BEIJING (AP) — China’s recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan — which have raised concerns around the region — were necessary to defend the nation’s sovereignty and territory, a Chinese official said Wednesday.
China’s military flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan on a single day earlier this month, a single-day record that capped four days of a sustained pressure campaign involving 149 flights. All were in international airspace, but the display raised fears that any misstep could provoke an unintended escalation in the region.
Taiwan views China’s moves as advertising its threat to bring the island it claims as its own territory under its control by military means as necessary. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and have no official contacts.
The purpose of the maneuvers was to “fundamentally safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the vital interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office.
“The People’s Liberation Army exercises are necessary actions to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ma told reporters at a biweekly news conference in Beijing.
Ma blamed actions by Taiwan’s independence-leaning democratically elected government and its relations with “external forces” for heightening tensions.
Outside observers say the military maneuvers are intended to degrade Taiwan’s physical defense capabilities through wear and tear, while turning the citizenry against their leaders through a form of psychological warfare.
Taiwan, a close U.S. ally, scrambled jets to intercept the Chinese aircraft and activated its missile air defense systems. It is also working to boost its defenses by buying new technology from the U.S. and developing domestic systems, including submarines.
Public opinion surveys show the vast majority of Taiwanese in favor of maintaining their de facto independent status without giving in to China’s demands for political unification.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday vowed to defend the island from China’s rising pressure after a week of unprecedented tensions with Beijing.
She spoke a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping said annexing Taiwan “must be realized,” while saying that was best brought about by peaceful means.
However, Xi also added that, “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s strong determination, will and capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
While such rhetoric is familiar, many see an increased possibility of conflict arising from Xi’s desire to resolve what China refers to as the “Taiwan question,” and the Taiwanese leadership’s resolve to maintain the status quo of de facto independence.
Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng earlier this month called the situation the most severe in the 40 years since his enlistment and that he believed China would have “comprehensive” capabilities to invade Taiwan by 2025.
In a talk this week with journalists, political scientist Shelley Rigger said while the situation seemed more intense, it was more likely being used as a deterrent.
“So trying to deter Taiwan from imaging that there is some kind of opportunity to make a change in its own position and also trying to deter the U.S. from providing support or creating the impression in Taiwan that this might be a moment for Taiwan to push the envelope harder,” said Rigger, a longtime observer of Taiwanese politics at Davidson College in North Carolina.
“I also think that there is an element of the PLA kind of testing its own operational capabilities, and so its kind of killing two birds with one stone — you’re sending a strong message to Taiwan and to the U.S. and you’re also getting a lot of flight hours at a minimum for your military personnel,” Rigger said.
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Tennis star Novak Djokovic deported from Australia after visa cancellation
Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after a federal court upheld his visa’s cancellation over his vaccination status. He had been initially scheduled to play in the Australian Open, which kicks off Monday. However, Australian officials require everyone coming into the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and Djokovic remains unvaccinated. CBSN’s Lana Zak sits down with CBS News foreign correspondent Imtiaz Tyab to discuss Sunday’s court ruling and widespread reactions to the controversy.
Americans Won’t ‘Vote for a Cheat’
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) attempted to wave off any concerns on Sunday about former President Donald Trump’s push to install election-denying supporters into election supervisory positions, claiming that “it’s just not true” that these officials could impact final vote counts.
At the same time, Cassidy insisted that the American public won’t fall for Trump-backed candidates pushing the “Big Lie” at the ballot box. “The American people are not going to vote for a cheat,” he confidently proclaimed.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Cassidy—who voted to convict Trump of impeachment for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection—defended his decision not to support restoring parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, even though the Senate voted 98-0 to reauthorize the law just a decade ago.
“So the Supreme Court decided—the Supreme Court decided that the conditions in 1965 are different than they are now,” the Louisiana Republican replied. “Imagine that. We’ve had an African American elected president of the United States, an African American elected to the vice presidency, and an African American elected to the Senate in South Carolina. If anyone can’t see the circumstances have changed, they’re just not believing their lying eyes.”
