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New Emmett Till marker dedicated in Mississippi after vandalism

Westlake Legal Group ap18192757738185 New Emmett Till marker dedicated in Mississippi after vandalism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/mississippi fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 48b4d457-e656-5ed3-8689-d109a428aa44

A bulletproof marker was reportedly dedicated to civil rights icon Emmett Till in Mississippi on Saturday after previous ones had been vandalized by gunfire.

Till was a 14-year-old black teenager in 1955 when he was kidnapped, beaten and lynched in Money, Miss., for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

The marker was erected near the Tallahatchie River where Till’s body was found days later.

BULLETPROOF EMMETT TILL SIGN COMMISSIONED AFTER RECENT VANDALISM: REPORTS

The new memorial, made of steel, is 10 times heavier than the previous ones, the Huffington Post reported.

“This marker answers the question as to what we do with our history,” the Rev. Willie Williams, co-director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, which advocated for the new marker, said, according to the Post. “Do we learn from it? Do we use it to help our society have greater respect for humanity? This answers that.”

The Rev. Wheeler Parker, Till’s cousin, who is the last living witness to his kidnapping, plus another cousin and her daughter attended the ceremony, the Post reported.

Till’s murder is seen as one of the catalysts of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s

Last year, the Justice Department reopened the investigation into his death, saying it received new information.

The two suspects in his murder, the husband of the woman Till was accused of whistling at and the man’s half-brother, were both acquitted by an all-white jury at the time.

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The new sign was commissioned just days after some University of Mississippi students were suspended from their fraternity after posing in front of the memorial with guns last summer.

Westlake Legal Group ap18192757738185 New Emmett Till marker dedicated in Mississippi after vandalism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/mississippi fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 48b4d457-e656-5ed3-8689-d109a428aa44   Westlake Legal Group ap18192757738185 New Emmett Till marker dedicated in Mississippi after vandalism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/mississippi fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 48b4d457-e656-5ed3-8689-d109a428aa44

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Pelosi Visits Jordan to Discuss Syria Crisis Amid Shaky Cease-Fire

Westlake Legal Group 20prexy-facebookJumbo Pelosi Visits Jordan to Discuss Syria Crisis Amid Shaky Cease-Fire United States International Relations Turkey Syria Pelosi, Nancy Middle East Jordan Defense and Military Forces Abdullah II, King of Jordan

ISTANBUL — Speaker Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Jordan to met with the Jordanian king for “vital” discussions about the Turkish incursion into Syria and other regional challenges, amid uncertainty about whether an American-brokered cease-fire with Turkey in northern Syria was holding.

The visit by senior United States officials came as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday morning along the Turkish-Syrian border, where, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry, a Turkish soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad.

Confusion and continued shelling have marred the cease-fire deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence last week, with both Turkey and Kurdish leaders accusing each other of violating the truce.

Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, led a nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan that included Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California; Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York; and Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. The group met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday evening.

“Our bipartisan delegation is visiting Jordan at a critical time for the security and stability of the region,” Ms. Pelosi’s office said in a statement. “With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia.”

The delegation also discussed issues like “counterterrorism, security cooperation, Middle East peace, economic development and other shared challenges,” the statement said.

A planned visit by Ms. Pelosi to American troops in Afghanistan this year was abruptly scrapped by President Trump in a striking moment of one-upmanship during bitter negotiations over the partial government shutdown that forced thousands of federal employees to work without pay.

As Mr. Trump signaled that he would go ahead with his State of the Union speech in January amid the shutdown, Ms. Pelosi suggested he should cancel or delay it, citing security concerns amid the prolonged shutdown.

Jordan is considered a key ally in the Middle East, and the United States gives the country more than a billion dollars in aid every year. The United States also maintains a military base in southern Syria, close to the Jordanian border.

Mr. Trump’s order for the American retreat from its military positions at the other end of Syria — along the Turkish border with northern Syria — set in motion the latest flash point of the eight-year-old Syrian war.

That withdrawal gave the implicit blessing of the White House to Turkish troops to enter northern Syria 10 days ago, where they since claimed the capture of about 1,800 square miles of Syrian territory, diminished American influence in the region and opened the door for Russia to fill the vacuum.

Turkey wants to force out a Kurdish-led militia that had used the chaos of the Syrian conflict to create an autonomous region outside the influence of the Syrian central government. The Kurdish-led militia, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, had operated under the protection of the United States, since its fighters had partnered with the American military in 2014 to push the Islamic State out of the region.

But Turkey considers the militia a threat to its national security since it is an offshoot of a guerrilla movement that has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. The Turkish government wants its Syrian Arab proxies to establish a new autonomous zone in northern Syria in order to dilute Kurdish influence along its southern border.

On Thursday, Mr. Pence announced a deal with Turkey that gave American assent to Turkey’s plan, in exchange for a five-day cease-fire that would allow Kurdish fighters to retreat safely from the region.

But the cease-fire has yet to fully take hold. Sporadic shelling continued on Saturday night and smoke could be seen billowing near a strategic town, observers on the border said.

The commander of the Kurdish-led forces, Mazloum Abdi, said in interviews with international news media on Saturday that Turkish troops had refused to let his fighters retreat. In response, the Turkish ministry said there were “absolutely no impediments to withdrawal.”

