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National Govt & Politics
Huawei hit by US export controls, potential import ban
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Huawei hit by US export controls, potential import ban

Huawei hit by US export controls, potential import ban
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File
FILE - In this Thursday, March 7, 2019 file photo, the Texas state flag files outside the Huawei Technologies Ltd. business location in Plano, Texas. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Wednesday, May 15, 2019, apparently aimed at banning equipment from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from U.S. networks. It does not name specific countries or companies and gives the Department of Commerce 150 days to come up with regulations. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Huawei hit by US export controls, potential import ban

In a fateful swipe at telecommunications giant Huawei, the Trump administration issued an executive order Wednesday apparently aimed at banning its equipment from U.S. networks and said it was subjecting the Chinese company to strict export controls.

Huawei would be the largest business ever subjected to the controls, a law enforcement measure that requires it to obtain U.S. government approval on purchases of American technology, said Kevin Wolf, who had been the assistant secretary of commerce for export administration in the Obama administration.

"It's going to have ripple effects through the entire global telecommunications network because Huawei affiliates all over the planet depend on U.S. content to function and if they can't get the widget or the part or the software update to keep functioning then those systems go down," he said.

Asked if that could include barring Google from selling its Android operating system, which Huawei uses on its handsets, Wolf said it would be premature to say until he's seen a published order from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security to be sure of the scope.

The executive order declares a national economic emergency that empowers the government to ban the technology and services of "foreign adversaries" deemed to pose "unacceptable risks" to national security — including from cyberespionage and sabotage.

While it doesn't name specific countries or companies, it follows months of U.S. pressure on Huawei. It gives the Commerce Department 150 days to come up with regulations.

Washington and Beijing are locked in a trade war that partly reflects a struggle for global economic and technological dominance, and Wednesday's actions up the ante.

The export restriction is "a grave escalation with China that at minimum plunges the prospect of continued trade negotiations into doubt," said Eurasia Group analysts in a report.

"Unless handled carefully, this situation is likely to place U.S. and Chinese companies at new risk," the report said.

It appears the law invoked in Wednesday's executive order, the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, has never before been declared in a way that impacts an entire commercial sector. It has routinely been used to freeze the assets of designated terrorists and drug traffickers and impose embargoes on hostile former governments.

The order addresses U.S. government concerns that equipment from Chinese suppliers could pose an espionage threat to U.S. internet and telecommunications infrastructure. Huawei, the world's biggest supplier of network gear, has been deemed a danger in U.S. national security circles for the better part of a decade.

U.S. justice and intelligence officials say Chinese economic espionage and trade secret theft are rampant. They have presented no evidence, however, of any Huawei equipment in the U.S. or elsewhere being compromised by backdoors installed by the manufacturer to facilitate espionage by Beijing. Huawei vehemently denies involvement in Chinese spying.

Huawei said blocking it from doing business in the United States would hamper introduction of next-generation communications technology in which the company is a world leader.

"We are ready and willing to engage with the U.S. government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security," the company said in a statement.

The restrictions "will not make the U.S. more secure or stronger," the company said. It said the United States would be limited to "inferior yet more expensive alternatives," which would hurt companies and consumers.

A senior U.S. administration official, who briefed reports on condition of anonymity, said in a hastily arranged call that the order was "company and country agnostic" and would not be retroactive. Officials said "interim regulations" were expected before final rules were set but were vague on what that meant.

In a statement, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the executive order "a significant step toward securing America's networks."

"It signals to U.S. friends and allies how far Washington is willing to go to block Huawei," said Adam Segal, cybersecurity director at the Council on Foreign Relations. Many in Europe have resisted a fierce U.S. diplomatic campaign to institute a wholesale ban on the Chinese company's equipment in their next-generation 5G wireless networks.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a former telecoms executive, called the order "a needed step" because Chinese law compels Huawei to act as an agent of the state.

The order's existence in draft form was first reported by The Washington Post last June. Segal said that with U.S.-China trade talks at a standstill, the White House "felt the time had finally come to pull the trigger."

It is a "low-cost signal of resolve from the Trump administration," Segal said, noting that there is little at stake economically.

All major U.S. wireless carriers and internet providers had already sworn off Chinese-made equipment after a 2012 report by the House Intelligence Committee said Huawei and ZTE, China's No. 2 telecoms equipment company, should be excluded as enablers of Beijing-directed espionage.

Last year, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government and its contractors from using equipment from the Chinese suppliers.

