Monday, February 19, 2018

Trump endorses recent GOP foe Mitt Romney for Utah Senate

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President Trump gave his full backing to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday, saying Romney’s bid for a Senate seat from Utah “has my full support and endorsement!”

The president’s tweet suggested he may have buried the hatchet, at least temporarily, with the GOP foe who called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” in 2016. Trump wrote Monday evening that Romney “will make a great Senator and worthy successor” to the retiring Orrin Hatch.

In response, Romney tweeted, “Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.”

Romney, who served as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007, announced his Senate run on Friday. The 70-year-old is a heavy favorite to hold the seat for the Republicans.

Trump’s endorsement of Romney marked another twist in the complex relationship between the two men. Romney was a vocal critic of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, labeling the businessman “a phony [and] a fraud [whose] promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”

In response, Trump tweeted reminders that Romney had sought his endorsement during Romney’s failed run for the presidency four years earlier. In June of that year, Trump tweeted that Romney had “choked like a dog” in losing to former President Barack Obama.

After Trump’s victory, Romney was rumored to be a contender to be secretary of state. In an unusually public interview process, Romney was seen dining with Trump in New York City and visiting the president-elect at his golf club in suburban New Jersey. Ultimately, Trump tapped Rex Tillerson for the post of America’s top diplomat.

Since then, Romney has repeatedly criticized the Trump administration, particularly after Trump’s response to the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., last summer. Among the president’s comments: “Especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also.”

Romney also broke with the White House over Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore amid accusations of sexual misconduct against him. In the run-up to the December special election, Romney stated that Moore’s election “would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gray whale returned to ocean after 3 days beached in Mexico

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A gray whale has been returned safely to the Pacific Ocean after three days beached on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California Sur state.

The federal environmental protection agency says in a statement that the whale swam into a shallow canal near Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos last Thursday and was then stranded by the ebbing tide.

Workers spent three days using pumps to keep the whale hydrated. Photos released by the agency showed them hosing it down and digging the sand in an apparent bid to allow water to pool around it.

Monday’s statement said the tide came in high enough Saturday for the whale to be maneuvered to open water. It swam away under its own power and “in good health.”

Gray whales are a protected species in Mexico.

Buffalo gores camper on Southern California island

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Authorities say a buffalo has gored a man camping on Southern California’s Catalina Island.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials say the man was sitting on a log Saturday evening and the buffalo was grazing nearby.

Sgt. Ray Ward says that when the buffalo came closer, the man tried to move away and that’s when the animal charged.

Ward says the buffalo gored the man’s left arm. He didn’t know the extent of the injuries.

The Orange County Register reports that the man was treated at the scene and then airlifted to a hospital on the mainland.

Buffalo are common and roam freely on the back side of Catalina Island, where there are campgrounds. Ward says it’s very rare for them to attack humans.

'SNL' alum Colin Quinn jokes after Valentines Day heart attack

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“Saturday Night Live” alum Colin Quinn is exercising his wit days after a heart attack interrupted his busy touring schedule.

The 58-year-old Quinn took to Twitter on Monday to let friends and foes alike know he’s “starting a list of those who didn’t ‘check in’ yet,” five days after his Valentine’s Day health emergency.

The deep-thinking comic thanks the doctors and nurses at his New York hospital, saying they “realized they had a precious jewel of comedy in their hands.”

Quinn announced his heart attack last week, saying on Twitter his heart broke on Valentine’s Day, “literally.” He said he was doing well but if he dropped dead “you would see a funeral like Al Capone!”

He says the attack made him reflect, realizing “we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.”

Georgia looks to drop electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots

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A unique effort is underway in Georgia to safeguard elections by taking voting machines back to the future.

“The most secure elections in the world are conducted with a piece of paper and a pencil,” said Georgia State Rep. Scot Turner. “It allows you to continue into the future to verify the result.”

Turner has proposed a bill that would retire Georgia’s electronic touch-screen voting machines and switch to paper ballots that voters would fill out and then be counted by optical scan machines. The technology has been in use for decades to score standardized tests for grade-school students.

Voting machines are set up for people to cast their ballots during voting in the 2016 presidential election at Manuel J. Cortez Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker - HT1ECB81RBICM

Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, also a Republican, said the electronic voting machines currently in use in Georgia are accurate and efficient and replacing them with paper would be a step backward.  (REUTERS)

“You can try and hack these machines all day long,” Turner said. “But that piece of paper that you can touch and feel and look at is going to give the voter the confidence that the election is actually being recorded the way it should have been.”

But Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, also a Republican, said the electronic voting machines currently in use in Georgia are accurate and efficient and replacing them with paper would be a step backward.

“The fraud we see in Georgia is with paper ballots,” Kemp said. “So, I would be very careful going back to the old days of the hanging chad.”

Hanging chad is a reference to incompletely punched card ballots in Florida that put the outcome of the 2000 presidential race in limbo for 36 days. The delay prompted calls nationwide for upgrades in voting technology.

Election workers hand check ballots for "hanging", "pregnant" or "dimpled" chads at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center, November 18, 2000. Republican George W. Bush was pleased that overseas absentee ballots had widened his lead in Florida and hoped the dispute over the state's presidential vote would be resolved soon, his campaign said on Saturday. MS/ME - RP2DRHYZNWAA

Hanging chads are incompletely punched card ballots in Florida that put the outcome of the 2000 presidential race in limbo for 36 days. The delay prompted calls nationwide for upgrades in voting technology.  (AP)

Georgia went to direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs). Voters select candidates on a touch-screen computer, which records their choices on an electronic ballot.

Georgia is one of five states still using DREs statewide without a physical paper trail backup. A sixth state, Nevada, uses DREs with a paper trail statewide.

The rest of the nation uses a patchwork of voting systems that vary from state to state and, often, countsy to county.

“I don’t know that there needs to be one specific way to cast a ballot and record a vote, but there are a number of best practices,” said Jeh Johnson, who served as director of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

Johnson said what’s crucial is redundancy — having a backup system for recounting votes if there’s a technical glitch or deliberate meddling.

paper ballot

Paper ballots have been phased out in much of the country but a proposed bill in Georgia would bring it back.

“The cyber threat to our country is going to get worse before it gets better,” Johnson said. “Bad cyber actors — whether they’re nation states, cyber criminals, hacktivists, those who engage in ransomware — are increasingly aggressive, tenacious and ingenious.”

