Fox News host Eric Bolling suing journalist for $50 million over sexting story

Fox News host Eric Bolling is suing a journalist who reported last week that Bolling had sent lewd messages to female colleagues years ago.

HuffPost contributing writer Yashar Ali revealed Wednesday that he had been sent a summons by lawyers for Bolling. The summons alleges that Ali defamed Bolling, and says Bolling is seeking “an amount not less than $50 million.”

Ali told CNNMoney he first learned about the summons through a reporter.

“I stand by my reporting + will protect my sources,” Ali wrote in a tweet responding to the summons.

Ali added in a follow up tweet: “It’s important to note that Bolling’s summons does not include HuffPost – he is coming after me personally. I’m a big boy…but very telling.”

Michael Bowe, an attorney for Bolling, told CNNMoney, “This anonymously sourced and uncorroborated story is false, defamatory, and obviously intended to destroy this good man’s career and family. We will defend Eric aggressively in court, where actual facts, based on evidence, testimony, and cross-examination, will belie these anonymous accusations.”

Bolling himself tweeted Wednesday evening, “I will continue to fight against these false smear attacks! THANK YOU FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT.”

Fox News said over the weekend that Bolling had been suspended “pending the results of an investigation.” Asked for comment about the lawsuit, a Fox News spokesperson did not provide further comment other than noting he is still suspended.

The suspension came after Ali cited more than a dozen sources on Friday to report that Bolling sent female colleagues an “unsolicited” photo of his genitals. Bolling’s attorney, Michael Bowe, has said, “The anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair.”

A HuffPost spokesperson said in a statement, “Yashar Ali is a careful and meticulous reporter. We stand by his reporting.” The spokesperson did not respond when asked whether HuffPost would contribute to any legal bills Ali might incur. Ali told CNNMoney that he has his own lawyer.

Bolling was a co-host of “The Five,” Fox’s weekday roundtable, and when “The Five” was moved to 9 p.m. in the spring, Bolling stayed at 5 p.m. as the leader of a new show called “The Specialists.”

It’s been just over a year since former Fox host Gretchen Carlson sent shock waves through the network by suing then-CEO Roger Ailes. She accused him of firing her after she refused his “sexual advances.”

Others at Fox News later came forward with similar claims, and Ailes left the company on July 21, 2016.

Reports also began surfacing last fall that more sexual harassment allegations were being aimed at longtime Fox News star Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly consistently denied the allegations, but was eventually fired from the network.

A host on Fox Business, Charles Payne, was suspended last month amid a harassment investigation. He has not yet returned to work. Payne denied the allegations and called them an “ugly lie.”

All of these cases have provoked uncomfortable questions about Fox’s corporate culture and about whether management tolerated improper behavior for many years.

21st Century Fox says it has made sweeping changes to its human resources practices as a result of the Ailes scandal. The allegations involving Payne and Bolling date back to before Ailes resigned.

–CNN’s Jackie Wattles and Brian Stelter contributed to this story.

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Oregon is now the first state to mandate when workers get their schedules

Oregon is now the first state in the country to require that employers give workers their schedules at least a week in advance.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed the measure on Tuesday. It was passed by the state legislature in June.

“While DC has lost sight of working Americans, Oregon lawmakers came together this session to help workers balance life and their job with the first statewide Fair Work Week bill,” Brown said on Facebook last week.

The new law takes aim at on-call scheduling, whereby employees are tapped to work on short notice. This often causes workers’ schedules to fluctuate a great deal, and makes planning for child care and transportation more difficult.

It’s a particularly common practice for workers in lower-wage industries, such as fast food and retail.

One in six Oregonians receive less than 24 hours of notice before their shifts, according to a survey the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center published in February.

Now, Oregon is mandating that the state’s largest employers in the retail, hospitality and food service industries — those with more than 500 workers — give employees their schedules in writing at least a week ahead of time.

They’ll also have to give workers a 10-hour break between shifts, or pay them extra.

The law goes into effect in July 2018.

Starting in 2020, affected employers will have to give workers their schedules two weeks in advance.

“It will lead to a happier and healthier workforce which is a victory all Oregonians,” said state Sen. Tim Knopp, a Republican who backed the effort. “It is important that businesses can operate under one set of scheduling guidelines [statewide].”

Similar bills have become law in cities like Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

But Oregon is the first state to enact such a statute.

“This is a huge moment for labor rights in America,” said Hannah Taube, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Working Families Party, which supported the bill. ” … We hope Oregon is the first of many states to expand scheduling protections for workers.”

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72 years after Nagasaki bomb, US-N. Korea threats worry Asia

Seventy-two years to the day after a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, North Asia is on edge.

An increasingly aggressive war of words between the nuclear-armed United States and North Korea has caused consternation among the region’s major powers.

While North Korea’s neighbors are used to the saber rattling — Pyongyang once threatened to turn the South Korean capital Seoul into a “sea of fire” — they are less familiar with similarly heated comments emanating from the U.S. side.

