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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 178)

Jeffrey Epstein’s Donations Create a Schism at M.I.T.’s Revered Media Lab

Joichi Ito gave himself some advice in 2008: “Reminder to self,” he wrote on Twitter. “Don’t invest with or take money from assholes.”

Then, over the next decade, he accepted about $1.7 million from Jeffrey Epstein.

That money from Mr. Epstein, the disgraced financier who killed himself in jail last month while facing federal sex-trafficking charges, was split between Mr. Ito’s own investment funds and the prestigious center he leads at M.I.T., the Media Lab. His apology last month prompted two academics to announce plans to leave and led to calls for Mr. Ito to step down from the lab, an institution that is proudly indifferent to scholarly credentials and seeks a future marrying technology and social conscience.

On Wednesday, at a meeting billed in an email as the start of “a process of dialogue and recovery” that two attendees said had begun with a group breathing exercise, the rift was unexpectedly pulled open just as it appeared to be closing.

Roughly 200 people gathered to address the lingering anger at Mr. Ito — a tech evangelist whose networking skills landed him in the White House to discuss artificial intelligence with President Barack Obama and prompted the psychedelic proselytizer Timothy Leary to call him his godson. Mr. Ito, who has helped the lab raise at least $50 million, revealed that he had taken $525,000 from Mr. Epstein for the lab and $1.2 million for his own investment funds.

“The division I’ve caused among the students created a tremendous amount of damage,” Mr. Ito said, according to the two attendees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting.

But before the session could end, the divide got deeper.

Nicholas Negroponte, a prominent architect who helped found the lab in 1985, told the crowd that he had met Mr. Epstein at least once since Mr. Epstein’s 2008 guilty plea in Florida for soliciting a minor for prostitution, and had advised Mr. Ito about the donations.

“I told Joi to take the money,” he said, “and I would do it again.”

The words stunned the crowd, just before the meeting adjourned. Mr. Ito saw the comments as so damaging to his conciliatory efforts that he fired off a message to Mr. Negroponte just after midnight. “After I spent 1.5 hours apologizing and asking permission to make amends, you completely undermined me,” Mr. Ito wrote in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times.

Mr. Ito did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. Negroponte said in an email to The Times after the meeting that he would give that advice knowing only what he knew at the time, without the benefit of hindsight.

Mr. Ito said during the meeting that he had visited Mr. Epstein’s Caribbean island twice to raise money, which he has pledged to return or donate to causes that support sex-trafficking victims. He also acknowledged that he had “screwed up” by accepting the money, but that he had done so after a review by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and consultation with advisers.

The university has begun an inquiry into the donations. Its provost, Martin A. Schmidt, has couched the review as an attempt to “identify lessons for the future” rather than “an investigation of any particular individual.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160233828_f1dca752-aa54-4f29-9fda-6e1de8eac6f9-articleLarge Jeffrey Epstein’s Donations Create a Schism at M.I.T.’s Revered Media Lab Reif, L Rafael MIT Media Lab Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lloyd, Seth Ito, Joichi Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Colleges and Universities Cambridge (Mass)

Nicholas Negroponte, a founder of the Media Lab, in 2015. He told the crowd at the meeting on Wednesday that he had advised the lab’s director, Joichi Ito, to accept Mr. Epstein’s offer of money.CreditPier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Other organizations have also stood behind Mr. Ito. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he has been on the board since 2011, said in a statement that it believed his apology “is sincere.” The MacArthur Foundation said Mr. Ito “has addressed his associations in a manner that warrants no action by the foundation at this time.” The New York Times Company, where Mr. Ito has been a board member since 2012, declined to comment for this article.

Mr. Ito is far from the only notable figure whose relationships with Mr. Epstein has drawn scrutiny and caused soul-searching. The financier’s ties to people like President Trump, former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and a number of well-known scientists have led to pointed questions. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned after an outcry over his role in Mr. Epstein’s 2008 plea deal.

Mr. Ito has been a popular figure at the lab since taking over in 2011, pulling it out of a postrecession lull while dazzling students and well-heeled donors alike. He has continued to receive broad support even after disclosing the donations; more than 200 signed a petition urging him to stay on.

Lab members who defend him said academia had a long history of accepting funding from dubious characters. And Mr. Negroponte told The Times that he had sought donations from disgraced figures, including Alberto Vilar, a major donor to the Metropolitan Opera who served time in jail for financial crimes.

The lab “attracted edgy people,” Mr. Negroponte said. “Some were scoundrels.”

The lab’s contrarian ethos runs deep — Mr. Negroponte called it “literally a place for misfits” — where Mr. Ito’s unorthodox background was celebrated.

Mr. Ito dropped out of Tufts University and the University of Chicago, ran a Tokyo nightclub called XY Relax and led a series of internet companies — as well as a guild in World of Warcraft, the online role-playing game. He had an eye for good ideas, investing early on in Twitter, Kickstarter and Flickr, but it was his mastery of cultivating relationships that was especially valuable to the lab.

Reid Hoffman, a founder of LinkedIn, once said Mr. Ito “makes well-networked professionals look like hermits.” His mentors include Lawrence Lessig, the influential law professor and founder of Creative Commons, the nonprofit advocate for public intellectual property rights, where Mr. Ito was once chief executive. His online photo albums include pictures of the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the astronaut Leland Melvin and the filmmaker J. J. Abrams, a “director’s fellow” at the lab. And when Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, toured the United States last year — before the death of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi — he attended a reception at the Media Lab.

It was perhaps inevitable that Mr. Ito would meet Mr. Epstein, another prolific networker. Both men attended the 1999 Billionaires’ Dinner, an annual event put on by the literary agent John Brockman, and belonged to the invitation-only Trilateral Commission in 2003.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Ito said he had met Mr. Epstein in a hotel lobby during a conference in 2013, five years after Mr. Epstein’s plea in Florida. Mr. Epstein long cultivated relationships with celebrity scientists, many of whom Mr. Ito also knew, and eagerly associated himself with the Media Lab. In 2014, he issued news releases about donations to restore Mark Rothko murals on the campus and teach coding to 5-year-olds. (The Media Lab later called those statements inaccurate.)

The lab served as an avenue for Mr. Epstein to seek connections to the wider tech world.

