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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 40)

Major Coal Producer And Trump Booster Files For Bankruptcy

Westlake Legal Group img_6241-ea22c84d639ed200cacc0b423dfc7598ab7dc526-s1100-c15 Major Coal Producer And Trump Booster Files For Bankruptcy

Bob Murray — seen at the headquarters of Murray Energy in St. Clairsville, Ohio — pushed the Trump administration to roll back numerous coal regulations. But he says the industry needs even more help from the government. Jeff Brady/NPR hide caption

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Jeff Brady/NPR

Westlake Legal Group  Major Coal Producer And Trump Booster Files For Bankruptcy

Bob Murray — seen at the headquarters of Murray Energy in St. Clairsville, Ohio — pushed the Trump administration to roll back numerous coal regulations. But he says the industry needs even more help from the government.

Jeff Brady/NPR

The Trump administration has spent three years trying to help the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and pushing for subsidies for coal-fired power plants. Still, the long list of coal company bankruptcies has continued, and dozens more plants have announced their retirement since President Trump took office.

Now the list of bankruptcies includes a company headed by one of Trump’s most vocal supporters. Murray Energy Corp. filed for Chapter 11 on Tuesday morning.

The company says it reached an agreement to restructure and continue operating. As part of that, Bob Murray — the chairman, president and CEO — will relinquish two of his roles. His nephew, Robert Moore, will become president and CEO while Murray will stay on as chairman.

“When you’re a private company and you’re in financial failure, the first person that loses everything is the owner. And that’s what will happen,” Murray tells NPR.

Murray has had a close relationship with the Trump administration. He donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration and has met with administration officials to advance the coal industry’s interests.

At Murray’s headquarters in St. Clairsville, Ohio, there’s a photo in the lobby of Murray with President Trump, who’s giving two thumbs-up. And in Murray’s big corner office there’s a replica of Air Force Two, signed on the wing by Vice President Pence.

A few months after Trump was sworn in, Murray met with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and delivered an “action plan” for helping coal. It included 16 proposals that became a “to-do list” for the Trump administration, including replacing former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

But the Trump administration hasn’t been able to give Murray everything he wants. Earlier this year the Tennessee Valley Authority voted to close a large coal-fired power plant that bought coal from Murray, despite pressure from Trump to keep it open. And last year the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants that Murray supported.

Murray says he began working in coal mines as a teenager. He started his company in the 1980s and built it into the largest underground coal-mining company in the country. He did that mostly by buying other coal companies.

“The main reasons why Murray is in the financial position that it’s in is that it purchased a lot of assets over the last few years, which gave it a big debt position,” says Natalie Biggs, thermal coal research analyst at Wood Mackenzie. When coal prices declined this year, she says, that made it difficult for the company to cover its debts.

In bankruptcy, Murray says he will lose his ownership but hopes to continue operating so his 7,000 employees will keep their jobs.

“My goal is to keep the company together — keep it together for my employees,” Murray says.

He continues to push for subsidies for coal power plants, and without that he predicts dire consequences.

“We’re going to have a crisis of resiliency and reliability in the power grid. People are going to freeze in the dark,” he says.

“Frankly, this is just a scare tactic for those who want to try to take our country backwards into a 20th century energy economy,” says Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Beyond Coal campaign at the Sierra Club.

She says power grids are managed by knowledgeable engineers focused on keeping electricity flowing.

“Their job is to make sure that as that coal plant retires, that our lights will stay on and there won’t be any threat to the reliability of our electricity,” she says.

Hitt says the world must now transition to renewable energy that doesn’t contribute to climate change.

According to the Sierra Club, 298 coal-fired power plants have either shut down or have announced they will since 2010.

U.S. coal consumption has fallen to its lowest level in 40 years, a downward trend likely to continue as more utilities and states commit to energy with lower or no greenhouse gas emissions.

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

It’s a Big Week for Economic News, With Implications for the 2020 Race

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160681683_5e46015b-693d-4ae2-a8a3-4d7b8b1e6dd8-articleLarge It’s a Big Week for Economic News, With Implications for the 2020 Race Wages and Salaries Unemployment Recession and Depression Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Factories and Manufacturing Economic Conditions and Trends

The New York Stock Exchange last month. Stocks have continued to boom. Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If you want to know what the economic backdrop to the 2020 elections is likely to be, pay close attention to some of this week’s headlines.

Over the next few days, we are going to get readings that tell us a lot about how the economy is holding up after a summer recession scare. If the numbers and policy announcements play out as forecasters are expecting, we’ll also see some of the contradictions of the Trump-era economy exposed.

Specifically, the economy in late 2019 appears to feature a combination of economic growth that is slowing but not falling into a recession, a booming stock market, low interest rates, a tight labor market and a weak manufacturing sector. There is always the possibility of surprises, but this could be the mix that shapes the discussion on the campaign trail in the year before Election Day.

