It took up 30 seconds Saturday night on the nightly news in Scranton, Pennsylvania — footage of maybe 20-30 white women (the kind our president likes to call “suburban housewives”) and their kids marching through a park in the Wayne County, Pennsylvania, seat of Honesdale, carrying signs such as “Keep Our Children Safe from Pedos!” The WNEP-TV anchorwoman — speaking to a region of northeast Pennsylvania that was so critical for President Donal Trump’s 2016 victory — reported in her tone of TV authority on their march “to bring awareness around human trafficking.”There were more than 200 of the...
German lawmakers elected Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as new chancellor on Wednesday, ending 16 years of conservative rule under Angela Merkel and paving the way for a pro-European coalition government which has vowed to boost green investment.
Scholz, who won the secret ballot with 395 out of 707 votes, will lead Germany's first federal "traffic light" coalition, made up of the SPD, the ecologist Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and named for the parties' colours.
"Ich habe ‘Ja’ gesagt," – “I said yes,” said Scholz immediately after the parliamentary vote in a Twitter post that showed a beaming, bouquet-bearing new chancellor surrounded by lawmakers.
Wearing a face mask, Scholz nodded and waved as he received a standing ovation from lawmakers and accepted bouquets of flowers from the leaders of the parliamentary groups.
After being nominated by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Bellevue Castle, Scholz will return to parliament to take the oath of office in front of the lawmakers.
In the afternoon, Merkel will hand over the chancellery to the new leader of Europe's largest economy which is facing a brutal fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
The SPD-Greens-FDP coalition sealed a pact, titled "Dare for More Progress" last month that pledged “a new beginning for Germany".
The alliance aims to slash carbon emissions, overhaul decrepit digital infrastructure, modernise citizenship laws, lift the minimum wage and have Germany join a handful of countries worldwide in legalizing marijuana.
Walking a policy tightrope
'We will write the next chapter together'
Welcoming Scholz’s election, French President Emmanuel Macron, congratulated the new chancellor and promised to work with his German counterpart.
"We will write the next chapter together. For the French, for the Germans, for the Europeans," said Macron in a tweet in French and German. He also thanked Merkel for "never forgetting the lessons of history, for doing so much for us, with us, to move Europe forwards".
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Scholz and said she looked forward to working with him for a stronger EU.
"Congratulations, dear Olaf Scholz on your election and appointment as federal chancellor. I wish you a good start and look forward to further trusting cooperation for a strong Europe," she tweeted in her native German.
The EU chief is a member of Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrat party and served in her cabinet before moving to Brussels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also reacted to the appointment, calling for "constructive” ties with Scholz.
"We are counting on continuity, on the fact that constructive relations will develop between the president and the new chancellor, that the German side will continue to proceed from the understanding that there is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the most difficult differences," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Germany’s incoming foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has pledged a tougher line with authoritarian states such as Russia and China after the business-driven pragmatism of the Merkel years.
Baerbock, the Greens co-leader, is one of eight women in Germany's first gender-balanced cabinet.
"That corresponds to the society we live in – half of the power belongs to women," Scholz, who describes himself as a "feminist", said this week.
Scholz and his team promise stability just as France braces for a bitterly fought presidential election next year and Europe grapples with the enduring aftershocks of Brexit.
However a vicious fourth Covid wave has already put the incoming coalition to the test.
"We have to make a fresh start while facing down the corona pandemic – those are the circumstances the new government is up against," Scholz told reporters Tuesday, flanked by his designated finance and economy ministers, Christian Lindner and Robert Habeck.
More than 103,000 people have died with coronavirus in Germany while new infections have surged since the weather turned cold, filling intensive care units to the breaking point.
Scholz has thrown his weight behind Germany following Austria in making jabs mandatory to get the pandemic under control, as experts say the worst is still to come for the country's struggling clinics.
He aims to have parliament vote on the issue before the year is out with a view to implementing the law in February or March.
Merkel, 67, Germany's first woman chancellor, is retiring from politics after four consecutive terms, the first post-war leader to step aside of her own accord.
She leaves big shoes to fill, with large majorities of Germans approving of her leadership, even if her own party, the conservative Christian Democrats, often bridled against her moderate course.
