Category : Технології

The Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices around the country last year, the Justice Department said.The department said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four U.S. attorney offices in New York were breached. All told, the Justice Department said, in 27 U.S. attorney offices at least one employee’s email account was compromised during the hacking campaign.The Justice Department said in a statement Friday that it believes the accounts were compromised from May 7 to Dec. 27, 2020. Such a timeframe is notable because the SolarWinds campaign, which infiltrated dozens of private-sector companies and think tanks as well as at least nine U.S. government agencies, was first discovered and publicized in mid-December.The Biden administration in April announced sanctions, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats, in response to the SolarWinds hack and Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied wrongdoing.Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer at Columbia Law School, said office emails frequently contained all sorts of sensitive information, including case strategy discussions and names of confidential informants, when she was a federal prosecutor in New York.”I don’t remember ever having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me because of security concerns,” she said, noting exceptions for classified materials.The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts confirmed in January that it was also breached, giving the SolarWinds hackers another entry point to steal confidential information like trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants.The list of affected offices includes several large and high-profile ones like those in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and the Eastern District of Virginia.The Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, where large numbers of staff were hit, handle some of the most prominent prosecutions in the country.”New York is the financial center of the world and those districts are particularly well known for investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes and other cases, including investigating people close to the former president,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law School and a former prosecutor in the Southern District.The department said all victims had been notified and it is working to mitigate “operational, security and privacy risks” caused by the hack. The Justice Department said in January that it had no indication that any classified systems were affected.The Justice Department did not provide additional detail about what kind of information was taken and what impact such a hack may have on ongoing cases. Members of Congress have expressed frustration with the Biden administration for not sharing more information about the impact of the SolarWinds campaign.The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers had gained access to email accounts belonging to the then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries. 

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The last VHS player was produced five years ago by Funai Electric in Japan. But for many, the era of VHS tapes never ended. Karina Bafradzhian and Angelina Bagdasaryan have the story.Camera: David Gogokhia, Vazgen Varzhabitian.

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Fake videos generated by artificial intelligence — also known as deep fakes — are becoming more common and harder to detect. But some deep fakes are being used for a good cause. Karina Bafradzhian has the story.

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читати Inc has been hit with a record $886.6 million (746 million euros) European Union fine for processing personal data in violation of the bloc’s GDPR rules, as privacy regulators take a more aggressive position on enforcement.The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) imposed the fine on Amazon in a July 16 decision, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday.Amazon will appeal the fine, according to a company spokesperson. The e-commerce giant said in the filing it believed CNPD’s decision was without merit.CNPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires companies to seek people’s consent before using their personal data or face steep fines.Globally, regulatory scrutiny of tech giants has been increasing following a string of scandals over privacy and misinformation, as well as complaints from some businesses that they abuse their market power.Alphabet’s Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp have drawn heightened scrutiny in Europe.In December, France’s data privacy watchdog handed out its biggest ever fine of 100 million euros ($118.82 million) to Google for breaching the nation’s rules on online advertising trackers.

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Big tech companies are making it mandatory for employees in the United States to get COVID-19 vaccinations before entering campuses, as the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus drives a resurgence in cases.Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. said on Wednesday all U.S. employees must get vaccinated to step into offices. Google is also planning to expand its vaccination drive to other countries in the coming months.According to a Deadline report, streaming giant Netflix Inc. has also implemented a policy mandating vaccinations for the cast and crew on all its U.S. productions.Apple Inc. plans to restore its mask requirement policy at most of its U.S. retail stores, both for customers and staff, even if they are vaccinated, Bloomberg News reported.Apple and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comments.Many tech companies, including Microsoft Corp. and Uber, have said they expect employees to return to their offices, months after pandemic-induced lockdowns forced them to shift to working from home.In April, Salesforce said it would allow vaccinated employees to return to some of its offices.Google also said on Wednesday it would extend its global work-from-home policy through Oct. 18 due to a recent rise in cases caused by the delta variant across different regions.”We’ll continue watching the data carefully and let you know at least 30 days in advance before transitioning into our full return-to-office plans,” the company said.   

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There is growing international criticism of Israel following allegations that software from the private security company NSO was used to spy on journalists, dissidents, and even political leaders around the world. A group of American lawmakers is urging the U.S. government to take punitive action against the company, which denies any wrongdoing. In Israel, some experts are calling for better regulation of cyber exports. Linda Gradstein reports for VOA from Jerusalem.

