Companies Pull Ads From Google, YouTube Over Racist, Terrorist Content

Royal Jordanian Airlines told passengers on flights to and from the U.S. Monday that because of a directive from the U.S. government, no laptops and other electronic devicescould be brought into the cabin of a plane.

In a message posted on both Twitter and Facebook, the international carrier said cellphones and electronic devices needed medical reasons, but everything else had to be stowed in checked baggage "following instructions from the concerned U.S. department." 

The directive takes effect Tuesday, and applies to flights to and from New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.

Major European clients are pulling their ad dollars out of Google and YouTube because of fears that their ads will end up next to videos promoting terrorism, racism and hate, and earn money for the extremists who posted the content.

Three of Britain’s biggest banks just removed their ads from Google when they saw their campaigns appearing next to extremist content.

According to Adweek and the Guardian, ad agency giant Havas Worldwide has also yanked all its ad money out of Google and YouTube in Britain, after Havas and Google couldn’t agree on how to keep the ads of French firm’s clients away from videos of terrorists and white supremacists.

McDonald’s, Audi, and the U.K. government have already stopped using the platforms in the U.K., amid concerns that extremist groups will earn money from their advertising. When an ad appears alongside a YouTube video, the individual or organization that posted video earns a small amount of money per viewing of the video.

President Donald Trump's family is reportedly headed to the ski resort town of Aspen this weekend, a trip that could cost taxpayers a pretty penny in security costs judging by the clan's recent globe-trotting.

The Trump family visit to Aspen has not been officially announced, but the Aspen Times, quoting anonymous local law enforcement sources, reported Thursday that Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump and their families were expected and that the Secret Service had met with the Aspen Police Department.

There are no hotel bills for Aspen in the Federal Procurement Data System yet, but the database does show a $12,208.25 contract by the Secret Service with Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club for "recreational good rental/ski equipment lease" between the dates of March 10 and March 23.

No further details were given, and the club's spokeswoman did not respond to requests for more information.

Federal documents examined by NBC News outline hotel bills for the U.S. Secret Service and State Department coinciding with other out-of-town visits by Trump's sons and daughters, including:

  • $53,155.25 during Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump's business trip to Vancouver in late February.

  • $16,738.36 during Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump's business trip to Dubai in mid-February.

  • $97,830 for Eric Trump's business trip to Uruguay in early January.

In addition, the records show the Secret Service spent $4,0162.02 on rental vehicles in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 29, just ahead of Eric Trump's business visit to Cap Cana.

Ski Lift at Aspen
Gondola at Aspen Grafton Smith / Getty Images

March Madness is not a threat to our national security, but Pentagon officials are giving employees their annual reminder not to go crazy over college basketball. In an email sent Wednesday night, the Defense Department asked workers not to stream games from the tournament or they would feat up the Pentagon’s valuable internet bandwidth, and slow down the computers that run the U.S. military:

"Your JSP support team acknowledges and appreciates that college basketball fans within the DoD are excited to cheer on their favorite teams, update brackets, and otherwise obsess over the Big Dance."

"Please keep in mind; if you’re streaming video to watch your favorite player shooting free throws, you’re consuming network resources that could be served to support the Warfighter."

Documents released by the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee show a representative from RT, the Russian television network, successfully negotiating a lower speaking fee from Mike Flynn, the retired general who served briefly as Donald Trump’s national security advisor before stepping down amid questions about his foreign ties.

Flynn spoke at an RT conference in December 2015, and was famously seated at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin. The documents released this afternoon by the Oversight Democrats show Flynn’s booking agent for speeches, a company called Leading Authorities, negotiating logistics for the visit with the head of marketing for RT, a state-sponsored broadcaster.

Click Here to Read the Documents

While critics have suggested that Flynn was influenced by Russian money, the email chain shows RT asking for a discount, and getting a quick yes from Flynn’s rep.

“Sorry it took us longer to get back to you” writes Alina Mikhaleva of RT on Nov. 9, 2015, “but the problem is that the speaking fee is a bit too high and exceeds our budget at the moment, so we had to negotiate it with the management. Do you think there is any possibility to reduce the price to 45K?”

Flynn’s rep responds, “Great news! He has accepted (followed by a smiley face emoticon) … I can get a contract over to you stat.”

The size of the fee Flynn originally requested is not in the document, but at the time Leading Authorities was asking for up to $55,000 for appearances in Europe and $75,000 for events in Asia, according to Yahoo News. 

The top Republican and top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Defense Department on Feb. 17 saying they were looking into Flynn's speaking engagements.

"We are attempting to determine the amount Lieutenant General Flynn received for his appearance, the source of the funding, and whether he may have received payments from any other foreign sources for additional engagements," wrote Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D.-Maryland.

The Russian spy ship that transited up and back down the East Coast of the United States in February is taking another lap — and making no waves in Washington.

Last month's trip by the SSV-175 Viktor Leonov, though routine, made headlines because it appeared at an intriguing moment in U.S.-Russian relations.

