Fauci clashes with senator
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Tuesday angrily responded to Senator Rand Paul in testimony on Capitol Hill, rejecting insinuation that Washington helped fund research at a Chinese lab that could have sparked the COVID-19 outbreak. Paul suggested that Fauci had lied before Congress when in May he denied that the National Institutes of Health funded so-called “gain of function” research at a Wuhan virology lab. “They took animal viruses that only occur in animals, and they increased their transmissibility to humans,” Paul said. “You’re dancing around this because you’re trying to obscure responsibility for 4 million people dying around the world from a pandemic,” Paul said. “Senator Paul, you do not know what you’re talking about, quite frankly,” Fauci said. “And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you’re talking about. If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.”
California race hits courts
Several court scuffles are under way as California moves toward finalizing the list of candidates for the September recall election that could oust California Governor Gavin Newsom from office during his first term. Talk radio host Larry Elder on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging a decision by California election officials that blocked him from the contest, saying that he is the target of political “shenanigans” by Democrats who fear he is a threat to Newsom. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expected in court to seek permission to identify himself as the “retired” San Diego mayor on the ballot, a label the state rejected. He qualified as a candidate, but wants to use his title of choice. In another dispute over ballot language, YouTube creator and candidate Kevin Paffrath has sued to get his nickname “Meet Kevin” on the ballot.
Kidnapped villagers freed
One hundred kidnapped villagers were freed on Tuesday following negotiations with their abductors who had held them hostage for 42 days, police said. On July 8, gunmen stormed Manawa village and seized 100 residents, including women and children, and took them to a forest hideout, a spokesman for the Zamfara State police said in a statement. The release was “unconditional” and had been secured “without giving any financial or material gain” to the gang, a source said.
Taliban in ‘defense status’
The Taliban yesterday said that it would fight only to defend itself over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but stopped short of declaring a formal ceasefire. “I can confirm we are in defense status during Eid,” a spokesman for the Taliban told reporters, without offering further details. Eid al-Adha started on Monday and end on Friday.
US and S Korea recommit
Tokyo, Washington and Seoul yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to work together on North Korea’s denuclearization and other regional threats. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who held talks in Tokyo with her counterparts, Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Takeo Mori and South Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong-kun, said that their alliance remains a “lynchpin of peace, security and prosperity.” The officials reaffirmed the importance of respecting international law and opposed any unilateral attempts to change the “status quo” in the East China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait.
AT WASHINGTON SUMMIT: The agreement between the US and 14 Pacific nations came half a year after the Solomon Islands struck a security deal with China The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse. The 10-point US-Pacific Partnership deal was announced by the White House on Thursday evening, following the first-ever meeting between a US president and the leaders of every major Pacific nation. It includes commitments for increased action on climate change, economic development and security cooperation. Earlier, US President Joe Biden committed more than US$810 million to a new Pacific initiative. “A great deal of the history of our world is going to be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years
‘DEVOTED GUARDIANS’: A Chinese foreign affairs official said his nation’s diplomats would not ‘sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed’ China yesterday signaled no letup in its combative approach to foreign policy in a third term for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as leader despite criticism from many Western diplomats that the so-called “wolf warrior” stance has been counterproductive. As relations with the West have soured over issues from trade and human rights to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese diplomats have often been confrontational on the public stage, including on social media, a stridency that some critics see as intended for a domestic audience that nonetheless hurts its foreign ties. “We Chinese will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Most of the escaped gas is methane, the second biggest contributor to climate change and a ‘potent greenhouse gas,’ an oceanographer said Denmark on Tuesday said it believed “deliberate actions” by unknown perpetrators were behind big leaks — which seismologists said followed powerful explosions — in two natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. European leaders and experts pointed to possible sabotage amid the energy standoff with Russia provoked by the war in Ukraine. Although filled with gas, neither pipeline is currently supplying it to Europe. “It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. However, she added that “there is no information indicating who could be behind it.” Frederiksen
LANDING INCIDENT: A plane with 63 passengers was shot at by ‘terrorists’ from an ethnic minority militia, state news reported, although militants denied responsibility Myanmar’s military government accused rebel forces in the eastern state of Kayah of firing at a passenger plane as it was preparing to land on Friday, wounding a passenger who was hit by a bullet that penetrated the fuselage. Rebel groups denied the allegation. Myanmar state television MRTV said the Myanmar National Airlines plane, carrying 63 passengers, was hit as it was about to land in Loikaw, the capital of the eastern state of Kayah, also known as Karenni. It cited junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun as saying the shooting was carried out by “terrorists” belonging to the Karenni National