Online Mapping Tool Created for Natural Disasters Now Helps Feed Pandemic Hungry

An organization that provides assistance during natural disasters has retooled itself to help the people hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee has the details on how volunteer dispatchers and delivery drivers use crowdsourcing to help those in need.

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Columbus Protest Over George Floyd’s Death Turns Violent

Protesters angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turned out for a demonstration in Columbus that began peacefully but turned violent, with windows smashed at the Ohio Statehouse and storefronts along surrounding downtown streets.
The crowd of around 400 people entered into a standoff with Columbus police Thursday night, blocking the intersection of key streets in the Ohio capital for hours,  the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The demonstration began as a peaceful protest, but news outlets reported protesters began throwing objects like water bottles at officers, who responded by using tear gas on the crowd. A scuffle between a protester and an officer broke out around 9:45 p.m., WCMH-TV reported.
Some protesters attempted to breach the Ohio Statehouse later Thursday, the TV station reported. Videos obtained by The Associated Press show people smashing the building’s windows.
Calls and emails to Columbus police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which covers Capitol security, from the AP weren’t returned overnight.
“I understand why some residents are angry and taking to the streets. I have said many times that racism exists across the country, state and right here in Columbus. We are committed to addressing racism wherever we see it,” Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted before 9 p.m. “I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night.”
Earlier Thursday, video showed the crowd marching down Broad Street and blocking High Street, two downtown arteries near the statehouse. As they marched, protesters engaged in a call-and-response chant: “Say his name,” followed by “George Floyd.”
Demonstrators also chanted, “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”
The Dispatch reported that protesters dispersed by pepper spray broke windows along South High Street and broke into the DGX store, a subsidiary of Dollar General, on the street. Photographs from the Dispatch showed a smashed storefront at the Einstein Bros. Bagels shop across the street from the statehouse.  
Floyd, a black man, was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday. His death has touched off protests across the country this week, including in Minneapolis itself, where protesters torched a police precinct Thursday night.

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7 People Shot at Kentucky Protest Against Police Shooting of Black Woman

At least seven people were shot Thursday night during a Louisville, Kentucky protest of the March fatal shooting by police of Breonna Taylor, an African American woman.  At least one of the victims is reported in critical condition. It was not immediately clear who fired a weapon.  A city of Louisville police spokesman told the Associated Press in a statement that, “No officers discharged their service weapons.”  Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by narcotics detectives after they knocked down her apartment door on March 13.  The detectives said they knocked on the door before entering, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he did not hear anything.   Walker shot a police officer in the leg and was charged with attempted murder, but charges against him have been dropped.  No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment. Her family is suing police. The FBI has opened an investigation.  The Thursday night protest happened at the same time demonstrators in the state of Minnesota protested the killing of George Floyd, an African American man who died after a police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck.   Several buildings, including a Minneapolis police station, were set on fire Thursday night and 500 soldiers from the National Guard were scheduled to be deployed. 

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In the US, Camera Phones Increasingly Expose Racism