Elizabeth Stark, the chief executive of the cryptocurrency start-up Lightning Labs, was not affiliated with the lab but knew Mr. Ito and several others there. When she was raising money for her company in 2015, someone at the lab contacted her and offered to invest Mr. Epstein’s money. Ms. Stark found a news article about Mr. Epstein’s history and turned it down.

“In five minutes I was able to Google and make a determination that seemed like such a no-brainer,” she said.

Mr. Ito, shown in 2016, said accepting money from Mr. Epstein had been a mistake, two people who attended the meeting said.CreditAkio Kon/Bloomberg

Critics who called for Mr. Ito’s resignation cited his decision to ignore warnings about Mr. Epstein.

Ethan Zuckerman, a longtime friend of Mr. Ito’s who said he would leave the lab over Mr. Epstein’s donations, wrote in an online post that he had rejected an invitation from Mr. Ito to meet Mr. Epstein in 2014, and had urged Mr. Ito to do the same. Sarah Szalavitz, a social designer and external fellow at the lab, said in an interview that she had told Mr. Ito in December 2013 that the lab should stop collaborating with Mr. Epstein, and had given him a memo outlining her concerns.

Mr. Ito did distance himself from Mr. Epstein eventually, after a damning article in The Miami Herald last year about Mr. Epstein’s 2008 plea deal. Mr. Ito told the gathering that Mr. Epstein had sent a $25,000 check to the lab, which he had promptly returned.

Rosalind Picard, who runs a research group at the lab, said Mr. Ito — who once gave a fellowship to a convicted murderer turned community activist — had believed Mr. Epstein’s claims of being reformed.

“Joi recognizes that not everybody takes the straight and narrow path, and that sometimes people need the chance to redeem themselves,” she said. “He didn’t know Epstein was the monster we now know he was.”

Mr. Epstein’s contributions have already disrupted the lab’s work. It will not hand out this year’s Disobedience Award — a $250,000 prize that has recognized #MeToo activists and others “challenging the norms, rules or laws that sustain society’s injustices” — as Mr. Ito focuses on “healing the Media Lab community,” according to an email he sent that was reviewed by The Times.

One person who was on the award committee, the writer and former Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, told his fellow members in an email he would not participate in 2020 unless the lab was purged of people tied to Mr. Epstein.

“A plutocratic predator was welcomed into a citadel of American thinking and doing, and this welcome was personally exploited beyond the original relationship,” he wrote.

For many associates of the lab, the situation remains complicated. Mr. Zuckerman, who pledged to leave next year, expressed support on Twitter for those who had spoken up, “including those who think Joi’s apology was sufficient and we should move on.

Mr. Negroponte’s comments could make that more challenging than it might otherwise have been. On Thursday, three prominent professors who had organized the meeting to buttress support for Mr. Ito sent a message to the lab disavowing Mr. Negroponte’s comments.

“While we appreciate what he has done for the lab in the past, he no longer speaks for us,” they wrote in the email, which was reviewed by The Times. “And through his behavior he has demonstrated that he has no part in building the future we want.”

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Russian, Italian charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from US aviation company

Westlake Legal Group US-Manufacturing-Bright-Outlook Russian, Italian charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from US aviation company Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/justice-department fox news fnc/us fnc article 9df31d6c-bf43-5315-b088-cb3161855666

A Russian national and an Italian national were charged earlier this month with conspiring and attempting to steal trade secrets from American company GE Aviation, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov, 57, and Maurizio Paolo Bianchi, 59, were alleged to have hired consultants for jet engine accessory work between 2013 and 2018 who used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation when they created their report to pass off as their own, the DOJ said. GE Aviation is a subsidiary of General Electric and is based in Ohio.

“Throughout the consulting, employees allegedly used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation to create the technical report. The effort focused on accessory gearboxes made by Avio Aero, which are external engine components that provide power to systems such as hydraulic pumps, generators and fuel pumps,” the department explained. The employees were current or former employees of GE Aviation’s Italian subsidiary.

The employees’ report said “the holders of patent and intellectual property obtained as a result of the work are […] the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation,” when GE Aviation actually owned the intellectual property.

DOJ SENDS GUN LEGISLATION PACKAGE TO WHITE HOUSE AS DEBATE RAGES OVER MASS SHOOTINGS

Korshunov previously served as a public official in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was an employee of a Russian state-owned company, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, which was unsealed Thursday. He was arrested Friday at the Naples International Airport in Italy.

The affidavit said Korshunov met with the employees at the Paris Air Show in June 2013, and in Milan in 2014, so they could discuss the report.

WHITE HOUSE, DOJ WORKING TO EXPEDITE DEATH PENALTY FOR MASS SHOOTERS

Korshunov was employed at United Engine Corp (UEC), which included the subsidiary Aviadvigatel – a branch of the Russian state-owned company, the DOJ said.

The State Department of Commerce noted last year that Aviadvigatel had acted “contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

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Bianchi was a former director at one of GE Aviation’s Italian subsidiaries and was responsible for business in Asia, China and Russia. He later worked for Aeronova in Italy.

Korshunov and Bianchi could each face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Westlake Legal Group US-Manufacturing-Bright-Outlook Russian, Italian charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from US aviation company Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/justice-department fox news fnc/us fnc article 9df31d6c-bf43-5315-b088-cb3161855666   Westlake Legal Group US-Manufacturing-Bright-Outlook Russian, Italian charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from US aviation company Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/politics/justice-department fox news fnc/us fnc article 9df31d6c-bf43-5315-b088-cb3161855666

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Harrowing New Details Emerge About California Dive Boat Fire That Killed 34

Westlake Legal Group 5d71a3673b0000e540cfaf10 Harrowing New Details Emerge About California Dive Boat Fire That Killed 34

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The crew of a scuba diving boat that sank off the coast of Southern California made several attempts to rescue the 34 people who were trapped by fire below decks and died, federal authorities said Thursday.

All those lost in the Labor Day tragedy aboard the Conception were sleeping in a bunkroom below the main deck when fire broke out around 3 a.m. The captain and four crew members above survived, but none of them have spoken publicly about what happened.

The crew members told investigators in “very lengthy, detailed, comprehensive interviews” what Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, called “a harrowing story of the moments before the fire erupted on the vessel.”

One said he awoke to a noise and saw flames “erupting” from the ship’s galley below, Homendy said. He tried to get down a ladder, but flames had already engulfed it.

