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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 229)

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Is The Far-Right Authoritarian He Promised He’d Be

As Jair Bolsonaro surged to victory in Brazil’s presidential elections 14 months ago, a steady chorus of observers there and abroad warned the world that the racist, sexist, homophobic former military captain posed a massive threat not just to the country’s most vulnerable populations, but to its very democracy ― the largest in Latin America, and the fourth-largest in the world.

But there was also a school of optimists ― most of them members of Brazil and the world’s elite establishment ― who insisted that the guardrails of Brazilian democracy would constrain Bolsonaro’s worst impulses, and that responsibility, moderation and economic reform would win the day over impassioned, quasi-populist, authoritarian rhetoric. Many of them even voted for him

Now, at the dawn of the second year of Bolsonaro’s presidency, it is clearer than ever that the alarmists were right ― and that if anything, their warnings were not dire enough.

Since taking office last January, Bolsonaro has followed through (or attempted to) on nearly all of his ugliest promises, with troubling and disastrous consequences for Brazil’s environment and the Amazon rainforest, its already-marginalized Black, LGBTQ, Indigenous and poor communities, and the institutions that form the backbone of any democratic society. 

“Bolsonaro is attempting to carry out everything he promised. His electoral promises were real and he attempted to implement all of them,” said James Green, the director of the Brazil Initiative at Brown University. “Different forces have tried to limit his full agenda, but he’s going full force ahead.”

The congressman and Army captain who has for decades expressed an affinity for the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985 and at times longed for its return is, in other words, exactly who his most ardent and fearful critics said he would be.

“The key dynamic we expected pretty much played out, which is that we have a president that is actively seeking to undermine democracy,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an international relations professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo. “It’s not a question of whether the president is seeking to undermine democracy, or if he’s putting democracy at risk, it’s a question of to what extent institutions and society can constrain the president.”

Violence And Oppression 

Westlake Legal Group 5e0a6e392500001e1198f6dc Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Is The Far-Right Authoritarian He Promised He’d Be

Eraldo Peres/ASSOCIATED PRESS With a bandage on his ear, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends a military ceremony in honor of Sailor Day in Brasilia, Brazil, on Dec. 13, 2019. Bolsonaro said to the press on Dec. 11 that he has a possible skin cancer after he had a mole removed from his ear.

Nothing drew more attention to Bolsonaro and Brazil in the first year of his presidency than the record number of fires that raged across the Amazon rainforest in August and September, highlighting the threat his policies posed to the forest and the global fight against climate change. Bolsonaro has loosened environmental regulations and further gutted agencies in charge of environmental oversight, both of which have led to drastic reductions in environmental enforcement and contributed, experts say, to the outbreak of fires and increases in deforestation.

It was evident even before he took office that Bolsonaro’s presidency would, at a minimum, make Brazil a more dangerous place for its most vulnerable citizens, and the fires were proof of the dangers he posed to Brazil’s Indigenous people ― who warned early on that Bolsonaro risked subjecting them to “genocide.” 

Raids by wildcat loggers and miners who no longer fear government fines or retribution have led to the murder of numerous tribal leaders attempting to defend the lands Bolsonaro pledged to strip protections from. In 2019, killings of Indigenous Brazilians reached their highest levels in more than two decades

The fires, and Bolsonaro’s continued denial of them to international audiences, proved that “all the claims that Indigenous peoples of Brazil have been making are true,” Dinaman Tuxa, the executive coordinator of the Association of Indigenous People of Brazil, or APIB, said during a September press conference in New York.

Similarly vulnerable groups have found themselves in the same situation as Indigenous Brazilians. Of the groups that have drawn Bolsonaro’s ire across his nearly three decades in Brazil’s National Congress and during a violent and chaotic 2018 presidential campaign, few have been spared the wrath of he and his supporters since he took office. 

Bolsonaro, who once said he would rather have a dead son than a gay one, began his presidency by rolling back legal protections for LGBTQ people, and his raging against leftist “gender ideology” has led to efforts to eradicate programs to teach LGBTQ and gender equality in schools. In July, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that anti-discrimination laws covered LGBTQ people. But reports suggest increases in the number of attacks on LGBTQ people under Bolsonaro, and the fear that caused Jean Wyllys, one of Brazil’s first openly gay federal lawmakers, to resign his seat and flee the country is widespread in LGBTQ communities. 

Bolsonaro promised to unleash Brazil’s already-deadly police to kill with impunity to combat violent crime, and he has done exactly that. Even though proposed legislation to codify that indemnity never passed, the signal that police were free from scrutiny was received. The number of police killings from 2019 is widely expected to exceed the more than 6,200 that occurred nationwide the year prior. 

In Rio de Janeiro alone, the violent police force Bolsonaro promised to further unleash has killed more than 1,600 people ― more than any other year in which data is available. Bolsonaro and his supporters, including Rio’s right-wing governor, credit these policies with modest drops in violent crime, but the reality is that crime rates were already falling from their peak three years ago, and the vast majority of the victims of police ― who are responsible for more than 30 percent of all homicides in Rio, according to researchers there ― were young, Black people whom police can easily wipe away as drug dealers deserving of their murders. (The police killing that drew some international news, that of 8-year-old Rio girl Agatha Sales Felix, stood out precisely because police couldn’t credibly claim she was a drug dealer.)

