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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 169)

Why the Trump-Bolton breakup was inevitable. They clashed over Iran, North Korea and more

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Why the Trump-Bolton breakup was inevitable. They clashed over Iran, North Korea and more

President Trump has announced that John Bolton is out as National Security Adviser. Trump used Twitter to announce the staff change. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The political marriage between President Donald Trump and his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton was troubled from the start.

Trump campaigned on withdrawing the U.S. from “endless wars,” while Bolton embraced an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy agenda.

Trump sought negotiations with reviled despots. Bolton wanted the U.S. to topple them.

Their opposing views collided most recently over Afghanistan, spilling into public view over the weekend. Trump disclosed on Saturday that he had invited, and then uninvited, the Taliban – a militant Islamic group – to Camp David to seal a peace deal that would paved the way for a U.S. withdrawal from that 18-year war. Bolton argued that the Taliban could not be trusted.

Whether that rift was the last straw for Trump, or for Bolton, is not clear. That was just one of oh-so-many matters on which they disagreed.

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More: Donald Trump fires national security adviser John Bolton, citing ‘disagreements’

“You can only say ‘no, no, no’ to a president so many times,” said Aaron David Miller, who served as a top State Department negotiator for past presidents of both parties and is now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and – the last straw – Afghanistan … They were out of sync both personally and on policy.”

Take North Korea, for starters. Trump relished showy summits with Kim Jong Un, the country’s ruthless leader. Bolton was skeptical that such talks would amount to anything.

More: ‘Bolton contradicts Trump on whether he was fired

That was on display during the last Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, where North Korean officials offered to partially dismantle their country’s primary nuclear facility. Bolton, among others, successfully pressed Trump to reject the deal and demand full denuclearlization. The talks collapsed and both leaders went home empty-handed.

In the months since those negotiations stalled, North Korea has repeatedly tested short-range missiles – a provocation that Bolton has highlighted and Trump has downplayed.

More: North Korea says it’s ready to restart talks with the U.S., but then fires more weapons

Trump’s approach is to “stiff arm” his counterpart with one hand and offer an olive branch with the other, said James Carafano, a national security and foreign policy expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation. Bolton’s approach, he said, is to negotiate only an opponent’s surrender.

Carafano argued that despite those tactical differences, Trump and Bolton agreed on a broad swath of issues. They both strongly supported Brexit, the United Kingdom’s efforts to leave the European Union. They shared a distaste for the United Nations and agreed on the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, a landmark U.S.-Russia arms control treaty and other several other multilateral pacts.

More: Here’s what you missed about Brexit in the U.K. last week

But Bolton wanted to aggressively confront Iran, particularly after its military shot down a U.S. drone earlier this summer. He sought military options for ousting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He opposed Trump’s plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

More: Iran reduces nuclear deal compliance, warns ‘not much time left’ to save accord

Trump viewed Bolton as a warmonger, and some of the president’s allies feared the hardline national security adviser was pulling him deeper into military conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. 

More: What a multi-million dollar ‘bribe’ for oil supertanker says about Trump’s Iran policy

“It seems clear that Bolton and Trump did not share anything close to a similar view of global affairs,” said Harry J. Kazianis, senior director of the Center for the National Interest, which advocates for “strategic realism” in U.S. foreign policy. “Trump is now free to find a national security adviser who is against wars of regime change, a smaller footprint in the Middle East, some sort of diplomatic track with North Korea and a much bigger focus on the rise of China.” 

Danielle Pletka said Iran may have been the most contentious foreign policy clash between Bolton and Trump.

More: Why Donald Trump’s plan to host Taliban at prestigious Camp David stirred bipartisan outrage

Trump has embraced a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at isolating Iran economically and politically. But at the same time, the president has repeatedly said he would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with no preconditions.

Such a session would likely make Bolton’s blood boil, said Pletka, senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank where Bolton served as a senior fellow before joining the Trump administration.

 “He doesn’t believe in the power of talk, except on truly rare occasions,” Pletka said. “He’s very, very hawkish.”

