President Donald Trump said he supported a deal that would see popular video-sharing app TikTok partner with Oracle and Walmart and form a US company.
Trump targeted Chinese-owned TikTok for national security and data privacy concerns in the latest flashpoint in rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, reports AP.
Trump’s support for a deal comes just a day after the Commerce Department announced restrictions that if put in place could eventually make it nearly impossible for TikTok's legions of younger fans to use the app.
Trump said if completed, the deal would create a new company likely to be based in Texas.
“I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.”
Trump said the new company will be hiring at least 25,000 people and making a $5 billion contribution to a fund dedicated to education for Americans. “That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for,” he said.
TikTok said Oracle and Walmart could acquire up to a cumulative 20 percent stake in the new company in a financing round to be held before an initial public offering of stock, which Walmart said could happen within the next year. Oracle's stake would be 12.5 percent, and Walmart's would be 7.5 percent, the companies said in separate statements.
The deal will make Oracle responsible for hosting all TikTok's US user data and securing computer systems to ensure US national security requirements are satisfied. Walmart said it will provide its ecommerce, fulfillment, payments and other services to the new company.
“We are pleased that the proposal by TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart will resolve the security concerns of the US administration and settle questions around TikTok’s future in the US,” TikTok said in a statement.
Trump has been demanding that the US operations of TikTok be sold to a US company or else be shut down. He's also been targeting WeChat, another Chinese-owned app.
The administration contends that the user data collected by the two apps could be shared with the Chinese government. On Saturday, Trump said the US-based TikTok “will have nothing to do with China.” TikTok says it has 100 million US users.
On Friday, the US Commerce Department said it would bar TikTok from US app stores as of late Sunday. Further restrictions that would prevent TikTok from accessing essential internet services in the country would go into effect on Nov 12. Commerce said Saturday that it will delay the barring of TikTok from US app stores until Sept 27 at 11:59pm.
Commerce is imposing similar restrictions on WeChat, although all of the restrictions on that app are set to go into effect Sunday night at 11:59pm.
WeChat has millions of US users who rely on the app to stay in touch and conduct business with people and companies in China and around the world.
The Trump administration's aggressive tactics are part of its latest attempt to counter the influence of China. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment.
The US Treasury Department said Saturday that TikTok's deal still needs to close with Oracle and Walmart, and it also needs documentation and conditions to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
India, the second worst coronavirus-hit country, recorded 92,605 fresh cases on Sunday in the past 24 hours, officials said.
According to the India’s federal health ministry, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 5,400,619, reports Xinhua.
Meanwhile, 1,133 new deaths were also recorded.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across India is 5,400,619 and the death toll is 86,752, the health ministry said.
According to ministry officials, 4,303,043 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.
The number of active cases in the country right now is 1,010,824, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, 63,661,060 samples were tested so far across the country, out of which 1,206,806 tests were conducted on Saturday alone, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.
Currently, India is in the grip of COVID-19 pandemic and cases are increasing with every passing day.
Coronavirus cases across the globe reached 30,673,633 on Sunday, according to the Centre for System Science and Engineering of Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
Read Also: Covid-19: Global caseload now 3.67 mln
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 390,358 in Britain as the country reported 4,422 new cases, the highest daily increase since May 8.
According to official statistics revealed on Saturday, 41,759 people have so far died from coronavirus. The country reported 27 new deaths on Saturday, reports Xinhua.
The latest figures were revealed as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a second wave of COVID-19 in Britain is "coming in", and his government may need to "intensify things to help bring the rate of infections down".
Countries such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.
Also on Saturday, hundreds of people attended a rally in Trafalgar Square in central London during a protest against coronavirus lockdown measures.
Some of them became involved in "outbreaks of violence towards officers", the Metropolitan Police said.
Traffic was brought to a halt as protesters erected a blockade in a bid to prevent police officers from making arrests.
Among the demonstrators are coronavirus conspiracy theorists who claim that COVID-19 was a hoax, advocating against people wearing masks, and accusing the government of concealing the truth.
In a statement, Scotland Yard said officers had attempted to "explain, engage and encourage" the protesters to leave the rally, but many remained "putting themselves and others at risk".
Police has warned that "enforcement action" would be used to disperse those who remain in the area and those who remained there could be arrested.
Read Also: UK government cautions on virus
The trial of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death will generate massive public interest when it begins in March, but as it stands, most people who want to watch the proceedings will be out of luck.
The judge overseeing the case has yet to decide whether cameras will be allowed. Supporters of audio and visual coverage say the high-profile nature of Floyd’s death, the outrage that led to worldwide protests, and courtroom restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic make this the right time and case to allow cameras in court. But the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, opposes them, saying cameras would only create more problems.
“I just can’t think of a situation where it’s more important than a case like this for the public to see what’s actually transpiring in the courtroom,” said Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law.
“Justice that cannot be observed cannot really be considered justice. The public won’t believe what they can’t see,” she added.
In June, Judge Peter Cahill decided against allowing audio and visual coverage of pretrial proceedings because he said it would risk tainting the possible jury pool and the state opposed it. But Cahill, who is still weighing requests to try the defendants separately, said he would rule on trial audio and video coverage at a later date. It’s unclear when that ruling will come.
Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck even as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death was captured in widely seen bystander video that set off protests around the world.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired.
Unlike many other states, Minnesota does not allow cameras at criminal trials before sentencing unless the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys agree to them. The former officers have consented to cameras, but prosecutors have resisted, saying they may revisit the issue as the trial nears.
