A top Republican who sits on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation has a severe warning about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations stating war could start in a short period of time.
According to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), armed conflict between the United States and China is imminent.
“I would predict there will be a clash within the next three to six months,” Yoho told the Washington Examiner.
Relations with China have begun to deteriorate in recent years. Those ties have rapidly diminished due to President Donald Trump’s trade war with Beijing as well as the recent pandemic. If that’s not enough, FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed last week, that China has stepped up its espionage efforts against the U.S., forcing the FBI to open a new China-related counterintelligence investigation every 10 hours.
The FBI has also previously discussed several suspicious encounters where Chinese nationals were trying to smuggle viruses out of the U.S, Yahoo News reported.
According to one document, an unknown Chinese man was caught transporting biological vials of MERS and SARS labeled “antibodies” after being stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro airport.
This doesn’t include the case in January, where the head of Harvard University’s chemistry department, Charles Lieber, was federally charged with failing to disclose funding from the Chinese government, after he hid his involvement in China’s “Thousand Talents Program,” along with Chinese nationals.
The FBI’s report also specifically uses the words, “biosecurity risk” when describing China, which is typically used to refer to the intentional misuse of pathogens, such as for bioterrorism and biosafety, which covers accidental release according to the World Health Organization.
Several national security experts have said China is waging a “cold war” against the U.S., however, Yoho thinks a pending attack is coming and it will be anything but “cold.”
The Florida Republican predicted that armed conflict will be triggered by a Chinese naval attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which often commands a strong presence in the South China Sea.
“Knowing China, I think what they would do is ram one of our ships and say it was a mistake,” Yoho told the Examiner.
“To sink a carrier would be a huge mistake, to attack any of our ships would be a huge mistake, but I think they’re willing to risk that to test the waters,” he explained. “And unfortunately, people will die. It would just be a mistake if they did that, for them.”
Last year, Senior Chinese military official Dai Xu (戴旭), threatened U.S. Navy vessels in the South China Sea, recommending that China should attack the ships. This was after the U.S. sent a Navy destroyer the USS McCampbell into the contested Chinese waters, near the disputed islands in the South China Sea during ongoing trade talks in what China called a “provocation,” Reuters reported.
Xu recommended aggressive action against the U.S. if it “breaks into Chinese waters again” stating the following: “If the U.S. warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it… In our territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to create disturbance,” Taiwan News reported.
Over the past few weeks, several events have elevated the U.S. geopolitical tension with China, which since the Obama administration has been in turmoil after failed diplomatic discussions. It all started in 2012 when China and the Philippines engaged in a lengthy maritime feud which resulted in rejections of the verdict by China in 2016, increasing the chances of potential conflict in the region.
In 2016, an arbitration court ruled that China had(s) no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and that it in doing so breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its actions.
China reacted by boycotting the proceedings, rejecting them and stating that the ruling was “ill-founded.”
One year later in 2017, China announced the creation of two Chinese-controlled international maritime courts that would be used to provide China’s interpretation of maritime law, Epoch Times reported.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte responded by stating that the man-made islands aren’t pointed at them.
“It’s not intended for us. The contending ideological powers of the world or the geopolitics has greatly changed. It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think would destroy them and that is America,” Duterte noted. “We did nothing.”
China insists that it has “historic rights” over the region which the countries dispute.
For centuries various countries have fought over the territory in the South China Sea – two specific island chains known as Paracels and the Spratlys – and fought over areas alongside the sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China). These waters are a main import and export point that allows the passing of five trillions of dollars worth of global trade flow annually through the waters, according to Forbes.
“It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all have laid competing claims to the area.
Beijing states its right to the area goes back centuries to when the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation. In 1947 the Communist nation issued a map detailing its claims.
However, in the past few years, China has begun building man-made islands that many countries and U.S. officials have disputed as being military bases.
It’s also worth mentioning that in 2018, one single day after signing the economic tariffs and China retaliating, the U.S. sent the USS Mustin destroyer within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-claimed islands, which China warned off, Asia Times reported.
In November of last year, the U.S. also quietly sent two naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait four days after the Taiwanese elections, with little coverage from the press, Taiwan News reported.
Right now it’s just the potential for a trade war, but things could escalate well past economic sanctions; and Beijing’s state media has previously warned any attempt to prevent China accessing its interests in the region of the South China Sea could risk sparking a “large-scale war.”
Last week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said U.S. policy on China is based on “ill-informed strategic miscalculation” and “is fraught with emotions and whims and McCarthyist bigotry.” The foreign ministry also said that Washington’s belief that China is a threat “may turn into self-fulfilling prophecies at the end of the day.”