It’s perhaps fitting that Trump and Bolton even clashed on Tuesday as their inevitable divorce became official. Trump said in a tweet that he had fired Bolton because of their policy clashes.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” the president wrote on Tuesday. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration.” 

Bolton quickly responded with his own tweet: “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.'”

Contributing: Michael Collins

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Testimony details ‘weird and strange’ behavior of Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago

The trial of a Chinese woman arrested on charges of trespassing at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and then lying to Secret Service agents continued Tuesday with witness testimony detailing the defendant’s strange behavior prior to her arrest.

Yujing Zhang appeared again in court after an unusual first day, which included a brief delay due to an underwear snafu. She then proclaimed her innocence and thanked the U.S. in a 20-second opening statement – quite possibly one of the shortest in recorded legal history.

CHINESE WOMAN ARRESTED AT MAR-A-LAGO STALLS JURY SELECTION OVER LACK OF UNDERWEAR

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong and that’s what I want to say. USA, thank you,” the 33-year-old Shanghai business consultant said Monday.

Westlake Legal Group Yujing-Zhang-court-sketch Testimony details 'weird and strange' behavior of Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago Stephen Sorace fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/trials fox news fnc/us fnc article ab0bb6e3-3737-543b-9eea-24017b99670d

Zhang is accused of trespassing at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and lying to Secret Service agents. (Daniel Pontet via AP, File)

On Tuesday, Mar-a-Lago receptionist Ariela Grumaz testified that Zhang was acting “weird and strange” on March 30, prompting her to confront the Chinese national and alert the Secret Service.

Zhang made herself conspicuous by taking photos and video inside the lavish lobby in violation of rules while wearing a gray evening dress at 1 p.m., Grumaz said. After calling agents, Grumaz said Zhang went into a women’s restroom, where she found her pacing and frantically sending text messages.

Sam Ivanovich, the agent Grumaz had alerted, testified that Zhang was carrying a computer, cellphones and other electronics. He also testified that agents later found a signal detector meant to spot hidden cameras and a significant amount of cash stashed in her area hotel room.

Westlake Legal Group Yujing-Zhang Testimony details 'weird and strange' behavior of Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago Stephen Sorace fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/trials fox news fnc/us fnc article ab0bb6e3-3737-543b-9eea-24017b99670d

Zhang has repeatedly upheld her innocence despite facing up to six years in prison. (Broward Sheriff’s Office)

Ivanovich said her story didn’t add up when agents questioned her. Zhang had told him she arrived early to take photos of the property before a United Nations Friendship event, even after she was repeatedly told no such event was scheduled, he said.

She seemingly contradicted an earlier statement that she was there to use the pool, although she didn’t have a swimsuit in her possession, Ivanovich testified.

CHINESE WOMAN ARRESTED AT MAR-A-LAGO CAN REPRESENT SELF AT TRIAL, BUT IS MAKING ‘BAD DECISION,’ JUDGE SAYS

After the 33-year-old became “aggressive” toward agents, she was taken to the Secret Service’s West Palm Beach office, he said. She told agents there that her invitation to the Friendship event was part of a package she purchased from a man she knew only as “Charles” through a Chinese Internet service similar to Facebook.

A translator was set to testify later Tuesday that Charles sent two messages to Zhang before she left China saying the event was canceled, prosecutors said.

Westlake Legal Group Mar-a-Lago20iStock-1 Testimony details 'weird and strange' behavior of Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago Stephen Sorace fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/trials fox news fnc/us fnc article ab0bb6e3-3737-543b-9eea-24017b99670d

Zhang said she was attending a UN Friendship event at Mar-a-Lago, although no such event was scheduled, according to witness testimony. (iStock)

Zhang has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful entry and making false statements. She faces up to six years in prison if convicted.

She fired her public defenders in June against the recommendation of U.S. District Judge Roy Altman in order to represent herself with the use of a translator.

Altman stepped in on her behalf on one occasion Tuesday when a defense attorney would have objected to prosecutor questions about what Zhang’s behavior has to do with the charges. He ultimately allowed the line of questioning to stand.