Defense attorneys say cameras would help ensure the trial is fair and open during the pandemic, when courtroom attendance has been limited to allow for social distancing. They have asked Cahill to grant camera access regardless of whether prosecutors agree.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank wrote in July that the state was concerned that live audio and visual coverage “may create more problems than they will solve.” Among them, Frank wrote, broadcast coverage of the trial could alter the way lawyers present evidence, force participants to endure even more media scrutiny or intimidate witnesses.
Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, said in a written response that it was “obvious” Frank and Attorney General Keith Ellison have never tried a televised high-profile case. “I have tried a handful in Wisconsin and there is absolutely no issue. You do not even know the cameras are there.”
A coalition of media organizations, including The Associated Press, has requested camera access, arguing that cameras would increase transparency, especially during the pandemic.
Kirtley, who is part of the coalition, said any concerns that cameras would be disruptive can be managed by the judge. Although overflow courtrooms can increase access, they are often small, their closed-circuit monitors may not provide the best quality and the experience is usually diminished. She said meaningful access is key, and there should be a presumption that the public has a right to see everything that happens in the courtroom.
Livestreaming proceedings to the court’s YouTube channel could be an option as well, she said. Other states have chosen to do that during the pandemic.
“It’s frankly time for us to move into the 21st century,” Kirtley said.
Raleigh Hannah Levine, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said many states have used cameras in the courtroom for years and concerns raised by Ellison’s team have been largely non-issues.
Most of the concerns, she said, stemmed from the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, where attorneys, the judge and witnesses were criticized for apparently performing for the camera. She said the world has come a long way since then and that the widespread use of social media, not to mention the increase in videoconferencing during the pandemic, has changed many people’s views about being captured on video.
Levine also said the Supreme Court — which made history in May by hearing arguments by phone and allowing the world to listen in for the first time — has long recognized that open proceedings can serve as a check on possible abuses and can prevent vigilantism.
“If people see how the trial is proceeding, they have less reason to take the matter into their own hands,” she said. If people can see how the judge handles a trial, how evidence is presented and hear witnesses for themselves, it can increase their confidence in the judicial system.
“Whichever way it comes out, people won’t be as outraged by a verdict that they dislike because they might understand how it was reached,” she said.
A presidential campaign that was already tugging at the nation’s most searing divides has been jolted by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, potentially reshaping the election at a moment when some Americans were beginning to cast ballots.
For months, the contest has largely centered on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, the biggest public health crisis in a century that has badly damaged his prospects for reelection as the U.S. death toll nears 200,000 people.
But in a flash, Ginsburg’s death on Friday added new weight to the election, with the potential that Trump or his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, could pick a successor who could decide abortion access, environmental regulations and the power of the presidency for a generation.
With early voting underway in five states and Election Day just over six weeks away, Democrats and Republicans were largely unified late Friday in praising Ginsburg as a leading legal thinker and advocate for women’s rights. But strategists in both parties also seized on the moment to find an advantage.
Facing the prospect of losing both the White House and the Senate, some Republicans viewed the Supreme Court vacancy as one of the few avenues remaining for Trump to galvanize supporters beyond his most loyal core of supporters, particularly suburban women who have abandoned the GOP in recent years.
“It’s hard to see how this doesn’t help Trump politically,” said veteran Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Biden wants this election to be a referendum on Trump. Now it’s going to be a referendum on whoever he nominates to the Supreme Court.”
Multiple Republicans close to the White House believe that Trump will likely nominate a woman, who could serve as a counterweight of sorts to Biden’s choice of running mate Kamala Harris, who would be the first woman to serve as vice president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged to quickly bring to a vote whomever Trump nominates. But he faces potential division within his own ranks, including from Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado. Collins and Gardner are in particularly tight races for reelection this fall.
That’s fueling optimism among Democrats that the vacancy could drive home the significance of the election to their base.
“The implications for Senate races could be profound,” said Democratic strategist Bill Burton.
“The presidential race will see some immediate churn as activists on both sides will be newly energized,” he continued. “The persistent question will be whether huge protests around the Capitol and the country will inflame such vigorous energy that it leads to awful clashes.”
McConnell, in a note to his GOP colleagues Friday night, urged them to “keep their powder dry” and not rush to declare a position on whether a Trump nominee should get a vote this year. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret,” he said.
Biden, who has already pledged to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, told reporters late Friday that “voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider.”
Democrats are enraged by McConnell’s pledge to move forward, especially after he blocked President Barack Obama from appointing a justice to replace Antonin Scalia nine months before the 2016 election. That decision cast a long political shadow, prompting Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor who mounted a spirited bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, to make expansion of the Supreme Court a centerpiece of his campaign. Biden rejected the idea.
Some Democrats privately concede that the Supreme Court vacancy could shift attention away from the virus, which has been a central element of Biden’s campaign.
Trump took the unprecedented step in 2016 of releasing a list of Supreme Court picks before he was elected, a move that was credited with unifying skeptical conservative voters to unite behind him. Republicans also believe that the high-profile debate over Trump’s last Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, helped the GOP retain the Senate during the 2018 midterms, when the party lost control of the House.
The president, seeking to build the same type of energy that surrounded his 2016 bid, released another list of potential Supreme Court nominees last week.
But some Democrats said the political environment is already overheated, with partisan divides over everything from wearing a mask to curb the pandemic to addressing climate change. Ginsburg’s death, they say, may not change that.
“It’s already pretty ugly out there,” said Megan Jones, a Democratic strategist who worked for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I do not know how this does not become a fight of epic proportions.”