PND News

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attacked the measure, introduced by Senate leader Phil Berger, as falling short of a bargain to kill HB2 once Charlotte repealed the ordinance that gave rise to it."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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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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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/  

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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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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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FL: Orlando shooting relatives sue social media giants

December 21, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The families of three men who were killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google (YouTube) alleging that the firms provided 'material support' to the so-called Islamic State. In their lawsuit, relatives of Juan Ramon Guerrero Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrrero, assert that the user-generated platforms aided in the radicalisation of gunman Omar Mateen. Mateen pledged allegiance to IS before he attacked Pulse, a gay nightclub in June - 49 people were killed, in what has been described as the worst mass shooting in recent US history. " (12/21/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-38392718  

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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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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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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  

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Court releases search warrant in Clinton email probe

December 21, 2016
posted by

Politico    

"Search warrant filings made public for the first time Tuesday provide a new look at controversial actions the FBI took shortly before the presidential election as the law enforcement agency revived its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email set-up. The warrant was issued by federal magistrate Kevin Fox in Manhattan on Oct. 30, after the FBI requested permission to search emails contained on a Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The FBI discovered Clinton-related emails on the computer after initially seizing the device during a probe over Weiner's alleged sexually explicit online exchanges with a minor. ... The records suggest Fox may have granted the warrant based exclusively on the FBI's contention [sic] that in the earlier phase of the Clinton email investigation, 'many emails' between Clinton and Abedin contained classified information, therefore emails between the pair from that same time period and suddenly discovered on Weiner's laptop were likely to also contain classified information and be evidence of a crime." (12/20/16)

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/clinton-email-investigation-search-warrant-released-232852  

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A “Wikileaks” for secret church documents launches for concerned Mormons

December 21, 2016
posted by

NBC News NBC News    

"The man behind a controversial YouTube site that publishes leaked videos disclosing the inner workings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a website where members and employees can anonymously submit leaked church documents. ... The site is the creation of a team led by Ryan McKnight of Las Vegas, a former Mormon who began discussing his disillusionment with the church online more than two years ago. In October, he began publishing leaked videos of meetings among top church leaders on a YouTube channel that has amassed 2,200 followers in just a few weeks." (12/20/16)

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wikileaks-secret-church-documents-launches-concerned-mormons-n698496  

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Hope Not Hate crowd-funds plan to sue Nigel Farage for saying mean things about them

December 21, 2016
posted by

Independent [UK]    

"Anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate has launched a crowd-funding campaign to sue Nigel Farage after he referred to them as 'extremists' who 'masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means.' The organisation's director, Nick Lowles, announced on Twitter it had written to the former Ukip leader demanding he withdraw the claims or face legal action." [editor's note: I sometimes daydream about suing people who say things I don't like. Then I wake up and remember that I an not a five-year-old spoiled brat - TLK] (12/20/16)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hope-not-hate-nigel-farage-lawsuit-sue-crowdfunding-jo-cox-brendan-comments-berlin-attack-a7487226.html  

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FL: Vandals attack pentagram erected to protest Nativity scene

December 20, 2016
posted by

US News & World Report US News & World Report    

"A 300-pound metal sculpture of a satanic pentagram, erected as an atheist protest to a public park's Nativity scene, was severely damaged on Tuesday when it was pulled to the ground by vandals. Atheist Preston Smith's 10-foot tall sculpture lay broken in Sanborn Square at noon. Tire tracks led from the twisted metal to the street. It appeared vandals had attached a chain from a vehicle to the sculpture and yanked it down, dragging it several feet. As local television reporters prepared live broadcasts, two passersby stopped and pushed the sculpture back onto its base before walking away. The sculpture sits about 20 feet from a traditional Nativity scene of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, and is backed by a banner from an atheist group reading 'Keep Saturn in Saturnalias,' a reference to the belief that the early Christian church substituted Christmas for a Roman pagan holiday." (12/20/16)

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2016-12-20/vandals-attack-pentagram-erected-to-protest-nativity-scene  

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MI: Two former Flint emergency managers, two others face felony charges over water crisis

December 20, 2016
posted by

National Public Radio [US state media]    

"Michigan's attorney general has announced felony charges against two former emergency managers of Flint, Mich., and two other former city officials. The charges are linked to the city's disastrous decision to switch water sources, ultimately resulting in widespread and dangerous lead contamination. ... Former Emergency Managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose were each charged with two felonies that carry penalties of up to 20 years -- false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses --along with misconduct in office, also a felony, and willful neglect of duty in office, a misdemeanor. Howard Croft, who was Flint's director of the Department of Public Works, and Daugherty Johnson, who was the department's utilities director, were each charged with false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses." (12/20/16)

