Taiwan’s new president: Five things you need to know about William Lai

TAIPEI — Forget Xi Jinping or Joe Biden for a second. Meet Taiwan’s next President William Lai, upon whom the fate of U.S.-China relations — and global security over the coming few years — is now thrust.

The 64-year-old, currently Taiwan’s vice president, has led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a historic third term in power, a first for any party since Taiwan became a democracy in 1996.

For now, the capital of Taipei feels as calm as ever. For Lai, though, the sense of victory will soon be overshadowed by a looming, extended period of uncertainty over Beijing’s next move. Taiwan’s Communist neighbor has laid bare its disapproval of Lai, whom Beijing considers the poster boy of the Taiwanese independence movement.

All eyes are now on how the Chinese leader — who less than two weeks ago warned Taiwan to face up to the “historical inevitability” of being absorbed into his Communist nation — will address the other inevitable conclusion: That the Taiwanese public have cast yet another “no” vote on Beijing.

1. Beijing doesn’t like him — at all

China has repeatedly lambasted Lai, suggesting that he will be the one bringing war to the island.

As recently as last Thursday, Beijing was trying to talk Taiwanese voters out of electing its nemesis-in-chief into the Baroque-style Presidential Office in Taipei.

“Cross-Strait relations have taken a turn for the worse in the past eight years, from peaceful development to tense confrontation,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Chen Binhua said, adding that Lai would now be trying to follow an “evil path” toward “military tension and war.”

While Beijing has never been a fan of the DPP, which views China as fundamentally against Taiwan’s interests , the personal disgust for Lai is also remarkable.

Part of that stems from a 2017 remark, in which Lai called himself a “worker for Taiwanese independence,” which has been repeatedly cited by Beijing as proof of his secessionist beliefs.

Without naming names, Chinese President Xi harshly criticized those promoting Taiwan independence in a speech in 2021.

“Secession aimed at Taiwan independence is the greatest obstacle to national reunification and a grave danger to national rejuvenation,” Xi said. “Those who forget their heritage, betray their motherland, and seek to split the country will come to no good end, and will be disdained by the people and sentenced by the court of history.”

2. All eyes are on the next 4 months

Instability is expected to be on the rise over the next four months, until Lai is formally inaugurated on May 20.

No one knows how bad this could get, but Taiwanese officials and foreign diplomats say they don’t expect the situation to be as tense as the aftermath of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island in 2022.

Already, days before the election, China sent several spy balloons to monitor Taiwan, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry. On the trade front, China was also stepping up the pressure, announcing a possible move to reintroduce tariffs on some Taiwanese products. Cases of disinformation and electoral manipulation have also been unveiled by Taiwanese authorities.

Those developments, combined, constitute what Taipei calls hybrid warfare — which now risks further escalation given Beijing’s displeasure with the new president.

3. Lai has to tame his independent instinct

In a way, he has already.

Speaking at the international press conference last week, Lai said he had no plan to declare independence if elected to the presidency.

DPP insiders say they expect Lai to stick to outgoing Tsai Ing-wen’s approach, without saying things that could be interpreted as unilaterally changing the status quo.

They also point to the fact that Lai chose as vice-presidential pick Bi-khim Hsiao, a close confidante with Tsai and former de facto ambassador to Washington. Hsiao has developed close links with the Biden administration, and will play a key role as a bridge between Lai and the U.S.

4. Taiwan will follow international approach

The U.S., Japan and Europe are expected to take precedence in Lai’s diplomatic outreach, while relations with China will continue to be negative.

Throughout election rallies across the island, the DPP candidate repeatedly highlighted the Tsai government’s efforts at diversifying away from the trade reliance on China, shifting the focus to the three like-minded allies.

Southeast Asia has been another top destination for these readjusted trade flows, DPP has said.

According to Taiwanese authorities, Taiwan’s exports to China and Hong Kong last year dropped 18.1 percent compared to 2022, the biggest decrease since they started recording this set of statistics in 1982.

In contrast, Taiwanese exports to the U.S. and Europe rose by 1.6 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, with the trade volumes reaching all-time highs.

However, critics point out that China continues to be Taiwan’s biggest trading partner, with many Taiwanese businesspeople living and working in the mainland.

5. Lai might face an uncooperative parliament

While vote counting continues, there’s a high chance Lai will be dealing with a divided parliament, the Legislative Yuan.

Before the election, the Kuomintang (KMT) party vowed to form a majority with Taiwan People’s Party in the Yuan, thereby rendering Lai’s administration effectively a minority government.

While that could pose further difficulties for Lai to roll out policies provocative to Beijing, a parliament in opposition also might be a problem when it comes to Taiwan’s much-needed defense spending.