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U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power will visit Ethiopia next week to press for humanitarian access into conflict-battered Tigray as fears of famine grow, it was announced Thursday.
Power will meet officials in Addis Ababa to “press for unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent famine in Tigray and meet urgent needs in other conflict-affected regions of the country,” USAID said in a statement.
Power will also travel to Sudan on her trip starting Saturday as Western powers seek to support the civilian-backed transitional government after decades of authoritarian rule, USAID said.
The United Nations has warned that food rations in the Tigrayan capital Mekele could run out this month if more aid is not allowed in.
All available routes into Tigray are impeded by restrictions or insecurity following an attack on a World Food Program convoy earlier this month.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, in November launched an offensive in Tigray in response to attacks by the region’s then ruling party against federal army camps.

The war took a stunning turn last month when the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front took back Mekele, with rebels then launching a new offensive.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described some of the violence in Tigray as “ethnic cleansing” and repeatedly pressed Abiy by telephone, voicing alarm despite the long, warm U.S. relationship with Ethiopia.
Power, a former journalist who held senior positions under former President Barack Obama, is known for her advocacy of humanitarian concerns and often reflects on the failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Power will also meet in Sudan with Ethiopian refugees who have fled the conflict and travel to Darfur — the parched western region where a 2003 campaign against the African ethnic minority was described as genocide by Washington.  
Sudan’s civilian prime minister, Abdulla Hamdok, has sought to end the vast nation’s myriad conflicts including in Darfur although renewed clashes have killed hundreds of people in recent months.  
Power will meet Hamdok as well as the military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who remains leader of Sudan’s transitional ruling body as Sudan prepares for elections in 2022.
Power will “explore how to expand USAID’s support for Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led democracy” and deliver a speech in Khartoum about the transition, the agency said.


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China’s new ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, on Wednesday wished the United States victory against COVID-19 and said great potential awaited bilateral relations, striking an optimistic tone as he arrived at his new post amid deeply strained ties.

Qin’s arrival comes days after high-level talks in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and senior Chinese diplomats ended with both sides signaling that the other must make concessions for ties to improve.

Qin, 55, a vice foreign minister whose recent past portfolios have included European affairs and protocol, is replacing China’s longest serving ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, 68, who last month announced his departure after eight years in Washington.

“I firmly believe that the door of China-U.S. relations, which is already open, cannot and should not be closed,” Qin told reporters at his residence in the U.S. capital after arriving from the airport.

“The China-U.S. relationship has come to a new critical juncture, facing not only many difficulties and challenges, but also great opportunities and potential,” Qin said.

He said relations kept moving forward “despite twists and turns,” and added that the U.S. economy was improving under President Joe Biden’s leadership.

“I wish the country an early victory against the pandemic,” he added.

Qin, who did two stints as a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson between 2006 and 2014, has earned a reputation for often pointed public defenses of his country’s positions.

Relations between Beijing and Washington deteriorated sharply under former President Donald Trump, and Biden has maintained pressure on China, stepping up sanctions on Chinese officials and vowing that the country won’t replace the United States as the world’s global leader on his watch.

China’s Foreign Ministry has recently signaled there could be preconditions for the United States on which any kind of cooperation would be contingent, a stance some analysts say leaves dim prospects for improved ties.

The post of the U.S. ambassador to China has been vacant since October, when Republican Terry Branstad stepped down to help with Trump’s reelection campaign.

With many U.S. ambassador posts to allied countries still unfilled, Biden has yet to nominate a replacement for China, though former ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns is considered a favorite candidate in foreign policy circles.  

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Japan on Wednesday reported over 9,500 new coronavirus infections, an all-time high, raising fresh questions about whether the ongoing Tokyo Olympics are worsening the country’s pandemic situation.

Over 3,000 of the country’s infections were reported in Tokyo, which has set a record high for two consecutive days. The numbers were compiled by NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster. 

Tokyo is already under a state of emergency that some local commentators have criticized as ineffective. Many of the rules are voluntary. For example, restaurants have been asked to close early and not sell alcohol. Not all have complied.

The virus is also spreading outside the capital. The three prefectures surrounding Tokyo – Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama – have all seen infections spike. Local media report that officials are considering strengthening pandemic measures in those areas.

“The medical system has already started becoming more strained,” Shigeru Omi, the Japanese government’s top COVID-19 adviser, told a parliamentary hearing, according to the Kyodo News agency.

Overall, Japan’s pandemic approach has been relatively successful. It has reported only 15,000 coronavirus deaths, much fewer than other countries its size. Even though Japan reported a record number of cases Wednesday, it reported a total of only eight deaths.

Whether it can continue its less forceful lockdown may depend on how bad the current outbreak gets and whether the tens of thousands of athletes, officials and media from around the world stay in their protective bubbles as planned. 

