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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

posted by janrinok on Friday September 06, @09:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-your-tax-dollars-are-spent dept.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), chairman of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (FSO) Subcommittee for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), continued his efforts to reform the big-spending status quo with the release of a Summer 2019 edition of The Waste Report.

Once again, Dr. Paul's Waste Report turns the spotlight on just some of the ways the federal government spends the American people's hard-earned money, with this edition including stories of building up Tunisia's political system and the Pakistani film industry, supporting "green growth" in Peru, teaching English and IT skills at madrassas, studying frog mating calls, making improper payments, and more.

The biggest seem to be:

Converted an abandoned mental hospital into DHS HQ (GSA and DHS) .......... $2,120,040,355.35
Paid out billions from Medicare in improper payments (CMS) ....................... $48,000,000,000

[Editor's Comment: The full 15-page report is found in a Scribd display on the given link.]

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 05, @04:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the start-counting-the-pennies,-er,-yen dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Trump's 15 percent tariff on Chinese goods kicks in

It's the first day of September, marked by a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports, which went into effect Sunday. In latest escalation of the trade war with China, the Trump administration has slapped a 15% tariff on $112 billion worth of Chinese goods (PDF), something consumers can expect to feel when buying everything from milk to diapers to some China-manufactured tech products like the Apple Watch.

But on Aug. 13, the USTR said it would offer a temporary reprieve to a batch of about $160 billion products (PDF) like laptops and cellphones. Those goods won't be subject to the new tariffs until Dec. 15 -- an attempt to blunt the impact of the duties on the holiday shopping season. Trump later raised the new tariff on Chinese goods to a 15% rate rather than the initial 10%.

China retaliated Sunday with its own tariff plan taking effect at 12:01 p.m. local time. It's rolling out higher tariffs in stages on a total of about $75 billion in US goods like soybeans and crude oil. It'll also resume an extra 25% duty on cars imported from the US on Dec. 15.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 04, @04:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the Ruh-Roh!-What-happens-now? dept.

Boris Johnson loses Parliamentary majority, faces Brexit showdown

Britain's Parliament returns from its summer recess and is facing a titanic showdown over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to leave the European Union. Here's what we know:

● Johnson has lost his majority in Parliament, with the defection of Conservative Phillip Lee to the Liberal Democrats.

● The opposition, including members of Johnson's party, is seeking to pass legislation to delay Brexit.

● Johnson has said that if his foes succeed he will call early elections.

Live coverage.

List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by length of tenure

#54: George Canning, 119 days (1827)
#55: Boris Johnson, 40 days (Incumbent) (2019)

See also: Brexit: Tory MP defects ahead of crucial no-deal vote
How Brexit Blew Up Britain's Constitution

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 04, @02:36AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

From Cyprus to Ukraine, Israel to the Balkans, conflicts over land have long turned bloody. But on Monday, the Netherlands and Belgium managed to settle a festering territorial problem, without firing a single bullet and with an unlikely spur: a headless corpse.

In a signing ceremony attended by their respective royals, Belgium agreed to cede about 35 acres of scenic land by the Meuse River in exchange for about seven acres of land from the Netherlands. The two countries had formalized their border in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1843.

In a region that has long known geopolitical and linguistic squabbles, and where Belgium has lived in the shadow of its neighbor, the land swap was anything but inevitable. That apparently is where the headless body comes in.

The land belonging to Belgium — equivalent to about 15 soccer fields — is linked to a hard-to-reach peninsula belonging to the Netherlands. In 1961, when the Meuse was reconfigured to aid navigation, it had the side effect of pushing three pieces of land onto the wrong side of the river. According to the Dutch news media, the uninhabited area subsequently gained a reputation for lawlessness, wild parties and prostitution.

However, several years ago, when a couple accidentally stumbled on a headless body and called the Dutch authorities, they were informed that the strip of land was under Belgian jurisdiction. But the Belgian authorities could not get there by land without crossing Dutch territory, which required special permission. The only alternative was a difficult river crossing.

Referring to the discovery of the body, Jean-François Duchesne, the police commissioner of the Lower Meuse region, told The Associated Press last year that the journey to the area had been arduous. “So we had to go there by boat with all that was needed — the prosecutor, the legal doctor, the judicial lab — we had to do round trips over the water,” he said. “It really was not very practical.”

The two nations then decided to head off future jurisdictional problems by negotiating a peaceful exchange of parcels of land each country had that were stranded on the wrong bank of the river. Belgium’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, said on Monday that the agreement reflected excellent Belgian-Dutch relations and was proof that “borders can be peacefully changed.”

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday August 28 2019, @04:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the fiddling-while-the-Amazon-burns dept.

