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Westlake Legal Group > News Releases (Page 148)

White House Budget Official Said Two Aides Resigned Amid Ukraine Aid Freeze Concerns

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-impeach-facebookJumbo White House Budget Official Said Two Aides Resigned Amid Ukraine Aid Freeze Concerns Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Nadler, Jerrold House Committee on the Judiciary

WASHINGTON — Two officials at the White House budget office resigned this year after expressing concerns about President Trump’s decision to hold up congressionally approved security assistance to Ukraine, a third aide at the office told impeachment investigators, revealing dissent within a key agency about Mr. Trump’s insistence on freezing the money.

Mark Sandy, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, told the House Intelligence Committee in a private interview this month that one official who “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold” resigned in September at least in part because of those concerns.

A second co-worker, an official in the legal division of the office, also resigned after offering a “dissenting opinion” about whether it was legal to hold up the aid, according to a transcript of Mr. Sandy’s testimony released on Tuesday.

He did not identify either official, and it was unclear how senior they were or how directly their resignations were tied to their concerns over the withholding of the aid. But Mr. Sandy’s account of their departures — after weeks of unanswered questions inside the budget office about why Mr. Trump had directed the congressionally approved military funding to be frozen — underscores the depth of the pushback inside the agency about a decision that many officials believed was legally questionable and potentially dangerous for Ukraine.

The issue is at the core of the impeachment inquiry, in which Democrats have charged that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist Ukraine in smearing his political rivals, in part by withholding a nearly $400 million package of security aid the country desperately needed while insisting that its leaders announce investigations of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Mr. Trump has insisted he never pressured Ukraine for the investigations or made the aid contingent upon them, and was instead withholding the money out of concern over corruption in Ukraine and a desire to have other countries pay their fair share. But several diplomats and national security officials have testified that the move generated discord at the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council, where top officials were mystified about the decision and worried about its security implications for Ukraine, as well as the legal implications of denying money allocated by Congress.

Mr. Sandy testified that he was informed that the aid freeze came directly from Mr. Trump, who he was told began inquiring about the assistance package on June 19, after seeing a media report. Mr. Sandy learned of Mr. Trump’s decision to put a hold on the aid through a July 12 email from Robert Blair, a top aide to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

That email, which Mr. Sandy received nearly a week before other administration officials have said they learned that the aid had been frozen, indicated that “the president is directing a hold on military support funding for Ukraine,” he told impeachment investigators.

In an indication of the level of frustration about the situation inside the budget office, Mr. Sandy said that he and others repeatedly asked his superiors for a rationale for why the security assistance had been frozen, but were never given one.

“It was an open question over the course of late July and pretty much all of August, as I recall,” Mr. Sandy said. He said he spoke with the co-worker who left in September after his departure and concluded that the resignation was in part because no answer to that question ever came.

Mr. Sandy is the only official at the budget office to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Several others, including Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the office, have refused to appear.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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

White House Budget Official Said Two Aides Resigned Amid Ukraine Aid Freeze Concerns

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-impeach-facebookJumbo White House Budget Official Said Two Aides Resigned Amid Ukraine Aid Freeze Concerns Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Nadler, Jerrold House Committee on the Judiciary

WASHINGTON — Two officials at the White House budget office resigned this year after expressing concerns about President Trump’s decision to hold up congressionally approved security assistance to Ukraine, a third aide at the office told impeachment investigators, revealing dissent within a key agency about Mr. Trump’s insistence on freezing the money.

Mark Sandy, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, told the House Intelligence Committee in a private interview this month that one official who “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold” resigned in September at least in part because of those concerns.

A second co-worker, an official in the legal division of the office, also resigned after offering a “dissenting opinion” about whether it was legal to hold up the aid, according to a transcript of Mr. Sandy’s testimony released on Tuesday.

He did not identify either official, and it was unclear how senior they were or how directly their resignations were tied to their concerns over the withholding of the aid. But Mr. Sandy’s account of their departures — after weeks of unanswered questions inside the budget office about why Mr. Trump had directed the congressionally approved military funding to be frozen — underscores the depth of the pushback inside the agency about a decision that many officials believed was legally questionable and potentially dangerous for Ukraine.

The issue is at the core of the impeachment inquiry, in which Democrats have charged that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist Ukraine in smearing his political rivals, in part by withholding a nearly $400 million package of security aid the country desperately needed while insisting that its leaders announce investigations of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Mr. Trump has insisted he never pressured Ukraine for the investigations or made the aid contingent upon them, and was instead withholding the money out of concern over corruption in Ukraine and a desire to have other countries pay their fair share. But several diplomats and national security officials have testified that the move generated discord at the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council, where top officials were mystified about the decision and worried about its security implications for Ukraine, as well as the legal implications of denying money allocated by Congress.