Under Bolsonaro, who never misses an opportunity to appeal to the most virulent strains of machismo that run through his base of support, the number of femicides ― killings of women simply because they are women ― increased 4 percent in 2019 even as overall homicide figures fell. It’s possible those increases are due to more accurate reporting under Brazil’s femicide law; still, in a country where domestic violence rates are also on the rise, women have warned that Bolsonaro’s efforts to relax gun ownership laws would put them more at risk. 

‘People Are Worried About The Next Three Years’

Bolsonaro was widely considered one of the most immediately dangerous of the far-right leaders who have risen to power across the world over the last decade. Though he mimicked President Donald Trump and even embraced the nickname that he was “The Trump of the Tropics,” Bolsonaro assumed control of a much younger democracy with much weaker institutions than exist in the United States. 

Bolsonaro, who relentlessly attacked the legitimacy of the press during his campaign, has continued to do so as president, and not just with his ubiquitous cries of “fake news.” He has threatened to cancel government advertising contracts with large newspapers he doesn’t like, and even tried to bar government offices from subscribing to Brazil’s biggest newspaper. He has emboldened supporters to attack journalists, too, both online and in person: Patricia Campos Mello, an award-winning reporter for Folha de S.Paulo, said at a New York ceremony this year that reporters, and especially female reporters, are more at risk now than they have been at any time since the end of the dictatorship. 

His attacks on the press have gelled with his broader agenda: When The Intercept Brazil exposed potential corruption within the very anti-corruption probe that helped pave the way for Bolsonaro’s election, he launched into a homophobic tirade against Glenn Greenwald, the gay American journalist who helped launch the outlet, and his husband, leftist congressman David Miranda.

Bolsonaro, too, has targeted civil society, as he promised to do on the eve of his election. He has baselessly blamed nongovernmental organizations for setting the Amazon fires and any number of other problems he perceives. He has cut government funding for nonprofit groups and organizations and waged an ideological battle against universities and the liberal arts.

His culture and religious war has inflamed attacks on the arts and cultural institutions that espouse more progressive views or criticize his policies ― in December, a right-wing fascist group took credit for an attack on a theater that produced a play that portrayed Jesus as a gay man. Bolsonaro himself has threatened to censor or shutter Brazil’s film agency

Bolsonaro has also worked around the Congress rather than through it, relying more on presidential decrees than any of his predecessors since the return of democracy. And he has turned his ire on both the Congress and the judiciary when either acts against him. 

One of the major fears that existed at the outset of Bolsonaro’s presidency was that he may slowly usher in a new period of militarized rule, given his over-reliance on generals and Army men in his Cabinet. That hasn’t come to pass: The military, in fact, has been largely marginalized in his ruling coalition ― Vice President Hamilton Mourao, a former general, has barely been heard from in months.

Instead, a cadre of conspiracy-minded “anti-globalists” ― of the sort who believe everything from climate change to the United Nations is a communist plot against Brazil and Bolsonaro ― has dominated the president’s ear. That wing includes Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo and Bolsonaro’s sons ― three of whom are also lawmakers. The one general who has remained influential has folded himself into the anti-globalist faction; the neoliberal plank of Bolsonaro’s coalition, meanwhile, has either radicalized in concert with the conspiracy theorists or ignored them in an attempt to plow ahead with drastic reforms to the economy. 

The influence of the anti-globalists may be even more dangerous, and portend even worse things to come. It is this wing of his support that has the least respect for democratic institutions, as evidenced by Eduardo Bolsonaro’s comments in October 2018 that his father could move to shutter the Federal Supreme Court if necessary. This year, Eduardo Bolsonaro also suggested that the government could institute a new version of Institutional Act Number Five ― the dictatorship-era decree that closed the Congress, effectively legalized torture and is largely regarded as the harshest of the military junta’s policies.

Bolsonaro hasn’t taken such a drastic step yet, but the mere mention of AI-5, as the decree was known, sparked panic among Brazilians who remember the darkest days of the dictatorship, and it followed the tried and true formula Bolsonaro has used for years: His sons or surrogates suggest increasingly radical ideas, shifting the discourse in an ever more menacing direction. Sure enough, the supposedly more responsible figures in Bolsonaro’s government ― particularly Paulo Guedes, the University of Chicago-educated neoliberal economic minister who helped bring the country’s financial elites into Bolsonaro’s fold ― also suggested that a new AI-5 could be a justifiable response to opposition

There remains a steady resistance to Bolsonaro’s worst anti-democratic impulses inside Brazil, even if its leftist political parties have not formed much of one on their own. The Brazilian press has acted critically and forcefully; artists and musicians like Caetano Veloso, the famous singer who was imprisoned during Brazil’s dictatorship, have formed a backbone of resistance to Bolsonaro, while warning of the dangers he poses to democracy and free expression. 

Movements of LGBTQ people, Black Brazilians and the Indigenous have taken their concerns to the world: Bolsonaro’s government has been on the receiving end of 37 formal complaints to the United Nations alleging various human rights abuses ― a marker, the journalist Jamil Chade wrote recently, of “the realization … that Brazil is experiencing its worst international human rights moment since the re-establishment of democracy in 1985.”

The world, as a result, is more aware of the risks Brazil faces now than it was when democracy fell apart there a half-century ago.   

But it’s possible that Bolsonaro may be setting up even harsher responses to such opposition ― the threats of a return to the harsh tactics of the military regime, Green of Brown University said, were a signal that the response to any outbreak of protests like those that have rocked Latin America this year “will be repression.”

