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Westlake Legal Group > News and News Media (Page 278)

From Dixie Chicks To Rihanna: Our Music Predictions For 2020

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1174365963_wide-2f25e699d6fe68ed66f4afb6344f8d0a7671d9fd-s1100-c15 From Dixie Chicks To Rihanna: Our Music Predictions For 2020

Rihanna performs with Pharrell Williams at her fifth annual Diamond Ball on Sept. 12, 2019. This January marks four years since her last full-length release. Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images hide caption

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Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  From Dixie Chicks To Rihanna: Our Music Predictions For 2020

Rihanna performs with Pharrell Williams at her fifth annual Diamond Ball on Sept. 12, 2019. This January marks four years since her last full-length release.

Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

The last decade of music saw major artists break many of the rules about how to release an album. Beyoncé and Drake popularized the “surprise release” — putting out albums with little to no roll-out at all. So in the era of surprise digital drops, and at the beginning of a new year of music, how do you make predictions about what’s coming?

NPR’s Audie Cornish spoke to NPR Music’s Ann Powers and Rodney Carmichael about some of the artists that are definitely dropping albums in 2020, including Drive-By Truckers and Dixie Chicks, as well a few releases that are less certain — including pending projects from Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar. Listen in the audio player or read on for an edited transcript of their conversation.

AUDIE CORNISH: I want to make you make predictions — is that unwise to do in the era of the surprise digital drop?

ANN POWERS: Depends on what you mean by predictions. We have a general idea about major artists who are putting out new music in the new year — what we often don’t know is the exact date. Like so many things in this world, we feel it coming, we just don’t know when it’s going to hit.

Rodney, what are some of the breadcrumbs a music critic follows?

RODNEY CARMICHAEL: On the hip-hop side, it’s almost impossible to keep up with what these cats are going to do from one minute to the next. Every now and then, someone like Drake does an interview and he kind of let’s you know what’s happening. That’s what happened at the end of 2019, so we got a sense of what he’s working on.

Drake released a single, it’s called “War.” The sound feels a little darker; you said he’s testing the waters. What’s going on?

Carmichael: This is Drake in his full-on rap mode. There’s no hook on this song; this is not for the club; this is not for the memes. I think, you know, he feels like he has a little something to prove. He was, by most accounts, the artist of the decade — especially on the rap side, but maybe even as a pop artist. I think he wants to hold onto that in the coming decade.

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Ann, I want to talk to you about Jason Isbell, who you said is threatening new music. How did you pick up that breadcrumb?

Powers: At the end of 2019, Isbell’s on the road with his band The 400 Unit and here they go: they’re offering new music, they say they’ve been in the studio. Suddenly, we have a new Jason Isbell record in 2020 — or so we think. There’s no date yet, but I think it’s going to happen.

One thing I know for sure is that the band Jason Isbell got his start in, the Drive-By Truckers, has a new album coming out. It’s called The Unraveling. It’s kind of a follow-up to their career high, American Band, which came out in 2016. It follows through on this great Southern rock band’s combination of the personal and the political, and I can’t wait for people to hear it.

So that is a release we’re pretty sure about, and Rodney, you have one as well. Tell me about Ghetto Sage.

Carmichael: Ghetto Sage is basically the name of a supergroup that comprises Noname, Saba and Smino. These are three artists that are well-known to hip-hop fans who like deeper listens, so to speak. Noname and Saba are both out of Chicago, Smino is out of St. Louis. Individually, they’ve all been kind of rising, doing their solo thing over the last few years. Over the last couple of years, I’d say, they’ve started to collaborate and work on songs together and tease this project.

Ghetto Sage as an actual project, as an album, is still one of those things being teased. I’m not sure how much we can definitely bet on it coming out this year. They did drop a song called “Häagen Dazs” at the end of 2019.

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Ann, you’ve got your eye on a big comeback album by, of all people, the Dixie Chicks. Have they really been gone? What do you know about this project?

Powers: They really have been gone from the recording studio from quite a long while — almost 14 years. What they went through 14 years ago really shaped country music, and not necessarily in good ways.

Essentially, Natalie Maines on stage once insulted President George W. Bush and that led to an enormous backlash for the group, right? And, in a way, they were sort of blacklisted.

Powers: Some pundits think that what happened to the Dixie Chicks caused country music to become more conservative in the 21st century, possibly affected the status of women in the genre. But one thing is absolutely sure and that is that the Dixie Chicks are heroes to a whole generation of country listeners and artists. I saw a Dixie Chicks tour a couple years ago, and I cannot tell you how thrilled and excited that audience — mostly women — was to see that band.

Before I leave Dixie Chicks and their heyday, we should mention that there are some other, more familiar names that are going to be coming back: Green Day, poster guys for pop-punk, and Alanis Morissette, the original angry woman of the ’90s.

Powers: Both Green Day and Alanis Morissette have found new lives on Broadway — Green Day with its musical, American Idiot, and Alanis Morissette with her show, Jagged Little Pill, which is taking The Great White Way by storm, right now. It’s interesting how those artists remain relevant today. Green Day is so influential and Alanis, in the ’90s , she was considered by some to be kind of a watered down, pop version of feminism. But now she’s a titan.