Last year, China’s President Xi Jinping ordered the Chinese armed forces People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to enhance their combat readiness to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests after the U.S. had issued a travel warning to China stating Americans were at risk to arbitrary and indefinite detention.
“The world is facing a period of major changes never seen in a century, and China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development,” Xi said, to the Central Military Commission (CMC) warning that various risks and challenges were on the rise. “The entire armed forces should have a correct understanding of China’s security and development trends, enhance their awareness of danger, crisis and war, and make solid efforts on combat preparations in order to accomplish the tasks assigned by the Party and the people,” Xi added according to a press release.
This followed the test of China’s dubbed Mother Of All Bombs, (MOAB) only a day prior, according to the official Xinhua news agency which described the bomb as the “Chinese version of the ‘Mother of all Bombs,’” Dawn reported.
According to Yoho, Beijing is talking tough only because the U.S. is standing up to the communist country.
“The United States is willing to stand up to them, and that may force China’s hand,” Yoho told the Examiner. “That’ll be something that they will lose, and they will regret, but we can’t be intimidated because that might happen. I think the real threat is, if we don’t do anything, we know that it’ll happen. And then, that’ll give more strength to China to keep doing what they’re doing. So, you know, let’s just hope that diplomacy works and China backs off.”
Colombian Govt Wants To Legalize Cocaine And Then Sell It
This article was originally published On Dec 3, 2020
Colombia is one of the most notorious producers of cocaine in the world, despite the fact that the country has gone to great lengths in hopes of diminishing the trade of the drug trade within its borders.
Now, some members of the Columbian government are proposing a new approach. They are calling for the drug to be legalized and for the government to take control of the industry for themselves.
In a new bill first proposed earlier this year, senators Iván Marulanda and Feliciano Valencia call for the Colombian government to take total control of the cocaine industry to bolster public funds and cut violent cartels out of the trade.
In a recent interview with VICE, Marulanda explained that the government would purchase coca at market price from the 200,000 farming families that are believed to be involved in the trade.
Columbia is considering a bill that makes the government buy up and sell the country’s cocaine production.
HOLY. SHIT. So instead try to stamp out drugs, Columbia tries to take control of the trade and regulate the problem? https://t.co/8SBmE45dmX
— Jason Ng (@ByJasonNg) December 2, 2020
The senators argued that it would actually be cheaper for authorities to buy the crop from the farmers than it would for them to destroy their crops. It costs the government roughly $1 billion every year to destroy coca crops, while it would only cost about $680 million to buy it.
“The thing is, we have to recover control over the state. We’re losing control of the state to corruption, narcos in politics. They’re in municipalities, in departments and in congress. All the way to the highest echelons of government,” Marulanda explained.
From here, the state would supply cocaine to users and research groups looking to study its use for painkillers, but it would not be sold recreationally. However, cocaine use is already legal in Columbia, after a court ruled that personal consumption was a human right.
Marulanda is not sure if his bill will make an impact, or how long it will take to gain traction, but he is hoping to make it a major election issue in 2022.
‘The first big obstacle is to open up the conversation among public opinion. This has been a giant taboo. Colombians are born and raised under this assumption that drug-trafficking is a war. There’s no information about coca and cocaine. So, with this bill we hope to open the conversation,” he explained.
In recent years, the government has stepped up their military-police-style enforcement of the industry, and yet cocaine production continues to grow in the country.
Coca cultivation reached 212,000 hectares last year, a rise of nearly 2% from 208,000 hectares the year before, according to figures released by the White House in March. Potential pure cocaine production, meanwhile, rose to 951 metric tons, an 8% increase, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s pretty remarkable that they manually eradicated 100,000 hectares last year and didn’t move the needle,” Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America think tank said earlier this year. “I guess it means replanting has at least kept pace.”
It seems that no matter what the government does, the cocaine keeps on coming, so politicians are willing to try things that may drastic. However, as Marulanda pointed out in his interview with Vice, cutting out the criminal middlemen will reduce the violence seen in the country’s drug war, and also make the drug safer for the people who use it.
Another Little Black Book That Once Belonged To Epstein With New Names Is Found
It is well-known that the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein kept detailed records of all the powerful people that he stayed in contact with. There is a notorious “little black book” that was published by Gawker in 2015, which exposed many of the powerful people in his circle. This book is believed to contain the contacts that he most frequently called around 2004 and 2005. However, a new list of contacts, recently published by The Insider, reveals new names that were friends with Epstein in the 1990s.
The new black book has the names of 349 people, many of whom did not appear in the list that was previously released to the public.
