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Company working with Oskaloosa, Knoxville school districts is hacked

An online company hired by the Oskaloosa and Knoxville school districts has had a security breach that may have involved several students.  Timberline provides Medicaid billing and information for over 190 Iowa school districts.  Timberline has informed the Oskaloosa and Knoxville districts that someone got into their system, encrypted certain files and removed other information.  Timberline says the stolen files have the names of current and former students, their birthdates and Medicaid billing information. The stolen files do not include social security numbers, credit card numbers or financial information.

Testimony ends in Kelsie Thomas retrial

Tuesday (10/20) was the final day of testimony in Kelsie Thomas’ retrial for first degree murder.  The Ottumwa woman is accused of killing her 5-year-old daughter Cloe Chandler in July 2018.  Thomas is facing trial again after her first trial in March ended with a hung jury on a first degree murder charge.  On Tuesday, Thomas’ defense team called just one witness—a forensic pathologist who claimed Chandler’s death was an accident.  Last week, the medical examiner who performed Chandler’s autopsy said the girl died from manual strangulation.  Both sides now have until November 3 to turn in written closing arguments.  Judge Lucy Gamon will then decide Thomas’ fate, as Thomas asked for a bench trial for her retrial.

Justice Dept. files landmark antitrust case against Google

By MICHAEL BALSAMO and MARCY GORDON

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Google for antitrust violations, alleging that it abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers.

The lawsuit marks the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. It could be an opening salvo ahead of other major government antitrust actions, given ongoing investigations of major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. “It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”

Antitrust cases in the technology industry have to move quickly, he said. Otherwise “we could lose the next wave of innovation.”

Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google, whose corporate parent Alphabet Inc. has a market value just over $1 trillion, of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and boost its profits. Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google’s practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren’t severe enough and that structural changes are needed for Google to change its conduct.

The Justice Department isn’t seeking specific changes in Google’s structure or other remedies at this point, but isn’t ruling out seeking additional relief, officials said.

Google responded immediately via tweet: “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”

The case was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. It alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers. Eleven states, all with Republican attorneys general, joined the federal government in the lawsuit.

But several other states demurred. The attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah released a statement Monday saying they have not concluded their investigation into Google and would want to consolidate their case with the DOJ’s if they decided to file. “It’s a bipartisan statement,” said spokesman Fabien Levy of the New York State attorney general’s office. “There’s things that still need to be fleshed out, basically,”

President Donald Trump’s administration has long had Google in its sights. One of Trump’s top economic advisers said two years ago that the White House was considering whether Google searches should be subject to government regulation. Trump has often criticized Google, recycling unfounded claims by conservatives that the search giant is biased against conservatives and suppresses their viewpoints, interferes with U.S. elections and prefers working with the Chinese military over the Pentagon.

Rosen told reporters that allegations of anti-conservative bias are “a totally separate set of concerns” from the issue of competition.

Google controls about 90% of global web searches. The company has been bracing for the government’s action and is expected to fiercely oppose any attempt to force it to spin off its services into separate businesses.

The company, based in Mountain View, California, has long denied the claims of unfair competition. Google argues that although its businesses are large, they are useful and beneficial to consumers. It maintains that its services face ample competition and have unleashed innovations that help people manage their lives.

Most of Google’s services are offered for free in exchange for personal information that helps it sell its ads. Google insists that it holds no special power forcing people to use its free services or preventing them from going elsewhere.

A recent report from a House Judiciary subcommittee, following a year-long investigation into Big Tech’s market dominance, concluded that Google has monopoly power in the market for search. It said the company established its position in several markets through acquisition, snapping up successful technologies that other businesses had developed — buying an estimated 260 companies in 20 years.

The Democratic congressman who led that investigation called Tuesday’s action “long overdue” but said it’s important for the Justice Department to look beyond Google’s search business.

“It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anticompetitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants,” Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement.

The DOJ “filed the strongest suit they have,” said Columbia Law professor Tim Wu, who called it almost a carbon copy of the government’s 1998 lawsuit against Microsoft. He said via email that, for that reason, the DOJ has a decent chance of winning. “However, the likely remedies — i.e., knock it off, no more making Google the default — are not particularly likely to transform the broader tech ecosystem.”

