BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese government's top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi on Sunday said the electoral system in Hong Kong must be improved for long-term stability, saying reform would bring about a "brighter future" for the city. China imposed a tough national security law on the former British colony last year, saying it was needed following months of sometimes violent anti-government protests. Speaking at his annual news conference, Wang said there was no democracy in Hong Kong during colonial times, and that China has confidence electoral reforms will be beneficial. China's action...
State Dept spokesperson under fire for 'spineless' refusal to condemn Israel's killing of children in Gaza
Pressed repeatedly by reporters during a briefing on Monday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price refused to condemn Israel's killing of children with airstrikes on Gaza, offering evasive and mealy-mouthed responses that members of Congress slammed as unacceptable.
"We cannot just condemn rockets fired by Hamas and ignore Israel's state-sanctioned police violence against Palestinians—including unlawful evictions, violent attacks on protestors, and the murder of Palestinian children."
—Rep. Mark Pocan
Asked straightforwardly whether he condemns the killing of Palestinian children, Price replied that the Biden administration does not "have independent confirmation of facts on the ground yet" and is "hesitant to get into reports that are just emerging."
"Obviously, the deaths of civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinians, are something we would take very seriously," added Price.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted late Monday that "this unsurprising response is devoid of empathy and concern for human suffering."
"He can't even condemn the killing of children," Omar added.
Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian-American writer and political analyst, called Price's remarks "spineless."
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Israel's airstrikes in Gaza on Monday killed 24 people, including nine children. Israel claimed it was targeting "Hamas operatives" and said the airstrikes were retaliation for rockets fired into Israel from Gaza, which reportedly caused several injuries.
Hamas claimed responsibility for a rocket attack in Jerusalem, where Israeli security forces injured more than 300 Palestinians earlier Monday in an assault on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site.
At the start of Monday's briefing, Price stressed "Israel's legitimate right to defend itself and to defend its people and its territory." But asked whether Palestinians have the same right, Price quickly reverted to defending the broad principle of self-defense while refusing to answer the question.
"It is long past time we finally take action to protect Palestinian human rights and save lives."
—Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and André Carson
"We believe in the concept of self-defense," said Price. "We believe it applies to any state."
Given that Palestinians are a stateless people living under Israeli military occupation, they would not have a right to self-defense under Price's standard, as Associated Press reporter Matt Lee pointed out.
"Are you saying the Palestinians don't have a right to self-defense?" Lee asked, to which Price replied, "I was making a broader point not attached to Israel or the Palestinians in that case... I'm not in a position to debate the legalities from up here."
Following the State Department press briefing, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) tweeted that "we cannot just condemn rockets fired by Hamas and ignore Israel's state-sanctioned police violence against Palestinians—including unlawful evictions, violent attacks on protestors, and the murder of Palestinian children."
"U.S. aid should not be funding this violence," Pocan added.
Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) sent a similar message in a joint statement issued Monday, declaring, "We are horrified by the violent assault by Israeli forces on the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the continued violent attacks on the Palestinian people during the holy month of Ramadan.
"We continue to provide the Israeli government with over $3 billion in military aid every year—with no conditions or accountability for wanton human rights abuses and continuing illegal seizures of Palestinian land," the lawmakers continued. "For decades, we have paid lip service to a Palestinian state, while land seizures, settlement expansion, and forced displacement continue, making a future home for Palestinians more and more out of reach."
"It is long past time we finally take action to protect Palestinian human rights and save lives," the trio said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is investing heavily in Facebook to cultivate a network of small-dollar donors as corporate America turns its back on the high-profile senator.
The Texas Republican known for social media stunts is relying heavily on Facebook ads to rebrand himself as an outsider and build the sort of digital network that could not only help raise campaign cash for his Senate re-election campaign, but also serve as a fundraising apparatus for a potential presidential race, reported Politico.
"I'm done with these woke corporations," says a Cruz ad posted on Facebook last week. "I'm never taking their money again. I won't owe them a single thing and I'm going to spend every day stopping their radical agenda. But if I'm going to win, if I'm going to beat them, then I need patriots like you to step up and make a donation today!"
Cruz has poured $240,000 into Facebook advertising since the platform started allowing political ads again following the 2020 election and Jan. 6 insurrection, and only Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who paid $335,000, has spent more with the social media giant.
"When tens of thousands of grassroots supporters are responding across the country to your message, you continue to increase spending to reach even more potential supporters," a Cruz adviser told Politico.
Corporate PACs have cooled their relationship with Cruz since he voted against certifying Joe Biden's win during the Jan. 6 insurrection, with just one donation from one of those groups in the first quarter of this year, but a spokesman for Lyondell Chemical Company PAC said that donation was actually made in September.
"In my nine years in the Senate, I've received $2.6 million in contributions from corporate political-action committees," Cruz wrote last month in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. "Starting today, I no longer accept money from any corporate PAC. I urge my GOP colleagues at all levels to do the same."
Conservative Matt Lewis thinks that the Republican Party could be making real political gains on President Joe Biden -- but the party is too obsessed with keeping former President Donald Trump happy to properly do its job.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Lewis describes House Republicans as a "suicide squad" hellbent on purging all Trump critics from its ranks.
"To pacify Trump, the GOP is on an almost suicidal quest to become a permanent minority party," Lewis writes. "This is insanity. Any rational political party concerned about winning elections would pause to ponder the consequences."
He then points to data from the 2020 election showing how college-educated women fled the GOP in the Trump era, while noting that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who is soon to be purged from the party's leadership, is the exact type of Republican capable of winning those voters back.
This is an especially bad bet, writes Lewis, because the share of non-college whites is shrinking as a percentage of the entire electorate.
"Trading college-educated suburban Republicans for non-college educated whites seems to be, in the long run, a demographic debacle," he writes. "Simply put, I'm not sure why any rational party would choose to alienate so many voters who still share many of their same traditional values."
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