web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 97)

‘Double whammy’: House approves sweeping Turkey sanctions bill, recognizes Armenian genocide

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'Double whammy': House approves sweeping Turkey sanctions bill, recognizes Armenian genocide

President Trump said the United States will lift sanctions on Turkey after the country said it will make its ceasefire in Syria “permanent.” USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – In a remarkable rebuke of a NATO ally, the House on Tuesday approved a biting sanctions bill that could cripple Turkey’s economy and would punish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally by requiring an assessment of his net worth amid questions inside Turkey about his finances.

Lawmakers also passed a deeply contentious measure to commemorate the Armenian genocide, a historic move that will almost certainly exacerbate U.S.-Turkey tensions. The genocide measure officially recognizes the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.

For years, Turkey’s government had successfully lobbied to kill such congressional resolutions, pressuring presidents and lawmakers alike. The Turks have arguing the Armenians who died during that era were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. On Tuesday, it passed by an overwhelming vote of 405-to-11, with three lawmakers voting “present.” 

The genocide and sanctions measures represent “a double whammy” for Turkey, said Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington foreign policy institute.

Lawmakers in both parties barreled ahead with the two measures to make Erdogan pay for Turkey’s assault on U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria even though the fighting has now mostly stopped. Members of Congress say Erdogan’s attack unleashed violence and chaos that continues to reverberate across the region. 

“America is holding accountable top Turkish officials responsible for human rights abuses, including attacking our Kurdish partners,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We’re penalizing Turkish financial institutions who perpetuate President Erdogan’s corruption and abuses.” 

Pelosi, D-Calif., fast-tracked the sanctions legislation, which goes well beyond President Donald Trump’s temporary sanctions on Turkey. Although it passed the House by a vote of 403-to-16, its fate in the Senate is unclear. 

Among other things, the legislation would:

• Ban most U.S. arms sales to Turkey and sanction other countries’ military transactions.

• Sanctions senior Turkish officials involved in the Syria attack

• Blacklist a state-owned bank that is central to Turkey’s economy. 

• Require the State Department to provide a detailed account of Erdogan’s net worth and income – along with that of his family members. 

“The carnage that we have seen over the past week against our Kurdish partners and innocent civilians has been unbearable. There must be consequences,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in unveiling the sanctions bill. He and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., are the chief sponsors. 

Erdogan’s press office in Ankara did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump imposed limited sanctions on Turkey on Oct. 14, about five days after Erdogan ordered the military assault on Syrian Kurdish forces, known as the SDF. The president lifted those sanctions nine days later after Turkey agreed to a cease-fire. 

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

“The president’s sanctions were little pinpricks,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who has sponsored a similar Turkey sanctions bill in the Senate, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

When he lifted the sanctions on Oct. 23, Trump said his policy had been a big success.

“By getting that cease-fire to stick, we’ve done something that’s very, very special,” he said. “We have avoided another costly military intervention that could’ve led to disastrous, far-reaching consequences.”

But Van Hollen and others said it’s not clear what influence, if any, Trump’s sanctions had on Turkey.

The House and Senate bills, by contrast, would almost certainly rock Turkey’s already fragile economy. And the provisions targeting Erdogan’s wealth are particularly provocative, experts say.

Erdogan: From ‘broke’ to ‘well-off’

Both the House and Senate bills would require the State Department, along with U.S. Treasury and intelligence officials, to submit a report to Congress detailing the Erdogan family’s assets, investments, business interests, and income.

“There is broad bipartisan support for getting more information about the sources of Erdogan’s wealth,” Engel said in a statement to USA TODAY. “As Erdogan continues to make policy decisions that destabilize the region and threaten international security, we need to know the full picture of his financial interests.”

The report would have to include financial information about the Turkish president’s spouse, children, parents and siblings – and Erdogan would see it as a slap in the face, said Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish Parliament who is now a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a hawkish Washington think tank. 

“Erdogan was known to be broke when he entered politics,” Erdemir said. “Now he is a well-off man.” But there has been little public accounting for that transformation. 

