“Investigative journalists have tried hard to find evidence that TikTok is leaking data to Chinese authorities, but to no avail.
“I haven’t found any evidence” of “the company handing over data to Chinese authorities, or security risks associated with its connection to the Chinese state,” writes Chris Stokel-Walker—who has done ample critical reporting about the company—at Buzzfeed this week:
I’ve been trying for years to find any links to the Chinese state. I’ve spoken to scores of TikTok employees, past and present, in pursuit of such a connection. But I haven’t discovered it….””
“TikTok adamantly denies allegations about data sharing with the Chinese government. “TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government,” said its CEO in prepared testimony released ahead of today’s House hearing. “Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made.”
“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” the testimony continues. “Bans are only appropriate when there are no alternatives. But we do have an alternative.”
The company has been cooperating with U.S. regulators to develop protocols around user data that will help mollify security and privacy concerns. “TikTok has formed a special-purpose subsidiary, TikTok U.S. Data Security (USDS), that currently has nearly 1,500 full-time employees and contracted with Oracle to store TikTok’s U.S. user data,” notes Reuters. According to Chew’s testimony, “Oracle has already begun inspecting TikTok’s source code and will have unprecedented access to the related algorithms and data models.””
“The U.S. Department of Energy has concluded that the most likely origin of COVID-19 is a lab leak.
The federal agency reviewed new intelligence, which prompted officials to revise their position that it’s unclear how the virus emerged. The White House and certain members of Congress also reviewed the intelligence, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Energy Department’s conclusion is made with “low confidence,” according to The New York Times, which was quick to point out that “U.S. spy agencies remain divided over the origins of the virus.” The FBI previously concluded with “moderate confidence” that intelligence pointed to a lab leak origin; other agencies have been skeptical or undecided.
The shifting consensus on this issue should be a cautionary tale for all the would-be censors who thunderously objected to such talk. In the first year of the pandemic, the idea that COVID-19 might have emerged from a coronavirus research facility in Wuhan, China, was widely branded a racist conspiracy theory. Social media companies such as Facebook vigorously suppressed discussion of the lab leak thesis, partly because U.S. health officials and mainstream news outlets expressed absolute confidence that COVID-19 emerged as a result of zoonotic spillover.”
“Health officials and intelligence experts may not have enough information to conclusively determine COVID-19’s origins. But the push to not merely decry the lab leak theory but to actively prohibit discussion of it—as was the case on Facebook—has not aged well.”
“Said to be around the size of three buses, the balloon flew over Canada and Alaska’s Aleutian Islands before being spotted in the continental United States. It then made its way eastward, being spotted across the country before it was shot down on the East Coast on Saturday afternoon.”
“When the Trump administration implemented tariffs on Chinese chemical companies in 2018, administration officials said tariffs would make American chemical companies more competitive. But industry groups told regulators last week that it’s had the opposite effect.
At a Thursday hearing on the impact of the Trump administration’s tariffs against China, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry group representing over 190 U.S. chemical companies, informed the International Trade Commission that imports of Chinese chemical products have instead grown continuously since the tariffs took effect in June 2018. Over $35 billion worth of chemicals were imported from China in 2021, and Chinese companies now make up a larger share of U.S. chemical imports than they did when former President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
Per the ACC, the Trump administration failed to account for American manufacturers’ reliance on intermediate products exclusively produced in China. “China is the primary source of many valuable inputs to U.S. chemical manufacturing processes, and for which few or no alternatives exist,” an ACC representative said. “It would take years, and billions of dollars, to build manufacturing capabilities for these inputs in the United States or other countries.”
Dyes stand out as some of the most notable examples of vital Chinese imports impacted by chemical tariffs. For U.S. manufacturers to produce Red 57, a red pigment commonly found in many cosmetic products, they must import 3-hydroxy-2-naphthoic acid, also known as BONA, from China. BONA is exclusively produced in China, forcing American manufacturers to bear the higher costs associated with importing these critical Chinese-made inputs for their final products.”
“Despite the attention given to the industry by the federal government in recent years, chemical companies are warning that tariffs are hurting their ability to invest new capital in their supply chains and innovate on issues like climate change. They also worry that it will slow job growth and hinder the Biden administration’s broader efforts toward restoring resilience in the supply chain while only contributing to higher costs for consumers.
“[T]ariffs are clearly not working for the chemicals and plastics sector,” the ACC said in their testimony. “[They] are making the United States a less attractive place for jobs, innovation, and plant expansion.””
“Lou’s failure to send for his son was caused not by deadbeat-dad indifference but the vagaries of the viciously racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the only immigration law in American history to target a particular ethnicity by name. The Exclusion Act made it nearly impossible for Chinese workers to bring their wives and kids to America. Charles Chiu became eligible to emigrate to the United States only with his father’s death.
And the absence of his family had left terrible scars on Lou. In a letter to one of his American friends who had been drafted during World War II, Lou noted that the man’s kids were doing fine and added: “As you know, I always love children … It’s really too bad that I can’t have my kids with me, I’d be willing to give everything that I got and plus 20 years of my life to have them with me now.””
“By now, the early history of Covid-19 is well known, if not clear in its details. The virus was first detected somewhere around Wuhan, in Hubei province, then appears to have entered the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, from where it infected many others. Doctors in Wuhan first noticed the novel coronavirus in December and began exchanging urgent warnings. Local government authorities set out to silence them; some were detained and made to sign documents admitting wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Wuhan officials went about business as usual, which included a disastrous Lunar New Year banquet attended by about 40,000 families. Soon, many more thousands around Wuhan were infected, with hundreds dead or dying, including ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who had been punished for trying to raise the alarm.
Realizing it was in the firing line not just for running the nation that had unleashed the deadly virus on the world but also for ignoring, covering up and denying its spread, China’s Communist Party moved into damage-control mode. This included suggesting it was the United States that was responsible for the virus.
Chinese state media regularly tweet propaganda”