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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 104)

GM calls UAW workers back to plants, targeting truck assembly first

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close GM calls UAW workers back to plants, targeting truck assembly first

DETROIT – General Motors alerted its employees that now that UAW members have ratified an agreement and ended their strike, work is to resume Monday with first shift.

The automaker also said it wants to get production running even sooner for the high-demand, profitable pickups.

The company has started calling UAW workers at Flint Assembly and Fort Wayne Assembly in Roanoke, Indiana, seeking volunteers to work Saturday and Sunday, said a person familiar with GM’s plans.

“GM plans to run two volunteer shifts Saturday and Sunday” at Flint and Fort Wayne, said the person. “Management will ask all the employees, highest seniority first, if they are interested in working Saturday or Sunday and if they say no, they go down to the next one on the list and ask.”

GM builds the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 at Fort Wayne. At Flint, GM builds the heavy-duty 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Crew and regular cab pickups.

The strike is over: UAW ratifies a new labor contract with GM

‘Mustang-inspired’ SUV: Ford hopes new electric SUV will shock Tesla, electric vehicle world

About 46,000 UAW workers went on a nationwide strike at Sept. 16 and ended the stoppage when members ratified a four-year contract officially on Friday.

The strike cost GM more than $1 billion, analysts have estimated. While it had stockpiled vehicles in inventory, losing production for six weeks is likely to be a point of pain, analysts said.

That’s why getting pickup production going is crucial. Just days into the strike, GM’s other plant that builds its regular-duty pickups, Silao Assembly Plant in Silao, Mexico, was idled because of a parts shortage. Then, GM had to partially idle Ramos Arizpe Vehicle Assembly in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. There, Chevrolet Blazer SUV production was halted on Oct. 19 because of a parts shortage. It is still building the Chevrolet Equinox SUV.

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GM declined to say when its Mexico plants would be running again. The restart at Silao depends on how quickly Grand Rapids Operations can resume building crucial engine components needed for the pickups. GM’s Romulus Powertrain plant and Tonawanda Engine Plant in Buffalo, New York, build Blazer engines.

“We’re obviously focused on getting all of our operations back up and running as quickly as we can,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores.

In Canada, GM’s truck line at its Oshawa plant in Ontario is expected to restart Monday, said a person familiar with GM’s plans. That plant builds the outgoing model of the Silverado and Sierra pickups. The Oshawa car line started last week and finished its build-out of the Chevrolet Impala sedan, which is being discontinued when Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly finishes building the Impala at the end of January. Detroit-Hamtramck also builds the Cadillac CT6 sedan. GM has not announced the fate of the CT6 yet.

Follow Jamie L. LaReau on Twitter: @jlareauan.

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2019/10/25/gm-calls-uaw-back-plants-targets-truck-assembly-sites-first/2460911001/

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Millions Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage State

As multiple fires burn across California and strong winds are projected to blow over the weekend, utility companies across the state are cutting power and projecting further outages that could affect millions in an attempt to prevent more blazes. 

In Northern California, the rapidly growing Kincade fire — which has been burning since late Wednesday in Sonoma County’s wine country — had grown to nearly 22,000 acres, destroyed at least 49 structures and was only 5% percent contained as of Friday. 

Meanwhile, in Southern California, the Tick fire in Los Angeles had spread to more than 4,000 acres as of Friday and led to the evacuation of around 50,000 people around Santa Clarita. And two separate, smaller fires started in San Diego County on Friday, leading to more evacuations. 

The National Weather Service warned of “extremely critical” fire weather conditions in Southern California on Friday. It also predicted the coming of strong Santa Ana winds starting Sunday, spurring potentially more dangerous fire-fueling weather. And in Northern California, the Bay Area is expecting potentially “historic” levels of wind over the weekend. The agency issued a “fire weather watch” for Saturday to Monday, noting that winds were expected to be the strongest in the area since the 2017 deadly fires in Sonoma.

Electric utility PG&E in Northern California warned of potential blackouts that could affect more than 2 million people across the region, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. A PG&E map shows that most of its coverage areas are on “watch” for potential shutoffs to avoid more fires starting Saturday, with the areas affected by shutoffs expected to increase on Sunday and continuing into Monday. 

Further south, Southern California Edison already had power shut off to over 14,000 customers as of Friday afternoon, largely in LA and San Bernardino counties. The utility’s website warned of potential shutoffs to over 130,000 more customers. And in San Diego, which had two new fires start on Friday, the utility had cut power to over 5,000 customers by the afternoon.

California has been experiencing record-breaking wildfires in recent years. Earlier this month, three people died and dozens of homes were destroyed in two fires in Southern California. 

Some of the state’s worst wildfires ― including the Camp fire, California’s deadliest ever, which killed 85 people in Paradise last year ― were sparked when damaged PG&E power lines came into contact with nearby vegetation. Earlier this month, PG&E caused outrage after a blackout it implemented to prevent fires left about 2 million residents without power. 

