Trump aides’ bid to plug leaks creates unease among some civil servants
They’re checking cellphones, tightening access and looking for leakers. The White House leak clampdown has fueled paranoia among Washington career civil servants who say it appears designed to try to limit the flow of information and deter officials from talking to the media about topics that could result in negative stories. Several officials said some employees fear their phone calls and emails may be monitored and that they are reluctant to speak their minds during internal discussions. Reuters’ Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel report.
Prosperous, comfortable and yearning to smack down the establishment
The Dutch fishing village of Volendam hardly seems like a hotbed of discontent: tidy, prosperous, little crime or unemployment. Yet a third of its voters are likely to back anti-immigrant nationalist Geert Wilders in the March 15 general election. His appeal highlights a paradox in Western democracies: voters are spurning the mainstream in favor of anti-establishment populism in times of economic wellbeing. Reuters’ Toby Sterling reports.
China reminds South Korea where the money comes from
South Korean firms are being squeezed in China, in suspected retaliation for Seoul’s deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, highlighting the tools China can deploy to hit back at the trade partners it disagrees with. Reuters’ Adam Jourdan reports from Shanghai.
It’s complaint time again
Following a practice which dates back to imperial times, hundreds of thousands of petitioners from across China stream into Beijing each year in the hope that their grievances, often spawned by local officials, will be rectified once central authorities are made aware of their plight. To avoid looking bad, local officials intercept, detain and forcibly return petitioners home. Reuters’ Philip Wen relates stories of this bleak game of cat and mouse.
Coal turkey has got me on the run
China has set itself a staggering task to cure its smothering pollution: switching coal-fired boilers and heating systems in at least 1.2 million households in 28 of its smoggiest northern cities to run on gas or electricity. By October. Reuters’ Meng Meng and Josephine Mason report from Beijing.
Innovations in xenophobia
Hungary built a fence along its southern border capable of delivering electric shocks to unwanted migrants and armed with heat sensors, cameras, and loudspeakers that blare in several languages. Reuters’ Marton Dunai reports.
Alexa wants your fellows
Amazon.com is paying for a year-long doctoral fellowship at four universities to help students build capabilities into its voice-controlled assistant Alexa, the latest move by a technology firm to nurture ideas and talent in artificial intelligence research. Some of the complex technology problems up for study: converting text to speech, processing conversation and asking Alexa to make the air conditioner find a comfortable temperature without having to tell it a degree. Cost: undisclosed. Reuters’ Jeffrey Dastin reports.
Opinion: Snap investors abandon all pretense at self-regard
Investors have effectively just done what no self-respecting person ever should: wear sweatpants in public. With Snap’s $3.4 billion initial public offering they have simply given up giving a damn. They handed their money over to an immature company and in the process abrogated their rights to fair treatment, good governance and reasonable valuations. If the $24 billion self-styled “camera company” run by a 26-year-old fails to achieve its ambitions, shareholders have only their capitulated selves to blame. Reuters’ Rob Cox explains why this is so.
Reuters photo of the day
They’re not waving hello
Members of European Parliament vote on lifting the EU parliamentary immunity of French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen after she came under investigation for tweeting pictures of Islamic State violence. REUTERS/Yves Herman