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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 501)

Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley makes over-the-shoulder catch in return from injury

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley returned from injury Sunday and made his presence felt with authority, with a touchdown catch and 41 rushing yards in a win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Highlighting Gurley’s excellent day was the touchdown catch in the second quarter to give the Rams a six-point lead early against the Falcons.

NEW YORK JETS’ DEMARYIUS THOMAS LAMENTS ‘WASTING’ TIME WITH NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Jared Goff lobbed a ball over Gurley’s head and the star running back somehow kept his concentration with a few defenders breathing down his neck and made the catch.

It was Gurley’s first receiving touchdown since last October, according to ESPN.

Gurley told reporters after the game it was “just a catch,” according to the Los Angeles Times. But Goff knew it was more than that – it was something the two had been perfecting for years.

EX-NFL DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ACCUSED OF SHOOTING WOMAN, TOLD POLICE HE WAS HIDING FROM RUSSIAN MAFIA

“He and I have been working on that pass for the past three to four years,” Goff said. “To be honest, I don’t think we have ever connected on that route in a game, but to get the look that we wanted, to snap it on time and get it to Todd was exciting, and he made a great play.”

Goff finished with 268 passing yards and two touchdown passes. He also had a rushing touchdown.

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Todd-Gurley4 Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley makes over-the-shoulder catch in return from injury Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/los-angeles-rams fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article 65b29fc6-66d4-50f6-8593-a2a7f1651f31

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) makes a touchdown catch against Atlanta Falcons’ Vic Beasley (44) and Jamal Carter (35) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

The Rams won the game, 37-10, to move to 4-3 and snap their losing skid.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

The Falcons dropped to 1-6 with the loss.

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Todd-Gurley3 Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley makes over-the-shoulder catch in return from injury Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/los-angeles-rams fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article 65b29fc6-66d4-50f6-8593-a2a7f1651f31   Westlake Legal Group NFL-Todd-Gurley3 Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley makes over-the-shoulder catch in return from injury Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/los-angeles-rams fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article 65b29fc6-66d4-50f6-8593-a2a7f1651f31

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Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men

When women speak, they shouldn’t be shrill. Clothing must flatter, but short skirts are a no-no. After all, “sexuality scrambles the mind.” Women should look healthy and fit, with a “good haircut” and “manicured nails.” 

These were just a few pieces of advice that around 30 female executives at Ernst & Young received at a training held in the accounting giant’s gleaming new office in Hoboken, New Jersey, in June 2018.

The 55-page presentation, used during the day-and-a-half seminar on leadership and empowerment, was given to HuffPost by an attendee who was appalled by its contents. Full of out-of-touch advice, the presentation focused on how women need to fix themselves to fit into a male-dominated workplace.

The training, called Power-Presence-Purpose or PPP, took place during the height of the Me Too movement when sexual misconduct accusations dominated the news. In response, large corporations, including EY, shored up their sexual harassment policies and training. A few companies banned forced arbitration over allegations of sex discrimination and assault. Some men were fired. 

Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus, the attendees were told. Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square.

EY, one of the largest accounting firms in the world with $36.4 billion in global revenue and 270,000 employees, was still recovering from a public Me Too accusation. A few months before the seminar, the company was in the news for settling a discrimination complaint filed by Jessica Casucci, a partner at the firm who said she was sexually assaulted by a male partner. The incident happened years before and Casucci complained internally. EY fired the man only after she went public.

The June 2018 event did not touch on any of these topics, however. The focus was on self-improvement. For women.

After HuffPost inquired about the training in early October of this year, EY said that the course had been under review for months, that the June 2018 event was the last time that version of the training was held at the company and that the course “is no longer offered in its current form.” The company did not provide any more detail on the changes.

The training was just one of many that the firm offered to men and women, EY told HuffPost. PPP was created by someone outside the company, “an external vendor,” EY said, and offered because some women requested it.

The company said it disagrees with the way the content of the seminar is characterized in this story. “Any isolated aspects are taken wholly out of context,” EY said in a statement. The company said it reviewed the evaluations of women who participated in the program, and found they rated it highly. EY’s communications team also shared quotes from two current employees, who praised the training.

“Professionally, PPP was the most impactful leadership program that I have had the opportunity to participate in and I have always been incredibly proud and humbled to have been a part of it,” EY senior executive Stacey Moore, who participated in the training four years ago, said in a statement provided by company. “I am forever grateful to the firm for the opportunity and the investment in our women.”

Indeed, some EY partners include references to the PPP program on their LinkedIn pages. In May, female EY employees gathered for a PPP reunion and “graduation.” A LinkedIn post from one EY employee about that gathering says that more than 150 women have taken the course.

“We are proud of our long-standing commitment to women and deeply committed to creating and fostering an environment of inclusivity and belonging at EY, anything that suggests the contrary is 100% false,” the firm said in its statement to HuffPost.

Westlake Legal Group 5da726c0210000090e34a1f5 Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men

ISABELLA CARAPELLA / HUFFPOST The 55-page presentation offered at Ernst & Young featured advice on how to dress.

