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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 200)

More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says

More than 100 Islamic State militants who were being held in Kurdish prisons in Syria are now on the loose following Turkey’s invasion there, President Trump’s Special Representative for Syria Engagement revealed Wednesday.

James Jeffrey’s disturbing admission comes as Russian forces moved into Syria Wednesday to conduct joint patrols with Turkish troops along its border.

TRUMP ANNOUNCES ‘PERMANENT CEASEFIRE’ IN SYRIA BETWEEN TURKEY AND KURDS; LIFTS SANCTIONS ON ANKARA

“Let me ask you this: How many ISIS detainees have escaped? Does the U.S. have an idea where these individuals are?” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., asked Jeffrey during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

“We would say that the number is now over 100,” he responded. “We do not know where they are.”

TRUMP’S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO SYRIA SAYS US WITHDRAWAL DID NOT PROMPT INVASION BY TURKEY

Westlake Legal Group turkey-soldiers More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox news fnc/world fnc d5598b95-f90f-5350-a367-acb6122a0554 article

Turkish soldiers secure the Syrian town of Ras al Ayn, in northeastern Syria on Wednesday. (AP/DHA)

Jeffrey added that “almost all” of the prisons that the Kurdish forces have been guarding are secured and that U.S. officials are monitoring the situation “as best as we can.”

Before Turkey started carrying out a military operation in Syria on Oct. 9, Kurdish officials had been warning that such a prison breakout was possible.

The Kurds are estimated to be holding around 12,000 militants captured in the war against ISIS.

Jeffrey’s admission came hours before President Trump announced that conditions have been met between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for what he called a ” permanent ceasefire” between the two sides and that the United States is lifting sanctions on Ankara that were implemented following the invasion of northern Syria.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said that while a “permanent ceasefire” will be tough to maintain in the volatile region, he hopes that it will last and end the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

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“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said. “This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else…we’ve done something very, very special”

Westlake Legal Group turkey-soldiers More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox news fnc/world fnc d5598b95-f90f-5350-a367-acb6122a0554 article   Westlake Legal Group turkey-soldiers More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox news fnc/world fnc d5598b95-f90f-5350-a367-acb6122a0554 article

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Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by August, Undermining Trump Defense

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-aid-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by August, Undermining Trump Defense Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D United States Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Office of Management and Budget (US) Mulvaney, Mick Giuliani, Rudolph W Defense Department

KIEV, Ukraine — To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze a $391 million military aid package to Ukraine was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know the assistance had been blocked.

Following testimony by William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the freezing of the aid was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand for the investigations, the president took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to approvingly quote a Republican member of Congress saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

The problem was not a bureaucratic glitch, the Ukrainians were told then. To address it, they were advised, they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the interviews and records.

The timing of the communications about the issue, which have not previously been reported, shows that Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than United States and Ukrainian officials had acknowledged. And it means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations being sought by Mr. Trump.

The communications did not explicitly link the assistance freeze to the push by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani for the investigations. But in the communications, officials from the United States and Ukraine discuss the need to bring in the same senior aide to Mr. Zelensky who had been dealing with Mr. Giuliani about Mr. Trump’s demands for the investigations, signaling a possible link between the matters.

Word of the aid freeze got to the Ukrainians at a moment when Mr. Zelensky, who had taken office a little more than two months earlier after a campaign in which he promised to root out corruption and stand up to Russia, was off balance and uncertain how to stabilize his country’s relationship with the United States.

Days earlier, he had listened to Mr. Trump implore him on a half-hour call to pursue investigations touching on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Zelensky’s efforts to secure a visit to the White House — a symbolic affirmation of support he considered vital at a time when Russia continued to menace Ukraine’s eastern border — seemed to be stalled. American policy toward Ukraine was being guided not by career professionals but by Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Taylor told the impeachment investigators that it was only on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw between Mr. Zelensky and Vice President Mike Pence that the Ukrainians were directly told the aid would be dependent on Mr. Zelensky giving Mr. Trump something he wanted: an investigation into Burisma, the company that had employed Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son.

American and Ukrainian officials have asserted that Ukraine learned that the aid had been held up only around the time it became public through a news story at the end of August.

The aid freeze is getting additional scrutiny from the impeachment investigators on Wednesday as they question Laura K. Cooper, a deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. This month, Democrats subpoenaed both the Defense Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget for records related to the assistance freeze.

As Mr. Taylor’s testimony suggests, the Ukrainians did not confront the Trump administration about the freeze until they were told in September that it was linked to the demand for the investigations. The Ukrainians appear to have initially been hopeful that the problem could be resolved quietly and were reluctant to risk a public clash at a delicate time in relations between the two nations.

The disclosure that the Ukrainians knew of the freeze by early August corroborates, and provides additional details about, a claim made by a C.I.A. officer in his whistle-blower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.

“As of early August, I heard from U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned of it,” the anonymous whistle-blower wrote. The complainant said that he learned that the instruction to freeze the assistance “had come directly from the president,” and said it “might have a connection with the overall effort to pressure Ukrainian leadership.”

Publicly, Mr. Zelensky has insisted he felt no pressure to pursue the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

“There was no blackmail,” Mr. Zelensky said at a news conference earlier this month. He cited as evidence that he “had no idea the military aid was held up” at the time of his July 25 call with Mr. Trump, when Mr. Trump pressed him for investigations into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

Mr. Zelensky has said he knew about the hold up of the military aid before his meeting in Poland on Sept. 1 with Mr. Pence, but has been vague about exactly when he learned about it. “When I did find out, I raised it with Pence at a meeting in Warsaw,” he said this month.

In conversations over several days in early August, a Pentagon official discussed the assistance freeze directly with a Ukrainian government official, according to records and interviews. The Pentagon official suggested that Mr. Mulvaney had been pushing for the assistance to be withheld, and urged the Ukrainians to reach out to him.

The Pentagon official described Mr. Mulvaney’s motivations only in broad terms but made clear that the same Ukrainian official, Andriy Yermak, who had been negotiating with Mr. Giuliani over the investigations and a White House visit being sought by Mr. Zelensky should also reach out to Mr. Mulvaney over the hold on military aid.