After making its way back down the coast, it had a port call in Havana for a couple of weeks and then embarked on a return trip. 

As of Wednesday morning, it was about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Georgia, staying well outside of U.S. territorial waters and conducting a perfectly legal transit, according to one U.S. military official.

The official said the ship is expected to head north along the coast and then turn back around and head to a port call in Jamaica. As NBC News reported last month, its limited and outdated electronic eavesdropping gear means it can only listen to radio communications — ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and commercial radio broadcasts.

Asked whether the U.S. military is concerned about the transit, the official said, "Not really. We are about as concerned this time as we are every other time they do this."

image: Viktor Leonov
The Viktor Leonov CCB-175, a Russian Navy intelligence warship, is docked at a pier in Havana in 2015. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images, file

In a new report, the Center for American Progress says that President Trump is "following the same playbook" as European far-right leaders like France's Marine Le Pen who are backed by Russia, "adopting eerily similar language ... and pursuing the same policies that advance Russia's objectives."

"Trump or top Trump administration officials even met with four of these European far-right leaders during the presidential campaign or the transition," notes Ken Gude in the report, titled "Russia's Fifth Column."

The liberal think tank says that Russia uses tools that include disinformation, propaganda, "alleged illicit financing," and "covert influence operations" to help its proteges, and in return receives "a strikingly resistant level of support" from these leaders, "who all praise Putin."

Click here to read the full report.

Image: A journalist holds a board with portraits of Putin, Le Pen, Trump
A journalist holds a board with portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, and U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump ahead of an annual news conference by Russia's President Vladimir Putin, at Moscow's World Trade Centre. Sergei Fadeichev / TASS via Getty Images, file

The Justice Department has charged an admiral and eight other current and former Navy officials with corruption for allegedly taking bribes from a Singapore-based defense contractor nicknamed "Fat Leonard" in exchange for classified and internal Navy information.

Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, several Navy captains, a retired Marine colonel and an enlisted sailor are accused of accepting Cuban cigars, prostitutes and free hotel rooms from Leonard Glenn Francis, who also allegedly threw sex parties for U.S. sailors. The behavior described in the charges allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2014.

Francis, the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of millions of dollars. The information he received from Navy officials allowed him to overcharge the government by $20 million. 

"This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy’s highest-ranking officers,” said Alana Robinson, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. "The alleged conduct amounts to a staggering degree of corruption by the most prominent leaders of the Seventh Fleet – the largest fleet in the U.S. Navy — actively worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor, and not those of their own country."

Eleven other Navy officials, including another admiral, have already been charged in the fraud and bribery investigation.

Image: Bruce Loveless
Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless poses in this undated photo. U.S. Navy

If you want to know which of two rival princes is winning the battle for power in Saudi Arabia, just look at who's in Washington and who isn't.

Mohammed bin Salman, the 31-year-old deputy crown prince and defense minister, is at the White House today lunching with President Trump. Sources report there will be additional place settings for chief strategist Steve Bannon and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who’s been tasked with finding solutions to broader Middle East issues.

Bin Salman is also expected to meet with Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo while in town. On the agenda, the continuing civil war in Yemen, the Iranian nuclear deal, and stabilizing world oil prices. Big talk at a big table.

Compare that to the consolation prize Mohammed Bin Nayef, the 57-year-old crown prince and interior minister, received in late January. CIA Director Mike Pompeo was in Saudi Arabia to present MBN, a long-time U.S. favorite and counter-terror expert, with the George Tenet Award.

According to the Saudi news agency, the award was given for "excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace." It sounds more like a gold watch.

Image: Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, left, talks with Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Dec. 9, 2015.
Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, left, talks with Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Dec. 9, 2015.

A New York pedophile who served nine years in prison for preying on underage girls has been busted again for allegedly convincing a 14-year-old to send him sexually explicit videos, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

David Ohnmacht, 36, who lives in a leafy suburb of Bedford, was prohibited from having a computer while on parole, but that ended in November. That's when, authorities say, he began communicating with a North Carolina girl through Instagram, posing as a 19-year-old and sending her sex toys to use in videos.

"David Ohnmacht allegedly convinced a 14-year-old girl to send him sexually explicit videos of herself and threatened to release it to her friends if she did not send more," said Joon Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Now Ohnmacht faces a minimum of 35 years in prison and a maximum of 50 if convicted of the new charges, which include engaging in sex offense while a registered sex offender.

Ohnmacht pleaded guilty in 2003 to molesting six girls he met through a series of kid-friendly jobs, including party DJ, camp counselor and ice-cream truck driver.

When he was released in 2011 and moved back to his family's home, sparking outrage among neighbors, he insisted he was no longer a threat.

“I can’t drive. I’m restricted where I can go. I’m on a GPS ankle monitor. I have to report every time I move. I have a cellphone. I have to call my parole officer every time I move," Ohnmacht told WCBS-TV at the time. "They are watching me."

The FBI is asking that anyone who had contact with someone using the Internet handles Dannyw290 or contact law enforcement.

A relative reached at Ohnmacht's home declined to comment.