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Joe Biden points to ‘progress’ as prices hit record high last year

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Joe Biden points to ‘progress’ as prices hit record high last year
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Joe Biden points to ‘progress’ as prices hit record high last year

US consumer prices jumped last year at the fastest pace in four decades, the government confirmed Wednesday, underscoring the potent inflation wave that has sapped public support for President Joe Biden even as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

US consumer prices jumped last year at the fastest pace in four decades, the government confirmed Wednesday, underscoring the potent inflation wave that has sapped public support for President Joe Biden even as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

The seven percent increase in the Labor Department’s consumer price index (CPI) over the 12 months to December was the highest since June 1982, as prices rose for an array of goods, especially housing, cars, and food.

Since taking office last January, Biden has presided over an economy that has expanded rapidly and seen millions of people who lost their jobs to the Covid-19 pandemic return to work.

But a collision between rebounding demand, labor shortages, and global supply chain snarls that made crucial components like computer chips scarce caused prices last year to climb upwards at an ever-faster rate.

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In a statement, Biden said the latest data contained signs of “progress” as inflation in some key sectors slowed.

“At the same time, this report underscores that we still have more work to do, with price increases still too high and squeezing family budgets,” he said.

Joe Biden points to ‘progress’ as prices hit record high last year

But if relief is near, economists say it may not come particularly quickly.

“The peak is close, but the speed of the coming downshift is uncertain,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

For the Republican opposition, the report underscored their belief that the Democratic president has mishandled the recovery.

“This trend isn’t ‘transitory,’ and it’s all happening under Democrats’ one-party control,” tweeted Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, of which his party is seen as favored to win control in elections in November.

The White House has attempted to lower prices by sorting out supply chains to relieve shortages and address alleged price-fixing in industries like meatpacking, but the most potent actor against inflation is the independent Federal Reserve.

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Central bankers already have indicated they are ready to raise interest rates from zero in the coming months, and many observers see the first increase as soon as March.

Kathy Bostjancic of Oxford Economics said the Fed now sees getting inflation back towards its two-per cent goal as its “top priority,” and could raise rates as many as four times this year.

– From cars to food –

Prices for shelter, including rental properties, have been one of the main contributors to inflation, rising 4.1 percent in the year, while food rose 6.3 percent, the Labor Department said.

However, in both cases, the December monthly increase was smaller than in the prior month.

After slumping during the economic crisis in 2020, energy prices rebounded strongly last year with a 29.3 percent gain, the report said.

But in December, energy costs contracted, falling 0.4 percent from November, indicating Americans may soon see relief at gas stations and on their heating bills.

There was no such respite for used car prices, another main driver of inflation in the year, which jumped 3.5 percent in December and 37.3 percent over the course of 2021, according to the data.

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Food and energy prices can be volatile, but with those items stripped out, consumer prices rose more than expected with a 0.6 percent gain compared to November.

For the year, they were up 5.5 percent, the highest since February 1991.

– Approaching peak? –

There were indications in the data that the price surge may be ebbing.

Overall CPI growth slowed to 0.5 percent in December, less than the 0.8 percent increase in the prior month.

Some of the major drivers of inflation will ease over the course of this year, Shepherdson predicted, including the shortage of real estate that has pushed home prices and rents upwards, and the scarcity of semiconductors that have crippled automobile assembly lines.

While annualized consumer prices may eventually peak at a level higher than in December “the run of big increases is over, and it will start to fall in March,” he said.

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China Says Guantanamo Bay Is The Real “Detention Camp” For Muslims

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China Says Guantanamo Bay Is The Real "Detention Camp" For Muslims
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China Says Guantanamo Bay Is The Real “Detention Camp” For Muslims

Beijing has weighed in on the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay by calling on the United States to address its human rights violations and finally close the notorious offshore military prison.

Some 39 detainees—many without charges—remain at the facility in southern Cuba.

The question of whether to shut down “Gitmo” for good has carried over successive administrations, with the United Nations among several leading organizations calling for a swift and conclusive resolution by the U.S.

At a regular press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, called the continued operation of the prison “a dark chapter” in the world’s human rights record.

“If ever there was a ‘detention camp’ that holds Muslims, it would be Guantanamo Bay,” he said, alluding to allegations that the Chinese government has interned over a million Uyghur Muslims in mass detention centers in Xinjiang in the country’s northwest—a charge Beijing denies.

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China Says Guantanamo Bay Is The Real “Detention Camp” For Muslims

“The United States has promised more than once that it would close the prison,” said Wang. “However, 20 years later, 39 people are still being kept there, while few of them have been charged with or convicted of crimes.”

Wang accused the U.S. of operating “black sites” such as Guantanamo Bay all over the world. The prison, the official said, is “only the tip of the iceberg.”

