Category Archives: News

worldwide news

Twitter Employee ‘Inadvertently’ Deactivates Trump Account

President Donald Trump’s @realdonaldtrump Twitter account was “inadvertently deactivated” by a Twitter Inc. employee Thursday and was down for 11 minutes before it was restored, the social media company said.

“Earlier today @realdonaldtrump’s account was inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee,” the company said in a tweet.

“We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again,” it added.

A Twitter representative declined to comment further. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has made extensive use of messages on Twitter to attack his opponents and promote his policies, both during the 2016 presidential campaign and since taking office in January. He has 41.7 million followers on Twitter.

His first tweet after Thursday’s outage:

In a similar incident last November, Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s account was briefly suspended as a result of what he said was an internal mistake.

Twitter Employee, on Last Day, Deactivates Trump Account

U.S. President Donald Trump’s @realdonaldtrump Twitter account was deactivated by a Twitter Inc employee whose last day at the company was Thursday, and the account was down for 11 minutes before it was restored, the social media company said.

“We have learned that this was done by a Twitter customer-support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review,” Twitter said in a tweet.

“We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again,” the company said in an earlier tweet.

A Twitter representative declined to comment further.

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

Trump has made extensive use of messages on Twitter to attack his opponents and promote his policies both during the 2016 presidential campaign and since taking office in January.

He has 41.7 million followers on Twitter.

His first tweet after Thursday’s outage:

In a similar incident last November, Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s account was briefly suspended as a result of what he said was an internal mistake.

Facebook Pressured to Notify People Who Saw Russian Posts

Facebook received several tongue-lashings during U.S. congressional hearings this week, but the world’s largest social network also got an assignment: Figure out how to notify tens of millions of Americans who might have been fed Russian propaganda.

U.S. lawmakers and some tech analysts are pressing the company to identify users who were served about 80,000 posts on Facebook, 120,000 on its Instagram picture-sharing app, and 3,000 ads that the company has traced to alleged Russian operatives, and to inform them.

The posts from Russia were designed to divide Americans, particularly around the 2016 U.S. elections, according to Facebook, U.S. intelligence agencies and lawmakers. The Russian government has denied it tried to meddle in the elections.

“When you discover a deceptive foreign government presentation on your platform, my presumption, from what you’ve said today — you’ll stop it and take it down,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed told Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday.

“Do you feel an obligation, in turn, to notify those people who have accessed that? And can you do that? And shouldn’t you do that?” Reed asked.

Stretch responded that he was not sure Facebook could identify the people because its estimates have relied on modeling, rather than actual counts, but he did not rule it out.

“The technical challenges associated with that undertaking are substantial,” Stretch said.

Critics of Facebook on social media and in media interviews have expressed skepticism, noting that the company closely tracks user activity such as likes and clicks for advertising purposes.

Facebook declined to comment on Thursday.

As many as 126 million people could have been served the posts on Facebook and 20 million on Instagram, according to company estimates.

Social media critics

Many of them will not believe they were manipulated unless Facebook tells them, said Tristan Harris of Time Well Spent, an organization critical of advertising-based social media.

“Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene, and they’re the only ones with access to what happened,” Harris, an ex-Google employee, said in an interview Thursday.

The 2.1 billion people with active Facebook accounts often get notifications from the service, on everything from birthdays and upcoming events to friend requests and natural disasters.

Shortly before 6 p.m. EDT on Thursday, more than 83,000 people had signed a online petition asking Facebook to tell users about the Russian posts.

Lawyers for Twitter and Alphabet’s Google also said their companies would consider notifying customers.

The intelligence committee’s vice chairman, Senator Mark Warner, drew an analogy to another industry.

“If you were in a medical facility, and you got exposed to a disease, the medical facility would have to tell the folks who were exposed,” Warner said.

IN PHOTOS: A Look at Russian Social Media Election ‘Meddling’

‘Duty to warn’

U.S. law includes a concept known as “post-sale duty to warn,” which may require notifying previous buyers if a manufacturer discovers a problem with a product.

That legal duty likely does not apply to Facebook, said Christopher Robinette, a law professor at Widener University in Pennsylvania. He said courts would likely rule that social media posts are not a product but a service, which is exempt from the duty. Courts also do not want to interfere in free speech, he said.

Robinette added, though, that he thought notifications to users would be a good idea. “This strikes me as a fairly significant problem,” he said.

Pressure Mounts on Apple to Live Up to Hype for iPhone X

The iPhone X’s lush screen, facial-recognition skills and $1,000 price tag are breaking new ground in Apple’s marquee product line.


Now, the much-anticipated device is testing the patience of consumers and investors as demand outstrips suppliers’ capacity.


Apple said Thursday that iPhone sales rose 3 percent in the July-September quarter, a period that saw the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus come out in the final weeks. Sales could have been higher if many customers hadn’t been waiting for the iPhone X, which comes out Friday.

