Appiness.io blog

17 Nov 2017
by Admin
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With Net Neutrality On The Chopping Block, Communities Are Taking Matters Into their Own Hands—And Scaring The Hell Out Of Comcast

Here we go again.

Word is Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Republican Ajit Pai, will hold a vote next month on reversing the landmark 2015 net neutrality order that bars corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable from blocking or slowing internet content.

We should be loud and clear in the coming weeks like we’ve been before: net neutrality is crucial to helping everyone, regardless of where they live or how much money they make, get online.

But there’s another way we can fight for an open internet.

Last week, 19 towns across Colorado voted to allow the exploration of creating a local, public alternative to expensive private providers.

Fort Collins voters went the furthest, passing a measure to finance an assessment of starting a city-owned broadband utility, which would aim to provide faster service at a cheaper price. That means residents could have a say in whether a new public network maintains the principle of net neutrality, whatever the FCC decides in the future.

“People who don’t normally get excited or vote actually turned out this time and actually got energized,” said one resident who had campaigned for the measure.

Not everyone was excited. Industry groups spent more than $450,000 campaigning against the measure. In fact, the very reason Colorado towns had to vote “yes” before even exploring public broadband is because of an industry-backed state law requiring municipalities to jump through hoops to take control of their internet infrastructure. (The industry has successfully pushed similar legislation in over 20 states.)

Comcast and the like are quaking in their boots about a public option, and they should be. Cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee, which became the first U.S. city to offer gigabit internet speed after going public, are outperforming private providers and even forcing them to innovate to play catch up.

Why shouldn’t internet access be a public good? The web should be like the Postal Service, which, because it’s public, provides affordable mail service to everyone, rich or poor, in all areas of the country.

And why should a handful of corporate executives and investors get rich while providing expensive, slow access and unbearable customer service? Comcast’s CEO, billionaire Brian Roberts, pocketed $33 million last year alone while running America’s most hated corporation.

People need the internet for life in the 21st century, to communicate, apply for jobs, and access crucial resources. Everyone should have affordable access.

16 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Here’s How To Get Free 2-Day Shipping On Your Black Friday Purchases

Wondering where else you can snag good deals and free two-day shipping on Black Friday other than Amazon? You’re in luck.

That’s why we’ve rounded up some of Jet’s best Black Friday deals. Note that these deals will go live at 12:01 a.m. EST on Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day, and last through Nov. 27, Cyber Monday: 

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.

16 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Here’s Where To Get The Best Black Friday Deal On An XBox One

The hunt for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals is on, with more than 164 million shoppers planning to whip out their wallets across the weekend on wish-list purchases. 

Among 2017′s hottest holiday gifts are big-ticket items like laptops, FitBits, KitchenAid stand mixers and, unsurprisingly, gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch and the just-released versions of the Xbox One X and Xbox One S.

Unfortunately, we’re not seeing any deals on the brand-new Xbox One X (so far). Check out Xbox’s website for the nitty-gritty differences between the two consoles if you’re new to shopping Xbox consoles.

Otherwise, if you’re simply looking for the best game console for your buck, the Xbox One S is the more wallet-friendly choice for families and hobbyist gamers.

Below, we’ve rounded up what we believe are the best Black Friday deals on the Xbox One S. We’ll be sure to update this list as more deals are announced. 

Best Black Friday Deals On Xbox One S

1. Best Deal: Kohl’s

Get $45 Kohl’s Cash when you purchase an Xbox One S 500GB from Kohl’s on Black Friday. On sale for $190 (normally $280). 

2. Second-Best Deal: Target

Get a free $25 Target gift card when you purchase an Xbox One S 500GB from Target on Black Friday. On sale for $190 (normally $280). 

3. Other Deals:

Jet.com: Get an Xbox One S 500GB from Jet on Black Friday for $190 (normally $280). (Bonus: snag free two-day shipping when you check out!)

Sam’s Club: Get an Xbox One S 500GB from Sam’s Club on Black Friday for $190 (normally $250).

