President Donald Trump has gotten ahead of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, making one thing clear: There was collusion.
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As for changes to expect in 2019, Kuo says the iPhone XR successor may be upgraded to 4GB of RAM, while all models will include frosted glass casing, larger batteries, the ability to wirelessly charge other devices, and new technology for indoor positioning and navigation.
The new 5.8″ OLED may support DSDS, and the new 6.1″ LCD may be upgraded to 4GB. All of part of the new models’ main upgrades include Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) for indoor positioning and navigation, frosted glass casing, bilateral wireless charging for charging other devices, upgraded Face ID (with a higher power flood illumination), larger batteries, and triple camera feature (wide, telephoto, and ultra-wide lens).
Kuo also says all three models will include Lightning connectors rather than USB-C and have the same notch area as current models, contradicting other rumors of smaller notches.
Three weeks ago, Jussie Smollett was reported to be the victim of an alleged racist, homophobic attack. Now, after questioning two men originally thought to be suspects, police say new information has “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”
News of the reported assault went viral and was met with mixed reactions online, with many suggesting the incident is a hoax, something the actor has denied. On Saturday, CNN quoted law enforcement sources as saying the Empire actor paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him. Smollett’s attorneys have said that the actor feels “victimized” by claims that he “played a role in his own attack.”
Police are now seeking to speak again with the actor and have reached out to his legal team, while TMZ is reporting that a grand jury will hear the case next week. There was no immediate response from court officials or prosecutors. Courts are closed over Presidents Day Weekend.
Here’s a full timeline showing what we know about the alleged attack on Smollett:
January 22 – The Letter: Chicago police confirm that a threatening letter addressed to Smollett, containing a white powder, was sent to Cinespace Studios, the Chicago set of Empire. A HAZMAT unit is sent and the powder is determined to be crushed up aspirin, according to CNN.
January 29 – The Alleged Assault: Smollett, who is black and gay, reports to police that he was assaulted in Chicago by two men who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him. Authorities begin investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
According to NBC News, Smollett told police that he had just landed in town from New York and was attacked as he stepped out to get a bite to eat at a Subway restaurant around 2 a.m. on East North Lower Water Street, in the upscale neighborhood of Streeterville.
Two “unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the Chicago Police Department says in a statement. “The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.”
A source familiar with the investigation tells NBC News that the chemical is believed to be bleach.
Police say Smollett told them the attackers were men wearing dark clothing and ski masks.
“At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck,” the police statement says. “The offenders fled the scene.”
TMZ reports that as the men left the scene, they yelled, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump‘s “Make America Great Again” 2016 campaign slogan. Chicago police later say in a statement to to E! News, “In the initial reports there was no mention of MAGA. When detectives followed up with [Smollett] later in the day, he recalled the offenders making those comments and detectives completed a supplemental report.”
Smollett finds his own way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment and is said to be in good condition.
A police spokesperson says the actor “is fully cooperating” with their investigation.
January 29 – Celebs Rally Behind Smollett: …and call for #JusticeforJesse.
“You didn’t deserve to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘die f––––t, n––––r,’ or whatever they said to you,” Empire creator Lee Daniels writes on Instagram. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are, because it shows that we are united.”
TMZ reports that Daniels briefly posted, then deleted, a screen grab from a FaceTime session he had with Smollett while he was in the hospital.
January 30 – Two “Persons of Interest”? Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi tweets, “#ChicagoPolice detectives located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault & battery of Empire actor.”
Images of two figures walking on a sidewalk are then released by the department.
Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member. While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed pic.twitter.com/xJDDygtocr
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 31, 2019
January 31 – Donald Trump Voices Support Too: “That, I can tell you, is horrible,” the U.S. President, who Smollett has occasionally criticized online, tells reporters. “I’ve seen it, last night. I think that’s horrible. It doesn’t get worse as far as I’m concerned.”
January 31 – Police Release More Details: The Chicago police spokesperson says that authorities were called 30 to 40 minutes after the incident, and that Smollett and his manager, Brandon Moore, told authorities they were speaking on the phone with each other when it took place, according to CNN. The spokesperson says that because of the financial relationship between the two men, they are trying to verify the call was made and have requested phone records or the physical phones used for the call.
