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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 75)

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Weathers New Scrutiny

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1151213986_wide-669bbbfb12ecf5d6496129b00976ee617214c1e3-s1100-c15 Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Weathers New Scrutiny

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under the microscope for reportedly pressuring government scientists to back President Trump over a misleading tweet about Hurricane Dorian. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Weathers New Scrutiny

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under the microscope for reportedly pressuring government scientists to back President Trump over a misleading tweet about Hurricane Dorian.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under the microscope again, amid fresh allegations of meddling with a government scientific agency.

The latest storm to engulf the secretary began Sep. 1, when weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., issued a tweet saying Hurricane Dorian posed no threat to their state.

“We were reacting to the calls that were coming into our office and people were actually frightened,” said Kevin Laws, science officer for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. “They were wanting to cancel surgeries and they were wanting to go pick up elderly parents at the coastline because they were genuinely scared. And we felt like we needed to make a statement on where this storm was going to go and to reassure our people.”

Laws and his colleagues learned only later what sparked those anxious phone calls: a tweet from President Trump, mistakenly including Alabama on a list of states that could be hard hit by the storm.

For days, Trump stubbornly insisted he was right about the hurricane’s path, giving fodder to late-night comics when he showed off a map that had been clumsily doctored with a Sharpie. But the story took a more serious turn last Friday when NOAA — the federal agency that includes the Weather Service — issued an unsigned statement defending the president’s tweet and chastising the Birmingham forecasters who contradicted it.

According to The New York Times, NOAA’s statement followed political pressure from the commerce secretary, who oversees the weather agency and threatened to fire NOAA officials if they failed to back up the president.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who called for Ross to resign. “Threatening to fire senior NOAA appointees if they didn’t prop up Trump’s false weather claims? It’s just one bridge too far.”

A Commerce Department spokesman denied the Times report, saying Ross didn’t threaten to fire anyone over the dueling hurricane statements.

“Secretary Ross has never stopped advocating for the American people,” the spokesman said in a statement.

But the episode has brought renewed attention to Ross’s history of interfering with government scientists.

“It’s part of a pattern of deemphasizing science and facts and the truth in order to play some often naive or silly political agenda,” said Beyer, who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, endorsed an investigation of the NOAA letter by the commerce department’s Inspector General.

Ross, who also oversees the Census Bureau, previously bucked scientific experts there when he tried to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, despite warnings that it would jeopardize an accurate headcount.

“It certainly introduces uncertainties about the scientific integrity of our national statistics when you see political interference with the mission of these agencies,” said John Thompson, who directed the bureau from 2013 to 2017.

The Supreme Court ultimately blocked the citizenship question. In his ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the question would have been allowed if Ross had not misrepresented his motives. Ross claimed he was acting on a request from the Justice Department, but Roberts concluded that was a mere pretext.

The Trump administration has also been quietly purging information about climate change from government websites and replacing independent scientific advisers with industry insiders. Complaints about the scientific integrity of government agencies can often seem esoteric. But a battle over the weather service helps bring it home.

“Everyone knows their local TV meteorologist and understands that they get information directly from the government,” said Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The air pollution scientists who work for EPA are a little bit more behind the scenes, but their work is just as critical to protecting the public.”

Ross hasn’t only tried to skew government measurements. He’s also tried to skew measures of his own wealth. For years, Forbes magazine included Ross on its list of the richest Americans, estimating his fortune at $2.9 billion in 2016. But once he joined the administration, financial disclosures revealed Ross was really worth only a fraction of that.

“We estimate that he is worth about $600 million,” said Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander. “And what’s sad, somebody who has been so successful and is so wealthy, still for him it wasn’t enough. He wanted to be seen as richer. [He] wanted people to think he was a billionaire and he just never was.”

In a 2017 story about Ross’s exaggerated claims of wealth, Alexander quoted longtime co-workers about the secretary’s habit of bending the truth.

“At this point, people just don’t trust him,” Alexander said Tuesday, as the NOAA controversy was making headlines. “So it wasn’t that much of a surprise to see that Wilbur was apparently helping cover up for misinformation about that.”

By the time Dorian’s winds reached hurricane strength, Ross’s credibility was in danger, even if the people of Alabama were not.

Mary Scott Hodgin of member station WBHM contributed to this report.