Last year, DHS declared America’s election systems as “critical infrastructure” — underscoring the importance of protecting how the nation conducts democracy. Solutions are likely to vary from region to region, just as voting technology varies. And experts say that diversity is part of the protection.

Fox News producer David Lewkowict contributed to this report.

Jonathan Serrie joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in April 1999 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Atlanta bureau.

New York Times slammed for 'sexy' yoga pants article

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A New York Times opinion piece is getting ridiculed online for calling yoga pants “bad for women,” and championing for the return of sweat pants.

The article claims that women “aren’t wearing [yoga pants] because they’re cooler or more comfortable” than sweat pants, but “because they’re sexy.”

“(You think the selling point of Lululemon’s Reveal Tight Precision pants is really the way their moth-eaten design provides a ‘much-needed dose of airflow’?) We’re wearing them because they’re sexy,” the author writes.

The author goes on to call out the athleisure industry, which made a whopping $46 billion in 2016, as well as studio fitness classes.

NUDE BLOGGER CLAIMS SHE GETS BODY-SHAMED FOR BEING TOO SKINNY

“Frankly, I’m annoyed by the whole booming industry around women’s exercise, which is perhaps most evident in the rise of studio classes. According to the Association of Fitness Studios, Americans spent around $24 billion on studio fees in 2015, or about $4 billion more than they spent on traditional gyms — and that spread has only increased since then. Naturally, women are spending the most; they outnumber men in studio classes by more than two to one,” the author says.

The article finally finishes with the author’s main point – that sweat pants should be at the forefront of all gym-goers wardrobes, instead of tight-fitting pants that “threaten to show every dimple and roll in every woman over 30.”

Since its publication, women have taken to social media to call the article out for “body shaming.”

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One user wrote, “Okay @nytimes. 1) I am sure you had your pick of thoughtful opinion pieces for this Sunday’s edition…and this was your choice? 2) Women writing op-eds about other women’s sartorial choices is bad for women 3) You can have my yoga pants when you pry them from my cold dead booty.”

Another wrote, “The New York Times is apparently against women wearing yoga pants. Being against yoga pants is one of the most absurd opinions I’ve ever heard.”

While one simply tweeted, “Instead of reading the New York Times yoga piece, try doing literally anything else.”

Twin babies found in suitcase in Arkansas ditch, police say

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Law enforcement officials in Arkansas are investigating after the bodies of newborn twins were reportedly discovered in a suitcase by a hunter on Friday.

The infants were found in a purple suitcase in a ditch near County Road 602 in Wynne just before 2 p.m. on Friday, the Cross County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release. Officials said the babies appear to be twins.

The Arkansas State Crime Lab expects the autopsies for the babies to be completed Tuesday morning, according to Fox 16.

“You know, it’s always something being dumped in this ditch,” Clyde Collins told the station. “To think something like that had happened was kind of strange.” 

MISSOURI MOM BELIEVED TO HAVE KILLED HUSBAND, BABY, HERSELF; POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION EYED

Collins told Fox 16 he heard a rabbit hunter discovered the suitcase.

“I’ve heard of a lot of things, but I’ve never heard of nobody killing babies and putting them in a suitcase,” Collins added.

Santia Wallace, who lives on the 602, said when she heard the news, she “was shaken up” and “in tears.”

“Here I am, want to have kids and for you to, like, kill them? Like, who does that?” Wallace told WREG. “You could have took him to the fire station, you know, something like that. You don’t have to kill no kids.”

Detective Sergeant Jeffrey Nichols told WREG that authorities have several persons of interest.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information to call 870-238-5700.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.

Can I Get Social Security If I'm Not a U.S. Citizen?

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Millions of Americans receive Social Security benefits, and nearly everyone who works in the U.S. pays the Social Security payroll taxes that help to fund the retirement program. What many people don’t realize about Social Security is that paying those taxes often entitles workers to receive benefits — even if they’re not U.S. citizens.

For the most part, the rules on Social Security for noncitizens are very similar to what U.S. citizens have to observe in order to get benefits. However, there are some subtle differences. Below, we’ll go through what it takes to get Social Security as a noncitizen and what actions you can take to ensure that you get the most you can from the program.

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The general rule for noncitizens: Yes, you can get benefits if you would otherwise qualify for them

The Social Security Administration is quite forthcoming in saying that most noncitizens can get Social Security benefits under certain circumstances. Specifically, to get benefits, the following things must be true:

  • You must live in the U.S.
  • You must be lawfully present in the U.S., which includes those admitted for permanent residency or other classifications under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, Family Unity or Immediate Relative provisions, or others fully insured for benefits and who meet U.S. lawful presence requirements.
  • You must meet all the regular eligibility requirements for Social Security.

What that last provision means is that you need to be eligible for the benefits in question in order to receive them as a noncitizen. For example, to receive retirement benefits, you need to have accumulated at least 40 work credits. Disability benefits have differing work credit requirements based on age, while spousal or survivor benefits are generally available under the separate rules that govern those benefit categories.

What if I leave the U.S.?

Living in the U.S. is a typical requirement for noncitizens to receive Social Security benefits, and ordinarily, the SSA will stop paying benefits to noncitizens if you’ve been outside the U.S. for six months in a row. However, if your country is on this list, then it means that the U.S. has a special agreement that will let you keep receiving payments even if you remain in that foreign country.

Even if you don’t qualify to receive benefits while you’re abroad, you can restart them once you return to the U.S. It just takes a single calendar month to get your benefits up and running again.

If my spouse is a U.S. citizen, can I get spousal and survivor benefits if I live abroad?

Even noncitizen spouses who’ve never been to the U.S. can sometimes get benefits under Social Security. The key is whether the country in which they have legal residency or the country of which they’re a citizen has an appropriate treaty with the U.S. that allows for benefits. The SSA website has a page where you can see which countries are covered and what the specific terms of their treaties are.

In addition, if you live in the U.S. for at least five years during your marriage, then you can get spousal and survivor benefits. That remains true regardless of whether you subsequently return to your home country.

If I’m not a U.S. citizen and am in the U.S. illegally but have paid Social Security taxes as part of my job, can I get Social Security benefits?

No. Despite the fact that many people without legal immigration status work and pay payroll taxes in the U.S., you can’t receive benefits unless you obtain legal immigration status in the future.

Social Security is complicated enough even before you add issues about citizenship and immigration status on top of it. To make sure you know what Social Security will pay you, though, you need to understand these rules for noncitizens to get benefits.

