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Bong Go backs transportation distancing status quo

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THE current social distancing in public transport systems is at least one meter between passengers.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go today backed the recommendation of health professionals for the government to defer its plan to ease social distancing protocols in public utility vehicles and transportation systems like railways.

Go expressed the belief that President Rodrigo Duterte will also weigh the warning aired by medical practitioners because they are the experts in health matters, including how to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.

“The economy is important but the lives of Filipinos are more important,” Go said in Filipino. “Money can be earned but life cannot be bought with money. A life lost is lost forever.”

Go said he agrees with the recommendation of doctors because once people see the easing of physical distancing measures in public transportation, they might lower their guards against COVID-19 in other places.

The approved distance between passengers at present is at least one meter, with plans to reduce it to .75 meter and then to .50 meter met with opposition by netizens and health workers.

“Let us always remember that according to studies from experts, physical distancing is one of the most effective ways to avoid transmission of COVID-19,” Go said.

“In addressing the needs of the public transport sector, let us find other ways to help the livelihood of PUV operators and drivers without putting at risk their lives and the lives of others,” he added.

The senator said opening the economy should not be at the expense of keeping the riding public safe from COVID-19.

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DOH cautions gradual opening of tourism sites

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Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergerie urged the government to exercise caution when it allows the gradual opening of tourism sites as the coronavirus pandemic remains a grave threat.

In a forum held on Friday, Vergeire said that ample analysis of such initiatives should first be established in order to prevent any possible surge of cases.

“We are slowly trying to study it so that we can assert and or determine if opening up in fall will not compromise the safety of our population,” she said.

The health official also explained the importance of striking a balance between health and economy through establishing initial developments before shifting on a wider scale.

“We have to check first, we have to start slow and small before we can fully implement and try to see if really we can go on and open up these kinds of sectors without compromising the safety, or course the transmission risk for people within that community,” Veregerie said.

The national government recently said it is planning to open both Baguio City and Boracay to tourists beginning the first week of October in order to help localities to jump-start the economy.

The Department of Tourism said that among the policies to be implemented include the ‘test before travel rule’ where all visitors are required to have a negative RT-PCR test 48 to 72 hours prior to traveling to the island.

The strict quarantine will be imposed after the test to ensure the travelers’ safety before the set travel date.

Travelers who are aged 21 years old and below as well as those 60 years old and above will be permitted provided that they have no existing comorbidities.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the city will initially accept visitors from Region I as part of its pilot testing.

The idea was welcomed by other local government officials in the Ilocos region who are also considering doing the same thing to their respective provinces.

Although more areas are willing to receive tourists, Magalong—who also serves as the national tracing czar—said that only guided tours will be allowed in the meantime to prevent a possible outbreak of the disease.

Meanwhile, the DOH said it will soon be releasing a complete document of guidelines which includes provision for pathways, tests, and management of cases for domestic travelers.

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Celtics stay alive in NBA playoffs

With their season hanging in the balance, the Celtics exploded for 41 points in the third quarter.

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Miami, United States — The Boston Celtics roared back in the second half to beat the Miami Heat 121-108 on Friday to stay alive in the NBA playoffs.

Jayson Tatum scored 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Jaylen Brown added 28 points as six Celtics players scored in double figures and Boston cut the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals to three games to two.

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 23 points and Duncan Robinson added 20 for Miami, who are trying to reach the NBA finals for the first time since 2014.

With their season hanging in the balance, the Celtics exploded for 41 points in the third quarter to turn the tide in a game dominated early by Miami.

Under solid pressure from the Heat defense, the Celtics had made just one of their first 12 shots and connected on just five of 20 from the field in the first quarter.

Boston trailed by as many as 12 in the opening period, which ended with the Heat leading 26-18.

Miami again built the lead to 12 in the second period and finished the first half with a 58-51 lead.

But Boston was beginning to see some shots fall, and as they turned up the intensity on both ends of the floor after the interval Miami had no answer.

The Celtics opened the second half with a 20-5 scoring run.

Marcus Smart’s three-pointer tied it up at 60-60 and Boston took the lead for the first time in the contest, 62-60, on Brown’s layup off a feed from Kemba Walker.

They wouldn’t trail again.

Walker’s three-pointer with 4:26 left in the third gave Boston a 10-point lead and the Celtics took a nine-point edge into the final frame when they continued to pour it on.

Tatum scored 17 in the third and the Celtics out-rebounded the Heat 16-5 in the quarter.

“We got back to playing Celtics basketball,” Walker said. “I felt like early in the game we were a little frustrated, bickering at each other at the refs. We got out of it, and just let the game come to us.”