January 31 – Smollett’s Family Breaks Silence: The actor’s siblings voice their support for their brother, saying in a statement, “We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.”
February 1 – Smollett Breaks His Silence: “Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” the actor says in his first statement about the incident. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
“I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level,” Smollett adds. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
February 1 – More Public Support for Smollett: Members of the LGBTQ and black communities and their supporters gather at a New York City rally to express their solidarity with Smollett.
February 2 – Smollett Makes Onstage Appearance: An emotional and defiant Smollett returns to the stage for a pre-scheduled concert at the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood, marking his first public appearance since the reported assault. He tells the audience he is “OK” and had fought back against his attackers, and also jokes that he is the “gay Tupac.”
February 11 – Smollett Provides Police Phone Records: Police tell NBC Chicago that Smollett gave them a PDF file of redacted phone calls but did not provide “a download of the phone or a digital record.” The department spokesperson says, “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted. Detectives may be following up with him to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline.”
Smollett’s rep tells the outlet that information in the phone records given to police was redacted “to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack,” adding, “Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police. Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible.”
February 13 – Two Men Detained: Police arrest two brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who arrive on a return flight from Nigeria. They are questioned as potential suspects in the case.
February 14 – Persons of Interest Identified: Chicago police announce via Twitter that through a “meticulous investigation,” “detectives have identified the persons of interest in the area of the alleged attack of the Empire cast member. These individuals are not yet suspects but were in area of concern and are being questioned. Investigation continues.”
He recalls the incident and its aftermath, saying one of his attackers told him, “This MAGA country, n—-r’ and he punched me in the face, so I punched his ass back, then we started tussling. It was very icy and we ended up tussling by the stairs.”
Smollett says that after the men fled, he noticed he had a rope around his neck, and he started screaming.
“I smelled bleach, I know the smell of bleach, and I saw on my sweatshirt, it had marks on it, like spots on it when you have a bad bleach job,” he continues. “I was like, there’s bleach on me too. So when the police came, I kept the clothes on, I kept the rope..it wasn’t like wrapped around, but yeah it was around because I wanted them to see, I wanted them to see what this was.”
When asked why he hesitated to call the police after the attack, Smollett tears up, saying, “There’s a level of pride there. We live in a society where, as a gay man, you are considered somehow, to be weak, and I’m not weak. I am not weak. And we, as a people, are not weak.”
When asked if he believes the two people in the released surveillance image could be his attackers, Smollett says, “I do…’cause I was there. For me when that was released, I was like OK, we are getting somewhere. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them. I never did.”
Smollett also says police wanted him to give his phone to their tech for three to four hours.
“I’m sorry but…I’m not gonna do that,” he says. “Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers—my partner’s number, my family’s number, my cast mate’s number, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”
Smollett also adds he was “pissed off” at the criticism voiced by his skeptics.
“It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks,” he says. “You know, at first it was a thing of, if I tell the truth, that’s it, because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of like, oh, how can you doubt that? How do you not believe that? It’s the truth. And then it became a thing of, oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.”
February 14 – Police Cannot Confirm Incident Was a Hoax: ABC7 Chicago quotes multiple sources as saying that police are investigating whether Smollett and two “persons of interest” had staged his attack because he was being written off Empire. Fox says in a statement, “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
Chicago police say via a statement on Twitter, “Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted
@ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
The Chicago police spokesperson tells E! News, “Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney. While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax. The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.”
February 15 – Two Men Released: The Nigerian brothers are released without charges.
“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” the Chicago police spokesperson tweets.
One of the men has appeared on Empire, the Chicago police spokesperson told CNN, while a police source told the outlet that both men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, without elaborating.
The men’s lawyer tells CBS Chicago the two were “really baffled why they are people of interest,” adding, “They really don’t understand how they even got information that linked them to this horrific crime. But they’re not guilty of it. They know that the evidence is going to prove them innocent. They send their best to Jussie.”
February 16 – Former Potential Suspects Are Cooperating With Police: The two brothers who were interrogated by police and then released have agreed to fully cooperate with authorities, a police source familiar with the investigation tells NBC News, adding that the men were found to have purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store.
