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Zuckerberg Insists Facebook Will Become More ‘Privacy Focused’

In a 3,000-word post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday claimed that he intends to turn the social network into a more “privacy-focused” operation, CNBC reports. Zuckerberg wrote that he believes the “future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services,” and he hopes his company could “help” bring that future about. The CEO also reportedly said the tech company was in the early stages of developing methods for Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp direct messages to become cross-platform so users could “reach their friends across these networks from whichever app they prefer.” The post also addressed the various data privacy scandals that have plagued the social network, acknowledging that Facebook doesn’t currently have a “strong reputation for building privacy protective services[.]” However, Zuckerberg claimed the company has “repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want[.]”

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Pope prays for tornado victims as Trump prepares to visit

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — Pope Francis sent condolences Wednesday to tornado victims in Alabama, where searchers have been scouring a dismal landscape of shattered homes, splintered pines and broken lives.

President Donald Trump said he will visit Alabama on Friday to see the damage.

Twenty-three people were killed and dozens more were injured when the powerful tornado ripped through Lee County. The youngest of those killed was 6, the oldest 89.

The search for victims, pets and belongings in and around the devastated rural community of Beauregard was being conducted amid the din of beeping heavy machinery and whining chain saws on Tuesday. But Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said the list of the missing had shrunk from dozens to just seven or eight.

Kayla Causey sifts through the debris while helping her mother retrieve personal items after a tornado destroyed her home in Beauregard, Ala., Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

“We’ve got piles of rubble that we are searching just to make sure,” said Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather Jr. “We don’t think we’ll find nobody there, but we don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”

At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was praying for the dead and injured of the Alabama tornado, saying he is spiritually close to all those who are suffering and grieving.

Francis sent a telegram of condolences Wednesday to the bishop of Mobile, Alabama, the Most Rev. Thomas Rodi, saying he was saddened to learn of the “tragic loss of life and injuries” caused by the twister.

Francis prayed for peace and strength for the survivors, and that God “may grant eternal rest to the dead, especially the children, and healing and consolation to the injured and those who grieve.”

ADDED SHARED WITH-Carol Dean, right, is embraced by David Theo Dean as they sift through the debris of the home Carol shared with her husband and David’s father, David Wayne Dean, who died when a tornado destroyed the house in Beauregard, Ala. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The tornado was an EF4 with winds estimated at 170 mph (274 kph) and carved a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 kilometers) wide in Alabama, scraping up the earth in a phenomenon known as “ground rowing,” the National Weather Service said. It traveled a remarkable 70 miles (113 kilometers) or so through Alabama and Georgia, where it caused more damage.

It was the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

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Legal Aid takes over Las Vegas shooting assistance center

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada is taking over administration of a program that assists survivors, family members and victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Legal Aid executive Barbara Buckley announced Tuesday there will be no disruption of Vegas Strong Resiliency Center services under the move approved by the Clark County Commission.

The Vegas Strong center is due to stay open through at least May 2021.

Officials say counseling, referrals and legal assistance are the biggest needs of people affected by the October 2017 attack – including first responders, those who helped victims and witnessed to the shooting.

Fifty-eight people died and more than 850 were injured when a gunman opened fire from a high-rise hotel into an open-air country music concert crowd of 22,000 people on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Santa Fe official testifies in somber committee hearing on school safety bills

The Senate Education Committee was marked by a somber tone Tuesday as lawmakers held their first hearing on school safety proposals since the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 dead and another 13 wounded.

Representatives from schools affected by gun violence spoke in a room that seemingly grew more quiet and attentive as their testimony went on.

“When a high school student tells you that this is just — in their mind — a product of the time they’re growing up in,” said Rusty Norman, the president of the board of trustees at Santa Fe ISD. “There’s just something fundamentally wrong with that.”

Lawmakers and members of the public present in the committee room gave Norman and other school leaders a standing ovation for their response to the shooting.

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At Tuesday’s committee hearing — which ran for roughly eight hours — lawmakers laid out a bevy of school safety bills, a top priority for both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott. Consideration of the legislation came almost a year after the Sante Fe shootings. Proposals included altering an existing state-sanctioned program to arm teachers and a sweeping measure that would expand emergency training and threat assessment teams in Texas schools.

Gun control wasn’t a topic of consideration at Tuesday’s hearing. Instead, lawmakers spent the bulk of their time discussing what could be done to prevent — or at least mitigate — the next mass tragedy. The proposals that earned the support of lawmakers of all political stripes included ones to strengthen security and mental health initiatives in schools.

“We have to have the threat assessment and we have to have the mental health or else we’re going to lose this battle,” said Michael Matranga, the executive director of security and school safety for Texas City Independent School District.

