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posted by martyb on Tuesday June 26 2018, @07:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the who-you-gonna-trust? dept.

Apple News will feature a dedicated section for 2018 US Midterm Elections 'fact-based' news

Apple is launching a dedicated section in Apple News to cover the US midterm elections. US Apple users will be able to view the latest updates for the election inside the Apple News app through November.

It will feature content from Fox News, Vox and other curated publications including some exclusives from the Washington Post, Axios and Politico.

[...] The midterm section will include features including 'The Conversation', opinion columns from diverse sources, and 'On the Ground' which is more localized reporting to individual constituents.

Apple will have a special news section for the midterm elections, curated by human editors

Apple's longstanding approach of using human editors to select a limited number of stories from reliable sources stands in contrast to Facebook's approach of letting publishers and users post stories, then relying on a mixture of technology and human editors to weed out less reliable sources. Facebook has faced sharp criticism for its role in spreading fake news in the runup to the 2016 presidential election, including posts created by Russians attempting to sway the election to Donald Trump, according to a grand jury indictment.

Facebook is taking measures to avoid similar criticism in the runup to the 2018 midterm elections. The company last week said it was ramping up its efforts to fight fake news, including expanding fact-checking programs to more countries and for the first time fact-checking photos and videos.

Apple press release.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday June 25 2018, @06:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the restaurant-with-bite dept.

BBC,

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant on Friday night because she works for President Donald Trump. A co-owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, asked Ms Sanders and her family to leave as a protest against the Trump administration.

She told the Washington Post that she decided to ask the Trump spokeswoman to leave the 26-seat, "farm-to-table" restaurant after talking to her staff. "Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave," she said she told them. "They said yes."

The incident comes days after Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was booed at a Mexican restaurant in Washington DC. Critics of the Red Hen's decision said that it was discriminatory. However, others compared the restaurant's decision to a recent Supreme Court ruling in favour of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, in a case seen by many conservatives as a test for religious freedom.

WaPo - the owner of the Red Hen explains

[...] She [Ms Wilkinson (the proprietor)] knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.

[...] It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served — that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.

"They offered to pay," Wilkinson said. "I said, 'No. It's on the house.' "

See also: A(ustralian)BC news


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 22 2018, @08:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the What's-in-a-name?-(Juliet) dept.

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.

Also at NPR and Reuters.

See also: Why all the furor over Macedonia name change? It goes back to Alexander the Great


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday June 21 2018, @09:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-governments-tell-lies dept.

AlterNet reports

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.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 20 2018, @06:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the nothing-will-change dept.

US leaving UN Human Rights Council -- 'a cesspool of political bias'

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."

Also at NPR and Bloomberg.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 20 2018, @11:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the next-up-is-monopoly dept.

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.'

foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/18/pentagon-confirms-halt-august-war-games-with-south-korea.html


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 20 2018, @12:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the but,-but,-I-promised dept.

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.


Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Thursday June 14 2018, @09:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the Calexit-will-return-in-Avengers-4 dept.

Radical plan to split California into three states earns spot on November ballot

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.

Also at CNN and The Hill.

Previously: Proposal to Divide California Into Three States Could Land on the November Ballot

Related: Secessionists Formally Launch Quest for California's Independence
California Secession Leader has Russian Ties
Calexit: the "Bad Boys of Brexit" Throw Their Weight Behind Move to Split State


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13 2018, @04:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the [6]-a⠀[⠀]-b⠀[3]-c⠀[1]-d⠀[⠀]-e⠀[9]-f⠀[2]-g⠀[4]-h⠀[7]-i⠀[5]-j⠀[⠀]-k⠀[8]-l dept.

Maine Is Trying Out A New Way To Run Elections. But Will It Survive The Night?

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.

Also at WGME, Vox, NYT (live results), and Portland Press Herald.

Previously: Maine Supreme Court Approves Ranked-Choice Voting for 2018 Elections


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday June 07 2018, @10:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the voices-in-my-head dept.

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.

Previously: Sonic Attack? U.S. Issues Health Alert After Employee Experiences Brain Trauma in Guangzhou, China

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


Original Submission