Friday, May 26, 2017

Trump ‘evolving’ on climate action, pressured by Europeans

(AP) Forceful face-to-face talks this week with fellow world leaders left President Donald Trump “more knowledgeable” and with “evolving” views about the global climate accord he’s threatened to abandon, a top White House official said Friday. Trump also was impressed by their arguments about how crucial U.S. leadership is in supporting international efforts.

The president’s new apparent openness to staying in the landmark Paris climate pact came amid a determined pressure campaign by European leaders. During Friday’s gathering of the Group of 7 wealthy democracies — as well as at earlier stops on Trump’s first international trip — leaders have implored him to stick with the 2015 accord aimed at reducing carbon emissions and slowing potentially disastrous global warming.

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Posted on Friday, May 26, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

WikiLeaks’ Assange defies warnings, will publish any evidence of corruption

(RT) Responding to comments from newly elected Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno warning Julian Assange not to ‘interfere’ in South American politics, WikiLeaks’ founder said Ecuador can be “confident” that any evidence of corruption will still be published.

Speaking at a ceremony at the Cochasqui archeological site in the Northern Andes on Thursday, President Moreno “respectfully” called on Assange “not to interfere in Ecuadorian politics, nor in the politics of its allies.”

“His status does not allow him to talk about the politics of any country, let alone ours,” he said, according to CapitalNews.
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Posted on Friday, May 26, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Major U.S. tech firms press Congress for internet surveillance reforms

(Reuters) Facebook, Amazon and more than two dozen other U.S. technology companies pressed Congress on Friday to make changes to a broad internet surveillance law, saying they were necessary to improve privacy protections and increase government transparency.

The request marks the first significant public effort by Silicon Valley to wade into what is expected to be a contentious debate later the year over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, parts of which will expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes them.

Of particular concern to the technology industry and privacy advocates is Section 702, which allows U.S. intelligence agencies to vacuum up vast amounts of communications from foreigners but also incidentally collects some data belonging to Americans that can be searched by analysts without a warrant.

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Posted on Friday, May 26, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Germany readies to speed up failed asylum seeker deportations

(AFP) Germany, which has taken in over one million asylum seekers since 2015, on Thursday readied plans to speed up expulsions of those denied refugee status -- but controversy flared over sending people back to war-torn Afghanistan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel -- who faces a re-election bid in September amid a voter backlash against the mass influx -- was to discuss a series of measures with leaders of Germany's 16 state governments.

Among the proposals are setting up national "deportation centres" to streamline expulsions, financial incentives for those who return voluntarily, and heightened pressure on countries that refuse to take back their nationals.

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Posted on Thursday, February 09, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Police strike leaves 90 dead, Brazilian city in chaos

(Post-Gazette) At least 90 people are reported dead in a wave of violence in the Brazilian city of Vitoria after the police force there went on strike.

The number of registered murders had risen to 90 since military police stopped patrols on Saturday, Globo reported, citing figures received from a police union.

The mood in the southeastern state of Espirito Santo remained tense Wednesday as armed forces continued patrolling the streets for the fifth straight day.

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Posted on Thursday, February 09, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

EU resettled some 15,000 refugees out of a planned 160,000

EU flag-map

(RT) EU member states have only relocated slightly more than 15,000 asylum seekers from Italy, Greece and Turkey out of 160,000 the EU initially pledged to resettle from these overburdened countries under the controversial mandatory refugee quota system.

The number of refugees resettled from Greece and Italy to the other EU member states and associated countries, including Switzerland and Norway, has reached 11,966, the latest European Commission progress report on relocation and resettlement schemes says.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

For Chinese Home Buyers, Seattle Is the New Vancouver

(WSJ) When Anna Riley, a Seattle-area real-estate agent, held an open house for a new $2.3 million listing in the tony city of Bellevue late last month, the pool of prospective buyers was different from the usual assortment of tech magnates, sports stars and chief executives.

Twenty groups of buyers visited the property in the Seattle metro area—and all of them were Chinese.

“Every single one,” said Ms. Riley, an agent at Windermere Real Estate, noting that Asian investors had typically, before last year, accounted for about a quarter of the firm’s prospective buyers.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Rights groups challenge Israel's new settlements law in court

Israeli West-Bank barrier Ramallah
(Reuters) Rights groups petitioned Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday to annul a heavily criticized law that retroactively legalized some 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

The law, approved by parliament on Monday, has drawn condemnation from Europe and the United Nations and has been described by Israel's attorney general as unconstitutional.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Amazon And Google May Face Antitrust Scrutiny Under Trump

(Forbes) Powerful tech platforms have platform privilege -- the incentive and ability to prioritize their own products and services over those of competitors. In my last Washington Bytes post, I wrote about Facebook competing against news publishers that depend on its platform to reach customers. In the same way, Amazon competes against merchants and Google competes against websites that depend on them.

Because platform privilege involves leveraging market power to alter the competitive playing field, it can lead to antitrust problems. Google has born the brunt of antitrust enforcers’ ire to date, but is Amazon next?

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Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

VIDEO: Qatar spending $500m a week on FIFA World Cup projects

(AFP) High-spending World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar are splurging almost $500 million every week on major infrastructure projects for football's biggest tournament, the country's finance minister said.

Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Trump is not the first president to ban foreigners. So why is this time different?

(McClatchy) Donald Trump’s travel ban isn’t new.

Six of the last seven presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, have relied on the same federal law to keep certain groups of foreigners out of the United States.

Jimmy Carter denied entry to Iranians in April 1980 after a failed rescue mission for American hostages in Iran. Ronald Reagan barred migrants arriving at the borders from “the high seas” in September 1981, targeting Haitians and Cubans. Bill Clinton in November 1999 barred those responsible for repressing civilians in Kosovo. And George W. Bush in June 2001 banned those who planned or carried out wartime atrocities in the Western Balkans.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Facing new claims, Poland's ex-president Walesa denies spying

(AFP) Poland's Solidarity hero Lech Walesa on Tuesday flatly denied allegations that fresh handwriting analysis proved he had collaborated with the communist-era secret police in the early 1970s.

The country's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi and communist eras, said last week there was "no longer any doubt" that Walesa had signed a collaboration agreement as well as receipts for payment from the secret police.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Pollution-fighting Vertical Forest buildings coming to China

(CNET) China has pollution problems, and one Italian architect could have some answers.

The Chinese city of Nanjing is getting a Vertical Forest, a set of two buildings stylised with around 1,100 trees and a combination of over 2,500 shrubs and plants.

But it's not all about how it looks: The Nanjing Towers will absorb enough carbon dioxide to make around 132 pounds (60 kilograms) of oxygen every day, an official press release claimed. China's Vertical Forest is scheduled to be completed sometime next year.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More

Monday, February 06, 2017

Vizio smart TVs tracked viewers around the clock without consent

(Ars Technica) Vizio, one of the world's biggest makers of Smart TVs, is paying $2.2 million to settle charges that it collected viewing habits from 11 million devices without the knowledge or consent of the people watching them.

According to a complaint filed Monday by the US Federal Trade Commission, Internet-connected TVs from Vizio contained ACR—short for automated content recognition—software. Without asking for permission, the ACR code captured second-by-second information about the video the TVs displayed. The software collected other personal information and transmitted it, along with the viewing data, to servers controlled by the manufacturer. Vizio then sold the data to unnamed third-parties for purposes of audience measurement, analysis, and tracking.

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Posted on Monday, February 06, 2017 / 0 comments / Read More
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