From the death of a black man in Minneapolis to a racist incident in Central Park, camera phones are increasingly being used as a weapon against racism even when justice doesn’t always follow.Two videos shot on smartphones spread from social media to mainstream media this week, highlighting how bystanders are now frequently capturing incidents that in the past may have gone unnoticed.It was a member of the public who filmed George Floyd grasping for breath as a white Minneapolis policeman pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for at least five minutes on Monday.Floyd went still and was later declared dead in hospital. Four police officers were fired from their jobs but remain free and the city has had three nights of angry protests.”If we did not have a video, would the officers have been fired as quickly?” Ibram Kendi, director of the American University’s anti-racism research center, asked in an interview with Democracy Now! “Would they have believed all of those witnesses who were looking at what was happening and who was the asking officers to stop?”In the second incident, a white woman falsely reported Christian Cooper, an avid birdwatcher, to police after he requested that she leash her dog in a wooded area of New York’s Central Park.”I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she told Cooper as he filmed her dial 911 in a video that has been viewed over 43 million times on Twitter.Rodney KingIn February, Ahmaud Arbery — also African American — was shot and killed by two white residents while jogging in their neighborhood in Georgia.A third man, who was later also charged over Arbery’s death, filmed the murder, with the cellphone video sparking outrage when it was leaked onto social media earlier this month.The filming of such violent incidents is not new.Since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police in 1991, which was filmed by an amateur cameraman, videos have frequently documented acts of racism across the United States.But in recent years the capturing of such incidents, with them subsequently going viral online and then being broadcast across major news networks, has becoming more systematic.”Here’s the sad reality,” tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris, a black former candidate to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.”What happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery & Christian Cooper has gone on for generations to Black Americans. Cell phones just made it more visible.”Katheryn Russell-Brown, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida, said the videos remind us that “wherever people of color are there’s a vulnerability.”I would be hard pressed to think of cases involving Whites that show the same kind of instances of harm and assault particularly if we’re talking about law enforcement,” she told AFP.The increased use of police officers wearing body cameras while on duty over the past decade had raised hopes that the use of force against African Americans would fall.But after initial studies showed encouraging results, more in-depth reports found that “the cameras aren’t producing the reductions in use of force that were expected,” according to Urban Institute researcher Daniel Lawrence.Many forces allow officers to turn the cameras off whenever they want, while some have been accused of editing the images before making them public.’Torn apart’In the death of Eric Garner — by asphyxiation at the hands of a New York police officer in 2014 which sparked the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement — it was witnesses who filmed the incident, not police, like with Floyd’s death.”These videos that are published in public forms really do point to a kind of dysfunctionality in our criminal legal system,” said Russell-Brown.”It’s sort of suggesting that we need private citizens to make it necessary to watch public officers or people in public spaces to achieve justice or to at least raise the alarm bells about justice,” she added.Russell-Brown also notes that the presence of a camera often doesn’t prevent the act from being committed in the first place.Filming can also have major repercussions, with specialists warning of the risks of rushing to judgment on social networks.Within a day of the Central Park incident, Amy Cooper lost her job as vice president of a wealth management company, her anonymity and her dog amid a media storm.”I’m not excusing the racism. But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart,” said Christian Cooper, who is no relation to Amy.As powerful as videos may be, they mean little, if the law doesn’t run its course, say experts.”They got fired,” said Russell-Brown referring to the officers involved in Floyd’s death.”Is that enough? No. We have a dead person. So now we want the legal system to do what it’s supposed to do.” 

