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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 93)

Judge orders resentencing for Rand Paul neighbor after ruling 30 days too lenient

Westlake Legal Group AP19239595054666-1 Judge orders resentencing for Rand Paul neighbor after ruling 30 days too lenient Louis Casiano fox-news/us/crime fox-news/politics fox-news/person/rand-paul fox news fnc/us fnc e472a7c3-5f0f-5f15-bc29-a070a51e7e49 article

A federal appeals court judge on Monday ordered the resentencing of the neighbor who assaulted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in 2017 after ruling the original 30-day sentence was too lenient.

Sixth Circuit Court Judge Jane Stranch said the lower court that imposed the sentence after Rene Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting the lawmaker had no compelling justification for sentencing him below federal guidelines, The Hill reported.

SEN. RAND PAUL TO UNDERGO HERNIA SURGERY IN CANADA AFTER ATTACK BY NEIGHBOR

“Federal defendants with a criminal history category of I who were convicted of assault received an average sentence of 26 months’ imprisonment and a median sentence of 21 months,” the 16-page ruling states, citing data. “We therefore VACATE Boucher’s sentence and REMAND for resentencing.”

In making her ruling, Stranch cited other 30-day prison sentences for those found guilty of assaulting members of Congress, including two defendants in 1981 who threw eggs at a congressman. They missed.

Another defendant was given 15 days after spitting on a senator at an airport, according to The Hill.

“These prison terms were similar to Boucher’s, but the offense conduct  was  quite  different – as the Government argues, ‘it is difficult to understand why a tackle resulting in long-term serious injuries warrants the same sentence as an egg toss or spit in the face,’” the ruling states.

Paul had part of his lung removed and suffered several broken bones as a result of the assault. The incident occurred in November 2017 when he was tackled from behind while mowing his lawn.

Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist, said the attack was sparked because he was agitated about piles of brush on Paul’s property. He also said Paul used his lawnmower to blow leaves onto his property.

Paul told Fox News in 2018 there was no longstanding dispute with Boucher.

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“It is impossible to have a dispute when no words of disagreement were ever spoken — neither immediately nor at any other time before the attack occurred,” he said.

In January, Paul was awarded $580,000 in damages after suing his neighbor.s

Westlake Legal Group AP19239595054666-1 Judge orders resentencing for Rand Paul neighbor after ruling 30 days too lenient Louis Casiano fox-news/us/crime fox-news/politics fox-news/person/rand-paul fox news fnc/us fnc e472a7c3-5f0f-5f15-bc29-a070a51e7e49 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19239595054666-1 Judge orders resentencing for Rand Paul neighbor after ruling 30 days too lenient Louis Casiano fox-news/us/crime fox-news/politics fox-news/person/rand-paul fox news fnc/us fnc e472a7c3-5f0f-5f15-bc29-a070a51e7e49 article

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Alien civilizations may have explored the Milky Way and visited Earth already, new study claims

Westlake Legal Group aliens2 Alien civilizations may have explored the Milky Way and visited Earth already, new study claims fox-news/topic/aliens fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 2eb1d0e3-b0d6-55ad-b894-668648a1a9d2

Our Milky Way galaxy could be filled with alien civilizations, a new study claims, but we don’t know because they haven’t stopped by Earth for a visit in millions of years.

According to a study published last month in The Astronomical Journal, extraterrestrial life might taking its time to fully explore the galaxy, even using the movement of star systems to make this type of journey easier.

The scientists’ work is the latest response to what’s known as the Fermi paradox, which wonders why we have yet to detect signs of alien life.

Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi famously said something to the effect of, “But where is everybody?” in reference to the possibility of star-hopping space aliens.

AMERICANS SKEPTICAL OF UFOS, BUT SAY GOVERNMENT KNOWS MORE: POLL

FAKE NEWS ON INSTAGRAM COULD CAUSE BIG PROBLEMS IN 2020, REPORT CLAIMS

The new study claims the aliens may just be taking their time and being strategic.

