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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 106)

A Forecast for a Warming World: Learn to Live With Fire

SAN FRANCISCO — Facing down 600 wildfires in the past three days alone, emergency workers rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people in Southern California on Thursday as a state utility said one of its major transmission lines broke near the source of the out-of-control Kincade blaze in Northern California.

The Kincade fire, the largest this week, tore through steep canyons in the wine country of northern Sonoma County, racing across 16,000 acres within hours of igniting. Wind gusts pushed the fire through forests like blow torches, leaving firefighters with little opportunity to stop or slow down the walls of flames tromping across wild lands and across highways overnight.

And north of Los Angeles, 50,000 people were evacuated as strong winds swept fires into the canyons of Santa Clarita, threatening many homes.

Aerial footage of the Kincade fire showed homes engulfed in flames propelled by high winds that could become even stronger in the coming days. But beyond the destruction, which appeared limited on Thursday to several dozen buildings, hundreds of thousands of people were affected, both by the fires and a deliberate blackout meant to prevent them. Schools and businesses closed and thousands of people evacuated their homes.

All this is happening after three straight years of record-breaking fires that researchers say are likely to continue in a warming world and which raise an important question: How to live in an ecosystem that is primed to burn?

“I think the perception is that we’re supposed to control them. But in a lot of cases we cannot,” said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor at the University of Idaho. “And that may allow us to think a little bit differently about how we live with fire. We call it wildfire for reason — it’s not domesticated fire.”

According to the National Climate Assessment, the government report that summarizes present and future effects of a warming climate on the United States, fire is a growing problem. Climate change will lead to more wildfires nationwide as hotter temperatures dry out plants, making them easier to ignite.

The total area burned in a single year by wildfires in the United States has only exceeded 13,900 square miles — an area larger than the country of Belgium — four times since the middle of last century. All four times have happened this decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

“There is anger in the community,” said Michael Gossman, the deputy county administrator of Sonoma County’s office of recovery and resilience, in an interview this year. In 2017 his California county was devastated by the Sonoma Complex fires, which killed 24 and burned more than 170 square miles. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the conditions this week were analogous to those of 2017.

Many residents in Northern California faced a twin threat on Thursday: fires, but also the deliberate power outages meant to mitigate the blazes. Both the Kincade fire and a small fire that ignited Thursday morning, the Spring fire, occurred in or near areas where the state utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, had turned off the power.

The fires “brought out some longer standing institutional issues around equity,” Mr. Gossman said. Critics say electricity cutoffs disproportionately harm low-income people who cannot afford solar and battery backup systems or gas-based generators, as well as sick and disabled people who rely on electricity to run life-saving medical equipment.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163246050_ee8f9d3f-7476-42a4-adca-337f20bf6e09-articleLarge A Forecast for a Warming World: Learn to Live With Fire

A firefighter spraying water on a burning home in Sonoma County on Thursday.Credit…Noah Berger/Associated Press

Although winds in California were forecast to subside later on Thursday, officials warned that the extreme winds and dry conditions that create high risk for fires could return on Sunday. This is why government agencies are preparing themselves to deal with fires that are increasingly seen as inevitable.

Prescribed burns, or planned fires, like one set last spring on Brawley Mountain in Georgia in Southern Appalachia roughly 100 miles north of Atlanta, are often seen as part of the solution.

The idea that fire could itself be used to help fight fire and restore ecosystems first gained institutional acceptance in the South. In 1958 a policy change was made to allow for the first prescribed burn in a national park, at Everglades National Park in Florida.

For some time, the practice remained anomalous outside of the South. But within the south, according to Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, even private landowners would occasionally set smaller, controlled fires on their property.

Before the era of fire suppression, north Georgia around Brawley Mountain used to burn roughly every three to five years, according to Dr. Klaus. Those blazes allowed species that could withstand some fire, like the longleaf pine, to proliferate and flourish, shaping local ecosystems.