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

Wilbur Ross At The Center Of Another Political Storm, This Time About The Weather

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1151213986_wide-669bbbfb12ecf5d6496129b00976ee617214c1e3-s1100-c15 Wilbur Ross At The Center Of Another Political Storm, This Time About The Weather

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under the microscope for reportedly pressuring government scientists to back President Trump over a misleading tweet about Hurricane Dorian. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  Wilbur Ross At The Center Of Another Political Storm, This Time About The Weather

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under the microscope for reportedly pressuring government scientists to back President Trump over a misleading tweet about Hurricane Dorian.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under the microscope again, amid fresh allegations of meddling with a government scientific agency.

The latest storm to engulf the secretary began Sep. 1, when weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., issued a tweet saying Hurricane Dorian posed no threat to their state.

“We were reacting to the calls that were coming into our office and people were actually frightened,” said Kevin Laws, science officer for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. “They were wanting to cancel surgeries and they were wanting to go pick up elderly parents at the coastline because they were genuinely scared. And we felt like we needed to make a statement on where this storm was going to go and to reassure our people.”

Laws and his colleagues learned only later what sparked those anxious phone calls: a tweet from President Trump, mistakenly including Alabama on a list of states that could be hard hit by the storm.

For days, Trump stubbornly insisted he was right about the hurricane’s path, giving fodder to late-night comics when he showed off a map that had been clumsily doctored with a Sharpie. But the story took a more serious turn last Friday when NOAA — the federal agency that includes the Weather Service — issued an unsigned statement defending the president’s tweet and chastising the Birmingham forecasters who contradicted it.

According to The New York Times, NOAA’s statement followed political pressure from the commerce secretary, who oversees the weather agency and threatened to fire NOAA officials if they failed to back up the president.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who called for Ross to resign. “Threatening to fire senior NOAA appointees if they didn’t prop up Trump’s false weather claims? It’s just one bridge too far.”

A Commerce Department spokesman denied the Times report, saying Ross didn’t threaten to fire anyone over the dueling hurricane statements.

“Secretary Ross has never stopped advocating for the American people,” the spokesman said in a statement.

But the episode has brought renewed attention to Ross’s history of interfering with government scientists.

“It’s part of a pattern of deemphasizing science and facts and the truth in order to play some often naive or silly political agenda,” said Beyer, who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, endorsed an investigation of the NOAA letter by the commerce department’s Inspector General.

Ross, who also oversees the Census Bureau, previously bucked scientific experts there when he tried to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, despite warnings that it would jeopardize an accurate headcount.

“It certainly introduces uncertainties about the scientific integrity of our national statistics when you see political interference with the mission of these agencies,” said John Thompson, who directed the bureau from 2013 to 2017.

The Supreme Court ultimately blocked the citizenship question. In his ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the question would have been allowed if Ross had not misrepresented his motives. Ross claimed he was acting on a request from the Justice Department, but Roberts concluded that was a mere pretext.

The Trump administration has also been quietly purging information about climate change from government websites and replacing independent scientific advisers with industry insiders. Complaints about the scientific integrity of government agencies can often seem esoteric. But a battle over the weather service helps bring it home.

“Everyone knows their local TV meteorologist and understands that they get information directly from the government,” said Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The air pollution scientists who work for EPA are a little bit more behind the scenes, but their work is just as critical to protecting the public.”

Ross hasn’t only tried to skew government measurements. He’s also tried to skew measures of his own wealth. For years, Forbes magazine included Ross on its list of the richest Americans, estimating his fortune at $2.9 billion in 2016. But once he joined the administration, financial disclosures revealed Ross was really worth only a fraction of that.

“We estimate that he is worth about $600 million,” said Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander. “And what’s sad, somebody who has been so successful and is so wealthy, still for him it wasn’t enough. He wanted to be seen as richer. [He] wanted people to think he was a billionaire and he just never was.”

In a 2017 story about Ross’s exaggerated claims of wealth, Alexander quoted longtime co-workers about the secretary’s habit of bending the truth.

“At this point, people just don’t trust him,” Alexander said Tuesday, as the NOAA controversy was making headlines. “So it wasn’t that much of a surprise to see that Wilbur was apparently helping cover up for misinformation about that.”

By the time Dorian’s winds reached hurricane strength, Ross’s credibility was in danger, even if the people of Alabama were not.

Mary Scott Hodgin of member station WBHM contributed to this report.

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

AOC claims Republicans would create lifelong ‘stain on their careers’ by opposing Trump impeachment

Westlake Legal Group AOC-AP AOC claims Republicans would create lifelong 'stain on their careers' by opposing Trump impeachment Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/republicans fox-news/person/alexandria-ocasio-cortez fox news fnc/media fnc article 2a9c4808-b4c5-5bb5-8835-136501f20bd8

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., indicated that even if the Senate would refuse to remove President Trump from office, the House of Representatives should vote on impeachment proceedings in an attempt to “stain” Republicans.