“If you don’t account for motion of stars when you try to solve this problem, you’re basically left with one of two solutions,” Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, a computational scientist and the study’s lead author, told Business Insider. “Either nobody leaves their planet, or we are in fact the only technological civilization in the galaxy.”

Stars, along with the planets around them, orbit the center of the Milky Way on unique paths at varying speeds, and they sometimes zip past one another as they do, Business Insider reports.

Carroll-Nellenback’s study points out that the aliens could simply be waiting for their next destination to come closer to them.

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Westlake Legal Group aliens2 Alien civilizations may have explored the Milky Way and visited Earth already, new study claims fox-news/topic/aliens fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 2eb1d0e3-b0d6-55ad-b894-668648a1a9d2   Westlake Legal Group aliens2 Alien civilizations may have explored the Milky Way and visited Earth already, new study claims fox-news/topic/aliens fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 2eb1d0e3-b0d6-55ad-b894-668648a1a9d2

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Calls for Wilbur Ross’ Resignation Rain Down Amid Report He Threatened NOAA Firings

Westlake Legal Group twbqsy0rOvjwna8tFkCm4qeGT_BEkBoL6Iy2Pjcm3ew Calls for Wilbur Ross' Resignation Rain Down Amid Report He Threatened NOAA Firings r/politics

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Dutch cop suspected of killing 2 children, self: police

A Dutch cop is suspected of fatally shooting two children and seriously wounding a woman before turning the gun on himself in a home late Monday, authorities said.

A police source told Reuters that the shooting took place in Dordrecht, a city about an hour’s drive south of Amsterdam.

Westlake Legal Group AMSTERDAM Dutch cop suspected of killing 2 children, self: police fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/crime fox news fnc/world fnc f7aef4d5-40f9-5d45-8baf-37b53d0f3c5c Bradford Betz article

Dutch authorities say three people were killed in an apparent murder-suicide Monday evening. (Rotterdam Police Force)

“Three people were killed in the shooting incident in Dordrecht’s Heimerstein (neighborhood),” read an official police statement on Twitter.

A fourth family member was “seriously injured,” police said.

NEW JERSEY WOMAN, 23, ALLEGEDLY STABBED MOM TO DEATH IN APARTMENT, FLED TO HOTEL: AUTHORITIES

It was not immediately clear if the 35-year-old officer was related to the children, who were aged 8 and 12, or to the 28-year-old injured woman. Police spokesman Wim Hoonhout told The Associated Press that “it seems like a family incident.”

Police were on the scene late Monday, cordoning off a residential home, Reuters reported. Photos from the scene showed a large police presence in a residential neighborhood and at least one ambulance parked in the street as people stood in the street looking on.

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Dordrecht Mayor Wouter Kolff tweeted that there was “a very serious shooting incident,” and he was headed to the neighborhood.

The victims’ identities have not been released. The investigation is ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AMSTERDAM Dutch cop suspected of killing 2 children, self: police fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/crime fox news fnc/world fnc f7aef4d5-40f9-5d45-8baf-37b53d0f3c5c Bradford Betz article   Westlake Legal Group AMSTERDAM Dutch cop suspected of killing 2 children, self: police fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/crime fox news fnc/world fnc f7aef4d5-40f9-5d45-8baf-37b53d0f3c5c Bradford Betz article

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Taliban talks dead: what comes next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

Days after U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz and eleven civilians were killed in a Kabul suicide bombing – for which the Taliban claimed responsibility – President Trump said Monday that peace talks between the United States and Taliban leaders are dead.

So what comes next for war-ravaged Afghanistan and U.S. involvement in the war there that has raged for the past 18 years?

“The entire Afghan policy is currently in upheaval. What happens next depends on whether Trump will listen to Secretary Pompeo, who still believes a deal with the Taliban is the right thing,” Bill Roggio, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal, told Fox News. “Or the growing chorus, including among influential Trump supporters, who oppose a bad deal with the Taliban.”

