ABC Action News tracks tropical developments in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
ABC Action News tracks tropical developments in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
The United States could begin sharing sensitive intelligence with Honduras about inbound flights carrying drugs, U.S. officials told Reuters, even as the Central American country faces scrutiny from Washington over drug-related corruption. A proposed memorandum of understanding on intelligence sharing, which has not previously been reported, has yet to be finalized by the U.S. and Honduran governments.
Control of the United States Senate hinges on two January 5 runoff elections in Georgia, where incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock respectively. Most immediately, the race is a contest over whether President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will be able to govern — especially by passing another big coronavirus rescue package.However, Loeffler and Perdue are also excellent examples of what interests the Republican Party serves — namely, the ultra-rich, which includes both Loeffler and Perdue personally. These are two people who were rich before they got into politics, and leveraged their power as senators to make themselves even more rich — by profiteering off the pandemic. It is government of, by, and for the top 0.1 percent.Let me consider their cases in turn. David Perdue is a longtime businessman who served as CEO of Dollar General in the mid-2000s, where he worked diligently to source more products from China. According to his financial disclosures, he is worth between $15 million and $43 million.As Michela Tindera writes at Forbes, Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher own a big stake in International Exchange, a financial clearinghouse company that Sprecher founded and where he remains CEO and chairman. (That company also owns the New York Stock Exchange, where Sprecher is again chairman.) After closely examining Loeffler's financial disclosure forms and other information, Tindera estimates that the couple is worth at least $800 million, and likely over $1 billion — or roughly quadruple the wealth of the second-richest member of Congress, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).Here's how the pandemic profiteering worked. On January 24, there was a private all-Senate briefing about the looming disaster — long before there was a broad public understanding that the U.S. was going to get slammed by COVID-19. Immediately afterward, both Loeffler and Perdue started trading strategic stocks. As The Daily Beast reported at the time, Loeffler executed 29 transactions valued between $1.275 and $3.1 million in the following days before the market crashed, almost all of them sales — one exception was a purchase of Citrix, which sells teleworking software. (Also, Loeffler recently violated the legal prohibition on soliciting campaign funds in a Senate office building.)Perdue made a similar number of trades, but bought more than Loeffler — in particular, an investment of up to $850,000 in DuPont, which manufactures personal protective equipment. And as The Associated Press reports, in late January he sold between $1 million and $5 million in shares of Cardlytics, a financial technology firm, at $86 per share. Then, when the market had bottomed out in March, he snapped up between $200,000 and $500,000 of Cardlytics shares at $30 apiece; since then the share price has shot back up to $121. Nice tidy little profit to counterbalance the 270,000 dead Americans. (The Daily Beast also reports that in 2019, Perdue bought up shares of a submarine parts manufacturer before voting to give the company a lucrative contract, then sold it for another handsome profit.)When reports of these trades first came out, both Loeffler and Perdue insisted they had nothing to do personally with the moves. "I have never used any confidential information I received while performing my Senate duties as a means of making a private profit ... professionals buy and sell stocks on our behalf," wrote Loeffler in an April 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Perdue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that advisers made his investment decisions on their own.In the first place, candidates not taking direct control of their stock trades does not actually remove the conflict of interest. If you are a senator, and you hire a bunch of asset managers to look after your investments without any kind of blind trust, you still know what those investments are. You can make decisions knowing that your Goldman Sachs lackeys will make the profit-maximizing move in response — which is the best-case scenario of what happened here.But realistically speaking, it is virtually impossible to believe that all these trades had nothing to do with the two senators. Are we really to believe it was a coincidence that these asset managers started making "there is a pandemic coming" trades the very same day the two were receiving classified briefings on the disaster? Come on. Indeed, The New York Times recently reported that Perdue was lying with his blanket denial — he did directly instruct his manager to sell the Cardlytics shares after receiving a cryptic email mentioning "upcoming changes" from the company's then-CEO. (Perdue and Loeffler have been cleared of legal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice, but given that Attorney General Barr is a shameless Trump stooge, that is hardly reassuring.)Since then, both Perdue and Loeffler have largely downplayed the pandemic. Unlike Ossoff and Warnock, both have been holding large, in-person rallies. In July, both Loeffler and Perdue came out against extending the boost to unemployment insurance in the CARES Act, and since then neither have answered questions about further economic rescue measures from Atlanta Magazine. Instead, since the election they have amplified Trump's flagrant lies that Georgia's Republican governor and secretary of state somehow helped Joe Biden steal the election there.Over the last decade or so, there has been a long discussion of why Democrats are bleeding votes in rural areas (precisely where Republicans run up huge margins in Georgia). And on one level it's an important debate — there is good evidence that as Democrats embraced austerity, deregulation, and free trade that harmed such places, it hurt their vote share.But on another level, it is frankly staggering that the Republican Party has swooped in to replace them. The Democrats may not be much of a friend to the working class or rural farmers, but Republicans are straight-up picking their pockets. If you want a couple senators to govern solely on behalf of their massive asset portfolio while leaving everyone else twisting in the wind, vote Perdue and Loeffler.More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Americans are choosing death over deprivation How camp explains Trump