Some of those fires were caused by natural events like lightning; others were caused by human activity. The Forest Service notes that Native Americans used prescribed burns to help with food production. These smaller fires act as a kind of incendiary rake, clearing out grasses, shrubs and other plant matter before they can overgrow to become fuel for bigger, more extreme fires.

Dave Martin, who oversees fire and aviation management in the Forest Service’s southern region, said that a prescribed burn costs about $30 to $35 an acre — versus spending about $1,000 dollars an acre for putting out a fire. “The cost of suppressing a fire is more than a prescribed burn,” he said.

It was a combination of forest overgrowth and drought conditions that helped fuel Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains Fires in 2016, which killed at least 14 people. Several fires burned across eight southeastern states that year, the same year Kansas experienced the largest wildfire in its history. The Anderson Creek prairie fire, which also affected Oklahoma, blackened some 625 square miles.

The 2016 wildfires also allowed researchers to compare fire intensity between areas that had undergone a prescribed burn and those that had not. The fires in areas that had undergone prescribed were less intense. “It went from a 20- to 30-foot breaking front,” said Dr. Klaus in reference to the height of the leading edge of the blaze on wild lands that had not burned, “to two to three feet.”

Reintroducing fire to the land is more complex than lighting a match. You cannot burn where people live, for example. But nationwide, housing near wild lands is the fastest growing land-use type in the United States. More people are moving into areas that are more likely to burn, and in some cases they may oppose prescribed burning.

“Part of doing this work means educating local communities,” said Mike Brod, the fire and natural resources staff officer of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

And there are limits to prescribed burning. If conditions are too wet, a fire won’t ignite, but if it’s too dry, the fire is hard to contain. Like Goldilocks, for wild land managers the conditions have to be just right. This includes not just the wind’s speed, which can affect the spread of a fire, but also its direction.

And once the burn starts, its smoke can travel great distances. Smoke from last year’s California’s wildfires not only threw a haze over much of the state, but transformed sunsets as far away as Washington, D.C. On Thursday, NOAA warned residents of the Bay Area that “shifting winds tomorrow will likely cause the smoke to be directly over much of the region,” as a result of the Kincade fire.

So during planned burns great pains have to be taken to make sure that the smoke is directed away from population centers. “If the smoke isn’t doing what we want it to do, we’ll shut it down,” said Nick Peters, the acting district fire management officer for the Chattooga River ranger district in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

The particulates in wildfire smoke are similar to the kind of pollution that gets released from burning gasoline or coal. Called PM 2.5, the tiny particles are associated with negative health effects. Out west, the rise of giant wildfires has worsened air pollution enough to erode some of the air-quality gains from the Clean Air Act.

Earlier this year NOAA and NASA launched a mission to learn more about wildfire smoke. The program flew planes into western wildfires and Midwestern agricultural fires throughout the summer and into the fall.

A lot of wildfire and climate research is divided into two camps: observational modelers (who run large computer simulations) and researchers (who gather observational data using sophisticated monitors) said Rajan Chakrabarty, an assistant professor at the Washington University in St. Louis. The goal of the mission was to bridge that gap.

But flying into a fire is not for the weak bellied. As the plane flies through a blaze, the cabin fills with the smell of smoke evocative of a barbecue or a campfire. And sampling a fire plume often involves the kind of rollicking, stomach churning turbulence that commercial flights go out of their way to avoid.

By taking samples during an active fire, scientists hope to understand what’s in the smoke, and how the chemical makeup changes over time.

“This air is getting blown downwind, so it’s going to impact areas outside of just where the fire was burning,” said Hannah Halliday, a researcher at NASA Langley, who also participated in the mission. “And we have models for how emissions change, but we want to make sure that we have that chemistry right, and the physics right.”

The hope is that, over the long term, the smoke models will be as sophisticated as weather models, and can let people know well in advance when they’ll need to prepare for smoke, even if they are relatively far from the site of a fire.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Thomas Fuller reported from San Francisco. Kendra Pierre-Louis reported from Brawley Mountain, Ga., and Idaho.

