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Julian Assange loses bid to be bailed over coronavirus

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday failed in his bid to be bailed after he argued that he was at risk of catching coronavirus in the British prison where he is being held.

“As matters stand today, this global pandemic does not as of itself provide grounds for Mr Assange’s release,” said judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

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Assange is currently in the high security Belmarsh prison in south London as he fights an extradition request by the United States to stand trial there on espionage charges.

Baraitser pointed out that the 48-year-old, who followed proceedings via videolink, had already violated a bail order when he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012.

At that time, Swedish authorities were attempting to extradite him over sexual assault claims that were later dropped.

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, said there was currently no COVID-19 case at Belmarsh but 100 prison officers were off work and there was a “very real risk — and the risk could be fatal”.

Concern has been raised for the Australian’s health behind bars, and he has had a history of illness, including respiratory infections.

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His full extradition hearing is due to resume for three weeks in mid-May, when witnesses will be called and cross-examined, with an eventual ruling expected by August at the latest.

But proceedings could be delayed, as court hearings have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Assange faces charges under the US Espionage Act for the 2010 release of a trove of secret files detailing aspects of US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a single computer hacking charge.

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A ruling against Assange could see him jailed for 175 years.

Britain is currently considering releasing some inmates in England and Wales to ease the pressure on prisons, where 10 percent of staff are off work after displaying virus symptoms.

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2020 Election

‘As bad as it gets’: GOP consultants have a secret admission about Trump — and a have a word of warning to ‘Lincoln Project’ Republicans

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Fox News and AM talk radio are full of GOP strategists and consultants who are happy to go on the air and recite pro-Trump talking points, but it’s often the anonymous quotes in outlets outside the right-wing bubble that offer insights on what Republicans are really thinking about President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Never Trump conservative Tim Miller interviewed nine different GOP consultants for a Rolling Stone article published this week, and they candidly discussed Trump’s chances of winning a second term.

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper exposes Trump’s lies on COVID deaths: He ‘doesn’t want you to know the whole story’

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On CNN Tuesday, anchor Anderson Cooper laid into President Donald Trump for his false narratives about the coronavirus pandemic.

"New modeling from the University of Washington today forecasts 208,000 people in this country may be dead of COVID-19 by Election Day," said Cooper. "Which the president still does not seem to think is all that bad. Because he is still repeating the same falsehoods as ever about testing and mortality, which fell for a while, but is once again sadly, sickeningly, ticking up."

"We have more cases because we're doing more testing," said Trump in the clip. "We have more cases. If we did half the testing, we'd have far fewer cases but people don't view it that way. What they have to view, though, is if you look at the chart, and maybe Mike has it, but we looked at it before, if you look at the chart of deaths, deaths are way down. What we want to do is get our schools open. We want to get them open quickly, beautifully in the fall."

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‘The lifetime of lies and hideous behavior is finally catching up’: Trump ghostwriter Tony Schwartz

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Art of the Deal ghostwriter/co-author Tony Schwartz isn't surprised by the facts included in the book about President Donald Trump by his niece. In fact, it only confirms what Schwartz said he discovered about Trump since they met.

While Schwartz said that he met Fred Trump Sr. in the late stages of Alzheimer's, he said that he learned about the elder Trump from his son, who "often acknowledged to me that [Fred Trump] was rough and tough and abusive and difficult. He wouldn't have used the word abusive because he wouldn't have been comfortable saying that, but it was the impression that I certainly took away."

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