South China Morning Post USA

Olympia Dukakis, Oscar-winning star of Moonstruck, dies at age of 89

Olympia Dukakis, the veteran stage and screen actress whose flair for maternal roles helped her win an Oscar as Cher’s mother in the romantic comedy Moonstruck, has died. She was 89.Dukakis died Saturday morning in her home in New York City, according to Allison Levy, her agent at Innovative Artists. A cause of death was not immediately released.Dukakis won her Oscar through a surprising chain of circumstances, beginning with author Nora Ephron’s recommendation that she play Meryl Streep’s…

Biden leaves China a Xinjiang terrorism problem with US exit from Afghanistan

The complete withdrawal of US and allied forces from Afghanistan later this year does not mean China will be able to establish its influence in the region or fill the security vacuum left by Washington, analysts have said. Instead, the withdrawal and the uncertain security situation it poses, including the likelihood of a civil war, is likely to challenge China’s economic interests in the country and may even threaten security within China’s own borders, in the northwestern Xinjiang region…

Pentagon chief seeks ‘new vision’ for US defence in face of emerging cyber and space threats

In his first major speech as Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin on Friday called for developing a “new vision” for American defence in the face of emerging cyber and space threats and the prospect of fighting bigger wars.Reflecting President Joe Biden’s promise to put diplomacy first in dealing with foreign policy problems, Austin said the military should provide leverage that diplomats can use to prevent conflict. His comments suggested a contrast with what critics call the militarisation of US…

Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco sues Marilyn Manson for sexual abuse

Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco sued Marilyn Manson on Friday, alleging sexual, physical and emotional abuse.In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Bianco says that the US goth rocker violated human trafficking law by bringing her to California from England under the false pretences of roles in music videos and films that never materialised.An email seeking comment from a lawyer who has previously represented Manson was not immediately returned. Manson said earlier this year…

US says China has fallen short on ‘phase one’ intellectual property commitments

The US criticised China on Friday for failing to fulfil commitments it made in the “phase one” trade deal a year ago to improve protections for the intellectual property of American companies.In its first report under the Biden administration, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) acknowledged the revisions China has made in its patent, copyright and criminal laws, as well as the publication of several draft measures concerning IP.“However, these steps toward reform require effective…

China climate cooperation not a ‘favour’ to US, says Joe Biden’s national security adviser

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday the United States does not consider China’s cooperation on climate change a favour, and that it was unclear if Beijing would fully follow through on its commitments to reduce emissions.Climate change is one of the few issues that both China and the United States, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, have said they could work on together to solve, even as broader ties have sunk to their lowest level in decades.US President…

Moscow cries foul as US ends visa services for most Russians

The Kremlin accused Washington on Friday of fuelling tension with “unfriendly actions” after the US embassy in Moscow said it was cutting staff and stopping processing visas for most Russians.The embassy said it was cutting consular staff by 75 per cent and that from May 12 it would stop processing non-immigrant visas for non-diplomatic travel after a new Russian law imposed limits on how many local staff can work at foreign diplomatic missions.That means Russians, who are not diplomats or…

As coronavirus rips through India, diaspora struggles to cope with deluge of dark news from homeland

Bad news, knowing no time zones, arrives in a jarring burst of messages, calls and posts telling millions of members of India’s worldwide diaspora that yet another loved one has been sickened or lost to the coronavirus.Sometimes it comes in a barrage of WhatsApp messages first thing in the morning, and sometimes it lands in the middle of the night, as it did for Mohini Gadré‘s father. A 3am call at his San Francisco Bay Area home let him know that his octogenarian mother – who had tested…

Pence ties himself to Trump, in first public speech since leaving office

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Benjamin Din on politico.com on April 29, 2021.In his first public speech since leaving office, former vice-president Mike Pence on Thursday closely aligned himself with his old boss, touting the Trump administration’s accomplishments while urging conservatives to reject what he called the Biden administration’s “far-left agenda”.“But how times have changed,” Pence said. “In just 100 days, the Biden…

Joe Biden begins selling his US$4 trillion spending plans

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Anita Kumar on politico.com on April 29, 2021.US President Joe Biden marked his 100th day in office at a celebratory pandemic-induced car rally outside Atlanta to promote his US$4 trillion spending proposals designed to redistribute the nation’s wealth and lift millions of Americans out of poverty.More than 300 cars gathered at the Infinite Energy Centre in Duluth with mask-clad attendees honking horns…

