Senin, 30 September 2019

'Treason,' 'spying,' 'civil war:' Donald Trump lashes out at impeachment accusers - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump opened another week of impeachment turmoil with slashing attacks on his accusers – including a suggestion that a leading investigator be arrested for "treason."

Claiming that Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, falsely described his phone call with the president of of Ukraine, Trump tweeted Monday:  "Arrest for Treason?"

Schiff did not immediately respond, but others called it an outrageous comment.

"Out. Of. Control," tweeted Republican strategist Mike Murphy. "Treason? A POTUS saying this? #UnfitAndUnstable."

Alleged "treason" was part of a series of tweets on Sunday night and Monday morning in which Trump raised the specter of "civil war," said some of his own aides may be "SPYING" on him, and accused the Democrats of trying to "destabilize" the country a year ahead of his 2020 re-election.

"They are lying & cheating like never before in our Country’s history in order to destabilize the United States of America & it’s upcoming 2020 Election," Trump said in one of many harsh missives.

"If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,'" Trump quoted pastor Robert Jeffress as saying.

That tweet drew criticism from Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger.

"I have visited nations ravaged by civil war.@realDonaldTrump," tweeted Kinzinger, a Republican House member from Illinois. "I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant."

Trump's angry tweets set the stage for another week of political/legal battles, as House Democrats investigate allegations that Trump tried to coerce the president of Ukraine into investigating an American political rival, Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.

"We had no choice but to move forward with an impeachment inquiry," Schiff tweeted on Sunday. "And our focus will be on the president’s fundamental breach of his oath office."

He added: "Coercing a foreign nation to interfere in our election is never ok, No matter what the president and his defenders say."

More: Pelosi vs. Trump: Combatants in a historic impeachment showdown that will test them, and the nation

Schiff was one of the primary targets of Trump's tweet attacks.

Accusing the Intelligence Committee chairman of misrepresenting his conversation with the president of Ukraine, Trump tweeted at one point that "I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason."

Trump also demanded to know the identity of the unnamed whistleblower whose complaint triggered the investigation – as well as the name of any administration official who fed information to the whistleblower about his interactions with foreign leaders.

"Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President?" Trump said. "Big Consequences!"

Trump kept it up Monday morning, tweeting that he is again being subjected to a "witch hunt" and claiming that "the Fake Whistleblower complaint is not holding up." 

As the White House prepares a defense of Trump during the impeachment investigation, expect more of the same kinds of attacks from the president himself in the weeks and months ahead.

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2019-09-30 11:50:00Z

Al-Shabab extremists attack US military base in Somalia: report - Fox News

Al-Shabab extremists on Monday staged an attack on a US military base in Somalia, which is used to launch drone strikes.

A Somali official told the Associated Press that a suicide car bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the gate of a military airstrip which is a base for U.S. and Somali forces.

Yusuf Abdourahman, a security official with the Lower Shabelle regional administration, told the news agency that a burst of gunfire could be heard across the base after the bombing.

The terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the report said.

The U.S. military uses Belidogle airstrip in the Lower Shabelle region as a base where it launches drones that attack al-Shabab and trains Somali troops.


There are reports of a second attack on European Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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2019-09-30 09:34:53Z

China has quietly doubled troop levels in Hong Kong, envoys say -

China has quietly doubled troop levels in Hong Kong, envoys say

There are now up to 12,000 Chinese troops in Hong Kong, diplomats tell Reuters. Among them are members of the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force that answers to Xi Jinping. If China moves to put down the protests in the city, they will likely do the job.


Last month, Beijing moved thousands of troops across the border into this restive city. They came in on trucks and armored cars, by bus and by ship.

The state news agency Xinhua described the operation as a routine “rotation” of the low-key force China has kept in Hong Kong since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997. No mention was made of the anti-government protests that have been shaking the metropolis since June.

It was a plausible report: China has maintained a steady level of force in the territory for years, regularly swapping troops in and out. And days earlier, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters, embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had told local businesspeople that China had “absolutely no plan” to order the army to put down the demonstrations.

A month on, Asian and Western envoys in Hong Kong say they are certain the late-August deployment was not a rotation at all, but a reinforcement. Seven envoys who spoke to Reuters said they didn’t detect any significant number of existing forces in Hong Kong returning to the mainland in the days before or after the announcement.

Three of the envoys said the contingent of Chinese military personnel in Hong Kong had more than doubled in size since the protests began. They estimated the number of military personnel is now between 10,000 and 12,000, up from 3,000 to 5,000 in the months before the reinforcement.