Don’t Show Your Distracting Skin

The training was billed to participants as advice on how to be successful at EY, according to Jane, a training attendee and former executive director at the firm who’s in her early 40s. Though she’s since left the firm, Jane asked to use a pseudonym, fearing career reprisals.

After she attended the event, Jane said a male EY partner told her, derisively, that it was a “male-bashing” program. With hindsight, Jane realized he had it wrong. “It was more of a woman-bashing event, ironically enough,” she said.

Ernst & Young hired an outside consultant, Marsha Clark (not that one), to teach promising women at EY how to grow their networks, negotiate and “build stronger, high-performing teams,” according to the written presentation.

It should be noted that presentation doesn’t even consider the existence of people who identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming. And it doesn’t delve into how women may be treated differently based on race or sexual orientation.

One section of the document is devoted to women’s appearance: Be “polished,” have a “good haircut, manicured nails, well-cut attire that complements your body type,” it states on Page 36. But then, a warning: “Don’t flaunt your body ― sexuality scrambles the mind (for men and women).” 

The most important thing women can do is “signal fitness and wellness,” the presentation continues.

Jane recalls being told that if you want men to focus on the substance of what you’re talking about, “don’t show skin.” If you do, men are less likely to focus “because of sex,” Jane recalls being told. The advice made her “feel like a piece of meat,” she said.

A long list of “Invisible Rules” for men and women on Page 13 paints a bleak portrait of contrasting communication styles. It says that women often “speak briefly” and “often ramble and miss the point” in meetings. By comparison, a man will “speak at length ― because he really believes in his idea.” Women don’t interrupt effectively like men. Women “wait their turn (that never comes) and raise their hands.” 

Westlake Legal Group 5da726e22100003c0fad2f64 Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men

ISABELLA CARAPELLA / HUFFPOST An assessment of women’s speaking style in the “Invisible Rules” section of the EY presentation.

It’s not clear from the presentation if these “rules” are offered as legitimate expectations or false stereotypes. Jane said it was the former when she took the course. The presentation has a few “discussion questions” that ask women how these rules manifest in their organization and “how can you ‘manage’ yourself now that you’re aware of the ‘rules.’” But there’s little that suggests the “rules” can be broken ― only that women need to navigate through a world structured by these rules.

Don’t Be Aggressive Like Men

Before the workshop, women were also given a “Masculine/Feminine Score Sheet,” which had them rate their adherence to stereotypical masculine and feminine characteristics both on the job and outside the office.

The so-called masculine traits included “Acts as a Leader,” “Aggressive,” “Ambitious,” “Analytical,” “Has Leadership Abilities,” “Strong Personality” and “Willing to Take a Stand.”

The so-called feminine traits included “Affectionate,” “Cheerful,” “Childlike,” “Compassionate,” “Gullible,” “Loves Children” and “Yielding.” None of the feminine traits involved leadership ― ostensibly a focus of the training. 

Westlake Legal Group 5da72703200000ba0c505ddf Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men

ISABELLA CARAPELLA / HUFFPOST Women were asked to score themselves on this list of allegedly feminine and masculine traits.

Jane said the message was that women will be penalized, by both men and women, if they don’t adhere to feminine characteristics or if they display more masculine traits. And that if you want to be successful, you have to keep this in mind.

Clark declined to talk with HuffPost about the presentation, but it appears to be in line with other workshops she’s given, based on an examination of some of the materials posted online by her consulting firm, Marsha Clark & Associates. 

Clark touts her own business experience as critical to her consulting expertise. According to her website bio, she served as an executive at Electronic Data Systems, the Texas technology company founded by Ross Perot, for 21 years before striking out on her own as a consultant in 2000. 

Working as one of the few women in the C-suites of the Texas tech industry in the 1980s and 1990s would have been a sexist minefield. That experience may be why Clark’s advice still follows an older approach of telling women how to navigate within stereotypes rather than confronting them more directly. 

“Marsha’s background as an executive in both line and staff roles, as well as her academic training, provides a unique combination of skills and experience to offer her clients,” her bio says. 

Among the other credentials listed on Clark’s site are a master’s of science in organizational development from American University and various corporate and professional certifications, including for the Myers-Briggs test, one of the most popular and most debunked personality tests used in the business world. Clark’s website also lists a host of blue-chip clients including JPMorganChase, Microsoft and Pepsico. 

While EY said this week that the company no longer offers Clark’s PPP training in its current form, it’s not clear whether this means EY has stopped working with Clark. The company did not answer that question. As recently as Oct. 2, she appears to have attended another workshop with EY that touched on “invisible differences,” according to her LinkedIn page.

Don’t Talk To Men Face-To-Face

Jane said that at the PPP training she attended last year, Clark coached the group in how to interact with men in the workplace ― advice that Jane wrote down in her notes and shared with HuffPost: 

  • Don’t directly confront men in meetings, because men perceive this as threatening. (Women do not.) Meet before (or after) the meeting instead.

  • If you’re having a conversation with a man, cross your legs and sit at an angle to him. Don’t talk to a man face-to-face. Men see that as threatening.

  • Don’t be too aggressive or outspoken.