In remarks made Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea not to make any more threats or they will “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.” That ultimatum is likely to resonate in Asia, where memories of destructive U.S. aerial bombing raids, including those on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki, continue to loom large.

“This region is very aware of the danger and destruction that a nuclear attack can cause, and that’s important to keep in mind from an Asian perspective,” said Jean Lee, a global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the former chief of the Seoul and Pyongyang bureaus for the Associated Press.

For the tens of millions of people on the ground in South Korea, who military experts say would face catastrophic destruction in a war, the language from Washington is concerning, due to the possibility that it puts both sides on edge — and when things are tense, the possibility for miscalculation becomes ever greater.

“I’m bit worried about what Americans are thinking about current situation,” resident Ok Soo-kyung said on the streets of Seoul. Others shared similar sentiments about the seriousness of the situation.

“South Koreans are accustomed to the rhetoric, but they’re much more accustomed to rhetoric coming from North Korea,” said Lee.

China called for calm on Wednesday, urging all parties to “avoid remarks and actions that could aggravate conflicts and escalate tensions” in the region.

Renewed debate

The threat of war has led to renewed debate in both Japan and South Korea as to the role of the nation’s military and whether enough is being done to counter the threat posed by a nuclear armed North Korea.

On Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for the country to reform and improve its defensive capabilities in order to counter ongoing threats from North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“I believe our given task is reform of the military. It should be an intensive one. I believe we need a defense reform at a level of a complete overhaul, instead of minor improvements or modifications,” said Moon during a promotion ceremony for new military commanders.

Moon’s comments, though part of broader efforts to reform the military, came shortly after North Korean state media reported it was “examining the operational plan” to strike areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles.

In Japan, where debates around possible revisions to the country’s pacifist constitution are ongoing, the official response to Trump’s comments has so far been muted.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga responded to a question about the “fire and fury” phrase by saying: “As the security situation in the region becomes increasingly difficult, the U.S.’s deterrence capability is extremely important to Japan. The U.S. has said all options are on the table and Japan welcomes this.”

What the North wants

From the time they are born, North Koreans are taught that the United States is preparing to invade the country. They learn the United States started the first Korean War, despite the fact that most historians say it began after North Korea invaded the South, and that they are preparing to strike again.

Kim Jong Un and North Korea’s leaders use the threat of U.S. attacks to justify the country’s military-first mantra and the high costs associated with it. Citizens are told to tighten their belts to protect their national sovereignty and security.

So when Trump threatens North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” that feeds into Pyongyang’s propaganda, analysts say.

“This is precisely what the North Koreans want. As twisted as that may seem, I am sure that North Korea is happy about the response from Donald Trump because one of the things they want is attention from Washington,” Lee said.

Trumps comments follow a UN Security Council resolution passed Saturday in response to the July 4 and 28 tests of long-range missiles that could theoretically put the United States in range of a North Korean nuclear weapon.

The resolution, which targets the country’s international revenue streams, was passed unanimously after strong lobbying from the United States. The Trump administration has said it wants to squeeze North Korea’s coffers in order to pressure the country to the negotiating table.

The White House hailed the resolution as a big win, but analysts worry about their efficacy — success is in large part predicated on enforcement, and North Korea has proven adept in evading international sanctions.

Others remain skeptical that a country which some say prioritizes its military above the lives of average citizens would give up a tactical tool that Pyongyang believes is the key to preventing a U.S.-led invasion.

“We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on negotiating table. Neither shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves, unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) are fundamentally eliminated,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said earlier this week.

Trump’s comments ‘not helpful’

Other regional powers weighed in on Trump’s comments and the escalating North Korean threat.

In a statement, China called for calm, and urged “all relevant sides to uphold the broad direction of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through political means.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said a “conflict (with North Korea) would be shattering.”

“It would have catastrophic consequences,” he told reporters in Canberra, accusing Pyongyang of “threatening the peace of the region.”

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Bill English was more critical of Trump, describing the president’s comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

“When a situation is so tense and I think, you’re seeing reaction from North Korea, that indicates that kind of comment is more likely to escalate than to settle things,” English said.

“Everyone wants to avoid military confrontation and the path ahead there is for North Korea to comply with the UN sanctions and for international pressure to push them in that direction.”

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New Venezuela assembly declares itself superior government branch

Venezuela’s new constitutional assembly took over the halls of the endangered, opposition-controlled congress on Tuesday, issuing a decree declaring itself superior to all other branches of government and prominently displaying images of the late President Hugo Chavez.

The order bars anti-government lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with the laws passed by the newly installed assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, the super-body’s leader, declared to unanimous approval.

“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”

Embattled President Nicolas Maduro convoked the constitutional assembly in what he contends is an attempt to resolve the nation’s political standoff, but opposition leaders insist it is a power grab. Since its installation on Friday, the assembly has already ousted the nation’s outspoken chief prosecutor, established a “truth commission” expected to target Maduro’s foes and passed decrees pledging “support and solidarity” with the unpopular president.

