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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 268)

Corden Addresses ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Towing Controversy: ‘I Know It Looks Bad’

Westlake Legal Group 5e32b84d24000064090b72b1 Corden Addresses ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Towing Controversy: ‘I Know It Looks Bad’

James Corden on Wednesday issued a tongue-in-cheek response to the towing controversy that engulfed his “Carpool Karaoke” segment last week.

Fans of “The Late Late Show” freaked out after video showed Corden filming an upcoming edition of the bit with Justin Bieber, in which their car was being towed by a truck.

Corden lightheartedly dubbed the “very, very serious allegations” that he doesn’t drive the car as “fake news,” before acknowledging “this looks bad.”

“But I just want to say, right now, that I always drive the car unless we’re doing something where we think it might not be safe, like a dance routine or a costume change or if I’m drunk,” he deadpanned, later joking, “I’m just shocked I’ve done something that upset people more than ‘Cats.’”

Corden promised that “95% of the time I really am endangering the lives of the world’s biggest pop stars” but encouraged his viewers to understand “this is a TV show, not everything is real. Our show doesn’t tape after midnight, we tape at 5 p.m. and pretend that’s it late.”

“And I hate to be the bearer of even more bad news, but while we’re getting things out in the open, I don’t actually need them to help me get to work, right? Often, I’m at work already,” he added.

Corden also revealed how he’s “never once in the history of doing that bit ever used the carpool lane, there’s not even carpool lane on my way to work” before naming the five times he’s used a tow for the segment.

Check out the clip here:

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Mysterious Bermuda Triangle ‘Ghost Ship’ Discovered 95 Years After It Vanished

The long-lost wreck of the SS Cotopaxi ― a steamship referenced in movies, memes and myth ― has been discovered off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida almost a century after vanishing near the Bermuda Triangle.

“It was incredibly exciting,” Michael Barnette, the diver, author and researcher who helped find the wreck, said via email. “I’ve done a countless number of shipwreck dives but this one truly stood out.”

Barnette is the lead explorer of “Shipwreck Secrets,” a new Science Channel series that will feature the discovery of the Cotopaxi in its premiere episode.   

Westlake Legal Group 5e32a133240000b60d64e729 Mysterious Bermuda Triangle ‘Ghost Ship’ Discovered 95 Years After It Vanished

Science Channel Michael Barnette on the wreck of the SS Cotopaxi searching for clues.

The SS Cotopaxi set off from Charleston, South Carolina and was bound for Havana, Cuba on Nov. 29, 1925, and then vanished. No trace of the ship or its crew of 32 were ever identified, which made the vessel ripe for both folklore and pop culture.

In Steven Spielberg’s 1977 classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the Cotopaxi reappears in the middle of the Gobi Desert: 

And in recent years, social media memes have suggested the Cotopaxi had suddenly appeared, empty and intact, as a “ghost ship” floating off the coast of Cuba. That one was passed around so often that Snopes published an entire page debunking it

As it turned out, the ship wasn’t quite missing. 

Barnette and his team combed through historical documents, including paperwork from the ship’s insurer, to find a previously unknown distress call sent by the Cotopaxi on Dec. 1, 1925. By mapping the ship’s route, the coordinates of the signal and other hints from the documents, they honed in on a site discovered 35 years ago known as the “Bear Wreck.” 

Westlake Legal Group 5e32a15a240000f5080b7057 Mysterious Bermuda Triangle ‘Ghost Ship’ Discovered 95 Years After It Vanished

Science Channel Michael Barnette measuring the wreck of the SS Cotopaxi.

The ship at the site had never been identified; however, Barnette said the evidence in the paperwork combined with what was found during dives at the site of the Bear Wreck led to one conclusion: It was the SS Cotopaxi. 

“There were several elements that confirmed the identity such as the dimensions of the ship, it’s length and the measurement of the boiler,” he said. “Also, I looked at the general orientation of the machinery. It was all consistent with the information we knew about the Cotopaxi.” 

Westlake Legal Group 5e32a1d6240000d3080b7058 Mysterious Bermuda Triangle ‘Ghost Ship’ Discovered 95 Years After It Vanished

Science Channel Diver Joe Citelli inspecting the wreck of the SS Cotopaxi.

While St. Augustine is not located within the so-called Bermuda Triangle, the ship’s mysterious disappearance in the general vicinity led some to connect the ship to the legendary region. The Bermuda Triangle is a loosely defined portion of the Atlantic stretching roughly from Miami to Bermuda to Puerto Rico and some believe ships and planes are more likely to mysteriously vanish there. 

“Personally, I believe it’s all folklore,” Barnette said. 

The U.S. Coast Guard does not recognize the area or its nickname and NOAA’s National Ocean Service said “environmental considerations could explain many, if not most, of the disappearances.” The agency stated:

“The ocean has always been a mysterious place to humans, and when foul weather or poor navigation is involved, it can be a very deadly place. This is true all over the world. There is no evidence that mysterious disappearances occur with any greater frequency in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled area of the ocean.”