Mr. Sandy testified that he was informed that the aid freeze came directly from Mr. Trump, who he was told began inquiring about the assistance package on June 19, after seeing a media report. Mr. Sandy learned of Mr. Trump’s decision to put a hold on the aid through a July 12 email from Robert Blair, a top aide to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

That email, which Mr. Sandy received nearly a week before other administration officials have said they learned that the aid had been frozen, indicated that “the president is directing a hold on military support funding for Ukraine,” he told impeachment investigators.

In an indication of the level of frustration about the situation inside the budget office, Mr. Sandy said that he and others repeatedly asked his superiors for a rationale for why the security assistance had been frozen, but were never given one.

“It was an open question over the course of late July and pretty much all of August, as I recall,” Mr. Sandy said. He said he spoke with the co-worker who left in September after his departure and concluded that the resignation was in part because no answer to that question ever came.

Mr. Sandy is the only official at the budget office to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Several others, including Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the office, have refused to appear.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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

Trump takes stage for “homecoming rally” in Florida

Westlake Legal Group Trump112619 Trump takes stage for "homecoming rally" in Florida Morgan Phillips fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d9de8771-0dfb-59d1-9277-2a6b8df09fff article

President Trump took the stage in Sunrise, Fla. Tuesday night to address supporters at what his reelection campaign rally had dubbed a “homecoming rally”  before the start of his Thanksgiving break at Mar-a-Lago, his new primary residence.

TRUMP USES TURKEY PARDON TO MOCK SCHIFF, SAYS BIRDS ALREADY RECEIVED SUBPOENAS 

Tuesday’s rally marked his first official campaign visit to the Sunshine State since he changed his permanent state of residence from New York.

Trump claimed the move was motivated by the poor treatment he was receiving from New York politicians investigating him. However, Florida’s far more attractive tax rates could have played some part in the decision as well.

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Winning Florida will be crucial for the president’s reelection. Trump won the state over Hillary Clinton by 110,000 votes, but Tuesday’s rally took place in one of the most Democratic areas of the state. Clinton overwhelmingly won Broward County, where Sunrise is located, in 2016.

About 200 anti-Trump protesters rallied on a street outside the BB&T Center before the president arrived. They raised a helium-filled “Baby Trump” balloon, and some chanted, “Lock him up.”

This is a developing story, check back for more updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Westlake Legal Group Trump112619 Trump takes stage for "homecoming rally" in Florida Morgan Phillips fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d9de8771-0dfb-59d1-9277-2a6b8df09fff article   Westlake Legal Group Trump112619 Trump takes stage for "homecoming rally" in Florida Morgan Phillips fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc d9de8771-0dfb-59d1-9277-2a6b8df09fff article

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

TikTok Blocks Teen Who Posted About China’s Detention Camps

Westlake Legal Group 26tiktok-facebookJumbo TikTok Blocks Teen Who Posted About China’s Detention Camps Uighurs (Chinese Ethnic Group) TikTok (ByteDance) Social Media China Censorship

SHANGHAI — The teenage girl, pink eyelash curler in hand, begins her video innocently: “Hi, guys. I’m going to teach you guys how to get long lashes.”

After a few seconds, she asks viewers to put down their curlers. “Use your phone that you’re using right now to search up what’s happening in China, how they’re getting concentration camps, throwing innocent Muslims in there,” she says.

The sly bait-and-switch puts a serious topic — the mass detentions of minority Muslims in northwest China — in front of an audience that might not have known about it before. The 40-second clip has amassed more than 498,000 likes on TikTok, a social platform where the users skew young and the videos skew silly.

But the video’s creator, Feroza Aziz, said this week that TikTok had suspended her account after she posted the clip. That added to a widespread fear about the platform: that its owner, the Chinese social media giant ByteDance, censors or punishes videos that China’s government might not like.

A ByteDance spokesman, Josh Gartner, said Ms. Aziz had been blocked from her TikTok account because she used a previous account to post a video that contained an image of Osama bin Laden. This violated TikTok’s policies against terrorist content, Mr. Gartner said, which is why the platform banned both her account and the devices from which she was posting.

“If she tries to use the device that she used last time, she will probably have a problem,” Mr. Gartner said.

Ms. Aziz, a 17-year-old Muslim high school student in New Jersey, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that this was not the first time TikTok had taken down her account or removed her videos in which she talked about her religion. She did not respond to The New York Times’s requests to comment on the specifics of her situation.

In recent months, United States lawmakers have expressed concerns that TikTok censors video content at Beijing’s behest and shares user data with the Chinese authorities.

The head of TikTok, Alex Zhu, denied those accusations in an interview with The Times this month. Mr. Zhu said that Chinese regulators did not influence TikTok in any way, and that even ByteDance could not control TikTok’s policies for managing video content in the United States.

