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Coast-To-Coast Editorials Rebuke Trump

Hundreds of newspapers denounce Trump’s attacks on media in coordinated editorials. NPR: “More than 300 news publications across the country are joining together to defend the role of a free press and denounce President Trump’s ongoing attacks on the news media in coordinated editorials publishing Thursday, according to a tally by The Boston Globe. The project was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe, who write, ‘This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences. We asked editorial boards from around the country – liberal and conservative, large and small – to join us today to address this fundamental threat in their own words.’ Editorials are typically written by opinion writers and are considered separate from organizations’ news coverage. NPR, for example, has a separate ‘opinion’ category. Trump made bashing the news media — ‘horrible, horrendous people’ — a staple of his candidacy and a constant throughout his presidency.”

Monsanto Faces $289m Glyphosate Ruling

One man’s suffering exposed Monsanto’s secrets to the world. The Guardian: “It was a verdict heard around the world. In a stunning blow to one of the world’s largest seed and chemical companies, jurors in San Francisco have told Monsanto it must pay $289m in damages to a man dying of cancer which he claims was caused by exposure to its herbicides. Monsanto, which became a unit of Bayer AG in June, has spent decades convincing consumers, farmers, politicians and regulators to ignore mounting evidence linking its glyphosate-based herbicides to cancer and other health problems. The company has employed a range of tactics – some drawn from the same playbook used by the tobacco industry in defending the safety of cigarettes – to suppress and manipulate scientific literature, harass journalists and scientists who did not parrot the company’s propaganda, and arm-twist and collude with regulators. Indeed, one of Monsanto’s lead defense attorneys in the San Francisco case was George Lombardi, whose resumé boasts of his work defending big tobacco. Now, in this one case, through the suffering of one man, Monsanto’s secretive strategies have been laid bare for the world to see. Monsanto was undone by the words of its own scientists, the damning truth illuminated through the company’s emails, internal strategy reports and other communications. The jury’s verdict found not only that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, but that there was ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that Monsanto’s officials acted with ‘malice or oppression’ in failing to adequately warn of the risks.”

Court Orders Full Environmental Review Of Keystone Pipeline

Federal Court Rules State Dept. Must Conduct Full Environmental Review of Keystone XL in Nebraska. Common Dreams: “A federal judge today sided with environmental, landowner and Tribal plaintiffs in their challenge to the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The State Department had attempted to fast-track its environmental review of the pipeline’s new route in Nebraska, and today U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled that this sham review process was not legally sufficient. Today’s ruling mandates that the State Department go back and conduct a more robust supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the ‘Mainline Alternative’ route, which was approved by the Nebraska Public Service Commission in November 2017. If built, Keystone XL would carry up to 35 million gallons a day of Canadian tar sands — one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources — across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Gulf Coast refineries.”

U.S. Opioid Deaths Are Rising

A record 72,000 overdose deaths in 2017. NYT: “Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths. Analysts pointed to two major reasons for the increase: A growing number of Americans are using opioids, and drugs are becoming more deadly. It is the second factor that most likely explains the bulk of the increased number of overdoses last year. Nationwide, the crisis worsened in the first year of the Trump presidency, a continuation of a long-term trend.”

Indiana Dad Hunts Russian Trolls

Meet the Indiana dad who hunts Russian trolls. CNN: “By day, the 39-year-old father of two works as a systems analyst and programmer at Indiana University. Once the kids are tucked in, he spends hours scouring social media to unmask the operatives behind the disinformation campaigns roiling Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. Russell is part of a growing network of online sleuths using public information to conduct open source investigations into Russian accounts posing as Americans. Officially, their work is called open-source intelligence, or OSINT, and it often identifies trolls before the platforms do. Russell’s work in particular has helped journalists at CNN, NBC News, The Daily Beast, and other outlets cut through the lies and disinformation. Russell’s interest in troll hunting started in the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, when he started investigating some of the most slanderous lies circulating online about Hillary Clinton. He’d been leaning toward voting for Donald Trump, but realized he could not find any evidence supporting some of the most outlandish allegations against Clinton circulating on Twitter. Russell is part of a growing network of online sleuths using public information to conduct open source investigations into Russian accounts posing as Americans. Officially, their work is called open-source intelligence, or OSINT, and it often identifies trolls before the platforms do. Russell’s work in particular has helped journalists at CNN, NBC News, The Daily Beast, and other outlets cut through the lies and disinformation. ‘My main motivation is to kind of help people understand what happened,’ Russell says. ‘Just documenting what happened and that what different bots may have been up to on Twitter, so people can see and look at the data for themselves and maybe think, ‘I’ve been consuming this disinformation and maybe I should stop.’ Russell’s interest in troll hunting started in the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, when he started investigating some of the most slanderous lies circulating online about Hillary Clinton. He’d been leaning toward voting for Donald Trump, but realized he could not find any evidence supporting some of the most outlandish allegations against Clinton circulating on Twitter. ‘I had been consuming alt-right news for three or four years without knowing,” he says. ‘Someone had been lying to me.’ That got him thinking about how people’s perceptions of the world, and their decisions about whom to vote for, can be shaped by what they see online.”

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