Roggio surmised that if the president does follow the advice of his secretary of state, talks could resume in a couple weeks. If not, the military will likely withdraw a number of troops without any agreement in place.

“To be clear, the US is under no obligation to make a deal with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan,” he stressed.

But in sharp contrast to the calm that inking a deal with the hardline Islamist faction was supposed to bring, Trump also tweeted Monday that over the past four days, the United States has “been hitting our enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years.”

HOW THE TALIBAN REMAINED DOMINANT IN AFGHANISTAN: TERRIFYING TACTICS AND AN ADVANCING WEAPONS ARSENAL

For the past twelve months, the U.S Special Envoy and former ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, had been hammering terms of an agreement in Doha, Qatar. Late last month – following nine intense rounds of talks – a deal reportedly reached its final stage, designed to bring an end to the U.S’s protracted engagement in Afghanistan.

According to news reports, the now sidelined accord was said to have stipulated the exit of 14,000 American forces through to the end of 2020. In exchange, the Taliban pledged that it would not allow the conflict-wracked nation to be a safe haven for terrorist groups that threatened the security of the U.S.

But the speed with which the fragile dialogue fell apart has caught experts and analysts by surprise.

“A little over a week ago, there was little opposition to the (peace) deal. Trump was right to halt it, it was a bad deal that absolves the Taliban’s role in providing a safe haven for Al Qaeda prior to and after 9/11,” Roggio said. “It would have been a humiliating defeat for the United States.”

Despite the efforts to reach a diplomatic conclusion to the stalemated conflict, Taliban-inspired attacks have continued with jarring frequency in recent months.

“With or without a large U.S. presence, the current civil war with the Taliban goes on. Kabul still controls vast internal security forces who can hold territory, and there is still foreign aid and logistical support coming in – China and India want a stable government in Afghanistan,” noted Miguel Miranda, an expert analyst in military technology in Asia. “This means the Afghan government won’t crumble overnight. But the Taliban can keep fighting, keep trying to capture cities and subvert local authorities. It’s a sad state of affairs.”

Miranda suspects the talks will resume at some point – likely after next month’s presidential elections in Afghanistan – with a deal centered on four conditions.

“The Taliban will not harbor terrorist groups, a U.S/NATO exit from the country, national dialogue for peace and a permanent ceasefire and a ‘normal’ country,” he conjectured.

Nonetheless, the negotiations have been fodder for criticism since they started, in large part because the Kabul government was not granted a seat at the table. The Taliban has maintained that the Ashraf Ghani leadership are not the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan and refused their participation.

Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman does not anticipate the now frozen arrangement to change the calculus.

“The United States will likely proceed with the initial withdrawal of forces regardless of the deal’s status, but it’s hard to say given the president’s fickleness,” he said. “We should proceed with a withdrawal with or without the Taliban’s permission since that is what is in our best interest.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19243304725498 Taliban talks dead: what comes next for the U.S. in Afghanistan? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc f80aa623-e13b-5d3e-8719-ac5f670991f3 article

Afghan security forces arrive during a fight against Taliban fighters in Kunduz province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. The Taliban have launched a new large-scale attack on one of Afghanistan’s main cities, Kunduz, and taken hospital patients as hostages, the government said Saturday, even as the insurgent group continued negotiations with the United States on ending America’s longest war. (AP Photo/Bashir Khan Safi)

According to a well-placed U.S. defense source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, a deal is not likely to be revived in the immediate future, in spite of the insistence of some U.S. officials that it isn’t all over.

“The Taliban will use this as propaganda, and many in the U.S. seem quite comfortable with the prospect of just sending in black ops when things pop up,” the source noted. “People are just tired of the whole situation and the president certainly doesn’t want it to become a campaign issue. I think we are going back to small hits and less (nation) building.”

