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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 239)

One Day After Trump Called Emoluments Clause ‘Phony,’ Court Sets Hearing in Emoluments Case Against Him

Westlake Legal Group Txri1NykqSNBWYRacmebCfeM7HzY7lh31zWZWHp8QV0 One Day After Trump Called Emoluments Clause ‘Phony,’ Court Sets Hearing in Emoluments Case Against Him r/politics

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Justin Trudeau at mercy of Québec separatists after losing majority in Canadian elections

Justin Trudeau may have clung on by his fingernails in Canada’s election Monday, but his Liberal Party is now at the mercy of a bloc that advocates for the French-speaking province of Québec to separate from the rest of Canada.

Trudeau’s Liberals suffered serious losses in the country’s western plains and on the Atlantic coast, but they would likely have narrowly held on to their parliamentary majority were it not for the unexpected late rise of the Bloc Québécois in Québec.

The Bloc is now in a position to exact concessions from the government in exchange for the support of their MPs in key votes. And if Trudeau’s government crosses the party, they are now in a position to force a fresh election, potentially just months after Canadians last went to the polls.

TRUDEAU RIVAL SAYS CANADIAN LIBERALS PUT ‘ON NOTICE’ AFTER NARROW PM VICTORY

The separatist party had long dominated federal politics in Québec in the 1990s and early 2000s, but as voters in the province started to lose their appetite for statehood, they stopped voting for the party that fought for it.  After winning 49 of the province’s then-75 seats in 2008, the party crashed to just four in 2011, and 10 in 2015.

The general consensus, both within Québec and beyond, was that the Bloc was a spent force, advocating a cause viewed with a degree of ridicule by a younger generation of Québécois. The social-democratic values that the party espoused, it was believed, were better represented in the federalist, and pan-Canadian, New Democratic and Liberal parties. Quebecers elected 59 (out of 75) and 40 (out of 78) of those parties’ MPs in the 2011 and 2015 elections, respectively.

Westlake Legal Group blanchet Justin Trudeau at mercy of Québec separatists after losing majority in Canadian elections fox-news/world/world-regions/canada fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/person/justin-trudeau fox news fnc/world fnc Benson Cook article 200fcbef-0c72-552a-a6c3-924b3241d7d4

The block is led by charismatic new leader Yves-François Blanchet, pictured Monday night.  (Benson Cook)

But with the rise of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), a conservative-populist political party at the provincial level that took power in Québec City last year, the electoral calculus began to change for the Bloc.

TRUMP CONGRATULATES TRUDEAU ON SECOND-TERM WIN AFTER CANADIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Under Québec’s new CAQ Premier, François Legault, the province has begun to demand more autonomy — but, critically, not outright independence — from the rest of Canada.  New provincial laws passed by the CAQ, such as Bill 21, which bars those who wear religious symbols from holding a broad range of public-sector jobs, horrified the province’s English-speaking minority and were dismissed by Canada’s other 9 provinces as both discriminatory and unconstitutional, but have proven popular with Québec French-speaking majority.

It was against this backdrop that the Bloc refashioned itself as vanguards of the province’s people and culture, rather than a vehicle to achieve statehood, under their charismatic new leader, Yves-François Blanchet.  The Bloc’s campaign slogan, “le Québec, c’est nous” (Québec is ours), attracted controversy for its exclusionary tone, but it drove voters concerned with protecting the French language and “laïcité”, or secularism, back to the party.

The former television personality was the only one of Canada’s five major party leaders to defend Bill 21 during the federal election campaign, insisting that its popularity with Québec voters meant it should not be challenged by Ottawa in court. After Trudeau firmly left the door open to doing just that in a French-language television debate late in the campaign, his party began to hemorrhage votes to the Bloc in opinion polls.

Westlake Legal Group quebec-sign Justin Trudeau at mercy of Québec separatists after losing majority in Canadian elections fox-news/world/world-regions/canada fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/person/justin-trudeau fox news fnc/world fnc Benson Cook article 200fcbef-0c72-552a-a6c3-924b3241d7d4

The Bloc’s campaign slogan, “le Québec, c’est nous” (Québec is ours), attracted controversy for its exclusionary tone, but it drove voters concerned with protecting the French language and “laïcité”, or secularism, back to the party. (Benson Cook)

This caused both Trudeau and Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer to put the Bloc in their crosshairs. In the final television debate of the campaign, both leaders spent a notable exchange claiming that a vote for the Bloc was actually a vote for the other leaders’ party.

‘HARRY POTTER’ CAMPAIGN SIGNS POP UP IN CANADA AHEAD OF ELECTION

This prompted a bemused response from Blanchet when he spoke to reporters after the debate, saying only, “a vote for the Bloc is a vote for the Bloc.”

