s review was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“This is a stain on James Comey’s judgment when it comes to law enforcement matters,” Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said Friday afternoon on CNN. He said Mr. Comey’s decision to leak the memos to his friend “raises serious questions about his judgment and his integrity.”

The president himself continued his criticism late Friday night, writing on Twitter, “James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council?”

Democrats said on Friday that Republicans had failed in their efforts to discredit Mr. Comey’s assertions about the president’s private behavior. They predicted that the memos would help investigators piece together a case against Mr. Trump and his associates.

“The simple fact is they unquestionably show pressure by the president to stymie or stop the investigation, and so they are more evidence of attempts to obstruct justice,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut.

Mr. Blumenthal accused Republicans of trying — with little success — to twist the meaning of the memos.

“They are pretty much raw history, which people can spin to serve their partisan purposes,” he said.

Representative Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican of Pennsylvania who has criticized efforts to undermine the Russia investigation, said both sides were misguided if they thought the release of the full memos would affect the fundamentals of the case.

“There might be some salacious details here,” Mr. Dent said, “but nothing is changing the overall narrative on the Mueller investigation.”

Source:-https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/us/politics/comey-memos-released.html

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The Latest: 2,500 attend public viewing for Barbara Bush https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/latest-2500-attend-public-viewing-barbara-bush.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/latest-2500-attend-public-viewing-barbara-bush.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:22:53 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63699 The Latest: 2,500 attend public viewing for Barbara Bush The Latest on the death of former first lady Barbara Bush (all times local): 5:30 p.m. Officials say around 2,500 people have walked past a casket holding former first lady Barbara Bush during a public viewing at a Houston church. The viewing began at noon Friday […]

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The Latest: 2,500 attend public viewing for Barbara Bush

The Latest on the death of former first lady Barbara Bush (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Officials say around 2,500 people have walked past a casket holding former first lady Barbara Bush during a public viewing at a Houston church.

The viewing began at noon Friday and was continuing until midnight. A line of about 10 to 15 people at a time could be seen walking past the casket fairly quickly on Friday afternoon. The stream was steady, but there were no long lines to get through security screenings.

Some people who walked past the casket paused and bowed their heads while others did the sign of the cross. On each side of the casket, a Secret Service agent stood in silence.

Bush died on Tuesday at age 92.

4:50 p.m.

A family spokesman says former President George H.W. Bush decided at the last minute to greet mourners paying their respects to his wife, Barbara.

Jim McGrath tells The Associated Press that Bush was watching live video from the Houston church where his wife’s casket had arrived early Friday. Hundreds of people had lined up early for a public viewing that started at noon.

McGrath says the former president was “very touched” by the images he saw. McGrath says Bush told his staff that he wanted to go to the church himself . McGrath says, “It was entirely the president’s idea to go there.”

Bush was at the church for about 15 minutes, shaking hands with dozens of people from his wheelchair, near his wife’s casket. The couple were married for 73 years before Barbara Bush died on Tuesday at age 92.

2 p.m.

Former President George H.W. Bush is greeting mourners as they pay their respects and walk past the casket of his wife of 73 years.

The nation’s 41st president was seated in a chair a few feet away from the rose-covered casket Friday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. He and his wife, Barbara, had long worshipped at the church.

The 93-year-old former president shook hands and accepted condolences from well-wishers for about 15 minutes inside the nation’s largest Episcopal church.

Officials say about 1,600 people had paid their respects in about the first hour of public viewing. People attending the service are going through security checks before boarding shuttle buses to travel a few miles to the church.

Mrs. Bush died on Tuesday at age 92.

12:50 p.m.

Hundreds of mourners are filing past the rose-covered casket of former first lady Barbara Bush.

People are commending Bush’s dedication to literacy and education as they pay their final respects Friday during a public viewing at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

She and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, had long have worshipped at the church, where mourners lined up hours ahead of the public event.

The planned 12-hour viewing has drawn a steady stream of people who passed through security checks and then boarded buses outside another church a short distance away. They included teachers and social workers commending Bush’s dedication to education, along with federal politicians.

Many women are wearing blue, Mrs. Bush’s favorite color, and pearls, her go-to neckwear jewelry.

The silver casket is in the sanctuary behind a velvet rope in the nation’s largest Episcopal church.

11:50 a.m.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and his wife are among those paying their respects to former first lady Barbara Bush.