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Thinking back to that period, she was the very essence of a breakthrough. Rodney, I know you have some artists you are hoping to breakthrough this year. Can you tell us who you’re watching?

Carmichael: One cat that I’m definitely checking for is named D Smoke. He actually is the winner of a competition show on Netflix that had its first season in 2019, called Rhythm + Flow. Now this was a hip-hop competition show, kind of like your American Idols and whatnot. Unlike a lot of these competitions shows, it seemed like they were really invested in trying to pick some good talent versus just the marketing of the show itself.

D Smoke was really amazing. He’s a cat out of South Central [Los Angeles] — Inglewood, to be specific. He kind of puts you in the mind of a Kendrick Lamar, a little bit, and I say that only because they are from the same city but also because they’re very deep artists.

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YouTube

Ann Powers, for you, a breakthrough you’re keeping your eye out for?

Powers: Breakthroughs don’t always have to come for brand new artists. An artist I love who’s releasing her third album this year is Brandy Clark. She and producer Jay Joyce have come together to make an album called Your Life Is A Record, which sounds like an instant classic. It sounds vintage, it evokes classic ’60s country albums, but it also sounds completely contemporary. It does not feel like it’s in a shiny retro package.

Rodney, you had a list of projects from people that are big names who show no sign of turning out new music. You call them “the Hail Mary joints we need.” Who’s on that list?

Carmichael: This is my list for people I would love to see come out and people we can really expect to do something in 2020. One being Kendrick Lamar — he hasn’t released anything on the solo tip since his Pulitzer-winning album, DAMN., in 2017. This is his longest break, I believe. Kendrick is another one who likes to surprise us, so let’s look for Kendrick.

Rihanna. I mean, we’ve been waiting on this reggae —

Leave this woman alone! She’s running a business.

Powers: Do not leave her alone. We need her!

Carmichael: She is living her life; she’s doing her thing; she’s ruling the world. I would love to hear a soundtrack to her ruling the world. Maybe we can get this Rihanna album in 2020.

Ann, for you: Hail Mary joint?

Powers: Kesha. Come on, girl. She’s coming. She’s going to give us the anthems we need. I know it’s going to happen. And Lady Gaga. Come on, Lady Gaga.

Let’s just end the segment with begging.

Powers: Seriously, what else can you do? Give us a new album.

NPR’s Dave Blanchard and Sarah Handel produced and edited the audio of this interview. Cyrena Touros adapted it for the Web.

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The Anarchist Daughter of the GOP’s Gerrymandering Mastermind Just Dumped All His Maps and Files on Google Drive

Westlake Legal Group PVHBTx8rh-E10Ty2O1DF_AWKcseDdZ6PR2n_vZtZMNQ The Anarchist Daughter of the GOP's Gerrymandering Mastermind Just Dumped All His Maps and Files on Google Drive r/politics

Copy/Paste from her “Crowd Source the MF.odt” file (with some Reddit comment formatting):


Initial Statement:

FAQ’s to follow, later today. Like, no, I never had a terabyte of data and 750,000 files copied, here’s why:

I didn’t have a terabyte of storage handy, at the time, and…

Most of the 750,000 tally consists of duplicative material.

Dad made backups, and backups, and backups. On Disk 3, for example, were almost 100 backups of the same computer, made in relatively close succession. You get the gist…

The actual, external disks themselves contain the authenticated files (authenticated, as in, admissible as evidence in courts). Those remain in the posession of attorneys for the plaintiffs (of Common Cause v Lewis, and other cases in NY and MD) as the matter of THE Files is still open…

What you’re observing here, is my effort to crowd-source The Hofeller Files.

That means that I don’t, by myself, know exactly what We the People should do about our serious problem, the government of our country. All I can say, for certain, is that what we’re doing now does NOT seem to be working very well.

The files in this Google Drive were uploaded from my laptop, from a folder I named, “Backups for Gerrymander!”. When you open that folder, you find five sub-folders,

  • Disk #1

  • Disk #2

  • Disk #3

  • Disk #4 and

  • Sticks

The extra folder, “emails” is a new creation, because on the drives themselves, those emails existed as very, very, very large .pst and .eml files. The backups were unwieldy in size, and difficult to upload.

Also, since the folks that have already had a look at this material have found all sorts of interesting stuff in the emails, and I wanted y’all to be able to see them, too. I also needed to be able to read everything before I published it (don’t ya think?). That’s one of the tasks that took so very long…

“But Steph”, you might say, “…there’s so much, super personal, stuff of YOURS in here…why?”

It’s because these backups were, in large part, backups of my parents’ home computer…from a decent number of years back. The desktop DID have a folder that I made, back in 2012 (or ‘11?) called “Steph’s Stuff”. I leave all of it in place for the same reason I sent everything to Arnold Porter, to preserve the forensic integrity of the material (not just for legal, but for historical purposes).

So, when it comes to myself, I have the right to sacrifice a certain amount of my own privacy. Also, our ringers of the GOP, when they finally figured out that Hofeller’s daughter (as in, “…my god, is that Hofeller’s daugher?!” actually had something that embarrassed them, they started a campaign to highlight my already public private life, and imply that my character or motivation was relevant to the authenticity of the files, themselves, ie, the evidence against them. It totally isn’t relevant.