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/20/506314203/2-former-flint-emergency-managers-face-felony-charges-over-water-crisis  

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Study: Marijuana use on the rise among pregnant women

December 20, 2016
posted by

Live Science    

"Marijuana use among pregnant women in the U.S. increased by 62 percent from 2002 to 2014, a new study finds. Researchers found that 3.9 percent of pregnant women reported on a 2014 government survey that they had used marijuana during the past month, up from 2.4 percent who said the same on a 2002 survey, according to the study. ... Writing in an editorial that was published in the same journal as the study, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and two of her colleagues noted that 'although the evidence for the effects of marijuana on human prenatal development is limited at this point, research does suggest that there is cause for concern.'" (12/20/16)

http://www.livescience.com/57256-trends-marijuana-use-pregnant-women.html  

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MO: St. Louis prosecutor uncovers “important evidence” in voter fraud probe, turns over case to feds

December 20, 2016
posted by

St. Louis Post-Dispatch    

"The city's top prosecutor said her office 'uncovered important evidence' in a voter fraud investigation centered on a August primary statehouse race that has since been reversed by voters. The case has now been turned over to the U.S. attorney's office. ... [Circuit Attorney Jennifer M.] Joyce's office began its investigation three months ago, at the request of the Board of Election Commissioners. The board had received complaints from voters supporting Bruce Franks Jr., who had lost in his bid to unseat incumbent Penny Hubbard in the race for 78th District state representative. The hand-delivered letters from three dozen Franks supporters to the Election Board alleged that absentee ballots cast in the Aug. 2 primary were 'obtained illegally, were tampered with, or both.'" (12/20/16)

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/st-louis-prosecutor-uncovers-important-evidence-in-voter-fraud-probe/article_3986c015-a31a-591d-a99d-f72362d6f92f.html  

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Trump to pay $25 million settlement for Trump University con two days before inauguration

December 20, 2016
posted by

New York Daily News    

"President-elect Donald Trump is guaranteeing he'll pay out the $25-million settlement reached last month in fraud cases in New York and California involving his now defunct for-profit Trump University before he is inaugurated, according to newly released details of the deal. Trump, according to details of the settlement filed Monday night, will make the payments to the plaintiffs' lawyers by Jan. 18, 2017 -- two days before he'll be sworn in as President. ... The suits -- filed in New York and California -- alleged that Trump University was a scam that did not provide them with the real estate expertise it promised." (12/20/16)

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-u-fraud-case-payment-paid-2-days-inauguration-article-1.2917556  

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Cities, counties plan immigrant legal aid after Trump win

December 20, 2016
posted by

Jacksonville Journal Courier    

"Major U.S. cities and counties are beefing up legal services for immigrants to help them fight deportation and avoid fraudulent lawyers in the wake of Donald Trump's election and his hard-line immigration enforcement promises. ... Chicago has approved a $1.3 million legal fund. Los Angeles elected officials said Monday they are working with private foundations to set up a $10 million fund, while some California state lawmakers have proposed spending tens of millions of dollars to provide lawyers to immigrants facing deportation. New York is mulling a public-private legal fund, building on New York City's public defender program that's considered a national model." (12/20/16)

http://myjournalcourier.com/news/103747/cities-counties-plan-immigrant-legal-aid-after-trump-win  

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Trump wins Electoral College vote ahead of Clinton, Powell, Paul, Spotted Eagle, Kasich

December 20, 2016
posted by

Politico    

Donald Trump swept aside a last-ditch bid to block his ascension to the White House on Monday, officially claiming the title of president-elect with his Electoral College victory. Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton follows a desperate and unprecedented attempt by Democratic electors to foment a revolt by convincing Republican electors to vote against him, an effort that collapsed with little to show for it. Just two of the 306 Republican electors, both from Texas, ultimately cast a ballot against Trump. One was Chris Suprun, who announced his intentions in a New York Times op-ed on Dec. 5, and voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Another Texas elector voted for Ron Paul .... The most tumult occurred in Washington state, where four Democrats broke ranks and rejected Clinton. Three voted for Colin Powell, marking the first electoral votes for an African-American Republican, and the first time in history a major party elector crossed the aisle and supported a candidate of the opposing major party. The fourth elector, Robert Satiacum, cast his ballot for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American environmental activist." (12/19/16)

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/trump-electoral-college-win-democrats-infighting-232814  

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