A photo of an Australian soldier drinking beer from the prosthetic leg of a dead Taliban fighter emerged on Tuesday, as the Chinese and Australian governments continued to trade blows over alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. The photograph of the soldier drinking from an apparent “war trophy” in an unauthorised bar in Afghanistan in 2009 was one of several obtained by Guardian Australia. Another shows two soldiers dancing with the leg. The bar, known as the Fat Lady’s Arms, was set up inside Australia’s special forces base in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan province. Some soldiers claimed in the Guardian that the practice was widely tolerated by officers at high levels, and even involved some of them. Taking property without the consent of the owner may be classified as pillaging, a war crime which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. The revelations came as China hit back at the Australian government, which had criticised a social media post by senior official Zhao Lijian featuring a doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. The post was a reference to the findings of the Brereton inquiry which implicated Australian forces in the alleged murder of prisoners or civilians in Afghanistan. In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said the Australian Government was attempting to deflect attention from war crimes committed by Australian forces, to stoke the fires of “domestic nationalism”, and to pin the blame for the deteriorating relationship between the countries on China. While the Brereton inquiry largely absolved the Australian military’s top brass of responsibility for the alleged crimes, the report noted that a “warrior culture” had developed in the special forces which contributed to offences, a culture of which senior officers could not have been unaware. Australian historian and lecturer on asymmetrical warfare and counter-insurgency, Dr Philip Chilton, told The Telegraph that Australia’s special forces “are bred to have a warrior culture”, and that it is “problematic” that the report appeared to “exonerate the higher command for responsibility for any of this”. While the Department of Defence has not confirmed the authenticity of the photographs, in June 2018 Fairfax Media reported that Australian troops had been using the prosthetic leg taken from an Afghan man as a drinking vessel. The Department of Defence said in a statement that all credible allegations of wrongdoing will be investigated. “The report has been redacted to remove names and details that could identify individuals against whom the Inquiry has found credible information to support allegations of criminal wrongdoing or other misconduct... Where there is information provided to Defence not addressed as part of the Afghanistan Inquiry [headed by Justice Brereton], these matters will be investigated thoroughly and acted on,” a spokesperson said. “It is critical that all matters are considered carefully, and any actions are undertaken according to the ADF’s longstanding and well-established processes, ensuring the rights of individuals to due process and fair hearing are protected.”
The president-elect will probably have to wear a medical boot for several weeks, his doctor says.
President Trump threatened to veto a $740 billion defense spending bill if it doesn't repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, an unrelated provision that grants broad legal immunity to social media and other internet sites. Unless the "dangerous and unfair Section 230" is "completely terminated," Trump said on Twitter, he will "unequivocally veto" the legislation. Section 230, which shields social media companies from legal liability for user content posted on their sites, is considered a foundational provision of the internet.Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act with bipartisan support for 59 years in a row, and "presidents from both parties have always signed them, even after issuing veto threats," The Wall Street Journal notes. "The Senate version passed 86-14, and the House version passed 295-125, more than the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a potential veto." Negotiators are currently working out the differences so the legislation can be cleared in the next few weeks. Trump has already threatened to veto this same bill over a provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate officers.There is bipartisan support to reform Section 230, though each party objects to different ways it affects social media. Democrats say Facebook, Twitter, and other sites should do more to weed out disinformation and dangerous content, while Trump has complained baselessly that the sites censor conservatives. The NDAA authorizes $740 billion in Pentagon and Energy Department spending, including a 3 percent raise for U.S. troops, and guides Pentagon policy decisions.Besides passing the NDAA, Congress hopes to push through a spending bill to keep the government running and a COVID-19 relief package before adjourning for the year.More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Americans are choosing death over deprivation How camp explains Trump
A Chinese woman who filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit against a TV host told cheering supporters at a courthouse Wednesday that she hopes her case will encourage victims of gender violence in a system that gives them few options to pursue complaints. Zhou Xiaoxuan spoke ahead of a trial in her lawsuit, which was delayed for two years and reflects the challenges Chinese women face in pursuing sexual misconduct complaints despite the spread of the global #MeToo movement. Zhou, 27, has accused Zhu Jun, a popular state TV host, of forcibly kissing her in 2014.
‘We will have over 300 million doses available to the American public well before then,' added official
The United States imposed sanctions on Monday on Chinese firm China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), accusing it of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's efforts to undermine democracy. The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement the Chinese company supported the leftist government of Maduro in its "efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents." "The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Switzerland is emerging as a model for how the coronavirus can be contained without a national lockdown, after daily new infections halved since the start of November despite pubs, restaurants, gyms and sports remaining open in much of the country. The figures were hailed as a triumph for the “Swiss special way” by Swiss government doctors last week, and will be seen as evidence that regional tiers can work in the UK. Rather than ordering a general lockdown, Switzerland allowed regions to decide their own measures and only the worst-hit imposed tough restrictions. But critics have charged that the success came at too high a price, after the country experienced some of the highest death rates in Europe. Switzerland has been described as the “new Sweden” after it refused to follow the UK and other countries into a second lockdown this month. The Swiss government imposed only minimal restrictions at a national level, including a limit of ten on private gatherings, an 11pm curfew for restaurants and the compulsory use of facemasks in crowded areas.