The Republican senator from Texas was among those with early access to the Houston church where a public viewing is being held Friday. Barbara Bush died Tuesday at age 92. She and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, were longtime members of the church.

Cornyn was followed later into St. Martin’s Episcopal Church by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, before hundreds of mourners were beginning to arrive on buses from a staging area a few miles away.

Her funeral is Saturday at the church.

11:45 a.m.

A couple from Washington, D.C., says they decided to come to events celebrating the life of former first lady Barbara Bush to honor her work in education and helping people with disabilities.

Mitchell and Jessica Queener say they were in Houston for work but decided to join scores of people lining up Friday to pay their final respects to Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92. Her body will lie in repose from noon to midnight on Friday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

Jessica Queener works in special education and wears a cochlear implant to help her with her hearing loss. She says Barbara Bush’s work “really resonates with me on a personal level but also professionally.”

They also credited Barbara Bush for being a positive influence on her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Jessica Queener says the federal law “brought me a lot more access to the world that I did not have as a very young child.”

11:15 a.m.

Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill creating a specialty license plate for The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

The governor signed the bill this week, shortly after the death of the former first lady. The plate will be available later this year, and $10 for every new plate sold and every renewal will benefit the hospital.

The plate is expected to raise more than $200,000 annually for the state’s only children’s hospital.

The Kennebunkport community is hosting a memorial for Barbara Bush on Sunday. Bush and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, spent years at their summer home in the town.

11 a.m.

More than 100 people are already standing in line to pay their final respects to former first lady Barbara Bush.

Among them is 74-year-old Lucy Orlando, who traveled from Florida. Originally from Haiti, Orlando says she has admired Barbara Bush for years, especially for her work promoting literacy.

Forty-nine-year-old Varney Johnson also commended the former first lady’s work in supporting literacy efforts. The social worker is originally from Liberia and says he also wanted to thank Mrs. Bush for her son George W. Bush’s work during his presidency to support his home country.

Mrs. Bush died on Tuesday at age 92. A public viewing is scheduled to start at noon Friday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where she and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, regularly attended services.

People attending the public viewing will go through security checks before boarding shuttle buses to travel a few miles to the church.

10:30 a.m.

A spray of flowers covers the closed silver casket of former first lady Barbara Bush in the sanctuary of the Houston church where mourners are waiting to pay their final respects.

People are lining up hours early to attend a public viewing Friday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where Bush and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, regularly attended services.

Many women are wearing blue, Mrs. Bush’s favorite color, and pearls, her go-to neckwear jewelry.

A hearse containing the former first lady’s casket arrived at the nation’s largest Episcopal church before daybreak. Her body will lie in repose from noon to midnight.

An invitation-only funeral is set for Saturday. She’ll be buried later in the day behind her husband’s presidential library at Texas A&M University. The gated plot is in an area surrounded by trees and near a creek where the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Robin, is buried. She died of leukemia in 1953.

12:30 a.m.

As the outpouring of tributes continues for Barbara Bush, the general public can pay its respects to the former first lady at a viewing.

Bush’s body will lie in repose from noon to midnight Friday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church at 717 Sage Road in Houston, the nation’s largest Episcopal church. The public must go to the Second Baptist Church at 6400 Woodway Drive to park and pass through security. The parking lots can be entered from Voss Road.

Metro is providing shuttles to and from St. Martin’s. The parking lot at Second Baptist will open at 10 a.m., and shuttles will start running at 11:30 a.m.

A by-invitation-only funeral is scheduled for Saturday at St. Martin’s.

Bush died Tuesday at her Houston home. She was 92.

Source:-http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/latest-mourners-lining-hours-early-barbara-bush-54611237

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Florida school gunman carried shotgun in guitar case, says ‘sorry’ after 1 wounded, police say https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/florida-school-gunman-carried-shotgun-in-guitar-case-says-sorry-after-1-wounded-police-say.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/florida-school-gunman-carried-shotgun-in-guitar-case-says-sorry-after-1-wounded-police-say.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 05:14:51 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63696 Florida school gunman carried shotgun in guitar case, says ‘sorry’ after 1 wounded, police say A gunman carrying a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire at a Florida high school, wounding one student as other students and teachers piled desks and cabinets against classroom doors to make barricades. The 19-year-old suspect was later arrested […]

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Florida school gunman carried shotgun in guitar case, says ‘sorry’ after 1 wounded, police say

A gunman carrying a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire at a Florida high school, wounding one student as other students and teachers piled desks and cabinets against classroom doors to make barricades.

