News Burst 7 June 2020
- Facebook’s decision to “warn” users about state-controlled media is an outdated propaganda trick, say international observers, asking whether US news outlets are independent and from whom. Facebook has announced that it will start labelling Russia Today, Sputnik, Iran’s Press TV, China’s Xinhua News and other government-funded news outlets as “state media” and will block any ads from them that target US users later this summer. Facebook’s new rules do not, however, apply to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), whose board is largely appointed by the commonwealth’s monarch, as well as any media outlets in the US – irrespective of their funding – since the social media platform sees the editorial policies of the above mentioned media outlets as “independent”. Facebook’s decision is “primarily as a propaganda exercise”, says British political analyst Marcus Godwyn, adding that one of the goals of the tech giant’s initiative is to evoke memories of the 20th century Cold War era. In those times, “state-controlled” societies were portrayed in Western countries as antagonists of “free democracies”, so the use of the word “state” by Facebook can be seen as a smear tactic and a propaganda trick, he suggests.
- Research firm Inchcape Shipping Services is reporting that the path to recovery for world trade will not resemble a classic “V” and be much slower than previously thought. Inchcape’s chief commercial officer Christopher Crookall said: “There’s going to be a much slower recovery than has previously been envisaged because demand won’t rebound instantly,” said Crookall. Crookall said the supply-side story in Asia has yet to be revived because the demand story in Europe and North America is offline. Without Western demand, reviving Asian factories will not be possible; thus, world trade won’t rebound.
- India: The Himachal Pradesh Police Saturday arrested a person in connection with the injury to a pregnant cow, which ate wheat flour mixed with explosive substances near a farm field in Bilaspur district late last month. The incident triggered an outrage on social media Saturday after a video posted by the owner of the cow, which showed the injured animal, went viral. A similar incident in Kerala which recently led to the death of a pregnant elephant has been widely condemned across the nation. “The cow is believed to have strayed towards the neighbour’s fields in an area covered with bushes and shrubs, where someone had placed some wheat flour mixed with explosive substances,” said an official. The cow consumed the mixture, leading to an explosion, which caused severe injuries to her jaw and other parts of the mouth.
- Facebook’s $550 million settlement agreement over alleged biometric data privacy violations is in doubt, after a federal judge refused to sign off on the deal, Courthouse News Service reports. The three consolidated class actions alleging Facebook’s biometric photo-tagging feature violates Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) were tentatively settled early this year, but U.S. District Court Judge James Donato immediately questioned its adequacy. “The Illinois Legislature said this is meant to be an expensive violation,” U.S. District Judge James Donato told litigants in a preliminary settlement approval hearing. While maximum damages of $5,000 are only allowable in cases of intentional or reckless BIPA violations, Donato notes that the $5 billion fine levied by the FTC last year related to deceptive practices around privacy could support the argument that intentional and reckless is precisely the nature of Facebook’s actions, as they may constitute a violation of the FTC consent decree.
- Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, head of investment for the Vatican Secretariat of State,and Fabrizio Tirabassi, heads of the administrative office of the Vatican Secretariat of State, are being investigated by embezzlement in competition with Gian Luigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione in relation to the investment of 454 million euros deriving – according to Vatican investigators – from the donations of the ‘Obolo di San Pietro, in the availability of the Secretariat of State and owned by the latter with the aim of supporting the activities for religious and charitable purposes. The statement said the warrant was signed by the Promoter of Justice, Professor Gian Piero Milano, and “was issued in relation to the well-known events connected with the sale of the London property on Sloane Avenue [No 60], which involved a network of companies in which some officials of the Secretariat of State were present.” Gian Luigi Torzi is detained in special premises at the Gendarmerie Corps Barracks. Torzi is being charged by Vatican prosecutors with several counts of “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering,” the Holy See said, noting that the crimes Vatican Law provides for sentences of up to twelve years imprisonment for such crimes. [Why does the Vatican use the money destined for the poor for real estate speculation?]
- Finland’s Minister Of Finance Katri Kulmuni resigned from her post on Friday evening as a result of widespread outrage over the revelation that she spent close to €50,000 of taxpayer money on speech training lessons from a private consultancy firm. In addition to the money spent from the public purse on Kulmuni’s private lessons, there have also been concerns over the content of the lessons. Kulmuni apologized for rehearsing a party conference speech with the consultants, which she acknowledged had little to do with her ministerial duties that were being covered by the taxpayer. Kulmuni has said that she plans to repay the full amount out of her own money. Typically, services such as speech training are paid for by the political party, or by the politician themself. PM Sanna Marin acknowledged that she had received Kumuni’s resignation and thanked her for her service. She also emphasized that the decision does not in any way impact ongoing cooperation with the Centre Party, of which Kulmuni remains the leader of.
- The Chinese Embassy in Cambodia announced on its Facebook page on Thursday that Chinese and Cambodian officials are scheduled to sign an agreement on June 9 permitting the Kingdom to export 500,000 tonnes of mangoes per year to China. The meeting will be held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Mangoes will become the second agricultural product given the green light for export to China after yellow bananas were approved in April of last year. The opening of the Chinese market is expected to further promote the development of agricultural products in Cambodia, and insiders said receiving large import orders from China will be a great boon for the Kingdom’s economy.
- The U.S. military says it has launched its first air strikes against the Taliban since a cease-fire declared by the militants and Afghan forces last month. The two sets of air strikes took place on June 4-5 in two different Afghan provinces, military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said. Elsewhere, 10 Afghan security forces members were reported killed on June 5 in an attack blamed on the Taliban.The militant group announced a three-day cease-fire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26 to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. There has since been an overall drop in violence across the country, with Kabul saying it is ready to start long-delayed peace negotiations with the insurgents. Washington signed a deal with the Taliban in February, in which it pledged to withdraw all U.S. troops in return for security guarantees in a bid to pave the way for talks between warring Afghan sides. Leggett said in a tweet that a U.S. air strike was carried out against 25 armed Taliban fighters “executing a coordinated attack” on an Afghan force checkpoint in the western province of Farah. Another strike was conducted on an unknown number of Taliban fighters attacking a checkpoint in the southern Kandahar Province, the spokesman said.
- India and China agreed on Friday to resolve a dispute over their shared border in the Ladakh region through diplomatic channels, the Indian foreign affairs ministry said in a statement. The statement came a day before top generals of the two countries are due to meet near the site of their border standoff to try and find a way to de-escalate the situation. Indian officials said both sides would first focus on getting both the Indian army and the People’s Liberation Army to pull back additional troops and equipment deployed in the area.
This weekend, the biggest sunspot of new Solar Cycle 25 (so far) is turning toward Earth. We know AR2567 is a member of Solar Cycle 25 because of its magnetic polarity. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. The sun is still in the pits of a century-class Solar Minimum. The appearance of AR2567 suggests that it won’t last forever. Solar Cycle 25 has been showing signs of life all year long, with 82% of all sunspots in 2020 having the magnetic polarity of the new cycle. What’s next? Solar flares?
Tropical Storm Cristobal – Gentral Gulf of Mexico wind 40/50 kts 997 hPa moving N 12 kts weakening.
Strongest EQ in Europe M4.4 Norway
Strongest EQ in North America M4.1 Nevada
Strongest EQ on the Planet M5.7 Fiji
Deepest EQ M5.0 576 km Tonga News Burst 7 June 2020