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Melania Trump book author accused of breaking nondisclosure pact

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US Justice Department says Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide who fell out with the first lady, failed to submit a draft of her tell-all book for government review.

The United States Justice Department has accused the author of a tell-all book about First Lady Melania Trump of breaking their nondisclosure agreement and asked a court to set aside profits from the book in a government trust.

In a complaint filed in the US District Court in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Justice Department lawyers said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide who fell out with the first lady, failed to submit for government review a draft of her book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, which offers an unflattering portrayal of President Donald Trump’s wife.

There was no immediate comment from lawyers for Wolkoff.

The complaint said the Justice Department has jurisdiction in the case because of the first lady’s traditional public role dating back to Martha Washington, wife of the first US president, George Washington.

The government asked that any profits Winston Wolkoff might realise from the book and subsequent movie deal or documentaries be set aside into a “constructive trust,” with the monies ultimately going to the Treasury Department.

Published six weeks ago, the book was for a time on the New York Times best seller list. It sells for $16.80 on Amazon.com.

“The United States seeks to hold Ms Wolkoff to her contractual and fiduciary obligations and to ensure that she is not unjustly enriched by her breach of the duties she freely assumed when she served as an adviser to the first lady,” said a copy of the complaint seen by Reuters News Agency.

It said Wolkoff and Mrs Trump, in August 2017, sealed a “Gratuitous Services Agreement” related to “nonpublic, privileged and/or confidential information” that she might obtain during her service under the agreement.

“This was a contract with the United States and therefore enforceable by the United States,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.

Wolkoff’s tenure at the White House ended in early 2018 after it was disclosed that her company had received $26m to help plan Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

She helped produce Trump’s inauguration and later worked for the first lady as an unpaid White House adviser.

The White House has dismissed her book as “full of mistruths and paranoia”.

According to a series of secret recordings released to and aired on CNN earlier this month, Mrs Trump expressed support for the care that migrant children separated from their families received in US detention centres

On the release of the tapes on October 1, the first lady’s chief of staff and spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said Wolkoff’s “only intent was to secretly tape the first lady in order to peddle herself and her salacious book”.

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Melania Trump to vote on Election Day, first lady’s spokeswoman says

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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center on October 24 in Circleville, Ohio.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center on October 24 in Circleville, Ohio. Evan Vucci/AP

Shortly after Ohio State defeated Nebraska on the opening weekend of Big Ten college football, President Donald Trump took credit for the return of the conference’s season. 

“And it’s great to be back in Ohio to celebrate the return of Big Ten football with a big victory today for the Buckeyes,” Trump told the crowd Saturday at a rally in Circleville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus. 

“So then I had an idea, I said I’m gonna get it open if it’s shutdown, that’s what happened,” Trump said. “And I worked hard to bring back Big Ten and I got together with your commissioner, he did a good job, and we got it back, and today you won your football game and you were very happy about it.”

Trump repeatedly pressured the conference to play football this fall, which it ultimately decided to do. However, it’s unclear how much influence the President’s pressure had on that decision despite him taking credit for it. 

CNN’s Harry Enten wrote earlier that Trump obviously saw a political opportunity with concern to the Big Ten. There’s a reason he focused most of his attention on the Big Ten suspending play, as opposed to the many other conferences that did. Most of those other conferences aren’t based in swing states.

And Trump wasn’t alone. Biden also made ads showing empty college football stadiums due to the coronavirus with the blame landing at Trump’s feet.

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Poland had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. They just got even stricter.

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Poland’s highest court on Thursday banned abortions due to fetal defects, a ruling that further narrows reproductive rights in a country with some of the most conservative abortion laws in Europe.

On Friday, protestors took to the streets and clashed with police in several major cities across Poland to demonstrate against what reproductive rights advocates say is effectively a near-total ban on abortions.

The Polish constitutional tribunal found that abortions in cases where “prenatal tests or other medical indications indicate a high probability of severe and irreversible fetal impairment or an incurable life-threatening disease” violate the right to life.

The only remaining reasons someone can get a legal abortion in Poland now are in the case of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. According to CNN, around 98 percent of legal abortions in Poland are conducted due to fetal defects.

Dunja Mijatović, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, condemned the ruling and deemed it a “sad day for women’s rights.”

“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights,” she tweeted. “Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford and even greater ordeal for all others.”

The decision prompted fierce protests in many cities. In the capital of Warsaw, protesters gathered outside the house of Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party, holding signs that read, “You have blood on your hands.” After protesters clashed with riot police, a Warsaw police spokesperson said on Friday that 15 people had been arrested and the police had filed 89 motions in court.

More protests are expected throughout the weekend. “In a few days, hell for women will begin in this country,” reads the Facebook event description for a protest planned this weekend in the city of Gdańsk, according to the Guardian.

Further restricting abortion isn’t likely to be a popular move

Over 100 conservative and nationalist lawmakers asked the constitutional tribunal last year to consider the legality of abortion in the case of fetal defects, something they’ve framed as “eugenic” abortion.

Critics say that the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has undermined judicial independence and packed the constitutional tribunal with partisans who will rule in favor of its political programs.

Political analysts say that the timing of the decision might reflect that tribunal’s desire to help buttress the PiS party’s political interests, particularly at a time when its governing coalition with a smaller, hard-right party is in a state of crisis.

“It’s PiS trying to score points with the far right,” Marta Lempart, an activist with Polish Women’s Strike, a grassroots movement focused on abortion rights, told Politico Europe.

The court’s ruling does not appear to be in sync with public opinion. “Although Poland is one of Europe’s most staunchly Roman Catholic countries, opinion polls suggest there is a clear majority against making the abortion law stricter,” BBC reported.

Former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk tweeted: “Throwing the topic of abortion and a ruling by a pseudo-court into the middle of a raging pandemic is more than cynical.”

Women’s rights organizations in Poland say that the actual number of abortions performed every year is far larger than the official numbers show — many are conducted illegally within Poland or legally in neighboring countries.

While the official number of abortions last year was 1,100, Lempart estimated that Poles conducted 100,000 to 150,000 abortions, either illegally within the country or across the border in neighboring countries with less stringent regulations on abortion.

The new ruling could push illicit abortions even further underground by making it an even rarer and more strictly regulated act — and that in turn could potentially make them more expensive.

“Safe abortion will effectively be accessible only to women who can afford it,” Lempart told Politico Europe. “Others will look for cheaper and therefore more dangerous options.”


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UFC lightweight champion Khabib retires after beating Gaethje

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Khabib Nurmagomedov chokes Justin Gaethje unconscious to retain title, announces retirement following death of his father and coach.

UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov has announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje to successfully defend his lightweight title and retain his perfect record.

The undefeated 32-year-old mixed martial artist from Dagestan, Russia, collapsed in the centre of the octagon and sobbed after choking his American opponent unconscious at UFC 254 on Saturday.

On getting up, he took off his gloves and left them on the mat.

“This is my last fight in the UFC,” he said.

His father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away in July due to complications caused by COVID-19.

Nurmagomedov said in the post-fight interview that he talked to his mother for three days before deciding to accept the fight against Gaethje in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

“There’s no way I’m going to be back without my father. I spoke to my mother. She don’t know how I fight without father, but I promised it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow it.”

The American troubled the champion with leg kicks but succumbed to a triangle choke in the second round as Nurmagomedov cemented his claim to be the most dominant MMA fighter of all time with a 29-0 record.

Social media erupted in celebration and tribute following Nurmagomedov’s win and retirement announcement.

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