News and Headlines. 2/17/2020

News and Headlines: In The News, Politics, World News, Commentary/Opinion.

In The News:

Grandparents, teen uncle charged after 12-year-old Montana boy beaten to death in ‘systematic torture’

James Alex Hurley was found dead on Feb. 3. (Gallatin County Sheriffs Office)
James Alex Hurley was found dead on Feb. 3. (Gallatin County Sheriffs Office)

James Alex Hurley was found dead at home in West Yellowstone on Feb. 3 with multiple injuries across his body, including a large gash on the back of his head, according to charging documents obtained by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

An autopsy showed that James died from blunt force trauma to his head and, during an investigation into the suspicious death, detectives found videos of his grandparents, James Sasser Jr., 47, and Patricia Batts, 48, and 14-year-old uncle, James Sasser III, torturing him, including slapping, choking, paddling and verbal abuse.

Batts said James, who slept on the living room floor, was mumbling and moaning overnight before she found him dead the next morning.

Construction company owner lied about being minority-owned to get over $2 million in CHA contracts: feds

Coleman Development Corporation, 7258 S. Halsted St. Google Maps
Coleman Development Corporation, 7258 S. Halsted St.
 Google Maps

Lester Coleman, 62, owner of Coleman Development Corp., faces three counts of wire fraud for calling his business minority-owned but allegedly subcontracting nearly all of the work to non-minority-owned businesses, according to an indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern Illinois District.

The indictment also states Coleman was paying wages below the required federal prevailing wage.

The website of Coleman Development Corp. describes itself as a “small minority owned construction company founded in 1996.”

Mastercard Wants to Identify You by Your Heartbeat, Veins


Payment provider Mastercard announced this week that it is developing various technologies that will allow it to identify customers by their strides, heartbeat, and vein patterns.

According to a report by MarketWatch, Mastercard is developing biometric technology that will allow the payment provider and other companies to identify their customers based on unusual biometrics.

The new technology will specifically allow Mastercard to identify customers based on the way that they walk, the unique pattern of their heartbeat, and the layout of their veins.

Why Google’s New Limits On Third-Party Cookies Are Another Attempt To Control The Web

Rather than representing a meaningful step toward protecting user privacy, as it claims, Google’s “Privacy Sandbox” is a brazen move to eliminate its digital advertising competitors while continuing to construct a monopoly of personally identifiable information on billions of users.

Google does robust business in targeted ads, reaping $135 billion in 2019. Other third-party companies did, too. But not anymore.

In other words, Google’s policy is not about eliminating cookies — which aren’t even that intrusive compared to the trove of personal information Google has on users.

Rather, the policy is about eliminating competition and ensuring Google is the only company that continues to collect all the revenue-generating, personally identifiable information.

Although it claims to take privacy “very seriously,” the company has worked with the U.S. government to conduct warrantless searches on Americans, failed to protect user data from intrusion by the National Security Administration, and helped China build a censorship regime. In fact, Google continues to help China surveil its citizens.

SpaceX loses Falcon 9 booster at sea after successful Starlink launch

SpaceX successfully launched a new batch of its Starlink satellites on Monday morning, but the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that put them in orbit missed its landing on a floating platform at sea.

It’s the first time that’s happened in almost four years; the last time Falcon 9 booster failed to land on one of SpaceX’s drone ships was in June 2016.

It’s not yet clear what happened during Monday’s attempted landing.

On the broadcast, all that could be seen was a puff of smoke or steam to the side of the drone ship, indicating that the Falcon 9 booster missed the platform by a fairly wide margin.

Drew Carey’s ex-fiancée Amie Harwick murdered, ex-boyfriend arrested, police say

Dr. Amie Harwick, seen here with Drew Carey in December 2017, was murdered in Los Angeles over the weekend, police said.
Dr. Amie Harwick, seen here with Drew Carey in December 2017, was murdered in Los Angeles over the weekend, police said. (Michael Bezjian/WireImage, File)

Harwick, 38, a Los Angeles family therapist, apparently plummeted from a third-floor balcony to her death early Saturday, according to a news release from the LAPD.

