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US Government Moves to Intervene in AT&T Surveillance Case Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) lawsuit accuses AT&T of collaborating with the National Security Agency in its massive surveillance program. EFF's evidence regarding AT&T's dragnet surveillance of its networks, currently filed under seal, includes a declaration by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician, and several internal AT&T documents. This evidence was bolstered and explained by the expert opinion of J. Scott Marcus, who served as Senior Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission from July 2001 until July 2005 Release of Department of State - Annual "Trafficking in Persons" Report Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice publicly released the fifth annual Department of State "Trafficking in Persons Report" on Friday, June 3. The document is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons. Its findings are aimed to raise global awareness and spur countries to take effective actions to counter trafficking in persons. The report includes specific information on countries that are significant sources of origin, transit, or destination of trafficking victims. The report also places these countries into one of three tiers based on government efforts to combat trafficking, with Tier 1 countries fully complying with minimum effective standards to combat trafficking. The report is required by U.S. law. The report for Romania this year notes important progress Romania has made in this area. This includes progress in establishing shelters for trafficking victims, convicting traffickers, and undertaking efforts to address corruption. As last year, however, Romania was placed in Tier 2, along with a number of other major European states. Among other concerns, the report cites corruption and the vulnerability of Romanian street children to exploitation and trafficking. Increased progress in combating human trafficking relies on a continued strong commitment by Romanian officials at all levels. The U.S. Embassy commends the Romanian government for the extensive efforts taken thus far and remains committed to helping Romania in improving institutions for combating the tragedy of human trafficking. The text of the specific report on Romania, in both English and Romanian, is available on-line at http://www.usembassy.ro. China launches Web site to teach Chinese SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China launched a Web site, www.linese.com, on Saturday offering free Chinese lessons and materials to promote the study and use of the language abroad. The site includes audio-visual presentations, interactive exercises and advice for teachers of Mandarin Chinese, with photographs and descriptions of cultural icons such as the Great Wall, kung fu actor Jackie Chan and basketball star Yao Ming. Many of the exercises touch on China's mythical and imperial past, including practice sentences such as "how can you be a hero if you are unarmed" and "I find that Tibetans like worshipping heroes". China is keen to expand its cultural influence along with its growing economic power, and is also setting up a network of "Confucius Institutes" around the world to promote its culture. The Web site is only in Chinese and English, but versions in Japanese and Korean are being developed, the official Xinhua news agency said. More than 30 million people are now learning Chinese as a foreign language and more than 2,500 universities in 100 countries offer Chinese courses, the Ministry of Education says. National Bank of Romania In its meeting of May 11, 2006, the Board of the National Bank of Romania has decided the following: -to maintain the monetary policy rate at 8.5 percent per annum; -to continue to pursue a firm control of money market liquidity by significant sterilization of excess liquidity via open-market operations. The NBR Board also examined and approved the quarterly Inflation Report that will be released to the public in a press conference organized on May 16, 2006. The analysis of the most recent developments in macroeconomic and monetary indicators shows a continued disinflation process, reinvigorated economic growth as well as the persistence of an unsustainable expansion of consumption. The slowdown in administered price growth (energy, medicines, fixed telephony tariffs) and in volatile food prices during the first months of 2006 triggered a temporary, better than expected drop in inflation, with year-on-year consumer price inflation falling to 6.92 percent in April from 8.6 percent in December 2005. Although disinflation has continued, the short-term inflation outlook has worsened following the impact of increases in indirect taxation on tobacco and alcohol products and of a deterioration of inflation expectations due to uncertainties related to the calendar of administered price adjustments. Growing investment and strong household consumption dynamics, also supported by credit expansion have contributed to an increase in excess demand, while external imbalances have widened. The increase of non-government credit remained robust against the background of heightened bank competition and a change in its structure, where the growing share of lending in lei has led to an improvement of the monetary policy transmission mechanism. The NBR Board believes that implementation of a balanced mix of economic policies (monetary, fiscal, income and structural) is essential to consolidate the disinflation process and continue the convergence process with the European Union. As a part of this mix, the NBR Board envisages to keep a restrictive monetary policy stance for a longer period of time. Under these circumstances and in light of the available data, the NBR Board has decided to maintain the monetary policy rate at 8.5 percent per annum, a decision which, on the background of a consolidation of disinflation will increase the restrictiveness of monetary conditions. It also decided to continue to pursue a firm control of money market liquidity by significant sterilization of excess liquidity via open-market operations. The NBR is restating it will continue to closely monitor monetary and macroeconomic trends in order to appropriately use its entire array of available instruments with the aim to counter inflationary pressures and bring inflation on the forecast trajectory over the medium term. The NBR Board also examined and approved the quarterly Inflation Report, a document that assesses the recent macroeconomic context, presents the inflation outlook as well as the main challenges and risks for monetary policy in the coming period. The report will be released to the public in a press conference organized on May 16, 2006. According to the announced calendar, the next NBR Board meeting dedicated to monetary policy issues is scheduled for June 27, 2006.
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