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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 63)

‘Trump watch party’ reinstated at Michigan restaurant after RNC chair Ronna McDaniel’s tweet rallies the troops: report

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093545198001_6093543754001-vs 'Trump watch party’ reinstated at Michigan restaurant after RNC chair Ronna McDaniel's tweet rallies the troops: report fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/politics fnc Dom Calicchio article 3ec4be94-79d4-52ef-b31b-98248b5078f7

Management at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Michigan had a sudden change of heart this week after initially canceling a plan by local Republicans to hold a “Trump watch party” at the location because of unspecified “complaints.”

Perhaps helping speed the reversal: Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel of the Republican National Committee – a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party whose grandfather was a Michigan governor – learned the event had been called off and alerted her 376,000 Twitter followers.

TRUMP BELITTLES BIDENS WITH GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AT MINNEAPOLIS RALLY, AS CHAOS UNFOLDS OUTSIDE ARENA

“Just learned @BWWings cancelled a Michigan viewing party for @realDonaldTrump’s rally,” McDaniel wrote in a since-delated post, according to the Washington Examiner. ” … tell them the left’s cancel culture has gone too far.”

Soon the restaurant’s location in Howell, Mich., and the corporate office in Minneapolis were receiving calls and messages from Republicans, the Examiner wrote — and officials decided to allow the Trump watch party to proceed.

A representative for the chain later told the Examiner that the cancellation had been “based on a misunderstanding.”

“The group has in fact previously hosted events at the restaurant without incident,” the statement said. “The franchise owner apologizes for the misunderstanding.”

McDaniel later tweeted a “thank you” message to the chain.

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“Thank you @BBWings for letting the watch party proceed as planned,” McDaniel wrote, “and thank you to everyone who expressed their support for @realDonaldTrump!

Howell is about 55 miles northwest of Detroit.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093545198001_6093543754001-vs 'Trump watch party’ reinstated at Michigan restaurant after RNC chair Ronna McDaniel's tweet rallies the troops: report fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/politics fnc Dom Calicchio article 3ec4be94-79d4-52ef-b31b-98248b5078f7   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093545198001_6093543754001-vs 'Trump watch party’ reinstated at Michigan restaurant after RNC chair Ronna McDaniel's tweet rallies the troops: report fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/politics fnc Dom Calicchio article 3ec4be94-79d4-52ef-b31b-98248b5078f7

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Netflix Goes All Out to Wow Children as Streaming Wars Intensify

Westlake Legal Group 10NETFLIXKIDS-01-facebookJumbo Netflix Goes All Out to Wow Children as Streaming Wars Intensify Web-Original Programming Sarandos, Ted Netflix Inc Families and Family Life Animated Films

LOS ANGELES — Walk the halls of Netflix Animation, spread across three buildings in the heart of Hollywood, and a cheeky question may cross your mind: Is anyone left at Disney Channel headquarters?

Chris Nee, the force behind “Doc McStuffins,” the groundbreaking Disney Channel series, decamped for Netflix in December. She followed Alex Hirsch, a cartoon whiz who created “Gravity Falls” for Disney. Naketha Mattocks, a former executive at the Disney Channel, where she helped steer the popular “Descendants” movies, now heads up Netflix’s family film unit. She is working with Kenny Ortega, a veritable Disney legend known for shepherding the blockbuster “High School Musical” franchise.

“That he has chosen to make Netflix his creative home to work on both feature films and series is thrilling,” Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, crowed in April about Mr. Ortega.

Netflix has been a force in children’s entertainment for years, its usefulness as a digital babysitter helping it grow into a streaming behemoth with 152 million subscribers worldwide. But it now faces the biggest competitive threat in its history: Disney, the company that has supplied much of Netflix’s most popular programming for children and families, is determined to be a streaming giant in its own right.

Disney Plus, a streaming service that arrives on Nov. 12, will offer a colossal array of shows and films, including 7,500 episodes of old Disney-branded TV shows, 25 original series, Marvel movies, National Geographic specials, 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” and the entire Disney-Pixar-Lucasfilm library. At $7 a month, Disney Plus will be cheaper than Netflix, which charges $13 for its standard plan.

And Disney will no longer license its content to Netflix. Disney Channel shows like “Sofia the First” and Pixar movies like “Coco” will disappear gradually from Netflix as their contracts end and reappear on Disney Plus.