At times, there were some points of contention not unusual for such a hot-button priority item. Disability rights advocates were concerned students with invisible or unidentified disabilities might be perceived as threats under revamped threat assessment programs. Gun control advocates, including someone from Moms Demand Action, spoke against any bill that would work to “increase the number of guns in schools.”

“From Columbine from Santa Fe, I have not known a life free of gun violence,” said Michael Clarke who testified on behalf of Students Demand Action against a bill to tweak the marshal program. Preventing shootings in Texas schools, he said, “does not come from arming teachers.”

But panelists on the committee were in a consensus: Texas schools need to have programs in place to ensure a quicker response for when school shooting happen, and the Legislature needs to take steps to help prevent those shootings from happening in the first place.

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Santa Fe “was not just a Texas tragedy. [It] was an American tragedy,” said state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville.

During the hearing state Sen. Larry Taylor, who represents Santa Fe ISD, laid out Senate Bill 11 — a broad school safety bill that would employ mental health professionals in Texas school districts, expand emergency response training for district employees and establish threat assessment teams. Such teams would help identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best ways to intervene before they become violent.

“The best thing we can do for school safety is prevention,” said Taylor, who also chairs the committee. Still, he reassured other lawmakers SB 11 was not yet in its final form and that he looked forward to having a “robust conversation” on the measure.

That conversation started with the people who knew the tragedy best.

Norman, who spoke as a resource witness for the panel, said that after the shooting occurred the high school turned to “hardening” their infrastructure through the installation of metal detectors and other “immediate improvements,” like additional mental health support.

He told the panel, however, that metal detectors — some of which were donated by Patrick — are not the only things needed to protect Texas schoolchildren. In addition to security upgrades already in place at Santa Fe, like adding security entrances to the high school, he also spoke in favor of counseling and “recognizing these people before there is a problem.”

“Santa Fe ISD on May 17 thought it was in really good shape when it came to safety and security,” Norman said. “We had an incident on May 18.

Norman spoke briefly about how the conversation on school safety in Santa Fe varied drastically from the one that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people died.

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“We’re not comparing apples to apples with Parkland and Santa Fe,” Norman said. “Gun control has not been the focus in Santa Fe Texas. We feel like we took mental health and grief counseling to heart much sooner.”

School personnel repeatedly encouraged the Legislature to assist schools financially since, they said, districts cannot rely on grants to help pay for long-term improvements. For the most part, lawmakers were keen on allocating legislative dollars to help offset the cost on school districts. Taylor’s bill appears to take an unspecified amount from the rainy day fund to cover the costs. But at times, lawmakers like state Sen. Bob Hall of Edgewood pushed back at the idea of throwing money at Texas schools.

“You cannot put a price on a child’s safety and security,” Norman said.

The invited testimony for SB 11 along with the programs championed by both Norman and Matranga are among a handful of proposals in line with the governor’s 43-page school safety plan that he released weeks after the shooting. In addition, the panel also heard testimony on a handful of other — much narrower — school safety proposals that have earned Abbott’s support, including three bills that would’ve altered the school marshal program.

Senate Bill 243 and Senate Bill 406 by Republican state Sens. Brandon Creighton of Conroe and Brian Birdwell of Granbury would eliminate the mandate that trained school marshals, whose identities are kept secret from all but a few local officials, keep their firearm under lock and key. Creighton’s bill, however, has language allowing districts to choose whether they want their marshals to openly carry their weapons. Another bill by Creighton, Senate Bill 244, would eliminate the cap on how many marshals a school district can have.

“[Districts] can write their own policy that would fit the district’s needs,” Creighton said when laying out his SB 243. “It makes the school marshals program more user friendly.”

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Former OSU student pleads guilty, gets time served in Twitter threat case

EUGENE — A former Oregon State University student who threatened a mass shooting at the university in a series of Twitter posts pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court to a charge stemming from the threat.

Christopher Adam Strahan, who has been in custody since February of last year, when he made the threats, was sentenced to a year of imprisonment and three years of post-prison supervision after he pleaded guilty to a count of making an interstate threat.

He was also barred from entering the campuses or contacting the employees of OSU or Linn-Benton Community College, where he also took classes.

In a sentencing memorandum, Assistant United States Attorney Amy E. Potter said the state recommended a short sentence and added that the crime occurred while Strahan’s mental health issues were not being treated and he was abusing substances.

“Hopefully, a year in jail will deter him from making similar threats in the future,” the statement read. “He must also be carefully supervised to make sure he engages in mental health, abstains from drug and alcohol, and takes any prescribed medications.”

Strahan’s attorney, Robert Schrank, said Strahan has spent the last year in custody working on his mental health issues.

“He’s doing well. The year he spent in detention has actually been very helpful,” he said.

Schrank said his client has been taking classes, keeping fit and taking his medications.

“The prospects are good for his success,” he said.

