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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 168)

‘Shocking’: Trump Is Criticized For Pulling Troops From Syrian Border

Westlake Legal Group 5810032_wide-498f8b0b00eddc80bf100d01d8901b12426bd4fe-s1100-c15 'Shocking': Trump Is Criticized For Pulling Troops From Syrian Border

U.S. allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces say the White House’s decision to pull troops from the Turkish-Syrian border has left them without hope. Here, a U.S. soldier is seen during a joint patrol with Turkish troops on Friday. Staff Sgt. Andrew Goedl/U.S. Army / Operation Inherent Resolve hide caption

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Staff Sgt. Andrew Goedl/U.S. Army / Operation Inherent Resolve

Westlake Legal Group  'Shocking': Trump Is Criticized For Pulling Troops From Syrian Border

U.S. allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces say the White House’s decision to pull troops from the Turkish-Syrian border has left them without hope. Here, a U.S. soldier is seen during a joint patrol with Turkish troops on Friday.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Goedl/U.S. Army / Operation Inherent Resolve

U.S. Kurdish allies say President Trump’s decision to pull troops from the Syrian-Turkish border is “shocking” and deflating — and they warn that the U.S. is duplicating a mistake it made in Iraq, where it has ceded partial control to Iran.

Within hours of the announcement from the White House late Sunday, local Kurdish forces on the ground confirmed to NPR that U.S. soldiers began leaving bases in Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn, near the Turkish border.

The Syrian Democratic Forces — the blanket group that emerged four years ago, led by the Kurdish YPG as a trusted U.S. ally — reacted with deep dismay, saying it had hoped the U.S. “would fulfill its obligations to mediate a political solution from all sides to stop war.”

Instead of brokering that deal, the group says, the U.S. is abruptly withdrawing. And it warns that the move will cause a new ethnic war to break out.

“There are ethnic minorities here like Armenians, Assyrians, Christians, Yazidi Kurds,” the SDF says, adding, “they are all in threat of being ethnically cleansed and this in turn will not lead to any political solutions.”

In a separate statement, the Syrian Democratic Forces’ general command said the group “will not hesitate for a moment to defend ourselves … to defend our country against this Turkish aggression.”

The sudden U.S. turnabout was announced late Sunday, after a phone call between President Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As criticism rolled in Monday morning, Trump defended his decision in a series of tweets, saying the U.S. had achieved its goal of defeating ISIS.

“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago,” Trump said. “We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area.”

As his decision was criticized on Monday, Trump said in a tweet, “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

The president’s decision to withdraw and give Turkey leeway to operate along the Syrian border is being sharply criticized by Sen. Angus King, I-Me., who calls it “morally reprehensible and strategically dumb.”

By abandoning a force that fought alongside U.S. troops, King says in an interview on NPR’s Here and Now, Trump is setting a dangerous precedent that could prevent potential allies from siding with the U.S. in the future.

King also says he believes Trump based his decision on a conversation with Erdogan, rather than consulting with the Pentagon, the State Department or other experts on the region.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a frequent Trump ally, also criticized the president, saying on Monday, “No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision, it is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.”

After saying the move would guarantee the reemergence of ISIS, Graham adds, “Unlike President Obama, I hope President Trump will reassess and take sound military advice.”

On the subject of Turkey, Graham says he and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., “will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”

Relief groups are also worried. Any new military action in Syria could pose a new threat to 2 million civilians in Northeast Syria, says Misty Buswell, the International Rescue Committee’s policy, advocacy and communications director for the Middle East.

“A military offensive could immediately displace at least 300,000 people and disrupt life-saving humanitarian services including the IRC’s,” Buswell said. “The IRC urges major powers to consider the humanitarian consequences of planning decisions and avoid any further unnecessary suffering of a beleaguered civilian population.”

The Pentagon issued a statement around midday on Monday, clarifying that it has not endorsed a Turkish military offensive over the border.

“The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey — as did the President — that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation,” said Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

In his tweets, the president did not acknowledge the crucial contributions of Kurdish fighters in combating ISIS, protecting ethnic minorities and stabilizing a large swathe of war-torn territory other than to say, “The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

Signaling that the U.S. is essentially leaving the field, Trump added that it’s now up to all the other major players — naming Turkey, the Kurds and Syria, along with Iran, Iraq, Europe and Russia — to “figure the situation out.” And he implied that he won’t view ISIS as a priority unless the group threatens the U.S. directly.

“We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!” Trump tweeted.

News that Turkey now plans to move ahead with an offensive along its Syrian border is also raising concerns in the U.K. and France — both of which issued statements Monday saying they’re worried that a unilateral military operation could undermine the Global Coalition that assembled to fight ISIS militants.