Apple shipped 46.7 million iPhones during the period, according to its fiscal fourth-quarter report released Thursday. That’s up from 45.5 million at the same time last year after the iPhone 7 came out, but represents a step back from the same time in 2015, when Apple shipped 48 million iPhones during the quarter.


As with recent quarters, one of the main sources of Apple’s growth is coming from its services, which are anchored by an app store that feeds the iPhone and other devices.


Revenue in that division surged 34 percent to $8.5 billion during the July-September period. All told, Apple earned $10.7 billion on revenue of $52.6 billion, compared with a $9 billion profit on revenue of $46.9 billion a year earlier.


Apple shares are up 3 percent in after-hours trading.


Nonetheless, the just-ended quarter largely became an afterthought once Apple decided to release the iPhone X six weeks after the iPhone 8.

“The Super Bowl for Apple is the iPhone X,” GBH analyst Daniel Ives said. “That is the potential game changer.”


But it also brings a potential stumbling block. While conspiracy theorists might suspect that Apple is artificially reducing supply to generate buzz, analysts say the real reason is that Apple’s suppliers so far haven’t been to manufacture the iPhone X quickly enough.

Making the iPhone X is proving to be a challenge because it boasts a color-popping OLED screen, which isn’t as readily available as standard LCD displays in other iPhone models. The new iPhone also requires more sophisticated components to power the facial-recognition technology for unlocking the device.


Even with the iPhone X’s delayed release, Apple is still struggling to catch up. Apple is now giving delivery times of five to six weeks for those ordering in advance online (limited supplies will be available in Apple stores for the formal release Friday). Most analysts are predicting Apple won’t be able to catch up with demand until early next year.


On Thursday, Apple predicted revenue for this quarter from $84 billion to $87 billion. Analysts, who have already factored in the supply challenges, expected $85.2 billion, according to FactSet.


Analysts are expecting Apple to ship 80 million iPhones during the current quarter, which includes the crucial holiday shopping season, according to FactSet. That would be slightly better than the same time last year.


Apple is counting on the iPhone X to drive even higher-than-usual sales during the first nine months of next year — a scenario that might not play out if production problems persist and impatient consumers turn instead to phones from Google or Samsung.


“What Apple needs to do is manage consumer expectations so they don’t get frustrated having to wait for so long for a new phone,” Ives said.


Analysts believe Apple can pull off the juggling act. They are expecting the company to sell 242 million iPhones in the fiscal year ending in September 2018 — the most in the product’s history. The previous record was set in 2015 when Apple shipped 231 million iPhones, thanks to larger models introduced just before the fiscal year began. By comparison, Apple shipped nearly 217 million iPhones in its just-completed fiscal 2017.


If Apple falters, investors are likely to dump its stock after driving the shares up by 45 percent so far this year on the expectation that the iPhone X will be the company’s biggest hit yet.

Powell Brings Gift for Forging Consensus to Fed Job

As a choice to lead the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell defies any recent mold.

He isn’t a trained economist. He’s produced no trail of research. He built a fortune as an investment manager.

Yet by the reckoning of Fed analysts — those who know him and those who don’t — Powell is equipped to lead the world’s most influential central bank, presiding over a U.S. economy on solid ground but hardly without risks.


What Powell brings to the position most of all, they say, are a formidable intelligence, an appreciation of intellectual diversity and a gift for forging agreement. And in five years on the Fed’s board of governors, he has schooled himself in monetary policy while becoming a specialist in areas from banking regulation to the U.S. payments system.

As a moderate who is expected to follow the cautious approach to interest rates of the current Fed chair, Janet Yellen, Powell could serve as a steadying force for the U.S. economy as well as a unifying figure among the central bank’s policymakers.

Looking for insights

“A consensus builder” is how Shai Akabas, who worked with Powell at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a public policy think tank, describes him. Powell was for two years a visiting scholar at the center — where, among other things, he focused on helping avert a crisis over raising the government’s debt ceiling — until he joined the Fed’s board in 2012. While at the think tank, it was Powell’s task to help convince congressional Republicans — successfully, in the end — that a default on the debt would be a catastrophe.

Akabas said Powell “was always trying to glean insights from those around him, and use that to form opinions.”

Educated at Princeton University with a law degree from Georgetown University, Powell, 64, known as Jay, spent many years in investment management — at Dillon Read and then at the Carlyle Group. His work there made him one of the wealthiest figures to serve on the Fed board: His most recent financial disclosure form places his wealth at between $19.7 million and $55 million. And based on how government disclosures are drafted, his wealth may actually be closer to $100 million.

Yet those who know him describe a man of unshowy modesty and collegiality, with little discernible pretension. Earlier this year at Reagan National Airport, Matthew McCormick, a government economist who was traveling with him, said he watched Powell carry a car seat and luggage for a family he saw was struggling to make a connecting flight.

At the Bipartisan Policy Center, Jason Grumet, who founded the center, recalls that the organization didn’t know what to expect from Powell, who had just finished several lucrative years at the Carlyle Group and had earlier held a high-level Treasury Department post. Yet Powell was content to take an unassuming office near the photocopier with a view of an alley.

