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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 154)

Sophie Turner Shreds Social Media Influencers With Scathing Parody

Westlake Legal Group 5d9da275210000c008acbba1 Sophie Turner Shreds Social Media Influencers With Scathing Parody

Social media influencers who push shady weight-loss products to their followers have invoked the ire of “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner.

“Hey, you guys, just kind of going for my influencer look today,” the British actor says in a fake American accent in a parody clip she shared as an Instagram story Monday and which is now going viral on Twitter.

“Today I just wanted to promote this new powdered stuff that you put in your tea,” she continues. “And basically it makes you shit your brains out and is totally really really bad for me to be promoting to young women and young people everywhere but I don’t really give a fuck because I’m getting paid money for it.”

“Influencer life,” Turner, who played Sansa Stark in HBO’s epic fantasy drama, ends the video.

Reality TV personality Kim Kardashian is among those who have come under scrutiny for promoting weight-loss products via social media. Last year, she faced backlash for peddling “appetite suppressant lollipops” on Instagram.

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Justice Dept. must turn over material related to Mueller grand jury, judge rules

Westlake Legal Group AP19203352203125 Justice Dept. must turn over material related to Mueller grand jury, judge rules fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 87b4290d-df90-557f-9ae2-6bea140f1919

A federal judge Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to disclose some material relating grand jury information from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell balked at the Justice Department’s appeal to deny a House Judiciary Committee request for grand jury materials, including redacted portions of Mueller’s report, ordering the department to reveal which and how many FBI witness interview reports have been turned over to the committee and how many they plan to turn over, The Washington Post reported.

DURHAM INVESTIGATION INTO ORIGINS OF 2016 TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURVEILLANCE EXPANDS ITS SCOPE

The judge also said the department must explain why it was withholding interviews with witnesses who didn’t go before the grand jury.

Howell’s ruling came after hours of testimony from lawyers for House Democrats and the Justice Department.

“This is not a situation of us getting all sorts of materials,” a lawyer for House Democrats said. “We’re getting almost nothing.”

The judge, appointed by former President Obama in 2010, called some of DOJ’s arguments for withholding information “extreme,” citing the department’s contention that some of the material from the Watergate grand jury should not have been turned over to Congress during the impeachment inquiry into former President Nixon.

“Wow, OK,” Howell said, according to The Post. “As I said, the department is taking extraordinary positions in this case.”

The Justice Department argued that a 1974 federal appeals court decision that said impeachment proceedings are exempt from grand jury secrecy rules is no longer valid because a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this year tightened requirements to exclude impeachment proceedings.

The judge also ordered the DOJ to disclose by Friday whether the Mueller team had disclosed grand jury information when asking for help from other countries, explaining that she wanted to know if the DOJ was withholding information from Congress that had already been shared with foreign countries.

Republicans have also argued that a formal impeachment inquiry isn’t taking place until the House has a vote on impeachment. Democrats deny a vote needs to take place.

The judge hasn’t said when she’ll make a decision on whether DOJ has to turn over the material.

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The lawsuit predates the impeachment inquiry into President Trump over a phone call with Ukraine’s president in which he asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19203352203125 Justice Dept. must turn over material related to Mueller grand jury, judge rules fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 87b4290d-df90-557f-9ae2-6bea140f1919   Westlake Legal Group AP19203352203125 Justice Dept. must turn over material related to Mueller grand jury, judge rules fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 87b4290d-df90-557f-9ae2-6bea140f1919

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Who Is Gordon Sondland, and What Was His Mission to Ukraine?

Westlake Legal Group 04sondland1-facebookJumbo Who Is Gordon Sondland, and What Was His Mission to Ukraine? Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates

BRUSSELS — Gordon D. Sondland, the blunt-spoken hotelier who is President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, was boasting on Ukrainian television that Mr. Trump had honored him with a “special assignment” — “overseeing” relations between the two countries “at the highest levels.”

Mr. Sondland had arrived in Kiev on July 25, the day of the now-infamous telephone call between President Trump and the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. He had spoken to Mr. Trump minutes before the call, he said, and met with Mr. Zelensky for an hour the next morning, before his television interview.

At the time, his television remarks might have been the kind of diplomatic bluster one would expect of Mr. Sondland, a big, loquacious man who has been a prominent Republican donor and fund-raiser for years and loves to remind people of the good relationship he has developed with Mr. Trump.

But in the glare of the impeachment inquiry swirling in Washington, Mr. Sondland’s mission is now being scrutinized in an entirely different light, to assess whether it was to give a lift to American relations with Ukraine, or actually to serve as Mr. Trump’s personal fixer.