AFGHAN WOMEN FEAR RENEWED CHAPTER OF SHARIA LAW AND REGRESSION OF RIGHTS UNDER TALIBAN’S THUMB

The view from Afghanistan is a mixture of both relief and concern, with many taken aback by Washington’s secret plan to host the Taliban delegation in Camp David this week, within days of the anniversary of 9/11, before Trump’s weekend announcement he was pulling the plug.

“The news of the Camp David meeting was shocking, and an insult to our terrorism victims. We’re thankful President Trump canceled it,” said Ahmad Muslem Hayat, a former Afghan military attaché in London. “But they will continue. The Taliban will try to increase its terror reign and kill more Afghan Army and U.S. troops.”

Sanjar Sohail, the publisher of Kabul’s Hasht e daily newspaper, concurred that the move to squash the secret meeting on American soil was the right one.

“The entire negotiations were a mistake from the start. It provided recognition and legitimacy to the Taliban, and we were worried after the last round of talks ended that the U.S. was going to abandon us,” he said. “There needs to be a ceasefire, the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19234555300525 Taliban talks dead: what comes next for the U.S. in Afghanistan? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc f80aa623-e13b-5d3e-8719-ac5f670991f3 article

FILE – In this May 28, 2019 file photo, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader, third from left, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban have resumed negotiations on ending America’s longest war. A Taliban member said Khalilzad also had a one-on-one meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, with Baradar, the Taliban’s lead negotiator, in Qatar, where the insurgent group has a political office. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

But in the meantime, Afghans caught in the crossfire are bracing for an uptick in violence. And while the U.S. position going forward remains obscure, the Taliban hasn’t minced words – cautioning that the suspension of talks “will harm America more than anyone else.”

“It will damage its reputation, unmask its anti-peace policy to the world, even more, increase its loss of life and treasure and present its political interactions as erratic,” the organization said in a statement. “Such a reaction towards a single attack just before the signing of an agreement displays a lack of composure and experience.”

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And at least for the near future, Afghanistan’s bloodletting will continue.

“We will accept nothing less than the complete end of occupation and allowing Afghans to decide their own fate,” the Taliban added. “And we shall continue our jihad for this great cause and maintain our strong belief in ultimate victory, Allah willing.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084657976001_6084652377001-vs Taliban talks dead: what comes next for the U.S. in Afghanistan? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc f80aa623-e13b-5d3e-8719-ac5f670991f3 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6084657976001_6084652377001-vs Taliban talks dead: what comes next for the U.S. in Afghanistan? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc f80aa623-e13b-5d3e-8719-ac5f670991f3 article

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U.S. Sows Confusion Over How Bahamas Residents May Enter After Hurricane Dorian

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1166589989-594x594_custom-0f55b2d573387cb5ff9e19acdf4f0c4db7a50066-s1100-c15 U.S. Sows Confusion Over How Bahamas Residents May Enter After Hurricane Dorian

People await evacuation at a dock in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, on Saturday in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  U.S. Sows Confusion Over How Bahamas Residents May Enter After Hurricane Dorian

People await evacuation at a dock in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, on Saturday in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration says it has deployed “an enormous amount of resources” to southern Florida to receive residents of the Bahamas fleeing their hurricane-ravaged nation, but it is sending mixed signals about how Bahamians will be allowed into the U.S.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Monday his agency has processed “thousands of folks” from two cruise ships as well as aircraft.

Speaking at the White House, Morgan admitted there has been some confusion surrounding the process by which Bahamian refugees are being allowed into the country, including passengers on a ferry boat who said they were turned away Sunday because they lacked travel visas.

Morgan said Border Patrol agents “will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here” whether they have proper travel documents or not. “We’ve already processed people that have travel documents and don’t have travel documents,” he said.

“This is a humanitarian mission,” Morgan said. “If your life is in jeopardy and you’re in the Bahamas and you want to get to the United States, you’re going to be allowed to come to the United States.” He said there would still be some vetting to “make sure that we’re not letting dangerous people in, taking advantage of this.”

