Sen. Mitt Romney admits to being behind ‘Pierre Delecto’ Twitter account

DKart/iStock(NEW YORK) — Sen. Mitt Romney has admitted to using a secret Twitter account to monitor and comment on political discussions not only to defend himself but also to criticize other high-profile players- including President Donald Trump.

The tale began when, in a lengthy profile about the senator, The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins asked Romney about his social media habits and the senator admitted to having a “lurker” account on Twitter that he could use to secretly track certain topics and conversations.

Hidden in his answers was enough information for Slate’s Ashley Feinberg to link Romney to Twitter user @qaws9876, though now known by its more eyebrow-raising display name — “Pierre Delecto.”

One of the ways Feinberg was able to connect Romney to Delecto was by comparing who the two accounts were following.

The very first account Delecto followed was none other than Romney’s eldest son Tagg, followed by Glen Johnson, who was covering Romney around the time the account was created, as well as several advisers to Romney, including Mark DeMoss and Eric Fehrnstrom.

Since the Slate piece was published, Coppins reached out to Romney to ask about the newly-discovered Twitter account, to which the senator confirmed, “C’est moi,'” or, in English, “It’s me.”

Although the account has since been changed to private- hiding all likes, retweets, and the 10 tweets made by the user- Feinberg managed to take screenshots and embed most of the relevant posts in her article.

Replying to a post by Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who had shared a piece by Politico criticizing Romney’s strategy in dealing with Trump, Delecto tweeted, “Jennifer, you need to take a breath. Maybe you can then acknowledge the people who agree with you in large measure even if not in every measure.”

Similarly, former CNN anchor and current talk show host Soledad O’Brien commented on Romney’s “utter lack of a moral compass” for considering not endorsing Trump in 2020. Delecto responded to her, saying, “only Republican to hit Trump on Meuller (sic) report, only one to hit Trump on character time and again, so Soledad, you think he’s the one without moral compass?”

Romney has been attacked by Trump critics for not taking stronger — and more public — stands against the president. The Delecto account provided Romney with a means of speaking his mind regarding Trump’s actions.

More recently, the account explicitly attacked Trump for his, “awful decision” to withdraw troops from Syria, which Romney has publicly condemned, adding, “but what could the Senate do to stop it?”

Though the senator has not revealed the source of his alias, Twitter users have been trying everything from anagrams to Latin translations in an attempt to decode some hidden meaning, with no luck as of yet.

#PierreDelecto started trending nationally across Twitter early Monday, beginning with confusion and quickly evolving to become the joke of the day.

Users were quick to point out that Delecto is just the latest in a long line of secret “lurker” accounts used by politicians and other public figures to keep an eye on discussions about themselves or participate in conversations they might otherwise be unable to with their official accounts.

One comparison being made is between Delecto and James Comey’s secret Twitter account under the name Reinhold Niebuhr- which also caught the attention of thousands of Twitter users when it was first discovered.

In fact, this is not even the first time Romney used a fake name.

According to the Stanford Daily in 2012, when Romney was a freshman at Stanford University, he used the name “Tim Yenmor,” or Mitt Romney backwards without one T, when he was quoted in an article about school pranks.

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

US has quietly reduced troops in Afghanistan by 2,000

MivPiv/iStock(KABUL, Afghanistan) — U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan have been quietly reduced by 2,000 troops over the past year, even without a peace deal with the Taliban, according to the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.

General Austin “Scott” Miller announced the troop reduction in response to a question during a news conference in Kabul with visiting Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

“We’re always looking to optimize the force” in Afghanistan, Miller said. “Unbeknownst to the public as part of our optimization. Over the last year … we’ve reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here.”

The reduction means there are now 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from the 15,000 authorized top troop levels in place when Miller took over command a year ago.

The troop reduction appears to have taken place gradually over the past year and separate from peace talks with the Taliban, where the U.S. offered to reduce troop levels to 8,600.

With 17 U.S. military service members killed in combat this year, 2019 has been the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the end of 2014 when the combat mission transitioned to a training, advise and assist mission to help Afghan security forces.

Politico reported in August that a troop presence of 13,000 had been enabled by the reduction in the number of headquarters troops.

Miller explained the reduction as being part of “a constant look as a military commander to optimize the force here.”

He said that involves balancing the capabilities his forces would need for future missions along with the potential risks a troop reduction could bring.

“Where I sit right now as I make my recommendations through my military chain of command, I’m confident that we have the right capabilities to, one reach our objectives, as well as continue train, advise and assist throughout the country,” said Miller.