“We can make sure that all the reforms and all of the initiatives that we are undertaking with Ukraine stay on track and happen quickly,” Mr. Sondland said in the television interview.

[The Trump administration blocked Mr. Sondland from sitting for a deposition on Tuesday with House investigators.]

What Mr. Sondland did not say, and what has become clear in the messages released on Thursday by House Democrats, is that one of the main initiatives was getting Mr. Zelensky to agree publicly to a statement committing Ukraine to pursue investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, especially former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter, and into supposed meddling from Ukraine in the 2016 election.

In return, Mr. Zelensky would get the White House meeting he craved and, implicitly, Washington would release military aid held up on Mr. Trump’s request.

Asked in the interview about progress in Ukraine-America relations, including questions like membership of NATO and energy security, Mr. Sondland urged patience.

“It’s not a question of saying no,’’ Mr. Sondland said of the Zelensky government. ‘‘It’s a question of saying when. There are certain things that they have to do. There are preconditions to anything.”

Mr. Sondland also spoke to Ukraine’s state-run news agency after the call and said: “The conversation was very successful. They found a common language immediately.” He said the two leaders discussed Ukraine’s war, energy security and “the rule of law.”

Mr. Sondland, 62, arrived in Brussels as ambassador to the European Union in June of last year, having raised a lot of money for Mr. Trump after building a lucrative hotel chain in the Pacific Northwest.

He sees his job as pressing Mr. Trump’s agenda, which is tightly focused on trade and the impediments that led to a $151 billion trade deficit in goods with the European Union, a figure Mr. Sondland often cites.

Mr. Sondland has said that his grandparents were from Ukraine. His parents were both refugees from the Nazis, and he was the first in his family to be born in the United States.

In September 2018, Mr. Sondland posted a video to introduce himself and his family to Europeans, featuring shots of him making coffee, relaxing at home, showing off his collection of art, climbing into a jet that he likes to pilot, and walking his dogs on the beach with his wife, Katherine Durant, a businesswoman, and introducing his son Max and daughter Lucy.

Ms. Sondland backed out of hosting a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump in 2016, citing Mr. Trump’s disparaging comments toward immigrants and the family of a slain Muslim-American soldier. But in the end Mr. Sondland donated $1 million through his companies to the inaugural committee for Mr. Trump.

That relationship seems to have led to his apparent responsibility in Ukraine after the previous ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat, displeased the White House and was removed several months before the end of her term.

Mr. Sondland’s “special assignment” from Mr. Trump was never formally announced, but it was instrumental in the negotiations with Mr. Zelensky’s team and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who was pressing for these essentially political investigations.

Officials in Mr. Sondland’s embassy say that the Ukrainian effort was not a part of their own work with the European Union, and that they were not aware of the extent of Mr. Sondland’s activities in Ukraine.

In his interview with Ukrainian television, Mr. Sondland said the American-Ukrainian relationship was in the hands of “what are called the three amigos’’ — himself, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Kurt D. Volker, the special representative for Ukraine negotiations.

Mr. Sondland arrived in Kiev the day of the phone call, on July 25, and has said that he spoke to Mr. Trump minutes before the call took place, and then met with Mr. Zelensky for an hour the next morning along with Mr. Volker, who quit his role after the whistle-blower’s complaint about the call was made public.

The whistle-blower has described the two men as having “reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the president had made of Mr. Zelensky.”

In a message to a Zelensky adviser on July 25, ahead of the call, Mr. Volker said he was assured by the White House that if Mr. Zelensky could convince Mr. Trump that he “will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington.”

That message made no reference to Mr. Biden or his son, just to Mr. Trump’s conviction that 2016 election meddling came from Ukraine, not Russia. Nor did it mention the frozen military aid.

Mr. Sondland has declined to comment, referring all questions to the White House. But he seems from the messages to have been instrumental in trying to get Mr. Trump what he wanted in a fashion that would get Mr. Zelensky the White House meeting he wanted, as well as the unfreezing of the military aid.

From the messages released, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., a career diplomat who had previously been ambassador to Ukraine from May 2006 to May 2009, was extremely uncomfortable with the implicit quid pro quo insisted upon by the White House.

Ukrainian “faith” in Washington was already shaken by the withholding of aid, Mr. Taylor said in a message to Mr. Sondland, and if in the end Ukraine made the statement Mr. Trump wanted and was denied the military assistance anyway, Mr. Taylor messaged, “the Russians love it. (And I quit.)”

