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Civil Asset Forfeiture: Where Due Process Goes to Die

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:30:40 -0400

Kevin D. Williamson, National Review: Police can take your money or property and keep it, even if no charges are filed. Clarence Thomas is famously taciturn on the bench. But his few words carry a great deal of weight. Though the matter has not yet come before the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas is very much at the center of a federal case with a name that sounds like it ought to have come from a William Gaddis novel: United States v. Seventeen Thousand Nine Hundred Dollars in United States Currency. The case has the potential to help rein in one of the most abused powers enjoyed by American government: asset forfeiture. The case involves a New York couple, Angela Rodriguez and Joyce Copeland, who lost the above-mentioned $17,900 to police in a case in which no charges were ever filed against them.(image)



New Cyberattack Makes Europe Wanna Cry

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:06:59 -0400

A new cyberattack similar to WannaCry is spreading across Europe, hitting major companies from Rosneft PJSC in Moscow to A.P. Moller-Maersk in Copenhagen while disrupting government systems in Kiev. More than 80 companies in Russia and Ukraine were affected by the Petya virus that disabled computers Tuesday and told users to pay $300 in cryptocurrency to unlock them, according to the Moscow-based cybersecurity company Group-IB. Telecommunications operators and retailers were also affected and the virus is spreading in a similar way to the WannaCry attack in May, it said. The intrusion is "the biggest in Ukraine's history," Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to the Interior Ministry, wrote on Facebook. The goal was "the destabilization of the economic situation and in the civic consciousness of Ukraine," though it was "disguised as an extortion attempt," he said.(image)



6 Nobel-Winning Economists Oppose TrumpCare

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 10:08:59 -0400

Sarah Kliff, Vox: Forty economists, including six Nobel laureates, sent a letter Monday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) outlining their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. "At a time when economic change is making life more difficult for all but the relatively well-to-do, denying people to access health insurance is a giant step in the wrong direction," the letter reads. "The goal should be to hold down health costs and increase access to affordable, quality health coverage for all. Unfortunately, the Better Care Reconciliation Act threatens reduced coverage and higher costs for those who continue to have it."(image)



Creator of cURL Software Denied Entry to U.S.

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 07:50:22 -0400

Rogers Cadenhead: Daniel Stenberg, a Mozilla senior network engineer and the creator of the cURL open source library, has been denied entry to the United States, he revealed early Tuesday morning in a tweet. Stenberg was coming for business to All Hands, a twice-yearly Mozilla conference bringing together staff and volunteers that began Monday. An hour after tweeting, "On my way to San Francisco and Mozilla," he said this: "That took an unexpected turn. I'm denied entry by ESTA out of the blue."(image)



Obama: GOP Senate Bill Tax Cut for the Rich

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 07:32:04 -0400

PolitiFact: Former President Barack Obama has maintained a low profile since leaving the White House, but recently he took to Facebook to blast a Senate health care bill that threatens to dismantle much of the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement. The Senate bill "hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else," Obama wrote in a Facebook post. We decided to look into the former president's claim about the budgetary effects of the Senate Republican plan that repeals or reworks much of the ACA, also known as Obamacare.(image)



$75K-a-Year Russian Official Paid $5.4M for Trump Condos

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 22:20:27 -0400

Miami Herald: [T]he tale of Igor Zorin offers a 21st-century twist with all the weirdness modern Miami has to offer: Russian cash, a motorcycle club named after Russia's powerful special forces and a condo tower branded by Donald Trump. Zorin is a Russian government official who has spent nearly $8 million on waterfront South Florida homes, hardly financially prudent given his bureaucrat's salary of $75,000 per year. He runs a state-owned broadcasting company that, among other duties, operates sound systems for the annual military parade that sends columns of soldiers and tanks rumbling through Moscow's Red Square.(image)



Trump Team Bullies Disney's Hall of Presidents

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 20:18:17 -0400

Vice: Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents -- closed for renovations since January 2017 in order to add a new Donald Trump robot -- was originally scheduled to reopen with its new president in time for summer. ... Disney assumed that the transition from Obamabot to Trumpbot would be smooth and seamless. "We've already prepared a bust of President-elect Trump to go into our Hall of the Presidents at Disney World," said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a call with Wall Street analysts last November. But instead, according to a source close to Magic Kingdom management, the Trump communications team has been combative and obstinate, upsetting an established process that three prior presidential administrations found amenable.(image)



Bank Loaned Kushner $275M Month Before Election

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 19:33:51 -0400

One month before Election Day, Jared Kushner's real estate company finalized a $285 million loan as part of a refinancing package for its property near Times Square in Manhattan. The loan came at a critical moment. Kushner was playing a key role in the presidential campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump. The lender, Deutsche Bank, was negotiating to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The cases were settled in December and January. The October deal illustrates the extent to which Kushner was balancing roles as a top adviser to Trump and a real estate company executive. After the election, Kushner juggled duties for the Trump transition team and his corporation as he prepared to move to the White House.(image)



Will Justice Kennedy Retire?

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:32:29 -0400

The Supreme Court's term ends next week with growing speculation that Justice Anthony Kennedy -- the panel's most pivotal member--may retire at age 80 after 29 years on the court. ... Kennedy has played an important role as the court's swing vote on many important rulings. His departure would allow conservatives to wrest near total control of the bench for the foreseeable future.(image)



Trump Eager for Meeting with Putin

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 17:33:56 -0400

President Donald Trump is eager to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin with full diplomatic bells and whistles when the two are in Germany for a multinational summit next month. But the idea is exposing deep divisions within the administration on the best way to approach Moscow in the midst of an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. Many administration officials believe the U.S. needs to maintain its distance from Russia at such a sensitive time -- and interact only with great caution. But Trump and some others within his administration have been pressing for a full bilateral meeting. He's calling for media access and all the typical protocol associated with such sessions, even as officials within the State Department and National Security Council urge more restraint, according to a current and a former administration official.(image)



22 Million Would Lose Insurance Under Senate Bill

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 17:24:20 -0400

The Senate's Obamacare replacement bill would lead to 22 million more Americans uninsured in 2026, while average premiums are expected to fall after climbing at first, according to a Monday report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's estimate of the plan's effect on the number of uninsured Americans could influence whether Republican senators support it, as GOP leaders walk a thin line in trying to win the votes needed to pass their plan. The estimated growth in the number of uninsured Americans is slightly lower under the Senate plan than the bill that passed the House last month, which the CBO said would lead to 23 million fewer covered in 2026.(image)



Trump Still Hasn't Signed Any Major Bills

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 16:31:02 -0400

President Trump kept one of his campaign promises, signing a bill Friday to make it easier for the secretary of veterans affairs to fire and discipline employees. It came in response to the 2014 VA scandal in which employees covered up long wait times while collecting bonuses. ... Among modern Oval Office occupants, Presidents Jimmy Carter (52), George H.W. Bush (41) and Bill Clinton (41) had all signed more bills into law than Trump has by this point in their presidencies. So, what has Trump accomplished with Congress so far? Nothing that political scientists would categorize as major pieces of legislation.(image)



Ice Cube Begins 3-on-3 Basketball League

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 15:56:27 -0400

Big3, a summer three-man basketball league created by the rapper Ice Cube, begins Monday night on FS1. The half-court games reach halftime when one team scores 30 and the first to 60 wins. Eight teams will play in 10 cities. Players are all former NBA players, including Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Mike Bibby.(image)



China Fakes Millions of Social Media Posts

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:30:40 -0400

American Political Science Review: The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. ... In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year.(image)