Other advocates, however, said the Justice Department’s timing — it’s only two weeks to Election Day — smacked of politics. The government’s “narrow focus and alienation of the bipartisan state attorneys general is evidence of an unserious approach driven by politics and is likely to result in nothing more than a choreographed slap on the wrist for Google,” Alex Harman, a competition policy advocate at Public Citizen, said in a statement.

The argument for reining in Google has gathered force as the company stretched far beyond its 1998 roots as a search engine governed by the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” It’s since grown into a diversified goliath with online tentacles that scoop up personal data from billions of people via services ranging from search, video and maps to smartphone software. That data helps feed the advertising machine that has turned Google into a behemoth.

The company owns the leading web browser in Chrome, the world’s largest smartphone operating system in Android, the top video site in YouTube and the most popular digital mapping system. Some critics have singled out YouTube and Android as among Google businesses that should be considered for divestiture.

With only two weeks to Election Day, the Trump Justice Department is taking bold legal action against Google on an issue of rare bipartisan agreement. Republicans and Democrats have accelerated their criticism of Big Tech in recent months, although sometimes for different reasons. It’s unclear what the status of the government’s suit against Google would be if a Joe Biden administration were to take over next year.

The Justice Department sought support for its suit from states across the country that share concerns about Google’s conduct. A bipartisan coalition of 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced a year ago they were investigating Google’s business practices, citing “potential monopolistic behavior.”

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas joined the Justice Department lawsuit.

___

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report from San Ramon, California.

___

Follow Balsamo and Gordon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and https://twitter.com/mgordonap.

Chamber Seeks Award Nominations

Would you like to nominate a business or individual who has made a big difference in Mahaska County in the past year? Mahaska Chamber & Development Group will again be presenting several civic awards at their annual meeting. This meeting with take place virtually in January.  You are urged to submit nominations for these awards. The categories are as follows:
Retail Business and Service Business of the Year (2 awards) –The most outstanding retail or service business in the Mahaska community during this past fiscal year must be in business for minimum of two years, demonstrate success,  with evidence of commitment and contribution to the community.
Industry of the Year – The most outstanding industry in the Mahaska community during the year will have a stable employment history, will have been in business for minimum of two years, showing evidence of commitment and contribution to the community and a commitment to sound management practices.
Business Person of the Year – This individual will have demonstrated those qualities which have distinguished him/her in business:  proven commitment and contribution to the community, a commitment to ethical business practices, recognized within their profession, a Mahaska County resident, a history of success in their business.
Citizen of the Year – This individual will have demonstrated outstanding involvement in and support of his/her community over an extended period of time.
Community Improvement Award – This commercial or industrial property will have made improvements which enhance the appearance and /or economic vitality of the Mahaska community through new development or through the redevelopment of an existing property.
Educator of the Year – This individual from a Mahaska County school will display a true passion and devotion to the betterment of students.
 Student of the Year-This individual will be a graduating senior or college student from a school in Mahaska County who is well-rounded and displays exemplary leadership and service for the betterment of Mahaska County.
Up & Comer – This young individual will be recognized for their dedicated commitment, passion and high standard of excellence while leading the charge in Mahaska County.
Chuck Russel Award—This person or project will be recognized for their dedicated commitment in preserving the rich heritage and history of Oskaloosa and Mahaska County.
To make any nominations or if you have an innovative idea for a “special award” for exceptional achievement in a category not mentioned, you are encouraged to phone 641-672-2591 or email dbruxvoort@mahaskachamber.org with “Mahaska Chamber Award” in the subject line to present the suggestion to the Chamber.
Nominations must be received by Friday, November 6.

Grassley says ‘going bigger’ on pandemic relief creates problems

BY 

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says the $300 billion coronavirus relief package Senate Republicans plan to vote on this week could be a starting point for negotiations.

