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Biden’s ‘quite vague’ crypto executive order hailed by sector | Crypto News

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The Biden administration’s long-awaited executive order for government agencies to take a closer look at issues surrounding the crypto market is being celebrated by industry participants despite it lacking a clear path on possible regulation.

“The executive order is quite vague. They still talk a lot about the need to keep restrictions on this asset class,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co., said. “However, it is still the kind of signal that the Washington, D.C., establishment is becoming more comfortable with cryptos and that is bullish.”

Bitcoin rallied as much as 11% on Wednesday. Ether, the second-largest token, gained more than 8%, while so-called altcoins also rallied. The advance is in line with other risk assets, like stocks, which have been under pressure amid the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto platform Nexo, cautioned investors to “expect further volatility as we seek clarity from the regulatory haze and the ripple effects from Ukraine continue to felt across the world.”

Nonetheless, others are claiming the executive order as a victory for the sector. Grayscale Chief Legal Officer Craig Salm, called the directive “incredibly positive” during an interview.

Here’s what else market participants are saying:

Jeremy Allaire, co-founder, chief executive officer, and chairman of Circle:

“The Biden Administration’s Executive Order on digital assets represents a watershed moment for crypto and Web3, akin to when the government in the 90s realized the commercial power of the internet. The U.S. government now has a whole-of-government approach for supporting the open, internet-native economic infrastructure ushered in by new Web3 technologies, bringing the country a step closer to ensuring the U.S. dollar remains the currency of the internet and that the U.S. remains the home of principled innovation and competition.”

Trenchev of crypto platform Nexo:

“Although President Biden’s executive order leaves us short of clarity on the regulatory pathway, it’s clear his administration believes that staying out of crypto will be to the nation’s detriment, akin to missing out on building out the infrastructure of the internet in the early 1990s. The US doesn’t want to be left behind as other countries look at ways to oversee the crypto industry.”

Barbara Matthews, founder and chief executive officer of BCMStrategy Inc.:

“As we expected last week, significant shifts in the center of gravity regarding crypto mining require US authorities to take a nuanced approach to cryptocurrency regulation. Increased direct competition with Russia on mining and obvious incentives to crack down on potential back door evasion of financial sanctions are being balanced against a growing US mining presence and a deep commitment by US banks and the Federal Reserve to stablecoin initiatives. Globally, the significant efforts underway to by central banks to compete with cryptocurrencies through sovereign-issued digital currencies is under-appreciated.”

Leah Wald, CEO at Valkyrie Funds, an asset manager focused on digital assets:

“This executive order arrived largely as expected, in regards to tasking agencies with rule making and the establishment of guidelines around our industry. We welcome this development and fully believe that regulatory clarity will lead to a significant growth of adoption across blockchain projects and digital assets. Further encouraging is that the government is now actively looking to establish a digital dollar, which will absolutely be necessary for our economy to compete on a global stage with countries like China that already have CBDCs. Development of a digital dollar will also likely be vastly helpful in helping our government learn more about our industry, and we encourage them to engage with leaders in the space for guidance and advice on how to bring the project to market.”

Hany Rashwan, CEO and Co-founder of 21Shares, a crypto ETPs provider:

“At 21Shares, we’ve always believed that the best way to introduce and expose investors to crypto is through a safe and regulated approach. Today’s executive order is a significant step for U.S. investors looking to capitalize on the most lucrative asset class of the last decade, and we believe for the next decade to come.”

Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at crypto fund-provider CoinShares:

“It’s the same song and dance in Washington D.C., which is, let’s study it. The executive order was full of statements that were leading statements that were factually questionable and made certain implications about how cryptocurrencies are being used, about the purported environmental impacts. So I think it’s very clear what the bias of the administration is, but we’ll see what comes out of it,” she said. “At the end of the day, the order can only address the departments of the administration that are under the purview of the president. The SEC and CFTC are independent agencies — and therefore only mentioned a handful of times in the order as entities to be consulted — but these two regulatory bodies will likely be most important in defining the regulations that shape the future of crypto markets.”

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried:

“We applaud the Biden administration for recognizing the growing importance of the digital-asset space and believe today’s executive order is a significant step forward in building a strong regulated environment in the U.S. Innovation will always need to be coupled with safeguards and protections.”

(Updates with additional comments.)
–With assistance from Sonali Basak.





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Bolsonaro gov’t threatening Brazilian democracy, jurists tell UN | Elections News

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Legal experts urge UN special rapporteur to visit Brazil to report on president’s attacks on Brazilian judicial bodies.

Brazil’s democracy and the independence of its judiciary are under threat from the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, a group of lawyers and legal experts have said in a petition to the United Nations, as the country prepares for elections in October.

The group of 80 jurists and legal researchers on Wednesday appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego Garcia-Sayan, to visit Brazil and report on attacks on the Supreme Court and the Superior Electoral Court that oversees elections.

The courts face an unprecedented campaign of distrust and public threats to judges who decide against the government’s agenda, they said in their petition.

“Moreover, without any evidence, Bolsonaro publicly claims that the Brazilian electoral system can be and has been rigged, and has even claimed that the TSE judges are behind such alleged frauds,” the petition to the UN rapporteur read.

Facing a drop in popularity, Bolsonaro over the past several months has repeatedly claimed – without providing any evidence – that Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud.

Critics and judicial experts have rejected his claims as baseless, accusing Bolsonaro of planning to use his fraud claims to contest the election results, similar to former United States President Donald Trump, whom Bolsonaro has emulated.