“Jay dug in with the intensity of a young analyst,” Grumet said. “He was like a junior staffer.”

Focus on service

A Washington native, Powell has long shown an impulse toward federal policy and service. Early in his career at Dillon Read, he followed Dillon’s former chairman, Nicholas Brady, to President George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department. Brady had become Treasury secretary, and Powell became undersecretary for finance.

His work at the Bipartisan Policy Center followed later in his career, and it led to his nomination by President Barack Obama to the Fed’s board.

In contrast to Powell, his predecessors Ben Bernanke and Yellen were nationally distinguished economists before their Fed chairmanships, with decades of research, papers and books attached to their names. In theory at least, they came to the Fed job prepared to lead the central bank’s response to unforeseen economic crises. No one knew, after all, that Bernanke would have to endure the stomach-churning threat to the financial system that forced him to preside over a raft of emergency actions to save the largest banks and, by extension, the economy.

What colleagues do know about Powell is that he won’t likely hesitate to rely on colleagues or advisers with deeper expertise. He is described as someone who believes deeply that differing opinions and backgrounds can help build common ground in public policymaking.

In a speech last year, took note of the value of having 12 Fed branches spread across the country. He suggested that the regional differences provide an array of views to help produce superior monetary policy.

“My strong view is that this institutionalized diversity of thinking is a strength of our system,” Powell said. “In my experience, the best outcomes are reached when opposing viewpoints are clearly and strongly presented before decisions are made.”

Powell, who projects a serious demeanor, is known for a lighter side as well. Friends say he strums rock and blues numbers on the guitar. He has been an avid golfer despite back pain.

US Finds Canada Dumped Lumber, Sets Duties

The U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday set final duties on Canadian softwood lumber after finding that imports had been being unfairly subsidized and dumped in the United States, escalating a trade dispute with Canada in the midst of NAFTA trade talks.

The decision imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties affecting about $5.66 billion worth of imports of the key building material.

Canada called the measures “unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling” and said it was considering its options, including legal action through the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization.

The department said exporters from Canada had sold softwood lumber in the U.S. market at 3.20 percent to 8.89 percent less than fair value, and that Canada was providing unfair subsidies at rates of 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent.

The decision followed failed talks to end the decades-long lumber dispute between the neighbors.

“While I am disappointed that a negotiated agreement could not be made between domestic and Canadian softwood producers, the United States is committed to free, fair and reciprocal trade with Canada,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

“This decision is based on a full and unbiased review of the facts in an open and transparent process that defends American workers and businesses from unfair trade practices,” Ross said.

Government-owned land

The disagreement centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land. They are lower than fees paid on U.S. timber, which comes largely from private land.

The Canadian government argues that its fees are fair and says it is prepared to litigate the matter if a settlement cannot be reached.

“We urge the U.S. administration to rescind these duties, which harm workers and communities in Canada,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement with Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

“We will forcefully defend Canada’s softwood lumber industry, including through litigation, and we expect to prevail as we have in the past. We are reviewing our options.”

Jason Brochu, co-chair of the U.S. Lumber Coalition and president of Pleasant River Lumber Company, said U.S. lumber companies could now expand production to meet U.S. demand.

“The massive subsidies the Canadian government provides to their lumber industries have caused real harm to U.S. producers and their workers,” said Brochu.

The decision is likely to further escalate tensions between the United States and Canada during difficult negotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico to modernize NAFTA.

In September, in the midst of the third round of NAFTA talks, the United States slapped preliminary anti-subsidy duties on Canadian jetmaker Bombardier’s CSeries jets after rival Boeing accused Canada of unfairly subsidizing the aircraft.

Social Media Companies Face Tough Congressional Questions on Russian Election Interference

Facebook, Twitter and Google executives testified in public before Senate and House investigations into Russian election interference for the first time Wednesday, amid disclosures that Russian influence on social media platforms was much wider in scope than previously understood. The lawmakers had tough questions for the Silicon Valley executives as VOA’s Katherine Gypson reports from Capitol Hill.

New York Uzbeks Seek Greater Community Outreach, Societal Inclusion

As U.S. authorities seek motives that might have led 29-year-old suspect Sayfullo Saipov to run down and kill innocent pedestrians and cyclists in Lower Manhattan, New York’s Uzbek community believes his radicalization can be attributed in part to a lack of language and culture-specific inclusion among Uzbek nationals attempting to integrate into U.S. culture.

Trump Election Anniversary Approaches

Wednesday, Nov. 8, marks the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election as the 45th U.S. president. Trump’s surprise election sent shockwaves across the country and around the world, but his first nine months in office have often been chaotic. Trump has followed through on some of his election promises, but failed on others. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Diversity is Tasty in Columbus Ohio

A small city in the American Midwest is home to immigrants and refugees from 40 nations — and a blossoming ethnic restaurant scene. As VOA’s June Soh reports, Columbus, Ohio’s taste buds and economy are both benefiting.