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

In 2017, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party said he had documents showing that members of Erdogan’s family, with the help of associates, had transferred at least $15 million to an offshore company in 2011 and 2012. As Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the opposition leader, began addressing parliament regarding the alleged offshore accounts, the state-controlled broadcaster cut the transmission, according to a Voice of America account. Senior members of Erdogan’s party denounced Kilicdaroglu’s remarks as false.

Also in 2017, an investigative news outlet focused on the Black Sea region reported that Erdogan’s family owned at least three offshore companies in the Isle of Man.

“Since around 2008, the Erdogan family has operated a network of companies that stretches from Malta to Turkey and ends up in the Isle of Man,” the theblacksea.eu reported in a November 2017 story. “Together, they act as an opaque offshore network designed to obscure the family’s ownership” of a $25 million oil and chemicals tanker called the Agdash, the outlet said.

Erdogan has denied involvement in the activities and blasted the allegations from Turkey’s opposition party as “lies.”

If Erdogan and his family’s finances were to be exposed, “he would see this as a major threat,” Erdemir said. “In Turkey, he has pretty much silenced all the media, and no one would dare to do such an expose. … But if it’s coming from Congress, he would perceive this as very damaging.”

Van Hollen and others say the public – in the U.S. and in Turkey – has a right to know if Erdogan and his family have foreign investments that might be swaying his official actions, most notably Turkey’s increasingly friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“The goal is to get the facts and find out where Erdogan’s allegiances are, including his financial dealings,” Van Hollen said. 

Targeting a state-owned bank

The House and Senate bills would also sanction a powerful state-owned bank that is enmeshed in a U.S. money laundering and fraud investigation.

Last week, federal prosecutors in New York charged Halkbank with evading U.S. sanctions on Iran by moving billions of dollars in Iranian oil and gas proceeds back to Tehran and disguising some of the transactions as involving food, medicine and other humanitarian aid.

“High-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey participated in these scheme,” the six-count indictment alleges. “Some officials received bribes worth tens of millions of dollars” to promote the scheme and shield it from the U.S. scrutiny. 

Halkbank is the second-largest state-owned bank in Turkey, and Erdogan personally lobbied Trump to intervene in the case, according to reports last week from Bloomberg and the New York Times. Bloomberg reported that Trump had tasked his attorney general and Treasury secretary to deal with Erdogan’s repeated pleas to avoid the charges.

If Congress sanctions Halkbank, “that’s a big deal,” said Aliriza. He and others said it would link Turkey’s incursion into Syria to the U.S. criminal case and would deal a heavy blow to the Turkish economy. 

The House bill is likely to pass with bipartisan support, as lawmakers in both parties clamor for a more forceful U.S. response to Turkey’s actions. 

Critics say Trump’s Oct. 6 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the Turkey-Syria border region gave Erdogan the green light to attack the Kurds, who have been America’s chief ally in the fight against Islamic State terrorists. Trump administration officials have argued that the president’s decision simply removed those troops from harm’s way and the U.S. never promised the Kurds they would protect them against a Turkish military attack. 

“Congress must speak out and show decisive action to hold accountable those who created this catastrophe: President Erdogan, who is directing this slaughter, and President Trump, who opened the door to the Turkish incursion and betrayed our Kurdish partners,” said Engel, the bill’s lead sponsor and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.

Bill could face a major hurdle in the Senate

“We need to think extremely carefully before” imposing sanctions on a NATO ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week. He said it’s not clear if such economic penalties would weaken Erdogan inside Turkey or “rally the country to cause.” He said the effect of such a bill also could hurt American companies and U.S. allies whose economies are closely intertwined with Turkey’s.

Van Hollen said he hopes the House’s actions will put pressure on McConnell to reconsider that position.

“The Senate needs to stop twiddling its thumbs and take action,” he said.

‘Clear the US has been sidelined’: Turkey and Russia agree to joint patrols in Syria

Trump on ISIS leader: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead after U.S.-led raid in Syria

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/10/29/syria-lawmakers-target-turkish-president-erdogan-sanctions-bill/2473819001/

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

House approves resolution recognizing Armenian genocide in snub to Turkey

Westlake Legal Group HOUSE House approves resolution recognizing Armenian genocide in snub to Turkey fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 882e314f-c644-51da-be49-53fb1f54410f

House Democrats on Tuesday approved a controversial resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide, a move intended to anger Turkey at a time of strained relations with the U.S.

