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The UN’s George Floyd Resolution is a Vital Step Toward International Accountability

More than one year after the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, it is clear that international accountability is critical to complement and bolster domestic efforts to dismantle systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States.

Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet released a highly anticipated and historic report detailing the “compounding inequalities” and “stark socioeconomic and political marginalization” that Black people and people of African descent in many countries, including in the U.S., continue to face. The report found that “no State has comprehensively accounted for the past or for the current impact of systemic racism” and called for a “transformative agenda” to uproot systemic racism and address law enforcement violence against Black people and people of African descent.

The report, which references the U.S. more than any other country, calls for “reimagining policing and reforming criminal justice systems that do not keep racial and ethnic minorities safe and which have consistently produced discriminatory outcomes for Africans and people of African descent” and urges states to address racial profiling in law enforcement, the militarization of law enforcement, and the lack of accountability and transparency regarding police violence.

Building on the momentum of the report, Bachelet formally presented her report and agenda for transformative change to the U.N. Human Rights Council last week. There is, she said, “an urgent need to confront the legacies of enslavement, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, and successive racially discriminatory policies and systems, and to seek reparatory justice.”

Advocates immediately recognized the groundbreaking nature of this report and the impact it could have — if the U.S. actively responds. In a video statement on behalf of the ACLU, Collette Flannigan, executive director of Mothers Against Police Brutality, commended the U.N. High Commissioner for “listening to the voices of families of victims of police violence and centering the lived painful experiences of people of African descent more broadly” and called on the Biden administration, Congress, and state and local governments to heed the report’s recommendations.

U.N. member states, led by the Africa Group, also saw the need to capitalize on this moment. In a landmark resolution adopted by consensus the Human Rights Council, the U.N. will create an independent expert mechanism to focus on examining and combating systemic racism worldwide, especially in the context of law enforcement.

Up to the last minute, former colonial powers such as the United Kingdom pushed for a weaker resolution, but an unprecedented international coalition of civil society organizations and NGOs — many of which are led by Black women — successfully urged the council to maintain the core elements of the resolution. The pillars of the resolution call for enhanced global accountability for human rights violations by law enforcement against Black people in the U.S. and globally, and an investigation into the impacts of slavery and colonialism on contemporary forms of systemic racism. This is monumental step toward international accountability for systemic racism in law enforcement.

Following the adoption of the resolution, Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement pledging the Biden administration’s cooperation with the new expert mechanism, as the ACLU and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have been demanding.

For years, the ACLU and civil society organizations have urged administrations to extend similar invitations to thematic human rights experts. In 2019, the ACLU, the National Council of Churches, and a diverse civil society coalition called on the Trump administration to extend an invitation to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. The ACLU also led a coalition effort which called on the Obama administration to invite the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture to visit U.S. detention facilities and prisons, including Guantanamo Bay.

The Biden administration’s invitation to U.N. independent experts signifies a new chapter of U.S. engagement with its international human rights bodies, particularly on racial justice and equality. We are encouraged by the administration’s promise to cooperate with the new international probe on systemic racism, but the U.S. government must take further action to confront the impacts of slavery and Jim Crow on systemic racism in the U.S.

Specifically, we’re calling on President Biden and Secretary Blinken to firmly and publicly support:

  • The passage of domestic legislation that is strongly aligned with the U.N.’s report, including H.R. 40, to study reparations for slavery;
  • The establishment of a National Human Rights Institution and the appointment of a senior Human Rights Coordinator with a mandate to implement a national plan of action to fulfill international human rights obligations, especially on racial justice; and
  • Transformative and meaningful changes to our public safety and criminal legal systems, including initiatives to divest from police departments and reinvest in the communities most harmed by police violence and over-policing.

The significant actions taken this week by the highest international human rights body signals a turning point in the struggle against racism and racial discrimination worldwide, and the scourge of systemic racism against Black people, particularly in the context of policing. The implementation of the historic U.N. resolution, which is informally but aptly called the “George Floyd Resolution,” coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Durban Conference Against Racism, which must continue to guide the global fight against racism. The resolution’s implementation should be followed by the creation of a U.N. Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and work specifically to remedy past and current racial injustices through acknowledgment, recognition, reparations, and guarantees for non-repetition of the crimes against humanity of slavery and the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans. The onus is now on the Biden administration to lead by example in the work to dismantle systemic racism.