ABC News also quotes sources as saying that the brothers purchased the rope and adds that they agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives confronted them with evidence that they bought the item at a local hardware store. CNN also quotes a source as saying there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago.
So Did Smollett Make the Whole Thing Up? The police source tells NBC News the probe has shifted into whether the actor paid two men who were questioned in the case to stage an assault. On Sunday, ABC News quotes sources as saying that the brothers told authorities that Smollett allegedly paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the crime.
The outles quoted a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation as saying that detectives are trying to corroborate the account of Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo but that police have not yet independently verified the allegations.
Smollett’s Lawyers Issue a Statement: “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the actor’s attorneys say in a statement on Saturday. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” the statement says. “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity. Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate.”
Police Want to Talk to Smollett Again: “We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” the Chicago police spokesperson says in a statement on Saturday. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
He adds in a tweet on Sunday, “While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident.”
WASHINGTON — Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Sunday that a ‘‘crime may have been committed’’ when President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
McCabe also said in the interview with ‘‘60 Minutes’’ that the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the May 2017 firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.
‘‘And the idea is, if the president committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia’s malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, ‘‘Why would a president of the United States do that?’’ McCabe said.
He added: ‘‘So all those same sorts of facts cause us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?’’
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Asked whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was onboard with the obstruction and counterintelligence investigations, McCabe replied, ‘‘Absolutely.’’
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Sunday night.
McCabe also revealed that when Trump told Rosenstein to put in writing his concerns with Comey — a document the White House initially held up as justification for his firing — the president explicitly asked the Justice Department official to reference Russia in the memo. Rosenstein did not want to, McCabe said, and the memo that was made public upon Comey’s dismissal did not mention Russia and focused instead on Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation.
‘‘He explained to the president that he did not need Russia in his memo,’’ McCabe said. ‘‘And the president responded, ‘‘I understand that, I am asking you to put Russia in the memo anyway.’’
Trump said in a TV interview days after Comey’s firing that he was thinking of ‘‘this Russia thing’’ when he fired Comey.
Those actions, including a separate request by Trump that the FBI end an investigation into his first national adviser, Michael Flynn, made the FBI concerned that the president was illegally trying to obstruct the Russia probe.
‘‘Put together, these circumstances were articulable facts that indicated that a crime may have been committed,’’ McCabe said. ‘‘The president may have been engaged in obstruction of justice in the firing of Jim Comey.’’
McCabe was fired from the Justice Department last year after being accused of misleading investigators during an internal probe into a news media disclosure. The allegation was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington for possible prosecution, but no charges have been brought. McCabe has denied having intentionally lied and said Sunday that he believes his firing was politically motivated.
‘‘I believe I was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States,’’ he said.
In the interview Sunday, McCabe also said Rosenstein in the days after Comey’s firing had proposed wearing a wire to secretly record the president. McCabe said he took the remark seriously, though the Justice Department last September — responding last September to a New York Times report that first revealed the conversation — issued a statement from an unnamed official who was in the room and interpreted the remark as sarcastic.
McCabe said the remark was made during a conversation about why Trump had fired Comey.
‘‘And in the context of that conversation, the deputy attorney general offered to wear a wire into the White House. He said, ‘‘ ‘I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn’t know it was there,’ ’’ McCabe said.
In excerpts released last week by CBS News, McCabe also described a conversation in which Rosenstein had broached the idea of invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The Justice Department said in a statement that Rosenstein, based on his dealings with Trump, does not see cause to seek the removal of the president.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who is seeking her party’s nomination for president, told reporters after a campaign event Sunday in Las Vegas that if the people around Trump believe he cannot fulfill the obligations of his office, then they have a duty to invoke the 25th Amendment.
A favorite target of Trump’s ire, Warren said she has no special knowledge on whether there are grounds to remove Trump from office but said that ‘‘there are a whole lot of people who do see him every day who evidently were talking about invoking the 25th Amendment.’’
An inmate in southern Florida used his criminal skills for a good cause.
He and a group of four other low-level offenders in Pasco County, near Tampa, broke into an SUV on Thursday to rescue a 1-year-old girl who was accidentally locked in, according to CNN affiliate KABC-TV.
