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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 93)

Federal Budget Deficit Swelled to Nearly $1 Trillion in 2019

Westlake Legal Group 25dc-defecit-facebookJumbo Federal Budget Deficit Swelled to Nearly $1 Trillion in 2019 United States Politics and Government United States Economy Treasury Department Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) National Debt (US) Federal Taxes (US) Federal Budget (US)

WASHINGTON — The United States federal budget deficit jumped 26 percent in the 2019 fiscal year to $984 billion, reaching its highest level in seven years as the government was forced to borrow more money to pay for President Trump’s tax and spending policies, official figures showed on Friday.

The deficit has now swelled nearly 50 percent since Mr. Trump took office and it is projected to top $1 trillion in 2020. It did not hit $1 trillion in fiscal 2019, which ended Sept. 30, but that was largely the result of Mr. Trump’s tariffs on trading partners like China, which brought in more than $70 billion in revenue.

The grim fiscal scorecard shows how far the Republican Party, under Mr. Trump, has strayed from conservative orthodoxy, which long prioritized less spending and lower deficits. After years of railing against federal spending while President Barack Obama was in office, Republicans have largely followed the president’s lead in cutting budget deals with Democrats that have increased overall government spending.

Annual budget deficits have now increased for four consecutive years, the first such run since the early 1980s. That is a sharp rebuke to Mr. Trump, who promised as a presidential candidate to eliminate deficits within eight years by cutting spending and expanding the economy.

Instead, he has allowed deficits to balloon by enacting sweeping tax cuts and increasing government spending. The rising levels of red ink have come despite a period of sustained economic growth, when budget deficits typically fall as households earn more money, corporations make higher profits and fewer people use safety net programs like unemployment benefits and food stamps. The United States entered its longest expansion on record in July and the jobless rate is at a 50-year low, yet the deficit has continued to widen.

That could be bad news for Mr. Trump, who is heading into a re-election as slowing global growth and festering trade tensions weigh on the United States economy and as stimulus from his $1.5 trillion tax cut fades.

“The current levels of debt are unprecedented in peacetime during a growing economy, and the consequences of this irresponsible spending are unknown,” said G. William Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The deficit is growing in large part because tax receipts are falling, as Mr. Trump’s 2017 tax cuts continue to siphon revenue from the Treasury. The numbers reflect the fact that Mr. Trump’s most significant legislative achievement is not paying for itself, as Republicans have said it would. In fact, tax revenue for the last two years has fallen more than $400 billion short of what the Congressional Budget Office projected in June 2017, six months before the tax law was passed.

In the year through September, the pace of government spending has grown twice as fast as that of tax revenue, with higher outlays on Medicare, Social Security and military spending.

“The biggest factor was the tax cuts, which gave a short-term sugar high but now are just contributing to a larger deficit,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, which promotes fiscal responsibility. “We don’t have an economy that’s going to grow its way out of this problem.”

The deficit, which is the gap between what the government takes in through taxes and other sources of revenue and what it spends, now sits at 4.6 percent of gross domestic product, up from 3.8 percent of G.D.P. in 2018. Tax revenue accounts for just 16.3 percent of the total economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Friday that the president’s economic agenda was working, pointing to the historically low jobless rate, and called on lawmakers to help the administration cut spending.

“In order to truly put America on a sustainable financial path, we must enact proposals — like the president’s 2020 budget plan — to cut wasteful and irresponsible spending,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

Fears of trillion-dollar deficits could renew the desire of Republicans in Congress to propose cuts to social programs, like food stamps, Social Security and other safety net benefits. Republicans have long pointed to swelling deficits as a reason to pursue their long-held vision of smaller government, including undoing many of the programs ushered in during the New Deal and Great Society to help the most disadvantaged Americans.

But Republican lawmakers were largely mum on Friday and some of the most vocal fiscal hawks have left Congress. Senator Mike Enzi, a retiring Republican from Wyoming who leads the budget committee, called the country’s fiscal path unsustainable and said spending must come down.

“While the federal government’s revenue continues to grow, spending is growing twice as fast,” Mr. Enzi said in a statement. “We simply cannot afford to continue ignoring the fiscal challenges our nation faces.”

Republicans, who have shut down the government in their quest to cut spending, have enabled the increases that are exacerbating the deficit.

In August, the Senate gave final approval to a two-year budget deal that raised federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars and allowed the government to keep borrowing money. Twenty-eight Republicans joined with Democrats to send the bill to Mr. Trump’s desk.

Former fiscal hawks such as Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, quietly lamented that agreement as a fact of life in a divided government.

But the mounting red ink has raised a new round of alarm bells from deficit watchdog groups, whose warnings have long gone unheeded in Washington.

The annual budget shortfall is the highest since 2012, when the unemployment rate was twice as high, topping 7 percent, and the economy was emerging from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. By 2029, the national debt is projected to reach its highest level as a share of the economy since the immediate aftermath of World War II.

“Our nation’s leaders are in debt denial, running up red ink all while ignoring trillions of dollars in shortfalls for Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that many millions of Americans rely upon,” said Mitch Daniels, co-chairman of the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget. “We are at a turning point — without action now to phase in reforms over the coming years, Americans will face a much different future than the one that was promised.”

With the deficit growing, it remains unclear how Mr. Trump and the Democrats will address the issue during the election. Democratic candidates such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have introduced broad expansions of social safety net programs and have proposed paying for them with big tax increases on the rich.