The 19-year-old suspect was later arrested and apologized as he was led away in handcuffs.

Friday’s shooting at Forest High School in Ocala happened on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence. A 17-year-old boy was taken to a hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening wound to his ankle.

The suspect, Sky Bouche said “sorry,” followed by “It doesn’t matter anyway” to reporters as he was led from the school in handcuffs by several deputies. Authorities said Bouche was a former student at the school.

“I didn’t shoot anyone,” he said to reporters. He ignored most of the other questions until asked what he’d say to the shooting victim. That’s when he said, “sorry.”

The shooting comes just over two months after a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces the death penalty if convicted in that Valentine’s Day shooting.

It also coincided with a nationwide student walkout to protest gun violence on the anniversary of the 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School. The Ocala school had planned its version of a walkout, students said.

Chris Oliver told the Ocala Star-Banner his 16-year-old son, a Forest student, told him the shooting happened near his classroom. The boy told Oliver the shooter stood in a hallway and fired at a closed classroom door. The shooter then dropped the weapon, ran and tried to hide, the boy told his father.

Craig Ham, deputy superintendent of Ocala schools operations, said the gunman carried the shotgun in a guitar case into the school by blending in with students. Ham told reporters the shooter fired at the bottom of a locked classroom door, and pellets struck the victim in the ankle.

Jake Mailhiot’s psychology class had just begun Friday morning when school officials announced a “code red” alert over the intercom.

“You could hear in their voice that this wasn’t a drill,” the 16-year-old junior said.

Prepared for such alerts, students and teachers leapt into action to barricade the classroom’s one door and block the door’s window.

“Our teachers started pushing file cabinets and desks toward the door, and a few friends and I joined in,” Mailhiot said. “We also started tying together some jackets to hang out the window, in case we needed another way out.”

In a photograph Mailhiot shared on social media, the classroom door is invisible behind a tall pile of furniture.

Mailhiot said about 15 people in the classroom waited over 30 minutes to be evacuated by Ocala police. They were instructed to leave with their hands up, he said.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods praised the quick response by the school resource officer, as well as school personnel and first responders. In the Parkland shooting, school resource officer Scot Peterson retired amid accusations he didn’t do enough to confront the Stoneman Douglas gunman.

The Forest resource officer, Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy James Long, “did not hesitate. He went right in,” Woods said at a news conference. Woods said Long heard a “large, loud banging sound” and immediately responded.

The sheriff said the Bouche wasn’t injured, wasn’t fired at and was arrested without resistance.

“Marion County does everything to protect their children,” Woods said.

Afterward, all students were taken by bus with a police escort to First Baptist Church of Ocala, where parents gathered to pick them up, officials said.

Rachael Carter was at the church waiting to be reunited with her daughter, a 10th-grader who turned 16 this week. Carter’s pastor called her when he saw a post on social media.

“I’m shaking like a leaf in a hurricane,” Carter said.

Forest High has an enrollment of more than 2,000 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Source:-http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-florida-school-shooting-20180420-story.html

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Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging 2016 campaign conspiracy https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/democratic-party-sues-russia-trump-campaign-and-wikileaks-alleging-2016-campaign-conspiracy.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/democratic-party-sues-russia-trump-campaign-and-wikileaks-alleging-2016-campaign-conspiracy.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:57:33 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63693 Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging 2016 campaign conspiracy The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. The complaint, filed in federal district court […]

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Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging 2016 campaign conspiracy

The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.

The suit asserts that the Russian hacking campaign — combined with Trump associates’ contacts with Russia and the campaign’s public cheerleading of the hacks — amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the election and caused serious damage to the Democratic Party.

Senate investigators and prosecutors for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are still looking into whether Trump associates coordinated with any Russian efforts. Last month, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said they had found no evidence that President Trump and his affiliates colluded with Russian officials to sway the election or that the Kremlin sought to help Trump — a conclusion rejected by the panel’s Democrats.

In a statement, Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale said the Democrats’ lawsuit was without merit and likely to be dismissed.

“This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” he said. “With the Democrats’ conspiracy theories against the President’s campaign evaporating as quickly as the failing DNC’s fundraising, they’ve sunk to a new low to raise money, especially among small donors who have abandoned them.”

The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC sued President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.

