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Facebook cryptocurrency reportedly in the works

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Facebook is “very serious” about launching its own cryptocurrency, according to a report from Cheddar.

It’s not the first time the idea of a Facebook coin has been floated, but the plans take on some greater meaning in light of Facebook’s recently reshuffled executive structure and newly formed blockchain group.

Blockchain, the decentralized record-keeping system, could help tackle some of Facebook’s most bothersome problems, like identity verification or advertising sales. It’s also the technology behind most cryptocurrencies, logging ownership and transfers of the digital tokens.

“Like many other companies Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team will be exploring many different applications,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.

It would likely be years before Facebook’s work on blockchain and cryptocurrency became anything material, Cheddar reports, citing anonymous sources. The business news site also reports Facebook has no plans to hold an ICO, or initial coin offering.

Read the full Cheddar report.

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China sanctions Pompeo, O’Brien, Azar and other Trump administration officials

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People on June 14, 2018 in Beijing, China.

Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Chinese government slapped sanctions on former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and former trade adviser Peter Navarro, along with other members of the Trump administration Wednesday.

“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” wrote the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

“China has decided to sanction 28 persons who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues,” the statement also said.

The Chinese government also named former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell and under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach.

Former national security adviser John Bolton and Stephen Bannon were also sanctioned Wednesday.

“These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China,” wrote the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

US President Donald Trump (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference following their meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Artyom Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images

The crumbling relationship between Washington and Beijing intensified under the Trump administration following an attempt from the world’s two largest economies to mend trade relations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua has previously said the Trump administration “is pressing the accelerator to trash China-U.S. relations.”

“Certain U.S. politicians are so irresponsible that they will say whatever needs to be said to make China a target,” she added last summer.

Her comments followed a blistering speech by then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr in which he accused the Chinese government of human rights abuses, espionage and economic blitzkrieg.

“The People’s Republic of China is now engaged in an economic blitzkrieg—an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower,” Barr said during a July 16 speech.

In June, O’Brien slammed China for a laundry list of offenses before saying that “the days of American passivity and naivety regarding the People’s Republic of China are over.”

Pompeo, who has previously described Huawei and other Chinese state-backed businesses as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.” In July, Pompeo announced that the U.S. was looking at banning TikTok as well as other Chinese social media apps, citing national security concerns.

The Trump administration has also squarely placed blame on China for the deadly health crisis caused by the coronavirus

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EU chief says Biden on the same page over Big Tech regulation

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Kamala Harris sworn in as vice president of the United States

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Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in Wednesday as the nation’s first female, Black and South Asian American vice president.

She took her oath moments before Joe Biden was set to be sworn in as the nation’s 46th president.

Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice, administered the vice presidential oath of office to Harris.

Harris and Biden on Inauguration Day inherit a country facing the Covid crisis, an economic downturn and demands for racial justice.

A daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris has made history throughout her career.

As a U.S. senator for California, Harris, 56, was the second Black woman and first South Asian American to serve in the upper chamber. Before her Senate tenure, Harris was the first female, Black and South Asian American attorney general of California. Harris also served as district attorney of San Francisco.

Harris ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary before joining Biden’s ticket. Her record as a prosecutor at times sparked criticism from progressive advocates for criminal justice reform, though Harris has said she sought reform from within those roles. Harris clashed with Biden during first Democratic debate, criticizing his record on racial justice issues.

An alumna of Howard University and member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Harris is also the first vice president to have graduated from a historically Black college and to be in a historically Black Greek letter organization.

After her own inauguration, Harris is set to swear in three barrier-breaking senators in her new role as president of the upper chamber.

Alex Padilla, appointed by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as Harris’ successor, will be the first Latino senator from the state. Following a competitive January runoff elections, the Rev. Raphael Warnock will be the first Black senator from Georgia and Jon Ossoff will be the first Jewish senator from the Peach State.

The new Democratic senators will create a 50-50 split between the two party caucuses in the Senate, giving Democrats a slim majority with Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

On the campaign trail, Harris often recalled a message her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, told her, “You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.” 

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