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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 211)

Undeterred by White House Threat, Democrats Push Impeachment Inquiry Ahead

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162317847_19e0b54d-46be-41b2-a398-a1cefa307d64-facebookJumbo Undeterred by White House Threat, Democrats Push Impeachment Inquiry Ahead United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Cipollone, Pat A Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — House Democrats prepared on Wednesday to force the Trump administration anew to answer questions in their impeachment investigation, one day after President Trump and the White House declared that they would defy Congress in one of the most extraordinary assertions of executive authority in modern times.

House chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry planned to issue additional subpoenas for witness testimony and records related to Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as soon as Thursday, lawmakers and aides said, after a pause for the Jewish High Holy Days.

They want to force executive branch officials to answer to their demands, generating a detailed record of refusals that could shape an impeachment article charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress. Democrats also still see other meaningful avenues for gathering evidence that go around the Trump administration’s defiance, including questioning private citizens, career diplomats near retirement and the whistle-blowers whose revelations fueled the inquiry.

“There is more we want to do,” said Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, the second-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He called the White House’s stonewalling “a brazen political move to try to align what has been a fragmented and uncertain strategy to defend the president.”

The Democrats’ investigation earned a prominent endorsement as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading presidential candidate, said in a speech on Wednesday in New Hampshire that Mr. Trump should be impeached for “shooting holes in the Constitution.” Mr. Biden set aside months of restraint complicated by the president’s unsubstantiated allegations about Mr. Biden’s own dealings with Ukraine.

But the White House’s promise to put a “full halt” on cooperating with the impeachment inquiry was likely to force Democrats to more quickly confront questions about how long and how extensively to investigate Mr. Trump when ample evidence of his actions is already in the open.

So far, the Democrats have secured public support for their inquiry. Polls show that a majority of the public backs it, but if the White House successfully stanches the flow of evidence and lawmakers extend their investigation without delivering significant new findings, that support could erode.

“Every new piece of information has corroborated the basic facts, which are devastating for the president,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York and a member of the Intelligence Committee. “How many smoking guns are we going to get? The president’s own words incriminate him. Every supporting document we have seen further supports the devastating facts we are learning more about every day.”

But moving too quickly toward drafting articles of impeachment could expose Democrats to charges that their inquiry was a rush to tarnish the Trump presidency rather than a pursuit of the truth.

Mr. Trump and other top administration officials, as well as his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, embarked in recent months on a campaign to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. A whistle-blower complaint helped bring the scandal more fully into public view and prompted the impeachment inquiry, and Democrats say they want to ensure that they are fully scrutinizing the facts before they move forward.

“There is another risk, which is you don’t get to the bottom of the story,” Mr. Himes said. “Was Rudy Giuliani running his own State Department? What other people were pressured to go along with this?”

The White House’s charged assertion late Tuesday that it would try to stymie the inquiry came in a letter from Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, but the document read more like a political argument than a legal one.

“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the president they have freely chosen,” Mr. Cipollone wrote. “Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away.”

[As the White House counsel, Mr. Cipollone is building a case for defiance on impeachment.]

Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was ready for a long fight with the Democrats but implied that he might reconsider if the House were to hold a vote authorizing the inquiry and granting Republicans and the White House new powers to call and cross-examine witnesses in the inquiry.

“We would if they give us our rights,” he said of Democrats.

And Mr. Trump’s congressional allies continued to try to undercut the impeachment case. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would invite Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine, to testify in public if the House did not release of a transcript of its private interview with him.

Mr. Volker helped try to secure commitments from Mr. Zelensky’s government to investigate corruption, serving as an intermediary between the Ukrainians, Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani.

House Democrats released damaging text messages that Mr. Volker shared showing his conversations with other American diplomats and a top Ukrainian aide. But Republicans argued that Democrats were trying to cover up the fact that he told investigators behind closed doors that he saw nothing untoward between the Trump administration and the Ukrainian government.

Democratic leaders have made clear that they view Mr. Cipollone’s letter as an invalid legal document and warned Mr. Trump and other potential witnesses that ignoring subpoenas would carry consequences. Speaker Nancy Pelosi retorted to Mr. Trump late Tuesday that he was not “above the law” and hinted that any efforts to undercut Congress’s investigation would only fuel her impeachment case.

“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” she said.

Other Democrats more explicitly pointed to one of the three articles of impeachment the House Judiciary Committee approved in 1974 charging Richard M. Nixon with failing to provide information to House inquirers.

House leaders have signaled that they are highly unlikely to take any of the Ukraine-related disputes over information into court, as they did when the White House blocked earlier requests from congressional Democrats seeking to conduct oversight. Though the House continues to litigate those earlier cases in the courts, new lawsuits would take far longer to resolve than the amount of time that Democrats believe they have to decide on impeachment.

