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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 169)

Couple Strikes Internet Gold With Failed Engagement Photos

Westlake Legal Group 5db06ed7210000ae2534ad51 Couple Strikes Internet Gold With Failed Engagement Photos

If this couple can survive their engagement photos, they can probably get through anything.

On Saturday, Collin Hewett and Alyssa Snodsmith decided to celebrate their planned June 2020 wedding date with some engagement photos at Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville, Illinois.

Snodsmith, 24, was inspired by a photo she found on Pinterest of a man lovingly pouring Champagne into the mouth of his betrothed.

“We just thought it was fun. It kinda just matches us,” Snodsmith told BuzzFeed. “We just like to have fun.”

But the couple’s actual engagement photos turned out to be a long way from what they envisioned, as Hewett, 23, explained on Twitter.

Hewett takes full blame for the Champagne spillage.

“I was trying so hard to pour it slowly that when it started to kind of trickle out at the end, I over-adjusted and it came pouring out all over her,” he told Time.

Snodsmith told EliteDaily the spill happened 10 minutes into the picture-taking session, “so I thought my makeup and hair was going to be ruined for the rest of the photo shoot. But it wasn’t!”

Fortunately, she brought a second outfit!

Of course, photo fails are fail-safe on Twitter. Accordingly, Hewett’s post made a big splash, being liked nearly a half-million times since he posted the pics on Sunday.

The reaction was strong enough that Snodsmith chimed in a few hours later.

Snodsmith said she’s happy the couple’s bubbly moment is immortalized forever, and promised the pictures “absolutely” will be framed in their future home.

“Knowing our friends and family, they will probably broadcast them at our bridal showers and our wedding,” she told EliteDaily.

But don’t expect Hewett and Snodsmith to reenact the Champagne photos when their wedding takes place next summer in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“I have a really nice dress picked out,” Snodsmith told BuzzFeed.

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

Jason Kidd gets ripped on social media for leaving out Lakers coach in tweet to team

When Jason Kidd joined Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel’s staff in the summer, there was immediate speculation that the former NBA point guard was eying a bigger role with the team.

Kidd’s motives were questioned again Tuesday when he tweeted a photo of himself with some players from the Lakers, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso. The photo included a tiny shot of Vogel over Caruso’s right shoulder.

KLAY THOMPSON’S RETURN TO WARRIORS UNCLEAR AS HE RECOVERS FROM TORN ACL, STEVE KERR SAYS

“A new chapter of @Lakers basketball begins tonight,” Kidd tweeted ahead of the Lakers’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

NBA fans immediately came after Kidd for the post.

ZION WILLIAMSON SPECULATION OVER MENISCUS INJURY ‘ASININE,’ PELICANS GENERAL MANAGER SAYS

Kidd has previously coached the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

He was traded by the Nets to the Bucks after one season for two draft picks.

In four seasons with the Bucks, he was 139-152 and was fired during the 2017-18 season. He only led the Bucks to two playoff appearances in that span.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

He then joined the Lakers in the offseason.

Westlake Legal Group PI-NBA-jason-kidd-070214.vresize.94-b8039c3c523ef410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ Jason Kidd gets ripped on social media for leaving out Lakers coach in tweet to team Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nba/los-angeles-lakers fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc article 0d417695-2b18-5f1c-bd97-dd7477cebe57   Westlake Legal Group PI-NBA-jason-kidd-070214.vresize.94-b8039c3c523ef410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ Jason Kidd gets ripped on social media for leaving out Lakers coach in tweet to team Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nba/los-angeles-lakers fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc article 0d417695-2b18-5f1c-bd97-dd7477cebe57

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

GOP protest halts House Democratic impeachment deposition of Defense official Laura Cooper

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close GOP protest halts House Democratic impeachment deposition of Defense official Laura Cooper

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

WASHINGTON – Three dozen Republican lawmakers protested Wednesday how House Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and halted the testimony of Defense Department official Laura Cooper.

Cooper, who serves as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, appeared behind closed doors before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees. She was expected to answer questions about how military aid was withheld from Ukraine as Trump sought the investigation of his political rival. She didn’t reply to questions from reporters as she arrived.

Under House rules, only members of the committees and their staffers have been allowed in the private sessions that the committees have been conducting for weeks in a secure room in the Capitol complex. Republicans – mostly from committees that weren’t allowed to attend the session – gave speeches in the hallway outside the secure room complaining about the lack of access and transparency. Then they demanded entry.

