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Inmates end hunger strike in California

LOS ANGELES — Inmates at California state prisons have ended a two-month hunger strike, corrections officials and inmate advocates announced Thursday.

The strike was organized to protest the state’s use of solitary confinement, in which some inmates have been held for years or even decades. It was the third hunger strike in California state prisons since 2011.

At its peak in July, 30,000 inmates across two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons were refusing meals. That number had dwindled to about 100 this week, according to prison officials.

“We are pleased this dangerous strike has been called off before any inmates became seriously ill,” Jeffrey Beard, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in a written statement. He added that the department would “continue to implement the substantive reforms” that began after hunger strikes two years ago.

In a statement, the organizers of the protest, who are being held in isolation units at Pelican Bay State Prison, said that most of their demands had not been met, and that they would continue to fight for changes.

—Ian Lovett, The New York Times

Privacy groups ask FTC to block Facebook policy changes

A coalition of six major consumer privacy groups has asked the Federal Trade Commission to block coming changes to Facebook’s privacy policies that they say would make it easier for the social network to use personal data about its users, including children younger than 18, in advertising on the site.

In a letter sent to the agency late Wednesday, the coalition said the changes, scheduled to go into effect later this week, violate a 2011 order and settlement with the FTC over user privacy.

“Facebook users who reasonably believed that their images and content would not be used for commercial purposes without their consent will now find their pictures showing up on the pages of their friends endorsing the products of Facebook’s advertisers,” the letter says. “Remarkably, their images could even be used by Facebook to endorse products that the user does not like or even use.”

The plain language in Facebook’s new policy documents seems to reverse the default setting for user privacy when it comes to advertising.

—Vindu Goel, The New York Times

Minnesota Orchestra musicians reject latest offer

The labor standoff that cost the Minnesota Orchestra its entire last season, and is imperiling the coming season, was extended Thursday, when the orchestra’s locked-out players voted to reject the latest contract offer put forward by management.

The offer that the musicians rejected was made by the orchestra’s management last week. It called for the players to return to work for two months at their old salaries, and then, if no new deal was struck, to work for two years with their base pay cut by nearly a quarter.

The musicians called on the orchestra’s board to accept a proposal made this summer by George Mitchell, the former senator and Middle East envoy, who is acting as a mediator in the dispute.

That proposal, which the management rejected earlier, would bring the players back to work for two months under their old contract, to be followed by two months at a 6 percent pay cut, while the two sides negotiate.

—Michael Cooper, The New York Times