Netflix is reacting accordingly.

It has quietly amassed an army of children and family creators and executives who have been stockpiling counterattack content. Sanjay Patel, a longtime Pixar animator, has a series in the works for Netflix called “Ghee Happy,” about pint-size Hindu deities who meet at day care. “Nobody can skip childhood, not even the gods,” he said with a grin from his office, down the hall from Ms. Nee, who has five children’s series — five — in the pipeline.

“If you start looking at what people watch and why — the ways that people build habits and build trust — shows and movies for children and families are incredibly important to us,” Mr. Sarandos said in an interview.

Original animated movies include “Klaus,” a holiday adventure directed by Sergio Pablos (“Despicable Me”), and an epic called “Jacob and the Sea Beast” from Chris Williams (“Moana”). Glen Keane, a former Disney animator whose credits include Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” is holed up at Netflix directing a feature-length musical called “Over the Moon” that is based on Chinese mythology.

“Creative decisions here aren’t made by committee,” Mr. Keane said.

Netflix has other new children’s entertainment competitors. Apple Plus ($5 a month) arrives on Nov. 1 and will offer animated series like “Snoopy in Space.” HBO Max, the coming app from WarnerMedia, announced a deal with “Sesame Street” last week that will bring, for the first time, most of the show’s five-decade library to streaming — more than 4,500 episodes. New “Sesame Street” episodes will also be on HBO Max nine months before their PBS run.

Families are valuable streaming customers, analysts say, because they are reliable, paying month after month instead of “churning” in and out based on what is available. Children’s entertainment also comes with a potentially enormous bonus prize: sales of related merchandise. Netflix has started to explore consumer products; “Super Monsters,” a Netflix show about preschool witches and werewolves, has its own line of Halloween costumes.

About 60 percent of Netflix’s global audience watches the service’s content for children and families on a monthly basis, according to Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s animation chief. (She came from DreamWorks Animation, where she produced the “Kung Fu Panda” series.) DreamWorks, which is part of NBCUniversal, supplies Netflix’s most popular cartoon series, “The Boss Baby: Back in Business.” Ms. Cobb also found a surprise global hit in “Mighty Little Bheem,” which is produced by Green Gold Animation, based in India, an important expansion market for Netflix.

Netflix’s rise has come at the expense of cable outlets like Cartoon Network, which shed 29 percent of its audience from 2016 to 2018, and Nickelodeon, down 23 percent over the same period, according to research by MoffettNathanson. Nickelodeon recently agreed to produce a pair of animated movies for Netflix, including one based on Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise. An expansion of that deal has been discussed by the companies.

The money that Netflix is showering on children and family producers has disrupted this often-overlooked corner of Hollywood. Halle Stanford, president of television at the Jim Henson Company, said Netflix pushed to make one project, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,” even grander in scale than she had hoped, supersizing the budget in the process.

“I suddenly had a gatekeeper willing to take a creative risk — 90 sets, 180 puppets,” Ms. Stanford said of the series, which arrived on Netflix in August. “Trust me, most buyers start talking about maybe three sets and eight puppets.”

In total, Netflix has spent billions on its children and family push. It recently bought the rights to animated series based on NBCUniversal’s “Jurassic Park” and “Fast and Furious” franchises. And it has snapped up rights to the “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Baby-Sitters Club” books and made a deal with Roald Dahl’s widow to “reimagine and extend” classics like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

“In partnership with the estate, we are building out these worlds — exploring what’s beyond the page — which is something that hasn’t happened before,” Ms. Cobb said.

Most of the Netflix’s original programming for children and families has only recently started to roll out. The service’s first animated movie, “Klaus,” will debut on Nov. 15, a few days after Netflix serves up “Green Eggs and Ham,” an animated series based on the 1960 Dr. Seuss book. “Tall Girl,” released in September, was the first of eight live-action “clean teen” movies coming from Ms. Mattocks, the family film executive. “We want to tell stories that actually feel meaningful and relevant to today’s kids and teens and that don’t talk down to them,” Ms. Mattocks said.

