U.S. to slap tariffs on extra $200 billion of Chinese imports

U.S. to slap tariffs on extra $200 billion of Chinese imports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has decided to impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China after efforts to negotiate a solution to the trade dispute failed to reach an agreement, senior administration officials said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are seen at a port in Shanghai, China July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the United States would impose tariffs of 10 percent on the additional Chinese imports.

The move would be the latest in the escalating trade skirmish between the world’s two biggest economies.

Trump said last week the United States may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods – roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

Administration officials said a two-month process would allow the public to comment on the proposed tariffs before the list is finalized.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Eric Beech; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Peter Cooney

Read Full Story

Russian company had access to Facebook user data through apps

Russian company had access to Facebook user data through apps

Not just another Facebook data scandal

A Russian internet company with links to the Kremlin was among the firms to which Facebook gave an extension which allowed them to collect data on unknowing users of the social network after a policy change supposedly stopped such collection.

Facebook told CNN on Tuesday that apps developed by the Russian technology conglomerate Mail.Ru Group, were being looked at as part of the company’s wider investigation into the misuse of Facebook user data in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook told CNN that the Mail.Ru Group developed hundreds of Facebook apps, some of which were test apps that were not made public. Only two apps were granted an extension, lasting two weeks, that would have allowed them to collect friend data beyond the cut-off date, Facebook said.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement to CNN that Facebook’s relationship with Mail.Ru deserved further scrutiny.

“In the last 6 months we’ve learned that Facebook had few controls in place to control the collection and use of user data by third parties. Now we learn that the largest technology company in Russia, whose executives boast close ties to Vladimir Putin, had potentially hundreds of apps integrated with Facebook, collecting user data. If this is accurate, we need to determine what user information was shared with mail.ru and what may have been done with the captured data,” Warner said.

Related: Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal draws growing federal scrutiny

Prior to 2015, in some cases, when Facebook users interacted with the apps built by third-party developers on Facebook, the developer not only received data about that user, but also about the users’ friends — including name, gender, birthdate, location, photos, and what they “liked” on Facebook.

In 2014 Facebook announced it was changing the policy, and would restrict developers’ access to data on app users’ friends by May 2015.

But two weeks ago, Facebook told Congress that it gave 61 companies, including Mail.Ru, an extension on access to the data beyond May 2015. The admission came in a list of written answers Facebook provided to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of partnerships, told CNN on Tuesday that Facebook had not found any evidence that the Mail.Ru Group had misused Facebook user data, but acknowledged that the investigation is continuing and would not answer if Facebook even has the ability to determine how the Russian company used data derived from Facebook.

Facebook would not say how much user data the Mail.Ru Group obtained or if any data was obtained about American citizens. The company declined to elaborate on its methods for determining how Mail.Ru may have used personal data, citing confidentiality between Facebook and developers.

Archibong said that Facebook was devoting significant resources to investigating app developers, but he wouldn’t say if Russian-built apps were being prioritized for investigation over others.

In a written statement provided to CNN after his interview on Tuesday, Facebook VP Archibong said, “Facebook is a global company with users all over the world so we work with developers globally to bring our services to people everywhere — as long as those developers adhere to our platform policies. Mail.ru, one of the top five largest internet companies in the world, has built apps for the Facebook platform and for other major platforms, including iOS and Android for years. We’ve found no indication of misuse with Mail.ru. If we find misuse, we ban the developers.”

Related: Facebook investigating employee’s links to Cambridge Analytica

Mail.Ru told CNN that it had not been contacted by Facebook about its investigation into the misuse of user data. Facebook told CNN it had contacted Mail.Ru about the investigation, but didn’t say when it first reached out.

Mail.Ru Group is controlled by USM Holdings, a company founded by Alisher Usmanov, who was included on a list the U.S. Treasury Department published in January of Russian billionaires with ties to the Kremlin.

Russian investor Yuri Milner was the chairman of Mail.Ru Group until he stepped down in 2012. Milner told Forbes he served as a member of then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s innovation commission from 2009 to 2011.

The New York Times reported last year that Milner invested in Facebook and Twitter with hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian state institutions funneled through offshore shell companies, though Milner’s companies have since sold those holdings. In interviews for that report, Milner said the Russian government money was no different from other international investments, and he said he focuses on business and philanthropy, not politics.

Mail.Ru’s large portfolio of companies includes an online gaming division. Mail.RU told CNN in a statement that it had launched approximately 20 Facebook games.

