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Westlake Legal Group > News and News Media (Page 67)

America’s Top Foundations Bankroll Attack on Big Tech

Westlake Legal Group 10Antitrust-illo-facebookJumbo America’s Top Foundations Bankroll Attack on Big Tech Wu, Timothy Open Markets Institute Omidyar, Pierre M Income Inequality Hughes, Chris (1983- ) Hewlett, William and Flora, Foundation ford foundation Economic Security Project Athena (Coalition) Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues

WASHINGTON — Critics of big tech companies are eager to keep up their momentum — and some of country’s wealthiest foundations are providing the financial firepower.

Major nonprofits including the Ford and Hewlett Foundations have pledged millions of dollars in total toward taking on the power of the country’s corporate giants like Facebook and Amazon. Other supporters include groups run by George Soros, the billionaire financier, and Pierre Omidyar, an eBay founder.

The foundations regularly fund critical looks at capitalism. The Ford Foundation, for example, supports many organizations that study and fight inequality. The Hewlett Foundation, whose lineage goes back to a founder of Hewlett-Packard and has a $10 billion endowment, has put a slice of its money toward organizations re-examining the free market economic policies that dominate Washington.

But the financial support is reaching new heights, and it could help the activists keep pressure on Silicon Valley by building the sort of political might that has powered liberal policy victories on issues like civil rights and net neutrality. Activists recently announced a coalition to take on Amazon, for example, that includes organizers around the country.

One of the groups receiving foundation money is led by Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who now publicly argues for breaking up the social media giant. His group, the Economic Security Project, is pooling some of the money and then distributing it to projects focused on antitrust and concentration concerns. Mr. Hughes, wealthy from his time at Facebook, has contributed some of the money himself.

The Economic Security Project plans to give antitrust activists $10 million over the next 18 months. On Tuesday, the organization will announce how it plans to spend the first $3 million, putting the money toward grass-roots organizers, researchers at several Washington think tanks and a group that recruits artists to make graphics that “expose how our economy really works.”

The coming years will test whether the efforts of the advocates can harness the skepticism about large corporations and the wealthy that is animating the Democratic presidential primary race. Federal and state officials have already announced investigations into Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.

Ultimately, these advocates hope to address corporate concentration in numerous businesses, including drugs and farm products, and combat rising economic inequality.

They have their work cut out for them. Tech companies spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying every year. And antitrust issues hinge on dense questions of law and economics that don’t fit on a bumper stickers.

“It’s not just about trends and corporate accountability,” said Maria Torres-Springer, the vice president for United States programs at the Ford Foundation, which has a $12 billion endowment. “It’s about creating and sustaining a movement that rebuilds political and economic power for everyday Americans.”

A leading beneficiary of the money is the Open Markets Institute, a research group whose focus on antitrust issues has been pivotal in making corporate concentration a matter of public debate. It expects to bring in more than $3 million in 2020, according to an internal document from the first half of this year. In 2016, before the group split off from a bigger organization, New America, its revenue topped out at just over $900,000.

This year, the Knight Foundation, which focuses on journalism, awarded Open Markets $2 million to study the impact that concentration among technology platforms has on the media. In September, the Ford Foundation gave it $200,000 to examine how tech monopolies affect workers. A public campaign it has led to break up Facebook will expand to include Google next year, according to Sarah Miller, the organization’s deputy director.

Mr. Hughes’s Economic Security Project is contributing to that campaign. It is also paying for Open Markets to conduct public opinion polling.

“Our view is you need an ecosystem,” Mr. Hughes said. “You need a community of people who generally share the same values but who, among themselves, may even have different approaches to the issues.”

Another progressive group, Jobs With Justice, plans to hold sessions next year explaining to people the antitrust case against tech companies in simple terms. In the draft script of the training, the session’s leader seizes on a simple metaphor, asking attendees to consider two lemonade stands.

The first stand belongs to someone whose family owns the local grocery store, so it gets its lemons free. The family’s neighbors, who opened a competing stand, aren’t so lucky. Over time, the first stand is able to slash its prices to undercut the second stand.

