Mr. Tech Goes to Washington. US & India Collaborate & Listen.


Senators Interrogate Tech Company Lawyers: Intelligence Committee Senators questioned lawyers for Google, Facebook, and Twitter in a contentious hearing regarding Russia’s campaign to influence Americans. Senators of both parties chastised the companies for failing to properly identify and investigate Russian activities over their social media networks. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) told the lawyers, “I don’t think you get it. What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change… the beginning of cyber-warfare…a major foreign power with sophistication and ability… [to] sow conflict and discontent all over this country…this is a very big deal.”

Those remarks illustrate the growing frustration with the technology industry, and carried an implicit warning that lawmakers are considering legislation for political advertising. The hearing came after revelations that Russian disinformation campaign was much larger than initially thought. Google disclosed it had found1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. Twitter discovered 2,752 accounts controlled by Russians, and Facebook said 126 million users may have seen content produced and circulated by Russian operatives.


Objections and Nyet To Russian Peace Talk Proposal For Syria: Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2015 and has been crucial to President Bashar al-Assad’s forces’ defeat of ISIS and other anti-Assad Syrian rebels. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to help find a political solution to the six-year war. He has extended invitations to 33 Syrian groups and political parties to attend the“Syrian Congress on National Dialogue,” peacemaking talks to be held in Sochi on November 18. Syria’s government is ready to attend, which will focus on a new constitution. Turkey objected to invitations extended to Kurdish groups, calling them national security threats, and the head of the Syrian anti Assad opposition objected Sochi as the venue, preferring instead UN sponsorship in Geneva. A Russian negotiator said Tuesday that Syrian groups who boycott the congress risk being left out as the political process moves forward.

UK Defense Secretary Resigns After Admitting To Sexual Misconduct: Michael Fallon resigned as UK Defense Secretary as the Conservatives face a growing sexual harassment scandal at Westminster. Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May ordered an investigation into her deputy, Damian Green, after allegations of misconduct, which he denied. Last week, May ordered an investigation into international trade minister Mark Garnier, who admitted he asked his personal assistant to buy sex toys and used a sexual slur against her. Earlier this week, Fallon apologized to journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer for repeatedly placing his hand on her knee during a dinner in 2002. In his resignation letter, Fallon said: “A number of allegations have surfaced…including some about my previous conduct…In the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honour to represent. I am now resigning as defence secretary.” This came on the day May toughened her proposals for dealing with sexual misconduct in politics by promising that complaints could be referred to an independent body, as more accounts of incidents emerged.


UN Votes To End US Embargo Against Cuba: The United Nations General Assembly voted 191-2 in favor of a resolution calling for an end to the 50-year old US economic embargo on Cuba. Israel and the US voted against the resolution, which is non-binding. Only the US Congress has the legal authority to repeal the full embargo. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the move “political theater,” adding, “The Cuban regime is sending the warped message to the world that the sad state of its economy, the oppression of its people, and the export of its destructive ideology is not its fault.” In 2015, President Barack Obama reopened the embassies in Havana and the US to achieve a closer diplomatic relationship. But in the past year 24 American diplomats claimed they were injured from a series of “acoustic strikes” while working in Cuba, and President Trump holds the Cuban government responsible.

The US and India to Collaborate on Terrorist Designations: Indian and US officials will meet in December to coordinate terrorist designations. The two countries will discuss strategies to keep terrorists and terror groups like Jaish-e-Muhammad under pressure. The new consultation mechanism was agreed upon during the Modi-Trump summit that took place this summer. In the joint statementthat followed the summit, both sides “committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qaida, ISIS, JeM, Lashkar-e-Taiba, D-Company, and their affiliates.” The joint statement added that India and United States would work together to “prevent terrorist travel and to disrupt global recruitment efforts by expanding intelligence-sharing and operational-level counterterrorism cooperation.”

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