Tanden, his nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, was criticized by both the left and right.
6h agoNew Zealand regulator charges 13 parties over White Island eruption tragedyNew Zealand's workplace regulator has filed charges against 13 parties following an investigation into a volcanic eruption on White Island in 2019 which killed 22 people. A surprise eruption on the White Island, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, on Dec 9 last year, killed 22 people and injured dozens. Majority of them were tourists from countries like Australia, the United States and Malaysia who were part of a cruise ship that was travelling around New Zealand.
16h agoExclusive: Syrian general accused of war crimes 'given new life in Europe by Mossad'A senior Syrian official denied asylum in France due to concerns of possible involvement in war crimes was spirited out of the country with help from the Israeli secret service Mossad to Austria, where he was helped to start a new life, a top judicial source has told The Telegraph. Brigadier General Khaled al-Halabi, who was chief of Syrian intelligence in Raqqa from 2009 until 2013, is also the target of a legal complaint for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, a Telegraph investigation can reveal. During his time in charge of the Raqqa facility, prisoners were allegedly murdered, tortured and sexually assaulted, according to the complaint filed in a Western country and which has been sent to the Paris prosecutor. Mr Halabi vehemently denies any wrongdoing. In spite of human rights concerns about his unit, France’s spy agency, Direction Générale de la Ssécurité Extérieure, (DGSE), helped the general secretly leave Syria and travel to France in 2014 at a time when Syria’s war against rebel forces was in the balance, it is alleged. He was, however, then denied asylum in France due to concerns that his senior position in the Syrian regime meant he could have been involved in criminal acts, The Telegraph has learned. That prompted the French War Crimes Unit to launch a preliminary investigation in 2017. In spite of this, he was then mysteriously exfiltrated from France by Israeli intelligence agents to Austria, where he was successfully granted asylum, according to the judicial source and French and Austrian media. The agencies involved allegedly believed Mr Halabi could play an important role in the future of Syria. “It's clear he is a big fish,” said one senior French judicial source. “We wanted to quiz him about all the testimonies we have gathered. It is very frustrating as he was a top target." How Mr Halabi obtained asylum when France turned him down and whether he should have been prosecuted has sparked a national uproar in Austria in recent weeks, with the media revealing an apparent power struggle between the country’s domestic intelligence agency, which allegedly helped the general, and its justice ministry which sought to investigate him. In 2013, when Mr Halabi defected, it was not clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would prevail over the rebels who had been fighting to overthrow him since 2011. Russia, which would provide decisive help to the embattled president, would not enter the war for another two years. That October, as Raqqa became the first provincial capital to fall to the rebels, Mr Halabi slipped out of the city among a stream of refugees headed to Turkey. By early 2014 he had made it to France with the help of French agents who may have believed the senior official could be a useful asset in the event of President Assad’s downfall, the senior French judicial source told The Telegraph. “This was also just a few months before the 2015 terror attacks in Paris and the DGSE was desperate to get their hands on any leads about the Islamic State, which they knew was actively planning strikes,” said the source, who asked their name be withheld. “If they brought him here it was no doubt because they considered him a usable source,” said one senior French military intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. However, Mr Halabi’s request for asylum in France was declined in 2015, with the French Office for Refugees, OFPRA, citing a specific provision of the Geneva Convention, 1F. This denies an individual refugee status when there are serious reasons to consider he may have committed a “crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, or a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge”. He could not be deported however as Syria was a country at war. At this point, the Israeli and Austrian intelligence services are alleged to have intervened on Mr Halabi’s behalf.
1d agoWhy waiters give Black customers poor serviceThe Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work. The big ideaWhen Black diners get poorer service from wait staff and bartenders than white customers, it’s more likely because of racial bias than the well-documented fact that they tip less, according to a new survey I recently published. To reach that conclusion, my colleague Gerald Nowak and I recruited over 700 mostly white full-service restaurant servers and bartenders to review a hypothetical dining scenario that randomly involved either white or Black customers. We then asked them to predict the tip that the table would leave, the likelihood that the table would exhibit undesirable dining behaviors and the quality of service they would likely provide the table. We also asked participants to fill out a survey to learn how frequently they observed anti-Black expressions of bias in their workplaces and to elicit if they harbored their own prejudices toward African Americans. Servers who either held prejudices toward African Americans, worked in a restaurant where racist remarks were frequently heard or both were significantly more likely to predict that the table with Black customers would not only tip them less but also display uncivil, demanding and dishonest behaviors. As a result, these servers also reported that they would give worse service to the Black table relative to the white one. We found no evidence of racially disparate treatment except when one of those two conditions was present: server prejudice or racist workplace words and behaviors. Why it mattersThe link between bias and actual discrimination is widely assumed – but rarely documented – to be responsible for the mistreatment that Black Americans continue to experience while engaging in a host of routine activities. Besides providing new evidence of this connection, our results also have important practical implications. Because surveys show that Black customers are less familiar than white people with the 15%-20% tipping norm, they do tend to tip less. Servers are thus thought to be economically motivated to give preferential service to white customers who they believe are more likely to reward their efforts. In response, some have suggested that voluntary tipping be abolished or steps be taken to eliminate the Black-white tipping difference by increasing Black customers’ familiarity with tipping norms.However, we did not find evidence of stereotyping and service discrimination in the absence of anti-Black bias, which suggests the solution to this problem is in addressing racial