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US postal worker and vote ‘whistle-blower’ recants allegations | US & Canada

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The Trump campaign had seized on the Pennsylvania worker’s allegations, but he told investigators they were made up.

A worker with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Pennsylvania who went public with allegations of ballot tampering and signed an affidavit, has retracted his statement, according to the House Oversight Committee.

On November 6, Richard Hopkins told a right-wing activist website that he had witnessed his supervisor talking about backdating ballots and was later contacted by USPS investigators.

But the investigators informed committee staff on Tuesday evening that Hopkins had recanted his allegations and would not explain why he had signed the false affidavit.

President Donald Trump has been trying to challenge the outcome of last week’s election, which was declared for Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday, by claiming – without any evidence – there was widespread voting fraud.

The day after Hopkins went public, he created a GoFundMe page saying he was willing to testify under oath that ballots were being backdated and asked for donations because he said his employer was threatening his job.

“Your donations are going to help me in the case I am wrongfully terminated from my job or I am forced into resigning due to [sic] ostrizization by my coworkers,” the GoFundMe page stated.

“It will help me get a new start in a place I feel safe and help me with child support until I am able to get settled and get a job.”

As of Tuesday evening, Hopkins had raised $133,000, but hours after Al Jazeera reached out to him for comment the GoFundMe page was deleted and he did not respond

Postal vote surge

The Washington Post newspaper earlier reported that 32-year-old Hopkins had admitted to the USPS investigators that he had made up the allegations, citing three officials who had been briefed on the investigation.

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had seized on the postal worker’s testimony when he asked the Justice Department to investigate election fraud allegations, and Attorney General William Barr opened that investigation, the paper said.

Asked about Hopkins on a press call on Tuesday evening, the Trump campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh said, “He filed a very detailed affidavit, he named names, he described explicitly what it is that he experienced, and we don’t know what kind of pressure he has been under since he made those statements.”

Legal filings in Pennsylvania have referred to very few cases of suspected fraud. Voting is still continuing in states including Arizona and Georgia, which remain too close to call.

President Donald Trump and his campaign have filed numerous lawsuits in key swing states and asked courts to issue injunctions to stop the certification of the results.

Biden was named the winner of the election on Saturday after he took the key battleground state of Pennsylvania and has been congratulated on his victory by leaders around the world, as well as many Republicans.

The election took place as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated in the US, and millions of people opted to vote by post rather than in person because of concerns about the disease.



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Cyclone Eloise affected 250,000 people in Mozambique, says UN | Weather News

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Eloise brought winds of up to 150km/h followed by torrential rain over port city of Beira and adjacent Buzi district.

A tropical cyclone that struck central Mozambique last week has affected 250,000 people, a sharp increase over initial estimates, according to a UN official.

Myrta Kaulard, the UN’s resident coordinator in Mozambique, added on Tuesday that 18,000 people were internally displaced after Cyclone Eloise made landfall in the early hours of Saturday.

“Yesterday, we were mentioning 170,000 people affected. Today, the official figures have climbed to 250,000,” Kaulard said in a video call with reporters at the UN, adding that 76 health centres and hundreds of classrooms were damaged.

“We also see widespread floods that are still there and a lot of people trying still to get out of the flooded areas,” she said.

Eloise brought winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour (90 miles per hour) followed by torrential rain over the port city of Beira, the capital of Mozambique’s Sofala province, and the adjacent Buzi district.

It weakened into a tropical storm as it moved inland to Zimbabwe, South Africa, eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland and Botswana.

The death toll across the region rose to 14 on Tuesday after South Africa reported one more death.

In Mozambique, the cyclone hit an area already devastated by two successive super-storms in March and April 2019.

The first, Cyclone Idai, left more than 1,000 dead and caused damage estimated at about $2bn.

People queue for food at the accommodation centre in Tica after their villages were flooded due to the passage of Cyclone Eloise [Andre Catueira/EPA]

An international aid group warned on Tuesday that crowded centres for storm survivors created ideal conditions for the coronavirus to spread.

In the port city of Beira alone, 8,700 people are living in 16 temporary shelters after their homes were destroyed by the cyclone.

“Each tent I saw had at least 10 people packed into it and families are lacking access to safe water and essential items like soap and face masks,” said Marcia Penicela, project manager at ActionAid Mozambique following a visit to sites.

Espinola Caribe, head of the World Food Programme’s Beira sub-office, also said COVID-19 was a concern and people had to be moved out of danger.

“This was not a planned evacuation … this was running for your life,” he said.

Widespread flooding in the Buzi area of Mozambique after the landfall of Cyclone Eloise [Bruno Pedro/UNICEF/AFP]



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