A senior administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue said on Monday that Mr. Mulvaney “had absolutely no communication with the Ukranians about this issue.”

Ukrainian officials had grown suspicious that the assistance was in jeopardy because formal talks with the Pentagon on its release had concluded by June without any apparent problem.

In talks during the spring with American officials, the Ukrainians had resolved conditions for the release of the assistance, and believed everything was on schedule, according to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s former vice prime minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration.

But by early August, the Ukrainians were struggling to get clear answers from their American contacts about the status of the assistance, according to American officials familiar with the Ukrainians’ efforts.

In the days and weeks after top Ukrainian officials were alerted to the aid freeze, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were working with Mr. Giuliani to draft a statement for Mr. Zelensky to deliver that would commit him to pursuing the investigations, according to text messages between the men turned over to the House impeachment investigators.

The text messages between Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and the top Zelensky aide did not mention the hold up of the aid. It was only in September, after the Warsaw meeting, that Mr. Taylor wrote in a text message to Mr. Sondland, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

After being informed on Sept. 1 in Warsaw that the aid would be released only if Mr. Zelensky agreed to the investigations, Ukrainian officials, including their national security adviser and defense minister, were troubled by their inability to get answers to questions about the freeze from United States officials, Mr. Taylor testified.

Through the summer, Mr. Zelensky had been noncommittal about the demands from Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Giuliani for a public commitment to the investigations. On Sept. 5, Mr. Taylor testified, Mr. Zelensky met in Kiev with Senators Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut.

Mr. Zelensky’s first question, Mr. Taylor said, was about the security aid. The senators responded, Mr. Taylor said, that Mr. Zelensky “should not jeopardize bipartisan support by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics.”

But Mr. Sondland was still pressing for a commitment from Mr. Zelensky, and was pressing him to do a CNN interview in which he would talk about pursuing the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Zelensky never did the interview and never made the public commitment sought by the White House, although a Ukrainian prosecutor later said he would “audit” a case involving the owner of the company that paid Hunter Biden as a board member.

Mr. Giuliani has said he had nothing to do with the assistance freeze and did not talk to Mr. Trump or “anybody in the government” about it. “I didn’t know about it until I read about it in the newspaper,” he said in an interview last week.

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Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan

Don’t make Justin turn around and say “Bye Bye Bye,” Jessica!

On Tuesday’s episode of “The Tonight Show,” host Jimmy Fallon jokingly confronted Jessica Biel about an old interview where she admitted she was not a fan of the boy band her husband, Justin Timberlake, fronted in.

Fallon asked Biel if she was an ‘NSYNC fan when the band first exploded and the actress said she was not, stating that she used to be a “lame music geek” who listened to songs from theatre productions and wasn’t into pop culture music.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE OPENS UP ABOUT MEETING WIFE JESSICA BIEL FOR THE FIRST TIME

“Well, not lame, I was just listening to old-school stuff,” she clarified. “I was listening to theater productions, I was listening to ‘Rent,’ I knew every word from ‘Rent,’ I was listening to Motown… I, like, lived under a rock.”

Fallon then gave Biel a walk down memory lane by showing her a clip of an interview she did in 1999.

“Jimmy. Jimmy… no…” Biel said, stunned. “No, please.”

Fallon revealed that his writers managed to dig up an old sit-down chat with Biel’s from “those times when ‘NSYNC was around,” and it was clear from her stunned face that she was not looking forward to the walk down memory lane.

Fallon went on to play a 1999 interview in which her younger self did not seem impressed with ‘NSYNC.

“To be honest, I don’t really listen,” she said in the interview when asked if she’s a fan of the boy band. “I mean, I know of them, of course, and I’ve heard of them and I’ve heard the music. I don’t think I own any of their CDs. I’m not a huge fan. But, I mean, cool, I guess.”

“Oh my God, you’re in so much trouble,” Fallon said while laughing at Biel’s reaction to the clip.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, MISSY ELLIOTT GET HONORARY DOCTORATES

Westlake Legal Group jessica-biel-display Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article

Jessica Biel in 1999 (Getty)

Biel laughed at her teenage self and her attitude in the video, saying “I am so screwed now.”

“Now you probably know some ‘NSYNC songs, right?” Fallon asked. “Not really,” the “Limetown” actress replied.

She then went on to reveal that while playing truth or dare with friends, she was faced with a dare to sing an ‘NSYNC song. It did not go well.

“I only know three words: ‘Bye, Bye, Bye,’ ” she joked.

Westlake Legal Group rt_jessicabiel Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article

Jessica Biel with husband Justin Timberlake. (Reuters)

Timberlake ended up having to step in to help his wife out.

“Justin coached me through the chorus, the verse …,” Biel recalled. “It was humiliating.”

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE TO RELEASE HIS FIRST BOOK

“The Illusionist” actress, who made an appearance on the late-night show to promote her new Facebook Watch series “Limetown,” celebrated seven years of marriage to Timberlake on Oct. 19.

The couple share son Silas, 4.

Now, the lovely power couple prides themselves on supporting each other’s careers, with Timberlake recently posting on Instagram a video of the trailer of his wife’s new show.

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“Boss lady just launched her new show #LIMETOWN. Go watch!!!! Right now! @JessicaBiel @LimetownStories @MichellePurple3,” he wrote.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-6ef405d8433a4f5db0d985d2e33cdefc Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-6ef405d8433a4f5db0d985d2e33cdefc Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article

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As a Centrist Path Opens, Pete Buttigieg Moves Toward It

PHILADELPHIA — In February, Pete Buttigieg, then a virtually unknown presidential candidate, praised the Green New Deal as “the right beginning.” In June he called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. A month later he dismissed criticisms of raising middle class taxes to pay for expanded health care, calling it “a distinction without a difference.”

By October, however, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., had moved toward the center on all three issues. He has a climate-focused TV ad in which he says, “I believe that we need to have a plan that works for all of us.” The border crossings issue, he told CNN last week, is “the kind of stuff that gets us trapped.” And he’s a month into an attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for not explaining how she’d pay for an overhaul of health care.

