World en Tue May 19 18:04:18 IST 2020 trump-replies-after-twitter-flags-his-tweet-for-glorifying-violence <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Nearly an hour after midnight on May 29, US President Donald Trump filed his final tweet after a long day that saw the US death toll from COVID-19 cross 100,000 while the president escalated his stand-off with social media platform Twitter with an <a title="Trump signs executive order targeting tech giants after Twitter fact-checking row" href="">executive order</a>&nbsp;that oculd affect their legal immunity.<br> </p> <p>Trump's tweet referred to the <a href="">violent protests in Minneapolis</a> over the killing of a 46-year-old African American man by a police officer who appeared to use disproportionate force. Several establishments had been set on fire including a police station as thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets against George Floyd’s killing, prompting the state governor to call in the National Guard.<br> </p> <p>While Floyd’s killing sparked nationwide outrage over police brutality and reignited the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Trump’s tweet focused on the violence committed by protesters, calling them ‘thugs’ and implying that they would be shot.<br> </p> <p>“..These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Trump tweeted, before calling it a night.<br> </p> <p>Shortly after, Twitter flagged his tweet for ‘glorifying violence’, screening it behind a disclaimer stating that it had violated Twitter’s rules. It was an unprecedented move on the part of Twitter against the official handle on a sitting US President.<br> </p> <p>In a blog post, Twitter justified the action, linking to its policies for the same. While such tweets are usually deleted, under exceptional circumstances that involve tweets by a publicly elected official they may be kept up for public scrutiny with a disclaimer.<br> </p> <p>“We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realdonaldtrump,” Twitter’s official handle tweeted. “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”<br> </p> <p>“This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today. You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence,” Twitter said.<br> </p> <p>Hours later, Trump responded, doubling down on his claim that Twitter was biased against Republicans. “Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies &amp; propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party. They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives &amp; the President of the United States. Section 230 should be revoked by Congress. Until then, it will be regulated!” Trump tweeted.<br> </p> <p>The move comes on the same day that Trump signed an executive order that would increase the liability companies like Twitter face for content posted on their platform. While such internet companies were earlier protected under Section 230, which protects intermediaries from being sued for libel for what their users post, the executive order removes this protection in instances where such platforms engage in moderation themselves in instances that can be considered<br> </p> <p>“Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate,” the order reads.<br> </p> <p>Platforms could now be treated as publishers and not neutral platforms, and would be open to lawsuits. The order makes a request to the Federal Communications Commission to clarify whether companies lose Section 230 immunity if they restrict access to material in “bad faith”.<br> </p> <p>“Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet,” Trump’s executive order read.<br> </p> <p>Twitter justified the decision to screen his tweet, saying, “We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”<br> </p> <p>“As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”<br> </p> <p>Both Twitter and Google criticised the executive order.<br> </p> <p>“This EO is a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law. #Section230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and it’s underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms,” Twitter said in a statement.<br> </p> <p>A Google spokesperson told TechCrunch that “Undermining Section 230 in this way would hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.”<br> </p> <p>Republicans have long accused internet companies like Google of harboring political bias against Conservative politicians. When Members of Congress pulled up Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify on the same in 2018, he was asked why, among other things, Donald Trump’s image was among the first search results for ‘idiot’.<br> </p> <p>Asides from accusations of bias, the growing calls for internet companies to regulate fake news on their platform have left politicians like Trump at the frontline of their moderation policies. Media analyst David Markowitz had in a Forbes article estimated that Trump lied up to 23 times a day on average from the beginning of 2020 until early April. Over half of the fact-checks run by Politifact on Donald Trump led to results coming up as either “mostly false”, “false” or “pants on fire” [the highest level of misleading content].<br> </p> <p>Twitter’s move to mark one of Trump’s tweets with a <a href="">fact-check warning </a>was the first such instance of this being applied to the president on such a large platform. The move angered Trump and prompted a <a href="">face-off between the President and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey</a>. Dorsey said he stood by the decision and urged the president not to involve Twitter employees in his future retribution, after Trump threatened to “close down” social media platforms, accusing them of “totalling silencing” conservatives voices.</p> Fri May 29 17:34:30 IST 2020 beyond-conservation-how-environmental-ngos-are-evolving <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are usually thought to focus on environmental protection and conservation. A new study shows that environmental groups are moving beyond their traditional role of nature conservation and are increasingly involved in climate-change politics and environmental justice. Having gained more social acceptance as a result of the climate crisis, their focus has now been shifted to more active roles. However, their approach is largely determined by regional disparities in human and financial resources.