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To Pay Off Billions In Debt, Ecuador Is Going To Extremes

In spite of the incredible consequences, Ecuador is auctioning off 3 million pristine Amazonian hectares to oil companies in China to help reduce the country’s debt.

With the sale of part of the Amazon, Ecuador hopes to reduce the $7 billion debt it has with China, who has been loaning money in exchange for oil. “My understanding is that this is more of a debt issue – it’s because the Ecuadoreans are so dependent on the Chinese to finance their development that they’re willing to compromise in other areas such as social and environmental regulations,” said Adam Zuckerman, from the NGO Amazon Watch.

However, there are seven indigenous groups in the area who are fighting the auction since a court ruling said they must give permission to the government to do anything with the land. “They have not consulted us, and we’re here to tell the big investors that they don’t have our permission to exploit our land,” said Narcisa Mashienta, a leader of Ecuador’s Shuar people.

Ecuador’s secretary of hydrocarbons, Andrés Donoso Fabara, rebutted telling The Guardian, “These guys [indigenous leaders] with a political agenda, they are not thinking about development or about fighting against poverty. We are entitled by law, if we wanted, to go in by force and do some activities even if they are against them, but that’s not our policy.”

But it’s not just Ecuador at stake.  The auction comes as neighboring Peru has declared an environmental state of emergency because of the high amounts of pollution in their part of the Amazon. What’s worse is that these groups have been complaining about the pollution for years, since Pluspetrol, an Argentinian oil company, has been working there since 2001.

Read more about the auction from The Guardian here.

READ: Monkeys In Nicaragua Are Dropping Dead And People Have NO Idea Why

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Worried If TikTok Will Still Be Banned In The US? The Biden Administration Just Made Some Announcements

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Worried If TikTok Will Still Be Banned In The US? The Biden Administration Just Made Some Announcements

Since his inauguration last month, Joe Biden has reversed many of Donald Trump’s nightmarish policies established over the last four years. In the first 24 hours alone, he rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstated protections for LGBTQ+ people, ended a travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, and retracted the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

Now, the Biden administration has also announced its intentions with the proposed TikTok ban, as it assesses whether the short-form video app really poses a national security threat.

The Biden administration has halted the proposed ban on TikTok.

According to the BBC, the suspension means that both TikTok and the messaging app WeChat, two Chinese-owned apps implicated in the ban, can continue to operate in the US while government staff familiarize themselves with the case.

Trump had claimed that TikTok presents privacy and security concerns, echoing hacktivist collective Anonymous’s allegations that the app is: “essentially malware operated by the Chinese government running a massive spying operation.”

The suspension signals that US-based TikTokers won’t have to worry about the platform being banned anytime soon – roll on more sea shanty success stories and viral style challenges.

Originally Published July 30, 2020: President Donald Trump is renewing his attempt to ban TikTok from the U.S. There has been more scrutiny on TikTok as more people delete the app from their phone over security and privacy concerns. Yet, Microsoft is now interested in buying the social media platform.

President Donald Trump is reportedly getting ready to tell Chinese-owned ByteDance to sell their U.S. stakes in TikTok

While President Trump continues his attempts to get rid of TikTok, Microsoft is swooping in to save the social media platform by acquiring it now. It is unclear how far the talks are between Microsoft and TikTok but it would protect the app from being banned in the U.S. ByteDance the company that owns TikTok is valued at $100 billion.

Original: With millions of teens and young adults – a demographic I think I still fit – under lockdown orders thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans turned to TikTok.

The fun, 15-second video app has been downloaded more than 200 million times in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, with users sharing everything from dance and recipe videos to starting now-viral trends. The app is loved by its users and they’re proving they’ll stand by it when it comes under threat. Which is exactly what they’re doing now as the Trump administration has announced a potential ban on TikTok.

According to some officials, Trump is looking to ban TikTok.

https://twitter.com/taylorlorenz/status/1281680094218592259?s=21

According to senior administration officials – and Trump himself – the TikTok app is a threat to U.S. national security and at risk of being banned in the country. Some are suggesting it’s a way for Trump to retaliate against China over its handling of the Coronavirus, others suggest it’s Trump retaliating against ‘TikTokivists’ who helped make his Tulsa rally a total disaster. Either way, news of a possible ban on TikTok has sent its users into overdrive.

Trump’s comments came after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Americans not to download the app unless they want to see their private information fall into “the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Trump didn’t offer specifics about a potential decision and Pompeo seemed to walk back the idea of a ban in a later statement, saying that the U.S. efforts to protect American consumers’ data don’t relate to any one particular company.

TikTok, an app known for quirky short videos, is facing political heat because of its ties to China.

Credit: Getty Stock Images

TikTok has in fact come under increased scrutiny in recent months – not just in the U.S. – for it’s ties to China. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company and many countries around the world are worried about that connection. Citing national security concerns, India banned TikTok last week. The US Army and Navy have banned service members from downloading the app to government-issued phones. Even Amazon has raised concerns. On Friday, the huge online retailer barred employees from using the app on devices that connect to the company’s email, citing “security risks.”

TikTok has tried responding to the issue. In an interview with CNBC, a TikTok spokesperson said, “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

The company has also made it clear that all data from American citizens is stored outside of China, on servers based in the United States. The company claims that its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and that none of their users’ data is subject to Chinese law.