For most of his political career, Mr. Buttigieg presented himself as more of a centrist technocrat than a liberal ideologue. But striving for attention in a crowded field, he spent the early part of the 2020 Democratic primary touting an array of aspirational progressive ideas, delivering speeches that could have been ripped from an Aaron Sorkin script.

Now a serious candidate with a policy staff stocked with Washington insiders and a war chest boasting millions from big donors, Mr. Buttigieg has gradually reinvented himself as more of a moderate. While he hasn’t pivoted 180 degrees on policy proposals, he is modulating his positions and drawing explicit and implicit contrasts with his progressive rivals.

With Ms. Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. holding the top positions in the race, Mr. Buttigieg is aiming to peel away support from Mr. Biden by offering himself as the viable moderate alternative to Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

It’s a risky maneuver in a moment of rising political populism and leaves Mr. Buttigieg vulnerable to charges of shape-shifting for political advantage. But it comes as Mr. Biden, the centrist standard-bearer since joining the race in April, has been weakened by shaky debate performances and constant attacks from President Trump over his son’s dealings in Ukraine. Mr. Biden also turned in a lackluster fund-raising quarter that left him with less than half the cash on hand of Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Warren and less than one-third the total of Mr. Sanders.

“His only pathway to nomination, if he can’t break through with communities of color, is to sound moderate while organizing on the ground as a progressive,” said Michael Ceraso, who until Aug. 1 served as Mr. Buttigieg’s New Hampshire state director. “His hope is candidates who are reformist, like Warren and Bernie, split the progressive vote, and he picks up a middle lane, which is predominately white and male.”

Mr. Buttigieg said he’s unconcerned with where he fits on his party’s broader political spectrum. He said he would be “the most progressive president on health care in modern times” but declined to define his proposals as the most progressive in the 2020 field.

“I can’t keep getting twisted up in different definitions on what’s more progressive,” he said during an interview Sunday.

Mr. Buttigieg said his beef with Ms. Warren is not about the “Medicare for all” plan she backs.

“My big concern with Senator Warren is that she has not explained how to pay for this,” he said in the interview. “I’ve expressed my irritation that it’s not being talked about plainly, that tax goes up, premium goes down, you come out ahead. Fine. Even then, there’s a multitrillion dollar hole. My biggest problem is not with the terminology, it’s with the hole.”

Westlake Legal Group democratic-polls-promo-1560481207024-articleLarge-v9 As a Centrist Path Opens, Pete Buttigieg Moves Toward It Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?

There are 19 Democrats running for president. Here’s the latest data to track how the candidates are doing.

Mr. Buttigieg calls his current health care proposal “Medicare for all who want it.” It would allow anyone who prefers Medicare to buy into it, without eliminating private health insurance. With Mr. Buttigieg and other rivals criticizing her for being evasive, Ms. Warren said on Sunday she would soon release a proposal for paying for Medicare for all.

There is a bifurcation within Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign. Much of his staff, which was built over the summer before his direct contrasts with Ms. Warren began, is made up of young and energetic progressive organizers, while his supporters and senior aides tend to come from the party’s centrist establishment.

At Mr. Buttigieg’s fund-raising rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, about 1,000 people paid at least $25 to watch a 17-minute speech outside Reading Terminal Market. His supporters said they’re drawn to him precisely because of his centrist nature.

“Biden’s too old, Bernie’s too old and Warren is too weird,” said Debbie Thornton, 60, a secretarial supervisor from Macungie, Pa. “Warren’s ideas are too far-fetched. Pete’s plans are doable, they’re not fantasy.”

Nicole Behr, a 28-year-old project manager from Phoenixville, Pa., said she backs Mr. Buttigieg because he is “realistic.” She added: “He’s a great person to unify the country. He’s not polarizing.”

Before he entered the 2020 race, Mr. Buttigieg’s only exposure outside of Indiana came during his two-month campaign in 2017 to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — a contest in which he stressed his fund-raising abilities and biography above his political priorities.

Mr. Buttigieg, the first gay candidate to mount a major campaign for the presidency, appealed to the party’s activist wing early in his campaign by proposing structural reforms like adding justices to the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College — ambitious ideas that had not previously received significant attention.

Multiple financial bundlers told the campaign that the Supreme Court and Electoral College proposals were not popular, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Buttigieg has since quietly dropped them from his stump speech. He made no mention of either in Philadelphia or during his first post-debate campaign stop last Thursday in Iowa.

During the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Federal Election Commission records show Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign spent three times as much money on polling as any other candidate except Tom Steyer, an indication that the mayor is looking for signs of what resonates with voters and what doesn’t. While he has condemned Ms. Warren’s commitment to a single-payer health care system that would eliminate private health insurance, the roster of donors who have given at least $1,000 to Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign includes senior executives at CVS Health, Astex Pharmaceuticals, Anthem Inc. and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Buttigieg said more than 600,000 people have donated to his campaign and that he’s never altered a policy view based on conversations with donors. He said he still backs reforming the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College.

“If they’re giving to my campaign, it’s because they believe in what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Look, I think the way politics ought to work is you explain what you’re for, and then people who believe in it will support you. I’ve never viewed this as something where you chase support with an idea.”

As South Bend’s mayor he bragged about “smart sewers” but rarely engaged in partisan food fights. When he ran for Indiana state treasurer in 2010, Mr. Buttigieg appealed to local Tea Party groups as a fellow traveler worried about government growing too large.

“There’s some, especially in my party, who think the Tea Party’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party,” he said during an October 2010 candidate forum hosted by Citizens for Common Sense, a South Bend group affiliated with local Tea Party organizations. “But there are many others who believe that the Tea Party’s motivated by real concerns about the direction of our government, and the responses of our government to citizens.”

In Iowa, where polls show Mr. Buttigieg is in his strongest position — in third place behind Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren — he has been running TV advertisements since Labor Day in which he says “we need real solutions, not more polarization” and “others say it’s Medicare for all, or nothing.”

