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Obama sets battle lines for Supreme Court nominee

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BARACK OBAMA

Vowing to name an “indisputably” qualified nominee to replace a conservative Supreme Court judge who died suddenly last Saturday, President Barack Obama has asserted there was no bar on making appointments in an election year.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” he said at a news conference in California Tuesday, lashing out at Republicans who have threatened to block his choice for a replacement of Justice Antonin Scalia.The so-called strict interpretation of the Constitution by which Republicans, including presidential contenders, want the choice of the ninth judge to be left to the next president is nowhere to be found, he said.

“I am amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there,” he said.”I am going to present somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair-minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics, would say would serve with honour and integrity on the court.”He added: “Your job doesn’t stop until you are voted out or until your term expires.

“Asked if he was going to choose a “moderate nominee” as speculated to win his confirmation, Obama replied with a flat “No” to laughter.”I don’t know where you found that,” he said. You shouldn’t assume anything about the qualifications of the nominee other than they’re going to be well-qualified.”Amid the escalating Supreme Court nomination battle, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, appeared to break ranks with the party.

“I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions” on hearings, he said. Still, Republicans have kept Obama from filling all but one of the vacancies on the 12 regional federal courts of appeal.Later in the day Grassley said he’s “concerned about balance” on the court which with the death of Scalia is evenly split among four liberal and four conservative judges.

Analysts suggested that president could decide to find the candidate he believes has the most stellar legal qualifications and thus increase political pressure on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a vote.But given that his pick is unlikely to even have confirmation hearings, Obama could chose to nominate a “sacrificial lamb” who would delight the Democratic Party’s liberal base voters and motivate a high turnout in November’s election, CNN said.

Among likely Obama picks, media outlets have mentioned two Indian-Americans –Srikanth Srinivasan and Kamala Harris.Chandigarh-born Srikanth was confirmed in 2013 by a 97-0 Senate vote as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Harris, daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, is currently California’s attorney general and also running for the Senate this year.However, Harris, 51, on Tuesday during a campaign event in San Jose said that while she is flattered to have her name mentioned, she has no interest focused as she is on her current job and her campaign.If nominated, either would be the first Indian-American in line for the Supreme Court.

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Tech

Did ”Anonymous” hacker group attack Minneapolis police website?

On its unconfirmed Facebook page on Thursday, hacker group Anonymous said it was targeting the department.

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Website-hack

San Francisco, June 1 : After hacker group Anonymous issued a threat of retribution for the death of George Floyd allegedly due to police brutality, the website of Minneapolis Police Department showed signs that it faced a cyber attack.

The website currently requires visitors to submit “captchas” to verify they are humans, not bots, the New York Post reported on Monday.

On its unconfirmed Facebook page on Thursday, hacker group Anonymous said it was targeting the department.

The politically-charged hacker group targeted the police department for its “horrific track record of violence and corruption” in an almost four-minute video.

“This travesty has gone on for far too long, and now the people have had enough,” a figure said in a mechanical voice.

“People have had enough of this corruption and violence from an organization that promises to keep them safe,” it added.

“Unfortunately, we do not trust your corrupt organization to carry out justice, so we will be exposing your many crimes to the world,” said the masked figure.

Some 5,000 US National Guard troops were deployed in major states amid the ongoing protests against the death of Floyd in police custody on May 25 in the city of Minneapolis, while also demanding an end to racism and police violence.

–IANS

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Disaster

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus rises by 75 to 33,415

The rest 35,253 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

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Italy Coronavirus

Rome, June 1 : Seventy-five more COVID-19 patients had died in the past 24 hours in Italy, bringing the country”s toll to 33,415, out of total infection cases of 233,019, according to fresh figures.

Nationwide, the number of active infections dropped by 1,616 to 42,075, said the Civil Protection Department on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of those who tested positive for the new coronavirus, 435 are in intensive care, 15 fewer compared to Saturday, and 6,387 are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 293 patients from the previous day.

The rest 35,253 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

Recoveries rose by 1,874 compared to Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to 157,507.

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Lifestyle

Facebook employees speak up against no action on Trump post

In a series of tweets, Gillis argued that policy “needs to evolve” and take more context into account.

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George-Floyd

San Francisco, June 1 : Several Facebook employees have come out in the open to protest the social media giant”s stand on not taking action on a controversial post from US President Donald Trump about Minnesota protests.

“I believe Trump”s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” tweet (cross-posted to FB), encourages extra-judicial violence and stokes racism. Respect to @Twitter”s integrity team for making the enforcement call,” David Gillis, Director, Product Design at Facebook, said in a tweet on Sunday.

While Twtitter last week put out a “public interest notice” on the tweet for violating the platform”s policies about glorifying violence, Facebook refused to take action when the tweet was cross-posted to its platform.

Defending the decision to not take action on the controversial posts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said that its “policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force”.

“We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today”s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be,” he said.

“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” Zuckerberg added.

In a series of tweets, Gillis argued that policy “needs to evolve” and take more context into account.

“While I understand why we chose to stay squarely within the four corners of our violence and incitement policy, I think it would have been right for us to make a ”spirit of the policy” exception that took more context into account,” he said.

“At any rate, when we have to vigorously debate whether to make an exception to the way we interpret and enforce a given policy (as happened on Friday), this often indicates that said policy needs to evolve. I think that is the case here,” he said.

Another Facebook employee tweeted that he was not proud of how Facebook reacted.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we”re showing up. The majority of coworkers I”ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard,” said Jason Toff, Director of Product Management at Facebook.

–IANS

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