The $16,122 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: One easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more…each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

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Car belonging to missing California Uber driver is found

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The car Joshua Thiede was last seen driving in last week was discovered Monday in Los Angeles, as authorities continue to search for the 29-year-old Uber and Lyft driver.

The black 2014 Nissan Altima, with license plate 7CSD450, was spotted just before 12:30 p.m. east of Hollywood in Koreatown, Fox 11 reported.

Joshua Thiede’s black Nissan Altima was found in Koreatown on Monday, the Los Angeles Police Department said. The bureau’s Missing Person Unit is investigating the scene.  (Fox 11 Los Angeles)

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit is investigating the scene.

Thiede was last seen driving out of his apartment garage on Feb. 11 while working for Lyft, according to police. Thiede hasn’t been seen since.

MISSING UBER, LYFT DRIVER CALLED 911 BEFORE DISAPPEARING IN LOS ANGELES, FAMILY SAYS

The Uber driver’s mother, Janet, said phone records indicate her son — or someone using her son’s phone — made a call to 911 at 2:32 p.m. on Feb. 12. She said whoever made the call didn’t say anything and hung up.

The phone was later traced to Venice Boulevard and Burlington Avenue, but is no longer active, according to Fox 11.

Thiede was last seen driving out of his apartment garage in a black 2014 Nissan Altima, which was recovered Monday.  (Fox 11 Los Angeles)

A key fob belonging to Thiede recorded the man last leaving his apartment on the night of Feb. 11, KTLA reported

Janet said it’s unlike her son to disappear and not contact anyone.

“We’re really getting concerned now,” friend Kevin Young told KCBS-TV. “Right now a week has gone by.”

Janet added that Thiede was living with two roommates in Los Angeles and was a driver for Uber and Lyft to earn extra money.

Thiede has been described as 6 feet tall, weighing 170 pounds. Authorities ask that anyone with information call the Missing Persons Unit at 213-996-1800, Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or dial 911.

Fox News’ Katherine Lam contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.

Hero, harasser or both? Shaun White’s newly complex legacy

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It was expected to be a coronation: snowboarder Shaun White, shredding the halfpipe in an epic performance that won him Olympic gold at Pyeongchang four years after a devastating loss in Sochi and just four months after a nasty fall during practice sent him to a hospital.

But as he basked in the comeback story of the Winter Games, allegations of sexual misconduct resurfaced, first on social media, then at White’s victory press conference. Eager to focus on his win, White waved away the accusations with a choice of words that made things worse, not better.

“I’m here to talk about the Olympics,” he said, “not gossip and stuff.”

Like other high-profile men, White’s triumphal moment was usurped by an abruptly resurfacing past. And a story that had received scant attention between Olympic cycles was, suddenly, one of the biggest in the world.

Hours later, he was on NBC’s “Today” show apologizing for his comment. But in the era of #metoo, what should have been a triumphal and defining moment in White’s life collided with one of his lowest.

The one-two punch of victory, then condemnation, raised a number of questions that have been playing out on social media in the days since his victory.

Is it legitimate to bring up old charges simply because someone has won something new? Does White have a special responsibility as a role model who has grown rich trading off his name? With his achievements and the accusations, can he be both hero and villain at the same time?

And as his legacy is written and rewritten, will he be remembered more for his athletic successes or as one in a list of men whose achievements have been stained by accusations of sexual misconduct?

“I think he handled it better than we’ve seen other people handle it,” said University of Oregon senior Lily Jones, 21, who said White’s apology helped but didn’t erase what had happened.

“Instead of flat-out denying it, or going after his accuser like we’ve seen other people do, he took a little bit of responsibility, which I definitely appreciated,” Jones said.

Shaun White, of the United States, celebrates winning gold after the men's halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Shaun White, of the United States, celebrates winning gold after the men’s halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.  (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

White and his more diehard fans were eager to move on — an understandable instinct.

“That’s just the go-to reaction, for men or women,” says Dorothy Espelage, a psychology professor at the University of Florida. “I don’t think there would be any good timing for somebody that successful. And it doesn’t dismiss the fact that this went on.”

Twitter is barely a decade old, and the notion of the accused having to reckon with a critical public in real time, at the pinnacle of a storied career, is a relatively new notion. But it’s happening more and more.

White’s takedown on social media brings to mind James Franco’s Golden Globe win last month for best actor in a comedy or musical — an honor that produced immediate condemnation on social media decrying his past treatment of women.

But Franco is young, with a potentially lengthy career still ahead. Others, like entertainer Bill Cosby or Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, have been exiled later in life after they achieved much of what they hoped to be remembered for.

Some weather the storm. Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice after Anita Hill testified that he sexually harassed her while he was her supervisor in the federal government. Nearly three decades later, Thomas remains on the bench.

NBC analyst Mike Tirico’s past didn’t follow him to Pyeongchang. The ESPN alum reportedly made lewd and unwanted advances on women in the early 1990s and was suspended. There have been no further public complaints against him, and he is contributing to the network’s 2018 Olympic coverage.

In a very different case, fellow NBC personality Matt Lauer left the network late last year after multiple reports of misconduct, including one at the last Winter Games in Sochi.

Whatever the outcome, people are listening more than ever. And the rise of the #metoo era means there are now many mechanisms of accountability, says Lesley Wexler, a law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law.

Those can range from civil and criminal action to public condemnation and social-media whisper campaigns. Someone accused of misconduct faces a choice of paths as well, she says, from acknowledging harm and taking responsibility to actually repairing the harm.

“What that entails will scale based on the severity of what was done and what the victim wants and needs,” Wexler says. “Some victims may need more repair than others. Some victims may want more repair than others. We should be asking what do they want, what does the community want, and not what does Shaun White want.”

Men's halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White, of the United States, bites his medal during the medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Men’s halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White, of the United States, bites his medal during the medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

White reached an out-of-court settlement with his accuser, Lena Zawaideh, who had been the drummer in his band, Bad Things. If he wants to move on, Wexler says, he needs to address Zawaideh’s allegations more directly.

“The more clarity the better, because it reaffirms her status, as opposed to these vague, ‘I’m sorry if anything I ever did wasn’t good, but I’m better now,’” she says. “He engaged in wrongdoing. If he wants to move on, in the sense of community forgiveness, victim forgiveness, then he needs to do that.”

White’s status as pioneer — and now as legend — seemed certain to bring him future riches. His latest halfpipe triumph could have served only to further burnish his brand. After last week, though, it’s unclear what the personal or financial fallout could be.

