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Michigan University paid firm to monitor Nassar victims’ social media: report

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A public relations firm billed Michigan State University for more than $500,000 for January as it tracked social-media activity surrounding the case of convicted physician Larry Nassar that often included the accounts of his sexual assault victims and their families, USA Today reported on Wednesday.

Michigan State University’s Office of Communication and Brand Strategy previously had been doing the work, which also included collecting and evaluating news articles, and some of its employees continued to do so in January, the newspaper said.

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Officials at the public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, were not immediately available for comment. Michigan State University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nassar, who formerly was a faculty member and physician at an on-campus clinic at Michigan State University and was also a doctor for USA Gymnastics, received two prison sentences of up to 125 years and up to 175 years after hundreds of young women testified about decades of sexual abuse at his hands. Michigan State University has been criticized for its handling of complaints about Nassar stretching back years.

New York-based Weber Shandwick billed the university a total of $517,343 for more than 1,440 hours of work, according to documents that the newspaper said it obtained through a public records request. The firm’s billing included work done by 18 employees whose rates ranged from $200 to $600 per hour, the newspaper reported.

In addition to tracking the social media activity of Nassar’s victims and family, the firm tracked those of journalists, celebrities and politicians, the newspaper reported.

John Manly, a lawyer who represents more than 120 women who filed civil suits against Nassar and the university, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Leslie Adler


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Matt Gaetz forgot which network he was on: Surprised CNN anchor said ‘I’ve never been called Sean Hannity’

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Rep. Matt Gaetz seemed to confuse cable news networks during a Thursday appearance

Gaetz was interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who aggressively challenged Gaetz on the facts as the Florida Republican attempted to defend President Donald Trump.

Despite the fact Cuomo's interview was nothing like the puff segments Gaetz is used to on Fox, the congressman seemed confused by the end.

"Congressman, you are always welcome, wherever I am, at nine or eleven, whenever," Cuomo said.

"Thanks Sean," Gaetz replied.

"Did you just call me Sean?" Cuomo asked. "Did you just call me Sean?"

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California lawmaker who chaired Republican Assembly caucus leaving GOP — to become an independent: report

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On Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Assemblyman Chad Mayes, the former Assembly Minority Leader, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as No Party Preference.

"Instead of focusing on solutions for the big problems that we've got, we focused on winning elections," said Mayes in his announcement. "For me, I'm at the point in my life where I'm done with gamesmanship."

Mayes, a controversial figure who was implicated in an affair with a fellow public official, represents Yucca Valley. He is the second Republican Assemblyman this year to leave the party, after Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who Maienschein of San Diego.

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‘Quantum physics generator’ incident in Ohio results in evacuation — hazmat found no radiation

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Authorities in Columbus, Ohio evacuated dozens of homes after a man called 911 to report being burned by a

"Firefighters say nothing threatening was found in a northwest Columbus garage," WCMH-TV reported. "According to firefighters, a man called and reported that he received ‘RF burns’ while building some sort of ‘quantum physics generator’ in a garage. The man used words like ‘particle accelerator,’ ‘alpha rays,’ and ‘radiation’ while describing how he was burned."

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