A chaotic scene unfolded as Republicans pushed through the confines of the Capitol complex basement, to make their way into the secure room. Several Capitol police took up posts outside the secure room afterward, as a reporters waited outside for lawmakers to come back out of the room.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left the room with Cooper during the commotion. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., told reporters that Cooper’s testimony had been temporarily halted in the “short term” because of the protest, but “it will continue.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said Republicans were trying to enter the a secure area while carrying electronics, which aren’t allowed, and despite not being on the relevant committees.

“They also brought in their cell phones, which is a violation, they violated house rules by trying to crash committees,” Lieu said.

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-N.C. said none of the members took photos. “That would be illegal,” he said.

The Republican protest occurred in the Capitol Visitor Center, a complex of underground offices adjoining the Capitol Building, where the depositions have been held. Republicans denounced the inquiry as a “charade” held by Schiff in the “bunker of the basement of the Capitol,” in the words of Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, one of the Republicans who isn’t on the key committees and who later attempted to enter the room, said special forces soldiers abroad were “ashamed” of the process for distracting from other issues. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said the impeachment process was “unconscionable” and demanded a House vote to authorize the inquiry.

Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., who sits on the Oversight and Reform Committee eligible to participate, said Democrats were ignoring the founding principles of democracy by meeting behind closed doors.

“We need the house to vote on this and it must be done in transparency,” Green said.

The second-ranking House Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, slapped Jordan on the back as he went up to criticize proceedings at the podium, saying “go get ‘em, buddy.”

“The American people understand fairness and they instinctively know that what is happening here is not fair,” Jordan said.

The protest was similar to smaller incidents conducted last week by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Congressional investigators want to ask Cooper, who oversees Ukraine policy, about why the administration withheld military aid at a time when Trump was urging Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told lawmakers Tuesday about the linkage between the aid and investigations. 

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., told reporters that Taylor’s testimony was a “sea change” that could “accelerate” the impeachment process.

Cooper’s appearance wasn’t certain. Last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper notified congressional chairmen that he would not cooperate with a subpoena for documents from the Defense Department. The White House has vowed not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, and has called it a “partisan” effort and a “coup.”

But the State Department also directed Taylor not to testify, and he appeared under subpoena.

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/23/impeachment-defense-official-laura-cooper-summoned-ukraine-aid/4064408002/

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Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports

Westlake Legal Group David-Ross-Reuters Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/mlb/chicago-cubs fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc article 4c9a301e-d2b6-5e43-a68c-8c5305d40f65

The Chicago Cubs have reportedly hired David Ross to become their next manager.

Ross, a former catcher who won the World Series while with the Cubs in 2016, had been a special assistant with the organization since prior to the start of the 2017 season and had also served as an analyst with ESPN.

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ESPN Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago first reported that Ross, the frontrunner for the Cubs job, was going to be named manager this week. MLB Network reported Wednesday the deal was done.

Ross, 42, spent 15 seasons in the major leagues playing for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and Cubs. While he only appeared in more than 100 games once during his career, he became a valuable asset as a backup catcher and clubhouse leader.

HOUSTON ASTROS’ AJ HINCH ‘VERY DISAPPOINTED’ OVER REPORT OF EXEC’S ALLEGED ROBERTO OSUNA COMMENTS

Ross holds a special place in the hearts of Cubs fans. He became the oldest person–at 39–to hit a home run in a World Series, doing so against the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

Ross has a long history with the president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ front office and many of the players on the current roster – some of whom were his teammates three years ago.

“We’re not going to drag this out any longer than it needs to be, but we also want to be thorough,” Epstein said at the end of the season, according to MLB.com. “In the interview process, you want to make sure you don’t end up with the candidate who interviews the best. You want to end up with the candidate that’s going to be the best manager.”

He added: “That can be nuanced. We’re going to do the best we can in that process, but we’re certainly not going to hesitate.”

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

Ross will take over a team that underachieved in 2018. The Joe Maddon-led squad was 84-78 and barely missed the postseason. Maddon left at the end of the season and swiftly secured a job managing the Los Angeles Angels.

