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Sun, 16 Jun 2019
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Plot to spy on Chamber critics prompts Democratic call for congressional probe

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© Unknown
Will congressional Republicans investigate their allies at the Chamber of Commerce over an alleged plot to spy on and discredit their most effective critics in the media?

Probably not, but that won't stop at least one group of House Democrats from mounting a very public call for inquiry.

In a letter provided in advance to The Washington Post, a group of Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that anti-terror tactics had been adopted for use against Americans by the private sector. The letter was authored by Rep. Hank Johnson and more than a dozen others, the Post noted.

Dollar

Ex-Goldman director charged in insider case

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© Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images
Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta, shown here in a file photo, has been accused of insider trading related to the Galleon hedge fund scandal.
New York - A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director was charged by U.S. securities regulators with leaking inside information about the investment bank's results to Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Rajat Gupta of illegally disclosing information about quarterly earnings at Goldman and Procter & Gamble Co, where he has also been a director.

It also said Gupta, a longtime executive at the consultant McKinsey & Co, tipped Rajaratnam in September 2008 about a pending $5 billion investment by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc in Goldman.

That investment was widely seen as helping ensure stability for Goldman at the height of the global financial crisis.

Rajaratnam used the leaked tips from Gupta, a "friend and business associate," to trade for Galleon funds, generating more than $18 million of illegal gains, the SEC said.

"Gupta was honored with the highest trust of leading public companies, and he betrayed that trust by disclosing their most sensitive and valuable secrets," SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami said in a statement.

The 62-year-old Gupta is one of the highest-ranking officials implicated in the government's wide-ranging insider trading probe, which has resulted in criminal or civil charges against dozens of individuals.


Black Cat

End this human rights insanity: PM's fury as judges rule paedophiles and rapists should have chance to get off sex offenders' register

David Cameron declared war on unelected judges yesterday after they put the human rights of paedophiles and rapists before public safety.

The Prime Minister said he was 'appalled' that Britain's 50,000 sex offenders can appeal against being kept on a police register for life.

In a highly-charged intervention, Mr Cameron called for an overhaul of the 'completely offensive' rulings from the European Court of Human Rights which have influenced our own judges.

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© Press Association
Anger: David Cameron during Prime Minister's Question Time. He described a ruling over sex offenders' rights to apply to have their name removed from the register as 'completely offensive'
'It's about time we started making sure decisions are made in this Parliament rather than in the courts,' Mr Cameron said.

And he announced plans to ensure MPs make laws rather than the judiciary.

He told MPs that a commission to draw up a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act will be set up 'imminently'.

Sherlock

'Madeleine McCann in America' claim is probed

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© Press Association
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann today welcomed new information which suggests their daughter may be in America
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann today welcomed new information which suggests their daughter may be in America.

A spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann said an investigator had done "absolutely the right thing" by going to police with his suspicions.

Today's Sun newspaper quoted amateur sleuth Marcelino Italiano as saying Madeleine had been snatched by an Algarve-based paedophile ring which had taken a dozen other children.

The Angolan-born nightclub bouncer said: "I know these people were involved and I have been told that Madeleine may now be in America."

He has handed a dossier including the names of two prominent Portuguese businessmen to police in Huelva, south-west Spain, the newspaper said.

Crusader

Libyan rebels celebrate win in battle near Tripoli

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© AP/Ben Curtis
A pro-Gadhafi Libyan soldier in an armoured vehicle next to a mosque in Qasr Banashir, southeast of the capital Tripoli.
Tripoli, Libya - Residents of the rebel-held city closest to Libya's capital passed out sweets and cold drinks to fighters Tuesday and celebrated with a victory march after they managed to repel an overnight attack by forces loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Pro-Gadhafi forces also were repelled as they tried to retake two other opposition-held cities: Misrata, Libya's third-largest city 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, and Zintan, 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of the Libyan capital.

The rebels have been fighting to consolidate their gains as the international community weighs new moves to isolate the longtime Libyan leader, including the possibility of creating a no-fly zone over Libya. But Gadhafi loyalists have made several advances to try to reclaim areas close to his main stronghold of Tripoli.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that Libya is at risk of collapsing into a "protracted civil war" amid increasingly violent clashes between the two sides.

Dollar

Wisconsin governor to announce $1 billion in budget cuts

Governor Scott Walker of the US state of Wisconsin will announce $1 billion dollars in budget cuts over the next two years in a speech before a joint session of the state legislature at 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The draconian cuts to state, local and municipal services will hit public education the hardest, eliminating $900 million for kindergarten through 12th grade instruction. Walker will also impose severe cuts on Medicaid, the health care program for the poor.

