Major Hurricane Lane Moving Towards Hawaii; California Congressman Duncan Hunter and Wife Indicted For Using Campaign Funds for Personal Expenses; Facebook Has “Reputation Score” For Users in Fight Against Fake News; Updates On Cohen & Manafort’s Guilt, Trump's Responses; Atlanta Area School for the Deaf Closed Due to Threat; Update on Oklahoma School for the Deaf Threat;
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, August 22. Ready for news?
Major Hurricane Lane Moving Towards Hawaii
There is a major, category 4 hurricane — Hurricane Lane — that is nearing Hawaii and could directly hit one or more Hawaiian islands at the end of this week and weekend.
Hurricane Lane was a category 5 storm, but weakened to a category 4 this morning.
Hawaii’s Governor Ige has signed an emergency proclamation.
It is said the hurricane will threaten lives and property due to pounding surf, storm surges, flash flooding, mudslides, and strong winds.
The hurricane is now southeast of Hawaii and moving northwest.
Current weather forecast maps say the hurricane could weaken to category 3 or 2 and pass just below, south of the central and eastern islands starting Thursday evening throughout Saturday morning.
There are warnings of power outages and people are encouraged to be prepared with water and food, filling up their cars’ gas tanks, and know where to evacuate if necessary.
The Aloha State Association of the Deaf’s Facebook page is providing regular updates with ASL videos.
You can follow their Facebook page @ASAD.Hawaii.
It is rare for a hurricane to hit Hawaii. Some fear a repeat of Hurricane Iniki, a category 4 storm that damaged the island of Kauai in 1992.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter and Wife Indicted For Using Campaign Funds for Personal Expenses
California Congressman Duncan Hunter, who is a Republican and represents areas in San Diego, and his wife Margaret were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday. They said the two used over $250,000 in campaign funds, people’s donations, for personal expenses.
The Department of Justice investigated him for more than a year.
The indictment says the couple purposefully used the campaign funds for their personal use to pay personal bills such as vacations, children’s school lunches, or dentist bills, and that they made it seem like the purchases were related to his job.
Rep. Hunter said he and his wife are innocent and that the indictments are politically motivated. He is running for re-election this fall.
He is the second member of Congress to be indicted this month, with the first Rep. Chris Collins of New York, who was recently charged with insider trading.
Rep. Collins was running for re-election in New York, but after his indictment he announced he is stopping his campaign, but will finish his term.
One interesting fact — both were the first two sitting members of Congress to endorse Trump for president. They were the first two.
Facebook Has “Reputation Score” For Users in Fight Against Fake News
The Washington Post reported that Facebook has a “reputation score” for FB users, to measure if they are trustworthy on a scale from zero to 1.
A Facebook official said this is a part of their fight against fake news. Facebook does allow users to report, to flag articles as fake news, but they say sometimes people flag news as fake even if it is “real news.” That is their concern.
How it works — when someone flags an article as “fake,” Facebook staff will check the article to verify if it is true or false.
The Facebook official said sometimes people just disagree with the news article or don’t like the company, they might hate the company, so they will flag articles as false to “game the system,” to hurt the news company. That is their concern.
It seems like Facebook has an internal way to identify those kinds of users — such as if a person flags an article as fake and Facebook finds it to be true — FB might give the user a “low” reputation score.
While if someone flags a news article as fake, then when Facebook checks on it and finds the article to actually be false — the FB user’s reputation score might “go up.”
It is not known exactly how the system works, and there’s no way to see what your reputation score is. It’s all internal.
Facebook say they also have a score for news publishers, those who post news articles.
A big example of a “fake news” company being taken down is radio host Alex Jones’ “InfoWars.” They were recently taken down and this is possibly related.
All this is a part of Facebook’s responses to pressure on the company to control the spread of fake news.
Updates On Cohen & Manafort’s Guilt, Trump's Responses
Yesterday (Wednesday) was a big day in Trump-world with his former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleading guilty on 8 counts and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort found guilty on 8 counts by jury trial.
Now I will share several updates.
Cohen agreed to plead guilty in a deal that will have him going to prison for about 4 to 5 years. He will be sentenced in December.
