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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 242)

McConnell Says Targeting Cultural Sites Would Be ‘Inappropriate.’ It’s Also Illegal.

Westlake Legal Group 5e14de7f250000b0269900e7 McConnell Says Targeting Cultural Sites Would Be ‘Inappropriate.’ It’s Also Illegal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed back Tuesday against President Donald Trump’s threats against Iranian cultural sites, saying that destroying them would not be “appropriate.”

McConnell made that understatement to reporters two days after Trump doubled down on his threats to attack locations that could include Iran’s two dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites. Destroying a country’s cultural sites is considered a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention and the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which both the U.S. and Iran have ratified.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that the U.S. military may target sites “important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”

On Sunday, he reiterated that threat. “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites,” Trump said aboard Air Force One on Sunday. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Shortly after McConnell’s comments on Tuesday, Trump backed away from the idea.

“If that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law,” he told reporters from the Oval Office regarding the possibility of illegally destroying cultural sites. 

Trump’s response also comes after Defense Secretary Mark Esper refused to back the president’s threats during an interview on CNN on Monday, repeatedly saying the U.S. “will follow the laws of armed conflict” when asked if he was willing to target cultural sites.

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Tucker Carlson Dissents as Right-Wing Media Weighs Trump’s Iran Strike

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166793529_5e878431-1a85-4e7b-a6a1-6c59060a751f-facebookJumbo Tucker Carlson Dissents as Right-Wing Media Weighs Trump’s Iran Strike United States Politics and Government Television Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Rivera, Geraldo News and News Media Limbaugh, Rush Hannity, Sean Fox&Friends (TV Program) Fox News Channel Carlson, Tucker Bannon, Stephen K

It was the kind of full-throated critique of President Trump familiar to MSNBC viewers, yet transplanted to the heart of Fox News: Tucker Carlson, the network’s conservative 8 p.m. host, upbraiding the White House for its attempts to justify the killing of a top military commander in Iran.

“It’s hard to remember now, but as recently as last week, most people didn’t consider Iran an imminent threat,” Mr. Carlson said at the start of his Monday show, going on to mock Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for saying intelligence agencies had identified an undefined Iranian threat.

“Seems like about 20 minutes ago, we were denouncing these people as the ‘deep state’ and pledging never to trust them again without verification,” Mr. Carlson told viewers, eyebrow arched. “Now, for some reason, we do trust them — implicitly and completely.”

At 9 p.m., Fox News made way for the pro-Trump commentary of Sean Hannity, who declared “the world is safer” after the death of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

But Mr. Carlson’s dissent showed how a right-wing media world that typically moves in lock step with the president has struggled to reconcile Mr. Trump’s surprise escalation with his prior denunciations of open-ended conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview, Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, said that he and other supporters of the president were still hunting for an effective defense.

“This is a very complicated issue, and the people who support President Trump, from Tucker Carlson all the way to Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, are really trying to work through this,” Mr. Bannon said on Monday. “What you’re seeing now — live on television, live on radio — is people working through what this means.”

Just as the political world was caught off-guard by the killing of General Suleimani, so too was the conservative media complex.

As reports emerged last Thursday of the missile strike in Baghdad that killed the general, Mr. Hannity phoned into his Fox News show from vacation to offer vociferous praise. That same night, Mr. Carlson warned his viewers that “America appears to be lumbering toward a new Middle East war.”

On “Fox & Friends” the next morning, the co-host Brian Kilmeade said he was “elated” by the news, only to be scolded by Geraldo Rivera, who pointed to false intelligence peddled by the George W. Bush administration to justify the Iraq War. “Don’t for a minute start cheering this on,” Mr. Rivera, a Fox News correspondent, told the hosts.

Mr. Bannon, the former chief of Breitbart News, now runs a pro-Trump podcast, “War Room: Impeachment.” In the interview, he said he was concerned that a burgeoning conflict in Iran could threaten Mr. Trump’s support among “working-class, middle-class people, particularly people whose sons and daughters actually fight in these wars,” a group that believed the president opposed significant foreign intervention.

“Why was it necessary to kill this guy and to kill him now and to exacerbate the military issues, given the fact that President Trump looks to us as someone who’s not trigger-happy?” Mr. Bannon said, paraphrasing a question he said he was hearing from independent voters.

“That still has to be explained,” Mr. Bannon continued. “I don’t know if it’s the president addressing the nation. I don’t know if it’s the president getting on ‘Fox & Friends.’ But clearly, at some point and time, the president’s got to walk through not just what his logic was, but also where he wants to take this.”

Indeed, part of the problem for conservative media commentators was the lack of guidance from the White House, which has been slow to settle on a public narrative around General Suleimani’s death.