“Tall Girl,” about an ostracized high school student, was viewed by more than 40 million Netflix accounts over its first four weeks, enough to rank as the service’s No. 1 movie globally over that time, according a Netflix spokeswoman. To count as a “view,” at least 70 percent of the movie must be streamed; no independently verified viewing data is available.

Netflix, of course, has lots of challenges as it tries to hold its own against the likes of Disney. The biggest is quality control. Serving up consistently well-crafted content at the speed Netflix is moving is almost impossible. “Tall Girl,” for instance, got weak reviews.

Netflix also has a lot of executives involved, increasing the potential for disorder behind the scenes. Ms. Cobb handles animation. Ms. Mattocks has live-action teen movies. Brandon Riegg, vice president of nonfiction series, oversees family-focused reality shows like the baking-focused “Nailed It!” and a coming gardening competition series called “The Big Flower Fight.” (Think topiary carving.) Jane Wiseman, Netflix’s sitcom chief, has been put in charge of live-action children’s comedies.

And Brian Wright, vice president of original series, will continue to focus on “event” family series, including Netflix’s “Lost in Space” remake, which returns for a second season in December.

“We’re delivering more of those family must-see moments — we’re good at them, but we want to be great,” Mr. Wright said. “That is where this entire push comes from.”

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Review of 737 Max Certification Finds Fault With Boeing and F.A.A.

Westlake Legal Group 11boeing-1-facebookJumbo Review of 737 Max Certification Finds Fault With Boeing and F.A.A. Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Pilots National Aeronautics and Space Administration Federal Aviation Administration Dickson, Stephen Boeing Company Boeing 737 Max Groundings and Safety Concerns (2019) Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

Boeing failed to adequately explain to regulators a new automated system that contributed to two crashes of the 737 Max, and the Federal Aviation Administration lacked the capability to effectively analyze much of what Boeing did share about the new plane.

Those are among the findings in a damning report from a multiagency task force that the F.A.A. convened to scrutinize the Max’s certification process after the second plane crashed in March.

The New York Times obtained a draft copy of the report, which is expected to be made public on Friday. The veracity of the document was confirmed by two people familiar with the review.

The review’s scope was narrow: It only scrutinized the F.A.A.’s certification of the Max’s flight control system. But that allowed the task force to review the certification of the new automated system, MCAS, that played a role in both crashes, in Indonesia last October and in Ethiopia in March.

In each crash, pilots struggled as a single damaged sensor sent the plane into an irrecoverable nose-dive within minutes of takeoff. A total of 346 people were killed in the crashes, which prompted regulators around the world to ground the Max.

The report found that while the F.A.A. had been made aware of MCAS, “the information and discussions about MCAS were so fragmented and were delivered to disconnected groups” that it “was difficult to recognize the impacts and implications of this system.”

The task force said it believed that if F.A.A. technical staff had been fully aware of the details of MCAS, the agency would probably have required additional scrutiny of the system that might have identified its flaws.

Boeing is now updating the system to make it less powerful, and it says it will install a modified version when the Max, which is still grounded, returns to service.

The F.A.A.’s administrator, Steve Dickson, said in a statement that he would “review every recommendation and take appropriate action.”

“We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide,” he added.

Boeing could not be reached for comment.

A broad theme of the report is that the F.A.A. was too focused on the specifics of the new system and did not put sufficient effort into understanding its overall impact on the plane. In certification documents that Boeing submitted to the F.A.A., MCAS was not evaluated as “a complete and integrated function” on the new plane.

The report also said Boeing had failed to inform the F.A.A. as the design of MCAS changed during the plane’s development. A New York Times investigation revealed that the system changed dramatically during that process, making MCAS riskier and more powerful, and that key F.A.A. officials were unaware of major changes to the system.

The task force said the certification documents that Boeing provided to the F.A.A. “were not updated during the certification program to reflect the changes” made to MCAS. It added that two critical documents that describe the potential dangers of a system like MCAS, the system safety assessment and the functional hazard assessment, “were not consistently updated.”

Boeing also failed to thoroughly stress-test the design of MCAS, according to the report, which found that “the design assumptions were not adequately reviewed, updated or validated.”

In addition, the report criticized Boeing for not adequately assessing the extra effort pilots might have to make to deal with MCAS, and it noted that Boeing had removed mention of MCAS from a draft of the pilot’s manual. As a result of that decision, some key F.A.A. officials were not fully aware of MCAS and were “not in a position to adequately assess training needs,” the report found.

