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Congressional report accuses Chinese state media entities of involvement in spying and propaganda

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A report to the U.S. Congress released on Wednesday accused Chinese state media entities of involvement in spying and propaganda and said their staff in the United States should be required to register as foreign agents.

The annual report of the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission said that while China had tightened restrictions on domestic and foreign media, Chinese state media had rapidly expanded overseas.

The commission, created by Congress in 2000 to monitor national security implications of U.S.-China trade relations, said China’s state media expansion was part of a broader effort to exert greater control over how China is depicted globally, as well as to gather information.

The report highlighted the rapid growth of the Xinhua news agency and noted that it had offices at the United Nations in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco.

“Xinhua serves some of the functions of an intelligence agency by gathering information and producing classified reports for the Chinese leadership on both domestic and international events,” the report said.

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It quoted testimony to the commission by the U.S. Government-funded rights organization, Freedom House, as saying it was a “loophole” that individuals working for Xinhua and China’s People’s Daily newspaper were not covered by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

FARA, first passed in 1938 in the lead up to World War Two to combat German propaganda efforts, requires foreign governments, political parties and lobbyists they hire in the United States to register with the Department of Justice.

The China Daily, an English-language newspaper owned by China’s government and ruling Communist Party, is already registered under FARA but only its top executives are required to individually disclose working for the publication.

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A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is working to overhaul FARA after Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, and a business associate were indicted for failing to register under the law.

The reform, backed by powerful Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, could provide an opportunity for Congress to act on the commission recommendations.

On Monday, the Kremlin-backed television station RT America registered under FARA after U.S. intelligence agencies in a report in January called it a “state-run propaganda machine” that contributed to the Kremlin’s campaign to interfere with last year’s U.S. presidential election.

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Under the act, RT will be required to disclose financial information. Moscow has said it views the action against RT as an unfriendly act.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, additional reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by David


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NYT columnist says one of Trump’s friends begged him to talk him out of launching war with Iran

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On Monday, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper, following President Donald Trump's attacks on him for calling his behavior racist in a recent article. The president accused him of "kissing [his] a**" in an Oval Office phone call.

Speaking to Cooper, Friedman denied Trump's characterization of their discussion.

"The president tweeted about a private conversation we had and lobbed in a few insults," said Friedman. "Basically, my response, which I put out on Twitter is that I was encouraged by a friend of his to speak to him after the downing of the American drone, because I thought it was wise that we not retaliate, and I thought he was wise not to retaliate, and this friend of his wanted me to encourage him in that, because he was evidently agonizing a little over that not retaliating. And I did that. I began the conversation by saying that 'I disagree with you, Mr. President on many things, but I think you did the right thing on this.' We talked for about four minutes. We also talked about China and we left it at that."

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Trump is a ‘human opioid’ who feeds racism to his ‘white identity cult’: author

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Democrats will lose the 2020 campaign if they treat it like a typical election and instead need to make a moral issue against President Donald Trump, author Tim Wise explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Wise is the author of the 2004 book White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.

"As Democrats work on their strategy to counter President Trump ahead of the 2020 election. Anti-racism activist Tim Wise -- who helped to defeat David Duke in two campaigns in the 1990s -- provided this advice for Democrats," anchor Chris Matthews said.

He read excerpts of tweets from Wise.

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Trump asked right-wing conspiracy theorist congressman to help him pick his next Director of National Intelligence

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On Monday, Politico reported that President Donald Trump is consulting with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about who he should consider to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Nunes has led the Republican side of the House Intelligence Committee since 2015 and chaired the committee for four years, despite having no professional qualifications of any kind for that role. Since 2017, he has been known for his stunts and conspiracy theories intended to discredit the Russia investigation and throw suspicion on anyone who looks into Trump's conduct.

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