So far, 169 Olympics-related individuals have tested positive for the virus. Olympics organizers stress the overall positivity rate is very low. They also say most Olympics-related visitors are vaccinated.

Japan is one of several Asian countries to initially contain the virus but lag other developed countries in vaccinations. 

At least 37 percent of Japan’s population has received one coronavirus vaccination, according to government figures.

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Momentum is building among congressional Democrats to provide significant funding for the Civilian Climate Corps – an initiative originally proposed by President Joe Biden earlier this year as part of the American Jobs Plan. 

The plan envisions a federal program that would hire young Americans to work on a wide variety of projects meant to remediate existing damage from climate change, to make at-risk areas of the country more resilient to climate change, and to help establish the kind of infrastructure that would allow renewable energy sources to be more thoroughly integrated into the U.S. economy.

If their plan comes to fruition, Democrats will insert at least $10 billion in funding for the new organization into what is expected to be a $3.5 trillion package that could be forced through Congress on a Democrats-only vote later this year.

A nod to FDR

Particularly in the early days of his presidency, Biden’s rollout of major proposals has invited comparisons to past Democratic presidents, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The proposal for a Civilian Climate Corps might be Biden’s most explicit callback to the days of FDR, echoing, as it does, the Civilian Conservation Corps founded in 1933. That version of the CCC was conceived as a jobs program, in the depths of the Great Depression, which would have the added benefit of creating projects of longstanding value to the country and its people.

Participation in the original CCC, however, was explicitly limited to men, and in many cases practically limited to white men. Advocates of the new CCC have made it plain that they expect any such program to be diverse in its membership and management.

Driver of diversity

Proponents of the new CCC see it as an organization that could partner with existing federal and state agencies to deliver manpower and resources to parts of the country where the need is greatest, while simultaneously offering opportunities to women and minorities in fields where they are underrepresented.

Scott Segerstrom, executive director of the Colorado Youth Corps Association, said that the kind of resources that the CCC could bring to bear in his state would be able to improve wildfire mitigation and prevention projects, and would help expand on the work that existing organization are already undertaking. One example, he said, is a program meant to draw a more diverse group of people into the work of wildland firefighting – typically an area dominated by white men.

“We have a program called the Women’s Fire Corps, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a cohort of young women who are trained and get their first hands-on experience in a supportive, inclusive environment,” Segerstrom said. “And an outcome of that program is that we will see more young women entering the wildland firefighting sector. Our hope is over time that that sector better reflects the face of Colorado, and by extension, the face of America, and the Civilian Climate Corps is a mechanism that can grow programs like that.”

Broad Democratic support

On July 20, more than 80 Democratic members of the House and Senate sent a letter to the party’s congressional leadership, calling on them to include funding for the CCC in the package.

“The urgency of this moment recalls past chapters of national mobilization,” the letter said, nodding to the creation of both Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, and AmeriCorps, which employs 75,000 Americans every year in various public service programs.

“In standing up the Civilian Climate Corps,” the lawmakers said, “we will build on that legacy and existing infrastructure, provide robust economic and educational opportunity, and promote inclusive and equitable Corps.”

Wide discrepancy over funding

While support for the CCC, in principle, is broad within the Democratic party, there is considerable divergence among members as to how much funding the program would require. 

Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, for example, claim that a bill they co-sponsored, which recommended a $9 billion appropriation for “21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps” served as the model for President Biden’s slightly larger $10 billion.

However, other Democrats are calling for an investment that is an order of magnitude larger. Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that the minimum necessary for an effective CCC is $132 billion. That’s a figure that the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots climate organization active in the push for a new CCC, has also advocated.

Without committing to a specific figure, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised, “I will fight to get the biggest boldest CCC possible.”

Republicans dubious

Because it will likely be part of a much larger spending bill that receives only Democratic support, any funding for the CCC that passes will not have the imprimatur of a bipartisan agreement. But in discussing the proposal, some in the GOP suggested that it might not get much support even on its own. 

“I’m concerned that Democrats are taking what could be a popular, bipartisan concept, and hijacking it with reckless spending and unneeded federal involvement,” Idaho Rep. Russ Fulcher said in a hearing on the CCC before the House Natural Resources Committee. 

Like many Republicans, Fulcher said the creation of a new government entity made the effort unnecessarily complex.

“As an alternative to creating an entirely new Civilian Climate Corps, Congress can simply encourage public-private partnerships and allow the private sector to innovate and continue existing, successful corps programs,” he said.

Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas expressed similar concerns, saying, “The administration has yet to release its strategy for how the proposed Civilian Climate Corps will be implemented or how this new program will interact with existing corps or federal workforce programs.”

