being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.

In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.

county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.

“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”

Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.

Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.

In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.

Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.

The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.

The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.

Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.

They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.

“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”

As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.

Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.

“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.

“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”

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Seoul Crowd Crush: As Nation Mourns, a Focus on How a Festive Night Turned Deadly

Condolences poured in from world leaders, diplomats and prominent South Koreans overseas in the aftermath of the deadly crowd surge in Seoul.

President Joe Biden expressed condolences to the families of victims and best wishes for a quick recovery to the injured.

“We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea,” he wrote in a statement. “The alliance between our two countries has never been more vibrant or more vital — and the ties between our people are stronger than ever.”

Britain’s new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, wrote on Twitter: “All our thoughts are with those currently responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time.”

The Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, also weighed in on Twitter. “I am deeply shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of many precious lives, including young people with a promising future,” he wrote.

“The tragic events in Seoul come as a shock to all of us,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany wrote. “Our thoughts are with the numerous victims and their families. This is a sad day for South Korea. Germany stands by their side.”

President Emmanuel Macron of France extended condolences in both French and Korean. “France is with you,” he wrote on Twitter.

Xi Jinping, China’s leader, conveyed condolences to victims and their families to the South Korean president, a Chinese state broadcaster reported. He expressed hopes that the South Korean authorities would make every effort to treat and rehabilitate the Chinese victims of the accident, according to the report.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on its Telegram channel that President Vladimir V. Putin had sent condolences to South Korea’s president. His message read in part, “Please convey my sincere condolences and words of support to the families and friends of the victims and my wishes for an early recovery to those who were injured,” the ministry said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine wrote on Twitter, “We share your pain and sincerely wish a speedy recovery to all the victims.”

And Pope Francis tweeted asking for prayers for the victims.

Diplomats

The American flag was lowered to half-staff at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on Sunday, in what Ambassador Philip Goldberg called a gesture of “sorrow and respect.”

“Please know my thoughts, and those of our team at U.S. Embassy Seoul, are with the Korean people and especially the loved ones of those who perished, as well as the many injured in this catastrophic incident,’” he wrote on Twitter.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, wrote that he was deeply saddened. “What meant to be a celebration turned into a tragedy with so many young casualties,” he said in a tweet. “We are with the people of the Republic of Korea at this difficult moment.”

Catherine Raper, the Australian ambassador to South Korea, asked all Australians in Seoul to check in with their family and friends while the embassy was making “urgent enquiries” to find out whether any Australians were among the victims. She extended deepest condolences to all those affected by the accident.

Park Jin, Seoul’s foreign minister, wrote that the government was putting all its efforts toward supporting the bereaved and injured, including foreign citizens. “Your thoughts and support are of great comfort to the Korean people in this moment of heartbreaking grief,” he said on Twitter.

South Koreans Abroad

Son Heung-min, a South Korean soccer star who is a forward with the British club Tottenham Hotspur, expressed sorrow, too.

“All my thoughts are with you all back home in Korea. I am heartbroken to be reading this news,” he wrote on Instagram after winning a match on Saturday. “I want you to all know I am thinking of you and sending all of my strength from here.”

Claire Fu contributed reporting.

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More Than 100 Killed as Halloween Crowd Surge Turns Deadly in South Korea

Choe Sang-Hun

Credit…Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SEOUL — At least 120 people were killed and another 100 injured after they were crushed in a large Halloween crowd in Seoul on Saturday night, the city’s fire department said. The crowd surge happened during one of the most raucous celebrations of the year in the South Korean capital.

Of those who were confirmed dead, 46 were in the hospital, the fire department said, with the rest taken to a nearby gymnasium.

President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered his government to dispatch urgent help and medical assistance to the scene — in the popular Itaewon nightlife district at the city center — after he was informed of “multiple casualties,” his office said in a statement.

Seoul’s mayor, Oh Se-hoon, who was visiting the Netherlands, was returning to South Korea, his office said.

Photos published by domestic media showed citizens, police officers and emergency medical workers performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on people sprawled on the pavement. Live footage on MBC-TV, a local broadcaster, showed firefighters carrying what looked like bodies covered with white sheets on stretchers to ambulances.