Photo of Ghislaine Maxwell with ‘black eye’ prompts questions from judge

A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell on Thursday released a photo that shows the British socialite accused of enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s sex abuses with a bruise around her left eye, which the lawyer called a “black eye”.The photo was attached to a letter from Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim to US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, who oversees Maxwell’s criminal case.Guards at the Brooklyn jail housing the 59-year-old Maxwell “confronted” her on Wednesday night about the bruise and…

Five arrested over violent snatching of Lady Gaga’s dogs

The woman who returned Lady Gaga’s stolen French bulldogs was among five people arrested in connection with the theft and shooting of the music superstar’s dog walker, Los Angeles police said on Thursday.Detectives do not believe that the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the pop star, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said in a statement. The motive for the February 24 robbery, investigators believe, was the value of the French bulldogs – which can run into the thousands of dollars.The…

US investigating possible directed-energy attack near White House

The White House is aware of a media report about potential incidents in the United States in 2019 and 2020 that appear similar to previous suspected “directed-energy” attacks in China and Cuba that caused a mysterious illness, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.The White House was working closely with various US departments and agencies and was still evaluating the situation, which included one attack near the White House, spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre added.CNN earlier on Thursday reported that…

A message for US and China as India and Russia put two and two together

The decision by India and Russia to hold a “two-plus-two” meeting of their foreign and defence ministers is meant not only to clear up misunderstandings in their bilateral relationship, but to send a signal to both the United States and China, experts have said.New Delhi was keen to demonstrate that it retained its “strategic autonomy” in a signal to Washington, said Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary. The US has been trying to wean India off of Russian influence and has tried to…

US economy grows 6.4 per cent in first quarter as recovery gathers momentum

The US reported that its economy grew 6.4 per cent on an annualised basis in the first quarter, a faster clip compared to the previous quarter as the pandemic turned a corner with a concerted push for vaccination.The US economy expanded to US$22.05 trillion at the end of March, according to preliminary data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday. Economists had estimated the first quarter to grow 6.1 per cent.In comparison, China soared 18.3 per cent in the first quarter from a year…

US to keep China’s trade-deal performance under the microscope

Examining how well China has performed against the terms laid out in its phase one trade deal signed with the Trump administration is a “priority” for the new administration, according to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.Testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday, Tai said that the administration of President Joe Biden is studying all available options for enforcing the trade agreement signed in January last year, when Washington vowed to cut some tariffs in exchange for China…

‘It was weird’: scenes from Joe Biden’s speech

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Sarah Ferris and Burgess Everett on politico.com on April 28, 2021.US President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress couldn’t have looked any more different than the one delivered by his predecessor just over a year before.Biden’s hopeful rhetoric on Wednesday echoed in a mostly empty – and fully masked – chamber in yet another mark of the pandemic that has gripped the nation for 14 months…

China digital currency: Fed’s Powell says Beijing’s approach would not work in US

China’s rapid development of a digital version of the yuan will not push the Federal Reserve to rush its own digital currency project, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday, adding that China’s approach would not work in the United States.Powell, in remarks following the Fed’s latest policy meeting, emphasised the Fed’s primary goal is not speed to market but rather avoiding any calamitous misstep in executing digitalisation of the dollar, which remains the world’s dominant…

Biden casts US-China relations as a battle for the century

US President Joe Biden used his prime-time address to the joint sessions of Congress – his highest-profile platform yet – to cast the US-China relationship as a battle in century-defining technologies and a litmus test of the merits of democracy versus autocracy.Chinese President Xi Jinping was “deadly earnest about [China] becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world,” Biden said on Wednesday, addressing a socially-distanced gathering of lawmakers in the House chamber.“He…

Joe Biden declares ‘America is ready for takeoff’ in first speech to Congress

US President Joe Biden triumphantly declared that the United States is “on the move again” in a rousing speech to Congress, calling for trillions of dollars to rebuild the post-Covid US middle class and give new life to “forgotten” workers.Lauding the success of mass vaccination against Covid-19, Biden told Congress and the nation on primetime television on Wednesday that “in America, we always get up”.“America is ready for takeoff,” he said. “We are working again, dreaming again, discovering…

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