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Slivers of light in my Pakistan: Imran Khan's government is standing with every victim of rape, abuse, violence

Case one: The motorway gang rape Date: September 8, 2020 On September 16, Prime Minister Imran Khan, addressing the joint session of the two houses of parliament on passing of the FATF bill, said: “The motorway gang rape has shaken our entire country. Since [the news of the rape] we’ve been thinking of passing an excellent legislation so that in future our women and our children have protection. Lives are destroyed due to [sexual] abuse. Even lives of their families are destroyed. I was thinking, in particular, about children, what they went through. It’s a lifelong trauma. See more IPL 2020 in UAE: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings in pictures More COVID-19 rapid screening centres opened with Dhs50 per test COVID-19: UAE announces new protocols for weddings, funerals, social events COVID-19: Beards and masks, do they really go together? UAE Expats speak "Our work will be three tiered: policing, registration of sex offenders, justice. Global statistics show that [most] sex offenders are repeat offenders. The suspect Abid [of the motorway gang rape] is on the run. He was convicted in an earlier gang rape. Whatever punishment he was given was obviously not ibraat-naak, and ergo he raped again. This rape was reported. [Who knows] how many such crimes he committed between his two reported gang rapes that were unreported. "A very small number of rape cases are reported. Cases of abuse in which children are brutalised, and in rape cases of women, we can imagine the trauma and grief they [victims/survivors] go thorough. "We are preparing to legislate a bill that has an ibraat-naak punishment. People should be scared. That if they destroy someone’s life, it would have consequences. InshaAllah, we’ll present the bill in a few days. We know it’s not easy to convict even after the arrest. The kind of evidence that is required in the witness box in court is very difficult [to handle]. We are preparing for that too. A witness [rape victim/survivor] must have protection [against uncomfortable cross-questioning].” Ibraat-naak, roughly translated, is a punitive action so severe it becomes a standard for deterrence. Case two: Ibsham Zahid’s harassment of Fatima Amir Date on which it was reported on Twitter: September 15 On September 17, Punjab Minister of Information Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, accompanied by Lahore CCPO and Fatima’s father, spoke to media in Lahore: Read more Pakistan: Imran Khan’s aide summoned over abduction of senior officer Pakistan’s deathly silence in tackling rape Prime Minister Imran Khan calls for rapists to be hanged or chemically castrated, Pakistan cabinet agrees Prime Minister Imran Khan launches Pakistan-Austria institute to promote science and technology education “This hooligan of a boy was threatening them [Fatima and her family]–their lives, their honour. Videos [of his threats and exhibition of illegal pump action guns and other weapons] went viral on twitter. He was behaving like a villain from a movie. Some TV channels highlighted the news. I met Prime Minister Imran Khan [during his recent visit to Lahore] at a meeting at the Governor House on law and order and the motorway gang rape.” Chohan informed Prime Minister Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar about Fatima’s case. Instructions were given to take immediate action. Chohan said: “I found Sheikh Amir through the internet. I talked to him. The way things are in our society–police, [civil] administration, red tape-ism. He refused to talk to me after thanking me and our government for reaching out to his family. He categorially told me that he wouldn’t come forward. I requested him in several phone calls: that today it’s your daughter; if we don’t make this monster a symbol of ibraat, tomorrow, he may do the same thing to someone else’s daughter. And that others like him would be emboldened by his behaviour. Sheikh Amir agreed [to pursue the case].” Fatima’s father told Minister Chohan that an FIR was registered a year and three months ago. Amir also approached the Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime cell. The suspect had a pre-arrest bail, and his horrific threats of violence, rape, harm to her family, her rape in front of her family, and spreading of falsehoods about her character remained unabated. Chohan said: “Through this press conference I’m going to place some demands to the federal government and the judiciary. FIA cybercrime wing didn’t do a thing. It is high time that we started to accept the flaws and lacunas in in our civil administration offices, police, FIA, [performance of] politicians, rulers, judiciary. All weak points must be made public so that officials of all governmental departments fix their way of working.” According to Chohan, Chief Minister Buzdar demanded action in one day, “I asked the CCPO to give me results in 24 hours. In less than ten hours, an FIR against the boy and his father has been filed. Both of them have been arrested.” More from Mehr Tarar The most important thing COVID-19 has taught me: life is today Rape of 5-year old Marwa and a mother of three in Pakistan: The cycle of unimaginable cruelty continues Wanton cruelty to animals, especially dogs, is one of Pakistan’s biggest issues Karachi is sinking. Will Karachi be saved? Time will tell Fatima’s father speaking to a TV channel said, “I have been fighting for justice since 2019, but I got support from nowhere. My daughters kept telling me that we should share our case on social media, but I was not ready.” Ibsham has been harassing Fatima since 2016. It took Twitter two days to ensure that her voice was heard. Case three: beating of students in a private teaching academy Date of the posting of the video of the beating on Twitter: September 16 On September 16 at 1:06 pm, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda tweeted: “These corporal punishments (beating, shaming) scar our children’s minds forever. Just received this video. Unacceptable behaviour. I’m on it. Have instructed DPO Jhelum to arrest him now. If need be, I will register an FIR.” Jhelum is a city in the north of Punjab. On September 16 at 3:59 pm, Punjab Minister of Education Murad Raas tweeted in response to Vawda’s tweet: “FIR 327/20 is registered in PS City Jhelum u/s 328A and the accused teacher is arrested.” A male teacher of Jhelum’s Mohalla Khansama’s Reformer Academy–the sheer irony of that name–was caught on video “manhandling one of his students, a young girl, holding her by the scruff of the neck, shoving and then hitting her on the back, after which she collapses on the floor.” The father of that student and her sister, another victim of beating, had filed an FIR after noticing their “severe physical and mental pain.” Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, taking notice of the video, “sought a report from the regional police officer for Rawalpindi over the matter and ordered immediate action in accordance with the law against the arrested man.” Buzdar said: “Anyone who violently beats their students does not deserve any concessions.” Three incidents, three responses, a ray of hope. The intensity and the impact of the crime varies, but the common thread is the physical and emotional vulnerability of females and children, and the hopelessness in the system of justice. The mindsets behind the crimes will take a complex process of various short and long term behavioural and psychological evaluations, solutions and implementations, but the heartening development is the immediate public and governmental attention to injustices of all kinds. It is not the first time a prime minister has issued a response to a heinous crime that has jolted the nation, setting into motion a sentiment that is inexplicable in its unifying power. It is not the first time, but it most definitely is one of Pakistan’s most vociferous collective responses to a life-altering crime, and is resonating in the terrified hearts of victims, is giving solace to the shrunken soul of a survivor. What is heart-warmingly positive after an unimaginably painful crime is the promptness of Prime Minister Khan’s response. In a week after the gruesome gang rape of a woman stranded at the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in the Gujjurpura area of Lahore, visible action is seen. One suspect is in police custody, and for the arrest of the other, on the run, widescale efforts are in full force. What has also happened is the prime minister of Pakistan saying in a nationally televised address to the nation that the government is standing with the victim of the motorway gang rape. That the government is standing with every victim of rape. That the government is devising a legal framework for punishments that would act as deterrence for future crimes against children and females. That despite countless sex crimes against children and females, now exists the promise of justice for each one of them. Despite and beyond my categorical opposition to capital punishment, public hangings and chemical castrations, today I feel hopeful. Prime Minister Khan’s empathetic and prompt response is dappled sunlight in a dark dank dungeon of the weak and the flawed system of justice of Pakistan for the weak and the persecuted of Pakistan. Minister Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan’s taking notice of the harassment of a teenager and having started the process of the arrest and prosecution of the suspect and his father have given an unequivocal message to every female of Pakistan: you are not alone. The filing of a new FIR with the assurance of the unavailability of a pre-arrest bail, the Punjab government and the Punjab police are reassuring millions of females in Punjab and elsewhere that if they raise their voice against harassment and dire threats, they will be heard. It is an empathetic message that parents must never feel any shame in matters of harassment of their vulnerable daughters. Coming forward would be a collective handholding with all parents and family members of harassed females and even males that silence when being threatened is never an option. The arrest of the children-beating teacher in Jhelum is another sliver of light for millions of people across Pakistan whose financial restraints make sending their beloved children to good schools an impossible dream. Chief Minister Buzdar took notice of the vicious beating. Federal Minister Faisal Vawda tweeted, and Punjab Minister of Education Murad Raas responded. To me these are all hugely consequential things. One perpetrator of violence of children is punished. Many children’s smiles will be brighter now. Countless crimes against children and women occur, that is the dark, undeniable reality. One step in the right direction is one step closer to a safer world for children and females. With these positive steps and many others reported or unreported, millions of Pakistanis now know that nothing that is being reported on social media would go unnoticed by a concerned authority or a governmental official or a member of parliament or a minister or a chief minister or the prime minister. Through tweets of compassionate Pakistanis, voices of the invisible are being amplified and reaching the right people. My deep gratitude is to all who speak up, and to those who take their voices forward–on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, print media, television. Pakistan is a developing country but in almost every home a TV is an essential item. People know that in the 21st century many ways exist to have their voices heard. In every village, small town, and city of Punjab and Pakistan’s other provinces, children from underprivileged backgrounds face harsh treatment and corporal punishments. Now their teachers, their parents and their relatives know that there is a thing called social media, and through that platform their voice will even reach the prime minister. Despite being unaware of Twitter, many of them know about the existence of a thing called Facebook. All that they need now is a person to make a video and post it on Facebook, tagging someone famous. Not all videos reach the right people, but many do. Children, females, the persecuted, the vulnerable of Pakistan will be safe once they know that their screams of pain will not go unheard. This is my Pakistan. Compassion, empathy, justice. For the voiceless human. For one human. For every human.