In 2018, one scientist claimed the area could be more dangerous ― just not for supernatural reasons. University of Southampton oceanographer Simon Boxall posited that storms from the north and south could meet in the area, leading to rogue waves of up to 100 feet

“Shipwreck Secrets” debuts at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Feb. 9 on the Science Channel, followed by the premiere of a second new series, “Curse of the Bermuda Triangle” at 10 p.m. ET/PT. 

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Schiff says Obama would have been impeached if he asked Russia to investigate Mitt Romney

Westlake Legal Group image Schiff says Obama would have been impeached if he asked Russia to investigate Mitt Romney fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/barack-obama fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc e80443fd-2e52-591d-924c-38cc041c720a Brie Stimson article

House manager Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Wednesday said former President Obama would have been impeached if he had done what President Trump has been charged with in the first article of impeachment.

Schiff was responding to Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz’s argument that a president can’t be impeached for a quid pro quo if he believes it’s in the country’s interest.

Schiff called the defense’s example of Obama being caught on a hot mic in 2012 telling former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he would have more “flexibility” after his re-election a “poor analogy” and “whataboutism.”

DERSHOWITZ MOUNTS UNCONVENTIONAL DEFENSE OF TRUMP AS SENATE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL ENTERS NEW PHASE

“But let’s use that analogy and make it more comparable to today and see how you feel about this scenario,” Schiff told the Senate.

He suggested the hypothetical example of Obama telling Medvedev, “I know you don’t want me to send this money to Ukraine cause they’re fighting and killing your people. I want you to do me a favor though,” Schiff said, echoing wording in Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he allegedly asked him to investigate the Bidens.

“I want you to do an investigation of Mitt Romney and I want you to announce you found dirt on Mitt Romney,” Schiff continued with his hypothetical. “And if you’re willing to do that quid pro quo, I won’t give Ukraine the money to fight you on the front line. “

Schiff then asked senators if there is any question Obama would have been impeached for that kind of conduct.

“That’s the parallel here,” he said.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked in a hypothetical whether or not Obama would have had the authority to seek an investigation into Romney’s son if he had evidence he was earning $1 million a year from a corrupt Russian company and Romney had acted to benefit that company.

Republicans have alleged former Vice President Joe Biden used his White House position to help his son, Hunter, while he served on the board of a Ukrainian oil company, but no evidence of wrongdoing has been found.

Schiff answered that “for a president to withhold military aid from an ally [or] to benefit an adversary to target their political opponent is wrong and corrupt. Period. End of story.”

He added that “rationalizing” that conduct is impeachable.

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Earlier, Dershowitz argued that even if there was a quid pro quo by withholding $391 million in military aid to Ukraine it wouldn’t matter because “if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Westlake Legal Group image Schiff says Obama would have been impeached if he asked Russia to investigate Mitt Romney fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/barack-obama fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc e80443fd-2e52-591d-924c-38cc041c720a Brie Stimson article   Westlake Legal Group image Schiff says Obama would have been impeached if he asked Russia to investigate Mitt Romney fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/barack-obama fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc e80443fd-2e52-591d-924c-38cc041c720a Brie Stimson article

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Coronavirus death toll increases, here’s the latest update on cases

Westlake Legal Group AP20029538081493 Coronavirus death toll increases, here's the latest update on cases fox-news/world fox-news/us fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article a2059071-7814-51d5-966a-094586bcf556

Weeks after China announced the outbreak of the coronavirus, the international community has taken measures to prevent a widespread epidemic.

Countries have begun to limit travel to the infected mainland China and Hubei province — the epicenter of the virus with the CDC advising travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the country.

The first person-to-person spread of the disease occurred in mid-December, according to Chinese researchers.

Evacuations have been issued, with world health officials expressing “great concern” the disease is starting to spread between two people outside of China.

It’s now infected more people in China than were sickened during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

Here are the latest figures.

How many have been infected or have died?

The death toll from the virus rose to 170 on Thursday, with a total of 7,711 infected. Over the past 24 hours, 38 new deaths and 1,737 new infected cases have been reported.

Where is the virus?

Roughly 99 percent of new cases have appeared in China. Of the new deaths, 37 occurred in Hubei province, with one in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The virus has been reported in at least 16 countries globally.

The United States currently has 5 cases of the virus. Two in California, one in Arizona, one in Washington and one in Illinois, health officials say.

France — 3 cases

Thailand — 1

Australia — 5

Germany — 4

Canada — 1

Japan — 7

Malaysia — 8

South Korea — 4

Taiwan — 8

United Arab Emirates — 4

Vietnam — 2

Sri Lanka — 1

Philippines — 1

Nepal — 1

Malaysia — 7

Finland –1

Cambodia – 1

Travel restrictions?

Officials in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. The United States is also expanding the screening of travelers arriving from Wuhan from 5 to 20 airports.

Singapore said it would ban travelers from China’s Hubei province.