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Coast Guard searches for man who fell from cruise off Texas

Westlake Legal Group asm-acquisitions-cutter Coast Guard searches for man who fell from cruise off Texas fox-news/us/military/coast-guard fox-news/travel fox news fnc/travel fnc Edmund DeMarche article 4071c84d-9f30-564c-87eb-c3be05782310

The U.S. Coast Guard late Thursday said it was searching for a man who plunged into the Gulf of Mexico while the ship was about 47 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas.

The ship, the Carnival Dream, left port at 3:30 p.m., KHOU11 reported. The Coast Guard got the call at about 8:45 p.m.

The person who fell overboard was described as a 26-year-old male. The ship was headed to Cozumel, Mexico.

Westlake Legal Group asm-acquisitions-cutter Coast Guard searches for man who fell from cruise off Texas fox-news/us/military/coast-guard fox-news/travel fox news fnc/travel fnc Edmund DeMarche article 4071c84d-9f30-564c-87eb-c3be05782310   Westlake Legal Group asm-acquisitions-cutter Coast Guard searches for man who fell from cruise off Texas fox-news/us/military/coast-guard fox-news/travel fox news fnc/travel fnc Edmund DeMarche article 4071c84d-9f30-564c-87eb-c3be05782310

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Hannity on possible Hillary Clinton run: Trump campaign would likely be thrilled

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097531136001_6097532172001-vs Hannity on possible Hillary Clinton run: Trump campaign would likely be thrilled Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc bc0c51d4-ffd7-5526-9e64-09a2a12c28e4 article

Sean Hannity laughed off a possible Hillary Clinton run for president Thursday saying that President Trump is probably looking forward to that rematch.

HILLARY CLINTON MULLING 2020 RUN, CITING WEAK DEM FIELD, CLAIM OF EMAIL VINDICATION: REPORTS

Hannity reacted to former Clinton adviser Philippe Reines telling “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Wednesday that if Clinton believed she would be the best candidate to defeat Trump she would strongly consider jumping into the race.

“If she thought she had the best odds of beating Donald Trump, I think she would think about it long and hard,” Reines said.

The possibility of another Clinton run only raised questions for Hannity.

“Wonder if she’s going to pay for another Russian dossier? Wonder if she’ll also have another secret server?” Hannity asked. “Since [losing the general election]… she’s come up with a whole lot of excuses. Let’s see, Russian bots, Internet troll factories, Facebook ads, media coverage, Fox News, her emails. James Comey, even blaming the flashing videos on the dark web.

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Hannity added, “And of course, she blames Russia collusion. Never mind the fact that it was her campaign that actually paid for the dirty Russian dossier.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097531136001_6097532172001-vs Hannity on possible Hillary Clinton run: Trump campaign would likely be thrilled Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc bc0c51d4-ffd7-5526-9e64-09a2a12c28e4 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097531136001_6097532172001-vs Hannity on possible Hillary Clinton run: Trump campaign would likely be thrilled Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc bc0c51d4-ffd7-5526-9e64-09a2a12c28e4 article

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Missing Tennessee mother’s body found, 2 men charged with abuse of corpse, investigators say

The body of a Tennessee mother who was reported missing nearly two weeks ago was discovered on Wednesday and two men were charged with abuse of a corpse, investigators announced Thursday.

Carolyn Pope’s body turned up near power lines in Hickman County, Tenn., which is about an hour from Nashville, a news release from the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office said.

A tip led investigators to the 30-year-old mother, WKRN-TV reported, citing Hickman County Sheriff Randal Ward. Her body reportedly was found wrapped in a blanket, under a plastic sheet and debris in a gully near a heavily wooded area.

