Daily Archives: February 2, 2017

France 24 : Uber CEO quits Trump advisory group after backlash

Uber CEO quits Trump advisory group after backlash


Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, facing criticism from immigration advocates for serving on President Donald Trump’s business advisory group, quit the group on Thursday, the company said.

The CEO of the ride hailing service had been under mounting pressure from activists who oppose the administration’s immigration policies. Critics included Uber drivers, many of whom are immigrants themselves.

“Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that,” Kalanick, who had planned to attend a meeting of the group on Friday, said in an email to staff that was seen by Reuters.

Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler later confirmed that he had left the group.

Social media campaigns had targeted Uber, urging users to delete accounts and opt for rival Lyft Inc. Uber has been emailing users who deleted their accounts to say it shares their concerns and will compensate drivers affected by the ban.

Kalanick said he spoke briefly to Trump about the immigration order “and its issues for our community” and told the president he would not join the economic council.

The CEO came under increasing pressure to leave the council after Trump issued an executive order temporarily barring people from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.

“There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that. The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America,” he wrote in a note to employees.

“Families are being separated, people are stranded overseas and there’s a growing fear the U.S. is no longer a place that welcomes immigrants.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move could put pressure on other CEOs expected to attend a meeting with Trump on Friday. General Motors Co said its chief executive will attend, while Walt Disney Co said earlier Thursday its chief executive would not attend because of a long-planned-board meeting.

Others expected to take part include the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase & Co, Blackstone Group LP, IBM Corp and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Others that are part of the council include Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Boston Consulting Group CEO Rich Lesser.
The departure could signal a growing rift between technology companies and Washington.

“There is a battle brewing between Trump and Silicon Valley,” said Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at Battery Ventures. “They (the Trump administration) clearly don’t value the economic activity generated by tech.”

Microsoft Corp on Thursday said it proposed a modification of Trump’s travel limits.

Technology companies including Microsoft, Google owner Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc have opposed Trump’s order, arguing that they rely on workers from around the world.

Amazon and Expedia Inc have filed court documents supporting a legal challenge to the order by the Washington state attorney general.


France 24 : Romania graft law furor continues as government refuses repeal

Romania graft law furor continues as government refuses repeal


Romania’s new decree diluting the country’s corruption law ignited a furor Thursday, prompting strong criticism from home and abroad and a declaration from the president that he would ask judges to declare it unconstitutional.

Tens of thousands protested for the third nightin Bucharest, the capital, and thousands more in some 20 other Romanian cities, calling for the government to resign after issuing the watered-down emergency decree a day earlier.

But Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said the government would not repeal the decree, deepening the political crisis.

President Klaus Iohannis announced he will take the decree to the Constitutional Court, the last legal resort to stop the law by the ruling center-left Social Democrats, whose leader, Liviu Dragnea, is among those with a corruption conviction.

Protester Florin Varlan, 42, said Thursday evening that he would continue to protest, after Dragnea “came out today and showed he understood nothing.”

The ordinance decriminalizes official misconduct if the funds involved are less than 200,000 lei ($47,800). Critics say the measure helps government allies and other officials facing corruption charges get out of prison or clear their records and claim it will encourage more officials to steal on the job.

Dragnea defended the decree, which did not go through parliament, saying it would not “free corrupt people.” Dragnea also called Iohannis “the moral author” of the sporadic violence that broke out late Wednesday between police and protesters.

Dragnea, who has a two-year suspended prison sentence for vote rigging, says he wants a retrial. The conviction bars him from serving as prime minister, which he says is unfair.

In a statement, the U.S., Germany, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands and France said Romania’s government had undermined “progress on rule of law and the fight against corruption over the past ten years.”

European Commission vice president Frank Timmermans urged the Romanian government on Thursday to “urgently reconsider” the decree, warning that if it is adopted, it could affect the EU funds that Romania gets.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Romania’s international credibility and attractiveness for foreign investment were at stake.

“The United States is deeply concerned about the Government of Romania’s recent measures that undermine rule of law and weaken accountability for financial and corruption-related crimes,” Toner said.

Even some prominent Social Democrats were upset with the decree.

Business Environment Minister Florin Jianu announced his resignation. Mihai Chirica, the mayor of Iasi, urged the government to scrap the decree and send another bill on the topic to Parliament for debate. He also said Justice Minister Florin Iordache should resign.

Iordache, who has come under heavy fire for publishing the decree, has temporarily handed his duties over to a subordinate, a spokeswoman said.


Thank you Alma:  BBC News: Mexican woman returns her US visa in protest at Trump

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

Mexican woman returns her US visa in protest at Trump – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-38847324

“Ginevra de Benci”. (Details.)1474_1478.  Oil on Panel.By Leonardo day Vinci,1452_1519.

“Ginevra de Benci”.



Oil on Panel.

