Trump’s revenge on K-pop TikTok teenage opponents

This 23 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Teens Use TikTok to Sabotage President Trump’s Tulsa Rally

Was President Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma sabotaged by an army of internet-savvy teenagers? That’s who’s taking credit for the rally’s paltry turnout of 6,200 in an arena that holds 19,000. Trump’s campaign had boasted that over 1 million people had signed up to attend the rally, only adding to the embarrassment of a mostly-empty stadium. Teenagers across the country are now taking credit for the disaster. They did it by reserving large amounts of free tickets.

In this way, these TikTok teenage K-pop music fans saved many lives (though not, eg, the life of Trump-supporting coronavirus denialist Republican politician Herman Cain who did attend in Tulsa). If the Tulsa arena would have been jampacked with 19,000 people, then the Trump propaganda rally would have caused still many more COVID-19 infections than it already did with 6,200 persons present.

Now, Trump plots revenge against these teenage opponents.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

White House engineering a takeover of TikTok by Microsoft

3 August 2020

In a state-sponsored hostile takeover, Microsoft Corporation announced late Sunday that it was moving forward with plans to acquire the mobile app TikTok from the China-based corporation ByteDance following a discussion with President Donald Trump.

In a blog post, Microsoft said its CEO Satya Nadella spoke with the president and “is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.” The post said the acquisition would be completed “no later than September 15, 2020.”

The takeover would involve the absorption by Microsoft of the operations of the social media video sharing platform in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. According to Microsoft, the TikTok acquisition will be conducted with an unprecedented level of White House involvement. The statement says, “During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President.”

Additionally, Microsoft is indicating that the new owners of the extremely popular app will operate TikTok under the direct supervision of the state security institutions within the countries where it will operate. “The operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries.”

The Microsoft announcement comes as no surprise, following the appearance of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” earlier in the day. Pompeo said that President Donald Trump “will take action in the coming days” on mobile apps, including TikTok, as part of a growing White House offensive against China.

Although he stopped short of saying precisely what the president was going to do, Pompeo claimed without any evidence that “Chinese software companies doing business with the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat” are feeding data directly to the “national security apparatus” in China.

In a statement clearly designed to whip up anti-Chinese sentiments, Pompeo added that Americans using TikTok were having their facial profiles and “information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they’re connected to” scraped by the Chinese government. He went on to say that these are “true privacy issues for the American people” and that “President Trump has said, ‘Enough’, and we are going to fix it.”

Pompeo concluded, “I promise you, the President when he makes this decision will make sure that everything we have done drives this as close to zero risk for the American people.”

The short-form video sharing platform has approximately 80 million users in the US, 800 million worldwide and has been downloaded 2.2 billion times. ByteDance has said that its servers are located in the US and Singapore, and tech experts have pointed out that TikTok gathers user data in a manner similar to other popular social media apps.

That Pompeo is making hysterical and unsubstantiated statements is a demonstration of the desperate nature of the aggressive moves by the Trump White House against China. The administration is attempting to deflect the mass opposition to Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the authoritarian police measures against protesters across the country in the intensifying anti-China campaign in order to prop up his collapsing reelection prospects.

Meanwhile, it is well-known internationally—primarily due to the exposures by the former national security contractor Edward Snowden in 2013—that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is the number one electronic surveillance operation in the world, gathering data on every single person on earth and storing it in massive server farms such as the Utah Data Center.

On Friday, Trump told reporters that he was going to act soon to ban TikTok. Speaking with reporters on board Air Force One on a flight back to Washington from Florida, he said, “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.” He then called the ban a “severance” and said he had the authority to make the decision. “I can do it with an executive order.”

However, news of Microsoft’s involvement in a forced divestiture of TikTok by ByteDance emerged before the weekend as it was revealed that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) was involved. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, CFIUS began its investigation into TikTok last year following concerns raised in Congress. “The Treasury-led foreign-investment committee is made up of federal agencies and reviews deals involving foreign money to ensure they don’t put the country’s national security at risk.”

No doubt a major consideration in the negotiations over TikTok is the fact that the company has recently valued at $150 billion with major investments from US equity firms Coatue Management and Sequoia Capital. Along with the huge US user base, the entanglement of the American financial elite with TikTok make an outright ban a double-edged sword for President Trump and, in the end, it appears that it will be much better to just steal the company from ByteDance under the auspices of national security concerns.

An article in Forbes by Peter Cohen indicates the thinking among American business pirates. “If that deal goes through for the roughly $5 billion, I estimate TikTok’s US operations are worth, you should buy Microsoft shares. … the triple-digit acceleration of TikTok’s user base could add oomph to Microsoft’s top line,” Cohen wrote on Saturday.

The role of the Democrats in the US seizure of TikTok exposes the fact that they have no fundamental differences with the Trump White House. Stephen Mnuchin, who heads CFIUS and has been leading the negotiations with Microsoft and the TikTok investors over the takeover, said on “ABC News” on Sunday that the view that “there has to be a change” is shared by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat of California) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat of New York).

Schumer began ringing alarm bells about TikTok last November in a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy over the US military’s use of TikTok to recruit young people. Schumer wrote, “I urge you to assess the potential national security risks posed by China-owned technology companies before choosing to utilize certain platforms.”

