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US ‘concerned’ China is seeking to sway Taiwan polls

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The de facto US ambassador to Taiwan on Friday expressed concern that Beijing was attempting to influence the island’s coming elections, days after China sent its first domestically built aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing confirmed earlier this week that the carrier traversed the strait separating China from self-ruled Taiwan, saying it was “routine” training.

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“We of course regard any of these threatening actions with concern,” said Brent Christensen, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), when asked to comment on the sail-by.

AIT serves as the de facto American embassy in Taiwan.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but has remained an important ally — and arms supplier — to Taipei.

“As to the elections, of course we are aware that China is attempting to apply pressure through various means on Taiwan. Certainly these attempts to influence Taiwan’s democratic process are our concerns,” he added.

China’s sail-by comes as Taiwan gears up for presidential elections in January, with Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen seeking a second term against a challenger who favours warmer ties with China.

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Christensen said Washington views any efforts to determine Taiwan’s future by other than peaceful means as “a threat to peace and security in the Western Pacific”.

Foreign minister Joseph Wu tweeted on Sunday that China “intends to intervene” in Taiwan’s elections”, adding: “Voters won’t be intimidated”!

Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had dispatched ships and planes to track and closely monitor the carrier’s movements, and that US and Japanese vessels trailed it in the narrow waterway separating the island from mainland China.

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Beijing has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai came to power in 2016, as her government refuses to acknowledge that the self-ruled, democratic island is part of “one China”.

Tsai — who has voiced support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement — has described the elections as a fight for Taiwan’s freedom and democracy.

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China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.


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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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2020 Election

The GOP is a suicide cult

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.

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Trump has committed at least 11 disgraceful acts just since April: conservative

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On Saturday, writing for The Washington Post, conservative columnist Max Boot outlined all of the chaos President Donald Trump has caused just in the last three months — arguing that "he has disgraced the nation’s highest office as no previous occupant has come close to doing."

"Think about all that has happened since April 5," wrote Boot. "That was before security forces attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square so that Trump could stage a bizarre photo-op. Before he pushed to send the armed forces into the streets. Before he embraced 'white power' and called Black Lives Matter 'a symbol of hate.' Before he vowed to veto the defense authorization bill to prevent the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals. Before he used the novel coronavirus as an excuse to shut down immigration and threatened to revoke the visas of college students unable to attend classes in the fall."

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