December 30, 2018

Fulton county, Georgia district attorney sues federal government for information on deadly police/U.S. Marshals raid in which a black man named Jamarion Robinson was shot 59 times. “(A lawsuit filed by the man’s family) accused police of knocking at the apartment door, then immediately breaking it down and “spraying” with 9 mm and .40 mm submachine guns and .40 mm Glock pistols.”–law/fulton-suing-feds-for-records-after-police-shoot-man-times/2lqXeQbfdo78DJtv870iJN/   The medical examiner’s report says Jamarion’s body was dragged down the stairs after the raid – the family’s lawyer accuses law enforcement agencies of a cover up.

President Trump tweets that Democrats are responsible for the deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody. “Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally.”

California bans retail sales of most pets. “(The law) says pet stores can only sell cats, dogs and rabbits that come from local rescue groups, shelters or animal control agencies.”

Saudi government accused of assisting one of its citizens to jump bail and return to Saudi Arabia, to escape a manslaughter charge in Oregon. “Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals Service now believe (Abdulrahman Semeer Noorah) left his southeast Portland neighborhood in a black SUV and later used an illicit passport and private plane — likely provided by the Saudi government — to flee the country.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo brings an alien mask to news conference at which he tells New Yorkers aliens were NOT involved in ‘blue glow’ incident. “The governor said Friday the incident that caused power outages and grounded some flights at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday night was an electrical malfunction.”

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $575 million to settle state lawsuits. “Instead of safeguarding its customers, Wells Fargo exploited them, signing them up for products – from bank accounts to insurance – that they never wanted.”

UK’s Royal Mail botches D-Day commemorative stamp by using picture of U.S. troops landing in New Guinea. “Wrong theatre; wrong date; wrong vessel; wrong troops.”

Lawyer for illegal migrant caught working at Trump golf course claims her supervisor provided her with a fake green card and Social Security number. “(Anibal) Romero said he turned over fake green cards and Social Security numbers that supervisors at the golf club allegedly gave one of his clients, Victorina Morales, a 44-year-old Guatemalan national.”

1979 documentary on Vietnam anti-war protests re-released. “Michael Moore recently praised (The War at Home), calling it ‘one of the best documentaries ever made’.”   Trailer:

Is Facebook censorship the result of incompetence or political pressure? “Facebook ‘is intervening into political and social matters the world over’, acting ‘like an unseen branch of government’, and ‘is doing this all on the cheap, shipping disorganized PowerPoint slides to outsourcing companies it can barely control. And it is making many, many mistakes along the way.'” Versus…. “Facebook has been aggressively deleting the pages of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian voices for at least 18 months, obeying the demands of the Israeli govt. Congrats to those who thought it was a good idea for Silicon Valley to act as paternal censor & guardian of the internet.”

Federal appeals court rules in favor of whistle-blower who was fired by United Airlines over aircraft maintenance complaints. “By declining to review claims by relators like (David) Grant, we close the courthouse doors to allegations of dangerous misconduct, including in this case the egregious example of military aircraft allegedly receiving sub-standard or nonexistent maintenance services.”


December 30, 2018

December 28, 2018

Kurdish leftists in northern Syria, fearing Turkish attack, seek new allies after announcement of U.S. withdrawal. “We have made contact with Russia, France and European Union countries to help,” said Badran Jia Kurd, a senior Kurdish official who went to Moscow last week for talks with Russian foreign ministry officials. “It is the responsibility of the Syrian government to protect the borders of this region and this is under discussion.”

Chinese police reportedly detain student leader over leftist activism. “Qiu Zhanxuan, head of the Peking University Marxist Society, said he was approached on Wednesday morning at a subway station by plainclothes police who said they wanted him to answer questions about an event he was organizing to celebrate Mao’s birthday.”

Man in charge of George Bush inauguration says Trump inauguration numbers don’t add up. “They actually raised more than twice the amount that we raised…. We had three times as many staff and four times as many events. So where that money went, I couldn’t tell you.”

HSBC ends its financial relationship with Israeli military contractor. “Human rights campaigners have declared a victory as global banking giant HSBC confirmed that it has divested completely from Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems after a year of campaign pressure.”

Mongolians turn out in bitter cold to protest against political corruption. “Organisers estimated nearly 25,000 people turned out for the protest on Thursday.”

