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posted by martyb on Friday June 05, @04:22AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the the-elephant-in-the-room dept.

A serious divide exists among Trump advisers over how to address nights of protests and riots in US after Floyd's death

Trump is being urged by some advisers to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn the rioting and looting more forcefully or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November, according to several sources familiar with the deliberations.

[...] During a staff call Friday, Trump's top domestic policy aide Brooke Rollins argued for a measured response to riots the night before, advice that was echoed by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Several advisers feared, and hoped to avoid, another Charlottesville moment, when Trump was criticized after declaring in 2017 that "very fine people" were among the Nazi mobs that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia.

[...] While aides like Kushner have pushed for a more restrained response, Trump is also hearing from several advisers who warned that by not condemning the protests after the death of Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man, that turned into rioting and looting, he is risking losing some demographics that will be key to his election victory in November, like suburban women voters.

As Protests and Violence Spill Over, Trump Shrinks Back

The president spent Sunday out of sight, berating opponents on Twitter, even as some of his campaign advisers were recommending that he deliver a televised address to an anxious nation.

how the George Floyd protests left Donald Trump exposed

“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon – and I mean very soon – come to an end.”
These were the words of Donald Trump, not in May 2020 but July 2016, as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Cleveland.

[...] Not even Trump’s harshest critics can blame him for a virus believed to have come from a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, nor for an attendant economic collapse, nor for four centuries of slavery, segregation, police brutality and racial injustice.

But they can, and do, point to how he made a bad situation so much worse. The story of Trump’s presidency was arguably always leading to this moment, with its toxic mix of weak moral leadership, racial divisiveness, crass and vulgar rhetoric and an erosion of norms, institutions and trust in traditional information sources. Taken together, these ingredients created a tinderbox poised to explode when crises came.

Antifa: Trump says group will be designated 'terrorist organisation'

"It's ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don't lay the blame on others!" Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 27, @12:31PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the fact-checking dept.

Twitter adds label to Trump's misleading tweets about mail-in ballots:

Twitter said Tuesday that it added a label to President Donald Trump's tweets for containing "potentially misleading information about voting processes," a rare move that shows the social media company is taking a tougher stance against misinformation.

It's the first time that Twitter has displayed a label on Trump's tweets.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that "There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-in-Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent," a claim that has been debunked by fact-checkers and news organizations. He continues his remarks in another tweet, stating that it will be a "Rigged election."

A label appears under both tweets that states "Get the facts about mail-in ballots." Clicking on the warning notice directs users to a page that states that fact-checkers say there isn't any evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud. Trump also falsely states in the tweets that California will send mail-in ballots to "anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there" when only registered voters will receive ballots. States such as Oregon, Utah and Washington have long conducted elections by mail only, while states such as Nebraska allow any voter to request a ballot and vote by mail without having to provide a reason.

A Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement that the decision is in line with how the company approaches misinformation on its site, which includes adding warning notices and labels depending on the likelihood and severity of harm a tweet could cause.

Twitter's actions against Trump's tweets will also likely increase tensions between the company and conservative users, who allege that the social network suppresses their speech. Twitter has repeatedly denied those allegations. Earlier this month, Trump tweeted that the "Radical Left" is in control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google and said his administration is working on a solution.

In two tweets, Trump accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 US presidential election.

"Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!," he tweeted.

Also at BBC News, Ars Technica, MIT Technology Review

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 18, @10:08AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

COVID-19 Has Blown Away the Myth About 'First' and 'Third' World Competence:

One of the planet's – and Africa's – deepest prejudices is being demolished by the way countries handle COVID-19.

For as long as any of us remember, everyone "knew" that "First World" countries – in effect, Western Europe and North America – were much better at providing their citizens with a good life than the poor and incapable states of the "Third World". "First World" has become shorthand for competence, sophistication and the highest political and economic standards.

[...] So we should have expected the state-of-the-art health systems of the "First World", spurred on by their aware and empowered citizens, to handle COVID-19 with relative ease, leaving the rest of the planet to endure the horror of buckling health systems and mass graves.

We have seen precisely the opposite.

[...] [Britain and the US] have ignored the threat. When they were forced to act, they sent mixed signals to citizens which encouraged many to act in ways which spread the infection. Neither did anything like the testing needed to control the virus. Both failed to equip their hospitals and health workers with the equipment they needed, triggering many avoidable deaths.

The failure was political. The US is the only rich country with no national health system. An attempt by former president Barack Obama to extend affordable care was watered down by right-wing resistance, then further gutted by the current president and his party. Britain's much-loved National Health Service has been weakened by spending cuts. Both governments failed to fight the virus in time because they had other priorities.

And yet, in Britain, the government's popularity ratings are sky high and it is expected to win the next election comfortably. The US president is behind in the polls but the contest is close enough to make his re-election a real possibility. Can there be anything more typically "Third World" than citizens supporting a government whose actions cost thousands of lives?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday May 14, @12:57AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the big-surprise dept.

