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Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism triggers sanctions



WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Monday put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the United States to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Republican president, who has traded personal insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but has not ruled out talks, said the Treasury Department will announce additional sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday.

The designation came a week after Trump returned from a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia in which he made containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions a centrepiece of his discussions.

“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.”

“It should have happened a long time ago,” Trump said.

North Korea is pursuing nuclear weapons and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. It has fired two missiles over Japan and on Sept. 3 fired its sixth and largest nuclear test.

South Korea’s spy agency said on Monday the North may conduct additional missile tests this year to improve its long-range missile technology and ramp up the threat against the United States.

Experts say the designation will be largely symbolic, as North Korea is already heavily sanctioned by the United States.

The United States has designated only three other countries – Iran, Sudan and Syria – as state sponsors of terrorism.

Some experts think North Korea does not meet the criteria for the designation, which requires evidence that a state has “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

In his remarks, Trump remembered Otto Warmbier, the college student from Ohio who died in June shortly after his return from North Korea, where he was held for more than a year. His death caused outrage in the United States and further inflamed tensions with Pyongyang.

MOVE COULD BACKFIRE

A U.S. intelligence official who follows developments in North Korea expressed concern that the move could backfire, especially given that the basis for the designation is arguable.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kim could respond in a number of ways, including renewing missile or nuclear tests in “a very volatile environment.”

The move also could undercut Trump’s efforts to solicit greater Chinese cooperation in pressuring North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, the official said.

In any case, it will do little to open the way for U.S. dialogue with North Korea, which China, Pyongyang’s No. 1 ally, and others have been pushing for.

In February, plans for talks in the United States between former U.S. officials and North Korea were scrapped when the State Department denied a visa for a top envoy from Pyongyang after the murder of Kim’s half brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Malaysia.

The assassination also derailed “the first meaningful opportunity” for direct contacts between the two governments, a senior State Department official recently told Reuters.

North Korea was put on the U.S. terrorism sponsor list for the 1987 bombing of a Korean Air flight that killed all 115 people aboard. But the administration of former President George W. Bush, a Republican, removed Pyongyang in 2008 in exchange for progress in denuclearisation talks.

Some members of Congress had been pushing for years for North Korea to be put back on the list, but others questioned whether the reclusive regime met the criteria of actively sponsoring international terrorism.

U.S. Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called the decision “an important step in our efforts to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on Kim Jong Un.”

However, Democratic Senator Edward Markey said the designation “ratchets up the rhetoric” but does nothing to hold the North accountable for its weapons programme.

The designation could prove counterproductive, said Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at the conservative Center for the National Interest.

“Sadly, this action by the Trump administration just further cements a dangerous game of escalatory brinkmanship where neither side is giving the other any off-ramp,” he said.



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China draws three-stage path for Myanmar Bangladesh to resolve Rohingya crisis



NAYPYITAW: China called for a ceasefire in Myanmar’s Rakhine State so that Rohingya Muslim refugees can return from Bangladesh, proposing a three-stage approach to the crisis as diplomats from 51 mostly Asian and European countries gathered in Myanmar on Monday.

More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since late August, driven out by a military clearance operation in Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Amid a burgeoning humanitarian catastrophe, rights groups have accused the Myanmar military of atrocities, while foreign critics have blasted Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize winner who leads a civilian administration that is less than two years old, for failing to speak out more strongly.

On Monday, Suu Kyi opened an Asia-Europe Meeting for foreign ministers that had been scheduled in Myanmar before the outbreak of the crisis.

Speaking in the capital of Naypyitaw on Sunday, having arrived from Dhaka, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China believed Myanmar and Bangladesh could work out a mutually acceptable way to end the crisis.

“The first phase is to effect a ceasefire on the ground, to return to stability and order, so the people can enjoy peace and no longer be forced to flee,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement, citing Wang.

“With the hard work of all sides, at present, the first phase’s aim has already basically been achieved, and the key is to prevent a flare-up, especially that there is no rekindling the flames of war.”

During a meeting on Sunday, the ministry said, Wang told Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, “As a friend of both Myanmar and Bangladesh, China is willing to keep playing a constructive role for the appropriate handling of the Rakhine State issue.”

Visiting Myanmar last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made many of the same points, but he also called for a credible investigation into reports of atrocities.