“A lot of my friends grew up supporting Shaun White as the only snowboarder with any real name recognition,” says Jones, the college senior. “But in light of these allegations, they’re starting to change their views and examine the man as a whole, including his actions.”

Krispy Kreme launches new gold doughnut

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Krispy Kreme is teaming up with Hershey’s this Olympic season with one thing in mind – the gold.

The dessert powerhouses have launched a new limited-edition Gold doughnut that features Krispy Kreme’s iconic glazed doughnut topped with pieces of Hershey’s newest golden candy bar sprinkled on a salted caramel icing.

BUFFALO WILD WINGS TO OFFER ‘WING BLING’ IN HONOR OF THE OLYMPICS

The Gold doughnut is the latest in the partnership between Hershey and Krispy Kreme. Last year the two joined forces for a wildly popular Krispy Kreme Reese’s Peanut Butter doughnut.

Hershey's gold doughnut 2

The Gold doughnut is based off Hershey’s newest Gold candy bar — the fourth flavor ever released in the company’s history.  (Krispy Kreme)

The latest confection has a crunchy topping and caramelized crème base, like the new Gold candy bar from The Hershey Company, which is the brand’s fourth flavor ever introduced.

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The salty-and-sweet treat will be available for a limited-time beginning today at participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide.

Model seen returning to scene of alleged kidnapping in Italy

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Video of British model Chloe Ayling retracing her movements during the week that she was allegedly kidnapped and held for ransom was played in a Milan courtroom Monday during the trial of her alleged abductor.

The video showed Ayling, 20, walking investigators into the supposed photographer’s studio in Milan where her agent had arranged a modeling job. She signaled to police a spot near a doorway where she said she was grabbed from behind.

Video evidence of British model Chloe Ayling is played in court during a trial on the alleged kidnapping of the model, last summer, in a Milan courtroom, Italy, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Investigators into the kidnapping of a the model showed in court video footage of the young woman revisiting with police the places where she was taken and held for six days last July. A 30-year-old Pole, Lukasz Herba, is being tried for the kidnapping and was arrested after he released the 20-year-old model at the British consulate in Milan. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Chloe Ayling appears in video that was played in court at the trial of her alleged kidnapper.  (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

According to prosecutors, Ayling was drugged at the studio, zipped inside a canvas bag and transported to a farmhouse in the Piedmont region near Turin, where she was held captive for six days.

MODEL CHLOE AYLING ON KIDNAPPING: ‘IF IT WASN’T ME, I WOULD THINK IT WAS JUST CRAZY’

Investigator Gianluca Simontacchi told the court that Ayling broke down in tears as they reached the farmhouse, and had to be calmed by her lawyer before being able to continue.

A 30-year-old Pole, Lukasz Herba, who was arrested after releasing Ayling at the British consulate in Milan, is being tried for the kidnapping. Italian prosecutors are seeking to try Herba’s brother, who is in Britain.

Inside the building, Ayling pointed out a piece of furniture where she said she had been cuffed by her hands and feet overnight the first night. She then showed a bedroom, where she said later she shared a bed with her kidnapper; a photograph entered into evidence showed a blanket folded to create a boundary down the middle of the bed.

Finally, she showed investigators where she accompanied her kidnapper to buy food and a pair of sneakers in a nearby town before her release.

30-year-old Lukasz Herba, from Poland, attends a trial on the alleged kidnapping of British model Chloe Ayling last summer, in a Milan courtroom, Italy, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Herba is being tried for the kidnapping and was arrested after he released the 20-year-old model at the British consulate in Milan. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Lukasz Herba sits in court during his trial for allegedly kidnapping model Chloe Ayling.  (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

In court testimony, the grocery store owner’s son said that Herba had come to the store several times to buy fruit and vegetables, and that Ayling waited outside once.

A neighbor of the farmhouse where she was held testified that he had seen Ayling with Herba at least twice, and from a distance that it looked like they were a couple.

Ayling’s lawyer, Francesco Pesce, dismissed any notion that a video showing Ayling walking hand-in-hand with Herba shown at an earlier hearing cast any doubt on the kidnapping allegation.

“She was holding hands with Mr. Herba but she looked, at least in my opinion, she looked frightened, quite scared,” he said.

A police toxicologist testified that tests of Ayling’s hair indicated the presence of the drug ketamin, under the influence of which one remains conscious but disassociated from reality. Napolitano said there was a tiny hole on Ayling’s inner wrist consistent with an injection, but she said there was no way of knowing precisely when the drug had been administered.

“It corresponds perfectly to the picture we have of Miss Ayling she said,” showing a photograph of the model with her eyes half-closed, pupils dilated, that allegedly was circulated on the internet.

Herba’s lawyer, Bozena Katia Kolakowska, said his client would testify at the next hearing, and that he is expected to say that the kidnapping was a ploy to give Ayling’s modeling career a boost.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Oxfam says staff intimidated witnesses in Haiti sex scandal

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Oxfam workers suspected of sexual misconduct in Haiti intimidated and threatened a witness as the charity investigated the original claims, according to the organization’s report on the internal inquiry.

The findings were part of a previously confidential report released by Oxfam on Monday as the charity responds to newspaper stories suggesting it covered up allegations that seven employees used prostitutes on the charity’s property while working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country.

“We are making this exceptional publication because we want to be as transparent as possible about the decisions we made during this particular investigation and in recognition of the breach of trust that has been caused,” the charity said in a statement. “We are also meeting with the government of Haiti to apologize for our mistakes and discuss what more we can do, including for the women affected by these events.”

Simon Ticehurst, Oxfam director for Latin America and the Caribbean, met Monday with Haiti’s external planning minister and other officials. Ticehurst said he had shared the report and expressed “our shame and apologies to the Haitian government and to the Haitian people.”

Publication of the report comes as Oxfam seeks to move past the scandal after the British government on Friday suspended new funding to Oxfam’s British affiliate. Oxfam Great Britain received $43.8 million from the government in the 12 months through March 31, 2017, or about 8 percent of its revenue.

Oxfam’s report shows the investigation was triggered by an email alleging that staff members in Haiti had violated the organization’s code of conduct by using prostitutes in Oxfam guesthouses and engaging in fraud, nepotism and negligence.

While the inquiry was still underway, the line manager of one of the suspects leaked a report to another member of staff.

“This resulted in 3 of the suspects … physically threatening and intimidating one of the witnesses who had been referred to in the report,” according to the final report. “This incident led to further charges of bullying and intimidation against these 3 members of staff.”

