China refutes U.S., U.K. remarks on Hong Kong violence

Chaos in Hong Kong as pro-democracy protests 'blossom everywhere'

Chaos in Hong Kong as pro-democracy protests 

BEIJING -- China on Tuesday refuted remarks by U.S. and British officials regarding the latest riot in Hong Kong, calling the remarks a reflection of hypocrisy and double standards.

It was reported that an unnamed senior U.S. official said Monday the U.S. condemned "unjustified use of deadly force" in Hong Kong violence, claiming the police and civilians alike "have a responsibility to de-escalate and avoid violent confrontations."

The statement was made after a Hong Kong police officer shot a protester who attempted to snatch his gun.

U.K. Prime Minister's Downing Street Office earlier also urged all sides to be calm and exercise restraint, adding that the prime minister supported "the right to peaceful protests."

"If you watch the video clip, you will see clearly that the rioters assaulted the police first and the officer's response was fully lawful," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

Geng told a press briefing that grabbing police firearms, assaulting or threatening officers on duty were absolutely forbidden in any country and would be dealt with the strong police force.

"I want to ask the U.S. and British officials: How would their police deal with similar situations in their countries?" Geng said.


Speaking about a civilian who was set on fire by rioters for publicly expressing his objections to vandalism by the rioters, Geng said the remarks from Washington and London exposed their hypocrisy and double standards.

"If they truly oppose violence and call for restraint, like what they said, then why didn't they strongly condemn such attack on ordinary civilians?"

Geng called attention to the fact that the U.S. government official refused to reveal his name. "I'm afraid they felt embarrassed themselves in making such remarks."

"Ending violence and restoring order is the paramount task in Hong Kong," Geng said, urging the U.S. and the U.K. to respect China's sovereignty and exercise prudence on Hong Kong-related issues and stop meddling in China's internal affairs

Trump impeachment hearings

Fireworks expected as televised Trump impeachment hearings open


President Donald Trump says the impeachment investigation that threatens him is a "delusional witch hunt'

Donald Trump faces the most perilous challenge of his three-year presidency as public hearings convened as part of the impeachment probe against him open under the glare of television cameras on Wednesday.

Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to prove over several weeks of hearings that the US leader abused his office by seeking Ukraine's help for his 2020 reelection campaign, and sought to extort his Kyiv counterpart into finding dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Trump says the inquiry is "corrupt" and "illegal," and maintains he did nothing wrong.

"Democrats in Washington would rather pursue outrageous hoaxes and delusional witch hunts, which are going absolutely nowhere. Don't worry about it," he said confidently Tuesday in a speech to the Economic Club of New York.

But the investigation threatens to make him only the third US president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 and placed on trial in the Senate for possible removal from office.

"On the basis of what the witnesses have had to say so far, there are any number of potentially impeachable offenses: including bribery, including high crimes and misdemeanors," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who will lead the hearings, told NPR radio Tuesday.

Neither Johnson or Clinton was convicted and removed. But in 1974 Richard Nixon resigned in the face of certain impeachment and removal from office for the Watergate scandal.

- Fiery hearings expected -


Hearings are expected to be fiery as a series of government officials take the stand to testify on Trump's Ukraine machinations during the middle of this year.

Both sides have spent the past several days rehearsing for the showdown. Coming just one year before national elections, the hearings carry great risks for both parties and no certain reward, with the US electorate deeply divided and wary of Washington infighting.

Polls show a slim majority of Americans favor impeaching the president.

But they also show that Trump's sizable voter base, which delivered his shock victory in 2016, rejects the allegations. Trump has focused his personal defense on ensuring Republicans in Congress heed their views.

Republicans have accused the soft-spoken and prosecutorial Schiff of an unfair and unconstitutional process, and they have attacked witnesses as biased against the president.

They have also sought, in closed-door depositions over the last six weeks, to refocus attention on Biden's link, through his son, to Ukraine, and on the widely discredited theory, Trump apparently believes that Ukraine assisted Democrats in the 2016 election.

- Phone call transcript -


But Schiff said in a letter Tuesday that he will not put up with attempts to hijack the hearings and turn them into a political circus.

