TikTok users and Korean pop music fans have taken partial credit for inflating attendance expectations at a less-than-full arena at US President Donald Trump’s first political rally in months, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Social media users on different platforms, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok, claimed in posts and videos on Sunday that they completed the online registration for the event with no intention of going.
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Prior to the rally, Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said there had been more than one million ticket requests for the event.
Over 1M ticket requests for the @realDonaldTrump #MAGA Rally in Tulsa on Saturday. Before entering each guest will get: ✅Temperature check ✅Hand sanitizer ✅Mask There will be precautions for the heat and bottled water as well.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 15, 2020
However, the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena had many empty seats and Trump and Vice President Mike Pence cancelled speeches to an expected “overflow” crowd which did not materialise.
Trump’s campaign advisers had seen the rally as a way to rejuvenate his base and demonstrate support, at a time when a string of opinion polls have suggested he is trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Oklahoma reported a surge in new coronavirus cases in recent days, and the state’s department of health had warned those planning on attending the event that they faced an increased risk of catching the virus.
The Trump campaign said the entry was “first-come-first-serve” and that no one was issued an actual ticket.
“Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever. Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cellphone number,” said Trump’s campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, in a statement to Reuters News Agency. “But we thank them for their contact information.”
Trump’s campaign advisers had seen the rally as a way to rejuvenate his base and demonstrate support [Nicholas Kamm/AFP]
The campaign team blamed the disappointing crowd at the rally on protesters creating a hostile atmosphere and blocking supporters from getting into the arena.
Senior Trump campaign aide Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News Sunday attendees were unable to get into the BOK Center.
“There were factors involved, like they were concerned about the protesters who were coming in. There were protesters who blocked the (attendees),” Schlapp said.
“And so we saw that have an impact in terms of people coming to the rally.”
Schlapp went on to say there were families that “didn’t want to bring – couldn’t bring – their children because of concerns of the protesters”.
There were some shouting matches and scuffles outside the event between about 30 Black Lives Matter demonstrators and some Trump supporters waiting to enter.
But reporters on the ground said they saw no problems for people trying to get in.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, responded to a tweet by Parscale blaming the media for discouraging attendees and cited bad behaviour by demonstrators outside.
“Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID,” she tweeted on Saturday. “KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too.”
Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. ☺️ https://t.co/jGrp5bSZ9T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020
“When your whole family registers for 10 free tickes to Trump’s rally in Tulsa knowing full well those seats will be empty because we live in Georgia & also aren’t racist,” a TikTok user posted on her profile while lip-synching to a voice saying: “That is epic.”
— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) June 21, 2020
TikTok user Mary Jo Laupp, who uses the hashtag #TikTokGrandma, reportedly led the charge when she posted a video last week urging people to reserve tickets without attending. The video has more than 700,000 likes.
This TikTok with 700k views encouraging people to register for Trump’s Oklahoma rally and not go turned out to be a pretty successful political prank. https://t.co/DmVOJCnnNo
— Seth Hettena (@seth_hettena) June 21, 2020
Trump had brushed aside criticism for his decision to hold the rally in Tulsa, the site of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence against Black Americans some 100 years ago.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com
Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…
Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.
“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.
Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com
Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…
Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.
Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation
The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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