Walmart: Get an Xbox One S 500GB from Walmart on Black Friday for $190 (normally $250).

Newegg: Get an Xbox One S 500GB from Newegg on Black Friday for $190 (normally $280).

Best Buy: Get an Xbox One S 500GB from Best Buy on Black Friday for $190 (normally $280).

 

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.

15 Nov 2017
by Admin
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15 Black Friday Laptop Deals Actually Worth Your Time And Money

On Black Friday shoppers will be hitting the streets (and the web) in search of the best deals on the year’s big-ticket holiday items, like MacBooks, FitBits, Xbox Ones, KitchenAid stand mixers and, you guessed it, laptops.

Whether you’re looking for a gaming laptop, a new MacBook Pro or a convertible laptop with a touch screen, there’s something on sale for every type of user. We’ve combed through the deals clutter to find our favorites. 

Below are 15 Black Friday laptop deals worth whipping out your wallet for: 

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.

15 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Amazon Just Released A Sneak Peek At Its Black Friday Deals

Amazon is an obvious destination for holiday shopping, and it’s no surprise given the e-retailer’s ability to offer insanely good deals on big-ticket purchases like Amazon Echoes, electronics, toys, kitchen tools, fashion accessories and more. 

Earlier this week the commerce giant low-key released a sneak peek at its upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The below deals will be available on various dates and times between Nov. 17 and Black Friday, Nov. 24. 

Black Friday itself will feature more than 30 “Deals Of the Day” and thousands of “Lightning Deals” across over two-dozen categories ―with full details that have yet to be announced. Shoppers can be the first to know about Amazon’s Black Friday deals by setting up alerts, downloading the app, checking their Black Friday countdown, and asking even Alexa for deals as early as Wednesday, Nov. 22. 

For those eager to get a head start on their holiday shopping list, we’ve highlighted the best of Amazon’s sneak peek deals below. Check them out, and remember: These deals are available on various dates and times between Nov. 17 and Black Friday, so shop fast.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.

14 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Lack Of Diversity In Tech Makes It Difficult To Override Russian Fake News

The outrage over Russian manipulation of social media platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter during the 2016 election has been appropriate and long overdue. And these companies’ response to it thus far has been deeply inadequate.

But lost among the outrage is the damage that has been done to the communities targeted by the false and bigoted content. In short, the Russian social media content took an already toxic election campaign and made it far worse.

It is no coincidence that Russians used anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-Latino, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, and anti-black messages to stoke divisions, since candidates were already stoking them.

This is not just a crisis for marginalized communities. It is a crisis for our democracy.

According to Facebook’s testimony earlier this month before the Senate Committee on Intelligence, at least 126 million Americans—or more than one-third of the country—were exposed to this Russian content. That means millions more people than we realized were exposed to the falsehoods and hyperbole that are being used as the rationale for the immigration polices the Trump administration pursued.

And the Russians joined the many homegrown actors online already peddling this corrosive content. In other words, communities of color have been fighting a tidal wave of misinformation with a bucket.

This is not just a crisis for marginalized communities, it is a crisis for our democracy. And it is far past time for the tech companies involved to treat it as such.

That is why it is so dismaying to us that for months these companies dismissed these concerns as overblown, even though they have been aware of the dangerous use of their platforms for a long time. While they have pledged to “do better,” they have been woefully short on specifics. And we are most concerned that they have yet to fully acknowledge their role in giving bigots both credibility and a platform beyond their wildest dreams.

These companies have to address this crisis with concrete specifics. We know that companies are wary of solutions that could restrict free speech, but there is nothing against creating more speech.

Social media companies must work with organizations representing affected communities on how to most effectively counter hate speech on their platforms. The companies should provide the opportunity, the resources and the training to help these organizations create and disseminate this content.

There is something to be said for fighting hate speech with better speech and falsehoods with facts. We want to see tech companies adhere to the kind of accountability and transparency that is the hallmark of companies that practice sound corporate responsibility.

