24 January 2020
Â‘BIRTHERISMÂ’ LIES ABOUT KAMALA HARRIS EXCEED THOSE ABOUT OBAMA
Toxic misinformation has continued reaching new heights in 2020, one sign of
that is the Â“BirtherismÂ” misinformation about Senator Kamala Harris, the
Democratic vice-presidential nominee, now exceeds that about President
Barack Obama at its peak in 2017, according to a new analysis.
Lies that Harris was not born American (she was) and is therefore not
eligible for the vice presidency spiked last month in the week after Joe
Biden announced her as his running mate, according to Zignal Labs, a media
Falsehoods about Senator Kamala HarrisÂ’s American birth were mentioned on
social media and television 103,400 times in one week, Zignal Labs said.
That was higher than the volume of birtherism misinformation about Obama in
the week after President Donald Trump renewed questions about his
predecessorÂ’s birthplace in 2017, Zignal Labs said. Those mentions rose to
98,100 that week.
Birtherism theory about Harris has become the fifth highest election
misinformation topic by volume since January, according to Zignal Labs. The
topics that have surpassed it were falsehoods about voting by mail; Bill and
Hillary Clinton; billionaire investor and Democratic donor George Soros; and
POLITICAL DECISIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN IN PARLIAMENT, NOT AT ARMY HQ: MARYAM
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz on Wednesday said
political decisions should be made in Parliament and not at the army
The 46-year-old daughter of former premier Nawaz Sharif was responding to a
question from a reporter about Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and head of the
ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed's meeting with key opposition figures at the army's
General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi last week.
Maryam, who was at the Islamabad High Court for a hearing of an appeal
against her conviction in the Avenfield property reference, was talking to
media at the court premises.
Replying to a question on the last week's meeting, she said, "I heard about
the meeting. From what I understand it was called to discuss
Gilgit-Baltistan which is a political issue...These decisions should be made
in parliament, not in GHQ."
Maryam said she was not aware whether her father was aware of the meeting.
US ELECTION: TRUMP WON'T COMMIT TO PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF POWER
US President Donald Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of
power if he loses November's election.
"Well, we'll have to see what happens," the president told a news conference
at the White House. "You know that."
Mr Trump voiced concern about ballots, an apparent reference to postal
voting, which he argues is susceptible to fraud even though he has voted in
More states are encouraging mail-in voting, citing the need to keep voters
safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump was asked by a reporter on Wednesday evening if he would commit to
a peaceful transfer of power "win, lose or draw" to Democrat Joe Biden.
"I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots," Mr Trump, a
Republican, said. "And the ballots are a disaster."
When the journalist countered that "people are rioting", Mr Trump
interjected: "Get rid of the ballots, and you'll have a very - you'll have a
very peaceful - there won't be a transfer, frankly, there'll be a
Earlier on Wednesday, the president defended his decision to seek the
appointment of a new Supreme Court justice before the vote to fill the
vacancy left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying he expects the election
results to end up before the court.
"I think this [the election] will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think
it's very important that we have nine justices," the president said.
"I think it's better if you go before the election, because I think this
scam that the Democrats are pulling, it's a scam, the scam will be before
the United States Supreme Court."
Mr Trump was apparently referring again to his much-disputed claims that
mail-in ballots are vulnerable to fraud.
G4 SEEKS CONCRETE, TEXT-BASED, TIME BOUND REFORM OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL
Foreign Ministers from the Group of 4 Â— India, Brazil, Japan and Germany Â— a
group that is seeking permanent membership of the UN Security Council
(UNSC), met virtually on Wednesday to further their objective. The four
countries stressed delivering concrete outcomes, in writing and within a
Â“Participated in #G4 Foreign Ministers Meeting that called for a decisive
push for UNSC reforms during #UN75. Unanimous call for text-based
negotiations in a fixed time frame. Reformed Multilateralism guides IndiaÂ’s
approach to the United Nations,Â” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar
His counterparts at the G4 meeting were Motegi Toshimitsu (Japan), Niels
Annen, (Minister of State representing German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas)
and Ernesto Araújo (Brazil).
The Ministers reaffirmed their common resolve to Â“finally take decisive
steps towards the early and comprehensive reform of the Security Council
that was envisaged by Heads of State and Government in the 2005 World
Summit,Â” as per a joint press statement released by the Ministry of External
The G4 will work with Â“other reform-minded countries and groupsÂ” to start
text-based negotiations (TBN) without delay and seek Â“concrete outcomesÂ”
during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, which has just begun and
lasts until next September.
