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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 335)

Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

WASHINGTON — In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

“The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.”

Hundreds of scientists, many of whom say they are dismayed at seeing their work undone, are departing.

Among them is Matthew Davis, a biologist whose research on the health risks of mercury to children underpinned the first rules cutting mercury emissions from coal power plants. But last year, with a new baby of his own, he was asked to help support a rollback of those same rules. “I am now part of defending this darker, dirtier future,” he said.

This year, after a decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Davis left.

“Regulations come and go, but the thinning out of scientific capacity in the government will take a long time to get back,” said Joel Clement, a former top climate-policy expert at the Interior Department who quit in 2017 after being reassigned to a job collecting oil and gas royalties. He is now at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group.

Mr. Trump has consistently said that government regulations have stifled businesses and thwarted some of the administration’s core goals, such as increasing fossil-fuel production. Many of the starkest confrontations with federal scientists have involved issues like environmental oversight and energy extraction — areas where industry groups have argued that regulators have gone too far in the past.

“Businesses are finally being freed of Washington’s overreach, and the American economy is flourishing as a result,” a White House statement said last year. Asked about the role of science in policymaking, officials from the White House declined to comment on the record.

The administration’s efforts to cut certain research projects also reflect a longstanding conservative position that some scientific work can be performed cost-effectively by the private sector, and taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to foot the bill. “Eliminating wasteful spending, some of which has nothing to do with studying the science at all, is smart management, not an attack on science,” two analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote in 2017 of the administration’s proposals to eliminate various climate change and clean energy programs.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00CLI-SCIENCE-dorian-articleLarge Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Science and Technology Research Regulation and Deregulation of Industry national institutes of health National Academies of the United States Justice Department Interior Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Government Employees Global Warming Food and Drug Administration Environmental Protection Agency environment Commerce Department

The president’s desk.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Industry groups have expressed support for some of the moves, including a contentious E.P.A. proposal to put new constraints on the use of scientific studies in the name of transparency. The American Chemistry Council, a chemical trade group, praised the proposal by saying, “The goal of providing more transparency in government and using the best available science in the regulatory process should be ideals we all embrace.”

In some cases, the administration’s efforts to roll back government science have been thwarted. Each year, Mr. Trump has proposed sweeping budget cuts at a variety of federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. But Congress has the final say over budget levels and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have rejected the cuts.

For instance, in supporting funding for the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, recently said, “it allows us to take advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research.”

As a result, many science programs continue to thrive, including space exploration at NASA and medical research at the National Institutes of Health, where the budget has increased more than 12 percent since Mr. Trump took office and where researchers continue to make advances in areas like molecular biology and genetics.

Nevertheless, in other areas, the administration has managed to chip away at federal science.

At the E.P.A., for instance, staffing has fallen to its lowest levels in at least a decade. More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey of federal scientists across 16 agencies said that hiring freezes and departures made it harder to conduct scientific work. And in June, the White House ordered agencies to cut by one-third the number of federal advisory boards that provide technical advice.

The White House said it aimed to eliminate committees that were no longer necessary. Panels cut so far had focused on issues including invasive species and electric grid innovation.

At a time when the United States is pulling back from world leadership in other areas like human rights or diplomatic accords, experts warn that the retreat from science is no less significant. Many of the achievements of the past century that helped make the United States an envied global power, including gains in life expectancy, lowered air pollution and increased farm productivity are the result of the kinds of government research now under pressure.

“When we decapitate the government’s ability to use science in a professional way, that increases the risk that we start making bad decisions, that we start missing new public health risks,” said Wendy E. Wagner, a professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin who studies the use of science by policymakers.

Skirmishes over the use of science in making policy occur in all administrations: Industries routinely push back against health studies that could justify stricter pollution rules, for example. And scientists often gripe about inadequate budgets for their work. But many experts say that current efforts to challenge research findings go well beyond what has been done previously.

In an article published in the journal Science last year, Ms. Wagner wrote that some of the Trump administration’s moves, like a policy to restrict certain academics from the E.P.A.’s Science Advisory Board or the proposal to limit the types of research that can be considered by environmental regulators, “mark a sharp departure with the past.” Rather than isolated battles between political officials and career experts, she said, these moves are an attempt to legally constrain how federal agencies use science in the first place.

Some clashes with scientists have sparked public backlash, as when Trump officials pressured the nation’s weather forecasting agency to support the president’s erroneous assertion this year that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

But others have garnered little notice despite their significance.

This year, for instance, the National Park Service’s principle climate change scientist, Patrick Gonzalez, received a “cease and desist” letter from supervisors after testifying to Congress about the risks that global warming posed to national parks.

“I saw it as attempted intimidation,” said Dr. Gonzalez, who added that he was speaking in his capacity as an associate adjunct professor at the University California, Berkeley, a position he also holds. “It’s interference with science and hinders our work.”

Even though Congress hasn’t gone along with Mr. Trump’s proposals for budget cuts at scientific agencies, the administration has still found ways to advance its goals.