His shift to the center has come as political strategists see a potential new opening for a centrist, after Mr. Biden appeared wobbly in debates and recorded about one-third the cash on hand as did Mr. Buttigieg. But he’s also seeking to exploit the skepticism many Iowans have expressed about the single-payer proposals put forth by Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, according to Laura Hubka, the Democratic chairwoman in Howard County, Iowa.

“It seemed like to me he was more embracing Medicare for all and then as he went around through Iowa and talked to people, he got the idea that a lot of people are not comfortable with Medicare for all, people are scared,” said Ms. Hubka, the only county Democratic leader in the state to endorse Mr. Buttigieg. “Some of that is different from when he first came out.”

While Mr. Buttigieg’s shifts have left him vulnerable to attacks from progressive critics who view him as a donor-driven candidate without core convictions, they also come as he has elevated his standing in the historically crowded race.

“One thing with such a crowded field is these campaigns have to go through a transition period from where they think they are going to end up in the field versus where they actually end up in the field,” said Bryce Smith, the Democratic chairman in Dallas County, Iowa. “He was more concerned about getting farther to the left than he had to be. In the beginning, he came across as that progressive young Democrat and now he’s being more like a pragmatic, new-era politician.”

Ann Hinga Klein contributed reporting from Ames, Iowa, and Annie Daniel contributed research from Washington.

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Zuckerberg, in Washington to Talk Cryptocurrency, Gets Grilled on Everything

Westlake Legal Group 23zuck-facebookJumbo Zuckerberg, in Washington to Talk Cryptocurrency, Gets Grilled on Everything Zuckerberg, Mark E Virtual Currency Social Media Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Libra (Currency) House of Representatives Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

WASHINGTON — Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, returned to the hot seat on Wednesday to defend a cryptocurrency project that has become the latest target of criticism from lawmakers frustrated with the social media giant.

He ended up defending Facebook on a range of issues, from political advertising to housing discrimination and child pornography.

In a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Zuckerberg presented a rosy view of how the cryptocurrency would provide a safe way for millions of Americans without bank accounts to exchange money affordably.

And in a response to an outcry from financial regulators, he said Facebook would not offer Libra, its cryptocurrency initiative, anywhere in the world “unless all U.S. regulators approve it.”

Lawmakers have been unsparing in their criticism of Libra and Facebook’s leader. On Wednesday morning, they also took the opportunity to call Mr. Zuckerberg on the carpet for its many issues of the last three years.

Representative Maxine Waters, the committee chairwoman, set the tone of the meeting early. She grilled Mr. Zuckerberg on the company’s political ads policy, Facebook’s willingness to allow virtually unfettered speech across the platform and the company’s shifting positions on how it wished to treat so-called blockchain advertising and technology across its services.

“The impact of this will be a massive voter suppression effort. Your claim to promote freedom of speech does not ring true,” she said.

Ms. Waters started the hearing with an opening statement that also touched on the company’s continued problems with foreign election interference, privacy violations, its poor record on work force diversity and allegations of housing discrimination from its ads platform.

Committee members said Facebook faced a credibility crisis. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a Democrat from New York, pointed to Facebook’s promise in its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014 to keep the messaging app separate from the main Facebook platform. But a few years later, Mr. Zuckerberg announced it would merge data between the two apps.

“Do you understand why this record makes us concerned with Facebook entering the cryptocurrency space? Have you learned that you should not lie?” Ms. Velásquez said.

Mr. Zuckerberg was defensive. “Congresswoman, I would disagree with the characterization,” he said before getting cut off again by further questions.

Representatives homed in on issues of national security, and the ways that bad actors have used cryptocurrencies to pursue illicit activity.

“You’re creating a whole new currency, which could be anonymous, that could create a whole new threat to Americans and national security, which is a huge concern,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York.

Representative Ann Wagner, a Republican from Missouri, said she was troubled by Facebook’s history of dealing with child pornography on the site. The company has reported discovering millions of exploitative images and videos.

“You are not working hard enough and end-to-end encryption is not going to help the problem,” Ms. Wagner said.

Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged the difficulties of policing a global platform, but was again defensive as he was challenged on his company’s ability to respond to the proliferation of images on Facebook.

”We work harder than any other company to identify this behavior,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

A torrent of criticism has been directed toward Facebook’s cryptocurrency effort since it was announced in June. But Mr. Zuckerberg, who is personally fascinated by cryptocurrencies, is committed to the project.

In the past week, Facebook officials have been on a charm offensive with regulators and lawmakers, leading up to the hearing on Wednesday. And Mr. Zuckerberg has taken on a more assertive role in defending the social network in Washington in recent weeks.

Facebook has one of the biggest influence operations in Washington and has fortified its lobbying in response to the increased government scrutiny this year. The company is on track to spend $12.3 million to lobby the federal government in the first nine months of the year, compared with $12.6 million for all of last year, according to public filings.

But the financial industry and tech companies are growing increasingly leery of the cryptocurrency project. Facebook originally brought on 27 partners to join a Libra Association in Switzerland that is supposed to govern the network. But several big-name partners, including PayPal, Mastercard and Visa, have dropped out.

Mr. Zuckerberg described Libra as a democratizing financial system that would benefit mostly poor consumers, as well as the estimated 14 million people in the United States who do not have access to bank accounts and who cannot afford banking fees.

“People pay far too high a cost — and have to wait far too long — to send money home to their families abroad. The current system is failing them,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in the advance version of his testimony. “The financial industry is stagnant and there is no digital financial architecture to support the innovation we need. I believe this problem can be solved, and Libra can help.”

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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Trump declares ‘big success’ in Syria; will lift sanctions on Turkey

Westlake Legal Group 260f363a-9fe0-40e8-a7c3-0e380a859526-AFP_AFP_1LL7EP Trump declares 'big success' in Syria; will lift sanctions on Turkey

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump declared a “big success” in Syria on Wednesday and said he would lift sanctions on Turkey over its invasion of that country – even as as Russia gained a foothold in the Middle East and members of Congress expressed growing concerns about Trump’s policy.

While critics quickly ridiculed Trump’s claim of a victory, the president said a cease-fire had held “beyond most expectations” and Turkey has vowed to stop combat actions.

So sanctions on Turkey will be lifted “unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” Trump said in remarks at the White House.

