Phillip Stucky | Contributor
Former President George W. Bush scored his first hole-in-one Wednesday at the Trinity Forest Golf Course, according to his Instagram page.
“With coaching from @thebushcenter CEO Ken Hersh and board members Mike Meece and Bill Hickey, I scored my first hole-in-one at the home of our Warrior Open and the @attbyronnelson. Next golf goal: live to 100 so I can shoot my age,” Bush said in the post. (RELATED: George W Bush Calls Immigrants A ‘Blessing And Strength’)
Bush was in the news Tuesday when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that he would much rather Bush were in office than President Donald Trump.
“[Bush] and I had our differences, but no one ever questioned his patriotism. Our battles were strictly political battles,” Reid said. “There’s no question in my mind that George Bush would be Babe Ruth in this league that he’s in with Donald Trump in the league,” he added. “Donald Trump wouldn’t make the team.”
Trump was quick to respond and attack Reid on Twitter, writing Monday, “Former Senator Harry Reid (he got thrown out) is working hard to put a good spin on his failed career. He led through lies and deception, only to be replaced by another beauty, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer. Some things just never change!”
Source: The Daily Caller
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a packed chorus to defend the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., against President Donald Trump's renewed assault on the Vietnam War pilot who spent five and a half years as a POW.
"He was just an unbelievable person," Schwarzenegger told The Atlantic. "So, an attack on him is absolutely unacceptable if he's alive or dead — but even twice as unacceptable since he passed away a few months ago. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to do that. I just think it's a shame that the president lets himself down to that kind of level. We will be lucky if everyone in Washington followed McCain's example because he represented courage."
Trump and McCain feuded since the 2016 campaign when Trump questioned McCain's war hero status. The pair never got along after that, and McCain cast the deciding vote to shoot down the GOP-backed measure to repeal Obamacare in 2017.
Trump has spoken ill of McCain, who died last August after a battle with brain cancer, on multiple occasions in recent days.
"He was a great public servant, no two ways about that," Schwarzenegger said. "He was known for his honesty, for his courage, and his patriotism and his service.
"The president should lift people up, should lift the nation up rather than always tearing people down."
Schwarzenegger then doled out some advice to Trump regarding bullying.
"Why don't you go and sit down with your wife for just a few minutes, Mr. President, and listen to the first lady when she's talking about stopping online bullying," he said. "That is a really great message. Which way do we go? Your way, or her way. That's really the question here."
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a packed chorus to defend the late Sen. John McCain against President Donald Trump's renewed assault on the Vietnam War pilot who spent five and a half years as a POW.
"He was just an unbelievable person," Schwarzenegger told The Atlantic. "So an attack on him is absolutely unacceptable if he's alive or dead — but even twice as unacceptable since he passed away a few months ago. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to do that. I just think it's a shame that the president lets himself down to that kind of level. We will be lucky if everyone in Washington followed McCain's example because he represented courage."
Trump and McCain feuded since the 2016 campaign when Trump questioned McCain's war hero status. The pair never got along after that, and McCain, an Arizona Republican, cast the deciding vote to shoot down the GOP-backed measure to repeal Obamacare in 2017.
Trump has spoken ill of McCain, who died last August after a battle with brain cancer, on multiple occasions in recent days.
"He was a great public servant, no two ways about that, Schwarzenegger said. "He was known for his honesty, for his courage, and his patriotism and his service.
"The president should lift people up, should lift the nation up rather than always tearing people down."
Schwarzenegger then doled out some advice to Trump regarding bullying.
"Why don't you go and sit down with your wife for just a few minutes, Mr. President, and listen to the First Lady when she's talking about stopping online bullying," he said. "That is a really great message. Which way do we go? Your way, or her way. That's really the question here."
Inez Feltscher | Independent Women’s Forum
When Thomas Jefferson made the case for state-supported public schooling to Benjamin Franklin and other skeptics, he emphasized the necessity of turning young students into fully-fledged citizens. If our new form of government was to survive, Jefferson argued, it would need to be buttressed by an education system that taught the virtues of self-government. Public schooling was to become “the keystone in the arch” of our new constitutional republic.