“Once the House impeaches, the House has impeached the president. And then that hearing goes to the Senate,” she said on Tuesday, according to MSNBC.

“If they want to fail it, then I want to see every Republican go on the record and knowingly vote against impeachment of this president — knowing his corruption, having it on the record so that they can have that stain on their careers for the rest of their lives.”

PELOSI INSISTS DEMS ARE UNITED, EVEN AFTER NADLER MAKES NEW PUSH TOWARDS IMPEACHMENT

Although Ocasio-Cortez has already called for impeachment, much of her caucus seemed reluctant. That included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has warned about a failed impeachment bid potentially dooming efforts to prosecute Trump after he leaves office.

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Pelosi reportedly told House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., that she wanted to see Trump in prison but refused his interest in impeaching Trump.

Nadler’s committee has led the charge on congressional investigations after the release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Despite Nadler’s push for impeachment, Pelosi has insisted that Democrats “all work together.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

After the majority of her caucus threw their support behind impeachment, Pelosi sent out a letter in an apparent attempt to assure her members. Without supporting impeachment, she outlined various legal battles that Democrat-led committees were undertaking against Trump.

Westlake Legal Group AOC-AP AOC claims Republicans would create lifelong 'stain on their careers' by opposing Trump impeachment Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/republicans fox-news/person/alexandria-ocasio-cortez fox news fnc/media fnc article 2a9c4808-b4c5-5bb5-8835-136501f20bd8   Westlake Legal Group AOC-AP AOC claims Republicans would create lifelong 'stain on their careers' by opposing Trump impeachment Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/senate/republicans fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/republicans fox-news/person/alexandria-ocasio-cortez fox news fnc/media fnc article 2a9c4808-b4c5-5bb5-8835-136501f20bd8

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Computer-assisted fraud: Hundreds arrested in worldwide crackdown against scam romances, lotteries

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Computer-assisted fraud: Hundreds arrested in worldwide crackdown against scam romances, lotteries

The Apex Police Department shared the video to serve as a warning to not give out personal information to suspicious callers. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Ever wonder what became of the Nigerian romantic in a financial jam or the lottery winner who needed your help to claim his winnings?

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had arrested 281 of them – including 74 people in the United States – and charged them with wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes for a wide range of digital scams designed to prey on the unsuspecting. The arrests were part of a four-month crackdown on digital schemes called Operation reWired.

The scams tended to target real-estate buyers, the elderly and others by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts that the suspects controlled, according to the department. The suspects would impersonate a key employee to make a transfer after gaining access to the victim’s email account, or perhaps sensitive employment or tax records, often through romance or lottery scams, according to the department.

The arrests included 167 people in Nigeria, 18 in Turkey, 15 in Ghana and others in France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Authorities seized nearly $3.7 million, the Justice Department said.

“Anyone who engages in deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement.

Don Fort, chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, said investigators discovered that conspirators stole more than 250,000 identities and filed more than 10,000 fraudulent tax returns while attempting to receive $91 million in refunds.

Attorney General William Barr has called fraud against the elderly a “massive problem” that is often perpetrated by transnational criminal organizations. The cost can be especially high and the losses catastrophic for the elderly, he said in a March speech.

“We have to prosecute an all-out attack on these despicable crimes,” Barr said.

The latest enforcement effort followed one called Operation Wire Wire announced in June 2018 that resulted in the arrest of 74 people, the seizure of nearly $2.4 million and the recovery of about $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.

The scams prosecutors alleged in the latest series of arrests included:

Romance: where victims were tricked into sending or laundering money under the guise of helping a paramour with an international business transaction.

Employment: where victims provided their personal identification numbers and then overpaid, so that they had to send back the apparent excess funds to the employer.

Online sales: where victims were persuaded to buy nonexistent goods and prepaying with gift cards.

Rentals: where victims receive a bad check in excess of an agreed upon deposit and are asked to refund the extra before the check bounces.

Lotteries: where victims convinced they’ve won an international lottery must pay fees or taxes before receiving the payout.

Many of the suspects have either pleaded not guilty to the charges, or were arrested so recently they had not yet formally appeared in court to enter a plea. 

“The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.  “Cooperation is the backbone to effective law enforcement; without it, we aren’t as strong or as agile as we need to be.”

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Andrew McCarthy: Michael Flynn should not have been prosecuted

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6085069974001_6085073263001-vs Andrew McCarthy: Michael Flynn should not have been prosecuted Julia Musto fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 1d7d95a5-e542-50ef-8293-403a6ab7ed29

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy said Tuesday that ex-Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn should never have been prosecuted or investigated.