But ultimately, the failure to fully see or acknowledge the impact on Latinos and other communities of color points to another longstanding issue—the profound lack of diversity in Silicon Valley.

The Russian crisis underscores why diversity matters. A more diverse workforce could have helped these companies understand the deep impact of what was happening online. And that includes taking demonstrable and quantifiable steps to not only diversify the pipeline of potential new employees, but also their current workforce, leadership and boards of directors.

The issue of diversity in tech has been raised for years, by us and a host of other organizations, elected officials, and leaders. And while the companies have been very open to dialogue and most have made steps in the right direction, the results are dismal.

In 2014, 4 percent of Facebook employees were Latino; today it is just 5 percent. For Twitter and Google, it was 3 percent in 2014, and is only 4 percent currently. At the highest and decision-making levels for all companies, those percentages plummet even further.

Polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths. These companies need to decide whether they will be a party to the erosion of that cherished value, or if they will do what it takes to both prevent the use of their platforms to destroy the ties that bind us as Americans.

These companies and their platforms must reflect the customers they serve. We stand ready to help if they make the right choice.

13 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Buying A PC? Here’s What You Need To Know Now

If you’re in the market for a new computer, there are things you need to know. Things your PC manufacturer or retailer won’t necessarily share with you.

And with the frenzied days of buying just ahead, now is the time to inform yourself. Otherwise you could end up overpaying ― I mean really overpaying ― for your next laptop or desktop.

Turns out there’s a time for everything, when it comes to a new PC.

Wait for the new chips

Don’t pay attention to the new models, but instead the new chipsets ― the things that power the PCs. “My advice is to buy a new PC right after a new motherboard chipsets come out,” says David Cox, the CEO of an internet company in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “You will get the most longevity out of your system that way.” AMD and Intel have released new chips recently. Competition between the two have driven down prices and introduced a lot of cool, new features, according to Cox. “Last time consumers had this much buying power was before 2005,” he adds.

Tune in to “special” days

Antony Vitillo, an artificial reality developer, says certain days are best to buy a PC, beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday. “Some of them are celebrated by one particular website, like Amazon Prime Day,” he says. Wait for these days to see what deals are being offered. But also, know that there will be other windows that open later. In other words, if you miss Black Friday, don’t worry; Cyber Monday is just a few hours away.

Hang on for PC buying season

Yes, there’s a season, says Yanatha Desouvre, an information systems professional who has watched the ebb and flow of computer prices for the last two decades. Fall is the best time for a PC purchase. “Manufacturers have back-to-school sales, including printer bundles and other accessories,” says Desouvre. The holiday season is also a good time, with retailers trying to meet or exceed their fourth-quarter sales goals. But perhaps the lowest prices come to those who wait a little longer, a few days after the holidays, when the discounting can reach a frenzy. The worst time? Summer, since prices are high and it’s near the end of the product life cycle. Never buy a PC during the summer.

Purchasing data backs up that assertion. For laptop computers, for example, prices typically drop an extra 8 percent to 25 percent in August and early September, according to DealNews.com. In fact, August had 24 percent more computer deals last year than September did. The PC deals pick up again in November with Black Friday sales, according to the site.

Find out if the coast is clear

PCs rely on components, and the cost of those parts can fluctuate based on demand and other factors. “For example, an earthquake or hurricane can affect pricing of hard drives and memory by creating a temporary shortage of supply to the current demand,” explains Tim Lynch, publisher of Psychsoftpc.com, a computer site. For example, that happened to computer monitors when the production of quality glass was effected by a natural disaster, he says. Always check to make sure your computer’s prices are not artificially inflated by an outside event

Missed it? March madness awaits

Yet another buying window opens up in March, at the end of the first quarter, according to Todd Millecam, the CEO of SWYM Systems. “They’re getting rid of the stock they couldn’t move for Christmas,” he says. “This is also the best time to buy components to build your own PC.” In other words, manufacturers and retailers are often under immense pressure to move inventory and meet sales goals, and those can favor the buyer at the end of the fourth and first quarters of the calendar year. So watch for aggressive prices in the final days of March.