Mr. Sondland’s predecessor, Anthony L. Gardner, appointed by President Barack Obama, said that such a special assignment to Ukraine was “extremely unusual,’’ since it has little to do directly with the European Union.

But Mr. Sondland told reporters last month that he saw Ukraine as among a handful of “low-hanging fruit” areas of policy where the European Union could work together with Washington.

The July visit was the third Mr. Sondland made to Ukraine. He was in Odessa in February and in Kiev again in May, when he attended Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, which Vice President Mike Pence was ordered not to attend by Mr. Trump.

Instead, the delegation was led by Mr. Perry and included Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. They then briefed Mr. Trump in the White House about Mr. Zelensky and his eagerness to combat corruption, but Mr. Trump was not convinced.

Mr. Sondland continued building a relationship with Mr. Zelensky, hosting him at a June dinner at the United States mission to the European Union in Brussels after a July 4 party that featured Jay Leno, who is a friend of Mr. Sondland.

The party and the dinner were also attended by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser; Mr. Perry; the Polish prime minister; and Ulrich Brechbuhl, a State Department counselor who is mentioned in the whistle-blower memo as having listened in to the July 25 telephone call.

On Aug. 9, according to the texts released, Mr. Sondland thought he was finally making progress on getting a date for the Zelensky visit to the White House. But he was unsure, messaging Mr. Volker: “I think POTUS really wants the deliverable,” meaning a public Zelensky statement about his commitment to investigate the Bidens and 2016.

Even though the Ukrainians seemed to agree, Mr. Trump still would not set a date for a meeting.

Mr. Perry, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Pence also met with Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw on Aug. 31, when Mr. Trump canceled his own visit, citing a hurricane. That meeting appeared routine, according to Mr. Perry’s readout.

“The Vice President reiterated the U.S.’ support of Ukraine’s security and rightful claim to Crimea,’’ the statement read. ‘‘President Zelensky articulated his administration’s commitment to defeating corruption and pledged to launch much anticipated reforms.”

On Sept. 1, Mr. Taylor texted Mr. Sondland: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Mr. Sondland responded by ending the text exchange and reverting to a telephone call.

But by Sept. 9, matters remained unclear. Mr. Taylor, the acting ambassador, messaged: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Mr. Sondland responded: “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.’’

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Behind Amazon’s Sudden Change in Its Film Strategy

Westlake Legal Group 07AMAZONFILM-01a-facebookJumbo Behind Amazon’s Sudden Change in Its Film Strategy Web-Original Programming The Aeronauts (Movie) Salke, Jennifer Movies Harper, Tom (1980- ) Amazon.com Inc

LOS ANGELES — “The Aeronauts,” an adventure film about swashbuckling 19th-century hot-air balloonists, was built for the big screen. Led by an Oscar winner, Eddie Redmayne, and a “Star Wars” star, Felicity Jones, it has real cinematic sweep, with sequences that take place miles above sea level. In May, Amazon Studios announced that the movie would play exclusively on IMAX screens for a one-week engagement before “a full theatrical run.”

“We look forward to giving our customers an unforgettable theatrical experience high above the clouds,” Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement at the time.

Two months later, Amazon scrapped the IMAX engagement and shrank the theatrical release. Under the new plan, “The Aeronauts” would have a two-week run in a small number of theaters before becoming available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, which is available to more than 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers.

The film’s director, Tom Harper, was disappointed by the move. “It’s not how it’s intended to be seen,” he said in an interview with The New York Times last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, where “The Aeronauts” received a standing ovation. “But it’s a changing world, and I want people to see the movie. If it were up to me, I’d tell them to see it in the theaters.”

The about-face also stunned the movie industry, partly because Amazon had been a friend to old Hollywood, more willing than the other tech giants to sign on for lengthy theatrical releases. Films from Amazon that spent months in theaters have included the two-time Oscar winner “Manchester by the Sea,” the acclaimed 2017 comedy “The Big Sick” and this summer’s “Late Night.”

With the change in plan for “The Aeronauts,” Amazon was behaving more like its streaming rival Netflix, which has favored delivering movies to its subscribers quickly, rather than giving the films long theatrical runs. And the abruptness of the shift contributed to questions that have been swirling among entertainment industry people about how the company’s entertainment unit, Amazon Studios, handles films.

The Amazon Studios television arm has distinguished itself with two Emmy-winning series, “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Under Ms. Salke, a former president of entertainment at NBC who took charge in 2018, it has also struck TV deals with name writer-producer-directors like Jordan Peele and Barry Jenkins, as well as the “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The awards and prominent production deals have overshadowed Amazon’s film division to some degree.