In 2003, as the Bush administration prepared for a conflict in Iraq, White House officials took pains to build support among allies and media commentators for an invasion. In 2020, the Trump administration seems to be attempting the reverse: retroactively arguing its case even as the world grapples with the consequences of a provocative military strike.

Without providing specifics, Trump aides have referred to evidence from intelligence agencies about an imminent threat from Iran — the same intelligence agencies that Mr. Trump and his media surrogates have attacked for three years as biased and prone to fabricating evidence.

The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, is virtually unknown to the public, because she has not held a briefing in her six months on the job and rarely agrees to interviews outside of Fox News. An attempt on Twitter by Vice President Mike Pence to connect General Suleimani to the 9/11 attacks was quickly proved wrong.

Mr. Pompeo, dispatched to the major political talk shows on Sunday, argued that “appeasement” of Iran would increase the risk of a terror attack, even as General Suleimani’s death set off enormous anti-American protests in Tehran. That prompted an on-air rebuke from Mr. Carlson, who showed a clip of Mr. Pompeo on his Monday Fox News show.

“The risk of terror is also increased by bombing other people’s countries,” Mr. Carlson said.

Mr. Carlson, a longtime opponent of American involvement in the Middle East, has been more willing than Mr. Hannity to criticize Mr. Trump, though he has not called out the president by name in his recent commentary on Iran. After his Monday segment on General Suleimani, he introduced a five-part series, “American Dystopia,” chronicling urban decay in San Francisco. (The president later retweeted a Twitter post by Mr. Carlson promoting the series.)

Mr. Trump, for his part, has done relatively little so far to persuade the public. Aside from a brief and hastily convened TV statement from his Palm Beach resort, he has kept to Twitter, initially posting a caption-less picture of an American flag on the day of the Baghdad strike. On Tuesday afternoon, the president spoke informally to reporters at the White House about the strike.

On Monday, he granted his first interview on the matter to the radio show of the conservative host Rush Limbaugh, a Trump safe space with a direct line to the president’s political base.

“I hope this is the greatest year of your life, sir,” Mr. Limbaugh cooed to Mr. Trump at one point, while also venturing that the Suleimani killing had many Americans on edge. “People are being scared to death, their kids are being scared to death, out of their minds, that somehow this is going to start World War III,” he said.

Mr. Trump responded haltingly, as if testing out ideas for his message. “This should have been done for the last 15 to 20 years,” the president said, calling General Suleimani “a terrorist” and declaring that “our country is a lot safer.” Soon, he had veered into complaints about House Democrats and their views on Israel.

Charlie Sykes, a longtime right-wing talk-radio host and a critic of Mr. Trump, said in an interview that the president could still draw on a reservoir of support among his conservative supporters.

“Killing terrorists has always been a great talking point for Republican presidents,” Mr. Sykes said. Mr. Trump’s campaign-trail opposition to the Iraq War, though, complicates matters.

“Trumpism is both isolationist and highly militaristic at the same time,” said Mr. Sykes, who is also a MSNBC contributor. “It’s not dovish — it’s highly militaristic, but it’s selectively militaristic. Being strong is not inconsistent with appeasing the North Koreans or Vladimir Putin.” He paused to laugh. “My head is hurting just thinking about this.”

On Monday night, Mr. Hannity previewed a potential new talking point for the president. “We can’t and won’t be going with boots on the ground in Iran,” he told viewers. “That’s not gonna happen, and frankly, it’s not necessary.”

Still, the situation in Iran remains fluid. On Monday, Mr. Bannon used his podcast to point out the contradictions of the president’s approach, noting, “One of the central building blocks of why he was elected president was to get out of these foreign wars.”

A co-host, the former Trump campaign aide Jason Miller, leaped to the president’s defense, but Mr. Bannon interrupted. “You’re thinking like Republicans,” he said. “Where’s the populist nationalist movement in this? This is supposed to be a new day.”

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

24 Accused Of Deliberately Setting Fires In Australia’s New South Wales

Two-dozen people have been arrested in Australia’s fire-ravaged state of New South Wales after police say they intentionally set fires amid one of the country’s worst bushfire seasons on record.

The 24 people are among 183 facing bushfire-related offenses in the southeastern state since Nov. 8 last year, New South Wales Police Force said Monday.

Police say 53 people allegedly failed to comply with a total fire ban and 47 others allegedly discarded a lit cigarette or match on land. Just 40 of the 183 people are juveniles, police said.