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump said that he would eliminate the national debt, which he blamed on Mr. Obama, within eight years. The budget cuts that the president has proposed in his budget plans have been rejected by Congress and Mr. Trump has done little to push them aggressively.

In a July interview with C-Span, Mr. Trump said that if he is re-elected, he would make cutting costs a priority in his second term.

But Mr. Trump has also flirted with the idea of additional tax cuts, such as reducing payroll taxes or taxes on capital gains.

On Friday, before the deficit figures were released, Mr. Trump remained focused on recent increases in the stock market and the low jobless rate.

“The economy is booming,” he said.

— Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Helen Hunt ‘back at work’ on ‘Mad About You’ a week after car accident

Helen Hunt is back at work just one week after the actress was involved in a vehicle accident where her black SUV flipped over.

Hunt, 56, shared an image of herself with “Mad About You” co-star Paul Reiser from the set of the series reboot on Thursday.

“Back at work,” Hunt captioned the snap, adding a pair of the prayer hands emoji.

HELEN HUNT HOSPITALIZED AFTER SUV FLIPS IN CAR ACCIDENT: REPORTS

The “Twister” actress was hospitalized after the accident, which happened in the Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles, according to TMZ.

The “Castaway” performer was riding in the back of an SUV when another car reportedly clipped hers while she was traveling through an intersection.

‘STRANGER THINGS 3’ STAR PAUL REISER OPENS UP ABOUT THE STRANGEST MOMENT IN HIS CAREER

A rep for Hunt did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.

Westlake Legal Group Reuters_PaulReiserHelenHunt Helen Hunt ‘back at work’ on 'Mad About You' a week after car accident Julius Young fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc cf78ea05-f058-58bb-86da-1993c14a099d article

Paul Reiser with Helen Hunt in 1999. (Reuters)

The Academy Award-winning star was among several people hospitalized after the accident, People reported.

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Hunt is currently filming a reboot of the hit television show “Mad About You,” which aired from 1992 until 1999 and landed a limited series revival for Charter Communications’ premium content platform, Spectrum Originals.

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group RT_HelenHunt Helen Hunt ‘back at work’ on 'Mad About You' a week after car accident Julius Young fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc cf78ea05-f058-58bb-86da-1993c14a099d article   Westlake Legal Group RT_HelenHunt Helen Hunt ‘back at work’ on 'Mad About You' a week after car accident Julius Young fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc cf78ea05-f058-58bb-86da-1993c14a099d article

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Autoworkers ratify a new labor contract with GM, ending a 6-week national strike

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Autoworkers ratify a new labor contract with GM, ending a 6-week national strike

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DETROIT – The UAW said Friday that its membership ratified a new four-year contract with General Motors, bringing a six-week strike to a close. 

The UAW made the declaration after the voting ended at 4 p.m. ET Friday.

“General Motors members have spoken,” said Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director of the UAW-GM department. “We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Their sacrifice and courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification that has plagued working class Americans.”

In announcing the ratification and end to the strike, UAW said 23,389 members voted yes and 17,501 voted no on the proposed contract. 

The UAW said that workers will begin to report to work as instructed by GM. The union also announced Friday the next pattern bargaining company will be Ford.

GM confirmed the contract ratification saying it delivered a contract that recognizes employees for the important contributions they make to the company’s success with a strong wage and benefit package and additional investment and job growth in U.S. operations.

“GM is proud to provide good-paying jobs to tens of thousands of employees in America and to grow our substantial investment in the U.S,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. ” As one team, we can move forward and stay focused on our priorities of safety and building high-quality cars, trucks and crossovers for our customers.”

Separately, Aramark workers also ratified a contract for about 850 janitors at five GM locations in Michigan and Ohio. 

The nearly 46,000 union members will receive $11,000 ratification bonuses from GM. Temporary workers are to get $4,500.

GM will notify union workers through the normal channels on when they should return to work, which is certain to be as quickly as possible. The strike cost the company $450 million a week, the Center for Automotive Research estimated, interrupted production of key vehicles and will delay delivery of the 2020 midengine Corvette Stingray. 

The strike’s impact goes beyond the automaker.

Lear Corp. said Friday that the six-week strike represents $525 million in lost revenue for the seating and electronic systems supplier.

Lear, based in Southfield, also lowered its full-year financial outlook, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. Its third-quarter net income fell 15% to $216 million. GM is Lear’s largest customer, accounting for 18 percent of Lear’s business last year.

Temporary workers

The union said the new contract will automatically make more than 900 temporary workers regular employees in January. After that, temps would get permanent jobs as they accrue time on the job under terms of the new contract. Their benefits improve, and the union has a voice in how many temporary workers the company can add. 

Likewise, all “in-progression” workers would get a raise within 52 weeks of their last raise. Under the old contract, those hired after 2007, dubbed in-progression workers, start at $17 an hour and can move up to $28 an hour after eight years. This new deal provides for them to reach $32.32 an hour by the time the new contract expires in 2023.

At Local 163, which represents GM Romulus Powertrain, 1,064 members out of about 1,100 voted, said Ralph Morris, president of the local. He said many workers live as far away as Flint and Toledo, but they drove in to vote.

But during the informational meetings, there were many “impassioned” questions around the contract, he said.

“Some liked that there were no increases to their health care, they liked that the cap was raised for wages to help in-progression employees move up,” said Morris. “But, it was a mixed bag. Was it a slam dunk? No, but a lot of them felt it was an improvement from the current plan and there was a pathway for temporary employees.”