The United Kingdom and New Zealand also advised their people against nonessential travel to China.

Russia has signed an order to close the border of the Russia and China,

They had suspended tour operations from doing group tours in China.

China has cut off access to Wuhan — the epicenter of the outbreak, trapping more than 50 million people.

South Korea urged an increase in its level of caution to “restraint” when traveling to China.

Hong Kong reduced half its flights and shut down rail service to mainland China.

United canceled all flights to China.

American Airlines suspended L.A. flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing.

British Airways suspended all flights to and from mainland China.

Air India and Seoul Air halting all flights to the country.

Finnair, Cathay Pacific, and Jetstar also stopping service.

Lion Air canceled 50 flights to China into February.

Air Canada suspending all direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

The Associated Press contributed to the report

Westlake Legal Group AP20029538081493 Coronavirus death toll increases, here's the latest update on cases fox-news/world fox-news/us fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article a2059071-7814-51d5-966a-094586bcf556   Westlake Legal Group AP20029538081493 Coronavirus death toll increases, here's the latest update on cases fox-news/world fox-news/us fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article a2059071-7814-51d5-966a-094586bcf556

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NJ mayor admits getting drunk at party, removing pants, passing out in employee’s bed, report says

The mayor of a New Jersey town admitted he recently got drunk at a party at a township employee’s house, took off his pants and passed out in her bed, according to a report.

Mayor John Roth said he apologized to the unidentified employee, NorthJersey.com reported.

The story came to light after an anonymous letter signed by the “concerned employees of the township of Mahwah” detailed the incident. The letter was circulated last week, the report said.

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Roth was elected Nov. 6, 2018, on the same ballot in which former Mayor Bill Laforet was recalled from office, NorthJersey.com reported.

Westlake Legal Group mayorroth-cropped-447am NJ mayor admits getting drunk at party, removing pants, passing out in employee's bed, report says Jack Durschlag fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-jersey fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc b783cdde-6f1d-5038-bf20-a1815099554c article

Mahwah (N.J.) Mayor John Roth (Township of Mahwah website)

The effort to recall Laforet was launched in January 2018  by a group of citizens who were upset about his 2015 accusations against former Department of Public Works Director Ed Sinclair for having pornography on his work computer, based on an anonymous letter Laforet received.

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Sinclair died a few months later and his family filed suit against Mahwah for wrongful death, saying the stress of the ordeal contributed to his demise.

Click here for more from NorthJersey.com.

Westlake Legal Group mayorroth-cropped-447am NJ mayor admits getting drunk at party, removing pants, passing out in employee's bed, report says Jack Durschlag fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-jersey fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc b783cdde-6f1d-5038-bf20-a1815099554c article   Westlake Legal Group mayorroth-cropped-447am NJ mayor admits getting drunk at party, removing pants, passing out in employee's bed, report says Jack Durschlag fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-jersey fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc b783cdde-6f1d-5038-bf20-a1815099554c article

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Biden Push for Labor Support Is Burdened by Obama-Era Baggage

Westlake Legal Group 00biden-labor12-facebookJumbo Biden Push for Labor Support Is Burdened by Obama-Era Baggage Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Organized Labor Obama, Barack Biden, Joseph R Jr American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations

On the campaign trail, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has highlighted the first two years of the Obama administration as a time when he helped enact sweeping legislation to widen access to health care and revive the economy, accomplishments most Democrats revere.

But to many union officials, those years were a disappointment — a time when the administration failed to pass a labor rights bill that was their top priority and imposed a tax that would affect many union members’ health plans. And they partly blame Mr. Biden.

“They were in the driver’s seat for the first two years, and what did they get done from a labor perspective?” said Chris Laursen, the president of a United Automobile Workers local in Ottumwa, Iowa, with nearly 600 members. “Joe Biden is complete status quo.”

Since Mr. Biden began his third campaign for the presidency last April, his supporters have portrayed him as the Democrat best positioned to win back union members who deserted the party in 2016 in crucial industrial states.

There is some basis for that claim. Mr. Biden, who has longstanding ties to many labor leaders, quickly gained an endorsement from the politically powerful firefighters’ union, and just won an endorsement from the ironworkers’ union. Polls frequently show him leading other Democratic candidates in battleground-state matchups against President Trump.

But for many labor voters — even white, blue-collar union members whose votes skewed toward Mr. Trump — the reaction to the former vice president has been more mixed. They frequently cite his policy centrism, which many associate with his time in President Barack Obama’s White House.

A mid-January poll by SurveyUSA showed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont surging to within three points of Mr. Biden among union households nationally. The combined support of Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has generally outpaced Mr. Biden’s among union households since August.

The Biden campaign declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mr. Obama. A campaign surrogate, former Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, called Mr. Biden “a champion for organized labor” and said, “It’s easy to take more extreme positions on issues when no one holds you accountable for actually enacting them.”

