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Trump calls for inquiry into Google’s work with China

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Trump calls for inquiry into Google's work with China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration would investigate whether Alphabet Inc’s Google supports the Chinese government, following accusations that a company official refuted hours later at a Senate hearing.

The president repeated accusations made previously by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and venture capitalist, that Google may be infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents.

“A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump later told reporters he would have various agencies, including potentially the Justice Department, “see if there’s any truth to” Thiel’s accusations.

Thiel has called on the FBI and CIA to probe Google on its relations with China, and alleged that the company worked with the Chinese military.

The top U.S. general, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed similar concerns about Google in a congressional hearing in March.

Google said in an email statement: “As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military.”

At a wide-ranging U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday about Google’s content policies, the company’s top government affairs official told Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, that it did little business in China.

“Fundamentally in China we actually do very little today, certainly compared to any other major technology company,” said Karan Bhatia, vice president for government affairs and public policy.

Bhatia said Google has seen no evidence that it has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents.

He added that Google had “terminated” an effort to develop a search engine that abides by China’s political censorship rules. Google would only launch such a service now in consultation with “key stakeholders,” Bhatia said.

FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the media during the “3rd Annual Made in America Product Showcase” on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

But under questioning from senators, Bhatia declined to commit to not censoring content in China or to undergoing a third-party audit of its content moderation policies.

The lack of commitment drew sharp criticism from Hawley.

“Clearly our trust and patience in your company and the behavior of your monopoly has run out,” he said. “It’s time for some accountability.”

Thiel has financially backed several Republican politicians at the state and federal level, including Trump and Hawley, who have expressed concern about the influence of Google’s search and advertising businesses.

Thiel invested in Facebook Inc soon after its founding and is a director at the social media company, which is Google’s top rival for online ad spending. He also is a director at data analytics software firm Palantir Technologies, which, like Google, competes to secure government technology contracts.

‘HOURGLASS HAS RUN OUT’

Senators on Tuesday criticized Google over several issues, including whether it was biased against conservative content and why it has been slow to stop the spread of some graphic material.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Google’s YouTube needed to do a better job of policing content.

“You can’t simply unleash the monster and say it’s too big to control,” Blumenthal said. “The hourglass has run out.”

Senator Ted Cruz, who chairs the Senate Judiciary panel which held the hearing, called Google “a black box” currently and said it must present more data to lawmakers about takedowns of conservative content versus liberal material. Such information could inform how to better regulate Google, he said.

Google’s monopoly power and censorship “is a real threat to our democratic processes,” Cruz said after the hearing.

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

Senator Mazie Hirono, the top Democrat on panel, described the “claims of anti-conservative bias” as baseless.

The hearing was a chance for Google “to be raked over the coals … for common sense actions that are entirely within their rights,” she said.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Susan Heavey in Washington; additional reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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