Appearing on “America’s Newsroom,” McCarthy told host Bill Hemmer that he really thought “President Trump should have pardoned him” and “maybe the politics of 2020 makes [it] difficult to do at this point.”

“This is something, Bill, that’s really — it ought to be — straightforward and it’s gotten very complicated in this case,” McCarthy said.

On Tuesday Flynn’s legal team indicated in federal court that they are seeking to have the case against him thrown out. The team is accusing the prosecution of “egregious conduct and suppression” of potentially exculpatory evidence.

FLYNN LAWYER ACCUSES PROSECUTORS OF ‘EGREGIOUS CONDUCT,’ HIDING EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE

In a status conference in federal court in Washington, Flynn’s lead defense attorney, Sidney Powell, said: “There never would have been a plea to begin with if the government had disclosed Brady information about what it knew before the plea agreement.”

The “Brady material” complaint is in reference to the Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, which established the government’s obligation to turn over all exculpatory evidence. The accusation came as both sides have squabbled over a sentencing date. After months of delays, prosecutors have said they are ready to proceed to sentencing. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan indicated he would like to set a tentative sentencing date of Dec. 18.

“There is far more at stake here than sentencing,” Powell said. “There were stunning failures to produce Brady material, going back to July of 2017.”

Prosecutors, though, have strongly rejected that assertion, saying “the government has exceeded its discovery and disclosure obligations in this matter,” including providing Flynn with more than 22,000 pages of documents.

FLYNN LAWYER AT WAR WITH MUELLER TEAM

Flynn in 2017 pleaded guilty to providing false statements to the FBI during an interview about his contacts with the former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, as part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Powell, who has accused the Justice Department of withholding documents critical to Flynn’s defense, is demanding access to classified materials she claims the government has blocked them from viewing.

Those materials include FBI documents surrounding the actions of Bruce Ohr, a former high-ranking official at the Department of Justice who had multiple contacts with the author of the infamous Trump dossier.

On “America’s Newsroom,” McCarthy explained: “The bottom line is, in every criminal case the government has an obligation to disclose to the defense any material exculpatory information that’s in the government’s files.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“So, what you had here was a switch of judges and when the new judge came in even though the plea had already happened, he issued a discovery order demanding that the government turn over any exculpatory information that it hadn’t turned over,” he said.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6085069974001_6085073263001-vs Andrew McCarthy: Michael Flynn should not have been prosecuted Julia Musto fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 1d7d95a5-e542-50ef-8293-403a6ab7ed29   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6085069974001_6085073263001-vs Andrew McCarthy: Michael Flynn should not have been prosecuted Julia Musto fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 1d7d95a5-e542-50ef-8293-403a6ab7ed29

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What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Voters in a Republican-leaning North Carolina congressional district will choose a new representative on Tuesday in a special election that will test President Trump’s clout ahead of 2020 and Democrats’ ability to make inroads with the sort of suburban voters who propelled them to the House majority last year.

The polls close at 7:30 p.m.

The race pits Dan McCready, a Democrat and Marine veteran whose motto is “country over party,” against Dan Bishop, a Republican state senator who has been endorsed by Mr. Trump and welcomed the president’s characterization of Mr. McCready as an “ultra liberal” who “really admires socialism.”

Putting his political capital on the line, Mr. Trump campaigned with Mr. Bishop on Monday evening in Fayetteville, in the conservative eastern edge of the district, just hours before polls opened. And Vice President Mike Pence also lent a hand on Monday, holding a rally in Wingate, N.C., on Mr. Bishop’s behalf.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160551399_e860c37d-1133-40cb-a1cc-52ea7aed1f9f-articleLarge What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

Dan McCready, a Democrat, is running to flip control of the longtime Republican-held Ninth Congressional District.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

The Ninth District covers part of Charlotte and a number of exurban and rural counties to the east. It has not been represented by a Democrat since the early 1960s, and Mr. Trump won it by nearly 12 percentage points in 2016. But in the midterms of 2018, Mr. McCready, surfing the national anti-Trump mood, ran a close race, losing by 905 votes to the Republican candidate at the time, Mark Harris.

Then came one of the more bizarre plot twists in recent American politics: The state elections board threw out the entire election and ordered a new one after evidence surfaced that Mr. Harris’s campaign had funded an illegal vote-harvesting scheme in rural Bladen County.