I was not the party that brought my personal life into this matter, it was the GOP, trying to object to evidence on sole grounds that it was devastating to their case.

I also leave my shit here so that everyone can see the ridiculousness of the GOP’s assertion that these files belong to them. No, they belong to everybody, as they are evidence in matters that concern The People, their right to franchise and their access to shared resources.

And, if they belong to any one person, that person is me. So, here I go sharing again.

I’m going to be adding source materials, further information, research ideas and links to resources.

In the meantime, Mishka and I have been shut up in my apartment for a few days straight, now. So, I’m going to go for a ride, pick up some ciggies, and drop her off at home.

Please download and distribute this material, at will. It’s yours (be nice).

Yours too, for what it’s worth,

Steph

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Bolton Says He Is Willing to Testify in Impeachment Trial

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-impeach-sub-facebookJumbo Bolton Says He Is Willing to Testify in Impeachment Trial Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate McConnell, Mitch House of Representatives Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said on Monday that he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial if he was subpoenaed.

“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Mr. Bolton said in a statement on his website.

The development is a dramatic turn in the impeachment proceeding, which has been stalled over Democrats’ insistence on hearing from critical witnesses Mr. Trump blocked from testifying in the House inquiry into his pressure campaign on Ukraine. Mr. Bolton is a potential bombshell of a witness, with crucial knowledge of the president’s actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill out key blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case.

His willingness to tell the Senate what he knows ratchets up pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has refused to commit to calling witnesses at the impeachment trial, to change his stance. It is unclear how the White House will respond to Mr. Bolton’s declaration, but his statement strongly suggested that he would testify regardless of whether Mr. Trump sought to prevent him.

A spokesman for Mr. McConnell declined to comment Monday afternoon shortly after the announcement.

“It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts,” Mr. Bolton wrote. “Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study.”

If he did appear under oath in the Senate, Mr. Bolton would be the closest adviser to the president to testify about what Mr. Trump said behind closed doors as he pressured the Ukranians to investigate his political rivals as he was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid from the country.

The Democratic-led House impeached Mr. Trump last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, charging him with a corrupt scheme to solicit help from Ukraine in the 2020 election, and concealing his actions from Congress.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to block his most senior aides, as well as former advisers who have left the White House, from speaking to Congress, and has gone to court to stop several of them from cooperating.

Mr. Bolton declined to say on Monday precisely what he would be willing to tell Congress. But former White House officials and people close to Mr. Bolton have indicated that his testimony would likely be damning to Mr. Trump and put additional pressure on moderate Republicans to consider convicting him.

That could fundamentally change the dynamics around the impeachment trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote — 67 senators — is needed to remove Mr. Trump. Democrats, the minority party, control 45 seats.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far declined to send the Senate the charges against Mr. Trump, which would trigger the start of the trial, saying that she wants assurances that Mr. McConnell will run a fair process.

Although Mr. Bolton never spoke with House investigators, his aides provided them with a portrait of how he viewed Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The aides said that Mr. Bolton was deeply concerned about how Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, pressured the Ukranians to investigate Democrats. Other officials testified under oath that Mr. Bolton told White House colleagues that Mr. Giuliani was a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Late last year, the chances of Mr. Bolton testifying looked bleak. In October, the House subpoenaed Mr. Bolton’s deputy, Charles Kupperman, but the White House tried to block him from testifying. Mr. Kupperman’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, who also represents Mr. Bolton, filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to decide on what Mr. Kupperman should do. The House withdrew the subpoena, as leading Democrats argued it was not worth awaiting the outcome of a lengthy — potentially yearslong — legal proceeding before moving to impeach Mr. Trump.

The judge ruled late last month that the issue was moot, leaving the question of whether the president’s closest advisers had to testify unresolved.

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Instagram-obsessed tourists reportedly overwhelming village that inspired ‘Frozen’

They just can’t “let it go.”

Tourists to the tiny Austrian village of Hallstatt are reportedly overwhelming the community with their sheer numbers. The charming hamlet believed to have inspired the fairy-tale city featured in Disney’s wildly popular “Frozen” franchise, and has been described as “the most Instagrammable town in the world” — but the local mayor is still baffled regarding how to best address the growing influx of visitors.

Hallstatt is home to a population of about 800 people, and yet the lakeside village welcomes as many as 10,000 tourists per day, The Guardian reports. Placed on the mainstream map after being featured on a South Korean travel show in 2006, Hallstatt truly shot to stardom when linked to the fictional town of Arendelle after “Frozen” premiered in 2013, according to The Sun.

Westlake Legal Group d39c1402-iStock-1181522312 Instagram-obsessed tourists reportedly overwhelming village that inspired 'Frozen' Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/extreme-travel fox-news/travel fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc feca7dbc-2c61-507a-8d5b-0ff822d469a5 article

They just can’t “let it go.” Tourists to the tiny Austrian village of Hallstatt, pictured, are reportedly overwhelming the community with their sheer numbers. (iStock)

PASSENGERS BEHAVING BADLY: 10 OF THE CRAZIEST THINGS THAT HAPPENED ON AIRPLANES IN 2019

Lately, the UNESCO World Heritage site is said to have been swarmed with selfie-snappers, wedding party photo shoots and even piloted drones. For context, the small Alpine town in the Salzkammergut Mountains has been receiving six times more tourists per capita than Venice, Italy.