CNN anchor Jake Tapper, meanwhile, noted that voting rights activists would argue that “discrimination and prejudices continue to exist” while pointing out that Republican legislations across the country are passing bills restricting voting access following Trump’s 2020 election loss.
“I don’t know what to say. This proves the system works,” Cassidy contended, adding that many Democratic-led states have more restrictive voting laws than Texas and Georgia, where recent restrictions were passed.
Tapper, however, reiterated that the influx of voting restriction bills and candidates peddling Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud comes amid a coordinated push by the disgraced ex-president to make the “Big Lie” the GOP’s central issue.
“We did see Trump last night in Arizona trying to pressure legislators to decertify the 2020 election. On Friday, he called for an effort to get vote counters—more of them in office who are supporters of his,” the veteran anchor.
After airing a clip of the former president urging the GOP to be “tougher and smarter” on “counting the vote” by installing election deniers to election supervisory roles, Tapper pressed Cassidy on the rapid rise of election denialism within his party.
“We know what he means by ‘tougher and smarter,’ right? I get you don’t support the Democrats’ legislation. Let’s talk about another path forward,” the State of the Union moderator asked. “What do you support in order to secure our elections, to make sure there isn’t any fraud, but also they’re free and safe and that the efforts to disenfranchise that we saw in 2020 are not successful?”
Cassidy, for his part, asserted that “we are seeing the success of state and local government in protecting the election,” further stating that courts and judges rejected Trump-backed lawsuits to overturn election results.
As for election supervisors, the senator downplayed any role they would have in counting the votes.
“They don’t count the vote,” he declared. “It’s not some back room where you can either toss it out or keep it. It’s a public process in which both sides are represented, and there’s votes counted.”
Additionally, Cassidy—perhaps naively—expressed confidence that American voters wouldn’t support any candidate that openly supported the overturning election results or cheating at the ballot box.
“Lastly, I can imagine a campaign slogan, ‘Vote for me, I’m gonna cheat in the election.’ We should not underestimate the American people,” he said. “The American people are not going to vote for a cheat. If someone says I’m voting because I want to flip an election, they’re going to lose their election.”
Cassidy concluded: “And so I think we have to kind of give credit to the American people in the elections, in the process that we’ve gone to. Those ill intents didn’t pass, and as I pointed out in Georgia, they have more permissive laws than Delaware and New York.”
At his Arizona rally, Trump played a supercut of NY Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating his real estate company for fraud, labeling her an ‘unhinged liberal’
New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil fraud investigation into the Trump Organization’s business dealings.
During his rally in Arizona, Donald Trump claimed he did not know who she was.
In December, Trump filed a lawsuit against James, accusing her of harassing him with investigations.
On Saturday, former President Donald Trump held a rally in Florence, Arizona, where he played a supercut mocking New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is currently leading a fraud investigation into the Trump Organization.
“Keep our prosecutors out of politics because this could work very much in the other direction also, and all it takes is a few more votes and it’ll work in the other direction. And that would be very, very sad,” Trump said, before directing attendees to watch the video.
Clips showed James repeatedly calling Trump an “illegitimate president,” stating that prosecutors need to focus on following his money. In the final frame, “unhinged liberal” was superimposed over James’ face.
James’ probe is focused on whether Trump organization officials artificially inflated or deflated the value of properties for loan and tax purposes, respectively.
On December 1, James issued subpoenas to the former president’s eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, baselessly claimed that the investigation is “unconstitutional” during an interview with Sean Hannity on Monday.
“It violates the Consitution. It’s unethical. It’s wrong,” Eric Trump said. “This is what you’d expect from Russia. This is what you’d expect from Venezuela. This is third-rate stuff.”
Read the original article on Business Insider
Trump calls the Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt a ‘disgrace’ and claims the FBI was behind the insurrection
Trump held his first rally of 2022 in Arizona on Saturday.
The former president spewed falsehoods about the January 6 insurrection in his speech.
Trump called the officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt a “disgrace” and an “out-of-control dope.”
Former President Donald Trump called the Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol a “disgrace” and claimed the FBI was behind the insurrection.
In the first rally of the year in Florence, Arizona, Trump falsely claimed that Democrats wanted to “protect” the officer exonerated of wrongdoing in Babbitt’s killing following an internal investigation.