Mr. McCready, 36, a businessman, decided to keep running, and has now been on the campaign trail for 27 straight months. A centrist, he has been focusing on the issue of health care affordability and criticizing Mr. Bishop for opposing the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Bishop, 55, a Charlotte lawyer, is perhaps best known statewide for sponsoring the controversial so-called bathroom bill that required transgender people to use restrooms that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. He boasts of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association, and he has repeatedly attacked Mr. McCready by lumping him with the more left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party.

Dan Bishop, the Republican nominee, spoke with supporters and staff in Monroe.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

Mr. Trump has tweeted his endorsement for Mr. Bishop and sent out a fund-raising email on his behalf. In July, Mr. Bishop spoke at Mr. Trump’s rally in Greenville, N.C., in which the crowd responded to the president’s attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born Democrat, with chants of “send her back!”

The election is effectively the last campaign of the 2018 season, and what alarms national Republicans is how ominously it recalls the midterm elections: As with so many races last year, a centrist Democrat has raised significantly more money than the Republican candidate in a historically conservative district that is now tilting toward the political center because of the suburban drift away from the G.O.P.

And just as in so many of the special elections leading up to Democratic victories, or near-wins, since 2017, local Republicans have beckoned Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence to compensate for the disparity in enthusiasm between the two candidates.

But as officials in both parties recognize, the president is not just a turnout lever for Republicans — he also inspires Democrats and some left-leaning independents.

With Democrats aggressively banking early votes and Mr. McCready enjoying a sizable fund-raising advantage until outside conservative groups rushed in advertising, Republicans had little choice but to call in 11th-hour reinforcements.

A Republican loss after such a presidential intervention would sow doubts about Mr. Trump’s appeal in a state his re-election campaign is depending on. But it could prove even more worrisome to the House G.O.P. A number of incumbent Republicans were already choosing to retire rather than run again in a year when Mr. Trump will be on top of the ticket and their chances of retaking the majority look increasingly poor.

Were Mr. Bishop to lose or even win narrowly, it might trigger a fresh wave of congressional Republican retirements: 15 House Republican lawmakers have already said they will not seek re-election.

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Westlake Legal Group 31northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

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E.U.’s New Digital Czar: ‘Most Powerful Regulator of Big Tech on the Planet’

BRUSSELS — For five years, Margrethe Vestager, was the scourge of Silicon Valley, levying billions of dollars in fines and initiating investigations against Google, Apple and Facebook for violating antitrust laws and harming consumers.

As the European Union’s competition commissioner, she, and her army of lawyers, became heroes to many critics of Big Tech, even as they were loathed in some corporate offices, and in the White House.

“She hates the United States,” President Trump said, “perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met.”

On Tuesday, Ms. Vestager assumed more power than ever, expanding her portfolio to become the equivalent of the European Union’s digital czar.

It’s a job that analysts say will give her unmatched regulatory reach at a time when public anger is rising over issues like privacy, disinformation, data management and the enormous reach of the largest technology companies — like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook — into the everyday lives of billions of people.

“Margrethe Vestager will be the most powerful regulator of Big Tech on the planet,” said Thomas Vinje, a veteran antitrust lawyer based in Brussels. “She will have more leverage than anyone else in the world.”

Ms. Vestager’s enhanced status reflects the European Union’s ambition to become the most activist tech regulator in the world, creating a far-reaching role for itself in the global economy. European officials see an opening to become the trusted global regulator, especially as their American counterparts have been criticized for doing too little.

As the digital giants branch out into new areas, including finance with Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency, regulators are finding it harder to keep up with the complex, highly sophisticated and opaque nature of the companies they’re meant to oversee, experts say.

Ms. Vestager’s new role, which combines digital regulation and antitrust enforcement, could be better suited to the new era of digital domination, according to supporters of more aggressive regulation.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155443785_9db74c7c-6489-4fa9-8c99-5bc8d872e874-articleLarge E.U.’s New Digital Czar: ‘Most Powerful Regulator of Big Tech on the Planet’ Vestager, Margrethe Regulation and Deregulation of Industry International Trade and World Market Google Inc Facebook Inc Data-Mining and Database Marketing Computers and the Internet Apple Inc Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues Amazon.com Inc

Ms. Vestager’s expanded role gives her unmatched regulatory reach over the technology industry at a time when public anger is rising over issues like data privacy.CreditMads Claus Rasmussen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Europe is clearly signaling that massive data harvesting must be considered a critical part of competition and regulatory analysis of market forces,” said Gene Kimmelman, the former chief counsel for policy in the antitrust division of the Justice Department during the Obama administration, referring to the huge amounts of personal information gathered by companies like Facebook. “It indicates Europe increasingly considers control of massive data likely plays a critical role in attaining dominance in digital markets.”

