US judge orders Trump admin to honor abortion request by undocumented teen

By ethan / October 18, 2017

A 15-weeks pregnant undocumented teenager apprehended last month on the US-Mexico border must be allowed to obtain an abortion “promptly and without delay,” a federal judge has told the Trump administration.

“Jane Doe,” as the 17-year-old illegal immigrant is known in court documents, has a constitutional right to an elective abortion, US District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, for the District of Columbia, ruled on Wednesday.

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© Global Look Press

Scott Stewart, a US deputy assistant attorney general, failed to convince the Obama-nominated judge that the teenager, who remains in government custody in Brownsville, Texas, should return to her home country if she doesn’t want to carry the pregnancy to term, or otherwise find a US sponsor.

“I am astounded by that position,” Chutkan said, according to the Washington Post.

“I respectfully disagree that she’s entitled to an abortion” expedited by the government, Stewart said, clarifying that Jane Doe’s situation was not a medical emergency, the Post reported.

Chutkan ordered the government to transport Doe, or allow her guardian or lawyer to transport her, “promptly and without delay to the abortion provider closest” to the Brownsville shelter.

Under Texas law, in order to have an abortion, the woman must make two trips to the provider, adhere to a waiting period between those visits, and receive an ultrasound. Due to these restraints, as well as Texas prohibiting most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the judge ordered the US government facilitate the girl’s access to an abortion provider by Thursday, and for the operation to occur by October 21, depending on the availability and medical requirements of the provider.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the case, had also asked for a preliminary injunction to cover all similar cases of undocumented immigrants in US custody seeking abortions. However, the judge ruled only on this specific case.

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© Reuters

Doe’s lawyers argued that she had abided by state and federal rules, with a Texas judge granting permission for the abortion. The ACLU did not request, nor did the judge’s ruling require, that any government agency pay for the abortion or provide transportation. The US government simply needs to process paperwork for the visit to the clinic, Chutkan ruled.

That wasn’t too much to ask, Chutkan found, since federal agents had already taken Doe “against her will” to a Christian pregnancy facility for counseling and also informed Doe’s mother, the Post reported. Chutkan added that these moves may have violated her rights to privacy and other constitutional protections.

It remains unclear if the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling.

The Trump administration has “strong and constitutionally legitimate interests in promoting childbirth, in refusing to facilitate abortion, and in not providing incentives for pregnant minors to illegally cross the border to obtain elective abortions while in federal custody,” the government’s court filings read, according to the Post.

Although the girl was apprehended for illegally crossing the Mexican border into the US last month, her country of origin is unknown, and so is that country’s abortion law.

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Boston man guilty of ISIS-inspired plot to behead conservative blogger

By ethan / October 18, 2017

A federal jury has found a Boston man guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorism and of supporting the Islamic State over a 2015 plot to behead conservative blogger Pamela Geller.

On Wednesday, jurors found David Wright guilty of five criminal charges, including planning to behead Geller. He could face up to life in prison.

The plot was hatched when Wright, his uncle Usamaah Abdullah Rahim and Nicolas Rovinski became upset over Geller organizing a “Draw Mohammed” contest in Garland, Texas in 2015.

Wright, 28, Rahim and Rovinski brought knives and planned to travel to New York to kill Geller. That plan fell apart in June 2015, when Rahim said he had lost patience and planned to attack police in Boston instead.

As the group was already under law enforcement surveillance, this conversation was overheard. When police confronted Rahim, he pulled a knife and was shot dead by officers.

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Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem. (Reuters/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

The US government argued Wright was a “sophisticated recruiter,” and “manipulated people, including his own uncle, into believing that they needed to join ISIS and kill Americans.”

Prosecutors also argued that Wright’s uncle received directions about the plan to kill Geller from Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) group member and hacker who was later killed in an airstrike in Syria.

Rovinski pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy charges and faces 15 to 22 years in prison. He testified against Wright, telling jurors that Wright said Geller “deserved to be beheaded,” because she insulted Mohammad.

Wright, who took the rare step of testifying and cried on the witness stand when he spoke of his uncle, insisted that he didn’t think Rahim was serious about the attack.

He testified that he used IS propaganda to get attention, was just “playing a role” and never wanted to commit violence, according to the Boston Herald.

“They weren’t planning on arresting Wright until Usamaah Rahim did something,” defense attorney Jessica Hedges said, according to Reuters. “What the government has done in this case over and over is exploit the fear that ISIS inspires.”