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Zhang, who has usually been silent, attempted to object a few times, challenging the introduction of Mar-a-Lago photos and her cellphone, saying they were “sensitive.” Altman rejected her challenges.

Meanwhile, China’s foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that anyone who believes Zhang is a spy is engaged in “science fiction.” She demanded the U.S. handle the case “in a fair and proper manner according to the law.”

Fox News’ Greg Norman, Travis Fedschun and Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Yujing-Zhang-court-sketch Testimony details 'weird and strange' behavior of Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago Stephen Sorace fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/trials fox news fnc/us fnc article ab0bb6e3-3737-543b-9eea-24017b99670d   Westlake Legal Group Yujing-Zhang-court-sketch Testimony details 'weird and strange' behavior of Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago Stephen Sorace fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/trials fox news fnc/us fnc article ab0bb6e3-3737-543b-9eea-24017b99670d

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Watch: Reporter caught making crude remark during Pompeo, Mnuchin media conference

Westlake Legal Group Pompeo-press-briefing-2 Watch: Reporter caught making crude remark during Pompeo, Mnuchin media conference Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc e0fc3e60-eddb-515c-94f1-5eb116497d71 article

At the conclusion of a media conference regarding the departure of John Bolton from the White House, one reporter was caught making a crude comment by a live microphone.

The reporter’s comments were audible after a press briefing in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the president’s decision to remove Bolton.

As Pompeo was leaving the White House briefing room, the reporter could be heard saying: “God almighty. That’s a s–tshow.” Reporters in the room had complained about the set-up of the conference — claiming it was difficult to hear and questions were not asked in a structured way.

During the media conference, Pompeo said that he wasn’t surprised by Bolton’s departure, which came after the former NSA was reportedly sidelined from major discussions about Afghanistan.

TRUMP OUSTS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON, SAYS THEY ‘DISAGREED STRONGLY’ ON POLICY

The briefing was initially intended to focus on an executive order surrounding sanctions on individuals with ties to terrorism.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who also attended, said that even with Bolton’s departure, the administration would continue pressuring Iran.

Bolton, who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration, has come under fire for pushing an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy that appeared to conflict with some of the president’s campaign promises.

Trump said on Tuesday that he and others in the administration strongly disagreed with suggestions that Bolton made

BRET BAIER: JOHN BOLTON’S DEPARTURE FROM WHITE HOUSE FOLLOWS WEEKS OF ‘WHISPERS’

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week,” Trump tweeted.

It’s unclear what exactly happened between Trump and Bolton as the latter claimed that he offered Trump his resignation rather than Trump requesting it himself.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Pompeo-press-briefing-2 Watch: Reporter caught making crude remark during Pompeo, Mnuchin media conference Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc e0fc3e60-eddb-515c-94f1-5eb116497d71 article   Westlake Legal Group Pompeo-press-briefing-2 Watch: Reporter caught making crude remark during Pompeo, Mnuchin media conference Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc e0fc3e60-eddb-515c-94f1-5eb116497d71 article

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Why the Arab World Isn’t Outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank Vow

Westlake Legal Group 10arab-reax-facebookJumbo Why the Arab World Isn’t Outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank Vow Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Israel

BEIRUT — At one time, if the prime minister of Israel had vowed to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, the unilateral promise would have set off outrage across the Arab world.

Not today.

The reasons for the muted response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election promise on Tuesday were many: It was seen as a late-game appeal by Mr. Netanyahu to right-wing voters. Israel already has de facto control of the territory in question. And the Palestinian cause no longer stirs passions across the region as it once did.

“Yes they care,” the Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab said of Arabs in other countries. “But will they move their troops? No. Are they going to withdraw their money from American banks? No.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s vow comes after strategic shifts in the Middle East have pushed the Palestinian cause down the priority list of many Arab leaders and their peoples. It also follows President Trump’s endorsement of a number of unilateral steps by Israel toward other disputed territories.

Across the region, Arab states like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq are still reeling from the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings and the fight against the Islamic State, leaving them more focused on internal issues. And Persian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia, which once staunchly backed the Palestinians, now worry more about Iran’s regional influence, a concern they share with Israel.