The suspect, 41-year-old Gareth Pursehouse, was arrested outside his home in Playa del Rey and booked on murder charges, the release explained.

Harwick and Pursehouse recently had broken up and she filed a restraining order against him, but it had expired and he had seen him two weeks ago.

Hollywood stuntwoman, husband killed after shootout: reports

Cheryl Wheeler Sanders has died.
Cheryl Wheeler Sanders has died.

Cheryl Sanders, 59, and husband Robert Reed Sanders allegedly approached her ex-husband Lindsey Duncan and his new wife Molly at their Yellow Springs home — leading to a shootout with hundreds of shots fired.

Duncan said he and his wife were returning home to pick up mail and a delivery at their gate when Reed, allegedly wearing a mask and hoodie, held a gun to his wife’s head.

“The word ‘ambush’ is exactly what it was,” Molly Duncan said at a press conference on Friday. “We were caught off guard. They said nothing and they started shooting at us.”

Reed Sanders was reportedly shot first, before Cheryl, who was armed also arrived and was killed in the gunfire, police said. They were both shot and killed by Duncan, the Dayton Daily News said.

Startling threats and violence against GOP voters: Part of a pattern?

A startling rash of threats and violent incidents targeting Republican voters in recent weeks is raising concerns about the increasingly toxic political climate, just as the 2020 presidential primaries are getting started.

The incidents began earlier this month when a Florida man, Gregory Timm, 27, allegedly rammed his van into a Republican Party voter registration tent. According to reports, Timm ran over chairs and tables, and witnesses said he recorded the scene moments after the incident, made an obscene gesture and sped off.

Also, over the weekend, protesters at the University of California at Santa Cruz smashed a College Republicans information table.

Also, last week, retired New York City police officer Daniel Sprague said he got punched in the face at a Tennessee bar, all because he was wearing a birthday hat and a shirt with Trump-like slogans.

The man was wearing a hat that said “Make Fifty Great Again” and a shirt that said “Making America Great since 1970.”

New book reveals explosive details about Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton tarmac meeting

“We knew something had occurred that was a bit unusual. It was a planned meeting.

It was not a coincidence,” journalist Christopher Sign told “Fox & Friends” about the explosive meeting that cast a negative light over the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Sign said: “[Secret on the Tarmac] details everything that they don’t want you to know and everything they think you forgot, but Bill Clinton was on that plane for 20 minutes and it wasn’t just about golf, grandkids, and Brexit.

There’s so much that doesn’t add up.”He said that his source who was there outlined that when Clinton arrived at the airport, he was waiting for Lynch.


Climate change alarmist John Legend, wife Chrissy Teigen use a private jet to snag a quick Valentine’s Day dinner

Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage
Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage

The local restaurants must have been completely booked up, as the climate conscious couple elected to hire a private jet to fly them 500 miles from their Beverly Hills home to a French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California.

Teigen shared clips of the experience on her Instagram story, which showed her relaxing in the private jet across from her husband on the way to dinner.

The Daily Mail captured the clips and produced a video:

Man kicks in back door of house, charges at homeowner — who has a gun and fires. It proves to be suspect’s final home invasion.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Police said the homeowner and his family were not injured, KATU noted.

The station spoke with criminal defense attorney Kris Carrasco, who said homeowners have a right to protect themselves. Washington is a Stand Your Ground state, KATU said.

“In a self-defense situation you do not have a duty to retreat,” Carrasco told the station. “You don’t have to run away before asserting your right to self-defense.”

But he also warned homeowners that there is such a thing as using too much force when defending themselves, KATU noted.

Toxic Products | Full Measure

We usually trust that the shampoo, deodorant, lotions and cosmetics we use are safe.

You might be surprised to hear of a gap that has allowed potentially toxic and untested products stay on the shelf.

Joce Sterman investigates.


Kobach: The New Way Forward Bill Isn’t Just Bad Policy; It’s Insanity

Ross D. Franklin/AP
Ross D. Franklin/AP

So, what’s in the bill that’s so bad? One of the worst parts has already gotten some attention from conservative critics such as Tucker Carlson.