“Let’s be real—in 2019, no community in America should be forced to endure an intentional blackout because an outdated electrical grid threatens to spark a devastating fire,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Friday.

The presidential candidate noted that climate change is “exacerbating conditions” for fires in the state, but placed blame for the current situation of widespread outages on “years of poor planning and misplaced priorities on the part of PG&E.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) slammed the utility’s ”decades of greed and mismanagement,” which he said led to the recent widespread shutoffs and those potentially to come.

Westlake Legal Group 5db38f5f210000872ead3f09 Millions Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage State

MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images via Getty Images Gov. Gavin Newsom surveys a home destroyed in the Kincade fire on Oct. 25, 2019, in Geyserville, California.

Here’s the latest information on fires burning across the state: 

The Kincade Fire In Northern California 

The Kincade fire in Sonoma County wine country more than doubled in size from Thursday to Friday, ballooning to 21,500 acres as of early Friday. The fire, which was only 5% contained, destroyed at least 49 structures and forced officials to issue evacuation orders to about 2,000 people in the surrounding area. 

The fire blazed just a 30-minute drive north of Santa Rosa, where a wildfire burned thousands of homes and killed 44 people two years ago this month ― the deadliest wildfire in California at the time.

“It’s only been two years since the fires that devastated our community, and for many, this will be a very stressful and anxious time,” Sonoma County Sherriff Mark Essick said Thursday.

The cause of the blaze is currently under investigation by Cal Fire. However, PG&E told state regulators that a high-voltage transmission tower that had not yet been turned off in a planned power outage broke near the origin point of the fire about the time it started. 

Newsom issued a state of emergency proclamation for Sonoma County late Thursday.  

The Tick Fire In Los Angeles County

The fire ― which started Thursday afternoon in Santa Clarita, just north of the city of Los Angeles ― had blazed through 4,300 acres and burned multiple structures by Friday morning. Authorities said at least 50,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in the region. 

Newsom issued a state of emergency proclamation regarding the Tick fire late Thursday.

Two Fires In San Diego County

The Sawday fire started Friday morning, and had burned almost 100 acres and was only 15% contained by the afternoon. About 170 people were evacuated in the area around Witch Creek, about an hour and a half’s drive from the city of San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Miller fire, which started Friday afternoon, had burned about 37 acres as of 4 p.m. local time and had provoked limited evacuations about an hour outside the city of San Diego.

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Giuliani Is Drawing Attention to Hunter Biden’s Work in Romania. But There’s a Problem.

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-rudy-01-facebookJumbo Giuliani Is Drawing Attention to Hunter Biden’s Work in Romania. But There’s a Problem. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Romania Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Giuliani, Rudolph W Freeh, Louis J Corruption (Institutional) BUCHAREST, Romania Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, signaled this month that he planned to open a new front in his attacks against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — work done by Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden for a wealthy Romanian business executive facing corruption charges.

But there’s a problem with that strategy: Mr. Giuliani participated in an effort that would have helped the same executive, and was in fact recruited to do so by Louis J. Freeh, a former F.B.I. director who had been brought onto the matter by Hunter Biden.

In effect, Mr. Giuliani and Hunter Biden were on the same team, if not at the same time. And their work to help the business executive, along with that of Mr. Freeh, stood in contrast to efforts by the United States, including Vice President Biden while he was in office, to encourage anti-corruption efforts in Romania.

The dynamic in Romania underscores how Mr. Giuliani has done a brisk international business with clients who sometimes seem to be seeking to capitalize on his connections to Mr. Trump even as he has accused Hunter Biden of seeking to capitalize on his father’s name while doing business in other countries. And the disclosure of the connection between his role in Romania and Mr. Biden’s comes at a time when Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws.

Hunter Biden, who is a lawyer, was retained by the business executive, Gabriel Popoviciu, in 2015, while his father was vice president, to help try to fend off charges in Romania being pursued by anti-corruption prosecutors. In 2016, Mr. Popoviciu was convicted on charges related to a land deal in northern Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

Mr. Popoviciu appealed the decision.

Around the time of the 2016 conviction, Mr. Biden recruited Mr. Freeh to assist on the case, according to four people familiar with the effort. Mr. Freeh then retained Mr. Giuliani, who last year criticized Romania’s anti-corruption crackdown and urged amnesty to those who had been convicted, which could have included Mr. Popoviciu.

Mr. Giuliani’s involvement came after Mr. Biden bowed out of the case, according to three people familiar with the arrangements.

The episode, elements of which were reported Thursday by NBC News, is another example of the paydays available to politically prominent Americans willing to work for foreign interests, some of whom are hoping to parlay Washington connections into favorable treatment at home and on the world stage.