The president has come under withering criticism for withdrawing U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, paving the way for a deadly Turkish attack on U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.

“The only ‘big success’ is that Russia is now the dominant power in Syria and Vladimir Putin is the major-domo of Middle East power politics,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish Washington-based foreign policy research institute. 

A U.S.-brokered cease-fire that suspended fighting between Turkish forces and the Kurds expired on Tuesday. 

In an earlier tweet announcing that he would be making a statement, Trump said that cease-fire has held and “combat missions have ended.” Vice President Mike Pence, who was originally scheduled to travel to Michigan Wednesday morning, joined Trump for his remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House.

But the situation in Syria remains in flux. On the ground, Russia has moved to fill a power vacuum created by the U.S. departure, the Kurds fear an ethnic cleansing by Turkish forces and ISIS fighters are vying for a comeback amid the chaos. 

On Tuesday, Russia and Turkey agreed to take joint control of a vital strip of territory along the Syria-Turkey border, a victory for Moscow as the U.S. military continued its withdrawal from Syria. Russian military police crossed the Euphrates River and entered northern Syria on Wednesday morning, according to Kremlin-controlled state media. 

“A Russian-dominated Middle East with the Iranian, Turks, Assad and Hezbollah in the sidecar will be quite a ride,” said Dubowitz. “Buckle up.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s assault, even while suspended, has spawned a humanitarian crisis in Syria. The United Nations estimated Tuesday that about 180,000 Syrians have been forced to leave their homes or shelters, including 80,000 children, all in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

And the pact between Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gives Moscow a crucial foothold in the Middle East amid a power vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal. Under the agreement, Russia and Turkey agreed to work together to remove Kurdish fighters from a 20-mile zone in northern Syria.

“It is clear that the United States has been sidelined,” Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday during a hearing on Trump’s actions in Syria.

During that hearing, Jeffrey, faced a barrage of pointed questions from senators in both parties on the president’s decision to withdraw from Syria, which many have said was a betrayal of the Kurdish fighters who helped America defeat the Islamic State’s caliphate in the country. 

Menendez said Trump’s decision to withdraw troops in the face of a threatened Turkish assault was a “capitulation” that greenlighted Erdogan’s plans. “We don’t even have clarity about whether and where U.S. troops might remain.”

Jeffrey will face a second day of interrogation Wednesday from House lawmakers in both parties unsettled and infuriated by Trump’s conflicting decisions on Syria.

Trump’s moves in Syria have alienated even his staunchest GOP allies, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham

Tuesday’s agreement between Russia and Turkey has only exacerbated concerns on Capitol Hill.

James Jeffrey questioning: ‘It’s clear the US has been sidelined.’ Turkey and Russia agree to joint patrols in Syria

On Wednesday, Jeffrey will face the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. 

Until two weeks ago, Kurdish forces controlled much of northeastern Syria. After an Oct. 6 phone call between Trump and Erdogan, Turkey invaded Syria and began pushing the Kurds south. Under the U.S.-brokered cease-fire, the Kurdish fighters agreed to pull back deeper into Syria, and Turkey agreed to stop its assault.

If the terms of the cease-fire are ratified by all sides, Trump will lift sanctions he imposed on Turkey earlier this month and Turkey will not advance further into Syria. 

Jeffrey defended the cease-fire on Tuesday, saying it has limited Turkey’s territorial gains in Syria – and the chaos that unleashed. But he conceded that hundreds of Kurdish fighters have died in the two-week-long incursion and that ISIS fighters have taken advantage of the mayhem. 

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As a Centrist Path Opens, Pete Buttigieg Moves Toward It

PHILADELPHIA — In February, Pete Buttigieg, then a virtually unknown presidential candidate, praised the Green New Deal as “the right beginning.” In June he called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. A month later he dismissed criticisms of raising middle class taxes to pay for expanded health care, calling it “a distinction without a difference.”

By October, however, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., had moved toward the center on all three issues. He has a climate-focused TV ad in which he says, “I believe that we need to have a plan that works for all of us.” The border crossings issue, he told CNN last week, is “the kind of stuff that gets us trapped.” And he’s a month into an attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for not explaining how she’d pay for an overhaul of health care.

For most of his political career, Mr. Buttigieg presented himself as more of a centrist technocrat than a liberal ideologue. But striving for attention in a crowded field, he spent the early part of the 2020 Democratic primary touting an array of aspirational progressive ideas, delivering speeches that could have been ripped from an Aaron Sorkin script.

Now a serious candidate with a policy staff stocked with Washington insiders and a war chest boasting millions from big donors, Mr. Buttigieg has gradually reinvented himself as more of a moderate. While he hasn’t pivoted 180 degrees on policy proposals, he is modulating his positions and drawing explicit and implicit contrasts with his progressive rivals.

With Ms. Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. holding the top positions in the race, Mr. Buttigieg is aiming to peel away support from Mr. Biden by offering himself as the viable moderate alternative to Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

It’s a risky maneuver in a moment of rising political populism and leaves Mr. Buttigieg vulnerable to charges of shape-shifting for political advantage. But it comes as Mr. Biden, the centrist standard-bearer since joining the race in April, has been weakened by shaky debate performances and constant attacks from President Trump over his son’s dealings in Ukraine. Mr. Biden also turned in a lackluster fund-raising quarter that left him with less than half the cash on hand of Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Warren and less than one-third the total of Mr. Sanders.

“His only pathway to nomination, if he can’t break through with communities of color, is to sound moderate while organizing on the ground as a progressive,” said Michael Ceraso, who until Aug. 1 served as Mr. Buttigieg’s New Hampshire state director. “His hope is candidates who are reformist, like Warren and Bernie, split the progressive vote, and he picks up a middle lane, which is predominately white and male.”

Mr. Buttigieg said he’s unconcerned with where he fits on his party’s broader political spectrum. He said he would be “the most progressive president on health care in modern times” but declined to define his proposals as the most progressive in the 2020 field.

“I can’t keep getting twisted up in different definitions on what’s more progressive,” he said during an interview Sunday.

