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The Follower Factory

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The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends. Occasionally, like many teenagers, she posts a duck-face selfie.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio — “I have issues” — the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted graphic pornography, retweeting accounts called Squirtamania and Porno Dan.

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Photo illustration by Adam Ferriss

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https://www.nytimes.com

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U.S. Economy Grew at 2.6% Rate in Fourth Quarter

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The American economy finished off last year on a firm footing, and is poised for more vigorous growth in the months to come.

Preliminary estimates released by the government on Friday showed that the nation’s output increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the final quarter of 2017. Although that performance amounts to less than the heady 4 percent annual growth that President Trump has promised, it is further evidence — along with a sinking jobless rate and surging consumer confidence — of the economy’s resilience.

“The year-end is solid,” said Joel Prakken, chief United States economist at Macroeconomic Advisers by IHS Markit. Details within the report, about climbing business investment and depleted inventories, suggest more economic strength than the bare-bones headline number might indicate. “It portends well for 2018 demand,” he said.

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https://www.nytimes.com

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Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88

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Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.

Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.

Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including “The Left Hand of Darkness” — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. The critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as “a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist” who “has raised fantasy into high literature for our time.”

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Ms. Le Guin speaking in 2014 at the University of Oregon.CreditJack Liu

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2 Dead and 17 Injured in Kentucky High School Shooting

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At least two students were killed and 17 other people were injured in a school shooting on Tuesday at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky.

The suspect, a 15-year-old student at the school, was taken into custody in “a nonviolent apprehension,” Gov. Matt Bevin said on Tuesday.

The student, who was not immediately identified, entered the school with a handgun at 7:59 a.m., according to Richard W. Sanders, commissioner of the Kentucky State Police. The student will be charged with murder and attempted murder, he said.

A 15-year-old girl died at the school, and a 15-year-old boy died later in a hospital, the officials said.

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Emergency crews responded to a fatal shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., on Tuesday morning.CreditRyan Hermens/The Paducah Sun, via Associated Press

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https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/kentucky-school-shooting.html?referer=

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Senate Votes Overwhelmingly to End Government Shutdown

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The Senate voted 81-18 on Monday to end the three-day-old government shutdown, with Democrats joining Republicans to fund the government through February 8 in exchange for a promise from Republican leaders to address the fate of young, undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

“In a few hours, the government will reopen,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “We have a lot to do.”

The House must still vote on the measure later Monday afternoon or evening, but final passage is a formality. The bill also funds the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years and delays or suspends a handful of tax increases that were to help pay for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

After a weekend of partisan finger-pointing — in which Democrats branded the shutdown the “Trump Shutdown,” after President Trump, and Republicans branded it the “Schumer shutdown” — Monday’s vote offered Republicans and Democrats a way out of an ugly impasse that threatened to cause political harm to both parties.

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The Senate voted 81-18 to break the filibuster and reopen the government. Democrats helped advance a stopgap bill after a G.O.P. pledge to continue immigration talks.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Photo by Pete Marovich for The New York Times.

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Congressman Combating Harassment Settled His Own Misconduct Case

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Representative Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making unwanted romantic overtures to her, according to several people familiar with the settlement.

A married father of three, Mr. Meehan, 62, had long expressed interest in the personal life of the aide, who was decades younger and had regarded the congressman as a father figure, according to three people who worked with the office and four others with whom she discussed her tenure there.

But after the woman became involved in a serious relationship with someone outside the office last year, Mr. Meehan professed his romantic desires for her — first in person, and then in a handwritten letter — and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate, the people familiar with her time in the office said.

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Representative Patrick Meehan, Republican of Pennsylvania, traveled with President Trump to the state on Thursday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

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Paul Bocuse, Celebrated French Chef, Dies at 91

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Paul Bocuse, the most celebrated French chef of the postwar era and a leading figure in the pathbreaking culinary movement known as nouvelle cuisine, died on Saturday, his family said in a statement. He was 91.

Mr. Bocuse emerged as the first among a brilliant band of chefs who developed a modernized version of classic French cooking in the late 1960s and early ’70s, cheered on by Henri Gault and Christian Millau, the publishers of the influential Gault-Millau Guide. Following the lead of Fernand Point, the spiritual father of nouvelle cuisine and a mentor to many of its pioneers, Mr. Bocuse shaped a style of cooking at the Auberge du Pont de Collonges, his three-star restaurant near Lyon, that stressed fresh ingredients, lighter sauces, unusual flavor combinations and relentless innovation that, in his case, rested on a solid mastery of classic technique.

His signature dishes not only pleased the palate; they also seduced the eye and piqued the imagination. He stuffed sea bass with lobster mousse and encased it in pastry scales and fins. He poached a truffled Bresse chicken inside a pig’s bladder.

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A mural of Mr. Bocuse was painted in Lyon in 2015. Despite his international status, the chef remained deeply rooted in his native soil.CreditJeff Pachoud/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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