Hunter Biden also served as a board member of a Ukrainian energy company owned by an oligarch who had been battling accusations of corruption at the same time that Vice President Biden — now a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate — was pressing the Ukrainian government to step up its anti-corruption efforts. Hunter Biden was paid as much as $50,000 a month for his role on the board.

Efforts by Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump to pressure the current Ukrainian government into investigating the Bidens helped lead to the impeachment inquiry underway by House Democrats. Mr. Trump also asked China to investigate Hunter Biden’s business there, a request that was rejected by the Chinese government.

There is no evidence that Vice President Biden acted improperly in any of the situations involving his son.

Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, said, “Americans are not going to be hoodwinked by a president desperately trying to turn attention to anything but his own corrupt behavior.”

Hunter Biden acknowledged in an interview with ABC News this month that he exercised “poor judgment,” by joining the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings but said he has done nothing wrong. He left the company’s board in April. This month, he announced he would step down from the board of a Chinese company and would not work for or with any foreign-owned companies if his father was elected president.

George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, said his client never discussed the Popoviciu case, Romanian anti-corruption efforts or anything else related to Romania with his father.

Mr. Popoviciu’s hiring of well-connected Americans seemed to be an effort to leverage “the importance to the Romanian government of the U.S.-Romanian bilateral” relationship “to influence and possibly overcome his political challenges in Romania,” said Heather A. Conley, who was a deputy assistant secretary of state in the bureau of European and Eurasian affairs from 2001 to 2005.

Ms. Conley, who is director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, warned that going to work in “environments where corruption is very prevalent such as Romania should be a blinking yellow light of caution reputationally for U.S. firms and individuals.”

Early this month, Mr. Giuliani suggested that he intended to soon draw attention to Hunter Biden’s work in Romania. During an appearance on Fox News in which Mr. Giuliani reiterated his claims about the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine and China, he announced, as the segment was nearing its end, that “there’s a lot more to come out. We haven’t moved to Romania, yet. Wait until we get to Romania.”

Mr. Trump referred to Hunter Biden’s Romania work for the first time on Friday in remarks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

“Well, I think what Biden did, and his son — and now, I guess, they’re finding also Romania; that just came out today. Or some other country. And I’m sure there are more than that,” the president said.

As far back as May, Mr. Giuliani indicated to The New York Times that he intended to ask Mr. Freeh for information about Hunter Biden’s work in Romania. It is not clear if he did so.

Neither executives at Mr. Freeh’s company, Freeh Group International Solutions, nor Mr. Giuliani responded to requests for comment this week.

Hunter Biden’s work for Mr. Popoviciu was first reported by The New York Times in May.

But new details demonstrate how Hunter Biden’s efforts stood in contrast to the message being delivered in Romania by his father and put him on the same side of the case as Mr. Giuliani.

Hunter Biden agreed to work for Mr. Popoviciu at a time when Mr. Popoviciu was being targeted by an anti-corruption campaign that had been championed by Vice President Biden and other Western leaders.

In a May 2014 speech to politicians in Bucharest, Vice President Biden assailed corruption as “a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy” and “can represent a clear and present danger not only to a nation’s economy, but to its very national security.”

About two years after that speech, Mr. Popoviciu was convicted in a case brought by an anticorruption agency that the vice president had praised.

In 2015, before his first trip to Romania, Hunter Biden met with the Romanian ambassador to the United States in the country’s embassy in Washington, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Biden stressed that he was undertaking the trip as a private citizen, and did not expressly mention Mr. Popoviciu, or his case, one of the people said.

At one point, Hunter Biden approached Mark Gitenstein, a former American ambassador to Romania during President Barack Obama’s first term, to discuss the possibility of referring the Popoviciu case to Mr. Freeh, according to someone familiar with the conversation.

Mr. Gitenstein, who had served as a Senate aide for the senior Mr. Biden and now sits on the board of the Biden Foundation, defended the work of the prosecutors who targeted Mr. Popoviciu.

“Both the vice president and I had total confidence in the anti-corruption prosecutors in Romania, and did everything in our power to support them, both during our time in office and after,” Mr. Gitenstein said.

Mr. Mesires acknowledged that Hunter Biden referred Mr. Popoviciu to both Boies Schiller Flexner, the law firm where Hunter Biden worked at the time, and Mr. Freeh’s firm, Freeh Group International Solutions.

Mr. Popoviciu hired both firms, according to four people familiar with the arrangements. Mr. Popoviciu could not be reached for comment.

Boies Schiller Flexner declined to comment.

Mr. Freeh’s firm started work for the Romanian businessman in July 2016, shortly after Mr. Popoviciu was initially convicted by a Romanian court.

