EU fines Google record $2.7 billion in first antitrust case

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Foo Yun Chee | BRUSSELS

It’s about time that someone takes on Fake Google!!!

EU antitrust regulators hit Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google with a record 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine on Tuesday, taking a tough line in the first of three investigations into the company’s dominance in searches and smartphones.

It is the biggest fine the EU has ever imposed on a single company in an antitrust case, exceeding a 1.06-billion-euro sanction handed down to U.S. chipmaker Intel (INTC.O) in 2009.

The European Commission said the world’s most popular internet search engine has 90 days to stop favoring its own shopping service or face a further penalty per day of up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily global turnover.

The fine, equivalent to 3 percent of Alphabet’s turnover, is the biggest regulatory setback for Google, which settled with U.S. enforcers in 2013 without a penalty after agreeing to change some of its search practices.

The EU competition enforcer has also charged Google with using its Android mobile operating system to crush rivals, a case that could potentially be the most damaging for the company, with the system used in most smartphones.

The company has also been accused of blocking rivals in online search advertising.

The Commission found that Google, with a market share in searches of over 90 percent in most European countries, had systematically given prominent placement in searches to its own comparison shopping service and demoted those of rivals in search results.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Google said its data showed people preferred links taking them directly to products they want and not to websites where they have to repeat their search.

“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said in a statement.

The action follows a seven-year investigation prompted by scores of complaints from rivals such as U.S. consumer review website Yelp (YELP.N), TripAdvisor (TRIP.O), UK price comparison site Foundem, News Corp (NWSA.O) and lobbying group FairSearch.

The penalty payment for failure to comply would amount to around $12 million a day based on Alphabet’s 2016 turnover of $90.3 billion. The Commission did not specify what changes Google had to make.

“This decision is a game-changer. The Commission confirmed that consumers do not see what is most relevant for them on the world’s most used search engine but rather what is best for Google,” said Monique Goyens, director general of EU consumer group BEUC.

Thomas Vinje, legal counsel to FairSearch, welcomed the Commission’s findings and urged it to act on Google’s Android mobile operating system following its 2013 complaint that Google restricted competition in software running on mobile devices.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Jason Neely)


Intel report: Kremlin sees US urging regime change in Russia

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kremlin leaders are convinced America is intent on regime change in Russia, a fear that is feeding rising tension and military competition between the former Cold War foes, the Pentagon’s intelligence arm has assessed.

The unclassified report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which will be publicly released later Wednesday, portrays Russia as increasingly wary of the United States. It cites Moscow’s “deep and abiding distrust of U.S. efforts to promote democracy around the world and what it perceives as a U.S. campaign to impose a single set of global values.”

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine,” the report says, referencing the claims by President Vladimir Putin’s government that the U.S. engineered the popular uprising that ousted Ukraine’s Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovich, in 2014. Russia responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region and supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“Moscow worries that U.S. attempts to dictate a set of acceptable international norms threatens the foundations of Kremlin power by giving license for foreign meddling in Russia’s internal affairs,” the report says. Titled “Russia Military Power,” it is the agency’s first such unclassified assessment in more than two decades.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report in advance of its public release. It harkens to Cold War days when the intelligence agency published a series of “Soviet Military Power” studies that defined the contours of the superpower rivalry. Those reports ended with the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union. Now they return, DIA’s director, Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, says, with an eye on the future of U.S.-Russian relations.

“Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge,” Stewart wrote in a preface to the report. No new, global ideological struggle akin to the Cold War is forecast, but the report cautions that Moscow “intends to use its military to promote stability on its own terms.”

During President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, the U.S.-Russian relationship deteriorated from an initial “reset” to American allegations that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election to aid Donald Trump’s victory. In between, were intense disagreements over Ukraine and Syria, where Russia has provided military help to President Bashar Assad’s government and the U.S. has backed anti-Assad rebels.

While Trump’s campaign rhetoric was widely seen as sympathetic to Russia, ties have not improved in his first six months of his presidency. In April, Trump said U.S.-Russian relations “may be at an all-time low.” Trump is expected to meet Putin for the first time at an international summit in Germany next week.

