Day after debate, Trump, Clinton square off again at roast
NEW YORK (AP) — Bitter presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have one more face-to-face showdown before Election Day. And they’re supposed to make it funny.
The venue Thursday night just 24 hours after their third and final debate is the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York, a white-tie gala that every four years becomes a showcase for presidential politics. Tradition dictates that the candidates deliver humorous remarks poking fun at each other and themselves, a jovial custom that seems hard to envision amid such an ugly campaign.
Trump regularly calls Clinton, “Crooked Hillary,” says he’d put her in jail if he wins the presidency, and declared during Wednesday’s debate that she was “a nasty woman. ” Clinton says Trump lives in his own reality, is running a “hateful, divisive campaign” and lacks the temperament to be president.
They sat one seat apart for the evening, with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan acting as the only buffer. And when they entered and took their seats, they did not shake hands or make eye contact.
Both took some early heat from the night’s master of ceremonies, Alfred E. Smith IV, the event’s namesake’s great-grandson. Smith joked that Trump approached Clinton before the event and asked how she was doing, to which Smith responded “I’m fine but now get out of the ladies’ dressing room. ”

Trump mocks critics: I’ll accept election results – if I win
DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) — Mocking his critics, Donald Trump pledged Thursday to fully accept the outcome of next month’s presidential election — if he wins. The Republican said he reserved the right to contest questionable results, deepening his unsubstantiated assertions that the race against Hillary Clinton could be rigged against him.
Trump’s comments came a day after his stunning refusal in the final presidential debate to say whether he would concede to Clinton if he loses. His resistance, threatening to undermine the essence of American democracy, was roundly rejected by fellow Republicans.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, called the peaceful transfer of power “the pride of our country. ”
“I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance,” McCain said in a lengthy statement. “A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility. ”
With the presidential race slipping away from him, Trump has repeatedly raised the specter of a rigged election, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud heading toward Election Day or in previous presidential contests. His top advisers and running mate Mike Pence have tried to soften his comments, only to watch helplessly as he plunges ahead.

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The Republican said he reserves the right to contest questionable results, deepening his unsubstantiated assertions that the race against Hillary Clinton could be rigged against him.
The U. S. military announced the first American combat death since the operation began, a service member who died from wounds sustained in a road side bombing.

For first lady, Trump is he who shall remain nameless
PHOENIX (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama has emerged as perhaps the most effective Donald Trump critic in the Democrats’ lineup, and she’s done it without ever uttering two key words: Donald Trump.
In her six campaign trail speeches for Hillary Clinton, the first lady has never said the Republican nominee’s name. She’s talked about “this candidate” and dedicated much of her time to a searing indictment of his words and positions. But throughout her buzzworthy takedowns, Trump remains the man who shall remain nameless.
Mrs. Obama didn’t depart from her rhetorical dismissal of Trump in Phoenix Thursday. Her appearance in Arizona was a mission to crack open new territory in a GOP-leaning state polls show is now competitive.
The Clinton campaign and Mrs. Obama’s staff are reluctant to discuss motives for the obvious omission. But Mrs. Obama’s rhetoric shows her trying to balance her position as first lady — a figure long viewed as out of the political fray — while also holding little back in a race she clearly feels strongly about.
At the rally in Arizona, she referred to Trump dozens of times, but in the abstract. “When a presidential candidate threatens to ignore our voices and reject the outcome of this election, he is threatening the very idea of America itself,” she told roughly 7,000 raucous supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Iraqi special forces join battle for Mosul, US soldier dies
BARTELLA, Iraq (AP) — In a significant escalation of the battle for Mosul, elite Iraqi special forces joined the fight Thursday, unleashing a pre-dawn assault on an Islamic State-held town east of the besieged city, and the U. S. military announced the first American combat death since the operation began.
U. S. officials said the American service member died Thursday from wounds sustained in a roadside bomb explosion north of Mosul. More than 100 U. S. special operations forces are embedded with Iraqi units in the offensive, and hundreds more are playing a support role in staging bases.
The American had been operating as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist in support of the Iraqi Kurdish force known as the peshmerga, the U. S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details.
Roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices pose a particular danger to advancing Iraqi forces and the U. S. advisers who are with them. The Islamic State group, which has occupied Mosul for more than two years, has prepared extensive defenses in and around the city.
As they charged toward the town of Bartella, nine miles (15 kilometers) from Mosul’s outskirts, the Iraqi special forces faced another favored weapon in the IS arsenal: armored trucks packed with explosives and driven by suicide bombers. The militants’ signature battlefield tactic, the weapons offered a glimpse at what Iraqi forces can expect as they close in on the extremists’ biggest urban bastion.