The suit was denounced at the time by Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, who called it a case of “sheer demagoguery” by the DNC. But the civil action brought by the DNC’s chairman, Lawrence F. O’Brien, was successful, yielding a $750,000 settlement from the Nixon campaign that was reached on the day in 1974 that he left office.

Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor who specializes in computer-fraud cases, said he thought the Democrats’ suit had merit and, despite predictions from Trump-allied lawyers, was unlikely to go away anytime soon.

“There is no way it’s going to be dismissed,” said Akerman, a partner in the New York office of the Dorsey & Whitney law firm. “At least not on the computer-fraud part of the case, which is really the heart of it. The Democrats have every right to bring this suit as they are aggrieved. My question is: What took them so long?”c

If allowed to proceed, the lawsuit would give the Democrats a chance to seek internal documents and testimony from the Trump campaign to help them learn more about interactions with Russia during the race.

Parscale noted that the Trump campaign, too, would be allowed to conduct discovery. He promised that the campaign would use the process to probe management decisions at the DNC, as well as the party’s involvement with commissioning the Trump dossier, a research document produced by a former British spy that alleged the Trump campaign conspired with Russia. Late Friday, Trump made a similar point, tweeting that the suit provided “good news in that we will now counter” for information from the Democrats including information from the party’s servers about a range of topics including Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Suing a foreign country may present legal challenges for the Democrats, in part because other nations have immunity from most U.S. lawsuits.

The lawsuit argues that Russia is not entitled to sovereign immunity in this case because “the DNC claims arise out of Russia’s trespass on to the DNC’s private servers . . . in order to steal trade secrets and commit economic espionage.”

The suit seeks millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks. The DNC argues that the cyberattack undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats.

The suit also seeks an acknowledgment from the defendants that they conspired to infiltrate the Democrats’ computers, steal information and disseminate it to influence the election.

To support its case, the lawsuit offers a detailed narrative of the DNC hacks, as well as episodes in which key Trump aides are alleged to have been told Russia held damaging information about Clinton.

Russia engaged in a “brazen attack on U.S. soil” the party alleges, a campaign that began with the hack of its computer networks in 2015 and 2016. Trump campaign officials received repeated outreach from Russia, the suit says.

“Rather than report these repeated messages and communications that Russia intended to interfere in the U.S. election, the Trump campaign and its agents gleefully welcomed Russia’s help,” the party argues.

Ultimately, Trump’s associates entered into an agreement with Russian agents “to promote Donald Trump’s candidacy through illegal means,” the suit concludes.

It does not name Trump as a defendant. Instead, it targets aides who, during the campaign, met with people believed to be affiliated with Russia. The aides targeted include the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s deputy during the campaign, Rick Gates.

Manafort and Gates were charged with money laundering, fraud and tax evasion in a case brought by special prosecutors last year. In February, Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

The DNC lawsuit also names as a defendant the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, which has been accused by the U.S. government of orchestrating the hacks, as well as WikiLeaks, which published emails stolen from the DNC, and the group’s founder, Julian Assange.

Representatives for a number of the defendants named in the lawsuit, including the Russian Embassy, WikiLeaks and Assange, did not respond to requests for comment Friday. A Manafort spokesman declined to comment.

The lawsuit was also filed against Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant who claimed during the campaign that he was in contact with Assange.

[Roger Stone claimed contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, according to two associates]

The Trump advisers and associates have denied assisting Russia in a hacking campaign. Stone has denied any communication with Assange or advance knowledge of the document dumps by WikiLeaks, saying his comments about Assange were jokes or exaggerations.

In an email, Stone rejected the suit as “a left-wing conspiracy theory dressed up as a law-suit.”

A few prominent Democrats also criticized the legal action.

David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted late Friday that the filing was “spectacularly ill-timed” and could abet the White House strategy of portraying Mueller’s criminal probe as partisan. “Everyone should chill out and let Mueller do his job,” Axelrod wrote.

The DNC argues that the Russian government and the GRU’s secret intrusion into the Democrats’ computer systems violated laws that include those protecting trade secrets, prohibiting wire tapping and preventing trespassing.

The party said the Trump defendants committed conspiracy through their interaction with Russian agents and their public encouragement of the hacking, with the campaign acting as a racketeering enterprise promoting illegal activity.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the party by the law firm of Cohen Milstein.