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India: Burglar falls asleep in air-condition room mid- theft, in Andhra Pradesh

A 21-year-old burglar who attempted to rob a house in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, last week, just couldn’t resist the temptation to sleep under the inviting cool of the air conditioner. What happened next was not surprising, he got caught red-handed. Reportedly Babu, a resident of a village in East Godavari district, tried to rob the house of a petrol bunk owner. He had arranged for a mask; did a proper recce of the house, thoroughly studied the daily routine of the house owner before proceeding to carry out the heist. See more: Photos: Devotees bid farewell to Lord Ganesha on the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in India UAE aid to Pakistan, free COVID testing, UAE-Israel ties, US defiance, India parliament, Lebanon government, issues in Europe, here are the top news in pictures today India-China app war, US marine in Philippines jail, Thai royal consort, Pliscova out of US Open, Facebook grilled – top news in pictures today Cartoons: Trump’s re-election bid to India’s spluttering economy According to the Indian media reports, Babu decided to execute the plan on September 12. He entered the unlocked house at 4am and entered the room of the house owner, Satti Venkat Reddy. Unlike the usual routine of keeping cash inside cupboards or safe boxes, Reddy had unwittingly made it very convenient for Babu by keeping the money next to him on the table. Being an amateur, however, Babu made the mistake of sleeping on the job. Apparently, he thought he would make away with the loot after a small power nap, and decided to sleep under the house owner’s cot. Police officials said: “Babu told us that he was tired and since the air conditioner was also on, he could not resist the sleep.” Unfortunately for him, he ended up sleeping for much longer than the house owner. Police said that when Reddy returned, he heard Babu snoring, locked him inside the room, and alerted the police. The police arrived on the scene at around 7.30am. A police official told local news media channels: “When our colleagues went there, Babu locked himself up in the room. After persuading him for a few minutes, he was detained.” He added: “Though he did not commit the offence, he still attempted to, so we had to arrest him.” Read more: From the editors: UAE students are back at schools and Raina return jolts Chennai Super Kings Embassies and consulates in the UAE – all you need to know From the editors: Houthi attacks in Saudi Arabia, India-China border tensions Photos: Low-key Onam celebrations for Keralites across India amid COVID-19 The police said that Babu had debts, and working at a sweet stall did not help him with the financial crisis he was facing. The police said that they interrogated his family members and found that Babu was not a professional thief. Indian news reports say that the accused was arrested under Section 380/511 (attempt to commit theft) of the Indian Penal Code.

