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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 40)

Israeli Parliament Votes To Dissolve, Readies For Third Election In A Year

Westlake Legal Group 5df16e132100002d0734fb9a Israeli Parliament Votes To Dissolve, Readies For Third Election In A Year

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s parliament on Wednesday approved a preliminary vote to dissolve itself, putting the country on the verge of an unprecedented third election in a 12-month period while giving scandal-plagued Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a welcome break as he fights to save his political career.

After months of political deadlock following a September election, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the first of three votes required to dissolve the parliament and set a March 2 date for new elections. Two more readings were scheduled later Wednesday. Lawmakers had faced a midnight deadline that would have automatically dissolved parliament and set elections later in March.

A new campaign would prolong a year-long political stalemate that has paralyzed the government and undermined public trust in the government. For the third time in the past year, the country now appears to be heading to what is sure to be a nasty three-month political campaign that according to recent opinion polls is expected to deliver very similar results.

In September’s vote, Netanyahu’s Likud party and the rival Blue and White party both were unable to secure a parliamentary majority. Netanyahu and Blue and White’s leader, former military commander Benny Gantz, both failed during officially mandated periods to cobble together a governing coalition. Then, during a final three-week window that ended Wednesday, they were unable to agree on a power-sharing agreement that would have avoided another vote.

Both men had insisted they want to avoid another costly election campaign. And together, their parties control a solid majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

But neither was willing to compromise on their core demands for a unity government. Netanyahu insisted on serving as prime minister, where he is best positioned to fight his recent indictment on a series of corruption charges. Gantz has refused to serve under a prime minister with such serious legal problems and called on Likud to choose a different leader.

Given the divisions in Israeli society, and the deep mistrust between the opposing camps, there appears to be little hope that another vote will break the loop of elections and instability that has rocked the country for the past year. In the recent campaigns, the candidates have launched deep personal attacks on one another, and Netanyahu has been accused of inciting against the country’s Arab minority.

“Keep your children away from the television,” said Yair Lapid, a senior member of Blue and White, saying the campaign will be a “festival of hate, violence and disgust.”

“What used to be a celebration of democracy has become a moment of shame for this building,” he added. “There are only three reasons for this election — bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” he said, referring to the criminal charges filed against Netanyahu last month.

Netanyahu skipped the vote. But in a video on social media, he accused Gantz of conspiring with Arab leaders and “forcing” new elections. “In order to prevent this happening again, there is only one thing we must do: win and win big,” he said.

The upcoming campaign is expected to cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars, and a string of caretaker governments has frozen major legislation, key appointments, long-term planning and budgets for the military and important government ministries.

But for Netanyahu, the country’s longest-sever serving leader, a new campaign offers a much-needed lifeline.

Netanyahu was indicted last month on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. He is desperately clinging to power to wage his legal battle from the favorable perch of prime minister. Israeli law does not require a sitting prime minister to resign if charged with a crime.

Netanyahu can now use his office in the coming months as a bully pulpit to continue his attacks on prosecutors and police investigators, whom he has accused of staging an “attempted coup” against him.

Without a functioning parliament in place, Netanyahu can also put on hold his expected request for immunity from prosecution.

The outgoing parliament does not have a majority in favor of granting him immunity. Netanyahu can now hope that the next election delivers him a more favorable result. After the March election, he also could use coalition negotiations as leverage to push potential partners to support his immunity request. Netanyahu’s trial appears to be on hold until the immunity issue is resolved.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said that being in the prime minister’s post during these negotiations is a huge advantage. “Because then one can trade politically important Cabinet portfolios and so on in return for support for the immunity,” he said.

Netanyahu’s first immediate challenge will be to fend off an insurrection inside Likud. The party announced Wednesday that it will hold a leadership primary on Dec. 26.

One renegade lawmaker, Gideon Saar, has already said he will challenge Netanyahu, though the prime minister remains popular in the party and appears to have a solid edge.

Netanyahu could also face new legal questions. Although he is currently not required to step down, Israeli law is unclear about whether he could be given the authority to form a new government after the next election. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who was criticized for his slow decision making before he indicted Netanyahu, will now be required to rule on that question as well.

Even if Netanyahu overcomes these challenges, polls indicate that he will not be able to muster a majority in favor of granting him immunity or forming a coalition government.

Maverick politician Avigdor Lieberman, a former Netanyahu ally, has turned into the prime minister’s greatest nemesis.

Lieberman served in a string of Netanyahu governments, but then abruptly resigned as defense minister last December to protest what he thought were weak policies toward Gaza militants.

