South China Morning Post USA

US Senate nears make or break vote on infrastructure

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett on politico.com on July 28, 2021.The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure proposal is likely to move forward on Wednesday night, according to both Republican and Democratic leaders, though the vote could come down to the wire.A slim number of Republicans are expected to vote to advance an unfinished bill after tanking the effort last week. And even if the Senate agrees…

Tokyo Olympics: US gymnastics star Simone Biles withdraws from second event, citing mental health concerns

Superstar US gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of a second event to protect her mental health on Wednesday, putting the spotlight on athletes’ well-being at a Tokyo Olympics held under strict rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.Biles, who caused shock waves with her withdrawal during the team event on Tuesday, also ditched the all-around, raising doubts about her further participation in Tokyo.The 24-year-old American’s struggles follow those of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, another…

US, India urge Taliban to uphold peace in Afghanistan, as they pledge Quad cooperation on vaccines

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday warned that Afghanistan would become a “pariah state” if the Taliban took control by force, after he met with India’s premier and top diplomat on the same day a delegation from the insurgent group visited China for talks with its foreign minister.“An Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people would become a pariah state,” Blinken told reporters in India, where he is…

South China Sea: US will ensure ‘all nations can benefit’ from resource-rich international waters, top navy admiral says

International law and legal customs that govern the high seas have the full support of the United States, which will work with partners in Asia to ensure that all nations can “equitably” benefit from marine resources, the US navy’s top admiral said on Wednesday.The comments in Singapore by Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, came a day after US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin underscored Washington’s long-standing position that China’s vast claims of the South China Sea had no…

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin’s Vietnam visit to focus on maritime cooperation, distrust over wartime history

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Vietnam on Wednesday for talks that are expected to focus heavily on security and military cooperation between the erstwhile enemies, along with Washington’s plan to help Southeast Asia tackle Covid-19 and its post-pandemic recovery.Sources say discussions on Thursday between Austin and his counterpart General Phan Van Giang in Hanoi will cover the provision of US coastguard ships to Vietnam for maritime patrols and the possibility of a third…

‘Tortured and killed’: US man who sent threatening emails to Anthony Fauci arrested

A man has been arrested and charged in federal court with sending emails that threatened to harm and kill Dr Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health Director Dr Francis Collins, and their families, federal prosecutors in Maryland announced.A criminal complaint filed Monday charges Thomas Patrick Connally Jnr, 56, with threats against a federal official and interstate communication containing a threat to harm.Beginning in December and up to last week, Connally used a Switzerland-based…

Wealthy US political donor Ed Buck convicted in drug overdose deaths of two men

A federal jury convicted a wealthy California political donor on charges he injected gay men with methamphetamine in exchange for sex, leading to two deaths and other overdoses.Ed Buck, 66, was found guilty of all nine felony counts in federal court, which could lead to a life sentence. The verdict came exactly four years after one of the victims, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, was found dead of an overdose in Buck’s West Hollywood flat.“Today is bittersweet,” LaTisha Nixon, Moore’s mother, said…

Daniel Hale, leaker of America’s drone secrets, sentenced to 45 months in prison

A former intelligence analyst was sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking secrets about the US military’s drone attacks that were the basis of a powerful 2015 news expose.Daniel Everette Hale, 33, worked as a US Air Force intelligence officer developing targets for drone strikes in Afghanistan in 2011-2012, an experience he said left him emotionally scarred.After leaving military service, in 2014 he worked for a defence contractor for eight months which gave him access to top secret…

Joe Biden warns of cyber attacks resulting in ‘real shooting war’ with a major power

President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned that if the United States ended up in a “real shooting war” with a “major power” it could be the result of a significant cyberattack on the country, highlighting what Washington sees as growing threats posed by Russia and China.Cybersecurity has risen to the top of the agenda for the Biden administration after a series of high-profile attacks on entities such as network management company SolarWinds, the Colonial Pipeline company, meat processing company…

Coronavirus: US changes course on indoor mask guidelines as Delta variant surges

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention changed course on Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the US where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fuelling infection surges.Citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, pupils and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.In other…

