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Inside Daily Brief (Dec 5th, 2017)

Russia has been barred from next year's Winter Olympics in South Korea for widespread doping of its athletes. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which issued the suspension on Tuesday, has also fined the Russian Olympic Committee $15 million for what it believes was government-supported doping. IOC President Thomas Bach called the suspension of Russian competitors from February’s PyeongChang Games "unprecedented." Certain athletes will invited to compete, but only under the title "Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)," and they will have to undergo scrutiny. The athletes would compete as neutrals, without a national flag or anthem. Russia would not earn medals in the games. - NYT

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Democratic Representative John Conyers Jr. said he will retire amid allegations that he sexually harassed former female employees. On Tuesday, Conyers told a radio show that he will leave Congress immediately. He has endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to fill his seat. Conyers' grand nephew, Michigan state Senator Ian Conyers, also said that he plans to run for the position. Conyers, the longest serving member of the House, continues to deny the accusations that he groped and verbally abused several former employees over decades. As a result of Conyers' retirement, the House Ethics Committee will likely end its ongoing inquiry into the matter. - NYT

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The U.S. Supreme Court appears to be divided in a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is likely the deciding vote, sent mixed messages when the case was argued in court on Tuesday, the New York Times reported. Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood, Colorado, declined in 2012 to make a custom wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Phillips has argued that he has the right to refuse services under the First Amendment's right to free speech and religion. Craig and Mullins, however, said that Phillips cannot exempt himself from state laws that ban discrimination in sales. The court's ruling will determine by precedent if businesses can legally turn away customers based on religious beliefs. - NYT

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Actor Danny Masterson has been fired from the Netflix comedy "The Ranch," after allegations surfaced that he sexually assaulted at least three women in the 2000s. On Tuesday, Netflix released a statement saying Masterson's character was written off of the show. Production is set to resume early next year without him, the company said. Masterson, who is known for playing Hyde in "That 70s Show," said in a statement that he has denied the allegations since the beginning. "Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one," he said. - USAT

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A ruling by Austria’s Constitutional Court will allow same-sex couples to marry starting in 2019. Tuesday's ruling determined that Austria's current laws violate constitutional protections against discrimination. Since 2010, same-sex couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships, but could not legally marry. In its ruling, the court wrote that “People living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations in which it is not, and must not be, relevant and … are highly likely to be discriminated against." Austria joins other European nations that allow same-sex marriage including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. - POLITICO

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YouTube plans to increase the number of people monitoring its content to more than 10,000, the company's CEO said. In a blog post this week, Susan Wojcicki said the reviewers are "essential to both removing content and training machine learning systems because human judgment is critical to making contextualized decisions on content." The reviewers would search for content that violates company policies. Wojcicki did not say how many reviewers currently work for YouTube. In the last six months, its trust and safety teams have reviewed close to 2 million videos for inappropriate violent content. "We are also taking aggressive action on comments, launching new comment moderation tools and in some cases shutting down comments altogether," Wojcicki said. - USAT

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U.S. Border Patrol agents made 310,531 arrests last fiscal year, the lowest level since 1971. The new figures from the Department of Homeland Security cover the fiscal year that ended September 30. The numbers represent a 25 percent drop from the 415,816 arrests made the year prior. The department said fewer people have attempted to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. The data also showed that immigration arrests inside the U.S. jumped by 25 percent. "Overall removals are down because the border's under better control than it has been in 45 years," the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. - AP

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A Kentucky attorney who fled the country after pleading guilty in a $550 million Social Security fraud case has been captured in Honduras. Reports said Eric Conn cut off an ankle monitor and fled house arrest six months ago, after pleading guilty to various charges, including stealing from the U.S. government and bribing a judge. He was accused of conspiring with others to gain illegal Social Security disability benefits. Conn was captured at a Pizza Hut in La Ceiba, a coastal city in Honduras. He connected to the restaurant's Wi-Fi, which alerted authorities of his location. Conn, who appeared on "America's Most Wanted" list, will be returned to the U.S. on Tuesday. - NPR

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Virgin Hyperloop co-founder Shervin Pishevar is taking a leave of absence, after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. Pishevar, who is also a co-founder of Sherpa Capital, said he will take the leave from both organizations to focus on a lawsuit he filed last month. He said the lawsuit targets "potential perpetrators" of a smear campaign against him. At least five woman have accused Pishevar of unwanted sexual advances in professional settings. One report claimed that he groped Uber executive Austin Geidt during a 2014 company party. Pishevar was an early investor in Uber. - CNBC

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At least 50 people were injured when a passenger train hit a freight train in Germany. The accident happened near a station in the town of Meerbusch, near Duesseldorf. Express reported that a DB Cargo freight train and a National Express train collided on Tuesday night, leaving the passenger train partially derailed and damaged. Local media reported that passengers were trapped in the trains as emergency crews attempted to rescue them. The freight train had reportedly stopped on the tracks before the incident.  - AP

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