Two key State Department figures will face choices in the coming days about whether to step down and testify to Congress or remain in the administration and keep quiet, according to current and former diplomats.

William B. Taylor Jr., America’s top diplomat in Ukraine, has already retired twice from the State Department and was called back into service most recently to go to Kiev. He has already threatened to quit once in protest over Mr. Trump’s Ukraine policy, according to the text messages that Mr. Volker shared with congressional investigators.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was forced out by the Trump administration as ambassador to Ukraine, is teaching at Georgetown University and nearing the end of her foreign service career. If she wants to tell her story to Congress, she will have no choice but to quit, the current and former officials said.

But even if they do resign, both Mr. Taylor and Ms. Yovanovitch could face hurdles to testifying in the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Trump could seek to tie up both officials’ eyewitness accounts in court by threatening legal action.

Congressional investigators also believe they can glean important information from private citizens whom the White House cannot claim executive privilege over and would also have a more difficult time evading subpoenas.

Most prominent among them is Mr. Giuliani, who appears to have orchestrated the monthslong effort to secure Ukrainian government support for investigations into Mr. Biden and his son and another unfounded theory about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election. Investigators have subpoenaed Mr. Giuliani for a vast set of records, to be delivered early next week.

The House is prepared to issue subpoenas to two associates of Mr. Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who helped him try to stir up investigations in Ukraine, if they do not show up for scheduled depositions this week.

The men worked to gather information in Kiev about the Bidens and matters related to the 2016 election. Mr. Parnas also helped connect Mr. Giuliani and Ukrainian prosecutors.

And then there are the whistle-blowers whose accounts have provided a road map to investigators. Lawmakers are finalizing arrangements to talk to the first whistle-blower, who may be able to provide additional information or investigative leads.

The whistle-blower’s lawyers have confirmed that they are also representing a second official who had more direct knowledge of the effort to pressure Ukraine. Lawmakers are also likely to want to speak to that official.

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.

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Feinstein secures $20M to prevent Tijuana’s sewage water from reaching US

Westlake Legal Group Dianne-Feinstein Feinstein secures $20M to prevent Tijuana’s sewage water from reaching US fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/senate/budget fox-news/politics/senate fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 4f994810-d215-5a74-bde9-94ae05653ff4

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has secured nearly $20 million to fund measures that help California prevent millions of gallons of Tijuana’s raw sewage from flowing into San Diego, according to a Wednesday report.

The preventive measures were laid out in three Senate funding bills which appropriate $19.5 million for the EPA to address the sewage flows, direct the secretary of state to create a plan that addresses their impact, and directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to submit a report on its efforts to protect its agents from the flows, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

San Diego County has been dealing with raw sewage flows from Tijuana for decades. Last year, a pipe across the border in Mexico broke, causing millions of gallons of sewage to flow into the Tijuana River and, eventually, the Pacific Ocean, impacting California coastal areas.

“It’s absolutely outrageous and unacceptable,” Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina told reporters last December. “The biggest issues that we’re concerned about is this happens again and again and then the Mexican government doesn’t notify anybody. They sort of cover it up and they notify us at the last minute and then our kids are at risk of swimming in sewage.”

DIANNE FEINSTEIN ENDORSES JOE BIDEN’S PRESIDENTIAL BID IN SNUB TO KAMALA HARRIS

Imperial Beach, located just across the border from Mexico, sued the federal government last year, claiming its failure to stop the flows was a violation of the Clean Water Act.

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“More concrete action must be taken to stop this decades-long problem,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Raw sewage overflows and other pollution from Mexico along the Tijuana River that jeopardize human health are unacceptable.”

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Dianne-Feinstein Feinstein secures $20M to prevent Tijuana’s sewage water from reaching US fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/senate/budget fox-news/politics/senate fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 4f994810-d215-5a74-bde9-94ae05653ff4   Westlake Legal Group Dianne-Feinstein Feinstein secures $20M to prevent Tijuana’s sewage water from reaching US fox-news/politics/senate/democrats fox-news/politics/senate/budget fox-news/politics/senate fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 4f994810-d215-5a74-bde9-94ae05653ff4

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U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-beatles-facebookJumbo U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Torture Terrorism Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Kotey, Alexanda Kidnapping and Hostages Justice Department Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Foley, James (1973-2014) Emwazi, Mohammed Elsheikh, El Shafee Defense and Military Forces

The American military has taken custody of two British detainees notorious for their roles in an Islamic State cell that tortured and killed Western hostages, removing them from a wartime prison in northern Syria run by a Kurdish-led militia, according to United States officials.