Thursday’s report, prepared long before Trump’s election, reflects the Pentagon’s view of the global security picture shifting after nearly two decades of heavy American focus on countering terrorism and fighting relatively small-scale wars across the Middle East. Russia, in particular, is now at the center of the national security debate in Congress, fed by political divisions over how to deal with Putin and whether his military buildup, perceived threats against NATO and alleged election interference call for a new U.S. approach.

Rep. Adam Smith, the House Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat, issued Wednesday a “national security manifesto” on Russia. He and a group of lawmakers writing in Time magazine cited the threat of “Putinism,” which they termed “a philosophy of dictatorship” that seeks to extinguish democratic ideals such as government transparency by exploiting “discontented facets of democratic polities worldwide.”

At a Senate intelligence committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said Russia is becoming more brazen.

“Russia’s goal is to sow chaos and confusion – to fuel internal disagreements and to undermine democracies whenever possible, and to cast doubt on the democratic process wherever it exists,” Warner said.

Jim Kudla, a DIA spokesman, said his agency’s report is unconnected to any recent events. It wasn’t requested by Congress.

The 116-page document offers a deep assessment of every dimension of Russian military power. It contains no new disclosures of military capability but portrays Russia as methodically and successfully rebuilding an army, navy and air force that weakened after the Soviet Union collapsed.

“The Russian military today is on the rise – not as the same Soviet force that faced the West in the Cold War, dependent on large units with heavy equipment,” the report says. It describes Russia’s new military “as a smaller, more mobile, balanced force rapidly becoming capable of conducting the full range of modern warfare.”

It cites the example of Moscow’s 2015 military intervention in Syria. The Kremlin cast the effort as designed to combat Islamic State fighters. Washington saw Moscow largely propping up Assad by providing air support for the Syrian army’s offensive against opposition forces.

The report says the Syria intervention is intended also to eliminate jihadist elements that originated on the former Soviet Union’s territory to prevent them from returning home and threatening Russia.

In any case, the report credits the intervention for having “changed the entire dynamic of the conflict, bolstering the Assad regime and ensuring that no resolution to the conflict is possible without Moscow’s agreement.”

“Nevertheless, these actions also belie a deeply entrenched sense of insecurity regarding a United States that Moscow believes is intent on undermining Russia at home and abroad,” the report says.


CNN Battle with Sean Spicer Continues as He Shuts Out Jim Acosta

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Charlie Spiering

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly ignored CNN’s Jim Acosta during the White House press briefing on Monday, despite repeated attempts by the veteran White House correspondent to ask questions.

Spicer began the press briefing announcing that he would allow still cameras.

Several camera shutters clicked, prompting him to joke about “putting sketch artists out of business now,” after CNN hired a sketch artist last week to outline an off-camera breifing.

Acosta interrupted the press briefing, asking Spicer why he refused to turn on the cameras during the briefing.

“There’s no camera on, Jim,” Spicer replied.

“Maybe we should turn the cameras on. Sean, why don’t we turn the cameras on, why don’t we turn the cameras on?”

“I’m sorry that you have to do this,” Spicer said, as Acosta repeatedly asked why the cameras were off earlier in the briefing.

“Why not turn the cameras on Sean? They’re in the room, the lights are on,” Acosta continued.

Spicer did not call on Acosta during the entire briefing, but he interrupted during other questions with reporters. After the press secretary called on  One America News reporter Trey Yingst, Acosta interrupted again to ask Spicer repeatedly about the cameras.

“Why are the cameras off Sean? Why did you turn them off, can you just give us an answer to that? Can you tell us why you turned the cameras off? Why are they off Sean? It’s a legitimate question. If you are a taxpayer funded spokesman for the United States government, can you at least give us an explanation as to why the cameras are off?” he asked.

“Can we get this out of the way?” Yingst asked after Acosta brought up the subject again.

“Yeah, some days we’ll have them and some days we won’t,” Spicer replied, pointing out that President Donald Trump was speaking on camera later in the day with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Look, this is nothing inconsistent with what we’ve said from day one,” he added, defending his position.

