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US GOP targets Silicon Valley’s ‘woke’ politics in bank rescue backlash



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Below: A consumer advocacy group urges enforcement against Twitter, and a new filing claims social media executives were aware of their platforms’ potential harms to children. First:

GOP targets Silicon Valley’s ‘woke’ politics in bank rescue backlash

The tech sector’s political leanings have emerged as a flash point in the debate over the decision to rescue Silicon Valley Bank from collapse, with Republicans accusing the Biden administration of “bailing out” a “woke” institution with ties to liberal policy initiatives.

Federal regulators announced Sunday that depositors at the bank — known for serving venture capitalists and start-ups from the technology industry — would still have access to their funds after its crash triggered fears of a broader economic downturn, as my colleagues reported.


President Biden said in a televised address early Monday that the actions by financial regulators mean that small businesses “can breathe easier knowing they’ll be able to pay their workers and pay their bills, and their hard-working employees can breathe easier as well.”

But the decision to aid one of Silicon Valley’s biggest banks is drawing blowback from conservatives, who have long accused Democrats of being too cozy with the tech sector, even as party leaders have pushed for tighter regulation.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) criticized the move in an interview with Fox News on Sunday, calling Silicon Valley Bank “one of the most woke banks” for embracing considering social, environmental and corporate governance factors in investing — an approach that has become a common target of conservative ire.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) suggested that federal regulators were seeking to “bail out Silicon Valley billionaires.” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) called it a “woke Silicon Valley bailout.” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tweeted that “Biden is bailing out one of Big Tech’s favorite banks.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) took the critique a step further, suggesting in a tweet that the move served to benefit Democratic political donors in Silicon Valley.

The Treasury Department referred a request for comment to a joint interagency statement saying the response “will ensure that the U.S. banking system continues to perform its vital roles of protecting deposits and providing access to credit to households and businesses.”

The rebukes highlight how appearing to lock arms with Silicon Valley can be politically hazardous in Washington, even during significant economic upheaval.

And it follows a broader trend of Republicans attacking Democrats over allegations they are catering to the whims of leaders in Silicon Valley, and vice versa.

Comer’s remarks drew backlash online after it was revealed that an investment firm led by Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and a major Republican donor, withdrew millions of dollars from Silicon Valley Bank as it spiraled downward last week, according to Bloomberg News.

Twitter chief Elon Musk, another prominent GOP ally in the tech sector, separately suggested last week he was “open to the idea” of buying the bank and folding it into Twitter.

Other GOP officials, meanwhile, have voiced support for the Biden administration’s response.

After federal regulators unveiled their plan on Sunday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) tweeted, “Right decision.” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said in a statement that he has “confidence in our financial regulators and the protections already in place to ensure the safety and soundness of our financial system.”

Biden and other Democratic leaders have responded to the bank’s collapse by renewing calls for more federal guardrails on the financial sector.

The president tweeted Monday that he plans to ask “Congress and banking regulators to strengthen the rules for banks to make it less likely that this kind of bank failure happens again.”

And they have taken aim at Republican leaders for leading efforts to loosen banking regulations during the Trump administration, suggesting they could have helped avert a financial crisis.

“During the Obama-Biden Administration, we placed tough requirements on banks to make sure the crisis we saw in 2008 wouldn’t happen again,” Biden said in a post. “Unfortunately, my predecessor rolled some of those back.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an outspoken critic of the deregulatory push under Trump, wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Monday that the bank’s CEO Greg Becker “was one of the ‌many high-powered executives who lobbied Congress to weaken the law.”

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Consumer group urges FTC, DOJ action on Twitter

Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen wrote a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan and Attorney General Merrick Garland urging enforcement action against Twitter for alleged violations of its 2011 privacy and security consent decree.

Public Citizen asked if Twitter filed a sworn compliance notice with the FTC after Elon Musk acquired the platform in October, as well as whether the Justice Department and FTC believe Twitter still maintains a comprehensive privacy and security framework after a mass layoff of data governance and security staff.

The FTC for months has been investigating Twitter as part of a broader probe into the company’s privacy practices, following a whistleblower complaint accusing the company of violating a 2011 settlement and letting several security processes lapse.

More recently, the investigation has expanded following Musk’s takeover as the layoffs of key staff may affect the company’s ability to uphold privacy requirements for the FTC. Following the departure of a key Twitter moderation and safety executive in November, the FTC said it was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.”

