Off the Wires

FDIC Accused Of Covering Up China Hacking To Protect Chairman’s Job

July 14th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters/HuufPo

“The FDIC’s intent to evade congressional oversight is a serious offense.”

The Chinese government likely hacked computers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and employees at the U.S. banking regulator covered up the intrusions, according to a congressional report on Wednesday.

The report cited an internal FDIC investigation as identifying Beijing as the likely perpetrator of the attacks, which the probe said were covered up to protect the job of FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg, who was nominated for his post in 2011.

“The committee’s interim report sheds light on the FDIC’s lax cyber security efforts,” said Lamar Smith, a Republican representative from Texas who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

“The FDIC’s intent to evade congressional oversight is a serious offense.”

The report was released amid growing concern about the vulnerability of the international banking system to hackers and the latest example of how deeply Washington believes Beijing has penetrated U.S. government computers.

The report did not provide specific evidence that China was behind the hack.

Shane Shook, a cyber security expert who has helped investigate some of the breaches uncovered to date, said he did not see convincing evidence in the report that the Chinese government was behind the FDIC hack.

“As with all government agencies, there are management issues stemming from leadership ignorance of technology oversight,” Shook said.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang repeated that China opposed hacking and acted against it.

People should provide evidence for their accusations and not wave around speculative words like “maybe” and “perhaps”, he told reporters.

“This is extremely irresponsible.”

The FDIC, a major U.S. banking regulator which keeps confidential data on America’s biggest banks, declined to comment. Gruenberg is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the committee on the regulator’s cyber security practices.

Washington has accused China of hacking computers at a range of federal agencies in recent years, including the theft of more than 21 million background check records from the federal Office of Personnel Management beginning in 2014.

U.S. senator probes Pokemon GO maker over data privacy concerns

July 13th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

A Democratic U.S. senator on Tuesday asked the software developer behind Nintendo Co Ltd's Pokemon GO to clarify the mobile game's data privacy protections, amid concerns the augmented reality hit was unnecessarily collecting vast swaths of sensitive user data.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota sent a letter to Niantic Chief Executive John Hanke asking what user data Pokemon GO collects, how the data is used and with what third party service providers that data may be shared.

The game, which marries Pokemon, the classic 20-year-old cartoon franchise, with augmented reality, allows players to walk around real-life neighborhoods while seeking virtual Pokemon game characters on their smartphone screens - a scavenger hunt that has earned enthusiastic early reviews.

Franken also asked Niantic to describe how it ensures parents give "meaningful consent" to a child's use of the game and subsequent collection of his or her personal information.

"I am concerned about the extent to which Niantic may be unnecessarily collecting, using, and sharing a wide range of users’ personal information without their appropriate consent," Franken wrote.

"As the augmented reality market evolves, I ask that you provide greater clarity on how Niantic is addressing issues of user privacy and security, particularly that of its younger players," he added.

Franken additionally asked Niantic to provide an update on a vulnerability detected on Monday by security researchers who found Pokemon GO players signing into the game via a Google account on an Apple iOS device unwittingly gave "full access permission" to the person's Google account.

Pokemon GO on Tuesday released an updated version on iOS to reduce the number of data permissions it sought from Google account users.

Niantic did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Franken's inquiry.

The company, spun off by Google last year, created the game in tandem with Pokemon Co, a third of which is owned by Nintendo.

Pokemon GO has been a smash hit for Nintendo. The Japanese company's first venture in mobile gaming brought market-value gains of $7.5 billion in just two days after the game's release last week.

Franken asked for a response by Aug. 12.

Tribunal overwhelmingly rejects Beijing's South China Sea claims

July 12th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

An arbitration court ruled on Tuesday that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and has breached the Philippines' sovereign rights with its actions, infuriating Beijing which dismissed the case as a farce.

A defiant China, which boycotted the hearings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, vowed again to ignore the ruling and said its armed forces would defend its sovereignty and maritime interests.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency said shortly before the ruling was announced that a Chinese civilian aircraft had successfully tested two new airports in the disputed Spratly Islands.

And China's Defence Ministry said a new guided missile destroyer was formally commissioned at a naval base on the southern island province of Hainan, which has responsibility for the South China Sea.

"This award represents a devastating legal blow to China's jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea," Ian Storey, of Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, told Reuters.

"China will respond with fury, certainly in terms of rhetoric and possibly through more aggressive actions at sea."

The United States, which China has accused of fuelling tensions and militarizing the region with patrols and exercises, urged parties to comply with the legally binding ruling and avoid provocations.