GM will be calling some Local 163 skilled trades workers asking them to work Saturday and Sunday, said Morris. They will be paid time-and-a-half for that work. Monday would be the full production day, he said.

Next up for UAW

The UAW will move on to negotiating a new tentative agreement with Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, using the GM contract as the template.

A UAW local leader at a General Motors plant said the union will face challenges at Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as they head into negotiations with those companies.

“Ford really wanted the health care cut down and Chrysler has the biggest problem with four levels of 10,000 temp workers. Chrysler is going to be very challenging,” the local officer said. “It’ll be interesting to see what Chrysler will do with 10,000 temp employees.”

This officer said Ford should have the easiest time because the union’s top negotiator for Ford, Rory Gamble, has a lot of experience and a good relationship with Ford’s negotiations team.

“They have a strong ability to work together, so they shouldn’t have any problems at all,” said the GM local leader.

Indeed, what worked for GM and the UAW in negotiations isn’t necessarily a right fit for Ford and FCA, said David Kudla, CEO of Mainstay Capital Management.

“GM was able to concede wage growth and health care costs for the ability to close three factories,” said Kudla. “Ford and FCA didn’t have three factories that they wanted to close, but will have to work around this new framework for higher wages and unchanged healthcare that the UAW and GM have set.”

The union has said it’s made significant progress on subcommittee issues with both automakers, but final economic provisions and production promises remain to be worked out. That means those contracts remain uncertain and both companies are still vulnerable to strikes if union negotiators want to play that card.

“Just because there was a GM strike does not mean the other two are off the hook,” said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. 

Separately, the UAW Mack Truck Council announced late Thursday that they have reached a tentative agreement, suspending a nearly two-week strike. Mack workers will be scheduled to return to their jobs. Mack Trucks has five facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

Lordstown’s end

The ratification spells an end to GM’s now idle Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio.

GM is in talks to sell the facility to an investor group, Lordstown Motors, backed by electric truck maker Workhorse. But the local union members wanted GM to give the plant a new product to build after GM stopped building the Chevrolet Cruze compact car there in March.

The contract did not include a new product for Lordstown. It also does not include language to build a battery cell manufacturing facility near Lordstown, which was something GM proposed to the UAW during negotiations. But a GM spokesman confirmed the battery cell plant is still part of GM’s plans.

Local 1112, which represents Lordstown, voted to reject the proposed contract.

“Obviously we’re all disappointed and angry over what happened,” said Tim O’Hara, president of Local 1112. “For our members, they have to make some decisions now that they hoped they didn’t have to make. Many of them transferred to other plants and left their families behind hoping they’d return to Lordstown one day.”

Local 1112 now represents less than 20 workers at Mahoning County Jobs and Family Services and Infinite Synergy in Youngstown, Ohio.

“Obviously, we have a lot of decisions to make as far as the local union,” said O’Hara. “We’ll sit down internally and we’ll have discussions with people at the regional level to see where we go from here.”

The local has enough finances to make it into early next year, he said. The potential of Lordstown Motors buying the plant and GM building a battery cell maker are options given, “they’re saying they want their workers to be UAW,” said O’Hara.

But those are 18 to 24 months down the road, “so we can’t sustain ourselves financially that long. So I don’t know what that means for Local 1112.”

The bitter battle 

The strike against GM has been  prolonged and at times painful. At one point, a public exchange of words saw GM insinuating the UAW was moving too slowly in negotiations and not responding to company proposals. The UAW fired back that GM was not taking the union seriously.

After that, it took the heavyweights coming to the table to reignite progress toward a deal. GM CEO Mary Barra and UAW President Gary Jones met with negotiators just days before the two sides finally reached a tentative agreement.

Many UAW leaders and labor experts said that despite the prolonged and sometimes-contentious negotiations, the agreement is a big win for UAW-represented workers at 55 GM facilities in 10 states who had been on strike since 12:01 a.m. Sept. 16.

The deal provides 4% lump sum wage payments in years one and three and 3% base wage increases in alternating years. It gets rid of long-term temporary worker status and holds hourly workers’ share of health care costs to 3%, among other provisions.

It also keeps GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant running by adding an electric pickup and other electric trucks. GM will invest $3 billion in the plant, which also will assemble batteries, and bring in 2,225 new jobs when it’s at full volume.

Warren Tech Center will get a new vehicle program, $200 million investment and retention of approximately 75 jobs under the agreement. Lansing Delta and Spring Hill, Tennessee, assembly plants get a next generation midsize SUV assembly worth $1 billion and 5,000 jobs.

Strike fallout

The ratification vote comes at a crucial time. The strike has already cost GM nearly a half-billion dollars a week. Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing said it cost GM another $400 million for the entire next week that the union remained out conducting ratification meetings with ballots due by Oct. 25.

GM has had to temporarily shutter other North American plants. On Oct. 19, GM halted production of its new 2020 Chevrolet Blazer SUV at its Ramos Arizpe Vehicle Assembly in Mexico due to a parts shortage from the UAW nationwide strike.

GM’s decision to build the Blazer in Mexico instead of a U.S. plant was a sore point with the UAW, as is low-cost Mexican production in general. 

Also, GM’s production of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups at its Silao Assembly Plant in Mexico along with production of the previous generation pickups at GM’s Oshawa plant in Ontario, both went down during the strike because of a parts shortage. 

The Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was to be retooled this month to build the much-anticipated 2020 Stingray, but that will be delayed while it finishes orders for the 2019 model. 