The Celtics will try to build on their momentum against a Heat team determined to put them away in game six on Sunday.

The winners of the series take on either the Los Angeles Lakers or Denver Nuggets for the NBA title in the quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

The Lakers lead the Nuggets three games to one in the Western Conference finals.

Boston’s German center Daniel Theis contributed a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds, Smart finished with 12 points and Gordon Hayward chipped in 10.

“Boston played great in that second half, they deserved and earned what they got,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“We did not compete hard enough defensively and we paid the price for that. But you do have to credit Boston, they played with great force particularly off the dribble.”

Spoelstra noted that the Celtics scored just four points in the paint in the first quarter but added: “It was just a deluge to the rim after that.”

Boston scored 30 points in the paint in the second half and had 13 fastbreak points to Miami’s zero after the break.

“We didn’t defend as well as we could in the first half and that’s what got our offense going in the second half,” Tatum said. “We just locked in, we were all on the same page.”

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Go: Pinoys deserve a decent home

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The office of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go continues its mission to reach out and help fire victims even in the provinces in line with the senator’s campaign promise of extending assistance to those who need it.

In line with this, the senator’s staff collaborated with the National Housing Authority (NHA) in delivering government housing assistance to fire victims during an aid distribution activity in Barangay San Roque Gym in Cebu City on 23 September.

In a virtual message, Go stressed that the NHA is ready to provide financial assistant under its Emergency Housing Assistance Program to families whose houses were partially and totally damaged which is under the national government’s program as he stressed that all Filipinos deserve a decent home.

Representatives of the NHA conducted the distribution of assistance in strict compliance with health protocols.

 

 

To recall, the senator filed Senate Bill No. 203 – or the National Housing Development, Production and Financing Bill — last July 2019 which seeks to generate and mobilize funds to increase low-cost housing production; provide support mechanisms to improve access to housing options; guarantee the development of a strong, sustainable, accessible and affordable housing finance system; and increase private sector participation, among others.

In December 2019, Go filed another bill seeking to provide more assistance. SBN 1227 or the Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act intends to provide families displaced by natural and man-made disasters with improved access to the formal housing market by offering a rental subsidy.

During the distribution in Cebu, Go’s team also extended help to 105 out of 402 families affected by a fire incident that happened on 3 November 2019 in Brgy. San Roque.

Affected families were provided with food packs and meals, masks, face shields, vitamins and basic medicines. Bicycles were also given to those who need them most. These fire victims were also previously provided food packs and cash assistance last 8 November 2019 during the senator’s visit.

Go also noted that the first Malasakit Center that was opened in the country is at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City. Other Malasakit Centers in Cebu province are located at St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital in Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City District Hospital in Lapu-Lapu City, Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital in Mandaue City, and Talisay District Hospital in Talisay City.

The senator also reassured the public that he and President Rodrigo Duterte will continue to serve the nation, provide the needs of the Filipinos and address the health crisis at full extent.

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Not just a marketplace: Meet Viber Community superadmins

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Filipino lives and that of the world have turned upside down these past six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Things people used to do without worries — like shopping, going to the gym, attending a cooking class, meeting friends—have instantly become things of the past.  At least for the time being as medical experts predict that the pandemic may drag still on for months or even years.

With the present set up, most of the people are now glued to their screens, looking for ways to find a sense of normalcy and community and manage their anxieties at a time when physical distancing means saving lives.

And did you know that Viber plays a major role in many lives right now? And Viber has its own people that connect one life to another?

Now, meet the people who created some of your favorite Viber Communities while in quarantine, keeping their members’ companies and loneliness at bay.

Good vibes and quarantine baking

When KG Sison, a marketing consultant, saw an unanswered query about baking suppliers in one of the Communities she was already part of, she decided to create her own.

Homebaking Community, though initially dedicated to baking supplies, evolved into a thriving support group that shared baking tips, hacks, and many more.

 

KG Sison (left) encourages members to post their creations and share their baking-related tips to the Homebaking Viber Community.

“We encouraged members to post their creations and freely ask baking-related questions. We wanted to be a legit community—a place where people talked and made friends instead of being transactional in nature,” Sison said.

Sison said managing a community made her less lonely during the quarantine, emphasizing how these Communities have become a source of positivity for her and the members.

“Even our members have reported that the group has made them less lonely and anxious during the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). It served as a form of social support for us and our members,” she said, sharing how webinars have been produced and future field trips planned.

“We made friends. I think this was the greatest surprise and blessing that I gained from these Viber Communities.”