As a result, the envoys believe, China has now assembled its largest-ever active force of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops and other anti-riot personnel and equipment in Hong Kong.

Significantly, five of the diplomats say, the build-up includes elements of the People’s Armed Police (PAP), a mainland paramilitary anti-riot and internal security force under a separate command from the PLA. While Reuters was unable to determine the size of the PAP contingent, envoys say the bulk of the troops in Hong Kong are from the PLA.

PAP forces would be likely to spearhead any crackdown if Beijing decides to intervene, according to foreign envoys and security analysts. These paramilitary troops are specially trained in non-lethal tactics and methods of riot suppression and crowd control. 

The envoys declined to say how exactly they determined that the recent troop movement was a reinforcement or how they arrived at their troop estimates. Reuters reporters visited the areas surrounding multiple PLA bases in Hong Kong and observed significantly increased movements by troops and armored vehicles at the facilities.

China’s Ministry of National Defense, the State Council Information Office, and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office did not respond to questions from Reuters. In early September, a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said China would "not sit idly by" if the situation in the city continued to deteriorate and posed a threat to "the country's sovereignty."

The office of Carrie Lam and the PLA garrison in Hong Kong also did not respond to questions. A Hong Kong police spokesperson told Reuters the police force was “capable of maintaining law and order and determined to restore public safety in Hong Kong.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with international navy delegates to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLA in the port city of Qingdao in April. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The PAP is a key element in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s drive to reinforce the ruling Communist Party's control over the nation of 1.4 billion people while building a potent military that can supplant the United States as Asia’s dominant power. The PAP has up to one million troops, according to an April research paper from the U.S.’s National Defense University - about half the size of China’s standing military. The paramilitary’s primary duty is to defend against potential enemies within - countering domestic upheaval and protecting top leaders. In recent years, it has contained unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet. Elements of this force are also trained for counter-terrorism, securing key infrastructure, disaster relief and international peacekeeping.

After installing himself as commander-in-chief and reshaping the regular military, Xi turned attention to the PAP. His first move was to take personal control. In early 2018, the PAP was brought under direct command of the Central Military Commission, the top military decision-making body that Xi chairs. Previously, the PAP had come under the split command of the commission and the State Council, China’s top government administrative body.

This put Xi at the apex of Beijing’s military and paramilitary forces, further concentrating power in his hands. With the eruption of the protests in Hong Kong, however, Xi now faces the biggest popular challenge to his rule.

News of the reinforcements in Hong Kong comes as city officials are bracing for more demonstrations on Tuesday, Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Intense clashes between protesters and police rocked the city over the weekend ahead of the celebrations.

In her private remarks in August, city Chief Executive Lam played down the possibility that Beijing might deploy the PLA. Foreign envoys and security analysts said they too believe China’s strong preference is not to use troops.

Still, they said, the troop build-up shows Beijing wants to be ready to act if the Hong Kong government and its 30,000-strong police force lose control of the city. Lam herself expressed concern about the force’s ability to keep control. On some days, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets. She said the police are “outnumbered” by the protesters, making enforcement “extremely difficult.”

“Apart from the 30,000 men and women in the force we have nothing,” she told the gathering of businesspeople. “Really. We have nothing. I have nothing.”

Enforcing Xi’s ‘Red Line’

Until now, the PAP’s presence in Hong Kong has been limited to a small advance detachment nestled discreetly within existing PLA facilities, according to one of the diplomats. The new deployment marks the first significant entry of the PAP into Hong Kong. It wasn’t mentioned in official accounts of the rotation nor in the state-controlled press.

The combined deployment of the PLA and the PAP follows months of official statements denouncing the protests and dramatic signaling to Hong Kongers. This included news reports and footage showing anti-riot drills by both the PLA and the PAP, released by the military on social media. Last month, hundreds of PAP troops conducted extensive exercises in a football stadium in Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong. Troops in the area could also be deployed to Hong Kong if the crisis deepened, foreign diplomats said.

The protests and street violence in Hong Kong erupted in early June, over a bill - since scrapped - that would have paved the way for people to be extradited to the mainland. The unrest came two years after Xi defined a “red line” for Hong Kong. He used the phrase in a 2017 speech in the city, warning that domestic threats to national sovereignty will not be tolerated.

