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August 4, 2014

Things aren't going so well for Sen. John Walsh (D) back home in Montana, after it was reported two weeks ago that his 2007 master's thesis at the Army War College was extensively plagiarized from other sources. In the latest development, the state's two biggest newspapers both published editorials on Sunday calling upon Walsh to drop out of the Senate race.

The state's largest paper, the Billings Gazette, wrote, "Having repeatedly said that he wants to do the honorable thing, Walsh should stop campaigning and do his utmost to serve Montanans well in the remainder of his brief Senate appointment. That is the honorable course." The paper acknowledged that this would all but cost Democrats the race, since "there is no replacement candidate who could jump in and run a competitive campaign in the little time left before voting starts."

The second-biggest paper, the Missoulian, disagreed with that dire assessment, but warned that Walsh and Democrats would have to act soon: "He has until Aug. 11 to do so and get his name removed from the ballot, which would allow the Montana Democratic Party to name a replacement candidate by Aug. 20 — just in time to make sure that candidate’s name appears on the ballot."

Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year, after having served as the state's lieutenant governor. However, the state's sole U.S. House member, Republican Rep. Steve Daines, has been widely favored to win the election this November. Eric Kleefeld

October 16, 2017

On Monday, President Trump told reporters that ObamaCare is dead, killed by his executive orders last week. Because he ended the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) to insurance companies, used to subsidize health care for millions of low-income customers — 70 percent of whom live in states Trump won — "there is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore," Trump said. His action prompted Congress to start working on a short-term fix, he added, instead of "having lunch and enjoying themselves." A minute later, Trump blamed the purportedly dead law for insurers raising premiums:

Sadly, the Democrats can't join us on that which will be the long-term fix, but I do believe we will have a short-term fix because I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess. This is an ObamaCare mess. When the premiums go up, that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we had poor care delivered poorly, written poorly, approved by the Democrats. [Trump]

The Congressional Budget Office predicted in August that ending the CSRs would raise premiums and the federal deficit, and on Monday, Pennsylvania's insurance commissioner announced that rates on ObamaCare exchanges will rise an average of 30.6 percent, rather than 7.6 percent, "due to President Trump's refusal to make cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018 and Congress' inaction to appropriate funds." Trump said he thinks Republicans will still "get the health care done," adding that while most GOP senators "are really, really great people ... a few people disappointed us. Really, really disappointed us. I can understand how Steve Bannon feels."

Over the weekend, incidentally, Bannon told the Value Voters Summit he feels that ending the CSRs will "blow up" the ObamaCare exchanges. Peter Weber

October 16, 2017
STR/AFP/Getty Images

A North Korean official announced Monday that Pyongyang has no interest in diplomacy with the United States until it develops an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach "all the way to the East Coast of the mainland U.S.," CNN reports.

"Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States," the official said.

Trump has gone back and forth on whether talking with North Korea is any sort of "answer." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the contrary, told Fox News that diplomacy will continue "until the first bomb drops." Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017

President Trump claimed Monday that former presidents, including Barack Obama, did not call the families of fallen soldiers, sparking quick and furious outcry on social media. "The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed," Trump said. He added, "The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it."

Alyssa Mastromonaco‏, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations under Obama, tweeted: "That's a f---ing lie. To say President Obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA — he's a deranged animal."

NBC News' Peter Alexander challenged Trump on the remarks. "Earlier you claimed President Obama never called the families of fallen soldiers," Alexander said. "How can you make that claim?"

"I don't know if he did," Trump answered. "I was told that he didn't often [call]. And a lot of presidents don't, they write letters." Trump also admitted he had not called the families of the U.S. soldiers killed in Niger 12 days ago. Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017
STR/AFP/Getty Images

A prominent Maltese journalist known for cracking corruption scandals involving her country's highest officials was killed by a car bomb near her home in Bidnija, Malta, on Monday, The Guardian reports. Four months ago, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, linked Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal. Muscat and his wife "denied claims that they had used secret offshore bank accounts to hide payments from Azerbaijan's ruling family," the BBC writes.

Caruana Galizia's investigative work has been hailed abroad, with Politico calling her "a one-woman WikiLeaks" and listing her as one of the 28 people "making and shaking Europe." In her last post, published hours before her death, Caruana Galizia wrote: "There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."

On Monday, Muscat condemned Caruana Galizia's murder: "I will not rest until I see justice done in this case," he said. "Our country deserves justice." Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Kelly Craft

A federal judge refused Monday to toss out any of the charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in the ongoing corruption trial stemming from his alleged use of office to secure business deals for a friend in exchange for gifts, CBS News reports. Menendez allegedly did government favors for Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen for years in return for lavish presents, including a luxury suite in Paris, flights on a private plane, and thousands of dollars in donations.

Menendez's team argued unsuccessfully that a 2016 Supreme Court decision narrowing the definition of bribery should allow for Menendez's case to be tossed. "None of what Menendez did qualified as quid pro quo corruption under the revised test, his lawyers said, because Menendez never agreed to perform any specific act when he received specific favors from Melgen," NBC News writes.

Menendez's defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, also said prosecutors were trying to turn gift-giving that had been common over a 25-year friendship into something it was not: "These two men refer to each other as brothers," Lowell said.

"We are living in a real world of reality and common sense," concluded U.S. District Judge William Walls. "The jury will decide whose version of what happened or didn't happen is more likely than not." Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017

President Trump made it clear Monday that the Affordable Care Act is absolutely, positively, no-buts-about-it dead. "ObamaCare is finished," Trump said. "It's dead, it's gone. It's no longer — you shouldn't even mention it."

Last week, the White House announced an end to Affordable Care Act subsidy payments to insurance companies that lowered premiums for low-income customers.

"There is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore," Trump added Monday for good measure. Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017

London was transformed into a post-apocalyptic landscape out of Blade Runner 2049 on Monday as former hurricane Ophelia pulled smoke and red Sahara dust over southern England and Wales:

Residents of Ireland's southern coast — where 110-mph winds have knocked out power and torn off roofs — expressed frustration with their neighbor's photos. "People in England — we will read your tweets about the 'eerie calm' and 'odd reddish light' after we find the roofs of our houses," one user tweeted. At least three people have been killed in the storm, The Times reports. Jeva Lange

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