Strahan promised to stick with his mental health treatment.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I’ve become aware of my impact on others and can guarantee this won’t happen again,” he said.

Judge Ann Aiken said she was pleased with the outcome of the case.

“You’re not my first person to decompose at Oregon State,” she said. “That’s not their fault. It’s happening across the nation. Services are inadequate” for students struggling with mental health issues.

Aiken asked Strahan about his plans. He told her was considering attending trade school to become a pipe fitter. She encouraged him to consider college again when he readjusted to life outside detention. 

She also tasked him with volunteering with a mental health crisis line and asked him to give his feedback to the people in charge about how services could be improved from the perspective of someone who survived suicidal and self-destructive impulses.

Aiken added she was optimistic about Strahan’s future.

“You had a mental health episode, you can get past this and have opportunity,” she said.

Aiken ordered Strahan to begin mental health treatment upon his release and scheduled a status check with him on May 20 to check on how he was transitioning out of detention and make sure he was able to find adequate services.

“It’s really remarkable you have done so well and gotten back on track,” she said.

Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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Washington teen sentenced to 22 years for planned mass shooting that was foiled by grandmother

EVERETT, Wash – A teen in Everett, Washington whose school shooting plan was discovered and foiled by his grandmother was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.

KOMO news reports that Joshua O’Connor, 19 was handed the sentence by Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss. O’Connor was a former student at ACES Alternative High School.

In December 2018, O’Connor pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery with a firearm and possession of an explosive device in connection with the plot.

In February 2018 O’Connor’s grandmother, Katsel O’Connor, called 911 to report what she believed were credible threats by her grandson to incite a mass shooting at his high school.

Police met with the grandmother at her home, where O’Connor had been staying, and were shown excerpts of O’Connor’s journal that the grandmother discovered last night.

The excerpt said, in part:

“I’m preparing myself for the school shooting. I can’t wait. My aim has gotten much more accurate. I can’t wait to walk into that class and blow all those (expletive) away. I need to make this shooting/bombing…infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can. I need to make this count… I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes, so I don’t make the same ones.”

The grandmother also discovered a semi-automatic rifle stored in a guitar case. Police believe O’Connor used the rifle to rob a gas station convenience store and steal $100 from the register.

During the sentencing, O’Connor’s grandmother asked the judge to show mercy to her son. The judge acknowledged her heroic efforts, but declined a request for a sentence below standard range, saying that the shooting was planned methodically and not an impulse.

In a written statement, O’Connor apologized to the court, saying he’d been suicidal and abusing drugs and alcohol.

Copyright 2019 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

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Hickenlooper Officially Tosses Hat Into 2020 Ring: Here’s Where The Moderate Governor Stands On Health Issues

John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, says he supports the concept of universal health care coverage, but does not back plans such as “Medicare for All.” He was serving as governor at the time of the Aurora, Colo. mass shootings, and recently spoke out about gun control. “Gun violence is the real national emergency plaguing our nation,” he tweeted after the shooting last month in Illinois.

The New York Times:
John Hickenlooper Says He Is Running In 2020, Citing A ‘Crisis Of Division’

John Hickenlooper, the two-time Colorado governor and former brewpub owner who has overseen Colorado’s remarkable economic expansion, declared his candidacy for president on Monday. Mr. Hickenlooper, 67, a socially progressive, pro-business Democrat who has called himself an “extreme moderate,” had long said he was considering a run, and made early visits to Iowa and New Hampshire. (Turkewitz, 3/4)

The New York Times:
John Hickenlooper On The Issues

Mr. Hickenlooper supports universal health care in principle but has refused to get behind specific proposals like “Medicare for all.” Speaking in New Hampshire last month, he said that there were “many different ways to cut the pie and work on the issue” and that intraparty arguments over the specifics were counterproductive. He did, however, explicitly reject the idea of eliminating private insurance companies, as promoted by Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. During his governorship, Mr. Hickenlooper and Colorado’s divided Legislature expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a fact he highlighted as speculation about a possible presidential run increased. (Astor, 3/4)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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Adweek's Arc Awards: These 22 Campaigns Raised the Bar for Brand Storytelling Excellence in 2018

In advance of our inaugural Brand Challenge conference last month, we also launched the Adweek Intelligence Report, a new survey product we are rolling out this year in advance of our key tentpoles to get a better sense of the priorities of the communities we serve with our content and events. The first survey of 200 marketing executives uncovered dozens of interesting insights into both established and challenger brands.

One of the clearest signals to ring through the report was that as consumers continue to have more control over their digital destiny in terms of content and advertising, narrative-based marketing—storytelling—will increasingly be the path for brands of all kinds to take if they want to achieve lasting consumer interest and loyalty. We first caught wind of this shift away from interruptive advertising almost four years ago and have followed the story with interest ever since. Last month’s survey confirmed we were right to take notice.

