Euro-Area Finance Chiefs Brace for Fresh Fight Over Budget

(Bloomberg) — Euro-area finance ministers will debate the final key elements of a small budget for their currency bloc, as the region seeks to cap two years of difficult negotiations over a tool that falls far short of the original sweeping vision of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The discussion on the budget, whose broad outlines were already agreed in June, will seek to bring to a conclusion difficult talks that pitted the fiscal restraint of the EU’s hawkish North against the South’s calls for spending to stimulate the economy. But entrenched differences over aspects of how this pot of money will be financed may mean an accord remains elusive.

The agreed budget would create a pot of about 20 billion euros ($ 22 billion) to facilitate investments and reforms and help give a boost to poorer nations, rather than help support economies in a downturn, as was initially intended. These funds, which would be part of the EU’s broader budget and distributed over seven years, will be used to help countries see through investments and reforms and help poorer nations catch up.

Proponents argue that the pared-down budget could still be a foot in the door that could evolve into something more powerful in times of crisis. Skeptics of the plan say it’s a toothless tool that could nonetheless help incentivize laggards to reform.

Stumbling Blocks

A key issue ministers will debate is whether the instrument can be financed entirely from the EU’s broader budget, paid in by all the bloc’s 28 governments, or whether it could be topped up by other funding sources in the future.

Countries led by France have been pushing for a deal that would allow funds to be added through further contributions. The Dutch and other fiscal hawks have pushed for it to be funded exclusively from the EU’s budget, a restriction that would limit its total size.

A compromise could include a so-called “enabling clause”, which would pave the way for countries that wish to top up the budget to do so in the future. But the Dutch have insisted that this would only be on a voluntary basis, a red flag for other members.

The other main issue to be discussed involves the details of the so-called co-financing rate, which determines how much money governments will receive from this budget for a project and how much they have to put up themselves. This contribution could vary depending on the member’s economic situation, being reduced during a downturn.

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Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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China and Taiwan clash over Wikipedia edits

Ask Google or Siri: “What is Taiwan?”

“A state”, they will answer, “in East Asia”.

But earlier in September, it would have been a “province in the People’s Republic of China”.

For questions of fact, many search engines, digital assistants and phones all point to one place: Wikipedia. And Wikipedia had suddenly changed.

The edit was reversed, but soon made again. And again. It became an editorial tug of war that – as far as the encyclopedia was concerned – caused the state of Taiwan to constantly blink in and out of existence over the course of a single day.

“This year is a very crazy year,” sighed Jamie Lin, a board member of Wikimedia Taiwan.

“A lot of Taiwanese Wikipedians have been attacked.”

Edit wars

Wikipedia is a movement as much as a website.

Anyone can write or edit entries on Wikipedia, and in almost every country on Earth, communities of “Wikipedians” exist to protect and contribute to it. The largest collection of human knowledge ever amassed, available to everyone online for free, it is arguably the greatest achievement of the digital age. But in the eyes of Lin and her colleagues, it is now under attack.

The edit war over Taiwan was only one of a number that had broken out across Wikipedia’s vast, multi-lingual expanse of entries. The Hong Kong protests page had seen 65 changes in the space of a day – largely over questions of language. Were they protesters? Or rioters?

The English entry for the Senkaku islands said they were “islands in East Asia”, but earlier this year the Mandarin equivalent had been changed to add “China’s inherent territory”.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests were changed in Mandarin to describe them as “the June 4th incident” to “quell the counter-revolutionary riots”. On the English version, the Dalai Lama is a Tibetan refugee. In Mandarin, he is a Chinese exile.

Angry differences of opinion happen all the time on Wikipedia. But to Ms Lin, this was different.

“It’s control by the [Chinese] Government” she continued. “That’s very terrible.”

‘Socialist values’

BBC Click’s investigation has found almost 1,600 tendentious edits across 22 politically sensitive articles. We cannot verify who made each of these edits, why, or whether they reflect a more widespread practice. However, there are indications that they are not all necessarily organic, nor random.