Crew members then jumped from the ship’s bridge to its main deck — one breaking a leg in the effort — and tried to get through the double doors of the galley, under which the ship’s 33 passengers and a 26-year-old crewmember slept.

With the galley’s doors on fire, they then went around to the front of the vessel to try and get through windows but couldn’t.

“At that point, due to heat, flames and smoke, the crew had to jump from the boat,” Homendy said.

Two members jumped overboard and swam to the back of the vessel to retrieve a skiff and rescue the remaining crew. They steered the skiff to a boat anchored nearby and called for help and then returned to the Conception to see if they could rescue any survivors. None were found.

The 34 victims died after flames above deck blocked the one stairway and the hatch leading from sleeping bunks to the upper decks and gave those below virtually no chance of getting out, authorities have said.

One victim’s body remained missing Thursday as federal investigators continued to interview the crew of the Conception.

Authorities said they are examining potential ignition sources of a deadly fire on the scuba diving boat, including electronics aboard the vessel. Investigators know photography equipment, batteries and other electronics were stored and plugged in on the Conception.

“We are not ruling anything out at this point,” she said.

Homendy also said she had inspected a vessel similar to the Conception and was concerned about the accessibility of its emergency exit hatch and possible difficulties getting to safety.

The Conception had been in full compliance with Coast Guard regulations, officials said.

Also Thursday, the owners of the dive boat filed a lawsuit to avoid liability in the case.

Truth Aquatics Inc., which owned the Conception, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court under a pre-Civil War provision of maritime law that allows it to limit its liability. The lawsuit argues the company and owners Glen and Dana Fritzler made the boat seaworthy and the craft was properly manned and equipped.

The federal investigation continued as divers resumed a search for the last victim who remained missing. Divers have pulled 33 bodies from the seabed and the charred wreckage of the sunken, overturned boat.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom identified two of the victims as Adrian Dahood-Fritz and her husband Andrew Fritz. Dahood-Fritz had worked for the California Natural Resources Agency’s Ocean Protection Council since April as a senior environmental scientist.

“Adrian led the state’s efforts to manage California’s network of marine protected areas, and she cared deeply about the ocean and biodiversity,” Newsom said in a statement. “She embodied marine conservation and was a highly accomplished and respected scientific researcher.”

The other victims included two high schoolers, a hairdresser, marine biologist, software engineers, special effects designer for Disney, nature photographer, nurse and family of five celebrating a birthday.

Their common love of scuba diving led them to the ruggedly beautiful coastline of the Channel Islands for a three-day excursion planned through Labor Day.

Five crew members, including the captain, were above deck and managed to escape. Officials said they expected to interview the captain Thursday.

The only crew member to die was Allie Kurtz, 26, who quit her corporate job at Paramount Pictures to work on dive boats. Kurtz, who grew up in Illinois, had recently been promoted to deckhand.

“Her love was just always, always the water,” Kurtz’s grandmother, Doris Lapporte, 71, said. “She would joke, ‘I am going to be a pirate one day.’”

Four crew members were given tests for alcohol, which were negative, and all five survivors had drug tests and the results are pending, Homendy said.

The Conception wasn’t required by federal regulations to have fire sprinklers aboard, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Other California divers have said Truth Aquatics, which owned the Conception, and its captains were very safety-conscious and the tragedy shocked the industry.

Cheryl Babineau, owner of Pro Scuba Dive Center in Scotts Valley, California, and a certified diver for 45 years, said boat passengers sometimes tune out when the captain and crewmembers review safety instructions for a dive trip. She expects that will change. 

 “I think now people will pay a lot more attention,” she said. 

The boat’s owner and others were interviewed for hours as the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the fire, Homendy has said.

Those killed included Apple engineer Steve Salika and his wife, Diana Adamic, who went on the trip with their daughter Tia Salika to celebrate her 17th birthday, company senior vice president Deirdre O’Brien told The Mercury News newspaper. Apple colleague Dan Garcia joined them.

Tia was with Berenic Felipe, a fellow student at Pacific Collegiate Charter School in Santa Cruz, according to a letter sent to the school community obtained by NBC News.

Also aboard was visual effects designer Charles McIlvain, who was known for his work on films such as “Spider-Man” and “Green Lantern.”

Lisa Fiedler was a 52-year-old hairdresser and photographer from Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, her mother, Nancy Fiedler, told San Francisco’s ABC affiliate, KGO television.

San Francisco-based education platform Brilliant confirmed that senior software engineer Carrie McLaughlin and Kristian Takvam, vice president of engineering, were aboard.

Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers John Antczak and John Rogers in Los Angeles and Janie Har in San Francisco, Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, California, and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this story.

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Trump and Sharpie’s Maker Land in Different Kind of Storm

Westlake Legal Group 05dc-sharpie-facebookJumbo Trump and Sharpie’s Maker Land in Different Kind of Storm United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Pens and Pencils Newell Brands Inc Cross (A.T.) Company Alabama

WASHINGTON — The pen has never been mightier. President Donald Trump’s Sharpie pen, that is.

Mr. Trump’s suspected use of a signature black Sharpie to alter a hurricane map has prompted thousands of mocking tweets, late-night comedy jokes and a viral internet meme. It has also further fused a staple of American homes and offices with the image of a highly divisive president, showing that even a humdrum marker maker can be swept up in the constant furor surrounding the Trump White House.

Mr. Trump is a longtime user of the Sharpie pen, whose thick, bold imprint is a visual reflection of Mr. Trump’s blunt — some might say crude — style. Well before he was president, he regularly used the pens to sign autographs, write notes and mark up printed news articles before sending them back to their authors.

As president, Mr. Trump appears more enamored of the pens than ever, using them to sign his name to proclamations and legislation in his distinctive EKG-style signature. He has even had the company custom design a presidential version of its iconic pen, emblazoned with his signature, for his official use.

The free publicity Sharpie has enjoyed during the Trump era, and especially in the day since the appearance of the altered hurricane map, is almost impossible to calculate. But that attention has taken on a different tone this week, with some Trump critics even calling (perhaps jokingly) for a boycott of the pen maker, which is owned by the conglomerate Newell Brands.

In public, at least, the brand has not exactly reveled in the president’s embrace: The official Sharpie Twitter account has not mentioned Mr. Trump since his election. Representatives for the company and the White House did not offer comment.