Since then, Sison has indeed lived up to being a superadmin, establishing other groups like Homecooking Community, Urban Gardening, and MNL Sourdough Fam Community, all of which have the same community vibe – “less selling, more interaction.” It wasn’t until recently that she decided to create the Homebakers Marketplace, providing Community members another venue to sell their baked goods during the quarantine.

“I use a variety of chat platforms, but I noticed that the general public uses Viber, and that means more reach. But more importantly, I find that there are fewer trolls on Viber because you need to have a phone number attached to an account,” she pointed out.

Staying active together at home

Celina Payawal (left), created the Gym & FItness Marketplace MM, a Viber Community where they sell gym equipment and motivate each other to stay fit at home.

With gyms closed during ECQ, fitness enthusiasts were pushed to modify their workouts and do their routines at home.

And for those who didn’t have what they needed, the Gym & Fitness Marketplace MM Viber Community became a lifesaver.

This haven was where everyone who was looking for jump ropes and yoga mats, to more specific gym equipment like spinning bikes and squat racks, flocked to.

Created by Celina Payawal, an entrepreneur, after she noticed that there was no community dedicated to the fitness market, the group that was only supposed to cater to those living in Metro Manila grew to include members from Tarlac, Ilocos, and Cebu.

Apart from connecting buyers to sellers and helping SMEs sustain their businesses, Payawal as the superadmin sees the Community as a place where everyone can encourage each other to stay fit and healthy while the world battles a deadly virus.

Given the popularity of the messaging app in the Philippines, it’s easy for superadmins like her to connect with like-minded individuals and help sellers reach out to customers.

It really was a no brainer for her, pointing out how Viber made sure that superadmins got the features they needed to manage their Community well, from pinning posts, choosing notification settings, to deleting unwanted messages.

A major point for Payawal is how Viber allows Community members to chat with each other without having to share their numbers. “It’s a safe place for all online sellers and buyers to be able to transact with each other, since they don’t have to divulge their personal numbers, providing them both convenience and security,” she said.

Shopping safely for essentials

Sellers are grateful to Terry Ilagan (left) for creating the Locale City Guide Viber Community.

Since the virus forced many stores and SMEs to close indefinitely, several entrepreneurs have been struggling to sell their products to a wider base.

Terry Ilagan noticed this and decided to create the Locale City Guide, a Viber Community that catalogs essential items sold by SMEs. From auto shop services to face shields, members were welcome to sell their products from the safety of their homes.

Ilagan chose Viber because of its unlimited member capacity and easy invite features. She thought it would be a great way to sell a wide array of goods. Community members can find pre-cooked meals and groceries to keep them well-fed over quarantine, delivery services to maintain social distancing guidelines, direct distributors, wholesalers, and retailers to keep business supplies moving, COVID essentials, and even entertainment products like gaming equipment and streaming links.

Ilagan knew she was doing something right when sellers began reaching out to him to thank him for creating the Community. “It may sound shallow, but being able to extend help by posting a seller’s homemade pastries and knowing that she made some bucks, gave me a pleasant feeling that lasted throughout the day,” she said.

Uplifting neighborhoods and communities

The Acacia Estates Viber Community, made by Diane Jimeno (left), was initially dedicated to updates on COVID-19 but then it quickly became a venue for SMEs to promote their businesses during these trying times.

One evening in March, Diane Jimeno was looking through a Viber Community that gave residents of Bonifacio Global City a catalog of goods and services they could avail of over quarantine. She decided that her community, Acacia Estates, needed one too, and decided to make it herself. The Acacia Estates Residents Community initially was dedicated to health updates on the pandemic.

But later, people began using the community as a way to sell their products.

“We decided to just accommodate the sellers in the group, but the community kept on growing rapidly that having community updates related to COVID-19 was almost impossible to discuss,” said Jimeno.

“This led us to decide to create another community called Acacia Estates Community and renamed the Acacia Estates Residents community to Acacia Estates Marketplace.”

Several of Jimeno’s neighbors began thanking her for giving them a space to do business. “Being able to promote micro and small businesses in the community helped people especially during these trying times,” she said. Though many were feeling the economic crisis of the pandemic, the people of Acacia Estates had a platform to keep their livelihoods afloat and support one another.

Now, it’s your turn to share your Viber story. Let Viber know how the app became part of your daily life. Send your story over to [email protected]

About Rakuten Viber:

At Rakuten Viber, we connect people. No matter who they are, or where they are from. Our global user base has access to a range of features like one-on-one chats, video calls, group messaging, and updates and discussions with their favorite brands and celebrities. We ensure our users have a secure and free environment to share their emotions.

 Rakuten Viber is part of Rakuten Inc., a world leader in e-commerce and financial services. It is the official communication channel of FC Barcelona, and the official instant messaging and calling app partner of the Golden State Warriors.