The abrupt move came as the Turkish military moved into northern Syria after getting a green light from President Trump. Turkey is targeting the American-backed Kurds — known as the Syrian Democratic Forces — who were the primary allies of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The Turkish invasion called into question the militia’s ability to continue securely holding some 11,000 captured ISIS fighters.

The two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, were part of a four-member British cell that the Islamic State put in charge of Western hostages, who nicknamed them the “Beatles” because of their accents. Among their victims was James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded in August 2014 for an ISIS propaganda video.

Another member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, or “Jihadi John,” is believed to have killed Mr. Foley. Mr. Emwazi was later killed in a drone strike.

The Justice Department has intended to eventually bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotey to the United States for trial in Virginia, but a court fight in Britain has delayed that transfer. The lawsuit is over whether the British government may share evidence with the United States without an assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

The American military was taking the men to Iraq, where the United States has a base where it has held Islamic State detainees with American citizenship before transferring them to domestic soil — or, in one case, releasing a detainee in Bahrain.

It is not clear how long the two British men will stay at that base. The Justice Department has been reluctant to take custody of them and enter them into the criminal justice system — where, among other things, they will have a right to a speedy trial — until it secures the evidence still in British hands that can help support their eventual prosecution.

The British government has shared witness statements about the two men with the Justice Department, but testimony from British government officials would also probably be necessary at any trial. Mr. Elsheikh’s mother has filed a lawsuit seeking to block such cooperation because the United States government has not promised it will not seek to execute her son. Britain has abolished the death penalty.

Because of their role in abusing Americans, the two British men were at the top of a list of ISIS detainees of concern for the American government, officials said. But that list has more than five dozen names on it, including a dozen or so other Islamic State prisoners in Kurdish hands who are considered particularly dangerous.

It remains unclear whether the Trump administration will seek to take any additional detainees from the Syrian Democratic Forces as the situation in northern Syria continues to rapidly deteriorate after Mr. Trump’s decision to clear the way for Turkey to launch its operation into northern Syria.

The move is bringing to an abrupt crisis a long-simmering problem: About 50 countries have citizens in the Kurds’ prisons for ISIS fighters — and in the displaced persons camps where tens of thousands of ISIS women and children are held — and have been reluctant to repatriate them, instead leaving them in the Kurds’ hands indefinitely.

The male fighters the Kurds are holding include about 9,000 local Syrians and Iraqis, as well as 2,000 foreign fighters — including scores from Western Europe. Many European law enforcement officials fear that if they repatriate their extremist citizens, they would be unable to convict them or keep them locked up for a long time.

After Britain declined to bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotey home for prosecution, instead stripping them of their citizenship, the United States government weighed various options for handling them itself before deciding to prosecute them in civilian court once it obtained all of the evidence it needed.

The Trump administration also weighed sending the two British men to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for a period of indefinite wartime detention without trial. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who is a close ally of Mr. Trump’s but has criticized his Syria policy, has advocated that step.

But the military opposes getting more deeply involved in long-term detention operations, and there are steep legal obstacles to bringing the men to Cuba.

Among those challenges, transfer restrictions Congress imposed to block President Barack Obama from carrying out his plan to close the Guantánamo prison would make it illegal to transfer the men, once at the base, to domestic American soil for an eventual trial before a civilian court, and the military commissions system at Guantánamo is widely seen as too dysfunctional.

It is also not clear whether legal authority exists to hold Islamic State members — as opposed to members of Al Qaeda — in indefinite wartime detention. Once in Guantánamo, the two men would have the right to file habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the legality of their detention, raising the prospect of a ruling that the larger war effort against ISIS has been illegal.

The Washington Post earlier reported on the transfer of the detainees’ custody.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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Bernie Sanders says he misspoke when he said campaign would slow its pace

Westlake Legal Group d62ee7ac-AP19216020679996 Bernie Sanders says he misspoke when he said campaign would slow its pace Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/politics fnc article 1d8b3783-3eed-5a2a-beb2-35cb911e0590

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., backpedaled Wednesday on statements he made a day earlier about the pace of his presidential bid following his heart attack last week, telling NBC News that he was ready to “get back into the groove of a very rigorous campaign.”

In Sanders’ first sit-down interview since he had two stents inserted into his chest to clear a blocked artery, Sanders said he’s feeling “a hell of a lot better than I did a week ago.”

“I have no pain, I’m out walking now, getting back to work, feel good,” he told NBC’s Harry Smith in a clip from the interview, which is scheduled to air Wednesday night.

BERNIE SANDERS SAYS HE WAS ‘MORE FATIGUED’ IN MONTHS LEADING UP TO HEART ATTACK BUT IGNORED SYMPTOMS

Sanders was at a campaign rally in Nevada last Tuesday when he began complaining of chest pains.

