FCC, Justice Department investigate covert Chinese radio network – BY JOHN SHIFFMAN AND KOH GUI QING


The headquarters of China Radio International (CRI) is seen in Beijing August 24, 2011. Picture taken August 24, 2011. To match Special Report CHINA-RADIO/ REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

The headquarters of China Radio International (CRI) is seen in Beijing August 24, 2011. Picture taken August 24, 2011.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are investigating a California firm whose U.S. radio broadcasts are backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese government, officials said.

Both investigations come in response to a Reuters report published on Monday that revealed the existence of the covert radio network, which broadcasts in more than a dozen American cities, including Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and San Francisco. (reut.rs/1Wrflt4)

“Based on reports, the FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues raised in the stories, including whether the Commission’s statutory foreign ownership rules have been violated,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

The California firm is owned by James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai. Reuters reported Monday that Su’s company, G&E Studio Inc, is 60 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese state-run radio broadcaster China Radio International (CRI).

The FCC doesn’t restrict content on U.S. radio stations, except for rules covering indecency, political advertising and children’s programming.

But under U.S. law, the FCC prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a U.S. broadcast station. Foreign individuals, governments and corporations are permitted to hold up to 20 percent ownership directly in a station and up to 25 percent in the U.S. parent corporation of a station.

G&E does not own any U.S. stations, but it leases two 50,000-watt stations: WCRW in Washington for more than $720,000 a year, and WNWR in Philadelphia for more than $600,000 a year.

Article continues:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/02/us-china-radio-fcc-idUSKCN0SR2AI20151102

 

Why Gun Dealers Are Hardly Ever Subjected to Inspections – By Leon Neyfakh OCT. 30 2015 4:27 PM


A new report found that gun dealers tend to escape the oversight of law enforcement. Photo illustration by Juliana Jiménez. Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images.

A new report found that gun dealers tend to escape the oversight of law enforcement.
Photo illustration by Juliana Jiménez. Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images.

Guns end up in the hands of violent criminals in many ways, and one of the most frequently cited arguments against gun control is that people who intend to use guns to commit murder will be able to do so even if law-abiding citizens who want to buy guns for legitimate purposes are forced to jump through more hoops. But the fact is that many “crime guns” are originally purchased at federally licensed gun dealers, rather than acquired on the black market. And according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a small handful of dealers—just 1.2 percent—are responsible for supplying more than half of them. To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean these dealers are knowingly colluding with criminals—lots of crime guns are bought by “straw purchasers,” who pass them on to traffickers and who are not always easy to identify—but it does suggest something’s not working.

An eye-opening report from the Trace—a new website that specializes in coverage of gun issues—reveals why these gun dealers tend to escape the oversight of law enforcement: Last year, just 7 percent of the 140,000 licensed gun dealers nationwide were subjected to ATF inspections.

According to the Trace, oversight rules prevent the ATF’s 780 inspectors from checking in with a given dealer more than once a year unless they have a warrant to do so. But in reality these inspections happen even less frequently than that: Though the ATF has set a goal of making sure that every dealer in the country is inspected every three to five years, statistics show that in 2013, just 42 percent of gun dealers had been subjected to an inspection in the previous five years.

Article continues:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/10/gun_dealers_why_the_bureau_of_alcohol_tobacco_firearms_and_explosives_inspected.html

Bernie Sanders Calls For Federal Investigation Of Exxon – BY EMILY ATKIN OCT 20, 2015 4:28PM


CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JACQUELYN MARTIN Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview, Wednesday May 20, 2015, in Washington.

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JACQUELYN MARTIN
Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview, Wednesday May 20, 2015, in Washington.

 

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants ExxonMobil investigated by the Department of Justice.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday, Sanders charged the oil giant of engaging in a cover-up to intentionally mislead the public about the reality of human-caused climate change, and by extension the risks of its carbon-intensive product.

“It appears that Exxon knew its product was causing harm to the public, and spent millions of dollars to obfuscate the facts in the public discourse,” Sanders wrote. “The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated.”

The information Sanders cited was a recent investigation by Inside Climate News, which found that the ExxonMobil conducted research as far back as 1977 affirming that climate change is caused by carbon emissions from fossil fuels. At the same time, the oil giant gave millions of dollars to politicians and organizations that promote climate science denial, and spent millions more lobbying to prevent regulations to limit carbon emissions.

Articles continues:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/10/20/3714390/bernie-sanders-investigate-exxon-climate-denial/

Confused by Benghazi? Here’s a 4-minute explanation. by Zack Beauchamp and Carlos Waters on October 2015


 

You’ve almost certainly heard the word “Benghazi” a lot. What you may not know is what actually happened on September 11, 2012 — the night that US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi — or what the deal is with the controversies that came afterward. This video explains it all:Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at Oct 18, 2015 2.54

The Deals That Made Daily Fantasy Take Off – By Matthew Futterman and  Sharon Terlep Oct. 16, 2015 8:55 p.m. ET


Federal probes of FanDuel and DraftKings pose this question: How did they get so big?

