Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

Update: May 13, 2013 1:09 PM

On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to discuss the accusations reporters at his media company, Bloomberg News, used the company's financial information terminals to track government officials and investment bank staffers.

"No, I can't say anything. I have an agreement with the Conflict of Interests Board. You'll have to talk to the company," Bloomberg said.

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According to the New York Times, "more than half a dozen" former employees of Bloomberg news said reporters were trained to use data the company collected on subscribers to its financial information terminals. A spokesperson for Bloomberg denied the allegations telling the times, "reporters would not have been trained to improperly use any client data." 

Questions about Bloomberg journalists' use of the terminals to track the subjects of their stories have been mounting in recent days. The issue first came to light last week Goldman Sachs complained after a reporter contacted one of the investment bank's employees to inquire about their employment status after they had not logged into their terminal for an unusually long period of time. In response to that complaint, Bloomberg admitted at least one reporter gained information on Goldman Sachs through terminal subscriber data. Bloomberg journalists have since been accused of using the terminals to gather data on employees of J.P. Morgan Chase and on top officials at the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve.

On Monday, Bloomberg News Editor-In-Chief Matthew Winkler published a response to the allegations where he emphasized the company stopped giving reporters access to terminal subscriber data last month. Winkler also described the information Bloomberg reporters were able to see as fairly basic and said they were only given access to the information as a holdover from a time when journalists worked directly to help provide customer service to terminal clients. 

"Now let’s also be clear what our reporters had access to. First, they could see a user’s login history and when a login was created. Second, they could see high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis, with no ability to look into specific security information," Winkler said. "The recent complaints go to practices that are almost as old as Bloomberg News. ... Our reporters used to go to clients in the early days of the company and ask them what topics they wanted to see covered. Understanding how clients used the terminal was more important then." 


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A five-year-old boy in Denton, Texas was left in critical condition after he was shot in the head by his eight-year-old friend Saturday morning. According to the Denton Record-Chronicle, the police said the two boys were alone in the bedroom when the older child found a .22 caliber rifle, pointed it at the other boy, and shot him.

Police said they are investigating the incident as an accident. The family of the victim said two adults, one teenager, and two other children were in the home with the two boys when the incident occurred at about 11:30 AM. 

After he was shot, the five-year-old boy was taken to a local medical facility. He was then flown to a hospital in Dallas where, as of Saturday evening, he remained in critical condition. 

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According to CNBC, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department are both investigating whether top officials' use of the financial information terminals provided by Bloomberg L.P. was tracked by the company's journalists. CNBC also reported a "a former Bloomberg employee" admitted he accessed terminal usage information for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Data that could have been viewed by Bloomberg reporters only concerned fairly broad functions like what types of information the officials were looking at on the terminals and not details about the specific company and market data they were viewing. The former Bloomberg employee who spoke to CNBC said he looked up the information about Bernanke and Geithner "just for fun." CNBC also said they have "no information that the data" on Bernanke and Geithner was "either used by the employees for journalism or shared inappropriately."

Though CNBC does not have evidence the information allegedly viewed on Bernanke and Geithner by Bloomberg journalists was used for reporting, a source JP Morgan Chase accused "multiple Bloomberg reporters" of "openly" using the terminals to report on that company's layoffs. A Bloomberg spokesperson told CNBC the allegations were "untrue," but declined to elaborate. 

The issue of Bloomberg journalists potentially using data from the terminals inappropriately first gained attention last week when it came to light a Bloomberg reporter allegedly called a Goldman Sachs employee to inquire about their employment status because they had not been using the terminals. Bloomberg has since blocked its journalists from accessing data on terminal subscribers. 

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Multiple high profile donors have pulled out of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's new political group, Fwd.us. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and David Sacks, chief executive of the social networking company Yammer both left the group Friday, according to Reuters

Fwd.us was launched in April to help executives in the technology industry lobby on immigration reform, education and scientific research. 

The group recently launched a ad campaign praising conservative politicians who back immigration reform for supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, which is opposed by many environmental activists. Fwd.us said the ads were designed to bolster those politicians in their home districts. As a result of the ads, several progressive groups launched a boycott of Facebook's ads platform

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According to Politico, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has prepped a negative ad to air against his Democratic rival in the Garden State's gubernatorial race, State Senator Barbara Buono. The television commercial will start airing next week and is part of an $800,000 ad buy that links Buono to former Gov. Jon Corzine and past tax increase votes.

"Meet Barbara Buono, Jon Corzine’s budget chair and now running for governor," the commercial says. "Buono voted 154 times to raise our taxes."

The ad buy would seem to be insurance for Christie, who, based on multiple recent polls, has a more than thirty point lead over Buono. 

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The Global Islamic Media Front Technical Center is a group of mysterious programmers with links to Al Qaeda who claim to be trying to arm jihadists with digital weaponry. These high tech terrorists have released a series of plugins that purportedly encrypt instant messages to help mujahideen avoid surveillance while communicating online. However, it's unclear if this Jihadi cryptography software is effective. In fact, experts said these programs may do would-be terrorists more harm than good by leaving behind traceable, digital breadcrumbs and even possibly exposing them to dangerous trojan horse downloads planted by law enforcement.

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Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of the late civil rights leader Malcolm X, has died while in Mexico. The news first broke when a family friend named Terrie Williams announced his death on Facebook and Twitter. TPM has independently confirmed his death through another source with close knowledge of the situation. According to an associate, Shabazz was beaten during a robbery Wednesday night in Mexico City.

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Many of the candidates vying for New York City mayor told TPM on Thursday that they oppose a measure being considered by the city council that would allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

The potential law would allow those who are "lawfully present in the United States" and have lived in the five boroughs for "six months or longer" to vote in local elections.

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The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment today revealing a Tunisian man named Ahmed Abassi was charged with visa fraud designed to help him remain in the United States to build an Al Qaeda-linked terror cell.

According to the indictment, Abassi made a false statement on a  Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization by saying he, "intended to remain in the United States for employment, when in fact he sought to remain in the United States to facilitate an act of international terrorism."

"As alleged, Ahmed Abassi had an evil purpose for seeking to remain in the United States-–to commit acts of terror and develop a network of terrorists here, and to use this country as a base to support the efforts of terrorists internationally," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. 

Abassi, who previously resided in Canada, allegedly traveled to the United States in March and while here he was "under surveillance by law enforcement agents at all times" and "maintained regular contact with an FBI undercover officer." Abassi also allegedly met with Chiheb Esseghaier, who "was previously radicalized by Abassi." Esseghaier was arrested along with another man April 22 for allegedly plotting to target a train that traveled between Toronto and New York City. Abassi was arrested that same day.

During conversations with Esseghaier and the undercover agent, the U.S. Attorney's office said Abassi allegedly "discussed his desire to engage in terrorist acts against targets in the United States and other countries, and his intention to provide support and funding to organizations engaged in terrorist activity–including the al-Nusrah Front, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of State as an alias for al-Qaeda in Iraq–and to recruit other individuals for terrorist plots." To facilitate his "efforts to recruit others for terrorist plots," Abassi also allegedly talked about getting "immigration documents to remain in the United States" purportedly to work for a company the undercover agent said they were affiliated with.

Read the full indictment against Abassi below:

  Ahmed Abassi Indictment


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