FTC spokesperson Doug Farrar said they received the letter but declined additional comment. The Justice Department did not return a request for comment.

Meta aware of harm to young users, filing claims

New claims unveiled in a court filing suggest employees at Meta and ByteDance were warned of their platforms’ harms to children and teenagers but disregarded or undermined them, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Bloomberg News’s Joel Rosenblatt reports.

The claims were made previously but were redacted from public view, Rosenblatt writes. The filing is one of many in Oakland, Calif., that alleges major social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube contributed to depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders among young people.

The new filing shows that TikTok parent ByteDance was aware that its viral challenges were more likely to be tried by young people because of their inability to fully form and process risks. Similarly, the filing shows Zuckerberg was warned of these issues on Facebook and Instagram, and that the problems “will follow us into the Metaverse,” the report says.

The unsealed filing also claims that Meta defunded its mental health team instead of investing further resources into addressing children’s use of Instagram.

Meta in the report said the details surrounding the investments into children’s mental health are false, while representatives from Snap and TikTok did not return a request for comment.

Signature Bank collapse likely to increase regulator scrutiny of crypto

The collapse of Signature Bank, which is based in New York, is poised to turn regulators’ heads, our colleagues Pranshu Verma and Jacob Bogage report.

Signature Bank’s collapse, due in part to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last week, is a symbolic blow to the digital assets industry because the institution helped provide legitimacy to the cryptocurrency world, experts told Pranshu and Jacob.

“It’s very dark days at present for crypto,” said Yesha Yadav, who studies digital financial regulation and is an associate dean at Vanderbilt University Law School in the report.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation intervened to protect the bank’s clients’ assets, though the impact on other operations in the bank remains unclear due to Signature’s large presence in processing cryptocurrency transactions.

Rant and rave

The debate continues over whether the Silicon Valley Bank rescue was a bailout. Our colleague Jeff Stein:

New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin:

Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management:

Agency scanner

Court revives Apple, Google challenge to U.S. patent-review policy (Reuters)

Inside the industry

ChatGPT and generative AI are booming, but the costs can be extraordinary (CNBC)

Microsoft strung together tens of thousands of chips in a pricey supercomputer for OpenAI (Bloomberg News)

Competition watch

Qualcomm looks to Europe court again to overturn antitrust fine (Reuters)

DOJ has eyes on AI, antitrust chief tells SXSW crowd (Axios)

Workforce report

Here are the Meta jobs expected to be cut (Naomi Nix)

Silicon Valley Bank customers breathe sigh of relief as they access accounts (Rachel Lerman and Lisa Bonos)

HSBC rescues British arm of stricken Silicon Valley Bank (Reuters)

  • Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, and Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University, join Washington Post Live at 11 a.m. for The Post’s “Tech at Work” series to discuss how employees and companies can thrive in hybrid workplaces.
  • Matthew Gentzkow, Landau Professor of Technology and the Economy at Stanford University, speaks about digital addiction at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center at 3 p.m.
  • The Wall Street Journal commences its CIO Network Summit in Palo Alto, Calif., beginning at 11 a.m.
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What does Trump’s indictment mean for American politics?




Donald Trump is expected to become the first former or sitting US president to face criminal charges.

Donald Trump is expected to appear before a New York court on Tuesday, where he will become the first former or sitting US president to face criminal charges.

The charges have not been revealed yet, but a grand jury has been investigating a payment of $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an extramarital affair with Trump which he has always denied.


Media reports in the US suggest the former president may face other charges, too.

Trump denies all wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a witch-hunt by the Democrats, whom he accuses of trying to derail his 2024 election campaign.

Presenter: Laura Kyle

Adolfo Franco – Republican strategist and chief counsel to the chairman of the International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives

Claire Finkelstein – Law and philosophy professor at the University of Pennsylvania and faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law

Rina Shah – Founder of Rilax Strategies, a political and public affairs communications firm


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Ivanka Trump breaks silence on her dad’s indictment



Ivanka Trump breaks silence on her dad’s indictment

Presidential historian Tim Naftali discusses Ivanka Trump’s statement about her dad, former President Donald Trump, being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.

Ivanka Trump has broken her silence on her father’s criminal indictment to say that she is “pained” for both her parent and her country.

Donald Trump’s daughter finally released a brief statement on Instagram just before midday ET on Friday – around 18 hours after a grand jury voted to indict the former president on criminal charges over the 2016 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.


“I love my father and I love my country. Today I am pained for both,” she wrote.

“I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.”