REPATRIATION PROCESS

Once a ceasefire is seen to be working, Wang said talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh should find a workable solution for the return of refugees, and the final phase should be to work towards a long-term solution based on poverty alleviation.

Myanmar and Bangladesh officials began talks last month to settle a repatriation process for Rohingya refugees, which Bangladesh expects to take to the next level in coming days.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEM meeting, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, “We believe that stopping the violence, the flow of refugees and guaranteeing full humanitarian access to Rakhine state, and safe, sustainable repatriation of refugees are going to be key.”

Mogherini, who also visited Bangladesh over the weekend, said, “There’s a real possibility of Myanmar and Bangladesh reaching a memorandum of understanding and agreement for the safe repatriation of refugees to Myanmar.”

The European bloc was ready to help with the process, she added.

It was unclear, however, whether a safe return was possible, or advisable, for the thousands of Rohingya women and children still stranded on the beaches trying to flee hunger and instability in Rakhine.

Myanmar intends to resettle most refugees who return in new “model villages”, rather than on the land they previously occupied, an approach the United Nations has criticized in the past as effectively creating permanent camps.

Besides restoring peace for Rohingya to return, Myanmar also had to resolve the issue of their citizenship, having treated them as stateless for decades, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, told a news conference in Tokyo.

The UNHCR was ready to assist both countries with repatriation, he said, adding that it could help Myanmar with the citizenship verification of the Rohingya. Until now it has not been invited to participate in either.

“Much as resources are needed in Bangladesh to respond to the crisis, the solutions to this crisis lie in Myanmar,” Grandi said.

VIOLENCE LARGELY OVER

The crisis erupted after the military launched a brutal counter-insurgency operation against the militants after attacks on an army base and 30 police posts in Rakhine on Aug. 25.

Myanmar’s military has said that all fighting against the Rohingya militants died out on Sept.5.

The group behind those attacks, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), had declared a one-month ceasefire on Sept.10, which was rejected by the Myanmar government. But there have been no serious clashes since.

The United States and other Western countries have become more engaged with Myanmar since it began a transition to civilian government after nearly 50 years of military rule.

Myanmar’s generals retain autonomy over defence, internal security and border issues in the current power-sharing arrangement.

China, with close ties to both Myanmar and Bangladesh, has long been a key player in lawless borderlands where rebel ethnic groups have battled Myanmar’s government for decades in a conflict driving thousands of refugees to seek shelter in China.



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Small tsunamis detected after magnitude 7 undersea quake strikes near New Caledonia



SYDNEY: A powerful magnitude 7 undersea earthquake struck east of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands in the South Pacific on Monday, sending small tsunamis towards New Caledonia and neighbouring Vanuatu, where authorities ordered evacuations.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning for coastlines within 300 kms (186 mile) of the epicentre, saying wave heights would vary depending on coastlines and that the initial wave may not be the largest.

It said small tsunamis had been detected and forecast waves up one metre (three feet) above the high tide level to hit parts of New Caledonia and smaller waves for Vanuatu.

“We are a little bit scared, we have had an earthquake last night and today it was quite a big one,” said Wayan Rigault, communications manager at Hotel Nengone Village on the island of Mare, which is the closest landmass to the epicentre.

Rigault said there was no immediate damage, but guests were on alert for a formal evacuation warning.

Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office advised people in southern provinces to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground.

New Caledonia’s civil security agency said it was still compiling data, and was not planning to evacuate immediately.

Authorities in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii said there were no tsunami threats to the coastlines of those countries.

Monday’s quake, initially reported as magnitude 7.3, struck at a shallow depth of 10 km (six miles) about 82 kms (51 miles) east of New Caledonia, and was the second major tremor in the same area in just over 12 hours and the third in the past month.



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MMA Ben Askren has no intention of giving up welterweight world title



BEN ‘Funky’ Askren isn’t just the reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion, but he is also universally recognized as one of the best welterweights in the entire world.

Askren is highly regarded for his outstanding wrestling background that earned him two NCAA Division I national championship trophies and the privilege to represent the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Growing up in the Midwestern United States, a region traditionally known as a hotbed for amateur wrestling, Askren was motivated by the spirit of competition and wanted to participate in a sport where he could be the master of his own fate.

