Nepal floods: Death toll reaches 1322

News Network
July 24,2020

Kathmandu, Jul 24: At least 132 people lost their lives as a result of heavy rains triggering landslides, and flash floods in Nepal.

"132 people dead, 128 injured, 53 missing and 998 families affected due to rainfall, landslides and floods in the country as of 23rd July," Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority Within the last two weeks, the Myagdi district of western Nepal was the worst affected with 27 reported deaths.

Search and rescue operations are being conducted continuously with officials and police personnel who are looking through the debris to find missing people.

Monsoon-induced disasters are common in Nepal owing to the country's mountainous topography. Hundreds have been displaced as landslides have swept away their homes. They ended up taking refuge in local schools and community centers.

Nepal's Meteorological Forecasting Division earlier last week had predicted heavy downpour across the country. The Division had warned of monsoon winds being near the low-pressure line in the Terai belt, which would consequently cause more rainfall.

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TikTok "Out Of Business" In US If Not Sold By Mid-September: Donald Trump

Agencies
August 4,2020

Washington, Aug 4: US President Donald Trump gave popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok six weeks to sell its US operations to an American company, saying Monday it would be "out of business" otherwise, and that the government wanted a financial benefit from the deal.

"It's got to be an American company... it's got to be owned here," Trump said. "We don't want to have any problem with security."

Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, which has as many as one billion worldwide users who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app.

But US officials say the app constitutes a national security risk because it could share millions of Americans' personal data with Chinese intelligence.

Trump gave the company's Chinese parent ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal.

"I set a date of around September 15, at which point it's going to be out of business in the United States," he said.

Whatever the price is, he said, "the United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we're making it possible."

Trump compared the demand for a piece of the pie to a landlord demanding under-the-table "key money" from a new tenant, a practice widely illegal including in New York, where the billionaire president built his real estate empire.

"TikTok is a big success, but a big portion of it is in the country," he said. "I think it's very fair."

But Trump also threw a surprise new condition in any deal, saying the sale of TikTok's US business would have to result in a significant payout to the US Treasury for initiating it.

"A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen," Trump told reporters.

"They don't have any rights unless we give it to them," he said.

Sell or shut down

The pressure for a sale of TikTok's US and international business, based in Los Angeles, left the company and ByteDance facing tough decisions.

Trump has made TikTok the latest front in the ongoing political and trade battles between Washington and Beijing.

The app has been under formal investigation on US national security grounds because it collects large amounts of personal data on all its users and is legally bound to share that with authorities in Beijing if they demand it.

Both its huge user base and its algorithm for collecting data make it hugely valuable.

But being forced by the US government to sell at least its US business or be shut down -- and to then split the sale price with the US Treasury as Trump is demanding -- was an almost unheard-of tactic.

Shutting down could force users to switch to competitors, and many content creators are already encouraging followers to follow them on other social media platforms.

"The most obvious beneficiaries are Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, with Snapchat likely being the biggest beneficiary," said investment analysts at Lightshed Partners.

Earlier Monday, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming acknowledged the hefty pressure and said in a letter to staff, reported by Chinese media, that they were working around-the-clock "for the best outcome."

"We have always been committed to ensuring user data security, as well as the platform neutrality and transparency," Zhang said.

However, he said, the company faces "mounting complexities across the geopolitical landscape and significant external pressure."

He said the company must confront the challenge from the United States, though "without giving up exploring any possibilities."

According to Britain's The Sun newspaper Monday, as a possible consequence of the pressure, ByteDance is planning to relocate TikTok's global operations to Britain.

Pushing back

China's foreign ministry pushed back Monday, calling Washington hypocritical for demanding TikTok be sold.

"The US is using an abused concept of national security and, without providing any evidence, is making presumptions of guilt and issuing threats to relevant companies," said spokesman Wang Wenbin.

"This goes against the principle of market economy and exposes the hypocrisy and typical double standards of the US in upholding so-called fairness and freedom," he added.

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Want to do everything possible to keep peace for people of India, China: Donald Trump

News Network
July 17,2020

Jul 17: US President Donald Trump has said that he wants to do everything possible to keep peace for the people of India and China, according to his spokesperson

Over the past several weeks, the Trump administration has come out in support of India against China.

“He (Trump) said I love the people of India and I love the people of China and I want to do everything possible to keep the peace for the people,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a news conference here on Thursday.

She was responding to a question on Trump’s message to India, which recently had a standoff with China in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control.

Earlier in the day, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow described India as a great ally, saying President Trump is a great friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that India has been a great partner of the US.

“India has been a great partner… They are an important partner of ours. I have a great relationship with my foreign minister counterpart. We talked frequently about a broad range of issues. We talked about the conflict they had along the border with China. We've talked about the risk that emanates from the Chinese telecommunication infrastructure there,” Pompeo told reporters in response to a question.

Travelling in Europe, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters that China has been very aggressive with India.

O’Brien said that India is a democracy and is a great friend of the United States. Prime Minister “Modi and President Trump have a super relationship,” he said.

“In fact, it was the last foreign trip that I took with the president before the COVID-19 crisis hit, was to India, and we had a great reception of the Indian people there. We have a lot in common with them, we speak English, we're democracies. We've got a growing, very strong relationship with India,” O’Brien said.

Welcoming the White House statement, Al Mason, co-chair of the Trump Victory Indian American Finance Committee, said that unlike his predecessor, President Trump has come out openly in support of India.

“Most of the Indian-Americans have observed that every earlier president - be it a Democrat or Republican, like Clinton or Bush Senior or Bush Jr or Obama have been very scared to side with India openly, for fear of hurting China.

“Only President Trump has had the courage to say that… I love India, America respects India… US stands with India - and that also, to over one billion Indians in India at the Namaste Trump rally held in India… and that too… near India’s neighbour China,” Mason said in a statement.

“And he is consistent in his love for India and Indian-Americans,” he added.

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China asks United States to close its Consulate in Chengdu

Agencies
July 24,2020

Chengdu, Jul 24: China on Friday asked the US to close down its Consulate in Chengdu in retaliation to Washington's decision to shut the Chinese Consulate in Houston.

A statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China has informed the US Embassy of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the US Consulate General in Chengdu.

This was in response to "unilateral" decision by the US to shut the Houston Consulate. China's decision is legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable actions of the US, it said.

The US on Wednesday ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, a move it said was aimed "to protect American intellectual property and private information."

Reacting strongly to the US move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin termed it as an "unprecedented escalation and warned retaliatory measures.

China on Thursday said that "malicious slander" is behind an order by the US government to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, and maintained that its officials have never operated outside ordinary diplomatic norms.

Wang said the order to close the consulate violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, and seriously undermines China-US relations.

This is breaking down the bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American people, Wang said.

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