“You have to offer your thoughts in a benign way,” Jane said, recalling the seminar. “You have to be the perfect Stepford wife.” It felt like they were being turned into someone who is “super-smiley, who never confronts anyone,” she said.

“You have to be the stereotype of what a woman is,” Jane said. Like the worksheet described it, she added. 

Attendees were even told that women’s brains are 6% to 11% smaller than men’s, Jane said. She wasn’t sure why they were told this, nor is it clear from the presentation. Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus, the attendees were told. Men’s brains are more like waffles. They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square.

The only reason to talk to women about their size of their brains is to make them feel inferior to men, said Bruce McEwen, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University. “It’s implying their brains don’t work as well,” he said, but in fact there is no link between size and function. “Brain size is irrelevant.”

HuffPost reached out to several other women who attended the PPP training. None responded.

Let’s Debunk Ideas About Women At Work

Stereotypes about how women behave at work ― they don’t ask for what they want, they don’t negotiate, they’re more caring ― are popular. They’re also largely false and misunderstood, said Robin Ely, a professor at Harvard Business School who researches the role of gender in organizations and has taught leadership training for women.

Ely reviewed the EY presentation at HuffPost’s request. 

“There’s not a lot of empirical support that there are trait differences between men and women,” she said. “This curriculum is shot through with that assumption.”

Ely recently published a paper debunking other beliefs about women in the workplace, such as the claims that they’re bad negotiators or lack confidence – both ideas in the EY presentation. Often, it’s company culture, not inherent gender differences, the professor said, that create situations in which women appear to lack confidence or ambition.

“You look at what happens in meetings in such cultures. It’s not lack of confidence. It’s when women say something, it’s more harshly criticized,” Ely said. “If a guy says anything, it’s a great idea.”

Ely’s earlier research into law firms found that stereotypes were more strongly believed in those firms that had the smallest percentage of female partners. When there were just a few token higher-level women, she wrote, it gave everyone fewer examples of what female professionals look like. People resorted to stereotypes.

HuffPost also showed the EY presentation to Evelyn Carter, a senior consultant at Paradigm, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm that’s worked with companies like Twitter, Slack and Zillow.

Carter said female empowerment training should take note of gender stereotypes in the workplace, and the EY presentation did this. But instead of teaching women how to dismantle those stereotypes, the EY presentation appears to advise women how to live with them. 

“I think the goal of women’s empowerment is to go beyond ‘you should do it this way to exist in a man’s world,’” Carter said.

Many women really do enjoy empowerment programs, said Deborah Kolb, a professor emerita at Simmons College School of Management who has been organizing and running executive education programs for women for decades. 

But once they leave a program with a “fix the women” approach, disillusionment sets in. “You feel good, but then you realize it doesn’t work,” said Kolb, who has advised companies like Deloitte, Time Warner and Eli Lilly. 

When Ely does training for female executives, she said she tries to actually focus on leadership, looking at how they can create the conditions for their teams to thrive, particularly those team members who are also women or others who have been disadvantaged. 

“As a leader, you’re enabling other people, creating conditions for other people to bring their best selves forward,” she said. “That’s why they follow you.”

You Have To ‘Work Around The Men’

EY has positioned itself as a company that is enlightened about women, frequently marketing its take on the value of women in business with hashtags (#WomenFastForward), surveys and programs. In a statement to HuffPost, it said, “EY has been ― and remains ― a highly recognized and award-winning leader in fostering a culture that promotes inclusion and a strong sense of belonging for all. We are, and remain, unrelenting in our effort to continue to set the standard for a best-in-class culture and work environment.”

Yet the firm has very few women in its higher ranks. Jane said that nearly all of the partners on the EY teams she worked on were male. Women make up only 12% of EY’s lead client service partners, according to the company’s own data from fiscal year 2018. The numbers for other top jobs are only slightly better. Overall, just 20.4% of EY’s partners and principals are women. (A lack of women in key roles is an industry-wide problem for accounting firms.)

Jane empathizes with Karen Ward, a former partner at EY who has said she was sexually harassed by a boss and then retaliated against when she complained to other senior partners, which HuffPost detailed in an investigation earlier this year. EY denies Ward’s charges. 

Ward filed sex discrimination charges against the firm in 2018 and was forced to take her case to arbitration rather than to court. Because of onerous terms in her employment contract, she’s had to spend nearly $200,000 so far just to have her complaint heard. 

Jane said she wasn’t explicitly sexually harassed at EY, but she faced discrimination. She was isolated by her male colleagues, left out of important meetings, made to sit along the wall in conference rooms and even told not to speak unless spoken to during conversations with clients, she told HuffPost.

Other women at the PPP training told her those experiences were standard at EY, she said. “The only way to succeed is to work around the men. I heard that over and over,” Jane said.

Although the firm could not address Jane’s specific claims without knowing her identity, EY said it “thoroughly” investigates any claims brought to its attention and imposes “harsh sanctions” when its policies are violated.

How To Make Women Feel Like Failures

For as long as there have been women in business, there have been experts telling them how to behave in order to get ahead. 

