Day: July 21, 2017


Michael Phelps: 'There's no itch to come back'

Fans holding out hope that Olympic legend Michael Phelps might once again come out of retirement to grace the pools in the 2020 summer games in Tokyo may want to readjust their expectations.

“No. I’ve been around a couple meets and there’s no itch to come back,” Phelps told Fox News on Thursday.

The world’s greatest swimmer announced his return in 2014 following a brief “retirement” after the 2012 London Games — but Phelps officially walked away from competitive swimming after the 2016 Rio Olympics as the most decorated Olympian of all-time.

However, during a USA Swimming pre-competition news conference in Brazil, Phelps left the door open for a comeback when he told reporters, “I’ll say this, just in case of a comeback … my potential last Olympics.”

And it appears the 32 year old is content being a father, racing sharks and pursuing his goals outside of the pool.

“I mean I’ll go and swim from time to time just to kind of decompress and get away, but I don’t miss the grind of that,” Phelps said. “I mean, it’s probably easier than doing what I’m doing now. I would say training for the Olympics is easier than living a normal life where I’m outside of the pool most of the time.”

He’s now turning his attention to building his MP brand, and continuing to grow his Michael Phelps foundation and the IM program, which encourages healthy and active lifestyles, as well as water safety.

“Continuing to teach kids water safety is of huge importance,” Phelps said. “I mean, it’s a big part with my son now as well. Just making sure everyone is safe around the pool, especially now being in the summer. I think too many kids are drowning and it’s something that we need to change and help.”

The Olympic champion, who is an advocate for mental health, is also working with a company called Medibio on a “wearable device that works off your circadian rhythm.”  The device has a monitor synched to your heart rate while you’re sleeping, and it’s able to track different stress levels and send “directions on help from this person or that person.”

Phelps, who’s had two DUI’s, knows firsthand what it’s like to battle depression. He’s suffered from “at least three or four massive spells of depression,” adding that, in one case, he “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

“You know, I think that’s something that we all need to understand and it’s okay to ask for help,” Phelps said. “I think a lot of us look at, especially Americans, look at it as a sign of weakness if we reach our hand out and ask for help. At the end of the day, look, we want to be the best that we can be, and sometimes we can’t do it alone.”

On top of it all, he’s busy being a father to his 1-year-old son, Boomer, who Phelps says is “in the water nonstop.”

And when asked whether he believes Boomer will follow in his father’s footsteps, Phelps replied: “I mean, if he wants to swim, go for it.”

With competitive racing behind him, and different challenges ahead, Phelps said “it’s time to make the next chapter.”

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Toddler shows off incredible basketball skills just two years after horrific accident

At only two years old, Jett Limon’s basketball skills are impressive. But given the horrific accident he survived when he was a baby, his athleticism is even more extraordinary.

When Jett was nine months old, he was the lone survivor in a car accident that killed his mother and 3-year-old sister in Texas. 

Jett’s father, Joseph, told KOSA-TV that his young son started to develop his basketball shooting skills by practicing with a trashcan and watching YouTube videos.

In a recent video, Jett is seen standing on a counter across the room from a child’s basketball hoop, making shot after shot. 

An unidentified woman in the video and the man filming cheer Jett on throughout. 

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Trump makes ready for his attack on Mueller – Trump not exploring pardons in Russia case, source says

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On the roster: Trump makes ready for his attack on Mueller – Power Play: Your forecast? Delicious bacon – Trump officials now back findings on Russia – Ryan sells tax reform while on the road – There’s stiff coffee and then there’s stiff coffee…

The story of most outsider presidents who come to Washington is one of learning the ways of the capital and governance and, as part of that, broadening out an inner circle to include more seasoned advisors.

Maybe not surprisingly, President Trump is going a different way.

With the departure of Press Secretary Sean Spicer, we see the strongest evidence yet of the shift to a war footing in the White House as the besieged president surrounds himself with hometown loyalists for what he clearly expects to be a struggle to remain in power.

The elevation of Trump loyalist and Wall Street insider Anthony Scaramucci to the top message man for the White House is further proof that the new focus isn’t about winning the Washington game but rather survival.