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This post originally posted here The European Times News

Biden says child tax credit a ‘giant step’ to counter poverty

The Child Tax Credit is being likened to a universal basic income for children that helps people meet monthly expenses.

Some 35 million American families have started receiving their first monthly payout from the US government in an expanded income-support programme that President Joe Biden said on Thursday could help end child poverty.

Under the Child Tax Credit programme that was broadened under Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus, eligible families collect an initial monthly payment of up to $ 300 for each child under six years old and up to $ 250 for each older child.

Payouts made to families, covering nearly 60 million eligible children, totalled about $ 15bn for July. The payments are automatic for many US taxpayers, while others need to sign up.

Biden wants to extend expanded, monthly benefits for years to come as part of a $ 3.5 trillion spending plan being considered by Senate Democrats, who expect strong Republican opposition to the full bill.

The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates the expansion can reduce the US child poverty rate by up to 45 percent [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

“It’s our effort to make another giant step towards ending child poverty in America,” Biden said in a speech. “This can be life-changing for so many families.”

The Child Tax Credit is being likened to a universal basic income for children, although it has income limits. It is expected to help people meet monthly expenses from rent to food and daycare.

The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimated the expansion can reduce the US child poverty rate by up to 45 percent.

Critics have said the expanded credit is expensive and may discourage people from working. Some experts said it may not reach some of the poorest Americans who are not in the tax system.

The Democrat-backed $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 legislation known as the American Rescue Plan enacted in March increased how much is paid to families under the programme.

The law made half of the tax credit for the 2021 tax year payable in advance by the Internal Revenue Service in monthly installments from July through December this year.

Biden proposed making the monthly advance payments permanent and maintaining expanded benefits through 2025 at least.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who successfully championed increasing the credit in 2017, said that the Democrats’ plans will turn the benefits into an “anti-work welfare check” because almost every family can now qualify for the payment regardless of whether the parents have a job.

“Not only does Biden’s plan abandon incentives for marriage and requirements for work, but it will also destroy the child-support enforcement system as we know it by sending cash payments to single parents without ensuring child-support orders are established,” Rubio said in a statement Wednesday.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer standing behind a mock US Treasury cheque during a news conference on the expanded Child Tax Credit payments at the US Capitol in Washington [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

The administration disputed those claims. Treasury Department estimates indicate that 97 percent of recipients of the tax credit have wages or self-employment income, while the other 3 percent are grandparents or have health issues. The credit also starts to phase out at $ 150,000 for joint filers, so there is no disincentive for the poor to work because a job would just give them more income.

Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet said the problem is one of inequality. He said that economic growth has benefitted the top 10 percent of earners in recent decades, while families are struggling with the rising costs of housing, child care and healthcare. He said his voters back in Colorado are concerned that their children will be poorer than previous generations and that required the expansion of the child tax credit.

“It’s the most progressive change to America’s tax code ever,” Bennet told reporters.

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Pent-up demand is only one of the factors driving up the cost of every step of the travel journey