Both an official and academics from within China have begun to call for both their government and citizens to systematically correct what they argue are serious anti-Chinese biases endemic across Wikipedia. One paper is called Opportunities And Challenges Of China’s Foreign Communication in the Wikipedia, and was published in the Journal of Social Sciences this year.

In it, the academics Li-hao Gan and Bin-Ting Weng argue that “due to the influence by foreign media, Wikipedia entries have a large number of prejudiced words against the Chinese government”.

They continue: “We must develop a targeted external communication strategy, which includes not only rebuilding a set of external communication discourse systems, but also cultivating influential editors on the wiki platform.”

They end with a call to action.

“China urgently needs to encourage and train Chinese netizens to become Wikipedia platform opinion leaders and administrators… [who] can adhere to socialist values and form some core editorial teams.”

Shifting perceptions

Another is written by Jie Ding, an official from the China International Publishing Group, an organisation controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. It argues that “there is a lack of systematic ordering and maintenance of contents about China’s major political discourse on Wikipedia”.

It too urges the importance to “reflect our voices and opinions in the entry, so as to objectively and truly reflect the influence of Chinese path and Chinese thoughts on other countries and history”.

“‘Telling China’s story’ is a concept that has gained huge traction over the past couple of years,” Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told BBC Click. “They think that a lot of the perceptions people have of China abroad are really misunderstandings.”

To Tsui, an important shift is now happening as China mobilises its system of domestic online control to now extend beyond its borders to confront the perceived misconceptions that exist there. Wikipedia has confronted the problem of vandalism since its beginning. You can see all the edits that are made, vandalism can be rolled back in a second, pages can be locked, and the site is patrolled by a combination of bots and editors.

People have tried to manipulate Wikipedia from the very beginning, and others have worked to stop them for just as long.

However, much of the activity that Lin described isn’t quite vandalism. Some – such as Taiwan’s sovereignty – is about asserting one disputed claim above others. Others, subtler still, are about the pruning of language, especially in Mandarin, to make a political point.

Should the Hong Kong protests be considered “against” China? Should you call a community “Taiwanese people of Han descent”, or “a subgroup of Han Chinese, native to Taiwan”?

It is over this kind of linguistic territory that many of the fiercest battles rage.

Coordinated strategy?

The attacks are often not to Wikipedia’s content, but rather its community of Wikipedians.

“Some have told us that their personal information has been sprayed [released], because they have different thoughts,” Lin said.

There have also been death threats directed at Taiwanese Wikipedians. One, on the related public Wikimedia Telegram Channel, read “the policemen will enjoy your mother’s forensic report”. And elections to administrator positions on Wikipedia, who hold greater powers, have similarly become starkly divided down geopolitical lines.

Attributing online activity to states is often impossible, and there is also no direct, proven link between any of these edits and the Chinese government.

“It’s absolutely conceivable,” Tsui continued, “that people from the diaspora, patriotic Chinese, are editing these Wikipedia entries. “But to say that is to ignore the larger structural coordinated strategy the government has to manipulate these platforms.”

Whilst unattributed, the edits do happen against the backdrop where a number of states, including China, have intensified attempts to systematically manipulate online platforms. They have done so on Twitter and Facebook, and researchers around the world have warned of state-backed online propaganda targeting a range of others.

Compared with almost any other online platform, Wikipedia makes for a tempting, even obvious, target.

“I’m absolutely not surprised,” said Heather Ford, a senior lecturer in digital cultures at the University of New South Wales, whose research has focused on the political editing of Wikipedia. I’m surprised it’s taken this long actually… It is a prioritised source of facts and knowledge about the world.”

Of course, every state cares about its reputation.

“China is the second largest economy in the world and is doing what any other country in this status would seek,” said Shirley Ze Yu, a visiting senior fellow at the LSE. “Today China does owe the world a China story told by itself and from a Chinese perspective. I think it’s not only Chinese privilege, it’s really a responsibility”.