“Since we can agree on these items that are not part of a total package, but things that have broad bipartisan support, we feel that we ought to move ahead with them in the Senate,” Grassley says.

President Trump’s treasury secretary unveiled a $1.8 trillion pandemic relief package on October 10. That’s six times larger than the Senate GOP bill. Grassley says “going bigger and bigger” creates problems.

“I wouldn’t want to say what I would agree to or not agree to,” Grassley says. “…The total cost of it might be an issue, but you never get everything you want, so I wouldn’t want to say one way or the other until we study it in detail.”

Grassley says congress should vote now on a smaller bill than includes items of agreement rather than wait for negotiations between House Democrats and the White House to come up with a larger pandemic relief package.

Parts of the state lagging behind in harvest

BY 

The soybean harvest is entering the last lap — while the corn harvest is getting closer to being done after a week of good weather.

The U.S.D.A. report shows just ten percent of the soybeans remain to be plucked from the fields. That is more than three weeks ahead of last year and two weeks ahead of the five-year average. The northwest, north-central, and west-central areas have less than five percent of beans still in the field — while farmers in the southern one-third of the state have at least 20% remaining to be harvested.

The corn harvest hit the 65% complete mark. That’s more than three weeks ahead of last year and just more than two weeks ahead of average. There is still approximately two-thirds of the corn waiting to be picked in the south-central part of the state — while the rest of the state has at least half of their crop in the bin.

Trump, Biden go on offense in states they’re trying to flip

By BRIAN SLODYSKO, JILL COLVIN and WILL WEISSERT

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden went on offense over the weekend as both campaigned in states they are trying to flip during the Nov. 3 election, just over two weeks away.

Trump began his Sunday in Nevada, making a rare visit to church before a fundraiser and an evening rally in Carson City. Once considered a battleground, Nevada has not swung for a Republican presidential contender since 2004.

The rally drew thousands of supporters who sat elbow to elbow, cheering Trump and booing Biden and the press. The vast majority wore no masks to guard against the coronavirus, though cases in the state are on the rise, with more than 1,000 new infections reported Saturday. The Republican president, as he often does, warned that a Biden election would lead to further lockdowns and appeared to mock Biden for saying he would listen to scientists.

“He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression,” Trump said.

Biden, a practicing Catholic, attended Mass in Delaware before campaigning in North Carolina, where a Democrat has not won in a presidential race since Barack Obama in 2008.

Both candidates are trying to make inroads in states that could help secure a path to victory, but the dynamics of the race are remarkably stable. Biden enjoys a significant advantage in national polls, while carrying a smaller edge in battleground surveys.

Earlier in the day, Trump sat in the front row at the nondenominational International Church of Las Vegas as the senior associate pastor, Denise Goulet, said God told her early that morning that the president would secure a second term.

“At 4:30, the Lord said to me, ‘I am going to give your president a second win,’” she said, telling Trump, “you will be the president again.”

Trump spoke briefly, saying “I love going to churches” and that it was “a great honor” to attend the service. He dropped a wad of $20 bills in the collection plate before leaving.

The message was far different in both style and substance later in the day, when Biden attended a virtual discussion with African American faith leaders from around the country.

Biden held up a rosary, which he said he carries in his pocket every day, and described it as “what the Irish call a prisoner’s rosary” since it was small enough to be smuggled into prisons.

“I happen to be a Roman Catholic,” Biden said. “I don’t pray for God to protect me. I pray to God to give me strength to see what other people are dealing with.”

Earlier, at a drive-in rally in Durham, North Carolina, Biden focused heavily on promoting criminal justice changes to combat institutional racism and promised to help build wealth in the Black community.

He noted that Trump had said at one of his rallies that the country had turned the corner on the pandemic.

“As my grandfather would say, this guy’s gone around the bend if he thinks we’ve turned the corner. Turning the corner? Things are getting worse,” Biden said.

In addition to public polling that indicates Biden has an edge, the former vice president enjoys another considerable advantage over Trump: money.

Trump raked in $12 million during a fundraiser Sunday afternoon at the Newport Beach home of top GOP donor and tech mogul Palmer Luckey, which also featured a performance by the Beach Boys.