Askren had long planned switch to mixed martial arts and conquer that sport once he hung up his wrestling boots.

Following his 2008 Olympic campaign, Askren made the transition and has flawlessly translated his exemplary grappling skills into his growing skillset.

In his eight-year run as a professional martial artist, Askren holds an immaculate standing of 17-0, 1 No Contest, owning five submission victories and five knockout triumphs.

The 33-year-old American will step into the cage for the very last time on Friday, 24 November as he defends his coveted title against former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki in the main event of ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT, which takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

Coming off masterful performance against talented challengers such as Agilan Thani and Zebaztian Kadestam in 2017, Askren looks to cap off a momentous year and an illustrious career with one last title defense versus a tough opponent like Aoki.

“Shinya is a really good final opponent. Obviously, he is a legend of the sport, and he is a really big challenge on the ground, which is where I like to compete, personally. I am excited for this bout,” he said about his marquee match-up with Aoki.

Askren revealed that he did not think a match with Aoki was an option, considering the 34-year-old Tokyo, Japan native is an Evolve MMA teammate.

However, Askren admitted that the more he thought about it, the more he loved the idea of sharing a martial arts platform with Aoki.

“He is a grappler and has a great skill set that I respect, so I think it will be a great battle,” Askren quipped.

Known by his cage moniker “Tobikan Judan” or “The Grandmaster of Flying Submissions” due to his spectacular submission victories, Aoki is widely regarded as the most dominant lightweight in Asia for the better part of the last decade as he has had 47 professional bouts and strutted his wares in various promotions.

In addition, Aoki proudly owns black belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and has won an astonishing 25 of his 39 matches via submission.

Even with Aoki’s accomplishments and his dynamic grappling pedigree, which vastly contrasts from the American’s approach in the cage, Askren guaranteed that he will continue to employ his signature game plan of wrestling his opponent to the ground and using an impeccable top game to finish off his opposition.

“I said from day one that I am the best in the world at what I do, and this is what I am going to do every single time. I have been saying that since I started in 2009, and I believe it more strongly than ever because I have proved it 17 times now, and I am pumped to prove it again,” he stated.

Askren maintained that he has no intentions of giving up his gold-plated strap to Aoki as he collides with the Japanese submission wizard at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT.

“He’s going to stick around until I put him out,” the undefeated ONE Welterweight World Champion declared with confidence.



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Dua didakwa ingkar perundangan komunikasi dan multimedia



TAIPING: Dua orang lelaki dihadapkan ke Mahkamah Sesyen Jenayah Taiping baru-baru ini atas pelbagai kesalahan yang dilakukan membabitkan pelanggaran terhadap perundangan komunikasi dan multimedia negara.

Dalam kes pertama, tertuduh, Norimran Kusairie Ibrahim, 39 tahun, didakwa di bawah seksyen 233(1)(a) Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 kerana kesalahan menghantar komunikasi yang bersifat mengancam dengan tujuan untuk mengugut seorang wanita yang bekerja sebagai operator kilang.

Kesalahan tersebut dilakukan pada 13 Mei 2016 yang lalu di Kuala Kurau, Perak.

Tertuduh mengaku bersalah selepas pertuduhan dibacakan dan memohon agar dikenakan hukuman ringan ke atas beliau.

Hakim Mahkamah Sesyen Rohaida Ishak dalam penghakimannya menjatuhkan hukuman denda sebanyak RM18,000 dan sekiranya bayaran itu gagal dilangsaikan, tertuduh boleh dikenakan penjara selama enam bulan.

Sementara itu, dalam kes kedua pula, seorang nelayan turut didakwa di mahkamah yang sama atas tuduhan menggunakan peralatan komunikasi yang tidak diperakui sebagaimana yang dikehendaki oleh Peraturan-Peraturan Komunikasi dan Multimedia (Standard Teknik) 2000.

Khoo Teng Chooi, 56, didakwa di bawah Peraturan 16(1)(b) Peraturan-Peraturan Komunikasi dan Multimedia (Standard Teknik) 2000 yang dibaca bersama Peraturan 16(3) dan boleh dihukum di bawah Peraturan 37 Peraturan-Peraturan yang sama.

Mahkamah menjatuhkan hukuman denda RM4,000 dan sekiranya gagal bayar boleh dikenakan dua bulan penjara.