Later, Acosta went on CNN to report his treatment in the press briefing, noting that Spicer refused to take a question from him.

“It sounds like Sean Spicer ignored your questions,” the anchor said, pointing out the “heated exchanges” with Spicer.

“Sean Spicer has refused to take questions from CNN for weeks now,” Acosta said, although he clarified that “he may have taken a question here or there, over the last couple of weeks.”

“We’ve largely been just blackballed during these briefings,” he asserted. “We’re just not getting questions to the White House press secretary … that would not have happened in previous administrations.”

Spicer said Acosta’s assertion that CNN had been “blackballed” was “truly fake news,” telling the Washington Post that he had called on CNN’s Athena Jones last week, and spoke with CNN reporter Joe Johns on Monday morning.

Later in the afternoon, Acosta joined reporters in the Rose Garden for a joint statement with President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But when he looked for his seat, his placard that had been placed in the White House front row of the press section earlier in the afternoon appeared to be missing and some of CNN’s equipment had been moved.

Acosta spoke with White House press aides, returned with a CNN placard, and sat in a seat in the front row that was left empty.

After President Trump and Prime Minister Modi finished speaking, Acosta shouted questions at the president about the health care bill, but Trump ignored him.

“Thank you,” Trump responded shortly before leaving the podium.

Fox News’s Sean Hannity Calls for CNN’s Jeff Zucker to be Fired in Wake of Fake News Scandal

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Adam Shaw

Fox News host Sean Hannity called for CNN President Jeff Zucker to be fired Monday in the wake of a fake news scandal embroiling the anti-Trump network  that resulted in the resignation of three of its top journalists.

Hannity accused Zucker of destroying the network with lies and “VERY FAKE NEWS.”

Hannity made the call just hours after it was announced that three employees including the executive editor of a new investigative unit resigned after CNN was forced to retract an article connecting a Russian investment firm to associates of President Trump.

CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that Thomas Frank, the author of the piece, editor Eric Lichtblau, and editor Lex Haris had all left CNN in the wake of the scandal after an internal investigation. The retraction came after a Breitbart News investigation highlighting inaccuracies and flaws in the piece. CNN quickly deleted the story and eventually replaced it with an editor’s note.

Senior figures at the network also placed a freeze on Russia-related stories, telling employees that they had to be run through members of senior management before going live.

The brouhaha led Hannity to call for Zucker’s firing, as he cited Breitbart’s reporting of the scandal.

He also said he doubted the official narrative being fed out of CNN headquarters, suggesting that the employees may have been paid to resign, perhaps to spare Zucker’s reputation.

Hannity also tweeted to Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, telling him to tell “soon-to-be-fired” Zucker to watch Hannity’s show on Fox News Channel, adding: “I have a message!”

Hannity’s call for Zucker’s firing comes after President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., told Breitbart News that Zucker should address the scandal in an on-camera press briefing.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY

Flashback: CNN Producer Who Called Trump-Russia Story ‘Bullsh*t’ Defendant in Fake News Lawsuit

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

John Bonifield, Anderson Cooper and CNN sued for inventing defamatory claims

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A CNN producer, who was recently caught on camera slamming his network’s coverage of the Russia-Trump narrative, is also named as a defendant in an ongoing defamation lawsuit against his employer and peers.

In recently released footage from Project Veritas, producer John Bonifield was secretly filmed admitting CNN’s coverage of the Russian-Trump narrative is “bullshit.”

But a lawsuit brought forth last year by a Florida pediatric surgeon accuses CNN, Bonifield and several employees of also inventing false and defamatory claims about his practice.

In the lawsuit filed in a Florida circuit court in February 2016, Dr. Michael Black of St. Mary’s Medical Center claims CNN published a series of online articles and video reports that aired on the CNN TV network which were “demonstrably false.”

According to the lawsuit, “Defendant Bonifield co-authored and published some of the defamatory articles concerning Dr. Black. Upon information and belief, Defendant Bonifield also produced and published at least some of the defamatory video reports concerning Dr. Black.”