And while Bolsonaro’s reliance on decrees limits his effectiveness as a leader, given that they remain temporary unless the Congress ratifies them, they have also potentially set up a convenient fight between the president and the legislative branch in which Bolsonaro could argue, as Stuenkel of the Getulio Vargas Foundation said, that “all of the problems that exist in my government exist because this system doesn’t allow me to get things done, and that’s because of the legislature and the Supreme Court.”

Bolsonaro, Stuenkel said, may be pushing to argue that he needs “special powers to get things moving.”

That may sound alarmist. But given Bolsonaro’s track record, and his affinity for authoritarians of yesteryear and today (he once said Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s only shortfall was that he didn’t kill enough), there is little reason to shrug this all off. Not in a country where support for democracy was declining even before Bolsonaro’s election; where protests calling for the closure of the Congress and the Federal Supreme Court have broken out in Brasilia and elsewhere; where support for Bolsonaro remains relatively high, even if it has declined from its peak; and where the opposition parties to his left have yet to coalesce into any meaningful counterbalancing force. 

The alarmists, after all, have proved to be correct about Bolsonaro so far, and their fears have only deepened.  

“People are worried about the next three years,” Stuenkel said. “I expect it to get worse.”

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

Doctors remove 5-inch cancerous ‘dragon horn’ from man’s back

This is not what they meant by “grabbing life by the horns.”

A U.K. man baffled doctors after a 5-inch cancerous “dragon horn” sprouted out of his back despite him having no history of skin cancer, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Westlake Legal Group horn-720 Doctors remove 5-inch cancerous 'dragon horn' from man's back New York Post fox-news/health fnc/health fnc Ben Cost article 2c7d25f2-c87b-5965-a585-283be27201f3

The unnamed 50-year-old day laborer’s protuberance – which also resembled a gnarled talon and pumpkin stem – was diagnosed with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, the second-most prevalent strain of non-melanoma skin cancer, study authors report.

His growth was perplexing, as the patient had “no previous or family history of skin malignancy and was not immunosuppressed,” per the report. Not only that, but there weren’t any of the lymphatic abnormalities generally associated with such an aberration.

FLORIDA VETERAN GETS DYING WISH TO MAKE SNOW ANGEL

While most cutaneous cases are surgically nipped in the bud, this patient had allowed his tumor to blossom for three years — in effect making a mountain out of a malignant molehill.

As a result, the growth had to be excised by surgeons at the Countess of Chester Hospital, the BBC reports. The deficit tissue was then replaced with a skin graft from his thigh.

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Although the operation was successful, the surprised BMJ study authors said the anomalous ailment only occurred because it was “neglected by a patient living in a developed country with access to free health care.”

“This highlights that despite current public skin cancer awareness and rigorous health care measures, cases like this can still arise and slip through the net,” wrote the quartet of Counter of Chester Hospital surgeons behind the case study.

This isn’t the first time an easily treatable condition snowballed out of control in 2019. This past Thanksgiving, an Indian man underwent surgery for a cystic kidney that had swelled to the size of a Butterball turkey. And in October, a Panamanian patient made headlines for his sports-bag-sized scrotum — the result of gangrene run amok.

 CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM THE NEW YORK POST

Westlake Legal Group horn-720 Doctors remove 5-inch cancerous 'dragon horn' from man's back New York Post fox-news/health fnc/health fnc Ben Cost article 2c7d25f2-c87b-5965-a585-283be27201f3   Westlake Legal Group horn-720 Doctors remove 5-inch cancerous 'dragon horn' from man's back New York Post fox-news/health fnc/health fnc Ben Cost article 2c7d25f2-c87b-5965-a585-283be27201f3

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

U.S. Troops Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Swarm Embassy in Iraq Again

BAGHDAD — For a second day, demonstrators swarmed outside the United States Embassy in Iraq on Wednesday and troops fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse them, but after a few hours the militia leaders who had organized the demonstration called on the crowd to leave.

By midafternoon all but about 200 had dispersed, taking their tent poles with them.

President Trump said on Tuesday that Iran was responsible for events at the embassy compound in Baghdad, and tweeted, “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

That drew a taunting response on Wednesday from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. “You can’t do anything,” he said in a speech in Tehran, according to his website, adding: “If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge and fight, it will do so unequivocally.”

The situation in Iraq reached a new level of volatility in the last few days as Iran and the United States attacked each other’s forces, in an escalation of hostilities that was at risk of spiraling out of control. The growing confrontations between the United States and Iran, the two main sponsors of the fragile Iraqi government and the two primary foreign military powers there, makes the already unstable region even more so.

The United States blamed an Iranian-backed militia for a rocket attack on Friday on an Iraqi military base, which killed an American contractor and wounded several other people. American forces responded on Sunday with strikes on five sites controlled by the militia, in Syria and Iraq, that killed at least two dozen people and injured twice as many; Iran has put the death toll at 31.

On Tuesday, thousands of Iraqis, many of them militia fighters, marched on the United States embassy compound in Baghdad to protest the American strikes; some of them forced their way through the outer wall, set fires and threw rocks. They did not attempt to breach the embassy itself, and there were no reports of serious injuries, but the clash evoked memories of the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

In an ominous sign for the Americans’ ability to stay, the Iraqi authorities, who had prevented previous demonstrations from getting near the embassy compound, allowed the protesters on Tuesday to march on it unimpeded.

Militia leaders vowed that they would not go away, but would stage a sit-in just outside the compound until the United States withdrew from Iraq. Were the Americans to do so, they would strengthen Iran’s hand in a country where it already wields significant power.

But on Wednesday afternoon, the umbrella group for the militias, the Popular Mobilization Forces, ordered everyone to leave the embassy area.

