Govt directs internet cos to block Chinese apps

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NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday directed all internet service providers to block 59 Chinese mobile apps under emergency clause of the IT Act, according to sources.
The order has been issued in two sets — the first set contains list of 35 apps and the other 24 apps based out of China, the sources said.
“Order to block all 59 Chinese apps to internet service providers have been issued now,” a telecom ministry source told PTI.
The list has same set of apps as was announced by the government on Monday. It includes name of TikTok, UC News, UC Browser, Viva Video, Mi Video Call, Bigo Live, Wechat etc.
“The government has issued web link along with IP addresses which will make Internet service providers to easily block the access to Chinese apps,” an industry source said.
“The Ministry of Electronics and & Information Technology has issued directions for blocking 24 apps under the emergency clause 69A of the IT Act 2000, in addition to 35 apps for whose blocking instructions have been issued earlier today itself,” a DoT order to internet companies said.
India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

US declares Huawei, ZTE national security threats

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally designated Chinese’s Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp as posing threats to US national security, a declaration that bars US firms from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies.
The US telecommunications regulator voted on November 5 to issue the declaration and proposed requiring rural carriers to remove and replace equipment from the two Chinese companies from existing US networks.

“We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Tuesday.
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment but have previously sharply criticized the FCC’s actions.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said on Tuesday that “untrustworthy equipment” remains in place in US networks and said the US Congress must allocate funding for replacements.
In May 2019, Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk. The Trump administration also added Huawei to its trade blacklist last year.
The FCC has taken an increasingly hard line against Chinese firms.
In April, the FCC said it may shut down US operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies
The FCC required China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks Corp and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet (USA) LLC to explain why it should not start the process of revoking authorisations enabling their US operations.
The FCC granted its approvals to the firms more than a decade ago.
In May 2019, the FCC voted to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide US services, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the company to conduct espionage against the US government.