Chinese security forces are better equipped to handle civil unrest than they were a generation ago. In 1989, it was the PLA that was sent in to smash student protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. It used the tools of war - battle tanks, armored vehicles and infantry.

In Hong Kong, the reinforcement includes equipment tailor-made for quelling urban violence with non-lethal force – including water cannon vehicles and trucks used to lay barbed-wire barricades. Additional transport helicopters have been moved into the city. Reuters reporters have seen these flying frequently around Hong Kong and its hinterlands, the New Territories, an observation confirmed by foreign envoys and security analysts monitoring developments here.

Anti-government protesters are sprayed with a water cannon by local police during a demonstration near the government complex in Hong Kong in mid-September. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Other trucks, bearing military number plates, have been seen pre-loaded with street fortifications, at times moving about the city. Reuters reporters have tracked increased activity at many of the PLA’s 17 facilities across Hong Kong Island, its neighboring city of Kowloon and the rural New Territories. Most of these facilities were inherited by the PLA under agreement with the departing British forces during the 1997 handover.

Fatigues and other laundry can be seen hanging from the balconies of buildings that had lain dormant for years. Army buses and jeeps are parked in once abandoned lots.

A petrol bomb is thrown during a clash between pro-democracy protesters and Hong Kong riot police in the district of Tsuen Wan last month. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Some foreign analysts say China’s reinforced military presence was bigger than expected and appears to have been well-prepared. They say the size of the force means it is now far beyond the symbolic role traditionally played by the local garrison.

“They do seem to have an active contingency plan to deal with something like a total breakdown in order by the Hong Kong police,” said Alexander Neill, a Singapore-based security analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “I would think it would take something like that or some other worst-case scenario for them to deploy. But they are clearly more ready than before, and are leaving nothing to chance.”

So far, the expanded Chinese forces remain firmly within their barracks – a continuation of what has been an unobtrusive presence since the handover.

In 1997, trucks full of white-gloved PLA soldiers, some carrying flowers, rolled into Hong Kong within hours of Britain’s handover of its colony to Chinese rule. The sight sparked anxiety among politicians, activists and the public that still lingers. Beyond the occasional so-called open day, when the public gets access to the PLA barracks, the troops rarely interact with ordinary Hong Kongers.

Unlike forces on the mainland, soldiers within the Hong Kong garrison are not usually accompanied by their families. They are rarely allowed to socialize outside their bases; for news, they are given access to China’s state media.

“They live like monks,” said one Hong Kong-based mainland security specialist familiar with local PLA forces. “It is a vastly different deployment to anything on the mainland – almost akin to something they might experience on peacekeeping duties in Africa.”

“The PAP can be seen as a blunt instrument with the key function of suppressing domestic unrest.”

Trevor Hollingsbee, a retired British defense ministry intelligence analyst and former Hong Kong security official

The local Chinese security presence must be squared with handover guarantees that Hong Kong’s autonomy would remain for at least 50 years - including broad freedoms and an independent judiciary, which don’t exist in the rest of China.

Under the city’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, defense and foreign affairs are the sole responsibility of the Communist Party leadership in Beijing. The document states that the PLA garrison “shall not interfere in local affairs,” but Hong Kong can request the garrison’s assistance to maintain public order. And garrison members must abide by local laws.

Chinese law, meanwhile, allows for the standing committee of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, to deploy the garrison if a state of war or emergency is declared for Hong Kong. The law cites “turmoil” that threatens national security and is “beyond the control of the (Hong Kong) government.”

One presence, two forces

The PLA garrison is commanded by Major-General Chen Daoxiang, who is shadowed by a political commissar, Major-General Cai Yongzhong. But neither officer, nor territory leader Lam, would have the authority to deploy the security forces. Any military clampdown on China’s freest and most international city would only be ordered by Xi’s powerful Central Military Commission, say local officials and foreign diplomats.

In June, garrison commander Chen told a visiting Pentagon official that Chinese troops would not interfere in the city’s affairs, according to people briefed on the discussion. U.S. officials at the time said they read the comment as an early signal that Beijing intended to keep them in their barracks.

PLA soldiers take part in a performance during an open day at Stonecutters Island Naval Base in Hong Kong in June. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Less is known about the command structure of the PAP forces in Hong Kong. Few residents of the city are even aware of their presence within existing PLA facilities.