Not that long ago, women were told to look and act more like men: wear shoulder pads, learn to golf. Then they were told they weren’t succeeding because so many of them were “opting out” to have babies. More recently, Sheryl Sandberg told women they just needed to “lean in” and be more ambitious.

None of that did much more than make each successive generation of women feel like failures. But over the past decade, there has been more in-depth research showing that it’s not women holding themselves back ― it’s an entire system designed to keep them in place.

Organizations built and run by men tend to exhibit entrenched biases that value confidence and assertiveness in men while penalizing those traits in women; judge men based on their potential, while assessing women on what they’ve already accomplished; insist on work hours that cater to men with wives at home taking care of everything else; and, of course, ignore when women are sexually harassed ― far more often than anyone was willing to admit until very recently.

The reasons that women hit a dead end in the corporate world have little to do with their outfits, their negotiating skills or the way they stand when talking to a man. And yet the idea that women just need to do better persists. That’s partly because there is something appealing about the idea that an individual can fix these issues. It is empowering to be told that the key to your success is in your hands. 

But what Kolb and other researchers have found is that advancing women in an organization requires work on the part of the whole organization.

“It’s about understanding the social context within which you’re working and giving people strategies to succeed within that context,” she said. Companies need to look at how they make hiring and promotion decisions, how performance reviews are conducted, even how meetings are scheduled. 

Jane, for example, said that even after she told her team that early morning meetings didn’t work for her, because she had to get her kids off to school, she was never accommodated. A number of regularly recurring meetings were scheduled between 8 and 9 a.m.

“I was the only woman on the team with young kids. They said it would be ridiculous to schedule just for one person,” she said.

Over her time at EY, Jane said her confidence was shattered. “They convinced me I had the worst personality,” she said. “It was gutting.”

She has a new job now. “I’m finding my sea legs slowly,” she said. “I think people are happy with my work. I think I’m gaining trust.”

As for her former employer, Jane said she was sharing the training document in the hopes the company would reconsider some of its practices. “I just want EY to change,” she said.

Are you a woman in the corporate world who’s experienced harassment in the workplace? Tell us your story. Email: emily.peck@huffpost.com

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As Trump Tweets He Is ‘Bringing Soldiers Home,’ Pentagon Chief Says US Forces Leaving Syria Are Shifting to Iraq; “We simply cannot believe anything the Trump administration says—and neither can our allies.”

Westlake Legal Group mv4FA_36HVUCzLbAUilz5A5t4KSW6eDu0o-QRVxe2Kc As Trump Tweets He Is 'Bringing Soldiers Home,' Pentagon Chief Says US Forces Leaving Syria Are Shifting to Iraq; "We simply cannot believe anything the Trump administration says—and neither can our allies." r/politics

Since the beginning of his Presidency, everything he’s said, I’ve expected the exact opposite. Whatever Trump says he’s going to do….expect the polar opposite to happen.

•Drain the swamp; makes it worse

•Win a trade war with China; farmers require more money for a bailout than the auto industry

•Divest in his businesses; funnels taxpayer money into them to line his pockets

•Says he will be the most transparent President in history; orders staff to lie to cover up for his crimes

•Bring troops home; sends them to Iraq

Trump is a conman. You can’t believe anything he says

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

U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force in Afghanistan

Westlake Legal Group 21afghan-withdrawal1-facebookJumbo U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force in Afghanistan United States Defense and Military Forces Taliban Miller, Austin Scott (1961- ) Esper, Mark T Defense Department Afghanistan War (2001- )

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States is already reducing the size of its troop force in Afghanistan despite the lack of a peace deal with the Taliban, at a time when President Trump has expressed reluctance to remain engaged in costly wars abroad.

In a news conference on Monday, the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, confirmed that the size of the American force in the country had already quietly dropped by 2,000 over the last year, down to roughly 12,000.

Other American and Afghan officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the plan, said that the eventual force size could drop to as low as 8,600 — roughly the size of an initial reduction envisioned in a draft agreement with the Taliban before Mr. Trump halted peace talks last month. Rather than a formal withdrawal order, they are reducing the force through a gradual process of not replacing troops as they cycle out.

A senior Afghan official said the Afghan government had signed off on the reduction. Officials would not discuss other details of the drawdown, including any specific timeline for it.

The confirmation came during a visit to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, and after months of debate within the Trump administration on meeting the president’s goal of stopping what he has recently called “endless wars.”

Earlier in his visit, Mr. Esper seemed to allude to some potential reduction in American forces, saying that drawing down to 8,600 troops would not affect important counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

As Mr. Trump grew frustrated over the past year, diplomats tried to package an American troop reduction as a bargaining chip in peace talks with the Taliban, hoping to get some concessions from the insurgent group, which has long demanded a complete American troop withdrawal.

The decision to reduce American troops even before a deal with the Taliban means the United States is weakening its hand in future negotiations with the insurgents. And it is likely to mean a significant shift away from the United States military’s longstanding mission of training the Afghan military as American officials concentrate on counterterrorism operations, officials said.

