Alaska Governor Drops Re-Election Bid, Backs Democrat

Alaska Governor Bill Walker, a political independent, halted his re-election campaign Friday and endorsed his Democratic challenger, ending a three-way race in which the Republican candidate had appeared to possess an insurmountable lead.

With 18 days remaining before the Nov. 6 election, Walker, 67, said he concluded that he could not win a second term in a race against former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, and former state legislator Mike Dunleavy, a Republican.

Walker’s withdrawal came three days after his former running mate, Byron Mallott, abruptly resigned as lieutenant governor over admitted but unspecified “inappropriate comments” in a scandal that threw the governor’s campaign into disarray.

Republican well ahead in polls

But public opinion surveys were already showing Dunleavy well ahead of the two other men and indicated Begich had greater support than the incumbent governor.

Consulting for days on whether Walker or Begich had a better shot at running a competitive race against Dunleavy, the “determination was made that, at this point, Begich has the better odds,” the governor said in a statement posted on his campaign’s website.

Walker also said Begich’s positions on various key issues “more closely align with my priorities for Alaska,” including their support for Medicaid expansion in Alaska and state action on climate change. Dunleavy opposes both.

“Today’s developments leave Alaska voters with a clear choice,” Dunleavy’s campaign said after learning Walker halted his re-election campaign.

A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, Dunleavy has focused his campaign on criticizing Walker for reducing the annual oil-fund dividends all Alaska residents receive.

Walker has said limiting the payout was necessary to address big budget deficits. Dunleavy has advocated deeper spending cuts and more oil and mining development.

The latest announcement came at the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives, a powerful constituency in the state, just before Walker, Begich and Dunleavy were all scheduled to participate in a gubernatorial debate.

Begich and Walker, whose name will remain on the ballot despite his withdrawal, were widely seen as likely to take votes away from each other in a three-way race.

Walker a former Republican

Walker changed his party affiliation from Republican to independent before launching his successful 2014 campaign for governor on a “unity” ticket with Mallot, a Democrat, as his running mate.

In his remarks at the Alaska Federation of Natives conference, Walker said his supporters would have to decide for themselves who they favored in a two-man race but said he planned to vote for Begich.

Walker’s campaign spokesman previously acknowledged that representatives for the governor and Begich had been in talks on a “path forward” even before Mallott stepped down from office.

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Alaska Governor Drops Re-Election Bid, Backs Democrat

Alaska Governor Bill Walker, a political independent, halted his re-election campaign Friday and endorsed his Democratic challenger, ending a three-way race in which the Republican candidate had appeared to possess an insurmountable lead.

With 18 days remaining before the Nov. 6 election, Walker, 67, said he concluded that he could not win a second term in a race against former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, and former state legislator Mike Dunleavy, a Republican.

Walker’s withdrawal came three days after his former running mate, Byron Mallott, abruptly resigned as lieutenant governor over admitted but unspecified “inappropriate comments” in a scandal that threw the governor’s campaign into disarray.

Republican well ahead in polls

But public opinion surveys were already showing Dunleavy well ahead of the two other men and indicated Begich had greater support than the incumbent governor.

Consulting for days on whether Walker or Begich had a better shot at running a competitive race against Dunleavy, the “determination was made that, at this point, Begich has the better odds,” the governor said in a statement posted on his campaign’s website.

Walker also said Begich’s positions on various key issues “more closely align with my priorities for Alaska,” including their support for Medicaid expansion in Alaska and state action on climate change. Dunleavy opposes both.

“Today’s developments leave Alaska voters with a clear choice,” Dunleavy’s campaign said after learning Walker halted his re-election campaign.

A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, Dunleavy has focused his campaign on criticizing Walker for reducing the annual oil-fund dividends all Alaska residents receive.

Walker has said limiting the payout was necessary to address big budget deficits. Dunleavy has advocated deeper spending cuts and more oil and mining development.

The latest announcement came at the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives, a powerful constituency in the state, just before Walker, Begich and Dunleavy were all scheduled to participate in a gubernatorial debate.

Begich and Walker, whose name will remain on the ballot despite his withdrawal, were widely seen as likely to take votes away from each other in a three-way race.

Walker a former Republican

Walker changed his party affiliation from Republican to independent before launching his successful 2014 campaign for governor on a “unity” ticket with Mallot, a Democrat, as his running mate.

In his remarks at the Alaska Federation of Natives conference, Walker said his supporters would have to decide for themselves who they favored in a two-man race but said he planned to vote for Begich.

Walker’s campaign spokesman previously acknowledged that representatives for the governor and Begich had been in talks on a “path forward” even before Mallott stepped down from office.

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Saudis Admit the Death of Khashoggi; Crown Prince in Charge of Investigation

Saudi Arabia has admitted that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Saudi state-run media says Khashoggi died after an altercation in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and it is promising a one-month investigation. VOA’s diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine reports from the State Department on the dramatic developments in Riyadh.