Overall, Oxfam investigated allegations that seven members of staff used prostitutes on the charity’s property. Two of the seven were also investigated for “sexual exploitation and abuse of employees,” and two allegedly viewed pornography on Oxfam computers.

The director of operations in the country admitted using sex workers in his charity-funded accommodation but was given a “phased and dignified exit” as long as he fully cooperated with the investigation, Oxfam said in the report.

In total, seven staff members either resigned or were dismissed as a result of the investigation.

While the report confirms Oxfam’s previous statements that allegations of workers having sex with minors weren’t substantiated, it goes on to say that “it cannot be ruled out that any of the prostitutes were under-aged.”

The report also suggests that Oxfam failed to heed some of the findings of its own investigation. Recent news reports have criticized the charity for allowing some of those involved in the Haiti allegations to move on to jobs with other aid agencies, and the report highlighted this as area of concern.

In a section on lessons learned from the Haiti scandal, Oxfam agency said it needed to embed “women’s rights at the heart of what we do,” and implement better procedures to stop disgraced workers from moving on to new posts in the aid industry.

Will Sears Holdings Ever Turn a Profit?

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Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) pre-reported Q4 earnings to trumpet the fact that it made a profit in the fourth quarter. That’s surprising, given that it also said same-store sales dropped by 15.6% and overall revenue fell from $6.1 billion in Q4 2016 to $4.4 billion in the same period a year later.

Despite those bleak numbers, the company reported what looks like a big turnaround in its fortunes, in a filing with the SEC.

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Yes, Sears made a profit in Q4, but it did so because of a one-time tax benefit. Without the non-repeating tax gain, the company would have lost between $205 million and $355 million. But even that’s an improvement over the previous year’s loss when you adjust for the fact that the company is much smaller.

Will there ever be a profit again?

Sears closed Q3 with about $8 billion in assets and roughly $12 billion in deficits. Some of those assets are real estate, brand names. and other one-time sales. It could sell off some of those assets and report a “profit,” but it’s not a profit from ongoing operations.

That strategy has been what has kept Sears afloat. The company has been selling assets, including its Craftsman brand and its real estate portfolio, to cover for ongoing losses in its operations. The problem is that it’s running out of things to sell and sales haven’t stopped declining.

On the surface, the Q4 numbers look good, but how much profit there actually was won’t be known until the company releases its profit margin numbers. Sears and sister brand Kmart were selling much of their inventory at 30% off or more during the holiday season.

That’s not a sustainable model, and it’s likely the company has further increased the gap between its assets and liabilities. If that’s true, then the company’s “profit” was really just an early start on a going-out-of-business sale.

What’s next for Sears?

It’s hard to see a way forward for a retailer that has lost customers at a stunning pace for over five years. Sears is nearing the end of the line where it has to start showing profits from operations, not from one-time events.

Nothing in its operations suggests that Sears has a chance of doing this. The chain keeps cutting costs and closing stores, with survival, not long-term success, being the chief goal. The company can’t cut its way to a continued existence. It needs to win back customers, and the holiday same-store sales numbers suggest that’s not happening.

The tax cuts may have bought Sears a little more runway, but there’s very little the company can do with it. Not dying isn’t the same as being healthy. Sears may not be dead, but unless there’s a dramatic change in consumer behavior, it’s a question of when, not if.

10 stocks we like better than Sears HoldingsWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

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Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Can Cardano Replace Bitcoin and Ethereum?

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The cryptocurrencies bitcoin, ether, and Ripple have attracted the most interest from investors during the crypto frenzy of the last year. That’s not too surprising, considering they’re the three most valuable tokens by market cap and the only three worth more than $30 billion at the moment. But as the precipitous price declines of January demonstrated, things can change pretty quickly.

At the moment, the volatility is due to an overheated market and a fair share of investors who don’t know exactly what they’re getting into. But in the future, there will be volatility as newer, faster, and better blockchains emerge to replace older, slower, and less optimized ones. While bitcoin and Ethereum (the blockchain that supports ether transactions) are king today, a third-generation blockchain called Cardano aims to become the ideal version of the technology. Can it replace its predecessors?

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Introducing Cardano

Cardano is a fully open source, decentralized, and public blockchain and cryptocurrency (just like bitcoin, the blockchain and token share the same name). It spawned from a project between three entities: the non-profit Cardano Foundation, engineering firm Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK), and the Japanese company Emurgo, which works with businesses interested in adopting and integrated the Cardano blockchain.

The network is still in its infancy and has yet to publicly release all of the necessary updates, but Cardano has one thing going for it: It’s the first peer-reviewed blockchain. It was built from the ground up with the intention of overcoming the limitations — regulatory, privacy, and scaling — of existing blockchain technologies.

Here’s another way to look at it: Bitcoin was a first-generation blockchain that introduced cryptocurrencies to the masses, but it had, and has, its pitfalls. Second-generation blockchains, such as Ethereum, had the advantage of launching after learning from bitcoin’s faults. While overcoming certain obstacles of the bitcoin network, though, Ethereum has encountered problems of its own.

Cardano wants to use the power of hindsight to breeze past both of its predecessors. Here’s how the network compares to bitcoin and Ethereum (discussed in more detail below).

There are other distinctions between first-, second-, and third-generation blockchain technologies, but we’ll focus on two of the more important factors: consensus algorithm (protocol) and transaction data.

Consensus algorithm: This is just a fancy term describing the process used to determine who gets to complete the next block in the blockchain. You may already be familiar with proof of work, more commonly referred to as mining, in which rewards for completing the next block are proportional to the amount of computing power provided. It works, but there are certain drawbacks related to security, power consumption, transaction speed, and a few other things. Bitcoin and Ethereum currently use proof of work.

In proof of stake, rewards are proportional to the size of a user’s holdings. Think of it like a crypto dividend, where you’ll be paid just for owning a token. Counter to mining, this is called “staking.”

Bitcoin has no plans to move to proof of stake, but the Ethereum network is in the process of transitioning. There’s just one problem: No proof-of-stake algorithms have been mathematically proven to be secure.

That is, except for one called Ouroboros, which powers the Cardano network. In addition to providing unparalleled security — a key consideration for banking and defense customers and regulators — launching with proof of stake means the tokens can’t be mined. Instead, the entire stock of tokens is created at the beginning and either allowed to circulate at once or slowly released over time. There will eventually be 45 billion Cardano tokens, although right now there are roughly 30 billion in circulation. In other words, you can only buy ADA tokens on the market.

