Trump Touts ‘Fantastic’ TikTok Deal With Walmart And Oracle

In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris. – When India banned TikTok in June 2020, it closed a window to the wider world for legions of women outside the big cities that provided fun, fame and even fortune. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) / TO GO WITH India-China-TikTok-science-software-lifestyle,FOCUS by Aishwarya KUMAR

 

President Donald Trump said Saturday he had approved a deal allowing Silicon Valley giant Oracle to become the data partner for TikTok to avert a shutdown of the massively popular Chinese-owned video app that Washington has called a security risk.

The deal, announced by the companies, also includes Walmart as a commercial partner and would create a new US company named TikTok Global.

“I think it’s going to be a fantastic deal,” Trump said. “I have given the deal my blessing. If they get it done that’s great, if they don’t that’s okay too.”

Shortly after, TikTok — owned by China’s ByteDance — confirmed the agreement, which came with companies racing against a Sunday deadline set by Trump’s administration after which new downloads of the app would be banned.

Oracle could buy a 12.5 percent stake in TikTok before a future IPO, and Walmart a 7.5 percent stake.

According to a source close to the matter, ByteDance would keep the rest of the shares. But since the Chinese company is 40 percent owned by American investors, TikTok would eventually be majority American-owned.

“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,” a spokeswoman for TikTok told AFP.

ByteDance also confirmed the deal on social media, saying the three companies would reach an agreement that was “in line with US and Chinese law” as soon as possible.

If it comes to fruition, the deal could mark the deescalation of a technology battle between Washington and Beijing.

It could also allow Americans to continue using the wildly popular app: the US Department of Commerce announced it was postponing the ban on TikTok downloads until September 27, citing “recent positive developments.”

– Security concerns –
Trump has claimed for weeks that TikTok is collecting user data for Beijing, without ever providing evidence for his allegations.

In early August, he gave ByteDance until September 20 to hand over TikTok’s US operations to an American company.

And on Friday, the Trump administration ordered a ban on downloads of the video-sharing app, as well as Chinese-owned messaging platform WeChat.

TikTok’s brand of short, quirky phone videos has become a global phenomenon, especially among young people, with 100 million users in the United States alone.

Trump said the “security will be 100 percent” and that the companies would use separate cloud servers.

The deal will lead to the creation of a new company, headquartered in Texas, that will have “nothing to do with China” but will still be called TikTok, according to the president.

Oracle will be in charge of hosting all US user data and the security of the associated computer systems, while Walmart will supply its online sales, order management and payment services.

In a joint statement, Oracle and Walmart said TikTok Global would “pay more than 5 billion in new tax dollars to the US Treasury,” while they and the other companies involved in the deal would launch an initiative to develop online education.

Trump, who previously said the federal government deserved a cut of the deal for authorizing it, had initially announced the companies would make a “contribution” towards education.

– ‘Bullying’ –
Under Friday’s US order against the Chinese apps, Tencent-owned WeChat would lose functionality in the United States from Sunday.

Following the TikTok-Oracle-Walmart deal’s announcement, TikTok users will be banned from installing updates starting September 27.

In response, China’s Commerce Ministry on Saturday condemned what it called US “bullying,” saying it violated international trade norms and that there was no evidence of any security threat, shortly before launching a mechanism that would allow it to sanction foreign companies.

China’s long-expected “unreliable entities list” is seen as a weapon for Beijing to retaliate against the United States, which has used its own “entity list” to shut Chinese telecom giant Huawei out of the US market, in addition to the recent moves against TikTok and WeChat.

“While the US/China tensions continue across all aspects of the technology food chain, resolving this TikTok and ByteDance standoff and complex Rubik’s Cube political backdrop is a relief for tech investors with Oracle in the winners circle,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

According to the US Treasury, the TikTok deal still needs to be finalized by the involved companies and approved by a federal national security committee.

With Trump facing a tough reelection campaign, US officials have described the measures as essential to safeguard against potential Chinese espionage through the platforms.

But Trump critics have said that while TikTok’s security risks were unclear, the sweeping ban raises concerns about the government’s ability to regulate free expression.

 

 

-AFP

Mexicans Sue Walmart Over El Paso Shooting

People gather as Walmart Supercenter on Gateway West in El Paso,Texas was reopened after an American flag atop the store was raised from half mast and a banner displaying “El Paso Strong” was unveiled on November 14, 2019. 
Paul Ratje / AFP

 

Mexico’s government said Wednesday it has helped 10 Mexican citizens file lawsuits against Walmart over an August shooting at a store in El Paso, Texas, where a suspected white nationalist killed 22 people.

“The objective of these suits, presented in El Paso County, is to hold the company responsible for not taking reasonable and necessary measures to protect its clients from the attack,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The plaintiffs are seeking not only justice for themselves but security for the general public.”

The suits were brought by survivors of the attack, their relatives and families of the victims, the foreign ministry said.

