Secretary of Defense Esper does not support invoking Insurrection Act

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said during a news conference that he supports the rights of US citizens to protest peacefully and does not support the invocation of the Insurrection Act. 

“It is these rights and freedoms that make our country so special. It is these rights and freedoms that American service members are willing to fight and die for,” Esper said in remarks before taking questions.

“I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

President Trump threatened to use the act to use the military to quell protests across the country. The Insurrection Act dates to the early 1800s and permits the president to send in US forces to suppress a domestic insurrection that has hindered the normal enforcement of US law. 

Esper further said he was not informed about Trump’s controversial photo-op at a church which took place on Monday. 

“I was not aware of law enforcement’s plans for the park. I was not briefed on them, nor should I expect to be,” Esper said. 

The defence secretary also stated he was working hard to keep his department out of politics, though it is challenging as the country moves closer to elections.

Myanmar court denies bail to Canadian preacher who defied virus ban

A Myanmar court has denied bail to a Canadian Christian preacher who held church services in defiance of a ban on gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that led to infections in dozens of people including himself.

David Lah, a Canadian of Burmese origin, and another man, Myanmar national Wai Tun, are facing up to three years in prison under a disaster management law over church services held in the city of Yangon in early April.

US embassy declines UAE offer to test staff for COVID-19

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered the US embassy hundreds of tests to screen embassy staff, but the gesture was “politely declined”, due to privacy concerns, the Financial Times reported. 

According to a US official, the offer raised a “red flag” due to the involvement of Chinese firms and technology. 

The UAE testing facility opened in late March by a joint venture between Chinese genomics company BGI and artificial intelligence group G42, which has links to the Abu Dhabi ruling family. 

Mosques and nursery schools reopen in Gaza

Mosques have reopened for daily prayers and children returned to nursery schools in an easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Gaza Strip.

The enclave, whose borders are tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt, has recorded 61 confirmed infection cases, all in quarantine facilities, and one death during the health crisis.

Two million Palestinians live in Gaza.

India’s app highlights backlash against Chinese businesses

India’s top trending free app on Google’s mobile app store, with more than five million downloads since late May, is called “Remove China Apps” and does exactly what it says on its label.

Its popularity comes amid calls for a boycott of Chinese mobile apps in India as a Himalayan border dispute fuels a backlash against products from China.

Popular Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev posted a video on Twitter on Sunday showing the step-by-step deletion of several Chinese apps, a move he described as a “national service”.

Chinese companies have faced occasional opposition for years in India, where some supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party advocate self-reliance.

Remove China Apps, whose logo contains a dragon’s head with two brooms, scans a user’s phone for apps such as ByteDance’s TikTok and Alibaba’s UC Browser. Once deleted, a message pops up saying, “You are awesome, no China app found.”

OneTouch AppLabs, which has developed the app to remove Chinese ones, did not respond to a request for comment. The company, based in the western Indian city of Jaipur, describes the app as its first initiative toward a “self reliant India”.

ByteDance and Alibaba did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the app. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond.

The protest against Chinese apps comes after India in April said stricter screening rules will apply to foreign direct investments from China, worrying investors there. China has said the policy is discriminatory.

“Previous boycott calls have focused on Chinese goods, whereas this one especially targets Chinese apps, which could impact Chinese technology companies who have seen India as a crucial market,” said Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who closely tracks Indo-China relations.

The stakes are high for firms like ByteDance, which plans to invest $1bn in India and has recently ramped up hiring.

India, which has a population of 1.3bn, is the biggest driver of installations of ByteDance’s TikTok, which Bollywood actor Milind Soman said last week on Twitter that he was no longer using.

Nupur Sharma, a spokeswoman for Modi’s party, said it was “great to see concerned citizens setting an example”.

“We ought to hit them where it hurts most,” Sharma said on Twitter, using the hashtag #BoycottChineseProducts.

A senior executive working for a China-based company in India, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Chinese firms were contributing to the Indian economy, especially the manufacturing sector.

He predicted the protests will be short-lived: “It hurts but (the boycott calls) are going to fade.”


Racism: Zuckerberg defends no action on Trump post

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Tuesday he stood by his decision not to challenge inflammatory posts by United States President Donald Trump, refusing to give ground a day after staff members staged a rare public protest.

A group of Facebook employees – nearly all of them working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic – walked off the job on Monday. They complained the company should have acted against Trump’s posts about protests containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

Zuckerberg told employees Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged, a company spokeswoman said. She said Zuckerberg also acknowledged the decision had upset many people working at the company.

On Friday, Twitter Inc affixed a warning label to a Trump tweet about widespread protests over the death of a Black man in Minnesota that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

Twitter said the post violated its rules against glorifying violence but was left up as public interest exception, with reduced options for interactions and distribution.

Facebook declined to act on the same message, and Zuckerberg sought to distance his company from the fight between the president and Twitter. He maintained that while he found Trump’s remarks “deeply offensive”, they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence.

One employee, who had tweeted his dissent on Monday, posted on Twitter his disappointment with Facebook executives.

“It’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” Brandon Dail wrote on Twitter. Dail’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a user interface engineer at Facebook in Seattle.

Timothy Aveni, a junior software engineer on Facebook’s team dedicated to fighting misinformation, announced on Monday that he was resigning his position.

“Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Civil rights leaders who attended an hour-long video call on Monday night with Zuckerberg and top Facebook executives called the CEO’s explanations for allowing Trump’s posts to stay up “incomprehensible”.

“He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters,” said a joint statement from leaders of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change.