“Daesh, which has gone underground since its territorial defeat, remains an important menace to our national security,” France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says. “In Syria, the organization still has more resources and the capacity for important action.”

The U.K.’s Foreign Office said that its top priority as part of the coalition is still the lasting defeat of ISIS — “and we would be concerned by any unilateral actions which may threaten the considerable progress made towards this aim.”

As the potential for a clash between Turkey and the SDF rises, there are also questions about the makeup of the group. According to Amy Austin Holmes, a fellow with The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, the SDF is far more diverse than its origins as a U.S.-Kurdish pact might suggest.

“Erdogan plans to invade Syria again to destroy the SDF, who he assumes are all Kurds and PKK terrorists,” says Holmes, who conducted a survey of the group in northern Syria, in a statement sent to NPR. She adds, “In reality, my survey data shows the majority of SDF are Arabs. Members of the Christian and Turkmen minority in Syria have also joined the SDF.”

NPR’s Ruth Sherlock, James Mastromarino and Lama Al-Arian contributed to this report.

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Megathread: House Subpoenas Pentagon Chief and Acting Director of Office of Management and Budget for Documents in Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 5l5zRucPAXhSfnN2BlgUfFRq5iXyo-DmDEcB7bDQb8s Megathread: House Subpoenas Pentagon Chief and Acting Director of Office of Management and Budget for Documents in Impeachment Inquiry r/politics

The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Monday subpoenaed the Department of Defense and the White House Office of Management and Budget for documents related to President Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

The impeachment committees are probing whether Trump froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its government to investigate Biden and his son over unsubstantiated corruption allegations. The subpoena compels the two agencies to turn over documents by Oct. 15.


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‘A reckless gamble’: Four reasons critics decry Trump’s ‘impulsive’ Syria withdrawal

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'A reckless gamble': Four reasons critics decry Trump's 'impulsive' Syria withdrawal

U.S. forces in Syria will move aside for an expected Turkish assault, essentially abandoning Kurdish fighters. FMM – F24 Video Clips

WASHINGTON – Critics condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria as an abandonment of U.S. commitments that could further destabilize a volatile region. 

Trump defended the move on Twitter, saying it was time to “get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.” Echoing his “America first” philosophy, Trump said that “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN” and that “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.” 

Even some of Trump’s staunchest defenders decried the move, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who called it “irresponsible” and a “stain on America’s honor.” 

‘A reckless gamble’: Four reasons critics decry Trump’s ‘impulsive’ Syria withdrawal

Abandoning an ally 

As U.S. troops move aside, Turkey plans a military incursion into Syra against those it considers terrorist threats, including Kurdish fighters who joined America in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. 

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces – which dismantled its fortifications in the border region as part of an agreement meant to assuage Turkey’s security concerns – blasted the U.S. move, saying the SDF had honored its commitments but its American allies “did not fulfill their obligations.” 

The SDF said it lost 11,000 fighters in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. 

Graham said Trump’s decision “will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds,” and “we have sent the most dangerous signal possible – America is an unreliable ally.” 

“The U.S. convinced the Kurds to destroy ISIS for us, causing massive Kurd casualties. Then we conned the Kurds into dismantling their defenses, promising to protect them. Now Trump invites the Turks into Syria, green lighting them to wipe out the Kurds,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Positively sinister.” 

More: On Syria, Donald Trump cites ‘my great and unmatched wisdom’ – others say no way

Reviving the Islamic State 

In March, the SDF triumphantly declared that the Islamic State suffered “100 percent territorial defeat.” But Gen. Mazloum Kobani, the commander of SDF forces, warned that the terrorist group still posed “a great threat to our region and the world.” 

The SDF said Islamic State sleeper cells plot to free about 12,000 militants detained by the Kurdish fighters in the region and plan moves against the al-Hol refugee camp where about 70,000 people are held, including family members. 

Brett McGurk – who served as Trump’s envoy to a global coalition fighting the Islamic State before resigning in 2018 over a disagreement on pulling U.S. forces from Syria – said Turkey “has neither the intent, desire, nor capacity to manage” the massive al-Hol camp, which the inspectors general for the State Department and the Pentagon “warn is the nucleus for a resurgent ISIS.” 

“Believing otherwise is a reckless gamble with our national security,” he said. 

“I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad,” Graham tweeted. “President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.” 

More: Brett McGurk, US envoy to anti-ISIS coalition, quits over Trump’s Syria move

Westlake Legal Group 3e4e6387-4f71-4127-86a1-a7a238734592-100719-Syria-Forces_mt 'A reckless gamble': Four reasons critics decry Trump's 'impulsive' Syria withdrawal

Emboldening Iran 

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the pullout will “confirm Iran’s view of this administration” and embolden the regime to “escalate hostile attacks which in turn could trigger much broader & more dangerous regional war.” 