Westlake Legal Group David-Ross-Reuters Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/mlb/chicago-cubs fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc article 4c9a301e-d2b6-5e43-a68c-8c5305d40f65   Westlake Legal Group David-Ross-Reuters Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/mlb/chicago-cubs fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc article 4c9a301e-d2b6-5e43-a68c-8c5305d40f65

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

Scott Israel, ex-sheriff blamed in Parkland shooting, is fighting lawmakers to get his job back

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Scott Israel, ex-sheriff blamed in Parkland shooting, is fighting lawmakers to get his job back

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School held a moment of silence to mark the first anniversary of the shooting that killed 17 people on their school’s campus. USA TODAY

The Florida state Senate on Wednesday will decide the fate of former Broward County sheriff Scott Israel, fighting for his job after being ousted and accused of dereliction of duty following the deadly Parkland school shooting.

A special master appointed by the state Senate president found that Israel should be reinstated. 

“There was a case to be made, it just wasn’t made,” the special master, former GOP state Rep. Dudley Goodlette, told the Senate Rules Committee on Monday in Tallahassee.

However, following a 10-hour hearing, the panel voted 9-7 along party lines to recommend Israel’s firing be upheld. The vote did not bode well for Israel, a Democrat, since the Senate is GOP-controlled.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel shortly after taking office in January, almost one year after a teen walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018 and opened fire. Seventeen people were killed and more than a dozen were wounded.

Consider this:  Did lax disciplinary policies cause the Parkland massacre?

DeSantis accused Israel of incompetence, asserting that “the massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the Sheriff’s Department.” DeSantis and other foes of the sheriff cited what they called a failure to properly investigate threats made by the shooter prior to the rampage. They also criticized the actions of deputies who failed to enter the school while the carnage was taking place.

Israel appealed to the Senate, arguing there was no grounds for his dismissal. He stressed that Broward County saw a yearly drop in violent crime under his leadership and accused DeSantis of firing him for political reasons.

The Senate panel weighed testimony from Goodlette, lawyers representing Israel and DeSantis, and family members of shooting victims.

Tony Montalto lost his 14-year-old daughter, Gina, to the shooting. He suggested that some of those who died could have survived if they had been helped immediately. And he said families are united in support of Israel’s firing.

“We didn’t understand the magnitude of the failures by law enforcement,” said Ryan Petty, whose daughter, Alaina, died in the massacre. “The testament to that failure is 17 dead children and teachers, 17 more with life-altering injuries – a burden we must bear forever.”

Israel says he will run for sheriff again next year whatever happens. And he says Broward voters angry at the politics involved in his firing will help propel him to victory.

“I want to get back to working with the incredible men and women of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office,” he said in July. “I want to get back to my communities.”

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Scott Israel, ex-sheriff blamed in Parkland shooting, is fighting lawmakers to get his job back

Sheriff Scott Israel says his office received about 20 calls in the past few years about the suspect accused of killing 17 people at a high school in Florida. He told a news conference that his office would be investigating these previous calls. AP

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/10/23/scott-israel-job-decided-florida-lawmakers-parkland-school-shooting/2452816001/

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5 Movies To Watch To Get You In The Halloween Spirit

I love Halloween. I love costumes, trick-or-treating and the entire spooky season. But I hate being scared. Each October, I avoid haunted houses, creepy yard decorations and the scary movies all the television networks like to rerun.

Thankfully, there are also Halloween-themed movies that make me laugh and that are as seen as classics in the Halloween genre, rivaling even the most frightening films.

Now is the time to have a few cozy nights in with candy, cider, all the pumpkin-flavored things and, of course, the perfect Halloween movie. But if you’re also not into scary movies, fear not! Below are some of my favorite Halloween movies ― ones I used to watch as a kid that still put me in the Halloween spirit today. Treat yourself to a blast from the past and check them out.

Spooky spoilers ahead!

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Let’s start with a classic. It just isn’t Halloween without a “Hocus Pocus” viewing. This movie is hilarious, star-studded and also kind of dark. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy star as witchy sisters. They aren’t friendly witches, either; they are devil-worshipping, child-murdering, broomstick-riding witches who are intent on staying young forever by sucking the souls out of Salem, Massachusetts’ children.

“Hocus Pocus” has become a cult classic since its release and a must-watch for the Halloween season. Despite being a straight-to-VHS film in the ’90s, the graphics in this movie are actually pretty good. Cat Thackery Binx is far from cringe-inducing to look at. And the spellbook’s wandering eye looks frighteningly realistic. Also Midler’s creepy rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” is as memorable as the original. Just don’t listen to it for too long, or you may find yourself dancing forever.