The suit contains previously undisclosed details, including the specific date when it is believed the Russians breached the DNC computer system: July 27, 2015, according to forensic evidence cited in the filing.

The analysis shows the system was breached again on April 18, 2016. The first signs that hackers were siphoning documents and information from DNC systems were spotted on April 22. The suit notes that four days later, on April 26, Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was informed by Josef Mifsud, a London-based professor, that the Russians were in possession of thousands of emails that could be damaging to Clinton.

[Top campaign officials knew of Trump adviser’s outreach to Russia]

The defendants in the suit include Papadopoulos and Mifsud, as well as Aras and Emin Agalarov, the wealthy Russian father and son who hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow in 2013. Trump, who owned the pageant, attended the event.

The Agalarovs played a role in arranging a meeting for a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York in 2016, at which Donald Trump Jr. had expected to be given damaging information about Clinton.

Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs, said the allegations about his clients were “frivolous” and “a publicity stunt.”

“They had absolutely nothing to do with any alleged hacking of any Democratic computer system or any interference in the U.S. election,” he said.

Lawyers for Papadopoulos declined to comment, citing their client’s ongoing cooperation with the special counsel.

“It is our hope that when all the facts are known, the plaintiff will voluntarily dismiss Mr. Papadopoulos from the complaint,” said the lawyers, Thomas Breen and Robert Stanley, in a written statement.

The lawsuit also describes how the Soviet Union paid for Trump to travel to Moscow in the 1980s and alleges that his personal and professional ties to Russia helped foster the conspiracy.

The DNC’s lawyers wrote that “long standing personal professional and financial ties to Russia and numerous individuals linked to the Russian government provided fertile ground for a conspiracy between the defendants to interfere in the 2016 elections.”

The lawsuit also details the history of Manafort and Gates, who worked for Russia-friendly factions in Ukraine before joining the Trump campaign. Prosecutors have said Manafort and Gates were in contact in 2016 with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former linguist in the Russian army whom the FBI has alleged had ties to Russian intelligence.

Source:-https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democratic-party-files-lawsuit-alleging-russia-the-trump-campaign-and-wikileaks-conspired-to-disrupt-the-2016-campaign/2018/04/20/befe8364-4418-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.13c2302b5fbd

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Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore. https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/michael-cohen-has-said-he-would-take-a-bullet-for-trump-maybe-not-anymore.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/michael-cohen-has-said-he-would-take-a-bullet-for-trump-maybe-not-anymore.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:48:34 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63690 Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore. For years, a joke among Trump Tower employees was that the boss was like Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the traffic goes only one way. That one-sidedness has always been at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and […]

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Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore.

For years, a joke among Trump Tower employees was that the boss was like Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the traffic goes only one way.

That one-sidedness has always been at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump. For years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with their relationship.

“Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s informal and longest-serving political adviser, who, along with Mr. Cohen, was one of five people originally surrounding the president when he was considering a presidential campaign before 2016.

Now, for the first time, the traffic may be going Mr. Cohen’s way. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials who are investigating him for activity that could relate, at least in part, to work he did for Mr. Trump.

Last week federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room and seized business records, emails and other material as part of what Mr. Trump has called a “witch hunt” by his own Justice Department. The trove included documents dating back decades, as well as more recent ones related to a payment in 2016 to a pornographic film actress who has said she had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, which Mr. Trump denies.

Although Mr. Trump called Mr. Cohen last Friday, four days after the raid, to “check in,’’ according to people familiar with the call, he and Mr. Cohen have spoken little since Mr. Trump entered the White House. The two men did have dinner together at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club in Florida, a few weeks ago, but since the raid Mr. Cohen has told associates he feels isolated.

Mr. Trump has long felt he had leverage over Mr. Cohen, but people who have worked for the president said the raid has changed all that.

“Ironically, Michael now holds the leverage over Trump,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Mr. Trump who worked with Mr. Cohen and Mr. Stone. Mr. Nunberg said that Mr. Cohen “should maximize” that leverage.

“The softer side of the president genuinely has an affection for Michael,” Mr. Nunberg said. For instance, Mr. Trump attended the bar and bat mitzvahs of Mr. Cohen’s children. “However, the president has also taken Michael for granted.” Mr. Nunberg added that “whenever anyone complains to me about Trump screwing them over, my reflexive response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael.”

Mr. Stone recalled Mr. Trump saying of Mr. Cohen, “He owns some of the finest Trump real estate in the country — paid top dollar for it, too.” In Mr. Trump’s worldview, there are few insults more devastating than saying someone overpaid.