Transaction data: Consider the differences between buying a candy bar and a house. The former can be purchased with pretty basic information in a simple transaction. The latter usually requires much more information, a lengthy contract, and a more complicated transaction.

The amount of data handled in a transaction is a key differentiator in crypto tokens. Bitcoin can only handle basic information and transactions, similar to a fiat currency. That’s why it’s called a cryptocurrency, although it’s a bit misleading to refer to all tokens by that name.

Ether can technically be used both as a currency and to store contract information, but all of the information is stored in a single layer, meaning transactions don’t always proceed smoothly. It would be like buying a house in dollar bills — and having the contract written on the same dollar bills. That would make the transaction take significantly longer and be a less-than-optimal way to store the information for future reference.

Cardano will use a multilayered transaction data system. The tokens can be used as a currency and to store contract information, but in separate layers of software code. That will provide the ability to handle smoother, faster, and more complicated transactions than prior-generation blockchains. And that could help it attract more commercial customers and lead to wider adoption.

Investor takeaway

Bitcoin may have put blockchain technology on the map, but there are serious doubts about whether it’s close to representing the ideal future of currency or payments. The Ethereum network made improvements on bitcoin, but it’s now encountering its own problems as it scales.

Cardano is being developed as an ideal blockchain, having the advantage of learning from the roadblocks encountered by its predecessors. That said, the network is still in development mode, which means right now the token can only act as a simple cryptocurrency. The next major update in the second quarter of 2018 will release the proof-of-stake algorithm, the on-chain governance structure, and a few more key features.

Additional updates and releases will be required to realize the ultimate vision of the third-generation blockchain, but investors should expect it to grab a lot more headlines in the year ahead.

Bitcoin is overhyped: 10 better buys for you nowWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now… and investing directly in Bitcoin was noticeably absent from their recommendations! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are better buys.

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Maxx Chatsko has no position in any of the cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Colorado congressman, Columbine survivor, pushes to end gun-free zones in schools

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Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who was a Columbine High School sophomore at the time of the 1999 mass shooting, is pushing legislation that he says would protect students — by getting rid of gun restrictions in schools.

He has introduced the bill annually since he was elected in 2014, The Washington Times reported. Previous attempts have been turned down.

Neville, a Republican, told The Times the current law “creates a so-called gun free zone in every K-12 public school.”

Under Colorado law, concealed-carry permit holders may bring firearms onto school property, according to The Times, but must keep them locked inside their vehicles.

“Time and time again we point to the one common theme with mass shootings, they occur in gun-free zones,” Neville told The Times.

He added law-abiding citizens should be able “to defend themselves and most importantly our children from the worst-case scenarios.”

The massacre on Valentine’s Day of last week in Florida has renewed a nationwide debate about gun violence and how to prevent mass shootings.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was suspected of opening fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he was a former student, killing 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others.

Neville has contended, according to The Times, that more of his classmates would have survived the attack if faculty had been armed. In April 1999, two teens killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves inside Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado.

The congressman’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Georgia looks to drop electric voting machines in favor of paper ballots

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A unique effort is underway in Georgia to safeguard elections by taking voting machines back to the future.

“The most secure elections in the world are conducted with a piece of paper and a pencil,” said Georgia State Rep. Scot Turner. “It allows you to continue into the future to verify the result.”

Turner has proposed a bill that would retire Georgia’s electronic touch-screen voting machines and switch to paper ballots that voters would fill out and then be counted by optical scan machines. The technology has been in use for decades to score standardized tests for grade-school students.

Voting machines are set up for people to cast their ballots during voting in the 2016 presidential election at Manuel J. Cortez Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker - HT1ECB81RBICM

Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, also a Republican, said the electronic voting machines currently in use in Georgia are accurate and efficient and replacing them with paper would be a step backward.  (REUTERS)

“You can try and hack these machines all day long,” Turner said. “But that piece of paper that you can touch and feel and look at is going to give the voter the confidence that the election is actually being recorded the way it should have been.”

But Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, also a Republican, said the electronic voting machines currently in use in Georgia are accurate and efficient and replacing them with paper would be a step backward.

“The fraud we see in Georgia is with paper ballots,” Kemp said. “So, I would be very careful going back to the old days of the hanging chad.”

Hanging chad is a reference to incompletely punched card ballots in Florida that put the outcome of the 2000 presidential race in limbo for 36 days. The delay prompted calls nationwide for upgrades in voting technology.

Election workers hand check ballots for "hanging", "pregnant" or "dimpled" chads at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center, November 18, 2000. Republican George W. Bush was pleased that overseas absentee ballots had widened his lead in Florida and hoped the dispute over the state's presidential vote would be resolved soon, his campaign said on Saturday. MS/ME - RP2DRHYZNWAA

Hanging chads are incompletely punched card ballots in Florida that put the outcome of the 2000 presidential race in limbo for 36 days. The delay prompted calls nationwide for upgrades in voting technology.  (AP)

Georgia went to direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs). Voters select candidates on a touch-screen computer, which records their choices on an electronic ballot.

Georgia is one of five states still using DREs statewide without a physical paper trail backup. A sixth state, Nevada, uses DREs with a paper trail statewide.

The rest of the nation uses a patchwork of voting systems that vary from state to state and, often, countsy to county.

“I don’t know that there needs to be one specific way to cast a ballot and record a vote, but there are a number of best practices,” said Jeh Johnson, who served as director of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

Johnson said what’s crucial is redundancy — having a backup system for recounting votes if there’s a technical glitch or deliberate meddling.

paper ballot

Paper ballots have been phased out in much of the country but a proposed bill in Georgia would bring it back.

“The cyber threat to our country is going to get worse before it gets better,” Johnson said. “Bad cyber actors — whether they’re nation states, cyber criminals, hacktivists, those who engage in ransomware — are increasingly aggressive, tenacious and ingenious.”

Last year, DHS declared America’s election systems as “critical infrastructure” — underscoring the importance of protecting how the nation conducts democracy. Solutions are likely to vary from region to region, just as voting technology varies. And experts say that diversity is part of the protection.

Fox News producer David Lewkowict contributed to this report.

Jonathan Serrie joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in April 1999 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Atlanta bureau.

Report: California pot growers lagging in getting licenses

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Nearly two months after recreational marijuana became legal in California, less than 1 percent of the state’s known growers have been licensed, according to a report released Monday by a pot industry group.

The 38-page report from the California Growers Association says 0.78 percent, or 534, of an estimated 68,150 marijuana growers were licensed by the state as of Feb. 7. The association cited such obstacles to licensing as cost and regulatory barriers.

