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What does the YES vote mean? What does the NO vote mean? Greeks face confusion amid Sunday’s referendum

The crisis ballot on a European bailout proposal comes down to 68 word question and two financial / technical documents that may have Greek citizens a bit confused as to what happens after the referendum results are announced.

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If the referendum goes along as scheduled (reports suggest it might be rolled back), Greeks are struggling to find meaning with the choice they are being asked to make come Sunday.

The governing SYRIZA party has positioned the referendum as a vote on whether to accept the Troika’s proposal…but what exactly would that mean for Greeks voting YES to such a plan? Will things magically go back to normal? Will the austerity they voted YES for result in another memorandum a year down the line, and indefinite loans to keep afloat?

If Greeks vote NO, then what? Is a new proposal going to surface? Will both parties restart negotiations?

The EU has cleverly positioned the referendum as a vote on whether to stay in the Euro. Of course no one in Brussels has clarified if this means to stay in the Eurozone or the actual European Union (two very different things).

More questions arise regarding the Euro YES or NO framing of the referendum.

If Greeks vote NO does this give the EU the right to kick Greece out of the Eurozone, but remain in the European Union…or is Greece out of both entities? More importantly since no mechanism exists for “leaving” Europe…who, how, and under what legal premise will all this take place?

Once again if Greeks vote YES, will Brussels see this as capitulation so as to begin heavy austerity measures and full on asset stripping? Will Europe place their own, “Brussels friendly” puppet leader (as they have done once before in Greece and in Italy) in order to secure the country’s assets and avoid another mini uprising? Will the EU see this as a green light for full-on colonisation?

The 68-word ballot question mentions four international institutions and asks Greek voters for their opinion on two technical documents that were not made public before the referendum call.

The referendum question translated into English:

“Greek people are hereby asked to decide whether they accept a draft agreement document submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, at the Eurogroup meeting held on on June 25 and which consists of two documents:

‘‘The first document is called Reforms for the Completion of the Current Program and Beyond and the second document is called Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis.

‘‘- Those citizens who reject the institutions’ proposal vote Not Approved / NO

 ‘‘- Those citizens who accept the institutions’ proposal vote Approved / YES.’’

Via Bloomberg…

“If we go back to the drachma, then what?” asks George Beltas, a 75-year-old retired construction worker in the Greek city of Patras.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a surprise referendum for Sunday on how much more austerity his country is willing to endure, and Beltas is struggling to make sense of it all.

The ballot question, formally presented on Monday afternoon, loosely translates as: “Should we accept the proposal submitted on June 26, 2015, by the Eurogroup, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund?” Whether in Greek or English, voters say, the referendum is confusing, referring to a “plan of agreement … composed of two parts,” attaching two complex documents in English and not clearly explaining anything.

“Yes or no, that’s what they tell us the choice is,” Beltas says. “But they’re not saying what will happen later. … What will the government do after the vote?” He plans to vote yes.

“People don’t understand what they’re voting for,” says George, an attorney in Athens who asks that his last name not be used. “Many think it’s voting for Tsipras or voting against Tsipras. Or they say: ‘I want to stay in Europe, whatever this means.’ Everyone, the Greek people, the government, the Europeans, interprets the question in their own way. That’s the problem.”

Tsipras isn’t rushing to clear it up. In fact, things could get more confusing. His government today asked the EU for a two-year bailout, hours after the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini cited unnamed sources saying that Tsipras was reconsidering a last-ditch offer proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Negotiations have dragged for six months over how to manage Greece’s €312 billion ($350 billion) debt. They broke down late on Friday, when Tsipras surprised even his own government with a call for a referendum. The prime minister and his Syriza party leaders are encouraging voters to answer no (Όχι!) on Sunday and have taken to Twitter and other social and news media to describe the lenders’ stance toward Greece as “blackmail.” “The dignity of the Greeks” is at stake, Tsipras has repeated over the last several days.

