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Top40 News for 05/03/2018

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#1 Trump repaying the Stormy Daniels money doesn’t mean there were no campaign finance violations

© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

It didn’t take former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani long to make his mark after joining President Trump’s legal team. Unfortunately, the mark Giuliani left was on his client.

During an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday, Giuliani volunteered a startling bit of information. That $130,000 that Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen admitted having paid to porn star Stormy Daniels? Trump had repaid it.

“That money was not campaign money, sorry. I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know,” Giuliani said to Hannity, raising the subject on his own. “It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.”

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It’s not entirely clear what Giuliani is claiming happened. Over the course of the interview, he told Hannity that Trump repaid Cohen through a monthly $35,000 retainer over a series of months “when he was doing no work for the president,” an amount that Giuliani said included “a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael.” Later, he speculated that the money might have been paid out of “law firm funds.” Regardless, Giuliani said, it didn’t matter for legal purposes.

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#2 Michael Avenatti Reacts to Stunning Admission That Trump Repaid Stormy Daniels Money: ‘I Am Absolutely Speechless’

“I am rarely, as your viewers know, rendered speechless,” self-aware Stormy Daniels barrister Michael Avenatti said Wednesday on MSNBC. “But I am absolutely speechless at this revelation and this admission.”

Avenatti was, of course, referring to Rudy Giuliani‘s stunning admission that President Donald Trump reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen the $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels.

The attorney did not think the other side would simply volunteer that information.

“This is an outrage what has gone on here,” Avenatti said. “The American people have been lied to about this agreement, about the $130,000, about the reimbursement, and this is consistent with what we have been saying now for months. That ultimately it is going to be proven and ultimately was going to come out. We just didn’t know that Rudy Giuliani was going to go on the Sean Hannity show and admit it on national television.”

The lawyer does think there’s a method to Giuliani’s madness:

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#3 U.S. trade team arrives in Beijing for talks, China media cautious

BEIJING, May 3 (Reuters) - A U.S. trade delegation arrived in China on Thursday for talks on tariffs, with state media saying China will stand up to U.S. bullying if need be and hit back, but it was better to work things out at the negotiating table.

A breakthrough deal to fundamentally change China's economic policies is viewed as highly unlikely during the two-day visit, though a package of short-term Chinese measures could delay a U.S. decision to impose tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese exports.

The discussions, led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, are expected to cover a wide range of U.S. complaints about China's trade practices, from accusations of forced technology transfers to state subsidies for technology development.

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#4 Nobel Prize for Literature in jeopardy over scandal

The institution that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature is mired in a sexual and financial scandal so deep that this year's prize may be postponed for the first time in more than seven decades.

In recent weeks, six members of the Swedish Academy -- one of Sweden's most highly respected cultural bodies -- have stepped down, including the head of the institution, Sara Danius. The flurry of withdrawals is potentially catastrophic for the 230-year-old academy, whose members, elected by secret ballot, must be approved by the King and traditionally hold their positions for life.

With just 10 remaining active members, the group is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the fate of this year's literature prize, even though historically, 12 members have been required for a quorum.

In 1943 -- the last time the literature prize was postponed -- it was the height of World War II and the Nazis ruled much of the European continent.

This time, the crisis centers on Jean-Claude Arnault, a French photographer and husband of poet Katarina Frostenson, one of the six academy members to step down. Arnault, a leading cultural figure in Sweden, is facing multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment, first reported in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter late last year. In an emailed statement to CNN, Arnault's lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, said his client denies all the allegations.

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#5 Teachers flee, schools close in Kenya with al-Shabab attacks

NAIROBI, Kenya — Every school day, Abdirizack Hussein Bashir rises at dawn for an eight-kilometer (five-mile) trek through a dangerous forest where he sometimes faces harassment by Kenyan army patrols hunting down extremists.

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Now the 12-year-old's dream to become a doctor is threatened. Attacks by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab against non-Muslims have forced the transfer of hundreds of teachers from the border area with Somalia, where the extremist group is based. Schools have closed and thousands of children are affected.

At least 224 primary schools and 42 secondary schools in Wajir County can no longer function after non-local teachers fled. The exodus was caused by the Feb. 16 al-Shabab attack on a primary school in which two non-Muslim teachers were killed. Kenya's Teachers Service Commission transferred 329 teachers elsewhere for their safety. Many others left on their own. In all, 917 non-Muslim primary school teachers have left the region.

It is the largest-ever mass exodus of teachers from the region, observers say.

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#6 One killed in shooting in Amsterdam

One person was killed and another injured in a shooting in Amsterdam, a major tourist hub, Dutch police said Thursday.

"There was a shooting on Wednesday evening in the Krootstraat street in the southeast of Amsterdam. There were two casualties," they said in statement said.

One of the victims died, the other was injured and taken to hospital for treatment, it added.

There was no apparent terror link to Wednesday's incident.

Amsterdam has been the scene of an escalating gang war between criminal groups involved in drug trafficking.

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#7 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praises North Korea during Pyongyang visit

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised North Korea's commitment to denuclearization during a rare visit to Pyongyang on Wednesday.

The visit is the first official high-level contact between Beijing and Pyongyang since the historic Inter-Korean summit on April 27, which saw the leaders of the two Koreas agree to an ambitious agenda of peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Following the success of the summit, planning is now underway for US President Donald Trump to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un within a month to further discuss the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

"China commends the recent positive changes on the Korean Peninsula," Wang said in Pyongyang Wednesday, according to statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"We fully support North Korea's commitment to the goal of denuclearization."

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#8 Do not quit Iran deal, UN urges Trump

© Getty Images
Mr Guterres warned the Iran deal cannot be scrapped without a viable alternative

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged Donald Trump not to walk away from an international deal designed to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Guterres said there was a real risk of war if the 2015 agreement was not preserved.

Mr Trump has been a strong critic of the accord, in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

The US president has until 12 May to decide whether to stick with the deal.

Mr Guterres told the BBC that the Iran agreement was an "important diplomatic victory" and should be maintained.

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#9 China quietly installed missile systems at key outposts in the hotly contested South China Sea

China has quietly installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its fortified outposts west of the Philippines in the South China Sea, a move that allows Beijing to further project its power in the hotly disputed waters, according to sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence reports.

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Intelligence assessments say the missile platforms were moved to the outposts in the Spratly Islands within the past 30 days, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The placement of the defensive weapons also comes on the heels of China's recent South China Sea installation of military jamming equipment, which disrupts communications and radar systems. By all accounts, the new coastal defense systems represent a significant addition to Beijing's military portfolio in one of the most contested regions in the world.

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#10 ‘So That’s Our Shooter’: Las Vegas Officers Found Gunman Dead in Hotel

(Video by Los Angeles Times)

LOS ANGELES — A handful of Las Vegas police officers cautiously approached the door of Room 135 on the 32nd floor and huddled outside before whispering: “Breach, breach, breach.”

Then came an explosion that ripped open the door of a suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel, where officers expected to confront a gunman who by then had killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at a concert across the road.

They stood at the doorway for more than a minute, peering into what appeared to be an empty room.

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