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Westlake Legal Group > News Releases (Page 52)

Glamorous Bear Watches Sunrise From Hotel Veranda

Westlake Legal Group 5d29fcb62600004a00044584 Glamorous Bear Watches Sunrise From Hotel Veranda

Other common name: Grizzly bear. Sometimes classified as sub-species Ursus arctos horribilis. Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA. Native: Northwest America, Alaska, Canada and Russia, isolated populations in Europe. Habitat: mixed woodland and open areas.

Stephen Krasemann via Getty Images

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Resident Talks About Hurricane Barry Making Landfall In Louisiana

Westlake Legal Group facebook-default-wide Resident Talks About Hurricane Barry Making Landfall In Louisiana

NPR’s Scott Simon talks with David Hanagriff, president of St. Mary Parish, in the storm’s path.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

People in a large part of Louisiana are doing what they’ve done many times before, riding out a powerful storm. Barry is now a hurricane as it moves into the south-central part of the state. The ground has been saturated by heavy rains. There’s real fear of storm surges and flooding. More than 50,000 people are currently without power.

David Hanagriff is president of St. Mary Parish. The storm’s on track to make landfall there. Mr. President, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID HANAGRIFF: Yes. My welcome – my pleasure, please.

SIMON: What’s it like there now for you, sir?

HANAGRIFF: Well, right now, throughout the night, you know, we hadn’t had a lot of rainfall. We’ve had sporadic rainfall on and off throughout the night. The wind is definitely picking up now. It took a little bit of a west – movement to the west, which is – actually makes it worse for St. Mary Parish. It puts the entire parish on the bad side of the storm. So we’re starting to see the wind gusts pick up pretty good right now. And, of course, the strange thing about the storm is that most of the moisture is on the back-end of it, and we have yet to see the worst yet. So that’s what we’re bracing for right now.

SIMON: I gather the mayor of Morgan City, which is in St. Mary Parish, said that he expects to have the city shuttered down by noon. What does shuttered down mean these days?

HANAGRIFF: Basically, tie everything up – all the loose ends as far as items that can blow around and get out – blow in the wind. Also, pumping down and keeping the pumps running and making sure we have the capacity and reservoir to handle the rain, or any rain that might come. So that’s what we’re prepping for. That’s what we’ve been prepping for the last several days.

SIMON: What have you been hearing from emergency workers and your citizens there?

HANAGRIFF: Well, right now – our biggest problem right now are power outages throughout. We – of course, we have issues with power lines and trees and things like that happening. So that’s our biggest problem right now, as far as dealing with and prepping for the water to come in. Again, our biggest thing right now, too, is we had a curfew earlier in the day, but the curfew’s off. But…

SIMON: Yeah.

HANAGRIFF: …We’re telling our residents, just stay home. Stay inside. The worst is yet to come.

SIMON: So I guess I finally understand the phrase the lull before the storm. Is this it?

HANAGRIFF: Absolutely. And this storm is unique in so many ways – the origin of how it developed coming off of the mainland to where, right now, it’s so strange and unusual that the top half is dry. The bottom half has all the moisture. And even the circulation – the eye has not circulated. It’s just a very awkward storm.

SIMON: President Hanagriff, do you think based on – obviously, we remember Hurricane Katrina and other storms that have struck over the past few years – people listen to evacuation orders more, they take preparation more seriously, they’ve learned from their experience?

HANAGRIFF: They do, and especially on the coastal parishes like St. Mary Parish. We’ve been through this numerous times. And the problem right now is it’s probably been about, you know, eight to 10 years since we had our last hurricane, which people sometimes get into a lull. They get complacent. But, of course, last year, looking at Harvey and then at these recent hurricanes in other places, people know. And our people in St. Mary Parish – they understand. They take precautions. And we’ve done this so many times.

SIMON: May I ask where you are now?

HANAGRIFF: I am currently right now in Franklin at the courthouse. I stayed here last night. And we’re monitoring, getting ready for another conference call shortly to get more updates on what’s going on.

SIMON: Are you going to leave or stay?

HANAGRIFF: Oh, no. I’m staying. Absolutely. My family is in another location. But they’re high and dry where they’re at. And we’re going to ride this out.

SIMON: All right. Well, David Hanagriff is the president of St. Mary Parish. Thank you so much for being with us, Mr. President. And good luck to you this weekend.

HANAGRIFF: Yes, sir. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Chinese influence surges at UN, as US warns of ‘concerted push’ to advance agenda

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6032367054001_6032368019001-vs Chinese influence surges at UN, as US warns of ‘concerted push’ to advance agenda fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world fox news fnc/politics fnc Ben Evansky article Adam Shaw 7d8fec10-f406-565f-a42f-07f1a22760ab

The recent election of a Chinese official to a top U.N. organization is the latest sign of a steadily growing influence of China at the world body — something the U.S. is viewing as a “concerted push” by China to advance its interests and authoritarian agenda abroad.