App ban threatens China’s rise as tech power

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China over the past decade built an alternate online reality where Google and Facebook barely exist. Now its own largest tech corporations from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent Holdings Ltd. are getting a taste of what a shutout feels like.
India’s unprecedented decision to ban 59 of China’s largest apps is a warning to the country’s tech giants, who for years thrived behind a government-imposed Great Firewall that kept out many of America’s best-known internet names. If India finds a way to carry out that threat, it may present a model for other countries from Europe to Southeast Asia that seek to curtail the pervasiveness of apps like ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok while safeguarding their citizens’ enormously valuable data.
The surprise moratorium hit Chinese internet companies just as they were beginning to make headway in the world’s fastest-growing mobile arena, en route to going global and challenging American tech industry supremacy. TikTok had signed up 200 million users there, Xiaomi Corp. is the No. 1 smartphone brand, and Alibaba and Tencent have aggressively pushed their services.
But India’s policy jeopardizes all those successes, and could have wider geopolitical consequences as the US seeks to rally countries to stop using Huawei Technologies Co. for 5G networks. With China’s tech companies poised to become some of the most dominant in emerging industries like artificial intelligence, India’s actions may spur countries around the world to weigh the extent to which they let China gain user data — and potentially economic leverage in future disputes.
“Techno-nationalism will manifest itself increasingly across all aspects of geopolitics: national security, economic competitiveness, even social values,” said Alex Capri, a Singapore-based research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation. “It will be increasingly difficult to separate Chinese tech firms from the CCP and China’s geopolitical ambitions. They will find themselves increasingly locked out.”
Chinese internet firms have struggled to replicate their online services beyond their home turf, even before Washington lawmakers began raising concerns about the wisdom of allowing the Asian country’s corporations — like ByteDance — to hoover up valuable personal data. India amplified those concerns by accusing apps including TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat, Alibaba’s UC Web and Baidu Inc.’s map and translation services of threatening its sovereignty and security.
India’s prohibition provides further evidence that nations are using tech for to assert themselves geopolitically, following the Trump administration’s worldwide campaign to contain China and national champions like Huawei. That depends in part on how much Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s actions are motivated by domestic interests following the worst military clash between India and China in almost half a century.
“Beijing should certainly worry that the impact of the deadly clash could push India toward the US,” said Zhang Baohui, director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University. “But these recent economic measures by India may not by themselves concern Beijing too much as it understands that Modi’s government, facing rising domestic nationalism, has to do something to soothe the public sentiments and retain legitimacy.”
It remains unclear how India will enforce its decision, given TikTok — for one — has already been downloaded by roughly one in six people. But it follows a series of steps to curb China’s presence in the country, demonstrating the administration’s hardened resolve since long-simmering tensions boiled over after a deadly Himalayan border clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers.
The country’s government procurement website has barred purchases of Chinese-made goods. Authorities have asked the largest e-commerce companies, including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart, to start showing “country of origin” on goods sold. And India is said to be dragging its heels on clearing goods imported from China, stranding electronics at ports.
“The Indian government thinks about governing the internet in a very similar way to China, which is blanket bans, asserting national boundaries on the internet and essentially carving out what would eventually become a version of the Indian Great Firewall,” said Dev Lewis, a research fellow at Digital Asia Hub in Shanghai. “Everyone’s struggling to deal with governing technology companies and apps, especially ones that cross borders. So when India takes a step like this, it sets a precedent for the things that you can do.”
In terms of the immediate business consequences, ByteDance could be hardest-hit. India is its biggest market with more than 200 million TikTok users. During a brief ban last year, the Chinese company estimated it was missing out on half a million dollars a day of revenue. In a statement posted to Twitter, TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi said the company complies with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any user information with any foreign government, including Beijing.
India’s prohibition could also give American companies a possible edge over Chinese players in a rare global tech market that is both populous and not yet saturated. While WeChat never made it big in India, banning it may help shore up Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp. Cutting out TikTok immediately gives Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube a boost.
On Tuesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was “strongly concerned” about India’s actions. “The Indian government has a responsibility to uphold the legitimate and legal rights of the international investors including Chinese ones,” he said.
But for now, China doesn’t have many great options to retaliate.
“While Beijing is highly adept at economic coercion, in this case it has somewhat limited options to act in a reciprocal manner,” analysts for the Eurasia Group wrote in a research note. “Bilateral trade is heavily weighted toward Chinese exports to India. Attempts to hurt India economically could blowback on Chinese companies.”

