Tag: official

Fake “official” drop boxes set up by California GOP may be in “violation of state law”: official

Ballot Box
Ballot Box

A woman places her ballot paper in the box during early voting Getty Images/Mark Ralston

The California Republican Party is operating unofficial ballot drop boxes that Secretary of State Alex Padilla said on Sunday were in “violation of state law.”

Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, promoted an “official ballot drop off box” on Twitter and urged followers to message him for “convenient locations” to drop their ballots last week, The Orange County Register first reported. One voter reported an “Official Ballot Drop Box” that was “approved and bought by the GOP” outside of a Los Angeles area church before it was removed after county officials warned on social media that it was “not an official vote by mail drop box and does not comply with [state] regulations for drop boxes,” according to KCAL.

The boxes were set up across Southern California in front of churches, gyms, and gun stores by the California GOP, according to The Washington Post. One chapter of the state Republican Party in California rolled out its own drop-off sites while echoing President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations over the “security” of mail voting even though it has been repeatedly shown to be safe and secure.

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“CONSERVATIVE VOTER ALERT!,” the Fresno GOP said while announcing a list of unofficial locations to drop off ballots. “President Trump is very concerned about the lack of security with mail in ballots. Don’t take a chance that your vote will not be counted. Once your ballot arrives in the mail, mark your ballot completely and then walk it in, as soon as possible, to one of the secure locations listed below. Make sure your vote counts!”

Padilla, a Democrat, said on Sunday that it was illegal to operate unofficial ballot drop boxes.

“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” he told the Post. “My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office.”

The OC Register reported that those operating the unofficial drop boxes could face felony charges that carry up to two to four years in prison.

Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley told the the outlet that he had received hundreds of complaints about the drop boxes.

“What we did was started to look into it, notified the state, and the Secretary of State issued guidance this afternoon that it is illegal and you can’t do that,” he said. “It would be like me installing a mailbox out on the

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Japan must revise BOJ law to speed digital yen, enshrine inflation goal: senior official

By Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada



Kozo Yamamoto wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: Yamamoto speaks in Tokyo


© Reuters/Kim Kyung Hoon
FILE PHOTO: Yamamoto speaks in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan must swiftly revise laws to allow the central bank to issue a digital currency, a move that could provide a chance to reform the Bank of Japan’s existing mandates and enshrine its inflation target, a senior ruling party official said on Monday.

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Kozo Yamamoto, head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) council on financial affairs, said the BOJ risked being overtaken by private players who could launch their own digital currencies that could undermine the yen.

“If something too convenient pops up from the private sector, people might start to doubt whether they need yen as a currency unit. We must prevent this from happening,” he said. “This is fundamentally about protecting Japan’s currency sovereignty.”

Yamamoto said he would prod the government and relevant agencies to speed up efforts to draft a revised BOJ law and other necessary legislation for issuing central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

However, more broadly, Yamamoto has been a vocal advocate of making changes to the BOJ law, which sets out the central bank’s mandates.

Revising the law to include digital currencies would also present a good opportunity to make other changes such as adding an inflation target and job creation to the mandates, much like the U.S. Federal Reserve, he added.

“The new law should also clarify that 2% inflation is the BOJ’s policy target,” he told Reuters.

The BOJ does currently set 2% as its inflation target, introduced in 2013. But the target is not stipulated under the BOJ law, which says only that its role is to ensure Japan’s price moves and financial system are stable.

Central banks globally have been reviewing their strategic goals, with the European Central Bank widely expected to follow in the footsteps of the Fed in aiming for inflation of 2% on average, meaning that periods when prices grow too slowly can be compensated for with faster increases at another time.

‘TOO LATE’

Central banks began looking closely at digital currencies after Facebook last year announced its yet-to-be-launched digital token Libra that would be backed by a mixture of major currencies and government debt.

Japan has been cautious about moving too quickly on digital currencies given the social disruptions it could cause in a country that has the world’s most cash-loving population.

But China’s steady progress toward issuing digital currencies has prompted the government to reconsider, and pledge in this year’s policy platform to look more closely at the idea.

Other major central banks have also accelerated studies on CBDCs, given the recent rapid innovation in financial technology.

The BOJ said on Friday it would begin experimenting in the next fiscal year on how to operate its own digital currency.

Yamamoto said the BOJ’s timeframe was “too late,” adding that the first phase of tests should begin during the current fiscal year to March 2021.

CBDCs would also help regional banks, reeling from shrinking margins due

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Florida official says state and federal law enforcement found no ‘malicious activity’ in voter site outage: reports

Investigators looking into Florida’s voter registration website crash Monday reportedly found “no evidence of interference or malicious activity” in connection with the fiasco, which prompted officials to extend the registration deadline to Tuesday evening.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee said Monday that the Online Voter Registration system went out “for about 15 minutes” due to an influx of web traffic. It was supposed to be the last day of voter registrations, with a midnight deadline.

