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Nation and World briefs for April 20

Bill O’Reilly out at Fox News Channel after 20 years

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel’s parent company fired Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday following an investigation into harassment allegations, bringing a stunning end to cable news’ most popular program and one that came to define the bravado of his network over 20 years.

O’Reilly lost his job on the same day he was photographed in Rome shaking the hand of Pope Francis.

The downfall of Fox’s most popular — and most lucrative — personality began with an April 2 report in The New York Times that five women had been paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about unpleasant encounters with O’Reilly, who has denied any wrongdoing. Dozens of his show’s advertisers fled within days, even though O’Reilly’s viewership increased.

O’Reilly’s exit came nine months after his former boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.

Following the Times story, 21st Century Fox said it had asked the same law firm that investigated Ailes to look into O’Reilly’s behavior. 21st Century Fox leaders Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said in a memo to Fox staff that their decision to ax O’Reilly came following an “extensive review” into the charges.

Israeli defense officials: Assad still has chemical weapons

JERUSALEM (AP) — Syria still has up to three tons of chemical weapons, Israeli defense officials said Wednesday in the first specific intelligence assessment of President Bashar Assad’s weapons capabilities since a deadly chemical attack earlier this month.

The estimate came as the head of the international chemical weapons watchdog said laboratory tests had provided “incontrovertible” evidence that victims and survivors of the April 4 attack in northern Syria were exposed to sarin nerve gas or a similar banned toxin.

Israel, along with the United States and much of the international community, has accused Assad’s forces of carrying out the attack, which killed at least 90 people, including dozens of children.

A senior Israeli military official said Israeli intelligence believes Syrian military commanders ordered the attack, with Assad’s knowledge. Briefing reporters, he said Israel estimates Assad still has “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons.

The assessment was confirmed by two other Israeli defense officials. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity under military briefing rules.

Teenager killed as Venezuelans march against government

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A teenager was shot dead as tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of Caracas on Wednesday in what’s been dubbed the “mother of all marches” against the embattled socialist.

Carlos Romero, just three days away from celebrating his 18th birthday, was walking home from a soccer game when he bumped into pro-government militias stalking a small pocket of protesters, a close family friend Melvin Sojo, told The Associated Press at the hospital where doctors tried in vain to save the boy’s life.

Sojo, who grew up in the Romero home, said police and two people who rushed his brother to the hospital told him the boy had been shot in the head by pro-government groups. Official confirmation of Sojo’s account was not immediately available, and the county’s energy minister said the boy was killed during an attempted assault.

He’s the sixth person killed since protests began three weeks ago over the Supreme Court’s decision to strip the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers after a year-long power battle.

Energy Minister Luis Motta Dominguez told lines of state workers preparing to join a large countermarch that the reports of the boy’s death at the hands of pro-government groups were false, saying he had been killed during a botched assault, and that they would have to use all their political weaponry to combat the lies of Maduro’s “fascist” opponents.

Runoff in Georgia House race could test Trump, opposition

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — A narrow miss by a Democratic newcomer in a conservative Georgia House district has triggered a high-stakes runoff that could test President Donald Trump’s influence and the limits of the backlash against him.

Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide fueled by a colossal fundraising haul from out-of-state donors, came within two percentage points of an outright majority win Tuesday in an 18-candidate field in Georgia’s traditionally Republican 6th Congressional District.

In second place in the special election, but lagging far behind with just under 20 percent of the vote, was Republican Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state well known to voters. Handel had treated Trump gingerly in a district the president barely carried, but declared Wednesday she’d like to see him campaign for her ahead of the June 20 runoff.

“We want everybody who is supportive of Republicans, so absolutely,” Handel told The Associated Press after taking a congratulatory call from Trump Wednesday morning. “We are going to be united from this point going forward.”

Trump, who attacked Ossoff in recent days as a liberal shill and mocked him for living outside of the district, crowed Wednesday on Twitter about the outcome in Georgia following Democrats’ failure to win a different special election in Kansas last week.

 

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