The session leader asks for a volunteer to play the person running the stand that can’t use a family connection to get free fruit. The volunteer has to decide whether to engage in a price war with the more powerful competitor while an organizer charts the volunteer’s dire financial situation on butcher paper.

Each situation ends with the volunteer’s lemonade stand closing and a revelation: Amazon, the session leader will tell participants, has used this tactic against its competitors.

“What we wanted to do was create some field materials, some training materials, just to even explain what a monopoly meant for people,” said Erica Smiley, Jobs With Justice’s executive director. “Outside of people maybe playing the board game, it’s kind of an old idea that maybe they learned in their fourth grade civics class but haven’t necessarily re-upped on.”

Ms. Smiley’s group is one participant in Athena, the new coalition organizing opposition to Amazon over antitrust, privacy and other concerns. The coalition says it wants to raise $15 million in its first three years.

Athena will receive money from Mr. Hughes’s fund, along with other groups trying to rally the grass roots to the cause.

The civil rights group Color of Change plans to use its funding from the project to pay for new hires to lead public campaigns around antitrust issues, while the Action Center on Race and the Economy will run “corporate campaigns designed to influence the public narrative on corporate concentration and win real victories for communities of color around the country.”

Other projects, like the artists’ group, are focused on finding new ways to explore the antitrust issue. Mr. Hughes’s group paid for a New York event in November — held by a project called the Museum of Capitalism — where people could play versions of the board game Monopoly that are meant to call out inequities in the economy.

Mr. Hughes will also finance some groups doing academic research on corporate concentration and intends to support more researchers in the future.

“If you’re going to see real change, you need a community of scholars who are in dialogue with one another,” he said.

Money is already flowing to campuses. In November, the Knight Foundation allocated $3.5 million to researchers to examine questions about digital platforms, including competition issues.

The foundation, along with Mr. Omidyar’s philanthropic network, has also provided the money to introduce an antitrust-focused initiative at Yale’s business school. In an interview, Sam Gill, a Knight executive, said the foundation had not yet taken a position on whether there should be an antimonopoly movement but felt it was important to finance inquiries into the questions posed by major tech companies.

In recent years, more potential solutions to corporate concentration have emerged. While some believe in aggressive approaches like breaking up companies, others prefer new regulations or other measures.

At a conference at the University of Utah this fall, Dan Crane, a conservative law professor, challenged a group of participants including Tim Wu, a legal scholar and New York Times contributing opinion writer who is a leading voice calling for more aggressive antitrust enforcement. Mr. Crane pushed them to be more specific about the changes they would like to see in how antitrust laws are interpreted and enforced.

Over box lunches, the group wrote a statement, later published by Mr. Wu, listing legal precedents the group hopes will be overturned and policies it hopes will be enacted.

“Those who believe in a strong revival of antitrust, and a return to its antimonopoly roots, have a duty to specify what, exactly, they mean, in concrete, legal detail,” the statement said.

Mr. Wu said that, among other purposes, the statement could be a test for judicial nominees. It’s a focus reminiscent of the playbook that helped build the conservative legal movement — which in turn shaped the antitrust laws Mr. Wu and his compatriots criticize today.

“Over a 30-year period, they won almost every one of those battles,” Mr. Wu said. “They just sort of said, ‘Here’s what it should be,’ and it happened.”

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Andrew Yang qualifies for next debate after release of new poll

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6095150483001_6095151358001-vs Andrew Yang qualifies for next debate after release of new poll Paul Steinhauser fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/politics fnc cbc078ac-ecde-5e45-9349-2fe34d71244c article

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang stands at 4 percent in a new national poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University — which means the first-time candidate and tech-entrepreneur has qualified to take the stage at next week’s sixth Democratic presidential primary debate.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 29 percent support in the poll, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 21 percent. Biden jumped 5 percentage points and Sanders climbed 4 points from Quinnipiac’s previous national poll in the Democratic nomination race, which was released late last month.

YANG DIPLOMATICALLY RESPONDS TO AOC’S ‘FREEDOM DIVIDEND’ CRITICISM

Prior to the release of the new survey, Yang’s campaign had said it remained one poll shy of reaching the thresholds to make the stage at the Dec. 19 showdown.