It also tells us what’s likely to happen next. 

The competing voices inside the president’s inner circle, and maybe within the president’s own mind, have been whether or not to go to war with special counsel Robert Mueller

This is something of a predictable moment since, as we said when Mueller was appointed back in May that it would be hard to imagine a figure who would perturb Trump more than the patrician Boy Scout Mueller.

If you will excuse us for quoting ourselves: “If [James Comey] got Trump’s goat, Mueller will get the whole pasture.” 

Trump and his team have flirted from time to time since then with the idea of waging open war against Mueller, even as most prominent Republicans praise the former FBI director and say that he and his team should be allowed to finish their work. 

But as we have also talked about in the context of Trump and the Russia matter, as recently as in regard to his attack this week on his own attorney general, Trump seems to believe that other people think and function as he does. 

The basic thesis of Trumpism is that the system is rigged and that Trump can effectively exploit that corruption for the people of the United States as he did for himself personally in his business career. 

If you looked at the world like that, you’d assume then that Mueller – from his Bronze Star as a marine in Vietnam, across his decades of service, through his appointment by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as FBI director and now as the finder of fact in the Russia probe – is a big fat phony. 

Mueller is exactly the kind of WASP blue blood who Trump has loved taking on and tearing down throughout his life. And now, Mr. Prep-School Prefect is rooting around through Trump’s tax returns and business records. 

We won’t waste a lot of time talking about if Trump did fire Mueller, or take steps causing Mueller to be fired. To say that it would close the door to a successful presidency is no overstatement. The second firing of the person in charge of an investigation into your own campaign is a very guilty-seeming act. Doing it to a person who is as esteemed and trusted as Mueller would bring the house down. 

The option short of a bloodbath at the Justice Department, however, is to do what Bill Clinton did when he was similarly under siege 20 years ago, and seek to discredit Mueller. Trump is working right out of the Clinton playbook as he tries to turn Mueller into a 21st century Ken Starr.

Certainly, for the 27 percent of voters in this week’s Fox News poll who said that they strongly support Trump, attacking Mueller in advance of any findings will help inoculate the president when the evidential findings to come. 

And for surviving the scandal, it may be Trump’s only remaining hope. 

Keeping core Trump supporters on board as bad news comes in requires doing just what Trump is doing: Attack the process as corrupt, attack the reporters covering the story and attack the prosecutor on the case. 

For the persuadable members of the other 73 percent of the electorate, though, the question becomes whether Trump is a victim fighting against an unfair system or simply a guilty man taking desperate steps to save his own skin. Is Trump Richard Kimble or Dudley Smith?

“What degree of agency these reputed lawgivers might have in their respective establishments, or how far they might be clothed with the legitimate authority of the people, cannot in every instance be ascertained.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 38

The Atlantic: “On its own, this feature seems doomed to mechanical failure. But the risk is worthwhile to facilitate the toaster’s star ability: the ‘A Bit More’ button. That modest attribute offers a lesson for design of all stripes… The button also makes toasting bread, normally a quantitative act, more qualitative. The lever dials in numerical levels of browning, and the ‘A Bit More’ button cuts it with you-know-what-I-mean ambiguity. That dance between numbers and feelings apologizes even for a slightly over-browned slice of toast by endearing the eater to the result the button helped produce. … It highlights an obvious but still unseen problem with electric toasters, devices that have been around for more than a century. And then it solves that problem in an elegant way that is also delightful to use. It’s just the kind of solution that designers desperately hope to replicate, and users hope to discover in ordinary products.” 

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Trump net job-approval rating: -17.2 points
Change from one week ago: -1.4 points

We have a rookie and a vet in this week’s weekly news and trivia quiz. Chris Stirewalt welcomes our Fox News colleague Griff Jenkins for his first time and the return of FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten. Which player will know who was president when an American last walked on the moon? Play along! WATCH HERE

The Hill: “Top homeland security and intelligence officials in President Trump‘s administration have thrown their support behind the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign, breaking from the president’s own wariness to endorse the findings. At the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Thursday, Thomas Bossert, the president’s homeland security adviser, said there was no question that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election in comments reported by USA Today. ‘There is a pretty clear and easy answer to that and that is yes,’ Bossert said when asked if he backed the conclusion from U.S. intelligence agencies. … President Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo joined Bossert, asserting that Russia had involved itself in several U.S. elections. ‘Of course,’ Pompeo said Thursday when asked if Russia interfered. ‘And the one before that, and the one before that. (Russia) has no intention of backing off.’”