The FCC also has a rule in the works that would cut off subsidies for companies that use any equipment banned as posing a national security threat. Huawei's handsets are virtually nonexistent in the U.S., and last week the FCC rejected a Chinese phone company's bid to provide domestic service .

Huawei says it supplies 45 of the world's top 50 phone companies. But only about 2 percent of telecom equipment purchased by North American carriers was Huawei-made in 2017.

The domestic economic impact will be restricted mostly to small rural carriers for whom Huawei equipment has been attractive because of its lower costs. That could make it more difficult to expand access to speedy internet in rural areas.

Blair Levin, an adviser to research firm New Street Research and a former FCC official, said the order is likely to widen the digital divide.

Roger Entner, founder of telecom research firm Recon Analytics, tweeted: "Banning Huawei in the U.S. has the FCC in a conundrum: Low cost Huawei equipment helps to build out broadband in rural America faster." He wondered if the FCC would subsidize small rural carriers.

Requests for comment from a group representing small carriers, the Competitive Carriers Association, were not immediately returned. Administration officials told reporters they will welcome comments from the telecommunications industry as regulations are set.

They did not say whether subsidies would be considered.

Early this year, the Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Huawei, a top company executive and several subsidiaries, alleging the company stole trade secrets, misled banks about its business and violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. The sweeping indictments accused the company of using extreme efforts to steal trade secrets from American businesses — including trying to take a piece of a robot from a T-Mobile lab.

The executive charged is Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company's founder. She was arrested in Canada last December. The U.S. is seeking to extradite her.