Â“G4 Ministers reiterated support for each otherÂ’s membership to the UNSC
Â“given the capacity and willingness to take on major responsibilities with
regard to the maintenance of international peace and securityÂ”, the
SAUDI KINGÂ’S RARE ADDRESS TO UN SHOWCASES MONARCH IN CHARGE
Saudi ArabiaÂ’s King Salman made a rare address to the UN General Assembly on
Wednesday, using the moment to highlight the foundational notions of his
regime Â— his steadfast commitment to the Palestinians, his stature as
custodian of IslamÂ’s holiest sites and his assertion that Iran is
responsible for much of the regionÂ’s instability.
The prerecorded speech to world leaders suggested that the 84-year-old king,
who delivers only a handful of public remarks each year, retains oversight
of high-level policies despite the immense powers amassed by his son, the
In delivering his remarks, he became only the second Saudi king to deliver a
speech to the world assembly. The first was his late brother, King Saud, in
1957 at UN headquarters in New York. And like his brotherÂ’s speech 63 years
prior, King Salman noted the sacred role of Islam in Saudi Arabia and the
importance that entails.
Â“We in the kingdom, due to our position in the Muslim world, bear a special
and historic responsibility to protect our tolerant Islamic faith from
attempts by terrorist organisations and extremist groups to pervert it,Â” Mr.
Reading from a piece of paper and seated at a desk under a large portrait of
his father, King Abdulaziz, the current monarch reiterated his support for
Palestinian statehood as a prerequisite for recognition of Israel.
He said the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full ties with Arab
states in exchange for concessions that lead to a Palestinian state,
provides a basis for resolving the regionÂ’s longest-running conflict.
The king made no mention of recent deals struck by neighbouring United Arab
Emirates and Bahrain to formalise ties with Israel.
Despite the appearance on Wednesday that Salman was in control of major
policies, there are indications that change is already underway with Israel
under the guidance of the crown prince.
DONALD TRUMP ANNOUNCES NEW CUBA-RELATED SANCTIONS
US President Donald Trump announced new sanctions related to Cuba on
Wednesday that will prohibit Americans from staying at properties owned by
the Cuban government as well as the import of Cuban cigars and liquor.
"Today as part of our continuing fight against communist oppression I am
announcing that the Treasury Department will prohibit US travelers from
staying at properties owned by the Cuban government," Trump said at a White
House event. "We're also further restricting the importation of alcohol and
CHINA SAYS TRUMPÂ’S REMARKS AGAINST IT FULL OF Â‘FABRICATED LIESÂ’
China on Wednesday hit out at US President Donald Trump for his hard-hitting
remarks against Beijing at the UN General Assembly session, saying his
allegations were full of Â“fabricated liesÂ” driven by Â“shady political
In his address on Tuesday, Trump blasted China for Â“unleashingÂ” the plague
of the Â“China virusÂ” onto the world, demanding that the United Nations must
hold Beijing accountable for failing to contain the coronavirus that has
killed nearly one million people across the world, including 2,00,000
Slamming TrumpÂ’s speech, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said
the American leaderÂ’s UNGA remarks about China Â“disregarded facts and
Â“And driven by shady political motives, President Trump used the UN podium
to level unfounded accusations against China. China firmly opposes these
smears. Such acts have again shown that unilateralism and bullying are the
biggest threat to the world,Â” Wang said.
Â“Lies can in no way masquerade as truth. The world is fully aware of ChinaÂ’s
record in containing COVID-19, and the people have their fair judgment,Â” he
said, adding that the virus was common enemy of humankind.
Â“China is a victim of the virus and made its contribution to the global
fight against the virus,Â” he said.
In his hard-hitting speech, Trump demanded that China, where the coronavirus
emerged, be held accountable for failure to control the virus and for
allowing it to spread across the world.
SRI LANKA OPPOSITION CHALLENGES NEW BILL IN SC
A day after the Sri Lankan government tabled the contentious 20th Amendment
Bill, Opposition parties, including the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB, or
United PeopleÂ’s Front) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), moved the
Supreme Court challenging it.
At least six petitions, including those of the SJB and the TNA, were filed
on Wednesday, following the OppositionÂ’s protest in the legislature against
the move. Â“We have filed a petition on the basis that the 20th Amendment
Bill adversely impacts the sovereignty of the people. The legislature and
judiciary are sought to be made subservient to the executive. That is not
acceptable,Â” TNA leader R. Sampanthan told The Hindu.
Â“Each arm of the government should be able to function independently,
without undermining each other,Â” he added.
Leader of Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa earlier said tabling
the Bill marked a Â“dark day for democracyÂ”.
The thrust of the petitions, according to legal sources, is that the 20th
Amendment Bill cannot be enacted without a national referendum since it
impacts the Â“sovereignty of the peopleÂ”.
Reversing the 19th Amendment, its replacement envisions a more powerful
executive, even as it reduces the Prime MinisterÂ’s role to a ceremonial one,
legal experts here have remarked.