[20200514_131223 UTC: Updated to add links from original source.--martyb]

The US Senate voted down an amendment to the USA Patriot Act on Wednesday that would create a tougher standard for government investigators to collect the web search and browsing histories of people in the states. The bipartisan amendment, proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, and Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a Republican, would've required the Department of Justice to show probable cause when requesting approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to collect the data for counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigations.

Later Wednesday, the Senate voted to approve a separate bipartisan amendment that would expand a program that reviews some FISA Court requests and provides advice to judges on privacy and civil liberties concerns.

Before the vote on the browsing history issue, Daines told the Senate the bill was necessary to keep the government from intruding into the most sensitive information of internet users in the US. "If you want to see an American's search history, then you better go to a judge and get a warrant," he said.

The amendment required 60 votes to pass and failed with a final tally of 59 ayes and 37 nays. A separate amendment drafted by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, would expressly allow the collection of web search and browsing data under section 215 of the Patriot Act, which doesn't require that investigators show probable cause. The Wyden-Daines amendment, by contrast, would've given government the ability to request the data under a separate part of the law, Title I, which does require probable cause.

Senate rejects tougher standards for collection of search and browsing dat

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday May 08, @11:03AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it-just-leaked dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Public health experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have leaked their recommendations on how to safely reopen businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic—after officials in the Trump administration rejected the guidance and allegedly told CDC officials their plan would "never see the light of day."

The 17-page document (PDF found here) was initially set to be published last Friday but was nixed. Instead, it was released to the Associated Press by a CDC official who was not authorized to release it.

The guidance lays out detailed, phased recommendations for how to safely reopen child care programs, schools, day camps, faith communities, businesses with vulnerable workers, restaurants, bars, and mass transit. Though some of the general points laid out already appear on federal websites—such as an emphasis on hand hygiene—the document uniquely offers tailored recommendations for each type of business.

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday April 21, @11:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Senate panel wants stricter oversight of Chinese telecoms:

[...] The Wall Street Journal understands that the Senate Permanent Subcommitee on Investigations will issue a report demanding stricter oversight of Chinese telecoms operating in the US, arguing that they otherwise pose an "unacceptable" national security risk. The panel also blasts officials for allegedly being too soft on these telecoms across multiple administrations, pointing to 18 years of supposedly lax screening.

The panel criticizes several regulators (nicknamed Team Telecom) for finding no concerns when China Telecom and China Unicom, both state-run, got licenses to operate in the US in 2002. A risk mitigation deal in 2007 gave those regulators the power to visit China Telecom, but they only used that twice (in 2017 and 2018), according to the Senate panel's findings.

American officials have stepped their scrutiny of China over the years. Team Telecom has asked the FCC to revoke China Telecom's license, and it's no secret that the US has clamped down on equipment makers like Huawei and ZTE. However, this panel could help foster an even more aggressive stance.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday April 21, @04:14AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the help-where-it-is-needed,-not-just-where-it-is-wanted dept.

Denmark extended the duration of its aid programs to businesses and workers and added some new measures to increase spending by about 100 billion kroner ($15 billion).

The government agreed with all parties in parliament to keep aid measures available until July 8, a month longer than previously planned, according to a statement on Saturday. Companies will now be able to get back some value added tax (VAT) payments they made last year as zero-interest loans.

The government also said that companies which pay out dividends, buy back own shares or are registered in tax havens won't be eligible for any of the aid programs, which now amount to a total of 400 billion kroner, when including loans and guarantees.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 15, @08:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the the-sordid-art-of-deflection dept.

BBC: Coronavirus: US to halt funding to WHO, says Trump

US President Donald Trump has said he is going to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) because it has "failed in its basic duty" in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

[...] Mr Trump has been under fire for his own handling of the pandemic.

He has sought to deflect persistent criticism that he acted too slowly to stop the virus's spread by pointing to his decision in late January to place restrictions on travel from China.

[...] The US is the global health body's largest single funder and gave it more than $400m in 2019.

A decision on whether the US resumes funding will be made after the review, which Mr Trump said would last 60 to 90 days.

[...] China gave about $86m in 2018-19; UK gives most of any country apart from the US

[...] The organisation launched an appeal in March for $675m to help fight the pandemic and is reported to be planning a fresh appeal for at least $1bn.

Reuters: Trump halts World Health Organization funding amid coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic while his administration reviews its response to the global crisis.

Trump told a White House news conference the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” He said the group had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred.

[...] The hold on funding was expected. Trump has been increasingly critical of the organization as the global health crisis has continued, and he has reacted angrily to criticism of his administration’s response.

[...] U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday it was “not the time” to reduce resources for the body.

“Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” he said.

American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris called it “a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier” and urged Trump to reconsider.

[...] The Republican president recently accused the WHO of being too lenient with China in the earliest days of the crisis, despite having himself praised China in January for its response and transparency.

Trump has made frequent use of scapegoats during his short political career. He often lashes out at the media, Democrats, or others when he feels attacked or under pressure.

The Guardian: Trump turns against WHO to mask his own stark failings on Covid-19 crisis

Donald Trump’s declared suspension of funding of the World Health Organisation in the midst of a pandemic is confirmation – if any were needed – that he is in search of scapegoats for his administration’s much delayed and chaotic response to the crisis.