Those changes have left the Palestinians with fewer Arab allies willing to stand up for their cause.

“For the most part, the Palestinian issue has fallen off the agenda,” said Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a book about American involvement in the conflict.

Arab leaders may also avoid denouncing Mr. Netanyahu and his plans because they are unwilling or unable to confront him.

“It raises expectations,” Mr. Elgindy said. “If they say, ‘We oppose this. This is terrible,’ then there is an expectation from their people that they will do something about it.”

That does not mean that the Arab public does not care, he said. Support for the idea of a Palestinian state remains a rare issue that still generates broad consensus across the Arab world, even if people are not out protesting about it.

The issue is particularly sensitive for Jordan, a close United States ally that has a peace treaty with Israel but sits across the Jordan River from the very territory Mr. Netanyahu seeks to annex.

On Tuesday, Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s vow on Twitter as “a serious escalation that undermines all peace efforts.”

“It’ll lead to more violence & conflict,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump’s unambiguous support for Israel over the Palestinians also played a role.

While previous presidents sought to maintain an air of American impartiality and often met with Palestinian officials as part of the effort to support a two-state solution, Mr. Trump has cast his lot with the Israelis. He has not met with Palestinian leaders and he has ordered the closure of the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mr. Trump has also changed American policy by endorsing unilateral Israeli actions toward disputed territories.

He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the United States Embassy there, a departure from the previous United States position that the status of the holy city should be determined through negotiations.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Trump also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war.

Since Arab reaction to those moves was muted, Mr. Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley promise was unlikely to stir waves in the region, said Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

“The Arab world will approach his promise as a campaign statement in the run-up to the forthcoming Israeli elections in which Netanyahu needs a decisive win that would allow him to form a government,” she said.

The Jordan Valley is the strip of territory on the western side of the Jordan River in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.

The area is now home to about 11,000 Israelis who live in Jewish settlements and about 65,000 Palestinians who live in the biblical city of Jericho and in farming and herding communities, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group.

Ninety percent of the territory is already under Israeli administrative and military control, and Palestinians are barred from entering or using about 85 percent of it, the group says.

Israel has long argued that control of the Jordan Valley is necessary for its security. Mr. Netanyahu on Tuesday called it “Israel’s eastern border.”

The Palestinians, human rights groups and many other nations argue that Israel cannot legally annex the territory, which the Palestinians need for their hoped-for state.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that “all signed agreements with Israel and the obligations resulting from them would end” if Israel annexed the land.

Others noted that an actual Israel annexation of the Jordan Valley would leave most Palestinian areas in the West Bank surrounded, perhaps driving the final nail into the coffin of the two-state solution.

Mr. Kuttab, the Palestinian journalist, said that he still supported the idea of a Palestinian state but that his children had given up hope, feeling that Israel has already seized too much land to make it possible.

“They say that with so many settlements in the West Bank, there is no way to create a state,” he said. “So the better long-term solution is fighting for equality.”

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FEMA Official Arrested For Taking Bribes Amid Hurricane Maria Recovery

A Federal Emergency Management Agency official was arrested on Tuesday as part of a federal investigation into bribery and fraud during Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

Ahsha Nateef Tribble ― a deputy regional administrator leading FEMA’s power restoration work after the September 2017 storm ― was indicted Tuesday by the Justice Department for allegedly taking bribes from Donald Keith Ellison, the former head of the energy company Cobra, which was contracted to do electric recovery work after the hurricane.

According to the DOJ, Cobra received two contracts valued at around $1.8 billion from Puerto Rico’s electricity authority, PREPA, paid with federal funds from FEMA.

Tribble, Ellison and former FEMA employee Jovanda R. Patterson were all arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and “disaster fraud,” among others. The Justice Department says all three went to Puerto Rico after the storm in late 2017 and “used Tribble’s positions in FEMA to benefit and enrich themselves and defraud the United States.” 

(Tribble was placed on administrative leave in May amid the investigation, and is currently in “non-duty, non-pay status,” according to FEMA.)  