Now, Hallstatt mayor Alexander Scheutz is searching for answers regarding how to best welcome sightseers in and around the community.

“Hallstatt is an important piece of cultural history, not a museum. We want to reduce numbers by at least a third but we have no way of actually stopping them,” Scheutz said, per The Sun.

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Though Hallstatt’s booming tourism certainly comes with benefits like ample funding for schools and year-round customers for once-seasonal businesses, consequential issues include litter, irritating drone activity and a more expensive local economy.

“Locals feel as though they are living in a theme park,” The Guardian claims. “In November, a fire destroyed a large chunk of the waterfront, yet still the tourists came.”

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Westlake Legal Group Frozen-II Instagram-obsessed tourists reportedly overwhelming village that inspired 'Frozen' Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/extreme-travel fox-news/travel fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc feca7dbc-2c61-507a-8d5b-0ff822d469a5 article

This image released by Disney shows Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, from left, Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff and Sven in a scene from the animated film, “Frozen 2.” (Disney via AP) (AP)

Though Scheutz is reportedly exploring plans to reduce the number of tourists buses to Hallstatt, the ultimate fate of “the most Instagrammable town in the world” remains to be determined.

Since its premiere on Nov. 22, Disney’s “Frozen 2” has made over $1.32 billion to become the highest-grossing animated movie of all time, Fox Business reports. The flick surpassed the original “Frozen,” which netted $1.27 billion, and “Incredibles 2,” which drew $1.24 billion worldwide.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-1181522312 Instagram-obsessed tourists reportedly overwhelming village that inspired 'Frozen' Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/extreme-travel fox-news/travel fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc feca7dbc-2c61-507a-8d5b-0ff822d469a5 article   Westlake Legal Group iStock-1181522312 Instagram-obsessed tourists reportedly overwhelming village that inspired 'Frozen' Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/extreme-travel fox-news/travel fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc feca7dbc-2c61-507a-8d5b-0ff822d469a5 article

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Awash in Disinformation Before Vote, Taiwan Points Finger at China

Westlake Legal Group 00taiwanmeddling-1-facebookJumbo Awash in Disinformation Before Vote, Taiwan Points Finger at China Voting and Voters Tsai Ing-wen Taiwan Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Propaganda Politics and Government Han Kuo-yu elections Democratic Progressive Party (Taiwan) Computers and the Internet Chinese Nationalist Party (Taiwan) China

TAIPEI, Taiwan — At first glance, the bespectacled YouTuber railing against Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, just seems like a concerned citizen making an appeal to his fellow Taiwanese.

He speaks Taiwanese-accented Mandarin, with the occasional phrase in Taiwanese dialect. His captions are written with the traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan, not the simplified ones used in China. With outrage in his voice, he accuses Ms. Tsai of selling out “our beloved land of Taiwan” to Japan and the United States.

The man, Zhang Xida, does not say in his videos whom he works for. But other websites and videos make it clear: He is a host for China National Radio, the Beijing-run broadcaster.

As Taiwan gears up for a major election this week, officials and researchers worry that China is experimenting with social media manipulation to sway the vote. Doing so would be easy, they fear, in the island’s rowdy democracy, where the news cycle is fast and voters are already awash in false or highly partisan information.

China has been upfront about its dislike for President Tsai, who opposes closer ties with Beijing. The Communist Party claims Taiwan as part of China’s territory, and it has long deployed propaganda and intimidation to try to influence elections here.

Polls suggest, however, that Beijing’s heavy-handed ways might be backfiring and driving voters to embrace Ms. Tsai. Thousands of Taiwan citizens marched last month against “red media,” or local news organizations supposedly influenced by the Chinese government.

That is why Beijing may be turning to subtler, digital-age methods to inflame and divide.

Recently, there have been Facebook posts saying falsely that Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist who has fans in Taiwan, had attacked an old man. There were posts about nonexistent protests outside Taiwan’s presidential house, and hoax messages warning that ballots for the opposition Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, would be automatically invalidated.

So many rumors and falsehoods circulate on Taiwanese social media that it can be hard to tell whether they originate in Taiwan or in China, and whether they are the work of private provocateurs or of state agents.

Taiwan’s National Security Bureau in May issued a downbeat assessment of Chinese-backed disinformation on the island, urging a “‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ response.”

“False information is the last step in an information war,” the bureau’s report said. “If you find false information, that means you have already been thoroughly infiltrated.”

Taiwanese society has woken up to the threat. The government has strengthened laws against spreading harmful rumors. Companies including Facebook, Google and the messaging service Line have agreed to police their platforms more stringently. Government departments and civil society groups now race to debunk hoaxes as quickly as they appear.

The election will put these efforts — and the resilience of Taiwan’s democracy — to the test.