"The decision today by the Tribunal in the Philippines-China arbitration is an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

U.S. officials have previously said they feared China may respond to the ruling by declaring an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, as it did in the East China Sea in 2013, or by stepping up its building and fortification of artificial islands.

China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Finding for the Philippines on a number of issues, the panel said there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within its so-called nine-dash line, which covers almost 90 percent of the South China Sea.

It said China had interfered with traditional Philippine fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights by exploring for oil and gas near the Reed Bank.

None of China's reefs and holdings in the Spratly Islands entitled it to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone, it added.

U.S. economy posts largest job gains in eight months in June

July 8th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

U.S. job growth surged in June as factories and retailers boosted hiring, confirming the economy has regained speed after a first-quarter lull, but tepid wage growth could see the Federal Reserve still cautious about hiking interest rates.

Non-farm payrolls increased by 287,000 jobs last month, the largest gain since last October, the Labor Department said on Friday. May payrolls were revised down to show them rising 11,000 rather than the previously reported 38,000.

"It's a great number. This affirms the economy is still on decent footing but it doesn't change the Fed's path," said Darrell Cronk, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment in New York.

Last month's tally beat economists' expectations for an increase of only 175,000 jobs. While the unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.9 percent, that was because more people entered the labor force, a sign of confidence in the jobs market.

Wage growth remains sluggish even as the labor market tightens. Average hourly earnings increased only two cents or 0.1 percent in June. The year-on-year gain in earnings rose to 2.6 percent after advancing 2.5 percent in May.

The strong rebound in June payrolls added to data on consumer spending and housing in suggesting that economic growth accelerated from the first-quarter's anemic 1.1 percent annualized rate. The Atlanta Fed is currently forecasting the economy growing at a 2.4 percent pace in the second quarter.

But the signs of strength in the economy precede Britain's stunning vote last month to leave the European Union.

Obama, in shift, says he will keep 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2017

July 6th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

President Barack Obama, saying the Afghan security situation remained precarious, announced on Wednesday that he would keep U.S. troop levels in the country at 8,400 through the end of his administration rather than reducing them to 5,500 by year's end.

Obama, in a statement to the press at the White House, said the role of U.S. forces in Afghanistan would remain unchanged, training and advising Afghan police and troops, and supporting counterterrorism missions against the Taliban and other groups.

Trump narrows gap on Clinton in new poll

June 29th, 2016  |  Source: AFP

The US presidential battle is too close to call, but one element is clear: Americans have soured on candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a poll released Wednesday showed.

Respondents to the latest Quinnipiac University national poll put Clinton ahead of Trump just 42 percent to 40 percent, a narrowing from Clinton's four-point margin in the organization's June 1 survey.

It is also considerably closer than the 12-point Clinton advantage in an ABC News/Washington Post poll published Sunday which highlighted Clinton capitalizing on Trump's recent mis-steps.

The Quinnipiac survey of 1,610 registered voters notably showed that 61 percent believe the 2016 election "has increased the level of hatred and prejudice in the US."

Of that group, two thirds blame the Trump campaign, with just 16 percent blaming Clinton's team.

Overall the survey shows less-than-flattering views of both candidates in the months before the November 8 election to determine who succeeds President Barack Obama in the White House.

"Voters find themselves in the middle of a mean-spirited, scorched earth campaign between two candidates they don't like. And they don't think either candidate would be a good president," Quinnipiac poll assistant director Tim Malloy said in a statement.

Trump has made several incendiary statements during the campaign, including a call for banning Muslims from entering the United States, and describing Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

It has been a tumultuous week for Trump, a political novice who recently fired his campaign manager and faced criticism for having a paltry $1.3 million war chest at the end of May.

Following the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the brash businessman earned rebukes for tweeting out self-congratulations over "being right on radical Islamic terrorism."

Respondents said by 58 percent to 33 percent that former secretary of state Clinton is better prepared to be president than Trump.

But they said Trump would be better at creating jobs (52-40 percent) and at handling Islamic State extremists (52-39).

The poll has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

Cracks show inside Islamic State's shrinking caliphate

June 28th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

It was barely more than a squiggle, but the mark of a single letter sprayed overnight on a wall in the heart of Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate was a daring act of dissent.

The next day, ultra-hardline Islamic State fighters came and scrubbed out the "M" -- the first letter of the word for "resistance" in Arabic -- which appeared in an alley near the Grand Mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul about three weeks ago.

A video of the single letter, scrawled about a meter long on the wall, was shared with Reuters by an activist from a group called "Resistance", whose members risk certain execution to conduct small acts of defiance in areas under Islamic State rule.

Nearly two years since Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a sermon from that same mosque summoning Muslims worldwide to the "caliphate", it is fraying at the edges.