Mr. Freeh conducted a review of the case with a team of retired prosecutors and F.B.I. agents. The team concluded there were “numerous factual and legal deficiencies in the case,” according to a statement summarizing the findings issued in 2017, after the Romanian high court upheld Mr. Popoviciu’s conviction and handed down a seven-year prison sentence. Mr. Freeh called for Romanian authorities to review the case, and reach “another result.”

That has not happened. Mr. Popoviciu was arrested in London shortly after the high court’s decision. He posted bail and is fighting extradition to Romania.

While Mr. Biden ended his work on the case at some point after recruiting Mr. Freeh, Mr. Freeh continued working for Mr. Popoviciu.

Last year, Mr. Freeh retained Mr. Giuliani, a longtime associate whose 2008 presidential campaign Mr. Freeh supported, to help with his efforts in Romania.

In August 2018, while serving as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer during the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, Mr. Giuliani wrote a letter to Romania’s president criticizing the country’s anti-corruption prosecutors and urging amnesty to those who had been convicted in the crackdown.

That could have included Mr. Popoviciu, though Mr. Giuliani did not explicitly mention him in the letter. Mr. Giuliani said the Freeh Group was paying his fee, but did not identify the Freeh Group client on whose behalf he wrote the letter. However, he told Politico at the time that it “was based on a report I reviewed” by Mr. Freeh.

In the letter, Mr. Giuliani expressed concern about the “continuing damage to the rule of law being done under the guise of effective law enforcement” in Romania.

Less than two months earlier, the American embassy in Bucharest, along with the embassies of 11 other countries, had issued a statement reaching the opposite conclusion. It highlighted Romania’s “considerable progress” in combating corruption and in building an effective rule of law.

The statement, which came at a time when contentious alterations to the criminal code were moving through the Romanian parliament, also called on all parties involved to “avoid changes that would weaken the rule of law or Romania’s ability to fight crime or corruption.”

Kit Gillet contributed reporting from Bucharest.

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Martin Scorsese clarifies Marvel comments: ‘They’re a new art form’

Westlake Legal Group RT_MartinScorsese_TheIrishman Martin Scorsese clarifies Marvel comments: 'They're a new art form' Nate Day fox-news/topic/marvel fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 26c6533b-e90e-5256-8f57-710252053b51

Film director Martin Scorsese is clarifying his comments comparing Marvel movies to theme parks, saying they’re “not cinema.”

Scorsese’s comments sparked outrage among fans and prompted Hollywood A-listers such as Francis Ford Coppolla and Robert Downey Jr. to speak out, some backing his claims while others slammed them.

Despite some backlash, Scorsese is standing by what he originally said.

JON FAVREAU WEIGHS IN ON MARVEL DEBATE: DIRECTORS CAN ‘EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS’

“Well, look, the point is, in terms of this film, Netflix, theaters — what I’m talking about, really, are films that are made,” Scorsese told Entertainment Tonight. “Let’s say a family wants to go to an amusement park — that’s a good thing, you know. And at themes and parks, [there are] these cinematic expressions. They’re a new art form. It’s something different from films that are shown normally in theaters, that’s all.”

Evidently, Scorsese’s main concern was Marvel films’ domination over theaters and other movies not receiving the attention and theater space that they deserve.

“For them, my concern is losing the screens to massive theme park films, which I say again, they’re [their] own new art form,” Scorsese explained. “Cinema now is changing. We have so many venues, there are so many ways to make films. So enjoyable. Fine, go and it’s an event, and it’s great to go to an event like an amusement park, but don’t crowd out Greta Gerwig and don’t crowd out Paul Thomas Anderson and Noah Baumbach and those people, just don’t, in terms of theaters.”

RYAN REYNOLDS CONGRATULATES ‘JOKER’ ON BECOMING HIGHEST-GROSSING R-RATED FILM, BEATING ‘DEADPOOL’

Directors Coppolla and Ken Loach agreed with Scorsese; Coppolla called the films “despicable” and Loach branded them a “market exercise.”

On the other hand, James Gunn said on Instagram that “even some geniuses” can’t appreciate Marvel films.

Samuel L. Jackson said in an interview with Variety, “I mean, that’s like saying Bugs Bunny ain’t funny. Films are films. Everybody doesn’t like his stuff, either.”

Scorsese’s latest film, “The Irishman,” made its Los Angeles debut on Thursday and will be available for streaming on Netflix beginning Nov. 27.

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The film details the true story of the disappearance of crime boss Jimmy Hoffa. “The Irishman” stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.

Westlake Legal Group RT_MartinScorsese_TheIrishman Martin Scorsese clarifies Marvel comments: 'They're a new art form' Nate Day fox-news/topic/marvel fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 26c6533b-e90e-5256-8f57-710252053b51   Westlake Legal Group RT_MartinScorsese_TheIrishman Martin Scorsese clarifies Marvel comments: 'They're a new art form' Nate Day fox-news/topic/marvel fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 26c6533b-e90e-5256-8f57-710252053b51

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Service dog program commissions statue of late George H.W. Bush’s dog Sully

A program that trains service dogs for disabled veterans has commissioned a bronze statue of the late George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully to be displayed in the 41st president’s library in Texas.

