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World Series predictions: Astros are heavy favorites over Nationals

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close World Series predictions: Astros are heavy favorites over Nationals

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

The 115th World Series gets underway Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, with the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals vying for the Commissioner’s Trophy in this best-of-seven series.

Houston won 107 games in the regular season and were the big favorites heading into the playoffs, but it’s been far from easy in October. The Astros were forced to a winner-take-all Game 5 against the Rays in the ALDS and just edged out the Yankees in six games in the ALCS.

Meanwhile, Washington has fought its way to the Fall Classic for the first time in franchise history. The Nationals rallied to beat the Brewers in the wild-card game, did the same against the Dodgers in the NLDS and then swept the Cardinals in the NLCS.

OLD-SCHOOL WORLD SERIES: With aces lined up, Astros and Nationals ready: ‘We need that in 2019’

IT’S A CONCERN: World Series history not on Nationals’ side after lengthy layoff

Here’s how the USA TODAY Sports baseball staff sees the Fall Classic playing out:

Astros in 7

I’m veering off my spring-training prediction of Nationals winning the World Series over the Astros. The Nationals’ starting quartet has been phenomenal, but the Astros simply are a more complete team. They haven’t even hit in the first two rounds, and still made it to the World Series. It’s impossible to believe it will last. There’s also the matter of the lengthy layoff. It crushes teams. And it could be the deciding blow to the Nats’ lineup. Washington has to win at least one of the first two games in Houston to make this intriguing.

Astros in 5

Make no mistake: The Nationals can certainly win this. Manager Dave Martinez indicated an aggressive stance regarding use of his starters out of the bullpen, to go for the kill early and also put the keep in the hands of his trusted sextet of pitchers: Starters Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin and Anibal Sanchez and relievers Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. But the Astros put too much pressure on opponents, take too good of at-bats, and ultimately expose the weakest underbelly of their opponents. In the end, their desire for a dynasty – and a deeper core of trusted pitchers – wins out.

Astros in 5

As the only person in this crew to have picked every series correctly (no big deal), I’m going to stick with my prediction from the beginning of the month – and that’s not a knock on the Nationals. Every game in this series should be a close one. The strong individual performances from the Nationals’ starters and hitters are entirely sustainable, but they’re going to have rely more on their relievers than they have to this point – and that’s where the team’s luck may finally run out.

Astros in 6

The combination of dominant starting pitching and a restricted-flight baseball will have runs in short supply during this series – and will also make for close, exciting games. If any team has a chance to match the Astros’ excellence on the mound, it’s the Nationals. The Gerrit Cole-Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander-Stephen Strasburg matchups should be epic. However, it’ll be extremely difficult for the Nationals to duplicate the .393 average with runners in scoring position they produced in the NLCS. The Astros’ ability to make consistent contact will be the difference in the series as their relentless offensive attack – one that led the majors in on-base percentage AND fewest strikeouts in the regular season – will make the most of their scoring opportunities. 

Astros in 6

The Nationals starting rotation has been dominant this postseason. And yes, their starters are all well rested, but the long layoff could come back to haunt them. MVP candidate Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Yordan Alvarez combined to bat .138 in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. All reasons to pick the Nationals, but all trends that will come to an end. The Astros bats will wake up en route to a second title in three years. 

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Urban Meyer sparks speculation about his interest in Dallas Cowboys head coaching job

Westlake Legal Group CFB-Urban-Meyer2 Urban Meyer sparks speculation about his interest in Dallas Cowboys head coaching job Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc d7145b9b-736b-5605-a145-0474535f2467 article

Legendary college football coach Urban Meyer sparked speculation about his own future Friday when he was asked whether Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley would take the Dallas Cowboys coaching job.

Meyer appeared on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” and was asked about the rumors surrounding Riley and the Cowboys’ job. Meyer, who left Ohio State at the end of last season, took the opportunity to throw his hat into the ring.

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“Pure speculation because I know him, but I don’t know him like that, but that’s the one [job],” Meyer said. “That’s New York Yankees, that’s the Dallas Cowboys. That’s the one. Great city. They got Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott. You got a loaded team. And I can’t speak for him obviously, I hate to even speculate because I don’t know him, that’s really not fair, but to me, that’s the one job in professional football that you say, ‘I got to go do that.’”