Reducing the number of troops ahead of a complete departure from the country was always the most important American bargaining chip in any negotiations with the Taliban to end the long war. But from the start, Mr. Trump made it abundantly clear that he wanted out of Afghanistan.

At one stage halfway through the yearlong negotiations, Mr. Trump stumbled during a Fox interview, incorrectly saying that the number of American troops in Afghanistan was 9,000 and not the 14,000 it was listed at. Many, including some Taliban officials taking part in the talks in Qatar, read that as confirmation that the American decision to draw down had already been made whether the Taliban offered concessions or not.

Much of the initial effort by American negotiators was trying to persuade the Taliban that the United States was truly committed to Afghanistan, while signaling that the insurgents should not try to wait out the Americans.

American military officials, though wary of leaving Afghanistan altogether, had signed off on the first stages of a troop drawdown in a draft peace agreement that would have seen 5,400 American troops leave the country over about five months. The measure was put forward to show the Taliban that the Americans would abide by the proposed deal in return for the insurgent group reducing violence in Afghanistan, according to officials taking part in the negotiations.

But the peace talks collapsed last month when Mr. Trump pulled the plug on the deal his diplomats had finalized and initialed after a year of negotiations.

American officials have since quietly signaled that they are trying to keep the talks with the Taliban alive. Earlier this month, the chief negotiator for the United States, Zalmay Khalilzad, met informally with Taliban officials in Pakistan.

During his visit, Mr. Esper also said a peace agreement was “the best way forward.”

The current process of troop reduction outside of peace talks gives more control over the process to General Miller and the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which had criticized the United States for negotiating a troop withdrawal with the insurgents rather than with the country’s elected government.

Last year in January, Mr. Ghani, perceiving that Mr. Trump urgently wanted to cut costs in Afghanistan, said he would be happy to directly negotiate some degree of troop reductions with the Americans if they would avoid rushing into a bad deal with Taliban.

General Miller had long set out a goal of an 8,600-member troop force as being both a desired level and as the minimum needed to support the Afghan military, according to two defense officials.

General Miller, a Special Operations officer by trade, has a reputation for whittling down military units and commands to “trim the fat” and best accomplish their mission. In the last year that he has led the Afghan mission, American troops have focused on seeking out proactive leadership for Afghan forces who can better carry the burden of the war, while the United States can focus its resources in backing them up with air power.

At the height of the war, in 2010 and 2011, there were more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan, aided by tens of thousands of NATO allies in what made up one of the biggest military coalitions in the world.

Now, a further reduction in American forces would mean that the burden of training the Afghan military would fall more heavily on the roughly 8,500 NATO forces and other allies in the country.

It is unclear, however, whether a reduction in American forces might lead to some reconsideration by NATO allies as well. In a recent interview with The New York Times, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, would not speculate on any reduction of troops, but added that NATO remains committed to the mission in Afghanistan.

“We have adjusted that many times, and we will always assess exactly the way and the composition of our forces in Afghanistan,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

The plan to shrink the force in Afghanistan comes as much of the world’s attention has been focused on the retreat of American forces from the front line in Syria as Turkish-backed troops advance into the country. And in many ways, the changes in Syria and Afghanistan are linked.

In December, on the heels of Mr. Trump’s first announcement that American forces would be leaving Syria, he also demanded the withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Trump’s orders sent the Pentagon and the American command in the Middle East scrambling in an effort to persuade the president otherwise, officials say.

It was clear that the Taliban, too, have been closely watching the events in Syria, where the Trump administration allowed Turkey to move against Kurdish fighters who had long been closely allied with American forces.

“The U.S. follows its interests everywhere, and once it doesn’t reach those interests, it leaves the area. The best example of that is the abandoning of the Kurds in Syria,” Khairullah Khairkhwa, one of the Taliban’s senior negotiators, was quoted as saying in an interview posted on the insurgent group’s website recently. “It’s clear the Kabul administration will face the same fate.”

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

U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force in Afghanistan

Westlake Legal Group 21afghan-withdrawal1-facebookJumbo U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force in Afghanistan United States Defense and Military Forces Taliban Miller, Austin Scott (1961- ) Esper, Mark T Defense Department Afghanistan War (2001- )

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States is already reducing the size of its troop force in Afghanistan despite the lack of a peace deal with the Taliban, at a time when President Trump has expressed reluctance to remain engaged in costly wars abroad.

In a news conference on Monday, the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, confirmed that the size of the American force in the country had already quietly dropped by 2,000 over the last year, down to roughly 12,000.

Other American and Afghan officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the plan, said that the eventual force size could drop to as low as 8,600 — roughly the size of an initial reduction envisioned in a draft agreement with the Taliban before Mr. Trump halted peace talks last month. Rather than a formal withdrawal order, they are reducing the force through a gradual process of not replacing troops as they cycle out.

A senior Afghan official said the Afghan government had signed off on the reduction. Officials would not discuss other details of the drawdown, including any specific timeline for it.

The confirmation came during a visit to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, and after months of debate within the Trump administration on meeting the president’s goal of stopping what he has recently called “endless wars.”

