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Puerto Rico governor announces independent probe into death toll after Hurricane Maria

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Puerto Rico’s governor said on Thursday he has tapped researchers at the George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., to lead an independent probe into his administration’s controversial tally of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria.

Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a statement it was “of great interest to the state to identify how many lives were lost” in Maria, announcing an investigation led by Carlos Santos-Burgoa, director of the Global Health Policy Program at GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

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After Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico in September, decimating infrastructure and leaving the island’s 3.4 million residents without power, Rossello’s administration pegged the death toll at 64.

The governor faced criticism from funeral directors, families and media outlets who reported dozens – or in some cases hundreds – of deaths that were not counted as being caused by the storm.

In December, Rossello said he would launch an internal probe into the death toll, to be led by his public safety director, Hector Pesquera.

It was unclear on Thursday why Rossello decided to switch gears and hand the investigation off to independent experts. A spokesman for the governor had no immediate comment on that decision.

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The study “will seek to analyze all data available related to mortality, including death certificates, to determine how many more deaths than usual could be related to the hurricane,” according to a statement.

An initial report is slated to come out in a month, with a more detailed report likely to take about a year.

Maria, Puerto Rico’s worst natural disaster in nine decades, came at a time when the island was already trudging through an unprecedented economic crisis. The island declared a form of bankruptcy last May, shouldering some $120 billion in combined bond and pension debt.

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(Reporting by Nick Brown; Editing by Leslie Adler)


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Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady

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MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.

"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."

Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.

Watch the video below from MSNBC.

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‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case

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Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."

She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.

"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."

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CNN

WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial

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President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."

"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."

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