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Trump signs order to block transactions with TikTok parent company

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Donald Trump

President Trump has signed a new executive order which will block all transactions with Bytedance, TikTok’s parent corporation, in an effort to “address the national emergency with respect to the information and communication technology supply chain.” It isn’t effectively immediately, but has a 45 day deadline.

“The spread [of apps controlled by the Chinese government] continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the order reads. “The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security.”

A parallel order banned transactions with WeChat, a popular texting app in China that maintains a small user base in the US.

The move comes after months of escalating tensions, which saw Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others at the White House warn that TikTok presented a national security threat because of its Chinese ownership. On Friday, President Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he was preparing to sign some sort of order banning the app.

Those efforts have been complicated by discussions of a potential sale to Microsoft. On Sunday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed that he had spoken with President Trump about potentially acquiring the portions of TikTok based in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, although huge portions of the deal remain in flux. The company also cautioned that discussions were still tentative and “there can be no assurance that a transaction which involves Microsoft will proceed.”

Microsoft pledged to conclude discussions by September 15th, a date that has been echoed by President Trump. Trump’s new order is set to take effect 45 days after its release or September 20th — just after the deadline set for negotiations in the Microsoft deal.

In both orders, the president names the International Emergency Economic Powers Act as authority for the move, as well as the National Emergencies Act — effectively naming TikTok’s continued operation within the United States as a national emergency. Such a move is highly unusual, and will likely be subject to a legal challenge.

The executive branch has the power to levy sanctions against individuals and corporations by placing them on the “entity list,” as the US did against Huawei and ZTE last year. But such sanctions are typically put in place by the Commerce Department rather than the White House, and subject to a specific rule-making procedure that seems to have been short-circuited by the surprise executive order.

India

India Offers $100 Million Line of Credit To Sri Lanka For Solar Projects

India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay called on Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma and reiterated India’s commitment towards a strong and multi-faceted bilateral partnership including in the power sector, the Indian mission said in a statement.

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solar plant at Jamia

Colombo: India has offered a Line of Credit worth $ 100 million to Sri Lanka for three solar projects in the country, according to an official statement.

India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay called on Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma and reiterated India’s commitment towards a strong and multi-faceted bilateral partnership including in the power sector, the Indian mission said in a statement.

They discussed various issues of mutual interest including ways to expedite progress on bilateral power projects currently under discussion between the two sides.

The Indian envoy also handed over a copy of a letter conveying an offer from India to Sri Lanka for a Line of Credit (LoC) worth $100 million for three solar projects announced during the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference held in March, 2018 in New Delhi, the statement said.

The LoC will cover financing for rooftop solar systems meant for 20,000 households and 1,000 government buildings all across the island. The combined generation capacity of these rooftop systems will be about 60 MW, it said.

The LoC will also provide financing for a floating solar power plant. The implementation of the LoC will begin with the conclusion of an LoC agreement between the two sides, it said.

The Indian High Commissioner conveyed that the $100 million LoC is in line with the national priorities of India and Sri Lanka to enhance the share of solar and renewable energy in overall energy generation, the statement added.

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Politics

A vote to confirm Barrett “is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act”: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

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Chuck Schumer
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said President Trump’s decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has put “Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs.”

“The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Schumer wrote in a statement.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, unabated by this Administration, healthcare was already the number one issue on the ballot in November. President Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will “terminate” our health care law and decimate the health care system for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In Judge Barrett, President Trump has found the deciding vote.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote to confirm Barrett before Election Day — meaning she could be seated on the bench for that case.

In an early 2017 law review essay, reviewing a book related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ rationale that saved the law in 2012.

“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” Barrett wrote. “He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power.”

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Biden urges US Senate not to confirm Supreme Court nominee before election

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Vice President Joe Biden

Joe Biden released a statement reacting to Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and focused on health care and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“Today, President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Biden said.

He added that the Senate should not act on the vacancy until after the American people select their next president.

Senate Republicans have outlined a possible confirmation hearing for Barrett that could have her confirmed before Election Day.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments just after the election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. The case is brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

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