web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 113)

Nissan Names a C.E.O., Makoto Uchida, to Lead Post-Ghosn Era

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162364665_403e2c58-b135-41f7-80fb-17f18c6b839b-facebookJumbo Nissan Names a C.E.O., Makoto Uchida, to Lead Post-Ghosn Era Uchida, Makoto Nissan Motor Co Japan Appointments and Executive Changes

TOKYO — In a surprise announcement, Nissan said Tuesday that it had selected a new chief executive to lead the embattled Japanese automaker, following the resignation of its former chief last month over a pay scandal.

Makoto Uchida, 53, will head the company beginning no later than Jan. 1, Nissan officials announced at a news conference at its headquarters in Yokohama. Mr. Uchida has worked at the company since 2003 and led its China operations since 2018. China is considered a key market for the struggling company.

Mr. Uchida takes the reins of the company as it faces its biggest challenges in nearly two decades. Almost one year since the ouster of its former leader, Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s profits have plunged. Its sales have dropped. And its leadership has crumbled following the resignation last month of its chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, over pay issues. The chaos has led to an exodus of top employees, and the company is in the process of cutting 12,500 jobs worldwide.

“We expect Mr. Uchida to lead the company as a team, immediately focus on the recovery of the business and revitalize the company to make a new Nissan,” Nissan’s chairman, Yasushi Kimura, told reporters.

“It is very important to demonstrate that this is a new Nissan,” Mr. Kimura said.

The selection of Mr. Uchida was unanimous, officials said.

Nissan has repeatedly clashed with its alliance partner, French automaker Renault, over management issues. The relationship deteriorated dramatically following the exit of Mr. Ghosn, who had worked to merge the companies, an effort that rankled some at Nissan who felt the company should remain independent.

Mr. Uchida was selected due to his experience abroad, as well as his dedication to the importance of the company’s alliance with its partners Renault and Mitsubishi, the head of the board’s nomination committee, Masakazu Toyoda, told reporters.

The company also announced the appointment of another two senior executives, in an effort to show it was making a clean break from the management issues that have plagued it since the exit of Mr. Ghosn.

Ashwani Gupta, the current chief operating officer at Mitsubishi and a former executive at Renault, was named Nissan’s chief operating officer. Jun Seki, a senior vice president at Nissan, will become vice chief operating officer.

“We selected the people who can show that this is a new Nissan in a strong way,” Mr. Kimura said.

The unexpected announcement came during a news conference following a meeting of the company’s full board in Yokohama. Nissan officials had previously announced that they would select a new chief executive by the end of October.

“I thought the sooner the better,” Mr. Kimura said in response to questions about the accelerated schedule.

Mr. Kimura declined to answer questions about tensions at the company, and particularly the future of Hari Nada, a powerful senior Nissan executive who has become the subject of controversy over possible conflicts of interest regarding the investigation of Mr. Ghosn.

Mr. Nada played a key role in the ouster of Mr. Ghosn and has struck a cooperation agreement with Japanese prosecutors to receive immunity in return for providing evidence against his ex-boss. Mr. Ghosn has been charged with four charges of financial wrongdoing, and awaits trial in Tokyo on bail. He says he is innocent of all charges.

Mr. Nada’s continued role at the company has been a point of concern for some directors and executives, who believe that he has been an obstacle to attempts to reform the company’s governance as it seeks to move past an era of top-down leadership, much criticized since Mr. Ghosn’s arrest in November.

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

Trump campaign threatens to sue Target Center in Minneapolis because they have asked to be paid in advance of his Thursday rally event.

Westlake Legal Group ScnP4AN9fogA3zz26HE2Ju3-w61cWpUrPwBQrT8iLCM Trump campaign threatens to sue Target Center in Minneapolis because they have asked to be paid in advance of his Thursday rally event. r/politics

As a reminder, this subreddit is for civil discussion.

In general, be courteous to others. Debate/discuss/argue the merits of ideas, don’t attack people. Personal insults, shill or troll accusations, hate speech, any advocating or wishing death/physical harm, and other rule violations can result in a permanent ban.