America’s VetDogs commissioned sculptor Susan Bahary to create the statue, which will be placed in the east wing of the Bush library at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The 3-year-old yellow labrador assisted Bush during the last six months of his life before he passed in November 2018 at the age of 94.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH’S SERVICE DOG, SULLY, IS HONORED: ‘MISSION COMPLETE’

Westlake Legal Group AP19298706333412 Service dog program commissions statue of late George H.W. Bush's dog Sully Louis Casiano fox-news/news-events/remembering-george-h-w-bush fox news fnc/us fnc d9672c0b-f6f9-5d31-a0f7-e0151a2c3242 article

Sully, former President George H. W. Bush’s service dog, paid his respect to President Bush as he lied in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Sully gained national attention when a Bush family spokesperson tweeted a photo of the dog next to Bush’s casket while he was lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda, saying: “Mission complete.”

According to a post on the dog’s Instagram account, the statue will depict the dog sitting with his leash in his mouth. The image is meant to convey the “retrieve” task the dog is trained to perform, VetDogs President John Miller said.

The statue will also show him wearing his America’s VetDogs vest with the Great Seal of the United States on its back.

In February, Sully joined the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program, where he works with other dogs to assist wounded military personnel, according to VetDogs.

The Bush family contacted Walter Reed about bringing Sully in after former First Lady Barbara Bush died in April 2018.

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“As much as our family is going to miss this dog, we’re comforted to know he’ll bring the same joy to his new home, Walter Reed, that he brought to 41,” former President George W. Bush had posted to Instagram in December.

Sully was named after retired airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, who saved 155 people on board a damaged passenger jet in 2009 by safely landing it on the Hudson River in New York.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19298706333412 Service dog program commissions statue of late George H.W. Bush's dog Sully Louis Casiano fox-news/news-events/remembering-george-h-w-bush fox news fnc/us fnc d9672c0b-f6f9-5d31-a0f7-e0151a2c3242 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19298706333412 Service dog program commissions statue of late George H.W. Bush's dog Sully Louis Casiano fox-news/news-events/remembering-george-h-w-bush fox news fnc/us fnc d9672c0b-f6f9-5d31-a0f7-e0151a2c3242 article

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Pentagon awards Microsoft $10B ‘war cloud’ contract, snubbing Amazon

Westlake Legal Group microsoft Pentagon awards Microsoft $10B 'war cloud' contract, snubbing Amazon Morgan Phillips fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/tech/technologies/cloud fox-news/tech/companies/microsoft fox news fnc/tech fnc eb45d61f-0785-57de-ba9b-2c9e9aeadfbd article

The Pentagon announced Friday that it awarded a $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to build a cloud-computing system for the military to Microsoft, in a noteworthy snub to Amazon.

The Pentagon initially considered Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and Oracle in the contentious bidding process to build the so-called “War Cloud.” Oracle and IBM were cut from consideration early on due to security and infrastructure concerns; Oracle claimed the process was rigged to benefit Amazon.

“This contract will address critical and urgent unmet warfighter requirements for modern cloud infrastructure at all three classification levels delivered out to the tactical edge,” the Pentagon said in a statement, stressing that the process was fair and followed procedural guidelines.

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The contract was originally set to be awarded Aug. 23, but the Trump administration pushed back the deadline to ensure fairness.

Trump had raised concerns that there may be a conflict of interest in relation to Amazon.

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon,” he had said. “They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid. I have had very few things where there’s been such complaining.”

He threatened to intervene and in August, the Pentagon halted the process to review it for transparency.

JEFF BEZOS TO BE NO. 2 RICHEST, BEHIND BILL GATES, AFTER AMAZON STOCK DROP

It was alleged that only Amazon could have won the contract based on how it was structured. Amazon, owned by Jeff Bezos, already has a high-security cloud contract with the CIA.

While the Pentagon ultimately went with Microsoft for the 10-year contract, Microsoft’s work can be reassessed after two years and the government has the option to pull out of the contract.

The Pentagon currently relies on dated computer systems to communicate information, and it said that additional contracting opportunities are anticipated.

