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posted by martyb on Monday October 07, @01:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the good-luck-with-that dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Working-level nuclear talks in Sweden between officials from Pyongyang and Washington have broken off, North Korea's top negotiator has said, dashing prospects for an end to months of stalemate.

The talks, at an isolated conference centre on the outskirts of Stockholm, were the first such formal discussions since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June and agreed to restart negotiations that stalled after a failed summit in Vietnam in February.

The North's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, who spent much of the day in talks with an American delegation, cast the blame on what he portrayed as US inflexibility, saying the other side's negotiators would not "give up their old viewpoint and attitude".

"The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectation and finally broke off," Kim told reporters outside the North Korean embassy, speaking through an interpreter.

The US State Department said Kim's comments did not reflect "the content or spirit" of nearly nine hours of talks, and Washington had accepted Sweden's invitation to return for more discussions with Pyongyang in two weeks.

"The US brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. North Korea is also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

She said the US delegation had previewed a number of new initiatives that would pave the way for progress in the talks, and underscored the importance of more intensive engagement.

[...] On Saturday, negotiator Kim accused the US of having no intention of solving difficulties through dialogue, but said a complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was still possible.

It would only happen "when all the obstacles that threaten our safety and check our development are removed completely without a shadow of doubt," he said, in an apparent reference to North Korea's desire for Washington to ease economic pressure.

On Sunday, China's President Xi Jinping and the North's leader exchanged messages to reaffirm the neighbours' relationship on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. China is the North's only major ally.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday October 05, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the fake-news dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Rights groups, tech companies, academics and journalists opposed the law, which they say threatens free speech.

A "fake news" law, decried by academics, activists and tech giants, has gone into effect in Singapore, despite warnings that the measures could be used to stifle dissent and free speech in the South East Asian island country.

The law, which was passed by Singapore's parliament in May but took effect on Wednesday, gives government ministers powers to order social media companies to put warnings next to posts authorities deem to be false, order some content to be removed and in some cases block websites deemed to be propagating false information contrary to "public interest".

In April, shortly before the bill passed, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said the legislation was an "essential part" of fighting fake news and hate speech. 

[...] Over 170 academics signed a letter saying the legislation had been fast-tracked without proper input from "key civil society actors."

The law is "likely to have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and academic freedom in Singapore", they said.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday October 01, @06:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-to-elect-criminals dept.

Reuters, BBC report on the resignation of Rep congressman Chris Collins before the enquiry into insiders trading

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chris Collins, a Republican U.S. congressman from New York state, resigned on Monday ahead of his expected guilty plea in a criminal insider trading case.

A senior Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity said Monday that the office of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi had received Collins' letter of resignation, and that it would become effective Tuesday.

Collins, 69, is scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal that day to enter his guilty plea, court records show. Collins' son, Cameron Collins, and another man, Stephen Zarsky, are also scheduled to plead guilty in the case on Thursday.

Chris Collins, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, represents New York's 27th Congressional District, which includes areas surrounding Buffalo and Rochester. He won reelection last November, three months after he was criminally charged.


He was arrested by the FBI last August after prosecutors alleged that he alerted his son to a failed drug trial, allowing him to divest and avoid more than $500,000 (£406,000) in losses.

Prosecutors allege that he called his son in June 2017 after receiving an email during the congressional picnic at the White House, informing him of the failed drug trial results involving Innate Immunotherapeutics, a company in which his son owned thousands of shares.

Mr Collins immediately told the trial failure news to his son, who in turn told his fiance, Lauren Zarsky, and her parents, Dorothy and Stephen Zarsky, prosecutors allege.
Prosecutors said the congressman was "virtually precluded" from trading, in part because he already faced a congressional ethics probe over Innate.

However, prosecutors said others used the insider information to avoid more than $768,000 in losses when Innate's share price plunged 92 per cent after news of the drug's failure became public.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday September 28, @06:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the Politics dept.