The two major party leaders also warned voters that a vote for the Bloc could be a vote for another referendum on Québec independence, something polls have shown there is little appetite for anymore in the province.

“[Another referendum] is not what want Quebecers want…while other people are trying to divide us, we’re going to stay focused on moving forward all together,” Trudeau said on his final campaign stop of the campaign in Vancouver.

But this tactic failed to stop the Bloc’s return to relevancy in Canadian politics, and the party will now hold the balance of power in a closely-divided Parliament.

As results rolled in on Monday night, showing Trudeau’s Liberals had lost their majority, Liberal strategists conceded that the party would likely have won a clearer victory were it not for the surge of the Bloc in Québec.  The party won 32 of Québec’s 78 seats in the Canadian Parliament, just behind the Liberals’ 35 seat-total in the province. The party also won the French-speaking vote in Québec for the first time since 2008, a major symbolic victory.

The diminished Trudeau government will now need the votes of either Bloc MPs or some other opposition party to pass any legislation through the House of Commons.

In the successive minority governments that ran Canada from 2004 to 2011, the Bloc frequently demanded federal cash for boutique projects in the province, such as Québec City’s vast (and disused) multi-million-dollar hockey arena, in exchange for their help passing budgets and other laws. The former Conservative government of Stephen Harper’s refusal to fund that Québec City arena in 2011 was what caused Bloc MPs to force a fresh election that year.

In a fiery victory speech delivered entirely in French, Blanchet thanked the party’s young supporters for “waiting eight years” to see the party rise from the ashes to its former place in politics.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

And in a clear warning shot to Trudeau’s Liberals, the former television personality reiterated that his party will not “work with any government”, but would rather “collaborate” on individual pieces of legislation, so long as “gains could be made” for his province.

Westlake Legal Group quebec-sign Justin Trudeau at mercy of Québec separatists after losing majority in Canadian elections fox-news/world/world-regions/canada fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/person/justin-trudeau fox news fnc/world fnc Benson Cook article 200fcbef-0c72-552a-a6c3-924b3241d7d4   Westlake Legal Group quebec-sign Justin Trudeau at mercy of Québec separatists after losing majority in Canadian elections fox-news/world/world-regions/canada fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/person/justin-trudeau fox news fnc/world fnc Benson Cook article 200fcbef-0c72-552a-a6c3-924b3241d7d4

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Would You Like Fries With That? McDonald’s Already Knows the Answer

Westlake Legal Group 00mctech-facebookJumbo Would You Like Fries With That? McDonald’s Already Knows the Answer Start-ups restaurants McDonald's Corporation Fast Food Industry Easterbrook, Stephen J (1967- ) Artificial Intelligence

McDonald’s has a new plan to sell more Big Macs: act like Big Tech.

Over the last seven months, the fast-food chain has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire technology companies that specialize in artificial intelligence and machine learning. McDonald’s has even established a new tech hub in the heart of Silicon Valley — the McD Tech Labs — where a team of engineers and data scientists is working on voice-recognition software.

The goal? To turn McDonald’s, a chain better known for supersized portions than for supercomputers, into a saltier, greasier version of Amazon.

As fast-food sales decline across the increasingly competitive marketplace, McDonald’s is looking for new ways to lure customers. On Tuesday, the chain said same-store sales in the United States were weaker than expected for the third quarter, sending shares lower.

But in the coming years, its machine learning technology could change how consumers decide what to eat — and, in a potentially ominous development for their waistlines, make them eat more.

So far, the new technological advances can be experienced mostly at the chain’s thousands of drive-throughs, where for years menu boards have displayed a familiar array of McDonald’s favorites: Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, Chicken McNuggets.

Now, the chain has digital boards programmed to market that food more strategically, taking into account such factors as the time of day, the weather, the popularity of certain menu items and the length of the wait. On a hot afternoon, for example, the board might promote soda rather than coffee. At the conclusion of every transaction, screens now display a list of recommendations, nudging customers to order more.

At some drive-throughs, McDonald’s has tested technology that can recognize license-plate numbers, allowing the company to tailor a list of suggested purchases to a customer’s previous orders, as long as the person agrees to sign away the data.

“You just grow to expect that in other parts of your life. Why should it be different when you’re ordering at McDonald’s?” said Daniel Henry, the chain’s chief information officer. “We don’t think food should be any different than what you buy on Amazon.”

As the evolution of the McDonald’s drive-through shows, the internet shopping experience, with its recommendation algorithms and personalization, is increasingly shaping the world of brick-and-mortar retail, as restaurants, clothing stores, supermarkets and other businesses use new technology to collect consumer data and then deploy that information to encourage more spending.

At some stores, Bluetooth devices now track shoppers’ movements, allowing companies to send texts and emails recommending products that customers lingered over but did not buy. And a number of retailers are experimenting with facial-recognition tools and other technologies — sometimes known as “offline cookies” — that allow businesses to gather information about customers even when they are away from their computers.