The number of protesters on the street outside the compound on Wednesday was about 1,000, much smaller than it had been on Tuesday, but the situation remained combustible.

Iraqi special forces charged with protecting the embassy were relatively few in number, about 30 men. They were caught between the demonstrators and American troops, and exposed to the tear gas fired by United States forces at the protesters who attempted to climb onto the roof of the guard post — damaged by fire on Tuesday — and jump inside the compound.

At about midday, as more protesters clambered on to the roof, the Americans fired at least four volleys of tear gas, driving several hundred demonstrators back from the compound’s front gate, but a larger number remained.

A general with the Iraqi security forces, who asked not to be quoted by name, stood with his men next to the perimeter walls as protesters tried to scale them.

“This is not good — they have to stay away from the wall,” he said. The Americans, he added, “are right when they fire tear gas because otherwise the protesters will get inside the compound, but we are caught in between.”

“What can we do?” he asked.

In the past months, in the face of antigovernment protests, it was Iraqi forces firing tear gas to dispel protesters. But this week, the Iraqi authorities have left that to the United States, rather than confronting their own people.

Mr. Khamenei, addressing Mr. Trump, said, “If you were logical — which you’re not — you would see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan” and elsewhere “have made nations hate you,” the ayatollah’s website reported.

Iraqi militias — in theory under the umbrella of the national military, but often quite independent — played a major role in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS. While many of the armed groups, who are made up of Shiite Muslims, are backed by Iran, a Shiite theocracy at odds with the United States, the two powers had a common goal in their effort to defeat the Islamic State. Once the Islamic State was largely demolished, however, the Iran-backed Iraqi militias turned their attention to constraining United States activities in Iraq, especially after America ratcheted up its sanctions against Iran.

Mr. Khamenei said the United States was “taking revenge on the Popular Mobilization Forces for defeating ISIS,” a group that he claimed “the U.S. had created.”

The militia that the United States struck on Sunday, Khataib Hezbollah, denied responsibility on Wednesday for the most confrontational demonstrators, although it had pushed for protests in front of the embassy.

When asked why the protesters were climbing on the roof and setting fires anew, a spokesman for the group, Mohammed Muhi, said: “We can’t control those people and I think you heard me say over the loudspeakers: ‘Don’t go deeply, don’t burn.’ Our message is to stay here and have a sit-in, but they didn’t listen to me, so what can I do?”

There are about 30 groups within the Popular Mobilization Forces, each answering to different leaders who do not always agree with each other. Neither the government nor any of the factions has the authority to corral all of them, making for a dangerous mix.

Falih Hassan reported from Baghdad, and Alissa Rubin from Paris.

Westlake Legal Group embassy-sat-map-Artboard_2 U.S. Troops Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Swarm Embassy in Iraq Again United States Defense and Military Forces Iraq Iran Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Baghdad (Iraq)

Protesters entered

the compound

at this gate.

They burned a

reception building

and guard posts.

Al Kindi St.

GREEN

ZONE

U.S. Embassy

compound

Protesters entered

the Green Zone

from this bridge.

Tigris River

Westlake Legal Group embassy-sat-map-Artboard_3 U.S. Troops Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Swarm Embassy in Iraq Again United States Defense and Military Forces Iraq Iran Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Baghdad (Iraq)

GREEN

ZONE

Protesters

entered the

compound

at this gate.

They burned a

reception building

and guard posts.

Al Kindi St.

U.S. Embassy

compound

Protesters entered

the Green Zone

from this bridge.

Tigris

River

Satellite image by Maxar via Bing
Westlake Legal Group satellite-map-Artboard_2 U.S. Troops Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Swarm Embassy in Iraq Again United States Defense and Military Forces Iraq Iran Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Baghdad (Iraq)

TIGRIS RIVER

GREEN ZONE

U.S. Embassy compound

TIGRIS RIVER

Westlake Legal Group satellite-map-Artboard_4 U.S. Troops Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Swarm Embassy in Iraq Again United States Defense and Military Forces Iraq Iran Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Baghdad (Iraq)

TIGRIS RIVER

GREEN ZONE

U.S. Embassy compound

Sources: Compound boundaries from the Associated Press and satellite imagery.

By Sarah Almukhtar, Falih Hassan, Lauren Leatherby, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

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

Cathy Areu: ‘The Trump Show’ 2019 – Our reality TV president has put on quite a performance

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6119054443001_6119063059001-vs Cathy Areu: ‘The Trump Show’ 2019 – Our reality TV president has put on quite a performance fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Cathy Areu article 009f0d83-06c6-52cc-89bf-71ebb2788e83

His every move is monitored and documented by the media. Audiences follow the most popular and famous man in the world 24/7. He’s the ultimate reality star.

You probably think I’m referring to President Trump. I am – and I’m not.

I’m also describing Jim Carey’s character, Truman Burbank, from the 1998 movie “The Truman Show.”

THE MOST MEMORABLE POLITICAL GAFFES OF 2019

In the film, Truman is adopted by a corporation as a baby and raised in a giant TV studio made to look like a seaside town, with 5,000 cameras capturing his every move for a round-the-clock reality show.

Everyone in the town is an actor or actress hired to play a part. Only Truman doesn’t know he’s living in a simulated reality show. His entire life is documented by a manipulative producer showcasing his every move to capture TV ratings.

“The Trump Show” also has secrets, a cast of diverse characters and drama. Lots of drama.

A major difference between these two shows is that one was fictional with an unwilling protagonist who had no idea the world was watching him; the other is real with a star who desperately craves the world’s attention around the clock.