The US is the WHO’s biggest donor, with funding over $400m a year in both assessed contributions (membership fees) and donations – though it is actually $200m in arrears. [pdf]

Theoretically the White House cannot block funding of international institutions mandated by Congress. But the administration has found ways around such constitutional hurdles on other issues – by simply failing to disburse funds or apply sanctions, for example.

The funding could be formally rescinded, but that would require Senate approval, or “reprogrammed” by being diverted to another purpose that the White House could argue is consistent with the will of Congress.

[...] The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had to fly to Beijing to meet Xi Jinping on 29 January to negotiate entry and information sharing. A WHO team was allowed to visit Wuhan on 22 February. Tedros has been criticised for his flattery of Xi and the Chinese response, in the face of Beijing’s obstructionism and cover-up attempts. His defenders said that such diplomacy was the price for entry.

Trump did more than his own fair share of Xi flattery. On 24 January, the president tweeted “China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus … The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.”

The claim that the delay in the WHO acquiring samples crippled the international response is also false. Chinese scientists publicly released the genetic sequence of Covid-19 on 11 January.

[...] By early February the WHO was in a position to distribute a Covid-19 test worldwide, but the US government opted not to have it fast-tracked through approval. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instead produced its own test at about the same time, but it was flawed and had to be recalled. US testing would be set back more than six weeks compared to the rest of the world.

While virtually no testing was under way in the US throughout February, Trump assumed the consequently low number of confirmed US cases meant that his country had somehow escaped. “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” he boasted on 24 February, nearly a month after the WHO declaration of emergency. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health [Organisation] have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday April 15, @05:06AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the follow-the-money dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

In the wake of reports last month that four US senators sold stocks shortly after a classified briefing on January 24 about the risk posed by the novel coronavirus, Timothy Carambat, a mechanical and software engineer, created a website to make stock sales by every senator more visible.

In an email to The Register, Carambat, who runs a design firm based in Covington, Louisiana, called Industrial Object, explained he was motivated to create Senate Stock Watcher after news broke that Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) had dumped stocks before most people in America understood the implications of the outbreak. It is illegal for senators to buy and sell shares using non-public information.

Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been sued for alleged securities fraud, a charge he has denied. It is said he unloaded up to $1.7m in stocks in mid-February, particularly in hotel groups that would be later hit hard by the virus pandemic, all while receiving daily confidential briefings about the impact of the bio-nasty – and reassuring the public everything would be fine.

"As public servants, there are some senators making alarmingly large money movements at what would seem to be very fortunate timing in the market," Carambat said.

"I understand some senators were previously very accomplished businesspeople, but in my opinion, the level of access they have to information currently is highly privileged and it would only make sense to keep their own financial best interests at heart."

Details about the stock sales in news reports prompted Carambat to look into the source of the data, which turned out to be the US Senate Financial Disclosures website.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday April 12, @09:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Cover-of-darkness dept.

China's devious move under cover of virus

As outbreaks debilitate the US navy, there are fears China may be using the coronavirus pandemic as cover for asserting control over the South China Sea.

A Vietnamese fishing boat has been rammed and sunk. Military aircraft have landed at its artificial-island fortresses. And large-scale naval exercises has let everyone know China's navy is still pushing the boundaries, hard.

Meanwhile, the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier strike group has retreated from the contested waterway in an unscheduled return to Guam – with hundreds of cases of COVID-19 on board.

China's Peoples Liberation Army knows this presents an opportunity.

"The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly lowered the US Navy's warship deployment capability in the Asia-Pacific region," an article on its official website declares.

The website insists not a single one of its soldiers, sailors or pilots had contracted COVID-19. Instead, the crisis had served to strengthen the combat readiness and resolve of the Chinese military.

That has international affairs analysts worried that even a short-term withdrawal of US and international from the East and South China Seas could give Beijing the opportunity it has been waiting for.

"I think China is exploiting the US Navy's coronavirus challenges to improve its position in the South China Sea by giving the appearance it can and will operate there at will while the US is hamstrung," former Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Centre director Carl Schuster told CNN.

(2020-01-09) China Initiates Conflict with Indonesia in the South China Sea
(2019-12-21) Malaysian Top Envoy: China's 'Nine-Dash Line' Claim 'Ridiculous'
(2019-11-22) US Warships Sail in Disputed South China Sea Amid Tensions
(2019-05-14) China Builds New Type 002 Mega Carrier as the Age of Sea Power Wanes
(2018-05-13) China Begins Sea Trials for its First Domestically Developed Aircraft Carrier
(2017-12-24) World's Largest Amphibious Plane in Production Takes Flight in China
(2017-05-25) US Warship Challenges China's Claims in South China Sea
(2017-04-26) China Launches Aircraft Carrier
(2017-03-14) Japan to Send its Biggest Warship to the South China Sea
(2017-01-13) Chinese State Media Boasts About its New Electronic Reconnaissance Ship
(2016-07-14) China's South China Sea Claims Rejected By "Binding" but Unenforceable Tribunal Ruling

Original Submission