Saudi dissent in Canada recalls invitation to visit embassy. “(Saudi security agents) told him (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) liked him and wanted him back in Saudi Arabia, he told (Middle East Eye). “I said, ‘OK thank you’, but I didn’t buy it.” When he refused their offer, he said they tried to get him to visit the Saudi embassy in Ottawa to pick up a new passport instead.”

Light that lit up New York City night sky was reportedly from an exploding electrical transformer. “The New York fire department confirmed they had received multiple reports of explosions in the Long Island City and Astoria area, to which they had responded. At 10:15pm they reported the incident was under control and there were no reported injuries and no fire.”

Sunken Gulf of Mexico oil platform still leaking oil after 14 years. “To date, the Taylor spill has released as much as 140m gallons of oil into the Gulf…. federal officials estimate the uncapped wells could continue polluting the Gulf for decades, perhaps even a century.”

NFL player suspects he is being harassed for anthem protests. “Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid has been drug tested seven times in 11 weeks since his return to the NFL. And he has been on the receiving end of a number of what we will politely describe as questionable penalties.”

Only 19% of those polled say they would choose to spend $5 billion on a border wall. “The best-polling use of funds was paying healthcare expenses for a half-million people, backed by 36% of respondents. A further 30% thought infrastructure would most benefit from the funding, while 15% would fund pre-K programs.”

Companies running immigrant detention centers reportedly raked in an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018. “According to the Daily Beast‘s Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget records show that for-profit immigrant detention centers run by corporate giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group raked in over $800 million in taxpayer money in 2018 alone, thanks to generous government contracts that are largely kept secret from the public.”

Federal judge expresses dismay over asylum seeker’s lengthy detention. “Petitioner has a clean record, never having been arrested or convicted,” (U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein) wrote. “There is little risk of flight, since he seeks asylum within the United States, and little risk of danger to the community, judging from his lack of a prior criminal history. Yet, petitioner has suffered 34 months of detention without an opportunity for a bond hearing while waiting for a final decision on his petition for asylum.”

Former Chinese intelligence official sentenced to life in prison. “The court said in a statement online that (Ma Jian) used his political power to aid the business operations of Guo Wengui, a real estate billionaire wanted by Chinese authorities. The New York-based Guo has published a slew of online videos in which he makes sensational allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of China’s ruling Communist Party.”


December 28, 2018

December 27, 2018

Two-term Democratic Congresswoman Claire McCaskill, who lost her 2018 re-election bid, throws shade on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I’m a little confused why she’s the thing.”

LinkedIn tech titan Reid Hoffman apologizes for funding social media disinformation campaign during Alabama special election. “According to the Times and the Post, a group of Democratic tech experts from various organizations, such as AET, worked together on an effort called Project Birmingham to experiment with disinformation tactics similar to those employed by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election.”

Dan Rather says it’s ‘marginal’ to not believe in climate change when you are 72. “Which should be considered more ‘marginal’ – believing in Santa at age 7 or not believing in climate change at age 72?”

Daughters of deceased podiatrist claim their father faked Donald Trump’s bone spur diagnosis as a favor to his landlord, Fred Trump. “The diagnosis allowed Donald Trump to get a medical exemption that allowed him to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.”

Hospitals required to post their ‘list prices’ on-line. “A new rule going into effect January 1, 2019, will require hospitals to post a list of their standard prices online and make electronic medical records more readily available to patients.”

Russian diplomat says Saudi prince suspected of having journalist killed in Turkey should be allowed to take the throne. “Russia’s deputy foreign minister and Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov, warned on Tuesday that the U.S. should not try to influence the line of succession in Saudi Arabia, and he signaled that Moscow believes the 33-year-old prince should succeed his father as king.”

Israel accused carrying out air strikes near Syrian capital. “A number of missiles hit arms depots for Hezbollah or Iranian forces.”

Nissan executive allegedly lured to Japan before his arrest. “(Greg) Kelly was scheduled to have surgery on Dec. 7 in Nashville, Tennessee, but flew to Japan last month after being told that he was needed in person at a board meeting, (his wife) Dee Kelly said in the video. Kelly was arrested soon after his arrival.”