One strategy: eliminate individual research projects not explicitly protected by Congress.

For example, just months after Mr. Trump’s election, the Commerce Department disbanded a 15-person scientific committee that had explored how to make National Climate Assessments, the congressionally mandated studies of the risks of climate change, more useful to local officials. It also closed its Office of the Chief Economist, which for decades had conducted wide-ranging research on topics like the economic effects of natural disasters. Similarly, the Interior Department has withdrawn funding for its Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, 22 regional research centers that tackled issues like habitat loss and wildfire management. While California and Alaska used state money to keep their centers open, 16 of 22 remain in limbo.

A Commerce Department official said the climate committee it discontinued had not produced a report, and highlighted other efforts to promote science, such as a major upgrade of the nation’s weather models.

An Interior Department official said the agency’s decisions “are solely based on the facts and grounded in the law,” and that the agency would continue to pursue other partnerships to advance conservation science.

Research that potentially posed an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s promise to expand fossil-fuel production was halted, too. In 2017, Interior officials canceled a $1 million study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the health risks of “mountaintop removal” coal mining in places like West Virginia.

Mountaintop removal is as dramatic as it sounds — a hillside is blasted with explosives and the remains are excavated — but the health consequences still aren’t fully understood. The process can kick up coal dust and send heavy metals into waterways, and a number of studies have suggested links to health problems like kidney disease and birth defects.

“The industry was pushing back on these studies,” said Joseph Pizarchik, an Obama-era mining regulator who commissioned the now-defunct study. “We didn’t know what the answer would be,” he said, “but we needed to know: Was the government permitting coal mining that was poisoning people, or not?”

While coal mining has declined in recent years, satellite data shows that at least 60 square miles in Appalachia have been newly mined since 2016. “The study is still as important today as it was five years ago,” Mr. Pizarchik said.

The cuts can add up to significant research setbacks.

For years, the E.P.A. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences had jointly funded 13 children’s health centers nationwide that studied, among other things, the effects of pollution on children’s development. This year, the E.P.A. ended its funding.

At the University of California, San Francisco, one such center has been studying how industrial chemicals such as flame retardants in furniture could affect placenta and fetal development. Key aspects of the research have now stopped.

“The longer we go without funding, the harder it is to start that research back up,” said Tracey Woodruff, who directs the center.

In a statement, the E.P.A. said it anticipated future opportunities to fund children’s health research.

At the Department of Agriculture, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced in June he would relocate two key research agencies to Kansas City from Washington: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a scientific agency that funds university research on topics like how to breed cattle and corn that can better tolerate drought conditions, and the Economic Research Service, whose economists produce studies for policymakers on farming trends, trade and rural America.

Nearly 600 employees had less than four months to decide whether to uproot and move. Most couldn’t or wouldn’t, and two-thirds of those facing transfer left their jobs.

In August, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, appeared to celebrate the departures.

“It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” he said in videotaped remarks at a Republican Party gala in South Carolina. “But by simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out in the real part of the country,’ and they quit. What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Mulvaney’s speech.

The exodus has led to upheaval.

At the Economic Research Service, dozens of planned studies into topics like dairy industry consolidation and pesticide use have been delayed or disrupted. “You can name any topic in agriculture and we’ve lost an expert,” said Laura Dodson, an economist and acting vice president of the union representing agency employees.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture manages $1.7 billion in grants that fund research on issues like food safety or techniques that help farmers improve their productivity. The staff loss, employees say, has held up hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, such as planned research into pests and diseases afflicting grapes, sweet potatoes and fruit trees.

Former employees say they remain skeptical that the agencies could be repaired quickly. “It will take 5 to 10 years to rebuild,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, who until 2018 directed the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Mr. Perdue said the moves would save money and put the offices closer to farmers. “We did not undertake these relocations lightly,” he said in a statement. A Department of Agriculture official added that both agencies were pushing to continue their work, but acknowledged that some grants could be delayed by months.

In addition to shutting down some programs, there have been notable instances where the administration has challenged established scientific research. Early on, as it started rolling back regulations on industry, administration officials began questioning research findings underpinning those regulations.

In 2017, aides to Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator at the time, told the agency’s economists to redo an analysis of wetlands protections that had been used to help defend an Obama-era clean-water rule. Instead of concluding that the protections would provide more than $500 million in economic benefits, they were told to list the benefits as unquantifiable, according to Elizabeth Southerland, who retired in 2017 from a 30-year career at the E.P.A., finishing as a senior official in its water office.

“It’s not unusual for a new administration to come in and change policy direction,” Dr. Southerland said. “But typically you would look for new studies and carefully redo the analysis. Instead they were sending a message that all the economists, scientists, career staff in the agency were irrelevant.”

Internal documents show that political officials at the E.P.A. have overruled the agency’s career experts on several occasions, including in a move to regulate asbestos more lightly, in a decision not to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos and in a determination that parts of Wisconsin were in compliance with smog standards. The Interior Department sidelined its own legal and environmental analyses in advancing a proposal to raise the Shasta Dam in California.