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Bangladesh says its in talks with Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation deal



DHAKA: Bangladesh is in negotiations with Myanmar aimed at a deal to repatriate displaced Rohingya and Dhaka’s foreign minister will address the matter at talks in Myanmar this week, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry said on Sunday.

More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since late August, driven out by a military clearance operation in Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The Rohingyas’ suffering has caused an international outcry.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar are in the process of negotiation for a bilateral agreement for repatriation of displaced people and expect to form a Joint Working Group to facilitate the repatriation,” said a ministry statement, quoting remarks by Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali at a meeting with his Japanese counterpart in Dhaka on Sunday.

A senior aide to Ali said he would leave for Myanmar late on Sunday to attend an Asia-Europe (ASEM) meeting on Monday and Tuesday and would stay on another couple of days for bilateral talks on the Rohingya.

The official said Ali hoped for an agreement on allowing Rohingya to return to Myanmar. “Both countries have almost reached an understanding on this issue and there are a few points (still) to be agreed … We hope to reach an agreement.”

There was no immediate comment from Myanmar. On Nov. 1, Myanmar insisted it was ready to set up a repatriation process but voiced fears Bangladesh was delaying an accord to first get international aid money. A senior Bangladesh home ministry official described the accusation as outrageous.

ALLEGATIONS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING

Stung by international criticism and accusations of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has said Rohingyas who can prove they were resident in Myanmar would be accepted back.

Last week a United Nations General Assembly committee called on Myanmar to end military operations that have “led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights” of Rohingya.

The move revived a U.N. resolution that was dropped last year due to Myanmar’s progress on human rights.

However, in the past three months there has been a Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh after the Myanmar military began an operation against Rohingya militants who attacked 30 security posts and an army base in Rakhine on Aug. 25.

Myanmar’s army released a report on Monday denying all allegations of rapes and killings by security forces, days after replacing the general in charge of the military operation.

Top U.N. officials have denounced the violence as a classic example of ethnic cleansing. The Myanmar government has denied these allegations.

Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, where many Buddhists see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

A U.S. congressional delegation, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of Germany, Sweden and Japan visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar at the weekend to raise awareness of their plight.

“We support Bangladesh’s efforts towards a lasting solution, including the repatriation of displaced persons,” Japan’s Taro Kona told Ali at their meeting, where Tokyo pledged $18.6 million in aid to ease the Rohingya crisis.

Mogherini told reporters: “More than putting pressure, our approach has always been and will continue to be to offer a negotiating space, encourage the taking care of a situation that is not going to disappear.”



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Official photo released to mark 70th wedding anniversary of Britains queen



LONDON: Buckingham Palace issued a new photographic portrait of Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip on Saturday to mark their upcoming 70th wedding anniversary.

The couple married at London’s Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947, just two years after the end of World War Two, in a lavish ceremony attended by statesmen and royalty from around the world.

The portrait, taken earlier this month, showed the queen wearing the same dress which she chose for a service of thanksgiving to mark their diamond wedding anniversary held at the Abbey where they were married.

She is also wearing a “Scarab” brooch in yellow gold, carved ruby and diamond which Philip gave her in 1966.

Elizabeth has been married for far longer than any other royal, and the newly-released picture showed the couple framed by Thomas Gainsborough’s 1781 portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, who were married for 57 years – the second longest royal marriage.



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Lebanons Hariri to visit Egypt on Monday – leader in Future Movement



BEIRUT: Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanese prime minister from Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4, will visit Egypt on Monday, a leader in Hariri’s Future Movement said.

Hariri has since Saturday been in Paris, where he met French President Emmanuel Macron, and has said he will return to Lebanon by Wednesday for its Independence Day celebrations.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until it is delivered in person and all sides in Beirut have called for his speedy return.

The resignation sparked a political crisis in Lebanon and put it on the front line of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hariri criticised Iran and its ally Hezbollah, a heavily armed grouping that is part of the Lebanese government, in his resignation statement, and said he feared assassination. Apart from a brief trip to Abu Dhabi, he remained in Saudi Arabia until he flew to France.

His stay in the kingdom led to accusations from Lebanese officials and politicians that Saudi Arabia had coerced him to resign, which he and Riyadh denied.