“On the film side, I still think they are figuring out what they want to be,” said Richard Greenfield, a co-founder of the LightShed Partners research firm.

Ms. Salke, 55, did not inherit a cinematic gold mine when she replaced Roy Price, who was ousted after an allegation of sexual harassment. Before she stepped in, the film division had been on a losing streak, with box-office flops from A-list directors like Richard Linklater and Todd Haynes.

In January, Ms. Salke attended the Sundance Film Festival for the first time as the Amazon Studios head — and the company went on a spree, shelling out significant sums for several films, including $14 million for “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a low-key, feel-good comedy now in theaters; another $14 million for “The Report,” a government cover-up drama starring Annette Bening and Adam Driver that will have a limited release in November; and $13 million for the domestic rights to “Late Night,” a comedy written by Mindy Kaling and starring Ms. Kaling as a neophyte TV writer and Emma Thompson in the role of an imperious talk show host.

With “Late Night,” Amazon hoped to repeat its success with “The Big Sick,” a Sundance pickup that grossed more than $56 million at the box office. At the height of its run, “Late Night” played on 2,200 screens across the country this summer.

Despite largely positive reviews and a $32 million marketing budget, audiences stayed away, and “Late Night” generated $15.4 million in domestic box office. The trade press pounced. IndieWire called the release “a disaster.” Variety said Amazon had been “thrown off-balance.”

Ms. Salke called the coverage “frustrating.” She also defended the “Late Night” acquisition, saying it has been streamed on Amazon Prime Video more than any other Amazon original film since it appeared on the service Sept. 6. She would not reveal specific figures.

When “Late Night” was still in theaters, Amazon parted ways with the company’s head of film marketing and distribution, Bob Berney, a Hollywood veteran whose four-year contract had expired. At roughly the same time, Amazon also changed course on “The Aeronauts,” a film with a budget of roughly $40 million that it had developed in house.

Along with her three co-heads of motion pictures — Ted Hope, Matt Newman and Julie Rapaport — Ms. Salke called the makers of “The Aeronauts” and told them that, instead of the exclusive IMAX engagement and extensive theatrical release in the United States, the film would open Dec. 6 at a limited number of theaters and start streaming Dec. 20. (Entertainment One, known as eOne, will distribute the film in Britain for a full theatrical run, including IMAX theaters.)

“With the accessibility of a movie like ‘The Aeronauts,’ we think we can make a bigger event out of it on Prime,” Ms. Salke said.

The decision to favor small-screen viewing was made at a time when theatrical distribution has become less of a sure thing. Moviegoers seem reluctant to go to theaters for films that do not belong to larger franchises or have a superhero or two in them, and box office revenue for the summer was down 2 percent from a year earlier.

“Given the state of the business, nobody is relishing the idea of having a movie out in theaters that, no matter what, the industry wants to talk about the underperformance of those movies,” Ms. Salke said.

But Amazon decided on the cinematic route for “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” which opened in five theaters in August and has played on more than 1,000 screens. So far, it has generated a modest $6.6 million, according to the website Box Office Mojo. Amazon has decided on a similar strategy for “Honey Boy,” which stars Shia LaBeouf and has received strong early reviews, with a plan to open it in a few theaters Nov. 8 before rolling it out across the country.

The differing strategies for “The Aeronauts” and the two smaller films go against conventional Hollywood wisdom, which holds that a spectacle like “The Aeronauts” should have a shot at big-screen success, while more intimate films are often suited for the direct-to-consumer approach.

Todd Black, an independent producer who has two films set up at Amazon, including a movie written by Aaron Sorkin about Lucille Ball, said he was rooting for Ms. Salke and her film team.

“They are learning and being more definitive about what they can and can’t do, will and won’t do,” he said. “But I feel like they need some help and they need a mission statement.”

Ms. Salke sounded confident in her vision: “My mission is clear. The details of it are in progress.”

And what is the mission?

“The mission is to align the movie side to the same values of trying to get premium content to the global consumer,” she said. “That’s what pays the bills. I will have streaming movies that I will deliver at a regular cadence to my customers globally.”

Starting in 2020, she added, those movies — as many as 30 a year — will come from three categories: young adult films, including a lesbian romance from the director Jennifer Kent; dark-themed thrillers from Blumhouse Productions, the company behind “Paranormal Activity” and “Get Out”; and films Ms. Salke once described as “sexy date-night movies,” now called provocative dramas, from collaborators like Nicole Kidman and her Blossom Films production house.

“I’m fully confident in the strategy,” Ms. Salke said. “I know what a global marketing campaign can do with a television series. I know what those numbers are.”