More (and ongoing) developments on the Whistleblower/Ukraine thing:

House Speaker Pelosi has begun an inquiry into impeachment of the president:

The (live at the time of this submission: 2019-09-26 14:30 UTC) House Intelligence interview of the Acting Director of National Security:

The unclassified-version of the whistleblower complaint was released:

As was the memo/pseudo-transcript (not 100% guaranteed as they are hand-typed, no recordings of calls are made any more in the US in the aftermath of Watergate) on the call between Presidents Trump and Zelenskyy[*]:

[*] Yes, Zelenskyy, see: Zelensky, Zelenskiy, Zelenskyy: spelling confusion doesn't help Ukraine.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 27, @08:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the We-don't-need-no-steenkin-facts! dept.

Facebook this week finally put into writing what users—especially politically powerful users—have known for years: its community "standards" do not, in fact, apply across the whole community. Speech from politicians is officially exempt from the platform's fact checking and decency standards, the company has clarified, with a few exceptions.

Facebook communications VP Nick Clegg, himself a former member of the UK Parliament, outlined the policy in a speech and company blog post Tuesday.

Facebook has had a "newsworthiness exemption" to its content guidelines since 2016. That policy was formalized in late October of that year amid a contentious and chaotic US political season and three weeks before the presidential election that would land Donald Trump the White House.

Facebook at the time was uncertain how to handle posts from the Trump campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported. Sources told the paper that Facebook employees were sharply divided over the candidate's rhetoric about Muslim immigrants and his stated desire for a Muslim travel ban, which several felt were in violation of the service's hate speech standards. Eventually, the sources said, CEO Mark Zuckerberg weighed in directly and said it would be inappropriate to intervene. Months later, Facebook finally issued its policy.

"We're going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest—even if they might otherwise violate our standards," Facebook wrote at the time.

Source: ArsTechnica

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 26, @06:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the in-the-balance dept.

As China's footprint grows, Taiwan wants to keep its few formal allies close while deepening informal links with world.

The first to go was the Solomon Islands, which broke with Taiwan on September 16 ending a 36-year diplomatic relationship.

Four days later, it was Kiribati. The Pacific island nation had established diplomatic relations with Taipei in 2003.

Both countries were wooed by China with offers of development aid and assistance.

"If we give up now, Taiwan's future generations will lose their sovereignty, their freedom, and their democracy; we will lose everything."

In all, seven countries have severed ties with Taiwan since Tsai, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), came to office three years ago. It now has formal diplomatic relations with just 15 nations, including the Vatican.

Some 70 years after China's nationalists fled the mainland to establish their capital in Taipei, the diplomatic tide has now almost completely turned in favour of the communist-led government in Beijing.

Shaohua Hu, professor in government and politics at New York's Wagner College and author of the 2017 book Foreign Policies towards Taiwan, noted that China's efforts to pick off Taiwan's political allies was a political strategy.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 25, @02:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the constitutional-upset dept.

Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Mr Johnson suspended - or prorogued - Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, but judges said it was wrong to stop MPs carrying out duties in the run-up to Brexit on 31 October.

Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme."

[...]Delivering its conclusions, the Supreme Court's president, Lady Hale, said: "The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification."

Lady Hale said the unanimous decision of the 11 justices meant Parliament had effectively not been prorogued - the decision was null and of no effect.

She added that it was important to emphasise the case was "not about when and on what terms" the UK left the EU, but about the decision to suspend Parliament.

Speaker of the Commons John Bercow said MPs needed to return "in light of the explicit judgement", and he had "instructed the House of Commons authorities to prepare... for the resumption of business" from 11:30 BST on Wednesday.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 24, @01:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the Watergate-or-TeapotTempest dept.

(Note: emphasis in original.)

Why is this important?

Mr Trump's most ardent critics accuse him of using the powers of the presidency to bully Ukraine into digging up damaging information on a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump and his supporters the former vice-president abused his power to pressure Ukraine to back away from a criminal investigation that could implicate his son, Hunter.