Turkish forces allowed a convoy of medical staff members and aid workers to enter the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain on Saturday and evacuate injured people back to Kurdish-held territory, members of the convoy said.

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Pelosi Visits Jordan to Discuss Syria Crisis Amid Shaky Cease-Fire

Westlake Legal Group 20prexy-facebookJumbo Pelosi Visits Jordan to Discuss Syria Crisis Amid Shaky Cease-Fire United States International Relations Turkey Syria Pelosi, Nancy Middle East Jordan Defense and Military Forces Abdullah II, King of Jordan

ISTANBUL — Speaker Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Jordan to met with the Jordanian king for “vital” discussions about the Turkish incursion into Syria and other regional challenges, amid uncertainty about whether an American-brokered cease-fire with Turkey in northern Syria was holding.

The visit by senior United States officials came as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday morning along the Turkish-Syrian border, where, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry, a Turkish soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad.

Confusion and continued shelling have marred the cease-fire deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence last week, with both Turkey and Kurdish leaders accusing each other of violating the truce.

Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, led a nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan that included Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California; Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York; and Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. The group met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday evening.

“Our bipartisan delegation is visiting Jordan at a critical time for the security and stability of the region,” Ms. Pelosi’s office said in a statement. “With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia.”

The delegation also discussed issues like “counterterrorism, security cooperation, Middle East peace, economic development and other shared challenges,” the statement said.

A planned visit by Ms. Pelosi to American troops in Afghanistan this year was abruptly scrapped by President Trump in a striking moment of one-upmanship during bitter negotiations over the partial government shutdown that forced thousands of federal employees to work without pay.

As Mr. Trump signaled that he would go ahead with his State of the Union speech in January amid the shutdown, Ms. Pelosi suggested he should cancel or delay it, citing security concerns amid the prolonged shutdown.

Jordan is considered a key ally in the Middle East, and the United States gives the country more than a billion dollars in aid every year. The United States also maintains a military base in southern Syria, close to the Jordanian border. Though the Jordanian government is involved in discussions about the future of southern Syria, it has relatively little influence over the conflict in northern Syria.

Mr. Trump’s order for the American retreat from its military positions at the other end of Syria — along the Turkish border with northern Syria — set in motion the latest flash point of the eight-year-old Syrian war.

That withdrawal gave the implicit blessing of the White House to Turkish troops to enter northern Syria 10 days ago, where they since claimed the capture of about 1,800 square miles of Syrian territory, diminished American influence in the region and opened the door for Russia to fill the vacuum.

Turkey wants to force out a Kurdish-led militia that had used the chaos of the Syrian conflict to create an autonomous region outside the influence of the Syrian central government. The Kurdish-led militia, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, had operated under the protection of the United States, since its fighters had partnered with the American military in 2014 to push the Islamic State out of the region.

But Turkey considers the militia a threat to its national security since it is an offshoot of a guerrilla movement that has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. The Turkish government wants its Syrian Arab proxies to establish a new autonomous zone in northern Syria in order to dilute Kurdish influence along its southern border.

On Thursday, Mr. Pence announced a deal with Turkey that gave American assent to Turkey’s plan, in exchange for a five-day cease-fire that would allow Kurdish fighters to retreat safely from the region.

But the cease-fire has yet to fully take hold. Sporadic shelling continued on Saturday night and smoke could be seen billowing near a strategic town, observers on the border said.

The commander of the Kurdish-led forces, Mazloum Abdi, said in interviews with international news media on Saturday that Turkish troops had refused to let his fighters retreat. In response, the Turkish ministry said there were “absolutely no impediments to withdrawal.”

Turkish forces allowed a convoy of medical staff members and aid workers to enter the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain on Saturday and evacuate injured people back to Kurdish-held territory, members of the convoy said.

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Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle

Westlake Legal Group 20digitalcampaign-web-facebookJumbo Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J Social Media Sanders, Bernard Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Political Advertising Parscale, Brad (1976- ) Online Advertising Midterm Elections (2018) Harris, Kamala D Facebook Inc Democratic Party cambridge analytica Biden, Joseph R Jr

On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes — immigrant invaders, the corrupt media — that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts.

Even seemingly ominous developments for Mr. Trump become fodder for his campaign. When news broke last month that congressional Democrats were opening an impeachment inquiry, the campaign responded with an advertising blitz aimed at firing up the president’s base.

The campaign slapped together an “Impeachment Poll” (sample question: “Do you agree that President Trump has done nothing wrong?”). It invited supporters to join the Official Impeachment Defense Task Force (“All you need to do is DONATE NOW!”). It produced a slick video laying out the debunked conspiracy theory about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukraine that is now at the center of the impeachment battle (“Learn the truth. Watch Now!”).

The onslaught overwhelmed the limited Democratic response. Mr. Biden’s campaign put up the stiffest resistance: It demanded Facebook take down the ad, only to be rebuffed. It then proceeded with plans to slash its online advertising budget in favor of more television ads.

That campaigns are now being fought largely online is hardly a revelation, yet only one political party seems to have gotten the message. While the Trump campaign has put its digital operation firmly at the center of the president’s re-election effort, Democrats are struggling to internalize the lessons of the 2016 race and adapt to a political landscape shaped by social media.