Westlake Legal Group Carolyn-Pope-FB Missing Tennessee mother's body found, 2 men charged with abuse of corpse, investigators say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news fnc/us fnc c54beb4c-4d3d-5f56-af3b-cec8ae53b9b8 article

Carolyn Pope’s body was found in Hickman County, Tenn., a news release from the sheriff’s office said. (Carolyn Pope/Facebook)

TENNESSEE MAN SHOT WITH HIS OWN GUN AFTER CONFRONTING CAR BURGLARS, POLICE SAY

“You know we were all praying for a miracle, that she was going to come home. You know that we were going to find her, that she was going to be OK. You know everybody was looking for her, everybody missed her. It’s just heartbreaking,” Pope’s sister-in-law Mary Gonzalez said. “She was a good person. It’s a tragedy what happened.”

Westlake Legal Group Hall-Hinderliter Missing Tennessee mother's body found, 2 men charged with abuse of corpse, investigators say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news fnc/us fnc c54beb4c-4d3d-5f56-af3b-cec8ae53b9b8 article

Warrants for Christopher Hall, left, and Mitchell Hinderliter were issued, the office added. (Hickman County Sheriff’s Office)

Pope lived in Fairview, about a half-hour from Nashville, with her grandmother and 5-year-old daughter.

Pope’s grandmother filed a missing-person report on October 13, the sheriff’s news release said, adding that she was last seen at a home the day before. Since then, the sheriff’s office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted several search warrants at different homes, on multiple phones and vehicles.

TENNESSEE COLLEGE STUDENT ACCUSED OF FATAL SHOOTING IN DORM

Warrants for Mitchell Hinderliter and Christopher Hall, both of whom were in jail on unrelated charges, were written for abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and false reports, the sheriff’s office added.

It was unclear what possible ties the men may have had to Pope. Her car reportedly was recovered on Hinderliter’s property during the investigation.

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“Her 5-year-old is going to take it really hard. I mean her mom was her superhero, she was her superwoman,” Gonzalez reportedly said. “She would do anything for her. She’s been wondering where she is at, will she ever come home, when she’s going to see her or talk to her and it’s heartbreaking that she has to go through this. It’s heartbreaking that she’s going to grow up not knowing her, you know, only having the memories.”

The investigation was ongoing and more charges connected to Pope’s death were expected after the final report from the medical examiner, the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office said.

Westlake Legal Group Carolyn-Pope-FB Missing Tennessee mother's body found, 2 men charged with abuse of corpse, investigators say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news fnc/us fnc c54beb4c-4d3d-5f56-af3b-cec8ae53b9b8 article   Westlake Legal Group Carolyn-Pope-FB Missing Tennessee mother's body found, 2 men charged with abuse of corpse, investigators say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news fnc/us fnc c54beb4c-4d3d-5f56-af3b-cec8ae53b9b8 article

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Kellyanne Conway defends her comments in viral phone interview: ‘Exactly none of it is anyone’s business’

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Kellyanne Conway defends her comments in viral phone interview: 'Exactly none of it is anyone's business'

Kellyanne Conway fired back at Fox News host Chris Wallace after he asked if her husband’s comments hurt their marriage. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway stood by her statements during a heated phone conversation with a Washington Examiner reporter that went viral on Thursday.

During the confrontational conversation, Conway expressed frustration that Caitlin Yilek wrote about her husband George Conway’s very public anti-Trump stance and bashful Twitter account in an article about Bloomberg reporting that said President Donald Trump may be considering Conway as his next chief of staff.

Yilek released audio and a transcript of the phone call. 

“I just am wondering why in God’s earth you would need to mention anything about George Conway’s tweets in an article that talks about me as possibly being chief of staff,” Conway said to Yilek.

George Conway says …Trump’s Syria decision is a ‘colossal geopolitical blunder of historic significance’

“Respectfully, of course, it’s just lazy to talk about somebody’s Twitter feed. Do you talk about other people’s spouses in your pieces, because I’ve been looking around, I haven’t learned a single thing from any of your pieces, and I’m just wondering if you routinely talk about people’s spouses?” Conway continued. “Why is it relevant here? George’s position is what?”

She boasted, “He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around.”

In the phone call, Conway argued that Trump hadn’t addressed her husband, who calls for the president’s impeachment almost daily and constantly questions his mental health. Trump labeled George Conway, a conservative lawyer, the “husband from Hell,” earlier this year.