“The ultimate goal, just like what Russia tried to do in the United States, is to crush people’s confidence in the democratic system,” said Tzeng Yi-suo of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a think tank funded by the government of Taiwan.

Fears of Chinese meddling became acute in recent months after a man named Wang Liqiang sought asylum in Australia claiming he had worked for Chinese intelligence to fund pro-Beijing candidates in Taiwan, buy off media groups and conduct social media attacks.

Mr. Wang’s account remains largely unverified. But there are other signs that Beijing is working to upgrade its techniques of information warfare.

Twitter, which is blocked in mainland China, recently took down a vast network of accounts that it described as Chinese state-backed trolls trying to discredit Hong Kong’s protesters.

A 2018 paper in a journal linked to the United Front Work Department, a Communist Party organ that organizes overseas political networking, argued that Beijing had failed to shape Taiwanese public discourse in favor of unification with China.

In November, the United Front Work Department held a conference in Beijing on internet influence activities, according to an official social media account. The department’s head, You Quan, said the United Front would help people such as social media influencers, live-streamers and professional e-sports players to “play an active role in guiding public opinion.”

“We understand that the people who are sowing discord are also building a community, that they are also learning from each other’s playbooks,” said Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s digital minister. “There are new innovations happening literally every day.”

In Taiwan, Chinese internet trolls were once easily spotted because they posted using the simplified Chinese characters found only on the mainland.

That happens less these days, though there are still linguistic slip-ups.

In one of the YouTube videos from Mr. Zhang, the China National Radio employee, a character in the description is incorrectly translated into traditional Chinese from simplified Chinese. Mr. Zhang did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Puma Shen, an assistant professor at National Taipei University who studies Chinese influence efforts, does not believe that disinformation from China is always guided by some central authority as it spreads around the internet.

“It’s not an order from Beijing,” Mr. Shen said. Much of the activity seems to be scattered groups of troublemakers, paid or not, who feed off one another’s trolling. “People are enthusiastic about doing this kind of stuff there in China,” he said.

In December, Taiwan’s justice ministry warned about a fake government notice saying Taiwan was deporting protesters who had fled Hong Kong. The hoax first appeared on the Chinese social platform Weibo, the ministry said, before spreading to a Chinese nationalist Facebook group.

Sometimes, Chinese trolls amplify rumors already floating around in Taiwan, Mr. Shen said. He is also on the lookout for Taiwanese social media accounts that may be bought or supported by Chinese operatives.

Ahead of midterm elections in 2018, his team had been monitoring several YouTube channels that discussed Taiwanese politics. The day after voting ended, the channels disappeared.

After Yu Hsin-Hsien was elected to the City Council that year in Taoyuan, a city near Taipei, mysterious strangers began inquiring about buying his Facebook page, which had around 280,000 followers. Mr. Yu, 30, immediately suspected China.

His suspicions grew after he demanded an extravagantly high price and the buyers accepted. Mr. Yu, who represents Ms. Tsai’s party, the Democratic Progressive Party, did not sell.

“Someone approaches a just-elected legislator and offers to buy his oldest weapon,” Mr. Yu said. “What’s his motive? To serve the public? It can’t be.”

Recently, internet users in Taiwan noticed a group of influencers, many of them pretty young women, posting messages on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #DeclareMyDeterminationToVote. The posts did not mention candidates or parties, but the people included selfies with a fist at their chest, a gesture often used by Han Kuo-yu, the Kuomintang’s presidential candidate.

Many of the posts later vanished. Mr. Han’s campaign denied involvement. But some have speculated that China’s United Front might be to blame. The United Front Work Department did not respond to a fax requesting comment.

One line of attack against Ms. Tsai has added to the atmosphere of mistrust and high conspiracy ahead of this week’s vote.

Politicians and media outlets have questioned whether Ms. Tsai’s doctoral dissertation is authentic, even though her alma mater, the London School of Economics, has confirmed that it is.

Dennis Peng hosts a daily YouTube show dedicated to proving otherwise. His channel has 173,000 subscribers. Theories about Ms. Tsai’s dissertation have circulated in China, too, with the help of the Chinese news media.

Mr. Peng, a former television anchor, once supported Ms. Tsai. He was proud that Taiwan elected a female president. Now he says he is not being paid by anyone, including China, to crusade against her.

He is not worried about being smeared as fake news.

“Let news and fake news compete against each other,” Mr. Peng said. “I trust that most people aren’t so stupid. Everybody eventually figures it out.”

Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting. Wang Yiwei contributed research from Beijing.

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Judge Judy endorses Mike Bloomberg on ‘The View’: ‘Greatest country’ needs ‘greatest president’

Judge Judy Sheindlin declared her support for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s presidential candidacy Monday on ABC’s “The View.”

Judge Judy, who has not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate in the past, explained why she’s going to bat for Bloomberg.

“I’ve never seen Americans so angry with each other as a family and it became sort of frightening when you couldn’t go to a social gathering and have a difference of opinion… if you view America as the greatest family on the planet, I felt as if it was time for America, which is the greatest country in the world, to have the greatest president,” she said. “When I looked at the field of 2020 candidates… there was no other voice, for me, other than the voice of someone who has experience in governance second only to the president of the United States.”