Local media said the narrow alleys of Itaewon were jam-packed with as many as 100,000 people for the Halloween festivities on Saturday evening. Earlier in the day, large protests had blocked city traffic in the area.

A witness said the stampede happened when a crowd surged down a narrow alleyway.

“People kept pushing down and more people were crushed down​,” the witness wrote on Twitter. “People crushed under the crowd were crying and I thought I would ​be crushed to death too, breathing through a hole and crying for help.”

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Twitter, Once a Threat to Titans, Now Belongs to One

But by the early 2010s, it had grown into a global water cooler where millions of people went to make sense of the world around them. Its rapid-fire, 140-character bursts made it a valuable tool for those wanting to steer a conversation, attract attention to a cause or simply peer into the kaleidoscope of human thought.

On any given day, Twitter was the place to: talk about the news, complain about airline food, flirt with strangers, announce an earthquake, yell at your senator, cheer for your sports teams, post nudes, make dumb jokes, ruin your own reputation, ruin somebody else’s reputation, document police brutality, argue about anime, fall for a cryptocurrency scam, start a music career, procrastinate, follow the stock market, issue a public apology, share scientific papers, discuss “Game of Thrones,” find skillet chicken recipes.

And while it was never the biggest social media platform, or the most profitable, Twitter did seem to level the playing field in a way other apps didn’t.

But as Twitter and other social networks grew, powerful people found that these apps could help them extend their power in new ways. Authoritarians discovered they could use them to crack down on dissent. Extremists learned they could stir up hateful mobs to drive women and people of color offline. Celebrities and influencers realized that the crazier you acted, the more attention you got, and dialed up their behavior accordingly. A foundational belief of social media’s pioneers — that simply giving people the tools to express themselves would create a fairer and more connected society — began to look hopelessly naïve.

And when Donald J. Trump rode a wave of retweets to the White House in 2016, and used his Twitter account as president to spread conspiracy theories, wage culture wars, undermine public health and threaten nuclear war, the idea that the app was a gift to the downtrodden became even harder to argue.

Since 2016, Twitter has tried to clean up its mess, putting into effect new rules on misinformation and hate speech and barring some high-profile trolls. Those changes made the platform safer and less chaotic, but they also alienated users who were uncomfortable with how powerful Twitter itself had become.

These users chafed at the company’s content moderation decisions, like the one made to permanently suspend Mr. Trump’s account after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. They accused the platform’s leaders of bowing to a censorious mob. And some users grew nostalgic for the messier, more freewheeling Twitter they’d loved.

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AHF Condemns ‘LA’s Housing Standstill’ in Latest L.A. Times Ad

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AHF and its housing advocacy division, Housing Is A Human Right (HHR), will run the latest in a series of housing advocacy ads, this time targeting both the City of Los Angeles and the entrenched bureaucracy at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) in a full-page, full-color ad set to run this Sunday, October 30th in the Los Angeles Times. The ad headlined “LA’s Housing Standstill,” condemns all the players holding up creation of affordable housing, stating that “It is virtually impossible to get anything built in Los Angeles in less than five years.”

After launching its Healthy Housing Foundation (HHF) in 2017 to help alleviate the twin homelessness and housing affordability crises in Los Angeles, AHF quickly learned that working within the city’s existing framework and bureaucracies—like the DWP—to produce low-income housing in Los Angeles is disastrous for people seeking to create affordable housing—even more so for those individuals who need it.

AHF’s ad continues:

“The city claims homelessness is an emergency, but it sure doesn’t act like it.

Whether it’s DWP bringing in power or getting plans approved-nobody’s in a hurry.

But if we are to tackle homelessness, we need urgency.”

AHF summed up its cri de couer for far greater urgency by all city departments, including DWP, noting:

“1,500 people die on the streets every year.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.6 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

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Elon Musk Takes Twitter, and Tech Deals, to Another Level

Forget about the endless drama, the bots, the abrupt reversals, the spectacle, the alleged risk to the Republic and all we hold dear. Here is the most important thing about Elon Musk’s buying Twitter: The moguls have been unleashed.