In particular, if recent trends hold up, Democrats will have a lane to attack President Trump, pointing to weak growth in employee wages and a struggling factory sector. Republicans will be able to boast about some of the lowest jobless levels in decades and a robust stock market.

The coming week will offer new clarity about the state of the economy.

On Monday, the S&P 500 reached a record high, continuing what has been a boom year for stocks. That index is now up 21 percent so far in 2019, suggesting that investors are shrugging off this summer’s recession fears and are confident that corporate earnings will remain robust.

On Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department will release its first estimate of overall economic growth in the quarter ended in September. Analysts expect to see a slowing growth rate — only a 1.5 percent annual rate of G.D.P. growth.

Those quarter-to-quarter numbers can be volatile, but there is an unmistakable deceleration in America’s growth path. The economy grew 3.2 percent in the 12 months concluding in the second quarter of 2018. But the growth rate has fallen in every quarter since then, and if the forecasts from analysts for the third quarter prove accurate, the economy will have grown only about 2 percent over the last year.

The economy appears to have experienced only a brief and temporary surge to the 3 percent growth rate President Trump had promised. It has now returned to puttering along at much the same modest growth rate that was in evidence through most of the Obama years.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve will announce its latest policy move, most likely a quarter-point interest rate cut, the third such cut since the summer. The Fed is aiming to keep the expansion going, reversing 2018 interest rate increases and trying to protect the American economy from being dragged down by a global slowdown and trade wars.

The Fed’s expected move helps explain the apparent contradiction between a booming stock market and the slumping growth rate. Lower interest rates from the central bank make stocks and other financial assets more attractive, while reducing the risk of an outright recession.

Early Friday, the Labor Department will release numbers on how the job market performed in October. Although a now-resolved General Motors strike most likely dragged down growth in payroll jobs — a temporary effect — the numbers are also expected to show an unemployment rate that remains near its lowest levels in five decades, combined with modest growth in workers’ wages.

In other words, economic growth may be slowing, but at a time when the vast majority of Americans who want to be working are able to find a job. That makes the weakening growth in G.D.P. and job creation less worrisome than it would have been in an era of higher unemployment.

Slower growth is less problematic when the economy is mostly healthy. Still, having a job is not the same as having a well-paid job, and the data so far in 2019 does not support the idea that American workers are receiving big pay increases, despite the low jobless rate.

If anything, wage growth seems to be weakening. Forecasters expect Friday’s news release will show that average hourly earnings rose only 0.3 percent in October. If that proves correct, it will imply wage increases over the last year of a mere 3 percent. That number was 3.4 percent for the year ended in February.

A final major economic report this week could help explain why. The manufacturing sector in particular has taken it on the chin, the biggest victim of slower global growth.

The Institute for Supply Management’s monthly survey of purchasing managers showed the sector was contracting in September. The October number is due out at 10 a.m. Friday, and analysts expect it to show a factory sector that is still contracting but less rapidly than it had been.

That would support the case that the manufacturing downturn is contained — that it’s damaging for certain companies and their workers, but not turning into an all-out rout that will endanger the overall economy.

It also looks more likely that the economy is not slumping into a recession, contrary to a wave of worry that emerged over the summer. Strong American consumer spending and Fed rate cuts seem to have kept things afloat — good news for supporters of the incumbent president.

If analysts’ basic story of the economy remains true in the next few months, there will still be room for the Democratic nominee to attack President Trump. Democrats could argue that the Trump economy is helping stock investors more than workers, and that weaker G.D.P. growth, a troubled manufacturing sector and soft wage growth mean there is a lot of room for improvement.

If nothing else, the next four days could show whether the data fits this narrative.

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

Kate Beckinsale evacuates due to California wildfires, thanks first responders: ‘So grateful’

Kate Beckinsale and her slew of pets are safe after having to evacuate her Los Angeles home due to the wildfire sweeping across the west side of the city that’s been dubbed the Getty Fire.

The “Widow” actress shared on Instagram on Monday that she made it out of the area OK after fans and friends apparently checked in with her out of concern.

“We are safe. Thank you so much to everyone who checked in. Sending love and hope to everyone else who walked out of their house at 3 am to this,” she captioned a photo of the hillside near her home engulfed in flames and smoke.

KATE BECKINSALE POSES IN ‘KNICKERS AND TIGHTS’ IN ‘JOLT’ DRESSING ROOM PIC

The 46-year-old actress thanked first responders as well as friends who helped her evacuate as she cannot drive herself.