Westlake Legal Group 5e14cea5250000e6ddd320f3 24 Accused Of Deliberately Setting Fires In Australia’s New South Wales

Tracey Nearmy / Reuters Nancy Allen and Brian Allen stand outside the house as high winds push smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire toward Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, on Saturday.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has declared a state of emergency three times over two months, has called the ongoing catastrophe “the most devastating bushfire season in living memory.”

Since the start of the 2019 fire season, at least 8.4 million hectares (20.7 million acres) of land have burned across Australia. New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state and home of its largest city, Sydney, has seen 4.9 million hectares burn and lost 1,588 homes.

Westlake Legal Group 5e14cedd2500001c199900ce 24 Accused Of Deliberately Setting Fires In Australia’s New South Wales

Pool via Getty Images Charlotte O’Dwyer, the young daughter of Rural Fire Service volunteer Andrew O’Dwyer, stands in front of her father’s casket wearing his helmet after being presented with his service medal during his funeral on Tuesday. O’Dwyer was one of three firefighters killed in recent fires.

Authorities have confirmed 24 deaths due to the fires, including 18 in New South Wales. More than 1 billion animals are estimated to have been killed, as well.

Three NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer firefighters are among the dead.

Individuals found guilty of setting a bushfire in New South Wales can face up to 21 years in prison or up to 25 years if they’re found to have damaged property with the intent of endangering life. Lighting a fire during a total fire ban, failing to put out an intentionally lit fire, or failing to comply with a bush fire hazard reduction notice can result in up to 12 months in prison and/or a $5,500 fine, according to police.

Westlake Legal Group 5e14cf0d250000d6ddd320f5 24 Accused Of Deliberately Setting Fires In Australia’s New South Wales

SAEED KHAN via Getty Images Charred vehicles that were gutted by bushfires in Mogo Village, New South Wales, are seen on Monday.

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Against all odds, it looks like Bernie Sanders might be the Democratic nominee after all

Westlake Legal Group 9K3B6DhQDApxqOj7eoOc4MuH0i_R-RABJDUr-CotgfQ Against all odds, it looks like Bernie Sanders might be the Democratic nominee after all r/politics

Was Bernie a likely nominee from the beginning?

In 2016, Bernie’s supporters saw him winning 46% of the vote and thought, “He was so close; next time he’ll do a little bit better and win!”

Others saw Sanders stuck at 18% in 2020 national polls, and just did some quick arithmetic:

46%-18%=28%

“I guess 28% of Democratic primary voters hate Hillary so much that they would vote for Sanders in a head-to-head match-up, even though he would never be their first choice.” The 2020 field has many not-Hillary-candidates to choose from so Sanders is in a weaker position than he was in 2016.


To be fair, they could both be right…sorta.

After a few early state contests, presidential primaries tend to become two-person races. Before Iowa votes, it is a wide-open field.

Right now, Sanders could be poised to win New Hampshire (and therefore become one of the two people we argue about until the convention) and simultaneously struggle to get the support of more than 75% of the primary voters.


…but also, a ton of this is based on the premise that ‘Biden couldn’t possibly win the nomination’ even though he is polling in the lead…but that is the same thing that people said about Trump during the 2016 primary. We should probably believe the polls.

Edit: Made it clear that the polls in the last paragraph reference primary polls, not general election polls.

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Ryan Seacrest falls out of his chair during broadcast of ‘Live with Kelly and Ryan’

Westlake Legal Group ryan-sea-reuters660 Ryan Seacrest falls out of his chair during broadcast of 'Live with Kelly and Ryan' Tyler McCarthy fox-news/person/kelly-ripa fox-news/entertainment/genres/viral fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 11cb3c18-4237-5362-9ffe-60979d5dcd09

Ryan Seacrest took a nasty fall during Tuesday’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan” broadcast.

Just days after interviewing the biggest names in TV and film at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, Seacrest’s dignity took a bit of a hit while he was trying to catch a golden balloon that was raining down on him and co-host Kelly Ripa.

As the 45-year-old star reached his arms up and behind him in an effort to catch the large falling balloon, he eventually overextended and sent his chair backward and him hurtling to the ground behind it. The audience roared with concern as Ripa shouted, “Oh my God!”

BARBARA WALTERS HONORED WITH ‘THIS IS 2020’ TRIBUTE VIDEO FEATURING STAR CAMEOS

Ripa lept out of her own seat to see if Seacrest was OK, but by the time she made it to where he was on the floor, he could already be heard giggling at himself.

“Oh my gosh, he’s fine!” she said after a stagehand helped get Seacrest back on his feet.

He didn’t appear to be in pain or injured in any way from the fall once he stood up. In a jocular effort to save face, the host quickly grabbed the balloon he was reaching for off the floor and proudly held it over his head.

RYAN SEACREST WEARS TIME’S UP BRACELET AMID SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACCUSATIONS

“I got it!” he exclaimed.