Candidates must reach at least 4 percent in four surveys recognized as qualifying polls by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or 6 percent in two polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Yang has already reached the other qualifying criteria — receiving contributions from at least 200,000 individual donors.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii still remains one poll shy of qualifying for the debate. She grabbed the support of 2 percent in the new Quinnipiac University survey among Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party.

On Monday, Gabbard announced that she wouldn’t attend the debate even if she qualifies. The candidate said instead, she’ll meet with voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Candidates have until the end of Thursday to reach the polling and donor thresholds. The Democratic National Committee will wait unit after the deadline to officially announce which White House hopefuls have qualified for the debate.

By qualifying, Yang, an Asian-American, becomes the first non-Caucasian candidate to make the debate stage.

BUTTIGIEG SUPPORT DROPS IN NEW QUINNIPIAC POLL

Sen. Kamala Harris — one of three black candidates running for the Democratic nomination — had qualified, but the California senator last week ended her bid for the White House. The lack of a non-white candidate on the debate stage from a field that, at its zenith, was arguably the most racially diverse in history raised concerns with some voters.

Yang — once the longest of long-shots who has seen his campaign surge to middle tier status thanks in part to his promise of a $1,000-per-month Freedom Dividend payment to all adults — has qualified for all of the Democratic primary debates.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts stands at 15 percent in the new poll, basically unchanged from last month. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg plunged from 16 percent support in last month’s poll to 9 percent.

“This is the first time Biden has had a double-digit lead since August, and Sanders’ best number since June. While Warren’s numbers seem to have stabilized, Buttigieg’s numbers have dipped,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said.

BLOOMBERG’S MASSIVE AD BLITZ SO FAR NOT BUYING THE LOVE OF PRIMARY VOTERS

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg grabbed 5 percent support in the Quinnipiac survey. The multi-billionaire business and media mogul, who declared his candidacy two and a half weeks ago, also stood at 5 percent in a Monmouth University national poll that was also released on Tuesday.

Besides Yang and Gabbard, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota stood at 3 percent. No other candidate in the still-large field of Democratic White House hopefuls topped 1 percent.

The poll also indicates that Biden, Sanders, Warren, Bloomberg and Buttigieg each with upper to middle single-digit advantages over President Trump in hypothetical 2020 general election matchups.

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The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from Wednesday to Monday, with 1,533 registered voters nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey includes 665 Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6095150483001_6095151358001-vs Andrew Yang qualifies for next debate after release of new poll Paul Steinhauser fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/politics fnc cbc078ac-ecde-5e45-9349-2fe34d71244c article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6095150483001_6095151358001-vs Andrew Yang qualifies for next debate after release of new poll Paul Steinhauser fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/tulsi-gabbard fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/politics fnc cbc078ac-ecde-5e45-9349-2fe34d71244c article

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Dan Bongino files $15M defamation suit against The Daily Beast for ‘reckless disregard for the truth’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087586241001_6087580974001-vs Dan Bongino files $15M defamation suit against The Daily Beast for ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc c8a45bf6-d985-5b99-aede-8091f023cca6 Brian Flood article

Secret Service agent-turned-conservative pundit Dan Bongino filed a $15 million defamation lawsuit against The Daily Beast on Tuesday for acting with “actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth” by reporting he was dropped by NRATV.

“I have been in an ongoing battle for a long time now with fake news media people that just report blatantly false things about me. It gets old, folks, really old. It’s been personally exhausting,” Bongino said Tuesday on his podcast.

“It’s not a crybaby snowflake thing, it’s my fight. We all have our own fights, but The Daily Beast, a while back, wrote a story about me,” Bongino explained. “They wrote a story about me that was patently false.”

DID JOE BIDEN CALL AN IOWA VOTER ‘FAT’ DURING HEATED EXCHANGE? TWITTER SURE THINKS SO

Bongino, a Fox News contributor, explained that a December 2018 report by Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay said he was “dropped” by NRATV, which is a “euphemism for being fired,” but the conservative pundit says the story was false.

“The author of the story texted me that he had heard from sources the opposite — the opposite was the true story — that I did not renew my contract,” Bongino said. “I was offered to stay, I was not dropped. I did not return by choice, I left… that story was false.”