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Arrested ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero duped into flying to Kigali

Africa|: Nairobi: Paul Rusesabagina, the polarising hero of the “Hotel Rwanda” film who was arrested last month in Kigali, was duped into boarding a jet he thought was flying to Burundi, a New York Times report said. “How I got here - now that is a surprise,” he told the US daily in a jailhouse interview with two Rwandan officials in the room. “I was actually not coming here.” Rusesabagina, a Hutu, became famous after the Hollywood film in which he is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,200 people as they sheltered in the hotel he ran during the country’s 1994 genocide. Some 800,000 mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutu were killed in the genocide. The 66-year-old has lived in exile since 1996 and holds both Belgian citizenship and a US “green card”. Over the years, he has become a staunch critic of leader Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated government, accusing his ruling party of authoritarianism and anti-Hutu sentiment. According to the NYT’s Friday report, Rusesabagina flew from the US to Dubai on August 26, before boarding a private jet he thought was heading to Bujumbura in Burundi which neighbours Rwanda. The plane was operated by GainJet, a charter company based in Greece that is often used by Kagame, the report said. But it landed in Kigali where Rusesabagina was arrested. The NYT quoted Rwanda’s spy chief as saying “he delivered himself here.” He has since been charged with terrorism, financing and founding militant groups, murder, arson and conspiracy to involve children in armed groups. Rusesabagina says he was heading to Burundi at the invitation of a pastor, to speak in his churches. But the NYT was not able to speak to the pastor, and says Rwandan officials believe he was actually heading there to coordinate with armed groups based in Burundi and Congo. In 2018, Rusesabagina co-founded an opposition group, the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which is said to have an armed wing called the National Liberation Front (FLN). In multiple speeches, Rusesabagina has expressed support for the FLN - which has carried out armed attacks and is described as a terrorist organisation by Rwanda - but the extent of his involvement in its actions is unclear. He has denied forming the FLN.

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Pakistan: University adopts several steps to reduce carbon emissions

Pakistan|: Karachi: One of the biggest and oldest engineering universities in Pakistan, the NED University of Engineering & Technology in Karachi, will only allow the use of bicycles by the students, faculty, and staff on its sprawling campus every Friday in an effort to make it a carbon-neutral venue. Vice-Chancellor of NED University Prof Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodi stated this as he was one of the keynote speakers at the Annual Environment Conference organized here at a hotel by National Forum for Environment & Health. SEE ALSO Photos: Fear and resolve at Philippine maternity hospital amid COVID-19 From the Editors: IPL to kickstart the showpiece in UAE; UAE ministry's COVID alert IPL 2020 in UAE: Cool runnings from Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab Picturesque terraced rice fields of Mu Cang Chai, northern Vietnam He said that only bicycles would be allowed to be used inside the campus when the university would formally resume academic activities from October 19th, 2020 after the coronavirus emergency. He said that a number of environment friendly measures were being adopted by his university to make its campus a carbon-neutral venue by the year 2021 in connection with the centennial celebrations of its foundation. Tree plantation He said that extensive tree plantation, use of energy efficient appliances, energy conservation, reduction in carbon emissions with lesser use of fossil fuel, and greater reliance on renewable resources of energy would be some of the measures being adopted by the university to make its campus a carbon-neutral venue. The NED University has around 12,000 students and over 500 faculty-members as offsetting the Carbon Dioxide emissions on the campus is a major challenge. Also speaking on the occasion, Sindh Forests and Wildlife Secretary Abdul Rahim Soomro said that tree plantation carried out along the Lyari Expressway in Karachi from Mauripur Bridge was the first successful scheme of urban forest in the province that is now visible to everyone. He said that urban forest schemes were also pursued at the University of Karachi, Shah Faisal Colony, Thaddo Dam in Gadap, areas of Karachi and at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro. Major issue He said that encroachment of the forest land was a major issue pertaining to his department as 1,39,000 acres of such forest area had been retrieved in the province from the encroachers. He said that forests had been regenerated on 40,000 acres area of Sindh. He said that tree plantation had been carried out along total 350 kilometres length of different roads and highways in the province. Soomro said that services of up to 25 female forest officers of Sindh Forests Department had been utilized for a social mobilization campaign as they had been going to different schools to give lectures to students on the importance of greenery and tree plantation. Sindh Information and Forests Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah informed the audience that Sindh government’s drive to grow mangrove forests along the coastal belt of the province had been recognized at the 2019 United Nations’ Climate Change Conference 2019 in Madrid where Pakistan was represented by Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. He said that this international recognition of the forestry drive of the Sindh government was a big achievement as the campaign to increase green cover in the province would continue in accordance with the global standards.

