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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday August 13, @11:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the he-said-she-said dept.

China said on Friday the joint declaration with Britain over Hong Kong, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after its return to China in 1997, was a historical document that no longer had any practical significance.

In response, Britain said the declaration remained in force and was a legally valid treaty to which it was committed to upholding.

The stark announcement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, that is sure to raise questions over Beijing’s commitment to Hong Kong’s core freedoms, came the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping said in Hong Kong the “one country, two systems” formula was recognized “by the whole world”.

It was not immediately clear if Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was attacking just the idea of continued British involvement in Hong Kong, which marks the 20th anniversary of Chinese rule on Saturday, or the principles in the document.


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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday August 13, @10:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-do-drugs-eh dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Canadians are in a kerfuffle over the Trump administration's preliminary plan to allow Americans to import lower-cost prescription medications from Canada.

The plan was announced July 31 and is part of the administration's long-sought effort to drag down the US's skyrocketing drug prices. But it's a long way from being a reality. Even if the plan does pan out, it will likely be years before regulators review, approve, and scale up efforts to import drugs.

Still, Canadians are infuriated by the idea and already brainstorming ways to toss it down the garburator, according to a report by health-news outlet STAT. Many fear that American importation would exacerbate current drug shortages in Canada.

"You are coming as Americans to poach our drug supply, and I don't have any polite words for that," Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa told STAT. Prof. Attaran went on to refer to the plan as "deplorable" and "atrociously unethical." "Our drugs are not for you, period."

[...] On Monday, August 12, Canada's Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor was set to meet with pharmacists, patients, and industry officials to discuss a response to the US plan, according to STAT. Petitpas Taylor has pledged to "ensure there are no adverse effects to the supply or cost of prescription drugs in Canada."

In order to protect Canadians, some advocates and policy experts suggested that Canada could begin controlling the export of pharmaceuticals, pass new laws simply banning exporting drugs meant for Canadians, or impose new tariffs.

-- submitted from IRC


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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 06, @09:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the Cool-It! dept.

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters: Don't 'Play With Fire'

Amid weeks of mass anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong that have frequently turned violent, Beijing on Tuesday issued a stark warning to protesters: "those who play with fire will perish by it."

The remarks, at a news conference in Beijing, were made by Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council. He said China has "tremendous power" to put down the protests and warned that anyone who engages in "violence and crimes ... will be held accountable."

Asked if he could rule out the use of military force in Hong Kong, Yang told journalists: "We will not let any acts attacking the principle of 'one country, two systems' go unpunished." "I warn all those criminals: Don't misjudge the situation or take restraint as a sign of weakness," he said.

Yang's comments came a day after Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, vowed to restore order in the city after nine weeks of nearly uninterrupted demonstrations. Speaking on Monday, the embattled Lam said the Chinese territory was "on the verge of a very dangerous situation" — words repeated verbatim by Yang.

See also: Hong Kong Strike Sinks City Into Chaos, and Government Has Little Reply
Hong Kong's Stock Rout Enters 10th Day, Worst Streak Since 1984
Hong Kong Protests Broaden Despite Police Crackdown


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posted by martyb on Saturday August 03, @04:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the if-you-can't-fix-it,-break-it dept.

U.S. pulls out of Soviet-era nuclear missile pact with Russia

The United States formally withdrew from a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia on Friday after determining that Moscow was in violation of the treaty, something the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

Washington signalled it would pull out of the arms control treaty six months ago unless Moscow stuck to the accord. Russia called the move a ploy to exit a pact the United States wanted to leave anyway in order to develop new missiles.

The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was negotiated by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

INF treaty.

Also at BBC and NPR.

Previously: President Trump Warns That the U.S. Will Pull out of Nuclear Forces Treaty and Build Up its Arsenal


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posted by martyb on Friday July 26, @11:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-looking? dept.

Russian hackers probed election systems in all 50 states, a new Senate report confirmed Thursday.

The report comes one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller told Congress that the Russian government is working to meddle in U.S. elections "as we sit here."

"It wasn't a single attempt," Mueller said Wednesday of Russia's 2016 election interference. "They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign."

The bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee released Thursday confirmed previous comments by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Russian hackers scanned election systems in all 50 states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. DHS initially acknowledged Russian attempts to hack into election systems in just 21 states.