Another key difference is that Truman didn’t tweet, since Twitter wasn’t launched until 2006. Trump has tweeted more than 47,000 times since 2010 and now has over 68 million followers. Between tweeting, playing golf and making “perfect” phone calls with foreign leaders in which “there was no quid pro quo” it’s a wonder he finds time to eat and sleep.

But as we start 2020, let’s look back to see how the tweeter-in-chief performed in “The Trump Show” in 2019.

January 2019 began as the year ended: with a battle between Trump and his longtime adversary, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. If you’re a Republican, you probably believe Trump is Superman and the hero of this battle of the pols. If you’re a Democrat, you probably see Pelosi as Wonder Woman battling a dastardly villain.

With the many events that occurred in the last 12 months, it’s hard to believe that we had the longest government shutdown in history at the beginning of the year, spanning 35 days.

The shutdown was about Trump’s desire to build a wall along our border with Mexico, using taxpayer dollars (from American taxpayers, not Mexican ones as he claimed dozens of times when he ran for president).

I think Trump wanted to show the Chinese he could build a big beautiful wall even greater than their old decrepit one. Will our great wall be lined with Trump golf courses, resorts and towers?

While the government shutdown was in progress, Pelosi made history by not allowing Trump to give his State of the Union address in the House chamber. She’s no dummy. She knows denying Trump the chance to appear before a big TV audience is the worst punishment you can possibly inflict on him. Who knows, if she let him give the speech before the government reopened the shutdown might still be going on.

Then came the resignations and firings. I can’t remember who left when without getting dizzy, but over the course of the Trump presidency the departures have included: Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House Chiefs of Staff Reince Preibus and John Kelly, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, Press Secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director James Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions … oh, forget it, there are too many to name over three years. I should have started listing those who didn’t leave, to save space.

A big focus of “The Trump Show” was immigration. The president – who married two immigrants (but not at the same time), had an immigrant mother and immigrant grandparents – tried to make us believe our country has no more room for new arrivals and wanted us to be terrified of dangerous criminals invading our homeland.

We saw images of children in cages, and Trump still demanding funds for a wall – which he finally took from other parts of the federal budget. We still don’t have comprehensive immigration reform, but we had to move on.

Trump tweeted, and this time it was about an evil witch hunter: former FBI Director and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In March, the long-awaited summary of the Mueller Report came out. Remember? Me neither. It was supposed to lead to many investigations, arrests, and proof of Trump-Russia collusion. Attorney General William Barr gave a summary of a summary, and a 400-plus page report was released. Mueller testified before Congress and America fell asleep.

A few investigations were launched by Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and the House; some arrests were made and some people were convicted of crimes and then we moved on.

“The Trump Show,” if you haven’t noticed by now, is an action-packed thriller with a rapidly changing cast.

By summer, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step into North Korea and met with dictator Kim Jong Un. According to a Trump tweet, his visit with “Rocket Man” – as Trump affectionately once called Kim – was “amazing.”

At one point, Trump even said he and Kim “fell in love.” But now Trump’s newest love interest is threatening to resume testing missiles and maybe even nuclear weapons. Ah well, love doesn’t always last.

Then Trump started a trade war with China, Mexico and Canada, and started criticizing our NATO allies. But thankfully, he kept up good relations with his best buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In other news … Trump, tried to buy Greenland, I think. He could’ve changed its name to Trumpland, put up some golf courses and resorts and casinos, and made it a world-class tourist mecca like the world has never seen. It would’ve been something really special. But those silly Danes refused to sell.

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The leader of the free world visited with the great Kanye West, went to Mar-a-Lago over and over again at the cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers (U.S. taxpayers, not Mexican ones) and held rallies before adoring crowds. Ah yes, the rallies. The end of 2019 has led us to the end of “The Trump Show” for the year as we head into a new season of a spinoff: “The Candidate.”

Oh wait, I almost forgot. We have the battle of impeachment. According to the president, this is another witch hunt led by unhinged Democrats and he’s done nothing wrong. House Democrats didn’t buy that plotline and voted to impeach him.

But never fear for the hero of our reality show. Trump Chief Defense Attorney Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. – who also holds a second job as Senate majority leader – has guaranteed that the Senate will acquit Trump in a trial, no matter what. Evidence, schmevidence. Witnesses? Who needs them? McConnell knows Trump can do no wrong. After all, the president himself told us that “I am the chosen one.”

“The Trump Show” has had so many plot twists, characters and settings that I know I’ve left out quite a lot.

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What lies ahead? The biggest cliffhanger of all time. What is Nancy Pelosi going to do with those articles of impeachment adopted by the House? Remember what they are? Me neither!

And the plot thickens on the most popular reality show and soap opera in history … far, far more interesting than “The Truman Show” ever was.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY CATHY AREU

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6119054443001_6119063059001-vs Cathy Areu: ‘The Trump Show’ 2019 – Our reality TV president has put on quite a performance fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Cathy Areu article 009f0d83-06c6-52cc-89bf-71ebb2788e83   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6119054443001_6119063059001-vs Cathy Areu: ‘The Trump Show’ 2019 – Our reality TV president has put on quite a performance fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Cathy Areu article 009f0d83-06c6-52cc-89bf-71ebb2788e83

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Trump administration is quietly “gutting” tax law to give big new breaks to corporations | Treasury will use loopholes in the tax bill to offer giant corporations more breaks worth tens of billions

Westlake Legal Group 0uNkI5GmfQLr_S9nCCXM1ScPY3SxAQRtkrJTsybzwDA Trump administration is quietly “gutting” tax law to give big new breaks to corporations | Treasury will use loopholes in the tax bill to offer giant corporations more breaks worth tens of billions r/politics

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Texas church shooter’s ex-wife says she’s ‘glad they stopped him’

The ex-wife of a Texas gunman who killed two people at a church service in a Fort Worth suburb Sunday before being fatally shot himself, said this week that she is deeply “sorry.”

