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Google backs down after New Zealand murder case gaffe

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Google agreed Friday to change how it publishes New Zealand news after top officials in Wellington lashed the US tech giant for breaching court suppression orders in a high-profile murder case.

Google had refused to tighten publication standards after sending out a news email to public subscribers in December that named an accused killer in violation of a court order.

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Justice Minister Andrew Little this week accused Google of “giving the middle finger” to New Zealand’s court system and the family of British murder victim, Grace Millane.

He described the online behemoth’s one-paragraph response to Wellington’s concerns, which indicated no action was pending, as “contemptible” and “extraordinarily disrespectful”.

Google insisted Friday that it respected New Zealand law, saying there had been a “miscommunication” and it was taking the issue seriously.

“We understand the right to a fair trial and acknowledge that this is a fundamental part of the legal system,” it said in a letter to Little’s office.

As a result, it said the Google Trends feature that led to the accused’s name being published had been suspended in New Zealand.

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“This means that people will no longer receive emails on any trending searches for New Zealand and provides even further assurance against any recurrence,” it said.

Little, who was furious after the initial rebuff, welcomed Google’s “responsible” change of policy.

“Work on how suppression orders will be upheld in the digital age will continue,” he said.

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Millane, 22, was killed in December last year shortly after arriving in Auckland on holiday in a crime that shocked New Zealand.

A 27-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

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The row is the second time the New Zealand government has taken social media giants to task in recent months.

Ardern led global efforts to force them to curb hate speech in the wake of the Christchurch mosques massacre in March, when a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers as they gathered for Friday prayers.

“We would like to build on the constructive spirit that emerged from our work with the New Zealand government on the call for action on Christchurch,” Google said.

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WATCH: Lindsey Graham flees Iraq War vet who politely asks to talk about Trump’s conduct

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday was filmed running away from a war veteran who tried to talk with him about President Donald Trump's impeachable conduct.

In a video posted by progressive veterans organization Common Defense, a man who identifies himself as an Iraq War veteran from Louisiana calmly walks up to Graham and tells the senator that he believes that he's being treated unfairly by the media.

"I believe that you honestly believe in our democracy as I do," the man tells him.

"I do," Graham replies.

"I came here to D.C. because I'm a Marine, I went to Iraq, and I believe, as I believe that you do, that President Trump is not acting in accordance to his oath," the veteran continued. "The oath that you took and I did to defend the Constitution."

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2020 Election

‘The Senate’s in play’: Reeling GOP faces collapse into minority status as Trump drags party down

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According to a report in Rolling Stone, there is a very good chance that the Democrats could take control of the Senate after the 2020 election as the impeachment of Donald Trump casts a cloud over the Republican Party.

The report -- by longtime political observer Tim Dickinson -- states, "the fight to wrest the Senate from Republican control — and oust Mitch McConnell as majority leader — is arguably just as important" as the battle to force Trump from office.

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Nicolle Wallace rains hell on GOP: ‘It’s going to take a dead Russian hooker’ before they wake up to Trump criminality

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MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace this week heaped scorn upon her former party for making their minds up about impeaching President Donald Trump seemingly before hearings even started.

"It's going to take a dead Russian hooker at the bottom of the Hudson before Republicans wake up," she said. "They don't care about anything -- and now they also don't care about foreign interference in domestic elections."

Wallace then said that Republicans should be very careful about embracing a precedent in which it is acceptable for presidents to use their office to pressure foreign countries to investigate their political opponents.

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