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US Blames China For Data Hack Of Marriott Hotel

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US Blames China For Data Hack Of Marriott Hotel

The United States has blamed China for the massive data hack of as many as 500 million guests of the world’s biggest hospitality group, the Marriott hotel chain.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the U.S. believes China masterminded the hacking, which included the theft of guest credit card information and passport numbers over a four-year period.  These include guests who stayed at hotels previously operated by Starwood, a brand bought by Marriott in 2016.

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There was no immediate comment from the Chinese government.

Us investigators suspect the hackers were working on behalf of the Chinese ministry of state security.

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The official said investigators were concerned about the data breach because Marriott is used frequently by the U.S. military and government agencies.

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THE ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE: The 2nd Democratic National Party Presidential Nomination Debates

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THE ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE: The 2nd Democratic National Party Presidential Nomination Debates

David D. Shodeinde

The second Democratic Party Presidential nomination debates were held at the historic Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, 27th and Wednesday, 28th July. The first night had the two progressive candidates–Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren–sandwiched between eight moderate contenders.

Leading up to this event, most of the pundits had predicted, with giddy relish and grand anticipation, a conclusive showdown of the progressives in which Bernie Sanders confronts Elizabeth Warren for the pre-eminent progressive candidate of the Party.

It turned out differently. Instead, the eight moderate candidates piled up on the two progressives in a concerted effort to neutralize their proposed policies and punch gaping holes in their vision. These efforts backfired. Senators Sanders and Warren responded with forceful gusto, astute defense and convincing command of every detail of their progressive agenda and silenced all foes, and all attacks.

The first night was clearly won by the progressive duo who displayed impeccable mastery of their policies, with agile clarity and unapologetic authority. They appeared to be the only two on the stage with well thought out plans on Health Care, Climate Change and the New Economy. The rest of the contestants were left in the lurch, muttering easily forgettable bromides.

The second night was equally well anticipated. More so because so many people waited for the return of Senator Kamala Harris who rattled former Vice President Joe Biden in the first debate, and left him almost speechless. Will she come up with another great performance?  Or, will Senator Cory Booker tame the Tiger this time around?  Does the former Vice President still have what it takes to stand up to the charge of the young, fierce Brigade and emerging new champions of the Democratic National Party?

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As the current leader of the contestants, former Vice President Biden is a fair play for everyone. Any candidate that could make him stumble was guaranteed an instant boost in the polls.  CNN, debate host and moderator, exploited the urgency of the moment by nudging the contestants into conflicts and aggravations.

Right off the bell, moderator Dana Bash posed the first question to Senator Harris that Biden classified her health plan as a “have-it-every-which-way approach and says it’s part of a continuing  pattern of equivocating about your health care stance. What do you say to that?” And we were off to the races. That became the overriding tone and pattern of the second night in Detroit; a veritable slugfest.

This set-up was repeated throughout the debate.  Moderator Jake Tapper said to Biden, “Senator Booker called your new criminal justice reform plan, quote, ‘an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country.’ Why is Senator Booker wrong?”  Back and forth they went, all night long.

James Poniewozik of The New York Times wrote that the squabbling  that erupted during the debate was magnified by CNN’s “smackdown aesthetic. You fight or you die — the price of attention is combat.”  The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever said CNN was “conflict-obsessed.”

The political scientist, Stephen Farnsworth, who authored; “Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump,” preferred more open-ended questions.  He said; “The effort to provoke conflict went far overboard. A more useful approach would be to focus more extensively on the range of issues that the next president has to contend with.”

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It is also fair to say the candidates came prepared for a joust. Fireworks were popping from every contestant even when they were not prodded by the moderators. No sacred totem was left untouched, not even the celebrated legacy of former President Obama.  New York City Mayor De Blasio pestered Biden relentlessly about the shortcomings of the Obama Administration in an attempt to make him say something detrimental to the Obama legacy.

When the former Vice President refused to take the bait, Senator Corey Booker was quick to jump in with a jeer, insinuating that the Vice President constantly invokes the Obama legacy only when it favors his narratives. “You can’t have it both ways,” he admonished.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand attacked Biden with words he wrote in a newspaper op-ed several decades ago which sound misogynistic in the current era. The former Vice President could only shrug it off as an uncharitable ambush by a trusted ally.

Senator Kamala Harris, who lauded her distinctive candidacy as the ‘Prosecutor-President,’ had her prosecutorial records demystified by a string of scathing observations from Senator Tulsi Gabbard with a little help from the former Vice President, Joe Biden.  Senator Harris could not come up with a comprehensive rebuttal.

With the sole exception of the cool and suave businessman, Andrew Yang, everyone on stage was eager to score a point at the expense of someone else; and most especially at the expense of Joe Biden, the leader of the pack.

The former Vice President also came prepared. Though his performance was not fantastic, it was better than expected, and good enough to maintain his comfortable front-runner status.

For me, the debates left so much more to be desired. Not one of the candidates proffered a grand and all-encompassing vision for the future role of the USA in a dramatically changing new world confronted with the domineering forces of Artificial Intelligence, Climate Change and a myriad of daunting global security issues. There were no visionary insights on the role of America in a global village now inundated by the stark horrors of mounting religious and sectarian fervors, proliferating malicious arms race, ethnic bigotry, unprecedented racial intolerance and a universal plague of confounding national chauvinism.

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All the candidates espoused a benevolent regime of gallant promises and grand largess to every sector of the electorate: there were profuse pronouncements of untold reparations and generous incentives for African Americans; a universal mandatory income of $1,000 a month for every American citizen and an extra grand if you are a female.

