News

We’re moving (and a fundraiser update)!

December 22, 2016
posted by

   

Dear readers,

Today is the last day of the 14th year of Rational Review News Digest. Tomorrow is our 14th birthday and the beginning of our 15th volume under the RRND label. After today's edition, you'll find RRND back at its old-time original home:

http://rationalreview.com

Of course, today's stories are still at ...

http://rationalreview.news-digests.com

... and the nearly 80,000 posts at that URL will remain available as an archive -- if not forever, at least for some time. You should continue to receive email editions as normal, although there will be some format changes we hope you'll like.

The fundraising page will be moving, too, but you can find it for the moment at:

http://rationalreview.news-digests.com/support-rrnd

Speaking of which, thanks to our contributors since December 15 -- EM, EL, LW, PS, KM, SA, SC and DH -- who've our year-end fundraiser total to $1,335.50 versus our goal of $5,000 by December 31.

Please help us get closer to that goal. I try to keep fundraising to a minimum for most of the year because I hate it just as much as you do, but RRND/FND IS a reader-supported publication. If you found it valuable this year, please return some of that value at, once again:

http://rationalreview.news-digests.com/support-rrnd

See you tomorrow at the new place!

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Publisher
Rational Review News Digest / Freedom News Digest

 

32 Comments »

EU rules against UK’s “Snoopers’ Charter”

December 22, 2016
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"The UK government says it is 'disappointed' after the European Court of Justice said the 'indiscriminate' collection of data was against EU law. EU judges said communications data could only be retained if it was used to fight serious crime. Its verdict came after a legal challenge to the UK government's surveillance legislation. ... The Lib Dems said the ruling proved the government had 'overstepped the mark' with its Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, branded the 'snoopers' charter' by critics, which requires communications companies to retain data for 12 months." (12/21/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38390150  

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NC: Senate votes down repeal of HB2, House adjourns without vote

December 22, 2016
posted by

Charlotte Observer    

"The North Carolina Senate voted down a repeal of House Bill 2 and adjourned Wednesday after a day of increasingly partisan rancor that pitted conservative Republicans against the Charlotte City Council they distrust. The state House adjourned without voting on repeal of the bill that has cost North Carolina millions of dollars in lost jobs, sports events and boycotts. Senate members bickered over a measure that would repeal HB2 but temporarily ban local ordinances regulating employment practices, public accommodations or access to restrooms. Democrats and gay rights advocates attacked the measure, introduced by Senate leader Phil Berger, as falling short of a bargain to kill HB2 once Charlotte repealed the ordinance that gave rise to it." [editor's note: Surely the Charlotte council didn't really expect Republicans to keep their word. There's a first time for everything, but this was never going to be it - TLK] (12/21/16)

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article122145494.html  

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South Korea: Court issues arrest warrant for Park associate’s daughter

December 22, 2016
posted by

Business Insider    

"A South Korean court has issued an arrest warrant for Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of President Park Geun-hye's friend, Choi Soon-sil, who is in custody and on trial in an influence-peddling scandal that led parliament to vote to impeach Park. ... Chung faces several allegations, including obstruction of justice, [prosecutors' spokesperson Lee Kyu-chul] said." (12/21/16)

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-south-korea-court-issues-arrest-warrant-for-daughter-of-president-parks-friend-2016-12  

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Ukraine: Hackers suspected of causing second power outage

December 22, 2016
posted by

The Hacker News    

"The same group of hackers that caused the power outage across several regions in Ukraine last Christmas holidays might have once again shut down power supply in northern Ukraine during the weekend. According to Ukrainian energy provider Ukrenergo, a cyber attack on Kyiv's power grid may have caused the power outages in the country on Saturday, December 17, near midnight. The blackout affected the northern part of Kiev, the country's capital, and surrounding areas, Ukrenergo Director Vsevolod Kovalchuk explained in a post on Facebook." (12/20/16)

http://thehackernews.com/2016/12/power-outage-ukraine.html  

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National Fraternal Order of Police expects Trump to honor state marijuana laws

December 22, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle Smell the Truth    