Michael Abboud, an E.P.A. spokesman, disputed Dr. Southerland’s account in an emailed response, saying “It is not true.”

The E.P.A. is now finalizing a narrower version of the Obama-era water rule, which in its earlier form had prompted outrage from thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country who saw it as overly restrictive.

“E.P.A. under President Trump has worked to put forward the strongest regulations to protect human health and the environment,” Mr. Abboud said, noting that several Obama administration rules had been held up in court and needed revision. “As required by law E.P.A. has always and will continue to use the best available science when developing rules, regardless of the claims of a few federal employees.”

Past administrations have, to varying degrees, disregarded scientific findings that conflicted with their priorities. In 2011, President Obama’s top health official overruled experts at the Food and Drug Administration who had concluded that over-the-counter emergency contraceptives were safe for minors.

But in the Trump administration, the scope is wider. Many top government positions, including at the E.P.A. and the Interior Department, are now occupied by former lobbyists connected to the industries that those agencies oversee.

Scientists and health experts have singled out two moves they find particularly concerning. Since 2017, the E.P.A. has moved to restrict certain academics from sitting on its Science Advisory Board, which provides scrutiny of agency science, and has instead increased the number of appointees connected with industry.

And, in a potentially far-reaching move, the E.P.A. has proposed a rule to limit regulators from using scientific research unless the underlying raw data can be made public. Industry groups like the Chamber of Commerce have argued that some agency rules are based on science that can’t be fully scrutinized by outsiders. But dozens of scientific organizations have warned that the proposal in its current form could prevent the E.P.A. from considering a vast array of research on issues like the dangers of air pollution if, for instance, they are based on confidential health data.

“The problem is that rather than allowing agency scientists to use their judgment and weigh the best available evidence, this could put political constraints on how science enters the decision-making process in the first place,” said Ms. Wagner, the University of Texas law professor.

The E.P.A. says its proposed rule is intended to make the science that underpins potentially costly regulations more transparent. “By requiring transparency,” said Mr. Abboud, the agency spokesman, “scientists will be required to publish hypothesis and experimental data for other scientists to review and discuss, requiring the science to withstand skepticism and peer review.”

“In the past, when we had an administration that was not very pro-environment, we could still just lay low and do our work,” said Betsy Smith, a climate scientist with more than 20 years of experience at the E.P.A. who in 2017 saw her long-running study of the effects of climate change on major ports get canceled.

“Now we feel like the E.P.A. is being run by the fossil fuel industry,” she said. “It feels like a wholesale attack.”

After her project was killed, Dr. Smith resigned.

The loss of experienced scientists can erase years or decades of “institutional memory,” said Robert J. Kavlock, a toxicologist who retired in October 2017 after working at the E.P.A. for 40 years, most recently as acting assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Research and Development.

His former office, which researches topics like air pollution and chemical testing, has lost 250 scientists and technical staff members since Mr. Trump came to office, while hiring 124. Those who have remained in the office of roughly 1,500 people continue to do their work, Dr. Kavlock said, but are not going out of their way to promote findings on lightning-rod topics like climate change.

“You can see that they’re trying not to ruffle any feathers,” Dr. Kavlock said.

The same can’t be said of Patrick Gonzalez, the National Park Service’s principle climate change scientist, whose work involves helping national parks protect against damages from rising temperatures.

In February, Dr. Gonzalez testified before Congress about the risks of global warming, saying he was speaking in his capacity as an associate adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also using his Berkeley affiliation to participate as a co-author on a coming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that synthesizes climate science for world leaders.

But in March, shortly after testifying, Dr. Gonzalez’s supervisor at the National Park Service sent the cease-and-desist letter warning him that his Berkeley affiliation was not separate from his government work and that his actions were violating agency policy. Dr. Gonzalez said he viewed the letter as an attempt to deter him from speaking out.

The Interior Department, asked to comment, said the letter did not indicate an intent to sanction Dr. Gonzalez and that he was free to speak as a private citizen.

Dr. Gonzalez, with the support of Berkeley, continues to warn about the dangers of climate change and work with the United Nations climate change panel using his vacation time, and he spoke again to Congress in June. “I’d like to provide a positive example for other scientists,” he said.

Still, he noted that not everyone may be in a position to be similarly outspoken. “How many others are not speaking up?” Dr. Gonzalez said.

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Conspirators are convinced Burger King’s Impossible Whopper gives men breasts

Burger King’s Impossible Whopper has become a hit for the fast-food franchise, but a conspiracy theory that the meatless burger causes men to grow breasts has become a growing concern online.

Men all over the Internet have sounded the alarm on the plant-based Impossible Whopper’s alleged side effect.

VEGANS SUE BURGER KING OVER IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER, CLAIM PATTY WAS CONTAMINATED BY MEAT IN CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT

“Healthy young man goes to Burger King, gets pumped with a massive shot of Impossible Whoppers, doesn’t feel good and changes – BREASTS. Many such cases!” one Twitter user posted on Wednesday.