Russia targeted all 50 states in 2016 election hacking campaign, Senate report confirms


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posted by janrinok on Friday July 26, @06:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the rattling-sabres dept.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the demonstration of a "new-type tactical guided weapon" on Thursday as a warning to South Korea to stop importing high-tech weapons and conducting joint military exercises with the United States, state media KCNA said on Friday.

North Korea test-fired two new short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, South Korean officials said, its first missile test since Kim and US President Donald Trump agreed to revive denuclearisation talks last month.

The KCNA report did not mention Trump or the US, but it said Kim criticised South Korean authorities for carrying on with joint exercises, which are usually conducted with US troops.

"We cannot but develop nonstop super-powerful weapon systems to remove the potential and direct threats to the security of our country that exist in the South," Kim said, according to KCNA.

He accused South Koreans of "double dealing" for saying they support peace but simultaneously importing new weapons and conducting military drills.

South Korea's leader should stop such "suicidal acts" and "should not make a mistake of ignoring the warning," Kim said.

Kim said he was satisfied with the rapid response and low-altitude trajectory of the weapon, which he said would make it difficult to intercept.

Seoul's National Security Council said on Thursday it believed the missiles were a new type of ballistic missile, but it would make a final assessment with the US.

Ballistic missile tests would be a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban North Korean use of such technology. North Korea rejects the restriction as an infringement of its right to self-defence.


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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday July 24, @12:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-change,-again dept.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49084605

Boris Johnson has been elected new Conservative leader in a ballot of party members and will become the next UK prime minister.

He beat Jeremy Hunt comfortably, winning 92,153 votes to his rival's 46,656.

The former London mayor takes over from Theresa May on Wednesday.

In his victory speech, Mr Johnson promised he would "deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn".

Speaking at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London, he said: "We are going to energise the country.

"We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do.

"We are once again going to believe in ourselves, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self doubt and negativity."

Any other comments would be editorializing...


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posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 12, @05:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the tweets-are-for-birds dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Trump's Twitter blocks violate First Amendment rights, appeals court affirms

It's one thing for most of us to block Twitter users who annoy us, but it's a violation of those users' First Amendment rights for the president to do so, a federal appeals court confirmed.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday issued an opinion supporting an earlier federal court ruling that as long as Donald Trump is a public official, he cannot block people (which prevents them from reading his feed or responding to his comments) he disagrees with on Twitter.

The opinion (PDF) is narrow, specific, and unanimous, with all three judges concurring. "We do not consider or decide whether an elected official violates the Constitution by excluding persons from a wholly private social media account," the judges write, "Nor do we consider whether private social media companies are bound by the First Amendment when policing their platforms."

But, they continue, "The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.... Once the President has chosen a platform and opened up its interactive space to millions of users and participants, he may not selectively exclude those whose views he disagrees with."

"The irony of all this," the opinion concludes, "is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate. This debate encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of ideas and viewpoints and generates a level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen. This debate, as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing. In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less."

[Update 20190713_080924 UTC: Part of what distinguishes this case from other politician's use of twitter is that on June 6, 2017 it was reported:

At the daily White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said the President's tweets are considered official White House statements, saying the President is the "most effective messenger on his agenda."

--martyb]


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posted by martyb on Monday July 01, @12:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the Google-Biasing-Results? dept.

[Editor's note: This story has an interesting viewpoint given the proliferation of "Deep Fake" videos we recently covered here. I see it as a portent of discussions to come. How much can we trust reporting? How much slanting and posturing of "reports" and "studies" are going to be promulgated in the lead-up to the next presidential election? Is this item all a bunch of crap or an indication of things we can expect to come? How much can we trust, and how to we go about assessing the veracity of what is presented to us by not only the main-stream media, but also social media, too? We hereby disclaim any assurance as to the credibility of the accusations made here and present it solely as an example of what may be coming -- and an opportunity to practice techniques at validating/corroborating or challenging/refuting it. The story submission appears after the break.]

NOTE TO READERS - this is scummy content and scummy journalism, at best. That said, it is news, as the story has been commented on by two congressional questionings and the president. Ugh.