That resignation pushed the country into its current predicament, setting the stage for inconclusive elections in April and then in September. Though Lieberman shares Netanyahu’s hardline views toward the Palestinians, his secular Yisrael Beitenu party opposes Netanyahu’s close relations with ultra-Orthodox religious parties.

Refusing to endorse either Netanyahu or Gantz, Lieberman has repeatedly called on them to form a broad unity government. If the three leaders continue to refuse to soften their positions, it seems unlikely a new election will break the deadlock.

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Discussion Thread: House Judiciary Committee Debates Articles of Impeachment – 12/11/2019 | Live – 7:00pm EST

This evening House Judiciary Committee members will debate the two Articles of Impeachment against President Trump, which were introduced yesterday by House Leaders

The articles announced were Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress

Tonight’s session is intended for Committee members to present their opening statements. All members are afforded time to present, which is expected to take up to four hours. Debate is expected to begin tomorrow morning, with a Committee vote possible at some time tomorrow.


The Press Conference is scheduled to begin at 7:00pm EST. You can watch live online on

  • CSPAN

  • More live feeds tbd

You can also listen online via


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Kelly Ripa reveals 2019 family Christmas card

Westlake Legal Group kelly20ripa20mark20consuelos20Reuters202016 Kelly Ripa reveals 2019 family Christmas card Julius Young fox-news/person/kelly-ripa fox-news/entertainment/genres/family fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 757d69b0-ef07-5b7a-93d7-f72ca9d139c8

Just one week after unveiling the family’s Christmas tree, dubbed “The Lady,” Kelly Ripa is back again — this time to reveal the Consuelos family holiday card.

On Wednesday, Ripa, 49, shared the images on Instagram.

The photo collage shows Ripa and her loved ones striking their best family poses — both serious and cheeky — while the “Live with Kelly and Ryan” co-host orchestrates the whole charade; some images show Ripa setting the camera timer and barely making it back to pose in time for the shutter to capture the family moment.

KELLY RIPA IS ‘REGRETFUL’ SHE AND MARK CONSUELOS DID NOT HAVE A 4TH KID

“With love, The Consuelos Family Mark, Kelly, Michael, Lola and Joaquin (Chewie not pictured),” she wrote.

Wrapping up what can only be described as an eventful 2019, the Consuelos family saw the venerable television hostess and her family on multiple coasts, most notably when the family jetted to Europe for vacation shortly after their daughter Lola, 18, graduated from high school. She later joined her older brother, Michael, 22, at New York University.

Other details in the adorable holiday card read include that the family is “tipping into 2020,” with Ripa and Consuelos’ youngest child, 16-year-old Joaquin Antonio, donning a dapper royal blue velvet suit jacket, easily standing out from the rest of the pack – which opted for the traditional black-and-white look.

KELLY RIPA TEASES SHE’D NEED A ‘PLASTIC SURGEON’ TO MATCH HUSBAND MARK CONSUELOS’ TONED PHYSIQUE

Last month, Ripa had her bachelorette party after more two decades of marriage to her “Riverdale” star husband, 48, whom she eloped with in 1996.

Abiding by the five “official rules” of a Las Vegas bachelorette party, the ladies of “Live” sought to check out the city with cocktails, do something erotic, do something tasty, dance and get surprised by a stripper.

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Ripa said to fellow co-host Ryan Seacrest at the time: “No actual strippers were hurt in the making of that piece.”

Fox News’ Nate Day contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group kelly20ripa20mark20consuelos20Reuters202016 Kelly Ripa reveals 2019 family Christmas card Julius Young fox-news/person/kelly-ripa fox-news/entertainment/genres/family fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 757d69b0-ef07-5b7a-93d7-f72ca9d139c8   Westlake Legal Group kelly20ripa20mark20consuelos20Reuters202016 Kelly Ripa reveals 2019 family Christmas card Julius Young fox-news/person/kelly-ripa fox-news/entertainment/genres/family fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 757d69b0-ef07-5b7a-93d7-f72ca9d139c8

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UK Leaders Scramble For Final Votes On Last Day Of Campaign

Westlake Legal Group 5df1750d250000b861d2fe0a UK Leaders Scramble For Final Votes On Last Day Of Campaign

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s election has been like the country’s late-autumn weather: chilly and dull, with blustery outbursts.

On the last day of the campaign, political leaders dashed around the U.K. on Wednesday trying to win over millions of undecided voters who will likely determine the outcome.

Opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have a lead over the main opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn ahead of Thursday’s election. But all the parties are nervous about the verdict of a volatile electorate fed up after years of Brexit wrangling.