Esper said the troop reduction was in line with requests he’s made to emphasize the priorities of the National Defense Strategy that focuses on Russia and China as the biggest threats.

“I’m asking all of our commanders to make sure that we have sufficient troops on the ground to perform those tasks,” he said. “Not any more or not any less than what we need otherwise.”

Esper previously told reporters while en route to Afghanistan that a reduction of U.S. troops to 8,600 as proposed in the Taliban talks, would be conditions-based and not hurt the ability to carry out a counterterrorism mission against al Qaeda and the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.

The Defense Secretary also said he still believes that a peace agreement with the Taliban is the best way to enable a U.S. troop reduction to 8,600.

“It’s best to do these things as part of a broader political agreement, so I think that also gives you greater confidence as you go down to 8,600 you can manage it in a much more efficient manner, a safer manner, as you do the drawdown,” Esper said.

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Congo’s Ebola outbreak, now concentrated in a gold mining area, remains a global emergency: WHO

Cesare Ferrari/iStock(LONDON) — The World Health Organization says the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to pose an international emergency as the deadly virus emerges in a remote gold mining area.

The global health arm of the United Nations convened its technical advisory committee on Friday to review the situation since first declaring the Ebola epidemic — the second-deadliest in history — a “public health emergency of international concern” on July 17. The rare designation, which often mobilizes more resources and commands global attention, will be maintained for at least another three months.

“This remains a complex and dangerous outbreak,” WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Friday, after accepting the committee’s recommendation to keep the emergency status.

A total of 3,239 people have reported symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern provinces of North Kivu, Ituri and South Kivu since Aug. 1 of last year, according to Congolese health officials, and 3,123 of those individuals have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which is transmitted through contact with blood or secretions from an infected person and causes an often-fatal type of hemorrhagic fever.

There have been 2,169 deaths so far, including 2,053 people who died from confirmed cases of Ebola. The other deaths are considered probable cases. Just over a thousand people sickened with the virus have recovered, according to Congolese health officials.

This is the 10th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the most severe there since 1976, when scientists first identified the virus near the eponymous Ebola River. It’s also one of the worst on record anywhere, second only to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in multiple West African nations that infected 28,652 people and killed 11,325, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The WHO director-general on Friday noted the “very impressive progress” since the advisory committee last met, with the expanded screening and contact tracing, strengthened infection prevention and control, intensified preparedness efforts in neighboring nations and the implementation of new vaccination strategies.

“So far, these efforts are working,” Tedros said.

The number of new Ebola cases has consistently declined each week for the past month. There were just 15 new confirmed cases reported during Oct. 7-13, compared with the peak of nearly 130 cases during one week in April, according to the WHO’s advisory committee.

Health officials have managed to contain the virus in former hot spots such as Beni, a conflict-torn Congolese city that was the initial epicenter of the current outbreak. They have also successfully prevented further transmission in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, as well as in Uganda, where an infected Congolese family traveled across the border in June.

“But these encouraging trends should be interpreted with caution,” Tedros warned.

While the number of affected areas has reduced, there has been a shift in hot spots from urban settings to more rural, remote communities with “major security challenges,” according to the WHO’s advisory committee. Many of the most recent cases were clustered in the Biakato Mine area in northeastern Ituri province, where there is both legal and illegal mining activities for gold, diamonds and other minerals.

“Although the outbreak is now concentrated in a smaller geographic area,” Tedros said, “that region is more rural and difficult to reach.”

This is the first Ebola outbreak to occur in an active war zone. Health workers have faced sporadic attacks by armed groups operating in the region, which have hampered response efforts. Political instability, a highly mobile population, community mistrust and the spread of misinformation have also posed challenges to bringing the yearlong epidemic under control.

The WHO director-general said the risk of spread within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to neighboring nations remains “very high,” but still low at the global level. The advisory committee will meet again to reassess the situation in three months.

“We must treat every case as if it is the first, because every single case has the potential to spark a new and bigger outbreak,” Tedros said. “Until we reach zero cases, we are in full response mode.”

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

2 dead after plane vanishes from radar and crashes near NC airport

dmadau/iStock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — Two people have been confirmed dead after a small plane vanished from radar and crashed.

After hours of searching, authorities in North Carolina found the Piper PA-32-301 plane that vanished from radar near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Sunday night.

The privately-owned aircraft was found on the ground near a hiking trail in the William B. Umstead State Park, east of the airport. There were two casualities found said Sgt. Michael Baker, North Carolina State Highway Patrol during a press conference.

Crystal Feldman, VP of Communications, Government and Community Relations at the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority said details about the two victims could not be shared at this time.