NEW YORK JETS FINE KELECHI OSEMELE AMID CONTROVERSY OVER SHOULDER INJURY, POSSIBLE SURGERY

Cowherd followed up by asking whether Meyer would be interested if the Cowboys called him.

“Absolutely. Absolutely. That one? Yes,” he said.

There is no indication that Jason Garrett’s job is in jeopardy. At the time of Meyer’s comments, the Cowboys were 3-3 and heading into a pivotal matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

The Cowboys defeated the Eagles on Sunday to move to 4-3 on the season and into first place in the NFC East division. Garrett has been the head coach of the Cowboys since the 2007 season. He has made the playoffs only three times and has not made a Super Bowl appearance.

Westlake Legal Group CFB-Urban-Meyer2 Urban Meyer sparks speculation about his interest in Dallas Cowboys head coaching job Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc d7145b9b-736b-5605-a145-0474535f2467 article   Westlake Legal Group CFB-Urban-Meyer2 Urban Meyer sparks speculation about his interest in Dallas Cowboys head coaching job Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc d7145b9b-736b-5605-a145-0474535f2467 article

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Nancy Pelosi Releases ‘Fact Sheet’ Detailing How Trump ‘Betrayed Oath Of Office’ | The House speaker listed some of the evidence she says shows how the White House launched a pressure campaign on Ukraine and then tried to cover it up.

Westlake Legal Group R4PVUUXXMo-TjBEJNIIBLAnjHdV-6DkW0zEiEl_gPFI Nancy Pelosi Releases ‘Fact Sheet’ Detailing How Trump ‘Betrayed Oath Of Office’ | The House speaker listed some of the evidence she says shows how the White House launched a pressure campaign on Ukraine and then tried to cover it up. r/politics

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The IMF Warns About Rising Regional Inequality

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1176000400-094a4ec877ad9ae468cc5e5ff9e9407f9e1ae8ab-s1100-c15 The IMF Warns About Rising Regional Inequality
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Westlake Legal Group  The IMF Warns About Rising Regional Inequality

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Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money’s newsletter. You can sign up here.

Last week, Gita Gopinath, the head of the International Monetary Fund’s Research Department, kicked off the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF, in Washington, D.C. Wonks flew in from around the globe to mix, mingle, and deliberate at the headquarters of these two multilateral institutions, which lend tons of money to countries in distress. Everyone was well-dressed, except us schlubby journalists, who were also there.

Gopinath presented the World Economic Outlook, the IMF’s biannual report on the state of the global economy, and it was a downer. In her words, “the global economy is in a synchronized slowdown.” She singled out “rising trade barriers and growing geopolitical tensions,” especially between the U.S. and China, for driving much of the decline.

It probably wasn’t a coincidence then that, a few days later, Gopinath took the stage again to present a study about a trend that many blame for these rising trade barriers and political tensions: regional inequality within advanced nations. Think, the Rust Belt vs Silicon Valley, or London vs the rest of England. Then think Donald Trump, and Brexit.

Standing in front of a giant screen with animated maps showing that regional inequalities within countries often dwarf inequalities between them, Gopinath said, “These are important issues to grapple with. They are severe. They’re affecting the economic landscape. They’re affecting the political landscape.”

The study Gopinath presented can be found in Chapter 2 of the World Economic Outlook. It looked at regional economic performance within 20 advanced countries across the industrialized world over the last few decades. The authors find that after a long period of catching up to the rest of their countries, poorer regions began lagging behind in the 1980s. They estimate it’s about a fifth of all the regions in their sample.

Natalija Novta, one of the co-authors of the study, told us these lagging regions all exhibit similar patterns. Whereas leading regions tend to be urban, educated, and specialized in services, like technology, finance, law, design, and hospitality, lagging regions tend to be rural, less educated, and specialized in old-school occupations such as those in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction.

“And these are generally low-productivity sectors compared to some of the high-productivity service sectors,” Novta says. Lower productivity generally means lower wages. Lagging regions have higher unemployment rates too, which helps explain why they see a whole range of social problems, like higher infant mortality rates and shorter average lifespans.

Why?

The two leading suspects for increasing regional inequality since the 1980s are automation and trade with developing nations, especially China.