Mr. Trump’s first campaign took far better advantage of Facebook and other platforms that reward narrowly targeted — and, arguably, nastier — messages. And while the president is now embattled on multiple fronts and disfavored by a majority of Americans in most polls, he has one big advantage: His 2020 campaign, flush with cash, is poised to dominate online again, according to experts on both ends of the political spectrum, independent researchers and tech executives. The difference between the parties’ digital efforts, they said, runs far deeper than the distinction between an incumbent’s general-election operation and challengers’ primary campaigns.

The Trump team has spent the past three years building out its web operation. As a sign of its priorities, the 2016 digital director, Brad Parscale, is now leading the entire campaign. He is at the helm of what experts described as a sophisticated digital marketing effort, one that befits a relentlessly self-promoting candidate who honed his image, and broadcast it into national consciousness, on reality television.

The campaign under Mr. Parscale is focused on pushing its product — Mr. Trump — by churning out targeted ads, aggressively testing the content and collecting data to further refine its messages. It is selling hats, shirts and other gear, a strategy that yields yet more data, along with cash and, of course, walking campaign billboards.

“We see much less of that kind of experimentation with the Democratic candidates,” said Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University who tracks political advertising on Facebook. “They’re running fewer ads. We don’t see the wide array of targeting.”

The Trump campaign, she said, “is like a supercar racing a little Volkswagen Bug.”

The Democrats would be the Volkswagen. The are largely running what other experts and political operatives compared to brand-loyalty campaigns, trying to sway moderates and offend as few people as possible, despite mounting research that suggests persuasion ads have little to no impact on voters in a general election.

The candidates, to be sure, are collectively spending more on Facebook and Google than on television and are trying to target their ads — Mr. Biden’s tend to be seen by those born before 1975, for instance, while Senator Bernie Sanders’s are aimed at those born later. But without the same level of message testing and data collection, the Democrats’ efforts are not nearly as robust as Mr. Trump’s.

[Read more on how Democrats are using Facebook to reach specific voters.]

Democratic digital operatives say the problem is a party dominated by an aging professional political class that is too timid in the face of a fiercely partisan Republican machine. The Biden campaign’s decision to tack from digital to television, they say, is only the most glaring example of a party hung up on the kind of broad-based advertising that played well in the television age but fares poorly on social media.

The digital director of a prominent Democratic presidential campaign recounted how he was shut down by an older consultant when pressing for shorter, pithier ads that could drive clicks. “We don’t need any of your cinéma vérité clickbait,” the consultant snapped, according to the digital director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid risking his job.

Other digital consultants and campaign officials told similar stories, and complained that the Democratic establishment was too focused on winning over imagined moderates, instead of doing what the Trump campaign has done: firing up its base.

“It’s true that anodyne messaging doesn’t turn anyone off. But it doesn’t turn them on either,” said Elizabeth Spiers, who runs the Insurrection, a progressive digital strategy and polling firm.

Republicans are “not messaging around unity and civility, because those things don’t mobilize people,” Ms. Spiers said, adding that while everyone may want to live in a less divided country, “nobody takes time off work, gets in their car and drives to the polls to vote specifically for that.”

Far more than any other platform, Facebook is the focus for digital campaign spending, and it is in many ways even friendlier turf for Mr. Trump’s campaign than in 2016.

Since then, many younger, more liberal users have abandoned the platform in favor of Instagram, Snapchat and various private messaging apps, while older users — the type most likely to vote Republican — are still flocking to Facebook in droves. People over 65 now make up Facebook’s fastest-growing population in the United States, doubling their use of the platform since 2011, according to Gallup.

In a speech this year in Romania, Mr. Parscale recalled telling his team before the 2016 election that Facebook would allow the campaign to reach the “lost, forgotten people of America” with messages tailored to their interests.

“Millions of Americans, older people, are on the internet, watching pictures of their kids because they all moved to cities,” Mr. Parscale said. “If we can connect to them, we can change this election.”

Facebook also favors the kind of emotionally charged content that Mr. Trump’s campaign has proved adept at creating. Campaigns buy Facebook ads through an automated auction system, with each ad receiving an “engagement rate ranking” based on its predicted likelihood of being clicked, shared or commented on. The divisive themes of Mr. Trump’s campaign tend to generate more engagement than Democrats’ calmer, more policy-focused appeals. Often, the more incendiary the campaign, the further its dollars go.

Provocative ads also get shared more often, creating an organic boost that vaults them even further ahead of less inflammatory messages.

“There’s an algorithmic bias that inherently benefits hate and negativity and anger,” said Shomik Dutta, a digital strategist and a founder of Higher Ground Labs, an incubator for Democratic start-ups. “If anger has an algorithmic bias, then Donald Trump is the captain of that ship.”

A Facebook spokeswoman disputed the notion that ads got more visibility just because they were negative, and noted that users were able to flag offending ads for possible removal.

The company, since the 2016 election, has invested heavily to prevent Russian-style interference campaigns. It has built up its security and fact-checking teams, staffed a “war room” during key elections and changed its rules to crack down on misinformation and false news.

But it has left a critical loophole: Facebook’s fact-checking rules do not apply to political ads, letting candidates spread false or misleading claims. That has allowed Mr. Trump’s campaign to show ads that traditional TV networks have declined to air.