Truck driver Clive Jordan expressed a weariness that could be heard up and down the country during the five-week campaign.

“Basically I just want it over and done with now,” he said. “Nobody’s doing what they said. Everybody’s lying.”

Britain’s first December vote since 1923 has been dubbed the Brexit Election. It is being held more than two years early in hopes of breaking Britain’s political deadlock over the country’s stalled departure from the European Union.

Johnson has focused relentlessly on Brexit throughout the campaign, endlessly repeating his slogan “Get Brexit done.” He says that if he wins a majority of the 650 House of Commons seats on Thursday, he will get Parliament to ratify his “oven-ready” divorce deal with the EU and take Britain out of the bloc as scheduled on Jan. 31.

“If we can get a working majority, we have a deal, it’s ready to go,” Johnson said Wednesday as he watched pies being baked at a catering firm in central England. “We put it in, slam it in the oven, take it out and there it is ― get Brexit done.”

As a slogan, “Get Brexit done” is both misleading and effective. If Britain leaves the EU on Jan. 31 it will only kick-start months or years of negotiations on future trade relations with the bloc, involving tough trade-offs between independence and access.

“His campaign was all about ‘Getting Brexit done,’ but actually it’s about getting Brexit started,” said Tony Travers, professor of government at the London School of Economics. “Elections seem to suggest these things are easy; they’re not.”

But the notion of an end to the Brexit melodrama is tempting to voters who have watched politicians bicker for more than three years since Britain’s June 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

“Brexit is fueling the election,” said Allan Bailey, a parish councilor in Clowne, a former coal-mining village in the central England constituency of Bolsover. “If one person can offer this area … Brexit, that person will win.”

The Conservatives have focused much of their energy on trying to win seats like Bolsover — working-class towns in central and northern England that have elected Labour lawmakers for decades, but also voted strongly in 2016 to leave the EU.

Polls suggest that plan may be working, and the Conservatives have also been helped by the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage, which decided at the last minute not to contest 317 Conservative-held seats to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

Labour — which is largely but ambiguously pro-EU — faces competition for anti-Brexit voters from the centrist Liberal Democrats, Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties and the Greens.

“The only reason the Conservatives are so far ahead in the polls now is that the ‘remain’ vote is divided,” said Rosie Campbell, professor of politics at King’s College London. “For ‘remain’ voters it has been a real failure of leadership.”

If the Tories fail to win a majority, it will be a sign that voters think other issues are just as important as Brexit. Labour has focused on domestic issues, especially the wear and tear to the country’s state-funded health service after nine years of Conservative government austerity. Labour also promises to boost public spending, nationalize Britain’s railways and utilities and provide everyone in the country with free internet access — all paid for by raising taxes on high earners.

“My message to all those voters who are still undecided is that you can vote for hope in this election,” Corbyn said Wednesday at his final campaign rally.

On Brexit, Labour says it will negotiate a new divorce deal with the EU, then offer voters the choice in a new referendum between leaving on those terms and remaining in the bloc.

For many voters, Thursday’s election offers an unpalatable choice. Both Johnson and Corbyn have personal approval ratings in negative territory, and both have been dogged by questions about their character.

Johnson has been confronted with past broken promises, untruths and offensive statements, from calling the children of single mothers “ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” to comparing Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to “letter boxes.”

Corbyn has been accused of allowing anti-Semitism to spread within the party. The 70-year-old left-winger is portrayed by opponents as an aging Marxist with unsavory past associations with Hamas and the IRA.

Though the candidates claim to carry positive messages, the campaign has been littered with allegations of mudslinging and dishonesty — largely by the Conservatives. The Tories doctored a video of an interview with a senior Labour lawmaker to make it appear as if he had failed to answer a question, when he had. The party re-branded its press office Twitter account “FactCheckUK” during a television debate, earning a warning but no sanction from the social media site.

Johnson combined an aggressive online campaign with a cautious approach to live appearances. He largely avoided tough interviews — to the fury of opponents — and had a generally gaffe-free election until the final days of the campaign.

On Monday, Johnson was caught making a ham-fisted and seemingly unsympathetic reaction to a picture of a 4-year-old boy lying on a hospital floor because no beds were available. Asked to look at the picture on a reporter’s phone, Johnson grabbed the device and pocketed it.

On Tuesday, the father of a man killed in last month’s knife attack near London Bridge accused the prime minister of using his son’s death for political gain.

It’s unclear how much those moments will influence the outcome when Britain’s voters pass their verdict on Thursday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (0700GMT to 2200GMT), with most results expected early Friday.