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1167069105_custom-0f54aed1c85a1f383c787da89d8adba3c3ddc495-s1100-c15 U.S. Sows Confusion Over How Bahamas Residents May Enter After Hurricane Dorian

Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan speaks during a briefing at the White House on Monday. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  U.S. Sows Confusion Over How Bahamas Residents May Enter After Hurricane Dorian

Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan speaks during a briefing at the White House on Monday.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

But a few hours later, President Trump appeared to contradict Morgan. “We have to be very careful,” Trump told reporters Monday afternoon, “Everybody needs totally proper documentation.”

Morgan said people found to have “long criminal records” will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “We’re not letting dangerous people in,” he said.

The administration has not yet decided whether to grant the Bahamians who enter the U.S. temporary protected status, allowing them to stay in the country. Trump said, “We’re talking to a lot of people about that.” Earlier, Morgan said it will depend on how long it takes to rebuild the islands. “We would not support returning them to a place where its not safe for them to be,” he said.

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Emily Ratajkowski stuns in $50 Zara dress

Emily Ratajkowski knows a good deal when she sees one.

The model, 28, was one of a slew of high-profile celebrities who attended the Harper’s Bazaar Icons party at the Plaza on Friday of New York Fashion Week.

Westlake Legal Group Emily-Ratajowski-red-dress Emily Ratajkowski stuns in $50 Zara dress New York Post fox-news/style-and-beauty fnc/lifestyle fnc Emily Kirkpatrick article 179e69fd-2ac5-56cd-898a-d79ce715be98

Emily Ratajkowski showed that looking great doesn’t have to break the bank. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Harper’s BAZAAR)

But while the rest of the stars were wearing pricey couture gowns, this cover girl attended in a very budget-friendly look.

SEDUCTIVE ‘CHIN SHELF’ IS NEWEST INSTAGRAM POSE POPULAR WITH CELEBS

Ratajkowski arrived on the step-and-repeat in a $49.90 red dress from Zara featuring an asymmetrical cut and slinky, body-hugging silhouette.

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She paired the simple piece with black lace-up “Ophelia” heels by Merah Vodianova ($432), leaving her dark brown hair down in loose waves and adding a smokey eye and a nude lip.

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The “Easy” actress shared a shot of herself in the outfit on her Instagram account, letting all her followers know she’s a pro at thrifty black-tie apparel by captioning it, “btw this dress is Zara.”

Westlake Legal Group Emily-Ratajowski-red-dress Emily Ratajkowski stuns in $50 Zara dress New York Post fox-news/style-and-beauty fnc/lifestyle fnc Emily Kirkpatrick article 179e69fd-2ac5-56cd-898a-d79ce715be98   Westlake Legal Group Emily-Ratajowski-red-dress Emily Ratajkowski stuns in $50 Zara dress New York Post fox-news/style-and-beauty fnc/lifestyle fnc Emily Kirkpatrick article 179e69fd-2ac5-56cd-898a-d79ce715be98

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Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say

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WASHINGTON — The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

Officials at the White House and the Commerce Department declined to comment on administration involvement in the NOAA statement.

The actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

Mr. Trump persisted in saying that Alabama was at risk and a few days later, on Sept. 4, he displayed a NOAA map that appeared to have been altered with a black Sharpie to include Alabama in the area potentially affected by Dorian.

Mr. Ross, the commerce secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. Unlike career government employees, political staff are appointed by the administration. They usually include a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 09CLI-NOAA2-articleLarge Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Dorian (2019) environment

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in August. CreditEraldo Peres/Associated Press

However, a senior administration official who asked not to be identified when discussing internal deliberations said that the Birmingham office had been wrong and that NOAA had simply done the responsible thing and corrected the record.

That official suggested the Twitter post by the Birmingham forecasters had been motivated by a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama. The official provided no evidence to support that conclusion.