There’s a bigger question if you’re in the market for a new PC. Should you wait for the newest computer or buy one that’s been available for a while? That’s worth addressing in a story about seasonality, since the most important season is yours. PC expert Itai Danan says consumer typically find the best value in the middle range of the new family of processors.

“Even getting a PC with the lowest speed processor of the newest platform, rather than a faster one of the previous platform, is advantageous. Not only will it last longer but it will also stay upgradable for longer since memory and other compatible components will be available longer.”

Finally, when you have an opportunity to buy a discounted PC, seize it. Sale quantities are limited, notes Eric Rintell, president of Rintell Technologies. “You have to be swift,” he says. “In the past, I have woken up in the middle of the night to ensure that I can purchase the sale PC.”

To improve your odds, subscribe to sites or newsletters that preview the sales weeks in advance so you can plan ahead. Otherwise, you’ll pay too much for your next PC.

Christopher Elliott specializes in solving unsolvable consumer problems. Contact him with your questions on his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google or sign up for his newsletter.

13 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Company Blames Secret Intimate Recordings By Sex Toy On ‘Minor Bug’

A high-tech sex toy company in Hong Kong is blaming a “minor bug” after a customer realized that one of its vibrators was recording human sounds on its own while the gadget was in use.

The wireless remote-controlled vibrator is designed to be operated by a lover across a room — or across an ocean — using a cell phone app. The glitch in the Lovense vibrator was noted by a Reddit poster who discovered that the smartphone used to control a lover’s vibrator was recording and saving sounds at the same time – without being directed to do so.

The full audio file — discovered as tempSoundPlay.3gp — lasted six minutes and was stored in the app’s local folder, noted a startled tydoctor. Some who responded to the Reddit message had similar experiences.

The Lovense app has access to the phone’s microphone and camera, but they’re intended to be used for in-app chats or voice clips for communication, not constant recording.

TLDR: App for remote control vibrator records your sexytime lovemaking sessions

The lovense remote control vibrator app (used to control remote control sex toys made by lovense, such as this one) seems to be recording while the vibrator is on. I was going through my phone media to prepare it for a factory reset and came across a .3gp file named “tempSoundPlay.3gp” in the folder for the App. The file was a FULL audio recording 6 minutes long of the last time I had used the app to control my SO’s remote control vibrator (We used it at a bar while playing pool).

The app permissions allow for mic and camera use, but this was supposed to be for use with the in-app chat function to send voice clips on command. At no time had I wanted the app to record entire sessions using the vibrator.

I’m not tech savvy enough to know if the recording had been sent to them or not, but I assume this is the case given the history of the industry and their disregard for privacy.

I have deleted the app, and will no longer be using its bluetooth functions. It’s unfortunate, because there’s no other way to control the vibrator without the app.

Someone from Lovense popped in on Reddit to assure tydoctor that the recording was caused by a “minor bug,” and the glitch was fixed Nov. 10. “Your concern is completely understandable,” the representative wrote. “But rest assured, no information or data is sent to our servers. The cache file currently remains on your phone instead of deleting itself once your session is finished.”

The glitch affected only Android phones, not iOS devices, according to the Lovense representative.

A Lovense spokesman confirmed to The Verge that the Reddit response was from the company. The rep noted that the bug was blocking recordings from automatically being erased at the end of “sessions.”

A flaw in another Lovense product was discovered in October. A security researcher found that Lovense’s Bluetooth-enabled Hush butt plug could be hacked and a stranger could send a vibrate command. Hackers have warned that commandeering a sex toy used by another could constitute sexual assault and that the devices should be much more secure.

Standard Innovation, the parent company of tech sex toy maker We-Vibe, settled a class action lawsuit for $3.75 million earlier this year after it was discovered that We-Vibe “smart vibrators” were tracking customers’ sexual activity without their knowledge.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated that Standard Innovation lost the class action lawsuit and was ordered to pay $3.15 million to customers. In fact, the company settled the suit for $3.75 million.