A photograph of Eugene Debs, an early hero of the American labor movement, hangs above a Sanders sign in the U.A.W. local office in Ottumwa.Credit…Daniel Acker for The New York Times An “Adios Trump” button on the local’s bulletin board. The U.A.W. and the local have not made an endorsement in this year’s campaign.Credit…Daniel Acker for The New York Times

The reservations of union members could be a bigger problem for Mr. Biden than they were for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 Democratic race against Mr. Sanders. Some large unions, including the American Federation of Teachers, endorsed Mrs. Clinton, though many members later supported Mr. Sanders.

In the current cycle, many of these unions have skipped an early endorsement, making it easier for individual members and in some cases locals to support their own candidates. The teachers’ union in Los Angeles has endorsed Mr. Sanders, as has the Ottumwa local of the United Food and Commercial Workers, whose 1.3-million-member international endorsed Mrs. Clinton before the 2016 Iowa caucuses. A large Pennsylvania local of the food workers’ union has endorsed Mr. Biden.

While the Labor Department recently reported that union membership last year fell to a record low — 10.3 percent of the work force — labor endorsements can still be critical because of the role of unions in educating members about candidates and canvassing for them on the ground.

Mr. Laursen, the U.A.W. local leader in Ottumwa, estimates that more than half his members — who are primarily workers at a John Deere plant — backed Mr. Trump in 2016. But he says many of those who oppose the president’s re-election are supporting Mr. Sanders over Mr. Biden.

And the skepticism toward Mr. Biden may be even more pronounced in the less white, less male parts of the labor force.

Nicole McCormick, a West Virginia music teacher who helped organize a statewide walkout that made national headlines in 2018, said she worried that Mr. Biden wasn’t “willing to push for the things that we as Americans look at as radical, but the rest of the world looks at and is like, ‘We did that 50 years ago.’” She cited expanded access to unions, universal health care and paid parental leave as examples.

(Mr. Biden has proposed wide-ranging labor-law reforms, though his plan isn’t as ambitious as Mr. Sanders’s or Ms. Warren’s in some respects. He supports paid family leave.)

Keon Liberato, the president of a Philadelphia-based local of more than 200 workers who maintain and construct railroad tracks, said many of his members preferred Mr. Sanders. Mr. Liberato said his members, both African-American and white, knew Mr. Biden as a friend to railroad workers, but tended to believe that taking health care off the bargaining table under Mr. Sanders’s Medicare for All plan “would be huge for the American people.”

In voicing their concerns about Mr. Biden, union officials frequently cite dismay over the Obama years. They acknowledge a number of accomplishments, including the economic stimulus, the rescue of Chrysler and General Motors, and elements of the Affordable Care Act, as well as a variety of pro-labor appointments and regulations. But they express reservations about the administration’s focus on deficit reduction, its ties to Wall Street, and especially its efforts to lower barriers to foreign competition.

“I was really disappointed with his trade policies,” said Nick Diveley, a U.A.W. member in Ottumwa, who supported Mr. Obama in 2008. “That’s what pushed me to Trump.” Mr. Diveley said he was open to voting for someone other than Mr. Trump in the fall but called Mr. Biden “just another established Washington guy.”

Union members and leaders also grumble about the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health care plans that the Obama administration sought as a way to rein in wasteful spending. “It was an egghead Ivy League idea, that people overuse health care,” said D. Taylor, the president of the hospitality and casino workers union UNITE HERE, which helped lead the unsuccessful fight against the tax.

(The union was supportive of the law and the administration over all; the tax was recently repealed.)

And some complain that the Obama administration delayed action on labor’s top priority — a bill that could have expanded their ranks by making it easier to unionize through a sign-up process called card check, rather than a secret ballot — partly so that it could focus on health care.

“He failed to fight for our priorities and stand up for the main reason we endorsed him — card check,” said Norwood Orrick, a telecom technician and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Tampa, Fla. “It was discussed a lot in my immediate circles of activists.”

Beyond any single policy, there are complaints that the Obama administration sometimes treated labor as an interest group to be managed rather than a partner in making policy. Ana Avendaño, a former senior official at the A.F.L.-C.I.O., recalled a White House meeting on immigration that the federation’s president, Richard Trumka, attended.

“They sat him at one of the corners of the table,” squeezed between two other people, Ms. Avendaño said. “He couldn’t even open his pad. In D.C. terms, it was a show of disrespect.”

A spokesman for Mr. Trumka said: “While President Trumka worked with and respected President Obama, he felt there were times when the president tried to split the difference between Main Street and Wall Street. That did not serve him or us well.”

Some labor officials and union members see the more pragmatic approach of the Obama years, and Mr. Biden’s moderate reputation, as a selling point. “Our guys lean 55 percent Republican,” said Thomas Hanify, president of the Indiana firefighters’ union. “Over all for my members, Warren and Bernie Sanders are a little extreme.”

And many prefer Mr. Biden’s approach to health care, voicing concern that Mr. Sanders would do away with insurance plans that unions have worked hard to negotiate.

