Fox News 2024-02-20 10:33:15


‘Mr. Wonderful’ slams New York, issues dire warning after massive ruling against Trump

O’Leary Ventures chief and “Shark Tank’s” “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary warned real estate investors against developing in New York following a state judge’s ruling that former President Trump must pay $355 million in punitive damages in his civil fraud case.

O’Leary told “Fox & Friends Weekend” to take the “Trump factor” out of the equation and look at the case as if it were any real estate developer with a marked presence in New York State.

“Forget about the Trump factor,” he said. “It’s not about that. What does this say to everybody that wants to do work in New York and wants to risk capital? … this judge arbitrarily decide[d] that this is the right amount. I don’t understand it. No developer does.”

TRUMP’S PENALTY CASE COULD CAUSE BIZ EXODUS FROM ‘LEGAL BANANA REPUBLIC’ NEW YORK

He added, “It’s an atrocity. It’s an embarrassment, but it’s an assault on real estate.”

O’Leary echoed his comments Monday on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” on FOX Business.

‘New York was already a loser state, like California is a loser state. There are many loser states because of policy, high taxes on competitive regulation,’ he said. ‘I would never invest in New York now. And I’m not the only person saying that.’ 

O’Leary said very few business sectors create the amount of cash flow that real estate does. What Trump was found liable for doing, he argued, is not too different from the typical “haggling” that goes on between a prospective debtor and a bank.

“You go to a bank and you say, ‘Look, I want to borrow $200 million to build a building’. And they say, ‘What assets do you have that we can secure this loan against?’ And you point to a building you built before, and you haggle, and you argue about the value of that building.”

With New York appearing to categorize some instances of that process as potentially fraudulent, O’Leary said New York has supplanted California as the top name on his list of “loser states” for business.

ERIC TRUMP CONDEMNS NY ‘SET-UP’: MY FATHER BUILT THE NYC SKYLINE, AND THIS IS HIS THANKS

O’Leary suggested developers and investors ignore the trend of incorporating on the coasts, except for Florida, and instead consider moves to incorporate in North Dakota, West Virginia, Texas or Oklahoma.

“These are ‘winner states’,” he said. “Why go to a ’loser state’ like New York?”

“Each of us as investors, we vote with our capital,” he said.

California, formerly at the top of his list, has been “putting itself out of business slowly-but-surely” with its adverse business climate, O’Leary said, adding Massachusetts and infamously high-tax New Jersey are close behind.

FOX Business host Charles Payne agreed with O’Leary on Monday, telling Fox News that his suggestion “no one should touch New York” incorporation wise is “absolutely right.”

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Payne said $1 trillion in business has already left New York largely for Florida and Texas, and that with Manhattan skyscrapers around 50% capacity, it appears unlikely they will return to full use. 

Payne added New York’s crime crisis and ever-increasing regulations are keeping businesses out of the states.

Biden faces fresh scrutiny over $200K payment from brother after damaging new report

A heavily scrutinized $200,000 check that President Biden received from his brother, James Biden, in 2018 has resurfaced in a new report detailing how the latter leaned heavily on his family’s influence to promote a now-defunct hospital chain targeted by the Department of Justice for fraud.

According to the report published Sunday by Politico, James centered his consulting work for Americore, a company that operated rural hospitals, on his leverage as a member of the Biden family, but those connections never materialized into more financing for the company before it ultimately collapsed.

Fox News Digital reported last year that Americore loaned James approximately $600,000 on the promise that his name could bring in funding from the Middle East. On the same day, $200,000 of the $600,000 was transferred to James’ personal bank account, prompting him to write Biden a $200,000 check from that same account.

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Politico said that its investigation of James’ work for Americore “did not find that Joe Biden involved himself in the firm or took actions on its behalf,” but that the president “did benefit indirectly from his brother’s work with the firm,” citing the $200,000 payment.

The White House has consistently denied that the money was anything other than repayment for a loan Biden previously gave James as a private citizen, and redacted bank records appear to show a $200,000 payment made to James just weeks earlier from a bank account belonging to Biden.

However, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have emphasized the payment, whether a loan or not, “aptly demonstrates one way [Biden] personally benefited from his family’s shady influence peddling of his name and their access to him.”

GOP SENATE HOPEFUL KEPT TIES TO GEORGE SOROS-BACKED GROUP WHERE HUNTER BIDEN SERVED ON BOARD

“Even if the transaction in question was part of a loan agreement, we are troubled that Joe Biden’s ability to recoup funds depends on his brother’s cashing-in on the Biden brand,” Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., told Fox News Digital in October.

James is expected to be interviewed as part of the committee’s impeachment inquiry against Biden on Feb. 21.

According to Politico, a number of former Americore executives said James, at the time, wanted to give Biden equity in the company, put him on its board, and promote its success in a future presidential campaign, none of which ever occurred due to the company’s failure.