On Monday, Craig N. McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, sent an email to staff members notifying the agency that he was looking into “potential violations” in the agency’s decision to ultimately back Mr. Trump’s statements rather than those of its own scientists. He called the agency’s action “a danger to public health and safety.”

Dr. Jacobs is scheduled to speak Tuesday at a weather industry conference in Huntsville, Ala.

On Monday, the National Weather Service director, Louis W. Uccellini, got a standing ovation from conference attendees when he praised the work of the Birmingham office and said staff members there had acted “with one thing in mind, public safety” when they contradicted Mr. Trump’s claim that Alabama was at risk.

A Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked

Sept. 6, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160193625_7150617c-bc42-4cac-9e83-7a70074d9efe-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Dorian (2019) environment

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Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say

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WASHINGTON — The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

Officials at the White House and the Commerce Department declined to comment on administration involvement in the NOAA statement.

The actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

Mr. Trump persisted in saying that Alabama was at risk and a few days later, on Sept. 4, he displayed a NOAA map that appeared to have been altered with a black Sharpie to include Alabama in the area potentially affected by Dorian.

Mr. Ross, the commerce secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. Unlike career government employees, political staff are appointed by the administration. They usually include a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 09CLI-NOAA2-articleLarge Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Dorian (2019) environment

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in August. CreditEraldo Peres/Associated Press

However, a senior administration official who asked not to be identified when discussing internal deliberations said that the Birmingham office had been wrong and that NOAA had simply done the responsible thing and corrected the record.

That official suggested the Twitter post by the Birmingham forecasters had been motivated by a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama. The official provided no evidence to support that conclusion.

On Monday, Craig N. McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, sent an email to staff members notifying the agency that he was looking into “potential violations” in the agency’s decision to ultimately back Mr. Trump’s statements rather than those of its own scientists. He called the agency’s action “a danger to public health and safety.”

Dr. Jacobs is scheduled to speak Tuesday at a weather industry conference in Huntsville, Ala.

On Monday, the National Weather Service director, Louis W. Uccellini, got a standing ovation from conference attendees when he praised the work of the Birmingham office and said staff members there had acted “with one thing in mind, public safety” when they contradicted Mr. Trump’s claim that Alabama was at risk.

A Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked

Sept. 6, 2019

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Texas leads charge against Google in massive antitrust probe

Less than two months after the Justice Department initiated a wide-ranging antitrust review of big tech companies, 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas, Monday announced their own investigation into Google’s “potential monopolistic behavior.”

The announcement closely followed one from a separate group of states Friday that disclosed an investigation into Facebook’s market dominance. The two probes widen the antitrust scrutiny of big tech companies beyond sweeping federal and congressional investigations and enforcement action by European regulators.

A key issue in the states’ probe is whether Google abuses its market dominance in online search, advertising, and mobile operating systems to unfairly gain leverage in other markets, stifling innovation and harming consumers. Although anti-conservative bias among Google’s leadership has been documented and frequently draws the ire of top Republicans, the antitrust probes do not expressly relate to those concerns.

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At the same time, President Trump tweeted ominously last month after meeting Google CEO Sundar Pichai in the Oval Office: “We are watching Google very closely!”

The president’s comment came after an individual whom Google called a “disgruntled former employee” alleged that the company was working to ensure Trump does not win re-election.

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FILE – In this May 1, 2019, file photo a man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco. A group of states are expected to announce an investigation into Google on Monday, Sept. 9, to investigate whether the tech company has become too big. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson, a Republican, said at a press conference held in Washington that 50 attorneys general joining together sends a “strong message to Google.” The news conference featured a dozen Republican attorneys general plus the Democratic attorney general of Washington, D.C.

California and Alabama are not part of the investigation, although it does include the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Tara Gallegos, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, declined to confirm or deny any state investigation and would not comment on the announcement by the other states.