"States with legal marijuana laws in place might not be altered under the new administration, law enforcement officials expect. In a statement released on their website last month, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) listed a number of proposals they believe president-elect Trump will address within his first 100 days in office, which includes the possibility of leaving state marijuana laws alone, reports the Denver Westword. The FOP’s list of potential executive orders or actions includes a decision to 'direct federal law enforcement agencies to not pursue violations of Federal drug laws even in States which have passed legislation legalizing the use, manufacture and possession of marijuana.'" (12/21/16)

http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/12/19/national-fraternal-order-of-police-expects-trump-to-honor-state-marijuana-laws  

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Secret police cellphone surveillance tool can also block calls by the innocent

December 22, 2016
posted by

Lexington Herald-Leader    

"It's no secret that state and local law enforcement agencies have grown more militarized in the past decade, with armored personnel carriers, drones and robots. But one item in their arsenal has been kept largely out of public view, to the dismay of civil liberties advocates who say its use is virtually unregulated -- and largely untracked. The device is a suitcase-size surveillance tool commonly called a StingRay that mimics a cellphone tower, allowing authorities to track individual cellphones in real time." (12/21/16)

http://www.kentucky.com/news/nation-world/national/article122259199.html  

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Puerto Rico will have a blind man as Secretary of Transportation

December 22, 2016
posted by

Fox News    

"Puerto Rico's governor-elect Ricardo Rossello made history Tuesday by appointing a blind man as the new Secretary of Transportation and Public Works. Carlos Contreras, an accomplished engineer with vast experience in public office, will also serve the position of executive director of the Roads and Transportation Authority 'His appointment constitutes a historical precedent, being the first person blind to occupy the secretariat of the Department of Transportation and Public Works,' said Rossello during the press conference. 'It is a source of great satisfaction that Engineer Contreras Aponte has agreed to join our administration and make available to Puerto Rico his abilities and his commitment to the public service.'" (12/21/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/12/21/unprecedented-puerto-rico-appoints-blind-man-as-secretary-transportation.html  

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California’s birth rate falls to lowest level ever

December 22, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"California's birth rate dropped to its lowest ever in 2016, according to data released by the state's Department of Finance. Between July 2015 and July of this year, there were 12.42 births per 1,000 Californians. The last time birth rates came close to being that low was during the Great Depression, when they hit 12.6 in 1933. The current low birth rate is part of a years-long downward trend that likely stems from Californians increasingly attending college and taking longer to graduate, said Walter Schwarm, a demographer at the Department of Finance. When they do complete their schooling, they're interested in taking some time to pursue their careers or other goals, he said. 'Eventually you think about having a child and by this point in time you're in your early 30s,' he said. Because that's also when women's fertility begins to decrease, they end up having fewer children than if they'd started in their 20s, he said." (12/21/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/californias-birth-rate-falls-to-lowest-level-ever-new-data-show  

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“Scientology” program accuses church leader David Miscavige of physical abuse

December 22, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"Scientology adversaries, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder headed to Seattle, Wash. and Los Angeles, Calif. in Tuesday’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which focused on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige. Former parishioners Remini and Rinder met with ex-Scientologists Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of the current leader, in part four of the A&E docu-series. Hawkins and DeVocht discussed weighty allegations of physical abuse in Seattle, while Ron described his experiences at the Church’s international headquarters, dubbed 'Gold Base' near Hemet, CA." (12/21/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2016/12/21/leah-remini-scientology-and-the-aftermath-episode-4-/95689966  

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Trump hotels reach deal with unions, ending labor board cases

December 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"Hotels in Las Vegas and Washington owned by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday they have entered into collective bargaining agreements with more than 500 workers, who will drop claims that the hotels violated federal labor law. The four-year contracts effective Jan. 1 will provide food and beverage and housekeeping employees at Trump International hotels in those cities with annual raises and pension and healthcare benefits, Trump Hotels and four unions said in a joint statement. Under the agreement, one of the unions, Unite Here Culinary Workers Union Local 226, will withdraw a series of cases filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board against the Las Vegas hotel, union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said." [editor's note: Negotiation instead of government edict; what a concept! - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-hotels-unions-idUSKBN14A1PW  

