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Fake news, real bullets: Suspect with rifle arrested at DC restaurant named in ‘Pizzagate’ story

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Police arrested a gunman armed with an assault weapon at a Washington, D.C. restaurant named in a fake pro-Trump news story that spread online.

The Washington Post said no shots were fired and no one was injured at Comet Ping Pong, a Northwest Washington pizza restaurant with ping pong tables that are popular with families.

A phony online news story that circulated days before the Nov. 8 election said that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and a top campaign aide were running a child sex ring out of the back room at Comet Ping Pong.

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The story was one of many canards floated by pro-Trump propaganda mills. Not a word of it was true, but the restaurant’s employees and their families have been receiving death threats and other forms of harassment since the phony story circulated, which is known in right-wing conspiracy circles as “#Pizzagate.”

Comet Ping Pong’s owners contacted the FBI, the local police, Facebook and other agencies in an attempt to get the defamatory post taken down.

Gareth Wade, 47, and Doug Clarke, 50 told the Post that they were inside the restaurant when a commotion erupted.

“(T)he server said someone just walked in with a shotgun,” said Wade.

They quickly ducked out of the restaurant and attempted to go to the bookstore across the street, but were prevented from entering by police, who were turned out in force.

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D.C. police spokeswoman Aquita Brown said that the department received a call about a man with a weapon at the restaurant at around 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Social media users picked up the story as it spread:

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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