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Facebook settles French ‘censorship’ case over vagina painting

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Facebook has agreed to settle a years-long legal battle with a French teacher who sued after the social media giant shuttered his account when he posted a renowned 19th-century painting that features a woman’s genitals, his lawyer said Thursday.

The dispute dates to 2011, when the teacher, Frederic Durand, ran afoul of Facebook’s ban on nude images after posting a link that include a thumbnail image of “L’Origine du Monde” (The Origin of the World), an 1866 oil painting by the realist painter Gustave Courbet.

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The painting is one of many treasures that adorn the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and Durand argued that the US tech giant was infringing on his freedom of expression.

He sought 20,000 euros ($22,100) in damages and initially won his case in a Paris court. A higher court overturned the ruling in March 2018, though it scolded Facebook for not initially explaining why the account was closed.

Durand had been preparing an appeal, but in a statement to AFP, his lawyer Stephane Cottineau said a deal had been reached for Facebook to make an unspecified donation to a French street art association called Le MUR (The WALL).

“This donation ends the legal battle between Mr Durand and Facebook,” Cottineau said, without specifying why the street art association had been chosen, or which side had initiated the settlement talks.

Facebook declined to comment on the settlement when contacted by AFP.

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Already in 2015, it had announced rule changes clarifying that posts depicting nudity in artwork were acceptable.

“L’Origine du Monde”, one of several female nudes completed by Courbet, shocked the stiff bourgeois society of his time.

It is believed to have been commissioned by a Turkish diplomat in Paris who was forced to sell it after racking up huge debts because of his gambling addiction.

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Maddow reports on ‘a tide of major newspaper editorials’ drowning Trump’s impeachment defenses

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On Thursday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow noted the sheer volume of editorial boards from newspapers across America calling for President Donald Trump's impeachment and removal from office.

"The editorials that Steve Cohen introduced into the record there that Doug Collins from Georgia said he wanted to read and Steve Cohen said 'I'd love for you to read them,' they're part of a tide of major newspaper editorials that have come out all of a sudden in the last few days in favor of impeachment," said Maddow. "USA TODAY's editorial board saying, quote, 'Until recently we believed impeachment proceedings would be unhealthy for an already polarized nation, rather than simply leaving Trump's fate up to voters next November. But Trump's egregious transgressions and stonewalling in his thuggish effort to trade American arms for foreign dirt on Joe Biden resembled Richard Nixon. It's precisely the type of misconduct the framers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution."

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‘People died in Ukraine’: Democrat lectures Doug Collins for Trump’s abuse of power costing lives

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During Thursday's impeachment hearing, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) laid bare the human cost of President Donald Trump's decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine to force them to hunt for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden's family — something that ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) spent the previous day denying.

"In my colleague's efforts to defend this president, you want him to be someone he's not. You want him to be someone he is telling you he is not," said Swalwell. "You're trying to defend the call in so many different ways, and he's saying, guys, it was a perfect call. He's not who you want him to be. And let me tell you how selfish his acts were. And ranking member Collins, you can deny this as much as you want. People died in Ukraine at the hands of Russia," said Swalwell. "In Ukraine, since September 2018 when it was voted on by Congress, was counting on our support. One year passed and people died. And you may not want to think about that, it may be hard for you to think about that, but they died when the selfish, selfish president withheld the aid for his own personal gain."

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Trump administration heavily redacted documents concerning their withholding of Ukraine aid

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The Trump administration has refused to disclose how key officials at the Department of Defense and the White House Office of Management and Budget reacted to President Trump’s decision to halt military aid to Ukraine.

On Nov. 25, federal district court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the administration to produce records reflecting what these officials said to one another about the legality and appropriateness of Trump’s order. The Center for Public Integrity sought the information in Freedom of Information Act requests filed in late September.

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