Opposition lawmakers said they were barred from entering the gold-domed legislative palace after security forces led by Rodriguez broke into congress late Monday.

“This government invades the spaces that it is not capable of legitimately winning,” Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition lawmaker, wrote on Twitter of the assembly’s takeover of the chamber the opposition has controlled since winning 2015 elections.

Earlier Tuesday, Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court sentenced a Caracas-area mayor at the center of recent protests to 15 months in prison for not following an order to remove barricades set up during anti-government demonstrations.

Ramon Muchacho is the fourth opposition mayor whose arrest the high court has sought in the past two weeks. The court also ordered an investigation into another prominent Caracas-area mayor, David Smolansky, for the same alleged crimes.

Muchacho’s whereabouts were not immediately known, but he denounced the ruling on Twitter, saying that “all of the weight of the revolutionary injustice has fallen on my shoulders” for merely acting to guarantee the constitutional right to protest.

The constitutional assembly’s meeting Tuesday came amid mounting criticism from foreign governments that have refused to recognize the new super-body.

More than a dozen Latin American leaders were gathering in Peru to discuss how to force Maduro to back down. Peru’s president has been vocal in rejecting the new Venezuelan assembly, but the region has had trouble agreeing on collective actions.

In response, Maduro convened a meeting of foreign ministers from the Bolivarian Alliance, a leftist coalition of 11 Latin American nations.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told representatives from nations including Cuba and Bolivia Tuesday that longstanding U.S. aggressions against his troubled South American nation have “entered a much stronger phase.”

Opposition lawmakers have vowed to hold onto their only government foothold — the country’s single-chamber congress — despite threats from the constitutional assembly to strip them of any authority and lock up key leaders. Lawmakers voted unanimously Monday not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees.

Since the disputed election, security forces have stepped up their presence. The U.N. human rights commissioner report warned of “widespread and systematic use” of excessive force, arbitrary detention and other rights violations against demonstrators.

Only a few dozen demonstrators heeded the opposition’s call to set up traffic-snarling roadblocks in Caracas Tuesday to show their opposition to the new assembly.

Protests that drew hundreds of thousands at their peak are drawing fewer and fewer as fear and resignation creep in. At least 124 people have been killed and hundreds more injured or detained during the protests.

A United Nations report released Tuesday found that Venezuela’s armed forces were responsible for 46 of the deaths since April. Another 27 people were killed by groups of armed, pro-government civilians, the report said.

Now at a crossroads, opposition parties are facing a rapidly approaching deadline to decide whether to take part in regional elections scheduled for December.

The National Electoral Council announced that the nation’s largest opposition coalition was barred from entering candidates in seven of Venezuela’s 23 states, citing ongoing court proceedings. In recent years, the government has also taken action prohibiting high-profile opposition leaders from running.

While Maduro’s popular support is estimated to be no higher than 20 percent, some opposition leaders are skeptical of running in regional elections they fear could be rigged. The official turnout count in last month’s constitutional assembly election has been questioned at home and abroad. The CEO of voting technology company Smartmatic said last week that the results were “without a doubt” tampered with and off by at least 1 million votes.

Associated Press writer Christine Armario contributed to this report from Miami.

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Maduro’s new weapon: Venezuela’s Truth, Justice and Reparations Commission

After setting up a new all-powerful legislative body, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will get a new tribunal that will have the power to send anyone who defies him to prison. 

The socialists were referring to the new tribunal as Truth, Justice and Reparations Commission. But the Venezuelan Democrats, who oppose Maduro and control parliament, believe the tribunal set up on Saturday will be used to persecute them. 

“We are asking of the Justice and Truth Commission that anyone who has acted against the fatherland be stripped of public duties,” said Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s ruling party chief and longtime ally of Maduro. 

Maduro’s constituent assembly, the new legislative body that will oversee the tribunal, met Tuesday and declared that the Venezuelan members of parliament will not have the power to interfere with their work. 

After voters elected the members of parliament in 2015, Maduro used the Supreme Court to diminish their legislative power. This week he was getting ready to use the tribunal to get rid of the constitutional immunity that protects them. 

“We must investigate those who have been calling for violence and now want to run for governor,” Cabello said referring to the Dec. 10 regional elections. 

Delcy Rodriguez, the president of the new constituent assembly, will preside over the commission. Rodriguez stepped down as Venezuela’s foreign minister in June. 

“I swear to defend the homeland from the imperial aggression and the fascist right wing that has spread its hate and intolerance against the country,” Rodriguez said during her appointment. She also sent a message to Maduro’s opponents: “Justice will come to them.”

During his weekly Sunday address, Maduro said that the commission was setting up an office at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. He also threatened Julio Borges, the president of parliament. 

“Justice is coming for you,” Maduro said. 

 

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