Congressional testimony and comments by the president are being made on a Project Veritas video/report, which details how Google biases their search results to favor certain political narratives. REP Dan Crenshaw (TX) and SEN Ted Cruz (TX) have made comments on the Google reports (link below). President Trump made the comment "they're trying to rig the election".

Basically, Project Veritas had an internal whistleblower at Google who detailed how they bias content against conservative sources. The leaked internal project documents (which may be fake) present a relatively technical discussion on how to bias existing trained neural networks. These are somewhat correlated with leaked internal E-mails (which may be fake) describing how the algorithms are modified to create more 'fair' results as part of "search engine fairness". The whistleblower was interviewed, but their face was masked and voice changed (may as well be fake). This is then correlated against a certainly-illegally-obtained-and-selectively-edited interview with a Google executive, which appears to be at a hotel bar from Project Veritas "undercover" agent. This was all combined into a report from Project Veritas that indicates that Google is politically biasing search results as a byproduct of algorithmic tampering and human influence. Ugh.

Predictably, the Project Veritas video was banned everywhere (YouTube, Reddit, Twitter), with accounts suspended/banned from certain platforms. Some people would say that it is an attempt to silence the "report". Some other people would say that this "report" is dubious at best. I think reasonable people would say, at a minimum, posting illegally-obtained material to the internet warrants a ban. Personally - if Veritas wants to do this 'reporting' then it needs to *report* - and not produce material that is illegally obtained or fake.

Original Source: https://www.projectveritas.com/2019/06/24/insider-blows-whistle-exec-reveals-google-plan-to-prevent-trump-situation-in-2020-on-hidden-cam/
Summary: https://thinkprogress.org/trump-believes-google-is-trying-to-rig-the-election-project-veritas-video-cb82f03caee3/
Washintgon Times: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jun/24/google-exec-project-veritas-sting-says-only-big-te/
Congressional Testimony: (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueCMWBixP4Y (2) https://youtu.be/ik_kzn3etsE?t=44

Final note:
Among other things, the "leaked internal E-mails" indicate that Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Dennis Prager are Nazis. At the time of writing, this "story" was picked up by Fox News, TheBlaze, and the Washington Times, according to duckduckgo News ( https://duckduckgo.com/?q=jordan+peterson+nazi&iar=news&ia=news ). This "story" doesn't exist according to Google News ( https://www.google.com/search?q=jordan+peterson+nazi&source=lnms&tbm=nws ). The combination of the report, its details, and my own observations when comparing against DDG results have influenced me to switch my search engine to DDG rather than Google. Something is going on.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday July 01, @01:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the Pomp-or-Progress? dept.

US-North Korea: Trump and Kim agree to restart talks in historic meeting

Donald Trump has become the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea, after meeting Kim Jong-un in the area dividing the two Koreas. Mr Trump and the North Korean leader posed for handshakes before talking for nearly an hour in the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ). Both countries agreed to set up teams to resume stalled nuclear talks. Their last summit broke down in February with no progress on denuclearisation in North Korea.

[...] In a meeting apparently arranged after Mr Trump invited Mr Kim on Twitter on Saturday, they shook hands across the demarcation line between the Koreas before Mr Trump briefly crossed into North Korea, a symbolic milestone.

"Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place," a smiley Mr Kim told Mr Trump through an interpreter in an encounter broadcast live on international television. "Big moment," Mr Trump said, "tremendous progress." Looking relaxed, Mr Kim crossed into South Korea and alongside Mr Trump said: "I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future."

But analysts have questioned whether the meeting will result in any substantive progress. "This whole meme is just another Trump snow-job of flim-flam. Does anyone seriously believe Kim will give up even one warhead [because] Trump is his bud?," said Robert Kelly, professor of political science at Pusan University in South Korea.

Sue Mi Terry, who served as a US National Security Council aide specializing in Korean affairs, said the meeting could result in progress if Mr Trump shows he is willing to accept a partial accord rather than a comprehensive deal. "I do think Kim could offer just enough on the negotiating table such as the Yongbyon nuclear facility plus yet another suspected nuclear facility in order to secure an interim deal with Trump and at least some sanctions relief," she told the New York Times.

takyon: Kim Jong-un was also invited to visit the White House.

Also at The Guardian.


Original Submission