In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, McGurk predicted that a U.S. withdrawal in Syria could allow Iran to establish a “fortified military presence” there. He warned that “if entrenched, it would constitute a major threat to Israel and Jordan, two vital U.S. allies.”

He said Tehran’s “expansionist ambitions in Syria” were “deterred only by the presence of U.S. troops.”

“The biggest winner of all of this will be the Iranians,” Graham said Monday on “Fox & Friends.” 

He said Iran’s influence in Syria “will eventually become a nightmare for Israel.” 

‘Impulsive’ decision-making 

Though Trump’s allies have touted his unpredictability as an asset because he keeps America’s enemies off-balance, his decision to pull back from Syria was criticized as a major foreign policy decision made without careful deliberation. 

“Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief,” McGurk tweeted. “He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.” 

Graham also called the decision “impulsive,” as well as “short-sighted.” 

“Yes, Trump doublecrossed the Kurds, but really a total lack of foreign policy imagination created this crisis,” Murphy tweeted. He said “Trump wasted the last 30 months” when he could have made a major diplomatic push to strike a deal that Turkey and the Kurds could accept. 

The concerns about Trump’s decision-making process on foreign policy come amid an impeachment inquiry centered on his alleged use of military aid as leverage to pressure a foreign government to investigate a political rival in the 2020 election. 

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgarrd, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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Mark Sanford on Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings: It’s the ‘proverbial swamp’ at work

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-10-07-at-12.39.13-PM Mark Sanford on Hunter Biden's Ukraine dealings: It's the 'proverbial swamp' at work Joshua Nelson fox-news/shows/americas-newsroom fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 97f60523-0e15-560a-87ce-f7fd5a29b3ca

Former Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said on Monday that he is curious to know about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

“What’s going on there is the proverbial swamp,” Sanford told “America’s Newsroom.”

“It’s all that irks most normal people about what they don’t like about Washington D.C.,” said Sanford, who has announced a 2020 presidential primary challenge to President Trump.

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov said last week that authorities must investigate Hunter Biden to establish whether or not his role on the board of a Ukrainian gas company complied with the nation’s laws.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: HUNTER BIDEN’S UKRAINE BUSINESS DEALINGS ‘LOOK VERY SUSPICIOUS’

Azarov, who served under Ukraine’s former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, did not specify to which laws he was referring. Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have called on current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Biden family’s dealings with Ukrainian firm Burisma Holdings.

Burisma reportedly paid Hunter up to $50,000 per month to sit on its board at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kiev. A second private equity firm founded by the younger Biden also reportedly received $3.4 million from the same company.

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Trump and Giuliani have alleged that when Ukrainian prosecutors tried to investigate Burisma Holdings for corruption, then-Vice President Biden pressured the government to fire the head prosecutor. Biden has denied knowing about his son’s business dealings.

Sanford went on to say, “The fact that, you know, somebody’s son, daughter, relative, friend, ends up with a plum assignment or a plum-paying position just because of where Dad happens to be is everything that’s wrong with Washington, D.C.”

Sanford said Democrats’ efforts to impeach Trump over the phone call to Zelensky are “going nowhere” in the Senate. He said the House should formally “censure” Trump, if wrongdoing occurred, and move on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-10-07-at-12.39.13-PM Mark Sanford on Hunter Biden's Ukraine dealings: It's the 'proverbial swamp' at work Joshua Nelson fox-news/shows/americas-newsroom fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 97f60523-0e15-560a-87ce-f7fd5a29b3ca   Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-10-07-at-12.39.13-PM Mark Sanford on Hunter Biden's Ukraine dealings: It's the 'proverbial swamp' at work Joshua Nelson fox-news/shows/americas-newsroom fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 97f60523-0e15-560a-87ce-f7fd5a29b3ca

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Seeking Ukraine Aid Records, House Subpoenas White House Budget Office and Pentagon

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Seeking Ukraine Aid Records, House Subpoenas White House Budget Office and Pentagon United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B impeachment

WASHINGTON — The House on Monday subpoenaed the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents about the Trump administration’s decision to withhold security aid for Ukraine, expanding the impeachment inquiry into how President Trump sought to pressure the government there to dig up dirt on his political rivals.

The subpoenas, issued by the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee, gave the federal agencies until Oct. 15 to comply.

The panel appears to be trying to unearth communications and other records that might shed light on one of the enduring mysteries of the United States’ interactions with Ukraine: why the White House decided last summer to abruptly suspend the $391 million aid package, and whether it was connected to contemporaneous efforts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

The White House has denied that the aid was being withheld to exert leverage over the Ukrainians, but at least one senior diplomat worried privately that that was precisely what was happening, and the administration has been unwilling to answer questions about the timeline and rationale for the decision. Regardless of the reasoning, the decision to withhold aid that was allocated by Congress on a bipartisan basis prompted confusion and concern within the State and Defense departments, as well as among lawmakers in both parties.

Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry in the House suspect the actions may be related.

“The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the committees to examine this sequence of these events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” read the letters, signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee; and Representative Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Colorado woman charged by 2 moose during hike, escapes unharmed

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092863591001_6092858909001-vs Colorado woman charged by 2 moose during hike, escapes unharmed Travis Fedschun fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/science/wild-nature/mammals fox news fnc/us fnc article 5554713d-2ca7-5bc4-9e1c-eeeef3f7c779

A Colorado woman’s quick thinking helped her avoid serious injury after a pair of moose charged her while she was on a recent hike.

Audrey Dickinson of Fort Collins was hiking the Uneva Pass near Copper Mountain, located between Vail and Silverthorne, when she spotted a moose appear from the woods.

“I know you should be 75 feet from them and I was 200 feet from them,” she told FOX31.

FLORIDA WILDLIFE OFFICIALS CAPTURE 18-FOOT, 98-POUND BURMESE PYTHON

As she was watching the first moose, a second animal then showed up as she began to back away. Video taken by Dickinson showed the moose walking in the distance and staring at her before eventually charging towards her as she ran away.

Dickinson said she had to hide behind a tree several times to avoid being hit by the moose.

“I thought about going to a switchback behind me, but when I started moving, they started running again,” she told FOX31. “So I got back to the tree.”

SIX ELEPHANTS FALL TO THEIR DEATH TRYING TO SAVE EACH OTHER AT THAI WATERFALL

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said peak mating season for moose and elk — known as “the rut” –lasts through early October. The agency has warned motorists to be aware of animals that are more active, easily distracted and potentially more aggressive.

“Both bulls and cows are aggressive during the breeding season, with bulls often fighting head to head until the dominant bull drives off, injures, or even kills the challenger,” the agency states.

That also applies to people enjoying the outdoors. The agency told FOX31 that people should remember to give plenty of space for wildlife, including putting an object between oneself and an animal.

CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Dickinson said she was eventually able to get away after standing by a tree for another few minutes.

“It could have been much worse,” she told FOX31. “It’s never worth it. I was really looking forward to this nice, long hike. The hike will be there another day.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092863591001_6092858909001-vs Colorado woman charged by 2 moose during hike, escapes unharmed Travis Fedschun fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/science/wild-nature/mammals fox news fnc/us fnc article 5554713d-2ca7-5bc4-9e1c-eeeef3f7c779   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092863591001_6092858909001-vs Colorado woman charged by 2 moose during hike, escapes unharmed Travis Fedschun fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/science/wild-nature/mammals fox news fnc/us fnc article 5554713d-2ca7-5bc4-9e1c-eeeef3f7c779

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Disney apologizes to guests after Skyliner ‘nightmare;’ no indication on reopening

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Disney apologizes to guests after Skyliner 'nightmare;' no indication on reopening

Some Walt Disney World park-goers were stranded in the air for several hours on the Florida resort’s newly launched aerial cable car system. USA TODAY

Walt Disney World Resort has yet to set a reopening date for its new aerial cable car system, the Skyliner, after it stranded passengers for hours on Saturday night

Riders were stuck when one of the Skyliner cars became stuck in the air, the company said. Disney’s website still says the service is “temporarily closed.” 

“We have a team diligently looking into the cause of Saturday’s malfunction on the Epcot line of the Disney Skyliner,” Disney told USA TODAY in a statement. “We have been in contact with the guests, many of whom were on the Skyliner for more than three hours until we were able to restart the system. We express our sincere apologies for the inconvenience and continue to work with each guest individually.”

It was not immediately clear how many riders were stuck. Photos on Twitter showed a few yellow cars jumbled together along a platform.

Chris Edenfield told the Orlando Sentinel that he and his disabled mother were stuck on the ride for hours.

“We’ve cracked open the emergency kit awhile ago for water; it’s just a nightmare right now,” he said.

The company said no injuries were reported and that it was working with each guest “regarding impacts to their visit with us.”

The Skyliner system opened a week ago to much fanfare; Disney announced it would be ready in fall 2019 in November of last year. The company describes the Skyliner on its website as a “grand, state-of-the-art gondola system” that connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four Disney hotels.

Glitches aren’t an anomaly for newly opened attractions, according to amusement park safety expert Bill Avery of Avery Safety Consulting Inc.