The company said it acted in accordance with Facebook’s terms and conditions and that it had not collected data on Facebook users, including Americans, to promote its “social games with social mechanics within Facebook.”

The company said American users account for no more than 5% of its Facebook app audience.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ordered an investigation into potential misuse of Facebook user data gathered through third-party apps a few days after the Cambridge Analytica story broke in March.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post at the time.

An app developer working for Cambridge Analytica in 2014 built an online survey that gathered data on tens of millions of Americans, most of whom had never downloaded or taken the survey. Cambridge Analytica went on to work for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The revelations came a few months after it emerged that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian government-linked troll group, posed as American activists on social media, including Facebook, in the run-up to the 2016 election and after.

In April of this year, Facebook removed pages it said the IRA ran targeting Russian-speakers. Similar pages are still active on Vkontakte, a Russian social media network owned by the Mail.Ru Group.

Despite Zuckerberg’s pledge, Facebook’s ability to determine how data on its users may have been stored is limited.

Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook employee who now works at the Center for Humane Technology told CNN, “Unfortunately there is no way for Facebook to know what happened to the data once it left its servers, so there’s no way for them to know if there was any misuse of not.”

— CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed reporting.

CNNMoney (New York) First published July 10, 2018: 6:29 PM ET

Read Full Story

Trump, allies set for face-off during first day of NATO

Trump, allies set for face-off during first day of NATO

Trump is facing a similar setting in Brussels as NATO member countries have gathered for the alliance’s annual summit while Trump continues to fume about insufficient defense spending from European allies and unfair trading relationships. Trump sent threatening letters to NATO allies ahead of his visit warning key allies they could lose US support unless they ramped up their defense spending.

And the US President’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki also looms large for the NATO allies who worry that Trump is growing too close to the US and Europe’s foremost antagonist.

Trump says Putin meeting 'may be the easiest of them all'

Trump has already suggested he is looking forward to that meeting more than any portion of his trip.

“I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?” Trump said on Tuesday as he left the White House.

While Putin has offered no criticism ahead of his meeting with Trump, the US President’s arrival in Europe has already been met with warnings from top European leaders.

As Trump flew toward Brussels on Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk sought to set down brightly colored markers for Trump’s arrival.

“Dear America, appreciate your allies,” Tusk said ahead of Trump’s arrival Tuesday. “After all you don’t have that many.”

Tusk also urged European NATO members to spend more on defense, but noted: “Money is important but generating solidarity is more important.”

Trump’s controversy-stoking tweets ahead of his arrival in Belgium matched similar attempts by the US President to sow discord and project strength ahead of his arrival at the G7 in Quebec last month, when he criticized G7 allies over trade before arriving to gladhand his foreign counterparts as if nothing had happened. This time, he focused on calling out his sense that the US has been bearing an unfair burden of the NATO alliance’s defense costs.

“Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, quickly following up that tweet with one accusing the European Union of “making it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe.”

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of strengthening the alliance ahead of Trump’s visit — indicating some cognitive dissonance with the President.

“The major thing, the major deliverable, the major overall theme of this summit is going to be NATO’s strength and unity,” Hutchison told reporters on a call previewing the summit, before ticking down a list of NATO plans for boosting the alliance.

And while she noted the “emphasis on burden-sharing,” Hutchison focused on the fact that “every one of our allies — 100% — are increasing defense spending” and noted that US allies are “on track to make the 2% pledge” regarding defense spending as a proportion of GDP.

Read Full Story

US Reaper drone data leaked on dark web, researchers say

US Reaper drone data leaked on dark web, researchers say

The documents, while not classified, include a private list of airmen working with MQ-9A Reaper drones and maintenance and course material on the weapons – the US-made deadly unmanned aerial vehicle used around the world to surveille and strike targets.

US law enforcement is investigating the breach, according to Recorded Future’s Insikt Group, which conducted the research. The firm said its researchers have a “high degree of confidence” the hacker is from South America, though it did not elaborate further, citing the ongoing investigation.

“The FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations,” Lauren Hagee, an FBI spokeswoman, said in an email to CNN. The Air Force did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The attack is the latest in a long line of breaches in military and other public sector domains, including a recent hack of a Navy contractor that exposed a large amount of sensitive data on submarines and undersea weaponry, according to the Washington Post. US officials pointed the finger at China for that theft.