Almost 1,000 Americans have been fatally shot by police for the fourth year in a row. “973 people have been shot and killed by police (so far) in 2018.”

52 police officers were shot and killed during the same time frame. “As of 2017, there were more than 950,000 total law enforcement employees and 670,000 officers working in the United States, according to the latest figures published by the FBI.”   The 52 fatal shootings includes two officers killed in ‘friendly fire’ incidents. “Of the officers who were shot, eight were killed during investigative activity and six were killed while responding to calls of a domestic or public disturbance, according to the report. Two were fatally shot while serving warrants, two died while handling or transporting prisoners and two others were inadvertently shot by other officers.”

Woman killed by San Jose police after she hits police car. “When the officers took cover behind one of their patrol vehicles and tried to order the driver to stop, she allegedly rammed the cruiser — and four officers opened fire.”

Lakeland, Florida police fatally shoot teenage car theft suspect. “Officer Markais Neal was in the parking lot south of the vehicle and as the stolen Camaro accelerated directly toward him he fired at the vehicle, according to police…. They said two additional officers fired at the car in an attempt to stop it and protect themselves and people in the parking lot.”

Federal judge strikes down Virginia law that allowed suspension of drivers licenses over unpaid fines. “More than 600,000 Virginians had their driver’s licenses suspended because of unpaid fines as of Dec. 1 — and backlash over the system led Governor Ralph Northam to call for the law’s repeal.”

Michigan water officials plead no contest to misdemeanor charges related to Flint water scandal. “Both Prysby and Busch have been on paid leave.”

Mussolini making a comeback in alt-right Italy. “Gamma 3000, a Rome-based printer, was the first to start producing Mussolini calendars in the early 1990s and now competes with three rivals.”

Supreme Court rules against Trump administration on asylum seekers. “… the Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Trump administration cannot enforce a ban on asylum claims by immigrants who cross into the U.S. outside a port of entry.”

Released migrants who were dumped at El Paso bus station allowed to shelter in buses. “… authorities in El Paso, Texas, scrambled over the Christmas holiday to assist hundreds of migrant asylum seekers, who were dropped off suddenly by ICE officials outside a Greyhound bus terminal—without any plan to house them.”

Sudanese security forces reportedly fired into crowd of protesters. “At least three Sudanese protesters were wounded by gunshots on Tuesday when security forces dispersed rallies in the capital, witnesses said, after a week of demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.”


December 27, 2018

December 26, 2018

Pope condemns greed in Christmas message. “For many people, life’s meaning is found in possessing, in having an excess of material objects. An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive.”

Activist banned from Hoover, Alabama mall over police shooting protest. “(Carlos) Chaverst said said Sunday night the trespass warning is part of the ‘overall cover-up’ of what happened to (Emantic) Bradford Thanksgiving night.”

Mayor of Inglewood, California claims destruction of years of police records just weeks before they were to become public records was ‘routine’. “Until this month, Inglewood required the Police Department to retain records on shootings involving officers for 25 years after the close of an investigation.”

Activists raising money for a border wall… and ladders. “Two competing GoFundMe pages – one raising money to fund President Trump’s border wall and another raising money for ladders for migrants to use to surmount that wall – are both continuing to rack up quite a bit of cash.”

Waikiki, Hawaii police sweep homeless off the streets on Christmas Eve. “I don’t know why they couldn’t give these families a break over the holidays.”

Bankruptcy court approves $25.3 million in bonuses for Sears executives while cutting severance pay for the company’s laid off workers. “(Sheila Brewer) found a job recently at CVS but the first paycheck isn’t coming until after New Year’s and the eight weeks of severance she was supposed to get ended after four weeks when the bankruptcy court stopped the rest of the payments to laid-off Sears Holdings workers.”

Japanese birthrate lowest since 1899. “Since the 1990s, labor laws changed, leading to more part-time and contract work, according to The Atlantic. That could have affected people’s trajectory, building ‘a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they — and their potential partners — know they can’t afford to’.”

French police officer threatens ‘yellow vest’ protesters with pistol. “He briefly pulled out the weapon after being pushed off his motorcycle and did not fire, but the threat of lethal action shocked many in France.”