In the old days, when a tech tycoon wanted to buy something big, he needed a company to do it. Steve Case used AOL to buy Time Warner. Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods for Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook to buy Instagram and WhatsApp and Oculus and on and on. These were corporate deals done for the bottom line, even if they might never have happened without a famous and forceful proprietor.

Mr. Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, which finally became a reality on Thursday, six months after he agreed to the deal, is different. It is an individual buying something for himself that 240 million people around the world use regularly. While he has other investors, Mr. Musk will have absolute control over the fate of the short-message social media platform.

It’s a difficult deal to evaluate even in an industry built on deals, because this one is so unusual. It came about whimsically, impulsively. But, even by the standards of Silicon Valley, where billions are casually offered for fledging operations — and even by the wallet of Mr. Musk, on most days the richest man in the world — $44 billion is quite a chunk of change.

the midterm elections’ most prominent campaign contributor, pumping tens of millions of dollars into right-wing congressional candidates. Two of his former employees are the Republican nominees for senator in Ohio and Arizona.

Richard Walker, a professor emeritus of economic geography at the University of California, Berkeley and a historian of Silicon Valley, sees a shift in the locus of power.

“In this new Gilded Age, we’re being battered by billionaires rather than the corporations that were the face of the 20th century,” he said. “And the tech titans are leading the way.”

bought The Washington Post for $250 million. Marc Benioff of Salesforce owns Time magazine. Pierre Omidyar of eBay developed a homegrown media empire.

Deals have been a feature of Silicon Valley as long as there has been a Silicon Valley. Often they fail, especially when the acquisition was made for technology that either quickly grew outdated or never really worked at all. At least one venerable company, Hewlett-Packard, followed that strategy and has practically faded away.

$70 billion-plus acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which is pending, has garnered a fraction of the attention despite being No. 2.

said in April after sealing the deal. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”

He cared a little more when the subsequent plunge in the stock market meant that he was overpaying by a significant amount. Analysts estimated that Twitter was worth not $44 billion but $30 billion, or maybe even less. For a few months, Mr. Musk tried to get out of the deal.

This had the paradoxical effect of bringing the transaction down to earth for spectators. Who among us has not failed to do due diligence on a new venture — a job, a house, even a relationship — and then realized that it was going to cost so much more than we had thought? Mr. Musk’s buying Twitter, and then his refusal to buy Twitter, and then his being forced to buy Twitter after all — and everything playing out on Twitter — was weirdly relatable.

Inescapable, too. The apex, or perhaps the nadir, came this month when Mr. Musk introduced a perfume called Burnt Hair, described on its website as “the Essence of Repugnant Desire.”

“Please buy my perfume, so I can buy Twitter,” Mr. Musk tweeted on Oct. 12, garnering nearly 600,000 likes. This worked, apparently; the perfume is now marked “sold out” on its site. Did 30,000 people really pay $100 each for a bottle? Will this perfume actually be produced and sold? (It’s not supposed to be released until next year.) It’s hard to tell where the joke stops, which is perhaps the point.

Evan Spiegel.

“What was unique about Twitter was that no one actually controlled it,” said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed Partners. “And now one person will own it in its entirety.”

He is relatively hopeful, however, that Mr. Musk will improve the site, somehow. That, in turn, will have its own consequences.

“If it turns into a massive home run,” Mr. Greenfield said, “you’ll see other billionaires try to do the same thing.”

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Putin Denies Russia Intends to Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine

Credit…Sputnik/Sergei Karpukhin via Reuters

President Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday denied that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, despite frequent hints in the past that it could do so, and he tried to appeal to conservatives in the United States and Europe with accusations that Western elites were trying to impose their “strange” values on the rest of the world.

The nearly four-hour speech and question-and-answer session, with reference to “dozens of genders,” “gay parades’’ and “neoliberal elites,’’ relied on arguments used to animate the culture wars in the United States and Europe, an apparent effort to sway global public opinion in favor of Russia at a time when his army is losing ground in Ukraine.

“In the United States there’s a very strong part of the public who maintain traditional values, and they’re with us,” Mr. Putin said. “We know about this.”

Mr. Putin claimed it was the West that was escalating nuclear tensions surrounding Ukraine.

