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Google’s top Washington lobbyist stepping down

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Google’s top lobbyist in Washington is stepping aside as the U.S. technology company faces criticism on Capitol Hill on issues including privacy protections and its investment plans in China, the Alphabet Inc unit said on Friday.

Former U.S. Representative Susan Molinari, who has run Google’s Washington office and its Americas Policy team for nearly seven years, will move to a new job as senior advisor in January, the company said in a statement. Google is seeking a new head of Americas policy, it added.

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“I am comfortable in making the transition,” said Molinari, 60, who had served as vice chair of the House Republican Conference before resigning from Congress in 1997 to become a Saturday morning news anchor on CBS. She added in a statement that she had been “looking for the right time to step back.”

Alphabet faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats for refusing to send parent company Chief Executive Larry Page or Google CEO Sundar Pichai to a Senate hearing in September, where senators left an empty chair next to Twitter Inc’s CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook Inc’s  chief operating officer.

Pichai in September canceled a trip to Asia to meet with lawmakers and agreed to testify before Congress later this year.

Google also has faced this year numerous accusations from President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders that its search results promote content critical of conservatives and demote right-leaning news outlets, a charge that Google denies.

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Lawmakers have questioned whether it would accept China’s censorship demands as it considers reentering the search engine market there. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence called on Google to abandon the Chinese project.

Pichai said at a forum on Thursday that the project was “more of an experiment” and reiterated that there is “nothing imminent” on a whether it will launch a search engine in China.

In June, Google hired Karan Bhatia as global head of policy from General Electric Co Bhatia served as deputy U.S. Trade Representative for former President George W. Bush. The company also named Pablo Chavez, a Microsoft Corp lobbyist and former senior aide to Republican John McCain, as another senior lobbyist in June.

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Alphabet said last month it would shut down the consumer version of its failed social network Google+ and tighten its data-sharing policies after announcing that the private profile data of at least 500,000 users might have been exposed to hundreds of external developers.

“Google must be more forthcoming with the public and lawmakers if the company is to maintain or regain the trust of the users of its services,” three senior Republicans told Google in an Oct. 11 letter. They said they were “especially disappointed” that Google did not disclose the issue at a privacy hearing two weeks earlier.

In 2012, Google agreed to pay a then-record $22.5 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented to users of Apple Inc’s  Safari internet browser that it would not place tracking “cookies” or serve them targeted ads.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Chang

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China

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Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.

Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.

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Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs

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President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.

At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.

But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.

"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.

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Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan

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Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.

Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.

It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.

"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.

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