One recent video from the Trump campaign said that Mr. Biden had offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid if it killed an investigation into a company tied to his son. The video’s claims had already been debunked, and CNN refused to play it. But Facebook rejected the Biden campaign’s demand to take the ad down, arguing that it did not violate its policies.

At last count, the video has been viewed on the social network more than five million times.

In the wake of the 2016 election, some on the left sought an explanation for Mr. Trump’s victory in the idea that his campaign had used shadowy digital techniques inspired by military-style psychological warfare — a “Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine,” as one article described it — created by the defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The theories around Cambridge Analytica have never been fully demonstrated, however, and there is a far less nefarious explanation: The Trump campaign simply made better use of standard commercial marketing tools, particularly Facebook’s own high-powered targeting products.

An internal Facebook report written after the 2016 election noted that both the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent heavily on Facebook — $44 million for Mr. Trump versus $28 million for Hillary Clinton. “But Trump’s FB campaigns were more complex,” the memo said, and were better at using Facebook to bring in donations and find new voters. For instance, roughly 84 percent of the Trump ads focused on getting voters to take an action, such as donating, the report said. Only about half of Mrs. Clinton’s did.

At the same time, the Trump campaign sought to tailor its ads more precisely to specific voters, the report said, with a typical Trump message targeted at 2.5 million people, compared with eight million for the Clinton campaign. And the Trump team simply made more unique ads — 5.9 million versus 66,000.

“We were making hundreds of thousands” of variations on similar ads, Mr. Parscale told “60 Minutes” last year. “Changing language, words, colors.”

The idea, he said, was to find “what is it that makes it go, ‘Poof! I’m going to stop and look.’”

For the left, the Trump campaign’s mastery of social media in 2016 represented a sharp reversal. From the blogs of the mid-aughts to Netroots Nation, the digital activists who helped propel Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012, the left was seen as the dominant digital force. The Democrats had an array of tech-savvy campaign veterans who were adept at data mining and digital organizing, and had overseen the creation of a handful of well-resourced digital consulting firms.

Starting with the 2016 primaries, the Trump campaign reversed the trend. While the more traditionally minded Republican operatives signed on to work for the party’s more traditional candidates, such as Jeb Bush, the Trump campaign found itself reliant on “the outliers, and a lot of them truly believed in digital,” said Zac Moffatt, chief executive of Targeted Victory, a Republican digital strategy firm. “It was a changing of the guard, strategically.”

The Republicans’ 2020 operation — with more than $150 million in cash on hand, according to the latest filings — appears to have picked up where it left off.

The Trump campaign’s intense testing of ads is one example. It posts dozens of variations of almost every ad to figure which plays best. Do voters respond better to a blue button or a green one? Are they more likely to click if its says “donate” or “contribute”? Will they more readily cough up cash for an impeachment defense fund or an impeachment defense task force?

The president’s re-election effort is also making use of strategies common in the e-commerce world, such as “zero touch” merchandise sales. T-shirts, posters and other paraphernalia are printed on demand and sent directly to buyers, with the campaign not required to make bulk orders or risk unsold inventory. Sales of these items amount to a lucrative source of campaign fund-raising, and the zero-touch technique allows the campaign to move fast — it was able to start selling T-shirts that say “get over it” a day after the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters to do just than when it came to Ukraine.

Perhaps most important, the Trump campaign is spending to make sure people see its ads, emails, texts, tweets and other content. In the week the impeachment inquiry was announced, for instance, the campaign spent nearly $2.3 million on Facebook and Google ads, according to data compiled by Acronym, a progressive digital strategy organization that tracks campaign spending. That is roughly four to five times what it spent on those platforms in previous weeks, and about half of what most Democratic front-runners have spent on Facebook and Google advertising over the entire course of their campaigns.

The president’s team has also invested heavily in YouTube, buying ads and counterprogramming his opponents. In June, during the first Democratic primary debates, the Trump campaign bought the YouTube “masthead” — a large ad that runs at the top of the site’s home page and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per day — to ensure that debate viewers would see it.

The Trump campaign “is always re-upping their ad buy. As soon as an ad runs out, another one goes in,” Ms. Edelson said, adding, “No one is waiting for next month’s marketing budget to kick in.”

Democrats are struggling to match more than the sheer volume of content coming out of the Trump campaign. Interviews with Democratic consultants and experts revealed a party deeply hesitant to match the Trump campaign’s intense and often angry partisan approach.

Most of the Democratic Party is “not even fighting last year’s war — the war that they’re fighting is 2012,” said David Goldstein, chief executive of Tovo Labs, a progressive digital consulting firm.

Mr. Goldstein offered an instructive anecdote from the 2018 midterm elections. That spring, Tovo signed on to do online fund-raising for Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida. Tovo wanted to build on the work it had done the year before in Alabama, where it claimed to have depressed Republican turnout by running ads that showcased conservatives who opposed the far-right Senate candidate Roy Moore. The ads did not say they were being run by supporters of the eventual Democratic winner, Doug Jones.

Mr. Goldstein hoped to bring the same edge to Mr. Gillum’s campaign and came up with ads that “were really aggressive.”

“We wanted to provoke people,” he said.