Qu Dongyu, a Chinese government official, was elected as the next director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization last month, meaning that Chinese officials now run four out of 15 specialized U.N. agencies. The U.S. does not head any of the 15 agencies, although it does lead related funds, such as UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP).

STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS SENIOR UN OFFICIAL’S VISIT TO CHINA ‘HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE’

“I’m very grateful to my motherland, without 40 years of successful reform and an open door policy I would not have been who I am,” Qu Dongyu said after his election.

Dongyu’s victory at the FAO now sees Chinese officials heading the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO,) the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that deals with information and communication technologies, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which is responsible for development goals.

“China is definitely being more assertive at the U.N., in line with its status as the second biggest payer,” one U.N. diplomat told Fox News. “They use their partnership with developing countries to try to knock down what they don’t like, especially on human rights.

“Along with Russia, they challenge the rules-based international order which most of the world believes has made us safe and prosperous. So most of the world needs to be ready to push back. “

Brett Schaefer, a leading expert on the U.N. at The Heritage Foundation told Fox News that the Chinese have been trying to expand their influence at the U.N. and other international organizations for a while, noting that the first Chinese national to head a specialized U.N. agency was at the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007.

“China uses ICAO – as it did with WHO – to block Taiwanese participation and priorities,” Schaefer said. “China has used the ITU to legitimize its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and advance its Internet goals….It is very clear China has a plan and they are targeting individual organizations to realize it.”

Schaefer went on to say that China has not used its relationship with developing countries to great effect, and has not been shy in using financial and political pressure to get support from reluctant states.

“Unlike Western nationals, whose governments largely respect the independence of UN officials, China expects and receives overt support for Chinese policies from their nationals,” he said, pointing to the arrest of former Interpol President Meng Hongwei as an example of what happens to those who defy Beijing.

CHINA SAYS INTERPOL EX-PRESIDENT CONFESSES TO BRIBE TAKING, WIFE SUSPECTS AN IMPOSTER

A State Department official dismissed criticism that the Trump administration had retreated from the U.N. and other international organizations, leaving a vacuum for Chinese influence to fill.

“Our desire to reform and strengthen the U.N, into a more efficient and effective organization does not diminish our leadership on the global stage – it is part and parcel of our determination to lead,” the official said.

The official went on to say that the U.S. is well aware of China’s ambitions at the U.N.

“There is no question that China is using any means possible to increase its influence in international organizations and across the greater international system,” the official said. “China’s concerted push has more to do with advancing its self-serving interests and authoritarian model than demonstrating genuine leadership consistent with the principles and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the U.N Charter.”

When asked about the criticisms of the Chinese policy at the U.N., a spokesperson for the Chinese mission to the U.N. told Fox News: “China firmly upholds multilateralism,  the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law, and is committed to maintaining world peace and promoting common development.”

One nation that has felt the brunt of China’s actions at the UN is neighboring Taiwan. A spokesperson from its Taipei Economic and Cultural office in New York told Fox News that China blocks Taiwan from taking part in the UN and its specialized agencies it controls by pushing member states not to endorse proposals calling for Taiwanese participation.

“What’s even more absurd is that Republic of China (Taiwan) passport holders are not allowed to enter the U.N. grounds as tourists, and that Taiwan journalists are denied accreditation to cover U.N. meetings such as the General Assembly,” the spokesperson said.

Gordon Chang, an expert on China and East Asia, urged a more forceful response in facing China’s ambition, and warned that the U.S. is now in “an existential contest with the [Chinese Communist] Party.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

“That means we must, among other things, oppose at every turn China’s participation in U.N. bodies,” he said. “As a part of this effort, we need to publicly make the case that the Chinese regime is illegitimate and that a ruling group committing atrocities at home against racial and religious minorities, such as the Uighurs and Tibetans, can have no role in international institutions. “

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6032367054001_6032368019001-vs Chinese influence surges at UN, as US warns of ‘concerted push’ to advance agenda fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world fox news fnc/politics fnc Ben Evansky article Adam Shaw 7d8fec10-f406-565f-a42f-07f1a22760ab   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6032367054001_6032368019001-vs Chinese influence surges at UN, as US warns of ‘concerted push’ to advance agenda fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world fox news fnc/politics fnc Ben Evansky article Adam Shaw 7d8fec10-f406-565f-a42f-07f1a22760ab

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Climate Change Fuels Wetter Storms — Storms Like Barry

Westlake Legal Group ap_19194416234126-4cd389ee2ba4f8891bcd10e7ed4b5c1ada90db7f-s1100-c15 Climate Change Fuels Wetter Storms — Storms Like Barry

Clouds from Tropical Storm Barry spin over downtown New Orleans on Saturday. The storm has been fueled by climate change, which is also exacerbating potential flooding. Matthew Hinton/AP hide caption

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Matthew Hinton/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Climate Change Fuels Wetter Storms — Storms Like Barry

Clouds from Tropical Storm Barry spin over downtown New Orleans on Saturday. The storm has been fueled by climate change, which is also exacerbating potential flooding.