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Minnesota Calls National Guard to Quell Violent Protests in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has declared a state of emergency Thursday as protests raged and a police station burned in the tension-filled city where an African American man died in police custody Monday night.Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has called out the National Guard to try to prevent a third straight night of violence. Five hundred soldiers have been “activated,” the National Guard said late Thursday, and will be deployed to Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding communities.Late Thursday, after hundreds of demonstrators had marched peacefully, a Minneapolis police precinct went up in flames. Reporters on the scene said the police presence at in the area had been reduced to “zero” and they were unsure where the police were. Posts on Twitter indicated the police station had been abandoned. Firefighters were also absent. Meanwhile, the city warned that officials had unconfirmed reports that gas lines had been cut and that the building could explode.We’re hearing unconfirmed reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct have been cut and other explosive materials are in the building. If you are near the building, for your safety, PLEASE RETREAT in the event the building explodes.— City of Minneapolis (@CityMinneapolis) Police move through an area during demonstrations May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn.The officer restraining Floyd urged him to “relax,” but the officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck after Floyd stopped moving. One witness said he heard Floyd calling out for his mother before dying.Because of Floyd’s “I can’t breathe,” his death was quickly compared to that of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York who died in 2014 after a white officer placed him in a chokehold while he begged for his life. Garner also told officers “I can’t breathe,” and the cry became a national rallying point against police brutality.Rallies were also taking part in other cities Thursday. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of demonstrators stood in the downtown streets and chanted as darkness fell outside the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, where protesters spray-painted graffiti and broke car windows.AP reported that cellphone video shot by protester Anabel Escobar, 29, showed a man on the hood of an SUV making its way through the crowd in front of the Capitol. The video showed the driver speeding up and then apparently trying to run the man over after he fell off the hood. The vehicle sped away as other protesters chased it. It was unclear if the man on the hood was injured.Downtown denver. Some girl turned around to run this guy over People pour milk onto the face of an injured man to wash pepper spray out of his eyes during a protest outside the Third Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.The windows of nearly every store surrounding the Target were smashed and a hamburger restaurant was burned to the ground.Police in riot gear fired tear gas to break up a crowd demonstrating outside a Minneapolis police precinct. The building and one police car were damaged.No serious injuries were reported, but Minneapolis police have arrested a suspect they said shot and killed a man he believed was trying to loot a pawn shop.Some residents who live near the looted stores strongly criticized the police but said they cannot understand why people are destroying their own neighborhood, including places where they shop.In New York City, the Associated Press reported, protesters defied New York’s coronavirus prohibition on public gatherings Thursday, clashing with police. Demonstrations also took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A day earlier, demonstrators had taken to the streets in Los Angeles and Memphis.Floyd’s death drew international attention.U.N. High Commissioner for Human Right Michelle Bachelet said U.S. authorities have a duty to ensure that justice is done as she read off the list of black men who have lost their lives in U.S. police custody over the last few years.“In too many cases in the past, such investigations have led to killings being deemed justified on questionable grounds, or only being addressed by administrative measures,” she said.A protester washes her eyes May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody, continued .While Bachelet said the “entrenched and pervasive” racism in the United States must be recognized and tackled, she also said more violence and looting will not solve the problem.“I urge protesters to express their demands for justice peacefully, and I urge the police to take utmost care not inflame the current situation even more with any further use of excessive force.”Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN Thursday that he is “tired of seeing black men die” and urged protesters to maintain peace. He called on police to “start doing your job the right way, because I haven’t been seeing it. … I want justice. I just want justice,” he said, he fighting back tears.Frey said Thursday that the violent reaction to Floyd’s death is the “result of so much built-up anger and sadness … that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years,” a reference to slavery and subsequent racism.Frey is white, and the city he leads is close to 64 percent white, according to the U.S. Census. Only about 19 percent of the city’s residents are African American.Floyd’s death comes weeks after three people were charged with the fatal shooting in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery. The African American man was killed in February, allegedly by a white former Glynn County police officer and his son who apparently mistook Arbery for a burglar while he was jogging. The two were charged only after a video of the shooting emerged several weeks later. The man who shot the video was charged.

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Billions in the Balance as US Weighs Changing Hong Kong Trade Status

Billions of dollars in trade are hanging in the balance as U.S. lawmakers consider suspending Hong Kong’s special trading status after the State Department said it could no longer certify the territory’s high degree of autonomy from China.  After China took control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997,  Hong Kong’s economy remained one of the freest in the world, attracting billions of dollars in investment and becoming a home base for companies and banks across Asia.  Now, all of that is uncertain with Beijing’s passage of a new National Security Law that undercuts Hong Kong’s special status and would allow Chinese security agencies to limit the liberties of Hong Kong residents.  Hong Kong is already facing a deep recession because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on trade and tourism. Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Riot police wearing face masks stand guard in front of a bank electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange, May 28, 2020.What’s at stake As of June 2018, more than 1,300 American companies have had business operations in Hong Kong, including nearly every major U.S. financial firm and about 290 regional headquarters with parent organizations in the United States, according to U.S. government data. An analysis from Reuters shows that about $67 billion in annual U.S.-Hong Kong trade of goods and services could be put at risk if Hong Kong loses its preferential lower U.S. tariff rate. The State Department said 85,000 U.S. citizens lived in Hong Kong in 2018. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hong Kong was the source of the largest bilateral U.S. goods trade surplus last year at $26.1 billion. The U.S. Senate proposed a bipartisan bill last week that would sanction officials and entities involved in the execution of new national security laws in Hong Kong and penalize banks that do businesses with those entities.  The Trump administration is also reportedly crafting a range of options to punish China over its tightening grip on Hong Kong, including targeted sanctions, new tariffs and further restrictions on Chinese companies. Such moves could mark the opening salvos of the U.S. response as President Donald Trump weighs how far he is prepared to go. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents U.S. business and investment interests, issued a statement Tuesday calling on the Chinese government to maintain Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” framework, while calling on the Trump administration to continue to seek constructive relations with Hong Kong. “It would be a serious mistake on many levels to jeopardize Hong Kong’s special status, which is fundamental to its role as an attractive investment destination and international financial hub,” it said in the statement. Adrianna Zhang contributed to this report.