Other labor leaders, while citing shortcomings of the Obama presidency, say Mr. Biden was an advocate for their interests within the administration. Teachers’ unions were furious after Mr. Obama publicly embraced the firing of the entire faculty of an underperforming school in Rhode Island in 2010. But Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said Mr. Biden helped resolve the situation.

“We started having a fairly heated argument, me and the vice president, at an A.F.L. meeting,” Ms. Weingarten said. “But he heard what I was saying.”

Jared Bernstein, an economic adviser to Mr. Biden during his vice presidency, said the same was often true on trade and other issues, including labor-law reform, which faced a complicated path in the Senate. “I know for a fact where Biden is on these things,” Mr. Bernstein said. “But he was part of an administration that at times very much pleased the unions, and at other times very much pissed them off.”

(As a senator, Mr. Biden supported some free-trade legislation, like the North American Free Trade Agreement.)

But many labor officials regard Mr. Biden as essentially a sympathetic face for unfriendly policies he was either powerless to reverse or personally advanced. One cited Mr. Biden’s role in leading the negotiations with Republicans over a long-term deficit-cutting deal that could have led to cuts in programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Mr. Biden, whose record on Social Security has been a subject of sparring with the Sanders campaign, says he supports an expansion of benefits for many retirees.

Frank Flanders, the political director of the food workers’ local in Ottumwa, said that he was skeptical of Mr. Biden’s views on trade and his more hawkish foreign policy views, and that he regarded Mr. Biden as a “corporate Democrat.”

“I think we had a lot of Trump voters in the general, for the most part it’s because he wasn’t Hillary,” said Mr. Flanders, describing how his members voted in 2016. “It’s also a concern I have about a Biden candidacy.”

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Possible meteor seen streaking across Southern California sky

Westlake Legal Group default Possible meteor seen streaking across Southern California sky fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc Brie Stimson article 60e9ecb8-edc1-5849-a0ad-cbe605f30509

A bright light streaking across the sky in Southern California Wednesday evening lit up social media with what amateur astronomers identifying it as a possible meteor.

Residents from Los Angeles to San Diego caught the event on camera.

“Saw the most crazy meteor I’ve ever seen!! It blew into pieces and burned up in the atmosphere!!,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “Oh My Lanta that was SO COOL!!!!! And I caught the end on camera!!”

SCIENTISTS JUST DISCOVERED GIANT 790,000-YEAR-OLD METEOR CRATER

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KABC-TV reported it was likely either a meteor or space debris, but there has been no official confirmation on the unidentified object yet.

Westlake Legal Group default Possible meteor seen streaking across Southern California sky fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc Brie Stimson article 60e9ecb8-edc1-5849-a0ad-cbe605f30509   Westlake Legal Group default Possible meteor seen streaking across Southern California sky fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fox news fnc/science fnc Brie Stimson article 60e9ecb8-edc1-5849-a0ad-cbe605f30509

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What Will Today’s G.D.P. Reading Show? Here’s a Preview.

Westlake Legal Group 30econ2-facebookJumbo What Will Today’s G.D.P. Reading Show? Here’s a Preview. United States Economy Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Gross Domestic Product Commerce Department Boeing Company

The Commerce Department will release its initial estimate of the gross domestic product — the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the economy — for the fourth quarter of 2019 at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Wall Street analysts expect the figures to show that the economy grew at an annual rate of about 2 percent from October through December, a shade behind the 2.1 percent growth over the previous three months.

  • A fourth-quarter growth rate of 2 percent would amount to an increase of 2.3 percent year-over-year. That is weaker than the 2.5 percent rate for 2018, setting the stage for slower growth to come.

The economy continues to expand, even though it has done so more slowly in recent months.

In the second half of 2017 and in some of 2018, the annual growth rate surged past 3 percent, helped by hearty tax cuts and government spending. And it continued to sail ahead at the start of last year, reaching 3.1 percent between January and March.

That level now looks more like an aberration, as the temporary spurs faded. Most economists see normal growth circling the 2 percent mark.

The slowdown, in part, reflects a maturing labor market in which the official jobless rate remains at half-century lows as the expansion heads toward its 11th anniversary.

“Given how tight labor markets have become and how challenging it is for businesses to find qualified employees to fill spots, 2 percent growth is welcome,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of United States economics at Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting firm.

An unexpectedly large jump in December’s imports reported on Wednesday caused some Wall Street analysts to reduce their estimates of G.D.P. growth in the fourth quarter.

G.D.P. measures only the value of goods and services produced within a country’s borders, so when a nation is buying more things abroad than it sells — the definition of a trade deficit — it pushes down G.D.P.

The Trump administration has made lowering the American trade deficit a goal. While the deficit excluding oil steadily climbed through most of President Trump’s tenure, it had fallen sharply in recent months before December’s figures came in.

Economists have opposed Mr. Trump’s use of the trade deficit as a scorecard: It can fall for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are good. Currently, economists say, the deficit has fallen because of factors reflecting weakness in the economy, rather than strength.