But on Tuesday, after meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lee’s office said the deadline would be extended until 7 p.m. for both online and in-person voter registration.

FLORIDA EXTENDS VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE AFTER WEBSITE CRASH

Voters could also turn in their registration to the offices of their local county elections supervisors, tax collectors, and transportation offices or through the mail postmarked by Oct. 6.

In a statement, Lee said the outage stemmed from “unprecedented volume and traffic” to the site.

“During the last few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Lee said. “We will work with our state and federal law-enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”

FLORIDA VOTER REGISTRATION WEBSITE EXPERIENCED OUTAGE HOURS BEFORE DEADLINE

In a follow-up statement Tuesday evening, she said investigators had not turned up evidence that that was the case.

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Florida has a total population of just below 21.5 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate for 2019. According to the Florida Division of Elections, there were more than 14 million active registered voters in the state as of Aug. 31.

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Ex-Chinese Government Official Was In Charge Of TikTok’s Content Moderation Policies, Report Says

Topline

A former Chinese government official was in charge of making decisions on what content should be allowed on TikTok, the Financial Times reported in a development that raises questions about the company’s previous claim that the Chinese government had no influence over its operations.

Key Facts

Cai Zheng, who worked at the Chinese Embassy in Tehran from 2013 to 2018, ran the global content policy team at TikTok’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance until earlier this year when the company moved to allow local operations in its biggest countries to make content removal decisions themselves.

According to a now-altered LinkedIn profile, Cai joined ByteDance in 2018, when the company was under scrutiny from the Chinese government over content shared on the company’s news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao.

Cai worked with ByteDance’s global trust and safety team in Beijing to form guidelines on what content was acceptable on TikTok and the company’s other international apps including Helo and Vigo Video, according to the FT report.

During Cai’s stint, TikTok was accused of removing videos critical of the Chinese government including banning an American teenager who used makeup tutorials to inform her viewers about the mass imprisonment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

The Trump administration has called TikTok a security threat, repeatedly accusing the app of being influenced by the Chinese government, an allegation that TikTok and ByteDance have denied.

Crucial Quote

TikTok told FT that “Cai Zheng was not involved in developing the policies,” and these content policies predated him. “He worked with our growing regional and local teams on localisation of our early content policies,” the company added. Forbes has reached out to TikTok for a comment.

Key Background

Following the threat of a ban in the U.S., last month, TikTok announced that  Oracle and Walmart have agreed to acquire a 20% stake in TikTok’s global business as part of a pre-IPO financing round. As part of this deal, Oracle agreed to acquire 12.5% of the video-sharing platform, while Walmart agreed to hold a 7.5% stake. This deal, which initially had Trump’s “blessing”, was thrown into peril after ByteDance claimed that it would still retain control of TikTok while Oracle and Walmart will serve as minority partners. Both Trump and Oracle then pushed back against this claim with the president stating that he won’t allow the deal unless TikTok’s operations are “ totally controlled” by a U.S. entity like Oracle. Since then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that TikTok must meet all U.S. security requirements in any deal it makes with Oracle — which will include storing code in the U.S. — or it will be forced to shut down. The Trump administration had ordered the removal of the app from smartphone app stores but the move was put on hold by a judge, who ruled in favor of TikTok, stating that Trump’s TikTok ban likely overstepped

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Former Chinese government official ran TikTok’s content policy as app went global

A former Chinese government official in his late twenties was in charge of deciding what content should be allowed on TikTok as the short-video app became a smash hit around the world, according to two people close to the company.

Cai Zheng, who worked in China’s embassy in Tehran for four years according to a now deleted LinkedIn profile, ran ByteDance’s global content policy team in Beijing until early this year, when the company accelerated a move to let its biggest markets make their own decisions about what videos should be removed. 

The revelation that Mr Cai was at the heart of TikTok’s policymaking team raises questions about repeated denials from ByteDance, the app’s Beijing-based owner, that the Chinese government has any influence over TikTok’s operations. 

TikTok has been painted as a security threat to the US by Donald Trump and the app is trying to restructure its ownership and operations in partnership with Oracle and Walmart to avoid a total ban. It has been banned in India, previously its largest market by number of users.

Mr Cai joined ByteDance in 2018, at a time when the company was under intense scrutiny by Beijing for the videos it was running on TikTok’s Chinese sister app, Douyin, among other issues. The pressure forced chief executive Zhang Yiming to issue an apology and to tack closer to the government line. 

The former diplomat sat within ByteDance’s global trust and safety team in Beijing and wrote guidelines for what videos were acceptable on TikTok and other international apps including Helo and Vigo Video.

According to the people close to the company, Mr Cai was far from being a Communist Party ideologue, but his background and training may have influenced how he, and a team of young mostly Chinese policy analysts, implemented a strategy to keep controversial content off the short-video app.

During his stint, TikTok was accused of suppressing videos that upset Beijing’s sensitivities, including one by a teenage American girl which sought to raise awareness of the mass imprisonment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. TikTok has denied suppressing politically sensitive videos and said the video was removed in error. 

