China vows to protect its interests from ‘reckless’ US trade threats

China lashed out on Wednesday at renewed threats from the White House on trade, warning that it was ready to fight back if Washington was looking for a trade war, days ahead of a planned visit by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

In an unexpected change in tone, the United States said on Tuesday that it still held the threat of imposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China unless it addressed the issue of theft of American intellectual property.

Washington also said it will press ahead with restrictions on investment by Chinese companies in the United States as well as export controls for goods exported to China.

Its tougher stance comes as President Donald Trump prepares for a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose key diplomatic backer is China, and as Washington steps up efforts to counter what it sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

The trade escalation came after the two sides had agreed during talks in Washington this month to find steps to narrow China’s $375 billion trade surplus. Ross is expected to try to get China to agree to firm numbers to buy more U.S. goods during a June 2-4 visit to the Chinese capital.

“We urge the United States to keep its promise, and meet China halfway in the spirit of the joint statement,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing, adding that China would take “resolute and forceful” measures to protect its interests if Washington insists upon acting in an “arbitrary and reckless manner”.

“When it comes to international relations, every time a country does an about face and contradicts itself, it’s another blow to, and a squandering of, its reputation,” Hua said.

China has said it will respond in kind to threats by Trump to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods.

It was not clear if the developments would have any impact on the planned visit to China by Ross. China’s Foreign Ministry referred questions to the Commerce Ministry, which did not reply to a fax seeking comment.

Several U.S. officials arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for talks, according to a U.S. embassy spokeswoman, including Under Secretary of Agriculture Ted McKinney; the U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agricultural negotiator, Gregg Doud; and Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Alan Turley.

Trade war fears had receded after the Trump administration said it had reached a deal to put ZTE Corp back in business after banning China’s second-biggest telecoms equipment maker from buying U.S. technology parts for seven years.

The easing in tension had fueled optimism that agreement was imminent for Chinese antitrust clearance for San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc’s $44 billion purchase of Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors NV, which has been hanging in the balance amid the trade dispute.

A team of Qualcomm lawyers that is expecting to meet with Chinese regulators ahead of Ross’s arrival remained in San Diego as of late Tuesday, a source familiar with the matter said.

“On hold now,” another person familiar with Qualcomm’s talks with the Chinese government said on Wednesday, declining to be identified as the negotiations are confidential.

“Trump is crazy. Crazy tactics might work, though,” the person added.

TARIFFS AND TACTICS
William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the U.S. threat of tariffs appeared to have been “somewhat effective”.

“I don’t think it is only a tactic, personally,” he told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the group does not view tariffs as the best way to address the trade frictions.

“The thinking became that if the U.S. doesn’t have any leverage and there is no pressure on our Chinese friends, then we will not have serious negotiations.”

The Global Times, an influential tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said the United States was suffering from a “delusion” and warned that the “trade renege could leave Washington dancing with itself”.

State news agency Xinhua said China hoped that the United States would not act impulsively but stood ready to fight to protect its own interests.

“China will continue to hold pragmatic consultations with the United States’ delegation and hope that the United States will act in accordance with the spirit of the joint statement.”

Also on Tuesday, a White House official said the U.S. government plans to shorten the length of visas issued to some Chinese citizens as part of a strategy to prevent intellectual property theft by U.S. rivals.

Citing a document issued by the Trump administration in December, the official said the U.S. government would consider restrictions on visas for science and technology students from some countries.

Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Matthew Miller, Ben Blanchard, Dominique Patton and Yawen Chen in BEIJING; Writing by Ryan Woo and Tony Munroe; Editing by Kim Coghill

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WATCH: GOP strategist Steve Schmidt nukes ‘stone cold racist’ Trump and Roseanne on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt on Wednesday dropped a bomb on both Roseanne Barr and President Donald Trump — and called out both of them for blatant racism.

During a panel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Schmidt slammed Barr for her racist tweet saying former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett looked like an ape and he said she deserved to have her show canceled.

“It was a stone cold racist comment,” Schmidt said of Barr’s tweet. “It wasn’t a ‘joke.’ It was mean-spirited. It was vile.”