To address some of these shortcomings, the report recommends that the F.A.A. update the certification process to allow the agency to be more involved in the design process early on.

The Max was certified in 2017 as the latest version of the 737 family. Because it was based on a well-known design, the F.A.A. allowed it to undergo a less thorough certification process than if it were an entirely new plane.

“Some elements of the design and certification remain rooted in the original 1967 certification of the B737-100,” the review found. But while some modern safety tools have been incorporated into new versions of the 737, others were not included in the Max because they were deemed “impractical,” the review found.

Overall, the report found fault with the process for certifying a new plane based on an old design, saying that it “lacks an adequate assessment of how proposed design changes integrate with existing systems.”

It recommended that the F.A.A. confirm that the Max is in fact compliant with regulations having to do with the plane’s flight guidance system, flight manual and stall demonstration.

Those recommendations, which could affect whether the plane is allowed back into service, have already been addressed by the F.A.A., according to a person familiar with the process. The effort to address those issues has contributed to the prolonged grounding of the Max.

The Joint Authorities Technical Review, which produced the report, was led by Chris Hart, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, and included representatives from the F.A.A., NASA and aviation regulators from Europe, China, Brazil and other countries.

To conduct the review, Mr. Hart and his team were briefed by F.A.A. officials and Boeing executives, and they scrutinized extensive documentation on the certification of the Max.

In both of the flights that crashed, the pilots had a hard time identifying the cause of the problems and were unable to bring the planes under control.

The review found that the F.A.A. certification process had failed to adequately consider “pilot recognition time and pilot reaction time to failures.” In particular, the review suggested that the F.A.A. question Boeing’s assumption that pilots could react to a malfunction similar to the one caused by MCAS in just four seconds.

One source of the problems with the certification of the Max was the F.A.A. office in Seattle that oversees Boeing, according to the report. It found that the Boeing office had “limited experience and knowledge of key technical aspects” of the Max.

In the end, the F.A.A. was simply unable to effectively assess MCAS, the review found.

“The F.A.A. had inadequate awareness of the MCAS function,” which meant that the agency could not adequately assess Boeing’s certification of the system, the report found.

The review also said there were signs that Boeing employees who worked on behalf of the F.A.A. to certify the Max had at times faced conflicts of interest. It recommended that the F.A.A. review staffing levels at its Boeing office in Seattle, as well as reviewing the Boeing office that allows company employees to perform certification work.

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‘Pretty obvious’: Rays starter Tyler Glasnow admits he was tipping pitches in loss vs. Astros

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'Pretty obvious': Rays starter Tyler Glasnow admits he was tipping pitches in loss vs. Astros

SportsPulse: And then there were four. The Houston Astros clinched their ticket to the ALCS. Here’s everything you need to know heading into the league championship series. USA TODAY

There may have been a reason the Houston Astros were able to tee-off on Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasnow in the first inning. 

He was tipping his pitches. 

“I went back and looked and it was pretty obvious, as far as the tips go,” admitted Glasnow after the 6-1 loss in Game 5 of the American League Division Series.  

“I’m not going to say that’s the reason why. I left some pitches over the middle of the plate and they’re really good hitters and they can do things with it. I don’t care how hard you throw to good hitters. I don’t know if that’s what it was, but when i look back, it was pretty obvious.”

The Astros scored three runs before Glasnow recorded an out in the first inning. Then Yuli Gurriel extended the lead to 4-0 with another RBI single.  

The Astros have a reputation of watching pitchers very closely. But it’s not an implication of them stealing signs, rather Houston batters being able to spot a pitchers tendencies early on and watching film of their previous starts.   

In the 2017 World Series, the Astros noticed something from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish’s delivery and battered him in two starts.

Astros slugger Alex Bregman, who ripped a two-run double off Glasnow in the first inning, was diplomatic when asked if he detected anything unusual from Glasnow. 

“No, no, no,” he said. “He’s as tough to face as anybody, I think if you went around and asked everybody on our team. It was just a team approach today. It was just one at-bat after another.”

Glasnow, who finished the regular season with a 1.78 ERA over 12 starts, was chased after 2 ⅔ innings allowing five hits and four earned runs. 