Ms. Salke has yet to replace Mr. Berney, who before joining Amazon ran the marketing campaigns for “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Passion of the Christ.” There seems to be little urgency at the company to find a new marketing and distribution executive.

Three people familiar with Amazon said the company had become something of an also-ran among those looking to change jobs in Hollywood. For one thing, the flip-flop on the release of “The Aeronauts” suggests a muddled vision for the film division’s future.

Of less concern but still an issue is the lack of perks the famously frugal company offers. For example, Amazon refuses to pay for first-class air travel, and although the stock options are generous, the people added, the salaries are on the low side. Even the parking lot in Culver City is a problem. Those who do not arrive early are often stuck parking at the nearby Trader Joe’s.

Mr. Black, the independent producer, said the film community should be patient. “They know they made some mistakes and everyone has them under a microscope,” he said. “No one should lose sight that they have a huge checkbook.”

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Facebook Refuses To Pull Trump Campaign Ad That Falsely Accuses Biden Of Corruption

Westlake Legal Group 5d9d8cb6200000da064fe53c Facebook Refuses To Pull Trump Campaign Ad That Falsely Accuses Biden Of Corruption

A video ad that falsely accuses Joe Biden of withholding $1 billion in aid to Ukraine to benefit his son has been viewed on Facebook millions of times since its release last month by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Biden, who’s vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, has urged Facebook to take the ad down, arguing that it spreads “objectively false information” and “poisons the public discourse.”

But Facebook, which has come under scrutiny for its role in spreading misinformation during the 2016 presidential election, has reportedly refused to pull the video, citing its “fundamental belief in free expression” and “respect for the democratic process.”

The New York Times, which first reported Facebook’s denial of Biden’s request, said Tuesday that the social media giant had sent a letter to the former vice president, saying the ad did not violate company policies.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s head of global elections policy, said in the letter, per the Times. 

Harbath’s letter echoed a similar sentiment expressed last month by Nick Clegg, former U.K. deputy prime minister turned Facebook vice president, who said in a speech in Washington that it’s not Facebook’s “role to intervene when politicians speak.”

The Biden campaign slammed Facebook’s decision regarding the ad as “unacceptable.” 

The dissemination of “objectively false information to influence public opinion poisons the public discourse and chips away at our democracy,” Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo told CNN in a statement. “Whether it originates from the Kremlin or Trump Tower, these lies and conspiracy theories threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections in America. It is unacceptable for any social media company to knowingly allow deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform.” 

The Trump ad being contested pushes a conspiracy theory that Biden ― according to a narrator in the clip ― “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company.” 

While it is true that the elder Biden, then serving as vice president, told Ukrainian leaders in 2016 to fire a top prosecutor if they wanted to get the aid, there’s no evidence that this demand had anything to do with his son, Hunter. 

Other than Facebook, the ad has also run on Twitter and YouTube; both of which told the Times that the ad complied with company policies. 

Biden’s campaign told CNN that it “would not rule out sending similar letters” to other social media sites requesting the ad’s removal from their platforms.

On TV, the ad has run on Fox News, which — like Facebook — denied a Biden campaign request to block the clip. CNN, however, has refused to run the ad.

Explaining that decision, a CNN spokesman said last week that the video “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets, including CNN.”

Facebook has come under fire from the Democratic National Committee, as well as other 2020 presidential hopefuls, for their refusal to block false statements or ads from political candidates. 

DNC CEO Seema Nanda told CNN last week that Facebook was allowing President Trump “to mislead the American people on their platform unimpeded.” 

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ― who, along with Biden, is considered one of the frontrunners in the race for the Democratic nomination for president ― criticized Facebook’s policies in a series of tweets.

“The public deserves to know how Facebook intends to use their influence in this election,” Warren wrote.

“For instance, Trump and Zuckerberg met at the White House two weeks ago. What did they talk about?” she added in a subsequent tweet. 

Warren suggested that Facebook had tweaked their misinformation policies to exempt politicians from fact-checking after this meeting with Trump. As Reuters noted, Warren has not offered any evidence to support this claim. 

“There’s no indication that Zuckerberg or Facebook executives have come to terms with the role their unpreparedness played” in the spread of misinformation during the 2016 election, Warren wrote. “Nor have they shown that they understand what needs to be done to prevent another attack in the 2020 election.” 