A federal investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that Tribble and Ellison had a “personal relationship” from October 2017 to April 2019, in which the Cobra head gave Tribble things like the use of a personal helicopter, hotel rooms, airfare and credit card access.

He also got Patterson, whom the Justice Department described as Tribble’s “friend,” a job at one of Cobra’s affiliated companies. In exchange, Tribble allegedly applied pressure on PREPA and FEMA to give recovery work to Cobra and speed up payments to the company.   

The accused face up to five years in prison for conspiracy, false statements and more, and up to 30 years for “disaster fraud” and honest services wire fraud.

“These defendants were supposed to come to Puerto Rico to help during the recovery after the devastation suffered from Hurricane María,” U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez said in a DOJ press release. “Instead, they decided to take advantage of the precarious conditions of our electric power grid and engaged in a bribery … scheme in order to enrich themselves illegally.” 

Westlake Legal Group 5d77f311240000122777cac7 FEMA Official Arrested For Taking Bribes Amid Hurricane Maria Recovery

AFP Contributor via Getty Images Power poles downed by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Nov. 7, 2017.

A FEMA spokesperson said the agency could not comment on personnel matters but was “fully cooperating” with the federal investigation. “FEMA’s mission is to help the American people before, during, and after disasters and our mission can only be accomplished by maintaining the public trust,” FEMA said.

Electricity was out on much of the island for months after the storm hit. Nearly 3,000 people died in the storm and its aftermath. The Trump administration and FEMA were criticized for their slow response to the disaster.

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Missouri couple wins $50G lottery prize 12 years after winning $3.7M

Westlake Legal Group Powerball Missouri couple wins $50G lottery prize 12 years after winning $3.7M Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/missouri fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/lottery fox news fnc/us fnc article 10d286de-cc47-5bfe-973b-c292b9becf09

A Missouri couple who won a $3.7 million lottery prize in 2007 nearly got really lucky a second time last week, narrowly missing out on another multi-million dollar prize.

Marilyn and Jimmie Lovelace matched four of the five white-ball numbers, plus the Powerball, that were drawn Sept. 4, the Missouri Lottery said in a statement.

The Lovelaces just missed out on a piece of the $80 million jackpot, but still earned a $50,000 prize.

The winning numbers for the Sept. 4 drawing were 4, 8, 30, 52, 59, and the Powerball was 2. The Lovelaces missed out only on the number 8.

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One ticket sold in upstate New York won the jackpot, while another ticket sold in Virginia matched all five white-ball numbers for a $1 million prize.

Winning multiple lottery prizes is rare, but not uncommon. In July, a Connecticut man won a second $100,000 prize after winning the same jackpot a year earlier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Powerball Missouri couple wins $50G lottery prize 12 years after winning $3.7M Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/missouri fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/lottery fox news fnc/us fnc article 10d286de-cc47-5bfe-973b-c292b9becf09   Westlake Legal Group Powerball Missouri couple wins $50G lottery prize 12 years after winning $3.7M Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/missouri fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/lottery fox news fnc/us fnc article 10d286de-cc47-5bfe-973b-c292b9becf09

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Pelosi Energizes Battle to Lower Drug Prices

A draft proposal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would empower the federal government to negotiate lower prices for hundreds of prescription drugs, not only for Medicare but for the private market as well, injecting new urgency into Washington’s efforts to control the soaring price of pharmaceuticals.

The plan would revive an idea loathed by most congressional Republicans but long embraced by Democrats; President Trump expressed support for it during his 2016 campaign. By the time he hits the campaign trail again next year, Mr. Trump wants to persuade voters that he lowered the cost of prescription drugs — an issue that resonates with Americans of all political persuasions and a promise he has made repeatedly.

The speaker’s plan is the latest in a growing constellation of proposals. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is ramping up its campaign to kill them.

A potential curveball is a plan the Trump administration has been working on that would base the price that Medicare pays for some drugs that are administered by doctors, such as chemotherapy and other intravenous infusions, on what other countries, including Canada and Germany, pay for the same medications.

Here is a roundup of where the various proposals stand.