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NM: Lawsuit tries to keep Quezada off county commission, overturn results

December 21, 2016
posted by

KRQE News 13    

"More than a month after the election, a new lawsuit claims a county commission candidate who lost in a landslide should be put in office because of how her opponent filled out a form. Patricia Paiz, the Republican candidate for Bernalillo County commissioner, filed the lawsuit this week seeking to overturn the election results. The lawsuit claims Democratic opponent Steven Michael Quezada, who won by more than 8,000 votes, had his wife sign a declaration of candidacy form in March. It even makes the claim that Quezada was out of the state at the time and wasn’t present, but doesn't provide evidence for that assertion." [editor's note: Yes, Quezada is the actor who played Steve Gomez on "Breaking Bad" - TLK] (12/21/16)

http://krqe.com/2016/12/21/lawsuit-tries-to-keep-quezada-off-commission-overturn-results/  

No Comments »

VA reverses course, releases health care quality data

December 21, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released quality-of-care ratings for its medical centers across the country, despite years of refusing to share them with the public. The move follows a USA TODAY investigation that revealed ratings for 146 VA medical centers for the first time earlier this month. VA Secretary Bob McDonald complained at the time that their publication across the USA TODAY Network caused 'unwarranted distress' to veterans and could dissuade them from getting care." (12/20/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/20/va-reverses-course-releases-healthcare-quality-data/95655510/  

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Pacific island of Sao Tome breaks ties with Taiwan

December 21, 2016
posted by

Business Insider    

"Taiwan says the Pacific island nation of Sao Tome and Principe has broken their diplomatic ties. Just 21 countries and governments now have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Most of the world and the United Nations do not formally recognize Taiwan as a condition of maintaining relations with Beijing, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory." (12/21/16)

http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-pacific-island-of-sao-tome-breaks-ties-with-taiwan-2016-12  

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India: Gandhi accuses Modi of taking bribes

December 21, 2016
posted by

DuBois Courier Express    

"Leading opposition figure Rahul Gandhi has demanded an investigation into allegations that two Indian conglomerates paid millions of rupees as bribes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2013-14 when he was governing a western state. Gandhi, the Congress Party vice president and scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi family, says the allegations were found in diary notes and computer records of the Sahara Group and the Birla Group and are in possession of income tax authorities." (12/21/16)

http://www.thecourierexpress.com/news/world/rahul-gandhi-accuses-india-s-pm-modi-of-being-paid/article_34ff61c2-092b-5762-b1b4-ac383e3a5d35.html  

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China: Regime to ban more poultry imports from countries with bird flu outbreak

December 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"China will ban imports of poultry and related products from countries where there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu, the agency that oversees safety of the country's imports said on Wednesday. China has already banned poultry imports from more than 60 countries." (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birdflu-china-idUSKBN14A0T6  

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Google updates algorithm to demote Holocaust denial and hate sites in search results

December 21, 2016
posted by

Venture Beat    

"In recent months, Google has confronted a new and unsettling trend: Its top search results for questions about the Holocaust lead to neo-Nazi sites while queries about different ethnic groups direct users to racist or inflammatory material. The company last week said it was reluctant to take action, citing a desire to preserve the integrity of the company’s algorithms, which are designed to turn up relevant information. But on Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Fortune it is making some changes. ... the episode provides more fodder for the debate over how the influence Google and Facebook have over news and information, and the role of social media in creating so-called 'filter bubbles' that lead people to shut out divergent opinions." (12/21/16)

http://venturebeat.com/2016/12/21/google-updates-algorithm-to-demote-holocaust-denial-and-hate-sites-in-search-results/  

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Indonesia: Police say Christmas bomb plot foiled, three killed

December 21, 2016
posted by

Daily Star [Lebanon]    

"Indonesian police have foiled plans by an ISIS-linked group for a Christmas-time suicide bombing after killing three suspected militants Wednesday and discovering a cache of bombs, authorities said. A firefight erupted at a house in South Tangerang 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the capital Jakarta, with police saying the alleged militants had opened fire at officers." (12/21/16)

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2016/Dec-21/386213-indonesia-police-say-christmas-bomb-plot-foiled-three-killed.ashx  