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Americore is facing an ongoing $100 million federal prosecution after the DOJ found one of its hospitals allegedly undertook a scheme to defraud Medicare by billing the government for medically unnecessary lab tests. However, James has not been accused of any crime.

In December, a Chapter 11 trustee for Americore testified before the Oversight Committee that the $600,000 loan was provided to James with no documentation in return for the promise of funding from the Middle East that never came. 

Carol Fox told the committee she filed a lawsuit against James, saying he made “representations that his last name, ‘Biden,’ could ‘open doors’ and that he could obtain a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections.” 

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The suit was ultimately settled with James required to pay back $350,000 of the loan.

Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House and representatives of James Biden for comment.

Jen Garner, Ben Affleck could be linking up for new film, JLo gives fiery warning

Ben Affleck and ex-wife Jennifer Garner are reportedly in talks to team up for his upcoming movie. 

The 51-year-old actress, who was married to Affleck, 51, for 13 years from 2005 to 2018, is “in negotiations” to star opposite Matt Damon in the Netflix crime thriller, “Animals,” which will be directed and produced by her ex-husband, according to the Hollywood Reporter. 

The outlet reported Garner’s potential casting last Friday, days after Affleck and his second wife Jennifer Lopez starred together in a hit Super Bowl commercial. 

Lopez recently addressed the overwhelmingly positive response the ad received, saying on “Today with Hoda & Jenna,” “No… I know that everything [Ben] does is great … because he’s a brilliant director and writer … when he came up with the whole thing it was … hilarious.”

JENNIFER LOPEZ WARNS BEN AFFLECK IS OFF LIMITS, TELLING ANYONE WHO FLIRTS WITH HIM TO ‘STEP ALL THE WAY OFF’

While on the show, Lopez also issued a warning to anyone who flirts with her husband, “Don’t play with me. Do not play with me,” she stated before saying, “First of all, I’m a lover, not a fighter, but I will let them know in a very elegant and lady-like way to step all the way off.”

Written by screenwriters Connor McIntyre and Billy Ray, “Animals” will follow a politician and his wife who had “no choice but to get their hands dirty” to save their son after he is kidnapped. Damon is set to play the politician, while Garner would be portraying his wife.

BEN AFFLECK’S SUPER BOWL AD SUCCESS SURPRISED JENNIFER LOPEZ: ‘IT WAS HILARIOUS’

In addition to starring, Damon will produce the film alongside Affleck through their studio Artists Equity. Dani Bernfeld of Artists Equity and MakeReady’s Brad Weston and Collin Creighton are also producing.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, production on “Animals” could begin in March. 

Affleck has collaborated on-screen with Garner before, though this would be the first time that the two-time Oscar winner has directed her in a project.

The “Argo” star has also teamed up a number of times with Lopez, whom he married in July 2022. The couple fell in love after they met in 2001 on the set of the 2003 romantic comedy crime movie “Gigli,” in which they both starred. 

In the movie, Affleck played Larry Gigli, a mob enforcer who teams up with female gangster Ricki (Lopez) to kidnap the intellectually challenged brother of a federal prosecutor at the behest of Gigli’s boss. Though Lopez’s character is a lesbian, she and Gigli embark on a romance and eventually run away together.

At the time, Affleck and Lopez’s relationship was heavily publicized, and their high-profile pairing famously earned them the nickname “Bennifer.” The two worked together again in 2002 when Affleck made a cameo appearance in the singer’s music video for her iconic song “Jenny From the Block.”

Affleck played Lopez’s love interest in the video, in which the two are seen packing on the PDA on a boat. The video also poked fun at the tabloid frenzy around their relationship.

In November 2002, Affleck and Lopez announced their engagement. That year, the two starred together again in the comedy-drama “Jersey Girl,” in which Lopez played the deceased wife of Affleck’s character while Liv Tyler played his new love interest.

“Gigli” was released in August 2003 and bombed at the box office, taking in $7.2 million against a $75.6 million budget. The movie was also overwhelmingly panned by critics, many of whom noted that Affleck and Lopez “lacked chemistry” despite their real-life romance.

In September 2003, Affleck and Lopez postponed their nuptials just a few days before they were set to walk down the aisle. They eventually ended their engagement in January 2004 after two years together. 

Released in March 2004, “Jersey Girl” was a box office disappointment, grossing $36 million against a $35 million budget.

Affleck went on to date Garner in August 2004 and the two married in June 2005. The former couple, who shared daughters Violet, 18, Seraphina, 15, and son Samuel, 11, separated in 2015 and finalized their divorce in 2018.

Lopez married Marc Anthony, 53, in June 2004, but the two, who are parents to 15-year-old twins Max and Emme, divorced in June 2014. 

