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Cyclist who flipped off Trump beats Republican incumbent in local Virginia election

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A cyclist who was fired after flipping the bird — making a rude single-fingered gesture — to US President Donald Trump’s motorcade has been elected to local office in Virginia.

Juli Briskman, whose one-handed salute was captured in an AFP photograph that went viral, beat the Republican incumbent to a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in state elections that saw Trump’s Republican party suffer a series of stinging defeats.

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The single mother of two teens lost her job as a marketing analyst for a United States government and military subcontractor after the snapshot of her gesture spread across media and the internet in 2017, bringing her insults and threats.

But getting fired also opened “a lot of doors”, the 52-year-old told AFP during her campaign, including accepting an invitation to run for local office on the Democratic ticket.

That decision paid off on Tuesday night, as Briskman celebrated her victory in a tweet that linked to a copy of the image.

“Looking forward to representing my friends & neighbors in #Algonkian District who backed me up today! So proud that we were able to #FlipLoudpun,” she wrote.

With 52 percent of the vote after 99 percent of precincts had reported, the result saw Republican Suzanne Volpe beaten into second place.

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When fighting her campaign in Loudoun County — the wealthiest in the US — Briskman didn’t bring up the image that sparked her 15 minutes of fame unless homeowners started “talking about the administration” or commented on her bicycle pin.

Instead, the ultramarathon runner told AFP she wanted to show that there was “substance” behind her candidacy — education, women’s rights, transportation and environmental issues — and that she wasn’t “just the person that rode my bike one day and flipped off the president.”

Her success comes as Trump’s party also lost control of both chambers of the legislature in increasingly blue Virginia, US media including The New York Times projected.

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Democrats will now hold all major statewide offices and rule the state assembly, a comprehensive consolidation of power not seen in the state since the 1990s.


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Five things to watch for at the Grammys

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Music's glitterati will sparkle on the red carpet at this Sunday's Grammy awards, which honors the top hits and artists of the year.

Scandal at the Recording Academy, which puts on the show, has overwhelmed the lead-up to the glam event, but there are still plenty of musical moments to watch for.

Here is our quick guide to the event, which will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles:

- Women poised to lead -

Women dominated at last year's gala and are leading the pack this year as well, with the twerking flautist Lizzo and the teenage goth-pop phenomenon Billie Eilish expected to battle for the top awards.

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Mexican children take up arms in fight against drug gangs

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With baseball caps and scarves covering their faces, only their serious eyes are visible as a dozen children stand to attention, rifles by their side.

In the heart of the violence-plagued Mexican state of Guerrero, learning to use weapons starts at an early age.

In the village of Ayahualtempa, at the foot of a wooded hill, the basketball court serves as a training ground for these youths, aged between five and 15.

The children practice with rifles and handguns or makeshift weapons in various drill positions for a few hours every week.

"Position three!" yells instructor Bernardino Sanchez, a member of the militia responsible for the security of 16 villages in the Guerrero area, which goes by the name of Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC-PF).

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Delta fined $50,000 for discriminating against Muslim passengers

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Delta Air Lines was Friday fined $50,000 by the US Department of Transportation to settle allegations it discriminated against three Muslim passengers who were ordered off their planes.

In its consent order, the department said it found Delta "engaged in discriminatory conduct" and violated anti-discrimination laws when it removed the three passengers.

In one incident on July 26, 2016, a Muslim couple were removed from Delta Flight 229 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after a passenger told a flight attendant their behavior made her "very uncomfortable and nervous".

"Mrs X" was wearing a head scarf and the passenger said "Mr X" had inserted something into his watch.

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