The trade deficit can drop because exports are growing, or because imports are shrinking, or both. For example, the deficit can fall because manufacturing is booming, pushing imported products out of the American market and leading to a surge in exports — the outcome the Trump administration wanted to engineer.

But the deficit can also fall because the American economy is slowing, making consumers less likely to buy imported goods and businesses less likely to invest in the United States. And that is the situation in the United States, economists say.

“There is no evidence of those broader positive developments,” said Brad W. Setser, a senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There is no growth in exports, and manufacturing is weak. So to the extent that tariffs have succeeded in bringing the trade deficit down, they have done so largely by reducing U.S. demand, not by raising U.S. production.”

Imports fell sharply in September after the United States imposed tariffs on China because some American companies held off on buying goods, hoping that the Trump administration might soon strike a trade deal reducing or removing the tariffs.

As tensions eased in December, imports revived. With a Phase 1 trade deal now signed, imports are expected to climb further in the months to come.

The economy’s resilience has been one of the Trump’s administration’s most notable accomplishments, and is sure to loom large as the 2020 presidential campaign gains momentum.

Mr. Trump has maintained an enthusiastic bullishness on the economy even though growth has fallen well below his promises of 3 or 4 percent. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this month, he declared that “the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

Mr. Trump has spread blame for the economic slowdown, reserving his harshest criticism for the Federal Reserve, which raised benchmark interest rates between 2015 and 2018 before cutting rates three times last year.

“No. 1, the Fed was not good,” he said.

The president also mentioned the six-week strike at General Motors last fall and the continuing turmoil at Boeing, the nation’s largest aerospace manufacturer and largest manufacturing exporter, after accidents involving two of its 737 Max airplanes killed 346 people.

“With all that, had we not done the big raise on interest, I think we would have been close to 4 percent,” he said.

Most economists disagree. The economy has not expanded by 3 percent or more in a full calendar year since 2005. As Mr. Herzon said, “We’re continuing along in this 2 percent economy.”

Nonetheless, expect Mr. Trump to claim economic success and the Democratic candidates to highlight the economy’s soft spots.

Boeing has historically recorded bonanza sales in December, with the company selling an average of 234 airplanes over the past five years, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted in a newsletter. Last month, it sold just three. Strong sales of military aircraft offset the decline.

Still, Boeing’s halt in 737 Max production will ripple throughout the economy in the coming year. This week, Arconic, one of the airplane manufacturer’s suppliers, said it expected to lose $400 million in Boeing sales and cut jobs. Another contractor, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, recently announced that it was cutting 2,800 jobs this month. Hundreds of other companies are also grappling to manage the impact.

Kathy Bostjancic, chief United States financial economist at Oxford Economics, said she expected Boeing’s disrupted production to shave half a percentage point off G.D.P. in the first three months of this year.

The Commerce Department will revise the fourth-quarter results twice in the months ahead as more data comes in.

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How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They’re Important

Westlake Legal Group ap_19186610344414_wide-7396a8cd9dd8e870767e5f4110cc2490ad6a20db-s1100-c15 How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Iowa’s Democratic caucuses on Monday will happen at 1,678 precinct locations, including people’s homes, public libraries and school gymnasiums. Charlie Neibergall/AP hide caption

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Charlie Neibergall/AP

Westlake Legal Group  How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Iowa’s Democratic caucuses on Monday will happen at 1,678 precinct locations, including people’s homes, public libraries and school gymnasiums.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Iowa Democrats gather Monday to kick off the nominating contests that will pick the party’s presidential nominee — the person who will take on President Trump in November.

But how they do it is complicated.

The Iowa caucuses are kind of like neighborhood meetings where people get together and — out in the open, with no secret ballot — try to win over their friends, family and neighbors to support their preferred candidate.

The caucuses start a months-long process that eventually leads to the selection of 41 delegates, who will vote for a candidate at the party’s national convention. It’s a complex, unique and exhausting process that might go a little differently if done in a place that was temperamentally unlike Iowa.

The caucuses quadrennially come under fire for being overwhelmingly white and not representative of the country, let alone the Democratic Party. But the candidates have spent millions there and over the last 40 years, and it’s been very predictive of who becomes the Democratic nominee.

Let’s break down how all this works.

What time do the caucuses take place?

They begin at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) and are expected to last roughly an hour. The Iowa Democratic Party is trying to expedite the process this year with just two rounds of caucusing, so they may very well be wrapped up in less than an hour.

Westlake Legal Group ap_20004674555789_wide-b57e49a2f5a25682dd14c716fe3849436ff32df2-s1100-c15 How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Former Vice President Joe Biden calls potential caucusgoers during a visit to a campaign field office in Waterloo, Iowa, earlier this month. Patrick Semansky/AP hide caption

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Patrick Semansky/AP

Westlake Legal Group  How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Former Vice President Joe Biden calls potential caucusgoers during a visit to a campaign field office in Waterloo, Iowa, earlier this month.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Who can vote?

The caucuses are “open.” In other words, any registered voter in the state can participate.