By Leonardo day Vinci,1452_1519.

Italian Artist. Renaissance.

Location:National Gallery of Art,Washington,D.C.

Buburuza .. cusuta Vara sa tina cald Iarna :)

Buburuza .. cusuta Vara sa tina cald Iarna 🙂

“That 395 house” dressed in white!

“That 395 house” dressed in white!


Raggiania: bird-of-paradiseFor More Plz Follow us ; join us ==> Hafid Ennaciri

Watch “Roundtrip Lightroom to Photoshop Editing Workflow” on YouTube

Watch “Roundtrip Lightroom to Photoshop Editing Workflow” on YouTube

BBC News: Romania protests grow over corruption decree

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

Romania protests grow over corruption decree – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38836322

Everyday is a blessing!

Everyday is a blessing

France 24 : US says ‘putting Iran on notice’ after missile test

US says ‘putting Iran on notice’ after missile test


U.S. President Donald Trump took an aggressive posture toward Iran on Wednesday for test-firing a ballistic missile, with his national security adviser declaring “we are officially putting Iran on notice” for what he called a provocation.

The warning from Michael Flynn marked an abrupt change in policy and tone toward Iran from that of Trump’s predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, who had negotiated a 2015nuclear deal with Tehran.

It was Trump‘s sharpest threat against a U.S adversary since taking office on Jan. 20, a warning that could foreshadow more aggressive economic and diplomatic measures against Iran.

Flynn told reporters that, instead of being thankful to the United States for the nuclear deal, “Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

Iran confirmed on Wednesday it had tested a new missile but said it did not breach a nuclear accord reached with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the pact.

The Islamic Republic carried out the test of a medium-range missile on Sunday, a U.S. official said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Flynn said on Wednesday that the missile launch was in defiance of the 2015 Security Council resolution. While signaling a more muscular U.S. foreign policy that Trump has said he would pursue, the meaning of Flynn’s comment was unclear.

Three senior U.S. officials who briefed reporters at the White House said a range of options, including economic sanctions, was being considered on how to respond and that a broad review was being conducted of the U.S. posture toward Iran.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to say whether a military option was on the table.

“We are in the process of evaluating the strategic options and the framework for how we want to approach these issues,” one official said. “We do not want to be premature or rash or take any action that would foreclose options or unnecessarily contribute to a negative response.”

Crude oil futures rallied on Wednesday, jumping more than $1 a barrel on geopolitical concerns after Iran confirmed the missile test and bulls found support in reports on production cuts.

The Islamic Republic has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Trump became president.

Flynn, in his first appearance in the White House press briefing room, said the missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel by Iran-allied Houthi militants off the coast of Yemen underscored “Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”

Richard Nephew, a former Obama administration official who was a U.S. negotiator with Iran on the deal, said Flynn’s comment could backfire.

“I think this will create an impetus for the Iranians to ‘resist’ and ‘defy’ more, and that could well create an escalatory cycle with Iran,” he said. “Being tough with Iran is one thing, but you have to back it up and bring partners with you. Is Flynn prepared to deal with what comes from that?”

Trump has frequently criticized the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, calling the agreement weak and ineffective.

While campaigning in September, then-candidate Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy would be “shot out of the water” if he is elected.

A section of U.N. resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Trump and Saudi Arabia’s ruler, King Salman, spoke by phone on Sunday and were described by the White House as agreeing on the importance of enforcing the deal and “addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”

Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based policy group that advised Trump during the campaign and has continued to consult with the new administration on Iran, said the missile test was the 12th since the 2015 Iran deal.

“It’s going to provide further justification for what we expect over the coming months, which is new congressional sanctions, new administration sanctions and a message … that Iranian aggression needs to be punished and deterred,” Dubowitz told Reuters on Tuesday.

Trump is due to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strident critic of the Iran deal, at the White House on Feb. 15. The two leaders are expected to try to coordinate strategy on Iran, Israel’s regional archfoe.


France 24 : UK government publishes Brexit strategy

UK government publishes Brexit strategy


The British government on Thursday presented its Brexit strategy to parliament, publishing 12 objectives that it believes will secure “a new, positive and constructive partnership” with the EU.

Brexit minister David Davis unveiled the “White Paper” to the House of Commons, a day after MPs there approved the first stage of a bill empowering Prime Minister Theresa May to start pulling Britain out of the European Union.

May insisted that the government did “not approach these negotiations expecting failure, but anticipating success” in the foreword to the paper, entitled “The United Kingdom‘s exit from and new partnership with the European Union“.

She called on both sides of the debate to move on from the bitter referendum campaign and aftermath of the shock June 23 vote.

“After all the division and discord, the country is coming together,” she said. “The referendum was divisive at times. And those divisions have taken time to heal.

“The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the outcome. And the country comes together,” she said.