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Eight Mexicans were killed and eight wounded in the August 3 attack in El Paso, a city on the US-Mexican border where 83 percent of the population is Latino.

The alleged shooter, Patrick Wood Crusius, 21, reportedly told police he was trying to kill as many Mexicans as possible.

He posted a manifesto online before the attack denouncing a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.

Crusius pleaded not guilty last month. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Mexico has condemned the shooting as a “terrorist attack.”

Walmart said in September it would stop selling ammunition for handguns and some military-style rifles at its stores, calling the status quo on firearms in the United States “unacceptable.”

The US-based retail giant also said it would bar customers from carrying firearms in its stores.

A new shooting in an Oklahoma Walmart left three people dead Monday, including the suspected gunman. Another Walmart shooting in July killed two employees.

AFP

Three Killed In Oklahoma Walmart Shooting, Including Gunman

DUNCAN, OK – NOVEMBER 18: A police officer maintains a security line after a shooting in a Walmart parking lot on November 18, 2019, in Duncan, Oklahoma.
J Pat Carter / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Three people were killed in a shooting early Monday outside a Walmart store in Oklahoma, including the assailant, police said — the latest in a string of deadly gun attacks at the popular supermarket chain.

Danny Ford, the police chief in the town of Duncan, said the shooting — an apparent domestic dispute — took place shortly before 10:00 am (1600 GMT) in a parking lot in front of the store.

“We have three individuals that are deceased. We have two white males and a white female. Two of the victims are inside the vehicle, one is outside the vehicle,” said Ford.

A handgun was also found at the scene, police said.

Witnesses told local news channels that the shooter approached his victims while they were inside the vehicle, opening fire on them.

He then turned his weapon on himself when a fourth man reportedly pulled out a firearm and challenged the shooter, they said.

READ ALSO: Trump ‘Strongly Considers’ Testifying In His Impeachment Probe

Family members at the scene said the shooting was a domestic dispute between a husband and his wife, a local Fox News affiliate reported.

A Walmart spokeswoman told Fox that no staff members were involved in the incident in Duncan, a town of 22,000 inhabitants some 75 miles (120 kilometres) south of Oklahoma City, the state capital.

Schools in the area had been placed on lockdown temporarily before being given an “all clear” by local police, the local school district said in a statement.

At the start of this month, a new permitless carry law came into effect in the central US state, allowing anyone over 21 and without a felony conviction to carry a gun without a permit or a license.

A gunman killed 22 people in a Walmart store in August in El Paso, Texas, while another Walmart store in Mississippi was the scene of a shooting in late July when a disgruntled employee killed two co-workers and wounded a police officer.

In the El Paso shooting, the 21-year-old gunman said he had launched the deadly attack in response to what he called a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.

Walmart said in the wake of the two shootings inside its stores within a week of each other that it would limit sales of guns and ammunition.

AFP

Trump To Address Nation After US Shootings Leave 29 Dead

People hold up their phones in lieu of candles at an interfaith vigil for victims of a mass shooting, which left at least 20 people dead, on August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old male suspect was taken into custody in the city which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. At least 26 people were wounded. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP

US President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday after two shootings left 29 people dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.

The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.

Trump will again find himself in the role of consoler-in-chief after a tragedy — which he has struggled with in the past — when he speaks at 10:00 am (1400 GMT).

Following the shootings, Trump said “hate has no place in our country,” but he also blamed mental illness for the violence.

“These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill,” he said, despite the fact that police have not confirmed this to be the case.

“We have to get it stopped. This has been going on for years… and years in our country,” he said.

In Texas, 26 people were wounded, and 27 in Ohio, where the shooter was killed in roughly 30 seconds by police who were patrolling nearby.

100-round drum magazine

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told a news conference that the quick police response was “crucial,” preventing the shooter from entering a bar where “there would have been… catastrophic injury and loss of life.”

Biehl said the shooter wore a mask and a bullet-proof vest and was armed with an assault rifle fitted with a 100-round drum magazine.

Police named the gunman as a 24-year-old white man called Connor Betts and said his sister was among those killed. She had gone with him to the scene of the shootings.

Six of the nine people shot dead were black, but Biehl said Betts’ motive was still unclear.

In Texas, police said the suspect surrendered on a sidewalk near the scene of the massacre. He was described in media reports as a 21-year-old white man named Patrick Crusius.

He was believed to have posted online a manifesto denouncing a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. El Paso, on the border with Mexico, is majority Latino.

 ‘Amplifying and condoning’ hate

Seven of the 20 people killed in the El Paso shooting were Mexican, the country’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said Sunday.

Ebrard, who will travel to El Paso Monday, said Mexico was looking at legal action which could lead to extradition of the gunman.

“For Mexico, this individual is a terrorist,” he said.

The manifesto posted shortly before the shooting also praises the killing of 51 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.

Police said the suspected shooter has been charged with murder offenses that can carry the death penalty, and a federal official said investigators are treating the El Paso shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.