09 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Facebook Police: There’s No Such Thing As Free Speech On Social Media

Dear Facebook,

In 2008, we started our relationship. You were down for anything and only hung out with my closest friends. We told inappropriate jokes, talked about drugs and laughed about stupid sh*t we had done earlier in our lives. You wanted to know what was on my mind and I’d always tell you the truth. 

Flash forward almost a decade into our relationship and things have drastically changed. 

I’m still the same person I have always been. Abrasive, heavily sarcastic, and extremely alpha are some of the phrases used to describe me still, after all these years. Meanwhile, you’ve changed and done a complete 180 on me. You’ve gone soft, delicate and get offended by almost everything I say.

This is why I’m breaking up with you. I can’t continue to be a part of your downward spiral of trying to please everyone. It’s just not me and it’s not what I want to be a part of. I wish you all the luck in life and I know you will make lots of people happy, I just can’t be one of them. It’s not you; it’s me and I’m moving on. 

I first signed up for Facebook in 2008. I met my oldest son’s mom on the site and it changed my life. Literally I’ve made millions of dollars in the last decade from Facebook. I’ve met some of my best friends and even become sort of famous from the site. Facebook has been the single biggest blessing in my lifetime.

That’s why the above letter was so hard to write. I’m breaking up with the love of my life. Allow me to explain.

In 2010, I lost my job. I had no idea what I was going to do and the job supply wasn’t exactly overfilled back then. I found a program on how to manage social media and I knew I was on to something. I started my own business as a social media manager. I spent 10 hours a day convincing thousands of people to join Facebook and post often. I was Facebook’s #1 cheerleader. 

In 2014, I learned Facebook ads and since then I’ve spent over $500,000 in advertising as well as convinced thousands of others to do the same. I’ve sent millions of dollars’ worth of business to Facebook this year alone.

Just last year I was selected as one of the top Facebook marketers in the world. 

In the last two years, though things have gotten weird for me on the site. It all started when I grew my fan page. I went from 8,000 likes to over 100,000 in less than a year. It was at that time someone at Facebook started watching me closely. I made the occasional right-leaning post and Facebook started restricting my posts. 

At first, I thought it was all in my head but after a while I realized someone was throttling my posts. Although I was disappointed and downright pissed, I knew there was nothing I could do about it, so I just worked harder at coming up with great content. 

I guess that wasn’t enough for whoever over at Facebook. 

One day, while I was working I saw a friend make a post containing a political joke. I made a sarcastic comment on the post, and I went on about my business. When I tried to login to Facebook a little while later, I noticed I’d been completely logged out of the system. As I logged back in, I learned I had violated community standards and that I would be blocked from the site for seven days. 

I got kicked off Facebook for joking with one of my friends. My mind was blown. Since when had Facebook started blocking people for jokes? I had no idea this was even a thing or that it was possible. Yet here I was, blocked from the site and scratching my head. 

After the ban, I got back on and posted about being kicked off. None of my friends (who often say way worse stuff than me) had ever been kicked off. If you think about it, my friend, who posted the joke, didn’t get banned. I did, for commenting on it. I’m not one to feel like a victim or as if someone is picking on me, so I just chalked it up as a learning lesson. 

A month or so later the same thing happened.

I got kicked off for another week for sarcastically commenting on a political post. Someone at Facebook has to have been watching me. I don’t know why they put me on a watch list. I don’t vote Republican or Democrat. I don’t promote any candidates and I don’t spew any hate speech. I’m mostly just posting jokes on the site. But I was getting worried because they had kicked me off twice and I didn’t even know why. 

Flash ahead to this February when I got an email from my assistant. It was a forwarded email from someone in our 60,000 member Facebook group. Apparently, whoever it was, was fired from their job over a sarcastic Facebook post. We joke in the group a lot and someone took a screenshot and sent it to the poster’s boss, getting him fired. Turns out, that same person did this to 4-5 other people, too. The problem was, we had no clue who was doing this, so we couldn’t kick them out. 