Based on an influential paper a few years ago, “The China Shock,” you’d think free trade is guilty. It found that, between 1999 and 2011, a flood of Chinese imports to America killed around one million American manufacturing jobs. Even worse, these job losses were concentrated in small towns and cities, devastating many regions of the country.

But the IMF economists find the China story unfolded differently abroad. “We see that, on average, looking across advanced economies, these effects of trade are not as adverse as what has been found in the United States,” Novta says. In the United States, trade with China led to prolonged job losses in lagging regions, but that was not true across their sample. It confirms previous studies that have found that countries like Germany fared much better with Chinese trade. German economists have attributed their country’s success to industrial policies that enhance competitiveness and also sheer luck (Germany, for instance, manufactures a lot of industrial equipment, and China needed a bunch of that as it industrialized).

Novta says, however, the story is more somber when it comes to automation. Lagging regions, which are less educated and innovative, were found to be less resilient to technological changes, and the IMF suggests this is a significant cause of growing regional disparities since the 1980s.

What Should We Do About It?

Not all the countries the IMF analyzed had lagging regions. Austria, Norway, and Finland are all relatively equal when it comes to their geography. But these are also tiny countries compared to the United States. None has more people than New Jersey. But we were still curious what Gopinath thought about why they’re so much more equal. She suggested it had to do with better education systems and social safety nets. “In general, when you have more uniformity in access to some of these basic necessities,” she said, “you end up seeing more convergence.” Gopinath also stressed the importance of policies that encourage flexibility in labor markets, making it easier for workers to retrain, move, and adapt to economic declines in their hometowns.

Washington, D.C., which hosted the event, is one of the leading “superstar” cities that has seen a huge portion of the nation’s economic growth over the last few decades. The federal government, and the vast industrial complex it feeds around it, has become the foundation of a vibrant economy that fares well even when the nation heads into recessions. A number of leaders, including members of the Trump Administration and presidential candidate Andrew Yang, have called for relocating some federal agencies out of DC as a way to cut costs and spread the wealth of federal spending to lagging regions. Leading economists have also been calling for “place-based policies,” which target government aid to struggling regions. Such policies might help close the widening geographic gap.

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Nancy Pelosi Releases ‘Fact Sheet’ Detailing How Trump ‘Betrayed Oath Of Office’ | The House speaker listed some of the evidence she says shows how the White House launched a pressure campaign on Ukraine and then tried to cover it up.

Westlake Legal Group R4PVUUXXMo-TjBEJNIIBLAnjHdV-6DkW0zEiEl_gPFI Nancy Pelosi Releases ‘Fact Sheet’ Detailing How Trump ‘Betrayed Oath Of Office’ | The House speaker listed some of the evidence she says shows how the White House launched a pressure campaign on Ukraine and then tried to cover it up. r/politics

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Pelosi Releases ‘Fact Sheet’ Detailing How Trump ‘Betrayed Oath Of Office’

Westlake Legal Group 5daecb0b2100006b21ad383a Pelosi Releases ‘Fact Sheet’ Detailing How Trump ‘Betrayed Oath Of Office’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disseminated a “fact sheet” on Monday outlining how President Donald Trump, in her words, “betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain” in his dealings with the Ukrainian government. 

The four-page document accused the Trump administration of three stages of wrongdoing related to the president’s controversial July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ― a call that ultimately prompted Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump. 

The fact sheet dubbed the three stages “the shakedown,” “the pressure campaign” and “the cover-up.”

The document cited the White House’s transcript of the phone call as evidence that Trump was “abusing his office by pressing a foreign government” to meddle in the 2020 elections.

According to the rough transcript ― which current and former officials doubt is complete ― Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” by digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

The fact sheet then cited text messages between State Department officials as evidence the White House launched a “pressure campaign” on Ukraine regarding this request. 

The Trump administration has been accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate the Bidens; Trump has repeatedly insisted, however, that there was “no quid pro quo.”

One text exchange cited in the fact sheet involved William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires for Ukraine, who’d expressed concerns about withholding “security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

“I think it’s crazy,” Taylor told Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, in September.

Pelosi claimed Trump used “multiple levers of government” — including the abetment of Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — to “advance a scheme to undermine our 2020 elections for his political gain, and then to obstruct the congressional inquiry into that scheme.”