“Glitches are rarely catastrophic and more often than not associated with minor malfunctions where a little extra ‘tweaking’ may be necessary,” Avery tells USA TODAY. Assuming Disney followed typical safety precautions for new attractions, they would have operated it for some time testing safety features — first unloaded, then with load testing. Next, in-house personnel would ride it before guests ever got on.

“Sky rides malfunction for various reasons,” he adds. “Many times it is a part of the safety system that shuts it down. Preparing and practicing for an evacuation such as occurred in this instance is very important for operators of sky rides. Failures happen, and the operator must be prepared. Operators must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively.”

Brian Avery, an events, tourism and attractions operational safety expert, told USA TODAY that three hours is too long for people be stuck in the cabin on any attraction.

“Measures should have been in place for the possibility of a ride or device failure that required an expedited rescue and/or the delivery of water, food, medicine, portable toilets,” Brian Avery told USA TODAY.

Passengers — and Disney — lucked out that the weather wasn’t threatening. “In this instance for example, if a violent thunderstorm had popped up and/or high winds were present, this could have been a serious event,” Bill Avery added.

“You can never anticipate all the things that can go wrong,” he said. “I would imagine they learned a lot handling a real shut down and will incorporate what they learned into their procedures for the next time.”

Dennis Speigel, president of industry consultant International Theme Park Services Inc., told USA TODAY that Disney will likely look at all of the systems, including braking, pulley and wind systems as a means of testing. He says it shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to figure out what happened before putting it back in service and that the public shouldn’t be concerned.

Speigel recalled another sky attraction incident: In the early 1980s at Kings Island theme park in Ohio, a sky ride stranded people for six hours. After getting everyone down safely, the attraction shut down for a week and went through testing. Once it reopened, lines were longer than the previous few years.

“People’s memories are short,” Speigel noted.

Contributing: John Bacon

Opening fanfare: Disney World officially opens its Skyliner service to the public: Here’s what guests think

Then the chaos: Disney World’s new Skyliner cable-car system strands passengers: ‘It’s just a nightmare’

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A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

Westlake Legal Group catch-9725db3685f0ce0921360fdfd74888f32a2bd35c-s1100-c15 A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

At the CATCH graduation ceremony, Melissa Callaway hugs her sister after giving a speech about getting out of human trafficking. Now the diversion program is a nationwide model. Paige Pfleger/WOSU hide caption

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Paige Pfleger/WOSU

Westlake Legal Group  A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

At the CATCH graduation ceremony, Melissa Callaway hugs her sister after giving a speech about getting out of human trafficking. Now the diversion program is a nationwide model.

Paige Pfleger/WOSU

A diversion program for victims of human trafficking is spreading to cities around the country. The model has roots in Columbus, Ohio, where a judge decided to direct women toward rehabilitation instead of jail.

Ten years ago, Judge Paul Herbert was sitting in a courtroom when he noticed a trend. He was seeing lots of women who were abused and forced into sex work, but they were being treated like criminals.

“The sheriff brings the next defendant out on the wall chained up,” Herbert says, “and it’s a woman and she’s all beat up, she’s looking exactly like one of these victims of domestic violence except she’s in handcuffs and a jail suit. I look down at the file and it says prostitute.”

Herbert realized the law didn’t recognize these women as victims of human trafficking. So he pitched the idea of a courtroom dedicated to recovery, not punishment. It’s called CATCH Court, which stands for Changing Actions To Change Habits.

“We didn’t have the vocabulary that we do, even the vocabulary, let alone the way society looked at these women,” Herbert says. “So it was pretty much, we were kind of a laughingstock.”

At the start, CATCH was one of only a few such programs in the country.

There are now seven of these specialized courts in Ohio alone. There are similar programs in Texas, Illinois, Tennessee and Louisiana, and Herbert has helped cities get the courts up and running.

Westlake Legal Group catch-2-240469720caa1b3495289a9461518bf9f7d54e0c-s1100-c15 A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

A decade ago, Judge Paul Herbert came up with the idea of a diversion program for human trafficking victims. Paige Pfleger/WOSU hide caption

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Paige Pfleger/WOSU

Westlake Legal Group  A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

A decade ago, Judge Paul Herbert came up with the idea of a diversion program for human trafficking victims.

Paige Pfleger/WOSU

Here’s how it works: The program takes care of housing and food — things the women would normally need from their trafficker. Participants get treatment for trauma and addiction, and they are eligible to get their records expunged.

In exchange, they’re subject to drug testing and must show up in court every week for two years.

While it costs $200,000 a year to run CATCH Court, Herbert says that’s a bargain.

“If you want to do nothing, you’re going to keep spending $5.4 million a year to arrest and jail these women and have no improvement in the circumstance,” Herbert says.

But this program is intense. Less than 1 in 4 of the women enrolled make it to graduation.

