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Darth Vader Actor Dave Prowse Dead at 85, Agent Says

Dave Prowse, the British actor behind the menacing black mask of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, has died, his agent Thomas Bowington said Sunday.”It’s with great sadness that we have to announce that our client Dave Prowse… passed away yesterday morning at the age of 85,” Bowington wrote on Facebook.”May the force be with him, always!” the agent told the BBC.Bowington added that Prowse’s death was “a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world.”A former bodybuilder turned actor, Prowse’s towering stature at almost two meters clinched him the role of the instantly recognizable antagonist in the original Star Wars trilogy.But while he donned the glossy black armor and cape, the Bristol native’s strong western English accent meant the filmmakers turned to James Earl Jones for the chilling voice that would emerge from behind the mask.Prowse nevertheless remained attached to the character, telling AFP in 2013 that he was “the greatest big-screen villain of all time.”Since the original Star Wars trilogy was released in the late 1970s and early 80s, Prowse had travelled the world meeting hardcore fans.

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Mike Tyson Returns to Ring, Draws in Exhibition with Jones

Mike Tyson stepped through the ropes in his signature black trunks and heard the opening bell in a boxing ring for the first time in 15 years.The former heavyweight champion of the world traded lively punches with Roy Jones Jr. for eight entertaining rounds that ended with two middle-aged legends wearily hugging each other in mutual admiration.Their fight was only an exhibition, and it ended in a draw. But for Tyson, the experience evoked the joy and excitement he felt so long ago at the start of his boxing career — and it was likely the start of a new chapter in his epic life.“I’m happy I’m not knocked out,” Tyson said. “I’ll look better in the next one.”Tyson showed glimpses of his destructive prime Saturday night during the 54-year-old boxing icon’s return to the ring against the 51-year-old Jones.Tyson had the most impactful punches, showing off versions of the footwork and combinations that made him the world’s most feared fighter. After eight two-minute rounds, both Tyson and Jones emerged from Staples Center smiling and apparently healthy.“This is better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said of the heavyweight exhibition, which raised money for various charities. “We’re humanitarians now. We can do something good for the world. We’ve got to do this again.”Tyson’s return to the ring for this show attracted international attention, and Iron Mike did his best to demonstrate his months of work to recapture a measure of the form that made him a legend to a generation of boxing fans.Tyson tagged Jones with body shots, head shots and a particularly nasty uppercut during a bout that was required by the California State Athletic Commission to be a reasonably safe, glorified sparring session.Tyson was exhausted two hours afterward, but also clearly energized as he recounted his emotions with his wife and team looking on.Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. pose with their belts after a split draw during a heavyweight exhibition boxing bout for the WBC Frontline Belt at the Staples Center on Nov. 28, 2020. (Photo: Joe Scarnici/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports)“I took my youth for granted,” Tyson said. “This event made me find out what I was really made of. … My body feels splendid. I want to beat it up some more.”Tyson intends to fight in more exhibitions next year, perhaps heading to Monte Carlo next to challenge a European fighter. He didn’t close the door on the possibility of a full-fledged comeback, although that would be many fights in the future.For one night, Tyson and Jones were back at the center of the sports world, and they reveled in it.“I’m happy to scratch that off my bucket list and move on with my life,” said Jones, the former four-division world champion widely considered the most skilled boxer of his generation. “He hit harder than I thought. Everything hurt. His hands hurt. His head hurts. Everything hurt when I made contact. He’s an exceptional puncher still. He can do anything he wants next.”Neither fighter was deceived by the quality of the bout. While both came out throwing punches that evoked echoes of their glorious primes, they also tied up frequently on the inside, and their occasionally labored breathing could be heard on the microphones in the empty arena.Hip hop star Snoop Dogg’s witty television commentary was among the loudest noises inside Staples, and he had a handful of zingers: “This is like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue!”But Tyson and Jones were the headliners in the most improbable pay-per-view boxing event in years, engineered by social networking app Triller and featuring fights interspersed with hip hop performances in an empty arena.The event was derided as an anti-sporting spectacle by some critics, yet both Tyson and Jones appeared to handle themselves capably and safely. Their fans were clearly enthralled, with the show getting enormous traction on social media.Some of that success was due to the co-main event, in which YouTube star Jake Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson in the second round of Robinson’s pro boxing debut. Paul, in his second pro fight, recorded three knockdowns against Robinson, the three-time NBA Slam Dunk contest champion, before an overhand right put Robinson flat on his face and apparently unconscious.