But episodes such as Ms. Aziz’s show how difficult it might be for TikTok to escape the fog of suspicion that surrounds it and other Chinese tech companies.

China’s government rigidly controls the internet within the nation’s borders. It exerts influence, sometimes subtly, over the activities of private businesses. The concern is that, when companies like ByteDance and the telecom equipment maker Huawei expand overseas, Beijing’s long arm follows them.

China would certainly prefer that the world did not talk about its clampdown on Muslims. Over the past few years, the government has corralled as many as one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons.

Chinese leaders have presented their efforts as a mild and benevolent campaign to fight Islamic extremism. But internal Communist Party documents reported by The Times this month provided an inside glimpse at the crackdown and confirmed its coercive nature.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington that the documents showed “brutal detention and systematic repression” of Uighurs and called on China to immediately release those who were detained.

Davey Alba contributed reporting from New York and Edward Wong from Austin, Texas.

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

Trump Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint When He Released Aid to Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-whistleblower-facebookJumbo Trump Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint When He Released Aid to Ukraine Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 Ethics and Official Misconduct Eisenberg, John A Cipollone, Pat A

WASHINGTON — President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said.

The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a “quid pro quo” with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair.

Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid. But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistle-blower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump’s re-election chances.

The complaint from the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who submitted it to the inspector general for the intelligence community in mid-August, put at the center of that pressure campaign a July 25 phone call between the presidents, which came at a time when Mr. Trump had already frozen the aid to the Ukrainian government. Mr. Trump asked that Mr. Zelensky “do us a favor,” then brought up the investigations he sought, alarming White House aides who conveyed their concerns to the whistle-blower.

The White House declined to comment.

The whistle-blower complaint, which would typically be submitted to lawmakers who have oversight of the intelligence agencies, first came to light as the subject of an administration tug of war. In late August, the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, concluded that the administration needed to send it to Congress.

But the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and his deputy John A. Eisenberg disagreed. They decided that the administration could withhold from Congress the whistle-blower’s accusations because they were protected by executive privilege. The lawyers told Mr. Trump they planned to ask the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to determine whether they had to disclose the complaint to lawmakers.

A week later, the Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the administration did not have to hand over the complaint.

It is unclear how much detail the lawyers provided Mr. Trump about the complaint. The New York Times reported in September that White House advisers — namely, Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Eisenberg — knew about the whistle-blower complaint in August. But the specifics of when and how Mr. Trump learned of it have not previously been reported.

The whistle-blower, whose identity has not been made public, accused Mr. Trump of abusing his power by inviting a foreign power to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election. He described the pressure campaign to get Mr. Zelensky to publicly commit to investigations of Democrats that could potentially benefit Mr. Trump and suggested that a temporary hold that the administration had placed on assistance to Ukraine, which is fighting a war against Russian proxy forces, might be related to the effort.

New details also emerged on Tuesday about that decision to freeze the security assistance to Ukraine. An official from the White House budget office, Mark Sandy, testified that on July 12, he received an email from the office of the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, notifying him that Mr. Trump had directed that administration officials freeze Ukraine’s military aid.

Mr. Trump had enthusiastically sought the investigations for much of the summer. But in early September, he told one of his top diplomats — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, who helped carry out the shadow policy toward Ukraine — that he was not seeking “a quid pro quo” with the Ukrainian government by withholding the aid.

Mr. Sondland said that when he called Mr. Trump to inquire about why the aid had been withheld, an irritated Mr. Trump insisted he was not seeking anything from the Ukrainians. But the president said that he wanted Mr. Zelensky “to do the right thing,” Mr. Sondland testified to Congress last week, suggesting that he was still seeking the investigations into Democrats that could help his political fortunes.

There are discrepancies about whether Mr. Sondland spoke to the president on Sept. 7 or 9. The administration lifted the freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, as lawmakers’ demands grew. Two days earlier, three Democratic-led House committees had opened an investigation into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Only days after the president learned of the whistle-blower complaint, he spoke with Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, about the aid holdup. Mr. Johnson sought permission to tell Mr. Zelensky at an upcoming meeting in Ukraine that Mr. Trump had decided to release the security assistance, according to Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Trump replied that he was not ready, Mr. Johnson said. He said he asked later on the call whether the aid was linked to some action that the president wanted the Ukrainians to take.

“Without hesitation, President Trump immediately denied such an arrangement existed,” Mr. Johnson wrote in a letter this month to House Republicans.

Mr. Trump erupted in anger and began cursing, he wrote.

“‘No way,’” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Johnson. “‘I would never do that. Who told you that?’”

The White House has kept a tight hold on details about the actions of Mr. Trump and his senior aides in the Ukraine affair.

The president has refused to let top advisers testify in the impeachment inquiry, leaving a void that Republicans have exploited. They argue that the evidence that Democrats have gathered is insufficient because it contains few firsthand accounts linking the president to wrongdoing.