“We had a person who left our house and she was a CATCH Court dropout. I can tell you I’ve had about maybe 15 this year,” says Esther Flores. She runs a safe house for women in sex work and says CATCH is great for those who graduate but doesn’t do enough for the women who don’t.

Some women drop out because they get jobs and don’t need the assistance, but Flores says she has seen others end up back on the street.

“I became addicted to drugs and then the trafficker found me,” says Vanessa Perkins. She’s one of CATCH’s first successful graduates.

Perkins was sexually abused as a young girl and started drinking and doing drugs when she was only 12.

“He preyed on my vulnerabilities on purpose, knew what he was doing,” she says. “From drug addiction, to love, to family, to loyalty. He preyed on all of that stuff I was missing.”

Westlake Legal Group catch-3-d61b7f477f36d605e9da9f4395fd9eba58ca04d7-s1100-c15 A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

Vanessa Perkins was a CATCH Court graduate. Now she’s the court’s bailiff. Paige Pfleger/WOSU hide caption

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Paige Pfleger/WOSU

Westlake Legal Group  A Pioneering Ohio Courtroom Helps Trafficking Victims Find Hope

Vanessa Perkins was a CATCH Court graduate. Now she’s the court’s bailiff.

Paige Pfleger/WOSU

In a twist Perkins says she never could have imagined, years after completing the program, Herbert asked her to be the bailiff in his court — the very court that helped her recover. Now she helps other women who are going through what she did years ago.

“They’re like, if you can do it, I can do it. Especially if I happened to be out there with them,” she says. “Cause there’s people that come in that we was on the streets together.”

CATCH has found success keeping women out of the system, regardless of if they cross the graduation stage — the recidivism rate for women in prostitution nationwide is 80%. That number drops by half for women enrolled in CATCH for any amount of time, and even further to 20% for the women who make it to graduation.

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Nissan’s Crisis Goes Much Deeper Than Carlos Ghosn

TOKYO — An outside law firm investigating problems at Nissan, the troubled Japanese automaker, this summer discovered some potentially explosive information.

Hari Nada, a powerful Nissan insider who was behind the ouster last year of Nissan’s chairman, Carlos Ghosn, over compensation issues, had been improperly overpaid himself, the firm found. A second insider involved in the corporate coup was responsible, the firm said, and had briefed Mr. Nada on what he had done.

A senior Nissan compliance officer planned to share the findings with the company’s board of directors, according to people familiar with the situation.

But the full board never heard the details of the findings, according to people who attended the board’s last meeting on Sept. 9. Moments after the meeting ended, Nissan issued a statement that cleared an unnamed group of executives of misconduct.

In the weeks after the law firm delivered its findings, Nissan sidelined two senior in-house lawyers who had handled issues of misconduct at the company, including the one who hired the outside law firm, according to people briefed on the moves. Both had warned Nissan executives that Mr. Nada had continued influencing inquiries into the company’s problems, these people said, even after recusing himself to avoid conflicts of interest.

The series of events, most of which have not been previously disclosed, paint a picture of a major global automaker hobbled by distrust and deep conflicts of interest among top executives. Nearly one year after Mr. Ghosn was arrested by the Japanese authorities, shaking the global auto industry, Nissan remains riven by corporate intrigue that has left members of its own board and Renault of France, which owns a 43 percent stake in the Japanese company, in the dark. The automaker has also reported a deep plunge in profits as sales have plummeted and announced plans to lay off as many as 12,500 employees worldwide.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155271687_4202e399-38bd-4e9c-9555-e4ea3c44ad8e-articleLarge Nissan’s Crisis Goes Much Deeper Than Carlos Ghosn Securities and Commodities Violations Saikawa, Hiroto Renault SA Nissan Motor Co Nada, Hari Kelly, Greg (Nissan Executive) Japan Ghosn, Carlos Frauds and Swindling Falsification of Data Executive Compensation Boards of Directors Automobiles

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s former chairman, center, arrives at Tokyo District Court for a hearing in May. Nearly a year after his arrest, the automaker remains riven by corporate intrigue.CreditRen Onuma/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

The findings from the outside law firm, which were reviewed by The New York Times, could also raise questions about the credibility of crucial witnesses against Mr. Ghosn, who has been charged with trying to conceal his pay level from regulators, among other charges, and Greg Kelly, a former senior Nissan executive charged with helping him. Both men say they are innocent.

Nissan said that the executives whose pay issues came to light after Mr. Ghosn’s ouster were “unaware that improper methods were used” to increase their compensation and that there was “no reason to suspect” that they broke the law. A Nissan spokeswoman said the company possessed a more recent version of the findings from the outside law firm, but Nissan declined to make that version available.