</p> <p>In order to understand what these groups are doing and why, researchers from McGill University, the University of Georgia and the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research analysed data from 679 environmental NGOs from all over the world.</p> <p>The importance of climate politics (engagement on climate change) and environmental justice (respect for nature and human rights) in the mission statements of NGOs were grossly underestimated in previous studies. The research team calculated a power index for the NGOs based on their human and financial resources and found that more than 40 per cent of the most powerful organisations focus on these areas in their mission.</p> <p>"There are more powerful organisations working on climate issues than on issues of biodiversity loss or land degradation," says co-author Klara Winkler, a postdoctoral researcher from McGill University. "It is important to be aware that some environmental issues garner more attention than others because it means that these other issues risk being neglected or even forgotten."</p> <p>The <i>study, Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and Global Environmental Discourse</i>, published in PLOS ONE, also shows regional disparities in human resources and financial capacity.</p> <p>Environmental NGOs in Africa and Oceania have the lowest-median number of employees and African NGOs have the lowest-median annual budgets. While organisations in North America and Europe have the highest-median financial capacity, Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest-median number of employees.</p> <p>According to the researchers, these differences likely reflect both labour costs and financial flows, where environmental NGOs in the Global South employ more people with less money while groups in the Global North handle more money with fewer employees. This disparity is also indicative of a global division of labour where northern environmental NGOs act as donors or coordinators for large projects, while southern organisations are subcontracted for implementation.</p> <p>"The findings give us an indication of how feasible it is for NGOs to advocate and implement their agendas in practice. Seeing where the disparities and limitations are in different regions can help us better understand observed differences in environmental policies and politics," says co-author Stefan Partelow from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Germany.</p> Fri May 29 14:38:25 IST 2020 us-to-terminate-ties-to-who-deny-entry-to-some-chinese-citizens-trump <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>US President Donald Trump on Friday said that the US is terminating its relationship with the <a title="Trump tears into WHO, threatens to permanently halt funding" href="">World Health Organisation</a> as he blamed it and China for the deaths and destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe.</p> <p>Stating that the funding of the WHO would now be diverted to other global public health organisations, Trump announced a series of decisions against China including issuing a proclamation to deny entry to certain Chinese nationals and tightening of regulations against Chinese investments in the US.</p> <p>Trump also announced that the US will end special treatment of Hong Kong in response to Chinese imposition of new controls.</p> <p>He said that the US will revise its travel advisory to warn of surveillance in Hong Kong.</p> <p>“The world needs answers from China,” Trump said in his aggressive speech on a bright sunny day from the Rose Garden of the White House.</p> <p>The president, however, did not take any questions.</p> <p>For decades it has ripped off the US like no one has ever done before, he said, reiterating his charges against China.</p> <p>“China not only stole intellectual property, took away billions of dollars from the US and off-shored the jobs, but also violated its commitment under the World Trade Organization,” he said, adding that it was able to get away with the theft, like no one before because of past politicians and past presidents.</p> <p>China, he alleged, has unlawfully claimed territories in the Indo-Pacific, threatening freedom of navigation and international trade and broke its word to the world on ensuring the autonomy of Hong Kong.</p> <p>“The United States wants an open and constructive relationship with China, but achieving this relationship requires us to vigorously defend our national interest,” he said.</p> <p>Trump alleged that the Chinese government has continually violated its promises to the US and many other nations.</p> <p>“These plain facts cannot be overlooked or swept aside,” he said.</p> <p>Observing that the world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government, Trump reiterated that China's cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives and over one million lives worldwide.</p> <p>“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organisation and pressured the World Health Organisation to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities. Countless lives have been taken, and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe,” he said.</p> <p>China, he said, has total control over the WHO despite only paying $40 million per year compared with what the US has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year.</p> <p>&nbsp;“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act. Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump said.</p> <p>The world needs answers from China on the virus, Trump said.</p> <p>“We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China? It went nowhere else; it didn't go to Beijing, it went nowhere else, but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States. The death and destruction caused by this is incalculable,” he said.</p> <p>“We must have answers not only for us but for the rest of the world. This pandemic has underscored the crucial importance of building up America's economic independence, re-shoring our critical supply chains and protecting America's scientific and technological advances. For years, the government of China has conducted illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many,” Trump said.</p> <p>Trump said that later in the day, he will issue a proclamation to better secure America’s vital university research and “to suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who have been identified as potential security risks”.