Hotel rooms? Up about 44% at the end of June compared to a year earlier, according to data from hotel research firm STR. Air fares? They were 24% higher in May than in the same month last year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Even so, many of the prices are still below where they stood in the summer of 2019, six months before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic brought demand for travel to a near halt and sent prices plunging.
“Most of what people are seeing in price inflation is due to how cheap things were last year,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics.
Most in the industry avoid making the year-over-year comparisons in the CPI. Instead they’re looking at the contrast with the 2019 price and booking levels.
But even some of those prices are back to near or even above 2019 levels, thanks to the strong rebound in demand. For example, STR shows the national average for US hotel rates in the week ending June 26 back to 99.5% of where they were at the same time in 2019.
“That’s an incredible run,” said Sacks. Only two weeks ago they stood at 93% of 2019 levels, he added.
The national average disguises some even bigger increases in vacation destinations.
“The price differences are pretty disparate,” Sacks said. “The national prices don’t really mean anything when you’re looking to travel to a specific location at a specific time.”
He said that in locations where the travel and tourism industry depend on business travel, such as New York, Chicago and Washington, prices are still well below 2019 levels, since business travel has been much slower to return than leisure travel. That suggests fare increases for leisure travelers are likely even greater than the overall numbers show, he said
“If business travel was performing anywhere near what it was in normal times, we’d be seeing record performance,” said Sacks.
Popular vacation destinations have hotel prices already going above 2019 levels. In Orlando, prices are up 6%, and in Miami they’ve jumped 48% during the week ending June 26 compared to the same time two years ago. But if you’re going to New York City, traditionally a center for business travel which also has yet to reopen Broadway shows, a major tourist draw, hotel prices are 25% below where they were in the same week of 2019, according to data from hotel research firm STR.
“You see pent-up demand to get back out on vacation pushing up travel, and prices,” said Vivek Pandya, senior digital insights manager at Adobe.
Hotels and air fares aren’t the only travel items that are more expensive.
The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline today stands at $ 3.13, a seven-year high and a 44% increase from a year ago.
The most extreme example? Rental car prices, which have not only soared 110% from a year ago to record levels, but are 70% higher than even the pre-pandemic prices, according to the May Conumer Price Index.
The increase in pricing is connected to the supply of autos. To raise enough cash to survive the downturn, rental car companies sold off about a third of their fleets, and they’ve been unable to purchase the replacement vehicles this year due to a chip shortage that’s choking off new car production. Significantly smaller fleets and a rebound in demand means significantly higher prices.
Unlike the rental car companies, hotels and airlines have restored most of the capacity they shut down during the pandemic.
But bringing back capacity has been somewhat constrained by staffing difficulties. Even airlines, which pay far above the wages paid in lodging, are struggling with staffing shortages at some of their suppliers. That has forced some airlines, including American (AAL), the largest, to cut back on flights they had planned to fly this summer, adding to the upward pressure on prices.

Author: Chris Isidore, CNN Business
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WhatsApp moves step closer to launching Snapchat-like view once messages

WhatsApp is once again taking a leaf out of Snapchat’s books. Last year the Facebook-owned chat app released its highly anticipated disappearing messages feature. Snapchat users have long enjoyed this type of ephemeral messages – but WhatsApp’s take on the feature had messages sticking around for longer.

Whereas most messages in Snapchat are viewed once and then disappear, WhatsApp’s disappearing messages stuck around for seven days – even after they had been viewed.

If you were sending something sensitive over WhatsApp, and want it automatically deleted ASAP, that’s probably longer than you’d like for the messages to stick around.

Thankfully though, WhatsApp looks to be addressing this issue.

The latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android has added a new feature called Expiring Media.

READ MORE: Snapchat crashing: iPhone users report app not working, keeps closing

This lets WhatsApp users send photos or videos that once viewed immediately disappear from the chat after you close it.

The feature is available to all Android beta testers right now, which means a release date for the general public could be round the corner.

The latest beta build for WhatsApp Android has also revealed a few other interesting details about the Expiring Media feature.

If you send someone a photo or video that is meant to be viewed once on WhatsApp, you’ll get a notification when they’ve opened it.

You will also be able to send view once messages to people that haven’t enabled the Expiring Media option, with the feature still working for them.

View once messages can also be sent to groups, and you’ll be able to see who has opened it in the Message info section.

However, be warned – if you have blocked contacts in a group that you send an Expiring Media message to they’ll still be able to view it.

And just because WhatsApp is introducing this feature, it doesn’t mean there’s no way users will be able to capture whatever is sent.

As WABetaInfo explained in a post online, WhatsApp users who are sent a view once message can still take screengrabs of a photo or video that is sent over.

They can even take video captures of an Expiring Media clip that is pinged across to them.

And if they do take a screenshot or capture video you’ll have no way of knowing as screenshot detection isn’t available in WhatsApp.

So you’ll still need to be careful when it comes to what photos or videos you send across, and who to – even when using the inbound Expiring Media functionality.

The view once messages are an extension of the disappearing messages suite of functionality WhatsApp introduced in 2020.