But Democrats have not only the transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call but also the testimony of Mr. Sondland, who said Mr. Trump directed him and other top administration officials to maintain pressure on Ukraine.

Both Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Eisenberg, who briefed Mr. Trump in late August about the whistle-blower complaint, had been following up on other complaints by administration officials about the Ukraine matter since early July.

Mr. Cipollone had suggested to Mr. Eisenberg in July that he tell Mr. Trump that White House staff members had raised concerns about a shadow Ukraine policy. Mr. Eisenberg, who does not typically brief Mr. Trump, never followed up on the suggestion.

Michael S. Schmidt and Julian E. Barnes reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Katie Benner contributed reporting from Washington.

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

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks

Westlake Legal Group 26CLI-EMISSIONS1-facebookJumbo ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Coal Alternative and Renewable Energy

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away.

Rather, this year’s meetings are intended to hammer out the last remaining rules on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate accord, in which every country pledged to rein in greenhouse gases, with each setting its own targets and timetables.

“Madrid is an opportunity to get on course to get the speed and trajectory right,” said Rachel Kyte, a former United Nations climate diplomat who is now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “What the Emissions Gap Report does is take away any remaining plausible deniability that the current trajectory is not good enough.”

The world’s 20 richest countries, responsible for more than three-fourths of worldwide emissions, must take the biggest, swiftest steps to move away from fossil fuels, the report emphasized. The richest country of all, the United States, however, has formally begun to pull out of the Paris accord.

For more climate news sign up for the Climate Fwd: newsletter or follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 1.5 percent every year over the last decade, according to the annual assessment. The opposite must happen if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, including more intense droughts, stronger storms and widespread hunger by midcentury. To stay within relatively safe limits, emissions must decline sharply, by 7.6 percent every year, between 2020 and 2030, the report warned.

Separately, the World Meteorological Organization reported on Monday that emissions of three major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — have all swelled in the atmosphere since the mid-18th century.

“We are sleepwalking toward a climate catastrophe and need to wake up and take urgent action,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, on a phone call with reporters Tuesday after the publication of the report.

Even if every country fulfills its current pledges under the Paris Agreement — and many, including the United States, Brazil and Australia, are currently not on track to do so — the Emissions Gap Report found average temperatures are on track to rise by 3.2 degrees Celsius from the baseline average temperature at the start of the industrial age.

According to scientific models, that kind of temperature rise sharply increases the likelihood of extreme weather events, the accelerated melting of glaciers and swelling seas — all endangering the lives of billions of people.

The Paris Agreement resolved to hold the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit; last year, a United Nations-backed panel of scientists said the safer limit was to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

There are many ways to reduce emissions: quitting the combustion of fossil fuels, especially coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel; switching to renewable energy like solar and wind power; moving away from gas- and diesel-guzzling cars; and halting deforestation.

In fact, many countries are headed in the wrong direction. A separate analysis made public this month looked at how much coal, oil and natural gas the world’s nations have said they expect to produce and sell through 2030. If all those fossil fuels were ultimately extracted and burned, the report found, countries would collectively miss their climate pledges, as well as the global 2 degree Celsius target, by an even larger margin than previously thought.

A number of countries around the world, including Canada and Norway, have made plans to reduce emissions at home while expanding fossil-fuel production for sale abroad, that report noted.

“At a global level, it doesn’t add up,” said Michael Lazarus, a lead author of the report and director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s United States Center. To date, he noted, discussions on whether and how to curb the production of fossil fuels have been almost entirely absent from international climate talks.

The International Energy Agency recently singled out the proliferation of sport utility vehicles, noting that the surge of S.U.V.s, which consume more gasoline than conventional cars, could wipe out much of the oil savings from a nascent electric-car boom.

“For 10 years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm — and for 10 years, the world has only increased its emissions,” the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, said in a statement. “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heat waves, storms and pollution.”

The pressure on world leaders to pivot away from fossil fuels and rebuild the engine of the global economy comes at a time when the appetite for international cooperation is extremely low, nationalist sentiments are on the rise, and several world leaders have deep ties to the industries that are the biggest sources of planet-warming emissions.

If there’s any good news in the report, it’s that the current trajectory is not as dire as it was before countries around the world started taking steps to cut their emissions. The 2015 Emissions Gap Report said that, without any climate policies at all, the world was likely to face around 4 degrees Celsius of warming.

Coal use is declining sharply, especially in the United States and Western Europe, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief. Renewable energy is expanding fast, though not nearly as fast as necessary. City and state governments around the world, including in the United States, are rolling out stricter rules on tailpipe pollution from cars.

Young people are protesting by the millions in rich and poor countries alike. Even in the United States, with its persistent denialist movement, how to deal with climate change is a resonant issue in the presidential campaign.