According to the Examiner, Conway’s assistant, Tom Joannou, contacted Yilek on Tuesday night for her phone number, and called her Wednesday morning, initiating an off-the-record call before Conway “took over the call.”

“Listen, if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here,” Conway told the reporter in the phone call. “If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.”

A wall, where? Donald Trump: ‘We’re building a wall in Colorado’

Conway continued to criticize Yilek, ingloriously telling her, “OK, then let’s talk about your job. What is your job exactly? Is your job to rely upon derivative reporting without picking up the phone and trying to ask questions or write things that are relevant?”

After an extensive back and forth about the article and the reasoning for mentioning Conway’s husband, Yilek replied, “I don’t know that I have to explain that to you. I’m just trying to do my job and what my editor tells me to do.”

Conway shot back, “You don’t have to rely upon the men in your life and pretend somehow by way of reporting that I rely on the men in my life, which clearly isn’t the case.”

In a statement, Conway acknowledged how it is unusual “in Washington and especially in Republican politics — for a man to gain newfound fame and power through his wife … Like every couple I know, George and I disagree on many big things and agree on many big things.”

“Exactly none of it affects my position as Counselor to the President. Exactly none of it is anyone’s business,” she concluded.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/24/kellyanne-conway-washington-examiner-reporter-clash-phone-call/4091992002/

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Tulsi Gabbard slams DNC for ‘trying to hold a pre-primary’ to weed out potential 2020 nominee

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097538273001_6097532867001-vs Tulsi Gabbard slams DNC for 'trying to hold a pre-primary' to weed out potential 2020 nominee Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox news fnc/politics fnc article 2405cff1-d3ea-56c4-b185-eed226fc3783

Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard, who recently has defended herself against assertions that she’s a Russian asset, accused the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of “trying to hold a pre-primary” in the media to weed out a potential 2020 party nominee.

In a pre-recorded statement for a LULAC – NewsMaxTV town hall Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, Gabbard accused the “DNC and its corporate media allies” of “trying to kind of hold a pre-primary election before you, the voters, have the opportunity to vote yourselves, especially those voters in the early states.”

The Hawaii congresswoman continued, “I hope that the DNC hears this message loud and clear, gets out of the way just to allow voters to exercise your responsibility and your right to vote so that it is nothing but your voices that are heard in this election.”

ANDREW YANG SAYS CLINTON CRITICISM OF GABBARD ‘INAPPROPRIATE’

Gabbard also went after Hillary Clinton for comments she made last week alluding to the possibility that Russians have “got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”

Gabbard, an anti-interventionist candidate, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “What is so concerning about what HIllary Clinton is doing here is, she is not only calling me a traitor, she is not only trying to smear my character, she is sending a warning to every veteran, every single American, anyone who stands up against the war-mongering foreign policies that really are her legacy.”

The former Army National Guard major who served in Iraq also defended her stance on the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

“I have not called for impeachment. I’ve supported the inquiry,” she said at the town hall. “I still remain concerned about this inquiry being overshadowed by partisan interests.”

Gabbard doubled down on her stance on impeachment, telling Hannity, “I have long expressed my concern about going through impeachment proceedings in a very, very partisan way because it will only further tear apart an already divided country.”

“I think there are areas of concern that were raised around the conversations that happened between Trump and the Ukranian president, which is why I supported the inquiry,” she said of the July 25 phone call between the two leaders. Congressional Democrats alleged that Trump tried to pressure Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, the 2020 hopeful and former vice president, and his son Hunter for possible corruption in exchange for the release of foreign military aid. Trump repeatedly has denied doing anything wrong.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

Gabbard continued, “I think that the inquiry needs to be done in a very narrowly focused way and it must be done transparently. I don’t what going on in those closed doors. We, as members of Congress, don’t have access to the information that is being shared and I think the American people deserve to know exactly what the facts are, what the evidence is that is being presented as this inquiry goes on.”

