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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 198)

Rikers Island guards charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle in drugs

Westlake Legal Group rikersisland126 Rikers Island guards charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle in drugs Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/crime/corruption fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox news fnc/us fnc article 7ef0d4fa-6bc7-590d-bf80-ceafc2b251f6

Six New York City correctional officers and 15 others were charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle drugs to inmates at Rikers Island jail complex, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

An investigation began in early 2019 by the FBI and the NYC Department of Investigation revealed how corrections officers and others allegedly smuggled in narcotics such as marijuana and K2  (a synthetic cannabinoid), along with an unauthorized smartphone.

In total, 21 were charged — six correctional officers, five inmates and seven other individuals. Three others are still being sought. All 21 are charged with conspiring to bribe corrections officers.

DE BLASIO SAYS NYC IS ‘ON THE OFFENSIVE’ TO TACKLE HOMELESSNESS IN BIG APPLE

Investigators said they found a dozen clear plastic bags of marijuana after searching one inmate involved in the scandal.

“Contraband smuggling enterprises have long plagued City jail facilities. The arrests today are another example of a pattern in which inmates and outside conspirators identify correction officers vulnerable to corruption, and use them to carry drugs and other illegal substances into the jails,” stated DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement officers conducted surveillance and listened to recorded calls in which defendants used coded language to talk about the drugs. For example, “Oakland Raider jerseys” was code for marijuana, according to one prosecutor.

“I’m trying to get, um four ‘Oakland Raider jerseys’ [code for marijuana].  “…’Got Pink Panties’ [code for correctional officer] on the line right now, you heard? “ one inmate said to a co-conspirator in a recorded phone conversation. “Gangsta. You just gotta make it to the ‘Jungle’ [code for Brooklyn] to drop it off to them and, more or less, we lit from there.”

The corrections officers and others were expected to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

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In October, New York City lawmakers voted to close Rikers Island, one of the world’s largest jails. By 2026 the complex will be closed and replaced with four smaller jails throughout the city. The new facilities are meant to be more modern and humane and closer to the city’s courthouses.

Westlake Legal Group rikersisland126 Rikers Island guards charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle in drugs Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/crime/corruption fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox news fnc/us fnc article 7ef0d4fa-6bc7-590d-bf80-ceafc2b251f6   Westlake Legal Group rikersisland126 Rikers Island guards charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle in drugs Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/crime/corruption fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox news fnc/us fnc article 7ef0d4fa-6bc7-590d-bf80-ceafc2b251f6

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House Democrats Just Dropped a Boatload of Impeachment Documents That Look Really Bad for Trump

Westlake Legal Group yhz_pi64pRAjP1sM5K3LNZM3t-RW8vO579QUhX-czgA House Democrats Just Dropped a Boatload of Impeachment Documents That Look Really Bad for Trump r/politics

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Astros trolled by Staten Island Yankees with trash can giveaway

Westlake Legal Group Staten-Island-Yankees-Trash-Can Astros trolled by Staten Island Yankees with trash can giveaway Nick Givas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc e9f2b3fe-8512-5979-93c7-b41dde7be288 article

Following disciplinary action against the Houston Astros from Major League Baseball for their involvement in a cheating scandal, the Staten Island Yankees mocked the franchise on Tuesday by announcing a free mini trashcan giveaway, at one of their upcoming regular-season games.

The New York Yankees‘ minor league affiliate tweeted about the giveaway after news broke that Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow and team manager A.J. Hinch, were both dismissed for their role in stealing signs and signals from their opponents, during their 2017 World Series run.

Part of the system had Astros players watch the centerfield camera to decipher the opposing team’s communications, before loudly banging on a trash can in the dugout with a bat to transmit the upcoming pitch type to the batter.

“NEW GIVEAWAY ALERT,” the tweet read. “Mini Trash Can Giveaway on Thursday, September 3rd. Tickets for this game are on sale early for this week only! To purchase click the link or call us at 718-720-9265.”

ASTROS PUNISHMENT IN SIGN-STEALING SCANDAL SENDS SHOCKWAVES THROUGHOUT BASEBALL

The league had already suspended both Hinch and Luhnow from baseball for one year, prior to their termination. Luhnow denied any knowledge of the sign-stealing scheme and claimed that he was “not a cheater.”