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GM Suppliers Hurting From Autoworkers Strike, Too

Westlake Legal Group ap_19274481475696-50fd0a27c1f08fbd584a4389f7b2cff5fc92182f-s1100-c15 GM Suppliers Hurting From Autoworkers Strike, Too

Many of the workers for businesses that supply GM are out of work, too, because of the UAW strike. Paul Sancya/AP hide caption

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Paul Sancya/AP

Westlake Legal Group  GM Suppliers Hurting From Autoworkers Strike, Too

Many of the workers for businesses that supply GM are out of work, too, because of the UAW strike.

Paul Sancya/AP

With the UAW strike against General Motors in its fourth week, the automaker is losing millions of dollars. So are the businesses that supply GM. Many of their workers have also been out of work for four weeks, but unlike the striking UAW workers, their plight is much less visible.

Lansing, Mich., has nine regional GM suppliers. These are companies that do everything from producing ads to making parts for GM’s cars and trucks. Altogether, that’s more than 6,000 jobs. Supplier jobs in Lansing outnumber GM jobs.

Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing has been putting out weekly estimates not only about how much money GM is losing, but also the strike’s effect on UAW workers and non-union employees working for GM suppliers.

Through last week, Anderson estimates that combined their losses will exceed $412 million. For suppliers across the country, that’s more than $30 million per day in lost wages.

“I mean if you got that many GM workers and suppliers, you’re going to feel it. And, nowhere is the concentration like Michigan,” said Patrick Anderson, the company’s CEO. “And it means white collar, blue collar, new collar — every kind of collar is affected by this and I am very concerned about Michigan going into a one-state recession.”

Feast or famine

In the fourth week of the strike, nearly 11,000 people in Lansing are feeling the economic pinch and being forced to drastically cut back.

Picketers cluster around the corner of Tony M’s, a blue-collar banquet hall and bar outside of the plant that makes Chevy Traverses and Buick Enclaves. Inside of the building, it’s deserted. The afternoon rush is just three guys and the bartender. Many of the regulars work for suppliers and haven’t worked since mid-September.

Tamara Farrell has been on the receiving end of cutbacks. She’s the co-owner of Tony M’s. Farrell says she’s had to stop serving third shift breakfast because all her regulars are out of work.

Farrell is also allowing UAW workers to picket outside on the corner. And, she said that’s helped business a little. But, there’s a hole where business from people who work for suppliers used to be, she said. “That business is gone. My morning breakfast — that was my morning breakfast.”

Michael Grimaldi isn’t surprised that Tony M’s is hurting for business.

He’s a skilled trade worker at Magna Dexsys, a supplier that makes bumpers and fascia for the Camaros, Cadillacs and Buicks made in Lansing. His income was slashed in the first couple weeks of the strike.

The $362 he collected for unemployment was barely 20 percent of his wage at Magna. And, he said, the number on the unemployment check hasn’t gone up much since he was off work at Lear Corp., another supplier in Flint, Mich., during another long strike over a decade ago.

“Being in the auto industry you kind of learn that it’s feast or famine,” Grimaldi said. “And just because things are going really well doesn’t mean that they always go well. So, you try to prepare. But you can never prepare for an unknown end to something.”

Grimaldi just went back to work because he does electrical work and maintenance that can be performed at any time. But he guessed 95 percent of his 500 or more coworkers at the plant are still out of work.

In a statement a spokesman for the company said, “a few of our GM-dedicated plants remain idle.”

Grimaldi said he’s worried about people working for suppliers who are in strike mode even though they didn’t vote to strike.

“And it’s like all the focus is on GM. That’s the spotlight. But, just outside the spotlight I’m watching in the dark, in the shadows, but nobody can see me because the spotlight is only so big. So, it’s tough and I’ve been literally talking about it with my wife, and with my friends. And we have not been mentioned at all. And, I mean, there’s people that are not going to be able to recover for a long time.”

Can they recover?

Kristin Dziczek is vice president of Industry, Labor and Economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

She said, it’s not only workers who won’t be able to recover. It’s also the businesses employing them. One of Dziczek’s biggest worries is, “Can they make this production up when the strike eventually does end? Is there an opportunity for the workers and for suppliers to make up this hole? And it’s getting to the point where they can’t, at least not in this year.”

Since the strike began officials at Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency estimate that a third of the 15,000 claims made through late September relate to the strike.

And that doesn’t include the nearly 20,000 UAW workers who are not eligible for unemployment. They began receiving $250 in strike pay last week.

For now, in places like Lansing, thousands of people who didn’t go on strike and aren’t represented in the talks remain out of work.