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IPL 2020 in UAE: Teams pay tribute to COVID-19 front-line workers

Dubai: As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the awe-inspiring contribution by the health workers on the front-line has not gone unnoticed by teams playing in the Indian Premier League in the UAE, with both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals set to pay tribute through their cricket gear. Taking the cue from RCB, Delhi will wear the ‘Thank You COVID Warrior’ message on their specially customised team jerseys during the entire tournament SEE MORE IPL in UAE: Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers Bangalore ready to celebrate their 21st In pictures: Camel racing storms back in Sinai after COVID-19 hiatus IPL in UAE: Suryakumar Yadav and Robin Singh of Mumbai Indians celebrate birthday in Abu Dhabi Lionel Messi tops Cristiano Ronaldo as world's richest footballer Delhi called the initiative a “small token of gratitude” towards the front-line workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Taking to social media to announce the poignant initiative their post read: “Whatever we do for our COVID Warriors is not going to be comparable in any way to what they’ve done for society. But here’s an attempt to put a smile on their faces, with a heartfelt ‘Salaam’ and a special surprise.” The heartfelt message reminds those playing and watching the IPL which starts on Saturday that we all depend upon the dedication and commitment of health workers during this very difficult time in our lives. Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma led the tributes to the health work tireless medical staff around the world saying: “To all the sanitation workers, doctors, security forces, blood donors, social workers, drivers, and their respective families — this small token of thanks from our team is a testament of your service towards humanity.” Amit Mishra, the squad’s an attacking right-arm leg-break bowler said: “Words are not enough to thank these COVID warriors. A big Salaam from all of us for you. As our world continues to battle and survive this pandemic, it’s efforts like yours that will continue to inspire, and make a difference.” Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif added: “It takes real selflessness, humility and desire to be able to put others first in this battle for survival. Therefore, I would like to express my huge gratitude to all of you for making the world a better place.” Delhi open their campaign against Kings XI Punjab in Dubai on September 20. Earlier this week, Virat Kohli, skipper of the Royal Challengers Bangalore acknowledged that health workers face circumstances that pose a major security risk to their lives and said: “In the past few months, whenever I heard the stories of the Covid Heroes it has given me literal goosebumps. These real challengers have made the country proud.” RCB will play the IPL with jerseys sporting the tribute an RCB statement said. “To acknowledge the efforts and honour the sacrifices made by these real challengers, RCB team will proudly don a tribute jersey with the message ‘My Covid Heroes’ both during training and matches for the entire tournament. The message will be displayed on the back of both the jerseys.” Delhi Capitals open their campaign against Kings XI Punjab in Dubai on September 20. Earlier this week, Virat Kohli, skipper of the Royal Challengers Bangalore acknowledged that health workers face circumstances that pose a major security risk to their lives and said: “In the past few months, whenever I heard the stories of the Covid Heroes it has given me literal goosebumps. These real challengers have made the country proud and inspired all of us to be more persistent and dedicated to our efforts to build a better tomorrow.” RCB will play the IPL with jerseys sporting the beautiful tribute, “My COVID Heroes” the RCB RCB statement on Thursday. “To acknowledge the efforts and honour the sacrifices made by these real challengers, RCB team will proudly don a tribute jersey with the message “My Covid Heroes” both during training and matches for the entire tournament. The message will be displayed on the back of both the jerseys,” said an RCB statement on Thursday. “RCB will also be supporting GiveIndia Foundation by donating the proceeds from the auction of the jerseys that players wear during season’s first RCB match,” read the statement. Initiatives like these from RCB and DC are fitting tributes to those individuals who have given their lives in the fight against Coronavirus and in the service of health care in general

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IPL 2020 in UAE: Shreya Iyer taps Delhi Capitals ‘seniors’ for advice

Dubai: Delhi Capitals’ skipper Shreyas Iyer is banking on the depth of experience in his side as they prepare to face the Kings XI Punjab in their opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday. Boasting of a formidable top order led by the skipper alongside the fiery Shikhar Dhawan, young gun Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw, the Delhi Capitals also have the services of a sturdy middle order that could include the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Shimron Hetmyer, Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis, among others. IPL 2020 in UAE: BCCI, Emirates Cricket Board sign MoU and hosting agreement to boost cricket between India and UAE IPL 2020 in UAE: The factors that decide tactics and performances IPL 2020 in UAE: This year's viewership will be highest ever, says IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel IPL 2020 in UAE: Here's what fans can look forward to from Chennai Super Kings & MS Dhoni Despite having some world-class cricketers over the years, the Delhi outfit are the only team in the tournament who haven’t made it to the final as yet. The franchise’s decision to change the name of the team last season to Delhi Capitals possibly brought in some luck as the team entered the knockout stages before losing to the Chennai Super Kings in the second qualifier. Now with the likes of Ashwin and Rahane within the squad, Iyer reckons things will be a bit different. “They bring in a lot of experience and strength. The last few practice sessions have been a great indicator of this as the younger players have fed off their experience and confidence,” Iyer noted. SEE MORE Transfer gossip: Dele Alli on way to Real Madrid to make way for Gareth Bale at Tottenham? IPL in UAE: Suryakumar Yadav and Robin Singh of Mumbai Indians celebrate birthday in Abu Dhabi IPL in UAE: Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers Bangalore ready to celebrate their 21st Lionel Messi tops Cristiano Ronaldo as world's richest footballer “These seniors are very much part of the team and they’ve done well to blend in. For sure, they are here to help the squad, especially the juniors,” he added. Iyer was willing to fall back on the lessons he has learnt with the Delhi Capitals — the only team to have never appeared in an IPL final. However, their best came during 2019 when they made it to the play-offs for the first time in seven years. “We were great competitors and we were doing everything right all the time. We never gave a reason that we were getting tired as every individual took responsibility in their own way, and that is how we ended in third last season,” Iyer reflected. “We were like a family last season. We stuck together in the good times and the bad. And that is one thing we will continue doing this season as well,” he promised. Asked if they had put any special celebrations in place during and after matches at this edition of the IPL, Iyer said: “We haven’t decided anything in particular about that. The last time when we came together to play, we gave each other fist bumps. Maybe we will know later today if we are going to do anything different and special.”