The budget cuts are galvanizing popular opposition to the Republican governor, who is also seeking the destruction of the living standards and workplace rights of the state's 175,000 teachers, nurses and other public employees. Over the last two weeks, nearly 300,000 public and private sector workers and youth have been engaged in daily protests at the state capitol in Madison against Walker's "budget repair" bill.

Walker told a Madison television station, "Overall there will be over a billion dollars cut when it comes to schools, local governments across the board."

Handcuffs

Pirate: Captive Danes will die if rescue attempted

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© Associated Press
Map shows last known location of family
Copenhagen, Denmark - Any attempt to rescue a Danish family captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean will result their deaths - just like the four American sailors slain by their captors last week, a Somali pirate warned Tuesday.

Maritime experts said the Danes - a couple with three teenage children aged 12 to 16 - placed themselves in grave danger by sailing into pirate-infested waters off Somalia's lawless coast despite warnings from naval forces struggling to police the area.

The family was captured Thursday by pirates along with two Danish adult crew members after sending a distress signal from their sailboat, the Danish government said, adding it was doing "everything in our power" to help them.

Abdullahi Mohamed, a pirate who told The Associated Press he has ties to the gang holding the Danish family, said they will be killed if any rescue operation was carried out. He specifically referred to the killings last week of four American hostages captured by pirates on their yacht.

Cut

Intrigue and mystery: lawsuit reveals cutthroat competition in software management industry

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© Bruno Schlumberger
Paul Loucks, CEO of Halogen Software, and his company are fighting allegations in a California court that the company improperly created a company to pose as a client interested in Halogen?s software.
Ottawa Canada - In its 10-year history, Halogen Software has never faced anything like this. The company - co-founded by former Corel executive Michael Slaunwhite and run by Paul Loucks - survived the dot-com crash, then built a performance-management software business estimated to generate $40 million a year in revenue.

Now it is defending itself against a lawsuit that is showing the firm, its tactics and ethics in a less-than-flattering light.

With more than 20 rivals in its niche, Halogen exists in a cutthroat world where newcomers appear frequently and competitors trash one another's claims with impunity. Litigation is common.

In this case, one of Halogen's California rivals - SuccessFactors of San Mateo - is suing the Ottawa firm for engaging in fraudulent business practices in order to gain deeper insight into SuccessFactors' product lines. The specific allegation: that Halogen established a fake firm, The Magnus Group, that posed as a customer interested in buying SuccessFactors' software. Court documents allege that Halogen used the knowledge gained to improve its own software platform at SuccessFactors' expense.

''Halogen devised an elaborate scam, entailing months of planning and execution,'' SuccessFactors alleged in its motion for a temporary restraining order, ''all in order to steal and exploit SuccessFactors' non-public, proprietary information and materials to further Halogen's own product improvement.''

Radar

Fox News Will Not Be Moving Into Canada After All

As America's middle class battles for its survival on the Wisconsin barricades -- against various Koch Oil surrogates and the corporate toadies at Fox News -- fans of enlightenment, democracy and justice can take comfort from a significant victory north of Wisconsin border. Fox News will not be moving into Canada after all! The reason: Canada regulators today announced they would reject efforts by Canada's right wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news.

Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may not broadcast....any false or misleading news." The provision has kept Fox News and right wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1988. Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the U.S. airwaves. When Stephen Harper moved to abolish anti-lying provision of the Radio Act, Canadians rose up to oppose him fearing that their tradition of honest non partisan news would be replaced by the toxic, overtly partisan, biased and dishonest news coverage familiar to American citizens who listen to Fox News and talk radio. Harper's proposal was timed to facilitate the launch of a new right wing network, "Sun TV News" which Canadians call "Fox News North."

2 + 2 = 4

Iraq protests show a democracy hijacked by '100 mini-Saddams'

Of all the protests raging across the Middle East, Iraq stands out because it has already undergone recent radical political change. Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003 and Iraqis have held half a dozen rounds of elections, but people still do not feel their government represents them. The lesson is clear: going to the ballot box does not by itself constitute a democracy.

This might be because eight years after the end of autocracy, citizens and elected officials seem to have little or no understanding of democratic institutions. Friday's "day of rage" protests, when as many as 15 were killed, showed that Iraqis have been unable to differentiate between rallying for a cause, and simply expressing frustration mixed with violence. In one example, angry protesters in the governorate of Wasit burnt the mayor's offices, a key institution of local government.

Harbouring grievances against the elected mayor, who was elected in 2008, is legitimate. But setting fire to a public building, which actually is owned by the protesters as much as anybody else, shows the lack of a distinction between the mayor and public offices in general. And protesters shouldn't be resorting to arson anyway.