</p> <p>Asserting that he is also taking action to protect the integrity of America's financial system, Trump said he is instructing his presidential working group on financial markets to study the differing practices of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets with a goal of protecting American investors.</p> <p>“Investment firms should not be subjecting their clients to the hidden and undue risks associated with financing Chinese companies that do not play by the same rules. Americans are entitled to fairness and transparency,” he said.</p> <p>Referring to the unilateral Chinese action control over Hong Kong security, Trump said that this was a plain violation of Beijing's treaty obligations with the UK in the declaration of 1984 and explicit provisions of Hong Kong's Basic Law, which has 27 years to go.</p> <p>“China's latest incursion, along with other recent developments that degraded the territory's freedoms, makes clear that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to warrant the special treatment that we have afforded the territory since the handover,” he said.</p> <p>“China has replaced its promised formula of one country, two systems with one country, one system; therefore, I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,” Trump added.</p> Sat May 30 08:01:17 IST 2020 trump-signs-executive-order-targeting-tech-giants-after-twitter-fact-checking-row <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at stripping social media giants like Twitter and Facebook of legal immunity for the content posted by third-party users.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The order comes a day after Trump accused Twitter of election interference, after it added fact-check links to two of his tweets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Today I'm signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people. Currently, social media giants, like Twitter, receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they're a neutral platform - which they're an editor with a viewpoint," Trump told reporters after he signed an executive order on Thursday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The executive order calls for new regulations, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield. "That's a big deal. They have a shield; they can do what they want. They have a shield. They're not going to have that shield," Trump asserted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Trump said that the executive order further instructs the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This authority resides in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Trump also said he was directing the Attorney General to work cooperatively with the States.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"He's going to be working very much and very closely in cooperation with the states to enforce their own laws against such deceptive business practices. The states have brought in powerful authority to regulate in this arena, and they'll be doing it also and we encourage them to do it - if they see exactly as we've been seeing," he noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The President said that a handful of powerful social media monopolies controlled a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We know what they are; we don't have to name them," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These social media outlets have had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There's no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction. And that includes individual people controlling vast amounts of territory," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asserting that his administration can't allow that to happen, especially when they go about doing what they are doing, because they are doing things incorrectly.&nbsp; "They have points of view. And if we go by that, it's actually amazing that there was a success in 2016. But we can't let this continue to happen. It's very, very unfair," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadow, ban are editorial decisions, pure and simple. They are editorial decisions.&nbsp; In those moments, Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform, and they become an editor with a viewpoint, he asserted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I think we can say that about others also, whether you're looking at Google, whether you're looking at Facebook and perhaps others," Trump said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"One egregious example is when they try to silence views that they disagree with by selectively applying a "fact check" - a fact check. What they choose to fact check and what they choose to ignore or even promote is nothing more than a political activism group or political activism. It is inappropriate," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power and more reach than any phone company in the United States. More reach, actually, than your newspapers, by far. More reach than a lot of your traditional forms of communication," Trump said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said he is directing his administration to develop policies and procedures to ensure taxpayer dollars are not going into any social media company that repress free speech.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The government spends billions of dollars on giving them money. They're rich enough. So we're going to be doing none of it or a very little of it," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"As president, I'll not allow the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations. Many people have wanted this to be done by presidents for a long time. Now we're doing it. I'm sure they'll be doing a lawsuit, and I'm also sure that we're going to be going for legislation, in addition to this. The legislation will start immediately," said the president.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that it was time to, quote, "get the facts" about Twitter and other social media platforms targeting their bias against President Trump and conservatives online.