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Jan 20 2017

TSA Stops Bear Attack, DHS Hacks State Election, & FB to Censor “Fake News”

Facebook has announced a plan to crack down on fake news – by partnering with Snopes and ABC News to fact check news stories posted to the site. According to Business Insider, Facebook has recruited the help of various media organizations via a fact-checking network affiliated with a non-profit journalism school in Florida. Facebook says that using algorithms and user reporting, stories will get flagged and sent to ABC, Snopes, Factcheck.org, and PolitiFact, who will decide if the story is fake based on both content and domain names. If at least two of the organizations decide the story is fake or misleading, the story will be given a warning label and algorithms will bury it so that it will no longer appear in newsfeeds. Facebook is also not paying any of the organizations involved.

Facebook has repeatedly claimed not to be a media company, stating they “believe it’s essential that Facebook stay out of the business of deciding what issues the world should read about.” So instead, they’re encouraging users to flag issues that they think the world shouldn’t read about, asking Snopes and company to prove it, and then hiding the stories so that the world can’t read about them.

A 14-year-old boy remains in a coma after being shot by a high school police officer last week. According to the family, their attorney, and videos of the incident posted to social media, nearly half the student body was out in the courtyard, armed with cellphones, after being alerted that a group of boys was planning to beat up Logan Clark. Clark had been beaten up by the same group of seniors the day before and, fearing he’d be jumped again, allegedly brought a set of butter knives to school. According to the family, Clark had reported the bullying to the school administration previously, but had received no support.

In videos of the incident, Clark can be seen surrounded by a group of students, getting punched in the face, and then trying to escape the crowd by drawing a knife. He tries to push through the crowd yelling, “Get away from me!” before the officer shoots him in the chest. According to the videos, there were no attempts to calm the situation.

Both the school’s superintendent and the district’s lawyer praised the officer, saying his use of deadly force was necessary to protect the other children. Other children who, in the videos, are cheering on the fight. The school is also accusing the family’s lawyer of sensationalizing the incident. Clark suffered a stroke the day after the shooting, and has remained unresponsive since. The name of the officer has not been released, but he has been placed on paid administrative leave. He reports that he told Clark to drop the knife and when Clark did not comply, he had no choice but to shoot.

Glastonbury, CT’s police chief has chosen to retire after being caught using his government email to send and receive porn. Several printouts of emails marked as forwarded David Caron’s .gov email account and containing racial remarks and nude women were sent to the local news. When the Hartford Courant reached out to Caron to discuss the emails, he immediately scheduled a meeting with the Town Manager and announced his retirement after 40 years on the force. He did not deny the emails, but reported not being able to recall ever sending, forwarding, or writing them, though at least one email contains a comment signed “Dave.” Dave claims that he was not using his government account or police internet access to hunt for porn, but did say that his buddies send him nudes to that email address.

The Denver Police Department released a statement this week in response to a video showing officers taking blankets and tents from the homeless in 20* weather. Last week, Mayor Michael Hancock claimed that this was not a typical practice, and that he would be suspending the city’s illegal camping ordinance until the spring. He explained that the people in the video were protestors, and that their tents and blankets were confiscated as evidence. In the statement released Thursday, the Denver PD claimed that illegal camping has been a longstanding issue and that the people in the video were camping illegally in front of the county building in protest, after their previous camping location was also cited as illegal. The police also stated that there is adequate shelter and services for the entire Denver homeless population but that they choose not to use it, despite claims by shelter directors in the area. Officers say they have only issued unauthorized camping citations as a last resort. However, police issued 9 citations to 7 homeless people in the last two weeks alone.

Body cam footage of an unarmed, naked man being mauled by a police dog last summer was released to the public this week. In August 2015, San Diego police received a call about a naked man wandering in the woods. After they located the man, who was under the influence of LSD, they asked him to climb a hill, telling him they had medics and would help him. Once he climbed the hill, police asked him to turn around. He refused, but in the video makes no move towards the officers. Without warning, the officers then sic their K9 on the man. Once the man drops, several officers pin him to the ground, but allow the dog to maul his leg for an additional 44 seconds. The San Diego PD ruled the use of force as justified, stating the police concluded that the use of the K9 was okay because they figured if the man was high, he would have a higher tolerance to pain.

The man remains unidentified, but settled with the city for $385k after losing the use of his right leg. The man claims to be a businessman who was in San Diego for a convention and ended up in the woods after a night of partying. San Diego PD’s policy requires officers to give the suspect at least two warnings “if possible.” However, the officers in the video provided no such warnings and wrote in their report that they were unable to give the warnings due to the man being an immediate threat.

The Los Angeles TSA saved travelers from a vicious attack this week – by confiscating a giant teddy bear. The organization has consistently failed to detect bombs and weapons in 95% of trials conducted by undercover agents, but decided the bear was too dangerous for travel due to being too big for the overhead compartment and x-ray machine. The TSA and airline decided that the bear therefore could not be screened properly and would have to be left behind. To add insult to injury, the TSA posted about the bear on their Instagram – because why shouldn’t a government agency have it’s own instagram – and gave him a depressing backstory about being abandoned by his owners and now being forced to roam the streets, hungry and alone, because it’s owners were too irresponsible to know that the TSA would confiscate him.

