By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A French warship passed through the strategic Taiwan Strait this month, U.S. officials told Reuters, a rare voyage by a vessel of a European country that is likely to be welcomed by Washington but increase tension with Beijing. The passage, which was confirmed by China, is a sign that U.S. allies are increasingly asserting freedom of navigation in international waterways near China. It could open the door for other allies, such as Japan and Australia, to consider similar operations. The French operation comes amid increasing tensions between the United States and China. Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and China's increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom of navigation patrols. Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a French military vessel carried out the transit in the narrow waterway between China and Taiwan on April 6. One of the officials identified the warship as the French frigate Vendemiaire and said it was shadowed by the Chinese military. The official was not aware of any previous French military passage through the Taiwan Strait. The officials said that as a result of the passage, China notified France it was no longer invited to a naval parade to mark the 70 years since the founding of China's Navy. Warships from India, Australia and several other nations participated. China said on Thursday it had lodged "stern representations" with France for what it called an "illegal" passage. "China’s military sent navy ships in accordance with the law and the rules to identify the French ship and warn it to leave," defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang told a regularly scheduled media briefing, while declining to say if the sailing had led to the withdrawal of France's invitation to the parade of ships this week. "China’s military will stay alert to firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and security," he said. Colonel Patrik Steiger, the spokesman for France's military chief of staff, declined to comment on an operational mission. The U.S. officials did not speculate on the purpose of the passage or whether it was designed to assert freedom of navigation. MOUNTING TENSIONS The French strait passage comes against the backdrop of increasingly regular passages by U.S. warships through the strategic waterway. Last month, the United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait. The passages upset China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island. Chen Chung-chi, spokesman for Taiwan's defense ministry, told Reuters by phone the strait is part of busy international waters and it is "a necessity" for vessels from all countries to transit through it. He said Taiwan's defense ministry will continue to monitor movement of foreign vessels in the region. "This is an important development both because of the transit itself but also because it reflects a more geopolitical approach by France towards China and the broader Asia-Pacific," said Abraham Denmark, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. The transit is a sign that countries like France are not only looking at China through the lens of trade but from a military standpoint as well, Denmark said. Last month, France and China signed deals worth billions of euros during a visit to Paris by Chinese President Xi Jinping. French President Emmanuel Macron wants to forge a united European front to confront Chinese advances in trade and technology. "It is important to have other countries operating in Asia to demonstrate that this is just not a matter of competition between Washington and Beijing, that what China has been doing represents a broader challenge to a liberal international order," Denmark, who is with the Woodrow Wilson Center think-tank in Washington, added. Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms. (Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington; Additional reporting by Sophie Louet in Paris, Yimou Lee in Taipei and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by James Dalgleish, Robert Birsel)
- The Week
Florida attorney reportedly under investigation after telling Republicans to change 'your address for the next 2 months' for Georgia runoffs
A Florida attorney is reportedly under investigation after trying to register to vote in Georgia ahead of the January runoff election and encouraging other Republicans to change "your address for the next two months" so they can vote in the state as well, WSB-TV reports.Attorney Bill Price in a Facebook video that has since been deleted was reportedly seen speaking to members of the Bay County GOP in Florida last month, saying "we have to do whatever it takes" to "hold the Senate" and that he's "moving to Georgia" for the January runoff."And if that means changing your address for the next two months, so be it," Price says. "I'm doing that. I'm moving to Georgia and I'm gonna fight and I want you all to fight with me."Price reportedly says in the video he's "moving to my brother's house in Hiram, Georgia and I'm registering to vote." Then, he reportedly tells the Florida Republicans his brother's name and his address, and when a woman asks if they "can truly register at that address," he reportedly responds, "Sure."Georgia's office of Secretary of State told Fox News that "registering without the intention of permanent residency is a felony," as "only permanent residents are eligible to vote in Georgia." According to Fox, Price says in the video he will "move back to Florida on Jan. 6." Price told WSB-TV these were just "humorous comments" and that he "did not change my voter registration." But according to the report, he did register to vote using his brother's Georgia address the day after he made the remarks, and he's now under investigation. Price admitted to Fox News that he filled out the voter registration but claimed, "I wanted to see how easy it was to do it. I'm not actually moving to Georgia. I was joking." Read more at WSB-TV. > "If that means changing your address for the next two months,so be it.I'm doing that. I'm moving to Georgia."Our 6 investigation reveals deleted video-a FL attorney telling GOP members how to move to GA,vote in runoffs. It's illegal.There's more,& an investigation @wsbtv gapol pic.twitter.com/or2PgWQrT1> > -- Nicole Carr (@NicoleCarrWSB) December 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons Report: DOJ investigated top GOP donor, Kushner lawyer in suspected pardon scheme
- The Daily Beast