Education was never meant to be values-neutral, and recent decades have shown that the public schools are indeed aggressively teaching a set of values to the almost 90 percent of American kids who travel through their halls. They’re just not the small-r republican values Jefferson had in mind.
Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute, along with several colleagues, conducted an informal survey of the mission statements of the 100 largest school districts in the U.S. It’s clear that school districts are advertising the preparation they offer for material success after K-12: the word “college” appears in 37 of those 100 statements, and “career” appears in 46. By contrast, the words “patriotic” or “patriotism,” and “America” appear in none, and a large majority make no mention even of citizenship.
Little wonder, then, that the graduates of our public schools know little about the system of government Jefferson’s contemporaries designed. Only a quarter of Americans can name the three branches of the federal government. Only one in three can pass the U.S. citizenship test administered to immigrants who apply for citizenship, but for graduates of a more recent vintage, under the age of 45, just 19 percent passed.
To the extent that civics is taught, it emphasizes grievance and activism, rather than core knowledge about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. These days, just noting that the original purpose of the common schools (forerunners to today’s vast public system) was to instill a knowledge and love of country is deeply controversial.
But shaping character — moral and public — is an inextricable educational goal. In pretending that education should be value-neutral to appease a pluralistic society, we’ve actually ceded the institution most important in shaping hearts and minds to one side of the political spectrum.
Instead, the answer in a large and diverse nation should be to empower families to choose an education for their children that supports, not fights, the values they teach around their dinner tables. And when we evaluate schools and educational programs, we should be looking at whether graduates demonstrate qualities that make them good citizens over improvements in standardized test scores.
Parents already know this. It’s why they consistently rank standardized test scores at the bottom of reasons to choose a school, well below factors such as religious instruction, moral and character development, and a safe environment.
Policymakers and researchers are starting to catch up to families. A recent study on a Milwaukee school choice program found, for the second time, large decreases in criminal conviction rates between graduates of the program and meticulously-matched public school students. Even more shockingly, researchers found a 38 percent decrease in a student’s likelihood of being involved in a paternity suit as a young adult, indicating that school choice recipients are either having fewer children out of wedlock, or at minimum, not shirking the duties of parenthood when they are.
Raising intact families and following the law are both vastly more important to being a good citizen than math scores.
If we are facing a crisis of citizenship and patriotism today, it is because conservatives chose short-term political victories over slow-burn cultural institutions. In some states, education is so undervalued on the right that Republican leadership has to beg state elected officials to take education committee chairmanships. School choice has had some “wins” — the majority of states now boast at least one private choice program — but those successes are still a drop in the bucket compared to the larger system.
Conservatives must realize that their future political victories are contingent on breaking the public school ideological monopoly and re-educating America’s students about the greatness of the country they live in. By empowering parents with choice, we’re not just improving test scores of those worst served by the public system. Instead, we’re ensuring that future voters are prepared to shoulder the heavy burden of citizenship in the freest, most prosperous republic in human history.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.
Source: The Daily Caller
CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter started off “Reliable Sources” with a dizzying mix of thoughts and accusations Sunday. One of them being this: Is Fox News mentally unhealthy?
He announced that Fox News has suspended Jeanine Pirro for questioning Rep. Ilhan Omar‘s (D-Minn.) patriotism. This came on the heels of several morning tweets from President Trump in which he praised Pirro and insisted that the network bring her back. So far, the network has said nothing about firing Pirro.
“For the record, if Tucker Carlson is watching, I don’t want Fox to shut down,” Stelter told his three-member panel, which consisted of a NYT White House reporter, a deafening liberal media reporter who has absolutely no volume control and an ex-President Obama official, all of whom vociferously agree with Stelter or otherwise suck up to him. He won’t bring on guests who disagree with him.
But please…let him continue.
“I just want Fox News to be a healthy part of the media ecosystem, and the spread of misinformation that happens on these programs is unhealthy,” he said. “I think it’s as simple as that.”
