ESSENTIAL #1: “SENATE PASSES FIRST STEP ACT WITH PUSH FROM CRIMINAL JUSTICE GROUPS; BILL GOES TO HOUSE” DEBORAH BARFIELD BERRY, USA TODAY
From the article: “In a major step in the criminal justice reform effort, the Senate voted 87 to 12 late Tuesday to approve the bipartisan "First Step Act" pushed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Mike Lee, R-Utah and Cory Booker, D-N.J. The bill must now go over to the House for a vote, where it is expected to pass. President Donald Trump has supported the measure and said he would sign it into law.”
ESSENTIAL #2: “WHITE HOUSE SIGNALS FLEXIBILITY ON BORDER-WALL FUNDING AS SHUTDOWN LOOMS” KRISTINA PETERSON AND REBECCA BALLHAUS, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
From the article: “The White House signaled on Tuesday it was backing off its demand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall, while rocky negotiations on Capitol Hill prompted Senate GOP leaders to start drafting a short-term spending deal to avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend.”
ESSENTIAL #3: “AS FACEBOOK RAISED A PRIVACY WALL, IT CARVED AN OPENING FOR TECH GIANTS” GABRIEL J.X. DANCE, MICHAEL LAFORGIA AND NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES
From the article: “For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.
The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.
The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.”
ESSENTIAL #4: “AN AMAZING FIRST STEP’: ADVOCATES HAIL CONGRESS’S MATERNAL MORTALITY PREVENTION BILL” ELIZABETH CHUCK, NBC NEWS
From the article: “But last week, Congress unanimously passed a bill that authorizes $60 million over the next five years to prevent maternal mortality in America. The money will fund maternal health review committees in all 50 states, enabling them to collect data on what is killing women during or after childbirth. Every task force will have to follow the same guidelines to receive the grants, which will provide uniformity to maternal mortality data collection across states for the first time.”