"For 16 years, Angela Merkel defined the political centre," columnist Nikolas Blome said.
"If she were running again, she would win a fifth term," he added, saying it was nevertheless time for new blood.
Despite being from a rival party, Scholz tapped into that well of popular support in his bid to succeed her.
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The left-leaning daily Tageszeitung recently joked about the similarities between the two politicians on its front page, with the pandemic-era headline "Merkel Variant Prevails" and a picture of a grinning Scholz.
Her successor has however pledged to tackle the widening gap between rich and poor under Merkel.
The independent Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) said in an analysis of the coalition pact that lower-income Germans and parents stood to gain the most from its policy roadmap.
Meanwhile Greens supporters are banking on billions flowing toward climate protection and renewable energy, even as the government pledges to return to a no-new-debt rule by 2023.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
A federal magistrate judge ruled against the right-wing Project Veritas media outlet and will not release details about an FBI raid of its founder, according to Politico.
Federal agents seized cell phones Nov. 6 from conservative activist James O'Keefe at his Mamaroneck, New York, apartment during an apparent investigation of the alleged theft of a diary belonging to President Joe Biden's daughter, but Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave ruled the records should remain sealed for now to protect Ashley Biden's privacy, reported Politico.
“The Court is attentive to the fact that the Government is investigating potential criminal activity relating to the transmission of personal information about a private citizen, who happens to be the daughter of President Biden,” Cave ruled. “Given the details about Ms. Biden’s personal information included in the Materials, ‘the privacy interests of innocent third parties’ — including the victim of the alleged criminal activity — is in important countervailing factor against granting public access.”
The magistrate judge referred to O'Keefe as one of the "subjects" of the investigation in her 19-page ruling, which indicates the hidden-camera video producer is not currently seen by prosecutors as someone who will be charged and raises questions about the raid on his home, since authorities are not typically permitted to use search and seizure warrants to obtain unpublished materials about crimes allegedly committed by someone else.
His attorney has said O'Keefe purchased the "rights" to the diary from two individuals who claimed they found it abandoned in a room where Ashley Biden had been staying.
O'Keefe says his group never published anything from the diary because they couldn't confirm its authenticity, and the journal was later turned over to law enforcement in Florida after an attorney for the president's daughter refused to accept it.
A district court judge in Manhattan is considering O'Keefe's request to appoint a special master to oversee any searches of his phone.
Google said Tuesday it has moved to shut down a network of about one million hijacked electronic devices used worldwide to commit online crimes, while also suing Russia-based hackers the tech giant claimed were responsible.
The so-called botnet of infected devices, which was also used to surreptitiously mine bitcoin, was cut off at least for now from the people wielding it on the internet.
"The operators of Glupteba are likely to attempt to regain control of the botnet using a backup command and control mechanism," wrote Shane Huntley and Luca Nagy from Google's threat analysis group.
Large technology companies like Google and Microsoft are increasingly pulled into the battle against cybercrime, which is conducted via their products thus giving them unique understanding of and access to the threats.
Google said the network includes about one million Windows-using devices worldwide for crimes that include stealing users' credentials, and has targeted victims from the United States, India, Brazil and southeast Asia.
The company also filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court against Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov seeking an injunction to block them from wrongdoing on its platforms.
Cybersecurity experts first noticed Glupteba in 2011, which spreads by masquerading as free, downloadable software, videos or movies that people unwittingly download onto their devices.
However, unlike conventional botnets that rely on predetermined channels to ensure their survival, Glupteba is programmed to find a replacement server in order to keep operating even after being attacked, says Google's lawsuit.
Because the botnet web combines the power of some one million devices it possesses unusual power that could be used for large-scale ransomware or other attacks.
To maintain that network, the organization "uses Google advertisements to post job openings for the websites" carrying out the illegal work.
The hackers also used Google's own services to distribute the malware -- the internet giant took down some 63 million Google Docs and terminated over 1,100 Google accounts used to spread Glupteba.
The botnets can "recover more quickly from disruptions, making them that much harder to shutdown. We are working closely with industry and government as we combat this type of behavior," Google said in a blog post.