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday stormed a secure House facility, stopping a closed-door deposition related to the Trump impeachment inquiry, to protest what they called a lack of transparency by House Democrats.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097538273001_6097532867001-vs Tulsi Gabbard slams DNC for 'trying to hold a pre-primary' to weed out potential 2020 nominee Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox news fnc/politics fnc article 2405cff1-d3ea-56c4-b185-eed226fc3783   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097538273001_6097532867001-vs Tulsi Gabbard slams DNC for 'trying to hold a pre-primary' to weed out potential 2020 nominee Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/elections/presidential fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox news fnc/politics fnc article 2405cff1-d3ea-56c4-b185-eed226fc3783

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Betsy DeVos held in contempt by federal judge for violating order on student loan collection

Westlake Legal Group Betsy-DeVos Betsy DeVos held in contempt by federal judge for violating order on student loan collection Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/politics fox-news/health/education fox news fnc/politics fnc article 4b228efc-e31b-5634-8918-19fe03cc331c

A federal judge held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court on Thursday and sanctioned the Education Department with a $100,000 fine after it said DeVos refused to comply with a court mandate to cease collection of loans from students who were defrauded by now-defunct Corinthian Colleges.

The move comes after the Education Department continued to garnish wages and seize tax returns of nearly 1,800 borrowers who were granted loan forgiveness by the courts under the borrower defense to repayment program, after Corinthian — embroiled in scandal and bankruptcy — was forced to close in 2015, the court said.

The initiative sought to provide loan relief to students who were misled by the school, but DeVos, a Trump appointee, tried to limit the scope of the program even after a judge’s ruling in 2018.

“Given that there are over 16,000 borrowers who have suffered damages from [the] defendants’ violation of the preliminary injunction, and given that there may be some administrative expenses to remedy the harm, the court finds the amount reasonable,” Sallie Kim, a federal magistrate judge in California, wrote in a court order.

BETSY DEVOS BLASTS DEMOCRATS’ ‘CRAZY’ PLANS TO ELIMINATE STUDENT LOAN DEBT

“Here, there is no question that [the] defendants violated the preliminary injunction,” the court order said. “There is also no question that [the] defendants’ violations harmed individual borrowers who were forced to repay loans.”

According to Kim, “the evidence shows only minimal efforts to comply with the preliminary injunction” to grant full relief to students. Instead, the judge said DeVos implemented a new methodology that calculated a borrower’s eligibility for partial loan forgiveness based on their average earnings.

The judge also said that the Education Department “mistakenly notified at least 3,000 Corinthian borrowers that their loans are entering repayment, rather than stopped collection or forbearance status.”

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Kim threatened to “impose additional sanctions, including the appointment of a Special Master to ensure compliance with the preliminary injunction” if DeVos and the Education Department  “fail to comply” with the order.

Westlake Legal Group Betsy-DeVos Betsy DeVos held in contempt by federal judge for violating order on student loan collection Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/politics fox-news/health/education fox news fnc/politics fnc article 4b228efc-e31b-5634-8918-19fe03cc331c   Westlake Legal Group Betsy-DeVos Betsy DeVos held in contempt by federal judge for violating order on student loan collection Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/politics fox-news/health/education fox news fnc/politics fnc article 4b228efc-e31b-5634-8918-19fe03cc331c

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What A Joke! Now Trump Insists He ‘Kiddingly’ Referred To A Colorado Border Wall

Westlake Legal Group 5db24dbc2100006b2ead3d67 What A Joke! Now Trump Insists He ‘Kiddingly’ Referred To A Colorado Border Wall

President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that he was “kiddingly” referring to a border wall in Colorado during a speech at an energy conference in Pittsburgh

Twitter critics aren’t swallowing that one.

Trump clearly joked about Kansas not needing a border wall when he spoke Wednesday. But he appeared dead serious when he touted his very successful border wall in Colorado (and the crowd applauded). As nearly every American knows, Colorado doesn’t border Mexico (though it does border New Mexico).

