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Keep dancing: US judge extends TikTok deadline amid Trump battle – Aljazeera.com

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ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese owner of TikTok Inc., has a new December deadline to submit documents as part of its court petition seeking to block a U.S.-government-forced sale of the video-sharing app.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Thursday set dates of Dec. 14 and 28 for ByteDance and the Trump administration to file motions and other documents in the case.

ByteDance was facing a deadline on Thursday to comply with an order from President Donald Trump to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations. While the company had received tacit approval from the Trump administration about two months ago on an agreement to divest part of TikTok to Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc., the deal was never finalized. It’s been stuck in limbo for weeks, and was quickly overshadowed by the U.S. election. The delay prompted TikTok to go to the appeals court on Tuesday to prevent a forced sale.

Trump’s order requiring a sale by Nov. 12 allows for a 30-day extension of the deadline but the new dates go past that period. The Commerce Department said on Thursday it won’t enforce its order to shut down TikTok if a sale wasn’t reached by the deadline, citing a federal court ruling in Pennsylvania last month, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lawyers for TikTok and officials at the Treasury Department, which is overseeing the sale, and the Commerce Department didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Trump has made the fight over TikTok a central front in a broader trade war with China, in particular an effort to crack down on the growing influence of China’s technology industry in the U.S. Trump first ordered a TikTok sale in August, and threatened to ban the app if ByteDance couldn’t reach an agreement with an American company. That proposed ban has since been delayed twice — most recently on Oct. 30, when a Pennsylvania judge issued a temporary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of TikTok users who make their living via the app.

TikTok is one of the most popular apps in the world — with more than 100 million U.S. users — and is also ByteDance’s most important service outside of China. The company and its investors are desperate to finish a deal to avoid a ban in what has been a valuable market for other social media apps, like Facebook Inc.’s Instagram and Snap Inc.’s Snapchat.

The way the original order was worded appears to require a divestment from ByteDance to be in place by the deadline — not just an agreement. If the government does reach an accord with the company, it could exercise discretion around enforcement timing, said Aimen Mir, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and a former deputy assistant secretary for investment security at Treasury, where he ran reviews for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

“Usually when there is extended silence from Cfius, it suggests there’s no clear consensus within government on what the next step would be, but this has been an atypical case for awhile,” Mir said.

If an extension hasn’t already been granted, Mir said the Justice Department would have to go to court and seek enforcement of the divestiture order.

Trump’s executive order from August doesn’t stipulate a clear punishment for failure to divest, but says that “the Attorney General is authorized to take any steps necessary to enforce this order.”

“There could be fines, or it could be as draconian as a ban if the administration wanted to go that far,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “But the government still has until midnight on Nov. 12 to issue an extension, which is a plausible scenario.”

This sale process was originally brought about because of national security concerns. The U.S. government is worried about ByteDance’s access to the personal data of U.S. citizens.

Cifius, the Treasury Department panel that reviews foreign acquisitions of American businesses, said in a July 30 letter included in ByteDance’s court filing that its security concerns were based on both classified and unclassified information. The letter cited the move by a ByteDance Chinese affiliate in 2017 to establish a Communist Party Committee in its governance structure, and pointed out that ByteDance also collaborates with public security bureaus across China.

“The Treasury Department remains focused on reaching a resolution of the national security risks arising from ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly,” a Treasury spokeswoman said in a statement, referring to the 2017 purchase of an app that ByteDance merged with TikTok. “We have been clear with ByteDance regarding the steps necessary to achieve that resolution.” The Justice Department declined to comment.

Trump’s order requiring the sale of TikTok underscored the aggressive stance his administration has taken toward Chinese investment in the U.S. Only seven foreign acquisitions of American companies have been blocked or unwound by U.S. presidents since 1990, and Trump is responsible for four of them.

Now, the TikTok deal, once a priority for the administration, has in recent weeks taken on less urgency as Trump turned his focus to his bid for re-election and, since last week, challenging the outcome of the Nov. 3 vote.

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Bank of Canada deputy downplays risks of consumer default wave – BNN

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The massive policy response from the Bank of Canada and the federal government successfully prevented the country’s financial system from buckling, though vigilance is still needed, according to a top central banker.

Signs of overwhelming financial strain are few, and the risk of a wave of consumer defaults seems low, Deputy Governor Toni Gravelle said in remarks via video conference to the Autorite des marches financiers. Almost all of the households with expired debt deferrals have resumed repayments, and government measures are helping businesses in many sectors manage cash flows, he said.

“We have long warned that a recession could create broad stress across the financial system,” Gravelle said in a semi-annual update on vulnerabilities in the financial system. “Yet, despite the devastating economic impact of the pandemic, this risk has not — as of yet — materialized.”

The speech paints a reassuring picture of Canadian consumers and companies emerging from the unprecedented shock in decent shape, in spite of elevated debt levels. It also casts the central bank’s own response as largely successful in averting the worst effects of the crisis, though Gravelle said the pandemic remains a source of “considerable financial system risk.”

The deputy governor downplayed signs of overheating in the nation’s housing market, hinting the recent surge in prices reflects fundamental factors such as pent-up demand and a shift in preferences to larger homes. Values have risen fastest, meanwhile, in cities with moderate mortgage levels.

“To this point, we do not see signs that home prices are rising due to speculation, like we saw in the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas a few years ago,” he said. At the same time, he cautioned about the need to be vigilant in certain segments of the market such as condos.