Luhnow did, however, apologize for the “shame and embarrassment” the incident brought to the organization, according to a statement obtained by Fox News.

“I accept responsibility for rules violations that occurred on my watch as President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Astros. I apologize to the Astros organization, Astros fans, and the Houston community for the shame and embarrassment this has caused. I am deeply grateful to Jim Crane for the opportunity to lead baseball operations,” Luhnow’s statement read.

“I am not a cheater. Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity,” the statement continued. “I did not know rules were being broken. As the Commissioner set out in his statement, I did not personally direct, oversee or engage in any misconduct: The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.”

In addition to the suspensions, Houston has lost its first- and second-round draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 drafts and will be fined $5 million, according to The Athletic.

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Former bench coach turned Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora could also face harsh disciplinary action, for allegedly helping set up the sign-stealing scheme, but the MLB has yet to announce any official punishment.

During their 2017 championship run, the Astros faced the Yankees in the ALCS and defeated them in seven games, winning each matchup at home. They went on to defeat the Dodgers in the World Series, in seven games.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report 

Westlake Legal Group Staten-Island-Yankees-Trash-Can Astros trolled by Staten Island Yankees with trash can giveaway Nick Givas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc e9f2b3fe-8512-5979-93c7-b41dde7be288 article   Westlake Legal Group Staten-Island-Yankees-Trash-Can Astros trolled by Staten Island Yankees with trash can giveaway Nick Givas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb/houston-astros fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc e9f2b3fe-8512-5979-93c7-b41dde7be288 article

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Intel Committee Releases Handwritten Note On Trump’s Ukraine Plans

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a collection of new evidence obtained from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, that looks into how Giuliani communicated with the president of Ukraine on behalf of President Donald Trump

Among the documents was a previously unseen handwritten note by Parnas, a Florida businessman who helped Giuliani try to dig up dirt on one of Trump’s political rivals.

The note read: “Get Zalensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.”

Westlake Legal Group 5e1e571e210000c004af8e24 Intel Committee Releases Handwritten Note On Trump’s Ukraine Plans

U.S. House Intelligence Committee The House Intelligence Committee obtained more documents from Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas to use as evidence in Trump’s impeachment inquiry.

Westlake Legal Group 5e1e57692100004a051f6f1f Intel Committee Releases Handwritten Note On Trump’s Ukraine Plans

U.S. House Intelligence Committee

Parnas and Igor Fruman, another Giuliani associate, were arrested in October on claims that they funneled foreign money into Trump’s presidential campaign as the House continued its impeachment inquiry.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent the additional evidence to the House Judiciary Committee on two flash drives on Tuesday. It was submitted to be included as part of the official records sent to the Senate, along with the articles of impeachment against Trump.

Schiff described the documents as “pertinent to the impeachment inquiry” in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). 

“Despite the President’s unprecedented and sweeping obstruction of our impeachment inquiry, we have continued to collect additional evidence relevant to the President’s scheme to abuse his power by pressing Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election for the President’s benefit,” the chairs of four House committees said in a statement Tuesday.

The four ― Schiff, Nadler, Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) ― described the evidence submitted by Parnas as a “trove of documents that provide more information about the effort to coerce Ukraine into helping the President’s reelection campaign.”

Weeks after his arrest, Parnas agreed to comply with the impeachment inquiry by testifying and giving lawmakers access to phone records and documents seized during his arrest. Over the weekend, Parnas’s attorney asked a judge to allow him to hand over even more documents that were “essential” to Trump’s impeachment inquiry, including records from two cellphones and an iPad. 

The House is scheduled to vote on whether to send the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Wednesday.

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Ukrainian Ambassador Was Under Surveillance, Documents Suggest

Westlake Legal Group 14parnas-facebookJumbo Ukrainian Ambassador Was Under Surveillance, Documents Suggest United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Politics and Government Parnas, Lev impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

New documents released by House Democrats on Tuesday offered fresh detail on the shadow diplomacy campaign at the center of President Trump’s impeachment, including text messages suggesting that the former United States ambassador to Ukraine was under surveillance while in Kyiv.