The current frenzy erupted after Mr. Trump displayed a map in the Oval Office on Wednesday showing the early path of Hurricane Dorian, with what appeared to be a Sharpie-drawn line extending the projected storm path into the state of Alabama. Mr. Trump had been criticized for stating days earlier that the state was at risk from the storm when federal weather forecasters had said no such thing, and the doctored map appeared to be an effort to retroactively justify Mr. Trump’s tweet.

The story raged into another day on Thursday as Mr. Trump defended himself on Twitter, and his White House homeland security adviser, Peter Brown, issued an unusual statement appearing to accept responsibility for the larger flap. Mr. Brown said the president’s warnings on Sunday that Alabama was in danger from the storm were based on a briefing he had given the president that morning “that included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”

Since the altered map’s display on Wednesday, Twitter has been ablaze with ridicule of the apparently crude effort to align the facts with the president’s prior statement, including the emergence of a #sharpiegate hashtag and a viral meme in which other images are doctored with thick black lines, including one in which Mr. Trump’s face is crudely scrawled onto Mount Rushmore and another in which stick figures appear in bare patches of aerial photos of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Some of Mr. Trump’s critics also used the opportunity to poke fun at his prized policy priority: the wall.

Mr. Trump has made no secret of the fact that he was not satisfied with the government-issued pens he was given for official signatures when he first arrived at the White House.

“I was signing documents with a very expensive pen and it didn’t write well,” Mr. Trump said on an HBO special produced by the political website Axios. “It was a horrible pen, and it was extremely expensive. A government-ordered pen.” He said that he had pulled out a standard Sharpie pen and concluded that it not only “writes much better,” but also “costs almost nothing.”

“So, I called up the folks at Sharpie and I said, ‘Do me a favor, can you make the pen in black? Make it look rich?’” he said. He then held up one of several thick black markers bearing his own signature, in gold, for the camera.

Over the course of his presidency, close observers have noted what appeared to be Sharpie lines in Mr. Trump’s signature on legislation, notecards at official events and markings on prepared remarks.

As of May, the Rhode Island-based pen company A.T. Cross was still identifying itself as the official pen supplier to the White House, a relationship formalized by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s but which the company says began decades earlier. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump was criticizing the company’s sleek ballpoint pens when he talked to Axios.

But in January 2017, the White House reportedly ordered 150 of the company’s Century II black lacquer and gold rollerball pens, which currently start at a retail price of $116. (Purchased in bulk, standard Sharpie markers can retail for less than a dollar apiece.)

A recent post on the company’s website suggested that Mr. Trump had not abandoned the classic pens. It referred to the Century II as “Mr. Trump’s current favorite model.”

In his remarks to Axios, Mr. Trump seemed conscious of the publicity he was giving even then to the makers of his favorite pen. As he touted its wonders, he paused for a moment and interjected: “I don’t want to make this a commercial for Sharpie.”

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Former McConnell aide: Kamala Harris’ support for eating less red meat would get panned at NFL opener

Westlake Legal Group Harris-Packers_Getty Former McConnell aide: Kamala Harris' support for eating less red meat would get panned at NFL opener fox-news/sports/nfl/green-bay-packers fox-news/sports/nfl/chicago-bears fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/shows/special-report fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 641aa81d-22f4-5400-a9dc-25dfa51acc42

Comments by presidential contender Kamala Harris about reducing red meat consumption to help the Earth may not go over well at Thursday’s NFL season opener, according to Josh Holmes.

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears might be the two teams with fan bases whose iconic eats wouldn’t mesh well with theidea advanced by Senator Harris, D-Calif., Holmes suggested Thursday on “Special Report.”

“We were joking in the break about what tonight’s football crowd between the Packers and the Bears would think about such a proposal,” he said.

“A large swath of the middle of this country would find that — and almost everything that was said last night during that climate conference –absolutely incredibly out-of-touch.”

GREEN BAY PACKERS’ AARON RODGERS DONATES HELMETS TO HIGH SCHOOLS HIT BY 2018 WILDFIRES

During the town hall — a marathon event on CNN focused on Democratic presidential hopefuls’ ideas to combat climate change —  Harris was pressed by moderator Erin Burnett on whether she’d support changing dietary guidelines to specifically reduce red meat.

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“Yes. Yes, I would,” she responded. “There has to be also what we do in terms of creating incentives that we will eat in a healthy way.”

Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., added that Harris’ comments on red meat reduction weren’t the only notable notions to come out of the town hall event.

“I was shocked that you could actually accrue that many political liabilities in one several-hour sitting,” he said.

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“What I did see, from the highlights, looked to me like an awful lot of people who are going to have trouble getting elected in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, the entire Midwest really.”

Later Thursday, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers travel to Chicago to take on Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears at 8:20 p.m. ET.

Westlake Legal Group Harris-Packers_Getty Former McConnell aide: Kamala Harris' support for eating less red meat would get panned at NFL opener fox-news/sports/nfl/green-bay-packers fox-news/sports/nfl/chicago-bears fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/shows/special-report fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 641aa81d-22f4-5400-a9dc-25dfa51acc42   Westlake Legal Group Harris-Packers_Getty Former McConnell aide: Kamala Harris' support for eating less red meat would get panned at NFL opener fox-news/sports/nfl/green-bay-packers fox-news/sports/nfl/chicago-bears fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/shows/special-report fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 641aa81d-22f4-5400-a9dc-25dfa51acc42

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Southern California fire grows to 2,000 acres; evacuations expanded

MURIETTA, Calif. – The Tenaja Fire continued to burn in Southern California on Thursday, charring some 2,000 acres and triggering mandatory evacuations for hundreds of residents, authorities said.

As of Thursday morning, the fire was 7% contained, Cal Fire said.

The fire broke out about 4 p.m. Wednesday in La Cresta, a community perched above Murrieta that contains sprawling, multimillion-dollar estates about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Cal Fire reported at about 3 p.m. Thursday that it had grown to 2,000 acres – about 3 square miles.

Cal Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera said as many as 400 firefighters responded to the blaze.

Mandatory evacuations remained in effect Thursday for parts of La Cresta. In addition, evacuations were ordered for parts of Murrieta.

Thursday afternoon, the fire appeared to expand to near Copper Canyon, where winds were expected to whip up.