Many of GM’s car dealers complained of a lack of parts to perform repairs in the service lanes. And, 100,000 related workers saw their income impacted because of the strike, economists said.

Likewise, UAW workers were getting by on $250 a week for almost a month until the union raised the strike wage to $275 a week on week Oct. 13. The cost to UAW workers is $14 million per day while they remain on strike and not working, Anderson Economic Group said.

The terms

Here are a few highlights of the new contract:

  • UAW-represented GM workers will get a bonus of $11,000 upon ratification of the deal. Temporary workers get $4,500. 
  • So-called in-progression workers hired after 2007 get a faster path to top pay. Under the previous contract, those workers started at $17 an hour, reaching $28/hour after eight years. Under the proposal, that is shortened to four years.
  • Temporary workers, who have been paid $15-19 an hour with inferior benefits to permanent autoworkers, get a path to a permanent role starting next year. Part-time workers get a path to regular status starting in 2021. These workers also get improved paid and unpaid time off. 
  • The union has full approval authority and the ability to monitor the number of temporary employees working in the plants. Furthermore, the company now must have approval of the union to supplement the workforce for straight time, overtime or weekend work in any plant covered by the UAW GM National Agreement. The company may use part-time temporary employees only with UAW approval.
  • GM will invest $7.7 billion in U.S. facilities to create or retain 9,000 jobs. 
  • Newer union workers with two weeks’ vacation a year will get to take one of those weeks at their choosing rather than having to take both paid vacation weeks during scheduled plant shutdowns.
  • The profit-sharing formula of $1,000 for workers for each $1 billion in North American pretax profit is unchanged but the $12,000 cap is removed.
  • There are assistance packages for workers at Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore transmission plants, including $75,000 payments for eligible production workers and $85,000 for skilled workers who retire.  There are also buyout options for those not eligible to retire.
  • Although joint activities focused on health and safety and other issues between the union and GM continue, the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources would be dissolved under a memorandum of understanding. The center has become embroiled in the UAW corruption scandal and several people connected to the running of the center stand accused of misusing funds. The Free Press had earlier reported on the likelihood of the closure.

More: UAW-GM deal calls for raises, $11K ratification bonus, Lordstown closure, pathway for temps

More: UAW got a good deal from GM, labor leaders, experts say

More: Fallout from UAW GM strike continues with Blazer build halted in Mexico

Follow Jamie L. LaReau on Twitter @jlareauan.

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Jane Fonda, Ted Danson arrested in DC for protesting climate change

Westlake Legal Group Jane-Fonda-ted-danson Jane Fonda, Ted Danson arrested in DC for protesting climate change Nate Day fox-news/person/jane-fonda fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 8236fa46-d9f0-5e84-b925-0da226cd7062

Actress Jane Fonda has been arrested again while protesting in Washington, D.C., this time with fellow actor Ted Danson.

The duo was marching to Capitol Hill as part of Fonda’s “Fire Drill Fridays” to protest climate change, inspired this week by demands to “protect and restore our oceans,” according to the campaign’s official Twitter account.

A video of Fonda’s arrest was shared via Twitter, featuring a cheering crowd and Fonda, 81, proudly holding her hands over her head.

JANE FONDA CLAIMED SHE’S BEEN A CLIMATE SCIENTIST FOR ‘DECADES’ SHORTLY BEFORE ARREST

“.@Janefonda was just arrested for the 3rd time calling on climate justice now. This week we are demanding the protection and restoration of our oceans #firedrillfriday” the tweet read.

Danson, 71, was also arrested, and an image of him with his hands zip-tied together was also shared.

The caption read: “.@TedDanson was just arrested for the first time. This is an inconvenient crisis so we must get uncomfortable and put our bodies on the line to demand action on climate and protection of our oceans. #firedrillfriday.”

CARRIE UNDERWOOD’S MOM JOINS HER ON STAGE AND RAPS LIKE A PRO: ‘NAILED IT!’

In a statement to E! News, Capitol Police said they “arrested 32 individuals for unlawfully demonstrating in the intersection of East Capitol and First Streets. All were charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding.”

This is the third consecutive Friday the “Grace and Frankie” star has been arrested in D.C., and according to her website, Fonda will lead demonstrations every Friday until the end of January.

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Last week, Fonda’s “Grace and Frankie” co-star Sam Waterston was also arrested.

Westlake Legal Group Jane-Fonda-ted-danson Jane Fonda, Ted Danson arrested in DC for protesting climate change Nate Day fox-news/person/jane-fonda fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 8236fa46-d9f0-5e84-b925-0da226cd7062   Westlake Legal Group Jane-Fonda-ted-danson Jane Fonda, Ted Danson arrested in DC for protesting climate change Nate Day fox-news/person/jane-fonda fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 8236fa46-d9f0-5e84-b925-0da226cd7062

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‘I’m the team’: Trump dismisses need for impeachment response team

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'I'm the team': Trump dismisses need for impeachment response team

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top ally of President Donald Trump, is introducing a resolution condemning the Democratic-controlled House’s impeachment inquiry. Democrats compared Republican attempts to enter the depositions to “political theater.”(Oct. 24) AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump dismissed the need for assembling a team to help in rebuffing Democrats’ impeachment inquiry despite multiple reports that allies and some at the White House want such a team. 

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn Friday, Trump boasted, “Here’s the thing. I don’t have teams, everyone’s talking about teams. I’m the team. I did nothing wrong.”