Speaking on the House floor in support of H.Res.296, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said the resolution “is an important measure to set the record straight on the atrocities suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.”

“We know what happened in this dark period of history. Between 1915 and 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were murdered. This was a genocide —and it’s important that we call this crime what it was.”

Turkey has long disputed the term “genocide” to describe what happened, calling the death toll inflated and considering those killed victims of war.

Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said nations accusing his country of committing genocide had their own “bloody past.”

Resolutions by the U.S. to recognize the Armenian genocide have been introduced multiple times in recent decades but have never reached the floor. Such instances occurred separately under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

Opponents of a resolution say formally recognizing the Armenian genocide risks angering Turkey, whose relationship is crucial to stability in the region. But such apprehensiveness has waned with Turkey’s invasion of northeast Syria earlier this month following President Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.

“I think some of us are a little bit annoyed with Turkey, and we want them to know how much annoyed we are,” Engel told NPR last week.

ESPER DEFENDS U.S. WITHDRAWAL FROM NORTHERN SYRIA AS TRUMP DECRIES ‘ENDLESS WARS,’ TOUTS SANCTIONS ON TURKEY

H.Res.296 is a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and GOP Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Peter King of New York.

It passed with 226 yeas from Democrats, 178 from Republicans, and one from an Independent. In all, 11 Republicans voted nay. Two Democrats and one Republican voted present.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

H.R. 4695, a separate bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey and condemn its Syria incursion passed 403-16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group HOUSE House approves resolution recognizing Armenian genocide in snub to Turkey fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 882e314f-c644-51da-be49-53fb1f54410f   Westlake Legal Group HOUSE House approves resolution recognizing Armenian genocide in snub to Turkey fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 882e314f-c644-51da-be49-53fb1f54410f

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

Beto O’Rourke suggests al-Baghdadi death happened ‘despite’ Trump, ‘not because of him’

Westlake Legal Group trump-beto Beto O'Rourke suggests al-Baghdadi death happened 'despite' Trump, 'not because of him' Sam Dorman fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/beto-orourke fox news fnc/media fnc e3e84789-34ac-57eb-8329-629e8cd934e0 article

Beto O’Rourke, former Texas congressman and current Democratic presidential candidate, is advancing the notion that President Trump might have hindered, not helped, the U.S.’s ability to take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“Someone made the case, and it’s very compelling to me, that this raid was successful in spite of or despite the president, not because of him,” O’Rourke said on “The Daily Show” on Monday.

O’Rourke suggested that it was a “miracle” the U.S. was able to kill Al-Baghdadi after the president recently pulled U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria. Critics say that decision left Kurdish occupants, who’ve assisted the U.S. in containing ISIS in the region, vulnerable to an invasion from Turkey.

“To turn his back on those Kurdish fighters whose intelligence and help located al-Baghdadi in the first place and made sure that we were successful,” O’Rourke said.

ISIS SPOKESMAN ABU HASSAN AL-MUHAJIR, POTENTIAL AL-BAGHDADI SUCCESSOR, ALSO KILLED IN SYRIA, OFFICIAL SAYS

“His precipitous withdrawal that created a void that Turkey and Russia, Iran and I.S.I.S. and Assad have all come in to — it is really a miracle that we were able to do this but it is really owing to our allies, our friends, our partners on the ground and those great service members who put their lives on the line to ensure that there is justice for this country.”

O’Rourke was echoing criticism of Trump’s decision — namely, that he abandoned Kurdish allies and allowed Turkey’s subsequent incursion into Syria.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In a statement from the White House, Trump thanked Kurdish allies but also indicated his administration shared credit for the attack.

“Baghdadi has been on the run for many years, long before I took office. At my direction, as commander-in-chief, the United States obliterated his ‘caliphate’ in March of this year. Today’s events are another reminder that we will continue to pursue the remaining ISIS terrorists to their brutal end,” he said.