“A divided parliament is very bad news for defense. KMT has proven that they can block defense spending, and the TPP will also try to provide what they call oversight, and make things much more difficult,” said Syaru Shirley Lin, who chairs the Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation, a Taipei-based policy think tank.

“Although all three parties said they wanted to boost defense, days leading up to the election … I don’t think that really tells you what’s going to happen in the legislature,” Lin added. “There’s going to be a lot of policy trading.”

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Morning Digest | PM Modi, President Biden welcome progress in defence ties; Ukraine war unlikely to end in immediate future: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and more

PM Modi, President Biden welcome progress in defence ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday welcomed the completion of the notification process in the U.S. Congress on August 29 for a commercial agreement between General Electric Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India and the commencement of the negotiations. The leaders lauded the settlement of the seventh and last outstanding World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute between the two countries.

Ukraine war unlikely to end in immediate future: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Efforts to build a peaceful world are faltering and the Ukraine conflict is unlikely to end in the immediate future, said Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres here on Friday. Speaking at a press conference ahead of the G-20 summit that will begin here on Saturday, Mr. Guterres laid out the concerns of the UN and said the world cannot “go on like this” and spoke forcefully seeking change of the global multilateral institutions. He also appreciated India for placing the “development agenda at the centre” of G-20.

New Delhi declaration ‘almost ready’, says India’s G-20 Sherpa, as Ukraine para remains sticking point

The joint declaration is “almost ready”, said India’s G-20 ‘Sherpa’ Amitabh Kant, indicating that the Sherpas or leaders’ representatives for G-20 countries will now hand over the document to G-20 leaders who begin their summit on September 9 in an effort to close the gaps, mainly over the paragraph on Ukraine. Mr. Kant also downplayed issues with China during the negotiations, and said that while all countries have a “veto power” over the joint statement to be issued, India had been able to bring “every single country” on board with its priorities.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang lands in India facing first international test

Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrived in New Delhi on Friday evening for the G-20 summit, which will, for the relatively unknown second-ranked Chinese leader, mark a first major international diplomatic test. Mr. Li earlier this week attended the East Asia Summit in Jakarta, but the G-20 will pose its own challenges with its higher profile and the presence of Western leaders who have been sharply critical of China, especially for its stand on the Ukraine crisis, a major sticking point that threatens to derail a joint communique for the first time in G-20 history.

We have a lot to bring to G-20 table, says African Union chief Azali Assoumani

The African Union (AU) is confident of becoming a full member of G-20 during the Delhi summit beginning in New Delhi on September 9, said AU Chairperson Azali Assoumani. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, Mr. Assoumani, who is also the President of Comoros, said member countries of G-20 should invest in industrialisation of Africa. Assuring the members that Africa is willing to do what it takes to deal with the immigration issue being faced by the European countries, he urged the G-20 economies to utilise African resources to manufacture products in Africa. 

Criminal trials ideally need dynamic judges not taciturn ones, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court said criminal trials ideally need active and dynamic judges rather than reticent or taciturn ones. “Reticence may be good in many circumstances, but a judge remaining mute during trial is not an ideal situation. A taciturn judge may be the model caricatured in public mind. But there is nothing wrong in his becoming active or dynamic during trial so that criminal justice being the end could be achieved,” a three-judge Bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, J.B. Pardiwala and P.K. Mishra highlighted.

India committed to Global South, says PM Modi after talks with Mauritian leader

In his first bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held talks with his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth in New Delhi and reiterated India’s commitment to furthering the voice of the Global South. “PM @KumarJugnauth and I had a very good meeting. This is a special year for India-Mauritius relations as we mark 75 years of diplomatic ties between our nations. We discussed cooperation in sectors like infrastructure, FinTech, culture and more. Also reiterated India’s commitment to furthering the voice of the Global South,” Mr. Modi said on X.

Six Opposition CMs may skip G-20 dinner hosted by President

The G-20 dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu is expected to have a thin attendance of Opposition leaders as Chief Ministers of at least six out of the 12 Opposition-ruled States are likely to skip the event for various reasons. The two former Prime Ministers, Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, also won’t be attending the dinner, citing poor health. According to sources, out of four Congress Chief Ministers, three — Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Siddaramaiah of Karnataka and Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh — are not heading for Delhi. Mr. Gehlot, it is learnt, is still nursing his fractured toes and has restricted travel. Mr. Baghel too has said that he is not well enough to travel to the capital. Mr. Siddaramaiah has given similar reasons.

Unions allege ‘scam in import of fuel for power plants’

Trade unions in the power sector have alleged that recent directions and statements of the Centre related to the import of coal for thermal power generation are contradictory, misguiding, deceitful and against the interest of the energy consumers, people and the nation. All India Coal Workers’ Federation (AICWF) and Electricity Employees Federation of India (EEFI), the two federations comprised of several unions in power and coal mining sectors, said on Friday that these moves favour one or two private companies. The federations are also mulling legal action against the Centre’s decision. 

PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina hold talks on diversifying India-Bangladesh cooperation

A day before the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 8 held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on diversifying bilateral cooperation and discussed issues such as connectivity and commercial linkages. In a post on his second bilateral of the day after holding talks with Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, Mr. Modi said he had “productive deliberations” with PM Sheikh Hasina. “The progress in India-Bangladesh relations in the last 9 years has been very gladdening. Our talks covered areas like connectivity, commercial linkage and more,” Mr. Modi said.

India ‘very important’, but it is for members to decide on its UNSC membership, says Antonio Guterres

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on September 8 described India as “the country of the world” and a “very important” partner in the multilateral system but said it is for the members and not him to decide on its UN Security Council membership. Addressing a press conference here ahead of the G20 Summit, he made a strong pitch for immediate reforms to UNSC and other multilateral institutions, as he asserted that the future of the world is multipolar but “our multilateral institutions reflect a bygone age”.

INDIA wins four seats, BJP three in Assembly bypolls

In the first set of bypolls to be held after the formation of the INDIA bloc of Opposition parties, held in seven seats in six States, the BJP won three seats, with the Opposition constituents of the INDIA bloc bagging four seats, including the crucial Ghosi Assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh which was won by the Samajwadi Party (SP).

Gyanvapi survey: ASI granted further four weeks’ time to submit report

A Varanasi court on Friday granted four more weeks to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to complete the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex and submit its report. The order for the extension of ASI survey deadline was announced by district Judge A. K. Vishvesh. “….one of the important question and the issue remains which has to be decided by this Court that what was the religious character of the Gyanvyapi precincts dated on 15th August, 1947 as Muslims were claiming there right also. Whatever will be seen/found and existing Hindu sign/symbols will determines the fate of the Original suit. In the light of above prayer this interlocutory application liable to be allowed,” the court noted.

Nancy Pelosi says she’ll seek House reelection in 2024, dismissing talk of retirement at age 83

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on September 8 that she will run for reelection to another term in Congress as Democrats work to win back the majority in 2024. Ms. Pelosi made the announcement before labor allies in the San Francisco area district she has represented for more than 35 years. “Now more than ever our City needs us to advance San Francisco values and further our recovery,” Ms. Pelosi, 83, said in a tweet. “Our country needs America to show the world that our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for ALL. That is why I am running for reelection — and respectfully ask for your vote.”

Will hold free, inclusive and credible election: Bangladesh Minister

Bangladesh will hold a “free, inclusive and credible election”, assured Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen here on Friday. Speaking at the end of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mr. Momen said the upcoming election would not be held under a caretaker government and said the two Prime Ministers discussed “regional peace and stability”. Sharing details about the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India had welcomed “Indo-Pacific outlook” of Bangladesh that the Sheikh Hasina government introduced earlier this year.

U.S. Open | Bopanna creates history as the oldest doubles finalist in Open Era

India’s doubles ace Rohan Bopanna, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career, became the oldest Grand Slam doubles finalist in the Open Era as he, partnering Matthew Ebden, reached the U.S. Open final. Producing outstanding tennis at the Flushing Meadows in front of a handsome Louis Armstrong crowd, Bopanna and Ebden defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in Thursday’s semifinals to set a summit clash against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Stokes, Buttler help England post 291-6 against New Zealand in first match of ODI series

Ben Stokes marked his return to one-day internationals with a half-century before captain Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone put on a rapid stand of 77 late in the innings to help push England to 291-6 against New Zealand in the first match of the Cricket World Cup warmup series on Friday. Stokes (52) opted to come out of ODI retirement ahead of England’s World Cup title defense in India starting next month and was one of four batters to post fifties on a tough track at Sophia Gardens.

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Republicans Are The Lannisters Of American Politics

The HBO series “Game Of Thrones” dominated television until it ended with mixed feelings in 2019. Despite the sword and sorcery elements, the series managed to engage a wide audience through its political intrigue as the ruling houses schemed to win everything.

One of those houses, the Lannisters, was rich, incestuous and ruthless — similar to the Republican Party except Republicans have few if any of the Lannisters’ positive traits.

The Lannisters, Unlike The Republicans, “Always Pay Their Debts”

The Lannisters’ unofficial motto of “A Lannister always pay his debts” is a fine financial position but also a warning to enemies that they will always settle the score. While Republicans certainly settle their political scores, keeping a promise for repayment is more tenuous, which Republican Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida demonstrated on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Donalds decried the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party for not just blankly giving in to the Republicans’ every demand as they hold the world’s financial stability hostage. But all the talking points collapsed after Chuck Todd played a clip of then-President Trump discussing the debt ceiling.

Donalds comes from the same political cesspool as Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis, so he gave the game away with zero shame.

