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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Agencies
September 14,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 14: In a stunning revelation, a Chinese virologist has claimed that the coronavirus was created in a government-controlled laboratory in Wuhan, the original epicentre of the outbreak and offered scientific evidence to back her claims.

In an exclusive conversation with 'Loose Women', a British talk show, Dr Li-Meng Yan, the scientist said she was assigned to investigate "new pneumonia" in Wuhan. She said that she discovered a cover-up operation regarding coronavirus during her investigation.

Dr Li-Meng, who specialised in virology and immunology at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, said she conducted two researches on new pneumonia in China first between December and early January and the second one in mid-January, before fleeing to the US from Hong Kong.

"I decided to report this development to my supervisor, who is also a World Health Organisation (WHO) consultant. There was no response from the WHO and my supervisor. Everyone warned me that do not cross the right line and keep silence or else I would be made to disappear," she said.

The virologist said she had expected her supervisor to "do the right thing on behalf of the Chinese government and WHO".

Several countries, including the US, have criticised both China and WHO for covering-up the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Li-Meng revealed she had contacted a famous Chinese YouTuber in the US. The expose, which was in Chinese, said that the Chinese Communist Party was covering up the COVID-19 crisis and there was a human-to-human transmission of the virus.

She also said that coronavirus is a "high-mutant virus" which will become an outbreak soon and the seafood market in Wuhan and the virus's intermediate hosts were just a "smokescreen".

The doctor then made the stunning revelation that the "virus is not from nature" and it was from a "laboratory controlled by the Chinese government in Wuhan".

"This is based on the China Military Institute that discovered and owned some bad coronavirus named CC45 and ZXC41. Based on that, after lab modification becomes a novel virus," she said.

Asked if she had scientific proof about the revelation, Dr Li-Meng said she has intelligence from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local doctors and other people across China. "These are the truths and all other things were covered up," she added.

The virologist said she is working on a scientific report with a small group of top scientists across the world and will be published soon.

"There are two reports. The first one will come in several days and it will tell the people all the evidence," she said, adding that the coronavirus is a highly contagious and a dangerous virus.

Asked whether she was worried about her safety after fleeing Hong Kong, the doctor remarked she wanted to deliver the message as soon as possible to the world.

"It was very scary at that time. But I had to do it because I am a doctor and I cannot see it happen. If I do not tell the truth to the world, I will be regretful. So, this foundation which is based in New York helped me to secretly leave Hong Kong. They help people who are against the Chinese government," she added.

Giving an insight into her unpublished scientific report, Dr Li-Meng said anyone, even those who do not have knowledge of biology, can read it.

"The genome sequence is like our human fingerprint. So, based on this you can recognise and identify this thing. 
So, I used the evidence existing in the genome sequence of Sars-CoV-2 to tell people why this came from China and why they are the only ones who made it," she stated.

She further said, "You can check, identify and verify it by yourself. It is a critical thing for us to know the origins of the virus. If not, it will be life-threatening for everyone."

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News Network
September 14,2020

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Washington, Sept 14: Recently, Facebook in a bid to cash-in on the TikTok ban in several global regions, launched Reels, its own short video sharing feature on Instagram. Now, Google has announced the its own version dubbed as YouTube Shorts.

Chris Jaffe, VP of Product Management, YouTube, Google noted that user-generated short videos were actually started on YouTube and  the latter's first upload a short 18-second video called 'Me at the zoo' on April 23, 2005.

"As technology advances, creators and artists can now take advantage of the incredible power of smartphones to easily create and publish high-quality content wherever they are in the world. And people can be entertained and informed by bite-sized content in the spare minutes of the day," said Jaffe.

Considering the immense popularity of TikTok in India, Google has decided to introduce YouTube Shorts beta with a handful of new creative tools to select people in the subcontinent. Based on the feedback, it will be improvised and made available in other global regions in the coming months.

YouTube Shorts: Key features you should know

1) It offers a multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together,
2) There will be an option to record with music from a large library of songs that will continue to grow
3) There will be speed controls that will give users the flexibility to be creative in their performance
4) There will be a timer and countdown to easily record, hands-free. The maximum video length will be 15 seconds.

Users can watch other short videos on YouTube. "We have released a prominent new spot for the create icon on Android, starting in India. We'll continue to expand to iOS devices and in more countries soon. You can also expect more creation features in the coming months," Jaffe noted.

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News Network
September 20,2020

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Islamabad, Sept 20:  Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said that as many as 20 million more girls may not return to schools even after the Covid-19 crisis is over.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday, the Pakistani Nobel laureate acknowledged that Covid-19 had been “a striking setback to our collective goals”, such as educating women, Dawn newspaper reported.

“On education alone, 20 million more girls may never go back to the classroom when this crisis ends (and) the global education funding gap has already increased to 200 billion dollars per year,” Malala, 23, who once took a bullet from a Pakistani Taliban militant for campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan, said.

Malala reminded the international community that sustainable global goals, set by the UN five years ago, represented the future for millions of girls who wanted education and were fighting for equality.

Noting that little had been done in the last five years to achieve those goals, she asked the world body, “when are you planning to do the work”?

“When will you commit the necessary funding to give every child 12 years of quality education? When will you prioritise peace and protect refugees? When will you pass policies to cut carbon emissions?” she asked.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who also addressed the virtual event, underlined the need to “strike out for a world of dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet”.

“We must look beyond the current crisis and set our sights high… to show that transformation is possible and is happening right now,” he said.

The UN chief urged rich nations to address the immediate, medium and longer-term needs of developing countries and to support a UN debt service suspension initiative to at least the end of 2021.

He also stressed the need for transition to a more equitable and sustainable economy, ending fossil fuel subsidies and placing women at the centre of building back.

Deputy Secretary General Amina J Mohammed noted that this “transformation” was already “happening everywhere and must not leave anyone behind”.

The head of the UN Develop¬ment Fund (UNDP), Achim Steiner, warned that for the first time in 30 years, the march of progress in human development was expected to go sharply into reverse.

“Building people’s resilience against vulnerability, risk and deprivation, and helping them to get on their feet if they falter, defines social protection in the 21st century,” he said.

Munir Akram, president of the Econo¬mic and Social Council, said that the “global magnitude of the challenge we are facing” as a result of Covid-19, was “the greatest since the creation of the United Nations”.

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