Another person tweeted on Thursday, “Sure, let’s turn our boys into girls fast!!! What a great agenda!”

WOMAN EATS BURGER KING IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER WHILE SKYDIVING, PLANS TO START FILMING ‘WEEKLY FOOD REVIEWS IN THE SKY’

“Social engineering is not enough apparently these days, so let’s do it with the food that we eat!” another wrote.

Apparently the origin of the concerns stems from a Dec. 20 report by Tri-State Livestock News, which claimed that the Impossible Whopper, supplied by Impossible Foods, contains so much estrogen that it could lead to literal man boobs.

“There are 1 million nanograms (ng) in one milligram (mg). That means an impossible whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper,” wrote James Stangle, a doctor of veterinary medicine in South Dakota. “Just six glasses of soy milk per day has enough estrogen to grow boobs on a male.”

Westlake Legal Group Impossible-Whopper-Impossible-Foods Conspirators are convinced Burger King's Impossible Whopper gives men breasts Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/health fox-news/food-drink/food/fast-food fox news fnc/food-drink fnc article 007184c6-f849-5e02-8828-b008bc391760

(Photo: Burger King)

Stangle’s number crunching and conclusion, however, may be skewed, the Washington Post reported.

For one, Tri-State Livestock News is a trade publication for the livestock industry and according to its About Us page, “growth and success of Tri-State Livestock News is due to the long-term support from the publication’s stockmen and agribusiness customer base.”

For obvious reasons, the growth of plant-based companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat has become an adversary of sorts to the livestock industry.

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However, experts have pushed back against the suggestion that plant-based foods, often containing soy estrogens, cause men to grow breasts or have other negative outcomes.

“Asians have been eating soy products for millennia and don’t seem to be any the worse for it. They have among the longest lifespans and best health, at least in classic diets,” said New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle.

Westlake Legal Group Eating-Soy-iStock Conspirators are convinced Burger King's Impossible Whopper gives men breasts Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/health fox-news/food-drink/food/fast-food fox news fnc/food-drink fnc article 007184c6-f849-5e02-8828-b008bc391760

“Asians have been eating soy products for millennia and don’t seem to be any the worse for it,” said New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle (Photo: iStock)

“There is a special concern about . . . men and boys who eat soy products, but again, if you look at populations that eat a lot of soy products, there is no evidence of particular problems. No, they don’t grow breasts.”

What’s more, she said, there’s a ton of research that can make the case for both arguments in terms of the health benefits or harms of eating soy products.

“Whether this is good, bad or indifferent depends entirely on who you read and what you read,” she added. “There is an enormous, enormous, enormous amount of literature on soy estrogens, and it comes to sort of baffling conclusions. Some studies show harm, some studies show benefits. What do you do in a situation like that?”

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The conclusion?

“My take on soy products is that they’re foods like any other, and like any other, they should be eaten in moderation,” Nestle said.

“Eating it once in a while is unlikely to be harmful. Eating it every day and having it as a main source of calories, I don’t know anybody who does that.”

Or as one Twitter user put it: “Eating too much Burger King in general will give you a nice set of man [boobs]. It has nothing to do with the impossible Whopper.”

Westlake Legal Group Impossible-Whopper-Impossible-Foods Conspirators are convinced Burger King's Impossible Whopper gives men breasts Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/health fox-news/food-drink/food/fast-food fox news fnc/food-drink fnc article 007184c6-f849-5e02-8828-b008bc391760   Westlake Legal Group Impossible-Whopper-Impossible-Foods Conspirators are convinced Burger King's Impossible Whopper gives men breasts Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/health fox-news/food-drink/food/fast-food fox news fnc/food-drink fnc article 007184c6-f849-5e02-8828-b008bc391760

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New York Times’ Bret Stephens faces racism accusations after penning ‘Jewish genius’ column

Westlake Legal Group Bret-Stephens-August-11-2019 New York Times' Bret Stephens faces racism accusations after penning 'Jewish genius' column Sam Dorman fox-news/world/religion/judaism fox-news/us/religion/controversies fox news fnc/media fnc ba754ed2-53f1-513f-ba70-140d4b1c8a04 article

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens received a wave of criticism on Saturday after publishing a column in which he asserted that Ashkenazi Jews had higher IQ’s than any other ethnic group.

Titled “The Secrets of Jewish Genius,” Stephens’ column argued that there was more to Jewish intelligence than their IQ’s. “Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different,” he said.

But Stephens’ overriding assumption about Jewish intelligence prompted many to accuse him of promoting eugenics.

“The NYT needs to delete and retract this racist nonsense from, of course, Bret Stephens,” columnist Brandon Friedman tweeted.

NYT’S BRET STEPHENS RIDICULED FOR WWII COLUMN WITH REFERENCE TO ‘BEDBUGS’ INSULT

Jewish Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, also weighed in, arguing that Stephens’ latest column “crossed a very important line.”

Author Reza Aslan asked: “Can someone please explain to me why the f–k Bret Stephens still has a column in the @nytimes?”

Many took aim at the Times for allowing Stephens to publish the column.