Angela Holloway, who divorced the gunman, Keith Kinnunen, in 2010, told FOX 4 in Dallas she had tried to encourage him to get his life together.

“It’s hard on all of us. Only thing I can tell them numerous times, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said. “We tried to encourage him. He’s popped in and out of our lives for years. He’s kept in contact with my oldest son, my two younger kids and everybody kept telling him, you need to get right. You need to do right.”

TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTING IS LATEST OF MANY ATTACKS AT US HOUSES OF WORSHIP IN RECENT YEARS

Kinnunen had reportedly been a drug addict with a long criminal history.

West Freeway Church of Christ’s senior minister, Britt Farmer, told The Christian Chronicle he recognized the shooter after seeing a photo of him.

“We’ve helped him on several occasions with food,” Farmer told the Chronicle. “He gets mad when we won’t give him cash. He’s been here on multiple occasions.”

Kinnunen was fatally shot by Jack Wilson, a member of the volunteer security team, after he opened fire in the church.

Westlake Legal Group AP19364053814703 Texas church shooter's ex-wife says she's 'glad they stopped him' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson babe6e6e-a36b-5a9a-ab43-48b9893e7710 article

Residents embrace near police and fire cars that surround the scene of a shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram via AP)

“I’m glad they stopped him when they did,” Holloway told FOX 4.

Deacon Tony Wallace and volunteer security team member Richard White died of their injuries at a hospital.

The investigation into the gunman’s motive is ongoing.

The church announced services will be held this Sunday in the fellowship hall.

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“We knew he was crazy but not like this,” Holloway told Fort Worth’s KXAS-TV. “I don’t wish this on anybody. I feel sorry for the victims. I really do.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19364053814703 Texas church shooter's ex-wife says she's 'glad they stopped him' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson babe6e6e-a36b-5a9a-ab43-48b9893e7710 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19364053814703 Texas church shooter's ex-wife says she's 'glad they stopped him' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson babe6e6e-a36b-5a9a-ab43-48b9893e7710 article

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Erin Foster marries Simon Tikhman in New Year’s Eve wedding: report

Westlake Legal Group Erin-Foster Erin Foster marries Simon Tikhman in New Year's Eve wedding: report Nate Day fox-news/person/katharine-mcphee fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 803e798a-aaf0-5b9f-ac48-cb2e9b28deba

Erin Foster is a married woman.

The reality star and daughter of music producer David Foster married Simon Tikhman in a New Year’s Eve ceremony in Nashville, Tenn., according to Entertainment Tonight.

Just days ago, Foster, 37, posted a photo to Instagram showing herself and Tikhman on their way to their wedding destination.

SARA, ERIN FOSTER FELT ‘EMOTIONAL TURMOIL’ WHILE DAD DAVID FOSTER RAISED JENNER BOYS

“On our way to Nashville to get married!” Foster wrote in the caption. “Only one of us is embracing the theme so far.”

AMERICA FERRERA EXPECTING SECOND CHILD WITH HUSBAND RYAN PIERS WILLIAMS

In the photo, Foster wears a cowboy hat, while Tikhman sports a black baseball cap, worn backward.

In November, Foster said that she was hoping her stepmother, “American Idol” runner-up Katherine McPhee, would perform at her wedding.

“So (McPhee) wrote me the other day, she was like, ‘Is there anything that I can be doing to help you prepare?'” Foster said. “And I said, ‘Yes. Vocal exercises. Prepare your voice because you will be performing.’ She’s like, ‘OK.'”

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Foster’s rep did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Westlake Legal Group Erin-Foster Erin Foster marries Simon Tikhman in New Year's Eve wedding: report Nate Day fox-news/person/katharine-mcphee fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 803e798a-aaf0-5b9f-ac48-cb2e9b28deba   Westlake Legal Group Erin-Foster Erin Foster marries Simon Tikhman in New Year's Eve wedding: report Nate Day fox-news/person/katharine-mcphee fox-news/entertainment/events/marriage fox-news/entertainment/events/couples fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 803e798a-aaf0-5b9f-ac48-cb2e9b28deba

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Kayleigh McEnany: Trump winning, Democrats whining — president achieved in 2019 despite obstruction

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118949808001_6118947736001-vs Kayleigh McEnany: Trump winning, Democrats whining — president achieved in 2019 despite obstruction Kayleigh McEnany fox-news/us/economy fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/robert-mueller fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc d1da1a55-3aba-5047-afd3-a09dec8be3dc article /FOX NEWS/WORLD/GLOBAL ECONOMY/Trade

While Democrats spent the year of 2019 obstructing, President Trump spent the year achieving.

Neither an almost $35 million Mueller investigation, ending in an exonerating report, nor a sham impeachment effort could deter Trump from moving forward with the business of the American people.

Indeed, in 2019, America saw landmark trade deals negotiated, historic progress on long-stalled issues like paid family leave, and a robust U.S. economy hugely benefiting low- and middle-income Americans.

