News, July 22nd

China threatens retaliation after US orders closure of Houston consulate

China on Wednesday condemned what it called an “unprecedented escalation” by the United States and threatened to retaliate after it was ordered to close the Chinese consulate in Houston.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a daily news briefing that the government had been told without warning Tuesday to close the consulate.

He said the consulate had been operating normally Tuesday and called the reported move an “unprecedented escalation,” the South China Morning Post reported.

“China demands the U.S. revoke the wrong decision. If the U.S. went ahead, China would take necessary countermeasures,” Wang said.

In a statement sent to Fox News, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed the directive and said it was issued “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”

The U.S. “will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” she added. “President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.”

Documents were burned inside the consulate’s courtyard Tuesday evening, KPRC-TV in Houston reported.

“You could just smell the paper burning,” a witness told the station. “But all the firefighters were just surrounding the building. They couldn’t go inside.”

“The US asked China to close Consulate General in Houston in 72 hours. This is a crazy move,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times wrote on Twitter.

KPRC reported that the consulate was ordered to close by Friday along with a compound where many consulate employees live, citing police sources.

Beijing called the eviction a violation of international law, according to Reuters.

Kuwait emir, 91, to go to US for medical care after surgery

Kuwait’s 91-year-old ruling emir will travel to the United States on Thursday morning to seek further medical care after recently undergoing surgery, its state-run news agency reported.

Kuwait has yet to elaborate on what required Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah to seek a previously unannounced medical treatment beginning Saturday and a surgery Sunday. However, Sheikh Sabah’s sudden surgery could inspire a renewed power struggle within Kuwait’s ruling family.

The state-run KUNA news agency quoted a statement from the country’s royal court saying Sheikh Sabah would leave “based on advice from the medical team treating His Highness to complete his treatment after a successful surgical procedure.”

“We ask the Almighty to aid his recovery and sustain His Highness, who is healthy and well taken care of, and to protect him from all harm,” the statement said.

The statement attributed to Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah, the country’s royal court minister, did not elaborate or say where in the U.S. Sheikh Sabah will receive treatment.

Kuwait earlier announced that 83-year-old Crown Prince Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah had assumed some of Sheikh Sabah’s powers temporarily, without explaining why that was necessary.

A copy of the ministerial decree posted by Kuwait’s official gazette, Kuwait Al-Youm, and seen by The Associated Press on Sunday, said the crown prince would be empowered for “the duration of a surgical procedure until the health event is over.”

The decree did not elaborate. Kuwait’s Information Ministry has not responded to requests for comment.

Sheikh Sabah, a widely beloved ruler in this OPEC-member nation, took power in 2006 just nine days into the rule of the ailing Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah. Concerns mounted during Sheikh Saad’s brief reign as he was seen in public only in a wheelchair and did not speak.

However, Sheikh Sabah’s ascension upset an informal power-sharing arrangement between branches of Kuwait’s ruling family. While Kuwait has since remained politically stable with the most-empowered parliament of any Gulf Arab nation, there have been internal power struggles behind the scenes of his rule.

Kuwait, a nation home to 4.1 million people that’s slightly smaller than the U.S. state of New Jersey, has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.

It has been a staunch U.S. ally since the 1991 Gulf War expelled the occupying Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein. Today, Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops, many at Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City, which is also home to the forward command of U.S. Army Central.

Magnitude 7.8 earthquake hits near Alaska peninsula – USGS

An earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck off the south-south eastern coast of the Alaskan peninsula on Tuesday (July 21), according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The quake, with an epicenter at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), prompted the US National Tsunami Warning Center to issue a tsunami warning for the region.

The Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami warning was in effect for South Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula, Pacific Coasts from Kennedy Entrance, Alaska to Unimak Pass, Alaska.

Members endorse Turkmenistan’s WTO observer status

At a meeting of the General Council on 22 July, WTO members agreed to grant Turkmenistan observer status in the organization. Turkmenistan, a state in Central Asia with a population of about 6.2 million, became the last former Soviet republic to establish a formal relationship with the WTO.

Turkmenistan submitted its request for observer status in May 2020, indicating its intent to initiate negotiations for WTO accession within a period of five years.

On behalf of all delegations, the chair of the General Council, Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand, welcomed to the meeting Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan in Geneva, Atageldi Haljanov, and invited him to take the floor as a new WTO observer government.

Ambassador Haljanov thanked members and emphasized the importance of the WTO as the platform for achieving greater integration of Turkmenistan into the global economy and trade. “The growing trends of economic globalization in the modern world have set for Turkmenistan the task to actively integrate into the world economy and the system of international economic relations,” he said.