Brad Plumer contributed reporting.

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

TikTok Blocks Teen Who Posted About China’s Detention Camps

Westlake Legal Group 26tiktok-facebookJumbo TikTok Blocks Teen Who Posted About China’s Detention Camps Uighurs (Chinese Ethnic Group) TikTok (ByteDance) Social Media China Censorship

SHANGHAI — The teenage girl, pink eyelash curler in hand, begins her video innocently: “Hi, guys. I’m going to teach you guys how to get long lashes.”

After a few seconds, she asks viewers to put down their curlers. “Use your phone that you’re using right now to search up what’s happening in China, how they’re getting concentration camps, throwing innocent Muslims in there,” she says.

The sly bait-and-switch puts a serious topic — the mass detentions of minority Muslims in northwest China — in front of an audience that might not have known about it before. The 40-second clip has amassed more than 498,000 likes on TikTok, a social platform where the users skew young and the videos skew silly.

But the video’s creator, Feroza Aziz, said this week that TikTok had suspended her account after she posted the clip. That added to a widespread fear about the platform: that its owner, the Chinese social media giant ByteDance, censors or punishes videos that China’s government might not like.

A ByteDance spokesman, Josh Gartner, said Ms. Aziz had been blocked from her TikTok account because she used a previous account to post a video that contained an image of Osama bin Laden. This violated TikTok’s policies against terrorist content, Mr. Gartner said, which is why the platform banned both her account and the devices from which she was posting.

“If she tries to use the device that she used last time, she will probably have a problem,” Mr. Gartner said.

Ms. Aziz, a 17-year-old Muslim high school student in New Jersey, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that this was not the first time TikTok had taken down her account or removed her videos in which she talked about her religion. She did not respond to The New York Times’s requests to comment on the specifics of her situation.

In recent months, United States lawmakers have expressed concerns that TikTok censors video content at Beijing’s behest and shares user data with the Chinese authorities.

The head of TikTok, Alex Zhu, denied those accusations in an interview with The Times this month. Mr. Zhu said that Chinese regulators did not influence TikTok in any way, and that even ByteDance could not control TikTok’s policies for managing video content in the United States.

But episodes such as Ms. Aziz’s show how difficult it might be for TikTok to escape the fog of suspicion that surrounds it and other Chinese tech companies.

China’s government rigidly controls the internet within the nation’s borders. It exerts influence, sometimes subtly, over the activities of private businesses. The concern is that, when companies like ByteDance and the telecom equipment maker Huawei expand overseas, Beijing’s long arm follows them.

China would certainly prefer that the world did not talk about its clampdown on Muslims. Over the past few years, the government has corralled as many as one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons.

Chinese leaders have presented their efforts as a mild and benevolent campaign to fight Islamic extremism. But internal Communist Party documents reported by The Times this month provided an inside glimpse at the crackdown and confirmed its coercive nature.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington that the documents showed “brutal detention and systematic repression” of Uighurs and called on China to immediately release those who were detained.

Davey Alba contributed reporting from New York and Edward Wong from Austin, Texas.

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

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks

Westlake Legal Group 26CLI-EMISSIONS1-facebookJumbo ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Coal Alternative and Renewable Energy

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away.

Rather, this year’s meetings are intended to hammer out the last remaining rules on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate accord, in which every country pledged to rein in greenhouse gases, with each setting its own targets and timetables.

“Madrid is an opportunity to get on course to get the speed and trajectory right,” said Rachel Kyte, a former United Nations climate diplomat who is now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “What the Emissions Gap Report does is take away any remaining plausible deniability that the current trajectory is not good enough.”

The world’s 20 richest countries, responsible for more than three-fourths of worldwide emissions, must take the biggest, swiftest steps to move away from fossil fuels, the report emphasized. The richest country of all, the United States, however, has formally begun to pull out of the Paris accord.

For more climate news sign up for the Climate Fwd: newsletter or follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 1.5 percent every year over the last decade, according to the annual assessment. The opposite must happen if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, including more intense droughts, stronger storms and widespread hunger by midcentury. To stay within relatively safe limits, emissions must decline sharply, by 7.6 percent every year, between 2020 and 2030, the report warned.

Separately, the World Meteorological Organization reported on Monday that emissions of three major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — have all swelled in the atmosphere since the mid-18th century.

“We are sleepwalking toward a climate catastrophe and need to wake up and take urgent action,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, on a phone call with reporters Tuesday after the publication of the report.

Even if every country fulfills its current pledges under the Paris Agreement — and many, including the United States, Brazil and Australia, are currently not on track to do so — the Emissions Gap Report found average temperatures are on track to rise by 3.2 degrees Celsius from the baseline average temperature at the start of the industrial age.

According to scientific models, that kind of temperature rise sharply increases the likelihood of extreme weather events, the accelerated melting of glaciers and swelling seas — all endangering the lives of billions of people.

