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Tue, 27 Oct 2020
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New Zealand overtakes UK's record with most gay MPs in parliament

New Zealand gay
New Zealand now has the world's most openly gay parliament after elections that delivered a landslide victory and second term to Jacinda Ardern, allowing her to form the country's first majority government in 20 years.

The Labour Party won 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, its best performance in five decades. The centre-right National Party, the main opposition, won 35, the Greens ten and minor parties the remainder.

The result enables Ms Ardern, 40, to form the first single-party government since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.

Comment: Considering the tyrannical lockdown policies in New Zealand, this just goes to show that regardless of 'diversity' in politics, what's really missing in the upper echelons of power are people with a conscience: Man breaks out of quarantine using bedsheet, later detained by police, in Auckland, New Zealand

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X

Twitter is nuking retweets until after the election

Trump&Twit
© Chelsea Beck/NPR/thefederalist.com/KJN
Twitter is temporarily changing how users can retweet during the final stretch of the election, a move which the company says will discourage the spread of false information. The website changes announced on Oct. 9 are being implemented less than a week after the platform began suppressing blockbuster reporting from the New York Post publishing compromising information of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Starting Tuesday, users who go to retweet will instead by taken to the "Quote Tweet" box prompting users to comment on the content being re-posted on their own feeds.
"Though this adds some extra friction for those who simply want to Retweet, we hope it will encourage everyone to not only consider why they are amplifying a Tweet, but also increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation."

Users can still retweet if they simply post re-publish the post without typing any additional comments where prompted. Twitter says the new change will remain in place until at least the end of election week in November. Meanwhile, the Twitter account for the New York Post is still locked six days after breaking major news that expanded the public scope of former Vice President Joe Biden's growing web of conflicts while serving at the upper echelons of government.

Comment: Farther reaching than just this this particular issue, Twitter has no authority to deem what is true or false.


X

'No Deal!' Senate Democrats block $500B coronavirus aid package a second time

John Thune
© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota
Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a GOP-authored coronavirus relief package while slow-moving bipartisan talks have significantly dimmed optimism for a new round of federal aid before next year.

No one expected the $500 billion proposal to win approval. Senate Republicans tried and failed to move the same bill in September over the objections of Democrats, who said it provided insufficient funding to address multiple needs caused by the pandemic. Democrats are seeking roughly $2 trillion. Republicans accused them of blocking a deal to hold out for a measure that was stuffed with non-coronavirus spending.

"Once again, Democrats will choose nothing over something, that if they can't get everything they want, it's better for Americans not to have anything," Senate Majority Whip John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said. The vote was aimed at providing Republicans with an opportunity to show their efforts to pass new pandemic relief aid and to counter Democratic arguments that the GOP is not interested in addressing the crisis.

Comment: Dems are obviously holding out until after the election, hoping the odds (and big bucks) will be in their favor. They especially do not want a Trump win on this one. They have nothing to lose at this point except the public...and who cares about them.

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Briefcase

Senate Judiciary Committee authorizes subpoenas for Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg over Hunter Biden stories

Dorsey Zuckerberg
© Sky News
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to authorize subpoenas to compel the testimony of the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook amid controversy over the social media companies' handling of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden.

The Post published alleged contents of a computer hard drive purporting to document the Ukrainian and Chinese business activities of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The two CEOs have taken heat from conservatives over their companies' flagging of the story as spreading disinformation and their attempts to clamp down on the distribution of the story.

All 12 Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to authorize the subpoenas for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey. The 10 Democrats on the panel boycotted Thursday's meeting over its consideration of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, which the panel approved.

Comment: Best laid plans? Hunter Biden email story doubled in popularity via Twitter's censorship backfire, but a 50% reduction with Facebook's stopgap:
Big Tech was determined to keep the [Hunter Biden laptop] news from going viral. Facebook spokesman and former Democratic Party staffer Andy Stone said his platform would artificially reduce the story's distribution, until it could be pored over by its "fact-checkers." The suppression campaign worked. According to data compiled by research firm Newswhip, and published in Newsweek on Monday, the story reached around half as many readers as similar anti-Trump bombshells.

Roughly 1.94 million people engaged with the Post's first Biden story within 24 hours of its publication.

Twitter simply banned all linking to the Post's story, claiming that the emails could have been obtained by hacking - a violation of the site's policies. The company later backed down and opted to label links with a warning that the contents within were "disputed." Like Facebook, Twitter did not subject the New York Times nor the Atlantic to this same suppression.