Fortunately for fans, the “American Idol” host wasn’t above laughing at himself and gladly posted the moment to his Instagram.

“First fumble of the new season. Hope I make the playoffs…” he captioned the video.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In addition, he shared a slow-motion clip of the fall on his Instagram Story.

Westlake Legal Group ryan-sea-reuters660 Ryan Seacrest falls out of his chair during broadcast of 'Live with Kelly and Ryan' Tyler McCarthy fox-news/person/kelly-ripa fox-news/entertainment/genres/viral fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 11cb3c18-4237-5362-9ffe-60979d5dcd09   Westlake Legal Group ryan-sea-reuters660 Ryan Seacrest falls out of his chair during broadcast of 'Live with Kelly and Ryan' Tyler McCarthy fox-news/person/kelly-ripa fox-news/entertainment/genres/viral fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 11cb3c18-4237-5362-9ffe-60979d5dcd09

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Don’t Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns

Westlake Legal Group 07boz-facebookJumbo Don’t Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns Zuckerberg, Mark E Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Online Advertising News and News Media Facebook Inc Bosworth, Andrew (1982- )

SAN FRANCISCO — Since the 2016 election, when Russian trolls and a tsunami of misinformation turned social media into a partisan battlefield, Facebook has wrestled with the role it played in President Trump’s victory.

Now, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times, a longtime Facebook executive told employees that the company had a moral duty not to tilt the scales against Mr. Trump as he seeks re-election.

On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against Mr. Trump. But citing the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and the philosopher John Rawls, Mr. Bosworth said that doing so would eventually backfire.

“I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result,” he wrote. “So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment.

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he said, misspelling the name of the character Galadriel. “As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

In a meandering 2,500-word post, titled “Thoughts for 2020,” Mr. Bosworth weighed in on issues including political polarization, Russian interference and the news media’s treatment of Facebook. He gave a frank assessment of Facebook’s shortcomings in recent years, saying that the company had been “late” to address the issues of data security, misinformation and foreign interference. And he accused the left of overreach, saying that when it came to calling people Nazis, “I think my fellow liberals are a bit too, well, liberal.”

Mr. Bosworth also waded into the debate over the health effects of social media, rejecting what he called “wildly offensive” comparisons of Facebook to addictive substances like nicotine. He instead compared Facebook to sugar, and said users were responsible for moderating their own intake.

“If I want to eat sugar and die an early death that is a valid position,” Mr. Bosworth wrote. “My grandfather took such a stance towards bacon and I admired him for it. And social media is likely much less fatal than bacon.”

The post by Mr. Bosworth, a former head of Facebook’s advertising team, provides an unusually candid glimpse of the debates raging within Facebook about the platform’s responsibilities as it heads into the 2020 election.

The biggest of those debates is whether Facebook should change its rules governing political speech. Posts by politicians are exempt from many of Facebook’s current rules, and their ads are not submitted for fact-checking, giving them license to mislead voters with partisan misinformation.

Last year, platforms like Twitter and Google announced restrictions to their political advertising tools ahead of the 2020 election.

Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, have faced heavy pressure from Democrats and Republicans, including Mr. Trump’s campaign, not to restrict its own powerful ad platform, which allows political campaigns to reach targeted audiences and raise money from supporters. But other politicians, and some Facebook employees, including a group that petitioned Mr. Zuckerberg in October, have argued that the social network has a responsibility to stamp out misinformation on its platform, including in posts by politicians.

Mr. Bosworth said that even though keeping the current policies in place “very well may lead to” Mr. Trump’s re-election, it was the right decision.

Dozens of Facebook employees pushed back on Mr. Bosworth’s conclusions, arguing in the comments section below his post that politicians should be held to the same standard as other Facebook users. They debated whether Facebook should ban or remove posts by politicians, including Mr. Trump, that included hate speech or forms of misinformation.

One Facebook employee warned that if the company continued to take its current approach, it risked promoting populist leaders around the world, including in the United States.

A Facebook spokeswoman provided a statement from Mr. Bosworth in which he said that the post “wasn’t written for public consumption,” but that he “hoped this post would encourage my co-workers to continue to accept criticism with grace as we accept the responsibility we have overseeing our platform.”

Ultimately, the decision on whether to allow politicians to spread misinformation on Facebook rests with Mr. Zuckerberg. In recent months, he has appeared to stand firm on the decision to keep the existing ad policies in place, saying that he believes Facebook should not become an arbiter of truth. But he has also left himself room to change his mind. In November, a Facebook spokesman said the company was “looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”

Among those lobbying Mr. Zuckerberg is President Trump himself, who claimed on a radio show on Monday that Mr. Zuckerberg had congratulated him on being “No. 1” on Facebook during a private dinner.