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The complex still stands on Raintree Way in Roswell, but is now known as River Crossing at Roswell, according to the Roswell Police Department.  >> Read more trending news Joshua’s family had moved to the apartment complex about three weeks before he was killed, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the day his body was found. Police officials initially thought he might have run away, even unwittingly, and was trying to get back to their former home.  A newspaper clipping shows Joshua’s mother, then known as Cherie Laws, told a reporter her son, a special education student at the now-shuttered Kimball Bridge Elementary School, was not one to wander from home. “He was easily frightened and intimidated,” Laws said of Joshua, who had a learning disability.  Douglas Laws echoed his wife’s sentiments just hours before his stepson’s body was found.  “Joshua was too frightened of everything, too dependent on his mother to be away from her long,” Douglas Laws told the newspaper. “He would not leave in any stressful situation.” Joshua had spent the day of his disappearance playing outside, both alone and with friends, police officials said.  “Joshua regularly played outside in the area of his apartment building and the other buildings in the immediate vicinity,” a post on the department’s Facebook page read. “He searched for turtles around the lake in the complex and played in the ‘fort’ in the woods behind his building.” Cherie Laws told the Journal-Constitution she first grew uneasy when, around 7 p.m. that evening, she heard the ice cream truck’s bell ringing outside, but her son never came running in for the dollar she had set aside for him to get himself a treat.  “I wondered then why he didn’t come in and ask for money to buy ice cream,” Laws said, according to the clipping.  Douglas Laws also could not find the boy when he went out to tell him to stay close to home because dinner would be ready soon, police officials said. The couple called police around 7:30 p.m. to report him missing. Neighbors told Joshua’s family he had stopped by their apartment around 7 p.m. to see if their son, a friend of his, could come outside to play, according to police. Because the boy’s family was having their own dinner, he could not.  Joshua told his friend he would wait for him at the fort, where they often played together.  “This is the last reported sighting of Joshua alive,” the police’s Facebook post read. Roswell police officers spent the next 48 hours searching the 60 acres of woods surrounding the apartment complex but did not find Joshua’s body in the first search, the Journal-Constitution reported at the time. His body was eventually discovered the afternoon of May 17, 1988, in a gully in the woods where the boy, described as a “nature nut,” loved to play.  See images of newspaper clippings covering the 1988 death of Joshua Harmon below. 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She and her husband later moved to Woodstock, too overcome by grief to stay in the apartment from which Joshua vanished.  “I keep hoping it will all turn out to have been a mistake that the body they found wasn’t really his and I’ll wake up one morning and find him back at home,” Laws told the Journal-Constitution a year after Joshua died. “I know that’s not going to happen, but I can’t help wishing.” Cherie Laws, who now goes by Cherie Harmon, wrote in an online memorial to her son that she and his father, Larry Harmon, later got back together. “I see a lot of you in him, and he sees a lot of you in me,” she wrote to her son. “It helps us keep you with us.” She described her son as the “most incredible and amazing child in the world.”  “He had a truly unconditional love for all people, and more so for all of God's creatures,” she wrote on the memorial page, which she created in 2007. “It was as if he was one with them, and would spend hours with any creature, however, his favorite were rabbits.  ‘We are looking for anything’ There were plenty of potential suspects in the early days of the investigation. 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He was arrested in neighboring Harris County after crashing Levinsohn’s truck on Interstate 185, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.  >> Read more trending news The longtime police officer, who was left in critical condition in the crash, was hospitalized at Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital for five days before being released Thursday and booked into the jail.  His attorney, Jennifer Curry, told the Ledger-Enquirer that Talley is being housed away from the general population while he continues to recover from his injuries. Curry said Talley, a police officer since 2002, would be at risk among fellow inmates he helped put behind bars.  Curry on Saturday waived her client’s preliminary hearing and entered a not guilty verdict on his behalf.  “Our goal today really was to protect families on both sides, especially Mr. Talley’s children,” Curry told the newspaper. “They didn’t ask for this, so I’m trying to respect their privacy.” Talley’s wife was among the scant number of people in the courtroom Saturday. Despite his marital status, Columbus police officials have characterized Levinsohn’s death as the result of a domestic situation. They have not confirmed a romantic relationship between her and her alleged killer, though some of Levinsohn’s neighbors told WTVM in Columbus that the pair had been dating for more than a year.  Curry declined to comment Saturday on the nature of her client’s relationship with Levinsohn, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.  “Again, my goal today was to protect his two daughters,” Curry said. “I’m hoping that both families have time to understand what happened and come to terms with where we’re at now.” Columbus police officials said officers were called to Levinsohn’s home around 8 p.m. Saturday by an unidentified caller who told 911 dispatchers someone had been injured or killed in the home. The caller identified the suspect in the slaying as an officer with the department.  The caller met officers at Levinsohn’s home and told them the suspect had been in a car crash in Harris County, the Ledger-Enquirer reported. Officers went inside the home, where they found Levinsohn dead of a single gunshot wound.  They also found the paramedic’s vehicle to be missing, the newspaper said.  Columbus police Chief Ricky Boren told the Ledger-Enquirer that investigators recovered a gun believed to be the murder weapon. It was not a department-issued weapon, Boren said.  Talley, a patrol sergeant and SWAT team member, is on leave without pay pending a resolution of the case, the newspaper said.  Clark Rowell, who lives across the street from the crime scene, told WTVM his neighbor’s relationship with Talley was not always a peaceful one.  “One time, they had a bad argument out there on the front porch,” Rowell told the news station. “He went to the door, she opened it up and she wouldn’t let him in.” Rowell said after Levinsohn slammed the door on him, Talley “stomped” to his patrol car and left.  Talley’s own personnel record shows that he was also handcuffed by colleagues called to Levinsohn’s home more than a year before her slaying. Records obtained by the Ledger-Enquirer show officers were called to the scene around 7:41 p.m. March 11, 2018. Talley had been drinking, according to the report obtained by the newspaper.  “Talley had to be placed in handcuffs due to a brief struggle while officers attempted to calm him down and speak with him about his personal issues,” the report stated.  Two on-duty supervisors had to be called to Levinsohn’s home to deal with the situation. According to the Ledger-Enquirer, Talley served a single day’s suspension in September related to the incident.  He was not arrested, the newspaper said. It was his first disciplinary action in nearly a decade and his previous disciplinary issues were minor ones.  A sergeant since November 2009, Talley briefly became a detective in 2015, but transferred back to the patrol division less than a year later. Aside from the handful of disciplinary actions against him, he was given “glowing” performance evaluations, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.  Supervisors in 2017 complimented his “initiative” and recommended he try for a promotion to lieutenant.  From all accounts, Levinsohn also excelled at her job as an advanced emergency medical technician with Care Ambulance, the Ledger-Enquirer reported. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan told the newspaper Levinsohn had been with the service for 12 years.  Bryan said her slaying came as a shock to those she worked with. “She was very dedicated to her job. It’s a hard job, both physically and mentally hard. She took it in stride, never showed any kind of negative mood towards one of the patients that she was transporting,” Bryan said. “She was always there to ease the patient’s pain and suffering, and she was just the kind of person you would want to see come to the scene to be with you.” He said Levinsohn was also a friendly face for first responders, who were often exposed to horrific situations.  “In our line of business, me as a coroner and her as an EMT, we see a lot, car accident victims, gunshot victims, stabbing victims, sick people,” Bryan said. “(Levinsohn) was a very emotionally stable person. She kept a level head the whole time, and I praised her for that quite often.” The coroner said he was taking extra care that Levinsohn’s body was treated with respect as her mother, Wylma Levinsohn, traveled home from Israel to see about burying her daughter, who friends described as her best friend.  According to Kelly Levinsohn’s obituary, her funeral was Sunday in Columbus.  Longtime friend Staci Warman described Kelly Levinsohn as a loyal friend with a smile that was “the most contagious part about her.” “She was the best friend anybody really could ever have,” said Warman, who last spoke to Levinsohn in April, the day after Levinsohn’s birthday.  At the time, Levinsohn was on a trip to Aruba with her mother, Warman said.  Kay Witt, who had known Levinsohn since her childhood, also spoke about the tropical vacation, saying that Wylma Levinsohn will be left with a treasured memory.  “They spent a week in Aruba and had an absolute ball, snorkeling, driving around, laying on the beach, eating,” Witt told the Ledger-Enquirer. “All the things that you would do on your fantasy vacation, they did.” Witt said Kelly Levinsohn was also her mother’s “rock” as her father, Bill Levinsohn, battled cancer before his 2017 death.  Besides her mother, Levinsohn is also survived by an older brother, Gary Levinsohn, who “loved her from the minute she was born and was so proud of what she became,” her obituary said. 