For years, Mr. Cohen has described himself as unflinchingly devoted to Mr. Trump, whom he has admired since high school. He has told interviewers that he has never heard Mr. Trump utter an inaccuracy or break a promise. He has tweeted about Mr. Trump nearly 3,000 times.

In a Fox News interview last year, Mr. Cohen declared: “I will do anything to protect Mr. Trump.’’ He told Vanity Fair in September that “I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president,” adding, “I’d never walk away.”

At a Republican fund-raiser at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, Mr. Cohen went so far as to approach the first lady, Melania Trump, to try to apologize for the pain he caused her with the payment to Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who has claimed to have had the sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

Over the years, Mr. Trump threatened to fire Mr. Cohen over deals that didn’t work out, or snafus with business projects, people who were present for the discussions said. He was aware that Mr. Cohen benefited in other business projects as being seen as affiliated with the Trump Organization, and it irked him.

“He clearly doesn’t think that Michael Cohen is his Roy Cohn,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, referring to Mr. Trump’s former mentor and the president’s ideal for a pit bull-like defender. “I think his abusive behavior to Michael is animated by his feeling that Michael is inadequate.”

Prosecutors have argued that Mr. Cohen did little actual legal work for Mr. Trump and instead focused on extensive political, media and real-estate dealings for the president.

Michael D’Antonio, another Trump biographer, recalled Mr. Cohen calling him soon before the book was published.

“He wanted to know if I was going to call Trump a racist and he wanted to know” if it would include an old allegation from Mr. Trump’s wife, Ivana Trump, that he had committed marital rape, Mr. D’Antonio said.

Mr. Cohen also wanted the title of the book, which was originally “Never Enough,” changed, Mr. D’Antonio said. He recalled saying to Mr. Cohen, “When has it ever been enough for Donald?”

“And Cohen started laughing, and he said, ‘I don’t have a problem with the title personally,’” Mr. D’Antonio recalled. Nonetheless, he said, Mr. Cohen said he would call the publisher to get the title changed, and then threatened a lawsuit when he couldn’t.

In 2007, Mr. Cohen was dispatched, along with Ivanka Trump, to scout a golf course development project in Fresno, Calif., that didn’t materialize. The next year, he served as chief operating officer of Affliction Entertainment, a Trump mixed-martial arts venture of boxing, wrestling and karate that featured a Russian Army veteran named Fedor Emelianenko. (“His thing is inflicting death on people,” Mr. Trump said at the time.)

He has also scouted business opportunities for Mr. Trump in the former Soviet bloc, including a 2010 trip to Georgia on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

Mr. Cohen has been active in Mr. Trump’s political ventures. When Mr. Trump pondered running for president in 2012, it was Mr. Cohen who went on an early trip to Iowa to meet with Republican operatives and who set up a website called ShouldTrumpRun.org. He even initially sought to pay some of the costs for the site with money raised for his own abortive run for New York State Senate.

Mr. Trump never ran in 2012, but Mr. Cohen raised $500,000 in four hours for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign that year during one of their “national call days” — and had campaign officials credit it as money that his boss had raised, one former Romney official recalled. When Mr. Trump ran for president in 2016, Mr. Cohen was given no official role on the campaign.

He fought with the initial campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, later blocked him from coming on board. Mr. Trump never ordered his aides to make a place for Mr. Cohen.

Some of Mr. Cohen’s efforts to help only led to embarrassing rebuffs in front of those in charge. A month before the election, Mr. Cohen approached Mr. Trump outside his Trump Tower office with photographs of Bill Clinton and a mixed-race man alleged — without any evidence — to be the former president’s illegitimate son. Mr. Trump knocked the papers away, angrily telling Mr. Cohen to “get that out of my face,” said one former campaign official who witnessed the incident.

Particularly hurtful to Mr. Cohen was the way Mr. Trump lavished approval on Mr. Lewandowski in a way he never did for Mr. Cohen. When Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump that he believed that Mr. Lewandowski had been behind a negative story about Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump dismissed the comments as simple jealousy, and didn’t pay attention, according to two people familiar with the incident.

Mr. Cohen raised millions of dollars for Mr. Trump in the campaign, at a time when the candidate was struggling to attract support. Mr. Cohen tried to soften the edges as Mr. Trump faced a torrent of criticism for decades of racially divisive remarks, forming a “diversity coalition” to give Mr. Trump cover composed of African-Americans, Muslims and other groups.