From the early years of its revolutionary struggle against the Nationalists, the Chinese Communist Party fielded a range of paramilitary forces to guard the leadership and key headquarters. These forces assumed an internal security role after the Communists took power in 1949. The PAP was formed in 1982, as the paramount leader of the time, Deng Xiaoping, modernized and downsized the military after the Cultural Revolution. The PAP absorbed thousands of regular army troops.

Still, the PAP was poorly trained and equipped, with a fragmented command, when the 1989 Tiananmen protests threatened the party’s grip. China’s leaders had to call on army units to crush the protests with tanks and machine guns. The scenes of bloodshed on the streets of the Chinese capital were a blow to the party’s reputation. In the aftermath, the leadership reequipped and retrained the PAP in crowd-control operations.

Chinese soldiers and tanks guard the Gate of Heavenly Peace and the portrait of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square in 1989, during the crushing of student protests by the military. REUTERS/Richard Ellis

Security analysts say the PAP’s budget has grown as the force has modernized, but figures are undisclosed. The government stopped revealing full domestic security spending numbers in 2014 - after the internal security budget had topped the fast-growing regular military budget for the previous three years.

In the restive region of Xinjiang, the PAP has been used heavily to counter what China describes as a terrorist threat from Uighurs, an ethnic Muslim minority. As many as a million Uighurs and Muslims from other ethnic groups have been incarcerated in prison camps, according to the United Nations. China counters that the facilities are vocational training centers to help stamp out religious extremism and teach new work skills.

PAP recruits take part in a political education theory assessment in the city of Kashgar in the western region of Xinjiang in January. REUTERS/Stringer
PAP members stand in formation during an oath-taking rally in Kashgar in 2017. REUTERS/Stringer
Paramilitary police participate in a drill at an anti-terrorism training base in Xinjiang in 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

“The PAP can be seen as a blunt instrument with the key function of suppressing domestic unrest,” said Trevor Hollingsbee, a retired British defense ministry intelligence analyst who served as a Hong Kong security official until 1997. “Their role has been streamlined and their command sharpened under Xi.”

The PAP also has been active in southern China, close to Hong Kong. PAP riot police have been sent to quell factory strikes and other labor unrest in the Pearl River Delta, one of China’s key manufacturing areas.

In 2011, before Xi came to power, PAP troops were deployed as part of the clampdown on Wukan. The southern coastal village drew international attention when residents threw up barricades against local authorities to protest land seizures. In a rare climbdown, the provincial government eventually dissolved the old village committee and allowed free elections. Many protest leaders were voted into office.

When fresh protests broke out in 2016, over a failure to resolve the land issues and other grievances, the PAP and other security forces were sent in again. This time, the response was harsher.

A villager makes a speech in front of the residents of Wukan in 2016. Protests in the village against land seizures were quelled by PAP and other forces. REUTERS/James Pomfret

Video footage of the clashes was shown by villagers to a Reuters reporter who reached the area soon after the protests erupted. It showed locals hurling bricks at ranks of shield-carrying riot police. The troops used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. No deaths were reported. But a Reuters reporter on the scene observed several injured villagers, some with bloody head wounds.

In Hong Kong, Chinese military forces have been conducting anti-riot drills in their bases in recent weeks. Reuters reporters viewed one drill in late September from a public road near the PLA base in rural Tam Mei. They saw helmeted Chinese troops undergoing exercises, some armed with rifles, shields and batons. Inside the base were dozens of camouflaged armored personnel carriers, command jeeps, large bulldozers and trucks.

Reuters and foreign diplomats have also seen extra forces at the PLA headquarters in central Hong Kong, next to local government offices in the city’s Admiralty district. Protests have broken out repeatedly just meters from the PLA compound. Amid attempts by police to secure the area, protesters have at times hurled petrol bombs near the headquarters’ granite walls. Clouds of police tear gas have wafted into the compound.

So far, though, protesters haven’t targeted PLA bases directly, even as they have vandalized the national flag and other symbols of Chinese sovereignty.

“We don’t mess with the People’s Liberation Army,” said Leo Wong, a young protester, standing near the PLA headquarters during a late-September demonstration. “If we attacked the PLA, anything could happen. It’s too risky.”

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2019-09-30 09:30:00Z

At 70, People's Republic Of China Faces Economic, Political Headwinds - NPR

Pedestrians wait to cross a road in front of a floral installation celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China in Beijing. Streets have been cleaned and security increased before the Oct. 1 holiday. Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Major streets have been cordoned off for hours at a time, leaving restaurant and bar-goers stranded overnight. Bomb-sniffing dogs stand guard on busy corners. Teams of hawk-eyed retirees sporting red arm bands patrol the sidewalks as part of volunteer neighborhood watch committees, ready to report the smallest sign of a challenge to public security.