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Twitter's head of site integrity has tweeted that there are, quote, 'actual Nazis' in the White House, and no fact-check label was ever applied to this absolutely outrageous, offensive, and false claim made against the White House and its employees," she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"While big tech is quick to censor the President, quick to censor some of his top employees, they are very reluctant, it seems, to label some of the actions by Chinese officials, some of the misinformation that has been spread by China," she said.&nbsp;</p> Fri May 29 12:22:46 IST 2020 watch-90-year-old-grandma-shields-grandson-from-gun-wielding-cops <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A few days after four Minneapolis police were fired for the death of a black man who was held down with knee even as he pleaded that he couldn't breath, another shocking video in which a 90-year-old woman was seen shielding her grandson from police has gone viral.</p> <p>The incident reportedly happened on May 16.</p> <p>The police tried to pull over 21-year-old Tye Anderson in Midland of Texas after he failed to stop at a signal. After he stopped the car, the police officers asked him to get out of the vehicle.</p> <p>"Upon exiting the vehicle, officers advised the subject to walk towards them to be detained. The subject then stopped and laid on the ground. During that time an elderly female walked towards the subject and stood next to him," a statement from Midland police read, according to media reports.</p> <p>After the man stepped out of the vehicle and laid down on the ground, an elderly woman is seen walking out of the house in front of which the young man had stopped his car, and tried to intervene. When the police handcuffs the man, the woman, who walked with the help of a walking stick topped and fell on him.</p> <p>Anderson has been arrested for evading arrest.</p> Fri May 29 23:16:13 IST 2020 ladakh-standoff-china-rejects-trumps-offer-to-mediate <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>China on Friday rejected US President <a title="Mediation offer: Modi, Trump haven’t spoken since April 4, say govt sources" href="">Donald Trump's offer to mediate</a> between India and China to end their current border standoff, saying the two countries do not need the intervention of a "third party" to settle their differences.</p> <p>In a surprise move, Trump on Wednesday offered to "mediate or arbitrate" the raging border dispute between India and China, saying he was "ready, willing and able" to ease the tensions, amid the continuing standoff between the armies of the two Asian giants.</p> <p>Reacting for the first time to the US president's offer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the two countries did not want the "intervention" from a third party to resolve the current military standoff.</p> <p>“Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels,” Zhao told a media briefing here when asked about Trump’s offer.</p> <p>&nbsp;“We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of the third party,” he said.</p> <p>"We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!" Trump tweeted on Wednesday.</p> <p>He reiterated his offer on Thursday while speaking to reporters at the White House.</p> <p>Responding to a question on his tweet, Trump renewed his offer, saying if called for help, "I would do that (mediate). If they thought it would help" about "mediate or arbitrate, I would do that," he said.</p> <p>India on Wednesday said it was engaged with China to peacefully resolve the border row, in a carefully crafted reaction to Trump's offer to arbitrate between the two Asian giants to settle their decades-old dispute.</p> <p>"We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve it," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, replying to questions at an online media briefing.</p> <p>President Trump has previously offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, a proposal that was rejected by New Delhi.</p> <p>At the Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing, the spokesman said “China’s position on the China-India boundary question is consistent and clear,”</p> <p>“We have been implementing the important consensus reached by leaders of both the countries, observing the bilateral agreements and have been committed to safeguarding territorial sovereignty and security, stability and peace in the border area,” Zhao said.</p> <p>He reiterated his earlier comment that “Now the overall situation in the China-India border area is stable and controllable,” he said, once again indicating a conciliatory tone amidst the tense situation along the border.</p> <p>Several areas along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-ups by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.</p> <p>India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing's contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.</p> <p>The ministry of external affairs said all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, asserting that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, it said, India was deeply committed to protect its sovereignty and security.</p> <p>MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control and that Indian troops take a very responsible approach towards border management.</p> <p>"The two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations, which may arise in border areas, peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels," he said at an online media briefing.</p> <p>The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.</p> <p>Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.