She also accused the White House of trying to cover up the details of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky. The fact sheet cites a whistleblower complaint related to the call that was filed with the Intelligence Community Inspector General as evidence of this claim. 

“Senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call,” the complaint stated. 

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Worst drivers still on the road thanks to loopholes

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096588078001_6096584233001-vs Worst drivers still on the road thanks to loopholes The Sun Phoebe Cooke fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/auto/attributes/safety fnc/auto fnc article 46174266-7968-5244-b26b-9e3f540612ed

Britain’s worst driver is still on the road despite racking up 78 points in just four years.

The penalty points-laden motorist from Bradford, West Yorkshire. tops the list of more than 10,000 drivers who are still behind the wheel despite repeated driving endorsements.

The unnamed offender must have committed at least eight driving offenses in a four year period – but most likely much much more.

COURT CONVICTS DRIVER WHO POSTED HIGH SPEED VIDEO TO FACEBOOK

The second worst driver who is still behind the wheel is a 48-year-old man from Faversham, Kent who has 66 points.

The country’s worst female driver is a 33-year-old from Burnley, Lancs who has clocked up 49 points.

Drivers are usually banned if they receive 12 points on their license.

However, 10,858 motorists across Britain have that tally or more – and are still able to drive.

Of those, 261 have a whopping 20 or more points, according to Department for Transport figures.

The oldest repeat offender is an 81-year-old woman, who is still allowed to drive despite having 25 points on her license.

The youngest is a 17-year-old, who has racked up 19 points in less than a year of being on the road.

Motorists receive penalty points for a variety of offenses, including speeding, dangerous driving and not having insurance.

The vast majority of offenses stay on your license for four years, apart from causing death or injury by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

This means it’s likely that Britain’s worst driver has racked up his 78 points in the last four years.

The highest number of penalty points a motorist can be slapped with is 11, for causing death by driving under the influence.

Motorists can tot up huge points totals – and still be able to drive – if their offense was dealt with by a banning order or prison sentence in court.

After serving their time, drivers can reapply for their license which will still have all of the points they have racked up.

Dangerous drivers can also dodge bans by convincing magistrates they will face “exceptional hardship” if they lose their license.

If the motorist or a family member will be seriously affected by a ban, magistrates can waive it.

This means drivers can rack up huge numbers of points and stay on the road.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “On the face of it, the thought of somebody still being allowed to drive after accumulating 78 penalty points for poor driving is truly horrifying.

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“And it suggests some drivers are repeatedly breaking the law – perhaps being caught by multiple speed cameras.

“But it’s the case that these drivers can escape a driving ban if they can prove to magistrates that by having one would lead to ‘exceptional hardship’.”

The road safety charity Brake is campaigning for the Government to block this loophole.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM THE SUN

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096588078001_6096584233001-vs Worst drivers still on the road thanks to loopholes The Sun Phoebe Cooke fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/auto/attributes/safety fnc/auto fnc article 46174266-7968-5244-b26b-9e3f540612ed   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096588078001_6096584233001-vs Worst drivers still on the road thanks to loopholes The Sun Phoebe Cooke fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/auto/attributes/safety fnc/auto fnc article 46174266-7968-5244-b26b-9e3f540612ed

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Diplomat who called Trump Ukraine policy ‘crazy’ to testify in impeachment probe

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Diplomat who called Trump Ukraine policy 'crazy' to testify in impeachment probe

Whistleblowers have been at time essential and detrimental to a country’s democracy, but what makes them different than a leaker? We explain. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine who called it “crazy” that the United States would condition the release of security assistance to Ukraine on opening an investigation into Democrats, will testify Tuesday behind closed doors in the House impeachment inquiry.

Taylor, a career diplomat, had raised concerns among diplomats that the administration’s Ukraine policy was withholding nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid until Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered on President Donald Trump’s demands.

Lawmakers on the three House committees investigating the Ukraine policy – Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform – are expected to ask Taylor about military aid and the role of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine policy. Democrats allege that Trump may have abused the power of his office by asking Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter while withholding military aid.

But Trump has insisted he was justified in asking Ukraine to investigate corruption. His administration has denied a “quid pro quo” that aid would be released in exchange for the opening of investigations. 

