Senators preparing bill to deal with online political advertising

Amid growing concern over Facebook’s sale of political ads to Russians, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner have formally called for new legislation to enhance the transparency of online political advertisements, CNN has learned.

Klobuchar and Warner sent a letter to their colleagues on Thursday inviting them to co-sponsor legislation that would among other things require all major digital platforms to keep a public record of groups or individuals that make ad buys of more than $10,000.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, was sent out shortly after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company would share the ads it inadvertently sold to Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 election with the House and Senate intelligence committees, and would make a number of changes to its platform related to political ads, including adding disclosures to such advertising.

A source familiar with the issue told CNN that Facebook is planning to deliver the information concerning the 3,000 ads “in a matter of days.”

The Senators said the Federal Election Commission had failed to take sufficient action to address online political advertisements and that current law did not adequately address advertising on platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter.

While FEC and Federal Communications Commission rules create what Klobuchar and Warner termed “a robust disclaimer and public access regime” on advertising which airs on television and radio, the senators noted that Facebook “faces far fewer obligations.”

Klobuchar and Warner say their legislation would address that. Specifically, they said in their letter, it “would require digital platforms with 1,000,000 or more users to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $10,000 aggregate dollars for online political advertisements.”

“The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement… a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contract information of the purchaser,” the letter stated.

“Additionally, this legislation would require digital platforms, in addition to broadcast, cable and satellite providers, to make reasonable efforts to ensure that electioneering communications are not purchased by a foreign national, directly or indirectly,” the letter said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Senator Warner’s last name.

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Former NFL star training to be an FBI agent

As one of the best cornerbacks in the history of the Chicago Bears, former NFL star Charles “Peanut” Tillman, spent many years doing agility drills, tackling training and footwork practice. Now, the two-time Pro Bowl player is working on firearms training, interrogation skills and investigative techniques.

Tillman is training to become an FBI agent, according to two law enforcement sources.

Tillman spent 12 seasons with the Bears and finished out his NFL career helping the Carolina Panthers make it to Super Bowl 50 last year. Now, he will have his mettle tested during the FBI’s 20-week training program in Quantico, Virginia.

His FBI training was first reported by The Chicago Tribune. Tillman declined to respond to CNN’s request for comment.

At 36 years old, Tillman is nearing the end of the fourth quarter when it comes to the FBI’s age limit for trainees. New special agents must be appointed before their 37th birthday. Tillman turns 37 in February.

The fact Tillman earned a degree in criminal justice at Louisiana-Lafayette before he was drafted by the Bears in 2003 will likely be helpful to him at the FBI Training Academy.

“Agent trainees study a broad range of subjects that grounds them in the fundamentals of law, ethics, behavioral science, investigative and intelligence techniques, interrogation and forensic science,” according to the agency’s website. “Students learn how to manage and run counterterrorism, counterintelligence, weapons of mass destruction, cyber and criminal investigations.”

The popular athlete retired from the NFL last year and is known also for his philanthropy. He will spend more than 800 hours training in four major concentrations: academics, case exercises, firearms training and operational skills.

“Each special agent must have the knowledge, skills, commitment, and fortitude to investigate terrorists, spies, and a raft of dangerous criminals — all while wielding their law enforcement powers with compassion for those they encounter and respect for the US Constitution and the laws they enforce,” according to the FBI’s website.

Tillman, who earned star-athlete status with his unique talent for punching the football out of his opponent’s clutches — known as the “Peanut Punch” — will soon earn a gold FBI badge, if he successfully makes it through the rigorous training academy.

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Former NFL star training to be an FBI agent

As one of the best cornerbacks in the history of the Chicago Bears, former NFL star Charles “Peanut” Tillman, spent many years doing agility drills, tackling training and footwork practice. Now, the two-time Pro Bowl player is working on firearms training, interrogation skills and investigative techniques.

Tillman is training to become an FBI agent, according to two law enforcement sources.

Tillman spent 12 seasons with the Bears and finished out his NFL career helping the Carolina Panthers make it to Super Bowl 50 last year. Now, he will have his mettle tested during the FBI’s 20-week training program in Quantico, Virginia.

His FBI training was first reported by The Chicago Tribune. Tillman declined to respond to CNN’s request for comment.

At 36 years old, Tillman is nearing the end of the fourth quarter when it comes to the FBI’s age limit for trainees. New special agents must be appointed before their 37th birthday. Tillman turns 37 in February.

