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Elon Musk foreign ties worth being looked at, Joe Biden says

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Russia Invasion: Biden, Allies, To Meet Monday For Response

Elon Musk’s contacts with foreign countries are “worthy of examination,” according to US President Joe Biden.

Mr. Biden was asked if Mr. Musk constituted a national security risk and if Saudi Arabia’s assistance in purchasing Twitter should be examined.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal invested $1.89 billion (£1.7 billion) in Mr Musk’s takeover.

A Democratic senator called for an investigation of the kingdom’s investment earlier this month.

During a news conference at the White House on Wednesday a reporter asked Mr Biden: “Do you think Elon Musk is a threat to US national security and should the US, with the tools you have, investigate his joint acquisition of Twitter with foreign governments, which include the Saudis?”

“Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Mr Biden said.

“Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate — I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting it’s worth being looked at. That’s all I’ll say,” he added.

Last month, Mr Musk completed his $44 billion buyout of Twitter, bringing an end to a protracted court struggle. Mr Musk and a group of other investors funded the transaction.

According to a filing with the US financial authority, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed and the Kingdom Holding Firm are the second largest investors in the newly-private company.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy asked earlier this month for an immediate probe into the national security implications of Saudi Arabia’s ownership in Twitter.

“Given Twitter’s critical role in public communication, I am concerned by the potential influence of the Government of Saudi Arabia,” Mr Murphy, who leads a key Foreign Relations subcommittee, said in a letter.

Mr Musk has previously entered sensitive territory with remarks regarding Ukraine and Taiwan.

Last month, he denied speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin before launching a Twitter poll with his ideas for ending the war with Ukraine.

Mr Musk personally informed Ian Bremmer, the leader of the Eurasia Group political risk consultancy, about the conversation with Mr Putin.

“I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space,” Mr Musk tweeted.

Mr Musk has also weighed in on the highly contentious subject of China’s relationship with Taiwan.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the chief executive of Tesla said Taiwan should become a special administrative zone of China.

China’s ambassador to the US praised Mr Musk’s comments but his Taiwanese counterpart said freedom is “not for sale”.

Taiwan rules itself but Beijing claims it as part of its territory.

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US Bans Sale of Chinese Tech Amid Security Fears

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The United States has prohibited the sale and import of new communications equipment from five Chinese companies, including Huawei and ZTE, due to national security concerns.

Hikvision, Dahua, and Hytera are also included as manufacturers of video surveillance equipment and two-way radio systems.

It is the first time that US regulators have taken such a step for security reasons.

Hikvision claims that their goods pose no security risk to the United States.

It stated that the decision “would do nothing to protect US national security, but will significantly increase the risk and cost for US small enterprises, local governments, school districts, and individual consumers to safeguard themselves, their homes, businesses, and property.”

Previously, Huawei and others denied providing data to the Chinese government.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that its members had voted unanimously to adopt the new rules.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorised for use within our borders,” the commission’s chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

“These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” she added.

Because the restriction is not retroactive, the companies mentioned may continue to sell products that were previously approved for sale in the United States.

However, the FCC stated that it is collecting opinion on future modifications to the rules involving equipment previously authorized to be imported or sold, implying that existing authorizations may be removed in the future.

The US restrictions are the latest imposed on Chinese IT businesses in response to surveillance fears, which US officials have grown increasingly concerned about in recent years.

Actions to restrict Chinese telecom corporations’ access to the US market initially took root during Barack Obama’s presidency. They were then accelerated during Donald Trump’s presidency and have continued under current US President Joe Biden’s rule.

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Mercedes to introduce acceleration subscription fee

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Mercedes-Benz will launch an online subscription service in the United States to help its electric vehicles accelerate faster.

The company would allow certain of its vehicles to sprint from 0-60mph in less than a second for an annual payment of $1,200 (£991) excluding tax.

It comes after competitor automaker BMW introduced a subscription service for heated seats earlier this year.

Mercedes has indicated that it does not intend to introduce “Acceleration Increase” in the UK at this time.

It will be offered in the United States on the Mercedes-EQ EQE 350 and EQS 450, as well as their SUV cousins.

According to the Mercedes US online store, the technology “electronically enhances” the output and torque of the car’s motor.

BMW received outrage in July after announcing that consumers may pay £25 per month to unlock heated seats and steering wheels in their vehicles.

Toyota also stated in December 2021 that it would charge select drivers $8 per month to remotely start their automobiles using a key fob.

Tesla introduced “Acceleration Boost” in 2019, which allows Model 3 vehicles to accelerate from 0-60mph in half a second for a one-time fee of $2,000.

The US Mercedes storefront lists the Acceleration Increase subscription as “coming soon,” with no specific release date.

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Musk says Twitter will offer ‘amnesty’ to suspended accounts

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Elon Musk has stated that Twitter will grant “universal amnesty” to certain suspended accounts beginning next week.

This comes after he launched a poll on Twitter on Wednesday, asking people if accounts that had “not breached the law or engaged in flagrant spam” should be allowed back on the platform.

Mr Musk has already restored several accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump.

Last month, the world’s richest man paid $44 billion (£36.3 billion) for Twitter.

Mr Musk’s poll received over 3.1 million responses, with 72.4% voting “Yes.”

“The populace has spoken. The amnesty period begins next week “Mr Musk, who has 118.7 million followers on Twitter, later tweeted.

He also used the Latin phrase “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

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