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told the House inquiry Thursday that Trump had directed diplomats to consult Giuliani on Ukraine policy. 

In a July 25 call, Trump asked Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens, prompting an unnamed whistleblower to file a complaint alleging Trump used the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.

More: Mick Mulvaney acknowledges Trump held up aid to pressure Ukraine, then rows back

More: Impeachment inquiry: Trump ambassador ‘disappointed’ with Rudy Giuliani’s influence in Ukraine policy

In text messages released as part of special envoy Kurt Volker’s testimony, Taylor questioned whether military aid was being withheld for political reasons.

“Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Taylor asked in a Sept. 1 text message to Volker and Sondland.

“Call me,” Sondland texted back.

Taylor raised the issue again in a text Sept. 9. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor said.

Sondland said he called Trump before replying and then passed along the president’s assurances. Trump had been “crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind … I suggest we stop the back and forth by text,” Sondland said. He told Taylor to call “S,” presumably referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, if he wanted to discuss the matter further.

At an Oct. 17 news briefing, acting White house Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said aid to Ukraine was withheld in part because of Trump’s desire for the country to investigate potential corruption regarding U.S. domestic politics. 

Mulvaney later issued a statement saying his remarks had been misconstrued to “advance a biased and political witch hunt.” 

“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney said in the statement. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, John Fritze, David Jackson

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/22/impeachment-ukraine-diplomat-bill-taylor-testify/4036013002/

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Bret Baier: Lessons from ‘Three Days on the Brink’ — We should not fear talk. We should fear the end of talks

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096024543001_6096026429001-vs Bret Baier: Lessons from ‘Three Days on the Brink’ -- We should not fear talk. We should fear the end of talks fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation fox news fnc/opinion fnc Bret Baier article 89adb0a9-d7e0-5a04-a7f0-49297b78b999

PROGRAMMING ALERT: Watch the director’s cut of “Three Days at the Brink,” where Bret Baier goes inside the Tehran Conference and FDR, Churchill, and Stalin’s risky plan to end WWII, exclusively on Fox Nation.

What struck me most in researching the Tehran conference of November 1943 for my new book, “Three Days at the Brink: FDR’s Daring Gamble to Win World War II,” was how friendly and even ingratiating FDR was toward Joseph Stalin, a vicious dictator and known murderer of millions of his countrymen. FDR justified his conciliatory behavior by insisting that we needed Stalin in order to win World War II.

To be fair, our nations were in an alliance to defeat Hitler and the Axis powers. It was also true that the Soviet Union had borne the brunt of casualties in the war. But beyond the discussions about ending the war, FDR also entered into a collaboration with Stalin in Tehran and later at Yalta that sought to reshape the postwar world. Still angling to convince Stalin to join the fight against Japan, FDR wanted more than anything else to get the Soviet dictator on his side.

FDR might have thought he had little choice but to play along with Stalin. He figured he could get away with it, but if he had a postwar strategy to rein in the Soviet Union, he didn’t live to pursue it. And FDR’s critics would later say that relationship and the leeway given to Stalin led to catastrophic consequences in Eastern Europe and for what would be a four decade-long Cold War.

BRET BAIER: THREE PRESIDENTS AT THE BRINK — FDR, EISENHOWER, REAGAN AND THE FUTURE OF THE FREE WORLD

It’s tempting to think of those long-ago summits as relics of the past. But decisions made more than seventy years ago have relevance to the way we pursue foreign policy today.

President Trump’s overtures to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un have set many observers on edge. The bad faith of Russian and North Korean leaders is an old story for American negotiators. In 1943, Stalin said all the right things to FDR’s face, preaching the value of freedom and independence for every nation. Then, once FDR was in the grave and the war was over, he proceeded to break every promise he had made. Knowing what we now know, we can only speculate about what would have happened had not FDR been so willing to allow Stalin to dominate eastern Europe after the war. For that matter, what would have happened had not the control of Germany been divided between east and west?

While I was writing this book, I accompanied President Trump to two meetings with Kim Jong Un, and I couldn’t help but consider the parallels to FDR’s meetings with Stalin.