Schmidt then called out people who were heaping praise on network ABC for abruptly canceling her show given her past history of racist comments and her peddling of conspiracy theories.

“They knew exactly who they were getting in bed with,” he said.

Schmidt then turned his attention to President Donald Trump, who had frequently praised Barr for her willingness to support him despite facing accusations of racism. In particular, Schmidt said he was not surprised by Trump’s support because he and Barr share the same basic worldview.

“We shouldn’t be surprised… after Charlottesville, you talk about good Nazis,” he said, referring to Trump’s declaration that some of the Nazis marching in Charlottesville were “very fine people.” “When you go down to Alabama and do the NFL thing, which I said at the time is pretty proverbially pretty close to shouting the n-word in front of an all-white crowd in Alabama, he’s a stone-cold racist.”

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NFL tells players patriotism is more important than protest – here’s why that didn’t work during WWI

The recent decision by the NFL regarding player protests and the national anthem has yet again exposed the fraught relationship between African-Americans and patriotism.

The controversy has taken place nearly a century after another time when African-Americans painfully grappled with questions concerning loyalty to the nation and the struggle for equal rights.
In July 1918, at the height of American participation in World War I, W. E. B. Du Bois, the acclaimed black scholar, activist and civil rights leader, penned arguably the most controversial editorial of his career, “Close Ranks.”

“Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks shoulder to shoulder with our own white fellow citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy,” he advised his fellow African-Americans. Du Bois acknowledged that this was “no ordinary sacrifice,” but black people would nevertheless make it “gladly and willingly with our eyes lifted to the hills.”

Pressured from league owners, white fans and the president of the United States, black NFL players are now faced with the dilemma of closing ranks and forgetting their “special grievances,” or continuing to protest against racial injustice.

The history of African-Americans in World War I, as I have explored in my work, offers important lessons about how to confront this challenge.

The NFL, race and the national anthem
Last season, during the playing of the national anthem, dozens of NFL players kneeled, locked arms and raised their fists in protest against police and state-sanctioned violence inflicted upon African-Americans. Their actions elicited a fierce backlash, much of it fueled by President Donald Trump, who encouraged his overwhelmingly white base of supporters to boycott the NFL so long as players, in his view, continued to disrespect the flag. Seeking to avoid further controversy, on May 23, Commissioner Roger Goddell announced that for the upcoming season, “All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.” Not following this directive could result in teams being fined and players subject to “appropriate discipline.”

Approximately 70 percent of the players in the NFL are African-American. They have also been the most visible faces of the national anthem protests, which began in 2016 with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently unemployed and suing owners for collusion to keep him out of the league.

I see the decision by the NFL as an unmistakable attempt to police the actions of its majority black work force, impose what amounts to a loyalty oath, and enforce through intimidation and threat a narrow definition of patriotism. The message is clear: Either demonstrate unqualified devotion to the United States or be punished.

African-Americans and World War I
African-Americans confronted the same stark choice during World War I.

In previous conflicts, African-Americans had sacrificed and shed blood for the nation. But patriotism alone has never been enough to overcome white supremacy. By 1917, as the United States prepared to enter the world war, disfranchisement, Jim Crow segregation, and racial violence had rendered African-Americans citizens in name only.

Black people thus had every reason to question the legitimacy of fighting in a war that President Woodrow Wilson declared would make the world “safe for democracy.” African-Americans immediately exposed the hypocrisy of Wilson’s words, while also seizing the opportunity to hold the United States accountable to its principles. They did this, in part, by serving in the army, as some 380,000 black soldiers labored and fought to not just win the war, but to also make democracy a reality for themselves.

African-Americans also recognized the importance of protest. Discrimination and racial violence continued throughout the war, highlighted by the East St. Louis massacre in July 1917, where white mobs killed as many as 200 black people. In response, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organized a Silent Protest Parade in New York City, where more than 10,000 black men, women and children peacefully marched down Fifth Avenue carrying signs, one of which read, “Patriotism and loyalty presuppose protection and liberty.”