Turkey ramps up fight against Kurdish fighters in Syria
BEIRUT (AP) — Turkey escalated its offensive Thursday against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, pounding them with airstrikes and artillery, and complicating the battle against the Islamic State group by Ankara and Washington, both NATO allies.
In the fight for Aleppo, meanwhile, the Syrian military used a lull in violence to urge residents and rebels to evacuate the besieged opposition-held part of the city.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said as many as 200 members of the Kurdish-led forces were killed in Syria’s Aleppo province by the Turkish bombing and shelling.
A senior commander with the main Syria Kurdish militia confirmed the Turkish attack on his forces north of Aleppo but disputed the casualty toll, saying that no more than 10 fighters were killed.
Like in Iraq, where Kurdish fighters are at the forefront of the offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, Kurdish forces in Syria also have been battling IS militants and made significant territorial gains in Aleppo province. That has dismayed Turkey, which is dealing with a homegrown Kurdish insurgency and trying to prevent an expansion of Kurdish influence in Syria.

France warns UK premier of tough time ahead in Brexit talks
BRUSSELS (AP) — France warned British Prime Minister Theresa May at her maiden European Union summit that she would face a tough, unyielding bloc if she sought too many concessions during the negotiations to leave the 28-nation EU.
May briefed her European counterparts on the exit road for Britain and left leaders with many uncertainties about the divorce because Britain has yet to trigger the two-year negotiations for “Brexit” — and confirmed she is unlikely to do so until the end of March.
“It’s in the interests of the U. K. and the EU that we continue to work closely together,” said May, who immediately faced opposition.
French President Francois Hollande insisted that the EU would not surrender the bloc’s core values just to keep Britain close as a future ally.
“I have said so very firmly: Mrs. Theresa May wants a hard Brexit? The negotiations will be hard,” Holland said.

Most Syrian refugees arriving in US are kids; schools adapt
EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) — Seated at his desk at a suburban San Diego middle school, 12-year-old Abdulhamid Ashehneh tries not to let his mind wander to the painful memories of his life in civil war-torn Syria.
His father disappeared suddenly four years ago and, the family believes, was killed. Months later, Abdulhamid’s mother boarded a bus with her six children, the youngest 2, and fled to Jordan, the sound of bombs ringing in the distance.
“I think about my Dad a lot,” Abdulhamid said recently after practicing English at Cajon Valley Middle School, which has received an influx of Syrian children. “I wish he would come back. ”
Abdulhamid is like many of the Syrian refugees arriving today in the U. S. Nearly 60 percent of the more than 11,000 Syrian arrivals over the past year were children, according to the U. S. State Department.
That’s a larger percentage than some refugee groups, in part because Syrians tend to have larger families and many have managed to stay together despite displacement, according to resettlement agencies helping the families acclimate to the U. S.

US confirms 11th death due to Takata air bags
DETROIT (AP) — A 50-year-old woman who died after a car wreck last month in California is the 11th U. S. victim of Takata Corp.’s defective air bag inflators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed the woman’s death on Thursday but didn’t release her name. Up to five people also may have been killed by the air bags in Malaysia, bringing the number of deaths globally to as many as 16.
The agency said the woman, identified in Riverside County, California, coroner’s records as Delia Robles, 50, of Corona, was driving a 2001 Honda Civic. Riverside police said in a statement that a man making a left turn in a Chevrolet pickup truck was hit head-on by the Civic. The woman was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she died from her injuries, the statement said.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time,” Honda said in a statement.
Takata air bags can inflate with too much force, which causes a metal canister to rupture and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. Tokyo-based Takata, unlike other manufacturers, uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash.

UK to pardon thousands convicted under past anti-gay laws
LONDON (AP) — Thousands of men who were convicted under now-abolished British laws against homosexuality are to receive posthumous pardons, the government announced Thursday. Those who are still alive can will be eligible to have their criminal records wiped clean.
The Ministry of Justice said the pardons apply to men convicted for consensual same-sex sexual relations before homosexuality was decriminalized several decades ago. Men living with convictions can apply to the government to have their names cleared.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said the government was trying “to put right these wrongs. ”
“It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today,” he said.
Calls for a general pardon have been building since World War II codebreaker Alan Turing was awarded a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.

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