Mr. Buttigieg said his beef with Ms. Warren is not about the “Medicare for all” plan she backs.

“My big concern with Senator Warren is that she has not explained how to pay for this,” he said in the interview. “I’ve expressed my irritation that it’s not being talked about plainly, that tax goes up, premium goes down, you come out ahead. Fine. Even then, there’s a multitrillion dollar hole. My biggest problem is not with the terminology, it’s with the hole.”

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Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?

There are 19 Democrats running for president. Here’s the latest data to track how the candidates are doing.

Mr. Buttigieg calls his current health care proposal “Medicare for all who want it.” It would allow anyone who prefers Medicare to buy into it, without eliminating private health insurance. With Mr. Buttigieg and other rivals criticizing her for being evasive, Ms. Warren said on Sunday she would soon release a proposal for paying for Medicare for all.

There is a bifurcation within Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign. Much of his staff, which was built over the summer before his direct contrasts with Ms. Warren began, is made up of young and energetic progressive organizers, while his supporters and senior aides tend to come from the party’s centrist establishment.

At Mr. Buttigieg’s fund-raising rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, about 1,000 people paid at least $25 to watch a 17-minute speech outside Reading Terminal Market. His supporters said they’re drawn to him precisely because of his centrist nature.

“Biden’s too old, Bernie’s too old and Warren is too weird,” said Debbie Thornton, 60, a secretarial supervisor from Macungie, Pa. “Warren’s ideas are too far-fetched. Pete’s plans are doable, they’re not fantasy.”

Nicole Behr, a 28-year-old project manager from Phoenixville, Pa., said she backs Mr. Buttigieg because he is “realistic.” She added: “He’s a great person to unify the country. He’s not polarizing.”

Before he entered the 2020 race, Mr. Buttigieg’s only exposure outside of Indiana came during his two-month campaign in 2017 to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — a contest in which he stressed his fund-raising abilities and biography above his political priorities.

Mr. Buttigieg, the first gay candidate to mount a major campaign for the presidency, appealed to the party’s activist wing early in his campaign by proposing structural reforms like adding justices to the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College — ambitious ideas that had not previously received significant attention.

Multiple financial bundlers told the campaign that the Supreme Court and Electoral College proposals were not popular, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Buttigieg has since quietly dropped them from his stump speech. He made no mention of either in Philadelphia or during his first post-debate campaign stop last Thursday in Iowa.

During the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Federal Election Commission records show Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign spent three times as much money on polling as any other candidate except Tom Steyer, an indication that the mayor is looking for signs of what resonates with voters and what doesn’t. While he has condemned Ms. Warren’s commitment to a single-payer health care system that would eliminate private health insurance, the roster of donors who have given at least $1,000 to Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign includes senior executives at CVS Health, Astex Pharmaceuticals, Anthem Inc. and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Buttigieg said more than 600,000 people have donated to his campaign and that he’s never altered a policy view based on conversations with donors. He said he still backs reforming the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College.

“If they’re giving to my campaign, it’s because they believe in what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Look, I think the way politics ought to work is you explain what you’re for, and then people who believe in it will support you. I’ve never viewed this as something where you chase support with an idea.”

As South Bend’s mayor he bragged about “smart sewers” but rarely engaged in partisan food fights. When he ran for Indiana state treasurer in 2010, Mr. Buttigieg appealed to local Tea Party groups as a fellow traveler worried about government growing too large.

“There’s some, especially in my party, who think the Tea Party’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party,” he said during an October 2010 candidate forum hosted by Citizens for Common Sense, a South Bend group affiliated with local Tea Party organizations. “But there are many others who believe that the Tea Party’s motivated by real concerns about the direction of our government, and the responses of our government to citizens.”

In Iowa, where polls show Mr. Buttigieg is in his strongest position — in third place behind Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren — he has been running TV advertisements since Labor Day in which he says “we need real solutions, not more polarization” and “others say it’s Medicare for all, or nothing.”

His shift to the center has come as political strategists see a potential new opening for a centrist, after Mr. Biden appeared wobbly in debates and recorded about one-third the cash on hand as did Mr. Buttigieg. But he’s also seeking to exploit the skepticism many Iowans have expressed about the single-payer proposals put forth by Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, according to Laura Hubka, the Democratic chairwoman in Howard County, Iowa.

“It seemed like to me he was more embracing Medicare for all and then as he went around through Iowa and talked to people, he got the idea that a lot of people are not comfortable with Medicare for all, people are scared,” said Ms. Hubka, the only county Democratic leader in the state to endorse Mr. Buttigieg. “Some of that is different from when he first came out.”

While Mr. Buttigieg’s shifts have left him vulnerable to attacks from progressive critics who view him as a donor-driven candidate without core convictions, they also come as he has elevated his standing in the historically crowded race.

“One thing with such a crowded field is these campaigns have to go through a transition period from where they think they are going to end up in the field versus where they actually end up in the field,” said Bryce Smith, the Democratic chairman in Dallas County, Iowa. “He was more concerned about getting farther to the left than he had to be. In the beginning, he came across as that progressive young Democrat and now he’s being more like a pragmatic, new-era politician.”

Ann Hinga Klein contributed reporting from Ames, Iowa, and Annie Daniel contributed research from Washington.

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‘Mother’s Day’ cupcake topper stuck in man’s throat for a week

Westlake Legal Group cupcake_istock 'Mother's Day' cupcake topper stuck in man's throat for a week Rachael Rettner LiveScience fox-news/health/medical-research/surgery fox-news/food-drink/food fnc/health fnc f195d786-b2de-5211-8632-72acb507f642 article

Scarfing down a cupcake left one man with more than a sugar high. He downed a Mother’s Day dessert so fast he failed to notice that he had swallowed the 2-inch cupcake topper.

The topper, which read “Happy Mother’s Day,” was lodged in his throat for a week before doctors discovered it, according to a new report of the case.

OREGON TEEN DIES OF BACTERIAL MENINGITIS: REPORT

The 60-year-old man went to the emergency room after he developed a sore throat, fever, difficulty swallowing and a feeling that something was stuck in his throat, according to the report, published Oct. 10 in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. The man told doctors his symptoms had started about a week prior to his ER visit, after he hurriedly ate a cupcake on Mother’s Day, the authors, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote in the report.

