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posted by Fnord666 on Friday June 23, @06:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the bitcoins-are-like-cash dept.

U.S. Congress wants to pass a bill that would put serious fines ($10K for bitcoins as opposed to $5K for cash, IIRC) and jail time (ten years, as opposed to five IIRC) if you cross the border without reporting your bitcoins (in addition to confiscating your bitcoins of course).

A group of US lawmakers wants to see cryptocurrency holdings declared at the nation's border – and advocates of the tech are pushing back.

Introduced last month, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 – which is actually the third iteration of a bill that debuted in 2011 – would bring a range of digital currency services under federal scrutiny, including those that provide transaction mixing services.

Yet, the provision that has attracted the particular ire of cryptocurrency advocates – especially those who prefer a regulation-light environment – is one that would make such holdings subject to disclosure requirements at US customs checkpoints. This means if a person trying to enter the country has more than $10,000 worth of bitcoin in their possession, under the proposed legal change, they would need to inform the relevant authorities.

Such requirements are already in place for payment methods like cash. But given the rising public profile of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, coupled with the perception among policymakers that they could be used to fund terrorist activities, is driving legislative efforts like the bill currently under consideration.

[...] Thus far, the bill hasn't advanced significantly since being introduced last month, public records show. On 25th May, the measure was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

At press time, representatives for Senators Chuck Grassley and Diane Feinstein hadn't responded to CoinDesk requests for comment. The bill is also being sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse, constituting a group of two Republicans and two Democrats.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Thursday June 22, @09:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the PM-Blunders dept.

Theresa May has been forced to scrap a host of her most controversial policies after the Conservatives lost their majority in the snap general election.

The Prime Minister used the Queen’s Speech to outline multiple bills on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Legislation on trade, agriculture and immigration previously handled by the EU needs to be written into British law, meaning Brexit will dominate the next two years of Parliament.

Source: The Independent

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has played down reports it is seeking £2bn in extra funding for Northern Ireland in return for supporting the Tories. Earlier, sources told the BBC the DUP wanted £1bn invested in Northern Ireland's health service and a similar figure for infrastructure projects.

[...] Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking the support of the DUP's 10 MPs after losing her majority in the general election.

Both sides have been locked in talks for 11 days, but to date they have not confirmed a deal to prop up a Conservative minority government. On Tuesday, a senior DUP source said the party could not be "taken for granted" and urged the Conservatives to give a "greater focus" to their negotiations.

Source: BBC News

British negotiators have capitulated to key European demands for a phased approach to Brexit talks, agreeing to park discussions on free trade until they have thrashed out the cost of the multibillion-euro UK divorce settlement.

Putting a brave face on a concession that may further strengthen the tactical dominance of the EU, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, insisted [...] “It’s not how it starts, it’s how it finishes that matters,” Davis said in Brussels after the first day of formal talks. “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

[...] One EU official said the first day had been a show for the cameras and the meat of the negotiations would start on 10 July.

Source: The Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn insisted Labour is a “government-in-waiting” as he taunted Theresa May over the loss of her parliamentary majority, promising to vote down unpopular austerity measures and offer “strong and stable leadership”.

[...] Corbyn called May’s minority administration “a government without a majority, without a mandate, without a serious legislative programme, led by a prime minister who has lost her political authority, and is struggling to stitch together a deal to stay in office”.

[...] MPs will vote on the Queen’s speech next week and senior Conservative sources have repeatedly said they believe it will command the confidence of the House. But even if MPs fall into line, it became clear on Thursday that May could face a series of battles in the House of Lords over Brexit legislation.

Source: The Guardian

Representing centre-right to right-wing values, the protestant party [DUP] is the largest in Northern Ireland by number of seats but only represents constituencies within Northern Ireland.

[...] Though Northern Ireland could be set to benefit financially from close ties to Westminster, critics argue that these ties could threaten to undermine hard-fought political cohesion in the country.

Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the British government is supposed to be an impartial broker on any disagreements within Northern Ireland's devolved – and currently suspended – parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly.

[...] The Troubles refer to three decades of sectarian conflict within Northern Ireland, which took place between the late-1960s and the late 1990s.

[...] Power-sharing in the Northern Irish Assembly has been suspended since January amid a political stalemate between the member parties.