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Westlake Legal Group microsoft Pentagon awards Microsoft $10B 'war cloud' contract, snubbing Amazon Morgan Phillips fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/tech/technologies/cloud fox-news/tech/companies/microsoft fox news fnc/tech fnc eb45d61f-0785-57de-ba9b-2c9e9aeadfbd article   Westlake Legal Group microsoft Pentagon awards Microsoft $10B 'war cloud' contract, snubbing Amazon Morgan Phillips fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/tech/technologies/cloud fox-news/tech/companies/microsoft fox news fnc/tech fnc eb45d61f-0785-57de-ba9b-2c9e9aeadfbd article

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MSNBC’s Chuck Todd dismisses Durham’s criminal probe into DOJ as ‘largely’ based on Trump’s ‘conspiracy theories’

Westlake Legal Group Chuck-Todd MSNBC's Chuck Todd dismisses Durham's criminal probe into DOJ as 'largely' based on Trump's 'conspiracy theories' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 5ae404d8-fa30-5e7f-945c-9488f08699f2

MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd opened his show Friday by dismissing the latest developments in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s criminal probe into the origins of the Russia investigation as something that is “largely” based on President Trump‘s “personal grievances and conspiracy theories.”

It was confirmed Thursday night that Durham’s ongoing investigation into possible wrongdoing by the Department of Justice had shifted into a criminal inquiry. Durham was appointed to investigate the Russia probe origins by Attorney General William Barr.

The “Meet The Press” moderator suggested that Durham’s probe doesn’t actually involve criminal activity.

“Now we do not know when this criminal inquiry began and we do not know what actual crime is being investigated yet, but we do know that this is an inquiry the president has publicly demanded based largely, it seems, on some of the same personal grievances and conspiracy theories that have also fueled his interactions with Ukraine,” Todd told his viewers.

FLUSTERED RACHEL MADDOW DEFENDS RUSSIA INVESTIGATION AS DURHAM PROBE SHIFTS TO CRIMINAL INQUIRY 

He then shifted to what he described as the “biggest development.”

“[What] we are now looking at, perhaps by the president’s design, is a fog of political warfare involving him, his lawyer, his attorney general, the Justice Department and Congress,” Todd said. “You have the president and [his personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani who schemed to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on their political rivals, some of which would get filtered to Barr. You have an impeachment inquiry into that scheme that’s barrelling its way into Congress. You have the president now successfully getting Barr to criminally investigate the Justice Department via the origins of the Russia investigation. And you have the Justice Department scrutinizing Giuliani’s ties to Ukraine after they arrested two of his associates who are involved in the Ukraine matter.”

“Taken together, it’s a circular firing squad of chaos with Ukraine as the connective tissue for all of it,” Todd said.

The anchor went on to suggest that the “current state of American democracy” is a “mess” and that the U.S. government “appears to be coming apart at the seams.”

On Thursday night, Todd’s MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow appeared visibly flustered while reporting the breaking news on Durham’s investigation.

“This is the news that honestly, we’ve been sort of expecting for some time or thinking that if things got really bad, it might come to this,” Maddow told her viewers. “As of tonight, according to The New York Times, it has come to this.”

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The liberal opinion host also dismissed Durham’s investigation, criticizing what she described as a “frame job” and a “false flag operation” of the Trump campaign.

“That is the conspiracy theory that the attorney general of the United States appears to have been going around the world trying to prove,” Maddow said, later calling Durham’s probe “embarrassing.”

Westlake Legal Group Chuck-Todd MSNBC's Chuck Todd dismisses Durham's criminal probe into DOJ as 'largely' based on Trump's 'conspiracy theories' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 5ae404d8-fa30-5e7f-945c-9488f08699f2   Westlake Legal Group Chuck-Todd MSNBC's Chuck Todd dismisses Durham's criminal probe into DOJ as 'largely' based on Trump's 'conspiracy theories' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 5ae404d8-fa30-5e7f-945c-9488f08699f2

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Woman drives motorhome into Las Vegas-area casino after she was kicked out, police say

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Woman drives motorhome into Las Vegas-area casino after she was kicked out, police say

LAS VEGAS – A 50-year-old woman upset about getting kicked out of the Cannery casino drove her Winnebago motorhome through the front doors and ran over an elderly custodian, according to authorities. 

Jennifer Stitt had been ejected from the North Las Vegas casino at 2121 E. Craig Rd. early Friday morning.

“Disorderly conduct,” said North Las Vegas Police spokesman Eric Leavitt. “They asked her to leave, but she didn’t want to leave.” 

Casino staff informed Stitt that her refusal to leave constituted trespassing. 

“She didn’t agree with the trespassing, ” Leavitt said. 

That’s when Stitt left the building, got behind the wheel of her RV and plowed it through the glass front doors of the casino, police said.

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Outside, a 66-year-old custodian stood in the path of the incoming Winnebago.

“He looked up and said, ‘you’re hitting me!” Leavitt said. “And she continued to accelerate at him, actually running him over. She knew fully well what she was doing.”

Casino security surrounded the Winnebago and pulled the angered woman out.

The custodian suffered critical injuries, Leavitt said, but he is expected to survive.

Police took the Stitt into custody. She is likely to face an attempted murder charge, police said.