On Thursday 30 March, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Mr Trump on criminal charges over hush money payments to adult film star Ms Daniels days just before the 2016 presidential election.

The unprecedented indictment makes Mr Trump the first current or former president to ever face criminal charges in the history of the US.

It is currently unclear what the charges are but multiple reports say that Mr Trump is facing more than 30 counts related to business fraud.

Court officials have confirmed that he will appear in court in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon for his arraignment.

The indictment is said to have caught Mr Trump off guard after it was announced that the grand jury was taking a weeks-long break from hearing the case.

As soon as the news broke, Mr Trump’s adult sons Eric Trump and Don Trump Jr leaped into action raging against what they described as “third world prosecutorial misconduct”.

“This is third world prosecutorial misconduct,” tweeted Eric. “It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.”

Meanwhile, Don Jr branded it a “weaponization of our Govt against their political enemies” on Twitter before railing against the indictment during a somewhat emotional appearance on his show Triggered with Don Jr that night.

“Let’s be clear, folks, this is like communist-level s***,” he said. “This is stuff that would make Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, it would make them blush.”

He later shared a tweet from another social media user which sought to claim that his father’s indictment was an attempt to distract from the school shooting which left six victims dead in Nashville earlier this week.

While Don and Eric both raged about the indictment, Ivanka – who worked as a top adviser in Mr Trump’s White House – was silent on the matter for many more hours.

Manhattan prosecutors have been investigating whether Mr Trump falsified the Trump Organization’s business records when his former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen made the payment of $130,0000 to Ms Daniels.

Prosecutors claim that the money was used to silence Ms Daniels about an alleged affair she had with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has long denied having an affair with the adult film star.

Mr Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Cohen was convicted of tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations related to the payments to Ms Daniels. He was sentenced to three years in prison.


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Pakistan’s political heavyweights take their street battles to the courts — as a weary nation looks on



Islamabad, Pakistan

Pakistan’s leaders and the man who wants to unseat them are engaged in high stakes political brinkmanship that is taking a toll on the collective psyche of the nation’s people – and many are exhausted.

As their politicians argue, citizens struggle with soaring inflation against an uptick in militant attacks. In major cities, residents regularly navigate police roadblocks for protests, school closures and internet shutdowns. And in the northern province of Kyber Pakhtunkhua, three people died last Thursday in a stampede to get subsidized bags of flour.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government is attempting to unlock billions of dollars in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund, a process delayed since last November – but some people aren’t prepared to wait.

Government statistics show a surge in the number of citizens leaving Pakistan – up almost threefold in 2022 compared to previous years.


Zainab Abidi, who works in tech, left Pakistan for Dubai last August and says her “main worry” is for her family, who she “really hopes can get out.”

Others, like Fauzia Rashif, a cleaner in Islamabad, don’t have the option to leave.

“I don’t have a passport, I’ve never left the country. These days the biggest concern is the constant expenses. I worry about my children but there really isn’t anywhere to go,” she said.

Experts say the pessimism about the Pakistan’s stability in the months ahead is not misplaced, as the country’s political heavyweights tussle for power.

Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistan ambassador to the United Nations, Britain and the United States, told CNN the “prolonged and intense nature” of the confrontation between Pakistan’s government and former Prime Minister Imran Khan is “unprecedented.”

She said the only way forward is for “all sides to step aside and call for a ceasefire through interlocutors to agree on a consensus for simultaneous provincial and national elections.”

That solution, however, is not something that can easily be achieved as both sides fight in the street – and in court.

How did we get here?

The current wave of chaos can be traced back to April 2022, when Khan, a former cricket star who founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI), was ousted from office in a vote of no confidence on grounds of mismanaging the economy.

In response, Khan rallied his supporters in street protests, accusing the current government of colluding with the military and the United States in a conspiracy to remove him from office, claims both parties rejected.

Khan survived an assassination attempt last November during one of his rallies and has since been beset with legal troubles spearheaded by Sharif’s government. As of March 21, Khan was facing six charges, while 84 have been registered against other PTI workers, according to the central police office in Lahore. However, Khan’s party claims that 127 cases have been lodged against him alone.

Earlier this month, attempts to arrest Khan from his residence in Lahore led to violent clashes with the police and Khan’s supporters camped outside. Khan told CNN the government was attempting to arrest him as a “pretext for them to get out of (holding) elections,” a claim rejected by information minister Mariyam Aurangzeb.