If you see comments in violation of our rules, please report them.


I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.

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

VDFP Receives $286K from Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

Westlake Legal Group 18556751_G VDFP Receives $286K from Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

RICHMOND – October 8, 2019 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) has been awarded $286,000 in federal grant funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. The funding will be used to replace obsolete equipment for the state’s Heavy Technical Rescue training programs, tow vehicles, and thermal imaging cameras and equipment to monitor dangerous conditions during live fire training exercises.

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

Mysterious ‘cosmic web’ that sticks the universe together pictured for first time

The cosmic web responsible for ‘gluing’ the far-flung galaxies of the universe together has been directly observed for the first time ever.

Scientists using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope were able to spot an ancient cluster of galaxies 12 billion light-years away that are linked together by a network of gas filaments.

The cosmic web theory is central to current explanations of how the universe formed after the Big Bang.

CLICK ON THE SUN FOR MORE

However, until this observation, there had only been indirect evidence to suggest it existed.

Prof Michele Fumagalli, an astrophysicist at Durham University and co-author of the work, said: “It is very exciting to clearly see for the first time multiple and extended filaments in the early universe.

“We finally have a way to map these structures directly and to understand in detail their role in regulating the formation of supermassive black holes and galaxies.”

The research team were able to directly detect the web by using intensive equipment designed to pick up the faintest of structures.

Galaxy clusters are known for being the most tightly gravitationally-bound structures in the universe.

They can contain hundreds of thousands of galaxies.

It has been predicted that 60% of the hydrogen created during the Big Bang can be seen as long filaments strung out across space in the cosmic web.

By mapping out some of the light emitted by hydrogen within a galaxy cluster called SSA22, the team were able to identify individual filaments of gas that make up a web-like structure between galaxies.

Erika Hamden, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona said: “These observations of the faintest, largest structures in the universe are a key to understanding how our universe evolved through time, how galaxies grow and mature, and how the changing environments around galaxies created what we see around us.”

It is thought that the cosmic web is the scaffolding of the cosmos and provides the framework for galaxies to form and evolve.

The latest observations support this theory by revealing supermassive black holes, starbursting galaxies and lots of active stars all at the intersections between the filaments.

First author of the research Hideki Umehata said: “This suggests very strongly that gas falling along the filaments under the force of gravity triggers the formation of starbursting galaxies and supermassive black holes, giving the universe the structure that we see today.”

The cosmic web has been observed before but only as short blobs of gas beyond galaxies.

Umehata noted: “Now we have been able to clearly show that these filaments are extremely long, going even beyond the edge of the field that we viewed.

“This adds credence to the idea that these filaments are actually powering the intense activity that we see within the galaxies inside the filaments.”

The findings have been published in the journal Science.

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

Westlake Legal Group nasa-green-blob Mysterious ‘cosmic web’ that sticks the universe together pictured for first time The Sun fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc f024fb77-62fa-5630-ae9a-ff2549fe0d50 Digital Technology and Science Reporter Charlotte Edwards article   Westlake Legal Group nasa-green-blob Mysterious ‘cosmic web’ that sticks the universe together pictured for first time The Sun fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc f024fb77-62fa-5630-ae9a-ff2549fe0d50 Digital Technology and Science Reporter Charlotte Edwards article

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

VDFP Receives $286K from Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

Westlake Legal Group 18556751_G VDFP Receives $286K from Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

RICHMOND – October 8, 2019 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) has been awarded $286,000 in federal grant funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. The funding will be used to replace obsolete equipment for the state’s Heavy Technical Rescue training programs, tow vehicles, and thermal imaging cameras and equipment to monitor dangerous conditions during live fire training exercises.

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

For Companies in China, Political Hazards Are Getting Harder to See

BEIJING — For international companies looking to do business in China, the rules were once simple. Don’t talk about the 3 T’s: Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

No longer. Fast-changing geopolitical tensions, growing nationalism and the rise of social media in China have made it increasingly difficult for multinationals to navigate commerce in the Communist country. As the National Basketball Association has discovered with a tweet about the Hong Kong protests, tripwires abound. Take the “wrong” stance on one of any number of issues — Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, for instance — and you risk upsetting a country of 1.4 billion consumers and losing access to a hugely profitable market.

