TikTok Confirms US Urged Parting Ways With ByteDance to Dodge Ban



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TikTok confirmed Wednesday that U.S. officials have recommended the popular video-sharing app part ways with its Chinese parent ByteDance to avoid a national ban.

Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, have been taking an increasingly tough approach to the app, citing fears that user data could be used or abused by Chinese officials.

"If protecting national security is the objective, calls for a ban or divestment are unnecessary, as neither option solves the broader industry issues of data access and transfer," a TikTok spokesperson told AFP.

"We remain confident that the best path forward to addressing concerns about national security is transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification."

The Wall Street Journal and other U.S. news outlets on Wednesday reported that the White House set an ultimatum: if TikTok remains a part of ByteDance, it will be banned in the United States.

"This is all a game of high stakes poker," Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.

Washington is "clearly... putting more pressure on ByteDance to strategically sell this key asset in a major move that could have significant ripple impacts," he continued.

The White House last week welcomed a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate that would allow President Joe Biden to ban TikTok.

The bipartisan bill "would empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services... in a way that poses risks to Americans' sensitive data and our national security," Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement.

The bill's introduction and its quick White House backing accelerated the political momentum against TikTok, which is also the target of a separate piece of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Appearing tough on China is one of the rare issues with potential for bipartisan support in both the Republican-run House and the Senate, where Biden's Democratic Party holds the majority.

Concern ramped up among American officials earlier this year after a Chinese balloon, which Washington alleged was on a spy mission, flew over U.S. airspace.

TikTok use rocketing

TikTok claims it has more than a billion users worldwide including over 100 million in the United States, where it has become a cultural force, especially among young people.

Activists argue a ban would be an attack on free speech and stifle the export of American culture and values to TikTok users around the world.

U.S. government workers in January were banned from installing TikTok on their government-issued devices.

Civil servants in the European Union and Canada are also barred from downloading the app on their work devices.

According to the Journal report, the ultimatum to TikTok came from the U.S. interagency board charged with assessing risks foreign investments represent to national security.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the report.

TikTok has consistently denied sharing data with Chinese officials and says it has been working with the U.S. authorities for more than two years to address national security concerns.

Time spent by users on TikTok has surpassed that spent on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and is closing in on streaming television titan Netflix, according to market tracker Insider Intelligence.

Source: Voanews

   

Slovakian Prime Minister Fico is in critical condition after being shot



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was injured in the shooting. He was shot several times. As a result, the condition is critical. He is being taken by helicopter to Banska Bystrica. This measure has been taken because it will take a long time to get him to Bratislava because he needs urgent treatment. It will be understood in the next two or three hours what is his condition. Online Al Jazeera reported that this was said on his verified Facebook account. He was shot in the town of Handlova on Wednesday afternoon. President Zuzana Kaputova condemned the brutal and merciless attack.

A person has been arrested on suspicion. Parliament was in session at the time of the incident. Deputy Speaker Lubos Blaha informed the members about the matter. He then adjourned the session until further notice. President said - I am saddened by this news. I am wishing Robert Fico much strength and a speedy recovery during this difficult time. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned the attack. He told X- Such violence has no place in our society. It undermines democracy. My condolences to Prime Minister Fico and his family, she added.

Meanwhile, local media reports said he was shot four times in the stomach outside the House of Culture in Handlova town on Wednesday afternoon. As soon as he was rescued from there, the police surrounded the spot and arrested a suspect.

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India may face US sanctions!



International Desk, Barta24.com
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India has taken over the management of Iran's Chabahar port for the next 10 years. An agreement in this regard was signed by New Delhi and Tehran on Monday (May 13) which was not taken well by the United States. In this incident, Washington issued a warning to India and said that the US sanctions on Iran are still in place. So those who want to do business with the country should consider the US sanctions.

In a press conference on Tuesday (May 14), when asked about the Tehran-New Delhi agreement, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said that the US sanctions on Iran are still in force. Those looking to do business with Iran should consider the 'risks involved'.

He also said that we are aware of the agreement between India and Iran regarding the port of Chabahar. I have nothing to say about India's foreign policy. However, their agreement with Iran on the port of Chabahar falls under the bilateral relations of the two countries. US sanctions on Iran are in force and will remain in force.

Vedanta Patel said, if anyone is thinking of doing business with Iran, then sanctions may also be imposed on them. Let them remember that.