JENNIFER LOPEZ, BEN AFFLECK PACK ON PDA DURING PARIS HONEYMOON

After the “On the Floor” hitmaker ended her engagement to Alex Rodriguez in March 2021, she and Affleck rekindled their romance. Twenty years after Affleck first appeared in one of Lopez’s music video, he made a brief but intimate cameo in her video for her ballad “Marry Me” in March 2022.

The “Good Will Hunting” actor’s face was not shown in the video, but he and Lopez were seen relaxing and laughing in bed and holding hands. A month later, Lopez announced that the couple were engaged for the second time.

The pair surprised fans when they announced that they tied the knot in July 2022 during a midnight ceremony at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas

A month later, the two married again during an extravagant three-day celebration at Affleck’s sprawling estate in Riceboro, Georgia.  

Since tying the knot, the couple have continued to collaborate on professional projects, including two commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts, which has a brand partnership with Affleck.

Last year, they appeared in an ad in which Affleck worked as a Dunkin’ employee, and Lopez acted as a customer in the drive-thru.

The couple were featured in a star-studded Dunkin’ Donuts commercial that aired during Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11. In the ad, Affleck teamed up with Damon and Tom Brady to form the boy band The DunKings for Dunkin’.

Clad in pink and orange Dunkin’ tracksuits, the trio surprised Lopez in her studio where she is seen drinking from a sparkly Dunkin’ cup during a recording session with rapper Fat Joe.

The ad was a hit with fans and ranked among the best Super Bowl LVIII commercials. 

Affleck made a surprise cameo in Lopez’s cinematic musical film “This Is Me…Now: A Love Story,” which premiered on Feb. 16. The movie is a companion to her album of the same name, which was released on the same day and was largely inspired by her rekindled romance with Affleck.

The actor played several roles in the movie. He was seen only from a distance with Lopez as they rode a motorcycle. In another part of the film, Affleck appeared unrecognizable as a blonde newscaster wearing a wig and prosthetics. 

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Near the end of the movie, Affleck was seen walking up to Lopez while she was attending her friend’s wedding, though his face is partially obscured. The scene then cuts to the couple riding off together on the motorcycle.

Meanwhile, in the song “Greatest Love Story Never Told,” Lopez sings about their intimacy, “Missing your body / Climbing on top of me / Slipping inside of me / Way that I ride it / Bodies aligning / Look at our timing.” She also calls their romance “destiny,” noting that they “found each other twice in one lifetime.”

The couple co-wrote the film along with its director Dave Meyers and Chris Shafer. The movie will be followed by a music documentary titled “The Greatest Love Story Never Told,” which stars Lopez, Affleck and Jane Fonda, among others.

“The Greatest Love Story Never Told” will be released on Feb. 27.  

“She is thrilled that both the album and movie are doing so well,” a source told the Daily Mail about “This Is Me… Now” and the film being No. 1 on iTunes and in the top spot on Amazon Prime.

“She had a feeling her fans would react in a positive way to ‘This Is Me… Now’ because it is so personal. It is her vision and a show of her creative freedom.”

Meanwhile, Garner’s potential casting in “Animals” would mark the first time that she and Affleck have worked together since 2005.

The former couple first met in 2000 on the set of the 2001 romantic war drama “Pearl Harbor.” In the movie, Affleck played the role of Capt. Rafe McCawley, a U.S. Army Air Force pilot who becomes involved in a love triangle with his best friend Capt. Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) and nurse Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) against the backdrop of World War II and the Pearl Harbor attack.

Garner had a small role as Sandra, a nurse and Evelyn’s colleague. At the time, she was married to her former “Felicity” co-star Scott Foley.

“Pearl Harbor” was a success at the box office but received mostly negative reviews from critics.

In 2003, the two co-starred in the superhero movie “Daredevil.” Affleck played Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who has a secret identity as the crime-fighting masked vigilante Daredevil. Garner portrayed the assassin Elecktra Natchios, the love interest of Affleck’s character.

Affleck was engaged to Lopez, and Garner was still married to Foley at the time. However, the co-stars struck up a friendship and began dating in the summer of 2004 following their respective splits.

“Daredevil” was a box office hit, raking in $179.2 million against a $78 million budget, but the reaction from critics was mixed. Garner starred in a 2005 sequel titled “Elektra,” which was a critical and commercial failure.

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Affleck reprized his role as Matt Murdock/Daredevil in a cameo appearance in “Elektra.” In 2004, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that he made the cameo at Garner’s request. Affleck’s one scene with Garner was ultimately cut from the movie.

In a 2013 interview with Playboy via Business Insider, Affleck said that “Daredevil” was the only movie that he regretted starring in, though he noted that there was one positive outcome.

“That’s where I found my wife,” he said. We met on ‘Pearl Harbor,’ which people hate, but we fell in love on ‘Daredevil.’”