Tens of thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators rallied in Athens on Monday night, carrying placards proclaiming “Όχι!” Today, a #YesToEuro rally is also drawing thousands of demonstrators in the Greek capital.

It’s not so simple, says Lilly Papagianni, a publicist with a film distribution company. “It’s a yes-or-no question, but it’s not a yes-or-no situation,” she says. “If we vote, it’s completely uncertain what happens next. What I don’t know and can’t figure out is what the EU really wants to do with Greece. Do they want to deal with us, or do they want to kick us out?”

Papagianni, who didn’t support Tsipras in the January elections, also plans to answer yes. “I didn’t trust him from the beginning because he was appealing to so much desperation, and he was proposing a dream that he couldn’t possibly make good on,” she says. One thing is making her choice easier, Papagianni says: “All I need to know is that no is the way the members of Golden Dawn [Greece’s nationalist, neo-Nazi party] will vote, so I’m comfortable with being on the opposite side of the spectrum from them.”

As of early Tuesday, polling in Greece suggested that no is beating yes, but the situation is volatile, according to Maria Karaklioumi, an Athens-based pollster. “Hour by hour, we’re seeing big shifts in people’s responses, and 15 percent of voters say they’re undecided,” she says. Her polls show support for Tsipras falling. His approval rating is just under 50 percent today; two weeks ago, it was more than 60 percent.

“People don’t trust Tsipras as much,” Karaklioumi says. “He tells us that the vote doesn’t have to do with our presence in the euro zone or not, so they’re afraid of that and don’t trust that.” On the question of whom the Greeks blame for the nation’s crisis, they’re not letting anyone off—they see both the government and the lenders as having created the mess they find themselves in. The deep division among Greeks on how to vote is playing out on social media, with people posting news articles and photos of flyers—anything to explain or sway the vote. An advocacy group for children with cancer posted a flyer to Facebook asking what yes and no mean: “Will their medicines be available? Will the necessary radiation devices be available?”

A deputy to the prime minister, asked in a TV interview on Monday what Greece will do if it fails to make its Tuesday payment of €1.5 billion to the IMF, didn’t answer the question. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis confirmed on Tuesday that Greece doesn’t have the money to make the payment, and the lenders said an extension would not be granted. In an interview that aired late Tuesday in Greece, Tsipras said that he’s not an “all-weather prime minister” and that he will resign if fewer than 55 percent of Greeks vote no.

The Greeks have suffered under austerity. Calls for pension cuts by the country’s lenders haven’t let up following a gradual series of reductions over the last few years. The government has raised property and utility taxes. Unemployment is at 25 percent, and it’s nearly double that for younger Greeks.

The latest challenge confronting Greeks is the capital controls imposed over the weekend. Banks are closed and will stay closed until at least Monday. For pensioners  who don’t have bank cards and are due to collect their monthly payments on Tuesday, the Finance Ministry said about 1,000 branches will open on Wednesday for withdrawals capped at €120 (about $135) this week and—after cards are issued—up to €60 a day.

Beltas, the retired construction worker, has a monthly pension of €700, cut by €150 two years ago. He hopes to receive the full payment on Tuesday. That, too, is a source of some confusion.

“I hear the banks will reopen to pay pensioners, and they’ll give us the full amount,” he says, adding that he doesn’t see how long this can go on.

References:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-30/greek-voters-have-just-one-question-what-does-yes-mean-

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Google Manipulated YouTube Search Results for Abortion, Maxine Waters, David Hogg

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News.

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Via Breitbart


In sworn testimony, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress last month that his company does not “manually intervene” on any particular search result. Yet an internal discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News reveals Google regularly intervenes in search results on its YouTube video platform – including a recent intervention that pushed pro-life videos out of the top ten search results for “abortion.”

The term “abortion” was added to a “blacklist” file for “controversial YouTube queries,” which contains a list of search terms that the company considers sensitive. According to the leak, these include some of these search terms related to: abortion, abortions, the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist David Hogg.