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India parliament session may be cut short as COVID-19 cases among MPs rise

India|: New Delhi: India’s parliament session that began this week is likely to be cut short after 30 lawmakers were found infected with the coronavirus, two senior parliament officials said, as the number of cases in the country rose to 5.3 million. The Indian parliament met for the first time in six months on September 14 and was to function until October 1, but the two officials said its duration could be reduced by a week. “Since the commencement of the session the number of positive cases have gone up so the government is thinking of cutting short the session,” said one of the two officials, who are involved in the functioning of parliament proceedings. The government has also mandated daily tests for journalist entering parliament to cover the session from Saturday. Piyush Soperna, joint director at the country’s upper house’s secretariat, said in an email response that it has no information on the issue of prematurely ending the parliament session next week. India, which recorded 93,337 new infections in the last 24 hours, has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August, according to a Reuters tally. India is the second-most badly hit country after United States with total recorded coronavirus cases at 5.3 million. However, deaths in India have been relatively low. The virus has killed 1,247 people in last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 85,619, government data showed on Saturday. The lawmakers who have been infected include Nitin Gadkari, highways and medium and small enterprises minister in Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s cabinet. On Wednesday, India’s federal government ordered its states not to hoard oxygen supplies and allow free movement to cope with the rising number of cases.

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How Ginsburg’s death could reshape US presidential campaign

Americas|: New York: A presidential campaign that was already tugging at the nation’s most searing divides has been jolted by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, potentially reshaping the election at a moment when some Americans were beginning to cast ballots. For months, the contest has largely centered on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, the biggest public health crisis in a century that has badly damaged his prospects for reelection as the US death toll nears 200,000 people. See also Trump visits masks factory in Arizona but declines to wear one COVID-19: Inside New York City, epicenter of U.S. coronavirus outbreak Tokyo 2020 Olympics in turmoil as Trump looks to Japan Trump relaunches campaign with vaccine promise, vision of 'incredible' future But in a flash, Ginsburg’s death on Friday added new weight to the election, with the potential that Trump or his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, could pick a successor who could decide abortion access, environmental regulations and the power of the presidency for a generation. With early voting underway in five states and Election Day just over six weeks away, Democrats and Republicans were largely unified late Friday in praising Ginsburg as a leading legal thinker and advocate for women’s rights. But strategists in both parties also seized on the moment to find an advantage. Facing the prospect of losing both the White House and the Senate, some Republicans viewed the Supreme Court vacancy as one of the few avenues remaining for Trump to galvanise supporters beyond his most loyal core of supporters, particularly suburban women who have abandoned the GOP in recent years. “It’s hard to see how this doesn’t help Trump politically,” said veteran Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Biden wants this election to be a referendum on Trump. Now it’s going to be a referendum on whoever he nominates to the Supreme Court.” Multiple Republicans close to the White House believe that Trump will likely nominate a woman, who could serve as a counterweight of sorts to Biden’s choice of running mate Kamala Harris, who would be the first woman to serve as vice president. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to quickly bring to a vote whomever Trump nominates. But he faces potential division within his own ranks, including from Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado. Collins and Gardner are in particularly tight races for reelection this fall. That’s fueling optimism among Democrats that the vacancy could drive home the significance of the election to their base. “The implications for Senate races could be profound,” said Democratic strategist Bill Burton. “The presidential race will see some immediate churn as activists on both sides will be newly energised,” he continued. “The persistent question will be whether huge protests around the Capitol and the country will inflame such vigorous energy that it leads to awful clashes.” Democrats enraged Biden, who has already pledged to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, told reporters late Friday that “voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider”. Democrats are enraged by McConnell’s pledge to move forward, especially after he blocked President Barack Obama from appointing a justice to replace Antonin Scalia nine months before the 2016 election. That decision cast a long political shadow, prompting Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor who mounted a spirited bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, to make expansion of the Supreme Court a centerpiece of his campaign. Biden rejected the idea. Some Democrats privately concede that the Supreme Court vacancy could shift attention away from the virus, which has been a central element of Biden’s campaign. High-profile debate Trump took the unprecedented step in 2016 of releasing a list of Supreme Court picks before he was elected, a move that was credited with unifying sceptical conservative voters to unite behind him. Republicans also believe that the high-profile debate over Trump’s last Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, helped the GOP retain the Senate during the 2018 midterms, when the party lost control of the House. The president, seeking to build the same type of energy that surrounded his 2016 bid, released another list of potential Supreme Court nominees this week. But some Democrats said the political environment is already overheated, with partisan divides over everything from wearing a mask to curb the pandemic to addressing climate change. Ginsburg’s death, they say, may not change that. “It’s already pretty ugly out there,” said Megan Jones, a Democratic strategist who worked for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I do not know how this does not become a fight of epic proportions.”

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COVID-19: Kerala youth shunning white collar jobs, turning to manual labour

India|: Thiruvananthapuram: Like the rest of India, the COVID-19 lockdown has led to mass job losses in Kerala too, but as the economy attempts to get back to normal, there is a striking change in work attitudes in the state – a reduction in the craze for white collar jobs. Traditionally, Keralites have preferred white collar jobs alone, exhibiting such an aversion to any manual job that an estimated two million workers from other states have been attracted to the state from across the country. Many of those workers have returned to their native states during the lockdown. SEE ALSO Eerie images of an abandoned prison in Compiegne, Northern France UAE: 10 time-travel movies or series perfect for the weekend From Anil Kapoor to Hrithik Roshan, Bollywood stars send birthday wishes to Shabana Azmi COVID-19: UAE announces new protocols for weddings, funerals, social events The extended lockdown has dealt telling blows to two pillars of Kerala’s economy – remittances and tourism. The loss of jobs worldwide has caused tens of thousands of Keralites based abroad to return home, leading to loss of international remittances, and the tourism sector’s virtual closure in the state has led to massive losses of jobs and tax revenue. Kerala’s annual remittances from around the world has averaged over Rs 1 trillion for several years, but that will take a severe dent this fiscal owing to job losses and corporate austerity around the world. The tourism sector, which is a key revenue earner for the state, has been devastated by the lockdown, affecting hundreds of thousands of jobs, financial crisis for tourism property owners and a loss of tax revenue to the exchequer. A change in outlook That bleak economic landscape appears to have led to a change in the work ethic among Keralites, with many people now willing to take up manual work. In different parts of the state, the youth have organized themselves to take up jobs ranging from farming to painting buildings, striking deals with whoever is willing to give them work. Some others who have lost jobs have turned to whatever manual jobs they can get. In Varikoly near Vadkara in Kozhikode district, N.K. Ramesh, a gold medalist from the Aligarh Muslim University in 2015 in the M Sc Diploma in Museology, has taken up dehusking coconuts to make a living. Ramesh, who was holding a temporary government job as a museum guide at the Kunjalli Marakkar Museum at Kottakkal in north Kerala, lost his job when all museums were shut owing to the lockdown. Ramesh, who also is a post graduate in Anthropology, dehusks about 1,000 coconuts a day, earning Rs 800. “We should be able to turn crises in life into fortunes. For that we should be willing to take up any job. As we go along, rewards will come to us based on our abilities”, Ramesh told Gulf News. Popular Malayalam actor Vinod Kovoor, better known as M80 Moosa, had recently turned to fish retailing with the ‘Moosakayi C Fresh’ brand, following the downturn in the showbiz sector. Attitude is key According to Nithin George Eapen, founder of the Connecticut, US-based ChanceRiver, a firm that hires in India and the US, attitude is one of the key ingredients to success. “Your IQ and marks may get you a foot in the door, but from thereon everything depends on your performance and attitude”, he says. Eapen said many Keralites were still entrenched in their desire to work at some prestigious IT park and would turn down better jobs that paid higher just because the job was not in a tech park. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis the state government is also attempting to cut costs, which will reflect on hiring in the coming days. Recently, there were street protests after a 28-year-old youth, S. Anu committed suicide after he failed to get a government job despite coming 77th in the state employment selection list.