Both sides of the political aisle have targeted Google and other large tech companies in recent weeks. Several 2020 presidential candidates, most prominently Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have called for the tech giants to be broken up for alleged anticompetitive behavior — the most extreme remedy available under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

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AT&T and Standard Oil are among the most notable instances of companies being broken up by antitrust law. Perhaps the closest comparison to any attempt to split up Google would be the 2000 effort to break up Microsoft into two companies: one producing the Windows operating system, and the other producing software.

That remedy was approved by a trial judge but later overturned on appeal in favor of other sanctions, as experts argued that the operating system and software could not meaningfully be separated without undermining the quality of both products. Others pointed out that competitors could flourish — and point to Apple’s rise as vindication.

Regulators could focus on Google’s popular video site YouTube, an acquisition Google scored in 2006, as a possible entity to spin off.

“People’s whole internet experience is mediated through Google’s home page and Google’s other products.”

— Jen King, the director of privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society.

“Google’s services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country,” a Google spokesperson told Fox News in an emailed statement last week. “We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general, in answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector.”

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls so many facets of the internet that it’s fairly impossible to surf the web for long without running into at least one of its services. Google’s dominance in online search and advertising enables it to target millions of consumers for their personal data.

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Google said it expects the state authorities will ask the company about past similar investigations in the U.S. and internationally, senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post Friday.

Critics often point to Google’s 2007 acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick as pivotal to its advertising dominance.

Europe’s antitrust regulators slapped Google with a $1.7 billion fine in March for unfairly inserting exclusivity clauses into contracts with advertisers, disadvantaging rivals in the online ad business.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. Pichai angered members of a Senate panel in September by declining their invitation to testify about foreign governments’ manipulation of online services to sway U.S. political elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP)

Joining Paxton, a Republican, in the investigation are the attorneys general of almost all U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Google has long argued that although its businesses are large, they are useful and beneficial to consumers.

“Google is one of America’s top spenders on research and development, making investments that spur innovation,” Walker wrote. “Things that were science fiction a few years ago are now free for everyone — translating any language instantaneously, learning about objects by pointing your phone, getting an answer to pretty much any question you might have.”

But federal and state regulators and policymakers are growing more concerned not just with the company’s impact on ordinary internet users, but also on smaller companies striving to compete in Google’s markets.

“On the one hand, you could just say, ‘well, Google is dominant because they’re good,'” said Jen King, the director of privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “But at the same time, it’s created an ecosystem where people’s whole internet experience is mediated through Google’s home page and Google’s other products.”

Experts believe the probe could focus on at least one of three areas that have caught regulators’ eyes.

A good first place to look might be online advertising. Google will control 31.1 percent of global digital ad dollars in 2019, according to eMarketer estimates, crushing a distant second-place Facebook. And many smaller advertisers have argued that Google has such a stranglehold on the market that it becomes a system of whatever Google says, goes — because the alternative could be not reaching customers.

“There’s definitely concern on the part of the advertisers themselves that Google wields way too much power in setting rates and favoring their own services over others,” King said.

Another visibly huge piece of Google’s business is its search platform, often the starting point for millions of people when they go online. Google dwarfs other search competitors and has faced harsh criticism in the past for favoring its own products over competitors at the top of search results. European regulators also have investigated in this area, ultimately fining Google for promoting its own shopping service. Google is appealing the fine.

Google’s open smartphone operating system, Android, is the most widely used in the world.

European regulators have fined Google $5 billion for tactics involving Android, finding that Google forced smartphone makers to install Google apps, thereby expanding its reach. Google has since allowed more options for alternative browser and search apps to European Android phones.

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The Justice Department opened a sweeping investigation of big tech companies this summer, looking at whether their online platforms have hurt competition, suppressed innovation or otherwise harmed consumers. The Federal Trade Commission has been conducting its own competition probe of Big Tech, as has the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust.

Fox News’ Christopher Carbone and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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