The mother of the child, Shadow Lantry, recorded the rescue operation and posted it on Facebook. The video has garnered more than 4,000 views, and shows the inmates in their prison garb using a clothes hanger to jimmy the lock of the Chevy Tahoe.
The mother told CNN affiliate WFTS-TV the incident began when the child’s father strapped the girl into a car seat in the back of the SUV and tossed the keys to the front seat. When he closed the back door, he realized the Tahoe was locked.
The inmates were repairing medians nearby when they and deputies rushed to help, KABC said. Lantry said in her Facebook video the entire operation took about five minutes and the baby was not hurt.
“Thank God for the criminals in the world. I respect all y’all,” Lantry says in the video.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told WFTS it was a unique situation, allowing an inmate to use his skill set to break into a car for the right reasons.
“There’s only a very small percentage of those criminals out there that want to fight us and want to attack us, but a lot of them, like these individuals, they know they made bad mistakes, bad choices, but they want to do the right thing in life,” Nocco said.
By Amir Vera, CNN
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By Tim Stelloh
A sixth grader in Florida was arrested after his refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance escalated into a confrontation with police and school officials, authorities said.
The unnamed boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence on Feb. 4, the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.
A local news outlet, Bay News 9, reported that the confrontation began after the student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, near Tampa, called the flag racist and described the national anthem as offensive.
Citing a statement provided to the Polk School District by the boy’s substitute teacher, the station reported that the teacher asked him, “why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.”
“They brought me here,” the boy replied, according to the statement.
After the teacher told him he could “always go back,” she called the school’s office “because I did not want to continue dealing with him,” the station reported.
The district did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday, but a school spokesman told the Ledger, a local newspaper, that students are not required to participate in the pledge.
The spokesman, Kyle Kennedy, told the newspaper that the teacher, Ana Alvarez, wasn’t aware of that policy and would no longer work with the district.
The boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, could not immediately respond to an interview request on Sunday, but she told Bay News 9 that Alvarez’s response “was wrong.”
“She was way out of place,” Talbot said, according to the station. “If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did.”
After the confrontation began, the school’s dean of students tried unsuccessfully to calm the student down, asking him to leave the class 20 times, police said.
“The school resource officer then intervened and asked the student to exit the classroom and he refused,” the department said. “The student left the classroom and created another disturbance and made threats while he was escorted to the office.”
According to Bay News 9, the student denied making threats.
The Lakeland Police Department said in a statement that the boy was not arrested for refusing to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom.”
“I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable for what happened because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled,” Talbot said.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.
Like it or not, and some definitely don’t, Ming Chi-Kuo continues to be one of the most listened to personalities when it comes to making Apple product predictions. Despite leaving KGI Securities for TF International Securities, Kuo keeps on churning insight after insight and tip after tip to keep Apple fans and observers curious about the company’s plans. In a research note to clients, the analyst unloaded a ton of information, some of which sound like common sense while others sound more like wishful thinking.
Apple is expected to launch new iPads in 2019, which is pretty much a no-brainer. The company isn’t about to let go of its share in that dwindling market, especially considering Microsoft’s renewed onslaught and Google Chrome OS’ threat. What remains to be seen, however, is what new iPads will come this year. In addition to two new iPad Pros, Kuo says that the company will launch a new 10.2-inch iPad as well as a new iPad mini, the latter providing more fodder to recent leaks and rumors.
The one product that continues to give Apple embarrassment is the AirPower wireless charging pad. After nearly two years since it was first announced, Apple might finally be ready to make good on its promise and launch the product at long last. A little more waiting is in order, though, as Kuo says it could happen any time within the first half of 2019, giving Apple more or less four months to take its sweet time.
They won’t be coming until much later this year, but Kuo does have some interesting things to say about the 2019 iPhones. According to notes obtained by AppleInsider, the analyst believes that the three new models will have some frosted glass but that’s pretty much the only visible difference between the 2019 and 2018 phones.
What’s more interesting, however, is the idea that this year’s iPhones will be able to charge other devices wirelessly, ala Huawei’s reverse wireless charging. That may sound odd and atypical of Apple, but it does play into the expected AirPods wireless charging case, which, in turn, goes hand in hand with the earlier AirPower prediction.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declined on Monday to comment on a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that he’d nominated the American leader for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, but did not deny the assertion, instead praising Trump’s efforts to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis.