In the restaurant world, the increasingly popular food-delivery apps have produced a slew of customer data. But much of that information is controlled by third-party technology companies rather than by the restaurants themselves, underlining the importance of tech expertise in an increasingly competitive industry.

“A lot of the restaurant chains, the larger ones that have the cash and the clout and the depth, are really turning into quasi-technology companies,” said Michael Atkinson, who runs Orderscape, a company that provides voice-ordering technology. “All of them have that ambition.”

In recent years, Domino’s Pizza has distinguished itself as a technology leader in the slow-moving world of pizza (it’s hard to disrupt a crust recipe), aiming to capture the growing food-delivery market with streamlined phone and online ordering systems, data-collection techniques and even self-driving cars.

Like the new McD Tech Labs in California, Domino’s also has a tech headquarters: the “innovation garage” in Ann Arbor, Mich., where teams of employees drawn from departments across the company work on specific projects under one roof — an approach borrowed from Silicon Valley.

“That’s 60 years’ worth of legacy corporate structure that we have blown up by moving into this building,” said Dennis Maloney, the company’s chief digital officer. “Domino’s started off as a pizza company that sells online, and we’ve managed to transform ourselves into an e-commerce company that sells pizza.”

So far, however, Domino’s has stopped short of the latest McDonald’s play: acquiring entire tech start-ups. (Pizza Hut, however, recently acquired a company that produces online ordering software.) In March, McDonald’s spent more than $300 million to buy Dynamic Yield, the Tel Aviv-based company that developed the artificial intelligence tools now used at thousands of McDonald’s drive-throughs.

The deal “has changed the way the high-tech industry thinks about potential M&A,” said Liad Agmon, a former Israeli intelligence official who co-founded Dynamic Yield. “We’ll see more nontraditional tech companies buying tech companies as an accelerator for their digital efforts. It was genius on McDonald’s side.”

Already, the recommendation algorithms built into the drive-through menu boards have generated larger orders, the McDonald’s chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, said during an earnings call in July. (Mr. Henry, the chain’s information executive, declined to reveal the size of the increase.) By the end of the year, the new system is expected to be in place at nearly every McDonald’s drive-through in the U.S.

In September, McDonald’s purchased a second tech company, Apprente, a start-up based in Mountain View, Calif., that develops voice-activated platforms that can process orders in multiple languages and accents. In recent months, McDonald’s has tested voice recognition at some of its restaurants, seeking to replace the human workers who take orders with a faster system.

McDonald’s insists that the rollout of the voice technology will not cost jobs. But at a time when it faces renewed protests from workers over low wages and sexual harassment, the chain’s new focus on technology could intensify scrutiny of how it treats its workers and how they might be affected by automation. While McDonalds has reported impressive growth over the last couple of years, some employees at its restaurants make less than $10 an hour.

“Try raising a family on that,” said Adriana Alvarez, an employee in Cicero, Ill., who has helped lead the high-profile campaign for a $15 hourly wage at McDonald’s. “The company should be able to balance tech and other investments and, in the process, ensure workers like me are safe on the job and have a seat at the table.”

With unemployment at just 3.5 percent in the United States, the fast-food industry is facing one of its worst labor shortages in decades. Rather than eliminate jobs, McDonald’s claims that voice-recognition technology would allow franchise owners to reassign workers to understaffed areas of their restaurants. But across the industry, fast-food experts say, some chains may attempt to use voice tools and other technologies to replace workers.

“The labor shortage frankly has done more to push restaurants toward technology than almost anything else,” said Jonathan Maze, the executive editor of Restaurant Business Magazine, a trade publication. “It enables you theoretically to be able to run your restaurant with fewer people.”

At the McDonald’s drive-through on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn, every order still must go through a human being: Last week, the voice on the other end of the speaker sounded perplexed when a reporter turned down the free soda that usually comes with a cheeseburger and fries.

But the rest of the drive-through experience — with its digital screens and recommendation algorithms — does indeed feel a bit like shopping online.

“It’s a great, efficient way to take people’s money,” said Marayah Jerry as she waited at the drive-through to collect a Ranch Snack Wrap. “I’ll come with an idea of what I want, and then I see the pictures, and I’m like, ‘That looks good.’”

Another drive-through customer, Dalila Ruiz, said she noticed the suggested add-ons at the bottom of the menu board but resisted the temptation to splurge. “I don’t want to be so fat,” Ms. Ruiz said.

Not all McDonald’s customers are likely to show such discipline. Critics of artificial intelligence have long warned that the technology could lead to a dystopian future in which humans are subordinate to machines.

Before the robot apocalypse, however, A.I. might simply make us fatter.