British police search couple’s home over drone flights at nearby airport and place them under arrest, but then clear them. “Police took the couple into custody on Friday and cleared them Sunday, saying they had been cooperative and were no longer under suspicion.”   They don’t need no stinkin’ warrants in the UK?

Britain bans sales of kittens and puppies by retailers. “(The) Lucy’s Law campaign was named after a severely malnourished King Charles spaniel who was rescued from a breeding site. She had been forced to breed several times a year and her puppies were taken away after just four weeks – half the recommended time.”

Japanese government announces plan to pull out of international whaling body and resume commercial whaling. “We continue to hope Japan eventually reconsiders its position and will cease all whaling in order to advance the protection of the ocean’s ecosystems.”

Second migrant child dies after being detained by Border Patrol. “Authorities say an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy died in government custody on Christmas morning, making it the second immigrant child to die in a U.S. detention center this month.”

Chinese human rights lawyer gets trial after more than 3 years of detention. “(Wang Quanzhang) is one of approximately 250 lawyers and activists detained in the summer of 2015, now known as the 709 crackdown for the first day of the detentions. He is the last of the group still awaiting trial.”

Animal right activists facing decades in prison for ‘theft’ of sick and injured farm animals. “In Utah, stealing property worth less than $1,500 is generally a misdemeanor. But lawmakers have carved out an exception specifically for the benefit of the animal agriculture industry. If the property in question is an animal ‘raised for commercial purposes’, then no matter how little economic value that animal may have, the crime is a felony.”

Attorneys for migrant rescue group claim judge engaged in back channel discussions with federal prosecutors. “On November 7, (Judge Bernardo) Velasco ordered the government to produce all communications sent to the two Border Patrol agents who led the operation, from the time they clocked in until the time they clocked out…. In early December, Trump administration prosecutors privately communicated a written plan to Velasco to narrow the Border Patrol communications that had turned up in response to his order, arguing that some of the materials were related to other investigations, while others were related to Warren’s case but did not fall under federal guidelines requiring their disclosure.”

New York Times accused of smearing foreign policy critic William Blum in his obituary (in contrast to its treatment of George H.W. Bush). “In books like The CIA: A Forgotten History (re-released as Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II) and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, Blum documented the violent and anti-democratic record of the US empire…. How did the New York Times (12/11/18) frame this remarkable life? With this remarkable headline: ‘William Blum, US Policy Critic Cited by bin Laden, Dies at 85’.”

Turkey asks Google to remove a user-created map of a possible Kurdistan. “In July 2017, the Turkish parliament adopted new guidelines that banned use of the terms ‘Kurdistan’, ‘Kurdish regions’, and ‘Armenian genocide’.”


December 26, 2018

December 23, 2018

Is Beto O’Rourke the next Barack Obama, who was the next Bill Clinton, who was the next Jimmy Carter? “The fantastical mythology of a satisfactory “third way” between the corporate class and the rest of us posits that the Democratic party’s insurance industry backers can be enriched and healthcare policy can still be humane; its Wall Street sponsors can eviscerate industries and workers can still earn enough to survive; and its fossil fuel donors can keep pumping out carbon and the ecosystem can still sustain human life.”

Members of Congress will continue to be paid, despite federal government shutdown. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that’s unfair. “It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision. Have some integrity.”

Stock markets tumble, Nasdaq down almost 22% from peak in August. “Wall Street’s widely accepted definition of a bear market is a drop of at least 20% from a recent peak.”

African boy brought to the U.S. to have facial tumor removed dies on the table. “… Matadi Sela Petit, 8, died after suffering a rare genetic reaction to anesthesia during surgery.”

GoFundMe page for border wall hits $13 million. “In just four days, the military veteran’s crowdsourced campaign for construction of the border wall has raked in more than $13 million in donations from nearly 215,000 people, with donations surging after his Thursday-night appearance on Fox News with host Laura Ingraham.”   Only about $4.99 billion to go!