Meanwhile, many TikTok users say they care less about potential Chinese snooping and more about Trump taking away their digital hangout. In the U.S., TikTok has been downloaded more than 165 million times, according to Sensor Tower.

“I don’t believe Trump is trying to take TikTok away because of national security, but more to retaliate against activism on the app and all the videos about him that drag him through the mud,” said Darius Jackson, an 18-year-old TikTok user, in a statement to CNBC.

“This is the first year I’ll be able to vote and I think activism on TikTok is going to make a big difference,” Jackson said.

Many view the move as retaliation for Trump’s failed Tulsa rally.

Credit: Mark Short / Getty Images

It’s hard to forget the epic fail that was Trump’s Tulsa rally. His planned ‘relaunch’ of his 2020 campaign after being forced to suspend his massive rallies because of Coronavirus.

Leading up to the event, Trump had touted record-shattering interest and ticket sales for the rally. He went so far as to say that millions of Americans had RSVP’d for it – and he wasn’t actually lying this time. However, there was one minor problem – hundreds of thousands of tickets were actually reserved in a massive campaign by Korean pop stans and TikTok users.

Thanks to a TikTok campaign, Trump’s ‘massive’ rally was an utter disaster attended by only a few thousand people. Many suggest that this campaign cold be why Trump is looking to target TikTok with some sort of ban.

Since the announcement, ‘TikTok Teens’ have launched a full-fledged assault against the Trump administration.

One of the pettiest (ie. best) moves the collection of ‘TikTokivists’ has made so far, is that tens of thousands flooded the Apple App Store and left scathing reviews of the Trump 2020 Campaign app. On Wednesday alone 700 negative reviews were left on the Official Trump 2020 app and 26 positive ones, according to tracking firm Sensor Tower.

“For Gen Z and Millennials, TikTok is our clubhouse and Trump threatened it,” said Yori Blacc, a 19-year-old TikTok user in California who joined in the app protest. “If you’re going to mess with us, we will mess with you.”

The efforts to push the app low enough so that Apple will remove it from the app store may be misguided. Apple doesn’t delete apps based on their popularity. The App Store may review those that violate its guidelines or are outdated, but not if their ratings sink. A similar tactic was tried in April to protest Google Classroom by kids frustrated with quarantine home-schooling.

But can the U.S. government actually ban an app?

According to most legal experts, the answer is no. Sure, the administration could attempt to but thanks to the U.S. legal system, a total ban wouldn’t last. Administrations have limited authority to ban outright any specific piece of software, like an app. But it could potentially lobby Congress to enact legislation that targets TikTok.

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China Is Using Anal Swabs To Test For COVID-19 – Could This Be The Future Of Testing?

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China Is Using Anal Swabs To Test For COVID-19 – Could This Be The Future Of Testing?

Although the Coronavirus pandemic originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan at the end of 2019 – and the country was hit hard by the outbreak – China seemed to successfully get a handle on the health crisis quicker than most countries. However, that tide seems to be shifting as the country struggles with one of its largest COVID-19 outbreaks yet.

It could be argued that Chinese citizens also endured some of the most draconian measures meant to curb the virus’ spread: entire cities were placed under strict lockdowns, drones were used to enforce curfews, entire communities were forced into testing centers.

But now they face a new indignity: the addition of anal swabs.

China rolls out rectal testing to help stop a spike in new infections.

Chinese officials have introduced the new protocol and it’s been met with widespread discussion and some outrage. Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative.

An anal swab test means inserting a cotton-tipped swab about 3-5cm (1-2 inches) into the rectum, which is then sent to a lab to be tested for the virus. They are analyzed in the same way as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus tests taken from the nose or throat.

“If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients,” Li Tongzeng, an infectious-disease specialist at Beijing You’an Hospital, said on state-run broadcaster China Central Television Sunday. 

Yet for many, the anal tests seems to be a step too far.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has been willing to take draconian measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, even at enormous inconvenience to its population. In the early days of lockdowns, health officials sometimes sealed apartment buildings to keep people from leaving. Millions were rounded up for overnight flash-testing drives, with people forming lines in the streets in darkness.

Even Chinese doctors who support the new tests said the method’s inconvenience meant it made sense for use only in select groups, such as at quarantine centers.

“Everyone involved will be so embarrassed,” one user in Guang­dong province said Wednesday on ­Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. In a Weibo poll, 80 percent of respondents said they “could not accept” the invasive method.

Thanks to this dummy, you can get a look for yourself.

The healthcare worker dips the swab in a saline solution – standard practice for this methodology – and then inserts the cotton-end into the rectum. The swab is inserted an inch or so to get the best results, and then gives it a nice little twist for good measure before pulling out and putting it in a plastic sample tube.

The new testing guideline comes just over a year after the virus began spreading rapidly in the country.

It’s been more than a year since the virus started circulating widely in China. The country has seen ups and downs in its battle against the pandemic with the situation right now being among the worst.

However, officials are further worried about the upcoming Lunar New Year, often called the world’s largest annual migration. Some 3 billion trips are made over the holiday during a non-pandemic year, which means even a single silent coronavirus case could rapidly leapfrog across the nation.

For its part, China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people before the holiday period begins, but that’s only 4% of the population, far too low a rate to prevent mass transmission.

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