However, some allies have been discussing the necessity for the White House to assemble a team to respond to the inquiry as several officials have already testified thus far. Some have provided strong testimony against Trump.

According to multiple reports, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is seeking someone to put into a chief strategist role that would be solely focused on the Trump administration’s response to impeachment.

Some names have been reported to be under consideration, including Tony Sayegh, former top Treasury aide, and Pam Bondi, former Florida Attorney General.

More: Impeachment: House Judiciary Committee wins court order for grand jury evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report

The inquiry is investigating the president pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s 2020 Democratic rivals, and his son Hunter, while the United States withheld substantial military aid to the country.

During a press conference on Thursday to introduce a resolution condemning how House Democrats have been conducting the impeachment investigation, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he was under the impression the White House was working on assembling a team for messaging surrounding the inquiry.

“I talked to Chief of Staff (Mick) Mulvaney. I think they’re working on getting a messaging team together,” Graham said, pointing to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998, saying he “had a team that was organized, that had legal minds that could understand what was being said versus the legal proceedings in question, and they were on message every day.”

More: Trump Organization considers selling DC hotel at center of ethics complaints

“President Clinton defended himself, but he never stopped being president,” Graham added. “I think one of the reasons he survived is that the public may not have liked what the president had done but believed that he was still able to do his job, and, as he governed during impeachment, I think that was the single best thing he did.”

After Graham’s comment Thursday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox of the inquiry, “It’s like you’re fighting a ghost. You’re fighting against the air. So we’re doing the best we can. Honestly, messaging isn’t that hard.”

However, last week, the White House chief of staff was unable to nail down a consistent message on the matter.

Mulvaney appeared to acknowledge during a televised press conference that aid to Ukraine at the center of the House impeachment inquiry was withheld in part because of the president’s desire for the country to investigate potential corruption in U.S. domestic politics. Mulvaney then reversed his position later in the day, blaming the media for misconstruing his words. 

Trump’s comment squashing the need for a response team came during a passionate rant against the impeachment investigation, where he consistently reiterated that the phone call between Ukraine’s president and himself was “perfect”, and questioned how Democrats could impeach “one of the most successful presidents.”

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‘The beautiful thing about sports’: Nationals’ ‘Baby Shark’ craze comes to the World Series

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'The beautiful thing about sports': Nationals' 'Baby Shark' craze comes to the World Series

SportsPulse: This may be the most energetic World Series we’ve seen in a long time. For both teams, their exuberance on and off the field has been propelled by the joy often seen in Latin baseball culture. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — If you’ve watched a Washington Nationals home game this year, chances are you’ve heard it. 

If not, you may be confused during World Series games in the nation’s capital.

“Baby Shark” has taken over Nationals Park in 2019 and the team has embraced the undeniably-catchy children’s song as a part of its celebrations throughout the season.

The trend began with outfielder Gerardo Parra, who started using the tune as a walk-up song while mired in a slump earlier in the year, as a nod to his two-year-old daughter.

Players and fans alike immediately embraced the silliness.

The crowd in Washington does a synchronized shark chomp when Parra comes to the plate. Some fans come to the park dressed as sharks.

“It’s really cool. And what’s even cooler and weirder is to look up in the stands and see middle-age men do a Baby Shark,” Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said before the World Series. “But that’s the beautiful thing about sports – whether it’s baseball or any other sport.

“It gives people three or four hours to forget about everything else and just have fun. Root for a team, or do a Baby Shark at the field.”

When Nationals players get a base hit, their on-field celebrations mirror the song. A single gets a finger pitch for Baby Shark, a double calls for hand-clapping like a Mommy Shark and a triple gets the full chomp for Daddy Shark.

“It’s blown up pretty big. Everyone seems to be doing it,” Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin said before Game 3. “People are wearing shark outfits. It’s like Halloween out there. It’s great.”

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First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins

Construction on a new border wall in Texas where none previously existed has begun along the Rio Grande river, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to Fox News on Friday.

While 75 miles of wall has been already been built under the Trump administration, until now all of those structures replaced existing ones such as vehicle barriers or dilapidated fences, which were ineffective before being replaced, according to the agency.

The brand-new wall is under construction southeast of McAllen in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley sector, which sees the most illegal crossings of any border sector, with more than 325,000 people apprehended there through August this year, according to CBP.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ENTERS NEW PHASE FOR BORDER WALL, SETS AMBITIOUS TIMETABLE AFTER SECURING LAND

“Rio Grande Valley is by far our busiest sector, so getting this new wall system capability down there for [the agents] is truly a game-changer,” a CBP spokesman said. “Just last week, the agents on the frontlines told us the wall is something they need.”

The spokesman said the 75 miles already built to replace weaker structures also helped tighten security.

“People can walk through or across a vehicle barrier with drugs or other contraband, but can’t walk through an 18- to 30-foot wall with anti-climb features, sensors and cameras,” the spokesman said.

Westlake Legal Group IMG_0255-e1572034548770 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

Workers lay the foundation for new wall near the Rio Grande Valley river, an area with many crossings, just southeast of McAllen, Texas. (Courtesy of CBP)

The announcement comes as the Trump administration is making a renewed effort to show voters the U.S.-Mexico border wall remains a top priority.

Critics on the right have pushed back in recent months, saying border construction touted by the administration only represents replacement wall in areas that already had existing barriers and fencing.

Now, wall advocates are excited that the project is advancing and note that illegal crossings are falling dramatically from summer peaks, in part due to Mexico stepping up enforcement of its borders and in part thanks to renovated wall sections.

