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China cancels military talks with U.S. in protest at sanctions over Russia military equipment

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China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and postponed joint military talks in protest against a U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned Ambassador Terry Branstad to lodge “stern representations”, the foreign ministry said.

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China’s Defence Ministry said in a statement it would recall navy chief Shen Jinlong from a visit to the United States and postpone planned talks in Beijing between Chinese and U.S. military officials that had been set for next week.

It added that China’s military reserved the right to take further countermeasures, without giving further details.

Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said China’s decision to buy fighter jets and missile systems from Russia was a normal act of cooperation between sovereign countries, and the United States had “no right to interfere”.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EED), the branch of the military responsible for weapons procurement, after it engaged in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.

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A senior U.S. State Department official on Saturday said China was the only country that had taken possession of the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system, in a breach of a U.S. sanctions law imposed in response to Russia’s “malign behavior”.

The official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, insisted that the sanctions were aimed at Moscow, not Beijing.

The so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, was signed into law in 2017 to punish Russia for meddling in U.S. elections, aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.

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“China is the first country in the world to use both of those systems,” the official said. “Both of those systems are extremely sophisticated and very high value.”

The mobile S-400 batteries, which include radars, a control system, and missiles with a range of up to 250 miles (402 km), was first deployed in Russia in 2007 and is considered Moscow’s most effective defense against aircraft, missiles and drones.

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Russia has deployed S-400s in Syria, according to official Russian news media, and U.S. officials have been discussing the interest other nations, particularly NATO ally Turkey, have expressed in buying the system.

Washington has expressed concern that Turkey’s planned deployment of S-400s could threaten some U.S.-made weapons and other technology used by Turkey, including the F-35 fighter jet.

The official said the move against the Chinese agency was not discretionary, but was made because Beijing broke U.S. law. “We hope it will be paid attention to because … our goal is to prevent these types of transactions,” he added.

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The U.S. sanctions will block the EED and its director, Li Shangfu, from applying for export licenses and participating in the U.S. financial system.

“The U.S. approach is a blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, a full manifestation of hegemony, and a serious breach of the relations between the two countries and their two militaries,” Wu said in a notice posted on the Chinese defense ministry’s official Wechat account.

He warned that the United States would face “consequences” if it did not immediately revoke the sanctions.

Reporting by David Stanway, Ben Blanchard and Lesley Wroughton; Additional reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Nick Macfie, John Walcott and Diane Craft

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Trump rages at Twitter — but the social media outlet fears public opinion more than it fears the president

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In a landmark action, Twitter has for the first time attached independent fact-checking information directly to two tweets from President Donald Trump. The president’s tweets make false claims alleging that wider use of mail in ballots will result in an increase in voter fraud.

This is far from the first time Trump has posted falsehoods on Twitter. But it is the first time the social media company has taken action against his account.

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‘I’m entitled’: Kayleigh McEnany defends her 11 mail-in votes while calling it ‘fraud’ for the masses

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday faced questions from Fox News about why she had voted by mail 11 times even though President Donald Trump has called absentee ballots a "scam."

McEnany was asked about her voting history after the Tampa Bay Times reported that she had used mail-in voting nearly a dozen times in recent years.

"So why is it OK for you to do it?" Fox News host Ed Henry asked McEnany. "I understand you are traveling, you're in a different city. But how can you really be assured that your votes were counted accurately but when other people do it, it's fraud."

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‘They want their civil war’: Far-right ‘boogaloo’ militants have embedded themselves in the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis

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Young, white men dressed in Hawaiian-style print shirts and body armor, and carrying high-powered rifles have been a notable feature at state capitols, lending an edgy and even sometimes insurrectionary tone to gatherings of conservatives angered by restrictions on businesses and church gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as many states are reopening their economies — and taking the wind out of the conservative protests — the boogaloo movement found a new galvanizing cause: the protests in Minneapolis against the police killing of George Floyd.

A new iteration of the militia movement, boogaloo was born out of internet forums for gun enthusiasts that repurposed the 1984 movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as a code for a second civil war, and then modified it into phrases like “big luau” to create an insular community for those in on the joke, with Hawaiian-style shirts functioning as an in-real-life identifier. Boogaloo gained currency as an internet meme over the summer of 2019, when it was adopted by white supremacists in the accelerationist tendency. In January, the movement made the leap from the internet to the streets when a group boogaloo-ers showed up at the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va.

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