Brazil Says It Will Reject Millions in Amazon Aid Pledged at G7

Hours after leaders of some of the world's wealthiest countries pledged more than $22 million to help combat fires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's government angrily rejected the offer, in effect telling the other nations to mind their own business — only to later lay out potential terms for the aid's acceptance.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil expressed his ire in a series of Twitter posts on Monday, and specifically criticized and taunted President Emmanuel Macron of France, who had announced the aid package at the Group of 7 summit meeting. Their comments extended a verbal feud between the two leaders.

But early the next day, Mr. Bolsonaro offered possible terms for the acceptance of the aid package when he spoke to reporters in the capital, Brasília.

He said that if Mr. Macron withdrew "insults made to my person," and what Mr. Bolsonaro interpreted as insinuations that Brazil does not have sovereignty over the Amazon, he would reconsider.

[...][Mr. Bolsonaro later rejected the aid package offered by Group of 7 nations, citing Mr. Macron's remarks.]

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday August 27 2019, @04:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the NATO-wobbles dept.

Ankara has gone ahead with its purchase of the Russian defence system despite threats of US sanctions.

Ankara received its first supply of S-400 missiles in July, despite a warning by the United States about possible sanctions. The acquisition of the highly-advanced air defence system has led to a standoff between Turkey and its NATO allies, especially the US.

[...] The modular S-400 is seen as one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, capable of tracking several targets simultaneously and ready to be fired within minutes. 

The US has repeatedly said that the Russian system is incompatible with NATO systems and is a threat to the hi-tech F-35 fighter jets, which Turkey is also planning to buy.

Washington has said Turkey will not be allowed to participate in the F-35 programme because of the Turkey-Russia deal.

The US has strongly urged Turkey to pull back from the deal - the first such move between a NATO member and Russia - warning Ankara that it will face economic sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if it goes ahead with the purchase, reportedly costing more than $2bn.

So far, however, Ankara has refused to give in to US pressure, insisting that choosing which defence equipment to buy is a matter of national sovereignty.

Previously: US Warns Turkey Not To Buy Russian S-400 Missile System

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 23 2019, @03:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the quantity!=quality dept.

YouTube Disables 210 Channels That Spread Disinformation About Hong Kong Protests

YouTube said on Thursday that its site was used to spread disinformation about the mass protests in Hong Kong, days after Twitter and Facebook cracked down on thousands of China-backed accounts that compared the demonstrators to terrorists and accused them of being at the whim of foreign interests.

In a blog post, YouTube said it had disabled 210 channels this week that had uploaded videos about the protests in Hong Kong. The channels had worked in a coordinated fashion to spread disinformation, the company said. YouTube, which is owned by Google, did not specify when the channels were taken down.

Shane Huntley, a software engineer on Google's threat analysis team, said the channels that were removed were "consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter."

Facebook and Twitter said on Monday that they had removed thousands of accounts that originated in China and that acted together to amplify messages and images portraying Hong Kong's protesters as violent and extreme. It was the first time that the social media companies had removed accounts linked to disinformation in China. At the time, Twitter said it had "reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation."

Also at The Guardian and Reuters.

See also: The People's War Is Coming in Hong Kong
Hong Kong: British consulate employee Simon Cheng detained in China
China's arrest of a Hong Kong man puts spotlight on a controversial shared rail station

Previously: Extradition Law Amendments Protested in Hong Kong
One Million People Protest a Proposed Extradition Law in Hong Kong; Gov't Acquiesces, for Now
How Hong Kong's Protestors Are Hindering (and Hijacking) the Tools of Surveillance
China Warns Hong Kong Protesters Against "Playing With Fire"
China Says Sino-British Joint Declaration On Hong Kong No Longer Binding
Hong Kong Airport Paralysed for a Second Day by Protesters; US Naval Ships Blocked

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 22 2019, @01:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the That's-Amore! dept.

According to BNN, Baltic News Network, quoting Al Jazeera reporting, the Italian government has collapsed.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned following a decision by the far-right League party to present a no-confidence motion in the 14-month old coalition government.

The move on Tuesday leaves Italy in a political vacuum until President Sergio Mattarella decides whether to form a new coalition or call an election after talks with parties in the coming days.

Mattarella charged Conte with heading a caretaker administration after he handed in his resignation, pending consultations on a new government which are set to begin at 14:00 GMT on Wednesday.

The crisis began on August 8 when Matteo Salvini, the head of the League party, declared his alliance with the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement was dead and called for elections, a move he hopes will make him prime minister.

Addressing parliament on the turmoil unleashed by the League's move, Conte accused Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister and interior minister, of trying to drag down the coalition for personal and political gain, and putting the nation at risk of financial instability.

"I'm ending this government experience here," Conte, who does not belong to either of the coalition parties, said in his almost hour-long speech to the chamber.

Widespread reporting including:

Original Submission