“love and admiration to the @losangelesfiredepartment and most of all to David and Dorothy who didn’t need to remember in the middle of the night that I can’t drive but did,” she wrote. “And to everyone who has offered me a place to stay despite my rolling with four animals including an epileptic cat. Angel people . So grateful x”

According to Yahoo, Beckinsale owns two Persian cats, Clive, who is very old and survived cancer, and Willow. She also has two lapdogs named Ingrid and Myf.

KATE BECKINSALE SHOWS OFF NEW BLONDE HAIR ON INSTAGRAM

The fire erupted around 1:30 a.m. local time in the Sepulveda Pass along Interstate 405 near the Getty Center Museum community and the hill-top golf community of Mountain Gate,  according to LAFD spokesman Capt. Erik Scott.

Westlake Legal Group califronia9 Kate Beckinsale evacuates due to California wildfires, thanks first responders: 'So grateful' Tyler McCarthy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/los-angeles fox-news/person/kate-beckinsale fox-news/entertainment/genres/viral fox-news/entertainment/genres/pets fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 9b31ea33-d925-57e9-a787-78c323503fed

A firefighter watches a flames approach the Mandeville Canyon neighborhood during the Getty fire, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/ Christian Monterros)

By 11 a.m. ET, officials said it had already grown to encompass over 500 acres as more than 470 LAFD firefighters with assistance from neighboring agencies rushed to combat the blaze. Over 10,000 structures, both residential and commercial, were located in the mandatory evacuation zones that include the Mountain Gate, Mandeville Canyon, and Bundy areas in western LA County.

“If you’re in the mandatory evacuation zone and you’re still there watching this, you’re an idiot. Get the hell out,” L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz said at a news conference. “It’s way too dangerous.”

At least eight homes were destroyed and six damaged in the LA-area blaze, fire officials said.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Beckinsale was one of many Los Angeles residents that were ordered to leave their homes as the wildfire continues to spread throughout the city. Arnold Schwarzenegger, LeBron James, Clark Gregg and more took to social media to share their experience after being told to evacuate their homes.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1128400678 Kate Beckinsale evacuates due to California wildfires, thanks first responders: 'So grateful' Tyler McCarthy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/los-angeles fox-news/person/kate-beckinsale fox-news/entertainment/genres/viral fox-news/entertainment/genres/pets fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 9b31ea33-d925-57e9-a787-78c323503fed   Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1128400678 Kate Beckinsale evacuates due to California wildfires, thanks first responders: 'So grateful' Tyler McCarthy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/los-angeles fox-news/person/kate-beckinsale fox-news/entertainment/genres/viral fox-news/entertainment/genres/pets fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 9b31ea33-d925-57e9-a787-78c323503fed

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Las Vegas police K-9 stabbed repeatedly by suspect ‘doing extremely well’ in recovery

A Las Vegas police K-9 was recovering Tuesday after being stabbed by a man who refused to come down from a roof, officials said.

“Hunter,” a Belgian Malinois, was stabbed multiple times on Saturday by 27-year-old Joseph Arquilla, investigators said. Arquilla had climbed onto the roof of a business around midnight and wouldn’t come down.

TRUMP RELEASED PHOTO OF HERO DOG INJURED IN ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI RAID

Police officers responded to the scene and once Arquilla came down around 4:45 a.m., he allegedly stabbed Hunter repeatedly — until his knife blade broke, KVVU-TV reported.

Westlake Legal Group dog1 Las Vegas police K-9 stabbed repeatedly by suspect 'doing extremely well' in recovery Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/west/nevada fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/las-vegas fox news fnc/us fnc article 4b5751cb-9468-5325-ac0e-5c8bce2db207

Hunter, a Belgian Malinois working with police in Las Vegas, Nev., was repeatedly stabbed by a suspect on Saturday morning, officials said.  (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

The K-9 was injured on the left side of his neck, just below his ear, according to photos posted online by the police department. Authorities said he “was lucky that the attacker’s blade broke at some point during the assault when it struck the dog’s collar, making it harder for the wounds to penetrate deeply.”

DOG ALERTS FAMILY TO FIRE, BUT DOESN’T MAKE IT OUT ALIVE: ‘HE WAS A PART OF THE FIRE ALAR, HE WAS BARKING’

Hunter — a 7-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department — is recovering and “doing extremely well” after the attack, police wrote in a Facebook post Monday.

Westlake Legal Group 72604532_10158129940925639_1513386397384310784_o Las Vegas police K-9 stabbed repeatedly by suspect 'doing extremely well' in recovery Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/west/nevada fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/las-vegas fox news fnc/us fnc article 4b5751cb-9468-5325-ac0e-5c8bce2db207

As of Monday, Hunter was “doing extremely well” during his recovery following the attack. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

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“Working is the activity that makes him the happiest — and if recovery continues going well, he’ll be returning to service in a matter of weeks!” authorities said. “Go Hunter, Go!”