Now, multinational companies are increasingly struggling with one question: how to be apolitical in an increasingly politicized and punitive China.

“You used to know what would get everyone fired up,” said James McGregor, chairman of the greater China region for the consulting firm APCO Worldwide. “And now you don’t know. You just wake up and discover something new.”

Until recently, the issues that made China angry were fairly predictable. Earlier this year, the German company Leica Camera created a stir with a promotional video featuring the “Tank Man,” the unknown person who boldly confronted a convoy of tanks during the bloody 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement. (Leica says it did not commission the film.)

Around the same time, eagle-eyed Chinese internet users began calling out companies for not clearly indicating on websites, customer surveys and products that certain territories claimed by China, like Tibet and the self-governing island of Taiwan, were part of the country. Gap, Marriott, United Airlines and others were forced to make internal adjustments and, in some cases, apologize.

This summer, when antigovernment protests in Hong Kong began to heat up, such sensitivities reached new heights. And China lashed out more aggressively, in part because it was playing defense against growing global support for the demonstrators.

The N.B.A. has been in damage-control mode over the issue for days. On Friday, Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, posted a message on Twitter that said: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” Not long after, Mr. Morey’s tweet was deleted and the league quickly apologized.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 08china-biz2-articleLarge For Companies in China, Political Hazards Are Getting Harder to See Social Media Politics and Government National Basketball Assn Morey, Daryl Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China basketball

Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, expressed support for the protesters in Hong Kong with a post on Twitter.CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times

But anger still simmered. Social media platforms like WeChat and Sina Weibo were flooded with messages declaring a boycott against the N.B.A., which has a huge fan base in China. On Tuesday afternoon, CCTV, the state broadcaster, canceled plans to broadcast preseason N.B.A. games. Previously, Tencent Sports, a popular sports broadcaster, had announced that it would stop all live streaming and coverage of the Houston Rockets.

“The N.B.A. has been in cooperation with China for many years,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular news briefing on Tuesday. “It knows clearly in its heart what to say and what to do.”

The league has also been getting flak in the United States for appearing to kowtow to China, prompting a longer, more reflective statement on Tuesday. While the N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver, continued to express the league’s “affinity” for China, he also said that it couldn’t regulate its employees’ speech.

For businesses, China’s national ire has tended to focus on a single issue, despite the changing targets: the country’s sovereignty.

Earlier this summer, Givenchy, Coach and Versace each apologized to China for producing T-shirts that seemed to identify Hong Kong, along with other places claimed by Beijing, as an independent country. They all stopped selling the clothes.

Navigating the potential for backlash in China’s commercial landscape now involves managing not just products, but employees and anyone else affiliated with a company.

As the pro-democracy movement took hold in Hong Kong this summer, Cathay Pacific Airways, the city’s flagship airline, came under immense pressure from Beijing to discipline employees who were sympathetic to the protesters. In a matter of days, Cathay’s chief executive was replaced and several employees, including a pilot, were fired.

On Tuesday, the American video game company Blizzard suspended a Hong Kong player and rescinded his prize money after he donned goggles and a respirator — items that have come to symbolize the protests — and called for the liberation of the city in a post-match interview. Blizzard is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, which is partially owned by the Chinese company Tencent.

In a statement on Tuesday, Blizzard said the player had violated a competition rule barring any act that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.”

“While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our e-sports competitions must abide by the official competition rules,” the company said.

The political land mines aren’t always easy to see.

The upscale jeweler Tiffany found itself at the center of a social media firestorm on Monday after posting an image of a model covering her eye with her right hand. To many Chinese internet users, the gesture evoked another symbol of the Hong Kong protests: a woman shot in the eye with a police beanbag round during a demonstration, whose image later appeared in countless posters and memes.