Author: Dion Dassanayake
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech

Rejoiner plot: Lord Adonis cheers ‘big step forward’ in campaign to force re-entry to EU

The by-election victory over the Conservatives in the Chesham and Amersham constituency has been hailed by Lord Adonis as a sea-change in attitudes. In the June 17 by-election, Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Green took 56.7 percent of the vote and the Tory candidate Peter Fleet lagged behind with 35.5 percent. The chair of the European Movement UK, Lord Adonis, was referring to the Liberal Democrats shock win in the Chesham and Amersham by-election when he tweeted: “The campaign to rejoin the EU just took a big step forward after last night’s by-election.”

However, some analysts say that voters were swayed to side with the Liberal Democrats in the by-election because of local issues, rather than Brexit.

One major issue debated in the by-election was the Government’s plans to build the new HS2 rail link through the areas’ Chiltern Hills.

Other analysts point to deeper sentiments, because of the fact that Liberal Democrat Sarah Green secured a majority of 8,028, which overturned a seat held by the Tories since 1974.

Polling guru Professor John Curtice reacted to the Chesham and Amersham win by pointing out that most citizens in the constituency voted to stay in the EU.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said: “The result was a combination of the Remain inclination of the constituency and a number of local issues, HS2, planning.”

He added: “Labour voters, who of course the majority are Remain voters, were quite happy to switch to the Liberal Democrats.”

Lord Adonis was derided with suggestions that he was over-reacting after the Chesham and Amersham Liberal Democrat win.

One Twitter follower of Lord Adonis responded with a sarcastic tweet and said: “Yes, The Lib Dems rocketing from 11 to 12 seats is going to make all the difference.

READ MORE: Macron’s humiliating U-turn -Johnson and Biden vaccine pledge sees French President ‘flip’

However, one Twitter follower of Lord Adonis supported him and said: “Absolutely right Andrew.

“The tide has definitely started to turn.

“Reality was always going to kick in eventually.”

After the win Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the win for his party in Buckinghamshire sent a “shockwave through British politics”.

The Liberal Democrat leader said it was a “record-breaking” victory and part of a trend of beating the Tories in the south.

He said that this was the beginning of a pattern and pointed to recent local election gains for the Liberal Democrats in Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.

Mr Davey, speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, said: “People feel that the Conservatives are out of touch, they’re not listening to places like this, they’re taking them for granted.”

The Conservative Party explained their loss was because “by-elections are always difficult for the governing party” to win.

Conservative chairwoman Amanda Milling said the “work starts now to show how it’s the Conservatives that can deliver on the people’s priorities and regain their support”.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Oxfordshire to ban smoking outdoors in step to become first smoke-free county in England

Oxfordshire’s smoke-free plans will begin by targeting outdoor dining areas and workplace break spots. The crackdown will begin as lockdown ends, but plans have been underway since before the pandemic began. Part of the county’s strategy is to create more spaces where people feel ‘empowered’ not to smoke.
“But that is not going to happen overnight.”

Dr Adam Briggs, the public health official leading the strategy, added: “We have got a condition that is entirely a commercially driven cause of death and disease.

“It is impossible to be on the wrong side of history with tobacco consumption.”

Dr Briggs also referred to figures given by the chief medical officer Chris Whitty at a recent conference, which revealed more than 90,000 people died from tobacco related diseases in 2020, compared with 75,000 from COVID-19.


A report by Dr Briggs said smoking was the leading cause of preventable deaths in Oxfordshire, costing £120m to the public purse each year.

While 12 per cent of Oxfordshire’s population currently smoke, people earning lower incomes, those with mental illnesses, the homeless and travellers, all have a higher rate of smoking.

Andrew McHugh, a member of the health improvement partnership board, said he had asked Cherwell District Council, where he is a councillor, to make all new pavement licenses smoke-free.

Pavement licenses allow restaurants and bars to place tables and chairs outside their premises.

The council denied the request saying the easing of coronavirus restrictions was not the time to impose more rules on businesses.

Bur Dr Briggs asked members of the board, who sit on different councils around Oxfordshire, to make similar requests in the near future.

A pro-smoking campaign group called The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest) has criticised the plans.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, said: “It’s no business of local councils if adults choose to smoke, and if they smoke outside during working hours that’s a matter for them and their employer not the council.”

Smoke-free is officially recognised by the Government as when five per cent of the population or less are smokers.