After Instagramers complained on the post about the TSA being heartless, they amended the post with an update saying that they found the traveler on YouTube and learned it was a stunt by a YouTuber to see if the bear could be taken on the plane. But they still stick their foot in their mouth by reporting that the owner bought a ticket for the bear and it was still not allowed to fly. However, they encourage potential fliers to send a photo of any questionable items ahead of time via Twitter or Facebook, so they can post on their Instagram about how it’s okay to bring fried chicken and grated cheese on your carry-on. Hot sauce bottles that resemble bullets or grenades, however, are strictly forbidden.

A new report by the Census Bureau revealed that the four richest counties in the US are all suburbs of Washington DC. The national median household income in 2015 was $55,755, but in the suburbs of DC it was between $110k and $126k. In fact, out of the top 20 richest counties in the nation, 9 of them are DC suburbs. The others on the list either border NYC, Silicon Valley, or are home to federal laboratories.
An 88-year-old man in Kentucky has filed for divorce, but has been denied based on the grounds that a court found him mentally incompetent in 2008. The court says his guardian must file for him, but his guardian just so happens to be his wife. In 2008, the man’s wife persuaded a jury to declare him mentally incompetent after he sent money to someone he believed was a “Nigerian Royal Prince” – so basically, he fell victim to the typical Craigslist and email scams that are probably designed to pray on old people. The court appointed his wife as his guardian, and he has been fighting both decisions in court ever since. In 2013, he filed for divorce and for a new guardian. He has been consistently denied based on a 1943 law prohibiting “persons of unsound mind” to file legal actions. Lawyers on both sides claim there is no evidence of abuse or exploitation, and thus the courts have seen no reason to overturn the law or provide the man with a temporary guardian for the divorce action. The case was taken all the way up to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which refused to review the case on Thursday.

Hillary Clinton and friends continue to blame Russia for her election loss, with Clinton suggesting Thursday that the hacking was the result of “personal beef.” Clinton claimed that Putin finds her personally responsible for the “outpouring of outrage by his own people” after she made accusations that Russia’s 2011 elections were rigged. Therefore, she claims that not only was the hacking of DNC and campaign emails an attack against the country, but that is was also a direct personal attack aimed at Clinton herself because she is that important and special.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Secretary of State Office has now confirmed 10 separate cyberattacks on it’s network, and was able to trace them all back to the US Department of Homeland Security. Georgia Secretary Brian Kemp reports that all 10 attacks occurred over the past 10 months and began the day after the state’s voter registration deadline. The second attack occurred just a couple days before Super Tuesday. A third occurred before the general primary, and another two occurred the day before and day after the presidential election. In Georgia, the Secretary of State office is responsible for running the state’s local and federal elections.

The DHS has confirmed the attacks and reports that one of the attacks came from US Customs and Border Protection, but keeps changing their story and shifting the blame to different employees and contractors. They say the attacks were not intentional, but were due to DHS computers being configured incorrectly, making legitimate database usage look instead like a cyberattack. The DHS Secretary went as far as to blame Microsoft directly for the issue. Microsoft has been unable to confirm the alleged error.

The 18 year old woman who claimed men attacked and robbed her at a NY subway platform while yelling Trump has been arrested on charges of filing a false police report. She originally claimed that three drunken men called her a terrorist and followed her throughout a subway train on December 1st, before robbing her and pulling off her hijab. The NYPD was unable to find any witnesses or surveillance footage to verify her report and, when questioned, the woman admitted that the story was false. She told officers that she made up the story for attention after having issues with her family at home. Additionally, after filing the original report, the girl went missing for several days, prompting the family to file a missing person’s report.

NY Rep Peter King left a meeting at Trump Tower this week claiming that he had convinced president-elect Donald Trump to implement a nationwide surveillance program targeting Muslim Americans. He claimed that the national program would be similar to the one already in existence within the NYPD. He told reports that now is not the time to worry about political correctness and lamented that the ACLU and NY Times don’t like the program. King states that the use of informers and community plants has been very effective at stopping terrorism, despite reports claiming that the program has failed to catch any terrorists ever and was only successful at sending agents on a white water rafting trip. Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s CIA pick Mike Pompeo, as well as the Suffolk County Republican Chairman and a local Councilwoman all attended the meeting.

The Center for Health and Economy’s new report on ObamaCare estimates that next year’s subsidies will cost taxpayers an additional $10 billion. Earlier this year, the Obama administration published a report saying that insurance premiums would be rising by an average of 22% but not to worry, because the government was going to offset those increases by also increasing subsidies. However, those very subsidies are what increase the costs of insurance, creating a cycle of inflation that Obama promised would get passed on to consumers rather than taxpayers. Except that the consumers ARE taxpayers, and the average subsidy is expect to rise from $291 a month to $367. Only 20% of enrollees don’t receive a subsidy (including myself), meaning that 20% is footing the full cost of the increases. By the government’s own numbers, the cost of the ACA is expected to rise from 32.8 billion to 42.6 billion in 2017.

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