“We’re building a wall in Colorado,” Trump declared. “We’re building a beautiful wall — a big one that really works, that you can’t get over, you can’t get under.”

When Twitter exploded with tweets mocking Trump’s blooper, he came up with a mangled presidential message about “kiddingly” referring to the Colorado wall.

That sent Twitter wits off on a new round of attacks.

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Opinion: Astros still don’t get it, and must pay a steeper price beyond firing assistant

Knowing what we now know about the boys-will-be-boys philosophy of the Houston Astros, we probably should be relieved that they finally stumbled upon the decision to fire assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for his expletive-laced tirade supporting an alleged domestic abuser directed at three journalists, all of them women, in the Astros locker room Saturday night after the American League Championship Series.

That the Astros were at least three days late in firing Taubman, and that they still botched Thursday’s announcement, should surprise no one. This is a team that has been a continuing embarrassment to a sport and a league desperately in need of attracting a newer, younger, less-male audience. This is a team that has sullied the biggest week on the baseball calendar trying to cover up a self-induced public relations fiasco. This is a team that has shown an utter disregard for honesty, for fairness, for doing the right thing.

Westlake Legal Group  Opinion: Astros still don't get it, and must pay a steeper price beyond firing assistant

If the powers that be in MLB don’t throw the book at the Astros, far beyond the firing of Taubman, it will perpetuate this storyline, showing millions of women, men and their families that baseball really doesn’t care all that much about them.  

The Astros’ inability to understand and deal with the world around them was still on full display with their self-congratulatory statement Thursday announcing they had “pro-actively assisted Major League Baseball in interviewing Astros employees as part of MLB’s investigation of the events published in the recent Sports Illustrated article.”

“Pro-actively” assisting with the interview process is something to crow about only when you’ve spent days stone-walling, attacking and lying to protect an employee who deserved to be fired. Otherwise, “pro-actively” assisting an MLB investigation should pretty much be standard operating procedure for an actual MLB team.

The Astros’ statement went on to say that their “initial investigation” led them to believe that Taubman’s “inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter.”

OPINION:Astros’ non-apology another sign of their unchecked arrogance

An hour or so after that statement came out, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow actually contradicted it in front of reporters at Nationals Park, saying there was no investigation by the organization.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider just how inept the leadership of the Astros must be to take all that time to try to get it right, and still get it wrong. The whole bumbling Astros organization must be stuck in the seventh inning of World Series Game 2, unable to escape.

But since the statement did talk of an “initial investigation,” if it had happened, this is how it would have gone:

Astros: Brandon, did you scream, “Thank God we got (Roberto) Osuna! I’m so (bleeping) glad we got Osuna!” over and over at three reporters?

Taubman: No.

Astros: Okay, great, we’re done with our investigation. Now we’ll attack the Sports Illustrated reporter who broke the news.

In their Thursday statement, the Astros did say that they were wrong about this, and “sincerely” apologized to SI’s Stephanie Apstein, who exhibited the professionalism, grace and class to try to get a comment from the Astros Monday before writing even one word about this troubling incident, only to be trashed by the Astros PR people, who really should be joining Taubman in finding a new line of work.

Let’s go back to that Monday statement. The Astros called Apstein’s story “misleading and completely irresponsible,” then proceeded to make up a story to cover for Taubman. “We are extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”

Lies, all lies. Anyone who wrote this, read this or approved this should not be allowed to work another day for the Astros. Lo and behold, one of those people was Luhnow, who admitted Thursday, “I saw it before it went out.”

This is a big deal. What say you, Astros ownership and MLB? Are you really serious about this issue? If so, how does Luhnow escape punishment?

Also in their new statement, the Astros said they “in no way intended to minimize the issues related to domestic violence.”

Of course they did. This is another flat-out lie. Minimizing domestic violence is exactly what the Astros did when they signed Osuna, who was suspended for 75 games under MLB’s domestic violence policy in 2018 for allegedly assaulting the mother of his then-3-year-old child. 