“I’m not saying it’s untrue,” Abe told a Budget Committee session of the Lower House.
“The Nobel committee doesn’t reveal who submits nominations, or those who were nominated, for fifty years. In accordance with this policy, I’d like to refrain from commenting,” he added.
In response, opposition lawmakers argued that suggesting peace had already been achieved in the region would be inaccurate, and at odds with the nation’s recent decision to purchase new missile defense systems.
Abe’s remarks followed Trump’s surprising claim Friday that Japan’s prime minister had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his work toward easing tensions with North Korea last year.
On Sunday, the daily Asahi Shimbun reported that Abe had nominated Trump for the prize after the U.S. government sounded the Japanese leader out over a possible nomination, citing an unnamed government source.
According to Nobel rules, “neither the names of nominators nor of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize may be divulged until 50 years have elapsed.”
This year there are 304 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, out of which 219 are individuals and 85 are organizations, the Nobel Committee has said. The submission deadline was Jan. 31.
Abe’s reported nomination of Trump, if true, may have been based on his pragmatic view of the Nobel Peace Prize. In October 2014, Abe reportedly told ex-Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba that nominations for the peace prize are “rather politically motivated.”
Abe has tried to build a close relationship with Trump, partly because of his aspiration to keep the U.S. committed to the defense of Japan and its allies from the North Korean nuclear and missile threat.
The Japanese leader’s efforts have included many summit meetings and teleconferences with the U.S. president, pledges to buy expensive weapon systems produced by U.S. firms and even a red-carpet reception for Ivanka Trump when she visited Japan in November 2017.
“President Trump has been decisively working to resolve the nuclear and missile issues of North Korea. He held a historic meeting” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, Abe told Monday’s Budget Committee session.
Trump is also fully cooperating with Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, Abe said.
“Cooperating hand-in-hand with President Trump, I’d like to make all-out efforts to resolve the nuclear and missile issues as well as the abduction issue, as the most important agenda for our country,” Abe said.
Abe was answering questions from Yuichiro Tamaki, who heads the Democratic Party for the People, the second largest opposition force. Tamaki immediately criticized Abe’s response.
“You can’t comment on (the report), which I believe means you actually nominated” Trump for the prize, Tamaki said.
“If you believe the current situation in Northeast Asia is peaceful, I think it’s a problem,” Tamaki said.
“Nothing has been resolved. None of the abduction, nuclear and missile issues were resolved,” including those involving short- to medium-range ballistic missiles that are capable of directly hitting Japan, Tamaki said.
“We cannot help but say you are looking at the situation too optimistically. On top that, it would send a terribly inaccurate message to the world,” Tamaki argued.
Tamaki also said that the nomination, if true, would conflict with Japan’s decision to introduce two Aegis Ashore anti-missile defense systems.
Japan has decided to introduce the weapons systems — estimated to cost about ¥600 billion in total — citing the “imminent threat” of North Korean ballistic missiles.
The comment from Trump came Friday in a speech from the Rose Garden of the White House, when he said that Abe had sent a “most beautiful five-page letter” to the Nobel committee to nominate him for the prize .
Trump said he thanked Abe at the time, but added that he did not expect to win the prize, and that that was “OK.”
The U.S. leader said his work on the North Korean issue had prompted the move, noting that Abe “had rocket ships and … missiles flying over Japan, and they had alarms going off. … Now all of a sudden they feel good, they feel safe. I did that.”
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The Dose recaps All-Star Saturday Night, previews Sunday’s All-Star Game, and examines the fantasy fallout from the shakeup in New Orleans.
* Saturday Night Lights
Jayson Tatum got the festivities started on Saturday night by winning the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. After beating Grizzlies guard Mike Conley and then Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in the first two rounds, Tatum was matched up with Trae Young in the finals. He fell behind early and it appeared Young was going to cruise to victory until Tatum banked in a miraculous heave from halfcourt to take home the title.