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In Montana, A Liberian Refugee Mounts U.S. Senate Challenge

Westlake Legal Group wilmot-collins_custom-645370a51e5fc54e9bf1377fbbcb35f806facf1f-s1100-c15 In Montana, A Liberian Refugee Mounts U.S. Senate Challenge

Wilmot Collins stands in the Helena City Commission chambers before a meeting. He moved to Montana in the early 1990s. Kirk Siegler/NPR hide caption

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Kirk Siegler/NPR

Westlake Legal Group  In Montana, A Liberian Refugee Mounts U.S. Senate Challenge

Wilmot Collins stands in the Helena City Commission chambers before a meeting. He moved to Montana in the early 1990s.

Kirk Siegler/NPR

In the early 1990s, Wilmot Collins and his wife Maddie, escaped the Liberian Civil War. Broke and starving, they ended up in Helena, Mont.

“Why do you think we fled?” Collins asked. “We fled because we wanted a second chance.”

Soon after moving to their first home, a neighbor knocked on their door and alerted Collins to hateful graffiti outside his house.

“On my wall was ‘KKK, Go back to Africa,’ ” Collins said.

This wasn’t the first racist threat he’s received since his resettlement in the U.S. and Montana. But ironically this moment, nearly 25 years ago, was when he knew Montana would be his home. That’s because that same morning, a brigade of neighbors showed up to help them clean the graffiti.

“People always say, ‘Oh man, you know you’re in Montana, do you experience racism down there?’ ” Collins said. “I say, ‘Yeah, but how your community reacts to what happens will determine whether you belong or not.’ “

Instead of moving, he and Maddie stayed and built themselves a new life. Collins started working as a janitor at a school, then became a substitute teacher, and eventually a social worker. On the side, he coached soccer and served on the United Way and other local boards. His wife is a nurse at the local VA hospital. They raised two kids in Helena.

His son, who went on to study political science at the University of Montana, urged him to consider entering politics not long after President Trump took office in 2017.

Collins’ rise was fast. Later that year, he narrowly defeated Helena’s entrenched mayor (the race is technically nonpartisan, but both men are Democrats), making history by becoming the capital city’s first black mayor since its incorporation. Now he has his eyes on a higher position: a U.S. Senate seat that Democrats lost in 2014, and had previously held for nearly a century.

Between his job, his family and mayoral duties, Collins squeezes in every minute he can to campaign.

For Collins, the strategy is to meet as many people as possible and make connections on common issues such as trade and student loan debt. His scope isn’t just Democratic-leaning towns like Helena, but also rural, conservative-leaning farming towns.

“The last thing I want to dwell on is race. It’s divisive, and I don’t want to deal with that,” Collins said.

But he’s had to. When Trump tweeted that four Democratic lawmakers of color should “go back to the countries they came from,” Collins’ possible opponent, Republican Sen. Steve Daines heartily backed the racist tweet with a pledge of support on his Twitter account.

Collins says the men showed their true colors.

“He’s trying to say because they’re black and brown, they need to go back to Africa, where I’m from,” Collins said. “But that’s wrong. I’m an American. I’ve served this country honorably.”

Staff for Daines did not make the senator available for an interview. In a statement, a spokesperson said Daines “looks forward to having a thoughtful discussion with Montanans on how to best protect our Montana way of life.”

While Wilmot Collins is considered a long shot, his campaign is not going unnoticed in an overwhelmingly white state that Trump won by more than 20 points.

Professor Tobin Miller Shearer runs the African American Studies program at the University of Montana, which boasts the third oldest such program at a public university in the country. Montana is also the least black state in the country, according to recent census figures.

“As a historian, I’m absolutely delighted, because this opens up a whole conversation about the history of race in Montana,” Shearer said.

Westlake Legal Group prof-tobin-miller_custom-f7f27b3c0de42017417a11ba12aeb03248de5a17-s1100-c15 In Montana, A Liberian Refugee Mounts U.S. Senate Challenge

Professor Tobin Miller Shearer stands at the decorated door of his office. Kirk Siegler/NPR hide caption

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Kirk Siegler/NPR

Westlake Legal Group  In Montana, A Liberian Refugee Mounts U.S. Senate Challenge

Professor Tobin Miller Shearer stands at the decorated door of his office.

Kirk Siegler/NPR

He believes Collins’ run will force Montanans to confront — and discuss — what’s been a long and violent history of racism and KKK activity in the Northwest.

This largely white region has been a hotbed for extremism for more than a century. Hate group monitors such as the Montana Human Rights Network are reporting a recent spike in white nationalist sentiment and recruitment, particularly in rural areas since 2016.

The group’s co-director Rachel Carroll-Rivas says that Wilmot Collins’ candidacy is being met with excitement and anxiety.