Mr Biden is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to take on Mr Trump next year.

In other words, it is nothing less than the White House at stake.

[...] What happened to the whistleblower's complaint?

After receiving the [whistleblower] complaint, the inspector general informed Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, and said the matter was "urgent". The intelligence community whistleblower law says the director has seven days to pass the complaint along to congressional intelligence committees.

That didn't happen.

Instead, Mr Maguire spoke to a lawyer who told him the issue was not "urgent", at least according to legal standards, according to [T]he New York Times.

As a result, Mr Maguire decided that the members of the congressional oversight committees did not need to see it.

On 9 September, the inspector general informed Congress about the complaint's existence, but not the details. Democrats in Congress have since clamoured for more information - including a transcript of Mr Trump's call - but the administration has refused to co-operate.

And that's where things currently stand.

[...] Did Mr Trump commit an impeachable offence?

The constitutional process for handling a president who committed illegal and-or unethical acts is impeachment by a majority of the House of Representatives and conviction and removal by a two-thirds majority of the US Senate.

The US constitution outlines the grounds for impeachment as "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". When it comes down to it, an "impeachable offense" is whatever a majority of the House says it is.

Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Letters to Congressional Intelligence Committees

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 11, @01:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility dept.

At The Hill,

Washington Monthly Executive Editor Gilad Edelman said the perception of Silicon Valley has shifted dramatically among Democrats and Republicans since the 2016 presidential election.

Edelman told Hill.TV that the industry was relatively insulated from criticism and viewed favorably by both parties until President Trump's surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, saying his win "really scrambled a lot these beliefs and intuitions."

"Silicon Valley seems to have gone from an industry with no enemies to an industry with no friends," Edelman said during an interview on "Rising."

"Democrats realized that whatever the CEOs of Google or Facebook might think, these platforms seems to have facilitated Donald Trump's election," he added. "On the right, the fact that Trump could get elected while breaking from some pretty serious orthodoxies — at least superficially on economic matters — meant that maybe there was more room to criticize corporate business practices than conservatives had previously thought."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday September 08, @05:40AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Four major automakers that recently reached an agreement with the state of California to hold to certain emissions standards over the next decade are now the target of a federal antitrust investigation.

Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen confirmed to media they have been contacted about the probe, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

"Honda will work cooperatively with the Department of Justice with regard to the recent emissions agreement reached between the State of California and various automotive manufacturers, including Honda," the company said. BMW and Ford also confirmed receiving a letter from the DOJ, and Volkswagen said it is in "regular contact" with US authorities.

The companies reached an agreement with the California Air Resource Board (CARB) in July to produce cars for the US market that exceed national level-fuel efficiency standards. Under the terms of the deal, the automakers will improve their overall fleets' average fuel efficiency by 3.7% per year, starting with the 2022 model year. The plan also includes certain incentives to promote a transition to widespread manufacture and adoption of electric vehicles.

In a separate action from the DOJ probe, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation also sent a letter (PDF) to "put California on notice."

"This framework agreement appears to be inconsistent with Federal law," the agencies said. "We urge you to act immediately to disassociate CARB from the commitments made by the four automakers. Those commitments may result in legal consequences given the limits placed in Federal law on California's authority."

State leadership, however, does not appear likely to give way in response to the threat. "The Trump Administration has been attempting and failing to bully car companies for months now," California Governor Gavin Newsom said in an emailed statement. "We remain undeterred. California stands up to bullies and will keep fighting for stronger clean car protections that protect the health and safety of our children and families."

CARB chairwoman Mary D. Nichols in an emailed statement said the DOJ "brings its weight to bear against auto companies in an attempt to frighten them out of voluntarily making cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks than EPA wants. Consumers might ask, who is [EPA Administrator] Andy Wheeler protecting?"

Original Submission