2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-08-18 13:49:50 UTC
2019-08-19 13:33:31 UTC
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The Macedonian parliament has begun the process of changing the country's name, ending a long-running dispute with Greece:
Macedonia's parliament has ratified an agreement with Greece to change the former Yugoslav republic's name at a plenary session that was boycotted by the main opposition party.
Lawmakers on June 20 voted 69-0 to ratify the agreement, which changes the country's formal name to the Republic of North Macedonia. [...] Lawmakers on June 19 launched the process of ratifying the accord, as hundreds of protesters gathered in the center of Skopje for a third day to vent anger over the deal.
[...] The agreement, signed by the two countries' foreign ministers on June 17, ends a 27-year dispute between Athens and Skopje and paves the way for Macedonia to begin membership talks with the European Union and NATO.
But it will take months to complete and faces several hurdles along the way, with President Gjorge Ivanov pledging to veto the deal. That would force lawmakers to repeat the vote, and if the deal is ratified again – this time with an absolute majority -- then Ivanov will be unable to block it.
When Republicans in Congress passed a big, fat tax break bill in December, they insisted it meant American workers would be singing "Happy Days Are Here Again" all the way to the bank. The payoff from the tax cut would be raises totaling $4,000 to $9,000, the President's Council of Economic Advisers assured workers. But something bad happened to workers on their way to the repository. They never got that money.
In fact, their real wages declined because of higher inflation. At the same time, the amount workers had to pay in interest on loans for cars and credit cards increased. And, to top it off, Republicans threatened to make workers pay for the tax break with cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. So now, workers across America are wondering, "Where's that raise?". It's nowhere to be found.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that wages for production and nonsupervisory workers decreased by 0.1 percent from May 2017 to May 2018 when inflation is factored in. The compensation for all workers together, including supervisors, rose an underwhelming 0.1 percent from April 2018 to May 2018.
That's not what congressional Republicans promised workers. They said corporations, which got the biggest, fattest tax cuts of all, would use that extra money to increase wages. Some workers got one-time bonuses and an even smaller number received raises. But not many. The group Americans for Tax Fairness estimates it's 4.3 percent of all U.S. workers.
The New York Times story about this record breaker describes the phenomena this way: "Companies buy back their shares when they believe they have nothing better to do with their money than to return capital to shareholders." So despite promises from the GOP and the President's Council of Economic Advisers, corporations believed further enriching their own executives and shareholders was a much better way to use the money than increasing workers' wages--wages that have been stagnant for decades.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the United States is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday, accusing the body of bias against US ally Israel and a failure to hold human rights abusers accountable. The move, which the Trump administration has threatened for months, came down one day after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border as "unconscionable."
Speaking from the State Department, where she was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haley defended the move to withdraw from the council, saying US calls for reform were not heeded. "Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council," said Haley, listing US grievances with the body. "The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape its scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in its ranks."
The Pentagon confirmed Monday that major U.S. military exercises this summer in South Korea would be suspended, following President Trump's decision.
'We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should,' Trump told reporters after his meeting last Tuesday with Kim in Singapore. 'But we'll be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative.'
The United States Senate has passed an amendment that reinstates the ban on Chinese telecoms concern ZTE doing business with US-based companies.
President Trump said he’d secured a reversal of the ban as a personal favour to Chinese president Xi Jinping in the hope that the show of good faith would ease trade negotiations between the two nations. ZTE was banned from dealing with US firms for flouting laws about exporting to Iran and North Korea. The ban cut ZTE off from critical component-makers like Qualcomm and led to it shuttering production lines and resellers dumping its products.
Trump's plan to have his friendship with Xi ease tensions appears not to have worked, in the short term at least, because the Trump administration today issued a statement that said “China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology” and therefore threatening tariffs on US$200bn of Chinese goods.
The threat came after Trump last week announced tariffs on $50bn of Chinese goods, sparking retaliatory tariffs on about $35bn of US-made goods from China.
All of which doesn’t look like that personal favour worked out as planned.
Back to the ZTE vote, as it saw US Senators from both sides of politics decry the removal of the ban on grounds of national security. A joint statement from senior Republican and Democratic senators read: “We're heartened that both parties made it clear that protecting American jobs and national security must come first when making deals with countries like China, which has a history of having little regard for either. It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads towards a conference.”
And there’s the rub, because the US House of Representatives has passed a version of the same bill without the ZTE ban. Reconciling the bill may yet see ZTE given a lifeline, although the Senate vote passed 85 votes to 10 so there’s clearly not much will for a reversal.