But for as much attention as the caucuses get, not many Iowans actually participate. In 2016, for example, less than 16% of people eligible to vote actually caucused.

And that was the second-highest turnout in the history of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, at more than 171,000 people. The record was 239,000 in 2008.

For what it’s worth, given the record number of candidates this year, the Iowa Democratic Party is anticipating a record-breaking turnout.

Where do the caucuses happen?

They happen all around the state’s 99 counties at 1,678 precinct locations, including in people’s homes, public libraries and school gymnasiums.

Westlake Legal Group ap_20026660496374_wide-8a1c404036d6753601ac8c3532fad5411e55ad02-s1100-c15 How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Sen. Bernie Sanders smiles as he is welcomed to the podium by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York during a campaign stop in Perry, Iowa. Andrew Harnik/AP hide caption

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Andrew Harnik/AP

Westlake Legal Group  How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Sen. Bernie Sanders smiles as he is welcomed to the podium by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York during a campaign stop in Perry, Iowa.

Andrew Harnik/AP

How will we know who wins?

This year will be extra confusing, because the state party will release three different results:

  1. the statewide preference after the first alignment;
  2. the preference after the second alignment;
  3. and the final “State Delegate Equivalents,” or SDEs.

SDEs are the estimated number of delegates each candidate would get to the congressional district and state conventions.

Various campaigns will use the potentially differing results to their advantage, but delegates are the name of the game in Iowa. That’s why the campaigns have built up operations with hundreds of staffers and volunteers in the state, to show their grassroots support and campaign strength of organization.

So while the first two results will be useful to inform analyses, the “winner” will be who gets the most SDEs.

Westlake Legal Group ap_20026624563161_wide-52cfa463db509be5be3051b2889788646b6aa7a4-s1100-c15 How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

A person signs up to caucus for Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg following a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Gene J. Puskar/AP hide caption

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Gene J. Puskar/AP

Westlake Legal Group  How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

A person signs up to caucus for Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg following a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

How are the delegates selected?

The caucusgoers from the 1,678 precincts determine 11,402 delegates, who will go to county conventions on March 21.

They are then filtered to a smaller universe of delegates who go to the congressional district conventions April 25, the state convention June 13 and then, finally, just 41 delegates who get to go to the national convention July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wis.

To hold onto delegates, campaigns have to try and keep activists and staffers at each of these steps because they are not bound to their candidates, and often the results can be very different from the caucus night results.

For example, on the Republican side in 2012, Ron Paul’s band of activists gamed the system, stuck around for each step, wound up with the most delegates out of Iowa in the end (despite losing on caucus night), and took over the Iowa GOP.

How do the caucuses themselves work?

There are two rounds of caucusing, and candidates need to get at least 15% of the assembled crowd in order to receive any delegates.

If a candidate does not get 15%, they get no delegates, and their voters can re-sort and go to their second choice in the next — and final — round.

Once the re-sorting is finished, the number of people in each candidate’s corner is tallied and submitted using a complicated worksheet to figure out the number of delegates that would be assigned.

Westlake Legal Group ap_19005056037063_custom-845fbb6aa64e89b40decbb2804f15c382efdcd02-s1100-c15 How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks to a crowd in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Nati Harnik/AP hide caption

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Nati Harnik/AP

Westlake Legal Group  How The Iowa Caucuses Work — And Why They're Important

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks to a crowd in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Nati Harnik/AP

So if a candidate doesn’t get 15% in the first round, he or she is eliminated?

Pretty much. That’s why candidates who have been polling far below that threshold have little chance of picking up any delegates.

It’s also worth noting that there is a 15% threshold to pick up delegates in every Democratic nominating contest in every state. This is a longstanding Democratic National Committee rule to avoid lots of candidates splitting the vote and creating brokered conventions.

Are there any exceptions?

There is one caveat in Iowa. Someone who doesn’t get enough support in the first round has a chance to move into the final round if they can convince enough supporters of other nonviable candidates to lend them their votes for the second round.

Here’s an example: Say 100 people caucus, and in the first alignment, 25 go for Bernie Sanders, 22 for Joe Biden, 17 for Pete Buttigieg, 14 for Elizabeth Warren, 10 for Amy Klobuchar, nine for Andrew Yang and three for Tom Steyer.

Sanders’, Biden’s and Buttigieg’s support is locked in. Their numbers can’t decline in the next round. If Warren’s team convinces one Klobuchar, Yang or Steyer first-round supporter to go with her, she’d be viable and would get some delegates. In theory, if Warren’s supporters convinced, say, all of Klobuchar’s, Yang’s and Steyer’s backers to go with her, Warren would actually win the most delegates from the caucus site. The odds of that are not very good, but the “Zombie Candidate” is, in theory, possible.

Is there any check on the number of caucusgoers tallied?

Yes. For the first time this year, caucusgoers will write down who they are supporting so there will be paper backups, in case recounts are necessary.