Next up was the 3-point contest. Joe Harris, Stephen Curry, and Buddy Hield all advanced to the finals after strong showings in the opening round. Harris was up first in the finals and posted a solid score of 26 points. Heild went next and tallied 19. Then Steph stepped up, and it looked like he was a lock to win after he nailed each of his first nine shots. However, Steph slowed down after that and ended up totaling 24, which allowed Harris to hoist the hardware.
In the last event of the evening, Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo jumped over Shaquille O’Neal on his way to being crowned the NBA’s slam dunk champion. Dennis Smith Jr. of the Knicks advanced to the final against Diallo, but was no match for the kid from Oklahoma City.
* Making Sense of the AD Mess
The major story this weekend has been the Pelicans firing GM Dell Demps and naming Danny Ferry as the interim replacement.
So, from a fantasy perspective, the question now is: How does this impact Anthony Davis over the final two months of the 2018-19 season? New Orleans has 23 games left; how many will AD appear in?
As I discussed in my YouTube Q&A on Friday, I think there is now a decent chance that Davis has played his final game for the Pels. It has been an extremely uncomfortable situation for both AD, who has been booed in New Orleans, as well as for Alvin Gentry the coaching staff and the front office. As Gentry himself stated after Thursday’s victory over the Thunder, “this whole thing has been a dumpster fire.”
Davis injured his shoulder in that contest when he banged into Nerlens Noel in the second quarter. He exited the game and did not play in the second half, as he had already left the arena with his agent, Rich Paul, at halftime to get an MRI, which upset the Pels.
However, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, an MRI on Anthony Davis’ left shoulder showed a muscle contusion but “nothing too bad.” AD is in Charlotte for All-Star weekend receiving treatment. On Saturday, he said he’s unsure if he will be able to play in the All-Star game but was planning to do so. He will see how he feels on Sunday before deciding whether he can play Sunday night.
If it weren’t for the All-Star break, the Pels could probably use this shoulder ailment as an excuse to hold him out for at least a couple of weeks. However, if he plays on Sunday, it would be impossible to declare him medically unfit for New Orleans’ first game after the break, which is Friday, Feb. 22 at the Pacers.
Still, with a new GM in place and the owner clearly peeved, I think it’s possible they decided to shut him down and send him home. It will be fascinating to see how new GM Danny Ferry and Alvin Gentry address this issue next week when they get peppered by questions from reporters.
All things considered, I think the firing of Demps is potentially terrible news for Davis owners, as it adds to the unpredictability of the situation. As a result, if I owned him, I’d look to trade AD as soon as possible. Even if I got offered a player in the top-50 to the top-75 overall range, I think I’d have to pull the trigger. Even if the Pels decided to trot him out there Friday night, his minutes will be limited, and, should he suffer even the slightest injury, you know all parties will be looking for any excuse to keep him sidelined.
As far as other Pelicans are concerned, Jahlil Okafor would be the primary beneficiary if AD gets shut down. In the eight games Okafor started while AD was out due to his finger injury, Jahlil averaged a whopping 18.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks, while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor. He ranked 16th overall in nine-category formats during this short stretch. In my opinion, Okafor is a very smart stash and should be owned until we have a resolution to this situation next week. Julius Randle, who exploded for 33 points with 11 rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 39 minutes on Thursday, would also see his fantasy value spike if AD is out of the mix. Kenrich Williams would benefit as well.
* Kyrie Good to Go
Other than banter and buzz about which teams may or may not be on Anthony Davis’ list of preferred trade destinations, the only other notable news from Saturday was Kyrie Irving (knee) telling reporters that he felt healthy and will play in the All-Star Game on Sunday night. Kyrie missed the Celtics final two games heading into the All-Star break due to the knee issue, but was expected to suit up Sunday night. On Friday, Boston’s team president Danny Ainge said that Kyrie was “very, very close” to a return. Assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks on Sunday or during practice next week, Kyrie should be good to go for the C’s first game after the break, which is Thursday in Milwaukee.
*The Grand Finale
This weekend’s action comes to close Sunday night when the 68th NBA All-Star Game tips off at 8:00 pm EST at the Spectrum Center. Team LeBron, featuring a starting five of James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard are matched up against Team Giannis, who’s starting five includes Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Joel Embiid, Kemba Walker and Stephen Curry.