Scariest moments: I get chills when that spellbook opens its creepy eye. And, you know, sucking the souls out of children.

Where to watch: Rent in HD from YouTube or Amazon.

“Halloweentown” is about, you guessed it: a town where it’s Halloween all the time. Screen legend Debbie Reynolds stars as Aggie, a powerful but friendly witch who is hoping to teach her grandchildren all about magic. It’s a whimsical Halloween classic filled with broomstick flying lessons, jack-o’-lanterns and kooky residents. But an evil “bad thing” is threatening all of Halloweentown and Aggie’s family unless she can cast a spell in time.

“Halloweentown” was one of the first Disney Channel Original Movies ever; it became an instant classic and spawned four sequels. It’s a staple for any Halloween-themed movie night.

Scariest moments: Billy the skeleton cab driver is kind of creepy. How is he speaking without a tongue or driving without eyes? How?!

Where to watch: Disney Now subscription or buy from YouTube or Amazon.

Disney Channel Original Movie connoisseurs will agree that “Don’t Look Under the Bed” is the scariest made-for-TV film ever to grace our screens. Filled with twists, turns, jump scares and some gross moments, this film is so scary, it was one of the first Disney Channel movies to receive a PG rating for scenes that may irreparably scar a child’s psyche.

In this movie, the Boogeyman is real and wreaking havoc on Frances, her little brother Darwin and their small town of Middleburg. Their childhood imaginary friend, Larry, arrives just in time to help put things back to normal. But Larry may be in danger himself if they don’t defeat the Boogeyman fast enough.

“Don’t Look Under the Bed” is just as dramatic as it is spooky, with the main characters having to grapple with themes like terminal illness, peer pressure and the ramifications of trying to grow up too fast. It was also one of the first Disney Channel Original Movies to prominently feature a Black main character (though, according to the film’s director, some of the folks at Disney had a problem with the casting). Definitely check it out but be prepared to sleep with some lights on.

Scariest moment: When sweet Larry transforms into a boogeyman, it’s both heartbreaking and terrifying. Those eyes, those hands and those teeth still give me nightmares.

Where to watch: Disney Now subscription or rent from YouTube or Amazon.

Something is amiss at the Megaplex, a large and beloved movie theater that’s the center of this TV film. Just as it’s preparing for the premiere of “Midnight Mayhem,” the old theater gets its own dose of mayhem as screenings, popcorn machines and moviegoers are terrorized by a mysterious phantom who’s haunting the cinema. It’s a creepy whodunit that will keep you guessing until the end.

Scariest moment: Every time the “phantom” shows up with that creepy mask and the scary organ music plays, I jump a little bit.

Where to watch: Disney Now subscription or rent from Amazon.

Westlake Legal Group 5db068372100006d2534ad45 5 Movies To Watch To Get You In The Halloween Spirit

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/22/entertainment/its-the-great-pumpkin-charlie-brown-trnd/index.html

Linus and Sally think they spot the mysterious Great Pumpkin in this still from the Charles Schulz classic.

No Halloween movie marathon would be complete without the Peanuts characters. Join Linus, Lucy, Sally and, of course, Charlie Brown as they try to have the ultimate Halloween night full of trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples and waiting for the mysterious Great Pumpkin to make an appearance and bring toys to all the good and sincere boys and girls. The aesthetically pleasing autumn animations, Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful score, Linus’ innocent belief and Charlie Brown’s adorable hopelessness combine to create the perfect treat of a movie to accompany any Halloween candy.

Scariest moment: I cover my eyes every time Charlie Brown runs up to kick the football Lucy is holding. It’s so hard to watch, even though you know what’s going to happen.

Where to watch: Rent from YouTube or VUDU, or purchase on Amazon.

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

Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports

Westlake Legal Group David-Ross-Reuters Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports

The Chicago Cubs have reportedly hired David Ross to become their next manager.

Ross, a former catcher who won the World Series while with the Cubs in 2016, had been a special assistant with the organization since prior to the start of the 2017 season and had also served as an analyst with ESPN.

MLB UMPIRE JOE WEST SUES EX-CATCHER PAUL LO DUCA OVER BRIBERY CLAIMS

ESPN Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago first reported that Ross, the frontrunner for the Cubs job, was going to be named manager this week. MLB Network reported Wednesday the deal was done.