The Pentagon reportedly thwarts tens of millions of digital attacks daily, ranging from what appear to be bored, amateurish hackers looking to cause trouble to advanced nation states hoping to pilfer classified secrets.

The hacker who obtained documents about the Reaper drones tried to sell the documents on the “dark web,” which it is not possible to publicly search. Recorded Future confirmed the authenticity of the documents. Insikt researchers following the deep web message boards and forums made contact with the hacker and discussed the sale. The hacker told researchers they enjoyed watching drone footage in their spare time when not looking for their next victim, according to the new report.

“While such course books are not classified materials on their own, in unfriendly hands, they could provide an adversary the ability to assess technical capabilities and weaknesses in one of the most technologically advanced aircrafts,” wrote Andrei Barysevich, the author of the new report.

Lawmakers press Trump to approve drone sales to Jordan, UAE

The hacker told the researchers they stole additional military training manuals on explosive devices, a tank operation manual, and a document on tank platoon tactics, though they did not reveal where the materials came from.

The hacker accessed the material on the captain’s computer using a vulnerability in Netgear routers.

Security researchers have for years said that Netgear routers are vulnerable to attack if owners don’t update the default password plugged in when purchased because without changing the password, no login information is necessary.

According to Record Future’s research, thousands of routers remain vulnerable to this kind of attack, despite public warnings from the company and internal military cybersecurity training.

Read Full Story

Stock futures higher as focus shifts to earnings

S&P 500 posts highest close since February 1; futures fall late

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 rose on Tuesday to post its highest closing level since Feb. 1, the day before the market began a sharp extended selloff, as strong results from PepsiCo boosted optimism about the earnings season.

The consumer staples index climbed 1.3 percent and provided the biggest lift to the S&P 500, driven by PepsiCo, which gained 4.8 percent, while Procter & Gamble rose 2.5 percent and Coca-Cola was up 1.3 percent.

The S&P 500 has risen about 3 percent in the last four sessions, with upbeat news on the economy as well as earnings helping to offset worries about escalating trade tensions between the United States and China. The two countries slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods on Friday.

Concerns over trade resurfaced after Tuesday’s close, with S&P futures falling late following a Bloomberg report, citing sources, that President Donald Trump is preparing to release a list of an additional $200 billion in Chinese products to be hit with tariffs.

“It’s not an inconsequential move,” said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, of the decline in futures. “This trade war escalating is not good news, and the market won’t see it as good news.”

The S&P 500 e-mini futures ended the session down 0.1 percent and were off 0.5 percent as trading resumed for the overnight session.

During the regular session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 143.07 points, or 0.58 percent, to end at 24,919.66, while the Nasdaq Composite added 3.00 points, or 0.04 percent, to 7,759.20. The S&P 500 gained 9.67 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,793.84.

The benchmark index is now up 4.5 percent since the end of 2017. Worries over rising bond yields and potentially firming inflation drove the early February selloff, which confirmed a correction for the market.

Earnings are expected to become key for investors in the coming weeks as the U.S. reporting period kicks into high gear.

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup are scheduled to report results on Friday. Their shares dipped on Tuesday after leading market gains on Monday. PepsiCo’s shares surged after the company’s quarterly results topped estimates on strong sales of snacks. The company also reaffirmed its full-year forecast amid signs of a gradual recovery in its soda business.

Overall, S&P 500 companies are expected to post second-quarter profit growth of around 21 percent, slightly higher than what was forecast in April, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Investors are still, however, expected to parse quarterly reports to gauge the impact of the U.S.-China trade dispute on company earnings.

Also boosting the S&P on Tuesday, utilities and telecom indexes rose about 1 percent each, bouncing back from Monday’s losses.

Higher oil prices lifted energy shares. The S&P energy index rose 0.7 percent as crude oil prices gained on growing supply disruptions in Norway and Libya, but gains were pared after the United States said it would consider requests for waivers from Iranian oil sanctions.

Shares of Exxon and Chevron were up around 1 percent each.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.53-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 30 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 104 new highs and 26 new lows.