‘Closing ranks’ and the costs
Just as it does today, protesting racial injustice during the war carried risk. The federal government wielded the repressive power of American nationalism to crush disloyalty to the United States. The Espionage Act (1917) and Sedition Act (1918) severely curtailed civil liberties by criminalizing “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language.”

“100 percent Americanism” entailed the policing of immigrant communities, restricting freedom of the press, jailing anti-war activists, and monitoring African-Americans, including W. E. B. Du Bois, for potential radicalism. This pressure, along with the personal desire to demonstrate his loyalty to the nation, compelled Du Bois to soften his critiques of the government and issue his call for African-Americans to “close ranks.”

“The words were hardly out of my mouth when strong criticism was rained upon it,” Du Bois later remembered. Even during a time of war, most African-Americans refused to set aside the “special grievances” of segregation, lynching and systemic racial abuse. And Du Bois paid a heavy price. William Monroe Trotter, the fiery newspaper editor and civil rights leader from Boston, branded Du Bois “a rank quitter,” adding that his one-time ally had “weakened, compromised, deserted the fight.”

But African-Americans, having fought for democracy, would surely be rewarded for their loyal service and patriotic sacrifices, Du Bois reasoned.

To the contrary, they were greeted with a torrent of racial violence and bloodshed that came to be known as the “Red Summer” of 1919. White people, North and South, were determined to remind black people of their place in the nation’s racial hierarchy. Race riots erupted throughout the country and the number of African-Americans lynched skyrocketed, including several black veterans still in uniform.

The NFL’s decision is essentially an attempt to appease the mob in 2018.

Echoing the backlash following World War I, the vitriolic reactions to the national anthem protests reflect what happens when African-Americans physically and symbolically challenge an understanding of patriotism rooted in white supremacy and racist ideas of black subservience. I believe the NFL has acquiesced to the threats of President Trump and the unrest of its white fan base by establishing a policy that requires black players to remain docile, obedient employees, devoid of any outward expression of racial and political consciousness, which sole purpose is to entertain and enrich their owners.

And now, the NFL wants black players to “close ranks” by giving them the false choice between standing for the pledge or hiding their protest in the locker room, conveniently out of sight of fans in the stadium and away from television cameras.

The league ignores any mention of the “special grievances” of police brutality, racial profiling and antiblack harassment that remain alive and well. Ironically, the NFL has been the one to transform the flag into a political weapon to silence black activism, protect its corporate interests and maintain a racial status quo. Displays of patriotism and loyalty to nation are meaningless when not accompanied by the actual freedoms and protections that come with being a citizen.

W. E. B. Du Bois would spend the rest of his life questioning his decision for African Americans to “close ranks” during World War I. He ultimately recognized that until America reckoned with its racist history and embraced the humanity of black people, the nation would remain deeply wounded. At the age of 90, reflecting on the questions that shaped his decades of struggle, Du Bois pondered, “How far can love for my oppressed race accord with love for the oppressing country? And when these loyalties diverge, where shall my soul find refuge?”

The ConversationLike the battlefields of France 100 years ago, the football fields of NFL stadiums are just one place where African-Americans have historically sought to answer these questions. And simply closing ranks has never been sufficient. In this moment of racial repression and moral mendacity, when the ideals of democracy are undermined daily, the debate over national anthem protests reminds us that the fight to affirm the sanctity of black life is much longer and deeper than a Sunday afternoon game.

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Moscow rejects Ukraine’s accusation it murdered journalist

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected Ukraine’s allegation that Moscow was behind Tuesday’s murder of a Russian dissident journalist in Kiev, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported.

Arkady Babchenko, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday where he lived in exile. He fled Russia after he received threats for saying he did not mourn the victims of a Russian defense ministry plane crash in 2016.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in a social media posting late on Tuesday he was convinced that what he called “the Russian totalitarian machine” had not forgiven Babchenko for what Groysman called his honesty.

Lavrov, who called Babchenko’s killing a tragedy, said the allegation was nonsense and a continuation of what he called Kiev’s anti-Russian course.