Westlake Legal Group trump-beto Beto O'Rourke suggests al-Baghdadi death happened 'despite' Trump, 'not because of him' Sam Dorman fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/beto-orourke fox news fnc/media fnc e3e84789-34ac-57eb-8329-629e8cd934e0 article   Westlake Legal Group trump-beto Beto O'Rourke suggests al-Baghdadi death happened 'despite' Trump, 'not because of him' Sam Dorman fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/beto-orourke fox news fnc/media fnc e3e84789-34ac-57eb-8329-629e8cd934e0 article

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

Can PG&E Survive the California Wildfires?

Westlake Legal Group 28utility-facebookJumbo Can PG&E Survive the California Wildfires? Wildfires Stocks and Bonds Power Failures and Blackouts Pacific Gas and Electric Co Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Energy and Power Berkshire Hathaway Inc Bankruptcies

California’s Pacific Gas & Electric problem isn’t going away.

The giant utility has been in bankruptcy for months, and it is not clear who will end up controlling it. This uncertainty has extended into the wildfire season, exposing not just the shortcomings in PG&E’s fire-prevention efforts but also the threat that fire liabilities still pose to the company’s viability.

No surprise, then, that state officials are getting restless and looking for bolder ways forward.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared that his office would “love” to see Warren E. Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, make a bid for PG&E. And Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, favors a sweeping plan that would put PG&E in its customers’ hands.

But any idea must go through the federal bankruptcy court where two camps of investors — one aligned with wildfire victims seeking damages from PG&E, and another with management — have submitted plans to reorganize the company. PG&E, facing an estimated $30 billion or more in liabilities, mainly from fires in 2017 and 2018, sought bankruptcy protection in January. Its stock soared in the following months. On Wall Street and beyond, there was hope that the reorganization would stabilize PG&E, in tandem with a new state fund intended to keep fire liabilities from overwhelming utilities.

But the company’s shares plunged in recent weeks and even its bond prices weakened, suggesting that investors feared that plans to fix PG&E had fallen short.

In theory, the multibillion-dollar state wildfire fund — being set up to help utilities bear the cost of this year’s fires and those in the future — should be an effective backstop. But there are snags. To gain access, PG&E must emerge from bankruptcy by the middle of next year and, even if it does that, it stands to recoup only 40 percent of eligible damage claims for fires that take place while it is in bankruptcy. (Once it is out of bankruptcy and has satisfied other conditions, it will qualify for full coverage from the fund, which would be financed by bonds and company contributions.) Because PG&E’s equipment is suspected of having caused some of the recent fires, the company may end up facing another large bill for damages.

PG&E has been turning off power across vast parts of its service area during high winds, because fallen power lines are a major cause of wildfires. The blackouts have drawn widespread criticism. But if PG&E, fearful of the backlash, limits the scope of its power cuts, there could be more fires.

“We’re coordinating with federal, state and local partners to minimize risks stemming from the shut-offs until the extreme weather event has subsided,” Jeff Smith, a PG&E spokesman, said by email. “For the time being, this is not a political issue. It’s a safety issue, and we’re committed to doing what is necessary to keep our customers safe.”

But investors, needed to supply capital, will remain sensitive to the political pressures on PG&E, said Michael Wara, director of the climate and energy policy program at Stanford University. They may fear that PG&E won’t shut off enough lines, he said, and that “the future will be one where you use up the wildfire fund and you’re back where you were, maybe even in the not-too-distant future.”

The competing plans for reorganizing PG&E — each put forward by groups dominated by hedge funds — envision putting new money into the company, much of it to pay off liabilities related to fires before the bankruptcy.

But the funds may end up rethinking their commitments. The plans include language allowing the investment offers to be changed or withdrawn if new fires attributed to PG&E have caused the destruction of 500 structures or more before the end of the year.

The investors backing PG&E’s management own large amounts of the company’s stock and, in theory, will have suffered the biggest losses as the market value of the company has plunged to $2.5 billion, from $12.4 billion six months ago. (The shares jumped on Tuesday after the bankruptcy judge ordered lawyers for the wildfire victims to enter into mediation with PG&E, and appointed a mediator, a move that may help move the proceedings along.)