Geller is the founder of American Freedom Defense Initiative, a Houston-based group critical of Islam that attracted attention in 2015 with a series of controversial ads on public buses. Geller has said that her Texas event and the ad campaigns are a demonstration of free speech rights protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

In May 2015, two men attempted to attack the “Draw Mohammad” exhibition in Garland, Texas. Shortly before the event’s conclusion, they entered the venue with assault rifles, shooting a security officer in the leg before getting killed by return fire.

Federal investigators traced the gunmen back to Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 43, of Arizona, who was indicted on conspiracy and weapons charges as well as lying to investigators and supporting the assault on the exhibition. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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Former player Kaepernick not invited to NFL meeting on anthem protests

By ethan / October 18, 2017

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not invited to an NFL meeting to address the controversy surrounding national anthem protests that have swept the league.

“The player was not invited to attend today’s meeting,” Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos said, adding that the 29-year-old “is open to future participation on these important discussions.”

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© Eduardo Munoz

Kaepernick, who last year triggered the wave of ‘take a knee’ actions during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games, has remained unsigned since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March. Last Sunday the player filed a lawsuit against the NFL over alleged collusion to keep him out of the league.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hailed Tuesday’s meeting in New York City between club owners, union leaders and players as “very productive and important”, but emphasized the league did not ask for any policy change regarding the national anthem.

“We did not ask for it,” Goodell said. “We spent today talking about the issues players are trying to bring attention to: Issues in our communities, to make our communities better.”

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the NFL released a joint statement on Tuesday stressing that the “NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military” and stated they would work together on social issues.

READ MORE: ‘Worse week than Weinstein’: Veteran NFL broadcaster sorry for New York Giants’ form comment

The players and owners will meet again within the next two weeks to continue their discussion over the ongoing anthem protests in the NFL. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who had threatened to bench protesting players, was not among the 11 club owners who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

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Daughter of Putin's mentor, Russian It-girl Ksenia Sobchak, announces her presidential bid

By ethan / October 18, 2017

Russian jet setter, TV personality, glossy magazine editor and all-around It-girl-turned opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak, 35, has officially announced her decision to run for the presidency in the 2018 election.

Running as an independent, Sobchak generally has a love-hate relationship with the Russian audience. Having been on the country’s pop culture scene for many years, she has hosted one of the most popular reality TV shows, is a frequent guest at international VIP celebrity parties, has modeled for Playboy and is now editor-in-chief of L’Officiel Russia.

In a recent interview with Glamour Russia, Sobchak called being president “a top level art project,” adding that she thinks her career in showbiz would help in her political bid.

Sobchak also hosts an interview show on the Dozhd (Rain) TV channel, and in 2012 joined the opposition movement, having taken part in the Bolotnaya Square protests in central Moscow.

Ksenia’s late father, Anatoly Sobchak, was a famous Russian politician, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Vladimir Putin joined Sobchak’s team in 1990, and worked closely with the politician, who is widely considered to be his mentor.

I have always had respect for [Ksenia’s] father and regard him as an outstanding figure in the modern Russian history… He was an honorable man, and played a great role in my life,” Putin told Vedomosti newspaper in September, when rumors of Ksenia Sobchak’s possible run for the presidency started circulating.

However, Putin pointed out that “personal matters can play no significant role when running for presidency is this case,” saying that Sobchak’s potential political career “depends on the political program she offers.”

Every citizen in accordance with the law has the right to run as a candidate. Ksenia Sobchak is no exception,” he said.

In an open letter in Vedomosti announcing her bid on Wednesday, the new potential presidential candidate explained the motivations behind her decision and put forward some of her program.

Saying she intends to reform the education and judicial systems in particular, the newly announced candidate also hinted that she wants greater opportunities for women in Russia.

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Police officers block supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a rally in Moscow, Russia October 7, 2017. © Sergei Karpukhin

Almost 500 strenuous professions in Russia are officially closed for women. But even among the rest of careers women’s salaries are almost 30 percent lower than men’s. Only some 5 percent of the country’s most important companies are headed by women,” she claimed.

Elections, being the “base for real democracy,” should not be ignored, she wrote, saying she has decided to be the missing “against all candidates” option on the ballot paper.

Voting for her would be “a legal and peaceful opportunity to say ‘enough’,” Sobchak suggested. Those voters who are against the candidates who have already run for president, including Putin, should opt for her, she said.