Earlier this week, Project Veritas released the first of what it promised would be many shocking revelations from CNN’s internal editorial meetings, which founder James O’Keefe appears to have infiltrated and recorded over the course of several weeks.First, the right-wing group tried to make hay out of the fact that one high-level CNN staffer considered Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be racist—while simultaneously misidentifying the staffer in question. Their latest bombshell? CNN President Jeff Zucker thinks Rudy Giuliani is “crazy.”According to Project Veritas’ website, O’Keefe believes it will be “virtually impossible for the American public to take CNN’s reporting seriously after listening to these tapes.” And yet, once again, nothing that Zucker has said should surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Giuliani, especially in the weeks since Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.“There is a term for what Rudy Giuliani is suspected of being, which is ‘useful idiot,’” a voice identified as Zucker’s can be heard saying in a tape made just a couple of days after the man formerly known as “America’s mayor” started pushing material supposedly obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop.He goes on to call Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the election a “really important story,” adding, “It gets tied to the Hunter Biden email disinformation campaign. That’s the way we do this, because it’s all tied and part-and-parcel of one. I know Washington is working on putting that all together.”In a more recent call, when another staff member suggests that the “real craziness is the client,” referring to President Trump, “not the lawyers,” the voice ID’d as Zucker agrees before saying, “I think you raise a good point about not just pawning it off on the crazy legal team, but the client is the one who is directing the crazy legal team.”Other comments from Zucker that seem to have outraged Project Veritas concern the baseless allegations of pedophilia against Biden that circulated online, especially among QAnon Facebook groups, in the run-up to the election.“The president of the United States has just retweeted a post accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile to his 86 million followers which is just beyond,” he says on another tape. “You know it also is just unacceptable that the president of the United States is trafficking in this and doing it.”Once again, an exposé intended to make Zucker and CNN look bad has only revealed that they are simply adhering to reality.Project Veritas’ CNN Sting Uncovers Explosive News That Tucker Carlson Is RacistRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
The leader of a pro-gun group that stages armed protests against police violence has been charged with pointing a rifle at federal officers while in Kentucky for a demonstration. John F. Johnson, who calls himself “Grandmaster Jay,” is facing a federal charge of assaulting task force officers. A complaint filed in federal court in Louisville said Johnson pointed a rifle, which had a flashlight mounted to it, at officers who were on a roof in downtown Louisville on Sept. 4.
- The Telegraph
Former US president Bill Clinton did visit Jeffrey Epstein's infamous private island despite his claims to the contrary, his former associate has claimed. Doug Band, who worked for Mr Clinton for around two decades, claimed the former president flew on Epstein's jet dozens of times and visited the convicted sex offender's private Carribean island in January 2003. Although ignorant of Epstein's crimes at the time, Mr Band claimed in an interview with Vanity Fair that he attempted to keep his boss away from the financier after a 2002 trip to Africa. Mr Band told the magazine the trip had left him with a bad impression of Epstein and he advised Mr Clinton to end his relationship with the multimillionaire financier. The two men were friends in the 2000s, with Mr Clinton taking several trips on Epstein’s private jet, which has come to be known as the "Lolita express" after it was alleged that the financier used the jet to traffic underage girls between his various properties.
The Atlantic Fleet will confront the Russian navy, which has been "deploying closer and closer to our East Coast."
- The Week
Trump gives 45-minute speech about voter fraud — which 1 analyst says he'd be making in court if it had any merit
President Trump has combined dozens of his favorite conspiracy theories about the 2020 election into one incredibly debunked Facebook video.In a 45-minute video posted Wednesday, Trump repeated debunked lie after lie about the 2020 election, including claims that Dominion voting machines were rigged; Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security had looked into claims about the machines changing ballots and found no evidence. Trump also falsely suggested mail-in ballots were somehow rigged against him, despite it being known before the election that mail-in ballots would tend to go for President-elect Joe Biden, and that there have been no instances of widespread fraud found since.Trump made several more false claims throughout the video, but because it was pre-recorded, there was no chance for the press to question him.> Making this speech full of blatantly false attempts to undermine the election in a Twitter video rather than at the White House means the president doesn't have to face questions about his comments from the press. He has almost entirely avoided questions since election night. https://t.co/iiHMyEDeLr> > -- Hunter Walker (@hunterw) December 2, 2020One question that might be asked is why Trump isn't heading to court with these seemingly serious claims, as the team leading his legal challenges in several states has yet to bring forward compelling evidence. Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz had an answer: It's because they don't have any "substance." > If the claims had substance, he would be presenting them in a courtroom - not a Facebook video. https://t.co/tgfTUm1Zg7> > -- Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) December 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons Report: DOJ investigated top GOP donor, Kushner lawyer in suspected pardon scheme
- The Independent
President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for his soon-to-be vice president’s role, saying Kamala Harris will be asked to take on “the urgent need of the moment” rather than pursue her own policy agenda. “I headed the  recovery act not because that’s what I said I wanted to do,” Mr Biden said Thursday night of his tenure as vice president – but because then-President Barack Obama instructed him to be the lead negotiator with Congress. “I have confidence in turning to her” to handle the “urgent need of the moment.”
- NBC News
During a preliminary hearing at Kenosha County Circuit Court, commissioner Loren Keating ruled that there was enough evidence to send Rittenhouse to trial.
Infantry Marines, Commandant Berger said, are going to be operating in a more decentralized, distributed way in the future.