“Nobody else around Donald Trump would have thought to do that for him,” said Darrell Scott, an African-American pastor from Ohio and a friend of Mr. Cohen who helped created the coalition.

Source:-https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/us/politics/trump-michael-cohen.html

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens charged with a second felony, accused of misusing a charity donor list https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/missouri-gov-eric-greitens-charged-with-a-second-felony-accused-of-misusing-a-charity-donor-list.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/missouri-gov-eric-greitens-charged-with-a-second-felony-accused-of-misusing-a-charity-donor-list.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:41:22 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63687 Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens charged with a second felony, accused of misusing a charity donor list T. LOUIS, MO – St. Louis prosecutors on Friday charged Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens with a felony for using a charity donor list for his 2016 political campaign, adding to the woes of the first-term Republican governor who responded […]

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens charged with a second felony, accused of misusing a charity donor list

T. LOUIS, MO – St. Louis prosecutors on Friday charged Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens with a felony for using a charity donor list for his 2016 political campaign, adding to the woes of the first-term Republican governor who responded by calling it another effort to “smear” him.

The charge of tampering with computer data is in addition to an earlier charge alleging Greitens took and transmitted a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom he had an extramarital affair in 2015. The new charge accuses Greitens of obtaining the donor list without permission from The Mission Continues, a St. Louis-based charity that Greitens founded. He previously paid a small fine to the state Ethics Commission for failing to report the list as a campaign contribution.

Greitens has been facing increasing pressure to resign — including from fellow Republicans — since a special House investigative committee’s report released April 11 that detailed allegations from the woman with whom he had the affair. She testified that Greitens restrained, slapped, grabbed, shoved and threatened her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid.

Greitens has denied committing any crimes and vowed to remain in office, calling the investigations into him a “political witch hunt.”

On Friday, he accused Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, of wasting “thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars.”

“Her original case is falling apart — so today, she’s brought a new one,” Greitens said in a statement. “By now, everyone knows what this is: this prosecutor will use any charge she can to smear me.”

Greitens previously called Gardner a “reckless liberal prosecutor” for leading the investigation that resulted in the invasion-of-privacy charge. His attorneys, in court hearings and filings, have painted a picture of an incompetent prosecutor who rather than working with police to investigate Greitens hired a private investigator who bungled the probe, hid evidence and lied to the court.

The Missouri governor said he stands by the work he’s done with The Mission Continues and maintained that he will prove his innocence in court.

“This prosecutor can come after me with everything she’s got, but as all faithful people know: in time comes the truth. And the time for truth is coming,” Greitens said in a statement.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican whose office has been investigating The Mission Continues, announced Tuesday that he had found evidence to support a felony charge against Greitens, but said it was up to the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office to file charges. That office had to move quickly because the statute of limitations was approaching.

Related: Missouri voters abandoning Gov. Greitens, poll finds

Gardner’s office began investigating after KMOV-TV in St. Louis first reported the affair on Jan. 10, the day Greitens was giving his annual State of the State speech. The governor acknowledged the affair but denied allegations that he had threatened to release a compromising photo of the woman if she disclosed the relationship. His trial in that case is scheduled to begin May 14.

Hawley’s office has said that its investigation into The Mission Continues began after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in February that it had obtained a copy of an email indicating that a Greitens’ employee who previously worked at the charity had shared the donor list in January 2015 with Michael Hafner, who had been working for Greitens’ gubernatorial exploratory committee, and Danny Laub, Greitens’ first campaign manager.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL officer and Rhodes Scholar, and Hawley both won election in 2016 as maverick political outsiders. Hawley is now running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Democrats have been running TV ads linking Hawley to Greitens. Democrats have criticized Hawley’s earlier investigation that found no wrongdoing in Greitens’ use of a text message-destroying app, and claimed he stepped up his investigation of the charity only after it became politically beneficial.

