Wednesday morning news: August 1, 2018


Facebook uncovers election influence campaign » Facebook says it has uncovered a “sophisticated” effort to influence U.S. politics.

In a conference call with reporters, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced Tuesday …

SANDBERG: We removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior. 

The company’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said he doesn’t know for sure who was behind the shady accounts and pages. But, some of the activity resembled what he saw from the Internet Research Agency – or IRA. That’s the Russia-connected group that tried to influence Facebook users ahead of the 2016 election.

GLEICHER: And we discovered that some of the accounts and pages had been connected with known IRA accounts at some point. But there are differences too.  The IRA accounts we disabled last year sometimes used Russian IP addresses. We haven’t seen those here. 

The accounts ran about 150 ads on Facebook and Instagram and created nearly 10,000 posts.

The company said it would share any additional findings with law enforcement and Congress. Facebook briefed members of Congress this week.


Manafort trial » Prosecutors laid out their case against Paul Manafort in a Virginia courtroom Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. attorney Uzo Asonye told jurors the former Trump campaign chairman orchestrated a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade U.S. tax and banking laws. Asonye said Manafort considered himself above the law as he funneled tens of millions of dollars through offshore accounts.

It’s the first trial arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. However, the charges stem from Manafort’s business dealings years before he joined the Trump campaign.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway noted …

CONWAY: The judge has very strictly instructed no mention of Paul Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign. Don’t mention Trump. Don’t mention Russia. Don’t mention collusion. This trial centers obviously centers on matters that have nothing to do with the campaign. 

Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign around the first of April, 2016 and was officially promoted to chairman in May. But his tenure was brief as Trump fired him a month later.


NoKo reportedly still building missiles » U.S. intelligence officials believe North Korea is building new missiles capable of reaching the United States. That according to The Washington Post.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said new evidence, including satellite photos taken in recent weeks suggests North Korea is working on one or two liquid-fueled ICBMs just outside Pyongyang.

Sources told The Post that North Korea may intend to get rid of some warheads while secretly retaining many more.


President Trump raises concerns about 3D guns » Plans for do-it-yourself plastic firearms will not be available today after a federal judge temporarily blocked their release.

After a yearslong court battle, the State Department in late June settled a case against a Texas company seeking to publish instructions on how to make a gun using a 3D printer.

The State Department says it challenged Austin-based Defense Distributed in court to keep the blueprints off its website because it wanted to prevent the wrong people from making firearms overseas. But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained Tuesday …

NAUERT: The Department of Justice suggested that the State Department and the U.S. government settle this case, and so that is what we have done. We were informed that we would have lost this case in court – or would have likely lost this case in court based on First Amendment grounds. 

The settlement, which took gun-control advocates by surprise, allowed the company to resume posting blueprints for the hard-plastic guns.

But eight states sued to block the administration’s decision, contending the plastic weapons threaten public safety. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle agreed, at least for now.

Earlier in the day President Trump expressed concern and some measure of surprise on Tuesday tweeting—quote—“I am looking into 3D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”


Deadly attacks in Afghanistan, Tajikistan » At least 15 people have died in a pair of deadly attacks in eastern Afghanistan. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In Jalalabad Tuesday, militants targeted a government office, setting off a car bomb that led to a gunbattle. At least four people died and eight others were hurt.

And in a separate attack, a bus traveling to Kabul struck a roadside bomb, killing at least 11 people, while wounding more than 30 others.

Meanwhile, ISIS claimed responsibility for a weekend attack in Tajikistan that killed four Western tourists, including two Americans. A man on Sunday rammed his car into seven foreigners who were cycling through the Central Asian nation. The driver and his passengers then attacked the group with knives.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.


Another appeal for Andrew Brunson’s freedom denied in Turkey » A Turkish court rejected an appeal Tuesday to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest. Brunson awaits an October trial on charges that he participated in a failed coup attempt against President Recep Erdogan in 2016.

The U.S. government says the charges have no merit. And last week, President Trump threatened sanctions against Turkey if the government doesn’t drop the charge against Brunson.


I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead, problems and progress at the Department of Veterans Affairs. And later, our Southwest Region Hope Award winner. This is The World and Everything in It.


(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) In this April 10, 2018 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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