“I gave them the opportunity multiple times, asked them on Twitter to correct it — they refused,” he added. “I gave them an opportunity via text recently to correct it. They refused. We are suing The Daily Beast for $15 million.”

The Daily Beast and Markay did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“There is only one way to make these people pay and that… we have to use the legal system and do it the right way,” Bongino said. “This is really disgusting… They picked on the wrong guy. I’m not going to allow you to defame my character.”

FEC COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST BLOOMBERG NEWS FOR INVESTIGATING TRUMP, NOT DEMS: ‘MOCKERY OF LEGITIMATE JOURNALISM’

The complaint, obtained by Fox News, was filed in the Southern District of Florida. The complaint calls the Beast a “digital assassin owned and controlled by billionaire Clinton-devotees, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg.”

The complaint says the Beast “falsely” stated that Bongino was fired by NRA TV despite the news organization having proof of the contrary. The document includes a text message from Markay in which he said to Bongino, “Heard you didn’t renew with NRATV?”

“As evidenced by his texts, Markay knew that NRA TV had not ‘dropped’ Plaintiff,” according to the complaint.

“Markay knew the truth — that Plaintiff had simply decided not to renew his contract,” the complaint says. “Rather, than report the truth as told to Markay by his source, Daily Beast deliberately misrepresented that NRATV fired Plaintiff and terminated his show.”

The complaint also says that The Daily Beast “promotes its left-wing ideology and agendas via its website and social media” and has “long-standing animus and ill-will” toward Bongino. The complaint indicates that the report in question was widely shared on social media.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Daily Beast’s false and defamatory statements were not published in good faith, the falsity was not due to an honest mistake of the facts, and there were no reasonable grounds for believing that the statements about Plaintiff were true,” according to the complaint. “In spite of Plaintiff’s request for a retraction and apology, Daily Beast refuses to make and issue a full and fair correction, apology, or retraction.”

“Daily Beast’s false and defamatory statements caused Plaintiff to suffer and incur both presumed and actual damages, including loss and injury to his business, insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, harm to Plaintiff’s name and reputation, out-of-pocket loss and other actual damages,” the complaint states.

Bongino declined further comment when reached by Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087586241001_6087580974001-vs Dan Bongino files $15M defamation suit against The Daily Beast for ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc c8a45bf6-d985-5b99-aede-8091f023cca6 Brian Flood article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087586241001_6087580974001-vs Dan Bongino files $15M defamation suit against The Daily Beast for ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc c8a45bf6-d985-5b99-aede-8091f023cca6 Brian Flood article

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Masked moviegoers interrupt showing of ‘No Safe Spaces’ documentary, police called

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094819278001_6094818555001-vs Masked moviegoers interrupt showing of ‘No Safe Spaces' documentary, police called fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc cc92915a-61f6-55c6-ad11-3bcde4014d66 Brian Flood article

Police officers responded to a call on Friday when Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager’s free speech film, “No Safe Spaces,” was allegedly interrupted by two masked men who some customers felt were looking to intimidate moviegoers.

The filmmakers are chalking up the incident to evidence as to why the movie is important in the first place.

The La Habra, California police department sent officers to the local Regal Theater after receiving a call that two male subjects who entered the movie theater for the 1:10 p.m. showing had covered their faces with bandanas.

“After all of the previews and ads were over and the movie was just starting, two thugs sporting hoodies, masks, sunglasses and carrying huge duffel bags ran, not walked, up the aisle and sat at the back of the theater right behind us. They looked like bank robbers, home invasion criminals… they were trying to act scary,” a moviegoer named Vanessa, who asked for her last name not be used, told Fox News.

DENNIS PRAGER: ‘NO SAFE SPACES’ SHOWS THE LEFT AS ‘A PURELY DESTRUCTIVE FORCE’

“As you can imagine, I was nervous that they were planning something even more nefarious than just visual intimidation,” Vanessa said.

Vanessa and other moviegoers complained to the theater and called the police. She said she was issued a refund and left.

