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Donald Trump pardons former aide Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI

25 November

Donald Trump has pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Retired Army general Flynn was one of several former aides of the outgoing president to plead guilty or be convicted at trial in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Moscow's interference to boost the former reality TV host's candidacy.
He is expected to be the first of several key associates pardoned by Mr Trump before he leaves the White House on 20 January.
The Republican has been returning in the days since his election loss this month to criticism of the probe, which he has long insisted was motivated by political bias.
"It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Mr Trump tweeted.
"Congratulations to (at)GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!"
Flynn is the second Trump associate convicted in the Russia investigation to be granted clemency by the president.
The president commuted the sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison, amid a broader effort to undo the results of an investigation that has shadowed his administration and prompted criminal charges against a half dozen associates.
The pardon voids the criminal case against Flynn just as a federal judge was weighing, sceptically, whether to grant a Justice Department request to dismiss the prosecution - despite Flynn's own guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.
Coming as Mr Trump nears the end of his single term, the move is likely to energise supporters who have taken up the case as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they claim is an unfair prosecution.
His continued backing comes despite the fact Mr Mueller's prosecutors once praised him as a model cooperator in their probe into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.
The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns over the last year after the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case.
Officials insisted Flynn should have never been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have US District Justice Emmet Sullivan refuse the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position.
Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell told the judge in September that she had discussed the Flynn case with Mr Trump but also said she did not want a pardon - presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.
Ms Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of the Mr Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the defeated leader's legal team ultimately distanced itself from her after she promoted a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.
The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Mr Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately decided to reject the Justice Department's dismissal request.

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Maradona dead: Argentina legend and one of world's greatest footballers dies aged 60

25 November

The legendary Argentinian player Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60, the country's football association has said.

Maradona, who captained the 1986 World Cup-winning team, is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time - if not the greatest.
There will be three days of national mourning, Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez said, adding that Maradona "made us immensely happy".
A minute's silence was held in the player's memory at the Champions League matches on Wednesday evening.
Latest reaction live after Maradona dies aged 60
The star, who underwent surgery for a subdural haematoma a few weeks ago, died of a heart attack, his lawyer said.
It happened at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, according to Argentinian media.
A subdural haematoma is a serious condition where a blood clot develops between the skull and the surface of the brain. It is usually caused by a head injury.
The player's doctor, Leopoldo Luque, said he had shown signs of improvement since the operation.
Maradona was also admitted to hospital recently because he was "not well psychologically".
He had been "very sad for a week" and "didn't want to eat", according to one of his representatives.
As well as the World Cup triumph in 1986, when Argentina beat West Germany in the final, Maradona also led his country to the final of the Italia 90 tournament, and managed them in South Africa in 2010.
His international playing career ended after he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
He was also banned from football in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Italian side Napoli, where he won two Serie A titles.
His "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 quarter-finals - when he pushed the ball into the net with his hand - was followed by a remarkable solo effort, in which he dribbled past half the England team.
Just 14 years later, the man born in a shanty town on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires - the fifth of eight children - nearly died of cocaine-induced heart failure.
In 2005, he had a gastric bypass operation to lose weight, and was treated in 2007 for life-threatening alcohol-induced hepatitis.
Given his first football as an infant, he slept with it under his arm and was discovered in street kickabouts by the scout for Argentinos Juniors, making his league debut 10 days before his 16th birthday.
At 17, he just missed being included in Argentina's 1978 World Cup-winning squad at home.
Former England striker Gary Lineker, who played against Maradona in the World Cup quarter-final in 1986, said the Argentinian star was "by some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time".
He added: "After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he'll finally find some comfort in the hands of God."
Brazil's Pele said: "I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky."
Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo said Maradona was an "eternal genius" and an "unmatched magician".
Graeme Souness, who played against Maradona during his time in Italy with Sampdoria, said he was "tiny but fearless", an "absolute warrior and ridiculously brave".
To play against him was to be in the "presence of greatness", the former Liverpool captain added.
Napoli said Maradona's death was a "devastating blow" for both the city and the club.
Among those paying tribute was Pope Francis, with the Vatican saying he remembered the footballer with affection and was keeping him in his prayers.
During his time in football, Maradona also played for Barcelona, Sevilla, Boca Juniors and Newell's Old Boys and was most recently manager of Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata, Argentina.
He coached in the Middle East and Mexico, as well as in his home country.

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Diego Maradona: A genius yes, but 'incredibly complicated' too

25 November

As the world of football comes to terms with the news one of its greatest has died, Argentinian sports writer Marcela Mora y Araujo tells Sky News why his impact goes far beyond the pitch.