Arquilla was arrested on several charges, including the mistreatment of a police animal and resisting a public officer with a deadly weapon.

Westlake Legal Group dog1 Las Vegas police K-9 stabbed repeatedly by suspect 'doing extremely well' in recovery Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/west/nevada fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/las-vegas fox news fnc/us fnc article 4b5751cb-9468-5325-ac0e-5c8bce2db207   Westlake Legal Group dog1 Las Vegas police K-9 stabbed repeatedly by suspect 'doing extremely well' in recovery Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/west/nevada fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/las-vegas fox news fnc/us fnc article 4b5751cb-9468-5325-ac0e-5c8bce2db207

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

Sen. Rubio: Many Dems made up their minds about impeaching Trump in November 2016

Westlake Legal Group MARCO-CROP Sen. Rubio: Many Dems made up their minds about impeaching Trump in November 2016 Julia Musto fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 0cb5653e-849f-52d1-b842-fe931ccc8572

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said Tuesday House Democrats have lost credibility with their impeachment charge, since many have wanted to take such an action since President Trump‘s election.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” with host Steve Doocy, Rubio said that Americans should not forget the gravity of an impeachment.

“Impeachment is really a big deal, like removing the President of the United States is not just an extraordinary measure — it’s also really bad for the country, it’s traumatic,” said Rubio.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday the House will vote this week on a resolution to formalize -–and establish the parameters – of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Fox News has learned the vote will take place Thursday on the House floor.

Republicans, who have been calling for a vote for weeks now, hit back Monday at Pelosi over the planned vote.

NEWT GINGRICH: HOW SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM BOXED PELOSI IN ON IMPEACHMENT AND WHAT COMES NEXT

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham – the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would play a role in a Senate impeachment trial – said, “A vote now is a bit like unringing a bell as House Democrats have selectively leaked information in order to damage President Trump for weeks.”

REP. COLLINS: UPCOMING HOUSE IMPEACHMENT VOTES IS A ‘SHAM,’ SHOWS DEMS’ DESPERATION

Rubio noted that there are a “significant number of the House [members]” that have been looking for a reason to impeach Trump since he took office.

“So, you’ll start to lose some credibility when you make up your mind about this back in … 2016 because you didn’t like the results of the election,” he told Doocy.

He added that no Democrats who were elected in districts that “Trump won” were sent to Congress to impeach the president.

“They sent them here to deal with drug prices, to deal with China, to help our economy continue to grow, to defund our military — where they won’t even pass an appropriations bill that we need to get done which is really important for [the] long-term plan,” said Rubio.

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“Very few people, unless you come from the most radical fringes of the American political system, were sent up here to spend all of their time – every single day – focused on the issue. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. I can’t control what the House does. But, we’re going to continue to do our jobs, or at least try to here in the Senate,” he said.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group MARCO-CROP Sen. Rubio: Many Dems made up their minds about impeaching Trump in November 2016 Julia Musto fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 0cb5653e-849f-52d1-b842-fe931ccc8572   Westlake Legal Group MARCO-CROP Sen. Rubio: Many Dems made up their minds about impeaching Trump in November 2016 Julia Musto fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 0cb5653e-849f-52d1-b842-fe931ccc8572

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

G.M. Puts Strike Impact on 2019 Earnings at Almost $3 Billion

Westlake Legal Group 16uaw-workers10-facebookJumbo G.M. Puts Strike Impact on 2019 Earnings at Almost $3 Billion Strikes General Motors Company Reports Automobiles

With a lengthy strike finally behind it, General Motors offered its first look Tuesday at some of the financial fallout.

For the full year, G.M. said the strike’s impact on earnings was likely to be almost $3 billion.

G.M. reported that its third-quarter net income was $2.3 billion, down 9 percent from $2.5 billion in the same period in 2018.

The company earned $1.72 per share in the quarter on an adjusted basis, which ended Sept. 30, compared with $1.87 per share in the same quarter last year. It said the strike had cost $1 billion in the quarter, reducing earnings by 52 cents a share.

Revenue declined to $35.5 billion from $35.8 billion.

The strike’s effect on earnings will be greater in the fourth quarter because it shut down G.M.’s North American operations for almost all of October.

The company’s 49,000 union employees walked off the job on Sept. 16, idling 34 plants across the Midwest and South for the final two weeks of the third quarter. Most of G.M.’s plants in Mexico and Canada were also affected.

The strike was settled last week when the contract was ratified by a majority of the United Automobile Workers union members employed by G.M. Workers began returning to work over the weekend.

“Our new labor agreement maintains our competitiveness, preserves our operating flexibility and allows us to continue improving our quality and productivity,” G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said in a statement Tuesday. “We remain focused on strengthening our core business and leading in the future of personal mobility.”