Matthew Hinton/AP

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It’s a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it’s raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

“It is noteworthy that we’re in our 260th day of a flood fight on the Mississippi River, the longest in history, and that this is the first time in history a hurricane will strike Louisiana while the Mississippi River has been at flood stage,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in response to a question about climate change at a Friday news conference.

“If we anticipate that this could happen with more frequency going forward, then it has to inform a lot of things we do in the state of Louisiana to prepare for disasters in the future,” the governor continued.

Warm Water, Warm Air

The storm called Barry formed over hotter-than-usual water in the Gulf of Mexico, and that helped it gain strength and pick up moisture.

That makes Barry the latest in a string of recent tropical storms and hurricanes whose greatest threat is rain, not wind; most notably Harvey in Texas and Florence in the Carolinas.

Studies of those previous hurricanes, as well as other storms, have found that warm water and warm air both contribute to deadly flooding. The warm water evaporates and the warm air acts like a sponge for moisture that then falls as extreme rain. A study published last year found that hurricanes including Katrina, Irma and Maria are dumping about 5 to 10% more rain than they would have if global warming wasn’t happening.

Another study found that the amount of rain that fell on the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was equal to the amount of water that evaporated from the Gulf into the storm as it formed.

Barry has another thing in common with recent storms: it’s moving extremely slowly. On Saturday morning, it was traveling toward land at just a few miles per hour.

A study published last year found that slower tropical cyclones — which include hurricanes and tropical storms — are getting more common. Researchers looked at tropical cyclones around the world and found they have slowed down 10% in the past 70 years.

When storms move slowly over the water, it can give them more time to gain strength and pick up moisture, but the real danger is when storms move slowly after they make landfall, dumping rain on one area for hours or even days.

If Barry were to stall over southern Louisiana this weekend, it could drop more than 15 inches of rain. As a result, flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for the entire region.

The Wettest Year

The rain from Barry is falling onto a Lower Mississippi River region that is already saturated with water from the wettest 12-month period on record.

The rain started months ago, hundreds of miles north of Louisiana. Waves of extreme rain have battered communities along the Mississippi River and its tributaries since February, from the Dakotas and Minnesota down through Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois and Missouri.

Unlike Barry, the storms did not have names, but they, nonetheless, flooded homes and farm land across an enormous swath of the Central U.S. It’s the latest, and one of the most extreme, examples of an uptick in the number of extreme rain events in many parts of the U.S. as the earth gets hotter.

“Increasing precipitation, especially heavy rain events, has increased the overall flood risk,” according to the most recent National Climate Assessment.

The water from this spring’s rains flowed downstream, into the Mississippi River and down toward the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, the Mississippi River in New Orleans was already high when Barry arrived, pushing ocean water upstream as storm surge, and dumping rain onto the region.

The initial storm surge did not cause the river to flood overnight on Friday — good news for low-lying New Orleans. But, as rain falls throughout the weekend, the river is forecast to keep rising, putting even more pressure on the levee system that protects the city.

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'This has got to be wrong': Disabled veteran's home sold at auction over $236 tax bill

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'This has got to be wrong': Disabled veteran's home sold at auction over $236 tax bill

Air Force veteran Jim Boerner may lose his Mesa home because of a $236 tax bill. Boerner says he paid the taxes but his home went to auction anyway. Tom Tingle, The Republic | azcentral.com

Disabled military veteran Jim Boerner bought his buttercup-yellow mobile home in Mesa, Arizona two years ago, hoping to live affordably into his old age.

Boerner, 49, is unable to work because of spinal and brain injuries he suffered during a training exercise in 1991 at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, he said. 

On his limited income, Boerner keeps a cat named Samantha, fixes guitars found at garage sales and brings flowers to widowed neighbors on Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day.

To save money, Boerner says he applied to a Maricopa County program that reduces property taxes for people with disabilities and limited incomes. He thought he had been accepted.

So when a stranger knocked on his door last month claiming to have bought his home at auction because of $236 in late taxes, Boerner said he was floored.

Also in Arizona: AC company convinced 103-year-old WWII vet to pay $24K, son says

“I said, ‘What are you talking about? … This has got to be wrong,’ ” Boerner recalled. “Had I known I was in peril of losing my home, I would have paid it in full.”

Now Boerner is fighting to save his home, knowing he could be forced to pack his things any day.

Government officials have scrambled to find loopholes but say there may be nothing they can do. The new owner says he won’t negotiate and will begin eviction proceedings soon.

“It’s difficult. It’s just difficult,” Boerner said through tears on Monday. “I love my home. I love my neighbors. … This was my nest egg, you know? That’s why I paid cash for it. This is where I was going to retire. And now I don’t have that assurance anymore.”

What went wrong?

Boerner has had to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucracy to find out what went wrong.

The Maricopa County Assessor’s Office handles tax exemptions. The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office collects tax payments and issues delinquency notices. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office serves delinquent taxpayers with auction notices and conducts the sales.