After “Gigli” bombed, Affleck starred in a series of other flops. Affleck told Playboy that he “sunk into a morass” and considered leaving Hollywood behind.

He credited Garner with inspiring him to continue with his career in the entertainment industry.

“Getting to know her, falling in love with her and being connected with her gave me a foundation to reach out and say, “Okay, I’m going to do Hollywoodland; I’m going to direct ‘Gone Baby Gone,’” Affleck said. “Those were the steps forward I needed to put positive stuff on the board.”

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Affleck made his directorial debut with the 2007 crime thriller “Gone Baby Gone,” which was met with positive reviews from critics and became a box office success. In 2012, Affleck directed, produced and starred in the historical drama thriller “Argo,” which was a hit and won three Academy Awards.

However, Affleck told Playboy that fans should not expect him to reunite with Garner on screen.

“My wife and I made ‘Pearl Harbor’ and ‘Daredevil,’” he told Playboy. “With our track record, I don’t know if anyone’s looking for a three-quel.”

Though they ultimately went their separate ways, Affleck and Garner have maintained a friendship and amicable co-parenting relationship. While Affleck previously ruled out the possibility of acting with Garner again, he has never addressed whether he would be open to directing her in a project.

During a 2016 appearance on CBS’ “This Morning,” the Boston native praised his ex-wife as a “real talent.”

“I am a giant fan of Jennifer. She’s just a fabulous person. She’s just a wonderful person,”he said “She’s a great mother. She’s a real talent. She has set such a good example and a lead that I follow. She’s somebody that I admire and respect and remain excellent friends with.”

Critics respond after Biden goes behind Netanyahu’s back to propose Israel peace plan

JERUSALEM — The Biden administration is reportedly taking its goal of a temporary cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war to the U.N. Security Council as early as Tuesday. 

The administration is said to have proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution which in part would call for a temporary cease-fire and call on Israel not to go into Rafah in the Gaza Strip. 

According to Reuters, the U.S. text states in part that it “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries.”

Richard Goldberg, a former NSC official during the Trump administration, told Fox News Digital, “The United States should be vetoing pro-Hamas resolutions, not proposing them. By putting forward a resolution calling for a ceasefire and opposing Israeli military action in Rafah, the White House is effectively pushing for Hamas to survive to massacre another day. This is a complete betrayal of U.S. interests and values.”

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A senior administration official speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity said, “We don’t believe a rush to a vote is necessary or constructive and intend on allowing time for negotiations.”

The Jewish state has hitherto opposed President Biden’s attempts to torpedo its slated seizure of Rafah where one of the last bastions of Hamas terrorists and hostages, including Americans, are believed to be located.

On Friday, President Biden made clear his feelings about Israel going into Rafah, telling reporters, “I’m hoping that the Israelis will not make a massive land invasion.”

Biden added during the same press conference that he had engaged with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the situation and that he had made the case in calling for a temporary cease-fire so that hostage negotiations can continue.

“The world must know and Hamas leaders must know if our hostages are not home by Ramadan, the fighting will continue and expand to Rafah,” said Benny Gantz, an Israeli security cabinet member and leader of the opposition party. Ramadan starts on March 11.

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the decision was one Israel would take on its own: “Hamas is left with marginal [forces] in the central camps and with the Rafah Brigade, and what stands between them and a complete collapse as a military system is a decision by the IDF.”

Commentators have noted that the hostage release talks in Cairo are stagnate and Israeli forces have managed to free two hostages via limited incursions into Rafah last week.

Gallant fired back at the international voices opposed to an invasion into Rafah: “There is no one here to come to their aid, no Iranians, no international aid.”

He continued, “There were 24 regional battalions in Gaza – we have dismantled 18 of them,” Gallant said during a media briefing last week. “Now, Rafah is the next Hamas center of gravity.”

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “We have also been clear that a full-scale Israel military operation in Rafah should not proceed until there is a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than 1 million people sheltering there.”

According to the State Department spokesperson, “The best way to achieve an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza that provides lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike, is our strong commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state. As such, the United States continues to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.”

BIDEN ADMIN CONTINUES PUSH FOR 2-STATE SOLUTION AS CRITICS WARN: ‘EFFORTS REPEATEDLY FAIL’

Yigal Carmon, who was a colonel in Israel’s military intelligence service, told Fox News Digital, “The Rafah crossing was the major area through which the worst smuggling operation went on for years when it was in the hands of the Egyptian government. If this is not stopped, there will be no end to the war and no end to war, particularly heavy missiles on Tel Aviv and its surroundings. The seizure of Rafah will limit the war significantly.”

He added, “If the U.S. administration has a miraculous way to convince Egypt to fulfill its commitment, then there would be no need for an operation. Unfortunately, the United States does not pressure Egypt even though it has all the capabilities to do that. But what remains is to pressure Israel, but this will not work because what is at stake is missiles on Tel Aviv, and Netanyahu cannot afford to end the war with [a] continued flow of missiles on Tel Aviv.”