“They’re making progress,” Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told Fox News. “They desperately need more barriers down there because that’s one of the main places people are crossing.”

Customs and Border Patrol said that about 100 miles of wall are ultimately expected to go up in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

Westlake Legal Group AP19207825601598 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

A new section of the border wall with Mexico in El Centro, Calif. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The new work is part of additional planned construction: a CBP document showed that contracts have already been awarded for the construction of 79 miles of new wall in areas where no fences exist currently. A CBP document showed maps of where the new wall is likely to be built.

By the end of 2020, the agency aims to have completed 141 miles of brand-new wall, along with 273 miles of replacement wall, for a total of more than 400 miles of border barriers.

The funding for the project in Texas comes from congressional appropriations and is separate from construction funding authorized via an emergency order by President Trump. Border Protection estimated that each mile of wall costs about $17 million dollars.

Westlake Legal Group AP19239775593240 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

Three migrants who managed to evade the Mexican National Guard and cross the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory walked along a border wall set back from the geographical border, in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez, File)

There are advocacy groups that oppose new wall construction.

Some of the opponents do so on environmental grounds, worrying that walls block animals from crossing the border, and that the barriers could trap animals between the Rio Grande and the wall in the event of a flood.

Others said a wall supports an intolerant immigration system.

“We adamantly reject this move by the Republican House leadership to hand over more than a billion dollars in taxpayer money for a monument to intolerance,” said UnidosUS, a Latino nonprofit advocacy group.

But Border Protection and others said a wall is crucial for giving America control over its borders.

In the fiscal year 2019, more than 800,000 people have been illegally apprehended while crossing America’s southern border, CBP said.

Westlake Legal Group d6a53dc9-1 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

Vehicle barriers that have already been replaced with a 30-foot wall along many miles of the border (Courtesy CBP)

Supporters of tighter border controls cheered the construction as the latest in a string of good news about strengthening border security.

“The apprehension numbers have been going down since the peak in May,” Krikorian said. Illegal crossings hit new records this past summer, but by September had fallen below 2016 levels for that month, according to CBP.

“Mexico is doing a better job of stopping people,” Krikorian said, also noting that the Trump administration has been closing the “catch and release” loophole by requiring asylum applicants to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending.

Mexico agreed to an arrangement to allow the U.S. to send foreign nationals to Mexico to wait after Trump said he would impose tariffs. Mexico also dramatically increased its own border protection, sending nearly 15,000 troops to its northern border to apprehend migrants before they crossed.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Krikorian said that while he’d like for even more wall to have gone up, he understands that lawsuits and land use rights have slowed the progress.

Maxim Lott is executive producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott  

Westlake Legal Group IMG_0255-e1572034548770 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8   Westlake Legal Group IMG_0255-e1572034548770 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

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

They Know What You Watched Last Night

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163249344_0828d197-0f36-4692-8258-de24ac2ab2ad-facebookJumbo They Know What You Watched Last Night Walt Disney Company Television Sets and Media Devices Television Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc Roku Privacy Online Advertising Media Hulu.com Data-Mining and Database Marketing Advertising and Marketing

A spate of streaming services are on their way from major tech and entertainment companies, promising viewers a trove of binge-worthy new shows and movies.

There’s something for advertisers, too: your personal data.

Recent deals involving the media conglomerate AT&T, the streaming device seller Roku, the advertising giant Publicis and other companies have expanded the surveillance infrastructure that operates in the background of streaming services. While viewers focus on the action onscreen, tracking technology quietly sops up information about their habits and uses it to target them with more relevant, traceable ads.

It is a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers,” according to Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. Many streaming customers are unaware that the sitcom titles they prefer, the ads they do not skip, their email addresses and the serial numbers identifying the devices they use are being harvested and distributed. Others willingly opt in to, say, have a record of their recent cooking show binge, watched through Amazon Fire TV, transmitted to an advertiser that can then deliver a recipe book ad to their laptop or tablet.

But recent research suggests that even when viewers try to shield their information, it is sometimes tracked without their permission and shared with corporate giants like Facebook, Google and Netflix.

“It’s much harder now to grab people’s attention,” said Ross Benes, an analyst with eMarketer. “To reach through the clutter, you need a lot of data. But finding the balance is the trick — you shouldn’t have to read through 80,000 words of legalese when you sign up for a streaming service.”

In the coming months, new services from Apple, NBCUniversal, the Walt Disney Company and AT&T’s WarnerMedia will start streaming content on connected televisions and devices from Amazon, Google, Roku and more. On Tuesday, Verizon said it would offer a free year of Disney Plus to many of its wireless customers when the streaming service debuts on Nov. 12.

Streaming technology is a tantalizing opportunity for advertisers, giving them more specific knowledge of just who is watching — a change from what they knew about the audiences for traditional TV. And for the television networks venturing into streaming, the format is a draw to advertisers that have increasingly turned to Facebook and Google.

Hulu, a streaming service controlled by Disney, tells advertisers like Kroger and Lexus that it can help them target consumers based on age, sex, location, and “interests and real world actions — both on and off Hulu.” The service also says it can measure how an ad performed through partnerships with third-party companies to “count every viewer watching ads.”

Advertisers are expected this year to continue shifting more of their budgets away from network television, where ratings are down and ad prices are rising, to streaming platforms, bolstering their spending by 39 percent, to $3.8 billion, according to the ad-buying and media intelligence firm Magna. The Trade Desk, a platform for advertising buyers, said in August that spending on connected television advertising went up more than 250 percent from a year earlier.