“There are real, significant unintended consequences of something like this further driving unhealthy eating and more fast-food eating and obesity rates and diabetes rates going up,” said Scott Kahan, a doctor who directs the National Center for Weight and Wellness, an obesity clinic in Washington, D.C. “These sorts of technologies are making it hard for people to just find some reasonable moderation.”

There is plenty of precedent for companies like McDonald’s finding creative ways to persuade Americans to consume more calories. But the marriage of a fast-food giant and an artificial-intelligence start-up marks an unusual new chapter.

When Mr. Agmon, the co-founder of Dynamic Yield, announced the McDonald’s acquisition in a company WhatsApp chat in March, his colleagues thought he was joking. “When you start working for a tech company,” Mr. Agmon said, “you don’t expect this.”

Soon, however, the news began to sink in: The next day, 250 McDonald’s hamburgers arrived at Dynamic Yield’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, along with fries for the whole staff.

But this wasn’t really a McDonald’s crowd. By the time the staff finished hugging and congratulating each other, the burgers were cold.

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With Syria on the Table, Erdogan Pays Court to Putin

Westlake Legal Group 22russia-turkey1-facebookJumbo With Syria on the Table, Erdogan Pays Court to Putin United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Putin, Vladimir V Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Assad, Bashar al-

SOCHI, Russia — His jets patrol Syrian skies. His military is expanding operations at the main naval base in Syria. He is forging closer ties to Turkey. He and his Syrian allies are moving into territory being vacated by the United States.

And on Tuesday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia played host to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, for talks on how they and other regional players will divide control of Syria, a land devastated by eight years of civil war.

Mr. Putin has emerged as the dominant force in Syria and a major power broker in the broader Middle East — a status showcased by Mr. Erdogan’s hastily arranged trip to the president’s summer home in Sochi. And it looks increasingly clear that Russia, which rescued the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria with brutal airstrikes over the last four years, will be the arbiter of the power balance there.

As President Trump questions American alliances and troop deployments around the world, Russia, like China, has been flexing its muscles, eager to fill the power vacuum left by a more isolationist United States. In Syria, both Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan see opportunity in Mr. Trump’s sudden withdrawal this month of American forces in the country.

Mr. Erdogan had long wanted to go to war against the Kurdish-led forces that control northeast Syria, but he dared not, as long as the Kurds’ American allies were stationed there, too. He responded to Mr. Trump’s withdrawal by launching an invasion.

Tuesday’s meeting began hours before the end of an American-brokered truce between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria, where Mr. Erdogan says his troops have seized more than 900 square miles of territory since invading on Oct. 6.

“The U.S. is still the 500-pound gorilla,” said Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based research group. “If the U.S. decided that ‘issue X’ was a primary concern to its national security, there would be very little that anybody in the region could do about it.”

But with the United States increasingly removing itself from the picture — as symbolized in the Russian news media by the images of abandoned washing machines and unopened cans of Coca-Cola left behind in the chaotic withdrawal — now it is Russia whose tacit consent Mr. Erdogan needs to consolidate and extend his gains.

“Before, Turkey could play the U.S. against Russia and Russia against the U.S.,” said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, an Istanbul-based research group. “Now that’s no longer the case, and Russia has shaped up to be Turkey’s only real counterpart in Syria.”

Tuesday’s meeting looked to be a culmination of Mr. Putin’s yearslong strategy of taking advantage of Western divisions to build closer ties with Turkey — a NATO member and long a key United States ally — and to increase Moscow’s influence in the Middle East.

As the United States and Western Europe vacillated in their approach to Syria — to the frustration of Turkey and other Middle Eastern powers — Russia chose to protect its ally, Mr. al-Assad, and stuck with him despite fierce criticism from the West that the Syrian ruler was a brutal despot.

The upshot, Russians now say, is that while their country lacks the West’s economic might, it can be counted on to keep its word.

“Some people are furious again, some people are jealous and some people are drawn to power,” Dmitri Kiselyov, the prominent host of a news program on state-controlled television, told viewers Sunday night. “Whatever the case, Erdogan is flying to Russia to meet with Putin.”

The negotiations highlight the loss of American influence in the days since Mr. Trump ordered troops to withdraw from northeast Syria. The pullout not only cleared the way for Turkey’s assault on American allies, it also prompted the area’s Kurdish leaders to turn to Mr. al-Assad’s government and its main backer, Russia, for protection.

This sudden alliance has allowed Syrian government forces back into parts of northeast Syria that they have not entered in half a decade and thrust Mr. Putin even more prominently into the Syrian affairs.

“The situation in the region is very tense — we understand that,” Mr. Putin said as he began talks with Mr. Erdogan. “I would like to express the hope that the level of Russian-Turkish relations that has been attained recently will play a role in resolving all of the issues that the region has encountered and will help find answers to all questions, even very difficult ones, in the interests of Turkey, Russia, and all countries.”

