World Newsletter

WORLD NEWS
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

Chinese government.

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

Tencent.

He refers to both apps as a "threat". Both orders say any unspecified

"transactions" with the apps' Chinese owners or their subsidiaries will be

"prohibited".

 

 

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

2013.

Many in Lebanon say government negligence led to the explosion destroying

entire districts in the capital, with homes and businesses reduced to

rubble.

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

August 20.

 

 

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

manufacturing plant.

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.

-Defeat COVID-19;

-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

on China;

-Bring back American jobs and factories using every tool, including tariffs;

and

-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

underseas technology".

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

realised.

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

meetings.

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.

Share Your Thoughts