In Singapore, the two men met for the first time against a backdrop of deeply ingrained mutual hostility. For decades, North Korea has been a hidden land whose principal goal has seemed to be the destruction of the American way. Its children are indoctrinated to hate America. The fact that this brutal regime with animosity toward the west was developing nuclear capabilities was a looming crisis, and each administration had tried to tackle it in different ways for almost two decades.

President Trump’s courtship of Kim Jong Un seemed almost unthinkable, especially after the president had threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” early in his presidency. But rhetoric can be distinguished from diplomacy. After all, Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “the evil empire,” and then went on to sit at the table with Gorbachev and carve out substantial agreements on nuclear disarmament. Trump administration officials were using the Reagan framework—hoping that the formula would work with Kim as well. Even the doubters were cautiously hopeful, just because the scene of an American president and a North Korean leader smiling broadly as they promised to explore cooperation was so unprecedented. No previous sitting president had met with a North Korean leader, although Bill Clinton came close.

As President Trump prepared to leave Singapore, I had a rare opportunity to interview him aboard Air Force One while his impressions were still fresh from his meeting.  A pleased and confident Trump told me, “I’m totally confident. And if we can’t…we can’t have a deal…we have to be—you know, it has to be verified. But one of the things that, really, I’m happy is that the soldiers that died in Korea, their remains are going to be coming back home. And we have thousands of people that have asked for that, thousands and thousands of people.” Indeed, the return of soldiers’ remains was a tremendous symbolic act of good will on the part of Kim.  (Although to this day, the process of getting the remains back to the US has been slow and incomplete.)

Even so, many observers were still skeptical about trying to negotiate with a man whose regime—and that of his father and grandfather—were characterized by savagery against its citizens. Pointing out the human rights violations, I bluntly said to President Trump, “He’s a killer. He’s executing people.”

The President was nonplussed.“He’s a tough guy,” he said of Kim. “Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have. If you can do that at twenty-seven years old, I mean that’s one in ten thousand that could do that. So, he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.” Perhaps President Trump was relating as the son of an overbearing father, but his basic position was that it was better to talk to Kim than to shut him out. There was plenty of handwringing about President Trump’s failure to repel this adversary, but in a larger sense it was the American way.

In Singapore, President Trump told me that he and Kim have “chemistry.” And although he surely discovered that personal chemistry is not enough, he agreed to a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in February 2019.  It did not go so well, ending abruptly when the two sides could not agree on denuclearization. I was also there in Hanoi. The anticipation that a deal would be struck between the US and North Korea was high, but the framework was not set up. The North Koreans appeared to misjudge how far President Trump was willing to bend, and “denuclearization” had two different meanings for the two countries’ negotiating teams. The setting seemed designed to send a message to Kim—a booming economy in Vietnam that continues to expand after Vietnam’s Communist past. Statues of Vladimir Lenin are sprinkled throughout Hanoi positioned across from coffee shops and cellphone stores— a dichotomy that President Trump is trying to sell North Korea as well.

Even after the failed summit, President Trump held out hope. On June 30, 2019, he met Kim at the border and became the first president to step onto North Korean soil. It was a grandiose gesture. However, the positive symbolism of that event soon gave way to a standoff as North Korea continued to ramp up its nuclear program.

Donald Trump is not the first president to court America’s enemies, and nowhere has that been more evident than in Soviet and Russian relations. Even in the darkest early years of the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower tried to develop a working relationship with Nikita Khrushchev, and brought him to Camp David where they watched westerns together. The two men were bitter adversaries, but they had one important issue in common: both agreed that a nuclear war was unthinkable. It would be mutually assured destruction (MAD). I’ve always thought Khrushchev described the nuclear standoff best when he said to Eisenhower: “We get your dust, you get our dust, the winds blow around the world and nobody’s safe.”

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Camp David has witnessed many such outreaches over the decades: Nixon gave Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev the gift of a Cadillac and went for a heart-stopping drive with him on the property. Reagan never invited Gorbachev to Camp David, but George H. W. Bush did. There are photos of the president escorting Gorbachev in the camp golf cart—Golf Cart One. Later, Bush also invited Boris Yeltsin to Camp David. George W. Bush hosted Putin at Camp David when he was trying to establish a relationship with him, but when Barack Obama tried to get Putin to Camp David to attend the G8 summit in 2012, he was rebuffed.