REP. MARK GREEN: WANT TO SAVE AMERICA? EMBRACING THIS GIFT FROM THE FOUNDERS IS THE ONLY WAY

In 2019, the president continued to make good on his promise to rip up NAFTA and negotiate and push a new, modern, America First trade deal through the halls of Congress.

For more than a year, Democrats held up the Trump-negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. But in an effort to distract from their increasingly unpopular impeachment, Democrats finally permitted a vote on the USMCA, advancing the Trump-negotiated deal that would create almost 200,000 jobs and add $68.2 billion to the economy.

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In addition to a Japan trade deal that would bring in $7 billion in new agricultural trade, Trump completed a phase-one China deal. China agreed to an additional $200 billion in U.S. purchases in addition to rectifying much of the unevenness and unfairness that has characterized the U.S.-China relationship for decades.

These landmark breakthroughs on trade come on top of the hottest economy in modern history, which is making gains for all Americans.

Trump has created 7.1 million new jobs, including one million manufacturing and construction jobs, reversing the trend during the Obama years when 200,000 manufacturing jobs were lost.

Paychecks, meanwhile, are growing at the fastest pace in a decade and twice as fast for low- and middle-income Americans, all while median household income has hit a record high of $65,084.

Furthermore, the poverty rate is at its lowest point since 2007 as 6.2 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.

There is simply no denying the continued success of the Trump economy.  Nor is there any denying the historic progress made on issues which were stalled for decades, issues like paid family leave for federal workers and criminal justice reform. 

There is simply no denying the continued success of the Trump economy.

Nor is there any denying the historic progress made on issues which were stalled for decades, issues like paid family leave for federal workers. This bill Paid, which passed in December, enables 2.1 million federal employees to spend up to 12 weeks with their newborn children.

This noted achievement comes just a year after Trump made significant progress on criminal justice reform, signing into law the First Step Act, which remedies sentencing disparities and undoes a Clinton-era law that disproportionately affected the African American community.

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Both paid family leave and criminal justice reform came with bipartisan support – a rare achievement in Washington.

Beyond these key marks of progress for the Trump administration came the continued construction of a barrier on our southern border, a record 187 judges confirmed by the Senate, the reversal of onerous Obamacare taxes, and a 3.1 percent pay raise for our troops.

These 2019 Trump achievements are but a snapshot of the substantive progress the president has made for the American people.

Democrats, for their part, have chosen to go the way of reckless obstruction, pursuing the first partisan impeachment in history. It was the Russia hoax in 2018.  It was Ukraine in 2019. What will it be in 2020?

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While we do not yet know the next bizarre conspiracy theory of the left, we do know what voters care about: the issues, as the economy, health care, and immigration continue to top the polls in issues that matter to the American voter.

But despite the left’s best effort to obstruct and remove the president, ultimately, the good news of the Trump administration in 2019 and beyond will frame and determine the outcome of the 2020 election.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY KAYLEIGH MCENANY

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118949808001_6118947736001-vs Kayleigh McEnany: Trump winning, Democrats whining — president achieved in 2019 despite obstruction Kayleigh McEnany fox-news/us/economy fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/robert-mueller fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc d1da1a55-3aba-5047-afd3-a09dec8be3dc article /FOX NEWS/WORLD/GLOBAL ECONOMY/Trade   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118949808001_6118947736001-vs Kayleigh McEnany: Trump winning, Democrats whining — president achieved in 2019 despite obstruction Kayleigh McEnany fox-news/us/economy fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/robert-mueller fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc d1da1a55-3aba-5047-afd3-a09dec8be3dc article /FOX NEWS/WORLD/GLOBAL ECONOMY/Trade

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This Is Your Body On Intermittent Fasting

It’s no surprise that intermittent fasting is one of the most popular types of eating plans. You don’t need to measure out food or buy any prepackaged shakes. There are no required weigh-ins or calorie counting. All you really have to do is not eat during certain hours. It’s pretty simple.

There are different ways to go about it, of course. Most people do the 16:8 diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and then eat within an eight-hour window. There’s also the 5:2 diet, where you drastically cut back on calories just two days a week, and there are 24-hour fasts, where you don’t eat anything one day each month.

Regardless of the method, significantly restricting when you eat can throw your body for a loop and cause a handful of odd side effects. Intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone. (People with a history of disordered eating, for example, should definitely avoid it.)

It’s important to know what to expect before you jump into any new eating habit. Here’s what happens to you — mentally, physically and emotionally — when you’re fasting intermittently.

You might lose weight.

Many health experts, including personal trainer Jillian Michaels, say that intermittent fasting actually isn’t that great for weight loss. That’s because you’re not necessarily eating less or cutting back on calories. There are just longer gaps in your day when you’re not eating at all.

That said, many people do lose weight because they consume fewer calories during those restricted food hours.

Eating for only eight hours a day also makes it less likely that you’re having a big meal right before bedtime. Our metabolism goes down when we sleep and we burn fewer calories. Nighttime eating has been linked to both obesity and diabetes.

Intermittent fasting “really does keep you from doing some really bad things, which is to eat a big meal before you go to bed,” said Dr. John Morton, a bariatric surgeon with Yale Medicine. Big meals before bed are “probably the worst thing you can do when it comes to weight loss,” he added.

You could get super hungry.

A lot of people who fast experience hunger pangs, mainly when they start the program. That’s because our bodies are accustomed to using glucose — a sugar that comes from the food we eat — for fuel throughout the day. When it’s deprived of food (and, therefore, glucose), the body will essentially send signals saying, “Hello, aren’t you forgetting something here?”