Taiwan is itself locked in a messaging war with China, with its own geopolitical points to make and many of the misconceptions may be genuine ones, at least in the eyes of the people who edit them.

So does this amount to telling China’s story, or online propaganda?

At least on Wikipedia, the answer depends on where you fall on two very different ideas about what the internet is for. There is the philosophy of open knowledge, open source, volunteer-led communities.

But it may now be confronted by another force: the growing online power of states whose geopolitical struggles to define the truth now extend onto places like Wikipedia that have grown too large, too important, for them to ignore.

* The Chinese Embassy was approached for a comment but we did not receive a reply.

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BBC News – Technology

Casey Viner: Teenage US gamer jailed over deadly 911 hoax

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A US teenager has been jailed for 15 months for involvement in a prank call leading to an innocent man’s death.

Casey Viner, 19, from Ohio, conspired with fellow gamer Tyler Barriss to make a so-called “swatting” call to police.

In the 911 call, Barriss claimed he was holding his family hostage but when police visited the address provided, they shot father-of-two Andrew Finch.

The two men admitted to making the call after a row with another gamer, Shane Gaskill, while playing Call of Duty.

Bariss was sentenced earlier this year to 20 years behind bars.

In court, Viner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. After his sentence he will be banned from gaming for two years.

Viner said he was “awfully sorry”, that he never intended anything to happen and he thinks of it every day.

“We impose sentences not only for what people intend, but what happened,” said US District Judge Eric Melgren.

How did a prank call kill an innocent man?

A “swatting” call is a hoax phone call designed to make special weapons and tactics (Swat) police raid a target’s house.

On 28 December 2017, Barriss told police he had shot his father and was holding the rest of his family hostage.

He gave police what he thought was Mr Gaskill’s address in Kansas.

However, the address provided by Mr Gaskill was not his own but that of Mr Finch, 28.

Armed police went to the property and shot dead Mr Finch, who had no involvement in the video game dispute.

Police say the responding officer shot Mr Finch after he moved his hands towards his waist.

US Attorney Stephen McAllister described swatting as “reckless, dangerous and, as this case proves, potentially tragic”.

The police officer involved was not charged as there was not enough evidence to show they acted unreasonably considering the context.

“Swatting is not a prank, and it is no way to resolve disputes among gamers,” Mr McAllister added, calling on gamers to “self-police their community to ensure that the practice of swatting is ended once and for all”.

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BBC News – Technology

Boris Johnson hoping to win over Labour leavers in vote tomorrow

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Lawsuit over faulty background check allowed to proceed

Shooting victims’ families on forgiveness

A lawsuit over a faulty background check that allowed a South Carolina man to buy the gun he used to kill nine people at AME Emanuel Church in Charleston was reinstated Friday by a federal appeals court. The three-judge panel reversed a ruling from a lower court judge who threw out the claims brought by relatives of people killed by Dylann Roof in the 2015 massacre and by survivors.

The 4th Circuit panel found that an examiner who conducted the background check on Roof failed to follow a mandatory procedure when she did not contact the arresting agency.

The ruling means the lawsuit can move forward.

Trending News

The FBI acknowledged that Roof’s drug possession arrest in Columbia, South Carolina — weeks before the shooting — should have prevented him from buying a gun. Roof has been sentenced to death for the slayings.

A series of clerical errors and missteps allowed Roof to buy the handgun he later used in the massacre.

In his ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said a jail clerk wrongly listed the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office as the arresting agency in the drug case. The examiner then sent a fax to the sheriff’s office, which responded that it did not have the arrest report and directed her to Columbia police.

Gergel said that under the system’s operating procedures, the examiner was directed to a federal listing of law enforcement agencies, but Columbia police did not appear on the list. After trying the separate West Columbia Police Department and being told it was the wrong agency, the examiner did nothing more.

After a three-day waiting period, Roof went back to a West Columbia store to pick up the handgun.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on the ruling.