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A study published last year by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center estimated the newly created state market for recreational marijuana should produce $5 billion in taxable revenue this year.

At the same time, it estimated the market for medicinal marijuana, which has been legal in California since 1996, would decline from an estimated $2 billion last year to $1.4 billion in 2018, while about 30 percent of pot sales would continue through the black market.

If more of the smaller, independent growers are not licensed by the state, taxable revenue of recreational marijuana is likely to be lower than anticipated as the black market continues to flourish, according to the new report.

“The current system will not achieve its goals without fundamental and structural changes that allow small and independent businesses to enter into compliance,” the growers association report concluded.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control, which regulates the state’s marijuana industry, was closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday, and officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The growers association, which identifies itself as the state’s largest association of marijuana businesses, said it hopes to work with officials in getting more growers licensed.

“We must develop a regulatory framework that will effectively curb the environmental and public safety impacts of cannabis by providing pathways to compliance for businesses currently operating in the unregulated market,” said Hezekiah Allen, the group’s executive director.

“If they are unable to comply, the unregulated market is likely to persist and there will be an unnecessary strain on law enforcement resources,” he said.

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North Carolina teacher fired after video shows him body slamming student, reports say

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A substitute teacher in North Carolina was fired this week after video footage emerged of him apparently slamming a 12-year-old student to the ground.

The incident, which reportedly took place Wednesday at Western Guilford Middle School in Greensboro, was sparked after the teacher apparently took away student Jose Escudero’s Valentine’s Day chocolates.

Escudero told Fox 8 that the teacher took away the candy, and when he tried to retrieve the sweets and put them in his backpack after class, the teacher allegedly tried to stop him.

The teacher, according to Escudero, attempted to grab the box from him, before allegedly grabbing the 12-year-old by the shirt and pinning him against the wall before throwing him over his shoulder and onto the ground.

The substitute teacher was identified as Paul Stennett, 49, according to WXII.

CALIFORNIA TEACHER WHO SLAMMED MILITARY REFUSES TO QUIT, BUT IS CONDEMNED BY CITY COUNCIL

The video circulated Friday when Escudero’s mother posted it to Facebook “asking for justice.” She wrote that Jose was suspended for seven days following the incident.

“This kind of behavior toward a student is disturbing and unacceptable,” Guilford County Schools’ Chief of Staff Nora Carr told Fox 8 in a statement.

“We reported the behavior to law enforcement and will no longer employ this person as a substitute teacher or in any other GCS position,” Carr continued.

Officials told WXII that Stennett, who reportedly owns a daycare center in Henderson, began working for Guilford schools in December.

NORTH CAROLINA TEACHERS MUST REPAY BONUS HANDED OUT IN ERROR

Escudero and his mother plan to take legal action against both the school and Stennett, according to Fox 8.

The Greensboro Police Department told the Daily Mail that the video posted to Facebook “does not capture the entire incident,” and officials “are still interviewing people so it would be premature to place any charges at this time.”

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.

Court: Pardoned Peru strongman Fujimori can be tried again

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A court in Peru has determined that former Peruvian strongman Alberto Fujimori can be tried in connection with a 1992 massacre despite his recent pardon from a 25-year jail sentence.

The ruling Monday paves the way for Fujimori to stand trial again for crimes committed during his decade-long rule.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori in December from a lengthy prison sentence for his role in the deaths of 25 Peruvians and sanctioning the use of military death squads.

The pardon sparked protests and drew condemnation from human rights groups.

The new case concerns a 1992 massacre in which six peasants were kidnapped, tortured and killed by a paramilitary group. Members of the group said they received orders from superiors.

Fujimori was at the top of that chain of command.

Fergie's ex husband Josh Duhamel brings flowers following national anthem debacle

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Actor Josh Duhamel and singer Fergie announced their divorce roughly five months ago. However, the backlash from her recent disastrous national anthem performance at the NBA All Star game was so bad that her former hubby was caught bringing her some roses.

The film and TV star was spotted outside his ex-wife’s place on Monday along with their four-year-old son, Axl. The star opted for a dressed-down look in just a t-shirt and sweatpants, but it was his gift-bearing arms that held the biggest surprise.

The star arrived with a bouquet of roses, presumably for Fergie. It seems he’s hoping a combination of time with her son and flowers will help get her out of the post-anthem funk. As previously reported, Fergie appeared at the NBA All Star game on Sunday night, where she attempted to give a jazzy rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” While it was a bold choice, fans weren’t having it.

Josh Duhamel carries red and white flowers to Fergies home in Brentwood after her much ridiculed performance of the National Anthem. <P> Pictured: Josh Duhamel and Axl <B>Ref: SPL1661551 190218 </B><BR/> Picture by: / Splash News<BR/> </P><P> <B>Splash News and Pictures</B><BR/> Los Angeles:310-821-2666<BR/> New York:212-619-2666<BR/> London:870-934-2666<BR/> photodesk@splashnews.com<BR/> </P>

 (� www.splashnews.com)

The star spent most of Monday being lambasted by people on Twitter as well as stars like Roseanne. That would be enough to make anyone in need of a little pick-me-up, but it didn’t stop there. Things got so bad that Fergie actually released an apology for her performance.

“I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA. I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best,” the former Black Eyed Peas singer told TMZ.

As previously reported, Duhamel and Fergie announced they were divorcing in September 2017.

“With absolute love and respect we decided to separate as a couple earlier this year,” the couple said in a joint statement at the time. “To give our family the best opportunity to adjust, we wanted to keep this a private matter before sharing it with the public.”

Axl is the duo’s only child together.

North Korea&#039;s failed Olympians hope to avoid dangerous consequences

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As North Koreans return home this week from the Pyeongchang Winter Games, possibly without any medals, Olympians hope to avoid the gulags — a fate the losers of the 1966 World Cup are believed to have experienced.

Twenty-two North Koreans participated in the 2018 Olympics, with the support of the nation’s handpicked cheering squad, for the regime’s ninth representation in a Winter Games.

Competing in figure skating, skiing and ice hockey — as part of a joint team with South Korea — the country failed to medal in any event, surely disappointing leader Kim Jong Un, whose family allegedly sentenced the failed World Cup athletes to concentration camps for the loss.