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Minneapolis Mayor Declares State of Emergency

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has declared a state of emergency in the tension-filled city where an African-American man died while in police custody Monday night.Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has called out the National Guard to try to prevent a third straight night of violence.Several stores in Minneapolis and the twin city of St. Paul were set on fire Thursday night. St. Paul police report officers being hit by rocks and bottles.There are also reports of looting in St. Paul.The protesters are enraged by the death of George Floyd after a white police officer knelt on his neck while he was in custody, allegedly killing him.Minneapolis police say Floyd resembled a suspect wanted for allegedly trying to spend a counterfeit $20 bill in a food store. Police say he had resisted arrest. Bystanders captured the scene on cellphone video as officers detained Floyd. The video spread widely when posted online.“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,” Floyd pleaded, while being detained by a white police officer. According to cellphone video, the officer held Floyd on the ground and knelt on his neck. Floyd was handcuffed.Police move through an area during demonstrations May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn.The officer restraining Floyd urged him to “relax,” but the officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck after Floyd stopped moving. One witness said he heard Floyd calling out for his mother before dying.Because of Floyd’s “I can’t breathe,” his death was quickly compared to that of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York who died in 2014 after a white officer placed him in a chokehold while he begged for his life. Garner also told officers “I can’t breathe,” and the cry became a national rallying point against police brutality.The Minneapolis Police Department fired all four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest. The FBI has joined Minneapolis police and the Hennepin County attorney’s office in the investigation. The Justice Department said the investigation is a top priority.President Donald Trump tweeted that he has asked for the probe to be “expedited. … My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”The city’s police union is asking the public to wait until the investigation is complete before “rushing to judgment and immediately condemning our officers.”But the public is responding to video, which shows Floyd’s head turned to the side as he does not appear to be resisting. Toward the end of the video, paramedics arrive, lift a limp Floyd onto a stretcher and place him in an ambulance.”He wasn’t actively resisting, and he was saying he couldn’t breathe,” said Charles P. Stephenson, a former police officer and FBI agent with expertise in use-of-force tactics quoted by the Associated Press. “You have to understand that possibility is there (that Floyd couldn’t breathe), and you release any kind of restriction you might have on an airway immediately.”Law enforcement officers have many ways to detain people but “no police academy that we know of teaches a police officer to use their knee, to put it on their neck,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which researches and advises on police practices, People pour milk onto the face of an injured man to wash pepper spray out of his eyes during a protest outside the Third Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.The windows of nearly every store surrounding the Target were smashed and a hamburger restaurant was burned to the ground.Police in riot gear fired tear gas to break up a crowd demonstrating outside a Minneapolis police precinct. The building and one police car were damaged.No serious injuries were reported, but Minneapolis police have arrested a suspect they said shot and killed a man he believed was trying to loot a pawn shop.Some residents who live near the looted stores strongly criticized the police but said they cannot understand why people are destroying their own neighborhood, including places where they shop.Floyd’s death drew international attention.U.N. High Commissioner for Human Right Michelle Bachelet said U.S. authorities have a duty to ensure that justice is done as she read off the list of black men who have lost their lives in U.S. police custody over the last few years.“In too many cases in the past, such investigations have led to killings being deemed justified on questionable grounds, or only being addressed by administrative measures,” she said.A protester washes her eyes May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night.While Bachelet said the “entrenched and pervasive” racism in the United States must be recognized and tackled, she also said more violence and looting will not solve the problem.“I urge protesters to express their demands for justice peacefully, and I urge the police to take utmost care not inflame the current situation even more with any further use of excessive force.”Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN Thursday that he is “tired of seeing black men die” and urged protesters to maintain peace. He called on police to “start doing your job the right way, because I haven’t been seeing it. … I want justice. I just want justice,” he said, he fighting back tears.Frey said Thursday that the violent reaction to Floyd’s death is the “result of so much built-up anger and sadness … that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years,” a reference to slavery and subsequent racism.Frey is white, and the city he leads is close to 64 percent white, according to the U.S. Census. Only about 19 percent of the city’s residents are African American.Floyd’s death comes weeks after three people were charged with the fatal shooting in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery. The African American man was allegedly killed in February by a white former Glynn County police officer and his son who apparently mistook Arbery for a burglar while he was jogging. The two were charged only after a video of the shooting emerged several weeks later. The man who shot the video was charged. 