As an array of forces make inroads into their territory spanning Iraq and Syria, the jihadis are becoming even harsher to maintain control of a population that is increasingly hostile to them, according to Iraqi officials and people who managed to escape.

"They are harsh, but they are not strong," said Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, who is in command of the operation to recapture Mosul and the surrounding areas. "Their hosts reject them."

Many local Sunnis initially welcomed the Sunni Muslim militants as saviors from a Shi'ite-led government they perceived as oppressive, while thousands of foreigners answered Baghdadi's call to come and wage holy war.

For a time, the militants claimed one victory after another, thanks as much to the weakness and division of the forces arrayed against them as their own strength. They funded themselves through sales of oil from fields they overran, and plundered weapons and ammunition from those they vanquished.

But two years since the declaration of the caliphate, the tide has begun to turn in favor of its many enemies: Iraqi and Syrian government troops, Kurdish forces in both countries, rival Syrian Sunni rebels, Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias, and a U.S.-led coalition which has bombed the militants while conducting special operations to take out their commanders.

Of the 43 founders of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, 39 have been killed, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a Baghdad-based expert who advises the Iraqi government.

The self-proclaimed caliph, Baghdadi, is moving in a semi-desert plain that covers several thousand square kilometers west of the Tigris river and south of Mosul, avoiding Syria after two of his close aides were killed there this year: "war minister" Abu Omar al-Shishani and top civilian administrator and second-in-command Abd al-Rahman al-Qaduli, Hashimi said.

The most senior commanders after Baghdadi are now Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the group's spokesman who took over military supervision after Shishani's death, and Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, who oversees foreign fighters and succeeded Qaduli as civilian administrator, he said.

Kurdish and Iraqi military commanders say the group is deploying fighters who are less experienced and less ideologically committed to defend what remains of its quasi-state, which is under attack on multiple fronts.

Iraqi forces recently entered the Islamic State bastion of Falluja just west of Baghdad, and are pushing north towards Mosul, by far the biggest city Islamic State controls with a pre-war population of 2 million.

In neighboring Syria, U.S.-backed forces are closing in on the militant stronghold of Manbij, and President Bashar al-Assad's Russian-backed army has advanced into the province surrounding the de facto Islamic State capital Raqqa.

On a front south of Mosul, a group of women displaced by the offensive said Islamic State fighters' grip had begun to loosen as Iraqi forces advanced, to the point that they no longer punished people for not wearing the full face veil.

The number of foreign fighters has fallen significantly, and renewed efforts by the group to recruit locals have proven largely unsuccessful, except amongst the young and destitute, according to people who recently fled, including three repentant Islamic State members.

"When you are a young man and you don't own 250 dinars and someone comes and offers you 20,000, 15,000 or 30,000, you will do anything," said a former Islamic State militant from Iraq's northern Hawija district who recently gave himself up to Kurdish forces.

Members of Islamic State's vice squad, the Hisba, are increasingly being sent to the frontlines as designated fighters are killed off, according to people who escaped as well as Iraqi and Kurdish military and intelligence officials.

That means there are fewer militants to enforce the group's draconian rules and dress code. But a 28 year-old teacher who recently fled Mosul said people were so afraid of the militants they did not disobey them even when they were not around.

"If they say black is white, you agree," said the teacher, who asked not to be identified because he still has family inside the city and feared they could be targeted.

School courses were redesigned by the militants to reflect their war-like ideology. He gave an example of a math problem given to his pupils: "The Mudjahid is carrying seven magazines for his rifle, each with 30 bullets; how many rounds can he fire at the unbelievers?"

He said Arabic lessons were also redesigned, with pupils asked to fill in blanks in slogan-like sentences such as "The Islamic State is xxxx and xxxx". The answer is "staying and expanding".


The Sunni population in which the militants have embedded themselves is becoming more of a liability to them but also remains one of their greatest assets.

As living conditions deteriorate and the militants crack down, the local population is increasingly hostile to the group, which has repeatedly used civilians as human shields to slow the advance of Iraqi forces in frontline cities like Falluja.

Those caught trying to escape Islamic State territory are liable to be executed on the spot -- even women and children.

Despite outnumbering the militants, the population remains weaker than them. Residents were disarmed and the security forces purged in the early days after the fighters captured Mosul. But residents are increasingly cooperating with the security forces outside the city by informing on the militants.

Nineveh provincial council member Abdul Rahman al-Wakaa said the group had begun moving local leaders around so people could not identify them as easily and pass their location on to coalition and Iraqi forces.

The jihadis have also cracked down on communications with the outside world, executing people for using mobile phones and confiscating satellite dishes to prevent people from seeing the progress made by Iraqi forces.