The document confirmed that Britain would be leaving the EU’s single market in order to control immigration, but Davis said the government would seek a “bold and ambitious free trade agreement” and “a new positive and constructive partnership”.

Davis stressed that it was the government’s “firm view that it’s in the UK’s interest for the European Union to succeed”.

Opposition Brexit minister Keir Starmer criticised the government for releasing the 77-page document minutes before the debate in parliament, and called on Davis to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain.

Davis said Britain would not be “throwing any people out” as a result of Brexit, but that he needed similar assurances from EU leaders over the fate of British residents on the continent.

MPs on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow the government to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty and formally begin two years of exit negotiations, by a margin of 498 to 114.

It was the first Brexit-related vote in the House of Commons, coming after more than 17 hours of debate, with a second and final vote in the lower house set for next week before expected approval by the House of Lords next month.


France 24 : Romanian govt under pressure amid protests against graft law

Romanian govt under pressure amid protests against graft law


Romania’s justice minister temporarily ceded his duties and another cabinet figure resigned on Thursday as cracks appeared in the leftist-led government over a corruption decree that has sparked the biggest protests since the 1989 fall of communism.

The morning after 250,000 Romanians took to the streets, Romania’s trade and business minister, Florin Jianu, quit over the decree, which could effectively amnesty dozens of officials accused of corruption, saying he wanted to be able to look his child in the eye.

The state news agency Agerpres then reported that Justice Minister Florin Iordache, architect of the decree, had ceded his duties to his deputy until Feb. 7.

A ministry official cited the toll of “intense activities” around the adoption of the government’s 2017 spending plan.

The government order, hastily adopted late on Tuesday, has triggered some of the biggest nationwide demonstrations since Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist rule ended in a popular uprising and a Christmas Day firing squad in 1989.

Romania, a country of 20 million people, joined the European Union in 2007, but has struggled to combat endemic corruption. The decree would, among other things, decriminalise abuse-of-power offences in which the sums involved are less than 200,000 lei ($48,000).

Critics say this would roll back what progress has been made against graft. The decree has also drawn fire from the United States, Germany and the European Commission.

With fresh protests announced for Thursday, Jianu announced via Facebook that he was resigning. It is the “ethical thing to do,” he said, “not for my professional honesty, my conscience is clean on that front, but for my child”.

“How am I going to look him in the eye and what am I going to tell him over the years? Am I going to tell him his father was a coward and supported actions he does not believe in, or that he chose to walk away from a story that isn’t his?”

Court challenge

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has shown no sign of giving ground, but a vice-president of the ruling Social Democrats (PSD), Mihai Chirica, added to the signs of strain when he urged the government on Thursday to rescind the decree.

President Klaus Iohannis, a former leader of the opposition centre-right Liberal Party, followed Romania’s top judicial watchdog in filing a legal challenge to the decree with the Constitutional Court. The court has yet to say when it will consider the challenge.

The decree is due to take effect in a little over one week. The government says the order, and a draft bill on jail pardons, are needed to ease prison over-crowding and bring the criminal code into line with recent constitutional court rulings.

Critics say it is tailor-made to benefit dozens of public officials under investigation or on trial for corruption, including PSD leader Liviu Dragnea. The government denies this.

Anti-corruption prosecutors, currently investigating more than 2,000 abuse-of-power cases, said on Thursday they had received a complaint about how the decree was drafted and were investigating.

The Social Democrats were driven from power by protests in late 2015 after a nightclub fire killed 64 people and triggered widespread anger over corruption and impunity when it emerged the venue lacked emergency exits and safety permits.

They regained power in a December election on promises to raise wages and pensions.

“The Social Democrats are testing how far they can go,” anti-corruption legal expert Laura Stefan said.

“If we accept they can approve emergency decrees without transparency, then tomorrow they will adopt others and so on. We will wake up without institutions overnight.”


France 24 : Trump outburst imperils US-Australia asylum deal

Trump outburst imperils US-Australia asylum deal


Confusion reigns over the fate of a refugee resettlement deal agreed last year between Australia and the Obama administration after reports surfaced of a fiery weekend phone call between US President Donald Trump and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

Relations between Washington and Canberra, staunch historical allies, appear to have soured unexpectedly.

Citing “senior US officials briefed on Saturday’s exchange”, The Washington Post reporteddetails Wednesday of an allegedly heated exchange between the two leaders that strayed significantly from the official accounts of the call. Trump told Turnbull it was “the worst call by far” of the day, which had also included a talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the newspaper reported.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation cited “senior Australian Government officials” saying the report is “substantially accurate”.

For his part, Turnbull expressed disappointment at the purported leaks, citing Canberra’s policy to not “reveal details of conversations other than in a manner that is agreed”. But the prime minister did deny the report that Trump hung up on him, telling a Sydney radio station that the call ended “courteously”.