The National Transportation Safety Board — which participates in the investigation of aviation accidents — is investigating the crash.

Air traffic controllers with the Federal Aviation Administration alerted the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority on Sunday at around 7:30 p.m. local time that radar contact was lost with a Piper PA32 approaching the airport, according to a statement from the FAA. The single-engine aircraft typically has around six seats.

The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority was advised that the plane had disappeared in the vicinity of William B. Umstead State Park. More than a dozen local and state agencies were on the ground in the area and overhead in the air searching for the aircraft since then, according to a press release from the airport authority.

“Umstead State Park is 5,200 acres of dense forest, with few roads and little to no light,” said Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “Recovery efforts are extremely challenging in remote areas and it could take a long time to find this plane.”

Authorities asked members of the public to avoid the area around the state park until further notice.

The runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport was shut down immediately after the FAA alert, but then reopened and resumed normal operations later that evening. Commercial operations remained normal Monday, according to the airport authority.

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Report: ‘Suicide Squad’ co-star Jared Leto tried to get ‘Joker’ stopped

Clay Enos/Nikos Tavernise – Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (LOS ANGELES) — While fans were rightly confused last year when Warner Bros. announced plans to make a standalone Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix AND a second Suicide Squad movie, apparently Suicide Squad star Jared Leto was livid.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Leto was “alienated and upset” that Todd Phillips’ darker take on the comic villain was given the go-ahead with another actor.  And although Leto’s former rep denied it, the Oscar- winning actor and 30 Seconds To Mars frontman reportedly lobbied both his acting agency and his music manager to pressure Warner Bros. to pull the plug on the Joker movie.

Fast forward to the present: Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix has become a smash, and Leto isn’t involved in the Suicide Squad sequel.

Not helping his case, arguably, was fan reaction to Leto’s, um, “interesting” take on the character, as well as long-simmering bad blood between Leto and the sequel’s writer-director James Gunn.

There was also the matter of the used condoms and live rats Leto sent to his Suicide Squad co-stars — as part of getting into “character” — for the role. 

Leto also isn’t involved in 2020’s Birds Of Prey, the stand-alone adventure starring his Suicide Squad co-star Margot Robbie as Joker’s ex-girlfriend, Harley Quinn.

Attempting to explain Leto’s reaction, The Hollywood Reporter quotes an insider as saying, “How do you play the Joker you established following [Phoenix]? It kind of ends [Leto’s] Joker run.”

The second Suicide Squad film, titled The Suicide Squad, comes out August 6, 2021.

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Francis Ford Coppola: Marvel movies are “despicable”; James Gunn fires back

Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images(LYON, FRANCE) — Not only does Francis Ford Coppola support his fellow film-making legend Martin Scorsese’s opinion that superhero movies “aren’t cinema,” he’s now gone even further, calling them “despicable.”

According to The Guardian, the Godfather series director declared, “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right, because we expect to learn something from cinema; we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration.”

“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again,” said the 80-year-old filmmaker to journalists after receiving Lyon’s Prix Lumiere award for his contribution to cinema.

“Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Coppola’s next film is his long-in-development opus Megalopolis, which he described as is his “most ambitious” ever. 

As he did when Scorsese made his Marvel movie fan-riling comments, Guardians of the Galaxy series director James Gunn took to Instagram to rebut Coppola.

“Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them ‘despicable,’ Gunn wrote.

“Some of our great-grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same,” he continued. “I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, ‘I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!'”

Gunn added, “Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies…not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay.”

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.



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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

11-month-old shot 4 times in grave condition, 2-year-old shot dead in mom’s arms; police beg public for information

WPVI(PHILADELPHIA) — A 2-year-old girl was shot in the head and died in her mother arms one day after an 11-month-old boy was shot four times and critically wounded — and Philadelphia police are now begging for the public’s help to solve both cases.

The first shooting was Saturday night when the 11-month-old boy, who was in the back of a car, was shot once in the head, once in the neck and twice in the buttock, said Capt. Nicholas Brown of the Philadelphia Police Department.

The baby boy is in “very, very critical condition,” Brown said at a news conference on Monday.

He has no chance for a full recovery and if he survives he most likely will be a quadriplegic, Brown said.

Someone else in the car may have been the intended target, Brown said.

The next day, a 2-year-old girl was in her home, in her mother’s arms, when she was shot in the head, police said. She died at the scene.

Her mother and another person in the home were injured, said police.

A gunman had fired an automatic rifle through the front of the house, leaving six bullet holes, said police.

Authorities said it is “safe to assume” the house was targeted, but that the motive for both shootings are not clear.