“The U.S. should sincerely reflect on itself, immediately close Guantanamo Bay and all other secret prisons across the world,” he said.

“It should stop atrocities including arbitrary detention and the torture of prisoners, deliver apologies and compensations to the victims and bring to justice those who authorized and committed the torture.”

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Guantanamo Bay, which is located within a U.S. naval base, was opened on January 11, 2002, during George W. Bush’s first administration, as part of the “war on terror” following the 9/11 attacks.

In the two decades since, some 780 inmates have been held at the facility, including a peak of 684 detainees in June 2003.

Former President Barack Obama vowed to close the military prison in his first year, but opposition from Congress and challenges related to the secure transfer of inmates meant the otherwise historic decision dragged on indefinitely until it was reversed by his successor, Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden has committed to closing Gitmo by the time he leaves office.

On Monday, a report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, of which the U.S. is a member, found that only nine of the the prison’s 39 detainees have been charged or convicted of crimes.

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“Between 2002 and 2021, nine detainees died in custody, two from natural causes and seven reportedly committed suicide. None had been charged or convicted of a crime,” said the report authored by a panel of independent human rights experts.

“Despite forceful, repeated and unequivocal condemnation of the operation of this horrific detention and prison complex with its associated trial processes, the United States continues to detain persons, many of whom have never been charged with any crime,” they wrote.

They report said: “Guantanamo Bay is a site of unparalleled notoriety, defined by the systematic use of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against hundreds of men brought to the site and deprived of their most fundamental rights.”

The Department of Defense says torture is prohibited and investigated whenever reported.

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Russia Arrests, Dismantles Revil Hacking Group At US Request

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Russia Arrests, Dismantles Revil Hacking Group At US Request
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Russia Arrests, Dismantles Revil Hacking Group At US Request

The source said that hacker from REvil with Russian citizenship will not be extradited to the US

The members of the REvil hacker group, involved in a number of attacks on large American companies, have been charged in Russia; now the community and its infrastructure have been liquidated, the FSB’s Public Relations Center (DSP) told Interfax.

“The FSB of Russia has established the full composition of the REvil criminal community and the involvement of its members in the illegal circulation of means of payment, and has documented illegal activities,” the intelligence service said.

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The reason was the appeal of the competent US authorities, who reported on the leader of the criminal community and his involvement in encroaching on the information resources of foreign high-tech companies by introducing malicious software, encrypting information and extorting money for its decryption, the FSB recalled.

More than 426 million rubles were seized at the places of stay of 14 members of the hacker group, including in cryptocurrency, 600 thousand dollars, 500 thousand euros, as well as computer equipment, crypto wallets used to commit crimes, 20 premium cars bought with money, obtained by criminal means.

Russia Arrests, Dismantles Revil Hacking Group At US Request

The detained members of the criminal community were charged under Part 2 of Art. 187 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal circulation of means of payments).

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“Representatives of the US competent authorities have been informed about the results of the operation,” the DSP said.

According to the FSB, the detainees developed malicious software, organized the theft of funds from the bank accounts of foreign citizens and cashing them out, including by purchasing expensive goods on the Internet. The secret service did not disclose the identity of the detainees.

In July 2021, the US-based company Kaseya was subjected to a massive cyberattack using a ransomware virus. The hacker attack affected companies directly or indirectly associated with Kaseya, which remotely controls the programs of its customers: Internet service providers for businesses. It was reported that the cyberattack was carried out by the REvil hacker group, which is credited with having links with the Russian Federation.

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In November, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday that Russian Yevgeny Polyanin, who is considered one of the leaders of REvil, received about $ 13 million from the victims of his hacker attacks using ransomware, but of which $ 6.1 million was returned to Washington.

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Prime Minister set to be sacked for breaking Covid19 rules

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Boris Johnson set to be sacked for breaking Covid19 rules
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Prime Minister set to be sacked for breaking Covid19 rules

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is under fire and facing numerous calls to quit his post as the nation’s leader after he apologized for attending a party during the first coronavirus pandemic in May 2020. The calls for him to vacate his position has been growing louder since he admitted to attending the party which is viewed as distasteful by the British public as it implies that he violated the very rules that his own office put in place to ensure the safety of British citizens against the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The admission and apology came during his Prime Minister’s Questions sessions at the House of Commons where he said, “I know the rage they feel with me and the government I lead,”… “when they think that in Downing Street itself, the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.”

Prime Minister set to be sacked for breaking Covid19 rules

The calls for him to vacate his position has been growing since it was established that he seemed to be holding back the truth when he was initially questioned about the parties. His refusal to initially admit to the parliament that he was present at those parties, implies that he intentionally misled the Parliament, an offence that is enough to earn him his exit according to Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer who led the call for the Prime Minister’s untenable position.

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