Westerman added, “We should avoid creating a new federal bureaucracy and instead focus on creating win-win solutions by leveraging private funding and targeting future corps work on important activities like rebuilding trails, addressing deferred maintenance and conducting active forest management projects.”

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Some Nigerian companies are using coconut and palm shells to make charcoal briquettes in an effort to slow ongoing deforestation. Nigeria banned charcoal exports after a World Bank report showed the country lost nearly half its forest cover in just a decade. Timothy Obiezu reports from Kuje, Nigeria.

Camera: Emeka Gibson 

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Russia is already interfering in next year’s midterm U.S. elections, President Joe Biden said Tuesday in a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  

Referencing the day’s classified briefing prepared by the intelligence community for him, Biden said: “Look at what Russia’s doing already about the 2022 election and misinformation.” 

Such actions by Moscow are a “pure violation of our sovereignty,” the president said, without elaborating, in remarks to about 120 representatives of the U.S. intelligence community who gathered in northern Virginia at the ODNI headquarters.  

Biden’s public reference to something contained in that day’s top secret Presidential Daily Brief is certain to raise some eyebrows.  

“He’s the president. He can declassify anything he wants to whenever he wants to,” said Emily Harding, deputy director and senior fellow with the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

“And I’m not sure it’s going to be a shock to anybody that Russia is looking at disinformation for the 2022 election. I think it is a really good reminder, though, that Russia continues to do this and that nothing has dissuaded them yet,” she said. 

The president also had an ominous prediction about the escalating cyberattacks targeting the United States that his administration has blamed on state-backed hackers in China and those operating with impunity in Russia.    

Biden said he believes it is growing more likely the United States could “end up in a real shooting war with a major power,” as the consequence of a cyber breach.  

Such cyber capabilities of U.S. adversaries are “increasing exponentially,” according to the president.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed much on Biden’s mind during his remarks to the intelligence community.  

Putin has “nuclear weapons, oil wells and nothing else,” Biden said, adding that the Russian leader knows he is in real trouble economically, “which makes him even more dangerous.”  

Biden also praised the U.S. intelligence community for its superiority over its counterpart in Moscow.  

Putin “knows that you’re better than his team. And it bothers the hell out of him,” Biden said.  

“I can see the wheels in Moscow turning to respond to that one,” Harding told VOA.  

Biden referred to both Russia and China as “possibly mortal competitors down the road.”  

In his remarks, the U.S. president said that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world, as well as the largest and most prominent economy in the world” by the mid-2040s.  

Biden made several cryptic references to hypersonic weapons of adversaries. But he stopped himself once in midsentence after saying, “I don’t know, we probably have some people who aren’t totally cleared” in the room. In fact, a group of White House reporters was present, and a television camera was recording the speech on behalf of the media.  

The president also appealed to his intelligence team, which is composed of elements from 17 different agencies, “to give it to me straight. I’m not looking for pablum … and when you’re not sure, say you’re not sure.”  

Biden said he “can’t make the decisions I need to make if I’m not getting the best unvarnished, unbiased judgments you can give. I’m not looking to hear nice things. I’m looking to hear what you think to be the truth.”  

Those words are “a big deal. That’s the thing that he probably most needed to say” to this particular audience, according to Harding.  

Biden stressed that the intelligence agencies should not be swayed by which political party holds power in Congress or the White House. He said it is “so vital that you are and should be totally free of any political pressure or partisan influence.”  

Biden vowed that while he is president he will not try to “affect or alter your judgments about what you think the situation we face is. I’ll never politicize the work you do. You have my word on that. It’s too important for our country.”  

The appearance by the 46th U.S. president was intended, in part, to demonstrate a different relationship with the intelligence community than experienced by his predecessor, Donald Trump.  

“I think you can all make the inherent contrast,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the previous day.  

Trump’s attitude toward the intelligence community publicly soured after he sided with Putin’s denial of the U.S. government’s conclusion that the Kremlin had meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump, a Republican, narrowly defeated Democratic Party challenger Hillary Clinton in that election.  

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Four U.S. police officers told a congressional investigating committee in tearful, gripping detail on Tuesday how an angry mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump rampaged into the U.S. Capitol last January 6 in a futile attempt to block certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in last November’s presidential election.

The officers – two on the U.S. Capitol Police force and two with the Washington city police department — said they feared for their lives as about 800 rioters stormed past outmanned law enforcement authorities, taunted them with racial and political epithets, fought hand-to-hand with police, sprayed chemical irritants at them and grabbed for their shields and sidearms.