Ross, 42, spent 15 seasons in the major leagues playing for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and Cubs. While he only appeared in more than 100 games once during his career, he became a valuable asset as a backup catcher and clubhouse leader.

HOUSTON ASTROS’ AJ HINCH ‘VERY DISAPPOINTED’ OVER REPORT OF EXEC’S ALLEGED ROBERTO OSUNA COMMENTS

Ross holds a special place in the hearts of Cubs fans. He became the oldest person–at 39–to hit a home run in a World Series, doing so against the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

Ross has a long history with the president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ front office and many of the players on the current roster – some of whom were his teammates three years ago.

“We’re not going to drag this out any longer than it needs to be, but we also want to be thorough,” Epstein said at the end of the season, according to MLB.com. “In the interview process, you want to make sure you don’t end up with the candidate who interviews the best. You want to end up with the candidate that’s going to be the best manager.”

He added: “That can be nuanced. We’re going to do the best we can in that process, but we’re certainly not going to hesitate.”

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Ross will take over a team that underachieved in 2018. The Joe Maddon-led squad was 84-78 and barely missed the postseason. Maddon left at the end of the season and swiftly secured a job managing the Los Angeles Angels.

Westlake Legal Group David-Ross-Reuters Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports   Westlake Legal Group David-Ross-Reuters Chicago Cubs hire David Ross as manager: reports

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More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says

More than 100 Islamic State militants who were being held in Kurdish prisons in Syria are now on the loose following Turkey’s invasion there, President Trump’s Special Representative for Syria Engagement revealed Wednesday.

James Jeffrey’s disturbing admission comes as Russian forces moved into Syria Wednesday to conduct joint patrols with Turkish troops along its border.

TRUMP ANNOUNCES ‘PERMANENT CEASEFIRE’ IN SYRIA BETWEEN TURKEY AND KURDS; LIFTS SANCTIONS ON ANKARA

“Let me ask you this: How many ISIS detainees have escaped? Does the U.S. have an idea where these individuals are?” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., asked Jeffrey during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

“We would say that the number is now over 100,” he responded. “We do not know where they are.”

TRUMP’S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO SYRIA SAYS US WITHDRAWAL DID NOT PROMPT INVASION BY TURKEY

Westlake Legal Group turkey-soldiers More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox news fnc/world fnc d5598b95-f90f-5350-a367-acb6122a0554 article

Turkish soldiers secure the Syrian town of Ras al Ayn, in northeastern Syria on Wednesday. (AP/DHA)

Jeffrey added that “almost all” of the prisons that the Kurdish forces have been guarding are secured and that U.S. officials are monitoring the situation “as best as we can.”

Before Turkey started carrying out a military operation in Syria on Oct. 9, Kurdish officials had been warning that such a prison breakout was possible.

The Kurds are estimated to be holding around 12,000 militants captured in the war against ISIS.

Jeffrey’s admission came hours before President Trump announced that conditions have been met between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for what he called a ” permanent ceasefire” between the two sides and that the United States is lifting sanctions on Ankara that were implemented following the invasion of northern Syria.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said that while a “permanent ceasefire” will be tough to maintain in the volatile region, he hopes that it will last and end the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

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“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said. “This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else…we’ve done something very, very special”

Westlake Legal Group turkey-soldiers More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox news fnc/world fnc d5598b95-f90f-5350-a367-acb6122a0554 article   Westlake Legal Group turkey-soldiers More than 100 ISIS prisoners in Syria are on the loose following Turkey’s invasion, US envoy says Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox news fnc/world fnc d5598b95-f90f-5350-a367-acb6122a0554 article

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Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by August, Undermining Trump Defense

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-aid-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by August, Undermining Trump Defense Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D United States Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Office of Management and Budget (US) Mulvaney, Mick Giuliani, Rudolph W Defense Department

KIEV, Ukraine — To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze a $391 million military aid package to Ukraine was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know the assistance had been blocked.

Following testimony by William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the freezing of the aid was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand for the investigations, the president took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to approvingly quote a Republican member of Congress saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

The problem was not a bureaucratic glitch, the Ukrainians were told then. To address it, they were advised, they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the interviews and records.

The timing of the communications about the issue, which have not previously been reported, shows that Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than United States and Ukrainian officials had acknowledged. And it means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations being sought by Mr. Trump.