GulfNews World

IPL 2020 in UAE: Ricky Ponting confident Delhi Capitals can deliver against Kings XI Punjab

Dubai: Having made the necessary adjustments during these ‘new normal’ times, the Delhi Capitals are looking confidently ahead as they face the Kings XI Punjab in Sunday’s match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. “We have done most of our research on them, but we’ve got a little more to do to prepare for the game,” Delhi head coach Ricky Ponting told media from across the globe in the customary prematch conference on Saturday. “We cannot really say anything about this IPL tournament as every squad out there is a very strong squad. As far as the KXIP are concerned, we know them as a team and what they are capable of doing. But that said, we are 100 per cent prepared for the task ahead. It has been a long preparation period and we hope to start strong to get our IPL campaign under way.” IPL 2020 in UAE: Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Eoin Morgan and David Warner arrive in UAE In Pictures: UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar spot on in Tour de France IPL in UAE: Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers Bangalore relax from pool side to pool table IPL 2020 in UAE: Cool runnings from Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab Ponting also brushed aside the constant talk about being under pressure in the coronavirus-safe environment in the UAE. “There is no pressure on how the game is played. We have been in the bio bubble and the interaction between us has been different. The fact that there are no crowds means there is less pressure,” he said. “As the coaching staff, it is just about giving our team the best chance to perform at their best levels. We are just approaching this first game as any other game and we want to focus on nothing more than the first one. We need a good start.” Sunday’s opener will be an indicator in more ways than one for the DC set-up, who have splurged some serious cash while having some of the most experienced players at their disposal such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer and Alex Carey, who last week starred in Australia’s 2-1 win in the ODI series against hosts England. “All preparations have been different this time. We are yet to play our first game and we all know there will be some challenges there. But, once we start then we will create our own energy on the field so that our fans are happy with what we do,” Ponting said. IPL 2020 in UAE: BCCI, Emirates Cricket Board sign MoU and hosting agreement to boost cricket between India and UAE IPL 2020 in UAE: This year's viewership will be highest ever, says IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel IPL 2020 in UAE: Here's what fans can look forward to from Chennai Super Kings & MS Dhoni IPL 2020 in UAE: Delhi Capitals’ coach Ponting banks on the Rishabh Pant factor During December’s auction in Bengaluru, DC released a clutch of players and brought in exciting names such as Carey, Hetmyer, Daniel Sams, Marcus Stoinis, Tushar Deshpande and Lalit Yadav. “We are convinced we have a good band of players, and having such names means we also go in with a lot of flexibility,” Ponting said. “Rahane has given us the depth. Shikhar was good as anybody last season. He took the game to the other. He scored more than 600 runs last season and he had a super series. He looks an even better this year from what I have seen during training. Shreyas has always been the leader and then we have others like Stoinis, Ashwin and Carey. “We have a lot of our bases covered and the hard work that has been put in particularly in the last three weeks will start showing off starting off with the first match. This is one of the most focused teams that I have seen preparing and I am really excited about what lies ahead.”