Putin’s hackers under attack from Microsoft – Daily Beast: “Last year attorneys for the software maker quietly sued the hacker group known as Fancy Bear in a federal court outside Washington DC, accusing it of computer intrusion, cybersquatting, and infringing on Microsoft’s trademarks.  The action, though, is not about dragging the hackers into court. The lawsuit is a tool for Microsoft to target what it calls ‘the most vulnerable point’ in Fancy Bear’s espionage operations: the command-and-control servers the hackers use to covertly direct malware on victim computers.”

Congress likely to tie Trump’s hands on Russia sanctions – Politico: “Senior Republican lawmakers and aides gave their clearest comments … Thursday that the bill would ultimately move forward without changes sought by the White House, potentially undermining Trump’s ability to warm relations with Moscow. The Senate already passed the bill on a 98-2 vote. And while it’s stalled in the House amid partisan finger-pointing, most Republicans are joining Democrats to support adding new sanctions while curbing Trump’s power to roll back the penalties against Russia.”

Special counsel investigating possible money laundering by Manafort – WSJ: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible money laundering by Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, as part of his criminal investigation into what U.S. intelligence agencies say was a Kremlin-backed campaign to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Sessions won’t resign for now, but gets Trump’s message – 
Politico: “…the president was sending a message, said a Trump adviser who talked with him after the interview — making a deliberate effort to convey his lingering displeasure with his attorney general [Jeff Sessions], who recused himself in March from the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. “He didn’t just do that randomly,” the adviser said of the president.”

Report: Spokesman for Trump’s legal team resigns – 
Politico: “The spokesman for President Donald Trump’s legal team has resigned within two months of being on the job, according to people familiar with the matter. Mark Corallo, the spokesman, had grown frustrated with the operation and the warring factions and lawyers, these people said. Corallo also was concerned about whether he was being told the truth about various matters, one of these people said.”

Boston Globe: “US House Speaker Paul D. Ryan pitched the outlines of his tax reform package at a sneaker factory Thursday, promising congressional Republicans are more united on that issue than over their ailing health care plan. Addressing local business leaders and New Balance factory workers, Ryan said a simplified, streamlined tax code would goose the national economy, encouraging employers who have sent jobs overseas to bring them home. The Wisconsin Republican said the tax rates for all employers should come down from roughly 35 percent to closer to the average across the rest of the industrialized world of 22.5 percent. He said he wanted to eliminate loopholes and, for individual taxes, cut rates and consolidate deductions. … Still, contending that the current political climate offered a ‘once-in-a-generation moment,’ Ryan vowed, ‘We’re going to get this done in 2017.’”

Under fire for opposing health bill, Mike Lee hits back – Politico: “Mike Lee hears the chorus of critics, with blame from the establishment wing of the GOP cascading on the Utah senator for being the Republican that stopped Obamacare repeal. And he’s ready to respond. In an interview in his Capitol Hill office Thursday, Lee said he was willing to be the lone senator to bring down his party’s health care bill because it did not do much to stop Obamacare in its tracks. ‘I’m not being an absolutist,’ he said, adding that he didn’t need 100 percent of the law to be repealed. ‘I’m a little frustrated by some who are eager and willing to call me out for saying this doesn’t go far enough in doing what we promised to do for seven years.’”

DNC lags behind RNC in June, brings in $5.5 million – Free Beacon

Rumored DNC motto ripped straight from Papa John’s Pizza – WashEx

Trump Picks Richard Grenell for U.S. Ambassador to Germany – NYT

Ralph Peters writes about the everyday patriotism of John McCain – NY Post

This Sunday, Chris Wallace will have Sens. John Thune R-SD., and Ben Cardin D-Md., to discuss passing the GOP healthcare bill. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

“Let me put it this way, I’m glad that Trump is drawing all the fire so I can get stuff done.” – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson in an interview with the Wash Ex.