“I’ve been getting the brick wall everywhere I turn,” Boerner said.

Treasurer Royce Flora, who has been trying to help, said it’s understandable that a taxpayer may feel lost.

“If we can’t figure out how to get through the maze, how is he supposed to?” Flora said.

The treasurer believes it’s outrageous that Boerner is facing eviction.

If Boerner had lived in a single-family home, he might not be on the verge of being kicked out. Single-family homeowners have five years to pay back taxes before foreclosure.

But different rules apply to mobile homes, which are considered personal property, Flora said. They can be auctioned as soon as tax payments are late.

Arizona law is “not treating (a mobile home) like someone’s home,” Flora said. “A home is a home, and they should be treated the same.”

No record of his application

Boerner’s problems began last year, when a sheriff’s deputy arrived to tell him he was late on his property taxes and his mobile home could be sold at auction.

Boerner said he was confused.

He remembered filling out paperwork in 2017 soon after he bought the home to apply for a property-tax exemption and receiving a postcard confirming his acceptance.

From 2017: Some homeowners see prepaying property taxes as way to save this year and next

After the deputy’s visit, Boerner said he sent another application to the Assessor’s Office and received another postcard. He didn’t keep either postcard, Boerner said.

Boerner called the Sheriff’s Office after last year’s visit and learned the home was not scheduled for auction, so he figured things were cleared up, he said.

The Assessor’s Office told The Arizona Republic it does send postcards to confirm property-tax exemptions. But after searching thoroughly, the office found no record of Boerner applying for an exemption in 2017 or 2018, although the office keeps all related documents including incomplete and rejected applications.

Another knock on the door

A few weeks ago, a sheriff’s deputy arrived at Boerner’s home again.

“Are we going to do this every year?” Boerner said he wondered.

The deputy told him he was “perilously close” to losing the home and advised he pay the tax soon, Boerner said.

Boerner called June 13 to make a payment. Two county employees told him the deadline was weeks away.

“There’s nothing serious you would need to be worried about as far as the home being in any danger or anything like that,” a county call-center employee told him, according to a recording made by the county.

When Boerner asked the amount he needed to pay, he was transferred to a Sheriff’s Office employee.

“Are they going to kick me out between now and June 30?” Boerner asked.

“I would imagine not. I would always advise paying as quickly as you can, but I don’t see anything in my comments saying they’re going to,” the employee replied.  

That wasn’t true.

Militarykind: Camp for veterans creates safe space

Boerner’s account with the Sheriff’s Office included notes that his home was scheduled for auction June 20, documents show.

A Sheriff’s Office spokesman did not respond to questions from The Republic about why Boerner was given incorrect information on the phone about the imminent auction.

The Sheriff’s Office employee then told Boerner he owed $641 in total. Of that, $405 was due from last year, the employee said.

When Boerner made the payment online, he said he only remembered $405. That’s what he paid.

It wasn’t enough. The home was sold at auction a week later for $4,400.

Conversations with the buyer

Soon, a man knocked on Boerner’s door and said he had bought the mobile home. How long would it take him to move out, Boehner remembered the man asking.

The man gave an alias, Alex Patron, Boerner said, but business records suggest the buyer’s real name is Lester Payne. He purchased the home under a business called Advanced Dynamic Energy Limited.

“I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” Boerner said. “He said, ‘I have all the documentation.’ “

Boerner invited Payne in for a cool drink and called the county to ask what happened. An employee told him he hadn’t paid enough in taxes and his home had been auctioned.

Payne offered to sell the home back, Boerner remembered.

“Thank God,” he thought. Boerner figured he could pay $5,000, giving Payne a 16% profit.

But Payne said he would only settle for $30,000, nearly as much as Boerner had spent on the home originally and more than he could afford, Boerner said.

18.2 million US veterans: Which state is home to the most of them?

“I was begging him to rethink,” Boerner said.

Over the next few days, Payne told Boerner he would sell the home for $26,000, and then $52,000, according to text messages Boerner shared.

Payne told Boerner by phone if he didn’t pay, Payne could haul the home away at night, Boerner said.

Payne wanted to work with Boerner but the veteran called him and his family nasty names, the buyer told The Republic.

“I’m not going to try to deal with this issue anymore,” Payne said.

Text messages Boerner shared with The Republic don’t show him calling Payne names, but the veteran did tell Payne he could expose the buyer’s criminal rap sheet, which includes felonies for aggravated assault, misconduct involving weapons and endangerment along with misdemeanors for driving under the influence and shoplifting, according to county court records.

“You want a battle, Lester,” Boerner wrote. “We will battle.”

Payne texted that he was “tired of the threats.”

“It’s been long enough for you to try to buy the home,” Payne texted. “I’m starting (the) eviction process now.”

How tax-lien auctions work

From all accounts, it appears Payne legally purchased Boerner’s home and has the right to take over the title.

Tax-lien auctions help local governments collect unpaid property taxes that are needed to fund schools, law enforcement and roads.