Hey Brian, please get over yourself. Number 1: Tucker, who consistently refers to you as a “the eunich,” doesn’t watch your show. Whatever clips or information he needs, he gets from his staff. He doesn’t spend his Sundays hanging on your ever word or your any word. He hasn’t watched TV in years. Number 2: Your degree from Towson University in mass communication and working on the school paper don’t qualify you to assess anyone’s psychological fitness. Number 3: Your brand of journalism on a daily, weekly basis is biased. You have no business presenting yourself as otherwise. Number 4: Has it ever dawned on you that you may want to get yourself psychologically evaluated?
I’m sure CNN’s actual MD, Sanjay Gupta, could arrange it.
“Stelter is a cancer in the media ecosystem,” said a journalism industry veteran. “He is a ridiculous figure and helps spreads misinformation while kissing up to everyone outside of Fox.”
For the past few years, Stelter has been relentlessly questioning Trump’s sanity and mental stability. He’s not a psychiatrist. He has no degree in any field even touching on psychology. He’s totally unqualified to diagnose anyone, let alone an entire news network. But he bloviates. He pretends to have some mental prowess as he runs around to all the shows playing CNN’s resident psychiatrist and uttering CNN President Jeff Zucker‘s talking points. (RELATED: CNN Chief Media Correspondent Declares Trump Untrustworthy)
Each week Stelter routinely insults Fox News. He makes it part of his mission. Part of the reason he spouted off on Fox News’s so-called “mental health” on Sunday was that he couldn’t bear Trump’s morning tweets. Former State Department Chairman Hillary Clinton favored MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who swoons in the presences of Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who also prefers MSNBC. (RELATED: ‘Madness’ — CNN’s Brian Stelter Claims Trump Is Mentally Unfit)
Do any left-wing media reporters like Stelter criticize them for their preferences?
“Bring back @JudgeJeanine,” Trump tweeted. “The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well. Fox ….must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die! Stay true …to the people that got you there. Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine. Your competitors are jealous – they all want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!”
Not sure which words got under Stelter’s skin most — losers, Fake News Media, Tucker or Judge Jeanine.
“So that’s where we are, the President telling his favorite network to stick it out,” Stelter told viewers.
His panelists all provided stuffing for Stelter’s views.
Katie Rodgers, a White House reporter for the New York Times, said Trump is a Pirro fanboy, which is news to no one.
“He watches it every week,” she said of Pirro’s Saturday night show. “We know he tunes in every week. It’s a prime time Saturday night thing for him. …To cut this sort of oxygen off is a big deal for him.”
Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik was very ZURAWIK, if you know what I mean. He didn’t really finish all his thoughts, but here’s what came roaring out of his mouth.
“I’M NOT SURPRISED,” he shouted.”I THINK THEM SUSPENDING HER AND THE PRESIDENT SENDING OUT THESE REMARKABLE, JUST UTTERLY REMARKABLE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TELLING THE CABLE CHANNEL WHAT TO DO WITH THREE TWEETS IN A ROW. .. I REALLY THINK IT’S A BOTTOM LINE EFFECT. …LOOK YOU TAKE ADS OUT OF PRIMETIME AND YOU MOVE THEM TO ANOTHER DAY PART, YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT A SMALLER AUDIENCE. YOU CAN’T KEEP DOING THAT FOREVER.”
The final panelist for Stelter’s anti-Fox News segment was Nayyera Haq, a former senior director in Obama’s White House. Can you even imagine what she might say? She despises Pirro and the network on which she appears.
“Judge Pirro’s show is not a news show,” she said. “It is an opinion show. …It would be shocking, I think, if, after her comments about Muslims having not being part of the fabric of American life, and not being able to be loyal to America, …if she was on air having to either apologize, which I don’t think that anybody at Fox is ready for her to do publicly, or, for her to double down,” Haq said. “Either way, the comments she had made last week about Ilhan Omar were part of a broader fabric of how people are justifying the attacks on immigrants, the attacks on immigration policy and are part and parcel of a white nationalist rhetoric. So probably better for all involved that she wasn’t on TV last night.”
Stelter wanted to know if Carlson’s segment on Carusone was “just a distraction.”