I can talk with anyone [in Russia’s political elite], because I personally know the majority of the political establishment, and because I’m a journalist,” Sobchak said.

She also called for the Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Aleksey Navalny to be registered as a candidate in the elections, and offered him cooperation with her campaign.

Having previously commented on Sobchak’s possible decision to run for the presidency, Navalny said that despite his “good, friendly relations” with Ksenia, he thinks “highly negatively” of her enterprise. Her bid is an attempt to replace himself as an opposition candidate, Navalny claimed, having called Sobchak a “cartoonish liberal candidate.”

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© Dado Ruvic

Among other candidates who have announced their bids for the 2018 election are the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, founder of Russia’s Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky, and the head of Communists of Russia, Maksim Suraykin. President Putin has not officially voiced his plans for a re-election bid.

READ MORE: Putin to make November announcement of his participation in 2018 presidential race – report

The election campaign for the March 18 vote will be officially launched in December. To be registered, candidates need to either represent a political party, or – as in the case with Ksenia Sobchak – collect at least 300,000 signatures.

The latest Levada Center poll has shown that the majority of Russians, 71 percent, welcome women’s participation in politics. Some 60 percent would like to see women occupying top positions in the state along with men. However, only 34 percent said they would like a woman to become the president of Russia in the next 10-15 years.

Conducted in mid-September among 1,600 respondents across the country, the poll also found that such women as Russian Upper House chair Valentina Matviyenko, politician Irina Khakamada and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova could occupy the highest position in the country. The world’s first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, as well as Ksenia Sobchak, were also mentioned among potential Russian leaders.

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Thousands of govt docs found on laptop of sex offender married to top Clinton adviser

By ethan / October 18, 2017

The State Department admitted the FBI discovered nearly 3,000 government documents on a laptop belonging to the ex-husband of Hillary Clinton’s top adviser, Huma Abedin, conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch said.

The revelation was in response to a May 2015 lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the State Department after it failed to respond to a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) seeking all emails of official State Department business received or sent by Abedin between January 2009 and February 2013 “using a non-state.gov email address.”

“This is a disturbing development. Our experience with Abedin’s emails suggest these Weiner laptop documents will include classified and other sensitive materials,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement, naming Abedin’s ex-husband, Anthony Weiner.  

“When will the Justice Department do a serious investigation of Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s obvious violations of law?” the statement added.

The documents were discovered on Weiner’s laptop after devices were seized as part of an FBI investigation into an allegation that he had engaged in ‘sexting’ with a 15-year-old girl. The discovery of the State Department emails led then-FBI Director James Comey to reopen an investigation late in the 2016 US presidential election.  

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© Brian Snyder

In July 2016, Comey, exonerated Clinton following the probe into whether the former secretary of state’s private servers had been used to transmit or store classified information. Comey said he referred the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision.

The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Clinton’s use of a personal email service during her time as secretary of state.

Comey said from a group of 30,000 emails, 110 in 52 chains had been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.  Eight of those chains contained information that was ‘top secret’ at the time they were sent, 36 contained ‘secret’ information, and eight contained ‘confidential’ information.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,”wrote Comey.

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© Jonathan Ernst

After finding more documents on Weiner’s laptop, Comey alerted Congress that the agency had reopened its investigation. However, three days before the presidential election the FBI announced that it had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In August, Judicial Watch released 1,600-plus pages of emails the State Department had turned over under the group’s FOIA lawsuit. The documents included 91 email exchanges that were not previously handed over to the State Department, for a total of 530 emails that were not included in Clinton’s initial 55,000-page disclosure.

Judicial Watch said the State Department is processing 100,000 emails Clinton failed to disclose when she served as secretary of state, some of which were sent by Abedin and found on Weiner’s laptop. Clinton attempted to delete 33,000 emails from her non-government server. The State Department is currently checking about 500 pages per month, following a court order. Judicial Watch said at this rate the documents won’t be fully available until at least 2020.

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Man City coach dedicates Champions League win to jailed Catalan separatists

By ethan / October 18, 2017

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola dedicated his team’s UEFA Champions League win over Italy’s Napoli to two jailed Catalan independence activists.

The English Premier League club recorded a 2-1 home win against their Champions League Group F rivals on Tuesday, thanks to first-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.