According to the report of the Indian media NDTV, due to the control of the port of Chabahar, India will be able to dominate the water transportation through Afghanistan, Iran to Russia. It can be used as an alternative route to reach Afghanistan and West Asia bypassing Pakistan. The port is also set to become the country's main gateway to the greater Eurasian (Europe-Asia) region.

Sources say that this could be New Delhi's trump card to compete with Pakistan's Gadar Port and China's Belt and Road.

A weapon to strengthen India's strategic position, Chabahar's nearest port is Kandala in Gujarat. The distance is 550 nautical miles. Distance to Mumbai is 786 nautical miles. India's Shipping and Ports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that there is a plan to link Chabahar with the 7200 km wide international North-South Transport Corridor. It can be a hub for increasing connectivity between India, West Asia, Eurasia and reducing transport costs and time.

Pakistan was offering West Asian countries to increase trade using Karachi port. But India presents Chabahar as a profitable alternative. Countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan want to increase business in the Indian Ocean region through this. Businessmen of this country can also reach West Asia easily and cheaply. America also wants to join Chabahar port through INSTC.

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Eight dead, 59 injured as a 'huge billboard' falls in Mumbai dust storm



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Eight people died after being buried under a huge billboard in Ghatkopar, the capital of Maharashtra state of India, in a strong dust storm. 59 people were injured. And 67 people were rescued alive, according to Mumbai police.

The country's media reported the accident on Monday (May 13), NDTV.

According to the report, around 4:30 pm on Monday, a strong storm suddenly darkened the sky in Mumbai. Before you know it, the dust storm starts. A huge metal advertisement board was uprooted in Ghatkopar area due to the storm. Many were buried under the collapsed billboard.

Several videos of this incident have been released. They showed an advertising billboard collapsing over a petrol pump; Due to which the roof of the petrol pump collapsed. Some cars standing at the petrol pump were also crushed. The metal structure of the billboard penetrated the roofs of many cars. After calculating the size, the police said that many people may be buried under the billboard.

Swapnil Khupte, an eyewitness to the incident, told news agency ANI, "I was there when the billboard fell in the dust storm. The place was already crowded with cars, bikes and people. As a result, they all got stuck after the billboard fell. We were trying to rescue the trapped people. But we couldn't find them." We couldn't figure it out."

According to the police, members of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are on the spot. Rescue operations are underway for survivors trapped under the debris.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shindhe said, rescuing people is our first goal. The government will take responsibility for the treatment of those injured. And the families of those who lost their lives will be given Tk. 5 lakh.

He also said that the authorities concerned have been instructed to check such billboards in Mumbai.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Farnavis said in a post on X that the state government has ordered an investigation to find out how the incident happened.

A warning was issued by the Maharashtra Meteorological Department shortly before the storm hit on Monday afternoon. Residents of Mumbai, Palghar and Thane were warned of any major change in weather. A few minutes after that, the city of Mumbai was destroyed by the storm.

As a result, all traffic in the city came to a standstill. The storm also uprooted many trees and electricity poles in Mumbai. Rail and metro services also stopped. Meanwhile, the billboard in Ghatkopar also collapsed due to the storm. 

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India fears highest power shortage in 14 years



International Desk, Barta24.com
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Heavy summer heat wave in India could set electricity demand at record highs. And due to lack of such supply, the government fears that the electricity shortage in June could be the highest in 14 years.

The Central Electricity Authority has said that the maximum power shortage at night in June this year may reach 14 GW. Due to solar power generation being stopped in the evening and night and water power not being as expected, there is a risk of increasing the deficit level.

According to government statistics, India's electricity demand and supply deficit is at its highest since 2009-10. Hydroelectric production is at a four-decade low.

Alternative power generation has not grown that way. All gas-based power generation plants in India have already been ordered to operate at full speed.

In this situation, Power Minister RK Singh sat in an emergency meeting last week to check the situation. In the meeting, it was decided to postpone the maintenance work of the power plant. It has also been said that the closed thermal power plants of 5 GW will be restarted.

Last September, India's electricity demand reached a record peak of 243 GW. Centre's estimate, this time April-June it could be 260 GW.

According to Grid India Projects, the peak demand at night in June could stand at 235 GW. Out of this, 187 GW is supposed to come from thermal power. About 34 GW could come from non-conventional electricity.

In such a situation, the central government is taking various steps including postponing the maintenance of production plants to meet the deficit in June.

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