Mr. Bosworth said he believed Facebook was responsible for Mr. Trump’s 2016 election victory, but not because of Russian interference or the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which millions of Facebook users’ data was leaked to a political strategy firm that worked with the Trump campaign. Mr. Bosworth said the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelations — uncovered by The Times, working with The Observer of London and The Guardian — rightly changed the conversation around how Facebook should handle user data, and which companies should be given access to that data.

But, he said, Mr. Trump simply used Facebook’s advertising tools effectively.

“He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica,” Mr. Bosworth wrote. “He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period.”

Mr. Bosworth, a longtime confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg’s who is viewed by some inside Facebook as a proxy for the chief executive, has been an outspoken defender of the company’s positions in the past.

In 2018, BuzzFeed News published a memo Mr. Bosworth wrote in 2016 justifying the company’s growth-at-all-costs ethos, in which he said the company’s mission of connecting people was “de facto good,” even if it resulted in deaths.

After the memo’s publication, a Facebook executive said the company wished it could “go back and hit delete” on Mr. Bosworth’s 2016 post.

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Trump Administration Quietly Goes After Disability Benefits

Westlake Legal Group 5e14c6422500001c199900c1 Trump Administration Quietly Goes After Disability Benefits

Some Americans could lose Social Security Disability Insurance benefits under a recent Trump administration proposal ― a change that could affect thousands of people but that has received little attention since it was first floated in November. 

Under the proposed change, the government would look more closely at whether certain disability insurance recipients still qualify as “disabled” after they’ve already been awarded those benefits. While recipients already have to demonstrate their continuing disability every few years, the proposal would ramp up the examinations, potentially running still-eligible beneficiaries out of the program. 

The extra reviews will help “maintain appropriate stewardship of the disability program,” the administration said in the proposal, arguing current rules fail to account fully for the possibility of medical improvement.

It’s just one of several unilateral moves the Trump administration has made against social programs that make it easier for people to survive without labor market income. The proposals may save the government a few dollars, but they also send a political message that President Trump is cracking down on the “takers” Republicans have vilified for decades. 

Democrats and disability advocates said the proposed new regulation would only hurt disabled people, that it hasn’t been vetted and that the rule-making process should be delayed. More than 8 million Americans receive disability benefits based on past employment and a loss of wage income due to the onset of a severe disability.

“We are concerned that under the proposed rule, some individuals subject to review will be simply unable to navigate the process and, as a result, lose their benefits even though there is no medical improvement,” a group of House and Senate Democrats led by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a December letter

The administration, for its part, is making only a halfhearted argument that ramping up medical reviews to kick people off disability benefits is actually going to help them. “We believe that there may be positive employment effects as a result of these proposed rules, although we cannot currently quantify them,” the Social Security Administration said in its notice of proposed rule-making

“If they haven’t improved enough to go back to self-supporting work then they probably should still be eligible for benefits,” Kathleen Romig, a senior policy analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said in an interview. 

The regulation could affect hundreds of thousands of SSDI and Supplemental Security Income recipients, Romig said, potentially ending benefits for tens of thousands. The administration didn’t estimate how many would lose benefits, but said the proposal would save $2 billion over a decade. 

We believe that there may be positive employment effects as a result of these proposed rules, although we cannot currently quantify them. Social Security Administration

The rule would not take effect until sometime after the administration releases a final version, for which no date has been set ― and as with other regulations the administration has issued without input from Congress, a lawsuit could stop it. 

Social Security disability benefits are not easy to get, and most applications are denied. Once an application is approved, the government conducts “continuing disability reviews” every so often to make sure the beneficiary still can’t work. How often the reviews occur depends on whether the applicant’s chance of medical improvement gets classified as expected, possible, or not expected. 

The draft rule would add a new category: medical improvement likely, as in likelier than possible, but not as likely as expected. Reviews would occur “approximately every two years,” as opposed to within 18 months for people with expected medical improvement and within 3 years for those with possible improvement. Overall, according to the administration, there would be 2.6 million more reviews, an 18% increase, at an anticipated cost of $1.8 billion ― almost wiping out the $2 billion worth of savings on benefits.

For the new category, the regulation specifically targets older disabled workers who didn’t win benefits strictly because of their disabilities, but also because they were lower-skilled and unlikely to be able to succeed in some new occupation. 

Conservatives have complained about the so-called “medical-vocational grid” that the Social Security Administration uses to award benefits to people whose impairments are less severe but who nonetheless have virtually no place in the labor market. 