Days later, more clashes erupted when police arrived with bulldozers to clear the supporters from Khan’s home, and again outside Islamabad High Court as the former leader finally complied with an order to attend court.

Interior minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that the police operation intended to “clear no-go areas” and “arrest miscreants hiding inside.” Human Rights Watch accused the police of using “abusive measures” and urged all sides to show restraint.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif gives a news conference in February, 2023.

What is happening with elections?

General elections are due to be held this October, but Khan has been pushing for elections months earlier. However, it’s not even clear if he’ll be able to contest the vote due to the push by the government to disqualify him.

Disqualification will mean that Khan can’t hold any parliamentary position, become involved in election campaigns, or lead his party.

Khan has already been disqualified by Pakistan’s Election Commission for making “false statements” regarding the sale of gifts sent to him while in office – an offense under the country’s constitution – but it will take the courts to cement the disqualification into law. A court date is still to be set for that hearing.

Yasser Kureshi, author of the book “Seeking Supremacy: The Pursuit of Judicial Power in Pakistan,” says Khan’s “ability to mobilize support” will “help raise the costs of any attempt to disqualify him.”

However, he said if Pakistan’s powerful military – led by government-appointed former spy chief Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir, who Khan once fired – is determined to expel the former leader, it could pressure the judiciary to rule him out, no matter how much it inflames Khan’s supporters.

Pakistan army Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir attends a ceremony in Islamabad, on November 1, 2022.

“If the military leadership is united against Khan and committed to disqualifying and purging him, the pressure from the military may compel enough judges to relent and disqualify Khan, should that be the consensus within the military top brass,” said Kureshi, a lecturer in South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Qaiser Imam, president of the Islamabad Bar Association, disagreed with this statement. “Political parties, to save their politics, link themselves with certain narratives or perceptions which generally are never found correct,” he told CNN.

The Pakistan Armed Forces has often been blamed for meddling in the democratic process to maintain its authority, but in a statement last November outgoing army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, said a decision had been made in February that the military would not interfere in politics.

The army has previously rejected Khan’s claims it had anything to do with purported attempts on his life.

Legal maneuvers

Some say the government’s recent actions have added to perceptions that it’s trying to stack the legal cards against Khan.

This week, the government introduced a bill to limit the power of the Chief Justice, who had agreed to hear a claim by the PTI against a move to delay an important by-election in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populated province, and one considered a marker for the party most likely to win national leadership.

It had been due to be held on April 30, but Pakistan’s Election Commission pushed it to October 8, citing security concerns.

In a briefing to international media last Friday, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said the security and economic situation had deteriorated in the past two months, and it was more cost effective to hold the vote at the same time as the general election.

The decision was immediately condemned by Khan as an act that “violated the constitution.”

Lodhi, the former ambassador, has criticized the delay, tweeting that a security threat had been “invoked to justify whatever is politically expedient.”

The PTI took the matter to the Supreme Court, where it’s still being heard.

Some have accused Khan of also trying to manipulate the court system in his favor.

Kureshi said the judiciary is fragmented, allowing Khan to “venue-shop” – taking charges against him from one judge to seek a more sympathetic hearing with another.

“At this time it seems that even the Supreme Court itself is split on how to deal with Imran Khan, which helps him maneuver within this fragmented institutional landscape,” Kureshi said.

Supporters of Imran Khan chant slogans as they protest in Lahore, Pakistan, March 14.

What happens now?

The increasing acrimony at the highest level of politics shows no sign of ending – and in fact could prolong the uncertainty for Pakistan’s long-suffering people.

Khan is adamant the current government wants him dead without offering much tangible evidence. And in comments made to local media on Sunday, Sanaullah said the government once viewed Khan as a political opponent but now sees him as the “enemy.”

“(Khan) has in a straightforward way brought this country’s politics to a point where either only one can exist, either him or us. If we feel our existence is being negated, then we will go to whatever lengths needed and, in that situation, we will not see what is democratic or undemocratic, what is right and what is wrong,” he added.

PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said the comments were “offensive” and threatened to take legal action. “The statement … goes against all norms of civilized world,” he said.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, the director the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, says Khan’s popularity gave him “the power to cripple the country,” should he push supporters to show their anger in the street.

However, Mehboob said Khan’s repeated attempts to call for an early election could create even more instability by provoking the government to impose article 232 of the constitution.

That would place the country under a state of emergency, delaying elections for a year.

And that would not be welcomed by a weary public already tired of living in uncertain times.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the former army chief.


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