Trading volume was among the lowest of the year, with about 5.8 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 7.0 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Additional reporting by April Joyner in New York and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and James Dalgleish

Read Full Story

Ironic twist to French fears in semi-final win, says Lloris

Ironic twist to French fears in semi-final win, says Lloris

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – France were concerned about Belgium’s ability at set pieces but instead scored themselves from a corner to book a place in the World Cup final in an ironic twist, said captain Hugo Lloris after Tuesday’s 1-0 win.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 France’s Hugo Lloris makes a save REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Samuel Umtiti headed home from a corner six minutes into the second half saw France through to a meeting with either Croatia or England in Sunday’s final.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 France’s Hugo Lloris celebrates after the match REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

“We feared them on set pieces but in the end it was us who scored that way,” Lloris told reporters after Monday’s 1-0 win over Belgium in the semi-final at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

France’s goalkeeper also made two key saves to add to some similar heroics in the previous rounds but looked to play down his individual performance.

“We all try to be there to help the team and that will be our outlook again when play on Sunday,” he said of the match in Moscow, where France will play in the final of a second successive major tournament.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 France’s Hugo Lloris makes a save REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

They lost in extra time in Paris in the final of the 2016 European Championship to Portugal.

“It was very difficult to accept what happened two years ago, and we do not want that to happen again. We want to finish this tournament in the best possible way.”

But before then there would be time for Lloris and teammates to let their hair down briefly after Tuesday’s triumph.

“It’s hard to let ourselves be euphoric just yet, but it’s a fantastic feeling (to be in the final),” he said.

“This is just one more step, albeit a very important one. We played a very good match in terms of our organization. We were competitive in all departments.”

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Read Full Story

Sex addiction: Explanation or excuse?

WHO classifies compulsive sexual behavior as mental health condition

Updated in June, the list (called the ICD-11) is the foundational document that clinicians and scientists around the world use to identify and study health problems, injuries and causes of death.

The disorder is not about how many sexual partners a person has or how much sex they have; rather, it is when someone’s sexual behavior becomes a “central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities.”

The disorder may interfere with someone’s ability to go to work or finish school. It can hurt relationships. And although someone with this disorder may want to resist their constant need for sex, they’ve been unsuccessful. They may not even get pleasure from the repeated sexual activity.

A person with this disorder has had to be dealing with it over an extended period of time, according to the definition, which gives an example of six months or more.

What compulsive sexual behavior disorder is not, according to the definition, is “distress that is entirely related to moral judgments and disapproval about sexual impulses, urges, or behaviours.”

Is sex addiction real? Depends on whom you ask
As when WHO added gaming disorders to the list of mental health disorders in June, not all clinicians agree that the condition is worthy of inclusion. Some debate whether it is a standalone disorder. Others doubt whether sex can be addictive and view the label as potentially shaming.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which American clinicians use to diagnose mental health problems, did not include compulsive sexual behavior as a separate category in its last update in 2013. The condition didn’t even make the appendix. That’s in part because there’s still a limited amount of research to explain this behavior.
“For centuries, people have been trying to understand what is the cause of hypersexuality. It has been called all sorts of names over the years, but it’s really only been in the last 40 years that we’ve tried to understand it from an academic perspective,” said Dr. Timothy Fong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Fong wrote a 2006 paper that lays out many of the scientific definitions and management strategies for this behavior.
Like with gambling addiction, Fong said, some experts have questioned whether compulsive sexual activity can be an addiction, since there is no substance like a drug or alcohol being abused, but some of the science is starting to suggest that this repeated behavior changes brain function, he said.
Reasons for avoiding sex are often treatable
“Some people would say if it looks like an addiction and smells like an addiction and there are 12-step groups to help people with the addiction, then it is, but the psychological community is split into different camps. Some say it is addiction, and some of those say people just have different libidos,” Fong said.

“When I have someone who looks me straight in the eye and says ‘My life is miserable because of this, and I’m suicidal, and my relationship is broken, and this is hurting my health,’ there is something there,” he said. “Our mission is to help that person, and now we have the language to give that person a better understanding of what that is, and it’s absolutely critical to have a common language so scientists can better understand this too.”

There are still no national studies documenting how many people have this problem. Some regional and local surveys suggest that it could affect 5% of the population. Fong says that would mean more people struggle with this issue than with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or pathological gambling.

Research is limited, in part, due to a lack of funding and an inconsistency in the definition of what compulsive sexual behavior disorder is. This decision from WHO will probably help.

Great sex linked to heart disease for older men but not women
“I’ve been waiting for this phone call for 30 years,” said Robert Weiss, an addiction specialist and author of “Sex Addiction 101” and “Always Turned On” who has created free online material to help people with this problem.

“It’s really important to have a diagnosis, especially with sexual issues,” he said.

Weiss was involved with the committee that determined that compulsive sexual behavior disorder should be left out of the DSM, a decision he thinks is a mistake. Having the definition in an international text will help make the argument that it belongs in the DSM, he said.