FBI agent who accidentally shot a Denver bar patron pleads guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault, is sentenced to a fine and probation. “(Victim Tim) Reddington’s attorney said the bullet hit one of his client’s main arteries and he could have bled to death had witnesses not stepped in to create a makeshift tourniquet with a belt.”   In contrast, my brother, who was in his fifties, was assaulted and knocked to the pavement. He ATTEMPTED to draw a pistol, to deter the assailant from continuing the attack, but he accidentally dropped it, having never tried drawing it from on his back before, and the pistol was kicked away from him. He never pointed the gun at anyone, nor was it fired. He then called the police. He accepted a plea deal on the advice of his lawyer and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Woman accused of tasing and tying up her ex-husband, then fatally shooting her 14 year-old daughter when she called the police. “According to the police report, the 911 operator could hear a woman saying, ‘You called 911’ and then heard something about ‘blow your head off’ followed ‘by what sounded like zip-ties being secured’ and then a loud sound, followed by screaming, according to the report.”   There must be some mistake – only men do stuff like this!


December 23, 2018

December 21, 2018

U.S. to remove about 50% of its troops from Afghanistan. “In what appears to be the first major step toward ending America’s involvement in a war fought for nearly two decades, the president has decided to cut the US military presence in Afghanistan in half, The Wall Street Journal reported. There are currently roughly 14,000 American service members in the war-torn country.”

Homeland Security official says some asylum seekers will have to wait outside the U.S. for their applications to be processed. “Asylum seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador must wait outside the United States until their immigration proceedings are concluded, according to a Department of Homeland Security official speaking on background during a conference call with reporters Thursday morning.”   And if they get killed or beaten or jailed while waiting, that’s just tough.

Ohio Elections Commission dismisses minor parties’ debate exclusion complaints. “The complaints also claimed that because the DeWine and Cordray (gubernatorial) campaigns helped organize the televised debates, the events should be considered illegal campaign contributions.”

North Korea refuses to unilaterally disarm itself of nuclear weapons. “It’s clear that the North intends to keep its nukes and turn the diplomatic process into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation with the United States, rather than a process where it unilaterally surrenders its program.”

Leaders of Turkey and Iran agree to cooperate on Syria. “”The fate of Syria should be determined only by the people of Syria. Everyone should respect Syria’s territorial integrity and we (Iran and Turkey) completely agree on this,” Rouhani said.”   Does this ‘respect for Syria’s territorial integrity’ include removing their troops and tanks, and ending their air strikes?

French troops are remaining in Syria. “French Defense Minister Florence Parly in a tweet acknowledged that the Islamic State militant group has been weakened, but added that the battle was not over.”

CNN claims U.S. is ‘among the deadliest countries’ for journalists due to a mass shooting in an Annapolis, Maryland newsroom by an angry article subject and two killed when a tree fell on their car while covering a hurricane. “Ahead of the United States and India  on the list (six journalists killed in each country) are Afghanistan with 15 journalists killed, Syria with 11, Mexico with nine and Yemen with eight.”

Former Nissan Motors CEO Carlos Ghosn rearrested on third set of accusations. “The prolonged detention of a prominent global business leader has drawn attention to the ability of Japanese prosecutors to hold suspects for extended periods without formally charging them.”   Oh, there’s more, but you’ll hear about that from Carlos and his American assistant when they are eventually released on bail, like the daily, 8 hour interrogation sessions without legal counsel.

Trump signs Farm Bill, legalizing hemp farming. “Ultimately, the Farm Bill will end the era of hemp prohibition and would deem that hemp is an agricultural commodity and is removed from the Controlled Substances Act where it is no longer mistaken as a controlled substance, like marijuana.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accused of failing to sell stock he promised to sell in order to satisfy ethics regulations. “Ross twice submitted disclosure reports to federal ethics officials saying he had divested the stock — once in a transaction report from May 2017 and another time in his annual financial disclosure from August 2018. But in October, Ross filed another transaction report with ethics officials acknowledging he had had not divested the BankUnited stock when he said he did — and continued to own it until October 1, 2018.”

Works published in 1923 will soon enter the public domain, after a long delay thanks to a change in the copyright law. “We have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age. The last one—in 1998, when 1922 slipped its copyright bond—predated Google.”

Justice Department lawyer tells federal judge there are secret reasons why they can’t release a list of companies who were eventually allowed to reveal they had received ‘national security letters’ that required them to hand over information on their customers, in total secrecy, without receiving a court order or a warrant. “In court on Thursday, Justice Department lawyer Julia Heiman argued that unmasking companies who were cleared to talk about receiving the letters would reveal sensitive information about law enforcement techniques…. Hieman insisted the government has other compelling reasons to prevent the disclosure, but said she could not share them in public.”