G.M. shares were up about 5 percent in morning trading.

[How it looked in Flint: The G.M. strike from the picket lines.]

G.M.’s contract with the union provides for pay increases over the next four years, including substantial jumps for about a third of its hourly workers who currently earn considerably less than the top wage of $31. After four years, most hourly workers will earn the new top wage of $32.

Analysts estimate that the contract will increase G.M.’s labor costs by about $100 million a year.

The contract allows G.M. to close three United States factories, including a small-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The reduction in manufacturing capacity will leave G.M. in a more stable position if auto sales continue to slow or the United States economy slips into a recession.

Helped by strong sales of high-margin trucks and sport utility vehicles, G.M. has earned $35 million in North America over the last three years. Under the new labor agreement, the company has promised to invest $7.7 billion over the next four years in United States plants. An additional $1.3 billion will be invested by G.M. and joint-venture partners. The spending is supposed to create or preserve as many as 9,000 jobs.

In first three quarters of 2019, G.M. sold 2.15 million cars and light trucks in the United States, a decline of about 1 percent from the comparable period last year.

[G.M. on Monday sided with the Trump administration in its clash with California over pollution standards.]

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Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri Resigns After Weeks Of Protests

Westlake Legal Group ap_19302518111510-c3183334afb4c1dbeb00ce02fc798c0eca732832-s1100-c15 Lebanon's Prime Minister Hariri Resigns After Weeks Of Protests

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during an address to the nation in Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday. The embattled prime minister said he was presenting his resignation after he hit a “dead end” amid nationwide anti-government protests. Hassan Ammar/AP hide caption

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Hassan Ammar/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Lebanon's Prime Minister Hariri Resigns After Weeks Of Protests

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during an address to the nation in Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday. The embattled prime minister said he was presenting his resignation after he hit a “dead end” amid nationwide anti-government protests.

Hassan Ammar/AP

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri is submitting his resignation, after nearly two weeks of anti-government protests brought hundreds of thousands of Lebanese to the streets.

In a televised address, Hariri said Tuesday that he has reached a “dead end” amid the widespread demonstrations that had paralyzed the country.

“For 13 days the Lebanese people have waited for a decision for a political solution that stops the deterioration [of the economy],” Hariri said, according to Reuters. “And I have tried, during this period, to find a way out, through which to listen to the voice of the people.”

“It is time for us to have a big shock to face the crisis,” he said. “To all partners in political life, our responsibility today is how we protect Lebanon and revive its economy.”

Hariri’s resignation would effectively force Lebanon to form a new government, if President Michel Aoun accepts the resignation.

Lebanon’s demonstrations began in reaction to the government’s tax proposals, including one on calls over WhatsApp. But the protests grew into a call for Hariri to resign. The country’s unrest has been paralleled by demonstrations in Chile, Iraq and elsewhere, but the protests in Lebanon have often been notable for their decidedly festive atmosphere.

The protests are the largest demonstrations in the country since 2005, when Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – Saad’s father — was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut.

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

It’s a Big Week for Economic News, With Implications for the 2020 Race

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160681683_5e46015b-693d-4ae2-a8a3-4d7b8b1e6dd8-articleLarge It’s a Big Week for Economic News, With Implications for the 2020 Race Wages and Salaries Unemployment Recession and Depression Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs Factories and Manufacturing Economic Conditions and Trends

The New York Stock Exchange last month. Stocks have continued to boom. Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If you want to know what the economic backdrop to the 2020 elections is likely to be, pay close attention to some of this week’s headlines.

Over the next few days, we are going to get readings that tell us a lot about how the economy is holding up after a summer recession scare. If the numbers and policy announcements play out as forecasters are expecting, we’ll also see some of the contradictions of the Trump-era economy exposed.

Specifically, the economy in late 2019 appears to feature a combination of economic growth that is slowing but not falling into a recession, a booming stock market, low interest rates, a tight labor market and a weak manufacturing sector. There is always the possibility of surprises, but this could be the mix that shapes the discussion on the campaign trail in the year before Election Day.

In particular, if recent trends hold up, Democrats will have a lane to attack President Trump, pointing to weak growth in employee wages and a struggling factory sector. Republicans will be able to boast about some of the lowest jobless levels in decades and a robust stock market.

The coming week will offer new clarity about the state of the economy.

On Monday, the S&P 500 reached a record high, continuing what has been a boom year for stocks. That index is now up 21 percent so far in 2019, suggesting that investors are shrugging off this summer’s recession fears and are confident that corporate earnings will remain robust.

On Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department will release its first estimate of overall economic growth in the quarter ended in September. Analysts expect to see a slowing growth rate — only a 1.5 percent annual rate of G.D.P. growth.

