Tuesday's HOT MIC
Just when you think this story can't get any worse, it gets worse:
The operator of a self-driving Uber vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix Monday was a convicted felon who served almost four years in prison on an attempted armed robbery charge, according to court records. The Volvo was in self-driving mode with Rafaela Vasquez, 44, at the wheel when the car hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk, police said. Herzberg later died at a hospital.
Court records obtained by the Arizona Republic show Vasquez has a criminal record in Arizona under a different legal name, and was released from prison in 2005. The 44-year-old served three years and 10 months in a state prison for convictions on attempted armed robbery and unsworn falsification.
Driverless cars really are the stupidest idea ever.
Republicans in Congress Are Going to Investigate Facebook's Censorship of Conservatives
Not only are there Republicans who want to grill Mark Zuckerberg and Company over the way they're censoring conservative news on their website, they're not even golden boys like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. When even John Cornyn and Susan Collins bring this issue up, it means there are a lot of Republicans with juice talking about it behind the scenes,
Social media giants that have acknowledged Russians exploited their platforms ahead of the 2016 election face renewed bipartisan demands to explain to Congress what they're doing to counter abuse of their networks ahead of this year's congressional midterms.
...Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana on Thursday urged Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to call the CEOs or the policy makers of Facebook, Twitter and Google to the committee for another hearing "as opposed to the very able counsel who do a terrific job of what they're paid to do, which is dodging and bobbing and weaving."
...Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican and a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, also said he'd want to hear from the tech companies on various topics—including how they monitor threats made on their platforms like ones that preceded the Parkland shooting.
"Social media's become just such a challenging issue for us. Now we've got social media throttling news on their own sites which is a form of censorship, which raises all sorts of issues...”
...(Susan) Collins added that she remains wary of the companies' power over content.
"You know, it's very tricky because in many cases they're deciding what stories should be trending, what stories should be disseminated and what stories shouldn't be. That's an awful lot of power for them to have," Collins said.
A year or two ago, senators talking about Facebook's attacks on conservative news sources might have done a lot of good. Unfortunately since then, Facebook's targeting of conservative pages has done a lot of damage (see here and here). Still, better later than never and don't underestimate the importance of making these social media executives fear Republican retaliation. In a real sense, they are much more powerful than 10 or 20 news outlets combined and when they start picking and choosing which news people are allowed to see, it has the potential to shape our republic for decades to come.
DO NOT CONGRATULATE.
For his phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump had a few brief notes from staff. The top of those notes read, "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," but that's exactly what Trump did... He also did not rebuke Putin for the poisoning on British soil.
If this Washington Post story is true, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will have a particularly excruciating job to perform tomorrow. Trump has made numerous faux pas, and it seems he has a problem following directions and abiding by the rules of decent behavior. This is why I couldn't support him, even after he took the Republican nomination.
I keep hoping that Trump will prove me wrong, and his anti-regulation push, his statements on religious freedom, his nominating Neil Gorsuch, and other things have helped me warm to him. Even so, at the end of the day, Trump is Trump, and episodes like this confirm his impulsiveness.
Fox News is a "propaganda machine" for Trump, analyst says while quitting.
Walking out the door, retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Peters called Fox News a "propaganda machine" for President Donald Trump.
He's not entirely wrong, but then again, so many lamestream outlets mostly feel like "propaganda machines" against Trump. A recent study showed that a whopping 90 percent of 2017 Trump coverage on ABC, CBS, and NBC was negative.
On second thought, Fox News isn't nearly that biased even for President Trump. For all of Sean Hannity's bending over backwards for the president, there are analysts like Shepard Smith.
A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that President Trump's job in the White House does not give him immunity from a defamation lawsuit filed against him by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos.
“In Clinton v Jones the United States Supreme Court held that a sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal court for unofficial acts,” Justice Jennifer Schecter wrote in a ruling released Tuesday, according to the New York Post. “It left open the question of whether concerns of federalism and comity compel a different conclusion for suits brought in state court. Because they do not, defendant’s motion to dismiss this case or hold it in abeyance is denied."
Civil suits like this really ought to wait until the president -- any president-- is out of office. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote at the time:
"...it appears to us highly unlikely to occupy any substantial amount of petitioner's [Clinton's] time."
We all know how well that worked out.