prejudices in the restaurant industry. What still isn’t knownA drawback of our study is that we asked servers how they would think and behave under hypothetical, controlled and experimentally manipulated conditions. We can’t know for sure how this process would unfold when servers wait on actual white and Black customers. Doing so would be very challenging. And because our participants weren’t randomly selected, our ability to know how well they reflect the attitudes and workplaces of all servers and bartenders nationwide is limited. Nonetheless, prior research has documented a relationship between what people say they would do under hypothetical conditions and what they actually do when confronted with similar situations, which gives us some confidence in the real-world application of our results. What’s nextRight now, we’re examining racial discrimination on the other side of the table by studying restaurant customers’ tendency to discriminate against Black servers by tipping them less than white ones. By administering a survey experiment to over 2,000 restaurant customers across the nation, our ongoing research project aims to further document this form of consumer racial discrimination. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Zachary Brewster, Wayne State University.Read more: * Racial discrimination ages Black Americans faster, according to a 25-year-long study of families * How anti-black bias in white men hurts black men’s healthZachary Brewster does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. headtopics.com
4h agoTrump’s Disgraceful EndgamePresident Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14.This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to Joe Biden on November 3.Behind in almost all the major polls, Trump stormed within a hair’s breadth in the key battlegrounds of winning reelection, and his unexpectedly robust performance helped put Republicans in a strong position for the post-Trump-presidency era. This is not nothing. But the president can’t stand to admit that he lost and so has insisted since the wee hours of Election Night that he really won -- and won “by a lot.”There are legitimate issues to consider after the 2020 vote about the security of mail-in ballots and the process of counting votes (some jurisdictions, bizarrely, take weeks to complete their initial count), but make no mistake: The chief driver of the post-election contention of the past several weeks is the petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people. The Trump team (and much of the GOP) is working backwards, desperately trying to find something, anything to support the president’s aggrieved feelings, rather than objectively considering the evidence and reacting as warranted.Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged has withstood the slightest scrutiny. In particular, it’s hard to find much that is remotely true in the president’s Twitter feed these days. It is full of already-debunked claims and crackpot conspiracy theories about Dominion voting systems. Over the weekend, he repeated the charge that 1.8 million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania were mailed out, yet 2.6 million were ultimately tallied. In a rather elementary error, this compares the number of mail-ballots requested in the primary to the number of ballots counted in the general. A straight apples-to-apples comparison finds that 1.8 million mail-in ballots were requested in the primary and 1.5 million returned, while 3.1 million ballots were requested in the general and 2.6 million returned.Flawed and dishonest assertions like this pollute the public discourse and mislead good people who make the mistake of believing things said by the president of the United States.Elected Republicans have generally taken the attitude that the president should be able to have his day in court. It’s his legal right to file suits, of course, but he shouldn’t pursue meritless litigation in Hail Mary attempts to get millions of votes tossed out. This is exactly what he’s been doing, it’s why reputable GOP lawyers have increasingly steered clear, and it’s why Trump has suffered defeat after defeat in court.In its signature federal suit in Pennsylvania, the Trump team argued that it violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution for some Pennsylvania counties to let absentee voters fix or “cure” their ballots if they contained an error while other counties didn’t. It maintained that it was another constitutional violation for Trump election observers not to be allowed in close proximity to the counting of ballots. On this basis, the Trump team sought to disqualify 1.5 million ballots and bar the certification of the Pennsylvania results or have the Pennsylvania General Assembly appoint presidential electors.By the time the suit reached the Third Circuit, it had been whittled down to a relatively minor procedural issue (whether the Trump complaint could be amended a second time in the district court). The Trump team lost on that question, and the unanimous panel of the Third Circuit (in an opinion written by a Trump appointee) made it clear that the other claims lacked merit as well. It noted that the suit contained no evidence that Trump and Biden ballots or observers were treated differently, let alone evidence of fraud. Within reason, it is permissible for counties to have different procedures for handling ballots, and nothing forced some counties to permit voters to cure flawed absentee ballots and others to decline to do so.Not that it mattered. The court pointed out that the suit challenged the procedures to fix absentee ballots in seven Democratic counties, which don’t even come close to having enough cured ballots to change the outcome in the state; the counties might have allowed, at most, 10,000 voters to fix their ballots, and even if every single one of them voted for Biden, that’s still far short of Biden’s 80,000-plus margin in the state.The idea, as the Trump team stalwartly maintains, that the Supreme Court is going to take up this case and issue a game-changing ruling is fantastical. Conservative judges have consistently rejected Trump's flailing legal appeals, and the justices are unlikely to have a different reaction.Trump’s most reprehensible tactic has been to attempt, somewhat shamefacedly, to get local Republican officials to block the certification of votes and state legislatures to appoint Trump electors in clear violation of the public will. This has gone nowhere, thanks to the honesty and sense of duty of most of the Republicans involved, but it’s a profoundly undemocratic move that we hope no losing presidential candidate ever even thinks of again.Getting defeated in a national election is a blow to the ego of even the most thick-skinned politicians and inevitably engenders personal feelings of bitterness and anger. What America has long expected is that losing candidates swallow those feelings and at least pretend to be gracious. If Trump’s not capable of it, he should at least stop waging war on the outcome.
Biden inauguration live updates: Biden takes over at White House
Updates during the transition from the Trump to Biden administrations -- and about a second Senate impeachment trial.