Normally, Beijing is an oasis of calm during the annual Golden Week holiday that begins on Oct. 1. But this year is different: not only is China preparing to celebrate an important milestone — the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party's rule, but it is doing so at a particularly turbulent time of economic uncertainty and testing of its authority.

With this year's celebrations, China officially surpasses the longevity of that other great communist power, the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991 amid a wave of liberalizing reforms that outstripped Moscow's control.

Challenges, at home and abroad

China is anxious not to share the USSR's fate, but on the eve of its birthday, the People's Republic of China is encountering significant headwinds at home and abroad.

The celebrations — which will include a military parade involving 15,000 troops and showcasing some 160 war planes and 580 tanks and other weapons — are being billed as a key moment in China's history of triumphing over foreign invasion and imperialism. They are also being used as an opportunity to project strength as the People's Republic faces increasing dissent to a more aggressive, centralized form of rule under President Xi Jinping.

"[The party] faces the colossal task of ensuring that the expectation of the people for a better life is satisfied. After all, this is one of the main pillars of the Communist Party's legitimacy," says Adam Ni, a China analyst at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Domestically, structural economic challenges are accumulating. China's economy is growing at its slowest pace in nearly 30 years – exacerbated in no small measure by a recalcitrant trade war with the United States and a swine flu epidemic that has caused prices of pork to soar.

Meanwhile, months of protests in Hong Kong, which have frequently devolved into running street battles, are seeking less interference from Beijing. They come as a direct challenge to China's authority over the territory and a potentially embarrassing retort to the aura of control its hoping to foster.

Nearby, the United States has beefed up military support for Taiwan, which China has vowed to "reunify" — by force, if necessary. China is also coming in for increasing international criticism over its mass detention and surveillance of Muslim ethnic minorities, particularly Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang.

Promoting party unity

Xi faces no immediate threat of losing his position as chairman of the party. He has four years left on his second term and a constitutional amendment passed last year allows him to remain president for life. But signs of discontent among party ranks could hamper his ability to enact policy.

Tuesday's military parade, featuring a speech by Xi, will be a demand for unity as he and his supporters address these issues and potential dissatisfaction within the party's ranks.

The anniversary celebrations "are a call to arms given the domestic and foreign policy difficulties facing the party," says Willy Wo-lop Lam, an elite Chinese politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"In his speech, Xi Jinping will emphasize the fact that only the Communist Party can unite China and lead China to greater glories," Lam says.

Xi has framed this week's celebrations with a series of carefully choreographed events designed to maximize his political messaging that the Chinese Communist Party is central to China's well-being.

Earlier this month, he warned young cadres in an opening speech at the Party School of CPC Central Committee of "a series of major risks and tests the country faces, adding that maintaining a fighting spirit and strengthening the ability to struggle is a must in meeting the targets set by the Party," according to state news agency Xinhua. Throughout his speech, Xi repeatedly referenced "the ability to struggle," a phrase from the era of China's founding communist ruler, Mao Zedong, that invokes revolution and ideological purity.

Last week, while other world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City, Xi was leading an internal meeting of the party's powerful Politburo. The reason for the meeting was to stress that the party "must vigorously carry forward the spirit of patriotism and carry out patriotism education."

Xi's message of unity and strength is aimed as much at international audiences as its own citizens and apparatchiks. Next week, China's top trade negotiator, Liu He, will head to Washington D.C. for the 13th round of trade talks with the United States.

"The Chinese government is serving a warning to Washington that in the course of the trade talks, China will not be bullied and ... will not succumb to threats and intimidation from the U.S.," Lam says.

Muscle flexing

China is also eager to demonstrate that it now has the military hardware to back up its growing ambitions. The parade Tuesday morning will include weaponry never before seen in public, according to China's defense ministry.

Military analysts speculate that the Dongfeng-41, the newest version of a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S., will be unveiled. Such weaponry would allow the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to better project power across the Asia-Pacific, countering U.S. interests in the region.

"In relative terms, the U.S. military is still far more advanced than the PLA," says Macquarie University's Ni. "But the PLA is closing the gap across a whole spectrum of capabilities, and this is eroding the U.S. military advantage in Asia."