A $30,000 reward has been offered for information that helps solve either of the crimes.

Police Commissioner Christine Coulter noted that these shootings — in a car and in a home — are traumatic for other local children and “can’t help but shock and upset their sense of security.”

“You should always feel you’re OK in your home,” Coulter said. “You should feel when you’re with your parents you’re safe … it just makes it even more upsetting.”

The community and law enforcement were also feeling the impacts.

“It was so evident looking at the neighbors and the despair on their faces and the tears in the eyes of the police officers,” Coulter said.

“These scenes should not continue to happen in our city … we have to do better,” Coulter said. “Please help us start reducing this violence and keeping our children safe.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said at the news conference that weapons are “flowing” into the city “like a river.”

“Outraged, disgusted, and heartbroken by the violence this weekend that claimed the life of an innocent 2-year-old and left another infant fighting for his life,” Kenney tweeted Sunday. “Philadelphians should not live in fear of violence that could take away a child’s life. But for too many, this is a sad reality. With the unabated flow of illegal guns and drugs, we must do whatever we can locally to address violence and help residents.”

“I urge the public to come forward and report any information they have about these and other violent crimes,” the mayor tweeted. “The anonymous tip line is 215-686-TIPS.”

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Baby who weighed less than 1 pound at birth heads home after 150 days

Ebonie Bender (PHOENIX) — Four-month-old Kallie Bender’s life has been full of firsts.

There was her first bottle. Her first bath in a “big girl” tub. The first time she could fit into newborn clothes.

Those might seem like typical milestones for any newborn, but for this baby, born at just 25 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1 pound, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

And Monday is the sweetest first of all: baby Kallie is headed home for the first time.

She was born on May 24, 2019, 15 weeks early and one of the smallest babies ever born at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center, the Phoenix, Ariz. hospital told Good Morning America.

Her mom, Ebonie Bender, was admitted to the hospital when she found out Kallie was measuring small during an ultrasound appointment. There was also a lack of fluid around the baby, caused by a condition called absent end diastolic flow, the hospital said.

In addition to being a micro-preemie, Kallie also survived a successful heart procedure for a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a common heart defect among babies born as early as she.

“She’s a feisty girl,” Bender told GMA.

Kallie’s mom was “scared” at the time of her birth,” she said. “It was so much fear of the unknown.”

For several weeks after her birth, Kallie relied on a machine to help her breathe. She was intubated and needed to learn to eat.

Dr. Vinit Manuel, medical director of the nursery intensive care unit (NICU) at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, told GMA that the hospital’s NIDCAP — Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Plan — is a teaching program for other NICUs in Arizona.

It “looks at each baby as an individual,” he said. From the delivery room to pharmacists to the nurses to the occupational and physical therapists, he said, the team works together to meet each baby’s needs.

However, Manuel said, “No technology can replace the womb.”

For that reason, he said, “the involvement of the family in the care of these babies is crucial.”

The Benders, who have have three sons in addition to baby Kallie, were “very involved from day one. They were by her bedside, reading to her. It’s not possible to quantify, but research shows it’s very important for the baby’s development.”

For the nurses dedicated to her care, seeing Kallie go home is a joy.

“We’re thrilled that after nearly five months Kallie is going home with he family,” said Becky Cole, one of Kallie’s primary nurses. “We’ve loved being able to watch her grow and are excited for her to celebrate many milestones in the future with her parents and brothers.”

Today, Kallie weighs over 7 pounds and is thriving.

“It’s bittersweet to leave,” her mom told GMA. “But she’s an amazing little fighter and I can’t wait to see the personality she brings to our family.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chris Pratt lovingly jabs wife Katherine Schwarzenegger’s cooking skills

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney(NEW YORK) — We assume that Katherine Schwarzenegger is many things to her new hubby Chris Pratt — but a chef is not one of them.

The Marvel movie star took to Instagram to take a good-natured jab at Katherine’s cooking skills — or lack thereof — complete with a photo of what appears to be a charcoal briquette on a plate. 

“Proud of my darling for trying to cook tonight. Did it go well? No. No it did not. Not at all,” Pratt noted.

“To quote Rocky Balboa, ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up…'”

Pratt added, “As you can tell from the lump of coal in the center of the plate, this bagel bite never stood a chance. I honestly simply cannot imagine what went wrong here. Pretty simple. Microwave. 2 minutes. Maybe she thought it said 2 hours.”

The actor added sweetly, “I want to commend her for her effort. This is a big step babe. Proud of you.”



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Posted On 21 Oct 2019