Many H-1B workers stuck in India after Trump’s order

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NEW DELHI: Natasha Bhat learned in late February that her father-in-law had suddenly died. Bhat, 35, recently recalled how she grabbed a backpack and hustled her US-born 4-year-old son to the San Francisco airport to catch a midnight flight to India, her home country. She didn’t anticipate being stuck there indefinitely.
Bhat works at a tech company in Silicon Valley on an H-1B visa, and her documents were due for renewal. So she threw them in the bag, knowing she’d have to get the chore taken care of before flying back to the US in a few weeks. But she said her mid-March appointment at the US consulate in Kolkata was canceled when it shut down due to Covid-19 concerns. Her return home was delayed further when President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week barring many people on several types of visas, including H-1Bs, from entering the country until 2021.
Trump’s executive order is the latest step in his years-long tightening of US immigration policy. The president has argued since taking office the visa programs allow employers to undercut native-born workers on wages, over the objections of companies that say they need highly skilled workers to fill crucial job openings. The latest restrictions, said Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer in Memphis, “use the pandemic as an excuse to achieve anti-immigration goals the administration has wanted to do for years.”
H-1B holders, about three-quarters of whom work in the tech sector, have felt a creeping sense of unease since Trump took office. Still, thousands of them continued to fly back and forth between the US and their home countries, for weddings or funerals—or for work assignments or to get mundane paperwork taken care of. (Some visas require people to leave the country briefly after approval to get their passports stamped.) Many of those who left the US this spring, as Bhat did, found the world as they knew it changed mid-trip.
About 375,000 temporary visaholders and green card applicants will now be banned from entering the US until next year, according to Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan research group. A significant number of those are now stuck in India, which has long had a close connection to Silicon Valley. The technology industry has consistently objected to the administration’s immigration restrictions, and Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc immediately condemned the latest executive order, along with trade groups representing hundreds of other technology firms.
The objections haven’t spared people like Bhat and her husband, who have worked in Silicon Valley for the last nine years, she as a manager for a software firm and he as an engineer at a bank. Her husband flew back to the US in early March for work and has spent the past four months of lockdown alone. Bhat is now working overnight to support her US-based clients, and trying to convince their son Adhrit to eat Indian food like chapati for breakfast over his complaints that he misses his standard Californian breakfast of avocado toast.
The prospect of a wave of people stranded abroad began worrying Siskind several weeks ago when he first caught wind of the planned order. On Twitter, he warned workers on non-immigrant visas not to leave the US. He urged those abroad to come back as soon as possible.
Once the order took effect, Siskind set up an online form for people to share their stories, and asked his followers on social media to fill it out. Within 24 hours, he had over 500 responses. There was the scientist researching coronavirus-testing products who flew to India to get married, the Atlanta-based IT consultant who may miss the birth of his child, the 2-year-old girl who was born in the US and has developed severe allergic skin reactions to mosquito bites in India, the Intel Corp employee who is now running critical projects from afar.
Siskind fielded calls from husbands separated from wives, parents from children. People told him they were worried about keeping up with mortgage payments on houses, car loans and jobs. Some had US-born children who are American citizens enrolled in US schools. Many have valid visas and assumed all they would need to get back in the country was a routine stamp in their passport.
Narendra Singh, an Indian-born software architect who has lived in Dallas for nine years, took his family back to Kolkata in February. Their return was delayed when the consulates closed and they were advised to wait out the worst of the pandemic. Now Singh is working remotely. His wife, a software engineer, lost her job in April. Their daughter, a US citizen, was slated to start preschool in the fall, but they’ve been preparing her for the possibility that won’t happen. Singh, 36, said he knew there was always a chance of his visa not being extended, but assumed he was secure until his current visa was set to expire in 2022. “We took specialized jobs, we followed the rules, we got the visas,” he said. “I just feel betrayed.”
Mili Widhani Khatter, 39, who has lived in the US with her husband and two US-born children for the past 12 years, flew back to Delhi, India, without her family to say goodbye to her dying mother. She hasn’t seen her children in nearly four months, and said her 2-year-old son has forgotten how to say “mama” since they’ve been apart. “This is the worst punishment you can give to a mom,” Khatter said. “It’s not humane.”
Now families worry what another six months of uncertainty will do to their kids—and to the futures they thought they were charting. “I have a valid visa. I’ve been living in the Bay Area for eight years. I have a life there and a home there, and my husband is there,” Bhat said. “Will I ever be able to go back?”

Fitch cuts India growth projection to 8% for FY22

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NEW DELHI: Fitch Ratings on Tuesday cut India’s growth forecast for 2021-22 fiscal to 8 per cent from 9.5 per cent projected last month.
It, however, retained its projection of Indian economy contracting by 5 per cent in the current fiscal.
Indian economic growth stood at an estimated 4.2 per cent in 2019-20.
In its June update of Global Economic Outlook, Fitch projected Indian economy to grow 5.5 per cent in 2022-23.
“In India, where authorities imposed one of the most stringent lockdowns globally to try to halt the spread of the virus, measures are being relaxed only very gradually; with a limited policy easing response and ongoing financial sector fragilities, we have pared our 2021 forecast to 8 per cent from 9.5 per cent in the previous GEO,” Fitch said.
In May update to the oulook, Fitch had projected 9.5 per cent growth in 2021-22.
S&P has forecast a 5 per cent contraction in the fiscal year starting April, and the growth to recover to 8.5 per cent next fiscal.
Moody’s expects India’s real GDP to contract by 4 per cent in fiscal 2020 due to the shock from the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown measures, followed by 8.7 per cent growth in fiscal 2021 and closer to 6 per cent thereafter.