Health coverage of every conceivable infirmity from the cradle to the grave was offered by everyone in different forms.  By 2030, according to some of the candidates, carbon emissions will be zero and the fossil energy industries will all be replaced with more sustainable and earth-friendly alternatives.

There will be no more senseless wars; and the power of love will enrapture the earth and ennoble all humanity into a brighter dawn if we vote for the acolytes of the pure essence of positive cosmic energy; and other mystical assertions.

Of course, there were too many candidates on the stages and not enough time to address all the pertinent issues.  This second debate will surely winnow the field of candidates.  So, the third debates in September will have fewer contestants on the platform and, hopefully, offer more deliberative and compelling insights.

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THE ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Elizabeth Warren

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THE ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Elizabeth Warren.

David D. Shodeinde

Almost seven months since she launched her presidential campaign, and after holding more than 110 town hall events, Senator Elizabeth Warren has finally emerged as a top-tier contender in the crowded race for the Democratic Party nomination.

She was the first well known candidate to enter the race on New Year’s Eve in 2018. Many believed her chances were very slim because she would have to run against her longtime ideological ally and her closest rival; a man who has a very well established progressive track record and a domineering national footprint, the unfaltering Senator Bernie Sanders.

Her breakthrough to the top ranks of the 25 Democratic Party contestants has been the result of a combination of several factors: Her relentless campaign strategy of meeting with voters at the grassroots level, canvassing home-group meetings and doggedly going from door to door, and; her steadily expanding tableau of progressive policy proposals have captured the attention and sparked the interests of many voters who come out in droves to hear more of her plans, and engage her with insightful, probing questions.

Her cardinal proposals include the establishment of universal childcare; the cancelling of students’ loan debts; the breaking up of hegemonic technological corporations and the expansion of voting access to all citizens. The plan to pay for her proposed initiatives will be a tax on all assets above $50m. She tells audiences that this would include, “your Rembrandts, your stock portfolio, your diamonds and your yachts.”

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Of more notable importance is her ability to explain the details of her plans in simple, easy, comprehensible sentences.  This has greatly endeared her to a large number of voters and boosted her profile across all groups and sectors of the nation.

Maria Velez, who attended Warren’s town hall at the Florida International Campus in Miami said; “Every time I hear her talk I am inspired, she has a plan for everything. And she explains her plans in a way that is so easy to understand.”  This is the general consensus of almost everyone who has attended any of her campaign events.

The programmed releases of fascinating and ennobling proposals have captured the imagination of the nation and compelled more voters to her support.   These have also enhanced her fundraising efforts, a very significant requirement for a platform that has staked its financial viability on grassroots support.

Her ascent to the top ranks was solidified last month by her brilliant and inspiring performance in the first presidential primary debate in Miami, Florida.   Post-debate national polls from all sources confirmed her remarkable growing support all over the nation. In all the polls, she has ranked consistently in the third position, moving up the grade, gaining significantly more support and getting closer to the early frontrunners, the former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders.

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At a crowded house party in June, in New Hampshire, she told the standing room only listeners; “Our country’s in real trouble; a lot of trouble.  So what’s going to change that?” She gazed into the faces before her.  “Big structural change,” she asserted.   Most of the people gathered believe she is the only one who can get it done.

Despite her mounting enthusiastic support, many still wonder if she would be daring and resolute enough in a face-off with President Donald Trump.  She responds to the cynics by reminding them of her 2012 Senate race against Scott Brown, a very popular Republican incumbent.  The race was fiercely contested; conventional wisdom and all polling results had Scott Brown beating her ragged like a busted talking drum.  Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown and became the first female senator from Massachusetts.

At the house party in New Hampshire last month, she said; “When I was a girl, a full-time minimum-wage job in America would support a family of three.   Today, a full-time minimum-wage job will not help a momma and a baby out of poverty.  That is wrong, and that is why I am in this fight.”

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She believes that corruption is the root cause of Washington’s ineptitude and dysfunction and the main reason why Congress is brazenly compromised, and why the people are oppressed.  To buttress and reiterate her uncompromising resolve to eradicate corruption, she has refused all private funding events from wealthy donors.

In the glare of bright lights and the whole world on the debate stage earlier this month she said; “When you’ve got a government . . . when you’ve got an economy that does great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple.  We need to call it out.  We need to attack it head on and we need to make structural changes in our government, in our economy and in our country.”

She is boldly reaching out to all voters across the nation.  The audiences at her campaign events are growing larger.  Her story is being told to more people, and more voters are rallying to her support.  The grassroots enthusiasm for her progressive and well articulated policies is reeling in record breaking financial donations and devoted adorations, but the campaign is only just beginning.  There is still a very long way to go.

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U.S. Charges $5b Fine To Facebook For Violating Privacy

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Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Tied To Russia For Foreign Meddling

The United States Federal Trade Commission imposed a five billion dollar fine on the social media Facebook for violations of privacy, the agency  has said.

The Federal Trade Commission said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on any company and is 20 times more than any penalty of its kind worldwide for violating consumers’ privacy and one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.

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Facebook must conduct a review of its privacy policies of any product, service or practice, new or changed, before being implemented and document all its decisions in this regard, the statement said.

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The $5 billion fine against Facebook represents approximately 9% of the company’s 2018 revenue.

In addition, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, which are part of the conglomerate of the aforementioned company, must comply with the proposed rules.

Press reports recalled that the trigger that led to this fine was the information released in March 2018 that the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica used an application to collect data from 87 million Facebook users without their consent and for political purposes.

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