Gravelle added, however, that it’s too soon to declare victory, in particular because many mortgage deferrals only ended in October, meaning the full effects may not be known until the end of the year or early 2021.

He was less sanguine on the prospects for business, which he said may need more financing in the near term to get through a bumpy recovery. That’s why the central bank is ready to support the financial system if needed, even though it has recently pulled out of some programs.

“We expect that an increasing number of businesses will need financing in the coming quarters to get by,” he said. “Staff will be conducting simulations using firm-level data to quantify this, and we plan to publish those results in the next couple of months.”

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Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen reportedly Biden pick for Treasury Secretary – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

AP source: US agency allows formal Biden transition to begin

WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration has ascertained that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration.An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.The move clears the way for Biden aides to begin co-ordinating with federal agencies on plans for takeover on Jan. 20.THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.Pressure is increasing on President Donald Trump’s administration to authorize a formal transition process for President-elect Joe Biden as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders say it is time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for the head of the General Services Administration to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked GSA chief Emily Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,” the business letters said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”The parade of daily statements from Republicans who are gently urging Trump to concede and move on comes as Murphy, whom he appointed, has yet to certify Biden as the winner of the presidential election, stalling the process of officially launching the transition. Trump has publicly refused to accept defeat and has launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.”Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,” Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.When Murphy ascertains that Biden won, it will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials also say they will not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.The renewed calls for an official transition came as Biden is building out his administration with key picks for national security and foreign policy roles. Former Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the incoming administration’s effort to combat climate change, while Alejandro Mayorkas will be nominated as homeland security secretary.Biden also plans to nominate veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as his secretary of state..Matthew Daly And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

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Toronto and Peel Region enter lockdown for at least 28 days – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Premier Doug Ford is standing behind his government’s decision to suspend in-person shopping at all non-essential retailers in Toronto and Peel amid criticism from small business owners who say they are being unfairly singled out.

Toronto and Peel officially entered the lockdown stage of Ontario’s framework for COVID-19 restrictions at 12:01 a.m., on Monday. As a result personal care services, like barbers and salons, have been forced to close and restaurants can only do takeout and delivery.

Retail stores are also limited to curbside pickup only with some exceptions for grocers, hardware stores, corner stores and discount and big box retailers selling groceries.

Speaking with reporters during his regular briefing on Monday, Ford said that he knows it is “not fair” that some big box retailers like Walmart can continue to operate while smaller businesses have to shut down but he said it would have been a “logistical nightmare” to require large retailers to cordon off non-essential goods, as is the case under a similar order in Manitoba.

“I know this is not fair and that’s why we put the additional $300 million into supporting small businesses and took care of their property taxes, their energy costs,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can as a province but the quicker we can get through this, the quicker we can get this vaccine out there, then we can get people back and open up,

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on the Progressive Conservative government to allow three customers at a time into small retail stores.

Ford, however, told reporters that he is not considering any changes to the lockdown rules at this point, much to the dismay of some retailers.

“How does it make sense to shut down the small flower store but allow people to line up at Walmart to buy a bouquet of flowers? To shut down the small independent bookseller but allow them to go to Costco, line up and buy books there? How does that help prevent COVID? Never mind how fair it is,” Dan Kelly, who is the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told CP24 earlier on Monday. “These rules make no sense at all.”

Kelly said that the CFIB had already forecast that 160,000 small business in Canada would close following the first wave of the pandemic and that the situation has gotten even more critical since then.

He said that something needs to be done to help shuttered retailers in Toronto and Peel and soon or more will be “toast.”

“We think we have seen a hollowing out of the retail sector but we have seen nothing compared to what will happen if they miss out on Christmas,” he warned.

Tory urges people to stay home

The province announced the added restrictions for Toronto and Peel on Friday as new cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in both jurisdictions.

In anticipation of the rules going into effect, several malls extended their hours over the weekend and there were reports of long lineups at stores.

Speaking with CP24, on Monday morning Toronto Mayor John Tory said that the strict new rules are an important, even if there is not a lot of data pointing to widespread transmission in settings like retail stores, for example.

“We don’t really know in every single case exactly where people picked up this virus, we just know it is spreading and was spreading in a fashion last week and the week before and the week before that that was clearly unacceptable in terms of the trend line we were on,” he said. “Look it is a sad day today just to see this kind of thing having to happen but again the choice was to not do these kind of things and have a much longer, much broader, much worse kind of lockdown happen latter when we had completely lost control of this thing as you have seen elsewhere in the world.”

While the lockdown will shutter a number of businesses across Toronto and Peel, schools and childcare centres will remain open as will services deemed essential like dentist offices and physiotherapists.

Several industries that were mostly brought to a halt in the spring, like film and television production and construction, are also exempt.

“I am a little bit concerned that this shutdown doesn’t focus on the largest area of spread. In Brampton our largest source of transmission is industrial settings. Our largest two sectors are transportation logistics and food processing and neither of those sectors are shut down because they are considered essential,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CP24 on Monday. “So this isn’t truly a lockdown for Brampton. Small businesses have been shut down but with the largest portion of our workforce being essential workers nothing has really changed.”

In addition to the new rules in Toronto and Peel, Durham Region and Waterloo have also been moved into the red category alongside York Region as of today. The rules for that category limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons at a time.

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