In a series of cryptic text messages, Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, communicated with another man who appeared to be monitoring the movements of the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch. The texts, exchanged in March on the WhatsApp messaging service, indicated that the other man, Robert F. Hyde, was in touch with people in Ukraine who were watching Ms. Yovanovitch.

“They are willing to help if we/you would like a price,” one message from Mr. Hyde to Mr. Parnas read.

It was not clear who was watching the ambassador or why. Lawyers for Mr. Parnas and Ms. Yovanovitch did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Giuliani had been critical of Ms. Yovanovitch, whom he and other Republicans have said was opposed to the president. She also butted heads with a Ukrainian prosecutor over the nature of his investigations. Ultimately, Mr. Trump recalled Ms. Yovanovitch from her post in late April.

The documents were part of a number of items that Mr. Parnas recently had turned over to the House Intelligence Committee as part of its impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman based in Florida who is facing federal criminal charges in Manhattan, did not testify during the impeachment hearings last year. His lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, recently turned over the records to the House, in response to a subpoena, after receiving permission to do so from the judge overseeing the criminal case.

The House is set to vote on Wednesday to send its impeachment charges against Mr. Trump to the Senate, and a trial could begin in the coming days.

In October, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed campaign finance-related charges against Mr. Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman, another Soviet-born businessman who worked alongside Mr. Parnas to assist Mr. Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine. Two other men were also charged in the case.

The effort in Ukraine hinged on convincing officials there to open investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically. One potential investigation would center on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden; the other would involve claims that Ukraine — and not Russia — stole Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

After their arrests, Mr. Fruman remained close to Mr. Giuliani, but Mr. Parnas split from their alliance, vowing to speak out about the Ukrainian pressure campaign. His lawyer, Mr. Bondy, has since created a #LetLevSpeak hashtag on Twitter.

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House Democrats Just Dropped a Boatload of Impeachment Documents That Look Really Bad for Trump

Westlake Legal Group yhz_pi64pRAjP1sM5K3LNZM3t-RW8vO579QUhX-czgA House Democrats Just Dropped a Boatload of Impeachment Documents That Look Really Bad for Trump r/politics

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Prince Harry hasn’t reunited with Meghan Markle, son Archie in Canada yet — Here’s why

Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-prince-harry-timeline-photo Prince Harry hasn't reunited with Meghan Markle, son Archie in Canada yet — Here's why Nate Day fox-news/world/personalities/queen fox-news/world/personalities/british-royals fox-news/topic/royals fox-news/person/prince-harry fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5185c707-d200-59e1-941e-152de138c238

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have yet to reunite following Harry’s meeting with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday.

The meeting, dubbed the “Sandringham Summit,” was an opportunity for the Queen, Harry and other members of the royal family to reportedly “talk things through” following Harry and Meghan’s announcement that they plan to take a “step back” from their royal duties.

Markle, 38, was not present for the meeting, but it was reported that she would have potentially joined by phone from Canada, where she traveled after making the historic announcement to reunite with 8-month-old son Archie, whom she shares with Harry, 35.

KATE MIDDLETON ‘WILL HAVE TO REPRESENT THE FACE OF BRITAIN’S FUTURE’ FOLLOWING ‘MEGXIT,’ EXPERTS SAY

Harry and Meghan have yet to reunite following the family meeting, but it appears to be the prince’s schedule that’s holding him back.

Harry is set to host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, according to People magazine. Harry has been a member of the Rugby Football League since 2016, when he took over his grandmother’s spot.

HUGH GRANT WEIGHS IN ON MEGXIT: ‘I’M RATHER ON HARRY’S SIDE’

It is likely that following the event, Harry will travel to Canada, where he and his family will spend some time during an upcoming “period of transition,” per a statement from the Queen.

“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives,” the Queen said. “It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K.”

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The statement also explains that the royal family is “entirely supportive” of Harry and Meghan and maintains that they will remain “a valued part of” the royal family.

Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-prince-harry-timeline-photo Prince Harry hasn't reunited with Meghan Markle, son Archie in Canada yet — Here's why Nate Day fox-news/world/personalities/queen fox-news/world/personalities/british-royals fox-news/topic/royals fox-news/person/prince-harry fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5185c707-d200-59e1-941e-152de138c238   Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-prince-harry-timeline-photo Prince Harry hasn't reunited with Meghan Markle, son Archie in Canada yet — Here's why Nate Day fox-news/world/personalities/queen fox-news/world/personalities/british-royals fox-news/topic/royals fox-news/person/prince-harry fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5185c707-d200-59e1-941e-152de138c238

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House to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate as New Evidence Emerges

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-impeach-sub2-facebookJumbo House to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate as New Evidence Emerges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Pelosi, Nancy House of Representatives Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — On the eve of a historic impeachment trial, new details emerged of President Trump’s campaign to solicit political interference from Ukraine, intensifying pressure on Senate Republicans to include witness testimony and additional documents in their proceeding.

Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate for the long-awaited start of the trial, Democrats released a tranche of previously unseen records that bolstered their case.

It included dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records provided to the Intelligence Committee by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, detailing work the men did in Ukraine on behalf of the president.

Among them were handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, and a May 2019 letter from Mr. Giuliani requesting a meeting with Mr. Zelensky in which he said Mr. Trump had “knowledge and consent” of his actions.

The records also included text messages suggesting that Mr. Giuliani’s associates were tracking the former United States ambassador to Ukraine in Kyiv.

The material provided compelling new details undergirding the charges against Mr. Trump, and highlighted how much is still to be learned about the scope of his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election. Senior Democrats who led the House impeachment inquiry said the new records underscored the need for senators to demand additional evidence at trial.

“All of this new evidence confirms what we already know: The president and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the president politically,” they said in a statement accompanying the release. “There cannot be a full and fair trial in the Senate without the documents that President Trump is refusing to provide to Congress.”

The evidence came to light as the House prepared to vote on Wednesday to send its impeachment charges — one on abuse of power, and one on obstruction of Congress — to the Senate, where leaders signaled that the tribunal would not begin in earnest until after the holiday weekend.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial,” Ms. Pelosi said. The speaker said she would announce the names of her managers at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and a vote to formally name them and send the articles was scheduled for early afternoon.

In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, indicated that senators would be ready to receive the charges on Wednesday and take sworn oaths to render “impartial justice” in the trial shortly thereafter, if not the following day.

But after weeks of demanding the charges be brought forward speedily, he said the Senate would put off considering the terms of the trial or the substance of the case for nearly a week, until next Tuesday. That would allow lawmakers time to vote late this week to approve Mr. Trump’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and give senators time to travel home this holiday weekend before the trial requires them to remain at their desks in the Senate chamber six days a week.

“We hope to be able to achieve that by consent, which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday,” Mr. McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The announcements paved the way for a choreographed exchange between the two chambers that will unfold on Wednesday as they look toward the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. With little precedent to guide them, House and Senate leaders were working with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will preside over the trial, to nail down the timing of what was to come.

If all goes according to plan, the trial would officially open almost a month to the day after the House voted to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, charges that stemmed from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents, then stonewall the House inquiry into his actions.

The White House, readying its own case, welcomed the progress toward a trial and predicted Mr. Trump’s eventual acquittal.

“We’ve been ready for a long time,” Eric Ueland, Mr. Trump’s congressional liaison, told reporters in the Capitol after huddling with Senate Republicans over lunch. “We could have started the morning after the House vote in December. We’re good to go, and we’re ready to go, and we’d be shocked if the House isn’t ready to go either.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign was already capitalizing on what promises to be a brutally partisan proceeding, circulating a fund-raising appeal signed by the president that announced, “We’re taking this fight to the Senate,” and asked supporters to donate to an “Emergency 2020 Impeachment Defense Fund.”

Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump’s team was bracing for a potentially damaging period, inviting conservative activists to the White House to plan strategy for the coming trial.

Lawmakers were anxious, too, as they moved toward an unpredictable process that will test an already strained Senate, consuming lawmakers for weeks or longer. Debates raged in public and private over difficult questions that may darken the proceeding, including whether to call witnesses and compel new evidence or to consider a motion, endorsed by Mr. Trump but opposed by Republican leaders, to quickly dismiss the charges against him with no arguments or deliberations.

Mr. McConnell used an extended Republican luncheon to brief lawmakers on protocols and procedures. Heplayed down Mr. Trump’s apparent enthusiasm for a motion to dismiss, insisting that such a move was not viable.