“Just shut down this garbage newspaper,” writer Ben Norton tweeted.

BRET STEPHENS ON ‘BEDBUG’ CONTROVERSY, LEAVING TWITTER: INSECT COMPARISONS HAVE ‘TOTALITARIAN’ HISTORY

Daniel Summers, a pediatrician and writer for Slate, similarly wondered by the Times published the story.

“Gonna skip right over any irony or wry humor. I simply cannot believe that Bret Stephens piece about Jewish IQ saw the light of day, and there needs to be a very serious examination of how it managed to,” he said.

The Times did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Stephens previously came under fire for suggesting a professor used an anti-semitic slur when he called the Times columnist a “bedbug.”

TRUMP MOCKS NYT’S BRET STEPHENS: MY RESORT DOESN’T HAVE ‘BEDBUGS,’ BUT HE’S ‘LOADED UP WITH THEM’

Dave Karpf, the George Washington University associate professor who unwittingly ignited a feud with the Times columnist by mocking him on Twitter, mocked Stephens again- this time for pursuing “pointless online vendettas.”

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“This just stopped being funny,” Karpf tweeted. “The New York Times is the paper of record. The entire internet knows who Bret Stephens just subtweeted with his column. He should know better. He doesn’t. That’s not okay anymore.”

Stephens, however, stood by his criticism. “There is a bad history of being analogized to insects that goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes,” Stephens said during an MSNBC appearance in August.

The columnist called the professor’s words “dehumanizing” and argued people should be the same on social media as they are in “real life.”

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Stephens left Twitter over the incident, which started after news surfaced that the Times’ offices were infested with bed bugs. George Washington University professor David Karpf joked that “the bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens.”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Bret-Stephens-August-11-2019 New York Times' Bret Stephens faces racism accusations after penning 'Jewish genius' column Sam Dorman fox-news/world/religion/judaism fox-news/us/religion/controversies fox news fnc/media fnc ba754ed2-53f1-513f-ba70-140d4b1c8a04 article   Westlake Legal Group Bret-Stephens-August-11-2019 New York Times' Bret Stephens faces racism accusations after penning 'Jewish genius' column Sam Dorman fox-news/world/religion/judaism fox-news/us/religion/controversies fox news fnc/media fnc ba754ed2-53f1-513f-ba70-140d4b1c8a04 article

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Amy McGrath Is Now Officially Challenging Mitch McConnell – McGrath, a former Marine pilot, is already out-fundraising the Senate Republican leader.

Westlake Legal Group EFCv0xnBHNm0C5MQR-kdw5W0j1FERneExeKfBYyZmjE Amy McGrath Is Now Officially Challenging Mitch McConnell - McGrath, a former Marine pilot, is already out-fundraising the Senate Republican leader. r/politics

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Andrew Yang ends self-imposed MSNBC boycott, wants to reach ‘as many Americans as possible’

Westlake Legal Group Andrew-Yang-MSNBC-AP Andrew Yang ends self-imposed MSNBC boycott, wants to reach 'as many Americans as possible' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/media fnc article 94156f2d-f8f5-564f-99b8-6bab0b1f802d

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appeared on MSNBC Friday, apparently ending a weeks-long feud over the network’s coverage of his campaign.

Prior to his appearance on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Yang tweeted that his message is too important for him not to try and reach as many voters as he can.

“I am sitting down for a remote interview with Chris Hayes from South Carolina tonight,” he said, referring to the MSNBC host.

“Chris, and other MSNBC journalists, have reached out to me and the team in the past days. I decided that I’d prefer to speak to as many Americans as possible — our message is too important.”

ANDREW YANG WON’T RETURN TO MSNBC UNTIL THEY APOLOGIZE ‘ON-AIR’ TO HIS CAMPAIGN

MSNBC faced backlash last month both from Twitter users and Yang himself after the network omitted him from prominent parts of its 2020 coverage. Yang specifically demanded an on-air apology and #MSNBCFearsYang trended on Twitter.

“I appreciate everyone’s support,” Yang said Friday. “You all are the best. Let’s get our message out to as many people as possible and shock the world in 38 days.”

The businessman and his supporters previously attacked MSNBC, noting the relatively low amount of speaking time he had in comparison to other candidates at November’s Democratic primary debate, co-moderated by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

ANDREW YANG SUPPORTERS GATHERED OUTSIDE MSNBC DEBATE BLASTING NETWORK’S TREATMENT OF CANDIDATE

“lt felt great … but then it felt like, ‘When the hell are they going to f—–g call on me?'” Yang reportedly said at a watch party. “The hypocrisy of MSNBC in a way just makes us stronger. I’m almost — almost grateful.”

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According to a New York Times analysis, Yang spoke for less time (6 minutes, 48 seconds) than any other candidate on the stage. The majority of candidates spoke for more than 10 minutes. Only Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and billionaire Tom Steyer spoke for fewer than 10 minutes.

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Prior to that debate, the network excluded Yang from a graphic on polling and one previewing the debate.