On Roku, more than 3,200 channels — some focused on webcam footage, others dedicated to cat videos — support advertising, nearly a thousand more than were available a year earlier, according to data from Pixalate, an advertising fraud intelligence firm.

The data generated by such channels about the programming and ads that customers like to watch is funneled to advertisers by a growing ecosystem of data brokers and other middlemen. They talk up their ability to reach audiences “whenever and wherever they happen to be watching” and proclaim that “the days of blindly serving an unknown number of ads to the same audience are over.”

Roku, which draws more revenue from advertising and related business than from sales of its streaming players, said on Tuesday that it had spent $150 million to acquire Dataxu, a company that helps advertisers automate campaign placement online. Last week, AT&T’s advertising and analytics unit, Xandr, said it had bought Clypd, a platform that can send targeted ads to multiple devices in a single household. Publicis’ ability to collect consumer data helped it win a coveted contract this month to help Disney Plus with its marketing strategy.

Many streaming channels, including those marketed to children, do not clearly disclose that viewer patterns are being tracked and shared, privacy experts said. Connected television companies and tracking software developers such as Vizio and SambaTV have been accused in recent years of selling data from TV sets without the owners’ knowledge or consent; lawmakers have called for investigations of the practice.

Last month, a study from Princeton University and the University of Chicago found examples of some streaming channels on Roku and Amazon Fire TV contacting more than 60 separate trackers, including some owned by Google and Facebook.

When researchers turned on Roku’s “limit ad tracking” function — which is meant to keep more personal data out of the hands of advertisers — they found that Roku sent information to more trackers than when the function was turned off.

Similarly, clicking on the option to “disable interest ads” on the Amazon Fire TV Stick made little difference in the number of device serial numbers and other identifiers that were sent to trackers.

A separate study from Northeastern University and Imperial College London last month reached a similar conclusion: Roku and Amazon Fire TV, along with smart TVs from manufacturers like LG and Samsung, were sharing viewer data with Netflix and other advertisers, even when the devices were not configured with Netflix accounts.

The streaming universe is turning into “a breeding ground for fraudsters and others who might abuse the system,” said Jalal Nasir, the chief executive of Pixalate.

Data on viewers who stream shows changes hands often and is not stored or authenticated in a consistent way, he said. Advertisers, hoping for a more comprehensive picture of viewers, while not fully trusting the snapshots provided, are asking for even more data from streaming companies, he said.

“There’s a huge, huge disconnect, because the data collection standards are very loosey-goosey,” Mr. Nasir said. “There’s so much money involved, so many players in the industry, but also a lack of standardization and education for regulators, consumers and advertisers.”

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Another death at Penn State: Chi Phi fraternity suspended after teen dies off campus

For the second time in two years, a young man has died at Pennsylvania State University at a house with fraternity members.

John “Jack” Schoenig, 17, died Saturday at a house where Chi Phi fraternity members are believed to live, though it was not the official fraternity house, according to the university. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused his death. A toxicology report, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers, is expected within six weeks.  

Regardless, the university suspended the fraternity, which means, among other things, it cannot participate in social activities on campus.

Both the university and the fraternity have distanced themselves from the teenager’s death. 

It’s not just Penn State:Young men have died in fraternities every year for 2 decades, but frats are slow to change

The university made clear in its statement that Schoenig was not a student and said he died at an “off-campus house.” 

“Penn State offers deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this young man,” the statement said.

Chi Phi offered “prayers” to the family, while distancing itself from Schoenig’s death in a statement.

“While the incident at an off-campus residence was not part of fraternity activities we will monitor the investigation by the university and local officials,” the statement read. 

It’s common for fraternities to have unofficial houses like the one Chi Phi members allegedly had at Penn State. College students often acquire the housing when universities start to monitor fratsmore closely or when they insist on removing alcohol from the houses, said Gentry McCreary, a consultant to universities on Greek life. Fraternity members or their friends will live in the satellite homes and may host parties or events there, away from campus and scrutiny.

Secret frats:What to look out for during college fraternity rush

More oversight of frats and restrictions on alcohol at official houses do help to reduce harm, but they come with the potential side effect of making it harder to police bad actors, McCreary said.

“It’s easier for them to do whatever they want to do,” said Douglas Fierberg, an attorney who often represents families whose children have died in connection to fraternities. Regardless, Fierberg said fraternities have been found liable for actions that occur in these types of houses.

Universities, McCreary said, should work with local police to ensure satellite houses are being monitored.

Penn State said it couldn’t control whether frat members were living together off-campus. “Outside of their first year, all students, whether in a fraternity or not, can select housemates at their own discretion. The University does not control who can live together or where they live in off-campus locations,” said Wyatt DuBois, a spokesperson for the university.

Fraternities have faced greater public scrutiny in recent years. One factor: At least one young man has died in connection to fraternity hazing every year for the past two decades.

Colleges also have less patience for fraternities that violate the institution’s rules and are quicker to suspend bad actors. Ohio University recently suspended all fraternities on campus following reports of hazing. 

Should universities be blamed for deaths? Lawsuit says yes

Penn State itself adopted a rigorous set of rules meant to police the bad behavior of fraternities following Timothy Piazza’s high-profile death in 2017. Piazza died after a Beta Theta Pi hazing ritual that had him consume a “life-threatening” amount of alcohol. Among other injuries, he had fallen down a flight of stairs, fractured his skull and lacerated his spleen. 