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Britain, France in Pact to Stop Illegal Migrant Crossings

Britain and France on Saturday signed an agreement aimed at ending illegal migration across the English Channel.Starting Dec. 1, patrols on French beaches will be doubled, and technology, including drones and radar, will be used detect the would-be migrant crossings, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said.Patel said the agreement would help the two countries “make channel crossings completely unviable.”She said in the past 10 years Britain had given France nearly $200 million to tackle immigration.More than 6,000 people tried to cross the Channel from Jan. 1 through August of this year.French authorities have said that in September they had intercepted more than 1,300 people attempting to reach Britain.Seven people have died so far this year trying to cross to Britain, and four died last year.

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Pennsylvania High Court Rejects Lawsuit Challenging Election

Pennsylvania’s highest court on Saturday night threw out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests on its Nov. 3 election ballot in the latest lawsuit filed by Republicans attempting to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the 3-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the expiration of a time limit in Pennsylvania’s expansive year-old mail-in voting law allowing for challenges to it.Justices also remarked on the lawsuit’s staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.“They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion.The state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the court’s decision “another win for Democracy.”President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that Democrats falsified mail-in ballots to steal the election from Trump. Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016.The week-old lawsuit, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania, had challenged the state’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.As a remedy, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.In any case, that request — for the state’s lawmakers to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors — flies in the face of a nearly century-old state law that already grants the power to pick electors to the state’s popular vote, Wecht wrote.While the high court’s two Republicans joined the five Democrats in opposing those remedies, they split from Democrats in suggesting that the lawsuit’s underlying claims — that the state’s mail-in voting law might violate the constitution — are worth considering.Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, elected as a Republican in 2009, had issued the order Wednesday to halt certification of any remaining contests, including apparently contests for Congress.It did not appear to affect the presidential contest since a day earlier, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had certified Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.Wolf quickly appealed McCullough’s decision to the state Supreme Court, saying there was no “conceivable justification” for it.The lawsuit’s dismissal comes after Republicans have lost a flurry of legal challenges brought by the Trump campaign and its GOP allies filed in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania.On Friday, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the Trump campaign’s latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.In that lawsuit, Trump’s campaign had complained that its observers had not been able to scrutinize mail-in ballots as they were being processed in two Democratic bastions, Philadelphia and Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh.Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges’ assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”

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UK, EU Resume Face-to-face Trade Talks With Time Running Out

Teams from Britain and the European Union resumed face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit trade deal Saturday, with both sides sounding gloomy about striking an agreement in the little time that remains.EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier returned to London to meet his U.K. counterpart, David Frost. Talks have been held virtually for the past week as Barnier completed a spell of self-isolation after a member of his team tested positive for the coronavirus.COVID-19 is just one complication in negotiations that remain snagged over key issues including fishing rights and fair-competition rules. Barnier said Friday that the remote talks had made little progress and the “same significant divergences persist.”The U.K. left the EU early this year but remained part of the bloc’s economic embrace during an 11-month transition as the two sides tried to negotiate a new free-trade deal to take effect January 1. Talks have slipped past the mid-November date long seen as a deadline to secure a deal in time for it to be approved and ratified by lawmakers in Britain and the EU.If there is no deal, New Year’s Day will bring huge disruption, with the overnight imposition of tariffs and other barriers to U.K.-EU trade. That will hurt both sides, but the burden will fall most heavily on Britain, which does almost half its trade with the EU.While both sides want a deal, they have fundamental differences about what it entails. The 27-nation EU accuses Britain of seeking to retain access to the bloc’s vast market without agreeing to abide by its rules and wants strict guarantees on “level playing field” standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU.The U.K. claims the EU is failing to respect its independence and making demands it has not placed on other countries with whom it has free-trade deals, such as Canada.To reach a deal the EU will have to curb its demands on continued access to U.K. fishing waters, and Britain must agree to some alignment with the bloc’s rules — difficult issues for politicians on both sides.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Irish leader Micheal Martin on Friday that he remained committed “to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the U.K.,” Johnson’s office said.