Arctic is key region in countering China’s aggression, US Air Force officials say

US military leaders said on Tuesday that they see Arctic operations as a deterrent to China, which has staked a claim to the region as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, and increasingly as a base for operations in the Indo-Pacific.Panellists including US Air Force officials Kelli Seybolt and Lieutenant General Clinton Hinote discussed the strengthening of what Seybolt called defence relationships with “six of the seven other Arctic nations providing key strategic advantages”, excluding…

US police officers label Capitol rioters ‘terrorists’ in select committee hearing

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Maeve Sheehey and Nicholas Wu on politico.com on July 27, 2021.Daniel Hodges, one of the police officers who testified at the first January 6 select committee meeting on Tuesday, called those who breached the Capitol that day “terrorists”, rejecting the notion floated by congressman Andrew Clyde that the insurrection amounted to typical “tourist visit”.Asked how he felt about Clyde’s description of the…

US companies deflect tough questions over Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

US multinational sponsors of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics deflected tough questions by lawmakers on Tuesday over alleged Chinese human rights violations, saying their primary focus was on the athletes and breaking down global barriers.Under persistent questioning by members of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, executives with Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Intel, Procter & Gamble and Visa declined to commit to lawmaker calls to condemn Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong…

China and Afghanistan top agenda as United States’ Antony Blinken begins India visit

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a two-day visit to India on Tuesday, during which he will conduct talks on a range of issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan and the strengthening of Indo-Pacific engagement with an eye to China.Blinken’s first visit to India as secretary of state was an opportunity to bolster the India-US global partnership, India's Foreign Ministry said.Blinken is expected to have talks with External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and will…

Atlanta shootings: Robert Aaron Long pleads guilty to four counts of murder

Robert Aaron Long, the man charged in the shooting deaths of eight people in Atlanta-area spas in March – six of them women of Asian descent – pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murdering four of the victims.Dressed in a white, button-down shirt with an open collar, and dress trousers and sporting a mohawk haircut, Long pleaded guilty in court to the murders of four people at the day spa in Cherokee County, about 64km (40 miles) north of Atlanta.Long, holding his head up but looking sombre, also…

US coronavirus cases may be more than double official tally

By early March 2021, roughly 65 million people in the United States – or one out of every five people – had been infected by the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, a new analysis shows.The findings, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that roughly 60 per cent of coronavirus infections had gone uncounted at that point – adding to a growing body of evidence that the pandemic’s true toll is far greater than official tallies show.“It’s good to see people start…

US-listed Chinese companies must disclose to investors any risk of government interference

Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their businesses as part of their regular reporting obligations, a top US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official said on Monday.Democratic commissioner Allison Lee’s comments are the first by an SEC official since Chinese regulators launched a massive cyber probe of ride-hailing giant Didi last week, just days after its US$4.4 billion (28,5 billion yuan) New York listing,…

Canada escalates WTO case against China’s blocks on its canola seed exports

Canada has succeeded at the second time of asking to establish a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to look into China’s restrictions placed on its canola seed exports, which have been in effect for over two years.China suspended imports of canola seeds from Richardson International and Viterra in March 2019, while also making shipments from other Canadian firms subject to enhanced inspections, due to the detection of pests.The first attempt by Canada to establish a panel was blocked by China…

Mary Simon sworn in as Canada’s first indigenous governor general

Mary Simon, who on Monday became the first indigenous person to be named governor general of Canada, has fought to preserve her people’s way of life, opposing oil drilling in the Arctic, supporting seal hunting and defending Inuit culture.As Canada’s head of state and Queen Elizabeth’s representative in the Commonwealth nation, Simon said her appointment marks “an important step forward on the long path towards reconciliation.”It followed the painful discoveries of more than 1,000 unmarked…

Jeff Bezos offers Nasa US$2 billion in exchange for Blue Origin moon mission contract

Fresh off his trip to space, billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos on Monday offered to cover up to US$2 billion in Nasa costs if the US space agency awards his company Blue Origin a contract to make a spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon.Nasa in April awarded rival billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX a US$2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, rejecting bids from Blue Origin and defence contractor Dynetics…

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