“There is little to no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss,” Mr. McConnell told reporters after the lunch. “Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”

Mr. McConnell predicted that he still had the Republican votes to set rules for the trial next week that would put off a debate over calling witnesses until after opening arguments and senatorial questioning is complete.

“All 53 of us have reached an understanding very, very similar to the one that was achieved at the beginning of the Clinton impeachment trial,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton.

Democrats argue that a trial without witnesses and new evidence would be a sham. Mr. Trump blocked the House from gaining access to both during its impeachment inquiry.

In her statement earlier in the day, Ms. Pelosi accused Mr. McConnell and Mr. Trump of working together to cover up the facts the House had unearthed.

“The American people will fully understand the Senate’s move to begin the trial without witnesses and documents as a pure political cover-up,” she said. “Leader McConnell and the president are afraid of more facts coming to light.”

Still uncertain is precisely when the House managers will ceremonially walk the articles of impeachment from the House chamber to the Senate. When they do, they will formally present the articles and read them aloud in their entirety, beginning the trial.

At some point after the procession, the chief justice will travel from the Supreme Court across the street to the Senate chamber to administer the oath to senators.

The team of managers is likely to be led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who spearheaded the House’s Ukraine inquiry.

During the meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Schiff laid out his expectations for trial procedures, telling members that House managers would likely have 24 hours to present their case against Mr. Trump, spread over four six-hour days. The president’s lawyers would be given the same amount of time.

Mr. Schiff’s presentation appeared to be based on the procedures from Mr. Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. Mr. McConnell has said he plans to adopt similar procedures this time, but he has yet to release a detailed proposal, leaving the House in the dark.

“None of us have been through it before,” said Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont.

Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmondson, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Commander Sworn In As First Member Of New Space Force

Westlake Legal Group ap_200146339275631-f32694c0530f99ee08254508aca5ef522355c32f-s800-c15 Commander Sworn In As First Member Of New Space Force

Vice President Pence (right) swears in Air Force Gen. John Raymond as Chief of Space Operations on Tuesday. Steve Helber/AP hide caption

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Steve Helber/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Commander Sworn In As First Member Of New Space Force

Vice President Pence (right) swears in Air Force Gen. John Raymond as Chief of Space Operations on Tuesday.

Steve Helber/AP

The first newly created branch of the U.S. armed forces in more than seven decades now has its first official member.

Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond was sworn in Tuesday as Chief of Space Operations. It’s the top post in what since late last month is the Pentagon’s seventh military branch, the United States Space Force.

With one hand placed on a Bible whose “official” blessing on Sunday sparked sharp criticism, Raymond was sworn in by Vice President Pence at the vice president’s ceremonial office.

“It is President Trump’s belief that the United States must remain as dominant in space as we are on land and sea and the air,” Pence told Raymond before administering the oath. “And your charge is to see to that mission with the United States Space Force.”

The 4-star general, who already wears two other hats as commander of both the Air Force Space Command and the U.S. Space Command, donned his additional new hat with evident enthusiasm.

“Mr. Vice President, we have our marching orders and we are moving out,” Raymond told Pence. “We do not want a conflict to begin or extend into space, we want to deter that conflict from happening. The best way I know how to do that is to do so from a position of strength.”

But at the moment, there are no Space Force troops to command. Most of the 16,000 officers, airmen and civilians who Pentagon officials expect to comprise the new service branch in the next few months would likely be Air Force personnel drawn from the U.S. Space Command, which is to be the Space Force’s operational component.

Congress provided $40 million in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act for initially standing up the Space Force, which is to operate under the umbrella of the U.S. Air Force, much as the U.S. Marines are part of the Department of the Navy.

Raymond, who will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was appointed by President Trump under NDAA guidelines allowing the Space Force commander to serve for the first year without Senate confirmation.

The 58-year-old career Air Force officer has been an outspoken advocate for creating a military branch focused on outer space.

“The scope, scale and complexity of the threat to our space capabilities is real and it’s concerning,” Raymond told reporters in August. “We no longer have the luxury of operating in a peaceful, benign domain, and we no longer have the luxury of treating space superiority as a given.”

At the Joint Base Andrews ceremony in December where he signed the Space Force into law, Trump exulted over this military reorganization that will become part of his legacy in office.

“Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space. Because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump declared. “Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough. But very shortly, we’ll be leading by a lot.”

Raymond has preferred to cast the new military thrust into outer space as a collaborative effort with U.S. allies.

“Historically, we haven’t needed to have allies in space,” he told reporters last summer at the Pentagon. “Space was a benign domain, it wasn’t as critical. It is very important today that we have — and we are working very closely with our partners, specifically our Five Eyes partners [Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada], with France, Germany and Japan.”

The new commander also confirmed in September that, in his capacity as U.S. Space Command chief, he’d already spoken with space entrepreneurs Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.

“Early in my career as a young captain, I was the commercial space officer for Air Force Space Command,” Raymond told CNBC. “So, I have been steeped in interfacing with the commercial business for many, many years.”

For now, Raymond is creating the new Space Force with a clean sheet, a top-down job that by every indication starts with himself.

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Police officer suicide rate more than doubles line-of-duty deaths in 2019, study shows

AUSTIN, Texas — The number of police officers who died by suicide in 2019 was more than double the number killed in the line of duty, according to a study — and one organization is aiming to change the startling statistic with a broader peer networking program.

The Blue H.E.L.P. study showed 228 officers died by suicide, while 132 officers died in the line of duty in 2019. Texas ranked third with 19 suicides in 2019, behind New York with 23 and California with 21. The organization has aimed to call attention to mental-health concerns among law enforcement, with H.E.L.P. standing for “Honor. Educate. Lead. Prevent.”

“As a police officer, you never really leave your battlefield, you are constantly faced with the chronic stress of your work environment,” Caruth Police Institute Interim Executive Director BJ Wagner said.

Westlake Legal Group CHART_BAR_2019_POLICE_SUICIDE_RATES Police officer suicide rate more than doubles line-of-duty deaths in 2019, study shows Hunter Davis fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health/mental-health fox news fnc/us fnc article 8838b13a-6c93-59c2-bf95-804a651e6323

According to Blue H.E.L.P. and the Caruth Police Institute, 228 officers died by suicide in 2019, more than double the number of officers killed in the line of duty.

Wagner said it’s because of the rise in police office suicides that the institute has been looking to put together the Texas First Responders Peer Networking Program, which ideally would eliminate officer suicides in the Lone Star State.

“It would be a statewide initiative saying that law enforcement suicide is no longer an acceptable statistic in Texas, we want to end it,” Wagner said.

The institute has been looking to get secure from the state in order to set up six hubs across the state that would provide a “battle buddy” to each officer struggling with mental, emotional or physical health.

As of now, programs like this have been offered only on a smaller scale, like at the Austin Police Department.

Westlake Legal Group Austin-Police-Department Police officer suicide rate more than doubles line-of-duty deaths in 2019, study shows Hunter Davis fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health/mental-health fox news fnc/us fnc article 8838b13a-6c93-59c2-bf95-804a651e6323

The Austin Police Department has a unit dedicated to helping the mental and emotional health of police officers. (Hunter Davis/Fox News)

“What we are trying to do is educate our peers,” Joe Brown with the Austin Police Department Peer Networking Unit said. “Our job is to foster relationships and build rapport so they feel comfortable to reach out to us.”

The Austin Peer Networking Unit has been active since 2006, helping any officer in or outside the department cope with the trauma of the job.

“I think as a profession, we have done a very bad job of reaching out for help and getting the help that we need in dealing with a career of trauma,” Brown said. “What we do is tell our officers, if they are in a time of need or see someone struggling, then they can reach out to us.”

The unit also taught a suicide-prevention class in 2019, educating the department on potential warning signs and some of the resources available to people in crisis and those who know someone in crisis.

“You work long hours and you deal with a variety of calls in one shift, and it’s something that officers have to deal with on an everyday basis, which is why we try to educate our peers and say, ‘Hey, you are going to experience some traumatic events and you’re going to have a biological reaction to that,’” Brown said.

The unit has boasted 100-percent success over the last 13 years, losing no officers to suicide. Its members said a program on a state level would only help them with their mission to save their brothers and sisters in blue. “We are a large entity and if you are looking at these smaller ones with eight people or 10 people, it is taught to have what we do, which is why I think it would be helpful in those areas,” Sgt. Tim Kresta said.