Zurawik had a lot to say:
“BRIAN I THINK IT’S MUCH WORSE THAN A DISTRACTION. …I LOOKED AT IT AND I THOUGHT, I WAS SO DISPIRITED,” he said, adding that it reminded him of the fights that used to occur between ex-FNCers Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck, which he said was a “LOW POINT” for cable news.”I THOUGHT OF 2009 … IT WAS ALMOST AS IF THEY WERE PUTTING A BOUNTY ON EACH OTHER. …THAT’S EXACTLY WHERE TUCKER CARLSON WAS TAKING THIS THING.”
But getting back to Carlson, Zurawik shouted, “WHAT HE SAID ON BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE IT’S SICKENING, IT’S DISGUSTING, IT’S VILE AND SAYS SO MUCH ABOUT WHAT KIND OF PERSON HE IS.”
Stelter played a clip of Carlson saying most outlets want to shut down Fox News.
“That’s not what I want,” Stelter emoted to his panel, looking painfully distressed. “Do you want that?”
Actually for Zurawik, who never misses a chance to kiss up to Stelter, yes, that’s precisely what he wants. He said if this gets rid of the likes of Carlson, then so be it. He also said Trump is clearly lecturing Fox News.
Which eventually led to Stelter’s sublimely ridiculous quote about Fox News’s mental health.
“For the record, if Tucker Carlson is watching, I don’t want Fox to shut down. I just want Fox News to be a healthy part of the media ecosystem, and the spread of misinformation that happens on these programs is unhealthy. I think it’s as simple as that.”
Source: The Daily Caller
On Thursday, the Connecticut Supreme Court created a dangerous new exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a strong safeguard for our right to keep and bear arms.
Repealing or judicially nullifying the PLCAA has been a priority for the gun ban lobby ever since the law was enacted in 2005. Thursday’s decision, while not binding beyond Connecticut, provides a possible roadmap for those hoping to circumvent the PLCAA’s protections against frivolous and untested legal claims against the firearm industry.
The case is Soto v. Bushmaster.
The PLCAA was enacted to protect the firearms industry against a highly-orchestrated and coordinated series of lawsuits that sought to either bankrupt the industry or force it to “voluntarily” adopt the sorts of measures gun control activists had unsuccessfully sought to impose by legislation.
While anti-gunners like to portray the PLCAA as providing “extraordinary” or “unparalleled” legal protection to gun makers and sellers, in reality it simply ensures that activist courts cannot create a firearm-specific exemption to well established principles of law. The most important of these is, as the Connecticut Supreme Court put it, “the general rule that an individual cannot be held liable for the conduct of others.”
Gun control activists, however, have long sought to hold firearm manufacturers and sellers accountable for the crimes of third-parties who obtain and illegally use the guns they sell. The theory would be similar to the victim of a drunk driver suing the manufacturer or dealer of the vehicle the driver happened to be operating at time.
This theory is unsurprisingly almost always a legal loser, absent unusual circumstances demonstrating a link between the merchant and the criminal or specific warning signs the merchant was aware of but chose to ignore when selling the gun to the person who later misused it.
Nevertheless, winning the cases was never really the point. The point was instead to get enough litigants in different jurisdictions to gang up on the manufacturers so that they would go out of business or give up defending the lawsuits before the cases ever got before a jury.
The PLCAA put an end to this, while still allowing for liability for those who knowingly engage in bad conduct. For example, it contains exceptions for marketing a defective product, entrusting a firearm or ammunition to someone unfit to have it, or breaking a law “applicable to the sale or marketing of the [firearm or ammunition],” and thereby causing the plaintiff’s injuries.
The plaintiffs in Soto v. Bushmaster are survivors and representatives of those killed in the terrible murders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. in 2012.
They advanced a variety of legal theories as to why the PLCAA did not apply to their claims.
A trial judge dismissed all of these claims in an October 2016 ruling, which we reported on at the time.
The plaintiffs then appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which in a closely divided 4 to 3 ruling, found a pathway for the case to proceed.
The high court’s majority opinion focused on the exception for the violation of laws “applicable to the sale or marketing of the [firearm or ammunition]” that result in the plaintiff’s injuries.
In so doing, it had to resolve the question of whether that exception applies only to gun specific laws (like the ones used as examples in the act itself) or whether it could apply to any law that might conceivably be invoked against the manufacture or sale of a firearm or ammunition.