Source: CNBC

Unionists/loyalists, who are mostly Protestants and consider themselves British, want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists/republicans, who are mostly Catholics, want Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland. During The Troubles (1968-1998), 368 republican militants, 291 loyalist militants, 1049 British armed forces, 11 Irish armed forces and 1841 civilians were killed.

There were many incidents of collusion between the British state security forces (the British Army and RUC) and loyalist paramilitaries. This included soldiers and policemen taking part in loyalist attacks, giving weapons and intelligence to loyalists, not taking action against them, and hindering police investigations.

Operation Banner was the operational name for the British Armed Forces' operation in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to July 2007. While the withdrawal of troops was welcomed by the nationalist parties Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the unionist Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party opposed the decision, which they regarded as 'premature'.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Tuesday June 20, @02:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the make-media-great-again dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

A couple of Time Warner shareholders went after CNN CEO Jeff Bewkes Thursday in LA at a Time Warner shareholders meeting [...] David Almasi, the Veep of the National Center for Public Policy Research1, a conservative communications and research foundation, is in LA to question Bewkes. Both Almasi and President David Ridenour are Time Warner shareholders.

[...] “Mr. Bewkes, we have urged you many times to make CNN more objective,” Almasi said in his statement. “You have admitted to us in 2014 the need for more balance. We praised you last year after CNN President Jeffrey Zucker also acknowledged this and acted on the need for more diverse views. But bias is apparently worse than ever. As shareholders, we are concerned about the repetitional risk to our investment in Time Warner as CNN appears to be a key player in the war against the Trump presidency.”

Almasi cited a Media Research Center2 study of CNN programing for 14 hours and 27 minutes of news coverage back on May 12. The report concluded that all but 68 minutes were devoted to Trump with 96 guests out of 123 being negative.

[...] “I’m inquiring about CNN’s bias and our return on investment,” Almasi continued in his statement. “Half of the American public – which includes potential and current CNN viewers – voted for Trump last November and supports his agenda. CNN acts as if it is part of the anti-Trump resistance. Are you willing to lose viewers, possibly forever, because of the bias?”

Almasi even threatened Bewkes, saying that Media Research Center plans to alert advertisers about news programs that “peddle smear, hate and political extremism.”

He asked Bewkes, “Are you concerned about advertisers leaving CNN? Will you continue to ignore our appeals for objectivity at the risk to our investment in Time Warner?”

Source: The Daily Caller

1The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a self-described conservative think tank in the United States. In February 2014, at Apple Inc.'s annual shareholder meeting, NCPPR proposed Apple "disclose the costs of its sustainability programs" was rejected by 97% vote. The NCPPR representative argued that Apple's decision to have all of its power come from greens sources would lower shareholders' profits.

2The Media Research Center (MRC) is a politically conservative content analysis organization based in Reston, Virginia, founded in 1987 by activist L. Brent Bozell III. Its stated mission is to "prove—through sound scientific research—that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday June 19, @01:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the round-two dept.

According to Politico, heads of some tech companies will be meeting with the President on Monday. But the lower echelons of techdom are pushing back on engagement with the Trump administration.

The fraught relationship between the country's leading tech executives and President Donald Trump is about to get even more tense.

The latest uncomfortable moment arrives Monday, when top tech CEOs are expected to sit down with Trump at the White House to talk about modernizing government technology. Many of the companies have refused to confirm their attendance publicly, in a sign of how sensitive their dealings with the Trump administration have become in a liberal Silicon Valley that loathes his policies on issues like immigration and climate change.

Despite unease and rumblings from below, many are going to attend anyway.

Even so, executives from Google's parent Alphabet, IBM, Cisco and Oracle will be among those in attendance, as will billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. Other corporate participants named in media reports include Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and possibly Facebook. Those four companies have all declined to comment on their plans despite repeated requests, and sources close to Alphabet and IBM only confirmed their participation Thursday. Companies declined to comment for this story.

Politico seems to think that tech workers have more clout with regard to the political activities of their bosses, an interesting point of view.

Indeed, as the leaders of multinational corporations, tech executives have a financial obligation to shareholders to engage the federal government, which sets key industry regulations and, in many cases, buys their products. Some, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, have expressed a moral and patriotic responsibility to weigh in on public policy matters where executives have expertise.