The photo posted by Tiffany had been taken in May, before the protests started. But it was a no-win situation for the company, which had already warned investors that it would be hurt by the drop in tourism amid the protests in Hong Kong, its fourth-largest market by sales. Mainland China is a much larger market, and the company has been rapidly expanding its presence there.

The photo “was in no way intended to be a political statement of any kind,” a spokesman for Tiffany said in an emailed statement, after the offending tweet was deleted. “We regret that it may be perceived as such, and in turn have removed the image from our digital and social media channels and will discontinue its use effective immediately.”

The backlash can go both ways.

In an effort not to run afoul of the mainland, Vans recently removed several entries from its annual sneaker design contest that alluded to the protests in Hong Kong. After that, several streetwear stores in Hong Kong pulled all Vans products from their shelves.

“Creativity is one of the keys to solving our social problems,” said Second Kill, a streetwear store in the Mong Kok district, in an Instagram post announcing its decision to stop selling Vans products. “Neither creativity nor public opinion can be erased.”

The N.B.A. on Tuesday appeared to temper its earlier apology over Mr. Morey’s tweet, seemingly to respond to criticism in both China and the United States.

For those “who question our motivation, this is about more than growing our business,” Mr. Silver, the league’s commissioner, said in a statement. He said basketball could be “an important form of people-to-people exchange that deepens ties” but noted that the two countries had different political systems.

“It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the N.B.A. to adjudicate those issues,” Mr. Silver said in the statement.

“However,” he added, “the N.B.A. will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on those issues.”

Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting from Beijing. Claire Fu and Zoe Mou contributed research from Beijing.

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

NASA: Ancient Mars oasis could have supported life

NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered evidence of an oasis on Mars more than 3 billion years ago, leaving scientists to wonder whether the Red Planet was capable of supporting life.

The research, published in Nature Geoscience, looks at data Curiosity has collected from the Gale Crater, the 150-mile-wide basin the rover is exploring. The scientists behind the study pointed out the rocks that are enriched with mineral salts as evidence of “shallow briny ponds that went through episodes of overflow and drying,” according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars,” said the study’s lead author, William Rapin, in the statement. “Understanding when and how the planet’s climate started evolving is a piece of another puzzle: When and how long was Mars capable of supporting microbial life at the surface?”

Westlake Legal Group Mars-oasis-1 NASA: Ancient Mars oasis could have supported life fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/mars fox news fnc/science fnc d6c96b82-76b7-5cfd-951a-9b6a282eb7c7 Chris Ciaccia article

The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called “Old Soaker” may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA CHIEF SCIENTIST SAYS ‘WE’RE CLOSE’ TO MAKING ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT LIFE ON MARS

The Gale Crater, which is believed to be between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years old, serves as a reminder of the difference between Mars’ climate then, which was wet, to the desolate, arid climate it has today.

Mars once had a very wet surface, covered in wide, raging rivers. Water may be the lifeblood of our planet, but it’s unclear whether Mars ever supported (or still supports) life.

Rapin and his team analyzed the salts they found in a 500-foot-tall section of sedimentary rocks known as “Sutton Island,” visited by Curiosity in 2017.

He speculated that Sutton Island could have looked like the saline lakes that are seen on South America’s Altiplano, believed to be influenced by the climate in the same way Gale was. “During drier periods, the Altiplano lakes become shallower, and some can dry out completely,” Rapin added. “The fact that they’re vegetation-free even makes them look a little like Mars.”

The next steps for researchers will be to understand how long it took for Gale Crater to go from a shallow, briny lake to the arid, desolate region it is now.

“Finding inclined layers represents a major change, where the landscape isn’t completely underwater anymore,” said team member, Chris Fedo, in the statement. “We may have left the era of deep lakes behind.”

Westlake Legal Group Mars-oasis-2 NASA: Ancient Mars oasis could have supported life fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/mars fox news fnc/science fnc d6c96b82-76b7-5cfd-951a-9b6a282eb7c7 Chris Ciaccia article

This animation demonstrates the salty ponds and streams that scientists think may have been left behind as Gale Crater dried out over time. The bottom of the image is the floor of Gale Crater, with the peak being the side of Mount Sharp. (Credit: ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development (KED), Michael Northrop)

“We can’t say whether we’re seeing wind or river deposits yet in the clay-bearing unit, but we’re comfortable saying is it’s definitely not the same thing as what came before or what lies ahead,” he added.