“Somebody said, do you want to do selfies and I said, ‘My God, do I not want to do selfies. Let me get the hell out of here,'” he recalled. The discomfort prompted Sanders to visit an urgent care facility.

“They did a few tests and the doctor there said, she said, ‘You’re having a heart event,’ and it just struck me. I could not believe it,” Sanders said.

After Sanders was released from a Nevada hospital on Friday, the campaign disclosed that the 78-year-old had suffered a heart attack. However, Sanders pushed back on claims that his campaign tried to hide or conceal his health ailments from voters.

“No I don’t accept that,” Sanders said. “That’s nonsense and I think that sometimes, you know, I don’t know what people think campaigns are. We’re dealing with all kinds of doctors and we wanted to have a sense of what the hell was going on really. So the first thing that we’re trying to do is understand what’s going on and not run to The New York Times and not have to report every 15 minutes. This is not a baseball game. So I think we acted absolutely appropriately.”

“No apologies,” he added.

Sanders told reporters Tuesday outside his home in Burlington, Vt., that he “certainly intends to be actively campaigning” but will “change the nature” and frequency of rallies and events to “make sure I have the strength to do what I have to do.”

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“We were doing, you know, in some cases five or six meetings a day, three or four rallies and town meetings and meeting with groups of people,” Sanders said about his campaign prior to his heart attack. “I don’t think I’m going to do that.”

Sanders said he “misspoke” when he suggested he would slow his pace on the campaign trail, but his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, said Wednesday that her husband has postponed all campaign events until next Tuesday when he will head to Ohio for the fourth Democratic debate.

Westlake Legal Group Bernie-Sanders-health Bernie Sanders says he misspoke when he said campaign would slow its pace Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/politics fnc article 1d8b3783-3eed-5a2a-beb2-35cb911e0590   Westlake Legal Group Bernie-Sanders-health Bernie Sanders says he misspoke when he said campaign would slow its pace Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/politics fnc article 1d8b3783-3eed-5a2a-beb2-35cb911e0590

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Mindy Kaling accuses TV Academy of sexism, and it responds

Westlake Legal Group 640_mindy_kaling_487999332 Mindy Kaling accuses TV Academy of sexism, and it responds Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 1cdebb02-9bee-59d6-88e3-80f813328461

Actress and writer Mindy Kaling is speaking out about alleged sexism by the Television Academy.

In an interview with Elle, Kaling, 40, recalled her time working on NBC’s hit sitcom “The Office.” During its run, she executive produced, wrote and played a supporting role.

“They made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer,” she said. “I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed when my actual record stood for itself.”

REESE WITHERSPOON AND KRISTEN BELL, SUSAN SARANDON AT ODDS OVER ELLEN DEGENERES’ PLEA FOR CIVILITY

Kaling went on to be nominated for six Emmys, five for producing and one for writing. The show itself won five Emmy Awards and scored 38 other nominations.

The Television Academy responded with a statement to Variety saying: “No one person was singled out. … Every performer/producer and writer/producer was asked to justify their producer credits. We no longer require this justification from performer/producers and writer/producers, but we do continue to vet consulting producer credits with the [Producers Guild of America] to ensure those credited are actually functioning in the role as a producer.”

FORMER ‘TODAY’ CO-HOST ANN CURRY BELIEVES LAUER RAPE ACCUSER: IT ‘BREAKS MY HEART’

Kaling, firing back via Twitter, insisting that she was, in fact, singled out due to her race, gender and status as a junior member of the team.

Three more tweets from Kaling followed, explaining that she never spoke up because she enjoyed her time working on “The Office” and didn’t want to upset the Academy.

Kaling concluded her comments by saying “not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story.”

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Kaling most recently wrote and produced a television adaptation of “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” as well as the film “Late Night,” for which her screenplay is garnering Oscar buzz.

A rep for the TV Academy did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Westlake Legal Group 640_mindy_kaling_487999332 Mindy Kaling accuses TV Academy of sexism, and it responds Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 1cdebb02-9bee-59d6-88e3-80f813328461   Westlake Legal Group 640_mindy_kaling_487999332 Mindy Kaling accuses TV Academy of sexism, and it responds Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 1cdebb02-9bee-59d6-88e3-80f813328461

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2,200 Viewed Germany Attack Before Twitch Removed Post

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162441444_fe0e1132-bf7e-4416-a536-bbac7c3b33d7-facebookJumbo 2,200 Viewed Germany Attack Before Twitch Removed Post Video Recordings, Downloads and Streaming Twitch Interactive Inc mass shootings Amazon.com Inc

Twitch, the Amazon-owned live-streaming platform known for its video game content, is developing another, darker reputation as a place to find footage of mass shootings.