The inquiry "will not serve as venues for any member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 US election interference," he said.

Democrats have amassed evidence that Trump sought to leverage Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's desire for a meeting between the two leaders and for some $391 million in aid to get Ukraine to find dirt on Biden, who could face Trump in next year's presidential election.

The key evidence is the official White House transcript of a July 25 phone call showing Trump pressuring Zelensky to open investigations into Biden and the 2016 conspiracy theory.

The White House has refused to hand over other records on Ukraine policy or allow top Trump aides involved in the decision to pressure Zelensky to testify.

On Tuesday Trump's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney -- who has publicly confirmed the broad outlines of Democrats' allegations -- rejected a subpoena to appear before the committee.

The first witnesses Wednesday will be William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Both have already testified in private that Trump clearly used his power and aid to pressure Zelensky for investigations that would help him in the 2020 vote.

"I had concerns that there was an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the US," Kent told investigators.

On Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the US ambassador to Ukraine whom Trump removed earlier this year, will testify.

Democrats on Tuesday unveiled the schedule for public testimony next week by eight more witnesses, all of whom previously testified behind closed doors.

House Republicans are preparing to argue that Trump was within his rights, given Ukraine's history of deep corruption.

"Democrats want to impeach President Trump because unelected and anonymous bureaucrats disagreed with the President's decisions," they said in a strategy memorandum over the weekend.

"The federal bureaucracy works for the president.... and President Trump is doing what Americans elected him to do."

Nigerians Arrested In One Of The Largest Cases Of Fraud In US History

The scammers have scammed Americans to the tune of $1.1bn between Jan-July this year alone.

Here is a video of the press release by FBI on Nigerian internet scam syndicate.

LOS ANGELES: The United States Attorney’s office says Thursday most of the defendants are Nigerian citizens.

After search warrants were executed at multiple locations across L.A. County on Thursday morning, federal prosecutors declared a 252-count indictment that accuses eighty individuals within the U.S. and Federal Republic of Nigeria of taking part in a very "massive conspiracy to steal several million dollars through a range of fraud schemes."


Press Conference 
The defendants allegedly laundered the funds through a Los Angeles-based concealing network. Eleven of them were arrested Today in Southern California, while three others were taken into custody elsewhere in the U.S., according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.



Two were already in federal custody on different charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants that are believed to be abroad, most of them in Nigeria, authorities confirmed.

According to the indictment, the suspect used business email compromise frauds, romance scams and schemes targeting the aged people to scam victims out of millions of dollars.

The co-conspirators allegedly contacted Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizen, for bank and money-service accounts that can receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims.

Scammers

"These victims are used primarily as money mules, by allowing their bank accounts to be used to transfer stolen funds," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt.

The criminal complaint says Iro and Igbokwe, that were among the suspects arrested today, conducted schemes that resulted in the transfer of a minimum of $6 million in fraudulently obtained funds.

"The overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least $40 million," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Trump on rape accuser: 'She's not my type'


The US President Donald Trump on Monday yet again smartly denied allegations by a magazine advice editorialist that he sexually molested her in the Nineties in a new york retail store

dressing room, adding: "She's not my type."


Trump created the comment in an interview with the Hill, a political news outlet, that touched on the allegations from E.


Jean Carroll, who says in her new book that the alleged rape occurred in the mid-1990s.

"I'll say it with great respect: number one, she's not my type.

Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?


" Trump aforesaid in the interview, which was conducted in the Oval Office.

The president further added that Carroll was "totally lying" when she made her claims.

"I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her," he said.


Carroll's account, revealed last week in an excerpt of her new book that was published by New York magazine, makes her at least the 16th woman to have accused Trump of sexual misconduct before he became president.


She said that in a chance encounter at the Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan, Trump -- then a real estate developer -- asked her for advice on buying lingerie for an unnamed woman.

Then jokingly, they each suggested that the other should try it on.


"The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips," wrote Carroll,

who works for Elle magazine.


Pinning her against the wall, Carroll says, Trump proceeded to drag down her tights, unfasten his pants and penetrate her -- all whereas himself totally dressed -- till she finally

managed to push him out and run from the room.