Smoking causes around seven out of every 10 cases of lung cancer. 

It can also cause cancer in many other parts of the body, including the mouth, bladder, bowel and stomach. 

It also damages your heart and blood circulaton, increasing the risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease and heart attack. 

If you want to quit smoking, speak to your GP. They can enroll you in a ‘stop smoking’ clinic and prescribe nicotine replacement therapy. 

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Millions of Sky customers might've got one step closer to a colossal broadband upgrade

Sky could be planning to switch millions of its customers from BT’s Openreach over to rival Virgin Media’s fibre broadband infrastructure. The move, which was first mooted by the incredibly reliable internet-centric blog ISPreview, is supposedly subject to Virgin Media merging with mobile network O2. Despite some concerns about the joint venture raising prices for customers, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this week approved the deal.
With the £31 billion deal approved and Virgin Media and O2 now clear to become a single company, it’s possible Sky broadband customers have – unknowingly – taken a step closer to an upgrade to gigabit-capable internet.

Why would Virgin Media let customers from another company take advantage of its super-fast broadband speeds? Well, the newly-merged Virgin Media-O2 looks set to establish itself as a wholesale competitor to Openreach. For those who don’t know Openreach, a subsidiary of BT, manages a huge portion of the UK’s landline and broadband infrastructure. These cables are used by BT, as well as other brands, like Sky, EE, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Shell Energy, Vodafone, Post Office, and more.

That’s why switching from a broadband contract between BT and Plusnet won’t require a visit from an engineer – but a move to Virgin Media almost certainly will. The former use the same cables, so all you’re doing is plugging in a router with some different branding and sending your Direct Debit to a different account. Unfortunately, this also means that if Openreach hasn’t upgraded the broadband speeds in your area… you won’t be able to get a better connection from any of the biggest brands.

Amazon has a fix for slow broadband speeds and lost Wi-Fi signals

With 4.6 million premises connected with future-proofed gigabit-capable broadband from Openreach, the BT-owned company is making good progress. In its latest quarterly earnings, it confirmed plans to reach 20 million premises by the mid- to late-2020s.

That’s a big target, but unbelievably, it still might not be enough to keep up with Virgin Media. At the last count, Virgin Media was on-track to have 16 million homes across the UK wired-up with its gigabit-capable fibre broadband by the end of this year. It’s also announced plans to expand to another 7 million homes soon.

“We’ve already talked publicly about the opportunity to extend Virgin’s one gig network to an additional seven million homes, allowing us to tap into new revenue streams like wholesale,” Virgin Media Chief Executive Officer Mike Fries confirmed during the latest earnings call.

For Sky, which has been relying on Openreach for years, it’s not difficult to see the satellite broadcaster might be tempted to look elsewhere to ensure its customers have the fastest possible connection. While the average home broadband speed in the UK stands at 80Mbps, gigabit-capable connections top-out at over 1,000Mbps.

For those working from home – collaborating on projects remotely, making video calls – with busy households with family members trying to stream high-resolution video, download video games, back-up their photo collection to the cloud, update gadgets with new software, stream music to smart speakers, and more… 80Mbps can soon begin to feel pretty sluggish.

Aside from faster internet for its broadband customers, there could be another reason that Sky wants to switch from Openreach to Virgin Media. The satellite broadcaster has previously announced ambitions to offer its Sky Q telly system without the need for a satellite dish on the outside of your house. To bring thousands of channels, sporting fixtures in 4K resolution, and more, over a single broadband connection – without impacting the internet speeds to every other device in the house – Sky will, presumably, need some serious bandwidth to offer the same Sky Q telly experience as its satellite dish.

Since the initial announcement back in 2017, Sky has gone quiet about plans to untether Sky Q from its dish. With millions more homes connected with gigabit-capable broadband, could the Virgin Media infrastructure finally allow Sky to start to realise its four-year-old plan?

Regardless, with UK regulators approving the £31 billion merger between Virgin Media and O2, it does seem like the chess pieces are starting to come together for the new joint venture to truly challenge Openreach. More competition is likely to be a good thing for broadband customers nationwide. After all, if new broadband providers are able to piggyback on the full-fibre cables already buried under streets and homes across the UK, they have the ability to scale much quicker.