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Stephanie Liesenfelt lives at the foot of the Copper Canyon hill, where flames burned Thursday afternoon. Her belongings were already packed. But she took one last precaution and hosed down her home.

“This may help, or it may not if embers come flying,” she said.

She was prepared to hold out for as long as possible but was ready to leave the moment firefighters asked.

“My stuff is not worth more than anyone’s life,” Liesenfelt said.

Dan Hoekstra said he watched as the flames grew near and “my wife started crying. She started crying and screaming for us to get out.”

They fled their home, but decided against leaving their neighborhood because they knew they wouldn’t be allowed back in. Instead, they sat in their car for about 20 “agonizing” minutes while their street was engulfed in smoke.

He eventually joined onlookers watching firefighters attack the flames by ground and air. Walking with his dog, Lottie, he returned to their home and found it intact.

Riverside County officials issued a health warning and urged residents to limit outdoor activities because of smoke and ash generated by the fire. Temecula and Lake Elsinore are among communities in the warning areas.

“Ash and smoke can be hard on anyone to breathe, but especially those with lung disease,” said Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer. “Everyone worries about the flames, but smoke can impact you even if you’re miles away from the fire.”

A battalion chief at the scene said the flames appeared to be headed toward an old burn scar, which could starve the flames of fuel overnight. A thunderstorm moved through the area just prior to the fire, and it was suspected that a lightning strike ignited it.

So far, no damage has been reported to Southern California Edison power poles and lines, according to Troy Whitman, who works in the agency’s fire management department.

Follow Shane Newell on Twitter:@journoshane

Follow Colin Atagi on Twitter: @tdscolinatagi

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After Breakneck Expansion, WeWork Stumbles as It Nears I.P.O.

Westlake Legal Group 05wework-facebookJumbo After Breakneck Expansion, WeWork Stumbles as It Nears I.P.O. WeWork Companies Inc Venture Capital Stocks and Bonds Initial Public Offerings Co-Working

In the cutthroat world of real estate, WeWork drew envy and admiration as it built an empire of sleek work spaces for freelancers, start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike.

The company planned to cash in on its breakneck expansion with an initial public offering of stock as soon as this month that was expected to give WeWork’s parent company a value that other real estate companies could only dream of.

But those plans now appear to be in jeopardy.

WeWork’s parent, the We Company, is considering selling its shares at a more than 50 percent discount to its valuation from earlier this year, according to two people familiar with the matter. And in recent days, the company has discussed having one of its biggest backers, the Japanese technology giant SoftBank, provide yet more cash and delaying the offering.

If the public offering stumbles or is delayed indefinitely, it would be a big turning point for the often-frothy world of private companies backed by venture capitalists. Skeptics of WeWork who looked on in disbelief at the We Company’s rapid growth — the business is the largest tenant in the Manhattan office space market — would surely feel vindicated.

And investors, many of whom have already grown wary of prominent companies like Uber and Lyft that have racked up billions of dollars in losses and do not appear to be close to turning a profit, may become even more cautious. Other unprofitable start-ups are also planning to go public soon, including Peloton, the fitness company, and SmileDirectClub, which makes teeth aligners.

“For real estate insiders, it is unsurprising to see the pushback on valuation,” said John Arenas, chief executive of Serendipity Labs, a rival of WeWork. He contended that WeWork’s financial statements, made public for the first time in August as part of the company’s regulatory filings, show that the company does not have any significant advantages over its competitors.

The We Company and its financial advisers are in talks to value the business at $20 billion to $30 billion, said three people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. The figure is well below the $47 billion valuation at which the company raised money as recently as January. Ultimately, the company could sell shares at a price that pegs its value closer to $20 billion, two of the people said.

“I can’t think of another I.P.O. where they halved the valuation,” said Reena Aggarwal, a finance and business professor at Georgetown University. “This certainly shakes up confidence and makes people pause.”

The We Company’s chief executive, Adam Neumann, met in Tokyo last week with executives at SoftBank, two of the people familiar with the matter said. They discussed how SoftBank could help by making an investment beyond the $10.5 billion it has already poured into the business.

Under one proposal, SoftBank would be a major buyer of shares sold in the public offering, which We Company has hoped would raise $3 billion to $4 billion. Under another, SoftBank would invest another large sum directly into the company, allowing it to delay the offering.

The people familiar with the matter said that the discussions were continuing and that nothing had been decided.

Analysts say WeWork deserves credit for moving aggressively to capitalize on an important shift taking place in the office space market. The company attracted customers, including big corporations like IBM and Microsoft, with cleanly designed modern office spaces. It has used enticements like free beer and salons and other social events to create a sense of community.

“We are a community company committed to maximum global impact,” the We Company said in a regulatory filing. “Our mission is to elevate the world’s consciousness.”

Instead of signing leases for several years, some businesses and professionals prefer shorter deals that offer them more flexibility. WeWork has established a reputation for quickly converting drab spaces into attractive locations.

But that costs money. The company and others are spending billions converting office buildings. The We Company has also made itself vulnerable to substantial financial risks that could be magnified in a recession.

The company leases space from landlords for an average of 15 years, then usually rents it out under contracts that run for less than two years on average. If WeWork were to lose a lot of customers, it would still have to make payments on the longer leases.

Last year, WeWork had an operating loss of $1.7 billion on $1.8 billion in revenue, partly because of the steep costs associated with outfitting the spaces it operates.

WeWork’s losses and the financial risk of its leases has led some real estate players to conclude that WeWork is worth even less than the reduced valuation it might now go public at.

“Why is it even worth $20 billion?” said Anthony E. Malkin, chairman and chief executive of the Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the Empire State Building, among other properties. His company has not leased space to WeWork.

The International Workplace Group, a large WeWork rival, has a stock market value of about $4.5 billion, even though it is profitable with roughly the same revenue as the We Company in the first half of this year. International Workplace, whose stock trades in London, also provides investors with important details about its operations that WeWork has not made available so far.

A botched I.P.O. could frustrate WeWork’s expansion plans and jeopardize its ability to borrow money. Banks have agreed to lend the company as much as $6 billion, but that commitment rests on the We Company raising at least $3 billion in the public offering.

“If they did not complete the I.P.O., we would need to potentially reconsider their credit profile,” said Kevin McNeil, an analyst at Fitch Ratings.