Berkshire owns several large energy companies and can raise large amounts of capital quickly, which is why some have seen it as a prospective bidder for PG&E.

“We would love to see that interest materialize, and in a more proactive, public effort,” Mr. Newsom said in an interview with Bloomberg on Saturday. “That would be encouraging to see. They are one of the few that are in a position to make a significant run at this.”

Nathan Click, a spokesman for Mr. Newsom, said the governor made the remarks as part of his desire to see many different parties submit plans for what to do with PG&E. Berkshire didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Analysts are skeptical that Mr. Buffett would buy PG&E, however. While he has invested in companies under stress, they said, his objective has often been to get the recipient through a rough patch without exposing Berkshire to hard-to-estimate losses, as an investment in PG&E, with its wildfire risk, might. “In general, there is not a strong appetite to buy turnaround stories at Berkshire,” said Meyer Shields, an analyst who covers Berkshire for KBW.

There are other hurdles. Berkshire would need to get approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has stringent standards for market power. Mr. Buffett’s company has large holdings throughout the West, from utilities in Nevada, Utah and elsewhere, as well as gas pipelines, coal operations and power plants that sell directly to the energy markets.

San Francisco has offered to pay $2.5 billion for PG&E’s grid in the city, a bid PG&E rejected. San Francisco officials had said owning the operations would improve local accountability. But critics of the move said such purchases could leave the remaining PG&E operations in less populated areas without the wherewithal to bear the costs of wildfires.

“If you start carving PG&E up, the entity left behind in the rural parts of the Bay Area will be an incredibly risky business and require a huge taxpayer subsidy,” said Jared Ellias, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

Under the proposal by Mr. Liccardo, the San Jose mayor, PG&E would not be broken up. A new company, in effect owned by PG&E’s customers, would buy PG&E out of bankruptcy and run it much like a cooperative, meaning it would not seek to maximize profits and it would not make payouts to stock investors. Also, architects of the plan say such an operation would not be subject to federal taxes. In theory, then, money would be freed up to invest in PG&E’s operations.

“Transforming PG&E into a customer-owned utility ensures the company’s primary focus will lie in the safety and reliability of its operations,” Mr. Liccardo said in an interview, “not in satisfying the short-term, financial needs of its shareholders or its executives.” The plan envisions the entity gaining access to the wildfire fund, but that might require legislative action.

Cooperatives in California get to set their own rates. As a result, critics of the plan say the entity would have more leeway to raise rates than PG&E, which must gain the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission to do so.

But Dan Richard, part of a team advising Mr. Liccardo on the plan, contends that similar entities in California have resisted abusing that authority. “There would be both political and market forces that would limit any prospect of runaway rate increases,” he said.

Lauren Hepler contributed reporting.

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

German mourners accidentally served hash cake at funeral

Westlake Legal Group iStock-cake German mourners accidentally served hash cake at funeral Louis Casiano fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox news fnc/world fnc article a314a996-4414-5893-bf37-4ff32563769d

Mourners at a funeral in Germany got an involuntary high when they were accidentally served hash cake, police said Tuesday.

The funeral party went to a restaurant after the burial in Wiethagen for coffee and cake, a German tradition. After eating the cake, 13 people reported experiencing nausea and dizziness and needed medical treatment.

BAKER CONFUSES WOMAN’S ‘MOANA’ BIRTHDAY CAKE REQUEST FOR ‘MARIJUANA’

The Rostock police said the person in charge of the cakes asker her 18-year-old daughter to bake them.

The mother mistakingly gave the wrong cake to the mourners. She instead took the hash cake, which was made for a separate occasion.