The crux of Trump’s quarrel with Turnbull regards an agreement negotiated with Barack Obama in November to resettle asylum seekers held on Pacific islands on Australia’s behalf.

“This the worst deal ever,” The Post reported Trump saying during the call that took place after Trump signed an executive ordertemporarily banning refugees as well astravellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“I don’t want these people,” Trump is said to have told Turnbull. The president complained to the Australian leader that he was “going to get killed” politically and said Australia was looking to export the “next Boston bombers” to the United States, referring to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two American citizens native of Kyrgyzstan who attacked the 2013 Boston marathon.

About four hours after the Washington Post report – and despite a variety of assurances before and after the report from Turnbull, the US State Department, the US embassy in Canberra and the president’s own press secretary that the deal would go ahead – Trump tweeted, “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

Australia holds more than a thousand boatpeople in offshore detention centres on the small Pacific island nation of Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Hundreds more are detained in Australia after being transferred from the islands for medical treatment. The Australian offshore detention policy has drawn criticism from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Some detainees have been held for more than three years in grim conditions.

Last August, British newspaper The Guardian cast a harsh spotlight on the policy in its award-winning series “The Nauru Files”. The series drew on more than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s Nauru camp to “set out as never before the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty”.

Months earlier, in April, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court declared the Manus facility unconstitutional, leading the country’s prime minister to say it would be closed, spurring Australia to seek other options for the detainees while insisting they would not be resettled in Australia.

The November deal with Obama came shortly after Turnbull had agreed at an Obama-hosted New York summit in September to resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as part of a US-led resettlement program, leading some to dub the pair of deals a “refugee swap”.

In the days after the weekend Trump-Turnbull call, players on both sides seemed to indicate the resettlement deal would go ahead after many had feared it would be imperiled by Trump’s moratorium on refugees; many of the asylum seekers held by Australia are from Iran and Iraq, two countries subject to Trump’s travel ban.

“Any substantial delay in the relocation of refugees… would be highly concerning from a humanitarian perspective,” Catherine Stubberfield, a spokeswoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told Reuters last week. “These men, women and children can no longer afford to wait.”

After his weekend call with Washington, Turnbull had told reporters that he and Trump “discussed the resettlement arrangement of refugees from Nauru and Manus, which had been entered into with the previous administration, and I thank President Trump for his commitment to honour that existing agreement.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday had told reporters, “The deal specifically deals with 1,250 people that are mostly in Papua New Guinea being held.” He added: “Part of the deal is that they have to be vetted in the same manner that we’re doing now. There will be extreme vetting applied to all of them.”

Reports of the rift caused a shock in Australia. It rated as breaking news in the country and a surprise given the strong trade, military and intelligence ties the pair of nations has enjoyed historically.

Australia belongs to the so-called “Five Eyes” network, one of only four trusted allies alongside Britain, Canada and New Zealand with which the US shares sensitive intelligence as a matter of routine. The US and Australia have also been allies in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Not business buddies

Moreover, Turnbull and Trump appeared poised get along.

“I suppose as both being businessmen who found our way into politics somewhat later in life, we come to the problems of our own nations and indeed world problems with a pragmatic approach,” Turnbull told reporters after his post-election phone call with President-elect Trump back in November, a discussion Turnbull said “could not have been warmer”.

But Trump’s brand of pragmatism may be more than Turnbull bargained for.

The Washington Post’s report cited officials saying Trump was sceptical of the deal because he did not see a specific advantage associated with the US honouring it, leading the newspaper to opine that “Trump’s position appears to reflect the transactional view he takes of relationships, even when it comes to diplomatic ties with long-standing allies”.

News of the clash with Canberra came amid reports Trump had again spurned Mexico, claiming he was ready to send US troops to its southern neighbour. “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto, according to an excerpt obtained by the Associated Press of a conversation last Friday. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

Trump referenced his controversial conversations Thursday at a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, telling the gathering, “When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it, just don’t worry about it.” He told the large crowd that the world is “in trouble” and that the US is being taken advantage of by most other countries. “We’re going to straighten it out,” he said. “That’s what I do. I fix things.”

BBC News: Fukushima nuclear disaster: Worker sues Tepco over cancer

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Worker sues Tepco over cancer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-38843691

BBC News: Will this border fence stop militants attacking Kenya?

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

Will this border fence stop militants attacking Kenya? – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-38826078

BBC News: UC Berkeley halts Milo Yiannopoulos talk amid violent protest

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

UC Berkeley halts Milo Yiannopoulos talk amid violent protest – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38837142

BBC News: Trump cabinet: Rex Tillerson sworn in as top US diplomat

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

Trump cabinet: Rex Tillerson sworn in as top US diplomat – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38835462

BBC News: US defence chief Mattis says South Korea alliance is ‘strong’

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

US defence chief Mattis says South Korea alliance is ‘strong’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-38824008