Turkmenistan’s representative outlined the concrete benefits that future WTO membership would bring to his country, such as strengthening its foreign trade position and providing guarantees and transparency for investors and trading partners. Turkmenistan will fully seize the opportunities of observer status to familiarize itself with WTO rules and procedures, he added.

In other matters addressed at the General Council, Ambassador Walker said he was continuing consultations with members on the date and venue for the WTO’s next Ministerial Conference.

Amb Walker noted that while delegations have welcomed Kazakhstan’s renewed offer to host the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June 2021, there were concerns expressed that the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic remained uncertain, and that any date set at this stage would need to be considered as a “working hypothesis,” subject to ongoing evaluation and review as conditions become clearer closer to the time.

MC12 was originally scheduled to take place in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan on 8-11 June 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Kazakhstan informed WTO members in late April that it remained ready to host MC12 in June 2021 in Nur-Sultan and asked the General Council chair to consult with WTO members on its proposal.

The chair also said that he was continuing consultations with members on the appointment of one of the current Deputy Directors-General to serve as acting Director-General from 1 September until the appointment of the new DG. Amb. Walker said he will consult further with a view to making the required designation within the coming days.

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced on 14 May that he would step down on 31 August, one year before the end of his second term. Under a 2002 decision on procedures for the appointment of the Director-General, the General Council shall designate one of the existing Deputy Directors-General to serve as acting Director-General in the event of a vacancy in the post.

OECD broadband statistics update

Mobile data usage is growing rapidly in the OECD area. From January to December 2019, it increased by more than 25% in 24 of the 35 OECD countries for which data were available, according to an update of the OECD broadband portal.

Finland was the OECD leader with 23.5 GB of monthly mobile data use per subscription, followed by Austria (20.9 GB), Latvia (16.9 GB), Lithuania (13.6 GB), Estonia (12.3 GB), Iceland (11.3 GB), Chile (9.9 GB) and Denmark (9.6GB). Other countries had significant growth of 45% and above in data usage between 2018-19 (e.g. Australia, Belgium, Mexico, Iceland, Italy, and Slovak Republic). On average, users downloaded each month 5.8 GB per subscription in 2019 compared to4.7 GB in 2018. 

Although mobile broadband penetration is very high with 21 out of 37 countries having over 100 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, mobile broadband subscriptions-maintained growth of almost 5% in 2019. Mobile broadband penetration is highest in Japan, Estonia, and Finland, with subscriptions per 100 inhabitants at 179%, 158% and 155%, respectively.

Fiber is the fastest growing fixed broadband technology with a growth rate of 13% between 2019 and 2018 and has now reached 28% of all fixed broadband subscriptions. In the last two years, Ireland tripled its share of fiber in total fixed broadband while Belgium, the United Kingdom, Poland, Chile, and Italy doubled that share. DSL continues to decline being gradually replaced by fiber, with a decrease of 6% from 2018-19, and now composes 33.5% of total fixed broadband subscriptions. As of December 2019, cable became the prevalent fixed broadband technology slightly surpassing DSL, making up 33.7% of subscriptions, thanks to a constant growth of more than 4% in the last three years.

Data on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications shows that Sweden, Austria, the United States, and the Netherlands remain the leaders in the number of M2M SIM cards per 100 inhabitants. Sweden counts 146 M2M SIM cards per 100 inhabitants – a much higher level than most OECD countries that provided data – due in part to use of these SIM cards in other countries by a Swedish operator. Overall, M2M/embedded mobile cellular subscriptions grew by over 21% (56 million new subscriptions) in the last year in countries where data was available.

Pennington County woman becomes state’s 119th COVID-19 death

A Pennington County woman in her 50s became the twenty-fourth person from the county to die from COVID-19 illness according to Wednesday’s South Dakota Department of Health Report.

Pennington County added six new cases of coronavirus on 67 tests Wednesday. However, active cases dropped by 17 to 143. Meade County added one new case on nine tests. Oglala Lakota, Butte, Custer, Fall River and Lawrence counties all reported no new cases on 28 total tests from those five counties.

The state reported 58 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday on 1,213 tests. That brings the total positive tests to 8,077. The number of active cases in the state dropped below 800 to a total of 799. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 illness across the state dropped six to 56. Eight of those are in the Monument Health system.

Minnehaha County reported 18 new cases Wednesday and Lincoln County added nine. Lake County added six new cases and Beadle County reported three. Brookings, Davison, and Dewey counties added two new cases and Aurora, Brown, Buffalo, Clay, Codington, Day, Hamlin, Marshall, and Todd counties all reported one new case.