Now in its third year, Adweek’s Arc Awards once again brings you storytelling gems for clients ranging from the U.S. Navy to Skittles. While the arc of these campaigns spans emotion, humor, compassion, politics and societal pain points and woes, they all engage with a powerful narrative rather than a cold interruption.

In a significant shift this year, we are publishing Adweek Arc Awards in concert with SXSW and will host a celebration of the winners on Saturday, March 9, in Austin. Our sponsor Screenvision Media will return as well and help us reveal our Grand Arc Award winner. I’d like to thank our panel of 24 jurors, especially jury chairperson Shannon Pruitt, CMO of The Honest Company, for taking time out of their jammed schedules to thoughtfully vet the 253 submissions.

These campaigns and activations represent the future of marketing, and we’ll continue to tell the story of the stories as they unfold. —James Cooper

Agency: VMLY&R
Client: Wendy’s
Campaign: “webeefin?”
Award: Best Use of Audio Storytelling

Client: Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
Campaign: “It All Begins With a Song”
Award: Best Use of Long-Form Film

A documentary about Nashville songwriters and a hip-hop EP devoted to fast food have more in common than it would first appear.

Both VMLY&R projects intended to connect with consumers on a visceral level, looking more like brand anthems than traditional calls to action, which is key in getting traction with marketer-backed content in a binge-heavy, overstuffed media environment, says John Godsey, the agency’s chief creative officer.

“It has to be good enough that people seek it out. Otherwise, you’re wasting the money,” Godsey says. “It needs deep entertainment value. Watchable isn’t enough.”

Or listenable, as in the case of the five-track EP that turned the Wendy’s social voice into a recording star. For “webeefin?” the agency used the marketer’s rap battles with its competitors on Twitter as a springboard for a hip-hop release, featuring what Godsey called “sick beats” and legitimate (tongue-in-cheek, self-aware) lyrics.

Not an exercise or a stunt, the “webeefin?” tracks were “extremely competitive,” Godsey says, sprinkled with product messages and well-placed jabs at McDonald’s, Wingstop and other rivals.

The EP caught fire, instantly and organically, with 800 million earned impressions in 10 days, and listeners streamed 76 years’ worth of “webeefin?” across platforms.

“It All Begins With a Song,” for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., generated a different kind of heat, Godsey says—“the emotional variety”—with interviews of dozens of diverse songwriters who toil in relative obscurity while churning out hits for world-famous artists like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Kiss, Little Big Town and Pink.

The feature-length doc uses the Southern city as a character without resorting to “an overt brand play,” Godsey says.

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Suffolk police end patrol shift changes at schools

Suffolk police officials have ended a pilot project to improve student safety by making schools relief points for patrol cars after a violent threat aimed at police involved in the program, though that was not at a school.    

Stuart Cameron, chief of department, told the county legislature’s public safety committee last week the pilot project was terminated Dec. 20. 

 Ending the  project followed an incident in which a suicidal man who previously had been arrested previously and committed for treatment “made direct threats to the sector car operators in [the] Kings Park area that he was going to come back to the relief point and shoot them.”

“We immediately relocated the relief point out of the school and back to the fire department,” said Cameron. He said the individual was committed again for treatment.

“Because we immediately removed the relief point, we do not believe there was any danger to the school,” Cameron said in response to Newsday questions.

Cameron said the man, whom police did not identify, “did have access to weapons, to both long guns and handguns, which were taken away from him.”

After consultations, school officials agreed that “the potential drawbacks are greater than the benefits we would derive in safety,” Cameron said of the program.

Cameron said the police department will “encourage sector car operators to visit the schools on a frequent, but irregular basis.” That is “better for security, rather than permanently relocating relief points to the school,” he said.

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Relief points are used for patrol shift changes.

The pilot program, which began in early October, involved Kings Park, Smithtown East, Hauppauge and Sachem North high schools, all in the Fourth Precinct.

Police officials say the idea arose as a way to speed up response times and bolster deterrence at schools after mass shooting incidents including the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018.

Cameron said the department encountered other issues that made operations more difficult than at local firehouses, which operate around the clock.

In some cases, snowplowing of school parking lots didn’t occur immediately on weekends and holidays, and some lots had gates that could hamper access.

Also, the beginning and end of duty tours often coincided with school openings and closings, Cameron said.

“The last thing we want to do is create circumstances where police have trouble responding to an emergency,” said Ken Bossert, head of the Suffolk School Superintendents Association.

The county legislature’s Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) called the department’s decision “prudent.” But  he said a “middle ground” might involve  using fire houses near schools to help speed response.

“I appreciate that Chief Cameron made the effort,” said Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), who introduced a resolution in September directing police to use schools as relief points when practical. “But maybe in the future, circumstances might change.”

Rick Brand has covered Suffolk life, government and politics for 37 years.

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