One was a particularly buffoonish caricature of Mr. Trump holding the world in his palm. “As Florida goes in 2018, so goes the White House in 2020,” read the tagline.

The ad was aimed at far-left voters deemed most likely to be motivated by the prospect of pushing Mr. Trump from office, and the response rate was high, Mr. Goldstein said. But a few days after it went up, the campaign manager saw it and “freaked out.”

“This is entirely unacceptable,” the campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, wrote in an email on April 6, 2018.

In Mr. Goldstein’s telling, the campaign manager feared offending voters whom Mr. Gillum hoped to sway. Mr. McPhillips was not mollified when Tovo explained that the ad was targeted only at voters thought to be deeply anti-Trump. He wanted ads that were focused on his candidate, not produced to elicit an emotional response with images the campaign considered crass.

Mr. McPhillips ordered Tovo to immediately stop running the ads. He said Tovo could only use images approved by the campaign. Tovo left soon thereafter.

The approved images — “standard glamour shots of the candidate” — would work for a newspaper ad or television spot, Mr. Goldstein said, but were not “going to drive clicks and provoke people to take action.”

Mr. Gillum narrowly lost the race.

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US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094498192001_6094500292001-vs US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 8fa4b29e-bb6f-5f48-9719-8b6e2e67e8b8

All U.S. troops leaving Syria as part of the withdrawal plan recently announced by President Trump will be stationed in western Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday.

In addition, the U.S. military will continue its efforts to prevent a resurgence by Islamic State group (ISIS) terrorists, he said.

“Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal,” Esper told reporters while flying to the Middle East from Washington, according to the Associated Press, “but that’s the game plan right now.”

“Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”

— Defense Secretary Mark Esper

MITCH MCCONNELL SAYS TRUMP’S SYRIA WITHDRAWAL IS A ‘GRAVE’ MISTAKE

The U.S. departure from Syria will take “weeks not days,” Esper said, and involve both aircraft and ground convoys as about 1,000 troops relocate, Reuters reported.

Esper’s comments were the first specific details on where American troops will go as they leave Syria, according to the AP. Fox News reported last week that President Trump said only that troops would be redeployed “in the region.”

The 55-year-old Pentagon chief, who assumed the office permanently July 23 after serving as acting defense secretary for about three weeks following the departure of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops from Syria into western Iraq, the AP reported.

TRUMP SAYS US TROOPS IN SYRIA TO BE WITHDRAWN, REDEPLOYED IN REGION

Esper, who previously served as Army secretary, did not rule out the possibility that U.S. forces relocated to Iraq could still conduct counterterrorism missions inside Syria. But he said those details will be worked out over time.

The U.S. defense chief was traveling as a fragile cease-fire, negotiated by the U.S. and Turkey, was underway in Syria – but according to Reuters some Turkish military vehicles crossed into Syria on Saturday, and Turkish officials claimed aboyt 14 “provocative attacks” had been launched from the Syrian side.

In Iraq, U.S. troops were heading to a country that has seen violent political protests in recent week, leading to more than 100 deaths, Reuters reported.

Trump ordered the withdrawal of most of the U.S. troops in Syria after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish fighters that Turkey views as terrorists.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Critics of the president say the plan amounts to an abandonment of the Kurds, who have helped the U.S. military combat ISIS, but Trump argued that the Kurds have not always been the pro-American allies their supporters claim them to be.

“They’re not angels, if you take a look,” Trump said Wednesday. “They did well when they fought with us. They didn’t do so well when they didn’t fight with us.”

Meanwhile, a group of House Democrats, accompanied by one Republican, traveled to Syria neighbor Jordan on Saturday, where they held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other Jordanian leaders about the Syria situation. Results from those talks were not immediately known early Sunday in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094498192001_6094500292001-vs US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 8fa4b29e-bb6f-5f48-9719-8b6e2e67e8b8   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094498192001_6094500292001-vs US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 8fa4b29e-bb6f-5f48-9719-8b6e2e67e8b8

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Report: Rick Perry pushed to install Texas political donor on board of Ukraine gas company

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Trump Drops Plan To Host G-7 Summit At His Miami Resort

Westlake Legal Group ap_19238757585355_wide-17203db05b7d20aed1d9e192eef404099dc5cdad-s1100-c15 Trump Drops Plan To Host G-7 Summit At His Miami Resort

Trump abandoned his plan to host the next G-7 summit at his Doral, Miami, golf resort, on Saturday. Alex Sanz/AP hide caption

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Alex Sanz/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Trump Drops Plan To Host G-7 Summit At His Miami Resort

Trump abandoned his plan to host the next G-7 summit at his Doral, Miami, golf resort, on Saturday.

Alex Sanz/AP

President Trump announced that he’s dropping his plan to host next year’s Group of Seven meeting of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies at his Miami-area golf club.

In a series of late-night tweets on Saturday, Trump blamed the reversal on what he described as “Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility,” following bipartisan claims that he’s exploiting his presidency for personal profit.

“I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. …” the president tweeted. “[B]ased on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020.”

He again touted his resort’s “grand” acreage, ample rooms and its proximity to the Miami International Airport as an ideal venue to host international leaders.