Those quarter-to-quarter numbers can be volatile, but there is an unmistakable deceleration in America’s growth path. The economy grew 3.2 percent in the 12 months concluding in the second quarter of 2018. But the growth rate has fallen in every quarter since then, and if the forecasts from analysts for the third quarter prove accurate, the economy will have grown only about 2 percent over the last year.

The economy appears to have experienced only a brief and temporary surge to the 3 percent growth rate President Trump had promised. It has now returned to puttering along at much the same modest growth rate that was in evidence through most of the Obama years.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve will announce its latest policy move, most likely a quarter-point interest rate cut, the third such cut since the summer. The Fed is aiming to keep the expansion going, reversing 2018 interest rate increases and trying to protect the American economy from being dragged down by a global slowdown and trade wars.

The Fed’s expected move helps explain the apparent contradiction between a booming stock market and the slumping growth rate. Lower interest rates from the central bank make stocks and other financial assets more attractive, while reducing the risk of an outright recession.

Early Friday, the Labor Department will release numbers on how the job market performed in October. Although a now-resolved General Motors strike most likely dragged down growth in payroll jobs — a temporary effect — the numbers are also expected to show an unemployment rate that remains near its lowest levels in five decades, combined with modest growth in workers’ wages.

In other words, economic growth may be slowing, but at a time when the vast majority of Americans who want to be working are able to find a job. That makes the weakening growth in G.D.P. and job creation less worrisome than it would have been in an era of higher unemployment.

Slower growth is less problematic when the economy is mostly healthy. Still, having a job is not the same as having a well-paid job, and the data so far in 2019 does not support the idea that American workers are receiving big pay increases, despite the low jobless rate.

If anything, wage growth seems to be weakening. Forecasters expect Friday’s news release will show that average hourly earnings rose only 0.3 percent in October. If that proves correct, it will imply wage increases over the last year of a mere 3 percent. That number was 3.4 percent for the year ended in February.

A final major economic report this week could help explain why. The manufacturing sector in particular has taken it on the chin, the biggest victim of slower global growth.

The Institute for Supply Management’s monthly survey of purchasing managers showed the sector was contracting in September. The October number is due out at 10 a.m. Friday, and analysts expect it to show a factory sector that is still contracting but less rapidly than it had been.

That would support the case that the manufacturing downturn is contained — that it’s damaging for certain companies and their workers, but not turning into an all-out rout that will endanger the overall economy.

It also looks more likely that the economy is not slumping into a recession, contrary to a wave of worry that emerged over the summer. Strong American consumer spending and Fed rate cuts seem to have kept things afloat — good news for supporters of the incumbent president.

If analysts’ basic story of the economy remains true in the next few months, there will still be room for the Democratic nominee to attack President Trump. Democrats could argue that the Trump economy is helping stock investors more than workers, and that weaker G.D.P. growth, a troubled manufacturing sector and soft wage growth mean there is a lot of room for improvement.

If nothing else, the next four days could show whether the data fits this narrative.

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California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

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Westlake Legal Group 29fires-01sub-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

A forecast of powerful winds and low humidity was expected to worsen conditions for the fires that are burning in Northern and Southern California.CreditCredit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

The worst kind of weather for wildfires — strong, gusty winds and very low humidity — is returning on Tuesday after a relative respite on Monday, the National Weather Service said, raising the prospect of more fire outbreaks and rapid growth of the blazes that are already burning.

The agency has posted “red flag” warnings for most of Northern California and much of Southern California, taking effect at various times on Tuesday.

Forecasters are predicting winds between 50 m.ph. and 70 m.p.h. in Los Angeles County and Ventura County starting late Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday and Thursday, with some gusts up to 80 m.p.h. in the mountainous areas of Los Angeles County, the National Weather Service said. The scale for Category 1 hurricanes begins at 74 m.p.h.

[Read more about how climate change could shift California’s winds.]

Winds gusts of up to 60 miles an hour could be expected beginning in the morning over a vast stretch of the state from the Sierras to the Pacific and from the southern fringes of the Bay Area north nearly to the Oregon border, except for coastal areas north of Sonoma County.

The winds, known as Santa Anas in the southern part of the state and Diablos in the north, arrive regularly in the fall. Recent research suggests that as the climate warms, Santa Ana winds may become less frequent. Coupled with precipitation changes, that could mean more intense fires later in the year.

Red-flag weather has played an important role in driving the growth of the Kincade, Getty and other fires, and has prompted pre-emptive blackouts by utility companies hoping to keep wind-damaged power lines and equipment from touching off more blazes.