“It allows us to better articulate who has a problem and who doesn’t, and it takes it out of the hands of the client or the culture or the church and puts it squarely on the science,” Weiss said. “It tells us that this is unrelated to sexual orientation or gender identity, and we didn’t have that before. It takes out all that judgment.”

Weiss and Fong said they’ve both had great success helping clients with compulsive sexual behavior disorder. Treatment can include traditional psychotherapy, and there are support groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous. Some doctors prescribe medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers.
Weiss said he has treated more than 1,000 people with compulsive sexual behavior disorder and has found that they often improve quickly when they address the underlying problems that may be driving that person to compulsively turn to sex.

Often, it’s the anticipatory fantasy, the recall of the act itself, the excitement of the chase that allows them “to lose themselves completely” rather than think about their spouse, their kids or their boss yelling. But unlike treatment for alcohol addition, it’s about helping someone have a healthier relationship with sex.

“You don’t want to repress the desire. Sexuality is a part of being human, but you want to guide it,” Weiss said.

Read Full Story

Belgium's Martinez says disappointed team must try to finish third

Belgium’s Martinez says disappointed team must try to finish third

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Belgium paid the price for failing to take their chances against France but will now have to shake off their disappointment and focus on finishing third at the World Cup, their coach Roberto Martinez said after his team’s defeat in the semi-final.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 Belgium coach Roberto Martinez during the match REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Samuel Umtiti headed in from a corner for the only goal of the game to knock Belgium out, and Martinez said that while he was pleased his team negated France’s threat on the counter-attack, his players did not show their usual finesse in front of goal.

“It was a tight game,” the Spaniard told reporters. “There weren’t many big moments… The difference between defeat and winning was just one dead ball situation.

“We controlled their counter-attacks. We had the ball but have to give credit to the way France defended, and we couldn’t find that little bit of magic in front of goal.”

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 Belgium coach Roberto Martinez REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The match was a fascinating tactical battle, with France content to surrender possession and looking to use Kylian Mbappe’s pace to hurt Belgium on the counter-attack.

Martinez said his team had done well to nullify the French threat from open play and denied that his decision to start Mousa Dembele in midfield had a major effect on the outcome.

Dembele was a surprise selection in place of wide man Yannick Carrasco, with Martinez opting to start playmaker Kevin De Bruyne on the right side of attack instead of the middle of the park.

But De Bruyne’s best moments came when he combined with Eden Hazard on the opposite side of the pitch to the one he was stationed on, and Belgium missed his ability to pick a pass, with striker Romelu Lukaku mostly deprived of service.

After his team fell behind, Martinez took off Dembele and pulled De Bruyne back into central midfield, and though Belgium did not get a goal, they controlled the play better and created more chances.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 Belgium’s Mousa Dembele shakes the hand of Belgium coach Roberto Martinez as he is substituted off REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

“I didn’t see France running away with the game,” Martinez added. “It came down to a corner kick. That’s why I don’t think the performance came down to individuals.”

From dreaming of a first World Cup final, Belgium will now have to be content with a playoff for third place, but Martinez said he was proud of his players and would do all he could to get them ready for their final match of the tournament.

“The disappointment is huge… It’s a very sad dressing room right now,” he said. “I don’t want any of my players to be frustrated and disappointed.

“It’s a difficult emotion to manage. You’re disappointed because you lose the semi-final, and it’s very difficult to see the opportunity of playing another game as a positive.

“We need to regroup and recover and see the opportunity. To try to finish third in the World Cup doesn’t happen often. The only time it happened in Belgian football was in 1986, when we finished fourth.

“We need to understand it’s an important game, but I accept it’s very difficult after a game with the emotions we had today. When you had the ambition of getting to the final, it’s tough individually and collectively to prepare for the next game.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in St Petersburg; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Read Full Story


Shah Faesal Kashmir Bureaucrat Faces Centre’s Wrath For Rapistan Tweet


The centre has ordered action against Shah Faesal, the outspoken bureaucrat from Jammu and Kashmir, for his tweets that he has described as a “sarcastic tweet against rape-culture in south Asia”. The IAS official went public on Tuesday with the show cause notice and seemed to question the government’s gag order for bureaucrats as well.

“The irony here is that service rules with a colonial spirit are invoked in a democratic India to stifle the freedom of conscience,” he said in a tweet and a Facebook post.