The fact Tillman earned a degree in criminal justice at Louisiana-Lafayette before he was drafted by the Bears in 2003 will likely be helpful to him at the FBI Training Academy.

“Agent trainees study a broad range of subjects that grounds them in the fundamentals of law, ethics, behavioral science, investigative and intelligence techniques, interrogation and forensic science,” according to the agency’s website. “Students learn how to manage and run counterterrorism, counterintelligence, weapons of mass destruction, cyber and criminal investigations.”

The popular athlete retired from the NFL last year and is known also for his philanthropy. He will spend more than 800 hours training in four major concentrations: academics, case exercises, firearms training and operational skills.

“Each special agent must have the knowledge, skills, commitment, and fortitude to investigate terrorists, spies, and a raft of dangerous criminals — all while wielding their law enforcement powers with compassion for those they encounter and respect for the US Constitution and the laws they enforce,” according to the FBI’s website.

Tillman, who earned star-athlete status with his unique talent for punching the football out of his opponent’s clutches — known as the “Peanut Punch” — will soon earn a gold FBI badge, if he successfully makes it through the rigorous training academy.

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Wells Fargo CEO faces a grilling from Elizabeth Warren

Get ready for Elizabeth Warren versus Wells Fargo, Part II.

The Senate Banking Committee revealed plans on Thursday to hold a new hearing on the Wells Fargo scandals on October 3.

CEO Tim Sloan, who took over during the bank’s fake-account fiasco, is likely to be grilled by Warren, a vocal critic of Wells Fargo, and her colleagues on the committee.

The Republican-controlled banking committee came under pressure to hold another hearing after the disclosure of a string of additional problems at America’s second-largest bank.

The first hearing, held last September, was triggered by Wells Fargo’s firing of 5,300 workers for creating 2 million fake accounts. Warren unleashed a verbal takedown of former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf that instantly went viral.

Since then, Wells Fargo has run into more trouble. The bank has uncovered as many as 1.4 million more fake accounts by digging deeper into its broken culture. Wells Fargo has also admitted to charging thousands of customers for car insurance they didn’t need. At least some had their vehicles wrongfully repossessed.

That’s not all. Wells Fargo has recently been accused of ripping off mom-and-pop businesses on credit card fees. Some former employees allege Wells Fargo fired them in retaliation for calling the bank’s ethics hotline.

Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has held up the scandals as evidence that regulators need to do more to hold the bank — and all big banks — accountable. She has begged Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen to remove much of Wells Fargo’s board, alleging these directors were asleep at the wheel during the fake-account disaster.

Yellen on Wednesday reiterated that Wells Fargo’s behavior was “egregious and unacceptable.” She said the Fed is “working very hard” to understand what went wrong and decide whether more punishments are warranted. (Regulators outside the Fed fined Wells Fargo $185 million last September for the fake-account scandal.)

Wells Fargo hopes to ease the outrage from lawmakers by arguing it’s taken meaningful action to fix its internal problems. “We welcome the opportunity to further update the Committee about the progress Wells Fargo has made,” the bank said in a statement.

Wells Fargo has in fact done a lot since last fall. Not only was Sloan put in charge, but former Fed official Betsy Duke has been tapped to take over as chairman of the board on January 1. Wells Fargo overhauled the management of its retail bank and clawed back more than $180 million from senior execs. The bank has also revamped the unrealistic sales goals that fueled the unauthorized opening of bank and credit card accounts.

Isaac Boltansky, policy analyst at investment firm Compass Point Research, said Sloan should benefit because he wasn’t at the helm during the fake-account scandal. He predicted Sloan will be far better prepared for his grilling than Stumpf was last fall.

“That hearing was a train wreck,” Boltansky said.

Critics argue the latest controversies show Wells Fargo hasn’t done enough. The Wells Fargo scandals also undercut efforts by President Trump and Republicans to rip up rules they claim are hindering big banks.

Wells Fargo still faces a slew of investigations, including from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

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One major reason Graham-Cassidy health bill could pass

When it comes to the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, there is one thing Republicans agree on right now: It’s their last shot to repeal and replace Obamacare.

That may be all the motivation they need to pass it.

In recent days, an intense operation to sell the bill to few key holdouts has gotten underway. But most of those conversations are happening under the radar.

On Wednesday, the bill’s sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, briefed Alaska Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. Arizona Sen. John McCain, another holdout, is also under pressure to get to “yes,” with Graham, a close friend, taking the lead on trying to convince him.