Associated Press writers Danica Kirka and Jo Kearney in London and Alex Turnbull in Clowne, England, contributed to this report.

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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December ‘cold’ full moon is the decade’s last

The full moon of December — which is the final one of this decade — arrives tonight just after midnight.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this December’s full moon, which is rising in Gemini, is being called the Cold Moon, the Long Night Moon and the Moon before Yule.

“The full moon is the culmination of a cycle. It’s all about peak intensity: concentrated energy from the preceding phase overflowing, spilling out into emotion, action and matter,” Diane Ahlquist, author of “The Moon + You,” told Refinery29.

Besides any astrological significance, full moons tend to be so bright that they overpower less bright objects in the night sky.

NEARLY 44,000 YEAR OLD HUNTING SCENE UNCOVERED BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS

Westlake Legal Group u5H3QCL9kiE98swiPPKLiX December ‘cold’ full moon is the decade’s last fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 03e83a53-a4b7-56f2-b058-cb8c3a8fa99d

The crew aboard the International Space Station took this image of a full moon on Aug. 13, 2019. They snapped the photo while orbiting 270 miles above the South Pacific Ocean.

According to NASA, Europeans named it the Long Night Moon because it is the full moon closest to the winter solstice.

“Factor in the influence of Gemini — a highly cerebral sign that pivots on a dime — and we may find ourselves with an overwhelming desire to unburden ourselves of our thoughts, opinions and truths on multiple topics,” Ahlquist told Refinery29.

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The moon will be in the sky for a total of 14 hours and 58 minutes, making Wednesday night into Thursday morning the longest full moon night of the year.

Westlake Legal Group u5H3QCL9kiE98swiPPKLiX December ‘cold’ full moon is the decade’s last fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 03e83a53-a4b7-56f2-b058-cb8c3a8fa99d   Westlake Legal Group u5H3QCL9kiE98swiPPKLiX December ‘cold’ full moon is the decade’s last fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 03e83a53-a4b7-56f2-b058-cb8c3a8fa99d

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Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws

Video

transcript

‘The Activities We Found Here Don’t Vindicate Anybody,’ Horowitz Says

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his report was not a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the parts of the Russia investigation that he reviewed.

“James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?” “You know, I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this. Although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for any of the errors or omissions we identified. We found, and as we outlined here, are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, handpicked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive F.B.I. investigations after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the F.B.I., even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign. And even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions would likely be subjected to close scrutiny.”

Westlake Legal Group 11vid-horowitz-clip-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his report was not a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the parts of the Russia investigation that he reviewed.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee members of both parties praised the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, during a hearing on Wednesday for unearthing a litany of serious problems with one aspect of the Russia investigation: the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page.

At a hearing to discuss his new long-awaited report, Mr. Horowitz underscored longstanding serious issues with how the F.B.I. wields its surveillance tools, and he portrayed the bureau during the time of the Russia investigation as dysfunctional. Though he said he found no evidence the mistakes were the result of political bias, as President Trump and his allies have long claimed, he cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of officials involved in the investigation. “The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said.

Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump, slammed the F.B.I. for using the dossier in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

Republicans also repeatedly expressed concerns that the F.B.I. took actions that amounted to spying on the campaign. In particular, officials used at least one informant who wore a concealed recording device and an undercover agent to interact with two Trump campaign aides.

The inspector general said that the F.B.I. needed little approval to use such intrusive techniques, even in such sensitive investigations, and that F.B.I. officials did not notify Justice Department leaders, which he described as concerning. “Nobody knew beforehand,” Mr. Horowitz said. “And that was one of the most concerning things here, was that nobody needed to be told.”

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings concluded that Justice Department and F.B.I. officials did not let their political views affect the opening of the case, called Crossfire Hurricane, or investigative steps.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana labeled investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team. Mr. Graham pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” added Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Mr. Horowitz said that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional — as opposed to merely stemming from “gross incompetence and negligence” — he was also unsatisfied with the explanations offered for why they happened. He said he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Mr. Horowitz revealed that a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation disputed the inspector general’s findings about the scope of the inquiry when investigators first opened it.

The F.B.I. opened it as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and John H. Durham, a United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, believed it should have been a “preliminary” one, Mr. Horowitz said.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient facts to open a full investigation, and he said neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr presented any information that changed his mind.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-fbibriefing-barr-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient facts to open a full investigation, and he said neither Attorney General William P. Barr nor John H. Durham presented information that changed his mind.Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Republican senators expressed alarm that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be interviewed later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file.

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes in the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. needed to a better job running investigations from headquarters.