Follow Ed Komenda on Twitter: @ejkomenda

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‘The Five’ reacts to Senate Dems not supporting a Hillary Clinton run

Westlake Legal Group hilary-clinton 'The Five' reacts to Senate Dems not supporting a Hillary Clinton run Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/the-five fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article a57c53e7-409a-52ca-ba13-908cfb474235

The Five” addressed a possible Hillary Clinton 2020 run Friday and also reacted to Democratic senators looking to move on from her and stick to the current field of Democratic candidates.

“She’s going to depress the vote if she considered going in, right? Because there are a lot of people, when [former President Barack] Obama came out and said ‘black voters get out there and women get out to vote’ — they didn’t show up. They didn’t show up in large numbers,” co-host Lawrence Jones said.

FORMER HILLARY ADVISER REFUSES TO RULE OUT HILLARY RUNNING IN 2020 — IF THE CIRCUMSTANCES WERE RIGHT

Politico piece published Thursday entitled “Senate Democrats tell Hillary Clinton: Time to move on” featured numerous Democratic senators balking at the possibility of Clinton entering the race.

“She’s done a great service to our country and public service, and I supported her wholeheartedly, but I believe it’s time for another nominee,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told Politico.

Jones made the case that Clinton doesn’t resonate with voters because of her “bitterness” from losing the 2016 election.

“I think [it] goes back to her bitterness,” he said. “She really believes that she was robbed of the last election. She really does believe [that] Russia and [former FBI Director] James Comey and everybody was against her, and she didn’t get a fair shake because she was a woman and all these forces were going against her.”

“She does not accept that it was the American voters,” he added.

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Co-host Geraldo Rivera mentioned the electoral college, which prompted a loud groan from his co-hosts.

“But she was robbed in the sense the electoral college,” Rivera said.

Westlake Legal Group hilary-clinton 'The Five' reacts to Senate Dems not supporting a Hillary Clinton run Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/the-five fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article a57c53e7-409a-52ca-ba13-908cfb474235   Westlake Legal Group hilary-clinton 'The Five' reacts to Senate Dems not supporting a Hillary Clinton run Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/the-five fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article a57c53e7-409a-52ca-ba13-908cfb474235

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Trumps Put Their Washington Hotel on the Market

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-hotel-facebookJumbo Trumps Put Their Washington Hotel on the Market United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Organization Trump Hotels Hotels and Travel Lodgings Conflicts of Interest

WASHINGTON — It is the most visible and potent symbol of the ethics debate that has dogged President Trump as he has served simultaneously as the nation’s chief executive and real estate developer with a chain of luxury hotels. And now it is for sale.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, five blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, has been put on the market, just three years after the Trump family spent $200 million to open it in the historic, federally owned Old Post Office building, and at a time when Mr. Trump is facing impeachment and a tough 2020 re-election campaign.

The Trump Organization’s announcement that it is listing the hotel with a real estate agent and wants to listen to offers came less than a week after Mr. Trump’s two roles intersected in a politically and ethically awkward way: He disclosed his intention to host the 2020 Group of 7 meeting of world leaders at the Trump National Doral resort near Miami, then had to abandon the plan after hearing from fellow Republicans that it was a bad idea.

But nothing has rivaled the steady stream of criticism — and the multiple lawsuits — accusing Mr. Trump of violating the Constitution by accepting payments at his 263-room hotel in Washington from foreign governments.

The hotel has also been a magnet for millions of dollars in business from lobbyists, corporate executives and political groups, many of which are pushing the White House for policy actions or other favors.

In offering the hotel for sale, the Trump family acknowledged this tension, even as it argued that the foreign government and politically connected business at the hotel does not constitute a legitimate ethical issue.

“Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, said in a statement on Friday. “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

The hotel opened in late 2016, just before Mr. Trump was elected president, and quickly became one of the single biggest sources of revenue for the Trump family, according to financial disclosure statements, collecting $40.8 million last year.

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, even while working in the White House, also retained a stake in the property, earning nearly $4 million from it last year.

The hotel in Washington is one of the few parts of the company that has had major revenue growth since Mr. Trump took office.

The Trump family spent $200 million renovating the huge Romanesque Revival structure, after it won bidding from the federal General Services Administration to manage the hotel at the property, and a 60-year lease on the building.

Built from 1892 to 1899 to house the United States Post Office department headquarters and the city’s post office, it is the second-tallest building in Washington after the Washington Monument. It is easily recognizable on the city’s skyline, given its distinctive clock tower, which is still open to the public

The leasing of the hotel predated Mr. Trump’s election. Mr. Trump held news conferences at the hotel during the 2016 campaign as it was under construction, and he took reporters covering his candidacy on a tour of the lobby as it was being renovated.

Trump family executives, including Eric Trump, declined to address questions Friday about why they had decided to put the hotel up for sale now, with impeachment proceedings picking up and the 2020 campaign in full swing.