“…The investigation has not even started and the prime minister of the Ukrainian government has already announced that the Russian intelligence services did it,” TASS cited Lavrov as saying.

Groysman’s accusations were a matter of regret, Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Babchenko’s murder was the fourth of a Kremlin critic in the Ukrainian capital in two years. None of the other murders, which Kiev has also blamed on Russia, have been solved.

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Prosecutor to announce details of deal reached with Missouri Governor Eric Greitens

St. Louis prosecutor is set to make public details of a deal she reached on a felony charge against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens on Wednesday, a day after he announced his resignation after his short tenure as governor became embroiled in scandal.

The 44-year-old first-term governor, who was seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, abruptly resigned on Tuesday amid accusations stemming from an extramarital affair and his political fundraising.

Greitens was charged a month ago with felony computer tampering. He is accused of illegally obtaining a donor list to aid his 2016 election campaign from a veterans’ charity he founded in 2007.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a statement to local media on Tuesday that she has been in contact with the governor’s defense team and that she has “reached a fair and just resolution of the pending charges.”

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL commando, faced the possibility of becoming the first Missouri governor to be impeached as the Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly began a special session on May 18 to consider what disciplinary steps to take against him.

Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, also a Republican, will become governor when Greitens officially leaves office on Friday.

Greitens was previously charged with felony invasion of privacy in connection with an admitted extramarital affair in 2015 with a hairdresser before he was elected. He has said he is innocent and called the relationship consensual.

St. Louis prosecutors dismissed the criminal invasion of privacy charge against Greitens on May 14 before his trial got under way. A special prosecutor assigned to the case said on Tuesday that her investigation will continue, according to local media.

Greitens had previously called the charges against him part of a political witch hunt and on Tuesday he complained of “legal harassment” with “no end in sight.”

Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives said Greitens’ exit was best for the state. State Senate Democratic leader Gina Walsh said Greitens still needed to answer for the scandals.

Editing by Richard Balmforth

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Alabama officer stops traffic to help dancer shoot audition video for Janet Jackson

Alabama officer stops traffic to help dancer shoot audition video for Janet Jackson

A dancer in Alabama was trying to make an audition video for Janet Jackson when the police arrived.

It all started on April 12 when Janet Jackson posted a video on Twitter looking for dancers for some upcoming projects.

One fan, Lala D’iore, decided she wanted to stand out. Earlier this month she shot an audition video in the middle of a street in Birmingham, Alabama.

Officer Philip Jones saw what was going on and told D’iore that she was taking too much of a risk by dancing in the middle of the street. Much to D’iore’s surprise, Jones decided to help her create an even better and safer video instead of arresting or ticketing her.

He stopped traffic, put his flashing lights on and set the spotlight on D’iore. Shocked, she took full advantage of the moment and danced her heart out.

In a statement to ABC News, the Birmingham Police Department said, “The actions of Officer Philip Jones was an excellent example of the City of Birmingham’s theme of ‘Putting People First.’ Officer Jones, after assessing the situation, decided to help create a safe environment for Lala D’iore by stopping traffic so that she would be able to film a dance audition video. The actions of Officer Philip helped to create a memory that will not be easily forgotten by both he and especially Lala. In viewing the video, I believe that Lala is one Birmingham’s rising stars and will soon fulfill her dreams and heart’s desires. We wish her well on all of her endeavors.”

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Miniature pony gets police escort home in south Florida

A little pony in southwest Florida apparently wanted to be a wild horse, as it galloped down a highway away from its paddock.

Video released today by Clewiston Police showed an officer escorting the miniature horse back to its home, leading it with a rope while driving the police car alongside it.

Police responded to a call that the tiny horse was running down U.S. Highway 27 last week and got a workout trying to catch the escaped pony on foot.

The department released dispatch audio from their pursuit of the pony. An officer can be heard saying the horse was near a Popeye’s restaurant, then running away. The officer asked for more help and finally reported that the horse was near fences and had nowhere else to go.

To lure the runaway horse to them, police offered carrots.

After the officer led the pony home, police said the other horses came to the fence to greet it.

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