DONALDS: Well, first of all, he also said the other day on a rival network that he said that when he was president, and when they asked why he wasn’t saying it now, he said because he’s not president. Listen, Donald Trump is always negotiating —

TODD: Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not absurd. He’s always negotiating, Chuck.

TODD: How is that not absurd? It’s absurd.

DONALDS: Chuck, he’s always negotiating. That’s what he does. And it’s actually one of the reasons why so many deals for our country worked out to our benefit, as compared to his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, because he’s always negotiating.

TODD: But do you realize how partisan that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not a partisan statement.

TODD: “What is – what is good for me is not for thee.” He’s basically saying, “When I’m president, –


You know how stupid and nakedly partisan you have to be for anyone in mainstream political media to call it out, much less Chuck “Both Sides” Todd?!

Donalds then tried a little whataboutism that was so provenly false that Chuck Fucking Todd corrected him (again).

TODD: – there’s no negotiating on this. But, hey, when somebody else is president, screw them.”
DONALDS: Well, no, here’s the thing. Let’s be – let’s be realistic now. When Donald Trump was negotiating debt ceiling with Nancy Pelosi, mind you, they negotiated that.
TODD: No, they didn’t.
DONALDS: When they were –
TODD: They raised it without any restrictions.

Losing an argument to Chuck Todd should be an everlasting political wound, like Jamie Lannister’s right hand.

The Republicans’ Lannister-Like Cruelty And Greed

Republicans, like the fictional Lannisters, think they can somehow “shit gold” by just doing cuts that hurt everyone but the rich. Republicans said as much when a reporter asked about raising revenue to “solve” their manufactured debt crisis last week.

When Republicans claim small businesses and family finances are like the federal government’s budget (they aren’t), they conveniently ignore that real world small businesses and families would have to also bring in more revenue to get out of debt. You either raise prices (businesses) or get a raise/second job (families).

The House Budget Committee Chair, Rep Jodey Arrington of Texas, was happy to show his unseriousness on ABC’s “This Week.”

RADDATZ: Well, the President said he’s willing to cut spending by more than a trillion dollars. […] But he also wants Republicans to consider raising revenue. That has been a non-starter for Republicans. But will you reconsider?

ARRINGTON: No, because you couldn’t get tax policies and tax revenues in the Senate bill. We certainly weren’t going to put it in the House bill. So […] it’s not on the table for discussion.

Then there’s full-time podcaster/part-time Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on “Fox News Sunday” spitting out all kinds of bullshit, unchallenged by host Shannon Bream.

It’s not a surprise that this lie was long debunked. But Cruz continued trying to scaremonger to protect the wealthy with some stats on revenue and spending.

CRUZ: In 2017, total government spending was about $4 trillion dollars, tax revenues were about $3.3 trillion dollars. So, we had about a $700 billion dollar deficit. Fast forward to today, total government spending has gone from $4 trillion dollars all the way up to nearly $7 trillion dollars. We nearly doubled government spending since 2017. What has tax revenue done? They’ve gone from $3.3 trillion dollars to right about $5 trillion dollars.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz “conveniently” skipped the $4.9 trillion Trump added, $1.9 of it being tax cuts for the rich by fast-forwarding from 2017 to today, as if the Trump administration never existed.

Cruz’s hate for IRS agents is also to shield his rich sugar daddies, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made clear on “Meet The Press.”

YELLEN: We have an enormous gap between the taxes we’re collecting and what we should be collecting, if everyone paid the taxes that they really owe. And that’s really a reflection of tax fraud. It amounts to an estimated $7 trillion over the next decade. […] equipping the IRS with the funding they need to audit high-income individuals and corporations, that’s something that doesn’t cost money. It nets money substantially […]

For Republicans, protecting tax fraud by the rich and corporations is better when you can also be cruel to poor people and marginalized groups.

And there’s no sign that a single Tyrion Lannister resides within the Republican Party.

Have a week.

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Pelosi says Ukraine, democracy ‘must win’

“We thought we could die.”

The Russian invasion had just begun when Nancy Pelosi made a surprise visit to Ukraine, the House speaker then the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to lead a congressional delegation to Kyiv.

Ms. Pelosi and the lawmakers were ushered under the cloak of secrecy into the capital city, an undisclosed passage that even to this day she will not divulge.

“It was very, it was dangerous,” Ms. Pelosi told The Associated Press before April 30th’s one-year anniversary of that trip.

“We never feared about it, but we thought we could die because we’re visiting a serious, serious war zone,” Ms. Pelosi said. “We had great protection, but nonetheless, a war — theater of war.”

Ms. Pelosi’s visit was as unusual as it was historic, opening a fresh diplomatic channel between the U.S. and Ukraine that has only deepened with the prolonged war. In the year since, a long list of congressional leaders, senators and chairs of powerful committees, both Democrats and Republicans, followed her lead, punctuated by President Joe Biden’s own visit this year.