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“MethBot” ad fraud operators making $5 million revenue every day

December 21, 2016
posted by

The Hacker News    

"The biggest advertising fraud ever! A group of hackers is making between $3 Million to $5 Million per day from United States brands and media companies in the biggest digital ad fraud ever discovered. Online fraud-prevention firm White Ops uncovered this new Ad fraud campaign, dubbed 'Methbot,' that automatically generates more than 300 Million fraudulent video ad impressions every day." (12/20/16)

http://thehackernews.com/2016/12/methbot-ad-fraud.html  

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Premeditated killings of prisoners by state employees are down, but voters still support barbarism

December 21, 2016
posted by

National Public Radio [US state media]    

"In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed. Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty. The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s. But 2016 also generated seemingly contradictory information about how the public views capital punishment. Even as jurors have increasingly voted for life in prison instead of execution, voters in three states rejected propositions that would have eliminated the death penalty." (12/21/16)

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/21/506183108/death-sentences-and-executions-are-down-but-voters-still-support-death-penalty-l  

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CA: Border thugs steal $3 million

December 21, 2016
posted by

Fox News    

"The U.S. Border Patrol says over $3 million has been [stolen] after it was found on Tuesday inside two cars in Escondido, California. It's the largest cash [theft] ever made by the Border Patrol in San Diego County." (12/21/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/12/21/border-patrol-seizes-3m-from-two-cars-heading-to-mexico.html  

No Comments »

UN rights chief urges probe of Duterte for murder

December 21, 2016
posted by

Daily Inquirer [Philippines]    

"The UN rights chief urged the Philippines on on Tuesday to investigate President Duterte for murder, after he boasted that he in the past had personally killed suspected criminals. Mr. Duterte said in a speech last week that when he was mayor of Davao, where he served three terms between 1988 and 2016, he personally killed people to set an example for police. He made the comments in a speech to businessmen as he discussed his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs, which has seen police and unknown assailants kill thousands of people since he became President on June 30." (12/20/16)

https://globalnation.inquirer.net/150952/un-rights-chief-urges-probe-duterte-murder  

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Obama blocks drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans

December 21, 2016
posted by

The Hill The Hill    

"President Obama on Tuesday formally blocked offshore oil and gas drilling in most of the Arctic Ocean, answering a call from environmentalists who say the government needs to do more to prevent drilling in environmentally sensitive areas of U.S.-controlled oceans. Obama is invoking a 1953 law governing the Outer Continental Shelf to block drilling in federal waters in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea and most of its Beaufort Sea. He also protected 21 underwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean from drilling, White House officials said Tuesday. ... The announcement locks in a decision Obama made last month to block drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans during an offshore leasing plan that runs through 2022." (12/20/16)

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/311240-obama-blocks-drilling-in-arctic-atlantic-oceans  

No Comments »

Obama plans up to 18 more Guantanamo prisoner transfers before leaving office

December 21, 2016
posted by

Jamestown Sun    

"President Barack Obama plans to transfer as many as 18 more prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison before leaving office, a source close to the matter said, further shrinking the inmate population but still far short of meeting his longtime pledge to close the facility. The Obama administration notified Congress it intends to send the detainees, nearly a third of the remaining 59 held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, to at least four countries, including Italy, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, the source said." (12/20/16)

http://www.jamestownsun.com/news/nation-and-world/4183819-obama-plans-18-more-guantanamo-prisoner-transfers-leaving-office  

No Comments »

Senegal: Former Guinean military leader sought in massacre arrested

December 21, 2016
posted by

Bismarck Tribune    

"Authorities in Senegal have arrested a former Guinean military leader long sought in connection with a 2009 stadium massacre that killed more than 150 people, Guinean officials confirmed Tuesday. Abubakar 'Toumba' Diakite was the head of the presidential guard at the time of the massacre, and an investigative commission later determined he was to blame for ordering the violence. An Interpol notice was issued for him five years ago." (12/20/16)

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/world/ex-guinea-military-leader-sought-in-massacre-arrested/article_613d7637-7d34-5d13-9970-cb25747a3363.html  

No Comments »

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