</p> Fri May 29 15:40:36 IST 2020 pm-modi-is-not-in-a-good-mood-says-trump-after-talk-over-china-border-dispute <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Reiterating his <a href="">offer to mediate on the border dispute between India and China</a>, US President Donald Trump has said that he spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is not in a &quot;good mood&quot; over the &quot;big conflict&quot; between the two countries. Interacting with journalists in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday, Trump said a &quot;big conflict&quot; was going on between India and China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;They like me in India. I think they like me in India more than the media likes me in this country. And, I like Modi. I like your prime minister a lot. He is a great gentleman,&quot; he said, according to reports. &quot;They have a big conflict, India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy and probably China is not happy,&quot; he said when asked if he was worried about the border situation between India and China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I can tell you; I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He is not in a good mood about what is going on with China,&quot; Trump said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A day earlier, the president offered to mediate between India and China. Trump on Wednesday said in a tweet that he was &quot;ready, willing and able to mediate&quot; between the two countries. Responding to a question on his tweet, Trump reiterated his offer, saying if called for help, &quot;I would do that [mediate]. If they thought it would help, I would do that,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, India had ignored&nbsp;<a title="Trump offers to mediate 'raging' India-China border dispute" href="" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-size: 0.8125rem;">Trump's offer</a>, saying they are &quot;engaged with the Chinese side to resolve the issue&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing his weekly briefing, the ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that India and China had several established mechanisms at both the military and diplomatic fronts to resolve border situations, when they arise, through dialogue. He said that the Indian military scrupulously follows the guidelines laid down by the leaders of both the countries on this issue. He, however, emphasised that India remains firm in its resolve to ensure the nation's sovereignty and national security.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from PTI</p> Fri May 29 09:18:37 IST 2020 south-asia-after-covid-19-a-great-power-game-lies-in-wait-claims-new-study <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>How has the novel coronavirus affected South Asia, the world’s poorest and most populous region, where almost 1.9 billion people live in eight countries? Healthwise, the numbers are far better than what was projected at the start of the pandemic, but the economic downturn is a looming spectre. There will be massive slowdowns in many of the countries, and some are expected to go negative in its financial growth outlook, which could massively destabilise the region.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a <a href="">Hudson Institute think-tank report jointly authored by Indian-origin Hudson research scholar Aparna Pande and former Pakistan Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani</a>, the US and India must develop a plan to counter a possible effort by China to strengthen its position in the Indian Ocean by deepening ties with Pakistan and Sri Lanka by taking advantage of their economic woes due to the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There have been considerable concerns in India over China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean region. India has been trying to expand maritime cooperation with countries of the region including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore, primarily with an aim to check the growing Chinese assertiveness. According to the report titled 'Crisis from Kolkata to Kabul: COVID-19's Impact on South Asia', the coronavirus pandemic threatens not only lives and livelihoods in South Asia; it could also be the precursor of significant political and strategic shifts in the region.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bangladesh and Indian economies will survive the devastation, but their governments will have to restore growth by protecting and encouraging investment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Pakistan and Sri Lanka will likely move in the direction of negative growth and will need debt relief from their international creditors. Without it, Sri Lanka faces the prospect of a sovereign debt default. Both countries are likely to look to China as their benefactor, as their leaders have tended to do for a while,&quot; it said. China will most likely press its advantage by bailing out South Asia's indebted governments, &quot;in exchange for its pound of flesh&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;This would come at the expense of India's security and US influence in the region. India and the United States must develop a plan to counter efforts China will likely make to strengthen its position in the Indian Ocean by deepening ties with Pakistan and Sri Lanka,&quot; said the Hudson report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been a target of Beijing's ambitious Belt and Road (BRI) scheme, criticised for creating 'debt traps' by burdening fiscally weak countries with unsustainable debt. The BRI is Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature global infrastructure policy. First announced in 2013, the project promises to build ports, roads and railways to revive the ancient Silk Road and create new trade corridors linking China to Asia, Africa and Europe. The BRI also includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which India opposed as it goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In December 2017, Sri Lanka handed over the control of the southern sea port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease, triggering concern over Beijing's efforts to expand influence in the Indian Ocean region. Beijing has recently granted an &quot;urgent&quot; loan of $500 million to Colombo to help it fight the virus, which has infected over 1,465 people and claimed 10 lives in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this month, China inked a $5.8 billion deal with Islamabad to build a dam in Gilgit-Baltistan, a move strongly opposed by India which said that carrying out such projects in territories under Pakistan's illegal occupation was not proper. &quot;Given that Pakistan has fewer resources to further its military buildup against India, it is likely to escalate the use of sub-conventional warfare [terrorism] in an effort to gain the upper hand against much-larger India,&quot; the report noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pakistan, it said, might seek relief from terrorism-related strictures on grounds that it needs space to deal with the coronavirus