11 WEIRD THINGS PEOPLE HAVE SWALLOWED

The man had previously visited a different ER for his throat discomfort, but he was discharged after an X-ray of his neck showed no abnormalities.

But at Johns Hopkins, doctors ordered a CT scan, which showed “a 5-cm foreign body” in his esophagus, they wrote.

The man underwent an upper endoscopy, a procedure in which doctors use a thin, flexible tube with a camera to look in the esophagus.

WOMAN DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER AFTER MUSEUM THERMAL CAMERA REVEALS HOT SPOT 

Doctors saw a “pink foreign body” covered in food debris that had caused a small tear in the man’s esophagus, the report said. During the endoscopy, doctors repaired the tear and removed the foreign body, which they discovered was a plastic cupcake topper.

ER doctors commonly see patients who have swallowed foreign bodies. However, in most cases, the foreign object passes out of the body on its own — fewer than 20 percent of cases require removal by doctors, the report said.

When a foreign body gets stuck in the throat, a tear in the esophagus is a concerning complication. In serious cases, it can result in death in up to 18 percent of patients, the report said.

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X-rays are often the first imaging tests ordered in cases like this one, but the test may miss objects such as plastic and glass, which was the case for this patient.

The man was hospitalized for four days due to persistent difficulty with swallowing; but by the time he was released, he was able to resume a normal diet, the report said.

27 oddest medical case reports | Weird medical cases

5 scientific reasons mom deserves Mother’s Day

11 surprising facts about the digestive system

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group cupcake_istock 'Mother's Day' cupcake topper stuck in man's throat for a week Rachael Rettner LiveScience fox-news/health/medical-research/surgery fox-news/food-drink/food fnc/health fnc f195d786-b2de-5211-8632-72acb507f642 article   Westlake Legal Group cupcake_istock 'Mother's Day' cupcake topper stuck in man's throat for a week Rachael Rettner LiveScience fox-news/health/medical-research/surgery fox-news/food-drink/food fnc/health fnc f195d786-b2de-5211-8632-72acb507f642 article

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg awarded $1 million prize for ‘thinkers’ in philosophy and culture

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg awarded $1 million prize for 'thinkers' in philosophy and culture

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a conversation with professor Amanda Tyler, Ginsburg’s former clerk, at UC Berkeley Law School. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Add a prestigious $1 million “thinkers” award to Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fame and fortune.

The 2019 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture is given annually to “thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.” 

Ginsburg, 86, who has served 26 years on the Supreme Court and survived four bouts with cancer, was chosen from more than 500 nominees, later winnowed down to five. She is the fourth recipient of the prize and the third woman.

The organization said Ginsburg will direct the prize money to charitable or non-profit organizations of her choice.

“I am delighted the jury has chosen to honor such a prolific leader in the field of jurisprudence,” said philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen, founder and chairman of the Berggruen Institute, which seeks to shape political, economic, and social institutions. 

“Throughout her career, Ginsburg has used the law to advance ethical and philosophical principles of equality and human rights as basic tenets of the USA. Her contributions have shaped our way of life and way of thinking and have demonstrated to the world the importance of the rule of law in disabling discrimination.”

The group cited Ginsburg’s work in the 1970s with the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. From that perch she brought six cases to the Supreme Court that advanced the cause of gender equality.

In recent years, Ginsburg has become a cultural icon, the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary and a feature-length film as well as books, bobbleheads and workout regimens.

On Monday in California, in fact, Ginsburg told an audience at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law that she never stopped working out, even during her recent bouts with lung and pancreatic cancer.

Workout: Squat, lift, kick, curl: Justice Ginsburg’s workout is tough and it left me exhausted

Since 2016, the prize has been awarded to Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, British philosopher Onora O’Neill and American philosopher Martha Nussbaum of the University of Chicago.

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, one of the jurors who chose Ginsburg, hailed her “grit and determination, brains, courage, compassion and a fiery commitment to justice.”

“She inspires women and men of all ages to realize that a democracy thrives to the extent that it provides every citizen equal footing to achieve their dreams,” Gutmann said. “Justice Ginsburg has few peers in advancing the cause of human equality through the law.”

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As a Centrist Path Opens, Pete Buttigieg Moves Toward It

PHILADELPHIA — In February, Pete Buttigieg, then a virtually unknown presidential candidate, praised the Green New Deal as “the right beginning.” In June he called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. A month later he dismissed criticisms of raising middle class taxes to pay for expanded health care, calling it “a distinction without a difference.”

By October, however, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., had moved toward the center on all three issues. He has a climate-focused TV ad in which he says, “I believe that we need to have a plan that works for all of us.” The border crossings issue, he told CNN last week, is “the kind of stuff that gets us trapped.” And he’s a month into an attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for not explaining how she’d pay for an overhaul of health care.

For most of his political career, Mr. Buttigieg presented himself as more of a centrist technocrat than a liberal ideologue. But striving for attention in a crowded field, he spent the early part of the 2020 Democratic primary touting an array of aspirational progressive ideas, delivering speeches that could have been ripped from an Aaron Sorkin script.

Now a serious candidate with a policy staff stocked with Washington insiders and a war chest boasting millions from big donors, Mr. Buttigieg has gradually reinvented himself as more of a moderate. While he hasn’t pivoted 180 degrees on policy proposals, he is modulating his positions and drawing explicit and implicit contrasts with his progressive rivals.

With Ms. Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. holding the top positions in the race, Mr. Buttigieg is aiming to peel away support from Mr. Biden by offering himself as the viable moderate alternative to Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

It’s a risky maneuver in a moment of rising political populism and leaves Mr. Buttigieg vulnerable to charges of shape-shifting for political advantage. But it comes as Mr. Biden, the centrist standard-bearer since joining the race in April, has been weakened by shaky debate performances and constant attacks from President Trump over his son’s dealings in Ukraine. Mr. Biden also turned in a lackluster fund-raising quarter that left him with less than half the cash on hand of Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Warren and less than one-third the total of Mr. Sanders.