GulfNews World

Vile social media attacks target Pakistani women journalists

Pakistan|: Kabul: The Committee to Protect Journalists on Friday condemned relentless social media attacks on women journalists in Pakistan - vicious assaults that have threatened rape and even death. The attacks often follow instances of public criticism of the ruling party, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former celebrity cricket player who turned to politics later in life and whose following includes legions of young people. Criticism had focused on Khan’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan has reported over 304,00 cases of the virus, including 6,408 deaths. The numbers have been declining since June, with fewer than 400 new cases reported on most days and as testing has increased. The relentless trolling and mounting complaints from women journalists prompted CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator Steve Butler and senior Asia researcher Aliya Iftikar to warn that those spewing abuse online of Pakistani women journalists are often fans of the ruling party. The New York-based group did not provide evidence of direct links between the perpetrators and Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI. CPJ’s statement, featuring testimonials from several Pakistani women journalists, comes after a petition, signed by more than 100 women journalists, submitted to the government last month demanding an end to the online assaults. “The target of these attacks are women with differing viewpoints and those whose reports have been critical of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government, and more specifically its handling of the coronavirus pandemic,” the petition said. “The online attacks are instigated by government officials and then amplified by a large number of Twitter accounts, which declare their affiliation to the ruling party,” it added. “In what is certainly a well-defined and coordinated campaign, personal details of women journalists and analysts have been made public.” CPJ also said the attacks have “dire offline consequences”, with many female reporters saying they are being forced out of their jobs or feel prevented from fully participating in their profession. Khan’s government and the country’s powerful military and its much feared intelligence agency, have been harshly criticised for their heavy-handed approach to its critics in the media. Journalists have been picked up, civil rights activists are in jail, some for months without being charged. Others, such as rights activist Gulalai Ismail, have been charged with sedition for criticising the military and forced to flee the country. Separately, the Coalition for Women in Journalism, a global rights group, this week released an 20-page report on attacks on social media faced by Pakistan’s women journalists, saying they come from online “accounts affiliated to the ruling party and conservative, right-wing elements in the country”. “Such deplorable acts further draw our attention to the grim environment against women journalists and press freedom,” said Kiran Nazish, the group’s founding director. One of the petition signatories, journalist Asma Shirazi who hosts a prime time current affairs show, said the women journalists are not asking for sympathy. “I need support for freedom of expression in the country,” she said. “I am not a victim. I believe in defiance.” She said the trolling is an attempt by the government to shut down criticism on social media. “Whenever you criticise PTI, the attacks begin. They are all institution sponsored.” AP’s calls to government and military officials seeking comment were not answered Friday. However, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari tweeted last month that it was “disturbing to learn of women journalists being targeted and abused”. Abusing women because they are critical is never acceptable, she said at the time. “Journalists do their job & to target them, especially gender-based abusive attacks on women journos, is absolutely unacceptable and disgusting.”

GulfNews World

IPL 2020 in UAE: Meet Anuja Dalvi, the only female physio in world’s richest T20 league

Dubai: The smiling visage of Anuja Dalvi at the practice sessions of Rajasthan Royals - ever since their Indian players got down to business from the last week of August in Dubai - did not really raise an eyebrow. Yes, she is the only female physio in the Indian Premier League (IPL), who is also doubling up as their in-charge of the COVID-19 task force, but she had already carved a niche for herself in this field in India before taking up the assignment. In an arena which is dominated by some of the biggest names in the business like her mentor John Gloster, former Indian physios Andrew Leipus or Shankar Basu, Anuja is the stereotype of what you call the barrier-breaker - but has serious credentials to back it up. A Masters degree holder of Musculoskeletal & Sports Physiotherapy from the University of South Australia, Anuja had been trained at two elite institutes; GS medical college at KEM Hospital in Mumbai and her Alma Mater at Adelaide. SEE MORE IPL in UAE: Mumbai Indians prepare for Abu Dhabi opener against Chennai Super Kings IPL 2020 in UAE: Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Eoin Morgan and David Warner arrive in UAE In Pictures: UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar spot on in Tour de France IPL in UAE: Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers Bangalore relax from pool side to pool table Backed by over 11 years of experience, during which she has worked as the National Cricket Academy of the BCCI in Bengaluru as well as the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), Anuja admits the current assignment is certainly one of the most demanding ones in her career. Just as the Royals were about to leave for the UAE around the third week of August, they had a bit of hiccup when their fielding coach Dishant Yagnik tested positive for coronavirus. How difficult was it to leave him back in India and monitor his progress? ‘‘John (Gloster) and I were in constant touch with Dishant - not just over his physical health but we supported him to stay motivated throughout. We made sure that the protocols were followed without losing the human touch and taking care of the sensitivity of the situation. Dishant was patient and cooperative throughout this process. It was wonderful to have him back in business here by early September,’’ Anuja recalled. Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive chat, 34-year-old Anuja, wife of Niranjan Pandit - a familiar name in the scene of sports medicine in India - admitted that it’s been a learning process to combine the two roles of being a team physio and in-charge of Covid task force for a high profile sports franchise like Rajasthan Royals. ‘‘It’s been a very interesting journey so far in my First year with Royals. I have previously done medical management work with IMG-IPL and Pro Kabbadi League but in these unique circumstances of Covid -19, each moment is a learning experience. Members of Rajasthan Royals squad go through their paces at the ICC Academy in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied picture ‘‘I am largely handling the Covid management for our franchise with an invaluable support of my team members, most notably team doctor Dr Robert Young and Gloster. A lot of structured thinking has gone behind our bio-bubble and the higher management is paying particular attention in achieving the very best to formulate and implement protocols - and at the same time - taking care of nurturing a healthy team environment in the bubble,’’ Anuja said. During the course of the interview, Anuja admits that she has had to handle the question of being a barrier-breaker only in media interviews. ‘‘Honestly, only if someone points out this fact that I’m the only female in the core support staff team is when I realise the gender-difference. Someone told me sometime back that gender doesn’t matter, what matters is the work should be accomplished with the highest quality - and I believe in this thought completely. In the past, I have worked with various elite male athletes at my clinic as well as on the field. I knew some of the boys from before and having worked in cricket for a decade makes the scenario much easier. I must appreciate the professionalism of all our boys, there is not a small percentage of awkwardness. The work environment is extremely encouraging,’’ she observed. READ MORE IPL 2020 in UAE: UAE pitches can hold the key to success IPL in UAE: Chennai Super Kings prepare for a perfect blast-off From the Editors: IPL to kickstart the showpiece in UAE; UAE ministry's COVID alert IPL in UAE: Google reinforces Play Store gambling policies before IPL 13 An unique feature of Anuja’s profile is that she seems to have her either feet in cricket and Olympic sports - having worked with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), badminton, tennis, shooting and gymnastics. She is also a part of a NGO Go Sports Foundation which works with the Olympic and Para-olympic athletes. How different are the nature of fitness issues and injuries on the two sides? Taking off on the technical perspective, she says: ‘‘There is this common notion around cricket that it doesn’t require athleticism and fitness like other olympic sports. Well, I have been fortunate to have worked closely with different sports and the sports science & injury analysis of each sport is non-comparable. ‘‘Traditionally, a sport of skills, cricket is drastically embracing the fitness and athleticism especially with the growing popularity of T-20. Olympic sports have always demanded the extreme prowess out of an athlete especially as most of them are individual sports. Also the psychology and sports science behind team sports and individual sports will always remain uniquely different,’’ she felt. Finally, did she ever feel the shadow of gender bias in executing her job in a career spanning over a decade? ‘‘I have been working in the professional sports sector for a decade now but fortunately, I have never encountered any gender bias. I was recommended By Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) over my male physio colleagues for the NCA cricket-specific certification in the year 2009 - the year when my cricket journey started. I was one of the brightest in my class of Level 1 Physiotherapy and have been always respected and appreciated by my male colleagues in cricket. ‘‘I feel in our world of Sports Physio & Sports sciences, there shouldn’t be any gender bias. Females are equally talented as males. Your skills & technique as a physio and the willingness to put in hard work can make you equally effective in the hands-on treatment. But the most important thing is you have to follow the ethics, develop the right attitude and professionalism. This is the key to success in any field for any gender,’’ she signed off.