Trump said his administration “will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had announced on Thursday that Trump National Doral would be the site of the 2020 summit. The selection revived accusations about Trump’s ability to use his office for financial gain and claims that he’s violated the Constitution by collecting payments from foreign governments going to businesses he owns.

Since the early days of his presidency, Trump has faced multiple ongoing lawsuits alleging he is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits a sitting president from accepting payments from foreign governments.

Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, one of the groups suing Trump over the emoluments issue, said Trump’s Saturday announcement was “a bow to reality, but does not change how astonishing it was that a president ever thought this was appropriate, or that it was something he could get away with.”

Democratic House leaders had planned a vote as early as this week to rebuke Trump over the decision. They also planned investigations into the selection process and suggested they would prevent government money from being spent at Trump properties. A number of Republicans in Congress had also voiced concerns with the Doral choice.

An hour before Trump canceled the Doral plan, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden issued a rebuke on Twitter.

“Hosting the G7 at Trump’s hotel? A president should never be able to use the office for personal gain,” the former vice president wrote.

During Thursday’s press briefing, Mulvaney dismissed the possibility of returning to Camp David to hold the gathering, describing it as “too small” and “too remote.”

“I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G-7,” he said.

NPR’s Brett Neely contributed to this report.

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Jose Altuve’s walk-off home run sends Astros back to World Series

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Jose Altuve's walk-off home run sends Astros back to World Series

SportsPulse: The Houston Astros are returning to the World Series for the second time in three years after defeating the Yankees, but must go through a red-hot Nationals team if they want to hoist the trophy. USA TODAY

HOUSTON — With one swing of the bat, Jose Altuve sent the baseball screaming into the air Saturday, and a sellout crowd screaming into the night, winning the Houston Astros the American League pennant.

The game took some bizarre twists and turns Saturday evening, but they’re headed to the World Series.

Once again.

The Astros, who blew a 4-2 lead on DJ LeMahieu’s ninth-inning homer, came right back in the bottom of the 10th with Altuve’s blast over the fence in left-center for a 6-4 win in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

Roberto Osuna gave up the homer in the top of the ninth, which tied a game that the Astros had been leading since the first inning. 

The Yankees brought in Aroldis Chapman for the bottom of the frame. After a two-out walk for George Springer, Altuve clubbed an 84-mph slider for his second home run of the series – and fifth of the postseason.

Altuve was named ALCS MVP, going 8-for-23 with six runs in the series.

The Astros get a World Series date with the Washington Nationals where they will be trying to win their second title in three years – while the Nats vie for their first in franchise history

And, now, after all of the dizzying moves with the Astros and Yankees numbing the senses with their “bullpenning” for all of the world to see, we will be reverting back to ol’-fashioned baseball.

We will see future Hall of Famers, and former Cy Young and MVP winners in Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.

It will be a matchup of the most expensive rotations in World Series history with $200-million-dollar pitchers in Scherzer and Greinke, and $100 million pitchers in Stephen Strasburg and Verlander, to go along with the soon-to-be the richest pitcher in baseball history in Gerrit Cole.

We’ll have a showcase of MVP candidates in third basemen Alex Bregman and Anthony Rendon.

It’s not the Yankees-Los Angeles Dodgers matchup  that Major League Baseball and Fox executives wanted, but, this will certainly do.

Gone will be the torturous bullpen games.

We’ll see legitimate marquee pitching matchups beginning Tuesday at Minute Maid Park with Scherzer and Cole in Game 1, Strasburg and Verlander in Game 2, and Greinke and Patrick Corbin.

“I think people would rather see that,’’ Cole said, “than TBA vs. TBA.’’

There were five pitching changes in the first three innings alone in Game 6, with 14 pitchers used overall. Nobody besides the families of Brad Peacock and Chad Green will ever remember the starting pitchers in this game.

It was ugly, but the Astros will take it, slaying the mighty Yankees

“Beauty,’’ Hinch said, “is in the eye of the beholder.’’

Pardon Hinch for now wanting to go back to the traditional style of winning, hardly finding the task of managing bullpen games enjoyable.

“It’s miserable. I love when JV or Gerrit goes out there and throws nine scoreless. Those are the fun ones,” Hinch said before Saturday’s game.

“It’s crazy. We’re in the Game 6 of the ALCS and we’re going to have upwards of double-digit number of pitchers pitching in a game of such magnitude.

“Welcome to 2019.’’

For the Yankees, it’s the first time since the 1910s that they’ve got a decade without reaching the World Series.

And for a franchise that has 27 World Series championships, it leaves the question whether this season was a failure.

“I hate that question,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I know as an organization, myself, our players, we’re chasing a championship and we’re doing everything we can. We want to be champions. So that’s the goal. That’s the focus.

“Putting a label, success, fail, all that, I don’t really have time for it, honestly.’’

Certainly, the Astros have pulled off one of the most amazing turnarounds in baseball history, losing 324 homers in 2011-2013, to now winning 100 or more games the last three seasons.

“I still remember when we lost a 100 games three years in a row,’’ All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve said. “It seems like we were in the very, very bottom. So the only hope I had was to keep working hard because everybody keeps telling me, “Yeah, we’re going to win a championship, we’re going to be a really good team. I wanted to be a part of that.’

“It was hard to believe but it happened. I think we learned a lot from losing.’’