Falling, ignored by frat members:The shocking final hours of Penn State pledge Timothy Piazza’s life

Westlake Legal Group  Another death at Penn State: Chi Phi fraternity suspended after teen dies off campus

The new rules after his death included stricter punishments for fraternities found to be hazing their members and the creation of a “report card” meant to inform parents about which organizations were in the university’s good graces. First-year students were also barred from rushing — an often ritualistic process of joining a fraternity — until their spring semester.

Chi Phi did not have any violations on the most recent report card, and the group’s members appeared to have a higher grade point average than the campus average. 

Has anything changed?:15 years ago, she fell asleep after drinking at a frat — and died

Education coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation does not provide editorial input.

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First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins

Construction on a new border wall in Texas where none previously existed has begun along the Rio Grande river, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to Fox News on Friday.

While 75 miles of wall has been already been built under the Trump administration, until now all of those structures replaced existing ones such as vehicle barriers or dilapidated fences, which were ineffective before being replaced, according to the agency.

The brand-new wall is under construction southeast of McAllen in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley sector, which sees the most illegal crossings of any border sector, with more than 325,000 people apprehended there through August this year, according to CBP.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ENTERS NEW PHASE FOR BORDER WALL, SETS AMBITIOUS TIMETABLE AFTER SECURING LAND

“Rio Grande Valley is by far our busiest sector, so getting this new wall system capability down there for [the agents] is truly a game-changer,” a CBP spokesman said. “Just last week, the agents on the frontlines told us the wall is something they need.”

The spokesman said the 75 miles already built to replace weaker structures also helped tighten security.

“People can walk through or across a vehicle barrier with drugs or other contraband, but can’t walk through an 18- to 30-foot wall with anti-climb features, sensors and cameras,” the spokesman said.

Westlake Legal Group IMG_0255-e1572034548770 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

Workers lay the foundation for new wall near the Rio Grande Valley river, an area with many crossings, just southeast of McAllen, Texas. (Courtesy of CBP)

The announcement comes as the Trump administration is making a renewed effort to show voters the U.S.-Mexico border wall remains a top priority.

Critics on the right have pushed back in recent months, saying border construction touted by the administration only represents replacement wall in areas that already had existing barriers and fencing.

Now, wall advocates are excited that the project is advancing and note that illegal crossings are falling dramatically from summer peaks, in part due to Mexico stepping up enforcement of its borders and in part thanks to renovated wall sections.

“They’re making progress,” Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told Fox News. “They desperately need more barriers down there because that’s one of the main places people are crossing.”

Customs and Border Patrol said that about 100 miles of wall are ultimately expected to go up in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

Westlake Legal Group AP19207825601598 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

A new section of the border wall with Mexico in El Centro, Calif. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The new work is part of additional planned construction: a CBP document showed that contracts have already been awarded for the construction of 79 miles of new wall in areas where no fences exist currently. A CBP document showed maps of where the new wall is likely to be built.

By the end of 2020, the agency aims to have completed 141 miles of brand-new wall, along with 273 miles of replacement wall, for a total of more than 400 miles of border barriers.

The funding for the project in Texas comes from congressional appropriations and is separate from construction funding authorized via an emergency order by President Trump. Border Protection estimated that each mile of wall costs about $17 million dollars.

Westlake Legal Group AP19239775593240 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

Three migrants who managed to evade the Mexican National Guard and cross the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory walked along a border wall set back from the geographical border, in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez, File)

There are advocacy groups that oppose new wall construction.

Some of the opponents do so on environmental grounds, worrying that walls block animals from crossing the border, and that the barriers could trap animals between the Rio Grande and the wall in the event of a flood.

Others said a wall supports an intolerant immigration system.

“We adamantly reject this move by the Republican House leadership to hand over more than a billion dollars in taxpayer money for a monument to intolerance,” said UnidosUS, a Latino nonprofit advocacy group.

But Border Protection and others said a wall is crucial for giving America control over its borders.

In the fiscal year 2019, more than 800,000 people have been illegally apprehended while crossing America’s southern border, CBP said.

Westlake Legal Group d6a53dc9-1 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

Vehicle barriers that have already been replaced with a 30-foot wall along many miles of the border (Courtesy CBP)

Supporters of tighter border controls cheered the construction as the latest in a string of good news about strengthening border security.

“The apprehension numbers have been going down since the peak in May,” Krikorian said. Illegal crossings hit new records this past summer, but by September had fallen below 2016 levels for that month, according to CBP.

“Mexico is doing a better job of stopping people,” Krikorian said, also noting that the Trump administration has been closing the “catch and release” loophole by requiring asylum applicants to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending.

Mexico agreed to an arrangement to allow the U.S. to send foreign nationals to Mexico to wait after Trump said he would impose tariffs. Mexico also dramatically increased its own border protection, sending nearly 15,000 troops to its northern border to apprehend migrants before they crossed.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Krikorian said that while he’d like for even more wall to have gone up, he understands that lawsuits and land use rights have slowed the progress.

Maxim Lott is executive producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott  

Westlake Legal Group IMG_0255-e1572034548770 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8   Westlake Legal Group IMG_0255-e1572034548770 First construction of brand-new border wall in Texas begins Maxim Lott fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/topic/border-wall fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 13ae985c-d0be-5d7b-96ee-3195c564ced8

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