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US election offices to tighten security on November 8 By Reuters

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© Reuters. A protester holds a sign reading “Midterm Coming November 8, 2022” during an abortion rights protest in front of the Massachusetts State House after a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked, in preparation

By Andy Sullivan and Julia Hart

(Reuters) – When voters in Jefferson County, Colorado, cast their ballots in the November 8 midterm elections, they will see security guards stationed outside the busiest polling station.

At a polling station in Flagstaff, Arizona, voters will encounter bulletproof glass and need to press the bell to enter. In Tallahassee, Florida, election workers will be counting votes in a newly toughened building with walls made of ultra-strong Kevlar fibers.

Driven by a series of threats and intimidating behavior by conspiracy theorists and others alarmed by the defeat of former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, some election officials across the United States are fortifying their operations as they seek another divisive election.

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A Reuters poll of 30 polling stations found that 15 had beefed up security in various ways, from installing panic buttons to assigning additional security guards to active shooting and de-escalation training.

Reuters has focused on offices in states and offices on the battlefield that have openly expressed the need for security improvements, for example in testimony before Congress. While the poll doesn’t talk about the prevalence of such moves, it does show how election officials are responding to threats in parts of the country where elections are likely to be decided.

Election officials across the country said they are coordinating more closely with local law enforcement to respond quickly to the unrest. Many also trained workers to mitigate conflicts and evade active shooters.

Until recently, such threats to safety were viewed as hypothetical in a country that has seen few instances of election-related violence since the civil rights battles of the 1960s, when the presence of armed officers sometimes intimidated rather than reassured black voters.

Now those risks are seen as real, said Tammy Patrick, senior adviser at the Democracy Fund, a nonpartisan public interest group founded by entrepreneur and Democratic donor Pierre Omidyar.

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“The probability of it happening has definitely increased, so everyone is taking that into account,” she said.

Election officials in 12 states, including some who paid for moderate security improvements, said they did not receive enough money to make the required promotions due to bureaucratic hurdles.

In Champaign County, Illinois, writer Aaron Ammons likes to install metal detectors in his office, where visitors have photographed staff and laid out the space in a way he describes as threatening.

“It makes us feel like we’re being targeted, or that we’re not a priority in the same way our men and women are,” Ammons said. “And we’re on the front lines of democracy as they are.”

Ammons testified before Congress in August that he and his wife had received anonymous letters threatening their daughter’s life ahead of the 2020 election, and told Reuters he had recently seen someone film his home.

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The Justice Department said it has investigated more than 1,000 letters to election workers since the 2020 election, including more than 100 letters that may warrant prosecution. Reuters has documented the campaign of fear launched against election workers in a series of investigative reports.

Seven cases have been charged so far. The first ruling came Thursday, when a Nebraska man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for threatening an election official.

scared workers

One in five US election officials said they are unlikely to stay in their jobs until 2024, when Americans go to the polls again to elect a president, according to a survey by the Brennan Center for Justice released in March. They cited tension, attacks by politicians and imminent retirement as reasons.

Officials say the continuing bitterness of the 2020 election has also frightened many temporary workers who screen voters, count votes and perform other tasks that make elections possible.

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Omar Saber, one of the city’s three election commissioners, said Philadelphia has boosted election day workers’ salaries from $120 to $250 to help with hiring efforts that have been complicated by concerns about harassment, as well as a tight labor market. After receiving death threats in 2020, he himself changed his travel patterns.

“You have to keep your head spinning,” Saber said. “Sometimes I have nightmares thinking about it, someone is going up and causing me harm.”

Preventive measures

Many election officials blame misinformation, such as Trump’s unfounded allegations of election fraud in the 2020 election, for the escalation of threats.

Justin Roebuck, a Republican writer in conservative rural Ottawa, Michigan, said Trump’s speech “really poisoned the well,” inspiring other candidates to cast doubt on the election. In Michigan, Republican candidates for governor, attorney general and other positions have questioned the results of the 2020 election.

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The Roebuck office conducted a three-hour role-play exercise with local emergency management officials this year to plan how to respond to violent incidents. They also printed a brochure explaining voting procedures that workers could hand out to people to de-escalate confrontations with anyone who violently questioned their work.