The unique characteristics of the digital world, including the inability for both consumers and regulators to see the algorithms that determine what users see in search results and news feeds, and what advertisers pay to reach them, make righting any potential wrongs in the industry even harder, Mr. Kimmelman, who now works for consumer-rights nonprofit Public Knowledge, said.

Ms. Vestager’s dual role as both a setter and enforcer of European Union rules could raise concerns about conflicts of interest and investing too much power in one office’s hands.

As part of her antitrust portfolio, she will be responsible for assessing if companies are using their market share to unfairly block out smaller competitors. And from her new perch as digital regulator, she can advance new rules on company behavior, including how they collect, use and store users’ data; and how they shield themselves against cyberattacks.

“Concentration of power is an issue,” said Mr. Vinje, the antitrust lawyer. “There is an efficiency benefit in having those powers combined in one person, but on the other hand there is always a benefit in debate and division of power, so one can question if this results in too much power.”

In her regulatory role, Ms. Vestager will be able to propose new legislation, but any law will need to be approved by European Union member states and the European Parliament, meaning her powers will be closely checked.

Ms. Vestager will also continue to oversee ongoing investigations, including whether Amazon is unfairly using data from third-party sellers who use its platform to improve its own offerings. Her office has also faced pressure to investigate if Apple is unfairly using its app store to harm competition, and to initiate further inquiry of Google.

Under Ms. Vestager’s direction, European Union antitrust authorities have already fined Google more than $9 billion over the last few years.

In 2017, her office levied a record $2.7 billion fine on Google for unfairly favoring its own online shopping-comparison service over those of competitors. Last year, the E.U. ordered Google to pay an additional $5.1 billion for abusing its power in the mobile phone market to cement the dominance of its software on the Android platform. This year, antitrust authorities fined Google another $1.7 billion, this time for abusing its dominance in online advertising.

“My kids or myself never consider for a minute that this is a U.S. company or a European company,” Ms. Vestagar told reporters. “The reason we use it is that Google has very good products.”CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Her office has also ordered that Apple pay $14.5 billion in back taxes to Ireland and fined Facebook $122 million for combining the personal data of Facebook and WhatsApp users, after the company had explicitly said that it would not do so.

Ms. Vestager might broaden the scope of antitrust law to include how digital giants use data to gain an advantage over rivals. Academics, lawyers and competitors have argued that existing competition policies must evolve to better account for the use of personal information by Google, Facebook and Amazon to keep smaller rivals from emerging.

Not everyone thinks more regulation of the tech world is a good idea.

“Ms. Vestager is at the vanguard of tougher tech industry regulation on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Joe Kennedy, a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank in Washington that has received funding from tech companies. “The strong danger now is that we’ll have overregulation, rather than under-regulation.”

Apart from the Silicon Valley giants, Ms. Vestager will oversee the technically difficult and politically controversial rollout of 5G across the European Union, where the Chinese manufacturer Huawei remains a powerful player despite being banned from the United States. Her staff will also be at the forefront of scrutinizing cybersecurity efforts across the bloc and its half a billion citizens.

Whether tech regulators in other parts of the world, notably the United States, will see the European approach as an example to follow remains uncertain.

“U.S. law and the courts are more conservative on antitrust,” Mr. Kimmelman said. He added: “We’ve had very little, almost no enforcement against the tech sector. Europe is in the leadership role.”

Still, American officials have recently started to follow Europe’s lead in some cases. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are now probing the tech giants. And over the past week, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general announced investigations of Google and Facebook. Members of Congress have been calling for more oversight of the fast-growing and influential industry.

As for charges that she is out to get the United States and its digital champions, Ms. Vestager rejected the claim early on in her career, when she began her first investigation into Google in 2015.

“My kids or myself never consider for a minute that this is a U.S. company or a European company,” she told reporters. “The reason we use it is that Google has very good products.”

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Illinois police seek Walter White look-alike on probation violation

Police in Illinois are looking for a man who bears a startling resemblance to “Breaking Bad” protagonist Walter White — and is wanted for a probation violation related to methamphetamine possession, according to a local report.

The Galesburg Police Department in Illinois regularly posts mugshots of wanted people to its Facebook page, but the post for Sept. 3, which featured 50-year-old Todd Barrick Jr., got extra attention. Barrick’s mugshot shows him sporting glasses and a goatee, similar to the character played by Bryan Cranston on the AMC series. Barrick is also the same age as the Walter White character when the series begins.