“I totally understand your arguments about the investigation. Here is the problem. What is the crime we are investigating? What Statute? … There are no parameters in this investigation. I say again, what is the crime? Jeff Sessions can recuse himself all he wants but he is in charge of the AG department budget, so he would well be in his right to ask what is the crime? What are we spending millions investigating? I think that is what frustrates the President.” – Doreen HowardNewmarket, N.H.

[Ed. note: It is not illegal, Ms. Howard, to eat maple syrup on your cod cakes or put thumb tacks on your bed. There are lots of things that are not illegal that are still not good to do. The special counsel is investigating what Kremlin agents did to influence the 2016 election, and whether any Americans helped them do it. That focus has fallen to Trump’s campaign. Those who suggest that the national-security investigation be suspended because of a technicality – that colluding with a hostile foreign power to interfere with an American election – isn’t a black-letter crime seem to express little confidence in the innocence of their president.]

“Why would Russia want Trump in the White House?  Above all else, they want the president to be predictable.  Hillary is predictable; not only that, Russia knows they could walk all over her.  Trump is a wild card; unpredictable and uncontrollable.  It doesn’t make sense that Russia would help Trump win the presidency. I don’t hear anybody asking that question.” – Tom Kilian, Burtrum, Minn.

[Ed. note: The conclusion of the intelligence community, even now under the Trump administration, is that Russian operatives did, in fact, mean to harm Clinton and help Trump. Now, it is possible that they did not expect their efforts to be successful, thinking they would be left with a weakened Hillary. Some of what Trump has done has been more helpful to Moscow than the stated policies of his 2016 opponent. But, some of it has been harsher toward the Kremlin than Clinton might have been. With Clinton, the Russians suspected they’d see a continuation and probably a toughening on the U.S. line against Moscow, but with Trump had plenty of reason to hope that he would favor a thaw. Time will tell if whether they made a good bet or a bad one.]

“Are there polling data available for just those directly affected by the proposed changes in ACA, excluding those on Medicaid, Medicare or having employer-paid insurance? It doesn’t seem possible to present an accurate picture of the impact of Republican Healthcare efforts if those not impacted are included in the polls.” – Peter Booth, Atlanta

[Ed. note: Well, Mr. Booth, that wouldn’t be exactly cricket. After all, the beneficiaries are not the only ones involved. Taxpayers are certainly involved. Everyone with private insurance who sees changes to markets and regulations is certainly involved. Every employee and employer is involved, since the way health insurance is provided is so central to America’s working life. Plus, what about those who aren’t enrolled in an ObamaCare program this year, but might be next year? That is a long way of saying no issue touches more Americans more intimately than that of health insurance and health care.]

“Thank you so much for that ‘trail note’ link.  I swear that that final line in that article brought a tear to my eye.  Senator McCain is a ‘hero’ like no other.  He is a ‘patriot’ and a ‘true American’ who puts the welfare of others ahead of his own.  I will truly ‘never’ forgive our ‘current president’ for his cold/callous and inaccurate words during the campaign in reference to his perception that Senator McCain was no hero. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for Mr. Trump – as the alternative was way too dire to even contemplate. But, I have NO RESPECT for any human being who can be so callous and cold and disrespectful in regard to others – especially extraordinary worthy Americans such as John McCain.  I still, to this day, wish with all my heart that Mr. Trump would ‘take those words back’ in a sincere and heartfelt apology.” – Susan St. Onge, Nashua, N.H.

[Ed. note: One of the tests for our words in this life is to consider how we would feel if they were our last to someone else. Different seasons of life call for different responses and attitudes, so we are not able to always be tender, but when we think about how we wish to be received and heard, sometimes it helps to think about the lasting legacy our remarks might leave.]