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source.

In the leaked discussion thread, a Google site reliability engineer hinted at the existence of more search blacklists, according to the source.

“We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” said the employee. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”

Others were more concerned about the presence of the blacklist. According to the source, the software engineer who started the discussion called the manipulation of search results related to abortion a “smoking gun.”

The software engineer noted that the change had occurred following an inquiry from a left-wing Slate journalist about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube, and that pro-life videos were replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results for the search terms following Google’s manual intervention.

“The Slate writer said she had complained last Friday and then saw different search results before YouTube responded to her on Monday,” wrote the employee. “And lo and behold, the [changelog] was submitted on Friday, December 14 at 3:17 PM.”

The manually downranked items included several videos from Dr. Antony Levatino, a former abortion doctor who is now a pro-life activist. Another video in the top ten featured a woman’s personal story of being pressured to have an abortion, while another featured pro-life conservative Ben Shapiro. The Slate journalist who complained to Google reported that these videos previously featured in the top ten, describing them in her story as “dangerous misinformation.”

Since the Slate journalist’s inquiry and Google’s subsequent intervention, the top search results now feature pro-abortion content from left-wing sources like BuzzFeed, Vice, CNN, and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. In her report, the Slate journalist acknowledged that the search results changed shortly after she contacted Google.

The manual adjustment of search results by a Google-owned platform contradicts a key claim made under oath by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his congressional testimony earlier this month: that his company does not “manually intervene on any search result.”

A Google employee in the discussion thread drew attention to Pichai’s claim, noting that it “seems like we are pretty eager to cater our search results to the social and political agenda of left-wing journalists.”

One of the posts in the discussion also noted that the blacklist had previously been edited to include the search term “Maxine Waters” after a single Google employee complained the top YouTube search result for Maxine Waters was “very low quality.”

Google’s alleged intervention on behalf of a Democratic congresswoman would be further evidence of the tech giant using its resources to prop up the left. Breitbart News previously reported on leaked emails revealing the company targeted pro-Democrat demographics in its get-out-the-vote efforts in 2016.

According to the source, a software engineer in the thread also noted that “a bunch of terms related to the abortion referendum in Ireland” had been added to the blacklist – another change with potentially dramatic consequences on the national policies of a western democracy.

youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

At least one post in the discussion thread revealed the existence of a file called “youtube_controversial_query_blacklist,” which contains a list of YouTube search terms that Google manually curates. In addition to the terms “abortion,” “abortions,” “Maxine Waters,” and search terms related to the Irish abortion referendum, a Google software engineer noted that the blacklist includes search terms related to terrorist attacks. (the posts specifically mentions that the “Strasbourg terrorist attack” as being on the list).

“If you look at the other entries recently added to the youtube_controversial_query_blacklist(e.g., entries related to the Strasbourg terrorist attack), the addition of abortion seems…out-of-place,” wrote the software engineer, according to the source.

After learning of the existence of the blacklist, Breitbart News obtained a partial screenshot of the full blacklist file from a source within Google. It reveals that the blacklist includes search terms related to both mass shootings and the progressive anti-second amendment activist David Hogg.

This suggests Google has followed the lead of Democrat politicians, who have repeatedly pushed tech companies to censor content related to the Parkland school shooting and the Parkland anti-gun activists. It’s part of a popular new line of thought in the political-media establishment, which views the public as too stupid to question conspiracy theories for themselves.

