Threat of US ban surges after TikTok lambasted in Congress
A US ban of Chinese-owned TikTok, the country’s most popular social media for young people, seems increasingly inevitable a day after the brutal grilling of its chief executive officer by Washington lawmakers from across the political divide.
But the Biden administration will have to move carefully in denying 150 million young Americans their favourite platform over its links to China, especially after a previous effort by then president Donald Trump was struck down by a US court.
TikTok chief Chew Shou Zi endured a barrage of questions – and was often harshly cut off – by US lawmakers who made their belief quite clear that the app best known for sharing jokes and dance routines was a threat to US national security as well as being a danger to mental health.
In a tweet, TikTok executive Vanessa Pappas deplored a hearing “rooted in xenophobia”.
Russia presses along Ukraine front after slowdown reports
Russian forces attacked northern and southern stretches of the front in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on Friday, even as Kyiv said Moscow’s assault was flagging near the city of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian military reports described heavy fighting along a line running from Lyman to Kupyansk, as well as in the south at Avdiivka, on the outskirts of the Russian-held city of Donetsk.
Both areas have been major Russian targets in a winter campaign to fully capture Ukraine’s industrialised Donbas region.
Envoy makes rare prison visits to three US citizens in China
Chinese-American citizen Kai Li, jailed in China on spying charges he denies, received a rare in-person visit last week from the US Ambassador to Beijing and urged the US government to continue to work for his release, Li’s son said on Friday.
Over the course of the past month, US Ambassador Nicholas Burns had the first meetings in more than five years with at least three US citizens whom Washington says have been wrongfully detained, a senior US official and family members said.
Mr Burns met Li on March 16 in a Shanghai prison, Li’s son Harrison said. Li, a computer scientist, has been held in China since 2016 and was handed a 10-year jail sentence in 2018 for espionage.
Spain’s drought devastates olive oil output, world prices up
Drought in Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer, is likely to halve the country’s output this year compared with the previous year, official estimates from the European Commission show, pushing prices up.
Spain usually supplies about 40 per cent of the world’s output. However, heatwaves when the olive trees were flowering last spring and a severe drought since last summer in Spain and in number two and four producers Italy and Portugal have shrunk stocks.
Only the EU’s third biggest largest producer, Greece, which was not hit by the weather conditions, was expecting production to improve, though not enough to offset the decline in Spain.
Bayern Munich fire Nagelsmann, make Tuchel new coach
Bayern Munich announced on Friday they had appointed former Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel as their new boss after firing Julian Nagelsmann.
The reigning German champions said in a statement: “FC Bayern and head coach Julian Nagelsmann have parted company... Nagelsmann will be succeeded by Thomas Tuchel.”
Nagelsmann, 35, led Bayern to the quarter-finals of the Champions League where they will face Premier League champions Manchester City next month.