Shoreline, WA: 12-yr old Black organizer threatened with lynching, community to march in support

In June, Black Lives Matter in Shoreline, Washington, held an unprecedented march and rally in the small suburban city just north of Seattle. Some 5,000 people marched in the streets led by Black youth organizers. One of these organizers is 12-year old Kailyn Jordan, known as “Boo.” This middle school student was recently threatened with lynching for her advocacy work in the community. Black Lives Matter Shoreline is organizing a rally and march at Paramount Park on July 25 to support Boo and to say that a Black life matters in Shoreline.

Liberation News had the opportunity to speak with Shoreline organizers Darnesha and Mikayla Weary, a mother-daughter team.

The Wearys described the incident that has spurred the upcoming protest. As an organizer, Kailyn Jordan “did some education” with a white neighbor who had a Blue Lives Matter flag. She had a conversation with the neighbor about why that flag was hurtful and the neighbor removed it. However, another white neighbor became enraged by this, threatened Jordan, called her a racist slur, tried to run her over and threatened her with lynching.

Another neighbor walking by stepped in to support Kailyn and helped her to get home. But Kailyn and her mother were distraught by this experience.

Darnesha emphasized that Kailyn Jordan’s family has been in Shoreline for 50 years and for three generations they have had to deal with this kind of racism. She is also concerned that a Black family with children lives next door to the white woman who threatened Kailyn.

Mikayla explained that the previous Shoreline protest was focused on protecting Black youth, because they are being targeted. “This is a follow up. Our whole message was ‘protect us,’ then a few months later it happened again. At the rally, we introduced Kailyn and all the good work she is doing, so to have this happen is disappointing.”

Darnesha added, “It wasn’t a coincidence, the woman kept saying ‘You are one of those Black Lives Matter people.’ It makes me furious as a leader, and also that she is going after children.”

Mikayla spoke about the seriousness of anti-racist work.

“This work could potentially threaten you especially if you are a Black youth who goes to school here. It can happen, they know where you live, where you go to school, your social media handles. This is not just for fun; we are really doing this work, so we don’t have to go through this ever again. It’s not for a look or to be relevant.”

Darnesha explained that the protest will give an opportunity to others to show that the neighborhood doesn’t stand for this, that it doesn’t stand for hate.

The rally will take place at Paramount Park, 12 – 2 pm on July 25, with sign making at 11 am. The call out is “Stand with us.” “It’s a call to the white neighbors to show that Black lives matter in Shoreline. A Black life matters in Shoreline. This happens in our neighborhood.”

Darnesha wants to explain to neighbors, “It’s like when there are sexual predators and they send out the letters, this is the same for Black families. We need families to know how to respond.”

The rally will feature Black youth organizers from Shoreline and also nearby Edmonds.

Darnesha urged people to “Show up! And continue to do the work. If you can’t come out due to COVID, write a letter to Black families in Shoreline and post on social media and put a sign in your yard.” Mikayla suggested that neighbors could write letters to Kailyn to help her feel supported.

Mikayla added, “The first protest was informing. Black youth told our stories. Now it’s time for action. If you can’t show up, do something to make sure Black people feel safe.”

U.S. scientists accuse Trump administration of denigrating scientific expertise

More than 1,200 U.S. scientists have signed an open letter, accusing the Trump administration of denigrating “scientific expertise,” as the U.S. government downplays the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The open letter has gained signatures rapidly during the epidemic because scientists have witnessed the government’s inability and bigotry in tackling the coronavirus crisis, a report by The Guardian said on Monday.

Seeking to “restore science-based policy in government,” the open letter started in 2016 as a response to Trump administration’s refusal to accept climate scientists’ advice and initiating U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, according to the website of the letter.

It rebukes the Trump administration for “denigration of scientific expertise and harassment of scientists,” warning that “the dismissal of scientific evidence in policy formulation has affected wide areas of the social, biological, environmental and physical sciences.”

In September 2016, 378 scientists signed the letter and the number increased to over 1,000 in April 2018, according to The Guardian.

The U.S. government’s recent moves to deal with the pandemic, including seeking to block funding for virus testing and tracing as well as attacks on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for school reopening, have pushed more scientists to sign the letter.

“Every single week practically you hear about scientists being dismissed or relocated and key positions not being filled,” Ray Weymann, an astrophysicist, and a co-organizer of the open letter, was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

“Over the last two years this feeling just built up more and more and it was really highlighted by the pandemic,” he told The Guardian.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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