In addition to adding Kevlar walls, the Leon County, Fla., election office has held active shooting training for its workers, installed bullet and bomb-resistant glass, and invested in security cameras and video file storage, according to election superintendent Mark Early, who says he receives hostile and sacrilegious calls from Frequent strangers.

“I have to worry about my workers leaving the building and going to their cars after dark,” he said.

Early pushed to bolster the security of his facility with a 2020 grant from the Center for Technology and Civil Life, a nonprofit group funded by Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But Florida and 25 other states have since banned such outside funding.

Funding money

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Election officials say they have struggled to get federal help with safety measures.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security said this year that the money would be available for election office security, but that money has been demanded by local police departments and others more familiar with these programs, said Amy Cohen, president of the National State Elections Association. directors.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the agency’s Election Threats Task Force has worked since its launch in 2021 to direct federal aid to local election offices for security enhancements, and urged Congress to provide more of that funding.

Some offices have paid for security improvements by cutting costs elsewhere. Jefferson County, Colorado, has reduced voter mailings to pay for four security guards who will monitor the four busiest polling sites in the weeks surrounding the election.

“It’s worth it for us, we have the ability to be proactive rather than reactive,” said George Stern, Jefferson County clerk.

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Your wallet is drained by subscriptions. Wall Street thank you.

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Try to calculate the number of subscriptions you have. We’ll wait.

There’s your Amazon Prime and your Spotify — the ones you married. How about that Apple TV+ subscription you’ve been meaning to cancel since you watched Ted Lasso… last summer? Scroll through your cellphone (it’s the same as another subscription) and you might find a Calm app your doctor recommended that you haven’t actually used, or a dating app you’ve used and hated, but will likely use again. There is a Chewy subscription to feed your dog DoorDash Subscribe to Feed Yourself and sign up for Peloton to work on the food you just ate. And of course, there’s also a Wall Street Journal subscription necessary to read this article.

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Norway’s $1.3 trillion wealth fund encourages traders to bet against the market

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(Bloomberg) — Nikolai Tangen, head of Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, wants traders to bet against the market.

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The world’s largest single owner of publicly traded companies, with nearly 1.3% of all listed shares, on Thursday outlined a three-year plan to limit losses that have accumulated in turbulent markets for 2022, exacerbated by soaring inflation and rising interest rates. and war in Europe. For the first time in its history, the wealth fund is looking forward to a future in which investments are a fraction of what they used to see.

This means that “excessive returns are more important than ever,” said Tangen, who has repeatedly told his countrymen to prepare for “extremely low returns.”

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Speaking in an interview Thursday, Tangen said the key to beating the benchmark would be to “push the fund to become more long-term, more ambivalent, and more active in terms of passive selection.” That is, “there are a lot of things we don’t want to own,” he said, without elaborating.

Built from the wealth of the North Sea in oil and gas, the Oslo-based fund has warned of a prolonged downturn in the markets after posting an average return of 6% over a quarter century of its existence. It lost 4.4% in the third quarter, which is equivalent to about $43 billion.

The fund has only one owner, unlike other large asset managers, is largely affiliated with the index, and invests according to a strict mandate from the Ministry of Finance. She strives to make the most of her limited field to try and beat the standard against which she is measured, something she has been able to achieve in eight of the past ten years.

“In a volatile world, you need to be more long-term and more ambivalent,” Tangen said. This is “because there will be more opportunities when you can do the opposite with everyone else.”

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He said the strategy was “playing into heightened geopolitical uncertainty” and a partial reversal of globalization, while the wealth fund released its three-year strategy. The plan sets goals such as investing in companies before they go public, voting more actively at shareholder meetings, improving cooperation between traders and portfolio managers, and exploiting periods of turmoil in real estate markets.

The fund also needs to be “more robust operationally,” Tangen said, including being prepared to counter cyberattacks. He has already said that openness and transparency are priorities to ensure that Norwegians understand why their rain fund is not growing as quickly as before.

The fund scaled back its participation in initial public offerings last year. In hindsight, he dodged a bullet, Tangen said, having bought fewer IPOs in “really frothy” markets and seeing those IPOs perform “really badly.” But that is likely to change as conditions improve.

“Selectively exploring this opportunity in the next strategy period is something we will look at,” said Equity CEO Pedro Furtado Reis. “Doing this allows us to get into the life cycle of the company earlier and hopefully as the company grows it will have a greater share of that value.”