The Astros even flaunted their depth in this clincher. They used seven different pitchers, six traditional relievers. Their first baseman, who entered the game with just one hit in 20 at-bats this series, was the offensive hero when Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer off Green in the first inning.

The defensive hero was Michael Brantley, who signed a free-agent contract last winter primarily for his bat, made one of the most remarkable postseason plays in franchise history. Aaron Hicks hit a blooper to no-man’s land, only for Brantley to dive, snag the ball with his outstretched glove, jump up, and then throw out Aaron Judge trying to scramble back to first base.

While the Astros move on, the Yankees will re-evaluate their strategy of putting their resources into their bullpen.

They passed on making trades for Verlander, Cole and Greinke over the past few years, with that trio landing with the Astros, and lost out to the in the free-agent bidding for Corbin.

But they paid the price. Their starters pitched the fewest innings by any team to reach the ALCS, with their starters lasting an average of just 4 ⅓ innings this postseason.

Maybe, they’ll go back to being the Yankees again, and write that $220 million-plus paycheck for Cole.

Who knows, maybe, they’ll even start emulating the Astros.

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Astros top Yankees 6-4 to win ALCS, advance to World Series

The Houston Astros are moving on to the World Series after eliminating the New York Yankees with a 6-4 victory Saturday night in Houston in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

Houston’s Jose Altuve won the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning after New York’s D.J. LaMahieu tied the game with a home run of his own in the top of the frame.

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The Astros, who won the World Series in 2017, will play the Washington Nationals, who recently eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League pennant.

Westlake Legal Group 96afccf7-AP19293160064305 Astros top Yankees 6-4 to win ALCS, advance to World Series fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb-postseason fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc ee364269-5370-5ac5-a615-0fe4600ccf8c Dom Calicchio article

Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, right, and starting pitcher Justin Verlander celebrate after winning Game 6 of baseball’s American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Houston. The Astros won 6-4 to win the series 4-2. (Associated Press)

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Game 6 was not without controversy. In the second inning, Yankees hitter Brett Gardner had two strikes called against him by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson that appeared questionable on replays. The Yankees had two runners on base at the time, with two outs and Houston leading 3-1.

In the seventh inning, Houston outfielder Michael Brantley made a diving catch in left field and turned it into a double play by catching New York’s Aaron Judge, who was too far off first base.

Westlake Legal Group f46c3343-AP19293094508914 Astros top Yankees 6-4 to win ALCS, advance to World Series fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb-postseason fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc ee364269-5370-5ac5-a615-0fe4600ccf8c Dom Calicchio article

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa celebrates after the end of the top of the sixth inning in Game 6 of baseball’s American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, Oct. 19, 2019, in Houston. (Associated Press)

Houston had a chance to end the game in the top of the ninth, but New York’s LaMahieu smacked a two-run home run to tie the game.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Westlake Legal Group AP19293160064305 Astros top Yankees 6-4 to win ALCS, advance to World Series fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb-postseason fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc ee364269-5370-5ac5-a615-0fe4600ccf8c Dom Calicchio article   Westlake Legal Group AP19293160064305 Astros top Yankees 6-4 to win ALCS, advance to World Series fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb-postseason fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc ee364269-5370-5ac5-a615-0fe4600ccf8c Dom Calicchio article

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In Bracing Terms, Trump Invokes War’s Human Toll to Defend His Policies

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-trumpwar-sub-facebookJumbo In Bracing Terms, Trump Invokes War’s Human Toll to Defend His Policies United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria Reed, Walter, National Military Medical Center Obama, Barack Iraq Dover Air Force Base (Del) Bush, George W Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — It is the most solemn of rituals for American presidents: comforting the soldiers wounded under his command or the families of those who have died. For generations, presidents have typically discussed those encounters in the most delicate of tones.

“The hardest thing I have to do, by far, much harder than the witch hunt, is signing letters to parents of soldiers that have been killed,” President Trump said at the White House this month.

But in arguing that there must be an end to “endless wars” in Afghanistan and more recently in Syria, Mr. Trump has given graphic accounts of distraught widows and disfigured soldiers in terms rarely, if ever, heard from a president before. In one recent instance, he said he had seen grieving family members “make sounds, scream and cry like you’ve never seen before.”

Mr. Trump has particularly focused on describing the ceremony of transferring the flag-draped coffins of American soldiers killed overseas from the military cargo planes that have brought their remains home to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

In his telling, it is a gut-wrenching ordeal, a scene of anguish from the families of the fallen that bolsters his determination to bring American soldiers home from overseas conflicts. The public shares that desire, according to one recent survey, which found that 46 percent of Americans believe that military intervention makes the country less safe, while just 27 percent believe the opposite.

All recent presidents have struggled with the cost of war, and how to speak publicly about it, and to many of his supporters, Mr. Trump is talking in authentic and admirably frank terms about a reality many Americans and Washington policymakers never confront.

But Mr. Trump’s comments also offend some veterans and military experts. They say that solemn words about fallen heroes ring hollow from a president who received a Vietnam draft deferment and who has managed a dangerously chaotic foreign policy.

Others wince at the bluntness of Mr. Trump’s accounts.

