7 August 2020
TIKTOK: TRUMP SIGNS ORDER TO ADDRESS 'THREAT' OF CHINESE APP
US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban transactions
with TikTok's parent company ByteDance.
The executive order says the US "must take aggressive action against the
owners of TikTok to protect our national security".
Under the order, beginning in 45 days, any US transaction with ByteDance
will be prohibited.
TikTok denies accusations it is controlled by or shares data with the
On Thursday night, the US president also issued a follow-up executive order
taking similar action to ban WeChat, an app owned by China-based tech giant
He refers to both apps as a "threat". Both orders say any unspecified
"transactions" with the apps' Chinese owners or their subsidiaries will be
LEBANESE VENT FURY ON LEADERS OVER BLAST; MACRON PROMISES HELP
The death toll from blast in Lebanon's capital Beirut rose to 157 while the
number of people injured increased to 5,000, according to its Health
Ministry. The casualty figure is expected to rise further as dozens of
victims are still missing after the blast, a spokesperson said.
Protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces at anti-government
demonstrations in Beirut on Thursday.
Officers deployed tear gas on dozens of people near parliament.
Demonstrators were angered by Tuesday's devastating blast, which officials
say was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely since
Many in Lebanon say government negligence led to the explosion destroying
entire districts in the capital, with homes and businesses reduced to
French President Emmanuel Macron also visited the city and said Lebanon
needed to see "profound change" from authorities.
A crowd gathered around him and shouted their anger, chanting, "Revolution!"
and "The people want to bring down the regime!" - slogans used at mass
protests last year.
Macron said Thursday that France will organize a conference with European,
American and Middle Eastern and other donors to raise money for food,
medicine, housing and other urgent aid. He promised a "clear and transparent
governance" so that the aid goes directly to the populations and aid groups.
France once governed Lebanon as a protectorate and maintains close ties.
The Lebanese government announced that it has placed a number of port
officials, responsible for storage and security since 2014, under house
arrest pending an investigation into the explosion.
SRI LANKA POLLS: RAJAPAKSAS' SLPP SECURES BIG WIN
Sri Lanka's ruling party has won the recently held parliamentary elections,
securing a huge majority of 145 seats, just five short of a two-thirds
majority in Parliament.
The Rajapaksas' Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or People's Party) was
widely expected to win the polls that came nine months after President
Gotabaya Rajapaksa rose to power. His elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who
led the caretaker government as Premier, will be sworn in as Prime Minister.
In addition to paving way for the Rajapaksas to consolidate power,
Wednesday's elections saw the virtual exit of the historic United National
Party (UNP) from the legislature. The party won one seat. Its leader and
former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was in parliament for over
40 years, lost his seat.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), led by Sajith Premadasa who broke away
from the UNP, secured 54 seats at its distant second spot in the race.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has summoned the new Parliament to meet on
U.S. WILL END RELIANCE ON CHINA, OTHER NATIONS FOR PHARMACEUTICALS AND
MEDICAL SUPPLY, SAYS TRUMP
The U.S. will end its reliance on China and other foreign nations for
pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, President Donald Trump has said.
"What China did is a terrible thing. Whether it was incompetence or on
purpose, it was a terrible thing that they did not only to the United
States, but to the world. A terrible thing," Mr. Trump told reporters at the
White House on Thursday before flying to Ohio to visit a Whirlpool
Hours later addressing workers at the manufacturing plant in Ohio, Mr. Trump
alleged that the previous Obama-Biden administration was perfectly happy to
let China win.
"Today, to define our path forward, I am making our incredible workers six
more promises that I will keep over the next four years.
The president articulated these six campaign promises during the speech
Thursday at a Whirlpool plant in Ohio.
-Rise from the current adversity of this "invisible enemy" to be "more
prosperous and resilient" than ever;
-Make America the "premier medical manufacturer;"
-Bring pharmaceutical and medical supply chains to the U.S. and end reliance
-Bring back American jobs and factories using every tool, including tariffs;
-Uphold the commitment to put American workers first.
He also vowed to reimpose tariffs on aluminum from Canada, a country that
the president said has not been fair to the U.S.
US LAUNCHES 5-PRONGED 'CLEAN NETWORK' TO CURB CHINESE TECH ACCESS
The United States on Wednesday announced an expanded five-pronged "Clean
Network" initiative to further reduce Chinese access to data on Americans.
It would include removing "untrusted" Chinese apps such as TikTok and WeChat
from American apps stores.
"With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others
are significant threats to the personal data of American citizens, not to
mention tools for CCP content censorship," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
told reporters at a news briefing.
The top US diplomat went on to unveil an expanded version of the "Clean
Path" initiative he had launched in April. It"s called the "Clean Network"
and 30 countries have already signed on.
Here are the five "lines" of the network: Clean Carrier, to keep out
"untrusted" Chinese telecommunications companies connecting the US and
foreign destinations; Clean Store, to remove "untrusted" Chinese apps from
US apps stores; Clean Apps, to prevent Chinese companies such as Huawei from
pre-installing or making available for download on their devices US apps;
Clean Cloud, to keep Chinese cloud service providers from accessing data on
Americans; and Clean Cable, to to ensure Chinese government cannot
"compromise" information carried through undersea cables.
On undersea cables, Secretary Pompeo cited Huawei, which, he said,
"significantly underbids" rival companies on multiple procurements to
connect Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and Europe "using Chinese state-backed
The secretary said the state department will be working closely with the
department of commerce and other agencies to "limit the ability of Chinese
cloud service providers to collect, to store, and to process vast amounts of
data and sensitive information here in the United States".
POMPEO AGAINST VOTE FOR CUBA ON HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged UN members not to support
Cuba's bid to join the organisation's Human Rights Council.
"It's outrageous that the Human Rights Council would offer to seat Cuba, a
brutal dictatorship that traffic its own doctors under the guise of
humanitarian missions," the top U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday.
Mr. Pompeo has described Cuba's sale of medical services, Havana's main
source of foreign exchange, as a form of human trafficking. "No country
should vote Cuba onto the council," he said.
Under President Donald Trump, Washington has reversed an opening with Cuba
initiated by former president Barack Obama, hardening a trade embargo in
effect since 1962.
Cuba, which sat on the UNHRC in 2014-2016 and 2017-2019, has applied to fill
one of the regional vacancies for 2021-2023.
The seats are distributed geographically and are awarded for a period of
three years. Members are not eligible for immediate reelection after serving
two consecutive terms.
IN BIG SHIFT, POPE NAMES 6 WOMEN TO VATICAN FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT BODY
Pope Francis has appointed six women, including the former treasurer for
Britain's Prince Charles, to the council that oversees Vatican finances,
naming them in one fell swoop to some of the most senior roles.
The appointments to one of the Holy See's most important offices marked the
latest attempt by the pope to keep promises to improve gender balance made
years ago but which women's groups have said were too slow in being
Francis has already appointed women as deputy foreign minister, director of
the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office, as well as
four women as councillors to the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major
Still, Thursday's new appointments marked the largest number of women named
at one time to Vatican posts.
CANADA'S LAST FULLY INTACT ARCTIC ICE SHELF COLLAPSES
The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing
more than 40% of its area in just two days at the end of July, researchers
said on Thursday.
The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of Ellesmere Island, in the sparsely
populated northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.
"Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of
the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up," the
Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter when it announced the loss on Sunday.
"Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice," said Luke
Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the
research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf.
The shelf's area shrank by about 80 square kilometers. By comparison, the
island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly 60 square kilometers.
"This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it's disintegrated,
basically," Copland said.