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Exploding hydrogen balloons at Armenian political rally injure many

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YEREVAN — More than 140 people were injured on Friday when gas-filled balloons exploded at a governing party campaign concert in the Armenian capital ahead of parliamentary polls on Sunday, officials said.

The emergencies ministry said 144 people suffered burns when scores of promotional balloons burst into flames at a concert staged by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican party in Yerevan’s central Republic Square.

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Armenian Internet sites showed a fireball rising into the air and chaotic images of people screaming in confusion and anger.

“The balloons exploded and caught fire after people holding the bunches released them from their hands into the air,” a witness told AFP.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions although police said they were looking into various potential reasons including the “improper storage of flammable substances”.

“All the victims had either medium or light injuries. Now doctors are trying to revive them from shock,” Health Minister Harutiun Kushkian told reporters.

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The promotional balloons were decorated with the governing party’s election slogan “Let’s believe in change”.

The incident marred a largely calm election campaign and President Sarkisian promised a full investigation.

“I urge everyone to keep calm. Let us pray for all the victims and wish them a quick recovery,” he said in a statement.

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Sarkisian’s party has been tipped by opinion polls to triumph in Sunday’s election ahead of its ruling coalition rival, the Prosperous Armenia party led by a wealthy former arm wrestling champion.

The vote is the biggest test of the ex-Soviet state’s democratic credentials since disputed presidential elections in 2008, when mass rallies ended in bloody clashes between riot police and opposition supporters that left 10 people dead, casting a shadow over Sarkisian’s administration.

The authorities in the mountainous country of 3.3 million people have promised an unprecedentedly clean contest for the 131-seat National Assembly in the hope of avoiding further political turmoil.

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Opposition parties however have questioned the validity of the opinion polls and threatened demonstrations if there are mass falsifications.

Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.

Photo PANARMENIAN, Tigran Mehrabyan via AFP

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Here are the two Trump claims that the Pentagon chief refused to vouch for

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The White House meeting Wednesday afternoon didn't go well for either party, according to their counterparts. Both sides are dishing on details, including a Democratic aide who said that there were two of President Donald Trump's claims that his own Pentagon chief wouldn't vouch for.

At the onset of the meeting, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) began by reading a quote from Gen. James Mattis, who briefly served in Trump's administration.

"But POTUS cut Schumer off," reported PBS News correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Trump then "said that Gen Mattis was: 'the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month."

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Former Clinton lawyer scolds Trump’s White House counsel on impeachment: ‘we never considered’ behaving this way

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On Tuesday, Lanny Breuer, a special counsel who worked for President Bill Clinton's White House, wrote an open letter in the Washington Post to President Donald Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — telling him that, while he understands an impeachment is a horrible thing for an administration to go through, Clinton and his lawyers would never have behaved the way Trump is now.

"In 1998, we felt under siege," wrote Breuer. "We argued at the time, as you do in your letter, that Congress should provide additional procedural protections to the president ... For example, instead of conducting its own investigation, the committee relied almost exclusively on [independent counsel Ken] Starr’s report, which had serious flaws. The House took only three months to adopt articles of impeachment, and we had only two days to present our witnesses. The president’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, had only 30 minutes to question Starr. We felt this was deeply unfair and a derogation of the House’s constitutional duty to investigate thoroughly whether impeachment was warranted."

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White House leaked ‘insane letter’ to Fox host — that makes Trump look ridiculously ‘dumb’

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President Donald Trump was ridiculed on Wednesday after a letter was leaked that President Donald Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Erdo?an.

The letter was sent a week ago, on October 9th.

A copy of the letter, where Trump warned Erdo?an not to be a fool, was obtained by Fox Business personality Trish Regan.

https://twitter.com/trish_regan/status/1184559361638748161

Commentary on the letter was swift -- and brutal.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/chrislhayes/status/1184570895043571713

Can’t tell if parody of dumb guy trying to cover his tracks or real dumb guy who is covering tracks

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