The company’s corporate governance has also faced criticism, in part because Mr. Neumann, the chief executive, has voting control. He also invested in properties that leased space to WeWork, creating a potential conflict of interest. Mr. Neumann later sold his stakes in the properties to an investment arm of WeWork.

In a move that underscored Mr. Neumann’s outsize role, WeWork said this week that he had given back $5.9 million he received from the company for the trademarks for the word “we.” In addition, Mr. Neumann’s wife, Rebekah Neumann, would have considerable influence over the choice of a new chief should he die or become permanently disabled.

“It’s not We Company, it’s the I company,” said Ken Bertsch, the executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents pension funds, endowments and other investors.

The We Company’s troubles could cause new headaches for SoftBank, which has invested in the company from its own coffers and through its nearly $100 billion Vision Fund. The value of SoftBank’s stake in Uber has fallen because of the ride-hailing company’s flagging stock price.

SoftBank is in the middle of raising money for a second Vision Fund.

Within SoftBank, opinions about WeWork appear to be split. Over the last two years, some executives argued in internal discussions that SoftBank should not invest more money in the company, according to two people familiar with those deliberations.

Some analysts said it would make sense for We Company to go public at a lower valuation. Such a move might increase the chances that the shares would perform well after the offering.

“WeWork is going to have to play nice with the equity markets if it wants to come back and get more equity in a year or two,” said Alex Snyder, a senior analyst at CenterSquare, a real estate investment firm.

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A Thick Black Line on a Hurricane Map Lands Trump and Sharpie’s Maker in a Different Kind of Storm

Westlake Legal Group 05dc-sharpie-facebookJumbo A Thick Black Line on a Hurricane Map Lands Trump and Sharpie’s Maker in a Different Kind of Storm United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Pens and Pencils Newell Brands Inc Cross (A.T.) Company Alabama

WASHINGTON — The pen has never been mightier. President Donald Trump’s Sharpie pen, that is.

Mr. Trump’s suspected use of a signature black Sharpie to alter a hurricane map has prompted thousands of mocking tweets, late-night comedy jokes and a viral internet meme. It has also further fused a staple of American homes and offices with the image of a highly divisive president, showing that even a humdrum marker maker can be swept up in the constant furor surrounding the Trump White House.

Mr. Trump is a longtime user of the Sharpie pen, whose thick, bold imprint is a visual reflection of Mr. Trump’s blunt — some might say crude — style. Well before he was president, he regularly used the pens to sign autographs, write notes and mark up printed news articles before sending them back to their authors.

As president, Mr. Trump appears more enamored of the pens than ever, using them to sign his name to proclamations and legislation in his distinctive EKG-style signature. He has even had the company custom design a presidential version of its iconic pen, emblazoned with his signature, for his official use.

The free publicity Sharpie has enjoyed during the Trump era, and especially in the day since the appearance of the altered hurricane map, is almost impossible to calculate. But that attention has taken on a different tone this week, with some Trump critics even calling (perhaps jokingly) for a boycott of the pen maker, which is owned by the conglomerate Newell Brands.

In public, at least, the brand has not exactly reveled in the president’s embrace: The official Sharpie Twitter account has not mentioned Mr. Trump since his election. Representatives for the company and the White House did not offer comment.

The current frenzy erupted after Mr. Trump displayed a map in the Oval Office on Wednesday showing the early path of Hurricane Dorian, with what appeared to be a Sharpie-drawn line extending the projected storm path into the state of Alabama. Mr. Trump had been criticized for stating days earlier that the state was at risk from the storm when federal weather forecasters had said no such thing, and the doctored map appeared to be an effort to retroactively justify Mr. Trump’s tweet.

The story raged into another day on Thursday as Mr. Trump defended himself on Twitter, and his White House homeland security adviser, Peter Brown, issued an unusual statement appearing to accept responsibility for the larger flap. Mr. Brown said the president’s warnings on Sunday that Alabama was in danger from the storm were based on a briefing he had given the president that morning “that included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”

Since the altered map’s display on Wednesday, Twitter has been ablaze with ridicule of the apparently crude effort to align the facts with the president’s prior statement, including the emergence of a #sharpiegate hashtag and a viral meme in which other images are doctored with thick black lines, including one in which Mr. Trump’s face is crudely scrawled onto Mount Rushmore and another in which stick figures appear in bare patches of aerial photos of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Some of Mr. Trump’s critics also used the opportunity to poke fun at his prized policy priority: the wall.

Mr. Trump has made no secret of the fact that he was not satisfied with the government-issued pens he was given for official signatures when he first arrived at the White House.

“I was signing documents with a very expensive pen and it didn’t write well,” Mr. Trump said on an HBO special produced by the political website Axios. “It was a horrible pen, and it was extremely expensive. A government-ordered pen.” He said that he had pulled out a standard Sharpie pen and concluded that it not only “writes much better,” but also “costs almost nothing.”

“So, I called up the folks at Sharpie and I said, ‘Do me a favor, can you make the pen in black? Make it look rich?’” he said. He then held up one of several thick black markers bearing his own signature, in gold, for the camera.

Over the course of his presidency, close observers have noted what appeared to be Sharpie lines in Mr. Trump’s signature on legislation, notecards at official events and markings on prepared remarks.

As of May, the Rhode Island-based pen company A.T. Cross was still identifying itself as the official pen supplier to the White House, a relationship formalized by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s but which the company says began decades earlier. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump was criticizing the company’s sleek ballpoint pens when he talked to Axios.

But in January 2017, the White House reportedly ordered 150 of the company’s Century II black lacquer and gold rollerball pens, which currently start at a retail price of $116. (Purchased in bulk, standard Sharpie markers can retail for less than a dollar apiece.)

A recent post on the company’s website suggested that Mr. Trump had not abandoned the classic pens. It referred to the Century II as “Mr. Trump’s current favorite model.”

In his remarks to Axios, Mr. Trump seemed conscious of the publicity he was giving even then to the makers of his favorite pen. As he touted its wonders, he paused for a moment and interjected: “I don’t want to make this a commercial for Sharpie.”

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NPR Names Veteran Media Executive John Lansing As Its New CEO

Westlake Legal Group john-lansing-bbg_wide-8b1be834dcc26603748dc20558c3be05b889a6b8-s1100-c15 NPR Names Veteran Media Executive John Lansing As Its New CEO

John Lansing, the chief executive officer and director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, will become NPR’s CEO in mid-October. U.S. Agency for Global Media hide caption

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U.S. Agency for Global Media

Westlake Legal Group  NPR Names Veteran Media Executive John Lansing As Its New CEO

John Lansing, the chief executive officer and director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, will become NPR’s CEO in mid-October.