 Join Viber today and enjoy the world’s best communication experience.

 For further inquiries, contact us at [email protected]

 

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Go continues aid to fire victims

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True to his promise of helping fire victims in any way he can, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go – through his outreach team – continued to extend a helping hand even in the provinces.

In Lanao del Norte, the senator’s outreach team met with a family of four displaced by a fire at their area in Brgy. Caromatan, Kolambugan on 17 September and brought cash assistance, food and medicine packs, masks and face shields, and a bicycle to help Crisanto Dahili and his family recover from the incident.

The family also received other forms of emergency assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DoH), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), National Housing Authority (NHA), and the local social welfare office.

The Department of Trade and Industry, on the other hand, pledged to provide financial assistance to help Dahili start a hog-raising business in their village.

 

Over at Misamis Occidental, Go’s team brought emergency relief to Vicente Villapus and his family after they lost everything in a house fire in Brgy. Balatacan in Tangub City on 16 September.

The team provided food and medicine packs, masks and shields, a bicycle, and cash aid to help the family purchase essential items.

In addition, the Villapus family received family kits, hygiene kits, and extra food packs from the representatives of the DSWD who also joined the small event.

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Malaysian PM faces major test in state polls

Malaysia has been gripped by political turmoil since the collapse in February of a reformist government.

Agence France-Presse

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Semporna, Malaysia — Malaysia’s embattled leader faces state elections Saturday that is his biggest political test since taking office, with analysts saying he desperately needs a win to strengthen his tenuous hold on power.

A defeat for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s allies in Sabah state on Borneo will erode support among his seven-month-old government’s coalition partners, increasing pressure for snap national polls, observers warn.

Adding to his problems, the election comes just days after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim launched a bid to topple his administration, claiming he had mustered enough support from MPs to take over.

Malaysia has been gripped by political turmoil since the collapse in February of a reformist government, which was headed by Mahathir Mohamad and included Anwar, amid bitter infighting.

Muhyiddin seized power without an election and leads a coalition backed by a scandal-plagued party, but his administration has only a wafer-thin majority in parliament, and critics say it is illegitimate.

The Sabah elections were called after a Muhyiddin ally launched a bid to take over the opposition-controlled local government. But rather than cede power, the chief minister dissolved the state assembly.

About 1.1 million people are eligible to vote for 73 assembly seats in the state on the northeastern tip of jungle-clad Borneo island, which is home to a dizzying array of indigenous groups.

Loose coalitions are backing the government and the opposition, but analysts say the vote is too close to call. Results are expected late Saturday.

The outcome will not directly affect the balance of power at the national level, but it is a key test of Muhyiddin’s popularity.

Despite taking power without a democratic vote, he has won praise for his government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and received a 69 percent approval rating in a recent survey.

“He needs a win to show… that the high popularity he enjoys can be translated into votes on the ground,” Ibrahim Suffian, head of independent polling firm Merdeka Center, told AFP.

“If he loses badly, then the government could potentially collapse.”

Muhyiddin has faced pressure from his allies to call a general election soon to secure a stronger mandate, but some observers believe he wants to delay as long as possible.

That, however, may become difficult if he fares badly in Sabah.

Anwar’s power play has added to pressure on Muhyiddin but does not appear to have gained traction for now.

He has refused to reveal the number of MPs backing him while the king, who appoints the country’s premier, has postponed an appointment to see him due to ill health.

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Ray of hope for family of four

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BUKIDNON – Losing a home in a fire is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, as now experienced by a family of four in Barangay 4, Talakag here.

Fortunately, there are people who are willing to extend a helping hand to ease the pain of losing almost all their property.

Recently, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go’s staff delivered essential aid on 18 September to the Cabaring family after their house was destroyed by a fire.

The family of four received cash aid to cover their basic needs, food and medicine packs, masks and face shields, and a bicycle.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development was present during the small event to provide the family with additional aid, including food packs and family and hygiene kits.

Marilo Cabaring was also awarded a Certificate of Entitlement for skills training by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Various other agencies likewise offered emergency relief to the family, including the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Housing Authority.

“It’s easy to forget about other issues affecting our communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But we should remember other people’s struggles and continue to do our best to respond and help everyone as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Go in a statement.

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Cadets among 22 dead in ‘shock’ Ukraine military plane crash

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the crash as a “terrible tragedy” and said he would travel to the Kharkiv region on Saturday.

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Chuguiv, Ukraine — At least 22 people including military cadets were killed and two others were seriously injured on Friday when a Ukrainian air force plane crashed near Kharkiv in the east of the country, the interior ministry said.

Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko confirmed the death toll to AFP, describing the incident as a “shock”, and saying that the cause of the crash was being investigated.

Footage of the crash released by officials on social media showed the smoldering remains of the Antonov-26 transport plane.

“Most of [the dead] were students” of the Kharkiv National Air Force University, the air force said in a statement.

There were 27 people on board, 20 cadets and seven crew, it added.

Twenty-two were confirmed dead, two are injured, and “the search for three more people continues”, the emergency services said.

The injured are in a “critical” condition, regional governor Oleksiy Kucher said on Facebook.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the crash as a “terrible tragedy” and said he would travel to the Kharkiv region on Saturday.

“We are urgently creating a commission to investigate all the circumstances and causes of the tragedy,” he wrote on Facebook.

The plane crashed at around 8:50 pm local time (17:50 GMT), two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Chuhuiv military airbase, the emergency services said.

In photos released by the emergency services, firefighters in helmets and reflective clothing sprayed aircraft debris with jets of water.

The body of the plane burst into flames on landing and firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze after an hour.

The town of Chuhuiv is around 30 kilometers southeast of Kharkiv and 100 kilometers west of the front line where government forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists.

The presidency said that according to preliminary information the transport plane crashed during a training flight.

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell sent his condolences on behalf of the bloc.

“My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives,” he tweeted.

Several military planes have crashed in Ukraine during training flights in recent years.

A pilot was killed in December 2018 after his Su-27 fighter crashed during landing in the Zhytomyr region.

Two months earlier, the same model of fighter crashed in a neighboring region during the Clear Sky 2018 joint military exercises between Ukraine and NATO countries, killing the American and Ukrainian pilots on board.

In 2002, a Su-27 fell into the crowd at an airshow in Lviv in western Ukraine killing 77 people and injuring 165 others.

The Antonov-26 is a light transport aircraft designed in Ukraine during the Soviet era.

It is 24 meters long and has a wingspan of 29 meters and can fly at a cruising speed of 440 kilometers per hour.

In 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed killing 298 people over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Moscow has denied the findings of international investigators that a Russian BUK missile hit the Malaysian Airlines flight.

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US maintains plan for TikTok download ban

TikTok has argued that a ban, even if temporary, could cause irreparable harm to the video-sharing application.

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Washington, United States — The Trump administration said Friday it would not back down from a plan to ban new US downloads of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, setting up a court showdown ahead of a Sunday deadline.

A Justice Department court filing said it opposes TikTok’s petition for an injunction to block the order from President Donald Trump, who has called the Chinese-owned social platform a national security risk.

US District Judge Carl Nichols set a hearing for Sunday at 9 am (1330 GMT) in Washington for TikTok’s request to block the president’s order before it goes into effect at 11:59 pm Sunday (0359 GMT Monday).

The government lawyers said they wanted to file a brief “under seal,” which would not be available as a public record, citing national security and confidential business information.

The court filing said TikTok had tentatively agreed to sealed briefs but would reserve the right to request that some documents be made public.

TikTok has argued that a ban, even if temporary, could cause irreparable harm to the video-sharing application, which has some 100 million US users.

Nichols, who sits on the bench in Washington, told a telephone hearing on Thursday he disagreed with government lawyers’ claims that the ban — which would not immediately prevent usage of TikTok but prevent downloads by new users and updates — “merely preserves the status quo.”

Analysts also pointed out that any ban could prevent users from downloading updates and security patches for TikTok.

Earlier this month, Trump cited national security concerns and issued orders to ban both TikTok and the popular Chinese app WeChat — which has been put on hold in a separate court case in California.

But the TikTok order stops short of a full ban until November 12, giving the Chinese parent firm ByteDance time to conclude a deal to transfer ownership of the app.

A tentative deal unveiled last weekend would make Silicon Valley giant Oracle the technology partner for TikTok and a stakeholder in a new entity to be known as TikTok Global.

The status of the deal, which would include investment from US retail giant Walmart, remained unclear as the parties awaited word on whether it would win approval in Beijing.

As part of its earlier court filing, a statement from TikTok interim head Vanessa Pappas said the proposed ban would be devastating for the social platform, which had been surging in much of the world.

A ban “will cause our user base to stagnate and then precipitously decline,” Pappas said.

She noted that until 1 July, when rumors of a ban first began to circulate, TikTok was adding some 424,000 new US users each day.

The TikTok petition also speculated that Trump was retaliating because of reports the app was used by his critics to snatch up tickets to a campaign rally in Tulsa to which they had no intention of going — an event which flopped with significantly fewer people in attendance than expected.

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