"China more so than ever is now able to deter ... the U.S. from intervening in regional scenarios, such as with respect to Taiwan and South China Sea," Ni says.

The gravity of the 70th anniversary has been underscored in the last month by a series of intense security checks, including forcing residents whose buildings are close to the planned parade route to leave home for sometimes days at a time for building security checks.

The Communist Party's efforts to make sure no mishaps occur extends to the airspace directly above Beijing as well. Beijing municipal authorities have forbidden residents to release everything from balloons to homing pigeons, popular with Beijing residents who often raise the birds in apartment stairwells and alleyway rooftops.

An uneasy legacy

Abroad, China's foreign ministry has held spin-off events from Brussels to Vancouver celebrating the 70th anniversary of Communist governance with overseas Chinese citizens.

But those born and raised in China and now living abroad say they struggle with the legacy of the Chinese Communist Party, particularly as Xi has intensified ideological and political control over academia, business and policy.

Yangyang Cheng, a particle physicist and writer now based in the U.S., tells NPR that she feels uncomfortable with state projections of Chinese identity.

"The identity is becoming flattened, becoming hollowed out because of how the state is trying to redefine it, control it for its political ends," says Cheng, who recently wrote an essay about her connections to China on the eve of the 70th anniversary.

According to Beijing officials, she says, "There is only one correct way to be Chinese" as China tries to "forcefully mold ethnic minority identities to be closer to that of the Han Chinese."

"I often wonder how... I can celebrate something like October 1 with a straight face—given that the regime it represents spent so much of its 70-year history laying waste to everything I hold dear about China's culture and history," Taisu Zhang, a professor at Yale Law School, wrote to NPR in an email, explaining his conflicting feelings of solidarity and simultaneous repulsion at China's rise.

"In the end, all of these contradictions are inevitably part of what it means to be Chinese today, which is something that I cannot, and do not want to, escape," he said.

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2019-09-30 07:21:00Z

Minggu, 29 September 2019

Giuliani was not working alone in Biden Ukraine probe - Fox News

Rudy Giuliani was not the only attorney trying to get damaging information on Joe Biden from Ukrainian officials, and President Trump’s decision to withhold aid from Ukraine this summer was made in spite of several federal agencies supporting the aid, Fox News’ Chris Wallace revealed on “Fox News Sunday.”

In addition to Giuliani, Washington, D.C., lawyers Joe DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing worked alongside the former New York City mayor. According to a top U.S. official, the three attorneys were working "off the books" -- not within the Trump administration -- and only the president knows the details of their work.


DiGenova and Toensing have been staunch supporters of President Trump, and were close to joining his legal team during Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. That ultimately did not happen due to conflicts, as Toensing had previously represented witnesses who had already spoken to Mueller’s team.

A whistleblower complaint citing “multiple U.S. government officials” accused Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden in a July 25 phone call. Democrats claim that Trump used military aid as leverage over Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, although Zelensky insists there was no pressure at all.

Trump claims that while he did delay aid to Ukraine, it was because he was pushing for European nations such as Germany to provide additional aid to Ukraine, and that he eventually did provide the aid.

Fox News has learned that the Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Council were “unanimous” in supporting the aid to Ukraine, and that Trump acted alone in withholding the aid over the summer.

Giuiani has gone on record saying that his investigation began as a probe of possible Ukrainian collusion with the Democratic Party in the 2016 election, which led to him looking into Biden as well. In his call with Zelensky, Trump did reference Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm that had worked on an investigation of a hacked Democratic National Committee server. Trump also claimed that the server itself, which the FBI never acquired, may currently be in Ukraine.

The former New York City mayor asserts that Hunter Biden engaged in improper activity related to his business dealings with energy company Burisma Holdings, and claims that then-Vice President Joe Biden used his office to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing top prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma.

Biden has acknowledged this in the past, stating that he threatened to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine if they did not fire Shokin. Biden denies wrongdoing, and has not stated that he did this to protect his son, as Shokin had been accused of corruption.

Genova and Toensing have publicly called out Biden, accusing him of acting on behalf of his son, and disputing claims that Shokin was corrupt.


A memo released by the White House containing the substance of the call showed that the two leaders discussed U.S. aid to Ukraine as well as the Biden investigation. There was no overt link or reference to a quid pro quo, but Democrats claim the pressure was implied.

Speculation that Trump may have sought campaign assistance from a foreign government -- and the allegation that he used military aid as leverage – has increased demand from Democrats that Trump be impeached, where the party had been split on the issue in the past. While figures such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., have long touted efforts to investigate Trump for the purpose of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been hesitant to support such a move, out of fear that the move would be politically divisive if the American people did not support it.