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Chinese Grad Students May Be Next Hit by US-China Tensions

The Trump administration may soon expel thousands of Chinese graduate students enrolled at U.S. universities and impose other sanctions against Chinese officials in the latest signs of tensions between Washington and Beijing that are raging over trade, the coronavirus pandemic, human rights and the status of Hong Kong.President Donald Trump said he would make an announcement about China on Friday, and administration officials said he is considering a months-old proposal to revoke the visas of students affiliated with educational institutions in China linked to the People’s Liberation Army or Chinese intelligence.Trump is also weighing targeted travel and financial sanctions against Chinese officials for actions in Hong Kong, according to the officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.”We’ll be announcing what we’re doing tomorrow with respect to China and we are not happy with China,” Trump told reporters at an unrelated event Thursday, referring mainly to COVID-19. “We are not happy with what’s happened. All over the world people are suffering, 186 countries. All over the world they’re suffering. We’re not happy.”FILE – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, May 20, 2020.Although the student expulsions aren’t directly related to Hong Kong and China’s move to assert full control over the former British territory, potential sanctions against officials involved in that effort would be a result of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination that Hong Kong can no longer be considered autonomous from mainland China.Pompeo notified Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong is no longer deserving of the preferential trade and commercial status it has enjoyed from the U.S. since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. Under a joint Sino-British agreement on the handover, Hong Kong was to be governed differently than the mainland for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” policy.Pompeo’s determination opened the door to possible sanctions and the loss of special perks Hong Kong has received from the United States. But neither Pompeo nor other officials were able Wednesday to describe what action the administration might take, an uncertainty related to the impact that such sanctions would have on U.S. companies that operate in Hong Kong and the city’s position as Asia’s major financial hub. Trump’s comments sparked a drop in U.S. financial markets.Concerns from educatorsSerious consideration of the visa revocation proposal, first reported by The New York Times, has faced opposition from U.S. universities and scientific organizations who depend on tuition fees paid by Chinese students to offset other costs. In addition, those institutions fear possible reciprocal action from Beijing that could limit their students’ and educators’ access to China.In a nod to those concerns, the officials said any restrictions would be narrowly tailored to affect only students who present a significant risk of engaging in espionage or intellectual property theft. The officials could not say how many people could ultimately be expelled.The possibility that the proposal may be implemented has drawn concerns from educators.”We’re very worried about how broadly this will be applied, and we’re concerned it could send a message that we no longer welcome talented students and scholars from around the globe,” said Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations at the American Council on Education.”We don’t have a lot of details about how they are going to define ties to Chinese universities, what type of universities are they going to target, what would constitute a university having ties to the Chinese military,” she said.If the situation were reversed and another nation imposed limits on students from U.S. universities that receive Defense Department funding, she noted, it would affect a wide range of schools.The U.S. hosted 133,396 graduate students from China in the 2018-19 academic year, and they made up 36.1% of all international graduate students, according to the Institute of International Education. Overall, there were 369,548 students from China, accounting for 33.7% of international students who contributed nearly $15 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018.Rising tensionsThe proposal to revoke the visas is not directly related to the dispute over Hong Kong, nor is it tied to U.S. criticism of China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Rather, it is connected to various elements of trade and human rights issues that have seen U.S. officials complain about Chinese industrial espionage and spying and harassment of dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities.But the timing of a potential announcement could come at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric about the imposition of national security laws on Hong Hong in violation of the Sino-British accord.The proposal first began to be discussed last year when the administration moved to require Chinese diplomats based in the United States to report their domestic U.S. travel and meetings with American scientists and academics. At the time, U.S. officials said it was a reciprocal measure to match restrictions that American diplomats face in China.Those limits were followed by a requirement that Chinese state-run media in the U.S. register as “foreign diplomatic missions” and report their property holdings and employee rosters to the government. That was, in turn, followed by the limiting of the number of visas for Chinese journalists allowed to work in the United States.China retaliated for the visa limitations by expelling several reporters from U.S. media outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times.