In the case of single-family homes, owners have two years to pay delinquent taxes before the tax lien is auctioned. And an auction winner has three years to collect the tax payment, plus interest, from the taxpayer before being allowed to foreclose and take ownership of the home.

In the case of mobile homes, state law allows an auction to be held the day after a tax payment is due. In practice, there’s a little bit of a delay.

The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office allows mobile-home taxpayers 30 days after a tax payment is due before declaring it delinquent and another 30 days before notifying the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office decides which mobile homes to auction.

More on taxes: How likely is a tax audit?

A detective visits the home to confirm its location, notifies the delinquent taxpayer, explains where to make a payment, warns that failing to do so could result in an auction and leaves a notice of sale, said spokesman Sgt. Bryant Vanegas. If a deputy can’t serve the taxpayer, the Sheriff’s Office publishes a notice in a newspaper.

Once a mobile-home tax lien is purchased, the buyer owns the home and can evict the tenants.

An uncertain future

Boerner said he has no idea where he will live if he loses the mobile home.

He can’t burden his parents by living in their small house for long, Boerner said, and he may not be able to afford to buy another place.

“I don’t know where I would go,” he said.

Flora, the treasurer, has asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to investigate.

He thinks the sale should be reversed because the Sheriff’s Office gave Boerner incorrect information by phone about the timing of the auction and because Boerner paid the 2017 taxes.

The Sheriff’s Office typically doesn’t auction a home until a year or more of late taxes rack up, so it’s curious why the office moved forward based on 2018 taxes that were only a few weeks late.

A sheriff’s spokesman did not clarify the decision.

Flora said he will personally pay $15,000 to save the home. 

But Payne is no longer willing to sell, he told The Republic on Tuesday.

“I’m keeping the home,” he said. “My grandma needs a house. She likes the (mobile home) park.”

State lawmakers concerned by Boerner’s case said they want to change the law so that mobile-home owners have more time to pay back taxes. But those changes wouldn’t be made until the spring when the new legislative session opens.

“A mere $50 can mean the difference between an individual or family being forced to live on the streets,” Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said.

Thorpe held a meeting at the state Capitol on Thursday with the mobile-home industry, government officials and residents about possible changes to the law.

“I want fairness,” Thorpe told the group. “We need to make sure there is enough of a grace period similar to a stick-built home so a person with a fixed income is not going to lose their home out from under them.”

Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, said he will urge Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone to look for a way to reverse the sale.

“Nobody wants a disabled veteran kicked out of his home in 107 degrees,” Kern said.

Boerner said the stress is wearing on him.

“It’s emotional. It’s frustrating,” he said. “… It’s maddening I could lose my home over $200.”

Boerner doesn’t know how soon he’ll have to leave.

The buyer “could come at anytime and tell me, ‘Time to get out,’ ” Boerner said.

Contact the veteran

Offers of help or encouragement can be sent to Boerner through his attorney, Curtis Ensign, at curtisensign@cox.net or 602-266-3300.

Follow Rebekah L. Sanders on Twitter at @RebekahLSanders. 

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Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Westlake Legal Group ap_19194527566906_wide-df92dc22a9d85de0006db6cb9188ad7bab57c9ee-s1100-c15 Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La. Hurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning. Matthew Hinton/AP hide caption

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Matthew Hinton/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La. Hurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning.

Matthew Hinton/AP

The storm named Barry approached Louisiana’s central coast Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.

It has already brought flooding to New Orleans where tornado warnings have been issued.

Residents across other parts of Louisiana have also been bracing for flooding — forecasters predict up to 25 inches of rain across much of southern Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, leading to dangerous, life threatening flooding.

“Today is really going to be the day of the biggest impacts from Barry,” John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at NHC, told NPR. Cangialosi said the biggest impacts of the storm will be from heavy rains and storm surge.

The hurricane center said a storm surge warning is in effect for much of southeast Louisiana, stretching from Intracoastal City to Biloxi, Miss.

The storm is bringing 75-mph sustained winds, and forecasters say tropical-storm-force winds will extend up to 175 miles outward from the storm’s center.

Parts of Louisiana have already been hit by strong wind and rains that have washed out some coastal roads. Rain bands were moving onshore by the early morning hours, forcing the cancellations of flights to and from New Orleans.

Authorities ordered emergency evacuations in much of Plaquemines Parish and parts of Jefferson Parish southeast of New Orleans, and the storm has knocked out power for tens of thousands of people.

On Thursday night President Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, allowing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin coordinating all relief efforts.

Officials are keeping a close watch on the city’s levees, which failed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, inundating the city with water and leaving hundreds of people dead.

In New Orleans Lower 9th ward, resident Burnell Lucien spoke with NPR’s Debbie Elliott. Lucien said he believes the city’s infrastructure will be able to withstand this hurricane. “The levees are higher,” Lucien said. “We don’t get the storm surge in the canals no more. If it’s just rain water we good. We good.”

NPR’s Amy Held contributed to this report.

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Facebook Dodged a Bullet From the F.T.C. It Faces Many More.