After news of the whistleblower complaint came out, however, Pelosi called for a formal impeachment inquiry.

Republicans, meanwhile are criticizing the complaint because the whistleblower did not have firsthand knowledge of the call. Top Republicans have been pushing for the identity the whistleblower’s government sources.


Republicans specifically questioned why the whistleblower's sources in the White House didn't file a complaint themselves -- especially given that relevant whistleblower procedures did not protect second-hand complaints until just days before the whistleblower filed the complaint against Trump. (The New York Times reported that the whistleblower is a CIA officer detailed to the White House. Fox News has not confirmed The Times' report.)

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News' "Shepard Smith Reporting" on Thursday that the administration had an apparent "leak problem," adding, "if they're leaking something that's supposed to be classified, then ... that probably is criminal in nature."

Fox News’ Gregg Re, John Roberts, and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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2019-09-29 13:05:49Z

Ugly Clashes as Hong Kong Protesters Battle Police Ahead of China Anniversary - The Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong police fire tear gas toward protesters on one of the fiercest days of clashes since the movement began. Photo: mohd rasfan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

HONG KONG—Tens of thousands of protesters poured onto Hong Kong’s streets Sunday, with the fiercest battles in weeks breaking out as demonstrators faced off with police and shouted anti-China slogans ahead of Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China.

The protesters had planned to march to the government headquarters in the center of the city under the theme “Global Anti-Totalitarianism Rally.” The police broke up the march at about 4 p.m., an hour or so after it began, engaging the protesters in urban street battles in several districts amid clouds of tear gas and bursts of rubber bullets. They made multiple arrests.

Protesters waved flags from different countries and international institutions, including the U.S. and the United Nations, appealing to the global community to stand with the city’s antigovernment movement. Rallies were taking place or planned in dozens of cities around the world in solidarity with Hong Kong’s protesters.

Hong Kong is in its 17th straight weekend of demonstrations, originally sparked by opposition to a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be tried in the mainland’s more opaque legal system. Although the city’s government formally withdrew the bill earlier this month, the continuing protest movement, which has widened to include other demands, has revealed deep-seated fears of China’s tightening rule in the city.

Thousands participated in an unpermitted march through Hong Kong. Photo: nicolas asfouri/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The sustained size of the movement and the intense violence of the front-line confrontations with police threaten to mar China’s anniversary celebrations. The movement is the highest-profile public challenge to President Xi Jinping since he rose to power in 2012.

The Hong Kong government has signaled its desire for reconciliation through dialogue in past weeks and hosted a public forum with Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday. But the continued volume and ferocity of the protests suggest the government’s strategy is doing little to quell the unrest.

The organizers of Sunday’s march, who didn’t identify themselves publicly, didn’t apply to the police department for permission, as organizers have for many previous rallies. Police tried to quell the demonstration in the early afternoon, even before it began, firing tear gas and pepper spray in the center of the shopping district of Causeway Bay. Protesters—many dressed in black and some wearing Guy Fawkes masks—began to march anyway, holding a giant yellow banner that said “Restore Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time.”

As they marched down one of the city’s longest roads, they chanted slogans while periodically breaking into song. The protest anthem’s lyrics include the lines: “Lift up your head and speak up, our voices will ring loud, in the hope that freedom will return here....The sons and daughters march together for justice, a revolution of our time.”

A 15-year-old student, who gave his name as John, marched with a placard featuring an image of the anonymous “Tank man,” who stood alone before a column of Chinese army tanks in the aftermath of the deadly crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

“We are not radicals, we just want to fight for a better future,” said John, who took the placard from other protesters who were distributing anti-China paraphernalia. He said the placard, captioned “CCP Evil Dictatorship Party,” reflected his misgivings about Communist rule and its impact on civil liberties in Hong Kong. “We want to tell the world that the evils committed by the Communist Party could happen here too,” he said.

Along the demonstration route, protesters vandalized facades of mainland Chinese businesses, including outlets of state-owned banks, plastering them with anti-Communist Party placards and spray-painting protest slogans.

Police on Sunday appeared to be employing different crowd-control strategies than in previous weeks. They fired tear gas even before the rally was to begin, even though nonparticipants were milling around the busy shopping area. And, in contrast to previous instances in which police chased protesters, large groups of police in riot gear waited at intervals along the expected march route.

