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Republican Brad Raffensperger wins runoff for Georgia secretary of state

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By Associated Press

Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger was elected Georgia’s secretary of state on Tuesday amid a debate over access to the polls and election security.

Raffensperger, 63, defeated Democratic former Rep. John Barrow in a runoff for the office, which had been held by Republican Gov.-elect Brian Kemp. The runoff was made necessary after neither candidate polled more than 50 percent on Nov. 6, with Raffensperger leading by about 16,000 votes out of more than 3.8 million cast.

President Donald Trump tweeted an endorsement last week of Raffensperger, who represents part of Fulton County in metropolitan Atlanta.

Kemp remained secretary of state until after the general election, infuriating Democrats who called it a conflict of interest and accused him of suppressing minority votes.

Kemp insisted that the Democrats’ accusations were false, pointing to large increases in voter registration on his watch and record turnout on Nov. 6.

Raffensperger said he would make preventing voter fraud his priority, pledging to continue Kemp’s practice of strictly enforcing voter ID laws and pruning registration rolls of inactive voters. Any changes to state elections laws must be approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature for Kemp’s signature.

Kemp’s Democratic rival for governor, Stacey Abrams, urged voters to support Barrow in a speech in which she announced that she would sue to change how Georgia runs its elections.



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Puerto Rican officials warn against diverting recovery funds for a wall

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By Patricia Guadalupe

WASHINGTON — María Meléndez, the mayor of Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-largest city, came to Washington this week on a mission to ensure that federal aid already allocated for hurricane recovery is finally delivered to her city and others on the island.

Meléndez’s visit to talk about local governance during natural disasters and crisis management came a day before Trump declared a national emergency to secure funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall that he dangled as a presidential campaign promise.

After multiple reports surfaced saying that funds allocated for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria could be used to finance the wall, Trump’s action has heightened concerns among Puerto Rican officials who have vowed to fight such a move.

“If the president intends to use his emergency powers to take funds from Puerto Rico and other states, I’ll see him in court,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said on Twitter early Friday morning. “Our island urgently needs the disbursement of the money allocated to direct and reconstruction.”

Hours later, a senior administration official said that taking any disaster relief funds away from Puerto Rico and Texas was not part of the plan, adding that the $8 billion they currently plan to use for the wall should be sufficient.

While much attention has been paid to the capital city of San Juan and its recuperation efforts, other island cities and towns have been often overlooked and have the added burden of lacking the resources and personnel to help in a recovery.

More than 400 buildings in Ponce were damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017, damage is estimated at more than $500 million, and the cost of reconstruction is estimated to be at least $200 million.

“We are used to hurricanes, but nothing like what happened with Hurricane Maria. It was total devastation and we still need to reconstruct the island. It is a long recovery. We need those funds,” Meléndez, known as Mayita, told NBC News after participating in a forum Thursday at New York University’s Washington Center.



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Brexit warning: No-deal vegetable tariffs could cause 12,400 EXTRA deaths – shock study

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A STUDY has claimed 12,400 people could die as a result of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

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You won’t believe what Trump just said: 6 eye-popping moments

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By Dareh Gregorian

He praised China for executing drug dealers, called his administration’s crime statistics lies and broke out into a near rap while predicting he’d be sued over his declaring a national emergency to get his border wall built.

Here are some of the most eye-opening moments from President Donald Trump’s teleprompter-free emergency declaration announcement-turned-Rose Garden press conference:

1. NATIONAL EMERGENCY RAP

After declaring that he was using his national emergency powers to build his wall on the southern border, Trump broke out into a sing-songy rap about what he expected to happen next, which would include appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against his travel ban in 2017.

“We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there and we’ll possibly get a bad ruling and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up the Supreme Court, and then hopefully we’ll get a fair shake we’ll and we’ll win in the supreme court, just like the ban. They sued us in the Ninth Circuit and then we lost . . .”

2. KILLING DRUG DEALERS

The president expressed his admiration for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s approach on drug crimes. He recounted a conversation with Xi, where he said, “You have 1.4 billion people. What do you mean you have no drug problem. Why?” He then did an impression of Xi saying, “Death penalty. We give death penalty to people who sell drugs. End of problem.”

“What do we do? We set up blue-ribbon committees, lovely men and women they sit around a table, eat they dine, and they waste a lot of time,” Trump said.

“They’re criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called the death penalty. Our criminal list a drug dealer gets a thing called how about a fine,” he complained. In December, Trump signed a criminal justice reform act that reduced mandatory penalties for some drug offenses.

He said Xi was adding fentanyl to his country’s “criminal list” thanks to ongoing trade negotiations. The “penalty is death. That’s frankly one of the things I’m most excited about in our trade deal,” Trump said.

3. DRUGS DON’T GO THROUGH PORTS OF ENTRY

The president said the wall was necessary to stop the flow of illegal drugs from the Mexico, saying “the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry.”

He was asked later about the claim, which contradicts statistics from his own administration. A 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment by the DEA, Mexican drug cartels “transport the bulk of their drugs over the Southwest border through ports of entry (POEs) using passenger vehicles or tractor trailers.”

“I get my numbers from a lot of sources, like Homeland Security, primarily. And the numbers that I have from Homeland Security are a disaster,” he said.

4. NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Trump said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for getting North Korea to stop flying “rocket ships” over Japan.

“In fact, I think I can say this, Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize. He said I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan. I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize. I said, ‘Thank you,'” he said.

“We do a lot of good work. This administration does a tremendous job and we don’t get credit for it. So Prime Minister Abe gave me – I mean it’s the most beautiful five page letter, Nobel Prize, he sent it to them. You know why? Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan, and they had alarms going off — you know that. Now all of the sudden they feel good, they feel safe. I did that.”

5. ‘DON’T NEED THE MILITARY’

On the benefits of the wall, Trump said, “One of the things we’d save tremendous, just a tremendous amount on, would be sending the military. If we had a wall we don’t need the military, because we’d have a wall! So I’m gonna be signing a national emergency, and it’s been signed many times before.”

6. HANNITY ‘DOESN’T DECIDE POLICY’

Trump insisted conservative commentators don’t decide policy for him, pushing back against reports that he shut down the government at their behest. But he went on to praise several of his favorites.

“Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do, not of me,” Trump said of the Fox News personality he reportedly speaks to often. “If I changed my views, he wouldn’t be with me,” the president insisted.

Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Sean Hannity, left, interviews President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Sept. 20, 2018.Ethan Miller / Getty Images file

“Rush Limbaugh, I think he is a great guy,” he said. “He can speak for three hours without a phone call. Try doing that sometime. . .I mean this guy is unbelievable.” He also singled out Fox personalities Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, before talking about Ann Coulter.

Coulter wrote a book called “In Trump We Trust” before turning on him for his failure to build the wall.

“Probably, if I did speak to her, she would be very nice, but I just don’t have time to speak to her,” he said. But for now, said the president who’s come under fire for making Native American cracks about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Coulter “is off the reservation.”

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