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US ‘deeply concerned’ by Chinese paramilitary on Hong Kong border

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The United States expressed concerns Wednesday over Chinese security force movements on the border with Hong Kong and urged Beijing to honor the territory’s autonomy as pro-democracy protests continued.

A day after President Donald Trump appeared to take a hands-off position on the protests, a State Department spokesperson voiced concerns about the “continued erosion” of Hong Kong’s autonomy and expressed “staunch” support for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the territory.

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And senior members of Congress declared their backing for the protestors, blaming Beijing for a violent crackdown by the Hong Kong government.

“The United States is deeply concerned by reports of Chinese paramilitary movement along the Hong Kong border,” the spokesperson, who would not be named, told AFP in a statement.

“The United States strongly urges Beijing to adhere to its commitments in the Sino-British Joint Declaration to allow Hong Kong to exercise a high degree of autonomy.”

– Inciting ‘chaos’ –

Top legislators, who normally have access to internal US government intelligence, were more directly critical of the Hong Kong government and Beijing.

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“Images of Beijing-backed forces brutalizing civilians speak for themselves,” tweeted Mitch McConnell, the powerful Republicans Senate majority leader.

“Millions of Hong Kongers protesting the Chinese Communist Party?s encroachment know the truth about exactly who is responsible for ‘inciting’ chaos. The rest of the world knows too,” he said.

Nancy Pelosi the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, called the use of force “perpetrated against” the demonstrators “extremely alarming.”

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“The pro-Beijing Chief Executive and the Hong Kong police forces must immediately cease the aggression and abuse being perpetrated against their own people,” she said in a statement.

– ‘Legitimate concerns’ –

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The State Department spokesperson said the protests, which forced the partial closure of Hong Kong’s international airport on Tuesday, reflect Hong Kong citizens’ “broad and legitimate concerns” over the loss of autonomy, which was agreed in the deal between London and Beijing over returning the former British colony to China in 1997.

“We condemn violence and urge all sides to exercise restraint, but remain staunch in our support for freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in Hong Kong,” the US official said.

The official also denied Chinese state-run media reports that the United States was stirring up the demonstrations behind the scene.

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“We categorically reject the false charge of foreign forces as the black hand behind the protests,” the official said.

– Trump’s mixed messages –

Trump, who is locked in a tense showdown with Beijing over trade relations, has taken a milder approach to the Hong Kong protests, drawing criticism from US China experts and legislators.

He called the situation “very tricky,” adding: “I hope it works out for everybody including China. I hope it works out peacefully, nobody gets hurt, nobody gets killed.”

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Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, said Trump’s silence was “devastating” to the protestors’ cause.

Pelosi on Wednesday called on Trump to “walk away” from his statements, which she said “invite miscalculation.”

“If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out elsewhere,” she said.


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Ethics committee warns sitting federal judges not to affiliate with the Federalist Society

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On Wednesday, the Judicial Conference's Codes of Conduct Committee, a national panel of high-ranking federal judges responsible for policy-making on U.S. courts, released a draft advisory opinion warning federal judges against affiliating with the Federalist Society, one of the nation's foremost associations of conservative and libertarian lawyers.

The opinion also singled out the American Constitution Society (ACS), the Federalist Society's progressive counterpart.

"The Committee advises that formal affiliation with the ACS or the Federalist Society, whether as a member or in a leadership role, is inconsistent with Canons 1, 2, 4, and 5 of the Code," stated the opinion. "Official affiliation with either organization could convey to a reasonable person that the affiliated judge endorses the views and particular ideological perspectives advocated by the organization; call into question the affiliated judge's impartiality on subjects as to which the organization has taken a position; and generally frustrate the public's trust in the integrity and independence of the judiciary."

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Donald Trump’s Secretary of State apparently thinks Spanish is spoken in Lebanon

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The president of United States is often criticized for getting his facts wrong, especially when it comes to understanding the world.

Trump made up the country of "Nambia" while not knowing that Bhutan and Nepal (which he pronounced "nipple") are real countries. He said the country of Belgium "is a beautiful city" and once told the prime minister of India that the country does not share a border with China (their shared border is 2,500 miles).

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Jason Crow lays out the human cost of Trump’s Ukraine scheme — citing his military experience

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On the second day of the impeachment trial, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), a veteran and one of the House impeachment managers, clearly laid out the risk that President Donald Trump's Ukraine scheme posed to human life — and drew from his own experience in the military.

"I know something about counter-battery radar," said Crow. "In 2005 I was an Army Ranger serving in a special operations task force in Afghanistan. We were at a remote operating base along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. And frequently, the insurgents that we were fighting would launch rockets and missiles onto our small base. But luckily we were provided with counter-battery radar. The 20, 30, 40 seconds before those rockets and mortars rained down on us, an alarm would sound, and we would run out from our tents and jump into our concrete bunkers and wait for the attack to end. This is not a theoretical exercise, and the Ukrainians know it."

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