The fund said it would consider investments in renewable energy storage and transmission in the future, which would expand the range of renewable infrastructure it would like to keep. It spent about 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) on a 50% stake in a Dutch offshore wind farm in 2021, but has not added anything else to its renewable energy infrastructure portfolio.

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“It’s competitive,” Tangen said of the wind and solar projects market. “There aren’t a lot of projects out there, they’re very competitive and the returns are very low. So we just want to increase the space. Generally in the investment world, the more options you have, the better.”

The broader scope in renewables also reflects an internal effort within the fund to improve collaboration between teams and identify new investment opportunities, said Daniel Baltazar, chief equity officer.

“We may have built a few more silos than we should have,” Balthazar said. “With the advent of Nikolai, there is a much greater effort to collaborate between teams. With this collaboration between teams, we can also search in a better way across value chains.”

(Updates in detail in sixth paragraph, comments with CEO in twelfth)

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Saudi Arabia signs Huawei agreement, deepening ties with China on Xi’s visit by Reuters

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© Reuters. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 7, 2022. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via Reuters

By Aziz El Yacoubi and Eduardo Baptista

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and China offered deep ties with a series of strategic deals on Thursday during a visit by President Xi Jinping, including one with tech giant Huawei, whose growing incursion into the Gulf region has raised US security concerns.

King Salman signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership agreement” with Xi, which has received a warm welcome in a country that has forged new global partnerships outside the West.

Xi’s car was escorted to the king’s palace by members of the Saudi Royal Guard riding Arabian horses and carrying the Chinese and Saudi flags, and he later attended a welcome banquet.

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The Chinese leader held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the oil giant, who greeted him with a warm smile. Xi ushered in a “new era” in Arab relations.

The offer stood in stark contrast to the quiet welcome given in July to US President Joe Biden, with whom relations have been strained by Saudi energy policy and the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi that overshadowed the embarrassing visit.

The United States, which has warily watched China’s growing influence and its relations with Riyadh at rock bottom, said Xi’s trip is an example of Chinese attempts to exert influence around the world and will not change US policy toward the Middle East.

A memorandum was agreed with the Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, regarding cloud computing and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities, despite the US discomfort with Gulf allies over potential security risks in using the Chinese company’s technology. Huawei has participated in building 5G networks in most of the Gulf countries despite the concerns of the United States.

Prince Mohammed, who fists instead of shaking hands with Biden in July, returned to the world stage after Khashoggi’s killing and has been defiant in the face of American anger over oil supplies and pressure from Washington to help isolate Russia.

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In a further polishing of his international credentials, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said on Thursday that the emir and the Emirati president had led a joint mediation effort to secure the release of American basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner exchange deal with Russia.

In an opinion piece published in Saudi media, Xi said he was on a “pioneering journey” to “open a new era of China’s relations with the Arab world, the Arab Gulf states and Saudi Arabia.”

Xi added that China and Arab countries “will continue to raise the banner of non-interference in internal affairs.”

China’s state broadcaster CCTV said that sentiment was echoed by the crown prince, who said his country opposed any “interference in China’s internal affairs in the name of human rights”.

Xi, who is set to meet other Gulf oil producers and attend a broader meeting of Arab leaders on Friday, said China will work to make those summits “landmark events in the history of China-Arab relations,” and that Beijing regards Riyadh as “an important force in the multipolar world.” .

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Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates have said that they will not pick sides among the world powers and that they are diversifying partners to serve national economic and security interests.

“reliable partner”

China, the world’s largest energy consumer, is a major trading partner of the Gulf states, and bilateral ties have expanded as the region pushes for economic diversification, raising US concerns about China’s participation in sensitive Gulf infrastructure.

The Saudi energy minister said on Wednesday that Riyadh will remain a “reliable and reliable” energy partner of Beijing and that the two countries will enhance cooperation in energy supply chains by setting up a regional hub in the kingdom for Chinese factories.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that Chinese and Saudi companies also signed 34 deals to invest in green energy, information technology, cloud services, transportation, construction and other sectors. It did not give figures, but said earlier that the two countries would conclude initial deals worth $30 billion.

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Tang Tianbo, a specialist on Middle East affairs at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations — a think tank affiliated with the Chinese government — said the visit will lead to further expansion of energy cooperation.

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