Earlier in his visit, Mr. Esper seemed to allude to some potential reduction in American forces, saying that drawing down to 8,600 troops would not affect important counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

As Mr. Trump grew frustrated over the past year, diplomats tried to package an American troop reduction as a bargaining chip in peace talks with the Taliban, hoping to get some concessions from the insurgent group, which has long demanded a complete American troop withdrawal.

The decision to reduce American troops even before a deal with the Taliban means the United States is weakening its hand in future negotiations with the insurgents. And it is likely to mean a significant shift away from the United States military’s longstanding mission of training the Afghan military as American officials concentrate on counterterrorism operations, officials said.

Reducing the number of troops ahead of a complete departure from the country was always the most important American bargaining chip in any negotiations with the Taliban to end the long war. But from the start, Mr. Trump made it abundantly clear that he wanted out of Afghanistan.

At one stage halfway through the yearlong negotiations, Mr. Trump stumbled during a Fox interview, incorrectly saying that the number of American troops in Afghanistan was 9,000 and not the 14,000 it was listed at. Many, including some Taliban officials taking part in the talks in Qatar, read that as confirmation that the American decision to draw down had already been made whether the Taliban offered concessions or not.

Much of the initial effort by American negotiators was trying to persuade the Taliban that the United States was truly committed to Afghanistan, while signaling that the insurgents should not try to wait out the Americans.

American military officials, though wary of leaving Afghanistan altogether, had signed off on the first stages of a troop drawdown in a draft peace agreement that would have seen 5,400 American troops leave the country over about five months. The measure was put forward to show the Taliban that the Americans would abide by the proposed deal in return for the insurgent group reducing violence in Afghanistan, according to officials taking part in the negotiations.

But the peace talks collapsed last month when Mr. Trump pulled the plug on the deal his diplomats had finalized and initialed after a year of negotiations.

American officials have since quietly signaled that they are trying to keep the talks with the Taliban alive. Earlier this month, the chief negotiator for the United States, Zalmay Khalilzad, met informally with Taliban officials in Pakistan.

During his visit, Mr. Esper also said a peace agreement was “the best way forward.”

The current process of troop reduction outside of peace talks gives more control over the process to General Miller and the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which had criticized the United States for negotiating a troop withdrawal with the insurgents rather than with the country’s elected government.

Last year in January, Mr. Ghani, perceiving that Mr. Trump urgently wanted to cut costs in Afghanistan, said he would be happy to directly negotiate some degree of troop reductions with the Americans if they would avoid rushing into a bad deal with Taliban.

General Miller had long set out a goal of an 8,600-member troop force as being both a desired level and as the minimum needed to support the Afghan military, according to two defense officials.

General Miller, a Special Operations officer by trade, has a reputation for whittling down military units and commands to “trim the fat” and best accomplish their mission. In the last year that he has led the Afghan mission, American troops have focused on seeking out proactive leadership for Afghan forces who can better carry the burden of the war, while the United States can focus its resources in backing them up with air power.

At the height of the war, in 2010 and 2011, there were more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan, aided by tens of thousands of NATO allies in what made up one of the biggest military coalitions in the world.

Now, a further reduction in American forces would mean that the burden of training the Afghan military would fall more heavily on the roughly 8,500 NATO forces and other allies in the country.

It is unclear, however, whether a reduction in American forces might lead to some reconsideration by NATO allies as well. In a recent interview with The New York Times, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, would not speculate on any reduction of troops, but added that NATO remains committed to the mission in Afghanistan.

“We have adjusted that many times, and we will always assess exactly the way and the composition of our forces in Afghanistan,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

The plan to shrink the force in Afghanistan comes as much of the world’s attention has been focused on the retreat of American forces from the front line in Syria as Turkish-backed troops advance into the country. And in many ways, the changes in Syria and Afghanistan are linked.

In December, on the heels of Mr. Trump’s first announcement that American forces would be leaving Syria, he also demanded the withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Trump’s orders sent the Pentagon and the American command in the Middle East scrambling in an effort to persuade Mr. Trump otherwise, officials say.

It was clear that the Taliban, too, have been closely watching the events in Syria, where the Trump administration allowed Turkey to move against Kurdish fighters who had long been closely allied with American forces.

“The U.S. follows its interests everywhere, and once it doesn’t reach those interests, it leaves the area. The best example of that is the abandoning of the Kurds in Syria,” Khairullah Khairkhwa, one of the Taliban’s senior negotiators, was quoted as saying in an interview posted on the insurgent group’s website recently. “It’s clear the Kabul administration will face the same fate.”

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See Felicity Huffman In Her Prison Uniform As William H. Macy Visits

Westlake Legal Group 5dad7a84210000621b34a8b5 See Felicity Huffman In Her Prison Uniform As William H. Macy Visits

Green is the new black for Felicity Huffman.

Images of the “Desperate Housewives” actor in her prison uniform emerged over the weekend as husband William H. Macy visited her at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. (See the video above.)

Huffman, 56, on Tuesday began serving her 14-day sentence after she pleaded guilty to mail fraud and honest services fraud for paying $15,000 to boost her daughter Sophia’s SAT score.