On Wednesday, a heavily armed man with a head-mounted camera live-streamed his shooting rampage in Halle, Germany, on Twitch for more than 35 minutes. Two people were killed and two others injured in the attack, which took place outside a synagogue and in a kebab shop.

Twitch said on Twitter that only five people had watched the live stream of the shooting. But 2,200 people viewed a recording of the attack, which stayed up for 30 minutes before it was flagged and removed.

More people watch live streams on Twitch than on any other digital platform, including YouTube and Facebook, according to a report from StreamElements. But the platform has struggled to police content as it is posted.

Last year, a Twitch live stream from a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., captured part of a shooting in which three people, including the gunman, died. In June, Twitch sued users who had posted footage of an attack in March involving mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On Wednesday, the company said in a statement that it was “shocked and saddened” by the shooting in Germany.

“Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously,” Brielle Villablanca, a spokeswoman for Twitch, said in the statement. “We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”

But footage and clips of the attack began to proliferate quickly on other platforms, including Twitter and the video publishing site Streamable. Versions of the video reached more than 15,000 accounts on the messaging platform Telegram within half an hour, according to an analysis by Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University in North Carolina.

Ms. Squire, who studies online extremism, said she monitored dozens of “very severely racist, violent channels” that promote white supremacy. On several channels, users debated whether the gunman should be made into a saint, according to screenshots she shared.

“Telegram exists as a forwarding network — that’s the main way the information flows,” she said. “It’s a very efficient mechanism for them.”

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a nonprofit organization formed in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, said in a statement that it was “actively removing perpetrator-created content related to the attack” in an attempt “to prevent its viral spread across our services.” Amazon is also a member of the forum.

The footage that appeared on Twitch was posted from an account created two months ago.

The assailant identified himself in accented English as “Anon” before denying the Holocaust, complaining about feminism and immigration and saying that “the root of all these problems is the Jew.”

He then drove to a synagogue on Halle’s Humboldt Street, an arsenal of weapons visible in his car. He struggled to enter the synagogue. After a woman spoke to him as she passed in the street, he shot her in the back, and then shot her several more times after she collapsed.

Unable to enter the synagogue even after shooting at the door, he drove to a kebab shop. He fired at two men cowering behind a beverage machine and then went outside, where he fired at several pedestrians. Later, he re-entered the shop and shot the body of one victim several times.

Twitch has doubled the number of moderators it employs this year, though it would not specify how many.

The company has been trying to broaden its appeal beyond video games, courting advertisers and soliciting content from artists, musicians, chefs and others.

Emmett Shear, the chief executive of Twitch, said at the company’s Twitchcon event in San Diego last month that safety was “a big concern,” acknowledging that users had been disappointed in the platform’s moderation practices after encountering “a lot of issues.”

“We haven’t always been consistent in our enforcement,” he said. “You have to remember we have to do this 24/7, in many different languages, in many different countries and time zones.”

He said improving Twitch’s moderation process, clarifying its community guidelines and providing more transparency would be “a perpetual investment for us.”

“It’s one of the biggest challenges facing every social media service on the internet, and particularly facing Twitch,” he said.

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‘A victim of their own failure’: Why PG&E’s massive power shutdown in California was inevitable

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'A victim of their own failure': Why PG&E's massive power shutdown in California was inevitable

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses amid dry conditions in an effort to prevent fires. Wochit, Wochit

SAN FRANCISCO — In cutting power to more than 2 million California residents Wednesday, Pacific Gas and Electric once again earned the wrath of citizens and politicians alike.

But, others note, the public utility was damned if it did, and damned if it didn’t go with the extreme measure, enacted in an effort to avoid once again sparking wildfires as fierce winds kicked up around the state.

PG&E was forced to declare bankruptcy earlier this year after being held liable for tens of billions in damages resulting from many of the two dozen deadly wildfires that flared in 2017 due to downed power lines.

“I would say this outage is justified, but it’s coarse,” says Scott Lewis Stephens, professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The impact of this is so huge that it will probably encourage more discussions about what we’ll do in these cases down the road,” he says. “In the future, it needs to be more refined.”

PG&E’s approach certainly was more sledgehammer than scalpel, affecting more than 30 counties across the state, where it provides power to some 16 million of California’s 40 million residents.

California power outage Q&A: What you need to know

What’s more, the utility warned that it could take days to restore power because all power lines would need to be inspected for possible wind-related damage before electricity could once again flow.

In fact, some 25,000 miles of PG&E lines are involved in this week’s preventive outage, says company spokesman Jeff Smith.