CNN PUTS ‘BUILDING A MOOD OF DOOM’ NARRATIVE AHEAD OF FACTS WITH ANTI-TRUMP IRAN COVERAGE, CRITICS SAY

The TV judge’s appearance came on the first episode of 2020 for the ABC News daytime gabfest. She said that New York City has the “most diverse” population of anyplace in America and Bloomberg’s experience can help the nation.

Westlake Legal Group bloomberg-judy Judge Judy endorses Mike Bloomberg on 'The View': ‘Greatest country’ needs ‘greatest president’ Tyler McCarthy fox-news/media fox news fnc/entertainment fnc e60f66d5-5e33-5065-a714-08ff22b0e6de Brian Flood article

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg pick up a 2020 presidential endorsement from Judge Judy.

“There was a good feeling [under Bloomberg], it was a feeling that things were run effectively and efficiently during his 12 years as mayor,” Judge Judy said. “I felt that way when he was the mayor and he’s a brilliant, self-made guy.”

Judge Judy defended Bloomberg as “not another” rich guy, because she feels he is the only candidate who “has experience governing and managing.”

“If he’s successful and happened to have made money being successful, that folks, is the American dream,” she said.

The fiery judge never clashed with the typically confrontational hosts, who wrapped up the segment by inviting her to co-host down the road. Judge Judy previously launched a new campaign ad giving her glowing endorsement to Bloomberg, which “The View” played for its audience.

‘HAIR-ON-FIRE’ PUNDITS’ REACTION TO SOLEIMANI KILLING ILLUSTRATES PARTISAN TRUMP COVERAGE, EXPERTS SAY

The judge, 77, known for her daytime TV show “Judge Judy,” appeared in a 30-second video shared by Bloomberg’s official campaign in which she explained why she was supporting him in the crowded Democratic field against incumbent candidate Donald Trump.

“I like to say you can judge someone’s character by what they’ve done,” she begins. “Mike Bloomberg has done amazing things and will be a truly great president. No one comes close to Mike Bloomberg’s executive achievement, government experience and impactful philanthropy. His steady leadership will unite our country and bring us through these very challenging times.”

Her endorsement is not exactly a surprise as she previously released an op-ed in USA Today in which she declared that Bloomberg is the only hope for the presidency. It raised eyebrows at the time as the former New York City Mayor had not yet announced his candidacy.

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“The only way we can begin to come together again, I said, is if Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, becomes our next president,” the judge wrote at the time. “I realize I am taking a personal and a career risk in making such a statement. I have carefully stayed away from politics for 50 years, except to vote. But times have changed in our country, and I believe the moment has come for me to step out from behind the curtain.”

Westlake Legal Group bloomberg-judy Judge Judy endorses Mike Bloomberg on 'The View': ‘Greatest country’ needs ‘greatest president’ Tyler McCarthy fox-news/media fox news fnc/entertainment fnc e60f66d5-5e33-5065-a714-08ff22b0e6de Brian Flood article   Westlake Legal Group bloomberg-judy Judge Judy endorses Mike Bloomberg on 'The View': ‘Greatest country’ needs ‘greatest president’ Tyler McCarthy fox-news/media fox news fnc/entertainment fnc e60f66d5-5e33-5065-a714-08ff22b0e6de Brian Flood article

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John Bolton Says He’d Testify In Trump’s Impeachment Trial If Subpoenaed

Westlake Legal Group 5e1368d22400009f245a5115 John Bolton Says He’d Testify In Trump’s Impeachment Trial If Subpoenaed

Former national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he is willing to testify before the Senate in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial if he is subpoenaed.

“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said in a statement.

Bolton’s agreement to testify if subpoenaed, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the Senate will actually hear from him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are currently trying to work out an agreement on what the rules will be for an impeachment trial.

The Democratic position is that calling witnesses is essential to a fair process, and Schumer has specifically requested the testimony of four people who did not testify before the House ― including Bolton. But McConnell hasn’t agreed to subpoenaing witnesses or additional documents that shed light on the Ukraine scandal and what role Trump specifically played in pressuring the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has so far refused to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, meaning McConnell has not been able to start the trial. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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First Brit in space says aliens exist: ‘There’s no two ways about it’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087230850001_6087228353001-vs First Brit in space says aliens exist: 'There’s no two ways about it' fox-news/topic/aliens fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 40b8dd25-3bdc-53fc-8e45-4c68a7913e28

Renowned for being the first British person in space, Dr. Helen Sharman is making headlines for another claim. She believes aliens exist.

“Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it,” Sharman said in an interview with The Observer magazine. “There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life.”

Sharman said she was not sure if they would be composed of carbon and nitrogen, but suggested they may be on Earth already. “It’s possible they’re here right now, and we simply can’t see them,” she added.

NASA DENIES THERE ARE LIVING ‘INSECT- AND REPTILE-LIKE CREATURES’ ON MARS

The 56-year-old Sharman went into space in May 1991 as part of Project Juno, a joint Soviet Union–British mission where she visited the Mir space station for eight days.

NASA has repeatedly denied it has discovered the presence of life outside of Earth, including most recently in October, when a former employee published an explosive op-ed suggesting the agency found life nearly 50 years ago.