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U.S. – CBSNews.com

Yen rises as traders temper optimism over U.S.-China trade deal

© Reuters. Light is cast on a Japanese 10,000 yen note as it's reflected in a plastic board in Tokyo, in this picture illustration © Reuters. Light is cast on a Japanese 10,000 yen note as it’s reflected in a plastic board in Tokyo, in this picture illustration

By Hideyuki Sano and Stanley White

TOKYO (Reuters) – The yen rose on Tuesday as some investors tempered their optimism about the chances for a quick resolution to the U.S.-China trade war, which boosted so-called risk-off trades.

Global markets have been whipsawed by dramatic twists in the trade dispute this month. U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday flagged the possibility of a trade deal with China, days after both sides announced new tariffs.

The dollar came under additional pressure versus the yen as a decline in U.S. Treasury yields showed some investors still favored the safety of government debt.

The currency market also took some relief from a stronger-than-expected daily yuan fixing by the People’s Bank of China, which many traders considered an attempt to slow the yuan’s decline versus the dollar.

While Washington and Beijing have shown a willingness to return to the negotiating table to resolve their trade row, there are lingering concerns about a lack of a clear path toward resolving a dispute that has dragged on for more than a year and hurt global growth, corporate profits and investments.

“The dollar rallied overnight due to optimism about a trade deal, but there’s a sense that the market has gotten a little ahead of itself,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior foreign exchange strategist at IG Securities.

“Some traders can book a little profit here. There are still so many issues that can trigger a clash between the United States and China. Treasuries shows the market is still somewhat skeptical.”

The yen rose around 0.4% in Asian trading to 105.76 per dollar.

The yen, which tends to be bought in times of economic uncertainty, also rose around 0.6% versus the Australian and New Zealand dollars.

The () measuring the greenback against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 98.011.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields () fell to 1.5249% in Asia. The yield curve was inverted as 2-year yields traded at 1.5326%, which is commonly considered a sign of an impending economic recession.

On Monday the greenback rebounded from near eight- month lows of 104.46 yen after some signs of rapprochement between Washington and Beijing soothed investors’ nerves.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit of world leaders in France on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said Chinese officials had contacted U.S. trade counterparts overnight and offered to return to the negotiating table.

Trump’s comments sparked a wave of so-called risk-on trades, which initially boosted the dollar, weakened safe-haven currencies, and lifted stock markets.

However, some doubts have crept into markets as a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said he had not heard that a phone call between the two sides had taken place. The Commerce Ministry, which typically releases statements on trade calls, did not respond to a request for comment.

Prior to market opening, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lowered its official midpoint to 7.0810 per dollar. That was a fresh 11-1/2-year low, but still at a stronger setting than traders had expected.

In onshore trade the dollar rose 0.13% to 7.1615 yuan , strengthening less than 0.76% from Monday, as traders said the Chinese central bank kept the yuan from weakening faster.

Attempts to slow the greenback’s rise against the yuan also weighed the dollar down versus the yen, traders said.

“I was quite surprised by the big gains in the dollar/yen overnight. But it is unclear what the U.S. and China will do next, and I would expect the dollar to consolidate for the time being,” said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale (PA:).

The euro was quoted at $ 1.10985 (), little changed on the day.

Sterling traded at $ 1.2216 , after a 0.5% fall on Monday as investors reassessed whether British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had made any progress in convincing the European Union to renegotiate the Brexit agreement.

Johnson said on Monday he was prepared to take Brexit talks with the European Union down to the very last minute before the Oct. 31 exit deadline, and if necessary to take a decision to leave without a deal on that day.

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Forex News

Tropical Storm Dorian gathering strength over the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Dorian heading to Caribbean

Forecasters say the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season has strengthened as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles. The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Sunday that Tropical Storm Dorian could intensify to near hurricane strength over the eastern Caribbean Sea by Tuesday.