Here is the partial blacklist leaked to Breitbart:

2117 plane crash Russian

2118 plane crash

2119 an-148

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

2121 florida shooting crisis actors

2122 florida conspiracy

2123 florida false flag shooting

2124 florida false flag

2125 fake florida school shooting

2126 david hogg hoax

2127 david hogg fake

2128 david hogg crisis actor

2129 david hogg forgets lines

2130 david hogg forgets his lines

2131 david hogg cant remember his lines

2132 david hogg actor

2133 david hogg cant remember

2134 david hogg conspiracy

2135 david hogg exposed

2136 david hogg lines

2137 david hogg rehearsing

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

The full internal filepath of the blacklist, according to another source, is:

//depot/google3/googledata/superroot/youtube/youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

Contradictions

Responding to a request for comment, a YouTube spokeswoman said the company wants to promote “authoritative” sources in its search results, but maintained that YouTube is a “platform for free speech” that “allow[s]” both pro-life and pro-abortion content.

YouTube’s full comment:

YouTube is a platform for free speech where anyone can choose to post videos, as long as they follow our Community Guidelines, which prohibit things like inciting violence and pornography. We apply these policies impartially and we allow both pro-life and pro-choice opinions. Over the last year we’ve described how we are working to better surface news sources across our site for news-related searches and topical information. We’ve improved our search and discovery algorithms, built new features that clearly label and prominently surface news sources on our homepage and search pages, and introduced information panels to help give users more authoritative sources where they can fact check information for themselves.

In the case of the “abortion” search results, YouTube’s intervention to insert “authoritative” content resulted in the downranking of pro-life videos and the elevation of pro-abortion ones.

A Google spokesperson took a tougher line than its YouTube subsidiary, stating that “Google has never manipulated or modified the search results or content in any of its products to promote a particular political ideology.”

However, in the leaked discussion thread, a member of Google’s “trust & safety” team, Daniel Aaronson, admitted that the company maintains “huge teams” that work to adjust search results for subjects that are “prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content” – all subjective terms that are frequently used to suppress right-leaning sources.

He also admitted that the interventions weren’t confined to YouTube – they included search results delivered via Google Assistant, Google Home, and in rare cases Google ’s organic search results.

In the thread, Aaronson attempted to explain how search blacklisting worked. He claimed that highly specific searches would generate non-blacklisted results, even controversial ones. But the inclusion of highly specific terms in the YouTube blacklist, like “David Hogg cant remember his lines” – the name of an actual viral video – seems to contradict this.

Aaronson’s full post is copied below:

I work in Trust and Safety and while I have no particular input as to exactly what’s happening for YT I can try to explain why you’d have this kind of list and why people are finding lists like these on Code Search.

When dealing with abuse/controversial content on various mediums you have several levers to deal with problems. Two prominent levers are “Proactive” and “Reactive”:

  • Proactive: Usually refers to some type of algorithm/scalable solution to a general problem
    • E.g.: We don’t allow straight up porn on YouTube so we create a classifier that detects porn and automatically remove or flag for review the videos the porn classifier is most certain of
  • Reactive: Usually refers to a manual fix to something that has been brought to our attention that our proactive solutions don’t/didn’t work on and something that is clearly in the realm of bad enough to warrant a quick targeted solution (determined by pages and pages of policies worked on over many years and many teams to be fair and cover necessary scope)
    • E,g.: A website that used to be a good blog had it’s domain expire and was purchased/repurposed to spam Search results with autogenerated pages full of gibberish text, scraped images, and links to boost traffic to other spammy sites. It is manually actioned for violating policy

These Organic Search policies and the consequences to violating them are public

Manually reacting to things is not very scalable, and is not an ideal solution to most problems, so the proactive lever is really the one we all like to lean on. Ideally, our classifiers/algorithm are good at providing useful and rich results to our users while ignoring things at are not useful or not relevant. But we all know, this isn’t exactly the case all the time (especially on YouTube).

From a user perspective, there are subjects that are prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content. Now, these words are highly subjective and no one denies that. But we can all agree generally, lines exist in many cultures about what is clearly okay vs. what is not okay. E.g. a video of a puppy playing with a toy is probably okay in almost every culture or context, even if it’s not relevant to the query. But a video of someone committing suicide and begging others to follow in his/her footsteps is probably on the other side of the line for many folks.