U.S. Agency for Global Media

NPR has a new CEO. John Lansing, a veteran government broadcast and cable television executive, has been selected by NPR’s corporate board to succeed its current chief, Jarl Mohn.

Lansing, who is 62, is currently the chief executive of the government agency that oversees Voice of America, Radio and Television Marti, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, among others. He made his mark in his current job with stirring defenses of journalism, free from government interference.

Lansing will start in his new position in mid-October. He will be the 11th permanent president or chief executive in the radio network’s nearly 50-year history.

In an interview, Lansing said he wants to build on NPR’s successes in broadcast news and entertainment to become even more dominant in podcasting and more prevalent in streaming.

“When I think of NPR and I think of the member stations collectively, I think really of journalism as a public service, not tied to a profit motive,” Lansing told NPR News. He defined NPR’s mission as “serving the public with information and an excellence and quality about it that makes it ‘must see’ on a variety of platforms.”

A number of executives will report directly to Lansing, including Nancy Barnes, senior vice president for news and editorial director, who joined NPR last November and oversees the network’s newsroom.

Four years ago, Lansing was named by President Obama to be the first chief executive of the broadcasting outfit that was renamed the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Lansing has won plaudits from journalists for his rousing defense of a free press even while serving in the Trump administration, which has been notably hostile to traditional notions of the role of journalism in civic life.

He took over a troubled organization beset by infighting and bureaucratic inefficiency. He’s credited with restoring morale, in part by naming a noted journalist as head of the Voice of America: Amanda Bennett is a former top news executive at the Philadelphia Inquirer, who previously held senior newsroom jobs at Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal.

Lansing said he took pride in maintaining conventional broadcasts while appealing to new audiences, reaching about 25% more people each week.

“What you really want to do is be connected to people that are consuming content on something they’re holding in their hand, and aren’t necessarily tied to a TV set on a wall or a radio in a living room,” Lansing said. “Your mobility becomes extremely important to be involved and connected to audiences that are mobile and that tend to be, frankly, younger and, as we think of it at USAGM, future leaders, who can influence the rise of free and open societies.”

Lansing’s tenure at the agency has not been without controversy.

He held off a push by House Republicans to spin off Voice of America into a non-governmental broadcaster. Lansing also elevated a former U.S. State Department staffer to be chief strategy officer who recently pleaded guilty to having defrauded the U.S. Agency for Global Media of more than $40,000 in government money in 2018, according to federal prosecutors.

Lansing says the agency referred Haroon Ullah’s expenditures to auditors and investigators after travel assistants flagged them; according to the Justice Department statement, Ullah admitted submitting fraudulent receipts for hotel room reimbursements and fake medical claims to get government payments of upgrades in airline seat assignments, among other offenses.

Lansing previously held positions overseeing the Scripps Co.’s local television stations and then its national cable channels, which include the Food Network and HGTV, among others. For two years, he served as the president and CEO of a cable trade group called the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing.

He will now lead the nation’s top audio producer and broadcaster.

“In terms of mission, understanding of media, the depth of experience, his strategic leadership, his commitment to people and culture, I would say those were really the key things that we were looking for,” said Goli Sheikholeslami, vice chairwoman of the NPR board of directors and CEO of Chicago Public Media.

The challenges he will face at NPR are not dissimilar to challenges across the media landscape as a whole,” said Sheikholeslami, who will soon take up the CEO job at New York Public Radio.

NPR stands stronger than it did at the outset of Mohn’s five-year term in 2014. The network had run deficits in six of the seven previous years; under Mohn, it has achieved a slight surplus for each year during his tenure, even as the annual budget grew by more than 40%.

NPR draws more than 28 million listeners each week and 40 million unique monthly visitors to its website — both represent a rise of several million over those five years. NPR has also been the nation’s leading producer of podcasts, since Podtrac started measuring the audiences. NPR maintains 17 national bureaus and 17 bureaus abroad. It has won acclaim for its coverage of wars and disasters yet suffered its own crisis and tragedy in 2016 when NPR’s David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna were killed in southern Afghanistan on assignment. Mohn placed an emphasis on fostering a more collaborative dynamic with the public radio stations that NPR serves, and was given credit for making progress on that score.

Yet Lansing also takes over an institution riven by a scandal that hit its top reaches, with a chief news executive toppled over #MeToo complaints of inappropriate conduct toward female subordinates and colleagues. Mohn fired head of news Michael Oreskes on Halloween 2017. A later report commissioned by the NPR board found that questions had been raised about Oreskes’ behavior even before his hiring and that concerns were raised throughout his tenure; the repeated and formal warnings by top executives (including Mohn) to Oreskes to cut short the unwanted attention he paid to female colleagues proved ineffective.

NPR’s president of operations, Loren Mayor, was the leading internal candidate for the chief executive position. While serving as chief operating officer, she took on a greater role during two of Mohn’s medical leaves and in the aftermath of the sexual harassment scandal. She also has led initiatives to reform hiring practices and to sweep far more temporary positions into permanent slots, often working closely with the network’s chief unions to do so.

Mayor is said to be staying on at the network as a top executive and deputy to Lansing, retaining the enhanced portfolio she took on after Mohn’s health crises. Both Lansing and Sheikholeslami say he is adamant about pressing forward with reforms to the workplace culture at NPR that Mayor has already started to put in place.

NPR faces financial pressures from two fronts.

The network’s fight for listeners’ time has become more feverish. Others have waded into the podcast fray with a vengeance. The streaming platform Spotify paid nearly a quarter-billion dollars to buy the podcast producer Gimlet, founded by former staffers of NPR and other public radio outlets. And the The New York Times has won praise and new fans through its weekday podcast The Daily, with in-depth interviews of reporters and newsmakers.

The other is the fight for donors. Mohn had promised to attract major contributions to NPR before the end of his tenure; to date he has not landed the major eight- and nine-figure donations his stated aspirations suggested.

“Jarl would be the first to say that it is the area where he feels that his work was not complete,” Sheikholeslami said. “The combination of his health issues plus the situation with Mike Oreskes did derail his plans.”