There was no way to do a recount in previous years, and that became a problem in some caucus locations in 2016 because at least a dozen precincts were decided by coin flip between Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

What about “superdelegates”?

There are eight unpledged delegates in Iowa who bypass this whole process and go straight to the national convention. They are officially called “automatic delegates” now.

They used to be colloquially called “superdelegates.” That was never their official name, but the media would call them that and members of the DNC would use it, too, because these current and former party leaders’ and elected officials’ “super” power used to be that they were able to vote however they wanted at the convention.

They could tip the scales of a campaign for their preferred candidate, although most went with the direction the political wind was blowing and backed the candidate ahead in the delegate race.

Still, as a result of the 2016 election, when so many came out early for Clinton, the party listened to the protests of the Sanders campaign and supporters and stripped superdelegates of their ability to vote on the first ballot at the national convention (unless there is already an overwhelming majority of delegates for one candidate).

Does Iowa have a big number of delegates at stake?

Not really. Iowa only has 41 pledged delegates to the national convention, and, as noted, it takes months to pick them. Those 41 delegates account for just 1% of all pledged delegates. (A candidate needs at least 1,991 delegates to become the nominee.)

Iowa and New Hampshire combined have just 2% of the delegates, and the first four states, including Nevada and South Carolina, have just 5%.

Then why are they so important?

The real impact of these early contests is momentum — who does well, who doesn’t and who beats expectations will determine who continues to see a viable path for themselves to the nomination.

And Iowa in particular is important for the Democratic nomination. The last seven of nine people who have won Iowa have gone on to be the nominee, including the last four.

It’s all why — despite the caucuses being more than 90% white — as of two weeks ago, the candidates had spent $50 million on ads in Iowa alone.

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Old videos of Bolton, Schiff raise credibility questions amid Trump impeachment trial

Good morning and welcome to Fox News First. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day …

‘GAME OVER,’ Trump declares, as old Bolton, Schiff videos surface amid Senate impeachment trial
A string of newly resurfaced video clips of former national security adviser John Bolton spurred President Trump and his supporters Wednesday to highlight what they described as serious credibility questions — raised by both Democrats and Republicans — amid the Senate impeachment trial, as the president tweeted, “GAME OVER!”

In his tweet, Trump linked to an interview of Bolton in August 2019 where he discusses Ukraine policy. In the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty interview clip, Bolton makes no mention of any illicit quid pro quo, and acknowledges, as Republicans have claimed, that combating “corruption” in Ukraine was a “high priority” for the Trump administration.

Bolton also calls Trump’s communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “warm and cordial,” without mentioning any misconduct. The video seemingly contradicts reported assertions in Bolton’s forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened,” that Trump explicitly told him he wanted to tie military aid to Ukraine to an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.

Separately, Fox News has identified clips of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., now the lead House impeachment manager, in which he says Bolton had a distinct “lack of credibility” and was prone to “conspiracy theories.” This week, Schiff said Bolton needed to testify in the impeachment trial as an important and believable witness. Click here for more on our top story

Other developments in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial:
 – Justice Roberts blocks Sen. Rand Paul from naming whistleblower, source says — and Paul may force the issue
 – White House told Bolton to remove classified material from manuscript before publication
 – Dershowitz mounts unconventional defense of Trump
 – Schiff denies knowing Trump whistleblower

Hillary Clinton ‘intimidated’ by Tulsi Gabbard’s $50M lawsuit, won’t accept legal documents, lawyer claims: report
Hillary Clinton or her representatives have, on at least two occasions, declined to accept legal papers delivered in connection with Tulsi Gabbard’s lawsuit against her, Gabbard’s attorney claims.

Gabbard, a Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii who is seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, filed a $50 million lawsuit against Clinton last week over the former secretary of state’s insinuation that Gabbard was a “Russian asset.” Brian Dunne, an attorney representing Gabbard, told the New York Post that Secret Service agents turned away a process server Tuesday when the server tried to deliver the lawsuit to Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., north of New York City.

Dunne said the server was instructed instead to deliver the papers to the Washington office of Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, but Kendall’s firm, Williams & Connolly, also declined to accept the legal papers, according to the Post.” Click here for more.

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Vanessa Bryant gives first statement on deaths of Kobe, Gianna 
Vanessa Bryant, widow of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, gave her first public statement Wednesday on the deaths of her husband, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash Sunday, posting a photo of the complete family with their four children.

“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them,” Bryant wrote in part.

“We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.”

“We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now.”

Vanessa Bryant’s statement came as the Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner confirmed Wednesday that all nine victims in Sunday’s crash had been identified. Click here for more.
 
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#TheFlashback: CLICK HERE to find out what happened on “This Day in History.”
 
SOME PARTING WORDS

Sean Hannity says President Trump’s acquittal at his Senate impeachment trial is assured: “This thing is over. It’s finished. Everything else will be a mere formality.”

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Fox News First is compiled by Fox News’ Bryan Robinson. Thank you for making us your first choice in the morning! Enjoy your day! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Friday morning.

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