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Europe

Belarus opposition candidate predicts rigged vote as president seeks to prolong 26-year rule

Issued on: 08/08/2020 – 08:47 The surprise opposition candidate mounting the most serious challenge in years to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Friday that her country was waking up, but warned that the strongman planned to rig the vote. Advertising Read more Political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has emerged as the rising star of the opposition in her ex-Soviet nation, ruled by Lukashenko since 1994 and sometimes described as Europe's last dictatorship. Speaking to AFP in central Minsk after a gruelling campaign that has seen her attract big crowds of supporters, Tikhanovskaya said it seemed something in her country had changed ahead of Sunday's election. "People are waking up, rediscovering their self-respect," the 37-year-old said, wearing the white bracelet that has become the symbol of Belarus's opposition. Tikhanovskaya decided to run after her 41-year-old blogger husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, ended up in jail and could not submit his o..

Tech

Chinese tech companies could face trouble in Europe

Huawei. TikTok. Whos next? The United States government this week launched a new phase in its campaign to push back on Chinese technology firms, announcing efforts to block cloud and software companies from China from thriving in the West. The move was flanked by a decision Thursday to block business dealings with social media company TikTok and chat app WeChat and follows a two-year-long diplomatic campaign against telecom giant Huawei, as officials warned repeatedly that these firms dont play by Western rules, particularly when it comes to snooping and data protection. And theres more coming. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is scheduled to visit Central Europe next week, signaled Washingtons plans to use its trade and export tools against a broader range of Chinese technology firms. Those efforts will likely spill over into Europe, where privacy concerns, human rights woes, security and trade interests are advancing political pushback against Chinese tech. [TikTok] was ..

UK Politics

Trump to Require Health Insurance Companies to Cover All Pre-Existing Conditions for All Customers

President Donald Trump said that he is intending to pursue an executive order to require health insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions for all customers. “Over the next two weeks Ill be pursuing a major executive order requiring health insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions for all customers,” Trump said at a news conference at his golf property in Bedminster, New Jersey. “Thats a big thing. Ive always been very in strongly in favor—we have to cover pre-existing conditions.” “This has never been done before but its time that people of our country are properly represented and properly taken care of.” The president provided no further details about his plan, including whether or how his executive order may be different from that which was required under the Afforable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Under the law passed under former President Barack Obamas administration, health insurance companies cant refuse to cover people or charge people mor..

UK Politics

House Democrats Can Sue Trump Over Pentagon Funds for Border Wall, Court Rules

A federal appeals court has ruled that House Democrats can sue the Trump administration for diverting $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds to build a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. In the newest salvo in a legal battle over the border wall, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that congressional lawmakers can proceed with a lawsuit that would seek to assert Congresss authority to appropriate funds. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has demanded that Congress fund construction of a wall on the southern border—his landmark campaign promise. After a congressional spending bill allocated around $1.3 billion for border security, falling short of the nearly $5 billion Trump requested for the wall, he declared a national emergency and by its authority reallocated $2.5 billion in defense and military project funding appropriated by Congress, sparking several lawsuits. President Donald Trump visits a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Otay M..

UK Politics

Trump Administration Recommends Executive Action as Stimulus Talks Break Down

Trump administration officials stated on Friday that they plan to recommend that President Donald Trump take executive action on several stimulus provisions as talks between Democrats and Republicans falter. “Unfortunately, we did not make any progress today,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters following talks. “We discussed the same issues.” Trump, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter around the same time that his administration will be “going a different way.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are “only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus!” the president said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!” The $1 trillion in funding to state and local governments has been one of the main sticking points for White House officials. Trump later in a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, told r..