Ms. Pelosi’s bill, expected soon, would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition. The response from the White House will be critically important, as will the reaction from House liberals. Some of them pushed back on an initial proposal to let the Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative arm of Congress, decide a drug’s price if the government and manufacturer cannot agree.

Ms. Pelosi apparently listened: a draft of her plan published by The Hill on Monday night did not include that idea. The draft would not only allow the government to negotiate prices for 250 drugs in Medicare, but would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, giving it huge reach. A senior Democratic aide said that the draft was “out of date,” adding, “Nothing is being distributed to the caucus yet because the committees are still discussing.”

Ms. Pelosi’s plan would impose a large fee on companies that refuse to negotiate — equal to 75 percent of the previous year’s sales of the drug, according to the draft. But liberals may want to take an even harder line with drug companies. One competing plan, from Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would let another manufacturer produce the drug in question as a generic if a company refused to “negotiate in good faith.”

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said the speaker was reaching out widely for input.

“We continue to engage members across the caucus as the committees of jurisdiction work to develop the boldest, toughest possible bill to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans,” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160510584_bec2b2c7-2b27-4164-ae6c-6717e3285500-articleLarge Pelosi Energizes Battle to Lower Drug Prices United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on Finance Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pelosi, Nancy Medicare Law and Legislation Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

It remains to be seen if Mr. Trump, despite his earlier support for letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, will embrace such a plan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping that the mere possibility will prompt more members of his party to support a drug-pricing bill he introduced over the summer with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat.

“I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position,” he said of his bill in an interview Monday, “because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.”

The House has already passed a package of three bipartisan drug-pricing provisions that restrict anti-competitive behaviors by pharmaceutical companies, but they were bundled with another measure that would also reverse Trump administration policies intended to undermine the Affordable Care Act. That turned House Republicans against it and ensured it would go nowhere in the Senate.

The Finance Committee leadership’s bill cleared the panel in late July — but with most Republican members against it. Republicans were particularly concerned with a requirement that drug companies pay rebates to Medicare if they raised prices faster than inflation, which some called government price-fixing.

The bill would also create an out-of-pocket limit for Medicare drug costs, fixing it initially at $3,100 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. The committee estimated the bill would save the federal government $92 billion over a decade, with Medicare beneficiaries saving an additional $31 billion over the same period. The package has support from the White House, and Mr. Grassley said he was optimistic that House Democrats, with whom he has been communicating, would move similar legislation, perhaps improving the chances that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, would allow a vote on the finance bill.

But opposition is mounting. One conservative advocacy group, the dark-money American Future Fund, has run ads praising Republican members of the Finance Committee who voted against the bill, warning it would usher in “socialist price controls.”

Another bipartisan team, Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, introduced a bill in June that is largely focused on ending so-called surprise medical billing.

But their plan also addresses drug prices. One proposal takes aim at the games pharmaceutical manufacturers play to protect their monopolies and market share. Another seeks to ban so-called pay-for-delay deals in which brand-name manufacturers pay generic companies to delay bringing lower-cost drugs to market. Yet another would tinker with the exclusive six-month sales period that a generic drug maker gets when it is the first to market after a drug loses its patent protection.

The health committee approved the package overwhelmingly in June, but Mr. Alexander and Ms. Murray said a Senate vote would be delayed. The bill is facing stiff opposition from doctor and hospital groups because of the piece addressing surprise billing, which happens when patients unwittingly get hospital care from doctors who are not in their insurance network. In an interview Monday, Mr. Grassley said the hope was to combine the finance and health committee bills, and others that address high health care costs, in some form by year’s end.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” President Trump told reporters in early July.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Over the summer, the president suffered setbacks on his own efforts to address drug costs: He killed a proposal that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries out of concern that it would raise insurance premiums heading into his re-election campaign. And a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads.

For the past few months, White House budget officials have been honing a more ambitious plan to base Medicare payments for certain drugs administered by doctors on the much lower prices that other countries pay, which the administration has said could bring down prices by 30 percent.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” Mr. Trump told reporters in July. “Why should other nations like Canada — why should other nations pay much less than us? They’ve taken advantage of the system for a long time.”