“Mind your manners, peasant! Address his royal highness as King George! I kid; but what are your top 4 favorite ‘King’ George Strait tunes? You gave great Tom Petty recommendations, try your hand at this impossible task! Did Dana make you include this?” – Jack Whiteman, St. Louis 

[Ed. note: I will confess that Strait has never been exactly my particular can of Copenhagen, which is why I found the piece so great. I personally believe that “country-Western” is a misnomer. Texas swing and good Hillbilly music are both enjoyable but have about as little in common as KISS and Bob Seeger. The piece gave me a new appreciation for Strait who, if anyones does, bridges the gap between two disparate genres. His workmanlike style and approach to his music added greatly to my admiration.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

USA Today: “A Texas company issued a voluntary recall after a substance similar to one used in Viagra was found in its coffee, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration notice. Bestherbs Coffee LLC issued a recall of New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee after FDA testing found the presence of desmethyl carbodenafil, according to the FDA. ‘Desmethyl carbodenafil is structurally similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, an FDA-approved prescription drug for erectile dysfunction,’ the FDA said in a statement. The product also contained undeclared milk, according to the FDA. While the New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee is marketed as a male enhancement product, the desmethyl carbodenafil could interact with nitrates in some prescription drugs and possibly lower blood pressure to dangerous levels, the FDA said in a statement.”

“Look, Trump is completely unconventional. We knew that coming in. But there’s a reason for the conventions. And that is you so undercut an underling that he can’t really function effectively, and that’s what’s just happened now.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

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Union not backing bill nixing teacher-student sex – Teacher of the year in jail for sex with student now suing teen for defamation

A Massachusetts state bill that would outlaw sex between teachers and students 19 years of age and younger, and which is strongly supported by the police, has yet to be endorsed by the state teachers’ union.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association, which has 110,000 member, told Fox News it is reviewing the measure, which was introduced six months ago.

“The Massachusetts Teachers Association’s priority is always to protect students and the educational environment,” the union said in a statement to Fox News. “While we are still examining the many components of this proposed legislation, we understand that its intent is to help ensure that our schools are nurturing places for students to learn and grow.”

The union’s stance comes amid a spate of cases of teachers having sex with students around the nation. While not a new phenomenon, lawmakers in Massachusetts say a strong signal from teachers unions that such behavior is nott condoned is appropriate.

“If you know you could be charged with a crime, it could be a deterrent.”

– Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar


Besides criminalizing teacher-student sex, the bill outlaws sexual relations between a student and other adults employed by a school district, whether they are a salaried, a volunteer or work on a contract basis. It would also cover independent schools and youth organizations. Adults found guilty of violating the law would face a maximum jail term of five years or a $10,000 fine or both.

The measure marks the latest effort in a years-long battle to criminalize sexual relations between teachers and students in the state, which considers 16 the age at which a person can give consent to sexual activity.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Joan Lovely of Salem, said that getting the backing of the teachers union would significantly boost the efforts to get the law passed to protect students.

“Of course, we want their support, and we’ll continue to work for that,” the Democrat told Fox News.

Lovely said the measure, entitled the Comprehensive Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Act of 2017, would add another layer to a system that already trains educators to spot child abuse and guides them about how to handle such situations.

The lawmaker said that she has been in touch with various school administrators and educator groups about the measure.

“We certainly want to work with them, and hear from all interested parties,” Lovely said. 

The absence of any language outlawing sex between a teacher and a student 16 years or older, has made it difficult to take criminal action against adults in position of authority who abuse their power to engage in sexual relations with youth, said Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar told Fox News.

Wojnar, who testified before a state Joint Committee on Education on the need to pass the measure, said the bill is not an attack on teachers.

“There are bad people in every profession,” Wojnar said. “We’re not talking about the great majority of teachers who are hard-working and dedicated and care about the kids. We’re talking about the few who will betray their trust. If you know you could be charged with a crime, it could be a deterrent.”

Wojnar said he has been trying to get support for a law like this for more than a dozen years.

He recalled a 2004 investigation into a sexual relationship between a 30-year-old English teacher and a 16-year-old boy at the school and how authorities were unable to fully go after the adult, despite texts, videos and photos establishing the affair.