emergency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the past, Pakistan has used natural disasters to expand terrorist infiltrations into Kashmir and India. Indian officials are concerned that Pakistan could use the COVID-19 crisis as a distraction to do the same, the report observed. &quot;Although a full-blown war in the subcontinent is unlikely, tensions between India and Pakistan will probably continue to impede efforts for regional cooperation. Such cooperation could ease the task of economic reconstruction that will almost certainly take place when the pandemic has died down. India could, and probably will, try to work with other countries in the region, but not Pakistan,&quot; the report said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>India</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report highlights&nbsp;Modi's centrepiece coronavirus policies—limited testing combined with strict quarantine of those with a travel history or symptoms, a strict nation-wide lockdown. It noted that managing the COVID-19 crisis well is politically important for Modi and the BJP, given its recent defeats in state elections, CAA protests, economic slowdown and &quot;unrest over communal majoritarian policies&quot;. But, it noted that states not run by the BJP have been more proactive since the beginning of the virus outbreak.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the economic side, the IMF has predicted India's GDP growth to plunge to 1.9 per cent, with fears that it could go negative. On May 19, Modi announced an all-encompassing economic relief package of $264 billion (20 trillion Indian rupees) and states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh announced &quot;labour reforms&quot;. The report lauded these measures: &quot;If these changes spread to other states, they could provide manufacturing with the requisite boost it needs and also help with employment and job creation. Many countries and investors want to move their manufacturing out of China. India, with a large labor force and proximity to China, could become the venue for relocation.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report, citing Delhi riots and TV news channels blaming COVID-19 on Muslims, also called for mending of communal policies and bringing about &quot;social cohesion&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the external affairs side, the report noted the SAARC COVID-19 fund with Indian contribution of $10 million, medical teams in Nepal, Maldives, emergency supply of hydroxychloroquine, as positive regional outlook measures by India that could reap dividends.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Pakistan:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report notes that Pakistan faces the biggest threat from the coronavirus, in the number of cases, the slow response to the pandemic, continuing religious congregations as opposed to social distancing, sluggishness in closing borders with China, and evacuating its citizens. Discrimination against minorities is growing, the military is now actively intervening in the civilian government affairs and, on the economic side, growth is expect to touch negative 1.5 per cent.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;In late March, the government announced a relief package of 1,200 billion Pakistani rupees ($5.5 billion).&nbsp;The government’s relief package did little to deal with the underlying weakness of the economy, including the potential for diminished exports and remittances and high indebtedness. Since 2018, loans from the IMF and from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar have proven insufficient to boost Pakistan’s economy, burdened by years of heavy military spending and debt servicing,&quot; according to the report.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the foreign policy side, Pakistan is still obsessed with the Kashmir issue. &quot;Pakistan remains weak, having put most of its eggs in China’s basket. Although India faces international pushback over rising intolerance and its policies in Kashmir, there is little support for Pakistan’s stance against India.&quot; Moreover, it is still waiting to become the sole power in Afghanistan (via Taliban), after US withdraws its armed forces.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Afghanistan</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It responded sluggishly to the pandemic, late to close its borders, with weak healthcare system courtesy the constant wars, and a spiralling economy. &quot;In an attempt to fight the pandemic, the government set aside $25 million to cover immediate expenses, but according to the IMF, the country will need $2 billion. The Afghan economy is dependent on external assistance,&quot; the report noted.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The country also has to deal with Taliban insurgency, rise in attacks after the signing of the US-Taliban “peace deal” on February 29, 2020, and&nbsp;“Washington’s disregard for Afghanistan’s political and electoral politics/calendar in favor of its “peace” deal with the Taliban”.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Bangladesh</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the fastest growing economies in South Asia, it could face serious issues due to the coronavirus. &quot;Bangladesh’s economy is heavily dependent on the ready-made garment industry, which contributes 86 percent of its exports,&quot; the report noted, adding that “overdependence on a single sector and weak global demand will complicate Bangladesh’s efforts of diversification&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;India and Bangladesh have had good relations over the last decade. In the months before the pandemic, the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks on Muslims in India, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) and the National Population Register that target primarily Bangladeshi migrants in India’s north east, has created political tensions between both countries. All this has risked fueling an anti-Indian resentment inside Bangladesh which will not only hurt India-Bangladesh relations but also help Islamist extremist groups like Jamaat e Islami,&quot; the report noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Nepal</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With a weak healthcare system and rising popular discontent over the handling of COVID-19, Nepal could face political issues. &quot;Since 2008, with the abolition of the monarchy, Nepal has attempted to build a stable political and social system,&quot; the report noted. &quot;This has been challenged, not only by the India-China rivalry and natural disasters, but also by the Madhesi issue, the issue of refugees [from Bhutan, Tibet, and Sikkim], and the reluctance of the Maoists to fully integrate within the existing system.