The program could assist people like Chris Jaramillo, a military veteran whose father, Officer Albert Mendoza-Jaramillo, died of suicide in 1992. He was an officer with the Austin Police Department for 10 years before he took his own life.

“He committed suicide on December 13, 1992. There is a lot of speculation as to why he did it, substance abuse and trauma from his job that he wasn’t dealing with,” his son said. “It was shock and the week prior to him committing suicide, he made me promise that if anything ever happened to him, I wouldn’t cry.”

Chris Jaramillo was a United States Marine and said he’s gone through his own battles with substance abuse after a battle buddy of his died in uniform.

“It was an incident in Afghanistan. We were on a dismounted patrol and we were sweeping for IEDs, and a good buddy of mine triggered an IED that caused a traumatic brain injury and killed him in the process,” Jaramillo said.

The Marine veteran was honored with a Purple Heart for his service and said, because of his own trauma, he’s now able to understand what his father may have been going through 28 years ago.

“Veterans experience similar traumas to police officers, witnessing scenes that aren’t pleasant. As a veteran, I didn’t want to ask for help because it wasn’t the thing to do, because you got the stigma of being labeled with a mental illness and just like police officers, it wasn’t something you bring up,” Jaramillo said. “You drink, you go hang out with your buddies and that is how you deal with it.”

The veteran said, although he felt similar to what he believed his dad felt, he chose to get help.

“It is heartbreaking because I was in that same place where he was. And, just because he did it and I witnessed it and experienced it, but the fact that I asked for help and things got better was heartbreaking, because it could have helped him too,” Jaramillo recalled.

He said it’s because of this understanding that he believed a program like the Texas First Responders Peer Networking Program would be helpful.

“A peer is going to be around you more than a doctor or whatever, and they are going to see those hidden secrets. And, those secrets need to be brought to light by having a peer say, ‘Hey, you need help,’ or, ‘Hey, I got a buddy that needs help,’ and take that to the peer network to get the officer the help they need,” Jaramillo said. “It’s a big thing to have a good support system so that way, you know it would have helped him out  because he would have been able to get to that doctor that may have changed his mind.”

MISSISSIPPI MOM WORRIED FOR SON’S SAFETY AFTER DEADLY PRISON RIOTS

Jaramillo added that any officer or anyone else struggling with mental or emotional health should know that someone else was looking out.

“The strongest thing someone can do is ask for help and say, ‘Hey, I cannot do this on my own. It hurts [losing someone] so asking for help, I’ll keep your loved ones from experiencing the pain,” Jaramillo said.

The Caruth Police Institute has aimed to have the program partially operational by December and then fully operational by the summer of 2021, but it’s all dependent on funding.

Westlake Legal Group MAP_TX_irving_austin_lubbock_rockport_elpaso_tyler Police officer suicide rate more than doubles line-of-duty deaths in 2019, study shows Hunter Davis fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health/mental-health fox news fnc/us fnc article 8838b13a-6c93-59c2-bf95-804a651e6323

The Caruth Police Institute is aiming to place six peer networking hubs across the Lone Star State. (Fox News)

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“Across the last two legislative sessions, Texas has really been a model across the country on how to create state and local partnerships to provide mental help services across the region, across the state, and allowing committees to design what works well by providing match dollars with the state,” Wagner said. “We are looking toward some of those opportunities to fund the Texas First Responders Peer Network, but we are also looking at other grants and philanthropic opportunities to help launch this network.”

The Caruth Police Institute, a partnership between Dallas police and the University of North Texas at Dallas, is hoping to place 6 different hubs across Texas: in Irving, Austin, El Paso, Lubbock, Tyler and Rockport.

Westlake Legal Group Sequence-03.00_00_30_52.Still002 Police officer suicide rate more than doubles line-of-duty deaths in 2019, study shows Hunter Davis fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health/mental-health fox news fnc/us fnc article 8838b13a-6c93-59c2-bf95-804a651e6323   Westlake Legal Group Sequence-03.00_00_30_52.Still002 Police officer suicide rate more than doubles line-of-duty deaths in 2019, study shows Hunter Davis fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health/mental-health fox news fnc/us fnc article 8838b13a-6c93-59c2-bf95-804a651e6323

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