Homeland Security chief testifies before House Judiciary Committee, claims she has no idea how many migrants have died in DHS custody. Rep. David Cicilline: “Madam Secretary, did I understand you correctly to say that as you sit here today, you do not know how many human beings have died while in the custody of the department that you lead?”…. Kirstjen Nielsen: “I will get back to you with the number.”


December 21, 2018

December 20, 2018

Facebook accused of sharing its users’ private messages and friends lists with companies. “The New York Times reported Tuesday that Facebook for many years gave more than 150 companies extensive access to personal data — including private messages and contact information for users’ friends — than was previously known and without users’ explicit consent.”

Federal judge dismisses defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed news over publication of ‘Steele dossier’. “‘As we have said from the start, a document that had been circulating at the highest levels of government, under active investigation by the FBI, and briefed to two successive presidents, is clearly the subject of ‘official action’. Moreover, its publication has contributed to the American people’s understanding of what is happening in their country and their government,’ (BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith) added.”

Trump accused of negotiating Moscow Trump Tower deal during his presidential campaign after signed ‘letter of intent’ emerges. “… the project, which was ultimately scrapped, would’ve given Trump’s company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales and control over marketing and design.”

Recent U.S. population growth lowest since the Great Depression. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau figures released Monday, growth from July 1, 2012 through July 1, 2013 was 2.3 million people, or 0.71 percent of the total U.S. population.”    Don’t tell me, it’s not the economy, it’s because millennials are anti-child?

Catholic dioceses in Illinois accused of withholding information on sexual contact between clergy and minors. “The (preliminary report by Attorney General Lisa Madigan) said that 690 priests were accused of (sexual) abuse, and only 185 names were made public by the dioceses as having been found credibly accused of abuse.”

Florida judge dismisses Parkland shooting lawsuit, rules that police and school officials have no constitutional (or legal?) obligation to protect students from violence. “The critical question the court analyzes is whether defendants had a constitutional duty to protect plaintiffs from the actions of (accused mass shooter Nikolas) Cruz,” Bloom wrote. But she determined that “for such a duty to exist on the part of defendants, plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody.”

Having failed to get Mexico or Congress to pay for The Wall, Trump supporters turn to GoFundMe. “(Brian) Kolfage, 37, set the goal for his “We the People Will Fund the Wall” campaign at $1 billion because GoFundMe caps donations at that amount. He hopes to raise $5 billion, which will then be given to the government to fund the wall.”

Four Republican legislators in Kansas have switched parties. “I have been a proud Republican my entire life. However, the recent moves to support chaos in public policy have caused me great concern. I believe that I can better serve my constituents, and support education as a member of the Democratic Party.”   Now, if we can just get progressive Democrats to switch to the Green Party….

Kansas man who spent 17 years in prison for a crime committed by a look-alike to receive $1.1 million settlement. “Eyewitness testimony sent (Richard) Jones to prison for an attack and robbery in the parking lot of a Walmart in Roeland Park, Kansas. No physical evidence linked Jones to the crime, and he always maintained his innocence.”   “Jones’ lawyers argued the lineup of photos shown to the victim and other witnesses was ‘highly suggestive’, with Jones’ picture the only one of six photographs that resembled the description of the robbery suspect.”

Former FBI director James Comey reportedly confirms to House Oversight Committee that President Obama used a private email address to correspond with his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton via her private email address, but that he omitted mentioning this during his news conference. “‘We didn’t want to do anything to confirm to the bad guys that they might have Barack Obama’s private cover email unclassified.’ Comey emphasized that Obama and Clinton did not discuss classified information using that email arrangement.”

Democratic Party campaign consultant reportedly conducted ‘secret experiment’ using social media deception to swing Alabama election. “The project’s operators created a Facebook page on which they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore.”

President Trump orders the creation of a U.S. Space Command. “It is not enough to have an American presence in space,” said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a speech at the Pentagon in August… “We must have American dominance in space.”   Sounds expensive, but that’s good news for military contractors!