“We have no need to do this,” Mr. Putin said of the potential Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine in his strongest denial to date of any such plans. “There’s no sense in it for us, neither political nor military.”

His comments, at an annual foreign policy conference in Moscow, are unlikely to reassure Ukraine or Western nations. He and other senior officials have repeatedly suggested that Russia might resort to nuclear weaponry. And the Kremlin’s assurances in the past have often proved untrustworthy; top officials issued multiple denials in the days before the war that Russia intended to invade Ukraine.

“This is a trick — it shouldn’t make anyone relax,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst, said, noting that Mr. Putin has blamed every escalation in the war, including the invasion itself, on the West and its support for an independent Ukraine. “His goal is to show that escalation is the product of Western policies.”

In a speech and a lengthy subsequent question-and-answer session Thursday at an annual foreign policy conference in Moscow at the Valdai Discussion Club, a research institute close to the Kremlin, Mr. Putin coupled his denial of any nuclear plans in Ukraine with a bid for global support — including from conservative-minded people in the West who, he insisted, back Mr. Putin’s campaign to preserve “traditional values.”

“In the United States there’s a very strong part of the public who maintain traditional values, and they’re with us,” Mr. Putin said. “We know about this.”

Lawmakers in Russia’s lower house of Parliament backed legislation on Thursday that would ban the “propaganda” of homosexuality in all aspects of public life, expanding a directive that currently only applies to media directed at children.

Mr. Putin insisted that Russia did not fundamentally see itself as an “enemy of the West.” Rather, he said — as he has before — that it was “Western elites” that he was fighting, ones who were trying to impose their “pretty strange” values on everyone else.

In a question-and-answer session after the speech, the event’s moderator, the foreign policy analyst Fyodor Lukyanov, pressed Mr. Putin on the fact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not appear to have gone according to plan. And he said that there was a widespread view that Russia had “underestimated the enemy.”

“Honestly, society doesn’t understand — what’s the plan?” Mr. Lukyanov asked.

Mr. Putin brushed aside the implicit criticism, arguing that Ukraine’s fierce resistance showed why he was right to launch the invasion. The longer Russia had waited, he said, “the worse it would have been for us, the more difficult and more dangerous.”

Mr. Putin repeated Russia’s unfounded claims that Ukraine was preparing to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” on its territory and blame Moscow. Ukraine and the West say that the claims are disinformation that could be used as a pretext by the Kremlin to use a nuclear weapon.

In Ukraine, officials ridiculed Mr. Putin’s speech. Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, said the Russian president was accusing the West of what he has been doing himself, like violating another country’s sovereignty.

“Any speech by Putin can be described in two words: ‘for Freud,’” Mr. Podolyak posted on Twitter.

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Elon Musk Seems to Answer to No One. Except for a Judge in Delaware.

Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick has become a very important person in the rambunctious life of Elon Musk.

The Delaware Chancery Court judge has given Mr. Musk until Friday to close his long-promised, $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. If he doesn’t, Judge McCormick will preside over a trial in November that could end with Mr. Musk being forced to make good on the deal he made with Twitter in April.

The 43-year-old judge is also expected to preside over another case involving Mr. Musk in November. A Tesla shareholder accused him in a lawsuit of unjustly enriching himself with his compensation package while running the electric vehicle company, which is Mr. Musk’s main source of wealth. The package, which consisted entirely of a stock grant, is now worth around $50 billion based on Tesla’s share price.

Judge McCormick is also overseeing three other shareholder lawsuits against Mr. Musk, though it is not yet clear whether those will go to trial, too.

before it represented Mr. Musk. But, he said, “the deal will either close and then she will be a hero. Or not and Musk will look really bad.”

As a young girl, Judge McCormick played first base on the softball team and managed the high school football team. She has a long-held soft spot for the book “To Kill a Mockingbird,” about a Black man in small-town Alabama who was wrongfully accused of sexual assault.

unsolicited bid worth more than $40 billion for the social network, saying he wanted to make Twitter a private company and allow people to speak more freely on the service.

She then worked as a staff attorney with the Community Legal Aid Society, where she represented the needy and victims of domestic violence. She moved to a corporate law role at the firm Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor in 2007, a mainstay in the Delaware legal circuit.