“I watched this guy being interviewed, they wanted to protect him so they wanted to keep him. He couldn’t get on television fast enough. The guy who shot Ashli Babbitt for no reason,” Trump said.
Trump called the officer an”out-of-control dope” and a “disgrace.”
“He’s so proud of himself. Let’s see how he could do without the protections that he got. And by the way, if that happened the other way around they’d be calling ‘let’s bring back the electric chair,'” Trump added, referencing Democrats.
Lt. Michael Byrd, a 28-year-veteran of the force, revealed his identity in an interview with NBC News in August, months after the insurrection.
Babbitt, who the night before the attack tweeted “Nothing will stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours,” was shot while trying to climb through a shattered window in front of the Speaker’s Lobby.
Trump, however, went on to allege that the “real insurrection happened on Election Day” and alleged the FBI was behind the riot.
“They never talk about that crowd. They talk about the people that walked down to the Capitol. They don’t talk about the size of that crowd. I believe it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken [to] before and they were there to protest the election,” Trump said.
He added: “The fake news never talks about it. They never talk about it. Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol complex on January 6 were FBI confidential informants, agents, or otherwise directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government. People want to hear this.”
Read the original article on Business Insider
Ex-Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, who is married to Sara Evans, charged with felony assault
Former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker was arrested early Saturday morning in Nashville and charged with felony aggravated assault.
Barker, 49, is being held in Davidson County on a $10,000 bond with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His arrest booking report lists him by his full name of Harry Jerome Barker.
Barker was placed on a 12-hour hold for domestic violence, according to Davidson County Sheriff’s Office records.
Barker led Alabama to the 1992 national championship, including a victory over No. 1-ranked Miami in the Jan. 1, 1993, Sugar Bowl. He is the school’s all-time winningest quarterback with a 35-2-1 record as a starter, and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 1994 as a senior. He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting that year.
Barker was selected in the fifth round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers but was cut from the roster. He spent time with the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers as a backup but never played in a regular-season game.
Barker hosts a radio show carried on 100.9 FM in Tuscaloosa as its flagship station. He previously had a morning sports talk radio show with Al Del Greco and Tony Kurre on WJOX in Birmingham.
He has been married to country music singer Sara Evans since 2008, his second marriage. The couple was married in Franklin, Tennessee.
Barker’s son, Braxton Barker, was a walk-on backup quarterback at Alabama for the past four seasons. He announced recently that he is entering the transfer portal to leave for another school.
Tommy Deas contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Ex-Alabama QB Jay Barker, married to Sara Evans, charged with felony
Aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk departs Bremerton for Texas dismantling
BREMERTON — The USS Kitty Hawk, the nation’s last oil-fired aircraft carrier, departed Bremerton on Saturday for a 16,000-mile journey around South America for its ultimate fate: scrapping at a Texas shipyard.
Onlookers, many of them former sailors aboard the “Battle Cat,” watched as tugs pulled the rugged warship into Sinclair Inlet on a foggy Saturday morning. At more than 1,000 feet long, the Kitty Hawk won’t fit in the Panama Canal, so the warship will be tugged through the Strait of Magellan en route to Brownsville, Texas.
Corey Urband, a Navy veteran who became a machinist at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, was among those old sailors gathered to see it go. Many swapped stories of being thrust onto a Navy ship, put in charge of millions in equipment and the care of thousands of lives.
“As hard as life was on this ship, it’s part of my history,” said Urband, who served from 1992 to 1996 as a machinist’s mate. “While most people were graduating from high school and college, I was 30 feet below the waterline, halfway around the world from home.”
For Rich Bratlee, an electrician from Spanaway, the Kitty Hawk was an eye-opening rite of passage. The 6,000 sailors of the Kitty Hawk were double the size of his hometown in Montana.
“Quite a culture shock,” said Bratlee, who served from 1979-1983 and watched the ship depart Bremerton on Saturday. “I’ve come a long ways since being a kid on a farm.”