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French Protesters, Police Clash Over New Security Legislation

Violent clashes erupted Saturday in Paris as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a Black man that shocked France.Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law that would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces.About 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide in about 70 cities, including in Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier and Nantes, the Interior Ministry said. Protest organizers said about 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital.President Emmanuel Macron said late Friday that the images of the beating of Black music producer Michel Zecler by police officers in Paris last weekend “shame us.” The incident magnified concerns about alleged systemic racism in the police force.”Police everywhere, justice nowhere,” “police state” and “smile while you are beaten” were among the slogans brandished as protesters marched from Place de la Republique to the nearby Place de la Bastille.”We have felt for a long time to have been the victim of institutionalized racism from the police,” said Mohamed Magassa 35, who works in a reception center for minors. “But now we feel that this week all of France has woken up.”People with banners and posters attend a demonstration against security legislation, in Paris, Nov. 28, 2020.”The fundamental and basic liberties of our democracy are being attacked — freedom of expression and information,” added Sophie Misiraca, 46, a lawyer.Several cars, a newspaper kiosk and a brasserie were set on fire close to Place de la Bastille, police said.Some protesters threw stones at the security forces, who responded by firing tear gas and using water cannon, an AFP correspondent said.Police complained that protesters impeded fire services from putting out the blazes and said nine people had been detained by the early evening.French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin condemned “unacceptable” violence against the police, saying 37 members of the security forces had been injured nationwide.Investigation launchedAn investigation has been opened against the four police involved, but commentators say the images, first published by the Loopsider news site, might never have been made public if the contentious Article 24 of the security legislation had been made law.The article would criminalize the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.” It was passed by the National Assembly, although it is awaiting Senate approval.Cars burn during a demonstration against the “Global Security Bill” opposed by rights groups in France, in Paris, Nov. 28, 2020.The controversy over the law and police violence is developing into another crisis for the government as Macron confronts the pandemic, its economic fallout and a host of problems on the international stage.In a sign that the government could be preparing to backtrack, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24.But he was forced into a U-turn even on this proposal after parliament speaker Richard Ferrand, a close Macron ally, accused the premier of trying to usurp the role of parliament.For critics, the legislation is further evidence of a slide to the right by Macron, who came to power in 2017 as a centrist promising liberal reform of France.”The police violence has left Emmanuel Macron facing a political crisis,” said the Le Monde daily.’Anger and fear’The issue has also pressured the high-flying Darmanin, who was promoted to the job this summer despite being targeted by a rape probe, with Le Monde saying tensions were growing between him and the Elysee.The images of the beating of Zecler emerged days after the police forcibly removed a migrant camp in central Paris.A series of high-profile cases against police officers over mistreatment of Black or Arab citizens has raised accusations of institutionalized racism. The force has insisted violations are the fault of isolated individuals.Three of the police involved in the beating of Zecler are being investigated for using racial violence and all four are being held for questioning after their detention Saturday was extended for another 24 hours, prosecutors said.In a letter seen by AFP, Paris police chief Didier Lallement wrote to officers warning them they risked facing “anger and fear” in the coming weeks but insisted he could count on their “sense of honor and ethics.”

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Ex-Trump Campaign Aide Sues Over Russia Probe Surveillance

A former Trump campaign associate who was the target of a secret surveillance warrant during the FBI’s Russia investigation says in a federal lawsuit that he was the victim of “unlawful spying.”The suit from Carter Page alleges a series of omissions and errors made by FBI and Justice Department officials in applications they submitted in 2016 and 2017 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on Page on suspicion that he was an agent of Russia.”Since not a single proven fact ever established complicity with Russia involving Dr. Page, there never was probable cause to seek or obtain the FISA Warrants targeting him on this basis,” the lawsuit says, using the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.Page has received death and kidnapping threats and has suffered economic losses and “irreparable damage to his reputation,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington.The lawsuit to some extent echoes the conclusions of a Justice Department inspector general report that found significant problems with the four applications. Former FBI and Justice Department leaders who were involved in signing off on the surveillance have since testified they wouldn’t have done so had they known of the extent of the issues, and the FBI has initiated more than 40 corrective steps aimed at improving the accuracy and thoroughness of applications.In the complaint, Page accuses the FBI of relying excessively for information on Christopher Steele, a former British spy whose research during the 2016 campaign into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia was funded by Democrats. It says the FBI failed to tell the surveillance court that Steele’s primary source had contradicted information that Steele had attributed to him, or that Page had denied to an informant for the FBI having “any involvement with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.”The complaint also accuses the FBI of having misled the surveillance court about Page’s relationship with the CIA, for whom Page had been an operational contact between 2008 and 2013. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty in August to altering an email to say that Page had not been a source for the CIA.The suit names as defendants the FBI and the Justice Department, as well as former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and additional officials who were involved in the Russia investigation.Despite the problems with the warrant applications, the scrutiny of Page, who was never charged with any wrongdoing, accounted for only a narrow portion of the overall investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.The same inspector general report that detailed problems in the applications also concluded that the FBI had a legitimate basis for opening the Russia investigation, and did not find evidence that any of its actions were influenced by political bias. 

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