The Paris Agreement resolved to hold the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit; last year, a United Nations-backed panel of scientists said the safer limit was to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

There are many ways to reduce emissions: quitting the combustion of fossil fuels, especially coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel; switching to renewable energy like solar and wind power; moving away from gas- and diesel-guzzling cars; and halting deforestation.

In fact, many countries are headed in the wrong direction. A separate analysis made public this month looked at how much coal, oil and natural gas the world’s nations have said they expect to produce and sell through 2030. If all those fossil fuels were ultimately extracted and burned, the report found, countries would collectively miss their climate pledges, as well as the global 2 degree Celsius target, by an even larger margin than previously thought.

A number of countries around the world, including Canada and Norway, have made plans to reduce emissions at home while expanding fossil-fuel production for sale abroad, that report noted.

“At a global level, it doesn’t add up,” said Michael Lazarus, a lead author of the report and director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s United States Center. To date, he noted, discussions on whether and how to curb the production of fossil fuels have been almost entirely absent from international climate talks.

The International Energy Agency recently singled out the proliferation of sport utility vehicles, noting that the surge of S.U.V.s, which consume more gasoline than conventional cars, could wipe out much of the oil savings from a nascent electric-car boom.

“For 10 years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm — and for 10 years, the world has only increased its emissions,” the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, said in a statement. “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heat waves, storms and pollution.”

The pressure on world leaders to pivot away from fossil fuels and rebuild the engine of the global economy comes at a time when the appetite for international cooperation is extremely low, nationalist sentiments are on the rise, and several world leaders have deep ties to the industries that are the biggest sources of planet-warming emissions.

If there’s any good news in the report, it’s that the current trajectory is not as dire as it was before countries around the world started taking steps to cut their emissions. The 2015 Emissions Gap Report said that, without any climate policies at all, the world was likely to face around 4 degrees Celsius of warming.

Coal use is declining sharply, especially in the United States and Western Europe, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief. Renewable energy is expanding fast, though not nearly as fast as necessary. City and state governments around the world, including in the United States, are rolling out stricter rules on tailpipe pollution from cars.

Young people are protesting by the millions in rich and poor countries alike. Even in the United States, with its persistent denialist movement, how to deal with climate change is a resonant issue in the presidential campaign.

Brad Plumer contributed reporting.

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

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks

Westlake Legal Group 26CLI-EMISSIONS1-facebookJumbo ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Coal Alternative and Renewable Energy

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away.

Rather, this year’s meetings are intended to hammer out the last remaining rules on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate accord, in which every country pledged to rein in greenhouse gases, with each setting its own targets and timetables.

“Madrid is an opportunity to get on course to get the speed and trajectory right,” said Rachel Kyte, a former United Nations climate diplomat who is now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “What the Emissions Gap Report does is take away any remaining plausible deniability that the current trajectory is not good enough.”

The world’s 20 richest countries, responsible for more than three-fourths of worldwide emissions, must take the biggest, swiftest steps to move away from fossil fuels, the report emphasized. The richest country of all, the United States, however, has formally begun to pull out of the Paris accord.

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Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 1.5 percent every year over the last decade, according to the annual assessment. The opposite must happen if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, including more intense droughts, stronger storms and widespread hunger by midcentury. To stay within relatively safe limits, emissions must decline sharply, by 7.6 percent every year, between 2020 and 2030, the report warned.

Separately, the World Meteorological Organization reported on Monday that emissions of three major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — have all swelled in the atmosphere since the mid-18th century.

“We are sleepwalking toward a climate catastrophe and need to wake up and take urgent action,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, on a phone call with reporters Tuesday after the publication of the report.

Even if every country fulfills its current pledges under the Paris Agreement — and many, including the United States, Brazil and Australia, are currently not on track to do so — the Emissions Gap Report found average temperatures are on track to rise by 3.2 degrees Celsius from the baseline average temperature at the start of the industrial age.

According to scientific models, that kind of temperature rise sharply increases the likelihood of extreme weather events, the accelerated melting of glaciers and swelling seas — all endangering the lives of billions of people.

The Paris Agreement resolved to hold the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit; last year, a United Nations-backed panel of scientists said the safer limit was to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

There are many ways to reduce emissions: quitting the combustion of fossil fuels, especially coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel; switching to renewable energy like solar and wind power; moving away from gas- and diesel-guzzling cars; and halting deforestation.

In fact, many countries are headed in the wrong direction. A separate analysis made public this month looked at how much coal, oil and natural gas the world’s nations have said they expect to produce and sell through 2030. If all those fossil fuels were ultimately extracted and burned, the report found, countries would collectively miss their climate pledges, as well as the global 2 degree Celsius target, by an even larger margin than previously thought.