Once your body gets into the groove of fasting, it will start burning stored body fat for energy rather than glucose. And as you spend more time in a fasted state, your body will get increasingly efficient at burning fat for energy.

In short, those hunger pangs should dissipate and your appetite will level out, Morton said. He added that fasters will ultimately have fewer cravings and hunger pangs the more consistently they fast.

In the meantime, that hungry feeling may drive some people to overeat. “The natural tendency is when you haven’t eaten breakfast, you go, ‘Since I didn’t eat breakfast, I’m going to eat more [for lunch],’” Morton noted.

If the hunger pains are bad enough to interfere with your daily life, get something to eat. The idea is not to starve yourself.

Westlake Legal Group 5e0a5acd25000039a4d31712 This Is Your Body On Intermittent Fasting

jakubzak via Getty Images

Your energy levels and moods will fluctuate.

Research has shown that fasting can cause some people to feel fatigued, dizzy, irritable and depressed.

“In the beginning, your energy levels might be low because you’re not getting the proper nutrients that you need,” said Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and bariatric program director at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

As your body gets used to intermittent fasting, your energy levels will pick back up. “Your body becomes more efficient at using energy and this helps improve mood, mental ability and long-term performance,” Zarabi said.

There’s even some evidence that suggests intermittent fasting can ultimately help fight depression and anxiety. The body releases a hormone called ghrelin when you’re hungry or fasting, which — in high amounts — has been associated with an elevated mood.

Your gut health may improve.

Many people who partake in intermittent fasting note improved gut health. Fasting gives your gut a chance to rest and reset as your digestive system doesn’t have to deal with uncomfortable effects of eating like gas, diarrhea and bloating.

“Anytime you fast, you’re giving your body a break from trying to metabolize what you just ate,” Zarabi said. “By fasting, we let the gut microbiome refresh, which in turn improves our overall digestive pathway.”

Westlake Legal Group 5e0a5c58240000c31c5a4938 This Is Your Body On Intermittent Fasting

Maskot via Getty Images

You could cut your risk for chronic diseases.

Intermittent fasting has been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to recent research from Mount Sinai, this is because fasting reduces inflammation ― and reducing inflammation helps our bodies battle various chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. Researchers are still working to figure out how and why this happens, but the evidence so far suggests that the fasting body produces fewer of the subset of monocytes, a kind of blood cell, that are known to damage tissue and trigger inflammation.

This is a big reason why people who fast intermittently may live longer and stay healthier.

Your heart health could improve.

Intermittent fasting can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides — the type of fat in our blood that’s associated with heart disease. That is, if you lose weight in the process.

“As long as you’re losing weight, you’re going to improve all those things,” Morton said.

Before you start an intermittent fasting program, health experts recommend meeting with a dietitian or physician. There’s a critical distinction between fasting and starving, and if you ignore that, you could wreck your organs and immune system.

The bottom line: pay attention to your body and eat in a way that works best for you.

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China Moves to Steady Its Slowing Economic Growth

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HONG KONG — China on Wednesday moved to inject $115 billion in cash into its financial system, suggesting that Beijing remains concerned about faltering growth despite signs that the world’s second-largest economy is stabilizing.

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, on Wednesday cut the amount of money that it requires the country’s commercial banks to stash away for a rainy day, a measure called the reserve requirement ratio. The move will essentially inject about $115 billion into the financial system after it goes into effect on Monday. The cut comes after a similar move in September.

The change, announced on the New Year’s Day holiday, is likely to focus renewed attention on the health of the Chinese economy, a major driver of global growth. While the move is relatively modest given the vast size of the Chinese economy, it follows a recent meeting of the country’s top economic planners and comes just a few weeks before Beijing releases its growth figures for the last three months of 2019.

China’s leaders are contending with the country’s slowest pace of growth in nearly three decades.

Beijing has been trying to pare down the country’s dependence on borrowing, which helped fuel heady growth in recent years but left big debts on the balance sheets of major corporations and local governments. Reducing that dependence could help prevent major problems down the road, but at the cost of slower growth in the near term.

The Chinese economy has also been hit by President Trump’s trade war. Higher tariffs have made it more expensive to sell Chinese-made goods to American customers, denting China’s factory activity and consumer confidence there. A likely trade truce could limit the damage but still leave many tariffs in place.

Some recent signs had suggested that China’s slowdown was easing. November figures for industrial output and retail sales had suggested the economy was strengthening. The property market, an essential part of the Chinese economy that in recent months had been holding back growth, also appeared to be improving.

But other signs still indicate weakness. The China Beige Book, an economic consulting firm, pointed in its December report to slowing growth in new orders and ramped up borrowing by Chinese companies. “With China’s economy seeing record levels of corporate borrowing,” it said, “is this as good as it gets?”

The cut announced Wednesday was expected by many economists. They see Beijing as trying to find middle ground between supporting economic growth without resorting to more dramatic steps that could rev the economy further but saddle the country with even more debt.

As a result, China’s headline growth figures are widely expected to slow further, though at a measured pace. In the first three quarters of 2019, its output grew 6.2 percent compared with a year before. Still, economists take those figures with a deep amount of skepticism because they tend to be smoother and steadier than those issued by other countries, and they usually hit official targets.

The cut is not unusual so early in the year ahead of China’s Lunar New Year holiday, which begins this year on Jan. 25, and when demand for cash intensifies. The central bank made a similar cut about a year ago.

China’s cut announced on Wednesday reduced the requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage points, to 12.5 percent for large banks.

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