California's 168-year run as a single entity, hugging the continent's edge for hundreds of miles and sprawling east across mountains and desert, could come to an end next year — as a controversial plan to split the Golden State into three new jurisdictions qualified Tuesday for the Nov. 6 ballot.
If a majority of voters who cast ballots agree, a long and contentious process would begin for three separate states to take the place of California, with one primarily centered around Los Angeles and the other two divvying up the counties to the north and south. Completion of the radical plan — far from certain, given its many hurdles at judicial, state and federal levels — would make history.
It would be the first division of an existing U.S. state since the creation of West Virginia in 1863.
The man who lives in the Blaine House in Augusta, Maine, was, for many, a sneak preview of the 45th president of the United States. Like Donald Trump, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has transformed the face of government with his politically incorrect brand of conservatism — and he did it despite winning less than a majority of votes. LePage won a seven-way Republican primary for governor in 2010 with 37 percent of the vote, and he beat a Democrat and three independents in the general with just 38 percent.
Eight years later, it's far from clear that LePage would have a path to victory if he were running now in the Republican primary for governor. That's because, partly in response to LePage's plurality wins, Maine on Tuesday will become the first state to use ranked-choice voting to decide a statewide election. So not only are there races in Maine we'll be watching, but the process matters too. And if Maine voters don't pass an initiative reauthorizing the voting method at the same time, this real-life political-science experiment will be cut short.
The question of keeping ranked-choice in place for future primaries and Congressional races in the general election led 54-46 percent with 57% of precincts reporting at 12:05 AM EDT.
Maine's Governor Paul LePage has threatened to not certify the results, but that doesn't matter according to Maine's Secretary of State:
Gov. LePage on Tuesday says he "probably" won't certify results from the voter-approved ranked-choice voting system.
Maine law requires the secretary of state to tabulate results and get them to the governor within 20 days of an election. The governor "shall" certify them within a reasonable time period, but Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, said this only applies to state general elections and not primaries. "He can bluster all he wants, but he can't change the results," Dunlap said.
Two American diplomats stationed in China were reportedly evacuated from the region after being sickened by a mysterious ailment linked to odd sounds.
The two Americans evacuated worked at the American Consulate in the southern city of Guangzhou, the New York Times reported Wednesday, adding that their colleagues and relatives are also being tested by a State Department medical team.
American officials have been worried for months that American diplomats and their families in Cuba -- and now China -- have been subjected to a "sonic attack," leading to symptoms similar to those "following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury," the State Department said in a statement Tuesday.
The new cases broaden a medical mystery that began affecting American diplomats and their families in Cuba in 2016. Since then, 24 Americans stationed in Havana have experienced dizziness, headaches, fatigue, hearing loss and cognitive issues, the State Department said.
[...] The nature of the injury, and whether a common cause exists, hasn't been established yet, the department said.
Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow8317
Trump has nominated Geoffrey Starks as the FCC's newest Commissioner, but little is known about his views.
It's now clear who will (likely) take FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn's seat now that she's stepping down. President Trump has signaled his intent to nominate Geoffrey Starks to fulfill the remainder of a five-year Commissioner term that began on June 30th, 2017, when Clyburn's stint officially ended. The transition will take place if and when the Senate confirms his appointment, although there's a good chance of that happening when Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has backed the nomination. Just how this will shape the FCC's decisions remains murky, though.
Starks has been an assistant bureau chief at the FCC enforcement division for the past three years, and before then was a senior counsel for the Justice Department. He's the classic heads-down regulator, then. However, that's about all people know. It's not yet certain where he stands on net neutrality or the FCC's overall anti-regulatory stance under Chairman Ajit Pai.
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
On the 29th anniversary of the crackdown in Beijing, protesters are reenacting the historic face-off between a lone man and a Chinese tank. [...] Better known as “Tank Man”, he is one of the most enduring images of China’s violent military crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, known in China as liusi, or June 4th.
On the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, protesters are reenacting the face-off under hashtags including #Tankman2018, #Tankmen2018, a campaign started by Chinese artist and cartoonist, Badiucao. According to Badiucao, Tank Man represents “something lost in China’s young generation now — the idealism, passion, sense of responsibility, and confidence that an individual can make a change”, he said. “Tank Man is very relevant today and people should see it. Society has not changed much since the massacre for the oppression has never stopped”.