But Mr. Trump’s annual financial disclosure statement shows that his hotels have been underperforming other similar luxury properties in a number of major hotel markets in the United States, including Chicago and Hawaii, industry analysts said.

On Monday, after reversing his decision to hold the Group of 7 meeting at the Trump National Doral resort near Miami, the president addressed what he suggested was a politically driven loss of business at some of his family properties.

“All of a sudden, people — some people — didn’t like it,” Mr. Trump said as he pointed to declines in sales at the Doral. “They thought the rhetoric was too tough, and it went from doing great to doing fine. It does very nicely now.“

Speaking more broadly about the effect of the presidency on his family businesses, he said: “Now, instead of having 100 percent of the market that loves you and they love your brand and it’s luxury and it’s great, now you have 50 percent of the market. That’s called politics. I fully understood that.”

Bruce Rosenberg, an executive at HotelPlanner, a company that sells millions of hotel rooms a year, said that the Trump hotel in Washington was a “trophy” property that a major national brand could turn into a more profitable outlet, if it did not have to worry about the reputational issues.

“It is prime hotel, a prime destination and prime location,” he said, estimating it could attract bids of about $500 million. “And look how close it is the White House. It is going to be a very attractive on a sale. But there are certain group of people who don’t want to stay there.”

Any transfer of the lease would have to be approved by the General Services Administration, which awarded the deal to the Trump Organization after a competition among various bidders.

Before the Trump Organization can sell, the deal will need to pass muster with the company’s outside ethics adviser, Bobby Burchfield, who is a lawyer in Washington.

Under an ethics plan adopted when Mr. Trump became president, Mr. Burchfield must verify that the deal is not unusually favorable to the Trumps — the price must reflect a “fair market value”— and that the buyer is not seeking to gain favor with the Trump administration, among other tests. The buyer cannot be a foreign official or sovereign wealth fund, but foreign citizens are not automatically prohibited from buying the hotel.

The hotel is central to lawsuits pending against the Trump Organization by at least three groups that argue Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments.

The Trump family has tried to address the emoluments issue by sending an annual payment to the Treasury Department for what it says are the profits from these payments by foreign governments, which it said totaled about $191,538 last year at the Washington hotel and other properties it owns, up from $151,470 the year before.

Eric Trump, in a statement about the potential sale, which was first reported on Friday by The Wall Street Journal, said the family had already done its part to address the questions about conflicts.

“Unlike every other hotel company, while our father is president of the United States, we have imposed voluntary restrictions and have chosen not to market, nor solicit, foreign government business during his time in office,” he said.

He added that the hotel had also at times turned away business from foreign governments, which he called “a major sacrifice, especially in a market dominated by foreign embassies, government patronage and international delegations.”

But the operations at the hotel have continued to draw criticism.

“The Trump D.C. hotel has embodied the conflicts of interest and self-enrichment schemes that pervade the Trump administration, easily the most corrupt in modern American history,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a group that has tracked millions of dollars in spending by political candidates, foreign governments and other politically connected groups at the hotel.

One nonprofit group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has tracked at least 694 visits to the hotel by executive branch officials, members of Congress and foreign government officials since Mr. Trump took office.

Republican political groups and candidates have spent $1.8 million at Trump-owned properties in the current election cycle, the largest chunk of that at the Trump hotel in Washington, according to a new tally by the Center for Responsive Politics, which also noted that Mr. Trump’s properties were not a frequent location for political events until he became president.

Democrats in Congress have also continued to question if it is even legal for Mr. Trump to serve simultaneously as both the owner of the hotel, through a family trust, and essentially as the landlord, through the General Services Administration.

A provision in the lease says that “no member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease,” which may prohibit the ownership arrangement. The lease was granted to Mr. Trump before he was elected president.

House Democrats this week sent a subpoena to the General Services Administration demanding that it provide documents addressing this question, which was first raised shortly after Mr. Trump was elected.

“Removing the Trump Organization from the lease of a taxpayer-owned building is a good place to start to ensure President Trump isn’t making a profit as both landlord and tenant of the Old Post Office Building,” Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, who is chairman of the House committee that oversees the General Services Administration, said in a statement Friday.

“But given everything I’ve seen from dealing with this administration and the G.S.A. over the past two years,” Mr. DeFazio added. “I’m skeptical that this latest development isn’t an attempt to make a massive profit that directly benefits the Trump family so I will be following this marketing attempt closely.”

The Trump family has hired the real estate company JLL Hotels & Hospitality to help look for potential buyers of the hotel. But it did not address questions on Friday about why the family choose now to try to sell the hotel, or if it reflected any financial pressure on the Trump Organization, whose many other business operations have declined during Mr. Trump’s tenure in the White House

The White House declined to comment on Friday on the announcement.

Sharon LaFraniere and Ben Protess contributed reporting.

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