Mark Warshawsky, a Trump-appointed Social Security commissioner for retirement and disability policy, argued in a 2015 paper he co-authored that “the grid’s guidelines make it easier to award SSDI benefits to middle-aged and older workers, unskilled workers, and non-English-speakers, and should be eliminated and replaced with a simpler, fairer, and more uniform system for determining eligibility.”

In a formal comment letter this week, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives cited research showing that most people whose benefits are terminated do not go on to earn much money in the ensuing five years because they are too disabled. The letter also noted that the administration itself admitted it could not quantify any beneficial employment effects. 

“The proposed rule relies on mere guesses or wishes to justify a change that evidence shows to be harmful,” NOSSCR director Barbara Silverstone wrote. “This is not just arbitrary and capricious, but callous and malicious.” 

The Social Security Administration did not respond to a request for comment. The White House declined to comment.

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Don’t Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns

Westlake Legal Group 07boz-facebookJumbo Don’t Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns Zuckerberg, Mark E Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Online Advertising News and News Media Facebook Inc Bosworth, Andrew (1982- )

SAN FRANCISCO — Since the 2016 election, when Russian trolls and a tsunami of misinformation turned social media into a partisan battlefield, Facebook has wrestled with the role it played in President Trump’s victory.

Now, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times, a longtime Facebook executive told employees that the company had a moral duty not to tilt the scales against Mr. Trump as he seeks re-election.

On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against Mr. Trump. But citing the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and the philosopher John Rawls, Mr. Bosworth said that doing so would eventually backfire.

“I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result,” he wrote. “So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment.

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he said, misspelling the name of the character Galadriel. “As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

In a meandering 2,500-word post, titled “Thoughts for 2020,” Mr. Bosworth weighed in on issues including political polarization, Russian interference and the news media’s treatment of Facebook. He gave a frank assessment of Facebook’s shortcomings in recent years, saying that the company had been “late” to address the issues of data security, misinformation and foreign interference. And he accused the left of overreach, saying that when it came to calling people Nazis, “I think my fellow liberals are a bit too, well, liberal.”

Mr. Bosworth also waded into the debate over the health effects of social media, rejecting what he called “wildly offensive” comparisons of Facebook to addictive substances like nicotine. He instead compared Facebook to sugar, and said users were responsible for moderating their own intake.

“If I want to eat sugar and die an early death that is a valid position,” Mr. Bosworth wrote. “My grandfather took such a stance towards bacon and I admired him for it. And social media is likely much less fatal than bacon.”

The post by Mr. Bosworth, a former head of Facebook’s advertising team, provides an unusually candid glimpse of the debates raging within Facebook about the platform’s responsibilities as it heads into the 2020 election.

The biggest of those debates is whether Facebook should change its rules governing political speech. Posts by politicians are exempt from many of Facebook’s current rules, and their ads are not submitted for fact-checking, giving them license to mislead voters with partisan misinformation.

Last year, platforms like Twitter and Google announced restrictions to their political advertising tools ahead of the 2020 election.

Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, have faced heavy pressure from Democrats and Republicans, including Mr. Trump’s campaign, not to restrict its own powerful ad platform, which allows political campaigns to reach targeted audiences and raise money from supporters. But other politicians, and some Facebook employees, including a group that petitioned Mr. Zuckerberg in October, have argued that the social network has a responsibility to stamp out misinformation on its platform, including in posts by politicians.

Mr. Bosworth said that even though keeping the current policies in place “very well may lead to” Mr. Trump’s re-election, it was the right decision.

Dozens of Facebook employees pushed back on Mr. Bosworth’s conclusions, arguing in the comments section below his post that politicians should be held to the same standard as other Facebook users. They debated whether Facebook should ban or remove posts by politicians, including Mr. Trump, that included hate speech or forms of misinformation.

One Facebook employee warned that if the company continued to take its current approach, it risked promoting populist leaders around the world, including in the United States.

A Facebook spokeswoman provided a statement from Mr. Bosworth in which he said that the post “wasn’t written for public consumption,” but that he “hoped this post would encourage my co-workers to continue to accept criticism with grace as we accept the responsibility we have overseeing our platform.”

Ultimately, the decision on whether to allow politicians to spread misinformation on Facebook rests with Mr. Zuckerberg. In recent months, he has appeared to stand firm on the decision to keep the existing ad policies in place, saying that he believes Facebook should not become an arbiter of truth. But he has also left himself room to change his mind. In November, a Facebook spokesman said the company was “looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”

Among those lobbying Mr. Zuckerberg is President Trump himself, who claimed on a radio show on Monday that Mr. Zuckerberg had congratulated him on being “No. 1” on Facebook during a private dinner.