Christina Murray, then the head of Nissan’s internal audit and compliance offices, hired the law firm, Anderson Mori and Tomotsune, this past summer. Ms. Murray had been leading an examination into misconduct at the company since last year. In late August, the firm delivered a report on its findings addressed to Ms. Murray.

Hari Nada, the head of Nissan’s legal department and security office. An outside law firm found that he had been improperly overpaid.CreditNissan Motor Co.

Mr. Nada, the head of Nissan’s legal department and security office, had in 2017 received about $280,000 in “unjust enrichment,” the firm found.

The Nissan spokeswoman said that the more recent version of the law firm’s findings had included a different, lower amount for Mr. Nada’s overpayment. Nissan declined to release further details or to explain the discrepancy. “As the investigation progressed, updates were made,” it said.

Toshiaki Onuma, a senior Nissan administrator, changed the payout dates for stock-based compensation, the firm found, improperly increasing pay for Mr. Nada and others. The firm did not say why Mr. Onuma changed the dates.

Both Mr. Nada and Mr. Onuma were deeply involved in Mr. Ghosn’s fall and are widely expected to be central witnesses in his trial. The two have struck cooperation agreements with Japanese prosecutors, according to Mr. Ghosn’s lawyers and Nissan documents reviewed by the Times. Japanese prosecutors have not made details of the agreements public.

It is not clear what happened to the law firm’s findings after it delivered its report. But shortly after, Motoo Nagai, a Nissan director who heads the company’s audit committee, told Ms. Murray that she could no longer participate in any investigations involving Mr. Nada, according to an email reviewed by the Times. She subsequently resigned. Her last day in the office was Aug. 30, and she officially left the company on Sept. 9. She had planned to present the results of her yearlong investigation to the full board that day, said the people familiar with the plans.

Mr. Nagai has told reporters that Ms. Murray had been contemplating resigning since July and that the timing was coincidental. The company has said she resigned for personal reasons.

The board’s meeting on Sept. 9 focused on Hiroto Saikawa, Mr. Ghosn’s successor as chief executive. The board unanimously asked for his resignation, and he resigned that day. He had admitted earlier that month that he received about $440,000 in improper share-based compensation. Mr. Saikawa said he had not realized that the overpayment was “against the rules” and vowed to return the money.

But some directors at the meeting demanded more information about the compensation of other executives and were growing frustrated with a lack of it, said people who were there. Days before, Bloomberg News reported that Mr. Nada had received overpayments, without specifying the amount or how. Jean-Dominique Senard, the chairman of Nissan’s French partner, Renault, and other board members asked why they were learning about top executives’ pay issues from media reports.

In its statement, Nissan said the law firm’s findings had been “reflected” in a broader report shared with the board after the meeting. But that broader report named only directors, not executives, who received improper compensation, according to people aware of its contents. It did not identify the executives, like Mr. Nada, who received that compensation nor say how much they received or how they received it, the people said. Some members of the board were not aware that the firm had been hired, they said.

Hiroto Saikawa, the chief executive of Nissan, at a news conference in September announcing his resignation. He had admitted earlier that he received about $440,000 in improper share-based compensation.CreditKimimasa Mayama/EPA, via Shutterstock Members of Nissan’s board, from left, Keiko Ihara, Yasushi Kimura, Masakazu Toyoda and Motoo Nagai at a news conference after their meeting on Sept. 9. The board voted unanimously that day to accept Mr. Saikawa’s resignation.CreditKyodo, via Associated Press Images

When the board meeting ended, Nissan released a statement that said that in addition to Mr. Saikawa six other directors and executives, whom it did not identify, had received extra compensation. Nissan added that they had been unaware of the “improper methods used” to increase their pay.

The findings by Anderson Mori and Tomotsune said five executives and directors, including Mr. Nada, were overpaid. It is not clear whether the six cited by Nissan overlapped with the five named by the law firm. Nissan declined to discuss their identities, citing privacy issues.

Mr. Onuma told the firm’s investigators that he had “explicitly explained” to Mr. Nada that he had changed the date for stock-based compensation to increase Mr. Nada’s pay, according to the law firm’s report. Investigators also cited an email to Mr. Nada that they said showed Mr. Onuma explaining the change.

The law firm said it was unable to verify what Mr. Onuma said because Mr. Nada refused to be interviewed.

Mr. Nada refused to talk to the law firm unless Mr. Nagai was present and given full authority over the interview, as well as its results. The law firm called Mr. Nada’s demands “unusual and inappropriate” and left the question of how to proceed with Mr. Nagai.

In a statement, Nissan said that “all subjects of the investigation were interviewed appropriately” by Anderson Mori and Tomotsune. It declined to provide further details.