Eight core industries’ output contracts 23.4% in May

NEW DELHI: The output of eight core infrastructure industries shrank by 23.4 per cent in May due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, according to the official data.
The eight core sectors had expanded by 3.8 per cent in May 2019, the data released by the commerce and industry ministry on Tuesday showed.
Barring fertiliser, all seven sectors – coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, steel, cement, and electricity – had recorded negative growth in May.
During April-May 2020-21, the sectors output dipped by 30 per cent as compared to 4.5 per cent in the same period previous year.
“In view of nationwide lockdown during April and May 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, various industries – Coal, Cement, Steel, Natural Gas, Refinery, Crude Oil etc experienced substantial loss of production,” the ministry said in a statement.
These eight industries accounts for 40.27 per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
In Video:Eight core industries’ output contracts 23.4% in May

Govt working on ‘one nation, one ration card’: PM

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the government is working on ‘one nation, one ration card’ which will benefit the migrant workers.
“The country is moving towards the institution of ‘one nation, one ration card’, which will be of immense benefit to the poor who travel to other states in search of work,” PM said in a televised address to the nation.
While announcing the government’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic package last month, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that public distribution system (PDS) ration cards will be made portable to allow migrant workers to use these cards across states.
The implementation of one nation, one ration card will enable migrants to use their ration cards at any free price shop across the country to obtain foodgrains.
As part of Modi’s technology driven system reforms, the government aims to achieve 100 per cent potability of these cards by March 2021, Sitharaman had said.
The Prime Minister also asserted the nation that the government will continue to take further steps to empower the poor and the needy. He reiterated the pledge to work towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ and said that economic activities will be enhanced, with due precautions in place.

80 cr people to get free foodgrains for 5 more months

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), a free ration scheme, for 80 crore people across the country for five more months till the end of November. The scheme was initially rolled out for three months.
Under the scheme, 5 kgs of wheat or rice and 1 kg of pulses per month will be given free of cost to the poor.
In his televised address, PM emphasized that provision of food to those in need during lockdown has been the foremost priority of the government. Hence, PM Garib Kalyan Yojana with package of Rs 1.75 lakh crore was rolled out as soon as the country went into lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Government has transferred Rs 31,000 crore to 20 crore poor families under direct benefit transfer and Rs 18,000 crore has been given to nine crore farmers.
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Modi also noted that the number of people who were provided free ration under the scheme is several times the population of many large nations. Further, the upcoming rainy season followed by back to back festivals would lead to an increase in expenditure by the households. Hence, the scheme was extended for a further period of five months.
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“Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja till the November end,” Modi said on the eve of the start of ‘Unlock-2’ for a graded exit from the national lockdown that was imposed on March 25.
The extension of the scheme will cost more than Rs 90,000 crore to the government. In total, the Centre will spend almost Rs 1.5 lakh crore towards the scheme if the last three months expenditure on account of the free ration scheme is also added.
The Union government, he added, is also spending Rs 50,000 crore for providing employment to people in rural India.
Modi also applauded the hard-working farmers and honest tax payers for making it possible for the government to procure and distribute free foodgrains.
“On behalf of all the poor of the country, I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the taxpayers and farmers, and also salute them. In the coming days, we will further strengthen our efforts and continuously work to empower the poor, downtrodden and deprived sections of society. While taking all the precautions, we will further expand the economic activities,” Modi said.
He further said that timely lockdown to contain coronavirus and other decisions saved many lives, but added that since “Unlock 1” has begun, people have shown negligence.
He said in comparison to other countries across the globe, India has done well in dealing with the pandemic.
(With PTI inputs)
In Video:PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana extended till November: PM Narendra Modi

Amazon announces plans for 2nd Ottawa fulfillment centre in 2021

Amazon announced plans Tuesday for a second distribution centre in Ottawa, this one purporting to bring 1,000 jobs to Barrhaven.