But over the past four months, Biden has raised over $1 billion, a massive amount of money that has eclipsed Trump’s once-overwhelming cash advantage.

That’s become apparent in advertising, where Biden and his Democratic allies are on pace to spend twice as much as Trump and the Republicans in the closing days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

Though Trump has pulled back from advertising in Midwestern states that secured his 2016 win, he’s invested heavily elsewhere, including North Carolina, where he is on pace to slightly outspend Biden in the days ahead.

In Nevada, which Trump came close to winning in 2016, Democrats are set to outspend Trump in the closing days by a more than 3-to-1 ratio.

Trump’s visit to the state is part of an aggressive schedule of campaign events, where he has leaned heavily into fear tactics.

Trump’s Carson City rally was held at an airport with a golden scrub brush-covered hill providing a dramatic backdrop. He relived fond moments from his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, revisited his long-running feud with NFL players and went on an extended rant about water management policy, which he blamed for people having to “flush their toilet 15 times.”

He also added to his litany of hyperbolic attacks against Biden, claiming that, if Biden were elected, he would mandate new lockdown measures that would make Carson City “a ghost town” and “the Christmas season will be cancelled.”

As he surveyed his crowd, Trump expressed disbelief that he could possibly be tied (in fact losing, according to public polls) to Biden in the state.

“How the hell can we be tied?” he asked. “What’s going on? … We get these massive crowds. He gets nobody…. It doesn’t make sense!” Biden has held very small and virtual events in recent months because of the ongoing pandemic.

Biden started his day with Mass in Delaware at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine, as he does nearly every week. He and his wife, Jill, entered wearing dark-colored face masks. She carried a bunch of flowers that including pink roses.

The church is a few minutes’ drive from Biden’s home. Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, is buried in the cemetery on its grounds. Joe and Jill Biden visited the grave after the service.

Trump attends church far less often but has drawn strong support from white Evangelical leaders and frequently hosts groups of pastors at the White House. Trump often goes to the Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea near Mar-a-Lago in Florida for major holidays, including Easter, and he attended a Christmas Eve service last year at Family Church in West Palm Beach before the onset of the pandemic.

If elected, Biden would be only the second Roman Catholic president in U.S. history and first since John F. Kennedy. The former vice president speaks frequently about his faith and its importance in his life.

___ Slodysko reported from Washington and Weissert from Durham, North Carolina. Associated Press Writer Elana Schor in Washington contributed to this report.

U of I won’t give in to demand from former football players

The University of Iowa said it would not pay a demand from eight Black former football players for $20 million in compensation for alleged racial discrimination they faced playing for the Hawkeyes. The university general counsel’s office released its response Sunday (10/18) to a 21-page certified letter dated Oct. 5 from civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is representing the players. The players also called for the firings of head football coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive line coach Brian Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta. The university says it has taken steps to improve the environment for Black athletes.

Coronavirus update

There was a big jump in coronavirus cases in Mahaska County over the weekend.  The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 30 new cases in Mahaska County from Saturday (10/17) and Sunday (10/18).  That brings the number of Mahaska County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 to 601, with 22 deaths.  In all, another 2510 new coronavirus cases were reported in Iowa over the weekend for a pandemic total of 107,062.  Besides the 30 new Covid-19 cases in Mahaska County, 21 new cases were reported in Jasper County, 19 in Marion County, 14 in Poweshiek County, ten each in Monroe and Wapello Counties and one new case in Keokuk County.

There were also seven deaths from coronavirus in Iowa over the weekend, bringing the statewide total to 1528.  None of those deaths were in the No Coast Network listening area.

Oskaloosa Police investigate shooting

Oskaloosa Police are investigating a shooting that injured a juvenile.  Police were called to a residence in the 1900 block of 17th Avenue East around 8:30 last Thursday night (10/15) about a possible shooting.  When Police arrived, they found a juvenile boy with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his leg.  The juvenile was treated at Mahaska Health and released.  At the crime scene, Police also found a handgun that had been recently fired.  The investigation continues.

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