IT40 News for 01/12/2019

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#1 1950s Western Predicted a Border Wall From a Fictional Con Man Named Trump

(Video provided by Newsweek)

An episode of a 1950s Western drama may have foretold America’s current border wall crisis more than 60 years ago. Politics today and the show both feature men named Trump with a wall that is promised to protect every citizen from danger.

“Trackdown” aired on CBS between 1957 and 1959 and took place in Texas following the Civil War. The series followed Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, played by Robert Culp, on his adventures protecting the people of the Lone Star State. The 30th episode of the show, titled “The End of The World,” premiered on May 9, 1958, and saw a con man named Walter Trump, played by Lawrence Dobkin, attempt to scam the entire town.

Snopes confirmed that the eerily prescient episode was real. 

© Screenshot: Youtube
The fictional Trump warned the Texans that apocalyptic meteors would strike the town at midnight, but he could protect everyone. “I bring you a message,” he said. “A message few of you will be able to believe…but be not afraid my friends: I also bring you the means with which to save yourself.”

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#2 Shutdown becomes longest federal closure in U.S. history

Video by Today

Update: Democrats used their weekly radio address to challenge President Donald Trump and Senate Republican leaders to reopen the government and sit down to discuss border security measures that "we can all get behind."

Rep. Scott Peters of California said Democrats want to strengthen security along the U.S.-Mexico border, but not in the way the president does, with what Peters called "a wall that is never going to be built."

Peters favors "smart approaches" that might include radar and sensors, drones with cameras, high-tech ways of detecting tunnels, and physical barriers such as levees or fences where it makes sense. He said Democrats don't support a wall costing billions of dollars that will, in his words, "destroy sensitive lands, take private property, and can be tunneled under, climbed over or cut through."

To Peters, "that's not border security. That's borderline crazy."

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#3 F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

Video by MSNBC

WASHINGTON — In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

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#4 Paul Feig Musical Among Pair of NBC Drama Pilot Orders

NBC is looking to Paul Feig for its next broad-skewing hit.

The network on Friday handed out pilot orders to Feig-produced musical Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist and a genre thriller from Agent Carter duo Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is described as an innovative musical dramedy about a whip-smart but socially awkward girl in her late 20s who is suddenly able to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her as songs and even big musical numbers that they perform just for her. With this new ability at her disposal, she is able to use her "gift" to not only help herself understand people in her life, but also to help others around her.

Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl) will pen the script and exec produce alongside Feig, who will also direct, and his Feigco co-president Jessie Henderson. Kim and Eric Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men) will exec produce via their Lionsgate TV-based company. This is the first pilot order to stem from the Tannenbaums' rich overall deal with indie studio Lionsgate after the couple departed CBS TV Studios, their home of nearly a decade. Universal Music Group will also produce the drama. Jason Wang (The Last O.G.) also exec produces.

Emergence, meanwhile, is a key off-network sale from ABC Studios, where Fazekas and Butters have a pod deal. The duo will pen the script and exec produce. Paul McGuigan, who worked with Fazekas and Butters on their beloved but short-lived ABC drama Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, will direct the pilot and exec produce. The drama is escribed asa character-driven genre thriller that centers around a sheriff who takes in a young child that she finds near the site of a mysterious accident who has no memory of what has happened. The investigation draws her into a conspiracy larger than she ever imagined, and the child’s identity is at the center of it all. Perhaps most interesting is that Emergence is not currently a co-production, which has become commonplace often the case for pilots from outside studios.

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#6 Pompeo ‘optimistic’ Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected

Washington's top diplomat said Saturday he was "optimistic" a way could be found to protect Syrian Kurds while allowing Turks to "defend their country from terrorists" despite a US pullout from Syria.

"We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi.

The Gulf emirate is his latest stop in a regional tour aimed at reassuring allies after a shock December announcement by President Donald Trump that US troops would be withdrawn from Syria.

Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the US and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against Islamic State jihadists.

Turkey had reacted angrily to suggestions that Trump's plan to withdraw troops was conditional on the safety of the US-backed Kurdish fighters, seen by the Turkish government as terrorists.

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#7 Saudi woman fleeing alleged abuse heads for asylum in Canada

BANGKOK — An 18-year-old Saudi woman who said she was abused by her family and feared for her life if deported back home left Thailand on Friday night for Canada, which has granted her asylum, officials said.

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The fast-moving developments capped an eventful week for Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun. She fled her family while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to avoid deportation and grabbed global attention by mounting a social media campaign for asylum.

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#8 Russia’s only space telescope breaks down

Russia's only space radio telescope is no longer responding to commands from Earth, officials say.

Astro Space Centre chief Nikolai Kardashev said some of the Spektr-R satellite's communication systems had stopped working.

But it was still transmitting scientific data, RIA Novosti news agency reports.

The telescope has been operational way beyond its expected five-year lifespan, Russia's space agency Roskosmos says.