Schumer’s campaign was echoed by Senator Marco Rubio (Republican of Florida), who took the issue to CFIUS, and Senator Josh Hawley (Republican of Missouri), who held a hearing on TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government.

In this particular instance, it is apparent that Pompeo and Trump have now borrowed a few lines from Schumer, who wrote another letter to Transportation Safety Administration Director David Pekoske in February that said, “National security experts have raised concerns about TikTok’s collection and handling of user data, including user content and communications, IP addresses, location-related data, metadata, and other sensitive personal information.”

Coronavirus news, worldwide

This 2 August 2020 video says about itself:

Is the world facing a second wave of COVID-19? | Inside Story

Just a few weeks ago, many governments thought they had the coronavirus under control.

The number of cases was falling and the curve of infections flattening.

Governments started lifting restrictions and reopening their economies.

Some were even praised for their successes and many people resumed their daily lives.

But that optimism hasn’t lasted. A sudden record number of infections is being reported in many countries.

Some call it a resurgence, others a comeback.

And scientists are debating how to identify and define what a ‘second wave‘ is.

The World Health Organization says the virus is unfolding in one big wave with no evidence it is impacted by changes in seasons.

And it predicts the pandemic is likely to go on for a long time.

Can lockdowns work this time?

And what will the fallout be?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra

The July days of the COVID-19 pandemic wreak havoc on the US. By Benjamin Mateus, 3 August 2020. The month of July saw over 2 million cases of COVID-19 and rising fatality rates in the Sun Belt states, and the pandemic is shifting to the Midwest.

At least 20 percent of US meatpackers may have contracted coronavirus. By Cordell Gascoigne, 3 August 2020. Over 50,000 food and agricultural workers have contracted COVID-19 in the United States, according to numbers compiled by the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN).

Honda orders office workers at Marysville, Ohio plant to man assembly lines as COVID-19 spreads. By Jessica Goldstein, 3 August 2020. As the pandemic ravages the workforce, management has pressed some office staff to work inside the plant.

Drive to reopen US schools continues despite mounting evidence of deadly consequences. By Evan Blake, 3 August 2020. More scientific research shows the immense dangers to the health and lives of teachers, students and parents by reopening schools while the pandemic continues out of control.

Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center intensive care unit head physician dies of COVID-19. By Dominic Gustavo, 3 August 2020. Health care workers have been placed on the front lines of the pandemic as safety precautions such as social distancing have been lifted.

Major League Baseball season on brink of collapse as COVID-19 continues to spread. By Alan Gilman, 3 August 2020. New positive cases have continued to emerge since the first outbreak in the Miami Marlins, causing postponement of 20 percent of last weekend’s games.

Scottish government prepares to reopen schools as new COVID-19 spikes emerge. By Steve James, 3 August 2020. The government intends to re-open all primary and secondary schools by August 18, despite COVID-19 outbreaks in call centres, distribution centres, pubs and care homes.

Israeli bus drivers’ strike over COVID-19 safety concerns. By Jean Shaoul, 30 July 2020.

COVID-19 “state of disaster” imposed across Australian state of Victoria. By Patrick O’Connor, 3 August 2020. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton characterised the sweeping measures as “shock and awe.”

British military accused of killing Afghan civilians

Demonstration in London, England against the war on Afghanistan

From daily News Line in Britain:


3rd August 2020

A unit of the British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS) has been accused of carrying out night missions in which they executed civilians in Afghan villages between 2010 and 2013.

According to court documents, the SAS unit killed over 33 Afghan people in 11 different night raids on homes.

The evidence had been previously withheld from an ongoing High Court legal case by the government, prompting a judge to demand a full explanation from British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

The documents show that SAS operatives falsified mission reports and that members of the British government have tried to keep them secret.

In one case under investigation, the unnamed SAS unit arrived by Chinook helicopter at the village of Gawahargin in southern Helmand province on February 16, 2011 to find a young man identified as Saddam, who was suspected of being a member of an enemy gang planting roadside bombs.

They raided his home but family members, including his 19-year-old brother Saifullah, stepped out into the night with their hands up.

The unit tied up the women and children and placed black hoods on their heads, detaining them in one part of the small compound.

In the next few minutes, gunfire was heard and after the troops left, Saifullah went back into the house to look for his father, but found him dead.

His brothers and cousin were also dead with several bullet holes in their heads.

In 2013, Saifullah’s uncle sued the UK government over unlawful detention and mistreatment.

He himself had been kept behind bars for 20 days after the raid before being released without charge.

Later in March 2014, the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police (RMP), who felt the claims were sufficiently serious, decided to launch an investigation.

Meanwhile, there is also a concern that of the 33 deaths, 10 were near-identical in their circumstances, where a captured male family member is sent back into his empty home to clear the way for the troops to carry out a search of the premises, only to get their hands on a weapon and attack the soldiers in ‘clearly impossible odds’.

THE TORY defence secretary Ben Wallace has been ordered by a judge to come up with an explanation as to why the British government has deliberately withheld evidence that indicates UK special forces troops executed 33 civilians in Afghanistan in 2011: here.