On Friday, Hariri tweeted that his presence there was for “consultations on the future of the situation in Lebanon and its relations with the surrounding Arab region”.

On Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo, requested by Saudi Arabia, to discuss ways to confront Iran and Hezbollah over their role in the region. Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not attend.



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German parties at impasse as deadline passes with no deal



BERLIN: Germany’s would-be coalition partners appeared to have reached an impasse over immigration policy as a self-imposed Sunday evening deadline for agreeing the outlines of a government programme passed with no deal.

A deadline of 1700 GMT passed with no announcement being made, suggesting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens had been unable to agree the painful compromises needed to wrap up talks, which appear set to continue.

The reluctant partners were forced to pursue the three-way tie-up, untested at national level, by voters who deserted the main parties of left and right in a September election, returning a highly fragmented parliament.

Failure could precipitate Germany’s worst political crisis in decades, since the Social Democrats (SPD) have already said they intend to go into opposition after coming second. Options include new elections or a minority government, unprecedented in the country’s post-war history.

“Everyone has to take a success back home,” said Julia Kloeckner, deputy chair of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), highlighting the difficulty of compromise. “People must ask themselves if they are prepared for this to fail over details.”

The tie-up represents Merkel’s only realistic chance of securing a fourth term. But the FDP, freshly returned to parliament after four years in the wilderness, and the Greens, out of power for 12 years, are reluctant to put their hard-won return at risk by alienating their rank-and-file.

“The FDP is now waiting for the Greens and the conservatives to see how far they are prepared to go and if we can then look each other in the eye,” said Greens chairwoman Nicola Beer, suggesting it was now for the others to make concessions.

‘WE WILL FIGHT’

For Merkel’s own arch-conservative allies in Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), the stakes are existential. The CSU fears that a failure to secure an immigration cap could fuel a far-right surge in a regional election next year, perhaps even unseating the CSU after 60 years in power.

While the FDP continues to demand tax cuts, the trickiest sticking point concerns immigration, where the CSU insists on capping new arrivals at 200,000 a year.

The cap is opposed by the Greens, who also want to preserve a rule allowing successful asylum seekers to bring family members to join them – though the CDU’s Kloeckner implored the Greens to acknowledge this as only a “subsidiary right”.

Failure to reach a deal could lead to a new election, something all the parties are anxious to avoid as they fear this could lead to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) making further gains after surging into parliament in September.

“To us it is about humanity. It is about making family reunions possible,” top Greens negotiator Michael Kellner told public broadcaster ZDF. “And we will fight for those issues.”



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The Partridge Family star and singer David Cassidy hospitalised



LOS ANGELES: Singer and actor David Cassidy, a 1970s teen heartthrob who starred in “The Partridge Family” television show, entered a hospital this week for treatment of liver failure, his spokeswoman said on Saturday.

Cassidy’s family was with him, and the 67-year-old hoped to receive a liver transplant, his publicist Jo-Ann Geffen said.

In “The Partridge Family,” Cassidy played a young man named Keith whose widowed mother formed a touring pop band with her children, including himself. Cassidy’s character sang lead.

The sitcom ran from 1970 to 1974 and produced a number of hit songs in real life, including “I Think I Love You,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart in November 1970.

In the show, Cassidy’s stepmother, Shirley Jones, played his fictional mother, Shirley Partridge. Cassidy’s own parents, Evelyn Ward and Jack Cassidy, were both actors.

On his own, Cassidy released several successful albums, beginning with his debut, “Cherish,” in 1972, and drew huge crowds at concerts. His fan club in the 1970s was one of the largest of its kind.

Cassidy kept touring and recording after his role as Keith Partridge ended in 1974, performing on Broadway in New York, in London’s West End and in Las Vegas.

After checking into a hospital earlier this week, Cassidy went into a medically induced coma, but he has since regained consciousness, Geffen said by phone.

The singer and actor, a Florida resident, was diagnosed with early-stage dementia about two years ago, Geffen said.

Cassidy, in an appearance on the talk show “Dr. Phil” earlier this year, opened up about the diagnosis, saying his mother and grandfather also both suffered from dementia.

“When friends of yours or family members begin to say to you, ‘Remember, I just told you this two days ago?’ and there’s no memory of it… That’s when I began to be very concerned,” Cassidy said on the program.



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