Specialists had repeatedly tried and failed to fix the lost connection, Mr Kardashev said.

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#9 North Korea’s harsh human rights record could undermine US nuclear deal, UN official says

SEOUL  — As momentum builds for another summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the harsh reality of North Korean human rights issues threatens to undermine any potential peace or denuclearization agreements, a key United Nations official warned on Friday.

Tomás Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, told reporters that any deal would be “fragile” if North Korea’s dismal human rights record is not part of the equation.

“Any accord that the parties could reach will remain fragile unless human rights issues are not discussed and unless there is a plan how to address that situation in North Korea,” he said.

Quintana’s was on a research trip to South Korea this week to gather material for a report that he will present to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March. He met with government officials and members of civil society and interviewed recent defectors from North Korea.

The human rights issue was sidelined during Kim’s summits last year with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but Quintana said it is vital that it becomes part of the dialogue this year.

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#10 Ecuador denies Assange’s embassy conditions deteriorated

Ecuador on Friday denied media reports that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been made to sleep on the floor and denied heating at the country's London embassy.

In a statement, the presidency's communication secretary dismissed the claims as "TOTALLY FALSE," and said the embassy's heating system "is working normally."

"No furniture has been removed from his room, which is accessed by an electronic key for his exclusive use," the statement added.

Assange, 47, has been living in the embassy since seeking refuge there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault charges that have since expired.

But he still refuses to leave the embassy to avoid extradition to the United States to face charges over his website publishing huge caches of hacked State Department and Pentagon files in 2010.

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#11 Death toll in Mexico border shootings rises to 30

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities said Friday that a soldier and five attackers died in a clash between gunmen and an army patrol in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, bringing that state's death toll in two days of presumed gang-related violence to 30.

A group of armed assailants attacked a military patrol Thursday on a highway near the Rio Grande, wounding one soldier who later died of his wounds, said a Tamaulipas state official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name. The official said the patrol returned fire, killing five assailants.

Local media reported that some of the gunmen were wearing flak vests and military-style camouflage and that at least one of their vehicles had rudimentary bullet-proofing of welded steel plates. The area where the confrontation occurred, near the town of Miguel Aleman, has long been dominated by the Zetas drug cartel.

The town is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of McAllen, Texas, where U.S. President Donald Trump visited Thursday to push for expanding existing border walls along the entire length of the border.

The state official said the death toll in a separate presumed drug cartel shootout Wednesday near Miguel Aleman had risen to 24, with the discovery of three more bodies.

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#12 7 dead, 5 critical in Cuban bus crash

© Google Maps

HAVANA — Seven people died and five are in critical condition after a bus crashed carrying tourists and local travelers in far eastern Cuba.

State media said the bus was carrying 18 Cubans and 22 tourists from Europe, Mexico and Canada when it crashed Thursday afternoon on a road between the cities of Baracoa and Guantanamo.

The names of those killed were not released Friday, but officials said late in the day that two Argentines, one French citizen, one German and three Cubans died.

The driver told Radio Guantanamo that he lost control on the wet and winding road.

Cuban highways are poorly lighted, narrow and rutted with huge potholes. There were 750 deaths and 7,999 injuries in 11,187 accidents last year in the country of 11 million people. Thursday's wreck was the fourth major bus accident in a month.

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#13 German courts searched after bomb threats, one signed “Nazi offensive”

BERLIN, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Police searched courtrooms in at least seven German cities on Friday after bomb threats and security alerts, with at least one emailed warning signed: "Nazi offensive," officials and media said.

Police said they temporarily evacuated or searched courts in the eastern city of Potsdam, the western cities of Wiesbaden and Saarbruecken, as well as in the central cities of Magdeburg and Erfurt and in the northern ports of Kiel and Hamburg.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley condemned the bomb threats and a separate arson attack on the Federal Supreme Court in Leipzig on Dec. 31 which was reportedly claimed by a radical leftist group.

"Those who threaten courts attack the independent judiciary and our democratic society," Barley said.

She said it was imperative to investigate the cases carefully and hold the perpetrators accountable.

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#14 France vows tough response as new ‘yellow vest’ demos loom

France braced for a fresh round of "yellow vest" protests across the country on Saturday, with the authorities vowing zero tolerance for violence after weekly scenes of rioting and vandalism in Paris and other cities over the past two months.

Officials have warned they expect this weekend's anti-government demonstrations to be bigger and more violent than a week ago, as a movement which had shown signs of fatigue appeared to gain new momentum.

Armoured vehicles and 5,000 officers will be deployed in Paris, where images of burning cars, smashed shops and daylong clashes between protesters and police have made global headlines since November.

"Blue-chip companies, the media, are all in Paris, we'll be more visible," Arnaud, a 48-year-old yellow vest organiser for the Seine-et-Marne region near the capital, told AFP.

Others have called on protesters to converge on the central city of Bourges, which could potentially attract more people from cities farther from Paris.