The police chief recounted the frustration he experienced at the time running into roadblocks because state laws did not provide the tools for prosecuting the teacher in the manner Wojnar believed was fit.

“Victims suffer greatly at the hands of these predators,” Wojnar wrote to the Senate in a recent letter. “They can be deemed as some form of outcast in their school and the community.  They may be accused of lying, as some people desire to protect the teacher’s reputation, rather than that of the victim.  They have the potential to suffer emotional and personal damage which may not be realized for years, if ever.”


Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.


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CALMING THE STORM? Sanders promoted to press secretary as Spicer bolts

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was promoted Friday to White House press secretary, replacing Sean Spicer in the wake of his abrupt resignation. 

Sanders addressed reporters on camera alongside newly named White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. While Spicer’s resignation was delivered in apparent protest over the hiring of Scaramucci, the two top officials in the White House press shop worked Friday to project steadiness amid the palace intrigue. 

“The president loves Sarah,” Scaramucci said, announcing Sanders’ promotion. “He thinks she’s doing a phenomenal job. I agree with him. I think Reince Priebus and other members of the staff agree. And I’m super proud to work with her. And I think she’s going to be phenomenal as a press secretary.”

Sanders most recently served as deputy press secretary, increasingly filling in for Spicer during on-camera and off-camera briefings.

The daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders managed her father’s presidential campaign in 2016 before joining Trump’s.

During her first appearance at the podium on Friday as press secretary, Sanders said taking the job at the White House is “one of the greatest honors that any person could ever have.”

“To get to do that up here in such a public way and speak on behalf of the president is absolutely an honor,” Sanders said. “It’s something I will cherish, and will hope to do my very best every single day. And be as open, honest and transparent with you all as humanly possible.”

Friday’s job announcements amount to a major shakeup in the president’s press shop at an already tumultuous time.


Sanders confirmed Spicer left because of the president’s plans to bring in new people, like Scaramucci.

“He understood that the president wanted to bring in and add new people to the team,” she said. “And Sean felt like it would be best for that team to be able to start with a totally clean slate.”

Sanders said Spicer will “stay on for the next several of weeks” through the transition.

Spicer, who spoke with Fox News on Friday, said the White House was at a point where Trump could benefit from a clean slate. 

Speculation about Spicer’s status with the White House has been up and down for months.

Spicer originally was supposed to lead a newly restructured communications operation. Under that structure, the communications director would report to him. Scaramucci said Friday he would report to the president directly.

Spicer’s departure comes as Trump has shown growing frustration over the Russia investigation. Though Spicer has defended Trump throughout the controversy, he has taken on a lower-profile role in recent weeks.

Scaramucci, a former Wall Street financier, thanked Spicer for his service in the administration.

“Sean is a true American patriot. He’s a military serviceman,” Scaramucci said. “He’s got a great family. And he’s done an amazing job. This is obviously a difficult situation to be in. And I applaud his efforts here. And I love the guy. And I wish him well. And I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and John Roberts contributed to this report.

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DEADLY DRINK Attorney: Bootleg booze killed woman at posh resort

A young woman, whose mysterious death at a luxurious Mexican resort in January is being probed by her parents, may have consumed bootlegged liquor that was contaminated — or drugged — before she drowned in a shallow pool, the family’s attorney said.

Abbey Conner, 20, was found next to her brother, Austin, face-down in a pool at the five-star Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen. The Wisconsin woman was vacationing at the resort with her mother and stepfather.

The siblings were transported to the hospital where Austin recovered. But Abbey was declared brain dead and died a few days later at a Florida hospital. Officials said the siblings had a blood alcohol level around .25, three times the legal limit in Wisconsin.

The attorney hired by Conner’s family said the resort was serving alcoholic beverages with a large quantity of poor quality alcohol.

“They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,” the lawyer wrote in a report, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The liquor, which might have been bootlegged, may have been “infused with grain alcohol or dangerous concentrations of methanol, cheaper alternatives to producing ethanol,” The Journal Sentinel reported.

That new information could shed some light into the cause of Conner’s death.

A few people familiar with the resort told The Journal Sentinel they had experienced injuries and sickness following their stay at the popular tourist spot — as well as others around Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Some of the travelers said they believed the alcohol was low quality.