The network attempted to apologize on Sunday but was mocked by Yang’s campaign manager. “Thank you @MSNBC, for making this apology for the 15th time. The #YangGang is very excited for #16,” campaign manager Zach Graumann said.

Westlake Legal Group Andrew-Yang-MSNBC-AP Andrew Yang ends self-imposed MSNBC boycott, wants to reach 'as many Americans as possible' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/media fnc article 94156f2d-f8f5-564f-99b8-6bab0b1f802d   Westlake Legal Group Andrew-Yang-MSNBC-AP Andrew Yang ends self-imposed MSNBC boycott, wants to reach 'as many Americans as possible' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/media fnc article 94156f2d-f8f5-564f-99b8-6bab0b1f802d

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Amy McGrath Is Now Officially Challenging Mitch McConnell – McGrath, a former Marine pilot, is already out-fundraising the Senate Republican leader.

Westlake Legal Group EFCv0xnBHNm0C5MQR-kdw5W0j1FERneExeKfBYyZmjE Amy McGrath Is Now Officially Challenging Mitch McConnell - McGrath, a former Marine pilot, is already out-fundraising the Senate Republican leader. r/politics

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Biden clarifies remark that he will not comply with Senate subpoena

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118591032001_6118586455001-vs Biden clarifies remark that he will not comply with Senate subpoena fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox news fnc/politics fnc article Adam Shaw 9a0c9716-89f2-5a02-9b1d-af9c6b0ecc2e

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday sought to “clarify” his prior remarks that he will not comply with a potential subpoena to testify in the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump.

The 2020 presidential hopeful on Friday had told the Des Moines Register that any testimony would draw attention away from Trump’s alleged wrongdoing and let him off the hook.

HUNTER BIDEN, WIFE MISSING FROM BIDEN FAMILY CHRISTMAS PHOTO POSTED ON TWITTER

“What are you going to cover?” Biden said in response to a question about the possibility of his participation in the trial. “You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And (Trump’s) going to get away.”

But on Saturday, he appeared to partially walk that answer back.

“I want to clarify something I said yesterday. In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office — unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests,” he tweeted.

“But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial. That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump’s conduct, not mine,” he said.

HUNTER BIDEN IS SUBJECT OF CRIMINAL PROBES, SAYS PI FIRM HINTING AT MORE INCRIMINATING DETAILS

The House voted to impeach Trump on two articles this month — obstruction of Congress and abuse of power — in relation to his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that call, Trump urged Zelensky to open investigations into Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election, as well as into Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in the country.

Democrats have alleged that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to secure the investigations as part of what they say was a quid pro quo and even bribery. Trump has said he was only interested in corruption, and has noted that the aid was eventually unlocked.

But after a grueling few months for Trump of an impeachment inquiry in the Democrat-controlled House, the articles are expected to soon be sent to the Republican-controlled Senate for an impeachment trial — where Trump is almost certain to be acquitted and where Republicans get to set the agenda.

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It is possible that Republicans turn the trial into its own investigation of Biden’s conduct in relation to Ukraine — specifically his demand in 2016 that Ukraine fire a prosecutor who investigated an energy firm where Hunter sat on the board.

On Saturday, Biden said instead that subpoenas should go to witnesses with “testimony to offer to Trump’s shaking down the Ukraine government — they should go to the White House.”

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118591032001_6118586455001-vs Biden clarifies remark that he will not comply with Senate subpoena fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox news fnc/politics fnc article Adam Shaw 9a0c9716-89f2-5a02-9b1d-af9c6b0ecc2e   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118591032001_6118586455001-vs Biden clarifies remark that he will not comply with Senate subpoena fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox news fnc/politics fnc article Adam Shaw 9a0c9716-89f2-5a02-9b1d-af9c6b0ecc2e

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Belinda & Stephan Bauman: Christianity Today vs. Trump – Remember, Jesus isn’t a Republican or Democrat

Westlake Legal Group 4ce66ae3-Good-Friday-LatAm-31 Belinda & Stephan Bauman: Christianity Today vs. Trump – Remember, Jesus isn’t a Republican or Democrat Stephan Bauman fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc Belinda Bauman article 09b11017-434a-55c7-a876-06b07e6c0fdf

The heated debate sparked by Mark Galli’s editorial in Christianity Today calling for the removal of President Trump from office has struck a nerve in the evangelical community and our nation. But as evangelicals square off into pro- and anti-Trump camps, one obvious truth seems to be forgotten: Christianity is a religion, not a political movement.

And Jesus Christ isn’t a Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Communist, Libertarian, or member of any other political party or movement in the U.S. or any nation.

Several hundred clergy and religious leaders have condemned the Christianity Today editorial. Another group is speaking out in favor of it. There’s talk about coalitions forming both in support and against the president.

JERRY FALWELL JR.: CHRISTIANITY TODAY IS WRONG ABOUT TRUMP – HE IS A CHAMPION FOR PEOPLE OF FAITH

All this has served to kick up a hornets’ nest within the evangelical community, dividing us over whether we support or oppose the president of the United States. But this not an issue that should be splitting our movement in two. If it does, the implications are dangerous to the fabric of our faith and the future of our country.