July 19, 1966 - North Korea 1-0 Italy, World Cup Football, Group 4 match, at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, 19th July 1966. North Korean line-up (Credit Image: © Syndication International/Mirrorpix/Newscom via ZUMA Press)

The North Korean team which lost in the 1966 World Cup was allegedly sentenced to concentration camps for the loss.  (Syndication International/Mirrorpix/Newscom via ZUMA Press)

A survivor of the North Korea gulags, according to the U.K.’s Daily Star, wrote about meeting the World Cup squad at the Yodok gulag, where the team said they were imprisoned for losing 5-3 to Portugal.

In 2010, the losing North Korea World Cup team reportedly endured a six-hour “grand debate” in which they were criticized for their “betrayal of the trust of Kim Jong Un,” South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reported.

“Considering the high hopes North Koreans had for the World Cup, the regime could have done worse things to the team than just reprimand them for their ideological shortcomings,” an intelligence source told the outlet at the time.

“In the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who performed badly were sent to prison camps,” the source added.

North Korea has only won two Winter Olympic medals: a silver and a bronze, in speedskating and short-track speedskating. Kim has long pushed for stronger athletes, and in 2015 vowed to improve the country’s lackluster record.

February 12, 2018 - Pyeongchang, South Korea - 180212 North Korean cheer team during the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round match between Sweden and Korea during day three of the 2018 Winter Olympics on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang..Photo: Petter Arvidson / BILDBYRÃ…N / kod PA / 91962 (Credit Image: © Petter Arvidson/Bildbyran via ZUMA Press)

North Korean cheerleaders, pictured here at the 2018 Olympic Games, are reportedly handpicked by Kim Jong Un and North Korean officials.  (ZUMA Press)

In a statement titled “Let Us Usher in a New Golden Age of Building a Sports Power in the Revolutionary Spirit of Paektu,” Kim called on the ruling party to help athletes win at the Olympics, world championships and other international contests.

“Only sportspeople can cause the flag of our republic to be hoisted in the sky of other countries in peace time,” the statement said.

More on North Korea…

But the North was apparently unprepared for this year’s Games as the country didn’t even have a roster ready until January.

Only two of the 22 athletes that ended up coming to the Olympics had qualified in pre-Games’ competitions. It entered seven men and 15 women. All but three of the women were on the joint ice hockey team, which gave up 22 goals and scored just once in its first four games.

With so few athletes prepared when Kim announced on New Year’s Day that he wanted to send a delegation to the Games, the North instead dispatched more than 140 musicians, a demonstration taekwondo team, the 229-woman strong cheering squad and 21 journalists, despite the Olympics having received virtually no coverage back home in the North.

North Korea's Jin Ok (32), of the combined Koreas team, joins teammates Park Yoonjung (23), Park Ye-eun (11), Kim Selin (8), and Kim Heewon (12) during the third period of the classification round of the women's hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. Switzerland won 2-0. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

North Korea’s Jin Ok (32), of the combined Koreas team, joins teammates Park Yoonjung (23), Park Ye-eun (11), Kim Selin (8), and Kim Heewon (12) during the third period of the classification round of the women’s hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. Switzerland won 2-0.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

But, despite their losses thus far, North Korea might have a chance to medal.

Jong Kwang Bom, 16, is entered to compete in Tuesday’s men’s 500-meters short track speed skating race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.

Gulf cartel boss captured in Mexican state bordering Texas

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Mexican marines have captured an alleged top boss of the Gulf drug cartel in the northern border state of Tamaulipas.

A statement from the Mexican navy says the suspect it identifies only as Jose Alfredo, with no last name, was arrested in the city of Matamoros, which is across from Brownsville, Texas.

It describes him as the “presumed leader of a criminal organization in the region.”

A government official with knowledge of the case confirms the man detained Monday morning is Jose Alfredo Cardenas, nephew to former Gulf cartel leaders Osiel and Antonio Cardenas. The former is in a U.S. prison, while the latter was killed by Mexican security forces in 2010.

The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Lucky Charms adds first new marshmallow in a decade

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The magically delicious cereal is adding a little more charm to the mix for the first time in ten years with a new permanent “magical unicorn” marshmallow.

The white horse with pink-and-blue striped mane and horn will be joining the team of other marshmallows, or marbits as they are officially called, this March.

GENERAL MILLS’ NEW ‘LUCKY CHARMS FROSTED FLAKES’ MIGHT BE A JAB AT KELLOGG’S

The mythical horse was chosen in a “unanimous” decision by little boys and girls, General Mills revealed in a press release.

“Our goal is to not only create a cereal that families and cereal fans will love and enjoy, but to inspire magical possibilities and help spark imagination and fun no matter what the age,” said Josh DeWitt, marketing manager of Lucky Charms. “That’s why, after 10 years, we decided to introduce a new charm with the help of the keepers of magic themselves – kids. They spoke, and after hearing their love for the magical unicorn, we listened.”

The unicorn is the first ever to be “inspired by and created by kids,” the press release continued.

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However, the “cool and colorful” addition will be squeezing out another beloved charm – the hourglass marshmallow that has been part of the cereal marbit lineup for over a decade, having been added in 2008.

There have been several other marshmallows that have come and gone – pot of gold in 1994, shooting star in 1998 – but this is the first permanent addition to the cereal in ten years.

The sweet breakfast staple will now feature hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, rainbows, red balloons and now magical unicorns, according to the press release.

Californians can go home but told to keep watch on wildfire

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A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, but officials said they made some gains after the flames exploded in size.

The blaze scorched 3½ square miles (9 square kilometers) of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting.

Officials ended most evacuations that were ordered near the town but warned that strong winds were expected in the area and urged residents to remain vigilant.

It comes as California has seen some record-high temperatures and little rain after emerging from a five-year drought, helping fuel some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history late last year. U.S. drought monitors this month declared parts of Southern California back in severe drought.

In the most recent fire, several communities and campgrounds in the Pleasant Valley Reservoir area had been told to leave, said Cathey Mattingly, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

It’s not clear how many people had to evacuate after the blaze started Sunday, Inyo County sheriff’s spokeswoman Carma Roper said. But hundreds of structures were threatened, including the Laws Railroad Museum, a railroad station built in the 1880s, Mattingly said.

“We had pretty heavy wind activity overnight and we are expecting more windy conditions today,” Mattingly said Monday. “That is hampering firefighting efforts.”

She said at least 400 firefighters are working to contain the flames north of Bishop, a former mining town of about 3,800 that still celebrates mules each year with country music concerts, mule chariot races, log skidding and parades.

The fire broke out near the Pleasant Valley Reservoir and quickly grew to 900 acres. It forced the closure of a highway that connects rural Inyo County to Nevada.