While my second example is technically relevant to the generic query of “suicide”, that doesn’t mean that this is a very useful or good video to promote on the top of results for that query. So imagine a classifier that says, for any queries on a particular text file, let’s pull videos using signals that we historically understand to be strong indicators of quality (I won’t go into specifics here, but those signals do exist). We’re not manually curating these results, we’re just saying “hey, be extra careful with results for this query because many times really bad stuff can appear and lead to a bad experience for most users”. Ideally the proactive lever did this for us, but in extreme cases where we need to act quickly on something that is so obviously not okay, the reactive/manual approach is sometimes necessary. And also keep in mind, that this is different for every product. The bar for changing classifiers or manual actions on span in organic search is extremely high. However, the bar for things we let our Google Assistant say out loud might be a lot lower. If I search for “Jews run the banks” – I’ll likely find anti-semitic stuff in organic search. As a Jew, I might find some of these results offensive, but they are there for people to research and view, and I understand that this is not a reflection of Google feels about this issue. But if I ask Google assistant “Why do Jews run the banks” we wouldn’t be similarly accepting if it repeated and promoted conspiracy theories that likely pop up in organic search in her smoothing voice.

Whether we agree or not, user perception of our responses, results, and answers of different products and mediums can change. And I think many people are used to the fact that organic search is a place where content should be accessible no matter how offensive it might be, however, the expectation is very different on a Google Home, a Knowledge Panel, or even YouTube.

These lines are very difficult and can be very blurry, we are all well aware of this. So we’ve got huge teams that stay cognizant of these facts when we’re crafting policies considering classifier changes, or reacting with manual actions – these decisions are not made in a vacuum, but admittedly are also not made in a highly public forum like TGIF or IndustryInfo (as you can imagine, decisions/agreement would be hard to get in such a wide list – image if all your CL’s were reviewed by every engineer across Google all the time). I hope that answers some questions and gives a better layer of transparency without going into details about our “Pepsi formula”.

Best,

Daniel

The fact that Google manually curates politically contentious search results fits in with a wider pattern of political activity on the part of the tech giant.

In 2018, Breitbart News exclusively published a leaked video from the company that showed senior management in dismay at Trump’s election victory, and pledging to use the company’s power to make his populist movement a “hiccup” in history.

Breitbart also leaked “The Good Censor,” an internal research document from Google that admits the tech giant is engaged in the censorship of its own products, partly in response to political events.

Another leak revealed that employees within the company, including Google’s current director of Trust and Safety, tried to kick Breitbart News off Google’s market-dominating online ad platforms.

Yet another showed Google engaged in targeted turnout operations aimed to boost voter participation in pro-Democrat demographics in “key states” ahead of the 2016 election. The effort was dubbed a “silent donation” by a top Google employee.

Evidence for Google’s partisan activities is now overwhelming. President Trump has previously warned Google, as well as other Silicon Valley giants, not to engage in censorship or partisan activities. Google continues to defy him.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

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Are You Suffering From Toxic Masculinity? Know The Warning Signs

Are you or a loved one suffering from toxic masculinity? Know the warning signs so you can seek help.

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Via BabylonBee.com:


More than 40% of men today suffer from it—and their loved ones pay the price.

It’s called “toxic masculinity,” and it’s the latest disease to plague the nation. It can affect every aspect of a toxic man’s life. Worst of all, toxic masculinity is contagious, so if you’re infected, you need to know right away so you can avoid spreading it to your friends and family.