The Oscar-nominated star, who is inmate No. 77806-112 for now, was seen walking the grounds of the minimum-security facility Saturday in a green button-down shirt and matching pants and baseball cap. She reportedly met with Macy and at least one of their daughters during the visit. 

Huffman and “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin were among the prominent names in the college admissions bribery scandal.

Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli face far greater potential sentences for allegedly forking over $500,000 to have their daughters admitted into USC under the ruse of posing them as crew athletes. Both have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

Huffman is expected to be released on Oct. 27.

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Power out for almost 140,000 after Dallas tornado damages homes, downs trees

Thousands homes and businesses were without power in East Texas Monday after severe storms near Dallas ripped off roofs and downed power lines

At least one tornado was confirmed to have touched down in northern Dallas Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said

No serious injuries or fatalities were reported, the city said in a news release early Monday. Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans told the Associated Press, though, three people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

As emergency crews assess the extent of the storms’ power, photos on social media showed that the twister damaged some buildings, breaking glass and downing trees. Most of the damage within Dallas appeared to be limited to the northwest.

One fire station also appeared to be significantly damaged with a collapsed roof and debris all around.

Evans said seven people escaped a structure that collapsed in northwest Dallas, but Dallas Fire-Rescue was searching to see if anyone was left inside. WFAA-TV reported that a convenience store collapsed in the storm, but the clerk told the station that everyone who was inside made it out safely.

According to electric utility Oncor, almost 140,000 customers were without power as of 4 a.m. and 65,000 people in Dallas alone were without power, the city said.

At least six schools were to be closed Monday morning, the city said on Twitter.

A line of storms was still moving southeast of the city early Monday, the weather service said, but no severe weather was forecast for the rest of the day. Parts of eastern Texas, northwestern Louisiana and southwestern Arkansas remained under tornado watch Monday.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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Liz Peek: Do Hillary Clinton’s Tulsi Gabbard attacks signal another presidential run – and loss?

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096040232001_6096048264001-vs Liz Peek: Do Hillary Clinton's Tulsi Gabbard attacks signal another presidential run – and loss? Liz Peek fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 7b021990-cee9-5ad4-ac8a-392fc4022c19

Just when you thought the Democratic primary race could not get any nuttier (Bill de Blasio’s hapless quest sets a high bar), along comes Hillary Clinton accusing Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of being a Russian agent. Or, words to that effect.

More accurately, in a podcast hosted by former Obama apparatchik David Plouffe, Clinton said candidate Gabbard is “the favorite of the Russians” and suggested Moscow was supporting her bid through fake social media postings.

Since Gabbard is only polling at 1.2 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics average, Russia doesn’t seem to be helping much. More important, there is zero evidence that any such meddling has occurred.

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What on earth could have prompted such an outlandish charge? We can start with Clinton’s enduring belief that the Russians were behind her 2016 defeat, in addition to James Comey, misogyny, Bernie Sanders, the Electoral College, the media and innumerable other villains. Hillary has never owned up to having been a widely distrusted, politically inept and arrogant candidate who simply lost an election.

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It’s unfortunate, because her inability to take responsibility for the unexpected 2016 loss has helped divide the country and has also made her a laughing stock. Unlike most former candidates, Hillary has seen her approval ratings drop since her campaign, and especially among Democrats. In September 2018, two years after the election, Clinton’s approval stood at 36 percent, an all-time low, and seven points below her ratings on the cusp of the 2016 vote. Among Democrats, her approval was down 11 points.

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After 17 years of being voted the most admired woman in the country, Hillary has fallen behind Michelle Obama and is tied with Melania Trump. Boy, that must rankle.

Blame her interminable and whiny book, endless embarrassing speaking tours meant to keep her in the public eye and fluff up her already-copious bank account, and renewed scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation, which, not surprisingly, deflated as donors disappeared.

But mainly, blame her inability to move on, which has prompted her peculiar attack on Gabbard. The animus between the two is not new; in 2016, Gabbard committed the unforgivable sin of endorsing Bernie Sanders. At the time, Gabbard was vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, which has been accused of tipping the primary contest to Hillary. Her apostasy, consequently, was profound.

Some have speculated that Hillary is itching to throw her hat in the ring, hopeful a third campaign proves the charm.

Gabbard has also challenged Hillary, and the Democratic establishment, on foreign policy. When the Iraq war veteran came out in favor of Bernie, Gabbard described Hillary as someone who “will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime change.”

Gabbard has fired back at Clinton’s Russia comments, calling her the “queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long….”

Gabbard claims her camp has detected a “concerted campaign to destroy my reputation” and now believes that Hillary, “through her proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose” is behind that effort.

The assertion seems far-fetched; why would Hillary Clinton bother to take down a fellow Democrat who is so far behind the pack?

Maybe because in her bitterness Hillary cannot endure anyone else – and especially another female – campaigning and possibly winning in 2020.

Gabbard has suggested as much, tweeting “It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me… Join the race directly.”

Some have speculated that Hillary is itching to throw her hat in the ring, hopeful a third campaign proves the charm. Like many Democrats, she may consider Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is quickly becoming the favorite, too extreme to win a national election against Donald Trump.