Speaking in his native Catalan tongue to media from the region at the post-match press conference, City boss Guardiola dedicated the victory to Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, two Catalan independence leaders who were jailed earlier this week for their role in preparations for the recent independence referendum in the region.

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© Juan Medina

“This win is dedicated to them,” Guardiola said. “We have shown in Catalonia that citizenship is bigger than any ideas. We hope they will be released soon.”

Guardiola, 46, has been vocal in his support for the region’s independence, and in June addressed a thousands-strong  demonstration at which he spoke in support of breaking away from Spain.   

Leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Sanchez, and Cuixart, who heads the Omnium cultural association, were detained on the orders of Spain’s High Court on Monday.

They are alleged to have been the masterminds behind the controversial October 1 Catalan independence referendum, which was deemed illegal by Madrid and saw a huge police crackdown on voters.

The pair will remain in custody while the investigation into allegations of sedition continues.

During the game at City’s Etihad stadium, Napoli saw Dries Mertens’ penalty saved by City goalkeeper Ederson on 38 minutes, before reducing the deficit through a second-half spot kick from Amadou Diawara.

City weathered late Napoli pressure to claim the win, their 10th successive victory in all competitions, and now sit top of the group with three wins out of three.  

READ MORE: Spanish govt official in Catalonia apologizes for independence vote violence

Guardiola was manager of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, during which time he guided the club to a hat-trick of La Liga titles and a Champions League double.

READ MORE: Guardiola joins thousands at rally for Catalan independence (PHOTOS) 

The Madrid government has given Catalan President Carles Puigdemont until Thursday to clarify whether statements he made in the regional parliament last week amounted to a formal declaration of independence for the region. If that’s the case, Madrid is likely to strip Catalonia of its autonomy.  

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Trump battles Democrat lawmaker over content of condolence call to soldier’s widow

By ethan / October 18, 2017

Donald Trump has become embroiled in a war of words with a Florida congresswoman over an “insensitive” call the president made to the widow of David Johnson, a soldier who died at the hands of militants in Niger earlier this month.

Frederica Wilson, a Democrat Representative for Florida’s 24th district, was with Johnson’s family en route to the airport to receive his body when Trump made the contentious condolence call. According to Wilson, who heard the message on the speakerphone, the US President told Johnson’s partner, who is pregnant with his third child, that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Wilson said she was “livid” at Trump’s “insensitive” remarks, and told CNN that she tried to grab the phone to “curse him out” but was prevented from doing so by a military official.

Trump has issued two denials of the story, accusing Wilson of making up the story.

“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” the president tweeted Wednesday.

Wilson, 74, who has been in Congress since 2011, has refused to back down.

“Well, I don’t know what kind of proof he could be talking about. I’m not the only person that was in the car. And I have proof too,” she told CNN later Wednesday. “This man is a sick man. He’s cold-hearted and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone.”

In her original statement to CNN that ignited the controversy, Wilson said that she was paraphrasing the president, and she told ABC that she “didn’t hear the entire conversation” but insisted that his offhand manner, in which “he didn’t even remember” the fallen sergeant’s name “stood out in everyone’s heart.”

Her story appears to be backed by Cowanda Jones-Johnson, the mother of David Johnson.

He was one of about 800 troops engaged in a long-term anti-terrorist assistance mission in the African country. He was killed together with three other US servicemen in an ambush on October 4.

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Jones-Johnson told the Washington Post.

Later Wednesday, Trump was again forced to defend himself, when questioned by reporters during a press briefing in Washington.

“I didn’t say what that congresswoman said – didn’t say it all. She knows it. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who was — sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that,” said Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the media on Wednesday night that there was no recording of the call, but said that multiple individuals were present on Trump’s side of the line, including Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The controversy is secondary fall out from Trump’s own statement earlier this week, when he claimed that he personally called every fallen soldier’s family, and wrote them letters, in contrast with Barack Obama and other previous occupants of the White House.

Representatives of Trump’s predecessors have since said that they also wrote to and called the families of thousands servicemen killed in action.

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‘I agree with Putin, I can't disagree with our president!’ – Zenit manager on foreign players

By ethan / October 18, 2017

Roberto Mancini, manager of Russian football team Zenit St. Petersburg, has sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s criticism of the high number of foreign players in a recent European match.

At a Kremlin meeting earlier this month, Putin mocked Zenit president Sergey Fursenko when the latter spoke of football becoming a “truly Russian game,” reminding him that his team fielded only three Russians in a recent Europa League match with Real Sociedad.