The massive ship had two escalators to help move around thousands of sailors more easily. Yet it never seemed to work well, sailors say. At times too many people would propel the escalator forward, spilling those at the bottom into a pileup.
“The were nothing but a pain,” Bratlee said.
The Kitty Hawk follows from Bremerton’s mothball fleet the USS Constellation, USS Independence and USS Ranger, which were all dismantled at the same place: International Shipbreaking Ltd. The company contracted for the warship, along with fellow carrier USS John F. Kennedy, for the stately price of one cent.
“The contract values reflect that the contracted company will benefit from the subsequent sale of scrap steel, iron, and non-ferrous metal ores,” said Alan Baribeau, a spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Kitty Hawk got a rare visit to one of the Navy’s only two carrier dry docks in 2021 so that its marine growth could be scraped off. Under an agreement with the state, Suquamish Tribe and other groups, the ship’s hull could not be cleaned in Sinclair Inlet after a previous carrier’s scrubbing sparked environmental concerns.
The Kitty Hawk participated in combat operations during the nation’s wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Kitty Hawk was also the fleet’s only permanently forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka, Japan, from 1998 to 2008. It was decommissioned a year later and has been in mothballs in Bremerton until this year.
Five former aircraft carriers have been turned into museums, but the Kitty Hawk will not be one of them. Though many sailors and others advocated for its preservation, the Navy declined to pursue that course. Advocates worried that there will never be another carrier preserved for posterity, as those of the nuclear-powered era must be mangled to remove all radioactive remnants. The San Diego-ported USS Midway, a flattop that served from 1945 to 1992, was the last the Navy turned into a museum.
Kitty Hawk history: a timeline
1956: The keel is laid by New York Shipbuilding Corporation for the second ship named after Kitty Hawk, N.C., site of the Wright brothers’ first flight.
1961: The USS Kitty Hawk is commissioned in 1961 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
1963: The “Battle Cat” conducts “experiments” to find out if the U2 high-altitude reconnaissance planes could land on a carrier.
1969: The flattop is awarded a presidential unit citation for its participation off Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.
1972: A race riot aboard the ship ended with almost 60 injured men and “initiated reforms in the Navy culture.”
1984: The carrier collides with a surfacing Russian submarine in the Tsushima Strait, leaving the sub’s propeller embedded in the carrier’s hull.
1992: Kitty Hawk supports Operation Restore Hope off Somalia.
1998: The warship pulls into Yokosuka, Japan, to serve as the forward-deployed carrier in the 7th Fleet.
2003: The carrier and its crew are a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2009: The Kitty Hawk is decommissioned and brought to its new home at the Navy’s mothball fleet in Bremerton.
2017: The Navy announces the Kitty Hawk will be dismantled, disappointing sailors and others who called for the ship’s preservation as a museum.
2021: The Kitty Hawk’s hull is scraped in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to remove marine growth and prepare it for the journey to Texas.
2022: The ship departs Bremerton.
Josh Farley is a reporter covering the military and Bremerton for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-9227, email@example.com or on Twitter at @joshfarley.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Old carrier USS Kitty Hawk departs Bremerton for Texas dismantling
CNN Unearths Audio Of Kevin McCarthy Saying Trump Admitted Responsibility For Riot
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said days after the U.S. Capitol riot that then-President Donald Trump had admitted to him that he bore some responsibility for the violence that unfurled among his supporters on Jan. 6 last year.
“I say he has responsibility. He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do,” McCarthy said in a Jan. 12 interview with Bakersfield, California, radio station KERN that CNN’s “K-File” unearthed and released on Friday.
Listen to the audio here:
McCarthy reportedly made a similar claim about Trump taking responsibility for the riot in a Jan. 11 call to Republican lawmakers, per Reuters.
“I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened, if he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened,” the top House Republican reportedly said, although he’s since claimed he can’t recall saying it.
The resurfacing of the KERN interview audio is notable, given that Trump has never publicly admitted his role in inciting the storming of the Capitol (for which he was later impeached) and McCarthy has reasserted himself as a key Trump ally and refused to cooperate with the House select committee’s investigation into the riot.
Listen to McCarthy’s full interview on KERN Radio here:
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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