The court chose the broadest reading of that language, finding that it applied to any law used to bring a case against a firearm manufacturer or seller, whether or not that law was enacted with firearms in mind or even whether or not it had previously been used in the context of a firearm related claim.
The law the plaintiffs invoked was the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), which prohibits any person from “engag[ing] in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.”
The plaintiffs advanced two theories as to how this applied to the defendants’ behavior.
First, they asserted that any sale of an AR-15 to the civilian population was necessarily a fraudulent commercial practice, because (so they claimed) such firearms have no legitimate civilian use.
Never mind the fact that the AR-15 is, by all accounts, the most popular centerfire rifle in America, that it is owned by millions of law-abiding people who use it for every legitimate purpose for which a gun can be used.
It is also notable with respect to this claim that Congress enacted the PLCAA the year after it allowed the Clinton Gun Ban to expire in 2004. Congress was well aware that gun control advocates hate AR-15s and similar guns and want them permanently banned, but it did not exempt them from the PLCAA’s protection. Indeed, an important principle underlying the PLCAA is that the legislatures get to determine how to regulate firearms, not the courts.
The Connecticut Supreme Court, however, did not decide whether the sales and marketing of AR-15s to the general public is inherently fraudulent, finding only that the statute of limitations had expired on that particular claim. But the court at least left the door open for future such claims in other cases.
The second CUTPA theory the plaintiffs advanced was the outrageous accusation that Bushmaster intentionally marketed its version of the AR-15 to school shooters and other violent criminals and that the perpetrator of the Newtown crimes choose to use that gun at least in part because of this.
The supposed evidence the plaintiffs used for this claim was Remington ad copy that used militaristic images and language, appeals to patriotism, references to the gun’s use and proofing in combat.
These are, of course, the same advertising techniques used to sell any number of other lawful products to law-abiding people, from pants, to sunglasses, to boots, to vehicles. The fact that a customer might appreciate knowing that an item – especially one for use in protecting his or her home and loved ones – performed well under demanding circumstances is hardly proof that it is purposely being marketed to deranged killers.
But that premise was enough for the Connecticut Supreme Court to require the defendants in the case to spend millions of dollars defending themselves from what is certain to be prolonged and costly litigation that publicly portrays the companies and their products in the most negative ways possible.
This was so, even though the majority acknowledged CUTPA had never been used to bring a firearm-related case in Connecticut and indeed had never even been applied to a personal injury case.
And if there was any remaining doubt about where the majority stood on the issue of AR-15s, they also included a totally unnecessary commentary suggesting the limits of the Second Amendment, which wasn’t even raised as an issue in the case. In particular, the court opined, “It is not at all clear … the second amendment’s protections even extend to the types of … rifles at issue in the present case.”
To their credit, three judges dissented from the majority opinion as it applied to the ability to use CUTPA to circumvent the PLCAA, even as they indicated their own disagreement with the choices Congress made with the Act. “It is not the province of this court, under the guise of statutory interpretation, to legislate a particular policy, even if it were to agree that it is a better policy than the one endorsed by the legislature as reflected in its statutory language,” the Chief Judge wrote in his dissent.
With the viability of the PLCAA now in jeopardy, it is likely the defendants will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether any intervention comes quickly enough to save the gun industry from a renewed campaign of frivolous litigation remains to be seen.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Source: The Daily Caller
Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter
Retired Marine Corps bomb technician and double amputee Joey Jones appeared on “Fox & Friends” Friday to debate the merits of playing the national anthem at sporting events.
“It’s not faux patriotism. She makes some good points. We get lazy about it and nothing bothers me more than when someone’s walking around and chewing gum or like she said, hitting one of those smoke machines during the national anthem,” Jones said. “But at the end of the day isn’t that more reason why we should demand or at least put societal pressure on one another to respect it, stop what you’re doing for a moment and remember, hey there are men and women that lost their lives for this.”