Russian television showed Mr. Putin looking relaxed as he delivered his opening remarks, leaning back and his hands clasped easily over an armrest. Mr. Erdogan, by contrast, sat up straight as he eyed his Russian counterpart.

Mr. Putin, who relishes chances to drive wedges into Western alliances, has drawn closer to Mr. Erdogan, whose relations with Europe and the United States have been rocky. They have met eight times this year, according to Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin foreign policy adviser.

In July, Turkey defied Western warnings and began taking delivery of a Russian antiaircraft missile system, prompting the United States to cancel Turkey’s purchase of American-made fighter jets. NATO had warned that the purchase could reveal Western technological secrets to Russia, and that the Russian weapons were incompatible with the alliance’s systems.

Mr. Putin has also cultivated ties to the United States’ closest American ally in the region, Israel, and its bitterest adversary, Iran, another supporter of Mr. al-Assad.

Russia “doesn’t have the economic or military capabilities the U.S. has,” Mr. Eissenstat said, “but it has been very savvy about using its power in limited and effective means.”

Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Putin were expected on Tuesday to discuss whether Turkey will be allowed to expand its sphere of influence beyond the central pocket of formerly Kurdish-held territory that Turkish-led forces have already seized this month.

“With my dear friend Putin, we will discuss the current situation in northern Syria, primarily to the east of the Euphrates,” Mr. Erdogan said to reporters at an airport in Ankara, shortly before departing for Russia.

Kurdish fighters had managed to carve out their own autonomous region in northeast Syria, free of government control, amid the chaos of the eight-year civil war. They greatly expanded their territory from 2015 onward, when they became the principal Syrian partner of an American-led coalition working to defeat militants from the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS.

As Kurdish fighters won back ISIS-held land, they took over its governance, eventually establishing control over roughly a quarter of Syria.

Mr. Erdogan’s goal is to create a buffer zone along the entire length of the Turkish-Syrian border, roughly 20 miles deep, to keep Kurdish fighters from getting within mortar range of Turkey. Analysts in Moscow expect Mr. Putin to accept some measure of Turkish control over a buffer zone, though it’s not clear how deep into Syrian territory he would agree for it to extend, or how it would be policed.

Mr. Erdogan views the main Kurdish militia in northeast Syria, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, as a threat to Turkish national security, since the group is an offshoot of a guerrilla movement that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

“We understand Turkey’s concern in connection with the need to ensure its safety and with the need to fight terrorist elements,” the Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov told reporters on Tuesday, ahead of the meeting.

“But we are also expecting that all actions should be proportionate to these concerns and that these actions should in no way make the process of peaceful political settlement in Syria more difficult.”

For Mr. Putin, the meeting with Mr. Erdogan provides an opportunity to solidify and extend Mr. al-Assad’s hold on power.

Mr. al-Assad attempted to project his own influence on Tuesday, visiting the northwestern province of Idlib for the first time since the area fell out of government control several years ago. He was pictured near the front line of a battle between rebels and his own military, in photographs released by a state-run news agency.

Before his meeting with Mr. Erdogan was arranged, Mr. Putin was already scheduled to be in Sochi this week to host the leaders of 43 African countries, a first-of-its-kind summit that will offer another measure of Russia’s growing foreign policy ambitions.

Turkey is part of NATO, which Russia sees as an adversary. But ties between Moscow and Ankara have rapidly warmed as a result of the war in Syria and growing tensions between Turkey and its longtime allies in Western Europe and the United States.

As American troops crossed the border from Syria into Iraq this week, the Iraqi government faced questions about whether the withdrawal was camouflage for an American buildup in Iraq. The United States military has a large camp in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and the troops are going there until arrangements are made for them to move on.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper seemed mindful of the Iraqis’ concerns on Monday when he wrote on Twitter, “As we withdraw from NE Syria, we will temporarily reposition those forces in the region outside Syria until they return home.”

The Iraqis had agreed that the Americans could leave Syria through Iraq and then fly out to Kuwait or Doha, according to generals in the Iraqi Joint Command. In a statement, the Joint Command said that it wanted to make clear that “there is an agreement for U.S. troops to enter Iraqi Kurdistan in order to leave Syria, but there is no approval for them to stay in Iraq.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump said he wanted troops in Iraq to “watch Iran,” angering Iraqi politicians who said they feared the United States would use Iraq as a launching pad for a war against Iran.

