Category Archives: News

Facebook Bans Suspicious Accounts

Following the banning of 32 accounts in late July with suspected connections to Russia, Facebook removed an additional 652 accounts, groups and pages that it identified as exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That behavior included the sharing of political material.

The banned accounts were linked not only to Russia, but what was a surprise, also to Iran.
The 32 accounts banned in July were generally engaged in efforts to influence the up and coming November mid-term elections. The 632 additional fake accounts were focused more on influencing US foreign policy, and regional politics in the Middle East.

Facebook is not the only internet site where foreign entities go to influence the US voting public. Twitter suspended 284 accounts for “coordinated manipulation,” with many of those accounts sourced to Iran. Microsoft announced they saw a new Russian practice to copy conservative US websites, perhaps as a component of a spy campaign.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

“You’re going to see people try to abuse the services in every way possible … including now nation states,” he said. He described the deception campaigns as “sophisticated and well-funded efforts that aren’t going to stop.”

Bikers Boycott Harley, But Buy Haitian T-shirts

Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

In a bit of an ironic twist smothered in hypocrisy, it turns out Bikers for Trump leader Chris Cox chose to have pro-Trump T-shirts made in Haiti and not in the United States, to save money, despite Cox’s announcement that he will be boycotting Harley-Davidson for sending production overseas.

Bikers for Trump is a vocal group extending support for President Trump and has met the president on many occasions. The last time they met was this past Sunday, the same day that Trump tweeted his agreement with a boycott of Harley-Davidson, a US-based manufacturer of motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson announced that it was moving some of its production of motorcycles abroad for its European market, to avoid tariffs that would force the company to charge an additional $2,200 for each bike it sold to its European customers. The EU tariffs which the company seeks to avoid are a result of the trade war started by President Trump.

Yes, despite the declaration of a boycott against Harley-Davidson, Cox decided to purchase pro-Trump T-shirts in Haiti to save some money.

“If I get a T-shirt made in the USA, it’s going to cost about $8 more,” Cox told the New York Times.

“I looked far and wide to try to get a shirt made in America, it’s just they get you, they gouge you,” he said while selling the T-shirts from his RV for $20 each.

One Bikers for Trump member, Gary Rathbun, told the Times, “I’m riding my last Harley. It was American made, and that’s why we stood behind them.”

It was unclear whether Rathbun bought a pro-Trump T-shirt made in Haiti. Or if he would even notice a problem with such a purchase.

Lupin Expecting Approval to Enter US Generic Market

Mumbai-based Lupin Pharmaceuticals is expecting approval from US health regulators to launch about 30 generic drugs into the US market, the world’s largest for pharmaceuticals. At the moment the company has 162 abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) which are waiting for approval from the USFDA, (United States Food and Drug Administration.)

The company has its sights set on bringing complex generic drugs and biosimilars to the US market, in addition to continuing to focus on several exclusive and semi-exclusive products in the injectable and oral niche to keep its place as the fourth largest generics company in the market by prescriptions sold.

“We launched 23 products in the US last fiscal (2017-18), with 10 in the last quarter (January-March) alone. We expect to launch 25-30 products in US this year,” Lupin Managing Director Nilesh Gupta.

“Our efforts to maintain leadership position include bringing complex generics and biosimilars to market while continuing our focus on exclusive and semi-exclusive products in the oral and injectable space,” Gupta said.

During the fiscal year 2018 the company is hoping to launch about 30 specific products in to the US market.

American Released from Venezuelan Jail After Two Years

Nicolás Maduro Moros, interim President of The Boliviarian Republic of Venezuela following the death of Hugo Chávez. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joshua Holt, an American citizen who had been held in a Venezuelan jail for the past two years, was freed last week as a result of high-level diplomatic talks. His wife Thamara Caleno, was also released.

“Overwhelmed with gratitude,” Holt was welcomed in Washington, DC by his parents, Laurie and Jason Holt, and a few hours later by President Donald Trump.

“Those two years, they were a very, very, very difficult two years,” said an emotional Holt, sitting beside Trump in the Oval Office. “Not really the great vacation that I was looking for. … I’m just so grateful for what you guys have done.”

Holt, a Utah citizen, went to Venezuela in 2016 to marry Caleno, a woman he had met online but never in person. Soon after arriving in Venezuela and marrying Caleno he was arrested and labeled by the Venezuelan government as the “CIA’s top spy in Latin America.
Holt’s release was orchestrated by Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, who met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in what was a surprise meeting.

The couple was arrested on June 30, 2016 in a raid on Caleno’s family’s apartment. They were accused of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades and being linked to other unspecified attempts by the US to weaken Maduro’s rule.

Upon his release the Holt family released the following statement:

“We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish. We ask that you allow us to meet with our son and his wife before giving any interviews and statements. We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle.”

Defunct Cambridge Analytica Under Investigation by Justice and CIA

The New York Times is reporting that the FBI and the US Justice Department are investigating the out-of-business political data company Cambridge Analytica. The company was recently implicated in a scandal over how it used the information it mined from Facebook users, bringing into question any ties it may have had with Russian agents engaged in meddling in the US elections.

Prosecutors from the US government have been questioning former employees and banks associated with Cambridge Analytica, said the Times, citing an American official and others familiar with the investigation.

The company already announced its intention to close by the end of this month since it lost many clients and faced growing legal fees as a result of reports that the company had taken personal data about millions of Facebook users without their knowledge, as far back as 2014.

The company is being accused of using the data of about 87 million Facebook users improperly. Cambridge Analytica was hired by the now President Trump’s 2016 election campaign. As a result several investigation were launched in the US and also in Europe.