One such video co-produced by Bonifield, “Secret Deaths: CNN Finds High Surgical Death Rate for Children at a Florida Hospital,” claimed Dr. Black “treated babies as sacrificial lambs,” and states he made “[a] total mess with newborn babies.”

“These implications are false,” the complaint states. “Dr. Black has never treated ‘[b]abies as sacrificial lambs’ and has never performed surgery recklessly, wantonly, and/or with anything less than with care that meets or exceeds the standard of care.”

“By publication of these implications, Defendants CNN, [Elizabeth] Cohen, and Bonifield did cause harm to Dr. Black’s reputation, expose Dr. Black to distrust, hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, cause Dr. Black to be avoided, and injure Dr. Black in his office, occupation, business, or employment.”

Additionally, CNN launched an injunction preventing parties involved in the lawsuit from discussing it.

“SUPER IRONY BONUS,” notes Charles Glasser, “’The Most Trusted Name in News’ sought and obtained a protective order preventing any of the parties from talking to the public about discovery. Because, you know, champions of transparency and the right to know.”

H/t: instapundit


Project Veritas Undercover Investigation: CNN Producer Admits Network Hyping ‘Mostly Bullsh*t’ Trump-Russia Scandal for ‘Ratings’

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Matthew Boyle

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has struck again: This time, a senior CNN producer was caught on camera by one of O’Keefe’s investigators admitting that the network’s relentless bashing of President Donald Trump with the Russia scandal lacks proof.

“Could be bullshit. I mean, it’s mostly bullshit right now,” the CNN producer, John Bonifield, said in a video O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released on Tuesday, when asked about his thoughts on the Russia investigation. “Like, we don’t have any giant proof. Then they say, well there’s still an investigation going on. And you’re like, yeah, I don’t know. If they were finding something we would know about it. The way these leaks happen, they would leak it. They’d leak. If it was something really good, it would leak…. The leaks keep leaking and there’s so many great leaks, and it’s amazing. I just refuse to believe that if they had something really good like that that wouldn’t leak because we’ve been getting all these other leaks. So, I just feel like they don’t really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the president is probably right to say, like, look you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun. You have no real proof.”


The video also shows Bonifield admitting that he has not seen evidence that Trump has committed any crimes.

“I haven’t seen any good evidence to show the president committed a crime,” Bonifield says in the video.

And even if Russia did try to influence the U.S. election, Bonifield is heard saying in the video, that is not really much of a scandal. He is seen arguing that Russian efforts to influence the election would be normal, and that the U.S. government does the same thing around the world all the time.

“Even if Russia was trying to swing an election, we try to swing their elections, our CIA is doing shit all the time, we’re out there trying to manipulate governments,” Bonifield says.

Bonifield is a supervising producer for CNN Health. According to his biography on CNN’s website, Bonifield works with the CNN Medical Unit and “primarily with CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.”

These startling admissions from a CNN producer on hidden camera video come amid many other comments the video shows him making that are particularly problematic for a network in crisis. The Project Veritas video was released on Tuesday amid the worst scandal in CNN history. Zucker, the network president, is currently leading an internal investigation into a very fake news hit piece that CNN published Thursday night then retracted late Friday after a Breitbart News investigation. He is joined, per reports from BuzzFeed News, by the head of HR inside CNN at the top of the investigation. Three of CNN’s senior-most editorial staffers have resigned as a result of the growing scandal.

In narration over the video, O’Keefe notes that “Bonifield has worked for CNN as a journalist and producer for nearly 15 years.”

“He not only gave us a tour of CNN’s main newsroom, he gave us a window into the editorial bias and anti-Trump agenda of the organization,” O’Keefe says.

O’Keefe’s Project Veritas is billing this video as part one of a multi-part investigation into what they call: “American Pravda.”

“Fake News: We start our American Pravda investigations inside American media with part one: CNN,” O’Keefe says in the video. “Our goal is to expose the real motivations behind the decision-making process at our dominant media corporations. Fake News. One story has monopolized President Trump’s time in office like no other, especially on CNN: Russia. In fact, since the Inauguration, CNN has mentioned Russia on their air nearly 16,000 times. So we sent our undercover reporters inside CNN to understand why and to determine if CNN even believes if the story is even real.”