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Trump Signs Order That Widens Definition of Judaism, Aids Crackdown on Colleges

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-antisemitism1-facebookJumbo Trump Signs Order That Widens Definition of Judaism, Aids Crackdown on Colleges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Marcus, Kenneth L Jews and Judaism Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Orders and Memorandums discrimination Colleges and Universities Civil Rights and Liberties Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-semitism

WASHINGTON — An executive order signed Wednesday that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of President Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Mr. Trump, at a Hanukkah celebration at the White House, opened the door on a case-by-case basis to essentially defining Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. His order also expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to include some anti-Israel sentiments. Both moves had been pushed by Kenneth L. Marcus, the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, for years.

“This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism, it’s very simple,” Mr. Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Even before the order, Mr. Marcus was already deeming Judaism a “national origin,” like Italian or Polish, to strengthen a campaign against what he sees as rampant anti-Semitism in higher education. At both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, Mr. Marcus has opened “national origin” investigations to determine whether qualified applicants were rejected because of their Judaism.

In the University of Pennsylvania case, the rejected applicant claimed he had the “full support of the vice provost in addition to having multiple-generation legacy status,” yet was passed over for a student of a different gender, race and religion.

In separate cases against New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Marcus has investigated whether administrators have allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students by coddling anti-Israel sentiment. Last year, he reopened a long-closed case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration had ignored evidence that the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The administration’s efforts come at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks. An assailant involved in a deadly shooting on Tuesday at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher supermarket was found to have published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday. But Mr. Marcus’s approach has prompted criticisms that he is infringing on free speech and the rights of other minority groups while extending civil rights law well beyond its intent.

Those charges will grow louder with Mr. Trump’s executive order and its embrace of an expansive definition of anti-Semitism, one already used by the State Department, that labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” by, for example, “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

“Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” wrote Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, in an op-ed article for The New York Times. “The inclusion of this language with contemporary examples gives critical guidance to agencies” enforcing civil rights law.

Jewish groups were largely supportive, with some liberal organizations opposing it. Palestinian rights groups were incensed.

Last month, in a resolution agreement responding to an anti-Semitism complaint, the Education Department required the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include “anti-Semitic harassment.” It was also required to describe in its policy how such anti-Semitism could manifest itself on campus. The changes have to be approved by Mr. Marcus’s office.

“The Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s consistent and well-documented violations of Palestinian rights by falsely conflating it with anti-Semitism,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Also last month, the Office for Civil Rights opened a national-origin discrimination case against New York University that stemmed from an episode last year when pro-Palestinian groups were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel dance party.

“The department is deeply concerned about the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on campuses across this country,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new executive order targets schools’ federal funding, mirroring the threat made by Mr. Trump in March when he signed an order protecting the right of conservative speakers to challenge “rigid, far-left ideology” on campuses.

Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, said the dueling orders concurrently limit and protect certain speech and would cause “enormous confusion” on college campuses.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can do both of these things successfully,” Mr. Hartle said. “Most colleges will air on the side of free speech, and the notion that the Department of Education could come after you for that is sobering.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been generally supportive of Trump’s education policies, vowed to “defend students and faculty subjected to censorship as a result of the implementation of the Executive Order.” The group called on lawmakers to come up with “constitutional alternatives to combat unlawful harassment.”

The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife. In a 2018 report, the Anti-Defamation League found an 89 percent increase in reported episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses in one year, as well as a steady rise in white-supremacist propaganda.

The North Carolina case stemmed from an event hosted by U.N.C. and Duke University, titled, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” this past spring that featured a Palestinian rapper, Tamer Nafar, who was accused of spouting anti-Semitic lyrics.

A video of the performance prompted a Republican lawmaker to ask the department to investigate.

“I knew it was going to be anti-Israel, I didn’t know it was going to devolve into anti-Semitism,” said Ami Horowitz, a documentary filmmaker who shot the video.

A report from the Middle East Studies program that hosted the event called comments the rapper made before his performance “inappropriate,” but protected by free speech laws.

The department opened civil rights investigations against both universities.

Duke’s inquiry is still pending, but U.N.C. resolved its portion last month. In its agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, the university said it would hold a series of community meetings, conduct anti-Semitism training and make clear in its anti-discrimination policy that Jewish students shared a national origin “on the basis of their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a group that Mr. Marcus has worked with for years, said the agreement sent “a powerful message to universities and colleges throughout the country that the U.S. government will hold them accountable for allowing campus anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and/or the physical or emotional harassment of Jewish students.”