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Carmon, the founder and president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, on Aug. 31 predicted an Iran-backed Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, which became reality on Oct. 7.

When asked why Biden is imposing pressure on Israel, Goldberg, a senior advisor at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies said, “There are lines being pushed that it’s all about Dearborn, or that it’s all about securing Saudi-Israel peace, but the polling out of Michigan and the strategic priorities in Riyadh don’t back up these arguments. It looks more like left-wing ideologues using the pretext of political necessity and the potential of a Saudi-Israel normalization deal to jam through all the bad ideas that never made it into policy for years.”

Fox News Digital reported that Biden is putting Israel in a vice in order to win over the large American-Muslim vote in Dearborn, Michigan, which is a critical swing state in his 2024 reelection campaign.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, “The release of hostages can be achieved through strong military action and tough negotiations, very tough negotiations. That tough position has to involve the exertion of pressure. And the exertion of pressure is not merely on Hamas itself but on those who can exert pressure on Hamas, beginning with Qatar.”

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Netanyahu added, “Qatar can press Hamas as no one else can. They host Hamas leaders. Hamas is dependent on them financially. I urge you to press Qatar to press Hamas because we want our hostages released. I hope that we can achieve a deal soon, to release more of our hostages. But deal or no deal, we have to finish the job to get total victory.”

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Dems join heavily funded effort to oust progressive city council member in crime-ridden city

Democratic operatives have joined an effort to recall a progressive Washington, D.C. councilmember over his criminal justice reform policies, raising tens of thousands of dollars since the campaign launched in December.

Capitol Hill resident Jennifer Squires began the effort to oust Councilmember Charles Allen amid an escalating crime surge in the nation’s capital. By February, the campaign had already raised over $56,000 and garnered support from Democratic political fundraisers and congressional staffers, including former President Obama superdelegate and Democrat lobbyist Moses Mercado, according to campaign filings

“Crime has become a real issue in the District with lasting consequences,” Squires said in a statement in January. “As a mother whose children used to walk to school daily across Capitol Hill, it’s really frightening.”

“A growing group of us watched as our Councilman, someone I voted for, systematically did the exact opposite things he should be doing to keep us safe,” she said. 

In response to the recall effort, Allen pointed to his efforts to recruit more police officers with a $25,000 dollar signing bonus for new hires and helping pass anti-gun laws, such as increasing penalties for dangerous automatic weapons.

“This recall effort is misleading and misinformed,” Allen said in a statement to WUSA9. “I’ve worked to hold criminals accountable with strong laws and bring a whole of government approach to reducing crime long-term.”

Democrats supporting the recall effort include former House aide and TikTok lobbyist Michael Hacker, fundraiser Tonya Fulkerson and the chief of staff for Rep. Dan Kildee, Mitchell Rivard, Bloomberg reported. Around 100 people attended the first volunteer event on Thursday and at least a dozen hands raised after recall organizers asked who had been carjacked, the campaign wrote on X.

“I did national politics, not local politics,” Mercado said during the event, The Washington Post reported. “But I realized — I had a conversation with my wife about what if something happens, God forbid, somebody carjacks her?”

BLUE CITY’S RAMPANT VIOLENCE LED THIS FORMER DC RESIDENT TO FLEE THE CRIME-RIDDEN CAPITAL

Allen supporters have criticized the effort, including former councilmember and longtime D.C. resident Tommy Wells, who filed for an anti-recall committee and fundraising effort in support of Allen on Thursday, Axios reported. Wells argued that Allen has widespread support after three consecutive election victories and criticized the recall effort for also attracting significant Republican support. 

5 MONTHS. 5 BURGLARIES. ANOTHER RESTAURANT SHUTTERS AS CRIME PUSHES BUSINESSES TO BRINK IN BLUE CITY

“The voters of Ward 6 overwhelmingly reelected, Charles Allen, one year ago,” Wells told Fox News in an emailed statement. “The people who launched this recall are upset about actions that Allen took long before his reelection, and now they are diverting his time and energy from doing his job, including fighting crime. They should be working with him and his team instead of devoting time and money to overturning the will of the voters.” 

“The recall effort is playing into the hands of right wing Republicans, who claim that Democrats are mismanaging US cities, and that DC in particular does not deserve home rule,” Wells said. “These are the same Republicans who prevent sensible gun controls that would go far in reducing violent crime in a city awash in guns.”

But Squires, a fellow longtime Washington resident, said the neighborhood has worsened under Allen’s watch. She defended Republican support for the recall campaign and said they were welcome during a Thursday event, according to The Washington Post.