Mr. Bosworth said he believed Facebook was responsible for Mr. Trump’s 2016 election victory, but not because of Russian interference or the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which millions of Facebook users’ data was leaked to a political strategy firm that worked with the Trump campaign. Mr. Bosworth said the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelations — uncovered by The Times, working with The Observer of London and The Guardian — rightly changed the conversation around how Facebook should handle user data, and which companies should be given access to that data.

But, he said, Mr. Trump simply used Facebook’s advertising tools effectively.

“He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica,” Mr. Bosworth wrote. “He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period.”

Mr. Bosworth, a longtime confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg’s who is viewed by some inside Facebook as a proxy for the chief executive, has been an outspoken defender of the company’s positions in the past.

In 2018, BuzzFeed News published a memo Mr. Bosworth wrote in 2016 justifying the company’s growth-at-all-costs ethos, in which he said the company’s mission of connecting people was “de facto good,” even if it resulted in deaths.

After the memo’s publication, a Facebook executive said the company wished it could “go back and hit delete” on Mr. Bosworth’s 2016 post.

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GOP Senate candidate aims to beat Cory Booker in 2020: ‘We are going to remove him from politics’

Republican Senate candidate Hirsh Singh says he can easily defeat incumbent Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in 2020 by appealing to disillusioned minority voters, and exposing the vast web of corruption and damage the former mayor of Newark has left behind.

Singh, 34, ran an unsuccessful campaign for New Jersey governor in 2017 but said the experience helped him establish contacts within the state GOP. He’s met with various Republican leaders, including former Gov. Chris Christie, and believes he is the man to beat in the upcoming primary.

“I finally got [the state GOP] to really get behind me,” Singh recently told Fox News.

“I’m a conservative with a hint of a Libertarian,” he said of his politics. “On social issues, I believe that people should decide how they want to live their life. We shouldn’t overly control it. I’m [also] economically conservative. I’m a true conservative across the board.”

Singh said he doesn’t believe his conservative leanings will hurt him in what many consider to be, a reliably blue state. His plan is to campaign in areas that have been neglected by other Republican candidates, to see if his message will resonate with minority voters.

“Republicans haven’t gone into urban areas. They don’t campaign there,” he said. “We’re going to campaign there. My headquarters will be in Jersey City. We’re going to be going door-to-door in these areas, where Republicans have sort of backed away from.”

CORY BOOKER COMPARES HIS 2020 CAMPAIGN TO OBAMA’S, SAYS HE CAN WIN IOWA CAUCUS

Singh, an engineer by trade with a degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), outlined the main issues fueling his agenda and highlighted infrastructure and immigration as his top two concerns.

“Number one is Infrastructure. Number two is going to be illegal immigration,” he said. “I love legal immigration. Illegal immigration should not be allowed.”

“It’s a poke in the eye of every single person who’s come here, wanting to become American — going through the process,” he continued. “Going through years of getting a green card, becoming a resident, then applying for citizenship — for someone who comes here illegally and is getting the rights of someone who’s gone through the process, [it’s unfair].”

He also said minority communities in urban areas are becoming frustrated with the massive influx of illegal immigrants and feel disenfranchised by Democrats.

“I’ve asked many people [about illegal immigration] in the Indian-American community, and they don’t like it. They’re really upset,” he said. “And the national narrative in the media has just not shown how much minorities are against being treated the same as someone who comes here illegally.”

Westlake Legal Group Booker-Singh-AP-Campaign-Photo GOP Senate candidate aims to beat Cory Booker in 2020: 'We are going to remove him from politics' Nick Givas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-jersey fox-news/us/immigration/illegal-immigrants fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-senate-races fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/cory-booker fox news fnc/politics fnc article 209d6613-9e07-5cb0-b10b-296e2a1bfca1

Hirsh Singh, right, said part of his campaign to unseat Sen. Cory Booker is by courting disillusioned minority voters. (AP/Campaign photo)

Part of Singh’s confidence comes from the perception that Booker is not well-liked among New Jersey voters. His low polling during his presidential campaign and testimonials from residents have Singh thinking Booker’s time may finally be running out.

The Atlantic City native predicted Booker, 50, will eventually pack it up in his presidential campaign and come home to millions of unenthused voters who are plagued by his economic policies and past political failures.

BOOKER BRINGS IN $6.6 MILLION IN LATEST FUNDRAISING HAUL, TRAILING TOP-TIER CANDIDATES

“Cory Booker couldn’t get reelected mayor of Newark right now,” Singh said. “Nobody likes him. $100 million was given by Facebook to help develop schools in Newark and that money just went into consultants’ pockets. There’s an amalgamation of problems that have been kept under the rug against Booker.”