It prohibits the deportation of aliens for criminal activity carrying a minimum sentence of less than five years. It similarly removes the automatic deportation of those aliens who commit crimes of moral turpitude.

In short, the enforcement of immigration laws would grind to a halt. Sanctuary cities would become the new norm. Thousands of alien criminals would be given free flights back into the United States.

And many Americans would lose their lives as a result of the crimes that ensued. Their federal government, which was supposed to protect them, would have knowingly put them in danger.

Just imagine being a victim of a previously-deported alien criminal who was flown back into the country courtesy of the U.S. government. Attacked by a criminal alien and betrayed by your country.

“Insanity” isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.

Tom Homan slams Dem resistance to Trump’s sanctuary city plan

Tom Homan, former acting ICE director, weighs in on President Trump’s fight against sanctuary cities and plans to deploy agents to help ICE officers.

U.S. Senate may demand testimony from Trump-impeachment ‘whistleblower’

Ukraine specialist Eric Ciaramella poses for a photo with former President Barack Obama at the White House.
Ukraine specialist Eric Ciaramella poses for a photo with former President Barack Obama at the White House. (Washington Examiner screenshot of photo published on the website for a Ciaramella friend’s 2018 wedding.)

The Hill is reporting that Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chief of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is open to demanding the whistleblower answer questions.

“I think you can rest assured that I’m prepared to do whatever we have to to interview the whistleblower,” Burr told The Hill.

That investigation, at least in part, would focus on the alleged wrongdoing by those who orchestrated the impeachment campaign against the president.

While a timeline for the panel’s investigative work hasn’t been defined yet, Burr said any interview should happen “sooner rather than later.”

‘Obama Personally Asked the FBI to Investigate Someone on Behalf of George Soros,’ Says Alan Dershowitz

Former President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Former President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“I have some information as well about the Obama administration, which will be disclosed in a lawsuit at some point, but I’m not prepared to disclose it now, about how President Obama personally asked the FBI to investigate somebody on behalf of George Soros, who was a close ally of his,” he said.

Dershowitz was responding to the over-the-top hand-wringing going on in the media after Donald Trump tweeted out his disgust at the sentencing recommendation of up to nine years for Roger Stone, which was announced by prosecutors at the Justice Department.

“We’ve seen this kind of White House influence on the Justice Department virtually in every Justice Department,” continued Dershowitz.

“The difference is this president is much more overt about it. He tweets about it. President Obama whispered to the Justice Department about it.

Source: Democrat Senator Held Secret Meeting In Munich With Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and other Democratic senators had a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jahad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference last week, according to a source briefed by the French delegation to the conference.

Such a meeting would mean Murphy had done the type of secret coordination with foreign leaders to potentially undermine the U.S. government that he accused Trump officials of doing as they prepared for Trump’s administration.

In February 2017, Murphy demanded investigations of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn because he had a phone call with his counterpart-to-be in Russia.

However, Murphy has previously defended rogue meetings if they’re done by Democrats such as former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Virginia Senate strikes down ‘assault weapons’ ban bill; won’t revisit for a year

Gun rights protestors gather under the Virginia State Capitol for a rally in support of Second Amendment rights on January 20, 2020,
Gun rights protestors gather under the Virginia State Capitol for a rally in support of Second Amendment rights on January 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va.
(Rob Ostermaier/Virginian Pilot/TNS)

Virginia’s state senate has voted down an effort to institute an “assault weapons” ban across the state.

The ban would have prohibited the sale of certain semi automatic firearms, including popular rifles like the AR-15, and banned the ownership of magazines that can hold more than 12 rounds.

While Democrats hold a narrow majority in Virginia’s senate, four moderate Democrats joined Republicans in opposition to the controversial gun bill, according to the Associated Press.

AOC challengers speak out on ‘Fox & Friends’ on their campaigns

Democrat Badrun Khan, Republican John Cummings and Republican Scherie Murray say Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bad for their New York district.