Iraqi military leaders are hoping there will be an uprising against the insurgents as the army draws nearer to Mosul. A top Iraqi general told Reuters troops were in contact with people inside Mosul to synchronize such action with an external military assault.

The plan is to engage the militants on several fronts around Mosul simultaneously, to draw them out of the city, giving the local population a chance to revolt.

Acute hardship and hunger since Baghdad cut salaries to state workers living in areas under Islamic State control around a year ago has forced more locals to work for the group.

Islamic State, for its part, plays on the population's fears of retribution from Iraqi forces and pro-government Shi'ite militias. Despite a string of defeats, military officials say there have been few defections from the group.

Three young men who joined Islamic State and recently surrendered to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq said the militants hunted down those who tried to abandon them.

Ahmed Ibrahim Abdullah said he had been arrested and tortured by the militants when he left. He sold a cow to pay for his bail so he could escape.

Twenty-six year old Ahmed Khalaf said he had surrendered to the Kurds in the hope he would be treated with more leniency than if captured by government forces, but that others were too afraid to the same: "There are people who have a certain idea that their fate is tied to the fate of Daesh."

Follow Merkel on Brexit – and keep cool

June 27th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

Angela Merkel has set the right tone on Brexit.

The German chancellor is keeping her cool, while other EU leaders including her own foreign minister are pressing Britain for a quickie divorce.

David Cameron, who resigned after the electorate voted to leave the EU on June 23, said he would not institute formal divorce proceedings. He would leave that to his successor as prime minister.

A new leader probably won’t be chosen until October. Given that Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit former Mayor of London who is favourite to take over, hasn’t yet articulated an exit plan, the EU may need to wait a few months after that before Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked, triggering the start of divorce talks.

“Quite honestly, it should not take ages, that is true, but I would not fight now for a short time frame,” Merkel told a news conference on June 25.

By contrast, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, after a meeting with colleagues from five other EU states: “This process should get under way as soon as possible so that we are not left in limbo but rather can concentrate on the future of Europe.”

It’s understandable that EU politicians are angry with Britain. They feel they have bent over backwards to keep it in the club, only to be rejected.

It’s understandable too that they are afraid that Brexit could lead to a domino effect with other countries such as France, the Netherlands or Italy – where eurosceptic populism is rife – wanting to quit the EU too. They also fear that the uncertainty caused by the British voters’ decision could knock their fragile economies.

Although the rest of the EU almost certainly couldn’t force the UK to trigger Article 50, they might be able to make life difficult in other ways. But there is there is no need to do so as the immediate economic fallout looks manageable.

The main risk is that financial markets will fret that the euro zone will come apart and push up the borrowing costs of the weaker members. But the European Central Bank could handle that by launching a new bond-buying programme.

The most important task is to sever the unhealthy link between banks and sovereigns, as I have argued for many years. A recent development of this idea by Morgan Stanley’s Reza Moghadam is that the ECB could buy bonds directly from those banks that have excess exposure to the debt of particular countries. This would also give a boost to the most vulnerable large euro countries, Italy and Spain, as their banks are particularly exposed to their governments.

There’s also an upside in playing it cool: the UK could change its mind.

This, admittedly, doesn’t look likely at present. But, as the weeks and months progress, a backlash could build to the referendum outcome. A petition has already been launched calling for the result to be annulled. By the evening of June 26, it had gathered 3.5 million signatures.

There is, admittedly, nothing binding about this petition. On the other hand, the UK economy does seem likely to be worse hit by the uncertainty unleashed by the referendum than the rest of the EU. The pound has already fallen sharply. Prices will rise and so may unemployment.

When the next prime minister spells out his or her exit plan, voter dissatisfaction may grow. It will then become clear that many of the promises made by Johnson and other Brexiteers – notably that it would be possible to get easy access to the EU’s single market while at the same time ending the right of EU citizens to come to Britain – are inconsistent.

None of this is certain. But, if the UK does change its mind – which would need to be validated by the people in a democratic process, such as a general election or a new referendum – the benefits to the rest of the EU are big. For a start, it would avoid the economic dislocation caused by an actual Brexit. This could be serious given that Britain is the EU’s second largest economy.

Even more important, a British U-turn would spike the guns of populists in other countries. Merkel, France’s Francois Hollande, Italy’s Matteo Renzi et al could turn round to their voters and say: “The British looked over the abyss, didn’t like what they saw and pulled back.”

Those who think this is fanciful should remember other countries have changed their minds following referendums on EU matters. The Irish, for example, voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 only to reverse their decision after some concessions the following year. A similar scenario played out in Athens just a year ago. The Greek people voted in a referendum to reject a bailout plan offered by the euro zone. But, within days, Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, was begging his euro partners for a new deal.

