Sessions open to probe of social media giants, sources say

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is exploring a potential investigation of social media companies and will be briefed on Sept. 25 by Republican state attorneys general who are already examining the companies’ practices, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The meeting — which will include a representative of the Justice Department’s antitrust division — is intended to help Sessions decide if there’s a federal case to be made against companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. for violating consumer or antitrust laws, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing the matter because of its sensitivity.

Sessions hasn’t made up his mind about whether to proceed, the people said. At least one of the attorneys general participating in the meeting has indicated he seeks to break up the companies.

— Bloomberg News

Bill Cosby, wife demand judge’s recusal from sentencing over alleged ‘bias’

Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, want the Pennsylvania judge who oversaw his retrial and sex assault conviction in April off the case before his sentencing in two weeks.

In a blistering statement Tuesday, Camille Cosby said Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill is too biased to sentence her husband Sept. 24 due to his alleged bad blood with former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, who declined to prosecute Cosby back in 2006.

“Bill Cosby was not afforded an impartial judge and he did not receive a fair trial. Instead, my husband was forced to go to trial before a judge, Steven T. O’Neill, who had a bitter, longstanding feud with one of the key witnesses in the case, Bruce Castor,” Camille Cosby said in her statement.

Before Cosby’s first trial in 2016, which ended in deadlock, O’Neill ruled the jurors would not hear about the alleged non-prosecution agreement Castor struck with Cosby’s lawyers.

Camille Cosby argued in her statement that O’Neill “refused to believe” Castor’s testimony about the agreement because he was locked in a “personal feud” with Mr. Castor dating back to 1999, when they ran against each other for the DA position.

O’Neill previously declined to recuse himself in the case.

— New York Daily News

Flu: Pediatrics group OKs nasal spray for first time in three years

Health officials are urging everyone over 6 months old to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to help avoid another nasty season. And to encourage needle-phobic kids to get immunized, a leading pediatric group is softening its insistence that they get it in a shot rather than a painless nose spray.

“Preferentially, we want kids to get the shot,” said Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Secondarily, if the child is healthy and over age 2, they can go ahead and have the nasal spray. It’s certainly better than not being immunized.”

That’s right, kids. If you dread the needle, impress your parents by letting them know you’d prefer the “intranasal live attenuated influenza vaccine” — and the American Academy of Pediatrics which had not recommended the spray for the last two seasons, says it’s better than nothing.

Bert Kelly, spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that the CDC isn’t advising any preference for one form of flu vaccine or another.

“The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year,” Kelly said. “If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.”

Last flu season was a nasty one. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, the 2017—2018 season ranks as the third most severe since 2003—2004, and was the first to be classified as high severity for all age groups.

“It was a busy year,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Tuesday. She urged people to get their flu shots by Halloween so the vaccine has time to build their body’s immunity. “Basically, everybody needs it.”

— The Mercury News

Former Sao Paulo mayor replaces Lula in Brazil elections

RIO DE JANEIRO — Former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad is the candidate of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) in next month’s presidential elections, replacing ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the party said Monday.

The announcement was made at a rally opposite the prison in the southern city of Curitiba, where Lula is serving a 12-year prison sentence on corruption-related charges.

“Today, we present Fernando Haddad,” PT President Gleisi Hoffmann said.

In a letter read out at the rally, Lula said he supported the candidacy of Haddad, “who until now held the position of vice presidential candidate with extreme loyalty.”

“I want to ask all those who voted for me, from the heart, to vote for the comrade Fernando Haddad for the president of the republic,” Lula added.

Haddad say he shared the “pain of many Brazilians” not to be able to have Lula as their president.

Tuesday was the deadline for the PT to appoint a substitute for Lula. Manuela d’Avila, a young communist, was appointed Haddad’s vice presidential candidate.

Brazil’s top electoral court barred Lula from the Oct. 7 elections because of his criminal record. His lawyers still have one appeal pending against the ban, but it was deemed unlikely to be successful.

— dpa