The firm also found that Mr. Onuma had adjusted the compensation of Itaru Koeda, a former Nissan director, by about $93,000, and the compensation of Arun Bajaj, a former executive in Nissan’s human resources department, by $46,000. The men said they were unaware of Mr. Onuma’s actions, the firm said.

The law firm wrote that overpayments to two other executives, including Asako Hoshino, Nissan’s most senior female executive, were “relatively innocent” and resulted from what appeared to be miscommunication.

Asako Hoshino, an executive vice president at Nissan, is the company’s most senior female executive.  CreditChristopher Jue/European Pressphoto Agency

As investigators inside and outside Nissan have explored the problems with how the company is run, people within both the Japanese company and Renault have begun to focus on Mr. Nada’s role within the company. He has remained the head of Nissan’s legal department despite his cooperation agreement with prosecutors and his role as a potential witness in Mr. Ghosn’s trial. Some within Nissan and its board see this as a troubling conflict of interest, say people familiar with the concerns.

Mr. Nada recused himself in April from matters involving investigations at the top, according to people familiar with the situation. But, they said, Mr. Nada has continued to use his position and a team of loyal employees to influence those matters directly and indirectly.

Ms. Murray, the former compliance chief, repeatedly expressed concerns over what she described as Mr. Nada’s continued influence over the investigations and related legal matters, according to people she spoke with and emails reviewed by the Times.

Nissan’s internal and outside legal advisers have also questioned Mr. Nada’s role within the company.

During the Sept. 9 board meeting, six of the board’s seven independent directors — everyone except Mr. Nagai — were given a letter written by a senior Nissan lawyer, Ravinder Passi, with a legal memo attached, that outlined potential conflicts of interest within Nissan’s top ranks. Mr. Passi’s letter was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The memo, which was reviewed by the Times, had been commissioned by Mr. Passi and written by two outside law firms, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton, based in New York, and a Japanese firm, Mori Hamada and Matsumoto. It said executives involved in Mr. Ghosn’s alleged wrongdoing “should not be involved in decision making” related to those accusations. It also cited deals struck by Mr. Nada and Mr. Onuma with prosecutors to cooperate in their case against Mr. Ghosn in exchange for immunity from criminal liability.

The memo was dated July 23. In his Sept. 9 letter to the six outside directors, Mr. Passi said he had shared the memo on July 25 with Mr. Nagai, the chairman of the board’s audit committee. Mr. Passi wrote he had not been able to find out whether board members had seen the memo but felt “duty bound” to bring it to their attention.

Since July, Mr. Passi said in his letter, the problem of conflicts of interest within the company’s top ranks had “become more acute.”

Shortly after the board meeting, Mr. Nada wrote in an email to the company’s legal department that Mr. Passi would no longer handle any legal matters related to the Ghosn investigation. Instead, Kathryn Carlile, one of Mr. Nada’s former assistants, would take over, said the email, which was reviewed by the Times.

That surprised some board members and Nissan employees who saw Ms. Carlile as loyal to Mr. Nada, said people familiar with their thinking. In its statement, Nissan said Mr. Passi had been removed from those matters because of potential conflicts of interest. It did not specify the conflicts.

In his email, Mr. Nada said the legal team should make arrangements to brief Ms. Carlile on related issues “as soon as possible.” The email ended, “Best regards, Hari.”

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Bear cubs stuck in van freed after honking horn

They weren’t smarter than the average bear, but it seemed that way.

A pair of cubs that got stuck in a van in Gatlinburg, Tenn., were freed after they started honking the vehicle’s horn.

TESLAS WILL SOON MAKE FART AND ANIMAL SOUNDS, MUSK TWEETS

Home security technician Jeff Stokely said he was at a customer’s house when he heard a horn blaring outside and realized it was coming from his company van.

Westlake Legal Group bear-12 Bear cubs stuck in van freed after honking horn Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/attributes/safety fox news fnc/auto fnc article af33fb97-7219-5ae5-8abd-4ad062b09a6b

(JEFF STOKELY)

When he approached it, he saw the cubs climbing around inside the front cabin and leaning on the horn. He’s not exactly sure how they got trapped, but the noise sure got his attention.

WATCH: DELICATE AND BRUTAL BEAR SKILLFULLY OPENS CAR DOOR

After making sure mamma bear wasn’t around, Stokely opened the rear door and the cubs ran off into the nearby woods safe and (without any) sound.

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Westlake Legal Group bear-12 Bear cubs stuck in van freed after honking horn Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/attributes/safety fox news fnc/auto fnc article af33fb97-7219-5ae5-8abd-4ad062b09a6b   Westlake Legal Group bear-12 Bear cubs stuck in van freed after honking horn Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/attributes/safety fox news fnc/auto fnc article af33fb97-7219-5ae5-8abd-4ad062b09a6b

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