In 2018, she was nominated by John Carney, the governor of Delaware, to serve as vice chancellor on the state’s high court, the Delaware Chancery Court. In 2021, Gov. Carney nominated Ms. McCormick to become the first woman to lead the court.

More than 1.8 million businesses are incorporated in Delaware, including more than two thirds of Fortune 500 companies — and they all look to the court for guidance. When Twitter filed its lawsuit against Mr. Musk in July forcing him to close his acquisition, its case went to Delaware, where the company, like many others, is incorporated.

Judge McCormick, who has first dibs on any proceeding that comes before the court, chose herself of among a court of seven judges to oversee one of the most high profile corporate court battles in years.

At a hearing in September, as lawyers for Mr. Musk argued to delay the trial to take into account new claims from a whistle-blower, she poked at the billionaire’s decision to skip due diligence in his race to sign the deal in April. When Mr. Musk’s lawyer argued it would have been impossible to find out about the whistle-blower before the deal, she interjected, “We’ll never know, will we?” She added that “there was no due diligence.”

wrote in a ruling.

“She evidently was not putting up with any nonsense,” said Lawrence Hamermesh, a professor of law at Delaware Law School.

In October, after weeks of presiding over bruising back and forth arguments between the two sides, Judge McCormick granted Mr. Musk’s requests to put the trial on hold to give him more time to complete his financing for the acquisition. Judge McCormick granted him until Oct. 28 — a three-week delay.

“She had one eye on the clock,” said Brian Quinn, a professor at Boston College Law School, noting the two sides did not seem ready for a trial just two weeks away. “Another eye,” Mr. Quinn said, was “on potential appeals. She is looking forward saying, ‘Well, what if I ruled against Musk, and he appealed, and his appeal is that I pushed him — I rushed him toward the trial when he wanted to close the deal.’”

Judge McCormick is well-versed in trials involving deals with buyers that tried to walk away. As an associate at the law firm Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor, she worked on cases involving deals that went awry when the stock market crashed in 2008. That included representing the chemical company Huntsman in 2008 when the private equity firm Apollo Global Management scuttled the deal it had struck to combine the chemical company with another it owned.

That deal, and others like it, paved the way for the kinds of contracts Twitter signed with Mr. Musk. Sellers learned how to prevent buyers from trying similar escape hatches. Companies increasingly structure deals with “specific performance” clauses allowing them to force a deal to close.

to follow through with its acquisition of a cake supplier after it argued that the pandemic had materially damaged the business by curbing demand for party cake.

Kohlberg contended it could not complete the deal because its debt financing had fallen apart. Judge McCormick did not buy that argument.

If Mr. Musk does not come through with Twitter’s money by Friday, that could ding his credibility in court, legal experts say. That could matter in November, when Judge McCormick is set to preside over a separate trial involving Mr. Musk and his compensation.

The case, filed in 2018, had originally been assigned to another judge on the Delaware Chancery Court, Joseph R. Slights III, before he retired in January. Judge McCormick picked up the case on Jan. 12, the same month Mr. Musk began to buy up shares of Twitter stock that ultimately led to his planned purchase of the company.

“It’s not ideal for him,” said Ann Lipton, a professor of corporate governance at Tulane Law School, of Mr. Musk’s multiple run-ins with Judge McCormick. “She’s uniquely low drama, which is the opposite of Musk. ”

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Adidas ends Ye deal over hate speech, costing rapper his billionaire status

  • Adidas ends partnership immediately
  • To take about $250 mln hit to 2022 net income
  • Gap, Balenciaga have also cut ties with Ye

Oct 25 (Reuters) – Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE) terminated its partnership with rapper and fashion designer Ye on Tuesday after he made a series of antisemitic remarks, a move that knocked the musician off the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.

Adidas put the tie-up, which has produced several hot-selling Yeezy branded sneakers, under review this month.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the German company said on Tuesday.

“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” it said.

Forbes magazine said the end of the deal meant Ye’s net worth shrank to $400 million. The magazine had valued his share of the Adidas partnership at $1.5 billion.

