World Newsletter

WORLD NEWS
20 Nov 2020

 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN DROPS MICHIGAN ELECTION SUIT; BIDEN'S COVID ADVISERS WARN ON

STALLED TRANSITION

 

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Thursday it was

withdrawing its lawsuit disputing vote results in Michigan, in another

faltering legal attempt to challenge the Nov. 3 victory of U.S.

President-elect Joe Biden.

“This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan as a direct result

of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from

being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal

vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted,” Trump

lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement.

President-elect Joe Biden's top coronavirus advisers warned on Tuesday that

President Donald Trump's stalling of the transition could hinder the

country's pandemic response, as Trump and his allies persisted in

challenging the Nov. 3 election results.

Trump's refusal to concede has put Biden's transition to the White House in

limbo, complicating his efforts to tackle a COVID-19 pandemic that has

killed more than 247,000 people in the United States and shows no sign of

slowing.

In a call with reporters, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who

co-chairs Biden's COVID-19 task force, said blocking Biden transition

advisers from meeting with government experts could harm their ability to

confront the pandemic next year.

Several doctors and nurses associations published a letter on Tuesday urging

the Trump administration to share critical COVID-19 data, such as equipment

inventories, medical supplies and hospital bed capacity, with Biden's team.

Biden, a Democratic former vice president who will take office on Jan. 20,

has also not been able to receive the classified intelligence briefings

normally afforded a president-elect.

 

 

UAE SUSPENDS ISSUANCE OF VISIT VISAS TO PAKISTAN, 11 OTHER COUNTRIES

 

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday temporarily suspended the issuance of

new visas to visitors from Pakistan and 11 other countries until further

notice, the Foreign Office said.

The decision by the UAE authorities is “believed to be related to the second

wave of COVID-19,” Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in

a statement.

“We have learnt that the UAE has temporarily suspended the issuance of new

visit visas until further announcement for 12 countries, including

Pakistan,” he said, adding that the government is seeking official

confirmation from the UAE authorities in this matter.

However, the suspension would not apply on already issued visas, the Foreign

Office said.

It was not immediately clear how many categories of visas would be affected

by the suspension. The UAE has various visa categories, including business,

tourist, transit and student.

The other countries hit by the UAE government’s fresh visa directives

include Turkey, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Kenya and

Afghanistan.

 

 

DEFENCE FUNDING BOOST 'EXTENDS BRITISH INFLUENCE', SAYS PM

 

A "once-in-a-generation modernisation" of the armed forces is required to

extend British influence and protect the public, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister told MPs a new four-year funding deal would protect

"hundreds of thousands" of jobs and create 40,000 new roles.

"I have decided that the era of cutting our defence budget must end, and it

ends now," he said.

Labour welcomed more defence spending but asked how it would be funded.

Outlining the new package in the Commons, the PM - speaking over video link

as he is self-isolating - said the benefits "will go far beyond our armed

forces".

Mr Johnson described the increase in defence spending as being worth £16.5bn

in new money over four years.

However economist Ben Zaranko, from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said

that while this represented a big rise in spending, the figure of £16.5bn

was a "misleading way to present this announcement".

He continued: "It would be more accurate to say that by 2024-25, defence

spending will be £7bn higher than it would have been under previous plans."

Mr Johnson said: "Our plans will safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs in

the defence industry, protecting livelihoods across the UK and keeping the

British people safe."

The PM pledged to end defence budget cuts, protect shipping lanes that

supply the country, press on with renewing the UK's nuclear deterrent and

restore Britain as "the foremost naval power in Europe" with a "renaissance

of British shipbuilding across the UK".

 

 

CHINA SAYS ‘FIVE EYES’ SHOULD FACE REALITY ON HONG KONG

 

China on Thursday rejected the latest attack on its Hong Kong policy by the

U.S. and several of its allies, saying they “should face up to the reality”

that the former British colony has been returned to China.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was responding to a statement on

Hong Kong issued by the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which

together make up an intelligence partnership known as the Five Eyes.

No matter if they have five eyes or 10 eyes, if they dare to harm China’s

sovereignty, security and development interests, they should beware of their

eyes being poked and blinded, he said at a daily briefing.

The foreign ministers of the five nations said that a new Chinese government

resolution that led to the disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers

in Hong Kong appears to be part of a concerted campaign to silence all

critical voices.

The joint statement called the resolution a breach of China’s international

obligations and its commitment to grant Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy

and freedom of speech.