Are you or a loved one suffering from toxic masculinity? Know the warning signs so you can seek help:

  • Even the faintest whisper of facial hair – If you have a mustache, schedule a check-up. If you find a goatee on your face, consider going into the emergency room. If you have a full-grown beard, well, it’s probably too late for you.
  • A belief that men and women are at least a little bit different – Should you be infected with the cancerous idea that men and women are even the slightest bit different from one another, you could have toxic masculinity. If you’re a woman who believes this, then you suffer from an even worse disease called internalized misogyny.
  • Throwing a professional wrestler off a steel cage right through the announcer’s table – Men who suddenly look around and find that they’re tossing a professional wrestler off a steel cage to plummet right through the announcer’s table are at high risk of developing toxic masculinity. If a man in your life is suffering from this symptom, encourage him to stop wrestling in the WWE immediately.
  • Eating meat on occasion – A disease like toxic masculinity can quickly change your diet. If you find yourself leaving your vegan avocado quinoa toast smoothies untouched in favor of wolfing down some bacon-wrapped bacon, you might have toxic masculinity.
  • Holding the door open for a woman once in a while – It looks innocent enough: a woman approaches, and you hold the door so she doesn’t have to open it again. Seems like common courtesy, right? WRONG. It’s one of the first warning signs of toxic masculinity, and you need to do better if you’re going to beat this thing. One way to reduce your toxic masculinity is to slam the door right in a woman’s face and scream, “EQUALITY!!!” through the glass when she glares at you.
  • Yelling stuff about freedom and charging into battle wearing blue face paint – If you find yourself charging into battle against the English wearing blue face paint in the 14th century, you might be beyond medical help. Do all of society a favor and get yourself drawn and quartered so no one else catches this contagious illness.
  • Being a man who doesn’t hate himself – This is the most telling sign. If you’re a biological male and you don’t hate yourself, toxic masculinity is already coursing through your veins. If there’s going to be any hope of recovery, you need to begin hating yourself today.

If you or your man are showing one or more of these symptoms, contact your medical professional today. Get help, before it’s too late.

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AG Nominee Barr May Swing Anti-Trust Hammer At Amazon, Facebook And Google

Barr responded that he is interested in “reassessing” Justice Department antitrust policies when it comes to tech giants.

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Via Zerohedge


President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, signaled during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he may put the screws to tech monopolies.

When asked by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) whether he thought antitrust laws were there “to protect consumers,” Barr responded that he is interested in “reassessing” Justice Department antitrust policies when it comes to tech giants.

“Yes, I mean generally that’s where I stand that is the purpose of anti-trust law obviously is to protect competition and competition ultimately that rebounds to consumer benefits. At the same time, I’m sort of interested in stepping back and reassessing or learning more about how the anti-trust division has been functioning and what their priorities are. I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of anti-trust enforcers.

When asked by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) about the DOJ’s role in terms of working with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to tackle anti-competitive behavior, Barr said: “I would like to weigh in to some of these issues.”

“I’d like to have the antitrust [division] support that effort to get more involved in reviewing the situation from a competition standpoint. I also am interested in the issue of privacy. And the question of who owns this data. And, you know, it’s not an area that I’ve studied closely or become an expert in. But I think it’s important for the department to get more involved in these questions.”

Tech giants Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple are five of the six most valuable companies in the world, reports CNBC, adding that lawmakers have called for greater regulation of the industry “as privacy and platform manipulation scandals have rankled Silicon Valley.”

Barr acknowledged he still doesn’t have the solutions to these questions, including about whether the Justice Department has the authority to address alleged bias on online platforms. He said he’d “have to think long and hard before I said that it was really the stuff of an antitrust matter.” But he also expressed concern over the “network effects” that have allowed tech companies to become “so powerful that particular sectors could essentially be subsumed into these networks.”

Whoever is confirmed as attorney general could play a key role in shaping the enforcement of antitrust regulation in the coming years. –CNBC

Barr is no stranger to antitrust issues – having recently battled the DOJ over the proposed AT&T / Time Warner merger. As a then-member of the Time Warner board, Barr filed an affidavit opposing the “inexplicable” opposition by the DOJ’s leadership in light of President Trump’s “prior public animus towards CNN and this merger,” reported the Washington Post in December.

The AG nominee says that if confirmed he will recuse himself from the AT&T – Time Warner case after a lower court approved the merger in June, only to have the DOJ file an appeal in July.

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