Monday, February 17, 2020

A Trump appointee at the CIA urged the Justice Department to...

The CIA’s top lawyer sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on the now-famous whistleblower’s complaint about President Donald Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. And no, that lawyer isn’t some deep-state conspiracist out to thwart the president: She’s a Trump appointee. According to NBC News on Friday, CIA general counsel Courtney Simmons Elwood and another top official called the Justice Department on August 14 to make a criminal referral — weeks before the whistleblower complaint had become public. “On that call, Elwood and John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser to the White House National Security Council, told the top...

The Hong Kong government tried to ban face masks. Protesters are...

The Hong Kong government has invoked a colonial-era law to ban face masks in an attempt to crack down on the months-long protest movement that’s gotten increasingly tense in recent weeks. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, announced the ban Friday. “The decision to enact an anti-mask law is not easy one, but it is a necessary decision considering the situation today,” Lam said at a press conference. The law, which went into effect Saturday at midnight local time, bans protesters from wearing any sort of mask or face covering, including paint, at any public gathering, including both lawful protests...

Greta Thunberg is traveling from Canada to Chile without leaving the...

Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg is on the move through North America after leading the largest climate protest in history, a pair of strikes last month that drew more than 4 million into the streets around the world. “So happy to say that the following weeks I’ll travel slowly through the North American continent, moving southwest and then eventually through South America towards Santiago,” the Chilean capital where a UN climate change conference is planned for early December, she wrote on Facebook recently. At that meeting, countries are expected to nail down how they plan to meet their obligations...

Read: Democrats release Ukraine scandal texts from State Department officials

On Thursday night, House Democrats released a series of text messages involving State Department officials related to the Trump-Ukraine scandal. The texts involve, at various points, Kurt Volker (then the US special representative for Ukraine), Gordon Sondland (the US ambassador to the European Union), Bill Taylor (the top US diplomat at the US embassy in Ukraine), Rudy Giuliani, and Andrey Yermak (an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky). You can read the texts below, or at this link.

The Good Place’s final season looks a lot like its first...

“A Girl from Arizona, Part 2” cements what last week’s Good Place season premiere suggested: The show’s final season is going to be a spin on its first, where the characters we know and love (as well as the audience) are in on everything from the first. (Tangent: It’s really remarkable how careful The Good Place was to not become dominated by twists after it pulled off such an amazing one in its season one finale. Most shows would have given in to the temptation!) This episode contains some great signs that a spin on season one might work. Eleanor’s...

Vox Sentences: Internet down and protesters out in Iraq

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions. Migrant DNA collection program to expand; Iraqi protests met with force. The Trump administration wants migrants’ DNA Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images The Trump administration plans to move forward with a program that collects and tests DNA from immigrants in federal detention, raising concerns about violations of privacy. A 2005 law requires federal law enforcement to collect DNA from...

Facebook’s commitment to privacy is about to be tested

Mark Zuckerberg says he’s convinced that the future of Facebook is private. He now has the first test of that conviction. The Justice Department is preparing to ask Facebook to slow down its plan to encrypt its messaging services across its platforms, setting up a possible standoff between Facebook and the federal government. Facebook has made this encryption a centerpiece of its corporate future, both as a business strategy but also as a way to position Facebook as friendly to its users amid new scrutiny from privacy activists and regulators. But it turns out that the federal government isn’t happy with...

Why HR is powerless to effectively handle sexual harassment claims

Nobody goes looking for a meeting with HR. That had always been Maya’s* thinking. Even after she was sexually harassed by wealthy board members on the job, rather than report the incidents to HR, she did what so many employees do — she tried to manage it. “I side-stepped hugs and squeezes, redirected conversations when it turned to my appearance, and politely ask not to be called ‘doll’ or ‘kitten,’” she told me. However, when a board member made sexual advances to a college intern on her team, Maya felt differently. She was compelled to report the incident to HR. Unfortunately,...

One of Peter Thiel’s closest aides might run for the US...

One of Peter Thiel’s closest associates is seriously considering running for US Senate, a bid that would test Thiel’s political heft against a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump. Blake Masters, one of Thiel’s senior-most aides, is preparing for a possible GOP primary challenge to Martha McSally, the Arizona senator appointed earlier this year to replace John McCain, Masters confirmed to Recode on Wednesday. The Arizona Republic first reported that Masters is laying the groundwork to run for office. “We need to keep this seat Republican. And we need a GOP that puts voters before donors. Martha McSally lost a winnable...

Vox Sentences: Who’s in charge in Peru?

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions. Harvard wins lawsuit against its affirmative action program; Peru faces leadership and constitutional crisis. A win for affirmative action (for now) Steven Senne/AP A district court ruled the Harvard University admissions process doesn’t discriminate against Asian Americans — the first step on a long road that’s likely to end with another challenge to affirmative action at the...