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.”   https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/facebook-denies-it-let-other-tech-companies-misuse-personal-data-n949701

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.”   https://thehill.com/homenews/media/422174-judge-sides-with-buzzfeed-in-defamation-suit-over-dossier

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.”   https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/18/politics/trump-signed-letter-of-intent-rudy-giuliani-moscow/index.html

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.”   https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/12/us-population-growth-slowest-since-1937/    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.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/us/illinois-attorney-general-catholic-church-priest-abuse.html

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.”   https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/12/19/parkland-shooting-judge-school-cops-no-duty-protect-kids/2360683002/

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.”   https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-news-gofundme-raises-money-for-border-wall-20181219-story.html

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.”   https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kansas-lawmakers-republican-democrats_us_5c1a9503e4b01059bfc6713d   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.”   https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/kansas-man-who-blamed-wrongful-conviction-doppleganger-gets-1-1-n949861   “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.”   https://www.foxnews.com/politics/house-gop-releases-transcript-of-explosive-closed-door-comey-questioning

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.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/us/alabama-senate-roy-jones-russia.html

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.”   https://futurism.com/trump-executive-order-space-command-space-force   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.”   https://www.apnews.com/0fcda32812024680ad98676379c47233   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.”   https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-starts-withdrawal-u-forces-syria-claims-victory-003602573.html

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.”   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/19/us-mexico-border-migrants-claim-asylum-difficulties

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.”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/blackwater-security-guard-convicted-in-2007-iraqi-civilian-massacre-at-third-us-trial/2018/12/19/e8b3d8ac-fd5f-11e8-ad40-cdfd0e0dd65a_story.html

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.”   https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-military-aircraft-carrier-cruise-missiles-defence-spending-china-north-korea-a8688991.html

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.”   https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-regret-at-soviet-collapse-stands-at-14-year-high-poll-shows/29664759.html   ‘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.'”   https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/19/jj-falls-after-company-loses-motion-to-overturn-4point7-billion-verdict.html   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.”   https://www.vox.com/health-care/2018/12/18/18134825/emergency-room-bills-health-care-costs-america

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.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/12/19/cambodians_who_fled_war_us_bombs

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.”   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/20/beto-orourke-congressional-votes-analysis-capital-and-main

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.”   https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/20/japan-to-resume-commercial-whaling-after-leaving-iwc-report

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.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/19/paul-ryan-says-goodbye-progressives-say-good-riddance-coward-who-sold-our-economy   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.”   https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43729218

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.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/19/tax-scam-turns-one-critics-say-law-one-biggest-transfers-wealth-richest-1-us-history

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.”   https://www.courthousenews.com/judge-says-us-changes-to-asylum-protections-broke-the-law/

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.”   https://www.courthousenews.com/dc-sues-facebook-over-cambridge-analytica-fallout/

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.”   https://www.courthousenews.com/records-release-unearths-new-details-on-government-spying-program/

 

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December 20, 2018

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