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Saudis Admit the Death of Khashoggi; Crown Prince in Charge of Investigation

Saudi Arabia has admitted that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Saudi state-run media says Khashoggi died after an altercation in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and it is promising a one-month investigation. VOA’s diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine reports from the State Department on the dramatic developments in Riyadh.

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Hackers Breach HealthCare.gov System, Get Data on 75,000

A government computer system that interacts with HealthCare.gov was hacked earlier this month, compromising the sensitive personal data of some 75,000 people, officials said Friday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the announcement late in the afternoon ahead of a weekend, a time agencies often use to release unfavorable developments.

Officials said the hacked system was shut down and technicians are working to restore it before sign-up season starts Nov. 1 for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

About 10 million people have private coverage under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Consumers applying for subsidized coverage have to provide extensive personal information, including Social Security numbers, income, and citizenship or legal immigration status.

The system that was hacked is used by insurance agents and brokers to directly enroll customers. All other sign-up systems are working.

CMS spokesman Johnathan Monroe said “nothing happened” to the HealthCare.gov website used by the general public. “This concerns the agent and broker portal, which is not accessible to the general public,” he said.

Federal law enforcement has been alerted, and affected customers will be notified and offered credit protection.

President Donald Trump promised to repeal “Obamacare” but failed.

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Hackers Breach HealthCare.gov System, Get Data on 75,000

A government computer system that interacts with HealthCare.gov was hacked earlier this month, compromising the sensitive personal data of some 75,000 people, officials said Friday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the announcement late in the afternoon ahead of a weekend, a time agencies often use to release unfavorable developments.

Officials said the hacked system was shut down and technicians are working to restore it before sign-up season starts Nov. 1 for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

About 10 million people have private coverage under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Consumers applying for subsidized coverage have to provide extensive personal information, including Social Security numbers, income, and citizenship or legal immigration status.

The system that was hacked is used by insurance agents and brokers to directly enroll customers. All other sign-up systems are working.

CMS spokesman Johnathan Monroe said “nothing happened” to the HealthCare.gov website used by the general public. “This concerns the agent and broker portal, which is not accessible to the general public,” he said.

Federal law enforcement has been alerted, and affected customers will be notified and offered credit protection.

President Donald Trump promised to repeal “Obamacare” but failed.

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Financial Watchdog: Regulate Cryptocurrencies Now, Or Else

A global financial body says governments worldwide must establish rules for virtual currencies like bitcoin to stop criminals from using them to launder money or finance terrorism.

The Financial Action Task Force said Friday that from next year it will start assessing whether countries are doing enough to fight criminal use of virtual currencies.

Countries that don’t could risk being effectively put on a “gray list” by the FATF, which can scare away investors.

Marshall Billingslea, an assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who holds the FATF’s rotating leadership, said, “We’ve made clear today that every jurisdiction must establish” virtual currency rules. “It’s no longer optional.”

The FATF described how the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have used virtual currencies.

Financial regulators worldwide have struggled to deal with the rise of electronic alternatives to traditional money.

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Financial Watchdog: Regulate Cryptocurrencies Now, Or Else

A global financial body says governments worldwide must establish rules for virtual currencies like bitcoin to stop criminals from using them to launder money or finance terrorism.

The Financial Action Task Force said Friday that from next year it will start assessing whether countries are doing enough to fight criminal use of virtual currencies.

Countries that don’t could risk being effectively put on a “gray list” by the FATF, which can scare away investors.

Marshall Billingslea, an assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who holds the FATF’s rotating leadership, said, “We’ve made clear today that every jurisdiction must establish” virtual currency rules. “It’s no longer optional.”

The FATF described how the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have used virtual currencies.

Financial regulators worldwide have struggled to deal with the rise of electronic alternatives to traditional money.

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Former Deputy UK Leader Nick Clegg Takes Post with Facebook

Facebook has hired former U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to head its global policy and communications teams, enlisting a veteran of European Union politics to help it with increased regulatory scrutiny in the region.

Clegg, 51, will become a vice president of the social media giant, and report to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Clegg will be called upon to help Facebook and other Silicon Valley stalwarts grapple with a changing regulatory landscape globally. European Union regulators are interested in reining in mostly American tech giants who they blame for avoiding tax, stifling competition and encroaching on privacy rights.

Clegg led the Liberal Democrats from 2007 to 2015, including five years in the coalition government with the Conservatives. He lost his Sheffield Hallam seat at last year’s general election.

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Former Deputy UK Leader Nick Clegg Takes Post with Facebook

Facebook has hired former U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to head its global policy and communications teams, enlisting a veteran of European Union politics to help it with increased regulatory scrutiny in the region.

Clegg, 51, will become a vice president of the social media giant, and report to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Clegg will be called upon to help Facebook and other Silicon Valley stalwarts grapple with a changing regulatory landscape globally. European Union regulators are interested in reining in mostly American tech giants who they blame for avoiding tax, stifling competition and encroaching on privacy rights.

Clegg led the Liberal Democrats from 2007 to 2015, including five years in the coalition government with the Conservatives. He lost his Sheffield Hallam seat at last year’s general election.

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