“Our aim is to restore power 48 hours after the weather has passed, but customers should prepare for an extended day outage, especially when you have so many shutoffs going on,” he says. “With over 30 counties, that’s a lot of wire we need to inspect.”

Smith says that due to the changing climate and the state’s recent wildfire history, such public safety power shutoffs, newly instituted this year, “are necessary to keep customers safe.”

California’s rising fire danger

The utility’s outage track record is wanting. Data published by the California Public Utilities Commission this month shows across all three utilities it regulates in California, there have been 4,082,970 customer hours of pre-emptive outages since the end of 2017.

Of those, PG&E accounted for just over half the total outage hours, although San Diego Gas & Electric customers were most likely to experience an outage, racking up 2 million hours of outages in the same time period across their relatively small, 4,100- square-mile territory.

Fire increasingly is a part of the California energy puzzle. Fire itself, of course, is not an unnatural part of the landscapes here, it’s part of what created them in the first place and will continue to occur.

However as the climate warms, areas that were already hot and subject to drought will only face more fire danger, says Brian Harvey, a professor of environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“Long-term, it’s something we’ve got to grapple with,” he says. “How do we best design our infrastructure to be able to live in these fire prone environments?”

‘We are not a third world country’

That question proved too lofty for many state politicians, who were quick to rail against PG&E’s blanket disruption that canceled classes, closed stores and put hospital patients and the infirm at risk.

Typical of the firestorm of criticism was State Sen. Scott Wiener’s comment that “this is a completely unacceptable state of affairs,” and State Sen. Jerry Hill telling the local ABC affiliate that “we are not a third world country.”

Many believe PG&E should be working toward creating a network that is much more robust when it comes to dealing with the elements.

Moving ahead with a sudden shutdown of power for millions “is like saying ‘I don’t have good brakes so I’m not driving the kids to school anymore,’” says Michael Aguirre, former city attorney for San Diego who has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the implementation of the wildfire bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law this past July that would leave ratepayers in the position of having to pay for future utility liabilities.

“Their system should be able to handle 50 mph winds,” Aguirre says. “Because PG&E has not maintained their system in accordance with the requirements, they may not start fires, but are inflicting other damages and losses on customers.”

The impact of tree trimming

Mark Tomey, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a non-profit group that advocates for PG&E customers, echoed that sentiment, placing the blame square at the utility’s feet.

“PG&E is in a tough position, but it’s a position of their own making,” says Tomey. “The company knows what has to be done for a long-term solution, like tree trimming, insulating wires so they don’t spark, inspecting transmission towers, but they’re behind. So now they’re disconnecting millions of people because they can’t depend on their safety measures due to past negligence.”

PG&E has only finished about a third of the tree trimming work it had planned to tackle this year, due partly to a personnel shortage, according to a filing the company submitted to U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing PG&E’s probation related to a 2010 gas explosion in San Bruno that killed 10 people.

“This is a problem that has been years in the making,” says Tomey. “They’re a victim of their own failure.”

Picking up the pace of their tree-trimming operation may not provide much comfort, especially for those Californians living in particularly rural areas such as Paradise, which was completely wiped out by a firestorm.

Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips is concerned about relying on tree trimming to help mitigate against future fire-related disasters. She says that such trimming tends to open up “long, narrow clear cuts that will be filled in with fire-prone grasses and shrubs, so this may not be the right thing to do from a safety perspective.”

In fact, PG&E is ignoring a vast array of alternative solutions to its powerline woes, says Edward Goldberg, CEO of Perimeter Solutions, the company that developed, manufactures, and supplies the branded long term fire retardant known as Phos-Chek, the red slurry dropped from air tankers during fire disasters.

“We have been working with PG&E for years, until recently our cooperation with them was limited to spraying our product directly onto their power poles to prevent loss of infrastructure during a fire disaster,” Goldberg says. “We have been trying to work with PG&E on what we see as an obvious solution to treat areas around electrical infrastructure in lieu of power shutoffs.”

The ‘new normal’ for PG&E?

Fire science professor Stephens says that PG&E can work to shift from the relative blunt tool of massive power disruptions to more targeted outages, given some time and funds. Specifically, he cites the ability of San Diego’s power company to surgically target particularly risk-prone ridges with outages that don’t affect the entire city.

By contrast, he says he’s waiting for PG&E to shut down power any moment to Berkeley, “which will safeguard our hills, but also take down the entire university.”

Financial fallout: PG&E files for bankruptcy amid California wildfire lawsuits, citing billions in claims

For Max Fuentes, a former utility lineman turned industry consultant out of Sacramento, PG&E still has many questions to answer when it comes to how it will deal with weather-related worries in the future.