Mexican police insist Conner drowned accidentally, but her family is not satisfied or convinced of that conclusion.

“If it was an accident, where was everybody?” asks Florentino Ramirez, the U.S. attorney hired by Abbey’s mom and stepdad, Ginny and John McGowan. “It just doesn’t make sense. There are too many open ends.”

Austin also claimed that he and his sister were not attempting to get drunk the night of her death. Austin said the two consumed a few shots of tequila and another “Jagerbomb” type shot before blacking out. Austin also said he hit his head at the time and had a “golf ball-sized lump” on his forehead.

“I’ve been in college for five years and had my fair share of drinks before,” Austin told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “No way in hell I’m putting my face down in a pool and going to sleep.”

Abbey and Austin’s father also believed the liquor may have been contaminated or drugged.

“Somebody had to slip them some type of drug,” Bill Conner said.

Ramirez said the two may have been targeted for a robbery or kidnapping.

Bill Conner said that he does feel some consolation after his daughter’s heart was donated to a 22-year-old man, Loumont Jack, who had been told he only had 10 days to live before getting the heart.

“Abbey is alive inside of him – it’s her heart having him stand up straight,” he told CBS News.

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MAP OF MISERY: Defectors, Google Earth pinpoint carnage of North Korea's bloody dictatorship

A Seoul-based non-governmental organization has used Google Earth technology to enable North Korean defectors to “build a digital map of crimes against humanity in North Korea.”

The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) released a new report  Wednesday, the result of two years of research and interviews with 375 North Korean defectors, that identifies what it says are grave sites, murder locations and government offices that “may be used for future investigation and prosecution of crimes against humanity.”

Hangings, public executions, cremation sites, and remote burial sites are ostensibly identified, said to be close in proximity to known detention facilities and labor camps. “The majority of burial and killing sites identified were in North Hamgyong Province, which borders China,” the report notes, acknowledging that 221 of the 375 people interviewed came from this province.

North Korean defectors identified 47 “body sites.”

“It is our intention to provide our data to the relevant legal authorities at a time when we expect the necessary criminal investigation to take place.”

– Report from Transitional Justice Working Group

The researchers used this term because, they said, “While the majority of these sites are burial sites, some of those identified by interviewees were sites where the bodies were not buried but rather abandoned, dumped, hidden without burial, or were storage sites for bodies yet to be buried or cremated.”

According to the organization, data was collected during interviews with the hundreds of North Korean defectors – 100 informants at first, and then another 275 in the second year. They were shown satellite imagery with basic landmark information such as rail lines, to initially orient themselves. Defectors would describe atrocities they had knowledge of, allowing the researchers to note the locations. They also categorized the source’s relationship to the location or the event, indicating if they were physically present, heard or saw directly, heard straight from a victim or heard only as a rumor. The data collected spans decades – not just Kim Jung Un’s current bloody reign, but that of his father Kim Jong Il, the former Supreme Leader, as well.

The group that produced the report, which they claim is the first of its kind, was founded in 2014 by human rights advocates and international researchers. TJWG crafted the report, entitled “Mapping Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea,” in order to attract more experts and informants to the cause.

In the findings, researchers noted that the project is not endeavoring to “establish individual criminal responsibility of given actors, but rather to expose in a transparent manner the extent of the violations committed and their systematic nature.”

“It is our intention,” states the report, “to provide our data to the relevant legal authorities at a time when we expect the necessary criminal investigation to take place.”

Reports of human rights violations out of North Korea are not the only concern for the international community. Recently, the isolated nation has conducted several missile tests, including the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on the Fourth of July.

According to the latest Fox News Poll, 68 percent of voters are concerned about war with North Korea. 

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TODD STARNES: Chick-fil-A sends care package to soldiers

Let’s just say the chicken tenders served at a military base in the Middle East are not exactly on par with the plump, juicy chicken they serve at Chick-fil-A.

That was the culinary dilemma facing a group of Texas Army National Guard soldiers deployed to Iraq for the next seven months.