Washington Insider

  • The struggle between Democrats in the House and President Donald Trump over the Russia investigation intensified on Monday with the White House telling former Counsel Don McGahn not to honor a subpoena for  his testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, as Democrats said it was all part of a broad effort the President and the Trump Administration to stonewall Congress about the Mueller Report and other investigations. In a letter to Democrats, McGahn's lawyer William Burck said, 'the President has unambiguously directed my client not to comply with the Committee’s subpoena for testimony.' 'Under these circumstances, and also conscious of the duties he, as an attorney, owes to his former client, Mr. McGahn must decline to appear at the hearing,' the letter added. Democrats said they would still convene the hearing at 10 am EDT on Tuesday, as they held out the possibility of finding McGahn in contempt, just as the same committee voted to find Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to honor a subpoena for an unredacted version of the Mueller Report. Democrats wanted testimony from McGahn because of the information he gave to investigators for the Mueller investigation, in which McGahn detailed repeated demands by President Trump to oust the Special Counsel. While President Trump has sternly denied that he ever ordered McGahn to get rid of Mueller, the evidence offered by the Special Counsel painted a different picture. McGahn testified that the President called him on June 17, 2017 - about a month after Mueller had been named as Special Counsel - and pressed for Mueller to be ousted, an order that McGahn repeatedly ignored. On page 300 of the Mueller Report, 'McGahn recalled the President telling him 'Mueller has to go' and 'Call me back when you do it.''  The Mueller Report described McGahn - who reportedly answered questions for 30 hours over multiple interviews - as a 'credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate.' McGahn also claimed in his testimony that once news of the President's request was reported in the press, Mr. Trump then pressed McGahn to dispute the veracity of the story that the President had pressed for Mueller's ouster. McGahn refused to do what the President had asked. The White House based its refusal for McGahn to testify on a new 15 page legal opinion from the Justice Department, which said McGahn - as a former top adviser - was under no requirement to testify before Congress. 'The President's immediate advisers are an extension of the President and are likewise entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional testimony,' the Office of Legal Counsel opinion stated. In summary, the Justice Department said simply, 'we conclude that Mr. McGahn is not legally required to appear before the Committee.' Democrats denounced the decision, and charged it was just adding more evidence to what they say is a cover up, focused on obscuring obstruction of justice by President Trump. 'This move is just the latest act of obstruction from the White House that includes its blanket refusal to cooperate with this Committee,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 'The President is intimidating witnesses and stonewalling the American people and the rule of law. Congress and the American people deserve answers from Mr. McGahn,' said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA). '(T)he White House Counsel serves interests of the American people, not the President, and their conversations do not have the protection of blanket attorney-client privilege,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). 'It’s pretty clear what the Trump Administration is doing here,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), 'they’re trying to hide the facts from the American people.' Democrats have promised to move forward to hold McGahn in Contempt of Congress - but there has also been discussion of other penalties, from what is known as 'inherent contempt' - which could involve levying fines against those who refuse to cooperate with investigations by Congress. 'The cover-up continues,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 'And we will fight it.