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The Galesburg Police Department told KWQC-TV that Barrick’s probation violation was related to meth possession. The department did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Westlake Legal Group Walter-White-lookalike Illinois police seek Walter White look-alike on probation violation Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/illinois fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us/crime fox-news/newsedge/entertainment fox news fnc/us fnc e4a978db-c8e7-543e-ac68-b8e1e8731227 article

Police in Illinois are looking for a man who has “Breaking Bad” fans doing a double take because the suspect looks like the television show’s Walter White and coincidentally is wanted in relation to methamphetamine possession, according to a local report. (Galesburg Police Department)

“Breaking Bad” ran for five seasons between 2008 and 2013. The show told the story of White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer and turns to manufacturing meth to ensure his family’s financial security after he dies.

“Heisenberg lives!” one Facebook user commented under the police department’s post, referring to an alias used by White on the show.

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“This new ‘Breaking Bad’ movie looks like it sucks!” another user wrote.

It was not immediately known if Barrick is currently in custody.

Westlake Legal Group Walter-White-lookalike Illinois police seek Walter White look-alike on probation violation Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/illinois fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us/crime fox-news/newsedge/entertainment fox news fnc/us fnc e4a978db-c8e7-543e-ac68-b8e1e8731227 article   Westlake Legal Group Walter-White-lookalike Illinois police seek Walter White look-alike on probation violation Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/illinois fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us/crime fox-news/newsedge/entertainment fox news fnc/us fnc e4a978db-c8e7-543e-ac68-b8e1e8731227 article

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Researchers challenge widely cited study linking Trump rallies to hate crimes

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084778793001_6084780465001-vs Researchers challenge widely cited study linking Trump rallies to hate crimes Maxim Lott fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc cc01d800-73ce-548f-aeba-06228c0316b0 article

Media outlets lavished attention this year on a study that found hate crimes were a whopping 226 percent higher in counties where President Trump has held rallies — but researchers at another university are challenging those findings, saying there is no link between the two things once a basic flaw in the calculations is fixed.

The original unpublished study was covered by The Associated PressThe HillWiredUS News and World Report, and Business Insider. Those outlets cited a “study” without noting it had not been published in any journal.

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“A 226 percent increase in hate crimes. That is a real study,” MSNBC host Christopher Hayes told viewers.

MSNBC reported the finding on its airwaves seven times. CNN also covered the statistic, and Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar cited it to attack Trump.

Two economics Ph.D. candidates at Harvard University, Matthew Lilley and Brian Wheaton, have looked into the claim.

They first copied the unpublished study’s own methods and data. Using that, they repeated the same analysis for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 rallies. They reported finding that hers correlated with an even greater rise in hate crimes than Trump’s rallies did.

But the uptick is not necessarily because either of them were inflaming racial tensions. Rather, the researchers contend, it was due to flawed research methods. The new analysis suggested that the original researchers did not properly consider the populations of those counties – overlooking the detail that politicians tend to hold rallies in places with higher populations, which often see more hate crimes.

“Simply put, more populous places have more crimes and more rallies,” Lilley and Wheaton said in an email to Fox News.

They said researchers found the huge 226 percent increase because they compared those Trump-hosting populous counties with counties all across the country. The original authors’ paper did not compare hate crimes in the same counties before and after rallies.

When the Harvard Ph.D. candidates adjusted the number of hate crimes to account for a county’s population size, they found that there was no impact in places with Trump or Clinton rallies.

“The study is wrong, and yet journalists ran with it anyway,” Lilley and Wheaton wrote in a summary on Reason.com, where they first publicized their findings.

The authors of the original study – three professors at the University of North Texas – defended their work to Fox News.

While their draft paper does not address the population issue, they said they have completed previously unreleased analyses that do – and while those analyses find an increase much smaller than 226 percent, they still find an increase.

“The results of this auxiliary analysis renders findings that are both directionally consistent and statistically significant,” study author Regina Branton, a professor of political science at the University of North Texas, told Fox News.

She, along with Ayal Feinberg and Valerie Martinez-Ebers, showed Fox News their extra analysis factoring in population, which still claimed a 118 percent increase.

Lilley and Wheaton said the original researchers made another mistake and incorrectly controlled for population, by failing to take a “log” (logarithm) of population while using a statistical model that requires it, the details of which they outline in their critique.

“They didn’t fully control for population,” Lilley told Fox News.

Another statistics expert agreed with Lilley and Wheaton.

“If you use [the model used in the paper], you must use the log of population,” Carl Moody, an economics professor at the College of William and Mary who studies statistical research methods, told Fox News.

TRUMP FAMILY DYNASTY WILL LAST DECADES, CAMPAIGN CHIEF SAYS

Feinberg’s reply? “We stand by our methods and our results.”