Jones said the anthem still carries emotional weight for people, especially those who have lost relatives on the battlefield. (RELATED: Airport Travelers Stop, Stand And Sing National Anthem For Children Of Fallen Service Members)
“One thing I would say to her is that when I’m at one of those sporting events, it means something to me. When gold star moms and dads are at those events it means something to them,” he continued. “And for that reason alone it’s something that we should continue to do.”
Jones said the anthem is also symbolic of the unity we achieve when we put politics aside and gather together for a ballgame.
“We can talk about vouchers and school choice and all those things that would remedy those problems. But for a moment, why don’t we come together before a sporting event,” he said. “Something that is nothing more than a game. Yet, we put all this passion into it and that anthem right before this game reminds us wow, there’s something bigger than this. All this passion we feel we could put into this each other.”
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Source: The Daily Caller
Military honour guards attend a flag-lowering ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
March 15, 2019
By James Pomfret and Yimou Lee
HONG KONG/TAIPEI (Reuters) – As Beijing grows wary of pro-independence groups seeking to forge closer ties in Hong Kong and Taiwan, activists say they are coming under increased surveillance and harassment from pro-China media outlets and unofficial “operatives.”
Visits to Taiwan in January by several Hong Kong activists including Tony Chung generated heavy coverage by two pro-China newspapers, including detailed reports of their movements and meetings.
The coverage prompted Taiwan to investigate the activities of the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao newspapers on “national security” grounds.
The government found that the papers committed “unlawful” acts, including invasive surveillance, and spread “fake news.” Officials said journalists from those papers would be banned from traveling to Taiwan for up to three years if the media outlets did not provide a “reasonable explanation” for their activities there.
A Reuters examination of both papers’ articles show that at least 25 people linked to anti-China and independence causes have been the subject of intense coverage, including covert photography and the reporting of personal details, in Taiwan during the past three years.
Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Such papers, which typically take a pro-Beijing stance, would be expected to pay close attention to activists pursuing causes that upset the Chinese government.
But activists say their coverage stretches into the realm of harassment, including surveillance on overseas trips, and publishing details of their private lives, including homes, work and daily movements.
“It’s obvious that there’s intervention from outside forces with an aim to intimidate people,” Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng told Reuters, referring to the coverage from the pro-China papers.
The coverage raised concerns about the activities of “Chinese and Hong Kong intelligence operatives” on the island, Chiu added, including people working for pro-China media outlets.
Activists have also been physically attacked during trips to Taiwan.
In July 2018, two Taiwanese were convicted of assaulting Hong Kong activists meeting with independence advocates in Taiwan. Three Hong Kong men were later named in Taiwanese media coverage as helping facilitate the attack.
“I was followed until I almost left the airport,” Andy Chan, one of the Hong Kong activists, said of his time in Taiwan. “There are operatives for China everywhere.”
China considers Hong Kong and Taiwan to be inalienable parts of its territory, and has branded pro-independence activists on both sides of the Taiwan Strait as “separatists.”
In an annual report to the U.S. Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted in November that since president Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, Beijing has feared “collusion between ‘separatist forces’ in Taiwan and Hong Kong.”
“Beijing is trying everything in its power to prevent this,” said a security source in the Taiwan government, who declined to be named given the sensitivity of the issue.
The source and a second Taiwanese security official involved in national security say China has been quietly ramping up the number of intelligence operatives in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Wu Jieh-min, a Taiwan scholar who has researched civil movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, says he was barred from entering Hong Kong for an academic conference in late 2016.
Beijing is “very worried about the exchange of ideas. If the ideas of civil society are not hindered, their power will be greatly enhanced,” said Wu, a research fellow with the government-backed Academia Sinica.
Wu noted that mass, protracted protests in Taiwan and Hong Kong in 2014 that railed against Chinese interference were a catalyst for deepening activist ties on both sides.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and main representative body in Hong Kong, the Liaison Office, did not respond to requests for comment.
The Wen Wei Po has also paid close attention to foreigners in contact with Hong Kong activists.
In December, Wen Wei Pao reporters and photographers covered the daily activities of Kevin Carrico, an Australia-based political scientist, during a visit to Hong Kong in which he met with independence advocates, and featured him on the front page.
“I was a little creeped out by the fact that the article discussed my presentation. There were only 15 people there,” he said of a private meeting in the basement of a Hong Kong building.