So, I made a long post about it and in the end jokingly said, “Whoever is the snitch, kill yourself.” When I went to log back into Facebook later, I noticed I was completely logged out of everything again. I was banned for 30 days. Of course, I don’t want anyone to go kill themselves and if you read the post it was in a joking tone. Yet FB kicked me off with no warning. 

As luck would have it, I met a person who is one of the higher ups at Facebook and I asked this person to see what was going on with me. He mentioned that I was red flagged and basically refused to comment any further. I didn’t know that I was that important. They red flagged me then gagged the dude I had just met.

Is this Facebook or the CIA?

I decided it wasn’t worth it and I would stop posting abrasive, humorous stuff, because whoever is red flagging me at Facebook clearly can’t take a joke. 

Everything was good, no issues were had and all was smooth until about a week ago. One of my military friends shared a link with fake news about Trump banning “trans” people from the military. I commented that ISIS is not scared to fight trannies. Now, I didn’t know that tranny wasn’t PC and nor do I really care. I don’t have time to keep up with what special interest group wants to be called what. I have a life to live. I thought “tranny” was short for “transvestite” but it turns out both of those terms are offensive. I had no clue, I’ve never met a trans person in my life. 

So, they kicked me off for 30 days again!

The message this go-round was that I had violated community standards. Now, I don’t get it. I see all sorts of hateful comments, people using derogatory terms and everything else, without consequence. Even Snoop said he was going to kill Trump, our president and he didn’t get kicked off. The one lady wiped her ass with our flag and didn’t get kicked off. But me, I’ve been kicked off four times now. For very minor things. 

I don’t know how many people spend seven figures with Facebook in ads, but I imagine it’s not a lot. You’d think I’d be a valued customer, but I don’t even have a rep to get a hold of there. So, I’m just dealing with the block I guess.

This morning I woke up and checked my Instagram account. They blocked me on there, too.

I don’t even engage on that site so I have no idea what is going on. The site says my account is restricted, no time frame, no reason why.

Facebook is trying to run me off social media. 

Now mind you, I have 111,000 followers on Instagram and over 200,000 on Facebook. It’s obvious that people want to listen to me and hear what I have to say. Facebook is trying to silence my influence and I have no clue why. I’ve read the community terms and they are so vague and broad that the only way you can be in full compliance is by not posting at all. 

I’m not sure what’s going on over there at Facebook these days. They are trending fake stories; they make left-leaning content viral and they are banning real people like me for no real reason other than disagreeing with an opinion. I’d like to say I’m never gonna use Facebook again, but I still have an advertising business to run. However, what I am going to do is hire a social media manager to run my page and never look at it again. 

It was a good run. It lasted almost a decade, but now, it’s time for me to leave the haters behind. It sucks it has to be like this but I don’t know what else to do. Free speech comes with a price on Facebook. Watch your words. 

09 Nov 2017
by Admin
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Twitter ‘Verifies’ Jason Kessler, Organizer Of Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally

Jason Kessler, the organizer of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that left one person dead, was verified on Twitter. The Daily Beast reports that the white supremacist got the official badge next to his name Tuesday.

The social media company, which recently made public statements about fighting hate speech on its platform, says the blue check mark is used to inform people “that an account of public interest is authentic.”

“A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter,” the site’s policy states.

Still, the verified status caused a swift backlash from other users on the platform. 

Kessler previously called Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed when a car plowed into the crowd demonstrating against the white supremacists that descended on Charlotesville, “a fat, disgusting Communist.” He added that her death was “payback time.”

Police identified James Alex Fields Jr., a white supremacist, as the driver who hit Heyer and others at the protest. He has been charged with multiple felonies, including one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident resulting in a death.

Last month, Kessler was indicted on a felony perjury charge after video surfaced showing that he had lied to a judge about the reason he punched a man in the face in January. Kessler claimed the man he assaulted had been the aggressor, but video showed otherwise.

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