World News:

Israelis gather in Jerusalem to pray against coronavirus – 17.2.20 TV7 Israel News

1) Sporadic rocket-fire and clusters of balloons rigged with explosives continue to plague Israel’s southern communities – prompting Israeli retaliatory strikes against Hamas installations in the Central Gaza Strip.

2) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlights advancing efforts by both Israeli and American teams on the work of mapping West Bank territories that are set to become part of sovereign Israel, in accordance U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century.

3) Hundreds of Israelis and Visitors gather at Jerusalem’s Western Wall for a mass prayer to keep the deadly coronavirus at bay.

Cyprus buys missiles, partners with France for exercises to thwart Turkey

Cyprus announced the purchase of French-made Mistral and Exocet missiles to heighten its air defense capabilities as its conflict with Turkey escalates.
Cyprus announced the purchase of French-made Mistral and Exocet missiles to heighten its air defense capabilities as its conflict with Turkey escalates.
Photo courtesy of MBDA

Cyprus, a Mediterranean Sea island nation and not a member of NATO, has 35,000 Turkish troops stationed in the northern one-third of the island, part of an ongoing conflict over sovereignty.

Only Turkey recognizes the independence of a country it calls the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. Turkey has also claimed potentially vast gas reserves south of the island.

France is an ally of Cyprus and Greece against Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean Sea.

The French energy Company Total is also drilling for oil and gas in the region, and Turkey dispatched its warships nearby to protect its research vessels.

EU industry chief tells Facebook to adapt to EU, not other way round

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 17, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The blunt comments came after a short meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and two days before Breton is due to present the first of a raft of rules to rein in U.S. tech giants and state-aided Chinese companies.

Zuckerberg had earlier told reporters he had a good, wide-ranging conversation with Breton.

Breton also said he would decide by the end of the year whether to adopt tough rules as part of the digital services act to regulate online platforms and set out their responsibilities.

Chinese doctors: Coronavirus can reinfect people, and the second infection can lead to heart failure

Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The information comes from doctors working in the Hubei province of China, where the virus originated, who spoke under the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution from the Chinese government, which has attempted to suppress information about the virus outbreak and punish those who leak info.

“It’s highly possible to get infected a second time,” a doctor told the Taiwan News.

“A few people recovered from the first time by their own immune system, but the meds they use are damaging their heart tissue, and when they get it the second time, the antibody doesn’t help but makes it worse, and they die a sudden death from heart failure.”

EU agrees to deploy warships to enforce Libya arms embargo

The German frigate Augsburg.
The German frigate Augsburg. The new operation will involve naval ships, planes and satellites. Photograph: Focke Strangmann/EPA

Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, announced that 27 foreign ministers had agreed to launch a new operation with naval ships, planes and satellites in order to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

To counter objections that the operation could morph into a rescue mission, Borrell promised the ships would be withdrawn if they became “a pull factor” that encouraged people to attempt the risky crossing from Libya to Europe.

This commitment helped lift opposition to the mission from Italy and Austria, whose governments had blocked an earlier compromise.

No Let Up in Taliban Attacks, Fresh Orders Awaited Over Deal With US

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani delivers remarks to US military personnel beside US President Donald Trump during a surprise visit at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan,
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani delivers remarks to US military personnel beside US President Donald Trump during a surprise visit at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Tom Brenner / File.

Taliban fighters attacked Afghan government forces overnight, and militant commanders said on Monday insurgency operations would go-ahead until they receive fresh instructions based on a deal with the United States to reduce violence in the country.

On Sunday night, Taliban fighters attacked Afghan government forces manning a checkpoint in the northern province of Kunduz. According to a statement by Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid, they killed 19 security personnel.

Despite the violence on the ground, a senior Taliban leader in Doha confirmed a deal with the United States is set to be signed by the end of February in a “signing ceremony” in Doha.

Syrian Forces Consolidate Control of Aleppo, Airstrikes Under Way

A Syrian army soldier smokes cigarette as he sits on a military vehicle in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria,
A Syrian army soldier smokes cigarette as he sits on a military vehicle in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria, Aug. 24, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Omar Sanadiki / File.