He said there had been “a real escalation of Beijing’s political operations in Hong Kong.”
Activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan describe an increase in unknown individuals shadowing their meetings and events, sometimes taking photographs or recording their conversations.
In some cases activists have been attacked, and the assailants identified.
Two Taiwanese, Zhang Xiuye and Jhang Jhih-min, were found guilty last July of a 2016 assault on two Hong Kong independence activists, Andy Chan and Jason Chow, at a Taipei hotel.
Zhang and Jhang were convicted of defamation and fined T$6,000 ($195) and T$8,000 ($260) respectively; Jhang was also found guilty of “intimidating and endangering the safety” of Chan.
Zhang and Jhang were among at least eight people who beat Chan and Chow and called them China “traitors” at the Caesar Park Hotel, according to Taipei court documents.
Chan told Reuters he was at the hotel to meet with Ouyang Jin, a journalist with a little-known Hong Kong publication called Pacific Magazine.
Zhang is a senior member of the Chinese Concentric Patriotism Party, which advocates unification of China and Taiwan, according to the group’s website.
“It was purely an accident” that they ran into Chan at the hotel, Zhang told Reuters.
($1 = 7.8484 Hong Kong dollars)
($1 = 30.7550 Taiwan dollars)
(Additional reporting by Jessie Pang in Hong Kong and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Gerry Doyle)
Traders display a sari, a traditional clothing worn by women, with printed images of India’s Prime Minister and Indian Army inside their shop in Surat, India, March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave
March 8, 2019
By Amit Dave
SURAT, India (Reuters) – Indian sari manufacturers are cashing in on a wave of patriotism over a dispute with arch-foe Pakistan to create military-emblazoned versions of the traditional woman’s drape.
Inside a smoky factory in the western city of Surat, machines run 24 hours a day to churn out fabrics showing jets and the face of an air force pilot shot down in a dog fight with the neighboring rival.
Both nations said they downed jets, with Pakistan capturing a pilot, in a long-running conflict over the Kashmir region.
At Annapurna Industries, workers toil in three shifts to meet demand for saris, which retail at around 850 rupees ($12).
One version features Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the mustachioed pilot who crash-landed in Pakistan-controlled territory, becoming the face of the conflict.
He returned to India on March 1 to a hero’s welcome and the flare up has eased for now.
“I had only expected orders for some 500 saris,” said Manish Agrawal, a director at Annapurna Industries. “But it’s already crossed 4,000 and still more orders are pouring in.”
Another manufacturer, Jamkudi Sarees, has prepared five new designs to meet the high demand. These are detailed, if exaggerated, depictions of warplanes flying into Pakistan, inspired by a Feb. 26 attack on suspected militants.
“I prepared one design in only four hours after our surgical strike into Pakistan. It usually takes seven days to make such a design,” said Vinod Surana, the owner of Jamkudi Sarees.
“It’s been a hit.”
Surat, a textile manufacturing hub, is located in Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom pollsters say has benefited politically from the tensions with Pakistan ahead of a general election due by May.
(Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
Supporters of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) light fireworks to celebrate after Indian authorities said their jets conducted airstrikes on militant camps in Pakistani territory, in Prayagraj, India, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
February 26, 2019
By Krishna N. Das and Devjyot Ghoshal
JAMMU/NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) – Indians took to the streets in celebration across the country on Tuesday after the government said it carried out air strikes inside Pakistan killing hundreds of militants in a training camp.
The reaction may be a sign that support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi is surging months before a general election, pollsters said. Patriotism may be having a greater influence than concerns about low farm incomes and weak jobs growth.
India said air force jets hit a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the militant group that claimed credit for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing attack that killed Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir, a mountainous region also claimed by neighboring Pakistan.
“A very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists” were killed, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
Pakistan said there had been no casualties at all.
While the results of the strikes in the early hours of Tuesday were disputed, that didn’t stop many in India from believing their government’s version of events.
“Modi ji has finally done it”, said Sandeep Sharma, a driver in the Jammu region of India’s border state of Jammu and Kashmir, using an honorific for Modi. “There’s a lot of anger against Pakistan here.”