It’s “not about politics,” Squires said Thursday, reiterating that the campaign is focused on tackling the city’s crime crisis

“This is basically a campaign about ideas and trying to convince this man he’s got the wrong ideas,” Squires said about Allen’s criminal justice reform policies. “I don’t care if you’re Republican, I don’t care who you are — especially if you live in Ward 6. That’s his constituency.”

As crime has dipped in some major cities across the country, the nation’s capital has faced skyrocketing crime, ending 2023 with 274 murders — the most in over two decades, according to Metropolitan Police Department data. Robberies and thefts spiked 67% and 23%, respectively, while motor vehicle thefts almost doubled.

SURGING CRIME, COSTS FORCED 52 BUSINESSES TO SHUTTER IN THIS BLUE CITY LAST YEAR. ANOTHER IS ABOUT TO CLOSE

The recall campaign condemned Allen, who served as the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee’s chair from 2017 to 2022, for shepherding a criminal code reform last year that would have lowered penalties for certain offenses like burglaries and carjackings had Congress and President Biden not blocked the legislation. The councilmember was also criticized for his proposal that slashed millions from the police budget in 2020 and was accused of supporting progressive legislation enabling criminals. 

Allen’s actions “to open the jail doors for violent offenders while slashing the police department budget is having real consequences,” Squires told Fox News in her statement. “We are now seeing the results of his failed leadership and misguided policies.”

But Wells said Allen strengthened the community’s parks, retail shops and libraries, The Washington Post reported. 

“They’ve moved to a fabulous place, and they’re upset and angry, and that’s understandable,” Wells said about residents fed up over crime. “Their focus is on Charles. But they also have to remember: Why did they move there to begin with? This is a great place that Charles helped create.”

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On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C. Board of Elections issued an official petition for the recall, The Washington Post reported. Recall organizers have 180 days to collect around 6,000 signatures in order to move forward with a recall election. 

Allen did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment. 

Midwest state asks residents to empower illegal migrants within society as crisis rages

Michigan is asking residents to help house migrants in their homes and help resettle them into society as the crisis at the southern border continues. 

The state Department of Labor and Economic Development said volunteers who wish to participate must commit for at least 90 days as part of the refugee support program. 

“Programs like the Welcome Corps advance the Office of Global Michigan’s mission to make Michigan the home for opportunity for our immigrant, refugee and ethnic communities,” said Poppy Hernandez, Global Michigan Director and Michigan’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. “Expanded refugee resettlement pathways empower more Michiganders to support our state’s growing refugee population and build a more welcoming and inclusive Michigan for all.” 

Sponsors would be expected to support newly arrived refugees by greeting them at the airport, securing and preparing initial housing, enrolling children in school and helping adults find employment. 

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The migrants will come from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all points of origin where many have been hoping to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development for more information.

The request comes as multiple cities are grappling with how to house and provide services to newly arrived migrants from the southern border. 

ILLINOIS ALLOCATING $250M TO PAY FOR MIGRANT CRISIS IN CHICAGO

Cities like New York and Chicago have also dealt with issues related to migrants committing crimes, as well as pushback from residents who have voiced anger and concern over the influx. Migrant shelters in those cities have largely been full, forcing officials to come up with ways to safely house the migrants. 

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Last year, Massachusetts officials asked residents to open their doors as migrant shelters were full at the time.

“Most importantly, if you have an extra room or suite in your home, please consider hosting a family. Housing and shelter is our most pressing need and become a sponsor family,” said Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. 

Largest-ever COVID vaccine study identifies associated risks

The largest COVID vaccine study to date has identified some risks associated with the shot.

Researchers from the Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) in New Zealand analyzed 99 million people who received COVID vaccinations across eight countries.

They monitored for increases in 13 different medical conditions in the period after people received a COVID vaccine.

The study, which was published in the journal Vaccine last week, found that the vaccine was linked to a slight increase in neurological, blood and heart-related medical conditions, according to a press release from GVDN.

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People who received certain types of mRNA vaccines were found to have a higher risk of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle.

Some viral-vector vaccines were linked to a higher risk of blood clots in the brain, as well as an increased likelihood of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

Other potential risks included inflammation of part of the spinal cord after viral vector vaccines, and inflammation and swelling in the brain and spinal cord after viral vector and mRNA vaccines, the press release stated.

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“The size of the population in this study increased the possibility of identifying rare potential vaccine safety signals,” lead author Kristýna Faksová of the Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark, said in the release.

“Single sites or regions are unlikely to have a large enough population to detect very rare signals.”

Doctors react to the findings

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, was not involved in the research but commented on the findings.

“The massive study and review of the data reveals some rare association of the MRNA vaccines and myocarditis, especially after the second shot, as well as an association between the Oxford Astra Zeneca adenovirus vector vaccines and Guillain Barre syndrome,” he told Fox News Digital.