[ The New York Times has photographers on the ground, documenting the California wildfires and the battle to contain them. Follow their work here. ]

Hundreds of firefighters mobilized to fight the Kincade fire gathered in the morning darkness on Tuesday for a briefing at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Crowded into an event hall in navy blue uniforms and yellow jackets, they listened as commanders took stock: Monday had been a good day.

The wind had died down, allowing for a real attack on the fire, which is now 15 percent contained. But today was going to be difficult, the crews were told.

“We’re going to be wind-tested again,” Ben Nichols, a representative from Cal Fire, told them. The breeze was supposed to get particularly powerful in the afternoon and evening, hurling hot embers toward dry areas and threatening the many houses tucked into the wooded areas of Sonoma County. Protecting those houses would be a major priority.

Many of the firefighters have been on the line for days, and some have worked as many as 36 hours at a stretch with no rest. Top officials warned them against fatigue.

Think things through, they were told. Have an escape plan. Throw out lunches that have gone bad after days in the truck. Don’t let sickness get in the way of work. And get ready for the wind.

Tuesday, said Mike Blankenheim of Cal Fire, was going to be a “max effort day.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163492827_9be556f9-629e-471b-a68e-4b1578143d7e-articleLarge California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

A firefighter worked on a hot spot in Windsor, Calif., on Monday.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The Kincade fire has grown to more than 74,000 acres but is now 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire, the state firefighting and fire prevention agency. It has destroyed more than than 120 structures and damaged another 20.

As the Kincade and Getty fires raged through dry vegetation at opposite ends of California on Monday, they raised fears that the state’s vicious wildfire season was straining the resources of fire departments that are already spread out battling 16 fires across the state, pushing fire crews beyond the brink of exhaustion.

“It’s all starting to blend together,” said Joe Augino, a firefighter with the Arcadia Fire Department in Southern California who had just finished battling a wildfire in the canyons north of Los Angeles last week when his company was summoned to travel eight hours to the north to help fight the Kincade fire in Sonoma County.

On a winding road near the front lines of the Kincade fire, where about 156,000 people remained under mandatory evacuation orders, Mr. Augino and his fellow firefighters were extinguishing spot fires with water and hand tools.

We’re continuing to update our page of maps showing the extent of the fires, power outages and evacuation zones. Data from Cal Fire shows how the Kincade fire in Northern California has spread and where it is burning most intensely. Satellite images pinpoint the Getty and Tick fires and affected areas nearby.

Westlake Legal Group california-fire-map-promo-1572020277850-articleLarge-v8 California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

Maps: Kincade and Getty Fires, Evacuation Zones and Power Outages

Detailed maps show the current fire extents, power outage zones and areas under evacuation orders.

Fernanda Santos, a former New York Times correspondent based in Phoenix, is the author of “The Fire Line,” the story of 19 firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire in 2013.

It is an arresting scene, the dangers unimaginable: Firefighters clad in yellow and green flame-resistant uniforms, battling a wind-whipped and fast-moving blaze with what amount to farming and logging tools.

Fighting fires — including immense untamed wildfires — requires a combination of brutal force, endurance and skill. From the air, firefighters may release water and fire retardant, which can slow its spread but will not extinguish the raging flames. The most effective man-made way to contain a wildfire is to box it inside buffer zones that are absent of everything that burns — a laborious, intense pursuit that requires clearing the land.

Members of a 20-person crew work in a line, hacking at the hardened ground, chopping down trees, yanking out roots and sawing down undergrowth. It is a carefully choreographed ballet, where one person’s movements affect the next’s.

“Imagine, if you can, 16-hour days of manual labor where you’re hustling all the time, and you do it oftentimes for 14 days straight,” said Doug Harwood, a firefighter in the city of Prescott, Ariz., who spent years fighting wildfires in the Western United States.

The mechanics of the job have not changed considerably since 1910, when a monster wildfire known as the Big Burn devoured 3 million acres and killed 85 people across three Northwestern states, and a United States Forest Service ranger named Ed Pulaski returned from obscurity a handy tool that can both dig soil and chop wood.

The Pulaski, as it is known, combines an ax and an adz in one head, and is now arguably the most important piece of equipment in wildfire suppression.

Alan Sinclair, who commands one of 16 teams trained to manage the most challenging wildfires in the United States, said team leaders have to weigh the risks of clearing land when flames may be racing toward them. At some point, it may be too risky, he said.

Communities can help, he said, by working together to create buffer zones around them, what is known as “defensible space,” before a fire strikes.

“It’s really hard for firefighters to go into an area where no work has been done and be expected to save the neighborhood,” Mr. Sinclair said.

Power companies across the state warned that power could be cut pre-emptively because of worsening weather conditions.

Pacific Gas & Electric said it would shut off power to an additional 600,000 customers in 29 counties in Northern California on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the danger that wind-damaged lines or equipment could cause more fires. Some 500,000 PG&E customers were still blacked out from previous shut-offs, and the company said it could be several days before power is restored.