“When the manager went in to check on them they had removed all intimidating items. They knew what they were doing,” Vanessa said. “Potential criminals got to stay while we had to leave because we were afraid they might do something violent. My son did not want to leave because he didn’t want them to succeed in their plan of intimidation and free speech suppression. But I told him a movie was not worth our lives in case they had weapons or something.”

DEVIN NUNES SUES CNN FOR $435M OVER ‘FALSE AND DEFAMATORY’ UKRAINE STORY

The La Habra police department confirmed to Fox News that they arrived on the scene after receiving a call about two men interrupting the film, but said no incident report was made. It’s unclear if the alleged troublemakers were trying to purposely disrupt the pro-free speech film for political reasons.

“They came full sprint to the top of the theater with bandanas on their face,” another attendee, Scott Stroud, confirmed to Fox News.

Stroud said that he pressured management to call the police, and they eventually obliged after initially downplaying the situation and assuring that the backpacks of the men were searched. Stroud said he explained the subject matter of the movie to theater workers in an effort to be taken seriously.

Stroud said police told him theater management didn’t think it was necessary to investigate further, but he disagrees.

“Common sense says you would want to question them,” Stroud said.

DENNIS PRAGER ON WHY NEW FILM ‘NO SAFE SPACES’ IS UNFAIRLY RATE

The La Habra police department declined to say why a report wasn’t filed.

“This story is quite angering, and an example of what is happening increasingly in America. I urge Americans to be courageous. It took courage for us to make this movie and now, apparently, it’s going to take courage for Americans to watch it,” the film’s producer Dennis Prager told Fox News. “America is the safe space in which we are supposed to be free to hear different ideas, including the ideas in this film, without fear of reprisal, and certainly without fear of physical harm.“

The documentary, which Prager has called a “wake-up call” to the American people, focuses on free speech being restricted to satisfy political agendas.

“If I know anything about my fellow Americans, it is that we are not easily frightened by thugs. I urge America to reject the fear that these incidents are designed to engender; be courageous, and go see our movie in a theater. This incident is exactly why this movie is so important,” Prager said.

A rep for the film told Fox News that the people affected have been given tickets to another screening.

“We were very disappointed to hear that our fans were subjected to this and have asked our partners at Regal to look into the matter. We’re also asking the police department for a full investigation,” said Alfred Hopton, publicist for “No Safe Spaces.”

“We know that Regal values our fans as much as we do and that they share our view that people should be able to enjoy a movie without feeling that they are in danger of being physically harmed.”

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Regal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We trust that nobody will be intimidated by events like this and we’re confident that all of our theatrical partners will continue to make sure that all steps are taking to ensure the physical safety of our moviegoers,” Hopton added.

“No Safe Spaces” features commentary from a variety of Hollywood actors, scholars, academics, political figures, and media members across the political spectrum, including Van Jones, Alan Dershowitz, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Cornel West, and Tim Allen.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094819278001_6094818555001-vs Masked moviegoers interrupt showing of ‘No Safe Spaces' documentary, police called fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc cc92915a-61f6-55c6-ad11-3bcde4014d66 Brian Flood article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094819278001_6094818555001-vs Masked moviegoers interrupt showing of ‘No Safe Spaces' documentary, police called fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc cc92915a-61f6-55c6-ad11-3bcde4014d66 Brian Flood article

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Impeach Trump. Save America.

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William Shatner Reportedly Files For Divorce From His Fourth Wife

Singlehood, not space, may be the final frontier for actor William Shatner.

TMZ is reporting that the 88-year-old “Star Trek” star has filed for divorce from his wife of 18 years, Elizabeth Shatner, 61.

Shatner married his fourth wife in 2001 and she reportedly signed a prenup.

The couple had no children, according to Page Six.

As part of the terms of the prenup, neither party will receive spousal support, according to Extra TV.

The actor, who owns a 360-acre horse breeding farm in Kentucky, is worth an estimated $100 million, according to the New York Daily News.

HuffPost reached out to Shatner for comment, but he did not immediately respond.

Westlake Legal Group 5defef78240000250a5a2e26 William Shatner Reportedly Files For Divorce From His Fourth Wife

Paul Archuleta via Getty Images William Shatner (left) has filed for divorce from his wife of 18 years, Elizabeth Shatner.