Europe

Forced evacuations as glacier the size of a football pitch threatens Italian valley

Issued on: 07/08/2020 – 22:05Modified: 07/08/2020 – 22:07 Experts were closely monitoring a Mont Blanc glacier on Friday, a day after they evacuated 75 tourists and residents amid fears the glacier could soon break apart and crash into a popular Italian Alpine valley. Advertising Read more Valerio Segor, a glacier expert in Valle dAosta, a region in northwestern Italy, told reporters on Friday that the next 72 hours were critical for the Planpincieux Glacier, which lies under a massif on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Those forced to evacuate came from homes and holiday lodgings in the Ferret Valley in the shadow of the glacier. Tourists on Friday were barred from entering the scenic valley. The glaciers size has been likened to that of a soccer field under a 80-meter (265-foot) high mass of ice. Abrupt shifts in temperature from hot to cold to hot again are being blamed for the precarious state of the glacier, which Segor says has a strea..

Tech

In a consequential decision, Air Force picks its rockets for mid-2020s launches

Enlarge / Artist's rendering of a Vulcan-Centaur rocket launch.United Launch Alliance On Friday afternoon, the US Air Force answered one of the big questions that had been hanging over the US launch industry for more than a year—which two companies will be selected to compete for national security launch contracts from 2022 to 2026? During a video call with reporters, William Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said that United Launch Alliance will receive approximately 60 percent of the launch orders and SpaceX will receive the other 40 percent. Two other bidders, Northrop Grumman with its Omega rocket, and Blue Origin with its New Glenn vehicle, will not receive awards. "The ability to meet our technical factors to do the mission is the most important thing," Roper said, in response to a question on the Air Force criteria. Secondary factors included past performance, the ability to work with small businesses, and total evaluat..

Tech

Appeals court rules 10¢-a-page charge for court documents is too high

EnlargeAurich Lawson / Getty Images A federal appeals court has ruled that the federal judiciary has been overcharging thousands of users for access to public court records. PACER, short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is an online system that allows members of the public (including Ars Technica reporters) to download documents related to almost any federal court case. For PDF documents, the site charges 10 cents per page—a figure far above the costs of running the system. In 2016, three nonprofit organizations sued the judiciary itself over the issue. The class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of almost everyone who pays PACER fees, argued that the courts were only allowed to charge enough to offset the costs of running PACER. Over the last 15 years, as storage and bandwidth costs fell, the courts actually raised PACER fees from 7 cents to 10 cents. The courts used the extra profits to pay for other projects, like installing speakers and displays in courtrooms. The pla..

Tech

Review: Doom Patrol comes back strong with fierce and fun S2

TKTK in the second season of Doom Patrol. Lots of people missed last year's debut of Doom Patrol, a delightfully bonkers show about a "found family" of superhero misfits, because it aired exclusively on the DC Universe streaming service. Fortunately, S2 also aired on HBO Max, expanding the series' potential audience. Apart from one sub-par episode, this second season expanded on the strengths of the first, with plenty of crazy hijinks, humor, pathos, surprising twists, and WTF moments. Alas, the season finale is bound to frustrate fans, since it ends on a major cliffhanger and leaves multiple dangling narrative threads. (Spoilers for S1; some S2 spoilers below the gallery.) As we reported previously, Timothy Dalton plays Niles Caulder, aka The Chief, a medical doctor who saved the lives of the various Doom Patrol members and lets them stay in his mansion. His Manor of Misfits includes Jane, aka Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), whose childhood trauma resulted in 64 distinct pers..

UK Politics

California County to Give $1,250 Stipend to Some COVID-19 Sufferers

Californias seventh most populous county will give people infected with the CCP virus a one-time lump sum payment of $1,250 under a pilot program meant to help vulnerable residents unable to work while self-quarantining after contracting the potentially deadly bug. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the program, which will initially be limited to some 7,500 residents referred to by designated clinics in five high-risk neighborhoods in Alameda County, according to a letter (pdf) from Lori Cox, director of the countys Social Services Agency. Vanessa Cedeño, policy director for the Board of Supervisors, told the Los Angeles Times that a key success factor in Alameda Countys efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 is to make sure people who have contracted the virus safely isolate at home. “If people are afraid to get tested or they cannot isolate safely when theyre COVID positive, then our efforts to contain the virus are not going to be as successful,” Cedeño s..

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