Gilbert Levin, who worked on the Viking missions to the Red Planet during the 1970s, published an op-ed that made it clear that he believes data from the Labeled Release (LR) in 1976 was supportive of finding life.

NASA: ANCIENT MARS OASIS COULD HAVE SUPPORT LIFE

“On July 30, 1976, the LR returned its initial results from Mars,” Levin wrote in the op-ed, entitled “I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s.”

Fox News has reached out to Sharman and NASA with a request for comment for this story.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087230850001_6087228353001-vs First Brit in space says aliens exist: 'There’s no two ways about it' fox-news/topic/aliens fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 40b8dd25-3bdc-53fc-8e45-4c68a7913e28   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087230850001_6087228353001-vs First Brit in space says aliens exist: 'There’s no two ways about it' fox-news/topic/aliens fox news fnc/science fnc Chris Ciaccia article 40b8dd25-3bdc-53fc-8e45-4c68a7913e28

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Kennedy family member launches House bid against party-switching Rep. Van Drew

Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, announced Monday that she will run as a Democrat against Rep. Jeff Van Drew in November after the congressman from New Jersey switched parties amid the impeachment battle against President Trump.

Kennedy, a former public school teacher and years-long resident of Brigantine, N.J., announced her candidacy for the House seat representing New Jersey’s 2nd district in an online video on Monday highlighting environmental issues and the economy.

GOP CONGRESSMAN MAKES BOLD PREDICTION ON IMPEACHMENT OUTCOME: ‘I THINK WE CAN TAKE BACK THE HOUSE IN 2020’ 

Kennedy currently serves as the education director of the Kennedy Forum, which was founded in 2013 by her husband and focuses on helping officials improve mental health care policy. Patrick Kennedy served eight terms as a congressman representing Rhode Island and is the son of late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and nephew of late President John F. Kennedy.

In the video, Kennedy also took a direct swipe at Van Drew, who announced his party switch last month after the House voted to approve two articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—against the president. Van Drew opposed those articles.

“Too many of our leaders have lost their moral compass,” Kennedy said in the video. “Trump and Van Drew are symptoms of a bigger sickness affecting our country and our politics. Doing what’s right shouldn’t be complicated. Treat one another with respect, show some compassion, look out for others.”

FORGETTING SOMETHING? DEM LEADER MAKES NO MENTION OF IMPEACHMENT IN HOUSE AGENDA MEMO

Van Drew’s switch opened a competitive Democratic primary in New Jersey, in a district that typically leans Republican. Van Drew’s seat had been held by Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo for 12 terms before Van Drew won in 2018 as a Democrat.

Kennedy faces several rivals in the Democratic primary, including Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison, who has already garnered support from Democratic lawmakers; Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett; and former FBI agent Robert Turkavage, who ran and lost in the 2018 GOP primary, but switched parties to run as a Democrat this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group Amy-Kennedy-Amy-Kennedy-for-Congress Kennedy family member launches House bid against party-switching Rep. Van Drew fox-news/politics/2020-house-races fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 94c4605a-2127-5d17-91ca-09ded0729af2   Westlake Legal Group Amy-Kennedy-Amy-Kennedy-for-Congress Kennedy family member launches House bid against party-switching Rep. Van Drew fox-news/politics/2020-house-races fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 94c4605a-2127-5d17-91ca-09ded0729af2

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What Is Trump’s Iran Strategy? Few Seem to Know

Westlake Legal Group 06int-iran1-facebookJumbo What Is Trump’s Iran Strategy? Few Seem to Know United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Iran

When the United States announced on Friday that it had killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, something about its explanation left many analysts puzzled.

The strike was intended to deter further Iranian attacks, administration officials said. But they also said it was also expected to provoke severe enough attacks by Iran that the Pentagon was deploying an additional several thousand troops to the region.

The apparent contradiction left many experts wondering about the strike’s intended goal, and the strategy behind it.

The next day did little to settle the matter. The strike had been intended to prevent an imminent Iranian attack, officials said publicly. Or to change the behavior of Iran’s surviving leaders. Or to cow those leaders, whose behavior would never change.

Others said privately that President Trump had ordered it in response to television reports of an Iranian-backed siege on the American Embassy compound in Baghdad.

Mr. Suleimani’s killing has left a swirl of confusion among analysts, former policymakers and academics. The United States had initiated a sudden, drastic escalation against a regional power, risking fierce retaliation, or even war.

Why?

“There’s not a single person that I’ve spoken to who can tell you what Trump is up to with Iran,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

It’s not that experts or foreign officials suspect a secret agenda, but that the administration’s action fit no clear pattern or long-term strategy, she said. “It just doesn’t add up.”

The killing, many say, deepens the uncertainty that has surrounded Mr. Trump’s ambitions toward Iran since he withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear accord and began a series of provocations that he terms maximum pressure.

The risk, experts say, is that if they cannot figure out the administration’s goals and priorities for Iran, its red lines and points of possible compromise, then foreign governments won’t be able to either.