Mr Faesal, 35 is the only IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir to have ever topped the civil services exam. The 2011 batch officer, who has been a role model for the youth and inspired many others to join the civil services, is currently an Edward S Mason Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School on study leave.

The central government had banned officials from criticising the government on social media in 2016. Under these rules, a statement of fact or an opinion which “has the effect of an adverse criticism” of any current or recent policy or action is treated as criticism.

Back in April when the IAS officer had put out the tweet, Mr Faesal had drawn a sharp reaction from some people who saw the reference to “Rapistan” as a reference to India and a contrast to Pakistan.

One person asked him to quit his job before peddling, what he described as “an anti-India rant”.

Mr Faesal shot back. “What makes you think it’s about India? And u forgot to tag PMO. I think,” he tweeted.

The tweet and the reaction had come against the backdrop of the national outrage over the Kathua gang-rape that was a huge political hot-button issue and had, days earlier, cost two Jammu and Kashmir ministers their post.

Actor Gul Panag responded to news of the government’s action against Shah Faesal and the April tweet.

Shah Faesal isn’t the first bureaucrat to face disciplinary action.

In 2016, a senior Madhya Pradesh bureaucrat Ajay Singh Gangwar was handed his transfer order after he praised former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on Facebook. Mr Gangwar, then a collector of Barwani district 350 km from state capital Bhopal, had later deleted his post that appeared to take a jab at the BJP as well.

Earlier this year, Bareilly district magistrate Raghvendra Vikkram Singh was also charged with violating conduct rules after putting up a Facebook post that appeared to blame right-wing Hindu groups for provoking communal clashes.

Read Full Story

So near... Frustrated Belgium rues what might have been

So near… Frustrated Belgium rues what might have been

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgians tasted bitterness in their beer on Tuesday after their dreams of a first World Cup final were ended by the narrowest of margins by their bigger French neighbors.

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi-Final – France v Belgium – Brussels, Belgium – July 10, 2018. Belgium fans react as they watch the broadcast of the World Cup semi-final match between France and Belgium in the fan zone. REUTERS/Yves Herman

“I feel ill,” said Denis Backaert, 34, after watching France prevail 1-0 in the tightest of semi-final encounters between two sharp sides in St. Petersburg.

“I’ve been dreaming for about a month,” Backaert, who works in logistics, said at an outdoor screening in Brussels. “And against France, too, that’s so frustrating … I can’t bear it.”

“It was close. Both sides played very well,” said economics student Alpha Omba. “It’s just a shame. There was nothing in it.”

Soccer Football – World Cup – Semi Final – France v Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia – July 10, 2018 Belgium fan looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Like most of the country of 11 million, he was still proud of the team’s performance at the World Cup, stunning Brazil in the quarter-final and putting recent disappointments behind it as Spanish coach Roberto Martinez galvanized a diverse group of millionaire club stars into a highly motivated unit.

Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted: “Bravo, Red Devils, for your performances and for having thrilled us all the way to the semi-finals.”

“We’d like to have got to the final,” said Omba, 18. “But we’ve done very well.”

Like Martinez himself, he now wants the team to try and win Saturday’s battle for third place against either England or Croatia, who play their semi-final on Wednesday. Many fans and players pay little attention to the third-place playoff but for Belgium, to win it would go one better than an earlier “golden generation” who lost both the semi-final and playoff in 1986.

Sophie Franssen, a 31-year-old banking assistant, confessed she was not a big soccer fan but felt the tournament had lifted the mood of the country and brought its often fractious French- and Dutch-speakers, as well as immigrant communities, together.

Slideshow (9 Images)

“It’s very good for Belgium,” she said. “We’re all behind one flag, we’re all behind one team.

“It’s a pity. Next time maybe.”

For sports science student Laura De Lange, 20, it was a story of failing to take chances from superior possession: “We really believed, after Brazil we thought we’d beat the French and get to the final and we’re really disappointed,” she said.

But she said, this was Belgium, where the beer flows well and people look out for each other: “Among us Belgians, we support each other massively. We lost, but we’ll still party.”

As for who they will be backing come Sunday, when France will face either Croatia or ancient rivals England, some in Belgium admit that, for all their closeness to French culture, especially in the French-speaking south, it will be hard to cheer for Tuesday’s victors in the “Asterix vs Tintin” derby.

“I don’t mind,” said student Alpha Omba. “As long as the French don’t win.”

Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Read Full Story