“But these risks are rare,” he added, “and other studies show that the vaccine decreases the risk of myocarditis from COVID itself dramatically.”

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Siegel noted that all vaccines have side effects.

“It always comes down to a risk/benefit analysis of what you are more afraid of — the vaccine’s side effects or the virus itself, which can have long-term side effects in terms of brain fog, fatigue, cough and also heart issues,” he said.

“Denying or exaggerating a vaccine’s side effects is not good science — nor is underestimating the risks of the virus, especially in high-risk groups,” Siegel added.

“It comes down to a risk/benefit analysis of what you are more afraid of — the vaccine’s side effects or the virus itself.”

The key is for doctors and their patients to carefully weigh the risks and benefits, the doctor emphasized.

“This study does not really change anything; it just provides much further evidence of what we already know,” he said.

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Dr. Jacob Glanville, CEO of Centivax, a San Francisco biotechnology company, also reacted to the study’s findings. 

“This study is confirming in a much larger cohort what has been previously identified in the original studies during the pandemic — myocarditis and pericarditis as a rare side effect of mRNA vaccines and clots as a rare side effect of the viral vectored vaccines,” he told Fox News Digital.

“The odds of all of these adverse events are still much, much higher when infected with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), so getting vaccinated is still by far the safer choice.”

This study was part of a more widespread research initiative, the Global COVID Vaccine Safety (GCoVS) Project.

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The project is supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

More than 80% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, per the CDC.

Fox News Digital reached out to Pfizer and Moderna, makers of mRNA COVID vaccines, for comment.

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Student, teacher bond beyond the classroom after their health takes turn for the worse

A 6-year-old girl and her kindergarten teacher have something very special in common: matching scars from their open-heart surgeries.

Kennedy Vogt is a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida, where her teacher, Carlene Honor, also underwent heart surgery.

The school intentionally paired them up — creating a bond of “heart twins” that goes far beyond the classroom.

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Vogt was just 5 years old when a trip to the emergency room for flu and pneumonia led to the surprise diagnosis of a hole in her heart about the size of a nickel.

“It’s a rare congenital heart defect that affects the structure of the heart while it’s formed during pregnancy,” Dr. Matthew Zussman, a pediatric cardiologist at AdventHealth for Children, who is also the girl’s doctor, told Fox News Digital.

“Specifically, Kennedy had what’s known as an atrial septal defect, which causes a hole in the upper heart chambers and increases the amount of blood flowing through the lungs,” he went on. 

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While the defect doesn’t usually cause complications during childhood, it can lead to heart and lung disease in adulthood if it goes untreated, the doctor said.

The diagnosis was a shock to the family, as Vogt — an active, happy child and aspiring gymnast — had not displayed any warning signs. 

Open-heart surgery was necessary to close the hole in her heart due to its location. 

“The operation involves making an incision along the breastbone, connecting the patient to a heart-lung bypass machine and patching the hole,” Zussman said.

In May 2023, Vogt underwent open-heart surgery at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando.

“It was definitely hard, but everyone was wonderful and the surgery went smoothly,” said Kristin Green-Vogt, the girl’s mom. “Everything went as perfectly as that situation can go.”

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“I just thank God for modern medicine,” she added, referring to her daughter’s surgery scar as “a badge of honor.”

After just three days in the hospital, Vogt was back to her normal activities, practicing cartwheels and going to school.

“The thing people don’t realize about kids and open-heart surgery is how resilient kids are,” Zussman said. “What takes an adult patient months to recover from only takes kids a few days, and that was definitely true in Kennedy’s case.”

Bond beyond the classroom

At Lake Island Preparatory School, Vogt formed a fast connection with Honor, who lives in East Orlando with her husband, a retired Air Force member. 

Carlene Honor has been teaching for 13 years.

Five years ago, Honor had a heart attack while attending a girls basketball game at the school.

“I stood up to hug someone and then just kind of passed out,” she told Fox News Digital. “But I was very blessed to be at Lake Highland when it happened.”

Fortunately, one of the fathers of a cheerleader at the game happened to be an AdventHealth doctor, and there was an automated external defibrillator (AED) available.

“It was just God’s timing,” Honor said. “Everything lined up to save my life.”

“I thank God that He allowed our paths to cross.”

After undergoing quintuple coronary bypass surgery, she made a full recovery — and is now feeling healthy and strong.

Looking back, Honor recognizes some warning signs she missed, such as shortness of breath and fatigue.

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“I tell everybody now: Listen to your body,” Honor said. “From that point on, I made a commitment to myself to do better when it comes to my health.”

Since the surgery, Honor has lost 70 pounds. She is now more disciplined about walking every day and keeping up with doctor’s appointments.

As soon as Honor heard about Vogt’s surgery, she said she was anxious to meet her.

“I wanted her to know that she can have a normal life just like anybody else, even with a scar,” she said. 