Anton Troianovski reported from Sochi, and Patrick Kingsley from Istanbul. Alissa J. Rubin contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

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Democrats now have a real chance at winning the Senate in 2020

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Expansive Durham probe could give Trump ammo amid impeachment fight

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093455460001_6093453799001-vs Expansive Durham probe could give Trump ammo amid impeachment fight fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 6791df37-608f-53b4-9793-bb656caaa8ce

U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the intelligence and law enforcement communities’ handling of the Russia probe is quietly but steadily expanding under the shadow of the high-profile House impeachment inquiry against President Trump—and could represent something of a wild card in the president’s attempts to fight back.

Attorney General Bill Barr appointed Durham, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut, to ensure intelligence collection activities by the U.S. government related to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign were “lawful and appropriate.”

WHERE IS THE FISA REPORT? ANTICIPATION BUILDS AS DOJ WATCHDOG STILL HASN’T RELEASED REVIEW

His probe reportedly will soon focus on the roles of key Obama administration intelligence officials like John Brennan and James Clapper. And it converges with other simultaneous investigations, including Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s probe of alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, which, coupled together, could give the president ammunition to attack his critics, even if the material does not directly relate to the Ukraine controversy fueling the impeachment push.

“If the rumors are true that IG Horowitz’s report and findings in Durham’s review will blast the conduct of the FBI’s Russia investigation, it will give Trump a lot of ammo to support his argument that he was unjustly targeted then and is being unjustly targeted now,” a House GOP source told Fox News on Tuesday. “It will justify Trump’s warnings about the Deep State acting to hobble his presidency.”

Trump claimed Tuesday that the impeachment push amounted to a “lynching” — which touched off a round of fiery condemnation from Democratic critics.

“The president should not compare a constitutionally mandated impeachment inquiry to such a dangerous and dark chapter in American history,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters.

But as Trump and Democrats loudly clash over the probe, Durham has pressed forward quietly with an investigation that could ding the reputations of some of Trump’s biggest critics.

Durham was appointed to review the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and through Trump’s January 20, 2017 inauguration. But Fox News has learned that he’s since expanded his investigation to cover a post-election timeline spanning the spring of 2017—when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel.

Durham is “gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, who also acknowledged that Trump has helped to facilitate communications for Barr and Durham with foreign powers.

“At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” Kupec said last month.

Barr and Durham have already traveled to Italy to speak with law enforcement officials, and have also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the probe, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.

TRUMP CALLS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY ‘LYNCHING,’ CLAIMS PROCESS PUTS FUTURE PRESIDENTS AT RISK

Durham also has reportedly expressed interest in interviewing several current and former intelligence officials. Former CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News that Durham plans to interview him and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

A spokesman for Clapper did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Meanwhile, Horowitz is expected to release his long-awaited review of alleged FISA abuses by the Department of Justice and the FBI during the Russia investigation—there has been speculation that his report could drop any day.

Horowitz, for more than a year and a half, has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Justice Department and FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump campaign official that the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.

Horowitz’s highly anticipated findings could spark new congressional investigations and deliver critical information to Durham’s probe.

Horowitz has been probing how the salacious anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016, as well as three renewals. Horowitz also has looked into why the FBI may have regarded Steele – funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie – a credible source, and why the bureau used news reports to bolster Steele’s credibility before the FISA court.

“As soon as Horowitz is done with his review of the FISA warrant application, the counterintelligence investigation, the Trump campaign, we’ll have a hearing in public with Horowitz and we’ll call a bunch of witnesses,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox Business Network’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Graham has vowed to probe alleged FISA abuses at the start of the Russia investigation, saying earlier this year that his Senate committee would look for answers on how much money the Democrats paid research firm Fusion GPS to commission the dossier compiled by Steele, or if the contents of the dossier have been verified.

It is unclear if Graham, amid the House impeachment inquiry, has begun this investigation. But Graham has said that he could call on Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former FBI Director James Comey to appear before his panel.

The president and his allies are already touting the progress being made by Durham, and are hoping Horowitz’s report will provide new fodder to counter impeachment talk.

“Democrats are afraid that the reports will validate what the president has been saying for years—his enemies in Congress are so desperate to undo the results of the 2016 election that they will manufacture conspiracies and sell them to the American people,” a senior Republican aide told Fox News on Tuesday.

Trump has the authority to declassify and release as much of the report as he wants, and has been hyping its forthcoming release.

“I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe, the level of corruption—whether it’s [James] Comey; whether it’s [Peter] Strzok and his lover, [Lisa] Page; whether it’s so many other people—[Andrew] McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself,” Trump told reporters last week.

“Let’s see whether or not it’s President Obama. Let’s see whether or not they put that in,” he added.

The president has sought to shift focus on the current impeachment inquiry in the House to potential misconduct that could be found in these ongoing investigations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the formal process last month, following revelations surrounding the president’s summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he pressed for politically charged investigations.

As detailed in a whistleblower complaint and transcript of the call, Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over their dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why the elder Biden pressured the former Ukrainian president to fire a top prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas firm where Hunter sat on the board.