At the Walmart in El Paso, terrified shoppers cowered in aisles or ran out of the store as gunfire echoed.

Most of the victims were inside the store but some were also in the parking lot outside, police said.

“Shooting kids and women and men, to him it mostly mattered that they were Hispanic,” said Manuel Sanchez, a resident of the city.

These were the 250th and 251st mass shootings this year in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an NGO that defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are wounded or killed.

Despite a string of horrific mass shootings in the US, where gun culture is deep-rooted, efforts to strengthen firearms regulations remain divisive.

The latest two shootings ended a particularly tragic week for gun violence in America: three people died in a shooting at a food festival last Sunday in California, and two more Tuesday in a shooting in a Walmart in Mississippi.

On Twitter, Trump described the El Paso attack as “an act of cowardice.”

But critics said the president’s habit of speaking in derogatory terms about immigrants is pushing hatred of foreigners into the political mainstream and encouraging white supremacism.

“To pretend that his administration and the hateful rhetoric it spreads doesn’t play a role in the kind of violence that we saw yesterday in El Paso is ignorant at best and irresponsible at worst,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center, a major civil rights group.

It cited Trump actions like calling Mexican migrants rapists and drug dealers and doing nothing when a crowd at a Trump rally chanted “send her back” in reference to a Somali-born congresswoman.

The Republican mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo, seemed to discount any race element to the Texas shooting, telling Fox News the gunman was “deranged.”

But multiple Democratic presidential hopefuls said Trump bears some of the blame for the violence.

“Our president isn’t just failing to confront and disarm these domestic terrorists, he is amplifying and condoning their hate,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted.

“Mr. President: stop your racist, hateful and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Your language creates a climate which emboldens violent extremists,” Senator Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter.

AFP

Two Killed, One Police Officer Injured In Walmart Store

Walmart in Middletown, DE, on July 26, 2019.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Two people died and a police officer was wounded in a shooting early Tuesday at a Walmart in Mississippi, US media reported.

DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that the suspect had been shot and wounded in the shooting in the city of Southhaven.

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The two people shot dead were believed to be Walmart employees, the sheriff said, and the suspect was an employee until Monday.

He said the suspect and wounded police officer had been taken to local hospitals.

Southhaven is a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, which lies just to the north over the state line.

AFP

Coca-Cola, Walmart To Cut Plastic Pollution In Oceans

Seagulls search for food near a sewage discharge area next to piles of plastic bottles and gallons washed away by the water on the seaside of Ouzai, south of Beirut. JOSEPH EID / AFP

 

Coca-Cola, Walmart and other big multinationals pledged on Thursday to help reduce plastic pollution in the world’s oceans in support of a campaign by five of the G7 industrialized nations.

Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, along with the European Union, signed the Ocean Plastics Charter at a leaders’ summit in Canada’s Charlevoix region in June.

The United States and Japan abstained but non-G7 nations Norway and Jamaica are also backing the plan to ensure 100 per cent of plastics are recyclable by 2030.

The nations aim to develop more viable alternatives to plastic packaging, to work towards a goal of all plastics being recycled and reused by 2040.

On the second day of a G7 ministerial meeting in Canada’s Atlantic port city of Halifax, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced “a new partnership with businesses” to reduce plastics waste.

Backers include Loblaws, Walmart, Nestle Canada, IKEA, Dow Chemicals, the Coca-Cola Company, BASF Canada and A&W Canada.

Unilever also announced that it was launching a non-profit entity to reduce consumer and business waste, while Volvo upped its target to make 25 per cent of the plastics in its cars recyclable by 2025.

The G7 group of the world’s major economies are also looking to tackle a growing source of marine pollution: lost fishing nets and gear, which account for 70 per cent of plastic waste floating on the surface of the sea, Canada’s Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.

About 640,000 tonnes (tons) of nets and other fishing gear are discarded in the oceans each year, killing an estimated 136,000 seals, dolphins, sea lions, turtles, small whales and other seabirds, according to the World Animal Protection group.

“This is a really big problem,” Wilkinson told AFP from the Halifax talks.

“There is a consensus among G7 countries that this is a very important issue… and there is a clear commitment to addressing it,” he said.

According to the United Nations environment agency, 70 per cent of the large plastic waste that floats on the seas comes from fishing.

Josey Kitson, executive director of World Animal Protection, called the plastic debris “death traps” for many seabirds, fish and marine mammals, but expressed hope that the G7 will address the problem.

Wilkinson said G7 and other governments represented at the Halifax meeting are exploring fixes such as incentives for fishers to reuse gear and dispose of ageing nets properly.

The aim is “to actually clean it up (but also) not discharge it in the first place,” he said.

The G7 is also looking at ways of tracking discarded gear back to vessels in order to identify polluters.

Although no timetable has been set, the G7 ministers have agreed to “discuss this issue again” at the Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi in November, Wilkinson said.

AFP