The Astros won the series and advanced to the American League Championship Series to face the New York Yankees. 

In his postgame press conference, Rays manager Kevin Cash addressed the possibility of Glasnow’s potential pitch tipping, but didn’t think it was a major concern. 

“Well, they could have been. We are aware at times with some pitchers, but at the end of the day it’s 98 and it’s a breaking ball. You’ve still got to do your job with it, and they certainly did.”

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Explosion Reportedly Damages Iranian Oil Tanker Off Saudi Arabia

Westlake Legal Group 5da02404200000da064ffe28 Explosion Reportedly Damages Iranian Oil Tanker Off Saudi Arabia

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Two missiles struck an Iranian tanker traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday, Iranian officials said, the latest incident in the region amid months of heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S.

There was no word from Saudi Arabia on the reported attack and Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Oil prices spiked by 2% on the news.

Iranian state television said the explosion damaged two storerooms aboard the unnamed oil tanker and caused an oil leak into the Red Sea near the Saudi port city of Jiddah. The leak was later stopped, IRNA reported.

The state-run IRNA news agency, quoting Iran’s National Iranian Tanker Co., identified the stricken vessel as the Sabiti. It turned on its tracking devices late Friday morning in the Red Sea, putting its location some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Jiddah, according to data from MarineTraffic.com.

The vessel last turned on its tracking devices in August near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. Iranian tankers routinely turn off their trackers as U.S. sanctions target the sale of Iran’s crude oil.

“The oil tanker … sustained damages to the body when it was hit by missiles 60 miles (96 kilometers) from the Saudi port city of Jiddah,” IRNA said.

The agency did not say whom Iranian officials suspect of launching the missiles.

Lt. Pete Pagano, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet overseeing the Mideast, said authorities there were “aware of reports of this incident,” but declined to comment further.

Benchmark Brent crude oil rose over 2% in trading Friday to reach some $60.40 a barrel.

The reported attack comes after the U.S. has alleged that in past months Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, something denied by Tehran.

Friday’s incident could push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher, more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy.

The mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East followed Trump’s decision.

The latest assault saw Saudi Arabia’s vital oil industry come under a drone-and-cruise-missile attack, halving the kingdom’s output. The U.S. has blamed Iran for the attack, something denied by Tehran. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom the kingdom is fighting in a yearslong war, claimed that assault, though analysts say the missiles used in the attack wouldn’t have the range to reach the sites from Yemen.

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Trump protest in Minneapolis erupts in pepper spray, MAGA hat fires

Westlake Legal Group trump-minn- Trump protest in Minneapolis erupts in pepper spray, MAGA hat fires fox news fnc/politics fnc Danielle Wallace article 2a094a30-cb94-5ac5-8d00-5db261f04ca5

Hundreds of protesters outside President Trump’s rally in Minneapolis Thursday night set fire to Make America Great Again hats and other memorabilia in an effort to show their defiance to the current administration before police broke up the crowd, reports said.

There were reports that multiple protesters were arrested. One report indicated that protesters threw urine.

TRUMP BELITTLES BIDENS WITH GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AT MINNEAPOLIS RALLY, AS CHAOS UNFOLDS OUTSIDE ARENA

Cell phone video posted by Star Tribune reporter Chao Xiong showed Trump supporters walking through a crowd of protesters outside the Target Center in Minneapolis, shouting, “Lock him up” and “Shame on you.”

A Washington Post reporter posted video on her Twitter account that she said appeared to show a Trump supporter leaving the rally and being followed by protesters after one yelled, “There’s a Nazi over here.”

The apparent Trump supporter was slapped and pushed and eventually ran to safety.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that police deployed pepper spray.

Trump arrived in Minnesota as polls show Americans’ support rising for impeachment. Democrats claim he used his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens for his political gain. Trump insists that he was just making sure the country was doing its part to weed out corruption.

Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who had a separate schedule of appearances in the state Trump is trying to tip his way next year.