MARTIAN METEOR COLLISION MAY HAVE TRIGGERED A 1,000 FOOT TSUNAMI

The Curiosity rover, which celebrated its seventh anniversary on the Red Planet in August, has made several remarkable discoveries, including finding “unusually high” levels of methane and a “shiny” object believed to be a meteorite.

NASA hopes the Curiosity rover, which “has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations,” can provide additional clues about the planet prior to the launch of the Mars 2020 rover mission.

In November, NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet. The rover is expected to reach the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. NASA’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Westlake Legal Group Mars-oasis-1 NASA: Ancient Mars oasis could have supported life fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/mars fox news fnc/science fnc d6c96b82-76b7-5cfd-951a-9b6a282eb7c7 Chris Ciaccia article   Westlake Legal Group Mars-oasis-1 NASA: Ancient Mars oasis could have supported life fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/mars fox news fnc/science fnc d6c96b82-76b7-5cfd-951a-9b6a282eb7c7 Chris Ciaccia article

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

Newark Airport passenger tried to bring large sword on plane

You can’t board with a sword, sir.

A Brazil-bound traveler passing through a New Jersey airport was recently scolded by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials for trying fly with a large sword as a carry-on item.

EASYJET PASSENGERS KICKED OFF FLIGHT AFTER THROWING PUNCHES IN CABIN, GETTING PLANE DIVERTED: ‘IT WAS BEDLAM’

On Friday, an unidentified man heading to São Paulo brought the weapon in a box to a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport’s C Terminal, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group samurai-sword-TSA Newark Airport passenger tried to bring large sword on plane Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/airports fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc c419379f-6ccc-5e4c-9bb5-4d8d7402e9b7 article

On Friday, an unnamed man heading to São Paulo brought the weapon in a box to a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport’s C Terminal, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told Fox News. (Transportation Security Administration)

“He said he thought he could travel with it as a carry-on item because of its value. Of course, no weapons can travel in the cabin of a plane regardless of value,” Farbstein said.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS

“Doesn’t matter to TSA how much the weapon is worth. No weapons should be brought in the cabin of a plane,” she later added on Twitter.

Complying, the passenger checked the blade with his airline for safe transportation. The sword traveled to South America in the belly of the aircraft, in accordance with safety regulations.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

According to the TSA’s official policy on the weapon, swords are forbidden in carry-on bags, but are allowed to be transported in checked bags.

To ensure safe shipping through the entire journey, “any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors,” the TSA notes.

Westlake Legal Group Newark-airport Newark Airport passenger tried to bring large sword on plane Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/airports fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc c419379f-6ccc-5e4c-9bb5-4d8d7402e9b7 article

Other notably kooky items that security screeners have flagged at Newark airport this year include a golden grenade and a pet snake. (iStock)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Other notably kooky items that security screeners have flagged at Newark airport this year include a golden grenade and a pet snake.

Westlake Legal Group samurai-sword-TSA Newark Airport passenger tried to bring large sword on plane Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/airports fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc c419379f-6ccc-5e4c-9bb5-4d8d7402e9b7 article   Westlake Legal Group samurai-sword-TSA Newark Airport passenger tried to bring large sword on plane Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/airports fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc c419379f-6ccc-5e4c-9bb5-4d8d7402e9b7 article

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

Trump bars Gordon Sondland, key player in Ukraine controversy, from testifying in impeachment investigation

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Trump bars Gordon Sondland, key player in Ukraine controversy, from testifying in impeachment investigation

Impeaching a U.S. president might not be the be-all-end-all for their career. We explain why this is the case. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Tuesday blocked a U.S. ambassador involved in orchestrating pressure on Ukraine from being deposed by House Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry. 

