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Human Rights Observatory
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that Venezuela had received $735 million in the first day of a pre-sale of the country's "petro" cryptocurrency, aimed at pulling the country out of an economic tailspin. Maduro is hoping the petro will allow the ailing OPEC member to skirt U.S. sanctions as the bolivar currency plunges to record lows and it struggles with hyperinflation and a collapsing socialist economy. Blockchain experts have warned the petro is unlikely to... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
South Korea said on Wednesday it is signing free trade agreements with five Central American nations aimed at boosting market access for the Korean auto sector and electronics makers. Trade minister Kim Hyun-chong will meet representatives from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama in Seoul on Wednesday to sign five separate bilateral pacts which will eliminate duties on about 95 percent of traded goods and services, Korea’s trade ministry said in an e-mailed... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
South Korea's cryptocurrency industry is anticipating much better times as the market regulator changes tack from its tough stance on the virtual coin trade, promising instead to help promote blockchain technology. The regulator said Tuesday that it hopes to see South Korea — which has become a hub for cryptocurrency trade — normalize the virtual coin business in a self-regulatory environment. "The whole world is now framing the outline [for cryptocurrency] and therefore [the... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
The late Ursula K. Le Guin was among the recipients of literary honors presented Tuesday night by PEN America. The science fiction/fantasy author’s “No Time to Spare” won a $10,000 prize for best essay writing. Le Guin died last month at age 88 and her award was announced during a New York ceremony hosted by PEN, the literary and human rights organization.  Poet Layli Long Soldier’s debut collection “Whereas” won a $75,000 award for the year’s best book. Jenny Zhang’s story... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Expand IRPT activist Namunjon Sharipov in Istanbul, Turkey. On February 16, 2018, Tajik officials, with the apparent acquiescence of Turkish authorities,  forcibly and extra-judicially returned him from Istanbul to Tajikistan, where he faces torture and other ill-treatment. © 2016 Sharipov family (Bishkek) – Tajik officials, with the apparent acquiescence of Turkish authorities, have forcibly and extra-judicially returned a political activist from Istanbul to Tajikistan, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. The activist, Namunjon Sharipov, faces a real risk of… (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sea levels will rise between 0.7 and 1.2 meters (27-47 inches) in the next two centuries even if governments end the fossil fuel era as promised under the Paris climate agreement, scientists said Tuesday. Early action to cut greenhouse gas emissions would limit the long-term rise, driven by a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica that will re-draw global coastlines, a German-led team wrote in the journal Nature Communications. Sea-level rise is a threat to cities from Shanghai to... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Who says robots formed by artificial intelligence can't know love? At Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California, a robot named Bina48 — who looks and sounds human — attended and completed a class called "Philosophy of Love." Bina's mind does not operate exactly like a human mind, and in fairness to her, she is not equipped with the most highly developed AI technology available. Still, Bina48 expresses some understanding of the world around... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Polish Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin on Tuesday backed a call for building a "Polokaust" museum to commemorate Poles killed by the Nazis during World War II. This month Poland sparked international criticism, including from Israel and the United States, when it approved a law that imposes jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust. Some three million Jews who lived in pre-war Poland were murdered by the Nazis during their occupation of the... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the creation of a task force to examine how his Justice Department can better combat a wide cross section of global cyberthreats, including efforts to interfere with elections or damage critical infrastructure. The announcement on Tuesday of the new task force came amid renewed concerns about how Russia and foreign adversaries may attempt to use cybertools to disrupt the 2018 midterm elections, which are less than 10 months... (Full Story)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
The U.S. administration is looking to tighten some regulations involving guns, with President Donald Trump formally recommending the banning of devices that turn firearms into more lethal weapons. The White House is also saying age restrictions are on the table for the most popular semi-automatic rifle in the country. The administration indicated it is open to universal background checks for gun owners.   “Just a few moments ago, I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general... (Full Story)
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