Friday Morning Briefing: Ammon Bundy walks

October 28, 2016

Ammon Bundy and his band of gun-toting protesters were cleared of federal conspiracy charges that stemmed from their role in the armed takeover of a wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year. It was stinging defeat for federal prosecutors and law enforcement in a trial the defendants sought to turn into a pulpit for airing their opposition to U.S. government control over millions of acres of public land in the West.

Which Facebook posts are censored and which are not? This decision comes down to an elite group of at least five senior executives that direct content policy and make editorial judgment calls. Not an easy balance, though, as they stand between free-speech advocates who cite a lack of transparency and appeals process and governments who want the company to remove posts they consider offensive or dangerous.

Quote of the day

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.” – Justice Potter Stewart on obscenity, U.S. Supreme Court, Jacobellis vs. Ohio, 1964

Donald Trump would like to cancel the election and be named president, because he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton’s trade policies.

“We should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? Her policies are so bad.” – Donald Trump, Oct. 27, 2016

Joke or not, this is the second pillar of democracy that Trump has recently challenged. The first was leaving to question whether he would accept the results of the election. There also remains the very open question as to whether anyone should refer to themselves in the third person unless their name is James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.

Not the Long Island Expressway

A 2016 Nissan Versa and a 2015 Nissan Tsuru collide in a controlled crash test at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety facility in Ruckersville, Virginia U.S., October 27, 2016.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX2QR55

A 2016 Nissan Versa and a 2015 Nissan Tsuru collide in a controlled crash test at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety facility in Ruckersville, Virginia, Oct. 27, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Around the country

  • North Dakota Police arrested 141 protesters during demonstrations to halt construction of an oil pipeline. Police in riot gear used pepper spray and armored vehicles to disperse 330 protesters and clear a camp on private property in the path of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. Some protesters responded by throwing rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police, attaching themselves to vehicles and starting fires, police said.
  • A woman who works as a corporate lawyer with an Alaska energy company accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999, a charge he called “preposterous” and untrue. The woman, Moira Smith, said Thomas grabbed and squeezed her buttocks several times during a dinner party when she was 23 years old in the Falls Church, Virginia, home of her boss at the time, the National Law Journal reported on Thursday.
  • A U.S. federal judge blocked abortion restrictions in Alabama that limit how close clinics can be to public schools. He also blocked the state’s ban on a procedure used to terminate pregnancies in the second trimester.

 Around Wall Street

Digits of the day: $48 million

The six-fold price increase of EpiPens, the emergency allergy medicine, had a fairly dramatic impact on families. Turns out, it also costs the Pentagon an extra shekel or two. Defense Department spending on EpiPens rose to $57 million over the past year from $9 million in 2008. That’s a difference of $48 million. How many F-16 planes could the Pentagon buy for that? None, actually. They cost about $165 million each.

  • The U.S. economy grew at a higher-than-expected 2.9 percent in the third quarter, its strongest rate in two years, helped by a surge in exports and a rebound in inventory investment. Consumer spending slowed during the quarter, however.
  • As his term winds down, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has retreated from both the radical policies and rhetoric of his early tenure, suggesting there will be no further monetary easing except in response to a big external shock. In a clear departure from his initial “shock and awe” tactics to jolt the nation from its deflationary mindset, he has even taken to flagging what little change lies ahead, trying predictability where surprise has failed.

Around the world

  • Syrian rebels began a counter-attack in Aleppo with heavy shelling of government-held areas after a weeks-long Russian-backed offensive against besieged districts held by insurgents, rebels said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that insurgents had set off several suicide car bombs on the western edge of Aleppo.
  • Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary groups are about to launch an offensive on Islamic State positions west of Mosul, assisting in the military campaign to take back the city. The operation will target an area close to Turkey and where a sizeable ethnic Turkmen population lives, likely causing alarm in Ankara.
  • Rohingya Muslims say Myanmar soldiers raped or sexually assaulted dozens of women in a remote village in the northwest of the country during the biggest upsurge in violence against the persecuted minority in four years. Eight Rohingya women, all from U Shey Kya village in Rakhine State, described in detail how soldiers last week raided their homes, looted property and raped them at gun point.

Today’s reason to live

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see