For years, as the head of a Jewish civil rights organization, Mr. Marcus lobbied the department to extend national-origin protections to Jewish students because it does not have jurisdiction over religious discrimination. He unsuccessfully filed several civil rights complaints with the office, and in 2017, he complained that the department was ill equipped to manage anti-Semitism cases. “It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans,” he wrote. “But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.”

Now on the inside, Mr. Marcus has divided the Education Department. Last fall, the department had to walk back Mr. Marcus’s assertion that it was using the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to re-examine a seven-year-old case against Rutgers University.

But behind Mr. Marcus’s agenda is the weight of the White House. The anti-Semitism executive order repeatedly refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which extends protections on the basis of race, color or national origin, then states, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

Last weekend, Mr. Trump touted the N.Y.U. investigation as proof of his administration’s pro-Israel bona fides. In remarks to the Israeli-American Council National Summit that included a series of anti-Semitic tropes, Mr. Trump invited Adela Cojab, who filed the complaint against N.Y.U., to speak.

“My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault,” Ms. Cojab said.

The Office for Civil Rights is investigating an event from last year when pro-Palestinian student groups at N.Y.U. were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel event. The university, whose student population is 13 percent Jewish, condemned the actions and disciplined students responsible.

But the university drew the ire of pro-Israel groups when Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group involved in the disruption described by Ms. Cojab as “an anti-Israel hate group,” was recognized with a President’s Service Award.

The university’s president said he would not have bestowed the honor, which was awarded by a volunteer committee to 150 groups and individuals. The university has publicly repudiated B.D.S. proposals, condemned attacks on pro-Israel groups and rejected calls to close its 10-year-old Tel Aviv campus.

A spokesman for N.Y.U., John Beckman, said the university “disputes any suggestion that it is or has been anything less than highly supportive of or deeply concerned about its Jewish community.”

Aisha Jitan, a senior at U.N.C. at Chapel Hill, said her school’s “spineless” agreement with the department was a “slap in the face” for Palestinian students, like herself, and other minorities. Ms. Jitan serves as a president of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and has taken classes at the Duke-U.N.C. Consortium for Middle East Studies — which the department also investigated this year.

“The exact things that I’m learning to resist — Orientalist and Islamophobic narratives surrounding the Middle East — are the exact narratives that the Department of Education is perpetuating,” Ms. Jitan said.

Mr. Marcus’s “national origin” inquiries have also received sharp pushbacks at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We take allegations of discrimination extremely seriously. We have closely reviewed the facts in this matter and found no evidence of discrimination,” said Brad Hayward, a Stanford University spokesman.

Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, said he would not comment on a specific accusation but said, “We believe our highly selective admissions policies are rigorous and nondiscriminatory.”

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Tomi Lahren: ‘Factually inaccurate’ immigration-themed nativity a ‘political ploy’

Westlake Legal Group Tomi-Lahren-Nativity-scene Tomi Lahren: 'Factually inaccurate' immigration-themed nativity a 'political ploy' Yael Halon fox-news/topic/fox-nation-opinion fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation fox-news/entertainment/genres/faith fox news fnc/media fnc d022aa60-452e-534f-abc5-b40e74610a03 article

“Leave it to a California church to turn the Christmas story into a political ploy intended to demonize border agents, border security and of course, Donald Trump,” Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren said on Tuesday’s episode of “Final Thoughts.”

Lahren was responding to a viral tweet that depicted a Southern California church’s protest of the now-defunct Trump immigration policy that separated families who illegally crossed into the U.S. from Mexico.

TOMI LAHREN DESCRIBES ‘INCREDIBLE DIFFERENCE’ AT SOUTHERN BORDER

Rev. Karen Clark Ristine posted a photo of the controversial display, saying she was “stirred to tears” by the Claremont United Methodist Church’s “protest Nativity,” which depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph in separate barbed-wire cages.

“We’ve heard of their plight; we’ve seen how these asylum seekers have been greeted and treated. We wanted the Holy Family to stand in for those nameless people because they also were refugees,” Ristine told the Los Angeles Times of the controversial display.

Ristine also insisted that the display was not politically motivated, but Lahren questioned the true motive behind the “factually inaccurate” scene.

“What is it then, besides factually inaccurate,” Lahren asked. “Maybe the Claremont United Methodist Church leaders need a Christmas story refresher because Mary and Joseph were not illegal immigrants.”

“In fact,” Lahren continued, “they were following the law by going to Bethlehem, as evidenced in Luke Chapter 2 verses 1-5.”