As news broke that Diego Maradona had died at the age of 60 it wasn't only South America that went into mourning.
"There will be a massive outpouring of grief worldwide," said Mora y Araujo.
The football writer and broadcaster has spent many years watching, and travelling with, the Argentinian legend and said that while undoubtedly one of the world's greatest, he was also an "antagonistic" figure who divided some.
"I have been with him in really remote places and there is a respect and a reverence for him that is completely universal. I have seen it in posh restaurants in Kensington, as well as in remote parts of India, Bangladesh - it's a universal adoration," she said.
"Those of us who love football tend to really love Maradona."
But she added there were two sides to the legend's world - off the pitch he struggled with substance abuse.
"There's everything he did on the pitch - which is absolutely extraordinary - and then there is this incredibly complicated, traumatised and achingly human person that was somehow also always in the limelight.
The sporting world pays tribute to a legend
"His turbulent personal life has been played out - the substance abuse, his incredible poverty, all of it played out in public - including his demise."
Mora y Araujo, who translated the player's autobiography El Diego into English, said that given his recent medical problems his death should not have come as a surprise and yet it felt like "an absolute shock".
She said in social media chat rooms, forums and sporting websites people were outwardly "weeping" at the news.
"He was a very antagonistic figure - a lot of people were not quite so enamoured at the celebrity he had become - but for the player and the man that brought so much joy and beauty to the most noble game there will be a massive outpouring of grief on quite some scale."
Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez has said there will be three days of national mourning in the country for Maradona.

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COVID-19: UK records another 696 coronavirus-related deaths - the highest daily total since start of

25 November

The UK has recorded another 696 COVID-related deaths and a further 18,213 cases - the highest daily total for fatalities since 5 May.

It is the second six-month high in consecutive days, after the country recorded 11,299 cases and 608 related deaths on Tuesday.
The announcement brings the government's official coronavirus death toll to 56,533.
However, separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths where COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 72,000 deaths involving the virus across the country.
Live updates on coronavirus from UK and around world
The total number of cases in the UK now stands at 1,557,007.
It comes as scientists warned that Boris Johnson's plans to ease coronavirus restrictions over Christmas risked "throwing fuel on the COVID fire".
For five days between 23 and 27 December, people across the UK will be able to mix within a Christmas bubble of up to three households - but only in a private home, a place of worship or outdoor public spaces.
Restrictions will remain for pubs, restaurants and the wider hospitality sector, which described the rules as likely to "inflict unnecessary pain and irreversible damage".
The latest figures also follows a sobering statement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who announced a pay freeze for public sector workers outside the NHS in his one-year spending review.
It comes as the government said it had detailed plans to tackle the spreading of "lies" and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
Health minister Lord Bethell told peers that plans were in place to deal with both "misinformation based on confusion" and "disinformation based on malice".

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Spending review: Baroness Sugg resigns as government minister after Rishi Sunak cuts foreign aid

25 November

A Foreign Office minister has quit following Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement of a cut to the UK's overseas aid spending.

Baroness Sugg resigned from her junior ministerial role after the government abandoned a Conservative manifesto commitment to fund the foreign aid budget at the equivalent of 0.7% of gross national income.
The chancellor's move has prompted fury among charities and some Tories, with former prime minister David Cameron - who wrote the 0.7% commitment into law while in Downing Street - branding it "a very sad moment".
"Putting food on people's tables, vaccinating children, stopping mothers from dying in childbirth - these were brilliant things we were doing it and it said something brilliant about this country, and it's sad we're standing back from that," the ex-premier said.
Live updates and reaction after Rishi Sunak's spending review
Announcing the foreign aid cut at his one-year spending review on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said the government would instead spend 0.5% of gross national income on overseas aid.
The chancellor told the House of Commons the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant "sticking rigidly to spending 0.7% of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people".
Mr Sunak told MPs a cut in foreign aid spending in 2021 would be followed by an "intention" to return to the 0.7% commitment "when the fiscal situation allows".
In her resignation letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Baroness Sugg wrote: "I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development.
"This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good.
"Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises."
She also told the prime minister that cutting foreign aid "risks undermining your efforts to promote a Global Britain and will diminish our power to influence other nations to do what is right".
Baroness Sugg had also been Mr Johnson's special envoy for girls' education.
In his reply, the prime minister said he was "very sorry" to have received the peer's letter of resignation, as he thanked Baroness Sugg for her "outstanding service".
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "Liz has been a great minister and we will sorely miss her.
"She can be proud of her record championing girls' education, promoting gender equality, supporting our Overseas Territories and the UK's vital relations in the Caribbean.
"I am sorry to see her go."
The UK is committed in law to spending 0.7% of gross national income on foreign aid every year, under legislation passed during Mr Cameron's time in office.
Mr Johnson's government is now expected to bring forward legislation to reverse that commitment.
Baroness Sugg previously served as Downing Street's director of operations and campaigns during Mr Cameron's premiership.
The ex-prime minister nominated her for a peerage when he quit Number 10 in 2016.
In an article for the Financial Times, Mr Raab described a "tough but necessary and temporary" decision to cut the aid budget.
"We take it with regret, and we will return to 0.7% as soon as the fiscal situation allows," he said.
The foreign secretary also vowed to "double down on the effectiveness of our aid".
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was among those to criticise the chancellor's cutting of the foreign aid budget, branding it "shameful and wrong".
Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds claimed Mr Sunak had "turned his back on the world's poorest".
Conservative former cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt claimed the foreign aid cut would make the UK "poorer in the eyes of the world, because people will worry that we are abandoning a noble ideal that we in this country have done more to champion than anyone else".
Fellow Tory ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell told Mr Sunak the cut would "be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children".
However, other Conservative MPs were supportive of the move.
Philip Davies said people in the "real world" would support the cut, adding: "I suspect that the vast majority of the British public won't be asking why has he [Mr Sunak] cut so much, they will probably be asking why are we still spending so much."
Martin Vickers told the House of Commons he believed a "temporary move is the right one" if "we are to continue to ask our constituents to make sacrifices".

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