The Syrian army said on Monday it had taken full control of dozens of towns in Aleppo’s northwestern countryside and it would press on with its campaign to wipe out militant groups “wherever they are found.”

Backed by heavy Russian air strikes, the government forces have been fighting since the start of the year to recapture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighboring Idlib province where anti-Assad insurgents hold their last strongholds.

Government air strikes on Monday hit Darat Izza, near the Turkish border about 30 km (20 miles) north of Aleppo city, wounding several civilians and forcing two hospitals to close, according to hospital staff.

Pompeo blasts corruption, promotes U.S. business in Africa trip

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a business leaders reception at the Museu de Moeda in Luanda, Angola February 17, 2020.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a business leaders reception at the Museu de Moeda in Luanda, Angola February 17, 2020.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

Pompeo is aiming to promote U.S. investment as an alternative to Chinese loans while assuaging concerns over a planned U.S military withdrawal and the expansion of visa restrictions targeting four African countries.

In Angola’s capital Luanda, Pompeo met with President Joao Lourenco, who took office in 2017 promising wide-ranging economic reforms and a crackdown on the endemic graft that marked his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ four-decade rule.

“Here in Angola, damage from corruption is pretty clear,” he told a group of businessmen following that meeting. “This reform agenda that the president put in place has to stick.”

Rwandan gospel singer and critic of president dies in police cell

Kizito Mihigo was known for songs that promoted healing and forgiveness,
Kizito Mihigo was known for songs that promoted healing and forgiveness, and described by many as Rwanda’s biggest cultural figure.
Photograph: Kizito Mihigo/Facebook

Kizito Mihigo killed himself in Kigali on Monday, a police statement said.

The 38-year-old was an ethnic Tutsi survivor of the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsi died as well as moderate Hutus who tried to protect them.

The official account of his death is expected to be met with scepticism in a country where the government is frequently accused of targeting perceived critics.

Mihigo, described by many as Rwanda’s biggest cultural figure, had been pardoned in 2018 but was rearrested last week.

Gunmen kill 24 near Burkina Faso church as attacks against Christians increasing ‘at alarming rate’

Roughly 20 attackers separated men from women near a Protestant church in Pansi on Sunday before killing Christians and Muslims and setting the building on fire, officials in the West African country announced Monday.

“Perpetrators use victims’ links to government or their faith to justify the killings, while others appear to be reprisal killings for killings by the government security forces,” Corinne Dufka, the region’s director for Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press.

She added analysts are worried that attacks against civilians, including against Christians, are increasing there “at an alarming rate.”

Facebook, Google, and Apple visit European Commission in talks of new AI Policy

The European Union has recently led the way when it comes to efforts to keep big tech companies, with their immense power, in check.

Now the bloc turns its attention to the dangers of AI.

As big tech companies like Facebook and Google have invested huge amounts of money into the sector, they have sent executives to Brussels to debate the importance of innovation in the field.

As The New York Times reports, they spoke with officials including Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the European Commission, about the EU’s upcoming policy on how companies will be allowed to utilize AI.


Why the West Won

For the past few centuries, Western Civilization has dominated the world both culturally and economically. Why?

Some point to imperialism, slavery, and colonial wars. But those sins are common to all empires throughout history.

What separates the West from the rest?

Stanford historian Niall Ferguson has the answer in this highly informative video.

Juror 1261: Was Justice Undone In The Trial Of Roger Stone


In addition to her prior statements about Trump, his associates and this case, Hart is a lawyer.

That only magnifies concerns that any bias on her part may have had a more pronounced influence on her fellow jurors.

In fact, except for a jury pool composed entirely of House impeachment managers, Hart would appear to be a standout for a peremptory challenge by the defense team over bias.

That is why the most surprising aspect of this story is not the review of her public statements but the review of her examination before trial.

For example, Question 30 asked whether she had any opinion about figures such Donald Trump. There also was Question 23 that asked whether she had “written or posted anything for public consumption about the defendant,

If this information was withheld by Hart, it raises a question about the veracity of her testimony and, more importantly, the fairness of the trial.