Just as we’ve seen dozens of broadband firms flourish and compete on price on Openreach’s broadband infrastructure, the same could now happen with the future-proofed gigabit-capable cables weaving their way across the UK.

We’ll have to wait a little longer to see whether the tipsters talking to ISPreview are correct about Sky being front of the queue to partner with Virgin Media and leverage its super-fast network. But we’d imagine there are plenty of Sky broadband customers chugging along with 50Mbps speeds who have their fingers firmly crossed.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Virgin Galactic moves one step closer to commercial space flights

Virgin Galactic moves one step closer to commercial space flights© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Virgin Galactic rocket plane, the WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane, with SpaceShipTwo passenger craft takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Gene Blevins/File Photo

(Reuters) – Flying at Mach 3 and reaching more than 55 miles above the Earth Saturday, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s private spaceship company Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:) Inc completed its first manned space flight from its new home port in New Mexico.

This is a milestone in Branson’s near two-decades effort to create a commercial “spaceline” to take paying customers into outer space.

Touted as the first human spaceflight from the state, Branson’s SpaceShipTwo craft lifted off in the desert about 45 miles northeast of Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 10:35 a.m.

About 50 minutes later, traveling at more than 2,300 miles an hour, it reached a height NASA recognizes as space and attained suborbital flight status.

“Welcome to space” the company posted on Twitter.

Branson shared videos of the flight on social media and said on Twitter, “Delighted to be on the flightline to Virgin Galactic’s first human spaceflight from the majestic Spaceport America.”

On the flight deck were CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay who reached space, while Kelly Latimer and Michael Masucci piloted a carrier plane that helped the craft lift off, the company said.

The space plane, which can hold six passengers, glided to a landing on a runway safely with its two pilots about 11:45 a.m.

“The crew experienced extraordinary views of the bright, blue-rimmed curvature of the earth against the blackness of space … Their experience today gives Virgin Galactic’s future Astronaut customers a glimpse of what lies ahead,” the company said in a release.

Branson founded the company in 2004 and this is the third time his company reported reaching space.

The Washington Post reported that this flight comes at a critical time for Branson as his space venture is facing competition from billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, the Amazon (NASDAQ:) founder’s own efforts to create a commercial spaceline.

Saturday’s flight is the first time Branson’s crafts have reached space in more than two years, when the company moved its operations from Mojave, California, to New Mexico.

Michael Colglazier, the CEO of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement: “Today’s flight showcased the inherent elegance and safety of our spaceflight system, while marking a major step forward for both Virgin Galactic and human spaceflight in New Mexico.”

By Rich McKay

Author: Reuters
This post originally appeared on Stock Market News

Permitless carry legislation a step closer to reality as Texas House, Senate negotiators reach agreement

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Negotiators in the Texas House and Senate announced on Thursday they had reached an agreement on legislation that removes the state’s licensing requirement to carry firearms for people 21 years or older.

House Bill 1927, known commonly as the permitless carry bill, was passed by both the House and Senate, but changes made in the upper chamber required a conference committee of lawmakers to work out the differences.

“The House and Senate conferees have reached an agreement on House Bill 1927, a critical benchmark before this bill reaches Gov. (Greg) Abbott’s desk,” state Rep. Matt Schaefer said in a statement. “By working together, the House and Senate will send Gov. Abbott the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history, and protect the right of law-abiding Texans to carry a handgun as they exercise their God-given right to self-defense and the defense of their families.”

Members of the full House and Senate will have to approve the agreement before it’s ready to be signed into law by the governor.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, cheered the news Thursday afternoon, saying the agreement “includes the thinking of national gun rights advocates and many in Texas law enforcement and affirms our commitment to protect the rights of gun owners and the safety of those in law enforcement.”

In April, police chiefs and law enforcement group leaders held a press conference at the Texas Capitol expressing their opposition to HB 1927.

“I want to be clear, this is not about the Second Amendment,” Austin Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said at the time. “It’s not about peoples’ right to lawfully carry a firearm — I’m very much in support of all those things. Carrying a powerful weapon is also a responsibility.”

Language of the agreement wasn’t made public on Thursday.

Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, was among those raising concerns about the bill early on.