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At Least 1 Police Officer Dead After Jersey City Standoff

Westlake Legal Group facebook-default-wide At Least 1 Police Officer Dead After Jersey City Standoff

Updated at 4:32 p.m. ET

Multiple people, including one police officer, were killed during a deadly standoff on Tuesday in Jersey City, N.J., after after more than one shooter opened fire inside a local supermarket.

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that one officer was killed in the confrontation with shooters while two other officers and a civilian also sustained gunshot wounds but are in stable condition.

“We can confirm there’s multiple deceased inside the building,” Mayor Steven Fulop said at a news conference Tuesday, though he added that “we don’t know yet” how many people were killed or whether they were considered civilians or suspects.

It also remains unclear whether the shooters are at large. Jersey City police say that, as yet, there is no indication of links to terrorism.

“Today is a horrific day,” the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association tweeted Tuesday. “Officers have come under attack and we have several wounded. Our hearts are heavy and the violence is not over. We need prayers.”

Authorities have not yet publicly confirmed how the shootout began and unfolded. The New York Police Department has sent special operations officers to support local law enforcement just across the Hudson River.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that he had been briefed on the situation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department, especially with the officers shot during this standoff, and with the residents and schoolchildren currently under lockdown,” he said in a statement.

“I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation. Today reminds us of their bravery and the sacrifices they, and their families, make for our communities.”

This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

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Facebook and Barr Escalate Standoff Over Encrypted Messages

Westlake Legal Group 10facebook-sub-facebookJumbo Facebook and Barr Escalate Standoff Over Encrypted Messages WhatsApp Inc Instant Messaging Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Computer Security Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — Facebook executives and Attorney General William P. Barr sparred on Monday over whether encrypted messaging products should be open to law enforcement, escalating a standoff over privacy and policing.

In a letter from the company to Mr. Barr, the executives overseeing Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger, Will Cathcart and Stan Chudnovsky, wrote that creating a so-called backdoor into their services for law enforcement would make their users less safe.

“The ‘backdoor’ access you are demanding for law enforcement would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes, creating a way for them to enter our systems and leaving every person on our platforms more vulnerable to real-life harm,” the executives said. Their letter was sent ahead of a Senate hearing on Tuesday about encryption, at which Facebook and Apple executives testified.

At an afternoon event, Mr. Barr said that dealing with problems that strong encryption creates for law enforcement was one of the Justice Department’s “highest priorities.”

Mr. Barr said that drug cartels, child pornographers and other criminals increasingly used and hid behind messaging apps that law enforcement cannot access during investigations, even with a warrant. Companies like Facebook are selling the idea that “no matter what you do, you’re completely impervious to government surveillance,” Mr. Barr said.

“Do we want to live in a society like that?” he said. “I don’t think we do.”

The dueling comments were the latest volleys in a yearslong fight between tech companies and law enforcement officials over how to balance privacy and security with digital communications. It has ensnared not only Facebook, but also Apple, and it promises to become more intense as more messaging services become encrypted.

In 2016, a federal judge ordered Apple to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock an iPhone tied to a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. The agency ultimately unlocked the phone without Apple’s help, easing tensions for a time.

Mr. Barr renewed the debate this year, saying that Facebook’s moves toward end-to-end encryption — which shields the content of messages from everyone but the sender and recipient — makes it harder for law enforcement officers to track malicious behavior online. The technology makes it harder to investigate child predators and terrorists, he has said.

Mr. Barr, joined by his British and Australian counterparts, wrote an open letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in October asking that he take steps to enable “law enforcement to obtain lawful access to content in a readable and usable format.” Companies, they said, “should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content,” especially for the investigations of the most serious crimes.

Lawmakers of both parties echoed those worries on Tuesday, threatening to take action if the companies didn’t satisfy their concerns.

“You’re going to find a way to do this, or we’re going to do this for you,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “You’re either the solution, or you’re the problem.”

If Mr. Barr wants to push the issue with Facebook or another tech company, he could take the issue to court, as the government did during the fight over encryption with Apple in 2016. In that case, the Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone of an attacker in the San Bernardino shooting. Prosecutors successfully pursued a court order compelling Apple’s assistance. Apple opposed the order. But when the agency found another way to unlock the phone, it dropped the case.