As police can hold arrested people for 48 hours without charge, those arrested Sunday could still be off the streets for Tuesday’s national day public holiday.

In some confrontations, the police retreated. At around 4:30 p.m., police and protesters engaged in a long standoff outside the luxurious Pacific Place mall. The small contingent of police was surrounded by hundreds of protesters gathering on either side and eventually overwhelmed. One officer could be heard yelling repeatedly, “Team Two, where are you?” into her walkie-talkie, as she looked around following a skirmish with protesters. Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas, then ran to the nearby Admiralty metro station and into waiting police vans. Hundreds of protesters chased the vans, hurling bricks and umbrellas at them as they drove away.

In other districts, protesters vandalized subway stations and other structures, continuing an outburst of anger against the city’s subway company, MTR Corp. In the Wan Chai station, protesters smashed the glass of an elevator and threw objects into the underground station from the street level. Police kept guard inside the station and from an overpass, firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters, who built a defense line behind umbrellas. Sirens, from police vehicles and from alarm systems, were heard throughout the afternoon across the city.

Protesters used umbrellas and gas masks to withstand police tear gas and other forceful measures. Photo: mohd rasfan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Hundreds of protesters advanced on the government complex and bombarded its perimeter with bricks and Molotov cocktails, breaking glass panels and setting small fires outside the government buildings.

Police responded by firing tear gas and water cannon, before scores of officers in riot gear came storming out of the complex, firing pepper bullets and more tear gas to disperse the crowds, and making at least a dozen arrests.

One group of protesters was trapped outside a closed entrance to nearby subway station. A dozen or so middle-aged people dressed in yellow vests formed a human chain to protect the protesters from a waiting line of police officers, in a tense standoff.

Rallies in solidarity with Hong Kong’s protest movement were also planned in dozens of cities Sunday, including New York, Tokyo, Warsaw and Almaty, Kazakhstan.

One of the day’s first was in Sydney. Hundreds of people marched through the downtown of the Australian city, many holding anti-China signs and chanting the same slogans and songs that protesters in Hong Kong have used in recent weeks.

March organizers said the turnout—possibly more than 1,000—was better than the 200 or 300 people expected.

Summer Chu, a 21-year-old nursing student, said she drove two hours with her partner to Sydney to attend Sunday’s rally. She said it was important to send a message to her fellow Hongkongers back home that she supports the protest movement even though she is overseas.

“It’s the responsibility for every Hong Kong people, if we don’t stand up right now, we have no chance to do it in the future,” said Ms. Chu, who has been in Australia for about three years.

Ms. Chu said she was concerned that pro-Beijing counter protesters might show up on Sunday. In Australia, there is “just more freedom, and the life is more easy,” said Ms Chu. “I really don’t think there is any future in Hong Kong.”

Write to Natasha Khan at and Chun Han Wong at

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2019-09-29 11:33:00Z

Theme park horror as two people are killed when rollercoaster plunges into the ground - The Sun

A SPEEDING rollercoaster carriage flipped over mid-ride at a Mexican amusement park  — flinging two riders out to their death and injuring five others.

The victims, two men aged 18 and 21, died of horrific head injuries after the last car on the coaster derailed at the La Feria amusement park in Mexico City.

 Emergency services rescue as passenger, who is believed to be alive because they are on a spinal board


Emergency services rescue as passenger, who is believed to be alive because they are on a spinal boardCredit: Twitter
 This is the moment the back carriage derails


This is the moment the back carriage derails

A theme park worker told local news outlet El Universal how she saw passengers being thrown from the car.

She said that other riders hit their heads as the coaster advanced at high speed while dragging the flailing, final car.

Preliminary investigations indicate a mechanical failure caused the car to come loose and plunge from a height of 33 feet, said Ulises Lara Lopez, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Authorities are treating the accident as a case of negligent homicide.

Miriam Urzua, an official from the civil protection organisation, said: "This is now in the hands of prosecutors, and prosecutors have already taken the necessary steps for an investigation.”

Video circulating on social media showed the car flipping nearly upside down and smashing into a metal loop on the rollercoaster. 

Images from the aftermath showed paramedics attending victims and a single metal rail car on the ground, on its side, near blood stains.


Credit: Twitter
 A general view of an amusement park where rollercoaster accident happened


A general view of an amusement park where rollercoaster accident happenedCredit: Reuters

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2019-09-29 11:05:00Z