“We still have concerns about whatever version comes out of here but we’re still waiting to see exactly what’s in there,” Lawrence said.

KXAN will continue to update this developing story.

Author: John Engel
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

ByteDance founder to step down as CEO, hand over to college roommate

ByteDance founder to step down as CEO, hand over to college roommate© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Zhang Yiming, founder and global CEO of ByteDance, poses in Palo Alto, California, U.S., March 4, 2020. Picture taken March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Echo Wang and Yingzhi Yang

(Reuters) – Zhang Yiming will step down as chief executive of TikTok-owner ByteDance, leaving the task of navigating a rising number of Big Tech regulations worldwide to college roommate, long-time colleague and current human resources head Liang Rubo.

In an employee memo on Thursday – first reported by Reuters and later disclosed by the firm – Zhang said the change would “enable me to have greater impact on longer-term initiatives”.

He will move to a “key strategy” position at the end of the year, ByteDance said in a statement.

Zhang, who did not address his role as chairman, in the memo called Liang “an invaluable partner” with “strengths in management, organization, and social engagement”.

ByteDance’s biggest management shake-up since its launch in 2012 comes less than a month after its chief financial officer, Shouzi Chew, became CEO of flagship short-video app TikTok.

It also comes as Chinese regulators increase scrutiny of the country’s biggest technology firms. In April, they slapped e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE:) Group Holding Ltd with a $ 2.8 billion fine for anti-competitive practices, and last year suspended fintech affiliate Ant Group’s initial public offering.

Anti-trust regulators have also told Tencent Holdings (OTC:) Ltd they are preparing to fine the gaming giant as much as $ 1.55 billion, Reuters reported that last month.

Zhang, who turned ByteDance into a social media force, in the memo said he was not a social person and lacked the skills of an ideal manager. He also blamed the day-to-day challenges of a CEO as being a hurdle to research and innovation.

“I’m more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people,” Zhang, 38, wrote in the memo.

“Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and contemplating what may be possible.”


Zhang owns 20% to 30% of ByteDance and holds over 50% of voting rights, people with knowledge of the matter previously told Reuters. ByteDance did not comment on Zhang’s stake.

Zhang in the memo said he will work with Liang over the next six months to ensure a smooth transition. He did not mention whether he would give up his voting rights.

“Based on previous experience it’s likely we could see a slowdown of investment in new businesses, while they could pay more attention to old businesses as the new management team needs some time for adjustment,” said Shawn Yang, managing director of Blue Lotus Capital Advisors.

Liang, not a household name in China, studied and roomed with Zhang at Nankai University in Tianjin, China. He also worked with Zhang at real estate website 99fang.com prior to joining ByteDance. Liang on his LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/rubo-liang-54744824 said he is a ByteDance co-founder.

In an internal memo seen by Reuters, Liang said he looked forward to continuing working with his colleagues, and that the new role represents a “huge challenge” and places “a lot of pressure” on him.


ByteDance, which employs over 100,000 people worldwide, had been preparing for a much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) this year, but halted plans in April.

“I think it’s possible that Zhang is concerned that after the IPO he would see a ballooning of his wealth and get a lot of attention from the media. It is hard to be a rich person in China. You don’t get as much recognition,” said Beijing-based technology analyst Li Chengdong.

Zhang is the latest in a small group of founders of Chinese tech firms to move away from day-to-day management.

Colin Huang, founder of e-commerce firm Pinduoduo (NASDAQ:) Inc, stepped down as chief executive in 2020 and as chairman in March. The 41-year-old, who owns about 30% of Pinduoduo, will also give up his super voting rights.

Nine-year-old ByteDance’s previous big organizational shake-up occurred last year, when Zhang appointed Chairman Zhang Lidong and Chief Executive Kelly Zhang at ByteDance’s China business.

ByteDance’s TikTok has sought to distance itself from Beijing after the United States raised national security concerns over the safety of the personal data it handles.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump’s administration sought to force ByteDance to divest control of the app. A U.S. plan to sell TikTok’s American operations to a consortium that included Oracle Corp (NYSE:) and Walmart (NYSE:) Inc languished, however, after ByteDance launched successful legal challenges.

Author: Reuters
This post originally appeared on Stock Market News