Honor described Vogt as “amazing within herself.”

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“I thank God that He allowed our paths to cross,” she said. “I get to teach a variety of students, but she is just remarkable. She has a great personality — very outgoing, lively, super funny, somewhat of a perfectionist, but very easy to love.”

At first, Honor assumed she would have to take care of Vogt, but she quickly realized the girl didn’t need to be “handled with kid gloves.”

“She’s so independent, so self-sufficient — just a great all-around student,” she said. “I consider Kennedy and her mom to be family.”

“Pediatricians are often the first line of defense in diagnosing heart defects, so it’s important that children have regular check-ups.”

Vogt’s mother described her daughter and teacher as “tough cookies.”

“This was just a speed bump for them,” she told Fox News Digital. “They’re happy to share it and I hope help other people, but it’s not their full story.”

In Nov. 2023, Vogt and Honor did the local American Heart Association Heart Walk together, along with more than 15,000 people from the Greater Orlando area.

Vogt was named the ambassador of the event; she kicked off the walk in a red pace car.

“It was amazing,” said Vogt’s mother. “For me personally, it was like closure. Everybody rallied around us. It just was really special.”

Heart disease in kids

While congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect in the U.S., they are still fairly rare, affecting only about 1% of births, or about 40,000 children per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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“Kennedy was diagnosed with an even rarer atrial septal defect, which only accounts for about 20,000 medical cases a year,” said Zussman, Vogt’s doctor at AdventHealth for Children.

Since Vogt’s surgery, she’s had regular visits for ultrasounds and for doctors to listen to her heart — and Zussman said the team is “ecstatic” about how well she’s doing. 

“During her last appointment a few weeks ago, I actually told Kennedy and her mom that we probably only have one appointment left before she’s ready to transition to just seeing her pediatrician again,” he said.

“That’s a testament to our incredible team of congenital heart disease experts and elite pediatric cardiovascular surgeons at AdventHealth for Children.”

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The cause of congenital heart defects is not entirely known, the cardiologist noted, while other types of heart disease that develop later in life are often caused by lifestyle habits.  

Every child is different, and some don’t display clear-cut symptoms of heart defects.

“I can think of children we’ve treated who were balls of energy — playing, happy, showing absolutely no signs that anything was wrong with their heart,” the doctor said.

That said, there are some warning signs parents should be aware of, Zussman noted.

“Those include shortness of breath; fatigue; swelling of the legs, feet or belly; abnormal heart palpitations; and trouble physically keeping up with friends and classmates,” he said. 

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“Pediatricians are often the first line of defense in diagnosing heart defects, so it’s important that children have regular check-ups,” Zussman advised. 

“If you’re concerned about a possible heart issue, trust your instincts and ask for a referral to see a cardiologist.”

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Chemical found in popular breakfasts linked to potential health issues, study says

A pesticide linked to reproductive and developmental issues in animals was found in oat-based foods sold in the U.S., including under major brand names like Cheerios and Quaker Oats, according to a recent peer-reviewed study. 

Chlormequat was detected in 80% of people tested in three geographical regions of the U.S. between 2017 and 2023, according to the study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Researchers also found that “the concentrations detected in 2023 samples were significantly higher than previous years’ samples.”

While some studies published in the National Library of Medicine linked the chemical to reproductive or development issues in animals, it raises “questions about whether it could also harm humans,” EWG researchers noted.

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EWG is a nonprofit American activist group specializing in research and advocacy in areas such as agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability. 

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In 2018, researchers noted that the Environmental Protection Agency published acceptable food tolerance levels for chlormequat chloride in imported oat, wheat, barley, as well as some animal products. In 2020, allowable levels were then increased for oats, the study said.

The use of chlormequat on food crops like wheat, oats and barley, decreases the stem height of the plants, making them less likely to bend over and easier to harvest, according to EWG.

Along with testing the pesticide in humans, researchers simultaneously studied the levels of chlormequat in oat and wheat-based products purchased in the U.S. in 2022 and 2023 and identified “detectable levels of chlormequat in all but two of 25 conventional oat-based products.” 

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In certain cases, the concentration was non-detectable while other products showed a “high prevalence of chlormequat in oats.”

In May 2023, EWG said it detected the chemical in 92% of oat-based foods, including Quaker Oats and Cheerios.

Quaker Oats, which is owned by PepsiCo, told FOX Business that the company stands “by the safety and quality” of its products. 

“We have a comprehensive food safety management system in place. We adhere to all regulatory guidelines to ensure the safest, highest quality products for our consumers,” the company said in a statement.

General Mills, which owns the Cheerios brand, said that all of its products “adhere to all regulatory requirements.” 

“Food safety is always our top priority at General Mills, and we take care to ensure our food is prepared and packaged in the safest way possible,” the company added.