The communications did not explicitly link the assistance freeze to the push by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani for the investigations. But in the communications, officials from the United States and Ukraine discuss the need to bring in the same senior aide to Mr. Zelensky who had been dealing with Mr. Giuliani about Mr. Trump’s demands for the investigations, signaling a possible link between the matters.

Word of the aid freeze got to the Ukrainians at a moment when Mr. Zelensky, who had taken office a little more than two months earlier after a campaign in which he promised to root out corruption and stand up to Russia, was off balance and uncertain how to stabilize his country’s relationship with the United States.

Days earlier, he had listened to Mr. Trump implore him on a half-hour call to pursue investigations touching on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Zelensky’s efforts to secure a visit to the White House — a symbolic affirmation of support he considered vital at a time when Russia continued to menace Ukraine’s eastern border — seemed to be stalled. American policy toward Ukraine was being guided not by career professionals but by Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Taylor told the impeachment investigators that it was only on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw between Mr. Zelensky and Vice President Mike Pence that the Ukrainians were directly told the aid would be dependent on Mr. Zelensky giving Mr. Trump something he wanted: an investigation into Burisma, the company that had employed Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son.

American and Ukrainian officials have asserted that Ukraine learned that the aid had been held up only around the time it became public through a news story at the end of August.

The aid freeze is getting additional scrutiny from the impeachment investigators on Wednesday as they question Laura K. Cooper, a deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. This month, Democrats subpoenaed both the Defense Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget for records related to the assistance freeze.

As Mr. Taylor’s testimony suggests, the Ukrainians did not confront the Trump administration about the freeze until they were told in September that it was linked to the demand for the investigations. The Ukrainians appear to have initially been hopeful that the problem could be resolved quietly and were reluctant to risk a public clash at a delicate time in relations between the two nations.

The disclosure that the Ukrainians knew of the freeze by early August corroborates, and provides additional details about, a claim made by a C.I.A. officer in his whistle-blower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.

“As of early August, I heard from U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned of it,” the anonymous whistle-blower wrote. The complainant said that he learned that the instruction to freeze the assistance “had come directly from the president,” and said it “might have a connection with the overall effort to pressure Ukrainian leadership.”

Publicly, Mr. Zelensky has insisted he felt no pressure to pursue the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

“There was no blackmail,” Mr. Zelensky said at a news conference earlier this month. He cited as evidence that he “had no idea the military aid was held up” at the time of his July 25 call with Mr. Trump, when Mr. Trump pressed him for investigations into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

Mr. Zelensky has said he knew about the hold up of the military aid before his meeting in Poland on Sept. 1 with Mr. Pence, but has been vague about exactly when he learned about it. “When I did find out, I raised it with Pence at a meeting in Warsaw,” he said this month.

In conversations over several days in early August, a Pentagon official discussed the assistance freeze directly with a Ukrainian government official, according to records and interviews. The Pentagon official suggested that Mr. Mulvaney had been pushing for the assistance to be withheld, and urged the Ukrainians to reach out to him.

The Pentagon official described Mr. Mulvaney’s motivations only in broad terms but made clear that the same Ukrainian official, Andriy Yermak, who had been negotiating with Mr. Giuliani over the investigations and a White House visit being sought by Mr. Zelensky should also reach out to Mr. Mulvaney over the hold on military aid.

A senior administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue said on Monday that Mr. Mulvaney “had absolutely no communication with the Ukranians about this issue.”

Ukrainian officials had grown suspicious that the assistance was in jeopardy because formal talks with the Pentagon on its release had concluded by June without any apparent problem.

In talks during the spring with American officials, the Ukrainians had resolved conditions for the release of the assistance, and believed everything was on schedule, according to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s former vice prime minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration.

But by early August, the Ukrainians were struggling to get clear answers from their American contacts about the status of the assistance, according to American officials familiar with the Ukrainians’ efforts.

In the days and weeks after top Ukrainian officials were alerted to the aid freeze, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were working with Mr. Giuliani to draft a statement for Mr. Zelensky to deliver that would commit him to pursuing the investigations, according to text messages between the men turned over to the House impeachment investigators.

The text messages between Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and the top Zelensky aide did not mention the hold up of the aid. It was only in September, after the Warsaw meeting, that Mr. Taylor wrote in a text message to Mr. Sondland, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

After being informed on Sept. 1 in Warsaw that the aid would be released only if Mr. Zelensky agreed to the investigations, Ukrainian officials, including their national security adviser and defense minister, were troubled by their inability to get answers to questions about the freeze from United States officials, Mr. Taylor testified.