One White House official stressed that leaning on Graham wasn’t a bad thing, adding: “I wouldn’t say that’s all we’re relying on. Lindsey has good relationships that we can leverage.”

By and large, however, many Republicans seem to be shrugging “yes” to Graham-Cassidy, a health care bill that was released a week ago and would repeal the individual and employer mandates and turn the federal funding for Medicaid expansion and the subsidies into a block grant program.

And in large part, it’s because time is running out. According to the chamber’s parliamentarian, senators only have until the end of the month to pass a bill with just 51 votes under the procedure known as reconciliation, and the Senate’s last-ditch exercise isn’t all that different than the one that ultimately resulted in a health care bill being passed in the House.

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley told local reporters, according to The Des Moines Register. “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

So far, the full-fledged public airing of grievances that once dominated the Senate process isn’t nearly as visible. Conservatives and moderates aren’t openly sparring — although deeply divided over cuts to Medicaid, the size of insurance subsidies and whether or not to keep Obamacare taxes. Some notable Republicans are even papering over concerns, crossing red lines they once set for themselves in the name of getting something — anything — across the finish line.

If they have concerns, they are bringing them to leadership quietly. Vice President Mike Pence is taking the lead on affirming some of the softer “yes” votes, a senior adviser said. And, President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have any concerns about the policy of Graham-Cassidy as long as it gets him a legislative win.

“I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!” he tweeted Wednesday morning.

The race to the finish line, however, gives members both the distinct advantage and danger of not fully knowing how the bill will affect one-sixth of the economy. If they do vote next week, senators are expected to bring Graham-Cassidy to the floor without having a full Congressional Budget Office assessment that estimates how many Americans would lose coverage, something many dismiss now as unnecessary.

“We have more than enough information,” Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin and a co-sponsor of Graham-Cassidy, said about not having a CBO score. “We’ve been highly disappointed in how CBO has really conducted themselves throughout this health care process.”

One big advantage of Graham-Cassidy is that the bill outsources many of the toughest decisions about health care — what to prioritize, how to regulate the marketplace and cover health care for the poor — to the states. Graham-Cassidy allows individual senators to imagine health care policy in their own image even if outside groups have warned a number of states — some even led by Republicans — would lose federal dollars if the bill passes.

The rapid pace of the bill, however, has left the party vulnerable to criticism even among its own members.

McCain has said the expedited process is deeply disturbing. And Republicans — at times — have had a tough time managing the public perception about a bill they haven’t had time to craft a message on.

On Tuesday night, Jimmy Kimmel, a late-night comedian, called Cassidy a liar on national television.

And ask almost any senator how the bill affects their state, and many admit they are still grappling with complex data.

“Digging, digging, digging,” Sullivan said Tuesday afternoon.

Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid, has been tasked primarily with getting members answers when they need them. But outside analysis from groups like Avalere that show states like Alaska, Arizona and Ohio losing money under Graham-Cassidy aren’t making it easier for members to vote “yes.”

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the Republican leadership and a doctor, also made headlines after telling NBC’s Katy Tur that “there shouldn’t be” a requirement for insurers to cover essential health benefits.

Essential health benefits include things like maternity care, substance abuse treatment, hospitalization and prescriptions and became popular under Obamacare.

“There are not protections for essential health benefits in this bill,” MSNBC host Katy Tur began in an interview earlier this week.

“And there shouldn’t be,” Barrasso said, explaining that they increased prices of insurance.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans seem to be most concerned with getting a vote at the moment. The rest they can understand later. Former hill staffers and lobbyists warn that’s a dangerous game, however.

“Nobody writes perfect legislation,” one lobbyist who used to work on the Hill told CNN. “And nobody can perfect legislation in two weeks, let alone legislation as consequential as this.”

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Bill Gates sorry about control-alt-delete

Bill Gates is sorry that he made it so annoying to log in to your computer.

The billionaire Microsoft co-founder admitted Wednesday that the Control-Alt-Delete function used to start up Windows computers is an awkward maneuver.

“If I could make one small edit, I’d make that a single key,” Gates said Wednesday on a panel at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City.

It’s a confession Gates has made before. In 2013, he blamed IBM for the issue.

“We could have had a single button. But the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t want to give us our single button,” Gates said at a Harvard University event at the time.

Users can press a single key to log in — not three — on Apple’s Mac computers.

The tech luminary, along with his wife, is the co-chair of the world’s largest private charitable foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The couple teamed up with dignitaries like President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New York on Wednesday to promote their new Goalkeepers report, which tracks progress on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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