“Absolutely not,” Ms. Geranmayeh said when asked whether European or Middle Eastern officials, whom she speaks with regularly, understood Mr. Trump’s strategy. “Not even the closest U.S. allies, like in London.”

This imposes a layer of confusion on the conflict, just as it enters a dangerous and volatile new chapter, inviting mixed messages and misread intentions.

“If it’s that hard for us to understand, imagine the Iranians,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, who directs a Middle East policy center at RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan research group.

Mixed signals, she said, make any effort to shape an adversary’s behavior “incredibly ineffective.” Uncertainty about Mr. Trump’s intentions also increases risks that the conflict could spiral out of control.

Without a clear understanding of what actions will lead the United States to ramp up or ramp down hostilities, she said, Iranian leaders are operating in the dark — and waiting to stumble past some unseen red line.

“That’s what makes this a dangerous situation,” she said.

Part of the uncertainty is specific to Mr. Trump. His impulsive style and resistance to accepting difficult trade-offs have made his goals on Iran difficult to parse.

He has cycled between ambitions of withdrawing from the Middle East, positioning himself as a once-in-a-generation peacemaker and, more recently, promising to oppose Iran more forcefully than any recent president has.

He has also been pulled between his advisers, with some urging cautious adherence to the status quo and others arguing for overtly topping Iran’s government.

Mr. Trump’s reputation for distortions and untruths have also made it difficult to separate bluster from agenda-setting.

He took the United States out of the nuclear agreement and imposed sanctions against Iran — which some see as setting off a crisis that continue today — on claims that it was “on the cusp” of acquiring nuclear weapons “in just a short period of time.”

But international inspectors and United States military leaders said that Iran was complying with requirements to freeze its nuclear development.

Without a clear explanation for Mr. Trump’s behavior, anyone whose job requires forecasting the next American action — from foreign head of state to think tank analyst — was left guessing.

Deepening the challenge, the administration followed up with a set of demands that included some nuclear restrictions but focused mostly on Iran’s regional influence and proxy forces, ordering Tehran to sever ties to nearly all of them in a sweeping surrender.

Was this the real agenda? If so, what were the plans for winning each demand, and the metrics for measuring whether those plans were working? How would the administration balance competing priorities?

American action on the ground deepened confusion.

United States diplomacy has emphasized calls for peace but has conspicuously declined to offer what diplomats call “offramps” — easy, low-stakes opportunities for both sides to begin de-escalating, which are considered essential first steps.

“There’s been no talk of, say, ‘If you do this, then we’ll bring back waivers,’” Ms. Kaye said, referring to American waivers allowing other countries to buy Iranian oil. “‘If you do X, then you’ll get Y.’ There’s been nothing tangible like that.”

Throughout months of proxy conflict, American military responses have ranged from muted or nonexistent — as in the case of an attack on Saudi oil facilities that was believed to be the work of Iran — to extreme escalations like killing Mr. Suleimani.

Even if each action might be defensible on its own, experts and foreign officials have strained to match them with a consistent set of motives and objectives.

Suspicions have deepened that there may be no long-term strategy at all, even among those sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s policies.

R. Nicholas Burns, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush, wrote on Twitter that the United States might have had a “legitimate right” to kill General Suleimani.

But, he asked, “has Trump considered next 15 moves on chessboard? How to protect our people? Line up allies to support us? Contain Iran but avoid wider war? My guess is he hasn’t.”

Ms. Geranmayeh stressed that the conflict between the United States and Iran also threatens to draw in a host of Middle Eastern and European countries.

To navigate tensions and avoid worsening them, allies and adversaries alike must astutely judge American intentions and anticipate American actions.

All of them, she said, seemed at a loss.

“Most experts and officials that I’ve spoken to from the Middle East, including close allies — Saudi Arabia, Israel — they also can’t tell you with confidence what Trump wants on Iran,” she said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had already been ramping down tensions with Iran, Ms. Geranmayeh said, “because they have no idea how Trump will behave from one week to the next” and fear getting caught in the middle.

Similar confusion in Tehran, she added, could become “the biggest problem.”

“If Trump is not managing a consistent and clear message to the Iranians about what he wants,” she said, “then this opens up a lot of space for a lot of miscalculation.”

The most important question, Ms. Kaye said, is what steps by Iran might cause Mr. Trump to pull back. “There’s not an understanding about what is the end game, what is the U.S. trying to achieve, when will the Trump administration be happy, and enough is enough,” she said.

And while judging what will provoke American escalations against Iran is not straightforward, she said, those escalations have come steadily enough as to seem almost inevitable.

“Action on the ground has been continuously punitive,” she said.

Brett McGurk, who until last year was the administration’s special envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State, warned his former bosses, in an article for Foreign Affairs, that their maximalist demands had left “no plausible on-ramp for Iran to enter negotiations, since nobody, including the Iranians, knows what Iran is supposed to negotiate about.”

Ms. Kaye said Iran might conclude that it should tread with extreme caution. Or it might reason that the United States poses a threat that is both existential and unyielding, compelling Tehran to gamble on taking extreme measures.

“What I’m concerned about is that mixed signals, plus the perception of existential threat,” Ms. Kaye said, “might lead to dramatic steps that we might not have thought possible.”

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