Perhaps to court Mr. Trump’s support, Ms. Pelosi’s plan includes essentially the same idea, directing the government to base drug prices to the average paid in six other countries.

Despite intense industry lobbying against the idea and opposition from influential members of Congress, including Senator Grassley, it seems most likely that the administration will at least release a proposed rule. In a recent meeting with reporters, Seema Verma, the head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, called it “a top priority for my department,” adding, “We are fast and furious on it.”

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Apple Launches Video Streaming Service For $4.99 A Month

Westlake Legal Group ap_19253627172550_wide-b07553bc4e429d853182927e1ca540916b0526f3-s1100-c15 Apple Launches Video Streaming Service For $4.99 A Month

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces details of the company’s new Apple TV+ video streaming service Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif. Tony Avelar/AP hide caption

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Westlake Legal Group  Apple Launches Video Streaming Service For $4.99 A Month

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces details of the company’s new Apple TV+ video streaming service Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif.

Tony Avelar/AP

Apple is entering the video streaming race, taking on Netflix, Amazon, Disney and others with a monthly subscription of $4.99. The company also announced three new iPhones, even as their sales have been slowing.

The new Apple TV+ service was previously announced, but on Tuesday the company revealed the low price and the launch date, Nov. 1, with nine original titles, including The Morning Show with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

Apple said it will offer one year for free to customers who buy a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod Touch. An Apple TV+ subscription can be shared with up to six family members.

Apple’s new service costs considerably less than Netflix, which has a standard subscription of $8.99 per month. The Disney+ service debuts Nov. 12 at $6.99 per month.

As expected, Apple also unveiled its new iPhone 11, which will start at $699, and the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, starting at $999 and $1,099, respectively. All three phones will feature improved cameras and higher video capabilities.

Along with the new streaming service, Tuesday’s announcements, which included a $4.99-per-month for its new Apple Arcade gaming service, represent a continuing shift in the importance of services to Apple’s bottom line.

For years, the iPhone represented the majority of Apple’s sales, but the company has seen the numbers drop. In the third quarter, iPhone sales equaled less than half of Apple’s revenues — down from 63% four year ago. China isn’t just where iPhones are made; it’s also one of the top markets for the device. But amid China’s economic slowdown, Apple’s sales in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong fell 19% in the third quarter from a year earlier.

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Israel’s Netanyahu Announces Plan To Annex West Bank’s Jordan Valley

Westlake Legal Group 5d77ffce2300001005512b74 Israel’s Netanyahu Announces Plan To Annex West Bank’s Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention on Tuesday to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank, if he wins a closely contested election just a week away.

Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat called the planned move a war crime under international law governing occupied territory. Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war and Palestinians seek to make the area part of a future state.

Israeli political commentators saw Netanyahu’s declaration, in a speech broadcast live on Israel’s main TV channels, as a bid to siphon support away from far-right rivals who have long advocated annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the JordanValley and the northern Dead Sea,” Netanyahu said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli TV channels, calling the area”Israel’s eastern border.”

That step, he said, could be taken “immediately after the election if I receive a clear mandate to do so from you, the citizens of Israel.”

Arab League foreign ministers condemned Netanyahu’s plan, saying it would undermine any chance of progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. The main Palestinian city is Jericho, with around 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities.

Fighting for his political life after an inconclusive election in April, Netanyahu also reaffirmed a pledge to annex all of the settlements Israel has established in the territory. But he said that broader step could take longer and required “maximum coordination” with Washington, Israel’s close ally.

“Out of respect for President Trump and great faith in our friendship, I will await applying sovereignty until release of the president’s political plan,” he said, referring to along-awaited blueprint from Washington for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The U.S. plan, Netanyahu reiterated, would likely be presented very soon after Israel goes to the polls on Sept. 17. Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party and in office for the past decade, failed to form a governing coalition following a national ballot in April.

“There is no change in United States policy at this time,” a Trump administration official said when asked whether the White House supported Netanyahu’s move.

“We will release our Vision for Peace after the Israeli election and work to determine the best path forward to bring long sought security, opportunity and stability to the region.”