GulfNews World

Amit Shah to join LS proceedings on Saturday after COVID-19 recovery

India|: New Delhi: Two days after he was discharged from the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) followed by a complete medical check-up to ensure his post COVID-19 recovery, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to join the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament on Saturday during the Lok Sabha proceedings. As his name is mentioned in the revised list of Business of the Lok Sabha for Saturday, it seems Shah would join the lower house to move the National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 for its passage. The Lok Sabha will meet at 3pm on Saturday. Shah's name is mentioned in the legislative business list to press for the Bill which provides establishment and declare an institution to be known as the National Forensic Sciences University as an institution of national importance to facilitate and promote studies and research and to achieve excellence in the field of forensic science in conjunction with applied behavioural science studies, law, criminology and other allied areas and technology and other related fields. The Minister's name is also listed for the move of Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 for its consideration and passage. The Bill seeks to establish and declare an institution to be known as the Rashtriya Raksha University as an institution of national importance and to provide for its incorporation and matters connected. Shah was discharged from AIIMS on Thursday evening, four days after being admitted there for a complete medical check-up. On September 13, Shah was admitted to AIIMS for a complete check-up ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. This was the third time he was admitted to hospital after contracting coronavirus. Shah had been suffering from post-COVID ailments for a month. On August 2, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and received treatment at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. The Home Minister was discharged on August 14 after testing negative. On August 18, Shah was admitted to AIIMS for post-COVID treatment after he complained of fatigue and bodyache. He recovered on August 29 and was discharged.

GulfNews World

China launches sanctions regime after US moves on TikTok, WeChat

Asia|Americas|: Shanghai: China on Saturday launched a mechanism that would allow it to sanction foreign companies, upping the ante in a tech war with the United States a day after Washington moved to curb popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat. 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, while also moving against TikTok and WeChat. Its implementation comes just a day after the US Commerce Department stepped up the pressure by ordering a ban on downloads of video app TikTok and effectively blocking use of WeChat, the Chinese super-app. An announcement by China's Ministry of Commerce did not mention any specific foreign entities that could be targeted. But it said the new system would consider sanctions on entities whose activities "harm China's national sovereignty, security, and development interests" or violate "internationally accepted economic and trade rules". That language closely tracks wording that Beijing has used to repeatedly denounce US actions against Chinese companies. Punitive measures may include fines against the foreign entity, banning it from conducting trade and investment in China, and restrictions on the entry of personnel or equipment into the country. It covers "foreign enterprises, other organisations and individuals", the ministry said. 'Unreliable' Under Friday's US order against the Chinese apps, Tencent-owned WeChat would lose functionality in the United States from Sunday. TikTok users will be banned from installing updates but could keep accessing the service through November 12. That timeframe potentially allows for a tie-up between TikTok, owned by China's ByteDance, and a US company to safeguard data for the wildly popular app to allay Washington's security concerns. With President Donald Trump facing a tough re-election campaign, US officials have described the measures as essential to safeguard national security from potential Chinese espionage through the platforms. But in a response to the US steps, 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. "If the US insists on going its own way, China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies," it said, without specifying the potential measures. A short time after that statement, the ministry announced the new sanctions regime. TikTok vowed to fight the Trump crackdown in court, saying it impedes a tool "for entertainment, self-expression and connection." Critics said that while the security risks were unclear, the sweeping ban raises concerns about the US government's ability to regulate free expression. "It's a mistake to think of this as (only) a sanction on TikTok and WeChat. It's a serious restriction on the First Amendment rights of US citizens and residents," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Some analysts say Trump's moves are motivated more by reasons for business competition than security concerns. The moves would effectively disable US use of WeChat - a so-called super-app used for messaging, shopping, payments and other services - and TikTok from the online marketplaces operated by Apple and Google. After Sunday, services on WeChat will be "degraded", said a senior US Commerce Department official, who added that existing users may retain some capability. WeChat is widely used among Chinese expats to keep in touch with people back home. A court challenge to the ban by US-based WeChat users is pending. The US ban on WeChat does not affect its service in China where the app is much more widely used. Pressure grows for a deal Existing TikTok users will be able to continue using the app until November 12 - when it would also face a full ban on its US operations if no deal is reached, according to officials. TikTok's brand of brief, quirky phone videos has become hugely popular, especially among young people, with 100 million users in the US alone. The move ramps up pressure on ByteDance to conclude a deal to sell all or part of TikTok to allay US security concerns. A potential deal would allow Silicon Valley giant Oracle to become the tech partner for TikTok, but some US lawmakers have objected to allowing ByteDance to keep a stake. Trump said Friday a deal could happen quickly. "For ByteDance, their back is against the wall to accept the terms of the deals outlined over the past few days," Daniel Ives at Wedbush Securities said in a research note. "We still believe a deal can be reached and this shutdown averted although it's a critical 48 hours ahead for deal negotiations between all parties involved."