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Trump praised police officers during his rally.  USA Today reported that  Minneapolis police were not allowed to attent the rally in their uniforms, so they wore, “Cops For Trump” t-shirts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group trump-minn- Trump protest in Minneapolis erupts in pepper spray, MAGA hat fires fox news fnc/politics fnc Danielle Wallace article 2a094a30-cb94-5ac5-8d00-5db261f04ca5   Westlake Legal Group trump-minn- Trump protest in Minneapolis erupts in pepper spray, MAGA hat fires fox news fnc/politics fnc Danielle Wallace article 2a094a30-cb94-5ac5-8d00-5db261f04ca5

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Explosion reported on Iranian oil tanker off coast of Saudi Arabia

Westlake Legal Group cdd Explosion reported on Iranian oil tanker off coast of Saudi Arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc article 9f567c89-9bbd-5969-92b2-6f952235f909

An explosion was reported on an Iranian oil tanker on Friday about 60 miles off the coast of Saudi Arabia in what is being eyed as a “terrorist attack.”

The tanker, which is owned by the National Iranian Oil Company, suffered serious damage, the semi-official ISNA news agency, reported, according to Reuters. The tanker is located on the Red Sea near the port in Jeddah.

There was no immediate acknowledgment from the kingdom of this amid heightened tensions across the Middle East.

The state-run IRNA news agency and other Iranian media relied on an online report, while the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted an anonymous source with direct knowledge.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.

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The reported explosion comes after the U.S. has alleged that Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, something denied by Tehran.

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group cdd Explosion reported on Iranian oil tanker off coast of Saudi Arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc article 9f567c89-9bbd-5969-92b2-6f952235f909   Westlake Legal Group cdd Explosion reported on Iranian oil tanker off coast of Saudi Arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc article 9f567c89-9bbd-5969-92b2-6f952235f909

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NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers deny anti-Israel socialist group influenced end of team’s ‘Hometown Hero’ veterans program

The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers issued a statement Thursday night, denying that the team’s “Hometown Hero” partnership with a supplier to the U.S. military ended because of “external pressure.”

The team’s statement, posted via Twitter, followed a recent report in Willamette Week, that said several organizations – including the Portland Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) – had opposed the basketball team’s relationship with rifle-scope manufacturer Leupold & Stevens, which supplies the devices to the U.S. military and the armed forces of other countries, including Israel, which the socialist group described as a “brutal occupying force.”

In its statement, the NBA team said the military contractor, not the basketball team, chose to end the partnership, in which local veterans were honored at the team’s home games.

MAN WHO HAD PRO-HONG KONG SIGN CONFISCATED AT NBA GAME IN WASHINGTON SAYS LEAGUE IS ‘AFRAID’ OF CHINA

“Leupold’s sponsorship contract officially expired at the end of last season and Leupold & Stevens made the decision not to renew,” the Trail Blazers said in a statement. “Their decision was business-related and not influenced by external pressure as being misreported by certain media outlets.”

After the Blazers’ statement appeared, Portland’s democratic socialists posted a copy on Twitter, accompanied by a mocking GIF of the Marcia character from a “Brady Bunch” movie saying, “Sure, Jan.”

The socialists had also claimed victory when the Willamette Week story appeared.

“We are grateful for the hard work of the many community groups, activists, Blazers fans, and veterans who united around this important issue to stand up for Palestinian human rights,” Portland DSA co-chair Olivia Katbi Smith said in a statement, according to Willamette Week. “We are relieved that the Blazers have done the right thing and finally ended this completely unnecessary partnership with a company that has provided sniper scopes to a brutal occupying force.”

Westlake Legal Group 9c5ef141-AP19282125069399-1 NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers deny anti-Israel socialist group influenced end of team’s ‘Hometown Hero’ veterans program fox-news/us/us-regions/west/oregon fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/sports/nba/portland-trail-blazers fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/socialism fox news fnc/sports fnc f9dfe3c2-b986-5bcf-bdf9-15294c830d34 Dom Calicchio article

The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, in red, face the Denver Nuggets in a preseason game at Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (Associated Press)

BEN SHAPIRO: CHINA VS. THE NBA — LEAGUE’S SOCIAL ACTIVISM HAS A PRICE (AND NOW WE KNOW WHAT IT IS)

According to Willamette Week, a “Hometown Hero” segment at a Trail Blazers game last season saw a member of the Portland socialist group – who was a former Marine Corps security guard — suddenly unzip his jacket and reveal a shirt with the words, “End This Sponsorship #NoLeupold.”