“The minute you decide to shut all these lines down, do they have staged crews ready to start putting up new equipment to mitigate problems in the future, or it just, ‘Let’s wait it out’?” says Fuentes. “Is PG&E they treating this situation like an emergency or is it the new normal. We all need to know what their plan is.”

Follow USA TODAY Network reporters on Twitter, @marcodellacava @eweise @gabbypaluch

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‘Black US voters’ main target of Russia’s 2016 disinformation campaign, Senate report concludes

The Russian social media campaign against the United States targeted no single group more than African-Americans, a new federal report has concluded.

The report from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into the 2016 election comes as social media companies attempt to prevent further disinformation and disruption of  American democracy.

Moscow’s efforts — led by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — were sophisticated and multifaceted, targeting the black community and sowing division across a range of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube and Instagram. The shadowy effort aimed to support the Trump campaign, denigrate opponent Hillary Clinton, suppress the vote and attack various public figures.

According to the report, more than 66 percent of Facebook advertisements posted by the IRA contained a term related to race.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-c072dbe10d794e19a51befc526be9a2f 'Black US voters' main target of Russia's 2016 disinformation campaign, Senate report concludes fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/tech/companies/instagram fox-news/tech/companies/google fox-news/tech/companies/facebook fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 537420a1-4a30-5eec-8c5f-598c7a05872f

Russia’s campaign during the 2016 election was far-reaching, according to a new report.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Posts with titles like “Our Votes Don’t Matter,” “Don’t Vote for Hillary Clinton” and “A Vote for Jill Stein is Not a Wasted Vote” were specifically aimed at black voters, the report says.

Oxford’s Computational Research Project, which is cited in the Senate report, captured a number of images of posts from that time.

Some of the posts deliberately did not contain certain racial slurs, to avoid being flagged by content moderators, while others mimicked existing social justice movements in America in order to sow division among different ethnic and racial groups.

Facebook claims to have doubled the number of people working on safety and security, and met with federal officials recently on election security matters.

“We have stepped up our efforts to build strong defenses on multiple fronts. … We have also invested in technology and people to block and remove fake accounts; find and remove coordinated manipulation campaigns; and bring unprecedented transparency to political advertising.” Facebook said in a statement to BBC News.

Westlake Legal Group facebook-logo-getty-images 'Black US voters' main target of Russia's 2016 disinformation campaign, Senate report concludes fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/tech/companies/instagram fox-news/tech/companies/google fox-news/tech/companies/facebook fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 537420a1-4a30-5eec-8c5f-598c7a05872f   Westlake Legal Group facebook-logo-getty-images 'Black US voters' main target of Russia's 2016 disinformation campaign, Senate report concludes fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/tech/companies/instagram fox-news/tech/companies/google fox-news/tech/companies/facebook fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 537420a1-4a30-5eec-8c5f-598c7a05872f

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PG&E Bankruptcy Judge Gives Outside Group’s Plan a Chance

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, suffered a setback in bankruptcy court on Wednesday that could alter the course of a corporate restructuring that promises to have far-reaching consequences for millions of customers.

Dennis Montali, a federal bankruptcy judge, ruled that PG&E no longer had the sole right to shape the terms of its reorganization, opening a path in court for backers of a rival proposal. The competing plan was devised by a group of PG&E creditors that includes prominent hedge funds, and it is supported by individuals with claims against PG&E for wildfire damages.

The company sought bankruptcy protection in January, saying it faced an estimated $30 billion or more in liabilities related to wildfires that caused widespread property damage and killed dozens of people.

The judge’s ruling, after a contentious court hearing on Monday, came as hundreds of thousands of PG&E customers were without electricity. The company shut off power on Wednesday in wide areas of its territory, including much of the Bay Area, to reduce fire hazards posed by gusty winds after months of dry weather.

Losing the exclusive right to put forward restructuring terms is a huge blow to PG&E’s management and its largest shareholders, which also include hedge funds. The ruling, issued after regular market hours, sent the company’s stock down nearly 30 percent in extended trading.

The creditors’ plan, drawn up by a group of PG&E bondholders that include Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund, would leave the current shareholders with a tiny stake in PG&E once it emerges from bankruptcy.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_128591912_d9019b08-645c-4598-bfff-fac05b99b9a4-articleLarge PG&E Bankruptcy Judge Gives Outside Group’s Plan a Chance Wildfires Suits and Litigation (Civil) Pacific Gas and Electric Co Electric Light and Power Credit and Debt California Bankruptcies

California Wildfires: How PG&E Ignored Risks in Favor of Profits

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, has been responsible for wildfires in recent years that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres. Several proved fatal.

In making his decision, Judge Montali seemed to be encouraging an accord between the parties. “A dual-track plan course going forward may facilitate negotiations for a global resolution and narrow the issues which are in legitimate dispute,” he wrote.