The steady stream of arrivals in Kyiv has served to amplify a political and military partnership between the U.S. and Ukraine for the world to see, one that will be tested anew when Congress is again expected this year to help fund the war to defeat Russia.

“We must win. We must bring this to a positive conclusion — for the people of Ukraine and for our country,” Ms. Pelosi said.

“There is a fight in the world now between democracy and autocracy, its manifestation at the time is in Ukraine.”

With a new Republican majority in the House whose Trump-aligned members have baulked at overseas investments, Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat, remains confident the Congress will continue backing Ukraine as part of a broader U.S. commitment to democracy abroad in the face of authoritarian aggression.

“Support for Ukraine has been bipartisan and bicameral, in both houses of Congress by both parties, and the American people support democracy in Ukraine,” Ms. Pelosi told AP. “I believe that we will continue to support as long as we need to support democracy … as long as it takes to win.”

Now the speaker emerita, an honorary title bestowed by Democrats, Ms. Pelosi is circumspect about her role as a U.S. emissary abroad. Having visited 87 countries during her time in office, many as the trailblazing first woman to be the House speaker, she set a new standard for pointing the gavel outward as she focused attention on the world beyond U.S. shores.

In her office tucked away at the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi shared many of the honours and mementoes she has received from abroad, including the honorary passport she was given on her trip to Ukraine, among her final stops as speaker.

It’s a signature political style, building on Ms. Pelosi’s decades of work on the House Intelligence Committee, but one that a new generation of House leaders may— or may not— choose to emulate.

The new Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this month, the Republican leader’s first foray as leader into foreign affairs.

Democrat Hakeem Jeffries took his own first trip abroad as House minority leader, leading congressional delegations last week to Ghana and Israel.

Ms. Pelosi said it’s up to the new leaders what they will do on the global stage.

“Other speakers have understood our national security— we take an oath to protect and defend— and so we have to reach out with our values and our strength to make sure that happens,” she said.

“I just want to say that this, for me, was the most logical thing to do,” Ms. Pelosi said.

When Pelosi arrived in Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stood outside to meet the U.S. officials, a photo that ricocheted around the world as a show of support for the young democracy fighting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

“The courage of the president in greeting us on the street rather than us just meeting him in his office was yet again another symbol of the courage of the people of Ukraine,” she said.

Ms. Pelosi told Mr. Zelenskyy in a video released at the time “your fight is a fight for everyone.”

A year on, with no end to the war in sight, Ms. Pelosi said: “I would have hoped that it would have been over by now.”

Ms. Pelosi’s travel abroad has not been without political challenges and controversy. During the Trump era, she acted as an alternative emissary overseas, reassuring allies that the U.S. remained a partner despite the Republican president’s “America First” neo-isolationist approach to foreign policy.

Last year, in one of her final trips as a speaker, Ms. Pelosi touched down with a delegation in Taipei, crowds lining the streets to cheer her arrival, a visit with the Taiwanese president that drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing, which counts the island as its own.

“Cowardly,” she said about the military exercises China launched in the aftermath of her trip.

Ms. Pelosi offered rare praise for Mr. McCarthy’s own meeting with Tsai, particularly its bipartisan nature and the choice of venue, the historic Reagan library.

“That was really quite a message and quite an optic to be there. And so I salute what he did,” she said.

In one of her closing acts as House speaker in December, Ms. Pelosi hosted Mr. Zelenskyy for a joint address to Congress. The visit evoked the one made by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain, at Christmastime in 1941 to speak to Congress in the Senate chamber of a “long and hard war” during World War II.

Mr. Zelenskyy presented to Congress a Ukrainian flag signed by front-line troops that Ms. Pelosi said will eventually be displayed at the U.S. Capitol.

The world has changed much since Ms. Pelosi joined Congress— one of her first trips abroad was in 1991 when she dared to unfurl a pro-democracy banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square shortly after the student demonstrations that ended in a massacre.

After the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s again Russia and China that remain front of her mind.

“The role of Putin in terms of Russia that is a bigger threat than it was when I came to Congress,” she said. A decade after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, she said, Mr. Putin went up.

“That’s where the fight for democracy is taking place,” she said.

And, she said, despite the work she and others in Congress have done to point out the concerns over China’s military and economic rise, and its human rights record, “that has only gotten worse.”

Often mentioned as someone who could become an actual ambassador— there have been musings that Mr. Biden could nominate her to Rome or beyond— Ms. Pelosi said she is focused on her two-year term in office, no longer the House speaker but the representative from San Francisco.

“Right now my plan is to serve my constituents,” Ms. Pelosi said. “I like having 7,50,000 bosses, rather than one.”