Katbi Smith said the group also planned to protest the Trail Blazers’ Thursday night preseason game against a visiting team from Israel, Maccabi Haifa.

A Twitter post appeared later, showing DSA members holding a banner outside the game reading, “Don’t Play Apartheid.”

The NBA has been under fire recently for what some viewed as a poor response to the Chinese government after the general manager of the Houston Rockets spoke out in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.

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Critics of various political persuasions argued that the basketball league did not initially react strongly enough in support of free speech, possibly out of concern for potential risks to its business interests in communist China.

After the Rockets executive’s statement, Chinese officials canceled several events surrounding a visit to Shanghai this week by the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, but the teams’ scheduled game in Shangahi, on Thursday morning in the U.S., was played as scheduled.

The Lakers and Nets are scheduled to play a second game in China on Saturday morning, U.S. time, before returning to the U.S.

Westlake Legal Group AP19282125069399-1 NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers deny anti-Israel socialist group influenced end of team’s ‘Hometown Hero’ veterans program fox-news/us/us-regions/west/oregon fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/sports/nba/portland-trail-blazers fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/socialism fox news fnc/sports fnc f9dfe3c2-b986-5bcf-bdf9-15294c830d34 Dom Calicchio article   Westlake Legal Group AP19282125069399-1 NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers deny anti-Israel socialist group influenced end of team’s ‘Hometown Hero’ veterans program fox-news/us/us-regions/west/oregon fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/sports/nba/portland-trail-blazers fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/socialism fox news fnc/sports fnc f9dfe3c2-b986-5bcf-bdf9-15294c830d34 Dom Calicchio article

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‘The Daily Show’ Posts The ‘Perfect’ Phone Number For A Good Time With The ‘President’

Westlake Legal Group 5da00114210000c3073440fd ‘The Daily Show’ Posts The ‘Perfect’ Phone Number For A Good Time With The ‘President’

The Daily Show” tweeted a phone number on Thursday, clearly urging followers to give it a ring.

Here’s a hint: The voice sounds very familiar and boasts about a “perfect” phone call — and Ukraine.

Need more encouragement? “The Daily Show” touts: “Jealous of the Ukrainian president’s ‘perfect call’ with Trump? You, too, can have a perfect call with the president. Call ‘The Daily Show’s’ Donald J. Trump Perfect Call Hotline: +1 (954) 44-TRUMP. The president is standing by…”

For the Spanish version … oh, nevermind.

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Steve Kerr says he hasn’t been asked about US ‘human rights abuses’ when asked about China

Westlake Legal Group AP19284051466652 Steve Kerr says he hasn't been asked about US 'human rights abuses' when asked about China fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc Brie Stimson article 845f54c4-75a4-5f65-a185-b306d28bf35d

Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, told reporters Thursday he has never been asked about “human rights abuses” that take place in the U.S. when he visits China.

“No. Nor has our record of human rights abuses come up either,” he said after a reporter asked if he had been questioned about Chinese human rights while in China. “People in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.”

“The world is a complex place and there’s more gray than black and white,” he added.

Kerr, a frequent Trump critic, was called out by the president earlier this week when he said he didn’t have any thoughts on whether the Chinese were wrong to pressure the NBA to not voice support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

TRUMP MOCKS NBA COACH STEVE KERR FOR CHINA STANCE, CALLS HIM ‘LITTLE BOY’

“He was like a little boy, he was so scared…. He was shaking,” Trump said. “He didn’t know how to answer the question.”

The NBA has had a growing relationship with China, but voicing support for anti-Communist protesters in Hong Kong threatens to damage that relationship.

Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey recently tweeted a since-deleted photo in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Afterward, Chinese state television decided not to air two NBA exhibition games in the country.

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“It’s a really bizarre international story,” Kerr said about the controversy. “A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about like everybody is, but I’m not gonna comment further.”

Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19284051466652 Steve Kerr says he hasn't been asked about US 'human rights abuses' when asked about China fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc Brie Stimson article 845f54c4-75a4-5f65-a185-b306d28bf35d   Westlake Legal Group AP19284051466652 Steve Kerr says he hasn't been asked about US 'human rights abuses' when asked about China fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc Brie Stimson article 845f54c4-75a4-5f65-a185-b306d28bf35d

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