In and around Los Angeles, Southern California Edison said on Tuesday morning that as many as 205,000 customers could be affected by safety-related shutoffs, but that so far only a few hundred had been blacked out.

San Diego Gas & Electric warned that shutoffs may become necessary in some inland areas east and northeast of the city, but none had been imposed yet.

A new state web portal includes links to updated information on the power outages, as well as shelters and housing, road conditions and other information related to the fires, compiled by state agencies like Cal Fire and Caltrans.

As ashen skies, raging wildfires and blackouts blanket areas of Northern and Southern California, many residents and evacuees are relying on Twitter hashtags for up-to-date information about their homes, loved ones, road closures and further evacuations.

Over the past week, “Kincadefire,” “Gettyfire,” “Tickfire,” “Skyfire” and “Sawdayfire”— the names of the wildfires — have become popular search terms on social media. But often there is confusion as to where their names come from.

As opposed to the predetermined list of names provided for hurricanes, wildfires are named by officials according to the location or local landmark, including streets, lakes and mountains, where the fire broke out. Fires often go without names if they are too small.

“Quickly naming the fire provides responding fire resources with an additional locator, and allows fire officials to track and prioritize incidents by name,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

If there is a long human presence in the area, there’s no challenge in finding a name — officials just draw from geographically local, named landmarks, according to Susie Kocher, a Natural Resources Advisor at the University of California.

The 2003 San Diego Cedar fire, one of the state’s largest wildland fires in history, unsurprisingly spread across the Cedar Creek Falls area. It burned over 270,000 acres, destroyed more 2,200 homes and killed 14 civilians and one firefighter.

But when it comes to naming there are always weird exceptions. The 416 Fire, for example, burned more than 50,000 acres in Colorado in 2018. Why 416? According to the Durango Interagency Dispatch Center, it was after a “system-generated number” that represented the 416th “incident” in the San Juan National Forest that year.

Another curious choice was in 2015, when fire officials in southeast Idaho ran out of naming ideas following the outbreak of a swarm of fires; for a fire with few landmarks nearby, they went with “Not Creative.

The Kincade fire in Sonoma County, which had burned more than 66,000 acres and has displaced nearly 200,000 residents as of Monday night, has proved challenging to remember for journalists and people on social media alike.

Misspellings online include Kincaid, Kincaide, Kinkade and Kinkaid.


Reporting was contributed by Adeel Hassan, Liam Stack, Sarah Mervosh and Vanessa Swales.

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Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion at Mass in South Carolina because of abortion views

Former Vice President Joe Biden was denied Holy Communion at a Catholic church in South Carolina on Sunday morning because of his views on abortion, a priest said in a statement. 

Rev. Robert Morey said on Monday that the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate attended Mass at Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence and was refused the sacrament because any “public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.” 

“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to Former Vice President Joe Biden,” Morey said. “Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that.” 

Morey added that as “a priest, it is my responsibility to minister to those souls entrusted to my care, and I must do so even in the most difficult situations. I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.” 

The Biden campaign did not immediately reply to USA TODAY’s request for comment. The South Carolina Morning News, which first reported the story, said the campaign declined to comment or confirm that Biden attended Mass at the church, saying if he had, it would be a private matter. 

At Catholic Masses, Communion is when congregants eat bread and drink wine, which signify the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Poll:Who’s sticking with President Trump, through trouble and tweets? His base

The Catholic Church has debated the issue of giving Communion to politicians who support abortion rights for decades, with some church leaders arguing such lawmakers should be excommunicated entirely. 

In 2004, some bishops threatened to deny Communion to then-Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee, because of his stance on abortion rights. 

When former President Barack Obama named Biden as his running mate in 2008, several bishops, including Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, said they would refuse Biden if he sought Communion in their diocese, according to the Catholic News Agency

Biden’s stance on abortion has shifted over time. In 1974, during his first term in the Senate, Biden said the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision “went too far” and he didn’t “think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” 

“I do not view abortion as a choice and a right. I think it’s always a tragedy,” Biden said in a 2006 interview. He added that abortions should be “rare and safe” and that the focus should be on limiting the number of them performed. 

In his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics,” Biden said he had “stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than thirty years.” He wrote that he personally opposes abortion “but I don’t think I have the right to impose my view – on something I accept as a matter of faith – on the rest of society.” 

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This year, Biden has said Roe v. Wade is the “law of the land” and that abortion is a matter to be decided on by a “woman and her doctor.” 

In June, Biden dropped his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortion in most cases, amid criticism from his rivals in the Democratic primary. 

Westlake Legal Group  Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion at Mass in South Carolina because of abortion views

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