Feinberg said the authors have thoroughly considered the statistics and are proceeding through the standard peer-review process that evaluates papers for formal publication.

Feinberg, Branton, and Martinez-Ebers also sent Fox News another previously unreleased analysis finding a 61 percent increase in hate crimes when comparing the same counties before and after rallies.

Lilley and Wheaton argue that the researchers failed to adjust for seasonal trends in hate crimes throughout the year.

Lilley and Wheaton have released their own data and analysis online. They said routine research methods shouldn’t have slipped by professors and the media for months, and suggest lack of political diversity may be to blame.

In universities, “liberals outnumber conservatives six to one,” the two noted in their Reason article, adding that in journalism there are “four times as many reporters identifying as Democrats than as Republicans.”

The original authors defend their impartiality.

“We fully and passionately reject any notion outright that our research is biased or was motivated by bias,” the original study authors wrote in a statement to Fox News.

They added that if their results had gone the other way, they would have publicized that, too. And speaking to the original findings, they said since the study came out, they’ve received “vile comments and threats from self-identified angry Trump supporters via email and telephone. Some of these comments have used extremely offensive prejudicial language to target our perceived ethnicity and gender.”

They described this response as constituting a “tremendous irony.”

Other Trump supporters pushed back on that narrative.

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“It’s downright wrong for the media to jump all over the idea that Trump rallies cause hate crimes,” Scott Presler, a Trump volunteer and activist, told Fox News. “The reality is the majority of Trump supporters are working-class families who deeply respect the president because he’s keeping his promises.”

Maxim Lott is Executive Producer of “Stossel TV” and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084778793001_6084780465001-vs Researchers challenge widely cited study linking Trump rallies to hate crimes Maxim Lott fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc cc01d800-73ce-548f-aeba-06228c0316b0 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084778793001_6084780465001-vs Researchers challenge widely cited study linking Trump rallies to hate crimes Maxim Lott fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc cc01d800-73ce-548f-aeba-06228c0316b0 article

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Taylor Swift threatened Microsoft with legal action over racist chatbot ‘Tay’

Don’t mess with Tay Tay.

Pop superstar Taylor Swift apparently tried to stop Microsoft from calling its chatbot Tay after the AI-powered bot morphed into a racist troll, according to Microsoft President Brad Smith.

In his new book, Tools and Weapons, Smith wrote about what happened when his company introduced a new chatbot in March 2016 that was meant to interact with young adults and teenagers on social media.

“The chatbot seems to have filled a social need in China, with users typically spending fifteen to twenty minutes talking with XiaoIce about their day, problems, hopes, and dreams,” Smith and his co-author wrote in the book. “Perhaps she fills a need in a society where children don’t have siblings?”

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Westlake Legal Group Taylor-Swift_VMAs-2019 Taylor Swift threatened Microsoft with legal action over racist chatbot ‘Tay’ fox-news/tech/companies/microsoft fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 7cb9f3ad-d159-59c4-b632-faab548c817e

Taylor Swift arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

DOZENS OF GOOGLE EMPLOYEES WERE RETALIATED AGAINST FOR REPORTING HARASSMENT

The chatbot had been introduced in China first, where it was used for a range of different tasks, under a different name.

Unfortunately, once the bot launched in America, it became something very different after absorbing the racist and sexist vitriol that seems to be woven into the fabric of Twitter. The tech giant was forced to pull the plug on Tay less than 24 hours after its launch in America.

“Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways,” explained a Microsoft spokesperson at the time. “As a result, we have taken Tay offline and are making adjustments.”

When Smith was on vaction, he received a letter from a Beverly Hills law firm that said in part: We represent Taylor Swift, on whose behalf this is directed to you. … the name ‘Tay,’ as I’m sure you must know, is closely associated with our client.”

The lawyer reportedly went on to argue that the use of the name Tay created a false and misleading association between the popular singer and the chatbot, and that it violated federal and state laws.

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According to Smith’s book, the company decided not to fight Swift — perhaps best for a singer rumored to hold grudges — and quickly began discussing a new name for the chatbot.

Westlake Legal Group Taylor-Swift_VMAs-2019 Taylor Swift threatened Microsoft with legal action over racist chatbot ‘Tay’ fox-news/tech/companies/microsoft fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 7cb9f3ad-d159-59c4-b632-faab548c817e   Westlake Legal Group Taylor-Swift_VMAs-2019 Taylor Swift threatened Microsoft with legal action over racist chatbot ‘Tay’ fox-news/tech/companies/microsoft fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 7cb9f3ad-d159-59c4-b632-faab548c817e

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