That said, Mohn set higher annual expectations for the network in fundraising and agreed to be co-chairman of its 50th anniversary capital campaign. He has previously announced he would be staying on as president emeritus to help the network raise major gifts, and along with his wife, Pamela Mohn, he personally committed $10 million to the network.

Unlike some predecessors, Lansing doesn’t face a particularly fraught political landscape. Government support for the public radio system isn’t in any immediate jeopardy. NPR only takes a few million dollars a year from federal sources for its programs. While member stations on average receive about 10% of their funding from the federal government, fees from the stations make up a significant part of the NPR budget.

Lansing has earned an advanced degree in political agility. At the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Lansing championed a free press even as leaders of many nations move against it.

“Governments around the world are increasingly cracking down on the free flow of information; silencing dialogue and dissent; and distorting reality,” Lansing said in a speech he delivered in May to the Media for Democracy Forum. “The result, I believe, is a war on truth.”

He continued: “Citizens in countries from Russia to China, from Iran to North Korea, have been victimized for decades. But now we’re seeing authoritarian regimes expanding around the globe, with media repression in places like Turkey and Venezuela, Cambodia and Vietnam.”

Trump has notably praised authoritarian figures, including the leaders of North Korea, the Philippines, Russia and Turkey, and has waged his own fight against journalists.

While they do not broadcast within the U.S., the Voice of America and the other media outfits Lansing has overseen typically adhere to traditional concepts of factual, non-ideological journalism, with the frequent exception of Radio Marti — historically an anti-Castro and anti-Cuban communist outlet. The roots of the VOA involved providing truthful reports to people under Nazi and Axis power rule during World War II. The varied broadcasters also offered jazz and other music to appeal to people under communist regimes using a soft form of diplomacy. Their editorial independence is enshrined in federal law, though it sometimes came under attack.

Now Lansing says he wants to draw on the intellectual and creative impulses of his new staffers as he leads a domestic journalistic powerhouse with an international reputation and reach.

“I want to hear the ideas that are bubbling underneath right now and what people are excited about what they’re looking forward to developing,” Lansing said Thursday. “And I want to look for areas that I can provide leadership to bring resources together as needed strategically to find the right priorities that make the most sense for growing NPR this year and then into the future.

Disclosure: This story was reported by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik under guidance from NPR chief business editor Pallavi Gogoi. Under standard procedures for reporting on NPR matters, NPR’s corporate and news executives were not allowed to review what they reported until it was posted.

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Charleston, SC, mayor: Dorian flooding impact ‘significant,’ but ‘not as a significant as we thought they would be’

The mayor of Charleston, S.C., John Tecklenburg, said Thursday that the impact of Hurricane Dorian was “significant,” but that “the impacts from flooding were not as a significant as we thought they would be.”

Speaking with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on “Your World,” Mayor Tecklenburg said: “We had a little more wind than expected, but we had less water than we expected and that was a good thing. Flooding was our No. 1 concern.”

Charleston sits on a peninsula that is prone to flooding even from ordinary storms.

On Thursday, Hurricane Dorian started to make its way toward the Carolinas, bringing tropical storm conditions along the South Carolina coast and flooding in Charleston while the threat of tornadoes loomed in North Carolina.

HURRICANE DORIAN DEATH TOLL RISES TO 20 IN BAHAMAS AS PM ANNOUNCES HIS BROTHER’S DEATH

Westlake Legal Group CharlestonFlooding1 Charleston, SC, mayor: Dorian flooding impact 'significant,' but 'not as a significant as we thought they would be' Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/us fnc fdf5fcf9-ff38-59c2-b963-a3af2281befd article

Flooding was reported in Charleston, S.C. early Thursday as Hurricane Dorian neared the area. (Fox News)

Dorian decreased in force to a Category 2 storm as it swirled in the Atlantic Ocean. It had previously hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane before making a northward turn up the East Coast.

South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster, issued a mandatory evacuation for coastal counties, which went into effect at noon on Monday.

On Thursday afternoon, the governor’s office announced that the evacuation order had been lifted for three counties but remained in effect for five counties, including in Charleston.

Even though Tecklenburg acknowledged Thursday that the impact wasn’t as bad as had been anticipated, he told Cavuto: “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“Governor McMaster was absolutely right in what he did,” Tecklenburg said, responding to some backlash from people who did not agree with the governor’s evacuation order.

Tecklenburg went on to say: “He ordered everyone to leave. Probably about half the folks left, the others hunkered down and were safe indoors and were pretty respectful to stay off the streets as we asked them, so I haven’t had a single report of anyone being injured in my city, which I feel great about.”

TORNADOS HIT CAROLINAS AS HURRICANE DORIAN FLOODS CHARLESTON; 200K WITHOUT POWER

Although flooding and wind in Charleston weren’t nearly as bad as feared, Dorian toppled about 150 trees, swamped roads and brought down power lines, officials said.

Near Charleston, part of the metal roof of a James Island church blew off.

Westlake Legal Group Abaco-destruction-2 Charleston, SC, mayor: Dorian flooding impact 'significant,' but 'not as a significant as we thought they would be' Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/us fnc fdf5fcf9-ff38-59c2-b963-a3af2281befd article

Debris blankets the landscape in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, The storm’s devastation has come into sharper focus as the death toll climbed to 20 and many people emerged from shelters to check on their homes.  (AP Photo/Michael Weissenstein)

Dorian apparently spun off at least one tornado in North Myrtle Beach, damaging several homes. North Myrtle Beach is about two hours from Charleston.

Another twister touched down in the beach town of Emerald Isle, N.C., mangling and overturning several trailer homes. No injuries have been reported so far.

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Starting over Labor Day weekend, Dorian pounded the Bahamas with winds up to 185 mph and obliterated entire neighborhoods. At least 20 people were reported dead in the Bahamas because of Dorian.

Fox News Ryan Gaydos and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19248810397837 Charleston, SC, mayor: Dorian flooding impact 'significant,' but 'not as a significant as we thought they would be' Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/us fnc fdf5fcf9-ff38-59c2-b963-a3af2281befd article   Westlake Legal Group AP19248810397837 Charleston, SC, mayor: Dorian flooding impact 'significant,' but 'not as a significant as we thought they would be' Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/us fnc fdf5fcf9-ff38-59c2-b963-a3af2281befd article

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