As of 5 p.m. EDT Sunday, Dorian’s center was located about 375 miles east-southeast of Barbados and was moving westward at 14 mph. Maximum sustained winds had increased to 50 mph.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch was issued for Grenada and its dependencies, as well as for Martinique.

Trending News

NHC said Dorian is expected to produce two to four inches of rainfall across the Lesser Antilles — with isolated amounts as much as six inches.

Forecasters say Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Virgin Islands should monitor Dorian’s progress. The National Weather Service Tampa Bay tweeted it’s “too early to speculate” if Dorian will impact Florida.

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World – CBSNews.com

China Yuan Fixing Shows Preference for Stability Over Weakness

© Reuters.  China Yuan Fixing Shows Preference for Stability Over Weakness © Reuters. China Yuan Fixing Shows Preference for Stability Over Weakness

(Bloomberg) — The Chinese authorities sent a clear signal via the daily currency fixing that it wants to maintain stability in the yuan as the U.S. amps up pressure on the nation’s imports.

The People’s Bank of China set the reference rate for onshore trading stronger than 6.9 per dollar on Friday, even after the offshore currency tumbled to as low as 6.9786 in the wake of President Donald Trump’s announcement about new tariffs. That helped widen the gap between the onshore spot rate and the fixing to the most since June 10.

The PBOC hasn’t set the fixing weaker than 6.9 since December, suggesting officials are reluctant to use yuan weakness as a weapon in the trade war, especially in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

The yuan was down 0.55% at 6.9359 a dollar as of 11:29 a.m. in Shanghai, taking the drop this week to 0.8%.

A gauge of expected swings in the yuan over the next month slid to the lowest level in nearly two years on Wednesday.

A gauge of expected swings in the yuan over the next month slid to the lowest level in nearly two years on Wednesday.

A gauge of expected swings in the yuan over the next month slid to the lowest level in nearly two years on Wednesday.

A gauge of expected swings in the yuan over the next month slid to the lowest level in nearly two years on Wednesday.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Capital One: hacker gained access to personal information of over 100 million Americans

© Reuters. The logo and ticker for Capital One are displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York © Reuters. The logo and ticker for Capital One are displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

(Reuters) – Capital One Financial Corp (N:) said on Monday the personal information including names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth of about 100 million individuals in the United States were obtained by a hacker who has now been arrested.

The incident also affected about 6 million people in Canada.

Capital said it identified the hack on July 19 and the individual responsible has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The hacker did not gain access to any credit card account numbers and over 99% of social security numbers were not compromised, Capital One said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Stock Market News

U.S. warship destroys Iranian drone over Strait of Hormuz

Warship takes down Iranian drone

The U.S. destroyed an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, President Trump announced in the East Room of the White House. The president claimed the action was a defensive one after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the U.S.S. Boxer. 

Mr. Trump has threatened overwhelming force if Iran touches any American assets. The action also comes after Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces seized a foreign oil tanker

“Before I begin, I want to apprise everyone of an incident in the strait of Hormuz today involving U.S.S. Boxer, a Navy amphibious assault ship,” Mr. Trump announced on Thursday during a flag ceremony with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. 

Trending News

“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a very, very near distance – approximately 1,000 yards – ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew. The drone was immediately destroyed,” he added. “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters.”

Mr. Trump then called on other nations to “protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future.” 

Are rising tensions with Iran a sign of war?

U.S. Central Command also confirmed the incident, saying the drone ignored repeated warnings. The Pentagon says the incident took place at roughly 10 a.m. local time. 

Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told CBS News he met with national security adviser John Bolton, who updated him on the drone incident Thursday. The U.S., Smith explained, felt that the drone had violated the airspace and was deemed a threat to U.S. forces in the region. 

It’s unclear what comes next, as tensions between the U.S. and Iran remain high. Iran shot down a U.S. drone last month in the Persian Gulf region, and Mr. Trump was poised to strike back. But at the last minute, he opted for cyberattacks instead.

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World – CBSNews.com