But now companies face growing pressure from their liberal employees and chunks of their customer base to resist the White House over its actions on immigration, climate change and transgender rights. And even though the CEOs have become more vocal in their criticism of Trump — over the Paris pullout, for example — their argument for continued engagement is becoming riskier as Trump's political agenda skews further and further away from the progressive worldview.

And that could have workforce implications. Technology workers, particularly engineers, hold special sway over their bosses compared to employees in other industries. They have in-demand technical skills that companies often struggle to find, and often have more leeway to speak their mind with less fear of reprisal.

So is it true that tech workers have more pull than the average corporate cog? Will this affect technology policy of the Untied States of America?

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Monday June 19, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the up-in-arms dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Australia has announced national gun amnesty, allowing people to hand in illegal or unregistered firearms to authorities. The move is aimed at curbing growing numbers of illegal weapons and comes amid an increased terrorist threat.

[...] The program starts on July 1 and within three months – until September 30 – anyone who possesses an unwanted or unregistered firearm, or a firearm-related item such as ammunition, can legally dispose of or register their firearm at "approved drop-off points in each State and Territory", without fear of being prosecuted, Justice Minister said.

Outside the amnesty period, however, those who are caught with illegal guns could face a fine of up to AU$280,000 (US$212,000), up to 14 years in prison and a criminal record.

“My expectation is it will probably not be the case that we will have hardened criminals who have made a big effort to get a hold on illegal guns would necessarily hand them in. The purpose is to reduce the number of unregistered and illicit firearms in the community,” Keenan said, as cited by AAP.

[...] Earlier this month, the authorities announced plans to build its first prison solely for militants with extreme views to prevent the radicalization of other inmates.

Source: RT

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Sunday June 18, @11:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the telling-half-the-story dept.

Diane Ravitch, a top public education advocate, reports via AlterNet:

This month, the Public Broadcasting System is broadcasting a "documentary" that tells a one-sided story, the story that [Trump's Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos herself would tell, based on the work of free-market advocate Andrew Coulson. Author of "Market Education", Coulson narrates "School, Inc.", a three-hour program, which airs this month nationwide in three weekly broadcasts on PBS.

Uninformed viewers who see this slickly produced program will learn about the glories of unregulated schooling, for-profit schools, teachers selling their lessons to students on the Internet. They will learn about the "success" of the free market in schooling in Chile, Sweden, and New Orleans. They will hear about the miraculous charter schools across America, and how public school officials selfishly refuse to encourage the transfer of public funds to private institutions. They will see a glowing portrait of South Korea, where students compete to get the highest possible scores on a college entry test that will define the rest of their lives and where families gladly pay for after-school tutoring programs and online lessons to boost test scores. They will hear that the free market is more innovative than public schools.

What they will not see or hear is the other side of the story. They will not hear scholars discuss the high levels of social segregation in Chile, nor will they learn that the students protesting the free-market schools in the streets are not all "Communists", as Coulson suggests. They will not hear from scholars who blame Sweden's choice system for the collapse of its international test scores. They will not see any reference to Finland, which far outperforms any other European nation on international tests yet has neither vouchers nor charter schools. They may not notice the absence of any students in wheelchairs or any other evidence of students with disabilities in the highly regarded KIPP charter schools. They will not learn that the acclaimed American Indian Model Charter Schools in Oakland does not enroll any American Indians, but has a student body that is 60 percent Asian American in a city where that group is 12.8 percent of the student population. Nor will they see any evidence of greater innovation in voucher schools or charter schools than in properly funded public schools.

[...] This program is paid propaganda. It does not search for the truth. It does not present opposing points of view. It is an advertisement for the demolition of public education and for an unregulated free market in education. PBS might have aired a program that debates these issues, but "School Inc." does not.

It is puzzling that PBS would accept millions of dollars for this lavish and one-sided production from a group of foundations with a singular devotion to the privatization of public services. The decision to air this series is even stranger when you stop to consider that these kinds of anti-government political foundations are likely to advocate for the elimination of public funding for PBS. After all, in a free market of television, where there are so many choices available, why should the federal government pay for a television channel?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday June 18, @02:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the Turkish-coffee dept.

Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has furiously condemned the US decision to issue arrest warrants to 12 members of his security detail because of their involvement in a bloody brawl with peaceful protesters in Washington DC last month.

In a dramatic escalation of tensions between two Nato allies, Erdoğan said on Thursday that his government would "fight politically and judicially" against the warrants that had been issued earlier in the day.

[...] The ministry said in a statement that the ambassador was told the decision to issue arrest warrants was "wrong, biased and lacks legal basis".

"That the brawl in front of the Turkish Ambassador's Residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures; that this incident would not have occurred if the US authorities had taken the usual measures they take in similar high level visits and therefore that Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place," the statement said.

Erdoğan echoed these statements in televised remarks on Thursday night. "Why would I take my guards to the United States if not to protect myself?" he said.

[...] US senator John McCain called for Turkey's ambassador to the US to be removed from the country because of the fight and to charge those involved with the incident.

"After all, they violated American laws in the United States of America, so you cannot have that happen in the United States of America," McCain told MSNBC last month. "People have the right in our country to peacefully demonstrate and they were peacefully demonstrating."

The House committee on foreign affairs echoed the senators' call in a letter to secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. "Alarmingly, this behavior is indicative of the broad crackdowns on political activists, journalists and religious freedom in Turkey that have greatly harmed Turkish democracy in recent years," the letter said.

Source: The Guardian

In 2011 an incident happened at the UN, Ban-Ki Moon apologized to Turkey for a "misunderstanding" which left UN security officers injured.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Friday June 16, @07:24PM   Printer-friendly

President Trump has placed some restrictions on travel to Cuba, but has not entirely undone the changes that former President Obama made in his second term:

In an overhaul of one of his predecessor's signature legacies, President Donald Trump will redraw U.S. policy toward Cuba on Friday, tightening travel restrictions for Americans that had been loosened under President Barack Obama and banning U.S. business transactions with Cuba's vast military conglomerate.

Trump's changes are intended to sharply curtail cash flow to the Cuban government and pressure its communist leaders to let the island's fledgling private sector grow. Diplomatic relations reestablished by Obama, including reopened embassies in Washington and Havana, will remain. Travel and money sent by Cuban Americans will be unaffected, but Americans will be unable to spend money in state-run hotels or restaurants tied to the military, a significant prohibition.

Editorials for and against the rollback.

Previously: Deal Will Allow Up to 110 U.S. Flights to Cuba Daily
President Obama Visits Cuba
USA Ends "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" Policy for Cuban Migrants

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Wednesday June 14, @11:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-like-old-times dept.

The Republican-led Senate voted decisively to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by approving a wide-ranging sanctions package that targets key sectors of Russia's economy and individuals who carried out cyber attacks.

Senators on Wednesday passed the bipartisan sanctions legislation 97-2, underscoring broad support among Republicans and Democrats for rebuking Russia after U.S. intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the presidential campaign. Lawmakers who backed the measure also cited Russia's aggression in Syria and Ukraine.


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday June 14, @04:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the no-baseball-jokes dept.

A gunman opened fire at U.S. Congressmen and others who were gathered at a practice this morning for the Congressional Baseball Game. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and at least four others were reportedly injured. The gunman, who has been identified by unnamed sources as James T. Hodgkinson III, was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries:

A gunman unleashed a barrage of gunfire Wednesday at a park in Alexandria, Va., as Republican members of Congress held a morning baseball practice, wounding at least five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.).

The suspected gunman is James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, from Illinois, according to multiple law enforcement sources. President Trump announced that the gunman, who was wounded in a shootout with officers, has died at an area hospital.

The wounded also included two Capitol Police officers and a congressional aide, according to one law enforcement official and witness accounts.

Congressman Scalise was shot in the hip and is in stable condition.

Hodgkinson's motive may have already been identified by the media:

A Facebook page belonging to a person with the same name includes pictures of Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and rhetoric against President Trump, including a post that reads: "Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co."

Charles Orear, 50, a restaurant manager from St. Louis, said in an interview Wednesday that he became friendly with Hodgkinson during their work together in Iowa on Sanders's campaign. Orear said Hodgkinson was a passionate progressive and showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.

Also at LA Times, Reuters, The Atlantic, The Hill, and CNN.

Original Submission