The teen is under investigation, the police said.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Police said the incident happened in August but was not made public out of respect for the mourners.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group iStock-cake German mourners accidentally served hash cake at funeral Louis Casiano fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox news fnc/world fnc article a314a996-4414-5893-bf37-4ff32563769d   Westlake Legal Group iStock-cake German mourners accidentally served hash cake at funeral Louis Casiano fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox news fnc/world fnc article a314a996-4414-5893-bf37-4ff32563769d

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

Megathread: House Released Resolution to Formalize Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group fXmPdSIa-NrHQXHZ5ULofT5c-ISlecgYgUJZpoo1okg Megathread: House Released Resolution to Formalize Impeachment Inquiry r/politics

House Democrats released on Tuesday text of the resolution that will detail their procedures as they move forward with the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The full House is expected to vote Thursday on the resolution after the House Rules Committee debates and marks it up on Wednesday.


Submissions that may interest you

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

Senators Hammer Boeing CEO For Crashes: I’d Walk Before Getting On A 737 Max

Westlake Legal Group 5db874a4210000aa3634b60d Senators Hammer Boeing CEO For Crashes: I’d Walk Before Getting On A 737 Max

Exactly one year after a Lion Air flight lifted off from Jakarta, Indonesia, and plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people, lawmakers on Capitol Hill grilled Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on the failures of his company’s best-selling plane, the 737 Max.

In a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Muilenburg offered an apology to the families of the victims of two deadly crashes, including the 157 people who were aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed in March.

“On behalf of myself and the Boeing Company, we are sorry, deeply and truly sorry,” Muilenburg said. “As a husband and father myself, I am heartbroken by your losses.”

The mea culpa did little to lessen senators’ scrutiny of the company, as they went on to question Muilenburg for nearly three hours over safety certifications and whether there was sufficient Federal Aviation Administration oversight of pilot training and the Max, which has been grounded worldwide.

Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) pointed to recently unveiled emails and instant messages between Boeing and the FAA. In one exchange, Mark Forkner, a former chief technical pilot at Boeing, boasted that he was “jedi-mind tricking regulators.” 

“Can you see that this raises much concern about the level of coziness between Boeing personnel and FAA regulators?” Wicker asked.

Muilenburg, who claimed to have only seen the messages within the past couple of weeks, said that he “understands the concern” and that the sentiments of the remarks run “counter to our values.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who called the CEO’s testimony “quite dismaying,” read through a 2016 text exchange between Forkner and Patrick Gustavsson, another test pilot, in which Forkner said the Max’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, known as MCAS, was “running rampant.”

MCAS is a stabilization feature that was designed to force down the nose of the aircraft if its angle got too steep and thereby prevent the plane from stalling. It has been blamed as a factor in both crashes. Investigators have found that the system was triggered by faulty sensor data that erroneously indicated the planes were at risk of stalling.

But MCAS was not mentioned in the Max’s flight manuals. The decision to leave out the information was made just months after Forkner and Gustavsson’s text correspondence, which was given to the Justice Department in February.

Cruz slammed Muilenburg’s claim that he had only seen the conversation this month, asking “how in the hell did nobody bring this to your attention” earlier this year. 

Muilenburg said that while he was “made aware of the existence of this kind of document,” he “counted on my counsel to handle that appropriately.”

“You’re the CEO. The buck stops with you,” Cruz shot back. “How did your team not put it in front of you, run in with their hair on fire saying, ‘We’ve got a real problem here’?” he added.

Muilenburg repeated that he “didn’t see the details of this exchange until recently” and that he wasn’t sure what Forkner meant in those texts, speculating that the pilot may have been speaking in reference to a simulation but noting that he couldn’t be certain.

“I would walk before I was to get on the 737 Max,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) later said. “I would walk. There’s no way.”

Muilenburg is set to appear before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday.

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

Megathread: House Released Resolution to Formalize Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group fXmPdSIa-NrHQXHZ5ULofT5c-ISlecgYgUJZpoo1okg Megathread: House Released Resolution to Formalize Impeachment Inquiry r/politics

House Democrats released on Tuesday text of the resolution that will detail their procedures as they move forward with the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The full House is expected to vote Thursday on the resolution after the House Rules Committee debates and marks it up on Wednesday.