A number of countries around the world, including Canada and Norway, have made plans to reduce emissions at home while expanding fossil-fuel production for sale abroad, that report noted.

“At a global level, it doesn’t add up,” said Michael Lazarus, a lead author of the report and director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s United States Center. To date, he noted, discussions on whether and how to curb the production of fossil fuels have been almost entirely absent from international climate talks.

The International Energy Agency recently singled out the proliferation of sport utility vehicles, noting that the surge of S.U.V.s, which consume more gasoline than conventional cars, could wipe out much of the oil savings from a nascent electric-car boom.

“For 10 years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm — and for 10 years, the world has only increased its emissions,” the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, said in a statement. “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heat waves, storms and pollution.”

The pressure on world leaders to pivot away from fossil fuels and rebuild the engine of the global economy comes at a time when the appetite for international cooperation is extremely low, nationalist sentiments are on the rise, and several world leaders have deep ties to the industries that are the biggest sources of planet-warming emissions.

If there’s any good news in the report, it’s that the current trajectory is not as dire as it was before countries around the world started taking steps to cut their emissions. The 2015 Emissions Gap Report said that, without any climate policies at all, the world was likely to face around 4 degrees Celsius of warming.

Coal use is declining sharply, especially in the United States and Western Europe, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief. Renewable energy is expanding fast, though not nearly as fast as necessary. City and state governments around the world, including in the United States, are rolling out stricter rules on tailpipe pollution from cars.

Young people are protesting by the millions in rich and poor countries alike. Even in the United States, with its persistent denialist movement, how to deal with climate change is a resonant issue in the presidential campaign.

Brad Plumer contributed reporting.

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

6 Things Every Non-Native Should Do On Thanksgiving

“The antidote to feel-good history is not feel-bad history, but honest and inclusive history,” sociologist James W. Loewen writes in “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.”

The feel-good history most of us have learned about Thanksgiving depicts grateful Pilgrims breaking bread with Indigenous people. The honest, inclusive truth is a lot more complicated than that. Indeed, so much of Indigenous peoples’ history is a footnote in textbooks: the forced relocation to reservations and the territorial land-grab by European settlers, the nationwide genocide of Native people and the ongoing ramifications of that history for them today.

Being an ally to Native Americans begins with knowing all of this (and so much more). As Thanksgiving approaches, we asked a number of Indigenous educators and activists to share what non-Natives need to know to be a good ally ― and what actionable steps we can take to actually make a difference. (Keep in mind, this is a beginner’s list; advocating for change and uplifting the voices of marginalized people requires a lot more action than this. Still, understanding the real history of Indigenous people in the U.S. is a great first step.)

Learn about the Wampanoag tribe and their real relationship with the Pilgrims.

Of all the Native American communities whose distinct histories are worth knowing about, the Wampanoag tribe should be at the top of your list. Why? The Wampanoags were the tribe the Pilgrims met when they arrived near Plymouth Colony as a particularly rough, unforgiving fall and winter set in.

Though it’s overstated in most American history textbooks, the Wampanoag and Pilgrims formed a tentative alliance; the former showed the new arrivals how to farm New England’s soil and, in return, the colonizers supplied the tribe with European weapons to fight their rivals, the Narragansett.

But what’s forgotten or ignored in the Thanksgiving narrative in most textbooks is this: The pilgrims could only settle at Plymouth because thousands of Native Americans, including Wampanoags, had been killed by disease brought by earlier European ships settlers. That, in turn, cleared much of the area of its Native population so the Pilgrims could set up shop.

“Being that they are the tribes who encountered the Pilgrims and whom this fairy tale holiday is based on, it’s important that we listen to Wampanoag voices of protest and follow their lead,” said Matt Remle, the co-editor of Last Real Indians and co-founder of Mazaska Talks.

Understand why Thanksgiving is a “National Day of Mourning” for so many. (Then, explain it to your family.)

Following the Wampanoag’s lead starts with learning about the “National Day of Mourning.” Since 1970, the Wampanoag and other tribes in the New England region have hosted a gathering on Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth Rock to recognize the holiday’s authentic history. They also recognize the subsequent, nation-wide racial genocide that occurred between the settlers and the tribes whose territories they encroached on, and ongoing assaults on Native culture and religion.

“On this day, the Wampanoag are joined by other Native peoples and non-Natives, to state that, ‘Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture,’” Remle said.

Westlake Legal Group 5ddd5fe51f0000201edef8fc 6 Things Every Non-Native Should Do On Thanksgiving

Bettmann via Getty Images

This painting by J.L.M. Ferris depicts the first Thanksgiving ceremony with Native Americans and the Pilgrims in 1621, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

To honor their efforts a bit closer to home, Remle suggests supporting the efforts of tribes where you live. “Get to know them, their history, and support them in whatever efforts they are engaged in,” he said.