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“I find myself day dreaming of the luxuries afforded to me stateside and how I take many simple things for granted,” wrote, Jessie, a First Lieutenant.

Now, soldiers in the Texas Army National Guard are a pretty resourceful bunch – so they decided to troubleshoot the problem.

They quickly realized their best and only solution was not in the Middle East – but in North Texas – at the local Chick-fil-A.

Jessie told The Todd Starnes Show that he posted a message on the Facebook page of the Founders Square location – asking for some much-needed help.

“Every Sunday is chicken tender night – which is one of the highlights of every week,” said Jessie, a first lieutenant in the Guard. “With this being said, the chicken is okay at best,” he wrote. “My buddies and I were sitting here trying to think up ideas on how to make the chicken more edible, and the easy solution would be to get barbecue sauce.”

Since refrigeration was an issue, Jessie said they would need individual servings of barbecue sauce – and the “best place for that is obviously Chick-fil-A.”

Jessie told “The Todd Starnes Show” about three weeks after he sent his message – he received quite a surprise – on of all days – Chicken Tender Day.

To continue reading Todd’s column from, click here.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.

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Missing 'Deadliest Catch' fishing boat found

A 98-foot crab fishing boat that sank in the icy waters where the “Deadliest Catch” hit TV show is filmed has been found after a lengthy search.

A NOAA research vessel found the Destination at the bottom of the Bering Sea– five months after it disappeared Feb. 11 with a crew of six, according to reports Thursday. The crew was fishing for snow crab near the remote island of St. George, Alaska, at the time.

“The vessel location is an instrumental piece of our investigation,” said Cmdr. Scott Muller, head of the Coast Guard’s investigation of the loss.

The mother of Destination crewman Kai Hamick told KOMO-TV she wants to know what happened.

“This is a good boat,” Judy Hamick told the station. “Why did this have to happen? Knowing that they found the boat is relief, but we know we still don’t have any bodies to recover.”

The NOAA ship, the Fairweather, found the Destination two weeks ago in 250-feet of water using multi-beam sonar, Q13 Fox reported.

In the spring, another NOAA ship, the Oscar Dyson, narrowed the search field using its multi-beam echo sounder, the station reported.

A Coast Guard dive team will investigate the sunken vessel in the next week or so.

“The crew and officers of Oscar Dyson and Fairweather were honored to assist the Coast Guard in this investigation,” said Captain Keith Roberts, NOAA Corps, commanding officer of NOAA’s Marine Operations Center – Pacific. “Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those lost aboard the Destination.”

The loss deeply affected members of Seattle’s close-knit community of deep sea crabbers, including those who have become stars on Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch,” like captain Keith Colburn.

KIRO-TV reported that Colburn said in a radio interview that he has lost many friends in the unforgiving Bering Sea but that doesn’t make the loss of the Destination any easier.

“It’s a mystery is what it is,” Colburn said, according to the station. “And this is not the first time that we’ve lost a vessel that literally just vanished.

“The only thing we can speculate is that something catastrophic gave way — a bulkhead gave way or something and flooded; maybe a weird wave and the vessel capsized instantly,” he added. “That’s all we can figure.”


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11-year-old invents hot car alert for parents

11-year-old Bishop Curry has invented a device that could save the lives of children across the country from hot cars.

Curry has invented a device that would be installed in cars to alert parents and authorities if a child has been left in a hot car.

“It has a temperature monitor on it and once it gets to a certain degrees, it detects [if] there is a person in the car,” said Bishop’s mom, Tia Curry, “Then it has a fanning cooling system and it starts to cool the car. It’s simultaneously alerting the parents and alerting the authorities.”

Bishop told FBN’s Stuart Varney that he has applied for a patent.

“The patent office says it’ll be available in a year,” said Bishop.  His mom explained that he had approximately four months left before they would get word back on the patent.

Bishop’s mom added that his goal is to keep the product affordable.

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“Bishop wants to keep the prices really reasonable, so most families, if not all families, can afford it. So we’re looking for under fifty dollars,” explained Tia Curry.

According to the group Kids and Cars, 804 children have died from being left in hot cars since 1994. 

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