In addition to those aforementioned revelations in the Project Veritas video, Bonifield is shown on camera saying the reason CNN leadership and management is so focused on the Russia scandal despite the lack of real proof is “because it’s ratings.”

“Our ratings are incredible right now,” the video from Project Veritas shows Bonifield saying.

In the video, Bonifield says that CNN leadership regularly axes coverage of other newsworthy stories to shift coverage back to the Russia story. He provided as an example of the network’s coverage of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords—which he is seen saying in the video lasted less than two days—before management deliberately shifted coverage back to the Russia scandal.

“My boss, I shouldn’t say this, my boss yesterday we were having a discussion about this dental shoot and he goes and he was just like I want you to know what we are up against here,” Bonifield is seen saying. “And he goes, just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords and for a day and a half we covered the climate accords. And the CEO of CNN said in our internal meeting, he said good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we’re done with it let’s get back to Russia.”

When asked by the Project Veritas investigator if it was the CEO of CNN—according to O’Keefe they were referring to CNN president Jeff Zucker—who made that determination, Bonifield is heard saying: “Yeah.”

“So, even the climate accords, he was like a day or so it’s okay but we’re moving back to Russia,” Bonifield says in the video.

“It’s a business,” Bonifield says in the video. “People are like the media has an ethical … But, all the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school, you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. This is a business. Especially cable news. Cable news isn’t the New York Times, and it’s not even like NBC News. I mean NBC News still gets 20 million viewers a night. Cable news is getting a million. So, they got to do what they got to do to make their money.”

Bonifield is also seen saying in the video that CNN treats President Trump much differently than CNN treated now former President Barack Obama when he was in office.

“I think there a lot of like liberal CNN viewers who want to see Trump really get scrutinized,” the CNN producer is seen saying in the video. “And I think if we would have behaved that way with President Obama and scrutinized everything that he was doing with as much scrutiny as we apply to Donald Trump, I think our viewers would have been turned off. I think they would have felt like we were attacking him. And I’m not saying all of our viewers are super liberals, I think there’s just a lot of them.”

He adds that: “Trump is good for business right now.”

Van Jones: Russia is “Nothing burger” — American Pravda: CNN Part 2

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

White House: Everyone Should Watch This Video

CNN Responds: Bonifield Just a “Health Producer”

(NEW YORK) — Project Veritas’ American Pravda: CNN continues today with a video of left-leaning political commentator Van Jones caught on camera plainly stating that “the Russia thing is just a big nothing burger.”

This follows the release of a video of CNN Producer John Bonifield, who was caught touting the Russia narrative as “bullsh*t.”

According to Brian Stelter on Twitter, CNN released a statement stating that Bonifield is just a “Health Producer” and “isn’t involved in Russia or Trump coverage.”

Paul Fahri of the Washington Post also weighed in on the Veritas video and Bonifield’s position at CNN:

“[I]t never mentions that Bonifield is a producer of health and medical stories, raising questions about how relevant his views are, and how informed he is, about CNN’s political coverage.”

Jones is one of CNN’s most prominent political commentators, and has appeared on CNN in the past attacking President Trump for his “Putin relationship.”

On December 18, 2016 Jones said: “Other Presidents tried to say nice things about the Russians — not in the face of an active attack on the country!”

“I mean, it’s mostly bullshit right now,” Bonifield says in the first video. “Like, we don’t have any giant proof.”

CNN’s Public Relations team eventually was forced by the overwhelming coverage of our video (with no help from them, of course) to give a statement:

“CNN stands by our medical producer John Bonifield. Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it.”

CNN is receiving heavy criticism from the President of the United States, and the video was mentioned by the Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

“There is a video circulating now. Whether it is accurate or not, I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism — we’ve been going on this Russia-Trump hoax for the better part of a year now with no evidence of anything.”

“Last year, we had to circumvent the mainstream media,” said James O’Keefe. “At a Trump inaugural event, I put the mainstream media on notice. If you are in the media and are using deception or malfeasant tactics, you may want to sleep with one eye open.”

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