Sympathy for the wildfire victims also seemed to play a role in the decision. The judge wrote that “the parties most deserving of consideration” had spoken through the group representing the wildfire claimants.

Frank Pitre, a lawyer for wildfire victims, said, “We are extremely pleased that the court has opened the process to promote competition over the best plan for this company to emerge from bankruptcy, showing due concern for ensuring fair compensation to fire victims.”

PG&E opposes the bondholders’ plan because, in its view, it allows them to acquire a large stake in the company on the cheap. “We are disappointed that the bankruptcy court has opened the door to consideration of a plan designed to unjustly enrich Elliott and the other ad hoc bondholders and seize control of PG&E at a substantial discount,” James Noonan, a PG&E spokesman, said in an emailed statement. He added that PG&E was working toward a “fair resolution of all remaining individual wildfire claims.”

PG&E’s plan would pay $8.4 billion to wildfire victims, while the bondholders are offering up to $14.5 billion.

The bankruptcy battle has repercussions in PG&E’s service area, which encompasses most of Northern and Central California. The state’s goal is for the company to emerge with the financial wherewithal to undertake measures intended to head off wildfires caused by PG&E’s power lines.

In addition, under a law enacted this year, the bankruptcy must be completed by June for the company to tap a new state fund being set up to help pay for the catastrophic costs of future wildfires.

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

PG&E Bankruptcy Judge Gives Outside Group’s Plan a Chance

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, suffered a setback in bankruptcy court on Wednesday that could alter the course of a corporate restructuring that promises to have far-reaching consequences for millions of customers.

Dennis Montali, a federal bankruptcy judge, ruled that PG&E no longer had the sole right to shape the terms of its reorganization, opening a path in court for backers of a rival proposal. The competing plan was devised by a group of PG&E creditors that includes prominent hedge funds, and it is supported by individuals with claims against PG&E for wildfire damages.

The company sought bankruptcy protection in January, saying it faced an estimated $30 billion or more in liabilities related to wildfires that caused widespread property damage and killed dozens of people.

The judge’s ruling, after a contentious court hearing on Monday, came as hundreds of thousands of PG&E customers were without electricity. The company shut off power on Wednesday in wide areas of its territory, including much of the Bay Area, to reduce fire hazards posed by gusty winds after months of dry weather.

Losing the exclusive right to put forward restructuring terms is a huge blow to PG&E’s management and its largest shareholders, which also include hedge funds. The ruling, issued after regular market hours, sent the company’s stock down nearly 30 percent in extended trading.

The creditors’ plan, drawn up by a group of PG&E bondholders that include Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund, would leave the current shareholders with a tiny stake in PG&E once it emerges from bankruptcy.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_128591912_d9019b08-645c-4598-bfff-fac05b99b9a4-articleLarge PG&E Bankruptcy Judge Gives Outside Group’s Plan a Chance Wildfires Suits and Litigation (Civil) Pacific Gas and Electric Co Electric Light and Power Credit and Debt California Bankruptcies

California Wildfires: How PG&E Ignored Risks in Favor of Profits

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, has been responsible for wildfires in recent years that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres. Several proved fatal.

In making his decision, Judge Montali seemed to be encouraging an accord between the parties. “A dual-track plan course going forward may facilitate negotiations for a global resolution and narrow the issues which are in legitimate dispute,” he wrote.

Sympathy for the wildfire victims also seemed to play a role in the decision. The judge wrote that “the parties most deserving of consideration” had spoken through the group representing the wildfire claimants.

Frank Pitre, a lawyer for wildfire victims, said, “We are extremely pleased that the court has opened the process to promote competition over the best plan for this company to emerge from bankruptcy, showing due concern for ensuring fair compensation to fire victims.”

PG&E opposes the bondholders’ plan because, in its view, it allows them to acquire a large stake in the company on the cheap. “We are disappointed that the bankruptcy court has opened the door to consideration of a plan designed to unjustly enrich Elliott and the other ad hoc bondholders and seize control of PG&E at a substantial discount,” James Noonan, a PG&E spokesman, said in an emailed statement. He added that PG&E was working toward a “fair resolution of all remaining individual wildfire claims.”

PG&E’s plan would pay $8.4 billion to wildfire victims, while the bondholders are offering up to $14.5 billion.

The bankruptcy battle has repercussions in PG&E’s service area, which encompasses most of Northern and Central California. The state’s goal is for the company to emerge with the financial wherewithal to undertake measures intended to head off wildfires caused by PG&E’s power lines.

In addition, under a law enacted this year, the bankruptcy must be completed by June for the company to tap a new state fund being set up to help pay for the catastrophic costs of future wildfires.

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