China’s state broadcaster CCTV attacked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent remarks on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, calling them “insane and evasive”.
Pompeo, speaking on Sunday, said “enormous evidence” showed the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, doubling down on previous claims from US officials and right-wing groups, which have been repeatedly denied by the World Health Organization (WHO) and various scientific experts.
The theory has been heavily pushed by the administration of President Donald Trump, who has been increasingly critical of China’s handling of the outbreak that first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, continuing to ratchet up a war of words between the two countries.
Last week, Trump said he saw evidence that gave him confidence the virus emerged from a lab in Wuhan, without offering support to his claim.
To date, the pandemic has killed about 250,000 people globally, while 3.6 million have been infected.
Titled “Evil Pompeo is wantonly spewing poison and spreading lies”, the harshly worded commentary on CCTV referred to statements by WHO Executive Director Mike Ryan and Columbia University virologist W Ian Lipkin, who has repeated that all indications are the virus is natural in origin and was not man-made or leaked from a laboratory.
“These flawed and unreasonable remarks by American politicians make it clear to more and more people that no ‘evidence’ exists,” the commentary said.
“The so-called ‘virus leaked from a Wuhan lab’ hype is a complete and utter lie. American politicians are rushing to shift the blame, cheat votes and suppress China when their own domestic anti-epidemic efforts are a mess,” it added.
Two further commentaries published on Monday by state newspaper People’s Daily attacked Pompeo and former White House strategist Steve Bannon as a “pair of lying clowns”, and blasted Bannon as a “Cold War living fossil”.
Bannon last week said on a US far-right talk show that China committed a “biological Chernobyl” against the United States and advocated the theory the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, echoing recent White House rhetoric.
The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said on Monday it has received no evidence from the US government to back up allegations by Trump and Pompeo that the coronavirus could have originated at a laboratory.
“From our perspective, this remains speculative,” Dr Ryan told reporters in Geneva. “We have not received any data or specific evidence from the US government relating to the purported origin of the virus.”
He said WHO would be “very willing” to receive any such information the United States has.
Coronavirus: Lessons from Asia
In his comments on Sunday, Pompeo said he agreed with a US intelligence agency report that said there was no indication the virus was “man-made or genetically modified”.
However, he said that did not mean the virus did not emerge from a lab, while calling early Chinese efforts to downplay coronavirus “a classic Communist disinformation effort. That created enormous risk.”
“I think the whole world can see now, remember, China has a history of infecting the world and running substandard laboratories,” he said.
Pompeo further pledged that the US would “hold those responsible accountable”.
In the past week, CCTV has repeatedly slammed Pompeo as the “common enemy of mankind” and accused him of “spreading a political virus” for his repeated claims that the pandemic originated in a lab.
In March, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian pushed the conspiracy theory that the US military may have brought the virus to China.
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Trump tweets threat to shutter social media companies after Twitter warning – CBC.ca
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies, one day after Twitter Inc. for the first time added a warning to some of his tweets prompting readers to fact-check the president’s claims.
Trump, without offering any evidence, reiterated his accusations of political bias by such technology platforms, tweeting: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
He added: “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
….happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!
Representatives for Twitter and Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment on Trump’s tweets. Shares of the companies were down in pre-market trading following his posts.
In the pair of early morning posts, the Republican president again blasted mail-in ballots as being rife with fraud — though there is no evidence that’s the case, and many Americans have used mail-in ballots in previous elections. Five states currently use only mail-in voting for all elections.
Trump posted similar tweets about the ballot topic on Tuesday, which had moved Twitter to add an alert, signified by a blue exclamation mark, below the tweets to warn his claims may be inaccurate or unsubstantiated, and direct readers to a page of news articles and information about the topic.
Twitter said it was the first time it had applied a fact-checking label to a tweet by the president, in an extension of its new “misleading information” policy, which was introduced earlier this month to combat misinformation about the coronavirus.
The dramatic shift by the tech company, which has tightened its policies in recent years amid criticism that its hands-off approach has allowed misinformation to thrive, had prompted Trump to accuse it of interfering in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
Social media isn't a one-size-fits-all marketplace. This training explains it all – The Next Web
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Torstar buyer says Canso picked to provide financing because of media experience – OrilliaMatters.Com
TORONTO — A private investment company that is a major backer of Postmedia Network Corp. has agreed to provide financing for NordStar Capital’s acquisition of Torstar Corp., the owner of the Toronto Star and other newspapers.
NordStar said in a statement it considered several sources of outside funding and chose Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. because of its experience in the Canadian media industry.
The statement also addressed long-standing speculation that there might be a move afoot to merge Torstar and Postmedia, which own two of the country’s biggest media businesses.
“The financing arrangements for the NordStar bid are not, in anyway whatsoever, connected directly or indirectly with any other media company.”
Canso didn’t immediately respond to a request for information about its involvement with the NordStar deal.
However, talk of an eventual deal to consolidate Canada’s newspaper industry was fuelled by the involvement of Canso — which provided $93.5 million after fees in September for a refinancing of Postmedia’s debt.
NordStar’s statement said it didn’t include Canso in the initial press release but “their participation would have been disclosed in due course as part of customary public fillings.”
NordStar is a new company formed by Toronto businessmen Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett, whose backgrounds are in corporate finance.
In order to buy Torstar, they required the support of five families that have controlled the company for decades — the Atkinsons, Hindmarshs, Campbells, Thalls and Honderichs.
The five stepped in to run the Star after founder Joseph Atkinson died in 1948, leaving the paper to a charitable foundation to be run by trustees.
In announcing the deal on Tuesday, Torstar chair John Honderich said it was “time to pass the torch.”
Unifor national president Jerry Dias says his big concern is that Canada could lose the Toronto Star’s voice for the progressive social issues if it’s combined with the company that owns the National Post, which has taken a more conservative stance.
“Let’s be candid, people are nervous with Canso being the money behind the National Post and now the Star. For us, the broader issue is how comfortable are we eliminating progressive voices in this country? That’s what the big issue is.”
Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with subsidiaries of the Globe and Mail and Montreal’s La Presse.
— with files from Tara Deschamps
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX:TS.B)
The Canadian Press
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