Gordon Sondland, President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, was scheduled to appear before a trio of committees Tuesday morning to answer questions about his role in pushing Ukraine’s president to open investigations aimed at former Vice President Joe Biden.

But the State Department directed him not to cooperate with the probe, according to Sondland’s attorney, Robert Luskin.

“Early this morning, the U.S. Department of State directed Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to appear today for his scheduled transcribed interview before the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Committee,” Luskin said.

Luskin said Sondland had agreed “to appear voluntarily … in order to answer the committee’s questions on an expedited basis.” But as a sitting sitting U.S. ambassador, he is required to follow the State Department’s directive, Luskin said. 

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was scheduled to speak with reporters Tuesday morning about the surprise development. 

The State Department’s decision to block Sondland from speaking to House investigators dramatically escalates the showdown between Congress and the White House over Democrats’ demands for information on Trump dealings with Ukraine. 

Last week, House Democrats issued a subpoena to the White House for documents relating to the Ukraine matte, after Trump aides said the president would not cooperate with the ongoing impeachment inquiry until the full House votes to authorize it.

A wealthy former hotel magnate from Oregon, Sondland was tapped for the EU ambassador position after donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.

In recent days, Sondland has emerged as a central player in the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Biden and probe a conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s alleged role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Text messages released last week show that he and Kurt Volker, Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine, orchestrated a months-long effort to push Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to make a public promise that he would order probes into both of those matters. 

“Heard from the White House,” Volker wrote in a text to a top Zelensky adviser on July 25, just before Trump and Zelensky were scheduled to speak by phone in a call that helped spark the impeachment inquiry. 

“Assuming President Z (Zelensky) convinces trump he will investigate/”get to the bottom of what happened” in 2016, we will nail down a date for visit to Washington. Good luck!,” Volker told his Ukrainian counterpart. 

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

After the Trump-Zelensky call, an unnamed whistleblower filed a complaint accusing Trump of using the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. Biden is a leading 2020 candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Even before the whistleblower complaint, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, raised concerns about the apparent link between Trump’s demands for a politically motivated investigation and granting Zelensky a meeting at the White House. Taylor also pressed Volker and Sondland on whether Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid until Zelensky delivered on his demands.

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

“Call me,” Sondland texted back.

Taylor responded: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” 

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

Democrats have said the texts prove a quid-pro-quo – Trump wanted investigations into Biden and the 2016 election before he would meet with Zelensky. Trump’s supporters say there was no such condition and the call was perfectly appropriate. 

Contributing: Christal Hayes and David Jackson

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/08/trump-blocks-sondland-player-ukraine-controversy-testifying/3906183002/

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

‘What makes your child entitled?’ Judge takes on privilege as she sentences parents in college scam

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'What makes your child entitled?' Judge takes on privilege as she sentences parents in college scam

The college admissions scam involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman shows how some rich families use a “side door” to game an already unfair education system. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

BOSTON — As U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani prepared to sentence a Los Angeles business executive in the nation’s college admissions scandal last month, she first had something to say about the motives of parents like him. 

The father and businessman, Devin Sloane, told the judge he “wanted what was best for my son.” That’s why he paid $250,000 to Rick Singer, the mastermind of a nationwide admissions scheme, to get him into the University of Southern California posing as a water polo recruit.

But was Sloane really trying to help his child, the judge asked, or to make himself look good?

“I find that’s at issue in all of these cases,” Talwani said from the dais in the packed courtroom. “It’s not basic care-taking for your child. It’s not getting your child food or clothing. It’s not even getting your child an education. It’s getting your child into a college that you call ‘exclusive.’

“Are they doing this for their children or their own status?”

Talwani, a 59-year-old President Barack Obama appointee to the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, has handed down each of the five sentences so far to parents charged in the “Varsity Blues” scandal. Each has gotten some amount of prison time. Sloane, founder and CEO of waterTALENT, received four months.

Six more parents who’ve pleaded guilty are set to be sentenced by Talwani this month, beginning today with the first couple, Gregory and Marcia Abbott. The Abbotts, who reside in New York and Aspen, Colorado, paid a total of $125,000 to have their daughter’s college entrance exams answers fixed to get her into Duke University, her mother’s alma mater.