According to a study by software firm Zignal Labs, Twitter's heavy-handed suppression of the story triggered a huge spike in interest, and doubled its reach. The story was shared 5,500 times every 15 minutes before the ban, and 10,000 times afterwards, an MIT report on the study revealed on Friday. The phenomenon of censorship leading to an upsurge in interest is a well-documented one.
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Magnify

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko investigated for plotting coup

Poroshenko
© Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office has launched a criminal case into an alleged coup plot by former President Petro Poroshenko and his associates, an opposition MP has announced, publishing scans of the relevant documents.

"I publish documents ... about launching an investigation into the facts of illegal seizure of state power, large-scale embezzlement and legalizing 'dirty' money by an organized criminal group" which Poroshenko was allegedly part of, Renat Kuzmin, an MP for the 'Opposition Platform - For Life' political party, wrote on Facebook.

The deputy listed Ukraine's former Acting President Alexander Turchinov, former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy, former Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and former high-ranking MP David Zhvania among the other alleged plotters.

Kuzmin also attached scans of the response from the Prosecutor General's Office to his enquiry on the launch of the criminal case. According to the papers, Poroshenko was investigated over coup attempts in 2013-2014 and in 2020.

Smoking

Yes, Joe Biden WILL raise taxes on those earning less than $400K

Biden
© Adam Schultz/Biden for President
Former VP and presidential candidate Joe Biden
Joe Biden's tax proposals have gone through a variety of iterations over the course of his campaign, but lately, he's settled on a pledge not to raise taxes on those earning under $400,000. This pledge is not consistent with his current proposals, but he's even less likely to be constrained if he's elected president.

Even if Biden claims he would not directly raise income tax rates on those earning under $400,000, there are a number of policy changes he'd make that would directly or indirectly hit taxpayers under that threshold.

As one example, Biden has pledged to bring back Obamacare's individual mandate. Yet in 2018, the last year for which the penalties were still in place, nearly 3.7 million people earning less than $200,000 paid mandate taxes, according to IRS data, which represented nearly 99% of those who had to pay some sort of penalty. And 2.6 million, or about 69% of those who paid the mandate, earned less than $50,000.

Comment: According to the financial analysis: If you vote for Joe, you will be 'paying for it'.


Bad Guys

Indonesia cancels hosting American spy planes amid Sino-US Cold War 4

China US fighter jets flags american
The US and China are smack dab in the middle of a new Cold War. The observation in itself should not be startling to readers - as President Trump's trade war metamorphosed into a technology war over the Chinese tech companies' global dominance. Rapidly deteriorating relations between both superpowers, especially since the virus pandemic, has resulted in increased military action in East Asia.

In the last couple of years, we've pointed out the US has constructed a Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jet "friends circle" around China. More recently, there's been a significant uptick in US spy planes changing their transponder codes to disguise themselves during operations near China.

Bullseye

Lavrov at Valdai: Iron Curtain still separates Russia and the EU

Lavrov
© Unknown
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, is the world's foremost diplomat. The son of an Armenian father and a Russian mother, he's just on another level altogether. Here, once again, we may be able to see why.

Let's start with the annual meeting of the Valdai Club, Russia's premier think tank. Here we may follow the must-watch presentation of the Valdai annual report on "The Utopia of a Diverse World", featuring, among others, Lavrov, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, Dominic Lieven of the University of Cambridge and Yuri Slezkine of UCLA/Berkeley.

It's a rarity to be able to share what amounts to a Himalayan peak in terms of serious political debate. We have, for instance, Lieven - who, half in jest, defined the Valdai report as "Tolstoyian, a little anarchical" - focusing on the current top two, great interlocking challenges: climate change and the fact that "350 years of Western and 250 years of Anglo-American predominance are coming to an end."

Russian Flag

Whistleblower Edward Snowden granted permanent residency in Russia

snowden

Edward Snowden
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted an open-ended permanent residency permit by the Russian Federation.

The former CIA and National Security Agency contractor has been living in exile in Russia since 2013 when he blew the lid off the unprecedented mass surveillance operations conducted by US Intelligence. The US has demanded his extradition to face charges for violating the Espionage Act ever since.

"Snowden was granted an open-ended residence permit earlier today," his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena said Thursday.

Comment: Good on Russia for its protection of human rights. It's fortunate that Russia is not susceptible to the Empire's pressure the way Ecuador was over Assange.


Attention

Kamala Harris speaks at North Carolina rally to crowd of approximately TEN people

kamala harris rally NC
Kamala Harris was in Asheville, NC on Wednesday for a campaign rally, but almost nobody showed up.

The cameras, upon zooming out and panning around at the get-out the vote event, showed just six people present. If there were more people attending, they did not appear on camera, and crowd sounds were not audible.

According to Brietbart, the Asheville event had had to be rescheduled due to concerns when two members of Harris's staff tested positive for the novel coronavirus.