“His only pathway to nomination, if he can’t break through with communities of color, is to sound moderate while organizing on the ground as a progressive,” said Michael Ceraso, who until Aug. 1 served as Mr. Buttigieg’s New Hampshire state director. “His hope is candidates who are reformist, like Warren and Bernie, split the progressive vote, and he picks up a middle lane, which is predominately white and male.”

Mr. Buttigieg said he’s unconcerned with where he fits on his party’s broader political spectrum. He said he would be “the most progressive president on health care in modern times” but declined to define his proposals as the most progressive in the 2020 field.

“I can’t keep getting twisted up in different definitions on what’s more progressive,” he said during an interview Sunday.

Mr. Buttigieg said his beef with Ms. Warren is not about the “Medicare for all” plan she backs.

“My big concern with Senator Warren is that she has not explained how to pay for this,” he said in the interview. “I’ve expressed my irritation that it’s not being talked about plainly, that tax goes up, premium goes down, you come out ahead. Fine. Even then, there’s a multitrillion dollar hole. My biggest problem is not with the terminology, it’s with the hole.”

Westlake Legal Group democratic-polls-promo-1560481207024-articleLarge-v9 As a Centrist Path Opens, Pete Buttigieg Moves Toward It Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?

There are 19 Democrats running for president. Here’s the latest data to track how the candidates are doing.

Mr. Buttigieg calls his current health care proposal “Medicare for all who want it.” It would allow anyone who prefers Medicare to buy into it, without eliminating private health insurance. With Mr. Buttigieg and other rivals criticizing her for being evasive, Ms. Warren said on Sunday she would soon release a proposal for paying for Medicare for all.

There is a bifurcation within Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign. Much of his staff, which was built over the summer before his direct contrasts with Ms. Warren began, is made up of young and energetic progressive organizers, while his supporters and senior aides tend to come from the party’s centrist establishment.

At Mr. Buttigieg’s fund-raising rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, about 1,000 people paid at least $25 to watch a 17-minute speech outside Reading Terminal Market. His supporters said they’re drawn to him precisely because of his centrist nature.

“Biden’s too old, Bernie’s too old and Warren is too weird,” said Debbie Thornton, 60, a secretarial supervisor from Macungie, Pa. “Warren’s ideas are too far-fetched. Pete’s plans are doable, they’re not fantasy.”

Nicole Behr, a 28-year-old project manager from Phoenixville, Pa., said she backs Mr. Buttigieg because he is “realistic.” She added: “He’s a great person to unify the country. He’s not polarizing.”

Before he entered the 2020 race, Mr. Buttigieg’s only exposure outside of Indiana came during his two-month campaign in 2017 to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — a contest in which he stressed his fund-raising abilities and biography above his political priorities.

Mr. Buttigieg, the first gay candidate to mount a major campaign for the presidency, appealed to the party’s activist wing early in his campaign by proposing structural reforms like adding justices to the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College — ambitious ideas that had not previously received significant attention.

Multiple financial bundlers told the campaign that the Supreme Court and Electoral College proposals were not popular, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Buttigieg has since quietly dropped them from his stump speech. He made no mention of either in Philadelphia or during his first post-debate campaign stop last Thursday in Iowa.

During the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Federal Election Commission records show Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign spent three times as much money on polling as any other candidate except Tom Steyer, an indication that the mayor is looking for signs of what resonates with voters and what doesn’t. While he has condemned Ms. Warren’s commitment to a single-payer health care system that would eliminate private health insurance, the roster of donors who have given at least $1,000 to Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign includes senior executives at CVS Health, Astex Pharmaceuticals, Anthem Inc. and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Buttigieg said more than 600,000 people have donated to his campaign and that he’s never altered a policy view based on conversations with donors. He said he still backs reforming the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College.

“If they’re giving to my campaign, it’s because they believe in what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Look, I think the way politics ought to work is you explain what you’re for, and then people who believe in it will support you. I’ve never viewed this as something where you chase support with an idea.”

As South Bend’s mayor he bragged about “smart sewers” but rarely engaged in partisan food fights. When he ran for Indiana state treasurer in 2010, Mr. Buttigieg appealed to local Tea Party groups as a fellow traveler worried about government growing too large.

“There’s some, especially in my party, who think the Tea Party’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party,” he said during an October 2010 candidate forum hosted by Citizens for Common Sense, a South Bend group affiliated with local Tea Party organizations. “But there are many others who believe that the Tea Party’s motivated by real concerns about the direction of our government, and the responses of our government to citizens.”

In Iowa, where polls show Mr. Buttigieg is in his strongest position — in third place behind Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren — he has been running TV advertisements since Labor Day in which he says “we need real solutions, not more polarization” and “others say it’s Medicare for all, or nothing.”

His shift to the center has come as political strategists see a potential new opening for a centrist, after Mr. Biden appeared wobbly in debates and recorded about one-third the cash on hand as did Mr. Buttigieg. But he’s also seeking to exploit the skepticism many Iowans have expressed about the single-payer proposals put forth by Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, according to Laura Hubka, the Democratic chairwoman in Howard County, Iowa.

“It seemed like to me he was more embracing Medicare for all and then as he went around through Iowa and talked to people, he got the idea that a lot of people are not comfortable with Medicare for all, people are scared,” said Ms. Hubka, the only county Democratic leader in the state to endorse Mr. Buttigieg. “Some of that is different from when he first came out.”

While Mr. Buttigieg’s shifts have left him vulnerable to attacks from progressive critics who view him as a donor-driven candidate without core convictions, they also come as he has elevated his standing in the historically crowded race.

“One thing with such a crowded field is these campaigns have to go through a transition period from where they think they are going to end up in the field versus where they actually end up in the field,” said Bryce Smith, the Democratic chairman in Dallas County, Iowa. “He was more concerned about getting farther to the left than he had to be. In the beginning, he came across as that progressive young Democrat and now he’s being more like a pragmatic, new-era politician.”

Ann Hinga Klein contributed reporting from Ames, Iowa, and Annie Daniel contributed research from Washington.

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