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What is Section 230 of Communications Decency Act?

QUESTION: What is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?ANSWER: Section 230 “is one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation” on the internet, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a U.S.-based global nonprofit digital rights group.The original purpose of the 1996 Communications Decency Act was to restrict free speech on the internet, the EFF said. The Supreme Court, however, struck down anti-free speech provisions after objections from the internet community, including the EFF.Section 230 says, in part, that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”Q: What is an interactive computer service?A: An interactive computer service is partially described in the CDA as “any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the internet.”This means internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are subject to CDA regulations.A variety of interactive computer service providers that generally include any online service that publishes third-party content are also required to comply with CDA regulations. Examples are Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo.Q: Does the CDA provide protections for online intermediaries? If so, what are they?A: Section 230 protects them from civil liability. It says, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph.”In summary, Section 230 protects online intermediaries against multiple laws that could otherwise hold them legally accountable for the content and actions of others. Regular ISPs are protected, as are essentially any online services that publish third-party content.While the measure protects them from some of their users’ content, it does not completely do so, as they must still comply with certain intellectual property and criminal laws.Q: Do other countries offer legal protections to interactive computer services, as Section 230 of the CDA does in the U.S.?A: Many other countries do not have similar laws, according to the EFF. While Canada, European countries and Japan provide high levels of internet access, most major online services are U.S.-based.”This is in part because CDA 230 makes the U.S. a safe haven for websites that want to provide a platform for controversial or political speech and a legal environment favorable to free expression,” the EFF says.Source: https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230

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US Charges North Korean Bank Officials in Sanctions Case

The Justice Department unsealed charges Thursday against more than two dozen North Korean individuals accused of making at least $2.5 billion in illicit payments linked to the country’s nuclear weapons and missile program. The case, filed in federal court in Washington, is believed to be the largest criminal enforcement action ever brought against North Korea. The 33 defendants include executives of North Korea’s state-owned bank, Foreign Trade Bank, which in 2013 was added to a Treasury Department list of sanctioned institutions and cut off from the U.S. financial system.  According to the indictment, the bank officials — one of whom had served in North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau — set up branches in countries around the world, including Thailand, Russia and Kuwait, and used more than 250 front companies to process U.S. dollar payments to further the country’s nuclear proliferation program. Five of the defendants are Chinese citizens who operated covert branches in either China or Libya. “Through this indictment, the United States has signified its commitment to hampering North Korea’s ability to illegally access the U.S. financial system and limit its ability to use proceeds from illicit actions to enhance its illegal WMD and ballistic missile programs,” acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement. The prosecution underscores ongoing concerns about sanctions violations by North Korea. Last month, United Nations experts recommended blacklisting 14 vessels for violating sanctions against North Korea, accusing the country in a report of increasing illegal coal exports and imports of petroleum products and continuing with cyberattacks on financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to gain illicit revenue. The U.S. has seized about $63 million from the scheme since 2015, according to the indictment. It was not immediately clear whether any of the defendants had lawyers.

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