Their testimony came on the first day of public hearings on the deadly mayhem more than six months ago, the worst attack in more than two centuries on the U.S. Capitol, often seen as the symbol of U.S. democracy. Seven Democratic members of the House of Representatives and two Republican lawmakers on a select committee listened raptly to the testimony– along with a national television audience. 

During the three and a half hour hearing, U.S. Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell testified, “The rioters called me a ‘traitor,’ a ‘disgrace,’ and shouted that I (an Army veteran and police officer) should be ‘executed.’”

“What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battlefield,” Gonell said. “We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process.”

Gonell said at one point he was crushed by the onslaught of rioters.

“I thought, “This is how I’m going to die,’” he said.

Washington police officer Michael Fanone told lawmakers, “I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm.”

“I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser,” he recalled. “I’m sure I was screaming but I don’t think I could hear even my own voice.”

In the months since the chaos at the Capitol, numerous Republicans, in attempting to exonerate Trump’s admonition to his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn the vote showing he had lost to Biden, have minimized the violence at the Capitol. One lawmaker said the 800 who entered the Capitol were much like tourists, while some Republicans voted against honoring police for protecting the Capitol.  

Republican leaders have maintained that the riot is being adequately investigated by law enforcement agencies and other congressional committees, arguing that the latest investigation is simply a political exercise designed to cast the Republican Party in a poor light ahead of mid-term elections next year.

Pounding his hand on the witness table, Fanone exclaimed, “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”

Washington police officer Daniel Hodges, who was crushed between a door to the House floor and a door frame, said one rioter shouted at him, “You will die on your knees!”

He said police were unable to hold the line against the surge of protesters. He said one rioter “put his thumb in my eye and tried to gouge it out.”

As he was pinned in the doorway, Hodges said, “I screamed for help” and “thankfully, more and more police” came to his rescue.

U.S. Capitol policeman Harry Dunn, who is Black, said the rioters unleashed vile racial epithets at him after an exchange in which he acknowledged having voted for Biden.

“I’m still hurting from what happened that day,” Dunn said. He asked for a moment of silence to remember fellow officer Brian Sicknick, who helped defend the Capitol on January 6, but died of natural causes a day later.

One rioter was shot dead by a Capitol policeman during the mayhem, three rioters died of medical emergencies and two other police officers committed suicide in the ensuing days. More than 500 of the rioters have been charged with an array of criminal offenses.

Dunn said the memories of January 6 are “still not over for me, physically and emotionally,” and that he is undergoing psychological therapy.

But he had a last thought for the protesters: “You all tried to thwart democracy that day and you failed.”

Senate Republicans blocked creation of a bipartisan investigative commission to consider why and how the deadly chaos of January 6 unfolded.

Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who heads the Democratic-controlled chamber, appointed the nine members of the House select committee, including two vocal Republican Trump critics, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, over the objection of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

McCarthy had named five Republicans to the panel, but Pelosi, as was her prerogative, rejected two staunch Trump supporter –, Congressmen Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana — as biased against the investigation. McCarthy then withdrew his other three appointments.  

As he opened the hearing, the chairman of the panel, Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, said, “Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it. … Let’s be clear. The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie,” that Trump was defrauded out of a second four-year term in the White House.

Trump, to this day, makes unfounded claims that he, not Biden, was the legitimate winner.

McCarthy on Monday derided Cheney’s and Kinzinger’s participation on the Democratic-led investigative panel, calling them “Pelosi Republicans.” 

But Cheney, the daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, rebuffed the claim that the investigation was pointless.

“If those responsible are not held accountable,” she said at the outset of the hearing, “and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic.”

In the weeks ahead, the investigative panel could subpoena numerous witnesses, possibly including Trump, to testify about what they knew ahead of the confrontation and as it was unfolding.

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Russian officials have blocked access to the website of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny along with dozens of other websites run by allies of him. 

Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor said it blocked along with the other sites at the request of the prosecutor general. 

Included in the blocked sites is the website of Navalny’s top strategist, Leonid Volkov, along with the website for Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption, and the site for the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors union. 

The move comes ahead of September’s parliamentary elections, seen as a key part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to increase his support before a 2024 presidential election.  

Last month, a Russian court ruled that organizations linked to Navalny were “extremist,” barring them from operating and preventing people associated with them from running for public office.  

Navalny is Putin’s most prominent critic, and his organization has worked to expose corruption in Russia. 

He is currently serving a 2 1/2-year jail sentence for parole violations stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he says was politically motivated.  

Navalny has accused the Kremlin of trying to poison him with a nerve agent, an accusation the government denies. 

His arrest and jailing earlier this year sparked a wave of protests across Russia and have been condemned by Western nations. 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

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