The judge isn’t just doling out prison terms. In holding parents accountable, Talwani has embraced the admission scam’s societal significance, openly addressing the public outage that surrounds it and offering a blunt critique of the wealthy elite who used cash to cheat an admissions system some say already is stacked to their advantage.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said the case and Talwani’s remarks “reflect what people are thinking in the broader society” — and their concerns.

“People are thinking about it,” he said. “It’s raising lots of questions for people.” 

Related: LA exec gets 4 months in prison for paying $400K to get son into Georgetown as a fake tennis recruit

When parents, such as Stephen Semprevivo, said they paid into Singer’s scheme out of fear during the college admissions process, Talwani pushed back. The former Cydcor executive paid $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit. 

“Think about how terrifying that process is for the applicant whose parents didn’t go to college,” Talwani said at his sentencing hearing. She singled out inner-city and rural children who lacked resources but made it to college anyway. “Their legitimacy is challenged every day that somehow they were the ones who got a break to get there.”

Semprevivo’s attorney argued his client was a victim of Singer’s manipulation, but the judge returned the discussion to the father’s privilege. 

“I don’t criticize you for being taken into a crime by someone with skills of masterful deception. That’s how crimes happen all the time,” Talwani said. “I think the question that people need to ask is, what makes your children entitled to a side-door (into college)?”

The judge sentenced Semprevivo to four months in prison.

Each of the parents to go before Talwani pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in a deal with prosecutors. They admitted to taking part in one of two schemes with Singer — either paying to have someone cheat on the SAT or ACT for their children or to tag them as athletic recruits to slide them into a university. Singer called the latter scenario entry through the “side-door.” 

Talwani has given harsher sentences to parents who took part in the admissions plot, noting that it took a college seat away from a deserving student.

“As I consider the culpability of those two different schemes — they’re both broad, they’re both illegal, they both violate the same statute — but there is something that is an order of magnitude different about buying an actual spot at a university,” Talwani said during Semprevivo’s hearing.

Talwani set her tone at the Sept. 13 sentencing of actress Felicity Huffman, the first and one of the highest profile of the parents to be sentenced. Prosecutors argued colleges were victims in the scandal, but Talwani said the outrage was not about harm inflicted on colleges but about an admissions system “already so distorted.”

Huffman told the judge her decision to pay Singer $15,000 to correct her daughter’s SAT answers was rooted in concern as a mother for a child with learning disabilities. 

The judge rebuked her: “Trying to be a good mother doesn’t excuse us.”  

In sentencing Huffman to 14 days in prison Talwani added, “I don’t think anyone wants to go to prison. I think without this sentence you would be looking at a future with a community around you asking how you got away with this.”

College scam: NY attorney sentenced to 1 month in prison for paying $75K to have daughter’s ACT answers fixed

In all, 52 defendants are charged in the college admissions scandal including 35 parents. Twenty-four overall defendants, including 15 parents, have pleaded guilty while the remaining, including actress Lori Loughlin, prepare for trial.

Incarceration, the judge has said, is a way to deter others from committing similar crimes.

“In a sense, what the government has exposed is the tip of the iceberg,” Talwani said before sentencing New York attorney Gordon Caplan to a month in prison for paying $75,000 to have his daughter’s ACT answers corrected..

More college admissions scheme: Napa Valley vineyard owner gets 5 months in prison

Daniel Medwed, professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University School of Law, said Talwani, with her statements, could be “sending a broader message to the community about privilege and how people shouldn’t capitalize on their privilege in ways that are illegal and immoral.”

“Maybe she feels a moral obligation. Maybe she feels sort of a practical obligation as a lawyer to justify her sentences,” he said. “There’s probably multiple motives. It’s helpful to be transparent. It’s helpful that all of us are getting an understanding at what’s driving her sentencing.”

Reach Joey Garrison and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/10/08/college-admissions-scandal-judge-takes-privilege-her-sentences/3897432002/

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