“It’s been minorities who have been hurt by Booker while he was in power,” Singh continued. “What has he passed since he went to D.C. six years ago? He’s done nothing for that state. I think people realize that. The fact that he’s polling near zero percent in the polls — people see that. He’s burned through 15 plus million dollars running for president. When he comes back to New Jersey with his tail between his legs, we are going to remove him from politics.”

Taking a page out of President Trump’s playbook, Singh promised to bring those who Booker has hurt out on the campaign trail with him, to show the rest of the state how harmful Booker has been for the economy.

“There are numerous people that have been hurt by Booker and we’ve identified them. We have people that have had businesses in Newark that are affected by him,” he said. “The biggest thing right now is that this campaign will ensure that people know that I’m there pushing out their message — he’s going to lose the entire minority community.”

“With a candidate like me who’s young, I’m an engineer, and I have strong conservative values… It will destroy the narrative that Republicans are racist. Cory Booker is talking about reparations for slavery. There’s no minority who is accepting that nonsense,” he said.

If Singh were to win, his first order of business would be to personally meet with President Trump in an effort to secure more federal funding and support for his state.

TUCKER CARLSON ON DEMOCRATS’ DIVISIVE POLITICS: ‘EVERY RESOLUTION EATS ITSELF’

“The first thing I would do is sit down with the president,” he said. “I would start devising a plan of what is in our best interest to make sure resources come to New Jersey.”

He then addressed the House’s impeachment of Trump and said he would vote to acquit if he was in Booker’s place.

“With President Trump, being who you are is the only way you can move things. [Impeachment] is a farce,” he said. “There is no merit to it. Before you can talk about me voting in the Senate, you’d have to have [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi send over the articles of impeachment. And I don’t think [that will happen].”

Singh added: “All she wanted was to get the news media narrative going, and she got it.”

The president would rather work with Singh on major issues than with Democrats who want to throw him out of office, he claimed.

“When he ran for president Trump [asked] why do we not build new bridges, new airports… Why would he keep working with Booker and [N.J. Gov. Phil] Murphy and all these people that are resisting him, when they’re not trying to help do what is in the best interest of the country?”

Booker, by law, is allowed to pursue both the White House and his Senate seat but has yet to announce if he will seek reelection.

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Fox News reached out to Booker’s Senate office and presidential campaign but they did not return requests for comment.

The GOP primary in New Jersey is set for June 2, with the general election on Nov. 3.

Westlake Legal Group Booker-Singh-AP-Campaign-Photo GOP Senate candidate aims to beat Cory Booker in 2020: 'We are going to remove him from politics' Nick Givas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-jersey fox-news/us/immigration/illegal-immigrants fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-senate-races fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/cory-booker fox news fnc/politics fnc article 209d6613-9e07-5cb0-b10b-296e2a1bfca1   Westlake Legal Group Booker-Singh-AP-Campaign-Photo GOP Senate candidate aims to beat Cory Booker in 2020: 'We are going to remove him from politics' Nick Givas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-jersey fox-news/us/immigration/illegal-immigrants fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-senate-races fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/cory-booker fox news fnc/politics fnc article 209d6613-9e07-5cb0-b10b-296e2a1bfca1

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Mitch McConnell Unites Republicans On Impeachment Trial Rules

Westlake Legal Group 5e14d390250000b0269900d9 Mitch McConnell Unites Republicans On Impeachment Trial Rules

WASHINGTON ― Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that Republicans are prepared to craft rules governing a potential impeachment trial of President Donald Trump without any Democratic support.

Democrats wanted Republicans to agree upfront to hear from witnesses who refused to appear during House impeachment hearings, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton. On Monday, Bolton even offered to testify in the Senate trial if he were subpoenaed, lending Democrats some hope that moderate Republicans would consider backing their effort to expand the scope and length of the Senate trial.

But nearly every Republican senator sided with McConnell, who argued for following the framework for the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. In that proceeding, which began exactly 20 years ago this week, the Senate agreed unanimously on a rules package laying out the logistics of the trial before it had begun. But it punted a decision on calling witnesses until after the initial arguments and senatorial questioning had been completed.

“I can’t say at this point who the specific witnesses should be, if any,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key moderate, told reporters on Monday.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Tuesday he wanted to hear from Bolton, but that he was ultimately “comfortable” with waiting to call witnesses until after the trial had begun.

Three witnesses were subpoenaed during the Clinton trial, though senators viewed their depositions behind closed doors on videotape.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has so far refused to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate and did not answer questions on Tuesday upon entering the Capitol about whether she intended to transmit them to the upper chamber. McConnell has said he cannot begin the trial without the articles.

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