The president’s request also came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, something critics have cited as evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement. The White House and the president’s allies have denied a quid pro quo — though Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to say otherwise, before walking it back — and the Bidens have maintained that they did “nothing wrong.”

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Bret Baier, and Gregg Re contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093455460001_6093453799001-vs Expansive Durham probe could give Trump ammo amid impeachment fight fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 6791df37-608f-53b4-9793-bb656caaa8ce   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093455460001_6093453799001-vs Expansive Durham probe could give Trump ammo amid impeachment fight fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Brooke Singman article 6791df37-608f-53b4-9793-bb656caaa8ce

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Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: ‘I felt like I had been stabbed’

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW 

A British woman claims she developed a rare bacterial infection after she was bitten by an insect while on vacation.

Faye Wilkes, 41, was vacationing in Spain when she says she was bitten by an insect while sun tanning by the pool. At first, she didn’t think much of the bite — until she woke up that night with what she described as “shooting pain” in her left leg. A few days later, she had trouble walking, she claims.

“I felt like I had been stabbed in my left leg. It instantly began burning up, and I thought it was probably just a silly mosquito bite, so I went into the pool to cool it off,” she told South West News Service (SWNS), a British news agency.

DAD’S SKIN CANCER BATTLE LEAVES HIM WITH MASSIVE CHUNK MISSING FROM NECK, BACK

Westlake Legal Group bite-mare-a-wom-426801 Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: 'I felt like I had been stabbed' Madeline Farber fox-news/health/infectious-disease/flesh-eating-bacteria fox news fnc/health fnc article 8f23b332-9c6d-581c-99db-e5e73e91ed68

Faye Wilkes while she was in the Royal Surrey Hospital. (SWNS)

“From the moment my leg began hurting, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time,” she continued. “After it started scabbing and I had difficulty walking, I knew I needed to get help.”

Wilkes sought medical attention at a local hospital in Benidorm, but claims doctors there did little to help her. With no relief, Wilkes said she trusted her “gut instinct” and decided to cut her trip short and fly home.

Westlake Legal Group bite-mare-a-wom-426799 Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: 'I felt like I had been stabbed' Madeline Farber fox-news/health/infectious-disease/flesh-eating-bacteria fox news fnc/health fnc article 8f23b332-9c6d-581c-99db-e5e73e91ed68

Faye Wilkes before the bite. (SWNS)

“I was too weak to walk on my own and I began being sick every five minutes as I boarded the flight,” she told SWNS, adding flight staff called an ambulance for her when they arrived at London’s Gatwick Airport. She was then transported to Royal Surrey Hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis as a result of a rare bacterial infection called necrotizing fasciitis, colloquially referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria.”

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly throughout the body and can lead to death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment and prompt surgery are vital to stopping the infection from spreading. The bacteria most commonly enter the body through a break in the skin such as cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds or surgical wounds.

Westlake Legal Group bite-mare-a-wom-426798 Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: 'I felt like I had been stabbed' Madeline Farber fox-news/health/infectious-disease/flesh-eating-bacteria fox news fnc/health fnc article 8f23b332-9c6d-581c-99db-e5e73e91ed68

Faye Wilkes developed sepsis as a result of the infection, she said. (SWNS)

In addition to a red swollen area of the skin, severe pain beyond the area of infected skin as well as fever may be signs of necrotizing fasciitis. The CDC advises getting to the doctor right away if any of these symptoms develop after an injury or surgery.

Later symptoms of the infection may include ulcers, blisters or black spots on the skin, changes in the color of the skin, pus or oozing, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea or nausea.

Necrotizing fasciitis can lead to shock, sepsis and organ failure, or life-long complications from severe scarring and loss of limb. Even with rapid treatment, up to one in three patients diagnosed dies from the infection, according to the CDC.

Westlake Legal Group bite-mare-a-wom-426792 Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: 'I felt like I had been stabbed' Madeline Farber fox-news/health/infectious-disease/flesh-eating-bacteria fox news fnc/health fnc article 8f23b332-9c6d-581c-99db-e5e73e91ed68

A more recent photo of her affected foot. (SWNS)

“I was absolutely horrified, as I didn’t think a measly bite from a bug in Benidorm would result in sepsis, let alone the [near] loss of my leg,” Wilkes said, noting doctors reportedly told her she was “close to death” when she first arrived.

NEWS ANCHOR DIAGNOSED WITH MOLAR PREGNANCY, UNDERGOING CHEMOTHERAPY

“Luckily, they were able to flush out the infection without having to do any invasive surgery, but I still feel incredibly weak,” she added. “The main thing is that I’m alive and I still have my left leg and foot — but I know I still have a long way to go until I’m out of the woods. I had to learn to walk again and build up my strength.”