It’s what they are doing during the Series by having Osuna still on their roster as their closer. Someone should tell the Astros they actually have the ability to get rid of Osuna right now if they wanted to show how much they are not minimizing domestic violence.

While the Astros have shown themselves to be entirely out of their league in 21st century America, they were exposed this week by dozens of journalists, women and men, who called out their lies on Twitter. The social media onslaught, so heartening on behalf of women in sports media, must have shocked them. 

The Astros thought they were living in a different world, a world where lying and covering up and supporting alleged domestic abusers is still accepted. They were wrong. 

Westlake Legal Group  Opinion: Astros still don't get it, and must pay a steeper price beyond firing assistant

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

Wildfires Ravage California From Los Angeles To Wine Country

Tens of thousands of Californians were forced to evacuate their homes on Thursday as a spate of fast-moving and potentially catastrophic wildfires broke out across the state, from Sonoma’s wine country to the hills around Los Angeles.

Weather officials were warning that dire conditions, spurred by high temperatures and strong winds, would continue throughout the night and into Friday as firefighters raced to halt the blazes.

Pacific Gas & Electric, the region’s utility provider, has turned off power to hundreds of thousands of residents for the second time this month in response to the dry, hot weather conditions. Time and again, state officials have found that the company’s poorly maintained power lines and transformers have been the source of deadly blazes, resulting in numerous investigations, lawsuits and demands from state leaders to better abide by regulations when it comes to maintaining utility equipment. 

Meanwhile, utility provider Southern California Edison has turned off power to around 27,000 customers and is considering doing the same for nearly 400,000 others as hot, dry weather conditions persist. 

Here are some of the most troubling fires around the state: 

Westlake Legal Group 5db247b52100007d2ead3d61 Wildfires Ravage California From Los Angeles To Wine Country

AP Photo/Noah Berger The Kincade fire burns through the Jimtown community of unincorporated Sonoma County on Oct. 24, 2019. 

Kincade Fire 

The Kincade fire near Geyserville has spread across more than 10,000 acres and remains 0% contained. The blaze that started early Thursday morning has so far damaged at least two structures and forced fire officials to issue evacuation orders to around 2,000 people in the surrounding area. 

“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 Sheriff Mark Essick said on Thursday, referencing the 2017 fire that was, at the time, the biggest to ever hit the state. 

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

Muir Fire 

Just south of Sonoma’s blaze, the Muir fire in Marin County has burned 58 acres along the coast. Though this fire is relatively small and in a sparsely populated area, fire officials warned that stronger winds and drier conditions approaching this weekend could exacerbate the situation.

“I urge residents and visitors to use caution,” Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber said.

Currently, about 150 personnel are battling the blaze. 

Tick Fire

Fire officials ordered mandatory evacuations after the Tick fire, a blaze in Santa Clarita, quickly charred some 3,700 acres in a matter of hours. Authorities said later that evening at least 40,000 people had been ordered to evacuate in the region.

The fire had already burned multiple structures and was threatening neighborhoods in the city just north of Los Angeles, spurred by high temperatures and strong winds that officials warned would only get worse as the day went on. 

“We’re doing everything possible to reduce the spread,” Sean Rios, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told the Los Angeles Times. “The wind is a major factor. All ground and aerial resources are being utilized to the best of their capabilities, but we’re going to be here for a while.”

The National Weather Service warned that wind gusts could reach 60 mph on Thursday, and weather conditions were expected to continue overnight and into Friday. The conditions also caused the Tick fire to spew a large plume of smoke into the sky.

Sepulveda Fire 

A small fire broke out in the Sepulveda Basin of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, burning about two acres and sending smoke into nearby neighborhoods. Weather officials said the blaze was being spurred by strong winds reaching about 25 mph, but noted they were not as strong as those fanning the Tick fire.

The Sepulveda fire wasn’t immediately threatening homes, but the Los Angeles Fire Department urged residents to gather emergency supplies and monitor local news in case the blaze grew.

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