Throughout the hearing on Tuesday, Facebook and Apple representatives said that the companies were committed to working with law enforcement. The witness from Facebook detailed how the company could detect malicious content in spite of encryption.

Encrypting its messaging products is the central aspect of Facebook’s plan to rebrand itself as privacy-focused, after being battered for years by revelations that it mishandled user data. But it has also put the company, which is already the subject of consumer privacy and antitrust investigations, on another collision course with governments around the world.

In recent years, Facebook has undergone a networkwide shift from spreading information openly through the News Feed to more private channels, like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram Direct. As users have flocked to one-to-one and private group messaging, it has become more difficult to root out the spread of illicit activity — drug dealing, child pornography, firearms trafficking.

The network also has come under intense criticism for the role private messaging has played in the proliferation of misinformation. In the months before the Brazilian presidential election in October 2018, WhatsApp groups created by anonymous users spread misleading voting and candidate information.

In most regions outside the United States, WhatsApp plays an outsize role in how people communicate with one another, surpassing standard text messaging and other methods. Facebook’s strategy, led by Mr. Zuckerberg, has been to seize on that popularity and focus more on private and group-chat experiences.

In March, Mr. Zuckerberg unveiled a grand plan to encrypt and knit together the back ends of the company’s messaging services, an enormous feat of coding that could take years. The move could eventually help Facebook monetize those services, which account for relatively little revenue.

Jay Sullivan, who oversees privacy and integrity for Messenger, told lawmakers at Tuesday’s hearing, “We think it is critical that American companies lead in the area of secure, encrypted messaging.”

David McCabe and Katie Benner reported from Washington, and Mike Isaac from San Francisco.

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Michigan high school student claims teacher grabbed ‘Women For Trump’ pin off her shirt

A Michigan high school student claims her teacher assaulted her last week because she was wearing a pin supporting President Trump.

Sadie Earegood, a 16-year-old junior at Mason High in Mason, Michigan, told Fox News on Tuesday that her teacher “aggressively” grabbed her “Women For Trump” pin that was attached to her jacket, saying he “took both hands and unlatched the pin from my jacket and put it upside down on his shirt and said it belongs upside down.”

She told Fox 47 the incident took place on Dec. 5 during school hours.

Westlake Legal Group Sadie Michigan high school student claims teacher grabbed 'Women For Trump' pin off her shirt fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/education fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc fec212f7-a4e9-538e-8377-64aae1c55e4d Bradford Betz article

Sadie Earegood, a high school junior, claims her teacher ripped off her “Women for Trump” pin during school hours.  (Sadie Earegood)

NEW SURVEY FINDS NEARLY HALF OF CONSERVATIVE STUDENTS HEARD ANTI-TRUMP RANTS FROM PROFESSORS

Her family has filed a police report, claiming that the teacher assaulted her, WILX 10 reported.

“He had no right to put his hands on my child over a pin or anything else,” said Sadie’s mother, Capi Earegood. “The First Amendment gives everyone the right to express their freedom of speech. No one should get that upset about someone wearing a political pin.”

Fox News reached out to Mason Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki and Mason Police Chief Don Hanson with a request for comment.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Sadie Earegood, meanwhile, said she won’t stop wearing political pins and being outspoken in her views.

“I just want him to know that it’s not okay to do that. I want this to be a learning experience for other teachers, and I’m not going to stop wearing my political stuff,” she told WILX 10.

Westlake Legal Group Sadie Michigan high school student claims teacher grabbed 'Women For Trump' pin off her shirt fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/education fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc fec212f7-a4e9-538e-8377-64aae1c55e4d Bradford Betz article   Westlake Legal Group Sadie Michigan high school student claims teacher grabbed 'Women For Trump' pin off her shirt fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/education fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc fec212f7-a4e9-538e-8377-64aae1c55e4d Bradford Betz article

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Yang qualifies for December Democratic debate

Westlake Legal Group 3aOwXv74Us7rciuNn7IIi9_r_SZzMm3JVbWRT-9NvFA Yang qualifies for December Democratic debate r/politics

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