“I think there’s a reason to be concerned for the safety of people of color, including immigrants right now in Montana, in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S., because of the vitriolic scapegoating of immigrants and brown folks by activists and elected officials,” Carroll-Rivas said.

She believes that Collins is doing precisely what he should to respond to hate: being out in the open, surrounded by friends.

At least in Helena, that’s easy. Collins appears to know just about everyone.

“I think it’s time that somebody steps up to the plate to bring some civility back. I think it’s time that somebody who wants to represent the whole of Montana steps up,” Collins said.

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Chance The Rapper’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Is One Big Name-Drop

Westlake Legal Group 5d9d992a210000c307342b50 Chance The Rapper’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Is One Big Name-Drop

In “The Late Late Show” bit that aired Tuesday night, the Grammy-winning musician spilled the beans to host James Corden on his friendships with former President Barack Obama and fellow rap stars Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Chance revealed how Obama and Jay-Z are a little hard to get hold of on the phone. He does have a direct line to West, however, but admitting to facing a “spiritual battle” when deciding to follow one of his whims.

Corden also served up Chance (who revealed he hates vegetables) a platter of veggies ― while Chance broke down the totally non-confrontational way he deals with receiving an unsatisfactory verse from a collaborator on a song.

Check out the segment here:

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Federal trade commission temporarily halts ‘misleading’ real-estate seminar endorsed by HGTV personalities

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_5804491665001_5804490439001-vs Federal trade commission temporarily halts 'misleading' real-estate seminar endorsed by HGTV personalities New York Post Lindsey Kupfer fnc/real-estate fnc article 2ac32a20-0a2a-51e3-8456-137b53df4e8e /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/REAL ESTATE

The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to shut down a Utah-based company that runs a real estate seminar — which has been endorsed by HGTV stars, including “Flip or Flop’s” Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead — that the group says is “misleading” and “bogus.”

On Friday, a federal court agreed to put a temporary restraining order against Zurixx, LLC, which, according to the FTC, “used deceptive promises of big profits to lure consumers into real estate seminars costing thousands of dollars.”

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The complaint, which was filed by the FTC and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, says Zurixx would hold free events that were endorsed by the “Flip or Flop” stars, as well as Hilary Farr from HGTV’s “Love It or List It” and Peter Souhleris and Dave Seymour from A&E’s “Flipping Boston.” Once at the event, the presenters would then pitch the group’s three-day workshop that cost $1,997 and promised to teach customers how to “make substantial income from real estate.” At the pricey workshops, presenters encouraged attendees to open new credit cards and increase card limits, and also peddled products and services that could cost up to $41,297, according to the FTC.

“From start to finish, these defendants used the promise of easy money and in-depth information to lure consumers down a path that could cost them thousands of dollars and put them in serious debt,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When a company tells consumers they have the secret to get rich with little work, we encourage consumers to take a hard look at what’s really being offered.”

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The FTC alleges consumers could only get a refund from the company if they signed an agreement prohibiting them from “speaking with the FTC, state attorneys general, and other regulators; submitting complaints to the Better Business Bureau; or posting negative reviews about Zurixx.”

Zurixx told the Associated Press in a statement that the organization anticipates “a positive outcome as we work directly and openly with the agencies involved.” HGTV did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.

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This article originally appeared in the New York Post.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_5804491665001_5804490439001-vs Federal trade commission temporarily halts 'misleading' real-estate seminar endorsed by HGTV personalities New York Post Lindsey Kupfer fnc/real-estate fnc article 2ac32a20-0a2a-51e3-8456-137b53df4e8e /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/REAL ESTATE   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_5804491665001_5804490439001-vs Federal trade commission temporarily halts 'misleading' real-estate seminar endorsed by HGTV personalities New York Post Lindsey Kupfer fnc/real-estate fnc article 2ac32a20-0a2a-51e3-8456-137b53df4e8e /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/REAL ESTATE

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Chance The Rapper’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Is One Big Name-Drop

Westlake Legal Group 5d9d992a210000c307342b50 Chance The Rapper’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Is One Big Name-Drop

In “The Late Late Show” bit that aired Tuesday night, the Grammy-winning musician spilled the beans to host James Corden on his friendships with former President Barack Obama and fellow rap stars Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Chance revealed how Obama and Jay-Z are a little hard to get hold of on the phone. He does have a direct line to West, however, but admitting to facing a “spiritual battle” when deciding to follow one of his whims.

Corden also served up Chance (who revealed he hates vegetables) a platter of veggies ― while Chance broke down the totally non-confrontational way he deals with receiving an unsatisfactory verse from a collaborator on a song.

Check out the segment here:

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com