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“Well done, Sergey! You’ve got eight foreigners running around the pitch for Zenit in the Europa League. And two Russian citizens; and the goalkeeper – that’s three. It’s very interesting what you’ve told us,” Putin retorted.

When asked about Putin’s comments in an interview for Zenit’s official website before his side’s Europa League match at home to Rosenberg, Mancini replied with a tongue-in-cheek answer.

“I agree, I cannot disagree with our president,” the 52-year-old Italian dryly replied.

Putin was present at the opening of Luzhniki Stadium to mark the event by beginning the official FIFA World Cup trophy tour around 24 Russian cities and 50 countries.

Russia’s president will also attend the final Russia 2018 World Cup draw held on December 1 at the Kremlin.

To celebrate Putin’s 65th birthday on October 7, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov held a football match in his honor that included Brazilian legend Ronaldinho and a team of Italian international legends.

READ MORE: Ronaldinho joins Kadyrov in Chechnya football match to honor Putin’s 65th birthday

Zenit go into the game with Rosenberg top of the Russian Premier League (RPL) but Mancini is still expecting a difficult match against Norway’s Rosenborg.

“Absolutely everyone is ready for the match. The only difference for us is that the Europa League rules are different and the matchday squad is smaller, so some will not be in the squad,” he said.

“They are a strong team, which regularly play in European tournaments. We are waiting for a very difficult game. Rosenborg will be well prepared physically, so we are not expecting an easy match. They have many players with experience in Europe.”

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Out in the cold? New UKIP leader Henry Bolton shuns right wing in party reshuffle

By ethan / October 18, 2017

The new leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has caused outrage among the right-wing units of the party, after he ignored the hardcore when choosing key positions.

In a move which could signal a shift in party politics, Henry Bolton has carved out a team which shuns the likes of Anne Marie Waters and David Kurten MEP, as he announced the line-up today.

Waters won 21 percent of the vote after she ran against Bolton in UKIP’s leadership contest, but her followers were called “Nazis and racists” as the new party chief revealed she would have no place in his inner circle.

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New UKIP leader Henry Bolton © Joel Goodman / Global Look Press

The Pegida UK co-founder and anti-Sharia law activist announced she would form her own party “For Britain” last month.

However, the biggest surprise for insiders on Wednesday was the freezing out of David Kurten MEP, who is vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

The Euroskeptic London Assembly Member was given no place in the ‘shadow cabinet,’ leading to accusations of backstabbing and betrayal.

Alan Craig, Kurten’s campaign manager, suggested Bolton was threatened by members of the LBGT in UKIP group, who claimed they would leave if Kurten was elected.

Craig said Kurten’s “conservative” views were becoming “wildly popular” within UKIP and Bolton would make a mistake to take the party from the right.

“It is never a good leadership to give in to blackmail, especially when – as in this case – it would involve breaking your word to do so and you are the recently-elected leader who necessarily has yet to establish yourself as the strong leader of integrity that is required,” he wrote in an open letter.

“Others who could not decide between you and David voted for you because your pledge meant that they would get ‘two for the price of one’ as someone said.”

UKIP insiders say Bolton has opted for a liberal approach, telling those closest to him he does not want to stick to “the left or the right” in a message which may lose the party’s core voter base.

Former adviser to Nigel Farage, Trixy Sanderson, said the list of appointments was “underwhelming.”

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© Frederick Florin

“Given that it has taken so long for these jobs to be allocated I would have hoped for some big names on that list.

“Interestingly, despite claiming he would use other leadership candidates they are glaring in their absence from senior roles, with those instead going to existing appointments or people who supported him for leader.”

The number of “spokesman” roles was also questioned as Bolton looks set to take on a new charm offensive with the public.

Just last month the party was mocked and accused of ripping off football’s Premier League lion for its new logo.

Others suggested there were “missed opportunities” with Bolton’s selection.

Ex-navy officer Ben Walker was left out, despite gaining significant support throughout the leadership race.

Former deputy leader of UKIP Peter Whittle is a notable right-wing figure among the new appointments, but has been given the role of London spokesman, while Margot Parker becomes deputy.

Others who have stayed away from the far-right message have been inserted in leading roles, including disability spokeswoman Star Anderton and MEP Jane Collins, who was given the home affairs role.

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