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#15 Easter Island statues: researchers explain their location

When it comes to Easter Island's towering stone heads, there's now one fewer mystery to solve.

Researchers have long puzzled over why the huge statues were placed where they are. However, a new study says the people of Rapa Nui, as the island is called in the local language, positioned them near sources of humanity's most vital resource: fresh water.

Archaeologists studied the location of the statues, or moai, and the platforms on which many of them stand, known as ahu. Polynesian seafarers first arrived on Rapa Nui, 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile, approximately 900 years ago.

They then went on to construct more than 300 ahu and almost 1,000 moai, which are believed to represent significant ancestors.

The authors of the new study, published in the journal PLOS One, isolated an eastern area of Rapa Nui, containing 93 ahu. Researchers from six US institutions analyzed the natural resources near the ahu, focusing on rock mulch gardens in which crops like sweet potatoes were grown, marine resources including sites for fishing, and sources of fresh water.

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#16 Coming to America 2 is ‘officially moving forward’ with Eddie Murphy

We’ve been saying since 2013 that there should be a sequel to Coming to America and now, after a long development, it’s actually happening.

Eddie Murphy, who’s reprising the lead role of African Prince Akeem, confirmed the film is “officially moving forward” at Paramount as the studio taps a new director, Craig Brewer (Fox’s Empire), EW has learned.

“After many years of anticipation, I’m thrilled that Coming to America 2 is officially moving forward,” Murphy said in a statement. “We’ve assembled a great team that will be led by Craig Brewer, who just did an amazing job on Dolemite [Is My Name], and I’m looking forward to bringing all these classic and beloved characters back to the big screen.”

The studio initially hired Jonathan Levine (Snatched) in 2017 to direct the sequel to the 1988 comedy, but he has since bowed out. The story sees Akeem returning to America when he learns of a long-lost son and unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. Paramount is hoping the bulk of the original cast — which included Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and John Amos — will return for the sequel.

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#17 Police find no evidence of women being held hostage at R. Kelly’s Trump Tower residence

(Video provided by NBC News)

CHICAGO - Police went to embattled R&B superstar R. Kelly's Chicago home Friday on a tip that women were being held hostage there but left after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, a police spokesman confirmed.

The Cook County state's attorney's office passed along to police a tip from an out-of-state caller saying two women were being held against their will at Kelly's Trump Tower residence, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune.

Patrol officers following up on the tip went to Trump Tower and made contact with the singer and a pair of women at the apartment, Guglielmi said.

The women said they were not being held against their will, so police determined the allegations were unfounded and left.

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#18 Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Advertisers Haven’t Returned

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has lost at least 26 corporate advertisers since he attracted widespread backlash for saying on his Dec. 13 primetime show that immigration makes America "dirtier," has not seen his sponsors return in the new year. On Thursday night, Carlson's show featured 19 ads, a low mark since the beginning of December.

In the month of January, Tucker Carlson Tonight has averaged 24 ads per episode (over seven shows), compared to an average of 36 ads in the seven shows leading up to his immigration monologue.

A Fox News spokesperson said in late December that "the channel usually has lighter ad during the holiday period between Christmas and the first few weeks of the New Year" and that "ad loads pick up towards the end of the month," though the post-holiday week of Jan. 7 has been Carlson's lowest to date (averaging 22 ads per show).

Carlson's show also lost a major advertiser this week when Red Lobster said on Monday that it would stop advertising, reversing course from the company's earlier decision to continue sponsoring the show and to decline to comment publicly about his remarks. Asked about the company's change in strategy, a spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, "We reserve the right to make changes to our purchases when the dialogue is no longer in line with our criteria."

Norwegian Cruise Line, which ran an ad on Monday night's show, told THR on Tuesday: "Our ads will no longer appear during that program."

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#19 The Many Times Megyn Kelly Became the StoryThe Many Times Megyn Kelly Became the Story

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#20 Julián Castro officially announces 2020 presidential bid

By Dan Merica, CNN

Updated 2:03 PM ET, Sat January 12, 2019

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#21 Julian Castro, a Texas Democrat and former Obama cabinet member, announces 2020 bid for president

WASHINGTON – Julian Castro, a former Obama cabinet member and San Antonio mayor, officially threw his hat in the ring on Saturday, announcing he would run for president. 

On a stage with his family, including his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro, in his hometown of San Antonio, the Texas Democrat declared his bid to try and take the White House from President Donald Trump in 2020 and fulfill a destiny that Democrats have projected since he was elected San Antonio mayor at 34.

"When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for President of the United States of America," Castro told a crowd of supporters in front of an American flag backdrop. 

Castro, who made remarks in both English and Spanish, also rolled out his campaign slogan: One Nation. One Destiny.

Castro's campaign announcement at the historic Plaza Guadalupe came one day after Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, 37, said she was also running for president, telling CNN "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week." 

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