Westlake Legal Group 13fbworld1-facebookJumbo Facebook Dodged a Bullet From the F.T.C. It Faces Many More. Social Media Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Privacy Politics and Government Libra (Currency) Law and Legislation General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Facebook Inc Data-Mining and Database Marketing Computers and the Internet Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues

LONDON — Facebook escaped largely unscathed from the Federal Trade Commission’s decision on Friday week to fine it around $5 billion for privacy violations: The settlement neither bruised its bottom line nor severely restricted its ability to collect people’s data.

Yet even as the Silicon Valley company dodged that bullet, its pain was just beginning.

Regulators and lawmakers in Washington, Europe and in countries including Canada have already begun multiple investigations and proposing new restrictions against Facebook that will probably embroil it in policy debates and legal wrangling for years to come. And in some of these places, the authorities are increasingly coordinating to form a more united front against the company.

In the United States, the potential for a federal antitrust investigation looms, several state attorneys general have initiated investigations of the company, and members of Congress are considering a federal privacy law and other restrictions. Not to mention that President Trump has turned up the heat on Facebook and other tech behemoths, including on Friday when he said that the platforms were “dishonest” and “crooked” and that “something is going to be done.”

That momentum will be on display this coming week on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust plans to hold a hearing featuring executives from Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google about the power of the firms. That same day, the Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hear from David Marcus, a top Facebook executive, on the company’s new Libra cryptocurrency project, which lawmakers have criticized and questioned.

In Europe, Facebook faces sanctions for breaking the region’s strict privacy laws, and the European Commission is in the early stages of an antitrust investigation against the company. In Britain, where a parliamentary report this year labeled Facebook “digital gangsters,” officials are writing new competition and social media laws, and regulators have started a broad antitrust inquiry targeted at Facebook and Google. France is also considering new penalties against the social network if hate speech and other harmful content is not removed within 24 hours.

And Australia, Japan, India, New Zealand and Singapore are either considering or have passed new rules against big internet platforms. Since 2016, at least 43 countries have passed or introduced regulations targeting social media and the spread of misinformation, according to Oxford University researchers.

“The debate has shifted,” said Tommaso Valletti, a professor at Imperial College Business School and the chief economist for the European Commission’s antitrust division. “The right question is not whether to intervene, but what kind of intervention do we need.”

For Facebook, these global fights could sting more than the F.T.C. decision and its $5 billion fine. While that amount would be a record penalty by the federal government against a technology company, it represents just a fraction of Facebook’s $56 billion in annual revenue. And while the F.T.C. also moved to increase oversight of how Facebook handles user data, none of the conditions in the settlement would impose strict limits on the company’s ability to collect and share data with third parties.

Yet governments and regulators can still potentially force the social media company to change how it conducts business through new laws and restrictions — a damaging outcome that Microsoft and other large companies have faced in the past. Already, Facebook has put huge amounts of time and resources into pushing back against tougher privacy, antitrust and hate speech rules, even as it has publicly expressed openness toward more regulation.

Facebook said in a statement on Saturday that, “by updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it.” The company added, “We want to work with governments and policymakers to design the sort of smart regulation that fosters competition, encourages innovation and protects consumers.”

Facebook is the centerpiece of a broader reckoning facing the tech industry, with governments beginning to collaborate in their response. The European Commission has shared information with the F.T.C. and the Justice Department about its past investigations into Google. And this spring, Ireland’s top privacy regulator, who has been investigating Facebook and Google, met with officials in Washington.

In May, an annual meeting of antitrust regulators from around the world turned into a four-day strategy session focused on the tech industry. Joseph Simons, the head of the F.T.C., and Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general overseeing antitrust at the Justice Department, were among those who attended the event in Colombia.

“It’s good news that the U.S. agencies are diving into this discussion,” said Andreas Mundt, Germany’s top antitrust enforcer, who helped organize the meeting and in February issued one of the first antitrust rulings against Facebook. “It’s clear these are companies that are active worldwide and thus a worldwide approach is not a bad idea.”

Mr. Mundt and other regulators believe that actions against Facebook and its industry peers must go beyond fines. Instead, many authorities want to force structural changes to how the businesses operate — like their collection of data and sale of digital advertising.

After the F.T.C. decision, Facebook’s next sanctions are expected to come from Europe, where the authorities have traditionally been more assertive against the tech industry than American regulators.

Ireland’s data-protection office has 11 investigations underway against Facebook for violations of European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R. (Ireland has jurisdiction over Facebook under the privacy law because the company’s European headquarters is in Dublin.) At least two verdicts against the company are likely in the coming months.

“Facebook has powers that were previously poorly understood,” Helen Dixon, head of the Irish data commission, said in an interview. She declined to comment on specific Facebook cases, but said, “It’s up to us as regulators to enforce where we see accountability hasn’t been demonstrated.”