FanDuel and DraftKings control some 95% of the North American daily-fantasy-sports market, spending lavishly on ads and awards.

FanDuel and DraftKings control some 95% of the North American daily-fantasy-sports market, spending lavishly on ads and awards. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

FanDuel and DraftKings, intense competitors that control some 95% of the North American daily-fantasy-sports market, have made a splash in recent months with lavish spending on advertisements and cash awards for the winners of their contests.

But with the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation opening probes this week into the business model of these companies, and after gaming regulators in Nevada ordered the sites to cease operations in their state, the question is this: Where did these troubled companies come from, and how did they get so big so fast?

FanDuel says it will dole out $2 billion in prizes this year. DraftKings has pledged to give away at least $1 billion. The companies are valued at $1.3 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively.

New-York based Fanduel, which was early to the market in 2009 and long the dominant player, started with a relatively muted approach. It gave fantasy-sports players a chance to compete for prizes by building virtual teams of athletes. In 2013, it raised $11 million in financing from venture-capital companies. The following year it raised another $70 million.

But what pushed the business to its current frenzied level was the fast rise of Boston-based DraftKings, founded in 2012, which adopted a more aggressive fundraising and marketing posture and quickly came to rival FanDuel in size and profile.

Tamir Rice: What we know about the Cleveland police shooting of a 12-year-old boy – Updated by German Lopez on October 11, 2015, 6:45 p.m. ET


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 Two outside reviews suggested the Cleveland police shooting of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy, was justified, the New York Times reported.

Rice was throwing snowballs and playing with a toy pellet gun in a Cleveland park on November 22, 2014, when a police car rolled into the snowy field. Within two seconds of getting out of his squad car, officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the 12-year-old. The officer has claimed he thought the pellet gun was a real firearm.

Nearly a year later, on October 10, officials released two independent investigations from a Colorado prosecutor and an FBI supervisory agent that concluded that the shooting was justified, arguing that any reasonable officer placed in the same scenario could have concluded deadly force was necessary. But this is based on a very loose legal standard: The question is not whether the situation could have been avoided, but rather if it was reasonable for Loehmann to perceive a threat once the squad car parked right in front of Rice and saw the boy with a gun that officers thought was an actual firearm.

But critics, including Rice’s family, have blasted the reports, arguing that it’s absurd that an officer would have to resort to force within two seconds of detecting someone with a toy gun — especially in a state where it’s legal to openly carry real guns. They argue the situation could have been handled more calmly and carefully — perhaps by parking the car in another location and approaching Rice more slowly. From this point of view, the argument isn’t so much whether Loehmann’s actions were legally justified once he was right in front of Rice, but whether the scenario could have been avoided with better tactics, training, and protocol.

Whether Loehmann was in the right will be a matter of legal and public debate in the next few months and perhaps years. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty will present evidence on the case to a grand jury. The jurors will then decide whether to file charges against Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, who drove the squad car during the shooting.

Article c0ntinues:

http://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7275297/tamir-rice-police-shooting

UN slams ‘inexcusable’ US airstrike that killed 19 at Afghan hospital – October 3, 2015 9:07AM ET


Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at Oct 4, 2015 4.57

A U.S. airstrike in the Afghan city of Kunduz hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Saturday, killing at least 19 people at the medical center, the medical charity said.

In a statement, MSF said the “sustained bombing” took place at 2:10 a.m. local time and continued for 30 minutes after staff raised the alarm to U.S. and Afghan military officials. Three children are believed to be among the dead.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the United States still was trying to determine how the airstrike hit the hospital.  “A full investigation into the tragic incident is under way in coordination with the Afghan government,” Carter said in a statement.

He said the area around the hospital had been the scene of intense fighting in recent days with U.S. forces supporting Afghan Security Forces against Taliban fighters. The incident could renew concerns over the use of its air power in the conflict.

The head of U.S.-led forces in the country later phoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to apologize, according to a statement from Ghani’s office.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that the incident was “inexcusable” and possibly criminal. Zeid called for a full and transparent investigation, noting that, “if established as deliberate in a court of law, an air strike on a hospital may amount to a war crime.”

Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz earlier this week. Tribus said Saturday’s deadly raid was the 12th U.S. airstrike “in the Kunduz vicinity” since Tuesday.

Doctors Without Borders said its trauma center “was hit several times” during the attack and that the hospital was “very badly damaged.”

 

Article continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/3/nine-dead-thirty-missing-in-us-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital.html