The remainder of Ye’s wealth comes from real estate, cash, his music catalogue and a 5% stake in ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s shapewear firm, Skims, Forbes said.

Representatives for Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For Adidas, ending the partnership and the production of Yeezy branded products, as well as stopping all payments to Ye and his companies, will have a “short-term negative impact” of up to 250 million euros ($248.90 million) on net income this year, the company said.

Ye has courted controversy in recent months by publicly ending major corporate tie-ups and making outbursts on social media against other celebrities. His Twitter and Instagram accounts were restricted, with the social media platforms removing some of his online posts that users condemned as antisemitic.

In now-deleted Instagram posts earlier this year, the multiple Grammy award-winning artist accused Adidas and U.S. apparel retailer Gap Inc (GPS.N) of failing to build contractually promised permanent stores for products from his Yeezy fashion line.

He also accused Adidas of stealing his designs for its own products.

On Tuesday, Gap, which had ended its partnership with Ye in September, said it was taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap products from its stores and that it had shut down YeezyGap.com.

“Antisemitism, racism and hate in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated in accordance with our values,” Gap said in a statement.

European fashion house Balenciaga has also cut ties with Ye, according to media reports.

“The saga of Ye … underlines the importance of vetting celebrities thoroughly and avoiding those who are overly controversial or unstable,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData.

Adidas poached Ye from rival Nike Inc (NKE.N) in 2013 and agreed to a new long-term partnership in 2016 in what the company then called “the most significant partnership created between a non-athlete and a sports brand.”

The tie-up helped the German brand close the gap with Nike in the U.S. market.

Yeezy sneakers, which cost between $200 and $700, generate about 1.5 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in annual sales for Adidas, making up a little over 7% of its total revenue, according to estimates from Telsey Advisory Group.

Shares in Adidas, which cut its full-year forecast last week, closed down 3.2%. The group said it would provide more information as part of its upcoming Q3 earnings announcement on Nov. 9.

($1 = 1.0044 euros)

Reporting by Mrinmay Dey, Uday Sampath and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Sriraj Kalluvila, Bernadette Baum, Anil D’Silva and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Liberal U.S. lawmakers withdraw Ukraine letter after blowback

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) – A group of liberal U.S. Democrats withdrew a letter to the White House urging a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, the group’s chairperson, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, said on Tuesday, after blowback from within their own party.

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine,” Jayapal said in a statement. She added: “The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting.” read more

The letter signed by 30 caucus members became public on Monday, leaving some other Democrats feeling blindsided just two weeks before Nov. 8 mid-term elections that will determine which political party controls Congress. And it appeared just as Republicans face concerns that their party might cut back military and humanitarian aid that has helped Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

Several members of the Progressive Caucus issued statements expressing support for Ukraine, noting that they had joined other Democrats in voting for billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine.

Some said they had signed the letter months earlier and that things had changed. “Timing in diplomacy is everything. I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today,” Representative Sara Jacobs said on Twitter.

Representative Jamie Raskin, who also signed, said in a statement he was glad to learn it had been withdrawn and noted “its unfortunate timing and other flaws.”

Ukraine’s troops have been waging a successful counteroffensive, with forces advancing into Russian-occupied Kherson province and threatening a major defeat for Moscow.

‘BLANK CHECK’

The letter drew immediate pushback, including from within the Progressive Caucus. “Russia doesn’t acknowledge diplomacy, only strength. If we want Ukraine to continue as a free and democratic country that it is, we must support their fight,” Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego, a caucus member, said in a written comment.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, told Punchbowl News in an interview this month that there would be no “blank check” for Ukraine if Republicans take over. That fed speculation that Republicans might stop aid to Kyiv, although many members of the party said that was not their intention.

In her statement withdrawing the letter, Jayapal said that, because of the timing, the letter was being conflated as being equivalent to McCarthy’s remark.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory. The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter,” Jayapal’s statement said.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said both Democrats and Republicans support continued assistance for Ukraine and he did not think the letter would put U.S. support into question.

“In recent days, we’ve heard from Democrats, we’ve heard from Republicans, that they understand the need to continue to stand with Ukraine, to stand for the principles that are at play here,” he told a news briefing.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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