Last September, documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper, and confirmed as authentic by the people close to the company, suggested that TikTok banned videos about Tibetan and Taiwanese independence, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the Falun Gong movement.

TikTok said these policies were out of date and the documents were labelled as historical, although one person said content moderators still had access to them at the time of the leak.

“Cai Zheng was not involved in developing the policies [ . . .] as these policies predated him,” said a TikTok spokesperson. “He worked with our growing regional and local teams on localisation of our early content policies.”

Mr Cai could

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Top health official says coronavirus ‘herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government’

  • Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity “is not the strategy” of the nation’s federal government, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. 
  • The nation’s top health officials have warned that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to achieve herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 
  • White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, however, has previously pushed the idea of herd immunity. 



a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.

Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity is not the government’s plan, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, despite reports that White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas has pushed the idea. 

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“Herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus,” Azar said in response to a question from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Friday during a U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing. 

“We may get herd slowing of transmission as we perhaps have seen in the New York area and other concentrated areas. Our mission is to reduce fatalities, protect the vulnerable, keep coronavirus cases down to the lowest level possible,” Azar added. 

Herd immunity happens when a large portion of the population becomes immune to the coronavirus, making it harder to spread, the Mayo Clinic says. It can be achieved through natural infection — when enough people are exposed to the disease and develop antibodies against it — and through vaccinations. 

Most scientists think 60% to 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity, global health experts say. However, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers during a hearing in late September that a majority of the nation’s population — more than 90% — remains susceptible to infection, citing recent studies. 

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to infect enough people to reach herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s recent claim that New York has achieved enough herd immunity from the coronavirus and is “no longer having the pandemic.”

Fauci said that around 22% of New York’s residents have likely been exposed to the coronavirus, under the amount needed for herd immunity. 

“They got hit very badly. They made some mistakes. Right now if you look at what’s going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things of masks, social distancing, outdoors

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Top health official says coronavirus herd immunity ‘not the strategy of the U.S. government’

  • Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity “is not the strategy” of the nation’s federal government, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. 
  • The nation’s top health officials have warned that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to achieve herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 
  • White House’s coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, however, has previously pushed the idea of herd immunity. 



a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.

Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity “is not the strategy” of the nation’s government despite reports that White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas has pushed the idea, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. 

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“Herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus,” Azar in response to a question from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Friday during a U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing. 

“We may get herd slowing of transmission as we perhaps have seen in the New York area and other concentrated areas. Our mission is to reduce fatalities, protect the vulnerable, keep coronavirus cases down to the lowest level possible,” Azar added. 

Herd immunity happens when a large portion of the population becomes immune to the coronavirus, making it harder to spread, the Mayo Clinic says. It can be achieved through natural infection — when enough people are exposed to the disease and develop antibodies against it — and through vaccinations. 

Most scientists think 60% to 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity, global health experts say. However, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers during a hearing in late September that a majority of the nation’s population — more than 90% — remain susceptible to infection, citing recent studies. 

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to infect enough people to reach herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s recent claim that New York has achieved enough herd immunity from the coronavirus and is “no longer having the pandemic.”

Fauci said that around 22% of New York’s residents have likely been exposed to the coronavirus, under the amount needed for herd immunity. 

“They got hit very badly, they made some mistakes. Right now if you look at what’s going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things of masks, social

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Top health official says coronavirus herd immunity not U.S. strategy

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.

Amanda Voisard | Reuters

Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity “is not the strategy” of the nation’s government despite reports that White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas has pushed the idea, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. 

“Herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus,” Azar in response to a question from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Friday during a U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing. 

“We may get herd slowing of transmission as we perhaps have seen in the New York area and other concentrated areas. Our mission is to reduce fatalities, protect the vulnerable, keep coronavirus cases down to the lowest level possible,” Azar added. 

Herd immunity happens when a large portion of the population becomes immune to the coronavirus, making it harder to spread, the Mayo Clinic says. It can be achieved through natural infection — when enough people are exposed to the disease and develop antibodies against it — and through vaccinations. 

Most scientists think 60% to 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity, global health experts say. However, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers during a hearing in late September that a majority of the nation’s population — more than 90% — remain susceptible to infection, citing recent studies. 

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to infect enough people to reach herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s recent claim that New York has achieved enough herd immunity from the coronavirus and is “no longer having the pandemic.”

Fauci said that around 22% of New York’s residents have likely been exposed to the coronavirus, under the amount needed for herd immunity. 

“They got hit very badly, they made some mistakes. Right now if you look at what’s going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds and washing hands,” Fauci said. 

“If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms … a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said on Aug. 13. 

An HHS spokesperson was not immediately available for CNBC’s inquiry clarifying Azar’s comments on New York perhaps seeing a “herd slowing of transmission.” 

Atlas, a neuroradiologist who was recently added to the White House’s coronavirus pandemic

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