On Monday, Carroll told CNN that he "just went at it" when he trapped her.

"It was a fight," she said.


"With all the fifteen ladies or sixteen who have stepped forward, it is the same.

He denies it. He turns it around. He attacks. And he threatens."


Carroll never visited the police because, she said, she was fearful of repercussions.

US capital sues Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data breach accusations



The attorney-general for Washington, DC, said on Wednesday the US capital city had sued Facebook Inc for allegedly misleading users about how it safeguarded their personal data, in the latest fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The case joins several legal and regulatory proceedings that threaten to hit Facebook with significant penalties and increase its operating costs.

Authorities and consumer advocates have questioned whether Facebook’s efforts on security, content moderation and cultural diversity have kept pace with the social responsibility it should have for its services, including WhatsApp and Instagram, which are essential communication tools for more than 2 billion people each month.

The world’s largest social media company has drawn global scrutiny since disclosing earlier this year that a third-party personality quiz distributed on Facebook gathered profile information on 87 million users worldwide and sold the data to British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Washington, DC, attorney-general Karl Racine said Facebook misled users because it had known about the incident for two years before disclosing it. The company had told users it vetted third-party apps, yet made few checks, Racine said.

“This continues a year of bad publicity and significant issues for [Facebook], making it more likely that the US government will take action to penalize and/or regulate” it, said financial analyst Scott Kessler of CFRA Research. “Yet, we still see its fundamentals as healthy and valuation as attractive.”

Facebook shares suffered their biggest drop since July 26, closing down more than 7 percent at US$133.24 on Wednesday, extending a roughly five-month stretch since the company warned that profit margins would erode in coming years because of consumer and government pressure to better guard data and suppress objectionable content.


“Facebook could have prevented third parties from misusing its consumers’ data had it implemented and maintained reasonable oversight of third-party applications,” according to the lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

Facebook said in a statement, “We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in D.C. and elsewhere.”

The court could award unspecified damages and impose a civil penalty of up to US$5,000 per violation of the district’s consumer protection law, or potentially close to US$1.7 billion, if penalized for each consumer affected as is typical. The lawsuit alleges the quiz software had data on 340,000 DC residents, though just 852 users had directly engaged with it.

‘Confusing settings’

Facebook offered separate privacy settings around 2013 to control what friends on the network could see and what data could be accessed by apps, enabling the quiz and other services to collect details about their users’ Facebook friends without many of them realising it, according to the lawsuit.

It further alleges Facebook misled users by allowing several partners, including mobile software maker BlackBerry, “to override Facebook consumers’ privacy settings and access their information without their knowledge or consent.”

The New York Times reported new details on Tuesday about the user data that remained available to such partners years after they had shut down the features that required them. Facebook acknowledged the lapse, but said that it has not found evidence of wrongdoing by those partners.

Racine criticized Facebook’s “lax oversight and confusing privacy settings,” telling reporters that Facebook had tried to settle the case before he filed suit, as is common during investigations of large companies.

He said that a lawsuit was necessary “to expedite change” at the Silicon Valley company.

Britain’s data protection authority in July fined Facebook 500,000 pounds for the breaches of data in the Cambridge Analytica incident.

Since then, Facebook has disclosed a pair of security breaches involving profile data and posts of up to 29 million users and 6.8 million users, respectively.

At least six US states have ongoing investigations into Facebook, according to state officials.

In March, a bipartisan coalition of 37 state attorneys wrote to the company, demanding to know more about the Cambridge Analytica data and its possible links to US President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission took the unusual step of announcing an investigation into whether Facebook had violated a 2011 consent decree, exposing the company to a multi-billion dollar fine.
State attorneys general have found some success taking on technology companies over data privacy. Uber Technologies Inc in September agreed to pay US$148 million as part of a settlement with 50 US states and Washington, D.C., which investigated a data breach that exposed personal data from 57 million Uber accounts.

Agnieszka McPeak, a professor at Duquesne University School of Law, said states will likely make claims similar to those of DC, pressuring Facebook into a settlement that involves both a monetary fine and modified business practices.

“If a company faces 51 separate actions around the country for deceptive practices, that can have a real impact,” McPeak said.




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