Earlier this month, the president said his party would seek an audit of the voting system before the election. He has also suggested that the armed forces, whose current and former members are employed throughout his government, should conduct their own parallel vote count.

On Wednesday, the president’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, said Brazil could face political instability if the electoral court did not provide more transparency about its voting system.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s petition said that Bolsonaro uttered a series of direct threats to the Supreme Court in a speech to a crowd of thousands of supporters in September of last year.

“The Brazilian Judiciary is under siege. Judicial independence in Brazil is facing challenges that are unprecedented since democratization in the 1980s,” the letter said.

Bolsonaro is facing a stiff challenge in his re-election bid from former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who recently launched his presidential campaign and holds a clear lead over Bolsonaro, according to recent polls.



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HRW documents ‘apparent war crimes’ by Russian forces in Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Leading US-based rights group says Russian forces had subjected civilians to summary executions, torture and other grave abuses in two regions.

A leading human rights watchdog has accused Russian troops of carrying out summary executions, torture and other grave abuses in two regions of Ukraine, as it published a report documenting further cases of “apparent war crimes” by the invading forces.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report published on Wednesday documented 22 apparent summary executions, nine other unlawful killings, six possible enforced disappearances and seven cases of torture from late February through March.

Twenty-one civilians told HRW about unlawful confinement in inhuman and degrading conditions during the period the Russian forces controlled much of the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, it said.

HRW called for the alleged abuses to be “impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to the Reuters news agency requests for comment on the HRW report. Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and has accused Ukraine of staging atrocities to smear its forces.

Asked more broadly about war crimes allegations against Russian forces in Ukraine, Peskov told Reuters, “We consider it impossible and unacceptable to throw such terms around.”

“Many of the cases that Ukraine is talking about are obvious fakes, and the most egregious ones are staged, as has been convincingly proved by our experts,” he said.

Global outrage

There was a global outrage dozens of bodies, some with their hands bound, were found in towns, including Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital after invading Russian troops retreated from the area.

HRW said it had visited a total of 17 villages and small towns in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions and interviewed 65 people between April 10 and May 10, including former detainees, people who said they had survived torture, families of victims and other witnesses.

The report went further than a statement issued in April in which HRW said it had documented “several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations” in Russian-controlled regions such as Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv.

“The numerous atrocities by Russian forces occupying parts of northeastern Ukraine early in the war are abhorrent, unlawful, and cruel,” said Giorgi Gogia, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These abuses against civilians are evident war crimes that should be promptly and impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted.”

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” aimed at weakening its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capturing what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

A Kyiv district court on Wednesday began hearing its first war crimes trial against a Russian soldier who took part in Moscow’s February 24 invasion. The soldier, who is accused of murdering a 62-year-old civilian, told the court he pleaded guilty.

Ukraine has said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes in total.





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Ex-Minneapolis police officer pleads guilty in George Floyd case | Black Lives Matter News

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By entering the plea, Thomas Lane avoided the more serious charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

A former United States police officer has pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in 2020 when a fellow police officer knelt on his neck.

As part of the plea deal announced on Wednesday, Thomas Lane a former Minneapolis police officer will have a count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder dismissed. Lane, along with J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, has already been convicted on federal counts of willfully violating Floyd’s rights during the events that led to Floyd’s death.

The state is recommending a sentence for Lane of three years — which is below state sentencing guidelines — and has agreed to allow him to serve the time in a federal prison. He has not yet been sentenced in the federal case.

Floyd died May 25, 2020, after another officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck, as Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. Lane and Kueng helped to restrain Floyd, who was handcuffed. Lane held down Floyd’s legs and Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back. Thao kept bystanders from intervening during the 9.5-minute restraint.

Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted the case, said he was pleased that Lane accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death.

“My thoughts are once again with the victims, George Floyd and his family,” Ellison said in a tweet. “Floyd should still be with us. But I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd’s death.”

In an earlier statement, he said the move was necessary towards achieving justice.

“His acknowledgement he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation,” Ellison said. “While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice.”

The plea by Lane, who is white, comes during a week when the country is focused on the deaths of 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, at the hands of an 18-year-old white man, who carried out the racist, livestreamed shooting Saturday in a supermarket.

Lane’s lawyer, Earl Gray, said he and Lane would have no comment. Lane was not taken into custody and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 21 on the state charge.

Police officers during George Floyd arrest
Thomas Lane was convicted in February along with two other former colleagues of federal charges, after a monthlong trial that focused on the officers’ training and the culture of the police department [File: Pool/Court TV via AP]

Lane was convicted along with Kueng and Thao of federal charges in February, after a month-long trial that focused on the officers’ training and the culture of the police department. All three were convicted of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and Thao and Kueng were also convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the killing, which was caught on video and sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the globe as part of a reckoning over racial injustice.

Chauvin, pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights and faces a federal sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years. Earlier, he was convicted of state charges of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22.5 years in the state case.

After their federal conviction, there was a question as to whether the state trial would proceed. At an April hearing in state court, prosecutors revealed that they had offered plea deals to all three men, but they were rejected. At the time, Gray said it was hard for the defence to negotiate when the three still did not know what their federal sentences would be.

Thao’s lawyer, Robert Paule, was in the courtroom for Lane’s plea hearing. When asked if his client would also take a plea deal, he replied “No comment.”

Kueng, who is Black, and Thao, who is Hmong American, are scheduled to go to trial in June on the state charges.





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