- Associated Press
The official serving as President Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up sensitive information about election fraud and other matters she could relay to the White House, three people familiar with the matter tell The Associated Press. Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he would not replace his outgoing chief-of-staff Alfonso Romo and will close down his office in order to save money. Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday that Romo, a longtime ally and millionaire entrepreneur known for his outreach to business groups, would step down after two years in the job. The leftist president said Romo would continue to act as a go-between for the government and the private sector, a role that has often been strained over Lopez Obrador's skepticism about private sector involvement in areas such as energy.
- NBC News
The Bond Fire started with flames at one home, before it reached nearby vegetation and spread out of control.
- The Telegraph
Indian police arrest Muslim man under 'love jihad' law for allegedly attempting to convert Hindu woman to Islam
A Muslim man has been arrested under a controversial anti-Muslim "love jihad" law in India after a Hindu father accused him of harassing his daughter to convert to Islam and marry him. The man was arrested on Thursday from his village in Uttar Pradesh state, under the new legislation approved five days earlier. In his complaint the woman's father claimed that three years ago the man had ‘harassed’ his teenage daughter, with whom he went to high school, pressuring to convert to Islam by offering her ‘allurements’ in order to marry him. He claims the man had threatened to kidnap his daughter if she refused. Police said the father, who strongly objected to his daughters association with a Muslim man, had similarly accused the man at the time of kidnapping his daughter, but the case was closed after the girl was found and denied having been abducted. Local media reports indicated that the two were in a relationship, but this has not been confirmed. The woman, who has not been named, married someone else in June, but in his complaint after the approval of the ‘love jihad’ law last week, her father claimed the man continued pursuing and harassing her. Under the law, which carries a 10-year sentence and a £500 fine, all marriages between Muslims and Hindus can be annulled if it is proved the woman had converted solely for that purpose. Hindu women who want to change their religion to Islam after marriage need to apply to the local district authorities for permission to do so. The law was passed by the ruling Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP, which believes that Muslim men have launched a "love jihad" to turn Hindu women Muslim, which would dilute India’s Hindu majority. Hindu’s constitute around 80 per cent of India's population of 1.3 billion, while Muslims comprise around 15 per cent. Over the past six years in power, the BJP has increased its political and electoral support across India, primarily by portraying Muslims as the ‘enemy’ poised to ‘dominate’ Hindus. Opposition parties and critics have called the ‘love jihad’ legislation ‘regressive’ and accused the BJP of normalising anti-Muslim sentiment, charges the nationalist have ignored. In October, a leading Indian jewellery brand was withdrawn by its manufacturer after one of its advertisements featuring an inter-faith Hindu-Muslim family was viciously trolled online by BJP supporters. Senior BJP ministers accused Netflix of the same in a scene in The Suitable Boy television series, in which a Hindu woman kisses a Muslim man. Senior BJP leaders are demanding legal action against the producer and director of the series for this ‘outrage’. In the meantime, other than Uttar Pradesh at least four other Indian states, all ruled by the BJP, are readying to pass identical ‘love jihad’ legislation.
Man, 41, had no teeth and could barely speak after his mother locked him in their suburban apartment for 28 years, say reports
A 70-year-old Swedish woman has been arrested for imprisoning her son in her Stockholm flat. He was found by a relative covered in wounds and pus.
- The Week
The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear a case from President Trump's legal team that seeks to challenge the state's presidential election results, The Washington Post reports.On Thursday, the court ruled that Trump's team should have taken up the matter with a lower court. The ruling is yet another blow to Trump's longshot effort to overturn his election loss in several states; he has claimed voter fraud led to President-elect Joe Biden's victory, but there is no evidence of widespread fraud.Trump lost to Biden in Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. The campaign alleges that Wisconsin election officials improperly accepted thousands of ballots in two of the state's most Democratic counties. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons Report: DOJ investigated top GOP donor, Kushner lawyer in suspected pardon scheme
- Yahoo News Video
A lawyer for President Trump on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to halt a lawsuit accusing the U.S. president of exploiting his family name to promote a marketing scam targeting poor and working-class people.
- Architectural Digest
From a private island to a tiny Vermont tree houseOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Iran's Guardian Council watchdog body approved a law on Wednesday that obliges the government to halt U.N. inspections of its nuclear sites and step up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal if sanctions are not eased in two months. In retaliation for the killing last week of Iran's top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, Iran's hardline-dominated parliament on Tuesday approved the bill with a strong majority that will harden Iran's nuclear stance.
- Associated Press
A Chinese spacecraft took samples of the moon's surface Wednesday as part of a mission to bring lunar rocks back to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government said, adding to a string of successes for Beijing's increasingly ambitious space program. The Chang’e 5 probe touched down Tuesday on the Sea of Storms on the moon's near side after descending from an orbiter, the China National Space Administration said. The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical island of Hainan, is the latest venture by a space program that sent China's first astronaut into orbit in 2003.
- Business Insider
Attorney for Jared Kushner and a Trump fundraiser investigated by DOJ in alleged bribery-for-pardon scheme
The New York Times reported that a lawyer for President Trump's son-in-law was investigated by the Justice Department this summer.