In a recent interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff, Clinton said,  “So maybe there does need to be a re-match. I mean, obviously I can beat him again.” She later said she was joking.

Recently, baited to jump in by President Trump on Twitter Hillary responded “Don’t tempt me. Do your job.”

Before she enters the race, Hillary should review what voters are saying about another run. A recent Rasmussen poll shows that fully 71 percent of voters say she should not run, including 58 percent of her own party. That’s not a great starting point.

Though Hillary is quite positive she would win, suggesting in a CBS interview that “there were many funny things that happened in my election that will not happen again,” the Rasmussen survey tells a different story.

In that poll, she ties Trump in a head-to-head match-up. But remember that on the eve of the 2016 election the polling was unequivocally in her favor. At that time The Daily Beast posted a jubilant column, “Hillary Clinton Leads All Final Polls,” noting a Monmouth poll had the former Secretary of State up by 6 points, while a tracking poll by ABC News and the Washington Post had her ahead by 4 points. It may be, given the apparent bias in Trump surveys, that running even is not good enough.

Three other findings should give her pause. The first is that in that imaginary contest, Clinton wins only 60 percent of the black vote. In 2016, she walked away with 88 percent of that vote. That possible leakage of black votes, which I’ve noted before, is a real danger sign for Hillary, and for Democrats.

Second, only 42 percent of those surveyed think the country would be better off today if Clinton had been elected. Fully 48 percent disagree. That’s an astonishing conclusion, given the daily battering the president receives from the media and his low job approval ratings.

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Finally, only 54 percent of Democrats think Hillary won the nomination in 2016 fairly. Imagine the reaction is she was to jump in today, or if she were to be nominated by a deadlocked convention. The remaining dozen or so candidates, and their supporters, would erupt; most likely, a great many would stay home.

It’s time for Hillary to retire to the sidelines. Stop embarrassing Democrats, and herself.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096040232001_6096048264001-vs Liz Peek: Do Hillary Clinton's Tulsi Gabbard attacks signal another presidential run – and loss? Liz Peek fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 7b021990-cee9-5ad4-ac8a-392fc4022c19   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6096040232001_6096048264001-vs Liz Peek: Do Hillary Clinton's Tulsi Gabbard attacks signal another presidential run – and loss? Liz Peek fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 7b021990-cee9-5ad4-ac8a-392fc4022c19

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Miami Dolphins’ Christian Wilkins ejected 33 seconds into game vs. Buffalo Bills

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Christian-Wilkins2 Miami Dolphins' Christian Wilkins ejected 33 seconds into game vs. Buffalo Bills Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article 0af3c556-2928-5fe9-92ff-393faa73b297

Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins’ Sunday did not last very long.

The Dolphins’ first-round draft pick out of Clemson was ejected 33 seconds into the game against the Buffalo Bills for throwing a punch at Bills’ offensive lineman Cody Ford. It was the second play of the game.

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The Dolphins went on to lose, 31-21, to stay winless.

After the game, Wilkins addressed his actions by calling himself “extremely selfish.”

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“I was extremely selfish,” Wilkins said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “This is the ultimate team sport. It’s not just about me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in myself about something, especially something that was in my control. Really, really shouldn’t have happened.

“There’s no place for it in this game and that’s not the standard I hold myself to because I just love this game, I try to respect this game as much as possible, play it as competitively as possible. This game was meant to be competitive, not combative. I really let myself down and my teammates down in just a selfish moment so early in the game.”

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Wilkins was starting his sixth game for the Dolphins before the ejection. He came into the game with 18 combined tackles and one pass defended.

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Christian-Wilkins2 Miami Dolphins' Christian Wilkins ejected 33 seconds into game vs. Buffalo Bills Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article 0af3c556-2928-5fe9-92ff-393faa73b297   Westlake Legal Group NFL-Christian-Wilkins2 Miami Dolphins' Christian Wilkins ejected 33 seconds into game vs. Buffalo Bills Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article 0af3c556-2928-5fe9-92ff-393faa73b297

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Peak Florida: Snake Eating Another Snake Gets Interrupted By An Angry Wasp

Westlake Legal Group 5dad6470210000911d34a880 Peak Florida: Snake Eating Another Snake Gets Interrupted By An Angry Wasp

Rattlesnake

These snakes are commonly found throughout North and <a href=”http://www.theactivetimes.com/content/11-reasons-you-need-explore-south-america-slideshow” target=”_hplink”>South America</a>. They are the largest of the venomous snakes in the United States, according to the <a href=”http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/snakes/types.html” target=”_hplink”>CDC</a>. Depending on the species, they can range from one to eight feet. Be careful during hot summer nights when they are most active. They will use their rattles as a warning to you when they feel threatened. <em>Photo Credit: Pixabay</a></em> <a href=”http://www.theactivetimes.com/content/world-s-most-dangerous-snakes-0/slide-2?slide=4?slide=4?slide=4?slide=4?slide=4?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=travel” target=”_hplink”><strong>Click Here to See The World’s Most Dangerous Snakes</strong></a>

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