France is debating a sweeping new law that would require Facebook and other large internet platforms to prevent the spread of hate speech and other harmful content or risk fines. Germany has already enacted a similar law. In Britain, a similar measure is under consideration, as well as tougher competition rules that would create a new digital regulator and potentially require Facebook to make some of its data available to competitors.

Some academics and free speech advocates have raised concerns that in a rush to limit Facebook’s power, governments are drafting policies with unintended consequences. Human rights groups were alarmed by proposals in Singapore and India to give the government new powers to censor content on social media.

“They are all very reactionary,” said Samantha Bradshaw, a doctoral student and researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute who has been tracking government actions against Facebook and others. “I haven’t seen any proposals that really get to these systemic-level challenges about the algorithms, the data collection, and the privacy.”

What specific policies Facebook will accept remains unclear. In many places, the company has fought back against the regulatory and legal onslaught.

Ms. Dixon of the Irish data commission said Facebook has tried to stall her investigations by raising questions and challenges. The social network is “asking constantly for extensions,” she said. “There have been quite a few testy exchanges. Once you have a law with a very big stick” that can be used “against a very big company, they are going to seek to protect their interests at every turn.”

In Germany, Facebook is appealing an antitrust ruling that would prevent it from sharing data with its other apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as websites that use the “like” and “share” buttons. It is simultaneously fighting elements of the French and British proposals regarding hate speech, saying they place too much responsibility on the company to judge what is acceptable online content.

Facebook and other tech giants also oppose a European Union proposal to toughen privacy rules for communications platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger.

In Australia, lobbyists were dispatched to battle antitrust proposals intended to limit Facebook and Google’s market power. And Canadian authorities are taking Facebook to court after the company refused to change its data-collection practices.

“They have softened their message toward the public, but ultimately they are trying to avoid as much binding regulation on them as possible,” said Margarida Silva, a researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory, a group that tracks lobbying in Europe.

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Barry Strengthens To Hurricane As It Bears Down On Louisiana Coast

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carrying “off the chart” amounts of moisture, sprawling Barry strengthened into a hurricane Saturday as it crawled slowly toward shore, knocking out power on the Gulf Coast and dumping heavy rains that could last for days in a test of flood-prevention efforts implemented after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 14 years ago.

As natives and tourists in the Big Easy, Baton Rouge and other heavily populated areas in the storm’s path hunkered down or wandered through quiet, emptied streets waiting for the worst, the Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the flooded remote island of Isle de Jean Charles. Water on the island had risen so high that some residents were clinging to rooftops by the time help arrived.

Video showed water overtopping a levee in Plaquemines Parish, a finger of land extending deep into the Gulf of Mexico, downstream from New Orleans. Officials were still confident that New Orleans’ levees would hold firm. Most of the levees range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.

Barry had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane by Saturday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), the National Hurricane Center said. Storms become hurricanes when their winds reach 74 mph (120 kph) or higher.

Officials predicted Barry would make landfall near Morgan City, west of New Orleans. The small town had an overnight curfew that expired Saturday morning, after on-and-off rain and power outages. People used cellphones to see in the dark, and opened doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.

More than 70,000 customers were without power Saturday morning, including 66,830 in Louisiana and 3,140 in Mississippi, according to poweroutage.us.

Though expected to be a weak hurricane, Barry threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast. By Saturday morning, the storm system had gathered a “big slough of moisture,” meaning “a lot of rain is on the way,” said National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.

During a storm update through Facebook Live, Graham pointed to a computer screen showing a huge, swirling mess of airborne water. “That is just an amazing amount of moisture,” he said. “That is off the chart.”

The rains inundated the remote Isle de Jean Charles, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of New Orleans. Coast Guard rescuers used helicopters to pluck some residents from rooftops and loaded others into boats from flooded homes on Saturday morning, Petty Officer Lexie Preston said.

Westlake Legal Group 5d29fe8b3b00003900dac4da Barry Strengthens To Hurricane As It Bears Down On Louisiana Coast

ASSOCIATED PRESS The sky is cloudy as over Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive as little flooding is reported in New Orleans, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry making landfall on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)  

Barry was moving so slowly, it was likely that heavy rain would continue throughout the weekend across Louisiana, Graham said. There were predictions of 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge with some parts of the state possible getting 25 inches (63 centimeters). Looking ahead, tracking forecasts showed the storm moving toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Water was flowing over a levee in Point Celeste in Plaquemines Parish, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said. He said crews were working to contain the water.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, and authorities took unprecedented precautions in closing floodgates and raising the barriers around New Orleans. Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans-area Hurricane Risk Reduction System since Katrina. Still, he said he didn’t expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running high from spring rains and melting snow upstream.

Rescue crews and about 3,000 National Guard troops were posted around Louisiana with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts.

There was one piece of good news: Late Friday night, forecasters said the Mississippi River was expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) on Monday, not 19 feet (5.8 meters) as had been earlier predicted. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.

On-again, off again rain hit New Orleans overnight. As day broke, streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp. Street sweepers rambled by. It was breezy, but flags on balconies overhanging the empty streets still occasionally fell limp. A few cars were out on roads. Some nearby homes had piled sandbags outside their doors.