Government pledges more than $10 billion to create jobs – in Mexico and Central America. “The U.S aid aims to promote better security conditions and job opportunities as part of a regional plan to allow Central Americans and Mexicans to remain in their countries and not have to emigrate.”   Where was all this money when Americans were losing their jobs and their homes after Wall Street tanked the economy?

President Trump announces withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, on Twitter. “A decision to pull out completely, confirmed by U.S. officials and expected in the coming months, coincides with the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops finishing up a campaign to retake territory once held by Islamic State militants.”

U.S. border agents accused of turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry. “Migrants are often illegally turned away, despite a constant threat of violence from drug gangs, traffickers, smugglers and even the local police.”

Former Blackwater employee found guilty of first degree murder in connection with Nisour Square massacre in occupied Iraq. “Three other Blackwater guards who were part of (Nicholas) Slatten’s convoy also were convicted in 2014, of manslaughter and other charges.”

Japan reportedly planning to acquire long-range cruise missiles. “According to new spending guidelines that were agreed by Shinzo Abe’s cabinet on Tuesday, the country will acquire its first aircraft carrier as well as long range cruise missiles, giving it the ability to carry out offensive strikes against enemy bases for the first time since the Second World War.”

66% of Russians regret demise of the Soviet Union. “The pollster said that 52 percent of respondents named the collapse of the Soviet Union’s ‘single economic system’ as the main thing they regretted.”   ‘Single economic system’ probably refers to the economic ties between the various ethnic republics of the former USSR, but I think what they really miss is ‘socialism’. Maybe that wasn’t a choice on the survey?

Judge upholds Johnson & Johnson baby powder verdict. “In his ruling, Missouri Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison said there was ‘substantial evidence’ of ‘particularly reprehensible conduct’ by J&J, saying that executives ‘knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.'”   Where have I heard this story before? Tobacco company claims that their research proved smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer? Oil company claims that they were unaware of the threat of global warming? Automobile company claims that they were unaware of safety defects?

Journalist’s investigation of emergency room bills reveals the shocking billing practices of hospitals. “(Jessica Pell) told me about going to an emergency room in New Jersey after she fell and cut her ear. She was given an ice pack but no other treatment. She never received a diagnosis. But she did get a bill for $5,751.”

Trump administration reportedly stepping up deportations of long-term Cambodian residents. “These people have been in the United States for many decades. They mostly came here in the ’80s after the refugee crisis in the ’70s. They were all resettled by the U.S.”

Beto O’Rourke accused of voting with Republicans. “… a new analysis of congressional votes from the non-profit news organisation Capital & Main shows that even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.”

Japanese official denies media report that the country is planning to leave the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling. “Japan would join Iceland and Norway in openly defying the ban on commercial whale hunting.”

Progressives cheer House Speaker Paul Ryan’s departure from Congress. “With the hashtag #GoodRiddanceRyan, progressive advocacy groups and commentators denounced Ryan for spending his 10-term tenure in the House pushing an agenda that rewards wealthy corporate donors at the expense of the American working class.”   Yet another Republican lawmaker leaving Congress, in Ryan’s case ‘to spend more time with his family’. “Mr Ryan joins nearly 30 House Republicans who have announced this year they are retiring outright.”

One year later, critics of Trump tax cuts say it was a scam after all. “Contrary to President Donald Trump’s soaring promises and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) characterization of the tax law as a tremendous victory for ordinary Americans in his newly released ‘docu-series’, tax policy experts and progressives argued on the tax law’s first birthday that the plan has done virtually nothing for the working class, while making the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations tremendously richer.”

Federal judge rules that expedited deportations of asylum seekers was illegal. “… the ruling from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan concludes that the United States broke the law in deporting asylum-seekers without determining whether they have a credible fear of persecution in their home country.”

District of Columbia sues Facebook over sharing and selling of its users’ data. “Filed in Superior Court, the 21-page complaint by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine says that Facebook violated consumer-protection laws with its ‘lax oversight’ and willingness to share and sell the personal data of 70 million users in the U.S. to Cambridge Analytica.”

Justice Department releases information on Hemisphere, the ‘Google on steroids’ phone record search program, in response to public records lawsuit. “Because the use of Hemisphere data has been excluded as evidence in prosecutions, no known defendants have been able to challenge the constitutionality of the spying program in court.”


December 20, 2018