CA CHURCH’S ‘PROTEST NATIVITY’ DISPLAYS JESUS, MARY, JOSEPH IN CAGES

Further reiterating her point, Lahren broke down the history of the birth of Jesus for her Fox Nation viewers, contradicting the church’s claim that Mary and Joseph had entered into Bethlehem illegally.

“The couple lived in Nazareth when Mary was pregnant with the baby Jesus,” Lahren said. “The Roman emperor called for all the residents of the empire to be counted and taxed. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, where King David had been born, because Joseph had roots there.  They didn’t enter illegally.”

“Furthermore, the whole territory was under the Roman Empire, so their journey would be akin to traveling from Texas to Oklahoma. Not the same as migrants entering our country illegally through our southwest border, but good try,” she added.

Lahren, who frequently visits the southern border in an attempt to shed light on the challenges faced by border patrol agents, came to their defense in the Fox Nation episode, claiming that illegal detainees are “given more care, resources, and amenities than homeless Americans.”

“As someone who has actually been on several border trips, been to detention and processing centers, and spoke about this issue in-depth with our border patrol agents, I can tell you this — those illegal immigrants in CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] care and custody are given more care, resources and amenities than homeless Americans, many of whom live right here in Southern California,” she said.

“But the people who created this b.s. nativity scene don’t care about any of that, the same way the Democrats and Leftist mainstream media members don’t care,” Lahren said.

“They are all disingenuously pushing this narrative just to demonize our border agents, border security and our president. The illegal immigrants are just political pawns in the game,” she added.

To see Lahren’s full remarks and for more episodes of Tomi Lahren’s daily commentary offering a refreshing and unfiltered perspective on issues across the country, join Fox Nation and watch “Final Thoughts”  today.

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Westlake Legal Group Tomi-Lahren-Nativity-scene Tomi Lahren: 'Factually inaccurate' immigration-themed nativity a 'political ploy' Yael Halon fox-news/topic/fox-nation-opinion fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation fox-news/entertainment/genres/faith fox news fnc/media fnc d022aa60-452e-534f-abc5-b40e74610a03 article   Westlake Legal Group Tomi-Lahren-Nativity-scene Tomi Lahren: 'Factually inaccurate' immigration-themed nativity a 'political ploy' Yael Halon fox-news/topic/fox-nation-opinion fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation fox-news/entertainment/genres/faith fox news fnc/media fnc d022aa60-452e-534f-abc5-b40e74610a03 article

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Israeli Parliament Votes To Dissolve, Readies For Third Election In A Year

Westlake Legal Group 5df16e132100002d0734fb9a Israeli Parliament Votes To Dissolve, Readies For Third Election In A Year

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s parliament on Wednesday approved a preliminary vote to dissolve itself, putting the country on the verge of an unprecedented third election in a 12-month period while giving scandal-plagued Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a welcome break as he fights to save his political career.

After months of political deadlock following a September election, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the first of three votes required to dissolve the parliament and set a March 2 date for new elections. Two more readings were scheduled later Wednesday. Lawmakers had faced a midnight deadline that would have automatically dissolved parliament and set elections later in March.

A new campaign would prolong a year-long political stalemate that has paralyzed the government and undermined public trust in the government. For the third time in the past year, the country now appears to be heading to what is sure to be a nasty three-month political campaign that according to recent opinion polls is expected to deliver very similar results.

In September’s vote, Netanyahu’s Likud party and the rival Blue and White party both were unable to secure a parliamentary majority. Netanyahu and Blue and White’s leader, former military commander Benny Gantz, both failed during officially mandated periods to cobble together a governing coalition. Then, during a final three-week window that ended Wednesday, they were unable to agree on a power-sharing agreement that would have avoided another vote.

Both men had insisted they want to avoid another costly election campaign. And together, their parties control a solid majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

But neither was willing to compromise on their core demands for a unity government. Netanyahu insisted on serving as prime minister, where he is best positioned to fight his recent indictment on a series of corruption charges. Gantz has refused to serve under a prime minister with such serious legal problems and called on Likud to choose a different leader.

Given the divisions in Israeli society, and the deep mistrust between the opposing camps, there appears to be little hope that another vote will break the loop of elections and instability that has rocked the country for the past year. In the recent campaigns, the candidates have launched deep personal attacks on one another, and Netanyahu has been accused of inciting against the country’s Arab minority.

“Keep your children away from the television,” said Yair Lapid, a senior member of Blue and White, saying the campaign will be a “festival of hate, violence and disgust.”

“What used to be a celebration of democracy has become a moment of shame for this building,” he added. “There are only three reasons for this election — bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” he said, referring to the criminal charges filed against Netanyahu last month.