 

 

AUSTRALIAN SPECIAL FORCES ALLEGEDLY KILLED 39 UNARMED AFGHANS

 

Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and

civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos reportedly forcing junior

soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for combat, a

four year investigation found.

Australia said on Thursday that 19 current and former soldiers will be

referred for potential criminal prosecution for allegedly killing the 39

Afghan locals.

Detailing the findings of a long-awaited inquiry into the conduct of special

forces personnel in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, Australia’s General

Angus John Campbell said there was credible information of 39 unlawful

killings by 25 Australian Special Forces personnel in 23 separate incidents.

All of those kills were outside the “heat of battle”, Campbell said.

“These findings allege the most serious breaches of military conduct and

professional values,” Campbell told reporters in Canberra.

“The unlawful killing, of civilians and prisoners is never acceptable.”

The report said the majority of those killed, which included prisoners,

farmers and other Afghan locals, were captured when they were killed and

therefore protected under international law.

 

 

PAKISTAN PM IMRAN KHAN VOWS TO ‘DO EVERYTHING’ TO REDUCE VIOLENCE IN

AFGHANISTAN DURING HIS FIRST KABUL VISIT

 

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 19 met with Afghan President

Ashraf Ghani on his maiden visit to Kabul and vowed to “do everything” to

reduce violence in Afghanistan as the two leaders explored ways to deepen

the bilateral ties and discussed the reconciliation process, amidst an

uptick in violence that could jeopardise the peace push in the war-torn

country.

President Ghani who received Mr. Khan upon his arrival at ARG Presidential

Palace, situated in the heart of Kabul, called his visit “historic” and said

it was an “important message to help end violence".

On his part, Mr. Khan assured Mr. Ghani that his government would do

“everything possible” to help reduce violence in Afghanistan and bring a

durable peace.

“The idea of visiting at a time when violence is increasing [in Afghanistan]

is to assure you, President Ghani, that the people and the government of

Pakistan have only one concern: peace in Afghanistan,” Mr. Khan said while

addressing a joint press conference with the Afghan leader after their talks

on issues ranging from bilateral ties to the Afghan peace and regional

situation.

 

 

POMPEO, IN ISRAEL, VOWS NEW ACTION AGAINST BOYCOTT MOVEMENT

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the U.S. will regard

the Palestinian-led boycott movement as “anti-Semitic” and cut off

government support for any organisations taking part in it, a step that

could deny funding to Palestinian and international human rights groups.

Mr. Pompeo announced the initiative during a visit to Israel in which he is

expected to make the first-ever appearance by a Secretary of State in an

Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. In another first, Mr. Pompeo

said he would visit the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the

1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

"We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” Mr.

Pompeo said, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

"We will immediately take steps to identify organisations that engage in

hateful BDS conduct and withdraw U.S. government support for such groups,”

he said, adding that all nations should “recognize the BDS movement for the

cancer that it is.”

 

 

PAKISTAN’S NEW SOCIAL MEDIA RULES DRAW CRITICISM

 

Pakistan has notified new social media rules that have placed all internet

service providers on par with social media companies, drawing a sharp

reaction from stakeholders as well as digital rights activists who have

termed them as "draconian."

The Ministry of Information Technology on Wednesday issued ?Removal and

Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards)

Rules (RBUOC) 2020?, Dawn newspaper reported.

The rules were framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016

(PECA).

The RBUOC rules have placed all the internet service providers (ISPs) on par

with social media companies (SMCs).

Under the new rules, all the requirements of the social media platforms have

been applied to the ISPs as well.

The rules have also made it obligatory for the social media platforms with

more 500,000 users in Pakistan or on the list of ISPs and SMCs with the

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to register with it within nine

months.

These companies have to establish a permanent registered office, with a

physical address preferably in Islamabad, within nine months.

A senior PTA official said that those clauses were essential as the social

media platforms had no presence in the country, but they were earning from

the country.

The RBUOC rules state that social media platforms have to appoint a focal

person in Pakistan to coordinate with authorities for compliance of the law

of the land.

The rules prohibit live-streaming through for the ISPs and the SMCs by

deploying online mechanism, related to terrorism, extremism, hate speech,

pornographic, incitement to violence and detrimental to national security.

The ISPs and the SMCs could be fined up to Rs500 million for failing to

abide by the directives of the PTA, while an appeal against the decision can

be filed in high court within 30 days of the PTA's order.

The Internet Service Providers of Pakistan (ISPAK) has rejected the new

rules and the association is likely to move the court against the new social

media rules.

 

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