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Joe Biden says U.S. is ‘unbowed, unbroken’ in State of Union address

President Joe Biden is using his State of the Union address on February 7 night to call on Republicans to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation as he seeks to overcome pessimism in the country and navigate political divisions in Washington.

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” he said, highlighting record job creation during his tenure as the country has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Biden was declaring that two years after the Capitol attack, America’s democracy was “unbowed and unbroken”.

Mr. Biden was also pointing to areas of bipartisan progress in his first two years in office, including on states’ vital infrastructure and high-tech manufacturing. And he says, “There is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this new Congress as well.”

“The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere,” Mr. Biden said. “And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America — the middle class — to unite the country.

“We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”

Reassurance over ‘flashy police proposals’

The address comes as the nation struggles to make sense of confounding cross-currents at home and abroad — economic uncertainty, a wearying war in Ukraine, growing tensions with China and more — and warily sizes up Mr. Biden’s fitness for a likely reelection bid.

The setting for Mr. Biden’s speech, both politically and physically, was markedly different from a year ago, as Republican control of the House presented him with new challenges. The President was offering a reassuring assessment of the nation’s condition rather than rolling out flashy policy proposals.

Lawmakers, members of the Cabinet, justices of the Supreme Court and the diplomatic corps gathered for the annual address as tighter-than-usual security measures returned in a vestige of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.

Democratic stalwart Nancy Pelosi has been replaced as House speaker by Republican Kevin McCarthy, and it was unclear what kind of reception restive Republicans in the chamber would give the Democratic president.

McCarthy on Monday vowed to be “respectful” during the address and in turn asked Biden to refrain from using the phrase “extreme MAGA Republicans,” which the president deployed on the campaign trail in 2022.

“I won’t tear up the speech, I won’t play games,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters, a reference to Pelosi’s dramatic action after President Donald Trump’s final State of the Union address.

The President is taking the House rostrum at a time when just a quarter of U.S. adults say things in the country are headed in the right direction, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track. And a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek another term.

He is confronting those sentiments head on, aides say.

“You wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away, I get it,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years.”

With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the White House and legislators from both parties invited guests designed to drive home political messages with their presence in the House chamber. The parents of Tyre Nichols, who was severely beaten by police officers in Memphis and later died, are among those expected to be seated with first lady Jill Biden. Other Biden guests include the rock star/humanitarian Bono and the 26-year-old who disarmed a gunman in last month’s Monterey Park, California, shooting.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus invited family members of those involved in police incidents, as they sought to press for action on police reform in the wake of Nichols’ death. The White House, ahead of the speech, paired police reform with bringing down violence, suggesting that giving police better training tools could lead to less crime nationwide.

Mr. Biden is shifting his sights after spending his first two years pushing through major bills such as the bipartisan infrastructure package, legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and climate measures. With Republicans now in control of the House, he is turning his focus to implementing those massive laws and making sure voters credit him for the improvements.

The switch is largely by necessity. The newly empowered GOP is itching to undo many of his achievements and vowing to pursue a multitude of investigations — including looking into the recent discoveries of classified documents from his time as Vice President at his home and former office.

At the same time, Mr. Biden will need to find a way to work across the aisle to keep the government funded by raising the federal debt limit by this summer. He has insisted that he won’t negotiate on meeting the country’s debt obligations; Republicans have been equally adamant that he must make spending concessions.

On the eve of the President’s address, Mr. McCarthy challenged Mr. Biden to come to the negotiating table with House Republicans to slash spending as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“We must move towards a balanced budget and insist on genuine accountability for every dollar we spend,” Mr. McCarthy said.

While hopes for large-scale bipartisanship are slim, Mr. Biden was reissuing his 2022 appeal for Congress to get behind his “unity agenda” of actions to address the opioid epidemic, mental health, veterans’ health and cancer.

The speech comes days after Biden ordered the military to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew brazenly across the country, captivating the nation and serving as a reminder of tense relations between the two global powers.

Last year’s address occurred just days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine and as many in the West doubted Kyiv’s ability to withstand the onslaught. Over the past year, the U.S. and other allies have sent tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. Now, Biden must make the case — both at home and abroad — for sustaining that coalition as the war drags on.