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in early May that he hoped Israel would take a hard look at President Donald Trump’s upcoming Middle East peace proposal before “proceeding with any plan” to annex West Bank settlements.

In an interview with the New York Times in June, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that “under certain circumstances” Israel has the “right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

‘PERPETUAL CONFLICT’

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said on Twitter after Netanyahu’s announcement that the Israeli leader was out to impose a “greater Israel on all of historical Palestine and (carry) out an ethnic cleansing agenda.”

“All bets are off. Dangerous aggression. Perpetual conflict,” she wrote.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014 and Palestinians have called Trump’s proposal dead in the water, even before its publication, citing what they see as his pro-Israel policies.

Last March, just before Israel’s previous election, Trump — in a move widely seen as an attempt to bolster Netanyahu — recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 conflict.

“It’s an election stunt and not a very impressive one because it’s so transparent,” Yair Lapid, co-leader of the centrist Blue and White Party, said in a statement about Netanyahu’s plan.

Blue and White, led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, and Likud are running neck and neck in opinion polls.

The Jordan Valley, which Palestinians seek for the eastern perimeter of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stretches from the Dead Sea in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north. Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war.

The 2,4000-square-kilometer (926.65-square-mile) valley accounts for nearly 30 percent of the territory in the West Bank. Israel has long said it intends to maintain military control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Ed Osmond and Howard Goller)

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DOJ asks Supreme Court to allow enforcement of Trump’s asylum restrictions

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6060905911001_6060901895001-vs DOJ asks Supreme Court to allow enforcement of Trump’s asylum restrictions Shannon Bream fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bill Mears article 300b5284-35b9-5e14-8f4c-924424e0cd03

The Supreme Court is considering an emergency appeal from the Justice Department that would allow them to enforce, for now, the Trump administration’s ban on asylum for anyone trying to cross the southern border by transiting through a third country.

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a supplemental brief with the justices, criticizing a federal judge’s Monday order reimposing a nationwide injunction that effectively blocks enforcement of the policy across the four states along the U-S Mexico border. That injunction would remain in place while the case is being litigated in the courts.

CALIFORNIA FEDERAL JUDGE REIMPOSES NATIONWIDE BAN ON TRUMP ASYLUM POLICY, DEFYING APPEALS COURT

The government’s new brief warned the court that unless the nationwide injunction is lifted, it “would severely disrupt the orderly administration of an already overburdened asylum system.”

That federal district court order follows a federal appeals court decision last month narrowing the scope of that injunction to just California. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups then went back to the district court seeking to have the nationwide injunction reimposed, which the district court in California did on Monday, defying the appeals court.

“While nationwide injunctions are not the ‘general rule,’ they are appropriate ‘where such breadth [is] necessary to remedy a plaintiff’s harm,’” U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar wrote. “This is such a case. Accordingly, and for the reasons set forth above, the Court grants the [immigrant rights] Organizations’ motion to restore the nationwide scope of the injunction.”

The Trump administration in July announced the sweeping new policy tightening restrictions for asylum seekers. The new rule requires most migrants entering through America’s southern border to first seek asylum in one of the countries they traversed – whether in Mexico, in Central America, or elsewhere on their journey. In most cases, only if that application is denied would they then be able to seek asylum in the United States.

Monday’s ruling is another defeat for the administration on its asylum policies, and a win for immigrant rights groups.

The ACLU’s Lee Gelernt celebrated the order Monday, saying, “The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.”

The White House ripped the ruling.

“Immigration and border security policy cannot be run by any single district court judge who decides to issue a nationwide injunction,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6060905911001_6060901895001-vs DOJ asks Supreme Court to allow enforcement of Trump’s asylum restrictions Shannon Bream fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bill Mears article 300b5284-35b9-5e14-8f4c-924424e0cd03   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6060905911001_6060901895001-vs DOJ asks Supreme Court to allow enforcement of Trump’s asylum restrictions Shannon Bream fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bill Mears article 300b5284-35b9-5e14-8f4c-924424e0cd03

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