Submissions that may interest you

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

Australia Accuses Google Of Misleading Consumers Over Location Data

Westlake Legal Group ap_19302335636974_wide-20b3f20d15ad3c6c2d88cf37be9adcca664fdc98-s1100-c15 Australia Accuses Google Of Misleading Consumers Over Location Data

Google is being sued by the Australian consumer watchdog agency, which accuses the tech giant of breaking a consumer protection law. Alastair Grant/AP hide caption

toggle caption

Alastair Grant/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Australia Accuses Google Of Misleading Consumers Over Location Data

Google is being sued by the Australian consumer watchdog agency, which accuses the tech giant of breaking a consumer protection law.

Alastair Grant/AP

The Australian consumer watchdog accused Google on Tuesday of lying to customers about personal location data the company collects through its Android mobile operating system. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking the tech giant to court, seeking penalties and the establishment of a compliance program.

Court documents allege that from January 2017 until late 2018, Google led consumers to incorrectly believe that turning off the setting “Location History” would prevent data from being collected.

The commission said that another setting, “Web & App Activity,” also had to be disabled for data collection to be turned off. Officials said that Google was purposefully “staying silent” about the secondary setting.

Regulators added that Google failed to tell users what the company used the collected location data for.

“We consider that because of Google’s failure to disclose this use of data, consumers were and still are deprived of the opportunity to make an informed choice about whether to share their personal location data with Google,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

The suit alleges that Google used personal data to infer demographic information and supply advertising services to third parties, among other purposes.

A Google spokesperson said that the company is reviewing the allegations and will cooperate with the ACCC, but it intends to defend itself.

Earlier this year, the ACCC released a report that recommended that legislation pass sweeping consumer protection reforms to address the dominance of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook.

“Action on consumer law and privacy issues, as well as on competition law and policy, will all be vital in dealing with the problems associated with digital platforms’ market power and the accumulation of consumers’ data,” Sims said earlier this year.

The Australian suit is the latest challenge regarding privacy that Google has faced from government entities. In September, the European Court of Justice ruled that Google must agree to European residents’ requests to be “forgotten” online.

And in France, the data protection authority fined Google 50 million euros (about $55 million) in January, for “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization.”

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.

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

Schumer ‘Increasingly Worried’ Trump Will Shut Down Government Over Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 5db8a284210000bf3634b65c Schumer ‘Increasingly Worried’ Trump Will Shut Down Government Over Impeachment

WASHINGTON ― Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday he’s concerned about the possibility that President Donald Trump refuses to sign a bill funding the government over the ongoing Democratic House impeachment inquiry.

“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump may want to shut down the government again because of impeachment … He always likes to create diversions,” Schumer said during a weekly press conference on Tuesday.

“I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion,” the senator from New York added.

Lawmakers have been working on funding the government ahead of a looming Nov. 21 deadline. A key sticking point in those negotiations, however, is more funding for Trump’s border wall, which Democrats have dismissed as a non-starter.

Absent a miracle in the next few weeks, Congress will likely need to pass a short-term continuing resolution in order to keep the lights on past the Thanksgiving holiday. Even if Congress does agree on a short-term measure, however — one that will keep the government running until February or March as is currently being discussed by lawmakers, for example — it’s not clear yet whether Trump would sign it into law. He declined to do so last year over border wall funding, to the surprise of many of his party members.

“The president is very committed to the wall … We’re going to fight very hard for those resources,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told reporters on Tuesday when asked if Trump would sign any spending bill without any additional funding for the border barrier.

Congress continues to operate during government shutdowns ― as it did earlier this year during the longest government funding lapse in history ― so the House’s impeachment inquiry would not cease to operate if that were the case.

However, an impeachment trial in the Senate could make future budget discussions more difficult depending on when and if the Senate ultimately takes up any House impeachment articles. Once the Senate begins the trial, it cannot work on other legislative business until the proceedings are concluded, burning precious working days that could otherwise be used to work out a deal. 

For now, though, both sides are content with trading shots at each other over a bill to fund the Defense Department that includes more money for Trump’s wall. Republicans on Tuesday accused Democrats of putting at risk defense funding and paychecks to U.S. troops. Democrats, meanwhile, said Republicans were “stealing from the troops” by proposing to build Trump’s wall with Defense Department funds.

“It seems we’re obviously at a bit of a standstill,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-Neb.) said Tuesday.

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