American presidents have always tried to reach out to Russian leaders, even in the tensest times. The budding relationship between Eisenhower and Khrushchev was doomed when the Americans were caught spying with the downed U2 spy place. In the same way, President Trump’s outreach is dramatically complicated by Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and its potential interference in 2020, which has soured most Americans to Russia’s true intentions. Nevertheless, President Trump still tries to find a way in.

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The point seems to be to keep negotiating. It’s easy to imagine Ronald Reagan throwing in the towel with the Soviet Union in 1986 after the disastrous summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, which ended with Reagan and Gorbachev walking away from the table. Yet a little over a year later, Gorbachev was in Washington DC, where they signed a treaty to eliminate intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. Months later, Reagan was in Moscow, with perhaps the most significant platform of his presidency, openly sharing American values with Soviet citizens—a speech that was unthinkable just months before.

Upheavals in the world order are a given, and it’s fair to say that American presidents have made many mistakes in their efforts to balance our principles with undemocratic regimes. Critics will say FDR dropped the ball with Stalin.  But, perhaps he had no choice. As Americans one thing seems certain—we’ve always been willing to keep the door open. We should not fear talk. We should fear the end of talks.  To do otherwise is to make the world more dangerous.

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Anxious Democratic Establishment Asks, ‘Is There Anybody Else?’

WASHINGTON — When a half-dozen Democratic donors gathered at the Whitby Hotel in Manhattan last week, the dinner began with a discussion of which presidential candidates the contributors liked. But as conversations among influential Democrats often go these days, the meeting quickly evolved into a discussion of who was not in the race — but could be lured in.

Would Hillary Clinton get in, the contributors wondered, and how about Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor? One person even mused whether Michelle Obama would consider a late entry, according to two people who attended the event, which was hosted by the progressive group American Bridge.

It’s that time of the election season for Democrats.

“Since the last debate, just anecdotally, I’ve had five or six people ask me: ‘Is there anybody else?’” said Leah Daughtry, a longtime Democrat who has run two of the party’s recent conventions.

With doubts rising about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s ability to finance a multistate primary campaign, persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s viability in the general election and skepticism that Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Ind., can broaden his appeal beyond white voters, Democratic leaders are engaging in a familiar rite: fretting about who is in the race and longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last minute.

It is a regular, if not quite quadrennial, tradition for a party that can be fatalistic about its prospects and recalls similar Maalox moments Democrats endured in 1992, 2004 and in the last primary, when it was Mr. Biden who nearly entered the race in October. But the mood of alarm is even more intense because of the party’s hunger to defeat President Trump and — with just over three months to go before voting starts in Iowa — their impatience with finding Mr. or Mrs. Right among the current crop of candidates.

“There’s more anxiety than ever,” said Connie Schultz, a journalist who is married to Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, another Democrat who some in the party would like to see join the race. “We’re both getting the calls. I’ve been surprised by some who’ve called me.”

“I can see it, I can feel it, I can hear it,” Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor, said of the unease within the party. He said he thinks Mr. Biden is best positioned to defeat Mr. Trump but called the former vice president’s fund-raising “a real concern.”

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Mr. Biden’s lackluster debate performances and alarmingly low cash flow — he has less than $9 million on hand, not even half of some of his rivals — has fueled the Democratic disquiet. But if the causes of the concern are plain to see, what exactly can be done about it is less clear.

And even some of those being wooed acknowledge that it can be hard to discern between people just being nice and those who genuinely want them in the race.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg have both told people privately in recent weeks that if they thought they could win, they would consider entering the primary — but that they were skeptical there would be an opening, according to Democrats who have spoken with them.

Former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who associates say has wondered aloud about whether he should have run and has found it hard to watch Mr. Biden’s missteps, has also been urged to get in. But he still thinks the former vice president, who was once his longtime Senate colleague, is the party’s best nominee.

Another Obama administration official who weighed a campaign at the start of the year, former Attorney General Eric Holder, is considering a last-minute entry but has conceded it may be too late, according to a Democrat familiar with his thinking.

Mr. Brown, who nearly entered the race earlier this year, said the pressure on him to reconsider from labor leaders, Democratic officials and donors has “become more frequent.” And Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, who also weighed a campaign run before deciding not to, said he too has been nudged by friends to reconsider. “It’s nice to be rumored about,” he said, before notably refusing to rule out a last-minute entry. “Don’t ask me that question,” he said.

