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January 1, The Ugly Side of Government Surveillance



This Day in History | 1901

The first radio transmission is sent across the Atlantic Ocean

Good Morning Middle Americans.

There are a couple of things that seem to have been lost on many people during this impeachment process. First, we’ve seen a lot of partisan bickering, Democrats accusing Republicans of stonewalling their investigation. Republicans accusing Democrats of spying.  But let us not forget what is really at the core of this whole situation. (And by situation I mean the Trump Presidency and the way the Washington establishment has responded to it.) Russia set a trap and the FBI walked right into it. The Russians clearly meddled in the 2016 election. The Trump campaign responded to their overtures in ways no conventional campaign would. And the FBI and intelligence community couldn’t handle it. The result was gross prosecutorial overreach.  And what we witnessed yesterday during DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s testimony is a gross look at how our national security surveillance programs work. 

All Americans should be horrified by the invasion of privacy. 

Also today, the president Trump’s son DJT Jr. has found himself in the cross hairs of critics after a report reveals he went on a hunting trip to Mongolia and got special permission to kill a rare sheep.  IMO – it looks like an epic trip.  You can judge for your self.  A female news reporter wants to sue a man who slapped her backside during a parade. She probably has a pretty good case, considering the event was captured live on TV.  Finally today, we have a report that shows more Americans are dying at home, as opposed to hospitals and assisted living facilities. Is that a good thing?

Read all about it. 

– Fraser Dixon  

We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. 

(New York Times) – A high-profile inspector general report has served as fodder for arguments about President Trump. But its findings about surveillance are important beyond partisan politics. 

When a long-awaited inspector general report about the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation became public this week, partisans across the political spectrum mined it to argue about whether President Trump falsely smeared the F.B.I. or was its victim. But the report was also important for reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump.

At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government’s secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.

The Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and his team uncovered a staggeringly dysfunctional and error-ridden process in how the F.B.I. went about obtaining and renewing court permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

Find out more about the FBI’s errors during “Crossfire Hurricane” here

Donald Trump Jr Killed Rare Endangered Sheep in Mongolia with Special Permit

(ProPublica) – The rocky highlands of Central Asia, in a remote region of Western Mongolia, are home to a plummeting population of the largest sheep in the world, the argali. The endangered species is beloved for its giant curving horns, which can run over 6 feet in length.

On a hunting trip this August, Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed one.

His adventure was supported by government resources from both the U.S. and Mongolia, which each sent security services to accompany the president’s eldest son and grandson on the multiday trip. It also thrust Trump Jr. directly into the controversial world of Mongolian trophy hunting — a polarizing practice in a country that views the big-horned rams as a national treasure. The right to kill an argali is controlled by an opaque permitting system that experts say is mostly based on money, connections and politics.

See pics from the hunt and read the full report here

Female TV Reporter Seeks Criminal Charges Against Man Who Slapped Her Backside on Camera

(NBC News) – A TV news reporter who was covering a road race in Georgia when she was slapped on the backside by a runner is seeking criminal charges against the man she said “violated” her.

Alex Bozarjian filed a sexual battery report with the Savannah Police Department on Monday, saying she wanted the department to pursue charges against the man, identified as Thomas Callaway. The department told NBC News on Wednesday that a detective has been assigned and the matter is under investigation.

Bozarjian was live on air Saturday covering the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run for NBC affiliate WSAV when a few runners snuck into her shot, distracting her by waving behind her, but never touching her.

Then, a male runner suddenly slaps her on the buttocks. Bozarjian pauses in shock before completing her sentence as the man runs on.

See the backside slap in question here

More Americans are Dying at Home. Is that a Good Thing?

(Stat News) – How Americans die has fundamentally changed with advances in medical technology and the ways diseases are treated. For centuries, death commonly occurred in one’s home with care provided by relatives and community members. Yet since the 1960s, the hospital and intensive care unit have become places of passage as people approach the end.

In this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, we report that home has become the most common place of death among Americans dying of natural causes for the first time since the early 20th century, while deaths in hospitals and nursing facilities have declined. Our analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics also showed striking differences in place of death according to who you are and what you die of: individuals who are nonwhite or those dying from diseases other than cancer are less likely to die at home than those who are white or those who die from cancer.

Learn more here

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