Among the names on the list are Suzanne Ircha, who’s married to Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, famous wall street investor Carl Icahn, supermarket owner John A. Catsimatidis, actress Morgan Fairchild, former New Republic owner Marty Peretz; and Cristina Greeven, the wife of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
The new black book was made public through a strange twist of fate. A woman initially found the book in the late 1990s and saved it for many years until she finally sold it on eBay.
Denise Ondayko, the woman who found the book, said she was walking down Fifth Avenue in the mid-’90s when she spotted a black address book on the ground. She said that she didn’t realize it was Epstein’s book at the time, because he was pretty much unknown to the public, but she did realize that it had a lot of famous names and figured that it might be worth something, so she held onto it.
Last year, Ondayko was cleaning out an old storage unit where she was keeping some of her things and she stumbled upon the book. Now that Epstein was all over the news, the information contained in the book was much more obvious to identify.
Ondayko said she reached out to everyone in the media that she could, including John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, and The New York Times, but none of them ever got back to her, so she eventually just put it up for sale on eBay.
The buyer was Chris Helali, an aspiring politician from Vermont. He purchased the book for $425.
Helali also tried reaching out to the media, including journalists that were already reporting on Epstein, but none of them seemed interested. Finally, Nick Bryant, the reporter who wrote the original Gawker black book story forwarded the book to the Insider who decided to publish.
Insider hired Dennis Ryan, a former forensic document examiner and laboratory supervisor for the Nassau County Police Department, to verify the authenticity of the book. Ryan says that the book is definitely from the late 90s, and many of the dates and addresses match up perfectly with Epstein’s properties and known contacts at the time.
The Insider also reached out to dozens of contacts listed in the book who had never previously been publicly associated with Epstein. Fourteen acknowledged on the record that they knew or had met Epstein in the ’90s.
There are over 120 names that appear in both books, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. Some of the other names included, Steve Rattner, Beth Anne Bovino, Dominique Bluhdorn, Jill Harth, Ted Field, Robert Nunnery, Stanley Shopkorn, Steve Ruchevsky, Ellen Susman, William and Ann Nitze, Les Gelb, Ron Daniel, Sandy Warner, Cyril Fung, Marius Fortelni, Michael Cutlip. Many of these names aren’t necessarily famous, but they are very powerful people in business and finance.
The address book is now available in a searchable database on the Insider, but it is unfortunately hidden behind a paywall.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s Lawyers Cite Cosby Case As Precedent To Have Her Released From Prison
Last week, former actor Bill Cosby was released from prison on a technicality, despite the fact that he admitted to drugging and assaulting multiple women, and was accused by many others. After his release, legal experts warned that the ruling could set a dangerous precedent that attorneys in similar cases would use to get their clients released as well.
Now, just a week later, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are arguing that she should have her case thrown out on the same grounds, according to The Guardian.
Cosby was released because the prosecutor involved initially didn’t press any charges, and claimed that Cosby would not be facing any legal trouble, so when Cosby later confessed, his confession was called into question and no longer admissible in court. The judge also ruled that Cosby had no chance of a fair trial because evidence that was not admissible was so freely available in the media that the jury was unable to make a judgment without considering those facts.
Maxwell’s case is similar because the first time that Epstein was arrested for human trafficking, he was given a sweetheart deal by Alex Acosta, a friendly prosecutor. The deal helped Epstein avoid any serious jail time, but it also gave him and his associates legal protection from being held accountable for any future crimes.
Obviously, it is not possible to shield a criminal from the consequences of actions that they will take in the future, so Epstein was arrested again many years later after it was discovered that he continued his crimes long after his initial arrest. If Epstein and his friends did have any kind of immunity from that deal, it ended when they continued to commit crimes after the deal was made.
Still, Maxwell’s lawyers are optimistic after Cosby’s recent release.
“The government is trying to renege on its agreement and prosecute Ms Maxwell over 25 years later for the exact same offenses for which she was granted immunity,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote in a statement to Judge Alison Nathan.
However, the judge has previously ruled that the deal did not apply to the current case.
In an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, Maxwell’s attorney David Oscar Markus wrote that releasing Bill Cosby from prison was the right decision, and that Ghislaine Maxwell should be released as well. Markus argued that prosecutors should have to keep the promises that they make to suspects, because people will sometimes incriminate themselves if they think they have immunity.
However, many times prosecutors are corrupt and make promises that are against the best interests of the public, as we saw in Jeffrey Epstein’s first “sweetheart deal” with Alex Acosta while he was district attorney in Southern, Florida. Prosecutors are lawyers, they aren’t the judge and jury, and they shouldn’t hold this much power in a case this serious.
Judge Alison Nathan has not yet responded to the recent request, but she did condemn the recent opinion piece that was published by her lawyers in the New York Daily News earlier this week.
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