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The post-pandemic era will have huge implications on Nepal's foreign policy choices,&nbsp;On the geopolitical front, the report notes that “the contending initiatives of China’s BRI and the US Indo-Pacific strategy will have implications for Nepal’s foreign policy choices”.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sri Lanka</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the report: &quot;Sri Lanka, despite one of the highest scores on human capital and a critical geostrategic location in the Indian Ocean region, was hurting economically well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Its economy, according to the World Bank, was growing at three percent—the lowest growth rate in South Asia. In addition, Sri Lanka is highly indebted, and China is a major creditor.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The lion’s share of Sri Lanka’s external debt is in the form of sovereign bonds. Talk of a debt moratorium creates concerns that the country is heading towards a&nbsp;sovereign default.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from agencies</p> Fri May 29 08:19:51 IST 2020 ex-malaysia-pm-mahathir-expelled-from-ruling-party-for-defying-muhyiddin <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mahathir Mohamad, 94, was on Thursday expelled along with four other MPs from the ruling Bersatu party after he defied Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s leadership by crossing the floor in parliament to sit with the opposition members on May 18.<br> </p> <p>Mahathir was himself ousted from power in February after a coalition he helped put together to win the 2018 election fell apart. As the country’s longest-serving prime minister (in office from 1981 to 2003), he had come out of retirement in 2018 to challenge the Barisan Nasional coalition—his former party—that had ruled Malaysia since 1957.<br> </p> <p>His removal on Thursday from Bersatu was accompanied by a letter from the party that was widely circulated on social media, which said that Mahathir had violated the party’s constitution. On May 18, Mahathir sat with the opposition bloc in parliament instead of with the Perikatan Nasional coalition led by Bersatu president Muhyiddin,<br> </p> <p>Mahathir later proposed a motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister Muhyiddin, which was accepted by the speaker. However, a parliamentary sitting that could have precipitated a vote of no-confidence was turned to an address by King Abdullah, which led Mahathir to declare that &quot;democracy is dead&quot; in Malaysia.<br> </p> <p>His opposition to Muhyiddin stems from the latter’s decision to bring Bersatu into a coalition with the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) parties. Mahathir opposed going into an alliance with the United Malays National Organisation, which had been accused of graft in the run-up to the 2018 election.<br> </p> <p>The four MPs who were expelled along with Mahathir say the decision to remove them was illegal. In a joint statement, they said, &quot;We do not accept these wrongful dismissals as they are clearly against the law and strip away our right to act...not just for ourselves but for all grassroots members of Bersatu.&quot;<br> </p> Fri May 29 00:03:24 IST 2020 us-man-shot-at-protest-for-african-american-who-was-killed-in-custody <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Citizens in Minneapolis have been out protesting after a video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of an African-American, eventually killing him went viral.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>And now, one man has been shot dead amid the protests. The police are now looking into the shooting along with investigating the death of George Floyd, that took place in custody.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>After Floyd’s death, a ruckus broke out in the city. After protestors gathered early afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city, protestors were milling in streets, running in and out of stores, looting them. Some protestors set fires on the street.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>According to police spokesman John Elder, officers responded to a report of stabbing near the protests, when they found a man lying on the sidewalk with what turned out to be a bullet wound.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>He said that a suspect is in custody and investigations on what led to the shooting is still going on.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>It was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom the police had detained for trying to lay at a grocery store with counterfeit money. The officers involved in the incident that led to Floyd’s death were fired immediately and Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey called the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck to be criminally charged.&nbsp;</p> <p>Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case.</p> <p>Floyd’s death is being protested in California too. A protest in Los Angeles blocked a freeway and protesters shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.<br> </p> <p>Celebrities have also shown condemnation towards Floyd’s death on social media.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Chance the Rapper at a rally in Chicago said, “We are not going to let this sh— keep happening.”</p> <p>Singer Demi Lovato, on Instagram, called for how’re people to stand up against police brutality.</p> <p>Director Ava Duvernay wrote on Twitter, “You deserved your breath, your dignity, your life. Not to die on the street,&nbsp; murdered by a white cop’s knee on your neck. You deserve our tears, our rage, our action. We must act— for you and for all of those where no camera was present. We must. #GeorgeFloyd"</p> Thu May 28 18:26:41 IST 2020