Through the summer, Mr. Zelensky had been noncommittal about the demands from Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Giuliani for a public commitment to the investigations. On Sept. 5, Mr. Taylor testified, Mr. Zelensky met in Kiev with Senators Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut.

Mr. Zelensky’s first question, Mr. Taylor said, was about the security aid. The senators responded, Mr. Taylor said, that Mr. Zelensky “should not jeopardize bipartisan support by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics.”

But Mr. Sondland was still pressing for a commitment from Mr. Zelensky, and was pressing him to do a CNN interview in which he would talk about pursuing the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Zelensky never did the interview and never made the public commitment sought by the White House, although a Ukrainian prosecutor later said he would “audit” a case involving the owner of the company that paid Hunter Biden as a board member.

Mr. Giuliani has said he had nothing to do with the assistance freeze and did not talk to Mr. Trump or “anybody in the government” about it. “I didn’t know about it until I read about it in the newspaper,” he said in an interview last week.

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Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan

Don’t make Justin turn around and say “Bye Bye Bye,” Jessica!

On Tuesday’s episode of “The Tonight Show,” host Jimmy Fallon jokingly confronted Jessica Biel about an old interview where she admitted she was not a fan of the boy band her husband, Justin Timberlake, fronted in.

Fallon asked Biel if she was an ‘NSYNC fan when the band first exploded and the actress said she was not, stating that she used to be a “lame music geek” who listened to songs from theatre productions and wasn’t into pop culture music.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE OPENS UP ABOUT MEETING WIFE JESSICA BIEL FOR THE FIRST TIME

“Well, not lame, I was just listening to old-school stuff,” she clarified. “I was listening to theater productions, I was listening to ‘Rent,’ I knew every word from ‘Rent,’ I was listening to Motown… I, like, lived under a rock.”

Fallon then gave Biel a walk down memory lane by showing her a clip of an interview she did in 1999.

“Jimmy. Jimmy… no…” Biel said, stunned. “No, please.”

Fallon revealed that his writers managed to dig up an old sit-down chat with Biel’s from “those times when ‘NSYNC was around,” and it was clear from her stunned face that she was not looking forward to the walk down memory lane.

Fallon went on to play a 1999 interview in which her younger self did not seem impressed with ‘NSYNC.

“To be honest, I don’t really listen,” she said in the interview when asked if she’s a fan of the boy band. “I mean, I know of them, of course, and I’ve heard of them and I’ve heard the music. I don’t think I own any of their CDs. I’m not a huge fan. But, I mean, cool, I guess.”

“Oh my God, you’re in so much trouble,” Fallon said while laughing at Biel’s reaction to the clip.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, MISSY ELLIOTT GET HONORARY DOCTORATES

Westlake Legal Group jessica-biel-display Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article

Jessica Biel in 1999 (Getty)

Biel laughed at her teenage self and her attitude in the video, saying “I am so screwed now.”

“Now you probably know some ‘NSYNC songs, right?” Fallon asked. “Not really,” the “Limetown” actress replied.

She then went on to reveal that while playing truth or dare with friends, she was faced with a dare to sing an ‘NSYNC song. It did not go well.

“I only know three words: ‘Bye, Bye, Bye,’ ” she joked.

Westlake Legal Group rt_jessicabiel Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article

Jessica Biel with husband Justin Timberlake. (Reuters)

Timberlake ended up having to step in to help his wife out.

“Justin coached me through the chorus, the verse …,” Biel recalled. “It was humiliating.”

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“The Illusionist” actress, who made an appearance on the late-night show to promote her new Facebook Watch series “Limetown,” celebrated seven years of marriage to Timberlake on Oct. 19.

The couple share son Silas, 4.

Now, the lovely power couple prides themselves on supporting each other’s careers, with Timberlake recently posting on Instagram a video of the trailer of his wife’s new show.

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“Boss lady just launched her new show #LIMETOWN. Go watch!!!! Right now! @JessicaBiel @LimetownStories @MichellePurple3,” he wrote.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-6ef405d8433a4f5db0d985d2e33cdefc Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-6ef405d8433a4f5db0d985d2e33cdefc Jessica Biel reveals she wasn’t a huge NSYNC fan Viktoria Ristanovic fox-news/entertainment/genres/late-night fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c344e6d6-8df1-5cb8-9cab-5b82bfb8c50c article

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