“I think it’s disrespectful,” said Andrew J. Bacevich, a retired Army colonel turned author and historian whose son was killed while serving in Iraq in 2007. “Those are infinitely private and painful moments. And to have anyone presume to comment on that, I think is beyond reprehensible.”

“He’s politicizing casualties,” he said.

Mr. Trump has paid two visits to Dover Air Force Base, according to a White House spokesman, but it is unclear whether he has actually witnessed such scenes himself, or is repeating accounts he has heard from the military officers he has encountered there.

At a recent rally in Minnesota, the president referred to a widow jumping “on top of the flowers,” adding “I’ve seen this.” But the coffins unloaded at Dover, known as transfer cases, are not adorned with flowers.

Visiting Dover is a “a very tough experience,” he said at the rally, describing grieving families awaiting the return of their deceased sons or daughters with remarkable poise.

On his first visit, the president said, he told an unnamed colonel that the relatives he had met appeared to be “doing great.” The colonel warned that would change: “No sir, they’re not going to do great. You’ll see.”

Then, Mr. Trump said, “this big incredible machine flies in, this tremendous cargo plane,” a door opens and lowers a ramp, down which several soldiers carry a coffin.

“And I see parents make sounds, that were just 20 minutes ago absolutely fine, make sounds, scream and cry like you’ve never seen before,” he said.

“Sometimes they’ll run to the coffin. They’ll break through military barriers,” he said on another occasion, and “run to the coffin and jump on top of the coffin. Crying mothers and wives. Crying desperately.”

Dan Caldwell, a senior adviser to Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative group that supports a noninterventionist American foreign policy, called Mr. Trump’s remarks “some of the most powerful and most eloquent remarks of his presidency.”

“I thought it was very important that he take some time to remind the American people of the human toll of these endless wars,” said Mr. Caldwell, a former Marine who served a tour of duty in Iraq. “Policymakers, especially here in Washington, D.C., need to understand that these wars have a real cost,” he added.

Mr. Trump has also spoken increasingly often about his somber encounters with the wounded at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, which the White House spokesman said he had visited eight times.

He recently recalled meeting a soldier whose nose had been reconstructed from “a thousand fragments,” and recounted his awkward conversation.

“I said, ‘So where were you hurt?’” Mr. Trump asked the soldier, whom he did not name. “He said, ‘My face, sir, was almost obliterated.’”

“I said, ‘You have a better face than I do,’” Mr. Trump disclosed to nervous laughter in the room, before praising the skill of the man’s surgeons.

Scott Corsaut, a Marine veteran and interim president of America’s Gold Star Families, a support group for the families of people killed during active duty, said he sympathized with the emotional nature of Mr. Trump’s interactions.

“It’s got to be tough as a president, whether it’s President Trump or President Obama, to greet the families. I just really feel that as a human being that’s got to be a tough job,” he said.

Others see little introspection on Mr. Trump’s part.

“Having a draft dodger come and lecture us about what service to the country means or hard it is to lose troops in combat is hypocrisy at its worst,” said Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a former Marine who served four tours in Iraq. “It’s disgusting. Fake piety is worse than none at all,” added Mr. Moulton, who was briefly a Democratic candidate for president. “He’s saying what he believes is politically popular.”

Peter D. Feaver, a scholar of civil-military relations at Duke University who served on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, said that Mr. Trump may be haunted by his exemption from Vietnam service after a diagnosis of bone spurs that some evidence suggests was unfounded.

“Some presidents struggle with whether they have the moral authority to cause other people to risk their lives,” Mr. Feaver said.

Mr. Trump’s past two predecessors, Mr. Bush and Barack Obama, each regularly visited Walter Reed to meet with service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Bush was a pilot in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, but Mr. Obama, like his successor, did not serve in the military.

But Mr. Bush never visited Dover, despite the thousands of troops killed under his watch, although he met privately with the families of hundreds of lost soldiers in other locations. His White House, determined to maintain support for the Iraq war, resisted pressure to allow cameras to film the return of bodies there.

In late 2009, as he weighed whether to send more troops into Afghanistan, Mr. Obama paid an unannounced midnight visit to Dover to greet a plane returning several Americans who had been killed there. The White House allowed a photographer to capture the scene, prompting conservatives to accuse Mr. Obama of exploiting a sacred ritual.

Mr. Trump has also allowed cameras to photograph him at Dover, but families must also agree to any coverage by the news media.

“The burden that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts,” Mr. Obama said the next day. “It is something that I think about each and every day.

When Mr. Trump posted a video to his Twitter account defending his first call for a total withdrawal from Syria in December, he suggested that such a disentanglement from a foreign war would comfort those who had died fighting in them.

“I’ll tell you, they’re up there looking down on us,” Mr. Trump said, adding that “there is nobody happier” about his withdrawal plan. “That’s the way they want it,” he continued, pointing his finger toward the sky.

Mr. Bacevich shares Mr. Trump’s skepticism of foreign military action, but he said the president is a flawed and ineffective antiwar messenger, noting that he has overseen Pentagon budget increases and appointed hawkish aides like John R. Bolton, who has since left as national security adviser.

Mr. Trump “doesn’t know how to end endless wars,” he said. “He doesn’t know how to deal with the situations he’s inherited. You can’t just say, ‘Well, we quit.’”

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