India’s opposition leaders, many of whom have banded together against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), congratulated the Indian Air Force (IAF), though they stopped short of praising Modi.
“I salute the pilots of the IAF,” Rahul Gandhi, leader of India’s main opposition Congress, said in a tweet.
In a village 100 metres from the Line of Control (LoC) that acts as the de facto border with Pakistan, men gathered around a bunker for security forces that is under construction and shouted slogans hailing India.
“We will celebrate tonight,” one said, “We have lost so many of our villagers to Pakistani firing.”
Shelling across the LoC has occurred frequently over the past few years but incursions into the other country’s air space are rare – let alone an attack well into Pakistan.
Modi has been under pressure to retaliate since the suicide car bombing in Kashmir’s Pulwama, which India alleges was orchestrated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, and tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors have escalated in recent days.
Tuesday’s strike will not only boost Modi’s campaign in the election due by May, political analysts said, but also take the spotlight off economic issues for which the BJP has felt the heat.
“I think this is going to boost the electoral prospects of the BJP because people are generally in a celebration mood, that the government has been able to teach a lesson to Pakistan,” said Sanjay Kumar, director of the CSDS think-tank and a leading pollster.
The BJP lost a string of state elections late last year, after which opposition parties have attempted to form a coalition to take on Modi.
And although his ratings have dropped to their lowest-ever level, Modi remains the most popular leader in the country, an India Today poll showed last month.
“A large proportion of voters who had started drifting away from the BJP would come back to the fold,” Kumar said. “This all goes to the advantage of the BJP.”
Also many BJP supporters who had become disillusioned with the party would feel relief, said Bhawesh Jha, founder of CNX, one of India’s largest polling companies.
“… They will work hard to ensure the victory of Narendra Modi,” Jha said. “Since this is happening so close to the election, Pulwama will be the biggest issue.”
As news of the strike emerged, India’s television channels flashed patriotic slogans and headlines including TIMES NOW’s “Proud moment for undefeatable Bharat”, using a Hindi word for India.
Some recalled the so-called “surgical strike” on suspected militant camps in Pakistan in 2016 after an attack by militants on an Indian army camp.
On Twitter, #SurgicalStrike2, #IndianAirForce and #IndiaStrikesBack were the top trending hash tags in India.
By the afternoon, shortly after India’s foreign ministry provided some details of the strike, Modi spoke to a large crowd at an election rally in Churu, in the western state of Rajasthan.
“I can assure you that India is in safe hands,” he said from a podium placed before a collage of photographs of members of security forces who had died in Kashmir this month.
“Modi, Modi, Modi,” the crowd shouted back.
(Writing by Zeba Siddiqui and Devjyot Ghoshal in NEW DELHI; Edited by Martin Howell and Nick Macfie)
President Donald Trump and ex-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are still sparring, with Trump slamming the retired Nevada lawmaker as being a leader through "lies and deception" after CNN aired an interview Monday with Reid calling Trump the nation's worst president.
"Former Senator Harry Reid (he got thrown out) is working hard to put a good spin on his failed career," Trump tweeted minutes after the segment aired. "He led through lies and deception, only to be replaced by another beauty, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer. Some things just never change!"
Reid, 79, retired from the Senate a few weeks before Trump was inaugurated, after having been first elected to the House in 1982 and the Senate in 1986, becoming the Democratic leader in 2005.
Reid, who said he is in remission from pancreatic cancer, has not backed down from his slams on Trump, telling CNN's Dana Bash that he wishes his former foe, President George W. Bush, was in office "every day."
"He and I had our differences, but no one ever questioned his patriotism. Our battles were strictly political battles," Reid said. "There's no question in my mind that George Bush would be Babe Ruth in this league that he's in with Donald Trump in the league. Donald Trump wouldn't make the team."
Further, he said in the interview, recorded late last week that he has trouble accepting Trump "as a person" and doesn't see anything right.
He told Bash he misses "the battle" and follows the news, but as for being in office and sparring with Trump, "that's not for me now."
However, he dismissed calls for Trump's impeachment as a "waste of time," because Republicans control the Senate and are too "afraid" of Trump to get involved.