March 18, 2017

Still no answer from NSA on the number of Americans under “accidental” surveillance. “Under the Bush Administration and the first two years of the Obama Administration, it was not possible to conduct these back-door, warrantless searches of law-abiding Americans. Then the Obama Administration sought to change the rules and obtained authority to conduct them…. So the question really is what exactly is the privacy impact of these warrantless searches for Americans?”

Federal judge rules that FBI does not have to release information about its surveillance of journalists. “The suit came two years after The Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had secretly seized telephone records for as many as 20 lines used by the AP’s reporters and editors as part of an investigation in 2013 into the leak of a Yemeni-based terror plot. The DOJ has also investigated phone records of a Fox News correspondent as well as a Washington Post reporter.”

Trump refuses to shake Angela Merkel’s hand during press conference. “President Donald Trump has stood by claims he was wiretapped under Barack Obama, telling visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “At least we have something in common, perhaps.” (The Obama administration apologized for tapping Merkel’s phone.)

Democrats accuse head of Homeland Security of refusing to answer their questions on immigration enforcement. “To not even get a response,” said House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez (Calif.), “we feel like we are sending letters into a black hole.”

Consumers Union gives Trumpcare five Fs. “The report card was less than positive; in fact, the legislation got failing marks across the board.”

Fox News poll: Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, with a 61% approval rating. Approval ratings for the others mentioned in the poll were, “Vice President Mike Pence (47 percent); President Donald Trump (44 percent); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), with 39 percent; House Speaker Paul Ryan (37 percent); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (33 percent); Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (26 percent); and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (20 percent).”

Government declassifies some nuclear weapons test videos, posts them on YouTube. “An estimated 10,000 films exist; 4,200 scanned; and roughly 750 declassified. Now, 64 have been uploaded to YouTube as part of a digitization effort led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Greg Spriggs, who is hoping to use the videos to analyze the weapons’ data and dissuade their future use.”

Military’s nude photo scandal expands to gay porn sites. “The images reportedly depict men in uniforms from every branch on microblog Tumblr sites, with some showing the men participating in sex acts.”

Boeing vice president nominated for deputy secretary of defense post. “Shanahan was also vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Missile Defense Systems and vice president and general manager for the aerospace giant’s Rotorcraft Systems in Philadelphia. …including the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the CH-47 Chinook and the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter.”

Judge rules citizen has no right to request a special prosecutor in Chris Christie “Bridgegate” scandal. “It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crime. The role of the victim or the concerned citizen is to report knowledge of criminal activities to law enforcement.”

Boat and helicopter reportedly involved in attack on Somali refugees fleeing Yemen, at least 40 dead. “Mohamed al-Alay, a coast guard officer in the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah area, told Reuters the refugees, carrying official UNHCR documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan…”

International concern for Mosul’s civilian population far less than for citizens of Aleppo. “For instance, The New York Times dedicated only two major stories to the offensive this month, yet flooded its pages with heartrending stories during the siege of Aleppo. In addition, coalition actions in Mosul that result in civilian casualties, like the destruction of hospital complexes, are depicted as justified or unintentional, compared to the portrayal of Syrian and Russian strikes in east Aleppo as intentional war crimes when similar complexes were hit or civilians killed.”

Ralph Nader on Trump budget that boosts military spending while slashing domestic programs: “The mask is off. The fangs are now out.”

Disney agrees to wage settlement for Florida theme-park employees who made less than minimum wage after costume and uniform charges were deducted from their paychecks. “The company also failed to compensate employees for duties performed before the designated start of their shifts and failed to maintain accurate payroll records, the US Labor Department said Friday…”

Trump administration authorizes steep collection fees for students who default on some student loans. “At issue was a Minnesota woman who was charged $4,547 in fees for defaulting on $18,000 in student loans.”   It’s much more difficult for underemployed, impoverished people who have been taken to the cleaners by an educational institution to declare bankruptcy than it is for billionaire real estate moguls who speculated away millions on bad business deals, but it is possible. “The student loans must prevent her from maintaining a “minimal” standard of living, she needs to demonstrate a good-faith effort to maximize income and limit expenses, and she must show that her hardship is likely to continue for a “significant portion of the repayment period”.

Expedia reportedly expands its board of directors from 13 to 14, appoints Chelsea Clinton. “The most recent Expedia proxy puts that compensation at $295,000, consisting of a $45,000 cash retainer and $250,000 in trade-restricted stock.”

Russians reportedly own an estimated $98 million in Trump properties in Florida. “A Reuters review has found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.”

Strongsville, Ohio police release dashcam video of fatal shooting of unarmed motorist. “Footage… shows the officer’s cruiser ramming the van before the officer exits his vehicle and seconds later opens the van door. Three seconds later, the officer shoots Evans…”

Mentally ill man shot by Crockett County deputies after blocking exit ramp. “The statement from the (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) also says that Hess was “refusing officer commands and making erratic statements,” and the situation escalated after Hess “attempted to use his vehicle to strike the officers at least twice.”

San Jose police open fire on naked man during car chase. “When the suspect refused to stop, (San Jose Police Sgt. Enrique) Garcia said that multiple officers fired at the suspect.”

March 18, 2017

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