Netanyahu skipped the vote. But in a video on social media, he accused Gantz of conspiring with Arab leaders and “forcing” new elections. “In order to prevent this happening again, there is only one thing we must do: win and win big,” he said.

The upcoming campaign is expected to cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars, and a string of caretaker governments has frozen major legislation, key appointments, long-term planning and budgets for the military and important government ministries.

But for Netanyahu, the country’s longest-sever serving leader, a new campaign offers a much-needed lifeline.

Netanyahu was indicted last month on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. He is desperately clinging to power to wage his legal battle from the favorable perch of prime minister. Israeli law does not require a sitting prime minister to resign if charged with a crime.

Netanyahu can now use his office in the coming months as a bully pulpit to continue his attacks on prosecutors and police investigators, whom he has accused of staging an “attempted coup” against him.

Without a functioning parliament in place, Netanyahu can also put on hold his expected request for immunity from prosecution.

The outgoing parliament does not have a majority in favor of granting him immunity. Netanyahu can now hope that the next election delivers him a more favorable result. After the March election, he also could use coalition negotiations as leverage to push potential partners to support his immunity request. Netanyahu’s trial appears to be on hold until the immunity issue is resolved.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said that being in the prime minister’s post during these negotiations is a huge advantage. “Because then one can trade politically important Cabinet portfolios and so on in return for support for the immunity,” he said.

Netanyahu’s first immediate challenge will be to fend off an insurrection inside Likud. The party announced Wednesday that it will hold a leadership primary on Dec. 26.

One renegade lawmaker, Gideon Saar, has already said he will challenge Netanyahu, though the prime minister remains popular in the party and appears to have a solid edge.

Netanyahu could also face new legal questions. Although he is currently not required to step down, Israeli law is unclear about whether he could be given the authority to form a new government after the next election. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who was criticized for his slow decision making before he indicted Netanyahu, will now be required to rule on that question as well.

Even if Netanyahu overcomes these challenges, polls indicate that he will not be able to muster a majority in favor of granting him immunity or forming a coalition government.

Maverick politician Avigdor Lieberman, a former Netanyahu ally, has turned into the prime minister’s greatest nemesis.

Lieberman served in a string of Netanyahu governments, but then abruptly resigned as defense minister last December to protest what he thought were weak policies toward Gaza militants.

That resignation pushed the country into its current predicament, setting the stage for inconclusive elections in April and then in September. Though Lieberman shares Netanyahu’s hardline views toward the Palestinians, his secular Yisrael Beitenu party opposes Netanyahu’s close relations with ultra-Orthodox religious parties.

Refusing to endorse either Netanyahu or Gantz, Lieberman has repeatedly called on them to form a broad unity government. If the three leaders continue to refuse to soften their positions, it seems unlikely a new election will break the deadlock.

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Joe Biden Calls Malarkey On Report Casting Doubt On 2024 Run

Westlake Legal Group 5df15b4a250000b861d2fde5 Joe Biden Calls Malarkey On Report Casting Doubt On 2024 Run

Joe Biden, the third-oldest candidate in the 2020 presidential race, has faced questions for months over whether he would limit himself to serving one term in the White House if elected. With varying force, he has denied any such intention. 

According to a Wednesday morning Politico report, however, the 77-year-old former vice president has “revived” the one-term debate among his closest advisers and is signaling that he would “almost certainly” not run again in 2024. 

“If Biden is elected, he’s going to be 82 years old in four years,” an unnamed adviser told Politico, “and he won’t be running for reelection.”

But the candidate himself said Wednesday that the report was pure malarkey. 

“I don’t have any plans on one term,” Biden told ABC News when asked about the Politico report, which he called “just not true.”

Kate Bedingfield, a Biden deputy campaign manager, chimed in over Twitter to deny it, as well.

“Lots of chatter out there on this so just want to be crystal clear: this is not a conversation our campaign is having and not something VP Biden is thinking about,” Bedingfield wrote.

Biden has appeared less certain in the past. In an October interview with Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard, he seemed to be considering the possibility of a one-term presidency. 

“I feel good and all I can say is, watch me, you’ll see,” Biden said at the time. “It doesn’t mean I would run a second term. I’m not going to make that judgment at this moment.”

Age has cropped up repeatedly in the 2020 race as a raft of candidates vie for the Democratic nomination to challenge 73-year-old President Donald Trump

The oldest candidate, 78-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), also refuses to say he would limit himself to one term ― even after his recent heart attack.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg at 77 is second-oldest ― born the same year as Biden, 1942, but several months older than him. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is 70.

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