But Mr. Patrick suggested an 11th-hour bid was highly unlikely and had a message for increasingly angst-ridden Democrats: “Everybody needs to calm down, it’s early. It’s so early.”

The chances that another major contender decides to run are remote: While Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg have both been encouraged to enter the race, Democrats close to them believe the only scenario under which they’d consider running is if Mr. Biden drops out or is badly weakened.

Neither is likely to take place before the end of this calendar year, at which point the filing deadline to be on the primary ballot in large Super Tuesday states like California and Texas will have passed. But that’s not stopping the speculation, which has only grown of late thanks in part to the 2016 Democratic nominee’s public comments.

Mrs. Clinton, after largely staying in the background of the Democratic primary, has been more vocal this month, promoting a book she wrote with her daughter and taunting Mr. Trump on Twitter. She also opened a feud with Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii by claiming the long-shot candidate was being supported by the Russians, as a potential third-party spoiler in the general election.

Democrats who have recently spoken with Mrs. Clinton say she shares the same concerns other party elites have about the field — worried about Mr. Biden’s durability, Ms. Warren’s liberal politics and unsure of who else can emerge to take on Mr. Trump. But these people, who spoke anonymously to discuss private conversations, say she enjoys the freedom that comes with not being on the ballot.

Mr. Bloomberg is said to be more eager to find a way into the race — and chatter about his potential candidacy has only grown among Democrats who work on Wall Street and are concerned about Ms. Warren’s rise. He raised some eyebrows recently by putting off a fund-raising request from one third-party Democratic group until he knew about his own intentions, according to two Democrats familiar with the conversation.

But the former New York mayor has flirted with presidential runs before, only to pull back. Friends say he recognizes his long odds at this stage of the race and his advisers suggest he will play a significant financial role in the 2020 race without his name on the ballot.

Still, it’s unlikely that the what-if musing, particularly among the party’s class of donors, elected officials and strategists, will quiet down as long as Mr. Biden is struggling and Ms. Warren, the Massachusetts senator, is surging.

“With Trump looming, there is genuine concern that the horse many have bet on may be pulling up lame and the horse who has sprinted out front may not be able to win,” said David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama.

While much of the daydreaming about a last-minute entry comes from pro-business Democrats, it is not confined to the wealthy.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Schultz noted that they were hearing from a broad range of people but declined to offer any names.

He said he was staying out of the race and had no regrets. The Ohio senator said he was confident Democrats would eventually rally behind their nominee, but he warned the party not to embrace a single-payer health care plan that eliminates private insurance.

“I think it’ll be a hard sell to the public if we go into the general election for ‘Medicare for all,’” said Mr. Brown, citing the risk of alienating union workers who would lose their negotiated plans.

One longtime Democrat who originally sought to entice Mr. Brown into the race, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, could not help letting out a loud “oy!” when asked about the possibility of another candidate joining the sprawling field.

“For as long as I have been in politics, I’ve heard Democrats fretting about their presidential contenders,” said Ms. Weingarten.

Indeed, for some Democrats, the grass is always greener outside their field.

There were multiple stages of the 1992 primary when Bill Clinton’s candidacy was seen as doomed, either because of his own vulnerabilities or because of the third-party threat of H. Ross Perot, the wealthy Reform Party candidate. Would-be Democratic saviors that year included Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York, former Senators Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, Sam Nunn of Georgia and Al Gore of Tennessee, and Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

In the 2004 race, Mr. Gore was again sought after as a potential candidate. That race evolved along similar lines to the current primary, with Democrats desperate to oust an incumbent Republican (George W. Bush) but nervous that their front-runner into the fall (Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont) would prove unelectable as the nominee. That time, a candidate did come in relatively late in the race, Wesley K. Clark, a retired general, but he gained little traction and Mr. Kerry ultimately won the nomination.

At this time three years ago, it was Mr. Biden who some Democrats were hoping would join the race to offer the party another option besides Mrs. Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Biden, of course, decided not to run. But now it’s his own candidacy that’s prompting a familiar call for the cavalry, or at least one horse-bound white knight.

“If Biden were surging, I doubt you would be hearing this,” said Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic consultant. “This shows a restlessness among a lot of people.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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