The new 450,000-square-foot facility is slated for the Citigate business park in Ottawa’s south end. The warehouse would sit behind the plaza’s Costco, backing onto Highway 416 in the west and Fallowfield Road to the north.

Amazon said in a statement the site is expected to mostly handle smaller goods such as books, electronics and toys. The e-commerce giant bills the new Ottawa warehouse as its newest “robotics fulfilment centre,” with employees and robotics working side-by-side to fill orders.

Ottawa amazon site
The proposed site of a 2.7-million-square-foot warehouse in Barrhaven, at least a part of which will be occupied by Amazon. via City of Ottawa development application

The new development plan comes less than a year after work wrapped up on Amazon’s one-million-square-foot project on Boundary Road, just off Highway 417 in Ottawa East. That warehouse was expected to bring 600 jobs to Ottawa.

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Amazon’s new fulfilment centre appears to be part of a much larger proposal for the site that would see a 30-metre-tall, 2.7-million-square-foot facility built.

The full facility would feature more than 2,000 parking spaces and 50 loading bays, with potential for an additional office tower in future phases of the project.

According to federal incorporation records, members of the Montreal-based Broccolini family — the developers behind both Amazon’s planned warehouse and its existing Boundary Road facility — are also behind the full 2.7-million-square-foot project, dubbed “Python.”

Documents submitted to the city for the Python proposal state it is anticipated to be completed in a single phase with full occupancy by 2021.

Amazon employee says some workers not told about workplace COVID-19 case

Amazon employee says some workers not told about workplace COVID-19 case

The entire industrial complex would have capacity for 1,040 employees during peak seasons, according to development plans.

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It was not immediately clear whether Amazon plans to lease only a portion of the development to start or eventually look to lease the full 2.7 million square feet.

Amazon did not return requests for comment and Broccolini’s spokesperson did not respond to provide clarification on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a traffic analysis submitted to the city, peak traffic for the project is expected between October and January — the busy holiday shopping season — with most shipping activity between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. During this time, traffic volumes are expected to hit peaks of 30 to 46 trucks per hour.

The report said a “majority” of traffic generated by the development will arrive and depart the area via Fallowfield Road, Strandherd Drive and Highway 416.

Read more: Amazon warehouse on Boundary Road evacuated due to carbon monoxide

Nearby arterial roads such as Hélène Campbell Road, Maravista Drive and Kennevale Drive are not anticipated to see “significant” traffic impacts as a result of the project, according to the developer’s report.

Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement Tuesday that he was “pleased that Amazon has once again chosen to invest in Ottawa.”

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder said in her statement the new facility would help to “diversify” the employment base in the Ottawa suburb.

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The new project would mark Amazon’s eighth facility in Ontario and its 14th across Canada.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tours fulfillment center, Whole Foods Market store on Wednesday

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tours fulfillment center, Whole Foods Market store on Wednesday


© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada’s GDP shrank by 11.6% in April — worst monthly drop on record

Statistics Canada says the economy saw its largest monthly drop on record in April as it came to a near standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, but early indications point to a rebound in May as businesses began to reopen.

READ MORE: A looming coronavirus debt crisis could swamp Canadian households

The agency says gross domestic product fell 11.6 per cent in April with non-essential businesses shut for the full month following a 7.5 per cent decline in March.

CANADA'S MONTHLY CHANGE IN GDP

However, Statistics Canada says its initial flash estimate for May points to growth of three per cent, which will be revised and finalized at the end of July.

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Economists on average expected a drop of 13 per cent for April, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

READ MORE: Welcome to the ‘she-session.’ Why this recession is different

Manufacturing was down 22.5 per cent in April as many factories either shuttered or greatly reduced capacity in line with public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The output of the accommodation and food services sector dropped 42.4 per cent in April, as customers replaced eating out with staying in, hitting a sector that saw a 37.1 per cent decline in March.


© 2020 The Canadian Press