“So far it’s been really nice. It’s been cool. It’s been a little breezy,” said Wayne Wilkinson, out with his dog in the French Quarter. He welcomed the pre-storm respite from July’s normal heat, but said he was mindful things could change: “I know we have to be on the alert.”

Baton Rouge , which was devastated by floods in 2016 , was similarly quiet Saturday, with puddles left from overnight rains, wind shaking the trees and only a few cars and trucks on thoroughfare Interstate 10. In Alabama, rain pounded the eastern shore of Mobile Bay overnight, with scattered power outages in communities including Daphne, along Interstate 10.

Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans , where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.”

Before they did, people packed stores to stock up on bottled water, food and other essentials.

Lifelong New Orleans resident Terrence Watkins grabbed supplies at a Costco. He said he has a few simple big-storm rules: “Stock up on water. Stock up food. Get ready for the storm — ride it out.”

Associated Press reporters Rebecca Santana in New Orleans and Sarah Blake Morgan in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Baton Rouge; and Rogelio Solis in Morgan City contributed to this report.

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Barry Weakens To Tropical Storm As It Hits Louisiana Coast

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carrying “off the chart” amounts of moisture, Barry crawled ashore Saturday in Louisiana and quickly weakened to a tropical storm that promised to dump heavy rains that could last for days and pose a test of the flood-prevention systems built after Hurricane Katrina 14 years ago.

The storm made landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, about 160 miles west of New Orleans, and its winds fell to 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the remote Isle de Jean Charles, south of New Orleans, where water rose so high that some residents clung to rooftops. But in the city, locals and tourists wandered through mostly empty streets under a light rain or stayed indoors.

Video showed water overtopping a levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans, where fingers of land extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico. Officials were still confident that the levees would hold firm.

More than 70,000 customers were without power Saturday morning, including nearly 67,000 in Louisiana and more than 3,000 in Mississippi, according to poweroutage.us.

Hours earlier, the storm had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), just above the 74 mph (120 kph) threshold to be a hurricane. Barry was expected to continue weakening and become a tropical depression on Sunday.

The system threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast.

During a storm update through Facebook Live, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham pointed to a computer screen showing a huge, swirling mess of airborne water. “That is just an amazing amount of moisture,” he said. “That is off the chart.”

Westlake Legal Group 5d29fe8b3b00003900dac4da Barry Weakens To Tropical Storm As It Hits Louisiana Coast

ASSOCIATED PRESS The sky is cloudy as over Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive as little flooding is reported in New Orleans, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry making landfall on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)  

Downpours also lashed coastal Alabama and Mississippi. Parts of Dauphin Island, a barrier island in Alabama 200 miles (322 kilometers) from where Barry was headed, were flooded both by rain and surging water from the Gulf, said Mayor Jeff Collier, who was driving around in a Humvee to survey damage. He said the island still had power early Saturday afternoon and wind damage was minimal.

Water was flowing over a “back levee” in Point Celeste in Plaquemines Parish, officials said in an automated telephone recording distributed to residents. The levee was not on the Mississippi River, and there was no indication that the barrier was breached or broken or that major flooding was occurring, the recording said.

Officials said they were worried the water could close Highway 23, cutting off a key road and the rest of the parish to the south. Much of Plaquemines Parish had been under an evacuation order since Thursday.

Barry was moving so slowly that heavy rain was expected to continue all weekend, with predictions of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Some parts of the state might get 25 inches (63 centimeters).

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell thanked residents for staying off the streets and urged them to remain vigilant because the worst of the wind and rain was yet to arrive.

“Although you may not have seen rainfall as we have been discussing, it is coming our way,” Cantrell said.

Forecasts showed the storm on a path toward Chicago that would swell the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, and authorities took closed floodgates and raised water barriers around New Orleans. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans area since Katrina in 2005. Still, he said he did not expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running high from spring rains and melting snow upstream.

The barriers range in height from about 20 feet to 25 feet (6 meters to 7.5 meters).

There was one piece of good news: Late Friday night, forecasters said the Mississippi River was expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) on Monday, not 19 feet (5.8 meters) as had been earlier predicted. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.

Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.”

“It’s moving really slowly,” New Orleans Councilwoman Helena Moreno said. “Because of that, there is concern it could be building as it just sits over the water. … We could feel a bigger impact.”

Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Sarah Blake Morgan in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Baton Rouge; Rogelio Solis in Morgan City; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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Video shows Mike Pence ‘callously’ turning back on caged migrants while touring border detention centres – One person said: ‘I saw not a single shred of pity or empathy in that empty man’s eyes’

Westlake Legal Group giA6v64COEJgomSagFmfeui_FHQnEPloeiFbNj4_zTM Video shows Mike Pence ‘callously’ turning back on caged migrants while touring border detention centres – One person said: 'I saw not a single shred of pity or empathy in that empty man’s eyes' r/politics

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