We first learned to engage the political world when the organization we served, World Relief, hosted Laura Bush as part of the first lady’s tour of Africa. We celebrated the George W. Bush administration’s life-saving efforts to thwart the AIDS epidemic through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

At the same time, we spoke out against the Bush administration when it chose to invade Iraq, costing hundreds of thousands of lives.

Years later, we worked with the Obama administration and a bipartisan group of senators toward an immigration reform bill that was strong on border security but compassionate toward immigrant families.

And we challenged the Obama administration’s proposal to fund abortions abroad with American tax dollars. President Obama’s chief of staff, Dennis McDonough, a devout Catholic, was instrumental in stopping this proposal.

If we were to ask Jesus if He is for or against President Trump, He would say “neither.” Jesus is not a politician. He is on the side of the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant and the prisoner. He’s on the side of truth, mercy and love. And He doesn’t judge, blame or shame those who differ with Him.

To give carte blanche support or opposition to any political party or politician – no matter what they say or do – is to forfeit our mandate as followers of Jesus.

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At times the community of faith is called to partner with the government – for example, during times of critical need, injustice or crisis involving righteous conduct. Natural disasters and disease strike without mercy, regardless of the political affiliation of victims. There is nothing partisan about helping to save lives and promote recovery and healing.

The actions of churches in stemming the tide of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and in fighting sex trafficking are good examples globally. Responding to the call to “welcome the stranger” through refugee resettlement or immigration reform, or “visit the prisoner” by addressing the rampant incarceration rates among African-Americans, are examples closer to home.

But we are also called to serve a prophetic role by speaking up when our government fails to side with truth, mercy or love.

Not taking sides in political battles doesn’t mean we disengage by cloistering ourselves or sticking our heads in the sand. Jesus immersed himself into His culture because He loved people, and cared about their lives. So should we.

To follow Jesus, however, we must weigh the pros and cons of all policies – not just a favorite few, as important as they are – and consider the implications across the whole spectrum of life.

The voices of the unborn, the persecuted, the marginalized, the poor, the victim, the prisoner, the survivor and the elderly – to name just a few – must all be present in our discourse, commitments and decisions.

Do we care about the starvation in South Sudan, the death of innocent people in Yemen and the gun violence in Central America as much as rural poverty, incarceration or the opioid epidemic in the United States? Is an American life worth more than any other?

Putting faith above politics has never been more important. When we inverse that priority, we mute our prophetic voice and can become political pawns of the government.

Our decisions must also consider both the means and the ends. Justifying bad ethics for certain outcomes is not only wrong, but dangerous to our faith and country.

As Christians, we aspire to a faithful witness – representing the nature and ethics of Jesus in our thoughts, words and deeds. Our propensity for taking sides and endorsing policies that are helpful to some but hurtful to others distorts our witness.

Worse, putting our tribe first and deeming those who don’t agree with us as traitors or enemies presents an anti-witness to the world. We end up parading a mascot rather than the real Jesus, observing shibboleths and vacuous catchphrases or ideas to determine who’s in and who’s out.

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Our faith devolves into a caricature, crippling our message, and our churches start to feel like members-only clubs. The rest of the world calls us hypocrites, and for good reason. Our own sons, both on the cusp of voting and choosing their own expressions of faith, say they want Jesus, just not white evangelicalism.

Of course, taking sides isn’t new, but social media and their echo chamber have accelerated side-taking. It’s much easier to cast blame than take responsibility.

Jesus didn’t present a theology of good people or bad; we’re all in need of redemption. Admitting when we are wrong matters. Ignoring or excusing our flaws without genuine humility sets us against the biblical narrative, not for it.

Above all, we need to live out this humility through our daily ethics. Perhaps the most important thing we can do as followers of Jesus is to repent for placing policies, platforms and parties above people – and even above God Himself.

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When we place faith above politics, we become more engaged, not less. Our conversation will transcend political divides, and our voice will speak truth to both parties.

When we jettison the dangerous categories of us versus them, tribe or traitor and even conservative or liberal, we’ll experience the reform we long for in our faith communities, maybe even revival. And our country will look to us as a safe harbor in polarizing times.

Stephan Bauman is the former president/CEO of World Relief and author of “Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith from a Culture of Fear” and co-author of “Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis.”

Westlake Legal Group 4ce66ae3-Good-Friday-LatAm-31 Belinda & Stephan Bauman: Christianity Today vs. Trump – Remember, Jesus isn’t a Republican or Democrat Stephan Bauman fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc Belinda Bauman article 09b11017-434a-55c7-a876-06b07e6c0fdf   Westlake Legal Group 4ce66ae3-Good-Friday-LatAm-31 Belinda & Stephan Bauman: Christianity Today vs. Trump – Remember, Jesus isn’t a Republican or Democrat Stephan Bauman fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc Belinda Bauman article 09b11017-434a-55c7-a876-06b07e6c0fdf

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Netherlands to drop ‘Holland’ nickname from tourism promotions in New Year rebrand: report

The Netherlands is set to drop its long-used alternative moniker of “Holland” as it seeks to re-brand itself in the New Year.