For those interested in such details, Team LeBron is a 6-point sportsbook favorite in most sportsbooks. The over-under for total points scored sits at 310.5. Here are the All-Star game MVP odds, according to OddsShark:
LeBron James +400
Giannis Antetokounmpo +500
Kevin Durant +600
Stephen Curry +700
Joel Embiid +750
Kemba Walker +800
Kyrie Irving +800
Paul George +800
Anthony Davis +1000
James Harden +1000
Kawhi Leonard +1000
Russell Westbrook +1200
Dwyane Wade +2000
Ben Simmons +2800
Blake Griffin +3300
Bradley Beal +4000
Damian Lillard +4000
Karl-Anthony Towns +4000
Klay Thompson +4000
Dirk Nowitzki +5000
LaMarcus Aldridge +5000
Kyle Lowry +6600
Nikola Jokic +6600
Khris Middleton +8000
D’Angelo Russell +10000
Nikola Vucevic +10000
My preferred play would be Russell Westbrook at +1,200. First, you want to find a guard or a forward that will have the ball in their hands frequently. In this type of game, big men are often left to pick up the scraps left behind by ball-dominant players. Thus, Steph Curry is tempting because we know he is capable of hitting five or six straight treys and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Kemba is also an enticing option, as he’s the hometown favorite and has a built-in advantage. However, we know Westbrook is an attack mode every second he steps on the floor, even in All-Star exhibitions. As proof, he has already twice been named the game’s MVP. In 2015 in New York, he exploded for a game-high 41 points, on 16-for-28 shooting from the floor and 5-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line, to go along with five rebounds and three steals. He finished just one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game record of 42 points. The following year, in Toronto, he tallied 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists to win a second consecutive MVP award.
Other players to win two All-Star game MVP’s are Bob Cousy, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone and Allen Iverson. Russ will be looking to join the rare company of players that have each won the award three times: Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James. There are only two players, Bob Pettit and Kobe Bryant, to win a total of four All-Star Game MVP’s.
Contemporary stars gather to pay tribute to Elvis on NBC. And “Last Week Tonight” returns to HBO.
What’s on TV
ELVIS ALL-STAR TRIBUTE 9 p.m. on NBC. In December 1968, a tan, leather-clad Elvis Presley slinked onto American TV screens in what has become known as the “’68 Comeback Special,” a TV performance that helped resuscitate the singer’s career at a time when bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had largely eclipsed him. This special gathers together a satisfyingly varied group of performers to pay tribute to the King. Among them are: Jennifer Lopez, who will perform a cover of “Heartbreak Hotel”; Ed Sheeran, performing “Can’t Help Falling in Love”; Shawn Mendes, singing “Hound Dog”; John Legend performing “A Little Less Conversation”; Carrie Underwood and Yolanda Adams doing a medley of gospel songs once sung by Presley; and Keith Urban singing “It’s Now or Never” with Post Malone.
THE NUN’S STORY (1959) 8 p.m. on TCM. Audrey Hepburn plays the privileged daughter of a famous surgeon in this Fred Zinnemann-directed movie, which delivered Hepburn an Academy Award nomination. Her character’s transformation into her life as a nun is the focus of the story, which was adapted from a novel by Kathryn Hulme. “To characterize this handsome picture as a conventional drama or romance or perhaps as an odd adventure story is a perilous thing to do, for it doesn’t fit any category in an easy and obvious way,” Bosley Crowther wrote in his 1959 review for The New York Times. He said that the movie delivers Hulme’s story “quietly, beautifully and sensitively.”
KEN JEONG: YOU COMPLETE ME, HO Stream on Netflix. Ken Jeong, the “Hangover” and “Crazy Rich Asians” actor, returns to where he started out — the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena, Calif. — for this comedy special. He discusses his unusual background (he used to be a doctor), meeting Tom Hanks and being recognized by the defendant at a murder trial after being called in for jury duty.
THE PARTY (2018) Stream on Hulu. Sally Potter’s gloomy black-and-white comedy stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall as a married couple throwing what is meant to be a celebratory party. It’s a bad one, spoiled by narcissistic friends and betrayal, but its guests are very recognizable: Patricia Clarkson, Cherry Jones, Cillian Murphy and others make appearances. The movie features “some very fine actors and a lot of empty chatter,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The Times.