The news comes after a Utah mom opened up about her terrifying experience with necrotizing fasciitis, which nearly killed her and led to the loss of her right arm.

Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group bite-mare-a-wom-426801 Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: 'I felt like I had been stabbed' Madeline Farber fox-news/health/infectious-disease/flesh-eating-bacteria fox news fnc/health fnc article 8f23b332-9c6d-581c-99db-e5e73e91ed68   Westlake Legal Group bite-mare-a-wom-426801 Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria after insect bite, nearly loses foot: 'I felt like I had been stabbed' Madeline Farber fox-news/health/infectious-disease/flesh-eating-bacteria fox news fnc/health fnc article 8f23b332-9c6d-581c-99db-e5e73e91ed68

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Illegal BASE Jumper Gets Stuck On Cell Tower

Westlake Legal Group 5daf21182000008c1c50672e Illegal BASE Jumper Gets Stuck On Cell Tower

MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) — A BASE jumper who jumped illegally from a northwestern Wisconsin cellphone tower ended up calling the police on himself after his parachute became caught on a guy wire, leaving him dangling perilously 50 feet (15 meters) from the ground.

Police say the 20-year-old man jumped from the 300-foot (90-meter) Charter Communications tower in Menomonie on Thursday morning.

After his rescue at around 9:30 a.m., the man was treated at Mayo Clinic Health System and arrested for criminal trespass.

BASE jumping stands for building, antenna, span and earth — the four common objects from which BASE jumpers launch their descent.

Menomonie is 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Minneapolis.

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Oga’s Cantina at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge now accepting reservations 60 days in advance

Now you can guarantee your Blue Bantha milk and Happabore Sampler well in advance.

Disneyland visitors are now able to make reservations up to two months in advance for Oga’s Cantina at the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The park announced the new reservation policy Monday, which also extends to Savi’s Workshop and Droid Depot within the Star Wars land.

NEW DETAILS EMERGE FOR STAR WARS: RISE OF THE RESISTANCE AT DISNEY

Westlake Legal Group 7-Cantina Oga's Cantina at Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge now accepting reservations 60 days in advance fox-news/travel/general/theme-parks fox-news/travel/general/family-travel fox-news/travel/general/disney fox news fnc/travel fnc article Alexandra Deabler 352e1063-dc63-5f23-b234-5261b69d97d2

Disneyland visitors are now able to make reservations up to two months in advance for Oga’s Cantina at the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened in May. (Dave Parfitt)

The move comes after guests reportedly had to wait up to an hour to get a spot in the coveted cantina, which serves alcohol and other Star Wars-themed provisions.

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The fully immersive dining spot has earned high praise from visitors – including Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who shared his experience on Twitter.

To make a reservation, guests can book either through the Disneyland Resort website or the park app, according to a press release.

Disneyland already has several bookable experiences and restaurants offered 60 days in advance around the park.

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In addition to the expanded reservation options, Disneyland has also announced that a new ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will be opening Jan. 17, 2020.

“Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will bring guests face to face with some of their favorite Star Wars characters, including Resistance heroes Rey, Poe and Finn, as well as Kylo Ren and General Hux of the First Order,” reads the official description, per the press release.

Westlake Legal Group 7-Cantina Oga's Cantina at Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge now accepting reservations 60 days in advance fox-news/travel/general/theme-parks fox-news/travel/general/family-travel fox-news/travel/general/disney fox news fnc/travel fnc article Alexandra Deabler 352e1063-dc63-5f23-b234-5261b69d97d2   Westlake Legal Group 7-Cantina Oga's Cantina at Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge now accepting reservations 60 days in advance fox-news/travel/general/theme-parks fox-news/travel/general/family-travel fox-news/travel/general/disney fox news fnc/travel fnc article Alexandra Deabler 352e1063-dc63-5f23-b234-5261b69d97d2

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Scarlett Johansson Will Not Let This Pal Host Colin Jost’s Bachelor Party

Westlake Legal Group 5daf0691210000ab21ad38ac Scarlett Johansson Will Not Let This Pal Host Colin Jost’s Bachelor Party

After late night host Jimmy Fallon mentioned that Jost’s “Weekend Update” co-anchor Michael Che was excited to do the party honors, Johansson replied, “Oh no, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“I feel like if he throws it, it’s going to be like by the Port Authority and it’s going to be very local,” the “Black Widow” star said. She didn’t elaborate, but the neighborhood around the Port Authority, a transit hub in midtown Manhattan, has had a reputation for less-savory party activities.

“Michael’s not throwing it,” she told Fallon. “He’s not. Is this a thing now?”

The “Marriage Story” actor added that Che is a “delightful guy” whom she loves. So, maybe there’s room for a change of heart?

Sounds like it could be fun ― for the partygoers anyway.

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