Cohen said he did two of his crimes under orders by Trump — working to make illegal campaign payments to two women to keep them quiet about their claims of having an affair with Trump. They were paid for the purpose of influencing the election.
Cohen said Trump repaid him the money.
Now there are questions on what this means for Trump — if Cohen is guilty of a crime, and he said Trump told him to do it, does that make Trump also guilty?
Federal prosecutors in New York did not comment on this.
Trump’s lawyer Giuliani said the government’s charges against Cohen did not allege any wrongdoing by the president, that it is all on Cohen.
Trump tweeted this morning that the two campaign finance violations are not a crime.
But legal analysts say this is a crime, because Cohen purposefully violated the laws.
Let’s go to another update.
This morning Trump tried to shift the focus to President Obama, saying he had a big campaign finance violation, but that it was easily settled.
This is true — the Obama team was fined $375,000 by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for not filing 48-hour notices for about 1,300 contributions that totaled over $1.8 million.
Analysts say Obama’s fine is considered a civic violation and dealt with by the FEC, while the Cohen charge is criminal and dealt with in the courts, so there is a difference between the two.
Now another update.
An attorney for Cohen — Lanny Davis — said last night that Cohen would be happy to share more information about Trump to the Special Counsel Mueller.
Lanny said Cohen had information about the computer crime of hacking and if Trump knew in advance about hacking and encouraged it. He said Cohen has this information.
Lanny also said Cohen would never accept a pardon from Trump because he considers him to be a corrupt and a dangerous person.
Now, let’s go to Manafort.
His guilty verdicts on 8 counts of bank and tax fraud is a “victory” for the Mueller investigation, as this was the team’s first trial. There were 10 other counts that were “thrown out” because the jury couldn’t agree. He was guilty on 8 counts.
Trump said he feels very badly for Manafort and his family. Trump said he respected him for refusing to “break” like Cohen did, that he is a brave man.
Manafort is facing about 10 years in prison.
We know that Trump can pardon him, as he has done for several people recently.
Another update -- Manafort’s legal troubles is not over, as he has another trial next month in Washington, D.C. on charges of lying to the FBI, money laundering, and foreign lobbying.
Prosecutors from the Mueller team say they have more than double the amount of evidence from the first trial. They have much more. This means if he is guilty again, he will face additional prison time.
Atlanta Area School for the Deaf Closed Due to Threat; Update on Oklahoma School for the Deaf Threat
The Atlanta Area School for the Deaf (AASD) was closed yesterday, Tuesday, and today due to an alleged threat against the school.
The Superintendent John Serrano sent out a letter to families and guardians on Monday saying when they became aware of an alleged threat, they immediately contacted the Clarkston Police Department, who have started an investigation.
Serrano said they have implemented heightened security measures and they are closing the school in the best interest of students and faculty.
That was on Monday. Yesterday Serrano sent out another letter saying they would close school today, Wednesday, out of an abundance of caution, that the investigation is ongoing. Serrano asked anybody with information to contact Clarkston police.
Sign1News, a deaf news channel based in Atlanta, reported that they were in touch with law enforcement officials, who told them that last weekend, a student threatened to do a shooting at the school.
Classes at AASD started three weeks ago. It is a day school with over 180 students.
This is the second threat to close a deaf school in a week, with Oklahoma School for the Deaf closing last Thursday after someone left a threatening voice mail demanding an employee to be fired.
Today OSD posted on their Facebook page saying the FBI has identified a person in Los Angeles who has confessed to making the threatening phone call.
There were no students at OSD last week. Enrollment was supposed to be on Saturday, but it was postponed. Now OSD is announcing enrollment to be this Sunday with classes to start on Monday.
UPDATE: AASD will open tomorrow. Superintendent Serrano sent out a letter today saying law enforcement is confident that it is safe for students to return to school. They said they would share more information as soon as they are at liberty to do so.
AASD Letter: https://www.aasdweb.com/cms/lib/GA02223860/Centricity/Domain/4/8.21SchoolClosure.pdf
AASD Letter August 22: https://www.aasdweb.com/cms/lib/GA02223860/Centricity/Domain/4/AASD%208-23%20letter.pdf
Oklahoma School for the Deaf: https://www.facebook.com/OKSchool4theDeaf/
That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!