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#Joe #Biden #unbowed #unbroken #State #Union #address

The Mistake That Still Haunts Kim Kardashian. Tabs, Tues., Nov. 29, 2022

Republican donors are bailing on Donald Trump … for now. (The Economist)

Meanwhile, elected Republicans are willing to ignore blatant white supremacy and anti-semitism in their ranks if it gains them power. No, this isn’t an article from 1992. (Popular Info)

United Furniture Industries fired thousands over text and email just before Thanksgiving. Pre-reformed Scrooge was a better boss. (The Daily Beast)

A record number of fir trees in Oregon and Washington are dying in what researchers have called a “Firmaggedon.” Yeah, I know that sounds goofy AF. They’re scientists not branding experts. (Oregonian)

Killer whales in the Columbia River! (Also the Oregonian)

Have Americans finally realized the only good billionaires are fictional superheroes with Bat Caves or armored suits? (Salon)

Rick Caruso spent $104 million on his failed campaign for Los Angeles mayor. Put in perspective, that is about 366 times the annual salary of the job he tried to buy. Columnist Gustavo Arellano notes that Caruso’s $104 million is also “a year’s rent for 1,375 people at the most affordable apartment at his luxury 8500 Burton development. The $6,300 a month for those units is way above L.A.’s $1,532 median rent. If Caruso wanted to stretch out his cash, he could put up 5,690 people for a year at that median price — not the 30,000 people he promised to house in 30 days, but something.” (Los Angeles Times)

The outdoor dining shed is a lingering reminder of the pandemic that is likely to endure. Have you eaten in one of those things? I feel as if I missed that whole scene. (Curbed)

Washington state spends millions sending children with disabilities to an “obscure network of private schools.” The results are horrible. (Seattle Times)

What’s next for two-time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? We wouldn’t mind an album of holiday standards. (The Nation)

When women venture capitalists fund women entrepreneurs, future male investors keep their distance. Grrr. (Forbes)

Good news regarding my dream of self-driving cars. (Forbes)

Model Ireland Baldwin fell in love with the Oregon coast. Who can blame her? (Eater)

Some fun background from Adam Ragusea on my favorite holiday drink. I look forward to trying the recipe from the video, but I can’t wait three weeks, though. I’m drinking it tonight.


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Nancy Pelosi to step down as top U.S. Democrat after Republicans take House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) leaves her office to announce her decision about her future at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. on November 17, 2022.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the trailblazing first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said on November 17 that she will step down as party leader when Republicans take control of the chamber in January.

“I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Ms. Pelosi said in an emotional speech on the House floor. “The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.”

The 82-year-old Ms. Pelosi’s departure from party leadership marks the end of an era in Washington and comes after Republicans secured a slim House majority in last week’s midterm elections. Democrats retained Senate control.

Democratic President Joe Biden hailed Ms. Pelosi as a “fierce defender of democracy” and the “most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history.”

“Because of Nancy Pelosi, the lives of millions and millions of Americans are better, even in districts represented by Republicans who voted against her bills and too often vilify her,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.

“History will also note her fierceness and resolve to protect our democracy from the violent, deadly insurrection of January 6,” when supporters of Republican former president Donald Trump attacked the US Capitol, he said.

Elected to Congress in 1987, Ms. Pelosi first became speaker in 2007. Known for keeping a tight grip on party ranks, she presided over both impeachments of Trump during her second stint in the role.

Currently second in the presidential line of succession, after Vice President Kamala Harris, Ms. Pelosi said last week that a decision on her future would be influenced by the brutal attack on her husband in the runup to the November 8 midterms.

Paul Pelosi, who is also 82, was left hospitalised with serious injuries after an intruder — possibly looking for the speaker — broke into their California home and attacked him with a hammer.

Ms. Pelosi said she would continue to represent her San Francisco district in the next Congress and praised Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the midterm contest.

“Last week, the American people spoke and their voices were raised in defense of liberty, of the rule of law and of democracy itself,” she said. “The people stood in the breach and repelled the assault on democracy.”


With Ms. Pelosi stepping down from leadership, and fellow octogenarians Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, the number two and three Democrats, signalling they will do the same, the party is on the cusp of a generational shift in power.

New York lawmaker Hakeem Jeffries, 52, who is expected to become Democratic minority leader in the next House, called Ms. Pelosi the “G.O.A.T” — a sports reference to the Greatest of All Time.

“Thank you for all that you have done for America,” Mr. Jeffries said.

Her announcement met with a far different reaction on the Republican side. “The Pelosi era is over. Good riddance!” tweeted Colorado lawmaker Lauren Boebert.

Kevin McCarthy, a 57-year-old Republican lawmaker from California, is lobbying to take over the speaker’s gavel from Ms. Pelosi in the Republican-majority House.

Mr. McCarthy won a party leadership vote by secret ballot Tuesday but potential far-right defections could yet complicate his path when the House’s 435 newly elected members — Democrats and Republicans — choose a new speaker in January.

On Thursday, House Republicans signalled they would wield their new power to make the president’s life more difficult — announcing plans to investigate Mr. Biden and the business connections of his family, particularly those of his son Hunter.

“This is an investigation of Joe Biden, the president of the United States, and why he lied to the American people about his knowledge and participation in his family’s international business schemes,” said Jim Comer, a Republican lawmaker from Kentucky.