Starting January, the Dutch government will officially drop the nickname that has been in use for more than 25 years and instead will only use “Netherlands” on all its literature and marketing materials.

The rebrand is expected to cost nearly $320,000 and will also include a logo that combines the initials NL with an orange tulip, the country’s national flower, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, citing the news agency EFE.

Westlake Legal Group Man-Shopping-Bag-Getty Netherlands to drop ‘Holland’ nickname from tourism promotions in New Year rebrand: report Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc article 472f4697-bad7-5842-b0b3-c48fa826eb1c

Amsterdam – a city of 1 million residents – receives around 17 million visitors a year. (Photo by Ana Fernandez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Holland is not the official name of the country – it is actually a region of the Netherlands that includes the well-known cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

However, the two names are often used interchangeably to describe the northern European country.

The country’s tourism industry began promoting the nation using the nickname 25 years ago but seems to now want to focus on presenting the country as a whole.

‘ALADDIN’ STAR PROPOSES TO PRINCESS JASMINE ON STAGE DURING PLAY

“It is a little strange to promote only a small part of the Netherlands abroad, that is, only Holland,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry told EFE.

Part of the new strategy, marketing will increase a focus on sustainable tourism by looking at longer-stay visitors to cities beyond the already popular, the Independent reported.

Amsterdam – a city of 1 million residents – receives around 17 million visitors a year.

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In addition to the rebrand, EFE reported the tourism ministry will close offices in Spain, Italy, and Japan in the spring of 2020 in favor of countries that send larger numbers of recurring visitors to the Netherlands.

Westlake Legal Group Man-Shopping-Bag-Getty Netherlands to drop ‘Holland’ nickname from tourism promotions in New Year rebrand: report Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc article 472f4697-bad7-5842-b0b3-c48fa826eb1c   Westlake Legal Group Man-Shopping-Bag-Getty Netherlands to drop ‘Holland’ nickname from tourism promotions in New Year rebrand: report Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc article 472f4697-bad7-5842-b0b3-c48fa826eb1c

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‘Aladdin’ star proposes to Princess Jasmine on stage during play

Don’t you dare close your eyes!

A real-life Aladdin asked for his Princess Jasmine’s hand in marriage in an adorable onstage proposal in England.

In a case of life imitating art, during curtain call at Friday night’s stage production of “Aladdin” at De Montfort Hall, male lead Matthew Pomeroy, 30, surprised the audience and his co-star, Natasha Lamb, with an unforgettable marriage proposal.

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“The last four years you’ve changed my life. You are the kindest, most caring person,” Pomeroy told Lamb as the cast stood on the stage.

On bended knee, he continued: “Tash, I love you with all my heart. You’re my best friend and if you’ll let me… I want to share my life with you.”

WOMAN SLAMMED FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT ENGAGEMENT RING SIZE, TOLD HER FINGER IS THE PROBLEM

The audience erupted in a thunderous sound of applause as Lamb gleefully accepted the proposal.

What made the moment more special was that Pomeroy had arranged for their parents to be there to witness.

“It was scary,” Pomeroy told the BBC. “I hadn’t worked out where to put the ring after my costume change for the finale as it didn’t have pockets – so when I bowed I thought it would fall out the belt.

“I spend my life on stage – it’s my happy place. Proposing on there fits me perfectly,” he added.

Westlake Legal Group Image-copyrightIMAGINE-THEATRE-DE-MONTFORT-HALL-1 'Aladdin' star proposes to Princess Jasmine on stage during play Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/lifestyle/weddings fox-news/lifestyle/relationships fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 962d27d8-038d-5363-a0bb-97529d09e468

Lamb, 26, said she was “still a bit overwhelmed” by the shocking proposal. (Theatre/De Montfort Hall)

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The couple reportedly met backstage while performing at Butlins in the U.K., and have toured the world performing together ever since.

Lamb, 26, said she was “still a bit overwhelmed” by the shocking proposal.

“It’s a bit of a blur – I’m glad I’ve got the video to watch it back,” she said. “I had no idea what he was going to do, it was incredible.

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“It’s the best way for us,” she added, on sharing their love story before an audience. “We spend every day together on stage and shall carry on for however many more years to come.”

Pomeroy agreed: “It made it more magical and special.”

Westlake Legal Group Image-copyrightIMAGINE-THEATRE-DE-MONTFORT-HALL-2 'Aladdin' star proposes to Princess Jasmine on stage during play Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/lifestyle/weddings fox-news/lifestyle/relationships fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 962d27d8-038d-5363-a0bb-97529d09e468   Westlake Legal Group Image-copyrightIMAGINE-THEATRE-DE-MONTFORT-HALL-2 'Aladdin' star proposes to Princess Jasmine on stage during play Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/lifestyle/weddings fox-news/lifestyle/relationships fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 962d27d8-038d-5363-a0bb-97529d09e468

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