And on Thanksgiving Day, talk about all of this at the dinner table with your family. (Yes, even with your “PC culture”-hating uncle.) Avoid relaying the information in a way that’s condescending; frame it as an open dialogue, but also a necessary, vital conversation to understanding how our country was formed: “Hey, food for thought: let’s consider the other perspective on what this holiday represents.”

Westlake Legal Group 5ddd61032500004f19d2e492 6 Things Every Non-Native Should Do On Thanksgiving

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Marchers perform a Stomp Dance in Pilgrim Memorial State Park during the 48th National Day of Mourning on Nov 23, 2017.

If you have a school-aged kid, advocate for a more inclusive, truthful curriculum.

History in the U.S. tends to be told from a Eurocentric lens, so it’s no surprise that the Thanksgiving history we learn in classrooms is pretty whitewashed. There’s a growing movement of educators who want to teach more comprehensive, inclusive lessons about Thanksgiving, but if that’s not the case in your school district, speak up about what you’d like to see changed, said Jana Schmieding, a Lakota Sioux writer and host of the podcast Woman of Size.

She offered an example: “My friend told her child’s kindergarten teacher that she didn’t want to let her child participate in any stereotypical ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ activities in the classroom.”

“The teacher was actually cool about it and although these activities may remain in classrooms, saying something makes a difference. if more non-Native people kindly advocated for truth in their children’s history curriculum, we would raise a more socially conscious generation,” Schmieding said.

Worried about stirring the pot right around the holidays? Don’t be. You’re not alone in advocating for change ― and you might even be successful. Alabama mom Apryl Arthurs, a member of this Mohawk tribe, just lobbied her child’s school to drop a scheduled “powwow” day in which students were encouraged to “dress in Native American attire.”

In a Medium article published last year, historians with kids aggregated a resource list that parents can suggest teachers use and even included some helpful, pre-drafted emails to send if you’re concerned about stereotypical costume activities in the classroom, like Schmieding’s friend was.

If you want to teach your child on your own time (and “decolonize” your own beliefs), Schmieding recommends reading “An Indigenous People’s History of the United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. (There’s a version for young people adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese.)

Donate to a non-profit or charity.

Many people believe Native Americans are taken care of by casinos or government entitlements such as free housing, education and healthcare, but that’s not entirely true, said Helen Oliff, the public relations manager for Partnership With Native Americans.

“This persistent misconception contributes to apathy and low charitable giving for Native causes,” she said. “This matters because the need for food, education and other basics in remote tribal communities is higher than ever.”

Consider donating to Native American organizations near you, or around the country. Maybe it’s the American Indian College Fund or the Native American Heritage Association, a non-profit that works to provide “food, clothing, heating assistance, and other emergency programs” to those in financial need. (Here’s a more extensive list of non-profits to consider.)

Recognize that the fight continues today, and that for many Indigenous people, climate justice is at the heart of it.

Our conversations around climate change rarely center around Indigenous people but in many ways, it should. There’s a reason that those fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock in 2016 called themselves Water Protectors, Schmieding said: Native people are the “first cultivators of this land and have historically lived in symbiosis with the plants and animals of their respective regions.”

And when the environment is encroached on, it hurts them the most.

“When climate injustice occurs, it affects vulnerable Black and Indigenous communities first, which is why non-Native people need to learn about the Indigenous peoples of their land and actively support those tribal nations’ work around climate justice,” she said. “In every region of the U.S. right now, there are Native-led climate justice movements happening to protect the land from invasive resource extraction. Some voices to follow are the Indigenous Environmental Network, Seeding Sovereignty and The Red Nation.”

Westlake Legal Group 5ddd7e98210000ab9834e264 6 Things Every Non-Native Should Do On Thanksgiving

Pacific Press via Getty Images

Dakota Access Pipeline water protectors faced-off with various law enforcement agencies in February 2017.

Consume media created by Indigenous people.

It’s always a good idea to expand your media diet to include marginalized voices. Most Native American issues don’t get the coverage they deserve in mainstream outlets, but there’s a slew of magazines, websites and social media accounts created by Indigenous people that are worth following.

“Get your news from Indian Country Today sometimes,” Schmieding said. “Start following Native actors, comedians, artists, scholars and activists on social media. Deepen your recognition of Native people in your community, professional world and friend groups because we very much exist.”

One thing to keep in mind as you learn more about Native histories and ongoing struggles ― and hopefully get more involved? While it’s great to be a well-informed ally, the goal is to amplify the voices of the community you support, not shout over them and drown them out.

“Learning about this history is not an invitation to take over and appropriate our ceremonies and traditions that we’ve been working so hard to preserve,” Schmieding said. “We’ve fought very hard to exist in non-Native spaces. Now, it’s your turn to ask how you can be a better ally to us.”

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