Now the UK economy is much stronger than the Greek one. And Britain is not subject to the strictures of the euro zone. So the analogy is not exact. But there is enough of a parallel to give EU leaders pause for thought when they convene in their various configurations over the next few days. If they play it long and cool, they may yet bring this recalcitrant member back into the club.

Trump says Brexit a model for his campaign

June 24th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump thrust himself into the heart of Britain's vote to leave the European Union on Friday, calling it a "great thing" and drawing parallels to his own insurgent campaign.

In Scotland to reopen a golf resort he owns, the wealthy New York businessman wasted no time interpreting the outcome of the "Brexit" vote as an example of a global uprising against the established order, an argument he said fits in with his own campaign to shake up Washington by renegotiating free trade deals and stopping illegal immigration.

"People want to take their country back. They want to have independence in a sense. You see it with Europe, all over Europe," said Trump, 70, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

He said the economic shock from the vote would ebb over time and that more European countries might want to break with the 28-nation European Union. He said Americans would have a chance "to re-declare their independence" and "reject today’s rule by the global elite" when they vote on Nov. 8.

“So I think you're going to have this happen more and more. I really believe that, and I think that it’s happening in the United States. It's happening by the fact that I've done so well in the polls," he said.

Trump's rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, said in a statement: "This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans' pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests.

"It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down," said Clinton, 68, a former U.S. secretary of state, who had openly favored Britain's remaining in the EU.

More than half a million Britons signed a petition earlier this year to bar Trump from entering Britain, where he has business interests, in response to his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.

British lawmakers decided against a ban as a violation of free speech.


Trump assailed as inappropriate Democratic President Barack Obama's open appeals to Britain not to split off. Shaking off a tradition of not commenting on U.S. politics from foreign soil, Trump said Obama had been embarrassed.

"It's something he shouldn't have done. It's not his country. It's not his part of the world. He shouldn't have done it. And I actually think that his recommendation perhaps caused it to fail," Trump said.

Trump arrived in his signature helicopter at Turnberry near his clubhouse resort, a Scottish flag blowing in the wind.

Joined by sons Don Jr. and Eric and daughter Ivanka, the candidate praised his mother who was born in Scotland, his children who manage his business affairs and the golf course itself, dismissing complaints from Republicans that he should have stuck to the campaign trail at home.

Brexit: from an American perspective, there is only one good outcome

June 22nd, 2016  |  Source: The Guardian

While UK voters have good reasons to either stay in or leave the European Union this Thursday, a British exit would only hurt the US

While there are good reasons for British voters to either support or oppose theproposed withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, there is little argument at all from an American perspective that Brexit would hurt the US.

The strongest argument for the UK leaving the EU is that European bureaucrats have usurped many of the powers that should be vested in democratically elected officials in Westminster. Laws in Brussels are not made by people who can be readily held accountable to voters. Instead, a maze of one-size-fits-all bureaucracy has slowly and steadily eroded the role of national parliaments and other political institutions.

This is a convincing argument for British voters. However, it needn’t matter at all to Americans. What may matter to Americans, however, is the economic and national security impact of the UK deciding to leave the bloc.

There is consensus among economists that Britain leaving the EU would lead to a major economic shock, which would have worldwide impacts. In recent days, global markets have followed polls in the UK. The less likely it is that Britain leaves the better markets have done, and vice versa. Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, warned on Tuesday that Brexit could have “significant economic repercussions” in the US.

Furthermore, from a national security perspective, Brexit would deprive the US of a crucial window and important pro-American voice in pan-European meetings.

It also would risk Scottish independence, which would probably require the relocation of Britain’s nuclear submarines and weaken the UK’s military at a time when Europe faces a growing threat from Russian expansionism.

There is also an argument that the pro-Brexit campaign in the UK has set a disturbing trend for western democracies. Those campaigning for Britain to leave the EU have not focused on the gaping democratic deficit in European institutions. Instead, much of the campaign has focused on inflated anti-immigration rhetoric and demagoguery. One pro-Brexit poster unveiled by UK Independence party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage featured a picture of a number of Middle Eastern refugees with the slogan “Breaking point: the EU has failed us all.” A win by pro-Brexit forces would be yet another signal of the potency of this variety of demagoguery in western politics and probably further influence the tone of what is already a historically divisive and bitter US presidential election.

British voters will make their decision on Thursday about whether the UK is better off within or without the European Union. And while the subject can be the topic of fair and reasonable debate in the UK, there is only one good outcome from the American perspective.

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