In the Legislature, meanwhile, Senate leaders are considering holding off on sending bills to Greitens amid the multiple investigations. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard and Democratic Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh have not made a final decision, but Walsh has said she doesn’t believe any bills signed by Greitens should become law

Source:-https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/missouri-gov-eric-greitens-charged-second-felony-accused-misusing-charity-n868011

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U.S., Europe order emergency checks on engine type in Southwest accident https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/u-s-europe-order-emergency-checks-on-engine-type-in-southwest-accident.html https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/news/u-s-europe-order-emergency-checks-on-engine-type-in-southwest-accident.html#respond Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:35:35 +0000 https://www.biphoo.com/bipnews/?p=63684 U.S., Europe order emergency checks on engine type in Southwest accident U.S. and European airline regulators on Friday ordered emergency inspections within 20 days of nearly 700 aircraft engines similar to the one involved in a fatal Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) engine blowout earlier this week, citing risks of a similar mishap. The directives by the […]

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U.S., Europe order emergency checks on engine type in Southwest accident

U.S. and European airline regulators on Friday ordered emergency inspections within 20 days of nearly 700 aircraft engines similar to the one involved in a fatal Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) engine blowout earlier this week, citing risks of a similar mishap.

The directives by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency for inspections of CFM56-7B engines, made by CFM International, indicated rising concerns since a similar failure in 2016 of the same type of engine.

The engine explosion on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 on Tuesday was caused by a fan blade that broke off, the FAA said. The blast shattered a window, killing a passenger, in the first U.S. passenger airline fatality since 2009.

“The unsafe condition,” the FAA said in the order, “is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design.”

The inspections ordered are a sharp step-up from actions by both the European and U.S. regulators after a Southwest flight in August 2016 made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine and debris ripped a hole above the left wing. The European agency had given airlines nine months to check engines, while U.S. regulators still were considering what to do.

Ultrasonic inspections on fan blades that have been used in more than 30,000 cycles, or in service for about 20 years, will be required in the next 20 days, the agencies said on Friday. A cycle includes one take-off and landing.

That order will affect about 680 engines globally, including about 350 in the United States, the FAA said. The engine that blew apart on Tuesday’s Southwest flight would have been affected, since the company said it had 40,000 cycles.

The coordinated 20-day measure partially resolves a gap in previous responses to the 2016 accident by the world’s two largest and most influential aviation regulators, a person familiar with the discussions said and published documents show.

The FAA in August 2017 drafted an order giving airline up to 18 months to carry out checks, but it had not finalized the measure by the time of Tuesday’s fatal second accident.

The EASA had rejected a request by one airline to double the time allowed for checks to 18 months, matching the FAA’s roll-out, saying data did not justify that.

The divergence marked a rare difference of approach between the two agencies, especially on one of the world’s most-used aviation products. CFM, which is jointly owned by General Electric Co (GE.N) and France’s Safran (SAF.PA), produces the CFM56 engine in factories based both in the United States and in Europe.

“It happens that there are disagreements about the right way to go in some cases, and this was one of them,” the person familiar with the discussions said.

On Tuesday, however, when news broke that a second failure had taken place involving the same model engine, aircraft and airline – this time killing a passenger who was partially pulled through a gaping hole next to her seat – the two agencies agreed to act quickly, the person said.

An FAA spokesman said the agency disputed that it had not agreed with European regulators on the response to the engine issue. An EASA spokesman declined to comment.

On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt, the chief investigator of U.S. aviation accidents, said he could not yet say if the incident pointed to a fleet-wide issue. The NTSB declined to comment on Friday.

The FAA and NTSB have different roles. Investigators study the probable cause of single accidents and recommend possible changes to safety rules, while regulators have to assess whether safety risks could appear.

Several major airline officials said the order will primarily impact airlines with higher utilization of aircraft covering shorter routes like Southwest.

Southwest, which had opposed efforts by the engine maker last year to shorten the FAA’s earlier proposed deadline, on Friday said its maintenance program meets or exceeds the new requirements.

United Continental Holdings (UAL.N) said that it had begun inspections earlier after a recommendation from CFM. American Airlines (AAL.O) said it does not have any CFM56-7B engines with 30,000 cycles and would not be impacted by the 20-day order. Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said it had begun complying and did not expect any operational impact to customers

Approximately 14,000 CFM56-7B engines are in operation.

CFM had initially recommended the inspections.

The European order requires that after the first inspection, airlines should keep repeating the process every 3,000 cycles, which typically represents about two years in service.

More than 150 have already been inspected.

Inspections recommended by the end of August will affect an additional 2,500 engines.

Source:-https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pennsylvania-airplane-cfm-bulletin/u-s-europe-order-emergency-checks-on-engine-type-in-southwest-accident-idUSKBN1HR33E

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