With inflation surging and Mr. Biden’s popularity ratings cratering, Republicans had hoped to see a “red wave” wash over America in the midterms, giving them control of both chambers of Congress and hence a block over most of Mr. Biden’s legislative plans.

But instead, Democratic voters — galvanised by the Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights and wary of Trump-endorsed candidates who openly rejected the result of the 2020 presidential election — turned out in force.

Mr. Biden’s party secured an unassailable majority in the Senate with 50 seats plus Ms. Harris’ tie-breaking vote, and a runoff in Georgia next month could yet see the Democrats improve their majority in the upper house.

The Senate oversees the confirmation of federal judges and cabinet members, and having the 100-seat body in his corner will be a major boon for Mr. Biden.

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Wonkette Weekend Chat: How Freaking Scary Are Republicans?

A QAnon MAGA conspiracy theorist wanted to assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but settled for beating her elderly husband with a hammer. This is today’s GOP and it’s freaking scary. Robyn and I will do our best to make sense of this garbage fire. But fascism is coming for us and we’re all hiding in the spooky abandoned house.

This week’s Wonkette chat is live at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET. Like, share, subscribe, pitch us some dollars for doughnuts on Patreon.


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US rushes to assess new threats to lawmakers after Pelosi assault

Law enforcement officials across the country are scrambling to assess the threats of physical attacks on politicians or election officials in the coming days, according to two local officials and two other people familiar with the matter.

The growing anxiety comes just one day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was violently attacked in his San Francisco home. The alleged perpetrator, David DePape, reportedly entered the house attempting to locate the speaker, who at the time was in Washington D.C. The resulting attack sent shockwaves through California and the nation’s capital and raised difficult questions about the rise of threats against politicians and the precautions being taken to protect them.

Now, law enforcement officials are left trying to grasp whether there could be other threats to high-profile people involved in politics — and the scale of those threats — especially in the lead up to the elections on Nov. 8.https://7cf6fd18b9f08c6b5f9d7d89662be6d5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The increasing anxiety among local law enforcement comes just one day after the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Capitol Police and the National Counterterrorism Center issued an intelligence bulletin, first reported by POLITICO, outlining how violent extremists could pose a threat to the midterms, including to election workers.

“There have been a significant number of recent violent attacks motivated by political rhetoric and sociopolitical narratives promoted on extremist forums. The attack on Mr. Pelosi is just another on a growing list,” said John Cohen, the former counterterrorism chief at DHS. “These people are troubled, angry people who try to justify violence to express their anger. They are consuming content online put there by domestic and foreign threat actors.”

One person with direct knowledge of the law enforcement conversations said that groups and organizations, including local law enforcement that specialize in domestic threats, have been pressing the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for more briefings to discuss the current climate, which they say is unparalleled in the danger posed to lawmakers. Their concerns have only grown as the midterms have neared. But there have only been a handful of briefings in recent weeks — many of which focused primarily on cyber threats related to the midterm elections.

“It is unclear to what extent these threats to physical violence have grown in recent weeks as we get closer to the midterms,” the person said. “It would be useful to know about these kinds of things, especially for local law enforcement.”

Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI said their agencies “regularly” share information with and brief local law enforcement on threats.

Cohen said the traditional U.S. intelligence methodologies don’t always pick up on the kinds of domestic threats posed by those like DePape.

“The people who become attackers don’t communicate in the typical manner,” he said. “They don’t associate with terrorist organizations or extremist groups. It’s not that they aren’t on the radar, it’s that we’re looking at the right radar screen.”

2021 Brookings Institution study conducted after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol found conservative websites and political leaders, especially at the state and local level, “now regularly use violent rhetoric and demonize their political opponents” and that “incendiary rhetoric from political leaders against their political opponents” does not “fade away after they are given.”

Federal agents are helping investigate the attack on Speaker Pelosi’s husband, Paul, which took place at his home in the early hours of Friday morning and left him with a fractured skull.

The FBI confirmed to POLITICO that its San Francisco office is participating in a joint investigation into the attack alongside the San Francisco Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police.

The investigating agencies are currently working to determine both the chronology and motive of the attack. “The FBI is providing resources such as investigators and forensic analysis from our Evidence Response Team,” the FBI spokesperson said.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats had long warned that Pelosi, as the subject of unrelenting Republican attack ads and internet conspiracy theorists, was in particular danger. But there was also a larger concern that the modern political and media climates had created a situation in which lawmakers writ large were being increasingly targeted.

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Capitol Police investigated almost 10,000 threats to members last year, which was more than twice the number than in 2018, the last midterm cycle.

“It’s pretty frightening since Jan. 6,” said chief deputy whip Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). “I have had to have additional security measures at my own home. Of course, what we all worry about is that this sort of behavior typically can be ‘contagious.’ Terrible.”

“Of course, our biggest concern is with the welfare of Paul at this point,” Kildee said.

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